Welcome to episode 388, and the first of a four-episode special event: RWA: One Month Later.
I recorded this episode on the 23 of January, one month to the date when a decision from Romance Writers of America was delivered to Courtney Milan informing her that due to an ethics complaint, she was being barred from leadership for her lifetime, and suspended from RWA for one year. If you were online, you might have seen some mention of it.
In that month, a LOT happened. And while some major changes have taken place, there’s also a lack of movement, and a lot to discuss. So I wanted to create a time capsule of sorts to capture where we are right now, and more importantly, feature the stories and perspectives of those who were most intimately involved.
Because of the timeliness of these episodes, I’m doing a special miniseries: I’m releasing this episode on 31 January. Tomorrow, February 1, I have an interview with past president HelenKay Dimon, and then, February 2, I have a conversation with Jessie Edwards, RWA’s Marketing and PR Manager. Finally, on February 3, I have an interview with Courtney Milan.
Today, I’m speaking with C Chilove, Laurel Cremant, and Diana Neal, the officers of CIMRWA, the Cultural, Interracial, Multicultural Special Interest Chapter of Romance Writers of America. They created a petition to recall the sitting president of RWA – twice – in the two weeks after the decision about Courtney Milan was made public by Alyssa Cole. Their petition was ultimately successful and led to the resignation of Damon Suede.
I am so excited for you to meet the officers of CIMRWA. We’re going to hear about what happened from their perspective, and hear what a great team they are. They are incredibly inspiring to listen to as they support one another. AND THEN we end with KDrama AND book recommendations because obviously.
Don’t forget, there are more episodes coming. Check your podcast feed on February 1, 2, and 3 for the next episodes in this special series on RWA: One Month Later.
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Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to episode number 388 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, and the first of a four-episode special event: “RWA: One Month Later.” I recorded this episode on the 23rd of January, one month to the date when a decision from Romance Writers of America was delivered to Courtney Milan, informing her that due to an ethics complaint she was being barred from leadership for her lifetime and suspended from RWA for one year. If you are online, you may have heard something about it.
Now, in that month, a lot has happened. That decision was retracted, there were many resignations, and there have been some major changes. There’s also been a lack of movement, and there is a lot to discuss. So with this series, I wanted to create a time capsule of sorts to capture where we are right now, and more importantly, feature the stories and perspectives of those who were most intimately involved.
Because of the timeliness of these episodes, I’m doing a special miniseries. I’m releasing this episode on the 31st of January. Tomorrow, February 1st, I have an interview with RWA past President HelenKay Dimon. On February 2nd, I have a conversation with Jessie Edwards, RWA’s Marketing and PR Manager. And finally, on February 3rd, I have an interview with Courtney Milan.
Today I am speaking with C Chilove, Laurel Cremant, and Diana Neal, who are the officers of CIMRWA. CIMRWA is the Cultural, Interracial, Multicultural Special Interest Chapter of Romance Writers of America. They created a petition to recall the sitting president of RWA twice in the two weeks after the decision about Courtney Milan was made public by Alyssa Cole. Their petition was ultimately successful and led to the resignation of Damon Suede.
I am so excited for you to meet the officers of CIMWRA. We’re going to hear about what happened from their perspective, and we’re going to hear what a great team they are. They are incredibly inspiring to listen to as they support one another.
And do not worry: if you listen each week for book recommendations, we’re not only going to end with book recommendations, but we have a series of K-drama recommendations as well.
Please don’t forget to check your podcast feed February 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for the next episodes in this special series, “RWA: One Month Later.”
This episode is brought to you by Kensington’s newest title from Alexandra Ivy, The Intended Victim. New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Ivy proves her powers to terrify and titillate with a thrilling novel of pure romantic suspense about what happens when a vicious killer attempts to punish the one who got away. When lookalike corpses start piling up, one Chicago cop makes it his mission to protect that one, his former fiancée, and he’ll stop at nothing to put the madman behind bars for good. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jackson, Mary Burton, Allison Brennan, and anyone obsessed with True Crime podcasts, The Intended Victim by Alexandra Ivy is available wherever books are sold. Find out more at kensingtonbooks.com.
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This podcast series would not be possible without the generous time of everyone who participated and the podcast Patreon. Every episode in this series and every other episode I produce receives a transcript, and the podcast Patreon community helps make sure every episode is transcribed and accessible to everyone.
If you would like to join the Patreon community, have a look at patreon.com/SmartBitches. Monthly pledges begin at one dollar a month, and every pledge makes a deeply appreciated difference. So special thanks to the Patreon community for their support, which helps make this series possible.
I will have links to everything we talk about, all of the books and the dramas that we discuss, and I will have links to where you can find these writers online and where you can find CIMRWA.
Let’s get started with the first of a four-episode series, “RWA: One Month Later,” with the ladies who are the officers of CIMRWA.
C Chilove: So, hi, I’m C Chilove, and I am the past President for the Cultural, Interracial, Multicultural Romance Writers Chapter for RWA. I currently write sexy, thought-provoking, emotional romance, and mainly within the romantic suspense genre, as well as romantic mysticism.
Sarah: Ooh, hello!
Diana Neal: Look at you, looking, throwing words down like that! [Laughs]
Laurel Cremant: I know! I’m like, wow! And I’ve read your stuff, and I’m like, yeah! [Laughs]
C: You are a hot mess.
Laurel: [Laughs] So I guess I’ll go next. My name is Laurel Cremant. I am the current president for CIMRWA. I write contemporary romance and some paranormal. Those are my two loves. Within each genre, I tend to write it with a lot of snark and a lot of humor. I don’t know! What else can I say? You see, I can’t come up with, like, mysticism, mysticism or anything. Like, I just have snarky heroines who like dick jokes. Like, I don’t –
Diana: You need to work on that with your agent!
Diana: That’s a, like, you know, that is a thing. You need to work on that.
Well, I guess I will step up. My name is Diana. I don’t write under my own name; I write under the name Nicole Terry. I am the current President-Elect, past Treasurer of CIMRWA? I like to think of myself as the quiet one, the shy one, the dark horse of our bunch.
Diana: Yeah, stop laughing! I know! I can tell. Y’all are snickering in the background. I write –
Laurel: Yeah, you’re so quiet!
Diana: I really am! I write contemporary paranormal fantasy romance, although I’m currently only published in contemporary. I would personally call my books Southern Hot Mess. Someone else called them comedic, romantic comedy, comedic capers? Your mile-, your mileage may vary. Usually there’s going to be an explosion, because I love explosions. I try to fit one in every book, along with a Cherry Dr. Pepper, because I kind of believe in that. Think that’s it.
Sarah: No, I think that covers everything! We have snarky dick jokes, mysticism –
Sarah: I’m going to get so many email messages after this episode like, tell me all the names of the books. Like – they’ll be in the show notes; don’t worry!
So for people who are not familiar with RWA chapters, can you tell me what is CIMRWA – am I saying that right? Sim-row-ah? Sim-rah? Sim-rah.
Diana: Sim-rah; you’re saying it right. [Laughs]
Sarah: And what does CIMRWA do? Is it a virtual chapter online, or do y’all meet in person, or do you just sort of Skype and cause all kinds of mayhem that way?
Laurel: All of the above.
Diana: So I’ll let the current, I’ll let the current President answer for you.
Laurel: Well, because we’re an online chapter, we meet mainly online. So we use something similar to Skype to have our meetings. It’s how we use, do our board meetings and how we have our general meetings with our chapter members. And once a year we would – [laughs] – I’m laughing ‘cause of the, the crazy! – once a year we would meet in person at the RWA Nationals conference, sooo – like, as my voice drags on, ‘cause I’m like, and that’s not happening –
C: Yeah, and, and that may not, that may not happen this year, but per the, the bylaws for online chapters, you must meet once per year to hold an Annual General Meeting –
C: – and so most –
Sarah: Oh boy.
C: – online chapters within RWA, they utilize the time at Nationals for that AGM, because that’s going to be the time where you have most of your membership available to you to hold a meeting.
But also, Sarah, to answer your question, CIMRWA is the Cultural, Interracial, Multicultural Romance Chapter for RWA. So it focuses on individuals writing multicult-, essentially multicultural romance. I will say that the authors are very diverse within the CIMRWA chapter. You do not have to be a Black author or a Latin author or an Asian author. You can be a Caucasian author writing characters who embody multiculturalism or in interracial relationships, but it, it was made so that stories feature multiculturalism could have a voice, could have a chance, could have camaraderie, and it just so happens that a lot of our membership are women of color, but you did not have to be, or you, you don’t have to be a person of color or an author of color to be a part of the membership.
Sarah: So because I write rom-, I have written a romance with Jewish characters –
Sarah: – that falls under multiculturalism –
Diana and Laurel: Correct!
Sarah: – so I could join your chapter!
Sarah: So –
Diana: And you wouldn’t necessarily have to –
Diana: – write books about, you know, characters of multicultural. We have several authors who are members just because they believe in our mission and they, what we do. So –
C: That’s true.
Diana: – you know, there’s some that don’t write –
C: That’s true.
Diana: Yes, even though there are some that don’t write that way, they kind of, they offer support, and a lot of them promote and connect and network with our authors. You know, and, ‘cause isn’t our, one of our things is advocacy.
Laurel: Correct. Yeah, I was about to say, it is also about advocacy. So it’s not just about writing characters or storylines that feat-, feature multiculturalism, but also just general advocacy, if that’s something you believe in, because remember, like, in RWA, you’re joining a chapter not just for the networking but for the camaraderie and for finding a place where you can find a critique partner and things like that. So it’s not –
Laurel: – our chapter was never really meant to say, this is a chapter for, you know, authors of color. It was more along the lines of –
Laurel: – this is a chapter where we recognize that, like, books with characters that represent diversity are important, and, and collectively, we should advocate for that.
Sarah: So you’ve definitely done advocacy in the la- – do, do you guys know that, by the way, it is, today is the 23rd of January? All this brouhaha, mishegoss, ridiculousness has only been going on for one month. It was one month ago today that RWA –
Sarah: – contacted Courtney Milan to tell her that she was suspended.
Laurel: I want to say it’s been a hundred months, but that’s okay.
Diana: It feels like it, yeah! Yeah.
Sarah: How has it only been a month? How?!
Diana: Yeah. Hmm.
Sarah: That, that’s just absolutely bonkers to me. I do have a question, ‘cause you mentioned that the bylaws require you to meet in person, and you’re, doesn’t sound like you’re going to go to San Francisco this year. Doesn’t sound like much of anyone’s going to San Francisco this year. Has your chapter figured out how to address the requirement for an Annual General Meeting for your group? Can you figure that out, or is that something you’re talking about? ‘Cause I know there, that Las Vegas has voted to disband; other chapters are not sure what they’re doing. Do you know what your plans are?
Laurel: Well, right now we – so, in the past, actually, we’ve wanted to schedule a retreat for our members, and most likely in lieu of attending Nationals, we will schedule a writers retreat for our chapter, which will allow us to have that general membership meeting. So that’s most likely –
Laurel: – the vein we’re going to take, but we also have, we have a chapter meeting in February where we’ll kind of figure out the logistics of that. Like, we’re looking at different places; we’re looking at – like, I know my local chapter, but I, I don’t participate in it anymore, but my local, my local chapter used to have something once a year called a Super Saturday, so our thoughts so far have been trying to combine a writers retreat with at least, like, one day of, like, workshops or something –
Laurel: – and include our general meeting.
Sarah: That’s a very smart solution, especially with the absence created by people not going to RWA Nationals.
Sarah: People do want to see each other –
Sarah: – in person!
Sarah: Before I put together the questions that I sent you, I asked my podcast Patreon community of people who support the show, do you have any questions for the ladies of CIMRWA? And every single person asked me –
Sarah: – to tell you thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your incredible hard work. Not only did you create a recall petition, you created it twice, over a holiday break, gathering enough signatures on the internet during the holidays, and it was successful. And there are so many people who asked me to just tell you, thank you for what you did. It was incredible, and I hope you, I hope you have received that, that level of appreciation from other people, because really, what you did was extraordinary!
C: Well, thank you!
Laurel: And, yeah, thank you! It, it – we did get a lot of thanks and, and –
Laurel: – and we appreciate it, but I, I think, C and I have both come out and, and said multiple times that the whole purpose of our chapter was to do things like that and speak up particularly for things like that? So I think it’s also one of the reasons why, when this happened, we all collectively sat back and said, we can’t be silent. And it’s so funny that you mentioned –
Laurel: – that it happened over a holiday break, ‘cause we had just the right amount of timing where we, C and I were on vacation. We’d just taken vacation, so we were off for two weeks.
Laurel: ‘Cause we have book deadlines, and Diana –
Laurel: – was still working at the time, so –
Laurel: – so where, where, like, Diana, I feel like, was the voice of reason during the entire time, so while she was at work, C and I would just, like –
Diana: Just go funny.
Laurel: [Laughs] Just go, just go, just full speed, and we would get, like, at least one pho-, like, we would get in, I think, one or two phone calls a day. I feel like we were actually calling each other like ten times a day while this was happening, and Diana was –
Diana: Oh yeah.
Laurel: – the one who was like, hey, guys. So, I mean, have we looked at the –
Laurel: – forums? So have we looked at the bylaws? So – like, she was the voice of reason, I think, keeping us on track and reminding us exactly why we were doing everything, ‘cause it gets kind of wonky in that tornado, you know? ‘Cause you’re just going from moment to moment to moment?
Sarah: Ohhh yeah!
Laurel: And Diana’s not a big fan of being on social medial, so she was, like, that one calming factor, because she wasn’t in the middle of the crazy. She was –
Laurel: – she was outside of the social media firestorm. Yeah, I don’t think it, I don’t think it would have happened if that dynamic had, did not exist. Like, if it, I don’t think it would have happened that quickly if, if the dynamic hadn’t happened.
C: Yeah, I don’t think it would have happened, I don’t think it would have happened that quickly either. I think we, we saw when it first dropped, and then I think, honestly, for us, what, what, what really called us to action was when the group of seven resigned together.
Laurel: Oh, yeah.
C: So Chanta [Reed] resigned first, and then seven, the seven resigned as a group, and so for us, that was really a turning point, because all seven of those members were, all seven of those Board of Directors who resigned were CIMRWA members. And so –
Sarah: Oh wow!
C: – that was a huge problem, and some of those individuals, we have nurtured relationships with since we’ve been in office? They’ve – I mean, friendships exist; camaraderie is there. It was really hard. It was really hard to see that happen, and so at that point, that’s when we knew that something had to be done, and we didn’t, we didn’t believe it could just be something we tweeted or we said. Laurel and Diana and I, we’re, we’ve always been about action, and so we were like, okay, how we, how do we take care of this?
C: And so we started trying to figure out ways to, to help. And that’s what propelled us to move forward and take action –
C: – and go with the petition.
Laurel: And, and what’s so crazy is I remember that moment when I think they – [laughs] – so C messaged me because RWA had just released yet another announcement that basically told us nothing.
Sarah: Yeah. There were several of those.
Laurel: And – yes. I mean, I feel like this has been every announcement, but specifically –
Laurel: – they, all they, the only thing that had come out at that point was that they’d rescinded the decision regarding Courtney. There was no apology, and there –
Laurel: – there’s so many things wrong with that, so we’ll, we’ll get into the nuances of that if we –
Laurel: – whatever. But we’d already been going through the bylaws and seeing, like, if they don’t respond –
C: Well, we put a pause, we paused that, remember, because on that communication that you’re referring to –
C: – that’s when we lost our shit – ooh, am I allowed to cuss?
Sarah: Please cuss –
Sarah: – as much as you wish.
C: Oh, okay, okay.
Sarah: Bring it on!
Diana: Oh yay! I was hoping! [Laughs]
C: So that communication was when we literally lost our shit, because it –
C: – it legit says President Suede, and Diana and I –
C: – rolling off the, the, The Return of the Jedi Star Wars, we’re like, oh, he’s now like fucking Palpatine. He has to go! So –
Laurel: I can’t, can I tell you, till this day I still haven’t seen Star Wars, because of this? I blame – [laughs] – I blame RWA.
Diana: You, you still haven’t seen The Rise of Skywalker?
Diana: Come on!
Laurel: I still haven’t.
Diana: Come on!
Laurel: You know why? Because I’m behind on my deadline, so I have to dedicate all this –
Laurel: – frigging time. I’m not allowed –
Diana: Oh, psshh!
Laurel: – personal time until I make my number. Yep!
Diana: Aw! I feel so sad for you!
Laurel: I feel sad for me too!
Diana: That’s so sad!
Laurel: So – [laughs] – but yes, C is a hundred percent right.
C: So yeah, so that communication was a whole lot of nothing, but the way he, the way his name was signed and the tone from that letter –
Sarah: Oh yeah.
C: – it was just, it was, it was just like, okay, so you’re not going to offer any apologies; you don’t care that these seven highly qualified, elected people have just resigned; and this is the tone that you want to set for this national organization.
Laurel: Yes, and at that point, Carolyn Jewel had already stepped down. Yeah, and we already looked at the bylaws by then, and I remember somebody messaging me privately going, so should we be doing a petition? [Laughs] And, and we went back and forth, and I’m like, yeah, we should. So then I sent a tweet, and I’m like, I feel like it’s time for a recall. I don’t even know exactly what I wrote; I just know it said recall. And then all of a sudden, everybody’s like, yeah, recall! And I’m like, oh crap, I guess we have to do a recall –
Laurel: – but that was our next, I think, twenty-four, forty-eight hours?
Sarah: Yeah! And the thing is –
Sarah: – what you did is you gave a call to action to everyone who felt angry and powerless, because I mean –
Sarah: – that letter, especially the one about, you know, people are being very unkind, well, of course they’re being unkind! They’re really angry because you’re fucking up!
Sarah: Like, of course!
C: You’re right. That part –
C: – exactly.
Sarah: And –
Sarah: – so you, you had this opportunity that you took so very well to take all of this rage and outrage and anger and feelings of complete helplessness, ‘cause it was utter chaos, and then the responses coming from National were just completely unable to read the room in any room.
Sarah: And you were like, okay, here’s what we do. Here is what we can do. Here is where we can take power back.
Sarah: Now, Diana, was it you who read the bylaws and was like, all right, this is how we recall?
Diana: Oh, oh no.
Sarah: This is how we do this.
Diana: No, no, no. I don’t have a brain for that? Mm-mm. I passed that onto the higher powers?
Diana: No, that would, that would be the, C and Laurel.
C: Yeah, no, so I was sitting between, between Laurel and I, yeah. It was between Laurel and I. We sat down and we started to read the bylaws, and then we went into the – the PPM is really where you had to go, because the bylaws only stated that he could be recalled. The PPM explained how it had to happen. And so –
Sarah: And that’s the Policy and Procedures Manual.
C: Correct, the Policy and Procedures Manual. So we read over that.
Sarah: Very scintillating! Lots of romance, very sexy.
C: Yeah. Not at all, girl.
Laurel: [Laughs] Yeah.
C: I was focused. It, it, you know, it was, you know, it, it was one of those things where, I don’t think at the time we were mad? I feel like we were more aggravated –
C: – that we were having to even use our holiday time over something like that?
Sarah: Oh my gosh, yes.
C: And then I know for Laurel and I, I know I had taken off, I was off from work, so I was, like, legit sitting at my desk about to write. My agent was waiting for some stuff from me, and I told, I had just told her, I’ve got to do my shit before –
C: – and then here we go, boom. This is it; this is what happened? So it was definitely interesting, and I know Laurel was in the same spot! She literally had taken off because she had deadlines to meet as well, and so it was, I think at the time it was definitely more aggravating. We weren’t really angry per se. We were upset that, at what had happened but we had channeled all the emotions that we had into just staying focused and reading the bylaws, and we were up late, and Laurel’s right: we were calling each other probably –
C: – ten times a day on the phone. Like, it was ridiculous.
C: But yes, I definitely would say – I know you asked, are we still tired? Hell yeah, I’m still tired, because –
Laurel: Oh, so tired!
Diana: As Laurel said, it feels like –
C: Yeah, but it’s –
Diana: – it’s been a hundred months. Oh!
C: – but it’s, it was one of those things, we had to do it.
Sarah: Yeah! Did you think that, when you started it, did you think, this is going to work, this is going to happen, this is going to be a success, or were you sort of prepared for something to go sideways? ‘Cause I know that the first version, you had to redo it and do it again, right?
C: Well, mm.
Laurel: Yeah. I mean, so the first one, we, we based the collection on what we saw in the bylaws.
C: In the bylaws, right.
Laurel: In the bylaws, and then we started hearing noises, people started reaching out to us saying like, hey, we think that most likely it’s not going to be accepted because the, the PPM, the Policy and Procedures, have, have a whole bunch of nuances? So technically, even if you’ve collected the right amount of signatures, if you don’t do it exactly per the policy, the policy manual, they have every right to reject the petition.
Laurel: So –
C: Well, not only that they had every right, that they were waiting –
C: – because they had been watching us, and so they were waiting to reject.
Laurel: Yeah. I mean, I had people saying things in the PAN loops, going, I don’t think this is going to work. So as soon as we realized – like, I know there were at least two or three posts about that – so as soon we realized that was going to be a condition, we’re like, okay, we’re going to scour the PPM. We’re going to go – oh my God –
Laurel: – section by section.
Laurel: We redid the petition. I think we redid the petition within twenty-four hours –
Laurel: – and we had already gotten twelve hundred signatures –
Sarah: Whoa! Cool!
Laurel: So we’re on vacation, and it was just, we were just lucky that in the first petition we had asked for people’s email addresses.
Diana: Yeah, I was going to say you did, you sent out what, how many hundreds of emails?
Laurel: Oh my God, it was so bad. It was a lot. And, and because our email server, like, it wasn’t set up for that, they thought we were spamming people.
C: It crashed, yeah.
Laurel: – to wait to send them in batches.
Sarah: Oh, ‘cause that’s just what you want to do with your vacation time is send emails –
Laurel: [Laughs] Right.
Sarah: – in twenty-five set batches. Sure, absolutely!
C: Right. And then it, it was, it was a hot-ass mess, put it that way.
Laurel: Yeah. It was.
Sarah: So I want you to know that my RWA membership expired on the 31st of December of 2019, and I renewed it at like, 4:59 p.m. on the 31st of December because I wanted my signature to be valid for the recall, which I don’t think had been ratified at that time. And I was so creative in my cursing as I typed in my credit card number?
Sarah: That was the most resentful ninety-nine dollars I have ever fucking spent in my life, and I exist –
Laurel: Oh God!
Sarah: – for this next year, for the next three hundred and sixty however many odd days, I exist to be a royal pain in the ass –
Diana: Aw! Me too, me too!
Sarah: – to make that ninety-nine dollar worth it! [Laughs]
Laurel: What’s really interesting, like, so many people have told us that that I think this’ll probably be the first year in a very long time for people who have, who remain members, who are literally asking RWA, what are you doing for me? And I think this is the first time –
Laurel: – in a long time that people are asking that question. ‘Cause –
Laurel: – a lot of us kind of took advantage of the fact that, oh, it’s, it’s a place for all the writers to get together, and I will say one thing, going through those bylaws? No. RWA was supposed to be doing a whole lot more for us all this time that they have not been.
C: Yes, and they have not, especially when you consider the Dreamspinner issue with –
C: – with –
C: And, and there’s some really close friends of ours who are affected by that, so when you consider the fact that they had reached out for assistance, and assistance had previously been given, you know, to issues with Samhain, Ellora’s Cave, Cocky-gate, you, you know, they, they had been an advocate for their authors, and then to think when the whole Dreamspinner Press issue, they had been dead silent. So you know, it was just one, it’s just one of those things that kind of just made people aware of the benefits that we were supposed to be getting that we were not getting, but now we’re questioning if we even need them for it, because a lot of us have formed so, so, so many substantial relationships –
C: – that honestly, we may not even need them, R, an RWA per se, to continue to grow and develop and, you know, fellowship with our fellow authors.
Sarah: That’s what I said when I was asking, you know, who does RWA serve? And does it even know at this point? And the trick –
Sarah: – the, the, the horrible trick is that, in order to be a chapter member, you have to be a National member.
Sarah: You can’t just –
Sarah: – join a chapter; you have to be a member of National.
C: A lot of chapters have to encourage people to have an opportunity to stay through the transition. They’ve lowered their dues.
C: Before I left office, we lowered the dues to a dollar for CIMRWA, and it used to be twenty-five?
C: So a dollar due makes it, makes it a little more easier to, you know, tolerate and see what is taking place?
C: So that you can still feel like you have a community of people that you can talk to –
C: – while this is happening.
Sarah: So this is a hard question: what would you guys like to see happen next? As of right now –
C: Oh, that’s easy for me.
Sarah: As of right now, there’s an interim director. There, the Executive Director resigned but is still there temporarily.
Sarah: But what would you like to see happen next?
C: Who wants to go first?
Diana: Who’s the most tactful?
Laurel: I’m going to let you go first.
Diana: C’s got it!
Laurel: Set us, set the tone.
C: Oh God. Y’all are funny. I will say – and I’m not going to speak for Laurel and Diana, but I will say what I personally would like to see happen is that I, I would honestly like to see a special election occur. It’s not exactly written into the bylaws, but I think because membership is at a point where we don’t trust leadership, we need to be able to have a democratic process to where we get a say in who we want our leadership to be.
And in part of having that process, every single last person on that board needs to be gone. Every last one of them. There are people on that board who do not even have chapter leadership experience. There’s a person on that board who writes reverse racism. There are people on that board who have been condescending and have always used very, very bitter tones and came off as being, having microagressions in the PAN loop. All of those people need to be gone. Nobody trusts them; at least nobody within the circles we run in trusts them. They were all appointed by Damon except for one. The only person who was not an appointee is Hanna Rhys. Everybody else was appointed to that board, and everybody else needs to go, because that is not the will of the membership. So I would just like to see them gone and a democratic process.
I’m actually very happy about Leslie. Leslie Scantlebury has always been an advocating and an ally to members. She’s a remarkable person. She’s upstanding. I do believe she will help to move them in a right direction, but right now that is the only good thing that I see that has happened at Nationals.
Laurel: Yeah, I would, I would have to agree with everything you just said, and just add that, you know, I’m the Gemini of the group, so I’m the one who’s constantly going from the, the standpoint of, oh yes, like, let, let’s, let’s wait and see –
Laurel: – versus let’s burn it to the ground. So that’s where I fluctuate to –
Laurel: – like, from second to second?
Sarah: I am, I am also a Gemini? I know all the words to that song.
Sarah: Burn it down! No, wait. Burn it down! Nononono wait! No, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Put the match down! No, no, no, no, no! We’ve got to burn it down!
Laurel: Exactly! [Laughs] Exactly. Which is why having C and Di-, Diana –
Diana: Yes! [Laughs]
Laurel: – around has always been so great for me? It’s a great balance. [Laughs] So I will say that everything to what C just said, but I would also say a failing that I’ve always felt exists in RWA is the fact that they, they use the words to say, you know, these are our ethics and these are our values –
Laurel: – yet they don’t hold anybody accountable to them.
Diana: Thank you, that right there. There’s no –
Sarah: Yes, thank you!
Laurel: Yeah. So whenever somebody calls out bad behavior – exactly! Whenever anybody gets called out for bad behavior, what the person who’s doing the calling out is told is, well, we need, we need to wrap our arms around this person and show them the way, and –
C: Pssh! Show them the damn door.
Sarah: Be nice.
Laurel: Which makes – be nice – which makes no sense, because now you’re asking a person who’s been hurt, harmed, or offended to help the person who has, who is the offender.
Laurel: And that creates –
Sarah: Be nice!
Laurel: Yeah – it creates a horrible, it creates horrible optics, and all it does is teach the person who is constantly causing offense that it’s okay; I’m going to get a pass. There’s –
Laurel: We don’t have, like, a two-strikes-you’re-out, three-strikes-you’re-out. We have an infinity-strikes.
Laurel: You can just –
Laurel: – keep on offending, and as long as you write, as long as you write the words, I’m sorry this offended you –
Laurel: – [laughs] – it’s okay. And half the time, they’d only do that. You know, I’m sorry –– it’s, I’m sorry you found this offensive, not, not even taking responsibility for the fact that they said something offensive. And so for me, one of the steps that RWA really needs to take is start ha-, holding their members accountable to the code of ethics and the values that they say they uphold.
Laurel: Until they do that, then it’s never going to be a safe place for anyone. We’re in RWA not for politics. We don’t want to dis-, we don’t want to be discussing diversity! We want to be discussing writing! We want to be discussing our career. But if all of that somehow enters this sphere and there’s nobody there to say, okay, that’s wrong, there’s not basic moderation within RWA.
Laurel: Just barebones.
Laurel: But Sarah, I was on your –
Diana: Educated moderation.
Laurel: Correct! I was on your blog – ugh! – I want to say like a couple weeks ago – again, everything’s a blur – but –
Sarah: [Laughs] What is time anymore?
Sarah: How is it still January?!
Laurel: But on the, you have a post regarding the situation at RWA, and there is –
Laurel: – a particular person that kept on coming up in the comments, and real quick you checked them, and then they came back and did it again, and you’re like, okay. Well, thanks for, thanks for coming, buh-bye, and they were –
Sarah: Actually, I remember writing that, because my kids were like, oh my God, Mom, you have angry face!
Sarah: Because when I wrote, I said, what did I just say? You are not welcome to bring this bullshit. What did I just – my kids were like, oh shit, Mom’s mad! And I’m like –
Sarah: – I’m just mad at the internet, kids; it’s okay. [Laughs]
Laurel: Yeah, but it’s –
C: That’s funny.
Laurel: Look how simple that was. You checked the person; you told them, like, hey, this is not the space for this. Like, no. Show some respect. They came back –
Laurel: – did it again, and you’re like, okay. Well, thanks for coming. You are now barred. Like, that’s it!
Laurel: And RWA is, it’s impossible for them to grasp that concept, and I don’t know if it’s a combination of not wanting to hurt people’s feelings – and, and this is me giving people the benefit of the doubt –
Laurel: – because I know part of it is ‘cause there’s some people who agree with these, with some of these offensive things, but assuming – [laughs] – it’s not about – I, I want to believe it’s just the fact that they, they can’t grasp basic discipline. That’s the nicest thing I can say, that they can’t grasp basic discipline and moderation.
Sarah: I, I think that Be Nice mandate has operated in romance for so long, but you have to be able to say, this is okay, and this is not –
Sarah: – okay.
Sarah: And the idea that everyone has to be nice, and we all have to be kind and respected, that’s just maintaining a status quo of a power differential that puts everyone –
Sarah: – in the margins at risk, and it’s not okay.
C: Well, I think, too, it, you, you know, it’s the whole Nice White Lady-ism situation taking place because it’s not, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s hard to police a person whose attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs may be that of your own? And so that wh-, that’s where that lack of moderation comes in? And of, and if you think about what happened with Courtney, that’s why it made it so easy to, you know, bring up a complaint and try to get her thrown out, if you will. So it’s, it’s a, you know, we keep hearing in, in some of the groups that we’re in right now, we keep hearing people talking about, oh, DEI and training, and you know, one of the things that people always have to understand is it’s beyond DEI and training. You, you, you can’t change a person’s core beliefs. You can make sure that they have a standard, and if you hold them accountable for the things that they do, then that’s, then that’s where it begins, because if there’s no consequences, the con-, the behaviors are going to continue to perpetuate themselves, and RWA, even if they rise from the ashes of this situation, will be back in that same place within the next few years.
Sarah: Mm-hmm. And I – when you don’t check someone’s racism or –
Sarah: – anti-Semitism or Islamophobia or core –
Sarah: – or homophobia, when you don’t check that, what you’re saying is –
Sarah: – it’s okay.
Sarah: And when you create an ar-, a space where that’s permitted, peo-, I, I – like, like you, Laurel, I have that, that sort of, oh, you know, let’s give people the benefit of the doubt – nope, burn it, burn it all down.
Sarah: I have that, I have that push-pull all the time, and more and more I think, no, people actually know that what they are saying is wrong –
C: Correct. I agree with that.
Sarah: – and the beliefs that they are holding are wrong, but they’ve recognized where they can and can’t –
Sarah: – say these things and act this way out loud, and I don’t like that RWA is a space where it’s allowed for people to feel safe to act that way out loud with their whole face. Like, no, no –
Sarah: – nope, I did not pay ninety-nine whole entire dollars to be part of that!
Sarah: Now, Diana, I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I do want to ask you, what do you want to happen now?
Diana: See, well –
Sarah: You want to burn it all down? Is it time for s’mores? I love a good s’mores bonfire!
Diana: Well, marshmallows have been mentioned. This is –
Diana: – this is kind of where I’m in, I’m in a, I’m in the, the quiet spot because I, I’m not in a good place? I have actually entered the burn-it-down camp. One of my biggest pet peeves is, this is the way we’ve always done it. Let’s, let’s keep the, you know, this, let’s maintain some tradition. You know, we need to respect this, and I understand that, but I feel like in this case –
Sarah: Oh my God, I wish you could see my face right now.
Diana: I, I get it, I get it –
Diana: – but on the other hand, I’m also – and forgive me here – I just want the big, giant hand, like either it’s a green hand from space or Jesus himself just to come down and just start whupping some ass! At Nationals, I don’t –
Diana: Now, you can, you can take that however you will. This, we’ve stagnated. We’ve, we fell into this big hole that, you know, this is the way things are done. You know, we seem to regurgitate the same people –
Diana: – and the same ideas, and I think it’s time for a –
Diana: – a complete change of things?
Diana: So I don’t know what this means: I’m a Pisces?
Diana: Sometimes, most times I can usually see both sides of this, but for a while now I have been, you know, in our, in our text conversations, one of my favorite GIFs is Darya watching things burn. I use that one a lot. Yeah, I have, I have entered the burn-it-down camp, just because, you know, we live –
C: Actually, my favorite one was the one with – my favorite one that you recently sent was the one with Homer Simpson –
Diana: Oh yeah!
C: – burning the bridge.
Diana: Yep. Yeah. Yeah, that was a good one. But you know, we live in the mountains, you know, and I won’t, I won’t be, I’m not an authority on the outdoors, but you know, sometimes you have to burn some things for better things to grow! And that’s, that’s where I have, I have reached that stage. I mean, I don’t know what –
And this is something we’ve discussed amongst ourselves too is, you know, how can we, you know, say, well, you know, what change can happen for us to know that RWA has, has made the strides that they need to? You know, what do I need to see before I feel comfortable saying, okay, let’s do this? And I, I don’t know. It’s something I ask myself daily, and it’s something I ask them, you know. They say I’m the voice of reason, which is a freaking lie! You know.
Diana: It’s a freaking lie!
Laurel: Well, when you’re not, when you’re –
Laurel: – when you’re not in burn-it-down mode.
Diana: When I’m not in burn-it-down mode, I just, I mean, I don’t know.
Sarah: I do not know either. I am in a very similar position to you. I, I know that this is untenable and it is unacceptable, and I don’t want to lose what, what the, what the organization on the national level is supposed to be doing?
Sarah: I don’t want to lose that, but I don’t see how to get it back, and I don’t see how to go forward either, but I also have not read all of the bylaws and the, and the very sexy, incredibly erotic Policy and Procedures Manual.
Sarah: I have not read all that, so I don’t know all the details.
Now, I know that this experience had to have been extremely draining –
Sarah: – and I want to ask you, what do you do to take care of yourselves, at a time like this and in general when you’re writing? What do you do to look after yourselves, because what you did was really, really hard?
Diana: [Laughs] Sorry. So –
C: I’ll let Laurel go first. Laurel, you go first.
Laurel: Thanks. [Laughs] I, I, I will admit that I think, I think it was two or three days after – no, like four days after the petition was sent, I had a complete power-down moment. I’m usually incredibly energetic?
Laurel: I’m that person who, if the sun is out, I’m awake. It doesn’t take me ramp-up time to get up in the morning –
Diana: Yes, she is!
Laurel: – I’m just up. And I’ve shared –
Laurel: – [laughs] – I’ve shared a room with these two ladies, so they know.
Laurel: It’s like, if I’m awake, I’m up and doing things. But I had a day where I really felt like all systems down, and I completely vegetated. I watched all of The Witcher in one sitting, and I, I became one with the couch.
Diana: Oh, mm-hmm!
C: Stop talking about my baby daddy, Laurel, but go ahead.
Diana: There were some nice GIFs of him too on there. Mm.
Laurel: There were. I mean, to be fair, I have watched it two more times for actual plot and recognition since then? But –
Laurel: [Laughs] I did! I actually know the plot now! I’m very proud of myself.
Laurel: And after that, really, it was just, it was – believe it or not, it was reading? Reading again helped? And then a couple of K-dramas, but I will say, reading, ‘cause that, reading has always been a really great escape for me? So after I got, you know, I, I pepped up from my power-down, the first thing I did was open my Kindle and start reading, and that really, really helped, and then I had to go back to work, so – [laughs] – it was kind of like, I had, like, that day and a half of get myself right, then I ran right back into work, but since then it actually, I’ve been trying to dedicate – right now I have a writing deadline, and normally I would write in the morning and the evening, but I’ve been trying to dedicate every other evening with some actual self-care, so whether it’s like rewarding myself with a couple chapters of a book or rewarding myself with, by saying, tonight I’m going to watch those, like, three episodes of a K-drama, then I’ll do that, ‘cause I think mentally I was just completely drained.
Laurel: But I feel like I’m, I’m relatively back to normal, but I’ve also had to take a bit of a social media break, because I don’t think I’ve been on social media that much in my entire life than I was in those two weeks.
Sarah: And it was really easy to get back in the habit of looking at it every twelve seconds, right?
Laurel: Yeah, and I was like, nope!
Diana: Oh yeah!
Laurel: So I had to, I silenced –
C: It is, damn.
Laurel: I –
Laurel: – I, I muted a lot of conversations I was in on Twitter, and at one point I had to completely uninstall Twitter from my phone, ‘cause I realized that I was constantly checking?
Laurel: But it was one, it was one of those things; I had to detox myself.
Laurel: And now I feel, I, I feel a little better now. Now I’m still checking –
Laurel: – in on things, but I feel like I also – it’s not that the sense of urgency isn’t there, because in some ways I almost feel like it’s more so now? Because now that the petition is over, Damon is gone, and these things are happened, now, for me, the sense of urgency is, can RWA be saved? Whereas before, we were trying to get it to the point –
Laurel: – where we could ask that question, if that makes any sense.
Sarah: No, that makes total sense! Absolutely! Diana, what about you? What do you do –
Diana: Oh, well –
Sarah: – to look after yourself?
Diana: [Laughs] I, I’m a very selfish individual?
Diana: They, they can both tell you that I never left the self-care aisle? This time last year I fell into an East Asian television hole and never left?
Diana: But I don’t do social media –
Diana: – if, like, at all, so that helps.
Diana: But I will say, you know, besides the over-indulgence in East Asian television again, K-dramas – awesome! – the biggest thing for me is I’m addicted to my email? I’m tied to my email either through work – you know, it’s on my phone – and the PAN forums? The forums that the, my inbox are just, it’s, I mean, I’ll be frank, it’s a bunch of the –
Diana: – same shit every single day. You’ve got the same people saying the same stuff, and then the other people saying, but no, nononono! That’s not what was meant! Nononono. And it’s just arguing back and forth, and I don’t have time for that? Because it’s just, it’s frustrating, you know, and I feel bad for the people who are, you know, constantly defending it, because it’s work! I just, I don’t, I don’t do social media anymore, and I don’t, I don’t check my PAN forums. I just kind of just go click, click, click, click. And then of course, you know, console myself –
Diana: – at 3 a.m. with a Thai drama perhaps.
Sarah: I don’t know; I think not being on social media is a very good form of self-care.
Sarah: ‘Cause I mean, Twitter can be a very toxic id.
Diana: Yes. Yes, and, and I’m not one of those individuals –
C: Yeah, it can be.
Diana: – who works well without an editor and like thirty minutes to mull over a response, and with certain types of social media, you need to be able to be quick-witted, you know, quick with your responses and fast with your thumbs, and I’m none of those.
Diana: I am not; I –
Sarah: Fast with your thumbs; it’s so true!
Diana: Well, I mean, everything I do is on my phone, because I’ll admit, I don’t have the internet at my house. So everything I do is via my phone, and so if I can’t do it within a, you know, so many characters, which is why I love GIFs because, you know, usually, you know, my brain tied to my thumbs, I just, I’m tied to that, and I don’t want to do anything that’s, you know, will just come back to haunt me!
Laurel: You are a master at sending images, though. Your, like, your gifs.
Diana: I’m, I’m a giver of, I am the giver of GIFs. I am.
C: Yeah, she really is.
Diana: It’s my superpower.
Sarah: C, what about you? What do you do to look after yourself when everything is on fire?
C: I, I actually meditate. So I usually just, you know, kind of meditate in the mornings to kind of reset the day, and I will say, after everything that happened with the whole RWA shitstorm, I’m just grateful that I was around family during the holiday season. You know, they can always kind of, you know, they bring the stress levels off, so my two children, my husband, our little dog, you know, just taking time to be with them. And usually to recharge my, my –
C: – my writing brain, I like to go run or go, go walk, and that usually starts the ideas into coming back, and I’ll start listening to music, and then I can get back into the groove of things. I will say, with the social media, I too had to let it go. I’m not a big social media person. I really actually hate it –
C: – and Laurel knows the whole time I complained that I had to be on social media, ‘cause I really, I’m, I’m, I’m just not that person? I just feel like it disconnects people from the people in front of them. So, you know, not really being on social media, meditating, and just, just taking time to be with my family, it, it’s, it’s really good for me, because it helps me to recenter and focus myself and my energy.
Sarah: It can be very easy to think, okay, this thing that’s in front of me is the whole world.
Sarah: And it’s important, and what you did was absolutely vital, and I think that when people look at the history of RWA, whether it continues or whether it ends, what you did is going to be a truly important part of the history of the organization. It’s, that is, that is not to say that social media and the interaction of people is the only thing that matters. There are –
Sarah: – other parts of your life that need to be in contact with those parts as well, and it’s very easy to lose sight of that when everything’s like, oh my gosh!
Sarah: Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh My Gosh! Oh my God! Did you see this?! And for a while there it was every twenty-five minutes, something else horrendous was happening.
Diana: It made me grateful my bosses at work were very understanding. As I said, I was at work during this period, ‘cause you know, I work, I work for the state, and you don’t get holidays like you do everywhere else. And I was very grateful, ‘cause at one point I looked at her and said, I’m going to have to be on my phone a lot. I apologize in advance. And when I explained to her what was going on, she was like, okay. Do what you do. I was grateful!
Sarah: Yep. Listen, this part of my world is burning down at the moment. I need to either figure out whether to get tinder –
Sarah: – or to get a hose. One of these two things.
Sarah: Now –
Sarah: – I always ask what you’re working on as a writer, what you’re reading, but several of you have mentioned K-dramas and Thai dramas –
Sarah: – and I want to ask you for recommendations? Is there one that you recommend?
Laurel and Diana: Oh no!
C: Oh my gosh!
Sarah: Listen –
C: Oh my gosh, Diana –
Laurel: Diana, calm down. Keep it at a minimum.
C: Please, Diana –
Diana: Well, it’s funny because –
C: – we love you.
Diana: I, I will keep it calm. I will keep it calm, but it’s funny because what is it, what, was it last, last summer? C was like, we were, she was texting me something, and she’s like, well, have you heard of this? And I was like, oh yeah! It took me three weeks to fricking download that thing because of the internet! And you know, I’m texting her, and she goes, nononono, hold on, and she calls me. She says, here, I’m going to put you on the phone with my hairdresser, because she was, wanted to talk to you about this. I have no idea what’s going on.
Diana: So I –
Laurel: Oh my gosh.
Diana: – recommendation. It just depends on how your mileage varies –
Diana: – because I have, I’ve, I’m a really big fan of the weird ones?
Laurel: Go off.
Diana: Not just the weird ones, but, like, the dramas that just make you cringe and your heart clench and your brain go, huh? Oh! Oh, but I, I will save mine. I, I, I know Laurel finished one, ‘cause we were talking about it yesterday.
Laurel: Oh! [Laughs] Yes! Yeah, well, also, I feel like your list is way longer.
C: Diana has an exhaustive list, yes.
Diana: Well, I’m a lib-, I’m a librarian in my day job, so one of the things, you know –
Laurel: You curate!
Diana: You, when people ask me, you know, oh, would you have this? Yeah, I do! Thank you! I’m going to use that word later. I’m a curator!
Laurel: Yes! You’re a curator of drama.
Sarah: It’s not an obsession if you’re a librarian; it’s curation! Absolutely.
Diana: It’s called research if you’re a writer too!
Sarah: Darn tootin’!
Sarah: All right, Laurel, which one do you need to tell us about?
Laurel: So the two, like, one was a fantasy that I really liked and I got obsessed with until the very end. It was the, The Bride of Habaek? But I think it’s also, depending on where you are, it’s also the Bride of the Water Demon? [Bride of the Water God] Aside from the fact that, as, as usual for these dramas, everybody’s beautiful, even the people who are not supposed to be beautiful, who they’re trying to convince us are disgusting looking –
Laurel: – are beautiful. [Laughs]
Diana: He looked so good in that makeup.
Laurel: Oh, he did! And I, I tend to like a lot of fantasy, so I really liked this particular one. It’s basically about a water god, who I guess he’s been told he’s going to be the god of gods, but he needs to complete a mission in the world of humans, and whoa! He, you know, passes over the threshold, and ha-ha-ha-ha! Falls in love with a human. So – [laughs] –
Diana and Laurel: Oops!
Laurel: Yeah! And it’s, I actually really liked it because the, because the water god is that asshole hero, and he, he’s just –
Laurel: – so conceited, and, like, I, that’s like catnip for me? I’m like, oh, look at him! Look at his mouth twitching ‘cause he wants to smile, but he knows he shouldn’t, but he wants to so much, because the heroine makes him smile. Like, that, that gets me every time.
And so then after that, I watched Cinderella and the Four Knights, which is – and I know I’m going to pronounce it incorrectly, but I’m, I’m not even going to bother trying it. But no, I’m going to try it. The Chaebol heirs? It focuses on these three grandsons –
Laurel: Chae Bol? Was that right? Yeah. So it focuses on three grandsons –
Diana: Yeah. Conglomerate heirs!
Laurel: Yes, conglomerate heirs. These three grandsons, who are heirs to this huge conglomerate, and basically they’ve just been behaving badly, and the grandfather hires this super spunky, no-holds-barred girl who, to, to basically get them in line? So she’s only nineteen or twenty I think when this all starts, and obviously all three of the grandsons are hot, because why wouldn’t they be? And –
Sarah: As you do.
Laurel: Exactly! They’re all hot and rich. I think, I think romance authors gravitate towards K-dramas because they duplicate what we read already? Like, what –
Sarah: Oh yeah!
Laurel: It’s so funny that these three grandsons are all the same age, they’re all super rich, and oh my God, they’re all eligible. Wow. [Laughs]
Sarah: Yes, we call those sequel bait.
Laurel: [Laughs] Exactly. Anyway –
Diana: Oh yeah!
Laurel: – she ends up falling, falling for the guy, for the – I think there’s actually only one sweet grandson, but the grandson who was a particularly, like, the douchiest grandson is the one she ends up with, because of course he didn’t mean to be a douche; he was just, like, a douche until she, she made him not one, and – [laughs] – and I loved it, and I don’t, I, I can’t explain these things.
Diana: Well, I can! I can, because this is –
Laurel: Those are my two.
Diana: – this is my wheelhouse. This is my wheelhouse, because, you know, I know, I’ve, I have thought about this like you just don’t know, because these two girls are always on me with text messages: hey, did you write on your book? Hey, did you do this? And I’m like, no, of course not! I was busy! Research! So I’ve had to come up with numerous excuses to justify me watching this, this, like, high level of East Asian television. Like, I have, like, six apps on my phone personally.
Sarah: Should we just do a, a whole separate episode of you talking about dramas?
Diana: You –
Laurel: Oh, you should, ‘cause she’s watched, like, all of them.
Diana: Like, let me tell you –
C: Oh my gosh!
Diana: – really, I tried to present, you know, before all this went down, a writing workshop for Nationals on how to add C-drama and K-drama elements to your writing to kind of like make them pop? Which I thought, I had to –
Diana: – stop myself from that, because I thought, okay, this, this, I might need to, need to step back from this. But I would, I would happily do that, because it’s an obsession for me, and I’m lucky enough that I have no impulse control, so I just let myself go –
Diana: – with whatever.
Sarah: Well, you know, if you hold that retreat, you could make a whole section of it –
Diana: C –
Sarah: – K-drama –
Diana: Yes, C tells me all the time that I’m a hot mess –
Diana: – that I’m just a big, giant hot mess, and I’m like, I know, but it’s okay, because I’m not hurting anybody!
Sarah: So I want to ask each of you, what are you working on with your writing, and what book do you want to tell people about? Anybody can go first; it’s open floor.
Laurel: C, ‘cause I, I’ve read your one, something you’re working on, and I’m really excited about it.
C: Yes, I’ll go first. I have two projects right now. One project is, it’s a contemporary with suspense elements –
C: – featuring black ops, interracial romance. Very excited about that one. And the other project that a lot of people are really excited about is, it’s a royal story. It’s a reunited lovers romance/secret baby/prince and alpha male and – yeah, so I’m really excited about those two. One will, the, the romance suspense, that’ll be in about a year that it comes out, and similar to the reluctant queen. So I’m excited about those two things.
What I’m reading, I actually love paranormal/fantasy romance. It’s like –
C: – a huge orgasm for me to read those kinds of books. And so one of the books that I, one of the books that I picked up that I’m reading is The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. I am in love with this story.
Diana: [Gasps] Oh!
C: It’s a really –
Diana: You know they’re making a C-drama out of that!
C: Oh, I saw it on Netflix! I have to go, but –
Diana: Yes! Yes, C, uh-huh! Uh-huh!
C: Yeah, I’m really, I’m really excited about that, about watching that story, because it delves into ancient Chinese mysticism and the whole ghost bride culture that they have, and so it’s always cool to learn something else of different cultures but also get that fantastical element? So it’s actually really good. I really like it, and I am looking forward to watching the Netflix Original that they’ve recently released once I finish the book.
Diana: We all know my, my love of drama, and so – okay, I’m trying to think whether or not to talk about the books I’m reading or the projects I should be working on, and probably –
C: Tell us your pieces first.
Diana: Okay, okay. I actually have got two in progress. One is a book that is the, the second book in my Love in the Fast Lane series through City Owl Press. My editor has been very, very, very patient with this. I hope to have it finished some day. So, you know, because again, there’s going to be car explosions and, you know, hot mess wrangling. You know, she gets, right now I’ve got her set in the middle of the woods. She’s getting chased by ginsengers, because that’s a thing, apparently.
Diana: So that’s, that’s one.
C: Hot mess. Hmm.
Diana: I, I’m telling you! I love a good explosion. The second one is the project I’m working on, the collaboration with Liz Pelletier from Entangled. CIMWRA did a, an author incubator program, and Laurel and I were one of the five chosen. We got the option to work directly with her, and, and collaborate on a project, and so far what she’s calling it small town comedic caper. It will be most likely set in West Virginia. [Laughs] There’ll be some drama, some hot-mess antics, a heroine who Liz is having to rein in, because she seems to go off the rails like somebody else I don’t know. So that’s, that actually, that will be –
C: Kind of sounds really, sounds really familiar!
Diana: Right? Although, I don’t know that she’ll let me have a, a car explosion in that.
Laurel: Is her name Diana?
Diana: No! That book is, that will be due soon and will come out next year?
And then my reading. My reading, again. This is the part I’m, I’m, I’m sad to say I’m a little more excited, because again, I love drama. I feed off of drama; it’s my catnip. There are, there are three books. There are three books. One is one that a friend of ours recently told us about?
Laurel: Aw, yeah!
Diana: No. I hit the Buy button as soon as she said, you guys, this is a hot mess, bananas plot with an mpreg alien or demon baby! You know, I’m like, click!
Laurel: [Laughs] Click.
Diana: Yes, and I tried to tell someone else about it today, and they were like, wait, wait, wait, wait a minute, wait a minute. Mpreg? Yes, male pregnancy. She was like, how does that work? I was like, I don’t know, but that’s the best part!
Laurel: It’s the demon horde of hell needs somebody to have its babies. Done. [Laughs]
Sarah: As you do!
Diana: I mean, right? I mean, he’s the delivery guy. As you do.
The other ones, the other two, one is a book called Malice. One of the benefits of, I’m recently discovering, about being an Entangled author is that, you know, you get Entangled ARCs, and I got one of, it’s called Malice by Pintip, Pintip Dunn. It is an own-voices – uh-huh, uh-huh! It’s like The Terminator and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, which is a book I loved and own voices. The her-, the hero is, he’s Thai. Mmm! It’s like all of the things that I love right now: high drama, she goes, like, you know, this, this girl hears a voice in her head and telling her that she needs to do this if she wants to prevent this big, massive, like, virus from hitting the world? She needs to tell the, she needs to do this, and she’s not quite sure who in her class is going to do it, but she only can listen to the voice. She goes to the future; she comes back to the past. It’s like, it’s, it’s bananas, and I’m all about the bananas.
Diana: And the last one, the last book is, it’s another ARC that I got an advance copy of, and the, C and Laurel can tell you, I sent a text message out to our group saying – the book is called Something, Something to Talk About, and it’s by Meryl Wilsner? Wilsner? It’s a female/female romance. Again, they’ve, they’re, they’re working partners; they work together. One is the assistant to the other, and I think she’s an actress? She’s older, which really, I don’t see a lot of, but there’s this rumor in town going around that they’re dating, that they’re a couple, and they’re not, but the more they hang out together, the more it occurs to them that, hey, this person knows me. Oh, hey, this person is all about this and knows me like this, and I’m like – [gasps] – this is a K-drama in a book format, and I want it! I want it, and I was lucky enough to get an ARC from Berkley, which, again, kudos for being a librarian.
Laurel: So Diana mentioned that we were part of the Entangled incubator program, so I do have a book coming out June 2021 with Entangled titled Rebound Surprise. I’m really –
Laurel: Thank you! I’m really excited about it. It’s got elements of Pride and Prejudice mixed with Sabrina, if you’ve ever watched Sabrina, the movie.
Laurel: So I’ve got a Darcy character. He’s Cuban-American, and I love him so much. One of the movies I watched on loop throughout this whole thing was, like, I think I started off with Pride and Prejudice, switched to Jane Eyre, actually watched Jane Eyre about three times, ‘cause I was in that dark of a place, and then went back to Pride and Prejudice, but –
Diana: Which version? Which version of Jane Eyre?
Laurel: Oh, the only good one, hello! Colin Firth. What, like, I don’t even understand how that’s a question. But –
Laurel: So I’m really excited about that book. It takes place in Miami; it’s a contemporary romance. I’m going to credit C for encouraging me to submit this book, because she was my critique partner, and she was instrumental in, in giving me the confidence I needed, ‘cause I’d been working on that same story for the longest time and tweaking it over and over.
C: You mean that swift kick in the ass?
C: Believe it.
Laurel: I needed the kick in the ass, yes.
Laurel: [Laughs] And –
Diana: C is good at that!
Laurel: She is.
Diana: C is good at that.
Laurel: And so I submitted it, and I was so excited when I found out that I was one of the writers chosen for the incubator program, and it’s been great. It, it really has, and so it, it’s been good to, to, to hear people also like the story, so I’m excited that it’s going to be published next year. So that’s what I’m currently working on.
What I’m currently reading: so to Diana’s point, it, it’s fun being an Entangled author because then you get access to these books, so the, I’ve read The Beast of Beswick by Amalie Howard, which by, I freaking love this book!
Diana: Oh yeah!
Laurel: And, and I will say, I think it was Adriana Herrera who, she was doing, like, a live tweet of when she was reading, what, what historical was she reading again? She was reading this, oh, that Loretta Chase book, a couple, like, right before this whole RWA mess happened, and she was live-tweeting her reactions? And I ended up reading that – something scoundrels.
Sarah: Lord of Scoundrels?
Laurel: Like – Lord of Scoundrels, there you go. I ended up reading that, and then The Beast of Beswick came out, and I’m like, well, I have to read this, because now I’m in the mood for historicals, and right now, because I’m still in the historical mood, I’m reading The Bittersweet Bride by Vanessa Riley, which I’m loving so far. So –
Laurel: – those are the books. Those are the last three books I’ve read.
Sarah: Well, ladies, thank you so much for your time this evening, and thank you so much for what you did. It, it chaps my ass mightily that you were erased from so many of the narratives about what happened, and I did not want to miss an opportunity to say, look at what you did! It was incredible, and thank you so much for the work that you did.
Sarah: And that brings us to the end of this episode, the first of four. I want to thank C Chilove, Laurel Cremant, and Diana Neal for their time, and for their efforts to help RWA.
Don’t forget to check your podcast feed February 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for the next episodes in this series, and if you’d like to get in touch with me, I would love to hear from you! You can email me at [email protected].
Thank you to our Patreon community whose support will make transcripts of this series possible and who make sure that every episode is transcribed.
And thank you very much for listening. I hope that these episodes are informative and thought-provoking, and as always, I wish you the very best of reading and a wonderful weekend. I will see you back here tomorrow.
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