Romance Writers of America

Karin Kallmaker Resources 0 Comments

12/24/2019: This post has been updated. I can no longer in good conscience recommend RWA as a resource. The post at Smart Bitches Trashy Books summarizes how RWA has censured Courtney Milan for calling out racism. Problematic content in a book and practices by a publisher were already in discussion when Milan weighed in. The author/publisher then filed an ethics complaint against Milan with what amounts to “we can’t be doing or writing racist things because we don’t see color” as a defense.

Milan, a former board member and service award winner for her fight to make RWA inclusive and safe for marginalized voices, has been suspended and banned from ever holding any leadership position at RWA again.

2/5/20: In the ensuing weeks, Milan finally received an apology and the censure was reversed while how the ethic complaint was mishandled by staff and the board president was to be examined. I haven’t bothered to follow more closely. The entire Board resigned, the Executive Director was fired. There has been difficulty finding new board members because emerging documents show a clear pattern of bending over backward to soothe feelings of “nice” white (and straight) people’s feelings while asking people of color and queer writers to be nice when confronted with racism and homophobia.

Though there was plenty of lip service to diversity, the efforts of dozens of leaders like Milan to change the organization were systematically sidelined by staff and leadership while internal efforts were made by others to sow discord to empower themselves. The more light that shines on its history the uglier it gets. Perhaps in time the organization will truly embrace equality, equity, and diversity versus saying all the right things. But I will wait and see.

Original post, 11/11/16

The Romance Writers of America focuses on the romance genre and those who write it. The large organization has chapters in most urban areas. Their monthly magazine is helpful for its focus on the stock and trade of the genre: articles about character building, chemistry, and more, suited to the romance writer, reader and market. There’s also general information for writers about contracts, time management, self-care and so on. Online forums are troves of author-to-author-advice.

RWA says all the right things about diversity and inclusion of LGBT romance. LGBT writers have made an effort to find each other and be visible. That said, RWA’s membership is overwhelmingly heterosexual. Occasionally, I am taken aback. For example, individuals within it sometimes forget that not everyone swoons around a Marlborough-man cover model. I am uncomfortable when people of any gender identity are reduced to fetishes and discussed as if they exist to be fondled. It’s not funny or professional. #YMMV

From the RWA site:

Romance Writers of America (RWA) is a nonprofit trade association, with a membership of more than 10,000 romance writers and related industry professionals, whose mission is to advance the professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy.

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