I’m appalled and angry. Let’s start with that. I do not normally comment on organizations I belong to. But I have to say something on this matter. I admit that I don’t understand the entirety of what actually happened, despite author Claire Ryan’s amazing compilation of the time line of events. RWA has hired an outside law firm to conduct what is hopefully an independent audit of the actions taken by the board and their impacts, and I hope we learn from their report the facts, which should be shared with all RWA members. It seems like every day there are new revelations, so I can only wonder what else we don’t know yet. But in the meantime, thank you, Claire, and all those who contributed to this collection of information, accusations, rebuttals, impacts, and ramifications of the actions of all involved. But as a General member in good standing of RWA, and definitely not speaking on behalf of any of my chapters, I felt it necessary to say something. To remain silent would imply my approval or acceptance, which is most definitely not the case.
I don’t have a lot to add to the ongoing discussions about all of the egregious actions of certain of the RWA Board of Directors. I’m angry about the hidden agendas and maneuvering going on behind the scenes last year, actions that have undermined the intent of the DEI efforts of the past several years to improve the culture and climate within this organization. Actions that have done monumental harm to authors of color, marginalized members, and to RWA as a whole. I had hope for a better place for all authors. I’ve worked at my local chapter level to ensure a safe space for all our members to the best of my ability. Have I been perfect? Probably not! But I’m striving to listen, to learn, to improve.
But to Damon Suede and whoever approved the changes to both the policy manual with regard to how the Ethics Committee is formed and who oversees it after the ethics complaint was filed against Courtney Milan (which should NEVER have even been reviewed let alone acted upon!), shame on you for attempting to undo the strides made toward a more inclusive, diverse, and welcoming organization! Changes to the rules of the Rita contest to reduce the ability to monitor the fairness of the contest judges against bias and discrimination are also a disgrace. I do not know specifically why so many of the board members resigned in protest rather than staying and trying to fix this mess from the inside, so I’m wondering just how bad things were. If the people elected to help improve the organization found it impossible to stay, then it must have been very bad indeed.
I have pulled my book from consideration for the Rita this year, which hurts my heart because I had high hopes of at least a final for my entry but I feel it was necessary. As I said in my email to Executive Director Carol Ritter: “It saddens me to write to you and ask that you pull my contest entry, Charmed Against All Odds, from consideration in the Rita awards. I had high hopes for the story but with the current climate and taint to the final results even before it actually gets underway, any final or prize would not have the meaning and respect of years past. I have hopes for the future of RWA and the Ritas, but cannot in good conscience condone the actions taken by certain members of the board.” That is an understatement, folks. I’m appalled at their actions! On top of that, I learned about how much profit RWA earned from last year’s contest and am wondering where that money went and for what purpose. Why would the cost of the contest need to remain at $50/$75 per entry when they reportedly made close to $100K in profit in 2018? I’d like an explanation.
I’ve always advocated for RWA national and most specifically for my individual chapters, encouraging other writers to join and benefit from the networking, advocacy, and education. But the many rule changes flowed down from above over the past several years have continued to hurt the chapters, the life blood of this organization. I know of several chapters who have closed down due to lack of membership. The forced-upon-chapters standardized bylaws have actively worked against the very chapters they are supposed to help. Without enough members, the rotation requirements for the board members is next to impossible to sustain. In fact, I’ve heard of several chapters in 2019 forced to disband due to no member willing to fill the required board positions. Now this! I wouldn’t be surprised if more chapters lose members and are forced to close as a result of the Board’s actions.
I’m saddened by all of what is happening at the RWA national level. I am hopeful we can turn around this burning, sinking ship, but that’s all I have. Hope. The silence from the RWA board on what they are doing to correct this mess is unacceptable. The members deserve answers.
I’ve said my piece. Next week I’ll return to talking about my research and writing, my stories, etc. I need to let my blood pressure calm a bit. . .
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Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.
Charmed Against All Odds is also part of the Common Elements Romance Project. More than 75 romances—historical, sci fi, fantasy, contemporary, paranormal, suspense—which include the same 5 elements. Those elements are a guy named Max, a lost set of keys, a tall stack of books, a haunted house, and a lightning storm. Visit the website for a listing of all the books by subgenre and for monthly giveaways.
Loving her brings out the magic in him…
Wedding bells are ringing, but not for Roxie Golden. If she can survive another round of wedding plans, then her life can return to normal. She’s perfectly happy running the bookstore and weaving helpful magical spells. Then one stormy day, her ex-fiancé strolls back into her life with a gift neither of them wants.
Leo King wants to flee the small town for the big city. Forget about the shame he brought upon himself when he abused his magical powers. First, to satisfy his warlock father’s final wish, he must deliver the mysterious box to Roxie’s bookstore.
But when Roxie opens the box, revealing an enchanted bracelet and a quest spell, their plans and their lives are changed forever. Trapped in a reluctant partnership with the woman he once loved, he risks everything—including his heart—for a second chance.
2 thoughts on “My Thoughts on the RWA Scandal #RWAshitshow #RWA @romancewriters #ResignDamonSuede”
Betty, my local chapter closed due to the problems you mentioned. The membership finally dropped below requirements for a chapter. The problems that RWA are experiencing are of their own making. Their first mistake was assuming that they were powerful enough to over-ride freedom of speech.
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Two of my local chapters are facing the same challenges. I’m concerned about their future and RWA’s. Thanks for sharing, Linda. I appreciate your viewpoint!