Posted in News, Thoughts

What’s Happening with the RWA

What’s happening with the Romance Writers of America?

I’ve had several people ask me “What’s going on with RWA?”

How do I even begin to explain? While the big pimple on the face of the organization might have imploded with the wrongful suspension and false allegations against Courtney Milan, the blemishes we’ve been covering up go much deeper and have been going on for much longer. Unfortunately, many of us, myself included where blind to these facts, or at least willingly oblivious.

Like the political climate, things have been festering for a while. When the new president of the United States was announced one of my dear friends and mentor from high school, Ms. Glenoria Jennette came to me and told me of a nightmare she’d had. In her dream, she feared the US would revert to slavery. I denied this possibility, but she told me she knew she’d be okay because her friends, like me, would protect her. I thought, Oh Lord, she’s giving me her power. She can’t give me her power, I’m not worthy, I’m not strong enough… Oh crap what if I really do have to protect her? But that wasn’t what she was doing. She wasn’t giving away her rights or her ability to make her own choices, what she wanted was to know was that I had her back. To quote the late Martin Luther King, jr. “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” In the present political climate I have ducked my head and kept my own council because no matter what I believe it’s wrong according to someone but when a friend is depending on you to do what is right, you have to make a stand, even if it’s unpopular.

“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends,” MLK. As a white, heterosexual, able bodied woman I do not feel capable of making decisions for people of color or any other marginalized individual. Before I can make a decision affecting someone else, I should first have an honest conversation with them to discover what it is they need from me, from the group, etc. Making assumptions about others’ needs, taking away their power is no different than saying they are incapable of making these decisions for themselves, but I know it is past time for the rest of us to stand up and add our voices to this problem. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter,” MLK. I pray it is not too late for RWA or for our country to find a place of understanding and peace.

It is difficult to look at myself as one of the entitled white women, and I don’t say that with any malicious intent or to undermine the racial inequalities that have come to light during this whole debacle. No, I say it to embrace the facts. I did not realize I was entitled, and I think that is where my crime lies. I was oblivious. Like many who belong to RWA or other groups and organizations, we do not necessarily see the problem because it doesn’t affect us. Sometimes we see slights but write them off as this one’s personality, or that one is older, and she doesn’t really mean to be inconsiderate. For some reason people who have reached a certain age think they can say anything they want and get by with it. We also tend to “mind our own business” and not involve ourselves in someone else’s fight.

With so many of our fellow authors leaving RWA in protest of Courtney’s mistreatment, the battle has fallen to us, the “white women” to finally stand up and say, this is our battle too. For if we are truly a “Professional Group” for ALL romance authors then we need to behave as such. Regardless of race, religion or sexual preference, all men and women shall be treated equally and with respect. (I started writing this before reading JR Ward’s and Nora Roberts’ responses to the situation but found both had said much of what I wanted to say and more eloquently. Check out their essays. Also check out Alyssa Cole’s op-ed about Harry and Meghan’s announcement and how it parallels with what is happening in RWA.)

I believe it is the lack of respect that I find the most difficult to understand. My parents taught me to always treat people, no matter their station in life, with dignity and kindness. Good manners cost nothing and when we belong to a large group like the Romance Writers of America it is important to be kind. That doesn’t mean we can’t be ourselves, that we can’t speak out, it means we treat others the way we want to be treated, and we expect our neighbors regardless of race, religion, physical ability or sexual preference to be given the same opportunities, respect and welcome.

For now, I will remain with the RWA in the hope that my voice will make a difference and that one day soon those who felt the need to leave will be welcomed home with the love and honor they deserve. I believe in happy endings.  

Posted in inspiration, Thoughts, writing inspiration, Writing tips

Stagnate We Die

I do not believe a writer ever stops learning. If we stop learning, we become stagnate and die. Like something caught in the old pool in the back yard, you can swim around in the sludge for a while a little slimy but happy enough. After a while, the things that begin to grow on the bottom of the pool start to choke out the cool water and oxygen turning it into a hot soup of old gross things. No one wants to be a part of some old gross thing.

There are somethings that should never go out of style: good manners, good grammar, and good food. Everything else is subject to change. When I think of the writer I was twenty, thirty years ago, I can feel myself blushing and ducking my head. It is one of those times when I’m actually glad none of my old stuff survived our house fire. As a person I’ve changed a lot over the years. When my husband, David and I married, we talked often of racial differences and how we were raised. Though my parents were not racists, they weren’t inclusive either, part of growing up in a rural southern community. My husband’s mother was raised a lot like my parents, the only other races she knew before adulthood were Native American, Black and Dutch, and that was from working on a farm out in eastern North Carolina.

Our parents were taught that the races were separate but equal but as they became adults in the sixties, they began to see things weren’t quite the way they believed. A conversation with my mother after watching the movie “Hidden Figures,” made me realize just how little the white community really knew of what was going on historically right outside their front door. We lived in Hampton, Virginia from 1967-1973. The last year we were in Virginia, I was bussed across town to Bassett Elementary School. I loved the school and the principal, a black man with a gentle baritone. Yet until that movie, my mother and I (I was only 9 at the time) were unaware of the racial problems and Virginia’s refusal to integrate. As a nine-year-old black child I would have known.

After marrying my father-in-law, a marine who grew up in upstate New York, my mother-in-law became exposed to many more races: Puerto Rican, German, Italian, Dominican, Chinese, Caribbean and West Indian when she visited his family in Amsterdam, but in the marine corps she learned that there was only one race, olive drab. She raised her children with no color barriers.

My husband and I often discussed whether I’d have been brave enough to take a chance on loving him had he been of a different race or religion. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have been thirty years ago. He is part of what has made me stronger, braver, he’s expanded my world and given me the courage to take chances, even disagree with him.

The adventure continues

As children our worlds are often small. They include family and friends, maybe a few neighbors, church members. When we venture off to school we are exposed to more people, teachers, faculty and students from places just a little out of your neighborhood, maybe people who have moved from other places. If you are lucky enough to travel, you might be exposed to other races, religions and cultures but most of us grow up knowing only what is in our own backyards.

I was so proud when I finally received my Profession Authors Network Pin from RWA

The Romance Writers of America (RWA) and writers in general have been fighting a battle of inclusivity and diversity for several years. Romance and especially love, should not come with qualifiers. Everyone deserves to be loved. Reading authors who are different from us, about heroes and heroines of other races and religions, writing about characters who are unique with an educated and respectful attitude, that is allows us to live in another’s skin and share their experiences. Not all rednecks are racists, not all blacks are thugs and not all Asians are submissives. We need to stop typecasting and start doing our homework. We need to keep learning. Will we make mistakes and say something or do something that comes across as prejudiced or unenlightened? Probably. We are human and we make mistakes in everything else we do, but if we are truly trying to learn and be different than the person we were before, then we need to open the dialogue and ask the intelligent questions. We need to look further than our own backyards, heck, maybe we need to add a few more people to our invitation lists. Learn about real people of color, real people with physical and mental challenges, people with other lifestyles and from different cultures, take time to read, listen, and discover more information. No one says you have to join a movement, but if you plan to write about someone diverse characters then learn about them first.

Big Shot’s Birthday

I like to people my stories with characters who represent my friends and neighbors. In “Titanium Blue” my hero lost a leg in Afghanistan. My son, a former soldier with two tours in Afghanistan answered questions for me. Two of my friends have prosthetic legs. One lost his leg in a farming accident as a child, the other a car accident as an adult. Both men were willing to answer my questions about their prosthesis.

Firsthand information, books and the internet offer readers a realistic experience. Modern technology has allowed writers something they’ve never had before, a chance to go places without ever leaving their chairs. We no longer have the excuse of ignorance for the information is too easily available. We, as writers, owe it to our readers to do our best to portray diverse characters with honesty and respect.

I’m looking for sources to add to my list. If you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate your input.

This is a new source I cannot wait to learn more about, UNCTV/PBS Learning Ken Burns Classroom

For many cultures from African American to Ukrainian American can be found at the Library of Congress It lists many sources both historical and current.

Poli-Sci Course on “Who is American”

100 Most Significant Americans of All Time

100 Most Influential Figures in American History

Gay Rights/Culture


Black/African American:

Latino/Hispanic American:

Posted in Book Review

A Shiver of Light by Laurell K Hamilton

I have been a fan of Laurell K Hamilton’s for several years beginning with her Anita Blake series. While sometimes her stories got lost in the sex, I have always enjoyed the tough girl characters. This latest offering with main character Merry Gentry aka Princess Meredith shows a softer side of the gutsy, faerie princess. After giving birth most women experience an array of hormone related emotions and fears, LKH portrayed these emotions beautifully and with a realism that was strikingly close to home. The changes in Merry and her lovers was believable and interestingly woven into the next phase of the princess’ life. The moral issue of racism and bigotry was very real and crosses the line from fantasy to everyday. While not preaching tolerance, LKH showed us how our ignorance can turn from fear to fanatical. Learning to accept ourselves isn’t always easy alone, having someone love us and accept our differences and appreciate them is all most of us really want in this life. LKH accomplished this with a poetry of words and descriptions, a spirituality and uplifting saga. This was one of the best stories in a legacy of incredible story telling.