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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hey RWA, Discrimination & Censorship are not OK

Yesterday I joined Rainbow Romance Writers (RRW), the LGBT online special interest chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America).
I'm not gay, no one in my family is either. In fact, I'm not even sure anyone in my immediate circle of friends is LGBTQ (That's Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered or Questioning) as far as I know, although it's possible.
I don't write M/M or F/F or even menage or polyamorous romance. Although I have a secondary character in my upcoming WIP that is gay, and I hope for him to get his own story someday. But, I'm years off from that.

I do sometimes read LGBT literature. (I also sometimes read graphic novels, and classics and non fiction and I even once read a Steven King short story)
I was first introduced to gay characters in Romance by Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series, where I, and about a gajillion other readers, fell in love with Jules, who fell in love with Robin (the hottest damn action hero to ever play a Navy SEAL in a movie, in my humble opinion).

So why did I join a group whose goals are:
"
  • to promote excellence in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender romances
  • to help members become published in LGBT romances
  • to be an advocate within the industry for our genre
  • to be a resource to our members and others on writing and the publishing industry
We are career-focused writers, and what we love to write are passionate, sensual, sweet, and sometimes erotic glimpses of love between LGBT characters."
(That's straight from their website http://www.rainbowromancewriters.com/)
?

Because discrimination and censorship are not okay with me. And I will not stand for it in an organization I'm proud to be a member of. Namely RWA.

Oh, but where is this all coming from, you ask? 
Here's the sitch.
Romance Writers Ink, (RWI) a local RWA chapter out of Tulsa, OK (right around the corner from where my first book is set) has a published authors contest every year called More Than Magic. This year they added something extra to their rules. (which you can read for yourself here)

"– Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category."


**Update** On Feb 5, RWI cancelled their MTM contest. To see their statement click here


Now, RWI's About Us page says this:
"The purpose of RWI is to promote excellence in romantic fiction, to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy, to provide a general basis of mentorship to any writer who is actively, and seriously striving to become published and thus establish a career in the romance genre, as well as to provide a camaraderie for writers within the romance publishing industry."

Funny, didn't that say ANY writer?  
And didn't it also say one who is actively striving to become published and establish a career in the romance genre?
Yeah, I thought so.
Now, I'm any writer, and I'm striving really hard to get published and establish a career in the romance genre. I'd like some camaraderie.  But according to their contest rules the story I mentioned above would not be allowed in.
Neither would Suzanne Brockmann's new book (which I have already pre-purchased and is awaiting her signature through the amazing virtual signing program she has)
Neither would any of the multi-published authors belonging to RRW.

You know what RWI.  That stinks like a big ole bigotted pile of poo.
And RWA...How in the world do we not have an anti-discrimination policy in our by laws?

Not to mention that besides the blantant discrimination there's also the issue of censorship.
Ack!  That's any writer's scare word.  Thank goodness for free speech!
Wait, we live in an oppressed dictator nazi regime, where they burn books and we all have to be very careful about what we say and write, you say?
No, no we don't so I and you, and that guy over there can all write whatever the hell we want! (sort of - read the first amendment and an explanation of it here)

I wrote to both RWA and RWI expressing my hope that they would reconsider this rule, as did a truckload of other readers and writers.
One member of RRW received a reply saying that they added this new rule because some of their members were "uncomfortable" reading LGBT romance.
Blurgh. 
So don't give the LGBT books to those members. Double Duh.  And if all your members feel that way, well call up RRW and see if some of them will guest judge for you. Don't just dismiss those books and their writers because you are uncomfortable.  That's discrimination and censorship.

Oh, and, I got back a canned response from RWA and nothing from RWI.

So, in a show of solidarity I joined Rainbow Romance Writers.
I'm a full flung member. I get a bio on their website and everything.  They're cool. (outraged, but nice)

But wait. This blog is all about free e-books.
Yeah, it is.
I've got in store for you today 25 free reads.
They come courtesy of Coffee and Porn in the Morning who just celebrated their first anniversary. 
Cupoporn.net is run by two of the members of RRW Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton. (Marie also happens to be in my local CRW chapter here in Colorado, so I got the hook up!)

As part of their celebration they featured stories by 25 different writers and have them up for FREE.

Here is the link to the birthday party page --> Free Fiction!
That is if you can get past the picture of the hottie at the top of the page.
Here, I'll give you a head start
He belongs to Marie and Heidi, I stole him, I freely admit it.

I'd love people to spread the word and say to RWA and RWI that discrimination and censorship are not okay. 


Email RWI at **Update** I've removed this email address, since RWI has cancelled their contest. If you are still interested in contacting RWI please go to their webpage http://romancewritersink.wordpress.com/
Email RWA at info@rwa.org 
Please leave me a comment on my blog letting me know how you've reacted to this. If you tweet about it, post about it on FB (try my FB page for a good link write a letter to either organization, write a blog about it, comment on any of the other RRW writer's blogs or FB pages in support of them or even join the Rainbow Romance Writers chapter like I did, tell me so, in a comment, right here on this little ole blog.

Here are links to other RRW member's blogs on this issue.

I'll put all the names of my lovely commenters into a hat and the winner will receive a Kindle copy of Marie Sexton's latest release Cinder. 
Cinder
A CinderFella story--it's all fun and games until somebody loses a shoe...

Eldon Cinder would give anything to see Prince Xavier one last time, but only women are invited to the royal ball. When the local witch offers to make Eldon female for just one night, he agrees.

One spell. One night. One dance.

What could possibly go wrong?


Make sure to leave me the email addy you use for your amazon account so I can get the winner their free e-book!
Use the secret sneaky spy way of leaving it - ie, amy at amydenim dot com.

Okay, get up on your soapboxes. React, change our world.






10 comments:

  1. Wonderful and well-written post. This is ridiculous and must not stand.
    in the aftermath, there are all kinds of discriminatory revelations shaking out: If you're e-pubbed. If you don't earn enough from your work. If you write romance featuring GLBTQ members. If you're MALE.
    Then you need not apply.
    I weighed on the issue at my own blog (referenced at MuseAmpoule's blog, above) and sent the text of the letter to the RWA board and Jackie@RWI. So far, no response, and I don't expect to receive one as I'm not a member. However, I hope adding my own voice to the chorus will help in some small way to make the point that this kind of discrimination must not and cannot be tolerated.

    Best,

    J.S. Wayne

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this post! I think it's important for people to stand up for equality, even if they don't believe in or practice a certain lifestyle or are not a part of the gender, race, or preference being discriminated against. Thank you so much for sharing my letter with everyone. :)

    R. Renee Vickers
    http://museampoule.wordpress.com

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  3. Thank you for this, Amy! We all appreciate your support. (And obviously, you don't need to enter me in the contest.) ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I totally agree, Amy. And could that cover for Cinder be any hotter???

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  5. I commented on Heidi's original post. I hope this terrible policy goes the way of the dodo where it belongs.

    I am in Australia so I'm not sure I can really do more than say I am 100% behind you.

    I love reading m/m and I'm a big Marie Sexton fan so please count me in for the giveaway also!

    hankts AT internode DOT on DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  6. *Stands and applauds*

    Followed you here from twitter. Emailed RWA and RWI. Discrimination is NOT okay. And what REALLY chaps my hide even more (if that's even possible) is that their contest rules start out with this =>

    "Our judges are all romance readers. Within that group are RWI chapter members and members of other RWA chapters. We recruit judges nationwide and even worldwide (for e-books) and our only requirement is that they are regular romance readers.

    They tell us which categories and what “heat” level they prefer to read, so our entrants’ books get into the hands of people who might give them the most favorable rating.

    Our final round judges are chosen for the diversity of their romance reading interests and enjoyment, sense of fair comparison across all categories, and knowledge of the romance genre."
    *end quote*

    Amy, thanks for the excellent post! And don't bother entering me into your contest. I'm off to purchase a copy of Cinder now - the cover and blurb have me HOOKED!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Found this through Twitter, shared it on FB. Having family members, friends and co-workers who are gay the real life struggles are bad enough. There shouldn't be unnecessary barriers to them finding fictional counterparts. Some of my best friends have been characters in books. How horrible to sanitize the industry so it does not reflect the population and what is going on today. RWA gets angry that romance writers are looked down upon - it's actions like this that perpetuate the stereotype of romance belonging to fat woman with big hair and stretch pants who do nothing but sit on the couch eating chocolate to fill their empty heads.

    I am very proud to report that the local Tacoma newspaper did a huge write up of Cinder and its author in the paper this weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'll be blogging in a few days about this- first I need to get thoughts straight so that it doesn't come out as an idiotic rant. This is outrageous. Publishers and contests may say that they will not publish or consider things with content that is illegal (like rape, incest,etc). Those things are also morally reprehensible. But to ban stories with LGBT characters? Sexual preference is not a crime.

    We love who we love. Period. And those relationships should be validated. If someone is "uncomfortable" I think that what they are really saying is that they are either afraid, for whatever reason, or are a bigot.

    ReplyDelete
  9. People can be so contradictory sometimes. They say "all" but then there's always that fine print of "all EXCEPT: ". Discrimination of things I like (such as same sex content) has honestly made me a very closed off person. People that will not accept, or in my case make fun of something that I am passionate about can really be discouraging, especially as a writer.

    Years ago, no one wanted to sell manga and anime on the shelves. Now it's super popular in America. I can only hope that same-sex romance is able to get to that same level of acceptance and popularity.

    If it makes a person uncomfortable, then they need to learn more about the subject. It makes them biased and closed minded.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks to everyone for their comments and action. To continue following this story check out any of the blogs above or any of the other authors of the Rainbow Romance Writers.

    The winner of the give away for Marie Sexton's Cinder is Kaetrin!
    I'll be contacting you shortly and sending your Kindle copy. Congrats.

    ReplyDelete