My annual end-of-year reflection post got sabotaged by a combination of a cascade of family health challenges over the holidays, some run of the mill, some terrifying and, of course, the national leadership of the Romance Writers of America losing its collective marbles (if you don’t know what’s going on, and you want to: the hashtag is probably #rwashitshow although various others have been trending too; I think I can’t do better than to send you to Jami Gold’s blog, Claire Ryan’s blog or Courtney Milan’s twitter).
I feel I need to end 2019 with reiteration of my public position on the RWA Death Spiral, and it is this:
And I don’t really think much more need to be said, right?
As both the current and in-coming VP Programs for the Calgary Chapter of the RWA (CaRWA), I’d also like to share the formal statement from the CaRWA Board:
Special Statement from the Board
The Calgary Association of Romance Writers of America (CaRWA) supports, welcomes and promotes diversity and inclusivity for all its authors.
We do not feel that the RWA has shown through their actions that they are also committed to a similar mandate. By sanctioning an author for calling out racism in a book and siding with a publisher over the author in that regard, it is our position that the RWA is not currently fit for its purpose, and has acted contrary to its mandate, its policies and procedures and betrayed its membership.
The actions of the RWA on a national level do not reflect the values of CaRWA.
CaRWA is also disturbed that the current RWA leadership has largely been silent in responding to the concerns of members, and has not responded in any meaningful way to the complete breakdown of trust and confusion that their actions have caused. Further, the RWA leadership has made no response or acknowledgement on the considerable worldwide negative press the organization and, in turn, the genre, has been receiving, as well as the statements of agents and other industry professionals refusing to affiliate with the RWA unless change occurs. We are deeply disappointed in the lack of response, lack of foresight and lack of intelligence exhibited by our parent organization in these matters.
Because of the actions taken by the RWA, and its subsequent handling of the fallout of these matters, CaRWA calls for the resignation of the current President, Damon Suede, the removal of staff who do not support the mandate for diversity and inclusivity, and a full change in leadership in the organization. CaRWA believes that shall go a long way to re-instilling the confidence of RWA membership which has been very badly bruised.
Romance is the literature of hope, and many authors have worked tirelessly to promote the positive, inclusive, and diverse message that romance novels can bring to readers. It is CaRWA’s position that the RWA national organization is currently damaging the reputation of romance authors and the genre with its thoughtless, racist and non-inclusive actions, as well as its refusal to respond to its members and apologize for the damage it has caused.
(Currently on front page of CaRWA Website: https://www.calgaryrwa.com/)
…because, WTF RWA, it’s 2020, and we get that you’re American and Texas and Houston, but… we have friends and loves who are American and Texas and Houston, and… seriously? And also—process, policy, procedure. Ain’t those a thing for a reason?
Meanwhile, in the world: drone assassinations of military leaders on foreign soil by a country formerly known as a democracy and a mass extinction event in Australia, but wait, there’s more!
Romance is the literature of hope, and we peddle fantasy and dreams-come-true, but OMFG, people, what a note on which to begin the 2020s… Hope, hope, hope—I hope everyone comes to their senses. And that love somehow saves the world.
Yeah, I’m one of those freaks. You probably are too, so we’re all good.
Anyway, although I’m already wound up by the drama of 2020—and seriously, 2020, slow da’ fuck down!—I do want to take a few minutes to reflect on 2019. It was a personally very challenging year for me, in which nothing went as planned, and everything was hard. Still. I’d like to mark my highs:
I taught my ORGANIZED CREATIVE workshop to a sold-out crowd at AWCS in January 2019, and was inspired to turn the workshop into a book (available now) AND an online course (coming soon)
+ and I’m teaching TWO sessions of it at AWCS this January! One is already sold out, but last time I looked there were still a couple of spots available in the Sunday, January 19th one! (REGISTER HERE)
I had a 8,000 word short, “Accidental Cupid,” published in PASSIONATE HEARTS, the first anthology from Passionate Ink, the “some like it hot” erotic arm of the RWA (OMG, people, I want to be PROUD of being the member of a romance writing powerhouse! WTF, RWA? How could you? I feel I need to go through all my backmatter, all my bios, and expunge my association with you.)
I got to walk P.J. Vernon on a leash and use him as a footstool. Read about that HERE: M. Jane Colette’s Mostly Illegal UFC Photo Album #nsfw … where you will also meet the Naked Girls Reading, who brightened up much of my 2019:
I vaguely recalling teaching some plotting workshops. I have a slide deck. Can’t for the life of me remember when, where or for whom. But I hear they were really good. They happened in March. March was not a good month.
I spent a fabulous six days in New Orleans at the first non-Romantic Times Booklovers Conference. And while I was ridiculously exhausted and not really in the mood much of the time—I did enjoy myself and I met some of my people. And fangirled over some of the people I used to want to be.
On the plane TO New Orleans, I had a brilliant idea, and it turned into this:
And on the plane FROM New Orleans, I wrote the dirtiest 3500 word story I’ve ever written. It will be a newsletter subscriber gift in 2020. Stay tuned.
In July, I was invited to teach an erotic writing workshop at the Sacred Sexual Music Festival in Edmonton. It was a fascinating experience!
We managed to release the fourth YYC Queer Writers’ project, A Queer Summer Night in Cowtown! (Honestly, I have NO IDEA how that happened. It’s a blur.)
I made it to my fourth When Words Collide festival! And this year, I finally made it to the blanket fort party. And I remembered that at some point, I wrote a thing about working with writing prompts for the Write Better Fiction: Advice from Some of Canada’s Best Editors and Writers, which was being launched at the festival. Nice.
I organized the Calgary edition of the first-ever Independent Bookstore Romance Day at Calgary’s amazing Owl’s Nest Bookstore!
I got a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity! (Not as M. Jane Colette, as one of my other selves. But still. We are all one person, more or less, right?)
I got to meet fucking Julia Cameron! (Sort of) (There were 300 people there and we never talked or exchanged liquid glances across the crowded room or anything, but it is possible some of our electrons touched, right?)
I was invited to read Tarot cards (with my cleavage, apparently) at the release part of Wall of Fire (Seventh Terrace), edited by Sarah L. Johnson and Robert Bose. A good time was had by all.
I got to spend an entire weekend with Kevin fucking McDonald! (Me and 15 other people, and no, it wasn’t an orgy but a comedy sketch writing workshop, and no, I’m not going into comedy sketch writing, but, people, Kevin McDonald. Canadian comic royalty. AMAZING.)
I accidentally wrote a trilogy. I’m not quite sure if it’s GOOD (I’m at that stage of revising when it is definitely NOT good), but it exists, and you know, in bad years? Existing is all we got.
I’m teaching my flirty MORE THAN A GUILTY PLEASURE: Mastering the Romance Novel Form to Tell the Perfect Story workshop at the AWCS! We start on Wednesday, January 15, and the last time I looked, there were still a coupla spots, so if you are in Calgary, REGISTER HERE.
There are two ORGANIZED CREATIVE sessions running at AWCS this January, and the one with spots in it is on January 19, REGISTER HERE.
I will be facilitating an ORGANIZED CREATIVE QUARTERLY POST-MORTEM RETREAT for people who’ve really drank the Koolaid in April. Stay tuned for details.
I am not going to be in Nashville for the Booklovers Conference in March, because the timing does not work, and I will not attend the RWA Nationals in July in San Francisco on principle. (Also, I now resent RWA for ruining my semi-planned San Francisco vacation. Also, the racism. The racism and procedural clusterfuck? Bad, bad, bad.)
I will be at When Words Collide in August. Probably. August seems very far away at the moment!
That trilogy I wrote should probably be released, right? Right. Spring release? Maybe. It’s smoking hot, so it will be a good summer read.
The YYC Queer Writers project for 2020 will be, again, finally, the somewhat delayed QUEER CHRISTMAS IN COWTOWN 2.
And I’m turning my plotting workshop into a little guide book:
…that will be out in the second half of 2020.
Those are my only planned releases for 2020. It will be an introspective and quietly writing year for the most part, I think. There might be a trad’ title coming out, but the timeline of those is always a surprise, no?
So. Goodbye, 2019. Hello, 2020. Slow down. Shape up. Chill a bit.
Yours, in the struggle,
Tarot Card image from The Next World Tarot Deck by Cristy Rhodes