Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Monday News and Deals: RWA Chapter Bans M/M Romances From Contest

Updated: Apparently the contest has been cancelled as of Sunday night.

I was on vacation last week but was emailed by a reader that an RWA chapter in Oklahoma known as Romance Writers, Ink. was refusing same sex romances entry into the chapter contest. As I understand it, chapter contests are fundraising endeavors. The chapter membership voted and based on a majority feeling uncomfortable with these types of stories. Ironically, the readers judging don’t seem to mind as m/m romances have won before.  That has to be the last straw, right? That not only are there books that feature sexual acts between same sex people but those books are winning over heterosexual love stories.

My initial response was that I didn’t feel that Dear Author could do anything to assist in this matter given that a) RWA has banned me and b) I don’t think the board responds well to any suggestion a reader might make, particularly one that they kicked out.  Authors like Suzanne Brockmann and J.R. Ward may have influence and given that they write m/m in their mainstream books would be the right people to advocate for change within their own organization.  Brockmann did make a strongly worded statement on her Facebook page.  But what kind of change? I’m not sure. My understanding is that RWA chapters are largely autonomous.

RWA could condemn the action or at least make some provision that contests cannot exclude books that meet the definition of romance (which no longer says one woman and one man). Problematically, it has been the chapters who have been more progressive than RWA, accepting m/m and digital books long before RWA accepted them. (I’m not sure that RWA does accept digital books that don’t have a print companion)

Courtney Milan’s suggestion of shunning the contest makes sense, but given that the judges are readers, it is unlikely that agents, editors, and writers refusing to judge would make a difference. Milan also suggests that aspiring writers not enter the contest which would likely have more impact given that the chapter contests are about making money. Money, and the possible reduction of it, leads to a lot of change.


Another distressing thing that happened last week was the Susan G Komen foundation’s defunding of Planned Parenthood followed by the reversal of its decision which seems on the surface to mean that PP would be funded in the future but could easily be defunded again based on the wording of the new policy.

It brought to mind the issue of the pink (breast cancer), teal (ovarian cancer), and other ribbon oriented promotional campaigns.  The pink ribbon has been a huge driver of merchandise.  Publishers use it (and others) and authors use charities as promotional vehicles.  On the one hand, it is for a good cause and on the other hand, the use of a deathly illness for promotion makes me a bit uncomfortable. I didn’t always feel this way, but after reading about the documentary of “pink washing” I’ve been a lot more skeptical about how much good these ribbon / charity promotional campaigns are actually doing.


The U.S. is going digital for textbooks if the government has anything to say about it.

The problem is that they clearly don’t mean a flat PDF or EPUB: “We’re not talking about the print-based textbook now being digital. We’re talking about a much more robust and interactive and engaging environment to support learning,” says Karen Cator, director of the Education Department’s office of education technology. No, they want the whole interactive thing, too. “When a student reads a textbook and gets to something they don’t know, they are stuck,” Genachowski said. “Working with the same material on a digital textbook, when they get to something they don’t know, the device can let them explore: it can show them what a word means, how to solve a math problem that they couldn’t figure out how to solve.” Cator says that students should expect video explanations to help with homework, to be able to rotate and move 3D molecules, or use a globe to explore the news


Avon sent me this email:

At Avon right now, we’re on a quest to find our biggest super readers—we’d like to reward them for being such devoted “Avon Addicts” with special monthly packages containing advance copies of forthcoming books to read and share with friends; fun promotional items (swag!), and other goodies. We will send our Addicts early copies of hand-selected Avon, Avon Impulse and Avon Red titles, with a special invitation to write blurbs and mini-reviews of these books on the Avon blog.

What qualifies someone to be an Avon Addict? They can name all of the members of Avon’s most famous families, such as the Bridgertons and the Cynsters. They once curled up under the covers with a Kathleen E. Woodiwiss classic, flashlight in hand, hoping their parents didn’t find them reading after lights-out. Their favorite sports teams are the Chicago Stars and the Seattle Chinooks. They think Bones the sexiest vampire alive.

Would you mind helping us spread the word about our search? Potential Avon Addicts are invited to apply for the program here:

  • Catriona by Jeanette Baker * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Wild Highland Magic by Kendra Castle * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Wicked By Any Other Name by Linda Wisdom * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Kiss at Your Own Risk by Stephanie Rowe * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Warrior: The Cat Star Chronicles by Cheryl Brooks * $1.79 * A | BN | K | S
  • Lady of the Storm by Kathryne Kennedy * $1.79 * A | BN | K | S
  • Greatest Love on Earth by Mary Ellen Dennis by Mary Ellen Dennis * $1.79 * A | BN | K | S
  • Tyler by C H Admirand * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • I Dream of Genies by Judi Fennell * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Mistress’ House by Leigh Michaels * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Montana Legacy by R C Ryan * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Monarch of the Sands by Sharon Kendrick * $2.7 * A | BN | K | S
  • Everything I Know about Love I Learned from Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Me, Myself and Why? by MaryJanice Davidson * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Tides of War by Stella Tillyard * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure by Diane Kelly * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • One Good Dog by Susan Wilson * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Hot Girl by Dream Jordan * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Blood Song by Cat Adams * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Siren Song by Cat Adams * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Demon Song by Cat Adams * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • One Good Dog by Susan Wilson * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S

HPs under $2.80

  • A Spanish Awakening by Kim Lawrence * $1.24 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Highest Stakes of All by Sara Craven * $1.25 * A | BN | K | S
  • Untouched Until Marriage by Chantelle Shaw * $1.28 * A | BN | K | S
  • Bride for Real by Lynne Graham * $1.30 * A | BN | K | S
  • Taming the Last St. Claire by Carole Mortimer * $1.42 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Proud Wife by Kate Walker * $1.53 * A | BN | K | S
  • Much More Than a Mistress by Michelle Celmer * $1.76 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Impoverished Princess by Robyn Donald * $1.80 * A | BN | K | S
  • Do Not Disturb by Anna Cleary * $1.94 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Lift She Left Behind by Maisey Yates * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • For Duty’s Sake by Lucy Monroe * $2.04 * A | BN | K | S
  • Jewel in His Crown by Lynne Graham * $2.16 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Marriage Betrayal by Lynne Graham * $2.19 * A | BN | K | S
  • In Want of a Wife by Cathy Williams * $2.27 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Heir from Nowhere by Trish Morey * $2.33 * A | BN | K | S
  • From Dirt to Diamonds by Julia James * $2.42 * A | BN | K | S
  • Reckless Night in Rio by Jennie Lucas * $2.45 * A | BN | K | S
  • With This Fling by Kelly Hunter * $2.46 * A | BN | K | S *recommend*
  • In Bed with the Boss by Susan Napier * $2.52 * A | BN | K | S  *recommend*
  • The Revenge Affair by Susan Napier * $2.52 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Virgin’s Secret by Abby Green * $2.55 * A | BN | K | S
  • An Accidental Birthright by Maisey Yates * $2.55 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Unclaimed Baby by Melanie Milburne * $2.55 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Wealthy Greek’s Contract Wife by Penny Jordan * $2.55 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Forbidden Wife by Sharon Kendrick * $2.55 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Secret Baby Scandal by Jennie Lucas and Kate Hewitt * $2.56 * A | BN | K | S
  • His Penniless Beauty by Julia James * $2.59 * A | BN | K | S
  • A Stormy Spanish Summer by Penny Jordan * $2.64 * A | BN | K | S
  • Doukakis’s Apprentice (Harlequin Presents) by Sarah Morgan * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S  *recommend*
  • Monarch of the Sands by Sharon Kendrick * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Stolen Bride by Abby Green * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • Prince of Scandal by Annie West * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Disgraced Playboy by Caitlin Crews * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S *recommend*
  • Surrender to the Past by Carole Mortimer * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • His Unknown Heir by Chantelle Shaw * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • In Bed with a Stranger by India Grey * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S *recommend*
  • Craving the Forbidden by India Grey * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S *recommend* connected with the previous book
  • The Price of Scandal by Kim Lawrence * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Man with the Money by Lynn Raye Harris * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Petrov Proposal by Maisey Yates * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • Marriage Made on Paper by Maisey Yates * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Petrov Proposal by Maisey Yates * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Kanellis Scandal by Michelle Reid * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Power of Vasilii by Penny Jordan * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • Passion and the Prince by Penny Jordan * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Most Coveted Prize by Penny Jordan * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Fearless Maverick by Robyn Grady * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Ice Prince by Sandra Marton * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • Once a Ferrara Wife by Sarah Morgan * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • Too Proud to Be Bought by Sharon Kendrick * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • Fiancee for One Night by Trish Morey * $2.70 * A | BN | K | S
  • Meddling with a Millionaire by Cat Schield * $2.72 * A | BN | K | S
  • A Savage Betrayal by Lynne Graham * $2.74 * A | BN | K | S
  • Public Marriage, Private Secrets by Helen Bianchin * $2.78 * A | BN | K | S
  • A Treacherous Seduction by Penny Jordan * $2.80 * A | BN | K | S
  • Marriage on the Edge by Sandra Marton * $2.80 * A | BN | K | S
  • Slade Baron’s Bride by Sandra Marton * $2.80 * A | BN | K | S
  • More Than a Mistress by Sandra Marton * $2.80 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Greek Billionaire’s Innocent Princess by 2.55 * * A | BN | K | S


Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. LG
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 10:20:13

    I saw your quote from the digital textbooks post, and my first thought was “textbook prices are going to be even worse than they already are.” Then I looked at the post, which said that, in addition to all the bells and whistles, the government wants to save money too. Right. Just like you can totally slash budgets and then provide students with an even better education. Ugh.

  2. Cathy Pegau
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 10:22:41

    RWI didn’t just refuse M/M, they refused ALL same-sex stories.

  3. Ren
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 10:48:23

    @LG: I bet they’ll save money by firing all the teachers, since the textbook “enhancements” appear geared to eliminate the need for any sort of interaction with an educator.

    And god forbid one should encounter an unfamiliar word and have to refer to one of those archaic old things full of words and their definitions. Clearly, what this world needs is the promotion of even more mental laziness.

  4. KB/KT Grant
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 11:23:27

    RWI Magic Contests was banning all same sex romances not just M/M.

  5. Heather
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 11:23:52

    The Lift She Left Behind by Maisey Yates

    An elevator love story? Sign me up. :)

  6. Lorenda Christensen
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 11:25:58

    Not an excuse, just an explanation, (FYI, I’m RWI’s newsletter editor, also, the first I heard of this was here on dearauthor) but we are a very small RWA chapter, and we were having trouble finding enough judges to read M/M and YA. For the published category, we have to cull our judges from friends and family, and we just didn’t have enough interest in these two areas to fairly facilitate the contest.

    I understand everyone’s concern, but it was my understanding (agian,, I’m not a board member so I’m not privy to the actual RWI discussions) that these entries were refused because of the lack of willing judges, not RWI.

  7. anon
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 11:35:38

    Why an organization would come out and discriminate this way just passes me by. Hiring an image consultant/PR firm might be something RWA should consider in the future, because they clearly don’t “get” the future damage they’ve created for themselves with this stunt. It’s almost too amateur to be true. Yet it is true. There are many people, authors and readers, who will never again take them seriously no matter what they do. And I would imagine many RWA memebers who didn’t agree (I would like to think most) are now reconsidering whether or not they want to be part of an organization like this.

  8. Lorenda Christensen
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 11:39:08

    Jane – I noticed you were told RWI voted on the exclusion of M/M and YA. Did you hear this from the contest coordinator? I’m just curious, seeing that I’m part of the “membership” and I don’t remember voting. (However, I currently live in Bangalore, India, so I’ve only attended the most recent meeting.)

  9. Wahoo Suze
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 11:42:32

    @Ren: That’s the first thing that popped into my head, too. Students (well, people in general) have ALWAYS had the ability to go looking for more information, depending on their proximity to a good library. The only thing I can seem coming out of this is that the textbook producers will be able to constrain the further explorations of students. When you have bodies like the Texas board of education re-writing history to suit their political and religious preferences, do we really want to increase students’ reliance on their textbooks, rather than improving their research skills?

  10. Jane
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 11:43:22

    @Lorenda Christensen: Sorry, I meant to include a link to Kari Gregg’s blog. Here is her comment and Cathy Pegau’s:

    BTW, I received a response to my email. A two liner about the chapter voting after a month’s discussion but coming to the determination the majority were uncomfortable. Well, I’m “uncomfortable” with their decision.


    While unburying my inbox, I saw that Stephanie got a response to, similar to the one you got by the sound of it.

  11. Wahoo Suze
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 11:46:07

    @Lorenda Christensen: Judging from the comments made on Heidi Cullinan’s blog post from Saturday, it would appear that the decision was made by the board due to members’ discomfort, and not due to lack of judges.

  12. Lorenda Christensen
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 11:49:17

    @Jane: Good to know. Thanks for the information. Our yahoogroup has been strangely silent, and as I mentioned, this was the first I heard of it. (Had to go check our webpage!) Our monthly meeting is this weekend, I’ll ask when this was voted on.

  13. Ridley
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 11:57:12

    @Lorenda Christensen: Ya know, I’d buy the line about m/m being just another sub-genre like YA if replacing “same-sex” with “African-American” in the line “We recognize the decision to disallow same-sex entries is highly charged” didn’t send my eyebrows sky high.

    I mean, why not, right? AA romance is a niche market with its own dedicated publishers and imprints, just like m/m, f/f or GLBT romance. If “discomfort” with the material excuses not accepting same-sex romances, would “unfamiliarity” also excuse excluding AA romances?

  14. Lorenda Christensen
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 12:12:33

    @Ridley: @Ridley: I’m with you on this, I did think it was odd that same sex as a sub-genre was not allowed; I consider YA a category of its own (i.e. like Historical, Paranormal, etc), but M/M is to me a character or plot trait (i.e. kick-butt heroine or secret baby). To me, it’s like saying “we don’t accept stories about secret babies, we don’t like them”.

    I will definitely ask what’s going on at the meeting.

  15. Jackie Barbosa
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 12:57:47

    (The Reply feature isn’t working for me at the moment. My apologies for not threading properly.)

    @LorendaChristensen: If, in addition to choosing not to offer a YA category, the contest rules had also stated, “We will not be accepting any entries with teen or young adult protagonists,” RWI might have been closer to having an analog. But the way I read the contest rules, if I wrote a paranormal YA, there was nothing in the contest rules to prevent me from entering it in the paranormal category. By contrast, if I wrote a paranormal about a same-sex couple, I was disbarred from entering it in any category.

    Huge, huge difference.

  16. Dani Alexander
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 13:18:05

    Jane, it’d be great if you could amend the article to say “same-sex” instead of “m/m.”. Since this particular contest barred any f/f offerings as well. That would be appreciated since m/m is not the only genre agonizing at this time.

  17. Aleksandr Voinov
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 13:23:23

    Wow, just as I was about to join them. Not going to happen now.

  18. Dani Alexander
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 13:30:47

    @Lorenda Christensen: That’s just not true, Lorenda, since many in the community stepped forward to offer their services to judge. What you are typing is just untrue.

    And m/m romance is not equivalent to a plot point >8( It is equivalent to a multi-cultural book! Wtf? WHat do we have to do to explain that stories about gay couples is equivalent to stories about other couples? There might be a secret baby plot WITHIN a m/m romance, but m/m is not a subgenre anymore than African American protagonists are.

    >>>>>>8( *FUMES*

  19. Jane
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 13:32:34

    @Dani Alexander: Please don’t attack Lorenda. She clearly stated that she thought it was because they didn’t have enough judges. She never got to give any vote on the issue. Her first notice of the issue was here at DA and she clearly doesn’t agree with the decision.

  20. Dani *MIFFED* Alexander
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 13:32:46

    Oh yeah, and one other thing, Jane, if I didn’t already love you, I’d love you more for getting kicked out of RWA!

  21. Dani *MIFFED* Alexander
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 13:39:12

    I can’t edit my post (the function isn’t working. I think Ajax needs to be update) So I’m just responding to you, Jane.

    Please don’t attack Lorenda. She clearly stated that she thought it was because they didn’t have enough judges. She never got to give any vote on the issue. Her first notice of the issue was here at DA and she clearly doesn’t agree with the decision.

    Perhaps the first half of my post sounded like an attack, that wasn’t what was meant. I was just telling her that she had her facts incorrect.

    The second half was damn well an angry voice though. M/M is not a plot point. It’s just not. And that’s just… no. I thank you, Lorenda, for your support, but please do not refer to gay love stories as a plot point similar to a “secret baby” or “blackmail” or whatever.

    The problem with thinking that way, Jane, and why I got so angry is that it does not help for her to think of m/m or f/f books as a plot point. M/M books are just romances. Period. The same tropes as in other romances.

  22. SueH
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 13:39:43

    @Aleksandr Voinov Like you I was about to join the RWA too. But since this was a Tulsa, OK’s chapter very poor judgment, not national’s, I am holding off sending in my check until national RWA makes a statement on the issue. Which according to their press release will happen in March, after their board meeting.

    Then, if RWA back-peddles or tries to minimize it, I can rip up my $120 check. I am willing to give the RWA the benefit of the doubt at the moment. However, the Tulsa chapter (RWI), OTOH, there better some serious apologies from that bunch or a very large group of published authors from that specific chapter, who I regularly buy/read their books, will be going on my Do Not Buy list until the end of time.

  23. Lorenda Christensen
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 13:44:07

    @Dani *MIFFED* Alexander: Dani – you are correct that “secret baby” and same-sex romances are not the same, it was just the closest comparison I could come up with at the time. My apologies.

  24. Maili
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 13:52:28

    I’m not sure why there’s an uproar over this. There’s been a bias against anything that isn’t “the default” in the entire western Romance industry (I mean, come on – RWA isn’t the only one) all this time. And there has been no real attempt to do something about it.

    Every time something like this happens, there would be a few twisted underwear while making sworn vows for a few days, then it just dies. Just like how it’d always been for the last twenty years.

    OK, this latest episode has happened, so where do we go from here now?

  25. Dani Alexander
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 13:54:34

    @Lorenda Christensen: I’m sorry, too, Lorenda. I realize your heart is in the right place. Think of m/m romances like you would think of any minority romance – ie only the main characters are different than what’s “popular”. Nothing else is different.

    Our stories are about love and sex and romance and angst. We have secret baby tropes, lovers-to-friends, blackmail, suspense, mystery, hot sex, no sex, bondage, fluff.

    Again, Lorenda, thank you for your support. And I am just angry right now. Angry and frustrated and hurt.

  26. Lisa Hendrix
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 14:09:58

    Jane — You have the name and buy links wrong for Maisey Yates’s book. The correct title is

    The Life She Left Behind

    Amazon Kindle:

    B&N Nook:

  27. Jane
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 14:13:04

    @Lisa Hendrix Yeah, I know. @Heather pointed it out earlier. I just haven’t had time to replace the links.

  28. Ridley
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 14:35:34

    RWA is a pretty weaksauce organization all around. As a reader, I blame RWA in part for romance’s continuing stigmatization as money-making fluff. The RITA celebrates the safest, least-offensive romances that people paid to have considered for the award. It’s a super-conservative body that pretty actively discourages innovation. It doesn’t work to elevate romance so much as help authors write for the market.

    I mean, the SFWA doesn’t codify a genre definition, so why does RWA? SFF has lots of sub-genres, yet the Hugo and Nebula awards don’t mention them. Why does RWA codify those as well? What does it gain by deciding what is or isn’t officially a romance or sub-genre? A solution is key to the mystery genre, but MWA doesn’t define its genre either.

    I’m not a writer, and don’t want to be, but as a reader I wish there were an organization out there that took romance seriously as literature as well as a money-making endeavor. I wish there was an organization encouraging innovation and rewarding excellence, rather than only sales.

    I also wish there were a romance equivalent for Worldcon and the Hugo Awards. A fan voted award that isn’t the ballot stuffing joke DABWAHA is would be awesome.

  29. Erin Satie
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 16:09:24


    I don’t know about other genres but Sherry Thomas’ success in the RITAs vindicates the historical category for me.

    On the other hand, you have a fair point. So…start dishing out awards. Organize a panel consisting of reviewers that you think have the standards you appreciate. There are enough reviewers with name recognition that such a thing could create a fair amount of buzz.

    I had a conversation the other day w/ two writing friends and the word “katie babs” came up at least 10 times. None of us know katie babs. So, hey, brave new world coming along.

  30. sarah mayberry
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 16:35:00

    In Australia, the Romantic Book of the Year Award (RBY) is judged by readers, not writers. I love that about it. I think it would be fantastic to have international reader nominated and judged romance awards. Readers are why it all happens, in the end. And it’s a great way of the market rewarding what it wants.

  31. Ridley
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 17:02:35

    @Erin Satie: See, the judging thing kind of is the problem. I’d like to see an award based on gross nominations, rather than the opinions of a cabal of judges given a somewhat arbitrary set of books to choose from.

    Paying members of a given organization all nominate a single book for each category and the ones with the most noms win. It’s spam-proof, social media campaign-resistant and comprehensive of all books in the genre. #want

  32. Merrian
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 17:15:26

    @Lorenda Christensen:

    That isn’t the feedback given to people like Larissa Ione when she asked why the ban. She was told that it was chapter members who were ‘uncomfortable’. There has also been a history of judges coming from other RWA chapters and the MTM blurb talks about ebooks being able to be judged all over the world, so that explanation doesn’t stand on those grounds either. There were many people volunteering as judges e.g. from the Rainbow Romance Writers Chapter of RWA according to the various posts and comments that I have seen once that excuse was first given.

    The point isn’t judges or lack of judges it is the message that same-sex stories about the lives of same sex people are not welcome yet RWA still takes the money of LGBTQI authors and purports therefore to represent their interests and concerns as romance authors. It is this with the implication that these stories and lives have no validity in the world of RWI or RWA which has outraged people like myself.

    My view is that a same-sex historical story should be judged in the general historical category and judges matched to the books at that point.

  33. Merrian
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 17:16:52

    @Lorenda Christensen:

    The statement saying the contest would not be held also said they didn’t have a YA category. You can check the website

  34. Isobel Carr
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 17:17:59

    @Ridley: Isn’t’ that what the AAR awards are? It’s a fill in the blank contest that unlimited numbers of readers can participate in. Much like all the film/tv awards, I think it’s nice that there are so many different book awards out there (AAR, Bookseller’s Best, Reader’s Choice, RITAs, RT, etc.).

  35. Stacia
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 18:55:49

    Before the whole thing blew up, I emailed RWI and received the response that “After a month-long discussion, the chapter as a whole voted to no longer accept ” same-sex entries.

    So add me to the list of people who don’t buy the “it was a judging issue” excuse, should they choose to use it now.

    Also, Jane, thank you for changing the blog entry to say “same sex” rather than “m/m.” Lesbian romance is often overlooked, and we were just as banned from this contest as the guys :-)

    Also, Lorenda Christensen: I know you didn’t mean that GLBT is a “plot line” in a dismissive way, but please consider that same-sex romances can literally be a lifeline to people for whom books provide the ONLY positive depiction of same-sex relationships.

  36. Robin/Janet
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 18:59:18

    If anything exemplifies the problematic nature of subgenres and categories of Romance, same sex Romance certainly does. And there’s an interesting debate to be had about the way same sex, especially m/m, is categorized separately (e.g. should it have its own categories in contests like a subgenre, or should it be considered pure Romance, in which case, why is it labeled according to the genders of its protags, etc.), although that’s not the core issue with the RWI thing.

    I’ve been following the conversation at Courtney Milan’s blog and elsewhere, and while I understand the discrimination argument, I think it is difficult not to conflate discrimination of actual people with discrimination against books. While both have certain moral and ethical implications, they’re not the same thing, even though I feel like they’re sometimes getting twisted up.

    As a reader and an outsider to RWA, I think the strongest argument against this kind of marginalization is that excluding same sex Romance goes against the central mission of RWA, which is to promote Romance and the professional development of its authors. Nowhere does the “official” RWA definition specify heterosexual couples (although it does specify two people, so it sounds to me like polyamory is out?), and if the mission of the organization is all about promoting the genre and its authors, how can exclusion on the basis of protag sexual preference of books that fit the definition be tolerated, whether in individual chapters or national?

    I also see that some people do not think that RWA national should take this up or have any oversight where the local chapter contests are concerned, but I think situations like this shed a bad light on the organization as a whole and perpetuate the negative perception that quite a few people have of it as anti-progressive in myriad ways. I haven’t read the bylaws, but my question is if national can’t set standards or guidelines that cover these types of situations, then what’s the point of having any formal organizational relationship between local chapters and national, let alone a central organizational mission?

  37. Kaetrin
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 00:18:23

    @Jane The Avon Addicts thingy is US only. :(

    Dear Avon: people outside the US love romance and know who the Bridgertons and Cynsters are too – in fact, the Cynsters were WRITTEN BY AN AUSTRALIAN AUTHOR!! //rant over *sigh*

  38. Romance Writers of America Shouldn't Discriminate | Penny Reads Romance
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 02:11:59

    […] Comment by Dear Author Blog […]

  39. Katie
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 05:47:54

    What about agents who won’t rep same sex work? Should they be called on it?

  40. Jess B.
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 14:55:54

    This is more of a general question generated from the RWI decision, but not based specifically on their contest. I read the links in the comments, and this seems to be a case of discrimination in my opinion. Please note, I know tone is hard to read on the internet, and I’m not asking this to be confrontational, but am genuinely curious. Ok, disclaimer done, onto the questions.

    Is it okay to have a contest limited to m/m or f/f submissions? And if so, why isn’t it okay to have a contest for m/f romances? Does it depend on the sponsoring agency? For instance, if the contest was hosted by a traditional Christian romance publisher would it be viewed differently than one sponsored by RWA because presumably the two have different definitions for what defines a romance novel?

    Again, I’m not saying RWI made the correct choice; I guess I’m just trying to understand if there’s ever an instance where their’s would be the right choice.

  41. MaryK
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 16:41:24

    Theresa Weir has a couple of free backlist titles up: and

    I really like how she’s done the product description on these. I get so irritated when product descriptions are full of ads for an author’s other work or praise quotes and not actual description of the product.

  42. Author on Vacation
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 18:13:14

    I think an organization has the right to limit candidacy for participation in a contest if it wants to do that.

  43. Wahoo Suze
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 22:31:50

    Every time something like this happens, there would be a few twisted underwear while making sworn vows for a few days, then it just dies. Just like how it’d always been for the last twenty years.

    OK, this latest episode has happened, so where do we go from here now?

    The way I look at it, teeny-tiny little steps are still progress. Every time there’s a hue and cry over something, the next time it comes up, somebody new might pause, remember the uproar, and think their position through more carefully. Incrementally, over time, a position that nobody would look twice at becomes, twenty years later, unthinkable.

    Twenty years ago, my sister and I went into a restaurant in a small town, visiting family. The hostess came to seat us, and we said, “Two for non, please”. She said, “Non-what?” None of the restaurants in the town had non-smoking sections. My point being, each teeny-tiny little step forward may seem pointless and not enough in proportion to the uproar, but the steps are cumulative. IMHO.

  44. Merrian
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 06:59:41

    @Jess B.:

    I wasn’t going to touch this because even with your disclaimers you are asking for a rationale for segregation. The ban and outcry have been picked up now by the Guardian newspaper in the UK and when I read Heidi Cullinan’s quote in the article I thought it made a clear response to part of your question:
    “It’s clear the chapter felt threatened and still doesn’t fully understand that they were discriminating. The excuse of the moment seems to be that ‘same-sex romance is a genre’. No, we aren’t. I’ll buy that we’re a group, a demographic perhaps, but no more than ‘Southern women romances’ should be a genre or ‘non-Caucasians’ should be a genre. Same-sex romances cover every genre you can imagine and every one recognized by RWA – even inspirationals.”

    I also draw your attention to the Judge’s statements on Prop 8 in California being declared unconstitutional:
    “Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California,” the court said. The Constitution “requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.”

    There is no reason for the ban/segregation proposed by RWI and permitted by RWA. The effect of the ban was to lessen the status and human dignity of LGBTQI stories and lives. By banning and othering into seperate segregated categories this lessening is continued.

    The implications of separate categories would mean not only stories with main relationships who are LGBTQI not being accepted but stories with m/f couples whose friends or family are LGBTQI or where LGBTQI play a role in the story would not have a place either. That is, the existence of a whole category of people would be whitewashed out of existence. So no, I can’t think of an instance where RWI’s choices are maybe OK.

  45. Jane
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 07:31:08

    @Merrian The problem that I see is if you have a non discrimination ban, then the LGBT chapter can’t have a contest for LGBT books only or an inspirational chapter can’t have a contest for inspy books only or Passionate Ink can’t have a chapter for erotic romance only.

  46. Author on Vacation
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 07:52:12

    @Wahoo Suze: With all due respect, raising hue and cry over a position can have the opposite effect. People of deep conviction will not necessarily change their minds about an issue because a vocal majority attempts to bully them into doing so. In fact, the negative feelings spawned by such exchanges might do more harm than good.

    I read and enjoy romance and erotic romances in traditional and non-traditional pairings and groupings, but I admit m/m romance tends to be my least favorite and I tend to read m/m romance more for its literary qualities than the romantic content. I’m pickier about m/m romance, will only read it by particular authors I enjoy, and so on. If asked to judge books for a contest, I probably would decline to judge m/m because it’s just not my favorite and I don’t read that much of it. Scolding me for not being more open to m/m romance is not going to inspire me to rush out, purchase, and read as much m/m romance as possible, but it will probably leave me with a more negative impression of m/m romance and its fandom than I held previously.


    “…if you have a non discrimination ban, then the LGBT chapter can’t have a contest for LGBT books only or an inspirational chapter can’t have a contest for inspy books only or Passionate Ink can’t have a chapter for erotic romance only…”

    Very good point. Most contests have limitations of some kind. It would not bother me in the least if a writer’s organization preferring to promote m/m fiction and acknowledge authors of m/m fiction organized a contest for m/m fiction entries and declined to accept fiction featuring female romantic interests.

  47. Merrian
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 08:18:53


    The thing is I don’t believe that LGBTQI can be a category in the same way that erotic or inspy romance can be. They don’t compare because LGBTQI is an identity.

    A LGBTQI story can be a historical or an erotic or even an inspirational, etc. and it is in those categories the story should be judged. If inspirational’s are the story of a couple’s faith journey, by excluding LGBTQI couple’s stories is there not the implication that the faith journey of this group of no importance? Or that if these stories only reside in a specific LGBTQI category the personal story of the heroes/heroines is always overshadowed by their sexual identity in a way that never happens for heterosexual people?

    I am concerned that the risk in maintaining a separate category for LGBTQI is that LGBTQI stories are always outside/other and that there is an imposition of limits and curtailed choices through this.

    You do need developmental incubators [for LGBTQI author’s/stories] and in supporting common identities. I see the work of the RWA Rainbow Romance Writers Chapter in this light.

  48. Jane
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 08:23:47

    @Merrian: I guess I am thinking of the Lamda Literary position which gives awards only to authors that openly identify with the lifestyle. Sarah and I debated that here at DA.

    I think Robin pointed out that one of the problems that you have in this circumstance is that you are talking about discrimination of non real people (i.e. fictional characters in books).

    I don’t think a chapter should exclude same sex romances because it makes their membership “uncomfortable” but I don’t know what RWA should do in this circumstance which is why the direct action against the chapter made the most sense for me. Imposing chapter wide guidelines on the contests by RWA, however, could be a slippery slope.

  49. Merrian
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 08:49:44


    “one of the problems that you have in this circumstance is that you are talking about discrimination of non real people (i.e. fictional characters in books)”

    I think this is where the inescapable tension lies because while the stories are about fictional characters they are stories about a real group of people who still face prejudice, harm and major discriminatory barriers in real life because of their identity. That is why the response to RWA and RWI has been so strong – the stories and identity issues cannot be separated.

    The truth is the RWI chapter wasn’t ‘uncomfortable’ with fictional stories they were ‘uncomfortable’ with what those stories represented – recognition of LGBTQI as part of our everyday world.

  50. Jackie Barbosa
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 09:01:25

    @Jane: …if you have a non discrimination ban, then the LGBT chapter can’t have a contest for LGBT books only or an inspirational chapter can’t have a contest for inspy books only or Passionate Ink can’t have a chapter for erotic romance only…”

    We already resolved this on Twitter the other day :). I brought up exactly this dilemma. Courtney Milan proposed that the rule state, “General purpose chapters cannot have exclusionary rules.” This would allow special interest chapters which focus on a particular genre or subset of romances like LBGT, erotic, or inspirational to “exclude” within the boundaries of that genre or subset.

  51. Sunita
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 09:36:00

    @Jackie Barbosa: So does that mean that chapters can define themselves as celebrating/promoting “heterosexual monogamous romantic relationships” and have contests that excluded m/m, polyamory, etc.? And would that be considered a legitimate special purpose?

    More generally, the problem I’m having with “same-sex is not a genre” is that authors, reviewers, and readers of m/m have been calling it a subgenre for a long time. I realize this is a way of categorizing the novels within the larger romance genre, but RWA is a professional association and so marketing distinctions are not inappropriate. I also seem to remember that when the LGBT romance issue came up in the RWA context years ago, authors *were* pushing for a subgenre category (so was erotic romance). When SB Sarah interviewed the head of RRW a few years ago and asked her whether same-sex should be a genre, the Prez was careful to state that in *her* personal opinion it should not be. That suggests that there was a disagreement within the author group at the time (and that’s my recollection as well, although I could well be wrong).

    LGBT writers are well within their rights to decide to argue that LGBT books should not be categorized as a subgenre within RWA. I just wish they would acknowledge the apparent shift in the debate.

    ETA: Just to be clear, I’m *not* arguing that same-sex romances should be a subgenre. I’m saying that there has been discussion of this in the past by the writers and now the assumption seems to be that OF COURSE it is not a subgenre, as if it has always been self-evident. It hasn’t.

  52. Jackie Barbosa
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 09:59:05

    @Sunita: @Jackie Barbosa: So does that mean that chapters can define themselves as celebrating/promoting “heterosexual monogamous romantic relationships” and have contests that excluded m/m, polyamory, etc.? And would that be considered a legitimate special purpose?

    I would argue that if a chapter existed for the purpose of assisting authors to succeed in writing Christian inspirational romances that would be saleable within the CBA/ABA booksellers’ market, then yes, they could place such limitations because same-sex romances, polyamorous romances, romances without a Christian focus, and erotic romances would all be unsaleable within that particular market subset.

    This is not to say that at some point in the future, same-sex romances might not become acceptable in this market; I’d sincerely like to hope so! It’s just that, for now, CBA/ABA romances are by definition heterosexual, monogamous, and sweet. It is also not to say that it’s impossible to write an m/m, polyamorous, or non-Christian inspirational romance. It’s just to say that the Christian inspirational publishers aren’t the market for them, and a chapter that focuses narrowly on that market is in no position to assist authors in getting published outside of.

    That, of course, is just my opinion. But I would say as long as the reason for the exclusion is legitimately market based and does not exclude just ONE category of romances (i.e., in the above case, the chapter would not just be excluding same-sex, but also non-Christian-focused and erotic romances), I think I can live with it.

  53. Sunita
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 10:05:38

    @Jackie Barbosa: I wasn’t talking about Christian romances. We seem to have already accepted that distinction. I was talking about the standard, run of the mill, heterosexual, non-menage, non-erotic, non-same-sex romances that were pretty much all RWA-rcognized novels comprised until 10-15 years ago. Is that a legitimate special purpose category, in your view?

  54. Jackie Barbosa
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 11:16:44

    @Sunita: I wasn’t talking about Christian romances. We seem to have already accepted that distinction. I was talking about the standard, run of the mill, heterosexual, non-menage, non-erotic, non-same-sex romances that were pretty much all RWA-rcognized novels comprised until 10-15 years ago. Is that a legitimate special purpose category, in your view?

    I would say no, simply because those characteristics aren’t a defined/distinct romance market the way Christian inspirationals, same-sex, erotic, etc. are. I guess the question is whether the dominant form of the subgenre needs special protection. At this point, I’d say no.

  55. Robin/Janet
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 11:53:34

    @Merrian: This is a tough call for me, because while I agree with you that the prejudices are ugly, in more than a few cases, you have straight white women writing same sex Romances, which goes back to the issue of authenticity, which goes back to the issue of appropriation. If I were LGBTQI, I think I’d have a problem with straight women who are commercially profiting from same-sex Romance claiming discrimination against their LGBTQI characters.

    On the surface it seems like a positive, progressive thing, but I think you could argue that there’s a reverse privileging going on, because the straight author can turn around at any time and NOT face that discrimination that isn’t a choice for LGBTQI people. So for me the discrimination argument is a tough one to make without opening up several other cans of worms. Not that everyone will feel this way (and obviously there are LGBTQI people supporting these straight authors in making the discrimination argument), but I find it problematic in a way that could undermine the central goal of allowing LGBTQI Rom to be accepted as legitimate and valid.

  56. Sunita
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 12:41:07

    @Jackie Barbosa: As you know better than I, there are any number of special-interest chapters which have nothing to do with special-protection status: Beau Monde, Gothic, Hearts through History, Celtic Hearts, Fantasy Futuristic and Paranormal, and so on. So the argument for exclusion can’t be based on that (if anything is dominant in non-category romance it’s historical, and PNR must run a close second).

    The special-interest category has turned into something of a catchall, it seems to me. On the one hand you have groups that promote and provide information on substantive topics (e.g. Beau Monde), and on the other you have groups that address omissions or perceived shortcoming in existing RWA groups and policies (e-span, erotic, LGBT). I agree with you that “Romances like they used to be, no same-sex need apply” would not fit the latter, but I’m not entirely convinced it couldn’t be crafted to fit the former, however repugnant that might be to many people.

  57. Jackie Barbosa
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 12:56:58

    @Sunita: You’re right and I do see the inherent difficulty here in drawing a firm line in the sand on what is/is not worthy of being a “special interest group” or a legitimate genre/subgenre/area of interest. On some level, I am actually okay with the idea of a group of writers forming a chapter for what we might call “traditional romances”, and I suppose as long as it’s clear from their CHARTER that romances that fall outside the stated boundaries of traditional romances aren’t in their purview, then at least they are being completely upfront about their prejudices (in much the same way an erotic chapter is being upfront about ITS prejudices–sweet romances with no on-the-page sex are not their bailiwick). Whether that’s actually something that is LIKELY to occur is another matter, and I don’t know the answer. I do think it should be impermissible for a chapter that is specifically location-based (as RWI is, since it is the Tulsa chapter) to construct its charter in such a fashion.

    @Robin/Janet: I’ve been struggling with this dividing line between discrimination against actual people and discrimination against subject matter in fiction ever since this story broke. For example, while I’m completely supportive of and have even written some romances with same-sex characters, I am personally more drawn to m/m than f/f and so, I read/write the one and not the other. That isn’t because I’m AGAINST f/f romance or dislike lesbian couples in real life; it’s just not my flavor in the same way that paranormal romances tend not to be my flavor. That’s not to say I don’t think I could fairly judge an f/f romance if I drew one in a contest, though. I certainly hope I could set aside my preferences and view the book on its own merits regardless.

    Another data point that no one has mentioned, but I think is rather interesting is that, for a period of at least a year or two in the late ’00s, Ellora’s Cave specifically would not take submissions with f/f content. They felt f/f didn’t sell well to their buyers and, as such, they weren’t interested in contracting it. I believe they have since changed that position, but it raises that question of whether not accepting a particular subject matter is the moral equivalent of discriminating against the group of people that subject matter depicts. And frankly, I don’t have a good answer.

  58. KB/KT Grant
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 13:07:08

    Two weeks ago I did a Lesbian Appreciation Fiction Event on my blog that had some of the highest traffic numbers ever since I started my blog. I’m proof as an author who writes FF that it sells incredibly well. My one title has made more in a year than most straight, single title advance offers from traditional publishers. These epubs that don’t want to publish FF or feel there aren’t enough readers are really missing out in making a nice amount of money. My sale numbers for my FF titles are more than I ever thought possible, so much so that this year I’m going to publish mainly FF romance. And lately when I’ve been invited to write for an anthology or for a publisher, I asked them if I can write a FF story for them. The response has been very positive.

    And if I had to submit my titles, regardless of them being LGBT, I would want to submit them for genre categories and not necessarily a LGBT centric category.

  59. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 13:31:52

    @KB/KT Grant:

    I would want to submit them for genre categories and not necessarily a LGBT centric category.

    But would you want to risk being judged by someone for whom it’s uncomfortable, but is judging it anyway because they felt obligated to or didn’t want the fallout of refusing? Not everyone can put aside their prejudices.

    And now I’m thinking of all the times I’ve been asked to judge YA and PNR and refused because I don’t care for it, which means I don’t know the genre conventions to be a fair judge.

  60. KB/KT Grant
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 13:36:58

    @Moriah Jovan:

    Then what about those judges who have other prejudices based on religion or other issues such as romances or fiction featuring minority characters or characters with mental and physical handicaps? If they’re “uncomfortable” reading those types of stories, should they also come forward and say they don’t want to judge them and their reason why?

  61. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 13:41:12

    @KB/KT Grant: As far as I know, they do. It’s just not something judging coordinators talk about. A quiet note:

    “I have an entry with X; is that okay with you?”


    “Okay, thanks.” […] “I can’t get anybody to judge X. Will you do it anyway?”

    “If I must./No way in hell.”

    Nobody’s the wiser.

  62. Jackie Barbosa
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 13:47:30

    @KB/KT Grant: I know some people who have HUGE issues with any story line that features infidelity. It’s simply a hot button for them and they cannot fairly judge an entry that includes this plot point. I would absolutely expect that a contest judge who feels that way about any subject matter to notify the coordinator that he/she could not be fair. The same for if the judge received a manuscript/book that was written by a close friend or critique partner, and he/she knew his/her objectivity was in question.

    I’ve had to do the latter, by the way. I got a critique partner’s MS in the GH. I thought it was brilliant, of course, but I’d had so much input in the revisions over the course of its lifetime that I didn’t think it would be fair for me to just give it a 9. It would be almost like giving my OWN ms a 9, and that obviously wouldn’t be right.

  63. KB/KT Grant
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 14:00:14

    @Jackie Barbosa: I can understand that. But then in the case of those who don’t feel comfortable reviewing GLBT romance, what’s the answer? Unless there is a checklist given to judges first where they can indicate what they’re fine with reading and judging?

  64. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 14:02:13

    @KB/KT Grant: Yes. Some chapters do that.

  65. Sunita
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 14:05:51

    @Jackie Barbosa: That sounds right to me, although as an outsider I don’t know enough about chapter charter rules and RWA’s current policies and procedures to say anything intelligent about it. I wish much luck to the people working on this.

    Like Robin and you, I’m still grappling with the conflation of humans and fictional characters in this debate, and while I agree the issue has raised moral questions, I’m not sure how those can be straightforwardly addressed in an institution’s rules and procedures prohibiting discrimination against its members.

  66. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 14:16:30

    Let me add that this issue really has a deeper foundation than GLBT. It’s just that GLBT is the vehicle that’s bringing it up past the surface. The bigger issue is this: Who’s actually judging contest entries and what’s their level of writing ability?

    I remember the contests I judged in long, long ago in my stupid youth. I probably shouldn’t have been judging not because I couldn’t write, but because I couldn’t appreciate different voices and gave points off (and said some kind of harsh things) that I now regret. It wasn’t a matter of taste. It was a matter of my narrow field of vision and, more often than I care to remember, my ignorance and lack of life experience.

    Likewise, I knew a couple of women in the chapter who were judging, and they weren’t qualified to write a grocery list without help, but they wanted to help (judge) (two different things) so BADLY that, when the roster of available people grew short, they were called upon anyway. And entrants are supposed to take the feedback without a shred of knowledge that the judges know WTF they’re talking about.

    Basically what you’ve got is a pool of people who aspire to published writerdom submitting to a contest judged by other people who aspire to published writerdom. The level of skill and talent in the judging pool may be superior, inferior, or on par with the people they’re judging. It’s a total crap shoot.

    That’s assuming the chapter has enough personnel to cover the entries. Add in taste, hot buttons, and personal agendas, and, well…

    Quite frankly, I think the bigger (better) issue is writing and judging skill, but perhaps this debate will shine a brighter light on that.

  67. Merrian
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 15:15:04


    I thought about the writers and readers of LGBTQI and their many and various identities as I was writing my comments and don’t have an answer to your valid concerns except to say that the discrimination lies in the outcomes of the intentions [of RWI in this case] not in who the author or reader is.

  68. Ridley
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 15:17:32

    Is anyone else’s takeaway from this discussion that judged contests are basically meaningless? The more you guys explain, the less it sounds like these things establish anything but the judges own arbitrary tastes.

  69. Jackie Barbosa
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 15:27:57

    @Ridley: Is anyone else’s takeaway from this discussion that judged contests are basically meaningless? The more you guys explain, the less it sounds like these things establish anything but the judges own arbitrary tastes.

    I came to that conclusion a long time ago and stopped entering contests because I came to the realization that my scores had more to do with the judges’ likes and dislikes than with my competence as a writer.

    But then, is there any way to judge a book that isn’t based, at least in large part, on the reader’s arbitrary tastes? Setting aside really objective criteria like whether the punctuation, spelling, and grammar are mostly correct, don’t we all respond or not respond to books based largely on whether or not we liked/enjoyed it? And how is that anything but subjective and arbitrary?

  70. Ridley
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 15:47:42

    @Jackie Barbosa: Well, of course. What I think is poking at me, though, is you don’t really know what the judges qualifications are. Why is their opinion so valued that an award is based upon it? That’s what makes it meaningless. At least with a reviewer you have a review history to gauge how she comes to her opinion and how her tastes mesh with your own.

  71. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 15:51:47

    @Ridley: Yes, unless you have a bona fide editor or agent or multipublished author in the initial judging pool. Even with that it’s iffy if, to get there, you have to run the gauntlet of available judges before you get to that stage.

  72. Courtney Milan
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 17:32:05

    @Jackie Barbosa: You left off part of my qualification:

    1. General purpose chapters may not impose limitations on religion, gender, race, sexual orientation of characters.
    2. Special purpose chapters may impose limitations, but only insofar as that limitation is narrowly tailored to serve the special purpose of the chapter.

    Thus, Faith, Hope, and Love could say, “No characters who are atheists” (which I think they should be allowed to do) but not “no characters who are black.” The Beaumonde couldn’t impose any limitations.

    RWA keeps a pretty tight hand on when it allows chapters, and for what purpose, and so we will have to assume that they won’t allow anything ugly in the first place.

    I think contests have some arbitrary meaning but the signal-to-noise ratio is not very good.

  73. Tasha
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 20:47:56


    The key to all of this is, I think, RWA’s proclaimed mission, which is “advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy.” Once RWA starts allowing its geographical chapters to narrow that, say “advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers of heterosexual romance through networking and advocacy,” that’s when I have a problem (obviously the special interest chapters are allowed to narrow that definition).

    This really is what it is starting to come down to. Whether LGBT authors are for or against straight writers who produce m/m romance, the outcome of the RWI decision is the same: RWI has in essence says it has voted to advance ONLY the professional interests of romance writers whose books don’t make them “uncomfortable.” And I think RWA at some point needs to decide it it’s going to allow that and write it into the bylaws or whatever its policy documents are, perhaps by adding an asterisk to its definition of Romance and a note that says: feel free to completely ignore our definition of romance. Heaven knows we’d rather limit it to one man, one woman ourselves.

  74. Rosa
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 18:49:27

    @Ridley: Yes, that is so true! That is why we see more sub contest because we all bring our bias to the judging table. Its never the best book. Its the best book with elements of …romance, science, mystery, suspense etc… There is nothing wrong with that, especially if you are open and honest. I could never judge a Sci/fy book because I don’t enjoy them. I enjoy erotica but am VERY particular of the story line that many would say I don’t like erotica LOL.

  75. Wahoo Suze
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 21:37:38

    @Author on Vacation: It’s probably time to let this thread die, but I’ve been away the last couple of days and missed the end of the conversation.

    People of deep conviction will not necessarily change their minds about an issue because a vocal majority attempts to bully them into doing so.

    In my experience, people of deep conviction don’t change their minds for anything, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that their convictions are factually wrong. Uproars may more deeply entrench their views, but they were probably not going to change anyway. (And I will admit that I hold some deeply-held convictions that no amount of argument to the contrary will sway. I try really hard not to hold these convictions if they’re harmful to others. I’m not always successful.)

    Uproars may, though, bring an issue to the attention of somebody whose convictions are less deep, or who doesn’t have an opinion or awareness about the issue at all. It may cause them to educate themselves and form an opinion.

    If their opinions turn out to not be in line with mine, so be it. I hope, optimist that I am, that most people, when they think the issue through, will come down on the side of humanity, respect, equality, and compassion.

  76. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity has eyes like limpid pools
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 02:14:25

    […] and publishing news from Dear […]

  77. Melissa
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 09:11:22

    Really enjoyed reading this discussion — a lot of level heads here in terms of what is discrimination and who is being discriminated against.

    It is entirely possible that it’s not the lifestyle that squicks out these ladies, but the content that comes with LGBT writing. What do you get in m/m that is not typical in your average romance? Anal. If that’s not your bag at all, why would you want to read something in which anal will come up eventually and (probably) repeatedly?

    (And frankly, while there are many wonderful m/m books out there written by authors who get that writing romantic love scenes involves a certain finesse, as it the case with all genres of erotic romance, there is a lot of garbage out there that uses graphic violence and borderline rape in sex scenes. This could have easily scared off the ladies from OK. They were probably already looking at the prospect of reading straight garbage masquerading as romance.)

  78. LG
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 09:15:58

    @Melissa: “What do you get in m/m that is not typical in your average romance? Anal. If that’s not your bag at all, why would you want to read something in which anal will come up eventually and (probably) repeatedly?”

    That doesn’t really work, because not every m/m romance has anal sex. Heck, I’ve read m/m erotic romance that didn’t have anal sex. Plus, it can come up in m/f stories, too. If that’s the aspect that wasn’t their cup of tea, they could have just said “we won’t accept stories with anal sex in them.”

  79. Dani Alexander
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 09:34:41

    It is entirely possible that it’s not the lifestyle that squicks out these ladies, but the content that comes with LGBT writing. What do you get in m/m that is not typical in your average romance? Anal. If that’s not your bag at all, why would you want to read something in which anal will come up eventually and (probably) repeatedly?

    1. There are plenty of m/f couples practicing anal sex
    2. M/F novels have kinks that don’t appeal broadly, yet I didn’t see a list of sexual acts, I saw a specific IDENTITY targeted.
    3. This is the problem with this entire post where Jane uses the term “lifestyle” and everyone keeps referring to m/m. What about the LESBIAN titles? Please, for the love of all things good and holy, quit making excuses for these people.
    4. What is with the whole weirdness about anal sex? JHC It’s a hole, a dick goes in.
    5. My most recent book has no anal sex in it. Can I enter the freakin’ contest then? >>>8(
    6. Gay men and women have been judging het books and movies for years. I guess they just more grown up and able to handle things that don’t appeal to them sexually?

    And frankly, while there are many wonderful m/m books out there written by authors who get that writing romantic love scenes involves a certain finesse, as it the case with all genres of erotic romance, there is a lot of garbage out there that uses graphic violence and borderline rape in sex scenes. This could have easily scared off the ladies from OK. They were probably already looking at the prospect of reading straight garbage masquerading as romance.

    So, by your contention, the m/f garbage they’d have to wade through, but the same-sex “garbage” would be too much to add to their awful awful awful burden. Obviously bad same-sex novels are the last straw.

  80. Tasha
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 12:02:27


    This contest rejected all same-sex romance, not just m/m (there is such a thing as lesbians. No, really). Not only that, but it rejected all LGBT romance REGARDLESS of sexual content. Finally, I’m confused as to this alleged LGBT “lifestyle.” What lifestyle would that be? I hate the implication that all LGBT folks live their lives in an identical fashion while straight folk are allowed to live their lives however they’d like. “Lifestyle” and “sexual orientation” are two different things.

  81. Sirius
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 13:25:26

    @LG: And there are quite a few mm romances now which do not have explicit sex scenes in it at all, or in some sex even fades to black. I know, because barring some exceptions and some books which in addition to great plot and characters have just one or two sex scenes even if quite explicit, those are the books I seek out more often than not. By the way, my first “on page” introduction to anal sex was not from mm romances at all, it was when I used to read more het romances and was reading books by Beatrice Small for example. The only thing that stuck with me is very graphic, very detailed anal sex scene, I dont even remember the name of the book, I think Skye was the name of the heroine, maybe. But yeah, I agree with you LG.

  82. Sirius
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 13:26:57

    @Dani Alexander: Thank you Dani, you said everything I wanted to say :)

  83. Tasha
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 13:35:07

    @Dani Alexander:

    Thank you! I’m so sick and tired of people who keep framing this debate in terms of m/m and anal, and they’re wrong on both counts.

  84. azteclady
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 21:25:48

    @Melissa: Sexuality is not a “lifestyle” and hetero erotic romance has been chock full of anal sex for a decade, at least. So…sorry, doesn’t fly.

    shit, and apologies, because my answer doesn’t address the f/f issue either. Sorry, ladies.

  85. What is M/M Romance? | Yaoi Research
    Feb 20, 2012 @ 16:51:49

    […] Accessed Feb. 19, 2012. See also Dear Author’s report on the contest: <;. Accessed Feb. 19, […]

  86. Cervenka
    May 14, 2012 @ 12:16:55

    Rumor has it the RWI chapter has disbanded in the wake of the whole contest issue, citing issues with RWA National . On the one hand, it’s too bad they couldn’t resolve their issues. Then again, if they disbanded because of RWA’s new anti-discrimination policy, it’s difficult to feel too sympathetic.

%d bloggers like this: