Since our post about the RWA dumpster fire on December 27, Romancelandia has continued to be an absolute fustercluck, with ripples spreading in multiple directions since the initial censure of Courtney Milan on December 23. The Associated Press broke this story on December 27, and while most of the details of the various goings-on have been coming to light on Twitter and RWA forums, the story continues to be national news.
In the past two weeks, so much has happened that it would be difficult to adequately summarize here. For a detailed timeline of events, author Claire Ryan has maintained an updated thread with links to sources. If Twitter is your preferred venue, @RomancingNope has also been nearly live-tweeting updates in a continuing thread.
Here are the brief updates of the current state of RWA’s implosion:
- The recall petition sent by RWA members to the remaining Board was rejected, and CIMRWA notified membership to prepare an updated petition that would not be rejected. The updated petition was sent on December 31. RWA has confirmed receipt of the recall petition and confirmed today that there were enough signatures to force a recall election. It has until February 20th to hold the new recall election.
- Katherine Lynn Davis, one of the complainants in the original ethics complaint against Courtney Milan, speaks to the New York Times, and her comments in the article do not appear to match her original complaint. Then she speaks to The Guardian, providing additional information about the book deal at the center of her complaint.
- So many judges and authors resign from the RITA awards that RWA cancels the 2020 awards.
- Yesterday Avon and Harlequin, both owned by HarperCollins, pulled out of the 2020 RWA convention, followed by numerous other publishers as the day wore on. These are huge sponsors for the national convention.
- Earlier today, President Damon Suede and Executive Director Carol Ritter tendered their resignations. Suede in particular had come under increased scrutiny by former RWA board members, who questioned his qualifications for office per the organization’s bylaws.
Our sentiments regarding the Romancelandia remain unchanged, and we will continue to pursue an inclusive world of romance. At this point, after two weeks of fumbles by RWA national leadership, it seems impossible that the current Board and Executive Director will be able to manage this crisis and adequately course correct. It is also increasingly clear that the situation will not simply blow over, as RWA leadership (including some chapter leadership) seems to expect.
Regarding other actions we have taken as this situation has unfolded, we confirm that Erin resigned as a RITA judge. In addition, we signed the open letter to RWA prepared by Romance Sparks Joy on behalf of readers. This open letter was signed by more than 1300 readers, and pledges to boycott events and works by RWA national and its current Board members until RWA demonstrates that it is taking specific action to thoroughly evaluate what has gone wrong at the national level and to course correct in transparent and meaningful ways (please see the letter for specifics).