The RWA Hot Sheet

May 24, 2002

It's no secret in the romance writing community that RWA is currently experiencing problems between the leadership and some of its members. Things came to a head last weekend after it was announced that one board member had been removed from the board, another board member had resigned in protest, and the (closed to all but those who are members) RWA discussion lists would be closed effective May 31st. We hear that these events were taken as signals that the current leadership was acting to silence dissent, and a recall against at least some of the leadership is now under way. Interestingly enough, we understand that because the RWA member who would be responsible for overseeing any recall petition process is considered to have a conflict of interest, she has stepped aside, leaving the appointment of someone to take her place to the person who now faces recall.

My involvement in all this was strictly as a bystander. Because of my professional background in management, I found all the goings-on extremely interesting from an organizational behavior stand-point. So when I wandered by RWA's home page on Monday and found a public link to "The Latest News," and clicked it, I decided to share it with AAR's readership. I believed it to be an official statement from RWA and so copied it to AAR's Writer's News Message Board.

That link, made on a page open to the public, formalized the expulsion of board member Patricia Gardner Evans, the resignation of Eileen Wilks, and the closing down of the RWA discussion lists because of "the negative effect on the image of romance writers caused by the continual controversy on RWA’s listserves."

Because I felt the news was only of marginal interest to AAR's readership, I posted the news on our Writers News Message Board, which is the least frequented message board we have. So I was not surprised that only two responses were made to the posting. What I did find surprising were the series of emails my attorney and I received last night from RWA's lawyers regarding my post. RWA was concerned about a use of what it suggested was proprietary information; there was also the usual language about defamation and the protection of its legal rights, but we don’t need to go into more detail than that.

After working with RWA's legal counsel we have reached a logical solution. RWA probably did not intend for its Hot Sheet to go up on a page open to the public, but it did. We are not interested in taking advantage of technological glitches because we certainly have our share of them. As it was not RWA’s intent to publicly post its "members only" content, we have removed the verbatim language from our message board, as well as the link to where it was. For our purposes, I merely wanted to provide you with industry news, and I have.

What follows now are the two posts made to my original posting. The first is from author Donna Simpson. The second is from author Jo Beverley.

Donna Simpson: Is this related? I belong to a Canadian author's group call CRAN (Canadian Romance Author's Network) and recently received a mass post from Jo Beverley about the RWA trying to ditch their executive and go to a less democratic form of leadership. If I remember right that was the thrust anyway. I didn't pay too much attention since I do not belong to RWA. Maybe Jo could tell you something? Unless she can't as a member??

Jo Beverley: For the record, I posted about the President of RWA's column in the RWA magazine, where he put forward ideas as to various forms of administration that might work for the organization. They did seem to be less democratic than the current system, and I don't see the advantages, but he's entitled to theorize about different directions. The RWA e-mail links are highly valued by the members.Though I don't think the change is necessary, I believe they can work just as effectively without being an official part of RWA. I do not see this change as being a move away from democracy in the organization.

See also this ATBF editorial