I’m just home from a whirlwind trip to New York for the 2015 Romance Writers of America conference. It was a fabulous week, filled with meet-and-greets with lots of author friends plus a few NYC locals, plus some really good content on the pro-writing side of things.
I only made it to two panel sessions during the conference, but both were great. The first, “Diversity in Romance: Why It Matters,” featured five authors (four POC authors) who had wonderful things to say about, well, why diversity matters. One of the panelists, Alisha Rai, compiled a Storify of many of the tweets from the panel. (I especially loved her “duke-fic” analogy, LOL.) The second panel, “The Human Experience: Throwing Away Stereotypes and Creating Realistically Diverse Characters through Empathy,” included the awesome Farrah Rochon, who was also on the first panel (and who I assured I was not stalking!), and Suzanne Brockmann.
Yes, diversity was a big topic of discussion at RWA this year. It’s one of the ongoing issues in the romance genre, and one that’s changing, albeit slowly. Romances about and written by people of color, LGBT people, and people with disabilities are gradually becoming more and more common and are working their way into the “mainstream” of the genre, rather than being relegated to the sides—though that still happens too. It’s a slow process to change decades of industry practice, but many amazing, smart women are making it happen.
(Adding a bit to the discussion, while I was at RWA, my July Outside the Margins post went up: Mainstreaming the Rainbow.)
One of the best things about RWA is that the “official” events are just the tip of iceberg. I attended a grand total of four events: the Literacy Autographing, the two panels, and the RITA/Golden Hearts awards ceremony. The rest of my time was spent in small groups or one-on-one discussions with other industry professionals. I was part of a critique workshop on Thursday afternoon that gave me some great insight into one of my works in progress, had a meet-up with members of a Facebook author group, and ate several meals with author friends. But mostly, I spent many hours just hanging out in the lobby, chatting with whoever was around. I met so many people I’m afraid to list them for fear of leaving some out!
So now I’m back home, tired and brain-dead, but at the same time energized and ready to dive back into my works in progress. Too bad I’m still booked up with Dragon Con and my sister’s wedding on the horizon!