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I'm So Angry Right Now!!!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007
I received my RWR two days ago and read it yesterday morning. You know what? Aside from the muscle spasm in my back that's been haunting me since Sunday, I've been in a pretty good mood.

It only took the “From the President” letter to piss me off again. In fact, I wrote the original version of this post yesterday, but had to take a day to cool off so I could approach this subject without a lot of swearing. Trust me. This is mild.

Jill Limber, as we know, is the president of RWA. And by all my far-removed interactions with her, I can't WAIT until she's gone. Really. Can't wait. If she quit tomorrow, it wouldn't be soon enough for her to leave. Because her attitude is atrocious!

Actually, I had to read the letter twice, just to make sure that I wasn't somehow mistaken in my interpretation.

Nope. She really does come off horribly.

Though I have to say, now I understand more of where she was coming from with her arrogant "you didn't really write a book" response during the AGM at the conference. She wrote this letter before the AGM even happened, so she was already annoyed that people didn't like her suggestions for change. Because Jill's the president, dammit, and we should all just shut up and fall in line.

RWA is not a democracy, she states. I'll give her this. If RWA was run as a pure democracy, it would probably shrivel up and die due to lack of participation. This was the first time I'd bothered to go to an AGM and I went because I knew there would be big things happening this year. Lots of issues that affected not only me, but many other authors who were at the conference. I doubt there were a hundred people in that room. Shame on you. If you made time to go to conference, you should have made time for this. You're right, it wouldn't have done any good, but at least I wouldn't be talking to a bunch of people right now going "What? What did I miss?" You missed a lot.

Anyway, RWA is an advocacy group, dontchaknow. The board made several suggestions and asked for input. Then she spent the entire letter moaning about how all she heard were how individuals would be affected by these changes. Should I be confused?

She even posits herself as some kind of JFK wannabe. Ask not what RWA can do for you, ask what you can do for RWA. Well, Jill, at least as an American citizen, I can voice my opinion on anything I damn well please. Looks like I can't do that at RWA, without getting slapped down. Even though I PAY for the privilege of 'citizenship' there.

Jill appears to be trying for cutting wit in her rebuttal of member suggestions. Instead, she comes off as a frothing despot, screeching ineffectually, "Off with their heads!"

Read a little deeper. See the common thread? The one binding theme of the suggestions she picked out seems to be that RWA is NOT advocating for everyone. Sounds like someone didn't do too well in their literature classes if she can't be bothered with even a superficial analysis like that. Some of the comments highlighted in her letter sound like legitimate concerns to me, but all she can whine about is how they don’t fall in line with “what’s best for RWA.”

I don’t know how to make this any clearer. What’s best for RWA is what’s best for authors. No matter what they write, no matter if they publish online or on paper.

She's shutting out hundreds of authors For Our Own Good. Can't you people see that? It's "a trade association for networking, education, and advocacy." Unless you write for a group that RWA has chosen to marginalize, however delicately they phrase it.

Let me take this moment to reiterate how stunned I was at the sheer ignorance of the board on the state of electronic publishing. Ellora's Cave has been around for several years. Samhain and LooseId became RWA "recognized" last year before that designation became obsolete. How effective can an advocacy organization be when they don't have the first clue about how hundreds of their authors do business? I don't want to think they were intentionally blind, but my God. They'd pretty much have to be to display such wanton disregard for commonly available knowledge.

Again, she closes her letter with: "RWA...supports career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy. This is the best we can do for each individual member." Unless you disagree with her.

In closing, don't you DARE mock me, Jill. Or try to spank me for disagreeing with you. You set yourself up as the leader of this organization, so you can take my opinion for the Truth As I See It. You're a public figure now, so suck it up. RWA isn't advocating for me in the slightest, so that high horse you're on? Get off. And stay off.
8/07/2007 11:40:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 32 Comments


Well, I'm glad you took that extra day to cool off, Sela. LOL!

I'm not a member, but certainly understand your feelings. Can't imagine an e-book author not resenting the implications of what they've put out there--this advocacy group that chooses to overlook a VERY large percentage of the peeps they collect dues from.

By Blogger raine, at 11:49 AM  

Whew...I feel tired after reading that. ROFL

I know what you mean. I was angered by her letter when I read it, too. It seemed like she was condescending in tone, and I didn't appreciate that!!

So good for you for standing up for what you feel is right! If only more people did that.

Oh, and BTW--had I been at the conference, you bet I'd have been at the AGM!


By Blogger Rhonda Stapleton, at 12:06 PM  

I just read it. You're right-there is no way to make that letter sound less petulant, less snooty. A little like nails on a chalkboard.
Sigh-power goes to some people's heads like wine...others like a lobotomy. :(

By Blogger R.G. ALEXANDER, at 12:17 PM  

I haven't read mine yet, and I will, but after hearing her speak at the funcions, I already knew her tone would be less than kind toward anyone who didn't do thing's "the right way". But of course, only those with the "nod" are doing them the right way to begin with anyway.

I don't blame you for being mad. It's amazing how many they collect from while still staring down their noses at the product those members produce. (I'm generalizing, but yes, I'm one of them too.)

It's a good post, Sela, and you are well within your rights to rant.

By Blogger Diana Castilleja, at 12:19 PM  

Raine, you should have seen the first draft!

Rhonda, thanks for responding. It really gets in my craw when people tell me they're stepping on me for my own good.

RG, you're funny. *gg*

Diana, it's like watching a bad caricature now. Unfortunately, she's part of the establishment that makes the RWA cartoonish, too.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 1:41 PM  

Sela, I totally agree. That letter struck me as incredibly condescending and snobby when I read it. I even read it again to see if I was being too sensitive, or reading in stuff that wasn't there. Nope, I read it right the first time, basically "my way or the highway" mentality. Great post Sela!

By Blogger Christina, at 2:10 PM  

Christina, I think part of what got me was that it was the sort of soft backhand that most people shrug off because they feel that maybe they're being too sensitive or too touchy. I felt that way, too, but I just kept getting madder and madder the more I thought about it.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 2:22 PM  

Sela, well put, but why the surprise? The membership that counts are the ones on the top seller lists in NY, and this is pandering to their companies. It may not be completely transparent, but I'd stake a lot on that. Most "professional organizations" are self-serving, in fact, it's a bona fide industry, with their own trade shows on how to do it right. I was dismayed recently to read a few rather snobbish comments from some of those RWA superstars. It wasn't about protecting the interests of all romance writers; but about keeping the club small. Sniff, in fact, two of my former favorite authors... I wish people would stop sucking up to this organization, fawning over pins or whatever. RWA has their own definition of romance, of who counts and who doesn't. It will take fresh blood and time to change it from within, if ever. I would love to see another organization formed (aside from EPIC, which does self-define as electronically published) come up against RWA. Anyway, good post, and I would have liked to read the unedited version :o)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:47 PM  

*sigh* I suppose you're right, Ciar. I shouldn't be surprised at the inbreeding that goes on in organizations. I think I'm surprised that she's going public with her attitude. Most people are better at hiding their zealously self-righteous tendencies.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 6:49 PM  

"I would love to see another organization formed (aside from EPIC, which does self-define as electronically published) come up against RWA. Anyway, good post, and I would have liked to read the unedited version :o) "
Good point Ciar...I'm thinking it all starts with DivaCon :)

By Blogger R.G. ALEXANDER, at 7:45 PM  

WOW, All I can say is I'm really glad I didn't renew my membership. LOL I love the authors I've met and friends I've made through the confrence, but honestly, I'm not a fan of the organization itself.

I'm sorry this is so stressfull. Belonging to a group should never be this stresfull.


By Anonymous Sasha, at 9:10 PM  

Man, you clipped a lot out. ;-)

I'm not a member, and this is exactly why. Not to say I wouldn't LIKE to be a member, but right now there's nothing that they can do for me, so why pay them? And now that I watch the goings on regularly, I don't know that I'd become a member at all.

By Blogger Eva Gale, at 10:55 PM  

RG, I'd love to see a DivaCon someday!

Sasha, you're right. It's a really difficult time to be a member. I've just put in an application for EPIC, but I'm still not sure whether I'll keep my RWA membership. On the one hand, it's a PITA and my blood pressure would certainly thank me for leaving. On the other, how can the organization become what we need it to be unless it's through the membership? The horns of a dilemma.

Briana, yeah, I edited. Heavily. *gg*

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 10:58 PM  

I felt her letter was very easily open to misinterpretation. I had to read it twice to see that her pity fest was not comments received but comments about her work....I think.
Unfortunately it came across as small minded and petty.
I am uncertain why she felt the need to write the column on that subject, even if it was occupying her mind at that time. The debate is over and done with. And all her column did was to potentially open up barely healed wounds.

By Blogger Michelle Styles, at 3:29 AM  

My eyebrows hit my hairline at the part about "letter just saying this is unfair to me" and stayed there through the whole thing.

By Blogger December/Stacia, at 4:41 AM  

I would have to say that a lot of people are short sighted. The woman I walked out of the AGM with said, "Why are they even bothering. It's not like anyone will be effected by this. Who cares." She was talking about epublishing and then she went on to say that at least half of the people never had to worry about this issue because they would be published by one of the big house. Excuse me! Over half of the people at Nationals in the next year would make it to being published by one of the big house. Someboy is smoking funky weed.

By Blogger Sara Thacker, at 6:43 AM  

Yep, I read that article and thought "Exactly what am I paying for each year?" Very condescending letter that didn't exactly inspire me to open up my pocketbook next year and shell out more money to an organization who constantly harps on how they are an advocacy group for authors...but aren't.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:23 AM  

After reading this post, I'm sooo glad I didn't renew my RWA membership.

I'm happy with being epublished. I don't care about print. Many epublished authors feel the same way I do. Not everyone will go after NY publishers contracts. After so many years, RWA needs to shape because it's a dying dinosaur.

By Blogger Tempest Knight, at 10:58 AM  

Wow - this makes me think twice about joining.

I think that it's amazing the attitudes that are making their way into the public.

I do find that it's very interesting when most things are done online through the internet - book purchases included that the stand for this is what it is.

But one of these days - people will only buy their books online probably as we see technology progress.

Sorry to hear about this.

Best wishes for a better rest of the week!


By Blogger Tammi Flora, at 1:18 PM  

Michelle, based on her attitude at the AGM, I fear she cares very little for our opinions -- whether she asked for them or not.

December, I know that feeling. "She didn't really say that, did she? Nah. She couldn't have. OMG. She did!"

Sara, I'm honestly surprised at how little some people know about their industry. Most of the e-published authors I know understand quite a bit about both the electronic and traditional print process of publishing. But it seems that many of the traditionally published authors can't be bothered to learn about how we work. Maybe they're hoping we'll just go away.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 2:42 PM  

Tempest, I love being e-published. If the opportunity arises for me to go to a print house, I'll take it, but ideally, I'd always maintain a good relationship with my e-publishers.

Tammi, I'm sorry that the professional organizations in our industry seem to be in such turmoil as you're beginning your writing career. However, maybe it's for the best. For an organization to surive, it needs constant infusions of new blood. Lots of new authors are being scared off by RWAs attitude -- where will their new members come from?

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 2:44 PM  

I went to the AGM. It made the Jerry Springer show look like Sesame Street.

And when I read the letter in the RWR, I have to say I'm at the point where I just laughed and asked myself when the elections were again.

By Blogger Shelli Stevens, at 3:30 PM  

The politics of RWA basically sucks, and the impression I got in Dallas from RWA leadership seemed more about what was good for a chosen for and not the organization as a whole. this isn't true of most of the other writers I met who were supportive and encouraging. Kudos Sela for speaking out so strongly.

By Anonymous debi, at 5:03 PM  

Damn Sela. Well said! PLEASE send this post in as a Letter to the Editor. Seriously.

My RWR was waiting for me last night when I got home from Europe but I haven't had a chance to read it. Now I can't wait!

By Blogger Amanda Brice, at 5:20 PM  

Well, no surprise but it really bugged me. Not that she disagreed, whatever, that's life. But that she had the audacity to mock anyone who disagreed with her and actually took the time to respond to a request for feedback. Hell yes people responded about their own careers, that's why we belong to an advocacy organization for what we do.

The saddest thing is that other board members have been open and really trying to hear what people have been saying. This sort of thing totally derails that.

By Anonymous Lauren, at 8:01 PM  

LOL Shelli. I now have unkind visions of Ms Limber as Oscar the Grouch.

Debi, I'm afraid it's true. The real trick will be convincing them that there's room for everyone.

Thanks, Amanda. I've gone this far, I may as well bury myself a little further. From the comments, I've learned that many of us felt the same way.

Lauren, I'd love to hear from some of the board members on this issue. She's the public face of this organization and they need to do damage control -- how can we know their opinion unless they say it out loud where people can hear? I can't find them anywhere and I would love to know more.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 10:04 AM  

I don't have a horse in this race regarding the epub issue. However, I found her letter incredibly insulting.

I've never understood this RWA uber alles attitude.

By Blogger Jaye Wells, at 3:30 PM  

No one understands it, Jaye. I mean, seriously. How does alienating a third of your membership make sense to anyone?

I was thinking about the Letter to the Editor. I might still do it, but it would require drastic rewrites since they don't publish "letters that attack an individual." And this rant is pretty much telling Jill Limber where to get off.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 3:31 PM  

Stephanie Feagan responds. I won't. I've said my piece here and that's it, but I thought y'all might be interested.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 7:29 PM  

This is why I'm no longer a member. My BP is high enough, thanks. [grin]

By Blogger Carolan Ivey, at 10:09 AM  

Wow. Uhm, Sela, not to resurrect, but I just read S. Feagan's response. I got the following out of it:

1. As one of the "little people", you have neither the power nor the right to express your discontent or your anger over the decisions made by an elected board. While you may pay for the privilege of membership, you are still not allowed to publically disagree with the current fountain head occupying the seat of power. Again, you are one of the "little people." It is our right, as more well-known, recognizable MULTIPUBLISHED authors on this prestigious board to ask for money from the unwashed masses, then ask them to bend over and take it without complaint. Any disagreement you might have, legitimate or otherwise, will be seen as nothing more than sour grapes, jealousy and an unconsidered shot from the hip. In essence, disagree with us in public, and we will make certain to besmirch your name to THE POWERS THAT BE because we are never wrong; we are only misunderstood.

2. We are far more important than you are, and our word is law. Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.

Seriously, that blog entry is the deciding factor for me in not re-upping my membership. That's money I can spend elsewhere where I'm not seen as muck on someone's stiletto.

And oh God, can we please retire that worn out jealousy card? I see that rolled out every time a dissenting voice pops up. It doesn't matter if the dissenter is a raving lunatic or well-reasoned debater. The monstrously flawed statement "You're just jealous!" always rears its moronic head. Can we please have a more reasoned rebuttal? Something that actually has a thread of logic in it?

I'm one of the "little people." I understand the need for discretion, especially in a community that is small and ultra-sensitive to criticism on several levels. However, as a paying member, I believe I have the right to express my displeasure, my outrage or my unease with decisions made and follow that up with the power of my vote and/or communication with the board. Ms. Feagan may feel it necessary to admonish the rabble rousers for rocking the boat, but I suggest she turn that sanctimonious GREAT EYE toward the people she defended in that poorly cloaked entry. Anyone who tells a membership of 9k+ people to quit being asshats and suck it up, they know what's best, is someone who needs to be reminded that discretion is the better part of valor - MULTIPUBLISHED or not (I still have yet to understand how this makes Ms. Limber's condescending letter anymore justified or valid.) Rude is just rude.

I was actually 50/50 on the board's decision when this first came up at the AGM. I could see both sides, agreed with some, disagreed with others. After hearing that the board would redress some of the issues, I figured I'd re-up my membership for next year and see what happens. However, after reading that letter from Ms. Limber and that blog entry from Ms. Feagan, I think I'll pass. I try to play by the rules, not make waves, not be controversial and try to be polite and friendly to everyone. However, I have serious issues when I read a blog post with an implied threat that if I speak out against authors (even in the most polite terms) more well-known and influential than myself, I'll be cannoned for it. I smell an abuse of power here. No thanks. I'm all for render onto Caesar, but these women aren't empresses, and I have no wish to pay for the privilege of being shafted and looked down on as unworthy of consideration. I figure it's no skin off anyone's nose if I take my "little person" self and my measley $100.00 and leave.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:57 PM  

I don't have a dog in the race on the epub issue, either. But I finally just got fed up with the unprofessional, cliquish atmosphere. I quit back in July, even though my membership wasn't up for renewal until March.

I still got a copy of the August RWR, anyway. It went right into the circular file after I read Limber's letter. Although it certainly would be entertaining to read all the letters to the editor that I'm sure are on the way, I'm frankly just relieved to be gone from the organization. :-)

By Blogger Lynne Simpson, at 7:58 PM  

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