Authors to RWA


The following letter was emailed to Mr. Suede and Mses. Alward, Dixon, McMurry, Rhys Barnes, and Ryan on December 30, 2019 at 1:41 p.m. EST from Romance Sparks Joy on behalf of a Group of Concerned Authors Judging and Entered in the RITA Awards. A hard copy of the letter is to follow.

Dear Mr. Suede and Mses. Alward, Dixon, McMurry, Rhys Barnes, and Ryan:

We are a group of individuals with different life experiences, backgrounds, and writing careers, but we all have one thing in common: We believe that Romance as a genre has the capacity to truly be a place where everyone can have an HEA.

Most of us do many other things besides write books, yet we have all committed in recent years to try to make RWA a better place for marginalized voices, to make it a place of acceptance, because we believed that change could come from within. There have been low moments, but there have also been some signs that RWA was making an effort as an organization to combat the unbearable whiteness and heteronormativity that has been the historical legacy of romance. We no longer believe that change is what RWA really wants.

The RITAs is a contest that claims to be “the highest award of distinction in romance fiction,” one that “recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas.” This is an award for posterity, one that is memorialized forever as being the absolute best of what romance had to offer in that year. Some of us have long dreamed of being able to claim this honor ourselves.

After years of watching mediocre, problematic, and even racist books land on the finalists lists, it became clear that something was very wrong with the process. Many of us saw the opportunity to become RITA judges as a way of helping the award to be better and to truly represent the best of romance. We specifically volunteered our time as judges and have submitted our books in the hopes of creating a more fair, equitable, and inclusive RITA award. We were working to be the change RWA said it wanted.

However, it is now clear that the Romance Writers of America do not actually care about what is best for romance, they only care about what is best for RWA and a very narrow swath of its membership. By sanctioning Courtney Milan for failing to “create a safe and respectful” environment for the community of writers, RWA has made the act of judging the RWA contest, at best, impossible, and at worst, a very public stand alongside racists to say their behavior is okay. Racism is never okay. 

The organization’s stance is now that pointing out any kind of problematic element in a text is viewed as an attack on the author and that calling out racists and problematic behavior is not acceptable and will be subject to swift retribution. All this, while simultaneously allowing destructive racism and discrimination of all kinds to become a cancer in our organization by protecting it under the guise of “free speech,” signaling to those perpetuating the problem that their behavior is perfectly fine. It is not fine to protect racist and hateful speech while punishing those who stand up to it, and we do not accept it as fine. We will stand up and call out discrimination when we see it. We will not be silent. We will not be polite.

We, therefore, withdraw our names as judges for the RITA awards and withdraw our books for consideration for the RITA award. We will continue to stand up to racism, especially when it is protected and perpetuated by the very organization that was created to serve us all. We stand with Courtney Milan.


Michelle Boule (RWA Member), Olivia Dade (RWA Member; author of Teach Me), KJ Charles, Katee Robert (RWA Member; author of Learn My Lesson), Mary Ann Marlowe (RWA Member; author of Dating by the Book), Kristin Rockaway (RWA Member; author of How to Hack a Heartbreak), Tessa Dare (RWA Member), Carrie Lomax (RWA Member; author of Twelve Nights of Scandal), Ruby Lang (RWA Member; author of Open House), Suzanne Brockmann (RWA Member), Carol Prescott (RWA Member), Katy James (RWA Member), J. V. Speyer (RWA Member), Julie Hamilton (RWA Member), Savannah J. Frierson (RWA Member; author of Be Mine and A Professional Pact), Renee Dahlia (RWA Member; author of Liability), Sarah MacLean (RWA Member), Megan Frampton (RWA Member; author of Never a Bride and The Earl’s Christmas Pearl), Zaida Polanco (RWA Member; author of Extra Credit), Eva Leigh/Zoe Archer (RWA Member; author of My Fake Rake), Lyn Liao Butler (RWA Member), Jillian David (RWA Member; author of Legacy Found), Falon Ballard (RWA Member), Elysabeth Grace (RWA Member), Cassandra O’Leary (RWA Member; author of Girl on a Plane), Shelly Bell (RWA Member; author of For His Pleasure), Adele Buck (RWA Member), Tamara Lush (RWA Member; author of All I Want and All I Do), Ainsley Wynter (RWA Member; author of Kissed at Midnight), Felicia Grossman (RWA Member; author of Appetites & Vices and Dalliances & Devotion), Joanna Shupe (RWA Member; author of The Rogue of Fifth Avenue and The Prince of Broadway), Elyssa Patrick (RWA Member; author of The Devil on Your Shoulder), S.S. Jaxon (RWA Member), Shae Connor (RWA Member), Susanna Kearsley (RWA Member), Elizabeth Spaur (RWA Member; author of Bootleg Love Affair), Michelle Hazen (RWA Member; author of Unbreak Me), Rebecca Hefner (RWA Member; author of The Elusive Sun), Risa Edwards (RWA Member), Jennifer Hoopes (RWA Member; author of His Reason to Stay), Everly Lucas (RWA Member; author of The Last Word), Melonie Johnson (RWA Member; author of Getting Hot With the Scot, Smitten By the Brit), Mariah Ankenman (RWA Member; author of The Best Friend Problem), Sara Whitney (RWA Member; author of Tempting Heat), Shannyn Schroeder (RWA Member; author of My Best Friend’s Ex), Tamsen Parker (RWA Member; author of For Her Own Good), Naomi Nelson (RWA Member), Evie Jamison (RWA Member), Rachel Lacey (RWA Member; author of Lost in Paradise), April Humt (RWA Member; author of Deadly Obsession & Lethal Redemption), Sierra Simone (RWA Member; author of Misadventures of a Curvy Girl), AJ Pine (RWA Member; author of Cowboy to the Rescue), Asa Maria Bradley (RWA Member; author of Loki Ascending and Flash of Fear), Colette Dixon (RWA Member; author of A Beautiful Risk), Suzanne Tierney (RWA Member; author of The Art of the Scandal), Hannah Murray (RWA Member; author of Honey and the Hitman), Mia Sosa (RWA Member; author of Crashing Into Her), Carrie Ann Ryan (RWA Member; author of Wrapped in Ink), Taryn Kincaid (RWA Member), Romy Sommer (RWA Member), Sela Carsen (RWA Member; author of Ace’s Odds), Sara Ohlin (RWA Member; author of Salvaging Love), Cynthia Diamond (RWA Member), Alice Faris (RWA Member; author of Jock Blocked), Claire Marti (RWA Member; author of Nobody Else But You and The Very Thought of You), Diana Lloyd (RWA Member), Theresa Romain (RWA Member; author of Rhapsody for Two), A.R. Case (RWA Member; author of Dreams in the Dark and Hope to Lie), Christine d’Abo (RWA Member), Lisa Lin (RWA Member), Jen DeLuca (RWA Member; author of Well Met), Vanessa North (RWA Member; author of Hard Chrome), Andie J. Christopher (RWA Member; author of Not the Girl You Marry), Trisha Tunis (RWA Member), Zoe York/Ainsley Booth (RWA Member; author of All That They Desire/Wicked Sin), Lynne Silver (RWA Member), Jenny Holiday (RWA Member; author of Three Little Words), Melissa Cutler (RWA Member), Sionna Fox (RWA Member), Rhonda Merwarth (RWA Member), Aliza Mann (RWA Member; author of Breaking His Rules), Veronica Scott (RWA Member; author of Camron: A Badari Warriors SciFi Romance), Kimberly Malmgren (RWA Member), M. L. Rhodes (RWA Member; author of Hometown Hearts), Susannah Nix (RWA Member; author of Applied Electromagnetism and Fallen Star), Michelle Orloff, writing as Michelle McCraw (RWA Member), Marielle Browne (RWA Member), Meka James (RWA Member; author of Anything Once), Ellis Leigh (RWA Member; author of Penance), M. Malone (RWA Member; author of Before You Go), Liana De la Rosa (RWA Member; author of To Tame A Scandalous Lady), Ruby Scalera (RWA Member; author of Most Wanted), Nicola Cameron (RWA Member), Kristan Higgins (RWA Member), Brooke Blair (RWA Member), Kay Blake (RWA Member), Annabelle Anders/ Ann Anderson Martinez (RWA Member; author of The Perfect Debutante and Lady At Last), Naima Bryant (RWA Member), Tina Susedik (RWA Member; author of The Balcony Girl), Amy Cissell (RWA Member; author of Belle of the Ball), Nam Patel (RWA Member), Alexis Daria (RWA Member), Kathy Douglass (RWA Member), Catherine Stein (RWA Member; author of Eden’s Voice), Tiara Inserto (RWA Member; author of Always you), Brittany Kelley (RWA Member), Gina L. Maxwell (RWA Member; author of Hook and Pan), Jody Wallace (RWA Member; author of Catalyst), Christy Jeffries (RWA Member; author of The SEAL’s Secret Daughter), Serena Bell (RWA Member; author of Holding Out), Jenny Evans (RWA Member), Evie Drae (RWA Member; author of Signed up to judge), Alexandra Haughton (RWA Member), Melanie Hansen (RWA Member; author of Keeping a Warrior), Tracy Brohan (RWA Member; author of My Kind of Forever), Tracy Brogan (RWA Member; author of Weather or Knot), Lucy Eden (RWA Member; author of An Angel for Daddy & Everything’s Better with Lisa), Susannah Erwin (RWA Member; author of Wanted: Billionaire’s Wife), Caroline Linden (RWA Member; author of Judging only), Mia Lansford (RWA Member; author of It’s Gonna Be Love), Elizabeth Essex (RWA Member; author of The Difference One Duke Makes and A Lady’s Gift for Scandal), Anthea Sharp (RWA Member; author of Star Compass), Kerry Adrienne (RWA Member), Michelle Mars (RWA Member; author of Moving Jack), Shelley Kyle/ A.K. Shelley (RWA Member; author of Star Knight Errant: Thrust), Jayce Ellis (RWA Member), Kara Isaac (RWA Member; author of One Thing I Know), Jennifer Proffitt (RWA Member), Katrina Jackson (author of Private Eye), Miranda Darrow (RWA Member), Elizabeth Kerri Mahon (RWA Member; author of Scandalous Women), Avery Flynn (RWA Member), Jenn LeBlanc (RWA Member; author of The Lady and Her Secret Lover), Rebecca Norinne (RWA Member), Paris Hansen (RWA Member), Jocelyn Adler (RWA Member), Maureen Smith (RWA Member; author of Sin Bin), Sandra Schwab (RWA Member), Susanna Craig (RWA Member; author of The Lady’s Deception), Xio Axelrod (RWA Member), Rochelle Alers (RWA Member; author of The Bridal Suite), Amris Allemand, Faye Delacour (RWA Member), Melissa Mackey, Jacqueline Lee, Esther Theia, Jenny Rae Rappaport, Liz Lincoln Steiner (RWA Member), Susan Eide, Georgina Kiersten (author of Crave), Betsy Brazy, Kim Licki, Jaz Twersky, Dontana McPherson-Joseph, Joey Blue (author of Raw A Survival Story by Joey Blue), Christi Caldwell (RWA Member; author of The Spitfire), Roan Parrish (RWA Member; author of Raze), Kate Bateman (RWA Member; author of This Earl of Mine and The Promise Of A Kiss), Genevieve Jack (RWA Member; author of The Dragon of New Orleans and Windy City Dragon), Shelly Chalmers (RWA Member; author of Must Love War), Jaye Em Edgecliff (author of Now & Forever (series)), Annie Rains (RWA Member; author of Springtime at Hope Cottage), Rochelle Phillips (RWA Member), Sadie Haller (RWA Member), Rebel Carter (RWA Member; author of Heart and Hand), Jenny Gardiner (RWA Member), Keri Stevens (author of Stone Kissed), Elisa Beatty (RWA Member), Sarah M. Eden (RWA Member; author of The Heart of a Vicar and The Lady and the Highwayman), Jackie Lau (RWA Member; author of Man vs. Durian and Ice Cream Lover), Maxym M. Martineau (RWA Member; author of Kingdom of Exiles), Katey Hawthorne (RWA Member; author of The Rise of Virginie), Tessa Layne (RWA Member; author of Mr. White and Ride Hard), Jo McNally (RWA Member; author of Stealing Kisses in the Snow and It Started at Christmas…), Maria Vale (RWA Member; author of Forever Wolf), Jennie Davids (RWA Member; author of New Ink on Life), Laurel Greer (RWA Member; author of A Father for Her Child), Angela Quarles (RWA Member; author of Some Like It Plaid), Nancy Yeager (RWA Member; author of Two Scandals Are Better Than One and Third Husband’s the Charm), Claire Davon (RWA Member; author of Gorgon’s Curse), Diana Muñoz Stewart (RWA Member; author of The Price of Grace and The Cost of Honor), Sharon Abraham (RWA Member), Rashida Scholz w/a Jasmine Silvera (RWA Member; author of The Talon & the Blade), Carrie Nichols (RWA Member; author of The Scrooge of Loon Lake), Melanie Greene (RWA Member; author of Twelve Scorching Days), Stacy Gold (RWA Member), Shree C Aier (RWA Member), Brighton Walsh (RWA Member; author of Hometown Troublemaker), Elia Winters (RWA Member; author of Three For All and Just Past Two), Alexandra Sterling (RWA Member), Jami Gold (RWA Member; author of Ironclad Devotion), Anna Zabo (RWA Member; author of Reverb), Jessie Mihalik (RWA Member; author of Polaris Rising and Aurora Blazing), Meghan Ciana Doidge (RWA Member; author of Demons and DNA (Amplifier 1) and Bonds and Broken Dreams (Amplifier 2)), Jack Harbon (author of Daddy), Casey Hagen (RWA Member), J. Kenner (RWA Member; author of Ruined with You and Shattered with You), Amy Quinton (RWA Member; author of What the Rake Remembers), and Tara Crescent (RWA Member; author of Not You Again)