Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Romance" vs. "romantic elements"

I heard the news this week that RWA (Romance Writers of America) is tightening its membership qualifications and has deleted the category of "novels with strong romantic elements" in its contests. I wonder if they are no longer accepting members who write novels with strong romantic elements as opposed to the conventional romance genres (historical, paranormal, etc.) In which case, do I have to turn in my "Pro" pin and membership card?

My books deal with what happens after the "happily ever after" requirements of a romantic novel: After the champagne has been drunk, the bridal gown packed away and the real stuff of living commences. And, they take place twenty-thirty years after the "happy ever after"  (HEA) ending requirement that leaves readers free to imagine decades of wedded bliss.

There is romance, of course. I can't picture a story without some element of romance because it is so much a part of life. In "Angels Unaware," Kat's happy ever after didn't work out as she'd dreamed, but when a new love comes along, she is stronger and more sure of herself--and able to embrace it.

In "The Lunch Club,"  each of the four women is touched by romance. Jane Anne is as in love with Larry as she was the day she married him. Beth and Dan have their problems, but love prevails. Harriet and Melody, both widows, find new loves when they thought romance was in their past, not their future. But the romance is secondary to the main plot. 

I'm aiming for more romance in my WIP. Marcie and Adam are attracted to each other, but each has a reason not to believe it will work out. Of course, we know it will. And they will achieve the HEA that RWA requires of its authors.

I don't know if it will be strong enough to pass muster. But I have to write the books that are in my head. So, no Alpha Males and Saucy, Sexy Heroines will take shape on my computer. Just characters who have been there, done that, and are wiser for the experience.



  1. Hi Sandy, very good point of vie in my opinion.


  2. I heard about this change over the weekend. I just don't understand why they keep changing things that only end up alienating minorities in the romance world. Last year they changed it so if you don't sell to a Big 6 and get at least $1000 advance you can't be recognized as a 'new' author until you've reached that dollar mile marker. I have a $2.99 novella. Do you realize how long it will take for me to earn $1000? After 6 months of sales I finally got my first check- under $25. At that rate it will take many years to get into the club on royalties even with two or three books selling. I'm not a new author anymore since it's been over a year since I sold my debut book already and I'm still not recognized by RWA as a sold author, because of a $$ sign.

  3. Try self-publishing - it's $5,000 per novel vs $1,000 for traditional pub. The justification is that we get more percentage return, but what about ALL the publishing/marketing costs we pay out of pocket? Hmm. As far as the HEA factor for RWA, I'm a YA author. My teens idea of "romance" is sex, not so much the committed "forever" part of life, especially by age nineteen. It's not even a believable scenario to write. My understanding is that you don't lose "membership" but status drops to "associate" with same fees attached, but no eligibility for PRO, PAN, or even voting rights. Hope RWA doesn't cut off its nose to spite its face. I'm taking a wait and see attitude, but don't intend on changing my writing to fit the guidelines. I'll lose my audience and they are signing my checks, not RWA.

  4. Sandy, keep doing what your heart and mind tell you. I think RMA is taking a giant back-ward leap. None of us expects the somewhat simplistic bodice rippers of the past any longer, and the outdated version RMA seems to embrace tends to ignore the complexities of modern life and relationships. So RMA is possibly going to lose you and many other terrific writers but it's RMA's loss, not yours. Keep up the great work! We are all very, very proud of you, and hope you stand by your high standards and principles. Nevertheless many writers ought to press RMA to reconsider this step.

  5. Sandy-keep doing what you are doing. I'd much rather read about a heroine with real life experience, gray hair, and cellulite than some ditzy bimbo. Bodice rippers? I'd dot his I for tearing my threads. You rock!

  6. Thankfully, what RWA does or doesn't do will not make or break your career. They do not determine who reads your books or who will publish them. Being a PRO member has gained me nothing as far as advancing my career. Agents and publishers weren't impressed. I could be a PAN member, but I don't see the benefit, so I haven't. Keep writing what is in your head and in your heart.

  7. Hi Sandy,

    I've seen of lot of outcries regarding the contest change but the membership rule has not changed:

    "Regarding the completely unfounded rumors that because of changes in the contests some members will be forced out of the organization or can no longer be General Members: The RWA Board has made absolutely no changes to membership classification, nor is it in the Board's power to do so. Those classifications are firmly established in the bylaws (see below) and can only be changed by a vote of the full membership."

    RWA is a good organization. Writers have more choices now than ever before in being published and keep on writing the stories that are in you! Those are the best.