I'm copying my thoughts here but providing a link back to LaShaunda's blog, where I hope there will be a lively dialogue on the topic: http://lashaunda.blogspot.com
Okay. Once again I have learned something about the writing world from you, LaShaunda. It never occurred to me that we were underrepresented in the RWA awards, although it probably should have. I've looked at enough RWA chapter sites and seen few, if any, pictures or even names of AA authors, at least ones that I'm familiar with (and I read pretty extensively, both in breadth and quantity).
So I had to go to RWA's site and do a little research. Yup. Just as I suspected, not one AA author on any of the comprehensive listings of past winners nor this year's current nominees, with one exception. Shirley Hailstock will receive the 2006 Emma Merritt Award for outstanding service to the RWA organization this year, likely for her work as president. (Congratulations Shirley!)
So usually when underrepresentation is the case, we, the affected group, do one of two things: create our own or get involved (increase membership and move into positions of influence/leadership in order to make change). I think the Romance Slam Jam awards serve the first purpose. I do agree, however, that RWA should create a separate Multicultural award. Yet, this is more complex than it sounds because multicultural authors will get shafted by having to compete for a single award when their works span the same subgenres that are already recognized by multiple awards. (The same thing is true of inspirational/Christian fiction.)
What about the second purpose, getting involved? Maybe someone can comment on whether there is an increasing number of AA authors getting involved in their local chapters, and more importantly, for the purposes of influence, at the national level. Michelle Monkou is now involved nationally, I believe. Maybe she has some insight.
I've said all that to say RWA is pretty much like many other organizations in America. As an aspiring romance author, I guess it will matter more to me when I'm actually published. A little disappointing (who doesn't like to get awards?) but it doesn't affect my desire or motivation to write and become published, nor even whether I will become an RWA member (which I intend to do this year). I'd love to hear some AA authors, who are also RWA members, weigh in.
Does this matter to you? If so, what do you intend to do about it? Joining RWA, writing the best book I can, and submitting it for consideration is my personal plan of attack. My sister, who is also an aspiring romance author, has already joined her local RWA chapter and is planning to submit her work in progress for several local RWA chapter contests. We always were the "get involved" types!
One last comment. I don't buy into the "I-don't-submit-my-work-because-they-probably-wouldn't-pick-me", otherwise known as the "Woe is Me", pity party. Like the unemployed person who sits at home bemoaning the fact that they don't have a job. If it is important to you (and each person must decide), then get off your rump and do what is necessary to put yourself in consideration. Trust God to do the rest!
Peace & Blessings,
Peace & Blessings,
Stay focused. Be deliberate. Believe.