The fun doesn’t stop over at the Romance Writers of America, where the leadership seems to delight in making a joke of their organization with one embarrassing, bone-head screw-up after another. This time, though, their utter cluelessness has managed to alienate one of their Gods… Nora Roberts, who was supposed to host the RWA awards. But shortly before the ceremony, Nora read her script and refused to participate. Here’s the scoop form Nora Roberts herself:
As Ms. Quinn refused to read my statement, as agreed, before the
awards ceremony in Reno, then again reneged on her agreement to read
it after the awards, I will write it here.
"Nora Roberts declines to host tonight’s awards ceremony as she feels
the content is inappropriate and believes the focus should be on the
nominees and the organization."
Oddly, I wasn’t given a script by Ms. Quinn. One was provided by a
member of the production team when I requested it on Friday afternoon
in Reno. The only significant change I was able to implement, though
I argued and debated with Ms. Quinn, Laura Hayden and Diana Pershing,
was the deletion of the video containing the fall of the Twin Towers
and the Oklahoma City bombing. How painful those images would have
been to the many editors in attendance who lived though 9/11.
Instead of a celebration, a night of fun and anticipation for the
nominees, and an entertaining and sparkling event, the audience was
treated to a three-plus hour world history lesson, heavy on disaster,
death, politics, war and tragedy–in one memorable moment, Don’t
Worry, Be Happy was played over those images.
I can’t comprehend how such tragic events and images had a place at a
ceremony meant to showcase the nominees and the organization. Nor can
I understand how it was thought proper to juxtapose those with
presenters being driven on stage in a limo, walking to the podium to
Joan Riveresque commentary in a format that gave more play to the
presenters than those who were lucky enough to take home a Golden
Heart or a Rita.
The emcee’s place in all this seemed to be to recite
endless dry facts and figures of RWA dues, conference fees and sites
over the last quarter of a century, instead of relating the heart of
It was tempting to resign my membership. But it wasn’t RWA that
pushed this agenda. It was a handful of individuals. RWA has, as
always, my respect, affection and gratitude. The current president
has none of those.
UPDATE: Author Brenda Coulter doesn’t get what the hoo-ha is all about.
I didn’t see it as as a debacle but merely a series of
unfortunate calls by the organizers and a program that was best
forgiven and forgotten.
Silly me. I should have known the blogosphere would be abuzz with this subject because that’s what RWA members do when they’re not writing books — complain about the current RWA leadership and what those volunteers are doing to ruin the lives of romance writers and screw up the entire romance industry…
…As for the big stink about Nora Roberts refusing at the last minute to
emcee the program because she objected to its content, I understand why
she bowed out, but she should have stuck with her original statement.
That last bit about supporting RWA but not the current president didn’t
come off as particularly classy.
UPDATE 8-6-05:The Intrepid Alison Kent has posted on her blog, in its entirety, RWA president Tara Taylor Quinn’s long-winded and utterly unconvincing defense of the awards debacle and Nora Robert’s far more credible reply. Even if you take Quinn at her word, her fumbling, clueless, and irresponsible approach towards her presidential duties is rather astonishing.
Alison also reports that several members of the RWA board have issued a statement apologizing for the misguided and widely criticized awards ceremony. You can read it on the jump:
The following members of the RWA Board of Directors wish to
apologize for the disappointing direction of the Awards Ceremony during the 2005
conference. What should have been a celebration, not only of our finalists and
award winners, but also of the growth and success of RWA, was not. Members of
the board were repeatedly assured by the Awards Ceremony Board Liaison
(TTQ) that the planning of the program was progressing
appropriately. It was not until it was too late that we discovered that the
focus of the ceremony had strayed from the theme we’d been given.
We thank those members who stepped in at the last moment to try to fix the
script. We also apologize sincerely to our award winners, our finalists, and our
members that the program was not appropriate to celebrate RWA’s success, as well
as theirs. We apologize especially to Nora Roberts, who was not only put in an
untenable position, but whose statement as to her reasons for not appearing was
We pledge to move forward from this and to make the Awards Ceremony in
Atlanta exactly what it should always be–a night on which we embrace the joys of
romance writing and recognize the finalists and wnners of our most cherished
Gayle Wilson President-Elect
Kathy Carmichael Secretary
Nicole Burnham Region 1 Director
Lisa Kamps Region 1
Dorien Kelly Region 2 Director
Peggy Emard Region 2
Linda Howard Region 3 Director
Linda Winstead Jones Region 3
Karen Fox Region 4 Director
Sherry Lewis Region 4
Geralyn Dawson Region 5 Director
Jill Limber Region 6
Jennifer Crump PRO Liaison
Teresa Carpenter Chapter Liaison