While nearly every chapter of RWA has its own annual contest, the really big contests are the two sponsored by RWA itself: the RITA (for the published) and the Golden Heart (for the unpublished).
Ever since Passionate Ink (PI), the erotic romance chapter of RWA was established, the PI membership has been lobbying the RWA Board to create erotic romance contest categories for the RITA/GH. The Board's response during last month's annual general meeting was that there wasn't a good, single definition of erotic romance.
During a Passionate Ink board meeting last week, the decision was made to establish a committee to write that definition. Angela Knight and I have been asked to serve as co-chairs.
Angela is a terrific writer and a great person (see her website here) and I'm honored to have been asked to serve with her.
We've talked several times this past week and, as the result, I posted a message on the Passionate Ink message board this morning. That message reads in part:
Angela asked the RWA Board to informally respond as MIGS (members in good standing), not as board members, as to what the core issues were. The answers she got were different (and slightly more encouraging) from the RWA's response during the AGM. During the meeting, I was left with the impression that the RWA Board did not have a good definition of erotic romance. The MIGS were more specific in saying that the problem came in trying to set up judging guidelines for a RITA/GH category.
Examples of issues: What differentiates an erotic romance from any other romance? Many romances today have hot and steamy sex. Where is the line drawn to make an entry an erotic romance? Is an erotic romance defined by how many sex scenes are in it? The language? Does it depend on the kind of sex, or the number of people involved? And, then, what makes a book move across the line in the other direction to erotica and porn? Remember, this is RWA and a book MUST be a romance to be in the RITA/GH contests.
IMHO, these are legitimate questions to be asked. If we, the erotic romance writers, cannot agree on an answer, then perhaps there shouldn't be a RITA/GH erotic romance category.
I'm posting this message on my blog to invite anyone who would like to participate in this discussion to feel free to jump in and comment. Also, feel free to reprint this post in its entirety on other blogs or loops. Angela and I are interested in what other writers think.
The plan is for this effort to be a fast-tracked one with a response to the RWA Board before it leaves office in November.
Thanks and regards,