My resignation from RWA, and from Calgary RWA (CaRWA)

To Whom it May Concern at RWA,

Today, February 18, 2020, I am resigning my membership in RWA. Please remove me immediately from your membership.

I have been a member in good standing since 2011, and a member of my local chapter (Calgary Association of RWA) just as long. I have volunteered at the local level for most of those years, either on the board, maintaining the website, or currently, as the diversity liaison.

I cannot in good conscience remain a member of RWA, as it is quite apparent that RWA is not willing to create a safe and inclusive space for its marginalized authors, whether they be people of colour, queer, or disabled, at both the national and chapter levels of the organization. RWA has continually demonstrated that it is a white supremacist organization, enabling bigotry of all types, and I cannot remain a part of such an organization at any level. I despise that my membership fees have gone towards an organization that has stifled ethics complaints by members, engaged in racist acts against Black authors and other authors of colour, demonstrated that LGBTQ2S+ authors not being paid by Dreamspinner Press are not important enough to receive assistance, censured authors striving for DEI, including Courtney Milan, and has so completely disregarded its own bylaws and procedures.

The continued lack of information and lack of reform in RWA are unacceptable. I cannot see RWA managing to include DEI at every level of its organization, and as a queer author, I am no longer willing to exert any effort or emotional labour towards this when my basic rights and humanity are not recognized.

Regards,

Alyssa Linn Palmer

To the members of CaRWA,

As of today, February 18, 2020, I hereby resign my post as Diversity Liaison, and resign my membership in the chapter. I have been a member since early 2011, and have volunteered for many of those years, whether as the website person, on the board, and most currently as the diversity liaison.

Partly I am resigning due to the actions of the national organization of RWA, which has demonstrated time and time again its allegiance to white supremacy and systemic bigotry, and its continued lack of will to eliminate such bigotry from its organization. I am also resigning because it has been demonstrated to me that many members of CaRWA are also unwilling to eliminate bigotry from their thoughts and actions.

As diversity liaison, I tried to bring knowledge of the value of diversity, and the need to decry racism, homophobia and ableism. I also tried to support those with low income by spearheading a Perseverance Fund. I see now that I was not strong enough to be effective, that I still bent to protect the sensibilities of the “nice white ladies.” And yet, with the recent survey in January, I was shown that even these lukewarm efforts were unwelcome, that members felt that my efforts were “shoving these issues down their throats,” or “too political” and that members just wanted to “focus on writing” and that they were feeling “attacked” or unable to post “for fear of being criticized for what they post.” Or, indeed, that they “didn’t need to learn about diversity because they work with diverse clients.”

That members felt comfortable sharing their explicit homophobia and other bigotry in this survey indicates to me that CaRWA is not a place for me, a queer author with chronic illness. I do not think that there is a possibility for true diversity, equity and inclusion in CaRWA, as there are too many members who take offense at even the possibility of such things.

I am unwilling to continue to expend my emotional and physical labour to support a group that does not share the same inclusive views.

Regards,

Alyssa Linn Palmer

Workshop: Michael Hauge’s Story Craft

On May 12th, I had the good fortune to attend a workshop put on by my local RWA chapter. We hosted Michael Hauge, a well-known story and script consultant. He often presents at the RWA Nationals (I missed him in NYC last June, alas), and after taking his seminar, I can see why.

His seminar was split into two parts: The Outer Journey, which we dealt with in the morning’s session, and The Inner Journey, our afternoon’s work. The Outer Journey was very similar to what I’ve learned in other courses (Laurie Schnebly’s ‘Plotting via Motivation’ course comes to mind), but I would say that the afternoon’s Inner Journey part of the workshop was worth the entry fee and then some.

When I write, I’ve nearly always found it easier to deal with the outer journey and motivations of my characters (Character A wants X, thus must do Y), but the inner emotional journey is much more difficult to portray. My notes for the afternoon are voluminous and as I continue with my WIP, I’ll be using them regularly. (I already know that I’ll need to go back and rewrite, but I won’t do it just yet.)

Michael used examples from several Hollywood films, including Shrek, Titanic (which I still haven’t seen), Hitch (ditto), and L.A. Confidential (seen once, not well-remembered). Already in watching some of my favourite films (Casablanca), I can pick out the structure and character arcs with greater ease, and I know that it’ll help my writing.

Naturally, it was also a great time to chat and reconnect with my fellow Calgary RWA members, and we had a drink or two afterward.

LtoR: Michelle Pierce, Susan Bohnet, Karen Uhl, me, and Jill Flanagan. (photos by Suzanne Stengl - http://suzannestengl.blogspot.ca/)

2011: My Year in Review

2011 was huge.

I finished my novel THE PARIS GAME, all 82,000 words of it. (Still submitting it, but hopefully someone will bite in the new year!)

I joined the Calgary chapter of RWA in March after meeting some of the members at a library Writers’ Weekend in February. This group has been essential in my writing development. Plus, they’re all awesome people and tons of fun to hang out with. The monthly meetings are great, and the workshops this year have been fantastic. Mary Buckham taught at our spring workshop, and super-agent Deidre Knight, and HQN editor Emily Ohanjanians spoke at the fall workshop.

I met Julian Sands. I don’t make a habit of meeting actors and others I admire. I always worry that they’ll be jerks and I’ll be totally turned off their work from then on, but Julian was sweet. I still look at the photo and grin.

I went to RWA Nationals in NYC. Talk about overwhelming! So many writers, so many workshops, and so much fun. I met my longtime online friend Tiffany Reisz, and got to know lots of others from Twitter. I pitched for the first time. I met Maggie Shayne, and Eileen Dreyer, and heard Diana Gabaldon speak.

I became part of a group of authors, forming the Bandit Creek Books project. Best of all, my novella PROHIBITED PASSION comes out on January 15th, 2012!

I don’t tend to make resolutions, but in the new year, I hope to sell THE PARIS GAME, finish another novel, write a couple of novellas, and improve my writing (as always).