Monday, July 23, 2018

The Stars are Going Dark

As you can probably tell from my blog title, this isn't going to be an upbeat post. Sometimes the news is not good, but I think it's important to get the word out. There are two pretty important things happening.

It seems another bright spot of the SFR universe is going to be extinguished.

So many sites and projects that once supported SFR are no more. In the past few years we've lost The Galaxy Express Blog, Smart Girls Love Sci-Fi, and The SFR Quarterly, to name only a few.

In fact, this blog is probably one of a handful of survivors from the mid-to-late 2000s. If even that many are still around.

And now the SFR Station will be the next to go dark. Corinne Kilgore has just announced she will be shutting down the site--which is a curated, go-to site where readers can find SFR books. She recently posted a notice to the SFR Brigade that the site will go dark as of January 2019 when the domain expires.


It's understandable that priorities change for those who invest dollars, time and effort into maintaining and managing these sites, and that they can't continue forever. But the alarming part of losing such resources is that no new resources seem to be created to replace them.

I'd just like to offer my heartfelt thanks to SFR Station and Corinne Kilgore for the many years of supporting the genre. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

UPDATE: Since writing this blog last week, good news happened. Brigader Steph Pajonas has worked with Corinne Kilgore to take over the SFR Station site! This is fantastic news for the science fiction romance community, and now that we came close to losing this valuable resource, maybe there will be more focus from authors on contacting the site with their new SFR books.

At any rate...it's a YAY!


Stay Golden, RWA

Recently, RWA announced they are considering ending the Golden Heart Awards. While I haven't been eligible to enter for a number of years, this award holds more fond memories and gave my writing career more of a boost than any other single factor, so I'm very much opposed to seeing it trashed.

The Golden Heart Awards are unique in that it's for unpublished authors who have completed a manuscript. That's a key word, because most contests judge only the first few chapters, so writers can enter and win without actually having written an entire book.

Although the Golden Heart is only judged on the opening of the story, the entire manuscript must be submitted and verified to be an actual, complete book for the entry to be eligible.

Recently, the Rubies (the 2009 Golden Heart Finalist class, aka The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood) published a blog with a discussion among several of the 2018 GH finalists--Elisa Beatty, D. Murphy Ryan and Eileen Emerson--talking about why this award is and has been so very important to the careers of so many.

The blog resulted in a large volume of comments, a few of which I'll paraphrase here:

  • Other genres have almost zero opportunities to hone their craft and build toward publishing. The Golden Heart Awards is astounding and oh-so-needed by writers!
  • The peerships made through the Golden Heart Awards are invaluable and often last for decades.
  • This isn't just a contest. There are enormous behind-the-scenes perks of becoming a finalist. 
  • I would have been lost without the Golden Heart and the friends and peers I made because of it.
  • If the Golden Heart goes away, what will be the cascading effect to the contests of local chapters, many of which prepare writers for the GH?
  • Many writers aspire to enter the GH, and it keeps them going when the writing gets tough.
  • In the many years I've been a member, there's been no other event that gives unpublished authors this kind of opportunity.
  • The Golden Heart is an incredibly special contest. RWA needs to recognize the value.
  • It's not just a benefit to the 46 finalists. This contest is vital for unpublished romance authors.
  • RWA is unique among writer organizations in its support of unpublished authors. The Golden Heart is a big part of that.
  • It's daunting to submit your manuscript, but so is publishing. The GH is great experience for everything else in a writer's career. 

  • It's the light at the end of the tunnel...the door that opens up a whole round of possibilities.
  • I love the Golden Heart! I know it got me my agent.
  • I got my agent because I was a finalist, and that got  me a publishing contract.
  • It gave me an amazing, close-knit group that support me in so many ways, both online and in person.
  • The first time I entered, I didn't final. I spent a lot of time improving my craft and my manuscript. Later, I did final. The contest helps you improve your writing.
  • There is a certain cache to being a finalist in a national contest. That benefits all unpublished romance authors who enter and final. Stay Golden, RWA.
  • The GH was an incredible step up the career ladder, and although it's just one ceremony, what matters is the way the class gets together and supports each other for years afterward.
  • I am where I am today because of the GH. It would break my heart to see it end. (This from a major, traditionally published author.)
  • The GH was a turning point for me. I finaled in March, signed with my agent in April, won in July, and in December, I got a two-book contract (with a large, traditional publisher). 
  • The contest is near and dear to my heart. I hope the board takes a long look at this post.

There was also a lot of discussion on how to better manage, promote and grow the contest, and the value of the contest vs. the costs involved.

A commenter also suggested all the comments be compiled into a document and submitted to RWA. I certainly hope that happens! Or that maybe some of the board members of RWA were paying attention to the overwhelming support from a large group of writers and authors.

Either way, it seems a clear message has been sent. The question is: Will it be heard? Will the needs of the membership outweigh the bureaucracy of the organization as a whole? Time will tell.

The Golden Heart really has been a very bright star in my writing universe, and now faces the prospect of being snuffed out. Hopefully the collective voice generated from this blog will put a positive spin on its future.

UPDATE: Yes, this portion of my blog has new information too, but unlike the upbeat report about the continuation of the SFR Station, this is a definite downer. In spite of the outpouring of support for the Golden Heart Awards and all the things it has meant and continues to mean for the romance writing community, RWA posted this updated from their board meeting highlights at the national conference in Denver last week:

"The Board voted on a timeline for phasing out the Golden Heart contest: the last contest will be the 2019 contest."

Sadly, it seems all the support being voiced for the continuation of the Golden Heart Awards made no impact on the board's decision whatsoever. It was as if they had already made up their minds and input from the members was of no consequence. While I realize the board works very hard on behalf of the membership, they don't seem to be listening to what the membership is saying, nor acknowledging the many arguments against their outline why the Golden Heart Awards was not cost effective.

From my perspective, this seems to be a disturbing trend in the last six or seven years. It's disheartening when an organization loses touch with the membership it's supposed to serve.

I hope to be back next Monday with a much more cheerful blog.

Have a great week.




3 comments:

  1. I'm so glad Steph and Corinne have agreed to a hand over. I think the SFR station is an outstanding resource - but it would be a time-suck. I noticed Steph has already had offers of help. That's great.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad the Station will survive. As for the GH, I heard that one of the entrants has sued a judge? Do you know if that's true? If it is true, that would be the killing blow, IMHO.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would just like to remind the SFR readership that I officially took the handoff from the Smart Girls Love SciFi blog in 2016 of their weekly New Releases report and like to think I've expanded the concept on my blog (every Wednesday), starting from their excellent concept. I was happy to see Steph pick up the torch on the SFR Station, so yes, there are still some points of light. and I'm always happy that THIS right here blog carries on!

    ReplyDelete

Comments set on moderation - all spammers will be exterminated!

About Spacefreighters Lounge

Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.