Tuesday, May 2, 2017
George Washington, in his Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior, counsels us to: “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”
And my conscience has been urging me for some time now to listen to it.
As many of you know, I have deep roots in the United States. I had five ancestors on the Mayflower, I’ve lived in south Texas, and I have immediate family, many friends, and valued readers scattered from coast to coast, so this has been a very difficult decision for me to make.
But I have become increasingly heartsick while reading the growing accounts of people’s experiences trying to enter a country that, to me, has always been so welcoming. It’s not an easy thing for me to feel that welcome when I know that many others will be turned away through no fault of their own.
I had already booked three conferences this year in the United States, and was as always looking forward to them. I’ve decided, however, to withdraw from two of them—the RT Booklovers’ Convention in Atlanta in May, and RWA’s National Conference in July—which are both primarily professional development and more for my benefit than anyone else’s.
My involvement with the third—the Historical Novel Society conference in Portland in June—is different in that I’ve promised to teach a workshop there and I won’t go back on that promise. I will be there.
Because I’ve been so fortunate in my career, I decided that instead of focusing on my personal disappointment I’d turn it into an opportunity to do something positive for someone else. In March I invited unpublished romance writers to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a full registration and paid room in the conference hotel at one of the two conferences that I won’t be attending. Winners were chosen at random.
I’d like to congratulate Carrie Bastyr, who’ll be taking “my” place at the RT Booklovers’ Convention, and Naomi Nelson, who’ll be attending the RWA’s National Conference. I know my publishers, readers, and writing friends will make them welcome.
Again, this was not easy for me, but I’m grateful for your understanding.
I agree with Nelson Mandela, who wrote, “I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.”