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Last night, my six-year-old and I had a chat. I don’t remember how it came up, but he was talking about people getting married, and how boys have to marry girls. I pointed out that this wasn’t necessarily so, that in some states and many countries, boys could marry boys and girls could marry girls.

Being six, he laughed. “That’s silly. How would they have babies?”

It’s not the first time we’ve had a talk like this. I understand where his confusion comes from. Pretty much every cartoon on TV has male/female relationships only. Every movie he watches, every book he brings home from school… Any nonheterosexual relationship is simply erased.

Last month, Jessica Verday withdrew her story from the Wicked Pretty Things anthology after receiving a note from the editor which stated that her story “would have to be published as a male/female story because a male/male story would not be acceptable to the publishers.”

Wicked Pretty Things is an anthology of dark fairy romance … but apparently editor Trisha Telep assumed that meant straight romance only, going with the default erasure of any “nontraditional” relationships.

Verday later posted a response in which Telep apologized for causing offense, and said in part, “I sincerely regret the sequence of events which has led to Jessica Verday’s story ‘Flesh Which Is Not Flesh’ being excluded from the forthcoming anthology Wicked Pretty Things. This has been the result of a misunderstanding on my part which is entirely regrettable … I fully support LGBTQ issues.”

I understand and believe that Telep meant no harm. That it was a mistake, not intended to be hurtful. But it was hurtful.

Other authors such as Seanan McGuire, Lisa Mantchev, Lesley Livingston, and Karen Mahoney have pulled their stories from the anthology. Melissa Marr asked that her name not be used to promote the project (she had provided a cover blurb Correction: they were apparently describing the anthology as including stories with a “Melissa Marr-ish slant.”) Ann Aguirre pulled her story from another of Telep’s projects.

Running Press responded in an article titled The Misinformation Age, saying, “Third-party error and miscommunication went viral and led to the spread of untrue accusations of intolerance and censorship.”

Where exactly are these untrue accusations? I’m not aware of any lies in Verday’s post, or in the posts by the other authors involved. Is intolerance an inappropriate word to describe an editor who says “No gay love allowed,” even if it was a misunderstanding?

More importantly, why was this an issue to begin with? The publisher may have disavowed responsibility for Telep’s actions, but why did Telep immediately assume that a story in which two male characters were in love would be unacceptable?

Pulling a story from an anthology is scary. You risk alienating editor and publisher both, not to mention turning down a paycheck. You worry about appearing unprofessional. And you wonder if you’ll find another home for the story you worked so hard on…

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I’d like to extend an offer to any author who pulled his or her story from one of Telep’s projects as a result of this incident.

  1. If you have not already found a home for your withdrawn story, I would be happy to read it.
  2. If I like the story (and knowing most of the authors involved, I suspect I will), I’ll offer $100 up front to publish it here on my blog.
  3. Each story will include a donations link. Once the initial $100 has been covered, further donations will be split 50/50. Half will be paid to the author, and the other half will be donated to a LGBTQ-friendly cause.
  4. If I publish multiple stories, I will look into putting together an e-book collection of those stories, with profits again being split between the authors and a LGBTQ-friendly cause.

I get about 2000 unique readers each day, which is comparable to (or in some cases better than) the sales for a number of the anthologies out there. That said, I’ll certainly understand if the authors choose to look elsewhere. It sounds like Verday has already found another home for her story, which is great. My offer is not time-limited.

I am not trying to poach authors from Running Press. However, I do want to support and thank those authors who’ve chosen to publicly state that the erasure of non-straight characters and relationships is not okay. One way I can do that is by offering a home for those stories.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 162 comments — Leave a comment )
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controuble
Apr. 11th, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
why did Telep immediately assume that a story in which two male characters were in love would be unacceptable?

You always seem able to cut straight to the heart of any subject matter you discuss. One more reason why I love reading your blog.
jimhines
Apr. 11th, 2011 01:52 pm (UTC)
I've had time to think about it and read posts by a lot of smart people, which helps :-)
(no subject) - controuble - Apr. 11th, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
sabaceanbabe
Apr. 11th, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
Yet again, you demonstrate the awesome that is Jim C. Hines. *applauds*
jimhines
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you, but I think the awesome goes to Verday and the others. Pulling their stories and going public about why takes a lot more guts than anything I'm doing here.
(Deleted comment)
jimhines
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
And now I've had my Monday morning giggles :-) Thank you!
filkertom
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah, "awesome" sums you up nicely. Pimped and promoted.
jimhines
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Tom - for both of those links.
(no subject) - batyatoon - Apr. 12th, 2011 02:22 am (UTC) - Expand
silverrose
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:07 pm (UTC)
I just had a conversation this morning with my husband about sexism and stereotypes and "[redacted] typical male behavior".

Then I got to read this. You're real mensch, Jim. A good human being.
(Deleted comment)
jimhines
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
I read Greek mythology when I was young, but I think I had a pretty "tame" version...

Jackson and I talked about abortion and that not everyone could have kids. I also pointed out that not every couple *wants* kids, but I don't know if he completely understands that. Right now, he's got a pretty concrede definition of family based on his own experience, but that will broaden with time, I'm sure.
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ravensilver
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:11 pm (UTC)
I truly hope that those authors take you up on your offer. I'll be happy to link to that donation page and to promote the Ebook (should it come to happen) among my FList and others... It may not be much since I don't have as many readers as you do. ^^; But every little bit of awareness that happens is a milestone in the fight against prejudice of this kind.
jimhines
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:13 pm (UTC)
Me too! I know at least a few of them are already looking into other options, but we'll see. I've sent a few e-mails directly as well, since I know some of the authors involved.

If anything happens, it will take a little time (contracts and preparation and such), but I'll definitely announce things when and if they do happen :-)

And thank you!
margaret_y
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
Awesome sauce.

That's what I call using your powers for good.
celtic_catgirl
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC)
I remember a few years ago having a conversation with my cousins, who are much younger and were maybe 6 and 8 at the time. It started because they were asking when I was going to get married and have babies (they were offering to babysit to make money). This was just after gay marriage was legalized in Iowa and I brought up the fact that I could choose to marry a girl and explained that girls could marry girls and boys could marry boys. We also discussed that if they wanted a baby they can adopt a baby. I remember being so amazed at how readily they accepted what I said as being the truth with no prejudices.

Children are amazing, and it's shocking how they can be led one way or another by the adults in their life. We aren't born prejudiced, that starts in our environment and it can take a lot for people to over come that and any one who does has my respect.

Also Jim, as always, you're super awesome and I will donate $5 towards any story that you publish here as a result of this post.
tandw
Apr. 11th, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC)
(Here via filkertom, btw.)

Children are amazing, and it's shocking how they can be led one way or another by the adults in their life. We aren't born prejudiced, that starts in our environment and it can take a lot for people to over come that and any one who does has my respect.

Which is an excellent intro for this, from South Pacific.
mroctober
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
Your stealing my mojo!
jimhines
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
I am the Mojo Thief!

(Am I stealing any specific mojo, or is this just a general thing?)
(no subject) - mroctober - Apr. 11th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Apr. 11th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mroctober - Apr. 11th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ex_kaz_maho - Apr. 11th, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
evewithanapple
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you for doing this.
fabricdragon
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:49 pm (UTC)
sigh
i wish i wrote enough to have a story for you to look at. i wish i had a story in that anthology so i could have pulled it.
ah well.

i suspect one of the following is true
the editor mis understood something and thought the publisher would reject it.

the publisher did reject it, and then threw the editor to the wolves

the publisher never said anything at all, its all on the editor.

in any of those cases, the proper response is not "wah, unfair accusations" its "we will not tolerate any kind of bias in this way. we (through our agents) accepted this story and it WILL run if the author will permit it to"

sigh
i follow the theory that as long as you dont mis represent the book people should be allowed to vote with their wallets.

i suspect that a dark faery romance genre anthology is not going to loose sales over gender issues
jimhines
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
My guess is 1 or 3, or some combination.

I believe there was a follow-up where the publisher offered to buy and publish the story, but Verday decided based on the initial interaction and the follow-up to decline that offer.

"i suspect that a dark faery romance genre anthology is not going to lose sales over gender issues"

I suspect you're right...
(no subject) - cathshaffer - Apr. 11th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - barbarienne - Apr. 11th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
sartorias
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
This is an awesome offer, and I will be reading and contributing.
jimhines
Apr. 11th, 2011 03:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

It may turn out that the authors have already found homes for their work, which would be fine too. I just want to put another option out there, and knowing my friends and readers here, I think this would be both a pretty well-read venue and a supportive one :-)
(no subject) - mrs_norris_mous - Apr. 11th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Apr. 11th, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mroctober - Apr. 11th, 2011 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
tsubaki_ny
Apr. 11th, 2011 03:08 pm (UTC)
This is BRILLIANT. I'm so glad someone like you is in a position to do something like this, I've been dying to read the "infamous" story ever since this news came out. :-D The story in question sounded beautiful.
jimhines
Apr. 11th, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC)
I believe Verday has already found another home for her story, so hopefully that will be out and available soon. (I'm curious to read it myself!) But I wanted to put the offer out there for the other authors, if they choose to take it.
aestaeben
Apr. 11th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
You're really awesome. Things like this would make me want to support you as an author even if I didn't already like and own your books. I hope some of the authors who have not already found other venues take you up on this.
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