We have some Wicked Pretty Updates. It was about to die down, and then it took a hard left turn onto WTF Street.
I have seen a blog post from a writer who agreed to take Jessica Verday's place. Since I don't know whether she is aware of the controversy or not, I am not saying who it is and possibly causing a dogpile. People directly involved do know.
Francesca Lia Block (whose response a lot of people have been waiting for) is staying in the anthology:
@francescablock: Pretty Wicked Things: l support Jessica Verday but b/c pub apologized & offered 2 use her story i will be keeping mine in
Which personally sounds reasonable to me. To elaborate on that, though, Telep's formal, non-flippant apology was finally discovered, buried in the comments of one of Jessica's posts, so she has made one. I'll repeat it (once again) here:
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. Along with publishers Constable & Robinson Ltd, who commissioned the anthology, and Running Press, who are due to co-publish the book in the United States, I fully support LGBTQ issues. I apologise wholeheartedly for any offence that I have caused and offer the assurance that I would not in future reject any story on the grounds that it included a gay (or any LGBTQ) relationship.
And then, this morning... this happened.
The Misinformation Age: What Happens When A Headline Goes Viral.
It's basically a press release from the president of Running Press (literally: it is written by him and has no additional reporting or comment from Publishers Weekly) that... kind of misrepresents what happened.
Nowadays, a few keystrokes can powerfully magnify intolerance and bullying or spread a falsehood or incomplete story fast and wide, often with dire consequences. We were all made especially aware of this in the tragic incident of cyberbullying at Rutgers University last year. As publishers, it behooves us to be very aware of the blogosphere and digital environment with respect to titles in process on a daily basis. A news item suddenly creates an opportunity, or a celebrity meltdown jeopardizes a planned book. And in the sudden viral spread of a headline, facts are often the first casualty.
At Running Press, we faced this firsthand just last week.
According to Verday, when the manuscript was delivered, Telep requested that the author alter the story so the romance not reflect a male/male relationship, citing—quite incorrectly—that Running Press preferred YA anthologies to exclude "alternative lifestyles."
Yes, and Running Press's Lisa Cheng told Jessica Verday that, while they support LGBTQ writing, they "stand behind" this same editor.
Running Press's guidelines for YA anthologies do not exclude diverse lifestyles.
This is actually, demonstrably true. Both Saundra Mitchell and Sarah Rees Brennan (LJ is down, so I can't access her comment) noted that they have not had problems with stories in previous anthologies, and Saundra Mitchell in particular said that Liz Miles actually put out a call for lesbian/gay stories.
Ms. Verday, understandably, refused to change her story and pulled it from the anthology. Then she took to her blog and social media connections, and accused Running Press of intolerance and censorship. Other authors in the anthology asked to pull their stories, believing the account.
Jessica never accused Running Press of intolerance or censorship, as far as I have seen. She specifically reposted both Running Press's and Constable Robinson's statements to the contrary. The person she took to task was the editor, Trisha Telep, who herself stated that Running Press did not request the story to be changed and did not agree with Telep's request for such a change. In fact, commenters here have expressed concern that too much of the discussion was focusing on Telep, rather than the publisher. Jessica was never unclear about this once she was aware of it. "Believing the account" implies that an untrue story was believed. Not to mention the phrases "facts are often the first casualty" and "falsehood or incomplete story" mentioned in the opening paragraph, and the oblique connection to "cyberbullying" connected to a suicide at Rutgers, supposedly comparable to what Running Press has just "faced firsthand." (Let me repeat that: the president of Running Press--who mentions that he is openly gay himself--just compared writers standing up for their pro-LGBTQ beliefs to cyberbullying that caused suicide.) The inaccuracy here is from Christopher Navratil in claiming something happened that, as far as I have seen, did not happen, and in implying that Jessica lied and/or embarked on an unjust smear campaign. (Just from a logical standpoint: what in the world would be her motive to do that?) If Running Press chose to "stand behind" an editor whose public statements, as they said, do not match their beliefs--statements that same editor has now acknowledged as "regrettable"--before that editor apologized appropriately, it is not Jessica's fault if other writers decide this is not acceptable to them, either. None of these things are "accusations." These are all public statements and/or corroborations on the part of the editor and publishers that I, among many people, personally witnessed, and which can still be read.
And lastly, when there are inevitable misunderstandings, as with all human enterprises, be sure to be available, be accountable, and stand up and say what is right.
Well, now would be a good time to start, in regards to what you've just said about Jessica.
@moirarogersbree: Publishers, I hate to break it to you, but sometimes people are going to assume your editors know your policies & speak for you.
@Ceilidhann: How nice of Publishers Weekly to give Running Press free ad space to pretty much blame Verday for all this instead of Telep.
@Ceilidhann: Terrible reporting @publisherswkly Why didn't you talk to the authors who pulled out of the anthology? Or Telep herself?
@SmartBitches: "It is hard to believe you abhor bigotry when you have a continuous, ongoing relationship with a bigot." - @courtneymilan on Running Press
@SmartBitches: Article where @courtneymilan's comment cracks open the righteous, erudite whoopass: http://is.gd/7ZU2EH
[In reply to previous commenter] Erastes: The author, a bestselling author in her own right, was contacted by Tricia Telep to write a story, and was told the guidelines were that it needed to be a dark fairy story. She wasn't querying. And for the president of MLR: "Then she took to her blog and social media connections, and accused Running Press of intolerance and censorship." Actually, what she said was this: http://jessicaverday.blogspot.com/2011/03/being-gay-is-okay.html Notice: she quoted the editor in the original post, and when the editor made it clear that it had been her decision, and not her publishers, she edited the post to include Telep's remarks. This is not just a "misunderstanding." I don't care if the owner of the press is openly gay. He's working with a freelance editor whose response was breezy and flippant and full of unconscious and yet rampant prejudice. This is an editor who has published scores of anthologies with Running Press, and has many more in the works. I'm an author, and after hearing about this, I would never, ever work with Tricia Telep. It's not the press I wouldn't work with, but so long as you continue to have a relationship with her, you won't have one with me--or with any of the other authors out there. I am aware that you claim you wanted the story. I'm also aware that you're continuing your relationship with someone who thought that an appropriate response to the original accusation was to offer up a video of herself wrestling with a gay man. You want this to go away? Choose another freelance editor for your anthologies, stop pretending like you have no choice, and stop telling yourself that people are "misunderstanding" you. It is hard to believe you abhor bigotry when you have a continuous, ongoing relationship with a bigot.
--by: courtneymilan @ 20110404100348
I would like to see you [Publishers Weekly?] acknowledge that: (a) Jessica Verday made very clear, in her blog and in all other communication, as soon as she was aware that the publishers were not anti-gay-romance; (b) that all the withdrawing authors are aware of this, and they have all said they are withdrawing from work edited by Tricia Telep, not from RP indiscriminately; (c) several people have expressed discomfowith the fact that you have never publicly criticized Ms Telep for her unacceptable assumption (that she made an error is not the point, it is the prejudice behind the error that was offensive). This article is frankly insulting, and I would hope for better from a respectable publisher.
--by: Johann @ 20110404102146
But is Running Press and C&R still working with Tricia Telep? What did she say when informed of your policies? You mentioned your conversation with Verday, so what conversation with Telep did you have? Have you and C&R kept her on as the editor of this anthology? Do you plan to work with her in the future? The problem here is not about if Running Press "abhors bigotry" it's about what you're going to *do* about it. If you're still going to publish this title with Telep as the editor, you have to understand why Verday and other authors won't want to be part of it. You have to also understand that your words come off as hollow. If you truly "[stood] behind the creativity and authenticity of our authors" you would not want to work with someone who did not, who not only misrepresented your values but apparently sought to squash said creativity and authenticity. Steps you can take to ACTUALLY make a difference: refuse to work with someone who so doesn't represent your core values and find a new editor for this anthology AND query for an editor of a new YA anthology that will feature queer paranormal romances. Maybe that's an anthology Verday will be happy to be part of and it will definitely be a way for you to show what your REAL core values are.
--by: AngieManfredi @ 20110404090131
Meanwhile, there is still some confusion as to what is really going on:
@Ceilidhann: @donnajherren I was willing to give RP the benefit of the doubt since Telep took the blame but this un-apology & scolding of Verday for (1)
@Ceilidhann: @donnajherren (2) going public, and rightly so, about the deliberate exclusion of LGBTQ content is baffling at best and disgusting at worst
@JessVerday: @cleolinda @donnajherren FYI: I was told [by Trisha Telep?] "the publishers commissioned me for a collection of het YA romances."
@donnajherren: @JessVerday I know Trisha never mentioned that our Mammoth story had to be het, and it definitely wasn't in the contract. @cleolinda
@JessVerday: @donnajherren @cleolinda That's what I don't get here. 2 + 2 is NOT equaling 4
I don't even know. I don't. even. know. The irony is, after the formal Telep apology, I would have been willing--well, I'm not directly involved in this; I'm here in the capacity of an observer. I'm not calling for a boycott, except in the sense that I said at one point that if people did want to do that, they needed to not punish writers and editors who had nothing to do with this. But if I were one of the writers asked to be in the anthology, I either would have dropped out in the period of time after the flippant non-apology but before the formal apology, or, if I had heard about this after the formal apology, I might have considered that to be sufficient and stayed in, maybe specifically trying to submit a story with LGBTQ themes. I don't know. It's a tough decision to make after the apology; it depends on how you feel about that. But I probably would have endeavored to work only with editors like Liz Miles from then on. My problem, as an observer, at this point, is not with Trisha Telep. It's with Christopher Navratil's inaccurate, self-serving, easily disproven, somewhat baffling retelling of the story. Because seriously, what the hell.