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Back the fundraiser for Rochita and get my exclusive ebook!

SF writer and activist Rochita Loenen-Ruiz is experiencing great hardship after her husband’s sudden death. The fundraiser set up by Aliette de Bodard and M Sereno has been going on for quite some time now, and I talked about it on Twitter a lot, but I haven’t posted here yet.

There is only one day left to donate! You get a huge amount of SF stuff, including my exclusive ebook (you can’t get it elsewhere!) that looks like this:

Changing Body Templates + bonus content!

Changing Body Templates + bonus content!

I made the ebook in epub, mobi and pdf formats, so there is hopefully something for most people. The ebook includes my story Changing Body Templates, originally published in the collection Strange Bedfellows: An Anthology of Political Science Fiction, with a lot of bonus material!

As I say in the foreword:

…it is a political story with themes overlapping with Rochita’s, and a story that greatly benefited from her encouragement and example of writing about one’s experience with the invading oppressor.

The story is almost novelette length, so you will have plenty to read. The ebook also features my previously posted bonus notes, and bonus content that’s not available anywhere else – I share some bizarre and …appealingly horrible Hungarian political jokes from the late 1980s and the early 1990s. (Yes, this is perfectly relevant to the story. And yes, I warned you.) If you want to know which cute animals get shot when Communism triumphs in the forest, or what social progress looks like in Hungary, or why Mr. Fox finds himself dealing drugs to Little Rabbit, make sure to back the fundraiser!

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags:
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#diversepoems and #diversestories Oct 2015 / 1

Back after the Jewish holidays! This is October’s first roundup of my SFF story and poem recommendations by diverse authors. You can follow me at @bogiperson on Twitter to get these in real time.

I made a small change in the format of the roundup – I will no longer be listing the date next to the recommendation, instead I will just post a roundup whenever I have five recommendations. As my work schedule can be quite hard to predict, I sometimes don’t have time to post during the day on weekdays, so I catch up over Sundays etc. and it was getting confusing.


This time around, I did a Strange Horizons mini-special, because they are doing their yearly fundraiser right now:

* (Visual poem) Nettle-stung by Shweta Narayan in Strange Horizons, Oct 2015

* (Short story) Glaciers Made You by Gabby Reed in Strange Horizons, Sep 2015

* (Short story) Hundred Eye by Yukimi Ogawa in Strange Horizons, Oct 2015

* (Long poem) Reasons I checked out of diversity discussion du jour by M Sereno (self-published), Oct 2015

* (Short story) Hoywverch by Heather Rose Jones in Podcastle, Feb 2015

Thank yous to supporters:

* Lisa M. Bradley, José Jiménez and CeCe got us many cans of garbanzo beans and a coloring book for Mati!

* A reader on Twitter who asked not to be identified (if I was reading the note right?) got us 12 cans of sardines!

* Another Anonymous Benefactor got us a box of banana bread bars! (I suspect here the name was simply left off by the third-party Amazon shipper. Speak up and I’ll put your name here!)

How to support the series

I don’t have a Patreon or anything similar because I’m on a student visa and not allowed to work off-campus. You can support me by surprising me with gifts from my Amazon wishlist. Right now, food would be most appreciated, but books are always cool too 😀

Written by prezzey in: sf | Tags: ,
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This is a list of all the audio fiction and poetry I have, roughly in chronological order! Warnings, spoilery bonus discussion, etc. in the linked bonus notes.


This Shall Serve As a Demarcation – in Glittership, read by Keffy Kehrli, 23:06 – Story notes

Forestspirit, Forestspirit – in Clarkesworld, read by Kate Baker, 30:46 – Story notes

Spirit Forms of the Sea – in Podcastle, read by Setsu Uzumé, 42:27 – Story notes

Changing Body Templates – in Starship Sofa, read by Nikolle Doolin, 1:25:05 (includes another story by Stewart C. Baker too) – Story notes

This Secular Technology – in Drabblecast, read by Andy Gray, 36:01 – Story notes

The Oracle of DARPA – in Toasted Cake, read by Tina Connolly, 11:25


You Are Here / Was: Blue Line to Memorial Park, in Strange Horizons, read by Julia Rios – Poem notes

A Self-Contained Riot of Lights, in Strange Horizons, read by me – Poem notes

Outside-in / Catalytic Exteriorization, in Stone Telling, read by me – Poem notes

Written by prezzey in: Uncategorized |
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Story notes: The Need for Overwhelming Sensation

I have been mostly away as the Jewish holidays are in full swing, but my SF story The Need for Overwhelming Sensation was just published – in the first issue of Capricious, edited by A.C. Buchanan.

Capricious Cover 1


These ships do not run on pain; that’s a misconception. They run on raw magical power. It can be produced in any number of ways. Pain is just easy for many people.

Of course, it’s a matter of choice. Even those who find it easy don’t have to like it.

I like it. I need it. If I go without, my body protests. Maybe it’s about the need for overwhelming sensation; I’m not sure.


And now, these are my customary bonus notes!

Content warnings:

Physical violence (off-screen, but an injured and bleeding person appears), misgendering, annoying antagonist kink-shaming people, political maneuvering inspired by Hungary (as usual).

Themes you might want to know about (not warnings!):

Nonbinary trans people of various genders, various cheerful BDSM themes (inc. D/s and also S&M), space magic… also, I don’t think anyone in the story is white.

Various things:

This is the first time I’m published in New Zealand! A.C. Buchanan (whose work I greatly enjoy) solicited this story from me for the launch issue of Capricious. I figured that with an awesome nonbinary trans person editing, I had good chances with a story featuring nonbinary trans people that was very much not cis- and heteronormative. So I took risks and this story happened. I am very happy that A.C. Buchanan liked it and published it! Also, HEDGEHOGS.


This story was beta read by Rose Lemberg. Thank you so much!


This is the sibling story of the fantasy story that prompted various outbursts from Vitality magazine, if you still remember that. The two stories feature similar protagonists in a very different setting. That one is still waiting for a response, but you can read this one in the meanwhile! I have to say this piece has a lot more controversial content than its sibling.

The Need for Overwhelming Sensation is set in the Eren continuity, but has only one Ereni character. I should probably make a post gathering all the stories in this universe.

Mild spoilers from here onward:

The plot machinations are inspired by Viktor Orbán and the Hungarian political right, but the character of Miran Anyuwe is not similar to Viktor Orbán at all.


I really dislike the trend in mainstream SFF that power asymmetry stories have to be nonconsensual, usually in some kind of horrible way: slavery, extreme oppression, etc. This story is my reaction. For more along these lines, I also have This Shall Serve as a Demarcation.

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags: ,
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Inkscrawl Issue 9 lineup!

I guest-edited Issue 9 of inkscrawl, a magazine of minimalist speculative poetry (10 lines or fewer).

This was the theme I specified in my submissions call:

Issue 9 of inkscrawl will be guest edited by Bogi Takács. This issue’s theme is Atypical Weather. Weather is one of the perennial topics of poetry – but can you show us something new? From space weather to magical weather, the possibilities are endless. I want to see how weather affects people (and other sentient beings) or vice versa, I want to read about your traditions or reconceptualizations of weather, I want imagery and soundscapes and smells. I will be reading during July 1 – Aug 31, with publication expected in October.

I read all the submissions, sent out copious amounts of rejections and 15 acceptances. Finally everyone has signed their publication agreement, so I can release the table of contents! The order is still subject to change.

* Even If You Want To by Gabby Reed
* The Sky Secedes by Mat Joiner
* Chatterbones, Chatterbones by Toby MacNutt
* False Lights by Sonya Taaffe
* Storm-yarn by Sara Norja
* a weather witch’s vengeance by Stuti Telidevara
* Particularities by S. Qiouyi Lu
* Consistencies by S. Qiouyi Lu
* Mage // Cirus by Naru Dames Sundar
* rain.rb by Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas
* Dorothy’s Prayer by Gwynne Garfinkle
* Confections by Alexandra Seidel
* All Their Rusted Throats by Nolan Liebert
* The exile, athirst by M Sereno
* Assimilation by Jaymee Goh

Launch is still scheduled for October, but we might have some small delays, because several of these poems use uncommon formatting.

I am very happy to say that 3 of these are first poetry sales, and 2 more might be first poetry appearances (the poets in question already sold poems elsewhere too, but these might appear first).

I am also very happy to see such a diverse lineup – many editors say that their submissions piles skew very Anglo and straight / cis. Mine certainly didn’t! \O/ Thank you everyone for sending your work!! Likewise thanks to Rose Lemberg for writing a great article on encouraging diversity as an editor, I tried to follow the principles laid out in it.

I got so much great work and had to part with poems from some of my favorite poets too. It was a very strong set of submissions and I’m very grateful to everyone who sent me pieces!! I will also be guest-editing the next issue IY”H, so I will be happy to read more. Regardless of whether you got a rejection or an acceptance, do please try again!

Edited to add:

I am very happy to see that people are tagging the announcement with #ActualAsianPoet. This is a great hashtag and I wholeheartedly recommend it!

But I would also like to say that I am not perfect and I think I certainly have other gaps in representation. For example, I interact with non-Western authors a lot (being one), which is probably one reason why Asian authors felt comfortable submitting to me, even though I’m not Asian. I also live in the West right now, and I got submissions from many likewise diasporic poets… and so on. But there are other groups which I feel I could’ve reached much better – so I’d rather not sit on anything resembling laurels 😀 because I know I can do even more for the next issue, and solicit more strategically too. See you there!!

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing |
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Helping the refugees in Hungary

Interrupting your regularly scheduled updates on diversity in fiction/poetry… This is really important, please read! There is no story/poem recommendation today because I spent my time writing up this post.

A large wave of refugees has recently arrived in Hungary. Most of them are fleeing the civil war in Syria, but there are also people from Afghanistan, etc. The government is doing absolutely nothing useful; large NGOs like the Red Cross likewise haven’t jumped on the opportunity to help.

Just yesterday, Germany has pledged to settle the refugees, but they still need to reach Germany somehow. The first train from Budapest to Munich arrived today. A lot of people are still stranded at train stations along this route, especially in Budapest. No one knows how long anything is going to take.

Aid is being disbursed by volunteer-run Facebook groups. Right now fresh fruit, vegetables, and mattresses are probably the most needed.

If you live in Hungary, a great way to help is to show up at a volunteering center. You do not have to be a Hungarian speaker.

If you live elsewhere, a great way to help is to send food or various other supplies (sanitary pads, etc.). You can use various online groceries ordering services like Tesco or GRoby to order bulk quantities of groceries. Food is cheap in Hungary – I ordered 70 pounds of apples for about $65. If you live in the West, a little from you goes a long way toward making a change.

Other people are currently writing up English-language instructions on how to order food to be shipped to the distribution centers. I used my Hungarian bank account to order, but some people from other countries have had success using their credit cards. I’ll do my best to update this entry once I have instructions.


If you are serious about helping, especially with food, but you’re not a Hungarian speaker, you can join Let’s help refugees in Hungary- English group on Facebook. It’s a closed group, but people get approved fast.


Other groups with at least some English-language information:

* Migration Aid (Bilingual En-Hu)

In addition to the main open group, there are closed groups for specific geographic areas and train stations – Keleti, Déli, Győr etc. Mostly in Hungarian.

* MigSzol Csoport (Bilingual En-Hu)

A lot of information about demonstrations, political events, etc. too.


And for my usual readership, now that you’ve read the actually useful information, you can listen to me ramble about my writing. It will be sadly relevant.

You probably noticed that I didn’t post my customary bonus story notes for my story in Lightspeed – Queers Destroy Science Fiction, Increasing Police Visibility.

The reason for this is that in the meanwhile, the story came true in a sense, and I was so upset that I simply didn’t know how to tackle the issue.

It’s about migration, so here goes.

The story was inspired by the current right-wing Hungarian government making a target of marginalized group after marginalized group. Everyone got their turn. I got my turn as a Jew, as a queer person, as a trans person, and even as someone in a non-“traditional” family. The Hungarian government made it clear that it wasn’t interested in the continued existence, let alone the wellbeing, of people like me.

Last year, all this got me wondering who would be next. The usual targets like Roma, Jews, etc. have been cycled through to less commonly targeted groups like trans people, disabled people and so on.

I thought “Maybe immigrants will be next – but that’s ridiculous! Hungary has practically no immigration! People are leaving faster than they are arriving! …Okay, this can be clearly fictional.”

Thus I wrote my story about the government targeting immigrants – and because it was a science fiction story, it featured shapeshifting aliens from outer space. I even felt that I might have been too hard on the Hungarian government, just a tiny bit. But I based the events in the story on my experience of the police, in my own neighborhood, so I figured the state apparatus could survive some criticism. There is a great Hungarian literary tradition of this, after all; sustained and perpetuated by better writers than me. The story was accepted by Lightspeed and I rested on my rather flimsy laurels.

As Increasing Police Visibility was awaiting publication, the Hungarian government launched an anti-immigrant campaign.

This when there were still very few migrants of any kind in the country. As experts were predicting a wave of refugees in the summer, the government might have been banking on that. Or maybe it was just a guess, a cruelly successful guess. Maybe they literally ran out of marginalized groups to target. I don’t know; I’m not privy to their decisionmaking, just the end results of it.

And this is one reason why I spent $65 of my own rather sad-looking food budget to order apples for Syrians in Hungary from Iowa.

Now you know; I encourage you to act accordingly.

Written by prezzey in: misc,writing | Tags:
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#diversepoems and #diversestories Aug 17-28

Here is the usual roundup of my Twitter recommendations of short SFF by diverse authors! You can follow me at @bogiperson for more of these.

I didn’t get to post my roundup for two weeks, but I was actually recommending stories on Twitter, I was just too overwhelmed with the start of the semester to get to making a blog post. I did skip some days because I was toppling over by the time I got home.

As Vitality was horrible both about disability and about transness, I decided to highlight trans and/or disabled authors – this is all noted in the appropriate threads. Finally, I also found a great story that featured bugs being eaten, with the help of Ada Hoffmann and Polenth Blake. (To my knowledge, the author of that one is neither trans nor disabled, but she still falls under the coverage of #diversestories!)


Aug 17: (Poem) The Bears are Working by Shweta Narayan in Goblin Fruit, Winter 2009.

Aug 18: (Poem) this sacred garden by Andrew Watson in Strange Horizons, Jul 2015.

Aug 20: (Short story) Sometimes Heron by Mari Ness in Lackington’s, Summer 2015.

Aug 24: (Poem) Train in my veins by Dominik Parisien in Stone Telling, Jan 2014.

Aug 25: (Short story) (Non-free) How to Remember to Forget to Remember the Old War by Rose Lemberg in Lightspeed – Queers Destroy Science Fiction, Jun 2015.

Aug 28: (Short story) Pompilid by Nghi Vo in Unlikely Story / Journal of Unlikely Entomology, 2013.

Recent supporters of the series:

* Keffy Kehrli bought me Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings and a lot of food.

* Anonymous Benefactor bought me food

* Another Anonymous Benefactor bought me food (I suspect that these might not have been anonymous, but it all went through a third party supplier on Amazon and the names might have gotten lost?)

* Marcell Géza Takács bought me The Very Best of Kate Elliott and Gene Mapper by Taiyo Fujii

* Zillion Press sent me a reviewer copy of Polychrome Ink Volume 1

I hope I didn’t miss anything!

How to support the series

I don’t have a Patreon or anything similar because I’m on a student visa and not allowed to accept money for work off-campus. You can support me by surprising me with gifts from my Amazon wishlist. Right now, food would be most appreciated, but books are always cool too 😀

Written by prezzey in: sf |
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Vampires eat bugs! …..not. The Bogiperson sampler :D

An unexpected side effect of Vitality Magazine treating me awfully and attempting to summarize my story I sent to them while reading it very bizarrely is….

…people are now asking me for my VAMPIRES EAT BUGS story.

I don’t have a vampires eat bugs story, sadly! But for all the people who found me through this controversy, here is an online sampler of my work often featuring QUILTBAG people, grouped into fluffy versus weird categories – I hope this helps. 😀

Read these first?

This is some of my recent work that I really would like people to read before picking the fluffy versus the weird categories. 😀 I did put warnings on them, and these are not my lightest pieces, but I do believe they say very important things. If you can read them, I recommend you start here.

(Poem) You Are Here / Was: Blue Line to Memorial Park. Strange Horizons, ed. Sonya Taaffe.
+ Bonus notes + Podcast
This is an animated poem, please click on “Proceed” to see it all! Warning for mentions of war and war memorials. This poem won this year’s Strange Horizons Readers’ Poll in Poetry category.

(Short story) This Shall Serve As a Demarcation. Scigentasy, ed. Sara Puls and Mary Jaimes. Podcast in Glittership, ed. Keffy Kehrli.
+ Bonus notes + Podcast
This far-future story features two nonbinary trans people in a D/s relationship; it is also an exploration of how colonialism destroys both people’s lives and the natural environment. As such, it was  inspired by my experience growing up in a Soviet-occupied country, among other things. Many content warnings: warfare, people being torn apart, horrible political doublespeak, people being exploited. Nevertheless, this is a hopeful story with a positive ending.

Warm fuzzies!

(Poem) The Iterative Nature of the Magical Discovery Process. Through the Gate, ed. Mitchell Hart.
+ Bonus notes
Lesbian wizards doing science. With actual math!

(Short story) Forestspirit, Forestspirit. Clarkesworld, ed. Neil Clarke. – Podcast on the same page.
In the far future, a nonbinary military veteran and a small boy save the forest together. There are mentions of war and racism, but overall this story is about nonviolence and features only nonviolent actions.

(Flash story) For Your Optimal Hookboarding Experience. Lackington’s, ed. Ranylt Richildis.
+ Bonus notes
A girl thinks back on saving her friend of ambiguous gender from an extreme sports accident.

Weird body things

All with content warnings.

(Poem) A User Guide to the Application of Gem-Flowers. Apex, ed. Elise Matthesen.
+ Bonus notes
About gem-flowers applied into flesh. It has a happy tone but includes BDSM elements, knives, cutting, all quite explicit. No sexuality of any kind.

(Poem) A Self-Contained Riot of Lights. Strange Horizons, ed. Romie Stott.
+ Bonus notes
Communicating telepathically using rainbow tapeworms in one’s nasal cavity. This is actually a romance poem about a long-distance relationship, but I figure you wanted to know about the tapeworms. 😀

(Novelette) Three Partitions. GigaNotoSaurus, ed. Ann Leckie.
+ Bonus notes + Even more notes + And yet more notes
Shapeshifting Orthodox Jewish cis woman not accepted by her community as a cis woman. This is a lengthy exploration of nonbinary gender in Orthodoxy based on my life experience *sigh* And it also includes someone throwing up alien insects. More content warnings and bonus notes here.


I have a lot more in my English-language SF bibliography.

You might also like some of my recent nonfiction:

* The Diverse Editors List – A Post-Production Essay.

* Alien of Extraordinary Ability? Migration in SFF and in My Life.

* Flavorless and Colorless? Minority Experiences in MG/YA Books about Autism.

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing |
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Vitality Magazine misgenders me

Vitality Magazine responds to my post describing their misconduct, by… misgendering me.

Vitality Magazine misgendering me on Tumblr

You can look it up if you wish. Their response has so far included, at the time of writing this:

* Editing the response to remove the misgendering after other trans and cis people call her out, without any apology or notice (I’m assuming she hoped I wouldn’t have a screenshot and the whole thing would just go away)

* Providing a fauxpology calling it a “mistake” only after other  people vocally call her out on Twitter

* Providing an apology only after other people call out the fauxpology on Twitter

* Posting the response on Tumblr, which I have been repeatedly stating I do not use and have no account on (accessibility issue, I can explain later or try to dig up when I explained it previously)

* Misrepresenting my story (it does not feature a vampire, for starters…)

* Summarizing my previously unpublished story which they have no legal rights to and which is currently out on submission (this is a separate offense from misrepresenting it – even if they represented it accurately, this would still not be okay at all)

* Claiming we were “friendly” when Vitality never even followed me on Twitter – the help I gave them previously was very one-sided, as is a lot of help trans people provide by educating cis people. I also backed their first Kickstarter.
* There’s probably more, but I would really prefer not to look at it again…*

The overwhelming majority of the responses have been supportive. I am very grateful for all the support I got.

I have only seen one kind of response defending Vitality, and that is an assumption that I am only “whining about not getting into the magazine”. About this I can say the following:

I am a professionally published writer. Writing used to be my day job for years – mostly writing popular science, but also fiction. I have been published in several of the major online genre magazines. I listed some of these in my previous post.

Many writers love market data posts, myself included, so here goes – I’m going to indulge myself. In 2015 I received rejections so far from: Tor.com (2x), Asimov’s (3x), F&SF (2x), Devilfish Review, Motorcycle Anthology, Cast of Wonders, Lightspeed, Bahamut, Daily Science Fiction, Poetry in Public, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, Betwixt (2x), the New Yorker, Apex, Flash Fiction Online, the Cascadia Subduction Zone, Clarkesworld, Glittership, GigaNotoSaurus, Lackington’s, Running Bunny and Unlikely Story.

This is in chronological order. As you can see, the list includes SF venues, literary venues, specifically queer and trans venues, big venues, small venues, venues which published me previously, venues which solicited from me, and even the local city bus. I hope I didn’t leave anyone out! 😀

I somehow did not raise a fuss about any of these magazines, and you know why? Because I was treated with respect at each and every one of these.


Thank you everyone who continues to stand by me. I am very grateful to all of you.

(and I was not kidding about the local city bus! If there’s anything that should make me cry by this logic is getting rejected by the local city bus. 😀 )

Written by prezzey in: writing |
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Vitality Magazine is not a safe space for trans people

If you’ve been reading my Twitter feed, you know I got an unprofessional and offensively worded rejection for a story from an unnamed queer magazine I used to promote.

I spent a lot of time thinking about whether to go public with it. In the meantime, several other authors told me about similar editorial responses they received from the same person. This has encouraged me to go public, as it demonstrates the response I got was part of a larger pattern. I have not asked their permission to share what happened to them – they can come forward or not, as they would like – but I’d like to share what happened to me.

The venue in question is Vitality Magazine.

Let’s start at the beginning.

About me

I’m a Hungarian Jewish nonbinary trans person, specifically agender (my pronouns are e/em/eir/emself or singular they). I’m also autistic and have motor dyspraxia. I moved to the US from Hungary last year and currently live in Iowa. I do not pass well as either of the binary genders, and therefore do not have an option of being in the closet. As both a trans person and a Jew (a target of discrimination in my country), I repeatedly experienced physical violence, social ostracism and harassment in my country of origin. I had to move across the globe to live in a measure of peace. I’m just saying this so that you understand my background – I expect this post will be read by people who don’t know me personally.

I am an author of speculative fiction and poetry. I’ve been published in various SF magazines like Clarkesworld, Apex, Strange Horizons and more. I’ve also been published in specifically queer/trans venues like Glittership, Queers Destroy SF, Here We Cross, etc. As a reviewer, I have been talking about diverse SF in English for over five years, on this site in addition to various magazines, and more recently also on Twitter.

I have had extensive experience with editors in several different countries and in two languages. I have received hundreds of responses for my writing, and I also worked full time as an author of nonfiction for several years. I know what an editorial response to a submission looks like.

What Vitality sent me

An excerpt from the response I received: (quoting a part of the rejection, emphasis mine)

“There is nothing technically wrong with your piece. The present tense is a bit hard to follow (but all present tense is) and I felt some of the interjected worldbuilding (his back tattoo, for instance) was rough and unnecessary. But basically, this piece isn’t a good fit for Vitality because it’s simply… gross.

First, this is simply not acceptable to say. As an editor, one is producing professional correspondence where such value-laden words as “gross” don’t belong.

Second, let’s examine what the editor found gross.

My piece is a secondary world fantasy story with two nonbinary trans people of color in a warm and loving D/s (Dominant / submissive) relationship. One of them is seriously ill and the other is trying to take care of them. This second person is also disabled and has a motor coordination issue similar to mine. (I naively thought that a story based in part on my own personal experience would be a great fit with Vitality, as they’ve specifically called for such and even sold T-shirts with taglines like “everyone deserves to see themselves in fiction”.) There is no violence. There is no sex, though the characters are shown to be sharing a bed.

There are at least three elements that could’ve squicked the editor out: the transness, the D/s, and the being sick and disabled theme. Judging from other parts of the response, it was the illness/disability theme most of all:

“We’re thinking about adding “no overly gory medical descriptions” to our guidelines after reading this piece…

I personally don’t think the story had any gore. (I have written and sold both horror for adults and fantasy for children, on both ends of the goriness spectrum.) It did have medical descriptions, quite inevitably given that it has speaking roles for a disabled character, an acutely ill character, and a doctor.

It is impossible to talk in any depth about many disabilities and illnesses without medical descriptions, at least I don’t know how to do so about my own. This wording tells me that disabled / ill people and their narratives are especially not welcome at Vitality. Many (most?) of us trans people are physically, mentally, disabled, chronically or acutely ill, sick, at least in part due to the way the cis majority treats us. We also face significant barriers to healthcare. I personally faced and continue to face significant barriers to healthcare. To exclude such narratives is to exclude the life experience of vast swathes of the QUILTBAG but especially the trans population. This story was a positive portrayal of supporting an acutely ill loved one, with a happy ending (there, I’ve spoiled it…) and people who are kind to each other. It could easily have been about two cis, straight people – it wasn’t a “trans issue story” at all – but it was deeply informed by my life experience.

In addition to the “gross” remark, the rejection misgendered my protagonist (emphasis mine):

“There is nothing technically wrong with your piece. The present tense is a bit hard to follow (but all present tense is) and I felt some of the interjected worldbuilding (his back tattoo, for instance) was rough and unnecessary.

The pronoun “his” in this rejection refers to a nonbinary trans person who is explicitly mentioned to be neutrally gendered and is never referred to as “him” anywhere in the text.

The editor who sent this response, Jesse Ellorris, self-identifies as a bisexual cis woman from Kansas.

Caveats, and coming forward as a marginalized submitter

An immediate defense can be that the editor in question is inexperienced, and I am being too strict. First, inexperienced or no, a GLBT-friendly venue is NOT a venue that treats trans authors badly at no expense to cis people. I’m quite thick-skinned, but I’m also outspoken and I understand that most writers do not dare to come forward about venues that act in bad faith. There is a considerable power differential at work in editor-writer relationships even when both sides are equally marginalized, which is not the case here.

Second, I am not saying any of the above out of resentment – my work finds markets relatively easily, and I usually send out my pieces again within a day of receiving a rejection, without particular negative thoughts. (This story is out on the market again, too.) According to my spreadsheet, in 2015 so far I received 31 rejections and 15 acceptances from editors, and I did not make any public criticisms of the other responses. I am also currently guest-editing a venue (inkscrawl, a small poetry magazine). Many editors – and authors – can attest to having interacted with me in a courteous, professional manner.

There are many markets friendly to queer and trans writers, and I will continue to promote them. I will just not send anything to Vitality in the future, and I will do my best to warn others about them.

Not only did I receive reports from other writers, but also when I said in public that I had a bad experience with an unnamed queer venue, several people asked me outright if it was Vitality. No one guessed any other market. This also strongly suggests there is a problem with this magazine and that I should come forward.

I thought that even if Vitality doesn’t buy my story, I would still be treated with respect. Like many other writers, I trusted them with my work. It was a mistake. I would like to prevent other people from making the same mistake in the future.

An endnote:

I got this very recent Twitter response to a reader from the magazine (who I don’t know in person), pointed out to me by a fellow disabled trans person after I finalized the above text, but before I posted it. I’m presenting it without comment:

Thank yous

Four people beta-read the above text and offered their very helpful comments – three trans people and a cis person. I am not naming them to protect them from possible backlash, but I am extremely grateful to them.

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing |

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