Why I Won’t Be Attending Context 28

This post is extremely difficult to write, but I feel these things need to be said, so please bear with me if I digress or rant. I’ll try to keep it simple. (There is a TL;DR at the end if you’re pressed for time or you prefer not to read my rambling.) I’ll also try to keep things as objective and factual as I can, but obviously this is how things happened from my point of view.

Context 27 was an amazing event. I’ve attended Context since I became really serious about writing and I’ve learned more than I can possibly encapsulate here, had the chance to do invaluable networking with other writers, and made friendships I hope will be lifelong. I’ve said many times to many people that it’s my favorite convention. And Context 27, in my opinion, was the best of all the conventions I’ve attended. The volunteers did an astounding job, especially considering the limited resources they were sometimes given. I had an incredible time.

This post is extremely difficult to write.

My friend Lucy Snyder has been volunteering with Context for a long time, something like eight years, and revived the convention from near-death by instituting a very successful workshop program. Last year she was looking for new people to volunteer with the convention committee, and my friend Steve Saus was going to volunteer to be the programming director, so I jumped on board. It was a chance to give back to the convention I loved.

As my expertise lies in marketing and teaching, I had a lot of ideas concerning how Context could reach out to young writers and flesh out its dwindling attendance. Most of these were naysayed at concomm meetings. I was told “We already tried that,” no matter what I proposed. Dealing with certain concomm members became so unpleasant I stopped attending meetings. I developed so much anxiety about volunteering I was stymied. I kept telling everyone I was out of spoons (this was the year I was diagnosed with stress-induced vertigo and high blood pressure; I completed my student teaching; I took my licensure exams; I sought my first teaching job) but this wasn’t really true; I was out of spoons when it came to dealing with the Context concomm. In the end, I took marching orders directly from Steve. I helped organize the Saturday night parties; I bought supplies for the parties; I was on a number of panels; I posted on twitter and facebook and took flyers to libraries and invited a number of my aspiring writer friends to the convention (a couple of whom actually attended). I encouraged next year’s Writer GOH to come to Context. Most of the work I did was minor and behind the scenes. It wasn’t as much as I wanted to do, but it was what I could do this year given my circumstances.

This will all be relevant in a minute; bear with me.

After Context 27, a blogger posted a blog post mentioning that she was harassed at the convention. A volunteer made inappropriate comments to her and a friend in the convention suite. I’m not going to link to that blog post because I think that blogger has received enough negative attention since her post. Though the harassment was mentioned, she went on to detail how amazing every other aspect of the convention was. She stated that she would return despite the incident.

Steve had already received one report of harassment at Context 27. He saw the blog post and contacted the blogger to let her know he was concerned. He also emailed all the attendees, panelists, and guests, asking if they had any experiences with harassment at Context 27 the convention committee should know about. He received several reports of harassment committed by the same individual. At least one report claimed the harassment spanned years. At least one woman was uncomfortable going into the consuite at Context 27 because that was the harasser’s hangout; at least one other said she would not be returning because the harassment was so troubling to her. The reporters asked to remain anonymous.

Steve reported this information to the entire concomm. He probably should have gone directly to the convention chairs instead. He has publicly acknowledged and apologized for this mistake on at least two occasions. Again; this will be relevant in a moment.

The harassment reports made it clear that we had to ban the harasser, especially since one of the complaints was public. Several of us stood up for the targets of harassment and their safety and insisted that the harasser be banned. We had a meeting of the FANACO Board and the Context convention committee (these are separate organizations, with some overlapping membership) where we voted to compromise and ban him for five years, with the option to reapply to attend the convention later. This meeting, at which those of us who supported banning the harasser were interrogated and yelled at and accused of wanting to destroy the convention, was a deeply upsetting meeting for me that had me on the edge of panic for days afterward.

No one was happy with this five-year ban, because the older members of the FANACO Board and certain members of the convention committee did not want the harasser banned at all, and obviously those of us standing up for the harassed felt that he should be banned forever. We couldn’t guarantee anyone’s safety otherwise. Members of the Board and concomm said the following (either in person or via email):

  • The reports should be ignored because the reporters didn’t go through the proper channels (i.e. the reports were made to Steve instead of to the con chairs).
  • The reports should be ignored because Steve accidentally emailed the whole concomm about the reports instead of just the chairs.
  • The reports should be ignored because the reports came in after the convention, rather than immediately.
  • The reports should be ignored because one of them (the most minor) was a public blog post.
  • The reports should be ignored because the targets of harassment wished to remain anonymous and wouldn’t make public their accusations.
  • Banning the harasser was “petty” and “vindictive” and not a precaution to keep convention attendees safe from a known harasser, much less prevent possible future litigation for the convention.
  • The harasser should not be “punished” with banning, because he is elderly and had a stroke and/or too much to drink.
  • All reports about harassment should be ignored without an independent third-party witness.
  • Those of us defending the targets of harassment were trying to destroy the convention with our negativity, refusing to appreciate all the hard work done by the volunteers, focusing only on one bad thing that happened, even though we all stated in person and via email how wonderful we felt Context 27 had been.

I was singled out with Lucy and Steve for a bullying email from a member of concomm who disagreed with us on one occasion; on another, I was singled out alone by one of the convention chairs for verbal abuse when I admitted that I no longer felt safe attending Context if the harassment policy was not going to be enforced. I was the low-hanging fruit because I did not provide any crucial services to the convention this year. I was told that my opinion didn’t matter because I didn’t do enough work for Context 27. The words “how dare you” were actually used.

On the day I received that email, several of my coworkers were laid off, and the stress of being singled out for verbal abuse by someone I thought was a friend on top of the layoffs was simply too much to bear. My blood pressure was sky-high and I could barely walk. I asked to be removed from future email threads and the concomm email list. I quit the concomm, in other words, but I did so quietly, because I don’t believe in flouncing. I made my opinions clear, and it was also clear many members of the concomm and Board had no respect for my opinion and would continue to ignore me or verbally abuse me if I continued to disagree with them. I couldn’t continue to work for an organization that causes me so much stress, even if I had been receiving a paycheck, which of course, I wasn’t.

Let me be clear: I was bullied for standing up for the targets of harassment. I was personally attacked for saying I didn’t feel safe attending the convention if the harassment policy wasn’t enforced. I quit because dealing with the concomm started to negatively impact my health. Since then, Lucy and Steve have both publicly resigned.

I don’t often discuss controversial topics on this blog (okay, I never do that), but this is a blog post I feel must be made. People need to know what went on behind the scenes. They need to know how Steve and Lucy and a few other people stood up for the harassment victims, and were ignored or called names. I’m sure this blog post will open me up for further abuse and harassment. But if I knew there was going to be a serial harasser at a party and the hosts were aware but did nothing, I would warn all my friends not to attend that party. I can’t fail to say something and take the chance that a friend I encouraged to attend Context will be next harassment target. I couldn’t live with myself.

Other writers I like and respect are saying they won’t attend Context 28 because they are signatories to Scalzi’s anti-harassment pledge, and because they’re uncomfortable attending a convention that doesn’t enforce a harassment policy. My reasons are more personal.

I’m not attending Context 28 because, as a survivor of sexual assault, as a woman, as a human being, I don’t feel safe at my favorite convention anymore. I keep wondering what would have happened had I been one of the women who was harassed, or even assaulted. Would my reports be ignored because I waited to report, and had no independent third-party witnesses? In my opinion, instead of vilifying the blogger who brought this to all our attention, the Board and concomm should be thanking her. Who knows how much worse the harassment would have been next time. Who knows what kind of damage that would have done to Context in lost attendance, negative PR, and even possible lawsuits.

As Steve says, this should have been simple.

This post has been very difficult to write. Thank you for enduring my rambling, if you got this far.

I would love to see the people in charge at Context “fix” this problem. But at this point I see only a few options for them if they want their attendees, panelists, and guests to return: ban the serial harasser; publicly apologize for the way they treated (and continue to treat) those of us who stood up for the harassed; and resign from the Board and concomm. I have absolutely zero hope that’s ever going to happen, and I’m devastated by it, especially because Ellen Datlow and Chuck Wendig (next year’s GOHs) were my picks. I was so excited to meet them in person.

Context was my favorite convention. But I guess now that I’ve seen how the sausage is made, I don’t want to eat it anymore.

TL;DR: I am not attending Context 28 because it’s clear the people in charge have no intention of enforcing the harassment policy. I feel unsafe attending, especially after being verbally abused by members of the concomm. I have zero confidence that, were I harassed or even assaulted, my report would be believed or appropriately handled, and that is an unreasonable risk for any convention to ask me to take.

November Deadlines

…better late than never, right?

Indigenous Horror Stories – November 21

Crossed Genres: Ensemble – November 30

Podcastle: Artemis Rising – December 5

She Walks in Shadows – December 15

Vitality Magazine Issue 1 – December 20

Escape Pod: Artemis Rising – December 20

Diverse Weird Western Anthology – December 31

Plasma Frequency: Anti-Apocalypse – January 15

Women in Practical Armor – April 1

Hidden Youth – April 30

Cicada Magazine – ongoing

These deadlines are, as always, Submitter Beware, because I can’t vouch for any of these publishers. This is basically just a place for me to deposit short story deadlines to which I would like to submit work, so all the markets are paying (usually at least $.01 a word) and accept electronic submissions. They’re all genre markets of some kind (horror, science fiction, steampunk, fantasy).

Please be sure to check Horror TreeRalan, Dark Markets, and The Submission Grinder for more publications looking for submissions.  This list is by no means exhaustive. Oh, and don’t forget to check posts from previous months (they’re all categorized under Upcoming Deadlines) for publications that are still open.

If you’re an editor or publisher and you’d like me to feature your deadline here, you can email me at sarah.hans at gmail dot com with the details.

Happy Submitting!

Steampunk Shapeshifter Stories are here!

The Beast Within 4: Gears and Growls is a collection of  steampunk werecreature stories (edited by the fantastic Jennifer Brozek) that features a story by yours truly, “Wings of Feather, Wings of Brass.” Here is the interior artwork for my story (drawn by the incredible Jenna Fowler) and the awesome cover:

Wings of Feather, Wings of Brass by Jenna Fowler

 

The Beast Within 4: Gears and Growls

Here’s the Table of Contents! I’m super excited to share a TOC with authors from both Steampunk World and Sidekicks!:

The Ussuri Bear by Ken Liu

Indentured by Jay Wilburn

A Cage Gilded by Matthew Marovich

Wings of Feather, Wings of Brass by Sarah Hans

The Wild Charge They Made by Steven Saus

A Taste of the Other Side by Chadwick Ginther

Peculiar Institution by Caren Gussoff

The Clockwork Caesar by Alan Smale

The Business of Ferrets by Patrick S. Tomlinson

Dark Energy by Donald J. Bingle

The Captain’s Wife by Tyler Hayes

Red in Winter by Lillian Cohen-Moore

Legacy by A.G. Carpenter

The Man at the End of the Chain by Folly Blaine

Their Man by Mark W. Coulter

A Well-Crafted Man by Nick Bergeron

Quarantine Station by Thoraiya Dyer

Simultaneous Kickstarters

Being a writer means long periods of inactivity between frantic flurries of movement. Thanks to having months to write in between teaching gigs, I’m now in a flurry period (yay). Which means two of my short stories are in two anthologies that are both on Kickstarter simultaneously. Let me tell you about them!

Book Cover

The first is The Bard’s Tale, a collection of stories and recipes edited by Daniel “Doc” Myers of Medieval Cookery fame. That’s right, this anthology is half short story collection and half cookbook! So if you like reading and cooking (or reading and eating!) then this is the anthology for you. My story “Voice of the Revolution” is a post-apocalyptic science fiction tale about an android bard, a description I hope you find enticing. The cover of the book is also gorgeous and the stories will each feature an illustration artist David Szilagyi, so I’m super excited to see it in print (I’m really loving the trend toward illustrating anthologies that crowdfunding has made possible). This Kickstarter campaign wraps up in only 8 days, so back it now while you still can!

The second anthology is Not Our Kind: Tales of (Not) Belonging edited by Nayad Monroe. You may remember Nayad as a contributor to both my anthologies, Sidekicks! and Steampunk WorldI was also a contributor to Nayad’s last anthology, What Fates Impose, a really well-received collection of stories about divination. I point this out so you’ll understand that we have a history of stellar collaboration. My story for Not Our Kind is called “FawnGirl14″ and it’s about a girl who doesn’t belong because she has (NSFW) antlers. Why does she have antlers? Dark, urban fantasy reasons that are revealed in the story! The anthology is a Kickstarter Staff Pick and includes stories by big names like Ekaterina Sedia, Lucy A. Snyder, Remy Nakamura, and Damien Angelica Walters. As of this posting the campaign has 27 days left to go, and both my critiques are still available as rewards if you’d like to have up to 5,000 words critiqued by me, personally!

I really believe in both these projects, and both offer me actual money for my writing, so if you can back one or both I’d appreciate it. And if you’ve still got some money burning a hole in your pocket that you’d like to throw at another Kickstarter, please consider the campaign for Frame Shop, a novella written by Sidekicks! contributor Donald J. Bingle. Happy backing!

All About Podcasts

I’m currently shopping a few stories around to podcasts, so I ended up compiling this list of podcasts and their submission guidelines. I thought other people might find it helpful so…here you go. All of these podcasts pay their contributors and publish some variation of speculative fiction, and aren’t associated with a print magazine (like Lightspeed or Clarkesworld). Pay careful attention, because many of these podcasts are closed for submissions at various times, and may be closed right this second. They’re arranged according to payment offered.

The Electronic Voice Phenomenon: Pays $.05/word for original dark speculative fiction stories under 2,000 words.

Escape Pod: Pays $.05/word for original science fiction stories and $.03/word for reprints between 2,000 and 6,000 words.

The DrabbleCast: Pays $.03/word for dark/weird speculative fiction stories between 500 and 4,000 words. Reprints welcome.

Another Dimension Magazine: Pays $.03/word for horror and dark fantasy stories between 1,000 and 3,000 words. Reprints welcome.

PseudoPod: Pays $100/story for horror tales between 2,000 and 6,000 words, and $20/story for flash fiction under 2,000 words. Reprints welcome.

PodCastle: Pays $100/story for fantasy tales between 2,000 and 6,000 words, and $20/story for flash fiction under 2,000 words. Reprints welcome.

GigaNotoSaurus: Pays $100/story for original science fiction and fantasy stories between 5,000 and 25,000 words.

Tales of Old: Pays $25/story for historical fiction and alternate history stories between 3,000 and 6,000 words. Reprints welcome.

Cast of Wonders: Pays ~$8/story for young adult speculative fiction stories up to 10,000 words. Reprints welcome.

The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine: Pays $.005/word (that’s right, 1/2 cent per word) with a maximum payment of $10 for speculative fiction of various lengths during open contest periods.

Toasted Cake:  Pays $5/story for SF/F/H fiction under 2,000 words, with a preference for those under 1,200 words. Reprints welcome.

 

So, dear reader…what podcasts do you listen to? Are there any fiction podcasts I missed that I should add to this list?

October Deadlines

You may have noticed last month I missed posting deadlines (or maybe you didn’t; I’m not sure anyone actually reads this thing…*taps microphone*). I have a new job and a new house and not a lot of time to write, especially things like blog posts, which are unpaid. So, I missed the deadline. Oops. I’ll try to make it up to you by having two this month: one today, and one next week about podcasts. Deal? Deal. Okay, here we come with those deadlines…

Steal the Spotlight MicroFiction Contest – October 15

Autumn Cthulhu – October 31

Crossed Genres: Betrayal – October 31

Beware the Little White Rabbit – November 15

Shock Totem – November 30

Accessing the Future – November 30

Bad Dream Entertainment - November 30

Apotheosis: Stories of Survival After the Rise of the Elder Gods - December 31

Second Contacts – January 15, 2015

The Mammoth Book of Professor Moriarty Adventures – February 15, 2015

The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Tales – April 1, 2015

Nightmare Magazine – reopened

Grievous Angel – ongoing

Uncanny – ongoing

Shades of Terror – ongoing

Halloween Forevermore – ongoing

Fantastic Stories of the Imagination - ongoing

These deadlines are, as always, Submitter Beware, because I can’t vouch for any of these publishers. This is basically just a place for me to deposit short story deadlines to which I would like to submit work, so all the markets are paying (usually at least $.01 a word, although I’m getting a lot pickier about pay rates lately) and accept electronic submissions. They’re all genre markets of some kind (horror, science fiction, steampunk, fantasy).

Please be sure to check Horror TreeRalan, Dark Markets, and The Submission Grinder for more publications looking for submissions.  This list is by no means exhaustive. Oh, and don’t forget to check posts from previous months (they’re all categorized under Upcoming Deadlines) for publications that are still open.

If you’re an editor or publisher and you’d like me to feature your deadline here, you can email me at sarah.hans at gmail dot com with the details.

Happy Submitting!

Context 27 Schedule

Context 27 is this weekend! I’m super excited! This will be my last convention for some time, and it’s one of my favorites, so I’m definitely going to be hitting it hard.

Here’s my schedule:

Saturday

12:00 – Skewering the Trope “Tough Women” in Literature

4:00 – Crowdfunding

5:00 – Reading

9:00 Sentence Slam Judging

I’m also organizing the parties for Saturday night and I’ll be attending several workshops. Keep an eye out for me if you’ll be there, and say hello!

August Deadlines

How is it already August?!

Fantasy and Science Fiction Special Issue – August 15

NonBinary Review: Wizard of Oz – August 31

Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide – August 31

Crossed Genres: Destruction – August 31

Penumbra: Aliens – September 1

The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography – October 1

Midnight Echo Magazine: Sinister – October 31

The Lost Worlds: Steampunk Horror Anthology – December 30

Shadows and Reflections: A Tribute to Roger Zelazny – open until filled

These deadlines are, as always, Submitter Beware, because I can’t vouch for any of these publishers. This is basically just a place for me to deposit short story deadlines to which I would like to submit work, so all the markets are paying (usually at least $.01 a word, although I’m getting a lot pickier about pay rates lately) and accept electronic submissions. They’re all genre markets of some kind (horror, science fiction, steampunk, fantasy).

Please be sure to check Horror TreeRalan and Dark Markets for more publications looking for submissions.  This list is by no means exhaustive. Oh, and don’t forget to check posts from previous months (they’re all categorized under Upcoming Deadlines) for publications that are still open.

If you’re an editor or publisher and you’d like me to feature your deadline here, you can email me at sarah.hans at gmail dot com with the details.

Happy Submitting!

Super Exciting News Explosion!!!!1!

NOW WITH SUPER EXCITING BULLET POINTS!

  • Steampunk World is now available for pre-order if you missed the Kickstarter! Also, prints of the new cover!
  • My short story “FawnGirl14″ has been selected for an anthology I’m not allowed to name yet that will be appearing on Kickstarter soon! It’s about a girl with antlers, and I’ve been a little obsessed with the imagery of girls with antlers for years, so this was kind of a cathartic story for me. Also a lot of fun to read at DetCon1 last weekend.
  • My short story “Voice of the Revolution” will be appearing in an anthology of stories about bards put together by Doc Myers of Dwarven Cookbook fame. Each story will include a recipe tailor-made by Doc, which is really neat and unique. The Kickstarter for this anthology should drop in September, so keep an eye out for more info on that.
  • My short story “Se Fe Lontan/Long Time No See” will be appearing in Lincoln Crisler‘s latest anthology, That Voodoo, Hoodoo, That You Do. The story is about a Vodou priestess who has to fight the demons of her past to fight the demons of the present.  I’m excited about this one because the protagonist is a middle-aged woman of color, a demographic that is super underrepresented in genre fiction. I hope I did her justice.
  • I moved to a big new house in a nice new neighborhood, and finished that on Saturday, so I can finally get back to writing and managing submissions!
  • I passed my last licensure exam, so now I can finally apply for my teaching license! Yaaaaaaaay! This has been a long road, so long there was a time where I thought I’d never get to this point. But I did! Go me!