Science Fiction

Betsy James Master Class and Homework

I’m taking a master class on speculative fiction for eight weeks with Betsy James via SouthWest Writers. I am having such a great time and have produced two short stories in just four weeks of class. I just wanted to tell everyone that if you get a chance to take one of her courses do so.

I was going to post a sample but it looks like I may have sold it! Woohoo!

Rejection Letters, Sexism and Women's Exodus from Science Fiction

I recently received an interesting rejection letter. It was nearly longer than my submission but that was not the most unusual thing about it. The short story I sent in was from the perspective of a 13-year old girl. The rejection letter waxed on about how tight the writing was, how it kept the editor’s interest, etc. BUT... and there is always one of those in a rejection letter, he couldn’t buy it because the story was about a 13-year old girl and he felt his readers would not identify with her. Could I make her a 17-year old boy?

After I stopped laughing hysterically, I responded, “No.” That was it. I decided I didn’t want to burn this editorial bridge. The rejection letter was really, one long pitiful rationalization for sexism. Obviously, the editor realized he was succumbing to a sexist view or he wouldn’t have blathered on for nearly three printed pages in his email. At least he understood that he was wrong.

I don’t know whether Mr. Sexist Pig Dog was looking for my forgiveness or absolution or just wanting to make himself feel better. But by droning on about how great my piece was and not buying it for such a terrible reason made me mad. If he had just said, “You suck” or employed the cowardly “this does not meet our needs at this time,” I wouldn’t feel as disheartened. But to attempt to defend a sexist decision with three pages of weak-minded, self-serving whining? You’re having a tough time keeping up your numbers? Really? I just checked my calendar to be sure. It does state 2011.

If I really wanted to get even, I would send a copy of his email to his wife. Then, I’d send copies to his daughters and daughters-in-law. It’s only fair that they know that he is part of the problem and not the solution.