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Sacred, My Ass

Well, it looks as if Sacred History has become the third market ever to stiff me. (The other two, as you've probably heard me complain before, were the online "magazine" The Spook and The Very Last Book of the Dead on the Edge of Forever.) Back in December I wrote an article for them about the confluence of Catholicism, Voodoo, and African Spiritual churches in New Orleans, as well as a sidebar about Marie Laveau. The pieces were accepted and, as recently as a few weeks ago, were scheduled to appear in issue #3 of the magazine. Then, on March 3, I received notice that the articles would not appear in issue #3. Sacred History wanted to retain rights to the pieces for six months, but did not intend to pay me because they were "out of money."

I've seen this happen a great many times: a magazine gets a lot of startup money, gets ambitious, does well with its first couple of issues, then crashes and burns. As far as I can gather, that's what happened to The Spook, or Metropole, or whatever the World's Most Annoying Editor was calling the fool thing when it went under. As a writer, none of this is my problem. The magazine owes me $3000, money I need to pay my rent, feed my family, start repaying the independent adjustor who has been helping us with our insurance settlements. I'm never pleased to be screwed over, but I find it unpleasant on several additional levels to be screwed by a market that bills itself as a religious magazine and actually has the word "sacred" in its name. I don't know why I should find this surprising given the actions I've seen taken by the Archdiocese of New Orleans over the past several weeks, but as you know, I am a naive sort sometimes. Re: the title of this entry, Dorothy Parker used to say "my eye" in such situations, but she lived in more genteel times.

Anyway. Today was their deadline to pay me, and they didn't. I'll be filing a grievance with the Authors Guild, posting warnings on WritersMarket.com and Preditors & Editors (even though that deliberate misspelling of "predators" still grates on me), and fighting for the money they owe me however else I can. I'm not sure I will prevail, because I foolishly, foolishly, foolishly turned in the pieces without having a contract in hand. I will never do this again, and if you are a writer, let this be a lesson to you that you shouldn't either. However, I believe the e-mails exchanged between me and the senior editor stating that my piece had been received, was accepted, would be in issue #3, etc. constitute a good-faith agreement, and I have a signed document from the editor (who is not at fault here) stating that she agrees. We shall see.

This is only one of the many ways writers are forced to waste our time when we should be writing.

The Battered Katrina Refugee "Voodoo" Doll auction ends this afternoon. Please give her a good home. I feel weirdly and strongly about this doll, as if I don't really want to let her go, and I'd like to think that whoever gets her will treat her well.

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August 2015


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