Recently we identified areas for growth and have been developing plans to address concerns and improve diversity and inclusivity at BizarroCon, Eraserhead Press and our online communities. In the spirit of accountability and transparency, I will be posting updates with our progress.
Over the past month, I have reorganized internal business at Eraserhead Press related to the staff and catalog changes I announced on Jan 28th. I have been meeting with people in the community privately and in small groups to discuss strategic plans related to the future and I have taken steps to encourage the formation of a new Bizarro Writers Association. I attended a training seminar for employers on Addressing Harassment in the Workplace and learned about further improvements that can be made to enhance our policies and gathered the resources necessary to help us implement them. And I have continued seeking counsel from my mentors, other community leaders, and legal advisors. It has been a productive time, but there is still much work to be done.
The next step is the creation of the BizarroCon Safety & Inclusion Committee. The role of the committee will be:
- To determine and uphold best practices for safety, diversity & inclusivity for BizarroCon.
- To provide tools and initiatives that support diversity and inclusion with the aim that all feel safe, empowered, respected and valued in our growing community.
- To maintain our Anti-harassment Policy and make any necessary revisions on an ongoing basis as needed.
- To create and enforce a clear and specific protocol for addressing any complaints associated with the security of our guests and the Anti-Harassment Policy.
- To make recommendations regarding programming with respect to diversity and inclusion
- To set guidelines for determining when someone is not welcome at our event and requesting that they do not attend.
- To provide security during the event
I am seeking a group of volunteers (3-5 people) to participate in this committee. People whose education, perspectives, and experience enable them to provide vision, leadership and counsel on matters of diversity and inclusion and create a welcoming and respectful environment that promotes a culture of openness. I would like the committee to enroll in training and hold their first meeting this month. Please contact me at email@example.com with the subject line: “Safety & Inclusion Committee” if you are interested in participating.
Dear BizarroCon attendees and the entire bizarro fiction community,
This post is a follow-up to my facebook post of 1/24/19 addressing your recent feedback regarding BizarroCon 11 and elsewhere. I want to thank everyone for sharing their thoughts and experiences both publicly and privately. I am dedicated to making BizarroCon, Eraserhead Press, and our online communities safe and comfortable for all. To that end, I’m announcing the following changes, in response to your concerns:
- Effective immediately, I will step down as coordinator of the current Bizarro Writers Association, and encourage the formation of a new BWA to be run by writers.
- Effective immediately, Jeff Burk has stepped down as Head Editor of Deadite Press and is no longer employed by Eraserhead Press.
- Effective immediately, Chandler Morrison’s DEAD INSIDE has been removed from Deadite Press’s 2019 publication schedule, and the book contract has been canceled with all rights reverting to the author.
- Effective February 28, 2019, G Arthur Brown’s KITTEN and GOD’S MEAN OLDER BROTHER will no longer be published by Eraserhead Press. The titles will be removed from distribution and all rights will revert to the author.
Going forward, I will also institute the following changes.
- The creation of a BizarroCon Safety & Inclusion Committee.
- Myself, the committee members, and the staff of Eraserhead Press will enroll in diversity, inclusion, equity, and crisis management training.
- Revisions to the format of the Ultimate Bizarro Showdown.
- The creation of new positions on the BizarroCon Planning Committee, and clarification for the roles and responsibilities of each position including the Book Nook Coordinator, Guest Liaison, Fundraising Director, Workshop Coordinator, Program Booklet Editor, Clean-up Crew, and other volunteer positions.
- Creation of a Social Media Policy for Eraserhead Press which will outline best practices and standards for online conduct of our editors and authors.
On a personal note, I need to deeply apologize for things that have gone on in our community.
First, to the people who witnessed or heard about The Ultimate Bizarro Showdown performance at BizarroCon 11 and were hurt by it, and in particular to those of you who experienced PTSD responses, I’m so sorry. This should have never happened. The Showdown event is intended to be a fun, interactive, entertaining time and I deeply regret that didn’t happen this year.
To Lisa, Jennifer, Liv, Sauda, and Sam, thank you for your direct and insightful commentary about the performance. You helped me understand the seriousness of this offense. Autumn, thank you for your insights and useful feedback, as well. I’m so sorry to you all. I hope the changes we are making will make things better for all of us.
To Tiffany, I want to clarify I had no intention of maintaining a working relationship with the person who harassed you. I barred him from the convention and have had no contact with him. The reason I advised we not burn bridges with him was because I was trying to avoid creating a hostile competitor. I appreciate you calling me out over this. It revealed to me the conflict of interest in being a book publisher and also being in charge of determining appropriate action related to harassment. That responsibility will now reside with the Safety and Inclusion Committee. Also, I want to thank you for speaking out and being the person who urged us to create and implement the Anti-Harassment Policy at our events. Thank you for standing up against the misogyny and predatory behavior happening within our community. Your strength inspires me to be a better advocate for women. I have the utmost respect for you and I believe in what you are doing both as a writer and as an editor. You are one of my favorite people and I am sorry I hurt you.
To Constance, I wish I would have acted more swiftly and decisively when the time came to defend you. You and Rios helped me understand more things about how predatory behavior works online and what expectations there are for a person in my position. I am sorry for what you went through. Based on my conversations with the two of you, my tolerance for bad behavior from aggressors is diminished and my radar for creepers is more finely tuned.
To anyone (especially Raye, Nikki, and Jaime) who has complaints about the online conduct of any of the authors I publish, I sincerely apologize. I didn’t hold authors accountable for what they said on social media. I thought my only role was to hold authors accountable for the words I printed in their books. But I have reconsidered my position on this. As a publisher, I provide a platform to the voices I think deserve to be heard. I understand now social media is a part of that voice. It is ethically responsible to consider the behavior online and offline of the authors with whom I choose to share my platform. And my expectations for respectful and responsible behavior online will be addressed through the Social Media Policy I am creating for Eraserhead Press.
To Gina, thank you for being there from the start. You were the first female author of bizarro fiction. Remember the early days when it was just us and one or two other women amongst all the men? You have always been an advocate for more diversity in the scene and have inspired so many of the writers who have emerged since the early 2000s. We still have work to do but I want to thank you for everything you have done to help us continue to improve.
To Laura, Mary, Querus, Lori, Erin, Sophia, Shailah, Jaclyn, Christine, Emma, Kelli, Liznel, Maria, Katy, Courtney, Reba, Liz, Molly, Amber, Tamara, Violet, Kirsten, Mona, Larissa, Heather, Leza, Christina, Cecily, Helen, Hope, Melanie (all 3 of you), Erika, Zoe, Devora, Spike, Sonya, Melinda, Carrie, Andy, Kara, Amanda, Rebecca, Shana, Whitney, Sarah, Jessica, Jes, Deb, Teresa, Eliza, Alicia, Madeleine, Betty, Farah, Michelle, Melissa, Melinda, Misty, Amy, Monica, Anya, Lena, Tracy, Becca, Michele, Chrissy, Rachel, Gwen and all the other women who have come to BizarroCon or have been a part of the bizarro fiction community over the years. Thank you for showing up. The only way we will change this is for more women to get involved.
To any non-female identifying people who have felt harassed. I see you and I hear you. This issue is not limited to women. We are all in this together.
To allies, thank you. Thank you for your support and for calling out bad behavior. And I apologize to anyone who felt their voice was shut down. Thank you for loving bizarro fiction enough to speak out and help us become better.
I vow to do better. We have an exciting future ahead of us. I hope that in the middle of this we can all remember what we are fighting for. Our passion and creativity will sustain us but for our success to continue to grow, we have to keep growing as well.
I welcome the continued community feedback. If you have individual concerns, please share them with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. This will ensure I see them promptly and respond in kind.
Publisher, Eraserhead Press
Meet other writers, editors, and readers of bizarro fiction. Make new friends. Pitch ideas to editors. Since the convention is small (80-120 people) you’ll have a good chance to get to know pretty much everyone.
(BizarroCon 2016 Group Photo)
There will be many readings by bizarro authors at BizarroCon. If you like readings there will be plenty of them. If you don’t like readings, there are tons of other things to do around Edgefield. If you would like to give a reading, you will have the opportunity to sign up for your chance after you register. We’ll try to schedule you a slot, but no promises.
(Rose OKeefe, Cameron Pierce, Carlton Mellick III, Jeff Burk)
Workshops! Panels! Discussions!
All day Friday, there will be bizarro writing workshops and discussions on marketing and other important topics related to the business of bizarro writing. There will also be the meeting of the Bizarro Writer’s Association where we discuss the future of bizarro fiction. Come to BizarroCon and you will improve your skills as a bizarro writer and assist in the development of this burgeoning fiction movement.
Really, BizarroCon is just one giant 4-day party. There’s nothing more fun than drinking with a group of people who share the same passion as you do. This is where the weird impromptu events occur, such as pinky-wrestling tournaments, Prince Lemon dance-offs, and Kevin L. Donihe levitations.
The Bizarroest Hotel in the Northwest!
BizarroCon is at Edgefield Manor, one of the most interesting hotels in the country. It is a historical building that has been restored by McMenamins brewing company. The European style hotel has been described as a “Down the Rabbit Hole Experience,” which is a perfect place for BizarroCon and The Wonderland Book Awards. On the property, there is a brewery, winery, and distillery; there are 3 restaurants, 8 bars (including a whiskey and cigar bar), a pool hall, a movie theater, a 3-par golf course, a teahouse, a soaking pool, and a lot of surreal artwork covering the walls. At the center of BizarroCon is the Ad House, a private 6 bedroom house on the property that will act as BizarroCon headquarters. For more information, check out their website. Make reservations early, because rooms sell out fast. We have a block of rooms reserved, so tell them you’re with “BizarroCon.” If rooms are sold out before you get a chance to reserve one, try searching for other hotels in the area. There are many hotels within a mile away from Edgefield.
The Wonderland Book Awards!
Saturday night in the banquet hall will be the annual Wonderland Book Awards, honoring authors who have excelled in bizarro fiction. Eat a nice dinner as the winners of best bizarro novel and best bizarro story collection of 2017 are announced. Everyone attending BizarroCon will be allowed to vote for the winners of the Wonderland Book Awards. To vote, you must be registered for BizarroCon (this includes those registered for the Saturday-only pass). Voting begins July 1st and ends September 30th. Email your votes for best novel and best collection to firstname.lastname@example.org. Nominees in each category will be posted here soon. Last year’s winners were “I Will Rot Without You” by Danger Slater in the novel category and “Berzerkoids” by MP Johnson in the collection category.
The Ultimate Bizarro Showdown!
This is the biggest event at bizarrocon! After the Wonderland Book Awards Dinner, the banquet hall is transformed into Bizarro Thunderdome! 20 authors enter, only one leaves victorious. Each author gets 2 minutes to tell the weirdest story they can come up with to a drunk and impatient crowd. After 2 minutes, if the story entertains the audience enough they are allowed to continue. If their story fails they are fucking decapitated! The distinguished bizarro judges will choose the top three readers. Winners will receive fabulous prizes and bragging rights for a year. Hosted by Michael Allen Rose, the ultimate bizarro showdown is a showdown of ultimate awesomeness! If you’d like to sign up for this competition or have questions about the event, contact Michael at email@example.com. There are only a limited number of spots available, so sign up now.
(Andrew Goldfarb, Carlton Mellick III, Jeff Burk, Kevin L Donihe, Garrett Cook, Bradley Sands, Cameron Pierce, Kirsten Alene)
Cost of admission will give you three free meals: The Saturday morning breakfast buffet, the Sunday bizarro brunch, and the Saturday Night Wonderland Book Awards Banquet. The food is excellent. The company is even better! In addition to these bizarro eating events, the Edgefield Hotel contains a variety of restaurants from pizza to pub burgers to fine Northwest cuisine.
BizarroCon will have the largest collection of bizarro books available for purchase. Never before have so many bizarro books been available in one place. Many of the titles will be on sale at the special convention price: 3 for $20.
Rose O’Keefe of Eraserhead Press is not only a bizarro publisher, she is also a micro-brewer of Bizarro Beer. Every BizarroCon, with the help authors Jason Rizos and Cameron Pierce, she brews up new batches of bizarro beer and names them after new bizarro book releases. Come to the book release party Friday night for a bunch of delicious freshly brewed bizarro beer as well as readings from the newest bizarro books.
(Chris Genoa, Cameron Pierce, Kevin L Donihe, John Skipp)
Basic summary of what to expect of the BizarroCon schedule:
THURSDAY: Thursday is mostly just about everyone arriving into town throughout the day. For those who are waiting around for everyone to show up, it is a chance to get to know the new people and a chance to explore the many bars at Edgefield. This is one of the most fun days of BizarroCon so we recommend showing up early in the day if possible. We might have a bizarro golf tournament, live music by bizarro authors, or the ritual cigar and whiskey session to break in the weekend. The night eventually ends in a party that goes on for much longer than it should.
FRIDAY: Friday is filled with writing workshops and round table discussions. This is the day we get down to business. We help each other improve our craft of writing bizarro fiction, we brainstorm new book marketing techniques, and we plan the future of the bizarro genre. All the important stuff. At night, there is the Eraserhead Press party, featuring homebrewed Bizarro Beer.
SATURDAY: This is the big day. There will be a breakfast in the morning and then there will be a series of readings and panels until 5pm. Bizarro books and beer will be available all day. Saturday night will be the Wonderland Book Awards Banquet, followed by the Ultimate Bizarro Showdown, then a party afterwards.
SUNDAY: Another breakfast. Readings and panels continue. There might be a dead dog party of some kind that night. This year there will be more reading and events on Sunday, so make sure to stay for the whole weekend!
If you have any questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org