The Last Schmuck to Get Shafted by Georgia Family Magazine? by Christine Basham

It’s usually fun to see my name in print or online. Not this time, though. Thousands of readers know me as the schmuck who got shafted by Georgia Family Magazine. If you missed it, you can read a summary at:

This spring, I sold a reprint of an article on “deciding whether your child is ready to be a latchkey kid”. For that second, smaller paycheck, I sent my article to Olya Fessard, publisher of Georgia Family Magazine.

I was pretty happy. I hadn’t been through Georgia in twenty years, since a drive to Disney World as a teenager. But my words would reach Georgian families, and maybe help a few people. And, of course, with the $20 Ms. Fessard promised, I could treat my kids to lunch.

A few days later, I noticed Georgia Family on WritersWeekly’s Whispers & Warnings. A photographer had sent some materials to Ms. Fessard, been ignored and insulted, and had only received payment for his photos after Angela Hoy at WritersWeekly got involved.

I felt conflicted. The quotes from Ms. Fessard were ridiculously over-the-top: she couldn’t pay, she wouldn’t pay, her brother was in the hospital, she was BUSY, and “nanny-nanny-boo-boo to you” type stuff. It just didn’t sound like the editor who had quietly and easily accepted my story for use in her magazine.

I was nervous, but I had agreed to sell my article. It had been accepted. And, I assumed, a reprint was a pretty straightforward thing. It was harder, I reasoned, for an editor to find places for a big stack of photos over several issues of a magazine. I pushed my anxieties out of my mind, and got back to writing and selling my work.

You know the rest. Olya Fessard decided to alternately ignore, insult, weasel and lie. Eventually, though, I tired of her games, and tired of brushing the cobwebs away from my empty mailbox. I called in the big guns:

As my husband often says, “Don’t tick off a writer. They’ll write about it.” I drafted an email to WritersWeekly, outlining the whole situation. But in the spirit of generous naivete’ that makes me give people the benefit of the doubt, I sent the email to Ms. Fessard, with the additional note that WritersWeekly would hear from me, if she did not respond.

That’s when things got fun. Olya Fessard threatened to sue me for slander if I told WritersWeekly what she’d done. She also said she didn’t want any of WritersWeekly’s readership to submit to her. Apparently, we are an unprofessional and demanding group.

The way I see it, stop sending work to Georgia Family, and everybody’s happy. Olya, of course, because she doesn’t want to work with any of us. You, naturally, because we all know it’s more fun to write for actual money than just for the fleeting promise of pay.

After seeing my emails to and from Olya Fessard, Ms. Hoy contacted Georgia Family. She got the same sort of raging, slightly off-kilter response I have grown to love. After all, if I’m not going to get paid, at least I can enjoy Ms. Fessard’s occasional ravings as a sort of online performance art.

Of course, I still want my $20. But if that never comes, at least I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that because of WritersWeekly’s Whispers and Warnings, I might just be the last schmuck to get shafted by Georgia Family Magazine.

Christine Basham writes for business, parenting, and lifestyle magazines, the occasional short-story anthology, and anyone else who actually pays her.