Last Call for Tumblr-Twist Submissions

fantasy short story call for submissions
Only the Chosen of the gods can stop the invaders

The deadline for our Tumblr-Twist anthology is Dec 15th, aka one week from today!

If you have a story that puts a “twist” on a common fantasy trope, we’d love to see it.

A note for spoonie authors: if you are a couple days behind completing your submission, you can send us your unfinished submission on the 15th with a note about why you couldn’t meet deadline.  If we like what we see we’ll let you know and help you get your manuscript cleaned up and ready for publication.

More info here.

An Autistic Parent’s Reaction to To Siri: Impact > Intent

If you aren’t part of the autistic community online, you probably missed the many discussions over the past week about the autistic mommy memoir “To Siri with Love.” Discussions which spawned the hashtag #BoycottToSiri

Other people have done a great job breaking down the many, many problems with this book. Kaelan Rhywiol’s Storify of her live tweeting while reading the book is the most detailed break down I’ve found, but prepare to be highly disturbed and possibly triggered. Here’s a review of how this book came to explode on autistic twitter. You can check out #BoycottToSiri for more discussion and info.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. Not really. I want to talk not about why the book itself is bad, but about why it’s not “just” a book.

Defenders of the Indefensible

It’s not the book itself that really disturbed me. It’s the number of people defending it. The number of people who read it and gave it 5 stars as a loving account of being an autistic mommy and how they “don’t feel alone anymore.” It’s the realization that this isn’t just one woman being a horrible person, but thousands, perhaps millions, of allistic (ie, not autistic) people who think of autistic people this way.

Now I’m lucky. I can, most of the time, pass as neurotypical. Lately, I have been increasingly unwilling to pass, because it comes at a high cost to me. I am no longer willing to pay that cost for the comfort and convenience of other people. Still, most of the time, if I need to, I can.

But not everyone can. In fact, I have reason to believe that not all my kids will be able to. And this is the world I am sending them out into. A world full of people who question their ability to think. Their ability to have empathy. Their ability to have relationships and jobs. That people will treat them not as people but as inconveniences and robots. At best as pets who maybe likable and sweet but you can’t trust them to take care of themselves and not pee on the carpet.

There are several funny stories of being autistic in public that my family tells. But those stories… they aren’t very funny right now. See, the funny thing about them has always been neurotypical’s reactions to us. And now I’m wondering… who do I know, who do I interact with regularly, thinks this way? Who thinks being autistic makes me and people in my family unfit parents? Who questions if we can think. Who might see me one day, non-verbal and pounding a table in frustration, and instead of giving me space and offering help, calls 911 because I’m obviously “low functioning” and shouldn’t be allowed out on my own? (90% of the time “low functioning” means “can’t pass as neurotypical. The other 10% it means “we don’t want to bother giving the accommodation you’d need to function in society”.)

That’s one of the “funniest” things about the defenders of this book. They insist that those of us critiquing it and criticizing it have no idea what it is like to be “low functioning” based on the words we share online. It never occurs to them that if they met us in person, they’d think we are “low functioning” too.

But it occurs to me. And it scares me.

Impact > Intent

This book isn’t just a memoir sharing one (abusive, narcissistic, disgusting) person’s experience and views. It is actively harmful to autistic people. It tells that we are are not safe among allistics, that we have no place in your world unless we can pretend to be like you. it increases anxiety contributes to depression, and triggers PTSD from past run-ins with autism mommies. And makes the world we live in–not really your world, but OUR world less accessible to us, with every person who reads it and thinks it tells the truth of our existence.

This book, and others like it, are why we say #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs.

#BoycottToSiri

(And if you parent to an autistic kid, here’s something much better for you to read.)

This is a personal piece by Jess Mahler. The rest of Cuil Press firmly supports and endorses the opinions and position shared here.

Jess Mahler is Supporting Autistic Women’s Network

As part of the Paying Forward Program, Jess Mahler has chosen to donate 10% of her royalties from The Bargain to the Autism Women’s Network.

Cuil Press will match her donation with 10% of our net profits from book sales also going to AWN.

Autism Women’s Network

Autism Women’s Network is a non-profit organization offering support and resources to autistic women, autistic people who at anytime identified as women, and non-binary autists.

Learn more about them here.

The Bargain

The Bargain is a fantasy thriller set in an original world. It explores themes of family, sacrifice, identity, and trauma recovery.

What would you sacrifice to save someone you love?

 

On Running a Business While Spoony

Folks who’ve been following us for a while will have noticed that we have periods where we go silent for a while. Our Twitter account is unattended, Facebook is silent, and the blog just stalls out. We haven’t gone quiet on Mastodon yet, but sooner or later it’ll happen.

This is part of the hazard of running a business while spoony. Sometimes we don’t have the spoons for everything that needs doing. And that doesn’t just apply to social media.

We plan for this. We add a buffer zone when we are setting schedules and deadlines. We plan for tasks to take longer than we really expect them to. We prioritize tasks so that stuff we absolutely need to get done, gets done first.

To anyone who is used to “regular” businesses, our way of doing things is confusing and “unprofessional.” But–and it’s a big “but”–at least so far, it’s worked.

We’ve met our deadlines or found ways to work around them as needed. We ran a reasonably successful crowdfunding campaign, we made our deadline on the thunderclap for the crowdfunding campaign, we made deadline on editing and designing The Bargain in time to get it out to reviewers.

And we did it without sacrificing anything in quality of the work we were doing.

Running a business while spoony is hard. But by working with our spooniness, instead of against it, we’ve managed.

So sometimes you won’t see us around for a while. Sometimes we’ve had to prioritize something behind the scenes so the blog and social media will dry up for a while.

But we’re always here. Always doing what we can. Always making sure the books get made and sent out to reviewers and the authors are in the loop and everything that needs to happen so that you get more awesome books.

If you are a spoony author whose worried about working under deadline–we understand, and we’re happy to work with you.

If you are spoony and thinking of starting a business–you can do it! It’s hard, but it’s worth it. Start with learning everything you can about running a business, hit up the SBA, talk to your local chamber of commerce. And find partners you can trust.

Welcome Destiny to Cuil Press!

The Cuil Press team is pleased to welcome Destiny as our newest partner.

Destiny is new to publishing but has experience with social media, video editing, and is also a writer. She’ll be handling much of our social media and online interactions going forward, leaving the rest of us more spoons to dealing with actual book stuff.

We also hope to put her video editing experience to work on video trailers for new releases.

In addition to the work she’ll be doing with Cuil Press, Destiny does her own video production work, including a series of awesome song covers on youtube.

Check out her later cover:

Why We Love Monster Stories

Jess Mahler spent a couple hours combing through werewolf romances on Amazon the other day before coming back and crying on the team’s shoulders about how hard it is to find monster stories that aren’t full of “destined mate” or “alpha male” bullshit.

Paranormal romance and urban fantasy are full of some really nasty tropes, many of which fully deserve a place on our “No! Tropes List.” But we keep coming back to them, combing through the bad ones for the rare gems that we finish with a sigh of utter contentment.

Why do we love monster stories so much? Why do we put ourselves through so much trouble to find monster stories that don’t fall prey to the nasty tropes?

Because WE Are Society’s Monsters

we are society's monstersThe black man in his hoody who just wants to walk down the fucking street in peace, the trans woman who just wants to take a piss, the autistic enby who just wants to be seen as a whole person and not a broken jigsaw puzzle. We are society’s monsters–to be either hunted down or locked away.

So we love our monster stories. Werewolves, vampires, witches, dragons, the nightmares of European civilization. In our books, they have their own secret societies. They hide from hunters or fight back. Or they exist openly in “human” society. They live, and love, and THRIVE. And in them we see ourselves. The unloved, the unwanted, the outcast. The strong, the resilient, the tough ass bitches.

Like the monsters we love, we have built our own societies, our own communities. We have existed in the shadows, either hiding from those who hunt us or fighting for recognition from those who shun us. Sometimes both at the same time.

So bring on the werewolves, the selkies, the fae. We’ll read about vampires, dragons, wizards, and ghosts. Because you know the best thing about urban fantasy and paranormal romance?

In the end, the monsters win.

Tumblr-Twist/Granny Chosen One Deadline Extended

We’ve had several submissions for the anthology already and will probably have enough stories to fill our anthology by Nov 30th. But the Cuil Press team had a lightbulb moment last week.

See, we all completely forgot about NaNoWriMo. It wasn’t until some of Jess’ writing group started talking about their projects that we remembered.

We want to give everyone interested in Granny Chosen One a chance to get their submissions in and we know how much of a time and spoon sink NaNo can be.

So we’re extending the deadline to December 15. If you wanted to get a story in, but didn’t think you would have time, we hope this helps.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

The Bargain, by Jess Mahler Will Be Out January 18th

The Bargain, by Jess Mahler, is a fantasy thriller set in a world where fae, powered by pain-fed magic, rule over the humans they once conquered.

For Mattin, it was a straightforward sacrifice to save his sister. For Countess Jahlene, another political gambit to protect her family. For both of them, it became something they never expected.

The Bargain was previously released as Glamourhai, this is an updated and enhanced edition.

In keeping with Cuil Press’ commitment to releasing inclusive and #ownvoices fiction, The Bargain does not have your typical fantasy cast and Mattin is not the typical fantasy hero. Jess Mahler is a polyamorous, kinky, non-binary, bisexual with PTSD who openly admits to not understanding romance. Her personal struggle to understand relationships and family while embracing who she is shows in Mattin’s struggle to come to terms with the very different approach to love and family he finds with Jahlene. Jess won’t say whether or not Jahlene has PTSD but does say:

“I started this story wanting to explore what it means to be family, and I did. But without realizing it, I also explored how trauma shapes us and how we heal from it. Jahlene’s trauma is the most obvious, but most of the characters in The Bargain are struggling with trauma in some way. How healthy their responses are… you’ll need to decide for yourself.”

 

Have You Ever Heard of a Fantasy Thriller?

We have a confession to make. Not to long ago we shared this meme on Facebook:
aromantic romance
The truth is:
fantasy thriller

The Bargain, by Jess Mahler, will be our first novel and is scheduled for release January 18th.

Jess very much had a love story in mind when writing The Bargain (actually, several love stories). But none of them are a “typical” love story.

When we call a book a “romance” these days we don’t just mean a book with a love story. Most books have love stories in them somewhere. It’s an unusual book (or series) that doesn’t have at least two characters (more often four or six or eight) pairing up somewhere along the line. Romance, in book talk, means a genre. With expected tropes, patterns, and plot points.

The Bargain has none of these. Well, except the Happily Ever After. But again, most books have that these days. Unless they are part of an ongoing series (and sometimes even then) most books these days end with the metaphorical equivalent of the characters riding off into the sun set, Happily Ever After.

So it’s not a romance.

It’s a

via GIPHY

Fantasy Thriller

Wait- what?

We hear about genre mash-ups all the time, but fantasy-thriller isn’t one you hear too often.

Like any genre mash-up, a fantasy thriller has elements common to both fantasy novels, and thriller novels. Of course, in spite of our fun with gifs Michael wasn’t really singing about thrillers. He was singing about horror movies. The defining feature of a thriller–and the one that makes thriller fantasy an amazing mash-up inspite of their rarity–is a quest.

In a thriller the main character has a quest. And that quest has a time limit. If the MC doesn’t discover the cure, stop the assassin, uncover the conspiracy, before time runs out, it’s all over.

Quests are, of course, a long and well loved tradition in fantasy. A tradition that was codified by Tolkien, but existed long before a rag-tag group of adventures set out for Mount Doom on a hopeless quest. However fantasy quests are usually epic in nature. Thrillers tend to be more personal. While the fate of the world may hang in the balance, it’s the fate of the characters that has us holding our breathe as the last air-tight seal breaks in Andromeda Strain.

The Bargain is a fantasy thriller with an aromantic subplot. We’re doubt you’ve seen anything like it before.
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