The Bargain by Jess Mahler is now available!

We are happy to announce that The Bargain by Jess Mahler is now available!

The Bargain

the bargain cover

It was supposed to be a straightforward sacrifice. After their mother was killed by Lord Oeloff, Mattin swore to do anything to protect his sister. When the fae lord came for her, Mattin traded his life and freedom to Oeloff’s enemy for the promise of his sister’s safety. He thought he was prepared for anything. Anything except what he actually found…

It was supposed to be a political gambit. Struggling against Oeloff’s latest ploy, Jahlene found an unforeseen opening in the arrival of the bitter Mattin. Bringing the stranger into her household was a risk. Trusting him was a bigger one. To protect her family, Jahlene bargained with him. She never guessed how it would end…

Sometimes, what starts as a bargain, becomes something more.

The Bargain is a #fantasy thriller exploring themes of family, betrayal, trauma, and sacrifice. It is an “own voices” book for polyamory, kink, and PTSD.



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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.

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?


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:

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


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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5 Black Speculative Fiction Authors You Should Totally Check Out

It’s black speculative fiction month and we’re celebrating today by sharing some of our favorite black speculative fiction authors. If you are looking for something to read this month, here’s a good place to start.

Our 5 Favorite Black Speculative Fiction Authors

Samuel Delaney

Delany was first published during the so-called New Wave of sci-fi during the 60s and 70s and is still writing today. His most recent short story, The Hermit of Houston, was just released in September. Delany explored and challenged issues of race, class, and sexuality through his fiction and was awarded the Stonewall Book award for his novel Dark Reflections.

Milton Davis

One of the creators of the Sword and Soul sub-genre of fantasy, Davis has also written steamfunk and is, with Balogun Ojetade, the co-author of the Sword and Soul table top role playing game Ki-Khanga. His series Changa’s Safari is well worth reading by anyone who enjoys sword and sorcery-style fiction OR speculative fiction set in realistic versions of a past Africa.

Jess Mahler says that Davis narrowly edged out Ojetade for inclusion on this list because “I just got so caught up in Meji. It sucks you right in, these two brothers who are so similar and so different, who need to find their way in a world where what they most love and desire has rejected them.”

Nalo Hopkinson

Hopkinson published her first novel, the dystopic Brown Girl in the Ring, in 1998. She’s released several novels since, including Sister Mine, which won the Andre Norton award.  Caribbean history and language often feature in her work.

Michelle hasn’t yet had a chance to read one of Hopkinson’s books but has already been deeply touched by Hopkinson’s writing. “I came across an excerpt from one of Nalo Hopkinson’s books (couldn’t tell you which) a while back, and just really, really liked it. I had no idea who this author was at the time—I was in a weird place for a few years and not reading much. As I clawed my way out of my pit of despair and traumatic life circumstances, Hopkinson’s writing kept floating back to the surface of my mind, though I couldn’t remember her name. Then one day my brain remembered how much I love sci-fi, and BAM I found ‘Nalo Hopkinson’ on a bunch of “must read” lists by people and publications I respect. It was such a joyful rediscovery… I can’t wait to read her books.

Valjeanne Jeffers

Jeffers Immortal’s series rolls together fantasy, cyber-punk, and a splash of horror to create a unique mix of classic fantasy and sci-fi elements. She’s written two other series and numerous short stories, including Awakening in Davis and Charles Saunders’ anthology Griots, which is how Jess Mahler discovered her.

“Awakening grabbed me from the beginning. I’m a sucker for stories about girls told they can’t who not only prove they can but out do everyone around them. I’ve read a couple of her short stories since then and loved every one. I haven’t read her novels yet, but erotic fantasy that breaks expectations is right up my alley so they’re high on my to-read list.”

Michon Neal

Honestly if Michon Neal, our Lilith, the rebel who inspired Cuil Press, wasn’t on this list we’d probably have a problem. Michon’s books explore the cuilverse, an interconnected metaverse. With stories just as queer and cuil as Michon hirself, the cuilverse is well worth the read. Jess recommends starting with The Allison Dutch series.

Michelle says “Michon blew my brain open again, I love the cuilverseI stopped being able to read because I felt gaslight by most fiction, I think. And then I discovered Michon posting about how things are done differently in the cuilverse and I was like WHAT OMG THANK YOU AHHHHH and have been slowly been pulling my brain into “fiction is fun” mode again

Honorable Mention

While they don’t make our faves list, there are two black speculative fiction authors we’d be remiss in not mentioning.

W.E.B. du Bois

Yes, THAT W.E.B. du Bois was writing speculative fiction and afrofuturistic fiction long before it was cool. A few years ago some researchers unearthed The Princess Steel, possibly du Bois’ earliest speculative fiction work. The Comet, another spec fic work by the great thinker, was originally published in du Bois’ book Darkwater (available on Project Gutenberg) and was republished in 2000 in the black science fiction anthology Dark Matter.

Octavia Butler

No list of black spec fic authors is complete without mention of Butler. Butler’s best known work is probably Kindred, which tells the story of a black woman in the 1970s repeatedly ripped back in time to the South during the height of slavery. Jess Mahler has described Kindred as “a book every white American should read and a book every black American should be wary of being traumatized by.”

Sadly less well known are Butler’s prophetic Parable duology and Xenogenesis series. The Parable books are about a black woman struggling to survive in an America that was broken after a populist president who promised to “make America great again” came to power. Seriously, not making that up, written a couple decades ago.

Hey folks. Help us make a place for more great black spec fic authors by supporting our crowdfunding campaign.