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.

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!

Granny Chosen One and Other Twisted Fantasies

If you missed it, Cuil Press announced open submissions for a short story anthology inspired by Tumblr’s awesome wackiness.

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

We’re looking for stories about grandparents being “the Chosen One,” about the tiniest dragon ever to defend a hoard, about vampires who teach history and rant about mis-information in text books, and newly made vampires who breathe a sign of relief when they realize they never need to see themself in a mirror again. Or something completely original that would never occur to us!

For full details on the call for submissions, and more examples of the kind of story we want for it, go here.

Submissions close Nov 30, 2017.


(And hey, if you like what Cuil Press is doing, don’t forget to give your support!)

Our Speculative Fiction MSWL

speculative fiction MSWLWhile we focus on science fiction and fantasy, Cuil Press is open to all forms of speculative fiction. Horror isn’t our usual thing, but we’re open to horror submissions that meet our other criteria, and cross genre horror that overlaps with romance or other forms of spec fic.

As always, ditch the “No!” tropes, but also look for other ways to shake up the expectations. There’s enough fantasy with evil Drow and greedy dwarves. Enough sci-fi societies that are creative re-creations of England during the Age of Sail.

If you want to do “Age of Sail in spaceships” we’d love to see a retelling of the voyages of Admiral Cheng. Or Ching Shih in space ships.

Sword & Soul and Steamfunk always welcome as are similar genres from Asia and the Americas.

And again, cross genre is awesome. Ching Shih in steam-driven space ships can totally be a thing.

Camp NaNoWriMo Campfire Story Week 4

nanowrimo campfire

It’s the last week of Camp NaNoWriMo, and our last campfire story for 2017. Starting next week our Monday posts will be focusing on issues important to communities and identities that are underrepresented in genre fiction.

nanowrimo campfireOkay, campers, gather round. It’s the home stretch and we’re all getting a bit stressed as the deadline approaches yes? Well, except for those lucky schmucks who already finished. They can sit back and celebrate and good for them.

But for the rest of us, this week is the final count done, when anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Right?

One camper learned that lesson the hard way two years ago. She wasn’t particularly computer-savvy, so when her computer crashed in the last week of nano and she could even get it to start up, she was frantic.

Not only was she going to need to get a new computer, but her whole story, hours of work, was gone!
Heartbroken, she called a good friend who had helped her with computers in the past. “Is there anyway to fix this?”

Her friend didn’t respond right away. Finally, ze said, “Sorry, my executive dysfunction is bad today. I’m not grokking Can you explain how your computer crashing wiped your Dropbox backup?”

“Well, I don’t know if it’s wiped. But the files on my computer, so with my computer down, I can’t access it.”

There was another long silence. “…that’s not how Dropbox works. Come over this evening, after I’ve had a chance to wake up. I’m sure your story’s fine.”

The camper fretted all day and that evening packed up her computer and went to visit her friend.

Her friend set the computer to the side and called opened up hir tablet. “Look, here’s Dropbox. Do you remember your password?”

She plugged in her login information, and there it was—her Dropbox on her friend’s tablet. Her story was saved.

“See?” her friend said, “I told you when we set up Dropbox that as long as you saved your backups here everything would be fine.”

It took a couple of days for her computer to be repaired, and that set her back enough she wasn’t able to meet her NaNo goal on time. But she still had her story, and in the end, that’s what mattered.

So remember folks—it’s not enough to save your work. You need to back it up too. And if you aren’t up on all this computer stuff, it’s always okay to ask for help.

The “No!” Tropes List

At Cuil Press, we have what we call the “No!” tropes list. This is a list of popular tropes in fiction that we absolutely do not want to see. A manuscript with a “No!” trope is a manuscript we will not be publishing.

tropes listThe “No!” tropes list is continuing to grow as we, sadly, find more and more tropes and clichés in media that we never want to see in our books. While we can’t give you the complete list (again, it’s always growing) you can find a partial list here.

For today, we want to give authors and readers some idea of what is on the list and the kind of things we want to avoid. With that in mind, here are three of the top items on our “No!” tropes list:

The White Savior and Mighty Whitey:

From TV Tropes:

This trope [the White Savior] is about a plot where an ordinary, ethnically-European (white) person meets an underprivileged non-ethnic-Euro character. Taking pity on the other character’s plight, they selflessly volunteer themselves as the other’s tutor, mentor, or caretaker to make things better.


Mighty Whitey is usually a displaced white European, of noble descent, who ends up living with native tribespeople and not only learns their ways but also becomes their greatest warrior/leader/representative.

In both of these tropes, the protagonist is the white (usually man) who is saving the PoC side-characters.

Deconstructions of these tropes will be considered if done well.

Rape as Romance

Rape fantasies are a thing, and we respect that. But rape culture is also a thing. And conflating rape with romance is just way too common in the romance genre. If you want to pitch us rape fantasy erotica, we’ll take a look. If your romance has rape or sexual assault as part of the romance plot, even the “romantic” kind, you know—

“No.. We can’t…” but his hands felt so good and she couldn’t bring herself to push him away. She felt herself melting under his impossibly skilled mouth. Finally, she couldn’t hold back any longer. She twined her hands in his hair and returned his kiss.

Look, the moment she said “no” and he didn’t stop? This became sexual assault. And if this is in the romance arc of your manuscript, it will end up in the permanent circular file.

Are you sick of these tropes too? Lend us your voice to help promote our crowdfunding campaign and create original and inclusive fiction.

Camp NaNoWriMo Campfire Story Week 3: Do You Rely on the Writing Muse?

writing muse

We’re back for week 3 of Camp NaNoWriMo with another campfire story to keep you on your toes!

Do You Rely on the Writing Muse?

writing museJust about every English-speaking author has heard of the Writing Muse. The spirit of inspiration that fills the mind with words and ideas, makes the story flow, and is the bane of writer’s block.

Most authors eventually learn to write whether or not the Muse is with them. But a few have always relied on the Muse, either because it has always been with them or they have never tried to write without it.

And every NaNoWriMo some of these writers come to grief when the Muse abandons them.

A few years ago, a young and eager writer signed up for CampNaNoWrimo. He had written many short stories and wanted to try writing a novel. Knowing he could sometimes write several thousand words an hour, he didn’t expect to have any problems meeting the deadline.

He had a good story idea, something that had been sitting in his mason jar for a while because it was too complex for a short story. He did a bit of plotting, pre-NaNo. Nothing too involved, but enough to know who his characters were and the general direction the story would take. And when the 1st rolled around he started writing.

The Muse, as always, was with him. Words flowed, scenes rolled. By the end of the first week, he was halfway to his final word count.

When the Muse left in the middle of the second week, he wasn’t concerned. He was well ahead of schedule and the Muse had left before. It would come back. He was sure of it.

By the middle of the third week, he was getting worried. The Muse hadn’t returned, even for a short time. And now he was falling behind schedule. But, he reassured himself, when the Muse was with him, the words flowed. He’d make up the work. There was plenty of time.

The last day of the third week he sat down at his computer and stared at the draft. Willing the Muse to return and bring the words back. He tried, for the first time to write without the Muse. It was slow and painful, pulling one word or phrase out at a time and erasing as much as he wrote because it was never right. But he made some progress.

The fourth week he was desperate. He sat down each day and tried to write. Where in the past he had turned out several thousand words an hour, now he was lucky to make several hundred. At this rate, he would never finish before the 31st.

Maybe, if he had forced himself to write without the Muse from the moment it left… Maybe, if he had relied on himself for his story instead of the flighty Muse… Maybe then he would have had a chance to make the deadline.

As it was, he could only count the days and hope that the Muse would return…

If you want inclusive fiction, please sign up to help promote our crowdfunding campaign.

#CampNaNoWriMo Campfire Story Week 2

This week Jess Mahler brings us another campfire story to enjoy after a hard day of CampNaNoWriMo.

Hey Campers, gather round! We’re all a bit worn out by now, I bet. If you’re on or ahead of schedule, you’ve entered the Maundering Middle of your story. If you are behind schedule you are busting ass to catch up. This is the hard part of NaNo, when the initial excitement is worn down but the end is just so far away.

Well, take a break for a few minutes. I’ve got a story for you.

Once upon a time, there was an “aspiring author” who thought ze would never finish a novel. Time after time ze would start a new story, power through the early pages, think ze were finally going to do it… and then ze’d get sick and miss a day of writing. Or work would call hir in for an extra shift. And one day became two, two became a week, and before ze knew it, it had been a month since ze had written anything at all!

This was hella depressing and ze nearly gave up on writing entirely. But one summer, when Camp NaNoWriMo rolled around ze decided to give it one last try.

Ze got off to a good start, pantsing hir ass off and pulling together plot and character. Ze even managed to (mostly) keep hir inner editor and critic gagged so ze could focus on getting words on paper.

But the second week, everything went to hell. Hir mother ended up in the hospital for three days and needed care after that. Everything else–including writing–took a back seat.

Thankfully, hir mom recovered quickly and by the third week, ze was able to focus on writing again. But by then ze was over 10,000 words behind.

It was tempting to give up. How could ze make up over 10,000 words with only two weeks left in the month? But ze had promised hirself ze would try. Ze got up early in the morning and wrote. Ze made Twitter friends doing writing sprints and too hir surprise, ze began to catch up.

By the last day of the month, ze was only 500 words behind. Which, of course, is when ze got sick.

So ze didn’t (quite) make hir Camp NaNoWriMo goal. But 48,000 words in one month is still damn impressive. Ze had proven to hirself that ze could do it. Ze wasn’t an “apiring” anything, ze was a writer. And ze had a book to finish.

Which is what NaNoing is all about.

Cuil Press will be starting a crowdfunding campaign next month. To help us get off to a strong start, sign up to take part in our Thunderclap–a shout-out across social media.

Breaking Tropes: Looking for a Different Kind of Werewolf

Cuil Press is all about breaking tropes. Mostly we focus on breaking tropes that are actively harmful to people. Tropes like Sexy is Evil, the Magical Minority, or Asexual=Prude.

But some tropes aren’t harmful–they’re just done to death.

Werewolves are awesome. But how many books do we really need about hierarchical werewolf packs where everyone bows to the (male) alpha, and a mystical tie joins mates for life?

Or the dark, brooding (again male) vampire whose world is turned upside down by romance?

And while we get the appeal of having a hot, sexy, billionaire fall in love with plain-jane and sweep her off her feet (Be honest: most of us would love to be jane -or john-in that scenario. The wish fulfillment is awesome.)–haven’t we seen it enough?

Cuil Press is currently accepting manuscripts, and one of the things we will be looking for is stories that are different–that break the standard tropes. Maybe by having a werewolf story about an asexual werewolf in an egalitarian pack–or maybe by not having werewolves entirely.  Maybe it’s time for some stories about selkies or tengu instead.

If you are breaking tropes and trying something different in your fiction, we’d love to hear from you.

#CampNaNoWriMo Campfire Story Week 1


One of our team members, JessMahler, has participated in either NaNoWriMo or CampNaNoWriMo (and sometimes both) as often as she could manage for over 5 years–and never won. Hazards of young children and mental illness. She is also an amateur storyteller and in the grand tradition of summer camps, will be sharing a #CampNaNoWriMo Campfire Story each week of CampNaNoWriMo.

#campnanowrimo campfire story
The #CampNaNoWriMo Bonfire

Okay folks, gather round.

I know you’ve all got words to pound out, but take a break for a few minutes. (Just a few, though.)

I’m not one of the real old timers of NaNo, but I’ve been around a bit. Long enough to have heard a few tales.

This tale is from five years back. Or maybe ten. It might have been in New York City, or Allentown, or Perth. Or right next door to you. But it happened. I promise.

It was the last week of CampNaNo and a group of Campers got together at a 24-hour restaurant to do an all night writing marathon. Some of them had already hit 50,000 words (this was before you could set your own goal). Some desperately needed the all nighter to catch up. But they gathered together to support each other and have fun.

Unfortunately for Marlene, her young kid had been ‘playing’ with her laptop earlier and unknown to her had turned off auto-save on her word processor.

You can see where this is going, right?

It was a rainy night. Not a bad storm, just the kind of pounding rain that makes you glad you are inside where it’s warm. The group talked and laughed and helped each other through stuck plot points. Marlene hit a few rough spots, but made good headway, working straight through when she wasn’t grabbing a few fries to snack on.

Round about 3, one of the group, a quiet man called Top, crossed the finish line. The whole crew took a fifteen minute break to cheer celebrate. While they were all up and dancing around the lights flickered. Once, twice, and everything was dark.

You might think this wouldn’t affect our Campers. After all, laptops and tablets have batteries. But sometimes the battery for a laptop gets damaged or wears out. And if that happens the laptop will only stay on if it is plugged in and getting power. The minute it loses power, it’s off.

And, well, Marlene’s laptop had just this problem. So when the power went, so did her laptop. The lights came back up a few moments later. Just one of those temporary things that happens. Marlene groaned and grumped through booting her laptop up–it always seems to take forever, no matter how fast it really goes.

But when she opened her novel, all her work for the last five hours… was gone.

So remember Campers, this #CampNaNoWriMo protect your work. Don’t rely on autosave–manually save every so often as well. As if anyone else touches your computer, make sure to check your settings!

See you next week.