A reaction to reading TO SIRI WITH LOVE from an #actuallyautistic author.

You know. I started reading that horrific book as a bit of a whim, thinking it wouldn’t be that bad.

I’m the autistic mom of autistic kids, my husband is autistic, we value and appreciate our children and ourselves in pretty much every particular. Are there challenges? Absolutely. But they aren’t anything that neurotypicals don’t deal with, we just deal with them differently.

Usually by communication. We use text a lot with each other, because a lot of times it’s far easier to type or sign than it is to talk.

The point isn’t how we use adaptive technology to make our lives run smoothly, the point is that we communicate.

So I honestly, to the soul of me, didn’t understand how a mother could write and publish a book that would be anything except a joyful celebration of her child’s uniqueness.

I had hoped, foolishly, I guess, that the screenshots of the book I’d seen before reading it had somehow been… not so much taken out of context, but perhaps were just… I don’t even know, overblown maybe?

I didn’t understand how a mother could think those things about her brilliant child.

And never for a moment did I think, reading about Gus, that he’s anything less than brilliant.

He’s so smart I have a feeling he’s manipulating his mom because of how she so very clearly infantilizes him and shows overweening favoritism to his twin Henry, who is also autistic.

Though obviously, neither the author nor Henry know this. Henry shows all the markers of autism, he just presents differently.

We ALL present differently. Which is part of why autism is so hard for most people to recognize when they see it, and that absolutely includes so-called professionals (most of whom are neurotypical) in the field of diagnosis.

It’s a common reaction for autistics when we are abused by ABA practices (to learn to manipulate) especially if ABA therapies are impinged upon us by parents who believe the revolting bullshit that Auti$m $peaks tends to tout.

We learn to do everything in our power to protect ourselves, because we don’t have any choice.

This author… the things she does to both of her sons. It’s utterly appalling.

I can’t, even still, after reading that atrocity… I still can’t believe that a mother could write those things about her kids!

I can’t believe she’d share such personal things about her KNOWN autistic son, without his permission.

Without his knowledge.

Medical information, daydreams about having a ‘normal’ Gus… I just…

Reading that book broke something in me. It really did. It broke a faith I had that neurotypical society didn’t really hate me and the way I’m made.

And a couple of days after reading it and posting my review, I’m still shaken by it. I’m recovering, but it’ll take a week or more to regain my emotional equilibrium.

The outpouring of love and support I’ve received from the autistic community and a large number of neurotypical people have restored my faith in most of humanity.

“Autism parents”, however? They’re on my shit-list for life.

You can read my full review here, with links to the live-tweet threads I did as I broke it down, chapter by chapter.

If you want to know about the experience of being autistic, the hashtags #actuallyautistic and #askanautistic are far better resources than pretty much anything else I can think of.

 

Musings on Coffee Shops

It’s Monday, which means blog share day through the ‘verse, and the only things I have to talk about are my weekend experience and the sensitivity read I just sent off back to the author.

Since I CAN’T talk about the sense read, (and omg, I want to SCREAM from the rooftops about how good the book is, seriously), I’ll talk about my weekend instead.

There’s a TON of writing advice out there, if you look for it. My best advice to everyone trying this thing for the first time is to find what works best for YOU. Then trust it.

So.

Writers.

Coffee shops.

Nano.

Write-ins.

They’re a thing, right?

Not for me they aren’t.

I figured I’d try. I did volunteer (perhaps unwisely, because I’m very much an ONLINE sort of person and not an IN-PERSON sort of person) to be Municipal Liason for nanowrimo for our local region.

I so far, have actually enjoyed the experience? But I don’t know if I’m doing a good enough job as far as the ‘get-together with people’ part.

Because it REALLY doesn’t work for me.

I had a feeling it wouldn’t, I mean, I’m old enough and I’ve been writing long enough (30 years now, and wow does that make me feel old) to know myself and how I write best.

So when others in our local area asked if I’d be fine with them planning write-ins, since I wasn’t quite measuring up there, I leapt at the chance to.

I even went, and yes, I kept an open mind.

Even though my heart felt like a jackrabbit sounding alarm in my chest as I made my way there.

And I wasn’t sure if I could make myself go inside.

I did it though. I went inside, and even though I couldn’t find a seat that let me have my back to the wall (which helps me in so many ways) I stayed for 2.5 hours.

I got 290 words of crap written.

The noise was too much, and I didn’t feel safe using my headphones with my back to the room. I ended up playing with my fidget spinner and chattering much more than writing. I was not a benefit to the writers around me, I don’t think.

It was very nice to briefly meet other writers, especially local ones. It was nice to meet my dear friend, and to see another friend I rarely get a chance to see in person because of life.

But I won’t be doing it again, the write-in thing. I do much better when I’m in an environment that allows for sensory control and calm pacing.

I know what works best for me to write, and that’s being in my cozy den of a nest, in my home, with my music blaring in my ears and my favorite snacks to hand.

I do have to admit that the salted caramel coffee at Coffee Culture Cafe in London Ontario was absolutely fantastic.

I might go back and get more, next time I’m downtown.

 

NaNoWriMo 2017, Let’s Do This!

Okay. So.

Everyone has to find their own method for writing novels. Shhh. I’m serious! Pipe down!

There is a metric TON of ‘writing advice’ out there but there isn’t a skeleton key or a magical panacea that is going to help YOU get YOUR novel written.

‘Cause that’s on you. You’re the one who has to BICHOK it (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard)

And it’s HARD. Give yourself a pat on the back for even trying!

I figured I’d outline my methodology and the tools I use, so that if any of them can be of help to you, you can steal’em.

First things first. I rarely wait until exactly midnight on nano eve. I know, I know. But I try to make sure I sleep during dark hours during nano. I have insomnia, so on the nights when I’m likely to sleep, I try to make that happen. You need to be aware as you’re going through nano, especially if this is your first one, that if you want to ‘win’ you’ll have to write, a LOT. That means it’s really easy to neglect your health. Drink water! Take your vitamins! Try to be aware of that thing called sleep as well as that thing called writing.

One of the things me starting a day or so ahead of time gives me is a bit of a cushion. Usually by the time nano rolls around ‘officially’ I have a word count cushion of between 6 and 20K. This year, I started with 17k, most of that was actually cut from the end of the first book in this series and will be part of the second act of this second book, because it fit better in the timeline.

It equals out, because my goal for nano is never the 50k. It’s always the first draft of a full novel, and my novels range between 80 and 145k. This year, I’m shooting for 100k.

Nano is me lighting a fire under my butt to help myself remember how much I really do love fast drafting (and I adore it. It’s wonderful.)

Now, to the tools and techniques.

I outline ahead of time. It was a hard-won skill for me because, at heart, I’m a pantser. I learned in nano 2015 (when I drafted what became Ilavani) that in order to write that fast, you NEED to let go of ye’old editor brain and just WRITE.

Having a skeleton outline helps me do that. (It also saves my butt on revising and editing, too, which helps, a lot.) I focus on making it pretty AFTERWARDS.

I use Scapple to outline. It’s free-form, so you can use the Three Act Structure or the 8 point story arc or whatever version of outlining works for you. You can do a free trial of it, it’s made by the same peeps who make scrivener.

You Don’t Have To Outline. 

But it works for me.

Secondly, I use word count goals, I write in Scrivener (you can get a free trial of that too). Under the PROJECT tab, click PROJECT TARGET. It’ll let you customize it to how long your books should be and how many words you should shoot for per day. (NaNo suggests you shoot for 1667 words per day.)

I use AeonTimeline for keeping track of what is supposed to be happening when, and making sure that X event happens before Y and Z comes after both. Downloading the software automatically gives you a free trial. It has a bit of a steep learning curve, but there’re videos on youtube to help you out.

I utterly love the word counting function on Nano. I found Pacemaker to be quite helpful when NaNo isn’t available for tracking purposes.

Don’t forget that I have a resources page here on my site, some of the weird stuff I link there may be of help.

Now, go out and write some words!

 

 

Autistic Burnout

CW Self-harm, trauma reference, sexual abuse reference

Autistic burnout is where I find myself right now. It’s a lot like a nervous breakdown, and maybe a bit like clinical depression, but not quite like either. It’s got me right to the edge of a full-on psychotic break with regards to my PTSD and anxiety. I’m a recovered cutter, and yeah… I had to go back on anti-depression meds recently to cope with the desire to self-harm. I got my kit out on Friday. I didn’t use it, I have to give myself credit for that, but I haven’t even looked at it in over ten years.

The fact is, though, that I WANTED to use it. So for me to say, “I’m not in a good place right now” I REALLY MEAN THAT.

I’ve been through a psychotic break before, as well as a nervous breakdown. I have a very long history of trauma, sexual abuse, self-harm, and assorted mental health trail mix. I know the signs, I also know what I have to do.

I’ve had to remove the twitter app from everything but my computer. I can’t remove my presence there completely, and if I did, I’d miss people that I HAVE come to think of as closer to being friends than not.

I’ve already lost my joy and desire to be there. To even be on the internet at all. (and I LOVE the internet, or I used to) I’m having to make myself get on. Currently, I have an alarm set to go off for when I need to get on and try to interact.

Considering it’s 99% of my social interaction? How I get my sales, clients for editing/sensitive reading etc, communication with my editor who is working on my pre-pubbed book BLOODBOUND and my own editors as well as work? It’s how I communicate with my CPs and do my research for books? It’s even how I pay my bills. Yeah.

But right now? If I don’t make an effort to get on… in case you’re wondering, I’d probably never come back.

I will recover, I hope. I’m taking care of myself, but I’ll be scarce while I build myself back up. Much as I hate the symbology of the puzzle piece for autism (because of who uses it) it’s a lot like putting the puzzle pieces of ME back together.

In no uncertain terms, I’m shattered. I have to rebuild myself. Again. I often wonder when I’ll have lost enough of my pieces that I won’t make a whole picture anymore.

I know several autistics who won’t go near the internet because they’ve run into similar problems. Being misunderstood, running themselves into burnout…

I don’t want to be one of them.

In reality… and what helps me do the rebuilding, it’s clinging to the things in my life that are REAL. I’m holding my kids longer, just so I can feel that they’re real. I’m taking more time with my food, when I have any appetite at all. (I think I’ve eaten breakfast today? Which is the first thing of any solidity I’ve eaten all weekend, so it’s an improvement?) That’s a part of how autism affects me. The very idea of making myself eat, because of the textures in my mouth, the feel of the food in my belly, it all makes me nauseous. So that too, is something I’m making myself do, when honestly, all I want to do is make myself bleed so the pain has someplace else to be. (If I didn’t do it this past friday, I probably won’t. I’m not as low as I was then… I put the kit away, so I think I’m okayish.)

I’m making myself try to go to bed at a semi-reasonable hour. Tactile sensations are helping a lot, if they’re ones I choose.

I have to step back and away from just about everything for a while. Until I can be sure again what is real and what isn’t. Cause right now, nothing feels that way. I feel like everything I know, or thought I knew is just dust in the wind. (Yes, I listen to Kansas, shush, I’m old.)

The fact that a lot of my problems tie back to a horrifying event that I had nothing to do with… yet still got blamed for, and am, to this day getting blamed for (the harassment I suffered a few months back was also part of that, though I didn’t say so at the time) is playing a very large part in my reaction.

One of the things a lot of autistics really have a problem with is injustice. But we’re usually accused, easily, because 80 some odd percent of the population doesn’t understand us and most don’t bother to try. (If you know 50 adults, you know two passing autistics, and it takes a toll to pass.) In the past year, I’ve been accused, hounded, harassed (seriously, you should see my harassment folder in my email inbox… if it were paper it’d be as high as my head) threatened, and my family has been too. There’ve been death threats, threats to out my legal name, my husbands and my kids. There’ve been accusations of so much I’d never, EVER, consider doing. Just… so much peeps.

I didn’t honestly know what the final straw would be. I was hoping never to find out. I thought… because I’d been wise enough to go get meds, and that they seemed to be evening me out… that maybe I was on the mend.

Not so much.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing the official letter of delay for my authors at Multifarious Press. I have to, because of my inability to cope with anything right now, put the anthologies on hold until 2018.

If the contracts are already signed, I’ll be giving the authors a chance to break contract to sell their stories elsewhere. It’s not my intent to be terrible to people.

I’ll put up further notices when I know for sure what we at Multifarious have decided to do going forward. I’m not making any final decisions right now, but frankly? I don’t think I have the heart for it anymore. I’ll make any decisions after I’m more stable, but… you need heart to deal with something like a press, and I just don’t think I have it in me anymore. Who knows… maybe I’ll surprise myself. I keep thinking of all those (truly amazing) stories by marginalized authors I have in my query inbox. I hope it’s enough. I truly hope that time and the brilliance in my To Be Read folder will be enough to restore my heart.

Sitting here wrapped in my fuzzy blankets, earphones on to help ground me to what is REAL (that’s a large part of how I recover myself when shutdown) I’m not making any firm decisions about anything, not even dinner. Which I suppose I should go eat.

It’s not fair, nor is it right to the people I’ve promised publication to. It’s not fair or right to me, my family, anyone who has come to count on me, but I absolutely cannot push myself further right now without risk of utter collapse that might see me institutionalized.

For the fulls *I* have requested for the press. (Unless I learn differently, Cit and Kieru are still open for queries, Jamie and I are closed) I’ll work on getting them finished and an answer back to the authors while I’m closed to queries. These stories are so good guys, and I want to see them in the world. Don’t wait on me, just let me know if the situation changes and someone else wants them, please, so I can work on someone else’s.

I’m going to be concentrating on my writing a lot, I have an opportunity to sell a novella to my editor, so I’m going to do that. Maybe sharing my writing lines in the hashtag games will be enough of an internet presence for now. At least until I’m less fragile.

Writing has saved my mind and my life more times than I can count. It’ll help.

You know, I started the press to help marginalized people. I just have to figure out if closing it, or keeping it open will do the least amount of harm. To the marginalized people I opened it for… and to me.

Maybe I’m just too broken to be any good to anyone except my family and my stories. Life sure does seem to delight in throwing me into the deep end and failing to throw me a life-line.

I just need time to remember how to swim, before I drown.

 

 

 

Asking for help shouldn’t hurt

 

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But it did.

It moved me to tears.

Not exaggerating, I’m still sniffling while I’m trying to write this.

It shouldn’t BE so hard to ask for help.

But it made me feel worthless. Here’s the tweet thread.

then this

but it feels so hard to ask for that dollar a month from people in my patreon.

It really does.

I’ve spoken about the historical and ever-present need for patronage of the arts 

but to know that I NEED the help of others to keep making diverse books happen.

It’s hard to admit.

I’m well educated (thanks to an overabundance of student loans I’m paying off).

but because of Canadian licensure requirements, I can’t work in those fields, not without going back to school.

I have such a calling to write diverse stories and to publish others. But I can’t do it without help.

Help I cried to ask for.

Man… does capitalism ever suck ass or what?

Ghost Writers

I think I need to get back to writing, I’ve blogged more this past week than in a while. It’s usually a sign that I need to be working on a book.

IN any case, what I want to talk about is ghostwriting.

So, if you go to Upwork, you can see all sorts of advertisements for ghostwriting. I’ve even made a small amount of money, once or twice, ghostwriting short pieces.

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I stopped because it felt so unethical.

I mean, people who are buying words/books… if it’s for a big name… they’re buying THAT PERSON’S words and stories. They want that author’s voice! Or at least I do.

I’m a mimic, I can mimic most writer’s voices in any genre I write in pretty closely, especially if I’ve read them before.

And I’m an editor, author and autistic.

I CAN BLOODY TELL WHEN IT’S A GHOSTWRITER!!

Please, for the love of the very little money I have to spend on books, don’t do this to me.

I get it, maybe most people aren’t going to be able to tell the difference, but *I* can and I’m not the only one by far.

The big5 pubbed book I preordered because it’s one of my favorite authors hit my kindle yesterday and I was excited to read it. I love this character and I love the world the author has created.

I do not love this book, and I have not yet found a book by this author I hated, nor even disliked.

I love this authors work (or whichever ghostwriter she’s had working for her for a while now). I love the worlds, characters, and stories.

I do NOT love what this new ghostwriter is doing with them.

There is something missing from this authors words that I’ve never seen in the name before.

I’m not a big name in publishing, I’m an outsider, probably always will be, so I don’t actually know how often a big name author hires a ghost writer.

Often enough I’d think. In the past year, two big names that I usually read have felt extremely off when I was reading the books.

I may keep a running list of things I’ve never seen this particular author do in her work, just to keep it straight in my head and to use as supporting examples for this post.

Things I’ve NEVER seen this author do in any of her 30 some books I’ve read that I’ve seen MORE THAN ONCE in this one.

Racial slurs

Description of her black character as ‘sun-bronzed’

Geek slurs

Extreme heavy handedness on reconciliation of ‘happy families’ (one of the reasons I’ve loved this author is that she DOESN’T do that.)

She’s also a WoC so I’ve trusted her to get the descriptions of her mixed race characters done in a sensitive way. This book? It’s so white I can’t even.

Graphic words (I don’t mind graphic words, but this author doesn’t have a history of using them).

… and there is just something missing from this book that the previous ones had.

It’s very unhappy making.

I suppose I could be wrong, that it could just be the author trying something new, but I sincerely doubt it.

So much so that I’m not buying the next book.

And I loved this author.

Look, I get it. We writers/authors are in a dog-eat-dog world, but this particular ghost writer just lost my custom for this author.

It’s close, but it’s nowhere near close enough.

As far as those of us who do the ghostwriting? I get that too, we’re most of us hand to mouth, but no.

Just say no. Please.

I’m the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liason for 2017!

Eek!

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Hi! I’m the Municipal Liason for London Ontario for NaNoWriMo this year, and hopefully, it’ll be a fun time. It’s not my first go-round on event planning.

I’ve written 5 books, published several and have more coming. I also have a novella and several vignettes in publication. (My books are here, if you’re curious.)

Biggest help other than event planning? I’ve won NaNo before, AND gone on to publish those books. I know what it takes and I can (maybe?) help you do it too.

I’m going to put everything to do with it (links etc.) here as well as on the NaNoWriMo.org forums.

You can find our Regional group and forums here.

So.

I’m a Twitter lover. (I blogged about how I do twitter here)

My Twitter if you want to follow me: @KaelanRhy

First things first is the hashtag for our area. London Ontario Canada, so we’ll tag all posts for the region with #SOLondonWrimo

If you’ve found this site via Twitter, ALL of this info is also available via the NaNoWriMo.org Regional Forums.

The first thing I’ll ask from y’all is to take a survey telling me how often, and where, you want to meet. There are 9 questions.

Survey for where and how many times we’d like to meet.