I didn’t lose my mind.

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A little over a week ago, I attended my first book signing at the Writers on the River event in Peoria, Il.  I thought I’d share ten things about it.

1. Sensory Overload to the max. As an autistic, I severely underestimated my ability to handle the noise and chaos of 300+ readers in one room.

2. Writers on the River has brilliant organisers and some of the kindest volunteers. Highly recommend, though if you’re autistic, consider how well you deal with crowds.

3. I survived.

4. The best burger I’ve ever had from a dive called Burger Barge.

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5. I learned I need to do better at respecting my limitations.

6. Everyone likes free candy. (And Reese’s Peanut Butter cups go first.)

7. Best cupcake ever.  Chocolate espresso cupcake. So good. OMG. So good.

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8. Swag makes everyone happy.

9. I can push myself too far in an attempt to fit into the allistic vision of an author.

10. The Grasmere Trilogy paperback has by far my most popular cover.

*If you’re interested in learning more about how attending a book signing affected me as an autistic, I’ve vlogged about it over on my patreon.*

 

A Desk By Any Other Name

I’ve wanted to do a post like this for a while. It’s just a silly post about the contents of my desk drawer (and nightstand.)

So, this is my desk drawer. It’s mostly organized. I clean it out every couple of months because it starts to irritate me.

Nothing earth-shattering. Two little baskets with post-notes, ink refills, and stapler refills, even though I never use my stapler.

Stapler. (Anyone else say that in the same voice as the guy from Office Space? Just me?)

Stamps, international and regular. They’re covering up address labels and a checkbook because…no one needs that information.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Now, technically, this isn’t my desk drawer. This is my nightstrand drawer but most of the things on the right should be in my desk drawer.  I often write/work in bed so I keep some of my supplies in my nightstand.

The silver case has some of my pens (Should I do a blog post about my massive pen collection?) The blue folder has post-notes and a notepad. It’s from Cocoa Daisy. Then there’s a collection of drawing/sketch pads, a postcard notebook, and other random nonsense.

Oh! And there’s a sewing kit I’ve owned for twenty years and NEVER USED ONCE.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

 

This inspired a vlog for my patrons so if you’re interested check that out here:

My Patreon

So, what’s in your desk drawer?

Sex on the Spectrum

April is generally considered ‘Autism Awareness’ month. I prefer Autism Acceptance.  I do not support Autism Speaks. I do not light it up blue. I am not a puzzle piece.

I thought for my second Monday Blog in April. I’d discuss another aspect of my life as an autistic adult.

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One of the greatest dangers that face an autistic adult is not having sufficient information to deal with adult issues.

I’ve noticed a trend where non-autistics tend to infantilize autistics as teens and adults. They treat us as though we’re incapable of making decisions and caring for ourselves. And that is definitely not accurate.

It can and often does lead to a number of issues as we grow up.

One of which is sex and sexuality. I can only speak for myself here and my experiences, though. As we always say, when you’ve met one autistic…you’ve met one autistic.

I grew up in a very sheltered environment. I was the adopted child of closed-minded Baptist missionaries. I didn’t even know autism exited until I was in my twenties. I knew I was different, but not why.

Being sheltered and undiagnosed led to a number of issues. One being a serious lack of knowledge about sex. This all happened before ‘googling’ was a thing. I had no access to information–and no idea I needed information.

That, to me, is the most dangerous thing.

All these instinctual things non-autistics seem to grasp.

I didn’t.

I had no idea how sex worked. How safe sex worked. I had no clue that there were different sexualities.

It seems ridiculous and incomprehensible, but it’s true.

Education is important. CRITICALLY important for autistics.

I had to learn the hard way. I had to educate myself. I made humiliating mistakes. My dating history is littered with bad decisions I could’ve avoided with a little knowledge.

And I’ve completely lost my train of thought. Thanks, Brain. I’ll end this post here.

Bonus round of unrelated yet related things I wish:

– Society didn’t mock adults looking for information that people consider ‘common sense.’

– People wouldn’t say ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question’ without meaning it.

 

 

 

 

Thanks. No Thanks. Thanks.

April is generally considered ‘Autism Awareness’ month. I prefer Autism Acceptance.  I do not support Autism Speaks. I do not light it up blue. I am not a puzzle piece.

I thought for my first Monday Blog in April. I’d discuss an aspect of my life as an autistic adult.

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The above gif is an accurate representation of how I feel about my brain daily.

True story.

I’ve wanted to write this blog post for over a year but struggled to put my thoughts into coherent words. Something I deal with quite frequently as an autistic. An experience this week made me want to make an attempt yet again–so please forgive any rambling. I’m trying.

I am autistic.

I live in a world that isn’t designed for the neurally divergent.

Let’s be honest, the world was made for the neurally and physically abled person.

The older I get, the harder it becomes to mask my way through life. (If you’d like to learn more about autistic masking, Neurodivergent Rebel has a fantastic video on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZB38phQNzw)

And with masking becoming harder, it can be a battle to do specific tasks. All the author things I have to do with promo, talking to people, blogging, so many things. It can be overwhelming and some days impossible. I have days where I sit at my desk and stare at my to-do list for an hour without actually accomplishing a single item.

I get comfortable with people and routines, both of which help me climb these hurdlers within myself.

My life has been blessed with a core group of friends who go out of their way to help me…or at least not make my life more difficult.

The trouble is that I struggle with something that feels a bit like imposter syndrome. I know I need help. I don’t ask for it, but when I receive it.

I suddenly feel like I shouldn’t take the help. Like, I not only do I not need help. I don’t deserve it.

This past week offered a prime example.

My point of contact with my publisher is generally one of two people. As my publisher grows, more people are added to the mix. It causes me a lot of anxiety.

My beloved publisher graciously makes accommodations for me, so that I’m able to cope.

The downside of this brilliant kindness is that a negative internal conversation happens. I question myself. I don’t really need this help, do I? I can manage. I’ll be fine. I’m making their lives more difficult.

It’s toxic self-doubt.

I don’t know if many of my fellow autistics struggle with this.  I’m sure some must.

I do need help at times. I can manage, sometimes, but at what cost to my mental health and stress levels?

One of my goals this year was to be kinder to myself.

I don’t have to be extraordinary or superhuman to validate my existence as an autistic and person.

(This is one of my greatest issues with inspiration porn featuring extraordinary autistics with amazing gifts. It inspires non-autistics, but frequently leaves other autistics feeling as though they will never be enough just as they are.)

I’m trying to do better.

How do you handle accepting help when you need it?

Let’s Talk About Sex.

“Why do you write gay romance?”

Author interviews always seem to include that question for me. And my answer is probably never entirely satisfactory, mostly because I don’t have the answer. There was no epiphany or grand moment. No critical thought process that I’ve heard other MM Romance authors give.

Gender and sexuality have always been a bizarre concept to me. It’s an autistic thing. I feel a bit detached on the idea of both. So, for me, romance is romance is romance.

While I am a woman and I identify as one, gender is one of those concepts I’ve always been quite detached from. I’ve spoken with other autistics who also find the male/female thing confusing. It’s a hard feeling to accurately describe.

It doesn’t affect my writing–and yet it does.

And by that I mean, when I write my brain doesn’t get caught up on gender differences necessarily in the same ways I see from allistic others. I do, however, seem to get into a rhythm of writing something in particular and struggle to shift into a different area. So, after starting with After the Scrum, my flow has continued with M/M, though all things considered my novels tend to include a diverse group of relationships amongst the cast of characters in the stories.

Sexuality or sexual orientation is equally different in my head from how I hear a lot of allistic authors talking about with their writing.

Sex scenes whether m/m, m/f, mmf, or mmm are the hardest bits of writing for me.

Another part, as a panster, I never genuinely set out to do one or the other or a variation. The story just spontaneously shows up from wherever my muse lives in my brain. I barely manage to plot out…the plot.

(The annoying part that I have zero control over. Fucking muse lol.)

I swear I had a point when I started this blog post, but I’ve gotten distracted.

I genuinely considered deleting this and starting over, but other autistic romance authors might appreciate and relate to seeing my struggles.