books, The Invisible Moth

Happy Bookiversary!

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So, I’ve never been very good at the self-promotion thing… One of the hardest parts, for me, about being an indie author is that you have to do most of your marketing and advertising yourself. To this day, I still get a little shy when people ask the age-old, “What do you write about?”

But apparently I’ve managed to explain it well enough in the past 2 years that people maintain an interest in my work. Yes, it’s really been 2 years (tomorrow!) since I officially released Masters and Beginners (Volume 1 in The Order of the Twelve Tribes) into the world!

To say I was nervous doesn’t even begin to cover it. I was so ready to become a published author…except deep down, I wasn’t sure I wanted anyone to actually read my book. What if they hated it?

It’s the chance you take. Blessedly, if anyone has a less than favorable view of my titles, I have yet to hear of it. And the praise and encouragement I’ve received has certainly helped in keeping my nose to the grindstone (because believe me, it is a grind to write, edit, format, submit, release, and promote all your own stuff).

But at the end of the day, I do get to admit that, yes, I wrote that.

And that feeling can still be exhilarating.

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Not to blow my own horn…hmm, okay, actually, yes…I’ve made it through the third book in my series (and one of these days the fourth shall finally appear as a finished product). And I managed to squeeze in a collection of short stories as well (and am currently working on a second montage, of flash fiction).

Despite the fact that writing itself is often a solitary act, creating a book is anything but. I owe so much gratitude (and will be shouting it for quite a while) to my cover designers, beta readers, reviewers, and overall writing tribe. To all of you who have helped make this venture worthwhile, thank you, thank you so much.

Here’s to the next two years of The Invisible Moth publishing!

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blogging, reading

Slumbering: Blog Tour

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There will be a short break from our regularly scheduled autism acceptance programming, for this blog tour I’m part of for Shannon at Reads and Reels! Today the spotlight is on Slumbering, the first in a YA urban fantasy series (The Starlight Chronicles) by author C.S. Johnson. Read on for an excerpt, and a giveaway!

SLUMBERING by C.S. Johnson

Publication Date: December 2014

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/ Satire

Sixteen-year-old Hamilton Dinger leads a charmed life. He’s got the grades for the top of the class, the abilities of a star athlete and Tetris player, and the charisma to get away with anything. Everything seems to be going along perfectly, including his plans to ask out Gwen Kessler, as he enters into tenth grade at Apollo Central High School. Everything, that is, until a meteor crashes into the city, releasing the Seven Deadly Sinisters and their leader, Orpheus, from their celestial prison, and awakening Hamilton’s longtime dormant supernatural abilities. Suddenly Hamilton finds reluctantly allied with his self-declared mentor, Elysian, a changeling dragon, and Starry Knight, a beautiful but dangerous warrior, as they seek to protect the souls of Apollo City from the Sinisters and their evil intentions. Can Hamilton overcome his ignorance and narrow-mindedness to see what is truly real? Can he give up his self-proclaimed entitlement to happiness in order to follow the call of a duty he doesn’t want? More importantly, will he willingly sacrifice all he has to find out the truth?


The cowbell over the doorway clanked loudly, halting Rachel’s bubbly giggles. I looked up to see a woman, who could only be Rachel’s mother, walking in with a sour look on her face.

“Men are the stupidest things on the surface of Earth,” she announced to the whole gala of people, before making her way towards the bar.

“We’re not all bad, Letty!” an older man called out from the back, sending a fury of laughter fluttering through the crowd.

“Hi, Mom.” Rachel waved. I wasn’t sure, but there seemed to be some hesitancy behind her words.

From looking at the lady’s grim face, it was easy to see she’d just had a disastrous date. Her graying hair was messy, and her (probably) once-nice dress was windblown. “Hi, Rachel,” she greeted her brusquely before slumping down on a creaky chair.

“Bad date, I take it?” Rachel asked, getting a mug of strong coffee out for her mother.

I was bluntly amazed a woman like that could get a date at all.

Leticia—Letty—snorted. “You don’t want to know.” She shifted on the barstool and straightened out the wrinkles in her dress before sighing obnoxiously. “Oh, God! I used to be wealthy! But no, thanks to my brother and ex-husbands, I’m dashing around town in second-class clothing, living in the poor district like a welfare case, and going out on blind dates with men of the most insufferable kind!”

Huh. Dinner and a show.

Rachel gave her mother a sympathetic pat on the hand. “Don’t worry so much, Mom,” she said, putting on a bright smile. “You still have time to find a suitable date for my wedding.”

“Ha,” Letty huffed again. “Let me just say this, Rachel. You can count yourself very lucky, now that you’ve found yourself a half-decent man to marry. Nowadays, there aren’t too many of those walking around.” She dug into her expensive-looking knockoff purse and pulled out a cigarette. “If I had it my way, no man would walk at all.”

I felt a sudden rush of gratitude for the American justice system.

“Mom, no smoking in here,” Rachel reminded her. “And the doctor told you to stop. You already have high blood pressure.”

“Life is pressure, darling,” Letty sneered humorously, and that was when I first thought I might just like her enough to be amused. “Oh, why did I raise you to be so good?” she asked as she tossed her cigarette back into her purse.

“I’m sure you didn’t mean to.” Rachel laughed. “Here, I just tried a new recipe, and I want an honest opinion—and your opinion is as honest as they come, Mom.” Rachel gave her an apple crumble tart before disappearing into the kitchen.

About the Author

C.S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at

Find her at:




Purchase Link for SLUMBERING:

And the giveaway! Enter to win a print copy!



Autism, Encouragement

God Created Us, Too

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Religion can be a tough one for neurodivergents. Either we just don’t have the sort of cognitive processing that allows for discussions on philosophy and spirituality to really land on an even footing; or we have such bad experiences with organized religion that we tend to stay away from the institutions completely.

I’ve been on both sides of the coin in this issue; I’ve attended churches where people clearly thought my family was demon possessed (instead of simply developmentally disabled); and studied non-mainstream belief systems that seemed a lot more accepting of people who didn’t quite fit a norm or traditional standard.

It took me a while, but eventually I figured out that what other people think of me or want from my family isn’t anywhere near as important as what God thinks of me.

For thousands of years, all sorts of conditions that provide challenges or limitations, based on the way our society works, have been considered curses or ill luck. That point of view almost always came from a human perspective, rather than anything specific you’ll find in sacred texts.

If someone is suffering, in any number of religions, you’ll come across several references to miracles being performed by a deity or divine agent, to bring forth welcomed healing. People who genuinely felt afflicted by whatever their situation was were grateful for the cosmic intervention. Not that I have a problem whatsoever with that.

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What I do have a problem with is my entire self being thought of as a disease.

When you read the New Testament, the whole point of it is that the Crucifixion and Resurrection occurred so that everyone could receive grace. If you truly believe that, then there shouldn’t be space in your creed for exceptions.

I will never be one of those women who can parent, homeschool, attend every single Bible study, sit on the committees, and turn up to all the ministry events or conferences. Especially not with absolutely perfect makeup, or recently re-styled hair, utterly fashionable clothes, and chances are high my purse won’t match my shoes.

And I finally realized a couple of years ago that I am OKAY with all of that.

There’s nothing wrong with the fact I’m on the spectrum affecting how I dress and socialize, what my interests are, how I’d prefer to spend my free time. We live in a culture that sets out certain expectations and roles, but these aren’t necessarily the purposes God calls individuals to.

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Why would it be so unimaginable that God can be using me to stretch others’ minds, to open their hearts? Why does the only point of my existence have to be so that God can perform a miracle by “healing” me…when it may very well be that autism isn’t what needs the restoration?

Why is it such a terrible thing to be different? Why does the world think we deserve the opportunity to become more normalized, to fit in? What if all of that is completely irrelevant to us living our best lives?

The major reasons I struggle with particular environments or circumstances is simply down to the way my brain is wired — physically, my nerves prefer quiet to loud, small to big, the arts to sports. I get overwhelmed when the world decides it isn’t going to adhere to these requirements. And, honestly, I don’t hold it against the people who are fine with that.

All I ask is that they do the same for me.

Here’s what I don’t need: People trying to get me to change who I am in order to have a “better life.”

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We still don’t know what causes autism, but I stand firm by my belief that, no matter what, an all-powerful God would know who was going to be born on the spectrum…and let it happen, for whatever reason. Just because we don’t understand why an unusual arrangement of neurotransmitters just is in some brains doesn’t mean it’s the result of random chaos that will ultimately ruin our carefully constructed civilizations.

People need to worry about bigger, more real problems than autism.

If the prevailing Good News is that we’re all loved and redeemable, then why should it be any different for neurodivergents?

My condition is nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t require a cure.

God created us, too.

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Autism, reading

Review: The Boy Who Steals Houses (Arm Yourself, With Tissues and Cake)

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MAJOR WARNING: IMPENDING SPOILER ALERT. I will try not to blow the lid off the entire plot, but this time it will be a challenge. You cannot say I didn’t make a disclaimer.

And there is much flailing (and not always the good kind — sorry, everybody) to be done over CG Drews’ 2019 release, The Boy Who Steals Houses. It’s a contemporary novel focusing on the broken and battered teenage Sammy Lou, who eventually finds that his life, and his heart, can be mended.

There are complicated and sad factors at play here: Sammy and his older brother, Avery, have run away from a neglectful home, and they’re both barely scraping by, using minor theft and breaking and entering to stay off the streets. Is it the best choice? No. But have these boys been gnawed up and spit out by a world that refuses to accept Avery’s autism? Yes, they have.

This is at the core of the plot’s conflict: Avery is autistic, and because of it he was consistently ridiculed, punished, even physically beat by the adults who were supposed to be taking care of him and Sammy. Sammy got used to sticking up for his brother because no one else was. Sam was forced to grow up way too young, and nobody taught him the proper way to handle difficult situations.

Into all of this comes the De Lainey family, a widower with 7 children to raise. The older kids — twins Jack and Jeremy, Grady, Moxie — are all teenagers, and help out with the younger ones and their dad’s construction business. Through pure happenstance (no spoilers here, I promise), Sam winds up being mistaken as a friend of a De Lainey child, and so begins a beautiful, perfect summer he so, so desperately needed.

Most of Sam’s backstory is nothing but tissue fodder. (Hey, better I prepare you now.) It shows the worst side of adults — neglect, abuse, refusal to understand developmental disabilities — and while it’s hardly pleasant, it is important to let the world know there ARE autistic children treated this way. And because Drews is herself an Actually Autistic, she doesn’t just want people to know, she wants people to give a damn.

And after reading 340 pages about the Lou brothers, you will.

Under all this horrible mess that has become their lives, these boys are sweet and smart and so pure at heart, and you never doubt that rooting for them is the right way to go. Do they get it all right? No. Do they need some attitude adjustments? Yes. Is all of this possible? Absolutely.

See, the biggest problem for Sam and Avery is that they’re just kids, and they had THE WORST role models ON THE PLANET. When you’re neurodivergent, you don’t view the world the way most people do, and you won’t know the difference unless someone points it out to you. The true villain of this story is the Lou brothers’ Aunt Karen, who really should be in prison for child abuse and failure to provide proper care for a disabled minor. The saviors of the story are the De Laineys, because they LISTEN and HAVE HEARTS and DON’T CARE that Avery’s different.

The ending of this book — that will steal your heart and charm the pants off you, then break that cardiac organ, with a hammer, no less — is just, and makes sense, and there is SO MUCH LOVE AND HOPE. It’s also realistic — teenage runaways who steal things and get in trouble with schools and peers and others who are breaking worse laws than petty theft do have to face consequences for bad decisions. But is it totally unfair to Sammy and Avery Lou? No, it’s not.

And this is the most vital part of it all. While Drews includes the harder, fiercer, colder, make-you-curl-in-a-ball details of such circumstances, she doesn’t throw her boys to the wolves and leave them to be scattered by the wind. The De Laineys are there to pick up the pieces and reassemble them. There will be LIFE for the Lou brothers after the end of the last page.

Oh, and another massive reason you should read this book? My name is in the acknowledgements.

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Seriously, just go order it already. You can find it on Amazon, Book Depository (free shipping!), and bookstores in the UK and Australia!




Autism, blogging

Letting Go

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One of the hardest parts of reaching the point of no longer being ashamed of your “disability,” in actually taking pride in being how you naturally are, is working through the guilt and dishonor that comes from a lifetime of the world telling you you were wrong, messing up, not in tune.

Admittedly, this can be a rather daunting task, when all of your society — in some instances, those closest to you — keep reinforcing that your condition is not something that you should be “stuck” with. After all, it’s why there are these treatments to get you more “included” in civilization.

The unfortunate, brutal truth of that approach is this: The majority of these treatments are to make other people feel more comfortable around us. To get us to blend in, to stop stimming in public, to get a handle on our emotions, and fade into the background, rather than stand out for being different.

Counseling to make us work through emotional obstacles that we don’t understand probably won’t raise our self-esteem. Training us to mask our autistic traits only results in creating more, deeper anxiety, and that often leads to actual physical illness. Trying to force us to be “normal” is about as sensible as forcing a lion to become a vegetarian.

For a while, I fell prey to this feeling that everything I am was wrong, and should be changed. I encouraged a younger White Fang to participate in therapies that would teach him to think and process things like “regular” people. Not to build understanding and empathy in him, necessarily; more to eventually convince him that he could one day act like that, too.

I didn’t want my baby boy to be bullied, repressed, discriminated against like I had been. Like I still am. But recently I’ve realized that the best way to fix this is NOT to make him change. It’s to change the perspective of those who come across him.

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Are we perfect as is? No! Do we sometimes hurt feelings by speaking in a tone or with body language that takes others aback? Yell out phrases or thoughts that humanity finds impolite? Yes — and who doesn’t, at some point in their lives? Do we react suddenly to strange circumstances or unexpected events, do we accidentally cause distress to random passerby? Yes — and again, who hasn’t done or said something they wish they could do over?

Are autistic children harder to parent? Sometimes. But how many neurotypical children throw tantrums, break toys, refuse to eat their dinner? Plenty. And does the world view them as problems that will never be solved without government or medical intervention? Hardly.

The biggest difference between us and the NTs (and honestly, I hate having to divide the world into camps like that, but it wasn’t my decision) is that we have concrete neurological and physiological reasons behind everything we do. Either it’s our external environment or something internal that causes overstimulation or brings us to a shutdown or meltdown. We truly aren’t doing it just to make other people mad or upset.

Motives like greed or envy rarely influence us. We know what we need and what we like, so we generally are content if we get it. We aren’t spoiled for knowing there are certain requirements to maintain our calm and well-being.

So, while we sadly do still have to fight the uphill battle to convince others of these facts, in the meantime, we can apply them to our own hearts.

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Would it benefit us to tamp down our anxiety? Absolutely. Does it mean we’re horrible, vile, screwed-up people beyond redemption if we suffer a setback (or many)? Not one bit.

Do we need to keep beating ourselves up for being different? No. What’s the fricking point of that?

Will our lives not be what parents, neighbors, teachers, authorities envision for us? Most likely not. Do we have to follow their plans to feel successful, accomplished, happy? No way.

Will we feel more accepted by the “average” folks if we conform? Sadly, yeah. But will that actually make us feel better? Experience is proving no.

I don’t have it all figured out yet myself, but the best advice I can come up with at this moment is: let go.

Let go of a sense of worthlessness. Of loss. Of missing out. Of having made mistakes.

You are okay. You have made it. You are further today than you were last month, last year. You can keep moving forward.

Let go of striving to reach someone else’s ideal. Let go of not being “enough” for people who don’t really want you.

It’s all right to be different. To be yourself. To want to feel whole.

Do it. Go. 

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blogging, books

The Boy Who Steals Houses Release!

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Good morning! It’s Happy Release Day to CG Drews’ second novel, The Boy Who Steals Houses! I’m currently waiting on my copy, hence a review will be forthcoming! But I beta read an early edition, and trust me, if you like heartfelt, poignant, raw contemporaries, GET THIS BOOK and just sob your eyes out for a few hours. You’ll thank me later, I swear.

Here’s the cover summary:

Boys like him don’t get the girl. They go to jail.

Betrayed and abused by everyone who should have taken care of them, Sam and his brother are lost souls. They have a wild, hopeless, precious dream — to make a home for themselves.

Then Sam meets a girl whose laugh is a burst of stardust. But betrayed people have the hardest fists, and Sam has a secret that is about to catch up with him.

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Why is this novel so important? Because it’s one of the very few I’ve come across that accurately represent what it’s like to be neurodivergent in a world that doesn’t accept this, and how it feels to want to be yourself, and at the same time need to find somewhere to belong. There is nothing in here about “curing” neurodivergence; there’s bunches about learning and loving and becoming whole. It also doesn’t gloss over the mistreatment many ND folks receive on sometimes a daily basis; while none of that is pleasant, it’s extremely necessary for people to be aware of.

And we all know that Cait is the master of portraying difficult topics in a dark-cloud-edged-light that will make you cry and scream and hug the book so tightly it passes out.

So who is this evil genius author? Well, according to her publisher’s website, she looks like this:

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But most of us around the blogisphere know her better as the Dragon Queen, the owner of these boots:

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You can find more details about The Boy Who Steals Houses and CG Drews at:, @PaperFury on Twitter, and on Instagram.

A note for my American readers, though: Since Cait is Australian, the easiest way to acquire her books if you live in the USA is to go to Amazon or Book Depository (the latter has free shipping, even internationally!). So while you’ll need to wait a little bit to get your hands on her new release, DO IT. Did I mention you’ll love it?

Autism, blogging

Here’s Why I’m Proud to be Autistic


Welcome to Autism Pride/Autism Acceptance Month! Let’s jump right in, with a list of reasons why I’m proud to be autistic:

My life is rarely boring. The way I look at and experience the world means that the beauty of nature and the comfort of a routine becomes just lovely things to take in. I don’t get bored or irritated by familiar things or places, I drink in the sunshine and the snow, the rain and the wind, flowers and trees and birdsong. Very simple pleasures bring me much joy. Re-reading favorite books, reruns of favorite TV shows, sharing the best movies with White Fang as he reaches the right age (and anticipating the same for Muffin one day), just makes my heart sing.

And because I have a vivid imagination, my daydreams often provide cheap entertainment. Thinking “outside the box” comes so naturally, I can create magic from the simplest things.

I know what I like. Whether it’s entertainment, academics, hobbies, occupations, cuisine, pets, or social events, I know what I like, and I’ve reached the point of not caring if others disagree. I make no apologies for my passions, and see no need to follow trends or keep up with “the popular kids.” I’m not sure whether you’d call it self-confidence or just stubborness, but there is something quite refreshing about not engaging in “fear of missing out” or giving in to the pressure to conform.


Because I have specific interests, I take time to hone my strengths and skills. It’s how I made my way from completely unrecognized hobbyist writer to self-published author in about a year. While I’ll probably never be rich and famous, there are now books in my house, my local library, my friends’ houses, that I can point to and say — with absolute accuracy — “I wrote that!” And while national newspapers and most literary magazines have never heard of me, there are still a lot of people who have read and enjoyed my titles, and would be very happy for me to write more. Not at all bad for someone who couldn’t figure out how to format a 6×9 paperback manuscript in 2017.

I can sympathize with a wide range of people and animals. The marginalized, the underappreciated, those with trauma in their past, their present, even if I haven’t been in their particular circumstances, I get so many of the feelings that go along with discouragements and setbacks, heartaches and loss. While I’m very practical and believe action is always the wiser course, I’m highly unlikely to try to minimize or brush off depression or anxiety.


Being part of a very special community. Finding other autistic adults through the power of social media has taken the phrase “These are my people!” to a whole new level. Never having met another autistic female until a couple of years ago — heck, not even knowing was on the spectrum most of my life — meant that I didn’t really “fit in” with any one group at school or work. Now that I know I’m not only “not the only one,” but also that I’m not the only autistic mother/self-employed/felt they were on their own, too, has made a HUGE difference in the way I view myself. I feel special, respected, understood. And I know that, regardless of what symptoms/lifestyle/education/career I do or don’t have in common with others on the spectrum, I still am, and accepted.

I may very well change the world one day. People who have made significant waves in history did so because they weren’t afraid to be different. This isn’t to say that everyone who changed the world for the better was neurodivergent or autistic; but their success started with refusing to accept a status quo, bravely taking on new ideas, and not letting the odds get them down. That’s a spirit I strongly relate to. It isn’t so much “when life gives you lemons…” as when the world says no, I say yes, and make my own way.

So, there we are for now! Tune in later this week for a promotional post on ASD author CG Drews’ newest release, an Own Voices novel on anxiety and autism entitled The Boy Who Steals Houses. It’s a book you won’t want to miss!