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, 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!


Autism, blogging

Is Spring Here Yet?: Featuring What I May or May Not Be Doing with My Life After The Longest Winter Ever


So, for those of you who live in places where it snows, can we all just agree, now, that this was the LONGEST WINTER EVER? It feels like the last 5 months in fact spanned at least 15. I definitely feel like I should’ve had a cameo in Game of Thrones. Usually I embrace living in a region where all 4 seasons are in concrete representation…but not this go-round.

Anyway, I don’t think it helps one sliver that this rollercoaster of a winter finished for us with a strong bout of sickness that we’re still trying to kick. There’s been multiple days — sometimes in a row — of more rest than doing anything else, which has led to falling behind on other stuff (welcome to my writing goals getting completely tossed out the window), and domino-effect-issues like the contents of the freezer reaching uninspiring levels. Poor Muffin and White Fang are still on the road to recovery, while the cat seems largely unscathed (yay), and my husband and I are finally turning the corner.

By some miracle, I’ve still been able to do at least a little editing on my current projects, and the distant dream of having a book ready to release in the next couple of months is still alive! I’m not going to be anywhere near as bold as to slap an actual date down, but it may still happen, and I am awesome with that!



Interestingly, I haven’t even been reading very much. I did complete a re-read of books 1-3 in Kyle Robert Shultz’s delightful Beaumont and Beasley series, mostly before he releases a million new novels and I realize I forgot everything that took place previously. (Ahem. My memory generally is much better than that, but, hey, it’s been a hell of a time.)

I have been able to make it to recent book club meetings at my local library, which is important for me as a self-published author, because I don’t have a highly-paid marketing team behind my titles, so I need all the exposure I can get. And joining in community events (and they are small, as we live in a rural area between the big cities) means I have the chance to share my street cred, which increases that, and it all keeps rolling merrily along.

And can I just say…the promotion part of indie authorship is much harder than a lot of folks realize. Yesterday I noticed a Tweet that mentioned since Amazon changed its review policies, it’s harder for readers of indie authors to leave reviews supporting our work. This becomes Reason # 4736 I don’t use Amazon for self-publishing. If anyone who has loved my books would like to leave a review on the new Barnes and Noble links for my re-releases, please, feel free! It only takes a B&N account (which costs nothing to have), and a few minutes of your time, and when you do something like this for your favorite indies, it really makes our day!

(Wow, I worked that plug in pretty seamlessly…)


In non-writing-or-reading news…

Hmm, there’s really not much. I think by now everyone knows (or may have come across hints) that personally February was rather brutal, and a lot of March was picking up the pieces of that. For privacy reasons, I’m not sharing certain details with the entire world, but suffice it to say, it was hell in a handbasket. Not even kidding.

Now, the positives from this: At the moment, there has been some significant progress made, and while there are still a few loose threads, we are, praise the Lord, a far cry from where we were. In the midst of all these appointments and meetings and schedule changes and costs that weren’t there before, we have received so much heartfelt emotional, social media, and even financial support that we remain eternally grateful for. I would be flatout lying if I claimed it hasn’t gone a long way towards helping me make it through. Waking up every morning terrified of what the day would bring was an absolutely horrible feeling. Knowing there are people who have my back, even in the darkest moments, gave me that little push to keep going.

So, what’s coming up next?…

April is going to be a month featuring autism, and not much else. It’s Autism Acceptance/Autism Pride Month, as typically it’s been a month where organizations pushing for a cure to neurological and developmental disorders try to get people to feel sorry for us, and we’re just not tracking with that anymore. So the goal of the online Actually Autistic community is to reclaim this month, to share what we love about how we are, and to push for people to love us, to hell with “awareness.” Especially since many people who are aware of autism still judge and condemn us, which makes our platform for tolerance nearly impossible. Hence shifting the focus of the campaign, and this is an endeavor I am more than happy to get behind.

I will be blogging only about once or twice a week, though, in April, in the interest of getting more writing and editing done, and I can. Not. Even. with the idea of May showing its face. So if you notice I’m not around as much, it’s simply due to expending my energies elsewhere. Forsooth!




blogging, books

Kingdom of Ash and Soot Blog Tour

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Kingdom of Ash and Soot (The Order of the Crystal Daggers #1)

Author: C.S. Johnson

Publication Date: July 3rd, 2018

Genre: YA/ Historical Fiction/ Adventure


PRAGUE, 1870.

For the last ten years, nineteen-year-old Eleanora Svobodová has worked as a servant in her stepmother’s household. Along with her older brother, she dreams of the day they will be free to live life on their own terms.

But everything changes when their estranged grandmother comes to Prague on behalf of Queen Victoria. Throughout Bohemia, a string of murders and secret whispers hint at a larger coup. As the leader of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, an ancient order of spies and soldiers that protect kingdoms and their rulers, Lady Penelope is determined to mete out the perpetrators. Now, Eleanora must make the choice between a life of intrigue and saving the lives of others.

Can Eleanora find a way do the right thing and still find freedom?



“What is it?” I asked him, noticing that he was staring back at me. “It seems you have remembered your dancing quite well,” he said, and I shook my head at once, keeping my forced smile steady as we passed by Lady POW.

“The practice helps,” I replied neutrally. “And it did help that  Karl was a good dancer last night. Some of the others I danced with were not as good, but fortunately they blamed it on their own poor performance.”

“They were likely distracted by your beauty.”

“You don’t have to talk to me like that.” I rolled my eyes. “Be- sides, you might distract me now with your false flattery.”

“Flattery  is  always  false,  mademoiselle.  I  was  speaking truth.”

Amir smiled. “You may have that problem in the future, when other men are dancing with you.”

“I can learn to handle it later, then.”

“You can also learn it now. There is nothing efficient about wasting time, after all.”

“I’d rather not, thank you very much. There is no need for you to continue talking to me.” My tone was frosty and bitter, every part a perfect complement to the kindness in his eyes. “Unless, of course, you’d like to tell me why you stole my father’s book from me when we unfortunately met?”

“I would not say it was unfortunate.” “What would you say it was, then?”

Amir’s mustache curled around the corners of  his mouth. “God’s humor at work.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, frustrated and infuriated. “Are you insulting me?”

“Never, mademoiselle.”

Before I could accuse him of lying in addition to insulting me, or before I could “accidentally” begin stepping on his toes, Lady POW began calling out instructions, making me feel even more insulted and infuriated—and even worse, isolated, and unable to do anything to escape.

“Hands up, Eleanora,” she called. “Yes, take a step closer. Now, remember to smile. Watch your timing; men are supposed to lead. And show your interest. Pretend you are dancing with a prince!”

Between Amir’s dancing and Lady Penelope’s snappy judgements, I felt trapped in a world of soft tyranny. It was a world where the truth was too impolite to be spoken, and even if  it had to be, it had  to be dressed up in clothes as strange and as ornate as the ones I was wearing, and it was likely as unrecognizable as I was in the end.

I certainly felt nothing like my usual self.

The others did not seem to believe it was me, either.

Amir held me at a polite distance as we danced, but I was still close enough I could see the pained delight in his eyes as he watched me, and recalling Lady POW’s earlier mistake of calling me by my mother’s name, I suddenly wondered if he was thinking of her, too.

The last note of the waltz rang out, and we finally slowed to a stop.

“Why did you take my father’s book?” This time, my question was quiet but harsh against the growing silence. Amir seemed surprised, but he did not refrain from responding.

 “It was not your father’s book, mademoiselle.”

I slowly dropped my hands from his. Already, I knew what he was going to say.

“When I saw you, it was like falling into a portal to the past, twenty-six years ago. I saw the book, and I knew it could only belong to my Naděžda.”

“You knew my mother.” The words were chunky and foreign to me as they came out of my mouth. I knew I had no reason to accuse him of  something I already knew to be true.

“Yes. She was my dearest friend for many years before … ” Amir said quietly. I saw his gaze lower to the scar on his right hand. “And when she … left … I was angry.”

It plagued me, knowing that Lady POW was not the only one who seemed to prefer my mother to me.

“When she left the Order, you mean?”

“She did not leave the Order,” Amir whispered. “She left me.”

It took me a long moment to process everything. Amir and I were still standing in the middle of the room. Somewhere, a thousand moments and a million miles away, Lady POW clapped and praised us, telling us I was already much better at the waltz than before. She was calling for another song, but I barely heard any of it, as I watched while Amir’s eyes swam over with memories and emotion.

There was suddenly no denying the full truth of the matter. Amir had been in love with my mother.


Giveaway Details:

I have an amazing giveaway for you all today! The author is giving away a print copy of each book in her new Order of the Crystal Daggers series, including a brand new companion novella about some of the other characters, a prequel to Kingdom of Ash and Soot! Just click the link below to enter!



Blog Tour Organized By:

R&R Book Tours


blogging, self-publishing

Blog Tour: A World of Intemperance

Steampunk Watch Graphic

Good morning! Here I am again, on behalf of Shannon at Reads and Reels, promoting another indie author’s work — and before we go any further, it has to be said that this promo was hardly a tough choice for me. Ichabod Temperance, author of the Ichabod Temperance and Persephone Plumtart steampunk series, is such a devoted and tireless supporter of us bloggers and writers, returning the favor is certainly a great idea!

Icky’s 10-part series is written in first person narration, alternating between Mr Temperance and Miss Plumtartt, and its style reminds me of the old radio shows of the 1930s and 40s, which gives it a unique flair. The protagonists are downright the most adorable ship, and I will always encourage readers of steampunk and indie works to check their world out!

Today we’re particularly spotlighting Book 2: A World of Intemperance. 

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It is New Year’s Eve, 1875. In this humorously told Steampunk tale, adventure-prone Ichabod Temperance and his lovely sweetheart, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, once again find themselves swept up into a whirlwind of misadventure and international catastrophe. The entire world totters on the brink of war, as various nations develop arsenals of dreadful power. It seems as though every nation on Earth lusts for Empire. A sinister plot boils to change the course of human history. Along with a remarkable cast of characters, including sapient animals and clockwork men, our heroes find themselves plunged into unimaginable peril!

From A World of Intemperance:

“Oh, golly, Mr. Cogito, I am down to one shot in each pistol. Oh, poor little Bolt. I’m sorry I got you into this, buddy. Oh gosh, I can’t stand the thought of them monsters gobbling you up all gone.”


“Oh, Bolt. I’m so sorry. I don’t want you to be eaten. ~gulp~ please don’t cry little guy; I can’t stand it.”

“Be strong, Ichabod, you know what that last bullet is for.”

“Yessir. Oh, no, I don’t want to do this! Please Bolt, Look away. I know you know what I am thinking.”

“arun, arun, arun.”

“Oh, I can’t stand it.”

“Ichabod, you have to do what’s right.”


“I’m cocking the hammer back on this last round. Aim. Good-bye, Mr. Bolt.”

“Woah, woah, woah… wait!”


“Attaboy, Bolt, wag your tail, I have an idea!”


“It practically fell on my head!”


“I keep worrying about falling off the side of this mountain, so I keep looking to the low side. I almost forgot, there is a high side to the mountain as well.”

“Most observant of you, Ichabod.”

“Cut the horses loose, Mr. Cogito.”

“Is that prudent, Ichabod?”

“Probably not, but I don’t want them to get hurt. Besides I reckon we’ll actually pick up speed down the side of the mountain without them.”

“I understand. I too, do not wish harm to come to these animals. I am releasing them, now.”

“Woah, it feels different to just slide without the control of the horses! Wish me luck, Mr. Cogito, for this has got to be done with precision and is a very long shot.”


“I mean a long distance!”


Snagged your interest? Mr. Temperance is generously offering a print copy of ANY of the 10 installments in his series for free! If you’d like to get started or need to read a later volume, here’s the perfect chance! Use the link below to enter the giveaway (open internationally)!

The books are, in order:

  1. A Matter of Temperance
  2. A World of Intemperance
  3. For the Love of Temperance
  4. A Study in Temperance
  5. In a Latitude of Temperance
  6. The Measure of Temperance
  7. The Seventh Voyage of Temperance
  8. The Title of Temperance
  9. A Journey of Temperance
  10. The Two Faces of Temperance

Happy reading, everybody!

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