Category Archives: Think

The Past 10 Years of Femme’s Entrepreneurial Graveyard

This past September, I went to DC for a major conference I attend (almost) every year called FinCon. It was the first time I had attended since the release of The Feminist Financial Handbook and the podcast appearances I made as a part of promotion. I was up for a few different awards. I was presenting on a panel.

I had just gotten my hair dyed by a professional for the first time. The greys were starting to show.

It was in this atmosphere that I hopped on an elevator. I wasn’t expecting anyone to recognize me. They usually don’t. I wrote anonymously for a very long time, and am still reticent to put my picture on things. Though you don’t have to look very hard to find it anymore.

I don’t usually mind that people have trouble placing me at first sight. In fact, at this conference, there were moments I was hoping this relative anonymity would hold. I had been having health problems and at certain moments during the conference that showed in my appearance.

But I got onto that elevator, and so did another young woman. She looked shy and almost afraid to talk. When she did the words came spilling out of her mouth. She had read my book and loved it and bid me farewell when the elevator jerked to a stop at my floor by congratulating me on all my success.

I smiled and thanked her, but when those elevator doors closed behind me I stopped in my tracks.

What had just happened?

The Relativity of Success

I didn’t feel very successful. Over the past few years, I had left a career field I loved, though it was not a decision I wanted to make. I was so grateful for this side hustle I had going on with writing, and for the self-same conference that had helped me locate streams of income exactly when I needed my hustle to turn into a full-fledged business.

My marriage had fallen apart. I had come to the realization that in my adult life, I had been so focused on surviving that I had never really taken the time to figure out who the hell I was independent of my responsibilities.

My emotional landscape was not feeling very successful.

But as I stood there, frozen outside the elevator bank like a weirdo, I tried to look for what she saw. I saw a book that was getting great feedback. One that — at least on some scale — achieved what it had set out to do: Start conversations that will hopefully contribute in some small way to cultural change.

I had toured a little for the book, both via podcasts and via some awesome independent bookstores I highly suggest you check out. Thanks to an amazing colleague, I had some great business opportunities open up independent of authorship.

I was launching a new professional initiative — one that I’ve been stewing on for a few years. It was getting positive feedback off the bat.

I even saw some things she didn’t see. Some behind-the-scenes work that is often even more rewarding than the stuff that gets public accolades.

Make no mistake: I am small scale, and my ego is even smaller. I have imposter syndrome at every turn, like most of us do. I am perpetually grateful and amazed that anyone cares what I have to say about anything.

What I should have said.

She was not the only person to approach me in this manner. In retrospect I wish I had hugged every one of them and told them not to be nervous. That I had gone back to my room to have a panic attack at one point during the conference because it is amazing, but also incredibly overstimulating and overwhelming. We were in the same boat.

That the success they saw was only one part of the picture, and that I was sorry if I had become so opaque that I was presenting a social media dream life.

But in the moment, I felt equally as awkward and not worthy of their attention and frankly I’m still just shocked any time people remember my face, which I worked so hard to hide for years.

My Entrepreneurial Graveyard: 2010-2020

Everyone’s been posting then vs. now pictures from 10 years ago. They’ve been reflecting on what’s happened to them in the past decade. Where they — and frankly, we all — might go in the next ten years.

In drafting up end-of-the-year post ideas, I decided to show you my entrepreneurial graveyard for the past ten years. Technically, I’ve only been doing this since 2011, so I guess it’s the past nine-ish.

I do this because behind every success in our lives, there are ten failures. I feel like this is either something that I’ve learned from my ventures into entrepreneurship, or it is a core value I hold that has helped me function in the entrepreneurial world.

I do this to hopefully present a little less opaque of a picture. And to show you that in this next decade, if three of the things you try don’t work out, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re pursuing some type of success.

Remember that success in one sector of your life does not necessarily permeate to all areas of your life. You could be killing it at work but falling apart at home. Similarly, your personal life could be rich and fulfilling, but you struggle with income.

We’re all somewhere on that incredibly variable spectrum. Remember that, and try not to place others above or below you (she says to herself.) This isn’t a race with a definitive finish line. It’s an infinite experience.

And money is only part of it.

#FinSavSat

Early in my blogging years, I percolated the community extremely heavily. Back then, it was how you built a blog.

And I loved it.

Early on, my bloggy friend Michelle taught me about cross-pollination. I don’t know if she even knows that. It’s something she taught me by example.

We would all read, think about and comment on each other’s content religiously. You could even use the comment section to find new bloggers.

I suppose there is an element of this today, but back then, this was a much larger part of the picture.

Anyways, in Michelle’s comment section, I would find beauty bloggers. That’s not really my thing, but they were such lovely people and I learned a bit about how to put on makeup!

Eventually, she explained that she loved personal finance, but with the amount of time she put into her blog (which was incredible — I’ve never known anyone to work so diligently with the hours she had available to her,) she needed to mix it up sometimes.

I started doing the same thing with mom blogs. As a new mother, and a relatively young mother, it was hard sometimes to do all the things and feel all the feelings and wonder if you were the only one going through it.

Blogs changed that for me, allowed me to build deep friendships across verticals, and allowed me to build IRL relationships with other bloggers here in my hometown of Pittsburgh back when I was the only PF blogger in the region of whom I was aware.

I digress…

ANYWAYS.

One of the awesome things I saw on mom blogs was the way they were building community. One of the most prolific tools I saw for doing this was link-ups.

Do you guys remember those things?

Once a week, everyone would come around and share a post via a linky tool. Then, you were supposed to comment on a couple other people’s shared posts.

I decided to start one for the PF community. I had awesome support from a handful of other women who helped me launch Financially Savvy Saturdays, or #FinSavSat, and a community was born. I ran it for about a year, and then handed over the reigns to the fantastic Mel of brokeGIRLrich who ran it up until very recently.

It was never monetized. After a while, people started having SEO concerns with link-ups after some algorithm changes, often because they were not written properly from an HTML perspective. As a result, participation eventually plateaued.

The point is, from a business numbers perspective, it was an unprofitable venture. If you want to label that a failure, you totally could.

But what it did do was build a bit of a tighter-knit community. When I went to my first FinCon, I had people to talk to. We were already interacting on a weekly basis. On top of the personal relationships, I discovered cool money tricks to apply to my own personal finances that I would have never read had I not been browsing the shares.

Another thing I gained was a deep sense of gratitude for Mel beyond the joy I got from reading her content. She was a rockstar for carrying it on and did us all a great service.

The Frugality Challenge

After I came home from that first FinCon, I was motivated. I was energized. I had so many ideas and I implemented half of them at once. Of those, about half were successful. The other half kind of fizzled off.

The most successful of those that fizzled off was The Frugality Challenge. My income had gone up, and I was feeling kind of guilty that I wasn’t spending as much time on frugality as I used to. I’ve since learned to let go of that guilt in select circumstances where it doesn’t serve me, but that’s a whole other thing.

I started the #FrugalityChallenge on Twitter to get myself back on track and build community.

It was really taking off there for a minute. So much so that it caught the attention of a young brand in the space, Tiller.

We wanted to start rewarding the winner of the challenge each month with a gift card. In order to do so, though, I felt like I needed a better method than a Twitter hashtag to accurately track points and be fair. So we switched over to Facebook where we could log everything extremely accurately in a group.

When we switched platforms, participation didn’t fall off at first, but growth did. The hashtag was popping up organically on Twitter and converting new participants in that way. It just wasn’t the same on Facebook.

Eventually, we closed up shop. We had killer competitions while it was in operation, though. And it helped me get in touch with my frugal roots.

That Tiller company? They continue to have a great product, and have grown to a point where years later, we were able to resume our relationship in a new capacity. Today, they’re one of my favorite freelance writing clients.

The Shut Down Project

During the latest government shutdown, people were suffering. It was ridiculous.

I kept hearing about all these people trying to get by without a paycheck, trying to decide if they could even continue working in government moving forward. Trying to figure out how to recover from a crisis they were still in the midst of with no end in sight.

I knew several people who had relayed these stories to me about friends or family members. People from within the PF community.

I gathered some colleagues together to source some cash to help alleviate their economic struggle in some small way. That part went okay.

But at the end of the day, it was hard to get recipients to come forward to gather the cash. It’s complicated as a government employee, and there were bureaucratic lines that were harder to navigate than I anticipated.

HBU?

What have been some of your “failures” over the past decade, and what have you taken from them to create successes?

I launched a thing.

I’ve been hinting to you guys for months that I’ve got something fun rolled up my sleeves.

Well, today’s the day I finally get to tell you what it is!

Personal Finance by Women

In the independent financial media space, we’re a little more than 50% female. I think that justifies accurate gender representation when it comes to publishing opportunities, speaking gigs and features. I think that means we ‘ve got plenty of people with lived experience speaking to the issues of women’s finances that hiring those without to pontificate on the topic isn’t always going to bring you the best perspective and information.

Because I think all this, I thought it was time to launch Personal Finance by Women. Apparently a lot of other people think the same thing. Since its launch two days ago, Personal Finance by Women has tripled its membership — I’m still uploading profiles! And that was just from a couple mentions in online networking groups.

What does Personal Finance by Women do?

Personal Finance by Women is a social entrepreneurship venture which believes that just because you center the most intersectional of stories doesn’t mean you have to be a charity. There is value in these financial experiences, which contain something to be learned by all.

It’s not about helping anyone; it’s about empowering everyone.

To achieve this, we’re going to have lots of projects including:

  • Publishing and syndication of money stories centering intersectional writers who are paid fairly for their content.
  • An RSS feed featuring members’ content.
  • A bookshop featuring members’ tomes on money.
  • A financial literacy book basket initiative for charity auctions/raffles.
  • A source list for journalists attempting gender diversity in their sourcing efforts.
  • Service projects and initiatives in our membership’s various local communities.
  • Hashtags on Insta and Twitter featuring members’ content and further bolstering community.

How can I support Personal Finance by Women?

As I mentioned above, this is a social entrepreneurship venture — not a 501(c)(3). That means that while monetary support doesn’t get you a tax deduction, it does potentially get you other perks.

Those who become Early Access Subscribers on Patreon will receive access to original Personal Finance by Women content 24 hours prior to its public release.

You can also support by participating as a member, taking advantage of the fact that membership is currently free during launch. If you want to join as an ally, we’ll talk about how you can best support the initiatives we’re currently running. If you want to join as a woman or non-binary individual, we’re excited to check out your work!

The Costs of Performing Femininity

Last week, someone said something to me that stuck with me. It was hurtful, but the person meant it as a compliment. The words were not this eloquent, but essentially they told me the same thing my grandma told me back in 2004 when I attended her milestone birthday party:

“You clean up nice.”

When my grandmother said it, it made sense. I was a teenager who usually dressed in ripped up jeans, a hoodie and a beanie. To see me in full business casual was probably a legitimate shock.

But this person last week — I don’t feel like the similar comment was as justified. I’ve been “cleaned up” around this person before, and the way it was worded made me feel like my worth to this person was intricately tied to how much makeup I had on or the amount of jewelry that adorned my collarbone.

Without it, I wasn’t quite enough.

Performing Femininity

I was aware how much of a show getting girly was at a very young age. When I was a child, I loved playing baseball with the boys, hated brushing my hair and loved hanging out with the people I cared about. Eventually, cultural pressure kicked in and I switched over to the softball team. I started brushing my tangly hair on the regular. I don’t regret the latter.

When I was a teen, I learned to perform femininity to gain social acceptance. I am a cis woman, and I do feel better about myself when I’m all dolled up. Whether that’s because it’s what makes me happy or because it makes society treat me better I still have yet to figure out.

It’s inconvenient. It’s time consuming. And comes with other costs. Back in those days when I shocked the elderly by dressing up for birthday parties, I came across this quote that really struck me:

Femininity is not made for comfort or movement; it is made to accentuate the sexualization of a woman’s body — and that’s why things like holding the door open (so she doesn’t dirty her white gloves or expensive manicure,) pulling her chair out (so she doesn’t have to awkwardly move a bulky piece of furniture and risk getting it caught on her skirt or stockings and ripping something,) or holding her coat (so she doesn’t have to reach around and risk ripping the tight seams in her shoulder or upper back) are necessary to me, as an acknowledgement of how restrictive femininity can be, and of how difficult it is to walk around in these clothes, as a celebration of the beauty of femininity on the body, and with deep respect for the courage to costume and perform femme to begin with.

I’m not saying everything in that quote is morally right. Or that those who spoke the words are infallible human beings. Just that it was a thought that really made me think over the past 17 years.

The Costs of Performing Femme

Performing femme has a lot of economic implications for those who either do or don’t don the costume. If you’re not society’s whitewashed, caked on makeup, impossibly thin version of beauty, you’re less likely to get paid well at work or even secure the position in the first place.

There are those routine costs, too. The cost of makeup. The cost of clothing and unmentionables. Overpriced shoes that kill your feet.

As you’re getting ready for the day, the most feminine look is going to take the longest to apply — at least if we’re assuming femininity is defined by our society rather than us as individuals. When time is money, women are either waking up earlier to get ready for the day or spending time getting “pretty” when they could be working and bringing in an income. I’m aware the latter is a strawman’s argument, but this is a PF blog. Time is money is an important theme in our discourses.

Then there are the more dire costs of performing femininity as society defines it. Body image issues. Self-hatred and the need to address the mental health issues that come along with not being “enough.” Eating disorders. Potential of death if you take things too far.

Abandoning Aspects of Femme

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten far more comfortable in my own skin. I do feel better about myself when I’m dressed to the nines, but I’ve also started actually believing that my value is not tied to how well I perform femininity. Despite what the world may tell me.

Coffee mug reading "You should be more feminine. Me: Suck my dick."
When I landed in Boise, I spotted this mug at my friend’s house. The timing, y’all. Also this is why we’ve been friends forever.

I tried to wear heels a couple times after I had kids. I couldn’t wear them when I was pregnant because I’m super klutzy and would have fallen as my center of balance adjusted to my changing body. When I tried to resume the practice, it invariably ended in tears of pain. Eventually, I gave them up. Yes, I’m short. Yes, heels make me look even more bomb than I already am. But they’re not a necessary part of my femininity.

I am more than enough without them.

I’m also a remote worker. That means I don’t have to get dressed up to go into work. It’s beautiful, really. I’m crazy lucky I can work in yoga pants without makeup on while earning a decent income.

Why do I do it without makeup on? Why don’t I put on real clothes while I’m clacking away at the keyboard in my own living room?

Because I am more than enough without it. And yoga pants are freaking comfortable.

Also, my skin looks awesome when I don’t wear makeup for a few days. So there’s that.

I’m leaving on a jet plane.

Yesterday I flew into Boise for a book signing. Usually when I fly, I do the yoga pants or leggings thing. I try not to look trashy, but I’m also not trying to get all made up when I know I’m going to look a hot mess after 12 hours of travel.

But the comments from last week left me feeling insecure. I really respected this person and thought their respect for me was a little deeper than the jewelry I was wearing or the way I did my hair on any given day. Complimenting femininity is great, but when the largest part of your value as a human being is attributed to your external presentation at any given second, it’s more than demoralizing.

So before I hopped on the plane, I got all dolled up. Full makeup. Girly clothes. Later, I even put on a bracelet and necklace.

Women in full makeup smiling in a selfie demonstrating the costume of femininity.

Did I regret it?

Totally.

I wasn’t comfortable. My makeup melted throughout the day as I ensured I made flights, tried to catch up on edits on layovers and dragged my two bags throughout the entire airport because I’m too cheap to check.

While I had worked so hard to get “presentable,” the drunk dude sitting next to me and elbowing me throughout the entire flight stank to high hell. Reminding me that the standards for me and this guy were so far away from each other.

I’m going to continue performing femininity. I like the way it makes me feel. I like that people treat me better when I put on the costume. But just like the heels and the yoga pants, I’m not going to bother myself with it when it’s not worth it anymore. The next time I hop on a jet plane, I’m not going to perform anything. I’m just going to be me.

Because with or without makeup and stilettos, I’m plenty enough. Despite the economic realities our society places on us when we don’t conform, you are enough, too. I see you, and your value as a human being doesn’t go up just because you put on a costume.

Why Being a P.I.T.A is a Good Thing!

I meet some of my favorite people in the most random and beautiful ways. In 2017, I was fortunate enough to meet Shanah Bell at a surprisingly emotional and wonderful dinner. I love talking to Shanah. In a world where I often feel like I’m walking a different path than everyone else around me–especially those my own age–her words make me want to celebrate this fact and all the rich experiences that come with it rather than allowing myself to feel isolated.

Today I want to share her words with you! Shanah recently released a great book called The Art of Being a PITA, which addresses the financials of living a nontraditional life. It’s super rad and you should pick a copy up today!

Without further ado, here’s Shanah to give you a little background on her own story.

Most people might consider being a P.I.T.A (pain in the ass!) a negative quality. In reality, that isn’t necessarily the case.

My mother gave me this nickname when I was growing up because I refused to do anything the traditional way. I am stubborn! And things haven’t really changed so much for me — I still fit into that category today! So, I suppose, if you want to call me a P.I.T.A for not always going with the flow, then so be it. I am a P.I.T.A.

But being one only means that I do things my own way, instead of how most people think I should do them. This primarily relates to how I have carved out my work-life and my career, going the non-traditional route and dumping the corporate 9-5 ideology. And actually, if anything, it has only aided me in being as successful as I am.

P.I.T.A Youth

When I was growing up, I was told that success equated to getting a good, corporate job, and that was the ONLY way to experience life-long stability.

This never felt right to me, though. I felt that there had to be a better way, because corporate jobs just don’t suit every personality. This is especially true of us P.I.T.A’s! We like to buck the system and think outside the box, which does not typically translate well into a corporate environment.

Even so, there were a few times that I tried to make it work. Oh, how I tried! I wanted to be considered stable and successful, and more than anything I wanted to make my family proud. But I never felt at home in a corporate job. I felt like those jobs sucked the life right out of me.

Why I Left Corporate Jobs Forever

Whenever I worked at a corporate job (and I’ve had a few!), I spent a decent portion of the day not doing anything productive because I had already completed my tasks. I really HATE being bored, sitting around and doing nothing, even if I am getting paid for it. I would much rather be busy, working my butt off the whole time than sitting around, twiddling my thumbs, trying to find things to do, or waiting for new opportunities to crop up.

To me, that is just ridiculous!

Then, after spending most of the day doing nothing, I would have to go sit in afternoon traffic for another hour, and once I was home it was time to decompress, which took at least another hour, if not all night.

For me, working a corporate job meant I was on someone else’s clock for close to 12 hours a day, yet only getting paid for 8. And the 8 hours I was getting paid, I wasn’t being nearly as productive as I could be on my own.

It became clear to me that leaving corporate jobs for good could not only free up my own personal time, but also potentially increase my income! I am much more productive overall when left to my own devices than I ever was when I was restricted by the constraints of a corporate job.

Tips to Being a Successful P.I.T.A

As a life-long P.I.T.A, I have learned quite a few tips, tricks, and lessons about success along the way. Some of these are:

  • Think outside of the box
  • Increase your problem-solving skills
  • Apply skills from previous jobs to new and unrelated fields
  • Never stop learning
  • Bust your ass at every job to prove that you can do anything
  • Keep lines of communication open with old co-workers, because you never know what future opportunities may lie there
  • Live your successful life — it’s different for everyone, so don’t let someone else determine what success looks like for you
  • Keep a budget and check it weekly
  • Don’t forget to save a little bit each week and put it into a high yield savings or retirement account

In Summary

Because I chose to live my life authentically, on my own terms, and in a way that I can be proud of, my income has the potential to be limitless. Every hour that I work is productive.

Therefore, I am able to work less hours and enjoy my life, while still continuing to learn and grow and increase my income. What a win-win! To me, this is the only way that I can live my life successfully. It took me a while to learn, but now there is no going back.

While being a P.I.T.A takes work, creativity, drive, and critical problem-solving skills, it is the only way that I get to live my life happily and successfully.

In what ways have you found being a P.I.T.A a good thing?

Read Across the Spectrum: Books by Autistic Authors

Great reads for parents of autistic kids! Books about autism by acutally Austistic authors.

It’s Friday, so it’s time for another edition of our Friday series for Autism Acceptance month! Acceptance means that not only are you aware of autism, but you appreciate all the beauty Autistic individuals bring to this world. You not only make yourself aware of the needless systemic obstacles Autistic people face because of the systems we have in place–you actively work to change those systems.

The awesome thing about this is that you don’t have to–nor should you–take my word for it. Instead, you can turn to people who are Autistic themselves. These talented writers and authors will show you the world through their lenses, across nonfiction, self-help and sci-fi literature.

Non-Fiction

The ABCs of Autism AcceptanceThe ABCs of Autism Acceptance

by Sparrow Rose Jones
Get it here.

“Sparrow Rose Jones is probably best known for their blog, Unstrange Mind: Remapping My World, and their previous book, No You Don’t: Essays from an Unstrange Mind, both of which deftly narrate their examination of themself, their identity as an Autistic person, and the  changing state of access and civil rights for Autistic people. Their essays have covered everything from famous civil rights and criminal cases in the media to sexuality and relationships, life skills, coping mechanisms, and personal introspection.

In The ABCs of Autism Acceptance, Sparrow takes us through a guided tour of the topics most central to changing the way that autism is perceived, to remove systemic barriers to access that have traditionally been barriers to Autistic participation in some sectors of society.

They also take us through the basics of Autistic culture, discussing many of its major features and recent developments with a sense of history and making the current state of the conversation around this form of neurodivergence clear to those who are new to it, whether they are Autistic themselves or a friend/family member looking for resources to help themselves support the Autistic people in their lives more fully. While it is impossible to capture the full scope and diversity of Autistic communities—and there are many of them out there—this book does serve as an important conversation starter, a primer, and a humble guide to the world.

In these 26 short essays, you will find most of the topics most often blogged about by Actually Autistic authors, including footnotes, resources, and references to other writers whose works continue the conversations that start here.”

The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic Children

The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic ChildrenEdited by Michelle Sutton
Get a copy here.

“How do I help my child to thrive? To be healthy and happy, to fulfill his or her positive potentials, and to grow up to lead a good life? Every parent of an autistic child struggles daily with this question. Just trying to understand an autistic child’s actions, feelings, and needs can seem like an overwhelming challenge. It doesn’t help that professional “experts” and the mass media bombard us with all sorts of harmful and terrifying misinformation about autism.

Fortunately, more and more parents are discovering an essential source of insight into autism: the writings of autistic adults. Who better to help us understand autistic children and their needs, than the people who have actually been autistic children?

Listening to the insights and experiences shared by autistic bloggers has helped Michelle Sutton to help her two autistic children to thrive. In The Real Experts , Michelle has collected writings from a dozen autistic authors, containing “insider” wisdom on autism that has been invaluable to her family. The result is an extraordinary resource for families with autistic children, and also for educators, therapists, and other professionals.”

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking


Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking
by Julia Bascom

Get it here.

“Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking is a collection of essays written by and for Autistic people. Spanning from the dawn of the Neurodiversity movement to the blog posts of today, Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking catalogues the experiences and ethos of the Autistic community and preserves both diverse personal experiences and the community’s foundational documents together side by side.”

Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness

Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness

by Melanie Yergeau
Get it here.

“In Authoring Autism Melanie Yergeau defines neurodivergence as an identity—neuroqueerness—rather than an impairment. Using a queer theory framework, Yergeau notes the stereotypes that deny autistic people their humanity and the chance to define themselves while also challenging cognitive studies scholarship and its reification of the neurological passivity of autistics. She also critiques early intensive behavioral interventions—which have much in common with gay conversion therapy—and questions the ableist privileging of intentionality and diplomacy in rhetorical traditions.

Using storying as her method, she presents an alternative view of autistic rhetoricity by foregrounding the cunning rhetorical abilities of autistics and by framing autism as a narrative condition wherein autistics are the best-equipped people to define their experience. Contending that autism represents a queer way of being that simultaneously embraces and rejects the rhetorical, Yergeau shows how autistic people queer the lines of rhetoric, humanity, and agency. In so doing, she demonstrates how an autistic rhetoric requires the reconceptualization of rhetoric’s very essence.”

Fiction

Monsters in My Mind

Monsters in My Mindby Ada Hoffmann
Get it here.

“Ada Hoffmann’s MONSTERS IN MY MIND anthologizes 49 pieces of the author’s speculative fiction and poetry published between 2010 and 2017, including ten new, never-before-seen pieces. The author’s range is on full display in this collection: the 49 works alternate among traditional short stories, flash fiction, microfiction, poetry, and prose poems, creating a rhythm and flow to the collection as a whole and uniting stories with otherwise multitudinous and divergent content. Much of the work is suitable for readers of all ages, although it is worth noting that several stories deal frankly with issues of gender, queerness, sexuality, grief, and loss. Every piece in the collection constructs an immediate and effortless world whose rules are self-evident, although rarely explicit, plunging the reader again and again into an ever-expanding literary multiverse.

When it comes to themes, MONSTERS IN MY MIND spans the speculative fiction universe, demonstrating that the genre itself is bound only by the limits of the human imagination, and that its “raw materials” continually reemerge, shift, act, and process in ways few can articulate. The collection is not merely “weird,” as so much speculative fiction is; it is weird in the best ways, weird in the service of, and underscoring the true expansive potential of, the human. By exploring deeply human experiences like loss, grief, duty, love, courage, and loneliness within the context of parallel universes, fantasy quests, reimagined fairytales, near-sentient AI, velociraptors, and the occasional cephalopod, the collection creates a form of access for the reader: a way to approach, understand, and even befriend the monsters in one’s own mind through the exploration of worlds that are vividly different, yet achingly familiar.

The collection is essential reading for anyone interested in speculative fiction, the shifting boundaries of more “traditional” science fiction and fantasy genres, queer theory, or monster studies.”

All the Weight of Our Dreams All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism

by Autism Women’s Network
Get it here.

“Delve into poetry, essays, short fiction, photography, paintings, and drawings in the first-ever anthology entirely by autistic people of color, featuring 61 writers and artists from seven countries. The work here represents the lives, politics, and artistic expressions of Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, Mixed-Race, and other racialized and people of color from many autistic communities, often speaking out sharply on issues of marginality, intersectionality, and liberation.”

This Other World

This Other Worldby A.C. Buchanan
Get it here.

“When her son reached adulthood, Vonika made the decision to emigrate to Kami, settling in the nation of Temia. In the years since, she’s married a Temian woman, established a distinguished career in architecture, and found the sense of belonging that she, as an autistic woman, struggled to find on Earth.

But the approach of old age brings decisions that Vonika knows she can’t avoid forever. And as Temia teeters on the edge of war, Vonika finds herself a reluctant emissary for peace.”

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