Wooden table with white mug that has a floral pattern. the mug is filled with wild flowers and it’s a gorgeous day with lots of green folliage in the background

Mini-NonFic Monday: Not A Horrible Day

CN: Implied suicidal ideation Genre: Nonfiction

This isn’t a horrible day. There have been many, but not today. I don’t feel horrible, things don’t appear horrible, and the absence of horriblenesses gives me hope.

Hope has been something that I’ve constantly lived for. But hope slipped away from me last year. And I almost slipped away from Planet Earth as a result.

But then another Not Horrible day happened when dozens of folks told me that I mattered. Then I wanted to stay and live for the other less horrible days ahead of me.

Like today.

I like dwelling in an absence of horribleness.

It’s nice here.

I think will make it a play day.

For who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Gonna hope for the best though.

But for now, I will enjoy myself.

Not A Horrible Day © 2023 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too. 

Featured photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com.

seashore under white and blue sky during sunset

The freedom that comes from saying, “I can’t.”

CN: Mentions of mental illness, ableism, disability symptoms, and toxic environments

As a person who manages a chronic pain and fatigue disability, I’ve had to constantly “push through” my discomfort in order to have any semblance of a life. Sometimes I have aids like my mobility device to make things much easier on me, but even then, a rollator cannot take away my fatigue, pain, or complex post-traumatic syndrome disorder (cPTSD).

We disabled people are often subject to incredibly annoying and frankly obnoxious inspiration-porn stories about “overcoming.” Someone overcomes their mental illness or disability or whatnot and then this line is hurled at us: “So, what’s your excuse?”

My excuse, buddy, is shut the eff up.

Disabled people are not put on Earth to inspire you. Sorry to burst that bubble. And we are not a monolith. There is diversity of disabled experiences, even within the same disability. So maybe just try learning a thing about our community instead of telling us to suck it up. Because one of these days, we will collaborate and construct a high-tech yeet machine and have you visit the sun.

But back to my reality of “pushing through.” When one lives with a chronic condition, the line gets blurred about when one should just stop an activity or back away if a situation is causing one harm. It’s so easy to tolerate more mental and physical burden than I should because hey, it’s something I always do, right?

Except under no circumstances should I subject myself to further harm of my bodymind. I need to train my brain to act sooner.

There are so many “motivational” memes about saying “I can” to things, we forget the power of “I can’t.” We forget the freedom that “I can’t” brings.

Put up with gaslighting? I can’t.

Put up with being overly scheduled? I can’t.

Put up with a toxic environment? I can’t.

Put up with anyone or anything causing me harm? I can’t.

When I declare the “I can’t,” I’m really saying, “I won’t.” I use the word can’t because in my brain, it means, “I cannot allow that anymore.”

And when I act on the “I can’t,” a huge weight is lifted from my shoulders.

I tend to be someone who is a helper. That’s my nature. I’m told time and time again in therapy to remember to put myself first once in a while and not deny myself the things that bring me peace and joy. I’m a freelance editor and while I love making books shiny, I have to save time for my own writing. I am an author too. Writing stories is one of the most important salves that soothes my mental illness. In fact, I wrote The Stealth Lovers during a year of constant panic attacks, and it doesn’t read that way at all. It’s funny. And that’s because when I write, it’s like a protective dome drops over me that blocks out my stresses, and I just live in my world-building for a time. Speculative fiction is a godsend for me.

I have dedicated over a year to the Nothing Without Us Too anthology, which I love to pieces and am gobsmacked by the talent of our contributing authors. However, my writing got put on hold. So, while I am thrilled to promo this wonderful collection, I have to make my own works a priority.

So, “I can’t” create a work-life where there’s no space for my creativity.

Social media (SM) has offered me the chance to connect with so many wonderful folks, especially in the disability and neurodivergent communities. The ability to use SM and messaging to chat with people is an accessible form of getting together, which has saved my life during this pandemic era. But, as many of you know, SM can really mess with your mental health. I also think because I am autistic, I cannot be pummelled by too many opinions at once. It’s really difficult for my brain to parse through all that, and it becomes too much.

So, I can’t continue doomscrolling or even staying online for too long. I have to reconsider how to use it and who I want to follow.

Publishing has opened doors for me these past six-plus years. It’s been one helluva adventure. And again, I have met so many humans who have enriched my life. Have I ever learned so many things! Attending conferences and participating in and sometimes moderating panels have offered such an opportunity to grow, network, and make friends who share a love for books! Yet, sadly, in every circle, there can be people who maybe aren’t so healthy to be around, or who are outright hurtful.

So, I can’t align myself with publishing folks whose attitudes don’t lift others up or whose egos and entitled behaviour get in the way of creating a thriving and inclusive community.

In conclusion, saying “I can’t” is kind of awesome.

I highly recommend it.

My wish is for you to give it a whirl as you reflect upon your own life.

I bet you can!

(See what I did there?)

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too.

Featured header photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Scraps of brown and black fabric, a pallet and small brush, a brown marker, and purple clay all resting on a beige desk blotter

How Cosplaying a Barbie as Reva Sevander is Helping Me Through Childhood Trauma

CN: mentions of mental health, violence against children, trauma

I’m 53 years old. Recently, I’ve experienced a triggering that brought me back right into the scene of events that were supremely not okay when I was a teenager. So, in case anyone tries to gaslight you with “Oh, that happened so long ago, why are you holding onto the past?” I’m here to say, “Sometimes the past holds onto you, and you don’t even know it.”

When childhood trauma comes to the forefront, it’s like I forget what age I am. I forget I am safe, loved, supported. Instead, I am hurled against my will right back into the tastes, smells (all the senses, really) of the horrible memory or event.

I am in therapy and have been for years, but this past week, I needed to pull the emergency break on the train of my life and schedule another session. (I had had a session the week before and I usually am okay with attending once a month.)

One of the things we concluded is that I should just focus on whatever I’d like to right now. A fun show, crafts, whatever draws me. Well, I had sort of a frenzied craft day the next day after therapy, but then I slowed down and focused on one thing in particular.

I am am a Massive Star Wars Nerd™. And I absolutely loved the Obi-Wan Kenobi series. There was so much mental health representation in it. My mentally-ill self and geeky self merged together to enjoy the heck out of the writing and acting.

Spoilery things!

A featured “villain” I never expected was Reva Sevander, played brilliantly by Moses Ingram as an adult and Ayaamii Sledge as a child. This Third Sister of the Jedi-hunters (Inquisitorius) was ruthless, skilled beyond belief, and even way more intense than the other Inquisitors. They were constantly reprimanding her for going too far. She was one fiercely angry woman.

But then we find out that Reva had been one of the youngling Jedi a decade earlier who had survived the slaughtering of all the other younglings by Anakin Skywalker, when he turned to the Dark Side. If I understand correctly, she might have been the only survivor.

And as an adult, Reva behaved like she had zero allies. She trusted herself only in her single-minded mission to hunt Jedi (who she probably all blamed for letting her and the younglings down) and Darth Vader, who was the murderer.

That’s a lot to carry.

Well, long story short, by the end, she decides not to kill ten-year-old Luke Skywalker, and you can see she’s just exhausted. You can tell the burden of carrying that trauma nearly killed her. And she wonders aloud what to do next.

So, I decided to do a visual fanfic of Reva, after Obi-Wan tells her she’s free. And this is what I imagined.

My cosplayed Barbie. Reva has medium brown skin, thin braids pulled into gathered hair behind her back. She’s dressed in brown and black and has a purple lightsaber. Beside her is a little brown puppy with cream face and chest.

With this outfit, she’s embracing the Jedi she wanted to be as a child but also owning the person she had to become to survive as Third Sister. She wears brown for the Jedi part and black for the Third Sister part. I thought perhaps she would reconfigure the crystal in her lightsaber so it’s purple. A combination of the blue and red. Also, in my head, this woman is just as skilled or more so than Mace Windu, who used to wield a purple saber too. I also figure she doesn’t align herself with anyone except the force-sensitive kids she henceforth chooses to protect. This is the path I picture for her.

Fun fact: I created this Reva from one of the Barbie Extra Fashionista dolls and kept the little judgmental puppy. Reva deserves a puppy. I mean, look at that side-eye!

Closeup of the brown and cream puppy. His glance is to the side, looking quite suspicious of something,

I know I never experienced the extreme event Reva went through, but just pondering about embracing the child and the survivor in her while I made this doll over helped me own myself a little more. And it’s important that no matter what age I become, I remember to nurture the younger side of myself and accept that trauma never really goes away. But I have more power to get to a safer space now, so I will be cared for as I process it. I have power to be open and hopefully influence others to be open too. I am an advocate for mental health, disability, and neurodiversity in literary circles. I am surrounded by loving friends.

I will be okay. Maybe not right at this second, but I will be.

But yeah, as I always say, never ever ever underestimate the power of fiction to reach people.

Greyscale closeup of Cait Gordon, a white woman with short silver hair, glasses, and a dark v-neck t-shirt

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is the Mental Health Representation I Really Need Right Now

Note: Kinda sorta spoilery.

So, I am “I was a child when A New Hope came out” years old. I have been a massive Star Wars fan all of my life and a proudly self-labelled Star Wars Nerd. As an adult, I manage complex post traumatic syndrome (cPTSD), anxiety, and depression. My mental illness has been pushed to the outer rim during this pandemic too.

How do my geekness and my mental health make an unexpected pairing right now? Well, episodes one and two of Obi-Wan Kenobi dropped last week, and I could not have predicted their content for anything. Especially the state of Obi-Wan himself. I deeply felt the isolation and monotony his life had become, the rejection, the persecution, and the alienation from anything to do with his previous life when the Jedi council was alive. He was alone, he had night terrors, he felt hopeless and not like the person he used to be. He basically erased himself from himself. It wasn’t that he was merely hiding undercover to watch over ten-year-old Luke. He truly believed he was powerless.

Holy crap, I thought. Obi-Wan is depressed! He’s got PTSD!

I mean, of course he does! He’s been through the works, lost people he loved, and assumed he killed Anakin, his best friend who had been like a brother to him.

I was blown away by this writing choice because far too often, characters in SFF who seem larger than life tend to shake things off like Wile E. Coyote does an anvil to the skull. Obi-Wan’s mental health matters here, really matters to the story. It also matters to the viewers, folks who might be dealing with their own mental health, such as people who have had to remain isolated or whose lives have changed dramatically because of the ongoing pandemic. But even for reasons other than the pandemic, mental health issues exist. And I bet dollars to donuts that young fans who are depressed could think, “Hey, even a Jedi can feel the way I do. I’m not a freak!” It can be so powerful to see yourself in your fiction heroes. Sometimes transformative!

Now, I can write an entire blog on WEE LEIA!!! But it’s also interesting to me how she might be set up as a catalyst in Obi-Wan’s life. Maybe to provoke self-reflection. Maybe for him to remember who he is. In my life, I have always had those people run interference against my negative self-perception, and many times, they have no idea they’re meeting a need in me. Sometimes a person can randomly express how they view you, and it prompts you to remember yourself.

We know where Obi-Wan gets to in A New Hope, but I feel it’s really important for us to see him in a bad place mentally. It’s real, even in a galaxy far, far away.

I must say a great big thank you to the writers for taking this direction and to Ewan McGregor, who portrays this state of being so well, even wordlessly. It really came across to this space opera author who always wants to see more disability and mental health rep in SFF.

Seriously. Thank you.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is currently streaming weekly on Disney+. Content note: Episode One’s intro shows a flashback where children padawans and their teacher are running from Stormtroopers shooting at them.

ID: Headshot. Aqua background. Cait Gordon is a white woman with short silver hair and who is wearing teal metal-rimmed glasses and a navy blue V-neck T-Shirt

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, The Stealth Loversand Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Her short stories appear in Alice Unbound: Beyond WonderlandWe Shall Be Monsters, Space Opera Libretti, and Stargazers: Microtales from the Cosmos. Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too anthologies, whose authors and protagonists are disabled, d/Deaf, Blind or visually impaired, neurodivergent, Spoonie, and/or they manage mental illness. 

#CaitTacklesTBRPile—Sad, Black, and Fat: Musings from the Intersection by Tangela Williams-Spann

I love discovering new authors through Twitter writing chats. That’s how I met Tangela Williams-Spann. When she had put a call out to podcasters a few weeks ago, I let her know I was interested in interviewing her! I was so happy when she accepted, and the plan is to have Tangela Williams-Spann as a guest for S2 of In the ’Cosm, coming this fall!

But not only did I want to do the interview because this author is a lovely human, Williams-Spann also wrote a book with a title I could not ignore—Sad, Black, and Fat: Musings from the Intersection. As I began to read the eARC, I was immediately taken in:

I know mental health is taboo in the Black community.

I’m hoping that my honesty helps to normalize talking about mental health with Black folks.

Tangela Williams-Spann, Introduction chapter

Sad, Black, and Fat is a collection of short personal essays and poems about Williams-Spann’s lived experiences with managing mental health, being a Black woman, and balancing weight for health reasons while staying body positive. As the full title implies, Williams-Spann also shows the intersections between these lived experiences.

As a reader, I felt the way you do when a friend trusts you with their diary. Williams-Spann lets us partake in her strengths and vulnerabilities throughout her non-fiction storytelling, even giving us an idea what going through the preparation and aftermath of bariatric surgery was like for her. (Btw, William-Spann’s spouse seems like a really nice guy, but when I read that he ate a bacon cheeseburger in front of her as she was prepping with a liquid diet, I shouted aloud, “DUDE!”)

Even though the author doesn’t ignore ugly truths, Williams-Spann somehow always bring us to a place of hope, in how she presses on while self-checking when to pause.

Not allowing your feelings the space to exist is a form of self-harm in my mind.

Tangela Williams-Spann, The Floor Isn’t Lava

I always tend to cheer when fellow authors who manage mental illness aren’t afraid to “go there.” The candour throughout this work is so refreshing.

I highly recommend this book and admire the author even more than I did before I read it. You can learn more about Tangela Williams-Spann by following her author website and connecting with her on Twitter!

Book cover description: A cartoon of a Black woman with her hair up in an orange band is wearing a teal sweater with an aqua collar, aqua tights, and a burgundy skirt with orange shoes. She is fat and appears to be sad. She is standing in the middle of an empty 4-way intersection. There are people  on sidewalks on each side of the street behind her.
This book is available for preorder and will be released on August 5, 2021! Look for it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers!

Greyscale headshot of Cait Gordon wearing a dark shirt.

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate for the written word who is trying to tackle her TBR pile during a pandemic!

Cait is also the author of humorous space opera novels Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers, and she is the co-editor of the Prix Aurora Award nominated anthology Nothing Without Us. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Her latest new adventure is hosting the In the ’Cosm podcast, which is really an excuse to gush over creative humans she admires.

DisArts and Mental Health

This year has been a roller coaster of awesome and awful. But the awesome is so far winning out! One thing that has been cool is how I’ve been able to virtually attend and participate in writers conferences, and another is being interviewed.

Last week, Derek Newman-Stille asked me questions about DisArts, which is art that is created by disabled artists and is an integral part of Disabled culture. They (Derek, I mean) asked me if I thought DisArts is the same as art therapy. I responded that while I believe art can be cathartic, DisArts is really about telling a story.

And this week, I lived out that response.

I go to therapy for my mental health on a monthly or so basis. It’s really important for me to have a psychotherapist as part of my Cait Maintenance Team. There’s a lot going on in this brain, and I often say it “feels full” at times. But one thing I also deal with is agoraphobia.

Now, the cosmic joke here is that in late February 2020, I told myself that I really want to focus on dealing with my agoraphobia. Little did I know two weeks later, everything would be shut down. And even today, my and my husband’s routine hasn’t altered from March because I’m very high risk.

So… um… well…

Fast forward to now. October is a complex month for me to get out because the weather affects my fibromyalgia. But there are also other factors that keep me inside (apart from COVID). My neighbourhood is very sparsely populated when it comes to walking outside, so I still feel it’s super easy to keep socially distant while taking a roll down the streets. (I use a rollator to walk.)

But something has been holding me back. At my last therapy session, we discussed my unwillingness to leave the house. My therapist is aware of my creativity and how I’m a spec fic author, so she encouraged me to try to break down the reasons why I can’t go out into characters. Immediately, I said, “I can draw this!”

Quick aside: I bought an iPad Pro 2020 and Apple Pencil. They feel like assistive tech for my hands. I used to draw all the time when I was younger, and even though I’m rusty, it’s euphoric to be able to draw again!

Back to the topic. I envisioned myself as the superhero of my own life, and imagined four supervillains who are out to prevent me from doing the things I enjoy. In order to draw the characters, I also needed to ponder their narratives. What was cool about this is that I ended up telling myself the story of what these issues mean to me as I experience them:

A woman with purple skin that shoots orange flame out of all the fibro pressure points. Even her hair is blue flame.
Fibromyalgia. She wields flame from all the pressure points and wants to prevent me from moving. Her skin is purple, which symbolizes bruising (and purple is the official ribbon colour of fibromyalgia), and her hair is blue flame. She never stops attacking.
A woman with short grey frizzy hair is dressed in a red leotard with a yellow belt that is sparking at the diaphram. Her right hand is on her mouth and her left hand is indicating me to   stop. Her boots look like grey concrete.
Anxiety. She’s both pale and flushed. She plants doubt and tries to stop me. Her red uniform symbolizes Alert Status Red. Her boots are concrete, which make me feel like I can’t step forward.
A bald white woman dressed in orange and ochre has firey sparks  emanating from her head. Her hands are reaching for her scalp.
Sensory Overload. Her powers are to emphasize visual and audio noise and touch to the point where I’m overwhelmed to do anything but flee. Orange is her colour because it feels like mental fires going off in my brain. Often Sensory Overload teams up with Fibromyalgia and Anxiety.
This sketch is all in blue . A blue- skinned woman appears to be fast asleep under a huge blue clouds. She almost looks dead, she’s so still.
Lethargy. She appears the most passive, but she’s extremely powerful. She puts my world in monochrome and makes me feel like there’s no point even trying, so I might as well sleep under the dark clouds. Lethargy works closely with Fibromyalgia to give me severe fatigue.

To be able to use DisArts as a way for me to understand what’s holding me back feels like a wonderful method for working through a challenge. And even though these supervillains represent really serious issues that impact my life, they are a visual cue to help me understand where my brain is at when faced with going outside. I’ve actually printed these drawings out and hung them on my fridge. The unexpected effect of them is that they cheer me up, because they are art I created myself, and I feel motivated to carry through with my exercise of dealing with my agoraphobia.

Because it’s true; I do feel like these supervillains are the actors that keep me from getting out. And next time I try to leave my house, if I feel held back, I will look at these women and ask myself who is teaming up against me.

Some days, they might win the battle, but I will win in the end…

…because I’m SuperCait. Ha!

(But no capes! A cape would only get caught in my wheels anyway.)

CaitG Headshot

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to pummel that curve!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology (a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist for Best Related Work) in an attempt to take over the world.

ID: Book cover of Nothing Without Us and the Aurora Award Nominee logo

Nothing Without Us is a Prix Aurora Award Nominee! [UPDATED]

IMPORTANT NEWS! The voters’ reading package is now available for Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA) members! If you become a member now (membership is $10 per year), you can download the works of the nominees! Voting will take place between June 20 and July 25, 2020 (11:59:59 EDT). Don’t forget to vote for your favourite works and creatives. And if you’d like to vote for Nothing Without Us, we’re in the Best Related Work category! Go to the CSFFA website to learn how to become a member! (You must be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident.)

My co-editor (and BFF) Kohenet Talia C. Johnson and myself were just gobsmacked, then boingy, to discover Nothing Without Us had been nominated for a Prix Aurora Award in the Best Related Work category. We are so grateful to our amazing authors and all the supporters of this anthology. It means so much to know that our peers recognize how important it is for creatives who are disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness to write protagonists who reflect their identities. So often disabled characters—written by non-disabled authors—are set off to the side (if mentioned at all) and are crafted using harmful tropes. That’s why it’s very encouraging to know this work is supported by the speculative fiction writing community.

So, thanks times a billionty to all those who nominated the anthology! You are all on my list of wonderful humans!

Congratulations to all! The ballot looks stupendous this year!

Okay, I still need to go bounce up and down for a bit. Stay safe and keep well!

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to pummel that curve!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology (now a 2020 Prix Aurora Award nominee) in an attempt to take over the world.

My review: Run J Run is a “Read Now!” Read

Book cover: Two men are running on a bridge under a red sky. Text reads: Su Sokol, Run J Run. "Marvellous, compelling, and vital." Arshad Kahn

After I finished this book, I just sat still, gobsmacked. It was incredible. And though I absolutely loved Su Sokol’s, Cycling to Asylum, Run J Run will stay with me a very long time.

What I find extremely important about this work is that it starts with a content warning:

The following material contains discussions of self-harm, suicide attempts and ideation, childhood physical and sexual abuse, racialized and police violence.

Content warning from Run J Run

And here’s the synopsis:

Jeremy, a high school English teacher coming to grips with a shattered marriage and haunted by the brother he lost, unexpectedly falls in love with his best friend, Zak. Attractive, wildly unconventional, and happy in an open relationship with his partner Annie, Zak seems to embody everything missing from Jeremy’s life, but when the arrest and death of a marginalized student at the Brooklyn high school where they both teach trigger Zak’s mental breakdown and slow descent, Jeremy and Annie are compelled to cross boundaries, both external and internal, in a desperate attempt to save him.

Back matter of Run J Run by Su Sokol (Renaissance)

So, yes, there are a lot of intense themes in Run J Run, but even though subject matter like this is often difficult for me to watch or read, I felt that Sokol crafted the lives of these characters in a way that made me actively care for their well being, and I wanted to find out everything about them. This book also has erotic scenes woven into the storyline, but in my opinion, I felt they shaped both the story and the character arcs.

Quite often, writing characters with complex mental illnesses is done poorly, using harmful tropes. Not so with this work. It is so heavily nuanced; the characters are anything but one dimensional, and the representation of a polyamorous relationship goes so much deeper. Sokol truly underscores the reality of what it’s like for partners to want to keep their loved one from suffering while not sacrificing the untamed nature of who he really is. Annie, Zak, and J are so believable in their interactions. I just found myself empathizing with each of their points of view and hoping for all three of them when things seemed hopeless.

Every scene is so richly crafted, every emotion palatable. I felt like I was right there, drawn into in every scene. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Run J Run is currently available in e-book and paperback from Presses Renaissance Press.

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.

Book cover of Nothing Without Us: A russet brick wall with faded tan, aqua, white, and yellow paint. Spray-painted in bold are the words Nothing Without Us.

Nothing Without Us is included in a book review about authentic disability representation!

What a lovely thing it is to wake up to a Facebook chat where my BFF (Talia C. Johnson) is telling Nathan Fréchette (Renaissance) and me that there’s an article in NewCityLit zine that mentions Nothing Without Us: Four Disability Anthologies That Are Actually Authentic: A Review of “About Us,” “Firsts,” “Nothing Without Us” and “Defying Doomsday”

‘There’s something for everyone in these twenty-two stories that range the gamut from satirical to thrilling and suspenseful.’

Robert Kingett, author and journalist

To be recognized for our authenticity really matters to me. I might be a feisty disability advocate, but most of my advocacy is to boost creatives who identify as disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and/or those who manage mental illness. There are so many of us in WriterWorldLand, too. It was a pleasure for Talia and me to bring these 22 stories for everyone to enjoy.

What an honour to be included in a list with three other stellar works! Much thanks to Robert Kingett for boosting our collection. (Please consider reading and sharing the full article).

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.


Choosing ‘The Funny’ While Managing Anxiety

It’s amazing to me how people who deal with mental illness can be stigmatized as being weak, ’cause I’m like, Really? Really, doods? Do you actually have the teensiest clue what it’s like?  I manage OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) impulses and anxiety. It wasn’t enough for me to have chronic neuropathy throughout my body. I wanted a mental illness, too, for shits and giggles.

Working through physical disabilities is challenging and then some. Accessibility limitations, chronic pain with associated fatigue, and people saying the most ridiculous things to me as “possible cures” are all part of my regularly scheduled life. However, as difficult as those things are, for me the mental stuff feels way more like constantly lifting hand weights. It takes up so much of my capacity and spoons, and if I had to prioritize, it would often be my mental health over my physical comforts. That’s just me, though.

But today I want to talk about the most common word people use to describe me: funny. I make people laugh. It’s my jam. I’ve chosen to be a humour author as my career. Even when I write serious themes, I always bring it back to something to chuckle about. Why? Probably because (1) I love doing that and (2) if I didn’t go to the whacky place, I’d not still be alive today.

Oscar Wilde said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” I would probably lie in that gutter and make up goofy stories about a couple of the stars. Meet Blinky and Twinkles, two star-crossed lovers, who find that expression a bit odd since they’ve not moved from their orbits in five billion lightyears . . .


Now I need to do a flash fiction about Blinky and Twinkles.

I wrote Life in the ’Cosm while in a great deal of physical pain. I’m now writing The Stealth Lovers, a prequel, while having to go through therapy after an unspeakably horrible 2017. Last month I had a terrible day with debilitating anxiety, and I remember taking out my laptop to write a chapter in The Stealth Lovers. Oh, I was a mess that day. Writing often soothes me, though, so that’s why I’d chosen that activity. A few days later, I reread the new chapter . . . and laughed my butt off. I said aloud, “How the hay did I make it that funny? I remember how badly I’d felt!”

The mind is sort of a miraculous thing. It let me bypass the PTSD that overtook me and led me to a spot in my brain where I could escape to be ludicrous. You’d never guess the state I was in that day by reading the words on the page. And you know what? That alone made me feel damn proud.

Somehow, someway, I can still choose to be funny. Heck, I’m sorta funny even when I’m in therapy—not as a way of covering up what I have to say, but because I tend to find humour even in the worst situations. I still get my point across so I can be treated, but I just express myself in this creative fashion.

Mental illness is weakness? Yeah, that doesn’t compute for me. We have to be strong AF to function at our best potential. And you know, meeting with a medical professional who’s a virtual stranger and admitting your deepest secrets so you can get better takes a shitload of guts. Wanting to care for one’s mental health is probably also one of the most intelligent moves anyone can make. There’s nothing feeble about any of it. Badass warriors, we are. One of these days, I’ll paint myself in woad. (But I’ll spare the world seeing me naked. Yeah, you’re welcome.)

We’ve seen it’s not uncommon for comedians who are completely hysterical to have come from tragic or difficult circumstances. Or, they can be people who deal with mental illness. Robin Williams, my all-time favourite, battled with severe illness and demons. But I celebrate him for all the times he chose the funny. Because he chose the funny, he gave himself a reprieve and some joy, and then gave us treasured memories for a lifetime. Gosh, I miss him. (Why does it always feel like it’s still “too soon” when it comes to talking about Robin Williams?)

Whatever battles you might face, I hope you can find the support you need with medical intervention and great people who have your back. Then I hope you can find the funny, whether you write it yourself, listen to it, watch it, or binge-read it. There’s something about the funny that’s like nectar for the soul.

Dont you find?


Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a story about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague. Cait is currently working on a prequel to ’Cosm called The Stealth Lovers, a rom-com military space opera. When she’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts for indie authors and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors are writers with disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also really likes cake.