Call For Submissions and Guest Editor Announcement for Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber

The Editors

We are happy to announce the editors for the second volume in the Spoon Knife Anthology series.

Dani Alexis Ryskamp is an editor and the Legal Coordinator for Autonomous Press and the author of “My Mother GLaDOS,” which appears in The Spoon Knife Anthology.  Her research on neurodivergence and poetry also appears in The Hilltop Review.  She actually wrote her own contributor bio for this post, which is a first.

Sam Harvey  is a graduate student in rhetoric and professional communication at Saint Cloud State University.  He begins his Ph.D. work in rhetoric and professional communication at Iowa State University in Fall 2016.  Sam is also the author of “Journey to Self-Love in a Culture Demanding Self-Hate,” which appears in The Spoon Knife Anthology. He is feeling very odd writing his own bio and is going to proceed to go hide now.

The Call for Submissions

We are seeking submissions of poetry, fiction, and memoir for Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber.  This book will be the second in the series, following The Spoon Knife Anthology, released in March 2016 by NeuroQueer books.  As part of the NeuroQueer family, Spoon Knife 2 focuses on neurodivergence and disability as they intersect and interact with queer issues.  This includes queering disability and neurodivergence, as well as discussing how neurodivergence functions or fits with other aspects of a queer identity.

The phrase “test chamber” may be read in myriad ways: as an adjective + noun denoting a place (“the subject was placed in the test chamber”), as an imperative verb + direct object (“to find weakness, test (the) chamber”), as a compound verb (“test-chamber a round to check that your slide isn’t jammed”), and others not imagined here.  These meanings are dynamic.  That is, they coexist, interact, change, and complicate one another in various ways.

For the second volume in the Spoon Knife series, we seek to feature works that focus on one or more of the meanings of “test chamber” as it/they relate to neurodivergence, disability, and/or queer issues.  What does it mean to be inside (or outside) the “test chamber”?  To test the chamber?  To test-chamber or to be test-chambered?  More importantly, how do we approach the boundaries of neurodivergence, queerness, or both in a way that questions, subverts, blurs, or even embraces them – forcing ourselves and others to question the existence or permanence of the “test chamber” itself?

Or, if you prefer an alternate way in: play Portal.  Write accordingly.

While we will consider any submissions that are on-topic and we do wish to solicit voices from a broad range of neurodivergent and disabled perspectives, preference will be given to authors who clearly identify as neuroqueer and whose work demonstrates a neuroqueer point of view.

Length and Format

Fiction and Memoir: 10,000 words or less of fully-polished prose, submitted in standard manuscript format (title page with contact info, double-spaced Times New Roman 12-point font, pages numbered with either title or author’s name in the header.)

Poetry: Up to 5 pieces of any length and style, provided they use the prompt above as a touchstone.

All submissions need to be in a Word-compatible format (.doc, .docx, .odt).

Deadline and Terms

Submissions are due by Monday, August 22, 2016.  Authors will be notified of their acceptance or rejection no later than October 15, 2016.  Please include a cover letter that makes it clear exactly how you are to be credited – we will reproduce these exactly, including punctuation and spacing.  We will also need a 3-4 sentence bio for the contributors.

Submission email:

Please put “Spoon Knife 2” and the genre (poetry, fiction, or memoir) in the subject to help us distinguish between anthology submissions and book proposals.  Thank you!

Like its predecessors, Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber is a funded anthology.  Precise payment details will be available shortly.

Presales, Overstock and Changes at the Company

Hi everybody! Michael here, but I’m no longer your loyal leader of the NeuroQueer Books imprint. Nope. I got the thing up and running, but I’ve been saving a seat for my good friend and longtime editor (through Barking Sycamores, the journal that takes most of my work), N.I. Nicholson. My last act before moving behind the scenes to supervise our labor assignments and workflow on book production is going to be a good one, though: I’m giving you a sale, some pre-sales, and a song. First, the song, which celebrates everything I got into publishing to do:


AutPress Direct Overstock Sale

We do a lot of events and because of that, we wind up sending a lot of books out to make sure we have inventory. Over time, the extras make their way back to the press store from our partners, and as a result, we can accidentally wind up overstocked. When that happens, we need to recoup our storage space and make sure our books make it out into the world, and we’re doing that with an overstock sale. From now until St. Patrick’s Day (just because), we’re offering 40% off on two of our titles: Corbett OToole’s Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History and Michael Scott Monje, Jr.’s Defiant.

Fading Scars, on display for saleFading Scarsif you have not encountered it yet, is a gripping, close-up autoethnography covering several important events in the history of disability rights, civil rights in the U.S., and disabled communities. It takes a close look at the way they have been constructed, the way research in disability studies impacts communities, and the way communities work to impact research that affects their lives. It is an important read for anyone who seeks to understand how the current landscape of the disability rights and disability justice movements came to be.

Defiant is part of my Shaping Clay series, alongside Nothing is Right and the soon-to-be Defiant Front Coverreleased Imaginary Friends. In it, we join Clay Dillon shortly after he finally receives his autism diagnosis–at the age of thirty. As he seeks to navigate a professional life that finds his labor marginalized and devalued and a personal life thrown into turmoil by the collision between disability and a lack of access to basic medical services, Clay’s body begins to remember other divergences, and to force them into the foreground of his personal development. On top of its careful examination of the ways that adjunctification and workplace access impact disabled populations in the United States, the novel also takes an unflinching look at the violence that transgender individuals perpetuate against themselves when they attempt to deny their own nature.

Pre-Orders for New Releases

On top of our inventory reduction sale, we are also offering presales with instant ebook delivery for our U.S. customers. Like with our other titles, international customers are welcome to purchase the ebooks as long as they have a valid payment method, but we can not ship abroad. This March, our new releases include two anthologies edited by our new NeuroQueer Books coordinating editor N.I. Nicholson, as well as my (Michael’s) newest novel, Imaginary Friends.

Barking Sycamores Year One front cover, featuring all 4 issue coversBarking Sycamores published its first issue in the spring of 2014 and from the beginning, it dedicated itself to providing a medium for neurodivergent voices in literature and art. In partnership with Autonomous Press’s NeuroQueer Books, the journal proudly presents its Year One anthology. Collected in this volume are its first four issues, first published online in 2014 and 2015.

FEATURING WORK BY: Sarah Akin, Mikey Allcock, Samm Almester, Amy Barlow Liberatore, Matthew Brown, Cathy Carlisi, Ellie Castellanos, Tasha Chemel, Deanna Christian, Robin Como, Allen Davis, Melissa DeHart, Heather Dorn, fayola, Leila Fortier, Kimberly Gerry Tucker, Jessica Goody, Elizabeth J. (Ibby) Grace, Michael Lee Johnson, Duane L. Herrmann, Madison Kallisti, Jillian Koopman, Thomas Krampf, Craig Kurtz, Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone, Chris McLean, Laura Merleau, David Mitchell, Michael Scott Monje Jr., N.I. Nicholson, A.J. Odasso, Emily Paige Ballou, Thomas Park, C.F. Roberty, Miss Roberts, Maranda Russell, Barbara Ruth, Giorgia Sage, Phillip Sroka, Lucas Scheelk, A.D. Stone, Bethany Tap, Jonathan Travelstead, Candy Waters, Angela Weddle, Christopher Wood-Robbins

Imaginary Friends cover featuring an armored helmet lying on its side and a lego skylineIn Imaginary Friends“The strange and terrible saga of Clay Dillon begins with the books Nothing Is Right and Imaginary Friends,and also includes Defiant (which takes place when Clay is 30 years old). The whole saga should be required reading for anyone who works in any capacity with the sort of young people who are often described asgifted, disturbed, troubled, oppositional, defiant, or exceptional…

In a way, Clay himself is an “imaginary friend” to the adults in his life, insofar as when they look at him they don’t see him but instead see an imaginary child, a product of their own misconceptions and projections who has no resemblance (except in the external physical sense) to the real Clay Dillon. Every adult in his life is consistently one hundred percent wrong, all of the time, about Clay’s motivations, needs, feelings, thoughts, and perceptions… They can imagine neither the extent and nature of his difficulties, nor the complexity and sophistication of his thinking.

In this respect, Imaginary Friends constitutes a warning to any adults – especially those in “helping” professions – who are so arrogant as to presume that they can truly understand the realities of their young charges.” – Nick Walker, from the Afterward to the book

Spoon Knife Cover Final art by Selene DePackhLast but definitely not least,  The Spoon Knife Anthology collects the work of over 25 authors, including Autonomous Press partners, disability studies scholars, established prose and poetry artists, and emerging storytellers from a variety of backgrounds. Together, these writers deliver a series of meditations on compliance and consent that are simultaneously intimate and alienating.

“This jewel of a collection had me crying, laughing in parts, and becoming outraged. I hope that everyone in the care-taking communities of medicine and mental health reads these rare and wonderful first hand accounts for their own education.”

– Judy Grahn, author of A Simple Revolution, Another Mother Tongue, and Love Belongs to Those Who Do the Feeling

We hope you enjoy them! And I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with some announcements about our June books! You can check out the pre-orders and the whole back catalogue at!

Michael Scott Monje, Jr.

Production Coordinator, Autonomous Press

What is a Spoon Knife? (+Contributor Roster)

On behalf of Michael and The Puzzlebox Collective, the Autonomous Press partnership would like to invite you to read the rest of the post with the benefit of a soundtrack. The embedded video is electronica (seizure sensitivity warning), but it is more in line with a World style than a heavy, warbly Dubstep beat. The visual is simply the band’s album cover art, a distorted logo, and their name, Laibach. The video should not autoplay.

From the Introduction to The Spoon Knife Anthology, “What is a Spoon Knife?” by Michael Scott Monje, Jr:

The first question I got from my partners and blogging friends when I started talking about spoon knives was “What is that?” Every one of them had heard about Christine Miserandino’s “The Spoon Theory,” of course, and they could tell I was referencing it, but none of them seemed to be familiar with traditional woodworking tools, because they didn’t see that reference or its connection to activist work. Not at first, at least. Once I posted some pictures of various spoon knives and the bowls they were used to carve, the idea caught fire. …

… [T]he spoon knife, that old woodworker’s companion that looks something like the tool it is used to make, only sharp and nasty and quick. A spoon knife is used to carve the bowl, which makes it curved, like a melon baller. It shaves away the unnecessary parts of the wood in layers, too, so it has to be sharp and strong, to keep slicing and slicing until it has peeled enough to make a depression in an otherwise smooth stick. It looks thin, like something made from an old beer can, but in a master’s hands, it rewards patience and precision.

If we’re keeping with our extended metaphor, though, then we still have to ask the question: What is a spoon knife? We know what our symbol does, but what in our community is capable of doing that thing—cutting away layers of what shouldn’t be there, to leave us with the ability to do more, reach further, and nourish ourselves more successfully. What looks thin and weak, but nonetheless digs deep channels into reality?

My belief is that the spoon knife is a story. For some, it’s an expression of solidarity that refills our emotional reserves even as it bolsters the morale of the one who offered support. For others, it might be an example that provides the cognitive scaffolding needed to get out of an abusive situation, or even just to recognize one in the first place. It’s also possible for it to be a confrontation, a reality that will not yield to our need until we learn to wield it and to control its damage with unwavering precision.

NeuroQueer Books is proud to present the roster for the first volume of The Spoon Knife Anthology.

You heard that right, folx. First volume. In a few months, you will see a call go up for next year’s edition, and it will be edited by Autonomous Press’s newest partner, Dani Alexis Ryskamp. She currently blogs at Autistic Academic and manages NeuroQueer. Before we can start taking submissions, though, Dani has to select her out-of-press editor because the book needs 2 people on it, and then they need to write a specific call that fits the second volume’s title.

Next year’s edition will be called The Spoon Knife Anthology 2: Test Chamber. After that, we plan on rotating the editorship until every NQ Books editor has a chance to take on at least one volume. After that, who knows? It all depends on you, our readers and writers.

Here is the list of contributors:Spoon Knife Anthology Cover

  • Alex Conall
  • Alison Kopit
  • Alyssa Hillary
  • Amanda Sleen
  • Andrea Abi-Karam
  • Andrew Reichart
  • Athena the Architect
  • Barbara Ruth
  • Bridget Allen
  • Cara Liebowitz
  • Dani Alexis Ryskamp
  • E. Lewy
  • Elizabeth J. Grace
  • Emily Knapp
  • Harriet Grace
  • Jessica Goody
  • Kassiane A. Sibley
  • Leah Kelley
  • Lucas Scheelk
  • Luis Lopez-Maldonado
  • Marc Rosen
  • Marcel Price, a.k.a. Fable the Poet
  • Marshall Edwards
  • Michael Scott Monje, Jr. (ed.)
  • N.I. Nicholson (ed.)
  • Nick Walker
  • Nina Fosati
  • Sabrina Zarco
  • Samuel T. Harvey
  • Sarah Caulfield
  • Selene dePakh
  • Stephanie Heit
  • Thalia Rose
  • Thomas Kearnes

The Spoon Knife Anthology: Thoughts on Compliance, Defiance, and Resistance will be available March 15th from NeuroQueer Books. Stay tuned for preorder and early ebook sales on the AutPress Direct store.

[Image description: Mechanized flesh and architecture combine in a dystopian landscape that evokes depersonalization and desolation in this art from Selene Depakh. Over top, the title of the anthology and the editorial credentials stand in stark white.]

TASH UPDATE for Wide Release

Autonomous Press and TASH had a very encouraging meeting this morning on the topics of Communication Justice and research.

TASH reaffirmed their powerful commitment to human rights and quality of life for people, which puts us clearly on the same side, and so we look forward to a fruitful partnership.

Stay tuned for more detailed news about future developments soon.

Official AutPress Statement on the TASH Response to Slate (UPDATED)

TASH UPDATE for Wide Release: Autonomous Press and TASH had a very encouraging meeting this morning on the topics of Communication Justice and research. TASH reaffirmed their powerful commitment to human rights and quality of life for people, which puts us clearly on the same side, and so we look forward to a fruitful partnership. Stay tuned for more detailed news about future developments soon. – 11/27/15


Following the statement from TASH regarding their official stance that they will not support or directly endorse facilitated communication, the partners at Autonomous Press have decided that we cannot do business with the organization or any representative acting in their capacity as such while this policy is in effect. As a press started by a majority autistic partnership, one whose own members type to communicate frequently, we do not feel comfortable attending, selling at, or promoting this organization or their events in any way.

We make this decision with a heavy heart. Many of us have friends on the board. In addition to that fact, though, one of our editors on Typed Words, Loud Voices, our groundbreaking anthology of typers, is herself an FC activist. She has presented at TASH to specifically address the ways she communicates and barriers caused by false and ableist skepticism leading to poorly designed and agenda-driven “studies.” We can only imagine the strain that this institutional decision has placed on her, implying as it does that TASH does not stand behind those that they invite to share their knowledge and ideas.

It is out of a desire to make our commitment to representing voices like hers, and not to privilege some forms of accommodation and some forms of communication over others, that we make this move:

Until TASH officially embraces FC and the right of all disabled persons to communicate with the methods they choose for themselves, Autonomous Press will be forced to avoid the TASH conference, withdraw outreach funding from any travel grants being used by TASH presenters applying for our assistance, and withdraw our memberships (for those of us who are members). The partners are also asking that AutPress authors who wish to present at TASH during this period, however long or short it is, do so without promoting the books they have published with us or directly tying them in to their abstracts (casual mentions are fine).

We are happy to fully embrace any organization within our community that supports and embraces our mission and the authors we represent. When an organization leaves itself open to the idea that the books, presentations, and other intellectual work by facilitated communicators are not genuine, that is the same thing as stating that they are open to the idea that we have created false or counterfeit scholarly work. It’s unfortunate, but we cannot have a relationship with organizations that take such a position and declare it to be principled.

We look forward to communication justice becoming, once again, a priority for TASH, and await a new institutional statement showing it.

Stocked and Ready to Rock

Hi everyone, Michael here again. It’s been a busy week at AutPress world headquarters, and that means good things for you. First things first, this is what it looks like when you have a whole case of The Real Experts sitting on a shelf in your closet:

Seveny-six copies of The Real Experts

That’s right. We got out copies early. If you’ve already ordered, we will be shipping copies starting on Monday, and it will take us a few days to get them all out in the mail. If you’ve been waiting, you can order now and we will ship your copy as soon as we get to your spot in the queue.

That’s not all we have for you, though. My first two novels are both in stock and ready to ship. In Nothing is Right you will experience Clay Dillon’s search for his first friend as he navigates gradeschool for the first time and runs up against the expectations and special education screening procedures found in public education in the late 1980s. This book introduces Van, the cyborg who plays such an integral role in Imaginary Friends, and it also sets the stage for the struggle the character faces in Defiant.

Mirror Project takes you into an alternate universe where you are on the other side of a computer screen, witnessing the first artificial intelligence to develop the capacity to broadcast its presence. As she describes the ways in which her human creators tried to limit her experience and dictate her identity, the reader must ask: Do I trust what she says about herself? And if I don’t, what if I’m wrong?

Both of these titles were originally self-published, and Autonomous Press will be selling their first editions until we are ready to roll out reprints with new critical introductions and redesigned covers. Those titles, along with our existing listings, are all in stock and ready for you too. Don’t believe me, though. Check out my closet:

stacks of AutPress books

Remember, our books come with instant ebook copies, and orders of 3 or more books get free economy shipping.


Coming in Late November: The Real Experts (UPDATED)

Real Experts cover“Full of practical advice and transcendent ‘Aha!’ moments, The Real Experts offers young autistic people and their families the kind of wise mentorship from tribal elders that was unavailable in previous generations. It’s a landmark book.” – Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

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.

“This book is a gift to parents who want to get the real scoop from the real experts on autism — autistic people themselves. Michelle Sutton has gathered excellent first-person accounts of what it’s like to grow up, live, and thrive as an autistic person. More than anything, autistic people and their families need to see and hear autistic role models who can help them understand, support, and celebrate their unique autistic loved ones. The Real Experts is a wonderful contribution to the autism community, and to us all.” – Karla McLaren, M.Ed., The Art of Empathy and The Language of Emotions

“Wow. What a breath of fresh air. I read this book with unfolding delight… Finally, people on the spectrum are being heard, and it is a phenomenon that gathers momentum as parents and others realize they can learn from what is being said.” – Dawn Prince-Hughes, Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism

The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic Children features essays by:

And with special author introductions and an editorial essay by Michelle Sutton.

UPDATE: The Real Experts is available for pre-order on the AutPress Direct store and copies will ship when we receive our initial inventory shipment. It will also be available elsewhere on Nov. 24. Review copy requests should be sent to

ORDER UP! (Get your books early.)

Photo of all 3 of our titles displayed against cartons full of inventory

Get ’em while they’re fresh. Autonomous Press books are here early.

Since Amazon went ahead and started selling our books before their release date, we decided to get onboard with the same idea. At the Autonomous Press store, you can get all our titles with great deals on shipping and fully accessible DRM-free ebooks. Our direct store is the only place where you will receive an archival ebook with every paperback purchase, and all of our electronic texts are distributed simultaneously in three formats–.mobi, .epub, and .pdf. Please allow time for order processing, and check back for a follow-up email with your electronic items’ delivery.

Check it out now!

Press Update: Funding Anthologies and Paying for Submissions

Since we first started pulling Autonomous Press together, the idea has always been that we would start paying for submissions as soon as possible. This is important to us because so many markets for writing are not really markets at all, they are opportunities for writers to attempt to get their work seen that are at best comparable to unpaid internships–they help boost your resume, but they don’t pay the bills or really advance your career unless they lead to a paying gig pretty quickly.

At the same time, though, as an academic publisher, or a publisher of academic books among our other offerings, we do have to acknowledge that to some degree scholars publish without an expectation of direct compensation. Partly, this is because their professional model requires them to publish, and so their compensation is indirect, coming as it does from their academic affiliation. Partly, it is because many academic anthologies are at best small investments with small returns.

With this tension between writers whose labor is otherwise uncompensated and those for whom it is compensated through their other affiliations, we have split our anthologies into two groups. This allows us to fund the anthologies that need to pay their writers, to ensure that our contributors are paid for their labor and that they can continue to afford to work with us. It also allows us to identify anthologies that might be risky, or that have a niche audience, and to produce them according to a scholarly model, to ensure they reach their readership even when that readership might not be large enough to fund a major outlay for royalties.

You can read the full details here, but this is the highlight reel:

  • Funded anthologies pay. This money comes from previous anthologies we have put out, and the amount we can afford to pay is determined as late as possible in the process, so that we can offer as much as possible to our writers.
  • Funding will be determined before any acceptances or rejections are determined, to keep it fair.
  • The funds come from previous funded anthologies, as well as a few choice unfunded ones that have been selected to help expand our pool.
  • Basically, we set aside 15% of the cover price for each sale of a qualifying anthology and use it to pay for future submissions. How we pay (flat rate vs. per word) will be determined by how much money we have available on the last day we accept submissions.
  • Rates for each anthology will be announced on the blog as soon as they are determined.
  • The Spoon Knife Anthology will be funded. The sales from Typed Words, Loud Voices are making that happen.
  • Our goal is to offer competitive rates that reward professional writers, but we need to build up the capital to do that. This system gives us a sliding scale that remains sustainable as we grow.
  • Unfunded anthologies do not pay–or at least we do not pay for submissions. If the anthologies have external funding because they are being overseen by non-partners, this may change things a little.
  • Some unfunded anthologies will help to pay for our funded ones. Other unfunded anthologies might have other purposes, such as allowing us to raise funds for a cause or serving as an investment in a new area of development for the press.
  • Anthologies will be announced as either funded or unfunded from here on out.