By: Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll

I can’t be a vampire at the moment, I’m reflecting. I’m writing a ‘vampire’ story right now, so they’re on my mind. But they’re not what I am currently reflecting upon.

The Autism Benefit Issue is out now and available to purchase for a mere $2.99. We had a review, which I felt was negative, and that kind of shot my spontaneity and tripped up my momentum.

I’ve decided I must not make a very good ‘lead editor’. I can see my own faults. I know where I’m weak. If it had been left up to a more ruthless editor, we probably would have had fewer stories in the issue.

I did reject some. says we have to, if we want our publications listed on their site. There was one that was beautifully written, probably one of the most polished stories I have read as a slush reader, but it had too much sex in it for my standards, and those acts were essential to the plot. Then there were a few that were more character sketches than actual stories.

Other than those, I wanted the authors to be able to tell the story they wanted, and to address the subject of autism sensitively, but in the light and manner they wished.

We have authors of different ability. Some are experienced and their stories show the skills they have worked hard to develop. Some of the stories are written by new writers, learning and experimenting with story telling techniques.

When our Chief Editor, Zach Ricks, was copy editing the stories for me he commented that there were a lot of missing spouses. I think he felt this lowered the overall tone of the issue.

Here’s my arm chair psychologist’s take on the subject of ‘The Missing Spouse’. (In my own story the couple is having marital problems, not quite gone yet, but the potential for being missing.) As a parent of a child with autism I am continually alert for my son. From getting him ready for school, to taking care of business after he has taken care of business, to making sure the doors are locked, and there is no access to anything that is dangerous, to making sure he’s had his medication. Parents who have children on ‘autopilot’ may not appreciate the stress the parent of a child with special needs feels. Considering having to bear that load by yourself is downright frightening. Whether we acknowledge that fear or not, in think it runs in the back of our minds, and comes out in stories we write for the autism issue.

To quote the critic, “some of the stories are depressing and some of the are just plain weird,”
Try it out for yourself. You could waste $2.99 on a number of other things, but wasting it on this, at least you know the money is going to help some children.

Philip ‘Norvaljoe’ Carroll is a staff editor at Flying Island Press and lead editor of the Autism Benefit issue. He’s been a husband for 30 years, a father for 25, a writer for 4 and an editor for 1. His two younger children, now ages 9 and 7, joined his family through adoption, Bekah at five weeks old, and Desmond at 2 days old. At 2 1/2 years, Desmond was officially

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