The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E15: “Phases”

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will make a Sim of herself and a Sim of Rupert Giles and force them to be neighbors and fall in love and do woo-hoo. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
  21. The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
  22. Smoking is evil.
  23. Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it. 

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Don’t Do This Ever: “Dear Ethics” edition

Recently, Jane Litte, of the super popular book review blog Dear Author, revealed that she’s not just a blogger, but Jen Frederick, a best-selling New Adult author with eight published novels and a movie deal to her name. Litte and her site get talked about, a lot. Some people love Dear Author and the community of readers who comment there. Some people hate the site, and Litte, due to various run-ins with the site and readership over the years. And some people, like me, go to the site to find out what books are free or on sale any given day, and occasionally read blog articles and either agree or disagree, but generally without “picking sides.”

Yes, we’re about to discuss drama happening in the book world that I have not “picked a side” on. I’ll give you a moment to recover from your shock.

My personal stance on the issue is that I’m happy for Jane Litte’s success and I’m a bit gleeful that a certain website now has to accept that she’s not a jealous hater born from the frustrated ashes of a thwarted literary career. I’m also one of the people who can see why her ethics have come into question, and that it’s possible to do that questioning without it being a matter of a personal vendetta or an attempt to sabotage an author’s career.

Reviews written by authors on the Dear Author site are usually labelled with a disclaimer stating that the person writing the review is an author. Now, clearly I have no problem reviewing the works of other authors. Look around the blog you’re reading right now. I don’t believe that the moment you become an author, you lose all right to criticize and become obligated to unquestioningly support other authors. But a situation like this falls into an ethical sore spot. This wasn’t an author reviewing books, this was an author pretending to not be an author while reviewing those books. There might not seem like much of a difference, but there is, and people are right to question it, especially in the wake of allegations that Litte didn’t just keep mum about her author identity, but actively represented herself to the book blogging community as a wholly separate person.

As an author who reviews–and let’s be honest, my reviews are impossibly long, incredibly detailed, and usually blisteringly harsh–I’m aware that my blogging absolutely has an effect on my career and readership. There are consequences for everything you write as an author/blogger, and you accept those bad things with all the good things. But Litte tried to keep the views she expressed as a reader from impacting her writing career, and I feel like that’s poor form. I’m not saying that authors have to tell readers all their deepest, darkest secrets, but if there’s a conflict of interest in something they’re doing (for example, an author reviewing books in her own genre without disclosing that she is an author, or that author’s books showing up in deal and recommendation posts on her blog, as happened at Dear Author), then they should be upfront about that.

So, people have a right to be upset about this news. Yes, there are people who dislike Litte on a personal level, and their criticism of the situation is worded strongly. But that doesn’t make their criticism less valid just because it isn’t couched in careful language. There are some who now seek to defend Litte by accusing those asking questions of having a vendetta against her, creating a “Be Nice” quagmire in which anyone who isn’t thrilled about the news is a hater or a troll. As author Olivia Waite wrote, “I AM angry that I’m expected to be uncritically happy about this news, though, if I want to be seen as nice.” 

Did Jane Litte go about conducting her dual careers in an unethical way? I agree with those who are saying yes. Does that mean I hate her, have harbored a long-time grudge against her, and will stop at nothing to destroy her and everything Dear Author stands for? No, and I actually like Jane Litte based on the occasional interaction I’ve had with her, despite disagreements I’ve had with some views expressed on her site. Am I happy that Dear Author isn’t going away, and that Jen Frederick is enjoying the success of bestselling books and a movie deal? Sure, why not be happy for an author who’s succeeding? It’s entirely possible to be happy that a good thing has happened for another author without supporting every single thing they’ve said or done, and it’s also possible to be happy that Dear Author isn’t shutting down while simultaneously recognizing that the site must now implement and adhere to new policies in order to operate in good faith with its readership.

The “us vs. them” mentality that has sprung up around this incident is disheartening, because this isn’t an “us vs. them” situation. It’s a clear case of an author/blogger making unethical choices. Yes, even if she didn’t intend for it to happen this way. Yes, even if she didn’t review her book on her blog.  And no, the criticism she is receiving isn’t invalid because some of it is coming from people who don’t care for her on a personal level. These criticisms aren’t going to destroy Jen Frederick’s career, nor are they intended for that purpose.

As a post script, for those who are saying they now feel cheated for having supported the DA Legal Defense Fund: I have no patience for you. You donated money because a blogger was being slapped with a groundless libel lawsuit by a publisher who was angry that their bad business practices were brought to light. You donated money because you objected to the actions of Ellora’s Cave, not because you thought Jane Litte wasn’t an author or her bank account balance was smaller than you estimated. You donated that money to send a message to Ellora’s Cave and any other publisher in the future who thinks they can silence voices in the romance community with threats of litigation. Jane Litte being an author doesn’t change the impact of that lawsuit, so why should you now feel that you’ve been tricked? The underlying issue has not changed.

The takeaway from all of this is that readers (and fellow authors) want transparency. Authors want to know that if we submit a book for a review request, we’re going to get a fair review, and not one that’s influenced by the fact that we’re in competition with an author or their publisher. Readers want to know that the reviews they’re reading aren’t influenced by those same factors. Bloggers and readers both want to know that books they’re purchasing or accepting for review aren’t written by someone they have a negative opinion about and don’t feel comfortable promoting or financially supporting. And they certainly have a right to feel hurt or betrayed when an author whose online presence they’re following and engaging with turns out to be a different person entirely. So when it comes to secret author identities, think hard about what you should be disclosing. Seeing a conflict of interest and ignoring the implications until your success becomes too large to continue the dual life? Don’t do that, ever.

Merlin Club S05E10 “The Kindness of Strangers” or “History Repeats Itself.”

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Merlin club is a weekly feature in which Jessica Jarman, Bronwyn Green, and myself gather at 8pm EST to watch an episode of the amazing BBC series Merlin, starring Colin Morgan and literally nobody else I care about except Colin Morgan.

Okay, I lie. A lot of other really cool people are in it, too.

Anyway, we watch the show, we tweet to the hashtag #MerlinClub, and on Fridays we share our thoughts about the episode we watched earlier in the week.

Sorry about missing the post last Friday. With everything that was going on, I was just too exhausted.

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State of The Trout:

Hey everybody! Just a quick update on the mad haps here in Trout Nation.

The next Buffy recap is on the way! Someone recently estimated that at the rate I’m going, it will take fifteen years to finish my recap of the series. But there’s a blogger who has been recapping the Left Behind series for eleven years, so I don’t feel bad. It’s a labor of love, and well-worth it.

There are two new chapters of The AfflictedIf you’re new to the blog, The Afflicted is my free serial on Wattpad. It’s New Adult, but historical, and horror. So instead of the heroine trying to adjust to college, she’s trying to adjust to life in the Shaker community where she’s been abandoned, and spooky things are happening. Chapters thirteen and fourteen are now available.

Donations are still being accepted to keep Wolf alive! Wolf has Crohn’s disease and desperately needs surgery. If you’re in the habit of donating, here’s the link to his campaign.

This cat needs help!  Also along the lines of donations, this cute cat needs spinal surgery.

I’m going to be in Las Vegas! Come out and meet me at the book signing at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. on Saturday, April 4. If I’m not a big enough draw, well, brace yourselves… Amber Benson, also known as Tara from Buffy The fucking Vampire Slayer will be signing her books. Yeah, she’s an author and basically awesome. So after you go see her, come see me!

 

The five best people I met while working shitty jobs

Doctor Who Lady. I was working at a McDonald’s in Richland, Michigan, when Doctor Who Lady came in. She was pretty old. Obviously, I didn’t ask how old, but she had a walker. On the front of the walker, she had a bag with the logo the show started using during the Third Doctor’s run on it. I was like, “Oh my gosh, I love Doctor Who!” and she paused and goes, “I have a secret in there, and I’ll show it to you if you tell me who your favorite Doctor is.” So, I said, “Eight is my favorite,” and she nodded like we were in a secret club, opens the bag,  flips one side inside-out as much as she can without spilling it, and inside it’s been signed by Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, and Sylvester McCoy. Then she says, “I had to make sure you were the real deal,” takes her bag with her Big Mac and rolls away like some wonderful apparition.

The History Nerd. On the inside of my right forearm, I have a large tattoo of a kitchen knife, a French flag, and some sprigs of lavender. A scroll wraps around the bottom and says “J’ai tué un homme pour en sauver cent mille,” or “I have killed one man to save one-hundred thousand.” I was working at the same McDonald’s when, as I was ringing up a guy’s order, he suddenly burst out, “I have to see your tattoo!” I held out my arm, and he read the tattoo. Normally, people ask, “What does that mean?” and then when I tell them the translation, they say, “That is so cool, did you go to Iraq?” But this guy looked at it and goes, “I assume you’re a French history buff?” and immediately launches into a conversation with me about it. The tattoo is in honor of Charlotte Corday, who was a bad ass during the Reign of Terror, so look her up. Anyway, the guy turned out to be a history professor at a college in Kalamazoo, and he was just thrilled to find someone else to geek out about France with.

The Minister’s Fiancee. For a while I worked at a Fredericks of Hollywood store. The people I worked with were awesome, but working in an retail at all qualifies as a shitty job, to me. Anyway, one day a woman came in, she was just the embodiment of every white, Midwestern Christian young woman stereotype you could imagine, and she was so excited because she was getting married to her minister, and she wanted to buy something for her wedding night and honeymoon. I thought she was going to go for like, the lacy white bridal babydoll or something. Instead, she walked out with over six hundred dollars worth of the raunchiest lingerie, lucite heels, and various flavored massage oils money could possibly buy. It was the first time I ever really thought, you know…maybe I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

The Dude. I was working as a cashier at a grocery store in my teensy hometown when this happened. There aren’t many people here, and I’ve never seen this magnificent person again, so I assume he was either an angel of God or just visiting one of our many splendorous lakes. Anyway, the store closes at ten pm in the summer, and it was like, maybe nine-thirty, quarter-to. The last rush was over, and the only people still working in the customer area were me and my manager, who was in his office. A guy walks in, he was probably in his late thirties/early forties, but rode hard either way. He had a sandy brown, curly mullet, a pair of aviator sunglasses, no shirt, and a pair of jean cut-off shorts that were like, bordering on too-short for a dude to be wearing in the 90′s. He was also smoking a cigarette and barefoot, and I don’t know how they do it in other places, but shirtless, shoeless, and smoking is like, three strikes and you’re out. But he wasn’t even trying to hide it. He walked right past me and goes, “Hey, man,” and keeps on walking and disappears down the aisles. I’m wondering if I should get my manager, but the dude is already coming back with a gallon of milk. But he doesn’t come through my checkout lane, he just keeps walking, gallon of milk in his hand, right toward the doors. Doesn’t even attempt to pay for it. He waved at me, cigarette dangling from his lips, and goes, “Take ‘er easy,” and just walks out. My manage came out like, seconds later, having apparently seen all or part of this on the security monitor, and goes, “Why didn’t you stop him?!” All I could say was, “I don’t know, he was too cool.”

John Wayne. I briefly worked as a nurse’s aid in a home for people who had dementia. One of the guys was so far gone, he had absolutely no touch with reality at all, and he was always cheerful, all the time. He would say bizarre things, like “That’s the eyebrows, isn’t it?” and grin at you like you were getting along really well. You had to be careful, though, because he would try to shake your hand, and once he had it, he didn’t let go. He also had a stuffed dog he thought was real, and its name changed every day. But the best part about him, the thing that made him my favorite patient, hands down, was that he would go through spells where he thought he was John Wayne. Since I was a redhead, he got it into his mind that I was Maureen O’Hara, so he would follow me around and quote lines from Rio Grande and The Quiet Man.

Merlin Club S05E09 “With All My Heart” or “Drag Fixes Everything”

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Merlin club is a weekly feature in which Jessica Jarman, Bronwyn Green, and myself gather at 8pm EST to watch an episode of the amazing BBC series Merlin, starring Colin Morgan and literally nobody else I care about except Colin Morgan.

Okay, I lie. A lot of other really cool people are in it, too.

Anyway, we watch the show, we tweet to the hashtag #MerlinClub, and on Fridays we share our thoughts about the episode we watched earlier in the week.

Sorry about missing the post last Friday. With everything that was going on, I was just too exhausted.

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Pregnant Women: Stop Worrying About Being “Fat”

Pregnant women (and I am addressing pregnant women here specifically, because I assume transgender men have a different set of body image hurdles during pregnancy that I can’t possibly understand): I’m begging you to stop thinking of yourselves as fat.

I was watching The Mindy Project, and the most recent episode was Mindy lamenting the fact that she’s gaining weight during her pregnancy. A lot of the pregnancy related humor this season just doesn’t ring true to me. Mindy is an OB/GYN; and a lot of the clueless newly pregnant mother stuff seems like the exact kind of stuff she’d be familiar with. Danny’s an OB too, and he’s believing old wives’ tales? Then again, first time pregnancy makes you into a whole new, paranoid person, so maybe it’s more realistic than I’m giving it credit for.

I’ve been pregnant twice. The first time? Was at the height of extremely low-rise jeans. The kind you had to wax to wear. I spent that entire pregnancy watching Britney Spears’s oiled torso gyrating all over VH1. It was rough. And the whole time, I felt like crap, because I weighed two hundred pounds in the last week. It was the most I’d ever weighed in my entire life. And I felt fat.

Look, it’s not fun, especially when you gain the amount of weight I did (between seventy and seventy-five pounds; there was a lot of water weight fluctuation). Your ankles hurt. Your knees hurt. You pee a little when you stand up. You’ve got stretch marks, and you sweat like you’re running hurdles just to get up and go to the bathroom (for the thirtieth time that day). And it’s because you’ve gained weight. Even if it’s just fifteen pounds. Even if you’re carrying a cute little basketball under your shirt that makes every woman you encounter tell you how much she hates you. You feel fat.

But you’re not fat, okay? You’re pregnant. Yes, diet and fitness are still important during pregnancy. Yes, weight gain during pregnancy can be caused by a number of serious conditions. You’ve read the books. You know this. Worry about that all you want (because you won’t be able to keep yourself from worrying about it, anyway). But when you look at yourself in the mirror, don’t hate yourself because your belly sticks out, or you’re chinning for two. Your body is supposed to do that. It’s where the baby goes.

We judge ourselves so harshly that we shame ourselves for a natural function of our body. Why are we so hard on ourselves, especially at a time when we’re really emotionally vulnerable? It’s bullshit.

I wish I could go back in time and tell first-pregnancy me that I deserve better than to spend nine months hating my body even more than usual. Since I can’t (and since I’m never having another freeloading womb tenant), I’ll just tell it to you all. Some of you are bound to be pregnant. Everyone know this is the place for sexy people on the internet.

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But do it, guys. Stop putting yourself down because you’re not one of the few pregnant women who don’t have to buy new clothes in their third trimester. You probably don’t expect that of other pregnant women, so why expect it of yourself?

So, that’s it. That’s the end of my plea. Try not to worry about how “fat” you are, and start worrying instead that you’re soon going to be responsible for the nurturing, caring, and training of a human being wholly separate from yourself.

LONDON BOUND by Jessica Jarman and more news on the boxed set failure

Hey everybody! This is another of the books that was supposed to be in the boxed set from Excessica. Jessica has released it as a standalone title. But before we go into the details about her fabulous book, I need to clear up some new information that has come to light.

While the boxed set was being published under Excessica’s name, it began as an independent project headed up by one person. All the communication with Excessica went through this person, whose name I am withholding because this is already a big enough clusterfuck with all of the names already involved and I just want to be done.

Anyway, this person was the project manager, but she doesn’t work for Excessica. Think of it as an independent contractor scenario. When Selena Kitt wanted to leave the anthology to avoid the drama surrounding me–which I don’t blame her for, and which I don’t feel was unreasonable given the circumstances–she planned to simply pull her story. However, when the scenario was presented to the other authors in the set, the project manager told them that their options were to cut me or Selena Kitt would walk, and Excessica would withdraw promotional support. I don’t know what the motivation behind that lie was. I assume it was because this person felt they could profit more off a boxed set with a Selena Kitt title than an Abigail Barnette title, but that’s still a shady way to do business, especially when that lie hurt Excessica and hurt Selena Kitt, who simply didn’t want to run afoul of STGRB and their obsessive league of stalkers.

So, Selena Kitt and Excessica are totally blameless in the failure of this anthology. The person who tanked it is someone I really enjoy as a person. To be honest, that’s probably another factor in why I’m not naming names to go with this pointed finger. But either way, everyone in the set was hurt, but not by Selena Kitt or Excessica. Unfortunately, this has put me off anthologies/boxed sets/collaborations for a while.

So, onto more cheerful topics, despite this hiccup, Jessica Jarman’s London Bound has been released!

London Bound - Cover

 

After losing her husband six years ago, Meg Stevens has focused on the day-to-day and being a mother, not sparing a thought for anything beyond—no dates, no excitement, no life other than what she already had. A six-week vacation to London, all but forced on her by her two children, changes all of that. Meg meets the man of her dreams—gorgeous, dominant, and completely on board with a short-term fling—despite the fact he’s far too young for her.
 

Nathan Harris is more than a bit curious about the beautiful woman renting the upstairs flat, and once he talks to her, curiosity is quickly replaced by arousal and desire. It doesn’t take long before it’s clear she longs to experience sexual submission, and Nathan finds himself desperate to be the one she submits to.

Her days spent exploring the city, her nights exploring Nathan and the pleasure submitting to him brings, Meg discovers the trip she’d taken out of obligation has turned into something she doesn’t want to walk away from. However, the life she left behind beckons, and there’s no room there for dreaming of something she can never have.

Amazon  Barnes & Noble • iBooks Kobo

London Bound is a full-length novel, and the first in a series Jarman is co-authoring with Bronwyn Green.

Unexpected Book Release Day!

Hey there everybody! Today was the day that the Bad Boy Next Door boxed set was supposed to come out. Unfortunately, due to a big name author taking up a crusade against me, an author in the set was uncomfortable having her story sold alongside mine. Other authors were given the choice to either release the anthology without me, delay the release of the boxed set indefinitely, or release the set with my story included, in which case the author who objected would withdraw from the project and her publishing company would withdraw promotional support. The majority decided that they would pull their stories from the boxed set rather than kick me out, and that was, sadly, the end of the Bad Boy Next Door boxed set.

It was a really great project, and a lot of people worked really hard on it, so I’m saddened to see this happen to them. But I’m happy to report that the authors in the set plan to publish their stories independently, and when they do, I’ll be featuring their work here.

In the meantime, I have published my novella from the boxed set, Bad Boy Good Man. It’s available now on Amazon and Smashwords.

bad boy good man cover

 

Newly independent real-life adult Ellie McCormack loves everything about her first apartment…except her neighbor. His bi-weekly sex fests keep her up at night in more ways than one as she wonders about the man who’s making all the noise—and what he’s doing to make his women so damn loud.

 But even her wildest fantasies couldn’t conjure up a man like Antony DeLuca. When she works up the nerve to confront him, she’s expecting a player, but there’s more to Antony than his carefree sexual escapades. One hot night with him helps Ellie see through the man who drives women wild, to the good guy beneath it all. A guy that she just might be able to fall for…

Amazon • Smashwords

Thank you to everyone who sent emails or supported me on social media over the weekend. I appreciate that.