‘Tis the season!

Much in the way Hobbits celebrate their birthdays, we too can celebrate the season by giving unto others. And while Trout Nation is a land rich in snark and friendship, our main export is shit-stirring and that doesn’t pay for much. As such, I am inviting all ye Troutfaithful to email me your URLs with the subject line “FUNDRAISER” (don’t leave them in the comments section or tweet me, because I’m afraid they’ll be missed and not added to the post) in the hopes that those among us who can will spread the generosity of the season.

There’s a catch: I’m not posting any links to fundraisers for commercial or artistic projects or anything like that. There’s a time and a place for those, and this post is strictly for those in need of things like food, shelter, medical procedures, pet shelter donations, etc. We’ll do another Kickstarter post after the New Year.

I’ll keep adding to this post until New Year’s Day. If you can’t give, promote the post and get the word out!

Keep sending me links, and I’ll keep adding them!

Motivational Doctors

This week I’m struggling with extremely bad pain. I mention it every now and then, but it bears repeating: Fibromyalgia is a ton of ass (In fact, one author is facing homelessness this Christmas due, in part, to this syndrome, so if you’ve got some spare cheddar laying around, here’s a donation campaign for her). I’ve recently been experiencing this awesome burst of productivity, something I always struggle with, only to end up with pain that’s preventing me from any sort of long-term concentration. It’s times like these that get me down, which is why I have things like this in my office:

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Last night, I decided I needed another motivational Doctor on my wall, so I whipped this up in Gimp:
motivational doctor

I printed it out and stuck it to my wall, then shared it with Bronwyn Green, who said, “That’s a good idea. I could use a motivational 10, myself.” Since these take like, absolutely no effort to make, I got into Gimp again and made her one. And she said, “Thanks, that actually helps!” and I thought, you know what? I bet there are citizens in Trout Nation right now who could use a boost from The Doctor. So if you’re out there having mental health issues, or chronic pain issues, or you just need to hear someone tell you something kind or remind you to be kind to yourself, here are some motivational Doctors. If you don’t see your Doctor here yet, don’t worry. I’ve got others I’m working on and will post later.

motivational 4 motivational 10 motivational 12 motivational one

I think if you click these, they take you to larger versions you can save, just in case you’re a print-and-bulletin-board kinda person like myself.

At this point, regular features are generally on hold until this bad spell passes. Right now I’m just concentrating on getting through the day, but who knows, I might get a solid hour or two where I’m like, “Yeah, let’s do some Apolonia!” or something like that. And who knows, if it’s another really awful day, I might make some more Doctors.

DON’T DO THIS EVER: “World Before Columbus Syndrome” edition

I’ll be honest: I don’t follow JA Konrath’s blog much these days. When I was first venturing into self-publishing, I ate it up. But as I continued down my path, somehow I just fell away from a lot of the self-publishing bloggers I’d been reading.

Last Tuesday, Konrath took to his blog to sing the praises of self-publishing and the freedom it brings:

“So why am I writing kinky romance?

Lots of reasons.

First, because I can.

We live during the greatest time in history to be a fiction writer. Anything you can dream up, you can publish. Maybe it will find an audience. Maybe it won’t.

But at least it has the chance to.”

Yes! Right on! Self-publishing is fantastic for that! I don’t see why everyone is so up in arms over this post!

Our male protagonist is a sex worker. An escort. A prostitute. I’m pretty sure Harlequin didn’t allow that back when Ann was publishing her romance continuities. I also believe Harlequin had a guideline that once the hero met the heroine, neither were allowed to philander. Strike two. Finally, the sex in Want It Bad makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like a Disney picturebook. Harlequin may have had some racy titles, but I doubt they ever got this racy.

Hmmm. I’m starting to get a sense of why some authors took exception to this post.

The “Ann” Konrath refers to is Ann Voss Peterson, who wrote award-winning romantic suspense for Harlequin’s Intrigue line. This is important information later.

So check out Want It Bad. It has romance. It has female-buddy banter. It has humor. It has insanely kinky sex. It’s a feminist, empowering, 21st century love story that couldn’t have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn’t exist.

Oh. Okay, now I see why I took exception to this post.

Let’s start with the obvious: you could have totally written a 21st century love story ten years ago. Because ten years ago was in the 21st century. So let’s be pedantic and get that out of the way right now.

Your book has romance, kinky sex, female-buddy banter, is feminist and empowering, but couldn’t have been written ten years ago because there was no genre for it, no opportunity to write it, and nobody had the mindset.

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Now, I’m not going to debate whether or not Sex and the City lives up to either modern or contemporary standards of feminism. But the popularity of Sex and the City was a watershed moment in how our culture viewed sex from a female perspective. Here was a show that gave us female characters who didn’t compete with each other, who talked about more than just how their lives related to men (though men were the topic of conversation more often than not) and which exposed the frank, raunchy, enthusiastic approach toward sex that women were sharing with each other. Again, I’m not debating whether the show covered all possible experiences (the characters were middle and upper class white women who were all straight), but it did have empowerment, feminist issues, “female-buddy banter,” humor, and kinky sex (every time I write about Sophie squirting, I remember that I learned about it from Sex and the City). The show had everything Konrath is praising his own work for having… and it ended its run in 2004. For those of you who are tragically bad with numbers, that’s… ten years ago. It actually debuted in 1998.  So clearly the “mindset” existed.

The problem is that Konrath didn’t realize the mindset existed. Or, more accurately, Konrath didn’t realize the mindset could make him money back then. In the comments section, he says:

Courtney Milan, who by all accounts is a good writer and a person I respect even if I don’t agree with her on everything, mentioned this on Twitter.

Which is why you said the “genre, opportunity, and mindset didn’t exist”?

I said that because it didn’t exist.

Has there always been erotic romance? Sure.

Has it always been mainstream?

No. Fifty Shades of Grey sold 100 million copies and opened the genre up to huge numbers of readers who never tried the genre before.

Fair enough, Fifty Shades of Grey did cause an erotica boom. But Konrath appears to be saying that yeah, erotic romance exists, but he wasn’t paying attention to it back when it didn’t stand a chance of lining his pockets. Now that he’s seen  the kind of cash erotic romance authors are making, he’s going to expose and break down the barriers of censorship that had already been crumbling since 2000, when Tina Engler founded Ellora’s Cave.

Again, if you’re bad at math, that’s fourteen years ago, four years before the mindset that allowed for female-friendly erotica’s existence.

When confronted about his statements, Konrath moved the goal posts and demanded evidence that erotic romance existed before his:

Can someone show me an HQ series featuring a sex worker who sleeps with a woman after meeting the heroine? Or a HQ continuity with candle wax, pillory spanking, and a sex machine?

and

So you’re telling me that FSoG could have gotten into Walmart years ago, as part of a HQ series or continuity?

You’re saying that HQ Blaze was not only mainstream, but the hero and heroine could sleep with others after they met, used sex machines, dripped hot wax on each other, etc, and were still for sale in Target or Sam’s Club?

If so, then I’m wrong. But if FSoG opened up this genre to worldwide acceptance, then my points stand.

As several commenters rightly pointed out, Konrath didn’t say that erotic romance couldn’t have been carried in big box stores ten years ago, or that Harlequin hadn’t published the elements in his book. He didn’t even say that his book couldn’t have been published ten years ago. He said:

It’s a feminist, empowering, 21st century love story that couldn’t have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn’t exist.

The twitter and comments arguments continued in this vein, with women who’ve been writing in the genre for twenty or more books simply asking Konrath to admit that he’d written something objectively false, and Konrath refusing to acknowledge both the actual words in the above quote, or that Harlequin isn’t the sum total of the romance genre.

For some reason, this behavior doesn’t endear him to erotic romance authors, and neither does his behavior toward Courtney Milan in their twitter exchange:

Konrath grew even more defensive when author KT Grant suggested that a snipe he made with regards to Milan’s sales  compared to Peterson’s sales was hitting below the belt:

Courtney insulted me a lot in that Twitter exchange, and I was polite.

Then she insulted my co-authors, saying Ann didn’t know what she was talking about.

Taking potshots at me is fine. Potshots at my co-authors? I don’t play that.

Courtney has NO BUSINESS telling Ann Voss Peterson that she doesn’t knwo what she’s talking about. Ann has forgotten more about writing than Courtney knows, and she’s a better writer than damn ear anyone I’ve ever met.

Next time you get insulted, read it in context.

Ah. Apparently Grant was interrogating the text from the wrong perspective. I mean, clearly Konrath was perfectly polite in his exchange with Milan, as evidenced by his above potshot at Milan’s outspoken views on feminism.

At one point, Konrath appears to be trying to bring the conversation in his comments section to a close by stating:

I have no control over what insults people. But I did write a very funny, very sexy romance, which I’m excited about, and want to tell the world about, so I’m very amused by the reaction it is getting.

There’s no zero sum in writing. One author’s sale don’t come at the expense of another. I encourage writers, I don’t take offense when someone enters my genre. I wasn’t aware I needed to get a union card to write ER. :)

The amount of butt hurt wafting off this comment is strong. First of all, it isn’t the book that’s garnering attention; that’s just deluded self-flattery. The reason Konrath has found himself at the center of this conflict is that he said something ignorant, he was called on it, claimed he meant something else, but still stands by the original statement enough to continually argue with authors who know the genre better than him. And better than his writing partner; when asked by Milan if she could name a boundary pushing self-published erotic romance author, Peterson listed  Bella Andre, H.M Ward, Jasinda Wilder, and Liliana Hart, none of whom are considered erotic romance authors.

Second, no one in the conversation suggested that the book Konrath and Peterson wrote isn’t welcome in the genre, or that they’re not allowed to write in the genre. People were upset by the statement Konrath made, that a book like his couldn’t have been written ten years ago.

The cherry on top of the condescension sundae is when Konrath seems to imply that the ire directed toward him by erotic romance authors is one of financial envy. The concern was never that this book would sell so incredibly well that all of us would be out here wailing and gnashing our teeth in seething want of the same professional success. The concern was that Konrath had made the statement that a book like his couldn’t have been written (again, not published, not self-published, not successfully marketed, but simply could not have been written) ten years ago, because the “mindset” didn’t exist. And when faced with the overwhelming evidence that yes, the erotic romance “mindset” existed prior to the time he had the idea to make money off it, he chose to repeatedly ignore both the proof of that and his own words. He blatantly refuses to admit that the “mindset” that creates feminist friendly, kinky books existed prior to the time he believes it did.

For some bizarro reason, some ER writers think I’m disrespecting them by not acknowledging them, and that I have no business writing in this genre.

Seriously? You sound like whiny fans who are mad that the band they discovered in high school now sells out arenas.

Gosh. I don’t know why anyone would find that insulting at all.

Samantha Goes Cosplaying

For weeks, Bronywn Green has been telling me, “I wish I could tell you about your Christmas present, because you’re going to love it!” She also said stuff like, “Do you have any yarn left over from your Doctor Who scarf?” and “You know that jacket you wore for your steampunk Doctor costume?”

Well, this past Saturday, I found out what was up.

Some of you may remember my American Girl doll, Samantha, who was gifted to me by a magic candy lady. The doll has become my unofficial mascot among my friends. They even made a movie trailer about her. She came with me to Authors After Dark in Charlotte, where I wore my steampunk 4th Doctor genderswap cosplay:

 

So, Bronwyn (being how she is) made an exact replica of my costume for Samantha, right down to 10′s sneakers. She even hand-sculpted a replica of River Song’s sonic to go with it:

IMG_20141213_153729616I wish I had a better quality picture, but I guess life isn’t fair. However, I assure you, it is exactly like my costume, in every way.

The very best gifts are heartfelt, obsessive, and bordering on disturbed. Now, whenever I cosplay as the steampunk 4th lady Doctor, I have to bring Samantha with me.

 

The annual Trout Nation Love, Actually watch-a-long!

I’m dreaming of the kind of Christmas where some hot Portuguese chick with a lower back tattoo leaps into a pond to save my shitty manuscript.

Just kidding. Unlike Colin Firth, I’m not a hipster who thinks a novel needs to be written on a fucking typewriter.

Anyway, it’s that time of year again! Time to watch Love, Actually with each other as a family, and tweet about it like we don’t realize that it’s actually a pretty fucked up movie.

Merry Christmas

Last year, we did three watch-a-long times, but I found out that I can’t watch Emma Thompson cry three times in one day, so this year, let’s meet up at these times:

Friday, December 19, 4 p.m. EST (UTC -5)

Friday, December 19, 8 p.m. EST (UTC -5)

Start your DVD, streaming service, or illegally downloaded file that you’re going to pretend is one of those two at one of those time, hop on Twitter, and tweet to the hashtag #BillyMack so we can all chat about the movie together!

Merlin Club S04E07: “The Secret Sharer” or “Does everyone have to get kidnapped and tortured before Arthur wakes the fuck up?”

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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.

Continue reading

State of The Trout: Podcasting A Dead Horse

Hello out there!

I went on a podcast! Papercuts Podcast had a throwback show to talk about the “YA Mafia,” a watershed moment in author/reader interaction. Also, other stuff. You can listen to it here if you’ve ever been curious about the number of times I can say “uh” in a single sentence, then enjoy!

I’ll be signing at the Romantic Times book signing in Dallas, TX! I was waiting to add this to the appearances page until it was confirmed that I would be signing, but I totally will be there, May 16, 2015, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency on Reunion blvd. I’ll keep reminding you, but if you want to come out and have me ask you a thousand questions about the weather where you live (other people who have come out to meet me can confirm that this is exactly the experience of meeting me), then I will be there waiting happily. I do know that it costs money to get into the book fair, but it’s worth it because basically everyone who writes YA, NA, erotic romance, etc. are going to be there.

I don’t have anything else to put here, but I like to have three things. Have a good week!

Jealous Hater’s Book Club: Apolonia Chapter 6

FLASHY GIF WARNING: There is a flashy gif in here. It’s not so flashy that it triggered any events for me, but you know your stuff better than I know your stuff, so heads up, there’s a picture with blinky text on it. It’s David Tennant, and it comes after two pictures of me looking alternately hopeful, then angry.

This book was a finalist in the GoodReads Reader’s Choice awards this year.

For best science fiction.

DoctorFacepalm

 

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Merlin Club S04E06 “A Servant Of Two Masters”

merlinbanner2

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.

Continue reading

State of The Trout: Here’s why shit isn’t getting done

Hey everybody! This is just a quick update to tell you:

The Afflicted has been updated. You can read it here.

“Why isn’t the blog being updated? You may ask yourself in the next week or so. The answers are, “I’m dreadfully behind in my work,” and “I am extremely ill right now.” So please be patient as I recover from whatever this horrible bug is, and I’ll be free to blog at will once my current project is finished (which won’t take long).

You can all rest easy. Though it was nominated for Best Science Fiction of 2014 in the GoodReads Reader’s Choice Awards, Apolonia did not win, and we’re hopefully saved from a glut of non-science fiction YA/NA creeping into the genre.

Now I’m going off to be melodramatic in the extreme about how sick I am.