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Author: JennyTrout

State Of The Trout: Fits and Bursts and Bits and Pieces

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The year of Chaotic Creativity is…really quite something, so far. It might seem from the lack of recent posts here that I haven’t been doing much. Boy. Howdy.

Once I accepted two very important things, my creativity exploded. Those two things: my brain doesn’t work on a schedule and I’m not a failure if I don’t finish something every single day. As a result, I’ve been chugging along, putting bits and pieces into both blog business and the following things:

  • a children’s book
  • two small-town romances
  • a massive fantasy novel/world
  • learning to draw furry art
  • figuring out how to rap and writing a diss track about the haters
  • planning out twenty episodes of a comedy podcast I’d like to launch this year
  • designing things to put on t-shirts and other merch
  • a stream-of-consciousness memoir

Now, will any of this pan out? Who the hell knows? I’m using the patchwork approach to my blog and my Patreon and multiple other projects that must be released this year, like Queen of Hell (the sequel to Nightmare Born) and In The Blood (the first of hopefully many monster-fucking books I’ll release as Jennifer Morningstar), so I feel like please expect everything to come in fits and bursts and let’s see how this approach works going forward. But I can honestly say that this is the most creatively fulfilled and positive I’ve felt in a really, really long time. The other day, I wrote so much by hand that I ran out a whole brand new ink pen.

Also, you know those afghans people crochet or knit that have colors based on the temperature every day? And then at the end of the year, it’s like, here’s my blanket that shows what the weather has been like?

I made one of those, but different.

This is my pain blanket on the last day of January:

A wavy-stripe afghan of many colors, stretched out on a table.

Every day, I keep track of the pain that I’m in and assign it a level based on the standard numerical pain scale. I would show you a physical example of which colors correspond to which pain level, but I spilled coffee on my bujo page where I’d made this lovely layout with pieces of the yarn and their colors and the dye lot. We’re gonna just settle on this.

2 – dark blue
3 – less bright teal
4 – bluish-white
5 – surgical scrubs green
6 – light brown/gray
7 – very light green
8 – darker brown
9 – obnoxiously bright teal
10 – obnoxiously bright sky blue

There is no 0 or 1 because I have not had a 0 or 1 day since 2009 and it would be a waste of yarn.

This will be the only time I’ll be able to show it to you spread out on a table. This section is actually about 50″ wide, so you’re only seeing a very small bit of it. When it’s done and blocked, it’ll be big enough for a queen-sized bed (if I did the math right). I started off with an actual blanket pattern, then I was like, nah, I’ll just do row after row of shells. It’s easier for watching tv and not paying attention, it will look the same on both sides, and it will catch up faster when I have days I can’t work on it. One row for each day, Pima cotton because if I’m spending a year on it, so I  want it to be sturdy.

And at the end of the year, when all is said and done, I’ll have a fine blanket to snuggle up in and a cool visual reminder that I’m not a superhuman who is choosing to fail at life. I am a disabled person who has to fight through tons and tons and tons of pain and if you consult that there chart for January, I’m finding out that I’m in worse shape than I thought.

Buffy/Angel Recaps are ending. After the events of the weekend, I can no longer pretend that separating the art from the artist is possible for me in this case. When I watch the show now, all I see are abused and traumatized young women. I’m so pissed off at Joss Whedon for abusing actors that the fandom had come to love as their real, human selves. I can’t watch my “friends” anymore knowing they were in such a terrible situation. It doesn’t feel right. I know this is disappointing and it sucks, but as more and more about Joss has leaked out over the years, the reality was getting harder and harder to overcome.

Finally, I bring you the gossip that you deserve: I know I said I was never, ever, ever going to give her publicity again, but I thought this was definitely petty enough to post. Jamie McGuire, writer of the infamous “cum-burping gutter slut” line, now has an OnlyFans.

 

Jamie McGuire's OnlyFans page, which features a header photo collage of her in a black bustier and circa 2007 Lindsay Lohan makeup making sexy faces (including biting her lip). Her userpic is her in a skimpy red bikini and some kind of baseball hat

But it’s only for stuff about her books. Nothing dirty. Just stuff about her books. And art. The cleavage and bikini and fuck-me-face and “Single Mom” on a website mostly used to sell adult content is just how you make it in the books and art world.

Look. I don’t care if someone has an OnlyFans account, okay? Maybe I’ll set up an OnlyFans account and it will just be me staring vacantly into the camera while I eat eggs. And I don’t know what kind of content she has on there. It might be nudes and I not paying ten dollars to look at freckly middle-aged caucasian skin. I’m just not into it, okay? I’ve got literally yards of my own. But even if she’s on there spreading beaver, fine. She has the right to do that. Not my beaver, not my business.

What is my business is that a woman who has made it her life’s mission to call other women sluts and whores and even ran for office as a misogynist piece of GOP anti-choice trash has her cups runnething over on a site associated with sex work. I don’t care if someone gets their tits out on the internet for profit. I do care if someone gets their tits out for profit while maintaining that only sluts and whores lose their virginities or whatever the fuck she was trying to get across in her pointless books. The constant hypocrisy that rolls like a tide of sewage onto the medical-waste-strewn beach of the Christian conservative thought process never ceases to disgust me.

Bonus, she’s taking a vacation right now. In Jamaica, a country with hit-or-miss medical care facilities. During the pandemic.

And you know she’s probably a fucking anti-masker.

Counting Lambs

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Around August of 2020, my dreams became very small.

Maybe it’s the quarantine. The world has become very small. Can a brain run out of things to process?

It could be my stress levels.

For whatever reason, my dreams have become very small.

And I have become very aware.

There are places I can go to in my dreams. The same ones, over and over, cobbled together in a city that is at once Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, the French Quarter, downtown Las Vegas, and New York City all at once. There’s a lake. There’s a place that’s a cross between Disney World and various video games; last night, I spent quite a bit of time in a farming simulation that was also my high school and a community theater performance. Along with the familiar locations of my high school (often mixed with my middle school) and the community theater that is a jumble of both theaters I volunteer at, I can attend a nightmare mashup of the churches I attended as a child. There’s always a funeral going on! I can also go on vacation with my friends, ride jet skis, visit my grandparents’ lake house, or simply stroll the streets of my own village, which isn’t an exact replica but does contain the most anxiety-inducing grocery store ever designed.

Or the shopping mall.

It is every shopping mall and none. It is a closed-down mall, a 1980s throwback mall, a glitzy Detroit suburb mall, all in the same enormous building (one side of which is a second-run discount movie theater, another, a seedy strip mall).

Because I am lucid in these dreams, but still obviously dreaming, I occasionally treat myself.

But because I am lucid in these dreams, but somehow still awake, I occasionally treat myself. I wake up the next morning, confused as to why there are notifications that Wish has received my payment.

The first time this happened, I panicked, until I saw that I’d only spent three dollars on a charming little ring instead of eleven dollars for a set of ten crack pipes.

I don’t know why those always pop up in my recommendations.

The second time it happened, I’d spent twelve dollars, total. Nothing alarming. I’ve done this five times since August and as it turns out, I’m just as cheap in my dreams as I am in real life. Otherwise, I would have to seek some kind of treatment.

Most of the time, what I buy in my dream is nothing like what shows up in my mailbox. One night, I bought a huge potted plant and tickets to a Billy Joel concert. Waking in a panic, I found that all I’d ordered was a correction tape that prints little owls over your mistakes. Total cost: $3.87 after shipping.

Other times, I’ll dream of buying something adjacent to the product I’m actually sleep-buying. Nail polish in the night becomes an eyeliner/eyeshadow combo in the morn. Brass knuckles become a silicone mold for casting self-defense keychains from resin. They make sense. But none of them have been literal.

Until now.

We’ve come through a lot of words here to get to my point: I have literally had a dream come true.

It is a hoodie. And it is beautiful.

A hoodie draped over the back of my computer chair. It is printed with a huge image of Mariah Carey. As in, like a photo of Mariah Carey is the print of the entire fabric.

The Year of Chaotic Creation Update!

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I said I would do it. And now it’s here.

It’s the year of Chaotic Creation. And my, what a year it has been.

Ah, I see it is the 13th of January.

[insert the endless shriek of a thousand souls withering in the icy grasp of a godless universe]

How have I passed the time so far? What have I created, aside from the very, very brief animation above?

I made fan art of my own characters. I started out with Iris, from Nightmare Born:

I drew Iris as a cartoon character, basically head and shoulders. She has red curly hair, anime eyes, and she's wearing a purple and pink shirt. She's outlined in purple.

She’s outlined in purple because that color is a theme in the book.

I tried to cartoon-ify Sophie from The Boss, too, but I forgot her shoes and, as Bronwyn Green noted, it looks like Sophie is aware of the oversight:

I drew Sophie with a big head, long neck, pink dress, and...no shoes.

Please note, I left plenty of room to do shoes and even a shadow on the ground but I was like, eh, fuck it, good enough.

Look, I’m just getting the hang of digital art, okay? I’ve never used a Wacom tablet before and although I am an eternal child, I am also an old. I’ll get better. I’ve even got plans for what I’m doing with this skill when I do get better!

I’ve also started learning some very, very, very basic game design. Will I ever make a game? Who the fuck knows. But it will be nice to know how they work.

“But Jenny,” you may be saying to yourself, “What about your Patreon posts and other posts here?” You’re probably not saying that because you’ve been following this blog and you’re so much nicer to me than I could ever possibly be, but never fear, it’s been lurking in the back of my mind. I’ve been working on those things, as well, but my brain has been pretty overwhelmed with the violent insurrection and the whole civil war thing we have going on of late, so I can only do a little at a time. But you know what? I’m actually very, very, very proud of what I’m getting done, even if it’s not a huge word count every single day.

I hope you’re all staying happy, healthy, and not-seditious. If you aren’t already subscribed to my YouTube channel, it might be worth your while; I’ll be uploading some content soon (internet issues have made uploading anything a total nightmare) and it’s gaming oriented, so if you’re into The WitcherStardew Valley, or Graveyard Keeper, smash that notification button or however the kids are saying shit these days.

2021: The Year Of Chaotic Creation

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Here’s what I’m doing in 2021. If it sounds good to you, do it, too. I think after the hell year of 2020 and the fact that there really isn’t a ton of light at the end of the tunnel yet, we all need something to get us off the couch and away from doom scrolling and binge-watching, and generally just wandering around in a stupor. We might not be able to get out of the house, but we can get into our heads.

In 2021, I am creating chaotically. And when I say it’s gonna be chaos…it’s gonna be chaos. Because I realized that there is a) no reason that all of my creative energy needs to go into either secret projects I don’t show anyone for fear of feeling “monetized” or projects that are extremely monetized and b) I’m my own boss and I can do literally whatever I want.

Obviously, I’ve got the recaps I’m going to keep doing because I like doing those (although Buffy is getting harder to get on board with; Joss Whedon makes my skin crawl and he’s basically destroyed my love for the show). I’m going to devote more time to The Business Centaur’s Virgin Temp, because I’m enjoying that, too.

But you know what else I enjoy? LITERALLY EVERYTHING.

If you stood in my office and you saw all the stuff in here, you’d be like, “This person has never finished a craft project in her life.” I have so many hobbies that in the past, I’ve had to actively participate in community craft fairs to be able to afford more supplies. I’m like some Dickensian urchin warming himself in a doorway, begging passers by, “Please, sir, just a drop of gouache?”

Here are all the things I like…do:

  • knitting
  • crochet
  • community theater
  • oil and acrylic paintings
  • painting and designing custom ouija boards
  • decorating miniature rooms in an unfinished wooden castle for no reason
  • play a little bit of a lot of different instruments, badly
  • sing
  • game
  • crafting theatrical props
  • writing thoughts about metaphysical stuff and rarely posting to a hobby blog
  • epoxy resin pieces
  • watercolor
  • counted cross-stitch
  • illustrating a children’s book I made up
  • bullet journaling
  • coloring in those adult coloring books which is a misleading name because there aren’t any bewbs.
  • soap making
  • needle felting
  • fanfic
  • writing screenplays/teleplays of my own work
  • So much weird mixed medium stuff

Writing is such a very small percentage of what comes out of my head. While I sometimes post art on Instagram, I generally keep it under my hat because I am a writer, you see, and there is only ONE THING I AM ALLOWED TO BE.

Everyone told me that when I turned forty, I would no longer give any fucks. Any at all. And surprisingly, the area hardest hit was my perception of myself and how I’d pigeon-holed myself. Not a single fuck left. I don’t need to keep a side hobby blog for my witchy-poo nonsense. There’s no reason I’m not allowed to put that here. And there’s no reason I’m not allowed to put my art here when it’s not a mental health update or something. And if I want to make a YouTube video of me singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in front of a green screen scrolling a constant loop of kittens barfing in the background? There’s no reason I shouldn’t put it on this blog.

It’s my blog.

Also, the description of what my company, Trout Nation Inc., does is very vague and I’m the sole shareholder. I’ve also heard that blogs are “dead,” so if I’m one of the last villagers in this abandoned valley, I’m gonna take this in a real, real strange direction.

I know, Business Centaurs aren’t strange enough.

I guess what I’m saying is, plan on seeing a bunch of random stuff next year, as I allow my creative self to do whatever it fucking feels like and I just vomit it in here and on my YouTube channel. If you decide to do the same thing, let’s call it a Chaotic Creation Challenge, and you wanna post stuff to your blog or your social media, put a link in the comments to share. I don’t care if you come back to this post in July like, “Just built the largest card house I’ve ever achieved,” everyone is going to be psyched for you.

Because I’m the President-King of Trout Nation and I decree that we all have to be psyched for each other.

I’m not saying that 2021 is gonna be our best year. I’m definitely not setting goals in stone; we’ve seen how well that’s worked out progressively every year since 2016. But I am saying that 2020 took a lot of stuff from us and it’s time to create in the face of destruction, if that does, in fact, make you feel more hopeful.

If it doesn’t, then I invite you to take the Miserable Bastard Challenge, which is like the Chaotic Creation thing but just staying super cynical and angry. I fully support anyone who just cannot fucking trust 2021.

THE FINAL BOSS BOOK! Title change, cover reveal, and release date!

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READERS! IT’S HAPPENING! IT’S REALLY HAPPENING!

While I had planned to announce The Daughter‘s release date and reveal the cover last week, it just felt…wrong. And I didn’t know why. This is going to be the very last time I’m with Sophie. While I’ve been writing other books, as well, Sophie has been my main focus, my work wife, since I started writing the serialized version of The Boss in…was it 2013? I can’t remember. Either way, for the better part of a decade.

It was difficult to decide on a cover. I kept staring at it, going, “the title just doesn’t look right. None of this looks right. Is that even how ‘daughter’ is spelled? It looks so…wrong.”

I realized that out of all the titles in the series, none of them, not a single one, had referred to Sophie. For example:

  • The Boss referred to Neil.
  • The Girlfriend referred to Valerie.
  • The Bride was Emma.
  • The Ex was Stephen.
  • Obviously, Olivia is The Baby.
  • The Sister referred to Molly
  • The Boyfriend was El-Mudad

Sophie has never had top billing. When you read The Daughter, it’ll be clear who it refers to. But that person isn’t Sophie.

So, without further ado, the title and the cover for the final book in The Boss series will be (already ruined for you by the social media preview):

My Favorite Adult High Fantasy Romances/High Fantasy With Romantic Elements

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Over on Patreon, I’m running a Jealous Patrons Book Club feature where you can subscribe to recaps or discussion posts for A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I will refrain from putting my opinion on the book here, as that’s not what this post is about.

Instead, this post is about amazing High-Fantasy Romances or High-Fantasy with strong romantic elements that I have read and loved. There are titles on here you might recognize, but overall I feel like these books didn’t get the attention they deserved. You’re gonna see one and go, “Jenny, come on. You really think that one didn’t get enough attention?”

Yes. I think that even the most popular of these should be far more celebrated than they are, even if the only thing left is to declare an international day of appreciation and/or building a statue beneath which the author’s heart and brain will be entombed upon their death, that we may all be grateful to be so close to their most important parts.

That got grim.

Anyway, jam these in your eye holes or your earholes or the tips of your fingers. Which ever way you choose to read (though I’m not sure which formats all of these books are available in, to be perfectly frank). Oh, and I’ve excluded YA High Fantasy from the list because honestly, my list would be like, SUSAN DENNARD OKAY THAT’S ALL YOU NEED LOCK YOURSELF IN A ROOM AND READ EVERYTHING SHE’S WRITTEN, COOL?

These might also seem old, in terms of release. All but one of them are, indeed, decades old. But High Fantasy Romance has been something of a disappointment for me for the past few years. There was such a huge boom in the 00’s in the subgenre, but it feels like its’ petered out a bit. There was also a substantial rise in YA Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy/High Fantasy, so it did feel for a while like publishers went, “And the girly elf books go over here!” and I kind of wandered away from the genre and into books about WWII because congratulations, I’m your dad! But I’m always taking recommendations. Send them my way (and the way of everyone else) in the comments.

Authors On Parler

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Content Warning: hate speech of any flavor

IMPORTANT UPDATE 12/4/2020: It appears that some early-adopter accounts may have been compromised by bots. The list has been updated to reflect this.

This is a controversial post. I know that before writing it because people have told me that it’s controversial.

“I think putting people on a list is childish and unnecessary,” one person told me. “You’re going to name names and hurt someone’s career!” another said. Of course, the old chestnuts “freedom of speech!” and “just because they have a different opinion!” came up.

They were talking about my plans to out authors who joined Parler in the days after Donald Trump’s landslide failure in the 2020 presidential election.

For those unacquainted with the dregs of the internet, Parler is a Facebook alternative that brings together the worst of QAnon, MAGA, militia aficionados, Christian Dominionists, and more white supremacists than you can shake a blue lives matter flag at. Feeling “censored” by Facebook’s policy of gently suggesting that users double-check some of the baseless, absurd, and dangerous propaganda the right cranked out on the platform by the minute.

It is here I would like to point out the irony of people so invested in free speech not understanding what the First Amendment actually says. And I would like to reiterate that Facebook didn’t remove anyone’s content or prevent them from sharing it. They simply put a little note at the bottom of articles, memes, and lengthy diatribes that stated some of the information included wasn’t the truth when it was, in fact, not the truth. It wasn’t freedom of speech that these people had an issue with. It was the fact that they weren’t being allowed to spread hate, disinformation, wild conspiracy theories, and absurdly transparent calls to violent insurrection or the assassination of political figures as irrefutable truth that made them take their toys and run off to their hate circle.

Again: these are people so invested in destroying any non-white, non-straight, non-Protestant person in the country that they feel any attempt to correct or question their deliberate lies and destructive conspiracy theories was an attack on their personal liberty. By not tacitly accepting that what they are fighting for–genocide, eugenics, torture, tyranny, religious persecution, martial law, the list goes on and sinks lower–is righteous and unimpeachable, the word is ripping away their freedom.

They do not consider themselves free if they are not allowed to harm anyone who doesn’t look, act, and believe exactly as they do.

They do not consider themselves free if they are not allowed to kill, see killing, threaten to kill, or celebrate killing.

But these are the people that I, a queer, disabled person, should treat with the grace of anonymity. The people I should work alongside, potentially meet at industry functions. The people who should be celebrated by readers, who should have an easy path to success because…

Why?

Why should we not name the names of people who will happily show up to a book convention and sit beside a marginalized author, smile sweetly, take pictures, then immerse themself in the comforting embrace of free speech like:

  • “For everything that is wrong with this world there is a jew behind it.”
  • “I love laying in bed and rubbing my wet pussy to officers killing n***** men.”
  • “N***** lives don’t matter.”
  • “AIDS kills f*** dead.”
  • “THIS ISN’T OVER YET – NEVER BET AGAINST PRESIDENT TRUMP! WE ARE MANY – WE ARE MIGHTY WE ARE ARMED – WE ARE UNITED WE ARE TRUMP PATRIOTS – AND WE ARE PISSED! #SayYourPrayersDemocrats #MayGodHaveMercyOnYourSoulBecauseWeWont”
  • “Let’s see them try to enter the people house and attempt to remove our President, a National Treasure!!! Death will become them!”
  • “This woman is Evil Incarnate. We Cannot Allow This Satanic Shill To Enter Office. (Kamala Harris’ eyes turn completely black several times during this interview, she is full of unclean spirits ECHO THIS PLEASE)”
  • “Voting will not remove them. The only things n****** understand are pain and fear”
  • “IN WAR, IT’S KILL OR BE KILLED. WE NEED 50 MILLION ARMED AMERICAN PATRIOTS TO STORM DC AND KILL ALL THE SWAMP CRIMINALS NOW!!!!!!!!!!”

What was that, people who were horrified at the idea of naming names? Oh, you thought Parler was just the garden variety dog whistles you’re comfortable ignoring?

And this is the stuff in public posts made by users of the site. One can only imagine what kind of horror show goes on behind the locked accounts.

Marginalized people should not, will not, and cannot take a stance of non-involvement and polite tolerance toward people whose sole motivation is our total eradication. Asking us to do so is actively protecting the goals of these people. If your first thought upon seeing this list is, “That’s not nice,” then congratulations: you’re complicit.

But I know the perfect social media site for you to join.

Criteria for inclusion:

Because authors make their money off the internet and building a reader following, when a new platform pops up, we generally see them flock there. You never know when the next mega-platform will pop up, and being an early adopter comes with an initial lack of competition for views. Plus, other platforms have a habit of applying advertising and content rules haphazardly, often punishing authors for sharing excerpts or covers that are too racy. It made sense for many erotic romance authors to try out Parler two years ago; for them to still be there, they must have a damn good reason.

For an author’s name to be included on this list, their Parler account must include one or more of the following:

  • Posts or “echoes” of hate speech
  • Posts or “echoes” of election disinformation
  • A “following” list featuring at least two right-wing provocateurs, i.e., accounts following Donald Trump, InfoWars, or any QAnon accounts are automatically included regardless of original content posted by the user
  • A post-election “joined” date
  • A locked account
  • An announcement on other platforms directing readers to the author’s Parler account for reasons described in the introduction to this post

What are some reasons an author might have a Parler account and not be included in the list?

  • The account is an early adopt that hasn’t been updated frequently
  • The account doesn’t follow anyone
  • There are no posts/”echoes”
  • The author’s body of work is self-explanatory

The authors in question must also be published (either indie or traditional) or in the process of querying; we’re not gonna wait for these people to get book deals.

I came up with these criteria based on things I saw on the site itself, as well as from defenses used by authors and readers. Here are some examples:

  • Jamie Mcguire has a locked account with a verified badge. One of her readers argued that because Facebook removes ad content it deems inappropriate, McGuire was forced to switch platforms in order to advertise her books and publicize herself. This would be more believable if the account wasn’t behind a lock on a website that doesn’t allow access to anyone who doesn’t have a user account. Because that rationale makes absolutely no sense at all, she is on the list.
  • Jim Butcher has a Parler account. It is not verified. He joined in August of 2020. He follows no one. The only post on his account is the default post the site makes to get you started. He is not on the list.
  • Laura Loomer has a book coming out in 2021. She doesn’t need to be on the list because she calls herself a “proud Islamaphobe” and has built her entire brand on her profound hatred. Including her would be redundant. Yes, she’s a bigot and an author; no, she is not on the list.
  • A handful of authors on Parler really do seem to be there just to talk about writing and promote their books. They don’t follow any red-flag accounts, they don’t post weird stuff about killing their fellow citizens in an orgy of patriotism and finally getting to use all those bullets they’ve invested in. They’re just there. Maybe they’re there for nefarious purposes, but there’s no way to prove it. They’re not on the list.
  • Some authors expressed dismay at the fact that they’d joined the site in its early days and didn’t realize what it was for. Usually, their accounts were barely used or completely scrubbed of posts. If I can’t prove a person is there with malicious intent, they’re not on the list.

After nearly a month of combing hashtags and search terms, these are the names on the list. They are not in alphabetical order because for some reason, after reading about how I should die, how my friends should die, how half the country should be murdered, etc.? It just seemed like the straw of work that would break my back.

Please also note: it’s become something of a trend to use initials or close spellings to game search engine and retailer algorithms. Please be absolutely certain that you’ve done your own due diligence. This isn’t a list of hot gossip; this is a list of people who pose a danger to their fellow authors.

Click read more for the list.