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Author: JennyTrout

RECOMMENDED READING: “Too White Bread for This Shit: Race and Racism in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Urban Fantasy Series”

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As a former LKH reader, I was absolutely blown away by this article by Stitch over at Stitch’s Media Mix. Because I started reading the books when there were only five out, there is so much I forgot between books and seeing it all together in one place was shocking. I think you guys will find it really interesting.

What I Did On My Broken Brain Vacation

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Hey everyone! I wanted to have a Buffy recap done this week, but it didn’t pan out. I’m not pushing myself hard on anything right now, which is like…mildly panicky for me? Because I don’t know how to be when I’m not working from the moment my eyes open to the moment I drag my ass to bed at night?

The truth is, I’ve been doing the bare minimum. Which isn’t great because I have a deadline coming up for Where We Land and I’m definitely not going to make it (the release may be postponed, we’ll see what happens and how much padding I built into the schedule), but right now I just feel like I absolutely have to take it easy on myself.

So, I’ve been making art. For example:

I made a ouija board. It's watercolor stained with pink and orange and brown and has gold lettering and embellishments like a keyhole and a watch face and various crystals.

And

An abstract painting of a woman holding a human heart.

and also

A pocket watch with a glass lid. Inside is a photo of Herman Melville. An ivory whale charm is affixed to the front edge of the glass.

and now I’m working on an oil painting that has sparked a huge fight between me and my teen son about whether or not my use of negative space is “wasteful” or not.

The negative space is part of the damn piece. When it’s finished, I’ll show it here and everyone can debate whether or not it’s “wasteful”.

This is why educating children is a bad idea, by the way.

Any how, I just wanted to update everyone on what’s going down on my end. I know some people were freaked when I said I needed to reconsider my career or whatever. I should have been more clear with my hiatus announcement. I needed to restructure and reprioritize, not sit and think about whether or not I should still write and blog. But it’s not like I can just quit my job and be an artist and live off wishes and dreams. This ain’t an episode of House Hunters.

So, things on the blog might be slow for a while. Drunk Tarot keeps on happening (it’s moved to Twitch) and I’m still writing, just more slowly than I used to. Which is already slow, but I can’t let that shit stress me out. Right now, the most important thing I can do is focus on myself. I’m getting into a good place and things are going dandy.

Although I am, perhaps, inhaling too many various fumes.

Before I end this, I want to put in a product plug that is in no way sponsored. I paid for this product myself and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. It’s Ranger Multi Media Matte and it is like…the most supernaturally amazing glue/sealant I’ve ever found in my life. Those metal and crystal embellishments on the spirit board? They’re not going anywhere. That whalebone charm (legal whalebone, it’s an antique pendant that was a gift from my mother-in-law years ago, the whale has been dead a long time) is glued to glass and I’ve wrenched on it and wrenched on it to make sure it won’t pop off. I don’t know what it’s made of, but if you work in mixed media, you have to have this product plus, a little goes a very long way; I sealed the spirit board and planchette, did other gluey stuff with it, and I still have half of a 3 oz. jar left. Again, I say, mixed media artists, get some of this if you don’t already have it. It’s a game changer.

Going Forward

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I don’t want to rehash this forever and ever, so I’m choosing to post this on Friday rather than on Monday, so everything is contained within one particularly bad week. Then next week, things can be positive and happy and shiny and new.

On Saturday night, I was not acting in my right mind when I deleted my earlier post and tweets and apologized for the harm I caused the subject of the article. I was at the beginning of a serious mental health crisis, manic, paranoid, and out of touch with reality, and I assumed responsibility for a situation that I did not cause. I retract any statements made over the weekend and hope everyone will substitute them with these, instead.

I will not back down from my condemnation of the other author’s behavior. I’m also not going to use her name or my old one. In fact, I would prefer if, from now on, people never mentioned either to me again. I would ask, with full respect to the transgender community and apologies for borrowing your term, that everyone treat my old name as if it were a dead name and consider the psychological harm that hearing it or seeing it in print does to me before you use it.

  • It wasn’t about a first name. Jennifer was the most common name for girls in the United States in 1980. I have never felt harmed by not being the only Jennifer in the room. I’m mildly surprised when I am the only Jennifer in a room. During my first years as author, another Jennifer, Jennifer Rardin, had a vampire series out as well. I never felt harmed by the existence of her name nor her books.
  • It wasn’t about a last name. The last name isn’t common, but it isn’t entirely rare. There is a woman with my exact same birth name, down to each and every letter, who lives in my area. With the exception of the time we both used the same credit union and they accidentally merged our accounts, I have never felt harmed by sharing a name with her. I have been online friends for years with a woman whose name is the other spelling. She is also a writer but in an entirely different field. I have never felt harmed by sharing a name with her.
  • It wasn’t about a cover. My book Such Sweet Sorrow has a cover that is extremely similar to Lia Habel’s Dearly, Departed. We have joked about it and even posed holding the “wrong” book on Instagram to promote an event we were attending. As far as I’m aware, she doesn’t feel threatened, jealous, or abused as a result, and that feeling is mutual. We’ve known each other for years and it’s never been a point of contention between us.
  • Coincidences happen. In 2006, my debut novel, Blood Ties Book One: The Turning came out at the same time as Lori Armstrong’s Blood Ties. We were seated beside each other at the Romantic Times convention book signing. I did not feel threatened, jealous, or abused as a result. There are hundreds of romance novels titled Boss or [verbing] The Boss or even, yes, The Boss. I have never felt threatened, jealous, or abused as a result. I am not a person who gets upset at small coincidences. In fact, I usually give people the benefit of the doubt.

It’s when a pattern of behavior emerges that I find it more difficult or sometimes, like now, even impossible, to extend that benefit. The name alone is not an issue. The cover alone is not an issue. In fact, those two things are the most minor of the allegations contained in the article; I found myself sitting here saying, “Jesus, at least it was just my name. It could have been way worse.” Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And hypocrisy; I can state with absolute certainty that if debut author J.S. Ward wrote about two demon-hunting brothers who criss-cross the midwest in a classic car and occasionally hang out with an angel and God himself, but claimed to have never seen Supernatural, they would be roasted like a squirrel on a gas-fired grill.

I have been accused of “blaming” my mental health issues on the other author. I have never done so. I have stated that the situation has, historically, exacerbated my symptoms. I have been in and out of psychiatric treatment since the second grade. This situation didn’t make me crazy and I’ve never said: “this author made me mentally ill.” She could come to me tomorrow, look me in the face, say, “My name is Martina Horowitz and I did this to you intentionally,” and I still wouldn’t blame her for the fact that I’m mentally ill. Because that’s preposterous. The situation has been detrimental to my already poor health and I’ve been honest about that as part of my ongoing attempts to be transparent about mental health issues and what I experience as a result of them. Whether the actions that caused the situation were intentional or not, I own my experiences and I am not obligated to minimize or dismiss them.

As a result, I’m going to be taking some steps to protect my health.

  • Removing myself from the romance “community” on social media for as long as I deem necessary. Note: this doesn’t mean I won’t write anymore. I’m going to keep writing and publishing, just like I have been. It’s my calling, and I won’t allow it to be taken from me. But I won’t be engaging in any other “issue” in the community. Plainly put, it’s because it’s been made clear, through the words and actions of several of my colleagues, that I am not a part of the community. So, when I see people shouting their heads off over the latest drama, I won’t be lending my voice to condemn or support. I had already scaled back my involvement after the Fiona Haskins incident and my overall health and productivity improved, so it won’t be difficult to let it go the rest of the way. I do, however, want to point out that we didn’t adequately mock Jimmy Thomas for comparing himself to a cheetah.
  • Unfollowing, blocking, or muting people on social media if they express support for or promote the author. Again, sounds harsh. Sounds like I’m saying, “You have to pick her or me!” Nope. Not at all. What I’m saying is, anything to do with this woman can trigger my depression, anxiety, OCD, imposter syndrome, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. You could be the most awesome person in the world, but I still have a duty to care for myself first. If I unfollow you or block you or I don’t respond to you and you think it’s because I muted you? It might not be personal at all or me hating you or something you said. It might just be necessary. You have a right to do whatever you want to do and again, it’s not personal at all and I don’t expect anyone to swear their allegiance to me. It’s protection for myself, not a comment on your value as a person, an attack on you, or what I think of you.
  • Unfollowing and muting anyone who attends or promotes the author’s conference. Again, this is not personal and I’m not issuing an ultimatum. Cons are expensive and they’re necessary to further your career and broaden your readership. I don’t expect anyone to suddenly cancel their plans or scrap their promo. I simply have to minimize (hopefully eradicate) my awareness of her existence if I’m going to continue to do the job that I am good at and that I was put here to do. I cannot allow this person to take up space in my head that I need to create my own, authentic work. I want everyone to succeed, but I want to continue to succeed, too.
  • No longer attending or participating in conventions or events. The fact that my brief interaction with one author led to her claiming familiarity to try to gain control of the narrative on Twitter, and another brief, professional interaction between myself and the subject of the article was used to suggest I’m not allowed to have or express my own anger over the revelations in that article have convinced me that it’s simply not in my best interest to socialize in those types of situations. I’ll still do things for libraries. Obviously. I’m not a monster.

Does this all seem extreme? Oh well, I guess? Does it seem like I’m threatening to take my toys and go home? Okay, if that’s how you’d like to frame it. But what this really is about is the deep sense of betrayal I felt when these allegations, which would have buried an author of lesser standing, were brushed aside, while the person who exposed them was crucified. That article revealed years of gaslighting, not just from the author but the industry and my own brain. And it was dismissed as unimportant. A non-issue. And loud voices behaved as though it was my job to stay quiet, push down my pain, and even apologize.

I do not owe strangers the comfort of my silence. But I also don’t owe anyone my anger. So, this, and not my deleted post, should be considered my last words on the subject from here out. I’ll see everyone on Monday.

The Big Damn Writing Tracker 2: Return Of The Big Damn Writing Tracker

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It’s almost 2019, everyone. Time to start setting those goals for the year!

Caitlin Doughty of Ask A Mortician fame announced last week that 2019 would be her “year of ambition.” And I was like, right on, I want it to be my year of ambition, too! And then I was like, wait. I’m always ambitious. It’s like…the organization and goal setting and shit that I’m bad at? And then I get to the end of the year and go…holy crap. Holy crap, I don’t remember doing anything this year.

One thing that has always helped me is keeping track of my progress on goals. Duh, Jenny, everyone likes to see a visual representation of their measurable progress. I know, I know. But sometimes, we actually need people to remind us of this. In 2019, let me be your reminder, oh Trout Nation!

Years ago, I made a very simple spreadsheet I called The Big Damn Writing Tracker, and I shared it with you all. It included all sorts of inspiring quotes from successful people…many of whom revealed themselves to be racists, sexual predators, anti-semites, homophobes, and general trash in the intervening years. So, I decided it’s time for an update. The Big Damn Writing Tracker 2 is just like the Big Damn Writing Tracker, but without the quotes and with a whole new sheet for tracking your progress on individual projects.

You can download the Big Damn Writing Tracker 2 here. Don’t have Excel? No problem! Download the file and you can import it into Google Drive. Just create a new spreadsheet through Google Sheets, click on the file menu,  select import, and the Big Damn Writing Tracker 2 will fill itself in. However, in the Excel version, the formula cells will be locked, but in the Google Sheets version, they won’t be. So, be careful not to erase or re-enter anything in the formula boxes. If you’re working on Excel, this won’t be an issue; you won’t be able to click on any protected cells.

And hopefully, I didn’t accidentally leave my own information plugged in.

I also created a video that is a little hard to see (sorry), so you’ll probably want to embiggen it. I apologize that the CC are only half-corrected; I had some computer issues crop up while I was about two minutes deep into the CCs. The rest of them are unedited YouTube garbage and I’m super sorry about that.

 

I hope this helps everyone and I also hope that this blog will remain on schedule while I struggle with this whole computer thing! Cross your fingers!

Jealous Haters Book Club: Beautiful Disaster Chapter Three, “Cheap Shot” or “It Doesn’t Stand For Students Against Drunk Dancing, You Irresponsible Fucks”

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A quick note before I start the recap proper: I notice that a lot of people in the comments will say stuff about how terrible it is that I’m enduring this book. Please, don’t worry about that. Nobody has a gun to my head forcing me to write these recaps (although sometimes I’d get them done faster if that were the case). The Fifty Shades of Grey series really did take a toll on my mental health, culminating in me noping the fuck out of Grey. But there were a lot of factors at play at that moment in my life, in my industry, and in pop culture overall that contributed to that. When I blogged Fifty, it was inescapable. So, I’d put in eight hours on a recap, go get on social media and everyone was discussing it, try to watch TV and there were ads for it, interviews with the “author”, eventually there were movie trailers, and if I opened my inbox there would usually be forty to fifty emails about whatever piece of breaking news had developed about it. Fifty Shades of Grey wasn’t just in the zeitgeist, it was the zeitgeist, and it was the inescapability coupled with the mindless proselytizing about how it was going to fix women’s sexuality forever that drove me into the ground.

Beautiful Disaster was never, and will never be, as relentlessly famous as Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s steeped in misogyny, the plot is unbelievable, the writing is atrocious and the characters are intolerable, but that’s all this experience really has in common with Fifty Shades.

Plus, this isn’t a four-year undertaking. I’m sure as hell not going to read all the other Beautiful books.

So, chins up, everyone, don’t worry about this taking any kind of mental toll on me. I’m actually really having fun on this one, just because it’s riding the line of hilariously bad/infuriatingly stupid that makes it easy to mock.

That said, this “fun” recap has all sorts of rape discussion in it. Heads up.

Jealous Haters Book Club: Beautiful Disaster Chapter Two, “Pig,” or “Yes, still incredibly accurate.”

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The super nice thing about these recaps is that there’s no news to frantically keep up on. Except for news that happens in the comments. It seems a fair number of you are building an elaborate conspiracy theory in which this is Lady and The Tramp human AU fanfic. I don’t know how I’ll ever recover from typing that sentence.

I’ll add a disclaimer here that if I don’t point out a specific typo or error in a quoted passage, it’s not in the actual text. It’s just my butterfingers and I’ve overlooked it in the spellcheck.

Jealous Haters Book Club: Beautiful Disaster chapter one, “Red Flag” or “No shit, ya think?”

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Well, here we are again. I guess it must be fate, etc. I was going to try to make that into a Peter Cetera joke but I couldn’t ultimately make it land. I’m almost 100% sure that half my readership wouldn’t get it, anyway, because I am a thousand years old. And I am also 100% likely to have made that joke before.

We find ourselves at the beginning of yet another Jealous Haters Book Club selection. Now, before we get started, I would like to remind everyone reading this that I did not pick this book. The people of Trout Nation nominated and voted for it. I am putting this disclaimer here because someone warned me that the author has diehard fans who will come in droves to attack me, but honestly, do any of the big name pioneers of New Adult romance even have diehard fans anymore? Not even the E.L. James devotees are a mobilized army anymore. And aside from James, a lot of the New Adult authors who dominated the lists four years ago aren’t even hitting #1 in their very specific Amazon categories. New Adult isn’t dead (at least, I hope, because that’s what I’m writing next), but it’s not breaking down walls the way it did once upon a time. I can’t imagine these authors wield the same influence they once did.

Anyway, as I said, I really don’t like this author, her clique, or anybody having anything to do with her, but this wasn’t my choice. Especially after reading one of her other books. That said, I went into this trying hard to be objective. Almost contrarily so. Because so many people insisted to me over the years that this book is terrible, I was sure they were all exaggerating.

So far, it’s looking like I’m super wrong.

Let’s get into the first chapter, which yes, really is titled “Red Flag.” So, at least the author appears to be cognizant of what she’s doing.

Does that make it worse?

The Big Damn Angel Rewatch S01E05, “Rm with a Vu”

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In every generation, there is a chosen one. No, shit. Wrong show. What am I supposed to do, now? I guess I’ll just have to recap every episode Angel with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Angel is still a dick.
  2. Cordelia is smarter than everyone.
  3. Sex is still evil.
  4. Sunlight isn’t nearly as dangerous as it was in Sunnydale…
  5. …but its danger is certainly inconsistent.
  6. Vampire/demon rules aren’t consistent with the Buffyverse.
  7. Xenophobia and cultural stereotypes abound.
  8. Women are disposable and unrealistic.
  9. Vampires still @#$%ing breathe.
  10. Some of this stuff is still homophobic as fuck.
  11. Blondes, blondes everywhere
  12. Smoking is still evil.
  13. A lot of this shit is really misogynistic.
  14. Some of this stuff is ableist as fuck.
  15. Some of this shit is still racist as fuck.

The Big Damn Angel Damsel In Distress Counter: 8

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: Just like with the Buffy recaps, I’ve seen (most) of this series already, so I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So a blanket spoiler warning is in effect.

A Bewitched Musing/Trout Nation crossover video

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Hey there, friends! This video is part of a series I’ve been putting a lot of work and planning into. And while it’s not exactly the type of content that you come to Trout Nation for, this particular meditation technique is one that has helped me immensely in my writing. So, if you’re not totally averse to New Age stuff and you’ve been looking for new creativity boosting or mental health managing skills, this might be something you’d want to check out.

More information in the video!