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Author: JennyTrout

2023 starts off with a… sure. Sure, why not.

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Howdy, pardners. You may remember that in October of 2022, I got into a car accident. No, you know what, eff that, I’m not saying that I got into a car accident because I didn’t get into anything. I was minding my own business and someone else involved me in their car accident. And as a result, I have to have surgery.

Did you know your shoulder could rupture? I do! The orthopedic surgeon I was referred to pointed to this little black triangle on the MRI image and was like, “Do you see that?” and I, in all my medical expertise, thought, why yes, I do, this must be the injury. And then he pointed to a giant white mass that took up the rest of the image and said, “That’s what we want all of this white part to look like.”

I have so much stuff fucked up. One of my biceps is just no longer an option, I guess. Another muscle has a “full thickness tear,” and something is going to have to be done inside my shoulder that involves screws but honestly, I didn’t catch it all because this is so intensely gross that I was going to puke and pass out, probably at the same time.

Now, I’m not just putting this here to overshare and traumatize you with the knowledge that, under the correct conditions, someone might describe your shoulder as “ruptured.” It’s because I have to face the fact that my very productive 2023 might not be as productive as I previously hoped. Before the accident, I had set some ambitious but totally doable goals. I signed two contracts and started working on two books concurrently. One of those books is due March 30, and one is due April 1.

My surgery cannot be put off any longer, and I will have the operation on March 12.

I’m not panicking. You’re panicking.

No, I’m actually not panicking, but I am definitely prioritizing. First comes the legal, contractual obligations. Because I may have an immobilized right arm—my dominant arm—for up to three months, I’m scrambling to finish those books. I carefully budgeted my time in a realistic way, but now that I’m looking at a whole month just thhhttthhhpppttt right off the calendar, things are a little more urgent. I need to put those projects front and center.

Second on the priority list comes the Trout Nation Patreon. Because I have to eat.

And unfortunately, third place is this blog. Which I never envisioned happening. There was a time not too long ago that I considered myself a blogger first, and an author second. For a while now, I’ve hated that I haven’t been releasing chapters of The Business Centaur’s Virgin Temp and the Crave recaps regularly. “Things are going to be different in 2023!” I promised myself.

Foolishly.

Now, I’m not suspending either of those projects or saying I’m shutting the blog down, but I am going on hiatus here. March isn’t terribly far away, and on top of the time crunch, the injury itself makes it difficult to type, which is basically my entire job. I’ve started typing with my left hand, but as someone who types 90 WPM with both hands, 11 WPM as a beginning one-hander makes me gnash my teeth and curse God. It’s not practical for me to try to work on two simultaneous books, Patreon, and the blog, while typing at the speed of ketchup coming out of a glass bottle.

And did I mention that just days before I was told that physical therapy wasn’t an option and actually someone was going to be slicing and dicing inside my arm, I was cast as Bea in Something Rotten? Which, honestly, is going to be a great distraction for me. The show goes up like two weeks before the surgery, so I won’t have time to even worry about all the things about surgery that scare me, like “what if the anesthesia fails” or “what if I pee the bed the second I wake up, like I did last time?” The theater is very access-aware, so I’ll be choreographed and blocked around the injury, which is also very cool.

So, for right now, just expect that if there are posts here, fantastic, if not, it’s because of all that shit up there, and I’m otherwise on hiatus. In the meantime, I’ve been making TikToks somewhat regularly because that doesn’t require use of my arm. If you’re on TikTok, I’m over there just saying stuff.

Otherwise, cross your fingers that my arm is fixable, nothing goes wrong worse with it, and my recovery is speedy and I don’t miss out on all the good roller skating weather.

Don’t Do This. Ever.: Authors Behaving FUCKING ABHORRENTLY

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CW: Suicide (but not an actual suicide)

I don’t really know where the fuck to begin this. I can tell you that there will be many, many swears. And by the end, you will probably be swearing, too. In fact, I think at this point, the sun itself should be shouting “FUUUUUUUUCK!” into the void of space.

Remember when I said it would take something really big to make me do another Authors Behaving Badly post?

Meet Susan Meachen. If you run in indie romance circles, you might recognize that name. Susan was an indie romance author who tragically completed suicide after being the victim of online bullying in the indie book community. The response to her death was an outpouring of grief that included people promoting Susan’s posthumous book release in conjunction with her family to raise funds for the funeral. Authors and readers alike banded together to create an online auction to benefit the To Write Love On Her Arms organization. Susan Meachen was mourned by stunned friends within the community, and donations for expenses poured in.

Susan Meachen NEVER FUCKING DIED.

Today, author Samatha A. Cole broke the news in a Facebook post.:

In September of 2020, Susan Meachen’s daughter (supposedly it was her daughter) signed into her mother’s profile and announced that Susan had taken her own life. Devastation from her friends, fellow authors, and readers followed. Allegedly she’d been bullied in the book world to the point of suicide. What followed was rants from said daughter about how horrid the book world had been to Susan and the family wanted nothing to do with the book world from that point on. However, they wanted to honor their mother’s memory by publishing the last book she wrote, which they did. Friends, authors, and readers shared the release.

We grieved for the loss of the woman we considered a friend. I personally was harassed by another author who loves to create drama, claiming I was one of the authors who bullied Susan and drove her to suicide. I was heartbroken when I realized it’d been a few months since I’d chatted with Susan in PMs and wished I’d reached out sooner and maybe it would’ve made a difference for her to know there were people who supported her.

Last night a post was made in Susan’s old reader group – The Ward – from Susan’s profile. And I quote –

“I debated on how to do this a million times and still not sure if it’s right or not. There’s going to be tons of questions and a lot of people leaving the group I’d guess. But my family did what they thought was best for me and I can’t fault them for it. I almost died again at my own hand and they had to go through all that hell again. Returning to The Ward doesn’t mean much but I am in a good place now and I am hoping to write again. Let the fun begin.”

Apparently, she’s not dead. TN Steele was a profile she made a month after her alleged suicide. What follows are screen shots from the group, her profile, and the chat I just had with a dead person.

For over two years, Susan Meachen pretended to be dead. She rebranded herself as TN Steele and watched as the rest of the community grappled with the aftermath of her “suicide.” She even reconnected with online friends who were mourning her.

From the screenshots Cole provided, which show her confrontation with Meachen, it’s clear that Meachen has absolutely no remorse for her actions. Scratch that: she has absolutely no remorse for actions she will not own or admit to. She blames her daughter for making the post announcing her death and implies that she’s somehow the victim of her family’s good and loving intentions. “I had no control over what my family did,” she told Cole. “I was in the hospital fighting for my life. But I understand what they did.”

Do you, bitch? DO YOU REALLY? Because what “they” did was make a post TWO MOTHERFUCKING YEARS AGO. You weren’t in the hospital the whole time, fucker! You were setting up a new pseudonym and reader group a month after your faked death. It never once occurred to you to correct the misinformation?

YOU ARE NOT THE FUCKING VICTIM.

I have compassion for people who struggle with suicidal thoughts and who make attempts, absolutely. We are in a shitty little club together. And if it is the truth that Meachen was going through that? I’m sorry that happened to her. But for what reason, what logical reason, would ANYONE ACTUALLY BELIEVE ANY PART OF THIS FUCKING STORY?! Forgive me and hundreds of other indie authors and readers who are doubting every facet of this bullshit, including the very existence of her god damn daughter.

Above and beyond the horrific toll that grief and suicide take on a community, Susan Meachen’s death by bullying attracted members of an online clique famous for their own bullying campaigns. You might remember that one of these “authors,” Dylan Cross (real name David Daniel Moore), ran a Facebook group called “As The Book World Turns,” dedicated to anonymous posts targeting mostly female indie romance authors. Under a thin veneer of “anti-bullying” concerns, Moore seized the opportunity provided by Meachen’s death and went after readers and authors (including Cole), shaming them for their culpability in the bullying that drove Meachen to suicide. One reader, who had been involved in previous clashes with Moore, has stated that she’d never even spoken to Meachen. Still, she was relentlessly harassed by Moore for allegedly causing the suicide Meachen faked.

And even with all of this going on, and Meachen watching and participating in the indie romance community from the sidelines, she never stepped up and said, “This was a misunderstanding.” She wasn’t dead. She knew she wasn’t dead. “TN Steele” and I have mutual friends on Facebook, friends who were mourning Susan’s passing on their timelines months after the fact. Friends who spoke about the harassment people were receiving. There is no reasonable way to deny that Meachen knew these things were happening. AND SHE NEVER SAID A WORD TO STOP IT.

Suicide is contagious. When one member of a community completes suicide, others follow. Imagine you were a reader or author who struggled with suicidal thoughts, and an internet stranger was relentlessly attacking you for allegedly “bullying” another author into suicide. What might you do under that pressure? What might you feel was your best option? What might your suicidal ideation tell you that you deserved?

There is no way that Meachen, a member of the indie romance community, didn’t know that there would be consequences for crying “bully!” in those circles. This was a malicious act. This was explicitly designed to produce these types of results, from the financial and publicity benefits to the persecution of those Meachen perceived as her bullies. And when Cole, someone who cared about Meachen genuinely, was under attack, Meachen did nothing.

This is not a case of a mentally ill person just not knowing how to handle a situation or do what’s right. This was a person who had an evil thought and followed through with evil deeds. And already, people are claiming that Meachen is the true victim in this. She lied about being bullied into suicide. She took money donated for funeral expenses. She didn’t say, hey, don’t send me money for my funeral. I’m not dead. She took the money. She took the increased promotional opportunity for her “posthumous” release. She accepted free services from editors and cover artists who thought they were helping a member of the community in the only way left for them to help her. She launched a new pen name and interacted with people who thought she was dead for two years. But somehow, somehow, people feel that anyone being angry about this or wanting to hold her accountable for her disgusting actions… ARE BULLYING HER. Placing her in a dangerous situation for her mental health

I am sick, from gums to rectum, of people being held accountable for their actions being described as victims of bullying. IT IS NOT BULLYING TO SAY IT’S NOT OKAY TO PRETEND TO HAVE COMPLETED SUICIDE. And so what about Susan’s fucking mental health? So god damn what? What about the mental health of all the people who mourned her, who tortured themselves with thoughts of what they could have done to help her before it was too late? What about the mental health of the people gleefully stalked and harassed by Moore and his goblin band? Fuck them? Protect Susan? No, go fuck YOURSELF if you care more about a liar, a fraud, an outright ghoul than you do the innocent actual victims in this.

I honestly have no idea where to go from here. How are we, as authors and readers, meant to support the indie book community when someone does something like this, and other indie authors and readers insist it’s victimizing the liar to point out her lies?

Meachen went so far as to respond to a PM from an online friend who, in their mourning, reached out to say that they missed Susan. Susan’s “daughter” responded to comfort this person, who then went on to dedicate their next book to their deceased friend.

Susan Meachen is a liar who disregarded the potentially fatal consequences of her selfish actions, then returns to say “let the fun begin.” Now, the book world is out for her blood. People are considering legal action over the money she stole. Here’s your fucking fun: you’re done. This is so big, it absolutely will follow her offline and into her real life. People will remember this forever and she is irredeemably ruined.

In the most extreme Clair Huxtable voice: Susan, are you having BIG FUN?

A blog post on the dangers posed to professional writers by AI writing software

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As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes more and more prevalent in all aspects of our lives, it is natural to be concerned about its impact on professional writers. AI writing software has the potential to revolutionize the way we write, but it can also pose some serious threats to professional writers.

The most obvious danger is the potential for AI writing software to replace human writers. AI can quickly generate content that is accurate, consistent and often of a higher quality than human writers can produce. This could put many professional writers out of a job, as companies may be more likely to use AI instead of human writers.

Another danger that AI poses to professional writers is the potential for mass produced, generic content. AI writing software can create content that is accurate and consistent, but it can lack creativity and originality. If AI writing software is used in place of human writers, the content produced may be of a lower quality and lack the creativity and originality that human writers bring to the table.

Finally, AI writing software can be used to manipulate the truth. AI can be programmed to generate content that is biased or even false. This could lead to a dangerous situation where readers are exposed to inaccurate information.

Overall, AI writing software has the potential to revolutionize the way we write, but it also poses some serious threats to professional writers. Companies should be aware of the potential dangers that AI poses to professional writers and should take steps to ensure that human writers are not replaced by AI.


The title of this blog post is the prompt that I entered into Canva’s new “Magic Write” feature. The content above the separator is what the AI software produced for me in literal seconds. I did not edit it or tweak it any way. All I created in my own was the original prompt.

A screenshot of the Canva app with the blog post title entered as a prompt and the same text as the above blog content.

I tried it with fiction, as well, using the prompt, “A battle between two spaceships from the POV of the hero, captain starvsgaard, with the fate of the galaxy at stake”:


Captain Starvsgaard stood on the bridge of his starship, the Paladin, looking out at the enemy vessel in the distance. He knew that the fate of the galaxy was in his hands. He had to win this battle or all would be lost.
He gave the order to charge the enemy vessel, and his crew responded with a resounding battle cry. The Paladin surged forward, its cannons blazing. The enemy ship retaliated with its own barrage of laser fire, and the two vessels clashed in a dazzling display of light and destruction.
The Paladin was smaller and faster, and it was able to dodge most of the enemy’s shots. But each time it returned fire, it was met with an even more powerful counterattack. It was a desperate fight, and it seemed like it could go either way.
But in the end, the Paladin emerged victorious. The enemy ship was destroyed, and the fate of the galaxy was saved. Captain Starvsgaard and his crew cheered in triumph. It was a moment of victory that they would never forget.

I added the words, “with dialogue between the captain and first mate” and ran it again:

Captain Starvsgaard stood on the bridge of the Empire’s flagship, the Phoenix, and looked out into the vastness of space. He could feel the tension in the air as the other ship, the Dark Star, loomed into view. The fate of the galaxy was in his hands, and he knew that only one of these ships would survive the battle.

“All hands, prepare for battle,” he said, his voice firm and strong. “We must not fail.”

The crew scrambled to their stations, and the Phoenix began to move into position. Captain Starvsgaard glanced at his first mate, Lt. Johansson.

“This is it,” he said calmly. “Let’s show them what we’re made of.”

Lt. Johansson nodded, a determined look on her face. “Yes, sir. We will not fail.”

The two ships closed in on each other, and soon the battle was raging. Laser blasts flew through the air, and the two ships rocked and shook from the impact of the explosions.Captain Starvsgaard watched from the bridge, his hands gripping the sides of his chair tightly. He could feel the energy of the battle, and he knew that this was a battle for the fate of the galaxy.

“Fire at will!” he shouted, as the Phoenix fired its lasers, causing the Dark Star to shudder. “We will not be defeated!”

The battle raged on, and soon the Dark Star was in ruins, the crew surrendering. Captain Starvsgaard smiled, knowing that they had won.

He turned to Lt. Johansson. “Well done, Lt. We have saved the galaxy.”

Lt. Johansson smiled back, her eyes bright with pride. “Yes, sir. We have.”

A screenshot from Canva showing the prompt for the sci-fi story, followed by the text from the sci-fi story.

I think what I find the most worrying about these results is the way that the artificial intelligence filled in gaps in the details. I didn’t provide a name for the first mate or the ships. I didn’t say what kind of dialogue I wanted, I just said “dialogue.” Yet from those very simple prompts I got something that isn’t up to my standards for publication, but is light years ahead of some of the things currently being published.

AI generated text first pinged my scam radar when Facebook ads for a service meant to boost author marketing made AI generated text a selling point: pay for our service and you will be able to create more blog content and more social media content without sacrificing time that you could be using to write your books. Since I’m currently watching all of my artist friends beg people not to use fantasy portrait generators on social media that are so sloppy in their art theft as to leave the original artists’ signatures visible in the AI generated final product, I decided that this was something I should keep my eye on.

Just two weeks later, an author on TikTok showed up on my FYP extolling the virtues of AI writing software. It was boosting her word count so much faster. Helping her break her writing block. And there was absolutely no thought, at least, in the video, as to the impact or ethics of using AI generated content in your published work.

The comments on the video were all rapture. People discussed how this could be used for world building (based on the excerpts above, I’m thinking the answer to that is “not effectively”), for writing newsletter entries, for taking care of scenes you were having trouble with or were simply bored of and wanted to get past in your manuscript.

In other words, every single author in those comments was excited about the new ways they were going to defraud their readers.

Publishers and indie authors have already been caught using AI generated images on covers. Currently, Harper Collins is still on strike and unwilling to cave to such unreasonable demands as ” please pay us” and “we’d like it if you would hire some not-white people.” So far in all of my experiments that I’ve run with AI generated text, the prose has been technically clean, meaning there is some type of editing brain happening in the artificial intelligence. Traditional publishing won’t need authors or editors moving forward. This current strike might be the last one we see in the industry; there simply won’t be humans to object to unethical practices in the home offices.

It didn’t surprise me to see that most of the authors celebrating AI generated text without a single thought as to the long-term consequences were indie authors. Write faster, cleaner, with minimum effort is awfully attractive to a writer who only cares about generating book after book “for the algorithm,” with quality control as an afterthought. The potential for success and profit as a self-published author has attracted that wrong sort of “writer” into indie circles, creating pockets of authors who view their work as a craft and not a cheap product, and pockets of authors who are constantly looking to make a quick buck, for whom creating rich and interesting stories is the chore they would most like to eliminate from their writing career.

When it comes to AI generated text, the latter will profit from the work of the former. When I entered those prompts into Canva’s Magic Write feature, it wasn’t an imagination behind those words. It was a memory of millions of pages of content, billions of already written words that were created by hundreds of thousands of actual human brains through hard work and true inspiration. Hard work and true inspiration that get-rich-quick, rapid fire indies and traditional publishing houses can’t produce on their own, either.

Now, they’re one giant leap closer to cutting out the human element entirely and profiting on plagiarism in a bigger, bolder way than they already do. Every sentence in that AI generated content came from a human brain. It was merely collected and organized, without proper credit or citation, into a marketable product. The writers who did the actual work? Who cares about them?

It will be interesting to see how far AI generated text infiltrates fiction writing. All it will really take is one viral sensation that ” gets people back into reading” and the game is over.

A screenshot from Canva's Magic Write feature: "A fantasy romance in the style of A Court of Thorns and Roses, featuring a human girl and an ancient fae warrior meeting for the first time in a hedge maze
Clara had been warned about the hedge maze. It was said to be a magical place, filled with strange creatures and secrets that were best left undiscovered. But she was determined to"

The usual “a rising tide” argument will be made by the “support your fellow authors, you jealous hater!” crowd. I’m curious to see which big name author will get caught using AI first. No doubt, their Teflon status will create overwhelming public support from fellow authors who’ll enthusiastically champion a cause that will cost them their jobs, just so long as they can stay in favor with whoever the reigning monarch of the industry is at the time. Whether readers deserve better quality for their money has never been a concern for publishers and indie fast-profit seekers, anyway, and it certainly won’t be a factor now.

We will see the “just a fast writer” defense, so often employed to deny that authors publishing five to six books a month are doing so with the help of ghost writers, plastered all over social media. And everyone will become a legal expert in copyright law and plagiarism in order to silence critics. As long as you conflate the concepts of legality and morality to obfuscate the issue, anyone can be absolved of outright theft if they’re in with the right crowd. Being able to blame a computer all but guarantees the ethical arguments against plagiarism will be drowned out with cries of “jealousy!”

If I sound bleak here, it’s because I’m a realist with far too much experience in the industry to believe that AI text is going to take the writing community anywhere good. The playbook for defending unethical actions within the writing community has been revised to perfection in our age of social media; the perfect spin for the deceptive use of this groundbreaking technology already exists.

Now, all there is is to wait and watch everything I’ve just predicted play out.

Yes, your feelings about the USA Today Besteller List are about ego.

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USA Today has announced that, due to a lack of editorial staff, the paper’s famed bestseller list is going on “hiatus.”

Within hours of the news breaking, social media sites were already flooded with comments from disillusioned authors lamenting that if the paper doesn’t reinstate the list, they’ll never be able to obtain their coveted “letters,” a step long believed to be crucial for an author to qualify as a success. USA Today and The New York Times lists are considered something of a double-crown event, a sales-and-hype based EGOT for authors. Past list-makers were encouraged by many to search the archives and get a screenshot of their books’ rankings on the extended list, or else “there would be no way to prove” that they’d made it.

One popular writer reached out on Facebook in a viral post in the romance community. She implored everyone to feel their feelings about this devastating blow to the industry and the careers of individual authors. She advised those who’d set a “goal” of getting those letters to not let accusations of ego bother them, that their feelings that something had been “taken away” from them were valid. Like countless other posts, it sought to bolster those writers whose broken hearts ached at the lost opportunity to achieve that status. It, like countless other posts, focused solely on the hardship this causes genre fiction writers, without a mention of the massive layoff that caused the shortage at the paper to begin with.

The real victims, it seems, are authors who have hit the list and might, should the archives be taken down, have no proof that they’re bestsellers. The real victims are the authors who never made the list but considered it a career goal.

And yet, somehow, we’re meant to accept these reactions as being totally divorced from ego.

One argument is that having those letters above your name helps you market your books. As a USA Today Bestselling Author, I assure you, those letters mean nothing when it comes to moving your book from the Barnes & Noble shelf and into the hands of readers. I can back this up as a reader: very few people buy books based on whether or not the author has the words USA Today Bestselling Author above their names on the cover. And frankly, the readers who use bestseller lists decide what to read? They’re in a boring minority who are more interested in being a part of a trend than in actually enjoying books. They’re not a sustainable audience.

A person could argue that having your book hit the USA Today Bestseller List demonstrates monetary return to publishers and agents. The reality is, while independent presses and self-published authors hit the list more often now than in the past, your odds of seeing your name on that list are a hell of a lot better if you’re with a major publisher and already have an agent. And when it comes to publishers, there’s a dark side to making the list: you can’t just make it once. Your publisher will expect that follow-up books perform as well—or better—and having multiple books fail to chart after one or two make the cut can often hurt your career, not bolster it.

Many writers have pointed out that, unlike The New York Times, USA Today counts actual sales and reveals its methodology. The system can’t be gamed the way NYT was so blatantly gamed by Lani Sarem and every bulk-buying conservative with an asterisk beside their titles. This is simply not true. Have you ever browsed Amazon and seen those huge “boxed sets” of e-books that sell for ninety-nine cents and feature twenty-five or more novellas from authors you’ve never heard of? Those authors are likely USA Today Bestsellers, owing to a popular scam that sees authors “buy-in,” sometimes for thousands of dollars, to get their books into those anthologies. At one point, the “editors” putting these schemes together would guarantee that the money ponied up for inclusion would lead to earning a spot on the USA Today list. How could they possibly promise that? How could they know?

Because those thousands of dollars were being used to buy the books, artificially boosting their sales while keeping the price point obscenely low for bargain buyers.

Which do you think is more harmful to authors: bulk-buying twenty-five novellas for ninety-nine cents while other authors and industry professionals have to constantly justify pricing full-length novels at $3.99 or the potentially permanent loss of the allegedly unscammable list that made the scam possible—and the letters meaningless as a metric of true industry power?

Again, we’re supposed to believe that dreams of the fame and riches supposedly brought by bestseller status have nothing to do with vanity or ego. The article linked above briefly mentions an author who posted an eye-roll-worthy sob fest of a Facebook post when her book actually did make the USA Today list at number one. Rather than celebrating that success, she chose to metaphorically shake and cry and throw up over the slight dealt to her by the New York Times, which did not include her on their list. She insisted that not making the NYT cut insulted her publishing team and her fans, who all deserved to see her book lauded. Before you get the wrong idea about this author, making that list wasn’t important to her. No vanity was involved in her laughably privileged screed. It was simply about all the little people who had been denied a chance to bask in her glory with her. The USA Today list wasn’t enough, even though it reported actual sales. Suppose we’re operating under the delusion that author ego isn’t what bestseller lists are for. Why wouldn’t an incredibly lucky author like that one be satisfied by seeing her book on just one list?

A writer I very much respect is quoted in the same article as saying the USA Today list gives us a good idea of what’s actually being consumed by readers across the United States. I disagree. While the NYT and USA Today lists have diversified in the past decade, they’re only as diverse as publishing. That is to say, not much. The higher ratio of white authors to every other race of author tells us that this list is about who gets deals, who gets marketing support, and who can afford advertising (or a $5,000 buy-in to a boxed set). Not who is being widely read but who is being widely positioned to sell. There will never be a metric that can accurately tell the industry what readers want. If there was, the industry would ignore it, anyway.

Yet, the social media ego fluffing continues. One author consoled her colleagues with words validating their “grief,” a vocabulary choice that struck me as particularly extreme and vaguely insulting. Another reassured them that the goal of making that list wasn’t about vanity or validation. No one, at least that I’ve seen, has told the truth: if your goal is making a list that measures how popular your work is, your goal is undeniably, irrefutably, rooted in ego.

Note: I haven’t said that ego is a bad thing. This is a hard business. You watch ungrateful, undeserving, mediocre authors rocket to undreamed-of success once a week with books packed with problematic and downright harmful content. You see truly awful people protected from criticisms they should receive and good people torn apart for not being white enough, straight enough, syrupy-sweet fake enough to deserve the same protection when they deliver those valid criticisms. Authors who strive for originality and can’t get a contract look on as lukewarm copycats, and outright plagiarists, receive their gold medals for being unethical enough to make a publisher heaps of cash. No matter how many readers you have, or how many industry professionals you have in your corner, you have to be your own cheerleader. You have to believe in yourself.

For many years, I didn’t mention my USA Today bestseller status on my book covers for various reasons. One, they were attached to a name I no longer used. Two, I felt that I somehow failed to “earn” those letters since I didn’t hit any list ever again. But when I finally decided that yeah, I was going to reclaim that title, it was a decision made entirely out of ego. I didn’t have any illusions that I would suddenly sell better, my skin would be clearer, and people would like me. I reclaimed it because it was something that made me feel good. It made me feel like a winner. It stroked my ego.

Vanity and ego aren’t horrible, unforgivable traits, nor are they facets of the universal human experience that we can simply choose to ignore. It’s the inability to accept that all of us, in all sorts of different ways, desire outside validation that makes a person insufferable. Denial of the existence of one’s ego leads to an inability to feel fulfillment, no matter how much objective greatness a person achieves. We’re seeing that truth play out in real-time on a certain bird app; even billions of dollars and a cult-like following of fawning capitalist teat-suckers praising and defending a person’s every decision or half-formed thought can’t make a person happy if they won’t simply admit that they’re valuing popularity above all else. Want those letters. But be honest about why you want them. You have an ego, no matter what all of those “grief” support posts going around are saying.

It is disheartening to know that without the USA Today list, many authors who fall outside of the straight, white, cis mold won’t get the thrill of the validation that comes with being a bestseller. Because, as I’ve said, everyone enjoys that ego boost. We’re seeing yet another door close on that experience for marginalized authors. It’s also frustrating to see such high numbers of employees let go from a newspaper at a time when journalism should be valued above profit. But those aren’t the angles being broadcast by the loudest, most viral voices. Instead, the focus has largely been on dispelling any notion that even a shred of ego is involved in any of the disappointment in the writing community.

Is it truly asking too much for some intellectual honesty when it comes to this development?

To the authors who are disappointed because hitting the list was your goal: you do have an ego. And that’s okay. It’s human. You’re not above your humanity. You are not the one person who has ever lived who doesn’t crave outside validation. It’s okay to admit that you want something because it will make you feel successful and important. It’s okay to want it openly without trying to dance in semantic circles about why, actually, you’re not motivated by ego on this. You deserve to live a human experience with human emotions. You are not beholden to perform a sanitized version of humanity in which you are perfect and selfless and never want popularity or praise, or to belong to an exclusive group.

But you also should consider not setting goals like “get my book made into a movie” or “be on the bestseller list.” Those aren’t things you achieve or earn. They’re things that happen to you. What you achieved was writing a book. What you earned was the sense of accomplishment that comes with typing “the end.” Those things should be your goals. They’re the only things that you have power over. Those are the only things that you can truly earn through hard work and determination. And if you value those things more than making a list, I promise, you’ll be mentally healthier than if you wait around for other people to tell you it’s okay to put letters above your name before you feel like you’ve accomplished something. A USA Today Bestselling Author above your name and eight bucks will buy you a cappuccino. It will not make or break you.

You deserve to be proud of yourself without proving your worth to others by showing up on a chart. But none of us can do that if we collectively maintain a dishonest narrative about the industry, its biases, and our motivations.

Merrily Unhinged Christmas Rant

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I saw this after smoking a huge bowl:

a tweet from JRR Ho HO Hokien, @joshcarlosjosh: "you okay babe? you've barely touched the 184 birds I gave you over the course of the 12 days of christmas"

I should note that I’m not back to using Twitter. It was posted as a screenshot in the Dumb Bitch Juice meme group. That’s not important. What is important is that after forty-two years of relentless exposure to the song, my misunderstanding of the events of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was corrected.

The items described are not given to the recipient one time. Each gift is received every day after its first appearance in the song.

As I did the math in silent horror, I showed the tweet to my husband. He’d had the song all wrong, too. We’d both believed that on the first day of Christmas, the true love gave the singer a partridge in a pear tree. On day two, the true love gave the singer two turtle doves.

But, as seen in the above tweet, those aren’t what the lyrics imply at all.

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

I cannot overstate how much I dislike this song. If you don’t have kids, you don’t know the fear of opening that folded copy paper program and learning that you’ll be subjected to Mrs. Sussman’s second-grade class singing all twelve, increasingly lengthy, verses. At the elementary school my kids attended, the teachers dressed up in costumes and performed an interpretive dance version at the Christmas assembly every year. The overweight male principal wore a tutu to represent the “nine ladies dancing” to the kind of laughter that should be solely reserved for Eddie Murphy’s return to stand-up.

If you aren’t a parent, you’ve been on the other side of those nightmares. Anyone living in the dominant christonormative cultural narrative of our times has been in Mrs. Sussman’s second-grade class. Their teacher has danced to the Muppets’ version, with Miss Piggy wailing “Five GoooOOOOOOoooold Rings!” and the ensuing “ba dum dum dum.” Some of you have performed it in American Sign Language with your church youth group. You never learned to count to thirteen.

The Western world is hostage to this song. Is it any wonder that some of us haven’t thought deeply about it? Who among us hasn’t dissociated around day seven? I had to google what twelve even was because, although I’ve heard the song roughly nineteen times per year since before the fall of the Soviet Union, I couldn’t remember a time when I’d heard it all the way to the end.

“Is it really a hundred and eighty-four?” I asked my husband, whose astonished expression mirrored my own. “A partridge in a pear tree.”

“Stop,” said Mr. Jen. “Do you get the tree, too, or is he putting the partridge in a tree you already own?”

“It says ‘my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree. I think there are also multiple trees.”

I’d already known that the song was a bird-heavy list. The birds get a lot of social media attraction every year, but the trees go largely uncommented upon. By the end of the song, you not only have twelve partridges but twelve trees for them, as well. An orchard.

We started adding up the birds to make sure. Twelve partridges. Twenty-two turtle doves. Thirty french hens. The weird thing is the higher the number of birds, the larger and more aggressive the species. You start with the teensy little partridge and end with the giant swan. Which you get thirty-five of, by the way.

Of course, if you paid attention to the song, you already knew that. For those of us who did not pay attention, who zone out and mentally listen to Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland” until it’s time to politely clap, it comes as a real shock.

I became somewhat obsessed with the lyrics at this point. There are eight maids a’milking, but no mention of the cows or goats.

“You don’t get to keep the cows,” I explained to Mr. Jen, whose interest in the subject had significantly waned. “You just get the maids a’milking. When they’re done a’milking, the cows go somewhere else.”

“Who are these people?” Mr. Jen asked. “How did they get involved?”

Mystified, I totaled them up, too. You only get twelve drummers once. When it comes to drummers, twelve is enough. But you end up with thirty lords a’leaping.

“Do people outnumber the birds in this song?” I asked, trying to do the math in my head despite being a writer. “I think the people outnumber the birds.”

Forty maids a’milking. Thirty-six ladies dancing. Thirty lords a’leaping. Twelve drummers drumming. 118 people in total.

“The people are outnumbered 184 to 118,” I said, frantically tapping on my phone’s calculator app.

“Please leave,” Mr. Jen begged. “I am trying to sleep.”

Humanity isn’t unique. I’m certain I’m not the only person who ever misunderstood the gifts correlating to their specifically numbered day only. Judging by the tweet that sent me down this spiral, I’m not the only person who’s taken the time to math out the lyrics. But I’m afraid to Google for other people’s experiences. This feels like a journey that, once embarked upon, must be completed alone. It is yet another sliver of childhood revealed by life to be a lie.

My theater’s holiday cabaret is this evening.

They will be performing “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Why your favorite authors are going serial.

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When I announced the debut of Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend, I got a landslide of emails and Facebook messages that I was, frankly, expecting. Readers who, while being fans of my Abigail Barnette work, weren’t happy about its exclusivity to the new platform, especially after Taken By The Alpha King was only available on Radish. And the reason I expected this was because I was miffed that one of my favorites was doing an exclusive on Yonder and I also don’t like using serialized platforms as a reader.

When that favorite author, Ruby Dixon, announced her Yonder exclusive, Bound to the Shadow Prince, my immediate reaction was, “Ugh, I have to wait for chapters and figure out coins and shit? This suuuuucks.” Which I know I shouldn’t be saying about these platforms since I’ve had such ridiculous, unexpected success on them. I’m grateful for all of that, believe me, and I think it’s great that readers who enjoy the format or find it easier to read in small bites have so many options now, but I want to make it clear that I fully understand the frustration of readers who, like me, don’t like to read on their phones and don’t like to wait for chapters to release.

So, if I’m not a fan of using serial fiction platforms, why am I (and so many other authors) a fan of writing for them?

Money. The answer is money. Or, more accurately, feeling that my work is respected, valued, and properly promoted. And, once again, I don’t think I’m alone in this.

2022 exposed a lot of what authors already suspected about the publishing industry. They have no idea what the hell they’re doing. Most of their successes are luck, predicated on throwing as much money as they can into debut authors or “BookTok sensations.” Rather than supporting authors they’ve already invested in, they operate on a sort of gambling system, sucking up whatever they think the next big thing will be and tossing aside those who don’t make a social media splash right out of the gate. It truly seems like Colleen Hoover is single-handedly keeping traditional publishing on its feet with her painfully white, toxically heternormative bullshit abusemances. And while the biggest publishers keep swearing they’ll diversify and stop running their offices like literary sweatshops, they’ve yet to deliver on any of these promises.

Another thing about the industry that hasn’t changed? The money. In 2004, I was offered an advance of $18k for a three-book series. As a first-time author, this was a huge get. The money was, of course, broken down by book: $5k for the first title, $6k for the second, and $7k for the third. Each of those amounts was broken down into three payments: signing, delivery, and acceptance. Between 2004, when the contract was signed, and 2007, those payments were doled out a sliver at a time. And while royalty money did start to show up in 2007 (Harlequin had one full year after publication to start delivering on royalties), in that three-year period, I made $18k. There were no opportunities for writing on the side; all my potential work belonged to the publisher, who had right of first refusal. If I’d wanted to publish anything independently, it would have very much hurt my brand. Indie authors are still considered not “real” or “good enough,” no matter how much popularity they accrue, but in the ’00s, one self-published book was enough to destroy your entire career. I was locked into that contract, making far, far less than minimum wage.

But that was almost twenty years ago. Things have changed, right?

Right?

Wrong. If you look at Publisher’s Marketplace, most of the deals reported either fall into the “Nice Deal” category or the amount isn’t vaguely reported at all. How much of an advance does a publisher have to pay to qualify as a “Nice Deal?” Anywhere from $1 to $49,999. And no, I didn’t accidentally leave off zeroes anywhere. One single dollar is enough for a publisher and agent to claim that the author got a “Nice Deal.” My last traditional contract was a “Nice Deal.” It was $8k, once again split up into three payments. That was ten years after that first contract. I recently heard from an acquaintance that she’d gotten a contract with a traditional romance publisher. Her “Nice Deal?” Was $5k, exactly what I was paid for my first book in 2002. Twenty. Years. Ago.

I got lucky with my first contract in that the publisher very much wanted the books to be a success. They marketed them well, with full-page ads in national magazines, even. In Brazil, there was a television commercial. They pulled out all the stops to make me a successful debut author. But after that debut, the marketing really trickled away. My second book was featured in one quarter-page advertisement in Romantic Times. The cover was the same color as the advertisement’s background and partially hidden by the cover of a different author’s book from a completely different genre. But when the sales weren’t as high for the second book, it was my failure. I hadn’t promoted hard enough on MySpace and Second Life.

Yeah. Those were the mega-frontiers of digital author marketing in the ’00s.

When I later took out ads in British Glamour to boost sales of The Boss, I was shocked at how affordable it was to do so. And if it was affordable for my indie author ad budget… how come a major publisher didn’t want to splash out that kind of dough on a much larger investment they’d already made?

Fast forward two decades, over some successes and failures. After a YA serial for Radish that didn’t take off, they approached me about monetizing my backlist on their site. And they offered me an advance larger than any of the books in my first three-book contract, for material that had already been published. I retained the rights to my work and walked away happy. Later, when they approached me about writing a serial exclusively for them, they offered a larger advance than I would have gotten from a traditional publisher, based on deals I’ve seen reported and things I’ve heard behind-the-scenes lately. And they launched a heavy advertising campaign, complete with promotional codes, custom graphics, and a whole team of people working on the launch. In one weekend, I watched over a million views stack up on the story. They promoted the hell out of it because they cared whether or not it did well. They didn’t view the money they paid me in the advance as disposable; this is in contrast to major publishing houses who often won’t bother to pursue repayment of “Nice Deal” advances when a work isn’t delivered. They also don’t own the rights to the work in perpetuity. While I’ll never own my Blood Ties or Lightword/Darkworld series again, I’ll be able to publish Taken By The Alpha King as an ebook and paperback someday, opening it up to an entirely new audience. I’ll be able to sell the foreign and audio rights. Hell, I retain the film and television rights, too.

The same thing is happening with Yonder. They’ve purchased the exclusive rights to Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend… for a limited time. And they paid me fairly for my work, far more money than a traditional publishing house would have offered me for the same book, while allowing me to retain certain rights after the conclusion of our exclusivity agreement. Both Radish and Yonder came to me with serious offers that proved they not only understood the value of my work, but they also respected me as a creator and a business person. No one has taken the attitude that they were somehow doing me a favor by offering me a contract. No one has tried to keep their hands on rights they don’t plan to monetize, so that they can have them “in case.”

This has just been my experience, but I know I can’t be the only author who has faced the disappointment of traditional publishing, the relentless grind of self-publishing, and the developing horizon of serialized publishing and said, “Yes, door number three. The one that combines the best of both worlds, please.”

Still, not every reader (including myself) likes the format. While none of my favorites have gone all-serial, and while I have no plans to go all-serial, either, I’m a little afraid that one day someone will be like, “Hey, I’m going all-serial.” If you share this fear, please know that I don’t have any plans to just abandon writing self-published books. This year, my output has been low everywhere due to grief and now, medical circumstances. Focusing on those serialized projects is how I paid my bills. It might shock people to know this, but the only self-published books that have ever made me a sustainable living have been The Boss series. All my other titles have sold between fifty and a hundred copies. It’s disheartening to dedicate six or more months to a book only to publish it and see that for that six or more months of work, you’ve made thirty dollars and then the title fizzled out. When faced with the prospect of guaranteed money I can live off or the possibility that maybe a book might net me more than a hundred dollars in royalties in a year? I have to follow that money. I have to be able to survive.

Hopefully, 2023 will see some new releases as ebooks and paperbacks, but until I find out what’s going on with my injuries from the car accident (some may require surgery), and with the resultant lawsuit (that I’m required to file in order for my auto insurance to pay for my medical treatment, which my regular insurance won’t cover because the injuries were incurred in an auto accident), that just might not be financially possible. But I do have projects I’m continuing to work on, at a sloth-like pace. Thanks for understanding and not giving up on me.

Jealous Haters Book Club: Crave chapter 15, “So Hell Actually Can Freeze Over”

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This chapter did two things. One, it bored the shit out of me. Two, it made me more suspicious of something I was suspicious of before. Let’s get into it, as Doja might say, yuh. But keep in mind, this is going to be an intensely short recap due to the length of the chapter and the not much that happens in it. It’s basically all filler until the last page.

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cw: grief

It’s been over a year since I saw my best friend.

The last time I saw her, she was at work. She worked the fabric counter at JoAnn’s. I try not to drive past JoAnn’s anymore.

I went in to look for planner stuff with my friend Jess. They never have any good planner stuff at JoAnn’s, but I went anyway because Jill was there.

When I left, I bought a decorative cowbell. I left it with one of her coworkers and said, “This is for Jill. Just keep it up here, okay?” The coworker didn’t really get it, but I knew Jill would. She knew that I knew that she had a fever and the only prescription was more cowbell.

We were going to get together after the holidays because she worked retail, and her schedule was nuts.

Today, I grabbed my planner and excitedly told Mr. Jen, “Just a few more weeks until I get to use my new planner!” I flipped back to the first week in it, which began December 27, 2021, and ended January 2nd, 2022. January 1st: “MIMOSAS ALL DAY!”

I turned the page.

I turned it back.

December 27, 2021 to January 2nd, 2022. The last week I remember feeling happy. I don’t remember what that feels like.

I don’t remember what it felt like to hug Jill that last time I saw her, the quick “stop in to say hello” that I didn’t know would be the last time. She gave great hugs, and I can’t remember them.

The week of January 10, 2022, to January 16, 2022, have two days where there’s nothing but a black square with numbers beside them. Black square, 4 – 7. Black square, 11.

I didn’t want to write down what those events were.

I don’t know remember what happy is.

But I know that it’s now been over a year since I stopped into Jill’s work on the pretense that I wanted to look at the always-lacking planner section when I really just wanted an excuse to say “hi” while I was in town. It’s been over a year since she sent me a picture of what she did with that stupid cowbell: obviously, she taped a picture of Will Ferrel to it.

It’s been over a year since I’ve seen my best friend.

I’ll never see her again.

I don’t remember what happy is.

Crash

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The light at Sprinkle and Gull had been green for a long time. Although it was eleven on a Friday night, and I knew the cops would be out, and even though I was already going about five miles over the speed limit, I punched the accelerator because I was tired and just wanted to get home.

It had been a good night. I’d left rehearsal for Frozen Jr., the show I’m directing, unusually early; I tend to stay around until the last staff members are on the way out the door. Friday night, though, Rollerworld was having its soft re-opening after closing for months to install a new floor, and I put my foot down that I was going to leave rehearsal as soon as it was over so I could get there in time for 18+ Retro Skate.

At retro skate, by the way, they play stuff like Ludacris and Destiny’s Child, and I almost always leave feeling older than when I arrived. Which, technically, is accurate, anyway.

My friend Delma, one of the costumers from the show, met me at the rink later; she’d stayed behind to deal with some frustrations behind the scenes. We skated those frustrations out and practiced going backward in the beginner’s section of the floor. At one point in the night, a fast skater maneuvered around me a little too close for comfort, and I said, “I almost got in a collision!”

I’d known when I went out that I had an early morning the next day. Saturday was a scheduled “dry tech,” a day when all the set pieces needed to be placed and spiked, drops needed to be moved, and crew assignments needed to be worked out. It’s a long day, followed by the longer “tech Sunday,” and my stage manager, Delaney, had insisted on a hard nine a.m. start time.

But I’d really wanted to go roller skating.

Delma and I didn’t ride together. In fact, she didn’t know I was in the red minivan that made it through the light while she sat in the left-hand turn lane. The van is my husband’s car. Usually, I drive a beaten-up Jeep Compass with a big dent in the back from hitting the pole by the stage door at the auditorium. But it was me, rapping badly along with Megan Thee Stallion’s “Thot Shit,” going ten miles over the speed limit to make it through one of the longest lights in town.

I made the light right on the line, “I’m the shit per the recording academy.”

The next thing I knew, I was standing in the middle of Gull road beside my husband’s Town & Country, screaming for help. It’s a busy area with lots of traffic, strip malls, fast-food restaurants, and lights. I might as well have been in outer space standing there, cradling my arm and clutching my chest, wondering what had just happened. It was only a few seconds, I’m sure now, but it felt like I stood there for a long time in pain, screaming for help that wasn’t coming. It was the loneliest thing I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I thought I was having a heart attack. I thought I’d been shot.

Then, I saw the other car.

Back at her house, Delma told her husband she’d just seen a terrible accident. An SUV blew past her going so fast it shook her car. The SUV swerved to avoid hitting another vehicle. It lost control, smashed into the back of a red minivan, and spun off into the exit area of the carwash, where it burst into flames.

No fewer than eight police cars had been in pursuit of the SUV.

She didn’t know she’d seen her friend get involved in a high-speed crash, just like I didn’t know that the man in the burning SUV was still, somehow, miraculously alive. Just like I didn’t know that the officers who came to help me had been chasing that driver. As they led me to a patrol car to wait for an ambulance to arrive, I sheepishly admitted, “I don’t want to sit in the seat. I peed my pants when he hit me and I don’t want to put my wet pants on the seat.” They assured me it wouldn’t be the worst thing that had been on that seat “tonight,” which did not reassure me. I asked them, “What about the guy who hit me?”

An officer young enough to be my son immediately assured me that the man would be held responsible. I had to clarify that I was asking if he was alive. I was going sixty when he slammed into the back of the van; he’d been going so fast, I hadn’t seen him or the lights from the police cars behind us. “He was going about a hundred when he lost control,” the officer said grimly. “He’s pretty lucky.”

Lucky would have been not getting caught, I thought, and did not say, because police make me nervous. And because I was hyperventilating and my teeth were chattering, which also makes it difficult to speak. The chattering teeth, I have now learned, were due to the massive amounts of adrenaline that also caused me to refuse medical treatment because, “I don’t feel that bad.”

If you are ever in a car accident, do not send the ambulance people away in the direct aftermath. You will almost certainly feel “that bad” later and regret that decision.

I texted Delma. “I got into a bad accident. Can you tell the group chat I won’t be there tomorrow?” And then I felt guilty for letting everyone down. Delaney messaged me, “We did insist on a hard nine a.m. start time,” to make me laugh, which I did.

Mr. Jen came to get me and took over talking with the police and arranging a tow for our vehicle. He wanted me to stay in the car but I couldn’t sit still. I went to the van and got my roller skates out, and my script, because I’ll need that this week. I took a picture of the crumpled rear of the vehicle and thought, that doesn’t look all that bad.

The next morning, Mr. Jen examined the van in the light of the day. The interior had detached from the exterior. The airbags in the headrests had deployed. The driver’s seat was broken and twisted. All of the safety features that had been engineered to protect me had done their jobs.

I’m a fan of the brand now.

I was also broken and twisted, and deeply regretting not making a trip to the emergency room. In a couple of hours, I’ll be seeing my doctor to address the throbbing pain in my head, the visual disturbances and occasional loss of clear sight in my right eye. The searing neck pain. The fact that my right boob is two cup sizes larger and a lovely lavender hue. The bruises on my abdomen and thighs. The fact that I can’t raise my arms to shoulder level or hold even a full mug of tea without becoming impossibly fatigued. I had no idea I would feel this way when I sent the ambulance away.

Don’t send the ambulance away.

I tried to go to tech Sunday for my show. It was a mistake that ended in a tearful breakdown and an early exit. I felt like a failure, though I know it’s not my fault. “I dropped the ball,” I sobbed to my co-director, Jeremy, who reminded me gently that I did not drop the ball. The guy who hit me did.

But as I sit here, my brain fully fatigued but desperate to get all of this out, half-listening to Mr. Jen on the phone to the insurance company, I wonder whose fault it really is. I was going fast, sure. But if I hadn’t made it through the light, the guy would have hit me while I was at a standstill. I know I wouldn’t be here at all if that had happened. Clearly, the person who stole the SUV in the first place made a horrible choice, and followed it up with the absolutely baffling decision to run from the police.

“I don’t know why people run from the police,” Jeremy said as we sat in the auditorium, waiting for tech Sunday to kick off. “They always get caught.”

Myself? I don’t know why the police chase anyone. It seems like someone always gets hurt. The suspect. An officer. An innocent bystander.

This time, the person who was hurt was me. I already suffer from C-PTSD. I’m already disabled. I didn’t need another traumatizing incident or more pain. And from the details I know, the chase didn’t accomplish anything other than the accident, which wrecked the stolen property, anyway. There wasn’t an abducted person in that vehicle. There wasn’t, as far as I can tell, a reason they needed to nab the criminal right at that very moment I was going through the light.

I’m glad I was driving a little irresponsibly; it’s possibly the only time it’s going to save my life. I’m thankful the driver fleeing the police didn’t die; stealing a car shouldn’t come with a death sentence. I hope very much that whoever it was will have a better life and make wiser choices after this. I hope the person whose SUV was stolen had good insurance on it and won’t face too much of a financial hardship over this. And I very much hope that the high occurrence of these incidents in Kalamazoo lately (this was the second chase in the same area in the same week) will make city and county leaders reconsider whether or not high-speed pursuits are a sensible solution to public safety.

I don’t know what I’m going to hear when I go to the doctor’s office today. Probably, “rest,” which I think we all know that I will not be doing during a show week because I can’t let these kids down. I’ll keep everyone updated. In the meantime, drive carefully and stay safe.

Surprise! It’s a new release!

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Good Monday, everybody! What has Jenny Trout been up to all summer? Well, I will tell you. I was writing HER BROTHER’S BILLIONAIRE BEST FRIEND, the hottest, filthiest, most fun, sexy contemporary romantic erotica I’ve ever written. But it was under contract with a brand new serial fiction app, so I couldn’t tell you about it until the app launched. So, now I get to tell you about the serial and the app it’s on, and I get to give you a freebie!

YONDER is a new serialized fiction app from Webtoon (yup, the Wattpad people!). They offer “Bursts of far-fetched escapism, bite-sized, binge-worthy, thrill-packed storytelling written by a new breed of writers for a new species of readers.”

In other words, you’re going to find a selection of fast-paced, high-quality stories curated by the YONDER editors (who are amazing), including brand-new content written exclusively for the YONDER app (for example, HER BROTHER’S BILLIONAIRE BEST FRIEND, which I have been waiting to tell yous all about since frickin’ June).

Since I can gush to you about my book and how much I love it, here we go!

Sparks fly when serial flirt Charlotte meets her brother’s best friend, Matthew—a billionaire who wants to dominate her but might lose his heart to her instead.

Charlotte’s older brother, Scott, has always tried to keep her from meeting his best friend, Matthew. Charlotte is a notorious meaneater and Scott knows that Matthew, a slick billionaire who just went through a tough breakup, might not survive her. But when Charlotte and Matthew finally meet at Scott’s wedding, sparks instantly fly. Their affair feels so good—and so wrong. In order to get it out of their systems, Matthew invites Charlotte to Ascend Red, an invitation-only kink hotel that he owns, for two weeks of total submission to him. Two perfect, sexy weeks, and then they’ll part forever. But will they be able to say goodbye for good?

WARNING: This story contains explicit sexual content and BDSM, strong language, and depitctions of substance abuse that may be upsetting for some readers. Read discretion is advised.

Are you thinking to yourself, “Wow, that sounds good?” Well, believe me, it is. I’m so happy with it. Matthew and Charlotte have entered my pantheon of God-tier favorites with regard to couples I’ve written. There has been a kinky, bisexual-shaped hole in my heart since THE BOSS ended, and it is now filled and then some. Look forward to age-gap, swinging, public sex, rough sex, phone sex, merciless teasing, a lube-soaked orgy that might be the filthiest thing I’ve ever written, and anal sex in a birthday cake. The heroine isn’t perfect, the hero is going through some stuff, it’s all the ingredients for a smashing Abigail Barnette story.

So, how do you get to this treasure trove of naughtiness? You can download YONDER in the App Store or on Google Play. Right now, there are fifteen chapters of HER BROTHER’S BILLIONAIRE BEST FRIEND available, with new chapters dropping every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and the first eight chapters are free. But hey, speaking of free…

green, purple and black background. Text: Celebrate the lauch of YONDER, claim your free coins. Cartoon gold coins are dotted around the cover of Her Brother's Billionaire Best Friend, which features a man shown from the chin down. He has a dark beard and ripped chest and abs under an open button down shirt and undone tie.

For a limited time, you can get free coins by using the code ABIGAIL at https://bit.ly/3EPdV71. This code is only good through November 7, 2022. The code will work once per person, and the free coins will expire after 180 days but trust me: you’ll have used them up on all the steamy goodness by then.

So, download YONDER, get your free coins, and binge HER BROTHER’S BILLIONAIRE BEST FRIEND. You will not regret it.