Monthly Archives: July 2013

SUCH SWEET SORROW Cover Reveal!

Today Jenny Trout and Entangled Teen are revealing the cover for SUCH SWEET SORROW, which releases on February 4, 2014. Also enter below for a paperback of the book or an eBook!

On to the reveal!

Blurb:
Never was there a tale of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo…But true love never dies. Though they’re parted by the veil between the world of mortals and the land of the dead, Romeo believes he can restore Juliet to life, but he’ll have to travel to the underworld with a thoroughly infuriating guide.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, may not have inherited his father’s crown, but the murdered king left his son a much more important responsibility—a portal to the Afterjord, where the souls of the dead reside. When the determined Romeo asks for help traversing the treacherous Afterjord, Hamlet sees an opportunity for adventure, and the chance to avenge his father’s death.
In an underworld filled with leviathan monsters, ghoulish shades, fire giants and fierce Valkyrie warriors, Hamlet and Romeo must battle their way through jealousy, despair, and their darkest fears to rescue the fair damsel. Yet finding Juliet is only the beginning, and the Afterjord doesn’t surrender souls without a price…
Excerpt for Such Sweet Sorrow:
Prologue
Two figures, both alike in stature and purpose, ducked beneath a bridge in Verona. The swollen river made mud of its banks. The men slid and fought against it, their torches flickering.
“Let’s turn back, Romeo,” Friar Laurence urged, pushing down the hood of his rough brown robe. “Can we not let poor Juliet rest in peace?”
The younger man fixed his friend with a critical eye. “Peace? My Juliet knows no peace, only eternal torment. She took her own life, and that is my fault.”
They pressed on, Romeo’s steps becoming more determined the weaker his limbs grew. The poison that had incapacitated him, but not killed him, had ravaged his body. Tonight, he traveled farther beyond his father’s walls than he’d dared since the night he’d returned to Verona. Even though the prince had lifted his banishment, the streets still felt unfriendly. A truce had been called between Montague and Capulet there were plenty of young men who would like nothing more than to avenge their kin by killing Romeo.
Their destination lay far from the city center, in a small encampment of hovels beside the river. Faces peeked from behind tattered curtains as Romeo and Laurence traversed the narrow lanes between the dilapidated buildings, coming finally to the very wall of the city itself. It was at this border that they found the strega.
Her door was painted red, surrounded by talismans on long chains that hung from the recessed arch. Romeo ducked beneath a dried and crumbling chicken’s foot and brushed aside a crudely shaped metal eye.
“I go no further.” Friar Laurence backed away from the threshold, crossing himself. “Romeo, I warn you, this is a fearful path you tread. Your soul will be lost to darkness. You will perish in the flames of hell, I beg you not to do this.”
“I am already in hell.” Romeo pushed open the door and stepped inside.
The interior of the witch’s house was hot. It smelled of earth and the wood-like scent of herbs not used for cooking. A bent shape stood before the hearth, where a sulfurous cauldron bubbled. Romeo covered his nose and coughed.
“Ah, I was expecting a visitor this night.” The strega lifted her head, the veil of coins that obscured her face tinkling like fairy bells. “Your man of God could not dissuade you?”
“Nothing will dissuade me.” Even as he said it, his doubtful eyes took in the squawking black bird in the cage near the fire, the jars and bottles lining the shelves, murky objects floating in their slimy depths. “Benvolio told me you can communicate with the dead. He said you made him a charm to ward off attacks by ghosts.”
The strega shuffled across the room, her coins and jewelry clattering. She pointed a bony finger at a chair, and bade Romeo sit. “You are unwell. Poison, was it?”
“Poison, yes.” He could still taste the bite of it, still feel the stinging numbness in his veins. The physical evidence of it lay under his clothes, the dark stain of dying flesh spreading still, a little more each day. “Not enough.”
“That’s because you went to an apothecary,” the strega sniffed. “If you want poison to kill a man dead, you must see a witch.”
“I’ll… remember that. In the future.” Romeo clasped his hands and rested his elbows on his knees. “I came to you for knowledge of the dead. I will pay whatever it takes.”
“The price depends on the knowledge.” She rummaged through a trunk and produced a large, black bowl. Setting it on the floor, she reached into her clothes—it seemed she wore layers upon layers of tattered fabrics, in all shades and thickness—and withdrew a vial. The sight of it winking in the light caused something to recoil inside Romeo. Too recently, he had held a similar vessel.
Then everything had gone so wrong…
“What do you wish to know?” the strega asked, emptying the thick, black liquid into the bowl.
“My love, Juliet—” his voice trembled at her name, and he took a moment to repress his anguish.
“It was her you drank poison for.” The strega swirled the liquid in the basin. “I see her.”
“How do you know it’s her?” He leaned forward, peering into the dish. He saw nothing but his own reflection.
“The same as you know the sun rises in the east. I simply know.” She clucked softly behind her veil of coins. “Bound to you by the thread of holy matrimony. A secret wedding.”
Romeo swallowed back unexpected tears. “Yes, she was my… she was my wife.”
It still sounded strange to his ears. A wife was something an older man had, a man like his father. He could not imagine being so old. Perhaps that had been the poison’s cruelest jest, to let him believe his life would end in the vigor of his youth, only to return him with none of that youth left in body or mind.
“The young are foolish and brash.” The witch’s tone softened. “Black of hair, brown of eye. As fair as any maid from Verona.”
“Fairer,” he corrected her, his hand clenching to a fist. His nails bit into his palm as he struggled to hold back his tears. “Is she happy?”
The strega considered a moment, drawing one finger across the surface of the liquid. When she brought her hand away, it shone wet and red. “No. She is in despair. That is all I can see.”
His heart squeezed tightly. He couldn’t find his breath. He had hoped to hear that she was in a better place, as friar Laurence had assured him so many times. “There must be some way to assuage her grief. Some way to tell her—”
“Her eyes and ears are as closed as any dead woman’s. Whatever torments her will torment her for eternity.” There was no comfort to be had from the strega’s voice. She reached out one gnarled hand, palm up. “If that is all—”
“It is not all!” Romeo shot to his feet, placing his hand on the dagger at his side. He did not have the strength to use it, but the witch couldn’t know that. “You know dark magic. You can bring her back.”
Slowly, the strega unhooked her veil, letting the net of coins fall to her lap. Her face was as aged and withered as her hands. One eye protruded grotesquely, a milky blue, while the other, shrewd and black, fixed on him. “I no longer do such magic.”
“But it can be done?” Romeo asked, and when she nodded, he unsheathed his knife and prodded her knobby chin with the point. “Then you had better do it, witch.”
The old woman did not tremble in fear of him. She grabbed the blade and pushed it away; it felt as though he cut himself instead of her. He dropped the dagger and stepped back, cursing as blood coursed down his arm from the slice that split his palm. Faster than he could have anticipated, the old witch grabbed his wrist and jerked his hand over the basin, letting his blood fall into it.
“I no longer work such magic,” she repeated, swirling the blood in the bowl with her fingertip. “But there are others. To bring someone back, first you must find them. Are you prepared to walk with devils, boy?”
He nodded, his quick breaths flaring his nostrils.
“Are you willing to brave serpents and fire, to fight the keepers of the dead and hear ghosts speak?” She pushed his hand away. At once, the blood on his palm stopped flowing, and the wound sealed itself, burning with invisible fire. He gasped and clutched his hand, watching with horror as the old witch’s good eye rolled back in her head and she called out words he did not understand.
In the bowl, the liquid lightened, then glowed and turned an unearthly blue. A maelstrom formed in the shallow basin, and lightning crackled on its surface. All the while, the old woman chanted and howled, until the room filled with a spectral wind that seemed to originate inside the blue light. The bird screamed in its cage, and jars and bottles rattled and broke on their shelves.
The surface of the liquid rose in waves capped with frothy blue. As the peaks grew higher, the aquamarine light faded, leaving only a bubbling, roiling fount of blood rising as tall as Romeo himself. The burbling red took shape, into a form so familiar that Romeo at once recoiled from it and yearned to touch it.
His Juliet stood before him, or at least, the shape of her, frozen in blood, monochromatic crimson, but unmistakably her. Thick chains bound her across her neck, her waist, manacles clasped her wrists. Her eyes were the worst of all, open, bloody, blank and unseeing, yet somehow still accusing. Still hating him, for having let her go before him.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered, his throat raw with emotion. He reached for her, knowing it a foolish thing to have done before his fingertips brushed her bloody cheek.
The vision of Juliet opened its mouth impossibly, terribly wide and a bone withering scream burst from her at the same time the vision burst, raining blood over the room.
The strega braced herself with her ancient hands on either side of the bowl, and lifted her head, the blood running in rivulets down her face. “You must go north. You will find the man who can help you there.”
“North?” He conjured up a map in his mind. “Grezzana?”
“Farther.” The strega pushed up from the floor, righting herself. She looked smaller somehow, more fragile than fearsome.
“Erbezzo?”
The eyebrow over her good eye arched in exasperation. “Farther. Farther than you have ever traveled. Over the mountains, to a castle by the sea. The seat of a murdered king.”
He opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off. “I know no more. In payment, I ask only that you never darken my door again.” She lifted the dagger from the floor. He reached for it, and she threw it, so that the blade stuck in the lintel. At once, her terrible, craggy face transformed, her skin going smooth and youthful, her spider web hair turning to glossy black silk. She narrowed her eyes, no longer milky but deep black, and pointed to where the dagger quivered in the wood. “Leave it. Let its absence remind you never to cross a sister of the fortunes again.”
When Romeo emerged, Friar Laurence rose to his feet, the worry that creased his brow relented only a bit. “I heard such howling, I thought you must surely be in the grips of the devil himself.”
“No devils here.” Romeo made no mention of the dagger. It embarrassed him now, to think he had threatened a woman so powerful. “To find those, I must go north.”

About Jenny Trout:


Jenny Trout is a writer, blogger, and funny person.

Writing as Jennifer Armintrout, she made the USA Today Bestseller list with Blood Ties Book One: The Turning. Her novel American Vampire was named one of the top ten horror novels of 2011 by Booklist Magazine Online.
Jenny also writes award-winning erotic romance as Abigail Barnette.
When she’s not writing, she’s sleeping or otherwise incapacitated.
She is a proud Michigander, mother of two, and wife to the only person alive capable of spending extended periods of time with her without wanting to murder her.

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The 2 Most Diva Stories About Me That You Will Ever Hear (And What Really Happened)

Because I’m supposed to be writing a blurb right now, and it’s giving me all kinds of trouble, I thought I’d share an object lesson in how sometimes, the way a person tells a story might make the person in the story sound like a total diva. And when this happens, my friends are total jerks. Because here are two stories they tell people about me that sound way worse than they actually are:

The Limo.

What my friends tell people: One time, Jenny was at the airport, and her limo didn’t show up on time, so she threw her cell phone in the bushes.

What really happened: After a trip to the Harlequin sales conference in Colorado Springs, my friend Bronwyn Green and I were returning home via plane. During the two days that we were there, I got altitude sickness and my throat swelled up like I had strep. I was miserable and running a fever, and I’d totally beefed it talking to the sales team the night before because I was so ill. Our first flight was delayed by an hour, and Bronwyn’s inhaler had been confiscated by a TSA agent who shouted in our faces.  Bronwyn has insanely bad asthma, so when our plane landed in Chicago at O’Hare and we had to run for our connecting flight, she had a serious attack, with no inhaler.

As she gasped for air, I found a security guard with a CPR badge on her sleeve. I said, “I need help, my friend can’t breathe.” The guard shrugged and said, “I don’t know what to tell you. I’m on break. I guess I could find her a wheelchair.” So I was like, “Don’t strain yourself lady,” but she probably didn’t hear me because I was croaking like a frog with my giant, giant tonsils. Maybe she thought I said, “My friend can’t BREEZE,” as in, ” – through the airport and needs a fast mode of convenience. Were that the case, she was being super helpful.

Either way, I thought to myself, “You know who would care if a passenger died here today? The airline the passenger is flying on.”

O, what folly is hope or common sense where the airlines are concerned.

“Businesses care about customers,” I thought to myself as I raced through concourse C. I arrived at the gate, sweaty and out of breath, to find the flight attendant closing the door.

“Please help!” I begged him. “My friend can’t breathe.”

He goes, “Do you have a boarding pass for this flight?”

And I go, “Yeah, but that’s not the problem. My friend needs help, I need you to call security or something.”

He goes, “Ma’am, are you getting on this plane? Because I need to shut the door now.”

And I’m all, “Dude, you are not listening to me. I need help for my friend.” I’m in tears, I’m crying, I’m like, thinking I’m crazy because all of this is happening and I’ve been on a high-fever death march since about seven in the goddamned morning and I left one of my best friends back by the weirdly non-franchised sports bar and I think she’s probably dead by now.

And the guy says:

“Ma’am, if you don’t calm down, I’m going to call security and you are not getting on a plane today.”

Eventually it got worked out when Bronwyn miraculously appeared at the gate, gave the guy our boarding passes and marched down the little collapsible hallway thing with the most Beyonce hair toss I have ever seen from a person who is not Beyonce, and we flew into Grand Rapids, the worst part of our journey behind us.

But then we got to the airport, and there was no limo and I threw my cell phone in the bushes.

There was a good reason! Our flight was supposed to get in much later than we had expected, and we were so tired, and the whole day was just ass, so we were tired. And did I mention that because of our early flight time, Bronwyn should have gotten home in time for her son’s Arrow of Light ceremony with his scout troop? And now she was missing it? So, she’s exhausted and in tears, I’m exhausted and near tears, and I do the only thing I can think of: I call the person at Harlequin who set up the trip to get the number for the car company so we can get in touch with them. But my phone reception keeps going out and keeps going out, and I have to call her back three times to even get what I need across. Since my reception was so bad, she volunteered to call the company for us. There was a problem with scheduling, and they hadn’t assigned a driver, but a driver was coming to pick us up and he would call us to find out where we were. Fine, everything is solved.

But then the guy called, asked what part of the airport we were at, and as I answered… my phone battery died. it was totally drained from looking for service.

That was the last straw. I shouted and stamped my foot, and I threw my cell phone into the bushes.

So, you see how when you cut out a lot of details, it makes it sound really, really different than it actually was?

Sometimes, you can use close to the same amount of words to tell a story, but it’s the words you choose that make Jenny look like a diva:

Swine Flu.

What my husband tells people: Jenny was going to this Authors After Dark conference in New York, and Jill and I went along. We were going to go sight seeing while she had lunch in the city with her editor and her agent. But while I was there, I got really sick with swine flu. But Jenny still had to go into the city, so she made Jill and I go with her. Jill was sick, too. She wouldn’t ride the subway, because she’s scared of it, so we walked all over Central Park, we walked all the way from Penn Station to Central Park and walked all the way around the lake and around the fountain and the Alice in Wonderland and the castle bullshit, and we finally find Jenny at the Imagine thing and she’s like, “Oh, I had the most amazing lunch and everyone was really nice to me at Harlequin and my agency is so cool and I had duck confit.”

What Jill tells people: I was so sick and for some reason, Joe wouldn’t take the subway and we had to walk sooooo far.

What really happened: We went to Authors After Dark, i was going to meet my editor from Harlequin and my agent, Miriam, for lunch. Everyone at Harlequin and the agency were super nice, and it was so much fun meeting everybody. We went this really cool restaurant and I had duck confit. I knew Joe had been pretty sick two days before, but that morning he’d said that he was feeling a lot better. Jill was sneezing a lot, but she always sneezes because she has allergies the way other people have molecules. I tried to explain to my husband how the subway worked, but he really didn’t grasp the concept of switching trains or that he didn’t need to take a train anywhere to get from Penn Station to the Empire State Building, where they wanted to go sight-see. After lunch, I called Joe to ask where they were. They said, “We’re in Central Park. We’re lost. We don’t even know how to get to a road.” So I said, “Go up to someone ask them where the Imagine circle is, and head that way, and I’ll meet you there.” I took the subway, got off, headed to the Imagine thing, and waited. And waited. And waited. And then these two zombies come shambling up the hill, and I feel so guilty. I’m standing there, looking all cute because I’m dressed up and I’ve had this lovely autumn day in New York, and they were miserable. I tried to downplay how great my meeting was. “Yeah, the duck confit was okay. It was… probably only in the top five of all duck I’ve ever eaten. Ohhh, you guys had Papaya Dog? I am so jealous right now…” It totally didn’t work.

And it was only after we got home that we found out they had swine flu.

So, if someone who loves me tells you one of these stories about the time I was a super diva, they are soooo lying.

Now, if they tell you a story about me splitting the crotch out of my pants in a Yooper gas station bathroom… that one might be true.

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E02: “Some Assembly Required”

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone take eat about half a jar of homemade strawberry jam in one sitting. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.

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

Continue reading

What it’s like to not have a dad.

Trigger warning for reflections on mental health and parental abandonment.

I have so few memories of my biological father, I can count them on one hand.

I remember going to a circus with him once. I was probably about three years old. And I remember so vividly how special I felt. My dad wanted to spend time with me. It was so unexpected and precious to me, even at that early age, because I knew it didn’t happen often. Already, I had a concept of needing to prove myself to my father. I made sure I behaved perfectly, because I thought the reason he didn’t come to see me, the reason he didn’t live with us, was because I wasn’t good enough. And if I was good enough, he would come see me more often.
I think the next time I saw him, I was four. He took me to a pet store to buy goldfish to feed his piranhas. Then he took me back to his house, where he and a friend drank beer and smoked weed and fell asleep. I wandered around the house. I didn’t know where the bathroom was. Eventually, I wet my pants, and it eventually dried. My dad’s wife came home from work and found me in the dark house- I didn’t know how to turn on the lights or where the switches were-, my dad and his friend still passed out.
I never went to his house again. I saw him only occasionally. He never paid child support. He never came to another birthday party. He came to my high school graduation. I was a ball of tears and anxiety, looking out the window, wondering if he was there. Asking my mother, who had sacrificed her life and her dreams to have me and raise me, if my dad was there, because that’s all I cared about in that moment, and just having her there wasn’t enough. I feel so incredibly guilty about that now. But at the time, when I walked down that aisle with my classmates, praying, “Please. Please be here. Please,” and I saw my father sitting there, I felt validated. I felt like, “This is it. This is proof that he loves me.”
Now that I’m older, I can look back on all of those times and I realize that I was never getting proof that he loved me. Because he doesn’t, and that’s something I accept. What I was looking for, in all of those horrible moments, was proof that I was worthy of love at all.
When a parent rejects you, you don’t see the problem as being with them. You see the problem as being with you. This is something that haunts you for the rest of your life. You carry it around like an open wound, and you try to patch it with little scraps of what appear to be affection. And they never work. It’s like putting a band-aid on an amputated limb.
To give you an idea of how pervasive and insidious this is, let me give you an example of the crazy shit that goes through my head: if I go to a store, doesn’t matter what store. Doesn’t matter for what reason. If I go to the grocery store, and the cashier is a little snippy with me or hell, even if she’s tired and her feet her and she doesn’t want to be there and I get a sense of that, I decide that it’s me. That I am unlikeable. That there is some mark on me, something invisible but that everyone can sense or see, that tells them how broken I am. And I get a paranoid fear that the reason this stranger that I am interacting with knows that my own father rejected me.
That is fucked up, but I know I’m not alone. I know a lot of people, probably even a lot of people who read this blog, feel the same way. Or they don’t know they feel that way, while feeling that way. Because it takes a little while to make that connection. And when you do, you’re like, “Wow. I am way messed up.”
I feel as though there is something broken inside of me, and I should be ashamed of it. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know how to fix it, and the more I think about it, the more angry I get. And I get angry at myself for continuing to exhibit behavior motivated by this need to prove that there’s nothing wrong with me, to prove to everyone that I am worth something, even though I know that if I had never written this blog post, none of you guys would have ever known that my father abandoned me.
I wrote this because today, I had a really bad episode. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but hospitalization was considered. Calls to friends were made to talk me down. And this breakdown was triggered by something I would have thought was completely unrelated to my issues over my father. But in the course of talking to a friend, she said, “Jen, you have a really hard time feeling like a victim.”
Nobody likes feeling like a victim. Nobody likes being a victim. But hearing that sentence, hearing someone say, “Yes, you have been victimized, and it’s okay to acknowledge that,” moved me beyond what I thought was bothering me, to the very root of what was actually causing the problem. And I thought, “if I can’t share that with Troutnation and all my wonderful Troutlandians, then who can I share this with?” Because you guys have always been cool with my sharing my mental health issues, and I’m always down to hear yours, and we can be all sorts of fucked up together.
If Troutnation were an actual place, when you crossed the border there would probably be a sign put up by the tourism commission that says, “Welcome to Troutnation. Come be fucked up together!”
But I digress. I learned a couple really important things today that are going to help me, and I think will be helpful to some of you:
  1. If someone does something shitty to you? It’s okay to feel like they did something shitty to you. You don’t have to rationalize all the ways you probably deserved it and will continue to deserve it the future.
  2. Living “in the moment” is only a good thing if the moment is good. If you “live in the moment” and you hit a low time, that’s where those stupid suicide thoughts come in, and nobody wants that. Appreciate the moment, but don’t live in it. Live to see what’s next.
  3. (I realize three is more than a couple, but this is important) You don’t ever have to forgive anybody. No matter what Oprah says. If forgiving someone is going to be detrimental to your mental health at the moment, you don’t have to do it. Because faking forgiveness and being okay with shit just means everyone else moves on, and you’re still stuck back in the angry spot.

That’s all I’ve got for today.

“Don’t you regret those tattoos?”

As I might have mentioned before, I am an atheist. But I wasn’t always. I was once a true, not-fucking-around-even-a-little-bit Catholic. And when I got my very first tattoos, they were Catholic in nature. My very first tattoo was a sacred heart, which is now covered by an in-progress sleeve that has been halted while I figure out why I can’t heal a tattoo to save my life anymore. The last remnant of my devotion to G-d through body modification is a faded little Virgin Mary on my right upper arm. She looks like this:

Photo on 2013-07-21 at 10.46

See? She ain’t hurting anybody there. She (intentionally) looks like the bathtub Mary we had on our side yard when I was growing up. If anything, I’ll keep her for the childhood memory.

Whenever I’ve gotten a tattoo, well-meaning jerks have said, “You’re going to regret that when you’re older!” Which is fucking preposterous, because whenever I see an old lady with tattoos, looking rode hard and put away wet, usually working in a bowling alley bar, I’m like… that. That is what I want my golden years to be. That lady led a rad life.

Anyway, I don’t regret my Catholic tattoos, even though I’m not Catholic anymore. I don’t even feel silly about them; people change, and it’s okay to have a visual reminder of that.

Also, she’s lots of fun to dress up. For example, here we have Pirate (or Nick Fury) Mary:

Photo on 2013-07-21 at 10.48

Occasionally, Pirate Mary holds a sword or a bottle of rum, but if you want her to be interchangeable with Nick Fury Mary, you leave those deets out. Also, if no one is home to do the drawing for you, because drawing on the outside of your own right arm, when you are right-handed, is very difficult.

Another fun variation? Horatio Caine Mary:

Photo on 2013-07-21 at 10.49 #2

You have to write “YEEEAAAAHH” beneath her, though, otherwise she just looks like Tom Cruise In Risky Business Mary.

Sometimes, if I’m going to a birthday party or something, I like to get her dressed up for the occasion:

Photo on 2013-07-21 at 10.52

I gave her a little glass of wine in this one, because Mary knows how to have a good time. Look how worried she was about running out of wine in that story in the Bible.

Yes, tattoos are permanent. But only until you die. In the meantime, you can still have a lot of fun with them, even if you’ve outgrown the reason you got them. You just need a marker and a steady hand.

50 Shades Freed chapter 20 recap, or “This is definitely not an abusive relationship.”

Ugh.

Ana has just found out she’s pregnant. And it’s unexpected:

A baby. I don’t want a baby… not yet. Fuck. And I know deep down that Christian is going to freak.

Okay, so, unplanned pregnancies are the worst. Believe me on this one. I know. I got pregnant with my son three months into my relationship with my husband. So… wait… just a hair under the length of time Ana has been with Chedward. And when I found out I was pregnant, I really did think, Joe is going to freak. But I never thought half the things Ana is going to think in this chapter.

I nod mutely at the good doctor as she hands me a glass of water from her conveniently placed water cooler.

It matches all the conveniently placed plot elements.

“We could do an ultrasound to see how advanced the pregnancy is. Judging by your reaction, I suspect you’re just a couple of weeks or so from conception – four or five weeks pregnant. [...]“

Okay, first of all, is a patient’s shocked reaction really a reliable indicator of gestational age? I’d hate to be the lady having a baby on the toilet because I didn’t know I was pregnant, only to show up at the hospital and have Dr. Greene say, “Well, judging from your reaction, you’re very newly pregnant!” Second, I know that pregnancy “weeks” are determined from the first date of your last menstrual period, ergo you could have conceived two weeks ago and be five weeks pregnant, but then Dr. Greene asks Ana if she’s been having her period, and she says no… so how does the doctor come up with this estimate?

I nod, bewildered, and Dr. Greene directs me toward a black leather exam table behind a screen.

This isn’t how doctors’ offices in America are set up. Most of the time, exam rooms are separate from where the doctor’s desk is. But since Dr. Greene was cool with just sticking a cup of pee on her desk in the last chapter, I guess she’s into open floor plan medicine or something.

“This is a transvaginal ultrasound. If you’re only just pregnant, we should be able to find the baby with this.” She holds up a long white probe.

Oh, you have got to be kidding!

Then Doctor Greene tells Ana to relax and…

Slowly and gently she inserts the probe.

Holy fuck!

Leaving aside the fact that this scene reads like lesbian gynecological fetish porn, I’m dying at the idea of this probe being so scary and big and awful. This is a transvaginal ultrasound probe:

intra-vaginal-ultrasound-probe

I love that I had to click “Insert into post” to put this picture here.

Only about four inches of the probe is insertable, and it’s about as big around as a super absorbent tampon. So, you know. Let’s make an unkind correlation here between Chedward’s dick size the giant, terrifying 4″ probe as big around as a thumb.

So, Ana sees the “little blip” on the ultrasound screen and she’s immediately like, “It’s a baby!” just like in every Anti-Choice midwestern grandmother’s fantasy of how forced ultrasounds prevent abortion, and Dr. Greene says:

“It’s too early to see the heartbeat, but yes, you’re definitely pregnant. Four or five weeks, I would say.” She frowns. “Looks like the shot ran out early. Oh well, that happens sometimes.”

What in the actual fuck, lady?! Did they teach you that at med school? Pro-tip: if you’re doing a transvaginal ultrasound on a woman who isn’t happy about her unplanned pregnancy, “Oh well” should not be in your fucking vocabulary. “Oh well, that happens sometimes,” is what you tell a kid who’s favorite tv program is preempted by breaking news. It’s not what you say to someone who is pregnant with an unwanted baby.

Dr. People Skills prints out a photo for Ana, then tells her to come back in four weeks so they can figure out the age of the fetus and assign a due date. Okay… so what was the ultrasound for, if not to do all of that? You can set a due date right now. She’s either four or five weeks pregnant. You can give her a ballpark, and besides, even when you give her the due date, it will probably change when Chedward demands that she not go into labor until his security team has finished moving room to room through the hospital, neutralizing perceived threats.

Ana is freaking out about having a baby before thirty, and as she leaves the office she thinks:

Christian is going to freak, I know, but how much and how far, I have no idea. His words haunt me. “I’m not ready to share you yet.” I pull my jacket tighter around me, trying to shake off the cold.

Hey, remember that whole “Let’s look at a checklist of abusive relationship symptoms” game we all played during the first book? Wasn’t that fun? Let’s do it again. In this one tiny excerpt, we have:

  • Do you feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • Does your partner have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • Does your partner act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • Does your partner see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?

That’s in three sentences. Ana is afraid because she doesn’t know “how far” Christian is going to go when she tells him she’s pregnant. When she tells her husband, who has stated on numerous occasions that he wants to someday have a family, that she’s pregnant, he might go “too far.” WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH WOMEN WHO FEEL THIS IS ROMANTIC?

Just in case you were worried this was going to go unpredictably feminist or anything, E.L. throws in some anti-choice bullshit:

Perhaps I shouldn’t tell Christian. Perhaps I… perhaps I should end this. I halt my thoughts on that dark path, alarmed at the direction they’re taking. Instinctively my hand sweeps down to rest protectively over my belly. No. My little Blip. Tears spring to my eyes. What am I going to do?

I’m trying hard to be sympathetic to Ana as a woman getting hit with the bombshell of unintended pregnancy while she’s in an abusive relationship. But it’s difficult when her internal monologue has certain adjectives and adverbs in it. Like “dark.” And “instinctively,” and “protectively.” E.L. James is trying to show the reader than Ana is already a mother – a protective mother with good motherly instincts – and therefore she can’t even think of abortion as an option. She can’t even say “abortion” in her head. That word is the end of a “dark path” a good mother wouldn’t go down. This doesn’t even make me angry. It makes me really sad. Because sometimes, the best way to protect the child is to have an abortion.

Ana has a very cliche daydream about a little boy who looks just like Christian cavorting in a meadow while she and Christian hold hands. And then she thinks about this happening:

My vision morphs into Christian turning away from me in disgust. I’m fat and awkward, heavy with child. He paces the long hall of mirrors, away from me, the sound of his footsteps echoing off the silvered glass, walls, and floor. Christian…

I. Cannot. Wait. To see this sequence on film. I want to fly to L.A. to attend the goddamned premier just to see this scene. It is literally all I have ever wanted, without knowing it. It’s going to be worse than the wedding nightmare Bella had in Breaking Dawn pt. 1. I’m actually crying a little imagining the joy I’m going to have watching those words transform into visuals.

Ana goes back to the office, where she accepts her responsibility in her birth control screw up:

“Ana, great to see you. How’s your dad?” Hannah asks as soon as I reach my office. I regard her coolly.

He’s better, thank you. Can I see you in my office?”

“Sure.” She looks surprised as she follows me in. “Is everything okay?”

“I need to know if you’ve moved or canceled any appointments with Dr. Greene.”

“Dr. Greene? Yes, I have. About two or three of them. Mostly because you were in other meetings or running late. Why?”

Because now I’m fucking pregnant! I scream at her in my head. I take a deep, steadying breath. “If you move any appointments, will you make sure I know? I don’t always check my calendar.”

“Sure,” Hannah says quietly. “I’m sorry. Have I done something wrong?”

I shake my head and sigh loudly.

Everyone has had that boss that tells you to do something and later yells at you for doing it. Ana is that boss. She has told Hannah to move appointments. Hannah has tried to tell Ana about appointments she’s moved. And now Ana is blaming her pregnancy on her assistant, because Ana is too stubborn to just look at her damned calendar like a grown-up.

“You see that woman?” I talk quietly to the blip. “She might be the reason you’re here.”

No. You switched birth control methods three times in four months, from condoms to the pill to Depo, without using a backup, because your spoiled man-child husband doesn’t like using condoms. This is why you’re pregnant.

I shake my head, exasperated at myself and Hannah… though deep down I know I can’t really blame Hannah.

And knowing that makes everything you just scolded her about go magically away, right? No need at all to apologize. Oh, and spoiler alert, she doesn’t apologize for the way she just treated Hannah. She gets on her computer and emails Christian with one-word replies so he’ll sense something is wrong, but she doesn’t tell him what.

Hey, ready for the domestic violence warning sign funtimes again?

When will I tell him? Tonight? Maybe after sex? Maybe during sex. No, that might be dangerous for both of us. When he’s asleep? I put my head in my hands. What the hell am I going to do?

  • Does your partner hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?

Ana believes it will be dangerous to tell her husband she’s pregnant, because in the past he’s admitted that he enjoys hurting her.

Let’s really sit and meditate on that thought a minute. I read a forum thread yesterday that a tweep passed on to me. Women were specifically discussing this chapter, and Christian’s reaction to the pregnancy. Many of them said that when Ana found out she was pregnant, they cried because they knew Christian was going to freak out and possibly hurt her. But the running theme through most of the discussion was that Ana is a strong woman, and she can handle Christian, and they so admired her for this. So, this whole time I’ve been thinking that women who love these books have been brainwashed by society into not recognizing abuse. I was wrong. They recognize that Christian is abusive. They just apparently think a “strong woman” can change an abuser.

If you were waiting for a good reason to drink yourself to death, well. Merry fucking Christmas in July.

Christian picks up Ana after work – hey, what happened to the R8 he just bought her?

  • Does your partner limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?

So, she’s still getting picked up by Christian like this is preschool. Christian knows stuff is wrong, and Ana thinks:

Maybe now? I could tell him now when we’re in a contained space and Taylor is with us.

She wants to tell him when Taylor, the armed bodyguard, is there to protect her. BUT THIS IS ALL OKAY AND TOTALLY ROMANTIC.

“Ana, what’s wrong?” His tone is a little more forceful, and I chicken out.

  • Do you avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?

Plus, Chedward, you’re on the way to visit her dad in the hospital. Like, less than a week ago he experienced cardiac arrest due to massive internal bleeding caused by a traumatic and violent car crash. You should definitely yell at Ana until she tells you what’s wrong, because there’s no possible way you could figure it out on your own.

Christian notices that Ana’s hand is cold, and he asks her if she’s eaten:

Well, I haven’t eaten because I know you’re going to go bat-shit crazy when I tell you I’m pregnant.

Several smarty-pants commenters have pointed out ways that Ana seems like she could have an eating disorder. You can add this one to your list. She’s afraid of his reaction, so she exerts control over her life the only way she can.

“Do you want me to add ‘feed my wife’ to the security detail’s list of duties?”

“I’m sorry. I’ll eat. It’s just been a weird day. You know, moving Dad and all.”

His lips press into a hard line, but he says nothing.

Your dad nearly dying, then being airlifted unnecessarily to a different city for my convenience is no excuse for you to buck my total, authoritarian control, Ana. And this is all boding super well for my parenting skills later, for I am the great Chedward, and all I do is just and true.

Christian interrupts my reverie. “I may have to go to Taiwan.”

“Oh. When?”

“Later this week. Maybe next week.”

“Okay.”

“I want you to come with me.”

I swallow. “Christian, please. I have my job. Let’s not rehash this argument again.”

He sighs and pouts like a sulky teenager. “Thought I’d ask,” he mutters petulantly.

That’s not asking. That’s telling her, “I want you to come with me.”

  • Does your partner control where you go or what you do?
  • Does your partner  ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?

Oh, Ana. You and your “job” I so graciously let you keep. Chedward doesn’t want a wife. He wants a fucking pet he can dope up for the flight to Taiwan.

Ray is much brighter and a lot less grumpy when we see him. I’m touched by his quiet gratitude to Christian, and for a moment I forget about my impending news as I sit and listen to them talk fishing and the Mariners. But he tires easily.

If I had to talk about the same two subjects every time I got a moment of page time, I’d tire easily, too. Doesn’t Ray have any interests besides fishing and sports? Oh, of course not! He’s a man! And more importantly, he’s a man who isn’t Christian Grey, so he doesn’t need layers.

When they leave, Ana has this stomach-turning goodbye with her father:

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” I kiss him. My subconscious purses her lips. That’s provided Christian hasn’t locked you away… or worse. My spirits take a nosedive.

“Come.” Christian holds out his hand, frowning at me. I take it and we leave the hospital.

You know, I’ve had my differences with that stuck-up b-word in the past, but now I’m Team Subconscious. She’s straight up telling Ana she’s going to get murdered and never see her dad again, because Christian is just that fucking scary.

This is how I’m imagining Ana’s subconscious right now:

you in danger girl

So, at home, over dinner, Ana tells Christian she’s pregnant. And it goes… not great. He asks her how, and bypassing the obvious answer, he jumps to:

“Your shot?” he snarls.

Oh shit.

“Did you forget your shot?”

Did she forget it? Or was she too busy dealing with all the drama and bullshit that goes along with be Mrs. Grey that she got too fucking busy to go get her shot? I mean, would she have even been allowed out of the house, or is it too dangerous?

“Christ, Ana!” He bangs his fist on the table, making me jump, and stands so abruptly he almost knocks the dining chair over. “You have one thing, one thing to remember. Shit! I don’t fucking believe it. How could you be so stupid?”

Apart from the fact that Ana being stupid isn’t a new development here,

one job

Stupid! I gasp. Shit. I want to tell him that the shot was ineffective, but words fail me.

Okay, but the shot wasn’t ineffective, Ana. You never got the follow up shot.

“I know the timing’s not very good.”

“Not very good!” he shouts. “We’ve known each other five fucking minutes! I wanted to show you the fucking world and now… Fuck. Diapers and vomit and shit!”

Five fucking minutes is long enough to get married, though? And what’s this about wanting to show her the world, but now he has to deal with vomit and shit? Do people not vomit and shit in the parts of the world he’s going to show her?

“Did you forget? Tell me. Or did you do this on purpose?” His eyes blaze and anger emanates off him like a force field.

“No,” I whisper. I can’t tell him about Hannah – he’d fire her.

HANNAH DIDN’T DO ANYTHING! THIS IS YOUR FAULT, BOTH OF YOU, YOU FUCKING CHILDREN! TAKE RESPONSIBILITY! IF YOU HAVE SEX, SOMETIMES PREGNANCY HAPPENS! YOU KNOW THIS! TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS!

“This is why. This is why I like control. So shit like this doesn’t come along and fuck everything up.”

Guys who really like control and don’t want this to happen? Use condoms.

No… Little Blip. “Christian, please don’t shout at me.” Tears start to slip down my face.

“Don’t start with waterworks now,” he snaps. “Fuck.”

  • Does your partner humiliate or yell at you?
  • Does your partner criticize you and put you down?

He runs a hand through his hair, pulling at it as he does. “You think I’m ready to be a father?” His voice catches, and it’s a mixture of rage and panic.

And it all becomes clear, the fear and loathing writ large in his eyes – his rage is that of a powerless adolescent. Oh, Fifty, I am so sorry. It’s a shock for me, too.

So, as long as we can blame his shitty behavior on past abuse, that totally justifies it. Good. Glad we cleared that up.

Christian gets pissed off and storms out of the apartment, and Mrs. Jones comes in to comfort Ana:

“I heard. I’m sorry,” she says gently. “Would you like an herbal tea or something?”

My abusive husband just walked out on me after throwing a temper tantrum about the fact that I’m pregnant. Yeah, bitch, get me a Snapple, that should fix everything.

“I’d like a glass of white wine.”

Mrs. Jones pauses for a fraction of a second, and I remember Blip. Now I can’t drink alcohol. Can I? I must study the dos and don’ts Dr. Greene gave me.

I thought “no alcohol” was a pretty obvious one in this day and age, but a less obvious one? No herbal teas, unless they’re mommy safe. I was going through a tea phase when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I learned to my horror that many herbal tea bags you can buy in the grocery store contain herbs that are known abortificants.

Holy crap. Double Jeez. No alcohol? For Ana? She’s never going to make it.

Mrs. Jones tries to get Ana to eat something, but she won’t. She goes to the library and reads the pamphlets Dr. Greene gave her while justifying and rationalizing staying with a man who is clearly abusive and unstable:

I can’t concentrate. Christian’s never walked out on me before. He’s been so thoughtful and kind over the last few days, so loving and now… Suppose he never comes back? Shit! Perhaps I should call Flynn. I don’t know what to do. I’m at a loss. He’s so fragile in so many ways, and I knew he’d react badly to the news.

  • Do you  feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?

Also, apparently Dr. Flynn is so fragile in so many ways. Pronoun agreement, yo.

He was so sweet this weekend. All those circumstances way beyond his control, yet he managed  fine. But this news was too much.

Ever since I met him, my life has been complicated. Is it him? Is it the two of us together? Suppose he doesn’t get past this? Suppose he wants a divorce?

That would be the best thing that ever happened to you, Ana.

He’ll be back. I know he will. I know, regardless of the shouting and his harsh words, that he loves me… yes. And he’ll love you, too, Little Blip.

Yeah, the best fix for an abusive man is to make him a father. That fixes everything, in 100% of all cases.

Ana falls asleep in her chair, and when she wakes up, Christian still isn’t back, so she texts him to see where he is.

I head into the bathroom and run myself a bath. I am so cold.

  • Do you feel emotionally numb or helpless?

In fairness, she could be cold from not eating, as that was Christian’s tip-off in the car that she hadn’t eaten anything. Which means that Ana is so close to the verge of starvation that she can’t maintain her body temperature if she misses a couple meals. This pregnancy thing might just sort itself out, and then we can all go home.

After her bath, Christian still isn’t back, so Ana puts on a nightgown and wanders the apartment.

On my way, I pop into the spare bedroom. Perhaps this could be Little Blip’s room. I am started by the thought and stand in the doorway, contemplating this reality.

The reality in which you forget about the whole “we’re building a house with a sexually aggressive architect” subplot? Or the reality in which your bundle of joy will sleep in a room one used by your husband’s contracted conquests?

Ana is asleep in the great room when Christian stumbles in:

Shit, Christian drunk? I know how much he hates drunks.

Unless he’s coercing them into sex.

So, he’s home, he’s sloppy drunk and trying to get Ana to fuck him, and a thought occurs to me… where was Taylor? I thought Christian and Ana led such an exotic and dangerous life that to even step a single foot out the door of their apartment without a fully armed staff of trained killers was to invite death at the hands of the many nefarious villains all twiddling their mustaches and trying to murder them. If Ana goes out for a drink with friends while accompanied by two bodyguards, the narrative threatens her with rape and kidnapping. If the author were making both characters play by the rules, Christian should be dead now. Since he isn’t, we must then assume that Ana isn’t in any danger from these supposed threats at all.

“Christian, I think you need some sleep.”

“And so it begins. I’ve heard about this.”

I frown. “Heard about what?”

“Babies mean no sex.”

Yup. It’s the baby’s fault. Not the fact that you had a violent outburst, terrified your wife, then left and came home crazy drunk. It’s the baby.

Christian has another one of those haunted expressions that remind Ana that he was abused as a child, so it must be a day ending in Y. Ana gets him undressed while he talks in an exaggerated drunk dialect not unlike Otis on Mayberry RFD:

“I like the feel of this fabric on you, Anastay-shia,” he says, slurring his words. “You should always be in satin or silk.”

casket lining

“And we have an invader in here.”

I stop breathing. Holy cow. He’s talking to Little Blip.

“You’re going to keep me awake, aren’t you?” he says to my belly.

Oh my. Christian looks up at me through his long dark lashes, gray eyes blurred and cloudy. My heart constricts.

“You’ll choose him over me,” he says sadly.

So, Chedward is already jealous of the baby. That’s a good sign.

“Christian, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t be ridiculous – I am not choosing anyone over anyone. And he might be a she.”

I hope she is, for her sake. Because if she’s a he, and his penis touches the inside of Ana’s vagina during delivery, Christian will have to murder him. And Ana, of course, since she cheated on him.

I have managed to loosen his tie.

I have managed to loosen strangle him with his tie. There, I fixed it for you, Ana.

Ana looks at Christian and realizes that he’s handsome, so obviously, that goes a long way toward excusing his behavior. Also, he has a happy trail and she kisses it, because gosh, it’s so sexy when a guy treats you like a fucking dog who should wait at home until he gets back.

While Ana picks up his clothes, she finds his BlackBerry, and a text that reads:

It was good to see you. I understand now.

Don’t fret, you’ll make a wonderful father.

It’s from her. Mrs. Elena Bitch Troll Robinson.

Shit. That’s where he went. He’s been to see her.

Phew, I’m so glad Ana has someone to shift the focus of her anger onto. For a second, I thought she might have to be upset with Chedward. Thank god for Bitch Trolls.

The Boss is now available in paperback!

I CANNOT BELIEVE IT’S ACTUALLY READY, GUYS.

But it’s here. The Boss is available in paperback. I got the first copy today. After agonizing over format (“Is this too hard to read? Is the print too big now? Why is there practically no spacing?! Why is there too much spacing? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME I AM A GOOD PERSON?!”), it’s ready to go!

The only thing I’m not happy with is the price I have to offer it for. I’d wanted to price it at fifteen bucks, but I would have had to spend money per copy sold to do that. So, it’s coming off the line as a $20.00 USD purchase. I felt all guilty about that for a second, and then I was like, “Uh… this is actually just sitting around for free on the internet, so…” So, if you’re unhappy with the price of it, keep in mind that I am, as well, and I’m going to see what I can do to change that when it’s time for The Girlfriend to hit shelves. But also that you can still read it for free if you don’t want to shell out.

In the meantime, here’s the buy link for the paperback:

Generic cover image

The Boss

Abigail Barnette

$20.00

Buy Now button

 

And then check out these amazing running shoes I received as a birthday present from a wonderful friend who wants to remain nameless to avoid the wrath of her husband, but who I think we pretty much all know who she is, right? Having only run barefoot – until that caught up with me in the form of an achilles tendon injury last year – I had never shopped for running shoes before. Cut to me running up and down an alley in 91 degree heat while a very earnest sales person watches me and considers whether the shoes are working for me or not. Pro-tip, the pair that fly off the moment you take a single step are just a tad too big.

P1000511

Thanks, nameless cousin-friend! I can’t wait to go running! Oh shit, yes I can, because it’s like NINETY FUCKING DEGREES OUT.

I better just stay in and stroke the fuck out of this paperback I wrote, formatted, covered, and crafted without the help of a big six publisher SO NOW I FEEL LIKE A FUCKING GOD.

 

Dear Pancreas: I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry

It’s become a bit of a tradition, since about the time that I could pick out my own birthday cake, that I celebrate another year without dying with a big, gooey slab of my grandma Z’s German chocolate cake. This year, however, that didn’t work out, because my poor grandma is super sick with shingles and some other nasty stuff. Poor grandma!

Left to my own devices, I considered how to make this birthday just as good without German chocolate cake and rockin’ amazing goulash. I meditated carefully over the dilemma before me. At first, I settled on making my own German chocolate cake, but then I realized that if I did that, maybe German chocolate cake would cease being special. I should leave that to the professionals. I thought about making a Texas sheet cake, but I do that for my husband’s birthday in August, as it is his favorite cake.

What would make a cake special for me? Perhaps one that reflects my interests? I’ve made my kids a Lego Jack Sparrow cake, a Dora cake, a Tangled cake… what could I do for me? What do I love just as much as my kids love all that crap?

candy

 

OF COURSE! Why didn’t I think of that sooner?

Using one of the many Kit Kat cakes as a template for greatness. This is the end result:

P1000509

But I noticed that the recipes for most of those Kit Kat cakes call for you to use a chocolate cake and chocolate frosting. And here’s the thing… I love chocolate. But that sounds a little bit over the top. Like, waaaaay too much chocolate. Also, when you cut into a pile of joy like the one pictured above, the inside should be as beautiful as the outside. Like this:

P1000510

You wanna make a cake like this? It’s ridiculously easy. Here’s what I used:

P1000502

I do make the occasional cake from scratch. Things like caramel cake or yellow cake or my sacred chunk of moist and yummy joy, red velvet cake. But this was my fucking birthday and I didn’t feel like making a huge production of it. So, I used:

  • 1 box white cake mix and the oil, eggs and water to bring it into being.
  • 2 cans Duncan Hines Frosting Creations starter
  • 2 packets Duncan Hines Frosting Creations flavoring in White Chocolate Raspberry
  • 1 big bag of M&Ms
  • 9 Kit Kats (and the cashier is totally going to give you side eye when you’re grabbing them from beside the register)

You’re going to prepare 2 9″ round pans. If you use a larger or different sized pan, you’re going to need a different number of Kit Kats, and you’re on your own. Prepare your batter and color it like I did for my rainbow cupcakes, but this time, you’re going to put the batter into the two 9″ round pans. It should look something like this:

P1000503

 

The best technique for this, I’ve found, is to spread a thin layer of the first color with a spatula across the bottom of the pan. Then pour on the next color and roll the pan around. If you use a spatula on the next layer, you’ll accidentally mix the colors and it will all be gray-brown and disappointing. It helps when you’re pouring it on to do it in a sort of wide circle. If that makes sense.

When your cake is baked and cool, whip up the frosting. My general rule for all canned frosting is that you should take it out of the can and put it in your mixing bowl and hit it with the electric mixer for a while, to fluff it up. Unfortunately, halfway through the making of this cake, my power went out. So I had to mix the frosting and the flavor packets by hand.

Quick review of Duncan Hines Frosting Creations: Just put a teaspoon of Jell-O powder into regular frosting, it’s the same damn thing.

Once the frosting was mixed up, I frosted the cake. By the by, if you do try out the Frosting Creations racket, the color of the white chocolate raspberry flavor is Grurple:

P1000505

 

The lack of electric lighting is really doing the color a favor there.

When that’s all done, you just break apart all the Kit Kats and start pushing them into the frosting around the cake. I didn’t get a photo of this stage, because I was working quickly in an un-air conditioned house. If this happens to do you, do what I did and just stick the cake in the freezer for a few minutes so the Kit Kats don’t slide everywhere. Then pour in the M&M’s, stick on your candles, and serve it.

Getting the blog transferred and The Boss ready for publication has really taken a bite out of my regular blogging, but I’ll be back with another 50 Shades recap at the end of this week!

Happy birthday to me, The Boss, and this blog!

I am turning 29 + 4 today, and I thought, “Well, you know you’re switching your blog around… why not start off with a bang?” Or, many bangs, that is, because today The Boss goes live in its official ebook version, available at jennytrout.com!

the boss front cover

 

 

Sophie Scaife almost ran away once, trading her ticket to college for a ticket to Tokyo. But a delayed flight and a hot one-night stand with a stranger changed her mind, putting her firmly on track to a coveted position at a New York fashion magazine.

When the irresistible stranger from that one incredible night turns out to be her new boss – billionaire and publishing magnate Neil Elwood – Sophie can’t resist the chance to rekindle the spark between them, and the opportunity to explore her submissive side with the most Dominant man she’s ever known.

Neil is the only man who has ever understood Sophie’s need to submit in the bedroom, and the only man who has ever satisfied those desires. When their scorching, no-strings-attached sexual relationship becomes something more, Sophie must choose between her career and heart, or risk losing them both.

Now, I know a lot of you were looking forward to ordering the print-on-demand paperback of The Boss today, but unfortunately, it’s slightly delayed. This is because I want to make sure that you get a good quality paperback, so I’m not going to release it until I’m absolutely satisfied that it’s right. I’m hoping that’ll be as soon as next week, but stay tuned.

But in the meantime, enjoy the final version of The Boss, and the one chapter preview of The Girlfriend stuck on the end of it!

Also, enjoy the fuck out of this new WordPress blog, which is a freaking dream to use and I should have just switched earlier this year. Now, I’m going to celebrate turning twenty-nine for the fourth time with this Doctor Who Waldorf baby doll my friend Bronwyn Green made me!

Photo on 2013-07-14 at 13.07 #2

 

It’s freakin’ adorable!