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Month: October 2014

Merlin Club S04E01, 02: “The Darkest Hour” or “Haunted Sparkle Vagina Full of Ghosts”

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Merlin club is a weekly feature in which Jessica Jarman, Bronwyn Green, and myself gather at 8pm EST to watch an episode of the amazing BBC series Merlin, starring Colin Morgan and literally nobody else I care about except Colin Morgan.

Okay, I lie. A lot of other really cool people are in it, too.

Anyway, we watch the show, we tweet to the hashtag #MerlinClub, and on Fridays we share our thoughts about the episode we watched earlier in the week.

DON’T DO THIS EVER (An advice column for writers): “Just Say Hale No To The Taliban” edition

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What. The fuck. Is happening?

If you didn’t get a chance to read the last installment of DON’T DO THIS EVER, then you should hop on over there , because otherwise you will be muy confuso.

In the wake of Kathleen Hale’s stalking of blogger Blythe Harris, book bloggers developed a plan to stick up for their rights. They rallied support for a “blogger blackout.” The concept is simple: for a week, these bloggers don’t review. Some bloggers have taken it further, making it their new policy to not review any recent releases for the foreseeable future. This is to make a point not only to badly behaving authors like Kathleen Hale, but to publishers, who rely on book bloggers as a source of free publicity. The message they’re sending, loud and clear, is that without them, it’s pretty damn hard to grow a readership these days.

But one author, Deborah Smith, sees the blackout differently. She thinks it’s… sing it with me now, because you know this tune…

free glitter text and family website at

It appears to have started on October 20th, with this tweet:


This is where Deborah Smith learned about irony.
This is where Deborah Smith learned about irony.

So, now that we’re aware that we’re dealing with an author who thinks irony is “people doing something I don’t understand in a way that I feel personally affects me,” the rest of these tweets will make more sense in context.


Ole Debbie here does not care. In fact, she doesn’t care so much on October 22, that she continues to tweet about it:


for literally days:


Apparently, bloggers taking a single week off from reviewing and declaring that they won’t buy books or receive ARCs from authors who support Kathleen Hale in the wake of her admission of stalking, is an attempt to punish authors. Smith’s reasoning seems to be that because bloggers receive ARCs from publishers, authors should be allowed to stalk them.


Wait a minute. Hang on. Kathleen Hale didn’t “respond to reviews.” She spent months stalking a blogger online, plotting to get her address, and methodically planning a confrontation at the blogger’s home. This wasn’t some spur of the moment bad decision making. Hale rented a car months in advance, and drove to Harris’s house to call her out in person. That’s why bloggers are scared and protesting.

Furthermore, there’s no law that says an author can’t respond to a review. Respond all you want. But people are free to react to that response, and if everyone thinks you’re a dipshit, well. You don’t really have a say in that. Here, Smith has turned the car around. We’re not going to ProtectHalesville today. We’re heading right on back to bad reviews are bullying country.

So, here we are on that lonely, delusional road so many authors drive us down. Smith appears to truly believe that she and other authors are entitled to the free publicity that those ARCs, giveaways, and interviews provide for them, without having to maintain a standard of behavior up to and including “don’t stalk people.” For a blogger to deny an author a platform to market themselves is nothing short of, well… terrorism?


Here, Smith is referring to the doxxing of Kathleen Hale by twitter user @WhatTheEff. When bloggers on the #HaleNo tag saw this going down, they rejoiced and patted each other on the back for being hypocrites and bullies.

Oh. No, that’s not what happened at all:

whattheeff2 whatheeff1

In fact, a lot of people reported @WhatTheEff. I know I reported them. But Smith, seeking to cement her place as the Ann Coulter of the romance world, won’t let the Taliban thing go:


And if her hysterics over bloggers taking a week off from reviewing–remember, that’s what she’s pissed about, that bloggers won’t review books for one week and some are choosing to boycott authors who support an author who stalked someone over a GoodReads status update–weren’t offensive enough yet, well, hold on to your hat. Good ole fashioned white supremacy is just the pick-me-up you need to keep your overdramatic twitter rant fresh and exciting:

Thanks to @FangirlJeanne for the screencap.

She’s also got some words for bloggers who aren’t sympathetic enough to ever-flowing white tears:


Smith apparently has made something of a name for herself on Twitter based on her Islamaphobic tweets and harassment of women of color. I’m sure you’re all shocked.

Apparently, bloggers are overreacting to a “minor incident” of stalking:


Saying, “I don’t want an angry author nursing an ego boo-boo to roll up to my door intending to do god-knows-what to me in retaliation” is no more bullying than giving a book a bad review in the first place.

There are many, many more tweets that I’ve screencapped from this nonsense, but they all say basically the same thing: Deborah Smith believes that she, as an author (and publisher; she is co-founder of BelleBooks), is entitled to free publicity, great reviews, and unending adulation from the blogging community. And if she doesn’t get all of that, she’s being victimized by terrorists.

I’m just saying, if I were Deborah Smith, I wouldn’t be demanding reviews from bloggers right this minute.

Look, if you want an example of “burning bridges,” this is the one, right here. Authors, when are you going to wise up? Book bloggers are out there, sharing their hobby in a way that benefits you. These are people who are so passionate about reading that they want to share their experiences with other readers and get them excited over your books. It’s done without pay (regardless of what Smith seems to believe, ARCs don’t pay the bills), it’s a ton of work, and it all encourages readers to buy books. Book bloggers are in it for love, not to destroy authors. In fact, most cases of damage done to careers has come from the authors themselves, when they point out a negative review and respond to it by childishly stamping their feet in public. That’s not the blogger’s fault. That’s the author’s fault. And even then, there don’t seem to be any consequences for the authors who actually do this crap. All we have to do is look at the response to Hale’s admission of stalking to see that no matter how badly an author behaves, there isn’t ever going to be a consequence.

Oh, hey, speaking of badly behaving authors who are still beloved despite the fact that they’re generally terrible:



Wow! Someone actually favorited that tweet? The tweet that sounds like a threat, coming from a woman who vocally supports Kathleen Hale, a reviewer stalker? Who the hell would favorite that?



Let’s compare and contrast that user photo, shall we?


Oh, okay, that explains it.

If you’re looking for more information on the blogger blackout (from someone who won’t compare bloggers to the Taliban and make Islamaphobic slurs), here are some posts you can visit:

There’s also a petition asking Goodreads to increase privacy measures to protect the safety of its users.

Finally, as Deborah Smith is cofounder of BelleBooks, I would strongly urge any writers to avoid submitting their manuscripts there. I personally am writing them off my to-buy lists. It’s not fair to the authors who write for them, but I refuse to put money in the hands of a spoiled, entitled, racist brat like Deborah Smith. I strongly encourage you to consider doing the same.

Merlin Club S03E12 & 13: “The Coming of Arthur,” or, “Jess, stop snickering.”

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Merlin club is a weekly feature in which Jessica Jarman, Bronwyn Green, and myself gather at 8pm EST to watch an episode of the amazing BBC series Merlin, starring Colin Morgan and literally nobody else I care about except Colin Morgan.

Okay, I lie. A lot of other really cool people are in it, too.

Anyway, we watch the show, we tweet to the hashtag #MerlinClub, and on Fridays we share our thoughts about the episode we watched earlier in the week.

Jealous Hater’s Book Club: Apolonia, chapter two

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A blogger contacted me about the possibility that Apolonia could be a Roswell fanfic (the blogger who contacted me is not affiliated with the link). Having never watched Roswell myself, I wouldn’t know. I’m also not familiar enough with McGuire’s background to know whether or not she has published fanfic in the past, though I have heard that allegation leveled at her before. I haven’t seen any kind of obvious trail, like with E.L. James and Fifty Shades of Grey. If you’re familiar with Roswell and notice anything, feel free to discuss it in the comments.

DON’T DO THIS EVER (An Advice Column For Writers): “Stalking The Hands That Feed You” edition

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I was out of town this weekend, and when I got home, I had all sorts of messages on twitter and Facebook. “Have you seen this?!” followed by a Do Not Link link. “I have to know what you think about this!” Well. I feel sick. And scared. Every time an author has a meltdown at a blogger, we all shout the same things into the social media vortex. “Every book gets bad reviews!” “Bad reviews can sometimes sell the book better than a positive one!” “It’s a matter of personal taste.” But then another author v. reviewer interaction comes along, more extreme than the last. Sites like Stop The GoodReads Bullies encourage abuse of and retaliation towards bloggers, stoking the flames so that each new “drama” is more radical and perplexing. I’ve long said that a site like Stop The GoodReads Bullies was going to get someone killed. And I am not exaggerating or being histrionic when I say that I fear that author Kathleen Hale’s actions have opened the door to that possibility. I don’t say that lightly. By Hale’s own admission, she stalked blogger Blythe Harris. In a long, unhinged essay for The Guardian, Hale tells the story about how a blogger caused her mental anguish significant enough to justify not only online stalking, but a premeditated visit to the blogger’s home, followed by the article exposing Blythe Harris as a blogger using an online pseudonym. The opening of the article draws on the time-worn cliche of “book babies” (with a tasteless comparison to Post-Partum Depression) in what is a transparent plea for a level of sympathy that excuses the actions that will be recounted in the rest of the tale:

“In the months before my first novel came out, I was a charmless lunatic – the type that other lunatics cross the street to avoid. I fidgeted and talked to myself, rewriting passages of a book that had already gone to print. I remember when my editor handed me the final copy: I held the book in my hands for a millisecond before grabbing a pen and scribbling edits in the margins.”

As an author, I find this to be worrying behavior. I’m not a mental health professional, so I can’t diagnose or declare someone mentally ill, so I won’t. But I will say that if one of my author friends were behaving this way, I would be gravely concerned for them, even if they were inexperienced or anxious over the release of the book. At first read, I assumed this description–and the following anecdote about her editor pulling the red pen from her hand–were humorous exaggeration. As the article continued, I began to doubt. According to Hale’s recounting of the story, she was approached by Blythe Harris on Twitter:

Her name was Blythe Harris. She had tweeted me saying she had some ideas for my next book. “Cool, Blythe, thanks!” I replied. In an attempt to connect with readers, I’d been asking Twitter for ideas – “The weirdest thing you can think of!” – promising to try to incorporate them in the sequel.

The order in which these events are listed is disingenuous; Hale makes it sound as though Harris contacted her to suggest ideas apropos of nothing, when in reality, Hale invited conversation, a fact that is dropped in as an afterthought. Hale’s curiosity led her to Harris’s GoodReads profile, where she found a one-star review of her work, with some harsh words expressing Harris’s dislike of the book. Hale writes about the warning that pops up when an author tries to leave a comment on a GoodReads review, but she doesn’t admit to leaving a comment. Whether or not she did, I have no idea; Harris has since made her GoodReads profile private.

“Blythe appeared on a page called Badly Behaving Goodreaders, an allusion to Badly Behaving Authors. BBAs, Athena Parker, a co-founder of STGRB, told me, are “usually authors who [have] unknowingly broken some ‘rule’”. Once an author is labelled a BBA, his or her book is unofficially blacklisted by the book-blogging community.”

Athena Parker is a pseudonymous identity that convincing evidence has linked to author Melissa Douthit. As STGRB has routinely stalked, threatened, and doxxed bloggers, using Douthit as a source in an article about stalking is either hilariously contradictory or tragically appropriate.

“In my case, I became a BBA by writing about issues such as PTSD, sex and deer hunting without moralising on these topics.”

I have to argue that the rest of the events in Hale’s anecdote are what make her a badly behaving author, not her choice of subject matter. She describes an “attack” Harris made against a fourteen-year-old GoodReads reviewer. Some authors and readers have pointed to Harris’s interaction with the teen reviewer as “bad behavior on both sides,” of this issue, but Hale’s obsession didn’t start with seeking justice for that incident, it was incited by a one-star review. As far as I can tell from Hale’s own account, the only action taken by Harris that justified Hale’s relentless stalking was that single review. The process of retaliation began the moment Hale engaged with STGRB. According to Hale, she was advised by a friend who was an editor to reach out to other authors who’d received negative reviews from Harris. I find this claim dubious in the extreme, but perhaps Hale found the one editor in publishing who feels engaging with a critic is a sound decision. She contacts several authors and finds only one who will speak, under condition of anonymity:

“She responded – “Omg” – and immediately took our conversation off the record. “DO NOT ENGAGE,” she implored me. “You’ll make yourself look bad, and she’ll ruin you.””

This is the advice Hale should have heeded. Instead, she continued to monitor reviews, following a “ripple effect” in which she implies that Harris’s review tainted the opinions of others. After searching her name on Twitter, Hale finds that Harris is “ridiculing” her:

“Confronting her would mean publicly acknowledging that I searched my name on Twitter, which is about as socially attractive as setting up a Google alert for your name (which I also did).”

Authors, if you are unable to handle dissenting opinions of your work and your public statements, never search your name. Never set up a Google alert for your name. But what truly troubles me about this paragraph is Hale’s concern that publicly announcing her vanity searches would not be “socially attractive,” yet she seems to find nothing unattractive about publicizing her methodical stalking of Harris. Does this mean that Hale finds her own actions acceptable? Hale describes what she did next as “light stalking.” This included tracking down all of Harris’s social media accounts, and consuming material that was unrelated to Harris’s book blogging. Months later, against the advice of the anonymous author she again contacted, Hale requested that Harris interview her for a book club. Hale doesn’t admit openly to requesting Harris with the goal of obtaining her address, but she is provided with the information. Hale used it to find Harris’s home on Google Maps, to ferret out her phone number and even check census records in order to learn more about her. What she learned was that Harris was using a pseudonym–not a crime, even if Harris did once make a claim to the contrary. Hale makes plans to confront Harris personally, at Harris’s home. Though the anonymous author once again pleads with Hale not to, Harris reserves a car for a date months away. She continues to stalk Harris via social media, collecting information to prove that Harris was not what she seemed, and that Hale was being “catfished.” She attempts to back up her paranoia with professional opinions; one must wonder how the sources cited feel about their words being used as vague justification for Hale’s actions. But Hale wasn’t being catfished–Harris had been reviewing books as Blythe Harris before she reviewed Hale’s book. Harris had not concocted an elaborate persona in order to trick people; many bloggers review under pseudonyms to avoid having their public hobby linked to their private lives, much in the same way that authors use pen names to separate themselves from their work. Hale concludes her self-pitying narrative by explaining how she went to Harris’s house and confronted the person who lived there, a woman named Judy who made excuses for her links to Harris. Or, when looked at from a different angle, a woman named Judy who, unnerved when a stranger from the internet showed up on her doorstep, tried to protect herself. Hale continues to contact Judy and Harris via social media, until both of them block her and make their accounts private, a step that Hale sees as an admission of guilt, rather than the actions of terrified victims withdrawing to avoid further contact. The details are presented in such a straight-forward, unflinching manner that it becomes painfully clear that Hale, despite calling the personal visit a “low-point,” has no remorse, and expects sympathy and understanding from the reader.  She received it in spades; Neil Gaiman leapt into the online fray to declare Hale’s article fascinating, though he states that he doesn’t condone her actions. Anne Rice (predictably) praised Hale, although one has to question one’s actions if Anne Rice approves of them. Comedian John Mulaney is also a fan, and Frank Rich, a fellow Guardian writer and her future father-in-law, threw his support behind the piece as well. Danielle Paige presumed to speak on behalf of all authors in an incendiary tweet that sparked dozens of replies:

Others blamed Harris, or insinuated that her behavior was equally as disturbing as Hale’s. I am forced to reiterated that the only thing Harris did to set this stalking behavior in motion was to write a one-star review for a book she didn’t care for. Hale was not catfished. Hale is not a victim. She is an author obsessed with public reception of her work, and comes across as a deeply troubled figure. The victim in this story is Blythe Harris, whose privacy, both online and off, was grotesquely violated by a woman who was repeatedly advised to disengage. All this, for the crime of disliking an unstable writer’s book. For her part, Hale seems to view this essay as a comedy piece, stating:  

I have to assume that were the roles reversed and a persistent blogger had visited Hale at her home, she wouldn’t have such a blasé attitude toward stalking. But as Twitter user @Bibliodaze eloquently explained:

In the coming months, I suspect that fewer blogs will host book tour giveaways with physical prizes that require an author to receive an entrant’s address. I suspect also that fewer bloggers will accept physical ARCs, and for a while, author/blogger interaction will be more guarded than it has in the past. There is no way for them to discern which authors will cross the line and visit their homes with accusations. There is no way for them to discern which might go further. I expect a few pseudonymous bloggers to stop reviewing books altogether, even as Hale supporters backpedal from their threats to reviewers:

Hale’s actions have harmed not only the book blogging community, but authors who will now be viewed with suspicion and caution by bloggers. She’s limited opportunities to reach out to readers via book blogs, not just for herself, but for all of us. The most troubling aspect of this story is that Hale, after writing an in-depth admission of stalking, is receiving any support or accolades at all. What she has done is not brave. Perhaps it’s not serious enough for the law to become involved, but the behavior itself, the stalking and intimidating, is at the very least a prelude to a crime. Hale didn’t go as far as assaulting Harris, but her supporters have, through their pseudo-intellectual praising of her bravery and “fascinating” retelling, normalized and rationalized the abnormal, irrational behavior that will one day lead to a violent altercation between an author with a wounded ego and a faulty moral compass, and a blogger who reviews the wrong book. I hope that those closest to Hale will view this article for what it is: a confession of dangerous behavior perpetrated by a deeply troubled person. I would have thought this would go without saying, but the lesson here is: Don’t do this. Ever. For more information on Hale’s essay, visit Dear AuthorSmart Bitches, Trashy Books, and this Storify of relevant tweets.  

YA Debut Author Christine Allen-Riley

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Today we are joined on the blog by my long-time Bestie and all around awesome person, Christine Allen-Riley! She’s here to share her debut indie YA novel with us, which goes on sale today. I’m so super proud of her, and the book is awesome. Check out what Christine has to say:

I’ve always loved young adult fiction. Some of my favorite books and authors are YA, and I’ve always wanted to write it.  I finally did it, and today, my first young adult story is making its way into the world! Eventide (Iron Falls, Book #1) is out today in both ebook and print, and I couldn’t be more excited!
Here’s a little bit about the book, and a peek at my gorgeous cover made by the incomparable Kris Norris.

The driver in a tragic car accident that killed her best friend, Devon Greer is consumed by guilt. When powerful
hallucinations convince her that she’s seeing Rachael everywhere, Devon thinks
she’s going crazy. But her friend isn’t truly gone.
To save Rachael from the faeries who
stole her, Devon must pit herself against the Court of the Sidhe. Once she witnesses
the true form of the fey, Devon’s life is in danger—and so are the lives of
everyone she loves. 
Now, Devon must not only protect
herself, but also Jonah Seafort, Rachael’s cousin and the only person Devon can
trust to help her. While the Sidhe walk among them, no one is safe…
If you know anyone who likes YA, or hey, if you like it yourself, I’m hoping you’ll give Eventide a try!
If you’re interested, here are the buy links.
And if you fancy following me on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instgram, Pinterest or Ravelry, please feel free to click on the links!

Merlin Club S03E11: “The Sorceror’s Shadow” or “Filthy Mudblood”

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Merlin club is a weekly feature in which Jessica Jarman, Bronwyn Green, and myself gather at 8pm EST to watch an episode of the amazing BBC series Merlin, starring Colin Morgan and literally nobody else I care about except Colin Morgan.

Okay, I lie. A lot of other really cool people are in it, too.

Anyway, we watch the show, we tweet to the hashtag #MerlinClub, and on Fridays we share our thoughts about the episode we watched earlier in the week.

An Interview With Plus-Size Model Michelle Landriault

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In case I haven’t mentioned it four hundred and thirty times, I’m going to be on The Steve Harvey Show tomorrow,  talking about body positivity. What I haven’t told you (because I was waiting for this post) is that I wasn’t the only woman out there speaking up for large ladies. Fifteen amazing, inspiring, brave women were there, too:



These gorgeous ladies were there as part of a life-changing surprise; I had no idea that they would be there, and that they had come because of my Huffington Post essay on wearing a bikini. I was told that I would be interviewed by Mr. Harvey, then take questions from the audience. Instead, after the interview, these fantastic women came out, to wear two-pieces for the first time, on national television, and to tell me that I inspired them to do it.

Look, y’all. I wore my bikini to an ice cold beach. They went on TV.

I better step up my game.

Fifth from the left, in the red bikini, is Michelle Landriault, a plus-size model and blogger from Chicago. She took the challenge, and became one of the fifteen women who made me weep on TV. Today, I’m welcoming her to Trout Nation, to tell us about her experience.

Michelle also interviewed me for her blog, and you can read that here.

So, get to know Michelle after the jump, and if you get The Steve Harvey Show in your area, check your local listings and tune in on Friday, October 17th!

Wednesday Blogging: If they’re not real, it’s not creepy behavior

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I am a crush slut. I will crush on anyone, anywhere, any place, any time. Some of my crushes have passed into legend. Okay, well. One of them. We all know which one that is.

But the point is, I just have a lot of love to give. And that love is usually expressed through… erotic daydreams about unobtainable people. It’s not weird if they’re not real people, though! It’s not creepy if you want to bang characters who just happen to look exactly like people you would totally bang in real life. Or, people in books who you lovingly fashion into a mental facsimile of those aforementioned bangable people.

Let’s just start, shall we?

#1, Rupert Giles. Duh.

giles teenage tolerator

Where do I even begin explaining how much I love Giles? I seriously could write this entire post about him. First of all, if we’re ranking seasons, season six was when Giles was at his absolute hottest:

Buffy_giles_two-to-go-gilesAnd he’s here to AVERT THE APOCALYPSE with A BUNCH OF MAGIC that he totally took on as a weapon even though dabbling with magic led to the death of his friends in his DARK AND TRAGIC PAST but NO BIG DEAL GUYS HE’S JUST DOING WHAT HE HAS TO IN ORDER TO SAVE THE WORLD.

Also, one time, he bought a magic store and spent part of season five in hot-dad-doing-weekend-chores clothes:

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 9.47.13 PM


He’s also the cause of some absolutely shattering second-hand embarrassment:

giles dumb costume

But he will chainsaw through a haunted house to rescue you if you are… trapped in a haunted house.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.21.56 PM 1

I know that’s really specific in terms of attributes, but it’s important.


#2, Dr. Mindy Lahiri.

First of all, this is not a “girl crush.”girl crushGirl crush implies platonic, and I’m sorry, but I want to marry Mindy, or live with her in sin, either way. And I want to adopt a baby together that we would name Bailey and we would all dress up in themed family Halloween costumes like the Harris-Burtka family. And Bailey doesn’t mouth off as much as my actual IRL kids do. And she likes my family costume ideas.

Mindy and I would get along well because we have very similar lives.

red wine shot

We have the same pet peeves.

timely tv

And we have oddly similar psych-up techniques.

beyonce pad thai

If I were not already married to one of my soul mates, I would invent a machine so I could go into the TV and be with her. And I know you’re thinking, “But Jenny, Mindy Lahiri is into guys,” but I’ve got an imaginary machine that fixes that, too, so shut up and stop trying to tell me what to think about in the shower. You don’t know my life!

#3, Malcolm Tucker

As some of my dear friends might tell you, I’m a bit of a profanity artist myself. I am prone to grand, dramatic outbursts of obscenity when I’m angry. For example, two nights ago, while venting my rage about someone else to Bronwyn Green, and the least offensive thing I said about this person was, “Take your ancient vagina out to the ice flow with all the other mummified skanks, [awful person’s name].” The least offensive.

I have a crush on Malcolm Tucker because I find the idea of being able to let all of my bile just spew forth, like a toddler having a tantrum, to be very freeing. I have elaborate daydreams of getting into a shouting match with him, and saying the most horrible, disgusting things ever, and knowing that whatever I’m going to say is going to sound less assholeish than the stuff he’s going to say.

I’m also kind of a masochist, so I like hearing the shitty things people have to say about me.

I also feel a very strong kinship with Malcolm over one particular line:


Every time the Sunshine Sisterhood rears its adorably pink-cheeked face, I think of this scene. And I think to myself, “What would Malcolm Tuck do?” And then I don’t do that, because I want people to still like me. But I do imagine what it would be like to do what he would do, and the satisfaction is near-sexual in its intensity. I guess you could say that I don’t so much have a crush on Malcolm Tucker, as much as I have a crush on the idea of letting the awful, Malcolm Tucker-flavored bit of me just run (awkwardly) screaming through the streets.

So, those are three of my many fictional crushes. Who are the other Wednesday bloggers crushing on?

Bronwyn Green • Jessica Jarman • Kellie St. James • Kayleigh Jones

 Gwendolyn Cease • Kris Norris