Monthly Archives: April 2015

Don’t Forget Your Second Wind

Today, I am happy to report, I am no longer legally Jennifer Lynne Armintrout. I am Jenny Gallifrey Joel Trout.

If you’re new here, you might be unaware that my real name was Jennifer Lynne Armintrout. You may also be unaware that I used to be a bestselling author under that name. And then everything went to shit.

Like I said, I’ve gotten a lot better. Like, no longer suicidal better. However, a few years of returning to fast food work where I prayed my coworkers wouldn’t find out that I was a failed writer and trying to keep my kids from realizing how poor we were while getting near daily emails congratulating me on big contracts and movie deals that were not mine really soured me on the experience of being Jennifer Armintrout. And let’s just throw on there how much bullying I got as a kid for having that name. Even after things got so much better (and in case I don’t thank you guys enough for that, thank you) and I changed my professional name to Jenny Trout, it still kind of sucked having my past failure and years long mental breakdown hanging over my head every time I signed a check.

So, I changed it. And I threw in nods to some of the things that saved me. Like, The Doctor. As a fully obsessed Doctor Who fan,  I strive to live my life every day like a person The Doctor would be proud of. Hence, I chose Gallifrey as the first of my two new middle names. Gallifrey is the planet the Time Lords hail from, so I thought, “Why not?”

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” – The Doctor

And Joel. You guys know where “Joel” comes from. While I’m convinced that at least 50% of you think I’m just joking about my religious worship of Billy Joel, I’m totally not. His music has saved me and shaped so much of the way I live my life now. He’s helped me through so many bad days. He’s changed the way I view my own life and mortality. Lessons I’ve learned from his music and his outlook on life have made me a better person, a more functioning person, and above all, a person who is content with myself and my life. I will probably never get a chance to thank him for that, and there’s no real way I could put the depth of my gratitude into words, at least, into not creepy words that wouldn’t result in a PPO. And maybe it’s creepy to give myself that middle name–no, wait, it’s definitely creepy. But total stranger or not, Mr. Joel is a very big part of my life, and since I’m trying to wash away some bad memories of the past by letting go of the person I used to be, I thought it was apt.

“But I survived all those long lonely days
When it seemed I did not have a friend
Cause all I needed was a little faith
So I could catch my breath and face the world again” – Billy Joel, “You’re Only Human (Second Wind)

So, here I am. Jenny Gallifrey Joel Trout. Living my life, getting my fresh start (well, adding to my already ongoing fresh start) and not being victimized by circumstances beyond my control anymore.

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Authors After Dark 2015

Hey everybody! Remember when I said I would be sharing more information about Authors After Dark in Atlanta? Well, here it is, straight from the convention director’s mouth:

So its SPRING! and AAD is a few months away! Readers, NOW IS THE TIME to get your registration in! Parties, giveaways, goodies, books, events… AAD has it all!

ALL ATTENDEE REGISTRATIONS ARE 25$ OFF! From 10am EST to MIDNIGHT PST!

AND dont forget! We have the two AWESOME parties this year… the Tiara Soiree and the Bump in the Night Ball!

So, TODAY ONLY, you can register for Authors After Dark for $250. For some of you out there who are unfamiliar with book conferences, this is one of the cheapest registrations you’ll find for a conference of this size. And this year? The Master of Ceremonies is SHERRILYN KENYON.

Authors After Dark is my favorite conference of the year. I’ve connected with so many cool readers and authors over the years, and I would love to see more of you. For more information or to register at the discounted price TODAY ONLY, visit authorsafterdark.org.

Bourjenny

I’ve previously shared two stories about myself wherein my behavior was described as being diva-like by others, but which become entirely different stories once I provide further detail.

The stories that follow? Yeah, more detail doesn’t make them better. These are just three stories about me being a straight up diva.

The Sunglasses.

What Cristin tells people: It was so funny! Jenny and I were driving to Markle’s house for Jill’s surprise party, and she forgot her sunglasses and the sunlight was flashing through the trees. I didn’t want her to have a seizure, so I was like, “There are some glasses in my center console,” but she had her hand over her eyes, so I handed them to her and she said, “These feel cheap.” They were party favors from a friend’s wedding, so they actually were really cheap.

What really happened: When it’s sunny out, I’ll sometimes have seizures triggered by the light flickering down through the leaves. This is why I no longer have a driver’s license. I usually carry a pair of sunglasses in my purse, but for whatever reason, I didn’t have them on me when we were driving to Jill’s party. I was going to just hold my hand over my eyes and bear it, until Cristin was like,  “There are some glasses in my center console.” I started groping for the glasses, so she helps me out by handing them to me. They were like, that textured, Oriental Trading Company kind of plastic sunglasses, and without even looking at them I said, “These feel cheap.” And it sounded like Mallory Archer saying it. It was just “These. feel. cheap.”

Cristin told me they were a wedding favor, so they really were cheap, and now we laugh about it all the time. HA HA HA HA I’M AN A-HOLE!

The Spa.

What happened: I received an email last week from a local spa that my husband I love. It’s in an old brick school house, has private dressing rooms with amazing showers–eleven shower heads–and saunas in the private dressing rooms. We love that place. We love hot stone massages. We are total middle-class trash.

Anyway, in this email, the spa says their building has sold, and as of May 6th, they’ll be combining with a new spa that’s in like, an office building or a strip mall or something that is definitely not the place with the amazing amenities. I was heartbroken, and I got on twitter and typed, “AHHHH NOOOO! MY FAVORITE SPA IS CLOSING!”

Thank GOD I had the foresight not to send it. I have a timeline full of people talking about college financing inequality and food deserts and raising the minimum wage, and I’m going to get on there like, “THE TOTALLY NEEDLESS LUXURY SERVICE I LIKE WILL NO LONGER BE AVAILABLE TO ME! ALL IS ASHES!” Jesus Christ.

For some reason, I had a second thought like, “Well, maybe if I explain that I was planning to go there for Botox…” Yeah, no, that doesn’t make it better, a-hole.

The Taxi.

What Jasmine and Gloria tell people: We were waiting in line for a taxi at the Planet Hollywood hotel, here comes Jenny, right to the head of the VIP line, and steals our Taxi.

What really happened: That’s exactly what happened, but worse. I was going out with some friends, while Jasmine and Gloria were going to head to Fremont street to check things out down there. Well, because my friend Stella is awesome, she managed to wrangle me a Diamond level VIP card with Caesar’s Palace owned and cooperative properties. Which meant bypassing the line at a lot of places. No joke, on a Saturday night, outside of Caesar’s Palace, there were at least three hundred people waiting in the taxi line, and we just walked right past them. It was awesome. But back to Planet Hollywood. Jasmine and Gloria were waiting for a cab, they were finally next in this huge long line, and my friends and I roll up and steal not just that cab, but the next one, too. But I didn’t realize that was what happened at the time (I just sort of spaced out and forgot that one cab line was for VIPs and one was for not-VIPs), so I saw Gloria and Jasmine waiting there and go, “Hi guys!” and wave at them.

I was just like, “Let me steal your cab, then wave at you, because I am an a-hole.”

State of The Trout: Lone Star State edition

Hey everybody! Time for yet another random round up of stuff that’s happening in my world!

Chapter 15 of The Afflicted is now available on Wattpad! The Afflicted is a New Adult historical horror serial that’s absolutely free to read on the Wattpad platform. Chapter fifteen is up now, and you can read it here.

Okay, but before you rush off to read it, stick with me, especially if you live in Texas.

I’ll be making two big stops in Texas in May!

The Romantic Times Book Lover’s Convention, May 13-17, Hyatt Regency, Dallas
I know not everyone can afford this conference, but there is a giant book fair on Saturday the 16th from 12pm-2pm with literally hundreds of authors, and it’s open to the public. I’ll post more detailed information next week, but if you want to come out and meet me (and the reclusive Mr. Jen!), pencil that in.

If you are going to be in attendance at the convention, come out and see me at Club RT at 2pm on both Thursday and Friday of the convention! I’ll be hanging there with some Trout Nation swag, and (fingers crossed) possibly a very cool surprise that will also benefit readers right here on the ole blogerino.

Austin Author Affair, May 22-24, Renaissance Hotel, Austin
This is another fantastic conference that will also have a public signing, from 12pm-5pm. It’s also going to be a fantastic weekend that won’t cost a lot and will have…brace yourself…karaoke. Which I will totally do, because I don’t have any shame.

I will probably sing a Billy Joel song. And you’ll have to live with that memory.

If you’re nearby either of these locales, be sure to come by and say hello! At a conference last week, someone told me that in person, I am exactly like my blog. I don’t know if I’m telling you that to reassure you, or caution you.

Speaking of last weekend: At the Kent District Library writer’s conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan last weekend, I met a really, really amazing guy. His name is Mike Ball, he’s an award-winning humorist with some legit credentials. Like many funny people, Mike has a big heart. He works with Lost Voices, an organization that reaches out to at-risk and incarcerated youth, teaching them to funnel their emotions and experiences into original pieces of music and poetry. The stories of the children he has met were so moving, I asked him if he would consider coming onto the blog sometime and sharing more about the organization, but while we figure out those details, I highly encourage you to check out the Lost Voices website and see what they’re doing to improve and protect the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable children.

I’ll also being doing another convention this summer, Authors After Dark in Atlanta, GA. I’ll have lots more information on this one right here on Wednesday, so stay tuned.

That’s all this for time! Resume normal operations.

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E16 “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”

BIG DAMN JENNY MET A BUFFY CAST MEMBER ANNOUNCEMENT OF GREAT AND TERRIBLE IMPORTANCE!

This is so exciting, guys. SO exciting. For the first time ever, I met a Buffy The Vampire Slayer cast member. I ALMOST met K Todd Freeman (Mr. Trick) once, but  fate was not on my side that night and I ended up standing outside the stage door of Wicked in Chicago clutching my season three DVDs for nothing. So when I found out that Amber Benson was going to be at The Novel Experience Event in Las Vegas, I was so excited. And also afraid that I would fangirl out and make her run away.

blurry amber benson selfie woooo!

She did not.

Guys, if you get a chance to meet Amber Benson, meet Amber Benson. She is a wonderful person who is genuinely grateful for fans of the show (the selfie above? Was her idea. After I told her I do a Buffy recap on my blog, she said, “We should take a selfie together. Do you want to?”). I was worried she might think I was being weird because she wast there to promote her books and I was bringing up the show. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. She loves the show as much as the fans do (she called it “like crack,” which I think is an apt description except I had a roommate who smoked crack and watching Buffy smells much better),  and best of all, loves writing fiction.

I told her about my daughter, Wednesday, and how much she loves the show, but how, at six-years-old, she’s concerned that “Tara” might actually be dead in real life. Amber agreed to take the following picture to prove to Wednesday that “Tara” is not, in fact, dead in real life:

amber says hi to wednesday

 

And autographed a book for her, writing, “To Wednesday: I promise that I am not dead on Buffy! Just sleeping! [heart] Amber.”

Amber’s latest book, The Witches of Echo Park, is available now (it’s available at all retailers, but here’s the Amazon link), and I highly encourage you to check it out. Her writing is just as fabulous as her acting and her general in-person awesomeness.

Okay, so, onto the recap for real, after the “read more” link!

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Stop forcing me to see you not hating yourself!

Thursday night, I was clicking around BuzzFeed and found this article about how stretch marks aren’t that bad and there’s a trend now of women who are taking pictures showing their stretch marks and saying, hey, this isn’t gross or imperfect, almost everybody has these. One would think that a post like this is fairly harmless. One has never been on the internet.

Stretch marks aren’t lovely or ugly. They’re a sign that your insides outgrew your outsides a little too quickly and nothing more. They’re not something to flaunt or cover up. They just exist. I don’t view my stretch marks as scars or badges of honor. This whole “pro body image” thing that has been all over media lately is getting old.

That was one of the first comments I read on the story. This comment is the perfect informational tool, if you ever need to teach someone about the standard format for incendiary internet comments. First, it starts off with a perfectly rational statement of opinion, with some fact:

Stretch marks aren’t lovely or ugly. They’re a sign that your insides outgrew your outsides a little too quickly and nothing more.

Then we get into some dodgy territory:

They’re not something to flaunt or cover up.

The comment has now moved from statement of opinion to judgment of a hypothetical person’s actions, which will never affect the commenter’s life in any way. The commenter isn’t just saying, “I don’t believe my stretch marks are something I would want to flaunt or cover up,” they’re saying, “All stretch marks are not something to flaunt or cover up.”

Then we move back to personal opinion:

They just exist. I don’t view my stretch marks as scars or badges of honor.

Before we land on this whopper:

This whole “pro body image” thing that has been all over media lately is getting old.

Excuse me?

A large portion of the comments section on this article take exception not to the existence of stretch marks (although there were comments to that effect, including a mom who said she covers her stretch marks “out of respect for myself and my kids.”), but to the very idea that women would celebrate something they see as a flaw in order to normalize it and feel better about themselves.

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed these types of objections to people taking a body positivity stand. We see these positions every summer when plus-sized bloggers talk about their experiences on the beach. There was recently a mother who had stretch marks and a saggy tummy who wore a bikini and wrote a think piece about it, and similar comments were made. Somehow, for some reason, a stranger liking their own body is such a powerful, threatening prospect that people can’t stand to let it go by without comment. Why is that? A different commenter gives us insight:

Because when you are satisfied with anything in life you stop trying to make it better [...] Body positivity and delusional ranting aside… making people feel better about things they want to change only temporarily makes them feel better. Get it now?

Feeling good about yourself in spite of flaws you’d like to change (but, in the case of stretch marks, you simply can’t), makes you feel satisfied. And if you feel satisfied, you don’t want to change. And you should never not want to change something about your body. You need to be in a constant state of dissatisfaction with yourself, and always striving for unobtainable perfection, because that’s the life this person has chosen to torture themselves with.

And of course, that commenter goes on the same thread to boast that she has no stretch marks, and tells a woman who doesn’t agree with her, “Enjoy your stretch marks, sweetie,” indicating that, for her at least, the preoccupation we have with policing each others’ bodies isn’t about striving for excellence or health or any sort of philosophical ideal, but ranking each other in terms of worth according to proximity to physical perfection. Our opinions, feelings, and self-worth are invalid if we’re not shaming ourselves into an oblivion of apologies for our imperfect bodies.

It didn’t surprise me that the majority of the negative comments about the stretch mark selfies were coming from people who appeared to be young women who were slender, on the conventionally attractive end of the facial prettiness scale, and made up with cosmetics and styled hair. Yes, I am making a judgement based on appearances here, but stay with me. They have achieved, either through hard work, genetic luck, or camera angles, but most likely a combination of all three, to present themselves to the internet as a woman as close to the traditional western standards of beauty as they can possibly be. They have put on make up, dyed their hair, posed with their timidly bent index finger resting on their bottom lip like they’re auditioning to be the star of a creepy 1970′s Love’s Baby Soft ad. They’ve done all of this, and someone else, someone who hasn’t done all of these things, has the audacity to take a photo not just of themselves, but of a flaw that most women cover up, and they’re receiving attention for it. Attention that should rightfully be lavished upon the women crying foul in the comments section. And why do they feel entitled to the prioritization of their beauty over another woman’s? Because we have all been taught that this is not just the social order, but the moral order.

When it comes to our bodies, we are playing Monopoly with friends in a neutral space. The house rules are completely different. Some people want to play with Free Parking. Some people want to ban mortgaging. Some don’t like the three-doubles-and-you-go-jail rule because they don’t play it that way at home. We have some women saying, “I love my body,” some saying, “I don’t love my body,” others saying, “I don’t love your body, but my body is fine,” and others saying, “I love my body, but you don’t get to love yours.” But most often, the dissenters are saying, “I don’t love my body, and you don’t get to love yours, either.”

I do NOT have to love everything about my body and I shouldn’t HAVE to love it all just to fit someone else’s idea of what self-esteem is. I don’t love everything about my body and that’s perfectly fucking fine, because I accept it all and I’m just living my life happily DESPITE what I don’t like, which I think is healthier anyhow

Nobody cares if you love your body. Personally, I would like it if everyone loved their bodies, but I know that’s only true of very few people. I’m comfortable with my body, but there are things I would like to change about it–stretch marks, freckles, ruddiness, acne, the way the nail on my little toe is–and that’s okay. I’m not harming anyone else if I don’t love my little toe. But if I turn my dissatisfaction with that toe into an edict that says you’re not allowed to love your toe, either, does it make my toe more beautiful? What if I tell ten people they have to be unhappy about their toes? At what point does my toe become less offensive to me? Never. It never does. I have to come to terms with that toe, liking it or not liking it, totally independent of other people and their feelings about their toes.

No one in the body positivity movement is saying that you absolutely must share their views when it comes to your body. We’re just asking that you don’t demand we share your view of our bodies. And that’s all it really comes down to.

Merlin Club S05E12-13, “The Diamond of The Day” or “That one camping trip where all your friends died.”

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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.

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DRAWN THAT WAY, by Bronwyn Green

Hey there, Trout Nation! Here’s another title from the anthology that got flattened under an avalanche of writer politics bullshit not too long ago! This one comes from #MerlinClub member and the Ann Perkins to my Leslie Knope, Bronwyn Green.

Drawn that way

Tristan Weaver, accountant for a successful video game company, is in way over her head. Honestly answering a company-wide survey and criticizing the sexist stereotypes used in the company’s games was enough to catch her boss’ attention.  But speculating on his sex life within his earshot has unexpected consequences when her hot, but nerdy, boss invites her to model for him.

Owner, artist and lead developer of Brecken Games, Rory Brecken, has a strict no fraternizing with employees rule. However, when he overhears Tristan’s conversation with her friend about his rumored kinks and begins to suspect her curiosity about the submissive side of sex, he’s more than a little tempted. When her interest is undeniably confirmed, he suggests a onetime only, colleagues-with-benefits hook-up.

Though neither want a relationship, once isn’t enough for either one of them. As their encounters become more intense, Rory makes a huge mistake that may cost him the woman he’s coming to love.

Amazon • Barnes & Noble • All Romance Ebooks • iBooks

Drawn That Way is the second book in the Bound series, which Bronwyn is writing with Jessica Jarman. It can be read as a stand alone, though I heartily recommend Jarman’s London Bound, as well.

Read on for an excerpt of Drawn That Way.

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Pet Peeves

There’s a thread in the Trout Nation Forums called “Things you can’t justify being annoyed by,” and when I read it, I felt like I had come home. I get annoyed by so many things that I cannot justify in any way, including but not limited to:

  • People thinking a food is spicy when I do not think it is spicy
  • When people ask for prayers on Facebook and don’t elaborate what people are supposed to be praying for
  • Those photoshopped book ads where someone puts their cover into a picture of a billboard or a bus stop ad to make it look like they actually purchased major advertising and their book is a really big deal

so it was gratifying to read that other people have the same weird feelings about weird things that they can’t explain. But I also have three pet peeves that I feel like I can justify, and I would like to bitch about them now.

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