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Month: December 2015

Best of 2015: Trout Nation Year In Review

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2015 is about to take its last, dying breaths. Its struggle to cling to life in the grim face of ever-advancing time will give glorious and sudden birth to 2016, a year which we will all promise ourselves will be way better than the last one and how shitty it was. But you know, there were good parts, too. In fact, I think the good parts outweighed the bad. On this blog, at least. So I want to revisit those highlights (and a few lowlights) as the year crawls to a close.

January:  We banded together to assemble a domestic violence resource list in the face of an onslaught of 50 Shades merchandise/anticipation posts, and I shared my anti-bucket list.

February: We celebrated the life and the legacy of beloved romance author Bertrice Small, endured the Fifty Shades of Grey movie and its author’s disgusting and abusive temper tantrum toward a non-fan, and I had a weird dream about Craig Ferguson.

March: I ate Scottish candy for the first time, shared the stories of the five most amazing people I met while working horrible jobs, I fucked up, earned two of the most painfully stupid arch nemeses anyone could hope to have, and released a novella with a freaking gorgeous guy on the cover.

April: I became Jenny Gallifrey Joel Trout legally (like in a court of law where a judge laughed at me), I met Amber Benson, and my amazon echo developed an amazing flaw.

May: Sad times visited Trout Nation, I shared the stories of my worst retail customers, and I bitched about how much I hate my new phone for 13 minutes.

June: The cancellation of NBC’s Hannibal ruined my life, and E.L. James came one step closer to that inevitable Stephenie Meyer restraining order.

July: I survived to the age of thirty-five, and Double Steve Bonus Monday roared to inexplicable life.

August: The Girlfriend was profiled on, Ian and Penny got their first books in an experimental new series project, and I saw Billy Joel in concert, thus changing my life forever.

September: Nothing exciting happened, as I was busy finishing The Baby, but I did share my favorite animated movies.

October: A plagiarism scandal rocked the romance world, and a dipshit reporter had to weigh in with some bullshit. I shared my family’s haunted house, I went to Disney World, for better or for worse, and editors shared their author horror stories.

I’d also like to share with you my favorite moment of the entire year, which I haven’t shown you until now. (video)

November: I shared my experience in the middle of a weeks-long depressive episode, and released the latest Neil and Sophie book, The Baby.

December: I shared a very personal story, and got plagiarized.

Not the greatest way to end the year, but even in the bad times, you guys were always there to offer awesome

WordPress informed, via weird info graphic, that this blog got four times more visits this year than Seattle’s Space Needle, which blows my mind. But also, it’s kind of a strange comparison. Like, why pick that particular measurement? This is going to baffle me all day.

Anyway, thank you, everybody, for being those visitors and visiting this silly place, which is nowhere near as tall as the Space Needle. You guys make my life so special, and I’m better for having you all in it. I wish you a very happy New Year, where ever you are, and I look forward to what will undoubtedly be an amazing 2016.

Best of 2015: Things I Laughed Hardest At On Tumblr

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These are the funniest, stupidest things I’ve laughed about on the Tumblr this year (To my Deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired readers, I am so, so sorry. I tried to make a version of this post with audio/visual captions, but the format went all wonky and you could only see half the text and all the videos reposted multiple times and I couldn’t fix it. I feel like a jerk for leaving you out on this one. If anyone out there knows how to fix messed up HTML/CSS/Whatever the hell this uses and would like to lend a hand, shoot me an email or leave a message in the comments).

Best of 2015: Books I Read

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It’s that time of year! As in, the end of the year. As in, it’s almost time for everyone to knowingly shake their heads as they write out a check and say, “Can you believe it’s 2016 already.”

Well, I can. Because time is marching forward and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

We can, however, amuse ourselves with stuff, like books. So here are the top five books I’ve read in 2015, in no particular order. These aren’t books that necessarily came out in 2015, they’re just books I read in 2015.

A Gentleman In The Streets, Alisha Rai This interracial romance turned a ton of romance tropes on their head. There’s a kinky billionaire–the heroine. There’s a stepbrother hero–who didn’t meet the heroine until they were both adults. There’s realistic family drama that anchors the more fantastic elements–including a subplot with a reality television show, as well as the heroine’s infamous orgies–and just really rounds out the whole story. This book was hot, the characters’ motivations were always understandable (though not entirely likable), and the pages just flew by.

Asking For It, Lilah Pace This book is definitely not for everyone, so if you decide to check it out, DO NOT IGNORE THE TRIGGER WARNINGS IN THE FORWARD. The book is about a woman struggling to reconcile her rape fantasies with her real life, and navigating the conflict between her sexual and emotional needs. At its heart, the book is a love story between two severely traumatized people, and the hero, Jonah Marks, is one of the hottest fictional guys I’ve read in a while.

The Royal We, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan The authors own the popular celebrity gossip and fashion blog Go Fug Yourself, on which certain British royals are a frequent subject. So it makes sense that Morgan and Cocks would write a New Adult novel that’s a fictionalized–but highly recognizable–tale of a common girl’s romance with a handsome prince. Yes, the book is basically AU RPF (alternate universe/real person fic) about Prince William and Kate Middleton, but that was part of its weird charm. And it is a weird book, but ultimately addictively readable.

Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher I can’t believe it took me this long to read her book, but in 2015, I’ve read it twice. Carrie Fisher is like the eccentric aunt who tells you more than you probably want to hear, and when you describe her to other people, they don’t believe she exists. Though I’ve recommended it to people struggling with mental illness (Fisher writes candidly about her bipolar disorder and electroconvulsive therapy), it doesn’t read as advocacy. It’s just that eccentric aunt telling you stories about her weird, funny, sometimes very sad life.

Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography, Fred Schruers Come on. You had to know at least something about Mr. Joel will be included in this list. If you’re not a Billy Joel fan, this book is probably not going to interest you, but if you are, this biography is fantastic. As you read along from before Mr. Joel’s birth–Schruers devotes a lot of pages to explaining how Mr. Joel’s life was ultimately shaped by his grandparents’ flight from the Holocaust–to his life as it was earlier this century, you feel like you’ve learned more about the man, yet understand him a lot less than you did before you went in.

What are the best books you read in 2015? This entire post is a shameless call for recommendations, as I’m doing the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge in 2016, as an effort to boost me out of the reading funk I’ve been in for a long time.

My Favorite Christmas Moments From THE BOSS Series

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Last year, I wrote a Sophie and Neil Christmas story for That’s What I’m Talking About’s “Mistletoe Madness” holiday event. I wanted to write some brand new Neil and Sophie for this year, but things got in the way. So instead of sharing new Neil and Sophie, I’m sharing old Neil and Sophie. I’ve picked a couple of my favorite Christmas scenes from their books.

Plagiarism doesn’t deserve forgiveness.

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“I was trying to find one specific chapter recap by Googling the one line that I could remember from it (“Who is Kate, E.L.? How did she hurt you?”) and I came across another blog called Rhyming with Oranges. She’s got some recaps up, too. They read like Laura Harner, if you know what I mean.

It looks like the blog is run by someone called Naomi Knight. I wasn’t sure if you were familiar with her or if you had given her permission to reblog or anything like that, but I felt it kind of unlikely since she does have some of her own thoughts (or yours broadly reworded). I apologize if this is a false alarm, I just wanted to let you know just in case.”

That was the email I received from a concerned reader named Nora yesterday. And I’ve gotten emails like that before. I go and check them out, but it usually only takes a quick scan to tell that it’s just a case of us recapping the same material, and coming to some similar conclusions.

Not the case here.

Naomi Knight lifted whole chunks of my blog to use for hers. She reworded some sections, so what read:

Christian thinks about how he doesn’t want anyone but Ana, and how maybe he might have given her the impression that he liked her with the whole inviting her out for coffee thing. Maybe going to her work with a flimsy excuse to be there might have done that too, genius. He’s going to try to think of a way to apologize to her.

on my blog became:

Christian thinks about how he doesn’t want anyone but Ana, and how maybe he might have given her the impression that he liked her with the whole inviting her out for coffee thing. Maybe going to her work with a flimsy excuse to be there might have done that too, genius. He decides he’ll send Ana an apology present and then he can move on.

on hers.

And it wasn’t just one instance. This is just an example. If I went through and found all the places she’d plagiarized me and then added a few words to throw the dogs off the scent, we’d be here all day–she even used lines where I called Grey “Chedward”, for God’s sake–and she’s already admitted to the plagiarism, so there’s nothing to prove. She didn’t just do it to me, either, or just to my Grey recaps. Readers found a Love, Actually post she’d made by smooshing together parts of one of mine with parts of Lindy West’s piece from Jezebel. As readers poured over her blog, they discovered that Naomi Knight is a serial plagiarizer.

I recently wrote about Laura Harner’s plagiarism of Becky McGraw and Opal Carew. I know that the plagiarism of her work had a tremendous emotional impact on McGraw, because I spoke with her about it. I had no idea, though, how deeply it cuts to see someone else claiming your words for their own. As I read Naomi Knight’s blog, I laughed in disbelief. Mr. Jen asked me what was so funny. I said, “I’ve been plagiarized.” My hands shook. My whole body shook. I was sick to my stomach. Then I started sobbing.

I did my deep breaths. I took two Xanax. But I was in the middle of a full-blown panic attack. All from just seeing my words attributed to someone else. I knew plagiarism was a serious crime; I didn’t realize it could have an affect on a person’s physical well-being.

Naomi Knight had a Twitter, so I took to that, my favorite social media platform, to call her out:

I was angry. But it wasn’t just anger. There was a lot of despair, too:

Coming on the heels of this blog post about my identity, my OCD fired up its engines. See? You can’t have anything of your own. Let’s just file that away in our Imposter Syndrome folder, shall we? Because this is a sign, Jenny. This is a sign that you’re not supposed to be a writer. This is probably a sign that you should kill yourself. Oh, and by the way, you don’t deserve anything you’ve ever created. That’s why it’s being taken from you.

I couldn’t stay in the depths of what was quickly becoming a death spiral of intellectual violation. And really, I didn’t need to. Within twenty minutes of outing Naomi Knight as a plagiarist, she deleted her twitter account. Within an hour, her blog went to invite only, then completely vanished. People sent me screen caps of her plagiarism, and notes of support. I went to see the new Star Wars and tried to put it all out of my mind.

When we got in the car and headed for home, someone alerted me to Naomi’s new twitter account, made for her art, which she claimed to have been neglecting, and that was the reason for the sudden account change. And after that twitter and site were pulled down (again, within minutes of being outed) I received an email from Naomi Knight. She tried to “apologize”. Maybe I have a cold heart, but I viewed her explanation of the situation as a cheap ploy to prey on my tender heart. I won’t go into detail because she divulged personal information, but all I could think was, “yeah, well, me too, but I never ripped off a whole bunch of people because of it.”

Asking for that apology just made me more angry. I hadn’t gotten a full twenty-four hours to process my feelings, and now she wanted me to put hers ahead of mine? I felt robbed all over again. The “apology” was just another punch in the face. I did what I wasn’t supposed to do, and used alcohol to cope with my feelings.

This morning, I have a much clearer head, except for the hangover. I decided that I’m not going to lock myself into a “Code of Silence” situation all over again. What Naomi Knight did was wrong, and no matter what’s happening in her personal life, I don’t have to forgive her or go easy on her. I don’t have to be the bigger person. I can think all the rude, malicious, and horrible thoughts I want to about her. I don’t owe her anything.

I have a really bad habit in my personal life of letting people do something that makes me feel ooky, then feeling as though I have to accept their apology because if I don’t, I’m not nice. I think it probably has something to do with being raised Catholic, and I don’t say that to be funny. It’s an entire religion built around forgiveness that’s given without hesitation, just because someone asks. There’s a whole sacrament about it. Maybe I’m still walking around thinking I should be Christ-like and forgive everyone for everything from minor annoyances to major transgressions. So I’m actually thankful for this incident; it made me examine my inability to stick up for myself when I’m so quick to stick up for others. It made me realize that I’m fully entitled to be pissed off about something, even if someone asks for forgiveness, and that I never have to tell someone “no problem” if I feel it’s really a problem. That forgiveness is something you give because you feel it, not because someone else asks for it.

But most importantly, it showed me how much love and support I really get from you guys. Within seconds of my first tweet, I had responses from people asking how they could help, what they could do for me. They went and left comments on the blog Naomi Knight deleted, and took screen shots to send to me. Hours later, it was a reader who found Knight’s “art blog” and secondary twitter (thanks, Pixelfish!). The theft made me feel alone; the outpouring of support made me feel less so.

I’m doing a lot better today. I’m going to go have lunch with my pseudo-brother, finish up some Christmas shopping, and super over-decorate my planner. I’m going to have an overall mentally healthy day. And I’m not going to forgive Naomi Knight. I don’t care what her personal circumstances are. I get to be angry, and I don’t owe her anything. She’s already taken plenty.

State of The Trout: Near End Wrap Up

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Hey everybody! I can’t believe we’re here, standing at the very precipice of 2015. It’s gone by so fast! I thought a quick update to tell you what’s going on–and what will be going on in 2016–would be just the ticket today.

Here’s what you can expect for the rest of the year:

Recaps: Recaps are on hiatus until the New Year, because of the holidays and year-end stuff I’d like to do.

#LegionXIII is also on hiatus. We’ll resume on January 6th.

Biter, my Patreon-driven first draft, will see a new chapter next week.

Best of 2015: I’m going to do some “best of 2015” lists to round out the year. Look for those next week.

And of course I’ll be reporting on my 2015 resolutions and goals, and making some new ones for 2016.

Here’s what you can expect in 2016:

More Grey and Apolonia recaps: Apolonia is almost finished, but when it is, I won’t be picking up another recap project until Grey is done.

The end of The Afflicted: My free historical horror serial, The Afflicted, will wrap up in mid-2016. Haven’t started it yet? Read it for free, here.

Buffy, Season 3 recaps: Season three starts in January!

I’m really hoping to devote more time and energy to the blog next year. I feel like I’ve dropped the ball a bit. But every year is a new story, with new challenges. I’m excited to see what happens next!

Don’t Do This, Ever: “Not you. The other one.”

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CW: Suicide

“And it’s hard to believe after all these years
That it still gives you pain and it still brings tears
And you feel like a fool, because in spite of your rules
You’ve got a memory

And you can’t talk about it
Because you’re following a code of silence
You’re never gonna lose the anger
You just deal with it a different way
And you can’t talk about it
And isn’t that a kind of madness
To be living by a code of silence
When you’ve really got a lot to say”– Billy Joel, “Code of Silence”

There is one particular blog post I’ve written more than once, and erased more than once. When I write it, I’m typing it up in anger and pain, and I’m usually at a point that’s so low, I can convince myself that by coming forward and saying something, I would be wrong. That I am a bad person for still being angry and hurt. So I always delete it.

It’s a post about my name.

No Rome Post Today

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Hey everybody! Fridays is usually when I post my #XIIILegion post, but there was a death in the family yesterday, so this week is off the menu. This teaches me for leaving Friday posts until Thursday morning. Probably no #DSBM post, either, though those are pretty much just for my own amusement, I think.

Anyway, have a good one, y’all, and I’ll be back whenever!

The Annual Trout Nation Love, Actually Watch Along

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Do you hear those sleigh bells ringing? Just kidding, it’s your doorbell, and Rick Grimes is here to inappropriately express his love to your wife.

Andrew Lincoln in Love, Actually, holding up a sign for Kiera Knightly, but the sign has been changed from "to me you are perfect" to "have you seen Carl?".
Yes, Rick, we have seen Carl.


Carl from Love, Actually
He’s part of the worst plot line of the entire movie, yo.

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when we watch the movie you always put on in front of your kids or parents because you remember it being pretty safe, but you forgot all the scenes where naked Bilbo Baggins simulates sex with an equally nude blond girl.

It is time for us all to watch Love, Actually.

This year, just like last year, there will be two chances to join in the fun. I did three slots one year to cover as many time zones as possible, but I was up for like twenty-four hours straight. If anyone from another time zone wants to set up their own watch along, put it in the comments!

So, grab some popcorn and tweet to #BillyMack as we revel in our annual holiday tradition of watching the movie I once described as “a warm, snuggly blanket for my internalized misogyny.”

Friday, December 18, 4 p.m. EST (UTC -5)

Friday, December 18, 8 p.m. EST (UTC -5)