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Month: December 2023

A Court of Jealousy and Haters: ACOTAR chapter 4 or “The Defendant Will Be Remanded Into NONSENSE.”

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It has come to my attention that I never reposted chapter four of the ACOTAR recaps here. While this is EXTREMELY on brand for me and my attention to detail, I simply cannot let you all miss the wonder and glory that is… ELK HORNS. Happy New Year, and may Sarah J. Maas never darken our door again in the decades to come.

2023: The Year of Hard Things

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From about December 1st on, I’ve been wondering what I could possibly write about in a year-end post. Without reflection on the past year, things feel unfinished. But I didn’t do anything. I couldn’t think of one accomplishment or achievement for the entire year.

And then I was like, ah. That is mental illness trying to trick me.

I actually did a lot of things in 2023. And they were hard things. And they were hard things that were stacked up and up, stretching into the metaphorical sky, beyond the limits of what I thought I was capable of (and above what I ever could have been capable of just three years ago).

Yes, I’m being dramatic, but let me break it down month-by-month.


  • I turned in the second 30k words of the second season of Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend for the Yonder app.
  • While also rehearsing to play Bea in Something Rotten!.
  • Just two months after a car accident that left me without a functioning right arm.
  • And I survived the one year deathiversary of my best friend.


  • I turned in the third 30k words of the second season of Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend for the Yonder app.
  • I played Bea in Something Rotten!
  • And weathered a snowstorm that ruined our opening night.
  • I went ice skating for the first time in almost twenty-five years. It was like riding a bicycle.
  • I took my youngest kid to her first hockey game.


  • I had a super painful surgery to repair my non-functioning arm.
  • 48 hours later, I refused all pain relief except ibuprofen and ice packs so that I could get back to work.
  • Yeah, I was back to work two days after my surgery that needed a year to heal, because I am stubborn.
  • I turned in season four of Taken By The Alpha King to Radish.


  • I decided to make the most of my recovery and start reacting to Bridgerton episodes on YouTube (and discovered my love of video as a format for creation)
  • I began gruelling physical therapy for my still-shitty arm.
  • I was hired to direct a production of my late best friend’s favorite musical, The Music Man.
  • I turned in the first 30k words of the final season of Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend on the Yonder app.
  • Our family decided that we would move to Kalamazoo.


  • The Music Man went into production, casting, and rehearsals.
  • I went on my first audition post-surgery, for Big Fish (and didn’t get cast).
  • I turned in the second 30k words of the final season of Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend on the Yonder app.
  • I turned in season five of Taken By The Alpha King on Radish.
  • Taken By The Alpha King seasons 1-3 released in paperback and e-book.
  • After fifty years of living in the family lakehouse, Baba decided it was time to move into senior housing.
  • More physical therapy.


  • I turned in the conclusion to Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend.
  • Rehearsals continued for The Music Man.
  • I rode a float in the Kalamazoo Doo-Dah! parade to publicize The Music Man.
  • I had the honor of taking one of my cast members to their first ever Pride celebration.
  • I roller skated (AMA) for the first time since my surgery.
  • While it was desperately painful to do so, I missed my annual writing retreat for the first time in eleven years.
  • We started an apartment search.
  • We found (and secured) the perfect townhouse and began packing for our August move.
  • I started recapping The Missus on YouTube.
  • Hey, guess who was still in physical therapy!


  • Baba moved and we said goodbye to the lake house, the central magnet for family celebrations, with a final, subdued July 4th.
  • While having a quiet, reflective moment in the peaceful lake, I scraped my foot on a rock. Fuck you, too, lake.
  • I swallowed my hatred of participation and rode the float in another parade.
  • The Music Man, despite being a beautiful production praised by audiences, absolutely fucking flopped. The theater broke even, but my heart was broken. Still, it was a great tribute to Jill, and she would have loved it.
  • We continued to pack for our August move.
  • And I was still in physical therapy, which was beginning to wear me down.


  • I started writing The Ogre’s Fairytale Bride and developing the world of Fablemere.
  • Our move was delayed until September.
  • That scrape I got in July? Caused cellulitis that I was too busy to get checked out in July. Fuck you, too, lake.
  • I was hired as an accessibility and inclusion coordinator for a production of Matilda, Jr..
  • Grey’s Anatomy came into my life at the best possible time, because things were about to get shitty for me.
  • Guess who was still in physical therapy!


  • Our move was delayed twice, before being pushed back to October.
  • I began to lose my hair due to stress.
  • After hearing about my Fablemere project, Radish contracted me for a dark romantasy serial set within the world before The Ogre’s Fairytale Bride was even finished.
  • I started a rewatch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on my YouTube channel, since the multiple Hollywood strikes temporarily paused my Bridgerton reacts.
  • Physical therapy ended and I began to grapple emotionally with the reality that my arm will never be the same as it was before the accident.
  • The Something Rotten! cast reunited to perform “A Musical” at the Theater Kalamazoo party in Bronson Park. I was one of the very few cast members who wasn’t in that number, so I had to learn it.
  • Then the event was rained out in the most impressive flash-flood way possible, cementing Something Rotten! as the most cursed show in existence.
  • The cellulitis finally went away, but the yeast infection caused by an endless parade of antibiotics lived on for two interminable weeks.


  • After living off paper plates for two months, and with all of our stuff packed up (some of it in a storage facility), Edward Rose & Sons canceled our move entirely after they changed their minds about allowing our previously approved emotional support animals. We received this news on move-in day as we pulled into the driveway with the truck.
  • We decided that moving was not in the cards for us, as we were all too exhausted from the stress to try again.
  • I was so destroyed by the entire moving debacle that I resigned from my position on Matilda, Jr..
  • I had to start wearing a wig or wide headbands to cover up my bald spots.
  • The Ogre’s Fairytale Bride began posting on Ream, Vella, and Patreon.
  • I started the impossible task of unpacking my entire house after all that was left to do was clean out and dispose of large items.


  • I auditioned for (and wasn’t cast in) The Lion in Winter.
  • I scored tickets to Patti LuPone at the Gilmore Piano Festival. Front row, so I’ll have to be on my best behavior.
  • I committed to a February writing retreat on a whim, based solely on the fact that I know like, one person who’s going to be there.
  • It’s on Hilton Head Island, so I began researching how to be bitten by a shark, a bucket list item of mine.
  • We were still unpacking.
  • My youngest child turned fifteen.
  • I suffered a moderate mental health setback after a real rectal prolapse of a person confronted me publicly with a written statement about how I don’t smile enough (read: mask my emotions to appear neurotypical enough).


  • I turned in The Princes of Pleasure and Torment, a Fablemere Faeries story, to Radish.
  • In a manic state, I wrote 60k words in ten days on various projects.
  • I should have used that manic state to unpack, because I still haven’t finished.
  • We managed to decorate for Christmas. We just decorated around the boxes.
  • I recovered from my episode and came back stronger than ever.
  • I was nominated for two BroadwayWorld Regional Awards, one for acting and one for directing, and The Music Man was nominated for Best Musical.
  • I went roller skating at the rink for the first time since my surgery, and only the second time since I got in my accident on the way home from the roller rink.
  • And yesterday, my eldest child turned twenty-one. He celebrated with donuts.

The TL;DR of it was that I had a supporting lead in a musical, directed a musical, weathered a major surgery and a canceled move, a major change in my family, faced numerous mental and physical setbacks, yet still wrote six full-length novels while producing online content.

I wrote earlier this year about “the grind,” and my perception of myself as lazy and worthless. Since then, I’ve adopted a new attitude: I can do and achieve big things. Hard things. I can spend months turning grief into collaborative art, and have the people who worked with me walk away having had a positive experience. I am a writer, even if I take a day off. And while I honestly could work harder at marketing and building my audience and rebranding and staying fresh…

I like where I am. I like what I do. I like writing what I want, when I want. I like making fun of bad books (or being pleasantly surprised by decent ones, like Modelland). I like making YouTube videos and being silly on TikTok and Bluesky. I’m happy with this. I’m happy with the me I was in 2023 and what I achieved. I don’t need to strive for greatness. To me, greatness very much looks like creating things I enjoy, for readers I enjoy, and half-watching Grey’s Anatomy while playing Fall Guys in my bed.

Will I get a massive traditional publishing deal with heavy marketing and become the next genre fiction darling by being comfortable with myself? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean I’m lazy. I’ve given myself permission to no longer want something that has burned me out countless times in the past, in an industry devoid of ethics, where the worst of the worst make big wins. Letting go of that dream that writers dream by default freed me to truly enjoy my work again. To see it as an escape, rather than something I want to escape from. I no longer fantasize about being a grocery store cashier.

And you know what? I don’t feel like a failure when I walk into a bookstore anymore. Bookstores are fun again, rather than some symbol of my inability to make it in traditional publishing. That’s probably why I’ve done so much reading this year, too.

That was the lesson I learned in 2023: I granted myself permission to not want. And in 2024, I’m giving myself permission to just be enough.

Best and Worst books of 2023

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I did more reading in 2023 than I’ve done in years. It astonishes me how much I’ve been reading. I hope this trend continues, because it was a bummer when I only had the brain capacity to force myself through the absolute garbage that I read for sporking purposes. I read more fantasy and romance than any other genre, but there was non-fiction and horror sprinkled in, as well. Here are the top five and the bottom five, presented with rationale and content warnings. If you’ve read these books and think of content warnings I missed, please add them in the comments.


1. The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin When I finished this book, I immediately recommended it to a friend as “The new Dune.” It’s that deep, rich, and complex in its worldbuilding. The writing thrusts you directly into the story and trusts you to learn the new settings and societies without spoon-feeding you. The story follows three women: a bereaved mother searching for her surviving child, an officer of a magical bureaucracy whose simple mission uncovers horrific secrets, and a young girl in training at a harsh and violent boarding school. It’s the first in a trilogy that I can’t wait to finish, with a third act twist that made me pull my car over while listening to the audiobook. The cast of characters also features diverse racial, sexual, and gender representation. If you haven’t read it yet, read it. CW: violence, multiple child deaths, child abuse, CSA (implied, not depicted), domestic abuse, forced breeding, corrective rape

2. Gideon The Ninth, Tamsyn Muir I put off reading this book for way too long, discouraged by comparisons in tone to Ready, Player One and its reputation as “a Tumblr book.” It’s so much more. While the book’s cover quote describes it as being about lesbian necromancers in space, that take is so simplified that future printings should absolutely scrub it. This is not, as I expected it to be, a book trying to hit every trope on the trendy book checklist. It’s its own thing, in the most David S. Pumpkins way possible. Gideon, a stubborn, chaotic warrior, is enlisted to protect Harrowhark, a callously violent necromancer, as she embarks on what can only be described as a scientific magic murder mystery tournament for political gain. If you like your fantasy novels to have a heavy dose of science fiction, inventive insults, and a creepier version of Catholicism, this is for sure a book you’ll enjoy. CW: gore, violence

3. Redacted due to the St. Martin’s Press boycott It breaks my heart that I can’t talk about this book, because I truly loved it. However, St. Martins Press has yet to provide sufficient apology for their employee’s racist statements on social media, and has not addressed the possibility that this employee, whose position includes granting ARC access to influencers, has discriminated against reviewers when distributing those ARCs. As such, I cannot in good conscience recommend or review any of their books at this time.

4. Vampires of El Norte, Isabel Cañas The plot is simple: boy and girl grow up together. Girl is attacked by a creature and dies. Boy lives a bleak, tortured existence, while a supernatural mystery unravels against the backdrop of a family’s fight to protect their land and way of life from violent colonization by the United States. I’m so afraid to give any delicious morsel of this book away, because I want you to read it, but I want you to go in with as blank a slate as possible, like I did, because it will put your brain in a chokehold. CW: gore, violence, war, colonization

5. The Woman In Me, Britney Spears If you watched the Jealous Patrons AV Club special report I did on this book, you already know my feelings. Despite the conversational tone of the prose, this is a devastatingly difficult read, and one that needs to be added to the canon of feminist literature. Do not pick this up expecting juicy celebrity gossip (although there is plenty to be found) and unrelatable anecdotes about the shallow inconveniences of superstardom. Spears walks us through her tumultuous childhood with an alcoholic father and a driven stage mom, the relentless sexualization of her teen years, a lifetime of manipulation by men, and her eventual imprisonment through medical malpractice and legal maneuvering. She points out in excruciating detail how little has changed for women since the days of lobotomies and institutionalization, even for the most famous and wealthy. CW: abortion, drug abuse, alcoholism, emotional abuse, exploitation, misogyny… this entire book is its own content warning.


1. The Haunted Forest Tour, James A. Moore and Jeff Strand This was my second-fastest DNF of 2023, coming in at a meager 17%. “But Jenny,” you may ask, “how can you say a book is bad if you only read 17%?” I went into this book hoping for a really fun monster horror. After a forest suddenly sprouts up in New Mexico—and by “suddenly,” I mean fast enough for trees to impale the citizens of the town it consumes—, it quickly becomes a tourist attraction owing to the inexplicable abominations living within it. The prologue hyped me up with its Stephen King-esque tone, but the story quickly became crowded with new character after new character piled onto the tour bus, complete with their individual backstories. Maybe the pace could have been forgiven, but not the wildly offensive fat hate that was apparently integral to the story. It was the character of Neal Whistler that made me DNF and add both authors to my NEVER AGAIN list. We first meet Neal on page forty-two, as he is tantalized by a half-snake woman and her great breasts outside the window of the tram. It’s important to the authors to point out that he is thirty-four and a virgin, owing to the “ugly truth” of his “fifty-four inch waistline.” In order to truly grasp the essence of the character, we must hear, within paragraphs of his first appearance, about how he was humiliated and rejected by a girl in high school, the time his fat ass blew out the seat of his pants at work, and how he planned to “become a better man” through dieting. Neal survives until page fifty-eight, when he stubbornly refuses to sit down in the face of an impending collision and his “obese” body and “immense weight” cause him to human cannonball through the bus, cracking seats and injuring other passengers until he is finally pronounced dead by someone checking the pulse in his “flabby” wrist on page sixty-four. Both of these gaping, infected anal fistulas masquerading as authors can get in an incinerator and turn it the fuck on. CW: Gore, misogyny, and the authors have a real fucking problem with fat people that they need to write about in their journals and not published fiction.

2. Choosing Theo, Victoria Aveline It’s possible I was set up for disappointment by the constant recommendation of this book as “Like Ice Planet Barbarians, but better!” I loved Ice Planet Barbarians (read my original review here), so I was expecting to be blown away. What I got was a reverse-The Handmaid’s Tale about a human woman stranded on a disappointingly Earth-like planet (but with futuristic gizmos and a supposedly feminist society, so you know it’s space) where men are forced into a breeding program. This book fails on every level that Ice Planet Barbarians succeeds. It is not “Like Ice Planet Barbarians, but better!” It’s “Like Ice Planet Barbarians, but without consent!” The narrative tries hard to portray a society where women have their pick of sexy men who are forced to have sex with them and shower them in luxury as somehow empowering, but my queer self remains unconvinced. There is no room for queer or transgender people in the world Aveline created, and the utter lack of consent and agency given to the men of the planet isn’t more acceptable just because it’s not happening to women. CW: rampant heteronormativity, sexualization of rape culture

3. Pucking Around, Emily Rath Emily Rath has gotten a lot of undeserved heat for what went down between BookTok and the Seattle Kraken, but that didn’t get a chance to influence my view of the book, as I read it before the controversy erupted. This book holds the distinction of not only being my fastest DNF of 2023 (at the author’s note), but also the only book I DNFed twice. The first DNF was because I was in a bad mood, and seeing an author’s note about how I should read a prequel novella before starting the supposedly “stand alone” novel made me furious. When I gave it another chance, I learned I should have followed my instinct. The sluttiness of “puck bunnies” (women who want to have sex with hockey players) is pointed out at every available opportunity, which is surprisingly frequent considering that the heroine is the only female character I remember existing at all in the story. Does our heroine want to sleep with hockey players? Yes, but that doesn’t make her a “puck bunny” because she’s not like other girls. She’s a doctor. Does it matter that the multiple hockey players she fucks are her patients? No, of course not. Medical ethics don’t apply to quirky heroines in “funny” situations. And yeah, maybe one of her partners isn’t into the whole polyamory thing, but it’s totally cool to coerce someone into that situation if you really, really can’t choose between the hot hockey players you’re having sex with (and who are also your patients and also you’re not like those other sluts who have sex with multiple hockey players). CW: insulting polyamory rep, misogyny, internalized misogyny, a dash of homophobia, some big consent issues regarding polyamory

4. The Necromancer’s Bride, Brianna Hale I really enjoyed this one, actually. Until I got to the end and found an excerpt for the author’s dark romance featuring an ex-Nazi hero, which completely killed the vibe and made me hate the book I just read by default. Get in the trash, Brianna. You belong there. CW: Author thinks it’s hot to fuck Nazis.

Honorable Mentions I Highly Suggest Because They Were Super Fun And Interesting

1. Hi, Honey, I’m Homo, Matt Baume If you watch Baume’s highly entertaining YouTube video essays about the queer history of American sitcoms, chances are you’ll recognize a lot of this material. But Baume has more room to expound on those topics in book form, and his writing style matches the tone of his YouTube videos, making this a fun and informative read that will change the way you watch television classics. CW: real world and fictional homophobia and transphobia, including examinations of storylines involving the deaths of queer characters.

2. The Fae’s Two Alphas, Jem Zero If you like Kimberly Lemming’s books, you’ll love Zero’s polyam romance about a half-fae trans man working with his childhood wolf-shifter friend and a surly shifter mage to regain entry to the fae realm—and the magic that he used to transition. This is cozy and fun, despite the dysphoric element, with hot sex scenes and believable, tropey romance. Plus, it’s set in Michigan, which makes it an extra winner. CW: dysphoria, forced detransition

There you have it. My bests and worsts of 2023. I think it’s a great sign that I only outright loathed only four books. What did you read in 2023? Leave your recommendations and warnings in the comments!

Plagiarism (terms and conditions apply)

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If you are not one of the (at the time of writing) 8.4 million viewers who’ve seen HBomberguy’s magnum opus, Plagiarism and You(Tube), I highly recommend it. You can watch it here. It’s almost four hours long, but every moment is riveting. While the documentary is focused on recapping and contextualizing plagiarism scandals involving YouTubers, the opening described a plagiarism case in the writing world. And since that’s where I’m from, I found it incredibly interesting.

HBomberguy (real name Harris Brewis) talks about a case in which writers Harlan Ellison and Ben Bova successfully settled a plagiarism lawsuit against Paramount Television for lifting ideas wholesale. After Paramount rejected a TV pitch that Ellison and Bova wrote, the company produced a shockingly similar concept.

To reiterate: Writers approach producers. Producers read material. Producers make a show just like that material, but fail to pay and credit the writers who had the idea. Writers sue, producers settle. In other words, producers don’t want to go to court.

Over ideas.

Years ago, when Fifty Shades of Grey came out, it was proven to be Twilight fanfiction. There was absolutely no way to deny it. In an interview with Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr., James’s agent, Valerie Hoskins, described the book’s fanfic origins:

“This did start as Twilight fan fiction, inspired by Stephenie Meyer’s wonderful series of books. Originally it was written as fan fiction, then Erika decided to take it down after there were some comments about the racy nature of the material. She took it down and thought, I’d always wanted to write. I’ve got a couple unpublished novels here. I will rewrite this thing, and create these iconic characters, Christian and Anna. If you read the books, they are nothing like Twilight now. It’s very 21st Century, don’t you think?”

Yeah, unfortunately, it is very 21st century. The published version of Fifty Shades of Grey bears a staggering 89% similarity to the original fanfic, Master of the Universe, so the characters weren’t “created” by James. They were Bella and Edward from the Twilight series. The fanfic is patently Twilight, minus vampires, with very little new material added or old material reworked for publication as a novel. The blatant copying of Meyer’s work has been pointed out by numerous sources (including my own) and is openly discussed within the industry.

Yet, James and authors like her, who shamelessly pick over the work of others without bothering to obscure the origins of what they’ve stolen, are defended by some in the industry. “It can’t be plagiarism,” they insist, “because plagiarism means word-for-word.”

That didn’t seem to be a strong enough defense for Paramount Television’s legal team, or they wouldn’t have settled with Bova and Ellison. If they’d been confident in the argument, “Your honor, we only stole the idea. We didn’t copy them word for word,” they would have done so. But they clearly didn’t feel the law was on their side.

Why, then, is public opinion rarely on the side of people who face the same form of plagiarism? And it is plagiarism, regardless of what armchair legal “experts” on social media might say. The Oxford definition of plagiarism isn’t “word-for-word copying.” It includes ideas. That definition must build at least a probable defense in court, or else Paramount Television would have paid Bova and Ellison in hearty jerking-off hand motions.

“There’s no such thing as a new idea!” plagiarist apologists say, even when two books, like Kim Richardson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and JoJo Moyes’s The Giver of Stars, feature more than one uncannily similar detail or plot point. Sure, Moyes inserted a scene with a horseback librarian getting attacked by the town vagrant, but it’s a historically inspired novel. Yes, Richardson wrote a nearly identical scene in her book, which was published first, by a company owned by the same company that Moyes writes for. There are no new ideas! And it’s a historical novel. The fact that the scene isn’t based on a historical incident that both authors might have uncovered in their research doesn’t matter, because there are no new stories. I mean, “horseback librarian attacked by town vagrant” is such a common motif throughout all of western literature that you’re almost required to include it in all of your stories. Because there simply aren’t new ones. We’re fresh out.

That’s why it’s okay to take a popular book and simply rewrite it, swapping out one type of character for another. Maybe instead of a vampire, the love interest is a billionaire with a tormented past. Maybe instead of surgeons in an exciting hospital environment, your story is a cast of lawyers at a high-pressure firm. You don’t have to change any of the beats. Why would you? They’re already written. Why reinvent the wheel, especially when you’ll be defended by other authors who either don’t like to rock the boat or who have based their entire careers on this exact same “not plagiarism, technically” mentality?

What would be indefensible, of course, would be to steal word-for-word. That is the only definition of plagiarism currently accepted by the publishing world, after all. Nobody would ever defend someone like, for example, Mark Dawson, who was recently exposed as a serial “borrower” of sentences and paragraphs from uncited sources. I mean, nobody except for all of the people in the comments saying things like:

While I agree with everyone that this doesn’t look great, the scope is tiny. We’re talking about single sentences. Is that truly egregious?

There are only so many ways a sentence can be written, and many many many millions of people writing them. Did you also, as part of your experiment, choose a few books by other authors, and input random sentences from their books into google, and see if there were any matches?

Some people boldly admitted to plagiarizing:

There are some phrases and words that just pop. I write those phrases down because they resonated with me. For example, there is a zombie book series and the first book is titled “Rot and Ruin.” and I LOVED that phrase as a description of the end of the world zombie apocalypse. I would use the phrase “rot and ruin” without blinking.

While “rot and ruin” isn’t something I’d consider actionable plagiarism, what else is that writer jotting down for future use? And doesn’t it become plagiarism the moment you see someone else’s words and say, “Yes, I think I’ll have that for myself?” There’s a wide gulf between, “Wow, that sentence is so evocative, I’m going to also use it,” and “I accidentally forgot I read this good sentence and thought I came up with it on my own.” If you’re writing down pieces of other people’s work to use later, then every time you sit down to write you’re doing so with the intent to plagiarize.

In a now-deleted thread, one Redditor insisted that it isn’t plagiarism at all to find a sentence or paragraph that you like in someone else’s work and use it for your own. Then, that Redditor argued with numerous academic professionals that “their” definition of plagiarism, including the definition directly copy/pasted from a dictionary, wasn’t really plagiarism simply because he didn’t like it.

I truly, deeply regret not screenshotting that thread, and only didn’t because I believed that there was no way someone so phenomenally pig-headed would ever retreat via deletion. Lesson learned.

But Mark Dawson is a well-known figure in indie publishing. He’s made a fortune and amassed a huge following teaching other indie authors how to get rich from self-publishing. As with most indie authors who’ve never achieved mainstream success but insist they have all the answers, Dawson’s course is much more popular than his literary catalog. But those who’ve paid him hundreds of dollars to teach them what he can’t even do for himself refuse to stop supporting him. After all, he’s helping their career, somehow. And they’ve invested in him. They’ve spent money on him. They’ve recommended him to other writers. To admit that he’s a fraud and a plagiarist would be admitting that they were duped.

The target of plagiarism often invalidates the accusation, as well, as in the recent case of Donna Dickens. In December of this year, Dickens alleged that an entire article she had written for ScreenRant had been scrubbed from the site and reposted in 2022 with another writer’s byline. And when I reached out to ask if I could include those allegations in this post, she gave me permission with the caveat that I should be careful about doxxing and harassment that might come my way. Dickens posted the now-infamous “Fake Rome” video to TikTok in 2021, which leads me to wonder if ScreenRant didn’t disguise the article to cover their past association with a controversial figure. If that’s the case… cool story, still plagiarism. But ultimately, no one will care because in the social internet hivemind, Dickens doesn’t deserve to be defended.

The definition of what constitutes plagiarism will always change depending on who the victim is. Kim Richardson wasn’t plagiarized by JoJo Moyes, because Moyes is a very popular New York Times Bestseller with a movie adaptation and Richardson is not. E.L. James is not a plagiarist because she only lifted another author’s characters and story beats, not whole sentences. Mark Dawson isn’t a plagiarist because he only stole sentences and paragraphs, not… Well, it doesn’t matter. He makes a lot of money and sells courses on how to make money. ScreenRant isn’t in the business of plagiarizing because fuck you, that writer made a conspiracy video and deserves every bad thing. Here’s her home address.

There’s always a reason why it’s okay for some people to plagiarize and others to be plagiarized without recourse, and that reason usually has to do with audience response to the person making the allegation. Did you see a scene you wrote show up in someone else’s book, with a few tweaks here and explicit sex added in? You’re jealous. Did you read a book and recognize the plot, characters, themes, or story beats from another book? Well, you’re just a reader. You don’t understand the industry. And besides, that isn’t Kylo and Rey. They’re on Earth, working at restaurant. You’re confused, probably because the author made it clear to everyone that the book is a Reylo AU fanfic and the cover clearly features a faceless cartoon man who is unmistakably Adam Driver. Okay, yes, this over here is an Aladdin fanfic that has been widely hyped on the author’s social media as being absolutely, one-hundred-percent based on Disney’s movie, including characters that don’t exist in any other version of that story, but the author’s Beauty and the Beast retelling changed Gaston’s name by a single letter, so obviously everyone is overreacting. That’s normal when you, gosh, simply just don’t understand the way the business works, or you’re just a jealous hater.

None of that is plagiarism. Plagiarism is when someone without a parasocial army to scream down allegations does those things. If you have a big enough following, it’s just fun with online friends that happens to net a huge advance and massive marketing campaign. It’s Girl Boss empowering (if women are involved) or a deliberate dodge around the gatekeepers (when men do it). And yes, there is an indie author out there peddling her Reylo/You’ve Got Mail crossover fanfic and yes, reviewers have pointed out that the author used whole lines of dialogue from the movie in her book, but who am I to point that out? A misogynist. That’s who. A person who hates fanfic. A hater who wants to uphold all the problematic barriers to traditional publishing. A traitor to all author-kind.

The definition of plagiarism seems to be flexible and evolving at a rapid pace. That evolution is dependent on who is doing the plagiarizing, how many copies they move, what their online following is like, and how quickly they’ll mobilize into a silencing army. Even though James Somerton lost an estimated 70k followers and scrubbed his entire channel of content after Brewis’s video, he somehow still has over 200k followers. Illuminaughtii, another YouTuber called out in Brewis’s video, boasts a patently ridiculous 1.27M followers and continues to post multiple, probably plagiarized, videos every week. Her latest posted three days ago (at the time of writing), complete with sponsorship ads, albeit with the comments turned off.

We like to pretend that plagiarism is a serious offense. A career-ruining offense. Something that one couldn’t be granted a pass for or possibly recover from. But it simply isn’t. For every HBomberguy video calling out plagiarism (okay, let’s be honest, he’s the only one producing four hour documentaries about plagiarism), there are ten successful plagiarists who will continue to plagiarize while their supporters make excuses for them. “I’m a college professor, I think I would know what plagiarism is! I would absolutely bring the hammer down on any student doing what this particular author/creator is doing, but in this case, I enjoy their work, so it’s not plagiarism!” “I’m a former lawyer, I know it’s not plagiarism because I don’t know the difference between plagiarism and copyright.” “I’m a publishing professional and we would never publish a book that was plagiarized (unless both writers were in-house, of course).”

While I enjoyed HBomberguy’s video, I couldn’t help but become intensely sad. Because I know it’s a wasted effort. Every single attempt to bring a plagiarist to justice is a wasted effort, if that plagiarism is profitable. And with the internet deepening the parasocial bonds between authors and readers, every novelist is one popular TikTok influencer away from never having to consider ethics in their career ever again.

All I Want For Christmas Is A BroadwayWorld Regional Award

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Earlier this month, I was nominated for a staggering (to me, at least) amount of BroadwayWorld Regional awards. The categories are as follows:

  • Best Direction of a Musical: Jenny Trout, The Music Man, Center Stage Theater
  • Best Supporting Performer in a Musical: Jenny Trout, Something Rotten, Center Stage Theater
  • Best Musical: The Music Man, Center Stage Theater

Plus my Harold Hill and Marian Paroo, Steve Brubaker and Kristine Schomisch, are nominated in the Best Performer in a Musical.

And I want votes! Because I did a great job!

So, here’s my giantly big, big, big ask: vote for me. It’s a huge ask, because BroadwayWorld made it a pain in the ass to vote. You enter your email, then there are about twenty categories you have to click through (you don’t have to vote for all of them, but if you feel like voting for Center Stage Theater in any of the other categories, you can do that, too, I won’t stop you!) and they send you a follow up email to confirm your vote. You really, really, really have to want to vote. So, if you’ve always thought to yourself, gosh, I’d really like to vote in an internet contest for a stranger who constantly overshares about their mental health on this blog, well guess what? The time is now!

If you want proof that I deserve the hell out of Best Supporting Performer, check out about twenty-seconds of my overall performance here. Voting closes super duper soon, so if you want to toss those votes my way, use this link and know that I am grateful for your time and super appreciate you!

Stay tuned this week for an update about ALL THE DING DANG PLAGIARISM SCANDALS HAPPENING.

Back from hiatus!

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Hey there, friendos! Now that I’m not in the manic state that caused me to write a whopping 60,000 words already in December, I can actually focus on all my projects equally again! That’s such a good feeling.

To update everybody on what happened after this post, I received a formal apology from the executive arm of the organization. And I’m not getting fired for not smiling enough! That was honestly one of my biggest fears: someone would somehow make sense of the allegation that I am hostile and threatening due to not smiling constantly and I would be punished for it. I believe that was what the individual intended, but as it turns out, everyone was just as confused as I was. No one knew how to handle things in the moment, and everybody froze.

But it still took a lot of time for me to tell my brain that I wasn’t failing anyone or doing anything wrong (and that I’m allowed to dislike whoever I want), so I’m glad I took time off and just sat down and wrote my little head off to escape everything. Oh, and went to just a shit-ton of hockey games. Go K-Wings!

So, we’re back in full swing. I posted a new The Missus video over on YouTube (see it here!) and Modelland will start posting again this weekend. Which I know will be super convenient for everybody, because absolutely nothing is happening this weekend for anybody at all. But it will still be there when you’re done stuffing your stockings and doing all your ho-ho-hoing. Buffy and Bridgerton vids are next, and while we’re on the subject of YouTube, I’ve got thoughts about HBomberguy’s epic plagiarism documentary.

Coming soon, I’ll be posting some end-of-year stuff, including my favorite reads of 2023 (at least, those I can talk about outside of the St. Martins boycott and some of the unfortunate political opinions authors were discovered to have), as well as my DNFs of 2023, and what Trout Nation is going to be like in the new year.

New year, new me for six weeks, baby!

And get your 2024 calendars ready, because I have some appearances lined up in the midwest. That’s right, I’m finally ready to go out in public again.

Oh, and I’ll have four books out this year, that I know of at the moment. It could be more. Stay tuned.

As always, thanks for sticking with my and my weird brain. I’m always legitimately stunned to know that people care about what I write and make and do.

A Court of Jealousy and Haters: ACOTAR, chapter 46, or “The end! But still, so much end.”

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I’m shamelessly plugging my new Fantasy Romance serial in the intro to an unrelated post. Join the new Patreon tier or my Ream page or read it on Kindle Vella.

As promised, I’m importing the A Court of Thorns and Roses recaps here from Patreon. These were originally written beginning in August of 2020, so there will be references to upcoming or seasonal events that won’t fit with our current timeline. I am not a time traveler and you’ll never be able to prove that I am. I will also include editors notes like this every now and then as we go, mostly to amuse myself but to give re-read value to those who’ve already been on this awful, awful journey with me.

A Court of Jealousy and Haters: ACOTAR chapter 45 or “Breaking Dawn”

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m shamelessly plugging my new Fantasy Romance serial in the intro to an unrelated post. Join the new Patreon tier or my Ream page or read it on Kindle Vella.

As promised, I’m importing the A Court of Thorns and Roses recaps here from Patreon. These were originally written beginning in August of 2020, so there will be references to upcoming or seasonal events that won’t fit with our current timeline. I am not a time traveler and you’ll never be able to prove that I am. I will also include editors notes like this every now and then as we go, mostly to amuse myself but to give re-read value to those who’ve already been on this awful, awful journey with me.

A Court of Jealousy and Haters: ACOTAR chapter 44, or “Amarantha Chiropractic and Holistic Wellness Center”

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m shamelessly plugging my new Fantasy Romance serial in the intro to an unrelated post. Join the new Patreon tier or my Ream page or read it on Kindle Vella.

As promised, I’m importing the A Court of Thorns and Roses recaps here from Patreon. These were originally written beginning in August of 2020, so there will be references to upcoming or seasonal events that won’t fit with our current timeline. I am not a time traveler and you’ll never be able to prove that I am. I will also include editors notes like this every now and then as we go, mostly to amuse myself but to give re-read value to those who’ve already been on this awful, awful journey with me.

A Court of Jealousy and Haters: ACOTAR chapter 43 or “Feyre Everdeen”

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m shamelessly plugging my new Fantasy Romance serial in the intro to an unrelated post. Join the new Patreon tier or my Ream page or read it on Kindle Vella.

As promised, I’m importing the A Court of Thorns and Roses recaps here from Patreon. These were originally written beginning in August of 2020, so there will be references to upcoming or seasonal events that won’t fit with our current timeline. I am not a time traveler and you’ll never be able to prove that I am. I will also include editors notes like this every now and then as we go, mostly to amuse myself but to give re-read value to those who’ve already been on this awful, awful journey with me.