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State of the Trout: How quarantine will affect my release schedule going forward.

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This is such a weird time, isn’t it? Every writer I know has been talking about how they can’t focus on their work and they’re finding themselves revisiting old projects or scattering their thoughts over four or more at a time. It’s totally uncharted territory for many of us. We’re all sort of used to having this issue during times of stress, mental and physical health challenges, life stuff, etc. We’re also used to knowing deeply in our hearts that we’re the only one who has ever experienced this because every single other author in the world has never, ever had to take weeks off from work and just stare at the walls and those of us who do that are lazy frauds because we can’t expend the rigorous mental energy it takes to focus on a pretend world inside our heads. And now we’re all feeling exactly that same way and asking each other, “Is it just me?”

Nope. It’s just everybody.

I’m sure this applies to more than just writers but as this post is all about me, the center of the universe, I’m just giving the writer perspective. This chaotic inability to corral thoughts and feelings and make them into interesting words in an order that makes sense has actually been kind of good for me because it’s forcing me to confront some truths I was avoiding and, in the process, making myself miserable. I’ve been open about the fact that I’m struggling to finish The Daughter. I’ve been working on it for almost a year now. Yes, I had a serious mental health crisis that postponed the release. Yes, I have struggled with writing a billionaire romance in a world where billionaires are killing the planet and everyone we love. Yes, I’ve made it clear that internal politics within the genre have changed my feelings toward romance. But a couple of weeks ago, I admitted something to myself that I had been avoiding thinking about for a long, long time.

The Daughter will be the last Sophie Scaife book.

It broke my heart to type that sentence, by the way. I’ll probably cry like a baby when I hit publish on this post. But it’s time to face facts. I’ve been writing this series for something like eight years now, haven’t I? Isn’t that weird, that I can’t even remember? And that’s what’s taking me so long to write the book. I don’t want to let them go. I love these characters. They’re full-time residents of my mind. And I’m grieving because I know I can’t keep the story going. Their happily ever after is going to happen in this book, and I’m going to have to move on.

That scares the absolute shit out of me.

Years ago, I wrote a series of vampire novels that consumed my entire being. Like, all I thought about from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep were these characters and the world I’d created for them. I had so much enthusiasm, especially writing that first book. I knew that because it was something special to me, it would be special to other people. When it got published, I tattooed the heroine’s initials on my wrist. But how could I ever forget Carrie and Nathan and Max and Bella and Cyrus and Ziggy and all the characters that I hardly ever think about now? I was never going to forget them. But I did. And that’s going to happen with Sophie and Neil and El-Mudad and Holli and Deja and Rudy and Valerie.

And I’m not ready. I’m not ready for them to fade away. I’m certainly not ready to grieve the end of a series while I’m in a constant state of grief over [insert frantic gesticulations to indicate every fucking thing around the world]. Since I’m not ready, I can’t make any progress. And the more time that passes, the worse the imposter syndrome becomes, and the harder it is to fight around the block, the harder it is to push.

So, as much as it pains me to disappoint people who have been waiting for it, I have to put The Daughter on hold. Again.

I promise you: it will come. It’s completely outlined, researched, and about 3/4 finished. It won’t be five years. I’m not George R.R. Martin-ing this shit. But for right now, I need to focus on other stuff. Escapist stuff, not just from the current state of the world, but from the reality that this is the last time I’ll be with these characters. I fell in love with them. I didn’t want to let them go and that was holding me back. Now, I need to grapple with that before I can finish the book.

In the meantime, I’m going to start shifting my focus away from billionaires. Jenny Trout is going to continue writing about centaurs and will be releasing the YA serial Nightmare Born in ebook and paperback (before, you could only read it on Radish). Abigail Barnette will have a series of stand-alone, small-town romance novellas set in the fictional Upper Peninsula town of Blackhawk Bay. And some of Abigail Barnette’s out-of-print backlist will be published under a new pen name, beginning with my 2011 vampire novel, In The Blood.

The cover for In The Blood. A good-looking dude with pale hair and red eyes on a red sorts of misty-ish background. The title is on it, right above the name Jennifer Morningstar

Yup. I absolutely chose that pen name because I’m a Lucifer fan girl.

Why a new pen name? Because I want to keep Abigail Barnette a name where you know you’re getting romance with overall healthy messages. Jennifer Morningstar will be writing more dark erotica/erotic horror/paranormal erotica and Jenny Trout doesn’t like it when books with extreme content or dodgy topics are miscategorized as erotic romance because Jenny Trout does not like it when she buys a book and it romanticizes stuff that is super harmful to romanticize. Also, it’s for Jenny Trout’s personal comfort level with how she marketed her own work in the past; “Can a human consent to a vampire who is capable of mind control?” was a thought that came up when considering what to do with In The Blood and Ravenous once the rights reverted back to Abigail Barnette. There will always be content warnings for readers who don’t want certain topics sprung on them, but readers who aren’t interested in straight out erotica or erotic horror will know, oh, hey. Jennifer Morningstar. Fuck those books, I’m sticking with the warm fuzzies.

So, that’s what’s been going on in my world while the world outside is in shambles. I truly apologize to anyone disappointed by the postponement of The Daughter but please understand, it’s coming from a place of love. I love those characters as much as you do and I’m going to grieve the end with you. Unfortunately, I just have to do it before I can finish the damn book.

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Here for the first time because you’re in quarantine and someone on Reddit recommended my Fifty Shades of Grey recaps? Welcome! Consider checking out my own take on the Billionaire BDSM genre, The Boss. Find it on AmazonB&NSmashwords, iBooks, and Radish!

16 Comments

  1. Siona Larsen
    Siona Larsen

    I am also sorry that their series is coming to an end, but I’ve honestly been surprised that the series is still going. I’ve been girding myself for awhile now that one of these books was going to come with a “sorry, but this is the last in the series” blog post. But I can definitely see how that might be easier to see from the outside.

    I’m looking forward to tearfully saying good-bye to The Boss characters when the time is right for you to let us join you in that. Take care of yourself

    April 21, 2020
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  2. Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

    I 100% understand. I know that the general consensus on the internet seems to be that if you don’t come out of lockdown with that book written, a spotless house, fluent in another language, and a master chief, you didn’t want it and you wasted your time. Well, I say there’s a worldwide pandemic and fuck that noise. You do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your family.

    I signed up for April camp Nanowrimo before the situation spiraled out of control. How much have a written? About three sentences. I have crocheted half a blanket to keep my hands off my phone and away from the news and I’ve been doing tarot readings on the Nano forums for people’s characters and stories. I even did two personal readings for authors which is the first time I’ve done a reading for a stranger. Might not sound like a big deal, but it was an interesting crash course in learning tarot as I classify myself as and advanced beginner (emphases on beginner.) Will I get any writing done? I don’t care. Whatever keeps me mentally healthy is a win right now.

    Jenny – keep fighting the good fight!

    April 21, 2020
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    • Siona Larsen
      Siona Larsen

      Omen, I signed up for camp nano too and was like… y’know what, my goal is 0 words. And I feel good about this. I’m winning and I deserve the win.

      I have written more than 0 words but I still feel good about my 0 word goal since I’m still three weeks away from the end of the school semester

      April 21, 2020
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    • AJ
      AJ

      I 100% want to come out of quarantine as Master Chief. XD

      May 6, 2020
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  3. Jodi
    Jodi

    Maybe I’ll actually be able to catch up on my somewhat namesake’s (author friend created an avatar for me named Sophia, so Sophie Scaife (actual last name) was hilariously close) story as it winds to a close. I’ve been drawing out the series little by little to avoid getting to the end too soon.

    April 21, 2020
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  4. Lorinda
    Lorinda

    I am just pleased that the last one wasn’t the end. So when this is done, I’ll be happy to add it to my collection of one of the most memorable series I’ve read in the past 8 years.

    April 21, 2020
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  5. Kitt
    Kitt

    I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to come to that realization and decision, particularly now. I think it speaks volumes about you that you are able to articulate it and face it as you are and be willing to manage it as you are, which strikes me as wise and compassionate and healthy and entirely reasonable. I wish we all could approach our goals and desires and requirements with this level of mindfulness and reasonableness.

    I’m looking forward to whatever you choose to produce and share. Your work is something I enjoy but what you share about your process as a human being and an artist and a parent and someone with chronic illness making things work in an uncompromising world has been something that’s been valuable to my process personally, and I really appreciate it. Thank you.

    April 22, 2020
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  6. Leaving the “Magic behind the mountains” series behind after seven years and nine novels (four of them translated to English already) was one of the harder things I had to do. The fact that people keep asking about the characters makes things harder. Writing other things helps. Plus I know where they live, and I can always drop by for a cup of coffee or something.

    April 23, 2020
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  7. Omg, I LOVE the name Jennifer Morningstar!! It sounds great! And I’m also a big Lucifer fan. But yes, unfortunately, I don’t think the books under this name will be for me. I need the warm fuzzies right now. I’m doing okay, but I need the warm fuzzies to stay okay. So I’ll be sticking with your warm fuzzies for now.
    At the moment, the centaur story is my absolute favourite! I really hope it will be available to buy as a complete book when it’s finished!

    April 23, 2020
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  8. DS
    DS

    All I ask is that you be kind to yourself right now.

    April 23, 2020
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  9. CL
    CL

    Oh no! This is the only erotica series I read. I kind of guessed this was coming, though.

    Do you have any erotica series you can recommend to us? Any that might be comparable?

    <3

    April 24, 2020
    |Reply
    • Vicki Lee
      Vicki Lee

      CL, have you tried the “Master of the Shadowlands” series? It’s by Cherise Sinclair. The Shadowlands is a S&M club (in fact I think of it as the club in Paris). Each book follows a different character and they are all romances – with a little extra.

      April 29, 2020
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  10. Vicki Lee
    Vicki Lee

    Ah, Jenny, you had my throat all chocked up with tears. I’m going to miss Sophie, Neil, El-Mudad et al., and I know I’ll be crying by the end of that book. I had just finish writing my first post on Trout Nation asking if there would be another book. It seemed like you finished, but I wanted to see just what Neil had in store for Lawrence, that sanctimonious ass (and to think I liked him when he showed up!). I hope that may be covered, but seeing as it’s The Daughter, maybe Olivia (it is about Olivia, right?) is older in this book.
    Take all the time you need, as far as I’m concerned. I mean, I want it, but if I as a reader miss characters, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for the person in whose head they’ve been living.
    I think I get what you mean about concentrating now. I used to rarely drive, but I still had my jeep. Even if I didn’t drive, the fact I knew I could made it ok. When it broke down for good, I was crazy for going for a ride. I thought it was my contrary nature!

    April 29, 2020
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  11. IsobelA
    IsobelA

    Apparently, when I was very young (3 or 4) I used to have conversations with my Mum where I talked about how I used to live before, near Sirius. She doesn’t know where I’d even have heard or known about the names of stars at that age.

    May 4, 2020
    |Reply
  12. Kat
    Kat

    I just cried to my boyfriend when I saw that the series is coming to an end. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want it to last forever (but also I do), and it will break my heart, because there are no other books with characters so well developed (that I know of at least) and I love them so much. They made me cry, they made me laugh, they did questionable things, they taught me a lot and I will have a hard time letting them go. But as my bf said – it’s better to eat something delicious and still feel slightly hungry, than have your plate overflowing and watch the stuff go to shit. And I know he’s right. But it’s gonna be Harry Potter and Twilight all over again and it’s gonna hurt a lot.

    May 6, 2020
    |Reply
  13. Biev
    Biev

    You can visit your characters any time you want, you know! You’re allowed to read your own stuff : )

    August 8, 2020
    |Reply

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