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State of the Trout: Surgery, The Great Facebook Fuck-up, Donations, and a New Video

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First of all, I survived surgery! I wasn’t concerned that I wouldn’t, but I have what people around me describe as “the worst luck.” Which is kind of weird, because I’m always like, “I’m so lucky, I’m such a lucky person.” I guess I never counted the bad luck. Which doesn’t make me wrong, just slightly less optimistic.

The surgery didn’t go exactly how I expected, but I’m waiting to speak to my surgeon about that at a follow-up appointment because my experience was definitely one of those “I wanted to tell you first” kind of things. I did have to return to the hospital via ambulance that night, but I’m doing super okay now, and even did some writing. For example, the review of Poor Things I’ll be posting later this week. Spoiler: if you really love that movie with all your heart and soul, skip my review.

I also hope to post the letter I’m currently working on to send to the governors of Michigan and California, as well as their AGs. I still have only received one response from the lawmakers I originally contacted.

I cannot thank you all enough for the donations I’ve received to help keep us afloat while we navigate all of this. While my credit union overturned the fraud claims, the donations helped me to pay half my surgical co-pay, and my surgery wasn’t delayed while waiting for the credit union to make their decision and return the money to my account. PayPal, however, deemed the massive transaction taken through their service valid. After all, I’ve paid for ads with Facebook in the past, right? If I was willing to pay $25 once or twice a year, I would clearly be interested in paying thousands in a single transaction. My next hurdle is convincing them that my bank finding fraud just might be a sign that fraud was indeed committed, but as the funds were taken via ACH and not a debit card, my credit union feels my beef is with PayPal on that one.

I cannot stress enough that no one should be using Facebook ads or Facebook marketplace. A few people have told me that they only use their credit card, so if fraud is committed, they’re protected. But you’re not protected from hacks, and I believe these people are only targeting users who are active on marketplace or who are running ads.

I’ve had a few questions, comments, and concerns about the donations that I would like to address, however:

“I really wish I could afford to help.” Well, I really wish you were in better financial circumstances, too, but not because I want your money. I want you to not be worried about money. I would feel wretched if someone gave me something they didn’t have to give. The fact that you care is donation enough. Not all support is monetary. Do you read this blog? Do you like being on the Discord talking to people? Does your day feel cooler if you read something I post? That’s helping. Don’t ever feel bad if you can’t just hand me money. Don’t feel bad if you can’t be a Patron or buy my books. I’m glad you’re here. But if you wanted to do a little bit extra in a non-monetary way and you can, it would be awesome if you’d contact your local lawmakers about how Facebook uses their lax security to rob paying customers, or tell people you know that they could be in danger by using Facebook ads and marketplace.

“If you had thousands of dollars in the first place, you don’t need help.” I definitely am better off than I was when I was on food stamps, and I know how lucky I am that I got out of that cycle. But I’m not one of those rich indie authors. There are probably five of those. Without getting too into detail about my personal finances, my business account doesn’t receive weekly paychecks. I get paid once a month from some retailers, and sometimes the checks are as small as $12.00. There are quarterly royalties from my backlists and the occasional advance from a serialized platform. I pay myself a salary from the business, and I can only pay myself what the business can afford. My work requires investment: stock art and covers, editing, advertising, payroll service, website and domain fees, software subscriptions (why the fuck did everything become a god damn subscription?!), office supplies, travel (I have signing events coming up this year), postage, I even have to pay into unemployment despite being a sole proprietor, in case I fire myself someday. When I say “thousands,” what I mean is, “around six months worth of operating expenses and my salary, to be budgeted and rationed out.” Not “my vast disposable income.”

“I tried to donate, but Ko-Fi didn’t accept my payment.” Those of you who have come to me to tell me this already have this answer, but in case it comes up again: I’m not sure why Ko-Fi would reject your payment. Ko-Fi’s advice was to check with your bank or credit card people to see why the payment failed. And even if you’re like, eh, too much work, look. Your heart was in it. And I appreciate it. See item one on this list.

“If you get all your money back, what will you use the donations for?” Ultimately, I’d like to file a civil suit against Facebook. There are a few obstacles in the way, but I’ve already started my research. I don’t think I’m going to Erin Brockovich this thing; I know I won’t win, but it’s worth it to waste their time and money and hopefully raise more awareness of the problem. Every single person I spoke to at my credit union, from the fraud department to the local branch employees, said that this is a widespread issue they are very familiar with. How this has continued on is mindblowing.

In other news, as I’m slowly getting back to work, I was able to edit and post a new episode of Jealous Haters AV Club! I had filmed this before my surgery, but didn’t get a chance to caption and post it. It’s here, it’s infuriating, but the bonus is that you get to see me struggle with my speech impediment for like two minutes.

I’d love to be able to get the next Bridgerton and Buffy reacts up soon, but it’s only been a week and sitting up is still surprisingly painful after a little bit. I kinda expected I would be in bed for a couple days and then right back to normal. But that is because I am always delusional about my healing abilities. I straight up believe that I’m Wolverine.

My daughter and I also plan to do a special edition Jealous Haters AV Club installment on Ice Breaker, something that I suggested to contain and somewhat stem the flow of her pure hatred. I was like, “Why not save up this anger that’s constantly spewing out of you and we’ll make a video and you can tell like a thousand people how much you think this book sucks?” There is no ire like that of a teen reader who bought into hype and regretted it.

So, there’s stuff coming up, but slowly. Thanks for sticking with me!

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  1. Lena

    “Every single person I spoke to at my credit union, from the fraud department to the local branch employees, said that this is a widespread issue they are very familiar with.”

    Years ago, FB locked me out of my account with no explanation or way to fix. As I discovered a month later when I got my credit card bill, they kept running ads on that account I was unable to log into.

    I haven’t had great experience with credit card companies looking out for me in the past, so I expected to have to cancel the card to stop further charges and just eat the loss. No, turns out they have an entire division to deal with Facebook ripoffs. Multiple full-time employees whose job it is to reverse charges by Facebook on behalf of people who *got hit hard enough to complain.* How many people never notice an extra $10 or $20?

    If all these techbros and bankers and politicians weren’t getting together on weekends and fellating each other atop mountains of cocaine, thousand-dollar bills, and starving orphans, there would be laws about this problem EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT.

    March 27, 2024
  2. Necrogem

    I only just got caught up on your last couple months, so I’m just finding out about your gallbladder surgery now, but from one gallbladder-lacker to another, WATCH OUT for Post-Cholecystectomy Syndrome. It’s more nasty digestive stuff as your body tries to figure out how it should work under the new normal. Mine didn’t start until 4 or 5 months after surgery, and from what I’ve read I got lucky because I only had 3 episodes over the next few months after that (some people have a whole range of complications, for years afterward). Anything with a lot of fat in it (like chicken alfredo lasagna, which I’ve still never gone back to) causes a sudden massive pain in the large intestine and a need to run to the bathroom. Mine also included nausea/vomiting, which at least made it stop sooner since the “bad” food was gone, but also had the effect of making me feel kind of like I might die from all the different pains I was experiencing throughout my abdomen. After it was finally over a few hours later, I would have barely enough energy to drag myself from the bathroom to the couch, where I had to lay flat with all the blankets nearby and any cat that I could entice to try to warm up, because I was also cold from the inside out. It was genuinely emanating from my bones; it was the oddest feeling. It took a couple more hours after that to feel able to just get up and go to bed. I know all this is way too much information from a total stranger, but I just wanted to try to alert you to the possibility, and also to tell you to not be like me and actually watch what you eat for at least the next year or so. It might not save you but at least you’ll know what’s going on if it should happen to you. I’m so sorry about all the everything you’ve been going through, and wish you the best of luck for the rest of the year!

    April 3, 2024
  3. Chris

    I might have asked this before, in which case: sorry for stalking, but have you considered doing your recaps in audio format on Patreon? I often take you out for a walk while listening to your recaps of The Missus, but since it’s Youtube that’s not ideal. If, for any reason, you can’t write (or can’t write that fast), maybe audio is an option? Because you’re funny as hell and even when I can’t see your facial expressions, I can absolutely imagine them when I hear you sigh and stutter while reading The Missus.

    April 4, 2024

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