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Clarification

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I’ve gotten some comments, DMs, and emails about my last post wherein people have expressed concern over my reasoning behind quitting the After recaps. Coupled with STGRB’s most recent post, which alleges that I quit recapping because I finally understand the link between criticism of a work and bullying of an author, I thought I would jump on here and try again. This has been an extremely stressful weekend for me (I don’t remember signing up to tech a production of Les Liaisons Ridicule, but it seems to be happening whether I want it to or not), so I’m thinking I didn’t quite get my point across as effectively as I meant to.

I am not discontinuing the recaps because I feel criticism of a work is a personal attack on an author.

I am not discontinuing the recaps because I’ve changed my stance on reader reviews.

When I recapped 50 Shades of Grey, it was about more than just recapping a poorly written book. It was about the way she treated the Twilight fans, about the blatant plagiarism and the way nobody gave a fuck about Stephenie Meyer and how all of the hoopla over her stolen work may have made her feel. It was about the author demanding that survivors of abuse stop talking about the obvious themes of abuse in her novels because it was harshing her fans’ collective buzz. It was about the normalization and romanticization of abuse, rape culture, and misogyny, all denied by the media and readers.

I’ve heard that After has problematic content. I haven’t read far enough to get to it, but I believe you that it’s there because you guys haven’t lied to me yet. Someone said there were lines lifted from You’ve Got Mail. That’s not cool. But when it comes down to the wire, the situation isn’t the same. I don’t feel publishing RPF is as murky an ethical line as publishing AU fanfic with the names changed. I don’t feel that the target audience for both books  is the same. After appears to have a mostly teen to twenty-something readership. 50 Shades of Grey was marketed primarily to twenty-something to forty-something women, i.e., an age demographic who should fucking well know better than to think a guy flying into a rage over a pregnancy he helped cause is romantic. And the author is twenty-five. I sold my first book at twenty-four, and believe me, it’s got problematic content in it. Why? Because I hadn’t had life experiences to tell me that what I was writing upheld dangerous, deeply entrenched cultural beliefs.

Does that mean I think people should be able to get away with problematic content without comment, just because they’re  young and inexperienced? Just because they’re nice? No. But I know exactly what it’s like to be thrown into the deep end of the pool when you’re in your early twenties, albeit on a much smaller scale.

When my first book came out, I was sent on a bus tour, with two authors who had years more experience than I did. One of them even gently corrected me because I was mispronouncing my agency’s name. That was my level of naiveté. My first book signing was on a tuesday. On thursday, while we were signing books in a Golden Eagle store in Columbus, Ohio, my agent called to tell me I had made the USA Today Bestseller list. Meanwhile, I was twenty-six years old, crying myself to sleep in my hotel room because I was homesick for my boyfriend and my baby. That was in June of 2006. By September of that same year, I had a six-figure, four book contract. It was overwhelming.

But I had gone out and pursued that. That was my dream, to be a published author. Anna Todd didn’t go out and write a book. She wrote a fanfic, and she shared it as a fanfic, and then it blew up. While we can sit here and be like, “Oh yeah, sucks to be her,” all sarcastically, she is going to experience a level of success that people who write books on purpose have a difficult time dealing with. So, I sympathize with her.

Does this mean I think you’re a big old meany head if you write negative reviews? Of course not. It means that my personal feelings about this particular author make it impossible for me to separate her from her work, and therefore it would be pointless for me to continue my recaps, because I will always be holding back. That doesn’t mean I think all reviewers should hold back. That doesn’t mean I’ll never snark anything again. And it doesn’t mean I support problematic themes in books, or that I think After in its current form is an unimpeachable work of literary perfection. It just means that I, personally, am having a difficult time tearing apart something I can’t separate from the person who wrote it.

And let me reiterate, it feels yucky to me to focus on this particular book because of the editor who bought it. This person was my last editor at my old publisher. I received my last rejection from that company from him. At the time, I was in a very bad place in my life, and losing my foothold in traditional publishing was devastating. If I continued with these recaps, I would be constantly doubting myself, going, “Okay, are you mad at the state of publishing, or are you mad that your old editor is handing out P2P deals left and right?” When I started the recaps, I had no way of knowing that this development was going to pop up, but when it did, I had to reconsider whether or not I could trust myself to be objective.

I know that as a professional, I’m supposed to keep business business and personal personal. But I’m not perfect at that. And if I keep going forward pretending I am, I’m doing myself a disservice, because I’m never going to grow as a person if I’m not honest with myself.

I hope this makes my position a little more clear. I’m not joining the Be Nice brigade. I never will. But in this one case, I cannot keep my personal feelings separate from the project.

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84 Comments

  1. I should send you some of my old fiction and let you tear it apart. Heck, you should just offer that as a service to all your willing fellow authors. Jenny Trout’s Friar’s Club.

    June 8, 2014
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    • MsBlack
      MsBlack

      Holy crap I second this. Especially if the critique comes with special Jenny-style pics and jokes.

      June 8, 2014
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    • Replying to myself so I can correct “Friar’s” Club to “FRIARS” club. The apostrophe sneaked in there on its own, I swear.

      P.S. I hate the word “sneaked” because it sounds wrong to me.

      June 8, 2014
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    • I would love this. I’d also volunteer my short stories for this too. I’m not looking to be a professional author (I already have an awesome career that I love) but your 50 Shades recaps I think actually made me a better writer because it made me think about what I disliked so much about the book beyond abuse being portrayed as kink which I saw as an attack on my lifestyle.

      June 9, 2014
      |Reply
    • lol, I’d definitely volunteer old fan fiction if it wasn’t so embarrassing. Maybe *because* it’s so embarrassing!

      June 9, 2014
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  2. the-great-dragon
    the-great-dragon

    This is basically how I interpreted your last post, but it’s good to have a more elaborate explanation. I hope this is the last time you’ll have to deal with this and things will get easier. It all seems so very stressful.

    I look forward to your next blog posts (whatever they be. Although I can’t do the Merlin’s ones because never again. *sobs*)

    June 8, 2014
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  3. Megan M.
    Megan M.

    It takes a brave person to admit when they’ve made a mistake, especially with a group like STGRB just waiting to misinterpret it. Like I said on your last post, I love your idea to recap your old book and I can’t wait to read those posts! 🙂

    June 8, 2014
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  4. Jamie
    Jamie

    I applaud you for making the right decision for you. It is completely understandable for you to take a step back from these recaps.

    Nevertheless, I’m very distubed that this ‘book’ is going to get boost to a wider audience. As someone who went through an abusive relationship in my early twenties that echoed some of the scenes in this book, I am horrified for the young people who are going to be exposed to this. The abuse on perpetrated by Christian Grey in 50 Shades is subtle compared to what happens in this book. It was particularly disturbing that the adults in Tessa’s life encouraged her to continue this relationship because she was ‘so good for him’ (the Harry Styles character). Even the ones that had suffered through their own abusive relationships. The violence was explicit even if it wasn’t directed at Tessa herself just at anyone in her life who dared to take any of her focus off of Harry. I am so very angry that any responsible adult in the publishing industry thinks this should be marketed to teenagers.

    June 8, 2014
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    • Jamie
      Jamie

      All of which is to say, if you read further, I don’t think it is the possible plagiarism or immature writing or the lack of editing that would bother you the most about this book. Anna Todd may be a perfectly lovely person but she’s internalized some really horrific levels of misogony. Later in the books, she starts writing chapters from Harry’s point of view. I believe that she does this because no one reading the events of this book would possibly believe that Harry ‘loves’ Tessa. She needs to write Harry POV so the audience can ‘hear’ him say how much he loves her. But even then his justifications for his actions are so horrifying it wads all I could do not to hurl my tablet across the room. This book often left me shaking with rage. 50 Shades never managed to do that…

      June 8, 2014
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      • Jamie
        Jamie

        Sorry for all the typos. This topic just makes me so upset.

        June 8, 2014
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        • Flo
          Flo

          Jamie, I’m curious–were you as disturbed by what happens at the beginning of book 2 when Tessa finds out? (trying not to give any spoilers). I was actually physically sick at that point, as well as several others. I just don’t understand how anyone with half a brain can find any of this romantic, it’s just sick. As someone who was involved with someone early in my life who completely broke my trust in our relationship, I can just say that if I had been Tessa, there wouldn’t have been a book 2 or 3 after what he did. It would have been “hit the road Jack!”.

          June 9, 2014
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          • Jeanne
            Jeanne

            I am with you. I was surprised by the twist and that was the only point in the book where I was honestly curious to see what happened next. I couldn’t believe there was so much more “story”. That would have the deal breaker to end all deal breakers for me and I admit I was very much looking forward to what Jenny thought about it all. There were a few points where I was just imagining what her recaps would say (for example, when Tessa is screaming at Harry about how she gave him her virginity and it belonged to someone else, some guy she hadn’t met yet but then she went and wasted the gift by giving it to Harry. Knowing how Jenny feels about virginity as something to be given or taken away, I was heavily anticipating her remarks on that!)

            June 9, 2014
      • Promise
        Promise

        Damn. I am a survivor of domestic abuse. I couldn’t read 50 Shades because of the abuse in it (although I thoroughly enjoyed Jenny’s recaps). I even got into several heated arguments with my mother over her love for 50 Shades. If After is worse, then I can’t imagine getting through it without breaking down from the triggers (on top of the headache the poor writing gives me). BUT, if After is worse, that also means that a dialogue about the abuse in it is extremely important. I get why Jenny doesn’t feel like she is the person to do this. Between the triggers and the fact that I’m in nursing school, there’s no way I could take it on, but I think someone really needs to. Maybe, Jamie, you could?

        June 9, 2014
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        • I might take up the mantle of recapping this series. I have no ties to any of it (I’m not even a 1D fan) so it’d be a complete outsider’s perspective, but I enjoy recapping. Not like I have anything better to do right now, lol.

          June 10, 2014
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          • JennyTrout
            JennyTrout

            You would make a lot of people here very happy!

            June 10, 2014
      • Jeanne
        Jeanne

        You know something….I am on chapter 151 or 152 of this garbage now and you are right. The stuff Harry does is worse than 50 Shades….and this is being marketed to TEENS? I cannot believe what I am reading here. These scenes are making me feel so uncomfortable. And then the comments underneath are all “They HAVE to get through this….they are so right for each other!” This is truly alarming. And what the heck is up with Anna Todd being able to write these scenes? I certainly hope she isn’t speaking from experience here.

        June 10, 2014
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    • OMG! Yes! Even though Tessa does finally wise up and they both acknowledge what a mess their relationship is and take steps to fix it (which never occurs in 0 Shades), the people around her pushing her to stay with him was disgusting. What was wrong with those people??? I think that made me cringe more than anything else in the books.

      June 9, 2014
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  5. Flo
    Flo

    Has all of this attention affected your book sales Jenny? Just curious. I think it’s a shame that you had to write yet another post on this subject because they don’t get it–I think that group has reading comprehension issues. It was fun seeing them get their knickers in a twist though!

    June 9, 2014
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  6. Sophie
    Sophie

    I don’t have much to say about the recaps of After, it’s not something I was particularly invested in, other than I respect your decision and I think it’s really classy that you’ve not let the shits at STGRBs influence your choice. It would have been very easy to let what they think goad you into continuing the recaps, even when you were uncomfortable doing so. The big positive of you discontinuing the recaps is more time for your own writing, which means more awesome books for us to read! It was also interesting to read a little about the start of your life as a published author. You have achieved what for many of us is the ultimate goal, it would be awesome to read more about those experiences.

    I’m trying to get back into writing, because I love doing it and I think I have an interesting story to tell. I also suffer from chronic back pain, which is so bad I am unable to walk without crutches and I have to use a wheelchair outside the house. I also find it very painful to sit up, so sitting at my PC isn’t always possible. I know that you have health problems, including chronic pain, and I was wondering if you had any tips on how you manage such a busy schedule with those obstacles? I know that everyone has their own coping mechanisms, but my current ones don’t seem to be up to the task of writing everyday. I used to just push through the pain, but that didn’t work out very well for me.

    June 9, 2014
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  7. Jenny, you do whatever you need to do. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

    My personal opinion on all this is what I have stated before: It isn’t about the writers or even the publishers; it’s about the readers. I hope that your in-depth, well-thought-out critiques of such terrible books forces some people who buy it to rethink what they’re reading and pushes them to be more discerning about it. I always hope at least one person stumbles upon your blog and becomes more educated about what he or she chooses as reading material and becomes a better critic in his or her own right.

    But all that said, it is not your job to be that catalyst. If you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, you shouldn’t do it. I will miss these recaps, though. I look forward to them every week and they always make me laugh. 🙂

    June 9, 2014
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  8. Cheryl
    Cheryl

    Quick Question: I beleive when you started doing these recaps you mentioned you were first going to go through a book called Beautiful Disaster (or something like that?) Is that still happening?
    P.S. Now that I’ve finished reading After 3 (well as far as I can because she hasn’t updated in a while) I’m just DYING for more. I feel no shame.

    June 9, 2014
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  9. Regina Chapman
    Regina Chapman

    Wow. I admire you very much for your professional and personal integrity on this one. Hope the situation won’t stress you out too much.

    As someone who survived five years of similarly harsh ‘criticism’ in writing school and learned her craft well as a result, I am appalled by the number of people who seem to think that criticism is always a negative thing. If we can’t be critical of anything any more without it being called ‘bullying’ or ‘jealousy’, how can we ever progress in ANY field from now on? I mean, c’mon, people.

    You’re fighting the good fight, Jenny, and I’d hate to see it affect you personally. Take care of yourself and please know that your blog plays a very constructive role in my life and that of many others! I always took your posts as an opportunity to get free writing advice…and good laughs. Thanks again!

    June 9, 2014
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  10. Julianne
    Julianne

    From what I read of After, it was horrible. The story line is trite, the characters are flimsy and the punctuation. If you’re going to write a trite story, at least use close to appropriate punctuation.

    If you aren’t going recap that, it is your choice. I ‘m hoping this means you can get back to more important things like the Buffy recaps.

    June 9, 2014
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  11. SandorClegane13
    SandorClegane13

    I respect your choice not to continue recapping and your reasons behind it. That said, I agree with the commentors on the thread Jamie started; there needs to be in-depth criticism of this piece. If the abuse-as-love and internalized misogyny are as bad as people say, I think it needs to be called out and backed up. Anna Todd being a genuinely nice person may mean that she might actually reflect on her work and learn from the critique, unlike EL James who just stuck her fingers in her ears and yelled ‘lalala not listening!’

    I would need to look into my time budget (as well as actually trying to read the story and see if I can wade through it without losing too many brain cells) but I’m not ruling out taking or helping with such a project. Just have to do some research!

    And on the whole STGRB thing, I just cannot even. The level of hypocrisy and lack of self-reflection in those screencaps made me want to weep battery acid. I’m willing to bet a fair few of them are old enough to be my parent, and the maturity level could be likened to junior high school kids. You handled the situation so well, Jenny. I’ve admired you for quite a while, and this whole debacle did nothing but increase my respect!

    June 9, 2014
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  12. Helen
    Helen

    Hey Jenny, it’s incredibly great of you to take the time tax plain. Your business what you, and only yours

    June 9, 2014
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    • Helen
      Helen

      Typos.. Time to explain – not time tax plain!

      June 9, 2014
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  13. Karlyn
    Karlyn

    Jenny, I just wanted to say I thought you handled this whole situation with such class, and I hope the next victims of the ‘STGRB butt-hurt brigade’ takes a cue from your actions. And sadly, there will be more victims getting bashed by their wild accusations, and them using selective screen shots and pre-screened replies (selected based on their ass kissing value) to ‘prove’ their fallacies.

    Just before your episode they spent a good month bullying two young authors with fabricated “he’s a bully!” and “Here is his IP info, we know where he lives!” crap until these authors eventually ‘apologized’. Watching it go down was horrible, it felt like they were using severe torture methods until their enemy would confess to pretty much anything.

    The STGRB people really have no shame. Just before his apology, one of these authors posted a suicide threat stating he couldn’t take their bullying anymore. It was over the horrible and mocking comments about his illness on their now deleted Facebook page (Yes, I have screen shots of all of this). He even tried to plead his case to Anne Rice, but she just called him a bully and banned him.

    In the end the ‘apologies’ resulted in the offending content being hidden from viewers sight and their names removed from the hit lists, which was ultimately what these young men wanted. I have no doubt the STGRB gang were hoping to break you down too, and I am so glad you stayed strong.

    June 9, 2014
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Hey, do you have those screenshots posted somewhere?

      June 9, 2014
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      • Karlyn
        Karlyn

        I will email them to you with a bit more info, feel free to use them if you want. Give me a few minutes.

        June 9, 2014
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        • Karlyn
          Karlyn

          Just sent them. It wasn’t a suicide threat per se, but many read into his comments as him being pushed to suicidal tendencies. He claimed his family got a death threat, and he had mentioned his depression a few times. (I didn’t have screen shots of the depression comments, but could get them) He was extremely upset over the STGRB bold discussion of his health issues, he felt utterly humiliated (which we can assume was their goal). I explained all in the email.

          June 9, 2014
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    • I never was an Anne Rice fan. I tried reading Interview with the Vampire and I couldn’t get into it at all. And then more recently, because of the 50 Shades craze, so many people recommended the Sleeping Beauty trilogy that I decided to give it a shot and the scene where the Prince beats and anally rapes one of the male sex slaves in front of her was way too much for me so I gave up.

      I follow Amy Tan and Alison Weir on Facebook. There is no drama and they seem as sane as anyone can be, thankfully.

      June 9, 2014
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  14. Jenny, I just want to let you know that I understand exactly how you feel. What you have written in this post is basically what I came away with from the last After post. Every particular circumstance is different, and because I feel a certain way about one incident it isn’t really representative of my attitude toward every single similar issue (recently, I’ve been frustrated about having my points about a specific incident being overgeneralized and misinterpreted, as you can tell). I didn’t think you had suddenly turned anti-critical reviews, just that for your own reasons, you didn’t want to recap After anymore, as is your right.

    Part of the reason I love your blog is that you’re always very straightforward and honest with us as readers. You do you, Jenny.

    June 9, 2014
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  15. pam
    pam

    I’m really glad you are stoping the recaps because I too read all the books and it gets so much worse I was really worried about you, I know how the 50 shades recaps worked at you. At one point in books two I threw up

    June 9, 2014
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  16. lilysm
    lilysm

    I understand why you would want to stop recapping After. It’s not like it’s your responsibility or anything.

    But can I suggest something? That instead of recapping your own first book, you give it to someone else to rip into. Let someone else recap it as if they didn’t know you. I can tell you as a master of self-deprecation that criticising yourself is not at all the same as having someone else criticise you. I don’t know if this move by you to read your own stuff is really helpful… The way you equate the two things suggests you think they involve about the same level of humiliation. They really don’t.

    June 10, 2014
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      If someone else feels like they want to recap my work, that’s fine, but it’s not a job I’m going to ask someone to do. It’s way too much work. Like I said, if someone wants to do it, great, send me links.

      As for the “level of humiliation,” I wasn’t doing the After recaps to humiliate Anna Todd, and I wouldn’t be recapping my own books to humiliate myself in penance. I’m less concerned with “helpful” and more concerned with “funny.” 😀

      June 10, 2014
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      • lilysm
        lilysm

        …but you said:

        “One of the charges alleged during the 50 Shades of Grey and After recaps was that I wouldn’t feel so great if someone did that to me. Fair enough. Starting in the first week of July, I’ll be recapping my first book, Blood Ties Book One: The Turning, chapter by chapter. ”

        I’m trying to say that the slightly cringey feeling of criticising your own work does not equate to the feeling of someone else taking it apart and making fun of it line by line. If you want to recap your own book just for the lols then great, I just don’t think the reasoning you gave there makes any sense.

        (And I do believe authors should be able to deal with reasonable criticism, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. But it does often feel humiliating, that’s just something you have to deal with as any person who puts their work out there.)

        June 11, 2014
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        • Lieke
          Lieke

          I think that Jenny is perfectly capable of being hard on herself and recognising themes and situations in her own writing that are problematic. Yeah, having someone else tear her work apart would be different, but I don’t think that it would necessarily be more ‘humiliating.’ In a way, it would just be less work for Jenny. Plus, I think analysing her own work will be infinitely more interesting.

          I also don’t think Jenny is doing this in response to the STGRB. She’s not trying to prove a point or counter one of their stupid claims. She simply didn’t want to continue recapping After and that meant that there was an opening to recap something else. When she read one of the STGRB charges (namely the one about not liking it if someone was criticising her work) that gave her the idea to spork Blood Ties. Just my reconstruction of how this probably came about.

          June 12, 2014
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  17. Ilex
    Ilex

    I’ve been wondering — and this may be a bit scattered-sounding, but I think it all goes together:

    Are there any books or publishing deals by men receiving the same level of mocking as Twilight, Fifty Shades, After, and whatever descendant of After is due to become The Next Big Thing? Are any stories by men seen as being this problematic regarding women and relationships, or do the stories in question seem so problematic precisely because they are BY women and ABOUT women/girls? (The only book by a male author that I’m aware of that has gotten any kind of similar treatment is September Girls, a YA novel by Bennett Madison — take a look at all the 1-star reviews on Goodreads.)

    I personally read a lot more books by female authors, and of course romance is dominated by women writers. But now I’m going to have to start paying better attention to see if I’m giving male authors some kind of free pass regarding their portrayal of relationships and ‘what women want,’ and whether I hold women to a higher standard regarding presentations of women and girls in stories. (In line with this, Jenny, you’ve done a great job of treating Joss Whedon-created Buffy consistently with your critiques of troublesome female-created books.)

    And — are there any published, top-selling books by any male authors that are as badly-written as Fifty Shades and After (the latter in its current form)? Or is this also limited to women writing books aimed at women? (Which is kind of disturbing …)

    June 10, 2014
    |Reply
    • Ange
      Ange

      Well, I personally find Dan Brown to be an awful writer, but obviously many people disagree with me.

      As far as the writing about relationships goes, my recollection of what I’ve read is that often the women are just there as objects – i.e. do “x”, impress/rescue the woman, sexyfuntimes ensue. Of course, I read largely fantasy/scifi, which can be very prone to portraying womaen purely as sex objects (the worst example of this I know of is the Gor books, which are the only books anyone in my family has ever thrown in the trash, as none of us could bring ourselves to pass them on to anyone).

      The books I have read by male authors which are primarily about relationships have mostly been about dysfunctional relationships – e.g. married couple’s relationship is crumbling, so it’s not so much about what women want, but more about what men want to escape from, if that makes any sense. I cannot of course bring any examples to mind at the moment, and in fact all the ones that I can think of are written by women.

      Personally I find that rather than giving male authors a free pass, I’m picking this up more and more in books from male and female authors, to the extent that some books that I loved when I was younger I can hardly bear to read now, which is kind of annoying.

      June 10, 2014
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    • Cody
      Cody

      I personally think John Green’s books are nails-on chalkboard bad when it comes to style and portrayal of female characters. Someone is sporking The Fault in Our Stars over at Das Sporking right now and they do a good job of pointing out Green’s faux-feminism failures.

      June 10, 2014
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      • Ilex
        Ilex

        Someone is actually having the nerve to spork The Fault in Our Stars? I bow before them!

        Do you think someone can appreciate the spork if they haven’t read the book? I personally avoid cancer books because (a) I just don’t like the subject (maybe it’s easier to handle if you don’t know anyone who died of cancer?), and (b) it’s too easy for those kinds of books to be a bit emotionally manipulative. So I’m not sure I’ll ever read TFIOS, even though as a YA writer myself I often think I should read it just to find out what the “magic” is.

        June 11, 2014
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        • Cody
          Cody

          I hadn’t heard of John Green or TFIOS before reading the spork but have been devouring every post. The sporker does actually talk about both points you made, especially how emotionally manipulative TFIOS is. I honestly can’t bring myself to read the actual book, since there’s a scene about halfway (?) through where the romantic leads have a big romantic showstopper kiss… in the middle of the Anne Frank House. And everyone around them starts clapping and cheering and patting them on the back. I shit you not.

          June 11, 2014
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          • Ilex
            Ilex

            I’ll check the sporks out, then!

            And a kiss in the Anne Frank house — getting cheers? That’s either really gutsy or really inappropriate … I certainly don’t think anyone kissing in the Holocaust Memorial in Boston would get that reaction, that’s for sure.

            June 14, 2014
    • Angie
      Angie

      Terry Goodkind gets a lot of mocking. But maybe not quite to the degree as those you mention above.

      June 10, 2014
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    • Stella
      Stella

      I read a terrible book a while ago by a man (Gary Stu protagonist, dull prose, moments of outrageous sexism) but even that was nowhere near as bad as Fifty and After. I feel sure the equivalents are out there—maybe in genres that would be considered niche for a male readership; this was a mainstream crime thriller—but I have yet to come across one.

      I thought about sparking/recapping that book, but I don’t have the readership and it doesn’t have the profile.

      June 11, 2014
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    • Stella
      Stella

      Apparently the recent megahit (in the UK, at least) Stoner is terrrrrrrrible and has an awful portrayal of a marriage. Some of the one-star Amazon reviews sound familiar:

      “The [sic] were sentences involving two male characters, for example, and both were referred to using pronouns. It soon becomes very confusing which character was ‘he’ and which one is ‘him’, and that to me is bad writing at a very basic level.”

      “It contains the most ludicrous depiction of female sexuality I have ever come across in fiction and the ancillary characters often seemed to be little more than plot devices for making Stoner’s life a misery.”

      “Loser has sad and generally miserable life. Finds some solace in academic study and a brief affair. Dies. His two antagonists both have physical disabilities. That’s it.”

      “This novel has no humanity and little grasp of the human condition. It is as though it were written by someone observing humanity from the wrong end of a telescope.”

      June 11, 2014
      |Reply
      • Ilex
        Ilex

        Maybe one of us should recap that! I don’t have the time to do it, but I’d follow anyone who did.

        June 14, 2014
        |Reply
      • Lieke
        Lieke

        In defence of Stoner, I read it and didn’t think it was bad. It wasn’t to my taste because the protagonist was so incredibly passive and I can’t stand that in people. His passivity was kind of his strength too, though. He didn’t engage and he didn’t really get mad. He was just able to let things slide off, which (in a way that even I can appreciate) is impressive.

        And, yes, the marriage was awful, but it was depicted as awful. His wife was barely there in the beginning of the marriage and then she behaved like his enemy. Their relationship is absolutely awful, but it is not presented as some true love, fairy tale romance.

        I don’t think the book is dumb or offensive enough to make for an entertaining spork. Just my two cents.

        June 14, 2014
        |Reply
  18. BuenaSuerte
    BuenaSuerte

    I think you’re just swell, Ms. Trout. Whenever you make a blog post it’s like tiny Christmas. Keep yer pecker up!

    June 11, 2014
    |Reply
  19. OK, OK. I am not going to push you to take up the After recaps again, but, really, you’re doing the world a favor! I mean, come on! This is a DIRECT QUOTE from the most recent chapter:

    “The air is dry and humid.”

    June 11, 2014
    |Reply
    • Emma
      Emma

      She probably meant “hot and humid.” LOL. The editors will get it before it is published.

      Melissa Douthit is the one attacking in a jealous rage as green as her blog, but she is also FAKE and disguises her attacks on successful authors as something else. I mean you are a very successful author and so are the other Wattpad authors she attacked recently. It is Melissa Douthit’s JEALOUSY even though she hides it.

      Maybe you should do a recap of one of Douthit’s books.

      June 12, 2014
      |Reply
      • I’ve read every word of those “books.” Someone else I might give the benefit of the doubt, but I am guessing she doesn’t know what one of those words mean. I just don’t know which has confused her.

        June 12, 2014
        |Reply
      • Lavender
        Lavender

        “The editors will get it before it is published.”

        Bahaha. Have you read Twilight and 50 Shades? The editors on those either fell asleep or possibly lost the will to live after a couple of pages, and just turned them in anyway. There is no other possible reason for 90% of the writing in those books.

        June 12, 2014
        |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      I do feel for the person who’s going to edit this.

      June 12, 2014
      |Reply
      • I posted that on Facebook and a friend said her son used to ask for a hot and cold bath (lukewarm). She concluded that Anna Todd writes like a 5-year-old.

        June 12, 2014
        |Reply
        • Flo
          Flo

          Renee, what did you think of the most recent chapter overall? I have to say that I was thinking “seriously, this is the dumbest thing ever”, especially the first half–what does it half to do with the conclusion of the book?!?! And her comments–is she shooting for a sympathy ploy or something? I’m starting to have some doubts about who she is (or claims she is)–it just didn’t sit well with me.

          June 12, 2014
          |Reply
          • Flo
            Flo

            Have, not half–geesh! Damned auto correct.

            June 12, 2014
          • She was using the first part to tie up loose ends. I give her some credit for that because they were things I was wondering about — what Zayn had to do with that professor, for example. But she did a terrible job at tying them up, too, because Zayn was supposedly at that club to see a good friend or something play in the band, but according to this chapter, the prof hated Zayn? And it seemed like she was going somewhere with the prof and Tessa and she just dropped that, too. At least she made an attempt.

            As far as the “book,” though, I started reading it only because Jenny was recapping and it’s easier to follow recaps when you’ve read something. I also don’t think it’s right to trash something you haven’t experienced first-hand. By the time she decided not to recap anymore, I’d read through chapter 293 and at this point, there’s no reason not to at least finish. But I’m struggling because the story is so dull on top of the bad writing. I almost quit a few times even before now because I just can’t care about these characters or what boring thing they’re going to do next. Reading the same fight over and over and then reading how perfect they are for each other and how she saved him and how they’re just so much better than everyone else, blah, blah, blah. Dull City.

            As far as who Anna Todd says she is, I have no way to know. I have a really hard time believing her claim of having attended college unless it was all online because she knows absolutely nothing about how a real live university functions. I get schools differ from each other in some ways (non-local freshmen living off campus, for example), but things like class schedules and being allowed countless absences — especially when you’re there on scholarship! — are pretty universal within the United States. And the whole thing with the internship was bizarre and beyond unrealistic. I just couldn’t buy it, even when she explained it away as what’s-his-face being a family friend and all of that.

            She did manage to tug on my heart a bit with the stuff about her husband being in Iraq. I have a soft spot for service members and if that’s true, I feel a little better about her getting a book deal. lol I still don’t like it and I still hate that there don’t seem to be any standards anymore, but at least she deserves it more than EL James did.

            There is a National Guard base in Austin (I believe that’s where she lives). I looked it up and I don’t see any full-time bases in the area, but he could be in the Reserves or she could have opted to live near her family due to his long deployments and not moved to a base. I really haven’t seen anything that’s a red flag that she’s lying about herself. And I can’t say if I were in her position I would have turned down that money. I’m just very sad and a little angry that the offer was made, and more so that so many people are reading and loving it. Of course, reading the comments, it seems they aren’t exactly a highly literate crowd.

            June 12, 2014
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      I’m only buying dry AND humid if the book is set in Michigan. This is the only place that could happen.

      June 14, 2014
      |Reply
  20. Queen Mab
    Queen Mab

    Jenny, do what you feel is best for YOU. I will miss the After recaps though.

    May I suggest a different book for you to recap? How about Rebels: City of Indra: The Story of Lex and Livia by Kendall & Kylie Jenner? It has been getting A LOT of one star reviews–perhaps recap that book and give them tips on how it should have been written. I know they’re teenagers…and probably had a ghostwriter for that book…but a book with two colons in the title needs some help.

    June 11, 2014
    |Reply
  21. Lavender
    Lavender

    It’s disappointing and I’ll miss the recaps, but in the end you have to do what you feel is right jenny 🙂

    I do wanna say though – it’s not like Anna Todd had to accept that publishing deal. It was a choice. A lot of the defense about Twilight and 50 Shades involved people saying ‘but the author only wrote for her own amusement, she never intended it to be critiqued, and she never intended her characters to be role models blah blah blah…’ They make it sound as though the authors innocently, privately daydreamed these characters and then the big meany publishers snatched their stories one night and leaked them to the world without the author’s permission!

    Sorry, but once you sign on the dotted line you take responsibility for your content. You take responsibility if it’s misogynistic, horribly written, and/or plagiarised. You take responsibility because it may have started out for your own enjoyment, but you have now chosen to put it out there in the world in a professional format and make a 6 figure salary from it.

    I withhold judgement for now because ‘After’ hasn’t come out professionally yet; what we see is the first draft version, and first drafts suck. Fair enough. But if the final version is still misogynistic, horribly written and/or plagiarised then she’ll have no more ‘but it blew up! she wrote it for fun and didn’t expect it to blow up!’ cover to hide behind.

    This is the girl who declares that she doesn’t edit as if that’s something to be proud of. She might be the loveliest person in the world but that right there is an awful attitude for a writer to have, and getting a publishing deal on the merits of something this crappy is negative reinforcement for both her learning process and her ego.

    (Also – I’m 25. 25 is definitely old enough to know better.)

    June 12, 2014
    |Reply
  22. Amber
    Amber

    Jenny, your blog means so much to me. I work in a very stressful place right now – started two weeks ago – actually, at a big fiction publisher – and I have to hold back so much, so it is a huge relief to read your honest and to the point posts. I want to read them during my lunch break but turns out I can’t access your site because of adult content … and that at a publisher where we publish erotic romance, for Christ’s sake – so I read them on my phone. I am so looking forward to reading your critique of your own book – I learn a lot there and it’s so much fun, too!

    June 13, 2014
    |Reply
  23. Flix
    Flix

    Let me start off by stating that I completely respect your decision to stop recapping. Kudos for sticking to your ideals even if you knew from the getgo that they would have been minsinterpreted by those awful people.

    That said, I found Anna Todd to be one of the most frustrating authors I have ever encountered (and I have 15 years of bad fanfic under the belt). At one point she threatens to withold posts unless each chapter reaches a minimum of n comments. Now, I understant wanting recognition for your hard work but… holding a fic hostage?! COME ON! That’s just bad form!

    I was most looking forward to reading your recaps of those parts written in Harry’s POV as they reach a level of terrifying I had never encountered before. Christian Grey’s behaviour is abusive but you don’t actually know what is going through his mind while he’s douche-ing. With After you actually READ Harry excusing his actions and outright lying, deceiving and manipulating without the slightest hint of remorse. It was infuriating, to say the least.
    I do believe these stories need to be analysed and discussed at length by someone willing to forego their sanity. SOCIETY NEEDS THIS!
    I understand you foregoing the project since it would have been a conflicting endevour, but is someone else willing to pick up the mantle?

    June 14, 2014
    |Reply
    • Oh yeah! I totally forgot about the vote/comment extortion incidents.

      June 14, 2014
      |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        I HAAAAAAAATE when ficcers hold their stories hostage for comments. Like, either you want to write the thing, or you don’t.

        June 14, 2014
        |Reply
    • Flo
      Flo

      Here’s a question for those who would be interested in continuing our discussion of this “book” (I use the term lightly!)–how many people do we have who are actually reading or have read it through to the end? Reason I ask is if we had enough people who have, perhaps instead of one person shouldering the entire responsibility of doing the recaps, several could take turns. It’s just a thought, I would be willing to do some of it, but I’m not a professional writer (nor do I play one on TV) and just don’t have time to devote to doing the entire thing. We could do it in a similar style with covering multiple chapters at a time. I know it would NEVER be anywhere near as good as what Jenny has done, but it seems like there are quite a few here that would like to continue the discussion. Talk amongst yourselves, I’m getting verklempt!

      June 14, 2014
      |Reply
      • I think this is a great idea, but I don’t think I could bring the humor to it that Jenny has.

        June 14, 2014
        |Reply
  24. Flo
    Flo

    You guys have to check this out, it was actually posted about in the comments section of After–be sure to read her disclaimer and how she was treated!

    June 14, 2014
    |Reply
    • spockchick
      spockchick

      Is she high?

      June 14, 2014
      |Reply
    • Flix
      Flix

      Ok, did I get that right? Did Anna Todd pull an E.L. James with regards to addressing abusive situations in her work? Some of the links don’t work on my puttering pc…

      June 14, 2014
      |Reply
      • That’s the claim here.

        And she’s not high. She explains that she went until about 4 am with this.

        June 14, 2014
        |Reply
        • Flo
          Flo

          Keep in mind, she’s only 14 too. I had a nice chat with her on Twitter and she is a sweet girl with her head screwed on right. The video is only an hour and fifteen minutes, but she taped quite a bit and edited some. She’s a typical teen, just more aware than average. She wants to be a writer someday.

          June 14, 2014
          |Reply
        • spockchick
          spockchick

          I’m not from the US so I guess her manner is not something I’m overly familiar with. It’s great that she is thinking about this because most of the target audience for this won’t give it a second thought and might stumble upon her video.

          In my personal opinion, and YMMV, I find RPF disturbing. Not only is this book about a real person, but the author is imposing a personality upon him that is not his own. The smashing-the-place-up is a troublesome and naive way of portraying ‘depth’. I don’t think this series will be the blockbuster that 50sog was but I could be wrong.

          June 15, 2014
          |Reply
    • People are calling her a cyber bully and saying what she says in the video is illegal. Good grief. People don’t know what bullying is anymore.

      June 15, 2014
      |Reply
      • Flo
        Flo

        Yeah, the one gal didn’t like what I had to say about it either. Good grief is right.

        June 16, 2014
        |Reply
        • The thing that confuses me is that Anna Todd is supposedly a huge 1D fan (which, at 25 years old, is really gross and inappropriate) but she wrote this whole long story where all but one of them is a huge asshole. Even Louis and Niall, who are kind of innocuous in the story, are still kind of assholes. And they hand out with really awful girls and forgive unforgivable acts.

          My boy band phase was New Kids on the Block and while that was way before fan fiction was a huge Internet thing (because the Internet wasn’t really a thing yet), I wrote stories about them. And they were always really awesome people in my stories — because I liked them. I have been confused from the beginning of this After thing because Anna Todd really seems not to like 1D very much, based on the way she characterized them.

          June 16, 2014
          |Reply
          • Flo
            Flo

            I’ve kind of wondered that myself. Have you seen the pics where she Photoshops herself in to pictures with him? Creepy! I would expect that kind of behavior from a teen, but not a married 25 year old. I was married at 24 and can’t even imagine doing this kind of stuff, I was more worried about working, paying the bills and keeping my head above water.

            I’m really old–the closest thing my friends and I came to a boy band was The Osmonds!!!

            June 16, 2014
          • LOL

            I’m not quite that old, I guess, but NKOTB wasn’t exactly just yesterday. 🙂 At the same time, I was obsessed with them when I was 13 and in seventh grade. By the time I got to the end of eighth grade, I was over it.

            I saw some shots of her photoshopped in, but I think they were from her “fans.” I didn’t look that closely, though. That really is sad. I mean, I’d totally leave my fiance in a heartbeat for Mike Rowe, but I haven’t stuck myself into any pictures with him.

            June 16, 2014
  25. Ilex
    Ilex

    Duran Duran for me. 🙂 It never occurred to me to write any fanfic about them, but I did write a couple of stories inspired by imagery from their songs.

    June 16, 2014
    |Reply
    • Flo
      Flo

      I think I was about 10 or 11 when I was in to the Osmonds. I can’t remember being all crazy about a band after that in quite the way the 1d followers are. I liked so many different groups, it was hard to pick just one. Mike Rowe though–wouldn’t throw him out of bed either! And Duran Duran, ah, John Taylor was my favorite. When I was 25 I was drooling over men, not boys–Ken Wahl, hubba hubba!!!

      June 16, 2014
      |Reply
  26. Ilex
    Ilex

    Me, too, for John Taylor!! My best groupie friend was hot for Nick Rhodes, so at least we weren’t ‘fighting’ for the same guy.

    I might have gone for reading the AFTER kind of fanfic if it had been available about Duran Duran, but not if it made them all out to be jerks. And you make a good point about going for men — the guys in DD were all older than me, not five years younger, as those 1D guys are for Anna Todd.

    June 16, 2014
    |Reply
  27. Flix
    Flix

    It was the Backstreet Boys for me… And I wrote terrible, terrible self-insert fanfiction wherein they all fell in love with me *hides* . In my defence I was 13 at the time and never dreamt of posting any of it in the limited but budding fanfic communities online. The bad boy/jerk characters didn’t do it for me though. I liked my boys emotionally wounded and angsty, yes, but morally decent and charming. The real charming, though. Not the abusive behaviour that passes for endearing in After and in 50SoG.

    June 17, 2014
    |Reply
  28. Flo
    Flo

    Did any of you realize that Anna Todd has the bird tattoos on her like Harry has? I stumbled across a picture of her a while ago that showed them, and I thought it was a joke/photo manipulation. Now I’ve seen several pics of her in different outfits and they are still there. I don’t have anything against tattoos, but…nevermind! (*shakes head*)

    June 18, 2014
    |Reply

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