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No Crave Post This Week

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Hey yous all, my dog died and i finally got an appointment for my second dose of the vaccine (they ran out of Moderna, so I had to wait until they got some), so I gotta postpone this week’s Crave post because I know after they stick me with that Dolly Juice, I’m gonna be down for the count and because tomorrow will be a total wash because we live way out in the middle of nowhere and it’s like an hour to get to the crematorium for the dog. I guess in the meantime, rock out with your cocks out? IDK this has been a wild week and it’s only Tuesday.

State of The Trout: The Retirement of Abigail Barnette

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This is my fourth attempt to write this post. The first one blew up bridges. The second was nuclear assault. The third was a little more measured and reasonable. I flirted with the idea of posting all of them, choose-your-own-adventure style: if you want to choose the high road, click here. To plunge into the fiery abyss of Jenny’s contempt, click here. But then I stopped and thought to myself:

I have so much awesome stuff going on in my life right now. I’m so blessed to be doing the things that I love. Why talk about people who aren’t included in that? This week, I’m launching some merch (I love how douchey that sounds. Merch.), I’ve got a video to post, a new recap to deliver, I’m finally crawling out of my grief pit a little bit, I’m half vaccinated…why burn a bridge I’m sure as hell not going to accidentally wander back down? But changes must be made.

As you can see from the title of this post, I am retiring Abigail Barnette. For a few reasons. I don’t need to comment on my views regarding the power of cis white woman tears in the ‘landia. I’ve referenced Mean Girls to describe the hierarchy of the industry but after Dudley only got twenty-six presents last week, it’s beginning to look a lot like MAGA. There are so many people trying to genuinely do good, even some of the people I find insufferable. And I wish those people well. But the hypocrisy of others, the entitlement and gatekeeping and diet social justice branding, the openly unethical actions and outright lies, it’s just…so tiring. And it’s really soured my experience as a romance author. I’m just not enjoying myself anymore. I don’t begrudge anyone their success; I actually have a lot of respect for con artists, if they’re good con artists. And I’ve seen so many incredible feats of manipulation and gaslighting in my time writing romance, made by incredibly successful people.

I’ve also seen some of the best, nicest, and most honest people have magical things happen for them. And I’ve made some great friendships, with authors and readers alike. Romance has always been a great love of mine. But I never meant to be a romance writer. My traditionally published books aren’t romances, they were just published by Harlequin and because romance readers are such big cross-genre readers, I did a lot of romance conventions and collaborations with romance authors. My writer friends were all romance writers. All of the fanfiction I wrote was romance. When I switched to writing and editing romance, it ended up being the worst move of my career. It killed my hobby writing and reading and made all of it a homework assignment. The pace, the environment, the intra-genre politics, all of it has burned me out. So, Abigail Barnette must retire.

I know this will come as a disappointment to readers waiting for a fourth Ian and Penny book. I had explored other avenues of continuing that series with new writers and I was in talks for about a year on that but ultimately a deal wasn’t reached. But when I look back on the end of Baby Makes Three, it feels like their happily ever after already happened. Everyone’s loose ends are tied up, except for one. That’s Danny’s book. I’ve had a perspective change on priest romances. I don’t think anyone is terrible for writing them or reading them, believe me. Priests are just not a subject I want to think about for reasons involving recent charges against a favorite one from high school. I won’t get into it because it’s a sensitive subject for a lot of people, I just wanted you all to be aware that his book wouldn’t have been happening regardless.

This isn’t me quitting fiction; as much as I would love to blog full time, I wouldn’t love to blog full time. I really like writing. I’m going to go back to the fantasy/urban fantasy I started with, and I’m still going forward with dark paranormal erotica/erotic horror as Jennifer Morningstar. So, upcoming releases like In The Blood and Queen of Hell aren’t affected by this shift. I’ll also be pursuing traditional publishing with future fantasy projects. Self-publishing requires more executive function than I’ve had for a while. But that’s quite a way out.

Do I believe that other genres are any better when it comes to petty squabbles and unethical behavior? Absolutely not. Where there be people, there…there shall ye find assholes. But at least they’ll be different assholes. And maybe that’ll make me less of an asshole?

State of the Trout: THE TROUTMART COMETH

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If you follow me on Twitter, you may already know that I’m planning to launch some merch. Why? Because why the hell not? That’s why next week, on Saturday, May 8th, Troutmart will have its grand opening! And today, I’m gonna give you all the information I have for you right now.

Show us pics of the merch! Certainly, friend! I’ve got something for everyone (who reads this blog and gets the inside jokes)!

Thirsty? How about this official Jealous Haters Book Club tumbler?

my hand holding a stainless steel tumbler with the words "Jealous Haters Book Club" repeated on it in various shades of gray

It’s steel, with text in multiple shades of…monochrome.

Are you cold? You could cozy up in an awesome hoodie:

A close of a hoodie, with the collar and string things showing. Jealous Haters Book Club is printed multiple times in a column, again in varying shades of gray

 

Or maybe you’re not a Jealous Hater? Maybe you’re more the cum-burping gutter-slut type? Again, I’ve got you covered with leggings and t-shirts in so many awesome colors so you can really clash if you want to. Here are just two of the aforementioned colors:

bright turquoise fabric over purple fabric. Both pieces have "C.B.G.S."  in an '80s-esque font in hot pink.

Now, brace yourselves, because the all-over print logo is only available in the United States. But don’t fret! Though I don’t have a photo of it, the same logo will be available on t-shirts and hoodies (you’ll see those on Saturday).

There are other products and colors (or shades of…monochrome) that I just didn’t photograph because there are gonna be photos on the store itself and it just seemed like overkill to post pictures of everything.

But that’s only two designs. That’s not really a store, Jenny. Well, hold your horses, lil’ reader, because I’ve spent a lot of time on a lot of different designs getting ready to launch this thing. As a result, there will be one or two merch drops per month that will stay in the store forever, and occasionally there will be limited edition exclusives. This gives me a chance to not only plug my merch everywhere, every month, like some kind of manic salesperson of intensely strange wares but also to have time to get samples of the product so I know I’m only passing on quality stuff to you. The schedule for the rest of this year looks like:

JUNE:

 

JULY:

AUGUST:

  • “Scambook for Haters,” celebrating five beautiful years since Lanizade published whatever the hell that was
  • an original drawing off a neat animal I like that will remain a surprise for a while

SEPTEMBER:

  • TBA spooky thing
  • TBA spooky thing
  • Limited Edition: “Trout-o-ween” and “Trick-or-Trout” and all of these are Halloween designs so you can get your spoopywear in advance of skeleton season

 

OCTOBER:

  • “Nightmare Born” and “Queen of Hell” shirts to mercilessly promote my series

 

NOVEMBER:

  • “With God as my witness…” I’ve been posting the same WKRP in Cincinnati fan art on my private FB every year for my family and friends and somebody said, “You should make that into a t-shirt” so I looked up the legal protections of fan art as transformative works and we’re good to go.
  • “Beautiful Penis in the Moonlight,” an original work by moi (will probably be poster/canvas only but let’s see how this shakes out)

 

DECEMBER:

  • “Mister Jealous” for those of you longing for the stereotypically backasswards imaginary Albania Erika made up in her head
  • Limited Edition holiday design I haven’t decided to go with yet but it will probably be a dragon because dragons are neat

 

Wow! That’s a lot of work. And you already do a lot of work and you fall behind all the time. Aren’t you taking too much on? Why no, dear reader! Though the first two designs are text-based, the rest of them incorporate art, a thing I already like to do. And I don’t feel like this is “monetizing a hobby” so much as it’s having fun and drawing and being visually creative, which is a great outlet for me.

These prices seem steep (you say on Saturday)Print on demand. I don’t know what to tell ya. At least they’re not concert tee prices?

What about sizing? Because it’s print-on-demand, my options for finding inclusive sizing were…not so great. For example, the leggings? Those are for straight sizes only. Some styles of the shirts only go up to XXL. Some products do go up to 5X, and I’ll be sure to always include those. And if you’re just not down with clothes, I’ll always have some non-clothing items available, as well.

I hope this answered most of the questions I thought you would have.

Sincerely,
Trout
XOXOXO

P.S.: There will be another State of the Trout announcement next week that’s also gonna be pretty important and a Crave recap.

The Queen Is Dead; Long Live The Queen

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In 2006, I got a cat. She was the runt of the litter, the tiniest little thing.

When I went to pick her up from “Cathy” (the fake name I use to refer to the worst person I’ve ever met, who I’ve written about before), she said, “Now the other kittens can come downstairs.”

In a litter of four, the smallest one had been afraid to try the stairs. And she’d made sure her littermates weren’t going to try them, either.

I have a very strong belief in the importance and power of names. For example, if you ask me if I want to pet your German Shepherd, Loki, the answer is going to be absolutely not and I’m sorry about your furniture. You thought it was funny to name your Great Dane “Tiny,” but now that he thinks he’s Chihuahua-sized and wants to sit in your lap it’s not so clever, is it? Our children named our dog Coraline; she runs away at night. We once had a pair of kittens we named Fred and George. J.K. wrote that final book and bam, Fred died of a saddle embolism, the avada kedavra of the cat world. Names are important, so when Cathy handed me this kitten and said, “Her name is Deidre,” I was like fuck that. In mythology, Deidre brought sorrow to everyone she loved and I wasn’t keen to invite that energy into the house.

Turns out, I didn’t get a choice in what to name the cat. I brought the hissing, crying baby home and took her to my office, a room away from everything where she could slowly get used to her surroundings. I put her down, showed her where the litter box was, put food and water nearby, all while she growled and raised the hair on her back and lurked under my desk. I decided to back off, to go into the living room and give her space. I sat down and turned on the television and…

mew.

It was an angry mew, too. The tiny little kitten was standing in my hallway, loudly yowling for attention. I stood and she turned to go back to the office. I sat back down. She turned around again and angry-mewed.

She didn’t want me to interact with her, but she wanted me to keep trying.

After thirty minutes of confused groveling on my part, she strutted out from beneath my desk to wander around the house and complain loudly about everything she didn’t like. The television, for example, was scary and confusing. It had to go. The toilet was dangerous, so the bathroom door had to be closed. And there was something just wrong about where I’d put my beer on the coffee table. It looked better on the floor. When it came time to sleep, I put her on the end of the bed and got in, careful not to disturb her.

But I’d gotten it all wrong! She didn’t belong at the end of the bed like a common dog. She belonged on my pillow, on the top of my head, in my hair.

That went on for roughly her entire life. And even from that first night, my hair was never clean enough. Just washed it? Smells like shampoo. Needs to smell like cat breath. Came home from the bar back in 2006 when people could still smoke inside? Oh, my foolish, naughty human. But it was that first night, those first disparaging mews that let me know how unworthy was I to stand in her presence that I realized I would never, ever be good enough to be on a first-name basis with this cat.

So, we called her Her Majesty.

At the vet, they would say, “Oh, hello Her Majesty,” and I would sheepishly explain that it wasn’t her name, but her title, so the appropriate address was Your Majesty.

During my very last phone call with the vet, he said, “I’m calling about…Her Majesty? Is that right?” I confirmed and he muttered to himself, “That’s about right.”

Despite being in the very last hours of her life, she still demanded royal treatment.

Because of her small size, Her Majesty couldn’t be spayed before she went into heat the first time. Despite every precaution, she managed to slip past us, out the door, and it was all over. She became a teen mom to a brood of half-Maine Coon kittens from the intact tom that wandered the neighborhood. We never did manage to get him into family court.

As the birth approached, the vet told us to make a quiet, safe place for her, away from the main living areas, where she could go and be alone and feel safe. That’s what cats do, they explained. I was to check on her, but not too often, as cats often sneak off to give birth on their own, and if I disturbed her too much she might move somewhere I wouldn’t be able to monitor her.

Though Her Majesty thoroughly enjoyed lazing in the nesting box we arranged for her in my office (easily the least chaotic room in our home), when the time for the royal litter arrived she demanded a change of venue.

She preferred to give birth on the floor of my four-year-old’s toy closet. You know. Where anyone would want to be totally vulnerable.

I tried to move her, but after the third time, I gave up. I let her go into the closet and resigned myself to weeks of nail-biting terror as I tried to protect precious, delicate new lives from an affectionate pre-schooler. I brought the towels and blanket from the nesting box and got her all good and ready to ruin our floor. Then, I turned the light off and left the door half-open and resigned myself to a long, nervous wait. I knew I couldn’t disturb her further, so I turned the tv off and switched to a book.

Her Majesty came back to the living room, meowing furiously. Her cute little mew had lasted all of three weeks before it had turned into the most pissed-off sound any animal has ever made. But now, it was mad and in a hurry. She forced me to sit with her in the closet while she labored. I had to be completely motionless. If I shifted even a little bit, she would bite me. If I tried to leave, she would try to follow me.

So I had to sit and watch what was objectively the grossest thing I’ve ever seen. And I used to take people to the morgue.

She had five beautiful kittens, the care of which she found tedious at best. Our Springer Spaniel, Tucker, was selected to be the royal nanny. He didn’t apply for the job. He did not want it or anything to do with the kittens, who sent him into a state of trembling, farting terror. Which I understood; imagine you’re a dog who lives with a mean cat, and suddenly the cat multiplies. That’s a new and terrifying power. But day after day, when the kittens were finished nursing, Her Majesty brought the kittens to Tucker, who would lay motionless but for the panicked flicking of his eyelids as he signaled to us in morse code for help. And she went off and did whatever she wanted to.

The dining room window is Her Majesty’s window. As in, only Her Majesty is allowed to look through that window. If you don’t obey, you get a scratch.

When offering Her Majesty catnip or treats, one does not simply shake an amount onto the floor and call the task done. Nay, one must wait until the offering has been inspected and is indeed sufficient. Her Majesty decides what is enough.

My husband once asked why I let Her Majesty kiss me by booping her nose on my mouth. “We are best friends!” I shrieked in outrage. “I was her labor coach!” I don’t think my family truly understood why I loved Her Majesty so much because, despite their best efforts, she treated them all like garbage. She adored the kids…when they were little. Once they turned ten, she lost all interest. Though she loved to use my husband as furniture while he slept, she spent much of her time with him glaring accusingly. He referred to her as Lady Cuntington. She never referred to him, at all.

Her Majesty could talk. At least, I talked to her and she made noises back and that was enough conversation for me. We talked about a lot of stuff. Once, I tried to explain lizards to her until she walked out of the room. Another time, I asked her why the fuck she wasn’t helping while I tried to chase a bat out of the house. She stood up, stretched, made a big show of yawning, and moved to a different position to go back to sleep. Her Majesty did not catch mice. And she found the movie Cats offensive.

This was her default facial expression:

Her Majesty is a fluffy tiger cat who looks both offended and bored. She's laying in a recliner covered in claw marks, in our clean laundry.

Her Majesty died on March 30, 2021, after a sudden decline in her health. On Thursday, she walked with a little hitch in her giddyup, but nothing serious. I thought I’d keep an eye on it and call the vet. She came into my room that night and slept on my head, for the first time in a long time. Friday, she was sleepy and not interested in her food. I called the vet and took the earliest appointment they had on Monday. But Her Majesty got worse. She went from not being interested in her food to not being interested in treats by Saturday night. Sunday, she sat quietly by herself all day long. I held her in my lap and Mr. Jen offered her some chicken broth to get her to eat, but she turned her head away.

She still wanted the water bowl refreshed and the surface of the food undented. And she still wanted to be offered treats. So she could decline them.

After a night at the cat hospital, I got the call. Her Majesty’s white cell count and blood sugar were through the roof. She’d been diabetic, but we hadn’t noticed the symptoms. Her dry skin, I chalked up to the fact that she’d always had acne, to the point that she’d been on steroids and antibiotics for it on and off through her adult years. As a senior cat, she put on weight. Diabetic cats lose weight. There was never a noticeable increase in her thirst, but because we have dogs, there are multiple sources of water in the house, so it’s possible that she could have increased her intake. Because she’d been hospitalized several times for a bladder issue that required surgery, I always checked the litter box to make sure she was peeing, and everything seemed like normal cat pee in usual amounts. By the time her symptoms were noticeable, it was Thursday, and it was too late.

I guess I should feel like I failed her for not seeing it. At the same time, I can’t say for sure that she wanted me to know. She’d never been shy about telling anyone anything. Maybe she just decided that she had graced me with her presence for fifteen years, and that was more than enough for an undeserving mortal like me.

It was just me and her in the room after the vet gave Her Majesty the euthanasia shots. I kissed her nose and held her and petted her. I played “God Save The Queen,” the real version, not the cool punk rock version, on my phone as she died. When I came home, I announced somberly to the dogs, “London Bridge is Down.” I bought her an urn that I hope she would find befitting of the life she lived and the legacy she left behind:

The urn is in the style of an ancient egyptian coptic jar with Bast's head on it.

She has been entombed among the crystals and house plants on my desk, all of which she absolutely lived to fuck with. Hence the dirt on the table.

I couldn’t bear to clean it up.

The Business Centaur’s Virgin Temp, Chapter Seven

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Need to catch up?

State Of The Trout: Fits and Bursts and Bits and Pieces

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The year of Chaotic Creativity is…really quite something, so far. It might seem from the lack of recent posts here that I haven’t been doing much. Boy. Howdy.

Once I accepted two very important things, my creativity exploded. Those two things: my brain doesn’t work on a schedule and I’m not a failure if I don’t finish something every single day. As a result, I’ve been chugging along, putting bits and pieces into both blog business and the following things:

  • a children’s book
  • two small-town romances
  • a massive fantasy novel/world
  • learning to draw furry art
  • figuring out how to rap and writing a diss track about the haters
  • planning out twenty episodes of a comedy podcast I’d like to launch this year
  • designing things to put on t-shirts and other merch
  • a stream-of-consciousness memoir

Now, will any of this pan out? Who the hell knows? I’m using the patchwork approach to my blog and my Patreon and multiple other projects that must be released this year, like Queen of Hell (the sequel to Nightmare Born) and In The Blood (the first of hopefully many monster-fucking books I’ll release as Jennifer Morningstar), so I feel like please expect everything to come in fits and bursts and let’s see how this approach works going forward. But I can honestly say that this is the most creatively fulfilled and positive I’ve felt in a really, really long time. The other day, I wrote so much by hand that I ran out a whole brand new ink pen.

Also, you know those afghans people crochet or knit that have colors based on the temperature every day? And then at the end of the year, it’s like, here’s my blanket that shows what the weather has been like?

I made one of those, but different.

This is my pain blanket on the last day of January:

A wavy-stripe afghan of many colors, stretched out on a table.

Every day, I keep track of the pain that I’m in and assign it a level based on the standard numerical pain scale. I would show you a physical example of which colors correspond to which pain level, but I spilled coffee on my bujo page where I’d made this lovely layout with pieces of the yarn and their colors and the dye lot. We’re gonna just settle on this.

2 – dark blue
3 – less bright teal
4 – bluish-white
5 – surgical scrubs green
6 – light brown/gray
7 – very light green
8 – darker brown
9 – obnoxiously bright teal
10 – obnoxiously bright sky blue

There is no 0 or 1 because I have not had a 0 or 1 day since 2009 and it would be a waste of yarn.

This will be the only time I’ll be able to show it to you spread out on a table. This section is actually about 50″ wide, so you’re only seeing a very small bit of it. When it’s done and blocked, it’ll be big enough for a queen-sized bed (if I did the math right). I started off with an actual blanket pattern, then I was like, nah, I’ll just do row after row of shells. It’s easier for watching tv and not paying attention, it will look the same on both sides, and it will catch up faster when I have days I can’t work on it. One row for each day, Pima cotton because if I’m spending a year on it, so I  want it to be sturdy.

And at the end of the year, when all is said and done, I’ll have a fine blanket to snuggle up in and a cool visual reminder that I’m not a superhuman who is choosing to fail at life. I am a disabled person who has to fight through tons and tons and tons of pain and if you consult that there chart for January, I’m finding out that I’m in worse shape than I thought.

Buffy/Angel Recaps are ending. After the events of the weekend, I can no longer pretend that separating the art from the artist is possible for me in this case. When I watch the show now, all I see are abused and traumatized young women. I’m so pissed off at Joss Whedon for abusing actors that the fandom had come to love as their real, human selves. I can’t watch my “friends” anymore knowing they were in such a terrible situation. It doesn’t feel right. I know this is disappointing and it sucks, but as more and more about Joss has leaked out over the years, the reality was getting harder and harder to overcome.

Finally, I bring you the gossip that you deserve: I know I said I was never, ever, ever going to give her publicity again, but I thought this was definitely petty enough to post. Jamie McGuire, writer of the infamous “cum-burping gutter slut” line, now has an OnlyFans.

 

Jamie McGuire's OnlyFans page, which features a header photo collage of her in a black bustier and circa 2007 Lindsay Lohan makeup making sexy faces (including biting her lip). Her userpic is her in a skimpy red bikini and some kind of baseball hat

But it’s only for stuff about her books. Nothing dirty. Just stuff about her books. And art. The cleavage and bikini and fuck-me-face and “Single Mom” on a website mostly used to sell adult content is just how you make it in the books and art world.

Look. I don’t care if someone has an OnlyFans account, okay? Maybe I’ll set up an OnlyFans account and it will just be me staring vacantly into the camera while I eat eggs. And I don’t know what kind of content she has on there. It might be nudes and I not paying ten dollars to look at freckly middle-aged caucasian skin. I’m just not into it, okay? I’ve got literally yards of my own. But even if she’s on there spreading beaver, fine. She has the right to do that. Not my beaver, not my business.

What is my business is that a woman who has made it her life’s mission to call other women sluts and whores and even ran for office as a misogynist piece of GOP anti-choice trash has her cups runnething over on a site associated with sex work. I don’t care if someone gets their tits out on the internet for profit. I do care if someone gets their tits out for profit while maintaining that only sluts and whores lose their virginities or whatever the fuck she was trying to get across in her pointless books. The constant hypocrisy that rolls like a tide of sewage onto the medical-waste-strewn beach of the Christian conservative thought process never ceases to disgust me.

Bonus, she’s taking a vacation right now. In Jamaica, a country with hit-or-miss medical care facilities. During the pandemic.

And you know she’s probably a fucking anti-masker.

Counting Lambs

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Around August of 2020, my dreams became very small.

Maybe it’s the quarantine. The world has become very small. Can a brain run out of things to process?

It could be my stress levels.

For whatever reason, my dreams have become very small.

And I have become very aware.

There are places I can go to in my dreams. The same ones, over and over, cobbled together in a city that is at once Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, the French Quarter, downtown Las Vegas, and New York City all at once. There’s a lake. There’s a place that’s a cross between Disney World and various video games; last night, I spent quite a bit of time in a farming simulation that was also my high school and a community theater performance. Along with the familiar locations of my high school (often mixed with my middle school) and the community theater that is a jumble of both theaters I volunteer at, I can attend a nightmare mashup of the churches I attended as a child. There’s always a funeral going on! I can also go on vacation with my friends, ride jet skis, visit my grandparents’ lake house, or simply stroll the streets of my own village, which isn’t an exact replica but does contain the most anxiety-inducing grocery store ever designed.

Or the shopping mall.

It is every shopping mall and none. It is a closed-down mall, a 1980s throwback mall, a glitzy Detroit suburb mall, all in the same enormous building (one side of which is a second-run discount movie theater, another, a seedy strip mall).

Because I am lucid in these dreams, but still obviously dreaming, I occasionally treat myself.

But because I am lucid in these dreams, but somehow still awake, I occasionally treat myself. I wake up the next morning, confused as to why there are notifications that Wish has received my payment.

The first time this happened, I panicked, until I saw that I’d only spent three dollars on a charming little ring instead of eleven dollars for a set of ten crack pipes.

I don’t know why those always pop up in my recommendations.

The second time it happened, I’d spent twelve dollars, total. Nothing alarming. I’ve done this five times since August and as it turns out, I’m just as cheap in my dreams as I am in real life. Otherwise, I would have to seek some kind of treatment.

Most of the time, what I buy in my dream is nothing like what shows up in my mailbox. One night, I bought a huge potted plant and tickets to a Billy Joel concert. Waking in a panic, I found that all I’d ordered was a correction tape that prints little owls over your mistakes. Total cost: $3.87 after shipping.

Other times, I’ll dream of buying something adjacent to the product I’m actually sleep-buying. Nail polish in the night becomes an eyeliner/eyeshadow combo in the morn. Brass knuckles become a silicone mold for casting self-defense keychains from resin. They make sense. But none of them have been literal.

Until now.

We’ve come through a lot of words here to get to my point: I have literally had a dream come true.

It is a hoodie. And it is beautiful.

A hoodie draped over the back of my computer chair. It is printed with a huge image of Mariah Carey. As in, like a photo of Mariah Carey is the print of the entire fabric.