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BIG EXCITING NEWS

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I’ve got the go-ahead to share now, so here it is:

My Young Adult serial novel, Nightmare Born, will debut on the Radish app in October! Yes, this October! The one that is on the way!

So, what is Nightmare Born about?

It’s about Iris Bianchi, an autistic teenager who learns that her father is the King Of Nightmares and that she is a Nightmare Born, a supernatural creature that can only be conceived in human dreams. Called to Miss Perkins’s School For Girls for her magical training, Iris is soon immersed in the supernatural underworld of Savannah, Georgia. Imagine American Horror Story: CovenThe Vampire DiariesHarry Potter, and The Magicians all got thrown into a blender together to make a delicious and satisfying paranormal YA smoothie, but then I started just pouring various different types of candy into it.

I’m so excited to share every little bit of this journey with you guys. More info will be coming soon!

Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 21, The World or “You’re never going to guess where the plot finally shows up.”

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This is it, everyone. Exactly one year since we started Chapter 0, we’ve reached the end. This is the final installment of our Handbook For Mortals recap. I want to announce that I’ll be doing a Facebook Live event on Saturday night, 10 P.M. EST, on my Jenny Trout Facebook account, to talk about the acknowledgments section and do some drunk Tarot to get a forecast for the future of the book series and upcoming movie. These are pretty fun to do, because I can talk to you while I’m doing them, so drop on in at any time after 10 P.M. to join the live feed.

Shit, I might even brush my hair or put on makeup or something.

Or like.

Shower that day.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you all for coming on this journey through hell and scandal with me, yet again. Here’s hoping nobody pulls any bullshit and hits my nasty button for a while, so I can take a vacation from shitty, shitty books.

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S04E05 “Beer Bad”

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Heads up: I installed The Good Place extension on Chrome and didn’t realize it would actually *post* the censored swears. So, for those unaware of The Good Place and its swears: Shirt = Shit, Fork = Fuck, Dink = Dick, What or where the hell will convert to What the here/where the here, and Bench = Bitch. Honestly, I could go back and change it but it’s so funny I’m leaving it to be a part of Trout Nation history forever.

In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone will probably die from injuries caused when a dog she’s stepping over decides to stand up suddenly. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a forking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dink.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shirt is racist as fork.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
  21. The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
  22. Smoking is evil.
  23. Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shirt is homophobic as fork.
  24. How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
  25. Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
  26. Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
  27. Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
  28. Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
  29. The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
  30. This show caters to the straight/bi female gaze like whoa.
  31. Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
  32. Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
  33. Slut shame!
  34. The Watchers have no forking clue what they’re doing.
  35. Vampire bites, even very brief ones, are 99.8% fatal.
  36. Economic inequality is humorized and oversimplified.
  37. Buffy is an abusive romantic partner.
  38. Riley is the worst.
  39. Joss Whedon has a problem with fat people.
  40. Spike is an abusive romantic partner.
  41. Why are all these men so terrible?
  42. Wicca doesn’t work like that.
  43. Alcohol is evil.
  44. Head trauma doesn’t work like that.

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that into consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.

I Love This Book

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In an effort to promote work I love (rather than just tear apart that which I hate), I introduce to you this book that I love: Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar.

My Kindle Paperwhite propped up on some rocks on my dining room table, with a mug of coffee nearby.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with the subject matter, the Dyatlov Pass Incident was a tragedy that claimed the lives of nine experienced hikers on an expedition in the Ural Mountains in 1959. Searchers found the party’s tent slashed and their campsite abandoned. The bodies of Igor Dyatlov, Yuri Doroshenko, Lyudmila Dubinina, Yuri Krivonischenko, Zinaida Kolmogorova, Rustem Slobodin, Alexander Kolevatov, Nikolai Thibeaux-Brignolles, and Seymon Zolotaryov were found over a period of two months and in varying states of injury, mutilation, and radioactivity. The botched and secretive investigation by Soviet authorities led to half a century of cover-up allegations about everything from Big Foot to nuclear testing. The investigation’s final conclusion––that the hikers died due to an “unknown compelling force”––only fueled further ghoulish theories, and we still have no idea what happened to the hikers that night.

I’ve been obsessed with the Dyatlov Pass incident for a long time, owing to my inclination toward the spooky and weird. Despite how much I want to believe in creepy, otherworldly things, I had already accepted the practical and realistic explanations for the “mutilation” of the hikers’ bodies (naturally occurring decay and scavenging), the fact that some of them weren’t properly clothed (paradoxical undressing) and the slash made in the tent (they had knives, duh). But I’d never found a satisfying answer to the biggest remaining question: why would a group of skilled hikers abandon the safety of their camp, taking no supplies or proper clothing? What made going unprotected into the mountains at night seem less dangerous than staying? 

I went into Dead Mountain expecting to be disappointed by the totally rational explanations that would be offered by a serious book. I came away from Dead Mountain more terrified and unsettled than before.

Eichar writes about the hikers as the complex, vibrant people they were in life in a way many accounts of the tragedy ignore. Eichar makes it clear that this isn’t a ghost story or a conspiracy theory playground, but an event in which real people with family, friends, and loved ones were lost in a gruesome and horrifying way. He accomplishes this by mixing details of the investigation with a painstaking recreation of the group’s journey up the mountain that would ultimately claim their lives. When you reach the climax––and see Eichar’s hypothetical account of what could have happened––it makes this loss of life all the more terrifying.

After reading Dead Mountain, I’ve come to accept Eichar’s theory as the most logical and likely. And I really, really wish I didn’t. Whether you’ve never heard of the Dyatlov Pass incident or you’ve spent hours combing message boards and conspiracy videos, this book will stay with you for a long, long time.

Jealous Hater Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 20 Judgement or “Aptly named, considering what I’m about to do to it.”

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UPDATE: I should have remembered this in the first place, but thank you, everyone who has tipped me through Kofi, not just this week and last week but all the weeks. Book sales are down and you guys really help me out.

No news this week! I wonder if all the exciting media buzz is under embargo. Because, you know, surely with a movie and book this spectacular and eagerly anticipated, it must be kept under wraps.

Oh, but there is a gross and bloody gif in here. Heads up.

The Big Damn Angel Rewatch S01E04 “I Fall To Pieces”

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In every generation, there is a chosen one. No, shit. Wrong show. What am I supposed to do, now? I guess I’ll just have to recap every episode Angel with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Angel is still a dick.
  2. Cordelia is smarter than everyone.
  3. Sex is still evil.
  4. Sunlight isn’t nearly as dangerous as it was in Sunnydale…
  5. …but its danger is certainly inconsistent.
  6. Vampire/demon rules aren’t consistent with the Buffyverse.
  7. Xenophobia and cultural stereotypes abound.
  8. Women are disposable and unrealistic.
  9. Vampires still @#$%ing breathe.
  10. Some of this stuff is still homophobic as fuck.
  11. Blondes, blondes everywhere
  12. Smoking is still evil.
  13. A lot of this shit is really misogynistic.
  14. Some of this stuff is ableist as fuck.

The Big Damn Angel Damsel In Distress Counter: 8

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Just like with the Buffy recaps, I’ve seen (most) of this series already, so I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So a blanket spoiler warning is in effect.

CW: There’s a suicide joke. It’s pretty dumb and throwaway, so if that kind of thing bothers you, heads up.

I Love This Book

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In an effort to promote work I love (rather than just tear apart that which I hate), I introduce to you this book that I love. Meet Strangely Beautiful by Leanna Renee Hieber.

A photo of the book Strangely Beautiful by Leanna Renee Hieber, staged on my crocheted white table cloth with a china cup of tea with saucer beside it, a dried rose resting across it, and a selenite crystal ball looking ghostly and beautiful above it.

Go check it out at Macmillan.com

Now, some background on this book. This is actually an updated volume that contains two books, The Strangely Beautiful Tale Of Miss Percy Parker and The Darkly Luminous Fight For Persephone Parker. Anyone discovering this gaslight fantasy series now is super lucky; they don’t have to wait for the sequel (like I did). They can just get it in one book.

I read The Strangely Beautiful Tale Of Miss Percy Parker in 2009 when I received it as a freebie at a convention. I fell deeply, deeply in love with it. A gaslight fantasy about a mystical task force, The Guard, who protect Victorian London from restless spirits and supernatural dangers, it hit every one of my reader sweet spots. I fell in love with the heroine, Percy, a young woman who’s more like a living ghost, with moon-white skin and hair and supernatural abilities even she doesn’t understand. I swooned over Alexi, the dark, brooding schoolmaster who leads The Guard. And reading scenes with The Guard? I totally felt like I was a part of them like they were all my friends and I was included in their divine purpose. The writing is lush and the world is rich. The original mythology blends seamlessly with the traditional mythology woven throughout (fans of Persephone and Hades, in particular, will fall in love with this book). It absolutely blindsided me and I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t talking about it and fangirling over it as much as I was.

So imagine how I, a person who generally overreacts to things I like, finally met the author, Leanna Renee Hieber, in 2010 after the release and my subsequent devouring of the sequel.

I was actually pretty cool. “I really loved your book, I can’t say enough good things about it.”

But when she cosplayed as Percy Parker for a party later that night (and stayed in character the whole time)?

I threw myself, practically sobbing, into her arms and cried, “I love you so, so much!”

Luckily, Leanna is as passionate and awesome about stuff she loves as I am about the stuff she writes, so she totally got it. And this particular copy is signed, “Percy loves you so much!” so there, it’s canon, written in the author’s own hand, no take backs.

How much of a fangirl am I for this series (which includes a prequel, The Perilous Prophecy Of Guard And Goddessnow available as The Perilous Prophecy and the upcoming sequel, Miss Violet And The Great Warwhich I am totally freaking out about)? I have every version of these books, from the originals to the releases (all signed, of course) as well as the ebooks because I want to be able to carry them with me everywhere so I can read my favorite parts when the mood strikes me. Which, for me, is saying something, because my stunning array of learning disabilities makes reading super duper hard for me.

I love, love, love these books. I hope that if you read them, you’ll love them as much as I do. But even if you only love them a fifth as much as I do, they’ll still be in your top ten.

The Big Boys’ Table

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I’m talking to a male author at a signing event. He writes thrillers and horror and he’s standing in front of tall promotional banners bearing big-name praise for his books. He’s normal and personable and not braggy.

Which is what makes it worse when he says that his first contract resulted in a seven-figure advance.

He explains how much support he’s gotten from big names, the movie and television rights he’d sold. How none of his subsequent advances have been below six figures.

And how he’d gotten a lot of this attention because an indie book he’d published had reached sales figures that are fairly average to midlist indie romance authors.

“Anyone can do what I did,” he says of his marketing tactics at the beginning. He’s a nice guy and genuinely believes his good luck at stumbling upon a marketing tactic that worked is why he’s being handed big checks and bigger opportunities. He wants his fellow authors to succeed. He wants to pay it forward and help them the way he was helped. Because everyone has been so nice to him, so eager to see his star rise. He tells a story about one of the biggest names in the business flying him out to spend a weekend in his guest house and saying, “We’re going to get you a seat at the big boys’ table.”

It’s a story out of a writer’s wildest dreams.

It’s a story out of a male writer’s wildest dreams.

Those words, “the big boys’ table”, undoubtedly thrilled him in the retelling of the tale. Who doesn’t fantasize about having a rich, powerful person promise them that every dream they have is about to come true? But they didn’t have the same inspirational effect on me that he was probably going for. A moment before, I’d been listening to a fascinating story of an author who really, truly believes in himself and the power of our art.

A moment later, I was slapped with a reminder that these wild literary adventures aren’t for me or any other woman. Because there’s no seat for a female author at “the big boys’ table.”

This table, as I imagine it, is more of a conglomeration of high top bar tables crowded together with bowls of peanuts and pretzels and plenty of room for empty beer glasses. For the most part, it’s cis, straight, white men basking in the camaraderie here. They’re in the center. They’re the ones who can pass you the pretzels or the appetizer menu. If you’re not white or straight or cis or male, they have the authority to say, “Grab another chair! Join us!”

But for the most part, anyone outside the demographic will undoubtedly be told that the management asked them not to rearrange any more tables. That the gathering is unfortunately just wrapping up. That they’ve all just asked for their checks. The peanuts are gone and someone spilled their beer into the pretzels. We’ve missed out.

The male author I spoke to, the one who gets six and seven figure advances, the one who gives credit to his marketing and the kindness of other authors for his success, will probably never understand why a female author’s eyes glaze over upon hearing about his invitation to “the big boys’ table”. As time passes, someone will tell him to chalk up our sudden disinterest to envy. He may stop trying to reach out to help anyone who won’t fit in with the crowd at that table, believing all of us too jealous or bitter to help. It’s entirely possible that no one will ever tell him that the only competition he had for his seat was from other cis white men.

Does this mean his books aren’t good? No. I haven’t read them, but I plan to read his next release because it sounds incredible. Does it mean he hasn’t worked for the success he’s received? Not at all. He’s a hybrid author currently working on self-published releases alongside traditionally published ones, which is no easy feat. The problem isn’t this author or that he’s been offered a seat at the big boys’ table. The problem is that when another man is invited to that table, they forget why they’re there. They don’t notice the people who aren’t sitting with them.

And the men who’ve spent a lot of time at that table know this. They’ve carefully engineered the situation to be this way. And they’re going to tell you that it’s your fault that you’re not taken seriously. That if you wrote something more “literary”, if you used your initials or a male pen name, if you didn’t waste time on this or that publisher, there would be room for you. That it’s not them. It’s not the institution. It’s you.

How can we expect to be treated equitably in a business that openly sneers at its best-selling genre simply because of the people who write it and buy it? How can we believe publishers who insist that they’re giving everyone a fair shake while indulging in boys’ club terminology? Why are we told that men who’ve written fewer books and done half our sales have proven themselves and earned astronomical advances that our work pays to provide?

How stupid do you think we are?

As long as powerful people in traditional publishing describes success in such terms, there is no reason for the rest of us to court industry favor. The game is rigged, so there’s no reason to continue playing. No one is going to come right out and say, “You aren’t welcome,” especially when they can still make money from your work. But they clearly have no issue with acknowledging the truth in casual conversation.

There’s no neat wrap up to this post. There’s no call action. There’s just me, a female writer, sitting at a book signing and dreaming of burning a cheerful watering hole full of jovial male writers to the ground.