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Let’s Clear Up Our Commenting Policy

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I don’t generally get involved in comments here on the blog. I read some of them, but over the years I’ve sort of begun to think of the comment section as a place where you guys can talk to each other about what I wrote. Sometimes, I wade in, other times I think, “You know, I’m going to mind my own business today.”

That’s why when I saw comments pop up on a five-year-old post today, I kind of laughed and didn’t look into them. It’s a post that had an argument going on in the comments that I guess started with someone feeling another commenter was too bitchy and critical (but not me, which is astounding) and every year, another reply or something would show up on that post or in the thread. And again, if people are like, “Well, you’re being a bitch!” “No, Jenny is a bitch!” I feel like maybe they don’t necessarily want me to be involved in that conversation? So, I never really kept up on it.

Today, Tez, my amazing comment moderator (who also caught Lani Sarem up to shenanigans on this here blog), contacted me to tell me that something weird was up. The new comments on that five-year-old post? Were all from the same ISP address, but using names of people who had been arguing in the thread to make it appear as though they retracted their earlier comments.

Cecily Strong as the Drunk Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started A Conversation With on Saturday Night Live saying, "And like, why? And like, don't?

I can’t believe I even need to say this, but it is never acceptable to use the names of other commenters so that you can leave comments that appear to be from them in agreement with you:

A photo with email address obscured, duplicate ISPs revealed under several different names. The comments all say things like, "I was wrong" or "I agree with you 100%" and in one case, something about feeling bad because a commenter is dying.

These are not the words of the people who left the original comments. The names are the same, but the ISPs and redacted email addresses all match and belong to another commenter who decided to wade into a five-year-old argument just to make it appear as though people were confessing to being sexist trolls and begging for forgiveness from the person they were originally arguing with. Perhaps most upsetting are the comments that read:

I feel terribl now that she is dying. We shouldnt have been so mean to her.

and

Guys. I was the biggest jerk of all here. None of what you did can even compare with how I treated her. I just got another text from her BF. She’s doing a little better now, but they’re afraid of a relapse.

There was no mention anywhere in these threads or anywhere else about anyone being near death or relapse, but this person wrote it as some kind of weird comment fanfiction, pretending to be other people begging for the forgiveness of a commenter they got into a scrape with five years ago?

What the hell were you thinking, person who did this? What on Earth made you think this would ever be okay? Do you realize how creepy your behavior is? Pretending to be someone else so you can apologize to another commenter on someone else’s behalf and trying to stir up sympathy with vague threats of suicide or O.D.? All so you can win a five-year-old argument by pretending to be other people responding to you?

What the fuck is your problem?!

At present, all of this person’s comments have been removed, both under the fake names and the one they had been using regularly to comment on posts. Their ISP has been blocked and they are no longer welcome to comment on this site.

Again, I can’t believe I have to say this but this kind of behavior isn’t okay. It’s weird. It’s ghoulish. And it appears freakishly obsessive, considering the age of the original posts. Tez does pay attention to these things, she does bring it to me when weird shit happens, and people do get blocked.

I guess I should have clearly stated this “don’t talk to yourself and insinuate that commenters were so mean to someone five years ago that it’s killing her now” rule a long time ago. But here the fuck we are.

How many Jesuses is too many Jesuses?: An Interlude

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FADE IN
INTERIOR – BEDROOM – DAY. MR. JEN and JENNY are sitting in bed, looking at photos from Jenny’s Catholic grandmother’s house at Christmas.

JENNY
The first time you went to my grandma’s house, did you think it was one of those really religious houses?

Mr. Jen stares at Jenny with a mixture of incredulity and outrage.

JENNY
Well, I don’t know! I grew up in that culture. I don’t know how much religious stuff a house should have. Like, when you walk into her house, is that your first–

MR. JEN
It’s the first thing you notice! It’s the very first thing!

JENNY
And you go, this is one of those religious houses?

MR. JEN
Remember when we counted all the Jesuses on the first floor of your grandma’s house? How many were there?

JENNY
Fifty-two.

MR. JEN
Fifty-two! There are fifty-two Jesuses on that floor alone! And that’s just Jesus! There’s all kinds of other religious stuff!

JENNY
So, how many Jesuses is too many, then?

MR. JEN
Two!

JENNY
Wait, do you mean having two Jesuses is having too many Jesuses, or my grandma has two too many?

MR. JEN
What?

JENNY
Like, is fifty the limit and she’s two over?

Mr. Jen massages his forehead with both hands, humbled in defeat.

FADE OUT.

FIN.

Jealous Haters Book Club: Beautiful Disaster Chapter Four, “The Bet,” or “I hate these blurred lines. No. Seriously. I hate them.”

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Before we start, I just want to say, Yes, I heard. I totally heard about E.L. James’s new book, and I’ve gotten many requests to add it to the Jealous Haters Book Club. I’m on the fence about running two selections at once, but I’m also filled with sick curiosity about what a non-stolen book from her is going to be like. Especially after what I read in the excerpt.

But right now, we have this other dumpster fire to put out.

Hamster Venom: An Interlude

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FADE IN:

INT. – BATHROOM – NIGHT. JENNY sits on the toilet while MR. JEN leans on the sink, examining a near-microscopic drop of blood at the tip of one finger.

JENNY
Oh my god. It’s a hamster bite. Let it go.

MR. JEN
I’m worried about the venom.

JENNY
Hamsters don’t have venom!

MR. JEN
Yes, they do. Much like their natural predator the king cobra–

JENNY
There is no “much like” between hamsters and king cobras! They’re nothing alike! You have to really, really generalize that down to like, “they both have eyes!” to find any similarity. Hamsters are not venomous! Plus, I’m not even sure that hamsters and king cobras exist in the wild together. I told you already that the hamster is evil and bitey and you stuck your hand in there, anyway.

MR. JEN
He’s not evil!

JENNY
He runs at me to bite me! I can be opening the door to put food in his cage and he will charge at me and bite me!

MR. JEN
He likes me.

JENNY
He bit you! And now you’re worried about his venom!

MR. JEN
Hamsters bite to show their affection. [beat] Much like the king cob–

JENNY
Get out.

 

FADE OUT
FIN

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch: S04E06, “Wild At Heart”

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In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone just figured out that she never changed the profanity in the following list back after the great The Good Place swears filter debacle. 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 fucking 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 dick
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  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 fuck.
  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 fucking 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.

RECOMMENDED READING: “Too White Bread for This Shit: Race and Racism in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Urban Fantasy Series”

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As a former LKH reader, I was absolutely blown away by this article by Stitch over at Stitch’s Media Mix. Because I started reading the books when there were only five out, there is so much I forgot between books and seeing it all together in one place was shocking. I think you guys will find it really interesting.

What I Did On My Broken Brain Vacation

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Hey everyone! I wanted to have a Buffy recap done this week, but it didn’t pan out. I’m not pushing myself hard on anything right now, which is like…mildly panicky for me? Because I don’t know how to be when I’m not working from the moment my eyes open to the moment I drag my ass to bed at night?

The truth is, I’ve been doing the bare minimum. Which isn’t great because I have a deadline coming up for Where We Land and I’m definitely not going to make it (the release may be postponed, we’ll see what happens and how much padding I built into the schedule), but right now I just feel like I absolutely have to take it easy on myself.

So, I’ve been making art. For example:

I made a ouija board. It's watercolor stained with pink and orange and brown and has gold lettering and embellishments like a keyhole and a watch face and various crystals.

And

An abstract painting of a woman holding a human heart.

and also

A pocket watch with a glass lid. Inside is a photo of Herman Melville. An ivory whale charm is affixed to the front edge of the glass.

and now I’m working on an oil painting that has sparked a huge fight between me and my teen son about whether or not my use of negative space is “wasteful” or not.

The negative space is part of the damn piece. When it’s finished, I’ll show it here and everyone can debate whether or not it’s “wasteful”.

This is why educating children is a bad idea, by the way.

Any how, I just wanted to update everyone on what’s going down on my end. I know some people were freaked when I said I needed to reconsider my career or whatever. I should have been more clear with my hiatus announcement. I needed to restructure and reprioritize, not sit and think about whether or not I should still write and blog. But it’s not like I can just quit my job and be an artist and live off wishes and dreams. This ain’t an episode of House Hunters.

So, things on the blog might be slow for a while. Drunk Tarot keeps on happening (it’s moved to Twitch) and I’m still writing, just more slowly than I used to. Which is already slow, but I can’t let that shit stress me out. Right now, the most important thing I can do is focus on myself. I’m getting into a good place and things are going dandy.

Although I am, perhaps, inhaling too many various fumes.

Before I end this, I want to put in a product plug that is in no way sponsored. I paid for this product myself and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. It’s Ranger Multi Media Matte and it is like…the most supernaturally amazing glue/sealant I’ve ever found in my life. Those metal and crystal embellishments on the spirit board? They’re not going anywhere. That whalebone charm (legal whalebone, it’s an antique pendant that was a gift from my mother-in-law years ago, the whale has been dead a long time) is glued to glass and I’ve wrenched on it and wrenched on it to make sure it won’t pop off. I don’t know what it’s made of, but if you work in mixed media, you have to have this product plus, a little goes a very long way; I sealed the spirit board and planchette, did other gluey stuff with it, and I still have half of a 3 oz. jar left. Again, I say, mixed media artists, get some of this if you don’t already have it. It’s a game changer.

Going Forward

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NOTE: I’ve removed a comparison in this post that was harmful to some readers.

I don’t want to rehash this forever and ever, so I’m choosing to post this on Friday rather than on Monday, so everything is contained within one particularly bad week. Then next week, things can be positive and happy and shiny and new.

On Saturday night, I was not acting in my right mind when I deleted my earlier post and tweets and apologized for the harm I caused the subject of the article. I was at the beginning of a serious mental health crisis, manic, paranoid, and out of touch with reality, and I assumed responsibility for a situation that I did not cause. I retract any statements made over the weekend and hope everyone will substitute them with these, instead.

I will not back down from my condemnation of the other author’s behavior. I’m also not going to use her name or my old one. In fact, I would prefer if, from now on, people never mentioned either to me again. I would ask that you consider the psychological harm that hearing it or seeing it in print does to me before you use it.

  • It wasn’t about a first name. Jennifer was the most common name for girls in the United States in 1980. I have never felt harmed by not being the only Jennifer in the room. I’m mildly surprised when I am the only Jennifer in a room. During my first years as author, another Jennifer, Jennifer Rardin, had a vampire series out as well. I never felt harmed by the existence of her name nor her books.
  • It wasn’t about a last name. The last name isn’t common, but it isn’t entirely rare. There is a woman with my exact same birth name, down to each and every letter, who lives in my area. With the exception of the time we both used the same credit union and they accidentally merged our accounts, I have never felt harmed by sharing a name with her. I have been online friends for years with a woman whose name is the other spelling. She is also a writer but in an entirely different field. I have never felt harmed by sharing a name with her.
  • It wasn’t about a cover. My book Such Sweet Sorrow has a cover that is extremely similar to Lia Habel’s Dearly, Departed. We have joked about it and even posed holding the “wrong” book on Instagram to promote an event we were attending. As far as I’m aware, she doesn’t feel threatened, jealous, or abused as a result, and that feeling is mutual. We’ve known each other for years and it’s never been a point of contention between us.
  • Coincidences happen. In 2006, my debut novel, Blood Ties Book One: The Turning came out at the same time as Lori Armstrong’s Blood Ties. We were seated beside each other at the Romantic Times convention book signing. I did not feel threatened, jealous, or abused as a result. There are hundreds of romance novels titled Boss or [verbing] The Boss or even, yes, The Boss. I have never felt threatened, jealous, or abused as a result. I am not a person who gets upset at small coincidences. In fact, I usually give people the benefit of the doubt.

It’s when a pattern of behavior emerges that I find it more difficult or sometimes, like now, even impossible, to extend that benefit. The name alone is not an issue. The cover alone is not an issue. In fact, those two things are the most minor of the allegations contained in the article; I found myself sitting here saying, “Jesus, at least it was just my name. It could have been way worse.” Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And hypocrisy; I can state with absolute certainty that if debut author J.S. Ward wrote about two demon-hunting brothers who criss-cross the midwest in a classic car and occasionally hang out with an angel and God himself, but claimed to have never seen Supernatural, they would be roasted like a squirrel on a gas-fired grill.

I have been accused of “blaming” my mental health issues on the other author. I have never done so. I have stated that the situation has, historically, exacerbated my symptoms. I have been in and out of psychiatric treatment since the second grade. This situation didn’t make me crazy and I’ve never said: “this author made me mentally ill.” She could come to me tomorrow, look me in the face, say, “My name is Martina Horowitz and I did this to you intentionally,” and I still wouldn’t blame her for the fact that I’m mentally ill. Because that’s preposterous. The situation has been detrimental to my already poor health and I’ve been honest about that as part of my ongoing attempts to be transparent about mental health issues and what I experience as a result of them. Whether the actions that caused the situation were intentional or not, I own my experiences and I am not obligated to minimize or dismiss them.

As a result, I’m going to be taking some steps to protect my health.

  • Removing myself from the romance “community” on social media for as long as I deem necessary. Note: this doesn’t mean I won’t write anymore. I’m going to keep writing and publishing, just like I have been. It’s my calling, and I won’t allow it to be taken from me. But I won’t be engaging in any other “issue” in the community. Plainly put, it’s because it’s been made clear, through the words and actions of several of my colleagues, that I am not a part of the community. So, when I see people shouting their heads off over the latest drama, I won’t be lending my voice to condemn or support. I had already scaled back my involvement after the Fiona Haskins incident and my overall health and productivity improved, so it won’t be difficult to let it go the rest of the way. I do, however, want to point out that we didn’t adequately mock Jimmy Thomas for comparing himself to a cheetah.
  • Unfollowing, blocking, or muting people on social media if they express support for or promote the author. Again, sounds harsh. Sounds like I’m saying, “You have to pick her or me!” Nope. Not at all. What I’m saying is, anything to do with this woman can trigger my depression, anxiety, OCD, imposter syndrome, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. You could be the most awesome person in the world, but I still have a duty to care for myself first. If I unfollow you or block you or I don’t respond to you and you think it’s because I muted you? It might not be personal at all or me hating you or something you said. It might just be necessary. You have a right to do whatever you want to do and again, it’s not personal at all and I don’t expect anyone to swear their allegiance to me. It’s protection for myself, not a comment on your value as a person, an attack on you, or what I think of you.
  • Unfollowing and muting anyone who attends or promotes the author’s conference. Again, this is not personal and I’m not issuing an ultimatum. Cons are expensive and they’re necessary to further your career and broaden your readership. I don’t expect anyone to suddenly cancel their plans or scrap their promo. I simply have to minimize (hopefully eradicate) my awareness of her existence if I’m going to continue to do the job that I am good at and that I was put here to do. I cannot allow this person to take up space in my head that I need to create my own, authentic work. I want everyone to succeed, but I want to continue to succeed, too.
  • No longer attending or participating in conventions or events. The fact that my brief interaction with one author led to her claiming familiarity to try to gain control of the narrative on Twitter, and another brief, professional interaction between myself and the subject of the article was used to suggest I’m not allowed to have or express my own anger over the revelations in that article have convinced me that it’s simply not in my best interest to socialize in those types of situations. I’ll still do things for libraries. Obviously. I’m not a monster.

Does this all seem extreme? Oh well, I guess? Does it seem like I’m threatening to take my toys and go home? Okay, if that’s how you’d like to frame it. But what this really is about is the deep sense of betrayal I felt when these allegations, which would have buried an author of lesser standing, were brushed aside, while the person who exposed them was crucified. That article revealed years of gaslighting, not just from the author but the industry and my own brain. And it was dismissed as unimportant. A non-issue. And loud voices behaved as though it was my job to stay quiet, push down my pain, and even apologize.

I do not owe strangers the comfort of my silence. But I also don’t owe anyone my anger. So, this, and not my deleted post, should be considered my last words on the subject from here out. I’ll see everyone on Monday.

The Big Damn Writing Tracker 2: Return Of The Big Damn Writing Tracker

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It’s almost 2019, everyone. Time to start setting those goals for the year!

Caitlin Doughty of Ask A Mortician fame announced last week that 2019 would be her “year of ambition.” And I was like, right on, I want it to be my year of ambition, too! And then I was like, wait. I’m always ambitious. It’s like…the organization and goal setting and shit that I’m bad at? And then I get to the end of the year and go…holy crap. Holy crap, I don’t remember doing anything this year.

One thing that has always helped me is keeping track of my progress on goals. Duh, Jenny, everyone likes to see a visual representation of their measurable progress. I know, I know. But sometimes, we actually need people to remind us of this. In 2019, let me be your reminder, oh Trout Nation!

Years ago, I made a very simple spreadsheet I called The Big Damn Writing Tracker, and I shared it with you all. It included all sorts of inspiring quotes from successful people…many of whom revealed themselves to be racists, sexual predators, anti-semites, homophobes, and general trash in the intervening years. So, I decided it’s time for an update. The Big Damn Writing Tracker 2 is just like the Big Damn Writing Tracker, but without the quotes and with a whole new sheet for tracking your progress on individual projects.

You can download the Big Damn Writing Tracker 2 here. Don’t have Excel? No problem! Download the file and you can import it into Google Drive. Just create a new spreadsheet through Google Sheets, click on the file menu,  select import, and the Big Damn Writing Tracker 2 will fill itself in. However, in the Excel version, the formula cells will be locked, but in the Google Sheets version, they won’t be. So, be careful not to erase or re-enter anything in the formula boxes. If you’re working on Excel, this won’t be an issue; you won’t be able to click on any protected cells.

And hopefully, I didn’t accidentally leave my own information plugged in.

I also created a video that is a little hard to see (sorry), so you’ll probably want to embiggen it. I apologize that the CC are only half-corrected; I had some computer issues crop up while I was about two minutes deep into the CCs. The rest of them are unedited YouTube garbage and I’m super sorry about that.

 

I hope this helps everyone and I also hope that this blog will remain on schedule while I struggle with this whole computer thing! Cross your fingers!