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State Of The Trout: SAY GOODBYE TO HOLLYWOOD edition

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Hello there friends! Some of you may have looked at my blog in the past weeks and thought, “Why the hell isn’t Jenny saying anything about [random awful thing happening my country right now].” Well, there’s a reason.

First of all, the speed at which the awful shit keeps happening is so fast, I simply couldn’t keep up with it here. While I finish one exhausting and terrible post, six other exhausting and terrible things will have taken place. I would be the blogging equivalent of Sisyphus, pushing a wrinkly orange rock that I don’t really want to think about, let alone touch.

Second, it seems like there’s nowhere anyone can go to escape the worldwide crises caused by our ridiculous conservative right. If this space can be one of those precious few spaces, then I’ll let it be. If things change in the future, they change, but for now, I’d like to spend at least a couple hours of my day writing frivolous stuff and sharing it with you guys, to give my eyeballs a rest from watching my country burn.

I am intensely vocal (some might say overly so) about politics on Twitter, so you can always find me there. No, really. Always. It’s like it’s plugged into my brain.

Moving on to a subject that’s less horrifying. Or more horrifying, depending on how you feel about my novels. Some time ago, I mentioned that I was writing an erotic romance about a screenwriter adapting the bestselling erotic novel of an egomaniacal author. I am pleased to report that, while it won’t release the first week of February as I had originally hoped, it is nearing completion. That said, it took a bit of a turn from an erotic romance to a contemporary romance, and then arrived somewhere in the valley between “novel with romantic elements” and “women’s fiction.” It has been a ride, let me tell you.

Because the content is so different from what I write as Abigail Barnette, Say Goodbye To Hollywood will be released as a Jenny Trout novel. And since this is Jenny Trout’s blog, here are some fun facts to gear you up for the book.

Does the egomaniacal author sound familiar? There’s no way I can pretend that the premise of the novel isn’t based on the rumored behind-the-scenes struggles with the adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, but fictional author Lynn Baldwin isn’t a carbon copy of E.L. James. In fact, the only thing they have in common are similar career situations. Baldwin is an amalgamation of several literary divas I’ve met in my career. You can have fun guessing who inspired her personality.

You said you were done with Fifty Shades. Why write a book inspired by it? So much gossip swirled around about the making of the first movie that it was almost inescapable. Some bits that inform scenes in the novel were almost too ridiculous to be believed, so I knew they would make great fiction (although I suspect some of them were fiction to begin with). After I read Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s The Royal We, I realized that “write what you know” isn’t necessarily bad advice. In fact, it can make for really fun writing (and hopefully, reading)!

Are there going to be as many sex scenes as in the Neil and Sophie books? Nope. At this point, there are two sex scenes. This novel won’t be as long as the Neil and Sophie books, either. And don’t expect my usual May/December pairing.

You announced this project ages ago! Why has it taken so long? Burn out. Emotional and creative burn out. And it’s not like anything else I’ve written, so I’ve had to take my time, adapt my voice, and listen harder to characters I don’t know as well as my ongoing series casts.

So, when will it be out? I can only say soon. Until then, I’ll give you updates and maybe even share little bits until I can comfortably tell you when the book will be delivered.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print, at the moment.

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S03E16 “Dopplegangland”

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CW: Brief mention of CSA.

In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone is suffering from extreme vertigo, so please bear with her. 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 shit 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.

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 under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.

This Gift Sucks, Veronica. Where Do I Return It?

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For months now, readers have talked about the problematic racial elements present in Divergent author Veronica Roth’s latest novel, Carve The Mark.  Young Adult author Justina Ireland wrote about the damaging content in Carve The Mark and the now-postponed release The Continent. Readers on social media have carried on that conversation and as ARCs poured out into the world, some blogs even declined to include them in giveaways. Carve The Mark seemed poised to be the most problematic, rejected YA offering of 2017.

But Roth just had to go that little bit further.

In an interview with NPR, Roth explains that novel takes place in a world where once a person reaches adolescence, they receive a “gift” or special talent:

“Well, Cyra’s is that she experiences constant pain, and she can also give that pain to other people. So the theory is that the current, which is this kind of energy that is present in the galaxy, that it flows through each person and their personality is like a mold that shapes how it comes out. And for her, it would take a lot of psychoanalysis to figure out why she thinks that she’s worthy of pain and that others are worthy of pain but – so she’s basically experiencing, like, a supernatural form of chronic pain.”

Roth explains that she was inspired by friends who have endometriosis:

“And for me, the importance of it came from I had several friends who experienced chronic pain over, you know, like, a decade and were – had their pain underestimated by doctors, which statistically is more likely if you’re a woman by, like, a drastic degree. And they were eventually diagnosed with endometriosis. This is like a couple of people just in my immediate social circle. So I thought about them a lot, about how pain takes over your life and limits your potential and how difficult it can be to find someone who’ll take it seriously.”

As a woman disabled by chronic pain from Fibromyalgia, I can absolutely back up Roth’s assertion that it’s difficult to find someone who’ll take it seriously. From doctors to family members, from “we all have little aches and pains” to “you should try [suggestions ranging from quitting gluten or doing yoga],” chronic pain patients are at the mercy of a society that doesn’t quite know what to do with us. Many of us don’t have visible signs of disability (“You don’t look sick!”). Some of us use mobility aids (“Wheelchairs are for people who are actually handicapped!”). Some of us have employment outside the home (“If you can work, it can’t be that bad!”), but others are housebound (“You’d feel better if you got out more!”). Getting anyone to listen to us when we share the reality of our lives seems futile (“Why are you focusing on how bad you have it? Try to be more positive!”), and we often feel like we talk too much about our pain. Since our resources and physical energy are limited, it’s often easier to suck it up, suffer in silence, and let ignorance slide.

While many men suffer from chronic pain conditions, their challenges are often different from women’s. Western culture constantly equates women’s suffering with something positive. We’re “strong.” We’re “warriors.” We “fight.” But we’re never, no matter what our circumstances may be, allowed to resent that suffering or wish for it to end. That’s not attractive. It doesn’t fit the mold. It makes us depressingly human to those who value our martyrdom over our lives, our hopes, and our frustrations. We’re no longer inspirational, and if our pain can’t benefit or, in the case of Carve The Mark, entertain people who want to be allies to the disabled, it’s just a bummer.

I don’t know how Roth’s friends with endometriosis feel about their pain being appropriated to make Roth, an already famous and successful author, more money. I don’t care to know because their opinions don’t represent every person suffering from chronic pain and won’t excuse the harm Roth has caused by depicting chronic pain as a “gift.” Maybe Roth’s friends have had important, life-changing experiences after their diagnoses and feel that their pain really is a gift. But I would venture to suggest that, based on the social media responses to the interview, most people don’t share that view. The notion of suffering as a gift doesn’t make chronic pain patients feel better; it makes abled people feel better.

Our pain is not “supernatural.” It doesn’t embody us with special powers that we can use to heal a divided people. In fact, many women suffering from chronic pain conditions and other disabilities have lamented that we can’t be a part of the marches and protests scheduled for January 21st. Once again, women with disabilities will be left out of a movement that should include us and be derided as “slacktivists” because we can’t get out and physically march.

Chronic pain can be fatal. People with chronic pain conditions have an increased risk of cardiovascular illness and addiction to opioids or self-medication with alcohol. In an attempt to save us from ourselves, the CDC recently updated its guidelines on the prescription of painkillers; this led to an increased suicide risk in some patients already at high risk. Yes, there is a need to take us more seriously. A white-savior YA novel where chronic pain is treated as a supernatural power is not going to accomplish that; it will harm us.

My chronic pain caused me to miss the first two years of my daughter’s life. Those memories have been lost in a haze of painkillers and cocktails of prescriptions that were meant to make me functional and only succeeded in robbing me of my life, my career, even my home. And now Veronic Roth has appropriated–for personal profit–my experience, her friends’ experiences, the experiences of millions of women who would do anything to be able to return their “gift.” We just can’t find the damn receipt.

But we have receipts on you, Veronica. Mountains and mountains of them. And gosh, we just don’t have the supernatural energy to climb over those to get to the bookstore on release day.

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S03E15 “Consequences”

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In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone is suffering from extreme vertigo, so please bear with her. 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 shit 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.

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 under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.