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Author: JennyTrout

Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 5 The Emperor or “Dive And Blush And Blush And Dive And Blush And Blush And Blush.”

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The Lani Sarem “Sorry Not Sorry” tour has rolled right on into Vulture. Now, after the attack on readers and authors of color in YA that Vulture published earlier this year, I could give less than half a fart what they have to say about anything. But a lot of people who knew this story was being written promised it would be a good one. Writer Lila Shapiro doesn’t disappoint. Because the recap chapter this week is so short, allow me to pick out some choice quotes for you (although many of you have already skewered it in the comments on the last recap).

Her father died when she was a baby. She and her mother moved often, ten different states in Sarem’s first 19 years. Wherever they went, Sarem tried out for local theater productions and TV commercials, but all the best roles went to other girls. She realized that if she wanted to be a star, she’d have to write the script herself.

This explains so much, not just about the self-insert character she plans to play in the movie, but about her attitude toward other women who are performers. Women like Sofia prevented her from attaining the stardom she wanted, so they are obviously evil (as outlined in today’s chapter).

For about a decade, Sarem paid the bills by taking on entertainment gigs in Vegas and on the road. She worked at David Copperfield’s theater for a while.

So, for all those who’ve wondered in the comments, yes, she had practical experience working at a theater for a real live magic show. And somehow, none of that practical experience made it into her book.

“When I started writing, I really wanted all the things that I couldn’t have at that moment,” she said. “I wanted somebody’s love story to work out. I wanted this character to have all the things I was lacking, and then live vicariously through her.”

I suppose it’s refreshing to have someone admit that their character is 100% self-insert, rather than insisting everyone is reading too much into and they’re like, oh my gosh, so different. But this is more or less the same reason everyone writes fiction; they want to see something happen that didn’t happen, whether it’s a bullied high school girl using telekinesis to kill her classmates at the prom or a single-minded sea captain steering his whaling ship and crew to their doom. So, it’s not so much she wanted this stuff to happen to the character and she would live vicariously through the character. It’s that she wrote a wishful-thinking autobiography.

Thomas Ian Nicholas was also interviewed for this story:

Later, I spoke to Nicholas as well and asked what drew him to the script. He mostly spoke about himself, saying he was from Vegas and that his great-uncle was John Scarne, a Vegas magician who served as Paul Newman’s hand double in The Sting.

This more or less confirms, in my mind, that what we’re dealing with at the heart of this con job are two people who’ve lived in proximity to fame but never actually breached the barrier to it, thinking they have far more potential and cachet than they actually do.

The entire article is a gem and provides some dismayed chuckles from second-hand embarrassment as Sarem and Nicholas claim to have sold an impossible number of books at comic conventions, compare their scam to women’s suffrage (yes, really), state that three different editors worked on the manuscript, and insist that Nicholas’s star power has been the driving force behind the book’s overwhelming and totally valid success. But it all ends on a sour note; Wizard World has invited Sarem and Nicholas to all seventeen of their conventions in the coming year. Though they may have become infamous rather than famous, they’re still profiting, while legitimate authors couldn’t buy the type of welcome that’s being rolled out for them.

True Blood Tuesday: S05E02, “Authority Always Wins”

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Due to my stunning incompetence, this week got recorded with the wrong microphone. I could hear the mic and I could hear audio through the headset, but Audacity was set to record off the internal mic. So, I have so many apologies for the volume and sound quality, background noise, and metallic snipping throughout the whole thing. But I had such a fun time watching this episode and it felt so great to be back, I just thought, you know. Fuck it, we’ll do it live!

The file is here. Hit play when the HBO sound and logo fade.

Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 4 The Empress, or “Star Trek Season 1 Episode 14 ‘Court Martial'”

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In Handbook For Mortals news this week, I visited my local Barnes & Noble, hoping to get a glimpse of the twenty-three-hour #1 New York Times Bestseller in the wild.

I started in Teen Fiction, but I couldn’t find anything between Sáenz and St. Claire:

A bookshelf where "Handbook For Mortals" might have been shelved.

But obviously, a bestselling YA phenomenon with a major motion picture in the works wouldn’t be on the same shelves as just any old YA. I decided to check the endcap.

An endcap in the YA section of Barnes & Noble, where Handbook For Mortals is NOT displayed.

That’s when I saw the table full of “must read” books for teens:

One side of the "Must Read" table for teens. No Handbook For Mortals.

Well…maybe it was on the other side?

The other side of the table. I'm sure you're sensing a theme here, so, no, Handbook For Mortals isn't on this side, either.

As I did another perusal of the Teen section, I realized I’d checked in the wrong spot, originally. Clearly, Handbook For Mortals belonged in Teen Fantasy & SciFi. I took a look.

The Fantasy and SciFi shelf where Handbook should have been.

Obviously, what had happened was Handbook For Mortals had sold out completely. I went to the info desk to see if they could tell me where all their copies had gone. The guy there had never heard of the book.

Someone working at Barnes & Noble had never heard of the #1 New York Times Bestselling novel Handbook For Mortals? But what about any publicity being good publicity? This employee had no idea about the controversy making this book so talked about, and said no one had ever come in looking for Handbook For Mortals, at least, not while he was working. He told me he could order it and showed me his computer screen, where about 2,500 copies were available from Ingram warehouses. For a New York Times bestseller, Handbook For Mortals doesn’t seem to have that many extant copies.

Let’s head into this chapter, which is going to actively try to gaslight you before the end.

Jealous Hater Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 3 The Hierophant or, “Nothing Happened.”

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It’s the Handbook For Mortals Twitter Round Up, y’all! YEEEEE-HAW!

Twitter user @TheSubliminator actually went to Lani Sarem and Paul Ian Nicholas Thomas Eric John James or whoever’s author event. Highlights include Sarem declaring “It’s not MY fault Angie is a black writer,” in regards to fraudulently knocking Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give from its #1 spot, and straight up plagiarizing Roald Dahl when she signs the damn book. Check out #23HourBS for details.

Why that hashtag name? Well, because Ms. Sarem and Mr. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt are now advertising this book as a #1 New York Times Bestseller for twenty-three hours. Author L.L. McKinney made a Twitter moment about it.

If all of that wasn’t pathetic and enraging enough for you, definitely check out this thread by Jeremy West, in which he calls out another laughably bad attempt by Sarem and the Rookie Of The Year to make the book appear successful. Yes, they are absolutely still trying to claim that this book is a pop culture phenomenon.

If you need something to get the god awful taste of all of this out of your mouth, Snarksquad member and BookTuber @MyNameIsMarines is reading the book on the hashtag #SnarkForMortals. I highly encourage you to check her out.

Meanwhile, I apologize that this recap was delayed. Computer troubles. Namely, me absentmindedly drenching my keyboard with Windex while I tried to clean my desk. Thank you big time to everyone who donated via Kofi in the wake of this senseless tragedy.

State Of The Trout: Wanna see something creepy?

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Hey guys! This is a short update. If you follow me on Twitter, you have heard of my shitty weekend. Two cars, a refrigerator, my laptop and the only keyboard in the house compatible with my iMac broke. the fuck. down. Seriously. Then last night, our Kindle Fire remote stopped working and poor Mr.Jen was like, “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO US?!” But he’s been pretty dramatic recently, anyway.

The point is, the reason I haven’t had a Handbook For Mortals post this week so far is that I was having to use text-to-speech to write it, which makes everything take roughly twelve times longer than just typing. Trying to finagle rides for kids to appointments and activities without a car was equally time-consuming. Now, the reason I’m telling you all of this is that I’ve been very open with my mental health issues and I don’t want anyone to think I’m sliding back down to the low point I was at earlier in the year. I’m fine, just everything I own is broken.

That said, tomorrow there’ll be a Handbook For Mortals recap instead of the advice column, and then next week hopefully everything will be calmed down and returned to normal. In the meantime, I expressed myself through the medium of video. Please watch me talk about my creepy Anthony Head memorabilia collection:


Apologies in advance for the lack of captions. When I have a working keyboard, I will absolutely add some.

Anyway, I should have a new keyboard today, USPS willing. Cross your parts for me.