Speaking of trivia, we had about 65 people last night. The week before, pre-Xmas, we had about 20. It's hard to predict these spikes. Usually we get about 50.

I was thinking recently about how fortunate it is that I don't have a lot of pressure to hurry up and finish my third novel. I didn't quit my job when I got a book deal (a smart move, because, among other things, I like my job and it keeps me grounded), so I didn't have to keep telling myself to rush through more books to pay my rent. But the more important reason to not depend exclusively on my writing for income is that sometimes (and I know I've said this before), I have to think and be involved in other things in order to come up with a really good solution or plot twist or theme that makes the book a lot better. When I'm not writing the book, I'm thinking about it, and also dealing with and listening to other people, and that's important for ideas and angles. The reason so much of television is mediocre is that they're forced to write the stuff EVERY week, so they're not afforded much time to come up with jokes and scenarios that haven't been done before. (A show like The Simpsons is an exception because they have a staff of 20 writers, so they have a little more brain power there. So is a show like Sex in the City that has eight episodes at a time and then takes a long breather.) I hate doing what's been done before, although obviously sometimes it's unavoidable. It's true that 90 percent of plots have been done in some way in the Bible or Shakespeare, but it's what you do with them that matters.

The one thing that does put pressure on me in my writing is the idea that someone out there might do the same thing, so I can't pussyfoot around forever. Eventually, Book 3 will get done. The fact that I spent half of 2003 rewriting the same 15 pages doesn't matter. (I did, of course, work on other parts of it during that time, but beginnings are key.) I have about 350 pages of it, some of which will be lopped out, some of which will be colored in. I don't know if everyone will like it, but if it someday feels the way I wanted it to feel, I'll be happy. And I won't show it to people until I think it does.
Happy New Year's Eve! I should say that no one should feel bad tonight if they end up having a Pilby Party. Avoid the pressure!

I am grateful for new friends I've made this year, as well as the regulars who come to trivia and, in general, anyone who has the patience to deal with me. Happy New Year to you and yours. And happy Football Day for tomorrow.


It wasn't so long ago that I complained that Peter Gallagher was a dad in the O.C., which makes me feel old because I always considered him part of my generation. I saw Cheaper By the Dozen this weekend, and Alan Ruck of Ferris Bueller fame played a Yuppie dad in it. Ferris' friend Cameron was a Yuppie dad! But apparently he's 47, and he was 30 when he played a 17-year-old in Ferris Bueller.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I had to deal with a lot of loose ends today, got it all done, and now I feel good -- sort of like when you stop hitting yourself with a hammer (not that I've done that). I do still have a pile of mail to go through and calls to return. Still, it's fine.

I hope everyone has a fantabulous new year.


Fill Bill: Someone has come up with porn titles for 2003 films.
Woke up (sort of), put on clothes, went to work...

Who can comprehend 20,000 people dying in an earthquake, much less a possibility of 40,000?


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Some people think that's not descriptive enough. OK. Woke up, checked e-mail, drank water, did exercises, called work to say I'd be a little late, took a picture of empty parking spaces (rare occurrence around here), took out used-up film, bought new film at pharmacy, changed clothes, went to work. I'm probably forgetting stuff.
A belated Merry X-mas!


A screenwriter friend and I were talking about how the beginnings of our novels/scripts are the most-edited part, as every time we revise, we have to start from the very beginning in order to keep the narrative consistent and be in the appropriate mood. I almost never start revising in the middle of the book. That's why it requires hours of uninterrupted time -- I always have to read from the beginning.
Should I be worried that the Department of Homeland Security is running radio ads in NY telling us that there are things we can do to prepare in case "something happens"? They have a woman's voice speaking conversationally so it doesn't sound like Emergency Broadcasts or anything.

It's completely pouring out today, and now it's starting to get windy, too. I'm soaked from my errands, including backed-up laundry doing. Sounds like I should spend much of the day writing and sipping soy nog.

Lori alerted me to this great article on the 20th anniversary of "A Christmas Story," complete with a current photo of Peter Billingsley.

Happy holidays!


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Happy X-mas Eve Eve.

George Pataki pardoned Lenny Bruce.

I hear that many people are suffering from the lure of free holiday candy and cookies in their respective offices.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I turned the heat up to 75 degrees because I want it to be really warm in here. In a half hour, my boss will come in and say, "WHY IS IT SO HOT?" but by then I will have turned it back down.


Today's affirmation, as received in my e-mail:

I have the pleasure to share my testimony with you, having seen your
contact from the Internet. I am Barrister David Johnson, the legal
adviser to late Mr. and Mrs. Andy Brown, an America couple that lived in my
Country Nigeria for 30 years before they both died in the plane crash
late last year. These couples were good Christians, they so dedicated their
live to God. And as matter of fact, after I sold all their properties, I realized more than $3,800,000.00 (Three million hundred thousand US dollars
...I asked God to make his choice and direct me to a honest Christian or the chosen ministry that deserves this fund by his Grace. I then came across your address on the Internet as I was browsing through a Christian site, and as a matter of fact, it is not only you or your ministry that I picked on the Christian site initially, but after my fervent prayer over it, then you were nominated to me through divine revelation from God.

In Times Square last night, there was a row of Hare Krishnas singing, "Hare hare, krishna krishna, dalai lama, hare hare, hare krishna, krishna krishna, hare hare, dalai lama." People were laughing as they went by, and some tourists joined the line to sing along just so they could get their picture taken doing it. It must be kind of frustrating when no one can take your religion seriously.
Woke up, put on clothes, didn't go to work.

I did some work on the first 15 pages of Book 3 this morning. It's amazing that I'm still wrestling with the first 15 pages after three years. Every time I change something, I know this book will take longer and longer to finish. Frustrating but necessary. There are so many authors who get published and take forever to get their second novel out. They keep pushing back their deadline. I used to think it was laziness or intimidation, but now I know that once you finally get published, you're in less of a rush and you're also more aware of the process, so you want to make sure your next book is as good as it can be. Once you hand it in and it's accepted, you really can't make too many more changes.

There's something funny in the Times this morning that normally I'd comment on, but it will be used as a trivia question on Tuesday so I can't give it away here.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

The Olsen twins are both going to NYU next year. I wonder if they'll room together. I don't think that's a good idea.

Have a good weekend.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Last night, I took a cab home and the guy who got out before me didn't give the cabbie a tip. Out of the window, the cabbie said to him, "Asshole," as he was walking away. I don't know why people have to constantly pick fights over ridiculous things. It almost seems like a game to some people. There's just too much anger in the world. Yes, the guy didn't give the tip on a $3 ride, but maybe he had his own issues. I think he was drunk.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


It's getting too cold to be outside.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


I didn't realize the snow would fall overnight, but I just woke up and it's all over the place. And still snowing.

Then I put on the radio and an American official announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we got 'im," followed by cheers. I thought, "Hooray! They got Osama bin Laden!"

But no, it's Saddam Hussein.


Woke up, put on clothes, didn't go to work.

Homepage: www.carenlissner.com.


DSL has been down at work intermittently. The psychological effects are stunning. People have to stop checking e-mail for stress breaks.
Woke up, put clothes on, went to work.

Mook the Meteorologist says we're getting another nor'easter!

Mook says: Still on track.
Snow comes in sunday morning, changes to sleet in the afternoon
then rain overnight sunday
back to a little snow monday morning
with wind.
Some accumulation, not like last time though.


Woke up, put clothes on, went to work.


Woke up, put clothes on, went to work. Busy week this week.

If interested, check out what happened when county officials in Oregon tried to live on food stamps.


I wrote an article that was published on Mobylives.com, a popular website on the publishing industry, today. It's about why there's no obvious literary spokesman for Generation Y, since we've had them for other generations. Check it out at www.mobylives.com.

For anyone new who comes here, my main page is www.carenlissner.com. I'll get it better-designed eventually - don't you worry! I'm just mired in novels now.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


It's nice when winter acts like winter. It used to be that way when I was little, y'know?

Have a good day!

I must be a bad influence. A friend sent this to me:


I can honestly say that I believe this to be the first December "blizzard" I've ever been in. Almost all of them I remember have been in February.

Something I just heard outside my window:

MAN: Come on. Keep walking.
GIRL: I've been walking the whole time! And you've been yelling that the whole time! I've been walking and you've been yelling!


We'll close out the day with the Secret Service's advisory on these types of scams. Have a great night, everyone!
People keep e-mailing me regarding the snow and saying things like, "Well, are you happy now?!?!"

Completing the trifecta of responses, the scam posting brought out a lurker named Jay, who provides this helpful link on Nigerian scams:

The snow started at 10 a.m. and there's now at least four inches out there. I see someone getting his battery jumped out on the corner.

Many years ago, when I was going through a rough postcollege transitional period, I had a two-day temp job in Princeton even though I lived in Hoboken. There were reports of snow the next day, but I decided to chance it and drive an hour down to the job anyway. The snow began coming down around 10 and didn't let up. They let me off work around 3, and when I swung back onto the Turnpike, NO ONE was on the road. The painted lane lines had all been covered in snow, so the Turnpike looked like one vast sheet of snow, just for me and my '85 Plymouth Duster. I left the radio off and just listened to the heater the whole way, and when I got it home, I parked on the corner half in a crosswalk, and the battery died. My neighbor helped me push the car in a little more, and then a few days later a local mechanic who ran a shop out of his garage jumped it for me. I ended up with a profit of about $10 on that day's work after the mechanic cost, so I figured at least I'd gotten something out of it.

Dan wants to add to his prior missive:

Dear Luisa,
I had forgotten to ask you something.
You mentioned that you have children with your husband, Jose, Jacqueline and Jude. Do you have three children with those names, or is your husband’s name Jose and the two of you begot Jacqueline and Jude? And when you want your son, do you say, “Hey Jude”?
Anxious for your response.

Response #1, from Dan:

I just checked out your blog, and read about your donation; you are one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known! So much love and concern in your heart…
I would have written back to Dr. Mrs. Luisa with rewrites in her letter; for example, “may be” should read “maybe”, etc:

Dear Luisa,
I read your letter with great sadness and concern. Surely God will see you through this tough time.
That said, please see my corrections to your letter. Your diction and sentence structure need reworking, and the letter also contains faulty capitalization. Also, consider hyphenating “God fearing”, as that should send the message you apparently wish to convey. I will reconsider your request upon my receipt of a more properly written letter.
God is Love,

Conversation that just took place in my office:

ME, TO COWORKER: Maybe someone here will go out and get your pizza for you if your pay them the tip money.
SALESWOMAN: I'll go out and get it if you're a big tipper.
ME: Al Gore is married to a big Tipper.
DIFFERENT SALESWOMAN (walking past, five minutes later, in a monotone): You're real funny, Caren.

I've gotten several interesting responses to Dr. Luisa Pimentel Estrada's letter, which I will post here anon.
I decided to donate $1,000,000,000 USD to all three of these foreigners to help them out. Now I can't afford lunch. Anyone got a quarter?
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Not much traffic on the roads this morning. People listened to the weather and were smart, I guess.

Today's installment from my e-mail:

I am Dr Luisa Pimentel Estrada, the wife of Joseph
Ejercito Estrada,former president of Philippines. I
have children with my husband Jose, Jacqueline and
Jude.Two sons and a daugther.This mail may be coming
to you as a surprise or an article but it is very
real.I gave the mail to my daugther Jude to send the
mail to any contacts she sees and may be a God fearing
person will listen to our plight.I will want you as
the receiver to read through it and think very well if
you can help or render us any assistance. My husband
Joseph Ejercito estrada was elected as the 13th
President of the Philippines in May 1998 by the people
of Philippines due to his popularity in the film
industry...the way things are going with us,my husband decided to let me know that he deposited some money with some
Banks .These funds are presently deposited in his
private Bank accounts, Three in whole, one in
Europe,one in Central America and one in the Bahamas
and all deposited in our name. The Fund in question is
put all together exceed One hundred Million. 45
Million USD deposited with a Bank in CommonWealth of
Dominica,30. Million USD with a Trust Company in
Europe - and the Bahamas- 35. Million USD. ...I would want us to be in partnership in any good business you may suggest in
your country. Please handle this transaction with
maturity and sincerity.
Best Regards,
Dr Mrs Luisa P.Ejercito Estrada


To read about the winter storm watch, link to my even more exciting Blog of My Barometer.
If you didn't notice, there's a flu outbreak.

It's going to snow Saturday.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


This article on Santa is posted on Yahoo! news as if it's for real. I mean, I guess it is...maybe?
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


There's an interesting Reuters story about J. Robert Lennon's struggles as a writer...pretty good. I finished The Mailman at 2 a.m. two nights ago, and it's wonderful holiday vacation reading. You've got a small-town mailman who's reading other people's mail, the authorities are circling, but he has other personal failings to overcome at the same time. Poor schlub. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


I pledged to finish writing the first half of Book 3 this weekend, filling in the blanks, and I did. It still needs much revising, and I wouldn't show it to anyone for months, but I had to finish a draft. I'm hoping to have the whole thing finished by next fall, which is nine months from now, or at least, to have a showable draft. But I've made progress, and I feel better.
To elaborate on my answer to Jake: I'd just feel pompous if I said anything to her. Also, it's not that much of a coincidence since the town newspaper has run a story about my book and I've done readings here and it's in the local library and stuff...if I saw it 'in nature' in Barbados, then I might introduce myself to the reader. And if I DID say something without identifying myself, I'd probably say something like, "I heard that sucks," just to amuse myself.
Lots to read for the style-conscious in today's New York Times. On a light note, there's a small thing inside the Style section about the fashions worn by an executive editor (a 44-year-old mother of two) at St. Martin's Press. She looked pretty fashionable in the picture, so sucker that I am, I read it. "A typical work outfit for Ms. [X] consists of an ivory Marc Jacobs cashmere turtleneck ($640), a red wool miniskirt by Club Monaco ($89)...and a gray Burberry duffle coat ($675). Books and manuscripts are stashed in a cream leather Hogan Pan Am bag ($795)..."

Just what kinds of salaries are they paying over at St. Martin's? Or, the better question is, what does her husband do? But I won't ask cuz it's sexist. Also, imagine if the dry cleaners lose the $640 turtleneck. (I'd probably spill something on it and have to take a second job.)

The cover story in Styles is about people getting sick of serial dating, being pushed by all the dating services and sites out there, and being pressured by a culture that says it must be their fault if they haven't found 'the one' yet. The people quoted in the story still want to find love, but not make the pursuit an agonizing round-the-clock, commodified one, or spend loads of someone who just doesn't feel right. "Dating fatigue" is the phrase the Times uses.

"They realize that a good love affair has as the basis a really good friendship," says a single guy in the story. "They're not becoming cynical, but they're getting more savvy about the ebb and flow of relationships."
A woman who wrote a book called "Quirkyalone" says, "If you're in a relationship to feel normal, get out....it's about trusting yourself despite the onslaught of subtle and not-so-subtle messages that there's something wrong with you if you're not dating [someone], that you must have some sort of fear-of-commitment pathology, or you're overly picky..."

Before you criticize me for shallow blog content, I did read the other sections, silly. Tune into trivia to find out about actual current events -- or the five million blogs that are political.
As promised, Tuesday's team names for trivia included:

Like a Violent Drunken Cowboy
I Hear Deaf People
Paris and Jacko's Special Thanksgiving Gravy
We've All Slept with Someone at This Table
Billie Jean is Not My Rubba
Dead Man Moonwalking
Paris Hilton Louves When They Put Their Eiffel Tower in Her Arc de Triumphe
By the Time I Get to Phoenix I'll Be 2.0

I reprint these at the risk of getting found on all kinds of weird Google searches now. Just to combat that, I'll add: Literature. Writing. Great Books. Shakespeare.



"Jake" writes: "Your blog readers might be interested in knowing what your reaction is to seeing, "in nature," a person reading your book. We realize you're too
modest to ask her if she'd like it autographed, but is there a temptation to
say something to her like "You want to hear a funny coincidence?" or "How do
you like Carrie?"



While I'm overwhelming you with links, here's my British cover (on the right). The book comes out next month in the UK.
Eek - I completely forgot to put in that on Tuesday, when I was taking the bus to the train to go to trivia, I saw someone putting my book away in her bag. It was only the second time I've seen someone reading my book in nature, and the other time was on the same bus in June. Hmmm...hope it wasn't the same girl. My book doesn't take five months to finish, I think...

Speaking of which, I got a chance to read more of The Mailman yesterday, and it's brilliant.
A scientist thinks it's not fair to stereotype turkeys.

Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Parking spaces a' plenty in Hoboken today.

It's raining hard. The last of the fall leaves are face down in the street, sucking at it like plungers.

I think after work I will get the first three episodes of the fourth season of the Sopranos and start watching. Don't none of y'all go get it before me. I hate to watch it out of order.


There has been a steady stream of cars on my street for an hour. I didn't realize so many people would return from Thanksgiving so soon. Not just me -- I guess other people have to work tomorrow, too.

I was remembering how, a few years ago, my mom and I cooked turkey in my apartment and we decided to feed the family dog first so that she wouldn't bother us while we were eating. We filled her bowl with large pieces of turkey and then went to feed ourselves. When we sat down to eat, my mom said, "Look!" I looked at the end of the kitchen, and the bowl was empty and the dog was on her side on the floor, snoring.

The dog lived to be nearly 14 years old. I am thankful for that.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!!

Any day where one can make a pig of herself is a good day.

I wanted to post the lyrics of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's campy "Turkey Lurkey Time" here, but apparently the song is so well-regarded that even websites featuring about 60 Bacharach songs don't have it.

I watched some of the parade on TV this morning - it was actually funny. Donald Trump was in a helicopter talking about some of the buildings in New York and about how beautiful Central Park was, and he said, "Too bad it's not for sale." It made me laugh.

Someone e-mailed me at 7 a.m. to tell me how much she liked my book. She said she was sad when it ended. Isn't that sweet?

By the way, Mook was right -- it looks like a very sunny day so far. He's talented.

Anyway...I am thankful that I am healthy, that there are good, kind people in my life like you, that there are good, kind people in the world in general, that someone discovered it's yummy to mix sweet potatoes and marshmallows, and that I am in America. Have a great turkey day.


Dawn has a very interesting post today, in response to a confrontational question from a friend.

People ask me a lot how I met her or became friends with her. She worked at the same newspaper as me many years ago, but I didn't see her around for a while after that. Then a few years ago, I saw her at a party and happened to tell her that my friend Jon and I go to team trivia nights in Brooklyn a lot, and that they're a big trend in Philly but for some reason, not too many people were doing them in New York. So she said she knew of a bar that would be perfect to try it out. So we set it up. It's still going strong, attracting 40-60 people per week. It's a fun and low-stress way to get to know people in a bar, and have a lot of laughs.

Last night, by the way, the team names were very clever and funny. I have to put a list of them here later. One of them was, "Paris Hilton and Jacko's special Thanksgiving gravy."


There is a consensus here that today's Dilbert cartoon does not make sense.
Woke put, put on clothes, went to work.

Lori writes that Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was already on, and that she doesn't see Rudolph coming up in the TV listings at all. It better be coming on...do not mess with tradition.

In light of the upcoming holiday, today will be busy at work, so I wish you all a happy Toosday!


I looked to see what will be on TV this week in honor of Thanksgiving. Usually they have specials on, or at least another showing of "Home Alone." This year, there's nada.
I shouldn't keep debating these things, but Mr. Anonymous, another blogger, writes that he's mad that someone gave "no chemistry" as a reason for not dating him. I agree that it was a cop-out when the woman who never even met him said it. But the truth is, sometimes it simply means you're not feeling anything. If someone presses you for a reason, your reason is likely to be less honest than the truth: you just ain't feelin' it yet... Granted, sometimes it takes patience (which is where second dates come in) and if someone really likes you, I think you should always be willing to at least be their friend (something that guys hate to hear anyway, even if it's an extended chance to get to know you). A lot of it is intangibles, or sometimes tangibles that are hard to explain. If dating were easy, there wouldn't be 7,000 books, movies and TV shows about it.

One thing that could happen is, people could put more effort into trying to be kind and making an effort to make whoever they're dating happy, even if it doesn't work out.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I saw a white dove among some pigeons on the way to work this morning. I said, "Pretty dove. Aren't you a pretty dove?" It flew up onto a window sill.

I came in early and filed some photos I should have filed months ago. That's progress.


Thanksgiving weather report from Mook the Meteorologist: Thanksgiving looks nice in the morning, and perhaps some clouds and showers in the afternoon. I'm kinda suspicious on that though. I think it will be nicer...


This actually IS about turkey...turkey flavored soda!!

Amandita of the "Human Mishaps" blog also submitted this headline: Turkey vows to catch bombing accomplices.
I got another one of these:

Woke up, put on clothes, didn't go to work.

A reader writes: "Thanks to you, I'm now seeing news about Turkey in a Thanksgiving light. '[About a dozen detained in Turkey blasts.]' Who could be blowing up those poor turkeys? What kind of twisted Thanksgiving prank is that?"

Must be a WKRP thing.

And now, the weather...
Mook the guest meteorologist says:
Got a blizzard coming to the midwest
minnesota/wisconsin area
by late sunday and monday
could get a foot of snow at least out there
snow's going to miss us though
we'll just get some rain/some wind monday/tuesday period

And we're not...


Well, we all took our departing co-worker out for drinks. Problem was, it got silly enough that at one point some of us started writing "DEF LEPPARD" on the napkins because I talked about the slanty way it used to be written on the desks at school in the '80s, so we had to see who was the best at still writing it that way. Really bad. I'm home now and safe from bringing up further corny topics. Whew.

I also mentioned at the time how, in fourth grade, a girl wore a Molly Hatchet t-shirt to school and I was stupid enough to say, "What's Molly Hatchet?" Another girl said, "You don't know what Molly Hatchet is???" But the girl who was wearing the shirt was nice, and said, "That's okay. It's a rock group."
Here's a Pilby-like (Pilbescent) experience compliments of Mr. Anonymous. I think his daily updates are much enjoyed by readers of this blog.
The official description of my forthcoming second novel (March, 2004) is now on Amazon.

Book 3, which is in progress, is still causing me pain. It's just easier to write humor, and this book isn't a comedy, although there's some humor in it. I'm going to spend more quality time with it tonight, after taking a co-worker for drinks (it's his last day).
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I keep reading AP headlines like "Turkey makes arrests of 27" and thinking it has to do with Thanksgiving.

I just corrected someone's news story that referred to the "Pot Authority."


Everything has to be done in moderation. I hear more and more about people I know being on the Atkins diet. They shun carbs, but sometimes eat foods (like hamburger meat) high in saturated fats. Here's a negative story about it. I'm not a nutritionist, but I'd just say -- use common sense.

Weight Watchers has been sending around anti-Atkins releases, but their profits are threatened, so I have to look at that in its proper context, too.
If you are British, working on a novel, and want a good contest to enter to get an agent, click here. Too bad they aren't doing this in America -- I don't have too many British readers.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


This, from an Associated Press report on Michael Jackson:

The district attorney said the investigation had been under way for some time, and he ridiculed any connection to the CD's release: "Like the sheriff and I are really into that kind of music."
Mook the Guest Meteorologist is good at what he does, and he's right that it's been drizzly for a few days. But I don't feel the cold front he predicted just yet. Maybe later...
Etymology lesson of the day: I just looked on dictionary.com for the word "wuss," since a reporter used it in a story. It gives this origin:

[Probably blend of wimp, and pussy.]
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

The Anonymous Blogger gets more and more interesting. He's seeking advice on how to be less bitter toward women.

Hey, how about realizing that women also deal with nonsense in the dating world -- and they're not ALLOWED to get bitter about it? After all, women who complain are 'bitchy' or 'crazy,' and no one wants to date them. Unless they're hot.

I think Mr. Anonymous should read women's and men's magazines and see the silliness we ALL have to put up with. Also, consider -- as men often don't -- how much effort we spend trying to make ourselves palatable to them. Men and women both have it tough, so thinking you're the only one who's been hurt is narrow. All women are not the same. For every girl who emulates Carrie on Sex in the City, there's one who reads comic books. The trick is finding the right one, who also feels comfortable with you -- and yes, it means jumping through hoops sometimes. It's rough all around.


Dawn's blog entry today got read on an AM station.
I've already gotten a dubious 'thanks' for the link to Mr. Anonymous. So I'll include a warning: The entry is slightly salacious.
No wonder the Anonymous Blogger wants to be anonymous. He's really getting into some delicate subject matter here.

Take a lesson from Jennifer Weiner and don't dump a latte on your laptop.
Someone asked me if I think my book-in-progress will really need to be 400 pages. He said most books he reads these days could stand to be shorter. My book probably won't be that long, but I know what he means. There are too many skimmable passages in certain books. For more on this, see B.R. Myer's excellent (and slim) tome: "A Reader's Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in American Prose." Reading it is like a breath of fresh air.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I got one of my favorite reader e-mails ever overnight:

This is great,
I just wanted to thank you for a graet book! I bought it when I was in D.C.
Now I´m back in Sweden... I hope your new book will be published here and I
really hope so, I think you re a graet writer!


Was anyone as big a fan of the Great Brain books as me? They were simple yet wonderful childhood reading. Well, the film rights were just optioned to a movie producer. They describe the book as "Featuring a young intrepid rascal who predates Harry Potter." Oh, this is so much better than Harry Potter. No magic, just good western horse-sense.

I felt like having a peanut butter and banana sandwich for dinner. So I used the jar of peanut butter from my Terror Kit.

I guess I'm just screwed now.

My book is "Book of the Week" on www.girlfriendbooks.com, and they've posted a review. Aren't surprises nice?
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

My guest meteorologist, Mook, gives us this weather report:

isentropic lift inducing drizzle and light rain today,
cold front comes wednesday bringing heavy rain and wind for mid week.


I was further along on Book 3 than I'd thought. I guess all of those passages I'd added in along the way are coming together. I've divided it up into parts 1 and 2, both of which may have almost 200 pages. It's easier to work on that way. I'm focusing on Part 1 for now. A lot of Part 2 is written, but I'm saving it for later.

Yesterday, I violated my decision to stay in all day, and I went to look at the coat again. It didn't fit me just right, so I didn't get it. I went into a different coat store in my hometown and a woman said to me, "I know you! You're famous. Or infamous, as the case may be." Hmmm.

For those coming here for the first time, my homepage and e-mail information is at www.carenlissner.com, as well as book stuff. People doing web searches on me are coming here these days rather than there.


Only 8.5 hours until Writing Hell Weekend begins. Rejoice! Everyone have a good one.
Look at the original cover for my forthcoming second book while you can, because it's being changed.
Only one day stands between me and a hellish (but hopefully ultimately fulfilling) Writing Weekend. I'm gathering food to stay in.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I was looking at home for my favorite pants, which I had picked up at the dry cleaners last week. They weren't at home. I figured I had brought them to work and left them. Not at work either. Eventually I decided to go back to the dry cleaners to see if I'd paid for the pants and then left them there.



I saw a really expensive coat I wanted. The next phase for me, as a member of the female gender, to take four days to convince myself why I really deserve it, and why it's not so much money after all, etc., etc. Well, I am still in a three-year-old coat that's falling apart because I can't find a new one I like. So maybe it's time...

It's not really THAT expensive.
I've been griping for two weeks about having too much to do. I think I've gone to New York after work almost every night for some reason. Tonight, I had to go to a U. Penn reading in SoHo, then head uptown to meet with some other writers from the 'chick lit' listserve in the Village. And as I was running from one place to the other, I thought, isn't it wonderful that I'm only a $1.50 PATH ride away from all of these events? Some day, when I look back on this time, maybe I'll see it not as a hectic period, but as a lot of fun.
There's a windstorm today. A weatherwise acquaintance of mine says it'll keep up until tomorrow afternoon.
Someone wrote to me and thought I was defending Steve Glass in yesterday's post. I wasn't at all...I was just providing some background for anyone who's interested in the case. I don't think making up facts in news stories is defensible -- it's the opposite of what one is supposed to do.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Adam Penenberg, the first journalist to write about Steve Glass's fabricated articles, has a blog.

I said yesterday that I would write more about Glass. What I want to write about a little is something that isn't chronicled in "Shattered Glass" -- the culture of the college newspaper where he (and I) sharpened journalism skills, the Daily Pennsylvanian.

The DP is an extremely intense daily paper. It comes out Monday through Friday, and journalists sometimes get there as early as 3 p.m. (after class) each weekday and stay until 11 or 12 every night. Obviously, it's not easy to do that and maintain good grades, although some have done both. The highlight of the evening used to be ordering at 9 p.m. from Powelton Pizza, which we got in exchange for advertising.

I entered U. Penn as a very gung-ho journalist. I loved writing, I loved finding things out, I loved photography, and I loved going to news events. But having to be there so late almost every night wore me out. After three semesters beat reporting, I veered toward humor columns. I didn't think I could pass classes and spend 40 hours a week at the DP.

Only the strong survive, and the people who went on to become editors were very talented. The windowless DP offices, on a not-very-nice corner of West Philly, are called the "Pink Palace" because of the painted pink trim inside. It's an intense environment. For someone who loves journalism, it's a place to have one's writing sharpened better than in any class.

This was the place where Steve Glass rose to the highest position, executive editor. Obviously, he loved what he was doing, worked hard, and had a strong set of beliefs.

He graduated in '94, during the recession, when most of us who were looking for writing jobs couldn't get bit. His byline eventually started appearing in Harper's, P.O.V. (short-lived mag founded by Penn grads) and of course, the New Republic. He also enrolled in law school. All of that stuff was tough to juggle, and these were coveted slots. Maybe he just couldn't do all of it. I don't think he was used to failure.
Another great moment. Fourth grade. We're going over our spelling words. One of the words is "supreme."

A boy in the third row announces, "Dolly Parton has supremes."

The class laughs for five minutes.
Sometimes I have a random childhood flashback that I don't want to forget, so here's one I just thought of for absolutely no reason:

I learned a lot of great things by watching General Hospital, like what rape was and what the word "aphrodesiac" meant. I don't quite remember the context of the latter. But only weeks after learning it, I was in seventh grade English class (or Language Arts, as it was called), and we were studying Greek mythology. Our teacher asked, "Does anyone know what an aphrodesiac is?"

I knew I had heard the word. Then I suddenly remembered what it was and said, before I could stop myself, "Oh, I know what it means!" Then I started giggling because I didn't know how to politely explain it. "What?" my nosy friend Missy asked. "What is it?" Our teacher said, "If you're giggling, then you know what it means."

Missy leaned over my desk and told me to whisper it to her, so I did.

Then she lifted her head up and shouted, "IT'S A DRUG THAT MAKES YOU WANT TO HAVE SEX!!!"

I had actually said "something" rather than "drug." That Missy. What a mouth.
I have to get some of my old essays up on my main website. I'll do it when I have time. Which probably means next year...
Woke up, put clothes on, went to work.
Some really loud planes have flown over New York tonight.


More on Steve Glass, this from the Washington Post about his appearance at a university.

I'm going to write more about this later.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

But first I had to go to P.S. 5 in Jersey City to read a book called FLAT STANLEY to the kids as part of "National Young Readers Day."

Shortly thereafter, school closed early because of a water main break.

It wasn't me -- I swear!


The Anonymous Blogger is actually making anonymous appearances. Maybe he'll come to trivia with a bag over his head. I'm beginning to feel like Chuck Barris there anyway -- might as well have an Unknown Comic.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


A friend and I were discussing the song "Disco Duck" and the fact that our dads can do the "Donald Duck voice," but neither of us can do it. You know, that duck-voice you make at the back of your throat. Is it a recessive gene or something?


Does anyone really expect us to believe these continued weird scam e-mails?

Dear Sirs,
I got your contact from the Cote d' Ivoire directory. I am miss Loveth Tureh from Abidjan in Republique of Cote d Ivoire. my late Parents Chief Dr and Lolo Ahmed tureh, who was into cocoa/Cotton export, died last year after a brief accident. before the death of my father he deposited two big trunk boxes containing us$ 22.4 million with other family valuables with security company here in Cote d'Ivoire.
My readings are today. I am in Philthadelphia right now, about to come back to NYC.

The next weekend is going to be all writing, all the time - or I'll never get it done. That's a promise! Of course, I'll take breaks to pig out.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I will start working on novel 3 again the weekend after next, if it kills me. I have a good idea of all the stuff I need to cut out of it now. Yes, it's a lot, and I had to step back to see that. But then I can beef up the rest. I have no time to write this weekend or the next week, but I gotta get back to it before someone else does something similar.

Next week is the second anniversary of my publishing company, Red Dress Ink. When they formed to publish books about women in their twenties and thirties, an agent commented in a Newsweek article, "I think they're getting there a little late." It was hard not to agree -- Bridget Jones was a couple of years old by then. But RDI was good at predicting the market, and they took on some more unusual books in addition to the standard ones, and they're growing and growing. My book in March 2004 is coming out through them, and Novel 3 probably will not be, as it's a completely different genre, but I'm pleased about how well they're doing. Happy anniversary!

I'm still enjoying The Mailman, when I have time to read...it's reminding me how good writing can be.


This is one of those busy weeks where I run from work to bus to train to work to bus to train and nod off on the train, or half-hallucinate. It's OK, though. Better busy than bored, I guess. And at least right now I have no phone calls to return. It's much more convenient to use e-mail (hint hint.)
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

My diet is the opposite of the Atkins diet. Maybe what I should do is only eat meals with people who are on Atkins. We can order a cheeseburger, and I can eat the cheese and bread, and they can eat the meat.


Tonight's winning trivia name elicited howls from the audience. I was surprised at the volume of reaction. I forget the exact wording, but it was something about God being against the Schwarzenegger vote, and that's why California's on fire.

I've noticed that blogs with the word blog in them get found on Google a lot, so here I'm putting the word blog in my blog.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Thanks to Janet for this link on former Daily Pennsylvanian reporters' views of Steve Glass. It includes comments from the man himself.
I'm not sure exactly what writers' block is -- which is not to say that I haven't been stymied many times. It's just that I haven't experienced what I'd consider a mental block. There have many times when I needed to take a break and go into a "thinking period." It's a hard time, because there's no telling how long it might take to come up with the ideas I need to fix whatever the problem is that I've encountered. It could take a few days or a few weeks. The solution or next plot twist or resolution might come while I'm crossing the street, listening to strangers talk to each other, reading other people's writing or just going through daily life. But it's always on my mind during that time.

There was one time when I became convinced I had to rewrite an entire screenplay because I thought of a better plot twist, and I got index cards and mapped it all out a different way, then realized the first way was better. But all of those exercises are useful, somehow. (Not that the thing ever proved worthy in the end, but I'm glad I wrote it.)

Usually, I've let a story gel for a long time before I start writing it, so that's probably why I don't get blocked so much. I don't just start with one idea and see where it takes me. One of the things I learned early on was to know how a story will end before you begin it. Although that might change.

On another note, I just added the back cover copy of Square Two here.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I have a good idea for a short story I want to write. But I can't do it right now. At least this way it can percolate.


One of the reasons it took me a while to start a blog is that I used to look at other people's blogs and get annoyed if they hadn't been updated in a while. Not annoyed at the author, just annoyed for a second that there was nothing new. When you start one, there's kind of an implied promise to update it at least once in a while. So I didn't want to make that promise. I still can't, really; I'm not going to have enough worthwhile or pithy thoughts to share every day, and some of them might need to go into my other writing. Or -- who knows -- they might even go into conversation.


I was just remembering what it was like as a kid seeing the last two teenagers coming up to the door at 9 p.m., watching them wait with open pillowcases under the porchlight, and knowing they were the last visitors of Halloween for this year.


Someone sent me an apologetic message about not being able to come to the readings...that's SILLY. Your support is appreciated every single day. Many of you already read my book, have come to trivia, or something else -- there's no obligation to come. I probably will have a new reading in March when my new book comes out. For anyone who does come, see ya there!
The Anonymous Blogger finds me quotable.
(*CORRECTED*) READINGS Saturday, Nov. 8
Readers: Caren Lissner, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Danyel Smith
Note that the order has changed...

2 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
Park Slope
267 Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

5 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
Upper West Side
2289 Broadway
NY, NY 10024
Tel: 212-721-5282

7:30 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
Greenwich Village
396 Avenue of the Americas (cor. of 8th Street)
NY, NY 10011
Tel: 212-674-4679

Woke up, got dmsmflmmlsgmmmmcandycandycandy


Suggestion of the day: "You should come do a reading or two in Minneapolis. Sometime in the next few weeks would be ideal, as the temps have been dropping and we've had snow already. Awww, c'mon, dontcha LIKE cold and snow? Maybe we could arrange someone to cater in some nice lutefisk and a cream-of-mushroom-hotdish for the event."
I'm doing readings at three Barnes & Nobles in New York City next Saturday, Nov. 8, in conjunction with two other writers. The readings will be at 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Actually, one of them is in Brooklyn. More info to come.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


For newcomers, I have a mainpage with info about my novel, as well as my second book coming out in March, reviews, etc. I say this because people putting my name into Google usually end up here first.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Several years ago, I was sitting in the newsroom at the paper I work for when a colleague who was reading the New York Times said, "An editor at the New Republic has been fired for making up stories!" I thought to myself, "Imagine if it was Steve Glass" since he was a year behind me in college and I had heard that he got a dreamjob at the New Republic not long after graduation. It turned out it was him.

At my college reunion, I assumed that my former Daily Pennsylvanian journalism colleagues would be keeping mum on it, out of respect for Steve, who'd been the top editor. Instead, I saw another former editor and the first thing he said to me was, "Did you hear about Steve Glass!?!?" So it was apparently something to be talked about.

I didn't know him too well, and I don't have much to offer to the discussion about him, but I did just read an interesting interview about how he sees the new movie about him. The interviewer keeps trying to find out if he's somewhat gay at one point, but doesn't come out and ask. She might as well have. You have to watch a Salon ad to read the full piece.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


A college friend writes: "Being a husband and a father now, I can see where there are a LOT of pitfalls that many marriages won't withstand - even those with 2 committed loving partners. Even among those who wait. Money, childbearing and child rearing attitudes...and all that baggage that each partner brings to the relationship, that have nothing to do with the person's partner. I'm surprised that the divorce rate isn't higher than it is. "

He also asked how I'm enjoying The Mailman by J. Robert Lennon. It's a great book. I'm finding that even though it's "literary," I'm reading every word, and often I tend to skim in other books. It usually takes a lot to hold my attention. So if you want a good read, pick it up.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


I just went to work to catch up on all the mail that collected in the week I was away. The most exciting thing was a press release entitled, "Does your dog have Alzheimer's?"
I am hearing very discouraging things about the practice of marriage lately. I was in a writing workshop today and read ten memoirs, and many of them involved people who seemed to have zero affection for their husbands or wives. And on Saturday, a guy told me the usual about how yeah, he and his wife had sex a lot the first year of marriage, but now they just fight a lot. I guess I just don't know enough about it, but it seems to me that it takes long enough to date, get engaged, and plan a wedding that you should know enough about the person you're marrying to be able to figure out if you respect them and care about them, besides being attracted to them. And then that should last at least a little while.

I know that dealing with the same person for years can be hard, but I guess I'm confused by the people who seem utterly uninterested and who don't respect their spouses at all. I'm from a generation who fears divorce because of our parents, and often holds out for someone we think is really, really great, and we're criticized for it. But you need that level of affection to get through the hard times. When I see an old couple sitting at dinner and one of them puts his/her hand on the other's shoulder, that shows me he/she cares enough about the other person to still want to touch them affectionately as a matter of course. I can't think of a worse fate than committing to someone you only sorta like.
Don't forget to set your clock back. You get an extra hour. It will take me an hour to set all the clocks.


Since Valerie was kind enough to post minutes of Tuesday Night Trivia, I should link to that entry. And she's right - the talented Tony is hosting next week, so come one, come all.
Woke up, put clothes on, didn't go to work.

It's amazing how I can spend so much time on a certain scene in my novel, and then, after writing a lot more of the story and knowing the big picture, I realize the best thing for the book would be to completely lop it out. Even if the scene itself is well-written, it doesn't move the story along and it slows things down. Hack, hack hack. Gotta know when to let go.


I was shopping Tuesday and they were playing music that sounded pretty good. So before I left the store, I asked the cashier whose CD it was.

"That's Clay Aiken's CD," she said.

Woke up, got dressed, didn't go to work.

I had a good writing morning. Did one of my last screenplay revisions. I got pretty drawn into the story, so I think it works.
Are a lot of celebrities dying young lately? Or is it just that my generation is getting older and noticing more? Until this year, the only celebs who I'd grown up with who died were Heather O'Rourke and River Phoenix. Oh, and Kimberly from Diff'rent Strokes, and I'm sure I'm forgetting someone. But as time marches on, we'll see more of them, I guess. Well, rest in peace, Rerun (Fred Berry). I hate these signs of aging. Like those creases in one's forehead that appear one day at 31 and just stay there...


The Italian cover of my book is certainly interesting.
I finally registered on the Do Not Call list even though at first I decided not to. I declined originally because most of the people who work for telemarketing firms really need the money. But these days, most of the calls I get are just irritating computer messages anyway. It takes three months for Do Not Call to be activated after you register, so if you're interested, might as well do it now by clicking here.
Woke up, put clothes on, didn't go to work. It's a writing week.


Woke up, put clothes on, didn't go to work. I'm off writing today.

For anyone new who finds their way here, I have a homepage.


Woke up, put on clothes, didn't go to work.

There should be a national day for writing thank-you letters. I thought of that because there's a longtime screenwriter whose work I admire that I figured I should write a fan letter to. It doesn't matter if he gets a lot of them; it still doesn't hurt to send one more.

I do try to write thank-you letters when someone gives me really good service. I wrote one about a Sears employee who took a lot of time to change my watch battery a few years ago. I figured, for the $6 an hour she makes, it wouldn't hurt for her bosses to see something nice.

Writing that kind of letter is something I think a lot of us consider doing at some point, but it takes time. Yet, it's precisely because they're rare that it's nice to write one.

Today's reader update: "You Said: But someone also said this blog is starting to read like a romance novel, so enough about dating. If we do any more on male/female relations here, we'll never recover.
Are you suggesting Female/female relations? Wow Caren, now I am really starting to dig this blog! -- Mickey"


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I got all kinds of interesting updates yesterday and today, including a lurker coming out of the darkness to suggest that I get together with Mr. Anonymous. Also, a friend complained that Anonymous probably only goes for younger women, avoiding women in their 30s because they don't want to just "fool around." I'd have to point out that Anonymous did say he tried to date a divorcee. But someone also said this blog is starting to read like a romance novel, so enough about dating. If we do any more on male/female relations here, we'll never recover.

Lots to do today, so have a great weekend.
Something I just heard a loudmouth girl outside my window yell:

"I can't believe we fucking lost! AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! It is fucking heartwrenching!"


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

The anonymous blogger finally responded. Isn't this fun? I will have to respond (hopefully concisely) to his response later on. But I appreciate the plug for the next book. And I'm glad he found things in the first one to like even though he's more into sci-fi and the like. So thanks, guy.


Update: I didn't realize that Anonymous had posted about me before recently, because I didn't check the archives. I'm glad he likes my author photo. Thanks. But I also read about how he thinks women have it easier in the dating scene, because it's up to men to "drive" the relationship. Trust me, that makes it harder. Yes, women do have some say in it -- they get to say "No." But do they ever get to make things happen if they meet someone they like? I have several friends who have nursed serious crushes for a while and finally tried to make something happen - and have been rejected. And it feels disgusting and devastating. So don't think women have it easier. Women get rejected all the time. And it feels worse than for a guy, but I won't go into why now because you'll beg to differ anyway. Maybe what we can agree on is that it's not easy for anyone, and leave it at that.
I'm dying to know who the Anonymous Blogger is now. Maybe he'll 'fess up at trivia one day. Or maybe he'll e-mail me.
This guy links to my blog. I'm sure he'd disagree with me, but many women have as much trouble dating as men. Moreso, because as you can see from his latest entry, the ball was in his court and he didn't take the chance. What both sides sometimes forget is that you can't help who, in the end, you have feelings for or don't have feelings for. But you SHOULD try to get to know other people, and they should be open to it. It's just that it might not always result in a relationship -- and it's not anyone's fault. It doesn't mean you did something wrong or you're ugly or you're a bad person. (I will say, though, that sometimes guys don't tell women enough about themselves -- this guy writes in his blog a lot but doesn't say much about what he actually has in common with these women, besides being attracted to them. I don't blame him for not wanting to get personal and write about it -- I imagine there's more to it than what's in the blog. I hope so, cuz women can be insecure too, and the more they know about someone, the more they have to talk about.) In any case, there are lots of intangibles in dating, and no guarantees. Hopefully it ultimately leads to what makes you happy for a long time.

That's about enough for today.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Mickey writes: "The Corvair was a great car! And the Gremlin can be turned into a great stock car!"


Tonight's trivia highlight: Co-host Rich Appel did a visual round with photos of junky cars from the '70s and '80s. The Corvair, Gremlin, Yugo, Fiesta and LeCar were all well represented. For one of them, someone guessed, "Hearse." Rich said, "Well, actually, that was all of them."

I just wrote a passage of self-analysis, but I deleted it because I keep most of that out of this blog. I know, I know, it'd be fun to read, but plumbing the core of my personality would let everyone know which parts of my books come from me and which don't, and that would ruin all the fun, wouldn't it?
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Woke up, put on clothes, didn't go to work.


I've been wanting to write this for a while, and since today's a quiet day, I might as well do it now.

There's a new subset of people who are angry at Bush right now, for semi-selfish reasons.

When the economy was good, some of these folks didn't understand at all how anyone could be poor or need to depend on big government. Now that THEY are poor because they lost their jobs and couldn't get another one, and unemployment ran out, all of a sudden they want more benefits and government regulation. I'm hearing it more and more.

Recently, my newspaper got a letter from a woman who was earning $40,000 a few years ago (a very good salary well above the poverty line, although some would scoff at it), and after losing her job and being unable to find another one, she says she'll soon be on the street. She said she tried to get benefits, but was unable to because she's not a "crack mother with 12 kids." Ironically, the point of her article was that you shouldn't judge why someone is on the street.

Now, first off, the crack mother with 12 kids is a myth -- unless she lives in the same neighborhood as the woman with two Cadillacs on Welfare and the "lazy" people who are homeless because it's just so much easier to sleep on the sidewalk and ask for money than go into an air conditioned office and sit in front of a computer every day. Even if there has been some case like that in the course of history, it's certainly not the norm, and to act like it is is very lazy in itself.

Now, then. This woman all of a sudden decides she wants government benefits -- and she can't get them. And another guy, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, wrote a USA TODAY story three weeks ago about how he can't get benefits because he makes $960 a month freelance writing (he lives in campgrounds). An acquaintance of mine recently told me he is no longer a Libertarian because he sees how corporations can squeeze the little guy, and there needs to be more control. He recently lost his job.

My question is, why do people have to lose their jobs to suddenly realize that you can become poor or need to depend on the govt. without it being your fault? Can't people ever look beyond their own experience? When folks were doing fine, couldn't they have imagined that there were OTHER people who involuntarily lost jobs, became mentally ill, or had some other problem that made them depend on benefits?

So the nouveau poor are mad at the gov't. But you know, I'd have more sympathy for someone who's homeless and mentally ill than someone who was making a decent salary at a dot-com and didn't have the foresight to put money in a savings account. Yet, what I just said isn't fair, either -- it makes an assumption that people who are unemployed or poor right now were lazy or stupid about their money. And probably, most of them weren't.

Here's my point. Don't decide your political views based on your own narrow experience. Don't make assumptions about the world unless you really look at it. Don't do what's easiest.

Conservatives got angry recently when they saw that the University of North Carolina was requiring incoming freshmen to read and discuss Barbara Ehrenreich's book "Nickel and Dimed," about trying to get by on minimum wage. The book is non-fiction. It probably does have a liberal bent, but it's about the way the world really works. It's not fantasy stories about crack mothers with twelve kids. What were they afraid of - people finding out that poverty sucks?


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.
An argument for my NOT having a blog is that my spur-of-the-moment writing can be pretty bad sometimes. And here it is, for the whole world.


More to read at my homepage: www.carenlissner.com.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Did same thing yesterday.


A final comment from M.S.: Wives are always on a sex strike. That is why God invented girlfriends.
Vidiot writes: Why do you THINK he's groping people? (You know, aside from being married
to Skeletor.)

You Republicans are so stupid. You just put Ted Kennedy's niece into the governor's mansion in California. If her family wants her to put liberal policies put into practice, she can withhold sex until she gets what she wants. He has been charitable in the past, but if he gets too right-wing, all we have to do is urge his wife to go on a sex strike. Thanks!!!


Reader mail: "I was in search of Blackfords print as well and came across your site.
Wanted to say hi. I'm an actor currently running in Labyrinth's
production of DUTH HEART OF MAN. Last seen in OUR LADY OF 121st STREET.
Check out our site at labtheater.org or an old site ourlady121.com.
Hope you got your print.

Tonight's winning trivia team name: "Roy Horn tries 'pu**y' for first time - doesn't go too well."
I keep forgetting to mention that at trivia, one of my questions a few weeks ago was, "What is Monica Lewinsky's middle initial?" Someone wrote, "O. Like the face."

I heard the clip of this (below) on the radio, and it was hysterical. Not that I condone shooting anyone. What will happen over the next day is that people will be outraged at the remark, and then there will be reverse-backlash by parents saying, "Well, even though I don't agree with shooting, I can see where she's coming from...":

News report: Britney Spears had better watch her back. Maryland First Lady Kendel Ehrlich joked to a crowd at a domestic violence seminar at Hood College in Frederick on Friday that she has it in for the pop star.
"Really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would," said Ehrlich, laughing.
She says Spears gives young girls the false message that finding and having sex with a man is more important that anything else.
Kendel Ehrlich is the wife of Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich.

Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Finally finished my fourth and last round of edits on book 2 and sent it back to my editor. This is the downside of publishing - spending entire weekends making sure that something you wrote two years ago is perfect. Only then can you move on to new stuff. Well, except that I will get galleys around December...and have to check THOSE....
Who's setting up these Monday Night Football games so a team that's way behind always catches up and makes for a nail-biter?


It is unfortunate when you run for prez and someone else has already taken your domain name: www.wesleyclark.com
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Got MILF? Someone else found my blog by putting in Blackford's name, and also today, someone found it by putting in "Pics of busty moms."


A friend tells me that Leno said:

"Have you been following the leak of the CIA agent?
Bush was furious and told his staff for once he wanted the truth and
wanted it NOW.
So they said - -
You lost the election and you aren't really the president."
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

A friend writes: "I cast my vote with Vidiot, his inaccurate details notwithstanding."

Well, a pox on all of you. I may not know much about art, but I know what I like.


Last night I got to hear J. Robert Lennon read from The Mailman. I bought a copy, which I will read quite soon. He's an amazing writer who I luckily got to share a writing seminar or two with in college.
A majority of polled Americans think it's a good idea that someone independent investigate the CIA leak. This has the makings of a long-term story...
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Got this e-mail:
I find the "Redbird in Air" poster quite disturbing each time I see it.
Every single time, I think something along the lines of "Gosh, that subway car weighs so much more than that basket full of children...and any moment
now, it'll drop like a rock and pull the basket plummeting along after it."
Just thought you should know.

It's only one child, fool. He's clutching a stuffed rabbit.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

The New York Transit Museum Store says it's sold out of "Redbird in Air," a popular John Blackford poster on the NYC subway system featuring a train. The reason I keep mentioning it here is that there's very little on the Internet about it and I people keep Googling it and getting to my site. Anyway, they are going to print up more, so if you got here looking for info, check their site and get on the wait list. The poster is the perfect depiction of childhood dreams.
Team trivia was great tonight. Every chair was taken, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. There was apparently a blurb about it in Time Out New York this week, and it brought some newcomers to mix with the old-timers and their "in" jokes. Thanks to all who came by.

I did a top 10 list of states with the most tornado deaths. I also asked the following question: Who appeared in the movie "Something About Mary," which was shown on network TV this past Sunday, and then appeared the next day in Monday Night Football?


If I had free Dave Matthews tickets, I'd pay someone to take them.

Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

You asked for it, you got it -- cold weather.

(as opposed to Toyota.)


The great literary gossip website MobyLives has a column (look at the left side of the page) by Steve Almond ("My Life in Heavy Metal") responding to Harold Bloom. He doesn't quite have the same flair as Lori G.,, but he says: "[King] is, at worst, an uneven writer, one who dips down into pulp, but also has produced—particularly of late—some genuinely moving prose...The point, as I see it, is how most effectively to wake up our culture from its current stupor."
Things seem to be rapidly improving in the lives of several people I know. It's the fall -- that's it. I knew this summer was evil. In the last few days, at least two people have told me they're tired of this warm weather and want fall to come. So I'm not crazy.

I got an e-mail from a blog reader and its subject head was: "Evil, Painful, Convoluted First Chapter."
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

The CIA believes a White House operative may have revealed one of their covert agents' names as revenge for her husband's undermining one of Bush's State of the Union claims about Iraq. I know this isn't a political blog, but this seems important so click if interested.


Woke up, put on clothes, didn't go to work.

At least one person a day finds this blog by putting my name into Google. Just in case you come here and aren't aware, I have a regular page at www.carenlissner.com.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Update: "Excellent rejoinders by Lori and James.

And good to know your readers are not all as simple-minded as the knucklehead who made the inane remark about why and where you might have long-handed parts of Carrie."
James from college writes:

You know, literature (all writing of any type, in fact) has been gradually going to hell in a handbasket since the days of Tacitus. Just ask any critic. I'm not sure if I would want to denigrate JK Rowling or discourage children from reading her books, though. I grew up reading Readers' Digest (my mother-in-law still cringes at that). It is the first material I can
ever remember reading, and I did it because I liked the stories. It wasn't until about 10 years ago that I realized the stories are abridged from other sources.

I don't think it has affected my taste in Literature for the worse. My favorite book, after all, is The Sound and the Fury, closely followed by All The King's Men, not The Green Mile or Hollywood Wives.
My friend Lori couldn't help herself and wrote a response to Harold Bloom:

Harold Bloom, I don't know who you are, but you are a stuffy, pompous ass. *Nothing* is going to lead today's kids to pick up Kipling. Got that? Nothing. Is he living in the same era as I am? Does he actually know people with children, and I'm not talking about children of academics and politicians who live in Westfield, NJ. Kids do not want to read Kipling -- they want to watch their DVD of Disney's "Jungle Book." Ditto for "Alice" and any other book that has had a cartoon rendering. And to think otherwise is only an example of how completely out of touch you are.

"Literature" as a 73-year old knows it went the way of women making sure their husband's slippers were waiting at the front door and his dinner was ready for him when he got from a hard day at the office. No one wants to read anything anymore. Everyone wants to watch reality shows, blow up stuff in video games, and then look for porn on the Internet -- even kids! (And people who don't believe that THEIR kids are looking for nudie pics -- or worse -- on the Web, I pose the question: why then is there such a market for parental controls? I have very rarely stumbled upon porn I wasn't intently seeking out in the first place.)

My feeing is that if kids want to read a book where all the characters "stretch their legs" too often, yet it stretches their imaginations and gets them interested and excited about something (even if it's the occult) isn't that still better than playing Grand Theft Auto, where you get extra points for beating up and robbing the hooker you just hired and climbed with into the backseat of a car?

My teacher friends were all so thrilled when the Harry Potter phenom started. Kids were reading something, anything, *and* now, maybe they could slowly nudge them into reading something else. How can you suggest that it's not a good thing?

You have to work within the confines of the reality you've been given -- it's a more productive use of your energy than whining about "the old days" and being horrified by the popularity of Stephen King -- that's *so* 1985.

Kids are not going to pick up "Moby Dick" and start reading it unless it's assigned to them in a class -- and even then some of them won't read it. (It was boring! I couldn't get through it myself. Apparently I was too busy reading "The Stand.")

Pop culture is King in the 21st century. Get used to it.

Lori G.

Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Harold Bloom writes in the Boston Globe about why the writing in Harry Potter is dreadful and why Stephen King shouldn't have won a major writing award.
Someone took the liberty of playing with the Name Stats link and sending me his results:

Queen Bitch is a very rare female name.
Very few females in the US are named Queen Bitch.
Be proud of your unique name!

Scum Bag of the Week is a very rare male name.
Very few men in the US are named Scum Bag of the Week.
Be proud of your unique name!

Busty Babe with Great Ass is a very rare female name.
Very few females in the US are named Busty Babe with Great Ass.
Be proud of your unique name!

Carie Pilby is a very rare female name.
Very few females in the US are named Carie Pilby.
Be proud of your unique name!


About 8,925 women in the U.S. are named Caren, according to this site. Put your name in and see what happens.
Someone actually DID Google "John Blackford" and "MTA" and got to my blog. It's such a nice poster, and there are so few mentions of it on the web. If anyone else ends up here, the work is called "Redbird in the Air" and it's on several of the subway cars. You can order it at the NY Transit Store.
Reader comment: "It is honestly great to see something that turned out so wonderful in such a raw form but why on a note pad? .....was it done in pre-computer days? .....or when you were in a house of worship supposedly listening to a sermon?"

Most of it was written on a computer, but still, there were some parts that were scrawled extensively in a notebook first, particularly if I was on the road or at a temp job at the time. I don't have a laptop.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I was thinking this novel is the only one I struggled with, but I guess it's always this way, especially in the beginning. (The scribbling you see if you click the link is part of Carrie Pilby.) Which is a good reason to record my thoughts on it here -- so I'll remember next time.


A trivia player by the name of Adam has already posted on his Livejournal a description of tonight's game, and of the deliciously odiferous Chinese dinner he and his NYU colleagues enjoyed, making the rest of us jealous. His blog has hurricane links just like mine, so you see, I'm not the only person who is geeky about storms. He actually wore a shirt saying "Satan is a Nerd" tonight. Any nerdwear is encouraged for trivia night. Finally, he seems down because Weezer's "Buddy Holly" was considered a one-hit wonder. Hey, Pinkerton was just too good for the charts.
Someone found this blog by puttnig into a search engine: "Lyrics to I Love A Rainy Night, by the Chipmunks"
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

One of the questions the Japanese translator had was about "Ix-nay." I guess it's hard to translate Pig Latin into Japanese.
I was just looking at my pathetic old journals. An entry from my senior year of college, Nov. 15, 1992, says:

6:30 a.m. When I am reading this in 1995, where will I be? NY? NJ? PA? DC? Calif -- no, never mind. Ugh! The sour taste of indecision.

By writing in this journal, do I really help get myself a job and published? No. I just write incredibly boring passages.

Okay, by Wednesday I will have something interesting to put in here. If not, I'll just have to hang myself.

7:11 p.m. -- Bill's got some real young-uns working for him. Geo Stephanopolous & Dee Dee Myers are only 31!

[Note: for you sensitive types, I meant the hanging thing as a joke. Thank you.]


I just had a lot of fun doing a reading at the Ciao Bella Gelato Cafe in Tenafly, New Jersey. It was organized by the Penn (my alma mater) Club of North Jersey and held in conjunction with the Cafe and Womrath's Bookstore in Tenafly. I met the delightful owners of both places.

Besides talking about writing and publishing with folks, I was happy just to get to the suburbs in general, particularly a main street of one of New Jersey's many old colonial towns. I just don't frolic in suburbia enough. In fall, it's nice to see the windows of colonial homes shining through the darkness, the brown leaves skipping across streaming grass and people leaving their porch lights on.

Anyway, to put in a plug, I had a delicious seafood sandwich at the Cafe - very fresh and filling. Womrath's Bookstore, I found out, was moved from another town where it had been for more than fifty years. I can't wait to stop in. Thanks to all who came and participated.
I was trying to figure out today the relationship between something that's hard to write and its resulting quality. If I'm actually enjoying writing a book, will it come out better than one I really had to struggle on? Or worse?

I'm not sure there's a correlation. But it's an interesting question.

Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Those 15 pages were tough this weekend. There was a point at which I was so tired I got into bed, but I knew the pages weren't good enough so I got up and worked on them some more. They're definitely in better shape now, although far from perfect. Introducing characters in third person is hard. Now I know why writers take seven or ten years on a novel. Sometimes there's a little elusive detail that would make the story much more interesting and suspenseful, but we're not destined to come up with it until we've thought about it for months.

This story has been in my head for so long, though, that it doesn't necessarily need ten more years. I'm not rushing it, but it's not going to wait until 2010 either.



I wish you'd come down from that ledge my friend: I was just in Times Square, and there was a guy way up on top of the Milford Plaza sign. A crowd was craning their necks, saying he was a jumper. I heard these comments:

GIRL ON CELL PHONE: We've got a real jumper up there. Look on the news.

GIRL: Oh, get down from there. Or jump. One or the other.

GIRL: Just jump already.

GUY: He's not gonna juuuuump.

Apparently no one was taking it too seriously. If he had jumped, you would have bet there would have been blood-curdling screams. I decided to leave in a hurry. Hearing one massive group-scream (two years ago) is enough to last a lifetime.


I think I'm done talking about hurricanes for this year. I'll start again next August. Someone told me that the National Weather Service actually says we could still get more this month. I doubt it, but in any case, people are going through weather-hype withdrawal and I think I'll stay quiet about it for a little while.

However, I didn't say I wouldn't talk about nor'easters...
It's amazing how much time I've spent simply rewriting the first 15 pages of book 3. I have a skeleton written of the whole book, and yet, those first 15 pages have to be perfect before I can do more. Not only are they the determining factor in whether editors -- and ultimately readers -- will keep reading, but I have to understand the characters' motivations, histories and surroundings in order to do a good job in coloring in the rest of the events and interactions. One author said that you have to get rid of 60 to 70 percent of your first chapter over the course of revisions, and I've done that a few times over. I've put in background information that, in the end, I've decided only will slow a reader down, but at least *I* know it now. Still, there is much for me to understand and learn.

The only problem is that with each revision, I lose perspective on whether what's left is fun to read or not. It's hard to get pleasure out of writing I've changed 40 times. I don't think I've ever read the published, final version of Carrie Pilby all the way through, because I read the advanced reader's copy and the revised copies so many times. The passages that are still enjoyable to me are the ones that I added later in the process -- probably just because they seem fresher.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Got some work done on novel 3 last night. It will still take so long to finish it. That's what happens when you're doing research and learning about and shaping characters who are very different from you. I feel so frustrated when a writing project isn't at the juncture at which it's flowing smoothly, but there are always painful periods in writing. They just have to be worked through, and in the end, when the final project is done, no one should be able to detect where the ripples of torment were.


For newcomers to this site: I'm a writer. Click here to read about my goofy first novel, Carrie Pilby, which was published in June, and other wacky aspects of my so-called life.
Trees are bending southward like rubber, the leaves swirling to expose their brownish-yellow and then green sides. The Hudson River looks choppy. A guy passing my window in a white hockey jersey with the blue number 24 feels it trail behind him. The American Flag above the 14th Street post office is being wound into a cone. Still, no rain.
A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again: I'm curious about which phrases I can put into this blog to lure Google searchers here. I'm going to try some and let you know the results:
-"Publish my book"
-"Getting an agent"
-"Getting a book published"
-"Get an agent"
-"Get my book published"
-"Free beer"
-"Free sex"
Let's see what happens.
Woke up, got dressed, went to work.

It's still only windy here; no rain. The rain isn't expected until 9 p.m., and then the hardest rain will hit around 1 a.m., they say. I'll try to stay up for it.


I was outside waiting for the bus to NY, and it was quieter than usual. Then I got to NY and it was extremely quiet there, too -- no music, no horns, not as many people out as usual. The only thing going on is the impending hurricane, but why would that keep people off the streets 12 hours in advance? Are they all at the store buying kidney beans? They couldn't be evacuating. They have two more days of work, and we're not on the shore, anyway. Ah well. Maybe someone will clear it up for me.
3 p.m. hurricane update.
Thanks to all who sent bad jokes about the Japanese translation.
Woke up, got dressed, went to work.

My book is being translated into Japanese!

Hurricane is expected tomorrow night into Friday. We should at least get some rain.
Winning team name at trivia tonight: "Come and knock on my grave." (It's a John Ritter reference.) There was also, "Donate your brain to the Bush campaign."


This is the first hurricane I remember, and it probably stuck in my mind because it hit closer to us than they usually do. There was talk of evacuating, but we didn't.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Got my MTA poster in the mail yesterday. John Blackford, if you Google yourself and end up here, I want to thank you for your creation.
Is this football game going to go on until 3 a.m., or what?!
Got a nice Amazon review from a young woman in Indonesia.


Jennifer Weiner writes in her blog, "Is this just me being grouchy, or is it okay to be a little peeved by people who email me with letters beginning 'I haven't read your books,' and then go on to ask for advice/help/my agent's phone number?" Anyway, she also has some interesting thoughts on publishing, so it's worth a click.
Woke up, got dressed, went to work.

Second novel has officially appeared on Amazon.

For those who've asked me if it's a sequel to Carrie Pilby --- nope. Quick synopsis (sorry for the self-indulgence): It centers on a 29-year-old woman whose husband died in a car crash 1.5 years ago, and her friends try to drag her out to start dating again. She was with her hubby since college, so she's never really had to date. As her bitter friends get her out in NYC, she's appalled by the scene, but since she's always been easy to get along with, she meets a good guy pretty quickly. She, of course, isn't really over her husband, so she doesn't know how to date this new guy. And her friends' past resentment of her comes out again. So it's about issues of love, loss, jealousy, friendship, etc...it doesn't get depressing despite the subject matter.

Well, enough about me. Have a good Monday. And batten down those hatches.
I saw a really beautiful poster on the NYC subway two weeks ago that I decided I wanted. It's by John Blackford and depicts a child imagining himself riding through the night air along with a subway train. Since I'm a dreamer, as well as a lover of trains (in my own childlike way), it struck a chord. I saw it again a few days later on another train. I searched for the artist on the internet and could only find some sci-fi novel covers he did. I e-mailed the MTA to find out if I could buy a copy. They sent back a response saying it was property of some advertising company, but that I could buy items "like" it at the MTA Transit Store. I clicked on the site and saw an actual picture of the coveted poster. But when I clicked on that, it said it wasn't available. I called the store and they said I could get it, indeed. So it's on its way.


We're back, live. Hope everyone had a good weekend.

There were a few things I wanted to put on the blog this weekend, but as usual, I've forgotten them. I did just hear this conversation on the PATH train:

GUY: Where do you live?
GIRL: Queens.
GUY: I was just in Queens on Tuesday. I was at the [Such-and-such] Church.
GIRL is shaking her head.
GUY: You don't go to church?
GUY: Never?
GIRL shakes her head.
GUY: Do you know the story of Jesus?
GIRL: I've seen the movies.

On another note, Hurricane Isabel is quite powerful and could slam into anywhere on the East Coast -- too early to tell. Here's the five-day forecast graphic. I will put descriptions here or on the Blog of My Barometer if it hits.

Last Monday, Hitler's filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, died. Tuesday night, at trivia, two very clever teams had the following names: "Triumph of the Won't," and "Triumph of My Willy." There was also a team called "Racism is Gay." My co-host for the night, Valerie, is normally on the team that used the "Racism" name and said she kept telling them not to use that name, so the instant she became co-host rather than player, they defied her and used it.

What else? Read a really good book called "Riding with the Queen" by Jennie Shortridge, which she sent me after hearing about my book - it comes out next month and I'll change that to a link to it on Amazon later. J. Robert Lennon's "The Mailman" got an "A" in the new Entertainment Weekly.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Yesterday evening, I walked past a church in New York and there was a huge, beautiful wooden table with a "free" sign outside of it. It was too big to fit into a regular car. There was a guy next to it frantically talking to someone on his cell phone, and other people were looking at it intently, trying to figure out how they could get it home in a city with no cars. It's a good practical joke: Put something great but too big in New York for free and see if anyone can get it home.

I will be taking a rest from blogging for a few days in observance of Sept. 11...there are so many people who have important things to say around this time, so I don't want to take away from that. Nothing I could say would be as important as some of what others will say, particularly those who lost someone. There are a million stories of the people close to it. Hope everyone has a good rest of the week.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

The literary gossip world will rejoice now that MobyLives is back.


It's a shame there wasn't any football on TV today.
Blog-reader Mickey suggests this experiment: "Blog something like I just want to thank that someone special in my life. Then wait and see how many people think it is for them."

Today's Times "Vows" column has not only a same-sex female couple, but 1/2 of the couple is a celebrity! (Janis Ian). For some reason, the Times notes that she sang "Society's Child" in 1967, but doesn't mention "At Seventeen," a much bigger hit in 1975. Maybe the writer is a Baby Boomer.