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.