9/30/2003

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.)

9/29/2003

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.

9/27/2003

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.

9/26/2003

Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

9/25/2003

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!

9/24/2003

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.

9/23/2003

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.]

9/22/2003

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.

9/21/2003

9/20/2003

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.

9/19/2003

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.

9/18/2003

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"
-"Bennifer"
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.

9/17/2003

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."

9/16/2003

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.

9/15/2003

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.

9/14/2003

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?
GIRL: No.
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.

9/09/2003

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.

9/08/2003

Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

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

9/07/2003

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.


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

A young relative of mine writes:

"guess what 1 of my friends read your book and 1 of my friends moms did to and they llllllllloooooooooooooooooooooovvvvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeedddddddd it"

She also Instant Messaged me the other day to say, "Hi. G2G. Bye."

(For you old-timers, G2G = got to go.)

As someone just said in an e-mail to me, we can really feel autumn nipping the air this morning. It's lovely!

9/06/2003

Seems like imminent hurricane/storm threats are over, but there's this new possibility. We have a few more weeks of prime conditions; Hurricane Floyd hit us four years ago on Sept. 14-16. [Pardon the nerdiness.]
Woke up, put on clothes, didn't go to work.

Attention: I apologize to everyone who thought the poem below was meant for them. It was inspired by someone who doesn't even read the blog, a writer who probably never will. It's not you, I swear!!! Write what's in your heart, even if it's turgid. (Ha ha).

Jayson Blair has an "It Happened to Me" piece in the JANE Magazine I just got. It's titled, "Oops -- I fabricated dozens of articles in the New York Times. Don't do what I did."

9/05/2003

This poem is dedicated to someone anonymous:

Brevity
is the soul of wit.
BREVITY.
Ever heard of it?
Woke up. Put on clothes. Went to work.

9/04/2003

The aforementioned weird little storm, Tropical Depression 12, which someday could be Tropical Storm Henri, now has a 2 percent chance of coming within 65 miles of Atlantic City in the next five days. OK, it's a stretch. I should really put this discussion on the Blog of My Barometer, anyhow.
I guess the Kitten thing from trivia has been all over the internet for years. Oh well.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Looks like the hurricane's not coming any further west. We still have this weird tropical depression that is going to go from Texas and across Florida, and might bring us a little rain.

9/03/2003

Valerie writes: "I think it's funny that Blogger put two advertisements for Hurricane windows and shutters in the advertising space on your website."

Always happy to help.

Speaking of accoutrements, I'm going to be buying a gel-burning indoor fireplace, I think. Maybe it will help if this winter gets frozen like the last one.
Ah, what wonder and excitement. (This fits into that "getting old" theme.)
Woke up, put clothes on, went to work.

I watched "The O.C.," the new 90210-ish Fox drama, Monday, and was shocked by something. Both Peter Gallagher and Tate Donovan were playing fathers of teenagers. Before that, I had always considered them young guys, possibly even members of my generation. Peter Gallagher has played the same "Single Guy" role in a string of movies and shows. So it's frightening to see both of them suddenly taking "Dad" roles. A check of IMDB shows that Donovan is 40 (still fairly young) and Gallagher is 48, which I wouldn't have known. Another sign I'm aging.

The hurricane is now a top story, but still isn't expected to hit us. But one new turn and...pow!

9/02/2003

A few trivia happenings: First off, two teams made reference to last week's "kitten incident" in their team names this week. One team was, "There are 11 dead kittens in my shower," and another was, "Revenge of the kittens." On another note, my excellent co-host, Rich, did an audio round of Chipmunks songs. Players had to guess the original artist and the title of the song. One trivia player revealed that one of the chipmunks was named after her grandfather! He was a record producer. I won't reveal which one out of respect for her privacy.

Forecasters predict that Hurricane Fabian will keep heading north, miss us, and maybe affect Maine and Canada a little. But it's too early to know.
Note: I DID mean scarring, as opposed to scaring, although either might fit.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

A newspaper has rightfully (ha ha) apologized for scarring its readers with the Britney/Madonna photo.

9/01/2003

I don't know how I feel about copycat blogs. (Note: Say that in an Andy Rooney voice). I've been out-nerded.
The graphic has been updated. Don't make any big plans for next weekend, ...just kidding...some people think it'll just veer out to sea.
I realized that the candles from the blackout are still on my kitchen table. Might as well leave them there for the hurricane or whatever happens next. In the meantime, I highly recommend this movie.