Woke up, put on clothes, didn't go to work. No work, yippee.

I had a dream last night that I was at the beach. At 3 p.m. the waves started getting really big. I left, and so did everyone else. By the time I got up to my car, there was already water all over the parking lot. I got out of there. The dream gets even more weird, but I'm glad I'm now dreaming about tsunamis and not the WTC. I think it's healthy.



I e-mailed the Pilby novella to my editor. It weighs in at 30,300 words, 127 pages. It will be out as part of a collection next November. I already got an e-mail response from my editor:

Thanks for your email. I'll be out of the office until Tuesday, January 4.

She's such a sport!

Now back to my third novel for a while (the non-chick lit one).

Happy new year to all!
I've been meaning to mention the tsunami - who can even comprehend such losses? More than 50,000 people...that's like 17 Sept. 11ths.
Will soon wake up, put on clothes, go to work.

It's 3 a.m. and I finished inputting my edits. I inputted carefully so I wouldn't make new mistakes, but there's probably something. Anyway, Carrie Pilby's newest New Year's adventures are now ready for my editor. And in eleven months, they will be ready for all o' you.


I'm revising the Carrie Pilby novella right now. Not the other novel. That was LAST night. Tomorrow I can ship the novellA to my editrix. Yay!
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I found a buffalo nickel last week, which was very exciting. It was so rubbed down that I couldn't see the date. But I think I gave it away in change by accident because it's not in the section of my purse where I was saving it. Stupid me. It's not worth anything anyway, but.

I've been working on the book. Are my edits making it better, or worse? How to tell? I really don't know. I want the words on paper to mirror the vision in my head, although that's a tough order.


Will later wake up, put on clothes, and go to work.

I'm not getting up at 4 a.m. this week. Last week, I did that two days in a row, and I got sick as a result. Tonight, I get a good night's sleep.

I inputted a lot of book revisions today. The only nice part about this step is that I still haven't gotten rejected. I've worked so long on this one that it will be a little scary when it finally goes out. Note to self: Don't send it until it's good & ready.

Oh, to the person who's reading it right now...please keep reading! I still need your comments, definitely. The more I hear, the more I know what's good and what need a-changin'.


Hope everyone had a merry Christmas.

Two things I'm very annoyed with:

1. "What's your name?"
"Ima...gonna kick your ass!"

2. You people with your Festivus. Seinfeld has been off the air for like five years already. It's not funny. It never was that funny. Here is my response to all of you.

In other news...my agent gave me a lot of comments on the novel, and now I'm doing a lot of revisions. It's getting longer. You'll still buy it, right? Won't you?

Oh well, back to the full-time job tomorrow.


I finally caught the mailman today. Every year, when it comes time to give my mailman his Xmas card, I don't want to just leave it in my box because of all the substitute mailmen who show up and might snatch it. I want my card and cash to go to my regular mailman who delivers all those nice cards and publishing-related materials and junk. So that means I sorta have to be around when the mail is being delivered. Which I can't do if I'm working. The last few Saturdays, I kept a watch out, but it was a different mailman. Today I was around and I caught him, by gum!

Then there's eggnog. The supermarket closest to me is out of all forms of eggnog and they say they won't get any new nog until after the holidays. So if you're planning to consume nog this weekend, get it fast. I got some elsewhere, though.

So as you can see, it's been a busy day. I hope every one of you is in a warm place. And I wish you...

Happy holidays!!

Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


There are hot 'n' heavy rumors that the daily paper we compete with may close, but who knows. We need more news coverage throughout the country, not less.
ME: I heard that 'Lost' IS a repeat tonight.
BROTHER: Nuuuh (intelligible)
ME: You can still look for clues.
ME: I heard that there's a theory that the island is purgatory, and that all the people on the plane died.
BROTHER: I heard that already.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Someone told me my joke about Kirstie Alley was mean, and that fame can be lonely. Actually, I was originally going to write that she still looks really pretty. But then I thought of the joke and went with that. But I doubt she reads this. Anyway, she clearly has a sense of humor about herself since her new show is called "Fat Actress."

Mickey writes:

[The head of his p*nis found the place it wanted. For a moment he wanted
there, poised, and kissed her - ...so that she felt his scrot*m slap against her skin.]
[I didn't feel like waiting for the gas man to come with his little tool.]

Are these two comments related?

Anyway, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I have my quart of soy nog ready for drinking.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

"There's another two-hour 'Lost' on tomorrow night. I hope it's not another stupid repeat for you stupid people who didn't watch it when it first came on. Just suffer." -- My brother


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

On 1010 WINS this morning, they referred to "The Kremlin." I haven't heard that one in ages.

If Kirstey Alley gets any fatter, she's going to change her name to Kirstey Highway. (Bob, you can use that in your act.)

I was thinking today about things that used to be censored or shocked people when I was little. For instance, I remember Joan Rivers got yelled at because she was hosting (I think) the Emmys and she said someone's character "Has had more hands up her dress than any of the Muppets." Also, at the Tonys, there was some guy who referred to "My producer who is also my lover" and people were horrifically embarrassed.

Literary thoughts...

Amanda e-mailed me a link to this article about how Tom Wolfe won a British "bad sex" prize for his descriptions of sex in his new novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons. It confirms my belief that sometimes, even the most celebrated writers can learn from oft-maligned genre fiction. People turn up their noses at romance novels, but think how hard it is to write a convincing romance that makes a reader actually feel romantic while you watch the characters get together. Harlequin novelists do it often, and it's a talent not everyone has. B.R. Myers, in my favorite lit crit book (a pleasure to read), A Reader's Manifesto, lambastes David Guterson (Snow Falling on Cedars) for this passage:

The head of his p*nis found the place it wanted. For a moment he wanted there, poised, and kissed her - he took her lower lip between his lips and gently held it there. Then with his hands he pulled her to him and at the same time entered her so that she felt his scrot*m slap against her skin.

(Asterisks included so people don't find this page looking for p*rn.)

To be fair, Sarah told me she thinks Tom Wolfe's descriptions are intentional to mirror the attitude toward sex on college campuses, as explored in the book. It wouldn't be the first time that writers are trying to skewer more successful writers with extra snark.


Oh, by the way, some of you may have time to read during the holidays. I have to again recommend a great great great cold-weather book that reads really fast and is heartfelt and intriguing. Read it by the fire! Read it on a plane!

It's At Home in the World, writer Joyce Maynard's memoir of (mostly) her relationship with J.D. Salinger. She was a precocious young girl who didn't fit in, who lived in a superachieving creative family, and after she got published in the Times in 1972, she was lured out of her sophomore year at Yale to go live in near seclusion with Salinger. If you read it, let me know what you think. Here's a link to get to it.
Woke up, put clothes on, didn't go to work.

I cleaned my apt. today allll day and now I'm aching. I actually spent nine straight hours cleaning.

Let's have a look at our weather map.

Luckily I took a metal fondue fork and poked the little pipe next to the pilot light in my heater to get the white ash away from it so it would light. I didn't feel like waiting for the gas man to come with his little tool.


Here's another cool scoop.
On Saturday, the Sound of Music airs on ABC. If you click that link, you get to one of the funnier reviews ever written. Fans of the film are very affectionate toward it.

I've tried to convince people of the subtle and clever humor that was injected into the movie. People who exhibit a certain film snobbery fail to give it a chance because of their 20-year-old memories of watching it as a kid and seeing singing nuns. Look at the quotes from it on imdb (especially 2 through 5) and you will see that screenwriting legend Ernest Lehmann did an amazing job converting an average stage show into a much better movie.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

If you can intentially embarrass yourself at the office Xmas party, it makes other people feel less bad when they do it unintentionally.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


According to the Web, Nick was actually her fiancee when the deal was done - and one report says they were married in September. Someone's been a bit slow in getting news to the SnarkWire.

I get Publisher's Lunch, which tells you of deals that happen in the industry. Check out how debut author Nick Laird is described:

"Zadie Smith's boyfriend Nick Laird's debut novel UTTERLY MONKEY, set in London and Northern Ireland, about two reunited friends who discover that one of them has accidentally stolen money from a terrorist organization, to John Williams at Harper, by Natasha Fairweather at AP Watt."

I just think it's funny that out of all the stuff Nick Laird has done (he's a writer himself), he gets referred to that way. If you don't know who Zadie Smith is, she was the subject of literary snark in London when her first novel, WHITE TEETH, was published in her twenties. Get a hit novel published that young and the knives will sharpen. I'm sure this announcement will spur even more snark. But hey...maybe the guy is actually a good writer. Let's see.

UPDATE: See below.
What's that sound outside? It's the sound of silence! Because no one is going to the bars. It's too cold. Thank god - some peace.

Tonight was the office X-mas party. I may or may not have performed an Eminem song for the second year in a row. There may or may not be a picture later to confirm this. Why? Because there's a Slim Shady in all of us.
IT'S FRIKKIN COLD OUT. I'm staying inside for a month. Don't miss me.

Guess what I'll be doing. No, not just writing. Cleaning my apt. that went to pot because of all the time I spent writing.

I might even get to cook!
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

We're bad, we're nationwide.


Paco the Python is getting around!
The Associated Press story on Paco the python is up.
If you were working at a DVD repair facility and opened a box with a DVD that had been returned, and saw a four-foot python curled around it, what would you think? Here's the first pickup of our story. More coming tomorrow on Paco, the python who got a free trip to Secaucus.

Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me about my piece on radio days.
Pop culture musings aside...I will soon wake up, put on clothes, and go to work.

In other news, this weekend, the chain of newspapers for which I am an editor ran a pretty interesting feature about a displaced four-foot python. The story is wacky enough that I expect it to uncoil in other media outlets. More as the story develops.
New content for a new workweek....

Tale of the tapes

I first became conscious of the music that was playing on the radio when I was in second grade and wanted to hear songs from “Grease.” Back then, the stations to listen to in the New York area were WNBC-AM and WABC-AM. Those were the ones with the top 40, the Disco, the Donna Summer. I would be sitting in the bucket seats of the Chevrolet and ask my father to put either of those stations on. I couldn’t identify the singers, but I knew which songs I liked – “Freak Out” by Chic and “Hot Child in the City” by whoever that was. One time, my family was heading to the shore and “Born to Run” came on. My father told me that the Highway 9 mentioned in the song was the same Route 9 that we were on. A month later, I heard a song on the radio with a similar scratchy vocalist and thought, “Maybe that’s Bruce Springsteen.” When the disc jockey said it was, I was so proud of myself. I normally couldn’t identify singers by their voices, like older kids and adults always could, and this was the first time I had.

In fourth grade, I came to notice that a lot of the songs on the radio that I liked, like “My Life” and “Big Shot,” were by the same guy – Billy Joel. I started taking piano lessons that year, like many of the kids in my community did, and my teacher gave me a book of patriotic songs and a book of exercises called “A Dozen a Day.” For my recital, I played the “Star Spangled Banner.” But when I switched piano teachers, the new guy made it more interesting. He gave me a Billy Joel easy piano book, and I was very very happy.

In sixth grade, I spent a lot of time in school folding over notebook paper to create a magazine called “Liskid,” which my father photocopied for me at his part-time job when he went there once a week. (He didn’t have copier access at his main job, and there actually weren’t many places back then to copy things besides an office.) One of the highlights of the magazine were the charts of the top 10 TV shows and songs of the week. I didn’t make them up, though; I cut them out of the Asbury Park Press, but it was still a valuable resource from my two to six consistent subscribers (the number vacillated depending on how many friends I had who weren’t mad at me). I’d add in my opinions by putting an “X” for “Good song,” a circle for “OK song” and a dash for “Bad song.” My magazine tended to gravitate around the lunchroom, and one time, a semi-popular girl named Deena came up to me in her overalls and Clash T-shirt. “I like how you X’ed ‘Rock the Casbah,’ she said approvingly.

Seventh grade was the big year – 1984. Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince flew to the top of the charts. Van Halen named their album after the year. Everyone thinks junior high was the best time for music no matter how old they are, but my junior high experience happened to coincide with the acts who defined the sound of the decade. I always had had a tape recorder of my own, which my brother and I would use to make funny tapes and pretend to interview celebrities, but I also made tapes of my favorite songs, as most kids did. I would listen to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 each Sunday morning in the den – now the radio stations of choice were on FM, like the very new Z-100 and its competitor, WPLJ. I would hold my tape recorder up to the speakers when a song I liked came on. My mother would say something to my father while I was taping and I’d hiss, “Shhhh!” Worse yet, the dog would bark. But I managed to get clean recordings of “Our House” by Madness and “Come On, Eileen.” I was still at the stage when I thought it added something to be a pretend DJ between songs. “That was General Hospi-tale,” I would declare, “a great song about a great show.” Eventually I learned to keep my voice out of it.

By high school, I was tired of hearing the number one song over and over on Z-100 or PLJ, and that was when I discovered another new station – 92.3 K-Rock, which boasted “no repeat Tuesdays” and came up with the phrase “classic rock.” The year before, “We Are the World” had come out, and there were supposedly-legendary voices in it whom I’d never heard of, like Bob Dylan (“Who’s Bob Die-lan?” I had thought when I’d read the articles). Now, on K-Rock, songs by Dylan played regularly. There were pieces from the Who’s “Tommy,” a movie my brother and I had seen because he was into video games and pinball, as well as older songs by that guy who had sung the recent hit “Let’s Dance,” David Bowie. There was a whole world of music I hadn’t known.

By then, I had acquired, for my birthday, my own stereo with a vaunted “dual cassette deck,” so I could actually put the tape into a tape player and it would record directly from the radio. No more interference or holding a machine up to the speakers. There was so much classic rock that was new to me that I filled up tapes quickly.

When I got to college, there were a great many songs I had liked but had never gotten the chance to tape. Invariably, someone on the floor had the song I wanted, so I would tape it. I’d always liked Sting’s now-very-dated song “The Russians” (“Mr. Reagan says he will protect you, I don’t subscribe to this point of view…I hope the Russians love their children too.”) My R.A., Ammar, had “Dream of the Blue Turtles” on cassette, so I got to add “The Russians” to my tape. Any song I wanted was somewhere on my floor.

After I graduated in the early nineties, most of the music was dance, rap or grunge. It seemed like re-treads, but there would occasionally be a song that amused me – maybe an Ace of Base goodie or U2’s “One” or Mr. Big’s “To Be with You.” But it would be rare for me to run to the stereo and hurriedly press record like I used to. My tapes filled up much less quickly.

I thought about all this the other day – and not because we’ve eased into a time when kids can download almost any song you want. I thought of this because the tape now in my stereo is labeled in silver marker, “1999-2000.” And only one side is filled up. Only forty-five minutes of songs in the past five years have thrilled me enough to tape. Of course, I do buy CD’s occasionally, and someday I’ll even get around to learning how to download stuff. But there is so little that is new to me.

I still have a wooden tape holder filled with almost forty tapes I made back in the day. I know that nowadays, kids don’t have to wait around with a tape recorder to nab the song they want. It’s no longer much of a struggle to find out who sings what. And I continue searching for new bands and genres I haven’t really considered in order to strike the chord of excitement I used to have when I was a pre-teen. Even if it takes a long time, though, I will always love listening to those old tapes, the ones created with dog barks and bad DJ interruptions and squawks, because they remind me of the pre-internet era when music was less accessible but still oh so wonderful.


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

I didn't have time to do any writing Friday or yesterday, so I caught up today. It's another cloudy drowsy day here. Sometimes I refer to them as "clousy."


"Why have a white Christmas when you can have a Brown Christmas?" - ABC commercial for Charlie Brown Xmas specials.

I don't know; that sounds really gross.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I got a new Amazon review of Carrie Pilby: "this book was great. i totally identified with carrie. a must read for loner depressed people."

I sent it to my editor. It should go on the back of the paperback in September!



Three months before Red Dress Ink published my first novel, Carrie Pilby, they published Lynn Messina's Fashionistas. It's being made into a movie. Most books that get optioned don't get made, but this one is, and check this out....

OK, uh, mine's next, right?! ;)
I love when dogs do this. Or is it the seething underbelly of politics?
I gave William Hung's Christmas CD to the office grab bag. It went over well, causing much laughter. There were 32 people participating, and I was the one accused of doing it.
Woke up, got dressed, went to work.

A man and two friends picked up a stray cat and videotaped themselves hanging it from a noose, slitting its throat, beating, disemboweling it and skinning it. Then they entered the video in the Toronto International Film Festival. It was to be an "art project" showing the hypocrisy of killing some animals for meat and not others. The guys got jail time. This was in the most recent Associated Humane Society issue of the Humane News. There are always horrible stories in there, but at least the perpetrators were brought to justice.


I've been promising to post a few things from people that I haven't gotten to. So here is where I clean it all up.

From Wes:

"In response to Dawn's link about the red states being more charitable:
A.) WorldNetDaily is NOT a credible source. But...
B.) ...even if it is true -- and assuming the Catalogue for
Philanthropy rankings accurately convey the reality of the situation
-- it's not so surprising. After all, the vast majority of the Bush
supporters in those states are not the cold-blooded, money-grubbing,
policy-making Republicans with whom you're familiar. They're our good
and pious "values voters" -- and, as such, we'd expect them to donate
to (Christian) charities on a larger scale. After all, faith without
works is dead.
C.) Republicans and Bush supporters are not the ONLY people living in
those states, and it's not as if Bush won 100% of the vote in all of
the red states. In order for those states to rank as highly as they
did in the overall listing, I imagine that a significant portion of
those red state contributions would had to have come from blue voters
as well. And...
D.) ...that works both ways -- so it may be the case that, in the blue
states, the greedy, corporate Republicans are dragging the overall
numbers down.
*takes a bow*"

C.G. writes:

"Dear Caren:
It's logical that Red States would have higher per capita charitable giving (or, more accurately, reported giving as per their income tax returns - the data for the survey) because of what they give to their churches. And no one questions the devotion of many Red State people to religion-based causes. If the Government ever gets honest, it will cap or eliminate deductions to churches."
Another reader, J.D., has an idea. He wants there to be a way that you can donate candy to poor kids on Halloween...

"yes, there's a thousand obstacles -- Internet access, how would we get the candy to them, etc...  Maybe they could go to oversea companies or universities, or churches or the red cross...  Maybe to the home of anyone who has a computer.  Maybe candy companies could give out vouchers.   (Yes, it does take a leap of faith, but close your eyes and picture thousands and thousands of kids who have nothing all lining up with their homemade costumes to Trick or Treat on Halloween -- all around the world.)  Perhaps your readers could shoot it down or make it a do-able idea..." 
Finally, M.S. sends a sad and well-written reflection from his own blog.

OK, all done.
I've been working heavily on the Pilby sequel for the last few weeks, especially this past weekend. It's not like I want to go anywhere anyway with the frozen rain that's coming down. (Yeah, you know I love it!)

Pilby 2 is very different to work on than Novel 3...the Pilby sequel has more dialogue and certainly much more humor. It's moves faster, it's more airy. It's coming along. My deadline to hand it in is Jan. 1. It will be out in a collection of three holiday novels next November 1. The other two center on Hannukah and Christmas, and mine will be the third one, the New Year's one. I've been jokingly calling it "A Very Pilby New Year" but that's not going to fly.

I do want to get back to Novel 3. My agent has read it and said she is doing a second read so she can give me suggestions. Nowhere in her e-mail did it say, "You're a genius. This is going to make us all rich, rich, I tell you!!!" I didn't expect that. The thing needs work, and I'm glad to put in as much work as it takes, however long it takes. I really care about the story.

In other news, a kind man named Randy wrote to ask me to update the Barometer Blog, so I did. How neglectful I have been!

Hannukah is tomorrow, which means that some of us have gotten most of our holiday shopping and gift-giving taken care of already. It's like being accepted into college Early Decision - all your work is done while you watch the rest of the world struggle and suffer. But alas, it's not over yet. My office grab bag is Wednesday. I have a good joke gift to put in (although not quite as funny as the thong someone contributed a few years ago). Other parties are coming up. Being a big eggnog fan, it's expected that I contribute a quart of the slow, tasty stuff. So I will.


I noticed a few of my friends updated their blog entries, so it's not fair for me to never update. So, OK. I went to see a production of "Fiddler on the Roof" recently w/my dad and half-sis. Fiddler is too long a production for it to be a fave of mine (three hours), but they asked me to go, so I did. I was wearing my "Will Write for Food" cap and for the first time ever, a guy took me up on my offer. He was a handsome blue-eyed guy with a great hair, and he was with his pretty girlfriend, who he had recently asked to marry him. He said if I came up with a love poem, he'd buy me a Kit-Kat at intermission.

So my half-sis (who's 12) and I grabbed some notebook paper and cobbled one together. The playhouse was on Livingston Avenue, keep in mind.


I want to live in sin with you
Here on Livingston Avenue
I look at you with eyes of blue
And can't wait to hear you say "I do."
As we enjoy "Fiddler on the Roof,"
I hope you'll excuse my simple goof
of not offering additional proof
Of how much I really love you...f.

We got the Kit-Kat.

On another note, my half-sis knows the words to Outkast's "Hey Ya," the big hit from last year. I've heard it a lot but never really paid attention to the words. She was in the car singing:

I...I...don't want to meet your Momma.
I just want to make you Com-a.

That's really rude!

Happy Hannukah to all my Joo-ish friends. Ah, this is even easier than e-cards!


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Amazingly, I predicted this yesterday!


Woke up, got dressed, went to work.

Tune in tomorrow when I do it all again!