Light blogging

Blogging will be light over the next few days as I work on a top secret project.

inept self-portrait

Random other stuff

I have a story in the Daily News today. (No, that's not my secret project.)

I think we will get a big snowstorm early next week.

It's really annoying that the word "Nazi" is in "Ashkenazi."



Recently, on two consecutive days, I wrote two consecutive blog entries about things that happened on two consecutive days.


Just overheard outside my window

GIRL: [Sarcastically] Oh, it's not your fault! It's not your fault you didn't mention me! It's not your fault that nobody knew my name! [couldn't hear] ...girlfriend!



Why publishing is horrible

Well, of course it isn't! To be a writer, and know that there's a chance that you can bring people into the crazy world that's in your head...and to take things you find beautiful or strange or poignant and explore them and record them on paper...that is a true privilege.

But here are some other things that happen:

1. The books you love the most don't sell, and the ones you care about less do because they are more marketable.

2. You are thrilled one day because you think you finally have your manuscript where you want it, and then you read it again 24 hours later and your heart drops because it's awful.

3. You can't read anything you've written anymore because you've read it so many times.

4. You bring stuff to your writers' group and they say nothing helpful.

5. You bring stuff to your writers' group and they say, "Who's the audience?"

6. You are deciding between two directions to go in your story, and you're alone, and are not sure which one to take, and you don't want to do the hours of work until you know, but there is not a soul you can ask who will have the "right" answer, except maybe your agent, who has to market the thing, but you can't keep e-mailing your busy agent just because your toe hurts. Besides, you remember the other 9,000 times you were at this crossroads and you overcame it on your own. But it still feels sucky and you need to put in eight hours to figure it out. You might even need to write out and explore both ways...

7. You are a young writer in your early 20s (this is not my experience, don't worry) who gets 'discovered' and told all kinds of great things by your publishing company about how they will market you, and you just can't stand waiting until your book comes out because you will become famous. You are sure they will send you on tour and readers love you and quote you...and then the book comes out and it's just really really quiet. And you find out you have to do a lot of publicity yourself. And this thing you worked so hard for, that's nearly a miracle to happen, still means you're one of two million authors on Amazon.

8. You give a friend your writing and he tells you to go see some movie or read some book to make yours more like that one.

9. You hear about some kid who sold a novel just on a proposal, when meanwhile the rest of the world actually has to write the book first, and you just don't get it.
10. There is no number 10.
I'm sure this list makes you think I feel really bitter tonight or something, but I assure you that I'm NOT. I just figured it'd be interested to look at the downside.

Oh, I have a # 10 now...

10. You might get a cover that doesn't look like what you want to evoke with the book (note to my publisher if you are reading this: This is just a generic list, not a personal complaint. I promise - it's a common writerly complaint.)

Oh. #11

11. You have to worry every day that something will happen in the world that makes your manuscript irrelevant or unmarketable, or someone will do something too similar and make yours unsalable.

That said...

By the way, I will have stories in two anthologies coming out late this summer (close to fall). There seems to be some kind of anthology trend now. One piece is a short story, and one is a childhood reminiscene.


Toothless people

Tonight a homeless couple got on the subway train and told a sad but very unlikely story in order to get money. It seemed pretty ridiculously untrue to me. However, they both had really bad teeth, and didn't look like they were in great shape, so I gave them a buck anyway. Even if they're drug addicts, being a drug addict is hard work. Plus, drugs are expensive.


Im polite

A few weeks ago, there were two days in a row where people told me that they tried to give me a kiss on the cheek and I turned away. Well, I wasn't really aware of it in either case. My head was probably just in the clouds, or I just thought they were only giving me a hug. So don't feel bad! I wasn't paying attention. Gosh.



Last week, two random people on consecutive days wrote to tell me that they liked Carrie Pilby. And then I got my first new Amazon review in months on it. I wonder why it goes in phases. Maybe people had more time to read last week? Maybe it was reviewed on someone's website recently? Who knows?

...Also, if you're one of the people who agreed to read some of the new book and comment, and you didn't get it yet, I only sent out some of them and will send the rest in a day or two.

If you already have it, please give me all thoughts you have. Some people act afraid, or they say, "You're such a good writer and I'm just a reader and maybe you have some brilliant reason for doing such-and-such..." but my rough drafts are rarely brilliant until I get feedback. If you find yourself uninterested in a character, or there's a plot point that gives too much away or doesn't interest you, tell me all that. Basically, I want to know what makes you less interested in reading further. And tell me if you have any ideas on how to fix it. If enough people say the same thing, then it's even more valuable advice.

Believe me, I can't see the book the way a reader sees it at first glance. I'm helpless without you, darlings! Give it to me straight!

If you're worried about being too "mean," then also tell me what you like. There there.
I'd rather you be mean now, then editors be mean and reject the book.


We got yer responses right here

Your idea of a homeless reality show has been touched on. A&E has a show called "Random 1" where a team goes out to help people, very often homeless people. They do what they can, clean them up, help find them jobs, or drug problem, or whatever it is they need to give them a leg up. It was on last year, not sure if it's still around.

And think of the pizza delivery tips like this.. a waitress may bring your food from across the room. A pizza delivery guy has to fight traffic (in his own car most times) and arrive in half an hour or less (lest the pizza be free), and has to pay his own car insurance for the privilege. So who deserves the bigger tip? Plus, just what is it worth to you to have the pizza delivered rather than you drive and pick it up yourself? Go for that 20% for the pizza guy.

Aloha, Sam

Yes, Sam, but someone else wrote and said that deliverers earn more than waitresses. Hmmm.
More random thoughts

1. I think the Sopranos cast is cursed.

2. How much are you supposed to tip food delivery people these days? Is it supposed to be a dollar or two for a pizza, or is it 15-20 percent just like waiters and other folks? Anyone know?

3. It's pretty easy to get sick of your winter clothes by this time of year.

4. Why haven't they done any reality shows with the homeless? Those folks are the ones who really need the boost. I don't mean shows to make fun of them or do "homeless makeovers" like Howard Stern might, but maybe a homeless Real World or something. Obviously it'd be a little different, more like a documentary than comedy, but at least it might break down some stereotypes. Or if I'm being too naive, some other reality show where maybe you give a homeless person a home or money or, who knows. Hey, just throwing it out there.


Random thing #1

Last night I was at a party populated by a lot of nerdy folks, and I mean it in the nicest sense of the word. I actually overheard the following conversation:

GUY1: Did you get my last e-mail?
GUY2: About Aquaman?

Random thing #2

A lot of people asked me when this book that I'm working on is coming out. It's not sold yet. So it depends on if someone buys it after my agent sends it around. That's why you see me revising so much, and asking so many people for their opinions -- if it was already sold, I'd be working with an editor to revise it.

Random thing #3

Is the ability to do the Donald Duck voice genetic?


School daze

Some things that happened when I was in school that couldn't happen today:

1. In high school social studies, our teacher was showing a film. The actual film that was going through the projector started spilling out, all over the floor. We all noticed it and no one wanted to be the one to say something. The teacher didn't notice. Finally he noticed it. Because nobody said anything, he gave us a pop quiz to punish us.

Couldn't happen today; I'm sure they use VCRs.

2. When I had to write my sentences for Spanish class, using different verbs we were learning, I used to put in a lot of jokey threats. If the verb was "to plant," for instance, I'd write, "If you don't give me an A, I will plant you in the ground!!!" At the end of the year, my teacher wrote in my yearbook that she was glad she survived all of my warnings.

I'd probably be questioned by the police today.

3. In eighth grade, we had a fundraiser where you could pay a dollar and the Creative Arts teachers would take a photo of the kid you had a crush on, and slip it to you anonymously.

People are way too paranoid for this today.

There are probably other examples, but those are three off the top of my head. I wonder if kids know what "dittos" are. As I established recently, they still don't always use Spell Check...



Yeah, I know the last few posts haven't been so interesting. I will add more soon, including more beginnings of novels (I know, hot stuff). In the meantime, thanks to whoever sent me those anonymous roses on V-Day!



On my way home from dinner in NY, I just got to pet a puggle! The owner was amused when I saw it and yelled, "Puggle!" She was very soft.

NOTE: My friend Jane will kill me if I don't remind you all to adopt a shelter dog. There are hundreds of sweet pooches awaiting happy homes.
But what?

I just got this in my daily Publisher's Lunch roundup:

Leaving No BABY animal butts behind! The Book of Baby Animal Butts by Myrsini Stephanides
This one-of-a kind book brings animal and potty humor to new heights, skillfully combining high- and low-brow culture with adorable animal butts and sharp bons mots from wits throughout the ages.
Great for all animal lovers, this fun book features hilarious 4-color photos of some of the cutest and funniest animal behinds around. This one-of-a-kind animal humor book makes a great read for all ages. And what a bargain: just $7.95 for a hardcover with 64 baby animal butts in full color-that's less than 13 cents a butt, plus words!


Quote from inside my office

"The mayor just talked to me for 15 minutes about what he wasn't going to say."
So nice

I got this e-mail last night:

Subj: Carrie Pilby
Date: 2/13/2006 9:21:08 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: [redacted]

To: lizzner@aol.com
Sent from the Internet

Hi there, I loved reading "Carrie..." Would you ever write another novel, as a sequel? Sincerely, Ranya

It's so sweet that people are still finding Carrie Pilby, almost three years after it came out, and writing to me about it. My website address isn't even in the book, so they actually have to do a search to find it. I'm so glad...

Pigeon update

I went out with some Cheez-Its yesterday morning because it occurred to me that a pigeon who couldn't fly might have no where to go in the snow. I was wondering if he survived and needed food. (Or she; I'm not sure which one).

I didn't see him out there, although about 50 other pigeons appeared to nosh. It's probably harder for them to find food in the snow anyway. I'll check again today. I hope he's ok! Might be time to call the pigeon rehabilitator after all. Last time I saw him, which was about five days ago, his wing was kind of dragging, so I don't think his plan to heal without human help is working.


Happy Monday

I had a really good weekend. Hope y'all did. No, not everyone needs to know all the juicy (or unjuicy) details here. In any case, did I mention - it snowed...



Just when you thought

You don't really think I'm done revising my book, do you?

I keep calling up the file to nip and tuck. It's nice to do that when I no longer need major major changes.

I really really want someone to read it and love it and publish it. So while it's still in my hands, I gotta do my best.

I want it to be emotionally devastating.

I'm waiting for my agent to read it and get back to me to tell me if it's ready to send out. This is out of my hands. You can't harass your agent. They have a lot to do. Maybe she'll read it during this snowy weekend. Or maybe she'll take a month.

It's certainly a lot cleaner than it was, and I cut out the slow parts.

If you are a female reader of my books, by the way, and are willing to read the first, say, 30-50 pages of this and give any reactions or opinions, e-mail me. UPDATE: I have gotten a few responses, so thanks! So as of Saturday evening, I don't need any more test readers. For those who responded, it'll be on the way...Even if you say "I found page 5 dull and skimmed it, but I like page 7, and this paragraph here doesn't strike me as realistic." Every comment is helpful - because my perspective isn't exactly unbiased.

I'm confident in it enough now to ask a few more people to peek. But you must keep it confidential. Thanks!


Blizzard to hit us Saturday night!?

Accuweather really loves their headlines.

What kids write

I haven't yet written about scoring the Scholastic writing contest entrants last week. I'm not going to say what the entries were about, because I don't want to violate any confidentiality. I will say that all of my fears of technology making things too easy for today's kids are apparently unfounded. Some of them didn't use Spellcheck, or didn't pay careful attention when they were Spellchecking, as there were words like "studder" for stutter in stories. And this was for a contest for which and teachers and parents both had to sign the entry form. I actually think this is a positive thing, because it means the kids were allowed to prepare their entry on their own, and weren't forced into it or overedited by parents and teachers. But it still amazes me that some of them didn't use Spellcheck. I can't imagine there's a word processing program that doesn't have it. Are kids just told not to use it because then they'll never learn how to spell? Or they are just too lazy? That's pretty darn lazy!!

Interstates in Hawaii?

Sam from Hawaii, as well as another reader named Sam (this one's in Astoria) responded.

Sam from Hawaii:

"Short answer to Carls question- There isn't. While all of the interstate freeways on the mainland are refered with the letter I followed by their name (I-80, or I-5).Hawaii's freeways are designated with H (H-1, H-2). So they don't claim to be interstate freeways. But they are in that category because it's federal dollars that paid for it. Although we are hoping to build a bridge between here and LA to make it a true interstate!"

Sam from Astoria quotes Wikipedia:

"While the name implies that these highways cross state lines, many Interstates do not. Rather, it is the system of interstates that connects states. There are interstate highways in Hawaii, funded in the same way as in the other states, but entirely within the populous island of Oahu. They have the designation of H-X, and connect military bases. Similarly, both Alaska and Puerto Rico have public roads that receive funding from the Interstate program, though these routes are not signed as Interstate Highways."



Well, I posted Sam's question yesterday and my other male readers instantly got jealous.
Geez. Who knew I was so popular.

Carl writes:

Ask Sam from Hawaii
Why there's an interstate highway on the islands!

Michael writes:

Damn that is funny. But what is up with this Love CL? I don’t think that I have ever gotten a Love C.L. I am devastated. Distraught and overcome with sadness. Beside myself with angst. Tormented at the thought that you love another. Besieged with grief. Beset by sorrow. Beleaguered by self doubt. Why oh why can I not have a simple but oh, so wonderful Love CL Fair well cruel world.

Cue the violins.


All your questions answered!

Reader Sam writes:

"Is it tradition to wrap your book with a bow when dropping off to an agent? Is this an industry wide practice, or is this just a nicety you do for your agent? Should I practice my bow tying to impress an agent should I decide to ever write a novel?" - Sam, from Hawaii

Well, Sam, yes. Yes, it is. The reason so many manuscripts get rejected is because so many beginning writers do not know how to tie a bow. Plus the color coordination of the bow with the address label (note my "robin's egg blue" in yesterday's photo) is also important. Plus, stalkerish leaving it in the hall before 8 a.m. is a nice touch. Do all these things, and you'll slide into print!!



If you see something, say something

Dropped off half my book for my agent this morning.

Enjoyed this cityscape on my way home.


Combonym of the day

TRUMOR - a true rumor. (Ahnold says: "It's not a truma!")
Really really really

I am really really really almost done with the book.

What will I do when I have free time?

So many things. Movies, reading to catch up on...

Then, there is this other book idea I have. ;) It would pour from my fingers if I sat down to write it. But I might save that one for next year. Or a few years from now.

I still will be doing some work on another writing project throughout February, and then I take a break to soak up the coming of spring.

Because Valentine's Day is in a few weeks, I've gone back and forth for over a week on whether to write a V-Day related post. I think I'm probably not going to. All of the different topics I've thought of will just somehow get me in trouble. I don't want them hanging here for months or years, to be read or maybe discovered and by anyone random.

If you say, "Well, you're a wimp," yes, maybe, but if I thought my views were a) original, b) would add anything to the debate, I'd write them. As they are, I'd just be repeating what all the other bloggers write about men and women and who has it easier and harder, and why.

I will say this: Don't blame all men and women, or the next man or woman you meet, for all the problematic ones you've already met.

Anyway, I love reading Sylvia Plath's journals. She analyzes everything so much, but even if she's a literary genius, she had the same thoughts and fears of many women. In analyzing guys she could potentially marry, she writes:

"Dick is out because of innumerable reasons: cut-throat competitiveness, pride, self-love and fear for ego, hereditary liabilities, lack of virginity, short (for me) stockiness -- all of which, although perhaps not obvious on a spot appraisal, would increase the potential of corroding a creative felicitous partnership. Perry I know too well; we take each other for granted; there would be no discovery of personality there. Perhaps, if I had met him as Shirley did, it might have worked."

Pretty funny. Don't you love the "lack of virginity"? Shows the innocence of the times, or Sylvia's hopefulness of innocence, at her age, anyway. Don't be so hard on her about the "short" thing -- she was a pretty tall gal. Her thoughts are choppy like the tide, but haven't many of us thought things like "Maybe if I had met this person at a different time, it might be different"? Although unlikely, I think many of us have had such thoughts.


Writing exercise

I thought of a pretty good test to see if my book reads well. I've posted here before about how you lose your perspective after a while. You can't see your book the way a regular reader sees it. And that's probably a good thing, because if you knew how badly it sucked during the first few drafts, you might not pick it up again.

Anyway, I did think of a way to check how it's working -- do a search & replace and change all the characters' names, then read the book.

This gets rid of a lot of the associations you've had, through living and breathing with these characters for a few years. You're only changing the names, but it's a useful exercise. Of course, all common names have associations with them - at least, depending on your experiences. You have to choose a name that at least SEEMS in line with the character. A nerdy kid doesn't have to be Bubba.

Changing other things might work, too. If you have to listen to certain music for your book to work, stop that. Cut the music and see if it still works. Needing certain music is an early, amateur mistake. (More commonly made with screenplays. Although, as I've said before, if you're Tarantino it's okay. Or Paul Thomas Andersen. Or other guys who I'm not enough of a film buff to know about, who infuse their ouerves with song. [The whole idea of music changing the entire mood or tone of a film could be a topic for another day. Thoughtful music is commonly added to a movie involving a teenager if you don't want it to seem like a 'teen flick' - see The Graduate, Tadpole, etc. Try the scene from the Graduate with Dustin Hoffman driving across the bridge in his car, with Huey Lewis' "Power of Love" on, and see how you feel.])

Where was I?

Well, it's 3 a.m. Do you know where your boss is? Maybe standing over your shoulder. Go back to working on your novel -- I mean, go back to work!!! And be thankful that you're not outside, six stories up.

It all comes full circle here at addledwriter.blogspot.com.

In elementary school, one of our teachers gave us one of those half-hearted assignments that they occasionally would give and then completely forget about, leaving you -- as a kid with little time to waste between piano lessons and Girl Scouts -- to feel a bit peeved if you actually did them. This one teacher told us that she wanted us to, for 30 days in a row, keep two lists. One was a list of nice things you did for someone -- one a day -- including giving a simple compliment like "Hey, I like your clogs." (That's my example to infuse this tale with '80s spirit). The other list was a list of things we were thankful for, also one thing each day.

After I started keeping my lists for a few days, I realized that our teacher had dropped the subject and was never going to ask for them. I knew no one was going to bother to do them. But I decided to see if I could keep the lists anyway.

Now, since I was shy, I wasn't exactly going to go up to random kids at school and compliment their parachute pants. However, I did put things on my list of good deeds like helping my mom empty the dishwasher (unsolicited!) or helping my brother with his homework.

The things-to-be-thankful for list was more personally rewarding, because there are so many things we easily forget. I don't remember anything from my old list. But the reason I thought of all of this today was that at work, I edited a story about a guy who was doing construction at some condos in a neighboring town, and he fell off a beam and died. It was only 15 feet up, which is about a story and a half high, but I guess it was the way he fell, or what he fell onto.

If you are reading this at work, it is highly unlikely that you work at a dangerous job. Some of us have never even had to consider working at a job like that in order to make money. I know I should be thankful every day for all the things I have, but it's easy to forget. So among so many other things, I'm thankful that right now, I haven't had ever to work at a dangerous job for the money. Something to feel lucky about.


Talk amongst your Elvises

Sometimes I think of different things to post here, but end up not posting any of them. Oh well. There might be important things going on, but I decide for various reasons not to permanently paint them on this cyber-easel we like to call the internet.

Here are the most UNimportant things I could think of to post tonight:

New beginning

Yes, again I'm writing about how much I've struggled with the first 20 pages of my novel. The rest is fine now, but readers have to GET there. A few months ago, I found an older, more mature version of the start. It was actually better than the current one! Or is it that I hadn't read it in a while, so I had perspective? Hard to say. In any case, I tested it out tonight. It actually works...

(sorry to write about that once again.)

The O.C.

I have watched most of Season 1 of the O.C. Since the DVDs are still in good condition, I'm going to donate them somewhere. Unless that would actually torture people.

I think I like the Sopranos best out of all the shows I've watched seasons of on DVD. The writing is far above anything else on TV, in my own, useless opinion.

My friend, the Anonymous Blogger, said he was "surprised" I would watch the O.C. Humph. What do you think I am, a snob?

Well, it's true that every episode has the same plot:

1. Characters go to swanky party
2. Fistfight breaks out
3. Someone takes off, either drunk or very very upset due to a misunderstanding
4. ALL the other teenage characters take off after that person, despite parental guidance
5. They all return, scared but unharmed, and the parental units scold them for disobeying, but they also lovingly understand that the kids had to go after their friend. Hair-toussling occurs.

The Super Bowl

Is Sunday.


Nothing to say today

Talk amongst your elves.

NOON UPDATE! I just got this letter in response:

Dear Editor:

You say "talk amongst your elves" as if elves were a possession. You are a racist! Elves are NOT possessions and deserve every bit of the freedoms the rest of us enjoy! Elves should not be our slaves, they should be our partners! Liberate your elves, and they will repair your shoes and tend your garden with joy instead of fear!

- Elf Liberation Front (ELF)

My response to their response

Gentlemen: (What, no female elves? Even the Smurfs had an 'ette.) First off, I hope you weren't offended by my putting your letter in green and red. Secondly, what "race" are elves? Thirdly, please respond shortly - I know you're used to that.
Thank you. - Addled Writer

P.S. Yes, someone really did send me that letter. (But I suspect it was not from the real E.L.F.)