Why is it that I have shelves full of books I have to read, and I still go to the library to take out more? I think I subconsciously believe that one weekend, there will be a bad snowstorm and I'll be stuck with just cocoa and all my books, and I'll need plenty to read.


I will have a short story in this anthology that will be out at the end of the summer. It got posted on Amazon today. It should be shipped well before its official pub date.


The topic of blogs came up in my writing group, and someone said, "Isn't that narcissistic?" Actually, I feel like today's entry is pretty narcissistic. I promise that next week I won't write about my works-in-progress. I know it's gotten a little boring.

Generally, though, criticizing blogs as narcissistic is silly. They're just diaries that a few friends are privy to, or in my case, friends and people who are goodly enough to have read my writing. A diary is SUPPOSED to be about yourself.

It's not like there are only, say, five addresses on the web and each of us is dedicating one to our solipsistic screeds. I'm just putting some thoughts into cyberspace in case anyone cares, and I don't falsely believe that hundreds of people do (because they don't). Mostly, I use this blog as a way to keep up with friends and readers.

An interesting take

...on what publishing is like for a young writer whose idea is not tailor-made for the market.
Not every Ivy scribe gets a big book deal.


I hope everyone has a good weekend. (Note to self: I have to write my "Regina" post on Monday or Tuesday. Nothing scandalous; I just thought of it today and should write it.)



A girl just quoted from one of my novels on her Livejournal - it's actually a pretty good quote that I forgot about, if I may egotistically shamelessly pat myself on the back in the midst of wanting to rewrite most of what I've written.

It's about dating. Take a gander.
Things we learned this week

Those $500,000 book deals might not be all they're cracked up to be. If you get one, turn it down immediately!

There are ways to get Jared Paul Stern off the literary gossip pages for a day or so.

If you get into a literary scandal, have a hard-to-pronounce name so people can't use it as a punchline.

Westfield Garden State Plaza is actually in Paramus.

And most importantly, I just found the perfect destination for a road trip!! Who wants to come?!?!

E-mail me and let me know.


Hi, Sweetie.

I want to confess something. I'm secretly in love with you.

No, not you. You.

No, him.


Yes, that cute English bulldog over there. I love English bulldogs. They're cuddly.


Thanks to everyone who sent me historical information about the malls of North Jersey. I didn't know I was being read by a bunch of mall rats.

Ned Vizzini has been writing up a storm in his blog lately. His new novel, It's Kind of a Funny Story, is great, so I should write more about it when I have a chance. And no, I'm not kissing up. He can't help me out of my literary stupor right now, nor can anyone else. I'm working on three things, and I have to get one of them finished already and out there.

I spent yesterday revising a few pages of Novel 3, then ended up realizing it was much better the old way. That's fine, though. Sometimes you just have to try all angles. It's part of the process.

This stupid, irksome process!

I have a bunch of stuff I'd like to improve about Carrie Pilby, but sometimes you have to let it go. Or as Dante Hicks says in Clerks, "Sometimes you have to let those hard-to-reach chips go." The VCR ate my videotape of Clerks recently, incidentally, so I'll have to get the DVD at some point. Especially since it's in my top 5 movies. I was watching it as I cleaned my apt. last month. Which I have to do again before my writing group comes over.

P.S. I really do think you're swell.


Short thrills

Reactions to yesterday's post:

"Why haven't I heard of this Short Hills Mall before? It sounds amazing!" - A friend from California who now lives in NYC

That's what we Jerseyans are for - bringing malls to the transplanted masses!

Two people wrote and complained that I said the Garden State Plaza mall was in Westfield and not in Paramus, so I fixed it. I got confused because it had changed its name to "Westfield Garden State Plaza," but that's the name of the company, not the town it's in.

So here is one more update on the alleged plagiarism controversy, from the Harvard Crimson.

In other news, I am blogging right now to procrastinate from an evening of revisions to Novel-in-Progress #3.

Now back to our regularly scheduled grind. Oh yeah, buy my books. Summer's coming.


170 specialty shops later...

The Harvard Crimson has posted updates on the plagiarism allegations, as well as additional instances they found of similarities in Megan McCafferty's trilogy and How Opal Mehta...etc.

I don't really want to comment on the allegations any more, as a fellow writer. Enough people will do that.

But here's another important question. One interesting similarity between the two books is the joke about "170 specialty shops later"... Besides the fact that the wording is similar, there's another question to ask: Since both characters live in NJ, if they were talking about a real mall, which North Jersey mall would they be talking about?

As a North Jerseyan myself, I just had to solve this important riddle.

Well, Opal refers to "the Plaza," which I guess is Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus.

But if you go by 170 shops, it might just be the uber-swanky Short Hills Mall! Here's what the mall website says:

Nowhere else in the world can you find such an oasis of luxury shopping under one roof. This one stop shopping destination includes over 170 specialty stores and restaurants including Cartier, Chanel, Crate & Barrel, Dior, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Legal Sea Foods, Louis Vuitton, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co. and anchors Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. Over 40 boutiques have their only New Jersey location at The Mall at Short Hills, the region's preeminent shopping center.

Malls across the country offer different denominations of "specialty stores" and "specialty shops", like 150, 160, 170...and the Menlo Park Mall in Central Jersey also boasts 170. AND of course, it may have been a number picked at random by McCafferty.

This discussion was pretty pointless, but hey, so's the blog!!! Now, go buy Carrie Pilby. Yeah.


Spying on you

I'll be reading from a new novel-in-progress May 7, Sunday, in Brooklyn. Hello to all new readers, by the way. Check out my published novels & stuff.


Literary snark and scandal

The author of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got A Life is being accused of plagiarism. Reminder: Innocent until proven guilty...anyway, the story was broken by the Harvard Crimson yesterday, and by last night, it had made the Associated Press Wire. By the time you read this, or at least by Tuesday, I imagine it will be the literary scandal d'jour.

It is easy to accidentally reuse a phrase from another book if it sticks in the back of your mind, so hopefully that's what happened. In any case, I'm sure we'll be hearing more about it.

I worry about the author, though. The knives had been sharpening for her as soon as she got a $500K book deal at the tender age of 19.

If you are a young author (say, 29 or under, but especially 25 or under), and you get a major book deal (say, six figures), the knives come out. It's so hard to get published in general, and to get such a high sum in particular, that if people can poke holes in your story, or in you personally, they will. But when you accidentally (or purposely) give them extra fodder, it only gets worse.

The book they're saying she allegedly plagiarized is Sloppy Firsts, a very popular novel in the teen/tween genre (between teen and adult).

After the Harvard U. sophomore's novel finally came out April 4, some reviews said it was a charming book, some others (in fact, one in a Harvard student magazine and the other written by a Harvard sophomore in the NY Observer) wrote about the book and its author with a negative slant.

It goes to show that a huge advance definitely has its downside for a young author - the scrutiny is pretty intense.

Thank god I didn't get $500,000 for Carrie Pilby (ha ha).



Oops, forgot what I was gonna say.


Into print

A co-worker brought in her little girl today.

GIRL (to me): I don't think I can write a book.
ME: I bet you can!
GIRL: But I can write a movie script.
ME: Then do one.
GIRL: I did. It's at home.
ME: Remember, they have to be 110 pages.

(No. Actually what she said was, "It doesn't have to be like a 3-hour movie" and I said, "OK." No use dashing her dreams.)


What's for breakfast

Start your day with Val's special eggs!


Go to your room!

That used to be the worst punishment as a kid. Having to go to my room. Everyone else would be watching TV in the den. I'd hear them in there. Not only was my family all there without me, but I was missing all the good shows.

Sure, I liked to draw comic strips, but I liked doing it in front of the TV, where everyone else was. I didn't like being away, missing the party. There was NOTHING to do in my room.

I doubt that's a big punishment anymore. Kids have everything in their room - the internet, probably a TV, video games, a phone. I never had any of those in my room. If there was TV to be watched, it was on the big set in the living room, and my brother and I basically controlled it after the news was over. My mom watched what WE wanted. We knew the prime time schedule by heart. She couldn't stand Laverne & Shirley, but we still tortured her with it every Tuesday.

I wonder about today's kids and certain things that have just slowly gone out of fashion or changed without me realizing it. What are punishments today? Probably no internet. No talking on the phone.

I had another example of this, but I forgot it. It happens when you get old.


Sunday best

This weekend, I actually went to Easter services - only because my friend Dawn had her Confirmation at the services to become the Catholic she was. Here is Dawn's site.

Anyway, I decided to wear Easter colors. Ah, spring.


Impo'tant dates

I will be reading in Brooklyn on Sunday, May 7 around 6 p.m. as part of the Barbes series that Jessica runs. Still don't know who my two co-readers are yet. I'll read from the funnier (hopefully) of the two projects I'm finishing up. It'd be swell to see you there.

If you're reading this on Monday, April 17, I have a story in the Daily News today. Here is the link.

In other news, as pointed out by Derek, Gawker allowed former Page 6 staffer Jared Paul Stern to post info all weekend, which resulted in some very harsh comments.


I posted stuff this weekend; scroll down if you like.


This weekend's thoughts...

Mirror image

Is it possible that everyone in your life can remind you of someone else in your life? This guy I work with reminds me of my friend Angela's husband. They even write the same way. I only realized recently that my friend Valerie reminds me of a girl named Valerie in college, who also had red hair and a similar personality. It's weird.


On Tuesday I went to a comic bookish reading and then stopped at a bar with fellow reading attendees Ned Vizzini, Todd S., and [Censored] (inside joke). The three of them talked about Iraq for a half hour, then used comic book metaphors to explain their arguments. I was lost on both counts, but was impressed on their worldly knowledge. I should start following the ins and outs of the war again instead of being such an ignoramus. I used to be such a policy wonk toward the end of my college career, when Clinton had just taken office. Maybe I should write about that some day.

Straw men

If you want to buffer your political argument, sometimes you create a "straw man" to represent the other side, and then argue against that exaggerated, invisible man. Like, "A lot of Republicans hate poor people, but I don't," that kind of thing. Sometimes, though, you don't need a straw man. I was on a date two years ago when a guy said he's against big government because he doesn't like his money going to "Welfare mothers with 13 kids." I was incensed that someone who seemed intelligent would use such a lazy, uninformed, and cliched argument. I didn't know where to begin to argue about that. But anyone who argues something like that ought to actually have at least MET a Welfare mother with several kids, to prove they exist -- and he had not. So he certainly hadn't talked to one to find out what her life was really like.

Similarly, last week, someone made a comment to me that giving to the homeless is bad because a lot of them are "con artists." Since a person standing on the street asking for money in New York all day is unlikely to get rich, I said I doubted they were just pretending to be homeless. His reply that most of them are going to use the money for an addiction and not food. Okay, but that's not a con. They're still hungry, even if their shi**y life means they use drugs as well.

Check, mate

Thursday I got a check in the mail that gave me a great deal of satisfaction. I wasn't sure why. It was a check for a short story that I'm going to have in an anthology. I've gotten much larger checks for my writing, so why did this one make me happy? Of course, to make any money off of fiction writing is an exciting thing -- and even though I got rejected for ten years before I finally sold fiction, people can write for years and get rejected for years more and still not get published, and I never forget that. But that still didn't explain why this particular check made me so happy.

I realized today that maybe it was because it was sort of like the old days, when a young writer would send off a story to, say, Harper's or some literary magazine and then barely hear anything until he/she got a check in a small envelope. Then that person would run to the bank to cash it. It just felt very writerly, getting that check. I liked that.

Your taxes are due

So stop reading this.

That's all for tonight. I'm caught up now. Remember to do your homework in the dark and eat your cereal with a fork.


Super super super

Recently, I was in a conversation with my friend The Anonymous Blogger about the next Superman movie, and he stated that there was a Superman IV released years ago, and it was horrible. It was co-written by Christopher Reeve. I didn't believe him. I have never heard of such a film. But I looked it up, and of course, the comic book nerd was right. This film came out 19 years ago! Here's the link if you don't believe us either.


Glad tidings

A PR person was just on the phone with me and ended the call by wishing me a happy Hannukah!!


Pigeons and dogs

I haven't seen the pigeon with the broken wing since before the blizzard. At least I haven't seen his body, either, so maybe he's alive somewhere. I wonder if I could have helped him. If I'd called the humane society's 'pigeon rehabilitator' the pigeon would have been captured and maybe kept in a cage to heal, but would that have scared him for weeks? I don't know.

What is odd, though, was that he was always in front of the exact same address, whether pecking in the street or just sitting near the doorway eating. Pigeons all look alike to me, so imagine how many of them you are passing every day that are the same pigeons in the same places, and you didn't even realize it...pigeons have an address too.

More odd animal behavior: Dogs know you by your scent, and it's completely different from everyone else's scent. But to you, you smell like absolutely nothing. And you use soap, shampoo, etc. So how does a dog differentiate? Well, it does. A dog can go years without seeing someone, and then happen to walk past them and all of a sudden recognize their smell and go crazy wagging. Amazing.


Always check Snopes

I got an e-mail forward from my cousin entitled "Fwd: Racism still exists."

It was about some incident on a British Airways flight where a woman in first class demanded to be reseated so she wouldn't have to sit next to a black woman. The stewardess instead kicked her out of her seat for being racist, and the passengers all cheered.

Of course, I looked it up on Snopes and it's fake. So I passed my cousin the info.

She wrote back:

Miss Lizzner, why did you really feel the need to pee pee on my cute uplifting racism story with your indepth analysis to the contrary?


April showers

It rained all day here in the metro area. It is going to rain a lot this month. It always does in April. And people start forgetting that it does this every year, and they complain, "I can't believe it's raining this much." Don't be surprised.

I saw an '80s cover band called Spit-Roast Muppet yesterday. Those guys are talented.

I got a nice e-mail today, this one from a mom in Arkansas:

I've only before been compelled to write to an author whose book I despised so this is new for me. I so enjoyed Carrie Pilby and identified with her that I had to write and tell you.

It's still saying on Amazon that it takes 3-6 weeks to get copies, but it's not true. I have to write and bug them. My editor said that they definitely do have copies.

Has everyone heard about the Page 6 New York Post author who supposedly tried to extort $$ from a subject of the columns? If true: Dumb. Very dumb.


Opal Mehta watch

The Times writes about a novel called "How Opal Mehta got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got A Life" today, in which a h.s. girl comes up with a 6-point plan to get a life and get into Harvard. Someone alerted me that the Amazon page for today shows that some people who bought Opal Mehta also bought Carrie Pilby. Yay!

Love the afternoon

Dialogue from work, just now:

GRAPHICS PERSON: Why do we care that this nurse [in an article we're writing] met her husband at the hospital?
ME: I care.
GRAPHICS PERSON: It's like 'General Hospital.' It's like Luke and Laura.
ME: Luke and Laura didn't work at the hospital.
ME: No. They just lived near it.
GRAPHICS PERSON: Didn't they live in Bobbi's brownstone?
ME: Bobbi worked at the hospital. She's a nurse.
OTHER GRAPHICS PERSON: What the HELL are you guys talking about?
**updates below**

Space: The final fronteir

A writer told me that I should have a MySpace account. Everyone has one, she said.

Ugh. That's what I need. Just one more thing to stalk people on. Maybe I can do that, and delete my stupid Friendster account.

Hey, for some reason it's nearly impossible to buy copies of Carrie Pilby off Amazon. We are working to rectify the situation.

Heh heh, heh heh, I said rect...


Frustrated Incorporated

I am forcing myself to take a month of revising one of the two books that is near completion. I need to look at it fresh.

But - argh! - I keep wanting to work on it. I hear of other people's book deals, and I want to not be sitting idly by while everyone else keeps working.

I have to remind myself that there are authors that write a first novel and then it takes them 10 years to come out with a second one. There are people like Junot Diaz (and no, I am NOT comparing myself to him - he's a great writer) who wrote a first book ("Drown," a collection of short stories, in 1997) and we're still waiting for his first novel that he keeps talking about (tentatively called "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" or something similar). It was exerpted in the New Yorker several years ago, and it was absolutely wonderful, but I wonder when the whole thing is coming out. It takes time to write a book. So I have to stop paying attention to the listservs I'm on where people just sold four-book deals.

There is such anxiety out there from leaving projects unfinished, though. Each week, I get Publisher's Lunch Weekly, listing all of the previous week's publishing deals. I read it breathlessly to make sure no one has just sold something like mine.

I have a few other ideas for books I want to start, but if I do, it will take years to finish them. To create a whole world, with backstory and unique characters and unique plots and problems, and keep it interesting for 300 pages, is no mean feat.

And it IS possible to sell a book just on a proposal and a few chaps, if you've been published before. But not all agents will do it. It depends on the book, too. Agh, frustrating.

Arrogant jerk

So there is an article in New York Magazine this week about a guy who started mastrubating in front of a woman on the subway. She took his photo. It ended up on the cover of the Daily News. A few people recognized it. He was exposed (literally) as a popular restauranteur.

So New York Mag has an interview with him this week and the last paragraph is him saying, "Well, if she met me, I'm sure she'd think, 'Hey, interesting guy. He owns a cool restaurant.' I bet she'd even go out with me."

Is that arrogant, or what?


It really IS going to snow a little tonight. So much for my April Fool!

When I was in college, I said as an April Fool that Hillary Clinton would be our commencement speaker. And she was!


Okay, I just looked up Junot Diaz on Google to see when his next book is coming out. Someone who just saw him read wrote this on a blog:

Of, course Junot rocked the house. He read excerpts from the piece he read at [the VONA Workshop], "The Sun, The Moon, The Stars". He also read from the novel, "A Cheater’s Guide to Love" that he has been working on for several years now. From what I heard last night, once he’s finished it and gets it in the hands of the publisher, it's going to be amazing. I don't know what the delay is, but whatever it is, it has nothing to do with the man’s skills. He’s got game.

Yes, what IS the holdup? I Googled the "Cheater's Guide" and there are websites that say it was going to come out in 1997. I guess he's still working on it. I'm sure, as this person says, "It's going to be amazing." But it's not even listed on Amazon, so that means it's at least six months off.

Well, sorry you had to read about my literary frustrations on my blog again, but at least now you know the answer - if you're a friend of mine - to why I keep saying I'm working on a book, but it's not actually done.

Disclaimer: I was in high school with Diaz, but that's not why I praise his work - in fact, I praise it in SPITE of my jealousy. I really do love his straightforward writing style. I don't think he liked me then, anyway; I was a complete geek and grade-grubber and he was a ... school-hater (but in some ways, I imagine, still a geek).


Amusement park

Sunday I was at an amusement park with friends (it was free). They had one of those booths where people try to guess your age and weight. I paid a woman to guess my age. She guessed 24! That was certainly prize enough, but I won a stuffed dog anyway because she was so far off.

Here are some photos of the experience on Sarah's blog. The captions are UNDERNEATH the corresponding photo -- just so you don't think I'm Jon or Sarah.


Perfect day

Today is a beautiful warm day here in the Northeast. It's hard to believe they're predicting one last major snowstorm for Tuesday, but today, all is clear.

And that's an April Fool about the snowstorm; I made it up. It really is a beautiful day today.

I hope everyone enjoys it.