Taylor Antrim's nightmare

Periodically I post about authors' fears that someone else is writing something similar to what they are writing. This past week, the New York Observer published a story called "Wonder Boy '07" about 33-year-old author Taylor Antrim, whose debut novel about a prep school is coming out. It says that as Antrim was writing it, halfway through it, young author Curits Sittenfeld's novel Prep came out, also about a prep school. Antrim could have thinking: "Ack! A best seller about prep school! No one will buy mine because Prep is already out." Editors could turn it down: "Sorry, we just bought Prep" or "It's too much like "Prep" (which incidentally was itself rejected by 14 out of 15 editors and then went on to be a best seller.) This kind of thing does happen sometimes.

Anyway, this is an excerpt from the article:

MR. ANTRIM WORKED ON THE NOVEL for almost two years, getting over 150 pages written on the Metro-North to New Haven visiting his girlfriend—now fiancĂ©e—Liz, who is completing her dissertation at Yale. “It’s an amazing place to write as long as you can block out the fact that people are looking over your shoulder and seeing what you’re writing,” he said. Midway through his work, Prep came out. “I didn’t read it, but I heard about it and thought to myself, ‘Just keep your head down and keep writing and get to the end.’ Because you really don’t believe you’ll get to the end. And then when you get there you stand up and say, ‘Holy shit, I wrote a novel!’”

So it just goes to show, if you love what you are writing, you just have to keep at it.

Here's the rest of the story, if you are interested.

By the way, the Observer called him a "wonder boy" and now all other young writers will be jealous of him. Plus they started their article talking about how handsome he is. And yes, he went to prep school. So, let the snark begin.

Or, you may be focusing on the NBA draft right now like certain people. ;)


Lunch break

No time to post today, so here's a photo of a woman on the bus peeling an egg.

Yum yum!


Monday mindblowers

I think reading this made my head explode. And I actually like this kind of stuff.



(While watching the Mets game yesterday)

ME: They should have a game where it's just pitchers against pitchers.
THE BOY: Yeah, you say stupid girly things.

(Ignore him. I still think it would be interesting, don't you?)


Oh, lordy

It may become a film, too:

Film rights to Doug Brown's JUST DO IT: How One Couple Screwed Their Life and Love Back Together, about the author's relationship-invigorating experiment to have sex with his wife for 101 consecutive days, optioned to 20th Century Fox, by Kassie Evashevski at UTA, on behalf of Daniel Lazar at Writers House.


On another note, I got two nice e-mails about Carrie Pilby last week, within a day of each other, after I hadn't gotten any in a while; I get them when school is out and people are reading again...

Caren, Check out the comments on this blog post from Laura Lippman's website: http://www.journalscape.com/LauraLippman/2007-05-18-13:42 Bryon Q. "As the resident adolescent boy here, I feel it's my duty to hold up all that is great and wonderful about Catcher in the Rye. I do feel that's it's an entirely voice and character driven novel and that if that voice and character don't speak to you, then it ain't gonna work for you. But toward what Dusty said, I guess maybe because I am a drama queen it all works for me. Anyone looking for a female version of Catcher (with less drama and whining) should look up Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner. I pimp this book at any chance I'm given and it's a close second to Catcher as my favorite book." His logic makes a lot of sense to me. I didn't read CATCHER until college and didn't see what the big deal was. But I certainly identified with and loved CARRIE PILBY. And congrats on the engagement!


Hi Caren-
So technically I'm not done reading Carrie Pilby just yet. Nonetheless, I have really enjoyed what I have read so far and got on Amazon.com to check out other books of yours. Always planning ahead...I guess that's the lawyer in me. Don't worry, I'm not "that kind" of lawyer. I actually had court today and wore socks that had Dots candy all over them. It's my little rebellion against becoming a stereotypical lawyer. So far it's working.
I hope this message finds you well and I look forward to reading more of your work. Your post on Amazon mentioned that you had a blog. I would love to get a link to it if possible.
Thanks for writing and doing what you do! Have a great day.


Jersey Boys

Last night, the boy took me to see Jersey Boys, which I'd wanted to see since it opened.

I love the music of the Four Seasons, and besides, my dad grew up near their 'hood. I was impressed at what a great job they did, threading together the sometimes-painful biographies of four guys into one cohesive narrative, with a lot of funny lines. They made the music really rock. I've seen musicals (like "Movin' Out") that just relied on the strength of the music, and this one was much more appealing. Tickets are expensive, but I recommend that you see it if you can. Oh: There is some bad language, so keep small kids away.

The tickets were actually a b-day present that the Boy gave me a while ago. They were such good seats that...we were actually sitting not far from MEG RYAN!!! Other people pointed her out to us. Her hair is REALLY LONG now. She hasn't been in anything lately and is raising an adopted daughter. I found this picture online. See, her hair is really long.



I love looking at signs from decades past, especially ones that have outgrown their relevance. I took photos of these two. They won't be around forever.



Too busy to write today. This is a disappointing entry, but at least the colors are pretty.



In three different parts of the state today, I saw mother geese (or ducks or swans, I don't always know which giant bird I'm looking at) walking with fluffy yellow goslings/ducklings/chicks. It was CUUUUUTE.

In one case, The Boy had to stop his car and let them all cross the road.

I guess it has to do with the advent of spring -- birds and bees "do it", and now, on a very hot and sunny day, the momma geese must nudge their little goslings to water so they can swim and drink.

Have I mentioned how cute they were?

The Boy thought it was girly of me to mention that, but I still answered correctly who was pitching for the Mets today when he asked, so I get a break... (Although, shhhhh, I only knew the person's nickname and luckily he didn't ask the real name.)

On another note...you can disregard the stuff below about seeking a laptop, because I found a cheap new one with a rebate. Computers have come way down over the years.

And finally, right now "Bridezillas" is on our TV. While certainly there are spoiled people in the world, I feel bad for some of these girls because they are led to believe, either by peers (who've had similarly lavish weddings) or the wedding industry, that they must include all sorts of refinements in their wedding, and then one of them goes wrong and they get upset (like the girl on TV who is crying right now because a wheel just fell off a replica of a wagon, and her dad isn't taking it seriously). The important thing is bringing two people together who love each other.

I was going to blog about some other silly thing, but I forgot. It probably wasn't important, like 99.99 percent of whatever else is on here. I hope you all have a wonderful wonderful week!!!!


Snow Caps

In high school, I weighed about 100 pounds. I used to think it was just my metabolism, but looking back, I probably didn't eat that much excess junk considering I was only eating whatever my mother gave me for breakfast and dinner, and whatever the meager $1.65 school lunch was every day. I always had ice cream after school, but still, it wasn't like I had the money or time to buy my own snackage. There was one year when I had no friends in my lunch period, so instead of even eating lunch, I went to the library every day, bent into a carrel where the librarians couldn't see me eating, and pulled out a granola bar.

But I digress.

I got into college and signed up for the standard freshman three-meal-a-day meal plan.

Suddenly, not only were a full range of hot foods, sandwiches and cereals at my disposal, but for lunch and dinner, the "ice cream bar" was out. Besides hot fudge and the like, it featured such toppings as Heath bar crunch and Snow-Caps.

Clearly, draconian measures had to be instituted. I decided that I would allow myself to have "ice cream days" and "chocolate days" only two days a week. I made them the same days: Tuesday and Thursday, because I had my hardest classes those days. Ice cream and chocolate could ease the pain.

"You girls are crazy," this kid across the hall said to me once, "With your ice cream days." (I wasn't the only one.)

One Monday, I snuck a cup full of those delicious dark-chocolate Snow Caps out of the cafeteria and placed it on my dresser. I wanted it, but I couldn't eat it yet. After all, it was Monday.

That night, I had to study for my Calculus 141 exam. I sat Indian-style on my bed and started studying. My roommate sat on the bed across from mine, studying too. She knew I was salivating over those Snow-Caps, just a few feet away.

The red numbers on my clock radio changed. 11:48. 11:49.

At precisely 12:01 a.m., I put my Calc book down and plunged my mouth into the cup full of delicious Snow-Caps.

That anticipation really got me through.

I don't think this story goes very far to dispel the notion that women have food issues, does it?

Two days since the finale and I've managed to avoid most of the spoilers. So everyone, shazz up!!!!

Still no offers of used laptops, so let me know if you're selling.



I need to buy a cheap used laptop. If you've got one or know anyone who is getting rid of one, please lemme know! E-mail me at the link at my webpage. Thanks!

A few people commented on the fact that I posted my "Monday" entry on Saturday. Well, yes, I did, but I'm allowed to get ahead! All right?

I heard that a lot of people's screens went back at the end of the first hour of the Sopranos this past Sunday, and they didn't get to see the second hour, when everyone stripped off all their clothes and did the macarena. And then Bob Newhart showed up and it turned out it was all a dream. It's so sad that you all missed that!! It was great.

Yes, I am posting this on Monday. And it's for Tuesday. So do you want to make somethin' of it?


Monday thoughts

Is Ikea the opposite of Nokia?


Saturday night madness

We are a really rowdy couple. A new CVS opened in the area, and they sent out coupons for $10 off $20 of goods. So this evening, we made sure to go to CVS and buy $20 worth of stuff to use the coupon.

That's us. Par-tay, par-tay, par-tay!!!! ;)

I bet you are wondering what we purchased. I think there was some conditioner in there. Tide pens too. And maybe -- hold on to your undies -- skim milk!

Seriously, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Oh, I also got a haircut. Shhhh.


Only in New York

Only in New York do they publish articles designed to make you relieved that you haven't gotten a book deal.

Check out the Observer's story from today, My Book Deal Ruined My Life.

Just remember that it doesn't have to be extreme as some of these writers make it. I guess I did more solitary writing years ago...now I work on it here and there. I think the key is to not assume you will make your only living at it right away, because then there's too much pressure to produce.

I like this quote: “You’re not letting people read it as you write it. Nobody has ever read what you’re doing. It could be terrible. It could be brilliant. And you start to think, ‘Oh God, this is a complete piece of shit that couldn’t be published...”

On another note

This book sold recently:

Denver Post writer Doug Brown's JUST DO IT: How One Couple Screwed Their Life and Love Back Together, about the 101 days the author and his wife committed to have sex every day, no matter what, and exploring how anyone can strengthen a relationship, and fall back in love with their spouse even after a decade together, to Allison McCabe at Crown, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House.


So anyway

I've been on my diet for a month as of this Sunday. And I'm a bit tired of it! I run on the treadmill almost every morning (kind of boring, but the iPod helps) and I haven't been eating sweets. Definitely no fried food, and less cheese than usual. No chocolate.

I did manage to lose the five pounds, so I will probably go back to a less-strict diet soon.

I also haven't really done any writing in almost a month. Which is good, because when I write, I eat. I am waiting for Superagent to read the novel I handed in last month. I do have some manuscripts that I pick and poke at now and then, but wedding planning and other things take priority.

The NJ anthology came out on Tuesday. Haven't seen any reviews, but at least my writing is out there, and can always lead to more publications. Or movies. Or stuff.

Happy Thursday.



Two responses to Manhattanhenge:

Dave speculates:

Take whatever date that was and subtract it from June 22. Then take that difference and ADD it to June 22, and the sun should be in the same place.

Mickey writes:

Your comment on the East / West Sun was interesting. I was driving one day in Teaneck when that happened. It blinded all drivers. It stopped traffic. You could not see a thing. I don't remember the date though. Sorry.



So Friday I went to the Book Expo of America, an annual publishing industry convention where publishers flaunt their new books. It was at the Javits Center for three days.

I got to see an editor whom I'd pitched a book to a year ago (she's still considering it), and I saw some publicity people from Red Dress Ink. "You should publish 200,000 more copies of that Carrie Pilby book," I said. I don't think it helped.

Perhaps the most interesting book I got free was a light-blue uncorrected galley of something called FINDING IRIS CHANG: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind. Since Iris was an otherwise successful young woman who committed suicide at the age of 36, I was kind of curious about the book.

I debated taking it, as one's totebag gets heavy and runneth over at the conference, but I couldn't quite put the book down. And out of all the books I got, I somehow started reading this one first.

Apparently, Iris was an overachieving journalist of whom many other journalists were jealous. Yet, she also did some wonderful work at an early age, including exposing the extent of Japanese atrocities committed against the Chinese during WWII. The book is interesting on several levels:

1. It shows the kind of dangers faced by the rare journalists who really stick their necks out to uncover and write about wrongdoing, and there are so few people willing to do this kind of probing work. Sometimes, as a journalist, you find something you want to expose, and you know that it will take months of work and pushing and interviews for possibly little reward. But you know the story is there and you must follow it. Irish Chang ended up writing three important books in that vein.

2. On another level, the book shows the kind of naivete that still exists in this day and age about mental illness. The book is written by a friend and former classmate of Iris who can't understand how someone so smart and successful suddenly killed herself. In the days before Chang killed herself, she called the author and rambled for more than an hour, saying things like "I think I gave my son autism through vaccinations" and "If anything should happen to me, remember how I was before I got sick, ok?" Naively, the author believes people who tell her that Chang was merely "depressed" or stressed by the book tour. When someone is experiencing delusions like harming her son, it's more than stress. And when someone hints that they are going to commit suicide, you don't just let it go. Anyway, later in the book the author reveals (surprise) that Chang had more serious problems than depression. Chang's mom was reluctant to talk about it at first, but then spoke publicly on it later, because of the stigma of mental illness in the Asian community. There are so many people who just don't understand the pervasiveness and nuances of mental illness, and I think this book sheds a little light on how it can happen to someone who is otherwise successful.

3. The book is interesting on a gossipy level because of the extent of the jealousy of Iris by her superiors. Sometimes the book has a bit of a smarmy feel as certain people in it are a bit too curious about her suicide, more than they are saddened by the loss. But it's an important book about an important person.

Wow, I went off on one book...I'm not all the way through it but it seems worth reading.

I also got a novel called "The Flawless Skin of Ugly People" by Doug Crandell that's coming out this fall; a book called Grub that is described as a "send-up of the publishing world", a book about Jane Austen, Tom Perrotta's new book The Abstinence Teacher (signed!!), and a hardcover Red Dress Ink book, Welcome to the Real World by Carole Matthews.Other goodies included a free Mad magazine, some notebooks, and pads.

I also bumped into a few people I know, like Nichelle of the Nichelle Newsletter who is always nice enough to call out my name as we are making our ways through the throngs. All in all, a worthwhile visit.

Unfortunately, next year BEA will be held in L.A., so I'll be skipping that one.

Over and out.
Hold everything!

'Awwww' alert.


Monday, Monday

I got some interesting books at the book festival. It's like trick-or-treating for us publishing folks. I even got some ESPN books for the boy and some comic books for a friend. I'll write more about what happened there when I get time.

I also met Tom Perrotta. He's shorter than me, doncha know.

Also, the Mets won 6-1. Yay! And I got peanuts all over the place. Yay again.


The score was SEVEN TO ONE. SEVEN TO ONE. My better half wanted that made clear immediately. Sorry, my little hug-muffin. Forgive me, Mets fans!


Sunset in Manhattan

Twice a year, the sun sets in direct alignment with Manhattan's east-west streets, flooding walls and buildings with pink light for the last 15 minutes of the day. It's pretty cool to see. However, I keep missing it. Does anyone know which two dates it is this year? Please e-mail me if you do.

Here are some descriptions of it last year with maybe better explanations.

Here is something from Wikipedia suggesting that it's on specific dates each year. I didn't hear about it this year. But I often miss it. Wikipedia seems to believe a term was only coined for it five years ago. No one noticed before?? Or maybe there just weren't enough web sites that were talking about such things.

UPDATE: Okay, apparently it was a mere two days ago and I missed it! There will be another one in July but these articles don't say exactly when. Grrrr.

Anyhoo, there are rumors that this weekend, I will both attend the Book Expo of America, and I might see the Mets play as well. Cheers!