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Viewing Blog: Meg Cabot, Most Recent at Top
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Meg has published almost forty novels for younger readers as well as adults, including The Princess Diaries series (on which two hit feature films by Disney were based), The Mediator series, and the 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU series (on which the television series, Missing, currently being broadcast Saturday nights on the Lifetime network, is based).
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1. The Boy Is Back

Can you believe summer is over? I can’t.

But I guess I’m glad if it means 2016 is going away.

Not that parts of it weren’t great. Remember how much fun we (okay, I) had when Remembrance came out? And Royal Wedding Disaster?  And the Rio Olympics? And the Rizzoli and Isles finale?

I WILL MISS YOU RIZZOLI AND ISLES. At least we’ll still have the books.

But there is a lot of 2016 I am not going to miss. Such as, the election.

And now the cat has had a “neurological incident” from which she is still recovering (requiring her to use a litter box instead of the great outdoors—a skill which, like driving for me, she has yet to fully master).

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Did you know cats could have strokes? I did not.

But, like humans, they can also recover from them, given time, patience, and lots of help  (which she does not appreciate in the least, much like Sylvester Stallone in Creed).

So let’s hope for best.

In the meantime, here are still a few things we’re looking forward to (besides a Rizzoli and Isles reunion special):

One is the release of my newest book for adult readers, The Boy is Back, which will be out in the US on October 18, and available in the UK/NZ/AU November 17. (Check your local publisher for more publication dates!)

Boy-Is-Back

This is a brand new stand alone adult novel told ENTIRELY in texts, emails, journal entries, and even Amazon reviews (one character loves cats so much that she not only feeds all the strays in her neighborhood, she buys and sells ceramic cat figurines on Amazon. She would not find it ALL odd that we’ve currently spread blankets and towels all over our floors so the cat can walk more easily: hardwoods are slippery when you’re a cat that has had a stroke).

A scandal brings professional golfer Reed back home to the small town, challenging family, and first love he once left behind. Now Becky and Reed–and possibly the entire town of Bloomville–will never be the same, all because: The Boy is Back!

 (Here is where I tried to find the photo I took of all the ARCs I received of this book, but I can’t find it. So just imagine it, and click here to enter a contest to win one.)

This book is as much about the enduring bond of families as it is about second chances at love. (<– Says my editor!)

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Enduring bond of families

Check out what some readers have already said about The Boy is Back on Goodreads!

If you want an autographed copy of The Boy Is Back you can get one by ordering it from Schuler Books! (You should really do this because it took me FOUR DAYS to sign these! Don’t make me have done it for nothing!)

Orders received by 10/9 will ship on 10/18!

OR you can visit me on one of the stops I’ll be making during my Boy is Back book tour in October. I’ll be making stops in Indiana, Florida, Michigan, and Oklahoma. Check out my tour page for exact dates and locations, which I’ll be posting soon now when I get them (I swear I have them here somewhere)!

What else is going on? A LOT.

There are new re-issues of The Princess Diaries in France, leading up to the release of Royal Wedding (and a secret surprise) in December!9782011713506fs

And From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess has just come out in Brazil!

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And don’t even get me started about how amazing the Brazilian cover of Remembrance (Mediator 7) is:

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There are a LOT of other things going on, but I want to keep them hush-hush for now. We’re trying to take things one step at a time. Otherwise we might get ahead of ourselves and fall into the water bowl.

It is enough to know that we can still find our comfy cat bed at the end of the day . . . even if our mom does accidentally keep leaving it next to the oven.

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Hoping your fall is filled with delicious discoveries and plenty of naps.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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2. September 11, 2001

This year is the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93.

It might seem impossible to believe, but this year’s incoming high school freshmen weren’t even born in 2001! So they might not be aware of some of the events that happened on that day.

That’s why I continue to post the essay below about my experience living in Manhattan a few dozen blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11.  I think it’s important we don’t allow the brave acts that so many men and women performed that day to be forgotten.

So if you have a few extra minutes in your day, please read on. And if you think what you read was important, please share it with a friend. There’s tragedy in the personal story I’ve written below, but there’s also plenty of inspirational heroism, too, I promise, starting with this, the boat lift on 9/11 that helped rescue some of my husband’s co-workers:

Meg’s 9/11 Diary

9/11/01 started out as one of those super nice fall days where the sky was cloudlessly blue and it was just warm enough, but not hot. My LA friends call that “earthquake weather.”

So we probably should have known something awful was going to happen, but most of us didn’t.

My husband had woken up early to go jogging before leaving for work at his job as a financial writer at One Liberty Plaza, which was across the street from the World Trade Center.

He has never been jogging again.

Not being a morning person, I was still asleep in my apartment on 12th Street and 4th Avenue, a few dozen blocks from the Trade Center, when the first plane hit. Our windows were closed and the air conditioning was on. I didn’t hear a thing until my friend Jen called.

Jen: “Look out your window.”

That is when I saw the smoke for the first time.

Me: “What’s happening?”

Jen: “They’re saying a plane hit the Trade Center.”

Me: “But how could the pilot not see it?”

Jen: “I don’t know. Isn’t that near where your husband works?”

It was. I couldn’t see his building from our apartment, but I could see the World Trade Center. The black smoke billowing from it had to be going right into my husband’s busy investment office on the 60th or so floor.

“I better call him to see if he’s okay,” I said, and hung up to do so.

There was no answer at my husband’s office, however, which was crazy, because over a hundred people worked there.

Were they all right? I didn’t know. I couldn’t get through to anyone anywhere. I couldn’t make any outgoing calls from either of my phones that day. For some reason, people could call me, but I couldn’t call anyone else.

It turned out this was due to the massive volume of calls going on in my part of the city that day, both on cell and land lines.

But I didn’t know that then.

Sirens started up. It was the engine from the firehouse directly across the street from my apartment building. It was a very small firehouse, but it was always bustling with activity. All the young, handsome guys used to sit outside it on folding chairs on nice days like the one on 9/11, joshing with the neighbors who were walking their dogs, with my doormen, with the neighborhood kids. The old ladies on my street always brought them cookies.The firemen, in turn, always had treats for the old ladies’ dogs.

Now all the firemen from the station across from my apartment building were hurrying to the fire downtown, throwing on their gear and urgently blaring the horn on their truck.

Every last one of those young, brave boys would be dead in exactly one hour. Their truck would be crushed beyond recognition. That firehouse would sit empty and draped in black bunting for months. No one would be able to look at it without crying.

Of course none of us knew it then.

I turned on New York 1, the local news channel for New York City. Pat Kiernan, my favorite newscaster, was saying that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

Weird, I thought. Was the pilot drunk? How could someone not see a building that big, and run into it with a plane?

It was right then that Luz, my housekeeper, showed up. I’d forgotten it was Tuesday, the day she comes to clean. When she saw what I was watching, she looked worried.

“I just dropped my son off at his college,” she said. “It’s right next to the World Trade Center.”

“My husband works across the street from the World Trade Center,” I said.

“Is he all right?” Luz wanted to know. “What’s happening down there?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I can’t reach him.”

Luz tried to call her son on his cell phone. She, too, could not get through.

We didn’t know then that our cell servers used towers that were located on top of the World Trade Center, and they all had stopped working due to the intensity of the flames shooting up the building.

We both stood there staring at the TV, not really knowing what to do. It was as we were watching that something weird happened on the TV, right before our eyes:

The OTHER tower at the World Trade Center — the one that hadn’t been hit — suddenly exploded.

I thought maybe one of the helicopters that was filming the disaster had gotten too close.

But Luz said, “No. A plane hit it. I saw it. That was a plane.”

I hadn’t seen a plane. I said, “No. How could that be? There can’t be TWO drunk pilots.”

“You don’t understand,” Luz said. “They’re doing this on purpose.”

“No,” I said. “Of course they aren’t. Who would do that?”

That’s when Pat Kiernan, on the TV, said, “Oh, my God.”

It’s weird to hear a newscaster say, “Oh, my God.” Especially Pat. He is always very professional.

Also, Pat’s voice cracked when he said it. Like he was about to cry.

But newscasters don’t cry.

“Another plane has hit the World Trade Center,” Pat said. “It looks as if another plane — a commercial jet — has hit the World Trade Center. And we are getting reports that a plane has just hit the Pentagon.”

That’s when I grabbed Luz. And Luz grabbed me. We both started to cry. We sat on the couch in my living room, hugging each other, and crying as we watched what was happening on TV, which was what was happening a dozen blocks from where we sat, where both the people we loved were.

We could see things flying out of the burning buildings. Pat said that those things were people. People were choosing to jump from their offices in the World Trade Center rather than burn to death. They couldn’t escape the flames, and rescuers couldn’t reach them.

But their offices were sixty to ninety floors from the ground. Some of them were holding hands with their colleagues as they jumped. Many of them were women. You could tell by the way their skirts ballooned out behind them as they raced towards the pavement below.

Luz and I sobbed. We didn’t want to watch, but we couldn’t stop. This was happening in our city, just down the street, to people we saw every day. Who would do this? Who would do something like this to New Yorkers?

That’s when my phone rang. I grabbed it, but it wasn’t my husband. It was his mother. Where was he? she wanted to know. Was he all right?

I said I didn’t know. I said I was trying to keep the line clear, in case he called. She said she understood but to call her as soon as I heard anything, and hung up.

Then the phone rang again. It was my husband’s sister-in-law. Then it rang again. It was MY mother.

The phone rang all morning. It was never my husband. It was always family or friends, wondering if he was all right.

“I don’t know,” I kept telling them. “I don’t know.”

Luz went up to the roof of my building to see if she could see anything more from there than what they were showing on New York 1. While she was gone, I went into my bedroom to get dressed (I was still wearing my pajamas).

All I could think, as I looked into my closet, trying to figure out what to wear, was that my husband was probably dead. I didn’t see how anybody could be down in that part of Manhattan and still be alive. All I could see were things falling —and people jumping — out of those buildings. Anyone on the streets down below would have to be killed by all of that. The jumping people couldn’t choose where they landed.

I remember exactly what I put on that day: olive green capris and a black T-shirt, with my black Steve Madden slides. I remember thinking, “This will be my Identifying My Dead Husband’s Body outfit. I will never, ever wear it again after this day.”

I knew this because when I worked at the dorm at NYU, we had quite a few students kill themselves, in various ways. Every time a body was discovered, it was so horrible. All the first responders involved in the discovery could never wear the same clothes we wore that day again, because of the memory.

Luz came back down from the roof, very excited. No, she hadn’t seen if the buildings in which my husband and her son were in were all right. But she’d seen thousands — THOUSANDS — of people coming down 4th Avenue, the busy street I lived on at the time. 4th Avenue is always heavily trafficked with honking cars, buses, taxis, bike messengers, and scooters.

Not today. Today all the cars and buses were gone, and the entire avenue was crowded with people.

“Walking,” Luz said. “They’re WALKING DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET.”

I ran to look out the window. Luz was right. Instead of the constant stream of cars I’d gotten used to seeing outside our living room window, I saw wall to wall people. They had taken over the street. They were coming from the Battery, where the Trade Center is located, shoulder to shoulder, ten deep in the middle of the road, like a parade or a rally. There were tens of thousands of them.

There were men in business suits, and some in khakis. There were women in skirts and dresses, walking barefoot or in shredded pantyhose, holding their shoes because their high heels hurt too much and they hadn’t had time to grab their commuter running shoes. I saw the ladies who worked in the manicure shop across the street from my building running outside with the flip flops they put on their customers’ feet when they’ve had a pedicure (the flip flops the staff always make sure they get back before you leave).

But today, the staff was giving the flip flops to the women who were barefoot. They were giving away the flip flops.

That’s when I got REALLY freaked out.

The manicurists weren’t the only ones trying to help. The men who worked in the deli on the corner were running outside with bottles of water to give to the hot, thirsty marchers. New York City deli owners, GIVING water away. Usually they charged $2.

It was like the world had turned upside down.

“They have to be in there,” Luz said, about her son and my husband, pointing to the crowd. “They’re walking with them, and that’s what’s taking them so long to get here.”

“I hope you’re right,” I said. But I wasn’t sure I shared her faith.

Then Luz ran downstairs to see if anyone in the crowd was coming from the same college her son went to, to ask if anyone might have seen him.

I was afraid to leave my apartment, though, because I thought my husband might try to call. Not knowing what else to do, I logged onto the computer. My email was still working, even if the phones weren’t. I emailed my husband: WHERE ARE YOU?

No reply.

A friend from Indiana had emailed to ask if there was anything she could do. At the time, the only thing I could think of was, Give blood.

My friend, and everyone she knew, gave blood that day. So many people gave blood that there were lines around the corner to give it.

After a month, a lot of that surplus blood had to be destroyed, because they didn’t have room to store it all. And there turned out to be no use for it, anyway. There were few survivors to give blood to.

My friend Jen, the one who’d woken me up, e’d me from her job at NYU. Fred (out of respect for their desire for anonymity, I have changed the names of some people in this piece), then one of Jen’s employees, and also a volunteer EMT, had jumped on his bike and headed downtown to see if there was anything he could do to help.

Jen herself was organizing a massive effort to set up shelter for students who didn’t live on campus, since the subways and commuter trains had stopped running, and the kids who commuted to school had no way of getting home that night. Jen was trying to arrange for cots to be set up in the gym for them.

She ended up staying in the city too that night. She had no way to get back to her house in Connecticut.

Another co-worker from NYU, my friend Jack, did manage to reach his spouse, who worked in the Trade Center, that day. Jack used to train the RAs. He would ask me to “interrupt” his training with a fake administrative temper tantrum — “Why are you in this room?” I would demand. “You never reserved it!”— and then he and I would “fight” about it, and then after I left Jack would ask the RAs what would have been a better way to handle the situation . . . and by the way, did any of them remember what I was wearing? After they’d tell him, he’d have me come back into the room, and point out that every single of them was wrong about what I’d had on. This was to show how unreliable witness testimony can be.

Jack’s wife had just walked eighty floors down one of the Towers to reach the ground safely since the elevators weren’t working due to the flames, only to realize the guys in her IT department were still up there, backing up data for the company. Once she reached the ground, and saw how bad things really were, she tried calling them to tell them to forget backing up and just COME DOWN, but of course she couldn’t get hold of them because no phones were working.

So she went back up to MAKE THEM come down, because who doesn’t love their IT guys?

“Why did you go back up?” Jack asked her, when he finally reached her. By that time she, along with the IT guys, had become trapped in the fire and smoke, and couldn’t make their way down again.

“It seemed like the right thing to do,” she said.

Of course it did. She was married to Jack. Jack would have done the same thing. She told Jack to say good bye to their twins toddlers for her. That was the last time they spoke.

I can never think of this, or of Jack’s happy, cheerful greeting every time I saw him, or the stunned looks on the RAs faces when they realized we’d pulled one over on them, without wanting to cry. It seems so unfair that those twins have had to grow up not knowing their mother. And for what reason?

Another friend, a pilot who had access to air traffic control radar, e’d me to say all the planes in the U.S. were being grounded — that what had happened had been the result of highjackings. That it was a commercial jet that had hit the Pentagon, where my friend’s father-in-law worked (they eventually found him, safe and sound. He’d been stuck in traffic on his way to the Pentagon when the plane hit. Many people that day were rewarded for tardiness).

But another friend – a girl I’d worked with when I’d been a receptionist in my husband’s office, a girl whom I’d helped pick out a wedding dress, and who, since the big day, had quit her job to raise the four kids she’d had – wasn’t so lucky. She never saw her husband, who worked at the Trade Center, again.

Then, behind me, I heard Pat Kiernan on the TV say, “Oh, my God,” again.

And this time he really WAS crying. Because one of the towers was collapsing.

I watched, not believing my eyes. Since having moved to New York City in 1989, I had become accustomed to using the Twin Towers as my own personal compass point for the direction “South,” since they’re on the southern tip of the island, and visible from dozens of blocks away. Wherever you were in the maze of streets that made up the Village, all you had to do to orient yourself was find the Twin Towers, and you knew which direction to go.

(If you ever watched closely during the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” you can see the towers beneath the Washington Square arch in the scene where Sally drops Harry off when they first arrive in New York.)

And now one of those towers was coming down.

I don’t remember anything else about that moment except that, as I watched the TV in horror, the front door to my apartment opened, and, assuming it was Luz back from the street, I turned to tell her, “It’s falling down! It’s FALLING DOWN!”

Only it wasn’t Luz. It was my husband.

He said, “What’s falling down? Why are you crying?”

Because HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON.

Because my husband, being my husband, had picked up his briefcase after the first plane hit and said, “Let’s go,” to everyone in his department, took the elevators downstairs, and insisted everyone start walking for our apartment, because it was the closest place to where they were that seemed unlikely to be hit by an airplane.

(He told me later he’d worried they were going to try for the Stock Exchange, or the federal buildings you always see on Law and Order, and so had made everyone take small side streets home around those buildings, which is why it took them so long to get there).

They had to dodge the bodies of the people who jumped from the burning towers because they couldn’t stand the heat anymore. They saw the desk chairs and PCs that had been blown out of the offices so high above littering the street like tickertape from a parade. They saw the second plane hit while they were on the street, and ducked into a cell phone store until the rubble from the explosion settled. A piece of plane, nearly twenty feet long, flew past them, and landed in a parking lot, just missing Trinity Church, one of the oldest churches in this country.

And they kept walking.

I don’t know what people normally do when someone they love, who they were convinced was dead, suddenly walks through the door. All I know is how I reacted: I flung my arms around him. And then I started yelling, “WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME?”

“I tried, I couldn’t get through,” he said. “What’s falling down?”

Because they had no idea. All they knew was that the city was under attack (which they had surmised by all the airplanes).

So my husband and his colleagues gathered in our living room—hot, thirsty, but alive, the ones who lived in New Jersey wondering how (and if) they were going to get home. Eventually, that night, they managed to catch boat rides – see the film above.

Meanwhile, Luz, not wanting to go home until she’d heard from her son, who was supposed to meet her after class in my building, cleaned.

I told her not to, but she said it helped keep her mind off what was happening.

So she vacuumed, while eleven people sat in my two room apartment and watched the Twin Towers fall.

It wasn’t long after the second tower came down that our friends David and Susan from Indiana, who lived in a beautiful condo in the shadow of the Twin Towers with their two young children, showed up at our door, their kids and half the employees from their office (which was also in our neighborhood) behind them.

They had been some of the people shown on the news escaping from the massive dust cloud that erupted when the towers fell. They’d abandoned their daughter’s stroller and run for it, while shop owners tossed water on their backs as they passed by, to keep their clothes from catching on fire.

In their typical way, however, they had stopped on their way to our place to pick up some bagels.

For all they knew, their apartment was burning down, or being buried under ten feet of rubble. But they’d stopped for bagels, because they’d been worried people might be hungry. Or maybe people just do things in times like that to try to be normal. I don’t know. They didn’t forget the cream cheese, either.

I took the kids into my bedroom, where there was a second TV, because I didn’t think they should see what everyone was watching in the living room, which was footage of what they had just escaped from.

I set up my Playstation for Jake, who was seven or so at the time, to use, while Shai, just turning 4, and I did a puzzle on my floor. Both kids were worried about Mr. Fluff, their pet rabbit, whom they’d been forced to leave behind in their apartment, because there’d been no time to get him (their parents had run from work and grabbed both kids from school).

“Do you think he’s all right?” Jake wanted to know.

At the time, I didn’t see how anything south of Canal Street could be alive, but I told Jake I was sure Mr. Fluff was fine.

This was when Shai and I had the following conversation:

“Are planes going to fly into THIS building?” Shai wanted to know. She was crying as she looked out the windows of my thirteenth floor apartment.

Me: “No. No planes are going to fly into this building.”

Shai: “How do you know?”

Me: “Because all the planes are grounded. No more planes are allowed in the air.”

Shai: “Ever?”

Me: “No. Just until the bad guys who did this get caught.”

Shai: “Who’s going to catch the bad guys?”

Me: “The police will catch them.”

Shai: “No, they won’t. All the police are dead. I saw them going into the building that just fell down.”

Me (trying not to cry): “Shai. Not all the police are dead.”

Shai (crying harder): “Yes, they ARE. I SAW THEM.”

Me (showing Shai a picture from my family photo album of a policeman in his uniform): “Shai, this is my brother, Matt. He’s a policeman. And he’s not dead, I promise. And he, and other policemen like him, and probably even the Army, will catch the bad guys.”

Shai (no longer crying): “Okay.”

And she went back to her puzzle.

Watching from my living room window, we saw the crowds of people streaming out from what was soon to be called Ground Zero, thin to a trickle, then stop altogether. That was when 4th Avenue became crowded with vehicular traffic again. But not taxis or bike messengers.

Soon, our building was shaking from the wheels of hundreds of Humvees and Army trucks, as the National Guard moved in. The Village was blockaded from 14th Street down. You couldn’t come in or out of the neighborhood without showing proof that you lived there (a piece of mail with your name and address on it, along with a photo ID).

The next day, after having spent the night on our fold-out couch in the living room, Shai’s parents snuck back to their apartment (they had to sneak, because the National Guard wasn’t letting anyone at all, even with proof that they lived there, into the area. For weeks afterwards, on every corner from 14th Street down, stood a National Guardsman, armed with an assault rifle. For days, you couldn’t get milk, bread, or a newspaper below Union Square because they weren’t allowing any delivery trucks — or any vehicles at all, except Army vehicles — into the area), and found Mr. Fluff alive and well.

They snuck him back out, so that later that day, we were able to put the entire family on a bus to the Hamptons, where they lived for the rest of the year.

As my husband and I were walking back to our apartment from the bus stop where we’d seen off our friends, we saw a familiar face standing on the corner of 4th Avenue and 12th Street, where we lived:

Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton, asking people in our neighborhood if we were all right, and if there was anything they could do to help.

I didn’t go up to shake the ex-President’s hand, because I was too shy.

But I stood there watching him and Chelsea, and something about seeing them, so genuinely concerned and kind (and not there for press or publicity, because there WAS no press, there was never any mention of their visit AT ALL in any newspaper or on any news broadcast I saw that day), made me burst into tears, after having held them in the whole time Shai had been in my apartment, since I didn’t want to upset her.

But you couldn’t NOT cry. It was impossible. Everyone was doing it …so much so that the deli across the street put a sign in its window: “No Crying, Please.” Our doormen were crying. Even Rudy Giuliani, New York City’s mayor (whom I will admit up until this crisis I had not particularly liked for cheating on his very nice wife, Donna Hanover, who used to be on the Food Network), kept crying.

But he also kept showing up on New York 1, no matter what time you turned it on, even at two in the morning, there he was, like he never slept, always crying but also telling us It’s going to be all right, which was BRILLIANT.

The same day we put Shai and her family on a bus to the Hamptons, September 12 — which also happened to be poor Shai’s birthday — companies (even RIVAL companies) all over Manhattan offered up their conference rooms and spare offices to all the businesses in the Trade Center and One Liberty Plaza that had lost theirs, including my husband’s company, so that they would be able to remain solvent, another act of kindness that never gets mentioned anywhere, but should.

Since he was the only person in the company who lived downtown, my husband was elected for the duty of removing all the sensitive data from their now mostly destroyed office, which meant he had to pass through the Brooks Brothers in his building’s foyer, from which he had bought so many of his business shirts and ties. The Brooks Brothers at One Liberty Plaza was now serving as Ground Zero’s morgue.

While under escort of the National Guard, he and guardsmen–the first to enter his floor since the event–found a body in an emergency stairwell. It was determined to be the body of someone from another office, who had probably suffered a heart attack while trying to evacuate One Liberty. The body was removed and taken to the morgue while my husband watched. (He threw away the clothes he wore that day.)

For the next week in Lower Manhattan, even if you wanted to forget, for a minute, what had happened on that cloudless Tuesday morning, you couldn’t. The front window of my apartment building filled with Missing Person posters of loved ones that had been lost in the Trade Center. The outside walls of St. Vincent’s Hospital were papered with them as well, and Union Square, at 14th Street, became an impromptu memorial to the dead, filled with candles and flowers. So did the front doors of every local fire station, including the one across the street from my building. The old ladies who used to bring cookies there stood in front of it and cried.

You couldn’t go outside during that week — until it finally rained Friday night, four days later – without smelling the acrid smoke from Ground Zero … and, in fact, you were encouraged to wear surgical masks outdoors. An eerie grey fog covered everything. Some of us tried to brave it by not wearing masks — like Londoners during the Blitz — meeting for lunch like nothing had happened, but the smoke made your eyes burn. I have no idea how the rescue workers at Ground Zero could bear it, and I’m not surprised so many of them now have respiratory diseases and cancer. I have no doubt that for some, the horrors of 9/11 will continue to be felt years from now.

It wasn’t until employees from a barbecue restaurant drove all the way to Manhattan from Memphis, and stationed their tanker-sized smokers right next to Ground Zero, and then started giving away free barbecue to all the rescue workers there for weeks on end, that the smell changed to something other than death. Everyone loved those guys. It was just barbecue.

Except it wasn’t just barbecue. It was a sign that, as the mayor kept assuring us, things were going to be all right.

But of course, for a lot of New Yorkers that day, things were never going to be all right again. While I was celebrating the fact that my husband had come home, Fred – Jen’s employee, the volunteer EMT who had ridden his bike downtown to see if there was anything he could do – couldn’t find his crew. This was before the buildings fell, before anyone had any idea those buildings COULD fall, when the police and firemen were still streaming into them, confident they could get people out.

The crew that Fred normally volunteered with were inside one of those buildings, helping people down the stairs. Fred couldn’t find them, because all the cell towers were down, and communication was so sketchy. Someone told Fred to drive a bus they’d found, to help evacuate people out of the World Trade Center area.

Fred didn’t want to be outside driving a bus. He wanted to be inside with his crew, saving people.

But since he couldn’t find his crew, he agreed to drive the bus.

Then the buildings came down. Later, Fred found out that the crew he normally volunteered with had been one of the many rescue squads buried under the rubble.

Like a lot of the rescue workers who lost coworkers in the attack, Fred seemed to feel guilty about having survived, while his friends had not. Even when all his NYU co-workers pitched in and bought him a new bike (after his old one got buried beneath rubble at Ground Zero), Fred couldn’t seem to shake his sadness. It was like he didn’t believe he’d done any good that day.

“All I did,” he said, “was drive a stupid bus.”

But that’s not all he did. Because remember Luz’s son?

Well, he showed up at my apartment not long after Jake and Shai and their parents did. Luz grabbed him and kissed him and shook him and cried, and when she finally let go of him, he told his story:

He had been heading towards — not away from – the towers, because he’d wanted to help, he said. A lot like Fred.

But suddenly, from out of nowhere, someone grabbed him from behind, and threw him onto a stupid bus.

“But I want to stay and help!” Luz’s son yelled at the guy who’d grabbed him.

“Not today,” Fred said.

And he drove Luz’s son, and all the other students from that community college to safety, just before the towers fell.

Fifteen years has passed since 9/11. A year or two after finding that body, and the company he worked for got back on its feet, my husband decided financial writing wasn’t for him. He decided to follow a lifelong dream: he enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. He got to work with chefs like Jacques Pepin. At his graduation, Michael Lamonaco–who ran Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of the Twin Towers. Michael is another person who happened to be late to work on 9/11–offered my husband a job in his new restaurant.

My husband declined, however, because we were moving to Key West, where the pace of life is a little bit slower. Michael said he completely understood.

Luz and her family are doing fine. Fred is now married with two children, and head of his own division at NYU. Mr. Fluff did eventually die, but of natural causes. Jake is enrolled in law school, and Shai is now attending a college she loves. Shai’s mother says her daughter has no memory whatsoever of that day, or of the conversation she and I had, or of the promise I made her — that we’d catch the bad guys.

Shai, however, says she does remember our conversation, and that I was right: we did catch the bad guys.

Of course, now there are some new bad guys out there.

But the important thing is that we never forget . . . and that we all remember: we’re all in this together.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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3. Happy Summer Reading

Happy Official Start of Summer (in the US, at least) and welcome back to the blog!

What are your goals for the summer? (If it’s summer where you are.)

Mine are to finish writing and illustrating the THIRD Princess Olivia of Genovia book (yes, I know the second book just came out last month, but that’s how publishing works – as soon as one book comes out, it’s time to hand in the next one!) and then to finish the pass pages for The Boy is Back, the manuscript I just handed in, which will be out in October.

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From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, Books 1 and 2, in stores now!

These goals are not so lofty. I feel as if they’re completely attainable. Not like past summer goals I’ve had, such as passing the Florida driver’s exam (written), or getting a dog, at which I failed miserably. I have faith that everything is going to work out this summer.

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Not my dog. Keeping it this way.

In the meantime, I had a great time on my Princess Tour! Thanks to all of you who came out to see me. I met a ton of fun new people, especially at Book Con, where I got to hang out with celebrities like the Property Brothers.

OK, lie, I never met the Property Brothers, but a lady popped her head into the Green Room and asked, frantically, “Are the Property Brothers in here? I can’t find them!”

“OMG,” I screamed. “YOU LOST THE PROPERTY BROTHERS?”

“I didn’t say that!” she cried, and ran out again.

HA HA HAHA!!!

But I DID get to hang out with a lot of fun readers and authors:image001

YA readers in Irving, TX!

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Marissa Meyer at BookCon!

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In the Escalade with Harper’s Pam Jaffee!

And more!

But ultimately I was happy to come home because as I think I’ve mentioned, the cat has feline dementia (50% of cats over the age of 10 do), so I have to keep an eye on her. There’s no telling what she’s going to get up to at any given time. Mostly it’s sleeping but it could be:

 

  • Meowing at her own reflection in the mirror.
  • Fighting with Carlos the iguana.
  • Sleeping on anything that remains still long enough for her to sit on, including tourists.

 

Mainly what I wanted to mention in today’s post is that a lot of you asked on tour what I’ll be working on next after the Princess Olivia books and the Boy is Back are turned in, and the truth is, I’m not allowed to tell.

FOR REAL. It’s a secret.

So instead, I’m going to tell you about the books I would put on a summer reading list for kids if I was in charge of designing one (and also if I had time to read anymore, which I do not, given my busy Netflix viewing schedule  busy writing schedule).

Anyway, a friend of mine told me what was on her kids’ summer reading list, and it was APPALLING, so I volunteered to make a new one for her.

She tried to say, “Uh, no thanks, Meg, you don’t have to,” and “That’s not how it works,” but I’m pleased to sacrifice my time for this cause. I do understand that a lot of careful scientific research goes into what kids are assigned to read over the summer, and also that parents complain a lot about what the kids get assigned to read (and the students do, too).

However, I really think my summer reading list is the best since I modeled it after the kinds of books I would have wanted to read if I were a kid who’d just seen Star Wars: Force Awakens, and then wanted to read some books that were in that vein (you know, adventure-y, or at least fun).

So here it is:

Princes and Princesses:

Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series

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This was my all time favorite series as a kid, particularly the books that included Princess Eilonwy, a kick-ass teen sorceress who was always showing up on the adventures that the hero, Taran, had warned her were “too dangerous” for her to take part in. Ha ha, that did not turn out well (for Taran).

Neither did the not-so-good Disney movie—The Black Cauldron—that was based on the series and released in 1985. They’re trying again, though, and this time around, they might actually get it right.

 

Shannon Hale’s Princess in Black (for younger readers) and Book of a Thousand Days (for older readers).

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These would be much better books to assign for summer reading than Of Mice and Men. Everyone already knows that people can be cruel and that unfair things happen, because they’ve seen Force Awakens. So let’s just read about the bravery of young royals instead, and forget about those damned rabbits.

Sarah Mlynowski’s Whatever After series

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When a modern brother and sister find a magic mirror in their basement, it takes them on amazing adventures, and they end up improving the lives of characters in fairy tales in hilarious ways, helping Cinderella get a paying job, etc. While of course these books could lead naive kids (like I was) to constantly be looking for magic mirrors in basement, dreaming big is actually good thing. Look what happens to Rey!

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Going along with the sibling theme, let’s throw in  Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth.

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Only in this book instead of finding a magic mirror, Jarrett finds himself with a foster brother he doesn’t like, Kevon. If you’ve seen Force Awakens, you already know what happens when family members disagree (KIDDING), but this is the child friendly version, with crushes and farting instead of murder.  Anyone who’s ever had to live with a sibling (or a troublesome roommate at camp) can relate to this book, which is why it makes a perfect summer read that Booklist calls just plain “excellent.” Every kid will love you for putting this on their required reading list.

Blubber by Judy Blume

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This was my all time favorite book as a child because I could relate to the casual cruelty of the kids it depicted (in a much more realistic fashion than the kids in Lord of the Flies).

Whatever standardized test they give to 4th graders should be abandoned so that teachers have time to read this book out loud to them instead. Because Blubber will prepare them much more for whatever lies ahead. And yes, you know I’m talking about middle school and of course dating after college.

Unfriended by Rachel Vail

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I don’t have kids (for which many are grateful) but I do have a lot of nieces and nephews, and all I can say is that many of them seem to experience a lot of social media drama.  So this is a good book to give to any kid you know who might be having the same. And though Rachel is a friend of mine, I can say with total impartiality that because she actually has kids, she has a good grasp on this subject.

 

Do you know a reader who just wants to read about normal life? How about Alice McKinley?

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These books (over twenty in all!) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor follow a young girl named Alice who lives with her dad and annoying (at least sometimes) brother. These books describe the daily ups and downs of Alice and her friends from their pre-teens all the way to college. I got hooked on them in my thirties, and read them all. Look out, or it could happen to you (or a reader you know), too.

 

Disaster/Adventure

 

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Do the young readers in your life like disasters? What about survival stories? What about plagues? YES PLEASE. This is why The Living  and The Hunted by Matt de La Pena need to be on your summer reading list, because there’s nothing more fun that reading about a world in peril while you’re sitting in the sun on the beach. And Matt does disaster (and survival) like a pro.

 

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

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I’ve never read this book, but I know a lot of young people who have, and they tend to give it raves. It’s the story of a sad young man who gets stuck in the woods and survives thanks to his lightcaber–what? Oh, sorry–hatchet.

Hey, if you get stuck in the woods and your kid gets you out of there thanks to his hatchet, you will owe me a martini for recommending this book.

 

Historicals

If your reader prefers historicals, I recommend Kathleen Baldwin’s Stranje House series.

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It’s a spy school for girls, but in the 1810s! A little something for everyone…danger, intrigue, history, hot guys, romance, fancy clothes, Napoleon, horses, and humor. Kathleen has got you covered.

 

If the younger reader you know is more into historical with bad guys but no kissing, then the Newberry award-winning Al Capone series by Gennifer Choldenko might be just the ticket.

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A young boy and his sister move with their parents to Alcatraz in the 1930s (the dad is working at Alcatraz, not imprisoned there. Duh, that would be creepy). Drama and hilarity ensues.

 

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

It’s rare for me to read sic-fantasy these days because I read so much of it as a kid that I burned out on it almost entirely and now can only read books about serial killers, but these authors are so good, they have revived my love for it:

 

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You can’t go wrong with Tamora Pierce.  She is the original gangster when it comes to fantasy fiction, and she’s got something for readers of every age. If you haven’t tried Tamora, you’re in for a treat.

 

Cindy Pon

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Cindy’s writing is lyrical and breathtakingly entertaining at the same time. Plus, she makes drawing look so easy. Sometimes I look at Cindy’s website and get mad at myself for being so lazy.

Malinda Lo

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All of Malinda Lo’s books are good but Huntress in particular drew me in. (Full disclosure: I know Malinda and like her – and her writing– a lot so it’s hard for me to be impartial about her…and her great books!) I loved Adaptation and its creepy sci-fi sequel, Inheritance, as well.

 

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OK I haven’t read all of Ellen’s Prophecy series yet, but I have it on good authority that it’s great, so get on it.

And finally, for your more mature readers who are sneak reading the sex scenes in your books behind your back:

Ursula K Le Guin

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I honestly can’t remember which specific books by Ursula K Le Guin I loved. I’m pretty sure it was all of them. But I also remember thinking Le Guin’s books were quite racy (in a good way) back when I was 13, so these are good books for readers who are ready for something more adult, but not, say, more ADULT.

 

The Dragon Riders of Pern series by Anne Mccaffrey

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A very kind lady gave me the Harper Hall series when I was 13 and sick in bed with raging poisoned oak (on my FACE) and it definitely distracted me from scratching. A teen girl on a far away planet feels like an outcast and runs away from her cruel parents only to find nine rare baby “fire lizards” that imprint on her and follow her around everywhere (including music school–it’s a long story, but it’s like the Jedi Academy for musicians).

This series (and then the more adult Dragon Riders of Pern) might be a bit dated but will definitely resonate with anyone who might have felt like an outcast too from time to time.

 

Well, I know I’ve left off a ton of great books, but that’s only because I’ve run out of time and have to get to work on my own books  or I won’t achieve my summer goals.

Have an excellent summer break (if I don’t talk to you before it ends, although I suspect I will) and remember:

 

Be safe! (Use sunscreen! Stay away from poison oak!)

Be happy! (Read books!)

But most of all

Be yourself!
More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

 

The post Happy Summer Reading appeared first on Meg Cabot.

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4. Back to Genovia!

Greetings! Royal Wedding Disaster, the second book in my new series for middle grade readers, is almost here, and I’m SO EXCITED about it.

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And it’s not just because once again, I wrote and illustrated it myself, or because Book #1 is going to be out in paperback at the same time (May 10). No, there’s more.

Much more.

But first I have to fill you in on everything else that’s been going on, in chronological order (I know this would be much easier if I just posted more often, but I’m much too lazy busy for that):

OK so I had such an amazing time visiting with so many of you at my signings last month in SoFlo (including hanging out with tons of fun authors who like to drink wine as much as I do  such as Debbie Macomber and Meg Medina, with whom I plotted about how we’re going to switch name tags at future events. No one will figure it out!).

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And then I got back and a lot people were talking about how they are making a Princess Diaries 3 movie (maybe).

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While I agree this would be amazing (although I have not given up my dream of a Princess Diaries musical. COME ON PEOPLE, THEY DID IT FOR LEGALLY BLONDE), we need to give Anne Hathaway time off to enjoy being a new mom, and of course think of an amazing subplot for Heather Matarazzo (which shouldn’t be hard since she’s awesome).

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But just because we don’t have a movie right now doesn’t mean we can’t take a trip to Genovia (I don’t mean literally, though of course Genovian tourist agents are always standing by to take your reservations).

 

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I’ve got TWO new stories set in Genovia coming out in less than a month!

So we can go there in our minds.

In From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess #1-1/2: ROYAL DAY OUT, Grandmére and Olivia take the royal limo to downtown Genovia in search of a gift suitable enough for a certain bride-to-be. Will they be successful? Find out in:

 

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This free e-short will be available online everywhere on May 10, 2016!

Yes! You read that correctly! This 30 page novella (set between Books 1 and 2 of the Princess Olivia series) is ABSOLUTELY FREE.

BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE.

As her sister Mia’s wedding day gets closer and closer, a LOT of things seem to be going wrong. Can Olivia keep her sister Mia’s royal wedding from becoming a royal disaster? (Plus do well at the Royal Genovian Academy AND handle Genovian means girls, her first prince(s) and being visited by her best friend?)

Find out in From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess #2: ROYAL WEDDING DISASTER

 

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This full-length illustrated novel for readers 6 and up will be available as an e-book and in print in the US and Canada on May 10, 2016!

BUT WAIT THERE IS EVEN MORE!

ALSO on May 10, 2016, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, Book #1 will be available for the first time ever in paperback!

 

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Oh my God, I am super tired now. Also it would be nice if every time I wrote Genovian, my computer wouldn’t change it to Genevan. HELLO. Stop.

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So, also I will be on my Royal Wedding Disaster Day Tour, speaking and signing copies of ALL of the books! (Well, not Royal Day Out. I don’t know how you sign copies of an e-book.  I guess I could sign people’s e-readers and phones. In fact I will be HAPPY to).

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If you’re interested in dropping by to hear me read from any of these books or tell amusing anecdotes about the vagaries of my life, here’s where I’ll be (barring unforeseen circumstances) starting as soon as NEXT WEEK (OMG NEXT WEEK??? FOR REAL??? I need to go shopping):

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20

Twitter, The Internet

Meg will be chatting with @PWKidsBookshelf

Time: 3:00 PM EST

Use the hashtag #PWChat and stop by to ask me stuff. I’m sure I’ll have learned to use Twitter properly by then.

 

TUESDAY, MAY 10

New York, NY – 92nd Street Y

Lexington Avenue at 92nd St

Venue: Warburg Lounge

Time: 7:00 PM

Price: from $22.00

Ticket does not include book; B&N will be selling books

https://www.92y.org/Event/YA-Lit-Meg-Cabot

 

THURSDAY, MAY 12

Wellesley, MA – Wellesley Books

82 Central Street

Wellesley, MA 02482

(781) 431-1160

Time: 7:00PM

http://store.wellesleybooks.com/event/meg-cabot

 

FRIDAY, MAY 13

Chicago, IL – Book Expo America

McCormick Place

Ticketed signing

Time: 2PM-3PM

http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/en/Sessions/26485/Ticketed-Autographing-Session-with-Meg-Cabot

 

 

FRIDAY, MAY 13

Arlington Heights, IL – Tuscan Market

141 W. Wing St

Arlington Heights, IL 60005

847-392-9700

Time: 6:15PM

Price: $30/person, includes two books

(one new release + choice of ROYAL WEDDING, FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS, or REMEMBRANCE), wine or sparkling juice, hors d’oeuvres

Q&A, personalized signing, photo booth, guests in costume will be entered in a raffle

Portion of proceeds go to Metropolis Performing Arts Center

https://www.facebook.com/events/1576119669378859/

 

 

SATURDAY, MAY 14

Chicago, IL – BookCon

West Building at McCormick Place

BookCon Panel, time TBA

Speaking with Sherman Alexie (THUNDER BOY JR.) & Kate DiCamillo (RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE), Signing to follow

“Guest Bookseller” at Macmillan booth, time TBA

http://www.thebookcon.com/Events/

 

 

SUNDAY, MAY 15

Irving, TX – Irving County Library

South Irving Library Meeting Room #1

601 Schulze Dr.

Irving, TX 75060

972-721-2606

Time: 3PM-6PM

Price: free, books will be available for purchase

http://cityofirving.org/Calendar.aspx?EID=3843&month=5&year=2016&day=7&calType=0

 

Phew!

OK so any mistakes above are mine and I sincerely apologize. I have been a haze since trying to get my latest adult book in by its deadline of April 1, which also happened to be my 23rd wedding anniversary!

Obviously I did not succeed (as if)! I missed it by several days, on which I blame the cat, who is quite elderly now and meows at nothing (all cats do this but this cat does it more than others, and at top volume, so I have to go see if she’s in mortal peril).

But she is not. It turns out she has dementia (for real – this was diagnosed by the vet).

But please do not worry about her. She’s fine, as you can see by the photographic evidence:

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Sometimes, however, she gets lost (inside the house) and then we have to go find her and turn her around so she’s facing the right direction.

I wish I were joking.

But I did have an excellent anniversary, as you can see by this very shaky photo (shaky because I was shaking with joy over the fact that HWSNBNITB got me 2 dozen roses, one rose to represent each year of marriage with one to grow on, and then also made me his delicious and infamous gluten-free lemon pudding cake).

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But once the cake was gone celebrating was over, I did get the book turned in, and am now happy to announce that I have a new book for adults coming out in October called The Boy is Back.

Although it’s listed as part of a series, it’s actually a stand alone novel (with all new characters in a brand new setting), but told in epistolary format, like my previous books The Boy Next Door and Boy Meets Girl (updated for modern readers, so it features emails, diary entries, text messages, and even some unfortunate – for the characters – gossip columns).

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That’s all I can say about it for now – you’ll find out more closer to the release date!

Well, I really must go write and illustrate From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess #3 now. Poor Olivia . . . the trials that girl’s grandmother (and aunt) put her through!

But perhaps I’ll just have a little more cake first while I watch Call the Midwife. . . .hope to cyber see you at the Twitter chat on Wednesday!

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More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5. Spring Break and Book Signings!

Well, it’s March, which means a lot of different things  people.

To some, March means the beginning of spring, which means Spring Break (which of course to me will forever mean my Significant Objects short story about getting my wisdom teeth removed).

To others (okay, to He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog), March means college basketball season.

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(HWHSNBNITB wants you to know that the Indiana Hoosiers are this year’s Big 10 Men’s Champions.)

But for people in publishing, March is when “we crash a lot of books” (direct quote from my editor at HarperCollins).

Because March is when a lot of books are due, edited, come out, and book festivals (put on hold for winter) start up again.

I can attest to this because I’ve been working frantically to get the book I have due in, so I can enjoy all the book signings I have this month, AND respond to all the nice mail I’m getting about the books I have out, all while recovering from (and feeling thankful for) last month’s AMAZING book tour.

It was GREAT having a day named for me in Fort Lauderdale by the MAYOR!

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As well as meeting so many of you!

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And having a drink named after me!

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YOU ARE THE BEST!!!

So now I’m going to attempt to answer some of your many many questions before I plunge back into my attempt to make my deadline(s). I’m not sure it will work, but the important thing is that we tried, RIGHT?

 

Q: Meg, how much do tickets cost to go to your book signing this month in Fort Myers?

A: Nothing! The Southwest Florida Reading Festival is 100% FREE!

Come check it out:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fort Meyers, FL

South County Regional Library

Southwest Florida Reading Festival

Harborside Event Center & Centennial Park

1375 Monroe St,

Fort Myers, FL 33901

 

I will be doing two presentations, one at 10AM inside (check out the map when you get there. You’ll find me!) with a signing to follow,

and one on the Teen stage at 2:15 (outside), with a signing to follow.

(Sub question: What is the difference between your 2 presentations? Sub Answer: THE AUDIENCE.)

More:

They will be selling books on site, but you can also bring a limit of 3 books from home. I’m sorry, but I cannot personalize books from home, only books bought at the site. (20% of $ from sales of books bought at the festival goes to help fund more book festivals like this one, which in turns promotes literacy, so you understand why this is important!)

 

Q: Is there some way that I could have a private lunch with you and two of my friends or relatives?

A: OMG it’s so weird that you asked that because there IS!!!

On Sunday March 20 in Fort Myers, the Southwest Book Festival is auctioning off a fancy lunch with me from 11:30-1:30! The funds go to raise money for literacy! All you have to do is go here and place a bid. You also get this gorgeous tote bag filled with autographed books by me!

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(Complete Princess Diaries and Mediator series! Cat not included.)

We’re going to have so much fun!

 

Q: Aren’t you doing an event in Key West next week, too?

A: OMG I am! Thanks for mentioning it!

Monday, March 14, 2016
Key West, Florida
6:00PM
Friends of the Key West Library Lecture Series
Key West Theater
512 Eaton Street
Admission is free!!!!
Seating begins at 5:30 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis

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Hanging with Cassie and Jenna at the Key West Library!

Everyone should come to this, because I will be presenting a Power Point (YES I KNOW!!!!) that will include the FIRST EVER cover reveal for my new book, The Boy is Back, which will be out next October. What is the BOY IS BACK about?  HA HA COME TO THIS EVENT AND FIND OUT.

Q: Meg, when is Remembrance/Proposal coming out in the UK?

A: I’m happy to tell you that they’re BOTH available there now (and should be available in all UK territories, as well)! They’ll also be coming out in France, Brazil, and many other countries soon. I SWEAR.

 

Q: Meg, I don’t like e-books. Why can’t I read Proposal as a print book?

A: Lucky for you Proposal – my first ever stand alone adult novella (not in an anthology) — became available March 1 in print as well as an e-book! So if it’s not in a store near you, ask your local bookseller to order it for you.

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Q: Will there be a sequel to Remembrance?

A: I definitely have some ideas for one. I had a story line for Gina that I was forced to remove from the original draft  of Remembrance because it made the book over 600 pages long, which is too long for someone like me who only likes to read print books in the pool or bathtub. So maybe I’ll return to that story line someday.

 

Q: Will there be more Heather Wells books?

A: I would love for there to be, and I have actually started working on one, but right now I’m contracted for more princess books!!!!

 

Q: Will there be more Princess Diaries books?

A: Most definitely! Look for the return of both Princess Mia and Prince Michael in May 2016 in From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess #2, Royal Wedding Disaster.

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And after this, there’ll be more adventures of Olivia and her friends (including Mia, Nishi, Michael, Snowball, Grandmere and possibly even a prince or two).

 

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Back view of couple

Q: I can’t go to lunch on March 20, is there some other day we can hang out?

A: I would love to go to lunch EVERY DAY but I have to finish the book(s) I have due. Stay tuned to my Twitter and FB feed, and I’ll let you know when my schedule clears up!

 

Q: Are you worried about the zika virus?

A: I worry about it constantly every day.  Not for myself, because I am never going to get pregnant and also here in the US we have plenty of window screens, air conditioning, and Deep Woods Off.

But I worry about it a lot for my friends and readers in Brazil (and in Puerto Rico), and I’m closely following all the news stories about it. Just when you think things are as bad they can get, along comes something that hurts babies. You would think this would cause the media to go, “Okay, enough with THAT nonsense. Let’s concentrate on THIS so we can get it fixed.”

Let’s see if it works.

 

Q: What if I can’t be in Florida for Spring Break and won’t be able to see you?

A: No problem. I’ll be at Book Con in Chicago in May!

 

Q: What are YOU doing for Spring Break?

A: Writing books! Going to book signings!  And watching Madam Secretary, Walking Dead,  Broad City, Brooklyn 99, and about a million other shows, while also working out at StayFit here in KW – yes I have a trainer! – and trying to keep the cat from fighting every other cat within a 5 block radius.

Have an AMAZING spring, and see you soon (I hope)!!!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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6. Mediator Madness

Exciting news for all you Mediator lovers (and even those of you not familiar with the series):

There’s a book trailer for Remembrance . . . the first ever book trailer in the Mediator series!

And it’s AMAZING (even if I do say so myself):

Click here to view the embedded video.

Okay, okay, I know it’s not quite as long as some of you might have wanted . . . but I think it’s perfect! Thanks so much to Janey (whose idea it was), the team at Harper, and my awesome friend Brady!  He makes the best book trailers – he’s made all of mine! His little peek into Suze’s messy hectic life is just hilarious!

We’ve got less than a month until Remembrance is available everywhere (well, OK, US and Canada) but it’s already arrived at my house!

I FLIPPED OUT when SIX HUGE BOXES ended up on my porch and I opened them to find these inside:

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That’s because Schuler’s Books is making the same offer this year for Remembrance that they did last year for Royal Wedding! If you’d like an autographed copy of Remembrance, you can click here to buy one!

Orders placed by Jan 25 ship the week of Feb 2, 2016 (day of the book release in stores and online). International shipping is available too!

So I’ll be spending the next week or so signing hundreds of these books – which is cool, since I actually joined a gym a few months ago, and have been lifting weights WITH A TRAINER in preparation for this. MY BODY IS READY!!! (I can lift twice the weight of the cat. Not that she’s too impressed – or happy – about this). In fact she wishes to be left alone.

 

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Cat, pretending not to see me.

But that isn’t all that’s been going on. “Proposal” will be out NEXT WEEK!

Available January 16, 2016

Available January 19, 2016

For those of you who don’t know, “Proposal” is a 100 page e-novella I wrote that takes place about two years before the action in Remembrance. I wrote it because after I handed in “Remembrance,” my editor said:

“Love it! But I wish you’d shown the part where he proposes to her.”

I was like, “Ha ha! Yes, but the proposal took place years earlier between books 6 and 7 so showing it would have made the book a hundred pages longer and also the whole point is that Suze and Jesse are already engaged and planning their wedding and and and. . . .”

Which is writer speak for “D’oh! That’s genius! Why didn’t I think of that? Oh, no I’m going to have to go write another book now aren’t I? Why did you give me that idea that won’t leave me alone until I write it down???”

So I did.

“Proposal” is a little bonus book for readers who want to know how Suze and Jesse’s engagement came about (author’s note: it obviously involves all the elements that make a Mediator book what it is: ghosts, a murder, humor, horror, and romance. . . quite a bit of romance, since it takes place on Valentine’s Day).

You can find out more about it here (excerpt coming soon).

To find out more about Remembrance (and read an excerpt), click here:

I’m SUPER excited about the release of these books, and even more excited about about my Remembrance book tour which will be taking me all over the US this spring. Click here to find out if I’ll be visiting a library or bookstore near you!

In meantime, I know I promised a blog post about my favorite Books and Movies of 2015 – that will be coming soon!

Right after I watch this week’s Downton Abbey. I have to do SOMETHING while I sign all these books!

XOXOX

More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

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7. Best of 2015, TV edition

Happy new Year! 2015 is finally making its way out the door, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not too sorry to see it go, kind of the way I feel about house guests who’ve over stayed their welcome.

But there were definitely some good things about 2015, am I right? Remember this?

 

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And this?

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This was fun, too:

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But what stood out most to me about 2015 was that it was a GREAT year for books, TV shows, and movies written by or about women.

That’s definitely something to be remembered/celebrated!

So I’m going to list a few of the TV shows, movies and books that I enjoyed in 2015 – limited to what I can remember, obviously. I know I’m going to leave things out, and if I do, please tweet and let me know YOUR favorites, especially if there’s something you saw that I missed and absolutely MUST see.

Of course since I can’t fit all of them in one post, I’ll be spreading the lists out a little over a few weeks.

 

TV Shows I Liked in 2015

(that I can remember)

 

Broad City*

This show about (and written by) two girls trying make their way in the big city has a cult following, and deservedly so, for pointing out all the weird things about life after college, especially in New York City.

 

If there’s a star * by the title it means that HWSNBNITB watches it with me. He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog has a notable disinterest in creepy or dramatic shows. I, however, will apparently watch just about anything.

Inside Amy Schumer*

Not everyone likes every skit Amy does on her show, which makes it somewhat controversial, but as Mr. Bennet asked his daughter Lizzie in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

 “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”

Crazy Ex Girlfriend

A lot of people judged this new show on the CW by its title and didn’t watch it, but that was a huge mistake. “It’s more nuanced than that,” the main character insists. And it is!

Check out the musical number below where “crazy” Rebecca (she’s not “crazy,” that’s a pejorative term!) sings about how good she is at impressing other people’s parents. (There’s an “explicit” version that’s even funnier, but you’ll have to find that one on your own.)

 

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt*

From the addictive theme song to the hilarious musical numbers, this Netflix hit about a girl who’s been through unspeakable trauma trying to begin a new life is perfection. The humor might skew a little too satirical for some people, but I’m happy there’s a second season coming.

 

UnReal 

We all know reality shows aren’t “real” (though I for one sometimes try to trick myself into believing what I’m seeing wasn’t at all set up by the producers).

Now, thanks to UnReal, Lifetime’s scripted show about a “Bachelor-like” reality series, we know ALL the secrets. Its female creators (who have worked behind the scenes in television a long time – one of them is Marti Noxon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) hold nothing back and I was riveted from Episode 1. This was one of the most extraordinarily entertaining, well-acted shows of 2015. Thank God it’s been renewed for another season!

 

A Chef’s Life*

The cook in my life forces me to watch this PBS show about a female chef who’s moved back to her home town in South Carolina to raise a family and open her own restaurant . . . but I like it! Except that it’s a reality show and, well, sometimes I wonder . . . see above.

KIDDING.

Chef/writer Vivian Howard’s show is “disarmingly charming” acc. to HWSNBNIB and her food looks good, too.

 

River

This British detective drama on Netflix, written and created by Abi Morgan, killed me. DO NOT WATCH IT unless you’ve cleared your weekend because you’ll want to binge the whole thing to find out “who done it.” It – along with Happy Valley, which I’ve heard they’re making Season 2 of right now! – could be my favorite detective dramas of all time.

You’re The Worst*

Kind of like “Crazy Ex Girlfriend,” I think the title of this show is misleading. I feel like in Season 2 especially this became one of the smartest, warmest comedies on TV. The female characters in particular are depicted as being flawed, but still funny and strong, which makes them lovable and sympathetic.

And just when I was worried everything on this show might go in the darkest direction possible, the writers proved that maybe these characters aren’t “the worst” after all…and that made me love the show even more.

Veep

This show has been around for a while but it only gets better every season.  And I don’t just mean the swearing. If this show were a food and beverage, it would be a delicious salt-rimmed margarita with cheesy nachos, basically one of my favorites. Julia Louis Dreyfuss is who I want to be when I grow up!

 

Getting On

Am I the only person who watched this show (besides Buzzfeed)? Because it is one of my favorite shows of all time. Watching the characters on this show (who work in the “end stage” ward of a hospital) go at each other is like watching the duel between Hamilton and Burr (or so I imagine).

It’s both tragic and amazing and you want them to stop but you also kind of want them to keep fighting forever which is why I’m so sorry this show is over.

 

The Affair

I know some people gave up on this show in Season 1 because the flashbacks were in such confusing order. Plus, I mean, it’s totally ridiculous.

But if you stuck with it for Season 2 you’d have found out that:

a) The completely twisted murder mystery only gets twistier and THE BABY IS NOT WHOSE YOU THINK IT IS.

b) There’s a cynical send up of the publishing industry that actually had me laughing out loud (oh yes! You can totally write that book in three months and it will be out by Christmas.* And yes, publicists TOTALLY do that thing. ALL THE TIME.  HA HA HA no.)

c) The wife – Maura Tierney – could NOT be more different than the character she was in Season 1, and it’s brilliant and I want her to win every award.

*You can if you’re Trumbo.  You can write Spartacus in 3 days in the bathtub while drinking.

 

Penny Dreadful

Like The Affair, this show turned everything around, so characters you thought were one thing – cough, Billie Piper – in Season 1 turned out to be something else entirely in Season 2. And I loved it.

Game of Thrones

I watch this show because I also read the books and I’m interested to see what happens next. I know some people are upset by the fact that occasionally characters get killed off (or abused) in nasty ways, but I think there’s so much senseless death and violence in real life that we NEED stories like this – where we get to see a character’s ill treatment avenged later. Because that so rarely happens in reality!

As long as the violence works in the context of the story, it doesn’t bother me.

And we need to know what happens to the mother of dragons! And to Arya and Sansa Stark, of course.

You guys know I was invited to George RR Martin’s indie theater in February to chat about Remembrance, right?

 

Black-ish *

Diane. Her mom, Bow.  But Diane. OMG DIANE

 

Brooklyn 99*

This is pretty much one of the best comedic ensemble shows ever. Thank God we have it to fill the hole in our hearts left by Parks and Rec.  The female characters on this show are AMAZING. I’ve watched all of Chelsea Peretti’s stand up and I want to be Rosa.

But honestly it’s Terry Crews who is my favorite. Whenever I begin to succumb to mean world syndrome I watch this and snap out of it.

Lizzie Borden Chronicles

Lifetime! Again! What’s up with you Lifetime??? If you want to watch a woman slowly realize she can get away with killing all the terrible people in her town to make it a better place, then this is the show for you.  Don’t be mean to your dog around Lizzie!

 

Downton Abby*

It all ends next month! It will be hard to say goodbye but I’m so thankful to the Dowager for bringing us so many put downs..

Call the Midwife

These nuns and nurses are still adorable while delivering babies in sometimes sad and controversial circumstances and oh! That Christmas special!

 

Of course there are many more shows I want to gush about, but I’ve forgotten them (I’m sure you’ll help me out)

Besides, I’ve run out of time.  I’ve got to finish the drawings for Notebooks from a Middle School Princess #2, Royal Wedding Disaster. Freelance writers/illustrators don’t get holidays off when they have deadlines.

But I WILL stop later on tonight for a few glasses of champagne, to toast the New Year!

Join me back here next week year for my “Favorite Books of 2015″ and Favorite Movies of 2015.”

I hope everyone’s holidays are amazing and that 2016 brings nothing but joy!

Remember – be safe  . . .  be happy  . . . but most of all, be yourself!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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8. Brazil, Books, Paris, and Giving Thanks!

This has been the craziest fall so far here at Casa Cabot.

First of all, I just got back from Brazil, where they released Royal Wedding and a new version of The Princess Diaries with a brand new forward (by recently married Brazilian author Paula Pimento, who invited me to her wedding! How fofinha is she??)

It was so much fun to meet so many awesome readers like these:

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And it was amazing to see copies of the newest Princess Diaries books on the shelves.

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I visited a new city every day, but I didn’t have jet lag, because Brazil is one hour ahead of the US (except when it’s two hours ahead. Don’t ask).

My favorite part of Brazil is the people.  But I didn’t mind the dessert carts or caipirinhas, either!

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Then I got home and a few days later my editor sent me what we all agreed would be the cover of Remembrance, the first adult book of the Mediator series (which will be out a couple of weeks earlier than planned…February 2, 2016)!

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What I liked about this cover is explained here in this exclusive cover reveal from Cosmopolitan Magazine (where you’ll also find a sneak peek excerpt from Chapter One)!

We went through a LOT of covers for this book.  I can’t even tell you how many…but I liked each and every one of them. They just didn’t fit this particular book. I’m not going to show them to you because I really hope they get used for another book (that’s how much I liked them)!

But it took us so long to find the right cover that we missed the deadline for printing them on the Advanced Reader Copies, which arrived a few days after the cover reveal in Cosmo, looking like this:

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If you can’t wait until February 2 to read Remembrance, you can enter for a chance to win an ARC here.

Right now, in an effort to avoid doing any work at all associated with Thanksgiving (He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog is the chef around here, not me!) I’m working on a Mediator e-novella called Proposal that will HOPEFULLY be available January 6, a month before Remembrance is available. It takes place a few years before the action in Remembrance.

I say “hopefully”  because I’m hoping to finish it by the deadline or you won’t be seeing it until AFTER Remembrance comes out. But you won’t care, right?

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My mother-in-law, not caring at PF Changs. We can all learn from her.

In addition to that, I’m working on the illustrations for the second book (with more to come!!!) in the Notebooks from a Middle School Princess series, Royal Wedding Disaster. This book will be in stores (and on e-readers) on May 10, 2016!

Here’s a look at THAT cover! Could you die of the cuteness? Yes, that’s Princess Mia in the background, peeking over her shoulder at Princess Olivia!

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No, I’m not busy at all.

Even though I was sad to be home from Brazil (not just because no one was bringing me caipirinhas), I was excited to  attend YALLfest in South Carolina.

It was my first ever YALLfest, and it was AMAZING to see so many of my favorite author friends, bloggers, librarians, teachers, and readers all in one place!

Then we learned what had happened in Paris.

But I felt lucky to have been in Charleston when such horrible news broke, because like Paris, Charleston has had to learn to be strong in the face of senseless violence. Like the amazing author (and Yallfest founder) Margaret Stohl posted:

“It’s up to us to change the story. I refuse to believe that love will not prevail. #charlestonstrong #parisstrong.”

Sitting in the dark of the Charleston Music Hall, we were treated to an upbeat concert from the band Tiger Beat (honestly, I went on book tour with the titian-haired literary genius Libba Bray, but I didn’t know she could sing like that. And I mean, that woman can sing), who then performed the most moving rendition of “Let It Be” with the West Ashley High School that I’ve ever heard!

All of us agreed, it truly was “a moment of hope in the dark.”

(And you guys, I can testify – because I was sitting next to him- that RL Stine cried. Well, okay, we ALL cried.)

There’s a lot to be sad about this Thanksgiving.  But there’s much more to be grateful for. We have books, we have Brazil, we have Charleston, and we have caipirinhas.

And we’ll ALWAYS have Paris, and each other. I’m so thankful for that!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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9. 2015 September Events and October Brazil Tour!

Hello, readers, royals, and mediators! It’s been such a fun, busy summer. I’ve had a great time seeing (and hearing from) so many of you during my 15th Anniversary Princess Diaries tour to celebrate the releases of Royal Wedding and From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess!

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But guess what?  It’s not over yet. I’ve still got a few more (national and international) stops to make in September and October!

Read on to see if I’ll be visiting a town near you (unless of course you’re my mother-in-law, in which case you already know I’m coming to see you. Hi, Bonnie)!

In the meantime, the cover reveal (and synopsis) for Remembrance, Mediator 7 (in stores February 14, 2016), is coming soon . . .

Come see me and my amazing fellow writers at the following locations:

September

Columbus Children’s Book Festival
Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Rd, Columbus, Georgia 31906

  • Saturday, September 19, 2015 – Noon-1:00 PM
    Embrace Your Inner Princess! – Signing to follow

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Read for Pixels 2015
Online Chat – Register here

  • Sunday, September 27, 2015 – 11:30PM EST (8:30 PST)
    Reading and Q&A session in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal Campaign.

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October

I’m so excited to be heading to Brazil in October!  Can’t wait to see you there!!! Obrigada!!! (I’m seriously going to learn more Brazilian Portuguese than this one word before I get there.)

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Cachoeira, BA – Oct 18th,  10AM
Flica Festival
Recife, PE – Oct 19th,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore Riomar Shopping Recife
Avenida Republica do Líbano, s/nº – Piso L2 – Luc 227 – Pina
CEP: 51110-160 – Recife – PE

São Paulo, SP – Oct 20th,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore Shopping Center Norte
Travessa Casalbuono, 120 – Loja 414 – Vila Guilherme
CEP: 02047-050 – São Paulo – SP

Porto Alegre, RS – Oct 21st,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore BarraShopping Sul
Av. Diário de Notícias, 300 – Loja 1022 – Cristal
CEP: 90810-080 – Porto Alegre – RS

Belo Horizonte, MG – Oct 22nd,  5pm
Saraiva Megastore Shopping Diamond Mall
Av. Olegario Maciel, 1600 – Lojas 16 a 21 – Nivel Bernardo Guimarães Lourdes
CEP: 30180-111 – Belo Horizonte – MG

Rio de Janeiro, RJ – Oct 23rd,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore Shopping Rio Sul
Av. Lauro Muller, 116 – Botafogo
CEP: 22290-160 – Rio de Janeiro – RJ

 

Coming to Brazil in October:

 

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It’s going to be an amazing trip! I can’t wait to see you there!

XOXOXO

More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

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10. 9/11/01

Every year teachers let me know that the post below about my experience living in Manhattan a few dozen blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11 has become part of their classroom curriculum, so I continue to post it annually.

Recent studies, however, have shown that many classrooms don’t teach about 9/11 at all, due to the fact that it’s “too controversial and emotional,” and that it also isn’t a subject covered in text books and on standardized tests, so time constraints forbid it.

That’s totally understandable!

Something I worry about, however, is my grandfather. He was a church-going, golf-playing dog lover who also happened to have fought in World War II. He came home from Europe–where he served under General Eisenhower–with a Purple Heart. He never spoke to me about what happened to him over there, but he did open up to my husband about it, and the stories he told were totally horrifying.

So now when I overhear people insisting that the atrocities that occurred during WWII were exaggerated or didn’t really happen, I get angry. Are they calling my grandfather a liar?

This is why it’s so important that we preserve and teach history–all history, even the “controversial and emotional” kind–so that future generations won’t forget, repeat, or deny it ever happened.

But I think it’s equally important to tell others about the acts of bravery and heroism we saw in the face of great tragedy, so that future generations will be inspired to act similarly when faced by similar horrors.

So if you have a few extra minutes in your day, please read on.

And if you think what you read is important, please share it with a friend. There’s tragedy in the personal story I’ve written below, but there’s also plenty of inspirational heroism, too, I promise, starting with this, the boat lift on 9/11 that helped rescue some of my husband’s co-workers:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Meg’s 9/11 Diary

9/11/01 started out as one of those super nice fall days where the sky was cloudlessly blue and it was just warm enough, but not hot. My LA friends call that “earthquake weather.”

So we probably should have known something awful was going to happen, but most of us didn’t.

My husband had woken up early to go jogging before leaving for work at his job as a financial writer at One Liberty Plaza, which was across the street from the World Trade Center.

He has never been jogging again.

Not being a morning person, I was still asleep in my apartment on 12th Street and 4th Avenue, a few dozen blocks from the Trade Center, when the first plane hit. Our windows were closed and the air conditioning was on. I didn’t hear a thing until my friend Jen called.

Jen: “Look out your window.”

That is when I saw the smoke for the first time.

Me: “What’s happening?”

Jen: “They’re saying a plane hit the Trade Center.”

Me: “But how could the pilot not see it?”

Jen: “I don’t know. Isn’t that near where your husband works?”

It was. I couldn’t see his building from our apartment, but I could see the World Trade Center. The black smoke billowing from it had to be going right into my husband’s busy investment office on the 60th or so floor.

“I better call him to see if he’s okay,” I said, and hung up to do so.

There was no answer at my husband’s office, however, which was crazy, because over a hundred people worked there.

Were they all right? I didn’t know. I couldn’t get through to anyone anywhere. I couldn’t make any outgoing calls from either of my phones that day. For some reason, people could call me, but I couldn’t call anyone else.

It turned out this was due to the massive volume of calls going on in my part of the city that day, both on cell and land lines.

But I didn’t know that then.

Sirens started up. It was the engine from the firehouse directly across the street from my apartment building. It was a very small firehouse, but it was always bustling with activity. All the young, handsome guys used to sit outside it on folding chairs on nice days like the one on 9/11, joshing with the neighbors who were walking their dogs, with my doormen, with the neighborhood kids. The old ladies on my street always brought them cookies.The firemen, in turn, always had treats for the old ladies’ dogs.

Now all the firemen from the station across from my apartment building were hurrying to the fire downtown, throwing on their gear and urgently blaring the horn on their truck.

Every last one of those young, brave boys would be dead in exactly one hour. Their truck would be crushed beyond recognition. That firehouse would sit empty and draped in black bunting for months. No one would be able to look at it without crying.

Of course none of us knew it then.

I turned on New York 1, the local news channel for New York City. Pat Kiernan, my favorite newscaster, was saying that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

Weird, I thought. Was the pilot drunk? How could someone not see a building that big, and run into it with a plane?

It was right then that Luz, my housekeeper, showed up. I’d forgotten it was Tuesday, the day she comes to clean. When she saw what I was watching, she looked worried.

“I just dropped my son off at his college,” she said. “It’s right next to the World Trade Center.”

“My husband works across the street from the World Trade Center,” I said.

“Is he all right?” Luz wanted to know. “What’s happening down there?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I can’t reach him.”

Luz tried to call her son on his cell phone. She, too, could not get through.

We didn’t know then that our cell servers used towers that were located on top of the World Trade Center, and they all had stopped working due to the intensity of the flames shooting up the building.

We both stood there staring at the TV, not really knowing what to do. It was as we were watching that something weird happened on the TV, right before our eyes:

The OTHER tower at the World Trade Center — the one that hadn’t been hit — suddenly exploded.

I thought maybe one of the helicopters that was filming the disaster had gotten too close.

But Luz said, “No. A plane hit it. I saw it. That was a plane.”

I hadn’t seen a plane. I said, “No. How could that be? There can’t be TWO drunk pilots.”

“You don’t understand,” Luz said. “They’re doing this on purpose.”

“No,” I said. “Of course they aren’t. Who would do that?”

That’s when Pat Kiernan, on the TV, said, “Oh, my God.”

It’s weird to hear a newscaster say, “Oh, my God.” Especially Pat. He is always very professional.

Also, Pat’s voice cracked when he said it. Like he was about to cry.

But newscasters don’t cry.

“Another plane has hit the World Trade Center,” Pat said. “It looks as if another plane — a commercial jet — has hit the World Trade Center. And we are getting reports that a plane has just hit the Pentagon.”

That’s when I grabbed Luz. And Luz grabbed me. We both started to cry. We sat on the couch in my living room, hugging each other, and crying as we watched what was happening on TV, which was what was happening a dozen blocks from where we sat, where both the people we loved were.

We could see things flying out of the burning buildings. Pat said that those things were people. People were choosing to jump from their offices in the World Trade Center rather than burn to death. They couldn’t escape the flames, and rescuers couldn’t reach them.

But their offices were sixty to ninety floors from the ground. Some of them were holding hands with their colleagues as they jumped. Many of them were women. You could tell by the way their skirts ballooned out behind them as they raced towards the pavement below.

Luz and I sobbed. We didn’t want to watch, but we couldn’t stop. This was happening in our city, just down the street, to people we saw every day. Who would do this? Who would do something like this to New Yorkers?

That’s when my phone rang. I grabbed it, but it wasn’t my husband. It was his mother. Where was he? she wanted to know. Was he all right?

I said I didn’t know. I said I was trying to keep the line clear, in case he called. She said she understood but to call her as soon as I heard anything, and hung up.

Then the phone rang again. It was my husband’s sister-in-law. Then it rang again. It was MY mother.

The phone rang all morning. It was never my husband. It was always family or friends, wondering if he was all right.

“I don’t know,” I kept telling them. “I don’t know.”

Luz went up to the roof of my building to see if she could see anything more from there than what they were showing on New York 1. While she was gone, I went into my bedroom to get dressed (I was still wearing my pajamas).

All I could think, as I looked into my closet, trying to figure out what to wear, was that my husband was probably dead. I didn’t see how anybody could be down in that part of Manhattan and still be alive. All I could see were things falling —and people jumping — out of those buildings. Anyone on the streets down below would have to be killed by all of that. The jumping people couldn’t choose where they landed.

I remember exactly what I put on that day: olive green capris and a black T-shirt, with my black Steve Madden slides. I remember thinking, “This will be my Identifying My Dead Husband’s Body outfit. I will never, ever wear it again after this day.”

I knew this because when I worked at the dorm at NYU, we had quite a few students kill themselves, in various ways. Every time a body was discovered, it was so horrible. All the first responders involved in the discovery could never wear the same clothes we wore that day again, because of the memory.

Luz came back down from the roof, very excited. No, she hadn’t seen if the buildings in which my husband and her son were in were all right. But she’d seen thousands — THOUSANDS — of people coming down 4th Avenue, the busy street I lived on at the time. 4th Avenue is always heavily trafficked with honking cars, buses, taxis, bike messengers, and scooters.

Not today. Today all the cars and buses were gone, and the entire avenue was crowded with people.

“Walking,” Luz said. “They’re WALKING DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET.”

I ran to look out the window. Luz was right. Instead of the constant stream of cars I’d gotten used to seeing outside our living room window, I saw wall to wall people. They had taken over the street. They were coming from the Battery, where the Trade Center is located, shoulder to shoulder, ten deep in the middle of the road, like a parade or a rally. There were tens of thousands of them.

There were men in business suits, and some in khakis. There were women in skirts and dresses, walking barefoot or in shredded pantyhose, holding their shoes because their high heels hurt too much and they hadn’t had time to grab their commuter running shoes. I saw the ladies who worked in the manicure shop across the street from my building running outside with the flip flops they put on their customers’ feet when they’ve had a pedicure (the flip flops the staff always make sure they get back before you leave).

But today, the staff was giving the flip flops to the women who were barefoot. They were giving away the flip flops.

That’s when I got REALLY freaked out.

The manicurists weren’t the only ones trying to help. The men who worked in the deli on the corner were running outside with bottles of water to give to the hot, thirsty marchers. New York City deli owners, GIVING water away. Usually they charged $2.

It was like the world had turned upside down.

“They have to be in there,” Luz said, about her son and my husband, pointing to the crowd. “They’re walking with them, and that’s what’s taking them so long to get here.”

“I hope you’re right,” I said. But I wasn’t sure I shared her faith.

Then Luz ran downstairs to see if anyone in the crowd was coming from the same college her son went to, to ask if anyone might have seen him.

I was afraid to leave my apartment, though, because I thought my husband might try to call. Not knowing what else to do, I logged onto the computer. My email was still working, even if the phones weren’t. I emailed my husband: WHERE ARE YOU?

No reply.

A friend from Indiana had emailed to ask if there was anything she could do. At the time, the only thing I could think of was, Give blood.

My friend, and everyone she knew, gave blood that day. So many people gave blood that there were lines around the corner to give it.

After a month, a lot of that surplus blood had to be destroyed, because they didn’t have room to store it all. And there turned out to be no use for it, anyway. There were few survivors to give blood to.

My friend Jen, the one who’d woken me up, e’d me from her job at NYU. Fred (out of respect for their desire for anonymity, I have changed the names of some people in this piece), then one of Jen’s employees, and also a volunteer EMT, had jumped on his bike and headed downtown to see if there was anything he could do to help.

Jen herself was organizing a massive effort to set up shelter for students who didn’t live on campus, since the subways and commuter trains had stopped running, and the kids who commuted to school had no way of getting home that night. Jen was trying to arrange for cots to be set up in the gym for them.

She ended up staying in the city too that night. She had no way to get back to her house in Connecticut.

Another co-worker from NYU, my friend Jack, did manage to reach his spouse, who worked in the Trade Center, that day. Jack used to train the RAs. He would ask me to “interrupt” his training with a fake administrative temper tantrum — “Why are you in this room?” I would demand. “You never reserved it!”— and then he and I would “fight” about it, and then after I left Jack would ask the RAs what would have been a better way to handle the situation . . . and by the way, did any of them remember what I was wearing? After they’d tell him, he’d have me come back into the room, and point out that every single of them was wrong about what I’d had on. This was to show how unreliable witness testimony can be.

Jack’s wife had just walked eighty floors down one of the Towers to reach the ground safely since the elevators weren’t working due to the flames, only to realize the guys in her IT department were still up there, backing up data for the company. Once she reached the ground, and saw how bad things really were, she tried calling them to tell them to forget backing up and just COME DOWN, but of course she couldn’t get hold of them because no phones were working.

So she went back up to MAKE THEM come down, because who doesn’t love their IT guys?

“Why did you go back up?” Jack asked her, when he finally reached her. By that time she, along with the IT guys, had become trapped in the fire and smoke, and couldn’t make their way down again.

“It seemed like the right thing to do,” she said.

Of course it did. She was married to Jack. Jack would have done the same thing. She told Jack to say good bye to their twins toddlers for her. That was the last time they spoke.

I can never think of this, or of Jack’s happy, cheerful greeting every time I saw him, or the stunned looks on the RAs faces when they realized we’d pulled one over on them, without wanting to cry. It seems so unfair that those twins have had to grow up not knowing their mother. And for what reason?

Another friend, a pilot who had access to air traffic control radar, e’d me to say all the planes in the U.S. were being grounded — that what had happened had been the result of highjackings. That it was a commercial jet that had hit the Pentagon, where my friend’s father-in-law worked (they eventually found him, safe and sound. He’d been stuck in traffic on his way to the Pentagon when the plane hit. Many people that day were rewarded for tardiness).

But another friend – a girl I’d worked with when I’d been a receptionist in my husband’s office, a girl whom I’d helped pick out a wedding dress, and who, since the big day, had quit her job to raise the four kids she’d had – wasn’t so lucky. She never saw her husband, who worked at the Trade Center, again.

Then, behind me, I heard Pat Kiernan on the TV say, “Oh, my God,” again.

And this time he really WAS crying. Because one of the towers was collapsing.

I watched, not believing my eyes. Since having moved to New York City in 1989, I had become accustomed to using the Twin Towers as my own personal compass point for the direction “South,” since they’re on the southern tip of the island, and visible from dozens of blocks away. Wherever you were in the maze of streets that made up the Village, all you had to do to orient yourself was find the Twin Towers, and you knew which direction to go.

(If you ever watched closely during the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” you can see the towers beneath the Washington Square arch in the scene where Sally drops Harry off when they first arrive in New York.)

And now one of those towers was coming down.

I don’t remember anything else about that moment except that, as I watched the TV in horror, the front door to my apartment opened, and, assuming it was Luz back from the street, I turned to tell her, “It’s falling down! It’s FALLING DOWN!”

Only it wasn’t Luz. It was my husband.

He said, “What’s falling down? Why are you crying?”

Because HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON.

Because my husband, being my husband, had picked up his briefcase after the first plane hit and said, “Let’s go,” to everyone in his department, took the elevators downstairs, and insisted everyone start walking for our apartment, because it was the closest place to where they were that seemed unlikely to be hit by an airplane.

(He told me later he’d worried they were going to try for the Stock Exchange, or the federal buildings you always see on Law and Order, and so had made everyone take small side streets home around those buildings, which is why it took them so long to get there).

They had to dodge the bodies of the people who jumped from the burning towers because they couldn’t stand the heat anymore. They saw the desk chairs and PCs that had been blown out of the offices so high above littering the street like tickertape from a parade. They saw the second plane hit while they were on the street, and ducked into a cell phone store until the rubble from the explosion settled. A piece of plane, nearly twenty feet long, flew past them, and landed in a parking lot, just missing Trinity Church, one of the oldest churches in this country.

And they kept walking.

I don’t know what people normally do when someone they love, who they were convinced was dead, suddenly walks through the door. All I know is how I reacted: I flung my arms around him. And then I started yelling, “WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME?”

“I tried, I couldn’t get through,” he said. “What’s falling down?”

Because they had no idea. All they knew was that the city was under attack (which they had surmised by all the airplanes).

So my husband and his colleagues gathered in our living room—hot, thirsty, but alive, the ones who lived in New Jersey wondering how (and if) they were going to get home. Eventually, that night, they managed to catch boat rides – see the film above.

Meanwhile, Luz, not wanting to go home until she’d heard from her son, who was supposed to meet her after class in my building, cleaned.

I told her not to, but she said it helped keep her mind off what was happening.

So she vacuumed, while eleven people sat in my two room apartment and watched the Twin Towers fall.

It wasn’t long after the second tower came down that our friends David and Susan from Indiana, who lived in a beautiful condo in the shadow of the Twin Towers with their two young children, showed up at our door, their kids and half the employees from their office (which was also in our neighborhood) behind them.

They had been some of the people shown on the news escaping from the massive dust cloud that erupted when the towers fell. They’d abandoned their daughter’s stroller and run for it, while shop owners tossed water on their backs as they passed by, to keep their clothes from catching on fire.

In their typical way, however, they had stopped on their way to our place to pick up some bagels.

For all they knew, their apartment was burning down, or being buried under ten feet of rubble. But they’d stopped for bagels, because they’d been worried people might be hungry. Or maybe people just do things in times like that to try to be normal. I don’t know. They didn’t forget the cream cheese, either.

I took the kids into my bedroom, where there was a second TV, because I didn’t think they should see what everyone was watching in the living room, which was footage of what they had just escaped from.

I set up my Playstation for Jake, who was seven or so at the time, to use, while Shai, just turning 4, and I did a puzzle on my floor. Both kids were worried about Mr. Fluff, their pet rabbit, whom they’d been forced to leave behind in their apartment, because there’d been no time to get him (their parents had run from work and grabbed both kids from school).

“Do you think he’s all right?” Jake wanted to know.

At the time, I didn’t see how anything south of Canal Street could be alive, but I told Jake I was sure Mr. Fluff was fine.

This was when Shai and I had the following conversation:

“Are planes going to fly into THIS building?” Shai wanted to know. She was crying as she looked out the windows of my thirteenth floor apartment.

Me: “No. No planes are going to fly into this building.”

Shai: “How do you know?”

Me: “Because all the planes are grounded. No more planes are allowed in the air.”

Shai: “Ever?”

Me: “No. Just until the bad guys who did this get caught.”

Shai: “Who’s going to catch the bad guys?”

Me: “The police will catch them.”

Shai: “No, they won’t. All the police are dead. I saw them going into the building that just fell down.”

Me (trying not to cry): “Shai. Not all the police are dead.”

Shai (crying harder): “Yes, they ARE. I SAW THEM.”

Me (showing Shai a picture from my family photo album of a policeman in his uniform): “Shai, this is my brother, Matt. He’s a policeman. And he’s not dead, I promise. And he, and other policemen like him, and probably even the Army, will catch the bad guys.”

Shai (no longer crying): “Okay.”

And she went back to her puzzle.

Watching from my living room window, we saw the crowds of people streaming out from what was soon to be called Ground Zero, thin to a trickle, then stop altogether. That was when 4th Avenue became crowded with vehicular traffic again. But not taxis or bike messengers.

Soon, our building was shaking from the wheels of hundreds of Humvees and Army trucks, as the National Guard moved in. The Village was blockaded from 14th Street down. You couldn’t come in or out of the neighborhood without showing proof that you lived there (a piece of mail with your name and address on it, along with a photo ID).

The next day, after having spent the night on our fold-out couch in the living room, Shai’s parents snuck back to their apartment (they had to sneak, because the National Guard wasn’t letting anyone at all, even with proof that they lived there, into the area. For weeks afterwards, on every corner from 14th Street down, stood a National Guardsman, armed with an assault rifle. For days, you couldn’t get milk, bread, or a newspaper below Union Square because they weren’t allowing any delivery trucks — or any vehicles at all, except Army vehicles — into the area), and found Mr. Fluff alive and well.

They snuck him back out, so that later that day, we were able to put the entire family on a bus to the Hamptons, where they lived for the rest of the year.

As my husband and I were walking back to our apartment from the bus stop where we’d seen off our friends, we saw a familiar face standing on the corner of 4th Avenue and 12th Street, where we lived:

Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton, asking people in our neighborhood if we were all right, and if there was anything they could do to help.

I didn’t go up to shake the ex-President’s hand, because I was too shy.

But I stood there watching him and Chelsea, and something about seeing them, so genuinely concerned and kind (and not there for press or publicity, because there WAS no press, there was never any mention of their visit AT ALL in any newspaper or on any news broadcast I saw that day), made me burst into tears, after having held them in the whole time Shai had been in my apartment, since I didn’t want to upset her.

But you couldn’t NOT cry. It was impossible. Everyone was doing it …so much so that the deli across the street put a sign in its window: “No Crying, Please.” Our doormen were crying. Even Rudy Giuliani, New York City’s mayor (whom I will admit up until this crisis I had not particularly liked for cheating on his very nice wife, Donna Hanover, who used to be on the Food Network), kept crying.

But he also kept showing up on New York 1, no matter what time you turned it on, even at two in the morning, there he was, like he never slept, always crying but also telling us It’s going to be all right, which was BRILLIANT.

The same day we put Shai and her family on a bus to the Hamptons, September 12 — which also happened to be poor Shai’s birthday — companies (even RIVAL companies) all over Manhattan offered up their conference rooms and spare offices to all the businesses in the Trade Center and One Liberty Plaza that had lost theirs, including my husband’s company, so that they would be able to remain solvent, another act of kindness that never gets mentioned anywhere, but should.

Since he was the only person in the company who lived downtown, my husband was elected for the duty of removing all the sensitive data from their now mostly destroyed office, which meant he had to pass through the Brooks Brothers in his building’s foyer, from which he had bought so many of his business shirts and ties. The Brooks Brothers at One Liberty Plaza was now serving as Ground Zero’s morgue.

While under escort of the National Guard, he and guardsmen–the first to enter his floor since the event–found a body in an emergency stairwell. It was determined to be the body of someone from another office, who had probably suffered a heart attack while trying to evacuate One Liberty. The body was removed and taken to the morgue while my husband watched. (He threw away the clothes he wore that day.)

For the next week in Lower Manhattan, even if you wanted to forget, for a minute, what had happened on that cloudless Tuesday morning, you couldn’t. The front window of my apartment building filled with Missing Person posters of loved ones that had been lost in the Trade Center. The outside walls of St. Vincent’s Hospital were papered with them as well, and Union Square, at 14th Street, became an impromptu memorial to the dead, filled with candles and flowers. So did the front doors of every local fire station, including the one across the street from my building. The old ladies who used to bring cookies there stood in front of it and cried.

You couldn’t go outside during that week — until it finally rained Friday night, four days later – without smelling the acrid smoke from Ground Zero … and, in fact, you were encouraged to wear surgical masks outdoors. An eerie grey fog covered everything. Some of us tried to brave it by not wearing masks — like Londoners during the Blitz — meeting for lunch like nothing had happened, but the smoke made your eyes burn. I have no idea how the rescue workers at Ground Zero could bear it, and I’m not surprised so many of them now have respiratory diseases and cancer. I have no doubt that for some, the horrors of 9/11 will continue to be felt years from now.

It wasn’t until employees from a barbecue restaurant drove all the way to Manhattan from Memphis, and stationed their tanker-sized smokers right next to Ground Zero, and then started giving away free barbecue to all the rescue workers there for weeks on end, that the smell changed to something other than death. Everyone loved those guys. It was just barbecue.

Except it wasn’t just barbecue. It was a sign that, as the mayor kept assuring us, things were going to be all right.

But of course, for a lot of New Yorkers that day, things were never going to be all right again. While I was celebrating the fact that my husband had come home, Fred – Jen’s employee, the volunteer EMT who had ridden his bike downtown to see if there was anything he could do – couldn’t find his crew. This was before the buildings fell, before anyone had any idea those buildings COULD fall, when the police and firemen were still streaming into them, confident they could get people out.

The crew that Fred normally volunteered with were inside one of those buildings, helping people down the stairs. Fred couldn’t find them, because all the cell towers were down, and communication was so sketchy. Someone told Fred to drive a bus they’d found, to help evacuate people out of the World Trade Center area.

Fred didn’t want to be outside driving a bus. He wanted to be inside with his crew, saving people.

But since he couldn’t find his crew, he agreed to drive the bus.

Then the buildings came down. Later, Fred found out that the crew he normally volunteered with had been one of the many rescue squads buried under the rubble.

Like a lot of the rescue workers who lost coworkers in the attack, Fred seemed to feel guilty about having survived, while his friends had not. Even when all his NYU co-workers pitched in and bought him a new bike (after his old one got buried beneath rubble at Ground Zero), Fred couldn’t seem to shake his sadness. It was like he didn’t believe he’d done any good that day.

“All I did,” he said, “was drive a stupid bus.”

But that’s not all he did. Because remember Luz’s son?

Well, he showed up at my apartment not long after Jake and Shai and their parents did. Luz grabbed him and kissed him and shook him and cried, and when she finally let go of him, he told his story:

He had been heading towards — not away from – the towers, because he’d wanted to help, he said. A lot like Fred.

But suddenly, from out of nowhere, someone grabbed him from behind, and threw him onto a stupid bus.

“But I want to stay and help!” Luz’s son yelled at the guy who’d grabbed him.

“Not today,” Fred said.

And he drove Luz’s son, and all the other students from that community college to safety, just before the towers fell.

Now more than a decade has passed since 9/11. A year or two after finding that body, and the company he worked for got back on its feet, my husband decided financial writing wasn’t for him. He decided to follow a lifelong dream: he enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. He got to work with chefs like Jacques Pepin. At his graduation, Michael Lamonaco–who ran Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of the Twin Towers. Michael is another person who happened to be late to work on 9/11–offered my husband a job in his new restaurant.

He declined, however, because we were moving to Key West, where the pace of life is a little bit slower. Michael said he completely understood.

Luz and her family are doing fine. Fred is now married with two children, and head of his own division at NYU. Mr. Fluff did eventually die, but of natural causes. Jake is thinking about law school, and Shai is now a freshman in college. Shai’s mother says her daughter has no memory whatsoever of that day, or of the conversation she and I had, or of the promise I made her — that we’d catch the bad guys.

Shai, however, says she does remember our conversation, and that I was right: we did catch the bad guys.

Of course, now there are some new bad guys out there. That’s no big surprise. You can never catch them all.

But the important thing is that we never forget . . . and that we all remember: we’re all in this together.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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11. 2015 September Events and October Brazil Tour!

Hello, readers, royals, and mediators! It’s been such a fun, busy summer. I’ve had a great time seeing (and hearing from) so many of you during my 15th Anniversary Princess Diaries tour to celebrate the releases of Royal Wedding and From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess!

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But guess what?  It’s not over yet. I’ve still got a few more (national and international) stops to make in September and October!

Read on to see if I’ll be visiting a town near you (unless of course you’re my mother-in-law, in which case you already know I’m coming to see you. Hi, Bonnie)!

In the meantime, the cover reveal (and synopsis) for Remembrance, Mediator 7 (in stores February 14, 2016), is coming soon . . .

Come see me and my amazing fellow writers at the following locations:

September

Decatur Book Festival
601 W Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030

  • Saturday, September 05, 2015 – 4:15 PM to 5:00 PM
    First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary
    Panel: Queens of Romance with Meg Cabot, Robyn Carr and Kristan Higgans, signing to follow
  • Sunday, September 06, 2015 – 3:45 PM to 4:30 PM
    Children’s Stage
    Panel: Happily Ever After with Meg Cabot, Jessica Lawson, Elizabeth Lenhard, signing to follow

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Columbus Children’s Book Festival

Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Rd, Columbus, Georgia 31906

  • Saturday, September 19, 2015 – Noon-1:00 PM
    Embrace Your Inner Princess! – Signing to follow

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Read for Pixels 2015
Online Chat – Register here

  • Sunday, September 27, 2015 – 11:30PM EST (8:30 PST)
    Reading and Q&A session in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal Campaign.

readforpixels

October

I’m so excited to be heading to Brazil in October!  Can’t wait to see you there!!! Obrigada!!! (I’m seriously going to learn more Brazilian Portuguese than this one word before I get there.)

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Cachoeira, BA – Oct 18th,  10AM
Flica Festival
Recife, PE – Oct 19th,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore Riomar Shopping Recife
Avenida Republica do Líbano, s/nº – Piso L2 – Luc 227 – Pina
CEP: 51110-160 – Recife – PE

São Paulo, SP – Oct 20th,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore Shopping Center Norte
Travessa Casalbuono, 120 – Loja 414 – Vila Guilherme
CEP: 02047-050 – São Paulo – SP

Porto Alegre, RS – Oct 21st,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore BarraShopping Sul
Av. Diário de Notícias, 300 – Loja 1022 – Cristal
CEP: 90810-080 – Porto Alegre – RS

Belo Horizonte, MG – Oct 22nd,  5pm
Saraiva Megastore Shopping Diamond Mall
Av. Olegario Maciel, 1600 – Lojas 16 a 21 – Nivel Bernardo Guimarães Lourdes
CEP: 30180-111 – Belo Horizonte – MG

Rio de Janeiro, RJ – Oct 23rd,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore Shopping Rio Sul
Av. Lauro Muller, 116 – Botafogo
CEP: 22290-160 – Rio de Janeiro – RJ

 

It’s going to be an amazing trip! I can’t wait to see you there!

XOXOXO

More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

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12. The Royal Wedding Day is Here!

Today is the official wedding day of Mia and Michael (according to the royal invitation in Princess Diaries #11, Royal Wedding).

To celebrate, I’m drinking trying to be a little kinder to everyone I know (including myself).  As Mia mentions in the book, the reason people love weddings (and brides) so much is because they’re symbols of hopefulness in a world that sometimes seems filled with sadness and despair.

So here’s a link to Mia and Michael’s Wedding Play List. Dance along with me and all the other wedding guests as I update you on all the crazy things that have been going on, and hopefully, in doing so, spread a little cheer along the way!

 

Image 7So many readers! So many post-its!

I had a blast seeing so many of you on my book tour, from the RT Booklovers Convention in Dallas, TX, where I made new friends…

 

CFDH8pZVAAAx9uv(Authors Charlaine Harris, Kathy Reichs, and me.)

…and caught up with old ones….

CFEcolfUgAAC9Fw(Yes, you are seeing correctly: Tiny Jamie from Outlander was at Mia’s bridal shower.)

…to Columbia, SC, where I did the first of my many dramatic readings from the new books…

 

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…to the most amazing middle school in Illinois where Beth Stephens, the kindest librarian EVER, made me a Princess Olivia necklace and MEG CABOT BOOK CHOCOLATES (most of which I ate before I could photograph their splendor)…

 

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…to BookCon in NYC where I met a ton of new fans (and got re-acquainted with a few I’ve known and loved for a while)!

 

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…and even ended up sitting next to Nick Offerman from Parks and Rec….

 

Image 4(Though I didn’t recognize him, because he shaved off his mustache.)

And so many places in between!

 

All of you managed to put Royal Wedding on both the USA Today AND New York Times bestseller lists, as well as introduce a whole new generation of readers to a brand new Genovian princess. I can’t thank you enough! You’re ALL princesses (and princes) of Genovia!

Image(This photo courtesy of Buzzfeed, which gif’d me, then quizzed me. If you don’t know what I mean, click on the links.)

If Royal Wedding and Notebooks haven’t come to your country yet, don’t worry, they’ll be there soon.  Here’s the latest on release dates (with more coming soon):

July 2, 2015 (UK/Aus/NZ)

August/September 2105 (France)

October 2015 (Brazil)

December 2015 (Indonesia)

Spring 2016 (Japan)

Spring 2016 (Czech)

 

Starting next month, the entire Princess Diaries series will also be re-released in the UK, with these fab new covers and a new introduction by me!

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And though I’m home now (after a month away.  HWSNBNITB’s cat has been giving me the evil eye since she really enjoyed having him all to herself while I was gone ), happily for the cat, I’ll be in many other places (and countries) soon!

Come see me at 7PM on July 1 at Books and Books in Coral Gables, FL. This event will also be LIVE STREAMED so even if you don’t live in the area, you can drop by via the WONDER OF THE INTERNET.  Check my Twitter/FB feed for updates, and click here often to find out when/where I’ll visiting somewhere close to you (either live or online).

 

Image 1(This amazing photo is by Kathryn Wirsing, the photographer for this “Get That Life” Cosmo interview by Heather Wood Rudolph)

 

In the meantime, tons of you have been asking if the Princess Diaries 3 movie rumors are true. Sadly, I can’t comment except to say I think it would be great if it happened, because the world needs more movies/stories with strong female role models. (Speaking of which, go see the movie Spy starring Melissa McCarthy!) Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Miracles Happen!

 

The same answer goes for whether or not there’ll be a sequel to Royal Wedding. I’d love to do one, but right now I’m working on a new middle grade book featuring Princess Olivia–Royal Disaster–that will be out next summer! All of the characters from the first Notebook will be in the 2nd….as well as a certain royal bride:

 

gallery-1434120727-m9c7316-edit(Photo of my Royal Disaster sketch pad, glasses, pen, and phone by Kathryn Wirsing)

 

And as you know, Remembrance, Mediator 7, will be out 2/14/2016.  As I’m also working on a new book told entirely in texts and emails (a stand alone, but part of the Boy series), I’m pretty busy on the book-writing front!

 

gallery-1434121341-m9c7240-editPhoto by Kathryn Wirsing

Here’s the official book trailer for Royal Wedding to tide us all over for now.  Please notice how much it features Lars, which I love!

Click here to view the embedded video.

My undying thanks as always to the very kind Brady Hall for making such a hilariously great video!

Okay, have a fantastic Royal Wedding day. And remember:

EVERY DAY can be Royal Wedding day if we’d all just be a little kind to someone who needs it.  And don’t forget to include yourself in that category!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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13. Mia is back!

Meg Cabot - Royal Wedding and From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess

I can’t believe it’s been a decade and a half since we first met that so not-ready-for-royalty princess, Mia Thermopolis, and six years since we last saw a book about about her! She–and we–have come a long way since then, from barely passing Algebra, to that first kiss from Michael, to saving Genovia, her kingdom, from financial ruin!

And now they’re here at last: Royal Wedding, the first adult installment in the series that so many readers have been waiting for (and those who aren’t familiar with Mia’s secret diaries will enjoy, too), along with the first middle grade installment (with illustrations by ME!) for younger readers about a brand new member of the Genovian royal family, From the Notebooks of Middle School Princess.

I hope you’ll enjoy this trip back to Genovia! Long live us all, because we’re ALL Genovian princesses, in our hearts!

XOXOXO Meg

 

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14. Book tour!

Look what’s coming to a town near you! Well, hopefully….

My Princess Diaries/Middle School Princess book tour!

 

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Here are just a few of the places I’ll be this spring/summer.  Not all my events/signings have been finalized so I’m only listing the ones I know right now for sure.  Stay tuned!

 

Dallas, TX
The RT Booklovers Convention
Thursday, May 14-Saturday, May 16
Click here for events I’m currently scheduled to attend!
(I’ll also be signing on Saturday in YA Alley!)

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From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess tour, official pub day May 19!

Columbia, SC
The South Carolina Book Festival
Sunday, May 17, 4:00 PM
Richland Meeting Room A & B

 

Cincinnati, OH

Joseph-Beth

Monday, May 18, 7PM

 

Naperville, IL

Anderson’s

Tuesday, May 19, 7PM

 

St Paul, MN

Red Balloon

Wednesday, May 20, 6:30-8:30

 

Boulder CO

Boulder Bookshop

Friday, May 22, 6:30PM

 

New York, NY
BEA and Book Con
Friday, May 29-Sunday, May 31:

Friday at Book Expo you’ll find me signing at ________ (info to come!!!!)

Saturday, May 30, 2015
SPOTLIGHT ON ROMANCE: READER LOVE
With Robyn Carr, Kristan Higgins, & Sarah MacLean
2:15PM
Signing directly after

Sunday, May 31, 2015
A New Chapter in Genovia! With the Leading Expert on Genovian Princesses, MEG CABOT
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Signing after

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Princess Diaries Volume 11, Royal Wedding tour, official pub day June 2!

St. Louis, MO
60th Annual IRA Conference (only now it is called ILA)
Keynote Speaker at YA Literature Luncheon
July 19, 2015

 

Columbus, GA
Columbus Children’s Book Festival
Keynote Speaker
September 18 to 19, 2015

 

Brazil
Flica Festival and various other locations to be announced
October 22 to 29, 2015

 

Charleston, SC
YALLFest
November 13 to 14, 2015

 

Book Tour FAQs:

Q: Why aren’t you coming to my town/country?

A:  Authors (like princesses and vampires) can only go where we’re invited, so if I’m not coming to a place near you, it’s because no one (official) asked.  I’m so sorry! Maybe next time.

 

Q: Can I bring books from home for you to sign?

A: It’s really up to the venue. It costs money to fly me to these events, so the venue needs you to buy at least one book at the event. If you do, they might allow me to sign two or more of your books from home.  It’s a great idea to contact the venue in advance to ask!

 

Q: Will you sign other things besides books?

A: Like what? Probably not, that is just weird.

 

Q: Can I get a selfie with you?

A: If it’s OK with the venue, it’s OK with me.

 

Q: Can I bring my tiara?

A: Tiaras are strongly encouraged.

 

That’s it for now!  When I get more info, I’ll be sure to add it.  Check my Twitter and FB pages for the absolute LATEST updates!

 

More Later.

Much love,

Meg

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15. Spring! Contests! New Books!

Spring is here!

I know because these have arrived . . . .

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Oops, no, not those.  Silly me.  I meant these:

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Advanced reader copies of Princess Diaries #11, Royal Wedding, and From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess!

I’m so excited it’s finally here…the 15th Birthday of the publication of The Princess Diaries series, and with it, the first ever ADULT book in the series, and the first ever middle grade book about a whole new princess, for a whole new generation of readers!

If you want a chance to win free copies of these ARCS, enter here by May 1! Or here by April 25!

MSP_GirlsWorld_Contest_v2[2] copyThere’s an even more sensational contest happening here, where you can win not only books, but a $2500 makeover for your bedroom fit for a royal!  (You have to be under 14 in order to enter, so sorry, Mom, you’re disqualified…also you can’t be related to me, I already checked).

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We’re also giving away official Olivia Grace tiaras like the one pictured left (only limited supplies were made). Click here (especially if you’re an international reader…this one is open to you, too.  I wish ALL of these contests were open to international readers, but it is very difficult to send bedroom sets overseas. We even have problems getting ARCs to readers overseas).

 

But never fear if you don’t win any of these contests! Because there’s a 100% guaranteed way you can get your hands on copies of these books:

Buy the finished, actually edited versions!

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess will be available on May 19, and Royal Wedding will be available June 2!

(Please click on those links above for ordering info, and also to visit the beautifully designed web pages we’ve been working so hard on.)


UK Readers

Check out these gorgeous UK covers:

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Middle School Princess (available in the UK May 21)!

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Royal Wedding (available in the UK July 2)!

 pdreissues1-5 UK Princess Diaries releases!

 

Have you ever seen anything as cute? Besides the many cat videos I post on my Twitter and FB pages, of course.

As more international covers (and contests) come in, I’ll post them! I know the books will be available in Brazil, France, Japan, Hungary, and many other countries SOON!


In the meantime, even though I know authors aren’t supposed to read reviews (terrible things can happen if we do), sometimes my agent and editors forward them to me, and I cannot stop myself.  

That’s how I know Kirkus Books says:

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess is “a sweet fantasy, both funny and highly satisfying.” Kirkus went on to give Royal Wedding one of their rare stars, saying “this funny, heartwarming story is royally perfect from start to finish.”

Then Booklist was sweet enough to call Royal Wedding a:

“whirlwind of jaw-dropping, hilarious, and occasionally touching events. Original fans of the series, now adults themselves, will be thrilled with this, but it will be enjoyable for those on either side of Cabot’s extensive fan base.”

Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, Publishers Weekly declared that:

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess is both amusing and entertaining, and Royal Wedding is “pure fun,” going on to say, “Readers who first discovered Cabot’s Princess books as teens will enjoy seeing Mia and Michael all grown up, and new readers will enjoy this sweet contemporary tale. Since this is being billed as the final book in the series, one hopes that Cabot will reconsider and write more of Mia and Michael’s story . . . .”

I have to admit right now I’m hard at work at the moment on sequels of another kind:

  • The next installment of the Olivia Grace, Middle School Princess series (which will be out next year)!
  • A new “Boy” book (this time with TEXTING).
  • Revisions for the 7th Mediator novel, Remembrance (which will be available February 14, 2016).

Hard at work, that is, when a certain someone will allow it:

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(I know my office looks like something out of a hospital ward, but I write in bed, and writing is thirsty work.)

But I’m certainly considering PW‘s advice about some new works featuring Mia and Michael (now that they’ve put it into my head).


In the meantime, I’m also recovering from the massive cold I acquired during our trip last month to Italy (He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog and I just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary there)!

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Just one of our many His and Hers Lunch in Italy. I had no problem finding gluten-free food there!

I also visited the Bologna Book Fair for the first time last month.  Perhaps you read about it in PW? I threw a big 15th Anniversary dinner for The Princess Diaries to thank all of the series’ foreign publishers for their support over the years!  It was so fun.

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Meg with a certain editor at a certain Brazilian publisher

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The MacMillan Middle School Princess party in Bologna!

I’m so excited to continue my tour for Royal Wedding and From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess next month. I’ll post the exact times/places I’ll be visiting as soon as I have a final itinerary, but here’s a sneak peek at my  schedule so far.

Meanwhile, I have to get back to work so I can finish up all of these new books before I hit the road!

But I can’t resist posting one last contest: Click here to register to win this matted 8 1/2 x 11 portrait I drew (medium: pencil) of the artist (ME!) pouring Ball-Gown-In-A-Box on Cinderella so she can go to the ball and charm the socks off everybody.  All funds for the portrait go to raise money for literacy!

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Good luck! And as always, thanks for reading.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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16. Happy Anniversary!

I can’t believe it, but it’s true. 2015 marks the 15th anniversary of the publication of the first book in The Princess Diaries series!

I know. You were just a baby back then.  So was I!  Look at my rosy cheeks!

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Ha ha ha.  Okay, so that photo totally isn’t from 2000.  I don’t have any digital photos of myself from the year 2000!

As regular readers of this blog know, to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of The Princess Diaries, we’re going to be having all sorts of amazing events, contests, and give-aways leading up to two new books in the series that will be released in a mere 100 hundred days (give or take a few)!

Check it:

In ROYAL WEDDING (Princess Diaries XI), Princess Mia’s planned nuptials to longtime love Michael Moscovitz are in jeopardy when the paparazzi uncover a startling secret.Find out what that secret is June 2, 2015 in this first ever adult installment of the Princess Diaries!Learn More | Read Excerpt | Royal Wedding Pinterest page | Follow Princess Diaries

But wait . . . there’s more!

In FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS, you’ll be able to introduce the younger readers in your life to the world of the Princess Diaries (and Genovia) through a fun new heroine – 12 year old Olivia Grace!  Coming on May 19, 2015. Visit Page| Read Excerpt | Follow Princess Diaries |

 

I totally know what some of you are going to ask now:

“Where can I get an ARC* of these books?”

*An ARC is an “advanced reader copy” of a book that publishers sometimes make from the version of your book called the “uncorrected proof.” Authors try to destroy as many ARCs as possible because who the hell wants copies of their book out there with mistakes in it???? are very thankful for this and only wish they had enough ARCs for everyone!

But if you’re a librarian attending ALA Midwinter in Chicago in February, I’ve been told there will be ARCs there. I will be there, too, because my goal of course is to try to destroy as many copies as possible before my publicist asks, “Meg, why are you standing in that Dumpster?” graciously autograph as many possible.  I can’t wait to see you!

Where else will I be in the coming months attempting to stuff my ARCs into recycling bins before unsuspecting readers can be harmed by them signing ARCs (and of course my books that have actually been proofed)?

Click here to find out!

(Schedule not final! Appearances may be added!)

Meanwhile, don’t forget . . . on February 14, 2016 (I know . . . more than a YEAR from now!) I have a very special Valentine’s Day gift for Mediator fans (and readers everywhere)!  I just want you to be prepared, because it’s going to be HOT.

Until then — for instance, for THIS Valentine’s Day — you know what you can do for yourself?  BESIDES go see the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, which I know you’re all doing, because I’m doing it, too (with a ton of friends and a bottle of wine, of course):

Check out the brand new e-versions of my steamy Patricia Cabot novels which have just been released by MacMillan!

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Yes!  Originally only published in paperback under my pen name “Patricia Cabot” (so my grandmother wouldn’t find out I was writing “naughty books”), these are now available for the first time electronically, everywhere ebooks are sold!

(And FYI, Grandma DID find out! And they turned out to be her favorites!  Who knows, they could turn out to be your favorites, too!)

I would like to thank you Chicagoans (and librarians) in advance for letting me spend my birthday with you!  I also think it was very sweet of you to invite Katy Perry to sing on my birthday. I love her! (Some people say she’s only doing it for the Superbowl but those of us born on February 1 – hi, Princess Stephanie of Monaco! – know the truth – that she’s really doing it for us!)

You guys are the best!  Thanks so much for pitching in to already make 2015 our best year yet!!!! XOXOXOX!!!!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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17. 2014: The Year in Review

Happy Holidays!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m pretty honest.  There are some things I can’t say online because I try to be princessy, and princesses aren’t rude (to people’s faces).

But I think we can all agree that 2014 was a pretty terrible year.  Borrowing from kids’ book author Megan McDonald, I started calling Summer of 2014 the Bummer Summer.

Amidst all the many national and global tragedies that occurred, He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog lost his father, and we were forced to put his mother in a nursing home.

And of course the cat, now an only child, has decided to become a solo artist, delighting us with nightly 4AM concertos in the stairwell.

2014 wasn’t all bad, though. Many wonderful people were born, graduated, got jobs, and were married  . . . .

 

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(Find the out of town author at the chic wedding in Palm Springs, CA in the photo above ^^^^.)

Some people celebrated 21 year wedding anniversaries . . . .

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(He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog also refuses to allow his photo in this blog.)

Some people had friends kind enough to take them out on their boats and let them practice driving for when they get their own boats, chasing after rainbows, looking for pots of gold.

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But instead of gold, some people may have ended up running their friends’ boats aground.

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That’s okay though! Because the thing about chasing after rainbows is that even when you don’t find gold at the end of them, you usually end up finding something.

For me that something was the realization that the most important thing in the world is having good friends (who don’t mind if you run their boat aground).  And that home is the place where there’s always a warm drink and someone who’s happy to see you:

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2014 was also a great year for me creatively because, since I didn’t have any books coming out, I could concentrate on writing new ones!

Here’s the long awaited COVER REVEAL for ROYAL WEDDING (Princess Diaries XI)!

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Read a sneak preview of it here!

I can’t WAIT for everyone to read the WHOLE thing when it’s out in stores and e-readers on June 2! (In the US and Canada. Updates on when it will be out in other countries coming soon!) Learn more here.

And for those of you asking for proof that Mia (unlike me) can actually plan a wedding and is not going to elope:

Check out this Royal Wedding Pinterest board that I’ve created (with the help of my immensely talented friend and assistant Ann). Watch Mia and Grandmére duel it out over everything from shoes to bouquets and wedding decor.  New fights added weekly.

Before Royal Wedding hits the shelves, though, stay tuned for my first-ever illustrated (by me!) book, FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS, which will be in stores on May 19!

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Yes! I drew this^^^^!

Middle School Princess will take readers back to Genovia, this time through the illustrated diaries of 12-year-old Olivia Grace, who may or may not be Princess Mia Thermopolis’s long-lost little sister!

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 I did not draw the book cover^^^! I can’t draw crowds!

Only the inside drawings are mine!

 

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That’s Lars, above. ^^^ I drew him.  In case you ever wondered what a Genovian bodyguard looks like.

 

 

Sabine

 

Don’t worry, there are female Genovian bodyguards, too. I drew her, too. ^^^

 

Grandmere

This is Grandmere, with Rommel. ^^^^ I drew her. She is quite fancy, as you can tell.

Read an excerpt here!

Check for more sneak peeks (and chances to win SUPER COOL PRIZES, including advanced reader copies of both Royal Wedding and Middle School Princess) on the Official Princess Diaries page on Facebook. (Accept no substitutes.) A Middle School Princess page is coming soon here!

Middle School Princess was a super fun challenge for me since I couldn’t write it the way I normally do . . . in bed.

 

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Certain people complained I was getting eraser crumbs in the sheets as I was doing my drawings.

So I had to work at my art desk!

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Here is a photo of me there:

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In reality I do not wear dresses when drawing, I wear yoga pants and very crappy t-shirts. This photo is staged. 

 I wouldn’t allow a “realistic photo” as I, like Grandmere, am too vain.

If you’re a Mediator fan, don’t think I abandoned you for 2015, though. I handed in the completed manuscript for Mediator 7, Remembrance, way back in July, but the only release date we could all agree was special enough for the book was Valentine’s Day 2016.

I know what you’re thinking. When did Meg get so mushy?  I don’t know either.

But even though it’s more than a year away, I promise you it’s going to be worth the wait! I’m hoping this book will be the greatest Valentine’s Day gift Mediator fans—and even readers unfamiliar with the series—will ever receive.

(Well, okay, that might be pushing it. Nothing is better than chocolate.)

In the meantime, I would not be doing my duty as royal spokesperson for the Palace of Genovia if I did not remind everyone that:

As a person who tries to act princessy, I don’t believe in sharing too much of my personal baggage with my readers, especially on my social media. To quote Grandmere in Royal Wedding:

“It’s a royal’s job to entertain and enlighten – not burden – her subjects. Your personal baggage should only be shared with your therapist (or the bell boy, of course).”

However, I sometimes feel like people forget that I have two brothers.  One is a white police sergeant. The other is African American.

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Look, it’s me! Stuck in the middle. No wonder I became a writer.

So here is my sincerest wish for the holidays. . . and I don’t think it’s much different than the wish of any big sister:

Could we please try to get along? Remember that most people are good at heart.

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Let’s give love a chance in 2015.

(Yes, that motorcycle cop dressed as Santa is my brother, and yes, that is his wife, Mrs. Cabot-Claus.)

Back to your regularly scheduled blog:

Books make the perfect stocking stuffer!

And here are some free short stories to enjoy while you’re sipping hot chocolate by the fire (or hanging out on the beach).

We’re slowly putting together my tour schedule for 2015. It’s nowhere close to finalized, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the events I’m booked for so far on tour in 2015!

And finally:

THANK YOU SO MUCH for being the most amazing readers, friends, and family a girl could have! I hope you have the best holidays – and new year – ever!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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18. Give a Gift of Books!

The holidays are upon us!  If you want to give the gift of a Meg Cabot book, and you would like an autographed bookplate to put inside of it (plus fun bookmarks and flyers and postcards etc), for FREE, now is the time you should be sending your self-addressed stamped envelope to my PO Box, letting me know how many you need.

Write to:

Meg Cabot
 

P.O. Box 4904
 

Key West, FL 33041-4904

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We’ll try to accommodate you as best we can (although it’s getting a bit close to D-Day)!

 

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You can also send books themselves to be personalized, too, but please also enclose an envelope with the postage on them for their return. Depending on when/how you sent your item, we can’t guarantee we will get it back to you by Christmas (especially since our holiday workshop shuts down the 20th due to our travel plans), but we’ll try.

 

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Your local bookseller will be happy to order any books for you that aren’t currently in stock. All you have to do is ask!

Hope you have a great holiday season, and get all your page proofs in on time!

Oops, wait that’s me, not you. HA!

 

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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19. Valentine Haters, Romance Lovers, And Other Important Things

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Whether you love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is around the corner!

Lots of people have been asking what I’m doing for Valentine’s Day, what to do about their crushes, what I’m working on now, and other important questions.

So below are some of your questions, along with some answers. I hope they help!

(As usual, I’ve tried to protect the questioners anonymity by making up fake names for them, but that doesn’t mean the letters themselves are fake. I will admit to condensing some of them in cases where the details would definitely give away the sender’s identity.)

 

Dear Meg:

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Do you and your husband do anything special?

Signed,

Cupid Lover

 

Dear Cupid Lover,

I definitely love romance. I think the world, needs much, much more of it.

But my guy isn’t a fan of Valentine’s Day (he’s a bit like Michael Moscovitz from The Princess Diaries in this way).*

That doesn’t mean he never brings me flowers or other gifts! He just prefers not to do it on February 14, a day on which a total of $18.6 billion is spent annually. (Wow, that figure is a little bit insane!)

And since we’ve been married for almost 21 years, we must be doing something right.

*See more on this topic below!

 

Dear Meg:

All my friends think the things I like—Valentine’s Day, writing and reading romantic fiction, so-called girly stuff—are stupid. They make fun of me for liking it, which makes me feel really insecure and also sometimes depressed. What should I do?

Love,

Romance Queen

 

Dear Romance Queen,

Here is what you should do:

Keep the books, dump the friends.

Before you dump them all, however, for the fabulous new friends you’re going to make at your local chapter of Romance Writers of America (which I suggest you join right away), try telling your old friends this:

The romance industry earned an estimated $1.4 billion last year, making it the top-performing category in the publishing industry.  The majority of people who read romance (of which there are many sub-genres, the most popular of which is mystery/suspense, like my Heather Wells novels) are college educated women who earn an annual income of between $50,000-$99,000. The majority of them are in a monogamous relationship, and they like to read. A lot.

I hope your friends aren’t suggesting that all of these women are stupid.  That would be pretty sexist (and wrong-headed) of them!

Maybe your friends aren’t aware that historically, things enjoyed primarily by women (or deemed “feminine”) have often been looked down upon as “less important” or “inferior” to things enjoyed primarily by men (or deemed “masculine”).  This includes things having to do with “romance.” (Don’t ask me why, since without romance, none of us would have been born!)

You can try to help educate your friends about all this, but the most important thing right now is to take care of you. You shouldn’t have to go around feeling depressed all the time.

Believe me, I know: I was once in your exact same shoes (I had a couple of friends who kept telling me how stupid I was to love the books I liked to read and write).

So I dumped those friends and stuck with the books.  And everyone knows how that turned out (uh, in case you don’t – multiple #1 New York Times bestselling author of over 25 million copies in 40 countries, etc).

(But when those friends later said they’d learned from their mistake, and how sorry they were, I forgave them. Because the more romance lovers there are in the world, the better! Plus, I’m classy.)

Thanks for writing, and let me know how it goes.

Love,

Meg

 

Dear Meg: 

I really like a boy and for Valentine’s Day I want to tell him. But I don’t know if he likes me back. I’m scared he’s going to laugh at me. Any advice?

Signed,

Crazy in Love

 

Dear Crazy,

If you can’t tell your crush you like him/her on Valentine’s Day, when CAN you tell him/her?

(Well, anytime, really. You don’t HAVE to do it February 14.)

Here are few Do’s and Don’ts on How to Deliver the Perfect Valentine to someone who doesn’t know you like them:

DO be brief, upbeat, and to the point.

A note (or any type of message) that says the equivalent of “Hey, I like you! Want to hang out sometime?” is perfect.

DON’T be soppy or stalkery.

I know you have so many feels, but save the three or four page single-spaced love letters until you know your feelings are returned.

DO give food.

Everyone appreciates chocolate. (But don’t go over the top. No need to spend a fortune. And nothing is less romantic than causing your Valentine to have to go to the ER, so check for known allergens.)

DON’T put your Valentine on the spot.

Don’t give deliver your Valentine in a public place, in front of friends. Text/email/ or otherwise privately deliver your Valentine. This will spare you embarrassment in the unlikely event your feelings aren’t returned.

DON’T freak out if your Valentine doesn’t respond right away.

Sometimes potential Valentines need some time to reflect upon their feelings/eat their chocolate/consult their friends about you. This doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It just means they’re as insecure as you are.

DO communicate.

Ask your Valentine when you next see him/her (after giving him/her some space) what he/she thought of your message/candy/flowers and if he/she would like to go out sometime.

DO prepare for the worst.

Your feelings might not be returned. Hey, it’s not the end of the world. He/she wasn’t good enough for you anyway.

DO hope for the best.

Your feelings might be returned! If you don’t risk telling your crush how you feel, you might not ever find out he/she likes you back, and know the thrill of true romance!

DO remember:

If he/she laughs at you, your crush is a jerk and you’re better off without him/her.

“Faint heart never won fair lad/lady!” GO FOR IT.

Dear Meg,

My boyfriend hates Valentine’s Day. It makes me sooooo sad, because I see all my friends getting stuffed animals and flowers, and I get nothing! I always give my boyfriend a nice card and a gold chain!  What can I do to make him get me a card at least?

Signed,

Depressed

 

Dear Depressed:

Don’t be depressed, because you are not alone! There was a letter just like this to Dear Abby the other day in her column.  Here’s Abby’s great answer:

According to a report on npr.org, the celebration of Valentine’s Day started in ancient Rome and contains elements of both Christian and pre-Christian religions. In the third century A.D., two men named Valentine were executed by the emperor Claudius II in different years on Feb. 14, and a few hundred years later, a pope (Gelasius I) combined St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia — a fertility feast — to replace the pagan ritual. (Research this online if you wish, because I found it fascinating.) The holiday didn’t become romanticized until the Renaissance.

That said, allow me to point out that there are few things more unpleasant than feeling forced to give someone a gift. If you have already discussed this with your boyfriend and he’s still resistant, then instead of focusing on what you’re NOT getting out of this relationship, try focusing on what you ARE getting. It may help you to feel less deprived. – Abigail van Buren

Tip from Meg:

I suggest you stop giving your boyfriend gifts on Valentine’s Day, since he is so strongly against that holiday. Figure out another holiday that you two can celebrate together.  Flexibility (and a sense of humor) is what makes relationships last.

 

Dear Meg: 

Hi, I really love your books. Any time I feel sad, I pull out a book with MEG CABOT on it, and everything seems to get better.  Except one thing: I don’t know where to find a boy like Michael from The Princess Diaries or Jesse from The Mediator or John Hayden from the Abandon series or Cooper from the Size 12 series or Will from Avalon High or Chaz from Queen of Babble or Rob from the Vanished series or Lucien from Insatiable. Do boys like that even exist?

Never Been Anyone’s Valentine

Dear Never Been,

If you’re asking if it is true that there exists in the world young men who are kind, loyal, and respectful of women, then the answer is yes.

If you’re asking if these young men also rule the Underworld, are impossibly handsome and rich with washboard abs, then the answer is no, I made those parts up!

If you’re wondering how/where to meet guys like the ones mentioned above, just look around. They are everywhere, looking for a girl like you. They might be a little intimidated by you and need you to make the first move, though.

Love,

Meg

Dear Meg,

What are you working on now? When is a new book of yours coming out? I heard a rumor you’re working on a 7th Mediator book. If this were true, it would be the best Valentine’s Day present ever, especially if you could let me read a tiny sneak preview.

Book Worm

 

Dear Book,

Well, it is true, but I’m taking my time with it to make it absolutely perfect, and also working on a few other (secret) projects.

Thank you very much for the support, but I can’t give out any sneak peeks of anything at this time, since I always need to change something later. Most writers I know go back and tweak early scenes all the way until the very last chapter!

But as soon as I feel like I can share, you all will be the first to know!

In the meantime, please enjoy  this amazing Valentine’s Day Pinterest Board, for both Valentine’s Day Lovers and Haters alike! And have a VERY HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

MC_valentines_day_facebookl_2014_v01

More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

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20. 1O Tips for an Amazing Spring Break

I love Spring Break so much that I moved to Florida so I can have Spring Break every time I step outside (except during hurricane season, of course).

But that doesn’t mean I had great Spring Breaks as a kid/teen/twenty-something! Quite the opposite.

That’s why I’m posting some tips on how to make the most of your break (assuming you’re going somewhere . . . and even if you’re not, there are still some valuable insights here). I hope after reading this you’ll avoid the mistakes that I, as a rookie Spring Breaker, made. Good luck!

Tip #1:  Make sure you’re traveling with someone who likes to wake up early so he/she can go down to the pool/beach to reserve a sunny spot for you. Preferably a place like this:

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Tip #2: Don’t waste your money on a rental car (there’s never any parking near the beach anyway). The best way to get around is by renting bikes (or walking). That way you can work off all those nachos you had last night (mmm, nachos).

If you rent scooters (like Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal in that 80s cop classic, Running Scared), take corners slowly, or you’ll end up spending your vacation with road burn in the local ER. Ew!

Click here to view the embedded video.

Tip #3: Nothing spoils a vacation faster than sunburn (except road burn), so use sunscreen! You’ll still get a tan.

L1010800SPF 50

Use biodegradable sunscreen if you’re going snorkeling. SPF is good for us but not the coral reef!

Tip #4: Do creepy crawlers love you? They definitely love me (remember when I got lyme disease?).

Always check your beach chair, hat, and towel for living things that might have crawled into them while you were in the bathroom/surf/bar. Nothing’s worse than putting on your sun hat only to have a tick/snake/crab crawl out from under it and into your face (except sunburn and road burn).

Tip #5: Insects aren’t the only creepy crawlers who might try to sneak into your personal space(s)! While there’s always a chance you’ll meet your one true love on vacation, remember what Mom (and the Lifetime Movie Channel) said about strangers with candy (or PBR).

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So just like you should remember to check your sun hat for snakes before putting it on, remember never to drink from an open container that’s been out of your sight, or accept a drink from someone you don’t know well. Take it from a former assistant dorm director (yes, all those stories from the Heather Wells books are true)!

Tip #6: Leave the local wildlife where you found it so others can enjoy it after you (unless of course you have a license to kill it for food, like this guy):

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Tip #7: Whether you’re vacationing or stay-cationing it, if you’ve spent the past few months studying (or shoveling snow), you NEED to relax with a new read!

Only what?  Click here for a breakdown of the most popular books by state, according to Scribd’s e-book library. (I love that  The Princess Diaries is the most checked out Scribd library e-book in Missouri.)

Interested in reading other books based on (fictional) people’s diaries or emails? (I know I can’t resist.) Then you might enjoy:

Daddy Long Legs and Dear Enemy by Jean Webster (only $3.99 for both on the Nook!)

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Daddy Long Legs is about an orphaned girl who’s required to write monthly letters to her rich benefactor, whom she’s never met. (You can probably guess what happens from there, but it’s HOW it happens that’s so great.) Dear Enemy is the pseudo sequel.

Along that same vein, an HR rep and a corporate lawyer hate each other in my epistolary novel told entirely in letters, emails, instant message conversations, minutes from meetings, and diary entries in Boy Meets Girl.

boy-meets-girl1

Did you know the Nazis occupied the Channel Islands in World War II (just outside England)? You can learn history while being uplifted and entertained at the same time with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. (I promise you there is so much humor and romance in this book that you’ll forget the  strange title, and even the Nazis.)

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Do you like re-tellings of famous stories? Epic Reads posted a great chart the other day featuring 162 retellings of fairy tales, classics, myths and more (although they skipped a few of my favorites, including one I wrote,  Avalon High, based on the myth of King Arthur).

They also didn’t include a cool new re-telling of Sleeping Beauty that I just read, While Beauty Slept, (but that’s because While Beauty Slept isn’t YA, it’s adult).

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Like any book nerd, I wondered how Elizabeth Blackwell was going to pull off a historic re-telling of Sleeping Beauty and still have “Beauty” (who is not the narrator) sleep for a hundred years. Well, she does it in an intriguing way. I just noticed People Magazine gave this book a rave review. Great as either a beach or fireside read!

One last Spring Break rec:

In honor of its 50th Anniversary, Random House is releasing a special edition of the amazing Harriet the Spy, with tributes from many authors who adore both Harriet and late author Louise Fitzhugh, including Judy Blume, myself, Lois Lowry, Rebecca Stead, and many more.  If you haven’t read Harriet in a while (or never met her), pay a visit.

harriet

Tip # 8: Obey local laws, even if you don’t understand them.  They’re there for your safety.

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Danger! No pushing over rocks at the beach!

Tip #9: Don’t let your dentist convince you that Spring Break would be an excellent time to remove your wisdom teeth. This actually happened to me. You can read a fictionalized account of it here.

Tip #10: Island style is casual. No need to dress up . . . unless you want to!

Oscarparty

HWSNBNITB and I went tropical style to this year’s Oscar party

Whether you’re stay-cationing (like me) or vacationing this Spring, hope these tips help!

I also hope that all your Spring Break dreams come true, no snakes or ticks crawl out of your hat, and that you get to keep your wisdom teeth. Unless of course you don’t want them.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

 

 

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21. The 95%, or Where the Rest of Us Went to College

Well, it’s that time again: High school seniors have found out where they’re going to college next year, and are either celebrating, or filled with despair (or maybe somewhere in between).

I certainly hope you (or your loved ones) fall into the celebration category.

But if you don’t, you aren’t alone. Thanks to the easier to submit “electronic” Common App, more people than ever applied to “elite” or top tier colleges.  This has led to more people than ever–95%–getting rejected. (Source: The New York Times)

I know not making it into your dream school (or even your second or third or fourth choice school) hurts. But fear not if you or your loved one is among the 95%, because I have good news:

Everything is going to be fine.

How do I know?

Because most of us fall into the 95%.  And because of facts.

Fact #1:

Did you know that in a new Gallup poll given to business leaders, only 9% ranked where an applicant went to college as “very important”?  They were more concerned with the applicant’s “knowledge” and “applied skills.” (Source: Inside Higher Ed)

Personally when I’m hiring someone (and I’ve employed a shockingly high amount of people in my lifetime), I rank “fashion sense” and “humor” as most important. But we all have our foibles.

Fact #2:

Just because your friend Tara got into your dream school and you didn’t doesn’t mean Tara is smarter or more talented than you are. Maybe Tara’s mom knows someone, or Tara got an interview, or Tara said something that really clicked on a personal level with someone reading her essay.

(As someone who worked in a college for 10 years, I can assure you that this happens A LOT. When any kid wrote/drew something on a form that made me laugh, I gave that kid anything he/she wanted. Work is boring.)

Do NOT take rejection personally. Make like Elsa in Frozen and let it go.

Fact #3:

“I don’t care where someone went to school,” says Warren Buffett, richest man on the planet (who attended University of Nebraska-Lincoln). “That never caused me to hire anyone or buy a business.” (Source:  The Wall Street Journal)

Warren prefers to work with people who make him laugh, too.  See?

Fact #4:

A vast variety of schools have yielded Fortune 500 CEOs. They include Southern Methodist University (#10 on the list) Texas A&M (#13), San Diego State (#16), Purdue (#18), University of Michigan (#18), and University of Kansas (#20). Indiana University tied with Northwestern (6 MBA  grads each). (Source: Poets and Quants.com)

Fact #5:

“You can go to a top-end school and end up dramatically underperforming, or you can go to a place that cares, and blow away what everyone thinks,” says Bill Green, retired CEO of global Accenture management consulting firm.

Green feels angry when he encounters “parents who are afraid or ashamed to say their son or daughter is attending a community college,” he says. Green attended a very small private college (Dean), and was very close to his professors there. (Source:  The Wall Street Journal)

Fact #6:

While I can completely understand the appeal of the Ivy’s since they’re so heavily endowed that they can offer free tuition to students from low-income families, and I know people think that going to a top tier school is necessary for networking, networking (and financial aid) is also available at state, technical, and community colleges as well. So are scholarships.

Fact #7:

Half of all college students go to community (or technical) college at some point in their lives. (Source: Business Insider)

So why, when it’s not necessary, and has even been proven to be harmful to them, do kids (and often their parents) put so much pressure on themselves to get into these top tier schools (aside from the free tuition, of course)?

Fact #8:

Some of that pressure may come from the schools themselves. By getting their application numbers up, the schools can advertise the following year about how popular (and selective) they are.

Many schools do this by sending marketing materials to perspective applicants they’re fully aware have no hope of being admitted. (Source: The New York Times)

Fact #9:

I know several college guidance counselors who complain that they can mention all the other many fine schools that are out there until they are blue in the face, but some young people (and occasionally their parents) are still only interested in the more famous “name brand” schools.

These students only want what they consider the “best,” because they’ve been told all their lives by the media (and often their parents) that they “deserve the best.”

But the  “best fit” often isn’t a “name brand” school, just as “name brand” jeans don’t look good on everyone. We all have to find our own style.

Fact #10:

We all know that an education at an elite school is no guarantee of success later in life.  Take a look at some of these Very Bad Ivy League Scandals.

I will close now with these uplifting facts for anyone feeling glum about their educational future:

Uplifting Fact #1:

My idol, George Lucas, who wrote and directed Star Wars, began his educational career at Modesto Junior College (studying anthropology, which makes sense if you consider the Ewoks), and Walt Disney, who won 48 Academy awards and 7 Emmys, went to Metropolitan Junior College in Missouri. Both community colleges! (Source:  Business Insider)

Uplifting Fact #2:

John Grisham went to Northwest Mississippi Community College, then later Cleveland Delta State University before attending Mississippi State, where he studied accounting and then finally attained a law degree. None of this appears to have interfered whatsoever with his becoming the author of A Time To Kill, one of the bestselling suspense novels of all time. (Source: Huffington Post)

Uplifting Fact #3:

Other well known writers who studied everything but writing at non-Ivy League schools include myself (art major, Indiana University) and Barbara Kingsolver (author of The Poisonwood Bible) who studied classical piano and then biology before finally earning a masters degree in Ecology from the University of Arizona.

Uplifting Fact #4:

Sue Monk Kidd got a BS in Nursing from Texas Christian University before getting her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, published when she was 54. 

Uplifting Fact #5:

JK Rowling famously applied to Oxford but was rejected, “only” to go University of Exeter, where she studied French and Classical Literature. (The University of Exeter sounds pretty good to me.)

Uplifting Fact #6: 

Finally, remember: it’s not about where you get your education.  It’s about how hard you study while you’re there, what you do with what you learn, and the kind of person you strive to be after graduation that really matters.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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22. The 95%, or Where the Rest of Us Went to College

Well, it’s that time again: High school seniors have found out where they’re going to college next year, and are either celebrating, or filled with despair (or maybe somewhere in between).

I certainly hope you (or your loved ones) fall into the celebration category.

But if you don’t, you aren’t alone. Thanks to the easier to submit “electronic” Common App, more people than ever applied to “elite” or top tier colleges.  This has led to more people than ever–95%–getting rejected. (Source: The New York Times)

I know not making it into your dream school (or even your second or third or fourth choice school) hurts. But fear not if you or your loved one is among the 95%, because I have good news:

Everything is going to be fine.

How do I know?

Because most of us fall into the 95%.  And because of facts.

Fact #1:

Did you know that in a new Gallup poll given to business leaders, only 9% ranked where an applicant went to college as “very important”?  They were more concerned with the applicant’s “knowledge” and “applied skills.” (Source: Inside Higher Ed)

Personally when I’m hiring someone (and I’ve employed a shockingly high amount of people in my lifetime), I rank “fashion sense” and “humor” as most important. But we all have our foibles.

Fact #2:

Just because your friend Tara got into your dream school and you didn’t doesn’t mean Tara is smarter or more talented than you are. Maybe Tara’s mom knows someone, or Tara got an interview, or Tara said something that really clicked on a personal level with someone reading her essay.

(As someone who worked in a college for 10 years, I can assure you that this happens A LOT. When any kid wrote/drew something on a form that made me laugh, I gave that kid anything he/she wanted. Work is boring.)

Do NOT take rejection personally. Make like Elsa in Frozen and let it go.

Fact #3:

“I don’t care where someone went to school,” says Warren Buffett, richest man on the planet (who attended University of Nebraska-Lincoln). “That never caused me to hire anyone or buy a business.” (Source:  The Wall Street Journal)

Warren prefers to work with people who make him laugh, too.  See?

Fact #4:

A vast variety of schools have yielded Fortune 500 CEOs. They include Southern Methodist University (#10 on the list) Texas A&M (#13), San Diego State (#16), Purdue (#18), University of Michigan (#18), and University of Kansas (#20). Indiana University tied with Northwestern (6 MBA  grads each). (Source: Poets and Quants.com)

Fact #5:

“You can go to a top-end school and end up dramatically underperforming, or you can go to a place that cares, and blow away what everyone thinks,” says Bill Green, retired CEO of global Accenture management consulting firm.

Green feels angry when he encounters “parents who are afraid or ashamed to say their son or daughter is attending a community college,” he says. Green attended a very small private college (Dean), and was very close to his professors there. (Source:  The Wall Street Journal)

Fact #6:

While I can completely understand the appeal of the Ivy’s since they’re so heavily endowed that they can offer free tuition to students from low-income families, and I know people think that going to a top tier school is necessary for networking, networking (and financial aid) is also available at state, technical, and community colleges as well. So are scholarships.

Fact #7:

Half of all college students go to community (or technical) college at some point in their lives. (Source: Business Insider)

So why, when it’s not necessary, and has even been proven to be harmful to them, do kids (and often their parents) put so much pressure on themselves to get into these top tier schools (aside from the free tuition, of course)?

Fact #8:

Some of that pressure may come from the schools themselves. By getting their application numbers up, the schools can advertise the following year about how popular (and selective) they are.

Many schools do this by sending marketing materials to perspective applicants they’re fully aware have no hope of being admitted. (Source: The New York Times)

Fact #9:

I know several college guidance counselors who complain that they can mention all the other many fine schools that are out there until they are blue in the face, but some young people (and occasionally their parents) are still only interested in the more famous “name brand” schools.

These students only want what they consider the “best,” because they’ve been told all their lives by the media (and often their parents) that they “deserve the best.”

But the  “best fit” often isn’t a “name brand” school, just as “name brand” jeans don’t look good on everyone. We all have to find our own style.

Fact #10:

We all know that an education at an elite school is no guarantee of success later in life.  Take a look at some of these Very Bad Ivy League Scandals.

I will close now with these uplifting facts for anyone feeling glum about their educational future:

Uplifting Fact #1:

My idol, George Lucas, who wrote and directed Star Wars, began his educational career at Modesto Junior College (studying anthropology, which makes sense if you consider the Ewoks), and Walt Disney, who won 48 Academy awards and 7 Emmys, went to Metropolitan Junior College in Missouri. Both community colleges! (Source:  Business Insider)

Uplifting Fact #2:

John Grisham went to Northwest Mississippi Community College, then later Cleveland Delta State University before attending Mississippi State, where he studied accounting and then finally attained a law degree. None of this appears to have interfered whatsoever with his becoming the author of A Time To Kill, one of the bestselling suspense novels of all time. (Source: Huffington Post)

Uplifting Fact #3:

Other well known writers who studied everything but writing at non-Ivy League schools include myself (art major, Indiana University) and Barbara Kingsolver (author of The Poisonwood Bible) who studied classical piano and then biology before finally earning a masters degree in Ecology from the University of Arizona.

Uplifting Fact #4:

Sue Monk Kidd got a BS in Nursing from Texas Christian University before getting her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, published when she was 54. 

Uplifting Fact #5:

JK Rowling famously applied to Oxford but was rejected, “only” to go University of Exeter, where she studied French and Classical Literature. (The University of Exeter sounds pretty good to me.)

Uplifting Fact #6: 

Finally, remember: it’s not about where you get your education.  It’s about how hard you study while you’re there, what you do with what you learn, and the kind of person you strive to be after graduation that really matters.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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23. New For 2015 From Meg Cabot

You: “Hey, Meg, why don’t you have any books coming out in 2014?”

Me: “Because I’ve been so busy on a couple secret projects!”

Thanks to this exclusive story from the Wall Street Journal, they aren’t so secret anymore.

2015 is a special year for me. It marks the 15th Anniversary of the publication of The Princess Diaries, Volume 1, and Shadowland, Book 1 in The Mediator series. To celebrate this, in Summer 2015, I’ll be releasing three new books:  two in the Princess Diaries series, and one in the Mediator series!

Here’s the scoop:

 

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 Mediator 7

In REMEMBRANCE (William Morrow), the seventh installment of the Mediator series, all Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva).

But when she stumbles across an ancient murder, old ghosts—and ex-boyfriends—aren’t all that come back to haunt her.

REMEMBRANCE will be the first ever adult installment of the Mediator, published by the adult division of HarperCollins, the company that brought you the YA books in the series.

 

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Princess Diaries XI

In ROYAL WEDDING (William Morrow), Princess Diaries XI, Princess Mia’s planned nuptials to longtime love Michael Moscovitz are in jeopardy when the paparazzi uncover a startling secret: Mia has a long lost younger sister.

Now a scheming politico is using the royal scandal to force Mia’s father from the throne, leaving Genovia without a monarch . . . unless Mia can prove to everyone—especially herself—that she’s finally fit to rule.

ROYAL WEDDING will be the first ever adult installment of the Princess Diaries, published by the adult division of HarperCollins, the company that brought you the YA books in the series.

But don’t worry! Even though these will both be released as adult books in Summer 2015, you’ll also be able to share the princess power with your favorite younger reader:

In FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS (Macmillan) a new middle grade series, I’m taking readers back to Genovia, this time through the illustrated diaries of a spunky new heroine, 12 year old Olivia Grace, who happens to be the long lost half-sister of Princess Mia Thermopolis.

I’m super excited to be working with Jean Feiwel of Feiwel & Friends (a publisher of innovative fiction and non-fiction at Macmillan) with a new character for a younger audience. Olivia Grace has a biracial background, and that has a special resonance for me and my family. I’m hoping readers will be as excited about it as I am!

‘From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess’  marks the first time I’ve illustrated my own children’s fiction (even though I have a BA in Fine Arts from Indiana University, and I moved to New York City originally to be an illustrator! It’s just one of those things that never worked out until now.  Although being a bestselling author has been OK, too).  I’m SO grateful to Macmillan (and Jean Feiwel) for helping to make it happen!

Genovia Royal Family 2

 Art not final. Obviously! This is a sample sketch I did of Olivia and Mia!

I love both the Princess Diaries and the Mediator series because I have so much in common with those characters. Mia is bad at math, like me; Suze has a bad attitude, like me; Mia loves animals and creative writing, like me; Suze loves fashion and sees ghosts, like me. (Ha, kidding, only Suze sees ghosts.)

And now Mia has a younger mixed race sibling, like me (only mine is adopted. And a boy.  And I highly doubt Mia will fight with her sibling over the TV remote like I used to do with mine. Also, Mia is more than ten years older than Olivia Grace, so they don’t really watch the same TV shows. And in the palace in Genovia, there’s more than one television).

Genovia Royal Family 1

 

Art not final! Obviously Grandmere won’t have cocktail glasses in her portrait in the real book! It’s for kids!

I’ve been planning this book for some time. I got the inspiration a few years ago from actual goings-on in the royal family of Monaco (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to brush up on your royal family gossip). Of course there are major differences between Genovia and Monaco. For one thing, all children born to the heir to the throne of Genovia are in line to inherit. This is not so in Monaco. And for another thing, Michael Moscovitz is  not Grace Kelly.

I’m guessing some longtime readers of the Princess Diaries series are wondering, “But didn’t Mia’s dad, Prince Philippe, say he couldn’t have any more kids?” Well, you’ll just have to wait to read ROYAL WEDDING (and ‘FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS’) to find out the details!

(For those of you going, “Wait . . . didn’t her dad die in the movie?” for the last time, Mia’s father is alive in the books.)

For those of you wondering if Paul Slater is in Mediator 7,  the answer is yes, he is. There are a lot of comments I could make about that but I will restrain myself.

You may have noticed that I don’t have any public appearances scheduled for 2014.  That’s because I’m gearing up for such a busy 2015! 

(PS For those of you who regularly follow this blog who are wondering what happened to the boat I was buying, I’m still testing out which kind of boat I want.  But my friends who own boats have grown tired of my pointing at myself and saying, “I’m the captain now,” then taking over the wheel–though that joke NEVER gets tired to me. So I figured it was time to go back to writing for a bit.)

In the meantime, stay tuned to this blog and to my social media network feeds for updates, news, and maybe even a chance to win some sneak peeks at the upcoming books (like this one. You can bid to win a sneak peek chapter of either Royal Wedding or Remembrance, in addition to a complete signed set of the Princess Diaries series. AND all the money goes to diabetes research)!

As always, thanks for reading!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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24. 9/11: Keep It From Happening Again

Every year teachers let me know that the post below about my experience living in Manhattan a few dozen blocks from the World Trade on 9/11 has become part of their classroom curriculum, so I continue to post it annually.

I think it’s especially important to post this year given the fact that the other day I overheard some guy ask: “Why should we care if a few Westerners want to join ISIS? What’s the worst that could happen?”

I’d like to think this guy is just some random butthole, but given a new study I just read that only 54% of the world’s population has ever heard of the Holocaust, I think some people have forgotten about 9/11, or think it was only about “a few buildings” getting blown up, not thousands of normal every day people just like you and me dying in the most horrible ways imaginable simply because they did what most of us do every morning: They went to work.

And now, only 13 years later, another “radical terrorist group” has sprung up in the Middle East. Some Westerners think they aren’t “that much of a threat,” or even that their “cause” has merit.  Um, what?

Look, I get it. 9/11 is depressing. This has been a bummer summer.  We’d all rather read about the Royal Wedding of Princess Mia and Michael Moscovitz. But it won’t be available until 2015.

And a writer’s job isn’t only to entertain: It’s to record the tragedies of history so they won’t be forgotten and repeated, and also to point out acts of heroism so that they’ll inspire others to act similarly in future events.  So read on.  There’s tragedy in this, but there’s plenty of inspirational heroism, too, I promise.

 

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Meg’s 9/11 Diary

9/11/01 started out as one of those super nice fall days where the sky was cloudlessly blue and it was just warm enough, but not hot. My LA friends call that “earthquake weather.”

So we probably should have known something awful was going to happen, but most of us didn’t.

My husband had woken up early to go jogging before leaving for work at his job as a financial writer at One Liberty Plaza, which was across the street from the World Trade Center.

He has never been jogging again.

Not being a morning person, I was still asleep in my apartment on 12th Street and 4th Avenue, about a dozen blocks from the Trade Center, when the first plane hit. Our windows were closed and the air conditioning was on. I didn’t hear a thing until my friend Jen called.

Jen: “Look out your window.”

That is when I saw the smoke for the first time.

Me: “What’s happening?”

Jen: “They’re saying a plane hit the Trade Center.”

Me: “But how could the pilot not see it?”

Jen: “I don’t know. Isn’t that near where your husband works?”

It was. I couldn’t see his building from our apartment, but I could see the World Trade Center.  The black smoke billowing from it had to be going right into my husband’s busy investment office on the 60th or so floor.

“I better call him to see if he’s okay,” I said, and hung up to do so.

There was no answer at my husband’s office, however, which was crazy, because over a hundred people worked there.

Were they all right? I didn’t know. I couldn’t get through to anyone anywhere. I couldn’t make any outgoing calls from either of my phones that day. For some reason, people could call me, but I couldn’t call anyone else.

It turned out this was due to the massive volume of calls going on in my part of the city that day, both on cell and land lines.

But I didn’t know that then.

Sirens started up. It was the engine from the firehouse directly across the street from my apartment building. It was a very small firehouse, but it was always bustling with activity. All the young, handsome guys used to sit outside it on folding chairs on nice days like the one on 9/11, joshing with the neighbors who were walking their dogs, with my doormen, with the neighborhood kids. The old ladies on my street always brought them cookies.The firemen, in turn, always had treats for the old ladies’ dogs.

Now all the firemen from the station across from my apartment building were hurrying to the fire downtown, throwing on their gear and urgently blaring the horn on their truck.

Every last one of those young, brave boys would be dead in exactly one hour. Their truck would be crushed beyond recognition.  That firehouse would sit empty and draped in black bunting for months.  No one would be able to look at it without crying.

Of course none of us knew it then.

I turned on New York 1, the local news channel for New York City. Pat Kiernan, my favorite newscaster, was saying that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

Weird, I thought. Was the pilot drunk? How could someone not see a building that big, and run into it with a plane?

It was right then that Luz, my housekeeper, showed up. I’d forgotten it was Tuesday, the day she comes to clean. When she saw what I was watching, she looked worried.

“I just dropped my son off at his college,” she said. “It’s right next to the World Trade Center.”

“My husband works across the street from the World Trade Center,” I said.

“Is he all right?” Luz wanted to know. “What’s happening down there?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I can’t reach him.”

Luz tried to call her son on his cell phone. She, too, could not get through.

We didn’t know then that our cell servers used towers that were located on top of the World Trade Center, and they all had stopped working due to the intensity of the flames shooting up the building.

We both stood there staring at the TV, not really knowing what to do. It was as we were watching that something weird happened on the TV, right before our eyes:

The OTHER tower at the World Trade Center — the one that hadn’t been hit — suddenly exploded.

I thought maybe one of the helicopters that was filming the disaster had gotten too close.

But Luz said, “No. A plane hit it. I saw it. That was a plane.”

I hadn’t seen a plane. I said, “No. How could that be? There can’t be TWO drunk pilots.”

“You don’t understand,” Luz said. “They’re doing this on purpose.”

“No,” I said. “Of course they aren’t. Who would do that?”

That’s when Pat Kiernan, on the TV, said, “Oh, my God.”

It’s weird to hear a newscaster say, “Oh, my God.” Especially Pat. He is always very professional.

Also, Pat’s voice cracked when he said it. Like he was about to cry.

But newscasters don’t cry.

“Another plane has hit the World Trade Center,” Pat said. “It looks as if another plane — a commercial jet — has hit the World Trade Center. And we are getting reports that a plane has just hit the Pentagon.”

That’s when I grabbed Luz. And Luz grabbed me. We both started to cry. We sat on the couch in my living room, hugging each other, and crying as we watched what was happening on TV, which was what was happening a dozen blocks from where we sat, where both the people we loved were.

We could see things flying out of the burning buildings. Pat said that those things were people.  People were choosing to jump from their offices in the World Trade Center rather than burn to death.  They couldn’t escape the flames, and rescuers couldn’t reach them.

But their offices were sixty to ninety floors from the ground.  Some of them were holding hands with their colleagues as they jumped. Many of them were women.  You could tell by the way their skirts ballooned out behind them as they raced towards the pavement below.

Luz and I sobbed.  We didn’t want to watch, but we couldn’t stop.  This was happening in our city, just down the street, to people we saw every day. Who would do this? Who would do something like this to New Yorkers?

That’s when my phone rang. I grabbed it, but it wasn’t my husband. It was his mother. Where was he? she wanted to know. Was he all right?

I said I didn’t know. I said I was trying to keep the line clear, in case he called. She said she understood but to call her as soon as I heard anything, and hung up.

Then the phone rang again. It was my husband’s sister-in-law. Then it rang again. It was MY mother.

The phone rang all morning. It was never my husband. It was always family or friends, wondering if he was all right.

“I don’t know,” I kept telling them. “I don’t know.”

Luz went up to the roof of my building to see if she could see anything more from there than what they were showing on New York 1. While she was gone, I went into my bedroom to get dressed (I was still wearing my pajamas).

All I could think, as I looked into my closet, trying to figure out what to wear, was that my husband was probably dead. I didn’t see how anybody could be down in that part of Manhattan and still be alive. All I could see were things falling —and people jumping — out of those buildings. Anyone on the streets down below would have to be killed by all of that. The jumping people couldn’t choose where they landed.

I remember exactly what I put on that day: olive green capris and a black T-shirt, with my black Steve Madden slides. I remember thinking, “This will be my Identifying My Dead Husband’s Body outfit. I will never, ever wear it again after this day.”

I knew this because when I worked at the dorm at NYU, we had quite a few students kill themselves, in various ways. Every time a body was discovered, it was so horrible. All the first responders involved in the discovery could never wear the same clothes we wore that day again, because of the memory.

Luz came back down from the roof, very excited. No, she hadn’t seen if the buildings in which my husband and her son were in were all right. But she’d seen thousands — THOUSANDS — of people coming down 4th Avenue, the busy street I lived on at the time. 4th Avenue is always heavily trafficked with honking cars, buses, taxis, bike messengers, and scooters.

Not today. Today all the cars and buses were gone, and the entire avenue was crowded with people.

“Walking,” Luz said. “They’re WALKING DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET.”

I ran to look out the window. Luz was right. Instead of the constant stream of cars I’d gotten used to seeing outside our living room window, I saw wall to wall people. They had taken over the street. They were coming from the Battery, where the Trade Center is located, shoulder to shoulder, ten deep in the middle of the road, like a parade or a rally. There were tens of thousands of them.

There were men in business suits, and some in khakis. There were women in skirts and dresses, walking barefoot or in shredded pantyhose, holding their shoes because their high heels hurt too much and they hadn’t had time to grab their commuter running shoes. I saw the ladies who worked in the manicure shop across the street from my building running outside with the flip flops they put on their customers’ feet when they’ve had a pedicure (the flip flops the staff always make sure they get back before you leave).

But today, the staff was giving the flip flops to the women who were barefoot. They were giving away the flip flops.

That’s when I got REALLY freaked out.

The manicurists weren’t the only ones trying to help. The men who worked in the deli on the corner were running outside with bottles of water to give to the hot, thirsty marchers. New York City deli owners, GIVING water away. Usually they charged $2.

It was like the world had turned upside down.

“They have to be in there,” Luz said, about her son and my husband, pointing to the crowd. “They’re walking with them, and that’s what’s taking them so long to get here.”

“I hope you’re right,” I said. But I wasn’t sure I shared her faith.

Then Luz ran downstairs to see if anyone in the crowd was coming from the same college her son went to, to ask if anyone might have seen him.

I was afraid to leave my apartment, though, because I thought my husband might try to call. Not knowing what else to do, I logged onto the computer. My email was still working, even if the phones weren’t. I emailed my husband: WHERE ARE YOU?

No reply.

A friend from Indiana had emailed to ask if there was anything she could do. At the time, the only thing I could think of was, Give blood.

My friend, and everyone she knew, gave blood that day. So many people gave blood that there were lines around the corner to give it.

After a month, a lot of that surplus blood had to be destroyed, because they didn’t have room to store it all. And there turned out to be no use for it, anyway. There were few survivors to give blood to.

My friend Jen, the one who’d woken me up, e’d me from her job at NYU. Fred (out of respect for this person’s desire for anonymity, I have changed his name here), then one of Jen’s employees, and also a volunteer EMT, had jumped on his bike and headed downtown to see if there was anything he could do to help.

Jen herself was organizing a massive effort to set up shelter for students who didn’t live on campus, since the subways and commuter trains had stopped running, and the kids who commuted to school had no way of getting home that night. Jen was trying to arrange for cots to be set up in the gym for them.

She ended up staying in the city too that night. She had no way to get back to her house in Connecticut.

Another co-worker from NYU, my friend Jack, did manage to reach his spouse, who worked in the Trade Center, that day. Jack used to train the RAs. He would ask me to “interrupt” his training with a fake administrative temper tantrum — “Why are you in this room?” I would demand. “You never reserved it!”— and then he and I would “fight” about it, and then after I left Jack would ask the RAs what would have been a better way to handle the situation . . . and by the way, did any of them remember what I was wearing? After they’d tell him, he’d have me come back into the room, and point out that every single of them was wrong about what I’d had on. This was to show how unreliable witness testimony can be.

Jack’s wife had just walked eighty floors down one of the Towers to reach the ground safely since the elevators weren’t working due to the flames, only to realize the guys in her IT department were still up there, backing up data for the company. Once she reached the ground, and saw how bad things really were, she tried calling them to tell them to forget backing up and just COME DOWN, but of course she couldn’t get hold of them because no phones were working.

So she went back up to MAKE THEM come down, because who doesn’t love their IT guys?

“Why did you go back up?” Jack asked her, when he finally reached her. By that time she, along with the IT guys, had become trapped in the fire and smoke, and couldn’t make their way down again.

“It seemed like the right thing to do,” she said.

Of course it did. She was married to Jack. Jack would have done the same thing. She told Jack to say good bye to their twins toddlers for her. That was the last time they spoke.

I can never think of this, or of Jack’s happy, cheerful greeting every time I saw him, or the stunned looks on the RAs faces when they realized we’d pulled one over on them, without wanting to cry. It seems so unfair that those twins have had to grow up not knowing their mother. And for what reason?

Another friend, a pilot who had access to air traffic control radar, e’d me to say all the planes in the U.S. were being grounded — that what had happened had been the result of highjackings. That it was a commercial jet that had hit the Pentagon, where my friend’s father-in-law worked (they eventually found him, safe and sound. He’d been stuck in traffic on his way to the Pentagon when the plane hit.  Many people that day were rewarded for tardiness).

But another friend – a girl I’d worked with when I’d been a receptionist in my husband’s office, a girl whom I’d helped pick out a wedding dress, and who, since the big day, had quit her job to raise the four kids she’d had – wasn’t so lucky. She never saw her husband, who worked at the Trade Center, again.

Then, behind me, I heard Pat Kiernan on the TV say, “Oh, my God,” again.

And this time he really WAS crying. Because one of the towers was collapsing.

I watched, not believing my eyes. Since having moved to New York City in 1989, I had become accustomed to using the Twin Towers as my own personal compass point for the direction “South,” since they’re on the southern tip of the island, and visible from dozens of blocks away. Wherever you were in the maze of streets that made up the Village, all you had to do to orient yourself was find the Twin Towers, and you knew which direction to go.

(If you ever watched closely during the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” you can see the towers beneath the Washington Square arch in the scene where Sally drops Harry off when they first arrive in New York.)

And now one of those towers was coming down.

I don’t remember anything else about that moment except that, as I watched the TV in horror, the front door to my apartment opened, and, assuming it was Luz back from the street, I turned to tell her, “It’s falling down! It’s FALLING DOWN!”

Only it wasn’t Luz. It was my husband.

He said, “What’s falling down? Why are you crying?”

Because HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON.

Because my husband, being my husband, had picked up his briefcase after the first plane hit and said, “Let’s go,” to everyone in his department, took the elevators downstairs, and insisted everyone start walking for our apartment, because it was the closest place to where they were that seemed unlikely to be hit by an airplane.

(He told me later he’d worried they were going to try for the Stock Exchange, or the federal buildings you always see on Law and Order, and so had made everyone take small side streets home around those buildings, which is why it took them so long to get there).

They had to dodge the bodies of the people who jumped from the burning towers because they couldn’t stand the heat anymore. They saw the desk chairs and PCs that had been blown out of the offices so high above littering the street like tickertape from a parade. They saw the second plane hit while they were on the street, and ducked into a cell phone store until the rubble from the explosion settled. A piece of plane, nearly twenty feet long, flew past them, and landed in a parking lot, just missing Trinity Church, one of the oldest churches in this country.

And they kept walking.

I don’t know what people normally do when someone they love, who they were convinced was dead, suddenly walks through the door. All I know is how I reacted: I flung my arms around him. And then I started yelling, “WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME?”

“I tried, I couldn’t get through,” he said. “What’s falling down?”

Because they had no idea. All they knew was that the city was under attack (which they had surmised by all the airplanes).

So my husband and his colleagues gathered in our living room—hot, thirsty, but alive, the ones who lived in New Jersey wondering how (and if) they were going to get home.  Eventually, that night, they managed to catch boat rides – see the film below.

Despite all the horror and misery of that day, there many, many acts of heroic bravery that continue to make me proud to be a human (and, let’s face it, an American). The “boat lift” from Manhattan is one of them. It is completely worth watching this short documentary about it by Tom Hanks if you have not seen it already.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Meanwhile, Luz, not wanting to go home until she’d heard from her son, who was supposed to meet her after class in my building, cleaned.

I told her not to, but she said it helped keep her mind off what was happening.

So she vacuumed, while eleven people sat in my two room apartment and watched the Twin Towers fall.

It wasn’t long after the second tower came down that our friends David and Susan from Indiana, who lived in a beautiful condo in the shadow of the Twin Towers with their two young children, showed up at our door, their kids and half the employees from their office (which was also in our neighborhood) behind them.

They had been some of the people shown on the news escaping from the massive dust cloud that erupted when the towers fell. They’d abandoned their daughter’s stroller and run for it, while shop owners tossed water on their backs as they passed by, to keep their clothes from catching on fire.

In their typical way, however, they had stopped on their way to our place to pick up some bagels.

For all they knew, their apartment was burning down, or being buried under ten feet of rubble. But they’d stopped for bagels, because they’d been worried people might be hungry. Or maybe people just do things in times like that to try to be normal. I don’t know. They didn’t forget the cream cheese, either.

I took the kids into my bedroom, where there was a second TV, because I didn’t think they should see what everyone was watching in the living room, which was footage of what they had just escaped from.

I set up my Playstation for Jake, who was seven or so at the time, to use, while Shai, just turning 4, and I did a puzzle on my floor. Both kids were worried about Mr. Fluff, their pet rabbit, whom they’d been forced to leave behind in their apartment, because there’d been no time to get him (their parents had run from work and grabbed both kids from school).

“Do you think he’s all right?” Jake wanted to know.

At the time, I didn’t see how anything south of Canal Street could be alive, but I told Jake I was sure Mr. Fluff was fine.

This was when Shai and I had the following conversation:

“Are planes going to fly into THIS building?” Shai wanted to know. She was crying as she looked out the windows of my thirteenth floor apartment.

Me: “No. No planes are going to fly into this building.”

Shai: “How do you know?”

Me: “Because all the planes are grounded. No more planes are allowed in the air.”

Shai: “Ever?”

Me: “No. Just until the bad guys who did this get caught.”

Shai: “Who’s going to catch the bad guys?”

Me: “The police will catch them.”

Shai: “No, they won’t. All the police are dead. I saw them going into the building that just fell down.”

Me (trying not to cry): “Shai. Not all the police are dead.”

Shai (crying harder): “Yes, they ARE. I SAW THEM.”

Me (showing Shai a picture from my family photo album of a policeman in his uniform): “Shai, this is my brother, Matt. He’s a policeman. And he’s not dead, I promise. And he, and other policemen like him, and probably even the Army, will catch the bad guys.”

Shai (no longer crying): “Okay.”

And she went back to her puzzle.

Watching from my living room window, we saw the crowds of people streaming out from what was soon to be called Ground Zero, thin to a trickle, then stop altogether. That was when 4th Avenue became crowded with vehicular traffic again. But not taxis or bike messengers.

Soon, our building was shaking from the wheels of hundreds of Humvees and Army trucks, as the National Guard moved in. The Village was blockaded from 14th Street down. You couldn’t come in or out of the neighborhood without showing proof that you lived there (a piece of mail with your name and address on it, along with a photo ID).

The next day, after having spent the night on our fold-out couch in the living room, Shai’s parents snuck back to their apartment (they had to sneak, because the National Guard wasn’t letting anyone at all, even with proof that they lived there, into the area. For weeks afterwards, on every corner from 14th Street down, stood a National Guardsman, armed with an assault rifle. For days, you couldn’t get milk, bread, or a newspaper below Union Square because they weren’t allowing any delivery trucks — or any vehicles at all, except Army vehicles — into the area), and found Mr. Fluff alive and well.

They snuck him back out, so that later that day, we were able to put the entire family on a bus to the Hamptons, where they lived for the rest of the year.

As my husband and I were walking back to our apartment from the bus stop where we’d seen off our friends, we saw a familiar face standing on the corner of 4th Avenue and 12th Street, where we lived:

Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton, asking people in our neighborhood if we were all right, and if there was anything they could do to help.

I didn’t go up to shake the ex-President’s hand, because I was too shy.

But I stood there watching him and Chelsea, and something about seeing them, so genuinely concerned and kind (and not there for press or publicity, because there WAS no press, there was never any mention of their visit AT ALL in any newspaper or on any news broadcast I saw that day), made me burst into tears, after having held them in the whole time Shai had been in my apartment, since I didn’t want to upset her.

But you couldn’t NOT cry. It was impossible. Everyone was doing it …so much so that the deli across the street put a sign in its window: “No Crying, Please.” Our doormen were crying. Even Rudy Giuliani, New York City’s mayor (whom I will admit up until this crisis I had not particularly liked for cheating on his very nice wife, Donna Hanover, who used to be on the Food Network), kept crying.

But he also kept showing up on New York 1, no matter what time you turned it on, even at two in the morning, there he was, like he never slept, always crying but also telling us It’s going to be all right, which was BRILLIANT.

The same day we put Shai and her family on a bus to the Hamptons, September 12 — which also happened to be poor Shai’s birthday — companies (even RIVAL companies) all over Manhattan offered up their conference rooms and spare offices to all the businesses in the Trade Center and One Liberty Plaza that had lost theirs, including my husband’s company, so that they would be able to remain solvent, another act of kindness that never gets mentioned anywhere, but should.

Since he was the only person in the company who lived downtown, my husband was elected for the duty of removing all the sensitive data from their now mostly destroyed office, which meant he had to pass through the Brooks Brothers in his building’s foyer, from which he had bought so many of his business shirts and ties. The Brooks Brothers at One Liberty Plaza was now serving as Ground Zero’s morgue.

While under escort of the National Guard, he and guardsmen–the first to enter his floor since the event–found a body in an emergency stairwell. It was determined to be the body of someone from another office, who had probably suffered a heart attack while trying to evacuate One Liberty. The body was removed and taken to the morgue while my husband watched. (He threw away the clothes he wore that day.)

For the next week in Lower Manhattan, even if you wanted to forget, for a minute, what had happened on that cloudless Tuesday morning, you couldn’t. The front window of my apartment building filled with Missing Person posters of loved ones that had been lost in the Trade Center. The outside walls of St. Vincent’s Hospital were papered with them as well, and Union Square, at 14th Street, became an impromptu memorial to the dead, filled with candles and flowers. So did the front doors of every local fire station, including the one across the street from my building. The old ladies who used to bring cookies there stood in front of it and cried.

You couldn’t go outside during that week — until it finally rained Friday night, four days later – without smelling the acrid smoke from Ground Zero … and, in fact, you were encouraged to wear surgical masks outdoors. An eerie grey fog covered everything. Some of us tried to brave it by not wearing masks — like Londoners during the Blitz — meeting for lunch like nothing had happened, but the smoke made your eyes burn. I have no idea how the rescue workers at Ground Zero could bear it, and I’m not surprised so many of them now have respiratory diseases and cancer.

It wasn’t until employees from a barbecue restaurant drove all the way to Manhattan from Memphis, and stationed their tanker-sized smokers right next to Ground Zero, and then started giving away free barbecue to all the rescue workers there for weeks on end, that the smell changed to something other than death. Everyone loved those guys. It was just barbecue.

Except it wasn’t just barbecue. It was a sign that, as the mayor kept assuring us, things were going to be all right.

But of course, for a lot of New Yorkers that day, things were never going to be all right again. While I was celebrating the fact that my husband had come home, Fred – Jen’s employee, the volunteer EMT who had ridden his bike downtown to see if there was anything he could do – couldn’t find his crew. This was before the buildings fell, before anyone had any idea those buildings COULD fall, when the police and firemen were still streaming into them, confident they could get people out.

The crew that Fred normally volunteered with were inside one of those buildings, helping people down the stairs. Fred couldn’t find them, because all the cell towers were down, and communication was so sketchy. Someone told Fred to drive a bus they’d found, to help evacuate people out of the World Trade Center area.

Fred didn’t want to be outside driving a bus. He wanted to be inside with his crew, saving people.

But since he couldn’t find his crew, he agreed to drive the bus.

Then the buildings came down. Later, Fred found out that the crew he normally volunteered with had been one of the many rescue squads buried under the rubble.

Like a lot of the rescue workers who lost coworkers in the attack, Fred seemed to feel guilty about having survived, while his friends had not. Even when all his NYU co-workers pitched in and bought him a new bike (after his old one got buried beneath rubble at Ground Zero), Fred couldn’t seem to shake his sadness. It was like he didn’t believe he’d done any good that day.

“All I did,” he said, “was drive a stupid bus.”

But that’s not all he did. Because remember Luz’s son?

Well, he showed up at my apartment not long after Jake and Shai and their parents did. Luz grabbed him and kissed him and shook him and cried, and when she finally let go of him, he told his story:

He had been heading towards — not away from – the towers, because he’d wanted to help, he said. A lot like Fred.

But suddenly, from out of nowhere, someone grabbed him from behind, and threw him onto a stupid bus.

“But I want to stay and help!” Luz’s son yelled at the guy who’d grabbed him.

“Not today,” Fred said.

And he drove Luz’s son, and all the other students from that community college to safety, just before the towers fell.

Now more than a decade has passed since 9/11. A year or two after finding that body, and the company he worked for got back on its feet, my husband decided financial writing wasn’t for him.  He decided to follow a lifelong dream: he enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. He got to work with chefs like Jacques Pepin. At his graduation, Michael Lamonaco–who ran Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of the Twin Towers. Michael is another person who happened to be late to work on 9/11–offered my husband a job in his new restaurant.

He declined, however, because we were moving to Key West, where the pace of life is a little bit slower. Michael said he completely understood.

Luz and her family are doing fine. Fred is now married with two children, and head of his own division at NYU. Mr. Fluff did eventually die, but of natural causes. Jake is thinking about law school, and Shai is touring colleges. Shai’s mother says her daughter has no memory whatsoever of that day, or of the conversation she and I had, or of the promise I made her — that we’d catch the bad guys.

Shai, however, says she does remember our conversation, and that I was right: we did catch the bad guys.

Of course, now there are some new bad guys out there. That’s no big surprise.  You can never catch them all.

But the important thing is that we never forget . . . and that we never stop trying.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

The post 9/11: Keep It From Happening Again appeared first on Meg Cabot.

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25. 25 More Things You Don’t Know About Meg

1.  Meg’s written over 80 books which have been published in 38 countries, including the US, UK, Brazil, France, Germany, Poland, and Japan, among many others.

 

2.  She has over 25 million books in print.

 

3.  Meg was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008 (it runs in her family), which is sad because most of her favorite foods have gluten in them.

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4.  But don’t feel sorry for her because many of Meg’s books have been #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, in addition to being USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and BookSense bestsellers. So she’s doing OK, except for the gluten thing.  And there is no gluten in wine.

 

5.  Meg wrote and illustrated her first story at the age of 7. It was called “Benny the Puppy.” Benny’s entire family dies in a freak prairie tornado.

 

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6.  Meg’s writing career began in 1998 when her first historical romance for adults, Where Roses Grow Wild, was published under the pen name Patricia Cabot (so Meg’s grandmother wouldn’t know she was writing books with sex in them).

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Her grandmother found out, though, so now all Meg’s books are published under her real name.

 

7.  The Princess Diaries was rejected by almost every publisher in North America with the exception of Avon/HarperCollins.

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8. The American Library Association called The Princess Diaries: “Like reading a note from your best friend.”

 

9.  Meg met her husband when she was 16, but they didn’t start dating until she was 24. They have been married for over 20 years.

 

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10.  Meg’s “Boy” books are popular world wide because of their “short chapters,” “realistic but romantic plots,” and “satisfying” endings.  The “Boy” books are told in text, email, and journal format.


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11. Meg can name all fifty states in alphabetical order in less than 30 seconds and has won quite a bit of money from people who bet that she could not do so.

 

12. Meg’s been blogging since 2003. Her post about her experience on 9/11 has been incorporated into the curriculum of some classrooms.

 

13. Meg’s 1-800-Where-R-You series (now re-titled Vanished) was made into a television series called Missing starring Vivica A Fox and Mark Consuelos. It ran on the Lifetime Channel for 3 seasons.

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14. Meg is an insomniac. That’s how she’s written so many books.

 

15. All author proceeds from Meg’s historical romance novel, Ransom My Heart, are donated to Greenpeace. Meg has also contributed 100% of the proceeds from stories she’s written for anthologies to the Teenage Cancer Trust, War Child, No Strings, Lisa Libraries, Kids Company, the New York Public Libraries, Reading Is Fundamental, The Lower Eastside Girls Club of New York City, First Book, the UN Refugee Agency, and Girls Write Now. To see a complete list of all the books Meg has written, including the anthologies, go here.

 

16. Meg’s mom was an extra in the Oscar-winning 1979 coming-of-age film Breaking Away.  You can read Meg’s mom’s texts to Meg on Meg’s Twitter.

 

17. The summer of 2015 will mark the 15th Anniversary of  The Princess Diaries and Mediator series.  To celebrate, Meg will be releasing two new adult sequels: Remembrance, Mediator #7, and Royal Wedding, Princess Diaries #11. A third book, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, will also be available, and will introduce a brand new princess.  Read more here.

 

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18. The best gift Meg has been given by a fan (so far) is a life-size, papier-mâché replica of Princess Mia’s cat, Fat Louie.

 

19.  Meg is a member of the Author’s Guild, the Screenwriters Guild, The Romance Writers of America, and Literati with Lyme, which helps raise awareness about lyme disease, which Meg contracted in 2002. Meg believes everyone should be tested yearly for lyme, even people like her who hate hiking.

 

20. Avalon High, a modern re-telling of the myth of Camelot, was a New York Times and Publishers Weekly best seller; selected by the New York Public Library as a “Book for the Teen Age”; named to the Texas Lone Star Reading List; nominated as an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Kentucky Bluegrass Award, Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award, and YALSA Popular Paperback; and was made into a Disney Channel movie.

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21. Meg owns a home in Indiana that was made from two converted barns.

 

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22. Meg enjoys supporting young writers and has judged the Seventeen Magazine Fiction Contest several times.

 

23. In 1994, when Meg was 26, her father passed away suddenly. He inspired Meg’s own love of genre fiction by reading a mystery novel a day, but he died before he ever read a single one of her published works. Meg hopes he’d enjoy them, especially the Mediator series, which he helped inspire.

 

24. Meg likes cats, reading, watching TV, swimming, bike riding, boating, and being in the sun. Meg does not like cars, coffee, cell phones or cold weather.

 

25. Meg’s been called “the master of her genre” by Publishers Weekly, but her favorite accomplishment so far is writing books that fans call their favorite “comfort read.” She hopes to continue to keep doing so for a long time.

 

More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

 

 

 

 

The post 25 More Things You Don’t Know About Meg appeared first on Meg Cabot.

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