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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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26. 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me

1. I’m left handed.

2. In order to correct a speech impediment, I was taken out of class a few times a week during elementary school to visit a speech and hearing specialist (just like in the movie The King’s Speech. Except I was never in line to inherit a throne).

When I’d come back to class, some of the other kids would tease me, calling me a “dummy” who had to go to “special ed.” (Sadly that’s as creative as they got.)

3. I often wrote about my dislike for those kids in my diaries.

4. I kept all those diaries, and routinely insert scenes from them into the novels I now write as an adult. Many of those novels have gone on to become bestselling books (click here for a list of them), as well as movies and TV shows. They’ve become part of mainstream pop culture in ways that can be surprising.

P1000045

5. The kids from elementary school who teased me about being a dummy are super nice to me now.

6. A quote of which I’m often reminded is from a favorite book of mine, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

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

But I do not make sport of my neighbors. Except the ones who used to call me a dummy.

7. To see quotes from my own books, visit my Tumblr: Things My Characters Say.

If you have some favorite quotes from my books, submit them via Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #megcabotsays. Maybe we’ll post them!

8. My husband (also known as He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog) is left-handed, too.

9. Our cat, Slutty-McSlut-A-Lot (real name: Gem, because according to HWSNBNITB, she is a precious jewel) is not left handed, but she will not come when called, leading us to believe she is either deaf or highly disdainful of humans.

10. If you’d like to see pictures of Gem, you’ll find a few on my Instagram account here.

11. You will not find any photos of He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog, however, because he asked me ten years ago (when I first started keeping this blog) never to write about or post photos of him because he thinks social media networking is weird, and we are all going to regret posting so much personal information about ourselves online.

12. He could be right.

13. April 1st, 2013 will be my 20th wedding anniversary with HWSNBNITB.

14. We eloped on April Fools Day because HWSNBNITB thinks only fools get married.

15. He could be right.

16. We eloped to a small village in northern Italy called Diano San Pietro.

17. When the mayor of Diano San Pietro found out we wanted to get married on April Fools Day, he thought we were playing a joke on him and wouldn’t perform the ceremony. He said (in Italian):

“Why can’t you go back to the US and get married in Las Vegas like normal Americans?”

18. We had to get local villagers to help convince the mayor that we were serious. He finally agreed to marry us, but only if we donated 50,000 lira to the local “children’s fund.”

19. When the mayor showed up to the ceremony, he was wearing his soccer coaching uniform because he didn’t think we’d really be there. Only when he saw me in my wedding “dress” did he quickly change into a suit and tie.

20. If you want to read more about our Italian elopement, you can read the slightly fictionalized account I wrote in my book, “Every Boy’s Got One”.

21. A good adult book I’ve enjoyed reading lately is Donna Thorland’s The Turncoat

“A combination of historical espionage and smoldering romance, Thorland’s first novel is a surprising and engrossing tale. Immersing the reader in 1777 Philadelphia, sweeping from decadent high-society balls to the filth of battlefield infirmaries, Thorland exhibits real passion for the time period. Fans of Philippa Gregory and Loretta Chase will find The Turncoat a thrilling read.” –Booklist

Watch the book trailer (one of the best I’ve ever seen):

Click here to view the embedded video.

22. I won’t have a new adult book coming out until September 2013: the 5th installment in the Heather Wells mystery series Size 12 is the New Black.

23. My next YA book is the final book in a paranormal series Abandon, about a teen girl who gets kidnapped by the lord of the underworld and taken to live with him in the dark realm of the dead. It will be out in July 2013.

In the myth of Persephone, the heroine can’t come out of the underworld until spring.

24. Spring was my least favorite season when I was a teen, because I always made it a point to hate everything that was popular (maybe because it was the popular kids who called me a dummy when I had to go to Speech and Hearing classes). When I was 13, I did not like pizza, top forty music, YA, other kids, flowers, unicorns, koala bears, and I most definitely would not have liked books by Meg Cabot.

25. Now that I’m an adult, I realize that things – including most people – are not as bad as I used to think.

Most popular things, as a matter of fact, become popular for a reason: they’re nice and make you feel good, so it’s OK to let down your guard and like them (once you’re done making sport of them).

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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27. Meg Cabot’s Characters Pick Their Oscar Favorites

Well, the Oscars are this weekend so I interviewed some of my characters to find out what their picks are for Best Movie of the Year. Their choices might surprise you … or not:

Princess Mia Thermopolis, heroine of the The Princess Diaries series:

It’s really hard to say which was my favorite movie this year because they were all so good. So many of them were educational (particularly to me as the heir to the throne of Genovia)!

Argo was a great example of the lengths I might need to go to in order to rescue citizens of my country if they are ever trapped in a foreign land.

Lincoln is a fantastic historical piece about a leader I hope to one day emulate.

And in the unlikely event of a terrorist attack on Genovia, I too will assemble an elite team of military operatives — headed by my single-minded best friend Lilly Moscovitz and her computer genius brother, my boyfriend Michael — who will devote themselves to tracking down the bad guys, just like in Zero Dark Thirty.

I feel obligated add that my bodyguard Lars enthusiastically volunteered to be the Royal Torturer after he saw Zero Dark Thirty.

This is an example of the many kinds of things with which you have to put up when you are a royal. It’s not all “What Are You Wearing?” and Royal Baby Bump Watch. It’s “Can I Be The Royal Torturer?”

I had to remind Lars that in Genovia, we don’t allow torture … and that we would not, even in the unlikely event of a terrorist attack.

But he looked so disappointed that I finally relented and told him he could be in charge of converting one of Genovia’s many five star hotels into a prison for whatever terrorists the elite team of military operatives manage to catch, since our current jail only has three cells in it (and those are always filled with whichever of Grandmére’s boyfriends failed to pay their bar tabs). So that made him really happy.

Seriously, it’s hard being a princess! But we learned that this year from the movie Brave.

Pierce Oliviera, heroine of the Abandon series:

Movies? Who has time to see movies? Some of us are busy trying to protect our boyfriends and/or family members from murderous demons.

And FYI, they don’t have movie theaters or DVD players in the Underworld, where I’m currently living.

Jess Mastriani, heroine of the Vanished series (also known as 1-800-Where-R-You) :

My pick for best movie of the year would be Battleship. Yeah, I know it isn’t on the list.
That’s the Academy’s problem, not mine.

I was particularly impressed with Rhianna’s role as weapons specialist Gunner’s Mate Second Class Cora Raikes. My favorite part was when GM2 Raikes saved the life of Riggins from Friday Night Lights by blowing away that alien.

Rhianna, call me if that guy you keep hanging out with in real life gives you anymore trouble. I know where he lives.

How do I know where he lives? Because I know everything. Unfortunately.

Heather Wells, heroine of the Size Twelve series:

I haven’t had a chance to see any movies because I’m busy planning my wedding to my private eye boyfriend. What? Oh, thanks, I know, he is pretty hot, isn’t he?

Anyway, do you have any idea what it’s like to work in a place nicknamed “Death Dorm” by the press because every semester some student (or my boss or whoever) manages to get him or herself killed here? It’s no picnic, let me tell you.

But if I were going to see one of the Best Picture picks it would be Django Unchained because let me tell you, Jamie Foxx and Leonardo Di Caprio in a battle to the death over Kerry Washington? Yes, please.

Wait, you weren’t taping that, were you? Can you play it back? I didn’t say anything that could get me fired, did I? Because I get really good benefits working here, so I don’t want to lose my job, despite the whole murder thing.

Suze Simon, heroine of The Mediator series:

Seriously? You want to know which Oscar pick I liked best this year? I can tell you which one bored the crap out of me: Life of Pi. My boyfriend Jesse dragged me to see it without telling me what it’s about. It turns out it’s about some guy trapped in a lifeboat with a tiger.

Jesse says it’s an allegory about God or religion or something and he really appreciated it after having spent two hundred years being trapped as a ghost in my house.

I said, “Really, Jesse? Do I look like a tiger to you? Have I ever eaten a zebra? Listen, when I want to spend my hard-earned entertainment dollars on an allegory, I’ll go to Disneyland and take a ride on Space Mountain. In the meantime, shut up and kiss me.”

So he did.

Jesse can pick out the movie anytime if that’s what’s going to happen ;-) . But otherwise, no more movies about anyone trapped in a lifeboat with anything.

Lizzie Nichols, Queen of Babble series:

Oh my God, the costumes in Les Miserables were to die for. And – ha! What do you know? She did!

Oh, should I have said spoiler alert? Darn, I’m always doing that.

Allie Finkle, heroine of the Allie Finkle Rules for Girls series:

I pick Beasts of the Southern Wild, which my uncle Jay took me to even though my mom said not to because it would give me nightmares. She was totally right!

But it was still a good movie. It’s about a girl like me, only she’s practically in first grade instead of fourth, and she has to keep from dying in a horrible flood, which my uncle Jay said is totally going to happen to this planet if we keep abusing our precious resources.

So the rule is, stop abusing our precious resources and you won’t cause a big flood in the future for that poor girl in the movie. The end.

Samantha Madison, heroine of the All American Girl series:

David and I saw Amour at the White House. The President of France was there, because it was a special screening just for him and David’s parents, the President and First Lady.

That movie was so sweet, but also sad, because it was about old people in love who are dying. I cried like a big baby. It was totally embarrassing.

From now on I’m making David see movies in the theater, like a normal person. I don’t care if we have to take the Secret Service with us. I can’t take this anymore. Who cries in front of the President of France? Me, it turns out.

Emerson Watts, heroine of the Airhead series:

Well, I know it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, but I’m going to have to say my favorite movie of the year was Skyfall. It really spoke to me as someone who knows what it’s like to have a ruthless killer trying to assassinate her. That’s all I can say about that due to the court mandated gag order.

Meena Harper, heroine of the Insatiable series:

I have to say, I really enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook. The story was entertaining, the romance believable, and the male lead, played by Bradley Cooper, reminded me of a certain someone I happen to know, especially his obsessive hatred of completely arbitrary things, such as American literary heroes.

(Alaric Wulf breaks in: I do not hate Ernest Hemingway.)

MH: Well, you don’t like him.

AW: I don’t hate him, though.

MH: You said Tender is the Night is a piece of garbage and threw it overboard the last time we took the boat out to go snorkeling.

AW: It fell overboard.

MH: Because you ripped it in half and threw both halves into the water!

AW: I do feel that that particular author might be overrated.

MH: And you claim you bear no resemblance whatsoever to the guy Bradley Cooper played in Silver Linings Playbook?

AW: Physically, yes, I’m very attractive, and I’ve strangled numerous individuals with shower cords, but none of them were human, and none of them lived to tell the tale.

MH: I rest my case.

Well, this has been Meg Cabot’s Characters Pick Their Oscar Favorites with your host, Meg Cabot. Thanks for reading! Please note that the views expressed above are not necessarily my views, but those of my characters, some of whom are suffering from post-traumatic stress. Tune in again soon when we’ll hear from Jean Honeywell from Jinx and Ellie from Avalon High about their views on St. Patrick’s Day.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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28. Report from Downton Cabot: Life Goes On

This isn’t the blog entry I was hoping to write to start off the new year, but life doesn’t always go the way we plan.

As many of you have already learned via Twitter and Facebook, Lady Fussypants, also known as Henrietta, passed away peacefully in her cat bed two weeks ago. Cause of death: Old Age.

Please do not feel bad. Henrietta lived from 1993-2013. Twenty years is a very long life for a cat, especially for a cat found as a tiny kitten in a trash can in Brooklyn, or as the natives call it, the 718.

Henrietta

According to the “cat years calculator” a cat that lives 20 years is 97 years old!

No wonder in her later years Henrietta became a bit fussy.

Still, like the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey, we loved her very much, and she will be missed.

Meg and Henrietta
The one time Henrietta ever voluntarily posed in a photo with me.

Henrietta’s likes were drinking from the caps of water bottles at the side of the bathtub . . . .

Henrietta

. . . and sleeping under piles of pillows. If you attempted to remove these pillows (such as, to get into bed), Henrietta’s claws would dart out from beneath them and give you a mighty thrashing. It was easier simply to sleep in a different bed.

Henrietta

Her most violent dislikes were my desk (she liked to poop under it. Reason behind this dislike remains a mystery), and “Downstairs.” As a one-eyed cat who had lived most of her life in a New York City apartment, when we moved to a house in Key West with a second floor, Henrietta decided the concept of “Downstairs” was simply too much for her. She chose to ignore it, and remain “Upstairs,” guarding it vigilantly from outsiders, for the rest of her life.

Henrietta
“I know I look sweet, but I weel keel you if I don’t know you and you come up these stairs.”

When our secondary cat, Lady Slutty-McSlut-A-Lot (also known as Gem), noticed my husband on the street one day and then attached herself bodily to him, Henrietta made it known that this new cat was not allowed “Upstairs.” Slutty was to remain “Downstairs” at all times.

The few times Slutty attempted to come “Upstairs,” she received a mighty thrashing from Henrietta for her efforts. After that, Slutty knew always to remain “Downstairs,” or face the wrath of Lady Fussypants.

Henrietta
“I am the queen of this house. Now scratch my spotted belly.”

Now that Henrietta has gone permanently to the Great Upstairs in the Sky, Slutty has not once attempted to venture “Upstairs,” even though we’ve tried to show her that it’s now safe to do so.

For our efforts, we received a mighty thrashing from Lady Slutty, who then streaked back “Downstairs,” which she clearly believes is her right and proper place in this world.

I guess this would be like if someone tried to get Daisy from the kitchens of “Downton Abbey” to come live in the Dowager Countess’s rooms. Daisy knows “t’would not be proper.”

Henrietta
“More water please in my tiny bowls. NOW.”

Henrietta’s remains are where she would have wanted them, close by, and I thank you for allowing me to entertain you with stories about her for so many years. Thank you, too, for the many messages of sympathy you have sent via Twitter and Henrietta’s Tribute page on Facebook. They are truly appreciated by He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog and myself, as are the many funny stores we have received from those who knew Henrietta personally.

Henrietta
“This is where I do all my best sleeping . . . and evil plotting.”

Meanwhile, life for the living at Downton Cabot goes on, as it must. I have many projects keeping me busy, including but not limited to the purchase of a boat, fulfilling my lifelong dream of forcing others to call me Captain Meg, a la Captain Kirk.


Andrew Newman/Getty Images

Ha, ha, just kidding, I’m not getting that kind of boat.

But guess what? In the state of Florida, you don’t need a driver’s license to operate a boat or personal watercraft. You just need to be over 14. Shocking but true!

I will, of course, always stay within sight of land, not run over any snorkelers, dolphins, manatees, or sea turtles, and require all of my passengers to know how to swim, just in case we have to abandon ship due to encountering Klingons.

I’m also working on Awaken, the final book in the Abandon series, which will be out in US and Canadian stores (and on e-readers) on July 2, 2013.

Awaken 3

And Book 5 of the Heather Wells series, Size 12 is the New Black, will be in US and Canadian stores (and on e-readers) in September 2013.

A lot of people got excited when a certain gossip blog posted that there might be a new installment of The Princess Diaries series coming soon. That was pure conjecture on the part of that blog (though I appreciate the enthusiasm, and it certainly could happen someday).

But I’m definitely adding a 7th installment to the Mediator series (though it’s not written yet, so don’t expect it anytime soon)! Sometimes inspiration hits when and where you least expect it.

My amazing friends and colleagues, Janey and Ann (who designed the Henrietta Tribute Page), have also been busy, putting up a Meg Cabot Tumblr.

Post your favorite quote from a Meg Cabot book on Twitter using the hashtag #megcabotsays and then keep an eye out… it could end up on my Tumblr!

And as I’m sure you’re aware, Valentine’s Day is around the corner (not that it matters to those of us who will never receive a Valentine from our romantic partners, who, like Michael Moscovitz, believe that Valentine’s Day is a commercial scam . . . which of course it is, but who doesn’t love candy?).

We’re hosting a writing contest here for those of you who wish to vent your feelings about the holiday, pro or con. Keep it to 1,000 words and choose from one of the 5 sentences we’ve supplied (don’t worry, you’ll find one you like) as your first line. Good luck!

And as always, thank you for your support, and for reading. Remember, if there is something in your life that is bothering you, take some advice from Lady Fussypants, and simply poop on it. You’ll feel a whole let better.

In the meantime, be safe, be happy, and be yourself!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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29. Best of 2012

Best of 2012

I can’t believe the holiday season has already snuck up on us. I’m not prepared at all! Although it was nice to get that extra week in this year between Thanksgiving and the alleged Mayan Apocalypse, so at least I got to catch up on all the books I’m late turning in.*

(*This line thrown in for any of my editors reading this. Also, according to the many Mayans I know —for real— the apocalypse is not really going to happen, so we need to stop using this as an excuse for stuff.)

Anyway, if you’re feeling just as harried as I am, you’re probably thrilled by all the “Best Of 2012” lists suddenly appearing everywhere. They make holiday shopping a little easier. I find those lists so helpful, I’ve pulled one together for all of you.*

*Special Note: Some of these things came out prior to 2012, and some of them aren’t necessarily things you can actually buy, they’re just things I like, so I threw them onto the list anyway.

Meg Cabot’s Best* of 2012:

*Before you write to tell me all the “Best” things I missed, remember the word “best” is subjective. In this case, “Best” simply means something I found enjoyable and thought you might, too. I know there are many things I left out. I could not possibly list ALL the “Best” things or this post would be 2,000,000 words long.

Best DVD/Book Set:

The book/DVD combo of PBS’s CALL THE MIDWIFE – Jennifer Worth

This book was already a bestseller in England before it was turned into a hit TV series. Now it’s turned into a surprise hit in the US that all my friends were bugging me to watch on PBS. So I did, and I LOVED it.

Follow the adventures, romances, and incredible pluck of these spunky midwives in 1950s East London. Yes, you will also want to read the bestselling memoirs by Jennifer Worth (Nurse Jenny Lee!) that the show was based on. I’m reading them now and they’re as addictive (and yet heart breaking) as the show. Here’s a clip from the show:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Best Makeup:

Red Lipstick, any kind

Whose idea was it to make wearing red lipstick, 1940s style, stylish again? I don’t know but I LOVE it.

I first started noticing red lipstick on Amber (Mae Whitman) on the excellent TV show Parenthood (LOVE this show). Then I noticed Zooey Deschanel was doing it on The New Girl (LOVE this show too). Now I’m seeing it everywhere.

Cheerful and fun and a great way to say, “Mayan Apocalypse? I’m not afraid of you!”

Best Movie:

Silver Linings Playbook

If you haven’t seen this movie, run out and see it right away. I know you’ve heard it’s about Bradley Cooper being released from a mental institution after beating up the man he finds making out with his wife in their shower, but I promise it’s hilarious, and you’ll love the ending.

It’s not often you come out of a movie feeling really good and ALSO like you just saw a movie about people you actually know (except no one I actually know looks like Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Lawrence) but that’s how you’ll feel after seeing this movie.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Best Graphic Novel:

Unlovable: The Complete Collection by Esther Pearl Watson

I stumbled across these books because I subscribe to BUST Magazine, mainly because I’ve always liked the running comic at the end written and illustrated by Esther Pearl Watson.

Unlovable, set in the 1980s, is about a high school sophomore named Tammy who doesn’t let anything get her down for long. Tammy always champions the underdog without seeming to realize she herself is the biggest underdog around.

I think this book set would make an amazing gift for anyone, any age (well, probably ages 14 and up). These VERY funny books may be called Unlovable, but I adore them (especially Volume Two. Seriously, people, I cried. I keep both these books on my living room coffee table, as they have lovely, sparkly covers).

*Special note: I ordered my second copy from Fantagraphicsand it came with a free signed bookplate from the artist/author. Nice!

Best Dance:

Gangnam Style

Don’t groan. You know you love it! Every time you see a grown man doing the horsey dance, you get a little smile on your face.

My personal favorite gangnam dance video is not the original, but the US Naval Academy’s version, and not just because it was filmed in Annapolis, where my mom lives (and where I just visited for Thanksgiving) and where my book Avalon High is set.

It’s my favorite because it encompasses everything that I love about America: having fun at work, cute guys dancing (in uniform), canons, and boat marinas. (But you know we can get the job done when we need to! Then we all have a beer.)

Click here to view the embedded video.

Best Cookies: (available in a grocery store)

Tate’s Bake Shop

I have celiac disease which means that I can’t eat anything with wheat, barley, or rye in it. Luckily, I have a fantastic baker friend here in Key West named Jimi who makes the most incredible gluten-free cookies you’ve ever tasted!

But this year I randomly discovered the SECOND best gluten free cookies I’ve ever tasted (besides Jimi’s), and you can actually buy them in just about any grocery store, so I thought I’d share: Tate’s Bake Shop cookies.

They come in gluten-free and non-gluten varieties, and the gluten free chocolate chip ones taste JUST LIKE REAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (not as good as Jimi’s, but still really, really good).

They also won some awards.

(I seriously DON’T get free products or money to endorse stuff in my blog – that would be weird considering I am well paid for my job – plus this blog doesn’t get enough hits for anyone to notice when I endorse stuff. I just thought I should mention that. Plus I still haven’t lost my Halloween candy weight. I’m saying all this because I had a brief fantasy that a giant box of free Tate’s cookies might arrive at my door, but this will never happen and if it did it would NOT be a good thing. So I need to get this fantasy out of my head.)

Best Website of the Year:

Click here. If you don’t know who it is, you’re not watching the Best TV Show on Television.

(Okay, people who don’t know what that is, it is Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec. And Ron Swanson doesn’t normally act like that, that is why it’s funny.)

Best YouTube Video to Annoy Your Family: (in case you haven’t seen it already)

Baby Monkey Riding Backwards on a Pig

Click here to view the embedded video.

(I know this video came out in 2011 but someone just sent it to me in 2012. And it doesn’t annoy me, I actually love it.)

Best Use of the Word “Poop” in a Children’s Toy Commercial:

The Orbeez LadyBug Scooper RC (this is in no way an endorsement of this product)

Click here to view the embedded video.

Best Gift for Him that He will Never Use:

Chewbaca cuff links, available at Neiman Marcus for $125.

Best Gift for Her that She Will Totally Use But No One Ever Gets For Her So She Has To Buy It For Herself Every Year:

Jo Malone Grapefruit Body Cream. It’s so luxurious and smells so good and they have done studies that when people wear grapefruit scent, they are perceived as being healthier and looking slimmer. I am not making this up.

Best Projects Created by People I Know (That I Can Think Of Right Now):

This video is by my friend who went through Hurricane Sandy

Click here to view the embedded video.

This is a movement to bail out the people – NOT banks. It’s called Rolling Jubilee, and it’s gaining momentum and getting a lot of press. It’s pretty neat. Check it out:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Best YA Books

Here are some of the best YA books that came out (or are coming) out in 2012. Obviously I couldn’t possibly list all the ones I read, but here are the ones that stick out in my memory:

The Girl In The Park by Mariah Fredericks

I’ve loved all of Mariah’s other books, so it was no surprise to me that this one rocked. As a mystery set in NYC, it had that irresistible Law and Order flavor, except that it was a YA set in an NYC prep school, so it was sort of Gossip Girly. Delicious.

Here’s a fanmade trailer of the book, which I find particularly amazing because it not only sums up the book perfectly, it includes scenes from the movie Clueless.

Click here to view the embedded video.

52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody

52 Reasons is a book about a rich, spoiled heiress who has to spend 52 weeks doing minimum wage jobs her dad picks out for her before she can access her inheritance.

This is a fun, quick read that has everything you could want in the “spoiled rich girl gets her well deserved comeuppance” vein, plus a little something more . . . maybe the rich girl isn’t so bad after all? Plus the book trailer, though not fan made, is really funny.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ghost Flower by Michele Jaffe

I talk to Michele Jaffe almost every day but I didn’t know that not only was her book Ghost Flower an RT Top Pick that won the RT Seal of Excellence for the month of May 2012, it is ALSO a Best 2012 Young Adult Contemporary Novel Nominee and a Best 2012 Book of the Year Nominee. Not that I’m surprised, since I read and loved it, as did everyone on Goodreads, it’s just that of course Michele never said a word to me about winning all these awards, which is so like her.

If you like a good mystery (with a paranormal romantic element), you’ll love Ghost Flower.

KISS ME AGAIN by Rachel Vail

Rachel Vail is another person who never says a word to me when her books win awards (like her middle grade book, Justin Case, won the 2011 Kiddo Award from JAMES PATTERSON himself. But did she tell me? No). She didn’t even tell me KISS ME AGAIN is coming out this month! WHAT??!!!

KISS ME AGAIN is the sequel to IF WE KISSED (which I adored). KISS ME AGAIN asks the immortal question, “What if the boy you were crushing on became your STEPBROTHER?”

Oh. My. God. Everything really does go back to Clueless.

How much do you want to read this book now? I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Best Cover of the Abandon Series

Awaken

I know it’s wrong to give myself a “Best Of” award but I had very little to do with this one, it goes to my publisher and, though some of you may not know it, to YOU! A lot of you have already seen this, since it’s been up for a while on Goodreads, Amazon, and the Scholastic website, and many of you have been asking for details. So here it is, details below:

Awaken 3

–The girl and guy depicted on it are Pierce and John.

–The girl is the same model who played Pierce on both the Abandon and Underworld covers. Isn’t she lovely?

–The pose was my idea (all the poses have been my idea. I like the narrative progression the images tell on the covers . . . on the first cover the girl is dead, on the second she is escaping, and now finally she’s alive, but she must save the boy from dying. It’s nice to have a dead boy on a book cover for a change. But is he really dead? Or will she be able to help him awaken?)

–YOU picked out the male model. (I had a hard time narrowing it down from all the photos of cute male models they sent me, so I sent a select number of YOU emergency emails asking for help choosing – after I’d narrowed it down to about 10 guys. YOU picked this one. We approved. You also wrote back some of the most hilarious responses I’ve ever seen, such as: “This is the best email I’ve EVER gotten!” and “Thanks for making my day!!!” You guys rock. Thanks for always being there for me).

This is not the final cover. The tagline is obviously not, “Death has her in his clutches.” Etc.

–When you fold it out the full cover, you see all of John’s body. I’ll post a link to that image later, when the cover is finalized.

Here are some stills from the shoot:

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Aren’t they a sweet couple? In my imagination the models are now dating in real life and have a labradoodle. Do not disenchant me, reality!

I’m excited for you to read Awaken, but it’s still in the editing process. I blame the fact that I got this gorgeous cover before I was done with the book, and that made me keep going back and revising to make sure the prose was just as lovely.

But I swear it will be worth it!

Have a very happy Hanukah, merry Christmas, and AMAZING New Year! And remember not to count on that Mayan apocalypse, since none of the Mayans who exist today really believe the world is ending on December 21. So get your holiday shopping done!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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30. Letters from Friends and Fans

I get a lot of mail. Here are some letters* I’ve received, as well as my responses.

*All of these letters are guaranteed real. Only some of the names have been changed to protect the identity of the senders.

Dear Meg:

Hi. I hop you have a nais Halloween. What are you goin to be? Im goin to be Allie Finkle for xtra credit in my school.

Frum Lauren

Dear Lauren,

Thank you for your thoughtful letter. I hope you have a nice Halloween as well. I’m pleased you’ve chosen to be one of my characters. Couldn’t we all use a little extra credit?

In answer to your question, for Halloween I plan to be a Honey Badger.

Apparently a million other people also plan to be honey badgers this year. This is fine with me as, like the honey badger, I don’t care.

In case you need inspiration for your costume, the first two books in the Allie Finkle series have been re-released in France with adorable new covers, as well as funny cartoon illustrations, which is a fantastic idea, in my opinion. Here’s what they look like:

I love reading Allie’s rules in French, including this VERY important rule.


Don’t Put Your Cat In A Suitcase.

Dear Meg,

I’m doing a report on you. Where can I find out how many awards you won or whatever?

Crystal

Dear Crystal,

Thanks for writing to me. I think more people should be named Crystal these days, don’t you?

You can find out all about what awards I’ve won on my Wikipedia page. But since I understand many teachers frown on using Wikipedia (although personally I think it should be all right if you back it up with a secondary source), you can also go to the Who She Is section of my website and click the links there, including the new one, Meg in the News. Unfortunately, many of the awards my books have won are listed on the individual book’s webpages, because that’s the way I roll.

An honor I’m very excited about is that the first book in my latest paranormal series for teens, Abandon, was recently voted one of the 2012 Top Ten books for teens, according to the Young Adult Library Services Association.

I’d like to give special thanks to Faythe Arredondo, who wrote about Abandon‘s selection here, and mentioned that my books are one of the reasons she became a youth librarian. Of course you don’t have to put that in your report, since it isn’t really an award, but whenever I read it, it feels like one!

Hey Meg, I follow you on Twitter. Thanks for the followback!

So I’m going to do Nanowrimo this year. Are you? And if you are, what will you be working on?

MediatorFan

Dear MediatorFan,

You’re welcome for the follow back. In answer to your question, yes, I will be participating in Nanowrimo, also known as National Novel Writing Month, this November, as I do every November. I have a number of books I’ll be writing/revising. They are:

Awaken (the final book in the Abandon trilogy, which will hopefully be out in May)

Size 12 is the New Black (current title of the fifth book in the Heather Wells mystery series, which will hopefully be out in July)

And a not yet titled story for an anthology for my Brazilian publisher (this book is just for the Brazilian market. All the authors are writing an updated retelling of a fairy tale. I chose Beauty and the Beast for mine, since I love that story. You can read more about the project here if you read Portuguese. When I get more info, I’ll let you know.)

I say “hopefully” about the months these books are coming out because I’ve just been told that the 2012 Mayan apocalypse has been set for December 21.

While none of those other predicted apocalypses happened and I don’t expect this one to, either, if it does, I highly doubt publishers will still be paying out advances or printing books.

So — not that I only write for the money, or anything — in the event of an “extinction level event” like on the TV show The Walking Dead, I will be struggling with my friends and family to find food, shelter, and clean water, not writing books. Although I’d rather be writing books, of course, preferably about non-extinction level events.

Nanowrimo is a super fun writing event held every November where people try to write a 50,000 word story, no revisions, in 30 days. EVERYONE, not just professional writers!

If you’ve never participated, you should. Many books written during Nanowrimo have gone on to get published, including many of mine. For added incentive, we’ll be having our own writing contest (starting now) on the Meg Cabot message boards, with prizes to get you in the mood. Read all the details and enter on the message boards. The holiday can include Halloween and the Mayan apocalypse, so you can write about an extinction level event if you want.

Hey Meg! How are your cats? I luv hearing about them. I have 2 cats 2, their names are Sharky and Blackie.

Love,
Catluvr

Dear Catluvr,

My cats are both fine, thanks for asking, they send their regards to Sharky and Blackie. Gem (Lady Slutty McSlut-a-Lot) has been entertaining a new gentleman caller, Edward Cullencat, even though she’s spayed. We know this because I spied her gentleman caller trying to insert his impossibly handsome head through our cat door in a manner suggesting he’s done it before.

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Slutty

We then found certain yellow markings about cat-butt high inside the house that were not there the night before, indicating that we are currently experiencing Catanormal Activity.

The explanation that makes the most sense is that Edward Cullencat has been coming inside to gaze upon his sleeping girlfriend, then marking our walls with his manly catness to make sure everyone knows this house, and every cat in it, belongs to him, and all other male cats should keep away.

This is a disturbing twist in Slutty’s romantic life and obviously I’m doing what all sensible parents do:

Telling her that I’m completely fine with her relationship. In fact, we’re trying to lure Edward Cullencat into our home so we can adopt him and I can dress him up in adorable kitty clothes and make him sleep in a little cat bed the way I do my other cats.

He now runs in terror every time he sees us, since, as a “bad boy,” he doesn’t want to be forced to wear adorable kitty clothes or sleep in a little cat bed.

I will keep you posted on further developments.

In one-eyed Henrietta news, she received a poor prognosis six months ago from the vet, who suggested we pick out a burial plot for her in the backyard.

But by allowing her to do precisely as she liked (consume a diet composed entirely of Temptation cat treats and Chicken and Tuna Feast Fancy Feast), she rallied with no medical intervention whatsoever, and is doing fine . . . well, fine for her, which often means delicately biting me on the face while I’m petting her, to remind me who is boss. But this has always been completely normal behavior for her.

It is this kind of behavior on Henrietta’s part, in fact, that inspired this letter from my friend Michael, which I will leave you with, because it is one of the funniest letters I have ever received:

Dear Meg,

So, I’m listening to the musical portions of Guillaume de Machaut’s *Le Remede de Fortune*, written sometime in the 14th century. (This parenthetical space is for you to reassess your friendship with me).

To be more precise, I’m listening to the great “complaint” against Fortune, “Tieus rit au main qui au soir pleur” (“He laughs in the morning who weeps in the evening”), when I come across the following 2 stanzas describing said Dame Fortune. You have to admit the resemblance to a certain 4 footed fickle goddess is uncanny:

“Her head is half bald;
With one eye she laughs, and with the other weeps;
One cheek has the color of life,
The other is like death;
If one of her hands is your friend,
The other will be your mortal enemy;
One foot is straight, the other lame;
She twists the straight.

Her faith is that she’s faithful to no one;
Her strength is that she’s strong in falling;
Laughing, she brings misfortune,
Tears, woe;
In comforting she makes one sad;
She favors her own by mistreating them;
She takes pleasure in every sort of grief,
Whatever one may say.”

Don’t misunderstand, I am completely devoted to Dame Henrietta and have been ever since that one shiny eye looked up at me with the tender expression of “WTF?”. I would ride Fortune’s wheel from top to bottom to top to bottom for her, and I certainly wouldn’t have become whatever I actually am if I didn’t have the scratches to show for it. But little did I know that Henrietta is the culmination of a whole poetic tradition!

Michael

Dear Michael,

It is so, so true. And it’s why we love her so dearly. I thank you for being her devoted friend in spite of her character flaws (which are many).

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Henrietta’s usual expression, which, like Lady Fortune’s, is one of sneering disgust.

Oh! Silly cats.

Thanks for all your letters. They truly mean the world to me.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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31. Sophia’s Baggage

Two weeks ago, I packed a bag and boarded a plane to go to New York City to do some work. Midway through my journey, the flight attendant leaned over to say, “Miss Cabot, I just have to ask—”

Am I the same Meg Cabot who wrote The Princess Diaries? Why yes, I am . . .

“—where did you get your bag?”

Oh.

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“My friend Sophia gave me this bag,” I told the flight attendant. “It’s by Betsey Johnson. Sophia said she got it at TJ Maxx.”

“That’s fantastic!” the flight attendant said. “There’s a TJ Maxx near me. I’m going there after work to see if they have more bags just like it.”

“Great,” I said.

The flight attendant went away, smiling happily, the way everyone does who sees the bag Sophia got me — even all the tired business men I meet standing around the baggage carousel. They always laugh when they see my bag pop out, covered in roses and festooned in hot pink ribbon and metallic gold trim.

“Nice bag,” they say to me.

“I know,” I say. Because it is a nice bag.

I was complaining about the mind-numbing boredom of business travel to my friend Sophia five or so years ago. She’d asked me what it’s like on book tour.

“Well,” I said. “It’s really fun to meet all the readers and booksellers, of course, and glamorous to stay in nice hotels and everything. But the travel part sucks. Everyone has the same exact same black wheelie bag! The only way you can tell them apart in the overhead bins or when they come out on the baggage carousel is by the different colored ribbons on the handles.”

Sophia — whom I’d known for over twenty years — said, feelingly, “That is disgusting.”

I knew Sophia would understand. Sophia just got things. She was a classically trained musician (Interlochen/Indiana University Jacobs School of Music) who wrote and played hauntingly beautiful songs. Some of my favorites include “Honeymoon”, “She Hates To Drive”, “Sweet Talk”, and “Wingwalker” (found here).


Sophia and her harpsichord

When I first met Sophia, she was working part-time in a popular Bloomington, Indiana deli, while also playing in a band with some mutual friends. Later she would go on to play with so many different bands and artists — including Michele Shocked and John Mellencamp — and write so many songs and put out so many albums, I lost track of them all. But I never lost track of her.

Sophia loved music the way I love writing. People who feel passionately about something are usually way more interesting than people who don’t feel passionately about anything (even if what they feel passionate about isn’t the same thing you feel passionate about). But that isn’t why Sophia and I connected.

Sophia felt so passionately about so many things that her father nicknamed her “Taisto-Tytär,” the Finnish words for “feisty daughter.”

Sophia felt especially passionate about helping to make the town in which she lived a better place, from adopting animals she found abandoned by the side of the road to running for public office. This passion – tempered by her charm, her love of music, and her great sense of humor – was what made Sophia so beloved to so many.

Sophia ended up going out with – and then marrying – Greg Travis, a friend of mine from high school, who’d also become a friend of my husband’s. As a result, the four of us packed a lot of bags, and visited a lot of places with one another — Martha’s Vineyard (a place Greg felt very passionately about). Castelfidardo, Italy, home of the world’s largest accordion (something Sophia felt very passionately about). Key West, Florida (a place we all felt very passionately about, enough so that my husband and I later moved there, and Greg and Sophia often visited).

Sophia Travis Plays Accordion

After they were married, Greg and Sophia moved to a beautiful historic farmhouse in Bloomington. She applied her passionate feelings to many other things besides music, including but not limited to:

Her Korean-Finnish ancestry (she became president of the IU Asian Pacific American Alumni Association); renovating her home; fundraising for local food pantries; rescuing numerous abandoned dogs and cats that showed up on her doorstep; acquiring what may be Indiana State’s largest hedgehog figurine collection; advocating for women’s issues (she was founder and chair of the Monroe County Commission on the Status of Women); acquiring numerous locally made harpsichords; and finally, motherhood, when she and her husband added a son, Finn, four years ago to their menagerie of rescued dogs and cats.

meFinn

This year, Sophia decided the time was right to run again for public office (she’d already served on the Monroe County Council from 2004-2008).

The only problem was that in the past few months she hadn’t been feeling like her normal energetic herself. None of the many specialists she and her husband consulted could say exactly what was wrong.

I saw Sophia at her house this past July at the end of my most recent book tour. I gave her a hedgehog family I’d bought at my signing at Schuler’s Bookstore in Lansing, MI. The minute I saw the tiny plastic figurines, I knew Sophia had to have them for her collection.

I was right. Sophia loved them.

Sophia had looked great when I’d seen her. Everyone was excited about the upcoming election in which she was running, but feeling a little blue because Lucy (one of the rescued dogs who’d loved to lick people), had passed away. Lucy had been quite elderly, however.

Sophia_0001
Sophia with Lucy (behind Fernando, primary rescue dog) in happier days.

Two weeks ago, when I arrived in my apartment in New York City to do some work, I unpacked the bag the flight attendant had complimented me on, the one Sophia had given to me as a surprise five years earlier as a surprise for my 40th birthday.

“Now no one will ever mistake your bag for theirs,” Sophia had said, as she’d presented it to me. “This bag is sparkly, so I knew you’d love it.”

Sophia was right. I do love it. It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Weirdly by the time Sophia had given it to me, though, I’d forgotten all about our bag conversation, and given up on ever finding a bag I could tell apart from everyone else’s.

Sophia hadn’t forgotten or given up on the problem, however.

So when the opportunity presented itself one day at TJ Maxx, Sophia solved it . . . the same way that she’d given a home to Lucy and all those animals that had been abandoned by the side of the road, the same way she ran for public office (and won) when she felt the issues in her town might be dealt with more efficiently, and the same way she’d had a child after being told it was probably never going to happen.

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Sophia in her kitchen

Just hours after I got to NYC, unpacked my bag, and went to sleep, the phone rang. It was my husband calling to tell me that he’d heard from Greg. He had come home from work late the night before to find Sophia collapsed on the floor of their bedroom. EMTs had been unable to revive her. She had passed away only a few weeks before her 47th birthday.

I didn’t know what to do. Like everyone else who knew her, I wanted a do-over. I wanted to go back to sleep, wake up, and have it not be true.

But the next day, it was still true.

So I packed the bag Sophia had given me five years earlier, caught a flight, and went to Indiana.

It was so strange. Sitting on a shelf in Sophia’s dining room, exactly where I’d last seen them, was the hedgehog family I’d bought at Schuler’s Bookstore and given to Sophia in July.

Also in the house were Sophia’s husband and four year old son, parents and friends, my husband, myself, and all the animals she’d rescued (minus Lucy).

The only thing missing was Sophia herself. Or was she?

What caused Sophia’s death was most likely a very rare ailment of the heart.

As anyone even slightly acquainted with her knows, Sophia did suffer from a very rare heart ailment, but maybe not the kind the doctors think she had:

What Sophia had was a heart that was constantly overflowing . . . with love, with good humor, and – as her father predicted when he nicknamed her “Taisto-Tytär” – with passion.

Whether it was playing beautiful music, preparing a nice meal, giving a home to an abandoned pet, getting funding for programs for people who needed it, or even finding a funny bag for a friend who felt a little lost at the baggage carousel, Sophia always knew just what to do make others feel better.

And she never hesitated to set aside her own baggage in order to help others with theirs.

As I spoke to the many people gathered in her home in the days after her death, I realized they each had a story about Sophia helping them in some way that was very similar to my own.

It’s clear to me now that because of that, Sophia will never be gone. She’ll always be right here with us, alive in our own hearts and memories.

So if you want to live forever, figure out what it is that you feel passionate about, then follow that dream. Your passion could help make the world a better place, and go on to help others with their baggage, the way Sophia Travis was always so willing to do – and did – for so many.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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32. Coffin Night/Back to School

It’s back to school time! I know because they just celebrated Coffin Night here in Key West.

What’s Coffin Night, you ask?

Well, it’s a Back To School ritual uniquely Key West . . . and also a subplot of the Abandon series, in which a teenage girl discovers that beneath the cemetery of the small Floridian island to which she’s recently moved lies the Underworld.

This is partly because of a young man whose corpse was never adequately buried (maybe because he never actually died. We’ll find out in the final book of the series, Awaken, due out in May 2012, God willing and the creek don’t rise).

Underworldbook
Photo courtesy of yours truly

How messed up would that be, if you started a new school this year, and you found out an UNDERWORLD existed beneath it?

I’ve had some pretty messed up back-to-school moments, but never anything THAT bad.

Anyway, every Homecoming here in Key West, the senior class builds a coffin and hides it somewhere on the island, to “bury” the competition (the junior class). If the junior class finds the coffin, they get to “burn” the seniors (literally. They burn the coffin on the field at the Homecoming game).

Of course, the real reason they’re doing all this (but the tradition goes back so long, no one remembers), is to bury the corpses that were washed away from the Key West cemetery in the a Great Havana Hurricane of October 1846, the second-strongest storm on record, a Category 5 that wiped out much of Havanna, the Keys, and swept all the way up the east coast to New York City to take out one hundred yards of the Battery, before dying down somewhere along New England.

The storm destroyed both the lighthouses in Key West, the naval hospital, and 594 of the island’s 600 other buildings, besides upending all the coffins in the cemetery, washing many of the skeletons inside out to sea. The ones that could be found had to be reburied in above ground tombs on higher ground, in what is today’s Key West’s beautiful cemetery, and popular tourist spot.

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Photo courtesy of yours truly

Coffin Night marks the start of every school year in Key West. It is not condoned by any school official, but it goes on anyway.

This year, it’s rumored that a responsible adult found the coffin (or at least a small decoy coffin) well before any student did, so the burning of it was thus avoided (thanks to Key West Diary for that information, and for the photo of said coffin, below).


Photo courtesy of Key West Diary

As you might have read in Key West Diary, above, even though Coffin Night got cancelled this year, there was still a lot of egg throwing. I did not choose to include the egg throwing part of Coffin Night in the Abandon series (which is set on the fictional island of Isla Huesos) because I consider sneaking around in the dark, throwing eggs (and, in some cases, bottles) at moving vehicles to be behavior more befitting of middle schoolers than high schoolers. Therefore, it had no place in my series, which is a tale of straight up paranormal mystery and romance.

Special Note: For anyone considering coming to Key West on vacation, the Coffin Night egg throwing takes place almost exclusively the first week or so of September in New Town, which is somewhat far from Old Town – where Duval Street, the main drag and tourist center of the island, is located. It can be presumed that this is because Old Town is more heavily policed, and egg throwers would immediately be caught.

Anyway, for everyone who is going back to school, we’re having a writing contest on the Meg Cabot forums. We want to hear YOUR Back to School story, whether it’s about something like Key West’s Coffin Night, trouble fitting in, a mysterious new boy (or girl) in your class, fictional, true, or whatever. The best story will receive a free Meg Cabot book of his/her choice! Users will vote on the story that is their favorite. Click
here for the details!

Meg graduating high school in 1985.  Go Panthers!
High School Graduation! I thought this was the best moment of my life. But things got even BETTER after that! Who knew?

To inspire you, I’m posting MY Back to School story below. It’s a re-print of a story of mine Seventeen Magazine ran a long time ago. I swear it’s all true! No one was as surprised as I was when, after years of struggling to fit in on the first school, I stopped trying, and . . . well, you’ll see. Enjoy:

I got it every year, just about this time: that giddy, excited feeling, that anything—anything—could happen. Sure, I’d never been the prettiest or most popular girl in my class before. But this year?

Things were going to be different.

Why shouldn’t they? Hadn’t I spent the whole summer—well, in between babysitting gigs to raise cash for that all-important back-to-school wardrobe—working out and giving up dessert so I could lose those last pesky five pounds? Not to mention laying on the roof of our carport, smothered in Coppertone with Sun-In in my hair, trying to get that healthy summer glow … no mean feat while battling a mom who kept calling me inside to empty the dishwasher.

But if I could just get him to look at me—and you all know who he was: Mr. Perfect, the guy with the locker next door to mine, who never gave me a second glance because of her, Ms. Perfect, who seemed to have achieved the ideal wardrobe, body, and highlights without the slightest bit of effort, and who was consequently glued at the hips to him—it would all have been worth it…even the hours I’d spent in the mall, attempting to replicate the cute outfits I’d seen in the pages of the two-inch thick fall issues of my favorite magazines.

And okay, by mall I mean outlet mall. But the stuff I found there looked almost exactly like the designer stuff in the photos, for a fraction of the price!

By the time the first day of school finally rolled around, and I’d strutted to the bus stop (because my friends and I had parents who couldn’t afford to buy us cars for our birthdays), I’d barely be able to contain my excitement. Sure, the guys my best friend and I rode to school with (and had known since kindergarten) pretended they didn’t notice a difference…but we didn’t miss the sidelong glances they shot us from behind their Raybans. We looked good. They knew it. We knew it.

This year, things were going to be different.

The excitement lasted all the way until I got off the bus….

And then I saw her, Ms. Perfect, getting out of the red convertible her parents had gotten her for her birthday.
She was wearing my exact same outfit…only she had the real designer stuff I’d seen in the magazines, not knock-offs from the outlet mall.

There wasn’t an ounce of spare fat on her. Her tan was all over, the result of water-skiing at the lake all summer, not hours stolen here and there on top of a carport. Her highlights were salon-perfect, not the result of at-home experimentation.

When I finally made it to my locker a few minutes later, there she was, in a liplock with him, Mr. Perfect.

And then it would hit me, all over again:

Nothing was going to be different this year. Nothing had changed. And nothing ever would.

Until, it turned out, college.

It happened the first month of college: I had finally given up on trying to be the prettiest, or the most popular. I didn’t bother tanning, or trying to lose weight, or even getting a new fall wardrobe before school started. I was more concerned about getting into the right classes and making new friends in the dorm at the massive state university I’d gotten into.

I was barreling along campus—I still didn’t have a car, but I had a kickass computer to write my novels and short stories on—so I almost didn’t see the guy until I practically ran into him, and he said my name.

I looked up, astonished. On a campus of thirty thousand people, what were the chances that, at eight thirty in the morning, I’d run into someone I knew?

But there he was: Mr. Perfect.

“I didn’t know you go here!” he cried, happily. “You look great. Hey, you should stop by the frat house tonight. We’re having a party. I’d love to see you, catch up on old times. Here’s my number.”

I stared at him, confused. Where was Ms. Perfect?

Then I remembered. They’d broken up right before graduation.

This was my big chance. Things were finally going to be different now.

“Sorry,” I heard myself saying. “I can’t. I’m busy.”

His face fell. “But—”

“I gotta go,” I said. “Sorry. Bye.”

When I got to class, I threw his number away. Because things were different now. The most important thing of all:

Me.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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33. 9/11/2001

So, every time I don’t re-post this entry about what it was like on 9/11 in downtown Manhattan for average New Yorkers (well, me, my husband – who worked across the street from the World Trade Center – and our friends – including our friends who had kids in schools next to the Trade Center), I get messages asking why I didn’t post it.

Then every time I do post it, I get (a very few) messages from people asking why I can’t just “forget it” because it was a very painful period in our nation’s history. I understand both points of view.

However, some teachers have let me know that this post has become part of their classroom 9/11 curriculum, so the entry below is a slightly updated version. Whether you want to read it or not, do watch this amazing video (posted below) and read my remarks at the very end of this (long) post about the dangers of “forgetting.”

BOATLIFT, an Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience, is narrated by Tom Hanks and is only 11 minutes long, and totally worth every second (you will cry, but in a good way). This video kind of continues where my 9/11 story leaves off. It describes the largest emergency evacuation in American history (500,000 people) by boat, which was on 9/11, and included some of the people who ended up in my apartment. It was conducted partly by average boat owners (who knew?)! This video is about those boats and their captains. It will give you a vivid picture of what it was like that day in downtown Manhattan, but it will also make you feel happy. (So will what’s posted below it, I hope.)

Click here to view the embedded video.

Meg’s 9/11 Diary

9/11/2001 was one of those rare days where sloth was rewarded. I know several people who are still alive today because they were late to work that morning, or stopped to get coffee to help them feel a little less groggy.

I got woken up in my apartment on 12th Street and 4th Avenue by a phone call from my friend Jen.

“Look out your window,” Jen said.

That is when I saw the smoke from the first plane.

I called my husband’s office first thing. I couldn’t see his building from our apartment, but I could see the building ACROSS from his, which was the Trade Center, and black smoke was billowing out of it.

“What was happening?” I wondered.

Jen didn’t know. No one knew.

Was he all right? I knew he worked on a really high floor, and it looked as if whatever had happened to that tower across from his, it had to be happening right in front of his office window.

I couldn’t get through to him. I couldn’t make any outgoing calls from my phone 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.

But I didn’t know that then.

Sirens started up. It was the engine from the firehouse across the street from my apartment building. It was a very small firehouse. All the guys used to sit outside it on folding chairs on nice days, joshing with the neighbors who were walking their dogs, and with my doormen. The old ladies on my street always brought them cookies.

9/11/01 was a very, very nice day. The sky was a very pure blue and it was warm outside.

Now all the firemen from the station across from my apartment building were rushing out to the fire downtown.

Every last one of them would be dead in an hour. But none of us knew that 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 that our cell servers used towers that were located on top of the World Trade Center, and they all had stopped working.

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 — 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. 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.

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.

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 people 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 off of at the time. 4th Avenue is always crazy crowded with honking cars, buses, taxis, bike messengers, you name it.

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, 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 so long.”

Then Luz ran downstairs to see if anyone in the crowd was coming from the same college her son went to, anyone who 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), 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 would have 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 he 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, 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 couldn’t get hold of them.

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.

“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 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.

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).

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 after he left for work that morning.

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 in.

(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 the long way home around those buildings, which is why it took 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, and the ones who lived in New Jersey wondering how (and if) they were going to get home (eventually, that night, they all caught boats – see the film above -and when they arrived on the Jersey side, they were hosed down by people in Haz-Mat suits, in case they were carrying “chemicals” on their clothes. At that time, there was some belief the planes might have been carrying nuclear weapons or something. They were each given a single paper towel with which to dry off).

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 children, showed up at our door, their kids and half the employees from their office (which was 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 (still crying): “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 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 my husband’s company, so that it would be able to remain in business, since all its windows had been blown out, and asbestos had fallen all over everything.

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 the 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 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. 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 in the Blitz — meeting for lunch like nothing had happened, but it made your eyes burn. I have no idea how the rescue workers at Ground Zero could bear it.

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 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 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, thinking 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, and 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 crushed 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, after the company he worked for got back on its feet, my husband decided financial writing wasn’t for him, and 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 him 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 son 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 now in college, and Shai is a skilled snowboarder. 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. There might still be some out there, because you can never catch of all them. But we’re trying.

Not long ago, someone asked an interesting question at a dinner party. If you could take a pill that would make you forget your worst memories, would you do it?

I don’t think I would. Though some pretty terrible things have happened to me in my life (that I prefer not to write about because in my opinion, books are for fun, therapy is for the bad stuff), the memories of those things have helped shape who am I.

Of course I would prefer it if one of those memories wasn’t that 3,000 people were murdered across the street from my husband’s place of work by a bunch of religious whackjobs.

But though I’d prefer it 9/11 had never happened, I think it’s important that we always remember it. Because by forgetting history, we are dooming others – and ourselves – to repeat it. I never want it to happen again, in my or anyone else’s lifetime.

So, that’s why I will keep posting this.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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34. Book festival! New book! Contest Winner! More!

Many things are happening this week that don’t necessarily involve going back to school, tropical storms, and politics (it’s an election year here in the US for those of you who are reading this from overseas and don’t follow the news in the US. Honestly, I wouldn’t either if I didn’t have to).

Here is a small sample of some of the things that are going on:

New book! Out today!

And it isn’t just mine, it’s an anthology to which I was honored to be invited to contribute along with many other talented writers such as Richelle Mead, Lisa McMann, Laini Taylor, Matt de la Pena, Malinda Lo, Diana Peterfreund, and many more (thanks, Carrie Ryan, for thinking up this idea and editing the book)!

Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction is just what its title says: 14 stories, each dealing in some way with a prophecy or prediction (kind of like the Mayan prophecy that the world will end in 2012, get it? Only it’s not going to, it just feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it? At least it does for me, especially when I’m with my in-laws. Ha ha, totally kidding).

My story, Out of the Blue, is about teenaged twins who were kidnapped by aliens when they were six, and returned so shortly after no one even knew they were gone. So when they tried to tell people about what happened, of course no one believed them. Why would they? Little kids are always making up crazy stories.

Now, on the twins’ sixteenth birthday, the aliens have returned . . . and they aren’t happy that their orders weren’t carried out. Maybe people should have listened to the twins. Can KC and her brother stop the world from being destroyed? Probably not. They’re still just just kids . . . or are they?

Here’s a link to reviews of Out of the Blue and some of the other stories in the collection by the blog 365 Days of Reading. Foretold is available today everywhere that books and e-books are sold!

What are you doing this weekend for Labor Day? 



I’m going to Decatur, GA!

The Decatur Book Festival
 in Decatur, GA, to be exact, on Saturday, September 1.

You’ll find me at 10AM, at the First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary Stage. 

Go here for more info. Book signing directly following my presentation.

The main book I’ll be promoting in Decatur is Size 12 and Ready to Rock, but hopefully a good selection of ALL my books should be available for purchase. Usually the rule is, I’ll sign and personalize anything bought at the festival, but I can only sign (not personalize) books from home. This is to save time since other authors who have programs after mine might be waiting to sign their books, too! Number of books signed from home may be limited, depending on the length of the signing line.

As always, festival organizers have the final word about signing limitations, so check with them. Hope I see you there!


Don’t forget! Still available for a special summer sales price of $7.99 everywhere ebooks are sold, as well as the first three ebooks in the series for only $4.99.

Another project I’m working on this fall is:

This fun contest to win a manuscript evaluation (from me) via Scholastic’s This is Teen Facebook page. There were over 1,000 entries (!!!) but we managed to narrow it down to 5 finalists (based on their submitted synopsis).

It was SO hard to choose, especially from so many entries, because they were all so good. So if you’re one of the writers who entered, keep in mind that just because yours didn’t make the final cut doesn’t mean it isn’t a great idea for a book (because believe me, they were all great)! Your synopsis might just have needed a little more tweaking to make it stand out from the crowd.

Synopses are the hardest thing to write for most writers, so don’t beat yourself up over it.

Speaking of beating yourself up, it’s back to school time (ha ha, everyone’s least favorite thing).

It was very hard to choose The Back to School selection for the Meg Cabot Fiction Club, but we all decided we needed something light yet meaningful, and 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody, in stores now, was just the book!

School sucks (my opinion only, not shared by others I realize), so why not use your precious entertainment hours wisely by reading something FUN (but juicy)? 52 Reasons is about a rich, spoiled heiress who has to spend 52 weeks doing minimum wage jobs her dad picks out for her before she can access her inheritance. Along the way she learns what “rich” really means.

Check out the adorabs video here:

Click here to view the embedded video.

See, I told you. Funny (and there’s a cute guy).

Finally, speaking of cute, here’s Macy (aka TheMFunky), the winner of the Underworld book trailer contest, with her prize . . . a brand new iPad!

Macy_ipad
I swear to God I did not make her pose that way, she sent that photo all on her own with her thank you email after receiving the iPad, I was bowled over by the cuteness of it and asked if I could post it here and she said yes. But then I should not be surprised because all Meg Cabot readers I’ve ever met really are this amazing. Mwah.

Macy’s taking her new iPad with her to college, where she will hopefully make many more of her beautiful videos, like these (to be honest I love both of these, I still can’t decide which one got the iPad. They both did, I guess):

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Thanks and congratulations to Macy, TheMFunky (who is herself an aspiring YA writer)!

Hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend! Be sure to grab a copy of Foretold, and I’ll see (some of) you at the Decatur Book Festival!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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35. 100% Not Fake

Here are some things that have been going on in the swinging cocktail lounge that is my life and mind (vodka martini, very dry and very dirty).

1) Apparently there is a new show on TLC called Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. A lot of reviewers are saying this show is the equivalent of the coming of the anti-Christ.

However I have been told by people who actually saw it that it’s not that bad because this family is not fake like some of the families we see on reality TV these days (I won’t name names).

I’ll reserve judgement until I see it. Obviously I DVR’d it, but I have a lot of episodes of Misfits and Covert Affairs to catch up with before I’ll ever get to Honey Boo Boo.

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Here’s my unicorn family. Sorry, I’m showing you a picture of them instead of Honey Boo Boo because I own the rights to this photo.

2) Speaking of reviews, this reminds me . . . Salon.com is shocked — shocked, I tell you! — to learn that some authors are hiring people to post fake raves about their books on Twitter, and also to post fake 5 star reviews about them Amazon.

I don’t know why Salon.com is so shocked about this since this kind of thing (it’s called “sock puppeting”) has been going on for years and years, and not just in the publishing business. Rock stars, movie stars, politicians, you name it, have all employed this insidious practice. Every single troll on every single website you go to is probably being paid by some political organization to be there.

The practice of sock puppeting has become so common that there is even a Wiki How explaining how to hire and pay people to post fake comments in the forums of your own website.

The Salon.com article says this practice is most common with authors who are just starting out in their careers, and I can attest that there was a time at the beginning of my career way back in 2000 when I was totally tempted. The only reviews I ever got back then were on Amazon, and this one particular lunatic kept writing that my books glorified smoking.

(OMG, I still get so angry when I think of this. My dad, a smoker, died of throat cancer at age 53, when I was just 26, leaving my mom an unemployed widow with 3 kids. Obviously that scarred me for life, as it would anyone – she was only about two years older than I am now when he died! There is NO WAY I would ever write anything that glorifies smoking. I have never smoked and get an automatic migraine when people around me start smoking).

But some people can’t help being idiots. I wanted to go on Amazon and post this beneath the person’s review:

Dear Crazed Lunatic, Meg Cabot does NOT glorify smoking in The Princess Diaries. This book is about a girl who becomes a princess and doesn’t like it. SHE DOES NOT SMOKE. Her GRANDMOTHER smokes, but the heroine frowns upon it and mentions MANY TIMES that it is bad. Only an idiot such as yourself would you ever think that this book glorifies smoking. Signed, Not Meg Cabot

But nothing good ever comes from doing things like this, so I trained myself to stay off Amazon (except to buy DVDs of Will Ferrell movies).

And I was proven right to do so when, in 2004, a glitch in Amazon Canada’s software revealed the true identities of all the anonymous reviewers there, many of whom turned out to be the books’ OWN AUTHORS!

Yes, it turned out many authors had not been able to resist the impulse (as I had) and had sock puppeted themselves (or whatever the term is). (Click here to read the amusing NY Times article about the incident).

I wish I had known this was going on at the time because I would have RUSHED to Amazon Canada before they fixed the glitch in order to find out who had reviewed his/her own books and also to find out what they had said in response to their bad reviews. I can just picture it:

By Nathaniel Hawthorne: PsYchO2001, I’m so sorry you found “The Scarlett Letter” such a “crushing bore” and feel so angry that the author “crammed so much symbolism into it.” Need I remind you that it is considered a modern classic by most mature adults? Perhaps you’d be more comfortable reading an “action novel” such as Melville’s insipid fish tale, “Moby Dick.”

By Charlotte Bronte: HotMama, I understand you might have been a bit disappointed when you learned “after all those interminably long pages” that what Mr. Rochester had hidden in his attic was not “a vampire or anything else remotely cool”. But would it have hurt you to have employed a “Spoiler Alert” in your review? Now EVERYONE knows what’s in the attic at Thornfield Hall. Try using a little common courtesy next time.

By Emily Bronte: MrsRPatzz18: U r wrong. Wuthering Heights is NOT “the wurst bk eva” and I believe that Heathcliff is every bit as “hottttt” as Edward Cullen, if not more so! U, madam, r the byotch, not me!

Click here to view the embedded video.

3) Speaking of reviews, this one is legitimate: I enjoyed The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers, coming out September 1. It’s told in an encyclopedia format, which is fun and different, and is about an 8th grade girl dealing with the stresses of family, boys, and friendship. For a librarian’s thoughts on it (and librarians we KNOW can’t be bought), go here.

Speaking of libraries, the Cuyahoga Public Library gave me this (not the unicorn, the little book) as a gift after I spoke there:

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When you open it up, this is what’s inside:

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Yeah! You got that right! Post-its! Is that the coolest thing or what? AND IT IS MINE. I GOT IT FROM THE LIBRARY.

Go here and you can see my discussion at the library mentioned above.

4) Apparently a bunch of people went on NPR and voted for their top 100 teen books and here is what they came up with.

This list is fun though I’m confused by it. I assume they’re the top 100 books read by teens and not about teens. One problem I’ve always had is a tendency to overanalyze things too much (in case you didn’t notice). It is a problem that has been remarked upon by many, don’t worry, and I continue to be treated for it. I always flunk multiple choice tests because I think I’m being tricked and NONE of the answers are right (this is why I can’t pass the Florida State written driving exam).

But I’m happy some of my favorites made it on there, and would like to thank everyone who nominated and voted for books by me.

5) I know it’s cool to rave about the gymnastics and swimming on the Olympics (and all I have to say about Gabby Douglas “Hairgate” is, to misquote The Princess Diaries movie, “Hair? Flying through the air? I prefer to talk about flying through the air”) but to me it’s all about the equestrian events because the one thing I always wanted was a horse (but I was never enthusiastic enough about one to want to clean stables).

So just picture me on the back of this horse winning the gold for the USA (and turn off the sound if you’re an impressionable child or at work because the musical accompaniment is very naughty, but funny):

Click here to view the embedded video.

6) What are you doing for Labor Day weekend? 

I’m going to Decatur, GA!

The Decatur Book Festival
 in Decatur, GA, to be exact, on Saturday, September 1.

You’ll find me at 10AM, at the First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary Stage. 

Go here

for more info. Book signing to follow after my presentation.

Some people are complaining that my signing is much too early in the morning, but I actually chose it because at 10AM it is unlikely to be crowded yet or 9 million degrees outside, and afterwards we can all go have martinis for lunch.

Click here to view the embedded video.

You see? I’m always thinking of you.

There will be tons of other authors there (such as but not limited to the US Poet Laureate, Shannon Hale, Tess “Rizolli and Isles” Gerritsen, Michael Connelly, and Kathy “Bones” and Kerry Reichs). Click on the link above to see more. Guarantee you won’t regret it.

Here are some of the books I’ll be promoting in Decatur (but pretty much all of my books will be available):

Size 12 and Ready to Rock

Still available for a special sales price of $7.99 everywhere ebooks are sold, as well as the first three ebooks in the series for only $4.99.

Then there’s …

Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction, the anthology to which I contributed (with lots of other great authors like Richelle Mead, Lisa McMann, Laini Taylor, Matt de la Pena, Malinda Lo, and Michael Grant). This comes out August 28, just in time for Labor Day Weekend!

And of course . . .

The Abandon series!


Finally, we had an Underworld trailer contest! All the entries were amazingly creative . . . in fact, it was extremely hard to pick a winner because each entry was so strong and creative in its own way. I had such a hard time choosing, I had to ask for help deciding. We managed to narrow it down to these five finalists:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

In the end, we chose based on creativity, originality, tone (of the book, not the video . . . we loved all the videos, but we felt we had to pick one that matched the tone of the book, which is a paranormal romance, most closely), and most of all, the one that summed up the theme of the book (romantic longing) best.

We all felt it was TheMFunky who deserved the prize (an iPad) for her creativity and originality with the paper cut-outs (which looked super hard to do, especially with the growing leaves and fluttering Fury wings!), while also getting the tone (and the theme) of the book right!

Thanks and congratulations to TheMFunky (who is herself an aspiring YA writer)!

Hope everyone has a great rest of their summer, look out for bugs (and Honey Boo Boo) and I’ll see (some of) you at the Decatur Book Festival!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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36. What I Learned On My Summer Vacation (Book Tour)

I just spent the past two weeks crisscrossing the US (well, mostly just the Midwest. I did West coast and East coast last summer, so it was the Midwest’s turn) on my book tour to promote Size 12 and Ready to Rock . . . which, just to get this out of the way, you can buy now for a special sales price of $7.99 everywhere ebooks are sold! Also, the first three ebooks in the series are only $4.99! My publisher is calling this the “Size 12 Days of Summer” sale.

This was my idea ^^^^^! I know, I should work for Target or something, I LOVE making up the names of special sales promotions!

(When I worked in a bookstore, I also loved making the window displays. Sometimes I would put one rude thing in it to see how long it took someone to notice. Often no one ever would. People don’t see what they’re not expecting!)

I know how people love having cute fun mysteries (with a dash of sexy romance) to read in the summertime. I long for these to read as I’m whiling away the long hot summer days, too!

(Actually right now all I’m longing for is some free time to while away, but whatever.)

Anyway, my book tour was an amazing mid-summer adventure and a smash hit (at least to me). Everywhere I went, readers defied the 100+ degree heat and turned out in what seemed to me (and to my publisher) like droves.

Over 400 people were at the Des Moines Public Library event (Des Moines! How fun were you? So much fun!), and over 500 attended the Cuyahoga Public Library in Cleveland! (OMG Cuyahoga! I still can’t spell or pronounce you but I love you!)

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Awesome photo, whoever took this! Glamour girls with glamour background!

I had some fantastic signings at bookstores, too, like at Joseph-Beth’s in Cincinnati, Books and Co in Dayton, Schuler’s in Lansing, MI, and the Carmel, IN Barnes and Noble!

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Schuler’s! And Whitney, the manager! Whitney rules! Why am I doing this with my face though? I don’t know.

Here are some of the highlights of my trip, and some of the valuable life lessons I learned along the way, which I hope, will you, as well:

There seem to be quite a few eight year olds out there in America who are concerned that they haven’t been published yet.

I know there are some 8 year olds who’ve gotten published. Believe me, I’ve met some of them. But here’s a little known secret:

The vast majority of them never published another book again.

If you want a long-lasting publishing career, I think the best way to spend your tweens and teens and early twenties isn’t worrying about getting published, but figuring out who you are and what you’re good at, experimenting with your style, and developing your own voice—in other words, just live your life.

As Heather Wells states in Size 12 and Ready to Rock, our brain doesn’t become fully formed until age 25 (if you don’t believe her, click here).

This could explain a lot (like why a certain under-25 starlet recently confessed to a fling with a certain married movie direct

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37. Heather Wells is Ready to Rock

It’s been a crazy week! Between the wildfires in the west, the storms in the northeast, and Tom and Katie, it’s starting to look like the Mayans might have been right about 2012.

But the Mayans didn’t count on brave firefighters, power company workers, and Katie’s crack legal team. So we shouldn’t pack our bags to run off with John Cusack quite yet.

I have to pack a bag, but only to leave for my two week long book tour (click on the link to see if I’ll be visiting somewhere near you, and if I am, stop by to see me!) for my new book, Size 12 and Ready to Rock which will be out on TUESDAY (YAY!!!). So I’m going to make this quick.

But look what was found in the vaults of the Cartwright Records building as they were remodeling to make way for the new Cartwright Televsion division:

Click here to view the embedded video.

I know! Heather Wells thought she’d never have to see that thing again, especially now that she’s quit the music business to work in residence life in a New York City college dorm and solve murders there.

But now, thanks to the Internet, this video is EVERYWHERE, mocking her!

Personally I think Heather is being too modest, and this video is hilarious (special thanks to the ultra amazing Brady Hall and his team, everyone at Avon/HarperMorrow, also my own home team of Laura, Louis, and HWSNBNITB, and especially Janey, whose idea it was). Please do me a favor and forward this video to everyone you know, before Heather takes out a cease-and-desist.

I get so many emails and Facebook messages and Tweets asking for more books about amateur sleuth Heather (way more than any other series, except possibly The Mediator), that I couldn’t resist signing up to write a few more books about her.

Heather isn’t just popular in the US. She’s popular all over the world. Here are a few of her international covers. I would like it noted that I’m not sure what is going on in most of these covers. Heather never loses weight. She is a victim of vanity sizing. Nor is she a prostitute. She solves crimes. But like Heather, I go with the flow:

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As to WHY I think readers connect with Heather, I speculate a bit here on Huffington Post.

But who really knows? How can you not love someone who’s been beat up a little by life, but keeps getting back up again . . . and of course, who then catches murders?

Of course, tastes vary. I’ve got a friend who’s become a little anti-princess since she became a mom, and is trying to raise her daughter to be princess-free. I’ve blogged about my feelings on this subject before (I believe in princess power), so Barbara Chai at The Wall Street Journal asked my thoughts on the new Pixar-Di

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38. Ready to Rock Tour, Book, Giveaways, etc

It’s here! The very first copy of the first Heather Wells mystery in five years, Size 12 and Ready to Rock, is in my hands!

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Unfortunately, I only have this ONE copy. The rest won’t be released in the US/Canada until July 10.

But you can read the first three chapters (and find out why is Heather posing with a bunch of dolls, including Miss Mexico) here, as well as pre-order hard or e-book copies (or wherever else you shop for books).

So I’m hearing that if you haven’t read the first three books in the Heather Wells series, you don’t have to worry: It’s easy to catch up with what’s going on with Heather’s life in Ready to Rock (at least according to what people are saying on goodreads.com (where I SWEAR I only went because they’re very nicely giving away 10 free copies of the book, and I wanted to be sure to tell you about it, and I wanted to give you ACCURATE information about the dates of the giveaway: It’s from now until July 9. I wasn’t looking at my reviews. OK, I might have peeked).

But apparently, you can just jump right in with this one. (I didn’t do this on purpose at all. OK, I did).

I don’t know why there was a five year gap between the last Heather Wells book and this one (except maybe because I started a couple of other series in between. Hi, Allie Finkle and Abandon!).

But in the books, only three months have gone by for Heather and Cooper and the rest of their friends. That’s the fun thing about fiction: We age, but our characters don’t have to. Thank God, because if they did, then Yoda would have to play Batman instead of Christian Bale this summer.

Speaking of which, a lot of people have been asking about my summer plans. So just in case you’re wondering, too, after going on my Ready to Rock book tour (more on that below), I’ll be doing exactly what all of YOU will be doing:

Working (writing the sequel to Underworld, which I’m just reminding you will be called Awaken. OK, I’m reminding MYSELF), going to movies, watching TV, hanging out with friends and trying not to eat too much (and failing), and reading all the amazing books that are coming out this summer, some of which are anthologies I contributed to (so I can say they’re amazing because I know some of the authors, and I think they’re amazing, not my own stories, duh, I’m not saying MY stories are amazing, though I did work super hard on them because I wanted them to be as amazing as the stories of the authors I was competing against working with, right it’s not a contest).

So, first things first. Here’s where I will be this summer. If you’ll be in any of these towns, too, PLEASE COME SEE ME! I hate sitting alone in bookstores (although it does give me a chance to catch up with my Real Housewife celebrity memoir reading. Obviously I don’t buy this, I sit and read them while I wait to go on before book tour stops in the stores. This is also how I read the entire Left Behind series and Eat for Your Blood Type):

Meet Meg on her Super Sized Ready to Rock Tour This Summer!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Des Moines, IA

7:00 PM


AVID Festival 
Des Moines Public Library
Hoyt Sherman Place

1501 W

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39. Cover Story

Questions! Have I read Shades of Grey? How do my book covers get chosen? Will there be a spanking robot in the next Underworld book? When’s my next book tour? How’s Henrietta? Etc.

I wasn’t able to get to all of your questions during my live video chat on Goodreads (but thanks to all of you who came! I hope you got to see Henrietta—her visit might have gotten cut off at the end due to her dislike of human contact), so I thought I’d try to answer some of the rest of them here. So here goes:

Q: Have you read the new Twilight fan-fiction re-styled into the mega bestseller Shades of Grey?

A: No, I have not, but thanks for asking! Right now I’m still hooked on reading British country manor house murder mysteries (I’m also hooked on the Sherlock re-tellings on Masterpiece Mystery. OMG SHERLOCK!!!!! Even HWSNBNITB watches it without falling asleep. Now that’s masterful storytelling).

But I’m always happy when any book by a woman is topping the charts, especially when it’s a story about two people who find love (aka a romance), so kudos to EL James and happy reading to her fans.

It does cheese me off a bit that her fans have been getting some flak in the press (“Mommy Porn?” Gross. What is that? And is “Daddy Porn” Cinemax After Dark? I guess so).

No one should get made fun of for their reading choices. I used to read nothing but romance novels in college (in preparation for writing my own, now out of print but you can still find them occasionally in used book stores. Read about them here) and people used to make fun of me for it …until the day I found the book that featured the hot space mercenary who was hired by the intergalactic council to save their princess from the cruel emperor who had hooked her up to…

…a spanking robot.

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Hi I’m here to rescue you…hey, what’s that robot doing? I WILL DESTROY IT after first using it on myself.

As soon as I told people the plot of this book, EVERYONE in my dorm wanted to borrow it (sorry, one of the borrowers stole it so I no longer remember what it was called or who wrote it but it was AMAZING). Soon a huge romance reading craze was started (which included lesbian and gay romance), which obviously blossomed into a drinking game (hey, it was college), the particulars of which I will not get into on this site, but think the New Girl True American drinking game and you will have the gist. You can pretty much start a drinking game based on anything.

Hopefully by now everyone has seen the New York Times article on the neuroscience of “Your Brain on Fiction,” explaining that research shows:

“Stories stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life. Individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective. This relationship persisted even after the researchers accounted for the possibility that more empathetic individuals might prefer reading novels.”

If you need recs of good spanking robot books, or maybe something like 50 Shades, or even a good country manor house mystery, visit the

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40. It’s Here

You know that old saying, April showers bring May flowers? Well, sometimes in April it can a little rain too much, bringing forth more than just flowers. This May at my house, April showers have brought forth:

- a new book (in stores TODAY!)

- an awesome book trailer contest (you could win an iPad!)

- a Goodreads video chat, and…

- possibly even opened a door in my local cemetery to the Underworld, releasing all the vengeful spirits who feel that they were wronged by John Hayden, Lord of the Dead. Of course that could be my imagination. Don’t mind me.

But before we get into all that, let’s talk about the usual stuff that’s supposed to show up in May, such as:

1) Prom. Aw, so cute!

2) Sweeps week: Who will win on Dancing With the Stars? Will Nick move out on The New Girl? Will Leslie Knope win the Pawnee City Council election on Parks and Rec? And will Dani get her dragons back on Game of Thrones?

3) Movies with aliens in them are a May staple: The Avengers! Men in Black 3! Battleship! I plan to see them all!

4) May means summer vacation is on its way! Which means lots of time to read . . . .

5) . . . New books!

This May is bringing one of my new books, Underworld (the sequel to last year’s spring release, Abandon), out NOW in US (and Canadian and Australian and NZ) stores (and on ereaders)!

Click here for a complete list of Underworld‘s worldwide release dates, as well as other updates and Extras (including a list of Isla Huesos’s MOST WANTED, a map of Isla Huesos, an Underworld playlist, FAQs, and more, coming this week!)

In case you didn’t already know, Underworld isn’t just about a girl and a boy. It was inspired by the myth of Persephone, but really, it’s about a storm . . . not a a silly April shower, or a “storm of love,” but the kind of storm that wipes out entire populations. The kind of storm we get here where I live in Key West (also known as The Island of Bones, which are commonly found scattered across the island after such a storm). The kind of storm that looks like this:

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The New York Times called Abandon (the first book in the series) “scarier than senior year”:

“This is Hades as seen through the eyes of a 21st-century teenager . . . . Pierce struggles to regain the life of a normal teenager now that she’s seen what lies beyond . . . .

Death is just getting warmed up.”

And Seventeen Magazine says:

“Pierce is a rockstar narrator. She’s bold, gutsy, and hyperaware – she might even be too brave for her own good. We love a girl who isn’t scared to take action. Pierce might be a little reckless, but at least she’s never a damsel in distress.”

Yes! Thanks, New York T

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41. Princess Week

Did you know April 22-28 is National Princess Week? Of course you did!

(If you’re like me, you assumed every week was Princess Week and were surprised to learn this isn’t true.)

But according to Disney and Target, the only “officially” recognized Princess Week is this week. That’s when they will be promoting all princess-themed books and toys and movies in their stores, under the Julie Andrews Collection.

This collection includes Julie Andrews’ own books (yes! She wrote some! So did her daughter. They’re really cute), The Princess Diaries books and movies, and a lot of other great princess books, like Shannon Hale’s fabulous Princess Academy.

This is awesome in many ways. Who’s a better spokeswoman for princesses than Julie Andrews? (Some of you might be saying “Princess Mia Thermopolis,” but she was not available due to a “scheduling conflict.”)

It seems fitting to me that Princess Week should come in between Earth Week and the release of Underworld (May 8), since every truly empowered woman recognizes how important it is that we keep our planet safe, and Pierce, the heroine of Underworld, finds herself trapped in a royal palace beneath the earth (as you know if you’ve read the sneak peek opening chapters of the book), of which she may become queen (or blow up, depending on how things work out with her new boyfriend, ruler of the dead).

In a little less than three weeks, Underworld will be in stores (and available on ereaders) …

… but someone at Scholastic snuck me a special advanced copy!

Underworldbook

Even though I’ve had over fifty books published, I still get really excited when I find a padded envelope in the mail addressed to me and I open it to discover a BEAUTIFUL BOOK inside that someone made from a bunch of words I wrote (and then actually paid me for)!

When this happens, I get really excited and dance around the house and show the book to whoever is around, usually the UPS delivery guy or the exterminator, neither of whom is ever impressed, though they politely fake interest.

It would be nice if getting your published book in the mail was as exciting in real life as it is often portrayed in movies. In the 90s so-bad-it’s-good cult classic, Aspen Extreme, for example, in which TJ Burke and his friend Dexter move to Aspen in hopes of finding themselves (and true love) on the slopes, TJ writes a tender article about his love for skiing and his wish that his good friend Dexter had not become a crackhead and (spoiler alert) been crushed to death in an avalanche, and sends the article off to Ski Magazine.

A soulful montage ensues that includes a hot air balloon floating in the distance over the mountains (as often happens to us writers when we send stories off and are waiting to hear if they will be published).

Less than a minute later, TJ goes out to his mailbox, and what does he find inside? An envelope containing a copy of Ski Magazine with his name and the title of his story on the cover!

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42. Spring Breakaggedon 2012

Spring is here (officially, if not temperature wise in most places), and you know what that means:

1) School’s out for Spring Break in a lot of places, so Key West (where I live) is packed with vacationers.

2) Some of those vacationers are staying in my house!

3) But that doesn’t mean new books aren’t getting written (and read and reviewed. More on these below)!

4) Official sneak peek excerpts are getting posted (see below) and Advanced Reader Copies are being released (again, see below)!

5) Ladies Fussypants and Slutty McSluts-a-Lot are ready to party.

During what I’m calling “Spring Breakaggedon 2012,” Lady Fussypants has already managed to develop a nasty addiction to catnip . . . .

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EXPOSED: SNIFFING THE NIP!

. . . and Lady Slutty McSluts-a-Lot has been caught red-pawed in the company of several highly inappropriate suitors with whom she has been spied cavorting in the backyard, and from whom she has picked up some very unladylike habits . . .

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CAUGHT IN A BOX!

Both have disgraced the House of Downton Cabot. We fear an advantageous marriage will now be impossibility for either of them. More on their slow descent into madness later.

On a brighter note, Underworld is officially on its way to a bookstore, Kindle, Nook (or whatever form of reader you prefer) near you! It will be available in the US and Canada on May 8th.

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Henrietta during one of her more lucid moments

For those of you who can’t wait, click here for a sneak peek at the first two chapters of Underworld!

For the date Underworld is coming to your country, click here (coming soon).

What will happen to Pierce and John in Underworld? A LOT. In answer to one of your many frequently asked questions, yes, someone dies at the end.

But Spring is about rebirth/reawakening, so the real question is, will he/she STAY dead?

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Release the Kracken!

On March 20 (the first day of Spring. Get it? The day Persephone was released from the Underworld?), I received a big box of uncorrected proofs, also known as ARCs, from Scholastic. There was much celebrating! Lady Fussypants even laid down the catnip pipe in honor of the occasion.

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Some of you have already won copies of these ARCs, like Katie, whose amazing Pinterest board won our Meg Cabot Pinterest contest!

(Click here to see links to all the fabulous finalists!)

And one amazingly generous bidder won

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43. Help a Book Lover in Need!

Just a quick post since I am (as always) on deadline!

Tons of authors (including this one) are offering up autographed books to raise money for the Red Cross for the recent Midwest tornado victims, many of whom lost everything, but especially their school libraries!

Here’s your chance to be a hero not just to book lovers in need, but whole families! And you get something GREAT out of it (besides a warm fuzzy feeling). Bid on one or more of these signed books these authors have generously donated to Authors for Henryville (Indiana)!

Click here!

All the money will go to the Red Cross, and YOU will get an amazing autographed book (or series of books) by your favorite author(s)!

The auction will run until there are no more books, and/or until we have stamped out tornadoes (sp?) FOREVER! (OK, maybe not that last thing.)

I’m donating a complete signed set of The Princess Diaries (this auction happening now! Bid soon!):

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A complete signed set of the Size 12 is Not Fat series, with an ARC of Size 12 and Ready to Rock to come! (this book will be out this summer):

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A complete signed set of The Mediator series (this auction happening now! Bid soon!):

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A complete signed set of the Insatiable series:

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And a signed copy of Abandon, with an ARC of Underworld to come (Underworld will be out in May)!

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So stay tuned to the Authors for Henryville site to watch for these signed books, and many more by many of your favorite authors, as they come up for auction!

Remember, every little bit helps!

You may not actually have been born a Hoosier* or live in Indiana now, but we Hoosier authors COMPLETELY appreciate your help! Donating automatically makes you an honorary Hoosier.** THANK YOU!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

*Hoosier = anyone born in or who lives in Indiana. No one really knows why.
** Or not, if you don’t want to be. Totally up to you.

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44. Twitter and Facebook Qs Answered

I love reading all your comments and questions on Facebook and Twitter. But some of them require answers that are too long to write in 140 characters. And let’s face fact: I write 55,000-100,000 word books for a living. It’s hard for me to write anything in 140 characters.

So I thought I would try to answer a few questions from Twitter and Facebook here. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see one of yours. Or a friend will see yours, and Tweet you about it. That is what social media is all about!

From Malena
Hi Meg? What are you going to be for Halloween?

Am I the only person freaking out because Halloween is this week and I still haven’t figured out what my costume is going to be? I did come up with one, but when I showed it to some people, no one knew what I was until I explained. See if you can figure it out:

designall.dll

Get it? I’m one of those people who always writes “First” under an online news story whenever he/she is the first one to comment.

OK, never mind, maybe I’ll just go as a witch again, like last year.

From Ana Christina
Helo Meg, how is your cat Henrieta doing? We haven’t heard about her in a while.

Well, thank you for asking, Ana Christina. Henrietta has a bit of arthritis, and now requires special stairs so that she can reach the side of the bathtub on which she likes to stand to drink out of the caps from water bottles, which are the only receptacle from which she will consume liquid. But other than that (and being completely insane) she is doing well.

IMG_3110

From Cristen
Hey Meg, I was wondering if you happened to know when Underworld is coming out because the suspense is killing me!

Dear Cristen,
The suspense is killing me too! I’m glad you want to know more about Pierce and John (and this is a good time of year to wonder about them, since Coffin Night just took place here in Key West! Once again, no coffin burners were actually caught)! Look for Underworld, the sequel to Abandon, in stores in May 2012.

From @janelleminniti
Hanging out for @megcabot to release the next heather wells book…..

Dear Janelle,
That’s funny, because my editor and I were just hanging out, trying to pick a cover for Heather Wells #4! I’d show you what we finally decided on, but then, of course, I would have to kill you. Size 12 and Ready to Rock will be out in late Summer 2012!

From Daphne
I just finished “Overbite” and it was really engrossing! Loved everything about it. I would love to see/read about what happens to them next!! ♥

Thanks Daphne! I’m super glad you liked it. The ending of Overbite certainly left the door open for a third book (with a very intriguing premise for a heavenly love triangle . . . ha ha get it? Heavenly?), but for now I’m concentrating on Heather Wells and the Abandon sequels (and maybe some other surprises if I drink enough caffeine).

From Sanny Appy Gal
Hey Meg!! I love all your books. From the first word I read in the first Princess Diaries Series I fell in love with all your books! I always wanted to know where you get all those awesome ideas!! Can you share your secret?

Good question Sa

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45. Cover Girls

So much book cover stuff is going on, not just with my own books, but other people’s too, that it’s all I can think about.

Which is not good because I have so much to get done before I leave for my mini – book tour at the end of the month in, of all places, FRANCE. I have deadlines to meet and French to learn and suitcases to pack for the Salon du Livre Jeunesse! (If you’re going to be in France at the same time, also look for me in Lille, Montpellier, Strasbourg, and other bookstores of Paris! I’ll be putting up a real schedule soon, but in the meantime, check out my French publisher’s site, Lecture Academy, for updates.)

Meanwhile, both the covers for my 2012 releases have been released, and, if I do say so myself (and I can, since I had nothing to do with them), they’re pretty gorgeous.

But your input is vitally needed for one of them.

But first, OK, the cover for Underworld? OMG. So amazing. Don’t even get me started, I love it so much:

Underworld JKT
Underworld won’t be in stores until May 8, 2012!

Yes, that’s the same model from the first book! Isn’t she amazing? Just LOOK at her. And yes, that’s John’s arm.

Blue is my favorite color (to look at, not to wear), FYI.

But for my next book in the Heather Wells series, Size 12 and Ready to Rock (in stores in July 2012), I completely need your input! Because we’ve got two covers and we couldn’t decide which one was better! So I was like, “What if we just asked everyone what THEY thought?” and my editor, Carrie, was all, “YES.”

So take this uniquely rare opportunity to VOTE on which cover you like better here on the Heather Wells Facebook page (voting ends Sunday)!

This one?

Size12Rock4[8]

Or this one?

Size12Rock42[8]

I know some of you are looking at these covers and thinking, “What is the difference?”

But to some speople (like me) there is clearly a major difference (I will not tell you my preference so as not to prejudice the voters, but I do have one. Although honestly, either one would be fine).

And thank you to the amazing people at William Morrow for letting everyone have their say! You have no idea how many covers we went through to narrow it down to these two! We saw Heather in black dresses, gold dresses, red dresses, green dresses, jeans, on and on.

But this was hands down our fave. It’s just so . . . Heather. Sometimes you have to let your heroine dress up a little. Even if she’s solving a MURDER.

Anyway, here are some of the other things in my life that I’m excited about:

Of course, Princess Mia Thermopolis has a Twitter page and has started Tweeting. Mostly she’s just quoting Grandmere’s advice right now, but occasionally she has her own stuff to say. If only that lazy royal would update her blog.

(It was pretty sad when Princess Mia went to start

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46. Book Tour in France!

So this morning I’m getting on a plane for my book tour in France. This is exactly the kind of glamorous thing that I always imagined I’d be doing if I were ever a published author!

But here’s a little known secret: in real life, hopping on a plane to Paris for your book tour turns out to be less than glamorous (at least if you’re me).

Because right now I can’t find the leggings I just bought (two pairs!) for this very trip.

And I’ve suddenly realized I only have one hour to change planes in Atlanta, which means my suitcase (which weighs 75 pounds even without the leggings, because I’m bringing 3 pairs of boots) will never make it onto the plane.

And my 19 year old cat Henrietta has decided that the floor of the office across the hall from the laundry room where her litter box is actually located is really the most convenient place for her to go to the bathroom (number two only).

Oh, and the touchpad of my MacBook Pro died, just when my revisions are due for Underworld. I have my trusty MacBook Air, but it only has 2 hours of battery, for some reason. Perfect for a 9 hour plane ride during which I hoped to get some work done.

Obviously I shouldn’t complain because

a) I am incredibly lucky (and thrilled) even to be having a book tour in France, and

b) things can only improve, right? By the time I get there and see all those smiling French faces, everything will be fine. Even my suitcase will show up eventually!

But until then, zut alors!

Anyway — yoga breath — this week, Abandon is being released in France. It has the same title in France as it does in America (and England).


Tres jolie!

My French publisher’s amazing website has the lowdown on all the contests and fun stuff that’s going on online while I’m there. But below are some of the places you can stop by to say hi to me in person (sorry I don’t have links for all of them. You should contact the stores to make sure the information is accurate and up-to-date. I do think you might need bracelets and stuff in advance to get in to some of them, so it’s worth double checking).

Lille
Friday, December 2
Signing at Le Furet du Nord bookstore
5:30 – 6:30PM

Montpellier
Saturday, December 3
Signing at Sauramps bookstore
3:00 – 4:30PM

Paris
Sunday, December 4
Signing at the Montreuil Book Fair
4:00 – 6:00PM

Strasbourg
Wednesday, December 7
Signing at La Librairie Kleber bookstore
4:30 – 6:30PM

Paris
Thursday, December 8
Signing at FNAC Montparnasse
6:30PM

And if you have questions you’d like to posez you can posez them here (I have a question. WHERE ARE THOSE LEGGINGS?).

On the days I don’t have events listed, I will still be working — behind the scenes, doing interviews and videos and stuff you’ll see later! I do get a little time off, but this is a work trip! Besides, I used to live in France, so going there is like going home!

OK, I’m completely making that up. But when I was six, my family moved to Grenoble, France for a year so my dad could teach there on sabbatical. I went to French school and actually learned to read in French, from some of the best books of all time . . .

. . . because they saved me from my overwhelming confusion at suddenly being plopped into first grade in a foreign country:

Martine<

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47. Advice from Mia Thermopolis

Hi, it’s me, Princess Mia Thermopolis! I stopped by Meg’s blog to post for her because she’s so busy promoting Abandon, which just came out today for the first time in paperback!

You would think that as a royal, I’d be the busy one, what with going to college and helping my dad to rule a country (for the last time: he only died in the movie version of my life. He is alive and well in real life).

But I’m getting pretty good at multi-tasking. I’m actually writing this during my Interactive Media class (blogging counts as interactive media, right?).

Anyway, a lot of you have been writing to ask where I’ve been lately, and why I haven’t updated my own blog in so long.

Unfortunately, blogging isn’t as emotionally therapeutic as I’d hoped. I hadn’t counted on the fact that everyone can read it (hi, Mom).

I thought Tweeting might be more fun so I’ve been doing that a bit (you can follow me here), but again, those pesky privacy issues.

I really think I’m better off journaling. Who knows, maybe I’ll have something else for my royal biographer to publish someday. We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, since so many of you seem to have questions for me, I thought I’d try to answer a few of them. So here goes:

Dear Princess Mia,

Do you still go to the Plaza in New York City for tea with your grandmother? Because I went there over winter break hoping to get your autograph, and you never showed up.

Wondering If You’re Even Real

Dear Wondering,

As a matter of fact, I am real. I don’t get to the Plaza for tea as much as I used to because I’m in college now and don’t have to take princess lessons anymore (thank God).

I did, however, spend winter break in Genovia, where the median temperature is always seventy-five degrees. (Please plan your next vacation in Genovia!)

Due to my busy study and travel schedule I won’t be making many public appearances in the near future. However, if you’d like to meet my biographer, Meg Cabot, she’s got TWO public events planned for the month of February in advance of the release of Overbite in paperback! If you’ll be in either Texas or California, you can have tea (or lunch) with her, and even sit at her table (if you buy a ticket in time).

The details of those events are:

Saturday, February 18

2:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Tea at Fresh Fiction
The Adolphus

1321 Commerce St

Dallas, TX

Friends, books, chat, and high tea! Who could ask for anything more? Not me. An exclusive luncheon with Meg Cabot in the famous French Room at The Adolphus!

This will be Meg’s only appearance in Texas and a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon! Click here to sign up!

You’ll also get one of the first copies of Overbite, which will be out that month in paperback, which Meg will sign! (She says she’ll sign all your other books, too. Well, the ones you bring/buy at the event that were written by her.)

Maybe she’ll even give you some spoilers about the next book in the Heather Wells series, Size 12 and Ready to Rock, coming out this July, and the sequel to Abandon, Underworld, coming out in May, too!

Click

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48. Best of 2011

Happy New Year! By the time you read this, it will most likely be 2012. How could another year have passed so quickly?

I don’t know. All I know is that 2011 went by like lightning.

Like most writers, I am a person of deep reflection (mostly when it concerns the lives of my characters, and celebrities, too, of course), so I realize that most of the highlights of 2011 — for me, anyway — involved all the traveling I did for the books that I wrote that came out this past year (Abandon and Overbite, not to mention my short story for the anthology What You Wish For) . . . not just this past month in France , but over the summer, too, when I got to go to places like Cedar Rapids and Tulsa and Boston and San Francisco.

L1020007
Shop window in Strasbourg

L1020041
Amazing French rugby shirt and fun poem courtesy of Florence – who wins the prize for coming to the most signings in a single country: every single one of them except one! Florence, you rock. I can’t thank everyone involved in my French tour enough for all their kindness. Merci!

2011 was especially meaningful to me since it was the year I finally found the answer to a question that is asked in nearly every interview I have:

“Which 5 people, living or dead, would you most like to have over for dinner?

How can anyone answer this? I know everyone thinks you can tell something really deep and important from the way a person answers this question, but I personally feel that this question is incredibly stupid, and that no one can tell anything about anyone from the way they answer it – at least not anything deep or meaningful, unless the person mentions 5 dead members of her own family. And this is why:

Everyone expects authors to answer that they’d have someone literary to dinner, such as Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte or maybe Ernest Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald. And I’m ashamed to admit that upon occasion, I have answered in this way.

But the truth is, I was lying. Except for a few of my author friends, I do not want to entertain any authors (except ones I already know) in my home. If you look at the great writers in history, almost all of them have had some kind of mental problem (presumably from being tortured by the burden of their genius, as one of my professors in college explained to us), and have self-medicated to numb the pain of their exceptional intelligence and creativity. This is true of nearly every great artist and musician as well (poor Amy Winehouse).

Most of us who grew up in large Catholic families already know how dinners like this go (generally there is a fist fight, then someone passes out on the living room floor).

It would totally spoil my enjoyment of Pride and Prejudice if its creator came over to my house and threw up on my carpet after too many vodka and cranberries.


Jane Austen. Crazy eyes?

Another way people expect you to answer the “5 People” question is with religious or political figures. Like, “I’d just love to have Jesus Christ, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, and Buddha to my house for dinner.”

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49. What A Girl Wants

The first month of the year is already gone and I haven’t even bought a 2012 wall calendar yet for my office.

But what do you do when you get to OfficeMax and the only calendar choices left over in the store are Indy 500 and Glee? No offense to either of these fine institutions but sometimes I fall asleep in my office (aka my bed). I do not want to wake up and see a car crash or Mr. Shu looking at me first thing in the morning.

Although it’s a bit ironic because I’m from Indiana (home of the Indy 500), and I just found out from D-Listed that Heather Morris (Brittany from Glee) and I have the same birthday (making us both February 1st D-Listed Birthday Sluts). Which I should have known because Brittany and I have so much in common, given our mutual love of cats, rainbows, and unicorns.

Since I didn’t get what I wanted for my birthday (a cat, rainbow, and unicorn office wall calendar, or to wake up in the body of mixed martial artist Carla Gugino), I decided to order Rob O’Neal’s wall calendar online. He’s a local Key West photographer who was badly injured in a scooter accident. All the proceeds from sales of his calendar to go to help his recovery. His photos of the ocean are very soothing to wake up to, I find.

Anyway, I was so touched by how many of you wrote to wish me a happy birthday! You’ve already made my year, and the year’s just getting started! There’s still so much to do before I leave for my mini-book tour for the release of Overbite in paperback on February 7 though!

OVERBITE Italian
Overbite’s sexy Italian cover

I have to, for instance, learn how to become a mixed-martial arts expert like the guys in Warrior (which the Oscars ignored, except for Nick Nolte. Whatever, Oscars! And no best supporting actor for the guy who played the monkey in Rise of the Planet of Apes? I give up).


It’s gonna be OK, buddy. Look, my arm grew back from last year.

I’m leaving for Dallas, TX (LOVE YOU DALLAS) where I’ll be on Saturday, February 18 from NOON to 3:30PM (check it out! This event had a time change!) for Tea at The Adolphus on 1321 Commerce St!

(Actually, with the time change, this is now more of a lunch. YUM)

I hope I’ll see you there! There are still some tables left, so click here to make a reservation!

What you’ll get if you go to this event:

*A delicious lunch.

*One of the first copies of Overbite in paperback, signed (I’ll sign all your other books, too. Even books not written be me. I’ve done it before. Sorry, JK Rowling, the kid was convinced I was you. Also, I signed that copy of Webster’s Dictionary. I wasn’t going to tell that kid no.)

*An edifying talk about unicorns princesses Keynesian economic theory writing, the creative process, how to get published, and live your dream. Or at least how to deal with the fact that you are not a mixed-martial arts fighter (yet) but that dream could still come true if you get a

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50. Recap of Downton Cabot

This has been a very tumultuous week at Downton Cabot. Here are the things you need to know if you want to keep up:

Lady Henrietta “Fussypants” Cabot has begun rising before 7AM every morning, insisting on being fed Whiska Temptations by hand.

Hen4
Portrait of Lady Fussypants in the Powder Room, waiting for hand feeding

As there is no butler (I tried to hire one, but annoyingly, he wishes to remain with his current employer. Ungrateful wretch!), and I do not rise until 8AM (preferably 10AM) at the earliest, this is annoying.

The local surgeon (mobile vet) has been consulted to see if Lady Fussypants’ odd behavior can be explained (she’s also begun to express sympathy with a local street cat who claims to be the amnesiatic heir to Downton Cabot, and has had an affair with a married farm cat for which she’s yet to express the slightest remorse).

Hen2
Lady Fussypants, caught in scandal!

Meanwhile, Lady Fussypants’s sister, Lady Gem “Slutty-McSlut-A-Lot” Cabot, killed a visiting Turkish noblecat with her vagina. Obviously none of us knew such a thing was possible, but somehow she managed it.

(Technically she might have done it with another orifice. The details are a bit sketchy.)

Like her sister, no remorse has been expressed, except remorse that killing a Turk with her vagina has made it impossible for her to marry the cat of her dreams.

Gem3
GUILTY!

Just when we thought things were calming down, the Spanish Influenza broke out. The local surgeon (for humans) was summoned to Downton Cabot.

“My God,” the surgeon cried, looking at that weird thermometer they stick in your ear at the doctor’s office. “100.7? You’ve got a fever! Does your throat hurt?”

Me: “Wait. I’m actually sick for once? This is awesome!”

“She always thinks she’s sick,” He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog explained, and pulled a list from his shirt pocket. “Let me tell you the diseases she thinks she’s had in the past few weeks. Spinal meningitis, dengue fever, that thing you get from cleaning out the litter box, walking pneumonia, whatever kind of cancer it was that guy had in the movie 50/50—”

Me (to doctor): “SHOULD my throat hurt? Are sore throats going around?”

Doctor: “Here, take Tamiflu if your body begins to ache. How long have you felt sick?”

Me: “How would I know? I just sit in bed all day reading my own writing and hand feeding Whiska Temptations to my 20 year old demented cat. I always feel sick. Wouldn’t you?”

Doctor: “Good point.”

Husband: “—whatever they got in the movie Contagion, whatever all the people have in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, every disease anyone has ever had on Dr. G. Medical Examiner—”

Gem2
Lady McSlut-A-Lot retires to her bed of Padded Envelopes in shame

Hen3
Lady Fussypants is

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