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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Megs Diary, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. 25 More Things You Don’t Know About Meg

1.  Meg’s written over 80 books which have been published in 38 countries, including the US, UK, Brazil, France, Germany, Poland, and Japan, among many others.

 

2.  She has over 25 million books in print.

 

3.  Meg was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008 (it runs in her family), which is sad because most of her favorite foods have gluten in them.

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4.  But don’t feel sorry for her because many of Meg’s books have been #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, in addition to being USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and BookSense bestsellers. So she’s doing OK, except for the gluten thing.  And there is no gluten in wine.

 

5.  Meg wrote and illustrated her first story at the age of 7. It was called “Benny the Puppy.” Benny’s entire family dies in a freak prairie tornado.

 

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6.  Meg’s writing career began in 1998 when her first historical romance for adults, Where Roses Grow Wild, was published under the pen name Patricia Cabot (so Meg’s grandmother wouldn’t know she was writing books with sex in them).

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Her grandmother found out, though, so now all Meg’s books are published under her real name.

 

7.  The Princess Diaries was rejected by almost every publisher in North America with the exception of Avon/HarperCollins.

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8. The American Library Association called The Princess Diaries: “Like reading a note from your best friend.”

 

9.  Meg met her husband when she was 16, but they didn’t start dating until she was 24. They have been married for over 20 years.

 

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10.  Meg’s “Boy” books are popular world wide because of their “short chapters,” “realistic but romantic plots,” and “satisfying” endings.  The “Boy” books are told in text, email, and journal format.


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11. Meg can name all fifty states in alphabetical order in less than 30 seconds and has won quite a bit of money from people who bet that she could not do so.

 

12. Meg’s been blogging since 2003. Her post about her experience on 9/11 has been incorporated into the curriculum of some classrooms.

 

13. Meg’s 1-800-Where-R-You series (now re-titled Vanished) was made into a television series called Missing starring Vivica A Fox and Mark Consuelos. It ran on the Lifetime Channel for 3 seasons.

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14. Meg is an insomniac. That’s how she’s written so many books.

 

15. All author proceeds from Meg’s historical romance novel, Ransom My Heart, are donated to Greenpeace. Meg has also contributed 100% of the proceeds from stories she’s written for anthologies to the Teenage Cancer Trust, War Child, No Strings, Lisa Libraries, Kids Company, the New York Public Libraries, Reading Is Fundamental, The Lower Eastside Girls Club of New York City, First Book, the UN Refugee Agency, and Girls Write Now. To see a complete list of all the books Meg has written, including the anthologies, go here.

 

16. Meg’s mom was an extra in the Oscar-winning 1979 coming-of-age film Breaking Away.  You can read Meg’s mom’s texts to Meg on Meg’s Twitter.

 

17. The summer of 2015 will mark the 15th Anniversary of  The Princess Diaries and Mediator series.  To celebrate, Meg will be releasing two new adult sequels: Remembrance, Mediator #7, and Royal Wedding, Princess Diaries #11. A third book, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, will also be available, and will introduce a brand new princess.  Read more here.

 

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18. The best gift Meg has been given by a fan (so far) is a life-size, papier-mâché replica of Princess Mia’s cat, Fat Louie.

 

19.  Meg is a member of the Author’s Guild, the Screenwriters Guild, The Romance Writers of America, and Literati with Lyme, which helps raise awareness about lyme disease, which Meg contracted in 2002. Meg believes everyone should be tested yearly for lyme, even people like her who hate hiking.

 

20. Avalon High, a modern re-telling of the myth of Camelot, was a New York Times and Publishers Weekly best seller; selected by the New York Public Library as a “Book for the Teen Age”; named to the Texas Lone Star Reading List; nominated as an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Kentucky Bluegrass Award, Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award, and YALSA Popular Paperback; and was made into a Disney Channel movie.

AvalonHighAd_low

 

21. Meg owns a home in Indiana that was made from two converted barns.

 

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22. Meg enjoys supporting young writers and has judged the Seventeen Magazine Fiction Contest several times.

 

23. In 1994, when Meg was 26, her father passed away suddenly. He inspired Meg’s own love of genre fiction by reading a mystery novel a day, but he died before he ever read a single one of her published works. Meg hopes he’d enjoy them, especially the Mediator series, which he helped inspire.

 

24. Meg likes cats, reading, watching TV, swimming, bike riding, boating, and being in the sun. Meg does not like cars, coffee, cell phones or cold weather.

 

25. Meg’s been called “the master of her genre” by Publishers Weekly, but her favorite accomplishment so far is writing books that fans call their favorite “comfort read.” She hopes to continue to keep doing so for a long time.

 

More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

 

 

 

 

The post 25 More Things You Don’t Know About Meg appeared first on Meg Cabot.

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2. 9/11: Keep It From Happening Again

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

I think it’s especially important to post this year given the fact that the other day I overheard some guy ask: “Why should we care if a few Westerners want to join ISIS? What’s the worst that could happen?”

I’d like to think this guy is just some random butthole, but given a new study I just read that only 54% of the world’s population has ever heard of the Holocaust, I think some people have forgotten about 9/11, or think it was only about “a few buildings” getting blown up, not thousands of normal every day people just like you and me dying in the most horrible ways imaginable simply because they did what most of us do every morning: They went to work.

And now, only 13 years later, another “radical terrorist group” has sprung up in the Middle East. Some Westerners think they aren’t “that much of a threat,” or even that their “cause” has merit.  Um, what?

Look, I get it. 9/11 is depressing. This has been a bummer summer.  We’d all rather read about the Royal Wedding of Princess Mia and Michael Moscovitz. But it won’t be available until 2015.

And a writer’s job isn’t only to entertain: It’s to record the tragedies of history so they won’t be forgotten and repeated, and also to point out acts of heroism so that they’ll inspire others to act similarly in future events.  So read on.  There’s tragedy in this, but there’s plenty of inspirational heroism, too, I promise.

 

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Meg’s 9/11 Diary

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

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

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

He has never been jogging again.

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

Jen: “Look out your window.”

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

Me: “What’s happening?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I didn’t know that then.

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

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

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

Of course none of us knew it then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But newscasters don’t cry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s when I got REALLY freaked out.

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

It was like the world had turned upside down.

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

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

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

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

No reply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now one of those towers was coming down.

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

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

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

Because HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON.

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

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

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

And they kept walking.

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

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

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

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

Despite all the horror and misery of that day, there many, many acts of heroic bravery that continue to make me proud to be a human (and, let’s face it, an American). The “boat lift” from Manhattan is one of them. It is completely worth watching this short documentary about it by Tom Hanks if you have not seen it already.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was when Shai and I had the following conversation:

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

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

Shai: “How do you know?”

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

Shai: “Ever?”

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

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

Me: “The police will catch them.”

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

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

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

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

Shai (no longer crying): “Okay.”

And she went back to her puzzle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Not today,” Fred said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the important thing is that we never forget . . . and that we never stop trying.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

The post 9/11: Keep It From Happening Again appeared first on Meg Cabot.

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3. New For 2015 From Meg Cabot

You: “Hey, Meg, why don’t you have any books coming out in 2014?”

Me: “Because I’ve been so busy on a couple secret projects!”

Thanks to this exclusive story from the Wall Street Journal, they aren’t so secret anymore.

2015 is a special year for me. It marks the 15th Anniversary of the publication of The Princess Diaries, Volume 1, and Shadowland, Book 1 in The Mediator series. To celebrate this, in Summer 2015, I’ll be releasing three new books:  two in the Princess Diaries series, and one in the Mediator series!

Here’s the scoop:

 

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 Mediator 7

In REMEMBRANCE (William Morrow), the seventh installment of the Mediator series, all Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva).

But when she stumbles across an ancient murder, old ghosts—and ex-boyfriends—aren’t all that come back to haunt her.

REMEMBRANCE will be the first ever adult installment of the Mediator, published by the adult division of HarperCollins, the company that brought you the YA books in the series.

 

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Princess Diaries XI

In ROYAL WEDDING (William Morrow), Princess Diaries XI, Princess Mia’s planned nuptials to longtime love Michael Moscovitz are in jeopardy when the paparazzi uncover a startling secret: Mia has a long lost younger sister.

Now a scheming politico is using the royal scandal to force Mia’s father from the throne, leaving Genovia without a monarch . . . unless Mia can prove to everyone—especially herself—that she’s finally fit to rule.

ROYAL WEDDING will be the first ever adult installment of the Princess Diaries, published by the adult division of HarperCollins, the company that brought you the YA books in the series.

But don’t worry! Even though these will both be released as adult books in Summer 2015, you’ll also be able to share the princess power with your favorite younger reader:

In FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS (Macmillan) a new middle grade series, I’m taking readers back to Genovia, this time through the illustrated diaries of a spunky new heroine, 12 year old Olivia Grace, who happens to be the long lost half-sister of Princess Mia Thermopolis.

I’m super excited to be working with Jean Feiwel of Feiwel & Friends (a publisher of innovative fiction and non-fiction at Macmillan) with a new character for a younger audience. Olivia Grace has a biracial background, and that has a special resonance for me and my family. I’m hoping readers will be as excited about it as I am!

‘From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess’  marks the first time I’ve illustrated my own children’s fiction (even though I have a BA in Fine Arts from Indiana University, and I moved to New York City originally to be an illustrator! It’s just one of those things that never worked out until now.  Although being a bestselling author has been OK, too).  I’m SO grateful to Macmillan (and Jean Feiwel) for helping to make it happen!

Genovia Royal Family 2

 Art not final. Obviously! This is a sample sketch I did of Olivia and Mia!

I love both the Princess Diaries and the Mediator series because I have so much in common with those characters. Mia is bad at math, like me; Suze has a bad attitude, like me; Mia loves animals and creative writing, like me; Suze loves fashion and sees ghosts, like me. (Ha, kidding, only Suze sees ghosts.)

And now Mia has a younger mixed race sibling, like me (only mine is adopted. And a boy.  And I highly doubt Mia will fight with her sibling over the TV remote like I used to do with mine. Also, Mia is more than ten years older than Olivia Grace, so they don’t really watch the same TV shows. And in the palace in Genovia, there’s more than one television).

Genovia Royal Family 1

 

Art not final! Obviously Grandmere won’t have cocktail glasses in her portrait in the real book! It’s for kids!

I’ve been planning this book for some time. I got the inspiration a few years ago from actual goings-on in the royal family of Monaco (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to brush up on your royal family gossip). Of course there are major differences between Genovia and Monaco. For one thing, all children born to the heir to the throne of Genovia are in line to inherit. This is not so in Monaco. And for another thing, Michael Moscovitz is  not Grace Kelly.

I’m guessing some longtime readers of the Princess Diaries series are wondering, “But didn’t Mia’s dad, Prince Philippe, say he couldn’t have any more kids?” Well, you’ll just have to wait to read ROYAL WEDDING (and ‘FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS’) to find out the details!

(For those of you going, “Wait . . . didn’t her dad die in the movie?” for the last time, Mia’s father is alive in the books.)

For those of you wondering if Paul Slater is in Mediator 7,  the answer is yes, he is. There are a lot of comments I could make about that but I will restrain myself.

You may have noticed that I don’t have any public appearances scheduled for 2014.  That’s because I’m gearing up for such a busy 2015! 

(PS For those of you who regularly follow this blog who are wondering what happened to the boat I was buying, I’m still testing out which kind of boat I want.  But my friends who own boats have grown tired of my pointing at myself and saying, “I’m the captain now,” then taking over the wheel–though that joke NEVER gets tired to me. So I figured it was time to go back to writing for a bit.)

In the meantime, stay tuned to this blog and to my social media network feeds for updates, news, and maybe even a chance to win some sneak peeks at the upcoming books (like this one. You can bid to win a sneak peek chapter of either Royal Wedding or Remembrance, in addition to a complete signed set of the Princess Diaries series. AND all the money goes to diabetes research)!

As always, thanks for reading!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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4. The 95%, or Where the Rest of Us Went to College

Well, it’s that time again: High school seniors have found out where they’re going to college next year, and are either celebrating, or filled with despair (or maybe somewhere in between).

I certainly hope you (or your loved ones) fall into the celebration category.

But if you don’t, you aren’t alone. Thanks to the easier to submit “electronic” Common App, more people than ever applied to “elite” or top tier colleges.  This has led to more people than ever–95%–getting rejected. (Source: The New York Times)

I know not making it into your dream school (or even your second or third or fourth choice school) hurts. But fear not if you or your loved one is among the 95%, because I have good news:

Everything is going to be fine.

How do I know?

Because most of us fall into the 95%.  And because of facts.

Fact #1:

Did you know that in a new Gallup poll given to business leaders, only 9% ranked where an applicant went to college as “very important”?  They were more concerned with the applicant’s “knowledge” and “applied skills.” (Source: Inside Higher Ed)

Personally when I’m hiring someone (and I’ve employed a shockingly high amount of people in my lifetime), I rank “fashion sense” and “humor” as most important. But we all have our foibles.

Fact #2:

Just because your friend Tara got into your dream school and you didn’t doesn’t mean Tara is smarter or more talented than you are. Maybe Tara’s mom knows someone, or Tara got an interview, or Tara said something that really clicked on a personal level with someone reading her essay.

(As someone who worked in a college for 10 years, I can assure you that this happens A LOT. When any kid wrote/drew something on a form that made me laugh, I gave that kid anything he/she wanted. Work is boring.)

Do NOT take rejection personally. Make like Elsa in Frozen and let it go.

Fact #3:

“I don’t care where someone went to school,” says Warren Buffett, richest man on the planet (who attended University of Nebraska-Lincoln). “That never caused me to hire anyone or buy a business.” (Source:  The Wall Street Journal)

Warren prefers to work with people who make him laugh, too.  See?

Fact #4:

A vast variety of schools have yielded Fortune 500 CEOs. They include Southern Methodist University (#10 on the list) Texas A&M (#13), San Diego State (#16), Purdue (#18), University of Michigan (#18), and University of Kansas (#20). Indiana University tied with Northwestern (6 MBA  grads each). (Source: Poets and Quants.com)

Fact #5:

“You can go to a top-end school and end up dramatically underperforming, or you can go to a place that cares, and blow away what everyone thinks,” says Bill Green, retired CEO of global Accenture management consulting firm.

Green feels angry when he encounters “parents who are afraid or ashamed to say their son or daughter is attending a community college,” he says. Green attended a very small private college (Dean), and was very close to his professors there. (Source:  The Wall Street Journal)

Fact #6:

While I can completely understand the appeal of the Ivy’s since they’re so heavily endowed that they can offer free tuition to students from low-income families, and I know people think that going to a top tier school is necessary for networking, networking (and financial aid) is also available at state, technical, and community colleges as well. So are scholarships.

Fact #7:

Half of all college students go to community (or technical) college at some point in their lives. (Source: Business Insider)

So why, when it’s not necessary, and has even been proven to be harmful to them, do kids (and often their parents) put so much pressure on themselves to get into these top tier schools (aside from the free tuition, of course)?

Fact #8:

Some of that pressure may come from the schools themselves. By getting their application numbers up, the schools can advertise the following year about how popular (and selective) they are.

Many schools do this by sending marketing materials to perspective applicants they’re fully aware have no hope of being admitted. (Source: The New York Times)

Fact #9:

I know several college guidance counselors who complain that they can mention all the other many fine schools that are out there until they are blue in the face, but some young people (and occasionally their parents) are still only interested in the more famous “name brand” schools.

These students only want what they consider the “best,” because they’ve been told all their lives by the media (and often their parents) that they “deserve the best.”

But the  “best fit” often isn’t a “name brand” school, just as “name brand” jeans don’t look good on everyone. We all have to find our own style.

Fact #10:

We all know that an education at an elite school is no guarantee of success later in life.  Take a look at some of these Very Bad Ivy League Scandals.

I will close now with these uplifting facts for anyone feeling glum about their educational future:

Uplifting Fact #1:

My idol, George Lucas, who wrote and directed Star Wars, began his educational career at Modesto Junior College (studying anthropology, which makes sense if you consider the Ewoks), and Walt Disney, who won 48 Academy awards and 7 Emmys, went to Metropolitan Junior College in Missouri. Both community colleges! (Source:  Business Insider)

Uplifting Fact #2:

John Grisham went to Northwest Mississippi Community College, then later Cleveland Delta State University before attending Mississippi State, where he studied accounting and then finally attained a law degree. None of this appears to have interfered whatsoever with his becoming the author of A Time To Kill, one of the bestselling suspense novels of all time. (Source: Huffington Post)

Uplifting Fact #3:

Other well known writers who studied everything but writing at non-Ivy League schools include myself (art major, Indiana University) and Barbara Kingsolver (author of The Poisonwood Bible) who studied classical piano and then biology before finally earning a masters degree in Ecology from the University of Arizona.

Uplifting Fact #4:

Sue Monk Kidd got a BS in Nursing from Texas Christian University before getting her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, published when she was 54. 

Uplifting Fact #5:

JK Rowling famously applied to Oxford but was rejected, “only” to go University of Exeter, where she studied French and Classical Literature. (The University of Exeter sounds pretty good to me.)

Uplifting Fact #6: 

Finally, remember: it’s not about where you get your education.  It’s about how hard you study while you’re there, what you do with what you learn, and the kind of person you strive to be after graduation that really matters.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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5. The 95%, or Where the Rest of Us Went to College

Well, it’s that time again: High school seniors have found out where they’re going to college next year, and are either celebrating, or filled with despair (or maybe somewhere in between).

I certainly hope you (or your loved ones) fall into the celebration category.

But if you don’t, you aren’t alone. Thanks to the easier to submit “electronic” Common App, more people than ever applied to “elite” or top tier colleges.  This has led to more people than ever–95%–getting rejected. (Source: The New York Times)

I know not making it into your dream school (or even your second or third or fourth choice school) hurts. But fear not if you or your loved one is among the 95%, because I have good news:

Everything is going to be fine.

How do I know?

Because most of us fall into the 95%.  And because of facts.

Fact #1:

Did you know that in a new Gallup poll given to business leaders, only 9% ranked where an applicant went to college as “very important”?  They were more concerned with the applicant’s “knowledge” and “applied skills.” (Source: Inside Higher Ed)

Personally when I’m hiring someone (and I’ve employed a shockingly high amount of people in my lifetime), I rank “fashion sense” and “humor” as most important. But we all have our foibles.

Fact #2:

Just because your friend Tara got into your dream school and you didn’t doesn’t mean Tara is smarter or more talented than you are. Maybe Tara’s mom knows someone, or Tara got an interview, or Tara said something that really clicked on a personal level with someone reading her essay.

(As someone who worked in a college for 10 years, I can assure you that this happens A LOT. When any kid wrote/drew something on a form that made me laugh, I gave that kid anything he/she wanted. Work is boring.)

Do NOT take rejection personally. Make like Elsa in Frozen and let it go.

Fact #3:

“I don’t care where someone went to school,” says Warren Buffett, richest man on the planet (who attended University of Nebraska-Lincoln). “That never caused me to hire anyone or buy a business.” (Source:  The Wall Street Journal)

Warren prefers to work with people who make him laugh, too.  See?

Fact #4:

A vast variety of schools have yielded Fortune 500 CEOs. They include Southern Methodist University (#10 on the list) Texas A&M (#13), San Diego State (#16), Purdue (#18), University of Michigan (#18), and University of Kansas (#20). Indiana University tied with Northwestern (6 MBA  grads each). (Source: Poets and Quants.com)

Fact #5:

“You can go to a top-end school and end up dramatically underperforming, or you can go to a place that cares, and blow away what everyone thinks,” says Bill Green, retired CEO of global Accenture management consulting firm.

Green feels angry when he encounters “parents who are afraid or ashamed to say their son or daughter is attending a community college,” he says. Green attended a very small private college (Dean), and was very close to his professors there. (Source:  The Wall Street Journal)

Fact #6:

While I can completely understand the appeal of the Ivy’s since they’re so heavily endowed that they can offer free tuition to students from low-income families, and I know people think that going to a top tier school is necessary for networking, networking (and financial aid) is also available at state, technical, and community colleges as well. So are scholarships.

Fact #7:

Half of all college students go to community (or technical) college at some point in their lives. (Source: Business Insider)

So why, when it’s not necessary, and has even been proven to be harmful to them, do kids (and often their parents) put so much pressure on themselves to get into these top tier schools (aside from the free tuition, of course)?

Fact #8:

Some of that pressure may come from the schools themselves. By getting their application numbers up, the schools can advertise the following year about how popular (and selective) they are.

Many schools do this by sending marketing materials to perspective applicants they’re fully aware have no hope of being admitted. (Source: The New York Times)

Fact #9:

I know several college guidance counselors who complain that they can mention all the other many fine schools that are out there until they are blue in the face, but some young people (and occasionally their parents) are still only interested in the more famous “name brand” schools.

These students only want what they consider the “best,” because they’ve been told all their lives by the media (and often their parents) that they “deserve the best.”

But the  “best fit” often isn’t a “name brand” school, just as “name brand” jeans don’t look good on everyone. We all have to find our own style.

Fact #10:

We all know that an education at an elite school is no guarantee of success later in life.  Take a look at some of these Very Bad Ivy League Scandals.

I will close now with these uplifting facts for anyone feeling glum about their educational future:

Uplifting Fact #1:

My idol, George Lucas, who wrote and directed Star Wars, began his educational career at Modesto Junior College (studying anthropology, which makes sense if you consider the Ewoks), and Walt Disney, who won 48 Academy awards and 7 Emmys, went to Metropolitan Junior College in Missouri. Both community colleges! (Source:  Business Insider)

Uplifting Fact #2:

John Grisham went to Northwest Mississippi Community College, then later Cleveland Delta State University before attending Mississippi State, where he studied accounting and then finally attained a law degree. None of this appears to have interfered whatsoever with his becoming the author of A Time To Kill, one of the bestselling suspense novels of all time. (Source: Huffington Post)

Uplifting Fact #3:

Other well known writers who studied everything but writing at non-Ivy League schools include myself (art major, Indiana University) and Barbara Kingsolver (author of The Poisonwood Bible) who studied classical piano and then biology before finally earning a masters degree in Ecology from the University of Arizona.

Uplifting Fact #4:

Sue Monk Kidd got a BS in Nursing from Texas Christian University before getting her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, published when she was 54. 

Uplifting Fact #5:

JK Rowling famously applied to Oxford but was rejected, “only” to go University of Exeter, where she studied French and Classical Literature. (The University of Exeter sounds pretty good to me.)

Uplifting Fact #6: 

Finally, remember: it’s not about where you get your education.  It’s about how hard you study while you’re there, what you do with what you learn, and the kind of person you strive to be after graduation that really matters.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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6. 1O Tips for an Amazing Spring Break

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

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

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

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

P1000021

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

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

Click here to view the embedded video.

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

L1010800SPF 50

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

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

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

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

beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

boy-meets-girl1

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

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

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

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

One last Spring Break rec:

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

harriet

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

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Danger! No pushing over rocks at the beach!

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

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

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

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

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

More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

 

 

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7. Happy Holidays!

This is my favorite time of year.

I love the lights and good tidings, not to mention all the crazy shows on TLC and HGTV about Christmas-themed weddings and competing with their neighbors to decorate your house (which I like to watch while gorging on peppermint bark).

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 (A festively decorated Key West house, with a holiday dolphin theme, of course!)

I also love all the stories about strangers paying off the lay-aways of single moms at K-mart and I TOTALLY love all the crazy “gift guides” celebrities put on their blogs because we’re so going to give someone an ugly $45,000 watch as suggested by Rachel Zoe.

But this time of year I also start having stress dreams that I’m still working at the first real job I ever had (as a gift wrapper in a bookstore), and I’ve accidentally wrapped someone’s perfect gift wrong, ruining their ENTIRE holiday.

The truth is I think I’m better at choosing (and wrapping) gifts for my fictional characters (check out the What Would Meg Cabot’s Characters Want Holiday Pinterest page) than real life friends and family (and store customers).

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(Something John Hayden from the Abandon series might receive.)

If you’re like me and waited until now to start your holiday shopping, there’s still time! Here is MY celebrity gift guide, the nicest thing about which is that most of the gifts are free or next to free:

Give someone this FREE online booklet of some cartoons. I did (yes. I draw too)!

The best part about this gift? IT IS FREE (it’s also good. Well, in my opinion).

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If you know someone who is Brazilian and speaks/reads Brazilian Portuguese, Size 12 and Ready to Rock was just released there on December 9 (read a free sample here).  So you could give them a copy.  Also FREE (well, the sample is. The book itself costs money).

 

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Of course, the sequel,  The Bride Wore Size 12, is already out in the US and Canada as a trade paperback and e-book, which makes it the perfect stocking stuffer, if you ask me (but I’ve already read it, so I hope no one gets it for me).  However, this costs money, unless you go to the many websites online where you can find pirated versions. I am not going to link to them however, since I can’t make it THAT easy!

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You could also try surprising a loved one with the gift of a copy of Holiday Princess (we’re giving you a chance to win one here).

 

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But since the contest ends AFTER the holidays, this suggestion probably defeats the purpose.

People keep asking me, “But Meg, what do YOU want for Christmas?”

I already got what I wanted for Christmas: a sabbatical.  For those of you who don’t know what this word means, here is the definition:

 

Any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.

 

I’ve been taking a little break from writing to do other things (such as drawing)  . . . although my sabbatical hasn’t been too successful as it turns out I can’t help writing, so I can’t help sneaking bits of that in.

Other than that, though, it’s been LOVELY. I got to spend time (the entire month of October!) with family and friends in Europe. My good friend Michele Jaffe has been spending the winter in Key West (she even helped decorate our tree)! I even have a secret project I’ve been working on that no one knows about!  Shh! Don’t tell.

 

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The project does not involve Slutty-McSlut-A-Lot. She just looks cute in this photo. 

All in all, if I’d been on that Westjet flight where Santa asked all the passengers what they wanted (and at the end of the flight, everyone got what they asked for at baggage claim!), I wouldn’t have known what to say to Santa! Because I truly have everything I ever dreamed of . . .

Well, except this unicorn from the movie Legend.

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I wish the same for all of you in 2014, and much, much more!

More later.

Much Love,

Meg

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8. Literary Death Match

I’ve got four (4) book events this week!

Mostly all writers do is sit around and write (or sit around and not write, in which case, we can usually be found watching Law & Order reruns, fretting that we’ll never write again, or writer anything as good as Law and Order, especially the SVUs).

But sometimes, we go out and talk about writing. That’s almost as fun as writing . . . in some cases, more fun.

It’s particularly true of the Miami Book Festival (it’s the festival’s 30th anniversary!). I’m going there this week, as well as attending some signings in the surrounding area! I’ll also be judging a “Literary Death Match.” Oh, yes: A death match is going down.

When? Where? Check it out:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


8:00 PM

MURDER ON THE BEACH MYSTERY BOOKSTORE

Delray Beach

273 Pineapple Grove Way

Delray Beach, FL 33444

 

 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

6:30 PM

PALM BEACH COUNTY LIBRARY

Meet the Author

1951 Royal Fern Drive

Wellington, FL 33414

 

 

Friday, November 22, 2013


8:00PM to 10:00PM

LITERARY DEATH MATCH

Bardot Lounge

3456 N Miami Ave, Miami

This event is for adults only, age 21+

NO CHILDREN

Doors open at 6

 

 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

11AM

Miami International Book Festival

Building 8, 2nd Floor Room 8201

 

 

Hope I’ll see you at some of these events!

I don’t know about you, but all the Christmas ads on TV (and decorations in the stores) have made me feel inadequate. I haven’t even put away my leftover Halloween candy. I’m not ready for Christmas! And you can see from the expression of Slutty-McSlut-A-Lot, aka Gem, what she thinks about the whole thing:

But here’s an easy and practically FREE gift-giving idea to get you started on the holiday shopping for the book lovers in your life:

Send a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to my PO Box (address below), and I’ll return it to you filled with the autographed bookplates (indicate how many you’d like, and if you’d like them personalized), bookmarks, flyers, and postcards pictured here (jewelry and family photos not included)!

Send the SASE to:

Meg Cabot


P.O. Box 4904


Key West, FL 33041-4904

Send your SASE early (as in now) so it can be sent back to you in time for the holidays, so you can then give it to your friend/loved one!

You can also send Meg Cabot books themselves to be autographed and personalized, too, but please also enclose an envelope with correct postage on it for their return, and include plenty of time for their return before the holidays!

If you need a guide on which Meg Cabot books are appropriate for which age range, you can find it here.

As for what else I’m up to, the answer is . . . writing (and of course, not writing. Never be too hard on yourself)! As many of you know, November is National Novel Writing Month and I’ve been posting (almost) daily word counts on Twitter about the book I’m working on (uh, the days I actually work on it), reading all your inspirational tweets, and eating lots of mini-Butterfingers leftover from Halloween. So fun (although I have to stop with the Butterfingers. Only because I’m almost out of them).

But in between, I can’t help but think of everyone in the Philippines who is suffering from the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most catastrophic storms in history. Please join me in donating to the Red Cross if you can, or to Unicef. Even texting $10 could help make a difference! Maraming salamat po (Filipino for Thank you very much)!

Click here to view the embedded video.

 

Now back to packing for my trip to Miami . . . and to that secret book I’m working on! Hope you’re doing well, and that I’ll see you this week at one of my events. But if not, remember:

Be safe, be happy, but most of all – be yourself!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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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13. 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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14. 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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15. 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.

IMG_3042
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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16. 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.

P1000908 - Version 2

“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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17. 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:

photo3

photo2

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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18. 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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19. 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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20. The Bride Wore Size 12 Bridal Tour!

I can’t believe summer is over already!

This would be super depressing if there weren’t so many fun things to look forward to this fall, such as wearing stylish boots (for those of you who don’t live in Florida), the return of Scandal (the dishiest show on television right now), and of course the return of Heather Wells in The Bride Wore Size 12, which is going to be in stores (and available for download) in the U.S. and Canada in about 2 weeks (official pub date 9/24) …

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And none of the book tour stops for The Bride Wore Size 12 are going to interfere with Scandal (which premieres Oct 3)!

I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, “But Meg, you’re an award-winning, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of something like 80 books, with more than 25 million copies sold, in nearly 40 countries. Surely you would not let a mere TV show stop you from making an appearance to promote your new book.”

Olivia Pope of Scandal dedicates her life to protecting the innocent (and also the public images of the nation’s elite)!

Heather Wells of the Size 12 series and the soon-to-be released The Bride Wore Size 12 dedicates her life to protecting the innocent (and also the students housed in the elite college residence hall where she works)!

Both women solve murders, and are having red hot affairs with sinfully sexy men!

Both women love popcorn, and also alcoholic beverages!

Sadly for Olivia, she doesn’t seem anywhere close to marrying her one true love. But wedding bells are ringing for Heather Wells in The Bride Wore Size 12.

Or ARE they?

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Yes! They are!

And guess who’s invited to the wedding? YOU!

In The Bride Wore Size 12, a whole new school year has started for assistant resident hall director Heather Wells. Not only that, but she’s finally getting married to her one true love, P.I. Cooper Cartwright!

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But you know what the new school year always seems to bring to Heather:

MURDER!

Will she be able to tie the knot – much less get her freshmen settled – without getting involved in a double homicide? The first event in The Bride Wore Size 12 celebration book tour is in less than ONE week! Maybe we’ll find out there.

Join me in a special ONLINE chat on Tuesday, September 10 at 7PM EST (4PM PCT) with one of my favorite authors (and people) the beautiful, talented author Rachel Vail.

Space is limited, so to reserve yours, go to Book Talk Nation now. You can join me while I chat with Rachel about very important things such as popcorn and where we get our ideas, and ask any question of your own that you want (within reason. Please don’t ask about that one time we went on that secret mission for the CIA to rescue the President’s children, because we’re still not allowed to talk about it).

Signed copies of both my own AND Rachel’s books will be available for purchase (but copies of The Bride Wore Size 12 won’t ship until the on-sale date of September 24)!

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Here’s the complete list of all the other events (so far) for The Bride Wore Size 12 Tour! Note that NONE of them interfere with your Scandal viewing!

For details on registering or ticket purchasing for the signings, please click on the provided event links (which took me a really long time to write out, so seriously, click on them. If they’re wrong, it’s my fault, write and let me know).

Saturday, September 21, 2013
LONG ISLAND

7:00 PM
BOOK REVUE
313 New York Ave
Huntington, NY 11743
Book Revue

Sunday, September 22, 2013
NEW YORK
10:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST
BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL
154 Christopher ST
New York, NY 10014
Brooklyn Book Festival

Monday, September 23, 2013
CONNECTICUT

7:00 PM
RJ JULIA BOOKSELLERS
768 Boston Post Road
Madison, CT 06443
RJ Julia Booksellers

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
NEW JERSEY

7:00PM
BOOKENDS
211 E Ridgewood Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Book Ends

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS

7:00 PM
BARNES & NOBLE
3225 W 69th St
Edina, MN 55435
Barnes & Noble

Thursday, September 26, 2013

CHICAGO

7:00 PM

STEVENSON HIGH SCHOOL
West Auditorium
1 Stevenson Drive
Lincolnshire, IL 60069
Registration Required, please call 224-543-1484
Sponsored by Lake Forest Bookstore

Friday, September 27, 2013
BALTIMORE

BALTIMORE BOOK FESTIVAL
10 E. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
Baltimore Book Festival

Saturday, September 28, 2013
BALTIMORE

BALTIMORE BOOK FESTIVAL
10 E. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
Baltimore Book Festival

Sunday, September 29, 2013
BALTIMORE

BALTIMORE BOOK FESTIVAL
10 E. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
Baltimore Book Festival

Saturday, November 23, 2013
MIAMI

Miami Book Fair Event
MIAMI BOOK FAIR
Info TK

(For more details, including ticketing and exact times/locations for the book festival events, go to Where is Meg, or the book festival website, closer to the event date.)

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Finally, don’t forget to enter the Heather Wells Bride Wore Size 12 Sweepstakes!
Become one of 45 lucky hostesses to win party favors and books to throw a Heather Wells Wedding Shower. Go here for all the details!

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Want to read a sneak peek from The Bride Wore Size 12? There’s one here! Shhh, don’t tell!

Okay, that’s all for right now even though I have a LOT to say, but I’m saving it for my next entry. I hope you had a great summer and got all rested up for the mystery (and romance) to come this year! I know I did. And I can’t wait to see some of you along the way this fall!

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More later.

Much love,

Meg

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21. 9/11 Post

Every year teachers let me know that this post has become part of their classroom 9/11 curriculum, so I will continue to post it every year. Here it is, for those who weren’t around that day:

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 below -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).

Watch this amazing film about the “boat lift” from Manhattan. It will make you proud to be human:

Click here to view the embedded video.

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 skilled at many sports. 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 for me, books are for fun, therapy is for the bad stuff), the memories of those things have helped shape who am I.

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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22. Bride Wore Size 12

They’re here! My copies of The Bride Wore Size 12 arrived!

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On September 24, you’ll be able to get your own copy! Or even sooner if you come to one of my events on my Bride Wore Size 12 tour (click on the link, or see below for more info)!

(You can win a copy, too, by entering my Bride Wore Size 12 contest, but we won’t be drawing names until October 31, 2013, so you’ll have to wait awhile!)

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Guess what else? You can click here to visit the official Bride Wore Size 12 page, read an excerpt, and check out some NEWLY POSTED EXTRAS! (Coming soon due to popular demand: Another Heather Wells rock video!)

Here’s a quick, newly updated list of all the events where I’ll be signing:

Saturday, September 21, 2013
7:00 PM
BOOK REVUE
313 New York Ave
Huntington, NY 11743

Book Revue


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Brooklyn Book Festival
BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL
Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza
209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn NY 11201
Brooklyn Book Festival

3:00 PM
Youth Stoop (Borough Hall Plaza/Columbus Park)

The Secret Lives of Girls
With New York Times bestselling authors Lauren Myracle (The Infinite Moment of Us), Meg Cabot (Awaken) and Sharon Draper (Out of My Mind, Panic). Join these three superstar young-adult authors as they discuss the ups and downs of girlhood, whether it’s independence, love or finding one’s voice.

5:00 PM
BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL MOOT COURTROOM (250 Joralemon St.)

Body Counts: Writing Murder, Abductions, Disappearances
Join Ken Wishnia (The Glass Factory), Eric Lundgren (The Facades), and Meg Cabot (Size 12 and Ready to Rock) as they talk murder, abductions, and more. Moderated by Amanda Bullock (Housing Works Book Store).

Monday, September 23, 2013
7:00 PM
RJ JULIA BOOKSELLERS
768 Boston Post Road
Madison, CT 06443

RJ Julia Booksellers

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
7:00 PM
BOOKENDS
211 E Ridgewood AVE
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Book Ends

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
7:00 PM
BARNES & NOBLE
3225 W 69th St
Edina, MN 55435

Barnes & Noble

Thursday, September 26, 2013
7:00 PM
LAKE FOREST BOOKSTORE
Adlai Stevenson High School, West Auditorium
One Stevenson Drive
Lincolnshire, IL 60069

A Vernon Area Library Event

Registration Required, please call 224-543-1484
Sponsored by Lake Forest Bookstore

Friday, September 27, 2013
BALTIMORE BOOK FESTIVAL
10 E. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21202

Baltimore Book Festival

6:00PM CHOCOLATE AND ROMANCE
**Authors: Meg Cabot, Christi Barth, Robin Covington, Laura Kaye, Christie Kelley, Eliza Knight
Maryland Romance Writers Tent

Sunday, September 29, 2013
BALTIMORE BOOK FESTIVAL
10 E. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21202

Baltimore Book Festival

5:00PM BOOK GROUP WITH MEG CABOT AND JENNIFER ARMENTROUT

Thursday, November 21, 2013
6:30 PM (approx..; exact time TK)
Library Event for BRIDE WORE SIZE 12
PALM BEACH COUNTY LIBRARY
Writers Live!
1951 Royal Fern Drive
Wellington, FL 33414

Saturday, November 23, 2013
Miami Book Fair Event
MIAMI BOOK FAIR
Info TK

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And don’t forget: There will be special updates from Heather and Cooper while they’re on their honeymoon in Europe! Look for postings from them on Instagram throughout the month of October.

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And there’s still time to enter the Heather Wells Bride Wore Size 12 Sweepstakes! Become one of 45 lucky hostesses to win party favors and books to throw a Heather Wells Wedding Shower. Go here for all the details!

Here’s what a few reviewers have had to say (sorry, I can’t help it. Mysteries are the hardest stories in the world to write — for me anyway — and also my favorite books in the world to read—also TV shows to watch—so when I get a nice review for one I’ve written, I feel VERY VERY EXCITED!!!! AND I HAVE TO SHARE IT! IN ALL CAPS!!!!)

From Publishers Weekly:

Bestseller Cabot neatly blends crime, humor, and a touch of romance in her fifth Heather Wells whodunit (after 2012’s Size 12 and Ready to Rock). While handling the demands of freshmen orientation at Manhattan’s New York College, Heather also listens to parental complaints about room assignments at Fischer Hall, the student residence where she works as a supervisor. Recently popularized by the arrival of Crown Prince Rashid, Fischer Hall is also the site of the untimely death of a new resident adviser, Jasmine Albright. Heather works to fit together the pieces of the puzzle in Jasmine’s demise even as she continues to plan for her upcoming wedding to her dreamy fiancé, Cooper Cartwright. Multidimensional characters, from the dorm handyman to the arrogant yet elusive prince, are a plus, but it’s the simmering mystery behind the suspicious death that propels this installment to its surprising conclusion. (Oct.)

And from Booklist (I’m excerpting this one since most of it is a re-cap of the plot summary, which you just read, above):

Heather Wells is trying to juggle her wedding plans with registration week at the residence hall where she is assistant director. (She) rises above the craziness to take care of everyone and solve the crime in what is both an exciting mystery and surprisingly funny caper. Cabot splices realistic details of dorm life with humorous descriptions of wedding planning, along with rapid-fire, smart commentary on everything from hovering parents to women’s kills at target shooting….—Amy Alessio

Wow! Can you tell I’m VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS BOOK?

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Well, I have to go pack for my book tour now, but before I do, I know you’re probably wondering, what is with all those cute photos of that couple getting married? Who can they be? OK, I’ll tell you: They’re my brother and his new wife, who just got hitched in Mexico!!!! Margaritas for EVERYONE!!!!

(Except me, I obviously have a lot of work to do!)

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More later.

Much love,

Meg

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23. Official Book/Trailer Release!

It’s here! The new Heather Wells mystery, The Bride Wore Size 12, is in stores (and available as an e-book) in the US and Canada now!

And you know what that means:

Not only is justice once again being served by fiesty former teen popstar (turned assistant resident hall manager and soon-to-be bride) Heather Wells, but there’s also a new book trailer of her singing a never-before-released hit song (“Diamonds and Chains,” also known as The Bride Wore Size 12). Check it out here:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Here are the answers to your questions :

Q: Who wrote “Diamonds and Chains”?

A: Heather Wells!

(With a little help from Meg Cabot, who had inspiration from the extraordinary marital musical team of Ann Larson and Michael Sohn—although writing song lyrics is not their day job . . . they’re professors!— with tweakage by Brady Hall. Brady also wrote the entire tune, played all the instruments, and produced and directed the video.

Q: Who sang the song?

A: A beautifully voiced angel sent from heaven to dazzle our ears.

Q: Who is that girl in the video?

A: Another angel put on this earth to entertain and delight us.

Q:Is she a size 12?

A: In her photos, the angel looked Heather Wells-size. On film day, it would have been as unfair to fire her for not being size 12 enough as it would have been to fire a different actress for not being a size 2. The whole point of the Heather Wells series (besides the fact that they are romantically and comically suspenseful mysteries), is that the heroine has come to love herself (and be loved by others) exactly the way she is.

One of my strongest desires is that all women and girls (and boys too!) learn to love themselves no matter what their size. I know my readers want the same thing.

Q: Meg, why didn’t you star in the video yourself?

I’m so flattered that you think I could play a 30-year-old blond popstar! But I like to leave this kind of work to the professionals, and reserve my energies for other things, which in this case meant getting ready for my Bride Wore Size 12 book tour, which has been AMAZING so far. Meeting readers never gets old.

This time I’ve also gotten to meet many cool authors, including Sharon Draper (I’ve met her before, actually, but she gets better every time) and Lauren Myracle (who I was sure I HAD met before, but I hadn’t) at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

I’ve also gotten to take a lot of photos with my Heather and Cooper wedding figurine from the book cover. They are accompanying me on my tour (until I or a TSA agent accidentally break their heads off).

If you’d like YOUR photo taken with Heather and Cooper (or with me, or you merely wish to get your copy of The Bride Wore Size 12 signed, or you wish to listen to me give my little talk which sometimes even includes a Power Point presentation, when I can get it to work), you can still see me at the following stops this week and weekend:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
7:00 PM
BARNES & NOBLE
3225 W 69th St
Edina, MN 55435

Barnes & Noble

Thursday, September 26, 2013
7:00 PM
LAKE FOREST BOOKSTORE
Adlai Stevenson High School, West Auditorium
One Stevenson Drive
Lincolnshire, IL 60069

A Vernon Area Library Event

Registration Required, please call 224-543-1484
Sponsored by Lake Forest Bookstore

Friday, September 27, 2013
BALTIMORE BOOK FESTIVAL
10 E. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21202

Baltimore Book Festival

6:00PM CHOCOLATE AND ROMANCE
**Authors: Meg Cabot, Christi Barth, Robin Covington, Laura Kaye, Christie Kelley, Eliza Knight
Maryland Romance Writers Tent

Sunday, September 29, 2013
BALTIMORE BOOK FESTIVAL
10 E. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21202

Baltimore Book Festival

5:00PM BOOK GROUP WITH MEG CABOT AND JENNIFER ARMENTROUT

After my tour, I’ll be taking off with He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog, my mom, her boyfriend (some of you might remember him from such books as The Princess Diaries), his daughter and her husband, my brother and his wife for Paris, France. Then we’ll be heading on to Provence, so my mom can live her birthday dream of visiting Provence.

Don’t worry about Slutty-McSlut-Slut-A-Lot being alone at this time, though, we have a live-in professional cat sitter moving in while we’re gone who is trained in krav maga and will not be brooking any shenanigans from her.

Don’t forget: There will be special updates from Heather and Cooper while they’re on their honeymoon in Europe! Look for postings from them on Instagram throughout the month of October and also possibly coming soon as they cannot be controlled or kept in one country.

Okay, I could post links to all the freaking FANTASTIC reviews many of you bloggers have been giving to The Bride Wore Size 12 which I truly appreciate and will definitely be re-tweeting, but my plane is landing in MINNESOTA so instead I’m only going to say can’t wait to see you and:

Be safe!

Be happy!

And most of all

BE YOURSELF!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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24. On Bon Courage and Whether or Not to Kill Off Your Characters

So I spent most of last month in ANOTHER COUNTRY (France)!

It was only my second non-book related trip outside of the US since I first got published. I felt a little guilty about it (proof you are a workaholic: when you feel guilty for taking non-work related trips), but it was for a good cause:  to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday! All she wanted for her birthday was for her loved ones to go to France with her.

My mom is an artist (much like the mom of Mia Thermopolis) and she likes French art, although not so much this kind of French art:

 

More like the home decorating kind of French art found in Provence:

So my mom, her boyfriend (some of you might remember him as being the inspiration for The Princess Diaries, since he was one of my teachers, and my mom started dating him after my dad died, much like Mia’s mom does in The Princess Diaries, although my dad was not the heir to a royal throne in real life, and in the books, Mia’s dad is not dead); my mom’s boyfriend’s daughter; her husband; He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog; me; and my brother and his wife all went to France (along with the Heather and Cooper wedding cake topper from the cover of The Bride Wore Size 12).

You might think it was difficult to find restaurants that could accommodate that many people, some of whom did not speak French, one of whom has to eat gluten-free, one of whom is six feet eight inches tall and kept hitting his head on the small medieval doorways in all the castles we visited, and another of whom has Parkinson’s disease, but actually, we managed quite well, because we had:

“Bon Courage”

That’s what a French cab driver wished us when he dropped us off at our second hotel in Paris, because the staff of the first one was going on strike at midnight and so they were kicking all the guests out (yes! This happened).

“Bon courage” means “stay strong, brother” or, literally, “good courage.”

It made us feel quite French to be wished “bon courage” during a strike by French workers (the next afternoon they were granted all their demands). Bon courage!

So as you can guess from the above, and perhaps the photo below, things got dicey occasionally:

But we had an amazing time. Mostly it was all incredibly beautiful sunsets, rainbows, cats, and of course castles. And some donkeys.

 

 

It wouldn’t be France without amazingly delicious food, bought fresh from the local town markets. Why does everything taste so much better in France?

If you ever go to France, THIS is where you have to stay. It’s where we stayed in the Dordogne (why do so few people in the US know about the Dordogne? But maybe it’s better that way) and it is out of this world.

Now we’re back in the US and there are no more charcuterie platters for lunch (sad), but we all realize how very lucky we were to have had the chance to take this trip.  Many thanks to my mom for being born and for insisting that this is what she wanted, and to everyone who pitched in to make the trip so special, including HarperCollins who made an effort to truncate my Bride Wore Size 12 book tour so that we could squeeze in this important family event!

(And I will continue the tour at the Miami Book Festival at the end of this month. Exact dates and times to come!)

It was sobering to come back to the US and realize that this is the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, in which a lot of people lost their lives, their homes, schools, and in some neighborhoods, even their public libraries! Talk about “bon courage!” Sandy survivors have really shown it.

Someone else who’s showing it right now is longtime blogger and Meg Cabot Fiction Club  (and one of the first – and possibly only – male) member James “Boothy” Booth of Book Chic Club, who recently posted the sad news that he has Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The prognosis looks good, but he still has to go through a lot of painful chemo treatments, so please keep him in your thoughts!

While I was in France, I didn’t have steady access to wifi, so I couldn’t keep up with what was going on back in the states (which, considering the government shutdown, might have been a good thing), but when I got back the first thing someone told me (ERRONEOUSLY, as it turned out) was that my favorite character from one of my favorite TV shows (The Walking Dead) had died.

(NOTE: This is not true. This person read a spoiler wrong. The character SMILED. She did not die. Don’t ask me how someone could read DIED for SMILED, but this person – who shall remain nameless as always in this blog – did, even though he has a Masters in English Literature.)

Obviously, I was upset! Although I’ve never had cancer or lost a library, loved one, or home to a hurricane -yet- I’ve been through hard times, and one thing that helped get me through those hard times was losing myself in a good fictional story.

Nothing works better to help you forget your own misery for a little while than reading about someone else’s, especially if that person is facing his or her misery with a sword and some “bon courage” (like Michonne on The Walking Dead, who did not, I will repeat, NOT die).

Sometimes it IS necessary for writers to kill off characters in order to further their narrative (case in point: Everyone else who has died on The Walking Dead. And of course, George RR Martin has killed off many characters – and animals – in his Game of Thrones series, but you’ll notice that none of them were particular fan favorites – so far. Except the dire wolves).

I don’t think it’s wrong to be upset if a character you like gets killed off (just ask how I felt when I was 13 and read Mill on the Floss), but it’s always wrong to threaten an author with physical violence if he/she does kill off a character you like.

I mention this because lately there’s been a rash of authors killing off popular characters in their series, and some fans have responded by threatening to punch those authors in the face if they ever meet them. Please don’t do this, even to be funny. Authors are sensitive, like a flower.  Not me, obviously, but some authors.

I certainly understand feeling passionate about a book, and wanting it to end a certain way (personally, I want the Khaleesi to marry Jon Snow. There, I’ve said it. Do you hear that, George RR?).

I’m a fan of happy endings, because we live in sad times. One out of four children in this country is on food stamps. One of five women in the US has been raped. Some of us need happy endings.

But sometimes the happy ending we pictured isn’t what the author envisioned. I’m not sure I’d have made the choice Helen Fielding did to have Darcy be dead in Book 3 of the Bridget Jones series (this is not a spoiler, the news was released before the book was). But I understand why she did it, because a widowed, middle-aged Bridget dating  provides more material than a happily married Bridget. And a lot of readers seem to be enjoying the book (I still need to read it)!

All I can say further on the subject is, in one of the of the first creative writing workshops I ever took, I noticed that all my other classmates were writing very sad stories at the end of which the main character often committed suicide with rusty razor blades.

Meanwhile, I kept writing humorous stories about girls who got broken up with at the mall (which was especially weird since at the time things were not going well in my home life).

So I started writing sad stories, too, since that’s what I thought you were supposed to do in creative writing workshops (hint: if you want to win a lot of book awards, do this in your writing career as well).

As soon as I’d turned in the first one (about a homeless vet who’d lost his hand in the Vietnam war and so was going to commit suicide with a rusty razor blade), my awesome teacher, Judy Troy, took me aside after class and asked what the hell was going on.

I explained that I wanted to do what everyone else was doing in the class, and make readers cry.

Judy got very irritated.

“It’s easy to make people cry,” she said.  ”Anyone can do that! I could make you cry right now while you’re standing front of me. Do you have any idea how hard it is to make people laugh? You have that gift. Don’t waste it! We need more stories to make us laugh. Go back to doing that!”

So I did.

My feeling is this:

So many people in this world have lost so much, and need so many things. But the one thing we all really need right now are more stories to make us laugh, with heroes and heroines who exhibit “bon courage.”  We need them so that we, in turn, can feel inspired to show “bon courage” in the face of hardship, too.

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any sad stories, because that would be ridiculous, and fake, and a waste.

But the sweetest endings, the ones that stay with you the longest, are the ones where, after the long, hard battle, the good guys win. Because that actually does happen, sometimes.

And – although I’m not saying all stories should end this way – maybe then they go to France with their mom for her 70th birthday and have a really good time, with a lot of laughs.  And then they all come home and get back to work.  And it everything ends up happily ever after … for now!

Thanks, Mom!

More later.

Much love,

Meg

 

 

 

 

 

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25. 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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