Last Entry of ‘06

December 31st, 2006

As ’06 draws to a close, you may notice that there’s nothing on TV, but that there’s TONS going on with this site! The Meg Cabot Book Club’s got a new look…and I’ve updated my blog.

That would be because—I’m bored! What is WRONG with our society? Why is there nothing good on TV? Don’t they know that there are people out here who are stricken with chronic migraines and don’t drink and therefore don’t party and are bored?

Speaking of which, I hope those of you who will be drinking tonight will also be making arrangements to take public transportation home, or will have a designated driver (I would be perfect for this role…IF SOMEONE WOULD GIVE ME A DRIVER’S LICENSE), or be prepared to walk or take a cab. And always take cab money with you, just in case your designated driver fails in his or her duty.

Anyway, onto my news:

–The Meg Cabot Book Club’s got a new look for the new year! Many thanks to Janey, her staff, and the moderators for working so hard to make the message boards look so good. Be sure to tell them that you love the new makeover!

–Many more readers have written to let me know that my books have been banned at their schools (at actual middle and high schools!). So in answer to reader Maddie’s email, yes, your librarian is right: that WAS my best Christmas present ever (but only because my parents never gave me the miniature poodle I always wanted).

–In answer to reader Zoe’s question, no, I don’t agree with censorship, and yes, I was allowed to read whatever I wanted to as a child. My mother (aka Bad Mommy) was the one who handed me Jane Eyre and To Kill A Mockingbirdwhen I was 11, novels that feature, among other things, murder, rape, adultery, racism, bigamy, illegitimate offspring of French mistresses, and alcoholism.

And my father was just as guilty, since he was the one who would leave his Gregory McDonald and Robert B Parker novels lying around—just lying around, where any innocent child could pick them up! Have you ever tried to put down a book by either of those authors? HAVE YOU? And do you have any idea how much sex Fletch and Spenser used to have back in the Seventies?

Then there were his Frederick Forsyth, John Le Carre, and Robert Ludlum spy novels. And those spies were into some kinky stuff! Of course I had to read every one of those books cover to cover.

Of this he did not actually approve–but only because he wasn’t done with them yet. Fortunately, even at age 11, I was a fast reader.

What were the consequences of such flagrant liberalism on the part of my parents? Well, for one thing, I started writing my own novels for fun in my spare time. Then I became an honors English student with an insanely large vocabulary and a correspondingly high verbal SAT score; got into and graduated from a good college, moved to New York City, got a job, fell in love, got married, stayed that way for going on fourteen years, and eventually became a best-selling novelist.

If only my parents hadn’t let me read all those dirty, dirty books. Sigh.

–I can tell from my inbox that quite a few of you have already gotten your hands on copies of Princess Diaries 8 and Missing You. Haiku Contest winners: Your copies are in the mail, I promise, but may be delayed further due to the national day of mourning for President Ford. Sorry!

–In answer to one of the questions I am getting quite a lot, no, there will not be a sequel to Missing You. As many of you know by now, I always intended to write several more books in the 1-800-Where-R-You series, but my-then publisher fired me when the books didn’t sell well enough.

FYI: When you don’t BUY your favorite new author’s books, but only borrow them from the library, or worse, sit in the bookstore café and read them without buying them, that author could get fired for lack of sales, like I did. If you love a new author, save your money and BUY HER BOOKS, or she will get fired in a middle of a series, like I did.

Big thank you to HarperCollins for publishing Missing You, the final book to the series that I always meant to write.

–In answer to the other question many of you are asking, yes, Princess Diaries 9 is finished and will be out at this time next year, although it has not been edited yet, so I can’t really tell you what it’s about, because I’m not entirely sure yet what’s staying in the current manuscript. I can tell you it begins the same night Book 8 ends, and goes on for about two more weeks. What happens during those two weeks is explosive. And I mean that literally.

–As for what happens in Princess Diaries 8, I’ve mentioned before that all the Princess Diaries books are based on actual events that happened in my own life (except for the princess stuff) when I was in high school. So everything in Princess on the Brink really did happen to me (with a few changes for artistic license’s sake, of course).

It’s always been important to me as a writer that my characters grow and change the way real people do. As a consequence of this, of course their relationships have to grow and change along with them–because that’s what happens in real life. Sometimes the way our relationships change can be painful. It wouldn’t be realistic if they didn’t. But occasionally great things come out of those changes. Let’s hope this holds true for Mia.

–December ’06 has been a month remarkable for medical calamities in my house. Although Grandma is recovering well, and my MRI and EEG both turned out to be normal and I am now being prescribed a preventive migraine medication that has yet to start working (though hope springs eternal), and He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog’s stomach bug is mostly gone, it was his cat, Slutty McSlut-A-Lot, who gave us our latest medical scare.

The truth is, Gem’s cute and all, but she infinitely prefers HWSNBNITB to me, which puts her solidly in back-up cat position, as far as I’m concerned. Furthermore, she has the dirtiest face of any cat I have ever seen. I don’t know what Gem does all day—presumably sticks her face in vats of axel grease—but her face is always—ALWAYS—dirty.

But when you go to clean it—because Gem can never be troubled to clean her own face—Gem pushes your hand away with her paw and gives you a dirty—pun intended–look. There doesn’t seem to be a cleaning implement that you can apply to her face—sponge, washcloth, paper towel, napkin–that she won’t push away…prompting our friend Greg, who is slightly obsessed with Gem’s dirty face, to attempt to invent one:

We informed him that this wouldn’t actually work, however, because sticking lemons over a cat’s face is probably grounds for animal cruelty (although based on the results from the above chart, it does look tempting).

In any case, the other night Gem came home with a PARTICULARLY dirty face–which was not unusual–and no appetite for her dinner–which WAS unusual. Also, she kept on gagging. We went to bed assuming she had a hairball (though looking back, this flew in the face of logic, because in order to have a hairball, Gem would actually had to have cleaned herself, which, HA HA). We figured we’d find said hairball disgorged on the living room couch in the morning.

In the morning, however, there was no hairball, and Gem still wasn’t eating, and was in fact unable even to swallow. She was making a hacking noise, as if she were choking, and looked miserable. She kept pawing at her face–but not like she was trying to clean it, of course.

This was officially Not Good. Especially not before a holiday weekend when the vet’s office would be closed for three days. Alarmed, we whisked her to the animal clinic, where Gem has been many times before for various ailments such as mange and uneven pupils.

There her behavior became even more troubling. Instead of yowling like a maniac and struggling to escape from the examination table, as is her custom, she was docile as a lamb, looking up at the vet and meowing very softly, then reaching up to lay a tremulous paw upon his chest, as if to say, “Please help me.”

Then she gagged.

The vet looked at us, and we looked at the vet. We all knew this was bad. Gem wasn’t coming home anytime soon.

I don’t mind admitting my eyes filled up with tears upon the spot.

The vet said he had no idea what was going on, but that he’d have to sedate, scope, and possibly X-ray her, and that we should leave her and call for the prognosis after two o’clock.

We left in a daze, wondering if we’d ever see Gem alive again. What could she have eaten that could have made her so sick? A sock? A lizard? Her face was dirtier than usual, and there were lots of tourists in town. Could she have stuck her face in a puddle of anti-freeze? Was she going to die? What would we do if Gem died? It’s true she wasn’t our primary cat.

But she was the best back-up cat we’d ever had. She was the ONLY back-up cat we’d ever had. WHAT WERE WE GOING TO DO WITHOUT SLUTTY McSLUT-A-LOT????

At five of two we couldn’t stand it a minute longer. We called, even though we knew we were early.

“How’s Gem?” we asked, when the vet came on the phone. “Is she okay?”

“Um,” the vet said, slowly. “Do you, by any chance, have grass at your house?”

(Note: this is a reasonable question in Key West, where lawns are not common. Grass does not grow easily in the sub-tropics.)

Us, panicking: “Yes! Yes, we do. WHY???? IS GEM OKAY????”

Vet: “Um. Yes. She’s fine. Now.

Instant relief. Us: “She is? Thank God. Well, what was it? What was wrong with her?”

Vet: “Actually, something I’ve never seen in a cat before. Gem had a blade of grass stuck up her nose.”

Us: !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah. Gem had a blade of grass stuck up her nose. Well, caught between her nose and her throat. That she was trying to cough up, but couldn’t. THIS blade of grass, to be exact:

We have no idea what it was doing there either. Possibly she was eating grass, and just didn’t chew it very well? And then it came back up…through her nose? You know, like when you’re eating Ramen noodles, and you start laughing, and….

Okay, we won’t go there. In any case, the vet assures us she was probably in a lot of pain, and that she couldn’t have gotten it out on her own, and that it was a good thing we brought her in.

As you can see, she’s feeling much better now:

(Note dirty nose…don’t you just want to…

Oops, sorry, that would be wrong.)

Anyway, Happy New Year, from all of us, including the only one in the family who hasn’t gotten sick this month:

More later.

Much love,

Meg