More Chick Lit/New Contest

April 10th, 2008

I’m finally home from my medical odyssey and of course I was greeted by my psychotic cat Henrietta who has slight senile dementia and didn’t remember me (I was only gone a week) and tried to attack me until I explained I was her Two Legs and she finally calmed down.

Anyway, regarding the mail, a lot of you seem to wish I would come up with a better term for chick lit, which many of you seem to think is sexist. I have a number of thoughts about this, foremost of which is I don’t see why I should have to be the one to come up with a new name for my genre, since I’m far too busy writing new Heather Wells books for it. As my hairstylist Les says when I complain about how I hate blow-drying my hair, “Do I have to do everything in this relationship?”

Secondly, I don’t see what’s sexist about calling books written for women by women about women “chick lit,” especially if the people calling them that are the woman who wrote the books in the first place. Some people say “chick” is a derogatory word for female, and maybe it used to be during the days when The Mod Squad was a hit show and I wanted a pair of go go boots like Peggy Lipton’s (and a pony) more than anything in the whole entire world.

Honestly, though, I think we’ve reclaimed the term “chick” and made it cool. I think being called “chick lit” separates the books I write nicely from “women’s fiction” (generally weepy, though with a hopeful ending, veering dangerously close to being turned into a Hallmark Channel Hall of Fame Special) and “romance” (emphasis on the relationship, not so much on the main character’s career goals and self-deprecating sense of humor).

Some readers worry that the term “chick lit” keeps readers who might otherwise read the books from picking them up. Honestly, this doesn’t worry me at all.

Because if there really are readers out there who are so snobby that they would let the name of a genre (or the image depicted on the cover) keep them from reading certain books, that’s their problem, not mine. I know, I too have heard them going, “I’m not going to read some book about women and shoes.”

Oh, really? So you’re not going to read Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith, one of the best books I’ve ever read, in which a woman not only obsesses over but talks directly to her shoes (and they talk back)?

Well, that’s your loss. Sorry, and see ya.

Because of course, that’s not what the book is really about. Just like no chick lit book is really ever about shoes, either, despite what the cover might lead you to believe.

But you can’t argue with people who have weird literary hang ups, anymore than you can argue with people who have weird food hang ups. See, readers who won’t pick books up because of the name of the genre are like people who refuse to try certain foods because they think they won’t like them. They’ve never actually tasted them. You know how wrong these people are, but they’re convinced they’re right, and no amount of arguing is ever going to convince them they’re wrong.

So my theory is: Why bother? That just leaves more delicious culinary treats for the rest of us.

Anyway, here are a couple new entries into the chick lit lexicon, out now:


Audrey, Wait is a great book that I couldn’t put down during a flight. I’m betting you’ll love it as much as I did. Audrey’s dating a high school slacker, and when she dumps him he shows an uncharacteristic burst of energy (or B.O.E. as I like to call it), and writes a song about her that is soon racing up the charts.

Now everyone in the whole country knows SHE’s the Audrey in the song, and she can’t even go to her dorky job in the mall ice cream parlor (with the equally dorky co-worker she might be crushing on) without church groups stopping by to stare at her through the window. This book cracked me up because Audrey is so sarcastic (and, having dated my fair share of them, her slacker boyfriend was very realistically depicted). I hope we’ll be hearing a lot more from Robin Benway.

Meanwhile, one of my favorite YA authors, Catherine Clark, also has a new book out—Wish You Were Here.

I devoured this one in one sitting, too, and it’s as laugh-out-loud funny and yet sweet as all of Cathy’s other books (I got to see Cathy when I was in Minnesota—I know, don’t be jealous–and she was as hilarious as always). Here’s a review by Little Willow and another by The Compulsive Reader that should give you all the details. Wish You Were Here, like everything Catherine Clark writes, is a definite keeper. Don’t miss it.

Someone said I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley isn’t chick lit. It’s a collection of essays by a 29 year old publicist who locks herself out of her apartment a lot. Also someone said she wouldn’t appreciate being called a chick lit writer, which I don’t believe. She wants cake. So do I. Therefore, she won’t mind.

Anyway, it took a while for me to get into, but it’s pretty funny, especially the essay about how she got the name Sloane (no, not from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, she’s 29, not 22).

In book news, Jinx, Pants on Fire, and my short story The Exterminator’s Daughter from Prom Nights from Hell have all been named Books of the Teen Age for 2008 by The New York Public Library. This is an annual list of books for teenagers compiled by Young Adult librarians. This is so great, and I’m so honored!

Meanwhile, Queen of Babble in the Big City

and Tommy Sullivan Is a Freak came out in the UK recently (this is the British version of Pants on Fire, only the UK kept my original title, which my US publisher felt was too long. Check out megcabot.co.uk for a chance to win a free iPod).

They have really outdone themselves with the TSIAF cover, let me tell you. The printed cover band is in red velvet flock. I just like to fondle it.

I love this cover so much, I’m going to give some copies of it away (along with copies of the UK and US versions of How to be Popular, both of which are out in paperback now, as well as some copies of She Went All The Way.

I would give copies of the UK version of Queen of Babble in the Big City away as well, but they haven’t arrived yet. I only have the French version. However, if you want a copy of Miss Le Gaffe a la Grande Ville, you are welcome to one).

***Edited to add: I am now officially out of all copies of all these books! The contest is over. But thank you for entering! You will now either find a book in your mailbox in a few weeks (entries will arrive via media mail) or not. Sorry we cannot notify all of you whether or not to expect a book, but this is not possible due to the fact that we are not that organized, being writers.***

I’m exhausted from learning how to make new windows pop up from links. It literally almost killed me.

I have to go find some cake and eat it. Good bye and good luck with the contest!

More later.

Much love,

Meg