Well, it’s a new year, and you know what that means:
It's mailbag time again!!!!!!!! Also Book Tour time!!!
The following are actual emails I have received lately. Signatures have been left off to protect the senders' anonymity. Also, there's a list of places I'll be appearing in January on my Boy Meets Girl book tour. If I'm coming to your town, I would LOVE to meet you, so please try to come! And don't worry, I'll sign ALL of my books, not just Boy Meets Girl.
I don't know what's up with the mail these days. Maybe it's because I've been under the weather and not checking my email as often as usual. Or maybe it's the holidays. But in amongst the many many get well emails you all sent (THANK YOU SO MUCH) were some kind of grumpy ones. I've decided to post some of those, in addition to the nice ones, so you can see that being a writer isn't fun all the time.
On your website, one of your tips to aspiring writers is never to tell anyone that you want to be a writer, or everyone will just try to talk you out of it. Then in your diary, your first tip for wannabe writers is not to be a writer but to become a doctor instead and I think it's really conceited for you to tell people what to do. I am ignoring your advice and becoming a writer anyway. So I just want you to know, I like your books, but I don't like you as a person.
Hello. I was KIDDING. And actually, what I said was if you want to be a writer, you need to get a day job, and a good one would be to be doctor. But why are you telling me you want to be a writer in the first place? The first rule for aspiring writers is not to tell anyone, since they'll just try to talk you out of it (um, just like I did) as in the case of this poor reader:
I'm trying to write a book, but my best friend is sorta discouraging me. She's really bringing me down, telling me no one gets published unless they're already famous or went to Harvard and stuff like that. What should I do?
See? This is why you shouldn't tell people you're writing a book. Just do it, and keep it to yourself until you get published. Then you can take your best friend to lunch and be all, “I'll just pay for this with the money I got from SELLING MY BOOK.”
Hint: if you do this while at the same time graduating from medical school, it will be a DOUBLY harsh blow to your unsupportive friend, and will make me very very happy.
Anyway, I feel sad for the person who wrote that first email because I get the feeling she is sort of lacking in the one quality you really need if you plan on being a writer: a sense of humor.
Here's another kind of grumpy one.
Your new book, Boy Meets Girl, is written under the name Meg Cabot, which I thought was the name you write under for your teen books. So I bought a copy for my fourteen year old daughter, and was shocked to find that the F word was in it! I am very disappointed. That kind of language doesn't belong in ANY book.
All of my books, whether they are for adults or teens, will now be out under the name Meg Cabot, which is, um, my name. And while Boy Meets Girl does have some four letter words, those words are mostly uttered under extreme duress, or by the evil villainess, who is then made fun of for saying them. What Boy Meets Girl does NOT have in it is any explicit sex or violence, which I think makes it entirely suitable for the 12 and up crowd. But it isn't being promoted as a book for teens—it's definitely in the adult section. Parents wishing to shield their children from the comical use of swear words should steer clear.
Hi, Meg. I just wanted you to know I was really disappointed in Project Princess. It was way too short, and Mia acted too girlie. Plus Jell-O has gelatin in it which is made from horses so a real vegetarian wouldn't eat it. This is just a piece of friendly advice: make Mia not so girlie in the next book.
A lot of people don't seem to understand that Project Princess was a short novella written for charity. It was just a special little bonus book. And as for Mia acting too girlie—I think Mia acted exactly the way a city girl suddenly thrust into the wilds of Virginia WOULD act. And hello, given my current health status, I am living proof that it is a good idea for city girls to stay FAR AWAY FROM THE COUNTRYSIDE.
She's a little off with her gelatin facts: Gelatin is made from the ground up parts of all sorts of animals, mainly cows and pigs.
But I think when faced with starvation or Jell-O, as she was in West Virginia, Mia would go for the Jell-O. Have you ever noticed that Mia wears leather boots and eats eggs and fish? That girl is filled with contradictions, like all human beings.
Here's another unhappy reader:
I used to like your books but I do no longer. That's because your character Mia Thermopolis describes herself as a good writer, and since you write that character, that means you think you are a good writer, and you are complimenting yourself. Which means you are very conceited. Therefore I will never read another of your books again.
Ouch! Another accusation of conceitedness! Seriously, you guys, I never thought that making Mia want to be a writer and being good at it would make me seem self-centered. I've read lots of books where the heroine wanted to be a writer (the Betsy-Tacy books, Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, the Making Out series, Susan Juby's Alice, I Think, just to name a few) and I never thought those authors were conceited. Mia's desire to be a writer isn't even autobiographical—when I was her age, I wanted to be an illustrator (a dream I never did achieve) or a veterinarian (another dream shot down)! Geesh.
Anyway, if I've offended anyone out there with my alleged conceitedness, I'm sorry. Really, my only goal was to make you laugh.
Okay, onto more cheerful mail:
I love your blog! In it, you suggest becoming a doctor in case being a writer doesn't work out. Isn't there some other profession that you could suggest besides a doctor? The sight of blood makes me pass out.
I really did mean the doctor thing as a joke. I mean, I seriously think not enough people consider becoming doctors because it doesn't seem very glam. But really, you guys, there are LOTS of jobs out there you can do to support yourself while struggling to make your name as a writer…basically, ANY job will do, but the more interesting job you have, the more cool stuff you'll have to write about. It doesn't matter what day job you get. Just get one you like. Because you might end up doing it for a while. Remember, I was an assistant dorm manager for TEN YEARS!!!!
Meg, I know that you put instructions in your web site to people that want to be writers, but you don't mention what college people who want to be writers should go to.
Like the day job thing, I really don't believe this matters. I mean, there are lots of colleges that have great writing programs and that can put their graduates in touch with publishers or film producers or whatever. But only YOU can write a story people connect with. And if you can do that, publishers and film producers are going to notice, whether or not you have a fancy degree.
So my advice, for what it's worth, is to go to a college your family can afford, because if you really want to be a writer, the last thing you want is a bunc
h of student loans to pay back when you graduate. Because when you're working at Starbucks or whatever to pay the rent and writing in your spare time, you do not want to have creditors pounding on your door.
College is what you make of it, you know, and despite what a lot of people seem to believe, you do NOT need an Ivy League education to succeed in life. Trust me on this.
Okay, more mail:
I am one of your male readers. Any plans in the works for something like Princess for boys? Any chance that you could tell your publisher that boys like to read your books and not to give them such girly covers?
Isn't this sweet? It's so sweet it almost makes me ashamed to say that I have no plans, much less desire, to write any books from a boy's point of view. I mean, I'm not a boy. I have no idea what boys are thinking.
In any case, HarperCollins IS rereleasing Princess Diaries 1&2 and then 3&4 in an omnibus version with a simple cartoon chateau on the cover that will be in the adult section.
Dear Ms. Cabot,
I love your books, especially the way you show that it is good to be different, and that geeks are among the most important people in the universe. However, while I was reading your blog, I noticed that you seemed to believe that ALL geeks are guys. I assure you, this is not true at all. Although there aren't a lot of girls who are computer geniuses, they do exist.
She's right. But I really was only referring to boy geeks. I KNOW there are girl geeks. I am one of them, if you can be totally technically challenged and still call yourself a geek. I mean, I went to see Return of the King on the day it opened! I would rather read books than go to a party. Doesn't that make me a geek?
So I totally get that there are girl geeks out there. I'm all about geek solidarity, male or female.
Meg, will you be coming to Scottsdale on your next book tour????
Why…yes, I will, among other locations. If I'm stopping by a bookstore near you, please come in and say hello! Come early so you can be sure to get a seat. And if I'm not coming to your town this tour, you can bet I'll be there for my Spring Princess Diaries 5 tour.
Saturday, January 10, 2004 04:00 PM – 05:30 PM
8725 S.W. Cascade Ave., Beaverton, OR 97008
Tel: 800-878-7323 x241
Monday, January 12, 2004 07:00 PM – 09:00 PM
THIRD PLACE BOOKS
17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park, WA 98155
Thursday, January 15, 2004 05:00 PM – 07:00 PM
3633 West 32nd Avenue, Denver, CO 80211
Saturday, January 17, 2004 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
4014 North Goldwater Blvd., Ste. 101, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Saturday, January 17, 2004 02:00 PM – 03:30 PM
CHANGING HANDS BOOKSTORE
6428 South McClintock Drive, Tempe, AZ 85283
Sunday, January 18, 2004 03:00 PM – 04:30 PM
603 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78703
Tuesday, January 20, 2004 07:00 PM – 08:30 PM
13217 Shaker Square, Cleveland, OH 44120
Tel: 216-751-3300, ext. 1
Wednesday, January 21, 2004 07:00 PM – 08:30 PM
RAINY DAY BOOKS
2706 West 53rd Street, Fairway, KS 66205
Thursday, January 22, 2004 07:00 PM – 08:30 PM
OCEAN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
101 Washington St., Tom's River, NJ 08753
Tel: 732-349-6200 x872
Saturday, January 24, 2004 02:00 PM – 03:30 PM
232 E. Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Wednesday, January 28, 2004 07:00 PM – 08:30 PM
BARNES & NOBLE/Chelsea
675 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10009
Friday, February 27, 2004 07:00 PM – 08:30 PM
3 Plattekill Ave., New Paltz, NY 12561
Well, that's it for now. We'll take another dip into the mailbag soon. In the meantime, cheer up, keep those emails coming, and stay away from ticks!!!! Happy New Year to one and all!