That night I met The Pioneer Woman

An hour and a half drive + one hour vacation time from work + 4.5 hours waiting in line = one very, very excited Meg — when she got to meet none other than Ree Drummond, the Internet (and world’s) very own Pioneer Woman!

Yes, friends, I typed 4.5 hours . . . because from approximately 6:15 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., I waited in line with Spencer, World’s Most Patient Boyfriend, in order to get my copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks signed by none other than PW herself.

I knew there’d be a massive crowd at the Borders in Fairfax, Va., just as there have been massive crowds along every stop of PW’s book tour. But did I anticipate hundreds of women and nary a man squished into the bookstore, all of us lined up like cattle (on a ranch!) to meet Ree? And did I think it would take all night to do so?

Nope. But that’s perfectly okay — because we managed to find a parking space just a few blocks away, I got my book signed and was entertained for hours by Lacey and Jennifer, our Line BFFs. We might not have known each other before we got our little tickets for places in line to meet PW, but we definitely knew a bit more about one another’s hopes and dreams after roughly four hours!

Ree was just as smiley, pleasant and sweet as you’d expect — even after meeting and snapping photos with approximately ten billion people last night. By the time we approached her table, she had a collection of little gifts folks had brought and was probably sick to death of having to flash that blindingly (truly, blindingly) white smile at all of us.

As she signed my book and I dumbly tried to think of something scintillating to share, Spencer snapped a few photos of the two of us. Looking up (and probably surprised) to actually see a guy standing there, Ree asked, “And who is this?”

I explained that Spencer, World’s Most Patient Boyfriend, had agreed to accompany me — and that in exchange for making him stand in line with me all night, I’d agreed to make him everything in her cookbook.

“Sounds like a fair trade for a night of waiting!” she said.

I agreed. And I just might start with those famous cinnamon rolls . . . if I can manage not to burn my hands off in the kitchen.

Hard to say.

Miami Book Fair happening this week

miami_book_fair_posterWere I not in sunny California right now, what I wouldn’t give to be in another awesome, tropical place — the Sunshine State! The Miami Book Fair International is happening Nov. 8-15 at Miami Dade College in Miami, Fla., and check out this line-up:

• Sherman Alexie
• Margaret Atwood
• Roy Blount Jr.
• Robert Olen Butler
• Meg Cabot
• Alan Cheuse
• Susie Essman
• Mike Farrell
• Al Gore
• Dr. Sanjay Gupta
• Barbara Kingsolver
• Jonathan Lethem
• Peter Mayle
• Jacquelyn Mitchard
• Ralph Nader
• Todd Oldham
• Richard Powers
• Francine Prose
• Jeannette Walls
• Plus more than 300 other authors from around the world . . .

And OK — you had me at Meg Cabot. But with all those other awesome folks, too? Yeah, if it were feasible for me to say, be in Miami right now, it would take a pack of wolves surrounding the college to keep me away from this event!

Friday, Nov. 13 – Sunday, Nov. 15 is the Street Fair, where more than 250 publishers will exhibit and sell their work and authors will read from and discuss their books. Admission is free for everyone on Friday; ticket prices vary the other days of the fair. Check out the website for all that information!

If anyone is planning on going, I expect a full report — complete with photos. And say hi to Meg for me!

Literary Megs, volume two

meg_cabotOh, Meg Cabot — my idol! A woman whose talents I have absolutely no problem talking about endlessly! I’ve been crazy about her Princess Diaries series since I grabbed the first novel in high school, and I actually got teary-eyed when I finished the tenth and final book in the series in January. Meg’s novels are always entertaining and full of fun, interesting characters. Even when they don’t all score an immediate home run for me (see Size 12 Is Not Fat), my overall enthusiasm for such an amazing and prolific author can’t wane.

According to her Web site, Cabot was raised in Indiana, attended college there and eventually moved to New York City, where she originally hoped to be an illustrator. She worked as assistant manager of a 700 bed freshmen dormitory at NYU for ten years while she pursued her favorite “hobby” — writing novels. 

be_popularNow Meg is the author of almost 50 books that have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, earning both she and her characters a place in the hearts of teen and adult readers everywhere. The aforementioned awesome Princess Diaries series has been published in 38 countries and is the basis for two Disney movies (which I also love). Other popular young adult books include 1-800-Where-R-U and Mediator series, the All-American Girl books, Airhead, Jinx, How To Be Popular and Pants On Fire. Novels for kids include the Allie Finkel books, and her contemporary fiction includes Every Boy’s Gone One, the Queen of Babble series and mystery novels Size 12 Is Not Fat, Size 14 Is Not Fat Either and Big Boned.

I’ve made it my mission in life to try and be half as authentically Meg and Meg Cabot — and that’s not just because we share a first name! I love her writing style, enthusiasm and dedication to causes like Greenpeace (proceeds from her novel Ransom My Heart, “co-authored” by Princess Diaries lead Mia Thermopolis, were given to the charity). You can follow along with the fabulous Ms. Cabot’s thought on life and pop culture by peeking into the pages of her own diary. You know I’m there!

Musing Mondays: New authors

musing_mondays Here’s this week’s question:

What is your policy when it comes to new authors? Do you feel comfortable purchasing a book or do you prefer to borrow new authors from the library? How often do you ‘try out’ a new author?

I have absolutely no problem trying out new authors! In fact, sometimes I prefer them. Some established writers, particularly in chick lit and romance, seem to get a bit formulaic (yes, Danielle Steel, I’m talking to you). This is certainly not at all true of many writers, but sometimes I just like to check out a new writing style or get lost in a totally different, unique plot. When I’m browsing for new books and authors to read, I usually look at cover art (I know, I know) and spend a good deal of time reading the book’s synopsis and first few pages. I don’t really pay attention whether or not I’ve heard of them, unless it’s one of my personal favorites: Meg Cabot, Jhumpa Lahiri, Laurie Notaro, Sarah Dessen, etc. And then I’ll probably buy the book regardless!

Since I don’t borrow books from the library, what I’ll usually do with authors about whom I don’t know much is get their work through BookMooch rather than shell out $10 at Borders. I do my usual research online to learn more about the author, but ultimately grab their book used to start. I have tons of books in my TBR stack from “new” authors, or authors with just one or two published works. And of the others waiting to be read, most are new to me! So that counts in a way too, I think.

Booking Through Thursday: Authors talking

booking_through_thursLet’s go Booking Through Thursday!

This week’s question: Do you read any author’s blogs? If so, are you looking for information on their next project? On the author personally? Something else?

I do read author’s blogs; I find them very interesting! I don’t always remember to keep up with them faithfully, but I enjoy going through their backlog of entries when I do make my way over there. Most recently, I’ve kept up with the blogs of Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen, Jennifer Weiner and Courtney Summers, some of my favorite authors.

The main reason I frequently check out author’s blogs, I think, is to remind myself that they’re “just like us” — and, in my case, that I could be “just like them” someday! It inspires me to know that these are talented, normal women who’ve made a career out of their awesome writing. It gives me hope that someday, write meg! could become the official blog of Megan, Published & Critically Acclaimed Novelist, and that would be . . . amazing!

And, of course, I do read the blogs to see what they’re up to — what shows they’re watching, music they like, from where they get their inspiration. And to see what they’re writing, of course! Author’s blogs are usually the fastest way to get the story on their latest . . . story (no pun intended! Or totally intended, whichever you prefer). And the authors themselves are usually hilarious, fun and witty people — that’s why they’ve been so successful. So they’re just good reads!

I think it’s incredible that we live in a world in which I can sit down at my computer, pop open a little box and see the individual thoughts of folks — writers, artists, musicians — who’ve decided to make them public. In 2009, I can go on John Mayer’s site, too, and see what he felt like sharing after winning a Grammy award on Sunday. I know we have to take all blogs with a grain of salt — especially those written by celebrities, who may or may not pay someone to “write” the blogs for them! — but I think that most are serious, actual thoughts, and it’s amazing to think that I can sit down and see what Meg Cabot is doing right now as she posts on Twitter or how Sarah Dessen felt about a recent basketball game. Ten, twenty, thirty years ago — this would have been insane and unfathomable! Technology can be a beautiful thing! On the flip side, of course, we could argue that the “fourth wall” has been broken down by our gaining access to the lives of people we admire . . . and maybe taking them down from the pedestal on which society has probably placed them. But I think it’s good that we’re reminded of the humanity of people in popular culture . . . and that they make mistakes, have dreams, act silly and have fears just like we do.

Booking Through Thursday: Wealth of information

booking_through_thursLet’s go Booking Through Thursday!

This week’s question: Have you ever been put off an author’s books after reading a biography of them? Or the reverse — a biography has made you love an author more?

Honestly, I don’t read many biographies. It’s not that I don’t find authors interesting — I just don’t read much non-fiction. Of the author biographies I have read in my life, most have been memoirs — written by the author him- or herself. So they read like their novels to me. Philip Roth’s Patrimony was a memoir of his recollections of his father, their family and what it meant to be a son — all themes he tackles in his novels, especially American Pastoral. Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings was an interesting, sometimes heartbreaking look at her life — and made her short stories even more interesting to me.

Other biographies I’ve read? Jon Spence’s Becoming Jane Austen, which just further fanned the flames of my JA obsession. And others for college that I can’t seem to recall now! Scary how quickly knowledge can deteroriate and crack when not accessed regularly! I do remember reading bios of Shakespeare, which certainly weren’t the most fascinating thing to tackle — but didn’t completely turn me off of his plays and poetry.

Overall, I would say that of the reading biographies has made me more interested in the writers themselves. In fact, I just might pick one up again in the near future! I made a half-hearted resolution I would try and read more non-fiction this year. It’s only February — I still might come through on that!

Breaking into Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award

I got quite the exciting call from my friend Gwyn this morning! Once again, it astounds me how little I can know about things that actually matter and how much I know about inconsequential, ridiculous things that will in no way further my career or help me achieve total financial independence (i.e., Jessica Alba’s daughter’s name is Honor Marie).

Apparently, Amazon is having holding a major contest right now — and giving out the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award this summer! I realize that this is partially a marketing tool to get writers to inadvertantly become exposed to their new program, CreateSpace, to self-publish, but hey — mission accomplished. I signed up and entered. The deadline looms — this Sunday, Feb. 8. They’re accepting up to 10,000 entries for evaluation! So I pumped myself up, tried to seem marketable, uploaded my manuscript and came up with a snappy pitch. I did the best a sleepy girl could do on a snowy morning in Maryland on a Wednesday. I was eager to get everything submitted — I didn’t want to obsess about it all day.

So now I just get to obsess until they announce the 500 quarterfinalists on March 16. Excerpts from those folks’ novels will be posted on Amazon to be rated and reviewed. And then they whittle down the entries by panel, etc., until the “grand prize winner” is announced May 22. Simultaneously frightening and exhilirating!

Regardless, I entered. And by 11 a.m. today, I’m already feeling quite accomplished! All of my writer friends, I encourage you to submit, too . . . I’m not selfish enough to want to keep the entry pool small for my own gain! Or am I? 🙂 No, I’m not. Check out the rules and enter on Amazon at this link!