Tag Archives: Meg Cabot

It’s really busy here…

The Book Sale

Well, that’s what she said, the bookshop assistant who answered the phone when we were ‘hanging’ nearby. Yes, she did have people who wanted to pay for stuff, but my idea of busy appears to have been warped by British shops. ‘It’s The Book Sale’ she told the caller, by way of explanation for the busyness.

It was the second day of The Sale, so I trust they had been more swamped the day before. I could move inside the shop. There was the odd inconsiderate person in my way, but it wasn’t too bad.

I was a little disappointed by the books, though. I wasn’t really thinking of buying, except I did get the idea from looking at someone’s blog last week that there was one book I might purchase. Couldn’t find it. Couldn’t find too much at all, to be honest.

Meg Cabot and Cathy Hopkins in The Sale

There was Sovay by Celia Rees, and a couple of Cathy Hopkins books. Big pile of Meg Cabot, and what looked like the collected works by Michelle Paver. All a little cheaper than before, but no giving-it-away prices. What I have still to find out is whether their appearance in The Sale of 2011 means you must give up all hope of buying them later.

I think it does. When I wanted to buy more copies of Adèle Geras’s Facing the Light some years ago I bought the last copy in the country and after that you just couldn’t find it. (I know that makes sense. Last copy should indicate ‘no more’.) When Philip Pullman was given the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2005 I believe they had to hurriedly reprint his books in order to have anything to sell. He may be good, but he had been Saled before the award.

On the other hand, selling out in The Sale is a nicer fate than becoming road fill. And if you’re really lucky there might be an award coming, if only because there are no more books.

(There could have been more pictures to accompany this post, had the picture-making facility not had a massive fail. There could even have been a second shop surveyed, had the witch’s legs not had a minor fail. Sorry for any convenience caused.)

Della says: OMG!

My lucky eavesdrop bore fruit a few days after the love and sex event at Waterstone’s. Keris Stainton who was telling William Nicholson and Melvin Burgess about her new novel in the signing queue, very kindly offered to send me a copy of the book. I did hint very heavily, I must admit, but it was sweet of her, even so.

As Daughter said, turning the book over and studying the cover of Della says: OMG!, it’s quite good. She liked the Facebook page design, and thought the plot sounded OK too. That’s also what Meg Cabot says in her cover quote, so I reckon we are all fairly agreed on this.

This is a well written, and easy to read, book about young love. It says it’s not suitable for younger readers, but I’d like it to be read by fairly young girls. You’re only too young for it if the forthright language upsets you. It’d be worth young girls getting the message before it’s too late, so I think earlier rather than later.

Della’s diary ends up on Facebook, and gets quoted in text messages (to the new boyfriend, no less) and pages find their way to people she knows. Who’s doing this? And how will Della cope?

She and her best friend Maddy discuss their boyfriends in depth, and we see the problems facing them regarding bitchy girls, gorgeous boys, fancying more than one, and tricky sibling relationships. It’s light, but still deals with things girls like reading about.

Age-appropriate advice

Would you suggest to a proficient 14-year-old reader that they read The Witches by Roald Dahl?

It’s not the first thing that would come to mind, is it? Especially if the advisor is someone in publishing, who knows about books for young readers. I’m reminded of my Swedish teacher when I was that age. She kept suggesting books that were far too young for me, even if I hadn’t been permanently glued to Alistair MacLean. In English.

The magazine ViLÄSER arranged a meeting between a children’s publisher and a 14-year-old for a discussion on books, and I was appalled to find the Dahl being her first idea when the girl said she likes exciting books.

Even the previously mentioned Petrini crime novels are a little young, although the girl had enjoyed them. I could barely keep up when the next suggestion was Aidan Chambers, which is a huge jump. The girl’s current favourite is The Hunger Games.

In the end they produced a fairly good list of books, including Ink Heart, His Dark Materials, The Princess Diaries, The Diary of a Wimp, and Before I Die.

But why should it be so hard to give advice?

I found an interesting thought in an interview with a children’s author called Åsa Lind. I have no idea of what her writing is like, but like this quote: ‘You don’t need to write for everyone. It doesn’t have to be easy to digest or easy to buy. Better chewy than soft. But still enjoyable, rather like Romanian poetry.’

Magazine freebies

I wonder if I can write this without turning it into an ad for a teen magazine? On our last travels together Daughter purchased a magazine to help her survive all that time on the train. Never mind the bag full of books. Anyway, it turned out fairly useful, as it offered a free bag, which we used before too long, and it certainly helped us get home. The other freebie was a Meg Cabot book.

Or two part books, to be exact. It was the first chapters of book ten in the Princess Diaries series. And also the first chapters about new series Air Head. It’s really very clever to provide the beginning of a book for free. Once you’ve started reading you’ll go crazy if you can’t finish it. So, you’ll understand why I didn’t begin reading.

Cathy Cassidy has also had freebies like this, but I wonder whether it only works with really girlie books? Could readers of girl magazines be tempted by other types of books in this way, too?

I myself keep going on and on about the women’s magazine I picked purely on the basis on it offering a complete book, which felt like good value. It was the first Ann Granger crime novel, and on the strength of that free book I have by now bought at least a dozen more.

Almost as free are the World Book Day £1 books. With the school vouchers they are free, and even without I feel £1 is good value. In the last few weeks I have read two WBD books, by Meg Cabot and Neil Gaiman. In one case it was a way of finding out was someone is like, and in the other it was simply another book to enjoy.

I hope lots of non-readers can be convinced to try books this way.

Rennison rules

I kept thinking it was Tuesday. And of course by the time I got home it was. Three hours at Watford tends to have that effect on train travel. But I was back in time to send Daughter to school.

Arrival of the two Cathys

If you are like me and don’t know Godalming, I can tell you it’s very pretty, and so wealthy (I imagine) that the shops mainly sell things you don’t need. The Book People “live” in Godalming, and they were the ones behind the Queen of Teen award, which ended with a coronation and a great pink party in a marquee on the lawn. I was promised peacocks, but didn’t see them. Flamingos would have suited the pink theme better.

Sarra Manning

I have never seen three pink limousines all at once before. Plus a white one. The authors were driven round with a fan each in the limos, before being decanted onto the red carpet (why not pink?) by the marquee, in front of eager photographers. In the case of Sarra Manning and Grace Dent the drive lasted for hours, but at least they got to know their fans very, very well. Jacqueline Wilson said her neighbours got something to look at when her pink limo came to pick her up. Not an everyday occurrence, then. Someone, I forget who, said she was willing to pay not to go in a limo again. Ah well.

Grace Dent

The marquee was a little pink. The carpet inside was totally pink, and so uneven that we didn’t need pink champagne to stumble every now and then. The food was pink, and very lovely. Even the portaloos were posh, if not exactly pink. It could have been a wedding, except there weren’t enough men there. It was all organised by Susie from the Book People, and she can do a party for me anytime.

Grace's shoes

The invited girls queued to chat to the authors, who signed books and leaflets like mad. The tables were groaning under free books, and once the fans cottoned on to this, they disappeared very fast. The books. Not the fans. There were also party bags at the end, filled with even more goodies and books. If that doesn’t encourage reading, I don’t know what will.

Jacqueline Wilson tells stories

As this was a crowning of a queen, there were tiaras. And those bands that royals wear on posh occasions. Pink, naturally. The chosen girl for each author was invited onto the stage to put a tiara on the head of her favourite, and they all made a brief speech about why they like them so much. I was very impressed with how well the girls spoke. It must be the quality of the writers that produces such great fans.

Karen McCombie

I have not read all of them. I dipped into a few books on the way, and quite enjoyed Meg Cabot’s Princess Mia. Meg, by the way, was the only one not there, as she had some books to sign in South Africa. Had a brief look at Karen McCombie’s book, which I just happened to find on a shelf at home. As for Louise Rennison, she got to sign the strangest book of the day for me. She had to ask, but it was Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging in Swedish. I saw fit to use it for language lessons a few years ago. I remember the kissing lesson. Trying not to muscle in too much on the younger fans, I also added a few names to my quest for signatures in my anthology collections. Their stories, not mine. So, doing well on that front.

Joanna Nadin

We all agreed that to have real, live authors makes a difference between today’s readers and the Enid Blyton generation. All the writers present felt honoured to share the pink chairs with their sister authors. Karen wanted her eight-year-old self to see her now, which would have been interesting if possible. Karen, as she is now, is very pretty, and the Scottish accent is a real bonus. Joanna Nadin’s fan was particularly wonderful, and she alone could tempt me to read Joanna’s books.

Lisa Clark

Lisa Clark’s hair is fantastic. It might not influence her writing, but looks great. Jacqueline Wilson was tanned from a recent holiday, and looked very well. And, she wore pink, a dreamy muted kind of pink. Cathy Cassidy had left her favourite green clothes, and was also pink for the day. Cathy Hopkins said she didn’t have anything pink, but the scarf did the trick, and Cathy looks so fantastic these days. Must be an author thing. We didn’t see so much of Sarra and Grace, as they arrived very late, after their enforced limo ride round most of Britain (I’m making it up), but check out Grace’s shoes! Louise is a born entertainer, and was really funny. Fiona Dunbar

Sophie MacKenzie

Two more authors in the shape of Fiona Dunbar and Sophie MacKenzie, who were ladies with a mission. They were the ones who had the envelope with the name of the soon-to-be Queen of Teen. It was nearly the Oscars, and as some of you may have gathered, the new Queen is Louise Rennison. She gave up her tiara for the much grander crown, and then had to learn to walk around without it falling off. The throne really suited her, and she was pretty good at cutting the ceremonial cake, as well.

Louise Rennison

With all the books gone, the cakes eaten and photos taken, we all trooped off home. Or tried to. Godalming was harder to leave than you’d think. The witch forced herself on a very kind librarian from York with two girls, and shared a taxi. The taxi driver was friendly, but I can’t say the same for his controller. They’re weird in Surrey. Some of them, I mean. The traffic jam had to be seen to be believed, and according to the driver he had never seen it before. Must have been us, then.

Lovely day, whether it was Monday or Tuesday, or both.

Queen of Teen

A number of very popular writers have been holding their collective breaths for some time now, and crossing fingers and things, in the hope that she will be the one to become Queen of Teen at the end of September. They have each egged their fans on to vote for them, so we’ll have to see who’s been more persuasive than her colleagues. If I’ve got this right, I believe that a group of fans who nominated their favourite author, will be invited to come and meet her, and hopefully see her crowned.

Will it be Jacqueline Wilson or Meg Cabot? Maybe one of the Cathys; Cassidy or Hopkins? Louise Rennison or Karen McCombie perhaps? Or pink lady Lisa Clark, or Grace Dent, Sarra Manning or Joanna Nadin?

I haven’t voted, I must admit. I want to remain as neutral as possible, though I understand Daughter had a go.

Anthologies for charity

I mentioned the anthology Like Mother, Like Daughter the other day. I have a couple of other story collections too, that were both published in aid of charity. Unlike Amnesty International’s Click, which was one story written by different authors in a literary relay, these are simply short stories by well known authors.

Higher Ground is all about the 2004 tsunami, and was published only months after the disaster. Sixteen children’s authors each wrote a story based on what happened to a real child, somewhere in the world during that period. It’s very sad and very uplifting. Definitely worth having a few hankies standing by for when you read it. The authors are Melvin Burgess, Gillian Cross, Tim Bowler, Bernard Ashley, Eoin Colfer and many more, with foreword by Michael Morpurgo. Highly recommended.

Last year ten authors, hand-picked by readers of Cosmo Girl, wrote a short story each for Shining On, sold in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. We’ve got Melvin Burgess again, as the lone boy, with girl writers Jacqueline Wilson, Anne Fine, Malorie Blackman, Rosie Rushton, Sue Limb, Meg Cabot, Cathy Hopkins, Meg Rosoff and Celia Rees. The stories are as good as you’d expect from the star-studded line-up.

The witch is slowly – very slowly – collecting her signatures in these two anthologies. It’ll take me years.