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Posted 26 September 2009 - 12:29 PM

megcabot Hello, and welcome to the HOLIDAY PRINCESS chat! I hope you're all having a lovely week off (if you get the week off) and are getting set for the New Year. So, let's get started!
HM101 How long did it take you to get all the information about holidays?
megcabot Well, quite a bit of time. I'd been collecting articles/books on it for a while. So then it was just a matter of putting it all together. I do have to say, I learned a lot!
fareedatammamixaroo How thoroughly do you outline a novel before writing the first draft, or do you not have an outline?
megcabot I'm not an outliner. I write a paragraph or two outlining the basic plot, and go from there.
pradagrl13 First, I would just like to say I love your books, now to the question, Do you enjoy Christmas in NYC or prefer anywhere but NYC? (I ask this because most people who live in New York, say the prefer to stay away from the city)
megcabot I love NYC during the holidays! It's so pretty! And usually pretty empty on the actual holidays themselves. That said, I want to be somewhere warm in the sun, so I am usually away from it. If only NYC were tropical...
Sally-Kate What would Mia do for New Year?
megcabot I think she'd be attending some horrible state function.
hobbits_r_cool Hey, Meg, I was wondering why you haven't mentioned that Gwen Stefani is having a baby yet in your blog. It seems like the sort of thing that you would comment upon immediately
megcabot Oh, it's coming. Check tomorrow.
HM101 Can we use the fashion and beauty tips in holiday princess?
megcabot Of course! They were thoroughly researched.
pixie Hey, Janey!! Have you redesigned megcabot.com?? It looks so cool and... PINK!!! :)
Janey Nope it wasn't me. We are independent sites. It was the great folks at HarperCollins (Meg's US Publisher) who did it. Isn't it great?
laEspanolaBailando Hey Meg, I love all your books! I was wondering if Holiday Princess, Perfect Princess, or Princess Lessons will ever come out in paperback?
megcabot No, I think they'll only be released in hardback format, as they are more gift books. Same with Princess Present.
fareedatammamixaroo What made you want to make an entire series about the character Mia?
megcabot I don't know. I just always planned it to be a series. That's why I made her a freshman in the first book, so it could go on for 12 or so books.
Dance_inQUEEN Hey Meg!! Avalon High seriously ROCKS!!! When did you have to start Holiday Princess for it to make the Holiday deadline? 
megcabot Well, thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying it. I had to write Holiday Princess last summer...it was kind of hard to get in the spirit of things, let me tell you.
HM101 In nearly all of your books, especially the PD ones, you mention, quote, or make references to several different movies. Have you seen all of those movies?
megcabot It would be very irresponsible of me to quote from movies I haven't seen. So, yes, I have.
fareedatammamixaroo How long will the series with Mia be?
megcabot I'm thinking 12 full length books. Not counting novellas.
pixie Hey, Meg! Sorry!! - off topic quest!!. - New Year's coming...! Where are you going to celebrate? And, are you gonna celebrate it at all?
megcabot I have a BUNCH of deadlines so I'm pretty exhausted. I may watch some TV, but that is going to be the extent of my time off. I am pretty tired from Christmas, still.
blueberry23 What is your favorite part of HOLIDAY PRINCESS?
megcabot Hmmm, good question. I really like Tina's tips. You?
pradagrl13 What is really your fav holiday movie?
megcabot Gosh, that's hard! I love so many. Bad Santa is a new favorite that I forgot to list in the book.
fareedatammamixaroo Do you already know what will happen at the end of the series?
megcabot Oh, yes, the ending was discussed and OK'd by my editor a loooong time ago.
fareedatammamixaroo Do you ever have people recognize you on the street from book pictures?
megcabot Only once. A police officer who was arresting someone outside my house recognized me, because he had just been at one of my book signings with his daughter. It was hilarious (well, maybe not to the guy he was arresting).
JediElf Hi Meg!! Love the book, I read the whole thing Christmas morning. How long did it take you to research all the different country info??
megcabot A looong time. That was the hardest part. It was really hard to fact check it all, too.
fareedatammamixaroo How do you respond when literary types look down on your writing because it's "chick lit?"
megcabot I feel sorry for them because I know more people are reading and enjoying my books than theirs. It's sad but true!
sara_fm What do you do to develop characters? Like, do you fill in an answer sheet you've made, right some paragraphs, brainstorm on different things with the personality, etc?
megcabot Hmmm, no. I just think of a kind of person, then try to make him/her act in a way that would be believable for that person.
fareedatammamixaroo What do you do differently when you write for teens than adults, style wise or any other wise when you're writing?
megcabot There is way less swearing in my books for teens. Which makes me sad, because I love to swear.
PennyLane What music are you currently listening to?
megcabot Tracy Bonham's new album. Shakira. Madonna. Earth, Wind, and Fire (because of the Target ads).
fareedatammamixaroo What would be your least favorite thing about being a princess?
megcabot I think having guys want to date you because you're rich.
Dance_inQUEEN Meg, are you truly devastated about The Break Up?? I knew you mentioned it in your blog earlier today!
megcabot You mean Nick and Jessica? I feel used and betrayed, yes. Like the entire relationship was just to be on TV.
h0llaback9irL Why do books come out in hardcover first, and then paperback a year later?
megcabot Because people like hardback books better. I know it sounds weird, but I sell more hardbacks than paperbacks. So they put the one I sell the most of out first.
ComeTogether What books are you working on at the moment?
megcabot Right now I'm working on PHAT CHICK, the sequel to SIZE 12 IS NOT FAT.
._AmErIcAn_DeSi_. Hey Meg! I love how your site is now. Now question, have you used anything that your wrote in Holiday Princess, like make-up tips, gift tips, etc, etc?
megcabot Thanks! And actually, I have, I was able to tell lots of people the true origin of stuff like holly (Saturnalia) and what Deck the Halls REALLY means. Not that anyone cared. But *I* thought it was interesting.
fareedatammamixaroo As an author, what is the question you dread most from readers or young writers?
megcabot Where do you get your ideas/inspiration.
Bri Will Mia's next school years be covered by as many books as her freshman year was?
megcabot Alas, no, we are going to need to start speeding things up.
fareedatammamixaroo You seem to use 1st person more than 3rd person. What do you think are its advantages?
megcabot Well, I think you get into the main character's head faster in 1st. However, some readers don't like being THAT much in someone else's head, and prefer 3rd person. I do think 1st is more fun to write.
sara_fm For "Holiday Princess" did you just research on the tips and tricks you included or were some of them things that you actually had tried and used yourself?
megcabot Well, I wear false eyelashes when I go on TV for instance. And most of the other stuff I've tried, too.
pixie Where do you get all those Tina's tips from? She's always a 'love-know-it-all'!
megcabot Thanks! I actually got them from the woman Tina is based on...my old friend from high school who actually wrote me notes back then, telling me all that stuff. She was very wise about boys. We still email all the time!
Bri Do you know why your UK publishers chose to combine Holiday Princess and Princess Present?
megcabot I think they felt Princess Present was too short to be a stand alone book. They will also be combining Sweet Sixteen Princess with a Princess Mia "annual."
hobbits_r_cool In the part of the book where Michael writes about New Year's, and Mia makes the little comments in red, how does Michael know what she is writing when no one else seems to?
megcabot Because he was there when she did it. Everybody else submitted theirs later.
princessinlovefan I know that you said the series would be about 12 books, do you know how many novellas you may write?
megcabot I think after Sweet Sixteen Princess and Valentine Princess, there will be no more novellas.
JediElf Do you have any plans for more PD books similar to Perfect Princess and Holiday Princess?
megcabot No, that's it for the how-to books, I think.
pixie Meg, Genovia is based on Monaco, right? Have you ever been to Monaco?
megcabot Yes, and I have, when I was a kid. I loved it! They actually let look at the moon rocks (from PD4, remember?) up close since we were the first Americans to go to their little museum the day Nixon donated them (the moon rocks). It was a big honor! And we saw Princess Grace.
Maya What is your favorite holiday food/beverage?
megcabot I love pumpkin pie and hot cider.
pixie What book are you reading at the moment?
megcabot Yikes. Since I am so busy writing, I am not reading anything but Us Weekly, I'm ashamed to say. And the new Time with Bill Gates on it!
NamelessChic Which of your characters do you feel is the most like you?
megcabot You mean, who is my Mary Sue? Sorry, I just learned about Mary Sues, so I am all excited about them. But I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that someone might accuse that character of being my Mary Sue.
Amy What's the most spiteful thing you've been able to do now that you're a famous published author and everything?
megcabot Write books about people I hate. I have to subtly change the character so they will never know it's about them and sue me. But *I* know. And then I laugh and laugh.
NamelessChic When you were younger, did you want to be a writer? And, if so, did people encourage you?
megcabot I wanted to be a veterinarian or an actress. I didn't want to be a write until I was in my twenties. And a few people were supportive, but lots of people weren't. So I stopped telling people. They were all QUITE surprised when I got a book published, because they had no idea.
lora_lee What are you New Year's Resolutions?
megcabot Write more, faster.
FrenchKitty My best friend's birthday's tomorrow. I have no idea what to get her... 
megcabot Get her a copy of Avalon High or Size 12 Is Not Fat!
kristi I can't find Holiday Princess anywhere, because in my town and the towns around it, they're all sold out. Which book store website would you recommend me to order it from?
megcabot Wow! Well, I always order my books from my pals at Barnes and Noble.com (our local bookstore here got washed away in Wilma, so the only bookstore left is a used one that doesn't have tons of new stock).
pradagrl13 Do you enjoy animals? It seems that you always have a reference to some sort of pet in a lot of your books. I have 3 dogs and am grieving the loss of a cat.
megcabot Oh, I am so sorry about your cat. I do love animals, and wanted to be a vet. But my grades were too bad.
laEspanolaBailando Have you ever thought of placing books in international places for the full story?
megcabot You mean setting books in places other than America? In my book EVERY BOY'S GOT ONE, they go to Italy. And in my new book, Queen of Babble, which will be out next summer, the heroine goes to England and France. Is that what you mean?
fareedatammamixaroo Did you ever have a title for a book you really loved that an editor or some publishing person shot down? What was the title?
megcabot Every Boy's Got One was originally the title for SHE WENT ALL THE WAY, and the editor decided not to use it. So I pitched it again, a few books later, and the next time, she went for it! But yes, editors change titles approximately 75% of the time. I try never to get attached to a title. 
JediElf Do you ever have moments where you are brainstorming ideas for a certain book but you start coming up with stuff that would be GREAT for a different one?
megcabot EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF THE DAY!
Sally-Kate Did you write as much in your Diary as Mia does in hers?
megcabot Sadly, yes I did.
Kgurl I noticed that your main girl characters are very different. Have you thought about sometimes what your future characters will be like? If so, are there any particular personalities you want to right about right now?
megcabot Well, thank you. I try to make up stories based on the kind of character who would react most badly to that story (Mia being shy not wanting to be a princess, etc). So it depends on the story.
bostonerin Hi Meg--love your books & blog. How long does it take you to write a novel? Does it take less time to work on one of the series?
megcabot Hi, thanks! Yes, it is always easier to write a sequel in some ways, because you know the characters already, but also harder to keep it fresh. It usually takes me about a year to plan a book, and about a month to write it (working on it every day, 9-5).
princessinlovefan Will Mia spend any time letting the readers know what has happened between the books?
megcabot Absolutely.
h0llaback9irL Do you really get names for your characters from phone books? Do you look up the meaning of the names you use?
megcabot Yes to both! But I mix and match, no names DIRECTLY from the phone book.
._AmErIcAn_DeSi_. Did you think that you would become one the most known authors in the country, when you started writing?
megcabot Wow, am I one of the most known authors in the country? I don't think so. But that would be nice! And no, I still feel very lucky if anyone buys a copy of my books.
Sally-Kate Do you read any of the fanfic is based on your books?
megcabot I do not. My lawyers won't let me. And I don't really like to, anyway, because it feels weird to see my characters doing things I would never have them do.
PennyLane I may not be remembering correctly, but I think once Mr. Gianini implied that Mia dresses weirdly. Will we ever get a peek into her non-school uniform wardrobe?
megcabot Hee. Yes.
pradagrl13 Do you enjoy the movies, or would you have liked for them to stay truer to the books?
megcabot I loved the movies based on the Princess Diaries, but nothing that happens in the 2nd one would ever happen in my books! I wish they hadn't killed the dad, either. Poor dead Philippe.
girl_eyes what in the world is a Mary Sue??
megcabot Heh, heh, heh. Google it and see!
Mooseylove Meg, did you get to choose what would appear on your newly redesigned website? Or was it all in the hands of your publisher?
megcabot I had SOME say in it. They gave me several sample designs to choose from. We mixed and matched a bit. But I knew they would do a great job so it was very exciting when they presented it to me!
sara_fm You mentioned in your blog that we might find out how to win a Copy of Princess 7 - can you tell us more about that?
megcabot Why, yes, thanks for reminding me! An advanced copy of PD7 will be given away in the January contest on this site, so be sure to sign up when the prize page gets updated next week!
PennyLane What was your favorite holiday tradition as a kid?
megcabot We were always allowed to open ONE present on Christmas Eve. That was always my favorite, because you had to choose so WISELY.
Fergierocks Meg, did you ever have a college boyfriend when you were in High School? Like Mia.
megcabot Yes! It was shocking. Especially since my curfew was 10pm.
MCRocks Meg, why is there no All-American Girl merchandise in your store?
Janey We are working on designs for it.
_Karma_ Do you feel sad to finish a series and leave a character behind?
megcabot It depends. I feel good about Suze from the Mediator. I feel like I left her in a good place, and that more books would lead to bad times for her, and I don't want to do that to her, because I think she deserves some good times. We'll see how I feel about Mia!
MCRocks Meg, have you ever bought a copy of one of your own books?
megcabot Oh my goodness, all the time. To give as gifts to people when I've run out of my own copies.
Beautifully_Intended Meg, do you have any traditions in your family????????
megcabot Well, I grew up in a very Catholic household, so we had tons of Christmas traditions...the advent calendar, midnight mass, the works. But now I mostly just wing it.
h0llaback9irL Why do publishers make authors' websites? Would you be able to make one on your own if you wanted to?
megcabot Actually, it is very rare that publishers make the author's website. Almost always, the author is responsible for making and paying for her own site. I'm super lucky my publisher offered to take over for me, because I know nothing about that stuff, and it was really hard.
fareedatammamixaroo What makes you decide some books get sequels and some don't? Do you have sequel ideas when you start writing the book, or not until far afterwards?
megcabot Well, I just sort of know from the beginning if I'm going to tie up all the loose ends at the end or not. What's hard is when you feel that you HAVE tied up all the loose ends, and readers STILL want a sequel. If you haven't planned any, it's hard to come up with some.
fareedatammamixaroo Out of all your books, what one did you have to research the most for?
megcabot I know none of you will have read it, but I spent MONTHS researching LADY OF SKYE, and working with an epidemiologist on it.
Maya You advise to "go to medical school" in your blogs about becoming a writer. Did your parents or relatives ever pressure you to go to medical school or have a certain career?
megcabot Well, there was no chance of me going to medical school since my grades were so bad. But my mom DID make me take typing so I could fall back on secretarial work if my acting career didn't work out. Good thing!
Foxy4 My cousin hated reading until she read the princess diaries. Now she can't get enough of it (or Michael!) What book would recommend next for her?
megcabot Well, thanks! How about ALL AMERICAN GIRL or TEEN IDOL or The Mediator or 1800 series? Or AVALON HIGH!
Amy So where did you get the flamingo from the top of your tree? I have been coveting it since you posted pictures.
megcabot Benjamin Franklin Hobby Shop!
blueberry23 What is your favorite holiday?
megcabot You know, I hate all holidays. Isn't that ironic? My favorite day has always been Monday, because it's a fresh new start each time.
Kgurl In the PD books, there is A LOT of comedy. Do you just come up with it (like, spontaneously?)
megcabot Comedy is way harder to write, I think, than tragedy. So no, a lot of elaborate planning goes on. I always stop and think, What would be the FUNNIEST thing to happen next?
NamelessChic Which one of the PD books was the hardest to write?
megcabot I can tell you which one WILL be the hardest: the next one! They get harder and harder as they go along, because the characters are getting older and their problems more complicated.
tiarageek I love PD/AAG, but I was wondering, do you plan on ever writing GLBT characters?
megcabot Yes, there will be gay/lesbian characters in books coming up (some in PD books), but not as main characters since I'm not a good enough writer to write from the POV of a guy, straight or gay, or a lesbian.
Kgurl Did your husband object to your princessy, girly, pink, shiny, sparkly tree?
megcabot Oh, no, he was all for it. In fact, he DIDN'T want a traditional tree.
Nikki Out of all the places you researched which place did you find most interesting?
megcabot I thought places like Finland and Norway had the coolest traditions.
Fergierocks Meg, if you could have any Christmas gift in the universe, what would it be?
megcabot That all animal shelters were no-kill animal shelters!
Maya Do you bake much at home for the holidays? What is your favorite thing to make?
megcabot I am not a baker, but I love my mom's seven layer cookies!
fareedatammamixaroo Did you go to college and if so what did you study? Did you take any writing course?
megcabot Yes, I went to Indiana University but I studied fine arts. I did take a few creative writing workshops, but no English literature classes.
Lindsey I just wanted to say that I loved Ready or Not. It was a great book, and very realistic. Thanks for writing a book that i can actually relate to.
megcabot Thank you very much!
fareedatammamixaroo What is your stance on the whole "Happy Holidays," vs. "Merry Christmas." debate?
megcabot I have a lot Jewish friends, so I am a fan of the Happy Holidays!
megcabot Thanks everybody for coming to tonight's chat! Just to let you know the pick of the month for January is AVALON HIGH (big surprise)! I hope you'll all like it! See you next month...and have a very happy New Year!
megcabot Whew! That was fun! Thanks for coming everybody, and for reading HOLIDAY PRINCESS! Hope you enjoy AVALON HIGH, and we'll do Size 12 is not Fat for February, OK (a little sneak peek at the schedule for you, there). Thanks and have a fun, safe, holiday!--Me

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