Friday, December 29, 2006

Look what I just found ...

My German cover!

Barbies? I'm assuming that's meant to be ironic. I'm also assuming the translation of the title, "When Does George Come?" is not as suggestive in German as it is in English. But what do I know.

Do you like it? I do!

In other news, click here to read a fascinating interview with Bonnie Glover, author of The Middle Sister, on Susan Henderson's LitPark. You'll love Bonnie's surprising answers as well as Susan's insightful intro.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Happy and healthy holiday to all!

And here's more holiday fun.
(Thanks to M.J. Rose for the hilarious link.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Newsday article

In today's Newsday there's a big article about me by Denise Flaim, who's a sharp, smart and funny writer. (She has a regular Pets column in the paper and a weekly Suburban Diva radio spot on KJOY 98.3.)

I could only scan a portion of the article, but if you want to read the whole thing, the text is here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Signed books

Lately, a few folks have asked how to get a signed copy of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, so I figured I'd take the opportunity to post about it.

If you're on Long Island, there are a few stores that still have signed copies in stock. They definitely have a good supply at the Borders in Syosset (516.496.3934), and could have some left at the Book Revue in Huntington (631.271.1442), Borders in Commack (631.462.0569) and at Barnes & Noble stores in Huntington Station (631.421.9886) and Manhasset (516.365.6723).

If you're not local, self-adhesive bookplates are a pretty convenient alternative. They affix easily to the front of the book and look pretty darn good (click picture for larger image). If you want one, just drop me a line at ellen (at) ellenmeister (dot) com and tell me who to make it out to and where to send it.

If you really want a personally inscribed book, drop me an email at the same address and we'll work out the postage.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Pre-holiday woes, Post-holiday tale

For Chanukah, my boys asked for a new game system called Wii. Have you heard of this? Apparently, you don't use use a regular controller--the damn thing senses your body movements.

Like many parents of video-addicted kids I thought, "At last! A chance for the kids to get some exercise." However, with a $250 price tag, I was thinking that maybe they weren't really too big for the backyard swingset after all.

Then I heard that the really hot new console, the PlayStation 3, is about $600. Suddenly, the Wii was looking like a bargain.

You see how insidious this whole thing is?

So okay. I decided I would get this for both boys, and it would be their one big Chanukah gift this year. Then, of course, there was the whole issue of actually buying it.

Days before it was due to hit stores, I noticed people sleeping in tents outside Target and Circuit City. I am not kidding. People were camping out. I knew I was in trouble.

Most of these folks were lining up for the PlayStation, which was reported to be in very short supply. But I got wind that only a very limited number of Wii's was being distributed. Ugh.

Thinking it was a long shot, I showed up at Circuit City the first morning the Wii was to go on sale. Bad news. They only got 11 units and they were gone.

"But the truck is still here," the sales clerk said.

"What does that mean?"

He shrugged. "There could be another box of them."

"How long before you know?"

Another shrug.

I decided to park myself at the counter and wait. Within minutes, other people arrived looking for the Wii. I was not budging. If one unit came off that truck it was mine, goddamnit.

Sure enough, an hour later one Wii was brought up from the loading dock. I leered at the people behind me, lest anyone think they had a prayer of snatching it.

I emerged triumphant from Circuit City. Everything was falling into place. Chanukah would be saved. And if I was able to get the Wii, how hard could it be to the Nintendo DS in coral pink my daughter wanted?

Ha! The DS, a handheld current generation Gameboy, has proven to be the most elusive product of the year. In pink at least. I was calling stores every day and no one had it. Finally, with Chanukah approaching, I was forced to give up and get the darned thing in another color. But guess what? By that point, it was sold out in every color.

Then, yesterday, I hit pay dirt. Toys R Us had it in stock. Not in pink, so black would have to do. By that point I was so desperate I didn't even balk when they told me the Nintendo DS was only being sold as a "bundle." That means you're forced to buy all this extra crap you don't need with it. The cashier, who had a slight accent, asked me, "What color chair do you want?"

"Excuse me?" I said.

"What color chair do you want?"


"Yes. It comes in blue and pink."

"I'm sorry," I said. "I'm not understanding you. It sounded like you said, 'What color chair do you want.'"

"I did. It comes with a chair."

"The videogame comes with a chair. Like a chair that you sit on?"

I was utterly confused. And I felt bad for the cashier, whose accent really wasn't that thick after all. I was the thick one. Apparently there's a chair you plug your game system into and ... something happens. Like you go into another dimension or something. I'm not exactly clear on this.

Anyway, the kids went berserk when they opened their gifts last night, so I guess all is well. And meanwhile, I leave you a poem I wrote a few years ago, which appeared in Light Magazine:

“The Raving”
A Mother's Chilling Post-Holiday Tale

By Ellen Meister

Once upon an evening dreary, while I toiled, weak and weary
Over many a desperate dirty dishrag and forgotten chore,
While I leaned down limply lugging toys from off the carpet rugging
Suddenly there came a tugging, tugging at the skirt I wore.
"'Tis some little kid," I muttered, smoothing out the skirt I wore,
"Only this and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
Action dolls not yet dismembered lay across the playroom floor.
Each new toy was still unbroken, yet the child still was pokin'
And the only word there spoken was the whining more, "S'more.
"This he whispered then his sister murmured back the word, "S'more."
Only this they did implore.

Then the silly, sad, incessant clangor of the season's presents
Chilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now to still the beating of my heart I stood repeating,
"Darling children, I am pleading, let's return some to the store--
Darling children, I'm entreating, let us give some to the poor."
Still they said, "We want s'more."

"You still want more?" I blurted feeling slightly dizzy, my head reeling,
"Get thee back into the playroom where your playthings line the floor!
Go before I need to yank you! Go before I want to spank you!
Leave my kitchen and I'll thank you not to ask for any more.
Take thy sighs from out my sight and thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the child, "I want more."

And the child, so demanding, still is standing, still is standing
Near a portion of my pantry just beside the kitchen door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming
Sights of toys and trinkets gleaming on the shelves of every store.
Unaffected with respect to his demands for even more,
Quoth I, the mother, "Never more!"

Last but not least, if you're in the New York area, check out Newsday tomorrow (Sunday). There's supposed to be a pretty cool article about a certain minivan-driving suburban PTA mom who also happens to be an author.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Amazing John Edward

I wish I had more time to blog about this, because last night's event was spectacular. Alas, I've got about 10 phone calls to make, 20 emails to return, 40 pounds of laundry to fold, several dinners to cook and THE PHONE DOES NOT STOP RINGING.

Anyway, we didn't hear from my mother-in-law or my friend Fern, but it was an extraordinary experience. I had always assumed that John Edward's TV show, Crossing Over, only showed his very best readings, but every single one he did last night was astoundingly accurate and detailed. It. blew. my. mind. If you ever get a chance to see this guy, do it.

In addition to being so accurate, he's also incredibly funny and sarcastic and entertaining. And of course, the show is also poignant because there are so many people who are dealing with grief.

One very tiny example of the kind of thing that happened over and over throughout the show ...

Before he began, John explained that if he's doing a reading of one person, he'll likely get information that pertains to people sitting near that person, only he doesn't necessarily know the information is for someone else. So he was talking to a woman and kept saying over and over again that he's getting a message from a woman who passed about the number three, but "one is different--three, but one is different." He said it could possibly be three siblings and one is different in some way, possibly gender or something else. Then he named the departed woman and three people in back of the person he was speaking to stood. They said that was their departed mother. John asked, "Does 'three but one is different' mean something to you?" One of the women got so hysterical she couldn't speak, but finally said she was given up for adoption at a year old and only just found her brother and sister a few months ago. The brother and sister were raised by the biological mother--she was the only one who had been given up. Flipped out, huh?

I could give you so many more examples, but this one stayed with me because it was so emotional.

Off topic, here's a birthday shoutout to my friend, Maryanne Stahl. If you haven't read her books, please do yourself a favor and click here. You deserve to buy yourself a nice Christmas present, don't you?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Talking to dead people

Tonight my s-i-l and I will go see John Edward at the former Westbury Music Fair. He's the Crossing Over guy who talks to dead people. Go ahead and think this is totally nutty, but I've seen this guy and his comments are specific enough to be totally convincing. I'm hoping to hear from either my mother-in-law or my friend Fern. Of course, they'd have to compete with all the hundreds of other ghosts in the room, but these are two people who really like to be heard, so who knows.

Now for some news from among the living ...

  • Huge congrats to my good friend Robin Slick who was nominated as having one of the 10 best blogs of 2006. If you don't think that's a big deal consider this: there were nearly 4,500 entries. Yowza! Well done, Rob! You deserve it.

  • The always fascinating Kay Sexton blogged about the bookplate I sent her. You can read it here. If you want a signed bookplate of your own, drop me an email at and I'll be happy to send one along.

  • Lately I've reached out to some very, very famous people to see if someone might agree to look at my next book, The Smart One, for a possible endorsement blurb. I think I'll have more luck contacting dead people.

  • Speaking of being ignored by famous people, still no bouquet of roses from George Clooney to thank me for sending him a signed book and putting him on the map.

  • Other people of note I sent a signed book to but never heard back from include radio host Joan Hamburg and her daughter Lizzie. I'm a fan of Joan's show and thought she and Lizzie might like the book, so I mailed it to them care of the radio station. Wish I had a way of finding out if they even got the books. I also sent one to anonymous literary agent/blogger/George Clooney fan Miss Snark, via the agent she is rumored to be. Said agent wrote back to assure me she was not Miss Snark, but would forward the book. Alas, not a word from Miss Snark, and Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA doesn't show up in her Library Thing catalog. Since I like these people I'm going to assume they're not being rude, but either never got the books.

  • Just so you don't think I'm a relentless whiner, I'll tell you that there's at least one famous person who did write back to thank me for sending her a signed book--radio psychologist Dr. Joy Browne. She sent the most gracious note and I was thrilled. I think she's the bomb.

  • Friday, December 01, 2006

    Mom! Mom! Robert DeNiro's on the phone!

    "... and he's calling on behalf of Hillary Clinton!"

    I wonder how many households had similar conversations in the weeks leading up to the last election.

    Naturally, I thought it was adorable that my son actually thought Robert DeNiro was calling me. He just assumed my status as an author had landed me so close to celebritydom that such a thing was possible.

    A savvy person such as myself would never make such a mistake.

    So yesterday, when the phone rang and the caller ID window showed a cellphone number in Los Angeles, I bolted for the phone with studied nonchalance. Alas, I was too late. The caller had hung up before I could get to it.

    I tried to shrug it off, but the creepy, disquieting voice in my head began to whisper: it's-george-it's-george-it's-george...

    I ignored it and paced the room. Who on earth could that have been?


    It couldn't have been George Clooney ... could it? I mean, sure I included my phone number along with the autographed book I sent him, but he wouldn't just pick up the phone and call, would he? No. No way.


    Of course, I had recently sent an email to David Letterman's mailbag, implying that I was solely responsible for George Clooney's fame. Included in the message was my phone number and the request that he nudge Clooney to call and thank me.

    Was it possible the email wasn't deleted unread by some CBS intern? Could this really be the phone call?


    "Call the number!" said one of my online friends. "I'm dying of curiosity here."

    "It's probably just a wrong number," I insisted. ... it's-george-it's-george-it's-george... "Besides, what would I say?"


    "Stop!" I argued with the voice. "The call came in an hour ago. I can't hit callback now. It'll look stupid."


    "No. It's dopey. It's uncool. I should let him call back. And anyway, I'm sure it's just a wrong number. Or maybe one of my Los Angeles cousins. No way it's George."


    I picked up the phone. I pressed the Caller ID button. I hesitated.


    I typed in a 1 before the area code. I held my breath.


    I hit talk.

    It rang.

    Someone answered.

    A chirpy female voice. "Hello! Thank you for calling Planned Parenthood! Please hold for one our representatives!"

    A charity? A charity was so duplicitous they would fool my Caller ID by disguising themselves behind a Los Angeles cellphone number?

    The motherfudgers.

    I slammed down the phone.

    Hey, I understand that it's hard to raise funds for a Pro-Choice organization in George Bush's America, and I've supported them in the past (which is why they call me relentlessly), but I am DONE with Planned Parenthood. Done. I'll never answer one of their calls again. Never. Even if they have someone as famous as Robert DeNiro call me. Even if ...


    Oh, never mind.