12-19-2010 06:54 PM
12-19-2010 07:01 PM
There are some girls who have everything...
She has the right clothes, the right friends, and the right last name, but fifteen-year-old Maddie Crane sometimes feels like an outsider in her clique in the wealthy, seaside town of Hawthorne, Massachusetts. And when her gorgeous, eccentric cousin Cordelia LeClaire moves to town, Maddie is drawn toward her ethereal, magical spirit and teeters even more toward the edge of her friends' tightly-knit circle...
Then there are the jealous ones...
Kate Endicott and the Sisters of Misery-a secret clique of the most popular, powerful girls in school-are less than thrilled by Cordelia's arrival. When Kate's on-again, off-again boyfriend Trevor takes an interest in Cordelia, the Sisters of Misery become determined to make her pay...
Now Maddie must choose between the allure and power of the Sisters of Misery and her loyalty to her beloved cousin. But she'll have to give up on ever fitting in and accept the disturbing truth about the town, her friends, her mysterious cousin, and even herself as she faces the terrifying wrath of the Sisters of Misery...
"An exciting, dangerous, and mysterious world! Megan Kelley Hall has crafted a story that'll keep you guessing until the last page." --Richelle Mead, author, Vampire Academy series
12-19-2010 07:03 PM
Sisters are born, not chosen. . .
Maddie Crane is grappling with the disappearance of Cordelia LeClaire, and trying to escape the grasp of The Sisters of Misery—an insidious clique of the school's most powerful girls, whose pranks have set off a chain of horrific events, and who have Maddie in their sights...
Beware the sister betrayed. . .
Now in a prestigious boarding school far away from her mysterious hometown of Hawthorne, Massachusetts, Maddie feels free from danger. But when an unmarked envelope arrives at her dorm containing a single ominous tarot card, Maddie realizes with terror that some secrets won't stay buried. Knowing she must return to Hawthorne—a town still scarred by the evil of the Salem witch trials—Maddie prepares to face the fears of her past. . .and the wrath of the sister she wronged.
Praise for Megan Kelley Hall and Sisters of Mercy
"Hall will leave readers eager to know what happens next."—Publishers Weekly
12-19-2010 07:07 PM
From Megan's website:
Yay, we have a cover! Let me know your thoughts on our new cover for our anthology on bullying. The book doesn't come out until next fall, so we have some time to play around with it.
Also, our anthology finally made news in Publisher's Weekly! Check out the story here.
Also, Publisher's Marketplace ran the news of our deal this week:
PUBLISHERS MARKETPLACE DEALS for November 16, 2010
NYT bestselling author of Need and Captivate Carrie Jones and author of Sisters of Misery Megan Kelley Hall's DEAR BULLY: Writers Tell Their Stories, an anthology featuring more than 70 essays between the print version and the online component, to Tara Weikum and Sarah Barley at Harper, by Edward Necarsulmer IV of McIntosh & Otis for Jones, and Elisabeth Weed of Weed Literary, for Hall, with proceeds being donated to an anti-bullying charity.
Stop the Madness!
When you get a chance, check out the Facebook pages/groups I created to put a stop to bullying. I have a lot of news, as well as what you can do to end the cycle of bullying, but this is a great place to start. Much more to come!
12-19-2010 07:14 PM
12-19-2010 07:17 PM
From Megan's Blog:
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2010
Remembering Phoebe Prince
This story just breaks my heart.
In fact, it makes me sick.
A fifteen year old girl from Ireland, Phoebe Prince, moved to my state of Massachusetts and was relentlessly bullied, picked on, verbally abused, harassed and degraded on a daily basis. She believed that her only option was to end her life; that it was her only escape. No one stood up for her. Not even the teachers.
On January 14th, 2010 she hanged herself in her bedroom closet, after a particularly brutal day of being tormented by her abusers.
When I wrote my books, I had to really dig deep and combine the worst of everyone I've ever known to make my *mean girl* characters. I needed to make Kate Endicott so despicable, that no one could ever possibly like or identify with her. What frightens and angers me is that there are real people out there worse than Kate Endicott; worse than my most evil fictional character. Truth really is scarier than fiction.
I am angry for Phoebe. I blame the teens who bullied her. I blame the parents of the bullies. I blame the educators who knew what was going on and turned a blind eye.
How can we, as a society, let this happen? How can we let people harass each other to the point where they feel there is no other option but to end their own lives? Why do we glorify celebrities who are mean and vindictive--young women like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton -- who make putting each other down into a sport? Popular reality shows like the Real Housewives, The Hills, and Tinsley Mortimer's new show High Society all highlight women and girls at their very worst. On a weekly basis in top shows (even American Idol!), people are getting verbally trashed, mocked, teased and berated, and we wonder why teens think it's okay to do the same.
We are creating a culture of "mean people." The nastier you are, the more you get noticed. The bigger the bully, the bigger the following.The teen and pre-teen years are difficult enough to get through on their own. But when you add Facebook and blogs and MySpace and IMs and YouTube, you are turning one individual's personal battles into a voyeuristic, masochistic nightmare for the world to see. I remember things that embarrassed me in high school: a catty comment from a group of girls, an unrequited crush, being teased by some teen-aged boys. But then, like most high school "nightmares," they would blow over, like they always had in the past.
Now, kids are forced to relive their worst moments again and again on YouTube or pictures that get IM-ed throughout the Web. The rumors about their sexuality or their embarrassing moments are not just fodder for the local bullies, but now their embarrassment is out there for the world to see and to judge. When I was in high school and college, the good days were exhilarating; the bad days were horrendous. But for most of us, the bad stuff stopped at our front door. We could leave the teasing, the rumors, the cattiness at school and regroup and gather our strength at home. Now the bullying has become relentless. With Facebook and blogs and emails, there is no escape from the harassment. It has become all-encompassing.
If I had a larger platform, I would make the bullies wear the scarlet letters. I think they should be the ones humiliated on a daily basis. I would make it *uncool* to hurt other peoples' feelings and for the popular kids to be popular because they are actually nice. It goes without saying that for the most part, popular kids are often the cruelest. The *in-crowd* is powerful because they rule with fear. It's the same today as it was ten, twenty, fifty years ago. But the difference now is that teens feel like they have nowhere left to turn. We are reminded again and again that things posted to the Internet are out there forever for the world to see. How scary is that? Especially for teenagers who just want to get through their awkward stages and begin living their lives. What if they think that their lives will be forever tainted? What if the bullies know this and feed off of it?
I am going to try to get a group of young adult authors together to make a stand against this type of bullying, so that someone like Phoebe Prince never has to feel that she is alone, ever. So that she or he never has to think that suicide is the only option; the only way to escape the incessant bullying and meanness.
I am posting this essay written by Phoebe Prince that someone forwarded to me, because I think that her words are powerful. Her life was one that was cut too short. She was never given the opportunity to be heard.
“Phoebe’s death on Jan. 14 followed a torturous day for her, in which she was subjected to verbal harassment and threatened physical abuse,” District Attorney Scheibel said.
Yesterday, nine teens were hit with charges in connection with the case.
Mind Over Matter
Where have today’s values gone? Everyone is so preoccupied with their electronic gadgets to appreciate simple moments like the first snow fall of winter or hearing the words I love you for the very first time. We live in an impersonal electronic society, is that what our values have gone to? We no longer appreciate simple conversations now that we have twitter and face-book. Personally I can’t believe that reading an email would have the same effect as speaking with someone face to face, making a moment.
I get into my pink fluffy onesie my feet tingle as they rub off the soft cushioned fabric. I head downstairs into the kitchen. The walls our heath green with various paintings of vegetables. I live in an old country house with a barn door and all the furnishings to boot. My fathers sitting at the dining table reading a thriller type novel as per usual with a half glass full of white wine next to him. The fire is roaring and the smell of hydrangea’s wafts through the air.
I curl up on a chair adjacent from my father making sure to be
cosily tucked in near the fire. He puts down his book and says, “Now what is on
your mind tonight my dear?” From there on we start a heated debate about almost
anything. Our conversations range from sex, drugs and rock and roll to matters
of great importance such as ancient religions, politics and criminal justice.
No subject is off limits with me and my father.
I click in my glossy silver i-pod into my speakers. I turn up the volume full blast, the walls vibrate from the sound of System of a Down screaming out “Chop Suey”. I’m sitting in my room on my mattress (I broke my bed one evening whilst jumping on it). My walls are covered with doodles, posters, lyrics and memories. I have the lyrics to “I love college” by Asher Roth printed on my walls. I start off by listening to some Arctic Monkeys, they always get me in a good mood. My mix soon turns into some darker music. My i-pod reflects me inside throughout. Its my constant companion.
Soon my boyfriend rings me up, “Phoebe c’mon man lets go for a spin, bring your i-pod.” I get into his Civic and he starts driving. The windows are down and the air is blowing through my hair, I plug my i-pod in and the Alex Kidd starts pumping. Alex Kidd is by far my favourite DJ. The words “ecstasy” are throbbing in my ears. Leem starts speeding up we’re going well over sixty miles an hour. We change the music to some Chemical Brothers and The Avalanches. He drops me outside the farm across the road from my house. I now put on “Sandiego Song” by the Coronas.
I value both my i-pod and my nightly conversations with my daddy for both different yet similar reasons. My i-pod is stimulating to my body as I can’t help but move along to the beat, it is also the soundtrack of my life, I have a song for every moment and mood of my day. Without it I would be lost. Its also therapeutic for me I find it easy to relate to the lyrics in music and let them wash away any emotion I’m feeling. As for my nightly conversations with my daddy I treasure them dearly they stimulate my mind to no end, he has increased my knowledge of different dialects, cultures, religions and politics. I learn about the world around me even though I don’t leave my kitchen table.
Both my i-pod and my conversations with my daddy make me think, one with its thoughtful lyrics that I relate to and helps me deal with my own personal problems. My nightly conversations make me think about other people and the world that I’m in. I become more emotionally and intellectually mature through both these activities. Although I still value such items that don’t have such significant effects on me. Sometimes I love just walking around in my favourite heels and feeling like the most confident girl in the world, but mostly I just like sitting back and discussing politics with my dad.
12-19-2010 07:21 PM
Megan Kelley Hall, 36, freelance writer and literary publicist living North of Boston, is currently represented by Elisabeth Weed of Weed Literary in NYC with her first YA novel, SISTERS OF MISERY, published by Kensington in August 2008. THE LOST SISTER was published in August of 2009.
Hall has written for a variety of local and national magazines and publications, including Elle, Glamour, Boston Magazine, Parenting, American Baby, Working Mother, The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and several other publications. She also has an essay about her recent open heart surgery in former CNN anchor Daryn Kagan's anthology, WHAT'S POSSIBLE! (Meredith Books, 2008). Hall contributed a chapter in Ellen Hopkins' anthology, Flirtin' With The Monster. (Benbella Books, 2008).
She studied creative writing at Skidmore College under the Pulitzer-Prize winning author Steven Millhauser. Hall is also writing a non-fiction memoir about her recent open heart surgery, as well as her life as a cancer survivor, her partial vision loss and the premature birth of her very healthy and happy seven-year-old daughter Piper Elizabeth.
When not writing or chasing after her daughter, Piper Elizabeth, Megan spends most of her time promoting her clients as a partner and founder of Kelley & Hall Book Publicity and Promotion, which she opened with her mother, Gloria Kelley, and sister, Jocelyn Maeve Kelley, over a few years ago. The company has has run successful campaigns for authors, including New York Time's best-selling authors Jacquelyn Mitchard, Michael Palmer, Lisa Genova and Brunonia Barry.
12-19-2010 07:24 PM
When sixteen-year-old Pheobe Prince hung herself after months relentless bullying earlier this year, many people were shocked. A lot of us didn’t know what to do. Two young adult authors, Carrie Jones and Megan Kelly Hall, decided to something about it. They started a group called YAAAB:Young Adult Authors Against Bullying on Facebook.
To quote Megan: “The Phoebe Prince case really shocked and horrified me and the reactions from the alleged bullies sickened me. Especially when I read what one of the bullies had posted as her Facebook status right after Phoebe Prince had taken her own life; killed herself because at 15 she reached the point after relentless bullying and harassment that she felt she had no way out. The alleged bully wrote: Mission Accomplished. That just tore my heart out…. This group was created for Young Adult authors and readers to come together and put an end to bullying. Victims of bullying do not need to feel like they are alone. We are creating a platform for your stories. We are creating a safe haven for your concerns. We encourage all YA authors to become a part of this group, so that we can provide updates, mission statements, action items and simple ways to spread the anti-bullying cause.”
I asked Carrie Jones why writers and she said, “By sharing our own stories of being bullied and/or being bullied and living through that it’s going to hopefully be pretty empowering to kids who are dealing with that right now. I’ve gotten some really heart-wrenching emails from kids who read one of my own bullying stories who said it made them feel better to see that I had to go through it too, and that I somehow survived.”At some point they’d foresee an anthology of writers sharing their stories of being bullied or maybe even being bullies themselves. If the first anthology, focusing primarily on young adults is sucessful, then there will be one for middle graders.
I applaud these two writers for starting this group. Their Facebook page, Young Adult Authors Against Bullying, is easy to join and full of great information (open to all, writers or not). It began April 2nd and now boasts almost 3,000 members, most of whom are writers, but many are not. The fact that so many folks have joined tells me these two women have begun something huge.The Facebook group is full of great links to other sites that deal with bullying, folks sharing their stories of being bullied and ways they can make the group’s reach larger.
Apparently, a librarian overheard the harassment that Phoebe endured, and said nothing. One of the aims of the group is have all people who interact with teens to be trained in listening for signs of bullying and to know what to do about it. I do think if every adult who saw or overheard an instance of bullying and did something to stop it, then maybe our kids would feel safer and not go to such final extremes to make it stop.
Carrie thought bookstores would be a natural place to help spread the word. “One of the things we’re hoping to do is to create a bully-free zone sticker/sign so that teachers and businesses can post it or wear it and let kids know that they are there to listen, support, not judge, and help, or simply provide a safe place to breathe when bullying is happening. Bookstores could be great bully-free zones.”
I am grateful to Carrie and Megan for starting this group. As a bookstore owner, I love the resources available to me on their Facebook site. If I have a customer, parent or child, who is facing a bullying issue, I will happily send them there. The book list is particularly useful as it lists titles that have bullying has a central theme.
Sadly, bullying, whether in person or in cyberspace, has become a large and dangerous part of our society. Carrie Jones and Megan Kelly Hall have decided to take a stand and help those who have lost their voice. I applaud them and look forward to helping them realize their vision to create a bully-free world.
12-19-2010 07:25 PM
Sisters of Misery
By Megan Kelley Hall
Copyright © 2008 Megan Kelley Hall
All right reserved.
Chapter One JERA
Anticipation and Excitement Before aMajor Turning Point in Life
"Isn't that girl up yet? Today, of all days, she decides to sleep in. I don't care if it's summer vacation. She needs a good dose of work ethic, or else she's going to be a bum just like her father."
Maddie could hear her mother's muffled words as she ranted and stormed around the kitchen. Her nightmares were getting worse and more detailed; she'd been waking up more exhausted than when she went to sleep the night before. Ever since Madeline Crane learned that her cousin would be moving in with them, Cordelia LeClaire had appeared in her dreams again and again.
After showering and drying her hair, she padded down the uneven staircase to the kitchen. Her grandmother, Tess, was clad in a faded bathrobe, and was in a high state of amusement watching Maddie's mother.
"Good afternoon, Madeline. So glad you could make it up in time for lunch," Abigail Crane scolded without turning to look at her daughter. She continued to swipe the impeccably clean counter even though breakfast had long since been cleaned up. Maddie rolled her eyes, but Tess winked and patted the chair next to her, motioning for Maddie to join her at the kitchen table.
"Mom, it's only ten o'clock, and it's going to be a long day," Maddie said, sighing heavily and trying not to laugh as Tess rubbed herfingers together in a tsk-tsk gesture.
"Well, let's get one thing straight," Abigail continued her tirade. "Breakfast always has been and always will be at eight AM sharp. There are some things that I refuse to let slide around here. If you miss it, then you have to fend for yourself. I don't need to deal with any more aggravation than I already have. Understood?"
Maddie's mother hadn't adjusted well to the news that her flighty older sister Rebecca was moving back to Hawthorne and would be living with them at Ten Mariner's Way. The grand old Victorian belonged to Tess, and Maddie and Abigail were technically guests, though they'd lived there for most of Maddie's life. So when Tess gave word that Rebecca and her daughter, Cordelia, were moving in, Abigail didn't have a say in the matter, something that she apparently wasn't handling very well.
Maddie imagined that this was what it would be like to have Martha Stewart as a mother-living with someone with an unyielding desire for perfection and control.
And with that, Abigail stormed out of the kitchen, leaving Maddie and Tess looking sheepishly at each other like two bad little girls getting scolded by their teacher.
Maddie cringed, knowing that her mother's mood was only going to get worse once Cordelia and Rebecca arrived later that day. While Maddie typically dreaded field hockey practice on the hot, sticky days of August, it was a great excuse to get away from the house and all the last minute preparations for their relatives.
Maddie gathered her things and got ready to head down to the field for practice. She bent over to give her grandmother a kiss on the cheek and whispered, "Are you going to be okay with her today?"
"Humph," Tess snorted, fighting a smile that tugged at the sides of her mouth. "I've tackled bigger battles than this in my day."
* * *
Preseason field hockey practices were always tough, but this one seemed especially brutal. Kate Endicott had naturally been chosen team captain of Hawthorne Academy's junior varsity squad, and she was determined to beat the school's varsity team in an upcoming scrimmage. Maddie jogged down to meet the girls and waved excitedly to her best friends Hannah, Darcy, Bridget, and, of course, Kate. Maddie didn't remember actually choosing these girls as friends; they were just part of the fabric that had made up her everyday life for as long as she could remember.
Growing up, Abigail Crane had made certain Maddie's social calendar was filled with every opportunity that she felt she had been denied as a girl. Horseback riding with Darcy Willett, ballet and piano lessons with Bridget Monroe, tennis tournaments with the Endicotts, and golf outings with Hannah Sanders-if there was a lesson to be taken or a social opportunity to attend, Abigail made sure that Maddie was there. But what her mother didn't realize was that there was a darker side to their friendship. Things that they did together that bonded them as "sisters" as well as friends. Bonds that could never be broken without paying the consequences.
"Get out there, Crane," Bronwyn Maxwell called. She was also a Hawthorne Academy alum and a recent college graduate. Bronwyn was the all-time field hockey champion of Hawthorne Academy, and the school had offered her the chance to lead their teams to victory once again, this time as a coach. Hawthorne Academy always took good care of its own.
Maddie pulled on her cleats, the sweat already dripping down her back. She would be completely spent later on that day when her relatives were scheduled to move in.
Ugh, she sighed, exhausted by just thinking about it. After running a couple of warm-up laps, Maddie collapsed onto the fresh-mown grass, feeling the prickles of the blades against her steaming skin.
"Crane, you loser, get up." Kate laughed as she dropped down next to her. She stretched her toned legs out in front of her and arched her back like a cat, allowing her long, honey-blond hair to graze the ground. She looked seductively over her shoulder, knowing she had the boys on the Hawthorne soccer team practicing on the next field as an audience. "Oh, I see, you're checking out the lawn boy. He's pretty cute for a townie."
Maddie looked up to see a dark-haired guy riding a lawn mower on the other side of the field. His shirt was off, revealing a deep tan and sinewy muscles. Maddie hadn't even noticed him, but he seemed to be watching them intently. "Maddie and the lawn boy sittin' in a tree ..." Kate sang, giggling.
"Not today, Kate," Maddie warned, hoping to fend off Kate's usual bitchy remarks. She'd grown accustomed to Kate's taunts and teasing-even expected them as part of her daily ritual-but for some reason, she knew she couldn't handle them today. Not with the craziness going on in her own house. Today, of all days, she just couldn't deal.
"What's the matter, Maddie? Feeling a little hungover? Didn't you have fun at my party?" Kate asked innocently.
Just then Hannah, Bridget, and Darcy jogged over. "I was just asking Maddie if she liked the party last night. Did you girls have fun?"
They all giggled. Something was up.
The party was just like all the others Kate threw. Drunken guys in baseball caps, girls in overpriced outfits, tons of beer and alcohol, and the inevitable "get thrown into the pool fully dressed." Then everyone would either skinny-dip in the ocean or get more wasted in the hot tub. It was like there was an unwritten script that every Endicott party had to adhere to.
"Kate had fun."
"Lots of it."
More giggles and hushed laughter.
Bronwyn saw them sitting down and blew her whistle. "Get up, you lazy bitches. I need to see some hustle out there."
Maddie grabbed hold of Kate's wrist before they headed back down to the field for dribble practices. "What happened last night?"
"Trevor and I finally did it," Kate said, smiling as if she had really expected Maddie to believe that she hadn't lost her virginity long ago. Maddie clearly remembered the night it happened. It was one of those parties at Fort Glover where the older guys ended up preying on the "new blood." Kate got so wasted that she gave it up to her older sister Carly's boyfriend on the dirt floor of the old fort. Maddie remembered warning her not to go off with Carly Endicott's boyfriend that night, but Kate hissed that she knew what she was doing and that she could take care of herself. "I guess you can say I'm no longer part of The V Club."
Maddie rolled her eyes. Honestly, the V Club? Kate had always acted as if she was the most worldly and the oldest of the group. Back when they were all first initiated into the Sisters of Misery, a select group of girls from Hawthorne Academy, Kate was so anxious to please the older "sisters" that she would do anything to be accepted as one of them. There was never a question that Kate would be part of the clique. Her older sister Carly made sure she was inducted into the not-so-secret society of girls who were known to have the best parties, date the cutest boys, and hold secret meetings out on Misery Island. Maddie wasn't sure how far back their group had begun and it wasn't something she would ever question. Like the monstrous Ravenswood Asylum at the center of town, it was something that was always there, bigger and more powerful than any of them. But once inside, you never got out.
Kate, not wanting to be the only girl her age in the group (and the sole target of the older girls' taunts), brought Maddie and her other friends into the mix. This pleased Abigail to no end, but Tess grew more and more concerned every time Maddie took off with her group of friends. Even though she'd had playdates with the girls since grade school, taking ballet lessons, sailing courses, anything and everything that Abigail could sign Maddie up for, she still felt like an outsider. It was as if she didn't really "know" them, and they would never understand her. Maddie just assumed that's how all friendships were-on the surface and for show.
"So Trevor's not with Nicole anymore?" Maddie had heard that Kate's on-again, off-again boyfriend had been hooking up with another girl in their grade recently. Kate obviously felt she needed to get the upper hand and win Trevor back by sleeping with him.
Kate looked out at the field, smirking as Nicole ran up and down the field, going through the rigorous drills. "Like he was ever serious with that fat ass?"
Nicole looked as though she'd been crying, her eyes red and puffy. But it wasn't enough for Kate to take her boyfriend. Nicole's red and puffy eyes had a matching puffy lip by the end of the practice after Kate "accidentally" smashed into her head-on. It was just par for the course for Kate Endicott. No one ever got in her way.
Chapter Two GEBO
Partnerships, Relationships, and Unions Are ReachedThrough Sacrifice and Balance
After a particularly grueling field hockey practice, Maddie was dead tired. Her coltish legs felt like rubber, and her long brown hair was sticking to the back of her neck and the sides of her face. The humidity was almost too much to bear as she trudged toward home, but she could always count on the extraordinarily icy Victorian to cool her down once she passed through the front door.
When Tess had informed them a few weeks earlier about her plans for Rebecca and Cordelia's arrival from the West Coast, it didn't seem set in stone. Rebecca was known for planning a return visit to Hawthorne, only to end up in some distant, exotic location. But this time, it seemed like the real deal. They were, without question, moving to Hawthorne, and Abigail was, in Tess's words, fit to be tied.
"Mark my words, we are not going to let them spoil everything I have worked for," Abigail hissed when she first learned of their homecoming. From the beginning, she was dead set against the return of her sister.
Maddie, however, was ecstatic. She had grown up hearing stories-ones that had almost a fairytale-like appeal-about the eccentric and willful Aunt Rebecca who fell in love with Simon LeClaire, an ornithologist (Abigail always referred to him as "the crazy bird guy") who had come through Hawthorne conducting research on the migrating pattern of brown-speckled sandpipers. Abigail always said it was one of the happiest days of her life when her newly pregnant sister and her boyfriend had taken off for the West Coast in search of a warmer climate and the endangered Snowy Plover. Maddie, on the other hand, always wished that Rebecca would return with her daughter Cordelia. It would have been like growing up with a sister, despite her mother's insistence that Sisterhood was highly overrated.
It wasn't until a few months after Uncle Simon's death that they learned of Rebecca's plans to come home. Abigail used every opportunity to show Tess how small the house was, how expensive it would be to have two more people in the house, how difficult it would be for Rebecca to readjust to life in Hawthorne after so many years away. But Tess wouldn't have it. They were as welcome in her home as Maddie and Abigail were, and she never failed to remind Abigail whose house Ten Mariner's Way really was.
Tess had brought Maddie and Abigail in after Malcolm Crane deserted them and they had nowhere else to go. Abigail used to run around behind him, picking up the evidence of his destructive outbursts, formulating excuses for the noise if the neighbors dared to mention the commotion the next day. But no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn't put the broken pieces of the family back together again. Now Malcolm existed only as a drunken, bullish figure in the recesses of Maddie's early childhood memories.
"It's a good thing that he took off when he did," Tess often replied when Maddie asked about her deadbeat dad. "If he ever pulled any of that nonsense with you that he pulled with your mother, he'd be six feet under by now." Maddie loved hearing her frail grandmother talk about how she'd protect Maddie against the big brute of a father who had left them long ago. Abigail, on the other hand, was only concerned about town gossip. She kept their dire financial situation a secret, guarded it like a sore. Coming from a wealthy seaport town on Boston's North Shore and having a prestigious last name like Crane, they had everyone fooled. Abigail made sure of that.
* * *
Despite the aloof coolness Maddie tried to maintain around her friends-Kate especially-she could barely contain her excitement about the arrival of Rebecca and Cordelia. As Maddie approached the house, Abigail came outside in a huff, her thin brown hair swept tightly into a severe bun, her long face pulled into its usual grimace. Tess stood next to Abigail her face, in stark contrast, brimming with excitement.
"So, are they here yet?" Maddie asked her mother.
Abigail's body visibly stiffened. The blades of her shoulders twitched beneath her Talbots linen tank dress. She stood erect, spine perfectly straight, head held high.
"Just get inside already," Abigail Crane said in an exasperated tone. "Our guestshave already arrived." Abigail was obviously hoping their stay wouldn't be permanent, and from the stories Maddie had heard about Rebecca, she didn't seem to stay rooted in one place for too long. But Maddie had a feeling this time would be different, and she hoped her premonitions were true.
Maddie moved past her mother and threw her arms around her grandmother's frail body. "Hi, Grams. So they're really here? Can you believe it? Are you excited?"
"You have no idea," Tess said brightly. The wrinkles in her face deepened as she smiled widely. She was so tiny, fragile like the porcelain dolls Maddie's mother had given her as a child. Maddie could look at them but was never allowed to touch. "All my girls back together again. It's simply magical!"
"Don't get too comfortable," Abigail warned, ignoring her mother. "Remember, we're going to the Hamilton's for a cookout, and I'd like you to look presentable." She eyed her daughter up and down, silently appraising her appearance, and then added, "Well, the best that you're capable of. Don't worry. We're not bringingthem."
Maddie followed her mother's gaze up to the guest room window of the old Victorian and caught a glimpse of a pale girl's face peering out the window. The moment they made eye contact, the red-haired girl vanished from the window, leaving the curtains fluttering.
Tess nodded toward the house. "Rebecca is getting ready for the farmer's market since we're going to be fending for ourselves for dinner tonight," she said. "Cordelia's upstairs in the guest room. It will be a nice change for you to get to know some real folk, not just those uppity girls your mother's always forcing on you." Maddie's mother threw her hands up in the air and stormed inside.
Excerpted from Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelley Hall Copyright © 2008by Megan Kelley Hall.Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
12-19-2010 07:26 PM
The Lost Sister
By Megan Kelley Hall
Copyright © 2009 Megan Kelley Hall
All right reserved.
The card signals great transformation, renewal, change, rebirth, resurrection, making a final decision. You cannot hide any longer, face what you have to face, make that decision. Change. Time to summon the past, forgive it, and let it go, begin to heal.
If it weren't for the little baby boy with the Coke-bottle glasses, I would have killed my father by now. The poison would be seeping into his veins effortlessly with every sip of the herbal tea concoction that I made especially for him. But the moment I saw that little boy, my stepbrother ... half brother ... whatever-I couldn't do it. It's not because I want Malcolm Crane to live, not after what he's done to me and the lives of all the women in my family, but because he has another life dependent on him: the life of an innocent little boy. And so, for that reason, I'll let him live.
No one knows me here. Even those I've left behind in Hawthorne couldn't recognize me now. Besides, no one would ever think to look for me up in the boondocks of Maine. My hair, once a brilliant shade of red, my most striking feature, has been dulled to a mousy brown,courtesy of a sable-brown henna.
I often wonder if anyone has even noticed that I'm gone, not that I really care. Everyone I trusted, everyone I loved has lied to me or let me down. I've always felt like I was on my own. Now I know that to be true.
All I know is that I have to get back home to California where I belong, and find some way to make it back there by myself. But first things first. Someone needs to be taught a lesson. And I'm not leaving until everything-and everyone-has been taken care of.
"One cup of passion fruit-lime green tea," Cordelia said softly to the man behind the newspaper. She poured the tea carefully, watching the leaves swirl in the bottom of the cup. Rebecca had taught her to read the messages in the leaves, not only once the cup was finished, but also as they swirled into the delicate teacup. She tried not to read the warning in the leaves. Once you knew where to look for certain signs, it was hard not to see them in everything. And she could read this message as clear as day: Kill him.
She looked at the little boy sitting across from his father. He peered up at her face, which was half hidden behind her long sheath of brown hair. She winked at him, causing him to erupt into giggles. He couldn't be more than three or four. Cordelia wondered where his mother was, who his mother was. What would become of this little boy if she went ahead with her plan: to pay Malcolm Crane back for all of his wrongdoings? For deserting Maddie and Abigail, for impregnating her mother and never taking responsibility for any of his children back in Hawthorne, Massachusetts, and then simply running off to Maine to start all over again. Cordelia wondered if he would desert this little boy as well. Maybe she would be doing him a favor by stopping Malcolm Crane-the father she'd only known of for a very short time-from hurting anyone ever again.
"And for the little man?" she asked quietly. She waited for a glance from the man she now knew to be her father. The man that up until only a few minutes ago she had planned on killing in cold blood.
After leaving Hawthorne, she quickly made her way up to Maine where she knew that Malcolm had been living for more than a decade. Once she found him-which wasn't the hardest thing to do, since he was known for being not only the town drunk, but also one of the professors in the tiny community college-she shadowed his every move. She knew about all of the girls that he was sleeping with-students, assistant professors, barmaids. This was something that she was able to figure out very quickly. She crept into the back of his lectures, studying the man that was her biological father.
She noticed some similarities in their appearance. Although everyone always said that she was an exact replica of her mother-the fair, porcelain skin, the copper hair, the delicate features-she detected some traits that she inherited from her father. The husky, butterscotch voice, the intense, lavender-blue eyes, the lean, athletic build. These were all things that she-as well as many of the dreamy-eyed girls in his classroom-noticed right away. The only two places that he frequented besides his lecture halls and his home were the town pub and the coffee and tea shop across from the college.
She had watched Malcolm Crane in between his classes. She'd managed to get a job at the Maine Tea and Coffee Bean-the only place he frequented during the week-and served him almost daily, but he never showed any sign of recognition. He was flirtatious and friendly, but it was all on the surface. She truly believed that if there was anything good in him, he would recognize his own daughter. But then, sadly, he probably wouldn't even recognize Maddie and he had watched his little girl grow up and knew her to be his own. But even that didn't give him reason enough to stick around in Hawthorne, to stay with his wife and young daughter.
Everything that Cordelia had done up until this point had been meticulously planned. She had taken the rat poison from the storage room-there were so many boxes, she was sure that no one would miss it. By the time anyone realized that Malcolm Crane had been murdered, she would be long gone. They didn't even know her real name. Over the past few months, she'd made sure not to leave a mark. She lived like a ghost among mortals. She felt like she had died that night out on Misery Island and could only be brought back to life once she'd exacted her revenge. And the first one on her list was Malcolm Crane. But then this little boy had to come along and change everything.
"Danny, you heard the lady, did you want something to drink?" The little boy looked up and smiled at her and the toothy grin broke her heart.
"Milk, please," he lisped.
"Sure, right ... milk," she stammered, backing away from the counter, feeling the rat poison burning in her apron pocket. She couldn't do it. Not with this little boy. No matter how much she blamed Malcolm Crane for everything that had gone wrong in her life up until this point-the lies from Rebecca, the return to Hawthorne, even the death of the man she believed to be her real father up until a few months ago, even though deep down she knew he had nothing to do with Simon LeClaire's death-she couldn't make this little boy, Daniel Crane, go through the pain of losing a parent. It was still too real and raw for her-too hard for someone her own age to deal with, let alone a little boy.
She backed up into another table and practically knocked over another waitress. "Hey, watch it, CeeCee." Cordelia steadied herself and turned to apologize to her coworker. She'd gone by CeeCee, a nickname given to her by the man she grew up thinking to be her father-the man that up until his untimely death from cancer was her true father. The man who cared for her as if she were his own flesh and blood, and who, a few horrible months ago, she discovered was not her real father. Her biological father was this man sitting in front of her. This waste of a human being. This horrible, selfish narcissist. He finally looked up at her. After months of her serving him his morning coffee and his afternoon tea, he actually made eye contact with her.
"Are you all right, darlin'?" A look of concern crossed Malcolm Crane's face, the lines around his eyebrows deepened. Despite his weather-beaten face, she could see why some girls in his classes hung on his every word and the waitresses at Maine Tea and Coffee Bean cooed about him looking like Robert Redford. Yet instead of the lusty feelings that his gaze seemed to evoke with everyone around her, she only felt nausea.
"I'm fine," she clipped. "I'll be back with the milk for your son."
He winked, rolled his newspaper up, and lightly bonked the little boy's head. "Say thank you to the pretty lady, Daniel."
"Thanks, pretty lady," the little boy whispered, and then giggled.
Cordelia knew in her heart that she couldn't go through with it. She couldn't take away this little boy's father. But that didn't mean she couldn't stick around long enough to make Malcolm Crane wish he was dead.
From behind the Formica counter, she saw a look of concern wash over Malcolm Crane's face. He scrunched up his forehead and peered more closely at the newspaper. Then he sat back and stared straight ahead for a few moments, looking as though he were very far away, while little Daniel busily colored the paper place mat with the café's crayons. Cordelia walked hesitantly back to the table, curious of what had caused this sudden shift in his mood. She placed the plastic cup in front of the young boy and tried to see what paper Malcolm had been reading.
It was the Hawthorne Gazette. Odd that he was still receiving news from home all the way up here in the boondocks. She prayed that it wasn't another article about her disappearance. By now she had managed to avoid the second glances and the quick looks of recognition, people trying to place her face, knowing that she looked familiar, but not quite sure from where. When she first left Hawthorne, she had chopped what was left of her hair and dyed it brown so that she could slip away easily. Redheads often commanded more attention than brunettes. But she couldn't change her features. People often called her beautiful, ethereal, even exquisite. She wondered how they'd describe her after she'd become a murderer.
Cordelia watched as Malcolm gathered up his son and left the coffee shop in a hurry. She rushed over to the empty table and grabbed the newspaper that was left behind in haste. Her eyes flicked down the page and a jolt of shock went through her body. There was an article about an ongoing fight between the Endicott family and the historical society of Hawthorne. Other neighboring towns of Salem, Marblehead, Beverly, and Swampscott were weighing in on the historical importance of the building. But that wasn't what caught Cordelia's attention. The article was written about all of the tragedies that occurred at Ravenswood Asylum throughout the years, especially the most recent one that took place only months ago.
Cordelia's fingers trembled as she read the story entitled "Bloody Night at Ravenswood Remembered." She skimmed the story, picking out the most disturbing phrases.
Rebecca LeClaire, one of the last inmates before the closing of the asylum, apprehended after apparent suicide attempt ... Witnesses at the site were sister, Abigail Crane, niece, Maddie Crane, and local teen Finnegan O'Malley. Tess Martin, 82, passed away in her sleep that same night, unaware of the tragedy that had overtaken her family.
Cordelia inhaled deeply as she continued reading about what had happened in the wake of her disappearance. Since that night, there had been an ongoing fight over the property-how the Endicotts wanted to turn it into a luxury resort, capitalizing on the fright factor of its proximity to Salem, Massachusetts, and the witch trials, as well as all of the tragic legends that surround the place. The historical society had tied up any future projects with enough red tape until they could declare it a historic property.
Cordelia was hit by a wave of vertigo. The world spun around her, almost knocking her from her feet.
I have to go back, she thought. Something she thought she would never do.
"Easy there, CeeCee. Take a load off. You look like you're going to be sick." Her manager, Chris Markson, had come up behind her and noticed the color drained from her face. "Sit down, I'll get you some water."
Cordelia was used to getting this attention from the guys in her life. She knew that the girls were probably in the back gossiping about how she was being a drama queen and how unfair it was that she got a break in the middle of her shift. But Cordelia didn't care. All she could think about was what her family had gone through-all of the pain that she had brought upon them by running away-and all that she had missed while she was gone. How long had it been? How many months had she made them suffer in her absence? Could it really be almost a year? A year of hiding her past, her true identity, her intentions. Keeping everyone at an arm's length, not letting anyone in and trying desperately not to think of all the people she'd left behind.
In her attempt at starting a new life and seeking vengeance on the one person who, in her mind, was responsible for destroying all of their lives, she had done even more damage by leaving than she could ever have thought possible.
In her attempt to cut herself off from everyone and everything in Hawthorne and create this new life, she never realized all of the destruction she caused in her wake. Why would she do that to herself and her family?
"Water?" the voice called out. And then again, "Water?"
Cordelia looked up and saw her coworker holding a glass of water in front of her.
"Yes, water," Cordelia said in a daze, remembering the ritual hazing events that took place on Misery Island-Fire, Water, Air, and Earth-the degrading and painful events that forced her to leave it all behind. The pain and humiliation she endured. The betrayal. The lies.
"Thank you, Chris," she said, taking the glass from his hand, ignoring his perplexed expression.
As she gulped down the water, she allowed herself to think about what had happened that night. Since she'd moved to Maine, she had managed to put those memories aside, choosing not to think of that night, but instead to channel her anger and energy toward the man she believed was at the root of all of her suffering: Malcolm Crane.
"Uh ... CeeCee?" Chris hesitated. "You need to lie down or something? Do you need a break?" She could hear her female coworkers snickering behind the coffee bar. Cordelia was uncomfortable with this kind of attention. She had managed to fly under the radar for so long, she wasn't about to let anyone get too close to her. Not even a handsome and sweet college student like Chris Markson. When she looked at him and his perfectly sculpted features, all it did was make her miss Finn and his crooked smile even more. She couldn't imagine facing Finn again. For all he knew she had taken off carrying his child. He must hate her for not letting him know if he was a father or not. The truth was that even though she might have been pregnant, she couldn't even be sure that the baby was his. It could just as easily have been Trevor's. A bastard child from a bastard rapist.
"Yeah, I just need some fresh air," she managed. Standing up, she tucked the newspaper under her arm and rushed past him and out into the crisp autumn air. She walked across the street to a bench and sat for a few minutes staring at the paper folded on her lap.
What's happening? Everything was falling into place and then that little boy came out of nowhere, and then this newspaper shows up with the article about Tess and my mother's attempt to kill herself. What have I done? she thought miserably. She knew what Tess and her mother would say, that she should pay attention to these signs, that they were pointing her in a new direction. Maybe killing her father wasn't the answer. Maybe she had unfinished business to deal with in Hawthorne instead. True, she had been betrayed and lied to and hurt and deceived, but her family needed her. Finn and Reed needed her. Rebecca needed her. And Maddie ... she didn't know what she felt about Maddie.
My sister, my cousin? she thought. It didn't matter what relationship they had-Maddie had had the chance to save her when she needed her most, and she didn't. She was too weak and scared. But Cordelia really couldn't blame her. Hawthorne and those girls were all she ever knew. She aimlessly thumbed through the pages until she noticed something fall out of the paper onto her lap.
She looked at the glossy tarot card that had fallen out of the paper. It looked brand-new, right out of the pack. Suddenly she felt like someone had known all along where she was and what she was planning. Someone was trying to scare her by letting her know that there was unfinished business. Someone was out to get her.
A man on a horse marched triumphantly over fallen bodies. He was holding a large black flag. But instead of a face, there was only a skull. And the eyes of the horse were bloodred.
Excerpted from The Lost Sister by Megan Kelley Hall Copyright © 2009 by Megan Kelley Hall. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
12-19-2010 07:30 PM
Jocelyn Kelley has worked for one of the largest publishing houses in the country and has also worked as a book reviewer and marketing consultant. Jocelyn is an established freelance journalist for national magazines like Glamour, Self, and The Writer. A magna cum laude graduate of Emerson College, Jocelyn hosted and produced an Associated Press, award-winning, public affairs radio program.
Gloria Kelley has had an extensive career in business management. She served as president of both an advertising agency and a tradeshow and event design company. She is also an award-winning advertising copywriter. Her involvement in global tradeshows infuses Kelley & Hall with the organization and top management skills needed to oversee our clients’ nationwide publicity campaigns.
Megan Kelley Hall
Megan Kelley Hall has over ten years of experience in public relations. A graduate of Skidmore College, she studied creative writing under Pulitzer Prize winning author, Steven Millhauser. Megan has worked as a freelance writer and has been published in Elle, Glamour, Boston Magazine, American Baby, Parenting, and Working Mother. Megan’s debut novel,Sisters of Misery, was recently published by Kensington Books.
A graduate of Harvard College, Jim Kelley headed creative departments in numerous advertising agencies. He was also creative director of a design company which produced event marketing programs, museum designs, and trade show exhibits. More recently he served as a publisher and editor-in-chief of a small press. His creative work has been profiled in books and magazines.
A journalism graduate of Salem State College, Connor Kelley brings to Kelley & Hall his experience working in independent bookstores, as well as his extensive knowledge of the literary world. Kelley & Hall draws on his ever-growing expertise on trends in the publishing marketplace. Connor also posts book reviews and publishing news in his online literary blog.
12-19-2010 07:32 PM
12-19-2010 07:35 PM
Hi Megan - Thank you so much for spending Christmas week with us! I will be traveling on Monday, so I won't be able to check in until the afternoon. Hopefully you will get a nice welcome from our regulars here!
Wow, I just finished you books a few days ago - they are very dark and scary, but also very relevant with so much about bullying in the news.
We don't feature a lot of young adult books at Mystery, but I think yours have enough "mysterious" aspects to fit our reader's tastes.
Was there anything in particular that led you to tackle this subject?
12-19-2010 09:51 PM
Thanks so much for having me! I'm thrilled to be here this week and I look forward to answering all of your and your readers' questions.
I actually wrote about bullying and "mean girls" a few years ago when I first started writing SISTERS OF MISERY and the follow-up, THE LOST SISTER. Bullying wasn't in the news in the same way that it is today, but I felt it was a timeless topic that needed to be addressed. I wanted to answer the question of what would happen if a modern-day "witch trial" took place amongst high school girls today. I set the story in a small New England town near Salem, MA and I showed what the consequences were when a hazing situation amongst teenage girls went too far.
I drew on situations that I had either seen, experienced or heard about growing up, and I magnified them to make them thriller-worthy. What really frightened and upset me over the past year was hearing about bullying stories in the news that put my "mean girl" actions to shame. Situations like the Phoebe Prince "bullycide" in Western Massachusetts made the actions of my fictional mean girls seem pretty tame. It upset me that real life was scarier than fiction in certain circumstances.
So, despite writing two fictional books about "bullying," I decided that it was time to write a non-fiction book on the topic. This is where the idea for "Dear Bully" (which comes out in Fall 2011 from HarperCollins) was born. I was fortunate enough to have many Young Adult and Children's authors discuss their own personal experiences with bullying in this forthcoming anthology.
12-19-2010 11:47 PM
Hi Megan -
Can you clarify - is DEAR BULLY fiction or non-fiction?
I read your other two books and they were very scary. How would you cast them if they were made into films? (I could totally see that!)
By the way, I hope you can talk Jocelyn into stopping by and telling us about her adventures in Australia. Didn't your mom go on that trip, too? I'm surprised you didn't try to sneak along in a suitcase!
12-20-2010 09:23 AM
How are you doing this lovely Monday morning? Hopefully well
I haven't had a chance to pick up your novels but after reading the synopsis that Becke put on here about them I am excited to pick them up and read them.
Where do your ideas come from?
How long does your process take, from first initial idea to finished product?
Do you have a favorite place you like to write?
Coffee or tea?
What do you do when you have writers block, if you ever have it?
Well I hope these few questions are alright, hopefully I will be able to come up with a few more as the week progresses.
I look forward to hearing from you
12-20-2010 01:02 PM
DEAR BULLY is a non-fiction anthology that I put together with New York Times bestselling author Carrie Jones. We were so lucky for the heartfelt and poignant essays generously contributed by so many amazing authors, including Ellen Hopkins, R.L. Stine, Tonya Hurley, Megan McCafferty, Lisa McMann, Carrie Ryan, Laurie Stolarz, Michelle Zink, Daniel Waters, R.A. Nelson and many, many other incredible writers.
In terms of casting SISTERS OF MISERY and THE LOST SISTER, this may actually be something that might be happening in the not-too-distant future. Both books were optioned for film by award-winning Hollywood Indie director, Allison Anders (director of Gas, Food, Lodging, Mi Vida Loca, Four Rooms, Grace of My Heart and Border Radio).
I actually think I may be on top of things in terms of casting, because very recently I told Allison that I had envisioned Cordelia to look like the actress Kate Mara. Then I discovered that Kate had a younger sister who was also an actress: Rooney Mara. Literally weeks after I sent my suggestion to Allison, Rooney was selected for the coveted role of Lisbeth Salander, the title character in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She's going from a relatively unknown actress to a mega-star over night, so I'm assuming she's going to be busy for the next few years.
In any case, I think that Cordelia has to be this beautiful, ethereal, larger than life character, so I would love it if Taylor Swift would make her acting debut (or debut in a leading role) as Cordelia. She's have to dye her beautiful blond hair red, but maybe she'd consider it? Who knows? On another note, if I could find a role for Johnny Depp in the movie, I'd be a happy girl.
And, finally, yes, I will have Jocelyn stop by to talk about her Australian Adventure with Oprah. My mom and sister were part of the trip, so I convinced my husband and daughter to take a vacation down under as well. Although I didn't get to meet Oprah, Gayle, Bono, Russell Crowe, Keith Urban, Jay-Z and other celebrities on the trip, I still had a wonderful time in a breathtakingly beautiful country.
12-20-2010 01:16 PM
Hi there, Leigh.
Thanks so much for writing in! Thank you for the kind words about my novels. I do hope that you pick them up for a fast-paced, spooky read over the holidays.
To answer your questions:
Ideas come from everywhere. There is no shortage of ideas to choose from. The tricky part is finding something new and fresh and surprising. Something that you can stick with for a book-length manuscript without losing momentum or excitement.
Typically one year is a time frame for writing a book. That said, I've written a book in 2.5 years. And I've written one in six months. It all depends on the story (and the amount of time and energy I have to put into it).
I do a lot of my writing at my computer, but if I'm ever stuck, I always find that writing freehand helps me out of writer's block. Something about the whole pen to paper thing is very freeing.
I also don't write from an outline. This is a dividing line among writers. Some people swear by them, and won't put pen to paper until they have the entire story figured out. I like to be as surprised by the story as my reader, so I often go into it blind. It becomes a sort of jigsaw puzzle for me to put together as I go. Sometimes, it's very frightening because I find myself lost in a story. But eventually everything pulls together and I'm pleased (and often surprised) by the finished product.
And, finally, coffee over tea -- definitely! Mocha lattes are my fave.
12-20-2010 06:07 PM
Hi Megan - sorry for the delay! I arrived in Florida this afternoon but only just got my broadband connection working. It was sunny and in the 50s when we arrived - much better than snow-covered Cincinnati!
Megan, I forgot to mention you can keep track of the view count by looking in the lower left corner of the very first comment box in your introduction.
I didn't realize you went to Australia, too! What fun! I've never been there, but I have a lot of friends there. I love the idea of visiting Down Under, but I'm not sure I could handle a flight that long. Did you find that difficult? How long did you stay?
12-20-2010 06:54 PM
I'm so jealous. I'm writing to you from snow-covered Boston with freezing winds at around 26 degrees. Just last week I was enjoying 26 degrees Celsius weather in Australia (which is about mid-seventies here), and now I've gone to a drastic change down to 26 degrees Fahrenheit. Not fun! I'm quite jealous that you are in warmer weather. Try to send some our way.
Australia is one of the most amazing places I've ever been. And Sydney is hands-down one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The only problem with Sydney is that it takes so long to get there. After my first six hour flight across the country to California, we embarked on the 15 hour flight to Sydney (after a few hours of a lay-over in Los Angeles). That fifteen hour flight is truly brutal. The only way I could ever imagine it being comfortable is by flying business or first class, which is ridiculously expensive. After eight or nine hours into the flight, I became very claustrophobic and panicky. Not a great time to experience those feelings, considering there is no where to go and nothing that can be done.
We left on a Saturday afternoon and arrived in Sydney on Monday morning. Then we stayed for a week and left on a Tuesday, traveled for 28 to 30 hours and landed back in Boston on a Tuesday. It was quite literally the longest day of my life.
Although it was very painful to get there, it was definitely worth it. Australia is absolutely beautiful; the people are some of the nicest, healthiest and most attractive people in the world; the overall vibe of the place is that you should enjoy every aspect of your life. Every day seemed to be a party or a celebration of some sort. I think they told Oprah that they don't live for their work, they work so that they are able to live life to the fullest. What a great way to go through life! With an average of 270 days of beautiful, warm weather a year, I'd say that makes it pretty easy to enjoy and appreciate each and every day.