Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules!


1. Never give to those people collecting for charity on the street.
Usually, my policy is to ask someone to send me something in the mail so I can read up on it and send in my 22 cents or whatever. I have a knee-jerk reaction against chirpy, clean-cut, Up With People college types who work for fundraising/focus groups stopping me on the NYC streets to ask if I’ve got a minute. Okay, first of all, no. I don’t. That is because I live in NYC and am usually in a rush thanks to the MTA whose slogan should be changed from “THE MTA: Going Your Way!” to “THE MTA: Going Your Way–If Your Way Involves the Most Inconvenient Route Possible with Lots of Track Work and Delays.” Don’t get me started on the F train. I might get a facial tic. But anyway, the fact is they don’t want “a minute of my time.” No, these escapees from a Disney cruise ship want twenty minutes of my time and a credit card. But I must have had a weak moment. Because there in the Au Bon Pain (what was in the veggie soup?) I signed up to take care of a small child who deserves a chance in this life while I’m also teaching his mother to fish because it takes a village to eat not just for a day but forever and isn’t that a good feeling. So now I’m a credit card foster mother, in a sense. By the way, that strange mark on my forehead is actually the word “sucker.” I’ve been rubbing all day but it’s still there.

2. You have to eat a green vegetable at least once a day.
It’s a sound policy that seems to unite red state-blue state moms. And yet, I can tell you that my child has not had a green vegetable all week. Well, he ate something green last night but I think that was probably some mold on the reheated Kraft Mac N Cheese I served. He also had a green apple lollipop. Does that count? Thank god we spent quality time watching “Teen Titans” together, debating the merits of Beast Boy versus Raven. And really, why shouldn’t he grow up just like me, able to recite verbatim whole Calgon commercials. Sigh. Okay, broccoli and books tonight.

3. I will never wear a poncho again.
When I was eight, and macrame was all the rage, my mother, who really should have had a Crafts 12-step program I swear, grew tired of painting my furniture in day glo colors with daisies and weird Holly Hobby creatures on the side who scared me at night. She grew bored with making macrame plant hangers that my brother and I nearly hanged ourselves on if we came tearing into the living room too fast. Her decoupage phase was coming to an end and thankfully because I think I’ve got permanent, lasting brain damage from the fumes coming out of our garage. No, instead she turned her crafty little fingers to fashion. The horror, the horror. Somewhere in a shoebox are pictures of me in rare sartorial splendor: A patriotic, red-white-and-blue dress with matching boots. A to-the-ankle Little House on the Prairie dress complete with apron and–I would not lie to you–bonnet-sized hair ribbon. But the prize among these jewels was the handmade-with-love, or hostility masquerading as love, OLIVE GREEN and TURD BROWN crocheted poncho…with yarn fringe. It’s okay. Give yourself a minute. Breathe. You’re amongst friends. The scary picture will go away in a moment. Oh, who am I kidding–that horrible image is now seared upon your retinas for life!!!! So you can understand my, uh, reluctance to go with the poncho trend. I’d walk through Old Navy and have PTSD flashbacks, writing on the floor by a perfectly modern poncho going, “It burns! It burns!” Wednesday, the curse was lifted. I succumbed in Ann Taylor where I bought a beautiful, fine-gauge black poncho…with silk fringe. I love it. Let the healing begin.

4. I will not babble at strangers.
I have this weird affliction. When I meet new people or people I admire or I’m in a new social situation, I tend to have an unfortunate tendency to babble like a Vegas lounge act in hell. I don’t mean to. It’s just that I get so nervous I feel like I might vomit, cry or fart or all three at once. I’ve been working to curb that, keeping my hands wrapped around my shaking knees while getting out a well-modulated and not at all spastic, “Why, that’s very interesting…” But yesterday, I had a lunch with some Random House people and a buyer from B&N, Joe Monti. Now, I kept hearing how cool Joe is, what a nice guy, etc. So of course, I became A BLITHERING IDIOT. I was like Woody Woodpecker on crack, I swear. Robin Williams would have come over to my table and said, “Hey, you know, you might want to calm down…” At least I didn’t snort when I laughed. Well, more than once. Twice. It didn’t help that I was drinking iced tea like it was the last beverage I’d ever get. Caffeine. Not a great idea in that state. The good news is that Joe was a total sweetie and every bit as great as people said and we bonded over our love of Jonathan Carroll and urban fantasy and he gave me a copy of Holly Black’s newest, VALIANT, which I started reading on the train and all I want to do is hole up and read it straight through. Sooo good. I also got to see my beloved editor, Wendy Loggia, and meet my new publicist, the delightful Kathy Dunn, and meet a new friend, Becky Green. And once I came down from my iced tea-and-nerves buzz, I think I was semi-normal and people stopped moving the cutlery away from me.

5. I can resist eating the entire box of Girl Scout Caramel De-Lites cookies.
No, I can’t.

6. I will never–never, ever, ever own anything recorded by ABBA. We all have our principles.
I don’t know how Dancing Queen ended up on my iPod. I swear. Steve Job pixies came and put it there, I am telling you. Also, Waterloo and S.O.S. It’s a plot for world domination. Safeguard your iPods. Don’t give in. For the love of God, don’t give in! You have been warned.

7. I will never eat pork again.
I sort of ate a BLT the other day. I vowed after seeing Babe that I would lay off the pork products for life. I mean who wants to feel like they are eating some of their favorite literary characters of all time–Babe, Wilbur, Otis, Olivia–with one measly strip? I suppose I could think Orwellian Animal Farm thoughts and not feel guilty but no, I am off the bacon. I must repent. Forgive me, Babe, I know not what I do.

8. I will not use Clorox 2 All Fabric Bleach.
I know. This is my own weird little rule, born of the fact that I hate doing laundry and don’t want to turn it into something I care about. I resent spending time in domestic labor. You can imagine me in my little beret and revolutionary t-shirt, holding laundry by my fingertips and sounding strangely French, “I weeell not enjoy zees BOURGEOIS washing of zee clothes. I spit at domesticity, ptwah!” Meanwhile, my t-shirts look like crap. So I broke down, added a cup of it, and darned if my whole wash didn’t come out looking like new! Now I suppose I will have to invent a French revolutionary character who uses the Clorox 2 because it is a valuable tool in the fight against the establishment. Yeah, I’ll work on that.

9. I do not have time to waste watching cheesy TV movies of the week.
These were, of course, a staple of my youth along with TV dinners and pirated copies of Teenbeat magazine that I only bought to make fun of–do you hear?? Sigh. But now, I am sooooo past all that, doncha know. I could have looked the other way when I saw the ads on NBC touting “Revelations–the end days are here.” Sure, I laughed to myself and thought, yeah, the end days of some genius programming execs less-than-stellar career. So who do you think could have made me reach for the remote to program the show on my DVR? Who do you think could have made me antsy to get my kid to bed early, to lie and tell him it was nearly 9:00 when it was really only 8:15? Who do you think could have guided my hand to play back that unbelievably ridiculous show and watch every single eye rollingly bad second of it? Could it have been….SATAN???? If this show isn’t a sign of the coming Apocalypse, I don’t know what is. Oy vey, Maria.

10. I will not read any more about Britney Spears.
Wow, a craving for fried chicken and hamburgers, huh? I just knew she was pregnant and not telling, that little minx!

I’m off to make new rules to replace the old ones. How about, I Absolutely Will Not Watch the Second Half of Revelations? What? What’s that Satan? No, don’t set the DVR! Please, Evil One, don’t do it….

83 thoughts on “Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules!

  1. Re: wooo you’re cool!

    I’m cool? Even though I once proudly wore a Big Bird t-shirt well into sixth grade? Just saying. Well, thanks. I have no idea what the third one is going to be called. Right now it’s just called “Next.”

  2. yeah, if ONLY you hadn’t killed off all the characters on pg 186 and gone on about their funerals for 400 pages, it might’ve been a good book. *sigh*

    haha OMG I *LOVED IT*! I went to NYC with my dad today and I kept tripping over things because I was trying to read as I walked. That can be very difficult in times square…hehe

    I can now officially inform you that I DO like the second one better than the first! How do you come up with this stuff? You rock my world! And I loved the end. There IS a third one right? Because if there isn’t, I may die.


  3. love the gal, love the site.

    Hey Libba–
    I just googled you with my new updated software and immersed myself in the world that is Libba including this fab website. It was a welcome reprieve from an article I’m writing about historical sights in Southern Wisconsin. (Yee-haw.)

  4. Re: Hello again!

    I believe I have managed to spork it into the Closet of DOOM.

    Well, I believe the problem lies in Nyx wearing her tinkerbell dress in a school that frowns on skirts showing ankles. She, ah, has problems accepting authority…

  5. so im not even trying to resist becoming a stalkery teen groupie blogger (four words that should never be used in the same sentence, let alone STRUNG TOGETHER to form a distressing reality…. ah, the price of fame) when i tell you that man oh man do you rock hard. (jesus christ o mighty, i feel my IQ dropping as i type. at least i’m not using l337…)
    it wasnt so much A Great and Terrible Beauty, which was (dare i make this pun?) terribly great (yeah, i dared. someone, shoot me now and do a service to humanity) as your comments in the back of the book (which i’m gonna refrain from describing, cause the only words suitable lie along the lines of KICKASS and FUCKIN RAD, MAAAAAN) that both cracked me up and made me realize that you are my hero. lucky, lucky you.
    (hey, and you got off easy. i sent david levithan an absolutely insane, neon- color- schemed email with exclamation points between every word, and described him as- i cringe, i cringe- MADCAP and ZANY. barf.)

    point of incoherence: w00t for libba bray! (did i say i wouldnt use any l337? i lied.)

  6. My mother once had to pay me and my sister to eat asparagus. Hope that makes you feel better about the green vegetables.

    Babbling’s not so bad either. I tend to lose all ability to speak when I meet someone for the first time…something you may have noticed. 🙂

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    -Heather Talty

  7. lollipop lollipop…oh…

    Hello again! I kind of disappeared after we had planned that interview ages ago, but, finally, I’m back! (and almost a junior!) Actually, I was wondering, now that Rebel Angels is coming out right before school comes back, if there was anyway we could do an interview then for the paper? Because now I’m an editor and I hold much more power…
    not that I abuse it…
    So, if there’s sometime after your book comes out, what do you think? I promise to actually go through with it this time. Last time, I don’t even know what happened.


    WOW!!! Having just finished reading my lurvely ADVANCE COPY OF REBEL ANGELS (muahahah!!) I must say two things:
    1. YOU SAVED MY LIFE. I was stuck in the most BORING weekend, and if not for your book…well I shudder to think of what might have happened…..
    2. NOOOOO WAYYYYYY!!! IT WAS EVEN BETTER THAN THE FIRST ONE!! And the first one was good….SO THAT IS SAYING SOMETHING. IT ROCKED!!! THE END ROCKED! AND THE MIDDLE ROCKED! And now that I think about it, the beginning rocked too… YOU ROCK! Consider it a job well done…or a book well written….or whatever you want!

    Thank you SO much!!! The worst thing ever is a disappointing sequel, so I’m delighted to tell you that it was nothing of the sort. –Emily

  9. wow… this is weird…

    Its impossible to think this is actually libba bray’s journal and im on it… A Great and Terrible Beauty is the best book ever written by any man or woman on the planet earth. And you are so funny! anyways, better go. ta ta

  10. Ok, I have to be like everyone else and fawn (is that the right kind to use in this context?) over you and your book. 😉 I finished AGATB a while ago and loved it. Now I’m reading it to my mom! I had no idea there was going to be a sequel until I visited the website – what a great surprise! But it makes sense, as the ending of the first one kinda’ requires a sequel. Oh! I have a question: Will Kartik still be a principal characters in the second book? (Please say yes, please say yes!) I love to write, and hope to become an author when I get older. I’ve actually started on my first book – a adventure fantasy/sci-fi novel that is FAR from complete. I have hardly any time to work on it with school and life. Anyways, that’s all I wanted to say. 🙂

  11. I loved your book!

    I adored your book and I can’t wait for the second one. I have a hard time trying to find good interesting books now a days. I was wondering if I could possibly, add a page to my website I am trying to build on the book?


  12. Book Roks

    I just had to come on here and say (even though I’m very likely wasting valuable time) that beauty is my new favorite book, and it gets better with multiple readings. I’ve found you pick up on very interesting details the more and more you read it and analyze it and read the interview in the back and…(This is where you say, “whoa…stalk much, kid?”) Or that could be attributed to my obbsesivness. Irrelevance over.
    You, of course, probably get this all the time. But I had to tell you that the book changed my life and inspired a poem for my english class which, at the time, was due in 12 hours. So thanks for becoming a huge influence on my writing and helping with the A+ on my poetry project. I would continue to sprout irrelevant compliments and go into a full analysis of my thoughts on you kick-butt-take-names book, but I know writers are busy typing and thinking and researching and sometimes spreading mayonaisse or swerving to avoid squirrels. In any case, Peace, Rock On, I can’t wait for the next book.

  13. Re: Book Roks

    Ok, I swear I will totally shut up after this but I have a question:(IF U HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK, CLOSE YOUR EYES AND SCROLL DOWN! SPOLIER AHEAD!)
    The lady of shalott (my new favorite poem) does it reflect pippas life? I mean, with the bier in the end…and…it was just way too perfect. masterful. Ok, done fawning…(lest I drool on the cover of this awesome book.)
    Ok, I’ll stop being one of those eerie little freaks you probably want to cyber-slap and go read Beauty just onnnnnnnne more time. promise. ok…no.

  14. Oooh, stalkery teen groupie blogger. Would you capitalize that? What kind of logo. I like it, I like it.

    And hey, why should that David Levithan have all the fun? Please feel free to S.T.G.B. to your heart’s content. You’re amongst friends.

  15. Re: lollipop lollipop…oh…

    She is drunk with power, I tell you!!!

    I’d be pleased as punch to do that interview whenever. Just post me your email, okie-doke?

  16. Re: I loved your book!

    Hey Joanna, forgive my denseness–when you say add a page to your website, what do you mean exactly? (Sorry. Like I said, I’m the Jessica Simpson of technology.)

  17. Re: I loved your book!

    LOL I Forgive you for being the Jessica Simpson of technology. Finaly someone else agrees with me about Jessica Simpson. YAY! Anyway, I was just thinking about making a small page of, what the book was about, and who the characters where. Maybe add the Lady of Shallott poem on there( Which is one of my favorites.. favorites favorites.. that one and The Highway man. By the way, have you heard the Loreena McKennitt version of the lady of Shallott? if not, I can always try and email it to you I think or you could download it. Its an awsome song. I might also had a craft or two from the Victorian age. Maybe a recipe or two. ( I love the Victorian age and know tons of stuff about it.) The page it self would be linked up to my Wiccan page. I think that is all I was planing on doing to it. If I come up with any other ideas or anything I will let you know.
    Thanks Your fan,

  18. Thinking of your talking about a poncho reminded me of when I was at least 4 or 5. My mom got me a poncho 5 sizes too big and wasnt the kind to return things, she’s the penny pincher, telling me of the story how she got it at a yard sale for 50 cents. Though I was too preoccupied with trying to walk without stepping over it. I just remember whining to my mother about how I’d rather face the rain and get a cold than having my nose leveled out with my face.


    Sorry, but ive gotta say omg!!!!!! LOVE the book, and so do all of my friends. I love ur sense of humor to…..the french thing with the laundry, most hilarious thing i have ever read. I really look forward to more books from you, the candy was worth it-screw the vegetables. My names Vanessa i live in New Jersey, wish you could come to Elizabeth. Once again, love your book, i do think it is better then Harry Potter………….Rock On!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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