About Cathy Alter

I’m an author, a contributing editor to Washingtonian magazine, a new mommy, an old cat owner, a frequent lecturer/speaker, a graduate school writing teacher, a reluctant blogger, a horrible texter, and a diehard antiquer. I’ve written a couple of books, which are featured here and here, and even more magazine articles, some of which I’ve posted here. There’s also a compendium of news and links about me; and a calendar listing my upcoming readings and appearances. And a way to contact me, should you have a burning desire.

Cathy Alter’s latest book, Up for Renewal is now available in paperback

Barnes and Noble

What people are saying …
“Hilarious and exhilarating, Up for Renewal is a new-millennium fairy tale masquerading as a memoir of self-improvement. Cathy Alter’s storytelling is so disarming and intimate, her humor so spot-on and her desire to make a change in her life so genuine, that I put down the book feeling like I’d made a new friend.”
—Carolyn Parkhurst, author of The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found

“A funny, wise-crackey, addictively readable coming-of-maturity”
—Cathi Hanauer, author of Sweet Ruin and editor ofThe Bitch in the House.

“Cathy Alter’s Up for Renewal is witty and whimsical. You’ll want to stay with her well-developed voice all the way to the end.”
—Rachel Sontag, author of House Rules

“You know that warm, relaxed, pleasurable feeling you get when cracking open the latest issue of your favorite magazine? That’s what reading Cathy Alter’s ‘Up for Renewal’ is like. Prepare to not only have a great time but also to get truly inspired.”
—Mandy Stadtmiller, “About Last Night” New York Post columnist

“A transformation sensation, witty and soulful.”
—Larry Smith, founder of SMITH Magazine and co-editor of Not Quite What I Was
                Planning: Six-Word Memoirs By Writers Famous & Obscure.

“Up for Renewal is a charming, hilarious book that proves that it is possible to change your life in just one year. Using the improbable guide of women’s magazines, Cathy Alter transforms her relationship, her job, her body, even the color of her living room. She got me laughing out loud, and also vowing to try her recipe for Mexican Chicken Soup.”
—Gretchen Rubin, author of the blog
The Happiness Project,

By age thirty-seven, Cathy Alter had made a mess of her life. With a failed marriage already under her belt, she was continuing down the path of poor decisions, one paved with a steady stream of junk food, unpaid bills, questionable friends, and highly inappropriate men. So she sat down and asked her-self what she truly wanted. A decent guy. A nicer home. More protein. When she took a closer look at her wants, she noticed something that seemed very familiar—with the addition of exclamation points, her list could easily be transformed into the cover lines on every women’s magazine: Find the love you deserve! Paint to the rescue! Eggs-actly perfect meals!
So Cathy gave over her life to the glossies for the next twelve months, resolving to follow their advice without question. By the end of her subscriptions, she would get rid of upper-arm jiggle, crawl out of debt, host the perfect dinner party, run a mile without puking, engage in better bathtub booty, ask for a raise, and rehaul her apartment.

Well, at least that was the premise of her social experiment. What actually happened was much less about cosmetic change and much more about internal transformation. Singular in its voice and yet completely universal, Up for Renewal will appeal to all who have ever wondered if they could actually make their life over.