Monthly Archives: August 2006

Podcast Up!/Nice Reviews/Existential Questions

Some fun stuff today…

I taped a podcast for HarperCollins’ Sweet & Sassy Summer Girls of Fiction Podcast, and it is now up on the HarperTeen site here. Scroll down to Episode 11, which is my podcast. I talk about thrift-store shopping and more! I was nursing a cold while I taped it, so my voice I think sounds a little hoarse, and I think I ramble on too much because of all the Sudafed I was taking.

Recently I found out Blue Bloods has been nominated for an ALA Quick Pick For Reluctant Readers! The Au Pairs was a 2004 Quick Pick, and Skinny-Dipping and Fresh off the Boat were both 2005 Quick Pick Nominees. It’s an honor just to be nominated (natch) and it’s so fun to see Blue Bloods on the list!

There’s a nice review of Blue Bloods here along with Jennifer Barnes’ Golden and Cara Lockwood’s Wuthering Heights, both excellent books!

Here’s also a nice review of Mistletoe that I found on a YA blog.

And here’s something I found tres amusing–this disgruntled reader thinks I don’t even exist! “Melissa de la Cruz, the supposed author of The Au Pairs, which furthers my theory that these books are cranked out by recent college grads in a Hoboken sweatshop, the authors names made by snootynamegenerator.com.”

First off, I love that I have a snooty name! 🙂 Because I once asked my dad where our name came from and he said when the Spaniards came to colonize the Philippines, they posted names on a tree, and the Filipinos had to pick one (because we didn’t have last names in our native culture). And our ancestor picked “de la Cruz” so in a sense, it’s not a real name. But it is MY real name. And I do have Spanish blood–on my mom’s family’s side were wealthy Spaniards (the snooty Reyes family).

What’s funny is that if I don’t exist, then who wrote all those incendiary essays for the New York Press? Or those sex articles in Marie Claire? Or published her dad’s emails on McSweeney’s? I’ve been a published writer for a decade, and my career can be traced via Google at any time. I’ve only been writing YA books for the last three years, but I certainly didn’t come out of nowhere.

And alas, all the books written under my name ARE all mine, the deadlines are mine, the advances are in my checking account, and any praise or blame, falls on me, not some poor annonymous college grads… Hilarious. You’ve got a have a sense of humor when you are somewhat in the public eye. (And I’m so glad that as authors, they don’t post pics of us dropping or gaining weight on the cover of tabloids!)

xoxo
Mel

US Weekly Celebs, Little Luxuries, Lunch Joy, Angels Cover News

US WEEKLY CELEBS SIGHTING!

Mike and I were waiting for a table at La Conversation, on Doheny, a really cute little French cafe on the border of WeHo and BevHills, for brunch this morning, when a black Escalade pulls up, and two teeny-tiny girls alight from it: Nicole Richie, looking tan, blonde and MUCH prettier than those scary anorexic pics in the tabloids (and yes, thin, but not scary thin like that bikini shot in Star. She’s just really tiny), wearing a loose white and blue peasant blouse, huge sunglasses, denim cutoffs, and holding a black Balenciaga motorcycle bag.

She was with Mischa Barton, who was wearing a pink and orange Pucci or Matthew Williamson mini-dress that came up mid-thigh, rocking a cute patchwork Chanel bag, and white sandals. They were both gorgeous and impeccably made-up, although their hair was artfully casual (Mischa’s looked like it was still wet, it was twisted back from her face and then hung in loose curls). They were with Cisco Adler (Mischa’s boyfriend) and Nicole’s new boyfriend, I can’t remember his name, but he’s been pictured with her in Us Weekly.

It was an US Weekly moment come to life! There were paparrazzi across the sidewalk waiting for them to leave the restaurant. Mike and I were seated right behind them, so we even overheard their convo a bit. It was REALLY hard not to stare, they were straight in my line of vision.

They were pretty loud, laughing a lot, kind of high on the attention (and if you’re young and beautiful, why not??) and plotting their ‘escape’ from the restaurant so they would not be harassed by paparazzi. It was fun to see them–they just seemed like a couple of pretty kids who liked to have fun. They were also nice to two little girls who asked for their autographs, and to an older matron who showed them a picture of themselves in some magazine.

SALE NEWS

This morning Mike and I also made our way to the DIVA Cappellini sale, a fabulous Italian brand that carries B&B Italia, Alessi, Cappellini–high-end modern Italian furniture. Our Cappellini couch is one of our most treasured objets and we heard they were doing a MAJOR sale, so of course we got there before it even opened.

We totally scored–we got this fab office chair that’s usually around $800 for $100, a walnut bookshelf ($200 from $2000), walnut side table ($150 from $1100), a small felt bench with chrome legs ($200 from $900), three light fixtures for $90 each (they are $900 at the store) and a fabulous Wenge (dark African wood) coffee table ($450 from $3000).

There was this fabulous oak coffee table that was only $150 but it was SO HUGE we had no idea where to put it. And this one couple who saw it, they were so aghast at the price–they had bought the SAME ONE just last year for about $4000!

The clientele at these design sales is so great for people-watching–hipster couples with their cutely named children “Sienna! Come here!”, architects with their geometric frames, lots of older Europeans–one fabulous woman, she looked German, she had white-blonde hair, a deep tan and was wearing a white eyelet sundress, very low in the cleavage, with gold Prada sandals and a white Lanvin purse with a gold chain. She was probably around 60 and she looked AMAZING! Total Baroness Schraeder.

Overheard at the sale. A couple looking at a Jasper Morrison watering can (very sculptural plastic) The man saying huffily, “I can’t buy it. I already have TWO ridiculous watering cans!” Mike and I totally giggled because, sadly, we also already own TWO ridiculous watering cans. I bought Mike a beautiful Stelton stainless steel watering can for Valentine’s Day last year ($400) and we also own a Philippe Starck watering can. Did I mention that we only own ONE plant? It’s a lemon tree out on the deck.

But isn’t life about little luxuries? The $5 cafe latte? The $20 Chanel lipstick? They said the secret to life is to have little happy things that you look forward to every day. The Taiwanese are apparently very good at this. And we can vouch for this, our Taiwanese friends are very cheerful people, and they look forward to such things as eating a really great dinner (and they ALWAYS know the best places to eat).

My dad is like this also–he’s always looking forward with much joy to the small things in life, like lunch. When my dad first had chemo, the two of us had lunch every day, and there was this Taiwanese dumpling restaurant we ate at EVERY DAY because they had the best pork dumplings. And every day, without fail, we looked forward to this meal–talking about what we would order, and then afterwards, reminiscing about the food! And then the next day we would go back there again.

Pop’s back on chemo for three months, and we’re going to go back to our usual schedule of rotating restaurants that we love…President Thai (the best roast duck salad), Din Tai Fung (the dumpling house), Goldilocks (a Filipino restaurant), yummm… I look forward to it!

What a great day–today I received the book jackets for ANGELS ON SUNSET BOULEVARD, and they are GORGEOUS!!!! It is GOLD FOIL with EMBOSSING on the angel wing tattoo. It’s just so lovely. I can’t stop looking at it. You know how writers always complain about their covers? (And I have had my share of ugly covers–I won’t mention the book, but just know it’s the one with my picture on it! Yikes!!) Well I am SO HONORED with this one. S&S really did such a great job!!!!! THEY ROCK! I wish I could put it up but you won’t be able to see the SPECIAL EFFECTS of the cover until you see it in a bookstore. It comes out February 27!

And that means I should sign off now because I am still rewriting it!

xoxo
Mel

Sad News, Good News, Update on Book Schedule

Hello, I am still here. No, Masquerade is not yet done. But it will be SOON. I can almost TASTE it.

The sad news is that my wonderful editor, Helen Perelman, who has been the book’s biggest cheerleader, fairy godmother and close reader, is leaving Hyperion. WAH! I knew Helen was a kindred spirit from the beginning because her favorite character is the bitchy Mimi. (My theory is that in life, as in Sound of Music, you are either for Maria or the Baroness Schraeder, and I’ve always been a Baroness girl. Hello-a nun?? Not! I love when she tells Captain Von Trapp, “I’ll just go back to my little circle in Vienna, where I belong” letting him know that he is going to MISS OUT on the most glamorous life evah! And hey, the Baroness also has the best couturier in Vienna…that’s gotta count for somethin’! So she doesn’t get the guy. His loss!!)

But the good news is that my new editor, Jennifer Besser, is also wonderful, and that is Jen’s beautiful neck on the cover of Blue Bloods!! Isn’t that great karma? It’s like destiny. I’m looking forward to working with Jen!

I’m also in the midst of rewriting Angels on Sunset Boulevard, so with the vampires and the missing rockstars, I’m really busy. I also want to give a shout-out to my ultra-fabulous editor at S&S, Emily Meehan, who really understood what I was trying to do with this book and has helped me find the essence of the story and hone in on it. What is a writer without her editors?

And on top of that, me and my dear friend Tom Dolby are editing our anthology GIRLS WHO LIKE BOYS WHO LIKE BOYS for the awesome Trena Keating at Dutton. It’s about the friendship, love and lust that exists between gay men and straight women, and we just have some wonderful writers on board – Simon Doonan, Cindy Chupack, Ayelet Waldman, Andrew Solomon, and tons more… Some of the stories will make you laugh, others will make you cry (god I sound sooo cheesy!) but really, this is a GREAT book and Tom and I are so proud of it! It comes out June 2007, just in time for Gay Pride!

I once marched in the Gay Pride parade in New York City with my (now-ex) best friend Morgan (who is gay- and a man- some readers have asked if Morgan is a girl, he is not). We marched with GMHC, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, where we were both volunteers. And it was really fun, marching up and down Fifth Avenue holding up the GMHC sign and chanting “G!M!H!C! Safer Sex for You And Me!” (What is ironic about this is that when we marched, we were about 21 years old and both of us were still virgins at the time. Yes, we were very late bloomers. We were practicing the safest sex possible!)

The best part was when we got booed by the religous right freaks who were protesting the parade. And we chanted back “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho! Your homophobia’s got to go!” It was really thrilling and empowering, because we were SO much louder and stronger than they. And as my mom would say, of course you were louder–you have a REALLY loud voice. Yes, I am the girl in the restaurant with the loud laugh. It sometimes embarasses my husband. But what can I say? I come from a line of loud-mouthed ladies. (My mom is also really loud. I think it is because we are both a little deaf. Whaatt?)

I also just wanted to let my readers (and yes, I know I have been slack with my emails. I’m so sorry – I promise to respond as soon as I meet all my deadlines) know the following, since you guys seem to be most concerned with:

1) Will there be an Au Pairs 4? YES! It will most likely come out in May or June of next year. But I do not know yet what the book will be about, since that’s next in line AFTER I turn in BB2: MASQ and ANGELS and GIRLS WHO LIKE BOYS WLB.

2) When is the sequel to Blue Bloods coming out? Next April. And it is called MASQUERADE. And it is hot, hot, hot. Lots of Sacred Kissing and cute undead boys and intrigue…

And I know I have promised writing tips and all that, I will be updating my website with all the new info as soon as… say it with me, “My deadlines are done”.

Life really goes on hold when you have book deadlines.

The other sad news is that I won’t be able to go to Saint-Tropez this summer like I had planned. This was where I was going to set the first book of my new series SOCIAL LIFE, but with the new schedule of Au Pairs 4 being a reality, S&S and I have decided to push back SOCIAL LIFE for now until 2008. I just can’t handle it all! I wish I could, but with another series debuting next year (THE ASHLEY FILES) which comes out in October 2007, my plate is heaping and full. So Saint-Tropez will have to wait till next summer.

And as my agent says, “Don’t even talk to us about Au Pairs 5!” Although of course, you know, I would love to write it. I can’t seem to get those girls out of my head!

Other good stuff coming down the pike: MISTLETOE which is out in October, and 21 PROMS, out in February. Both are from Scholastic, and I have a story in each book. The one in Mistletoe is fiction, the one in 21 PROMS is the true story of my high school senior prom.

And the other day, Mike and I were at the Barnes & Noble at the Grove, and we found Sun-Kissed face-out in the new teen books section. So cool! The other week, they had NO copies of ANY of my books and I was CONVINCED my career was over. Yes, I take the temperature of my career by how many books B&N stocks. But then we went back a week later, and they had stacks of Skinny-Dipping, Sun-Kissed and Blue Bloods! So I asked the B&N lady how the books were doing and she said they had SOLD OUT of everything the other week and had to ORDER MORE. They were down to the LAST copy of The Au Pairs, even.

Which is what an author who just bought a 4 BR house in the Hollywood Hills likes to hear. (We closed escrow today and get the keys tomorrow- yippee! But don’t even talk to me about moving. I can’t focus on anything till the books are DONE.)

Earlier in my career, re-orders would have been UNHEARD of, I always assumed that my books were not on the shelves because they had been RETURNED. As in, pulped, remaindered, going to that book cemetery in the sky. You really only have about a month to “prove” yourself in the bookstores. If they don’t sell, back to your publisher they go AFTER A MONTH!

But now they are being RE-ORDERED. And really, it is thanks to all you wonderful readers out there, who have turned your friends on to my books, who buy anthing with my name on it, and keep telling me you want more. I aim to please!

I hope you guys like ANGELS ON SUNSET BOULEVARD. It’s a little like Blue Bloods but it also has that upstairs/downstairs quality of The Au Pairs, because the girl is from the wrong side of the tracks and the hot boy is from Bel-Air. There’s a cool mystery in it too…

Anyway, I have babbled on long enough. It’s back for work for me.

xoxo
Mel

Just a Note

Just wanted to put up a quick note to everyone who has emailed me in the past month. I’m really behind in my correspondence, but do not fear, I will answer your email when I FINALLY turn in Blue Bloods 2: Masquerade in the next week or so.

And I know a lot of you have asked for writing tips, and I promise I will put those up (and email you back) when the book is done.

Here is one tip I should have followed.

-Do not put off your deadline so much that your agent and editor become so agitated and you become so stressed out that you dream you have written pages when you wake up and realize, sadly it was just a dream!!!

But never fear, BB2 is looking SO SO HOT, and I am close to the finish line…wish-fulfilment dreams or not!

xoxo
Mel

Chicklit Schmicklit

As an avid reader of Gawker, I was very excited to see the cover of my book FRESH OFF THE BOAT on its homepage. Of course, it was in a “chicklit chart” that Print magazine had put together, showing how all the chicklit books look the same — pink covers, martini glasses, high heels, etc. The title of the Gawker item was “Gloria Steinem would be proud”. Here is the chart.

I guess if I didn’t have a sense of humor, I would be kind of offended…but gladly, I do, and I *love* that Fresh off the Boat’s cover is on Gawker!!! YAY!! It brought a huge grin to my face.

And as for all the chicklit bashing…PSHAWWWW!!!… As Meg Cabot so rightly put it “there isn’t a container in the universe small enough to hold my concern about being called a chicklit writer” (I am paraphrasing here, but you get what she is saying.)

Chicklit, schmicklit. Who cares??? I write books. Media, marketing, publishing, sales…they need CATEGORIES. They need to put us all in boxes. So they LABEL you — “romance writer” “fashion writer” “chicklit writer”. Whatevah. I like to say I write “chic lit” myself.

And I think Gloria Steinem WOULD be proud–we women scribblers (PG Wodehouse in his Jeeves books always writes about “this passel of women scribblers”–but in the books he also points out that they sell like gangbusters and are very practical women–it’s hilarious and I love his depiction of them)–anyway, we women scribblers are writing our way to independence…we make enough money so that we can pay for all our Manolos, our martinis, our four-star vacations… I don’t have to ask my husband to pay for any of my fashion frivolities, because of the money I make from writing my candy-covered books, I can INDULGE in anything I want…

And so what if it is frivolous? We need more frivolity in this world! MORE not LESS!! There’s a sniffy comment on Gawker about how the first chapter of this chicklit book is concerned with answering the question “WHERE ARE MY MANOLOS???”

Is that a bad thing? It actually made me want to read the book! Where ARE my Manolos?? Hee.

My books have been called “guilty pleasures” “shameful indulgences” “total entertainment” “decadent escapism”. I have to say, no one should feel guilty or ashamed to read something that is FUN, LIGHT- HEARTED and ENTERTAINING. I think those are all great qualities in books.

We all live in the real world right? In the real world, not all the boys are hotties, not all your friends are loyal, brave and true, and not everything works out with a happy ending. There’s so much sadness and wretchedness in the world already. Not everyone wears leopard-print Cavalli caftans and four-inch heels to go grocery shopping in. (But everyone SHOULD. It would be a much sunnier world if we all dressed like Mrs. Roper meets Paris Hilton on acid. Hee.)

I live in the real world. Where there’s cancer and illness and sadness and miscarraiges and friends who don’t turn out to be worth the friendship and trust issues and money freakouts and bankruptcy and foreclosures and wars and death and terrorists and all that awful stuff…I was in New York during 9/11 and I cannot sit through the trailer for that stupid Oliver Stone movie without crying (just thinking of it right now makes me tear up)…part of it is anger that he has made a movie about this (I didn’t see United 93 either, I refuse) and part of it is because anytime I see anything about that awful day I remember sitting in my apartment in a fetal position frantically trying to reach my husband who was working downtown (he was fine, he walked thirty blocks and caught a cab with nice British strangers since we lived 100 blocks up) and calling all my friends who lived and worked downtown to make sure they were all OK (they were all OK)…and for six months after that none of us could talk about anything else. We were so scared. Oy. And I remember that winter, an editor at Gotham asking me to do a fun, frothy serial novel for the magazine, because he was convinced what New York needed right then was some good frothy fun, and he was right.

So yes, I know life is not always megafun like an endless summer in the Hamptons nor will I ever need to use my vampire superpowers to bring peace to my immortal people. But oh, isn’t it fun to READ and WRITE about what that would be like?

I think so.

Back to Masquerade! My agent just handed me my ass on a platter since this book is sooo late. So I’ll be keeping vampire hours for the next two weeks as I wrestle this book to the ground and finally turn it in…

xoxo
Mel