Monthly Archives: November 2007

Ashley Li: Pretty or Petty? Or both?

Author’s comment: Here’s another excerpt from THE ASHLEYS. I’m so glad so many of you have emailed me to tell me you’re excited for this book. I’m excited for you to read it!

This book was a hoooot to write and each of the Ashleys and Lauren have a little of me in them. The inspiration for the relationship between Ashley Spencer and Ashley Li comes from my own experience with my best friend.

Jennie and I always used to argue about who was more popular. Her or me? It seemed so IMPORTANT back then that this issue be resolved. And we weren’t even in seventh-grade! We were in college! But girls are always so competitive. Of course, we never really TALKED about this, but it was definitely a part of our lives and our friendship. Who’s prettier? Who’s more popular? Who has a cuter boyfriend, handbag, circle of friends?

It all seems so RIDICULOUS now. Especially since I think Jennie is incredibly beautiful, intelligent and all-around awesome and I know she thinks the same of me. Check out her MySpace page if you don’t believe me. I mean, she STILL looks seventeen. Ugh!

But you do grow up after all. And you know what, so do friendships. When Jennie and I first met, she thought I was a total FOB. As in dorky-Asian-person-who-does-not-even-speak-English. I thought she was a grade-A byatch.

And now I can’t imagine life without the byatch. 🙂

Jennie helped a lot with the Ashleys, sharing all her private all-girls-school memories for me to mine and fictionalize. Thanks Jen! >>


How much longer did she have to wait? Another five minutes? Ten? Fifteen? Her mother would go ballistic if she got slapped with a late notice on the first day of school. Three late notices and you had to face the Honor Board—which was kind of embarrassing especially since she was on the Honor Board.

Ashley Li checked the time on the dangling golden lock of her tan leather Hermes Kelly watch that she wore strapped around her wrist like a lariat. If they weren’t at Miss Gamble’s in five minutes, Miss Moos, the dreaded school secretary with the creepy hair weave and onion-bagel breath would soon be ringing their parents, inquiring in that quavery voice of hers as to why their little girls weren’t in school that morning.

She took a sip from her cardboard coffee cup. Chai soy decaf latte. It tasted like ass but she pretended to like it because Ashley Spencer loved it and the point of being friends with Ashley Spencer, the whole point of being in the Ashleys was that they all liked and did the same thing. They had decided back in fourth grade that the Ashley thing was too confusing and had opted to go by very cute nicknames. All except for Ashley Spencer of course, who somehow retained the right to go by “Ashley.” Oh well, Lili was a much chicer name than Ashley anyway. 

Where was the byatch? It drove her crazy how Ashley never seemed to notice the time.

You’d think the girl would at least try to be on time for the first day of junior high. Lili sighed. She’d have to lie to her mom again to explain the disciplinary note.

Whenever Lili messed up at school, she was sure to feel the wrath of (Nancy) Khan. Her mother, who had kept her maiden name and used to be the highest-paid female partner at Willbanks, Eliot and Dumforth, and before that, Law Review Editor at Harvard Law, was now a full-time SAHM: a Stay-At-Home-Mom—or in her case a Socialite-At-Home-Mom, serving on all the committees and volunteer boards at Miss Gamble’s. She didn’t accept anything less than perfection from her only daughter.

She should just leave. Forget Ashley. Yeah, right. As if she could ever desert her best friend. That was the problem. Ashley could make anything better, more fun and less completely mundane. She thought about the stickers from last year that Ashley had made for them to put on select lockers, which read “The Ashleys: SOA” in script on silver foil. No one but the three of them knew what the letters stood for and it drove the whole class crazy trying to guess. SOA stood for Seal of Approval, which should have been glaringly obvious since only the cute girls in class got the sticker.

Lili gripped her coffee cup tightly, took an agonized sip of the drink and contemplated tossing it in the trash. They’d gotten into trouble for the stickers once the faculty got wind of it, and were chastised since their little prank promoted “clique culture” which was supposedly against school policy. Uh-huh. Good luck with that.

Ashley supposedly had a surprise for them and Lili had no choice but to wait or be left out of the fun. Her other best friend, Ashley Alioto, had found something better to do than wait around for Ashley. A.A. had arrived right on time, just as Lili had, but had disappeared once they’d gotten their orders. Maybe she had decided to ditch Ashley, but most likely she was just on the phone to that “boyfriend”—air quotes definitely intended–of hers again.

Lili yawned and stretched on the wooden chair. She reached behind her to make sure her new Fendi Spy bag was still hanging there. The puffy tote was the same one that Ashley would be carrying and the same one that A.A. had carelessly plopped down on the seat across from hers. They had bought them together a few weeks ago. Lili had angled for the fire-engine red version, but Ashley had convinced her that beige was a more practical color. A.A., of course, had settled for the beige without complaint.

Lili noticed an old Chinese lady smiling at her from across the room. Old Chinese ladies were always smiling at her. She figured she probably reminded them of their granddaughters or something. They were always patting her on the head and saying “piao liang, piao-liang.” (Pretty, pretty.) Lili always smiled back. She knew how to take a compliment.

Her jet-black hair fell just below her shoulders, and today she was wearing it in soft curls. She had fine, delicate features, slightly almond-shaped eyes, a tiny chin, and a flawless, caramel complexion. People always said she looked like Zhiyi Zhang from those crazy martial-arts movies, but then that was maybe because there were no other Asian actresses to compare her to. She didn’t think she looked a bit like Zhiyi Zhang but she liked hearing it anyway. Speaking of things she liked to hear…

“Hi Pretty!” A clear, sing-song voice called from the entrance of the shop.

She turned. Ashley had finally arrived. Lili got up from her chair so fast she almost knocked over her coffee cup.

“Hi Pretty!” she gushed back. “Oh my god!” she exclaimed, slapping her hands on her hips in dismay.


“Your bag!” Lili accused, pointing to the offending accessory.

“I know! Don’t you love?” Ashley grinned, holding it up to the light.

“It’s red!” Lili said indignantly. “You said we were all getting beige!”

“I changed my mind,” Ashley said, shrugging. “I’m always red,” she said, quoting from their favorite movie.

“Ha ha.” Lili dead-panned sourly. “But now we don’t match.” She frowned. “We were all supposed to get the same one.”

“You and A.A. still match,” Ashley shrugged. “What’s the big deal? It’s just a bag, Lil. Chill out.”

Lili pasted a smile on her face. It was just a bag. Ashley was right. She was her best friend and so what if she’d changed her mind? Lili could have changed her mind just as easily, but of course, the thought would never occur to her. They had an agreement. Now instead of three Ashleys, she and A.A. would look like backup singers to the main Ashley. This was so Dreamgirls. But if Ashley didn’t watch out, Lili was going to Jennifer Hudson her one day.

Next up: ASHLEY "A.A." ALIOTO: the Sporty Spice of the Ashleys!


Thanksgiving Misc. and The Leader of the Ashleys!

So it was Black Friday the other day, but so what? Darlings, just like I don’t need Halloween as an excuse to dress like a tramp, I don’t need Black Friday to shop like a maniac. As devoted readers of this blog know, I shop like a maniac all the time!

Who in their right mind would want to sit out in the cold waiting for Best Buy to open? Yoiks. I suppose maybe I would wait out in the cold–maybe even wake up at four AM for a really good sample sale–but only if it was a private editor-only sale, and you could score $2000 handbags for $50 like the old Fendi sample sales of yore.

This Thanksgiving I totally pulled a Hillary Swank. We all had to go around the table and say what we were thankful for this year and I said I was thankful for everyone in my family, naming everyone, and completely forgot to say I was thankful for my husband. Oops! Don’t worry we’re not headed for Splitsville.

I think I forgot to be thankful for my husband because I think of Mike as merely an extension of myself–and why would I be thankful for myself? We’ve been together for eleven years now. And he’s just as cute as he was when we first met. It’s reallllly unfair how men age so much better than women. He’s only getting more good-looking while I have to *fight* to look as good as I did yesterday. LOL.

Did I mention that we are on a crazy diet? It’s this diet delivery service that all the celebs use. It’s crazy because we have not eaten that little since we cannot even remember. You mean we can’t eat hot fudge sundaes every day and lose weight? We must survive on lettuce??

It’s funny because when we met we were a pair of skinny hipsters, you know the type–vintage clothes, Mike used to wear thriftstore polyester shirts with falling-off-his-hips-jeans, Converse Jack Purcells, cool plastic glasses, and I used to rock the whole ugly-old-dress-cut-to-thigh-length with patterned tights and platforms. Only young skinny people can wear such ugly clothes.

When you get older, you NEED the expensive designer clothes to hide all the imperfections.

But when you’re young and skinny and cute you can wear the ugliest things and it just looks…tres charmant.

Which is a long way of saying I do NOT wear vintage anymore. I don’t have the body for it anymore!


Thanksgiving was fun, but somewhat of a blur with the baby to feed
and take care of and my nephews rolling around the hallways causing
havoc. The most fun for me was right when the table was completely set.
I put out our good china–white with a platinum rim, the crystal, the
napkins, the centerpiece (enormous sunflowers), the tea light candles,
the silver (Mom’s wedding silver) in the formal dinner pattern–small fork,
big fork, plate, soup spoon, knife, little dessert spoon on top of
plate, coffee cup and saucer to the left, water and wine glasses to the
right.  When I was growing up the table was set like this every night
for dinner by the maids. So I had a bit of nostalgia as I looked at my table. (With name cards to boot!)

But back to business. Introducing Ashley #1: from THE ASHLEYS: Ashley "Diana" Spencer.


“Ahem. Miss Ashley. Your mother wants to remind you to take your EpiPen.”

“I will. God, she’s such a nag!” Ashley Spencer thanked the elderly butler who had been in her mother’s family for years and dismissed him from the kitchen with a nod. She rolled her eyes and stuffed the slim, silver needle for injecting the shot of epinephrine–the only thing that would keep her alive in case she even breathed nut aroma–into her puffy Fendi Moncler Spy Bag’s secret compartment in the handle, next to her strawberry-scented lipgloss.

Her mom was so Nazi about her allergy ever since she almost killed Ashley on her fourth birthday when the exquisite French chocolate cake she served at the party turned out to have had trace amounts of hazelnuts in the batter.

Since then, Ashley refrained from eating anything that wasn’t cooked for her by the Spencers’ gourmet chef. Her nut-free lunch was already prepared in a cute Japanese lunchbox that she’d found in Tokyo that summer. It was made of cool white plastic and decorated with bug-eyed anime characters. Tokyo was so eye-opening—the style there was tres unconventional, and Ashley had bought the lunchbox in an attempt to emulate the famous Harajuku girls. But now, looking at it, she briefly wondered if the lunchbox was a little too goofy and “sixth-grade” somehow, and made a mental note to find out if there were such things as Chanel thermos containers. 

She turned off the mirrored flat-screen TV that hung in the breakfast nook and left her cereal bowl and juice glass on the island counter for the maid to clean. The clock on the smooth, stainless-steel face on the Thermador oven told her it was five minutes to the first bell, but instead of dashing out the door she took her time, removing a breathstrip from her pocket and letting the gooey green film melt on her tongue while she gathered her things. She was supposed to be at the Fillmore Starbucks by now, and the other Ashleys were probably waiting, but she didn’t care. They could wait. As if they would walk to school without her, hello.

“How about a kiss?” her mother asked, coming out of her study and finding Ashley brushing her hair in front of the grand Louis Quinze mirror hanging in the main hall. “Did Darby remind you to pack your allergy kit?”

“For the hundredth time, yes mom. And careful with the hair,” Ashley ordered, putting her hairbrush away and allowing herself to be kissed on both cheeks and wrinkling her nose at her mother’s heavy patchouli perfume. Couldn’t Mom switch to something like Chanel No. 5? She gave her mother’s outfit a cool once-over. “I hope you’re not wearing that for this afternoon’s tea,” she said, letting the inflection in her voice tell her mother that wasn’t a good idea.

Matilda Spencer crossed her arms and gave her daughter a bemused look. “I’m not, but why, is there something wrong with it?”

“Mom, 1998 called, they want their jeans back. Could you please put on the new skinny jeans we bought at Saks on Saturday?”

Ashley shook her head. Her mother was the most beautiful woman she knew, and not just because they looked so eerily alike they could be sisters. The two of them had long, lustrous golden hair, clear cornflower-blue eyes and pale ivory skin without a hint of a freckle. If Mom was Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley was a younger, smoother version, both of them delicate blondes with enviably thin arms and speedy metabolisms.

But whereas Ashley was always red-carpet ready even when she was just going to school, finding numerous ways to accessorize her uniform—wearing thick black tights instead of the chunky socks she’d made so popular with the plaid skirt last year, finding high-heeled patent leather Mary Janes that fit the saddle-shoe requirement, and wearing James Perse t-shirts underneath the v-neck sweaters instead of the tidy Peter Pan-collared blouses, her mother stuck to a casual wardrobe of Peruvian hand-made knits, plastic Crocs, and jeans she’d owned since college at UC Berkley. Matilda never really cared too much about clothes. It was such a waste.

While she chastised her mom for her fashion sense, she heard her father come jogging down the stairs in a holey t-shirt and yoga pants, his guru following behind.

“Off to school precious?” he asked, doing sun salutations in the foyer while Bodhi helped balance him. “Ready for the new year? You know you’ll kick ass! Won’t she my love?” he asked, turning to his wife and giving her a kiss on the nose.

Her mother giggled and loped her arm around her husband’s, and for a frightening moment it looked like the two of them would actually start to make out in front of their daughter, but thankfully her father got distracted by his trainer and the cringe-worthy display of affection was averted. Ashley breathed a sigh of relief.

Seriously, parents could be so embarrassing. The Nob Hill Gazette once crowned her parents San Francisco’s ‘It Couple’ but that was a long time ago, before she was even born. They were such goofballs now, it was hard to imagine them as ever being so super-glamorous.

Ashley allowed herself to be hugged by the two of them and walked out the door, checking once again to make sure she had that anti-allergy shot in her purse. It made her feel better to know it was there, especially since almost no one knew about her condition and she liked to keep it that way.

No way in hell was she going to be dumped in with Cass Franklin, that freak who had to eat in her own screened-off quarantined section of the cafeteria, alienated from all the other kids. Ashley had pretended for so long that she liked living on nothing but yogurt and spelt bread and raw vegetables that she almost believed it.

She was Ashley Spencer, the undisputed, unshakable leader of the Ashleys. No one told her what she could and couldn’t eat.

Owning up to her allergy was admitting weakness. Seventh grade was a blackboard jungle. And Ashley Spencer made sure everyone marched to the beat of her own iPod.

NEXT UP… ASHLEY LI: The Over-Achieving Ashley!

THE ASHLEYS: In bookstores and online JANUARY 8, 2008!!!!!


Meet The Ashleys!!

So my new series THE ASHLEYS is about four girls who go to the  most exclusive all-girls school in San Francisco.  Three of the girls in the story are all named Ashley, they’re the prettiest and most popular girls in school. Lauren is the fourth girl–who’s out to join the Ashleys only so she can de-Ashley them for good. Will Lauren succeed in her quest to make the seventh grade a better place to be? Or will she succumb to Ashleyfication herself?

Find out in the first book of the series: THE ASHLEYS: There’s A New Name in School. Coming out in bookstores January 8, 2008! Which is not that far from now, really.

Below is an excerpt from the first chapter. Enjoy!


Lauren Page smoothed down the folds of her short plaid skirt and crossed her legs so that she could admire the shiny new black-and-white Chanel spectator oxfords on her feet a little better. They looked so cute with her thick cashmere socks scrunched down just above the ankle, she thought to herself. She’d been wearing the same green plaid uniform to Miss Gamble’s all her life, but she was in the upper form now—seventh grade, which meant saying goodbye to her boring old Buster Browns and hello to the first boy-girl dance with the hotties from Gregory Hall that was only three weeks away. And as far as she was concerned, upper form meant a whole new Lauren.

She leaned back on the plush, baby-soft leather seat in her dad’s sparkling new Bentley Continental and pressed a button that flipped a mirror on the console in front of her. 

Sometimes, she couldn’t believe it herself. The girl who smiled back from the mirror looked nothing like the old Lauren. This one had pin-straight chestnut brown hair that fell softly on her shoulders and shone with reddish and caramel gold highlights, a killer Mystic spray-tan, and cheekbones so sharp they rivaled Hilary Duff’s. Lauren felt a little like Hillary herself, when the Duffster lost all that baby fat and started looking so hot that people whispered she’d had major plastic surgery.

Last year she was a financial-aid pity case, fretting over whether
anyone at school would notice that her blue cashmere sweater had been
bought secondhand at the school’s charity shop, which sold used
uniforms for half-price, but this year her sweater was a nine-hundred
dollar one with a fancy Italian label. Lauren had been worried about
getting it stained, until her dad, who used to pay bills from the co-op
grocery with change from the kitchen jar whenever his graduate teaching
assistant stipend ran out—had told her that she never had to worry
about anything ever again. At least not where pricey designer clothes
were concerned. Well then. Bring on the twelve-ply Mongolian cashmere.

Lauren grabbed a tall, frosty Voss water bottle from the mini-fridge hidden in the side compartment to calm her nerves.

A head-to-toe Emma Roberts-like makeover was one thing, but there
were still the Ashleys to contend with. Lauren could see them now,
giving her the daily head-to-toe fashion evaluation and shaking their
heads in mock disgust. Even if there was a school uniform and all
students were supposed to look the same to eliminate “status
consciousness”, the Ashleys always looked like they stepped out of a J.
Crew catalog while Lauren looked like she’d stumbled out of an old
Facts of Life episode. They never let her forget it, either.

Lauren clenched her jaw. What if they saw through her six-hundred
dollar haircut and button-nose job and decided she was just the same
old dork she always had been?

What if they looked at her and saw the same Lauren from last year?

She would not allow that to happen. She dug her Black Satin
manicure into the Mercedes’ thick upholstery, leaving ugly grooves in
the Italian leather. Uh-oh. That was going to cost a fortune to fix.
Then she remembered with relief that a fortune was exactly what she had
right now. And like Angelina Jolie, she was going to use her money to
do something good for a change.

First, she was going to join the Ashleys. And then she was going to destroy them. She wanted to change the world one day, and she was going to start by making the seventh grade a better place to be.

Lauren spied The Ashleys in their usual before-school hangout by the stone bench in front of the playground, the three of them holding matching venti decaf soy lattes and looking beyond bored. They looked so sweet and innocent—not at all like the soul-destroying creatures they really were. She inhaled and said a little prayer to whatever gods watched over made-over twelve year olds with secret intentions.

Today was the first day of the rest of her new life.   

Author’s comments: I myself survived through an exclusive all-girls school in San Francisco, and I too-clearly remember what the TRAUMA of the daily walk into school was like. My idea for the Ashleys was what would happen if someone who’d been a social outcast suddenly became the biggest insider? Would she change the popular girls or would she change herself for better or worse?

Also, because I really love the movie HEATHERS.  Frack Me Gently with A ChainSaw!

Tomorrow: Meet Ashley Spencer! The Leader of the Bratz Pack.


Billion-Dollar Babes of Every Stripe, The WGA Strike is Killing my Marriage, And Why I’m Downsizing

So much shopping and celebrity-sighting has been going on! But since I’ve been swamped by deadlines I have forgotten to blog about it.

First off, there IS a sequel to Masquerade. It is called REVELATIONS and I just right now, turned in the outline for the book. It took me six months to write the outline! So basically the book is pretty much done. Fleshing out the outline usually takes anywhere from two weeks to six weeks. Everything that’s in the book is in the outline. I find it’s a much easier way to work when I know how everything is going to stack up. All the plot points are covered, all the build, all the ahem, revelations.

Did you know the Book of Revelations is actually called the Book of Revelation? It is "The Revelation (NO "s") of Jesus as Told to John".  It’s a common mistake apparently. I was a bit distressed when I discovered this, but after much careful thought and talking to my husband, I decided to keep the original title, Revelations with the "s". Somehow "Revelation" isn’t as strong sounding and also I like that it IS a little different from the Bible.

Revelations (the Blue Bloods one) is going to be just too too too fabulous. I do believe I get better as I do more of these things. You start to know shortcuts on how to make the books ‘go’. But who knows?  I wrote a really detailed outline for Angels on Sunset Boulevard too and the first draft SUCKED. My outline sucked I just didn’t know it. And the book turned out much much better on the rewrite. But for Masquerade, I wrote a detailed outline and the book sprung to life from it.

So you never know. But I have a good feeling about this book.

Anyway, on to the shopping. My mom and I hit the Billion Dollar Babes sale in L.A. this weekend. Lots of INSANE Chloe at INSANE prices. I bought a fab white suit for $200! The suit originally cost $2500.  It’s so sharp and makes me feel like Tom Wolfe-meets-Bianca Jagger. I also bought a white silk ruffled Chloe blouse for $220 down from $1600. The blouse and the suit are so chic. White-on-white-on-white. I know it sounds weird, but trust me.

I also bought oversized-frame Oliver Peoples sunglasses for $100 (from $400) and a gold link choker with huge amazing crystals for $98, another pair of Chloe pants for $80 (from $735) and a crinkled blue and brown square-neck silk top from Tree for $75 (from $200). Fun, fun, fun!

As for the celebrity sightings, Mike and I went to a party at Moss and saw Philippe Starck! The famous French designer who designed all those fabulous Ian Schrager hotels (the Hudson, the Royalton, etc) and is basically the most famous designer around. Mike is an architect so Philippe Starck is like a demi-god in our household. Mike was the one who recognized him. I love that I am married to a guy who could recognize a French designer but has no idea who LeBron James is. We have a lot of Starck stuff in our house–our six polished aluminum dining chairs for one.

You know how I wrote that fashion money isn’t real money? This is what I think whenever I look at our six dining chairs: EACH ONE COSTS AS MUCH AS A BALENCIAGA HANDBAG!!! I could have SIX Balenciaga handbags instead of those chairs!! ARGGH!

But it’s OK. Mike loves those chairs. It seems insane to me to spend that kind of money on like, CHAIRS. But it does NOT seem insane to own six Balenciaga handbags.

At the Moss store we slobbered over Philippe’s "Happines is a Hot Gun" series–gold-plated AK47s as lamp bases and gold-plated revolver lamps. So chic, so perverse, so fab! We’re planning to buy two of the gun-lamps for our bedside tables. (OR I COULD HAVE ANOTHER TWO BALENCIAGA HANDBAGS!! AARGH!!) Philippe was wearing a dress shirt and loud print pants and looked really cool. We tried not to stare but we were in the presence of one of our heroes!

Then on Saturday we took Mattie to brunch at Le Pain Quotidien in Sherman Oaks, and while we were eating Mike goes "Wow, look at that gold stroller!" and I looked up and it was Gwen Stefani et famille! They took a seat in the back a table away from us and were the perfect picture of happy family life. Gwen was totally rockin’–she had her signature red lips, platinum hair (with bangs and pulled back) and Gavin was more casual but still movie-star handsome. Kingston was adorable!

Kingston wandered around the restaurant playing with all the other babies, and he played with Mattie! It was really cute. Gwen followed him around and we all had to act like it was no big deal that Gwen Stefani was by our table. She was nice and smiled, and we had a little mom-chat. She is a huge rockstar and a fashion icon, but she was still THE MOM. She had to follow her kid around the restaurant because that’s what moms do. It was beyond cool. I had a headache from trying to keep in the blathering idiot-fan inside me. Because I am the kind of person who back in the day went to Duran Duran concerts and SOBBED HYSTERICALLY.

Mike was actually really impressed that I was so casual. He thought I would totally blow it. But as I said, it GAVE ME A HEADACHE. I just wanted to slobber all over her and tell her how much I love her music and her um, "style". Which is such a lame thing to say to someone when you think about it. Or as my sister said, I could have totally blown it by saying "So what’s Kingston’s name?"

The crowd at the restaurant were all casual, affluent parents in their 30s with their babies. Seriously each table was Mom, Dad and Their Only Child Who Is Under the Age of Two. Gwen, Gavin and Kingston fit right in. Although of course, they had this buzz around them and just pizazz! I think because you EXPECT them to look fabulous. They were in public so had to put on their public face. Whereas all the other families were just wearing jeans and sweats and baby-stained clothing.

In other news, the Writer’s Strike is ruining our marriage. For the love of god, producers, give the writers what they want! Give them everything! I have very dear friends who are on strike and I fully support the strike. But the main reason I want the strike to end is because it has RUINED THE FABRIC OF OUR DAILY LIFE.

Mike and I work a lot, and we work at home. The only time we get to chill out is late at night, in front of the Daily Show. This has been a really nice routine. At around 10pm every night, Mike stops working, I stop writing, and we both flop down on the couch and watch Stewart and Colbert and company. We drink a couple of glasses of wine, we laugh, then we go to sleep.

But ever since the strike, we flop down on the couch, have some wine, and then do some aimless flickering of the channels, lost and confused. Where is our daily dose of ironic, political humor??? Where is the cozy feeling we get from watching our favorite shows together? GONE!

So there is no snuggling on the couch.

There is no bonding.

Instead, Mike watches STAR TREK re-runs. I like Star Trek. But seriously, NOT ENOUGH to watch it EVERY NIGHT.  AARRGH!

Last night in desperation we actually watched Daily Show and Colbert Report re-runs. Sigh.

Don’t even talk to me about what’s going to happen once they stop having new episodes of GOSSIP GIRL!!

Anyway. I am also over thousand-dollar handbags. (Notwithstanding my earlier statements about Balenciaga handbags of course.) I mean, SERIOUSLY PEOPLE. Why are handbags so expensive now??? It used to be you could buy a decent Prada handbag for $500. Then $800. Now all the handbags are freakin’ $1800-$2500.

This is just wrong. This is ridiculous. I refuse to buy another thousand-dollar, or over-thousand-dollar handbag. My friend Minty refuses to buy Marc Jacobs for this same reason. (The top-level Marc Jacobs line not the Marc by Marc Jacobs line which is muy cheap and kind of looks like the Gap now.) Minty thinks the prices are RIDICULOUS. (And Minty could afford to buy the whole collection every season but she doesn’t.) "Marc Jacobs is just pulling a prank on us." she tells me.  Minty is always fabulously-dressed, I have to add. But she likes Trina Turk, Tory Burch, Diane Von Furstenberg. Reasonably-priced fashion. She spends on her collection of classic Chanel handbags.

I’ve been carrying a fabulous cherry-red oversized Marni bag, big enough to hold Mattie’s diapers and lunch and snacks, as well as my sunglasses, wallet, makeup, cellphone, laptop. I bought it for $1200. And now its zipper is broken, the leather is worn, and there’s Cheerios and dirt at the bottom of the bag. I looked at it the other day and I realized, it was NOT WORTH IT.

So now I am buying a new bag. It is from Martine Sitbon and it is just as big as the Marni and it is only $247. It’s a lot of fabulous for a little price. And since in six months it’s going to get trashed anyway, I think it’s the right price for me.


The Thick Line between Love and Hate

It was the baby’s first birthday today. Awww. We had a big blowout for her this weekend with tons of lovely family and friends and today we took her to two museums (The Getty and Noah’s Ark at the Skirball). The whole family went, including our nanny, both sets of grandparents and my sister and her two boys. Quite an entourage! She had a wonderful day and we had a wonderful day spoiling her.

I can’t believe my baby is one year old already! Craziness. It’s been exactly a year of working-mom insanity. The good thing is that I have somewhat reconciled to loving both my daughter and my work, although when my friends asked me if I liked being a mom, I told them "No." Which I immediately felt guilty about, even though it was true.

It’s really hard to be a mom, and I don’t even think of myself as a mom really–I mean, me, a mom?? But what I should have said was, I don’t really like motherhood, but I LOVE being Mattie’s mom. If that makes any sense at all.

I guess what I’m trying to say is the whole "mom" thing is just simply too too too exhausting–and all the guilt that comes with being a mom (is that an American thing?) just sucks. I hate that I still don’t have highlights. I hate that I can’t go out every night without getting a sitter. I hate that we can’t travel that much. I hate losing my freedom. I hate staying home. I hate all the competition at the playground. I hate worrying about whether she’ll get into the right pre-pre-school. I hate Elmo. Actually I take that back–Elmo’s okay. But Clifford the Big Red Dog has got to go.

But I love being with my baby. I love reading to her. I love giving her a bath. I love combing her hair. I love feeding her. I love snuggling. I love it when she laughs. Oh my god she has the BEST laugh ever. I love that she calls for me whenever something happens–no matter how big or how small. I love how soft her cheek is. I love watching her sleep. I love her eyelashes. I love her perfect little toes. I love her belly. I love her smile. I love her smell. I love how she waves. I just love everything about her, I just love her SO much.

Every night Mike and I look at her and say to each other, "I just love her SO much." Because it is so amazing to have so much love for another person. And we wonder, do our parents love us this much? And they must, because how could you not want everything for your kid?


It’s amazing how fast the year has gone. Seventeen years left and she’ll be off to college! Boohoohoo! It’s really too short a time when you think about it.

Anyway, huge breakthrough on Revelations today, and fun fun stuff on Birthday Vicious. I’m so excited about both books, and as the launch of the Ashleys nears, I’ll post some excerpts here.


Deleted Scene from Blue Bloods: Aggie’s Death



Here’s another cool deleted scene I found in the hard drive. This was a very early version of Aggie’s murder. In this version, Aggie is Schuyler’s friend, not Mimi’s (as it is in the final book) and she’s also Dylan’s girlfriend. I cut it and changed it because it seemed too much to have Schuyler be very close to the murder victim, also it took away from how intense her friendship was with Oliver. Also, in my mind it seemed like Aggie was a lot like Schuyler and we couldn’t really have that. There’s only one Schuyler! I also didn’t think being at the hospital really added anything to the story. Much better for them to find out about Aggie’s death Monday morning at school.

It’s weird, in re-reading all these cut scenes, I realize that my editor was so right: WRITING IS A PROCESS. You have to write your way through the plot problems to realize what the story is really about.

The story about The Closet (also called the Land of Nod in the final book) is absolutely true. There was a certain nightclub in New York where if you passed out, they put you in the back, and if it looked like you had OD’d, they would dump you in the ER, taking you there in the club’s "ambulance" otherwise known as the nightclub owner’s SUV.

I cut this pretty early on. I didn’t think it added anything to the story. But it’s fun to see here, isn’t it?

They think I have something to do with it. Bliss couldn’t help but notice the way Dylan’s friends—Schuyler Van Alen and Oliver Hazard-Perry, were looking at her. The way their eyes had gone from assessing the situation to assessing her. She’d been a step behind Dylan when he ran outside. All of them had climbed into the taxicab, Jack Force and that loser girl-Schuyler up front, while she’d had to squeeze in between Dylan and some guy wearing eye shadow in the back seat, Dylan’s girlfriend Aggie—that’s what he called her—stretched out lifelessly on their laps.

The rest of the trip was a surreal nightmare—the cab screeching up Broadway, past red lights, the driver cursing at them, and as soon as they’d arrived at the hospital, a squadron of doctors, nurses and emergency personnel scrambling, and Aggie immediately whisked away on a stretcher and none of them allowed to see her.

That was half an hour ago. The five of them were sitting in the plastic chairs in the waiting room, still waiting. Bliss wondered how long she would have to stay. It’s not like she knew any of these kids, she’d just met them all that night. But Jack Force was still there, and he didn’t know them either, so it seemed rude to want to leave.

“She’s not dead,” Schuyler whispered. “She’s not.” Aggie, please don’t be dead, please don’t be dead. Schuyler prayed. But god, she’d certainly looked dead. Her eyes had rolled to the back of her head, and her lips were purple. Her skin, normally so pale already, was almost translucent. And all through the cab ride, Schuyler had searched vainly for a pulse without finding one.

“Yo, dude, I’m telling you, she wasn’t breathing,” Dylan argued.

“What happened?” Oliver asked, hunched forward, dark circles beginning to form around his eyes.

“I told you, I went out to get a smoke, and when I got back inside I couldn’t find Aggie anywhere,” Dylan explained in a slightly defensive tone. “So I looked around, tried calling her, texting her, nothing, so I just hung out, I figured she might be in the Pit—you know how she likes to dance down there.” The Pit was in the basement of the Bank, so crowded and dark it would be impossible to find anyone, especially a tiny girl who was slam-dancing by herself. “So I thought I’d wait it out. Then, I dunno, I kind of passed out somehow. When I woke up, and I was in this little room that was locked.”

“The Closet,” Oliver said wisely.

“I guess. It was small enough to be a closet,” Dylan nodded. “And there were all these people passed out back there.”

“It’s where they put the wastoids,” Oliver explained. “So the club doesn’t look like one big slumber party.”
“They do that?” Bliss asked, Thaydewthaat? She cleared her throat. Damn her accent. “Why?” She’d never heard of such a thing.

“Usually they truck them away in the ‘ambulance’—Big Rob’s Cadillac with the big trunk, dump them all at the ER. But that was starting to cost, and mostly the kids weren’t OD’d, just out of it.” Oliver shrugged. “They’d wake up, and well—what a long strange trip, right?”

“It’s disgusting,” Schuyler said, although she’d always found the practice funny, until now.

“What did she take?” Jack asked.

Dylan looked up, startled. “What do you mean?”

“She must have been on drugs, right?”

“No,” Schuyler said emphatically. “Aggie’s straight-edge.” It was one of Aggie’s quirks, like her obsession with proper afternoon tea at the St. Regis. Aggie even had a blue-pen X mark that she scratched on her left hand every day to remind herself of her dedication to sobriety.

“Totally.” Dylan nodded.

“And how did you get involved?” Oliver asked, looking straight at Bliss. Bliss knew they were all wondering the same thing. Something about Dylan’s story wasn’t adding up. He’d gone for a smoke—yes—but he hadn’t mentioned for how long—the two of them had ended up talking for ages in that back alley. When they’d smoked every last cigarette they had between the two of them, he finally went inside, and she’d secretly followed him—because after meeting him the last thing she wanted was to go back to Mimi and her demands at Block 122. Dylan hadn’t noticed.

She’d wandered around The Bank, alone, fascinated by how dank and disgusting it all was—the floors were covered in slime, and in contrast to Block 122, everyone was so ugly, when suddenly she’d heard screams from inside a wall. She’d found a door—unlocked it from the outside—Jesus, they locked you in there—and Dylan had burst out—his dead girlfriend in his arms.

“I was with a friend,” Bliss shrugged. Let them wonder. Why did she owe them an explanation? Why did they have to look at her that way? She didn’t kill her.

The ER doctor who’d taken Aggie in emerged through the swinging doors in his green scrubs. “Are those her friends?” he asked the nurse. Schuyler and Oliver approached him. “Is she OK?” Schuyler asked, her voice quavering.

The doctor slowly shook his head. He began explaining—it looked like an overdose—not quite sure what had caused a fatal reaction like that—cardiac arrest, pulmonary failure—extreme loss of blood—the doctor said they were very, very sorry, they did everything they could, but she was dead upon arrival.

Schuyler twisted her hands onto the wings of her cardigan, not hearing or comprehending the words—but when she heard “failure to resuscitate” she crumpled into Oliver’s chest, heaving sobs that racked her small frame. “It’s Ok, It’s OK,” Oliver murmured, soothing her, holding her to him, holding her up as she threatened to slide down against the wall.

Dylan turned to the side and quietly threw up on the floor.

“I think we uh, should probably leave them alone?” Bliss asked, elbowing Jack.

Jack nodded, his face grave. He walked towards the huddled duo. “I’m sorry about your friend, Schuyler.” He said, putting a hand on her shoulder.

Schuyler, lost in her grief, nodded through her tears.

A lot of my writing is influenced by people I knew in real life. A good friend of mine in college used to be straight-edge and he would mark the inside of his wrist with blue pen with an "X" all the time to resist the temptation of drugs and alcohol.

The scene at the hospital was also totally inspired by a similar event that happened in college, when a friend of mine broke his ankle, and the whole gang of his friends waited in the waiting area for him to get fixed.

I’ll try to post more deleted scenes, but I really have to get back to writing Blue Bloods 3: REVELATIONS!!!


Blue Bloods Deleted/Changed Scenes with Author’s Commentary!

I know. I have to update my website. It is coming, people! It is on the list of things to do.

Especially since so many of you want to know when Blue Bloods 3: REVELATIONS is coming out. Right now it is scheduled for Fall 2008!!!! FALL 2008!!!!

I am currently writing the book, which has necessitated re-reading Blue Bloods and Masquerade again. Which brings to mind this interview from Nick Hornby, whose new book is a YA novel called SLAM and which I must buy as soon as possible as I love Nick Hornby. (Although I did not love "A Long Way Down" that much. I think I almost hated it. It felt too contrived somehow. But I looooooved "High Fidelity" and "About a Boy" and "How to Be Good" so much that I’m hoping "Slam" is in their league and not in "A Long Way Down" league.)

Anyway, here’s what he says about reading his own work:

RADAR: I read somewhere that you can’t stand going back and reading your own work. Is that true?
NICK HORNBY: I think you can get sick of the sound of your own voice. Especially to
oneself, one’s own voice is so distinctive and whatever it is you start
off doing, it still comes out in your voice and you think, oh, fucking
hell, it’s me again. So, I think it’s analogous with cooking. I mean,
I’m sure even Gordon Ramsay doesn’t want to eat his own cooking all the
time. You just get sick of the way something tastes; it always tastes
of you. That’s what I kind of struggle with. And when you go on a
reading tour as well, you’re very exposed to the same bits of writing
again and again and again for a month, so by the end of it you think,
Jesus, really, what was I thinking of?


TOO FUNNY. Because that was kind of what I was experiencing while I read my own books. WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?

Because I had to remember WHY I put things in there, and WHY I hinted at that, or WHY she does this. And I couldn’t remember! Because I had written Blue Bloods like two years ago and Masquerade a year ago! At the time I was writing both books, I thought "oh there’s no reason to write down WHY because it’s all in my head" and now I wish I had made notes to myself.


But it’s okay. I remember everything now. Just had to jog the old noggin a bit. Shake it up.

One of my fabulous readers asked if I could post some deleted scenes from Blue Bloods or Masquerade and I thought that sounded fun, so I’m posting a couple of deleted scenes from Blue Bloods today.


AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY: I had a LOT of fun writing the first chapter of Blue Bloods because it was based on true-life experiences. Me and my best friend Morgan used to go to this club called THE BANK which was the only goth club in New York. Unlike a lot of NYC clubs, it was an all-access kind of place, there were no snooty velvet ropes and no annoying traders commandeering tables and ordering $500 bottles of vodka. But a lot of the descriptions of the club was making the story very SLOW. So it had to go. Here’s one of the earlier versions of the first chapter.

Every weekend the club was filled with hundreds of black-clad
teenagers humming, swaying and drifting to the Trance music’s lazy, intermittent
rhythm. Already that night, the line in front of the club wormed down
the block, a raggedy mix of thin, neurasthenic girls swathed in
oversized blazers and gypsy skirts, and pretty, frail boys wearing

“Why did I wear this skirt, I hate this skirt,” Schuyler muttered. She didn’t know why she was so worried. The Bank was the last place in Manhattan that wasn’t overrun with celebrities and wannabe celebrities and the gawkers suitably star-struck enough to pay money to be near them. The Bank was too corny, too earnestly weird, and too cheap for that. The days when passed-out WB starlets were found in the VIP room were long gone. Which was the only reason she had agreed to go. That and the promise of dancing in The Pit (a mosh pit behind the teller windows).

Just then, the line began to move.  Oliver grinned. She was glad she hadn’t chickened out on their evening after all. Even though she could never really say No to Oliver. Aside from her grandmother, he was the only one in the world who cared about her. She took a step forward.

She should never have let Ollie talk her into buying a fake ID—her first foray into identity theft! It was a Maryland license, easier to duplicate because unlike the New York kind, it lacked a watermark. Oliver coolly surrendered his Hawaiian one—another easy state, Dylan’s connection had assured, since few bartenders in the city knew what a real one looked like. Schuyler blanched as the stone-faced doorman slid the cards under the infrared machine.

Nothing happened.

It felt like time had stopped. Then just like that, the doorman suddenly returned their cards and waved them forward.

Schuyler exhaled. She and Oliver exchanged a restrained look of glee.

They floated inside the club, feeling heady from smell of the beer-sweat and musk, the music slithering into their blood, already making them dizzy with the sopoforic sound, powerless to the pull of the relentless bassline. They were inside.


AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY: My original idea was to end the chapter with the end of their evening. But in rewriting, I realized that getting IN the club was a good place to end it. Sometimes it’s better to say less than more.

It was almost five in the morning, the technical end of the evening, (since by law, the nightclub had to close, but it opened again at six until noon for the dawn crowd), and Schuyler took one last lap around the balcony, looking for Oliver. It had been a manic, surreal night. They’d wandered around the club for hours, taking in all the strange and delightful sights—the downstairs bazaar that sold all kinds of rubber bracelets and studded jewelry, the hang-out room by the co-ed bathrooms where six-foot-tall drag queens repaired their makeup and gossiped about the DJs, the upstairs lounge, where Schuyler had sat, Indian-style by the floor-to-ceiling windows to get some rest, and two frat boys in alma mater Ts and new Diesel jeans (‘alterno-seeking-tourists from the tri-state hinterlands’ Oliver called them) tapped her politely on the shoulder and asked, “Got any?”

Schuyler was flattered to have been mistaken for a drug dealer. She liked The Bank. She liked the fact that someone had fashioned a bed out of the metal chairs by the balcony and was snoring loudly on it. She liked how empty it was—she and Oliver rattled around the topmost floors like pebbles in a big glass jar, lost in an Alice-in-Wonderland funhouse. She’d been disoriented for a minute there, when she’d turned the corner to the ladies’ room and encountered a blank wall instead. For a moment, she had no idea where she was. The walls were suddenly bright and clean instead of dark and grimy, and in the distance, she could hear the soft sounds of typing.

A tall man came out of the shadows. He was handsome, with a fine crown of silver hair. He was wearing a well-cut English suit and looked completely out of place at The Bank. He locked eyes with Schuyler for a moment.

“Hey where are you–?” she tried to ask.

But as soon as she did, he disappeared into the darkness.

And then the noise faded and when she blinked her eyes, she was in the shadowy recesses of the nightclub again. Still, it didn’t scare her. Absurdly, The Bank felt like home.

She was alone. Dylan had gone for a smoke and had never returned, and now even Oliver was missing. He’d promised to get another round of drinks, but that was hours ago. It wasn’t like him to leave her in the lurch like that—she’d been looking forward to splitting a ride back uptown and having an early, ravenous breakfast of pancakes and milk shakes before he dropped her off at home. She tried his cell again. No answer. She didn’t know what to do. Stay or go? What if he’d already left?

So she bundled up, folding her hands underneath her armpits, cold in her thin sweater, walked downstairs, to the front, past many posted signs that warned NO RE-ENTRY! EXIT FINAL! LEAVE AT YOUR OWN RISK! before finally finding the swinging doors that led outside. She stood in front of the sidewalk to hail a taxi.

Oliver could take care of himself, and she could do the same.


AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY: In re-reading this, I kind of wish I had kept some of it in. Especially seeing the old guy (who turns out to be Charles Force later). But like I said earlier, the chapter really needs to end with Sky and Ollie getting IN the club. After that, it’s just extra…

This chapter reminds me of how much I love nightclubs. The part about some guy sleeping on a few chairs upstairs? Totally true. I always felt very at-home at New York City nightclubs. We used to go to this after-hours club called The Sound Factory (which then became Twilo and now I think is closed). And I looked so at home there that nightclub newbies thought I was a drug dealer! Because who else looks at home at a nightclub right?? Like Schuyler, I felt flattered. It just showed that I belonged there. Sound Factory was the place where Madonna hired all her dancers. We would see them at the club (we knew them from the documentary). It was this illicit, fabulous, only-in-New-York kind of place. I loved it.

Wow. This is really fun. And I found a great deleted scene in another file which I’ll post tomorrow!