Meeting in the Ladies’ Room

This weekend, I finally updated my iPod. I have been listening to the same 800 songs for oh, about six years… I’m very musically challenged and the only reason I listen to any new music at all is because my husband Mike is a former college DJ and keeps up with all the new music. Thank god, someone in the house HAS to be plugged into the music culture otherwise it would just be pitiful.

My ex-best-friend was once THE source of new techno/hiphop/dance music and it was so great knowing him because he always had the most cool and cutting-edge dance music and via knowing him I could be vicariously cool. But since he is now an XBFF, sadly, he does not provide this service anymore. Isn’t it sad how almost whole parts of one’s life disappear when friends do? I really miss Morgan. And I think I miss his CDs just as much.

One of the songs I downloaded yesterday was “Meeting in the Ladies’ Room” by Klymaxxx. It’s such a hilarious 80s song, and one that I remember very fondly. It also made me think about the whole phenomenon of girls going to the bathroom together. My best friend Jennie is a huge advocate of this power move. I remember in college and our early 20s whenever we would go out with a group of cute guys and they had invited some girls we didn’t know, Jennie would always say “Mel, I need to go, do you need to go too?” And that was the cue that Jennie and I would collect our handbags and exit NOISILY from the table, letting the other girls at the table know that we were leaving to go to the bathroom, so we could talk about THEM. One time, one of the other girls even huffily said, “Why do you guys always go to the bathroom together? So you can talk about us right?” And Jennie and I professed to be shocked, shocked to be accused of such bitchy behavior! And you bet we talked about it in the ladies’ room. Hee.

Fun B-List Sighting!!

Perhaps this is even a C-List sighting. On Friday night, Mike and I were having dinner at Taste, this trendy new restaurant in the Farmer’s Daughter hotel and halfway through the meal, this huge group of young guys came down and sat at the table next to ours. And then Mike started doing this sideways shake of his head and eyes darting to the side, to let me know he had spotted someone FAMOUS. So I totally turned just as this redheaded girl was walking past, and I was like, “Who is it??” And the guys at the table next to us looked in the direction I was looking in, because they too, wanted to know if they had missed some famous starlet or something. Then Mike started laughing because the famous person was at the guys’ table. BJ Novak, who plays Ryan the Cute Intern on The Office! So that makes two “Office” castmembers we have seen now. We saw Jon Krasinski at Poquito Mas a couple of months ago. Really, this is a C-List sighting, and the meal was quite tasteless and over-priced, but we’re big fans of The Office so I give it a “B”.

This weekend we also saw a bunch of movies–it has been so hot in LA that we have had to escape to the movie theaters. We saw “Lady in the Water” which was just dreadful. Just awful. We knew it was going to be bad, but it was the only movie we were able to catch at the time we arrived, so we saw it. Can I just say the movie has a water-nymph character who is called a “Madam Narf”–Um, does she run a bordello under the sea?

We also saw “A Scanner Darkly” which we liked a lot. The movie kind of meanders a bit, and there’s a lot of just druggie humor–you know, how druggies just sit around and make jokes while they chop up lines/roll joints/what have you. Entertaining up to a point. But there’s a great twist in the end that was very cool. And plus, Philip K. Dick – can’t mess with that!

Last night we saw “Clerks II” which was awesome. It really made me laugh, and I had been needing a laugh…my dad’s latest CT-scans came back last week (he has been battling cancer for three years) and well, it’s not great news…not the worst news thankfully, the cancer is still localized and has not spread, but it’s not totally gone, either, which means more chemo, which is a huge bummer.

You know when you hear “chemo” you think oh, you just get nauseous and you just sleep through it. You don’t really understand what it does until someone you love has to live through it. It’s actually really, really difficult–I don’t know how my dad does it. It’s so hard on you, not only the hair fallout, or the nausaea, but the skin rashes, and how food starts to taste different. Chemo kills the cancer cells, but it also kills you a bit too. Which just SUCKS. Cancer just SUCKS. UGH. But anyway, what can we do but fight? You can’t give up. We had a nice break for four months while Pop was on a “chemo holiday” and felt like himself again. But reality has come crashing down on us.

So anyway, really needed a laugh and Clerks II really came through with all sorts of fanboy geek humor which we enjoyed immensely, especially the bit where the two LOTR fans compare how many times they have seen each movie in the trilogy. For the record, Mike and I are “three-two-two”. There’s also a funny bit where “Jay” (of Jay and Silent Bob fame) does a dance move to this rockin’ tune, where he starts putting on his chapstick as if it’s lipstick and he’s looking in a mirror and pretends he’s an 80s sexpot vixen, anyway, it’s just sooo funny.

In work news, I’ve finished the first 100 pgs of BB2:Masquerade, now I have to whip the second 150 pages into shape. The writing has been going very fast, but the rewriting is taking a while. So far, I’m really enjoying getting back in the elite vampire world. There are new characters and whole new twists in this one, and I should go back to my work and start untangling things…


Cover for Angels on Sunset Boulevard!

Exciting news! We just got the cover for ANGELS ON SUNSET BOULEVARD! My new book coming out in December about a cute skater girl from the Hollywood flats and a hot preppie boy from Bel-Air who discover a shadowy cult that is manipulating teens in the city. It’s a little like The Outsiders meets The Great Gatsby meets The Matrix, with a beautiful, silver-haired and violet-eyed David Bowie-like rockstar who mysteriously disappears on the eve of his biggest gig.

So excited for the release of this book! And check it out – it says “bestselling author of the au pairs series” under my name. Woo-hoo! That’s pretty sweeeeet!


Blog Against Racism!

I’m sooo hungry….

I am sitting here waiting for my lunch to arrive. Yes, I have found the one deli in LA that delivers!! YESSSS.

And I can’t concentrate on my book because I am too hungry to write. So I thought I would blog…

From fellow writers’ blogs E. Lockhart and Justine Larbalestier, I have learned it’s International Blog Against Racism Week, so I thought I would add my two cents.

As a writer, I have always felt American in my writing. I think it was VS Naipaul said that the English language belongs to everyone–not just those born in England and America. I grew up reading American and English books – Sweet Valley High, Enid Blyton, JRR Tolkien, etc. So culturally, I always felt very Western even though I was growing up in Manila.

When I was older I did seek out Asian writers – Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, and writers of color, like Terry McMillan.

It was Terry McMillan that I adored. I loved her books, because while they dealt with race issues, they were also FUN and about shopping, and sex and men. Somehow, the Asian writers I was reading were a little too gloomy and serious for me. My goal was to be the Terry McMillan of Asian writers.

So I wrote this book called STUCK UP TRENDY ASIAN BITCH. About three hot Asian girls who just got out of college, and their fun lives in New York, shopping and having sex plus dealing with race and family issuses as well. Unfortunately, even with the great title and the great idea, I was only 22 and I really didn’t pull it off. One editor who loved the book said it “really started on page 150” — halfway through the novel. Also, this was before the chick lit revolution.

When I published CAT’S MEOW, I made Cat half-Caucasian and half-Japanese, because I really didn’t feel comfortable writing a main character who was totally white.

But then when I did THE AU PAIRS, which I felt was in the tradition of Sweet Valley High, it was a mainstream book, and two of the main characters are white, as the genre does call for, but I was able to sneak in a hot South American girl, which I was happy about. And now, in SUN KISSED, the newest au pair is a saucy Korean girl (much like many of my friends and readers). I don’t recall any character in the Sweet Valley High series who was even vaguely Asian. Maybe there are some characters now, but not in the 80s when I was reading them.

I’m also loving how Harry Potter had a crush on Cho Chang. Harry has a gook fetish! He’s into the bamboo! He’s a rice queen! LOL. These are just some of the derogatory ways bigots use to explain why people would be attracted to Asian women. I just find them kind of funny. I even wrote an article called “Gook Fetish” when I was younger and angrier about this phenomenon. But I think Harry just thinks Cho is pretty. And in the end, he doesn’t end up with her anyway, not because she is Asian, but because she is whiny. A good reason to dump someone!

I do try to make sure my characters reflect diversity in some way. It is important to me. And I also feel like it doesn’t really matter what race they are since each of my characters reflect a part of me. I’m Filipino/Spanish/Chinese and my husband is Irish/German/Croatian/Ukranian, and we both consider ourselves simply American.

One of our good friends said, when we told them we were excited to see how our kid turns out (will she look Asian? Caucasian?), she said she never even saw race when she looked at us — in fact, she was surprised to realize as we were talking that we WERE from different races, since she considered us just “the same.” Just “Mike and Mel” not white Mike and Filipino Mel. I think that’s what being American is all about isn’t it?

Lunch has arrived. Hooray. And now back to BB2:Masquerade.


New Blue Bloods Fan Board!

Just a few quick things today…

One of my readers, the fabulous Amanda, has started a Blue Bloods fan board! Yay! You can log in, talk about the books, talk about the characters, and my favorite -talk about who you want to see in the movie, if there ever is one. (Hopefully we will have some good news in that front soon!)

As for me, I always imagined Mary Kate Olsen as Schuyler, and Adam Brody as Oliver. It’s hard to cast Jack, since there are so few super-blonde actors (I read somewhere that Hollywood likes dark-haired leading men, blonde was seen as too elitist and would alienate the movie-watching public)–something that led to the disastrous dye job on Tom Cruise when he played Lestat. Anne Rice always said she imagined Rutger Hauer in the role.

I also forgot to add a few fun celeb sightings from last week.

B-List Sighting!!

Last week I was having lunch with my girlfriends at Joan’s On Third, the same deli where I spotted Kirsten Dunst earlier this year. Who was standing in line in front of me? Nick Stahl! The cutie from Terminator: Rise of the Machines, and Carnivale, and the movie where he’s an architecture student who gets killed by the ex-husband of Marisa Tomei, his girlfriend in the movie. I can’t remember the title but it was a good movie. I love when they make movies about architects since my husband is one. (In the movies the architects always make models, which is so funny since making models is a very lowly intern’s job!) Anyway, Nick Stahl, in a gray button-down shirt, dirty jeans, and looking totallllly skinny and cute, with those big blue eyes. Hmm, maybe we could put green-colored contacts in him and he could play Jack? He’s SUCH a hottie. All of us girls just wanted to pet him.

A-List Sighting!!

Last week, Mike and I were having dinner with my dear friend Kim DeMarco (who illustrated my first novel Cat’s Meow and is a cover artist for the New Yorker) at Ita-Cho, a very New York-y Japanese restaurant in L.A. It’s New York-y because it’s all grungy but the food is fabulous, and the clientele is super-snooty entertainment insidery people. It’s not a flashy, in your face place like Koi. And who walks in at 10pm but Leonardo di Caprio and his new girlfriend Bar Rafaeli! Leo was wearing a t-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap pulled down low (a sure sign it’s a celebrity–we non-famous people have no need to wear caps pulled down low over our foreheads). He looked a little chunky. Bar was pouty and pretty and wearing a tank-top and looking all of 17 (she is 20). Leo was feeding her sushi. He was also totally chowing down. There was a frisson in the restaurant when he entered, although since it was a New York-y place, we all pretended not to notice. Although Kim and I kept whispering very loudly to each other: “Leo!” “I know!” “So cool!”

Anyway, that’s it for today. Sign up on the Blue Bloods board! I’ll be logging on too. I have the Blue Bloods sequel due so I won’t be blogging as much in the coming weeks.


Le Cirque du Fab

Sooo many things to blog about! I just got back from spending the Fourth of July with the in-laws. My mom-in-law threw me the loveliest baby shower, and now we have all these baby-related goodies for the new bebe. I also bought the first baby outfit for my child–a fabulous tunic and gold sandals! Yes, it’s a girl!!! We are having a girl!!

We are beyond thrilled…Almost everyone I know said they couldn’t imagine me with a boy, and as for me, I’m just RELIEVED that I will have someone to pass on all the designer handbags, clothes, and shoes to.. because you know, we fashionistas always like to excuse our exorbitant purchases by saying “it’s for my daughter, someday.” Fashion economics!

That is, unless my girl is more like Sapphie from AbFab, who absolutely abhors fashion. Eeks. I love Saph, she’s such a great foil to Edina, and I do kind of want nerdy kids. Hey, nerds rule! I was a nerd. But I also do hope that she likes fashion in some way, otherwise all these Balenciaga bags are going to waste!

I turned in the first draft of ANGELS ON SUNSET BOULEVARD to my editor, and I’m just waiting with bated breath to see what she says… I’m a bit worried about this book, since it’s a little different from my other books. But I have to cast it out of my mind now, because I have to finish up MASQUERADE (ie Blue Bloods 2) at high speed.

It’s been a slow easssing back into the world of the fabulous vampires. Today I did a lot of administrative work, I answered a lot of reader mail, updated my weblist, paid bills.

By the way, thank you to everyone who has emailed! In answer to your questions, Blue Bloods is right now planned as a trilogy, with Masquerade pubbing next March, and Revelations pubbing March ’08. I planned it as a six-book series (two trilogies) so hopefully the books do well enough so that I can do the arc I had laid out in my mega-outline. I also have already written an outline for a fabulously tragic prequel, about Charles and Allegra’s past. (Oooh, it’s sooo good!!) Which makes it nine books in all. But these are author’s dreams, who knows if they will let me pub all of them?

As for THE AU PAIRS, we will have some good news on Book Four and the TV show very soon. Yes, I believe there is actually going to be an AU PAIRS 4 after all. Due to reader demand! I promise to update everyone as soon as everything is official!

I have been reading a lot of FOOD memoirs lately. On the plane, I read Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires, about the time she was the NY Times Food Critic. And Jane and Michael Stern’s Two for the Road, about their adventures traveling the country eating good, down-home American food. Both were delicious reads. The Reichl book opens with her experience at Le Cirque. The first as an unknown tourist, and later as the powerful NY Times restaurant critic.

She realizes that one’s experience at Le Cirque depends on who you are, she was treated shabbily as a nobody, and spectacularly as a somebody (Even the raspberries on the tarts were bigger, she says.)

I’ve only been to Le Cirque twice in my life, and both times were magical. The first time was when I was 23, and my company was celebrating Christmas with a Christmas dinner at Le Cirque. I worked for a very small computer consulting company run by an eccentric and affable millionaire, Mr. Desmond. The company was based in Boston, but we were all assigned in New York, and Mr. Desmond invited his three new hires to celebrate the season with him and our boss (the VP) at the restaurant. We were all SO excited to eat there, we’d heard about it (from the NY Times review!) and we were prepared for the worst. After all, who were we but a bunch of computer nerds?

The reservation was at 6:00, that’s how “nobody” we were. There were only five of us at the table, and we were there until MIDNIGHT. We started with cocktails, moved on to wine, then after-dinner cockails…and after-after dinner cocktails…I can’t remember ever being so drunk and having SO much fun. The food was amazing, although I don’t even remember what I ate — although I do remember sharing a plate of sweetbreads (ie cow brains) and feeling very sophisti-ma-cated.

The highlight of the evening was Mr. Desmond handing us our Christmas bonuses, which I stuffed into my purse, and at the earliest opportunity, ran to the bathroom, ripped open the envelope, and yelped. Ten Thousand Dollars!! It was the most money next to my name I had ever seen. I IMMEDIATELY called my parents (from the bathroom stall) to tell them my happy news.

The other highlight was seeing the Victoria’s Secret model Frederique van der Wahl and Barbara Walters (not at the same table) eating in the restaurant. It was my first experience with bold-faced dining, and the food, the wine, the bonus, made for a very happy Christmas indeed. I think we ordered so much booze, they actually gave us extra desserts–and I also remember those lovely petit fours AFTER dessert, which seemed SO decadent. Dessert after dessert? And also I remember seeing Sirio Maccioni eating from untouched petit four plates that had been cleared from other tables. Kind of gross, but also kind of endearing.

The other time I ate at Le Cirque was for one of me and Mike’s anniversaries. I don’t remember if it was our “first date” anniversary or if we were married by then. But I do remember seeing Bill Clinton (the guy was ALL around New York after his presidency) dining at one of the tables. And Mike still raves about the absolutely perfect mashed potatoes they gave us. His eyes glaze over with fond nostalgia. I mean, this is why one goes out to eat right?? And we were total nobodies–our reservation was at 9 PM. I mean, seriously. But it was still awesome.

Anyway, it was fun to read Ruth Reichl’s book and remember all that…there’s nothing like a fabulous New York restaurant…

And now, back to the Blue Blood-suckers!


Shopping Rampage

I realize I haven’t blogged about shopping in a while, but my dears, it has been shopping rampage here… ever since I outgrew my normal clothes, I have discovered the wonderful world of maternity clothes. And I love that I’m so trendy because with all the baby bumps right now, maternity clothes are the “cutest” they have ever been, and everyone wants to be “Angelina Jolie pregnant” according to the New York Times Style section.

Well, not so sure about THAT. I haven’t been able to find the Theory maternity line, which supposedly exists. And the Barneys in L.A. does NOT have a Procreation section, like the one in New York. SHAME, Barneys L.A.!

But I did find some nice things at babystyle, which is in Santa Monica. It was fun to be there with all the other pregnant ladies. We were all rubbing our bellies and cooing over the clothes–which were stylish and comfortable and not too expensive. I spent about $500 on an entire wardrobe-a pair of pants, a dressy dress, four t-shirts, shorts, dressy shirt. When you consider one Marni shirt is about $350, maternity clothes are a real bargain!

Then I hit the GAP and Old Navy, which my fashion editor friends advised me to do. (All the NY fashion chicks wear Old Navy maternity, how awesome is that? See, fashionistas are not snobby!) The GAP had some cute shorts, peasant tops, and sweaters. I bought a bunch for about $350. When nothing fits, you need to buy EVERYTHING! And at Old Navy I spent about $150 on some cute summery cotton tops and a maternity swimsuit which was actually really cute and only $25!

But I kind of felt like everything I owned that was maternity was way too casual and I needed a little bit of fabulosity, so I hit Cadeau, a really chic maternity line. They were having a sale! And I bought two really cute cotton shirts that look very Marc Jacobs for $75 each. I need to go back there and re-assess what else I need, Mike was with me that day and he was impatient to get going.

I had thought I would be able to ace my pregnancy by wearing a TON of Marni flowy shirts (which I stocked up on for this reason) but ALAS, it turns out that it is not to be. The Marni shirts, while roomy, are too short to cover the belly. You end up looking a bit weird, with the shirt not quite covering your belly band on the pants. The maternity tops are roomy and long, and go over the entire belly, which is nice.

To celebrate my new wardrobe, I also bought three pairs or shoes–fabulous Giussepe Zanotti cream and silver bejewelled sandals ($280 from $655), silver Marc Jacobs platform sandals ($93 from $250) and Miss Trish of Capri bejewelled thongs (Miss Trish of Capri was Jackie O’s flip-flop of choice) $255 from $555. And a delicious Mulberry bag, the one with the buckle in the front. ($1200) in creamy mocha brown. I have been angsting for this bag since last season, and I finally decided to get it.

For the first two weeks when I bought it, Mike didn’t notice at all. (He always tries to “control” the shopping–BWAHAHAHA.) Then finally the other day he was like, “HEY, I’ve never seen THAT bag before.” And I had to fess up. Our new rule is that I don’t lie to Mike about how much fashion costs anymore. I had passed off my Chloe bag as a mere “four hundred dollar expense” last season. (If he ONLY knew!!) but this time I gave it to him straight–twelve hundred dollars. Thirteen hundred with tax. He looked like he was going to faint, but then he nodded. “Well, at least you’re honest.” (Let’s just say that episode on Big Love where Chloe Sevigny hides $60,000 worth of shopping from her husband? Yeah, that happened in my house earlier this year. And that figure is not too far off from mine.) But like Chloe, I am now debt-free and on a budget.

So now I’ve been in a fashion-new-clothes-high which has made me excited to pamper and beautify again—for the first three months I just staggered around the apartment looking HIDEOUS in sweats, but now that I feel good and have all these fun new clothes, I am tripping out the door in my cute new outfits and making lunch plans with the girls and dinner plans with friends.

And that’s probably all the shopping I’ll do for the next five months (FAMOUS LAST WORDS). But seriously, when you factor in how much I spent, and how long I will use it, it’s like a Marni shirt every month! Which is nothing! When I was a teenager my measure of currency was a record album. “That’s only two record albums!” – which meant thirty dollars. Now the measure is a Marni shirt… as in, that car is only four Marni shirts a month!

The other day we also saw “An Inconvenient Truth” — I urge you all to go see it. And so now Mike and I have to figure out how we can help save the environment, a cause, I’d have to admit, I never really cared much for. I always thought it was just a bunch of hippie bullshit. But now I have seen the light. We are going to buy a hybrid car instead of a BMW X5 (which I had been planning to get, after deciding the Range Rover was too showy). But now it’s going to be Prius all the way. And Mike is doing a lot of solar and alternative energy designs in the houses he is building, which is very cool. And we’re going to recycle more and all that jazz. I like to think I help the recycling effort because when I am tired of my clothes I give them away to friends and my sister and they get so much use out of them…

I’m also looking forward to seeing The Devil Wears Prada, although I agree with the Times assessment that the fashion in the movie is OFF. If you ever get a chance to go inside Four Times Square, the Conde Nast building, you will see how gorgeous and absurdly fabulous everyone really is–one of the highlights of my day when I worked there was how fun it was to go to the cafeteria and see everyone’s outfits–it was total Girlworld.

You know, some people who are still there or used to work there are going to crinkle their nose at this, the proper pose is to COMPLAIN about how nasty all the up-and-down assesment is, but when I was there, I dressed to the NINES, my friends, and I ALWAYS found the atmosphere fun and hilarious instead of frighteningly cold. It was like a fantasy, and I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. I think that’s why I didn’t last too long at Conde. Although when I left, the managing editor sighed, “Your presentation was perfect. You totally look the part.” Which I still treasure as one of the nicest compliments ever given me. I was a total geeky financial aid scholarship student in high school, and to be told I had the looks of the glamorous Conde Nast girl–WELL. That’s enough redemption for me!

I’m in a REALLY good mood today because today is the day I am finally turning in my book. I think I rocked it, and I’m going to go over it one last time and then send it off to my editor as a July 4th present. Yay!

Have a Happy Independence Day Everyone!

It’s All About being an Old Mom

Feeling much better about the book today. It’s always up and down with me. But I do think I’ll be able to shoot this off to my editor before the holidays are upon us.

In other non-book-writing news, we find out the sex of the baby on Thursday! We are sooooo excited. It’s amazing how pregnancy, fertility, are THE defining issues of my 30s, many of my friends are either having their first kids, or are stressing about IVFs and hormone treatments right now. All of us career gals who have decided that the mid-30s are the perfect time to procreate.

I had a miscarraige last year, and it was truly one of the saddest times of my entire life. I didn’t think I could ever be that sad. The only thing that helped was just to take three months and cry. I also listened to a lot of Arcade Fire’s Funeral, I read in the New Yorker that they made the album after everyone in the band had experienced a death in the family, including several miscarraiges, and listening to their music was part of the grieving process for me. I really think being able to articulate that kind of emotion in art was so healing, I just felt that listening to that record, that they knew EXACTLY what I was going through. It made it OK to just spend hours in the car, listening to the music, driving and crying.

Anyway, I also read this book Sarah Dunn’s Big Love (which is really great–you all should buy it and read it), and in it, the character (who is in her mid-30s and unmarried) says “I hate when people tell me, you don’t want to be an old mom! There’s nothing more I want to be than to be an old mom!” Yeah, old moms rule!

It was just reported in the news that if you have your kids before you are 25, there’s a better chance of them living until they are 100. I mean, who wants to live until you’re a 100?? For fifty years of that, you are OLD.

I can’t imagine having a kid when I was 25, or 27 or even 29. Mike and I met when I was 25, and I didn’t get published until I was 25. My first book sold when I was 27. I can’t imagine doing all that with a baby. Also, absolutely no one we knew in New York had children or got married at that age. It just seemed absolutely ridiculous. We got married when I was 31, and decided to start “trying” when I was 33.

Of course, when we finally got pregnant (I’ll be 35 when the baby is born) the doctor showed us this chart of the possibilities of birth defects and your chances go WAAAY down once you hit your 30s. I talked to my friends and we all were saying, “If we KNEW when we were in our 20s that this is what would happen in our 30s, maybe we would have gotten married earlier and had kids.”

But now I think it was just a knee-jerk reaction. I’m glad we waited. We’re so much more mature now. Mike and I used to fight a lot. We grew up together. And we had a LOT of fun in New York together.

I remember one night, we came back from some swaaanky party and dinner at Gramercy Tavern, where the guests had included Bill Clinton and um, Michael Bolton, and we were just so high from having this awesome New York night, when it felt like we were in the white-hot center of the world, and everyone was so glamorous and charming, and we just danced out of the cab and ran up to our apartment building, and we looked at each other and said, “God, we have a great life.”

And you know, there was no room for a baby back then. We lived in a 600 sq foot apartment in a brownstone, and we went out a lot. I actually got so tired of having such a frenetic social life that I was looking forward to a slower-paced life in Los Angeles.

So, even though we are beyond thrilled about the coming of the babe, I’m also glad we lived it up when we were younger, spent ALL our money on fancy restaurants, designer clothes and five-star vacations and had no thought to the future whatsoever.

One of my favorite parts of Joan Didion’s The Book of Magical Thinking, is how she wrote that she and her husband would always face a financial crisis by flying to Hawaii and checking into a suite at the Four Seasons. Love that!

I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs lately–I read Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone and Comfort me with Apples, both were excellent, and I can’t wait to try some of the recipes. And the other one was Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike, which we had bought for my dad when he got cancer. (My dad found it really inspiring. He always quotes from “The Book of Lance” now.) I was really surprised how good It’s Not About the Bike was. Really well-written and the story is beyond compelling. (I thought it would be some cheesy sports-tear-jerker.) Lance was just on The Daily Show last night and he was hilarious.

Some of my readers have written in saying that they love my books because they don’t talk down to teens, or condescend to kids. I’m pleased, because in my mind, I don’t really write “for” teens, I just write the stories I want to write, and it just so happens they fall in the teen market, and I feel like a teenager a lot of the time. So I really feel like I am writing for my peers. Like Harry Potter, which does not seem like a kid’s book at all. It’s just a book.

I hate reading books that are so obviously “written” for kids. Blech. You can always tell, and it’s soooo annoying. I won’t name books but you know what I’m talking about.


PS- After Britney’s hilarious misuse of air quotes in her Dateline interview, I’m worried I’ve misued scare quotes in the last sentence. Hmmm. Brit, I feel your pain!

Pushing It

feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. How hard is this book? I think this is the hardest one I have had to write. I was about to send it to my editor yesterday, but before I did, I re-read it, I was apalled. There was no story. There were words, there were pages, but there was no plot! That’s what I get for not sticking to the outline.

In my defense, the outline I had written was not working. So I had to chuck it. I think the story is working now. I basically rewrote the whole thing in the past two days, and thankfully, I realized it just needed a bunch of little tweaks here and there, to make the story emerge from all that rubble/rubbish.

One of my editors always says writing is a process. It really is. As you work on it, you find out more stuff about the story, more stuff about what the book is all about. But there’s so much craft to it too–all those cliffhangers and foreshadowing stuff you have to put in, and then a really neat explanation at the end for everything so it all makes sense. But you also have to make sure your characters are interesting and likeable and believable the whole way.

It’s fun, sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it sucks. I think I’ve stripped away the garbage now–and have polished the diamond in the rough. I really tried to push very hard with this book, and I hope it was worth it.

I guess I’ll find out soon enough!


Close, but no Cigar

You know you think you’re done with writing a book when you get a lot of pages stacked up on your desk. Ooh, you think. That looks HEFTY. Nice. But then you read through it and you realize, shit, that DOES NOT make sense. Or where the hell did THAT come from? And then you realize you have to go back and put in, oh, about three or four more chapters and shade in a couple more things so that the ending is SATISFYING.

Agatha Christie said that she would always think she was done, but then the book would be too short, so she’d have to go back “and put another murder or a kiss in”. I like how practical she was. Very unsentimental about her work. Story stuck? Kill off someone! Or make someone kiss someone else! Sure to move it along. (And by golly, it really does.)

So here I am, with ANGELS, so close to the finish line, but there are a couple more things I need to put in. When I first envisioned the book, I thought it would be like a “Great Gatsby” meets “The Outsiders”. Now it is “The Great Gatsby” meets “The Outsiders” meets “The Matrix”. If that makes any sense at all. The Great Gatsby because there is a shadowy figure who reinvented himself from a junior high nerd into the coolest party thrower in Beverly Hills, “The Outsiders” because the protagonist is a cool, skater girl from the wrong side of the tracks (ie, the Hollywood Flats) who meets a cute preppie boy from Bel-Air, and the Matrix because…well…there is an EXPLANATION for why the world is as it is. Or at least in my book, the web, Los Angeles, fame, money, cliques.

One of my favorite lines to describe a book is Paul Rudnick who said his first novel Social Disease was about “hair, sex, and the telephone.”

Anyway, I did promise my editor I would get it in on Monday, and I have to get this out of the way so I can finish Blue Bloods 2 Masquerade, so I should log off now.

Happy Weekend Everyone!

While the Book Prints…

I am sitting here as my book prints out on the HP InkJet. No, it is not yet done, my friends. But it is CLOSE. So close I can taste the triumphant email I’ll send to my editor with the words, “here it is! enjoy!”. But alas, not yet.

I thought it would be done by Friday, it is not. I thought, Monday at the latest. Monday came and went. I’m terrible at diagnosing a deadline. And my other problem is that I have another deadline loooooming right after it. Once I put ANGELS to bed, I have BLUE BLOODS MASQUERADE to whip into shape.

The great thing about being so busy is that I don’t have any time to think of anything but the books, so I don’t have to worry and obsess about the reviews or responses to the books I have out right now, because I am all wrapped up in the books that are coming out next year.

This is probably the fifth draft I’ve printed–I always do a big print out to see the book as a whole. Right now my problem is structure, plot and pacing. I worry about the descriptions and details later. As Ernest Hemmingway said, a novel is architecture, not interior design. It’s got to have a solid foundation before I can add all the frippery.

I’m afraid it’s still a tad wobbly in spots, so I’m printing it out again so I can see where I can put in another steel column to hold it up.

Like Blue Bloods, this one starts off all slow and mysterious and then ends in several hairpin turns. But I’m hoping I haven’t driven this book off a cliff…

In between waiting for my book to print, I have been reading Toby Young’s The Sound of No Hands Clapping. This book is HILARIOUS. His first one was awesome, and this one is great as well–so dishy (I love that he tells us how much his option for the film was ($70,000), and what “Nick Hornbyesque option money” means – 2.5 million dollars, to those who haven’t read the book). I love money dish. It’s so rare to know exactly how much writers really earn, and I really appreciate a writer who talks about it honestly.

Toby also tells us that the amount of writers who earn money ONLY from writing books is in “the low 200s”. I pinch myself because I am in that number. I don’t write magazine articles anymore asking men to wear their penis size on their t-shirts (A true story I did for Marie Claire) nor do I have to goad celebrities into doing interviews with me (when I was the celeb columnist for Rosie). All I do is write books, all the money I make is from books.

Money to buy the new house, money to buy cars, money to buy food, money to shop at Barneys, money that keeps our life going, and to pay for all the kinds of insurance we need. Money so that Mike could quit his job and start his architectural practice. All from the books.


The pages are done printing, so it’s back to ANGELS I must go…