Monthly Archives: May 2006

Campus Couture, and Life Begins at Thirty

Last Friday, one of my MySpace friends, the fabulous Abbi Klausner, invited me to be a judge at her school’s yearly student fashion show, “Campus Couture” at CalState Long Beach. I was so flattered and tickled by this invitation–a little Project Runway action of my own! My husband and my parents accompanied me for my big Nina Garcia debut.

I am 34 years old, and yet my parents still come to all my events–just like when I was eight years old. How funny is that? Again, I think I’m just really lucky. I had the kind of parents who came to every talent show and school participation activity. (I didn’t play any sports but if I did, I’m sure they would be there since we were there for ALL of my brother’s games when he was kid.) Sometimes, my mom was the only mom there because all the other moms were at work. But my mom worked too–so I don’t know how she did it, maybe she just had more time off?

Anyway, I can’t imagine what life would be like without the support of my parents. They truly have always been there for me–at every reading, every book party. One of my friends said she cannot imagine life without her doting parents, because she still very much feels like a kid–taken care of, financially and emotionally, by them (even though she is married). I’m the same way. My husband says that my parents baby all of us kids (there are three of us) and he’s right. But we wouldn’t have it any other way…

The show was really fun–they made a runway right on the stage, and the judges were in the front row. The other judges were designers from Coach and Rock and Republic, and Michelle K. from Michelle K. shoes. We had to judge “computer designed pattern” and “flat pattern” and “experimental.” At first, I got really flustered because it was hard to keep track of which outfits I really liked, but I soon got the hang of it.

I realized the thing I was looking for most was some kind of flair, some kind of originality, and a really good eye for color. There was some great stuff on show, the kids really outdid themselves, there were a couple of outfits that looked like they could go head-to-head with the best of Chloe. And I was so happy when my favorite designer, Stephen Cateron won “Best in Show”. He made these gorgeous black chiffon dresses that were just exquisite. They really stood out, and I predict a great future in fashion for him.

My mom said she really enjoyed the show too, because she is a dressmaker. When I was in college, she sewed all of my cool black velvet shift dresses. I wore those dresses TO DEATH. We didn’t have much money, so mom would fill out my wardrobe by copying the dresses that I wanted to buy and making them herself.

Sometimes I feel like my childhood came out of the 19th century. It was very “Little Woman”, and I was Meg at Vanity Fair with my home-made dress. At the time, I hid the fact that my mom made my clothes from everyone, even my close friends.

One of the things I’ve noticed about going to an expensive Ivy League college, is that the kids either come from extremely wealthy parents who can afford the 45k a year (now I hear it’s more like 60k a year) tuition without batting an eyelash, versus kids like me who were on huge financial aid scholarships. There were very few middle-class kids. It always seemed it was either we’re-all-jetting-to-St-Barth’s-this-weekend crowd or I’m-on-workstudy. There was no middle ground.

When you’re a teen, it’s really hard to feel secure about yourself when so many things that you have no control over–like how much money your family has–matters so much to your peers. So I always said that I’d bought my dresses just like everyone else. And those clothes got me into Au Bar (this totally snooty private club in NY) and all the best places… But now I’m so proud of them, and of my mom for making such beautiful clothes all by herself on her sewing machine…

I guess that’s the best thing about growing up–you start to make your own money, you don’t have to hang out with people you don’t like, your life is your own, no one else can tell you what to do. As I’ve grown up, I have become really PROUD of my background, and how my family dealt with it… I wouldn’t exchange it for anything else. And I look back now, on the despearately-wanting-to-be-glamorous-and-popular girl I was, and I forgive her too… she had no idea that one day all of her dreams would come true, and more!

Anyway, it’s really hard to accept yourself at thirteen, fifteen, nineteen…but here’s the secret to life: thirty is really really awesome. Just like that Jennifer Garner movie. I promise.


SUN-KISSED is Shipping! From and B&!

Got a nice surprise today–found out that the third Au Pairs book, SUN-KISSED is now shipping from Amazon and B&! Wow! The book isn’t supposed to be out until June 1st, but I guess they got early copies and are now sending them out. I haven’t seen copies in the stores yet, so if you want an early copy of the book, order from Amazon or B&N!

Yesterday I felt soo dead, I was in New York for five days, and I had post-partum New York depression. The city was my home for 15 years, and though I go back every other month or so, visiting five or six times a year isn’t enough to get my New York fill. We decided to move to Los Angeles two years ago when we found out my dad had cancer.

It wasn’t a hard decision at all–we found out in June, and by October, we were in L.A. Nothing is more important than family, and even though I had SWORN up and down I would never leave New York, that I would raise my kids there, that I was a New Yorker through-and-through, when it came down to it, my heart was elsewhere. Our move was such a blur–and back then, when people asked me what I would miss most about the city, I always answered, “Everything.” And that’s still true…

Mike and I know we will be back one day, at least, we are hoping to buy a little apartment in Manhattan that we can always call home. Don’t get us wrong, we love our hotel life, but having a NY address matters a lot to me.

It’s funny because the things I miss most about New York are such little things–like the cheap egg-and-ham breakfast sandwiches at the corner deli (which you CANNOT find in L.A. – corner deli, what’s that?), rice and beans from La Rosita, the Cuban restaurant up in our old neighborhood, the Chinese food from Ollie’s — my sister said, you traveled all the way to New York to eat at Ollie’s? Yes, I did.

The cheap Chinese food here in L.A. sucks!! There is really great authentic Chinese food in Pasadena, Arcadia, Monterey–but they are thirty to forty-five minutes from Hollywood. I also missed how I got to know everyone on our business block (we lived on 101st on Riverside, and I did all my dry-cleaning, deli-shopping, newspaper-buying, etc on Broadway b/w 101st and 102nd)–I would literally walk down that little stretch and wave to everyone from the Korean dry cleaner to Jerusalem Gyro. It was like living in Sesame Street.

I was in SUCH a good mood while we were in the city, even though we were there for such a short time. On Monday, I was part of a panel of “Three Extraordinary Columbia Writers” for the Columbia College Women’s Alumni Group. I spoke about writing with fellow CC grads Jennifer Anglade, whose novel is Uptown and Down, and Tova Mirvis, author of The Ladies’ Auxiliary. It was really fun to go back and be on a panel at my old school, and we had a great crowd of students and alumni.

One of the questions I was asked was how do I work, and I kind of gave this rambling answer of how when I was at college, I was a procrastinator, and I have taken that lovely habit with me into the publishing world. Nothing gets done until the VERY last minute. Blue Bloods, for example–it was a hard book to write because I was really worried about the ending, and for the longest time while I was writing it, I was in a fog as to how the book would shape up. I remember EXACTLY when it all crystallized. I had 48 hours to deliver the final draft, and in those 48 hours, I figured out the book and sweated it out and finished it. It was crazy. And even then, after we published the galley, I still had to rewrite the book 24 hours before turning in the third-pass proofs–which is why there are 20 more pages in the final book than the galley.

So, I guess what I am saying is, if you are writing a book and it still is not clear, and you have 300 pages, DO NOT WORRY. It happens to the best of us, and it will come to you at the end.

It was really fun to chat about writing with other writers, thanks to Elena Cabral CC93 for inviting me! And check out Jennifer and Tova’s books – you will enjoy them!

The next night was the big PARTY. Oh. My. God. It was awesome!! I wore my Sass and Bide tunic, my skinny jeans, and these blinged-out South Sea pearls with diamonds that my mom bought me for Christmas (I’m such a lucky gal). And I also wore a little black jacket over the tunic. We had about three hundred people, or more–I know we had three hundred gift bags, and they are all gone, so we must have had that much…

My folks at S&S wore pink “Celebrate” Sun-Kissed t-shirts in the same font as the invitation, and my folks at Hyperion wore black with pearl necklaces for Blue Bloods appeal. Lexi Lehman and Kelly Brady from Lizzie Grubman PR made sure we had tons of fabulous teenagers there, as well as great press. And a few of my readers emailed me to say they came to the party, but were too shy to say hello. No worries! I’m TOTALLY the same way. Everyone did such a great job, the club, CRUSH, was such a hot space, and the music was getting everyone up on the dancefloor. It was also so great to see all of my friends there–another HUGE reason I miss New York–it felt so much like being home.

We had makeovers from the fab folks at Daniel McFadden, and shopping at Shop Caravan, which everyone enjoyed. There was a bit of a snag, sadly, with the fashion show which didn’t happen (don’t all fashion shows have drama?), the pink carpet (our um, sponsor, ElleGirl, their magazine got folded, and well, no more pink carpet for us!), and the blow outs (the electrical outlets did not work). It was kind of like a wedding in that way–you know, some things just aren’t going to happen–and it was totally fine. Next time, we’ll just be more prepared, although really, you can’t predict when your magazine is going to get killed, can you?

But the goodie bags were stuffed to the brim! Everyone loved their Paris Hilton cellphone holders (which a friend said were “surprisingly really chic!”), donna l’oren sexy camisoles, Prive hair products, Tarte liplgosses, ELF makeup, Ferragamo Dream Incanto perfume and copies of Sun-Kissed, Blue Bloods and paperback Skinny-Dipping.

For me, it was a whirlwind. I get really high at events like these, and I even did a little interview for a documentary that was being filmed at the party for two teens who attended. (I’ll let you know when it airs, and if I’m still in it!) I have published eight books now, and each of my books has been celebrated with at least one party (our How to be Famous book had six parties I think). I think I get the celebration gene from my grandmother and my mom, both of whom believe in always making a big deal of everyone’s birthday and graduation.

I remember my fifth birthday party was in the family compound in Manila, and there were carnival rides, huge pinatas, hundreds of people, and I was decked out in a pink ruffled dress down to my ankles, with a matching pink parasol I twirled around. Talk about being a princess! So really, having grown up like that, how can I *not* have a party for my books?

I’m still waiting for the pictures on the disk from our photographer, and once I have those, I’ll post them.

Tonight I have another fun event–I’m judging a student fashion show at Long Beach State! I was invited by a MySpace friend, and I’m sooo excited to have a Project Runway experience! I promise I will be as fair as Nina Garcia! 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!

Party Pics!

I’m still sooo jetlagged and will blog more about my NY trip and the faaaaabulous party when my head clears… but for now, check out some fun pics from the event!

It’s on and here is the direct link to the pics:

We had such a great time, we had so many of you fab teens there! And you can see pics of my husband Mike, my brother Francis, my editor at S&S Emily, my publisher at Hyperion Brenda, and the cool rapper Kulcha Don and a hot new band with very cute members…

More soon, I promise! I’ll also have the pics posted here and on my website once I get the disc from Patrick’s office!


More New Books!

Yesterday I got two new presents in the mail–copies of the final, hardbound SUN-KISSED, and galley copies of MISTLETOE.

I love the cover of SUN-KISSED, I like to think of the girl on the cover is Jacqui and one of the hot new boys she meets this summer. (I think the one on the cover is Duffy, who is blond.) I had SUCH a fun time writing the book, and when I re-read it last night (which I do with all my books that I get final copies of), I was transported back to…no, not the Hamptons, but all the nights I spent right in front of my computer, conjuring up all that fun. And reading bits aloud to my husband–he helped a lot with the three new guys, and all their goofy jokes. And a huge debt to the guys at, who inspired them.

Last night I also TORE through MISTLETOE, which has four holiday romance stories from four fab YA writers (moi included). I absolutely LOVED each story–Aimee Friedman’s is soo cute–about finding love in an unexpected place, as is Hailey Abbot’s (which is also about how college changes friends–very right-on, I thought) and Nina Malkin’s story is so hot and sexy! The book comes out in October and I like to think that the kids on the cover are Brenden and Kelsey from my own story, The Christmas Choos.

I also made a great deal of progess on the first 30 pgs I’m showing my editor on Blue Bloods 2: Masquerade. I always try to do a major polish before I show any of my work to anyone, but I’m really pleased with how it’s looking right now. (Ah, brave last words!) One of the things I was struggling with writing the sequel was that I felt I had put SO MUCH effort into making the first book great, I was really, really worried I had nothing left for Book Two. Like my brain was drained. But it’s been almost a year since I turned in Book 1, and in that year, my brain has thankfully come back to life (at least for Blue Bloods purposes!) and I’m so into the story again. PHEW!

When the writing is going well, everything else seems to fall into place. I notice I’ve been sleeping better since feeling better about the book. There are so many nights I just toss and turn because I was so worried about how I couldn’t get the story going. But now I’m so energized and sleep like a baby. Thank God!!

For those going to the book party–see you next week! And for everyone else, I’ll have the full recap when I return!


Happy Blue Bloods Publication Day!

Actually, Blue Bloods’ publication day was yesterday. But it STILL wasn’t shipping from Amazon. Thankfully, it is now! Have you ordered your copy yet? 🙂

Right now I am madly trying to polish the first 30 pages of Blue Bloods Two for my editor (a progress report) before we meet for lunch next Monday.

And I thought I would take the time to answer some questions readers have been sending in:

-When does Blue Bloods 2 come out?
-Right now it is scheduled for April 2007. I know, a whole year away. I’m sorry! It just takes a long time for me to write the Blue Bloods books, and my publisher needs at least ten months (they prefer a year) for marketing and pre-sales. But I promise it is worth the wait!

-When does Au Pairs: Sun-Kissed come out?
-June 1, 2006 is the official publication date, but it will probably be in stores a week or two before then.

-Is there an Au Pairs 4?
-Right now, no. I have no plans to continue the series for now. I know, I know. But I am working on a HOT new series called SOCIAL LIFE, which is coming out next summer, and it’s about three girls who zoom around the world in a private jet, and their adventures on the “international social calendar”–you know, the one that says one *must* spend New Year’s in Aspen, Spring in St. Barth’s, July in St. Tropez, and Christmas in Palm Beach. 🙂 It’s going to have all the fun, shopping, hot boys, scandal, gossip, social-climbing and intrigue as the Au Pairs, but with a new cast of characters I *know* you will love. Also, this is going to be a paperback series–I know a lot of you guys have emailed me saying you love to buy my books but hardcovers are expensive–we listened! And this one is coming out in paperback. Yay!

-What is Angels on Sunset Boulevard about?
-This book is about a cute tomboy girl from the Hollywood Flats, and a handsome preppie boy from Bel-Air, who discover a secret cult in Los Angeles that is exploiting and manipulating teens in the city. There’s a lot of L.A. club hopping, crazy parties, sexy drama and West Coast adventure! It comes out this December. Yay.

And in other news..

WOW. The Kaavya plagiarism story just keeps going doesn’t it? I am so curious to see what Meg Cabot says about it in her blog (which I am addicted to). She has such a great, funny take on the whole situation.

I’m also a little annoyed with all the chick-lit slamming going on in the Kaavya coverage. There is this conception on the part of the “serious” writers of the world that chick-lit is something anyone can do in their sleep. I’m sorry, but it is REALLY hard to be funny and entertaining. It is a craft, like anything else. It requires work. But it is ALSO a lot of fun. I can’t tell you how many times I sit at my computer and just GIGGLE because the scene I am writing strikes me as so funny.

For instance, in Sun-Kissed, I describe Mara’s high school graduation where the class had to sing the Class Song, “Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson” because their real choice “American Idiot by Green Day” was banned by the administration. Can you just imagine a class full of seniors half-heartedly singing the lyrics to “Breakaway”? How FUNNY is that??? When they really wanted to sing American Idiot?? LOL.

I also have to share that when my friend Jennie (my best friend from college) read the book and came upon this sentence, she GUFFAWED and yelled across the room, “They SANG Breakaway?? That is hilarous!!”

Don’t worry, I’m a huge fan of Kelly Clarkson and mean no offense. But you know, the whole “Class Song” deal is kind of ridiculous… We had to sing the Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire at my graduation. “We laughed, until we had to cry, we loved, until we said good-bye.” Blecch!

And the whole scene is inspired by my husband’s story that for his eighth grade graduation, they had to sing “Greatest Love of All” after their real choice, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was banned by the administration. The funny thing is, Mike said that after the class voted on Bohemian Rhapsody, the music teacher went out and bought the music so they could all practice. (The teachers had never heard of the song.) But once they saw the lyrics, which open with “Mamma, I killed a man, put a gun against his head, pulled the trigger, now he’s dead”–they immediately put the kibbosh on it.

What strikes me as so funny about this story is that the schools always GIVE you a choice– a vote–democracy!–but when the real voice of the American teen is heard–Bohemian Rhapsody please! American Idiot!–they SQUASH it and make the kids sing some asinine song instead.

Although at my high school, the sad story is that all the popular girls CHOSE the St. Elmo’s Fire theme and made us all vote for it. And like sad little sheep, we did…

Oh well, at least it makes for a good scene in a book. See, it’s just one sentence, but there is so much HISTORY behind it. 🙂

Ok, back to work or my editor will have my ass.