Monthly Archives: September 2006

The Real Joy of Vacations (Itโ€™s all in the Free Toiletries!)

So it’s our second to last day here at the Parker Palm Springs a truly fabulous hotel designed by Jonathan Adler, husband of my fabulous friend Simon Doonan (he of Wacky Chicks and Nasty and Barneys fame, Jonathan of superchic pottery fame). It’s just sooo lovely. The landscaping, the grounds, the little fire pits where you can sit at night and have a drink (non-alki for prego me sadly), the two pools, the decor–which is happy, campy, native, chic, modern and awesome…the SPA! which is ironically called “the Palm Springs Yacht Club” – hello, there is no water here – it’s all desert!–where I had the best facial and massage…it’s just been a great langorous, lazy week, (although I did have to do a smidgen of work on the anthology, thanks to Tom for holding the fort!). I finished Jen Weiner’s The Guy Not Taken and Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children, both excellent. I was particularly obsessed with Messud’s book, since it touched upon the lives of people who sounded a lot like people I know, or met in college, that whole aspiring, lost, ambitious Ivy League bunch…I got really caught up in it, and at one point said to my husband, “I love this book but right now ALL THE CHARACTERS ARE SO UNLIKABLE I just want to throw it across the room.”

Which I guess is the point of it, that they are complex, complicated people…my favorite character was the one we were all supposed to despise (or at least, several characters despise), the old liberal intellecutal, who is a moral paragon in public but is carrying on an adulterous affair in private, and is supposed to be a hypocrite. Why did I feel so sympathetic towards him? The creepy nephew in my opinion, deserved all the scorn he got… basically the plot is that this hick nephew invades the ivory tower world of the intellectual (his uncle) but then finds out his uncle is just human, and somewhat shallow, so he writes this screed against him…which he tries to get published in a “revolutinary” new “satricial” magazine. Of course, the uncle throws him out. His uncle had taken him in, fed him, helped him get a job, get landed in New York, and that’s what he gets in return? In my world, family first, before everything. So my favorite chapter by far was when the uncle throws his nephew’s sad fat ass on the street. Good riddance!

Anyway, I also found it kind of apalling that the intellectual did not put family first in the question of his daughter’s book, he bascially tells his girl that it’s crap and she shouldn’t publish it because it’s so trivial. I can forgive the affair, the shallowness, but to say that to your kid???

Obviously, I got WAY WAY WAY into this book. It’s like this New York soap opera that I got really into. I highly highly recommend it. Not sure if it would appeal to my teen readers, sometimes I think you need to live a little to really understand some books (for instance, I never really understood Catcher in The Rye until I was in my twenties. I had read it in high school and liked it, but never really got it. That’s why it’s good to re-read books. You get so much out of the same book at different points in your life.) You can tell a reader from a non-reader because a reader, re-reads.

But what I really wanted to blog about was how staying at this fabu hotel, the GREATEST JOY IN STAYING HERE is the TOILETRIES they RE-STOCK every day. Ok, this is so embarassing, but in the past week, I have amassed enough HERMES hand soap to stock our guest bathroom for years. Every day, when we come back to the room, and there’s another beautiful pile of Blistex lip balm, Peter Thomas Roth sunscreen, Hermes soap, L’Occitane soap, Penthagalion shampoo and conditioner and Erno Laszlo body lotion, I am in HEAVEN. I hoard them in my luggage, and do a little happy dance as I put them away. Yes, I know, it’s all part of the cost of staying here, but it SEEMS like it’s FREE. And there’s nothing I adore more than swag. Seriously, this vacation is worth it for the toiletries alone.

I have a friend (who shall remain nameless) who said their pool bathroom is stocked with towels from every Ritz Carlton her parents have stayed at. Yes, they are towel-thieves! Rich towel thieves. Hilarious. Towels are too much grand larceny for me, but I do love extra toiletries. When we were staying at the Alex Hotel earlier this year, my mom and I tipped the maid so much because we asked for extra Frederic Fekkai toiletries they stocked the bathroom with. Omigod, we went home with like a huge BASKET of that stuff.

This is what makes vacations worthwhile…

Anyway, Mik’es back and he has brought me a Coldstone so I will eat my icecream now.


Books are Done! Retail Therapy, Off to Vacay!

[Note: I wrote this blog on Sunday, Sept 24. I am now currently on vacation. It’s ahhhhhwwwsome.]

I wrote the previous post a couple of days ago, I didn’t post it because I couldn’t get the frigging book cover to come up…but when I went to my comptuer today, the code that linked the photo to the blog was actually working without me doing anything different! See, computers ARE like magic.

I have a book that I started writing a couple of years ago that I shelved that was about magic, but in the book, it was all turned around because “electricity” was magic. “Electricity, who’s heard of that? Microwaves run on MAGIC, my friend.” Does anyone else think this is funny? Becuase I kind of think all things like computers and electricity and everything with “scientific” explanations are actually…magic! Haha. I mean, who can understand WHY things work the way they do?? Dont answer! I don’t want to know. All I know is, it’s magic. (My brother-in-law and his wife are both scientists -he a rocket scientist at NASA and she a geneticist at the NIH, and I’m sure they would be able to explain everything to me very slowly. They are the best people to ask if ever you need to know how anything works. Like fake tans. Apparently fake tans work by dying dead skin cells–it causes a reaction that creates that color. Who knew??)

By the way, where we live in Hollywood is right next to the famous “Magic Castle Hotel” and everytime we drive by it, Mike and I say to each other, “So that’s where the magic happens.” Yes. We are that corny.

So, I have such good news to share, not only did I get MASQUERADE done, I got ANGELS ON SUNSET BOULEVARD done as well. It was a really hard slog. I didn’t realize how much harder it would be to work on books while pregnant (you get kind of wooly and forgetful and also, I don’t want to push my body that hard, for instance, I usually finish by pulling a week of all-nighters, staying up till 3 or 5 am to finish a book, but this time, I just couldn’t do it, which explains why the books were so late. Sorry my editors! But I really tried!!). I just turned in my approval for the copy-edited MASQUERADE, and ANGELS just went into copyedit, which means I’ll probably have to do the same to that book in a week or two.

I am just SO RELIEVED the books turned out the way they did. I’m enormously proud of both of them, and I think you guys are really going to enjoy reading them…so much sexy fun in both! I get hot just THINKING about it! Hee.

It’s been a pretty workaholic year, so for the next week Mike and I are going to Palm Springs to relax. We’re staying at the Parker Hotel, the Jonathan Adler-designed resort, and we just CANNOT WAIT. I am going to get massages and treatments and lie by the pool and read fashion magazines and all the new yummy books I can’t wait to read: Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Phsyics, Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children, Andrea Lee’s Lost Hearts in Italy, Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, Jennifer Weiner’s The Guy Not Taken, and the cookbook memoir Julie and Julia.

I’m SO excited for all and have been saving reading them for my vacation. I’m also going to be reading my friend Jessica Wollman’s new YA book SWITCHED, which looks hella fun as well. The only one I bought on a whim was The Thirteenth Tale, which I’m HOPING is going to be good and not a washout like The Historian, which it is being compared to. Am I the only person who thought that book was blah?? I mean, Dracula doesn’t even appear until the last twenty pages, and everything was SO plodding and boring until then.

Pessl’s book is going to be fun because she has her own “Bluebloods” in it. Kind of funny! I bet her Bluebloods aren’t undead like mine, who are Blue Bloods (two words, capital B and capital B). I was at dinner once with some friends, and they were asking about my new project, and I told them it was about rich vampires in New York called Blue Bloods. And they said, “That’s a cool metaphor!” And I said, “No. Not at all. It’s very literal. They have blue blood.” Just to show what kind of writer I am. Metaphor schmetaphors! When you dream up a title like Blue Bloods, you’ve got to take it all the way, man.

When I get the go-ahead, I’ll post first chapters of both ANGELS ON SUNSET BOULEVARD and MASQUERADE on my site.

Tom and my anthology GIRLS WHO LIKE BOYS WHO LIKE BOYS is also coming together really nicely. We’re just SO PROUD of it, and adore all the authors who participated with their illuminating, intriguing and touching essays. I have SUCH a good feeling about this book, and we’re so puffed up because it’s coming out from Dutton in hardcover. Tom and I will be making appearances in New York, East Hampton, Los Angeles and San Francisco to promote the book, with some other possible cities added if we can manage it. I’m a bit loathe to travel too much because of the coming child, but on the other hand, I really loved visiting Atlanta, Las Vegas, Chicago and Miami during my last book tour so we shall see…

I forgot why I wanted to post! Yesterday my mom and I went to the Billion Dollar Babes sale, which is a great sample sale of tons of LA designers. I SCORED that T-bags dress that I was OBSESSED with! Hello! And it was only $90, instead of the $225 or however much it was before. Also bought a fabulous pink metallic leather clutch purse from Anya Hindmarch ($100 from $700), several gorgeous necklaces from Maya Brenner, five $5 wood and metallic bangles (it’s all about bangles this fall), an insane black and white leopard fur shrug, with leather on it for the print. I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it is SO GOOD. And it was only $85! From $500! Several printed tops from Mon Petit Oseau. Kind of sad that I can’t really wear any of these clothes until I get back to my normal weight.

It was so fun to shop with mom. Mom is the original super-shopper. She used to go to Hong Kong for the weekend just to shop, when we were still living in Manila. She’d call her mom and two of her sisters, and they would stay at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and spend several days madly shopping.

Mom and I now have shopper’s elbow from carrying around so much stuff. (We like to take everything we like, and then edit before going to the cashier.) We’ve been needing some retail therapy since my dad’s chemo is in full swing right now, and it’s been awful just watching Pop go through it again. It just really takes its toll on him, and you feel so sad and helpless since you can’t do anything to help… UGH! So for a few glorious hours yesterday, all Mom and I had to worry about was whether we liked something enough to buy it. Now that’s the kind of problem we like to deal with…

Anyway, I should log off now and start packing for Palm Springs…which means a trip to the Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, Tods, Barneys, Gucci, and Dior outlets!!!! Woohoo!



Check out the hot cover for Masquerade: A Blue Bloods Novel! Yeah, boyyyy!

Masquerade2_8Doesn’t it look lovely??? It’s going to be the cover for the galley (Advanced Reader’s Copy). Hyperion is doing a photoshoot for the real cover of the book. But we are using the same mask. The mask is a real Venetian mask!

Sooo excited!!

It’s rainy and gloomy here in L.A. today, which is putting me in a good mood because all I want to do is shop for fall/winter clothes! Aarrgh. Except I am like, HUGELY pregnant and cannot fit into anything. Wah! I’m SO dreaming of layered cashmere tunics and leggings and flat boots and all that fun, fun, fun stuff…except of course, I will be at home with the baby who will be throwing up and so it will not be a good idea to wear cashmere around the kid… Don’t you LOVE all those long, knit cashmere tunics?? Uh, so, so good, as my fellow Fashionista author Karen and I used to say to each other regarding a particularly choice purchase.

So far, we have not settled the Birkin question. As Mike says, it’s just a matter of time… I mean, it means anytime I want to get it, we can go order it. I just have to say the word. But sadly, I think I’m going to opt for a new bathroom instead. I know, how boring right? But we are renovating the house and the new bathroom will probably cost the same as a Birkin, and well, I’m TRYING to be a practical person now that I’m supposed to be someone’s mother in a few months.

And in the back of my mind, the fact that I KNOW I will OWN a Birkin someday is almost as good as having it, in fact, it’s BETTER because I can wallow in the excitement of anticipation and not experience the anti-climactic feeling of actually getting what you want.

It’s Fashion Week in New York and I am stuck in LA. For years I covered Fashion Week, and the funnest thing about fashion week was running into all your friends at the tents–my fellow fashion journos–all that air-kissing and commotion and checking out each other’s outfits and gossiping about the shows and complaining about all the parties we had to attend and the champagne we just HAD to drink. Oh, it was a fun, fun, fun time…and I do miss it. I especially loved the complaining because we were SO ridiculous about it. “Can you believe Marc’s after-party is crosstown? How are we EVER going to get there from Diane’s townhouse?” (Marc as in Jacobs, Diane as in Von Furstenberg of course!) One season I think we even rented a town car to take us to all the events since it really was SUCH a pain to have to catch a cab all the time. The best parties are the ones that provided town cars home… that was definitely a luxury I could get used to.


Mistletoe Out!/Fatberry Revealed!/Will I Birkin?

I just realized you can now order MISTLETOE on Amazon and B&N! It’s not supposed to be out until October 1st. (And I’m not sure yet if it’s available at the local bookstores–I haven’t been to one in so long while I’m finishing up Angels!)

It’s a little early for Christmas romance, but I assure you the book is going to get you IN THE MOOD for some X-mas loving.. ๐Ÿ™‚

In other news, I have been OBSESSED with this yogurt in LA called “Pinkberry”. It’s from Korea, and it’s this great store in WeHo where they put fresh (NOT frozen or canned) fruit on your yogurt, and it’s just deeelish. The lines for this yogurt snake down the block forever… but it’s so worth it. For months, the owners have put up “low fat” or “non fat” signs everywhere, and all the little LA gym bunnies and gym rats have been lining up for their non-fat fix… But yesterday Mike and I stopped by, and they finally had nutriotional information posted about the yogurt! It’s zero fat, but the calorie count is high.

25 calories per ounce! The “small” is 5 ounces (125 calories – not bad) but the medium is 8 ounces which is 200 calories, equal to a candy bar or a soda. Let’s not even talk about the large (13 ounces = 325 calories). So now Mike and I call it “Fatberry”. Hee hee. Not that we mind, well, Mike does, since he’s trying to be healthy. But I’m pregnant so I’m allowed to indulge. Also, how bad can it be for you? Even if it is calorie packed it’s still more healthy than a soda or a candy bar.

I remember in NYC, I would get Tasti-D-Lite, which was SUPPOSEDLY six calories per ounce. But “Tasti” as the gals call it, tastes very chemically and artificial. Whereas Fatberry tastes, well, great.

But the interesting thing was that there was NO LINE. We have never seen this before. So perhaps now that all the body-conscious LA peeps have discovered they are eating Fatberry, they no longer want to line up for their non-fat dessert. Yes, it’s like that Seinfeld episode, where everyone goes to get that “non-fat” yogurt but then they find out it’s full of…fat! Pretty hilarious.

So it was my birthday, and my darling husband has offered to buy me a BIRKIN for my birthday. Can you believe it??? BIRKINIZED!!! It’s a dream come true!!! We’re supposed to go to the Hermes store this weekend to get on the waitlist or whatever you have to do to get one of these damn things.

And yet, and yet…I am paralyzed by indecision and self-loathing. Do I WANT a bag that costs as much as a mid-sized car? I mean, YES!! But STILL. I like the IDEA of owning a Birkin one day, but actually OWNING one? What will I have to aspire to then? Doesn’t the rabbit hole just get bigger as you slide down that Hermes-lined path? And after you get one, it stops being THE BIRKIN and just becomes ANOTHER HANDBAG YOU OWN.

I don’t know…I guess I’m feeling guilty..we just bought a house, we’re having a kid, (which means baby nurses and nannies and nursery school and then private school and piano lessons and French immersion and baby yoga and music classes and all those things that you’re supposed to provide a kid with now) and not to mention Marie-Chantal cashmere onesies and Lucy Sykes rompers and Flora et Henri french-smoked cardigans in the three-figure range. I mean, the kid is going to be expensive! Ok, not the kid. The kid comes free. The kid’s accessories are going to be expensive…

And I want to provide it ALL. You know? My parents doled out for everything, ballet, piano, private school, nannies, nurses, midwives. Until we moved to the States and had no money but even then they sacrificed so much so that all three of us could go to private school and the Ivy League. My dad drove a crap Dodge ram van for years and he said it was worth it because while he had a cheap car, at least all three kids were valedictorian or salutatorian and that was priceless. (Did I mention my dad has all three of our college diplomas (Columbia/Yale/Harvard) on HIS wall, and that he drives around with an ALL3IVY license plate?)

So perhaps I won’t Birkin. I don’t know. I can’t decide. The nice thing is that Mike offered. Birkin bag: $11,000. A husband who’s WILLING to buy you a Birkin bag: PRICELESS.

And now I must go back to ANGELS ON SUNSET BOULEVARD and find out what the hell happened to the missing rockstar!


Birthday Memories

Thank you to everyone for the sweet birthday wishes! I love birthdays and celebrations. For a long time, ever since I turned 18 I had a huuuuuge party to celebrate my birthday, which always coincided with the start of the school year at college. I also remember birthday “outfits”. The one I wore when I was 21 was particularly choice–a dark-blue silk romper with a plunging neckline and short-shorts up to there (it was all one piece) that I wore with fishnet stockings, high heels and this amazing silver and blue stone necklace that my best friend Jennie gave me. I pranced around my dorm room and suite like I was friggin’ Madonna, man. I bought the outfit for $25 at the flea market next to Tower Records on 4th Street and felt hella glamorous.

When I was 25 I threw a huge bash at the backyard of my West Village apartment (it was the backyard of three connecting tenement style buildings) and wore a fabulous one-piece Pucci-esque halter jumpsuit that I had bought at Urban Outfitters for $39. God, I was so skinny then… and SO TAN! There were so many people at the party, including two boys that I was crushing on… I won’t say which one I kissed (Ok, the cute lawyer not the cute wannabe rockstar). I felt like Winona in Reality Bites…

For my 26th birthday, Mike and I were already dating for a year (we met a month after my 25th) and he threw me a huge dinner party b’day that I had no hand in planning (it was all a surprise!) at a French restaurant with thirty of my closest friends, we all sat at this long table and drank lots of red wine and champagne and ate steak frites.. It was awesome, and it was the first time “a boyfriend” had thrown me a birthday party instead of me throwing myself one.

My friends were SO impressed with him… that was definitely when I decided he was a keeper. (Although I had decided this two weeks after we had met. He was the funniest and smartest guy I met…and really chill. He was so relaxed. Unlike so many uptight guys I met then.) I always tell my husband I married him because he was the only guy I ever met who was funnier than me. (So many guys only THINK they’re funny, like Dane Cook. But really they are just jocks with lame ass jokes.) Definitely Ethan Hawke from Reality Bites. Mike used to wear these vintage polyester shirts with the collars that had a wingspan from neck to shoulders, and Converse Jack Purcells. But he would argue he was Ethan from Reality Bites, with ambition. He would never work at a newsstand and steal a Snickers. Hee.

Anyway, what did I wear for my 26th? An ivory Gucci tube-top and vintage plaid plants and Gucci platforms. I think the designer addiction kicked in around that time. Also, I was making more money so I had moolah to spend on such things…Although I do remember I bought the Gucci top for $50 at Century 21 and the platforms for $99 at the same store…

I sold my first novel at 27, and in the past several years, my birthday has been pretty low-key as the celebrations were more focused on the book parties, and promotional events… plus our wedding…which was a huge production…it just seemed too much to gather up all the friends and keep celebrating yourself..

In the Filipino tradition, when it’s your birthday, YOU take all the friends out, not the other way around… birthdays are a time to celebrate all the people who make your life worthwhile, which I always thought was a nice way to look at it…

Anyway, my mom threw me an awesome baby shower for my birthday this year, and I was so overwhelmed by everyone’s good wishes, and it was so great to see all our friends in LA, so many of them people we would not have met if we had never moved here…your life gets so much richer when you are open to meeting new people…You know when people say “I feel really blessed” and it sounds so corny? Well, I won’t say it but I felt like that at the baby shower. So much love all around! And it makes the baby seem like more of a reality now. Friends have bought us blankies and Marimekko sippy cups and fabulous chic velvet dresses for the baby! It’s really coming!

What did I wear? A black and gold Liz Lange dress ($150) and a sequin Barneys shrug ($300) and my gold Miss Trish of Capri Thong Sandals. But even if my clothes are more expensive now, I’d give anything to have back that hot size-2 body I rocked when I was 25…


Artistic License

A few months ago, my publisher received a rather angry letter from one of my readers. This reader has now posted the text of her letter as a “review” in Amazon. In her letter and review, the reader outlined all the flaws she had found in Blue Bloods, including the spelling of Plymouth (it was spelled Plimouth back then) and what she (the letter-writer was a she) saw as my glaring lack of knowledge concerning American history, for example, the dates of the founding of Roanoke and Plymouth, which in my book, I had made to seem as if Roanoke occured during the time of the Mayflower, when I knew in my research it had not. (In fact, as much as 30 years separated them.)

However, to make my story more IMMEDIATE, I used fictional license to merge the two histories together. After all, I was writing a novel, not a historical text, and it worked so much better in my story if the colonies were founded almost at the same time. I was also aware that the Pilgrims didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving right when they landed, but waited until the next year, but again, to my Blue Bloods Thanksgiving had a different meaning, so I made the story align more with the popular conception of the holiday.

I wasn’t aware that by picking and choosing from history, that some readers (well, really, just one, since everything else I have found on the web or has been written to me via email is nothing but excitement and enthusiasm for the book) might think that I was UNAWARE of several key facts. I guess some people just like to think they are smarter than the author (there’s a GOTCHA! quality to this), or that the author is just a lazy bum who didn’t even think about any of this, when in fact, I had thought about it long and hard, and decided that as an artist, and NOT a historian, I was allowed to pull and manipulate history to tell my story. Just like Sofia Coppola does in Marie Antoinette, or Stephen Spielberg did in Amistad..or in a whole bunch of other “historical” novels and romances.

Maybe it was my fault that I didn’t include a breakdown of exactly what I used from history, what I made up, and what I intentionally mixed up for my story…because I have since realized even some librarians–my favorite people!–well again, only ONE librarian–is under the impression that I was, well, to put it bluntly, clueless.

The letter writer also pointed some other copy-editing type of mistakes, like it’s November, but I have Cordelia say it’s winter, or that the dates later on in the book don’t match up with fortnight travel, etc. I do apologize for not having caught these. But not every novel is perfect, in fact, even Tolstoy himself defended what he called “sunspots” in his novels–for instance, his readers would complain that a character was described as having blue eyes in one chapter, and brown eyes in another. Sunspots, he explained, happen to even the best of writers because one gets so caught up in the story, little details escape one’s attention.

The librarian also complained that I had mixed up Myles Standish with William Bradford, who had been the governor of the colony for thirty years. Again, I read the history, and I liked the name Myles Standish better… since in MY book, Myles is Michael (The ArchAngel) and the names just went together bettter.

Also, I was really wary of writing the “Mayflower” parts because I didn’t want to get stuck in Olde English and I deliberately chose not to use the Olde Spellings. (I chose to spell it Plymouth rather than Plimouth). I also didn’t want to call anyone “Goody Standish” or such. In fact, the letters in the book are really brief because I wanted to try to stay away from any accidental errors as much as possible.

So there you have it. For my next trick, in Masquerade, I made the entire Gilded Age disappear! Haha.

Anyway, as Tess Gerritsen writes in her blog, you can’t win over everyone, and you have to write for yourself…and I realize as I write this that I am really responding to only two disgruntled people in the universe, who will never even read this, while the vast majority of my readership just wants me to shut up so I can finish Book Two in the series and put up the first chapter already. I promise, it’s coming.. and in answer to all your emails, MASQUERADE pubs next April!!! Can you stand it??? I can’t!! It’s sooo good and soooo much more juicy than BLUE BLOODS even!

One of the fun things about putting Blue Bloods together was figuring out how to make the Mayflower story work with MY mythology, and picking the pieces of history that fit with mine…most of it worked–for example, tons of people from the Mayflower died after the first year…what could explain that? Bad weather? Hell no, VAMPIRES! Hee hee. I was really excited when I figured out the Roanoke angle, and hey, what’s 30 years difference in historical fact to a novelist? I make things up. It’s my job.

And I know my faithful readers probably think this blog is pretty boring, so I’m sorry. We’ll go back to the regularly scheduled shopping sprees in a bit. I just had to get it off my chest. It bothered me that there was this misconception of my work as shoddy research floating around in cyberspace when in fact I had done the research, and had deliberately chosen to manipulate history to fit my story.

To be accused of “dumbing down” the teenage populace because of this strikes me as somewhat hysterical. They are not the only two people in the world who know the history of Plymouth, after all–many, if not all of my readers know it just as well. But what do my readers have that these two did not? Well, they gave me the BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, as in they understood I was using artistic license to tell my story, and they came along for the ride and enjoyed it. Also, if you’re looking for history, I’m not sure a novel about vampires is really the place to find it. The Mayflower history was a fun trope, a fun context in which to place my Blue Bloods.

Please know your author works long and hard, forsaking vacations, weighing each option in the storyline, and trying to make everything fit along with all the great hot kissing scenes that make the story actually worth reading…

My husband always tells me to ignore the naysayers and the critics and the snarkies and the nasties, and I usually do, I have developed a VERY thick skin in my ten years in this business (when Karen and I toured for How to become Famous in Two Weeks or Less, boy did we weather our share of rotten tomatoes–from people who had not even READ our book, they just hated the title!), and already I regret the time it has taken to write this blog since it is taking me away from my VASTLY MORE IMPORANT job of WRITING MY BOOKS.

Btw, in Masquerade, there is a really fun Gilded Age murder mystery…but I’m not saying whether it’s based on historical truth or not… you will just have to figure it out for yourself! ๐Ÿ™‚


Why I donโ€™t smoke anymore

When I quit smoking I had to find something else to do other than smoke cigarettes while writing. For a long time, I thought this would be IMPOSSIBLE. Because so much of writing means staring in despair at a blank computer screen, waiting for the words to arrive. And somehow, holding a cigarette meant I had something to do while waiting, and the computer was always obscured by this huge haze of smoke. Ah, those were the days…

I was an enthusiastic smoker. I LOVED smoking. Two of my favorite people in college even taught me how to smoke freshman year, and while they no doubt thought I was the dorkiest person in the world since I arrived at college without this know-how, they kindly guided me on how to ape their sophistication. And when I mean sophistication, I mean it whole-heartedly. These two friends of mine seemed so worldly, so jaded, and so, well, cool…I really wanted to be just like them. And they smoked, so I wanted to smoke too.

Yeah, OK, peer pressure is bad. And smoking is BAD FOR YOU. So let’s make it clear that I do agree with all those things.

But so much of life is more complicated than a surgeon general’s warnings. Both my parents smoked. It was the bad, glamorous 70s and my earliest memory is my dad rolling down the window on the Mercedes so he could light up after church on Sundays. There’s a picture I still treasure, which shows my family on the beach in the Philippines. We’re all looking windswept and sun-kissed, and my dad is lounging on his back, with his aviators, and a cigarette dangling on his hand, and there’s mom, in her swimsuit, a cigarette on her lips. My parents loved fun: they threw all-night parties that lasted until ten in the morning in their restaurant/nightclub, my dad played poker with his friends until dawn (and the action would get so heated, one friend famously bet his vacation house–and yes, handed over the keys when he lost!). They lived life TO THE FULLEST. They traveled the world, shopped in Hong Kong and London, and they smoked. Another memory: my parents walking through the airport, their duty-free bags stuffed with cartons of Marlboros.

When I was growing up, my mom would smoke while doing her hair and putting on her make-up. She had a gold ashtray on her dressing table. I thought nothing could be more glamorous.

Then we moved to the States, and my dad quit smoking, and a few years later, my mom did too. Part of it was the result of assimilating to America–in the suburbs, fewer and fewer people smoked, and my younger brother, who was learning about the evils of smoking in school, would throw my mom’s cigarettes in the toilet when he found them.

But I was determined to live like my parents, and while they both were upset when they found out I smoked, they also understood–they had been young once too.

My husband has never smoked. He has always hated smoking, and when we first met, he tolerated it (after all, he moved into MY apartment) but gradually, over the years, he has nagged me to stop, and I don’t smoke now because of him.

I’m glad I don’t smoke anymore. My clothes don’t smell. I don’t have a cold that lasts for two weeks. Plus, It’s not the same–my friends from college have quit too (although we do sneak the occasional guilty cigarette when we get together), we’re all getting older, we’re trying to have kids, we realize we’re not immortal. You can’t even smoke in New York anymore. Sad. Now all the clubs smell like body odor and beer. Ick.

But I’m never going to be one of those people who are angry that other people smoke. Or who lecture people not to smoke. I think it’s gross that tobacco companies have made their cigarettes so addictive. But I do believe in personal choice and responsibility. It’s a learned habit, and it’s one you can break. It was my choice to start smoking, but it has also been my choice to stop.

I guess I’m thinking about smoking because I am sitting here writing the LAST chapter of Masquerade, and I really wish I had a cigarette to celebrate. But I’m glad I don’t.