Monthly Archives: November 2008

Things to be Thankful for

So many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving…We had a lovely party last weekend to celebrate the Blue Bloods series being on the bestseller lists for three weeks (both the New York Times and USA Today—oops there I go, brah-ging again, hee). The party was at the super-swanky Peninsula Hotel and lots and lots of our beautiful friends came. I wish I could have invited you all since you guys are the reason we had the party, but it was also nice to just have a personal celebration of the book with the people who know us and have supported us for so long. I’ve had a LOT of book parties in my ten years as a published author, and while those parties are celebratory, they are also…promotional-tory. There’s a lot of selling and inviting the press and giving interviews and at those parties I never get to talk to my friends because, in the end, those parties are fun disguised as work.

I also haven’t had a birthday party in a LONG time because every year I have a book release party (sometimes I would have two book parties a year even) and it seemed too much. On Saturday I wore my new Philip Lim dress, and my open-toe knee-high Marni boots and Mattie wore her Marc Jacobs black tulle dress and matching black velvet coat and Mike wore his brown Helmut Lang blazer and white Prada shirt and skinny Barney’s jeans and we looked pretty glam, if I do say so myself. It was also nice to celebrate with old and NEW friends. I think the most boring thing about parties is seeing the same people all the time, it’s nice to shake it up and also invite new people that you have become close to. We are so lucky in life to have such a great group of family and friends. My nephews were running around while everyone was drinking champagne.

The other day I read on AOL Headline News (you know, it’s my main news source, which is funny since it’s the oddest selection of headlines sometimes. I always know about the 8-year old shootings and which celeb has dumped her cheating hubby), anyway on AOL Headline news there was a story about how happy people don’t watch too much TV. Or that the more TV you watch, the unhappier you probably are. And that people who socialize more, get out a lot, and see their friends, have a much higher happiness index.

Which totally makes sense. When we lived in New York, we were out almost every night of the week. The only TV we’d catch was the 11pm Voyager (I totally got addicted too. Year of Hell anyone?) on weekdays, on weekends, it was usually the 2am showing of Blind Date, which was kind of a fun way to end the evening, making fun of other people’s bad dates while you are comfortably smug with your spouse.  But since moving to LA and having a kid we really don’t get out much as much as we used to, and we definitely felt a lot more glum.

It’s important to keep the balance—on the one hand, Mattie really likes having her BOTH her parents home when she goes to sleep. But on the other hand, we would go crazy if we didn’t keep up our social life. When I was younger, my parents went out all the time, they had hugely busy social lives in Manila, always off to the opera or some benefit or a party but when we moved to America, that whole lifestyle ended and they never went out at all. Guess which one I preferred as a child? I remember going to sleep kind of sad when they were out and we were just left at home with the maids. Abandoned!

When I was growing up in Manila we always had brunch at the Peninsula Hotel on Sundays after church. We rotated between the Mandarin and the Peninsula.  It was only later, when we were immigrants we would go to the Carl’s Jr. after church that I realized how lucky we were earlier. Now we try to take Mattie to the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel for brunch every Sunday. A total indulgence, but it’s the way I grew up, and hey,  it’s not such a bad thing to take things for granted…as long as you are thankful for them later!

Happy Turkey Day everyone!



I went shopping.

I didn’t *mean* to buy anything, but everything—EVERYTHING—is on sale. And who can resist?

The shopping gods are smiling on me.

Especially when I really wanted an hourglass, pencil-skirt, sexy-sexy but class-y dress…and there it was at Nordstrom. Thakoon. Half off! In my size! And I don’t even need to diet to wear it and have it look good! THIS is why designers are genius. Because the cut is so flattering—there is no need for the gym! I love you Thakoon. I also love saying Thakoon. A friend I went to college with works closely with Thakoon. Isn’t Tina so chic? She always was, even back then. The first time I bought designer anything was with Tina. Freshman year. Columbia. It was Betsey Johnson. A blue ruffled-hem tunic and matching pants. The most outrageous thing I’d ever bought. I used to wear that outfit with black plastic hoop earrings. It was the 80s.

I think Michelle Obama owns my dress too. Which is so cool. Every time I read about the Obamas I get a bit teary. Still. You know? Like in the “O” issue of the New YOrker that was all about the election. That last line from Hendrick Hertzberg’s Comment still gets me: “A few months from now a blue-and-white Boeing 747 emblazoned UNITED STATES OF AMERICA will touch down on a tarmac somewhere in Europe or Asia or Africa, the door will open, and out will step Barack and Michelle Obama. That is something to look forward to.” Wow. Awesome. Tears.

So I bought the Thakoon dress and this amazing Thakoon blouse-jacket combo which looks kind of subversive Chanel. Which I will wear to my dear friend Tyler’s gallery opening in New York in two weeks. Tyler and I used to be NYC club kids together. And now he owns his own gallery! Now I really feel grown up when friends I used to go to Sound Factory with are now chi-chi galleristas.

The other favorite designer I have right now is Black Halo. Who cuts her clothes so that all women who wear them look “five pounds thinner and two inches taller.” Now that is a designer I can get behind!


The Brah-g

My friend Rachel Cohn has a funny name for writer’s blogs, she calls them the “brah-gs” because it seems we writers always toot our own horns when it comes to our accolades and have no shame in describing them in detail in our blogs I mean brah-gs: I’m on Tour! My Book is Out! I Got an Awesome Review! An Award! The Best Seller List! And on, and on, and on… You can see why I love Rachel so much. Acid wit goes a long way with me. And yes, blogs do tend to focus on the Up With Books news, which can get SO boring. You know?

But my problem right now is I. Dont. Feel. Like. Shopping.

Why is that? This is a terrible sign for the economy. I mean, I loooove to shop. Shopping is good for the soul! Terrible for the bank account but great for the soul. And right now I feel over-shopped. Like I spent too much money (Mike will definitely agree) and I can’t even conceive of buying anything. Or wanting to buy anything right now. Nothing is exciting. I mean, I would LOVE one of those new Herve Leger by Max Azria dresses that everyone is wearing right now, and also one of those Roland Mouret dresses too—right now I want sexy dresses that are tight but class-y. You know? Form-fitting but not a lot of skin exposure. And right now I want the body I had when I was 23 so I could wear them. My doctor tells me that I don’t have to return to my “ideal” weight. My “healthy” weight is enough for me for the rest of my life. But does healthy weight equal bondage dresses? I want to get back to fashion weight. If anything is going to make me diet, it’s a desire to wear new clothes. You know? Just like Karl Lagerfeld who was sick of being fat because he wanted to have the kind of body that could wear all those skinny skinny Hedi Slimane suits. I want a body that can wear a Leger. I’m pretty tired of all the blobby dresses in my closet. I’m feeling hourglass. I’m feeling skin-tight. I’m feeling…like I want to shop again! Hooray.


Third Week’s The Charm!

Fun interview with The Story Siren! Where you will discover my true inner self has a name: Garth from Wayne’s World.

Also, Blue Bloods is in its third week on The New York Times Best-Seller List! (And it’s week three on the USA Today List also!) Very, very cool. People: you are spoiling me!

I’m sorry I don’t have a date yet for BB4:VAL. I’m still writing it. I’m hoping you will not have to wait that long for it once I turn it in. (It’s due in January.)

Anyway, I gotta go. Deadline, deadline, deadline. My daughter says to me: Mommy put your computer away!!! Come play!! Sadly, I cannot.


A Good Mood That Has Nothing to do with Sales Numbahs

I’m in a good mood today. It’s because I am SO SO SO SO SO CLOSE to finishing a new novel. The first in a new series called GIRL STAYS IN THE PICTURE.

This is for my Au Pairs faithful—and I’ve been working on this book since um, June!! And it’s taken a long time to get to the finish line because on this book I have not had CLARITY until now.

You know what clarity is? Clarity is when you actually know WHAT YOUR BOOK IS ABOUT. Why am I SHOUTING you ask? Because when you have CLARITY on your book, fixing it only takes a couple of days—and you can SEE the finish line because you now know HOW to FIX it. It’s like you were in a fog before, and then suddenly, you can see the shining city on the hill.

It’s taken me almost half a year—but now I know how to fix my book. THANK GOD! HOORAY! LET’S GO GET MASSAGES! MEET ME AT THE SPA!!

There’s nothing quite as sweet as understanding your own book. It’s one of the best parts of the creative process. It makes all the hair-pulling, cuticle-picking late nights so worth it.


Fourth, NOT FINAL – A Big Difference

Just wanted to clear up a few things: The fourth Blue Bloods book, The Van Alen Legacy is NOT the final book in the Blue Bloods series. Not at all!

I have planned many books. I have a big story to tell and I won’t rest until it’s all told in the right way.

I don’t know yet when Book Four will publish, most likely Fall 2009 is my best guess. When there is a more definite date, I will share it with you. I am still writing this book. And it’s really fun to be back at work again.

Oh and exciting news! The Blue Bloods series has just been bought by Simon & Schuster Down Under (Australia). Yay! Welcome all you Aussie Blue Bloods. And because we live in a VERY small world, I just found out that the publisher at S&S Oz (who bought the series) is the sister of a friend of MY sister. (My sister lived in Australia for several years because she married a Kiwi. Not the fruit. A New Zealander.) Anyway, cool beans. And welcome Aussie Blue Bloods!


125,000 Copies in Two Weeks!!!!

Oh. My. God.

My publisher just told me we’ve sold out of the 125,000 copies we printed of Revelations in two weeks. And they’re going back to print 50,000 more.


People!! I am floored. Just gobsmacked. Like someone just hit me on the back of the head with a bludger.

That is so fracking cool.

I am so humbled. You know when people win an Oscar, they go up to the podium and they say, “I am so humbled” and you want to throw your popcorn at them?? Like, puh-leeze. Like we believe you. Humbled? Your head must be so big it’s about to explode right now out of our TV screens. SPARE US YOUR FALSE HUMILITY.

And yet. And yet. I DO feel humbled. You know, when I wrote Blue Bloods, when I started figuring out the mythology, and getting really into it, I was just excited because of the sheer pleasure of creating the world and the characters and getting caught up in the story. And the cool part is—it’s STILL like that, except now I have all of you to take on this journey with me. And that is SO awesome. And scary, too. But mostly awesome.

When I was a kid I used to draw and tell stories at the same time, mostly for my sister and our best friend, I would narrate as I drew the action, and they loved it, and I loved it too, because it gave me a chance to show off. I guess that’s what it feels like, knowing there’s an audience for my story. That someone’s listening. And even though it’s not just Aina and Treena listening to me anymore, but thousands of you, it’s still the same thrill. Someone’s listening to my story. Cool.

When I was writing Revelations I was paralyzed by so much angst, but now I just feel FIRED UP and READY TO GO. I’M SO EXCITED about the story I’m about to POP!

Ok. Back to earth. Have a nice Sunday everyone!


Happiness Writes a Blog Post?

Another fun day on the last day of the tour, the highlight meeting ALL of you fabulous teens—including gorgeous girls Sabrina and Katie, who told me about the in-suh-hayyyne YSL exhibit at the DeYoung, which, unfortch, I will miss since my flight leaves pronto. But I think me and la famille will have to take a little trip back to SF to see it. And just so I can enjoy all these cities I’ve visited at a slower pace and actually get to shop and eat somewhere other than room service. (You know how when you’re a kid room service was this SPECIAL treat, although really, my parents weren’t the type like the Simpsons who didn’t let you touch ANYTHING because it might cost money, I remember they would order us room service on the nights they went OUT in the cities we were visiting in Europe. “Ta, ta, kids, Pop and Mom are off to see Rome…you guys have fun ordering pasta with Grandma!”) Anyway, when you grow up, room service is still a special treat, until, well, you kind of get sick of it and miss being at home. Or eating in a real restaurant that doesn’t serve the usual good-but-somewhat-bland chicken.

I have to say though: I’m staying at the Four Seasons on Market Street and it is noooicceee. I love me some Four Seasons Hotel. That almost makes up for having to order room service nightly. Nice hotels are really one of the wonderful things in life, aren’t they?

Last night I had the honor of doing a panel at the venerable Books Inc’s Not Yo’ Mama’s Book Club with the awesome Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank, Glass, and the new Identical, and a debut author, Christina Meldrum, whose novel Madapple sounds SO intriguing. Jen, the head mama of the book club, was so wonderful and brought us all cupcakes, and I got to meet the famous Walter the Giant Storyteller, a Bay Area YA icon. It was really interesting to hear Ellen and Christina talk about their work. Ellen writes free-verse ‘problem’ novels, and read from her newest, Tricks, about teen prostitution. Ellen is a spitfire and a really cool chick, and I want to read one of her books soonest. I’m not a big problem-novel person. I tend to stay away from those because I don’t really like to “go there” as a writer or a reader. But now I really want to read them after hearing Ellen talk about her books. And Christina’s book is about pre-Christ mythology which sounded fascinating, and also dealt with some heavy issues tied to parental abuse.

I realize all the time how blessed I have been to have had a really happy childhood—a childhood marred by being disappointed there were only twenty and not twenty-one presents at Christmas, or you know, parents uprooting us to a different country, but usually problems that were so infinitesimally small when I think about it now I marvel at how I managed to concoct teen angst from it (really: how bratty! how much like Dudley I was back then. Definitely a Veruka at least!) and even the immigration thing, I mean—these were problems OUTSIDE the home, with trying to fit in, blah blah blah.

At the core of my life has always been a really supportive, really functional family. I still remember my dad charging up to our private school to accost my sister’s English teacher because Mr. Sweeney (oh yeah: hi Mr. Sweeney! His real name) had the AUDACITY to accuse my sister of plagiarism because he thought her essay was too well-written and suspected sis copied it from an encyclopedia. My dad explained to Mr. Sweeney that plagiarism is a SERIOUS charge and not one to be thrown about lightly, and that my sister wrote the essay herself, of course, I mean, it was not even in our imagination to do something like that. We were absolute follow-the-rules kids. We did not COPY. Anyway, when you bring up Mr. Sweeney to my dad today, he’ll still get angry (a little) but he’ll also laugh because Mr. Sweeney was pretty taken aback that a parent would take it so seriously.

But isn’t that what it’s all about? Taking everything your kid does pretty seriously? And making sure that other people can’t hurt your kids? Even casually, even inadvertently? I always remember that David Sedaris essay, where he moves next door to a pretty manipulative kid, a kid who was totally neglected by her parents, and bugged David for company and treats, until it was too much and David had to stop the acquaintance, at which point, his mother (David’s mother) comes and helps him move out of his apartment because his mom didn’t want the trashy people next door to even think about *hurting* her son—I remember the last lines of the essay so well: his mom packing up the boxes, telling him in no uncertain terms that he was moving out, because who knows what the neighbors next door would do next—accuse him of child abuse maybe? Because he was gay? It was a realistic concern, given the vituperative things the people had said in the days leading up to that. So. She was getting him out before they could even think along those lines and make life hard for her son. And David’s essay says, “I wonder (if the kid next door) even recognized what this was: a mother.” Because the kid did not have anyone looking out for them in the same way.

A really wonderful story, and why Sedaris, of course, is one of my favorite writers.

Anyway. I guess I just miss MY kid right now too. I didn’t mean to let this post be so serious!! Oy! Ellen: see what you’ve done! LOL!


You can go home again!

Had the MOST fun event last night at the fabulous Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma. All the events on this tour have been really fun and energizing and filled with so many cool teens—you guys are so stylish and enthusiastic it’s been really wonderful meeting you all!!! And thanks so much to Marci and Art at Copperfield’s, who hand-sold Blue Bloods and The Au Pairs to their buyers and spread the word really early. You guys make it all worth it.

It’s so nice to be “home” in a way (although to me New York will always be my real home). This is the city where my family moved to from Manila when we immigrated. I am an alumni of the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a school that I appreciate more and more as I get older—how wonderful and cozy the atmosphere was, how dedicated the teachers were—while I didn’t have the best experience socially in high school (sometimes it was downright miserable) I have come to realize some of it was inevitable given my personality and circumstances at the time. It’s so much easier for be popular when one is confident and blessed instead of shy and struggling.

Last night as we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in the fog, I saw mountains covered with mist streaming down from the clouds. Wow. It was really breath-taking. Ours is a really beautiful country, and it was nice to get the chance to see some parts of it I had never seen before (Phoenix and Austin) and revisit the cities I grew up in and re-discover how amazing they are (New York and San Fran).

I’m in a writer-group email list, and one of its members sent over a link to this post about how the book business is really suffering during this economic downturn, and how we can all help by buying books this Christmas. I always buy books anyway, I think half of our money goes right back into the book business—we’re always at B&N or Book Soup or Vroman’s or Borders buying up books—somehow Mike and Mattie and I are genetically unable to leave a bookstore without spending $50 or more, and that does not even include the late-night Amazon shopping! And I hate to be preachy so I would say, just buy whatever you like—books or sweaters or fancy handbags, but dear god, let’s go out there and BUY SOMETHING! LOL!

Is it just me or is everyone not shopping? I haven’t bought anything (well, except for tons of books) in a while. But I also have to say: I shopped A LOT last month and just finished paying off the scary credit card bills (hands over eyes and ears and noses in denial about what fashion truly costs). So I have a pass. I think. If fashionistas stop shopping we really are in trouble.

Anyway: some fab news: the Blue Bloods series holds steady at #7 on the New York Times Best-Seller List! Hooray!!

I’ve been reading all the reviews of Revelations online, they are all dear to me especially the ones that start out “I am a huge fan of this series, BUT…” oh, that BUT, that BUT kills me. And I just realized I have a completely different experience from reading my books because I *know* the answers to all the questions and so when I read them, I know what I’m hinting at… but I now realize this is NOT how you guys read it at all, and for you, it is frustrating not to know why or how something happened. All I can say is: trust me. I have a big and juicy story to tell, and it will all be told. And book four will be big!

As a reader, I share your pain. I have been an avid fan of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series for YEARS now and am EAGERLY awaiting A Dance with Dragons, forever. And his books don’t even come out every year! You have to wait like, three or four years before reading the next book! Oy! Authors. We suck, don’t we?? 😉
I’m very excited about this news: A Song of Ice and Fire is coming to HBO!!! Woo-hoo!!! Greenlight that sucker!!

Anyway, I’m off to a big day again. Hope you all come see me tonight!!!
This is my last appearance on this tour. After this, I go back to my home and my family and my books that need to be written.

November 13, 2008 (7:00 PM)
Reading/Signing in Palo Alto, CA!
Books, Inc.
855 El Camino Real #74
Palo Alto, CA
(650) 321-0600

I’ll be appearing with Ellen Hopkins and Elizabeth Scott and Christina Meldrum! Fun!!!


10,000 Hours of Expertise

I was reading something today about Malcolm Gladwell’s new book about success (“Outliers”) and how it takes 10,000 hours of practice to get good at something. That translates to roughly seven years. (For instance, when Bill Gates was 22 and started Microsoft, he’d already had his seven years of practice because his parents had a computer and he had access to university computers in his town, when other people did not have the same opportunities.)

I just thought it was so interesting—and correct. There is such a thing as talent, but perseverance and practice by far are more important on the long, uphill climb.

What’s so great about writing is that you don’t need anything too expensive to become better at it: a pen, a paper, a computer (they are much cheaper now) and simply, time and dedication.

Of course, practice does not mean you will be successful, but I think it will bring you closer to your goal.

Come see me tomorrow night!

November 12, 2008 (7:00 PM)
Reading/Signing in Petaluma, CA!
Copperfield’s Books
140 Kentucky Street
Petaluma, CA 94952
(707) 762-0563

I’ll be discussing Revelations and Ligploss Jungle!

November 13, 2008 (7:00 PM)
Reading/Signing in Palo Alto, CA!
Books, Inc.
855 El Camino Real #74
Palo Alto, CA
(650) 321-0600

Not Your Mother’s Book Club is hosting me for a reading/signing for Revelations and Lipgloss Jungle! Other authors will include Elizabeth Scott and Ellen Hopkins! Yay!