Monthly Archives: December 2008

‘Twas the Night Before X-mas and all through the House…

Not a creature was stirring, not even a….Silver Blood Vampire!!! (Aieeeee! Smash! Crash! Fangs!)

Santa…red blood or blue?

Ho, ho and HO!

Merry Christmas Blue Bloods faithful!!

I promised a TINY TINY TINY peek at the Van Alen Legacy and here it is:

“Schuyler walked quickly through the museum’s empty galleries. It had to be here. It had to be. Yes. There it was. Just as he had predicted.”

I know it was infinitesimally small, but chickens, it tells you a lot: Schuyler is in a museum. But what is she looking for? And who predicted she would find it? Hmmm.

It’s a mystery wrapped in a chicken tucked in a duck stuffed in a turkey…

I know, I’m getting a bit loopy from all the champagne.

But I promise more TINY peeks.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good (fright) night!!


The Fabulous Miz Cohn

As you can imagine, the week has been a flurry of X-mas shopping, and of course at our house we pronounce it “ex-mas” just because we are fun that way. You know what else is fun? Having lunch with my friend Rachel Cohn! Who is so funny and bitchy and hilarious. Rachel schooled me in proper gym motivation. I was telling her how I have not been to the gym in forever and she said it’s because my gym has no motivation factor. For instance, her gym, Equinox, is next to a fabu coffee place where she knows all the baristas and can have a wonderful frothy cup of latte after working out! So that’s the secret: my gym is not next to ANYTHING. And I do remember when I lived in NYC and went to Equinox I would always go because I would get a smoothie after. (Which totally negated the calories lost on the treadmill but whatevs, I went to the gym!). Rachel showed me pics from the Toronto premiere of Nick and Norah (if you haven’t seen it you MUST) and we gossiped about Hollywood which is always fun.

More Xmas shopping awaits but tune in next week for a TINY TINY TINY peek at Blue Bloods IV: A New Hope. I mean. The Van Alen Legacy!


A Monster Interview!

Here’s a fun interview I did with Monster Librarian!

Go read it. Okay. So now you know about the Blue Bloods spinoff, WOLF PACT! It’s about werewolves, but it’s also integral to the Blue Bloods mythology, and big things happen in Book Four that will also mini-launch Wolf Pact. Fun, fun, stuff.

And I will have a Christmas surprise for Blue Bloods readers—check out this blog next week for a fun TINY, TINY, TINY sneak-peek at Book Four, The Van Alen Legacy. I know it sucks that you have to wait a year, but seriously, that year will be over before you know it!

It’s rainy and gray here in LA, which I would love but since I have to schlump around for Christmas shopping I don’t heart it THAT much. Also, I’m getting my new author photo taken today. I haven’t had a new one taken in a while. Mostly because in the intermittent years between the last one and this one, I did have one taken but it was three months after I gave birth and BOY does it SHOW on my puffy face. In fact, I was about to submit that to my publisher as my new author photo but I was just horrified by how pregnant I still looked (In the FACE!) that I quickly scheduled a photo session pronto. Vanity, thy name is author.

Here’s a fun site a friend sent to me, about writers and artists’ daily routines. Interesting that most creative people have a pretty stable routine. I did an interview where I describe my typical day and it sounds a lot like the days I read about here. I’ll post the link to my interview when it’s up.


All You Have to Do Is Study

So what did I buy instead of bags and earrings and de la Renta?

We bought Stella and Serra and Sub-Zero.

Art and appliances! All the good stuff.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk about now. I want to talk about the arrogance of youth. I was an arrogant youth. When I was 25 I sent my query letters to agents talking about how I was going to be the next Amy Tan, about how I hated the victimization characterizations of Asian women I saw in her novels, and how MY book Stuck-up Trendy Asian Bitch, was going to knock everyone dead. And at 22, I believed it.

I am older, wiser and much more humble these days. Youth is brash and pumped up and full of promise and spunk. When you’re young you HAVE to think you’re wonderful because no one else does. You’re still just: promising. You haven’t delivered yet, but you think—and others hope—that you will. (I never did publish S.T.A.B. – I wonder why? LOL.)

When you are older, you realize life is more difficult than you had thought, that the writers you scorned once produce works you now admire (I have come to love Amy Tan, I think I always did, I was just big-headed). You will discover as a writer, that it is really really hard to do this stuff well.

Apparently these days because of Margaret Cho (whom I j’adore) and YouTube, it’s become fashionable for Asian kids to bash their pushy Asian parents and mock them online (complete with ching-chong accent). Asian kids are pushing back, they don’t want too much pressure, they are sick of having to study so much. They want to have fun and go to the prom and have a life.

This is fascinating to me. I never thought of my parents as particularly pushy. Of course, academic excellence was prized and encouraged, but my parents never pushed us. By the time we were applying to colleges, my siblings and I were doing it for ourselves—not to please mom and pop. I think we were lucky: my parents stressed achievement and trying your best, not necessarily A’s, although of course A’s paid $10 a report card and B’s paid nothing. They didn’t push just to push. I don’t think I ever heard “If you don’t get into an Ivy League, your life will be a disaster.” What we heard was: “Do your best.” And I think they meant it.

I also remember a lot of humor. I remember my dad sort of jokingly encouraging me to to go a school where I got a full ride scholarship that was near the beach rather than to Columbia, which gave us a generous financial aid package but still meant that my parents had to pay the price of a Toyota every year for me to be able to go. “The beach is nice!” he would say, and I would shake my head grimly. I mean, I knew my dad was JOKING. And really, if I had said: the beach school is what I want, I don’t think they would thrown a fit. They would have been DISAPPOINTED in my choice maybe, but they would have lived with it.

As much as I remember my parents encouraging me to stay in my computer job while I was struggling to be a writer, I also have, in my jewelry box, a check my mom sent me to pay for a six-week writing program during that time. I never cashed the check. But I kept it because it reminded me that my parents did believe in me, and they supported my wanting to be a writer. That in the end, they just wanted me to be happy. (And I don’t even know why I asked them to pay for a writing program, only because I mean—it was school! And my parents paid for school! I didn’t do that! Even though I was 22 and making a good salary.)

I’m glad they told me to keep the computer job: real-life experience is invaluable. It makes my working in pajamas today all the more sweet.

And I think my parents were lucky too: School was easy for us. I don’t think I ever felt stressed about academics. I mean, not in a real way. I always thought it was easy. Because all you have to do is study. And I could do that.


You don’t have to be particularly talented or particularly smart, even.

Studying means sitting at your desk for one to two hours a night, reading. READING! And writing. Writing!

Studying is not hard.

If anything, if you do it well, it will prepare you if you want to be a writer.

Now I know many writers are not academic and did not go to this school or that school. And really, it does not matter AT ALL creatively. What I am talking about is dedication, diligence, and the ability to sit on your butt and concentrate for hours.

You’ll need that if you want to become a writer.

So go ahead and study your butts off. It will pay off in the end, I assure you. I spent many, many nights at home studying. But I remember what I learned during those years so well: I loved Roman history, I loved Art History, I remember every book we discussed—I still remember why I loved Great Gatsby, how it was so enlightening to realize why that book was so great—and you will come to it again later, and read it and have an even deeper understanding of it when you grow up in America and its society. The careless rich. Those beautiful shirts. Gatsby with the house full of people who don’t even know who he is.

In a way, high school is a misery. But in another—and if you are lucky—to have had great teachers and read great books—it is also wonderful.


All I want for Christmas Is…A Christmas List?

What does everyone want for Christmas other than our economy back?

Ever since I was a kid, I wrote lists of everything I want to buy. I recently found a list from 1989, the summer before I went away to college.

Here is what was on my list:

1) Burberry trenchcoat (I still don’t own one.)
2) White Shirt classic
4) Black skirt NOT knit (why not knit? what kind of black skirt did I want?)
5) Gucci wrap (I still don’t own one either.)
6) NICE LUGGAGE (double underlined) and then, this is what KILLS me, I wrote “like Ricardo Beverly Hills” (These seemed like the nicest kind of luggage at Macy’s. I arrived at Columbia with ONE Ricardo tiny little “overnight” bag along with TEN cardboard boxes. Oh, I was glam.)
7) “New wave” pants (I have no idea what these were?)
8) “Zoot suit” suit (Again: what was I thinking??)

And on a post-it on top of my computer I’ve written

1) Croc bag
2) Hermes (Birkin and Kelly)
3) Diamond Earrings (2 ct per)
4) Oscar de la Renta dress

I have bought nothing on that list either. I think I just like making lists.


There’s Nothing to Buy, Or is there?

Every Christmas Mike and I do our Barneys shopping in early December before the after-Christmas sales, because, as everyone knows, you have to get a jump on these things before they’re all picked through starting December 26th. And usually everything is marked off a little, like 40%, and you can still get some nice Prada shirts and a jacket or two. But now, since all the retailers slashed prices SO EARLY, like even BEFORE Thanksgiving, there was nothing on the racks! At Saks everything went 70% off on Thanksgiving weekend, my friends said it was like a riot there—one friend had brought her three-year-old with her and had to send the kid home with the nanny because she was frightened the kid would get trampled. Pregnant women were discouraged to come, as it was elbow-to-gut fighting. Someone even got into a fistfight over a handbag, apparently. (“Handbags at dawn” my friend Hori who now runs the NY Times Style online always said.)

And where were we??? Away!! So I missed the madness. When I finally made it to Saks the other day, it was disheartening. Everything worth anything was gone. There were some sad-looking Miu Miu flats no one wanted to buy. But my friend Sofia who was there last month got a pair of $1200 Jimmy Choos for $300 and some in-suh-hane Gucci wedge boots for almost nada. Sigh.

I’m kind of glad that things have come down to earth price-wise. On the other hand, I was emailing my dear friend Karen the other day, or K-Ro as I like to call her, and we were gushing over the new Balmain jeans (which are like, in the five-figure range). And those military jackets??? Hello! Karen is also loving everything Balmain and Givenchy next season. (BTW, how sad is it to see Spring lines at the stores? There’s like one or two dresses on the racks. I guess we are all supposed to stop shopping or something. Whatevs, I didn’t get the memo.)

What DOES one buy during a recession? I feel like really hardy, classic bags. Like a nice sturdy black YSL Muse bag. . Black bags are always in style and you will carry it for years to come. I really want a Muse. So that when people ask if if I have a muse, I can now say yes! Ha.

I’m so over the gloom and doom by the way. I say:bring on the holiday parties! The vintage champagne! Break out the slinky designer dresses and the fur! (We bought them at discount anyway!)


How Much For Your Lost Youth?

I am thirty-seven years old. THIRTY-SEVEN!! It’s been TWENTY years since I was seventeen. SHHHHH!!!

Some of my friends—we have known each other for TWENTY YEARS now. Why am I writing this? Because yesterday, when I was out Christmas shopping, I bought many many pairs of Current/Elliot jeans at Barneys. You know about the Current/Elliot yes? Those old-school type baggy-ish jeans that are all over the fash mags? Well, I have discovered why they are so wonderful. They are based on OLD Levi’s cuts, and made from the same old looms that made all those cool old Levi’s jeans. So they even FEEL the same (like buttah!)

When I was in high school and college, I inherited all my dad’s old Levis. I cut them off at the bottom, and then wore them low at the hips. I had maybe six pairs, and they were FABULOUS. My friends would always borrow them because they really made you look SO thin: and COOL. We wore them to DEATH they were so comfortable and looked so good with our big 3-inch leather belts that we had to find on Canal Street. And we’d also try to find the same kinds at thriftstores.

My dad’s jeans disintegrated a few years after college. (So sad when it happened: but jeans can’t last forever.) And we went on to buy our Sevens, our Citizens, our Ksubis, our Earnest Sewns, our J Brands. But slipping on a pair of the Current/Elliots: I was like: these feel JUST like my old jeans! Omigod!! They even had the same leg (a weird combo of bootcut and skinny that was also not skin tight). SUPER-Flattering. And makes anyone look like a skinny college hipster. Even moms like me. I bought five!

They’re made by stylists who put together the old ones from old Levis jeans and bought that factory that used to produce the old cuts. Is this legal? Who cares? And if they are $200 a pop, who cares as well? I’d pay ANYTHING to wear those jeans again.

But: if you are a teen: please, DO NOT spend this much on jeans. It is not worth it for you. Because you people look good IN ANYTHING. I can’t shop at thriftstores anymore. I need rigging and good seams and construction to make me look good these days. But when you’re young and hot you can wear anything because you fit into everything. So: go to the thriftstores. Don’t go to Barneys. Don’t pay this much money for jeans. Buy old clothes and cut the hemlines so high to show off your legs, or ratty old sweaters that make you look so charming. There’s that combination of youth, style, and ratty clothes that just looks so fabulous. Smeared red lipstick to finish the look. Mmmm.

When you’re over-30 and still wearing thrift: you don’t look fabulous. You look poor.

It’s the truth.


Stacked, and Five Alive!

I went to the Barnes & Noble this morning at the Grove and counted how many copies of Revelations they had in the store. The had thirty!!! Thirty!! Copies!!! That is insane! They were everywhere—out at the front “new YA fiction” shelves, then in its own big stack in the end-cap (those books that are in the end of the aisle display) and then again in the series book shelves.

I just think this is so cool, and I am enjoying it. I remember when my books where shelved spine-out (not face out) in the back of the store. (Actually that is not quite true: B&N was always a huge supporter: my first novel was #32 on their overall list the first week it was out. But other subsequent books received the two-copy spine-out treatment.)

I had just pointed out my thirty copies to my husband when he gestured over to the people-high PYRAMIDS of the Twilight and Eragon books. When your books can make their own sculpture, that is when you know you’ve made it. But for now, I am happy with my stacks. Gives a new meaning to being STACKED, doesn’t it? Heh.

And in more fun news: Week Five on the USA Today Bestseller List!!! Woohoo!


The Answer to Are you Done?

I’m sorry if the last couple of posts have been all about um, bestseller lists. You know, before I hit the list, I would read other writers’ blogs and read when they hit the list, and kind of tut-tut at how naively happy they sounded, how joyous, how….uncool. I swore to myself that if *I* ever hit the list, I would be the paradigm of indifference. This is what I emailed my agent before the list came out: “I don’t care. My life will be the same either way.” (Which is true, because what really matters in life are the people you have in it: I’m still happily married, with a beautiful little girl, and my dad still has cancer. You know? It’s not like some fairy waved her wand and my dad stopped having cancer. Which is weird: because as happy as I was about the list, it wasn’t enough. It’s just…you know, career ambition. It’s very nice. But it means nothing if you have nothing else in your life.)

All that week, my lovely editor would call and email us with news: We were number seven at Target!  We were number eight at B&N! We sold two thousand copies the first day! And so, anticipation was already building for the Wednesday call. And I am jaded enough to know that even though we were on this list and that list, it didn’t matter really, to anyone, until I hit “THE” list. Hence, the email to Richard. Half an hour after my email, of course, I got THE CALL…we hit the list!

And the rest is history. Is it just me or are you just as tired of hearing me talk about the list as I am? LOL! Me? Indifferent and jaded? AS IF!

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about today, is that it takes a bit to sink in, really. And now I understand the uncomplicated joy. And I realize all my condescension was just, well, you know, jealousy. Jealousy is an EVIL thing. But it happens. And jealousy is even harder to control when you’re in a creative industry, where the riches are so vast (my film agent told me about holding a one-hundred-and-fifty-million check for one of their sitcom writers in the old days when sitcoms paid big and profits went to the people who created the shows) and it seems like luck is arbitrary and you can’t really control anything, other than your OWN talent and dedication, which, in the end, is always just a random player in the game of luck. Because that’s what us writers tell ourselves when someone else’s ship comes in: Ugh! It’s all just luck! I’m just as good as THAT guy/gal.

But you know: maybe you’re not. Who knows? The funny thing is, when you hit the list, you think, well, I’m the next Stephen King. I always think of Stephen King when I write because he, over any other writer I read, was the one who inspired ME to become a writer. I just loved his books TO DEATH. And I’m a squeamish coward: what was I doing reading horror books? But that’s the thing: they weren’t about the gore. His books were about the people in them, their relationships, how they dealt with adversary (in the form of you know, crimson eyed baby-eating ghouls.) I STILL get shivers when I think of that scene in the Dark Tower where Jake does the traditional gunslinger greeting which meant he was a man (and a gunslinger!) and not just a boy anymore. Fracking cool and I’m so geeking out now, but whatevs. I mean, can you even???

Because there are TONS of writers who hit the list, but there’s only one Stephen King, one Amy Tan. You know? So, you know, the answer to the title of my question on this blog: Are you Done? Is No. I’ve been joking to my friends that I can retire now, that I’m “DONE”. Because a dream has been checked off. But my husband, who is wise in all things, and I’m very lucky to be married to him, said, what do you mean you’re done? Of course you’re not done. You hit the list, which is great, but now you have to hit it at NUMBER ONE.

And part of me was like, Arrgggh. No! No more pressure! And the other part of me is like, he’s got a point!

Why do we write anyway? It’s not for lists. It’s because the story pulls you forward and you find that’s all you can dream or think about. And I feel so so lucky I get to do that AND still get to go to the Chanel private sale tomorrow. (Go! Run! It ends tomorrow! See you there!!)

I always think of Stephen King when I blog because I remember his letters to his “constant readers” in front of all his books. I almost loved those as much as I loved his books. The coolest thing about writing, really, is finding all these other people who are just as invested in your story as you are. I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately from you guys saying you want to be writers and that reading the books have really made you want to become a writer. That is just so wonderful. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with in the future.

I’ll be here. Reading.


PS-What am I reading lately?

The Outliers- Malcolm Gladwell
Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher (the cover is the bomb!! Drunk Princess Leia? Bring it on!)
What Happened to Cass McBride – Gail Giles (I hardly ever read YA other than Diana Wynne Jones. Can’t read in my genre really. But I picked this one up at the B&N and it looked SO intriguing and I’m excited to read it.)
Travels with Alice – Calvin Trillin
Just After Sunset – Stephen King

Dark Delicacies Signing this Saturday!

It’s my parents’ 38th anniversary on Saturday (38 years?? How can that be! I am only 27!! LOL!) I was a “honeymoon baby”. Remember when they still had those? When my parents got married my dad was 21 and my mom was 24. Happy Anniversary, you crazy kids. Every year ever since I can remember, my parents celebrated their anniversary by taking the whole family to dinner. And this year will be no exception. We will be chowing down at the Chinese banquet. It’s no holds-barred until the New Year. I’ve got my Spanx!

Dark Delicacies, a fabulous gothic/horror/fantasy bookstore in Burbank is also celebrating THEIR anniversary, and this Saturday I’ll be joining a couple of other fantasy/horror writers at their party by signing copies of Revelations! Come stop by and say hey!

December 6
@ 2:00:pm
Dark Delicacies
4213 W Burbank Blvd
Burbank, CA 91505
(818) 556-6660

I’m SOOOO close to finishing my book….the spa awaits!!!