Monthly Archives: May 2009

Book Q&A’s

Hi all!

I remembered! Ha! And I have a plane to catch tomorrow so I’m going to post this now.

Maddie, Frances, Julia and a lot of other readers want to know what’s going on with THE ASHLEYS. (One reader said “On your blog it’s all about Blue Bloods this and Blue Bloods that, and I want to know about THE ASHLEYS!”) Is Lipgloss Jungle the last book in the series?

I really, really, REALLY hate to disappoint you guys. But it very well may be. I don’t like to say ‘never’ but right now I don’t have plans to write a fifth book. But I don’t want to leave you guys hanging, so I will write an online short story this summer that will resolve and end the series. I know you want to know what happens to our favorite 12 year olds and so do I! The story will be available online in a few months. I know it’s not great news, but this is the best I can do with my schedule.

A lot of you Ashleys-fans write me and tell me about the cliques in your school and how much they suck. I know. Been there. Outcast’d that. Sigh. The good news in life is that at some point, you will blossom into your own person and find wonderful, fabulous friends who are as wonderful and fabulous as you. And those kids who were mean to you in middle or high school—you’ll forget all about them, or you’ll remember, but it will be funny—because you’ll be at your class reunion and you’ll be this awesomely happy and successful person and those guys who shoved you in the hallways and those girls who never spoke to you are now working at the Burger King or as managers at the GNC.

And I know this because this happened to many people I know including some people I am related to or married to. (Heh.) I believe in late bloomers, in working really hard, in being yourself and finding your niche. I also believe in trying to fit in, having a lot of fun, and getting away with it. I’ve been unpopular and popular at various stages of my adolescence. Popular: you don’t even notice. You’re just hanging out with your friends and having fun. Unpopular: you notice. It stings. It hurts. But it is survivable. And temporary. I just read that Zac Efron was a “drama geek” in high school, and that he was “the most popular of the unpopular guys” Can you imagine? How cute is that? If it happened to Zac, it can happen to anybody. Hang in there, find a few friends who make you laugh, and cruise through it. And if you still really, really want to be popular? In my experience, if you want something BADLY enough it will happen. But you know what they say about wishes coming true…I always think about David Sedaris, who writes so poignantly about popularity in his childhood, (in one of this stories a popular guy hits him with a rock and David doesn’t get mad, he was excited that the guy had noticed him enough to bean him! And his sister, who understands, asks him if he kept the rock). David Sedaris is now one of the most popular writers on the planet, if not one of the planet’s most popular people. You can’t even go to one of his readings—they’re so packed! And he lives in France! Where all writers should live! (You know what I mean: it’s the dream.) So you know, living well really is the best revenge. But I understand. I was 12 once. And I remember what it was like. But I found myself a bunch of fun, smart girls for friends, and let me tell you, we had a blast.

Christen and a bunch of other readers want to know what happened to the Angels on Sunset Boulevard books?

I’m happy to say I’m working on the sequel now, and the first book AND the second will be published in ONE fabulous paperback edition called ANGELS LIE. The book will be available this November! I’m revising this book as we speak. So yeah—I should go back to working on it!

Just a reminder: I’m not going to be answering any PLOT-related questions about the books. So please don’t ask me. I mean, you can ask me—I like to know what you guys are curious about—but I won’t be able to answer them. Because, c’mon, some of the fun of reading a book is finding out what happens, right?

Also, for those in New York, I’ll be at Book Expo this Friday! It is an admission-only event, and I think it’s about $95 for one day admission. A bit high, so I totally understand if you can’t make it. (Although you make up for it in free books!) But librarians and booksellers—looking forward to seeing you!!

May 29, 2009 (1:30-2:30 PM, Table 13)
BookExpo Appearance!
655 West 34th Street
New York, N.Y. 10001
I will be promoting Blue Bloods: The Van Alen Legacy at BookExpo! This is an industry event, so you will need to pay admission (which is high) to get in to see me. But you will receive MANY free books while at the Expo. HOWEVER, we will not have copies of Van Alen at Book Expo because the book is not even printed yet. I will be signing the paperback copy of Revelations. Yeah, I know. But still: free Revelations! Good stuff!

Sorry this is a short Q&A… but I have to pack, am leaving for New York tomorrow and am already feeling sad about leaving the kid! Wah!


Writing Friday

I was at the spa! So relaxed I almost forgot it was…Writing Blog Friday!

Lindsey asks: I am writing a book based on something that happed to me in my life. It is very personal and I am worried about what a few people might think or do if I get it published and they got their hands on it. It is also very hard for me to sit down and write it. Almost every time I try to write, I get emotional. I have tried to finish it for two years and I only have two chapters done. What do you think I should do?

Thanks Lindsey, for a very interesting and important question. I myself was in this very same boat for the longest time. I wanted to write about what happened when my family moved from the Philippines to America. But every time I tried to write it, I just couldn’t—I hadn’t been able to process it yet, I hadn’t been able to really think about what happened to us, and how to make it compelling fiction and I just didn’t have enough distance from it yet to look at it and write about it objectively in a way that other people might want to read about it.

I was finally able to write this story, and it became my novel Fresh off the Boat. The book is based on the year my family moved to America, when I was fourteen years old. I was able to write about this when I was THIRTY-FOUR years old. TWENTY years had to pass by before I could really WRITE this story.

So it takes a LONG time to process experiences and turn them into fiction. I’m not saying you have to wait twenty years, but one day, you will figure out how to write this story and it will just flow out of you.

At this time, I suggest taking notes, writing about it, and thinking about it, but don’t FORCE yourself to “Finish” it. In the meantime, there are other things you might want to write about.

For instance, I used to cover fashion shows for magazines and newspapers, and I turned that experience pretty quickly into my first novel, Cat’s Meow. The turnaround time on that was quite short.

But if your story is close to your heart, and makes you feel very emotional, it will take a long time to get it on the page. And that’s Okay. Because, unlike supermodels, we writers have an almost infinite time to get published (Frank McCourt was what, in his sixties?) and no one cares what we look like or whether there’s someone new and hot nipping at our heels.

As for the fear about what people will think who are based on the people in your story—well, I always tell my family and friends if they are ever so flattered to think that they made their way into my pages: It’s FICTION! I also advise disguising people to the point where they cannot recognize themselves.

For instance, I once did not like a girl named Eunice Chang* (name changed of course!) who used to be this editor at a magazine and had this fake laugh and this really annoying way of worming herself next to every cute boy I liked, so I made her into the character “Teeny Wong” in my novel Cat’s Meow. Teeny was a magazine editor at a magazine who had this fake laugh and wormed her way next to every cute boy my heroine liked. See? Fiction!

At this point all of my characters are based on some aspect of my personality or just come full-blown into my head. I have given up disguising nemeses in fiction. For those with huge egos, it’s just another way to pump up their resumes. “I once inspired a character in a book!” You don’t want annoying people to get even bigger heads. Sigh.

However, if the characters are based on people you love, like my family who kind of ended up in Fresh off the Boat, because it’s fiction it’s not really a portrayal of them per se. Sure, the parents in Fresh off the Boat are very much like my parents, but in a way, they are also very much not and their own people. They might have been inspired by my parents, but they are not my parents. At least, that’s what I keep telling my mom and dad. Heh.

Also, when you write about your parents, they are usually pretty forgiving. As some of you may have noticed, neither my younger sister or brother appear in the book. There is a younger sister in the story, but she is completely unlike either of them, which is 100% deliberate. I did not want to get into that kind of situation! Parents might forgive you, but siblings might give you a rug burn. ☺

It sounds like what you are writing is a bit darker and more serious than the stuff I write, especially your comment of “what they might do”—I don’t really have experience with that kind of writing, but I do recommend you check out Ellen Hopkins, who writes those verse novels about dark issues—-her first book was based on her daughter’s experience with meth. She might have some better thoughts on that kind of matter than I do, and I’ve met her and she’s so great at reaching out to young people with these kinds of questions. Tell her I sent you!

Good luck with your book!


Book Q&A

Jessica asks: If Schuyler’s mom will ever get out of her coma?

You will have to read the rest of the series to find out! 🙂 I promise this question will be answered in the series. But I can’t answer plot-specific questions on Book Question Wednesdays. I think it’s so much more fun to find out through reading the books, don’t you think? For instance, I would like to know if everything on Lost got re-started because they exploded the nuke. But I’m going to have to wait until next year to find out, just like everyone else. I actually screamed “THIS IS PAYBACK FOR WHAT I DO TO MY READERS!” at the season finale. So you know, karma, I am her byatch. Heh. Do not worry, all questions will be resolved at some point in the series.

Felisa, Maliha and Michael and many others who sent emails in the past before BQW started all have roughly the same question: They want to know if the Van Alen Legacy is the last book of the saga? And are there any plans of this saga to be put into film?

Not the last book by far. Right now I have ideas for at least a gazillion Blue Bloods books, but I don’t know if I can write a gazillion. I will most likely write at least ten. If not more, I can’t say a final count because I kind of really like writing this series, and I’m the type of person who reads every freaking sequel of everything that I love, so um, if you love it, you will have many Blue Bloods books to read from me. I aim to please. Mostly myself. But I’m SO GLAD there are others along for the ride too.

As for film, there are many bites (as in producers interested) but nothing concrete yet. I’m patient. I just hope I’m still alive when it happens. Not holding my breath but keeping a hopeful optimism. I find if I really want something bad enough, I usually get it. And I’m starting to get really itchy about seeing the characters on screen, which I never felt this huge compulsion to before. I am and forever will be, a the-book-is-better-than-the-film person. (Although Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings comes soooo close.)

I think I kind of really want to see Blue Bloods on the big or small screen right now because so many people ask me if this is going to happen and then when I say, “I don’t know”, they look at me with disappointment or maybe pity. As if I haven’t really “made” it as an author until it’s been made into a movie or TV show. And that just REALLY annoys me. Because there are many many LAME books that sold bupkes and made into other media and lots of GREAT GREAT books that have never been made into anything.

So I just don’t think it’s a barometer, whether it gets made. Because here’s what I want to happen: it gets made into a TV or movie. It is INSANELY popular and becomes a POP CULTURE PHENOMENON. That is what people are asking. (And by people I mean, my peers and frenemies and cocktail party chit chatters – not you—not my readers—you, like me, really want this to happen.) The people who ask me this question just want to figure out how successful/how much money I have. You know? And really, as my mother always said, The answer to that kind of nosy, rank-y question is Very Successful and A Lot of Money. Which was the answer to that question ALL THE TIME, even during the times when the answer is Quite a Failure, Actually, and Not A Lot of Money At All.

And here’s what I don’t want to happen: It gets turned into something. No one watches it. It gets canceled after an episode. Meh. What’s the big deal then? You know? And how many pop culture phenoms are there in one lifetime? We already have Twilight and Sookie…not to say there’s no room for the Bloods, but you know, it’s a crowded (or as Mike says: crow-dread) field.

Anyway…that’s a long vent-y tangent. But I’m just a bit tired of that question. But not from you guys. More from the status-obsessed people I come in contact with. Sigh. Next!

Rebecca’s question is related to the above. She wants to know: Are you in the process of writing a new book for a new series or thinking about it?

Yes! I am currently writing the first book in the Blue Bloods spinoff WOLF PACT. I also have several ideas for new series that I am kicking around…I always have 1000 things I want to do/write. Hopefully some of them will be coming to a bookstore near you in the not-too-far future. The great thing about being a voracious reader is that I am also a voracious writer.

Thanks everyone for your questions! I will answer more next Wednesday.

Also: I just read about Charlane Harris in the New York Times. I love me some Sookie Stackhouse, don’t you? And this line stuck in my craw: “Like many a commercial writer, Ms. Harris wishes the literary establishment would pay more attention. “I think there is a place for what I do,” she said. “And I think it’s honorable.”” Miss Harris—it is more than honorable!! You write books people actually READ! And there’s no reason to apologize! I for one, as a commercial writer, have never felt that way. I like Stephen King’s answer to how come he’s now a huge figure in the bonafide literary establishment when he started out as a horror writer totally trashed by critics. He said “Those critics who hated my books have died. The young generation grew up reading me and they’re in charge now.” So you know, you just have to OUTLIVE your fiercest critics. Heh. So all you young people out there, don’t you, forget about me…ok? OK.


PS-I’m sorry if I sound cranky in this blog! I just am tired of the whole one-upmanship in the striver world. Maybe I’ve been to too many preschool confabs about the “right kindergarten”? Argh! I have made it to the Times Bestseller List. If I never make it again, I will still die happy. Goal: achieved. Everything else is just gravy at this point. I for one, do not need to be on the hamster wheel all the time. I like to work and I like to write books and I like to shop. As long as I get to do those things and have my family around me, that’s all there is to it. See you on Writing Friday!

Your Questions Answered

Hi guys!

I’ve decided to do a more consistent overall blog (random thoughts about shopping will appear once in a while as well of course) but in response to the huge amount of mail I get, but which I can no longer personally answer (which sucks, I know, but there is only a finite time in the world and well, Stephen King never wrote ME back either and I still buy his books) – I’ve decided to try and do a forum where I do get to personally respond to readers’ questions in some way.

I will answer questions pertaining to my books on Wednesdays. Most of your questions like “When is Van Alen Legacy coming out?” can be found and answered easily. October 6, 2009! But if you have other questions, please send your question to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with the heading “BOOK QUESTION WEDNESDAY”.

Also, since I never talk about the writing process that much (mostly because I have this superstitious fear that those who write about writing should just shut up and you know, WRITE rather than write about the process) but I’ve really enjoyed reading Ally Carter and Justine Larbalestiereli’s thoughts on writing and publishing so I thought I would try to answer some questions from my perspective/experience. I will answer general questions about the writing process/publishing industry on Fridays. Please end your writing questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), with the heading “WRITING BLOG FRIDAY”.

And if you have emailed me in the last six months, we are finally wading through the stack and the new newsletter with lots of fun new news is out. You can sign up for the newsletter here.

When I am on deadline, I might not be able to do the Books and Writing Q&A blogs, but I will do my best to deliver every week!

It’s a beautiful day in Los Angeles! You know when I am in NYC I tell everyone how much we miss New York, which is true, also this is what New Yorkers think when people say they can’t imagine how they can live in such a crazy city: “WIMP!!” (Actually it’s a much dirtier word than that and I have a potty mouth but I do try to keep the blog fairly clean.) New Yorkers think NYC is the only city worth living in, I know, because I was a New Yorker and whenever people said this stuff to me, I thought “LOSER!” And telling everyone how great we still think New York is (which we DO!) and how much we miss it (which we DO!) lets our NYC friends say “Oh, but LA is great too!” To which we sigh and say, “Yeah…I guess…” Because it is SO not cool to love LA.

But we do love LA. We were so FRACKING poor in New York. We lived in this crumbly walk-up building and our apartment had this bathroom where if we dropped something behind the sink it was “Gone Forever!” because there was NO WAY we were going to try and fish it out of THAT mold. But the funny thing is we still had this wonderful, great, exciting life…I was a trend/lifestyle journalist and we got invited to all the best parties and had all these perks… and our friends worked at museums or galleries or were starting bands or in a play and there was just so much to DO and you didn’t really need that much money to do all that stuff. It just occurred to me today that when we would go eat at the Four Seasons for birthdays or Le Cirque for anniversaries that back then we made LESS than the waiters who were serving us so obsequiously. And we weren’t poor in that we were trust-fund kids slumming it… (you know the type: dad won’t pay for rent but you can buy anything on his credit card. Yeah. Not us.) We were ACTUALLY poor. I had a good computer job for most of our time there and made good money but I got laid off the last two years we were in the city, and those years when we were scrambling on a freelance writer and an intern architect’s salary are what sticks with me the most. Also, during that time when I was a computer geek making six figures, everyone in the city was a dot-com billionaire, so you know, we still felt poor when we had cash. But those last two years man…when we really didn’t have much at all…those were HARD!

Then we moved to LA and it was like we got lucky…not like someone waved a magic wand, but like we had room to breathe all of a sudden. Although we still miss NYC all the time, it’s a good compromise, living here.

That is the bi-coastal thought for the day. Anyway, send your questions!


Book Expo Appearance Details!

Also: more information on my Book Expo Appearance!

Friday, May 29, 2009
1:30-2:30 PM, Table 13
Jacob Javits Center
655 West 34th Street
New York, N.Y. 10001

I will be promoting Blue Bloods: The Van Alen Legacy at BookExpo! This is an industry event, so you will need to pay admission (which is high) to get in to see me. But you will receive MANY free books while at the Expo. HOWEVER, we will not have copies of Van Alen at Book Expo because the book is not even printed yet. I will be signing the paperback copy of Revelations. Yeah, I know. But still: free Revelations! Good stuff!


Texas, Ahoy! Come see me, longhorns!

I’m going to Tay-has!! Texas, to those who do not speak Melvina. (One of my main gays always calls me Melvina. Which I think is Mel plus Diva?)

Come see me!!! I will read from the first chapter of Van Alen Legacy. And I don’t know yet when we will be able to send them out to our email list – the marketing people at Hyperion are checking right now. But you will get it before the book comes out, to be sure!!

June 12, 2009 (7:00 PM)
Reading at the Blue Willow BookShop
14532 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079
I will be reading, signing and chatting about Revelations, Girl Stays in the Picture, sneak-peek at Van Alen Legacy, or whatever you want to talk about!

June 13, 2009 (3:00 PM)
Barnes & Noble Signing in Texas!
1201 Lake Woodlands Dr., #3008
The Woodlands, TX 77381
Reading, signing, chatting about Revelations, Girl Stays in the Picture, sneak-peek at Van Alen Legacy, whatever you want!