Great VOYA review of Blue Bloods!

Got a GREAT review in VOYA today…

“Schuyler, Mimi, Bliss, and Jack live the good life in New York City. Young, beautiful, and rich, they are members of the exclusive philanthropic society known as The Committee. More than just a charitable board, The Committee guards an ancient secret that the blue-blood members of the American upper class are actually Blue Bloods, a four-hundred-member ancient race of vampires that might not be as invincible as it believes. Combining historical references to the lost colony of Roanoke with high-fashion name-dropping and the threat of an evil hunting the Blue Bloods, de la Cruz takes her trademark brand of high-society chick-lit and turns it into a fresh and engaging vampire tale. The four main characters develop from character types to believable teens struggling with the realities of being both young and undead. To be sure, most teens do not get modeling contracts in the hallway of their high schools, but many deal with distant, ill, or embarrassing parents, much like these teens. With tongue-in-cheek explanations for everything from how the no-sun or garlic myths began, to vampirism being the reason that these elite girls can eat their weight in cupcakes without gaining an ounce, de la Cruz opens the vampire genre to readers who cannot get enough glimpses into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Recommend this title along with Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (Little, Brown, 2005/VOYA October 2005) as a delicious reading feast and be prepared to be asked when the next Blue Bloods book is due. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High,defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Hyperion, 256p., Ages 11 to 18.”

-VOYA – Vikki C. Terrile

Yay!!!! Thanks Vikki! VOYA rocks!!!

By the way, a “4Q” is a really high ‘writing’ rating for VOYA. I’ve hardly ever seen 5Q’s. Although I did get a 4Q and a 5P “Most YAs were dying to read it yesterday” – the highest appeal rating — for The Au Pairs.

Part of me is still a kid who loves getting good grades. Hee.

One of the things that is so hard about adulthood is that there are no progress reports. I was one of those kids who derived a lot of my self-esteem from my report cards. Yes, I know, I was a big nerd. But I didn’t have a social life back then, so I had to find happiness SOMEWHERE.

In other news, I am an aunt again! I haven’t blogged much about it because my sister is one of those people who likes to keep her private life private and probably finds being related to an author a bit…inconvenient sometimes. (Like when I used to post all my dad’s emails on McSweeney’s a long time ago, behind my family’s back, and um, my sister and brother got REALLY mad at me.) But my new nephew is amazing, and I just love him so much. His brother is my godson and these two boys are the light of my life.

Ok. Must. Stop. Blogging.

I have been procrastinating all morning working on ANGELS. I really need to get back to that book. My goal is to have 30 pages done by Sunday. I know I can do it, which is why I keep pushing it off. Ack.


Girls Rule!

I’m always so surprised that I have so many great girlfriends. This might sound strange coming from the author of The Au Pairs, which is about rah-rah sistahood-boom-bah friendship, but for the longest time, I was really wary of having close relationships with women. I think it came from having attended a bitchy all-girls school, where I had no friends at all.

So for the longest time, I much preferred the company of gay men–they were my confidants, my sista-divas, my best friends.

I will always love my boys, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to deeply appreciate my close friendships with women. Girls rule!

I was just thinking about this because yesterday I hung out with two women writer friends in L.A., Anna and Celeste. It was so nice and relaxing to hang out and talk shop (we’ve all written for the same magazines and worked for some of the same editors). Women are so supportive of each other–at least, the RIGHT women.

There is definitely a competitive streak in ambitious career women, but I think it becomes muted as you mature. For me, I’ve come to the realization after a long, long time that it is not about “beating” other people in the race, it is about running your OWN race, at your OWN pace. And after all, the same wave floats all boats, and what is good for one gal is usually good for another.

I have known my best friend from college, Jennie, who is the reason I am on MySpace (she urged me to join and she puts up all my pictures) for seventeen years now. We were seventeen when we met! (And seriously, how unfair is it that Jennie still looks seventeen!) The best part of our friendship is that when we hang out, we are reduced to being seventeen again. Just smoking and giggling on the couch, even though I’m not supposed to smoke anymore since I “quit” a couple of years ago (but oh, old friends bring that out in you! And I SO look forward to hanging out with Jennie because it means I can be wicked and smoke again-wheee!) and flipping through the channels of the TV or looking through magazines together.

What I miss the most about being a teenager is how fun simply hanging out is… doing NOTHING with your friends and having a blast. When you grow up, all the fun is scheduled–dinner parties, dinners, or going to openings or going to see someone’s play or band or reading or whatever. Which is all fun too, but not quite the same.

I realize I haven’t posted in a while about what I’ve bought lately. The truth is I’ve been so nauseous I haven’t had the energy to shop, plus since I’m going to get a lot bigger in the coming months, shopping for clothes doesn’t seem that exciting right now. But I did buy some fab maternity jeans at Barneys. How much do I love that elastic waistband on my Chip and Pepper ($110 from $180) jeans? And my new prego Citizens of Humanity jeans ($100 from $150)? SO MUCH. I love how the waistband is so comfy, and with a longish top covering it, you look totally “the same” as before.

Prego jeans rule! Almost as much as hanging out with girls!


Drinking! Drugs! Non-Explicit Sex! Huh?

Some fun stuff today… My editor at Hyperion sent over the School Library Journal review of “Blue Bloods”. I *heart* SLJ, they have been nothing but KIND to my Au Pairs books, and Fresh off the Boat, so I was totally expecting another nice review…

And here’s what I get:

“This novel constantly name-drops and is full of product placements, drinking, drugs, nonexplicit sex, and superficial characterizations, but the intriguing plot will keep teens reading. De la Cruzs explanation for the disappearance of the Colony of Roanoke is unique and the idea that models dont gain weight because they are Blue Bloods rather than anorexic is unusual.”Sharon Rawlins, NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped, Trenton”

OOF! Bad, bad writer–name-dropping?? Product placements? Drinking? Drugs? Non-explicit Sex? (LOL! All those things teens DON’T want to read about right? 🙂

I’m just glad I had that intriguing plot up my sleeve!

I found this review a little funny, because here’s SLJ’s review of The Au Pairs:

“De la Cruz name-drops and power-shops throughout, creating an entertaining vision of how “the other half” lives. The Au Pairs offers wealth, status, steamy sex, lots of heavy drinking, changing values, and juicy fun on the East Coast for fans of Zoey Dean’s “The A-List” series and Cecily von Ziegesar’s “Gossip Girl” series (both Little, Brown).”Tracy Karbel, Glenside Public Library District, Glendale Heights, IL

So the Au Pairs reviewer thinks name-dropping, power-shopping, steamy sex, status and heavy drinking are fun and entertaining and juicy… while the Blue Bloods reviewer thinks all those things are the total opposite…

Which just goes to prove that Everybody Is Entitled To Their Own Opinion.

Some people are going to like, even love, what I write, because of the fun, party-hopping, shopping, sexy stuff, and some people will hate it because of these same exact elements…

When I was a teen, I read books PRECISELY because of all the fun elements in it that I didn’t have in my own life…I really liked to fantasize that I was this jaded, cool person who knew New York like the back of my hand, and had all these awful, glamorous problems. And sordid stories were an added bonus. I’m thinking here of V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic series, Bret Easton Ellis’s Less than Zero, Jay McInerney’s Story of my Life… And all the “hot” parts in my mom’s off-limits Harold Robbins books that I read on the sly…

One thing that gets slammed a lot I notice, is the whole “product placement” angle. Why is it called product placement? I don’t get any money for mentioning brand names in my books. I know some people find it annoying, but if you do, then don’t read my books. So simple! Who needs to be annoyed all the time? Seriously. Life is too short to be annoyed by a book.

I grew up reading Stephen King, and his books are chockfull of pop culture references and product placements –Coke, Cheerios, Fords, Twinkies. But no one ever mentions him. But all us chic-lit girls get slammed because we like to write about the perfect pair of Chloe pants.

Part of this prejudice, I think, is the whole anti-fashion feeling. There’s this idea or perception that people who read are not interested in fashion, or should not be, as readers they should be “above” that. These people are scared of fashion, and think that fashion is elitist and snobby and should not be celebrated.

When I think of fashion, I think of Miguel Adrover making a cap-sleeved sweater with real NY Yankee caps for sleeves. (And of how I really should have bought it even though it was a joke, it was only $300 and I know it will be in the Costume Institute some day.) I think of creativity and humor and over-the-top outrageousness, all of which should definitely be celebrated. There’s a difference between fashion and materialism, which Karen and I stress a lot in The Fashionista Files. But some people can’t tell, or don’t care to see the difference, and they read a line like “Marni camisole” in a novel and smoke comes out of their ears. Pah!

Tess Gerritsen on her blog writes about how even twenty years later, she’s labeled as a “romance writer” and that peeling off that label is something that the media won’t allow you to do. I totally sympathize, because for the longest time, whenever anyone wrote about me, I was former “fashion writer” Melissa de la Cruz. As if the only thing I should ever write are captions for clothing layouts.

It’s so much easier to stick someone in the romance or the fashion ghetto than to acknowledge them as a writer, isn’t it?

Anyway, I got moving again on ANGELS, and wrote thirteen pages yesterday. I was sick with a cold and pregnancy nausea, but the reason I had a bit of a block was that I came upon a really nasty review of Blue Bloods on the web, which really knocked me off my game. It was just the most vitriolic, hateful, spiteful, and personally mocking “review”, with plot spoilers to boot!

When I come upon things like this, and in my ten plus years as a writer, I have encountered it before (I used to write incendiary essays for the New York Press so I know a lot about hate mail), it never ceases to bother me. I get over it after a day or two, but when someone unleashes so much hatred on your creation, you can’t help but feel stomach-punched.

But the thing is, you get up. You feel better. You realize all your dreams have come true, and that continuing to write, getting paid to write, (I am signed up for 13 books in the next three years. Isn’t that crazy?), is the best revenge…

And the nice thing is that I have read so many nice reviews of Blue Bloods everywhere else, and so many readers have been emailing me telling me how much they like it, so everything is worth it. Who cares about one rotten apple?

Like I always say, being annoyed by a book is the stupidest thing I have heard of. Books are a PLEASURE. They are one of the most enjoyable things around, so if you look for books that contain things that will just make you irritated, why read it?

In the meantime, thanks to everyone who has emailed about Sun-Kissed! I re-read it the other night, and it cracked me up too.

I’ve also started reading On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I really really loved White Teeth. I just thought it was brilliant. I’m enjoying On Beauty a lot, although some of the dialogue of the American teens sounds off to my ears, which is bothering me. But not a lot. I’m not annoyed! Just a little confused. White Teeth was so spot-on and perfect. On Beauty is not quite White Teeth, but is very riveting and moving.

One thing that I thought was really interesting in the story is how she depicts Zora, the 19 year old precocious daughter of the protagonist. One of the plot lines has Zora really annoyed that she can’t get into this Creative Writing Seminar, and so she complains to the Dean that the professor of keeping her out because the professor had an affair with her father (another professor at the university).

So the Dean asks the professor in, and explains the situation, reminding the professor that she doesn’t want to be put in this position, (going to the Adivsory Board, a possible lawsuit, etc). Basically Zora is very manipulative. And in the end, the professor lets her into the class. (The professor is really angry, because the affair has nothing to do it, she says that Zora can’t write poetry. She has “arguments”.)

This chapter was really involving for me, because I *SO* remember going to school with all these little Zoras… manipulative, intelligent, grade-grubbers. They were the ones who bullied and argued their way from a B to an A-. They’d been so used to getting easy A’s all their lives, it was such an affront to them that anyone would give them a mere B.

And I also remember how competitive it was to get into Creative Writing Seminars in college. My friends and I all wanted to get into these Story-writing classes, along with oh, hundreds of other people… I was a freshman in a junior-level Creative Writing class, the only one in the class. And I have to proudly say, I got in because I quoted Madonna in my essay on Why I should Be in the Class. I think I quoted from “Burning Up”. Something like “I’m down on my knees, begging you please, I would do anything…” And the professor probably thought that was pretty funny, she had a good sense of humor. I thought it was quite clever myself. Back then Madonna wasn’t a thesis subject quite yet. She was still just a pop star. So it was an anti-intellectual move. Which worked.

But I also didn’t get into some other classes. I didn’t get into A.M. Homes’ class. I interviewed with her and she read my story (which was about two college girls who kill the boy who was cheating on both of them. If I ever find it I’ll post it sometime. It’s funny.) and her lip curled. And I could just tell she was one of those people who don’t like my style of writing. And I didn’t get in. Oh well. You win some, you lose some…

No grade-grubbing! Enjoy life! Read books that won’t annoy you!


Dignity at the Valet?

One of our good friends in L.A., Ian, a television editor, is buying a new car. Ian is from the East Coast, his parents are artists in Maine, and one of the things he is looking for in a new car is simply “dignity at the valet.”

Everywhere you go in this city, you HAVE to valet-park. It is almost impossible to find street parking, and after going round and round the block several times, paying five bucks to have a guy wearing the standard white-shirt/black vest uniform park your car is a huge relief.

Right now Ian drives an old Toyota Corolla. At valet stands, he is not immune to looks of pity, and he confessed that part of him always wants to say to them, “WHAT??? I CAN PAY FOR THE FOOD!”

He just doesn’t buy into the snobby car culture, and he’s determined not to buy a flashy, expensive car just because everyone in L.A. drives one. But he DOES want a car which WON’T engender those looks of pity. Hence, a car with “dignity at the valet.”

Most people in L.A. go for INTIMIDATION at the valet.

I have to admit, for the longest time (ever since we moved) I have aspired to this level of car nirvana. In fact, as anyone who has spent anytime with me knows, I am OBSESSED with buying a Range Rover. I tell everyone that I can’t wait until the lease on my car runs out so I can buy the baddest, coolest, most pimped-out Rover there is on the market. I have become a broken record about this. I have made this car out to be the most awesome car in the world, and that owning it would definitely change my life…

See, the problem is, when we moved to L.A., Mike and I still thought like New Yorkers. And to New Yorkers, ANY car is awesome, because no one OWNS a car in Manhattan, it’s such a bonus luxury. (In fact, our friends back in NY still marvel at the fact that we own TWO cars. They think we live a life of total indulgence.) So, we bought New York-value cars, as in, practical, dependable, not-flashy. Back in NY, the few of our friends who do own wheels are proud owners of Toyota Camrys, (the quintessential Park Slope car I am told), Subaru stationwagons, Kias.

We bought a Honda Element for Mike, who loved the car’s design, and practicality, and it’s a Honda–it’s SO dependable. It’s very “architect” he said. (He also said that some guy at his old firm who drove a Mercedes was roundly scorned.) And we leased a VW Passat for me, since it was “on sale” the week we leased it–it’s so cheap it’s the same amount I pay our cleaning lady every month. I like my Passat, it drives really well, it’s nice-looking, and it’s one of the safest cars out there.

But it has no WOW factor at the valet. It’s a bit of a stodgy family car. And as we got acclamated to L.A., I realized, your car is like your handbag. And you know how I feel about handbags! I felt like I was rocking the Kate Spade of cars. Or maybe even a leather Coach bag. It was nice, it had a bit of style, but it wasn’t terribly expensive or cutting-edge. And I DON’T own any Kate Spade or Coach.

Whereas, you know, the Range Rover, now that’s like a Chanel handbag. Classic. Must-have.

But now that I’ve talked about this to anyone who would listen to me whine, I realize I’ve changed my mind. Status-symbol cars just aren’t going to do it for me anymore. I got grossed out by my rampant materialism, and remembered how when I was in college at Columbia, we were all youthful idealists who all agreed owning a statusy car was the epitome of disgusting bourgeouis values. (And this from a girl who grew up being chauffered in a Mercedes!)

And that’s the word I was looking for–idealism. When did I trade in my tie-dye values for logo aspiration? Now don’t get me wrong, I still love a great car–when Mike and I have the money, we are going to ask our neighbor, who restores vintage cars (he drives a vintage Citroen that I gave to Mitzi Goober in Skinny-Dipping), to restore one for us. (They are really expensive, around 100-200k.) And we call our IRA the “Lamborghini Fund” –we’re going to spend our retirement money on an Italian sportscar!

I think dreaming about cars just runs in the family. My dad, for instance, has for years been talking about buying a Porsche Carrera. He’s visted the dealer so many times, they know him by his first name when he walks in. And yet, even though he can afford it, he’s never bought it. Because although Pop likes to talk about how great the Porsche is, and how wonderful it will be to own it, Pop REALLY loves driving his ten-year old Plymouth Voyager minivan. He can’t seem to part with it, which is why he can’t bring himself to buy the Porsche. It would feel like a betrayal to his down-to-earth values. (The other car is a Mercedes but Mom drives it.)

In fact, when I bought my Passat, Pop always kidded me by saying I should have at least leased a BMW. When I told him how cheap it was, he said, “That’s not the point!” But then Mike and I counter by reminding him he drives a Voyager. Ha.

When I was a kid, my dad always talked about buying things, a bigger TV, a bigger house, a more expensive car… but he also always seemed perfectly happy with what he had. But he REALLY liked to dream and to fantasize about how life would be different “if”… But now I realize that what Pop was subconsciously telling us all along, was that even if you can afford the Porsche, or whatever it is you want, the pleasure really comes from THINKING about it, and not owning it.

Once it’s yours, the dream is gone.. and it just becomes some THING that you have…which is not that exciting.

I think, in the end, I’m really my dad’s daughter. Because as much as I have complained about my car being so “boring” I find I really can’t stomach the thought of being the kind of person who needs an expensive car just to have self-esteem. Mike told me that William Gibson, the awesome sci-fi writer, just drives a Jetta. And Neil Gaiman drives a Mini. Of course, Danielle Steele drives a Bentley…Mmmm….

But hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

Shelf Life

I was happy to find had reviewed Blue Bloods! It’s one of my favorite Teen Book websites. Here’s what they say:

“Secrets, intrigue and suspense — it’s all here in this first installment of Melissa de la Cruz’s spine-tingling new series.” – Amy Alessio,

And I also found this from B&, another review from the trade press:

“While teenage vampire stories are numerous nowadays, this title adds new elements about vampires that keep the story and legend fresh…This book is a worthy addition to the vampire genre.” -Amie Rose Rotruck, Children’s Literature


Yesterday we were in Santa Monica to run errands and I walked into the B&N and they had Sun-Kissed face-out on the new books shelves! Awesome! And Blue Bloods was prominently displayed in the middle of the “Tales of Love and Romance” section as well. And they had paperback copies of Skinny-Dipping and Fresh off the Boat. Which means I actually have four books out this month. And am competing with myself for space. Too funny.

I realize so much of my blogging is about seeing my books on shelves. How embarassing! But it really is a thrill to see them there, especially after years of having my books either all the way in the back, or categorized in an obscure shelf. (Our How to be Famous Book was always under “Sociology” or “Pop Culture” or “Journalism” and no one I know could ever find it in a bookstore. Ditto Fashionista Files, which was filed under Fashion next to coffee-table books. Karen and I always wondered why there wasn’t a category “Non-Fiction Chick Lit” to put them under.)

A couple of readers have been asking when I will write a new adult novel, a follow-up to Cat’s Meow. I actually had signed on to write “The Fortune Hunters”, which was a satirical/comic novel like CM, but for some reason I got distracted by my YA work, and my agent and I decided to cancel the contract for now. I even gave back the money. But the Fortune Hunters is calling to me again, as is a new idea for an adult book, so hopefully it won’t be too long. The only problem is my schedule is so packed right now, I don’t know when I can fit them in, and I really shouldn’t be thinking of other books when I have two that are DUE, DUE, DUE.

The guilt has taken over, I must go back to writing.


Blurb Sluts and The Book Vortex

I wrote ten pages of ANGELS today, Woo-hoo! Yesterday, I wrote ZERO pages. So, according to my schedule, this means I have to make up for yesterday by writing twenty pages tomorrow. The goal is to get 100 pages done by the end of the week. The story is moving really well, and I’m really loving my main characters, Taj and Nick. They’re so different from any character I’ve ever written–both of them are SO flawed, and yet so lovable… Anyhoo…

The reason I wasn’t able to write anything yesterday was that I got totally SUCKED IN by a book. You know how that happens, one day, you’re just bobbing along with life, and the next moment – VOOOMPF you’re sucked in the vortex of an awesome book, and that’s it, you’re gone… I can never not know the endings to books, or put down a book I’m reading if it’s really really good, so what usually happens is I read until wee hours of the night, after husband is asleep, forsaking dinner, until I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

The book that sucked me in was Dodie Smith’s “I Capture the Castle”. If you have not read this book yet, I urge you to run to your nearest bookstore and BUY IT. It is sooo good and sooo funny. I have not laughed out loud since Ignatius J. Reilly tripped over that old lady in “A Confederacy of Dunces.” There is a scene where one of the characters is mistaken for a bear, and, well, you will just have to find out for yourself! But it is HILARIOUS.

I have never heard of this book, but I remember seeing it on other author’s “favorite books” list. It’s a book from the 1950’s. The thing that drew me to the book was a blurb from J. K. Rowling. I have NEVER seen a blurb from J.K. Rowling on anything, so I immediately bought it, knowing it was going to be good.

Some of us authors are blurb-sluts. I know I am, if any of my editors ask me to blurb a book of theirs, I usually say yes, even before I’ve read the book. When I was starting out, it was hard to get blurbs from established authors, and I know there are some authors out there who are all uppity about the whole blurb thing (you know you you are!), and I truly despise that. If a few kind words can help a new author, who am I to withold them?

But that being said, I do pay attention to authors to hardly ever blurb–like the aforementioned Ms. Rowling.

Anyway, my only beef with “I Capture the Castle” is that it doesn’t quite end super-happily. And I love myself a happy ending. Its ending is hopeful, but not happy…which means we have to imagine how the characters turn out in the end. Come to think of it, it’s a little like the ending to Sun-Kissed, but I will say no more on that subject.

Still, it was a diverting, awesome read, and while I felt super-guilty not to have worked yesterday, I was also glad to have spent the time in the narrator’s company.

I bought it at Border’s, where I was happy to find copies of Blue Bloods face-out in the YA Fantasy section next to Cirque du Freak. Yeah! And I’m happy to report that Sun-Kissed is currently #145 on the B& rankings. I still haven’t seen that book in bookstores, but readers are telling me that they have been able to buy it at theirs, so it must be trickling out…

Party pictures are imminent! We finally got them from Patrick’s office, and my webmistresses are busy putting them together…


Fun B-List sighting, Work Progress

Yesterday was a great day, I banged out twelve pages of ANGELS, and we saw Jeremy Piven in Larchmont.

We were eating lunch at Cafe du Village, this cute little French restaurant in Larchmont, a very quaint East-Coast-y neighborhood in Los Angeles, near Hancock Park. And who else walks in but “Ari” from Entourage! Mr. Piven looked every inch the star, with his white v-neck T-shirt and dark black Aviator sunglasses. He sat in one of the sidewalk tables, and even from where I was sitting I could see chest hair.

And work is going well, I am gunning to have ANGELS done by the end of the month, so I can wrap up BB2 by next month. I was in a fog for so long about both of these books, and suddenly, I woke up and Hallelujah… everything finally clicked in my head. THANK GOD.

I’ve been reading Tess Gerritsen’s blog (directed to it by Meg Cabot’s fab blog-that should be one word- fablog!) and she was writing (Tess, not Meg) about how as you write more books, you actually get MORE anxious rather than more confident.

It’s SO TRUE. Every book is a struggle. A good struggle, but a struggle nonetheless. Sometimes I wonder if my life is one of those, “be careful what you wish for” scenarios. I wanted nothing more than to be able to write books–SERIES books, like the ones I loved growing up (Enid Blyton was my particular fave), and now that I do, why does it seem like life has become harder and not easier?

So many nights I just toss and turn because I am so worried about my story, my characters, and how I can’t seem to make it work, and it’s quite miserable, really. But then something happens–and haha–the machine starts to chug, and I get really excited all over again…

In between writing I’ve even started outlining the third book I have due this year, SOCIAL LIFE, and it’s going to be SO fun–totally outrageous social antics of three beautiful American girls in St. Tropez–full of topless beaches, champagne showers, and beach discos that open at noon! Woo-hoo! I’ve always loved the French Riviera…I can’t WAIT to start writing THAT…


Campus Couture, and Life Begins at Thirty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


SUN-KISSED is Shipping! From and B&!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend everyone!

Party Pics!

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

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

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

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