Los Angeles glamour!

Sometimes when I’m visiting home in Los Angeles, I get to indulge in a little Hollywood glamour!  On this trip, I spent a little time at Petit Ermitage, a fancy boutique hotel in West Hollywood with a roof deck pool, a private hummingbird sanctuary, and a pretty impressive private art collection!

One of my very best friends drove down from San Francisco to visit me while I was in California, so we took in the sights from the roof deck at the hotel on a Thursday night:

Petit Ermitage - Thursday night decadence

Petit Ermitage – Thursday night decadence

 Around midnight, my friends and I had an irresistible urge to eat tacos, and fortunately in West Hollywood, tacos are available at just about any time of the day or night (for better or for worse – sometimes this is decidedly not a good thing). We made a pilgrimage to Pinches on Sunset, and indulged at an hour when our stomachs were sure to be annoyed with us:

My friend Chiraag at Pinches for tacos at around 1 AM

My friend Chiraag at Pinches for tacos at around 1 AM

The next day, we made sure to check out the beautiful roof at Petit Ermitage during daylight. The gardens up there really do serve as a sanctuary for humming birds, which is totally awesome!

The roof garden at Petit Ermitage

The roof garden at Petit Ermitage

Sunrise in Los Angeles

Sunrise in Los Angeles

And then, all too soon, it was time to say farewell to Los Angeles once again and return to the steamy August hustle and bustle of New York City.  I sat in front of a misbehaving toddler for the six-hour flight (seriously not cool) and the only thing that made the experience bearable was my copy of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which  was pretty fantastic. If you’re looking for something amazing to read, there’s even a free preview of the first three chapters available on Amazon.

I’ll miss you, L.A. Until next time!

Silverlake

Home again, home again

I just spent last week in Los Angeles, partially to finalize Center Stage! (aka the Allison book) and to gather some images that I’ll need for it.  I was reminded once again of how L.A. always smells like flowers, how fantastic the coffee is (hooray for Intelligentsia!) and how it’s home to pretty much the best weather in the world.

Whenever I’m back in Los Angeles, I can’t help but get very nostalgic for Taylor Beauforte, Chase Atwood, and all of the characters in The Rock Star’s Daughter, especially when I’m in the neighborhoods of Larchmont and West Hollywood, where Taylor lived near Allison before the action of the book unfolds.

Here’s Rosewood Avenue, the street where Allison lives, not far from North Laurel, where Taylor lived with her mom at the beginning of the story:Rosewood Ave

Larchmont VillageAnd here’s quaint Larchmont Village just outside Hollywood, where Allison and Taylor used to ride the bus to get iced coffee in the summertime.

It is also coincidentally where I failed my first driving test by almost hitting a pedestrian. True story.

Two things are certain about my relationship with Los Angeles: it always inspires me, and it gets harder to leave every time I visit.

View from my room in Silverlake. Griffith Park Bouelvard!

My favorite thing about Los Angeles: flowers, flowers everywhere.

Perfect skies in Glendale.

My room in Silverlake. Check out the sunset view through that back porch!

Sunset over Silverlake.

Sudden snow storm!

Excuse me, but isn’t it almost MAY?

Last night, Brooklyn experienced a little surprise snow storm… hopefully the last of the season! I was sad this morning to find that a lot of the flowers that had already started to bloom had been treated to a little dusting of flurries.

photo 2 photo 1

Tomorrow, I’m off to the ear/nose/throat specialist to find out what the heck is wrong with my ear. For the last two weeks it’s been bugging me, and I think my persistent eye strain may be related. What’s super annoying about feeling under the weather right now is that it’s making it much harder to edit Center Stage! even though I’m getting a kick out of re-reading scenes that I barely remember writing!

Anyhow, my romantic interest in Center Stage! is named Elliott, and he’s very, very loosely inspired by singer/songwriter Elliot Smith, who passed away in Los Angeles eleven years ago.

 

Here’s a video for his classic, Angeles, which is a song that never fails to make me homesick when I hear it.

 

Center Stage! The inspirational play list

In writing Center Stage, I’ve found it really inspirational to listen to music that I think my main characters would favor. I’ve developed a sort of “inspiration playlist” to help the story unfold, and I thought it might be fun to introduce you to the story through music!

I like to believe that Allison Burch would have a strong appreciation for female vocalists with unique voices. Here are a few songstresses who I think Allison would idolize.

Hope Sandoval / Mazzy Star / Fade Into You

Fade Into You was a big hit when I was in high school, and even today it makes me feel melancholy and nostalgic whenever I hear it. No one in the industry has a voice quite as haunting as lead singer Hope Sandoval.

 

Fiona Apple / Sleep to Dream 

For a while there, in the 90’s, this was the anthem of all girls, everywhere, who aspired to be bad girls. As a songwriter, Fiona Apple packages angst and fury in her lyrics that seemed like a call to arms for all girls who’d been burned by dudes. “Don’t come around, I’ve got my own hell to raise,” she warns the guy who’s wronged her in this tune.

 

Kelly Clarkson / Since U Been Gone

I was a huge fan of Kelly Clarkson when she was on American Idol, and her first single did not disappoint.

I think Kelly’s at her best when she’s vindictive, and in this video as she’s tearing up some guy’s apartment, she cuts loose. It’s kind of hard to believe from Justin to Kelly came out eleven years ago. My, how time flies. In may ways, Allison is based on Kelly, as she was the first girl in the USA to become a huge breakout reality TV music star.

 

P!nk / Try

I’m not going to lie – this song gets the tears flowing and makes me have fantasies about karaoke glory, even when I’m standing in line to pay for diet soda at the deli!

In many ways this song was the inspiration for the dynamic between Elliott and Allison in Center Stage! and of course, P!nk is right. You’ve gotta get up and try, try, try.

 

What are your favorite videos, and do you have any favorite contestants from reality TV shows like The Voice and American Idol?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hello, everyone!

I’ve been hunkered down with the flu for the past week, but I wanted to send you guys some Valentine’s Day love from snowy Brooklyn.

Here are some photos of my block from taken this morning after our all-night Franken-thunder-snow storm.

Brooklyn’s so pretty right now it almost makes up for how freezing cold it’s been, how sniffling and sick everyone is, and how tired everyone in the general New York area everyone is of looking at the walls of their apartment.

I’m bundling up today to make it to the post office to ship off some cards and candies for my two most special Valentines: my niece and nephew.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

The Emma book – finally here!

I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting to make this announcement for ages, and have been holding off until the book’s been made available on Amazon as well as iTunes.
The Tycoon's DaughterThe Tycoon’s Daughter, aka The Emma Book, is finally available! You may remember the first mention of Emma in The Rock Star’s Daughter, when Taylor wanders into a mall and finds comfort in seeing the familiar face of her high school adversary in a window display at a Hunter Lodge store.

To all of her classmates at The Treadwell Academy, Emma appears to have everything a girl could want. She’s gorgeous and filthy rich, and if that weren’t enough, her father made her the face of the campaign for his iconic clothing brand. She’s on the cover of Hunter Lodge’s sexy catalog, and every teenage boy in America knows who she is.

But the tricky thing about having everything is that it can’t last forever. When Emma gains weight the summer before her junior year and her father’s creative team ever-so-gently removes her from the upcoming holiday catalog, her self-confidence is crushed.  What begins as a diet manifests into a dangerous obsession with losing weight, and as Emma pursues a high fashion modeling career to get revenge on her father, she quickly learns that everyone wants something from her, and rarely are other people’s intentions in her own best interest.

It took me quite a while to finish this book because I know from exchanging emails with my readers that body image obsession and self-harming behaviors are very, very common among this generation of teen girls. It seems like for the last ten years or so, young women have been force-fed even more unrealistic images of what the “ideal” body looks like by the media than when I was a teenager – back when Kate Moss’s Eternity ads launched a “heroin chick” wave of anorexia (not that Kate Moss should be personally blamed for that).  I’m not ashamed to say that I think the Victoria’s Secret Angel fashion show is about the most Satanic thing televised, ever, and I find it not surprising that there is no equivalent annual broadcast to send men into dizzy tailspins of dieting and exercise. However, times are changing. It delights me to see new faces on television and in movies of more diverse women being presented as “normal.” Lena Dunham’s a bit of a hero in this space, and I consider Ireland Baldwin (6’2!), Gabourey Sidibe, Demi Lovato, and Lorde to be refreshing role models for young women. Girls who say “this is who I am and how I look, deal with it” rather than publicly conforming to unhealthy standards, and women who have been vocal about their own struggles with body image so that young women feel less alone.

While Cameron Diaz isn’t a nutritionist or a psychiatrist, sometimes it’s more interesting for young women to get advice from someone who’s internationally famous for her beauty and talent, so I’m going to go ahead and plug her book, The Body Book. Cameron comes right out and states a simple fact that a lot of girls need to hear: when your body is hungry, you have to feed it. You have to feed it the right stuff and take care of it, because you’ve only got one life, and it’s a shame to go through it spending all of your time worrying about how other people view you.

Check out The Tycoon’s Daughter on Amazon and on iTunes.

On celebrities and eating disorders

I’m now just *days* away from the release of The Tycoon’s Daughter, the Treadwell book about Emma’s struggle with an eating disorder in the modeling industry. The book is very close to my heart, maybe more than all of the other Treadwell books in the series, because I think body image is such a profoundly important issue for young girls.
I’m sure this may be perceived as a bit of an inflammatory post because Little Monsters are quick to defend Lady Gaga, but knowing that, I’m going to post anyway.

Ke$ha

Ke$ha

Pop star Ke$ha, who landed her own record deal and became a star in her own right after singing backup for Britney Spears, just announced that she checked into Timberline Knolls, an eating disorder treatment center (oddly enough) in the town where my father lives outside Chicago. I can’t clap my hands loudly enough for her, because she’s let her fans know that this is an issue with which she personally struggles, and she’s demonstrating total girl power by getting help for it. THIS is setting a good example.
Last year, when Lady Gaga was called out by the press for gaining weight before her European tour, she made a big deal about informing her fans that she suffered from an eating disorder, then didn’t publicly make any statement about seeking treatment, and suddenly appeared 30 lbs slimmer in photos again once her tour ended. I’m a fan of Lady Gaga’s music, but I felt that this behavior of hers was completely counter-intuitive to her “Born This Way” platform and sent an indisputably negative message to fans, male and female, about body weight.

Jennifer Lawrence recently caused a stir when she told Barbara Walters that she thinks it should be illegal for the media to call people fat, and while I’m a big supporter of freedom of speech, I do think that there should be fines for making derogatory statements that impact how youth view themselves and their peers. Ms. Lawrence’s point that radio stations and networks are fined for cuss words is a valid one: who do cuss words really hurt, anyway? Do they inspire healthy kids to go on diets, find ways to get their hands on drugs to stimulate weight loss, and manifest in ways to cause other negative behaviors, like cutting? If more celebrities were forthright about their own personal struggles with body image, they might inspire more young fans to seek help and get serious about getting healthy.

Kudos to Ke$ha for her honesty and courage. I hope the lovely people of Lemont, Illinois take good care of her. For anyone struggling with this issue who could use some good advice, here’s one of my absolute favorite stars, Demi Lovato, addressing kids in treatment at Timberline Knolls, where she, herself, received treatment:

http://www.mtv.com/videos/news/746211/demi-lovato-stay-strong-visiting-timberline-knolls.jhtml

http://youtu.be/Lg16eBS152Y

Farewell, 2013!

Finding words to describe this last year is proving to be quite a challenge! It feels like it flashed by in a matter of seconds, thankfully without any major personal tragedies!

Some highlights of 2013:

  • Jamaica, Jamaica
  • Meeting Narciso Rodriguez (so nice)!
  • Completing The Tycoon’s Daughter (coming soon)!
  • Contributing to The Rock Gods of Romance book bundle
  • Powering through Seasons 1 – 3 of Damages
  • Sticking with Insanity and not being a wuss (thank you, Shaun T)!
  • Spending lots of time in my beloved Los Angeles

I also can’t express enough how very much all of the emails and reviews I’ve received on The Treadwell Academy series have meant to me this year. Writing is my passion, and while I don’t always get to devote as much time as I’d prefer to it, you guys make it ever so much worth the effort.

Resolutions for 2014?

  • Continue doing Insanity – no mercy!
  • Run a 10K (preferably somewhere warm and sunny)
  • Finish editing the sequel to The Rock Star’s Daughter – everyone keeps asking about Taylor!
  • Finish the first book in the Allison Burch series

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2014 to all of you!

jamaica

Rock Gods of Romance Book Bundle – 99-cents!

Today’s the day -

The Rock Gods of Romance book bundle is available on Amazon for Kindle for a limited time for 99-cents!
If you’re into rock star romances, this is six novellas in one book by USA Today & NY Times best-selling romance authors:

  • Liliana Rhodes – The Ballad of Jude
  • Marian Tee – The Rockstar I’ve Loved for So Long
  • Ava Lore – Record, Rewind
  • Mina Esquerra – Playing Autumn
  • K.T. Fisher – Heat
  • and ME

Since most of my readership is under the age of 18, the romance in my story is a bit tame… but if sexy is what you’re after, the other authors do not hold back! It’s a pretty scintillating holiday read.

 

RockGodsofRomance