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.

 

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?

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

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

Hurricane Emma… on its way

Hello, everyone! I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been so busy finishing The Tycoon’s Daughter and editing it for release that I

1) haven’t gone shopping in like… ages

2) haven’t gone to the beach in even longer

As I’ve been working on The Tycoon’s Daughter, I’ve been particularly sensitive to conversations going on around me about weight, food, and eating disorders, since that’s a huge part of Emma’s story. It’s always surprising to me, truly surprising, that so many women even my own age still struggle with all of these issues. So many girls define the quality of their lives on a daily basis by how they perceive their body to look, and ladies, we need to stop the madness.  I’m going to write a lot about this topic over the next few weeks, but in an effort to not be too preachy all at once, first I’m going to encourage everyone who has a computer to get their butt over to Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge.

Yes, it’s hippy new-agey stuff. Sort of. But it’s not just for old people, it’s for teenagers, too.

If you could feel better about yourself and see yourself as you really are instead of through the I-Hate-Myself lens by just spending a few minutes every morning clearing your mind and focusing on your own happiness, why would you avoid that?

Here’s a totally free way to have access to the world’s most famous physician and meditation guru: Deepak Chopra. He’s the guy celebrities turn to for help with establishing balance in their lives, and he’s made all of his best stuff FREE for all of us.

You may hate meditation. It may make you sleepy. That’s OK. The point is that too often we speed through our lives, letting negative thoughts build up. You are worth slowing down for a few minutes each day and focusing  on how YOU really feel.  Humor me. Just try it. And word: Jerry Seinfeld has been meditating for 40 years (since he was a teenager) and credits much of his success to it. So it’s not just for weird yoga people.

 

Spring is finally here!

Flowers in Cobble Hill The park in full bloom Wyckoff Street sunrise

 

It would appear that spring has finally arrived in Brooklyn while I’ve been away! 

I have a lot of surprises to post over the next few weeks related to the Emma book, the Taylor sequel… and whatever happened to Allison Burch, Todd’s sister and Taylor’s former best friend?

Here’s a hint: If you had an amazing set of pipes, who would you choose to be your mentor on The Voice? I know I’d pick Adam Levine (I’d pretty much pick Adam Levine for anything). 

Enter for your chance to win! Win! Win!

I totally love Alice Marvels, from its spot-on YA book reviews to its dreamy illustrations. And right now at this very second, they are not only featuring The Viscount’s Daughter in the Indie Spotlight section, but they’re also sponsoring an awesome giveaway!

You could enter for a chance to win one of three Treadwell Academy paperback trios, featuring The Rock Star’s Daughter (still in the Top 10 Romance books for teens after all these months!), The Believer’s Daughter, and The Viscount’s Daughter. And one grand prize winner will also win the books, plus a totally cute Kate Sutton-designed backpack for Le SportSac filled with nifty school supplies.

So you might not be going back to school at the Treadwell Academy, but you can take the Academy with you!  Don’t delay, enter before September 7th, and while you’re there, sign up for the Alice Marvels newsletter. They feature really fantastic books and always have tons of giveaways going on.

Good luck!

Tomorrow I’m off to the beach and I’ll be blogging all my shopping adventures.

Welcome to Madrid!

When I drafted my first outline for The Viscount’s Daughter and began planning for Betsey’s story to overlap with the continuation of Taylor’s in The Rock Star’s Daughter sequel (due out this fall), I needed a perfect destination for some of the action. It had to be a little exotic and luxurious, because (not to spoil too much of the plot) I wanted Jake to turn up in Taylor’s life again somewhere completely unexpected.

It also had to be a city where I’ve visited before, because it’s just too hard for me to try to convincingly write about a city to which I’ve never traveled.  I considered Berlin, but it didn’t seem like such a Taylor kind of town (it is, however, totally a Caitlyn kind of town). Paris was also an option, but given the circumstances of Betsey’s life, Paris wouldn’t have been anything out of the ordinary for her.

And then it came to me: Madrid! I visited Spain last year for my friend Tranner’s wedding (The Believer’s Daughter is dedicated to her) and fell head-over-heels in love with the sunny, friendly city. Everyone told me when I was planning my trip to go to Barcelona, Barcelona, Barcelona… and yet it was Madrid, ornate and modern, that captured my heart.

The fancy buildings of Madrid!

 

The grand, grand avenues of Madrid

 

Chocolateria San Ginas

 

 

Where Kristijan takes Betsey on her first night in Spain

I’ll be posting more pics and info about Madrid over the next few days to tell you more about this beautiful city, and help you visualize the events in the story as Kristijan, Betsey and Taylor invade Spain on a mission to prevent Todd from falling in love with another girl.

The Treadwell Academy – one year anniversary

Exactly one year ago today, The Rock Star’s Daughter was first published.

I had written the first book over the course of a year, inspired to write a story about how difficult it is to move forward in life after something completely unexpected happens. While my own dad is not a rock star (and probably if pressed to name a rock star, he might only be able to come up Mick Jagger) and my mom (thankfully) is in perfect health and is not at all the type to hang out in seedy bars in Hollywood, the event in my own life that inspired Taylor’s story was the very untimely death of a close friend. After the initial sadness and shock over his passing subsided, what was far more painful was the part that followed: figuring out how my life was still my life in his absence, when everything felt so different (and at the time, unbearable).  I shaped Taylor’s struggle to embrace all of the changes thrown at her on my own day-to-day acceptance of changes in my life.  Taylor’s story became one of triumphing over loss, of opening her heart to love even though she was in pain, when the risk of getting hurt (by everyone… her Dad, Jill, and Jake) was great.

Never, ever did I dare to dream that this book would be downloaded by hundreds of thousands (yes!) of readers, and that so many readers would review it so favorably and reach out to me. I’ve heard from readers who wished Taylor had chosen Jake instead of Todd, from readers who were angry that Allison never called back to apologize, from readers who have lost their own parents and identified with Taylor’s shock over her mother’s death, and readers who complained that Iowa doesn’t stink like manure!

Pretty much as soon as I started writing the Taylor book, I realized that there were a lot of other stories I wanted to tell about things girls go through at Tayor’s age. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than writing these stories, and I really cannot thank every single one of you who have downloaded the book and read it enough for your support. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this year so very special for me.

This summer, I’m busy editing books 3 & 4 (dealing with topics of sexual abuse and eating disorders) for release, and writing the sequel to Taylor’s story. In the follow-up, Taylor deals more thoroughly with her grief, but all of the Beauforte/Atwood clan will be back: Jill, Kelsey, Chase, Todd, even Betsey Norfleet…  and of course, Jake.

Finding Felix… welcome to Brighton Beach!

Hi fellow internet peoples! As promised yesterday, today I ventured out to the Brighton Beach/Coney Island neighborhood for the first time in quite a while. When I was new to New York, I made the journey out on the F train to the beach quite frequently.  It’s easy sometimes to forget that there’s a nice beach in Brooklyn accessible by the subway. And, like the character of Felix Katz in The Believer’s Daughter, a lot of people live out in the Brighton Beach area and commute about an hour into the city every day for work.

Can you imagine living just a few steps away from a beach and a carnival? I guess if you live near Santa Monica, you probably can. I was pleased to observe upon arriving at Coney Island this morning that it’s a lot cleaner and nicer than I remember, and I daresay the boardwalk is far less sleazy than the one in Venice Beach. Holla, New Yorkers!  I did, however, see an old man crash his bicycle into a brick wall when he was straining his neck to watch girls in bikinis jog past. Fortunately, no one was injured, and sadly, I was laughing too hard to capture the moment with my camera.

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Coney Island used to be a pretty seedy area, not too long ago. It was a place where you could still see old-fashioned sideshows, like bearded ladies, wolf boys and magicians pulling doves out of hats. For a while, its future was up in the air, but the new amusement park, Luna Park, seems to have brought a lot of the old charm back to the boardwalk while simultaneously getting rid of a lot of the weird, dirty carnival element.

Brighton Beach is a neighborhood rich in history and it has historically been a place where a lot of Jewish immigrants coming from Eastern Europe settle after arriving in New York (immortalized in Neil Simon’s very famous play, Brighton Beach Memoirs).  One of my favorite things about New York is that you can almost feel like you’re visiting another country without ever leaving the city. Brighton Beach exemplifies this perfectly; it’s a neighborhood where you hear a lot of Russian spoken, and if you walk a few blocks inland from the boardwalk, there are tons of Russian and Turkish restaurants. When I was creating the character of Felix, I knew I wanted him to be as different as possible from Grace. She’s a sheltered, spoiled girl raised, as her brother calls it, “behind the religious curtain.” I wrote Felix as a worldly, mature guy whose parents were raised behind the iron curtain, which is what Russia used to be referred to before Glasnost.