Backstage

Backstage, in Russian! Free on Wattpad.

 

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The Rock Star’s Daughter, a book report!

I just was google-stalking myself and found Robyn’s book report. It’s very well done. I’m not sure I could describe the plot of the book on camera better than she’s done. Bravo, Robyn!

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

Reasons to be thankful this year

Today when I called home to wish my family a Happy Thanksgiving (work obligations have kept me in New York this weekend), my three-year-old nephew. Declan, proudly informed me that he is “wearing khakis” and for Christmas would like a “whacker.” My sister explained that he is very enthusiastic about the sound of the word “khaki” and likes to announce his choice in clothing–even to strangers–if doing so offers him an opportunity to say it. A “whacker” is apparently his own term for a spatula, which he routinely uses to march around the house and thwack furniture.

Recently, when I was out to lunch with my three-year-old niece, Maggie, I tried to teach her how to say the world “quesadilla.” With an eye roll, she stated, “My mouth isn’t big enough to say that word.”

This year, I am thankful for all the little kids in my life, and for the laughs they bring me. I am also profoundly grateful not only for the readers who take the time to read my work, but for the time I’ve been able to spend working on new stories. Time really is a blessing, I’m realizing increasingly as I get older. Prioritizing ways to spend it isn’t much fun because there are never enough hours to get everything accomplished. For this reason, it means so very much to me every single time a reader downloads one of my books and invests a few hours going on a journey with me.

Thanks, guys. I hope you’re all enjoying peaceful and memorable days with your loved ones today, even if you’re not in the U.S!

Image

Reflections on the news this week

One of the most important things that I try to accomplish with the Treadwell Academy series is to emphasize the importance of acceptance among teenage girls, and fighting the idea of judging peers based on appearances.  From what I’ve observed and been told by my teen readers on Wattpad.com, today’s teens face a level of scrutiny from their peers that’s so much more intense than what I remember facing in middle school, junior high, and high school. It’s coming at them from all directions: their classmates, the media, even anonymous strangers on social media platforms. For so many girls, the message that they receive from every voice they hear is that their appearance (and every element of it) is the total sum of their worth, and all that matters about them.

What does this have to do with Trayvon Martin? Quite a lot. I’ve held back from posting my initial reaction to the verdict in the Zimmerman case because I do respect the due process in our country; being innocent until proven guilty is the cornerstone of our legal foundation and I have to trust that the jury did their job. However, I do feel that there were a great number of avoidable circumstances on the night that Trayvon was shot that could have—and should have – been avoided. The most significant of those circumstances is that Trayvon was judged from afar by his appearance: the color of his skin and his manner of dress.

It would be irresponsible for me to post this to my blog without being brutally honest: I’m a white lady and I live in a part of Brooklyn that was kind of rough until pretty recently. There are times, especially if I’m outside at night, when I feel a little glimmer of fear whenever I see a group of teenagers of *any* race out on the street. Teens do dumb things to impress their friends. They aren’t in complete control of their impulses yet, and can’t yet emotionally understand the full impact of actions. This is simple biology. When information surfaced about Trayvon posting about guns and weed on his social media profiles, I’ll admit it: I cringed. But what 17-year-old hasn’t been interested in really stupid things, and also done stupid things? 17 is the age when kids are only just starting to figure out what kind of people they want to become. Experimentation is part of that. What kids do at the age of 17 not a true indication of the direction their lives will take, only a reflection of the influences around them. The  part of Trayvon’s story that makes my heart hurt is that Trayvon’s chance to make decisions about what kind of man he would grow up to be was robbed from him because someone made an assumption about him based on the way he looked.

As an author, I see a glaring lack of reading material for girls with protagonists who any race other than white. I will fess up to being part of the problem – so far all of the books in the Treadwell series are about wealthy white girls. And what I’m getting at here isn’t that black girls should read books for black girls, and that Asian girls should read books for Asian girls; the point is that if a book is great, the race of its main character(s) shouldn’t dissuade readers. I have an outline written for a story about a character named Ameerah whose father is a famous music producer, but I am intimidated to write it because I am afraid I wouldn’t be able to do a story told by a young, female black protagonist justice. I don’t have an authentic understanding of what it’s like to be a young black girl in this country, and I’m terrified of getting it wrong and offending readers.  But I do understand what it’s like to be a young girl who wants things that her parents don’t want her to have, which is at the heart of the outline I wrote for Ameerah a long time ago. That story, I can write, and I have to ask myself just how important the color of Ameerah’s skin is to her character, and to the plot.

If you have thoughts about race in America, or race in YA fiction or fiction in general, I would really love to hear them. The last few weeks have revealed that there is still an enormous, gaping problem of racism in this country. We may have elected a black president, but as a country we are not doing enough to respect all cultures and view each other as equals. And this is painfully evident on the book shelves in the kids’ section of every book store I’ve ever visited in this country (not the book stores’ fault – where are the books, publishing industry?). We find our heroes in books, we understand our world through reading. 

Jamaica, Jamaica

Yeah, mon! I was lucky enough to visit Jamaica last week for a long overdue vacation. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and I was constantly impressed by how welcoming and friendly everyone in Jamaica is.

Here are some pictures from the beach, including one I took of the crab that was circling my beach chairs and planning to attack me for hours.

If you’re my follower on Wattpad, stay tuned shortly for some exciting rock ‘n roll-related news!

Sunset in Mo'Bay near the pier Sunset Montego Bay My stalker, the crab

With love to Oklahoma

Like so many people reading the news today, I am humbled and sorrowed by the stories coming out of the Oklahoma City area this week. If you’ve ever experienced a powerful act of nature like a serious hurricane, tornado, or blizzard before, you have an idea of how utterly powerless you feel in the face of conditions you can’t escape or control. It seems like in the last year, there have been so many admirable actions taken by teachers in our country to protect children from oncoming danger, and this week we meet a new crop of heroes like Tammy Glasgow, Julie Simon, and Waynel Mayes. I’m so profoundly moved by the bravery of these men and women, who in spite of their own terror, put the safety of the children in their care first.

Dispatch from West Hollywood

 

 

I set the beginning of The Rock Star’s Daughter in West Hollywood because the neighborhood really embodies this kind of tangible, sunshine-y glamour that you can only find in Los Angeles. It’s a neighborhood where cute little houses with elaborate gardens can be found right next door to big modern office buildings, and it also happens to be a neighborhood with some of the best shopping in all of California. When I imagined where a woman like Dawn Beauforte might settle down to raise a daughter, I decided she’d probably not venture far from where she’d spent wild nights as a young woman: the Sunset Strip right in WeHo.

In West Hollywood, there’s the magnificent Beverly Center mall, endless chic boutiques on Melrose, and my personal favorite, the ever-amazing Kitson on Robertson, where you can find fake Celine Paris t-shirts (Feline Meow!)  and all kinds of sequined, cashmere awesomeness.  Right now Kitson has these rockin’ fleece shirts by Wildfox with all kinds of screenprinting that looks kind of 80’s retro, and I was tempted to buy every single one of them, but didn’t because very soon it’s going to be 9 billion degrees in New York City and the last thing I should be buying is fleece. Shopping on Robertson

Book Soup on Sunset

 

Anyhow, above is a picture of Robertson on a crystal clear shopping day, and one of my favorite places in the world, Book Soup bookstore on Sunset Boulevard!