Why yes, it’s my Oscar fashion roundup…

After my last thinky-thoughts, navel-gazing post, we’re back to the frivolity and snark of fashion. I’m nowhere near as good as the Fug Girls, but I do my part. Like the Golden Globes, I was left more or less underwhelmed by the fashions—only a couple of gowns really stood out with one in particular and those of you who know me, will know well which one, that gave me the feeling of OMG WANT.

Okay, first things first: I know the Muppets are back in this year, but would designers please, please, please stop sacrificing their pelts? Nancy O’Dell and Viola Davis, come on down!

Like Paula Patton, Nancy felt the need to channel Big Bird while Viola… Dang, Viola, I really wanted to love on you and your gown. And I know a lot of people really seemed to, but… I just couldn’t get into it. First off the green was just so… Kermit-like. The satin was almost too too heavy and smooth (kind of rendering it with a pleather-like appearance) and the embellishments seemed as if they’d been applied with the leaf tip of a pastry bag. Besides, those of you who’ve been around these parts know how I feel about doing that to The Girls. They just didn’t look comfortable.

Channeling Elmo was Emma Stone. Actually, scratch that—while the color was quite Elmo-esque, most of my Twitter feed hit the nail on the head when they said she was auditioning for a role as a Lexus. Can’t say I disagree—I’m not a fan of bows in general and this abomination was just… well. Girl wore it with confidence at least.

As for the actual Muppet fashionista in the audience? Miss Piggy looked quite fetching in a custom Zac Posen with Fred Leighton jewelry. Girl’s been doing this a long time and it showed.
(Seriously ladies, when the Muppet outdoes most of you on the red carpet, it’s time to consider firing your stylist.)

I dunno, like I said, I was fairly underwhelmed overall. Like any year, there were a few actively bad gowns, but mostly it was a collection of meh with a side of “Really? Not that it’s bad, but you thought that looked good on you?”

White seemed to be fairly predominant last night with a range of va-va voom to “Oh, girl, no. Just.. no.”

Oh, J-Lo…

I’m just not even sure what to make of this. It might work on the ballroom floor (no, really, give it a more flowing skirt and strategic inserts in the bodice, and it wouldn’t be bad, for a white dress), but to present at the Oscars? Oh, and her stylist is claiming the gown had “special cups” to prevent any accidents, that the dress was a magnificent confection of nude and white fabrics (or summat like that) and the joke was on those of us who thought we saw something. Got news for you sunshine—there’s not that much nude fabric where most of us saw the slippage. I just couldn’t shake the feeling she was eyeing down Rooney Mara from the stage and thinking, “See, little one? I don’t have to pierce my Girls to get them international attention.”

The rest of the look? Eh—typical J-Lo. Shiny face, skinned back bouffant, blah, blah, blah. Whatevs.

Going on with the white theme: Continue reading

I’m baaaa-aaaack! AKA The Golden Globes Fashion Roundup

Hello, darlings– no I’m not dead. Just been hanging more on FB and Twitter these days because I seem to only think in short bursts. Which sounds vaguely dirty, but that’s neither here nor there. Awards season has started and as such, I will be venturing back into long form for my usual fashion round-ups.

Now, I know there are probably several of you who are new, maybe coming over here from Twitter or FB and you’re probably wondering what sort of credentials I have for offering a fashion round-up. Well, none, really. Other than I have a lifelong love of fashion and actually, did grow up around the industry, with my mother, in her day, serving as a production pattern maker for several high end sportswear and evening wear designers (if you ever watch pageants, you’ve definitely seen stuff she worked on– even now. Those patterns last forever.). She’s also quite an accomplished seamstress in her own right, making various gowns and dresses for me throughout my life, including the Edwardian-styled creation that was my wedding gown.

Twenty yards of silk taffeta, point d’Alençon lace, and over 10K pearls, y’all– the woman may drive me nuts, but that’s love, you know? Also, I have no idea who let me get married that young.

Needless to say, I still love fashion and adore dressing in red carpet style when the occasion demands (sweats the rest of the time, for I am nothing if not practical), and when awards season rolls around, watch avidly to see who’s wearing what and who pissed off their stylist. Seriously, you’d think Sarah Jessica and J-Lo would learn, right?

Anyhow– the Golden Globes.

*disclaimer: all pictures the property of their respective photographers/agencies. No infringement intended, no profit being made.

Huh. Well, dear readers, sad to say, I was seriously underwhelmed with a side of WTF were they thinking? on occasion. I don’t even know where to start, exactly, so I guess I’ll just dive on in.

First case of WTF, Paula Patton. Girl, I think it’s illegal to have skinned Big Bird and wear him as a dress. I’m sure he’s on the endangered species list. Seriously, very, very few people can wear that color (and I acknowledge my own bias against it, since I really do dislike yellow) but I think if you’re going to wear it, sleek and streamlined is the way to go, not misguided prom gown.

Speaking of misguided. And they presented together. Piper and Sarah Michelle… girls, did you consult with each other ahead of time? I think not.

Okay, Piper. You’re a lovely lady with a lithe figure. You also have no curves or chest to speak of. Whoever put you in a gown that has a bodice more commonly found on holiday dresses for toddlers needs to be spanked. Severely. Couple that with the skirt that nearly swallowed poor Peter Dinklage and we have an issue of proportions. Now, Sarah Michelle… sweetie, I actually did want to like your gown. I will admit to applauding the use of the fabric—I thought it was vibrant and different, but as I’ve said before and will probably say until the end of time, if one aspect of the gown really stands out, in this case, the pattern of the fabric, it’s best to keep everything else streamlined. There was just too much going on with the poofy skirt and the peplum. I applaud your hair and jewelry, however. They were simple and worked.

End result, Piper and Sarah Michelle looked like a pair of meringues.

There seemed to be a slight trend of video game screens doubling as dress bodices. Zooey, Salma, step forward, if you please?

Yanno, I kind of really wanted to like Zooey’s if only because it was a bold choice in a sea of blah. I just couldn’t get the Galaga sound effects out of my head every time I saw her. Salma, on the other hand… well, girl can wear her gown, rather than it wearing her. But again, very 80s-era video game, somehow. Continue reading

A Holiday Freebie, from me, to you!

In honor of the holidays and because I’ve been entirely too quiet of late (sorry about that!) I decided to resurrect a holiday story I posted several years back as part of a holiday blog tour. It’s been revised a bit and converted to a PDF so those of you who are so inclined can download it for reading on your favorite device. Or just read it on your computer, whatever floats your boat.

Mila and Adam, the stars of the little tale, are both chefs. This story was huge fun to write since I got to use my favorite friends-to-lovers trope, plus incorporate my love of cooking with every excessive tradition I remember from holiday celebrations growing up in a large Cuban family in Miami. Each thing mentioned in the story—the pistols at midnight, the sparklers in a cake, the relatives who worry that you’re going to wind up an old maid, the food—oh boy, the food—that’s all from my childhood. It’s a wonder I turned out as normal as I did.

BONUS: If you retweet with the hashtag #SWEETFINISH by New Year’s Eve, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a signed copy my award-winning young adult novel, WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE.

So, without further ado, Sweet Finish: A slightly silly, somewhat sweet story of two best friends who really, should always have known better.

But then, isn’t that how it always goes?


Sweet Finish


You guys have NO idea how excited I am by this one… have been for quite a while. So of course, the week I’m supposed to load it, I have a massive remodeling project going on. Luckily, this one is definitely worth waiting for and even more luckily, I think Jenn will forgive me, since I love her writing so very, very much.

Anyhow, without further ado, this week’s tour: LOVE STORY.

From Jennifer Echols, the award-winning author of Going Too Far and Forget You, comes LOVE STORY(Gallery Books; July 19, 2011; $11.00), a provocative and powerful story of teen romance, set against the bustling world of a New York City university.

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions – it’s her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family’s racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin’s college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a local coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter… so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she’s sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He’s joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin’s heart with longing. Now she’s not just imagining what might have been. She’s writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter… except this story could come true.

“A tremendously talented writer with a real gift for developing relationships.”
– Romantic Times Magazine

So now, for a little more about Jenn…

Dark or milk chocolate? Milk!
Thin or thick crust pizza? Thin!
Lakes or oceans? Both! Heaven.
Ben & Jerry’s or Häagen Dazs? Häagen Dazs.
Lady Gaga or Katy Perry? (If neither, then who?) Katy Perry. Hilarious.
GLEE or Vampire Diaries? (Or whatever show currently has your fancy) Mythbusters. (Barb’s note: You and my kids would get along great. They have talking Adam & Jamie bobble head dolls.)
Ten or Eleven? (For the Doctor Who fans– if you’re not one, then has there ever been a show or film or book that turned you into a hardcore fan?) X-Files. I was an X-Phile back in the day.
Coke or Pepsi? Diet either.
Growing up, astronaut or supermodel? Astronaut. Our family togetherness TV program was Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos.”

Final question: If your book had a theme song, what would it be?
“The Only Exception” by Paramore.

Thank you, Jenn!

JENNIFER ECHOLS is the author of teen romantic dramas for MTV Books and teen romantic comedies for Simon Pulse. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her family. Please visit her online at www.jennifer-echols.com.


Such great, great things going on with my friend Melissa– her wonderful book, SMALL TOWN SINNERS has gotten great press, including a review from the New York Times! (SQUEE!)

Seriously, this is one you want to go check out, because it’s that rarest of things: a fantastic contemporary novel that is both relevant right now and will endure and become timeless.


“A devilishly good read.” —Lauren Myracle, NY Times bestselling author of Shine


New York (Winter 2011)— Inspired by an article on Hell Houses (haunted houses of sin) she wrote for ELLEgirl magazine, journalist Melissa Walker set out to delve deeper into the culture of this phenomenon, as well as the community that creates them. The result: Small Town Sinners (July), a universal story of first love and finding your voice set against the backdrop of extreme religion. This thought-provoking, touching story of faith in family, friends and self will have readers endlessly talking about and sharing this break-out novel.

“I was so intrigued by the small town I traveled to and the warmth of all the teenagers I met, plus their obvious passion for this production, that I had to revisit that world,” said Walker.

Hell Houses are often run by fundamentalist Christian churches and emphasize the belief that anyone who does not accept Christ as their personal savior is condemned to Hell. The way they often work is that a script is written covering a variety of sins each of which is performed within its own vignette in its own room in the house. A guide leads the visitors through each room acting as narrator. The performances have a controversial tone focusing on issues such as abortion, suicide, drinking and drug use, premarital sex, and homosexuality. Hell Houses usually take place in the fall.

Small Town Sinners is the story of Lacey Anne, daughter of the pastor and perennial good girl, who is eligible for a lead role in the season’s Hell House production—a role she’s been coveting for years. But when Ty moves to town as casting begins, a new perspective is added to Lacey Anne’s world and she starts to see her tight-knit, Evangelical community in a different light. With the help of her two best friends Starla Joy and Dean, and her potential first love Ty, Lacey Anne begins exploring her own thoughts and feelings about her religion, her community, and her place within both. While this novel deals with provocative issues like religion, teen pregnancy and underage drinking, it is not an “issue” book; the topics are masterfully interwoven into this story of friendship and family.

Early readers agree:

“Small Town Sinners shines a light on the fascinating world of the teenage Hell House. Sit back and let Melissa Walker be your guide. She writes without a shred of judgment and plenty of heart.” —Dana Reinhardt, author of A Brief Chapter of My Impossible Life

“Walker is sympathetic and respectful of her characters’ faith, while putting on display the shocking extremist scare tactics that make Hell Houses, well, hellish.” —Donna Freitas, author of This Gorgeous Game and The Possibilities of Sainthood.

“A non-judgmental, nuanced, fascinating look at the teenage religious right… Walker writes an outstanding contemporary novel with a cast of characters who, far from being portrayed as hateful zealots, are relatable for readers of all faiths. The extremism of Hell House is tempered by the perfectly understandable attitudes and intentions of Lacey Anne, who struggles with what it means to grow up, to question and to think for herself.” –Romantic Times

“Both tender and provocative… Walker creates an astutely balanced portrait of a conservative congregation’s in-your-face response to perennial issues of domestic abuse, teen pregnancy, and suicide, as well as of those who struggle to fit the prescribed Christian mold.” –Publishers Weekly

“This secular story about religious people could easily devolve into camp mockery, but because Walker takes her character’s crisis of faith seriously and sensitively, readers will, too.” –Kirkus Reviews

MELISSA WALKER: Melissa has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. She is the author of the Violet on the Runway series as well as Lovestruck Summer. Melissa manages I Heart Daily, an e-newsletter and blogs for ReaderGirlz, an online community for teens. http://www.melissacwalker.com

Going to New York. Are you?

Sorry, the apathy in blogging continues, although shockingly, I have been posting to FB & Twitter more frequently. I guess if it’s not about full on creative writing, my mind is only good for short bursts these days.

Anyhow, I do have some updates– I’m going to NYC next week for no fewer than three events (plus my mother will be flying up to meet me for a couple of days, oy!). So, if you’re in the ‘hood and interested, I’d love to see you.

In order:

2011 Teen Author Carnival

Monday, May 23, 2011
Time: 4pm-7pm
Admission: FREE!

Mulberry Street Library
10 Jersey Street
(Between Lafayette & Mulberry Streets)
New York, NY 10012-3332

I’ll be on a panel called, Teenage Angst: Getting It Right – The Emotions, The Voice, The Drama and just check out the list of authors who are also part of the panel.

Seriously, y’all. I’m plotzing.

1. David Levithan
2. Susane Colasanti
3. Melissa Walker
4. Kody Keplinger
5. Hannah Moskowitz
6. Gayle Forman
7. Torrey Maldonado

On Thursday I’ll be at Book Expo America signing at the Romance Writers of America booth from 9:30-10:00 AM.

And then Friday I’m at the Backspace Conference presenting on a YA panel there.

Saturday I fly home, fall down, go boom.

Please come see meeeeee!


I haven’t been blogging as much lately. I don’t know– part of it is I just don’t have a lot to say. Okay, well, I have plenty to say, but a lot of it is very cynical and harsh and yanno, I just don’t need to fling open the doors of my personal Bitter Barn all that wide.

I will say, though, that I have been writing. New stuff. Different stuff.

I should be working on revising Between Here & Gone, since as Lovely Agent put it, “You wrote two different books.” She’s not wrong. But after three years of work on that sucker, I just can’t stand to look at it right now. Even though I know how I want to change things up. But it would be some massive changing and right now… I just can’t. I’d so wanted it to be the book, the one that finally breaks me into adult writing, and instead, it was just a massive pile of bat guano. At least the second half of it was.

And as long as that’s how I feel about it, probably best I not work on it, you feel me?

But what I have been working on is fun. And exciting. And I did mention different, right? Right.

One is a YA, one is an adult, both have paranormal elements and no, that wasn’t a conscious choice or that I’m trying to write to market or anything. It’s just what the lizard brain prodded me to work on. I think it probably figured I was sick to death of contemporary realistic, since it hasn’t exactly been doing me any favors lately and frankly, it felt tired, like I was sort of sleepwalking through the process, so it decided I needed something completely out of my usual comfort zone.

Boy howdy, is this out of my comfort zone. Both of them. Aside from the paranormal elements, there’s the fact that I’m writing both in third person POV. Don’t ask me why– it’s just what the story demanded. Mostly because there are multiple POVs that need to be explored and again, multiple first hasn’t exactly worked for me in the past. And I think rather than beat my head against the wall, trying to get the industry to bend to my will (again, because that’s worked so well in the past), I decided to just go with it. And I’m trying really hard not to feel as if I’m conceding the battle, which is stupid, but tell it to my competitive psyche.

See, what I’m telling my competitive psyche is: “Look, doofus, you began writing in first person because it suited your skill set at the time. Now you’re a better writer, you can take all that you’ve learned in first and translate it to third person POV and rock the hell out of it.”

It’s actually working. My third, if I do say so myself, is actually pretty strong. It still doesn’t come quite as naturally as first, but hello– I’ve been writing in first person POV for nearly ten years.

At any rate, I’m hoping that these really are working as well as I think they are because I’d love nothing more than to be able to share them. The adult in particular is wicked fun to write (and I’m creeping myself out monumentally with it).

Anyhow, that’s me. For now.

Wanna practice your pitch at RWA National?

So amidst the outpouring of auction support for Japan (and yay, for all the wonderful authors contributing) there’s also another auction happening right now that’s for a bit more intimate cause. A wonderful and tireless supporter of the romance community, Fatin, who runs several blogs and sites, tragically lost her husband a few weeks back in a senseless act of violence, leaving her a young widow with four children. (Details here)

In response, the romance community for which she’s been such a passionate advocate is extending a helping hand, hosting an auction that went live yesterday to raise funds for Fatin and her children.

As my contribution, I’ve offered up lunch combined with pitch practice at RWA National this June. And you know, having done this for a while, I’m actually pretty good at the pitch thing, so if you or someone you know is going to National and freaking out about pitching, this is a good way to deal with the jitters and do something nice at the same time.

In addition to my modest little offering, there are also scads of book bundles and critiques and really unique items/experiences/services up for auction, so you should check it out and tell your friends.

Operation Auction 2011. There will be new items rotating in over the next few days, so be sure to check often.