Photographic Memory

Two amazing things happened last week while I was visiting my family in Toronto. Okay, I’m lying. So many amazing things happened because I spent an entire week with my bloods and we crack each other up. And since I’m (RHYME ALERT) no longer in their faces on a daily basis they appreciate my humor (humour) a lot more than they used which is good for the old confidence.

But two things stood out as Blah-g-worthy.

One is this picture I found. It’s my family the day I graduated Emerson College. Em er some serious glares from the flash but try to look past that.


At the time I had no idea I’d be a writer. No idea printed photographs would become obsolete. No idea what I’d do the next day to pay my rent.

There’s something creepy and empowering about looking back on this picture now that I know how my story has evolved. How the world has evolved. How my hair has evolved.

We returned to Laguna Beach on Monday and went straight to Sapphire, our favorite local restaurant. As the hostess, an ah-dorable girl named Natalie, led us to the table (the best one–thx Natalie!!) she said she recently reread the first Clique book. It came out when she was nine. She is nineteen now. Ten years!!! Seriously?? How did that happen? I am about to release my 30th book.

I want to slip into that old photograph (is there an app for that?) and grab the bottle of champagne from unemployed Lisi’s monkey paw. At that moment she was broke, financially cut off from her parents, using an electric typewriter (no spell check!!). I want to pop the cork and pour us a glass and say, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”

Which brings me to the second amazing thing. The Pretenders groundhog poked her head out of the Canadian soil last week and you know what that means… Pretender’s season is starting early this year!!!!!!!!!

Everyone at Little Brown is so pumped about the series they have changed the release date. It’s not longer 10.15. It’s now OCTOBER 1st. Erin my editor/groundhog called last week to tell me the news. By the time we hung up** the phone I felt like I had done an hour of cardio. That’s how pumped my internal organs were.

We released a (RHYME ALERT) sneak peek last week of chapter one on but that is soooo last week. This week you can get an ebook free preview available wherever ebooks are sold! So grab your nook, your kindle, your iPad, your Ouija Board, and sneak that peek. You’re so worth it.

Let me know ASAP who your favorite Pretender is and which boy you’d rather watch a horror movie with.

Talk to me!!!



** I just realized how unfit that expression is for 2013. Phones don’t “hang up” any more. Calls end. Gawd English language…keep up, will ya?

Photo Bomb!

How was the BOYFAST????? Do tell.

It’s Spring Break for a lot of you right now and since spring weather hasn’t sprung for most of us I’ve decided to focus on the break part. That means no blah-g reading for you and no blah-g writing for me. That doesn’t mean you’re totally free though. I still need you so sit back down and focus.

I have to put a new author photo on the Pretenders series and I need help. Which one do you like? I HATE posing more than I hate cardio. So you can only imagine how painful this was for me. Be nice.

Lisi-2013-248Lisi-2013-252Lisi-first-pass-194 Lisi-2013-327

Here’s what we’ll call them:

#1- Who Invited The Serious Author?

#2-Sassy Smirk.

#3- Romance, Party of One.

#4- The Goober That I Am.

I’d love your feedback, since you are my inner circle.



The Long Leakend

Happy Wednesday everyone. It was a happy one for me I’ll tell you that. Alisha (office elf) and I spent the entire day talking about the plot for the second book in the series formerly-known-as-Phoenix-Five and we were dying laughing. I mean duh-iiii-ing! I can’t believe I’m working on the second one and you haven’t even read the first. Catch up will ya! As promised, I am leaking another entry from the series. This is the fifth and final character. After this I must shut off the leaky faucet until the book is released (Sept. 2013). But that doesn’t mean I won’t be prone to occasional drips. I still have to announce the new name of the series, show you the cover art, and post a pic of the final Gracelet.  All in the next few weeks– hang tight. It’s easy, see…LisiHang

But first, say hello to Vanessa Charlot Riley.

The English assignment given by Ms. Silver on September 6, 2011, @ 1:47 PM is as follows: Each student must record his or her innermost thoughts and feelings during freshman year at Noble High. The goal is to have a safe place to connect with ourselves. The challenge will be finding our voices and the courage to embrace them. These journals will not be graded or read. Ms. Silver will inspect them at the end of the year to make sure we filled all 250 pages. That is it. We will also have to write an essay about self-discovery and what we learned. But we are not supposed to focus on that now.
At 1:49 PM I inquired as to whether we would benefit by filling additional journals. To which she responded, “Not in the form of grades.” To which I asked, “Will our GPAs benefit?” To which she replied, “No. Your soul will.” To which I thought, “Forget it, then.”
Thusly, my strategy moving forward is to pen one journal’s worth of “innermost thoughts and feelings” while focusing primarily on reward-based endeavors. I will, however, transcribe all feelings and thoughts associated with said “endeavors” here. Since that’s the whole point of this exercise.
I will commence with a brief character profile.
My name is Vanessa Charlot Riley. I am fourteen. My hair is light brown and as curly as an old-fashioned telephone cord. I have green eyes and caramel-colored skin. My mother hails from Haiti, my father Queens. I’m told I look like a much, much, much younger Vanessa Williams. Better than Venus Williams. Ha.
As columnist Gina Simmons from the Noble Independent put it, “Exotic and striking, even Vanessa’s features overachieve…” And my middle school principal signed my yearbook with, “Beauty and Brains, you are proof that girls can, and should, have both.”
I prefer using quotes to characterize myself for three reasons:
1) Quotes promote opinions to facts.
2) No one likes a gloater.
3) I must be liked.
My favorite hobby is winning. It’s euphoric. The endorphins fill my heart with sunshine and carbonate my blood. Sadly, said “hobby” has an ugly side too. One I oft compare to the ever-stale Bazooka bubble gum; tough work for a moment of sweetness. But, oh, how sweet that moment is. Hence, the reason I’m always chasing that next piece.
Well, it’s kind of the reason.
Veritas ? It goes deeper than sunshine and carbonated blood. I’m just not sure how to explain it, since “it” is more of a feeling than an actual thing.
Actually, it’s fragments of a feeling. Fleeting fragments like scattered dandelion fluff. Fuzzy bits drift by but I’ve never tried to grab them or piece them into thoughts. Maybe because thinking them in full would make them real. And I don’t want them to be real because they have to do with my parents. But you asked for innermost so I’m going to connect the fuzzy bits and tell you what I try not to think about. Ready?
It’s my parents. How much they fight. And why that affects my grades and wardrobe.
This morning began with a screaming match about my older brother A.J. Then it became about Dad and how he’d rather dissect computers than listen to stories about Mom’s evil boss at the hotel. Which transitioned into the things Mom flushes down the toilet. Nothing says “Good luck on your first day of high school” like an argument about clogged pipes.
I’m never involved in these squabbles but I am allergic to conflict so I suffer. Veritas? Fighting sounds make me itchy. I have red marks all over my arms and legs to prove it. You’d think I was jumped by the Real Housewives of New Jersey on Acrylic Day.
Peers assume I’m modest because I wear long sleeves to keep from scratching. Modesty on a girl with features that “overachieve” does make her more likable, so it’s not all bad. But it’s not all good, either. Obvious frump factor aside, running track in sweats leads to heatstroke. In 98 percent humidity it induces hallucinations. But it’s worth it. First place means my parents will stay together another day. And second means they might not. So I cover up and run like a nose in flu season.
You see, every time I get an A, or win something, or am elected, or crowned, or honored, or published, or profiled, we celebrate at Benihana’s. A.J. and I can order anything we want. Wear whatever we want. We’re even allowed to get double desserts. The only thing we can’t do at Beni’s is fight. It’s our family rule. And like chewed Bazooka it sticks.
In summation: Overachieving = Benihana’s = Peace = No divorce.
If you focus on success, you’ll have stress. But if you pursue excellence, success will be guaranteed. ―Deepak Chopra

For more on Vanessa check out her Pinterest boards.

Have a great week!




HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULIA!!!! I’ve been trilling happy birthday so much that the birds–mistaking me for one of them–have gathered. See?

Photo on 1-16-13 at 3.32 PM

In honor of your sixteenth thirteenth birthday, I will leak another journal entry from the formerly-named-soon-to-be-renamed-Phoenix-Five. Meet Lily Bader-Huffman.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011.

Here are the headlines: My name is Lily, I turn fifteen next month, and I am eating for three. Wait, I think it’s four if you count me, and ready for this, Mom and Dad are klueless kuz I still look way-skinny thanks to Karess.

Not only is Karess an educated personal trainer slash DJ on Sundays, he is the father of my triplets. Oh, and he’s all into spelling C words with K’s so now I am too.

Back to my skinnyness.

Karess recommended protein bars and energy drinks to keep the baby weight off and ready for this: Five months pregnant and I’ve already lost 11 pounds. Kan you believe?

Once I “show” we’ll Greyhound it to L.A. and open a gym called Kut. It will kost a million dollars to join so we kan get rich in one day. Karess wants to name the kids Karb, Kalorie, and Kardio. Luv it. Luv him. Luv the kreativity.

School is for unpregnant losers. Like what’s the point of this journal assignment if I’m going to open a gym? Also my hand is shaking kuz I’ve had seven energy drinks on an empty stomach. Well, empty of food, not triplets. Point is it’s hard to write.

Klass is over! Next stop, kemistree.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011.


I left my journal on the kitchen table for six whole hours. Mom made two attempts to bust the lock, first at 4:27 PM and again at 7:19 PM, but she couldn’t guess my combo (A.D.’s b-day). Even if she did, and then managed to hide the clues, I’d know. That fake entry about Karess would shock her blind. She’d start circling the living room like a mad cow; slamming into bookcases, knocking over newspaper stacks, tripping on lamp cords. Believe me, I’d know.

Thanks to this sturdy locking mechanism, I can be free. Free to discover the real Lily Bader-Huffman. Not the A+ student, with the hot male best friend, who has been home-schooled for eight years. The one who is forming beneath her. Growing like a shadow. Faceless and distorted; elongating and reaching; determined to make her secret dream come true. Determined to be normal and popular and kissed by—


❤ Lily Bader-Huffman version 2.0

Next week I will leak the final character’s entry and eventually the series title. UGH! Something white just splattered on my shoulder… There’s some serious fly-arrhea going on in this office. I’m going to make like a PC and open my Windows.



Zit Wit

Hi everyone and Lauren. Yes, I am giving special love to Lauren because she posted a comment saying my skin always looks good and I’m a sucker for a compliment. So before I leak the next journal entry from the series formerly known as Phoenix Five–nope, still no title–I am going to answer Lauren’s question about my skin care routine.

I must admit I don’t drink enough water and I ADORE being tanned so I’m afraid I have to thank my Bubbie Rose for the skin. Hers was seriously insane. I think growing up on the east coast helped because I could only melatonin-binge in the summer months. One thing I did do was moisturize with vitamin E cream every single day, even as far back as middle school. I never sleep in makeup. And I wash with Cetaphil. Nothing fancy. Pinky swear.

Okay, fine. You want to know the truth? I have a zit on the side of my face that I have been picking like crazy. Said zit will be a crater and eventually a scar if I don’t stop but my GAWD its impossible to stop. Look…

Photo on 1-9-13 at 3.45 PM

While I’m on the subject of truth, here is the first secret journal entry from my third character in ex-Phoenix Five. Meet Jagger.

Sept. 6.
Feelings? Get real. I stopped having feelings on February 13, 2011-the day my parents got tossed in jail.  
I’ve been emancipated since I was fourteen.
I’m fifteen now.
I live alone.
I take care of myself.
I don’t have time for feelings.
My name is Jagger.
I don’t even have time for a last name.