KAL BLU: Japanese Translation in Progress

IMG_5897 IMG_5296The first draft of the KALIFORNIA BLU translation into Japanese is finished. I had the funnest meeting with the translator (who wishes to stay anonymous) on Friday. She came to the meeting with file cards noting areas of question. Mostly about how to interpret expressions like, “chill” and “slade-fit”. We went through the entire book page by page. She high-lighted all the locations in blue and all of her questions in orange. She asked how to interpret “the boys the bees and the STDs.” She knew what STDs were, but never heard the expression “birds and the bees” before, it’s not used in Japan. One of my first readers of KALBLU, a teenager, told me her favorite line was “the boys the bees and the STDs.”

I’m learning details about Japanese books, for example, the book traditionally would have no description on the back cover. And no pictures either. Amazon has recently opened up to the Japanese market and I’m looking forward to this new release!

Secretos: Stories We Shouldn’t Tell

Secretos Poster

The students in my screenwriting class at Neighborhood Youth Association have written short screenplays about their lives. And they are all stories that might never have been told otherwise. These brave teens are not only writing honestly about their experiences, but are brave enough to have them performed in front of friends and family, even the families that are depicted unfavorably in the stories. I love working with these students. We are about to cast the show in a couple of weeks so expect updates here.




WriteSpa TEEN – Amy Timberlake

ONE CAME HOME_Newbery copyLooking forward to talking to Newbery Award winner, Amy Timberlake tomorrow. Amy has published three books including her most recent YA novel, ONE CAME HOME. Please listen live at 5pm ET on BlogTalk Radio.






NON FICTION ~ Fosse Fridays

Shirley-MacLaine-and-Bob-Fosse-rehearsing-a-scene-for-Sweet-Charity.-350x447I had a vision that a man all dressed in black walked into my bedroom one night when I was living in Hancock Park, a neighborhood just south of Hollywood. He opened the bedroom door around sunrise, walked in and then closed the door. He stood at the foot of my bed and just looked at me. Then he turned to leave. I jumped out of bed and opened the door, walked down the hall looking for him. He was no where to be found. He vanished as quickly as he had arrived. He meant no harm, but what did he mean? Continue Reading

NON FICTION ~ Bebe’s Back


It was June 19, 1997 and I had just arrived in New York City from Los Angeles with one goal in mind, to see Bebe Neuwirth and Ann Reinking in the Broadway musical, Chicago. I took a cab from the airport to the Shubert theater and asked for two tickets to that night’s performance. It was Ann Reinking’s last week after a year’s run and the show had been sold out for months. The only tickets available, I was informed, were twenty “unobstructed views” sold the day of the show at 10am. The line started forming at six o’clock every morning. What? Continue Reading

NON FICTION ~ Sonny & Cher Were My Mom & Dad


On Wednesday nights I got to stay up until 9:00 to watch the The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. I was seven. I wanted to be Chastity Bono, now Chaz Bono. How could I not? Look at how long and silky Cher’s hair was and how Sonny smiled all the time. Not like my dad who was never home and never smiled. What did Chaz do backstage when his mom was under the spotlight singing Half Breed? How late did he get to stay up? Past my bedtime, I was sure of it. He was so little and his beautiful costumes matched his moms. My fantasy was that Sonny and Cher were my mom and dad.

Continue Reading

BLOG TALK RADIO ~ Kendell Shaffer


I was so lucky to be interviewed by Winslow Eliot of WriteSpa, an Oasis for Writers on BlogTalkRadio. She made me feel so at home and asked me some questions I hadn’t even considered. Her topic was How Dancing Helps your Writing. You can listen here! And below is a photo of me dancing with my mom when I was about 5. I love how she’s correcting me, when all the other kids clearly need some help!

KAL BLU ~ Now in Paperback!

IMG_3568Very excited to say that you can now order KALIFORNIA BLU on Amazon in paperback. Just in time for beach reading.





KAL BLU ~ Location: Kalifornia Blu’s Penthouse


Years ago I got to house sit in this fab apartment building overlooking Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. You park on the top of the building and take a glass elevator down to your floor. I stayed on the tenth floor and there was only one other apartment on the floor. So when the elevator door opened there were only two doors to chose from. The other door on my floor belonged to a Japanese pop star. I barely saw her, she was exhausted whenever I did. This was her LA pad and she was never there. There was mostly no one ever there. No one in the beautiful pool on the ground level that overlooked the Santa Monica mountains. No one in the big jacuzzi. No one in the parking lot. For such a big place, it was usually empty. When I was looking for a place for Kalifornia and her mom to live in, I remembered this place. Perfect for a girl who likes to live alone.


Kal Blu ~ Kalifornia Blu Sneak Peek

kalblu amazonStoked to announce that you can order Kalifornia Blu here on Amazon Kindle.

Arrested for skateboarding at three o’clock in the morning at the VeniceBeach Skate Park, Kalifornia Blu’s life takes an unexpected turn when her rock star absent mom doesn’t show up at her sentencing hearing. To avoid a trip to Juvenile Hall, she tracks down her dad–whom she hasn’t seen since she was eight. The sentencing judge thinks a bit of discipline will be good for Kalifornia and transfers her to a Police Academy Magnet High School, where the students wear LAPD uniforms, learn police drills and practice forensics. And, she’s forced to live with her ex-skateboarding, ex-guitar playing, ex-dad Zachary, in his run-down Venice loft with a 6 pm to 6 am curfew. Continue Reading

KAL BLU ~ Meet the West LA Cadets


While on a hike in Los Liones Canyon on a random Wednesday afternoon, I ran into a group of LAPD Cadets. They were all in high school and have joined an after school leadership program with the LAPD, called, LAPD Cadets. The teens were wearing blue shirts with LAPD embroidered above the pocket. I chatted with them and told them about Kalifornia Blu. Here I am outside their van. So when you see a police van full of teens, they aren’t all criminals.


IMG_3274Just loving the faces of these kids. So proud today as they heard professional actors read their scripts. Jonathan wrote a 19 page script. His teacher told me she had never received any work longer than two pages from him. Valerie wrote a horror film script, which had us all terrified. She rewrote it from scratch after her first version was blown off her computer. BACK UP YOUR WORK, PEOPLE! But she was a pro, did not complain, rewrote it and turned in a stellar script. Jose has physical and learning disabilities. He volunteered to read every time we read out loud in class even though his voice was barely audible. He has a shadow, who works with him, and he can barely walk without her although he joined us on stage without help. I have never seen him stand up so strong and proud. Mark is 14 and bright eyed. He wrote a script called SEX TRIP, which had us all laughing so hard. It was about a geek who met a girl online who said she would help him lose his virginity, although she lived in Tenesse. So he and his buddies took a road trip and along the way crashed their car and were rescued by an Amish man. His comic timing was off the charts. What a future this kid has. Alexandra wrote a touching story about a boy who was in jail for manslaughter and set out to change his life. And Alyndy wrote a strong tale about cutting. Once again, a dream day. I am so lucky that I get to work with all these talented kids.










IMG_2970 My first image of Fairfax High was from Anthony Kiedis bio, SCAR TISSUE – tales of the young Red Hot Chili Peppers mischievous antics.



















KAL BLU ~ Meet the Silly Girls

IMG_3031Hanging out with Silly Girls, Hailey Villa, Sarah, Sara Mulligan and Sarah.








A bunch of talented and fantastic kids I had the lucky chance to meet and work with at Olympic High in Santa Monica. A last chance high school. These kids have seen a lot in their young lives.




KAL BLU ~ Meet Victoria Le Claire


Regine Zylberberg , once dubbed Queen of New York by the New York Post. It’s said she ran over 50 night clubs in her lifetime.

She’s an inspiration for Victoria, a character in my novel, Kalifornia Blu. But the original inspiration comes from Audrey Herman, founder of Spotlighter’s Theater in Baltimore. I started doing theater there when I was twelve and spent the rest of my childhood in her black box theater. Audrey was old when I met her in the late 1970’s. She was small and wore high heals and tons of gold bangly bracelets. She had a real smokers voice and a high blonde wig. She owned the apartment building where the theater was housed in a basement next to a flower shop and barber. The theater is still there, but Audrey passed away several years ago. Continue Reading

NON FICTION ~ Divine Birthday

I met Divine when I was about 11 at my mom’s costumer’s studio, Bal Masque, in Downtown Baltimore. Divine was being fitted for her rainbow sequin tube top dress to be worn to the Elton John concert. She arrived for the fitting bald, wearing white pants and a white t-shirt with the word Heaven in red script, the same t-shirt she has on in this picture, only when I met her she was not in drag. I later learned Heaven was a shop in Los Angeles.

Happy Birthday, Divine!


When we were in the computer lab at Crenshaw High things really started to happen. On the last day sixteen kids were busily typing their scripts. Most often I couldn’t even get their attention when I’d check in with them. I’d usually walk away and say, “okay, keep working. I’ll leave you alone.” Clyde did call me over.

“I had a fight with my mom. How do I write that?” Clyde asked.

“What was the fight about?”

“She stole my crack,” he said with the tone of, what the hell do you think it was about? Continue Reading


“The class started in chaos, as usual, with students dull-eyed, texting or talking. Luis was sneering at me, tattoos crawling out from under his t-shirt, his penetrating eyes challenging me. I gave him the attention he craved: I asked the other students to describe him. What about his look set him aside from the others? I indicated Luis’ tattoos: Where’d he get them? Were they homemade? Prison? Silence. Continue Reading


Natasha (name changed) won the WG Foundation High School Screenwriting grand prize $1000 scholarship in 2009. Natasha wrote a 15-page screenplay called, Love Hopeful, which depicted her life as the youngest of six children living in a crack house. She shared a bed in the living room with her cousin and cousin’s boyfriend. A sheet separated the bed from the kitchen. She could barely sleep at night because her mom usually had friends over. “I’m sure they were smoking crack,” her character says in the screenplay, “because it didn’t smell like pot, what my friends smoked.” Continue Reading