The movie Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging* is FINALLY coming to the States! AND on the television so set your DVRs! It'll be on Nickelodeon on Jan. 1st (tomorrow) at 7 pm (Central Time).
* Allow me one more bout of pouting about the yahoos that changed the title from "full-frontal" to "perfect". The hell?
"Wow. A writer just responded to a rejection by telling me I was too stupid to understand his book b/c I'm a woman. AUTOMATIC LIFETIME BLOCK."
Unreal. I couldn't help but share with you. Remind you of Candace Sams much? And if you don't know who that is, click the link and be prepared for a big ol' mess. A delicious mess that you just can't detach yourself from...like reality shows.
Where in an author's head (or anyone's head, for that matter) does this sort of reaction make sense? Even then, Amazon is one thing. But directly to a literary agent? Wha...?
Eat, drink, and take a break before responding.
- With the new job and the winter weather, I feel an overwhelming need to be self-possessed and in control - all the things I imagine a beautiful Frenchwoman to be.
- I've whipped out all my big sweaters and boots, which make me feel all sophisticated and French-y.
- There's nothing je ne sais quoi about me...and I sort of wish there was.
- I've been stuck in a day-to-day rut and feeling the need to re-introduce beautiful things into my life.
I've also encountered lots of fabulous French-related things lately that have added fuel to the fire:
- I read this blurb in PW that brought The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein by Libby Schmais to my attention. My lovely friends at Random House sent me a copy and I can't wait to start it.
- There's this odd little French place in the building where I work: Sud de France. It's on the ground level and huge windows allow you to see everything going on. I haven't been able to discern quite what it is they do, but I know they have dinner parties, display art, and seem to have lots of wine. And naturally everyone that works there is all young and fabulous. Doesn't it seem like a great place to work? Even though it's unclear what they do...
- One of my favorite French-related books: Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas by John Baxter. Perfect reading for this time of year. (Note: I loved it before I ever started working at Harper and discovered it was a Harper book) I also found this wonderful interview with John Baxter, all about his life in Paris. Baxter, I think, gives a more accessible glimpse of the expat life than, say, Adam Gopnik (whose work I also love).
- This post at My French Kitchen is additional evidence I'm living in the wrong country. Hell, Ronell's entire blog is evidence of that.
- Bike-riding (referred to here)
- Yves-Saint Laurent's Experience Parisienne blog is blissful and inspiring. Full of beautiful, beautiful things.
- I recently re-read Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison. I forgot about all the French language bits in the book. In particular, I dog-eared page 14 in my paperback copy where Georgia and the ace gang walk around town asking people for directions in French. Hilarity ensues. Or you can just swear like Georgia: "Sacre bleu. Merde. Poo."
- For more French reading, I can't recommend Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles enough. Written by Rupert Kingfisher, it is refined, quaint, and delightful. I reviewed it here. And in the process of writing this blurb, I found out that there was a sequel, Madame Pamplemousse and the Time-Travelling Cafe! I have written to the powers-that-be, begging for a review copy (though I think it might have only released in the UK).
- French mints. Several weeks ago we had some friends over for dinner (Molly, Jen, and Heather) and Heather brought these Li-Lac Chocolate Mints with her. Not only were they beautifully packaged, but they were delectable: delicate, balanced, and decadent.
- Here are some picture book suggestions for Francophile parents and their children: The Enemy by Davide Cali and Serge Bloch (Schwartz & Wade, 2009), For Just One Day by Laura Leuck, illustrated by Marc Boutavant - any of Marc's books, really (Chronicle, 2009), Big Rabbit's Bad Mood by Ramona Badescu, illustrated by Delphine Durand (Chronicle, 2009), My Goldfish by Barroux (Eerdmans, 2009), Adele & Simon by Barbara McClintock (FSG, 2006), and of course Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (Viking, 1939). And then when you've finished your literary tour, watch Ratatouille.
So instead I saw Thanksgiving this year as an opportunity to escape to Seaside, Florida for five days with the Soul Twin. I was just coming home from NCTE and thought there probably wouldn't be a better way to relax than sitting on a beach in Florida. Observe:
A feast on our balcony. What else do you need other than bread and cheese? Oh, and wine.
Yes, this was on the balcony. Check out the pool below. Word up.
And for your viewing pleasure, one of the most un-PC things I've seen to date. Cowboys and Indians?! Really?! I didn't know anyone still encouraged this sort of play...
An unbelievable trip. In addition to the photographic joy above, we also:
- ate many many loaves of bread from Wild Olives - one of the best baguettes I have tried ever.
- rented bikes from Butterfly Bike and Kayak, and we rode more than six miles everyday (well, yeah, after all that bread, cheese, and wine!).
- drank coffee every morning at Amavida; I'm not a pastry person but Amavida had some of the best morning pastries I have ever indulged in.
It being a vacation and all, lots of books were read. Soul Twin read Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol and moved on to Anna Godbersen's Splendor (courtesy of me...I swear, I'll push that series on anyone showing even the slightest sign of weakness!). I read a galley of Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill (Salem witch trials in verse, tentatively scheduled for a June 2010 release), Educating Peter: How Anyone Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert by Lettie Teague, and Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.
Eat, drink, and celebrate at the beach!
Note: All photos taken with my cell phone camera. For that, I am deeply sorry.
- Someone stopped by our booth and mentioned that Donna Jo Napoli was signing at Penguin's booth, which I could see from our HarperCollins spot. So I was able to hop away and have her sign a copy of The Smile for me. I'm such a huge fan of hers and she graciously allowed me to slobber all over her, going on and on about how Prince of the Pond was one of the first books I read as a children's librarian...blah, blah, blah. She was just brilliant.
- Do you remember how I mentioned in my earlier post that, if you were attending NCTE, you should stop by the booth and say hi? Well, someone did! I was so flattered and so happy and so relieved (cue Sally Field's Oscar speech). However, in all the hoopla and all the following days, I have forgotten my new friend's name. Monica? I think? Reintroduce yourself to me cyberly!
- I mentioned to a publishing cohort from another house that we HC gals were going to try to get better about taking breaks from the booth. Her response? "Oh, yeah, no breaks. You also forget to eat and to go to the bathroom. It's like your body shuts down when you're in booth!" Word up. Seriously, give your friends in publishing a hug next time you see them in a booth...or better yet, bring them food or drink. Chances are they have satisfied no basic bodily functions in hours.
- Lee Bennett Hopkins accepted the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry during the conference and ended his speech by reading Langston Hughes' "Dreams." It was beautiful.
- Jarrett Krosoczka. Yes, just that name. I saw him across the aisle, signing at Random House's booth and wanted to get over there to tell him what a HUGE fan I am of Lunch Lady and Punk Farm...but it was just too crazy. I saw him no less than ten more times during the course of the conference but, for a multitude of reasons, he remained elusive to me. I never got the chance to go all fangirl on him. So, Jarrett, I am publicly declaring that I'm a fan (I can actually spell your name from memory - how many people can do that?!) and it was a thrill just to see you from afar (over and over again) at NCTE.
- Speaking of fangirldom, I also got to talk in-depth with Matt Phelan and that was a pinnacle, truly. Eileen Spinelli signed in our booth and - would you believe it? - I never even got a chance to introduce myself, much less gush about how much I adore Where I Live. So imagine my surprise when I spontaneously met Matt in the lobby of our hotel! So I was able to ramble on and on to him about that book...and to find out that Matt is particularly fond of Where I Live as well. Chatting with Matt was a highlight of the conference for me. (Fun story: Matt and I talked at length about David Small's work, and Matt said he was lucky enough to win some original art by David Small during a silent auction at BEA. Apparently Matt hovered next to the sheet, determined to outbid anyone who dared sign their name to paper. And he was rewarded for his vigilance! I thought it would be too fangirl of me to point out to Matt that plenty of people feel the same way about his artwork!)
- A simple pleasure: watching the sunrise over the river from the 28th floor of my hotel, sipping green tea. When you're on a 5-day-long adrenaline rush, it's quiet moments like this that you treasure.
- Laurie Halse Anderson's keynote speech at the ALAN breakfast was inspiring and uplifting and funny and beautiful (she blogs a bit about it here). I've never had the pleasure of hearing her speak before and she had the whole room riveted. Likewise, Naomi Shihab Nye's speech at that same breakfast made me laugh and cry at the same time. Both of them made me want to be a better person and made me believe that positive change is possible and that there is good to be found in everyone. Seriously, no irony, no snark.
Lastly, the biggest highlight of the conference for me was our HarperCollins "family dinner" at Osteria. We had it at the "chef's table"...which, seriously, is a huge square butcher block table in a private room off the kitchen. You walk through the prep station to get to it. Around the table are sorbet machines, pastry blenders...the server said the table is actually where they make their pasta every day. The staff had lit candles all around and were playing "Italian pop music." And the food? Oooooh, the food. Superb in every way. Not only was this a highlight for the conference and my job thus far...it was a culinary highlight of my life, truly. An added bonus? Morimoto (!) actually poked his head in briefly to check out the space and we later saw him eating in the main dining room! Apparently he and the owners of Osteria are friends. And here are two subpar photos I took with my phone:
And did I take a moment during the dinner to reflect, like I said I would? Yes, I did. There was a minute or two when I was out of the conversations going on around me. I looked around at the table, watching everyone engaged in conversation, eating and drinking, everything aglow in candlelight. I loved that I had a part in making it happen, and I loved that food and drink allowed us all to slow down and enjoy each other. It would not be exaggerating to say that it was one of the best moments of my adult life, as it was professionally, creatively, and emotionally satisfying.
Eat, drink, and cheers to all of you - for sitting at my table (the blog, of course), for stopping by the booth to see me, and for taking this journey with me. You are so appreciated!
One business matter to address before I go: you might notice that I have now turned on comment moderation. I hate to do it but the spammers are killing me with advertisements for penile dysfunction. And I'm guessing you guys don't want to read about it any more than I do.
And if you do want to read about it, there are sources out there more reliable than my blog.
In case I don't get a post in before I leave for Florida, happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I'm thankful for good meals, good wine, and good friends. I'm thankful for an exciting job, which makes me thankful for the authors and illustrators that inspire me daily. Thank you for sharing your work with us.
Eat, drink, and thanks to all of you.
BUT...Gilbert Blythe? Yes, pleeease. Aragorn? Anytime. Mr. Darcy? Cliched, but of course. Also LOVE the selection of Dr. Carlisle Cullen over the brooding Edward and tempermental Jacob. I'll take a real man, thank you.
* Note: I have changed this post a little since its original publication date back in 2009 - the way I had it titled was giving me nothing but p**n site hits (worried that if I use the full word, they'll keep visiting this post). FYI... 6.2.11
I first read this poem in high school and, while I loved it then, I didn't "get it". Because most of what high school students are forced to read won't connect with them until later in life.
For the past two weeks, in particular, I have encountered the term "deferred dreams" many times and this poem kept drifting through my mind. And when something is speaking to you like that, you have to share it, right?
And check out the accompanying article!
I just read about the SCBWI Winter Conference registration over at Lee Wind's blog I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?
I'm oddly obsessed with this show, as is Bug. Forget the glory days of my youth, watching "Growing Pains" and "Who's the Boss?" together as a family: these days, it's "Ace of Cakes" all the way. With Duff's chainsaw in the credits and all. I'm raising my child right.
Eat, drink, and - I'm so sorry but I have to - let them eat cake.
You learned to cook alongside your grandma, and still think her teachings are gospel. You believe the correct answer to the question of olive oil or butter is both. You're happiest around a chattering table, doling out heaping plates to crowds of friends. You just had your tattered, original copy of Joy of Cooking rebound. You're certain there's nothing that melted cheese can't make better.
- The Children's Lit Project is fantastic. I particularly liked Sarah Small's bit where she states that she doesn't necessarily write for children, which probably attributes to her books being universally enjoyed by both children and grown-ups. Thanks to Read Roger for directing me to the website.
- You all should really be checking out the blog Sweet Reads: Books and Baking for Kids. Aside from having an awesome name, Rawley blogs book reviews with matching recipes. In particular, I liked her recent review of The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, paired with "Callie's Old-Fashioned Apple Pie." Loads of fun.
- In light of the recent release of Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan (which I am LONGING to read but have yet to obtain), I give you steampunk cakes. Excellent. And here's the trailer one last time:
- In an odd twist, I discovered this week that Patrick Carman, author of The Land of Elyon series and one of The 39 Clues' authors, graduated from the same university I did. Which is a little random, seeing as not many people know Willamette University. Even crazier is that he was also a work-study student for my mother-in-law, who works in the Career Center at Willamette. Small, small world.
- I loved this recent article in The New York Times Magazine where the ubiquitous Michael Pollan posts rules for eating. My favorite? "If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you are not hungry." ~ Emma Fogt
- I adored this recent article in Saveur, "Dinner in the Piazza" by Beth Elon. The photography was stunning* and it made me so happy to have recently received my new passport in the mail. Read the article and you'll be ready to hop on a plane too.
- I'm a die-hard Georgia Nicolson fan, the star of Louise Rennison's series. The last book in the series just released last week, Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?, and it was everything I could want in a series concluder. This series soooo makes me wish I were British just so I can make phrases like "daft tart" sound really gorgey and fab. I have yet to see the movie they made of the first book - my understanding is that it never released in Hamburger-a-gogo land, n'est-ce pas? Any of you seen the movie? Well, adieu, Georgia. I have loved following your adventures with the ace gang and, Louise Rennison, I can't wait to read your upcoming new series!
- Last but not least, I'm going OT here. I want to thank Alvina at Bloomabilities for introducing me to this YouTube video. I dare you to watch it and not smile. Warning, though: prepare to have the song stuck in your head for days afterward!
Oh, hello there! It's you!
Don't mind me - I'm just writing. See, my whole life - particularly my young life - I have loved writing. I have dozens of journals, hundreds of letters, dozens of old stories...and now my blog. Whenever I wanted to argue my case to stay out past curfew as a teenager, I would write my parents a letter. Verbally, I fumble. Or I get emotional and cry. Or later I wish I had expressed myself differently and feel full of regret. But writing. Writing is my medium.
So why haven't I written a single story - nay, even started one, let alone finished one - since about 1992? I can't say. Nevertheless, here I am, working on one. I've been brainstorming and outlining and mulling for months now, and I finally starting really writing a couple days ago. Which has burned up my blogging time. Nevertheless, I'm thrilled. I was riding the subway this morning, and a conversation between two characters spontaneously popped into my head. What I would have given for a pen and paper at that moment! Dammit! Even now, I haven't had a chance to write it down. Instead, I've been holding it tight in my head, changing its tone, switching some of the words, tweaking moments. I can't wait to get it all written down!
So stay tuned. Mind you, I won't share much else here. Heaven knows that I have enough to handle between the books and the food. But I did want all of you to know that I've got a project I'm working on.
* begins typing furiously again, curls falling forward and obscuring her face *
MotherReader has posted a list of attendees, and lots of bloggers have shared their previous experiences at the conference, including Liz Burns and Lee Wind.
Lastly, I'm finalizing my hotel room, and I would LOVE to have a roommate to share costs. If you're considering attending but not quite sure if you can afford it, go in on a room with me. Let me know if you're interested...but do it soon - time's running out!
And this will give me a chance to hand out my beautiful Pinot and Prose business cards!!!!