The Movie: Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging

THANK YOU to GreenBeanTeenQueen for sharing this info!

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?

What NOT to do, authors!

Kate McKean from the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency just tweeted this:

"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.


One of my favorite Christmas presents:

Fabulous, right? Thanks to my super-cool brother, his beautiful wife, and my darling niece and nephew!

The shirt makes me think of that great line from The Holiday (shush to the haters): "You're supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god's sake!" Indeed.

Eat, drink, and play the lead.



I did it! I made a souffle*!!! Successfully!

If you'll remember, I tried making Ina Garten's Blue Cheese Souffle once before with failed results. I even made it one of my goals in 2009 to master the souffle. Then I promptly forgot about all of it.

But while revisiting my 2009 goals recently, I realized I hadn't tried the souffle again. So with the clock ticking toward the end of the year, I attempted the souffle again last night with delectable results:

And here is where I giggled manically and nearly danced:
Again, I used Ina Garten's Blue Cheese Souffle recipe. Luckily, I could tell what I did wrong between my first attempt and this one. Ina's instructions include a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, which I don't have (who has room for one in a NYC apartment?!). I had two options for whipping the egg whites: by hand with a whisk or with my hand mixer.

Last time I held the hand mixer rather still, slowly stirring it around the bowl. The whites never reached "firm, glossy peaks" and instead went super flat. I think I probably mixed it for about 10 minutes, which was way too long.

This time, I thought about how a stand mixer with a whisk moves. Super fast, right? So I basically whisked the whites with my handheld mixer and it worked perfectly. As Ina instructs, I whisked one minute on low speed, one minute on medium speed, and then switch to high until the peaks appear. It took an additional 2 minutes on high.

It was perfect. Light as air, super rich, and paired perfectly with port. What a way to end 2009.

Eat, drink, and if you don't succeed, try again.

* I've complained about this before, I think, but I can't seem to get the accent mark on the "e" using Blogger. Which technically means I have misspelled "souffle" throughout this entire post. Which makes me die a little inside.

Book Blogger Holiday Swap

As I told all of you earlier, I took part in the Book Blogger Holiday Swap. This post is incredibly overdue, as I received my gift over a week ago. Nevertheless, here is the package I received from my Secret Santa:

Some new books - supernatural thrillers, which is an entirely new genre for me so this will be interesting - along with some candy, a $10 Blockbuster giftcard, and vanilla-scented shower gel.

My Secret Santa has yet to reveal him- or herself, but thanks so much for the gift! And I'm waiting for the recipient of my Secret Santa gift to post it.

Eat, drink, and make new friends.


The Brits: More Fun than Us

Proof that I might be working in the wrong HarperCollins office:

And then this one:

I'm thinking of jumping the pond...

Eat, drink, and play with your books.


My Favorite French Things

I have suffered from a wicked case of Francophilia ever since I sat in my first French class at 14 years of age and had to repeat over and over again: "Je joue au tennis aujourd'hui." But my affliction has raged out of control lately and I can't quite figure out why. Here are my guesses:

  • 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.

Eat, drink, and use that damn passport.


Poetry Friday: A Special Edition

I hope you all enjoy this because I'm sacrificing my dignity for posterity.

My mom sent me a box yesterday of stuff she found in the attic. Among so many wonderful relics of my youth, was a large stack of writing I had done. It included short stories I wrote in elementary school and poems I wrote in high school. It's so god-awful and embarrassing - truly, there are no words.

So here's a little ditty I wrote. It's undated, but I signed it "Lealia Anne"...which puts it in early high school when I desperately wanted any name but Laura. I present to you a poem by yours truly:

Out of Place
by Lealia Anne

Out of place
Out of love
That is what I've always been.
Expressing my loves,
And my most heartfelt emotions
The way I want
Is a difficult obstacle.
Even my most intimate companions
Cannot apprehend
The certain things I am thinking,
When I'm thinking them,
And why.
I truly hope with all my heart
That one day I can
Tell them all that I am feeling
And have them understand.

First, I really used "apprehend". Second, you're welcome. See how much I like all of you?

Eat, drink, and thank goodness for moms who are the caretakers of your life's history!

NOTE: That was my 7th grade photo. Would you believe I actually felt awesomely rad in that outfit?



Being a food enthusiast, you'd think that Thanksgiving would be a huge holiday for me...but it's not so much. I don't like turkey...and when people suggest that I substitute duck, I don't see the point when I can eat that any day of the week. Likewise with a vegetarian Thanksgiving.

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:

This was Sundog Books, one of the best indie bookstores I've been to. The classics section seemed to be in no discernible order ...but then a saleswoman approached me and asked if I needed help. I told her I was looking for Persuasion. It took her all of a nanosecond to find a copy and hand it over to me (with a smile). Incredibly nice people and a great selection.

So this was bought as a joke. It's Francis Ford Coppola's mini Sofia line and, why yes, that's a straw you see there on the side. Like an alcoholic Capri Sun. The taste? Well, it's what you would expect. But when you're sipping while shopping through an open air market, who cares?

Okay, so maybe oysters aren't your thing...but what if they were slurped while taking in the view below...

Can you think of a better way to enjoy the fruits of the ocean?!?! An entire bottle of wine was consumed while taking in this incredible view.

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.


NCTE Highlights

So two weeks ago was the NCTE conference, followed by the ALAN workshop. As I mentioned here, it was my first conference in my new job so I was nervous and excited and nauseous building up to the big event (come to think of it, I felt that way during the event too).

I'm happy to report that the conference was a fantastic experience, and I had little reason to worry; some hiccups aside, everything went fairly smooth, I think. Here were some highlights:
  • 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!