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!