Best of 2012!

Happy holidays everybody! Since "best of" lists are so popular this time of year, I've decided to do my own! So here are a few things this year that made me laugh, cry, sing....

BEST MOVIE (AND ONE YOU PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF): The Intouchables I read about this French film in Entertainment Weekly and then stumbled upon it at my local movie theater. I'm so glad I did. This is one of the most life-affirming movies I've ever seen. I can't recommend it highly enough. I thought it was going to be sad, as it's about a quadriplegic and the young man from the projects he hires to take care of him. But it wasn't. I smiled so much while watching this movie. Seriously, add it to your Netflix queue, you can thank me later. (Here's the trailer, but I'm glad I didn't see it before I watched the movie as one of the funniest bits is in it). Honorable mentions: Argo, Les Miserables, The Avengers, Pitch Perfect, Moonrise Kingdom, The Queen of Versailles

BEST NEW TV DRAMA: Homeland Yes, Homeland technically debuted last year. But I didn't see it until the first season came out on DVD. I was hooked right away (and later wasn't surprised to find out the people behind 24 are responsible for this show). I was so worried about spoilers for season 2 that I spent two days at my sister's house watching the entire season on demand. The acting is superb, the twists and turns are going to eventually give me an ulcer. But it's totally worth it. Bring on season 3! Honorable new drama mention: Nashville and fav drama series Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.

BEST NEW TV COMEDY: Happy Endings Yep, Happy Endings is in its third season, but I didn't start watching it until this year. I watched the first two seasons and caught up on the third season within three months. I love this ensemble show and adore the characters. My personal favorites are Max and Penny (they're ah-maaazing). Other favorite comedy shows: Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, New Girl, Modern Family, Cougartown (Yes, it really is a great show with a horrible name)

BEST ALBUM: Of Monsters and Men, My Head is an Animal Also one of my favorite concerts of the year. It's so hard to pick just one album, but this was the one that I listened to the most. And while I bought it because of their hit "Little Talks," I adore every song. It will be an album I'll be writing to for years to come. Other favorites: The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter; Ed Sheeran, +; fun., Some Nights; Imagine Dragons, Night Visions; The Lumineers; Mumford & Sons, Babel; The Shins, Port of Morrow; The Hunger Games soundtrack; St. Lucia EP; Taylor Swift, Red

BEST SONG: Taylor Swift, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together I love this song. When I first heard it, I bought it immediately and then a week later when I synched my iPhone it already had 75 plays. I would seriously have it on repeat as I walked to the gym. We've all been there and I always love a good break-up song. Plus, this is so much fun to do karaoke to. It seriously is the best. Like ever.

Since I went to 40(!!!) concerts this year, I've done a separate post on concerts. And I'm going to pass on naming a favorite book as I did blog about every book I read this year (Check out my 2012 Reading Challenge). Since so many books were written by friends (brag on me!), it would be really hard to pick one book. So basically, I'm being a wimp. 

So those were my favorites - what did you love in 2012?

XO, Elizabeth

A note of thanks...

Three years ago today my first book, The Lonely Hearts Club, was published. I really had no idea back then how much my life would change. My fourth book is coming out in March (click here to read an excerpt from Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality), I'm writing my fifth book, and will be celebrating my two year anniversary of being a full-time author in February. Never would I have believed any of those things would be possible. Ever.

I wake-up every morning grateful that I get to have the best job in the world. I know how fortunate I am and never take it for granted. I have no idea how long I'll be able to write full-time (it's not the most stable of jobs) so I realize what a gift every day is. None of this would be possible without you, dear reader. I'm always overwhelmed that people would not only read one of my books, but actually like it! Hearing from readers and getting to meet you is the best part of this job. I often get thanked by readers for writing a book, but I wouldn't be able to write books unless there was an audience to write for (true, I'd still write, but I'm only published because people buy my books!).

So thank you for reading, thank you for retweeting, liking, blogging, etc. Thank you for letting this girl fulfill a dream that seemed insane only a few years ago. I'm aware that the only reason I get to do this is because of you. And I'll always be grateful for that.

With much love and thanks, Elizabeth

P.S. - For those Lonely Hearts Club fans out there, I have posted outtakes from the book where you can read here and here.

My year in Concerts

Hello! If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that I go to a ton of concerts. So this year I decided to keep track of all my concerts to see just how many I actually go to. And this year it was 40!! (I should mention that I do wear earplugs!) Here they all are!

  1. The Givers
  2. Kelly Clarkson (Atlantic City)
  3. Kelly Clarkson (NYC)
  4. Nada Surf
  5. Aretha Franklin
  6. William Fitzsimmons
  7. Van Halen (with Kool & the Gang opening!)
  8. Pat Benatar
  9. Bombay Bicycle Club
  10. Gomez
  11. The Black Keys
  12. Temper Trap
  13. Boxer Rebellion
  14. The Shins
  15. Foster the People
  16. Ingrid Michaelson
  17. Blind Pilot
  18. fun.
  19. Glen Hansard
  20. Scissor Sisters
  21. Wilco
  22. Bombay Bicycle Club
  23. Mumford & Sons
  24. Miniature Tigers
  25. Bloc Party
  26. Kelly Clarkson with The Fray
  27. Madonna
  28. Ben Folds Five
  29. Austra
  30. Bon Iver
  31. Ed Sheeran
  32. M83
  33. Frightened Rabbit
  34. Temper Trap
  35. The Jezebels
  36. Alanis Morrisette
  37. Matt & Kim
  38. Of Monster and Men
  39. Ingrid Michaelson
  40. St. Lucia

BEST CONCERT: The Black Keys This was hard, but I love The Black Keys and their concert at Madison Square Garden was simply amazing from start to finish. Plus, they're super nice midwestern boys. Oh, and you know, for most of the time it was just the two of them, which is insanely impressive. VERY close runner-ups: Of Monster and Men, Mumford & Sons, fun., Bon Iver, Kelly Clarkson

FAVORITE PERFORMER: Kelly Clarkson As you may have noticed above, I saw K. Clark (my little nickname for Kelly) three times this year. She's really great live: her voice, her banter (two different friends I saw her with turned to me at one point and said, "you're practically the same person!"), her songs. I'm usually an indie rock chick, but I do love me some K. Clark. Go ahead and judge, I'll be too busy dancing around to her songs to care. And I also took one of my favorite pictures this year at my third K. Clark concert (of the year, I've seen her a total of five times), here's me with David Levithan. He seemed a little concerned about my enthusiasm....

BEST BANTER: Ingrid Michaelson One of my friends had an extra ticket to see Ingrid earlier this year at the last minute and I had one of her older albums so I went with him. Boy am I glad I did. I bought her other albums the next day. She's not only wonderful live, but she's hilarious. She cracked me up and was so witty and charming, I kinda want to be best friends with her (don't get jealous, Kelly!). I saw her again at the end of the year for her annual Holiday Hop concert. Her and her band opened the show disguised as a choir from a senior home and do hysterical takes on holiday standards (check out a sample here). If this whole music thing doesn't work out for her, she should consider stand-up.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Ed Sheeran I heard about Ed last year when I was in Ireland. I knew he was big in the UK and Ireland and loved his album, +. I listened to it a lot while writing what will be book #5, especially a chapter that takes place in Ireland. So when I went to his concert, I thought it would be a lot of British ex-pats. No, there were about 3000 screaming teenage girls. But that wasn't the big surprise (although it was to my friend Chris!). Ed came out with just his guitar and a looping station. That was it. The ninety-plus set he performed alone rivaled many of the bands I saw this year. He was charming, sincere, and insanely talented. I'm pretty sure those 3000 girls agreed!

There's so much more I could say about every concert I went to, but I'll stop here. There are some concert tickets for next year I've got to track down. And so it continues...

XO, Elizabeth

How My Holiday Card Helped Me Embrace the Awkward

Seasons greetings! Not to brag, but I send out pretty funny holiday cards every year. And it's always hard to top myself, but this year I think I did it. Take it in... 

Yep, that's really me in second grade. For years I've kept any proof that I used to look like that a secret. Even in high school, I refused to let my mom post any pictures of me from first to eighth grade on the collage she made for my high school graduation party. She's still mad at me for that. As she kept saying, "But you don't look like that now." True, I got braces, contacts, figured out how to deal with my hair, but I still felt like that awkward little girl. I used to have people call me ugly to my face, boys would bark at me and call me a dog. And when I used to look at this photo it made me sad because that little girl had it rough. People are cruel, especially grade school boys.

Then a few years ago, my siblings and I were trying to tell my brother-in-law how "ugly" I was as a kid (that was the word I used as those scars were still there). So I found this picture, one I hadn't seen in years, but I remembered it quite well. My sister Meg took a wallet sized version and kept it with her and would routinely say to people, "You know my fancy sister in New York, well this is what she used to look like!" She thought it was funny, so did everybody I showed it to. But I didn't. It upset me. I couldn't shake those demons. Despite many requests, I refused to give anybody a copy or post it online. My biggest fear would be that I would get one of those annoying e-mail forwards entitled "Ugliest Child Ever" and it would be me.

I don't exactly know what changed, but one day I looked at it and smiled. Whenever I do an event and see a girl with glasses, or someone going through an awkward stage, I go out of my way to be nice to them. It sucks to be made fun of at any age, but it's particularly harsh when you're so young. I stopped referring to young me as "ugly." I realized that this photo brings a smile to people's faces for a lot of different reason (the rainbow velour shirt, the glasses, those teeth, that hair!). As my sister always reasoned, "Look how far you've come!" I remember when I was young and people would make fun of how I looked, my mom would always say that I was going to be beautiful one day (still waiting on that, Mom!). But now I can smile at this photo and appreciate that yes, I have come a long way. Not just in terms of looks, but self-confidence. Sure, I still have issues, who doesn't? But if only I could've talked to that girl and let her know that things would get better. I obviously can't, but instead I can talk to the girl who is typing this and tell her to stop being so hard on herself about her weight or her appearance. We're often our worst critics. 

So I decided to do something I never thought I'd ever do. Send out that picture as my holiday card and post it on-line. I'm publicly embracing my flaws. Plus, I realize it is pretty hysterical. But in addition to having a classic holiday card (if I do say so myself!), I also found a way to embrace my awkward past. And that in itself, might be the best holiday gift I'll receive this year.

XOXO, Elizabeth (now and in second grade)