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So if you checked in on this blog this weekend, you saw the message below saying that we're in the progress of switching it (and my entire website) over to Wordpress. What does this mean, you ask? (I did too!) Well, for now it means that I've had to turn off comments here, but in the long run it really means the blog will just be at a different URL address, which I WILL link to from here. So hopefully you won't notice too much of a difference...other than the fact that I may be more excited to blog, because I am told it will be MUCH easier. And we'll still have comments, you'll just have to leave them here instead of on LJ. Okay?


So, two things to share before I get back to...well, mostly dyeing Easter Eggs, which my kid is obsessed with. But I have to tell you about this. Now, I know just about EVERYONE is familiar with the phenomenon that is "Friday," the song by Rebecca Black that is both terrible and insanely catchy all at once. It's been in the news forever, it's basically over, but I say "just about everyone" because my husband, who I know doesn't live under a rock, had never heard of it. So in case you, too, have better things to do than keep up with annoying internet trends, you can watch the video here.

Why am I writing about this, you ask? Because this weekend, one of my babysitters shared this . Yes, that IS my daughter singing "Friday." No, I did not teach it to her. The blame apparently goes to babysitter Kelsey, although I have yet to get official confirmation about this. Now, this is a child who I have been trying to teach to say "Please," and "Thank you," for MONTHS now. I am like a broken record, and it's still totally hit or miss whether she does it. But this, she apparently picked up instantly. Sigh.

I can't really judge, though, as I AM the one who named her Barbies Snooki and JWoww, names that have, to my horror, actually stuck. Oh, I'm too embarrassed to keep writing about this at all.

Oh, oh, but here's something good, though! Remember what my goal was for this weekend?

I did it! I was terrified but I picked up that chicken. And then I picked up three more. Like it says at the beginning of Just Listen, "The best way out is always through." Now, I have to conquer everything ELSE I am afraid of. Like Wordpress.....

Have a good evening, everyone!

we're moving!!!

It's been a fun ride here at LiveJournal, but it's time to move on. For right now comments are disabled as we shift everything over to my new site. More details to come.....

The Five!

1. Whew! This has been a nutty week. I did my first school visit in AGES (to East Chapel Hill High, which was awesome), saw the paperback for ALONG FOR THE RIDE hit the NYT paperback Bestseller list at #6 (YOU guys are awesome) then participated in the Readergirlz Rock the Drop bookdrop on Thursday, which was like a crazy scavenger hunt, full of adventure. Here's the idea: it was YA Lit Day, so to celebrate, you were supposed to drop some YA books out in your community for someone else to find and read. It just so happened that I had just realized I had a bunch of books I needed to give away, so this was perfect timing. I printed out my Rock the Drop bookplates, taped them in, and set off:

I dropped the first one at Weaver Street Market in Carrboro, outside in the cafe. I got some weird looks, but there's a guy who dances on the lawn there on a regular basis, so no one was really that fazed. I shot a pic, put it up on Twitter, and headed to my NEXT drop:

For this one, I had to 1) double park at UNC, risking the most vigilant parking police known to man 2) do said double parking OUTSIDE South Building, where the chancellor was probably watching and 3)run across traffic to leave the book while people stared like I was a crazy person. But I did it, because this is the Old Well, on the UNC Campus, and is pretty much the most famous landmark there. It had to be a drop. As did in front of the Student Union, where I almost got hit by a bus dashing back to my car. Danger! Excitement! Next was:

This wall in front of the Franklin Street Post Office in Chapel Hill. I cannot TELL you how much of my teen years I spent sitting on this wall. Entirely too much. It was where we hung out when we weren't across the street at Hector's, drinking fruit punch, bothering the guys who worked the grill, and waiting for something to happen. I also got odd looks here, but I did back then too, so no biggie.
Next up, I went down MLK Blvd (formerly Airport Rd) to another serious blast from my past:

Yep, that's the Flying Burrito. Correction: it's the NEW Flying Burrito, as it's been totally redone inside. But that sign that says RESTAURANT is still the same, and those are the same doors I unlocked every day at 11:30 or 5pm when I was opening wait. It was so crazy to remember that as I put my books on that chair. Back then, if you would have told me someday I'd be getting ready to have my TENTH book out, I would have laughed in your face. Unless you were my customer, in which case I would have smiled politely and refilled your iced tea, as I was broke and needed every tip I could get. But I digress.

I was having so much fun, but it was time to pick up my kid from preschool. On the way home, though, we swung a BIT out of the way for one last drop:

This is the front porch of the Maple View Farm Ice Cream Store, which has the most gorgeous views of pasture and cows you ever saw. I was a bit worried about this one, as nobody was really there yet, but it was a nice day so I hope it got busy later and someone took this book home.

I hope, actually, that these ALL found homes, as did the few others I dropped later that day: one that I gave to a girl getting on the U Bus, asking her to leave it on a seat there; one in the Pit and two at Meadowmont, at Brixx and Cafe Carolina (Best!Cupcakes!Ever!) respectively. My husband pointed out that people might NOT take the books, as they might think they belonged to someone else. But hopefully someone was bold enough to open it up and see they could have it. Otherwise...well, I just hope it doesn't rain anytime soon.

2. Okay, so that was a LONG number one. I'm going to keep these other four short. In other news this week, we got in the NEW Dessen Racing t-shirts that you guys helped us design, and if I MAY say so myself, they rule:

We've been getting questions from readers, asking if we're selling these online or anything. We're not, they're totally for giveaways, but we have a fair amount and I'm hoping to bring some on tour with me. Also we'll keep doing giveaways on the Dessen Racing Facebook page. So stay tuned!

3. Confession: I am listening to Bethenny Frankel's A PLACE OF YES on audiobook and am now officially and totally obsessed with her. If she had a cult, I would totally already be handing out flowers at the airport for her. Not even kidding. Should I be embarrassed? Probably. Am I? No. Because I am OWNING IT, as she says to. So there!

4. My goal for this weekend is to get over my fear of picking up our chickens. I have to learn to do this for when my husband's not around and I have to get them back in the coop at night. I see him do it. My kid, who is THREE, can do it. But I just freeze up. I don't know what I'm afraid of. Death by pecking? Wish me luck....

5. Finally, just a big thank you to everyone who helped ALONG FOR THE RIDE hit the paperback bestseller list. I'm always so flattered that people go out and buy the books the first week, you guys are amazing, and I am so, so thankful. I would seriously pick up a chicken for you, that's how grateful I am. Really.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

(no subject)

Today, I'm doing an appearance at a local high school. It's the first time I've done a reading or talk since....well, I can't even really remember. Does the Read-A-Thon a few months ago count? Probably not. I have been totally Off the Circuit, but with the pub day for WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE coming up in less than a month (gulp!) I clearly need to get back on my game. And I was lucky enough to have some willing folks at the local high schools to give me the chance to do just that.

The first step to getting ready is picking what I'm going to read from the new book. This always makes the release really seem REAL, finally, but it's not the easiest process. I used to read a a long section, so people could get a good taste of the book. But then, during the Just Listen tour, I was down in Florida where I got to work with an AWESOME media escort named Joan Robbins, who told me she thought maybe I should try reading less and taking more questions. People who buy the book will read it, she pointed out, but they can only ask questions when they're at the reading and I'm there to answer them. It was good advice. So now I do a shorter reading so I can talk about the book more and then do my favorite part, which is the questions. I LOVE to hear what people want to know about the books.

So I pick a short part, but WHAT part? You don't want to read something that requires a lot of backstory/explanation, but at the same time you don't want to just read from the first chapter every time. What I've found is that what I think is often a good excerpt will sometimes fall flat when you read in front of a crowd. Also, for me, funnier parts work better than more serious ones. So it's a process. I have something picked for today, and the other early appearances I'm doing this month, but it may not be what I end up reading on the tour. It just depends.

It's been two years since Along for the Ride came out, more or less. I know for some YA writers that is a LOOOONG time between books. And there's always pressure to have something in progress, or done, or ready as a follow up. But to be honest, I'm glad I had this little break. I had a kid, then published two books in two years. It was....intense. To say the least. I was really burned out, both when it came to writing and doing publicity. Now, though, I've had this nice break. I've spent a full year just writing and hanging with my kid at the park and Whole Foods. So I'm excited to put on my book tour shoes (I've bought, um, THREE pairs this time so far, but have sworn I am sending two back...once I decide which ones are the best. It, too, is a process, people!) and get back out there. Today, my local high schools. Tomorrow---or, um, in 41 days, actually---I'll be up in front of a HUGE amount of booksellers with Brian Selznick, Kevin Henkes and Julianne Moore. Whoa. Actually, better not think about that yet.

Finally, I have to say there's been a lot of fun stuff happening over at the Dessen Racing Facebook Page. We're doing a photo contest/t-shirt giveaway, and we've also been giving some shirts away on our Twitter page. Confession: I'm so busy dealing with this blog, the family stuff and other publicity that I was VERY happy to hand over the Dessen Racing stuff to my friends Christina and Evan. Evan's the driver of the 117 car, Christina is our crew chief, and they are both flat-out awesome. Also, they are having SO MUCH FUN doing these giveaways. They are blown away by how awesome and enthusiastic my readers are (something I of course already knew) and I love how you guys are responding. We have all this fun stuff we want to do with the page, like profiles of the Dessen Racing crew so you can get to know Evan, Christina, and our other driver---who prefers to keep his identity secret, so we're coming up with a supersecret name for him right now---as well as everyone else. So stay tuned for that. As well as more t-shirt giveaways both there AND here. Because really, my garage is getting WAY too full of t-shirts. It's borderline Hoarders.

Okay, this has been the longest entry ever. Sorry! Have a good day, everyone!

(no subject)

Greetings from Sunday afternoon, where the biggest breaking news is...that I just saw a Monarch butterfly buzzing around my snapdragons. I haven't wanted to believe it, but really---REALLY---Spring IS here. Although maybe not everywhere. A friend of mine in New York called the other day, sounding wholly discouraged, asking, "Do you have ANY crocuses down there? Any sign at all of Spring?" I was, like, YES! I mean, check out what I get to drive by every day:

Interesting note: these are actually collard greens that have bolted and bloomed. This field was FULL of greens in the late fall and late winter. Whoever planted them left a big sign that said PICK FREE GREENS and every time I drove past, someone was doing just that. Out in the field, bent over with a plastic bag, picking away. This is just one thing I love about where I love. Who planted them? Why? No idea. But it's just plain awesome. As is seeing them like this, now.

Anyway. It's Sunday, I have (yet) another load of laundry drying, and my husband is loading up the fire pit for a hot dog party we're having with friends. It's a nice, calm end to what has been a busy weekend. First, on Friday, I received the Distinguished Young Alumni award from the General Alumni Association of my alma mater, UNC. There was a reception, and speeches, and I got a plaque and everything. So awesome! Even MORE awesome, however, was that I got to meet Sam Perkins, former UNC basketball player, who was like a GOD to me when I was a kid. Still kind of is, actually, which explains why, when he casually said hello to me, I almost passed out. Luckily I was able to compose myself enough later for a picture. Although I still look like a crazy person:

Now I've met Phil Ford, Dean Smith and Sam Perkins in person. Still left: well, James Worthy, Michael Jordan, and about a million others. But I'm getting there.

Then, the next day, it was off to a bridal shower for my husband's cousin and his fiance. It was at their church and featured my favorite kinds of Southern party food: pimento cheese and chicken salad sandwiches with the crusts cut off, cheese straws, and layer cake that melted in your mouth. Whoa. Oh, and also there was, you know, the whole gift thing, which I LOVE to watch, especially when it's young couples just starting out. I swear they received the entire contents of Bed, Bath and Beyond, and the organizer in me is SO jealous they will get to put everything away, brand new, in their new apartment after the wedding. New towels! Spatulas! Chip and dip sets! Fresh beginnings are almost as good as free greens.

Okay, dogs are barking, someone must be here. Have a good evening, everyone!

The Five!

1. I hate it when my husband is right. And what's worse is: he's right a lot. Does this mean I am WRONG a lot? Well, not necessarily. But I am often on the receiving end of more I Told You Sos. The latest example is the chickens. He was the driving force, I was resistant. He was full speed ahead with feed and coops, I dragged my feet. And now they are here, and....oh, man. They are just really cute and fun to watch. Like SO fun. I could sit out there all day and watch them peck around, not even kidding. I know, they are CHICKENS. Yet there is something so intriguing about them. Does this mean I will agree to a goat, which is his next goal? NO. No, no, no. At least, I hope not.

2. On the WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE front, we've added a couple more tour stops (in Asheville, NC and here in Chapel Hill, at Flyleaf Books) and confirmed that the B&N where I'll be speaking in May in NY will be on Long Island. Specific details are on my appearances page here. The event at Flyleaf, here at home, on June 20th will also feature Dessen Racing: the cars will be there! And hopefully we'll have some t-shirts to give away as well. Stay tuned.

3. More signs that spring and summer are on their way turn up here every day. This morning, I got a whiff of fertilizer as I walked out to my car, which means the farmers nearby are getting their fields ready. I bought my first bottle of fresh bubbles for my daughter (all our others were dried up, the wands busted) AND have already purchased one totally worthless toy from Rite Aid that I regret. This one was a bubble gun that promised, on the package, HOURS OF FUN! and worked NOT AT ALL. Hello, warm seasons. I missed you.

4. I'm getting my hair cut this weekend and have, as of about yesterday, officially reached that point where I can't do ANYTHING but wrench it into a sloppy ponytail and make apologies. Seriously, it's that bad. Of course, now I am also tempted to cut it super short, layer it, color it, do SOMETHING different just to shake off this winter, but I know that would be a big mistake. This is just a long way of saying if you see me in the next few days, I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do but wait for Lars to fix it, and me. And maybe I will go a LITTLE shorter? Maybe? No? Oh, okay.

5. More and more, I am reminded that I am getting older. If it's not one of my babysitters bemoaning the fact that she'll soon be turning 20 ("I'm so OLD!") it's seeing a guy bent over their car today at the mall, checking the engine, with their pants bagging WAY DOWN to reveal more than anyone wants to see and having to fight the urge to yell, "Get a belt, for God's sake!" Soon I'll be shouting at kids to get off my lawn. I want to be young and hip. I mean, don't I? Okay, maybe I don't want to be YOUNG exactly. My twenties were tough, my thirties better, and forty has actually been really good. That said, I wouldn't mind my twenty-five year old body, especially since I am looking at the cover of the new book constantly, which features a person who has most likely not had a child. Oh, well. Age is nothing but a number: attitude is everything. That said, I REALLY wish people would pull their pants up. If that makes me old, so be it. And so there.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

(no subject)

Drumroll, please....

....okay, maybe not. But it IS time to announce the winners of my ALONG FOR THE RIDE paperback and T-shirt giveaway! Here they are:

Amy H. from Wakarusa, IN
Jenny C. from Urbana, IL
Sara S. from Jackson, TN
Denise B. from Ontario, Canada
Whitney H. from Port Orchard, WA
Alyssa C. from Worcester, MA
Sarah C. from Knoxville, TN

Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter. And if you didn't win, don't worry. We will be doing another giveaway for T-shirts and books next month when WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE is released. I am a tshirt giving away MACHINE! Well, sort of. You get the idea.

In other news, our lives just aren't chaotic enough around here, so we have new additions to our household:

Yes, people. My husband has gotten chickens. I mean, WE have gotten chickens, but even he admits that he is the one driving this train. They are Buff Orpingtons and Araucanas, and as I write this they are out in their little coop, under their heat lamp, doing...whatever it is chickens do. I have to admit, they are cute, and my daughter is over the moon. But I know my husband. Now that he has chickens, he's going to want goats. And then a peacock. The next thing I know, we'll have an alpaca roaming around. I mean, I can't even deal with my dogs on a daily basis!

Okay, I might be getting ahead of myself. See, this is what I do. I take whatever is going on, times it by twenty or so, and then fully take on the stress of whatever theoretical scenarios I come up with. It's just not healthy. Everyone keeps telling me to be present, do yoga, go on top of a mountain to breathe and commune with nature. (Okay, that last one I made up. Although it doesn't sound so bad, actually.) But it's hard to do all of those things while juggling the mom thing, the writer thing, the daughter thing, etc. So I'm working on finding little pieces of peace, here and there, and taking a moment to just savor them. It's a work in progress, like everything else, but at least I'm making an effort. Maybe the chickens will help? I can only hope.

Finally, to celebrate the paperback release, we went out last night to our favorite Chapel Hill restaurant, Lantern. My friend Andrea, who is the owner and chef there, ALSO had a book out yesterday: her first cookbook, Cooking in the Moment. I got to look through a copy and it is just gorgeous, full of seasonal recipes you can use throughout the year. It made my mouth water, and I was already eating. THAT is saying something.

Also released yesterday (it was a big day!): the final season of Friday Night Lights on DVD. Now, it will be running on NBC starting pretty soon (I think?) but if you're impatient like me and can't wait, you can get your hands on it now. All I can say is, have some tissues handy. The last episode had me TOTALLY verklempt. Sniff! So, so good.

Okay, this entry turned out to be MUCH longer than I planned. Now GMA is starting, my daughter needs breakfast and the day is already going, so I better as well....

Have a good day, everyone!