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It's Sunday, I'm back from vacation, and now the real fun starts. And by real fun, I mean Monday. (Cue rimshot! See, when rested I am just HILARIOUS.) Really, though, it was a great to have a week off to spend with the family just sitting by the pool (wrapped in a sweater, but still nice) and doing all kinds of what my husband referred to as "Griswold-esque" vacation activities. We did mini golf. We bowled. We went to the aquarium. These are all things I would not EVER have done at the beach pre-toddler, when my activities were limited to swimming, sleeping, and reading. But life changes, and sometimes, you get to bowl! Honestly, I was thrilled that I got BOTH a hole in one and a strike during this vacation. You can't ask for more than that.

And now, it's April. APRIL! Which means that everything is starting to kick into gear as far as the books go. First up: ALONG FOR THE RIDE comes out in paperback THIS Tuesday, April 5th. I, however, have a connection, so I got my copies early:

SO exciting. (Yes, I know it's my ninth book being released in paperback, but this kind of thing still thrills me. I literally squealed when I saw the box waiting on my front porch. I am such a nerd. When the new book arrives, the whole NEIGHBORHOOD will hear me. But I think, by now, they are kind of used to it.)

I'm so excited that I have decided to do a giveaway of a few signed copies AND some of the super cool Colby Beach Bash T-shirts I had made up back in 2009 when the book was released. The front looks like this:

And this is the back:

When you wear it, you, too---like many of my friends, family, various people from Penguin and some booksellers---will look like you attended a completely fictional event in a made-up beach town. It's a virtual keepsake!

Here's how to enter: send an email to sarah@sarahdessen.com. Put ALONG FOR THE RIDE in the subject line, and your name, address and T-shirt size (S, M, L) in the body of the email. (The contest is open to US and Canadian residents only. We are slowly working towards global!) You will get an autoresponse, which will let you know your entry was received, and we'll accept entries until 9AM EST on Tuesday, April 5th. We'll pick seven random emails, declare them winners, and announce them on Wednesday. One entry per person, please. Then we'll get your books and shirts out in the mail, which will make YOU happy, and clear some room in the garage from my sagging shelves of copies of my books, which will make my husband happy. (I'm a bit of a hoarder when it comes to my book stuff. Sad, but true. I cling! Trying to change, though.)

After Tuesday, and the contest, I'll turn my attention to WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE's release and my book tour. I am thinking of taking some yoga classes to prepare, doing some deep breathing, watching a lot of Bravo. You know, all those important things. I know things MAY get nutty and I will probably feel my stress level spike more than once (a day, or hour) but if and when that DOES happen, I'll just think of that mini golf ball clunking right into the hole. Or my pink bowling ball whizzing right down the middle of the lane. Or, this, which I saw just as I was leaving this morning:

Ahhhh. That is just so nice.

Have a good evening, everyone!
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...will return. Promise!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

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I know, I know, I am BEHIND on the blog. But I have a good reason:

I'm at the beach, soaking up some family time before everything speeds up with the paperback release of Along for the Ride (a week from today!) and the pub day for What Happened to Goodbye (on May 10th, in a little over a month, oh, my goodness). It's a bit chilly (we had frost last night) but I so don't even care. I'm just happy, happy to be here. Although I think I have already eaten my weight in french fries and onion rings. But so it goes...

Of course, the news is not all good. My beloved Tarheels lost to Kentucky on Sunday afternoon, ending the basketball season for them and for me. SIGH. But what a great run! Especially considering we, um, didn't even get a bid to the tournament last year. Now, though, I am faced with the dilemma of not knowing who to pull for to go all the way. I am leaning towards VCU, because I know a lot of folks from Richmond and/or who went there, but it's so hard to pick someone once my guys are out. Personally I'm so exhausted from the stress of the season I will have to rally to watch any more games. But of course I will do it, for the team. Even if it's not MY team. SIGH.

Finally, thanks to everyone who weighed in on our T-shirt designs for Dessen Racing. it was SO HARD to pick a favorite, as each one had its fans, but in the end, after MUCH debate, we went with number #4, which incorporated all of our favorite elements:

I'm hoping to do a giveaway with these at some point, and also bring some with me on book tour (if my luggage can stand it). One thing I learned teaching undergraduates at UNC: everyone loves a free T-shirt. That, and free food. If I promised a T-shirt AND food to my students for showing up at an event on campus, they would STORM the joint. True story!

Now, I have to go, so I can look for dolphins, bundle up to go pick up shells with my daughter AND, um, watch Britney Spears perform on GMA. (She's coming up right after 8am, and I KNOW some of you out there love Brit as much I do! Don't even try to pretend otherwise.) Blogging might be sporadic this week as I may be too busy stuffing my face with shrimp burgers. You have been warned.

Have a good day, everyone!
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1. Okay, so this Five is going to be scattered, and for that I apologize. My daughter came down with some kind of crazy cold/flu bug that busted out of nowhere and hit like a tidal wave. WHOA! Runny nose, fever spiking, terrible cough, up all night. You know the drill. I am literally seeing trails off of everything I am so sleep deprived right now. But at least SHE is feeling better this morning. Me...wait, what was I saying?

2. Oh, right! The Five. In other numbers news, the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight are decided this weekend, and already my bracket is shot. First Pitt went out, which I had picked to go to the Final Four, and now Duke is out as well. Duke! You might be thinking, why would you, SUCH the UNC fan, pick Duke to go to the Final Four? Well, because we had to play them three times this year. I don't have to like them, but I do sort of have to admit they are a really, really good team. Which, apparently, lost last night while I was immersed in pairing Motrin and Tylenol and managing vaporizers. Whoa.

3. You know how your life seems to go in phases, the same things happening again and again? The last two weeks, for me, have been all about the car swap. Call it vehicle karma or whatever, but just about EVERYTHING has had to be in the shop, or loaned out, which means coordinating this intricate system of, "Okay, I'll follow you there and then give you a ride here and then, later, we'll reverse it and...." I think it's a testament to my tired brain that all of these logistics are enough to put me over the edge. I am drowning in scheduling, even WITHOUT all these new wrinkles. I've read that out in LA and other cities they have services where, if you have a drink and need a ride but don't want to leave your car, someone arrives via scooter, folds it up and puts it in your trunk, then drives you home, retrieves it, and takes off, leaving you and your car in the same place. I'm thinking I need to develop a service like this for auto repair. Although we live SO far out a scooter isn't exactly a viable transport option, unless you have a lot of time. Maybe one of those super small cars you could then tow or something? Oh, God. Why am I even thinking about this? No idea...

4. Thanks to everyone for your positive responses to the tour dates I posted. I know, I know, I'm not coming to several places I've usually hit in the past, like CA and FL, and I'm not making it to Canada, AGAIN. I wish I could go everywhere. (Actually, I don't wish that, because I'd miss my family WAY too much. But you know what I mean.) Tours are intricate things, which is why I have been lucky to have such good publicists who know what they are doing. While I will miss the places I've come to know, I've never been to Colorado, Nebraska OR Utah, so I'm kind of excited about finally seeing them. I just hope those of you who are there will come out and say hello. Even if I'm not coming to you, I promise the tour will be covered here on the blog, so it will be LIKE you were there. Virtually. You know what I mean.

5. Okay, one last thing: again, I need your help. So we're developing a new round of T-shirts for Dessen Racing, and we can't decide between three designs. (I'm also doing some shirts for What Happened to Goodbye, more on that---and some giveaways!---coming up in the next few weeks.) We narrowed it down to five, then to three of the five, but now we are stuck. So I'm going to post them here, and if you have a sec, weigh in:

Here's Design #1:

And #4:

And #5:

Thanks for your help. Oh, toddler's sneezing. Gotta go!

Have a good weekend, everyone!
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Okay, so I've gotten the go-ahead to put up the dates for my book tour. There may be a few tweaks here and there in terms of times/places but these are pretty much confirmed, and any big changes I will report here as soon as I hear of them.

I look at this and think: So exciting! Also: better rest up now so I am READY. Whew!


Durham, NC
The Regulator Bookshop – 720 Ninth St – Tuesday, May 10, 7pm (pub day!!!)

Boulder, CO
Boulder Bookstore – 1107 Pearl Street – Wednesday, May 11, 7pm

Highlands Ranch, CO
Tattered Cover– 9315 Dorchester Street – Thursday, May 12, 7pm

Salt Lake City, UT
The King’s English at 15th Street Framery, 1519 So 1500 East – Friday, May 13, 7pm
*this is a ticketed event, please check the bookseller’s website for details

Raleigh, NC
Quail Ridge Books & Music – 3522 Wade Avenue – Monday, May 16, 7pm

Naperville, IL
Anderson’s Bookshop – 123 West Jefferson – Tuesday, May 17, 7pm

Omaha, NE
The Bookworm at Millard Branch Library, 13214 Westwood Lane – Wednesday, May 18, 7pm

Dallas, TX
Dallas Museum of Art – Horchow Auditorium, 1717 N. Harwood – Sunday, May 22, 3pm

New York, NY
Barnes & Noble – TBD – Monday, May 23

Bethesda, MD
Politics & Prose at The Bethesda Library, 7400 Arlington Road – Thursday, June 16, 5pm

Houston, TX
Blue Willow Bookshop – off-site tbd – Friday, June 17, 7pm

If I'll be near you, hope you'll come out and say hello.....

Have a good day, everyone!
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I'm back from New York, it's Sunday, the trees are blooming in my yard, and there is basketball on ALL DAY LONG. What is not to like?

I had so much fun in New York, even though it was a TOTAL whirlwind from start to finish. I've said here before how I am such a small-town kind of person, so to be in a city like that is like injecting me with about a million cups of coffee and then setting me loose. WHEEEEE! I get so overstimulated I'm like my daughter after eating a cupcake, heavy on the icing. On Thursday, I got to see the huge crowds for the St. Patrick's Day parade on my way to a great lunch with my editor and publicist. It was also close to Time Warner Center, where there was an Esprit store. Esprit! Holy 1984, Batman! But I went in and the clothes were SO CUTE. Why isn't there one of these, like, anywhere near me? Then it was off to my agent's new digs at Writer's House, out to dinner, and back to the hotel to collapse.

The next morning, I wanted to sleep in, but of course my eyes shot open RIGHT at 5:55am, the exact moment I am sure my daughter began calling for me back here at home. I'd waited SIX MONTHS to have a morning all to myself to sleep as long as I wanted and....I was up. UP! Honestly. So of course I HAD to grab some coffee and walk over to the GMA Studios, where they were just about to shoot an outside cooking segment with Mario Batali. I was too short to see everything---and too Southern to elbow my way up front, as many people on my Twitter feed suggested---but I did get to see Robin, G-Step AND Sam, as well as the back of Mario Batali's head. He was wearing a purple scrunchie, which kept making me think of that Sex and The City episode where Carrie said no women in NY wear scrunchies. Which may be true. But the chefs do, apparently.

Then, it was onto the subway---where I had to transfer, and ALMOST got totally lost and had to go up on the street to panic-call Susane Colasanti before figuring out I was on the wrong platform---and to the Penguin offices. Went to a GREAT lunch (can you tell I mostly just eat when I'm in New York?) then a meeting where I got to see ALL the cool stuff that is planned for when What Happened to Goodbye is released. And there's so much of it, I can't even tell you. I mean, I literally can't, because they'd probably kill me. But hopefully soon I can fill you in AND I think I'll be able to put up my tour schedule this week. Oh, and look at the new jacket, which now features some PINK background:

Then I got to eat ANOTHER huge amazing dinner, went to watch the second half of the UNC game at a sports bar before calling it a night. (Thanks to the everyone at Penguin, by the way, but especially Lisa DeGroff, who stayed out and watched the game with me so I didn't have to cheer alone.)

The next day I was up, out, and home by noon. It's like cultural whiplash going from a huge city to pasture land in less than three hours, and I mean that in the best way. AHHHHHHH the country. New York, you are wonderful. But I need my bright stars and cows.

Now, I am home for awhile, gearing up for the paperback release of Along for the Ride in early April---with a new cover:

And, while I am doing links, here's the video I was TRYING to embed via my iPad and failing royally on Friday. I love it especially because it is like a commercial for my hometown, featuring one of my favorite restaurants AND lots of UNC basketball:

Okay, I think that's all I had to tell you. New York, Mario Batali purple scrunchie...OH! I also had TWO celebrity sightings, which I know I can share with all of you if no one else. First was Terrence Howard, who walked BEHIND me on his way to the bathroom when I was out for a sushi dinner with my agent. And second was Nick Swardson, the actor and comedian, who was at the table RIGHT next to us at lunch. I was trying very hard not to gawk. Am not sure I succeed. So, if you are keeping track---and you know I am---that is THREE famous people I have seen in one week, counting John Edwards at my local CVS here in NC. And, you know, three more than the rest of the year. Pretty much.

Sorry for the insanely long entry. Have a good night, everyone!
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...posting my new video for WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE. Featuring 411 West AND UNC basketball:

Please work this time....

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

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I need to be packing for my trip tomorrow. But....

1) I spent the morning at the Museum of Life and Science with my daughter and my mom, racing down the dinosaur trail, looking at snakes, goats and bears, and while it was fun, I am exhausted.

2) My husband keeps sending me videos from StumbleUpon that feature a dog jumping on a trampoline, or riding in a kiddie swing, and while I KNOW they are silly and time wasters, I CANNOT LOOK AWAY. So cute! The dog is bouncing!

3) I got the BEST assignment from the publicity folks at Penguin for an upcoming thing they are planning, and it basically REQUIRES me to look at shopping sites online. I mean, if it's work, I can't say NO, can I? Of course not.

4) I'm entirely distracted by the fact that even after the Bachelor finale, I can't really tell if Brad and Emily are still together, or even happy. It's my first time watching so maybe there is something I'm missing, a way to tell based on whether other pairings lasted or not? If so, clue me in, because I'm lost.

5) The world is so scary now, with all the news from Japan and elsewhere, that really all I WANT to do is watch a dog jump on a trampoline. Which makes me a totally rotten person, I know. But there it is.

6) I'm too busy checking the page for the design contest we're having for our next round of Dessen Racing Spec E30 T-shirts over on 99designs.com. Are you a designer? Feel like taking a shot? Check it out here.

7. IF I start packing, then I have to start thinking about how I am the last person in the world (or so it feels) who still checks a bag when they fly. Does everyone else really carry on? Don't you get tired of dragging your suitcase to the bathroom with you if you have to go? And what about liquids? Oh, I'm going to look at more shoes on Bluefly.

8. Packing involves somehow deciding what I am actually going to wear, and I hate everything in my closet right now. Okay, maybe not my rain boots and my Theory pants. But I think, even in New York, I need to wear more than that.

9. Ummmmmm......

Okay, I am out of excuses. Which means I guess I have to get down to it. Blogging will probably be sporadic for the rest of the week, but I'll be back when I can. In the meantime, here's that dog on the trampoline. You're welcome.

Have a good day, everyone!
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I'm writing this at the end of a perfect March weekend. It's warm and sunny and still really light outside (thank you, Daylight Savings!). I watched a lot of great basketball (even though my team lost the final game) hung with good girlfriends and got alternately suspenseful and hilarious updates from Road Atlanta, where my husband and my friend Evan were racing the Along for the Ride and Lock and Key cars, respectively. Now, my daughter is pouring water to make puddles on the deck, then jumping in them as the dogs bark at the deer passing through the back yard.

And yet, of course, across the world, terrible tragedy is unfolding, minute by minute. Ever since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I've felt this horrible sense of guilt for enjoying ANYTHING while so many are suffering. How DO you find that balance between living in the moment and being happy for all you have and yet still being aware and empathetic to those in pain or need? I know, I know, I am by FAR not the first person to ask this question, and maybe there is no good answer. I just know that writing about the Real Housewives or Charlie Sheen or The Bachelor (or even watching basketball) doesn't feel the same.

I'm not sure where I am going with this. Just saying it, I guess.

Anyway. This week, I shift BACK into professional mode, taking my first work trip since the fall. Which means I have to Up My Game and Not Dress Like I Normally Do. As in, looking a bit better than when I go to Whole Foods. I don't know about you, but whenever I'm in New York I'm blown away by how good people look. The fashion! The hair! I remember, years ago, I was walking to a dinner in New York when this couple stepped in front of me. I couldn't see their faces, only their backs, but the woman looked SO PERFECT---her hair, her little black dress, strappy heels---that I have never forgotten it. It's like this glamorous image I can't shake. Who knows what this woman was really like, her life, any of that. It's just like one of those snapshots you remember. Especially when you are surveying your own winter-damaged hair and the circles under your eyes from having a toddler who is a super early riser. Thank goodness for concealer, is all I have to say.

I mentioned earlier that my race cars were at Road Atlanta this weekend. I know some of you are like, "I don't get the race car thing," and I have to say, I hear you. I don't know NASCAR from the Indy 500 (okay, I do NOW, but before my husband got into this I was clueless) and I really just signed onto sponsor these cars because I thought it would be fun to see my covers on the hoods. But now, I feel myself getting totally sucked in. This weekend, it was a blown head gasket on the Along for the Ride car, but every time it is something crazy, and the people I've met so far from the various races and tracks have been GREAT. Who knew there could be crossover between YA and BMW racing? Not me. Anyway, if you want to know more, we've set up a Facebook Fan page for the cars
here and I'm hoping to set up a Twitter account as well. I'd also LOVE to do a local event here in Chapel Hill with the cars parked out front so we can give away T-shirts. It might be crazy, but it is just MY kind of crazy. Gotta love that.

Okay, my daughter just spilled spaghetti sauce all over herself. So much for the idyllic Sunday. Duty calls....

Have a good night, everyone!
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1. This week, I went on my first vacation in AGES---since October, actually. Me and the fam hit the road to Asheville, NC, which is one of my favorite places. First, we have friends we LOVE there. Also, there are great bookstores. And the FOOD! Oh, my goodness. I had grits at the Early Girl Eatery that were the best I have had, seriously, ever in my life. And that is saying something, as I have lived here in the South, Grits Central, since I was 3. Of course, my family never ate grits, as my parents are from New York and Baltimore, respectively. We did not do biscuits for breakfast, either. But all it took was spending the night at other people's houses a few times for this to become my breakfast of choice:

MMMMM. And now I'm hungry again. Maybe I should do Brinner tonight?

2. It used to be when we went to Asheville, we went out to late dinners, then for a drinks and maybe to see music before crashing and sleeping in. Then, breakfast and coffee and shopping and milling around, just taking in the sights and breathing in all that mountain air before doing it all again the next night. Now, though, it is a family vacation, which means: early to bed (at least for me and the toddler), early to rise (6am! just like at home!) and then breakfast, bookstore and several other outings all before lunch at 11:30. On the downside, I didn't get to buy any cute stuff at the clothing and jewelry stores I love there. On the upside, my credit card is now sufficiently cooled off for when I head to NYC next week. And anyway, before my daughter I NEVER would have been at the Nature Center when the DOORS OPENED, first there to see otters and black bears and wolves. Who needs sleep when you can experience that kind of wildlife? Not me. Apparently.

3. Yes, so, next week I am heading up to New York for a bunch of meetings about my new book. I'll get to hear tour details and marketing plans, all the fun stuff, so I'm really excited. (I'm not doing any public events, but will hopefully be back to do a reading in May sometime.) As usual, it will be a total whirlwind: I can't seem to go anywhere (especially for work) without packing in as much as possible. In fact, I think as of now I have ONE meal free for the entire trip, a random breakfast I may very likely eat standing up outside the window of Good Morning America. Although what I SHOULD do is order room service and sleep in. But can I resist GMA? It's so hard when I know they are just a few blocks instead of many states away. But sleeeeeep. Hmmm. Stay tuned....

4. I am usually late to any party, which is why I know you all probably have LONG ago discovered the ultimate timesuck that is StumbleUpon. Oh, my goodness. This is just what I DON'T need when I have a million emails to answer, newsletters to write, and errands to run. And yet, I can't look away. Where else can I take a virtual visit to the Sistine Chapel AND find a great recipe for onion rings, all from the comfort of my office? If you haven't checked it out, you should. Although I am warning you: if you're on deadline, or behind on your taxes or anything else, STAY AWAY. It will not help. Trust me.

5. Finally, an update about the blog. Can I tell you that to post that breakfast picture, I had to 1) copy it from YFrog 2) reduce the size in Preview 3) open Filezilla and upload it to my website 4) link to it? This is why blogging exhausts me sometimes, because I am using sort of antiquated ways to do it. But last week, I met with my super web design guy Mark, who showed me how it will all work if we move everything over to Wordpress. My favorite part was how quickly he could upload pictures, something he punctuated by hitting keys EXTRA hard and then loudly proclaiming, "DONE!" I think we were getting weird looks at Panera, where we met, but what can I say, we were excited. I think this cleaner, more efficient way might be just the change I need. For those of you who were worried I wouldn't still have comments, never fear: I will. And hopefully, no spam. We will take them out with a single key swipe, yelling, "DONE!" I think this will have to be my new mantra. I will practice it over breakfast.

Have a good weekend, everyone!
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