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The Moon and More Paperback!

So I’m REALLY excited to share with you all the new paperback cover for THE MOON AND MORE. I love that we stuck with the beach theme but changed it so it looks closer to SAINT ANYTHING. It will be out on the same day as the new book, May 5th!

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Isn’t it just SO PRETTY? On a related note, I now wish it was summer more than ever. This is the closest I will get for another couple of months, I fear….

 

Have a great day, everyone!

A new year.

Happy 2015!

Okay, so that exclamation point is very cheery. And it’s hard to be cheery today, on the last day of vacation, when it is January and gray outside and the bulk of winter ahead of us. But what IS making me feel good is that a year ago today, I was sitting in this same seat, looking out this same window at a gray day and wondering if I’d ever have another book to write, if an idea would EVER come to me. And eventually, one did. First it was an idea, then a process, then a project, then a draft, then a revision. And now, it’s an Advanced Reader’s Copy, an ARC. Wow.

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These came just before all the holiday chaos commenced, and I still haven’t gotten over them. It seems like something I wished rather than a real thing that exists. But I know it’s real, because my husband is reading it, and I keep seeing him doing so, and also because our new puppy Roxy had already chewed up the corner of his copy. Which I am taking as a compliment, because what else can you do with that?

(Here’s Roxy, by the way. Our sweet Boston Coco passed in October after a long battle with bladder cancer. We really miss her, but love the new addition. Ups and downs, people. Ups and downs.)

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So 2014 was full of good stuff and not-so-good, like any other year. I know people who were shouting at midnight for it not to let the door hit it on the way out, and I get that, but I’m so grateful for this book that I can’t hate on it much. 2014 was also the year I learned to meditate (and it helped, although I don’t do it as often as I should) as well as the year I got to meet Kristen Bell and go to the Veronica Mars premiere (something I still can’t believe actually happened, all these months later). And 2015? Well, I’m turning 45, so I have a possible midlife crisis to look forward to. My 15 year wedding anniversary is this summer. And I MAY get to the UK for the first time since I was 12, if things go the way I am hoping. So big stuff, good stuff. But of course, there will be be downs, because there always are, and all I can hope is that I am able to remember, in the MIDST of those downturns, that things will eventually swing upward again. That’s the hard part, right? To not be sure that what you are feeling you will feel FOREVER, and there’s nothing you can do it about it. For me, exercise helps. Eating well. Meditation and yoga, when I can do it. And just kindness, to others in their own downswings and to myself. Kindness is key, so I am learning. And you don’t even have to go to a studio or quiet your mind to do it. Bonus!

I’d also like to start another novel at some point, but if I learned ANYTHING in 2013 (speaking of yearly lessons) it’s not to push a book that doesn’t want to be written. So I will wait. Right now, the only writing I am doing is signing my name, as I am doing 16,500 thousand tip-in sheets for the first editions of SAINT ANYTHING. These will be signed copies available to booksellers all around the country. What’s a tip in, sheet? Well, they look like this:

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Basically, my office garbage can is like a Sharpie graveyard. Poor suckers can’t keep up! It’s kind of monotonous work, signing your name for hours at a time, but I AM catching up on my TV. I watched the entire second season of True Tori, which made me codependent beyond belief about Tori Spelling and her health/state of her marriage (I worry, Tori! I worry!) and then the new season of The Comeback, which was so cringeworthy and perfect that I kept rewinding the last moments of the finale to watch again and again. Wow.

Soon enough, though, I’ll be done with those and the real prep for the release of SAINT ANYTHING—which is on May 5th, 2015—begins. We’ve got a lot of fun plans we’re working on, including a tour where I’ll hopefully get to meet some of you in person. I will get to buy new book tour shoes! (Always a fun thing about a year I have a book out.) Most of all, though, I’m just excited for people to start reading this book. It’s a little different for me, a little deeper, and little darker. Lots of moving pieces, a wider canvas. The fact that these ARCs are out there, in actual people’s hands, makes me VERY nervous. But eventually, you  have to stop editing, let go, and send it out to the world. It’s kind of like my kid beginning kindergarten. What’s the book equivalent of wanting to sit in the school parking lot all day? Oh, don’t answer that.

So lots to look ahead to, which is as it should be in January. I feel hopeful and very grateful, across many levels, not just work. And in that hope, there is the one that YOU have the year you want, savoring the highs, bearing the lows, hanging in, being kind. It’s worth a shot, right? After all, you never know what can happen in 365 days. An idea. A draft. A life. Everything.

Have a good day, everyone!

 

Saint Anything, coming 5/5/2015!

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I’m SO excited to share the cover for my 12th novel, SAINT ANYTHING. Out May 5, 2015! More to come. Cannot wait to share this one with you guys….

Coming in 2015….

…my newest novel, SAINT ANYTHING! Here’s what I can share so far, from PW:

Dessen’s Latest to Viking Children’s
Bestselling YA author Sarah Dessen sold her 12th novel to Ken Wright, v-p and publisher of Viking Children’s Books. Wright took world rights to the book from Writers House agent Leigh Feldman, and Viking editor-at-large Regina Hayes will edit. Saint Anything, set for 2015, is about a girl named Sydney who finds solace in a new love interest while dealing with her older brother’s incarceration. Dessen said the novel touches on some of her favorite themes, including the “joy and complications of family, first love, and how one friend can sometimes change everything.” Dessen’s novels have been translated into more than 25 languages; her books That Summer and Someone Like You served as the basis of the film How to Deal, starring Mandy Moore; and Viking said there are currently nine million copies of Dessen’s books in print.

Stay tuned for more details. I can’t wait for you guys to read this!

Sydney.

So a week ago today, around 9:30, I was checking Twitter when I saw this:

And I thought: okay. Here we go.

As many of you remember, having read it on this very blog, back in December I set aside the novel I’d been working on since the previous winter. It was a hard decision, and terrifying, but I had to do it. That novel was just not working, and as I result I was miserable, sad, and writing so badly and desperately I didn’t even recognize myself. I was SO sure I could fix it, get back on track, with one more edit or scene or character added. Putting it away was like finally realizing a bad relationship is just Never Going To Work. It’s awful.

In the first days after I made this decision (and then made it public, yikes) I just sat in my office during my writing time, looking out the window. It had been a LOONG time since I’d totally abandoned a work in progress: usually, I start having ideas for the next book at the end of writing the previous one, and begin filing them away. This time, I had NOTHING. That’s what I said to myself in my quiet office, and to my husband, and to anyone who asked how the writing was going, even when it was CLEAR they were only doing so to be polite and did not want the details of my neurosis. “I got nothing.” Yep.

I’d been so immersed in the desperate attempt to make the other novel work. It had filled my head, my dreams, my daily life. And then, suddenly, I had nothing to think about. It was like running down a VERY narrow path, lined by thick bushes and trees, for miles. Then, suddenly, you burst out into this open, vast field, no trees, just you, wide open. And nothing.

I cried some. I convinced myself my career was over, that I’d had this great run and it had to end sometime. I ate a lot of pizza. I binged watched the entire series BROADCHURCH on my computer, giving myself a neck injury in the process (David Tennant, however, was totally worth my pain). Mostly, though, I waited, for an idea that I could only hope and pray would come.

As a writer, I’m often asked about discipline and how I make myself work. I have my standard answer: write at the same time each day, so if you are NOT working then, you’ll notice. Guilt plays a big part in my motivation. The flip side of that, however, is when you NEED to take a break from writing (because you have, well, nothing) you feel awful the ENTIRE TIME. Yes, I should have been going to movies, or reading constantly, or taking up a new skill like pickleball. (I don’t even know what pickleball is, but I hear it’s popular.) During the end days of my failed novel, I’d started to feel this sort of heavy dread in the afternoons as my work time approached, a sadness of the futility I knew was to come. I thought it would go away when the book did, but….no. It stayed. So I’d sit there, at 3pm, not writing, and just feel so, so sad. The hours that I’d always treasured as my writing time now felt like detention. I could even HEAR my office clock ticking, something I hadn’t even realized it did before all this mess started. Tick. Tock. Nothing. Tick. Tock. Nothing. And on and on, until it was finally close to five and I had to let my babysitter get home.

These were not happy days. It didn’t help that it was also January and February, my LEAST favorite months of the year. The days were short and gray and cold, but those afternoons dragged on like years in themselves. Then, one day, out of sheer desperation, I decided to move some things around in my office. I changed some pictures in frames. Cleaned out a few drawers. And then, finally, moved the one leather chair I have for when company (i.e. my husband) visits from a far corner to right by my desk.

At the time, this didn’t really resonate with me. I was just tired of having to look OVER a shelf to see someone talking if they were if they were sitting in it. But after a couple of days, I started to consider it differently. Here I’d moved the ONE other chair in my workspace so it was nearby, facing me, as if just waiting for someone to come sit down in it. That’s what a chair is for, right? To sit a spell, as we say here in the South. I looked at that empty chair, and thought of all that nothing, and then felt another stab of the afternoon sadness that I’d become so accustomed to. And THEN, I thought: what if there was a girl that felt this way, too? But for a different reason. And if she sat there right now, how would she describe it?

And that, basically, was the beginning of Saint Anything, and my narrator, Sydney. It didn’t happen quickly, and the sadness wasn’t immediately gone. But slowly, slowly, a story began to come. Finally. After all that nothing, SOMETHING.

I was so scared I’d lose it that I wrote like crazy. In the mornings AND afternoons. At coffeeshops, in my office, in the pickup line at my daughter’s school. I ate, slept and dreamt this book, but unlike the previous one, it felt GOOD, albeit shaky, like a house of cards already wavering. I felt like if I talked about it, I’d scare it away, so I told everyone I was still taking a break, doing a lot of reading, enjoying my time off. Meanwhile, I kept writing. It was only after a few months, when I began to be able to see the end coming together in the distance, that I admitted I was in the “early stages” of a draft. So, yes, I’m a big fat liar. But it served a purpose, and at that point, I was superstitious to the point of paranoid. You do what you have to do.

I finished the book, took a DEEP breath, and sent it to my agent. Then I crossed my fingers, toes, everything, and waited. THANK GOODNESS she liked it. And just like that, the entire cycle started up again. Sending it to editor. Talking to publisher. Contracts, editorial letters, discussion of titles and covers. It was like the disaster of December and my total loss of faith hadn’t happened. But it DID. And I, for one, will never forget.

This will be my 12th novel, which is just crazy to me. It just goes to show that as an author you never “figure out” writing books, or at least, I don’t. Every single one is different. Will the next one (and I hope to start it sometime!) be this hard or easy or whatever? No way to tell, until you step into that vast, open field and take a look around. We’ll see.

But for now, the book is announced in PW. It’s REAL to everyone else, after being more than that to me for, well, ages. I can’t wait to share it with you guys in 2015. Thank you SO much for your comments, your patience, your encouragement. For the quotes from my other books you posted on Twitter and Tumblr that made me think I’d somehow do it again. You believed I could, even when I wasn’t so sure. I remember one comment, during that awful time in December. The person just said, “You got this.” It felt so not true at that moment. But the faith helped.

Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be able to share more about the book with you. I cannot WAIT! But for now, I’m just grateful I don’t have to keep it a secret anymore. Stay tuned! And thanks.