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!