it’s time to light the lights

Thanksgiving might have been almost a week ago, but I am still infatuated with pumpkin pie. Could I possibly eat more pumpkin pie? Actually, yeah…

In addition to pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving ruled on lots of levels. Good people were involved. So were old friends. After dinner, we went to see The Muppets!

Walter and Jason Segel in The Muppets

This toothbrushing scene was so freaking adorable I can’t even tell you. You will love this movie if you’re a Muppet fan. Or even if you’re not. Because that’s how fun it is. Snaps for my secret bf Jason Segel for having the passion and determination to bring his beloved Muppets back to the big screen. He totally preserved the integrity, spirit, and quirky details we admire in all of our Muppet friendly neighbors. Respect. A certain cameo had me squealing louder than the little kids who were watching with us. No spoilers, but if you know what my fave show is and you’ve seen my recent husband list, then you know who it was. And it was awesome.

I was stoked to be feeling better in time for the Muppet and pie festivities. After almost two years of not getting sick, I was slammed with a cold. At first I was irritated that I didn’t make it to two years of sick-free living. That was my goal. But then I remembered that my original goal was to not get sick for one year. So I did reach my goal! It’s just that I have a tendency to set even higher goals as soon as I reach my original ones and forget to appreciate that I’ve achieved much of anything. How did I avoid getting sick for almost two years? An obsessive combination of washing my hands immediately when I get home, using my own pen to sign receipts in stores, and trying not to touch too many things in general. This strategy often makes me look like a weirdo, but it works. Sort of.

Now we’re moving into the hunker down. After a few gorgeous days, I can no longer deny that the cold and increasing darkness are upon us. This is the time of year I like to stay in and work on my first draft. It seems like lots of people are working on first drafts now. Not just because of NaNoWriMo (which I hope all of you participants owned!). It seems like the majority of YA books are released between April and June, which means first drafts are usually due around February of the previous year. This first draft I’m working on will hopefully become a book published in 2013. It really helps to know that some of you are working on your own first drafts right along with me, struggling and crying and throwing things across the room. Fight on, everyone.

I had to take a week or so away from writing to look over the first pass of Keep Holding On, my new book that’s coming out in June:

First pass of Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

The first pass is a layout of the book on large paper. We check it carefully to make sure there are no typos and that the fonts and formatting look okay. By this stage, the manuscript has already been copyedited and read by several people at my publishing house. After so many sets of eyes had been on it, I couldn’t believe I found a typo right in the first chapter. It was one of those tricky though/through situations. Which makes me worry about what I still might be missing even after scrutinizing the first pass to pieces. You’d think it would be easy to catch all the errors – but it never is! The first pass is also when we look at the design elements to decide if they’re working. See that coffee mug? The designer initially decided to use cute little coffee mugs as chapter break symbols (those symbols some books include to separate chapter sections). We decided that they don’t quite reflect the tone of the book. Not sure what my amazing designer will come up with next…but I’m excited to find out when I see the second pass!

All this book talk reminds me of a super cute community initiative going on. The Corner Library project installs pop-up mini libraries that work on the honor system. How cute is that? Almost as cute as Jason Segel brushing his teeth with his Muppet brother, Walter. Have I mentioned that The Muppets rules? Plus it’s a perfect antidote to the hunker down. See it and welcome the light!

thank you

Happy Tofurky Day! Are you ready to get your sides on, fellow vegetarians? You know it’s all about the sides.

Tofurky Thanksgiving Feast

But this day doesn’t just involve a ridiculous amount of eating. This is a day to give thanks. So I want to say thank you to YOU, friendly neighbor reading this blog. Thank you for tolerating my weird, tangential ramblings. Thank you for being such an amazing support system. Thank you for giving me feedback and links to fun stuff you know I like. Thank you for sharing your experiences and dreams with me. And thank you so very much for reading my books. You make this life possible. For that, I am infinitely thankful for you.

celebration of done

Can I just say how much you girls impressed me with all the wonderful ways in which you are DONE? I am so very proud of each and every one of you. Congrats to my randomly selected winner, Bayleigh B. Thanks to Shelley for all of your positive comments. And I just wanted to let you know, Skyler, that what happened to your boyfriend was NOT your fault. You said it best: “I’m done feeling guilty for something he did to himself. Suicide is selfish. I see that now. And it was his choice.” Thanks for sharing your story with us.

In case you missed my Keep Holding On ARC giveaway last week, you can read everyone’s comments here. Being DONE means letting go of people or things that are making you miserable. I was so freaking impressed with everyone’s comments that I wanted to share some of the highlights here. It’s a celebration of DONE!

“I am DONE with trying so hard to please people that couldn’t care less about me.” – Donna

“I am DONE with feeling guilty over things that are out of my control and feeling shame over what other people think of me.” – Mika

“I am done trying to be anyone else but Me.” – Keah

“I am DONE with letting fear get in the way of accomplishing my dreams and goals…” – Nicole

“All of my life I have had people bring me down and tease me endlessly every single day at school, and I would cry myself to sleep almost every night. But as of now, I am so DONE with it. I have to start standing up for myself, and start putting myself first. I am so DONE with allowing them to hurt me and bring me down.” – Valerie

“I am DONE waiting for guys to figure out if they want to be with me. If they did, they’d know it.” – Tammy

“I am done with being so negative all the time!” – April

“I’m DONE with letting other people tell me [who] I am or who I can be. I know who I am, who I want to be & where I’m going in my life. I will not limit myself by letting others define me. I define myself! – Nikki

“I’m done with the bullying, stress, hatefulness, negativity, and ignorance that is high school.” – Anna

“I am done with letting oppurtunies pass by me.” – Sabrina

“I’m DONE with trying to control everything.” – Jennifer

“i am done letting my depresion and anxiety control me. i am a strong person and i am going to fight to live the life I want.” – Katy

“I am DONE destroying myself with what ifs.” – Natalia

“I’m DONE with being afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone.” – Melannie

“I am DONE with diving too far into the hype of what is and what isn’t the perfect body.” – Tyler

“It feels great to stand up for yourself and I’m SO done with letting myself ignore feelings that need to be shared.” – Gina

“I’m DONE with letting people walk all over me. I’m done with saying yes to everyone. I’m learning to say, ‘no’ to people who don’t deserve my ‘yes.’” – Lauren

“I’m DONE with not recognizing the face in the mirror.” – Julianna

“I’m done with being afraid to speak up.” – Paige

“I’m done with always sitting around and wishing I could change my life and make it better. Because my life won’t change until I do something about it.” – Sara

“i am DONE feeling miserable and self-conscious of being overweight. i am DONE being affected by people who still make fun of me for my weight.” – Kelly

“I am done with trying to look perfect.” – Hannah

Pure inspiration, ladies. Stay strong.

so much shiny new

Exciting news! So Much Closer is getting a shiny new paperback cover!

Word on the street is that the original cover was too…street. Yes, the book takes place in New York City. And yes, the cover photo shoot took place on the High Line. Which is why it was my dream cover. But city scapes apparently aren’t best for covers. So the uber talented paperback team did a whole new photo shoot and created this super cute cover:

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

What do you think? I think I’m in love.

You’re probably wondering where this photo shoot took place. Right here in New York City! This was at Hudson River Park (where some serious iPod dancing went down in Take Me There). Then they just blurred the background to avoid being too urban again. What’s awesome is that both the original cover photo and this shiny new one were taken right here in my neighborhood, where the book takes place. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have my story come to life this way. Showing actual locations from the book right on the cover is an author’s dream come true.

I hope you love this cover as much as I do. Not only is it gorgeous, it reminds us of something we should never forget. Follow your heart…no matter where it takes you.

another keep holding on giveaway!

Thanks to all 209 of you who entered my Keep Holding On ARC giveaway on Twitter last week! I’m aware that not everyone tweets. And I have another ARC to give away. And giving away books is super fun. So…I’m doing another giveaway here on my blog!

Susane Colasanti kissing an ARC of Keep Holding On

In Keep Holding On, Noelle reaches a point where she is DONE. It would give too much away to tell you exactly what she’s done with. Generally, being done refers to not letting people and things that have been making your life miserable have power over you anymore. The whole done thing was inspired by fork. Fork (as in “stick a fork in me, I’m done) came about years ago at a particularly aggravating time in my life. When I was writing Keep Holding On, it was clear that done is the new fork. And done is freaking awesome.

Some things I am done with include: mean people (they suck, but you knew that), feeling guilty or frustrated that I’m not doing more than I’m already doing, and certain people trying to censor me from speaking up. You guys. I am just DONE. And I feel so much better!

Now I want to know what you’re done with. Leave a comment telling me and you’ll be entered to win an ARC of Keep Holding On.

To enter:

Leave a comment here telling me one thing you are DONE with. Include your first name and email address.

Giveaway rules:

1. Entries must be received by Friday, November 18 at 11:11 pm.

2. One winner will be randomly selected.

3. The winner will be announced here on Monday, November 21. The winner will have two days to email me (susanecolasanti[at]gmail[dot]com) their full name and mailing address. If a response is not received in time, an alternate winner will be selected.

4. This giveaway is open to US residents only. However, if you live abroad and have a contact in the States who can receive the prize for you, it can be sent to their address.

Let’s get this party started. A celebration of DONE!

most epic wish ever

If you’ve read any of my books or you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’m all about dreaming big. Simply put, I would not be here today without dreaming big. And by “here” I mean here in the West Village working at home on a blog post for you. None of those things would be reality today if I had given up.

Never, ever give up.

You can create your ideal life by clarifying how you want your life to be, making plans to reach your goals, and then taking steps every day to turn your dreams into reality. Sending positive energy out into the Universe is key. When you make your dreams clear to the Universe, serendipity takes over. Wishing is a good way to do this.

Which is why I’m psyched that today is 11.11.11.

Today is the day for us to make the most epic wish ever.

At 11:11 (both a.m. and p.m. for emphasis), I’m wishing for the three things I want to see the most in 2012. Since this is the most epic wish ever, I could dream even bigger and make wishes for my whole life and world peace and that no child will ever go to bed hungry again and abuse will cease to exist and for everyone to have affordable, quality health care. With dental insurance. Because, hello, last time I checked teeth were part of your body. How stupid is it that health insurance doesn’t include dental?

But that’s way more stuff than I could wish for in two minutes.

So I’ll just be wishing for the three. Why three?  Three and eleven are auspicious numbers. They have magical powers. The combination should be mind-blowing. Sending wishes out into the Universe online is a good way to go. I hope you’ll share your wishes in the comments. And I will join you by posting mine here:

WISH 1 – For Keep Holding On to reach as many teens affected by bullying as possible. This is my story in a lot of ways. I hope it will help kids surviving hard times to feel less alone.

WISH 2 – To find my dream home in 2012. I’ve been searching for a while. Buying an apartment is not an easy thing to do in my neighborhood. But I’m not scared. I have a very good feeling that 2012 is my year.

WISH 3 – For a health issue I’ve been living with to be resolved. It’s not too serious. But it’s taken over my life and it needs to stop. I just keep repeating this like a mantra: It could be worse. Much worse. And things are getting better. I had an MRI yesterday, which was super loud and scary and I’m not even exaggerating when I tell you that right when the first scary loud noise started, “Empire State of Mind Part II” came on. That’s how I knew I would be okay. Shout-out to Alicia Keys – you saved me, girl! After everything is resolved, I might share this journey with you (still figuring out if it would be helpful or whiny). There are some funny parts, like being the youngest person in various waiting rooms of seniors, and some scary parts, like getting a biopsy. I’ll let you know what happens. The important thing is that I’m going to be okay.

This last bit of inspiration is brought to you by George Eliot:

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

Let’s make it happen.

keep holding on giveaway

TGIM! Or not. The good thing about falling back yesterday was getting that one extra hour. But the bad thing? Was going from sunset at 5:49 to 4:48 in one day. Ew. I do not enjoy sunset being at four-something. As much as I hate to admit it, the three darkest months of the year are officially upon us. Which means we need to find light in other ways. Like by doing more things that make us happy.

Something that makes me happy is giving away books. And guess what I have?

ARCs of Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

That’s right! ARCs of Keep Holding On are out! To celebrate, I’m giving one away on Twitter.

Here’s how to enter:

1. Follow me on Twitter.

2. Tweet this:

Win an ARC of KEEP HOLDING ON! Follow @susanecolasanti and RT to enter. Giveaway info here: http://tinyurl.com/khoarc

Giveaway rules:

1. All entries must be completed by Friday, November 11 at 11:11 pm. My contests always end at 11:11, but this one will end at 11:11 on 11.11.11. Epic!

2. Only one RT per entrant will be counted.

3. I will announce the winner on Twitter on Monday, November 14.

4. The winner will have two days to email me (susanecolasanti[at]gmail[dot]com) their full name and mailing address. If a response is not received in time, an alternate winner will be selected.

5. The winning mailing address must be located in the United States.

Good luck!

cute

You know how people come up with genius ideas like Post-its or magnetic poetry or Facebook and you’re like, “Dang, I wish I’d thought of that!” Well, here’s another one: Child’s Own Studio. They take children’s drawings and turn them into stuffed animals. How cute is that?

And how cute are these penguins?

Penguin sweater cuteness

These buddies were affected by the recent New Zealand oil spill. Their tiny sweaters were actually protecting them from the oil. Crude oil from a spill breaks down penguins’ natural oils that protect them from the cold and provide waterproofing. Wearing a sweater keeps a penguin warm and reduces the amount of crude oil he swallows while preening. The response to the New Zealand oil spill from knitters around the world was so overwhelming that Skeinz, the yarn store that has been collecting penguin sweaters, says they’re currently no longer in need. But if you’re a knitter and would like to contribute to future endeavors, here are the official penguin sweater instructions.

Speaking of cute, I’ve discovered a super cute book blog. Willa’s Ramblings interviewed me about the Knowing, the importance of never giving up, and why I write for teens. Thanks for the fun interview, Willa!

Something that wasn’t cute? Was when this first draft I’m working on whipped out its Freddy claws. So not cool, first draft. Little did it know I had a powerful card in my back pocket. I totally whipped out NaNoWriMo. Booyah! In your FACE first draft! I’m feeling way better about this struggle knowing that a bunch of you are struggling right along with me, all of us working toward the same goal. And hey, even if we can’t print out a complete manuscript and smack it down on the table with a resounding thud (always my favorite part) on November 30, we will have more than we have now. And that is a very good thing.

May your weekend be productive – and brimming with cute!

11.1.11

Greeting on this auspicious day of a shiny new month! 11.1.11 has magical powers. I’ll be making wishes at 11:11 am and 11:11 pm. And don’t even get me started on 11.11.11. Most epic wish ever!

This is also the first day of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it’s known in the writing community. Are you working on a novel? Then please join me! I’m working on a first draft that’s currently kicking my butt. There comes a point in every first draft when I hit a wall. That’s where I am right now. Splattered flat up against a concrete wall. But! Knowing some of you are also working on a first draft helps. We can do this, you guys. First drafts always get in my face like this. And they always get written. So if the idea of writing an entire first draft in one month scares you, know that I’m scared right along with you. Let’s just take it one day at a time.

Maybe it’s the desperate sensation that comes with being splattered flat up against a concrete wall, but I was thinking of taking an Internet break last weekend. I usually don’t go online at all when I’m away on vacay. But it’s been a while since I’ve gone away. I felt in need of a refresher. Guess what? The Universe totally read my mind! That freak snowstorm we had caused an outage. Which meant I was offline for 48 hours. A two-day break from the online Noise Bubble was just what I needed. A ton of stuff got done around here. When I was a teacher, I used to tell my kids that less TV = more time to do what they wished they had time to do. Same goes for the Internet. It’s good to take a break now and then, IMHO.

What else has been going on? I finally saw Bridesmaids. People kept telling me how good it was. People were right. So. Freaking. GOOD. I was not at all surprised to discover that Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig directed it.

Nick Andopolis Lady L single

Yet another example of the unparalleled brilliance of Paul Feig. That part where Kristen Wiig is watching Cast Away and crying when Wilson is lost at sea? Is the same part I always cry over. Which is why it was so emotional when I got to meet the real Wilson in LA!

Okay, time to peel myself off the wall, brush myself off, and finish this first draft with all of you NaNoWriMo enthusiasts. One thing I find helpful to keep the inspiration alive is surrounding myself with music and artifacts that I’m including in the book I’m writing. This new book has some heavy 80s influences. So I’ve been playing lots of classic 80s music. And I’m kicking it old-school by reconnecting with my 14-year-old self’s musical obsession, New Kids on the Block. Back when Joey Joe and me were sitting in a tree. Joey McIntyre’s voice change was a BFD in my world. I love how it produced three different versions of my all-time fave New Kids song, “Please Don’t Go Girl.” There’s the original version (recorded in 1987):

Then there’s the Voice Change version with everyone singing in a lower register. This clip is from 1988 or 89. Note the clueless audience (who apparently existed before things like waving your hands in the air or clapping were invented) and Joey and Jordan cracking up at the absence of clue around 3:20. Finally, we have the Grown and Sexy version from when NKOTB reunited. As much as I loved Joey’s high-pitched adorableness, his grown man voice is mad impressive. Bonus clip: New Kids on GMA in 1989. Did we really dress like that with the slouchy white socks and loafers and oversized Cosby sweaters? Unfortunately. But hey, it’s fun to look back on that fashionably heinous time and just laugh.

Here we go. Brush self off. Finish first draft. Who’s with me?