three years

Here in New York, public school students just started their summer vacay on Monday. That means it’s been three years since I resigned from teaching to become a full-time author. Which is really hard to believe. It seems like my old life was much longer ago. Maybe it’s because a lot has happened in the last three years. Some things are better and some things are worse, but I am an eternal optimist. So let’s focus on the good things! On the first day of my new life…

1. I had one book published. Now I have four.

2. I was just about to start this blog. I realize that three years is on the younger side for a blog, but I wasn’t even online until five years ago. That’s how I managed to write two books while I was teaching, by the way – no Internet, TV, or DVDs.

3. Getting up at an inhumane hour was no longer necessary. Did I really used to get up at 4:45? In the morning?! That’s crazy! I get up way later now, when the sun is shining. Much better.

4. All of my work was done on an iBook. Now that I have an iMac, I could never go back to working on a laptop. I went from sitting on a bad chair at my table to my sexy iMac at a grownup desk. This is improvement.

5. This one is hard to admit, but I didn’t even know who Meg Cabot was. Well, maybe that was more like four or five years ago. But I definitely didn’t know who most of the bestselling YA authors were when I started. Which is so wild! Because now they’re so important to me. I worship their books, they are my mentors, and I am constantly learning from them. I even get to be friends with some of them, which totally blows my mind. It’s amazing how much can change in three years.

It took me a while to adjust to working at home. And by a while, I don’t mean a few days. I mean a few months. That first day was strange. I’d been used to lots of people around, always needing to take care of a hundred things before my next class, dealing with last-minute emergencies on a daily basis, and maybe getting a bathroom and/or lunch break if I was lucky. But then I was working at home and suddenly it was calm. I was just me, my iBook, and music or NPR.

The most dramatic difference was being alone. My teaching days required so much energy that I needed alone time on nights and weekends to recharge. Now I have hours of alone time every day. I’m my own boss and I set my own work schedule. This actually works well for me, since I’m an organization freak. Some authors like to write in coffeehouses. I’ve tried that a few times. While I enjoy absorbing the creative energy, I much prefer working at home. It’s more comfortable and I have everything I need here. Plus, I don’t feel so alone anymore. I have you guys to thank for that. All I have to do is check in at Facebook or Twitter or read your email to know that you are out there. So a big thank you for connecting with me! It means more than you know.

Here’s something else I want to tell you. Never give up on your dreams. No matter how many people say it’s impossible, no matter how difficult your journey is, you can create your ideal life. Your heart’s desires can become reality. Take steps every day to get closer to the life you want. And never, ever give up.

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kristen stewart

I’ve admired Kristen Stewart for a long time. She was phenomenal in Speak.  She was phenomenal in The Cake Eaters.  And she was beyond phenomenal in a movie that is so outstanding it leaves me in a state of awe every time I watch it, The Safety of Objects.  She is just so freaking talented I can’t even.  If you also love Kristen and haven’t seen these movies, you really should add them to your queue.

You can tell from watching her amazing performances that she’s a deep person.  You can also tell that she’s shy.  So when the whole Twilight thing blew up and people were saying that she seems awkward doing press, it wasn’t exactly news. It must be really hard for someone who’s shy to be in front of so many people all the time. I wonder if it’s something you can ever get used to.

This video is of Kristen arriving at The Late Show yesterday.  When I linked to it on my Twitter, it had 300-something views.  Now it’s had over 21,000.  Here’s a Coffee Talk topic for you: Would you want to be as crazy famous, doing this over and over? Discuss.

the high life

I’ve been hesitant to post the title of my fifth book. Titles can change, even at the last minute. But it looks like we’re keeping this one. I love it when titles work on several different levels, which this one does. So I’m happy to tell you that the title of my fifth book is So Much Closer. I hope you love it as much as I do. I’m aware that Goodreads has posted a pub date. However, the pub date is still being finalized. As soon as I have it, I’ll of course let you know.

This next bit of news is way more exciting for me than it is for you. But I just have to share that our laundry room was totally renovated and new machines were brought in that use smart cards instead of quarters. Those of you who live here in New York or are in college can relate to my joy. You know what this means. No more scavenging for quarters! You put money on the smart card online, then get your laundry on. The whole laundry thing has always been a mystery to me. Why does it have to be such an ordeal? All I have to do is take the elevator down to the basement to do a wash. I don’t even have to schlep over to Wash World anymore. Somehow laundry still manages to take a way bigger chunk out of the day than it rightly should. Part of my ideal New York lifestyle involves a laundry room in my place. Clearly, I have a way to go before I’m living the high life.

Like with air conditioning. My ideal lifestyle involves some serious central air. Not an air conditioner I avoid turning on as much as I can because I’d rather be hot than produce pollutants and greenhouse gases and waste energy. Yesterday was the first day I had to turn my air conditioner on. Only three days after the summer solstice! What a disgrace. But man, when it’s hot and humid in the city, breathing can be a challenge. That’s why I’m thankful for the Colasanti Tree. Fellow YA author Eric Luper planted a Japanese maple in his yard to help reverse the effects of my air conditioner. How awesome is he? Very, I know.

If you can’t be someplace refreshing when it’s gross out, the next best thing is a Pina Colada cupcake from Crumbs. Vanilla cake, pineapple filling, coconut frosting, with an umbrella and a cherry on top. It’s almost like you’re lounging on an island with one of those touristy pineapple drinks I love. Almost.

Pina Colada cupcakes at Crumbs

Stay cool!

jury duty (or not)

On Monday, I had to report for grand jury duty at the Supreme Court. The court room we reported to was huge and packed with prospective jurors. It looked just like the court rooms we’ve seen on shows, only way bigger. The first hour was all about someone telling us who is not eligible to serve and then a bunch of people going up to get excused. I would like to thank David Levithan and John Green for getting me through that waiting time with their immensely entertaining Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Have you read it yet? You haven’t? Dude, you need to read it. Brilliant, hilarious, and comes with a twist that will leave your chin on the floor.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

During the next hour, all of our names were called. When your name was called you had to either shout “will serve” if you were able to serve jury duty or “application” if you wanted to postpone your service. I almost shouted “Will Grayson” instead of “will serve.” Then I got to enjoy a funny inside joke with myself.

For the last step, we had to get up off the benches and stand against the wall. Then someone pulled our names out of this container one at a time. Whether you got picked for jury duty was a total lottery. If your name was called, you had to sit back down on the bench. This meant you had to be there every weekday for the next four weeks. It was kind of like being picked for teams in gym except this time you maybe didn’t want to be picked. Part of me wanted to be picked. I’ve never been on a jury. New experiences are cool. But the other part of me was worried about my work schedule. This is going to be a really busy summer – I’m finishing revisions of book five, then writing book six – and I didn’t want to fall behind. As it turns out, I didn’t get picked. Plus I’m still excused from jury duty for the next six years. The Universe had my back on that one. It knew I had a line edit coming my way. And sure enough, my editor sent it to me that evening.

So I’m back on deadline. I don’t really have time for fun stuff. If I did, I would be running to Governors Island to play with this:

Skee-ball mini golf

Skee-Ball mini golf! That’s two of my most fave things in the world together! This particular Skee-Ball ramp was reclaimed from Coney Island. Here’s the rest of the temporary mini golf course.

One thing I did get out for was Kate Flannery’s comedy show. She is freaking hilarious. And the girl can sing! It was so fun to see her outside of being Meredith on The Office. I met Kate after the show and documented the occasion, but unfortunately the photo of us is blurry. It’s all good. This is just one of those times where you have to document it behind your eyes and carry it in your heart, as James Taylor would say. But just in case, my scrapbook is always waiting.

keep me where the light is

Happy summer solstice! Wishing you a day filled with positive energy, from my neighborhood to yours.

Summer solstice 2010

Today will bring the longest duration of daylight. Light is a very good thing. Here in New York, we’ll have about 15 hours of daylight today. That’s a lot. We only get about 9 hours of daylight on the winter solstice. True, daylight hours will start decreasing after today. But let’s not focus on that part. Let’s focus on the part where more light means more energy, and more energy brings a renewed inspiration to create our ideal lives.

That said, life is a wild thing. It zigs just when you expect it to zag. Which is why I have Supreme Court grand jury duty today. I’ve only had jury duty one other time. I just sat on a hard bench, reading all day. They never even interviewed me (which still counts as serving jury duty, by the way). I’m not sure which way things will go this time. But whatever today brings for us, let’s remember to enjoy the light. Welcome, summertime!

are you freaking KIDDING me?!

I am outraged.

Kevin Spacey was doing research for his new movie at SP’s work yesterday and he didn’t even call me. Apparently, SP believes that if I’d known about Kevin, I would have run down there and made a fool of myself. I’m not saying he’s wrong. I’m just saying, Hello, you know I love Kevin Spacey and he’s at your work all freaking day and you don’t even let me know? That’s just cold, dude.

But the movie sounds hot. It’s about investment bankers in the 24-hour period following the Wall Street financial crisis. For some reason, movies like this fascinate me. Boiler Room was really good and I cannot wait for the Wall Street sequel to come out. There’s a part in the trailer where Michael Douglas gets out of jail and they’re giving him all his stuff back and there’s this big honking mobile phone from 1987. Love it!

Tragically, Kevin is not the only star I’ve missed this week. John Mayer did a secret show at 3:00 a.m. the other night right down the street from my place. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know how annoyed I am right now. I checked my Twitter the next morning and there was his tweet from an hour before the show and I was like, Come on! So unfair. At least I have sweet memories of my front row center seat at his Madison Square Garden concert…and the best pics ever!

Oh, I’m sorry. Did you think that was the end of the drama? Because I’m just getting started.

We all know that I look like Kiefer Sutherland’s gf (from the side), that we’ve met (he’s my neighbor), and that I’ve been to his house (while it was being renovated). So it makes sense that I’ve been hoping to see him around again. A few nights ago, I was meeting some friends for dinner in the nabe. I was the first one there and waited on the corner for 10 minutes. When one of my friends showed up, we had to go several doors down to wait inside because the bar at the restaurant was full and they had this other random bar over there. So we’re catching up and waiting for everyone else to arrive when my friend Mark comes bursting in all, “Kiefer’s here.” Of course Kiefer was there. Of course we were having dinner at the same restaurant. And of course I was standing right next to him for 10 minutes while he was eating outside and I didn’t even notice. Mark got to pet his gf’s sister’s dog and talk to Kiefer and even SP ran into Kiefer when he got out of a cab, and where was I? Exiled to this random bar halfway down the block so I couldn’t even see what was going on. When I don’t even drink.

Did I get to see Kiefer? Yes. Did I get to talk to him? No. But this is not over. I know his coordinates. I’m securing the perimeter. We’ll meet again one day. Maybe he’ll even remember that part in Take Me There where the boys are recreating a scene from 24 on the roof, just my friend Jim and I enjoy doing. Copy that.

But none of this is why I’m outraged.

Here’s why I’m outraged.

They were filming a big movie last night around the corner. My street was taken over by all of the movie trucks, like food service and actor trailers. Kate Hudson was spotted. I didn’t try to find out who else was in the movie because I’m not a fan. (Note: This post probably sounds like I’m some kind of celeb-crazed stalker, but I really only like a few of them. They’ve just all converged this week, I swear!). I didn’t even go out to watch the filming last night. But just now I was like, Let’s see who else is in the movie with Kate so I can mention it on my blog. And guess who else is in the movie?

John Krasinski.

Now, if you know me at all you know that I am a seriously huge Office fan. And that John Krasinski is my #1 husband, and has been ranked as such for years. So while I was sitting here last night like, Ho-hum, I’ll just have blueberries and watch Thirtysomething and ignore the big movie filming, JOHN KRASINSKI WAS LITERALLY OUTSIDE MY DOOR.

Are. You. Freaking. Kidding me?!

I mean, that’s the last straw. Nothing can top that one. Unless a package for David Letterman accidentally gets delivered to me and while I’m at his building trying to return it, Dave stops by because FedEx told him it was here. If anything like that happens, I’ll be sure to let you know.

For now, I have to remember how lucky I am that I even get to be close to any of this. I don’t spend an enormous chunk of my income on rent just for one closet, 400 square feet, and the opportunity to live without a freezer. The energy of my neighborhood inspires me every single day. It helps my writing. It helps me feel alive. And there’s always the chance that one day, John Krasinski will be that guy in line behind me at the coffeehouse.

author fangirl

Whenever I’m getting ready to have new author photos taken, I dread it. Because I know none of them will turn out the way I want. At the same time, I’m optimistic, like maybe this time the photos won’t totally suck. Seriously, for every 100 photos of me there might be three good ones. Good not great. But when we took new pics on the High Line last week, I actually liked some of them. It was a miracle! I’m aware that I could just have professional photos taken and call it a day. Which is what I’ll do next year when my braces come off. For now, though, I’m relieved that I have a few decent ones to choose from. Like this one:

Susane Colasanti on the High Line Photo credit:  SP
Hair by Mimi at Supercuts (hope you’re enjoying your beach bumming summer, girl!)
Orthodontia by Invisalign
Bracelets by Forever 21 (only $5.99!)

Taking photos for my fifth book has an unreal quality to it. I mean, becoming an author was a fantasy for so long, not something I was planning on as my career. The authors who first inspired me to start writing were (and still are) my rock stars. S.E. Hinton, Judy Blume, Louise Fitzhugh…their books helped me survive some very hard times. Sandra Scoppettone wrote two amazing teen novels that I could not read enough times. The Late Great Me and Trying Hard to Hear You are phenomenal. If I could have gotten in touch with Sandra to tell her how much her books meant to me back then, I would have been ecstatic. So how amazing is it that I can email her now? And acknowledge her in my latest book, and get her address and send her a copy? Talk about unreal. It’s like I exist on both sides of the dynamic, but more of me is still on the fangirl side.

Being an author has some other perks. Like getting to be friends with other authors. How cool is that? It’s always fun to read a book by a friend when their book turns out to be awesome. This was the case with Gentlemen by Michael Northrop. Every time I see Michael, I have to work the word “gentlemen” into the conversation. Or declare him to be a gentleman for some reason, which still counts. I never find this joke to be anything less than hilarious. Michael graciously puts up with me. So you can understand how thrilled I am to report that I loved Gentlemen! It’s one of those riveting books you look forward to picking up again. And any book that makes me laugh out loud at two in the morning gets a gold star. So a big, shiny gold star for you, Michael! As any true gentleman deserves.