texas event

The Austin Teen Book Festival is this Saturday, October 2! If you’re in the Austin area, I’d love to see you. We’ll be at Westlake High School from 10:00 to 5:00.

Everyone keeps telling me how awesome Austin is, so I’m really stoked. Hopefully, I’ll have some time to explore downtown. In addition to the cool coffeehouses and live music and indie bookshop BookPeople, Sandra Bullock owns a deli called Walton’s Fancy and Staple that I need to visit. And I heard that some scenes from Friday Night Lights were filmed at the high school where we’ll be. If I get any inside info, I will def be sharing that with you.

Austin Teen Book Festival

These authors will be in the house:

Keynote speaker: Ellen Hopkins
Boundary Breakers: Charles Benoit, Susane Colasanti, Ellen Hopkins, Kenneth Oppel, Jon Skovron
Mustache Twirlers: Pam Bachorz, S.A. Bodeen, Ally Carter, James Dashner, Catherine Jinks
Dastardly Daydreamers: Alexandra Adornetto, Melissa de la Cruz, Sophie Jordan, Nancy Werlin, Kiersten White

Bring on the festivities!

jon stewart is my bff

Last night was spectacular. Jon Stewart and every writer on The Daily Show were at the Union Square Barnes & Noble to sign their new book, Earth: A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race. Being the Daily Show nerd that I am, I arrived at 5:00 for the 8:00 event. Think that’s crazy early? Dude, I got one of the last seats left in the front section! I don’t know how I thought I could waltz in three hours early and score my usual second-row aisle seat. The place was already packed. But I did snag a very respectable fourth-row seat next to three friendly neighbors. It was easy to make friends, all crammed together and clinging to our seats while the entire fourth floor of B&N filled up. People who got there two hours early had to stand.

As always when meeting the people who’ve inspired me, I was super nervous. I was trying to think up a good question for Jon. I was trying not to geek out. But when it was my turn to meet Jon, I totally did anyway.

Jon Stewart and Susane Colasanti

Here’s Jon looking at copies of my first two books. He got shout-outs in both When It Happens and Take Me There because he is made of all things awesome. I marked the pages with his shout-outs. At least, I thought I did. Until I was walking home and realized I completely missed the two biggest shout-outs in Take Me There.

* bangs head on several hard surfaces *

Why do I always do this? I’m always too nervous to think of anything good to say until after and I end up babbling like an idiot and I couldn’t even remember that I said all this cool stuff about Jon and The Daily Show in the books that I gave him.

That I wrote.

But it’s all good. Jon thanked me for the books. He even shook my hand!

Jon Stewart and Susane Colasanti at an Earth signing

Did I have a professional photographer following me around to capture this Moment of Zen? Sort of. One of those friendly neighbors I was sitting with was Robert Denbo, who has his own multimedia company. He had a mad profesh camera with him and was totally sweet about documenting me and Jon. If I hadn’t been sitting next to him, I wouldn’t be able to share these visual aids with you.

The Universe had my back on that one. Respect.

awesome alert

Some awesome people have recently been doing some awesome things. That is why I thought you might want an awesome alert.

Let’s begin.

By now, you probably know that I worship Jon Stewart in a godlike way. How stoked am I for his Rally to Restore Sanity? At first I thought the whole thing was a joke to compliment Stephen Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive.  But then I went to their Twitter page and it says how the rally is on October 30 from 12:00-3:00 at the National Mall. Dude, isn’t that where Forrest Gump and Jenny had their epic reunion? I’m so there!

Before I see Jon at the rally, I’m going to see him at Barnes & Noble tomorrow. He’s reading from Earth, his textbook about our planet for extraterrestrials. Like America, it’s packed with highly informative, highly hilarious material. Even the “this book is the property of” stamp in the front cover is funny. I hope I can think of a good question to ask him. I never think of anything good to say when I meet the people who inspire me and I end up sounding like a babbling idiot. And then walking home I’ll be like, “Dir! That’s what I should have said!”

I think I did okay with Demetri Martin, though.

Susane Colasanti and Demetri Martin

He had a show here Saturday night which was, as always, the Best Comedy Show Ever. I’ve been a huge fan for many years and am thrilled that Demetri is starting to get the attention he deserves. If you’re unfamiliar with Demetri, I suggest you get acquainted. He does comedy for people who think. And he’s so sweet to his fans! He took the time to talk with every one of us who were waiting for him after. He took pictures with all of us and signed stuff. And he did all of this while eating an apple. Which he eventually had to put down. I felt kind of bad for him, like can’t the guy even eat his apple? He was probably really hungry. But it must have been a thrill for Demetri to see such a big crowd waiting out there for him. I told him about his upcoming shout-out in So Much Closer. He was really appreciative. John Oliver from The Daily Show stopped by to do a bit on stage. When he came out after, he was on his phone and didn’t come back to us. That’s cool, though. I’m sure we’ll catch up at the rally.

Here’s what the stage looked like from my front row seat (score!) before the show:

Demetri Martin show at Town Hall

Could I have been any closer? No. I could not have been. I couldn’t wait to find out what those weird symbols were. Especially that angry cat (which turned out to be Demetri’s idea for a bird feeder where badass birds would go in the mouth part and then it would look like the cat was spitting out birds when they flew away). Really good times.

As if things weren’t already awesome enough, Blake Nelson comes along with a new book and bam! I’m totally hooked.  It’s called Recovery Road, it comes out in March, and you want to add it to your list.  Trust me. Blake and I go way back, although he didn’t know it at the time. Girl was shelved in the adult fiction section when it first came out (along with Judy Blume’s Forever). After I read it and was completely blown away, I kept checking back for a new book by Blake. I just had to find out what happened to Andrea Marr and was hoping for a sequel. But there was nothing. Followed by more nothing. I was so disappointed. But then! I found out that Blake had all these other books out and they were all in the teen section. It was like Christmas, except without the family drama. I highly recommend everything Blake Nelson has ever written.

Well, this completes your friendly awesome alert at this time. I will keep you informed as more awesomeness develops. Oh, and if you think of a good question for Jon, please let me know!

thoughts on the autumnal equinox

Well, it’s officially fall. I wasn’t planning on blogging today. But you know when you have all these random thoughts rattling around and if you try to go to sleep you just end up with a case of noisy brain until three in the morning? In my experience, writing stuff down helps. So here I am sharing with you!

1. It didn’t feel like fall when school started. It felt like fall when I went into Whole Foods and saw that they’re transitioning from berries to pumpkins. That is a sad state of affairs. Because it means that the long wait for quality fruit to come around again has begun. I am a total fruit addict. Apples and oranges just don’t cut it when that’s all there is. Oh, plums and berries and melons, how I already crave you again. Until next time…

2. The Feast of San Gennaro is in full swing. It’s an annual street party in Little Italy where you go and eat. And appreciate Italian culture. But mostly, you just eat. My friend Jim and I are going this Sunday. We will pretty much be inhaling all of Little Italy. Seriously. It is a non-stop eating frenzy, complete with fried Oreos. It is the feast of our people and we are ready to bring it.

3. A while ago I wrote about finally getting around to reading The Hunger Games. I was absolutely blown away. Of course, all I could think about after was immediately tearing into Catching Fire. But I’ve made an executive decision to save Catching Fire to read on the plane to the Austin Teen Book Festival next weekend. Outstanding books for planes are essential. When I’m reading a good book in the airport and on the plane and waiting in all those lines, I’m in a happy place. I’m pretty sure I’m about to return to that happy place again. Cannot. Wait.

4. By now you’ve most likely heard about that wingnut who wants to ban Speak. Which is equivalent to banning literacy, compassion, and support. Oh, and a book teens actually like to read that can inspire a lifelong love of reading. Laurie Halse Anderson explained the situation on her blog. Then the #speakloudly hashtag took over Twitter to the point where it got a shout-out on NPR! What an awesome example of how passionate online discussions can influence other media. If you contributed to the discussion or are someone who speaks up for sanity in a time of much craziness, be proud.

5. Alain de Botton has a new book out. He’s my fave contemporary philosopher, so I am psyched. Get this – he was an actual writer-in-residence at Heathrow Airport. They set him up with a little desk right in a terminal. He observed airport culture. Then he wrote A Week at the Airport. I find this fascinating.

I think that’s about it for now. Let’s hope noisy brain doesn’t take over…

shiny new website

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of my shiny new website! I’ve been working on it for the past few weeks and have finally finished the redesign. I needed to make some changes to get ready for my new book, So Much Closer. And I wanted a more polished look. At first, I was going to have a professional designer do the overhaul. But then I was like, “Wait. Why did I learn HTML and CSS and Dreamweaver and Photoshop if I’m not going to redesign my own website? I can do this!” I was doubting myself. I didn’t think I could create the look I was going for.

Then I created it anyway.

When my website was built in 2005, I absolutely knew I wanted a scrapbook theme. I think the scrapbook reflects the tone of my books. So I kept that going. It’s not as glossy profesh as I’d like, but I had such a specific vision of what I wanted that it was easier to do it myself. Plus, I saved almost a month’s rent. Bonus!

The new homepage looks like this:

Susane Colasanti's shiny new website

I love the pretty watercolor stripes on my new paperback editions so much that I used them for the website. Each page contains the stripe artwork from one of my books, with colors taken from the stripes’ palette.

The website pages are:

Books – From this page, you can click on each book’s cover to go to a detailed page for that book. Each book’s page contains a playlist, reviews, excerpts, ordering info, and extras.

Q&A – Contains links to interviews, a set of frequently asked questions, and related photos.

Events – This is where you can find details about my upcoming events, including readings, signings, and book festivals.

Life – A bit about where I’m from, why high school was the worst time ever, why I love writing books for teens, and the power of creative visualization.

Connect – You can sign up for my newsletter here.  Links are included for my Facebook, fan page, Twitter, MySpace, and Goodreads.

Contact – How to reach me by email or vintage mail and contact info for my agent, publicist, and school visit coordinator.

Video – Links to my YouTube.

Blog – Links here to my WordPress.

So there you go, friendly neighbors. If you have any thoughts about my shiny new website, please share. I’d really love your feedback!

it’s an apple world

Finding your way around my neighborhood can be challenging.

West Village street signs

The Village is a super cute area. One thing that makes it so unique is the street orientation. Most of Manhattan is on a numbered grid system, which makes it easy to navigate. But once you get down here, streets zigzag and curve and lots of them are only one block long. And most of the streets have names instead of numbers, which makes them hard to find. Tourists often ask me for directions. Like the other day when some tourists asked me how to get to a certain lacking cupcake shop. Naturally, I directed them to the far superior Crumbs. Their Cupcake of the Week was the Big Apple. Which I of course needed to try.

Big Apple cupcake from Crumbs

Even better than an apple cupcake (which was actually vanilla with chocolate buttercream filling)? A visit to the Apple Store, aka Shiny Happy Apple World. I was there a few weeks ago, trying to decide between getting an iPod touch and an iPad. I was like 90% sure I’d leave with one or the other. I decided to go with the iPod touch, but something made me wait. I even asked, “Do you know when the new ones are coming out?” They never know. I know they never know but I always ask anyway. It’s funny how we’re so used to the newer and better models blowing away the old ones that we’ve become reluctant to get anything right now. But dude, I am SO happy that I waited. The new iPod touch is amazing! I returned to Shiny Happy Apple World yesterday to get mine. The cameras! FaceTime! The incredible resolution! I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be obsessing over it for a while.

Which doesn’t mean that I won’t make time for new adventures in Netflix. I’m currently into Fringe. I loved the first season. And not just because Joshua Jackson is in it and I’m still missing Pacey Witter so much that sometimes I forget he’s a fictional character and I sit around wondering how he’s doing and if he and Joey are still together. Fringe is excellent on many other levels. It appeals to my scientist side, has really good writing, and is funny when you least expect it to be. Recommended, yo.

On an entirely unrelated note, there are two reviews of Waiting for You that I keep meaning to link to. Open Mind, Insert Book’s review is touching. And Fluttering Butterflies says that the whole book made her feel relaxed and content.  Nice.

No matter what you’re obsessing over this weekend, I hope you have a good one!

whip it

Like every other person I know, I absolutely loved Ellen Page in Juno. Isn’t she the best? Naturally, she also dazzled in Whip It. It was such a good movie that I immediately went out after and got the book.

So. Freaking. Good.

Whip It by Shauna Cross

If you haven’t seen or read Whip It yet, a. you really should do both right away and b. you really should know that it’s about badass roller derby girls, which only reinforces a. What makes this story even cooler is that Shauna Cross was on an actual roller derby team called the L.A. Derby Dolls. I have a feeling that if I lived near roller derby activities, I’d definitely go and watch. But it’s all good because we have the book. And that’s the next best thing.

jam forever

Yesterday was one of those days when I needed a mood enhancer. As regular readers of this blog know, my drugs of choice are music, New York City, DVDs, and cupcakes. There’s one show that is always guaranteed to make me smile, no matter how sad I feel. That would be my favorite show, The Office. All year I wait for the latest season of The Office to come out on DVD. Well, last season just came out and yesterday was the perfect time to dig in.

So.  Exciting.

Of course, I knew about Jim and Pam’s wedding because I live in the world. But wow. I was not expecting their wedding to be anything like that. Which is why it was awesome.

Question. Their wedding sequence was based on a YouTube video. Were those people from a reality show or something? Or were they real people? The video has gotten like 55 million views. Could someone please explain?

In case you’ve forgotten…

Jam forever.

we will never forget

This hasn’t been an easy week for me. Every year around September 11, I keep thinking that I’ll be able to function normally. It’s nine years later and…well, I’m just not entirely okay. Things do get better, but I know that I’ll always feel this way. Because we will never forget.

Keeping busy helps. This month has been crazy busy for me, the kind of busy where hours zip by and you’re like, “How is it 6:00 already? Wasn’t it just 1:30?!” Getting together with friends also helps. My friend David Levithan had a picnic on his birthday. It was one of those perfect summer nights where everyone wants to be outside. We were all supposed to bring something to eat or drink. This one guy brought a pineapple. As in, a whole pineapple. The pineapple sat on the picnic blanket, looking festive but I’m sure feeling less optimistic as the night progressed. When only a few of us were left, it was clear to the pineapple that he would remain intact. I asked the guy who brought the pineapple, “What were you…envisioning?” He said, “Someone with a serrated knife?” The funniest part was that, apparently, someone had been at the party with a serrated knife. Guess they didn’t see the pineapple.

The party was in a park near Ground Zero. As it got darker, I watched the Tribute in Light reaching way up into the sky. It was powerful to be there with the author of Love Is the Higher Law, which documented September 11 so accurately I kept forgetting I was reading fiction. You know how it feels like some books are speaking directly to you? David’s book was like that. He included all of the events and emotions that had the most impact on me. Those low-flying military planes in the following months that made me think, Here we go again, every time I heard one. Groups of Missing posters everywhere. Relentlessly listening to the radio, waiting for them to tell us something new. That smell in the air I’ll never forget. And my obsession with getting as close as possible to the Tribute in Light.

My friend Stephen and I were supposed to be at the top of one Tower on the evening of September 11, 2001. Time is the only thing that saved us that day. Stephen has visited almost every year since so we can walk down to Ground Zero. We just feel this need to recreate the walk we never took. And get close to the Tribute in Light. To us, the lights symbolize hope. Getting close to them is my way of keeping hope alive.

At first, the lights were positioned near the footprints of the Towers. From a distance, the Tribute looks like two towers of blue light. But each light tower is composed of about 40 individual light streams. This is what they looked like up close in 2004:

Tribute in Light at Ground Zero, 2004

Then the lights moved to a rooftop right near Ground Zero. There was no access to that roof, so we snuck up to the next roof to get close to them. Me with the lights in 2007:

Susane Colasanti at the Tribute in Light, 2007

After that, the lights were moved to a bridge a few blocks away. We were told that there was no way to get close to them. But of course that didn’t stop us (long story involving a parking garage, an elevator, and a friendly neighbor). This time, there were other people at the top in charge of the lights. They let us get closer than we’ve ever been, but only for a few seconds. It was incredible.

Tomorrow we’ll walk down again. We’ll get close to the lights. We’ll see how the rebuilding process is coming along. And, most importantly, we’ll remember.

Susane Colasanti, Stephen Venters, and the Tribute in Light, 2008

clear eyes, full wallets

It took me forever to fall asleep last night and I had no idea why. Then I remembered that today is the first day of school. When I was a teacher, it was always impossible for me to fall asleep the night before the first day. I guess that tendency will always be with me. It feels kind of weird not to be meeting new students and reuniting with old ones. But it’s okay because there are a few other kids in my life. Although they’re fictional, they feel as real as anyone I know. And I worry about them and want the best for them just like they’re my own students.

Now, I have to give props where props are due. My friend Sarah Dessen was the one who got me into Friday Night Lights. You know how someone will be like, “Dude, you HAVE to see this show,” and you don’t doubt that it will be good but you’re just not inspired to start watching it right away? The same thing happened with The Hunger Games and I’m sure when I start watching Glee I’ll be all, “Why didn’t you guys force me to start watching this a long time ago?!” When Sarah says something is good, there’s a very good chance I’ll like it, too. We have a lot of common interests (e.g. cupcakes, Whole Foods, flip-flops, organization). Still, it took a while for me to add Friday Night Lights to my queue. But right from that first ep, I was totally hooked. Every episode puts a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Every single one.

That’s some magic right there, y’all.

There’s so much junk on TV that it’s completely refreshing to see relationships that feel so real it’s like they’re happening next door. The Taylors are the most realistic portrayal of marriage you’ll see.  Just look at the way Tami is eyeing Eric:

Tami and Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights

Matt Saracen and Tim Riggins and the other kids I loved graduated before this last season, which I was really bummed about. I was all stubborn about meeting the new characters. But the writing is so freaking good that I warmed right up to them. And Landry is still around, saying things like, “You’re signing up for the book club, which would normally be fine except this week’s book is Twilight.” It’s just so, so good. Oh, and if you heard that rumor that the show’s about football? Please. I can’t even kick a kickball. Start watching. You will quickly get attached.

In contrast, we have last season of Gossip Girl. It’s not pulling me in the way it usually does. GG had me right away with Dan Humphrey. The poor kid at the rich kid school is something I can relate to very well. But now it’s like…the drama isn’t as riveting and some of the glitz is gone and Dan seriously needs a haircut. Not that I’m over GG. That will never happen. I heard that the last ep is a major cliffhanger, so that’s something to look forward to. And those zany kids crack me up more and more, the way they’re teenagers and yet they reference places like Milk & Honey.

Let me tell you about Milk & Honey. It’s this super exclusive bar that you can only get into by referral. Once you get the secret number, you have to call to make an appointment. An appointment. To go to a bar. With a secret number. They even have house rules. Now, you know I don’t drink. But this is New York City. Which means that if I want to be social I sometimes have to go to bars and sip my Shirley Temple while yelling over music and enduring people yelling in my ear when I would much rather avoid all the yelling and sit in a coffeehouse playing board games instead. But my boyfriend at the time had been trying to get into Milk & Honey forever. So I used my girly attributes to get a bartender at an affiliated bar to give me the secret card with the secret number. We called, got an appointment, and went. Was it all that? Not even close. It’s just that I like having different experiences. And I think when a chance comes along for you to do something rare, you should take it.

Anyway. I’m sure things will pick up in Gossip Girl world. It’s hilarious that a few of the kids are at NYU now but we have yet to see anyone going to class or writing a paper. Oh, the life of privilege. Which reminds me. I’ve selected my future home. It’s such a steal at only $33 million! What do you think?