when it clicks

This girl in my total body conditioning class has been bothering me. Not bothering me like invading my personal sphere of space by setting up her equipment right next to mine when there’s all this other room available. That is so annoying. No, it was just that she looked so familiar and I couldn’t figure out why. We work out next to each other. This made it easy to sneak looks at her and try to figure out where I knew her from.

And then it clicked.

You know that Sex and the City ep with the face girl? Where Carrie runs into this girl in the bathroom and the girl’s like, "You’re Carrie Bradshaw," and Carrie’s like, "Do I know you?" And the girl goes, "I went out with Aidan right after you." Then she made a face like, Dude, you really messed him up good. Well, I suddenly realized that this girl in my gym class looked just like the face girl. So I went up to her after and told her that she reminded me of her and she said, "That was me."

It was her! I’d been working out right next to the face girl and I didn’t even know it!

Since I’m obsessed with details, I then proceeded to tell her that her character’s name was Nina Katz. She was impressed. I could have acted out the whole ep (Samantha: "How do you know Nina Katz?" Carrie: How do you know Nina Katz?"), but I spared her. She’s on The Big C now. From what I hear about that show, I need to add it to my queue.

Working out with the face girl hasn’t been my only gym adventure this week. I took my first step class since the 90s. Hello, wake-up call! The basic steps all came back to me. As soon as my instructor called them, they just clicked. I was doing Around the World before I could even stop to think how it goes. But my instructor is one of those guys who loves to razzle-dazzle everything up by adding flourishes and things and creating all of these new moves that could not possibly be more complex. When he got to a move called Bounce, all I could do was stare. But I refuse to be intimidated. I will return to step. I will learn Bounce. And, as with my other classes, I will gain the confidence required to get back up front. I’ve never outgrown my geektastic front-of-the-class tendency.

The point of all this working out is to be healthy. Oh, and to eat whatever I want. Like big cookies. So when my friend Joe and I were walking down West 18th Street and we passed this random subterranean shop called City Cakes, we had to go in. And there, waiting for us like treasure at the end of a lifelong hunt, were the best peanut butter cookies ever. Ever. Some of you have told me that you’re planning a New York cupcake tasting adventure. I strongly advise you to add City Cakes to your itinerary. Yes, they have other kinds of cookies. Hmm. I wonder if they have the best chocolate chip cookie?

It’s official. The search for the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie begins!

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dares & cupcakes

Yesterday was the release of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, brought to you by the spectacular team of David Levithan and Rachel Cohn!

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Can you believe this cover? It totally wins the Cutest Cover Ever award. I really need to get that cover art for my wall.

Their release day reading was at the Strand, which also plays a big role in the book. That was very meta of them. In case you’ve never been to the Strand, it’s essential that you visit next time you’re in New York. It’s the world’s largest used bookstore. They also sell new releases at a discount. When I first moved here, I’d swelter in the Strand searching for books all summer. They had no air conditioning, haphazard self arrangements, and stacks of books for days. It was like a treasure hunt! They’ve recently renovated the whole store and added air conditioning, which just makes it even more of a fun adventure.

Dash and Lily are all about adventure.

David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

One day in the Strand, Dash finds a red Moleskine notebook. It has clues. Dash decides to follow the clues, rather like the treasure hunt that is inherently the Strand! Mega meta again. It turns out that the notebook was left there by Lily…sort of. You’ll have to read the book to find out. I haven’t started it yet, but if it’s anything like their reading then watch out! We’re in for a wildly entertaining ride.

That’s the thing about hearing David and Rachel read. They are so freaking hilarious/brilliant/sparkly that all you can do is sit there and marvel at them, agog. I’m sure the Strand was beyond impressed. That was their first teen book event and it was amazing!

David Levithan and Rachel Cohn signing Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

The Strand is a big deal here in New York. So are cupcakes. And since Rachel wrote a book called Cupcake, this seems like the perfect time to address a cupcake dispute that has flared up on Sarah Dessen’s blog.

Okay, not really. It’s just that Sarah said how I love Crumbs and she tried to go while she was here but they were closed. And then some people commented and they were like (paraphrasing here), “Forget Crumbs! Magnolia rules!” Or wherever else. There are approximately one grillion cupcake places in New York – the possibilities are essentially endless. The thing is, Crumbs is so delicious that I felt the need to defend their honor and throw down a retaliation entry in which I break down the main differences among the top three cupcake contenders: Crumbs, Magnolia, and Sprinkles.

I know Sprinkles is in L.A. But they’re opening a store here in February!

That could be dangerous.

Here’s the thing. Crumbs is my fave, but Sprinkles takes the cupcake to a whole other level. Their cake is moist, dense, and delicious. Their frosting is ethereal. Their flavors and tastes are so nuanced that eating a Sprinkles cupcake is pretty much a religious experience.

Of course, we all have opinions. My friend Courtney Sheinmel does not share mine (although we do agree about Crumbs). She believes Sprinkles to be lacking. I dug deeper and found out that she only had them one time. She must have gotten a bad one. Because dude! When I was in L.A. for my book tour in May, I scored two Sprinkles cupcakes and couldn’t even eat them that day. They sat in my hotel room overnight in their box (not even wrapped in anything) and they were still unbelievably moist the next day.

And then there’s Magnolia. They were my fave when I first moved to the West Village. That was before I started watching Sex and the City, but my friend Mike said how Carrie and Miranda were sitting outside Magnolia (on a bench that isn’t really there, btw) eating vanilla cupcakes with pink icing. I love pink icing! So of course all I could think about was having a vanilla cupcake with pink icing at Magnolia. I had a Magnolia obsession there for a while. Their pastel icings. Their vintage sprinkles. I even wrote two whole scenes in Take Me There with Magnolia.

Then I discovered Crumbs. I didn’t even discover Crumbs at Crumbs. I was at this awesome dessert place called Cafe Lalo on the Upper West and they had Crumbs cupcakes. That was my first time trying one and I’ve been hooked ever since. See, Magnolia uses a confectioner’s-sugar based frosting (in two flavors). Crumbs has buttercream frostings (in many delicious flavors). Buttercream frosting is my friend. Also, Crumbs has way more cake flavors. Just look at their Halloween assortment!

Halloween cupcakes at Crumbs

Oh, and who walked by Crumbs when Courtney and I were sitting in the window after the reading? Rachel Cohn! A sweet non-coincidence indeed.

so much closer arc giveaway

The ARCs of So Much Closer are in! And they’re gorgeous!

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti ARC     So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti, back of ARC

I only have one copy and I’m giving it away. Since I feel like trying something new, I’ve made an executive decision to do this giveaway on Twitter.

Entering is simple:

1. Follow me on Twitter.

2. Then tweet the following:

Win a signed ARC of SO MUCH CLOSER!  Follow @susanecolasanti and RT to enter. Giveaway info here: http://tinyurl.com/closerarc

If you’re already following me on Twitter, then just tweet the above to enter.

Giveaway rules:

1. All entries must be completed by Saturday, October 30 at 11:11 pm.

2. I will announce the winner on Twitter on Monday, November 1.

3. The winner will have two days to email me (at 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. The winning mailing address must be located in the United States.

Let the fun begin!

my hot date with james franco

You’ve probably heard about my hot date with James Franco last night. Everyone’s talking about it.

Okay, by “date” I might mean that I went to his reading at the Tribeca B&N.

James Franco with Palo Alto

I was kind of confused about why such a big event wasn’t at the Union Square B&N. That’s where all the rock stars read. The Tribeca store doesn’t have much of an event space. So I foolishly assumed that they were expecting a smaller crowd and didn’t rush to get there crazy early.

That was a mistake.

By the time I got there a little over two hours early, the place was already packed. I have no idea what all those people were doing there. Why were they crashing our date? Did they think they were going out with him, too? Whatever. We crammed into the tightest seating arrangement I’ve ever seen. My knees were practically up to my chin the whole time. It was 6:00 and we had two hours to wait and we could not possibly have been wedged in any tighter.

But no one cared. Because we were here to see James Franco! He was going to read from Palo Alto, his collection of short stories about teens on the brink. I was about to be six rows away from Daniel Desario. Some friendly neighbors on Twitter agreed that I should shout, “Freaks and Geeks rules!” when James started reading. I didn’t end up doing that, though. But I finally thought of a good question for James. I never think of anything good to ask and then I end up babbling like an idiot. This time would be different. Here was my question: If Freaks and Geeks continued past one season, what do you envision happening to Daniel Desario? Because in the last ep he was playing D&D with the geeks, which was extremely cool of him.

By 8:00, it was so crowded that only those of us seated and the people standing around us were able to see the stage. Everyone standing in other sections had to watch James on monitors.

When James came out, he was flooded with flashes from press cameras. He put his hands up in front of his eyes after a few seconds, laughing at how bright the flashes were. He was totally smiling and loving the crowd. Then he came up on the stage and he was right there. Since I’m not leaving out any details, I should go ahead and tell you that the boy is crazysexy in person. Like, insanelycrazysexy. It didn’t even matter that he looked really tired. I read an article about him recently that said he hardly sleeps. His assistant has to make sure that he eats or else he won’t take the time to find food. Which I guess is how your life goes when you’re an actor/writer/producer/director/grad studet/author/seriouslyinsanelycrazysexy dude.

James Franco reading from Palo Alto

James read one of his stories. It was funny and had some great lines. I had read some excerpts in harsh reviews, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. But we were laughing and totally into his story.

That’s where he should have stopped. But he didn’t care about time. He only cared about us.

Before James came out, an event coordinator told us that they would only be able to guarantee that those of us seated would get our books signed. The standing people got worried. Instructions were handed out that said James would personalize books, but posed photos would not be allowed. Which is why my Facebook profile pic sadly remains the same. Anyway, after James finished reading that first story it was time for Q&A. But then James was like, “I thought I was reading two stories. What do you guys want me to do?” And some girl yelled out, “Take a picture with me!” James went, “We can do that later.” The event team was not liking that one bit (we still weren’t allowed to take pictures with him). James asked if we wanted him to read another story. People said yes. So he said that it was shorter and not to worry – he promised to sign everyone’s book. The event team panicked.

If he was anyone else but James Franco, he would have been in so much trouble for saying that.

He read the second story. About 15 minutes into it he was like, “I totally lied – this is a long one.”

James Franco read for an entire hour.

Without taking one sip of water.

First off, I’ve never been to a reading anywhere near that long. Ever. And no water? I have a hard time if I read for like 10 minutes without water. Plus, he had four layers on. Naturally, you want to know what they were. He had the Coolest Jacket Ever, a sweater vest, a button-down, and a tee. See, this is why I’m convinced that James exists in a separate sphere of excellence. Anyone else would have been sweltering in all those layers. But he looked calm, cool, and collected the whole time.

James Franco reading from Palo Alto

He was really sweet. He gave us lots of his signature crinkly-eyed smiles. He just seemed really happy to be there.

Since James read for so long, there was no time for Q&A. I was really bummed about that. Of course Q&A was taken away the one time I actually had a decent question! I was looking forward to seeing him interact with us and just speak more casually and stuff. There wasn’t time for James to personalize our books, either. It was 9:00 and the store closed at 10:00.

I went up to meet James. I was in such a nervous huffufle trying to get my book ready for him to sign and document him up close for you guys and not freak out and decide what I was going to say. Then James signed my book.

James Franco at his Palo Alto reading, Tribeca Barnes & Noble

It was my turn! So I told him he was made of all things awesome. I told him that Freaks and Geeks rules. He was very appreciative of that.

In the end, James clearly was too busy for our date. But I’m sure we’ll reschedule soon.

surprises

Since there are only like three other people in the world who still need to finish Mockingjay, it’s not really a spoiler to say…Peeta? Really? That was a surprise. I was totally expecting it to be Gale. It was always Gale. Well, I guess it was Peeta before Gale, giving Katniss the bread, saving her life. And I get the whole thing about balance. The ending just wasn’t what I was expecting. Of course I liked the book along with Catching Fire. But there was nothing like the rush of reading The Hunger Games. What an amazing ride that first book was. It’s sad to see it all end (yes, there were tears while I was reading those last few pages).

There kind of has to be a movie now, right? I can’t even imagine how stellar everything will look. Even though the story is so wild, Suzanne Collins managed to make it feel incredibly real. So I don’t think the movie will annoy us with any of those unrealistic things that bother me in other movies and shows. Like when people put their shoes up on their bed. Who puts their shoes on their pillow? Or even on their couch? Maybe it’s just me, but I always take my shoes off before I get on my bed. Or like with beverages. Characters are always pouring full glasses of juice and then taking one sip and leaving. Or they’ll go out to eat and get a soda and right away they’re drinking it through a straw with that no-more-drink-left-loud-sucking-straw sound. Dude, it’s a full cup of soda. Why the sound effect? And don’t even get me started on the scenes where kids are in class and the bell rings and the teacher is yelling the homework assignment after them. No one can even hear what the teacher is saying, much less writing it down. And then everyone hands in their homework the next day? I don’t think so.

You could argue that 24 has some unrealistic aspects to it. Like how Jack Bauer never eats or takes a bathroom break. Even though the concept is kind of out there, 24 still feels believable to me. I was addicted to that show right from the start. My friend Jim kept saying that I needed to watch it. That was back before Netflix. It was so frustrating to go into Blockbuster looking for the next disc and them being like, "Yeah…that one’s checked out?" Because, as anyone who’s into 24 knows, you HAVE to find out what happens next right away or you’ll go crazy. Jim and I used to run around pretending to be Jack and Tony. I was Jack, of course. We still talk in 24 Speak.

Like the other day. We were going for a walk along the river and Jim was whipping out his iPhone and going, "Secure the perimeter!" And I was whipping out my shiny new iPod touch all like, "Drop your weapons!" And then, I’m not even kidding you, Jim starts yelling, "Michelle from 24! Michelle from 24!" Because the actress who played Michelle Dessler was running right by us! So then we’re running after her and Jim keeps going, "Michelle from 24!" But after a few seconds, I wondered what we were doing. I mean, it totally felt like an ep of 24, but it was actually real life and she was just trying to go for a run. So we stopped and watch her go. I do think it’s interesting that Jack Bauer and Michelle Dessler live in the same neighborhood in real life. It’s my neighborhood, too, so there are always chances for fun surprises like that. Which is a big part of why I live here. You never know what’s just around the corner.

Copy that.

what’s good

James Franco is hot. More importantly, he’s a super talented actor. I love him best in Freaks and Geeks. There is seriously no limit to the amount of times I can watch that show. Best writing and acting ever. Like this one scene where Sam and Neal and Bill are in gym and Bill is rocking the whole black socks with shorts look.

Neal: You look sort of like my grandpa.

Bill: Oh what, is your grandpa super cool?

So yeah, James Franco. I want to read his new collection of short stories, Palo Alto. I know there’s all this controversy about how James’s book is getting loads of attention just because he’s famous. Does his writing warrant the attention? I’m not sure yet. But look at Steve Martin. His novellas got crazy attention, but guess what? They are outstanding. I cannot wait for Steve’s new novel to come out next month. Anyway. I just think it’s cool that James is a multi-talented dude. He’s a writer, actor, producer, director, grad student, and probably a bunch of other things. And his mom, Betsy Franco, is a fellow YA author. I think that rocks especially hard.

This week went really fast. I suspect that’s because I was feeling suffocated by my to-do list. Do you ever feel like there’s no possible way you’ll be able to do everything you want to get done? Welcome to my October! Oh, and have you ever done something you think is a sweet idea and it gets taken the entirely wrong way? Welcome to my week! It hasn’t been the best one ever around here. Which is why I was so happy that Blake Nelson called me yesterday to say that he was visiting from L.A. and could I come out to play? Hells yeah I could! You guys know how much I adore Blake and his books. He’s an idol who has become a friend, and that is a righteous thing. Blake had never been to my fave coffeehouse. Of course I needed to correct that situation immediately. So I grabbed my ARC of Recovery Road (coming out in March!) and met him there.

Blake Nelson and Susane Colasanti with Recovery Road

Now it’s back to this first draft. First drafts are always the hardest part of the writing process for me. Plus the heat in my building came on last night. I always feel agitated when I hear the first sounds of my radiator clanking up again. But I’m not feeling as bummed about the impending winter this year as I usually am. And hey, we have two more months of fall! Let’s make the most of them, you and me.