hot gossip

Greetings from Greenwich Village, NYC, home of creative types and big dreamers. Gossip Girl here with all the news you need to know.

Let’s get down to it, shall we?

Spotted: One author of teen novels (let’s call her SC) on the cover of Entertainment Weekly with none other than Jake Gyllenhaal. We hear that SC used to make Top Five Husband Lists when she was a teacher. My sources tell me that Jake steadily held that second slot for years. Clearly, Gossip Girl wasn’t the only one to get that tip.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in Entertainment Weekly

Not sure why it says “Jake and Anne” when Jake is clearly with SC. SC writes about soul mates. Looks like our boy Jake has finally found his.

Hot book tip: Steve Martin’s An Object of Beauty has hit the shelves. His reading last week was packed, but Steve still managed to focus on us the whole time. Love you right back, Steve!

Steve Martin reading from An Object of Beauty at Barnes & Noble

Steve’s writing is eloquent and evocative. Fun bonus – he included photos of artwork mentioned in the story. Even the book itself is an object of beauty: textured cover, hand lettering, and a pic of Steve that looks almost sparkly. Sorry fang fans, he’s no vampire. Steve is very real, as seen here with a mystery girl.

Steve Martin at Barnes & Noble

Wondering why the paparazzi were all over that? Let’s zoom in on the action.

Steve Martin and Susane Colasanti

You guessed it – that’s our very own SC with Steve Martin! Dig their matching glasses. We hear she’s been a major fan since she was a teenage Jersey girl, dreaming of a better life across the water in New York City. Good to know that some dreams really do come true.

Catch you later.

You know you love me.

Gossip Girl

thankful for perspective

This is the time of year when we think about things we are thankful for. I’m most thankful for pretty much the same things every time, including my readers, my friends, New York City, and the fact that daylight hours will start increasing in less than a month. But this year, I am tremendously thankful for someone new.

That person is Aron Ralston.

I saw 127 Hours two days ago and my chin is still on the floor. Not only is the movie based on Aron’s actual experience of being trapped in a canyon for five days, but he is played by James Franco. So of course I had to go see.

James Franco in 127 Hours

The amazing thing about Aron is that he cut off his own arm to escape the boulder it was pinned under. And he did this with a dull switchblade.

Aron tells about his ordeal here:

I’m way thankful for Aron. I’m thankful for his courage. I’m thankful that he’s here with us to tell his story. And I’m thankful for the way his experience can help us to keep the little annoyances of our daily lives in perspective. Aron Ralston epitomizes the advice to never give up.

Aron said that he had an epiphany while he was trapped. He realized that life is about relationships. So here’s a relationship connection that is blowing my mind. The day Aron cut himself free was May 1, 2003. May 1, 2003 was my 30th birthday. It was also the day my Gram died. She was basically my whole family and I knew she was going to die on my 30th birthday and while all this was happening Aron was cutting off his arm to save his life.

Now, I’m sure there are lots of people who’d say all of that means nothing. But I’m someone who believes in the Energy. I believe that the Energy connects us in meaningful ways. And I believe that, in some cosmic way, Aron’s determination to hold onto this life and never let go is meant to influence anyone who feels like this life thing is just too hard. I know how that feels. I know how it feels to want to give up. But we can’t. Because Aron never did. In a way, we owe it to everyone who is no longer with us to live our lives that much more meaningfully.

So yeah. Let’s do this thing. Let’s remember that a long line at the post office is a minor, temporary inconvenience. Let’s work towards being the best possible version of ourselves. And of course let’s never, ever give up.

See? I’m always thankful for a powerful non-coincidence 🙂

a michael scott joint

Are you in need of a TGIM pick-me-up? Are you as obsessed with The Office as I am? Okay, I realize that would be impossible. Plus, if you claim to be anywhere near as obsessed as I am, then we’re going to throw down. So I’ll put it this way…are you an Office fan? Then you’re in luck! I found this genius fan trailer you have to see. And if you can name every ep these clips came from (like I can, ahem), you get a cookie.

Great Scott!

dream bigger

If I had to pick a personal motto, it would probably be this: always dream big. Dreaming big is the whole reason I’m here. And by "here," I mean being an author with a blog that friendly neighbors like you read. I never stopped believing that my heart’s desires would be reality. People said that the things I wanted were impossible. They said I’d never reach my goals. A lot of them even said that I would never have a book published.

I went ahead and did everything they said I couldn’t do anyway.

Imagining all of the amazing things that could happen in my life makes me happy. Of course, it’s easier to dream big when you know what you’re meant to be – when you know what you are. I knew I would be a science teacher when I was 12. When I was 16, I started thinking seriously about writing children’s books. I didn’t yet know what kind of science I wanted to teach or what kind of books I wanted to write. I just had a Knowing that these careers were meant to be my reality.

Dreaming big is how I created the life I have. And it’s how I continue to create the life I want.

So when I saw a feature in Seventeen about dreaming bigger, I was stoked. Dreaming bigger is badass. Dreaming bigger means that you have a goal you want to reach, but you reach beyond that goal. Like how Oprah didn’t stop at wanting to be a journalist. She reached way beyond that goal to become a media queen. Seventeen interviewed some other successful ladies about dreaming bigger. Their responses totally resonated with me and I knew I had to share them with you. Here are some excerpts from the Dream Bigger! feature of the October 2010 issue.

Seventeen: How can a girl figure out the difference between a dream that’s achievable and one that’s a fantasy that will never happen?

Tyra Banks: By being honest with yourself. I wanted to be a singer, but I couldn’t really sing. I wanted it so badly, and I did everything to make it happen, but it was my fantasy. My true calling was TV production – creating shows and being a businesswoman. That’s what my heart and soul has wanted to do since I was 9 years old. The day that I came up with America’s Next Top Model, I knew that I had discovered my true journey. It’s what I’m supposed to do. You have to know who you are and find your strengths, and work as hard as you can to develop them.

Seventeen: How can girls set themselves apart to achieve their dreams?

Rachel Zoe: The more you stay focused, the more you prove to people that you’re good at your job. When you find something you love to do, success will come because you’ll enjoy it so much that you’ll work that much harder. You’ll want to put your whole self into the thing you love, and nothing else will seem to matter as much as going after it – even the stuff you’ll miss out on when working toward your dreams. I’ve missed birthday parties and things in my personal life, but I think it was worth it. There are going to be a lot of sacrifices along the way. Just don’t lose patience, don’t give up, and don’t take a job that you don’t like – you’ll ultimately resent it.

Seventeen: What does every girl need to know to be able to follow her dreams?

Lisa Ling: Making mistakes is okay. They are the best lessons. And never think that you are above anyone. Treat everybody as important, no matter who they are and what they do.

Seventeen: How can girls figure out what they’re really passionate about?

Kara DioGuardi: Write down all the moments in your life that you’ve felt happiest. Not because of some guy, or because your parents took you on a vacation, but when you were doing something. And that’s where dreams come into play, because dreams are what your inner voice is telling you that you really want to do. Maybe your inner voice is saying, I love music, which means there are many things you could do. If you have the talent, you could be a singer. Or you could work in a studio. You could do PR at a record label. There are many different avenues that you could follow, but your core would be music if that makes you happy.

All of this good advice has inspired me to give you a weekend project. If you’re still trying to figure out what you’re meant to do, make a list of things that inspire you. These are the areas you’ll want to research to identify a possible future career. If you already have career goals, how can you take steps every day to move closer to achieving them? Write these down in a way that works for you – in your journal or day planner, or on Post-its – and make a strong effort to work toward your goals in some way every day.

The journey really is a series of small steps. If you keep moving forward, eventually you’ll end up where you want to be. And never, ever stop dreaming bigger!

the hunker down

Thanks to everyone who commented with suggestions for the When It Happens movie casting! I’ll be forwarding all of your ideas to my agent. It will most likely be a really long time before I have any definite movie news to tell you, as these things tend to take way longer than we’d like. But as soon as I have some news to share, you will read it here first!

Speaking of When It Happens, do you remember how Tobey and Sara played Dots? Well, Dots is a real game that the boy who inspired Tobey’s character showed me how to play when we were seniors. In case you were wondering if I ever use real-life experiences in my books, I absolutely do and Dots is one of them. Back then, we had to make our own Dots boards by taking regular notebook paper and filling the page with a dot grid. Those took forever. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that Rhodia has a new Dot Pad!

Rhodia Dot Pad

It’s totally ready to play Dots! Man, I could have really used one of these 20 years ago.

Little things like this make me happy. Because I am all about the little things. Especially when it gets dark ridiculously early. Seriously, it’s like totally dark out and it’s not even 4:30 yet.

So not cool.

It’s official. The Hunker Down has begun. This is the time of year when daylight hours are the shortest. Lots of people think that daylight hours keep getting shorter throughout the winter. False. We get the least amount of daylight on the winter solstice, which is December 21 this year. After December 21, daylight hours start increasing by about two minutes a day (until June 21). This is good news! It may be butt fricking cold in February, but hey, at least we have more daylight. The Hunker Down is the best time to stay inside. It’s dark and cold out. There’s no quality fruit available. No one can come out to play. That’s why the Hunker Down is the perfect time to write a new book! I’ll be working on book six for the next three months. If you also have writing goals, the Hunker Down welcomes you.

Did 2010 zoom by or what? With only 1.5 months to go, I’m flabbergasted. It seems like just yesterday I was hanging on the edge of 2009 and having good feelings about 2010. I made a secret pact last December. I know this might seem crazy, but I don’t care. My pact was…okay, announcing my pact may jinx it, but I am taking the risk. My pact was that I would not get sick in 2010. I was getting all these annoying colds last year and was just really sick of getting sick. I’m like the worst sick person ever. I am whiny. I am demanding. And I can never get comfortable. I also refuse to do any work when I’m sick. You know those people who manage to keep doing everything when they’re sick? Yeah, I’m the total opposite. I pretty much just read and sleep the whole time. And complain about how sick I am.

So I thought, Hey, you know what would be fun? To not get sick in 2010! Irrational as it was, I was determined to reach this goal. It’s actually working – 2010 has been free of sick. How am I doing it? A few new routines have helped. I always wash my hands right when I come home. I use my own pen to sign receipts in stores. I guess I’m just being more careful about what I touch. I’m sure I’ll go back to being less obsessive in 2011 and will immediately get smacked down by a horrible cold. But at least I’ll have my new Dot Pad, ready and waiting to play Dots. Then I’ll just need to find someone who feels like playing Dots with a complaining sick person…

For now, though, I have begun the Hunker Down. Let prime writing time begin!

from dream to reality in < 3 years

I’m about to say something that may be highly controversial. It might even lower my street cred a notch. But something unexpected has happened and I feel the need to share it with you.

I’ve been slightly obsessing over Justin Bieber’s YouTube channel.

It’s not like I have Bieber Fever or anything. Well. Maybe it’s just a little fever. Like 98.9 degrees.

Here’s the thing. Justin Bieber has gone from singing on the street to megafame in under three years. That’s incredible. Before I stalked visited his YouTube channel, I had no idea that he played the guitar, piano, and drums. I’d heard that he was discovered on YouTube, but I didn’t know that Usher found him so quickly from word of mouth. Justin’s early fans had astounding power. Never underestimate word of mouth.

I’ve probably heard Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” 5,000 times. Love that song. So when I found this clip of Justin Bieber’s cover, I was ready to be unimpressed. But dude. He impressed. I think he was about 13 when he recorded this. The guitar is bigger than he his. But he was determined to succeed. No matter what you think about him, you cannot deny that the boy is seriously talented. Here he was in 2008, just sitting on his couch and dreaming big:

And now look.

Amazing things can happen when you put yourself out there. Whatever your goals are, whatever your biggest heart’s desire is, it all starts with developing your skills. Then putting yourself out there when you’re ready. So reach out and make connections. Share your talent with the world. I know it’s scary. People might not react the way you expect them to. And there will always be haters. But eventually, you will find your people. Those are the people that will help you turn your dream into reality. They are out there. It’s up to you to find them.

Always dream big. Then go out there and make it happen.

your skills are requested

When It Happens is going to be a movie.

Let me clarify.

I don’t have a movie deal yet. I’ve just always had a Knowing that this book was meant to be a movie. My agent is working on things now and she wants to know who should play Sara and Tobey. While I was writing When It Happens, I pictured each scene like a scene from a movie, complete with soundtrack. Which I think filtered into the writing because I’ve gotten lots of emails from readers saying that the book totally felt like a movie when they read it. Sweet! The thing is, the actors I originally wanted for the movie are now too old. And I’m not really sure who to suggest.

That’s where you come in.

When It Happens by Susane Colasanti

Some of you have emailed me casting suggestions over the past couple of years, but now I need to get everyone’s ideas together. So! Please share your sharp movie casting skills and tell me…

Who should play Sara?

Who should play Tobey?


My editor just informed me that Paul Rudd lives in my neighborhood. How could I have missed this? I love Paul Rudd! I loved him before anyone else even knew who he was! But my editor loves him, too. So of course we had to have a mini throwdown over who loves Paul Rudd more. We determined that we love him equally (note: I totally love him more – I was just being nice). I seriously cannot get enough of him and Jason Segel in I Love You, Man.

Paul Rudd and Jason Segel in I Love You, Man

Shockingly, my editor didn’t call me to talk about Paul Rudd. We just finished going over the first pass of So Much Closer. Could I be any more excited for this book? No. I could not possibly be. Waiting six months until you guys can read it won’t be easy. For those of you who are book bloggers, I’m sorry that I won’t be able to compile mailing lists for ARCs anymore. I spoke with my publicist about this and she said that reviewers may contact her for an ARC. You can find her contact info on my website. I can’t guarantee that you’ll receive an ARC, but it’s worth a try.

A couple book giveaways are in the house. I managed to score an extra ARC and posted it on Goodreads. Anyone can enter to win it. Also, I’m the author of the month over at Book Reader Addicts. They’re running a contest on my fan page where you can win one of my other books. They’ll be asking trivia questions all month where you can earn extra entries. Sweet deal!

If you happen to run into me searching the nabe for Paul Rudd, feel free to join in. Maybe we’ll even jam. Slappin’ da bass!

fun interview

Girls in the Stacks caught up with me at the Austin Teen Book Festival last month to ask some questions about Take Me There. I was honored to be Riyanna’s first interviewee! The girls were so sweet about staying late to talk with me. They even gave me some Mr. Mc’s peanut brittle as a thank-you gift. Which they totally didn’t have to do, but I’m so happy they did because it is the best peanut brittle in the world.

It’s not easy for me to watch videos of myself. Or even listen to a recording of myself. I think my voice is weird. I mean, it sounds fine in my head, but when I hear how my voice actually sounds in the world it’s just…really different. When I first watched my Something Like Fate author video, I had to turn the volume down really low so as not to be scandalized. But now I seem to be getting used to hearing it.

So my new thing is, Why am I such a spaz? It’s like impossible for me to sit still during an interview. Ironically, I was feeling pretty drained during this one. The festival was eight hours and my signing line ran late (which is awesome!), so by the time we did this interview I was worried that I’d look tired. Now I understand why my students always asked if I drank coffee. Caffeine is apparently the last thing I need. In case you were wondering how I am in a low-energy state, here it is!

the whole galleys/arcs/marketing thing

I’ve been getting some questions about what exactly ARCs are and how they’re different from galleys and how they’re connected to marketing. So I’ve made an executive decision to answer everyone here! Well, I’ll try to answer your questions the best I can. There are still lots of questions I have about this whole process, too.

After a manuscript has been copyedited (where every single detail is completely scrutinized), it’s ready to move on to the first step of the pre-finished-book printing process. Oh wait, I want to say something about copyediting. You don’t just submit a manuscript and revise it once and then it goes right to copyediting. Manuscripts shouldn’t be submitted to any publisher or agent for consideration unless you are submitting your best possible work. And by “best possible work,” I mean that you’ve revised the manuscript on your own several times – ideally, taking a few months off between revisions to let it sit. I’m always surprised by how much I want to change when I step away from a draft for a while. Time really does help to shape your story. Once an editor is working with your manuscript, it will likely go through several more revisions before it even gets to the copyediting stage.

After copyediting is done, first pass pages are printed. This is a layout of how the book will look on big paper. As with copyedits, I’m sure the first pass will evolve from its big paper format to paperless in the near future. Most publishers are doing copyedits in Word with track changes now. But I like being able to see the book pages on paper. For some reason, reading everything on paper makes me feel more secure about catching problems.

Here’s the first pass of So Much Closer:

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti first pass

The first pass gives everyone (the editor, the author, and a few other editors with seriously sharp eyes) an opportunity to check the book for errors or other things that should be changed. We check for typos that inadvertently resulted from typesetting. We check for other typos that everyone missed in the previous drafts. You would not believe how many typos slip through the cracks! It shocks me every time, being an obsessive perfectionist and all. The first pass isn’t just about making sure the text is correct. I like using different handwriting fonts in my books for notes and stuff. These different fonts aren’t formatted until the first pass. So now I can check to make sure they’re believable handwriting fonts for the characters. Like if the book describes someone’s handwriting as round and loopy but the font is narrow and pointy, that’s not going to work. We also have to make sure that any symbols printed correctly. I like to use chapter break symbols and, unfortunately, they were forgotten in this first pass. Good thing there’s a second pass!

I’m the last person to see the first pass. By the time I get my copy, there are all these notes and marks and questions written on it by the friendly neighbors who analyzed it before me. Some authors just respond to their concerns, but I read the book over again. This is a lot harder to do than it sounds. By the time the book gets to this stage, I’ve already read it so many times that the last thing I want to do is read it again. But I do it because this is pretty much my last chance to make any last changes I want. There’s always stuff I want to change every time I read a book over. When I read the first pass, I try to focus on what my readers will see, what they’ll be asking themselves, and anything that wouldn’t seem clear to them.

Then the galleys are printed!* Galleys are very exciting because they’re in book form, bound with the cover art. There are several types of galleys. So far, my books have only been printed as two kinds of galleys: a kind I don’t know the name of and ARCs (advance readers’ copies). What’s the difference between these galleys? As far as I can tell, they both look pretty much the same except for the back covers. Here’s the back of a Something Like Fate galley (the kind I don’t know the name of) and the back of a So Much Closer ARC:

Something Like Fate galley and So Much Closer ARC

As you can see, the ARC has lots more marketing info on the back. I’ve been told that ARCs are the type of galleys printed for books with larger print runs that are getting a bigger push from marketing. So yay for the So Much Closer ARCs! The main purpose of the galleys is to give reviewers and media enough time to read the book before its release date. Galleys are usually distributed to them about six months before a book’s release date. So Much Closer comes out on May 3 and the ARCs were just printed a couple weeks ago. The ARCs will also be distributed at book conferences so that teachers and librarians can get in the loop.

Here’s a fun bit of info. See how the Something Like Fate galley mentions my Best Friends and Boyfriends tour? That’s how I found out I was going on my first tour! Which of course made that galley even more exciting.

Another marketing device that helps get the word out about upcoming book releases is the publisher’s catalogue. It has ordering information for booksellers and lets them know if things like floor displays will be available. I don’t think Penguin has printed the Summer 2011 catalogue yet, but here’s what the catalogue pages looked like for Something Like Fate:

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti catalog pages

So what happens after galleys? There’s a second pass. The second pass is like when Jack Bauer calls for backup. If anything was left out of the first pass or there are still a few stubborn typos determined to hang on, we will hopefully catch all that in the second pass. It’s also a chance to make sure that the changes we made to the first pass printed correctly. What I like to do is haul out my copy of the first pass, put it next to the second pass, and go through each page to make sure the changes I marked and others marked on the first pass were all made in the second pass. Sometimes there’s a third pass, but I don’t see that stage.

After everyone agrees that the book is ready, hardcover copies are finally printed (unless a book doesn’t have a hardcover edition). I’m not really sure when the actual printing takes place. I received author copies of my first two books about a month before their release dates. But my books have had strict on-sale dates since Waiting for You, which means that now I don’t receive my author copies until right around the release date. It’s a happy, happy day when FedEx delivers those boxes of books.

*Note: The ARCs of So Much Closer were actually printed before the first pass. I was really worried about that. Fortunately, I’m not seeing too many errors in the first pass.

I hope this helps to break down some of the confusion. Trust me, I’m still confused about a lot of things! Do you have more questions? Just let me know…