donnie wahlberg on my block

When I moved from the West Village one mile away to Gramercy this summer, I assumed that movies and shows filming on my block was something I’d left behind. I was okay with that. Exchanging David Duchovny right outside my door for lots more space and light was the right choice.

Then something really cool happened yesterday. I was writing (or staring into space and calling it writing) when I heard a bunch of people on the street below my window wall. There had been a movie trailer and cones and equipment the afternoon before, followed by something filming in front of a brownstone. The shot was simple: A guy bouncing a basketball on the sidewalk in front of the stoop, talking to someone on the stairs I couldn’t see through the trees. I waited for Jake Gyllenhaal to emerge from the trailer. He never did.

But things were getting serious yesterday. A bigger crew spent a few hours in the afternoon decorating a few brownstones with Halloween stuff. Spider webs, ghosts, pumpkins, and lights were everywhere. This was the view from my place:

Blue Bloods filming prep in New York City

I found out that they were filming an ep of Blue Bloods. I also found out that Donnie Wahlberg is on Blue Bloods.

Cue Joey Joe wailing “Please Don’t Go Girl”

Everyone left for dinner. When it started getting dark, a huge crew showed up. The street was filled with people setting up cameras and equipment and monitors and lights. A big craft service table on the corner was piled with food. The VIP tent went up. I learned about the VIP tent during those two days David Duchovny was filming in front of my old building. The key players chill in the tent. Along with the stars.

Cue Jordan’s falsetto on “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)”

A guy showed up to talk to one of the VIPs. It was quite possibly Donnie. I thought about running downstairs to check. But I was behind on my writing (due to all the staring into space). So I decided that of course it was Donnie.

Someone shouted, “Rehearsal!” The first scene rehearsed. Tons of actors in Halloween costumes were trick-or-treating at three or four houses. The costumes were impressive – Dorothy, a witch (who cackled), a sexy nurse, a convict on a bike, Spider-Man. A bunch more. Someone yelled, “Rolling!” The entire street of like 100 cast and crew got quiet. The clapperboard guy snapped the clapperboard. “Background!” Actors started moving. “Action!” The scene began.

Blue Bloods filming a Halloween scene in New York City

It’s hard to see here, but there were lights and decorations way down the street. There was a big pumpkin on the stoop that was all lit up. Sparkle pumpkin! The decorations were left there today. I thought it was a deal they set up with the homeowners. But I just checked and they’re all gone. Too early for them, anyway. Wouldn’t it be funny if the homeowners decided to put up the same decorations in a few weeks?

The same scene was filmed many times. It never got boring to watch. At one point I had to take a break and do some things around the house. It was fun hearing the witch’s cackle while I was loading the dishwasher. At one point, that guy I thought was Donnie showed up again holding a script.

Cue Donnie doing the “Hangin’ Tough” wave

It had to be Donnie. The crew immediately swarmed around him. Plus he had the right stuff. (Note: It was not Donnie. Most likely).

Around 11:00, everyone burst into applause. That was a wrap on the shoot. Confused pedestrians watched a bunch of actors in costumes heading toward their trailers. Only in New York.

Can I just say how awesome it was to almost have to go to bed with earplugs because a show was filming outside my windows and not because my downstairs neighbor was snoring through the floor? Hearing crickets one night, then “Rolling!” and “Action!” the next was just what I wished for. My new street rules.

Until next time…and the next cute boy filming on my street. Or not.

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perspective

The first online sighting of my new book coming out in May, All I Need, is in the house. A listing for it is up on Goodreads. And here we go…

I am having a plant crisis. My ponytail palm appears to have been inflicted with those fuzzy white aphids. Or whatever they are. One day he was fine, and the next there they were. Even worse is that they’re spreading to my other plants. I’m afraid that everyone’s going down. No one knows where they come from. It could have been that the ponytail palm and three other plants were new. I bought them all at the Greenmarket this summer. Then I repotted them all in these really pretty pots with colored stripes from Anthropologie. So it could have been the soil. Or not.

Of course the same exact day the Stove Situation was resolved (defective thermostat part replaced! oven officially works!), Plant Crisis barged in. That’s one for the already packed Of Course file.

Thinking back, I intentionally picked this particular ponytail palm because he was scraggly. I chose him over the much more mature guy. I wanted to give him a chance. Kind of like Charlie Brown with his scrappy little Christmas tree. Plus he was calling out to me all like, “Pick me!” How could I resist? And all along his scraggly quality might have been a sign of susceptibility to aphids.

I’ve had plants attacked by those fuzzy white aphids before. Which is so frustrating because I am a plant person! I know from plants! But we are all helpless in the face of those unfriendly neighbors. They spread so quickly before that they took a bunch of my plants down. No amount of spraying helped. Now I’m fretting and spraying and hoping that my plants survive. But if they don’t…well, there are worse things.

9.11 Memorial, September 2012

Like most people I know, I was kind of having a bad week last week. Isn’t it fascinating how that happens? It’s like everyone is suddenly afflicted by negative energy at the same time, with no clue where it came from. Just like the aphids. Anyway, I wasn’t having the best week. Then I visited the 9.11 Memorial.

Perspective has been restored.

All of those little things that annoy us, every bad thing that happens despite our careful planning, the daily irritants that take up way more of our time and energy than they should…none of those things matter. What matters is that we are alive. What matters is that things get better. In a way, we should be thankful that we have the opportunity to deal with the annoying stuff. Because it means we get to enjoy the happy stuff, too.

Makes that long line at the post office a bit more tolerable, right?

My plants might die. Hopefully they will survive. Whatever happens, things will work out. And this experience will be a reminder of what’s really important.

events this week

Thanks for all of your excitement about All I Need! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support here and on Twitter and Facebook. Your excitement is making me even more excited. It’s an extra glittery excitement chain, friendly neighbors!

Even more exciting stuff…I have events this week in Connecticut and New York. The first one, this Thursday, is with a stone-cold awesome pack of Penguin Teen authors:

September 20, 2012 – 6:30 pm
RJ Julia
768 Boston Post Road
Madison, CT 06443

Penguin Young Readers Group panel featuring Tara Altebrando, Susane Colasanti, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Natasha Friend, Kat Rosenfield, and Nova Ren Suma. Info can be found here.

Then on Sunday it’s fun with the Brooklyn Book Festival!

September 23, 2012 – 4:00 pm
Brooklyn Book Festival
Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Panel discussion with Barry Lyga and Louise Rozett, moderated by Jennifer Castle. A listing of festival events is here.

Hope to see you at one of these!

all i need

My calendar has been trying to convince me that it’s the middle of September already. It tried to fool me on Saturday. Then again on Sunday. I was like, “Nice try, calendar. Last time I checked, it was July.” But today my calendar still insists it’s the middle of September. A more gullible person might start believing it.

Okay. Fine. The autumnal equinox is this Saturday. Summer is ending. But! There’s good news. It’s that time of year again. Advance copies of my new book will be printed soon. And I’ll be sharing the cover with you soon. So this is a good time to tell you that the title of my new book is All I Need.

Here are five things you might want to know about All I Need:

1. It’s coming out in May. The pub date hasn’t been confirmed yet, though. (Update: The pub date is May 21, 2013).

2. The story takes place in the same setting as one of my previous books. As in So Much Closer, you might even recognize a character or two.

3. I believe this to be the most romantic book I’ve written. I was going for an epic love story. Hopefully it is!

4. The main boy character is in college. I’ve been wanting to write about college characters for a long time. Stoked that it finally came together.

5. Most of the important scenes take place at the beach. A fun summer beach read 🙂

So there you have it. Of course I will let you know when we have a final pub date. Please stay tuned for an ARC giveaway the second they come in!

lights

There’s a group of four apartment buildings near my place called the Zeckendorf Towers. Each one has a triangular top. Every night the tops are lit up with gold lights. I can see one of the towers from my window wall. Its top has not been gold the past few nights. Instead, it’s doing this wild thing where it will be orange for a few minutes, then flash light blue and lavender for a few seconds, blink to blood red, and fade back to orange. It keeps repeating this cycle until the lights are turned off around 12:30.

I have to know what this means.

I’ve always been obsessed with city lights. Not sure where it came from. Maybe it’s just that when I was growing up in the country, city lights symbolized a more exciting life. They still give me that electric feeling. Even streetlights. Of course, the most special lights right now are the Tribute in Light. I wasn’t expecting to see them this year until tonight. They’re usually on for a week leading up to September 11. But they’re super expensive to produce, so the rumor was that they weren’t going on until tonight this year. When I saw them walking home from the gym last night, I just stood there and looked up. For a really long time. Seeing the lights emerging from One World Trade (aka The Freedom Tower) is a thing of beauty:

Tribute in Light for September 11, 2012

Tonight my friend Stephen and I will take our annual walk down to Ground Zero. We will get as close to the lights as we can. It’s this thing we have to do. Almost every year since September 11, 2001, the day we were supposed to visit the Twin Towers observation deck, we have walked down to where the Towers should be. Here we are with the Tribute in Light last year on September 11, 2011, reflecting on the past 10 years:

Susane Colasanti and Stephen Venters at the Tribute in Light on September 11, 2011

I wrote about our story last year. You can read it here.

The meaning of those Zeckendorf Towers lights is a mystery for now. But the meaning of the Tribute in Light could not be more clear. Hope lives on. Memories live on. We will never forget.

ginormous arc giveaway

It’s back to school for New York City kids today. Which means a tragic end to their summer. But summer does not officially end until the autumnal equinox on September 22. And I am determined to keep it going. We’re talking flip-flops, fruit salad, mini golf…and summer reading, of course.

How did my ARC pile get taller than me? Not really sure. Just to clarify, an ARC is an advance reader copy of a book that gets printed several months before the book is released. ARCs are awesome to add to your collection because usually only a small number of them are printed. Plus it’s fun to compare an ARC to the finished book to see what changes the author made. I try to give ARCs away after I read them and then buy finished copies of the books when they come out. But between moving and renovations this summer, the pile went crazy. My ARC collection is officially out of control. So I’m giving these to you:

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June by Robin Benway     Belles by Jen Calonita     My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham     The Duff by Kody Keplinger     Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle     Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone     Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June by Robin Benway

Belles by Jen Calonita

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

Two winners will be randomly selected to win four ARCs each. Winner one will select four ARCs. Then winner two will select four ARCs from the remaining stash.

Let’s do this one over on Twitter!

To enter:

1. Follow me on Twitter.

2. Tweet this:

Ginormous teen book giveaway! Follow @susanecolasanti and RT to enter. Giveaway info here: https://susanecolasanti.wordpress.com/

Giveaway rules:

1. All entries must be completed by Friday, September 14 at 11:11 pm.

2. Only one tweet per entrant will be counted.

3. I will announce the winners on Twitter on Monday, September 17.

4. Each 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. 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.

Happy tweeting!

not afraid

This might be top secret, but I’ve seen the first draft of my new book cover. I can’t even tell you how sweet and romantic it is. Totally adorable. This is the cover of book seven, which will be out in May. Or what I’m assuming will be May. As soon as I have a definite pub date, I’ll share it with you. Plus I’ll be sharing the title here soon. And of course the final cover the second I’m allowed!

Right now I’m going over the copyedits. I’ll hand them in next week. Then I’ll be starting my first draft of book eight. Every time I think about the new book I’m about to start writing, I get butterflies. It’s scary and exhilarating. Like falling in love. Good thing the story is already planned out. Knowing what I’m getting myself into reduces some of the fear factor. I’m always thinking two books ahead of the book I’m currently working on. Not sure why that is. But I’m very thankful things have been working that way. Especially when I think about what I did on this day five years ago.

Five years ago, I made the scariest change of my life. I did not show up at school to start another year of teaching. I did not continue to receive a steady pay check every two weeks, affordable health insurance, and an excellent retirement package. Instead, I became my own boss and started writing a new book. I had no idea if my books would keep selling well enough to pay my rent. I had no idea if I’d eventually be able to buy an apartment. (Note: There’s no way I would have been able to buy this apartment if I were still teaching. Not even close). Switching careers from high school science teacher to full-time author was super scary. It is scary to leave behind the familiar. It is scary to take a chance on the unknown. But we have to overcome fear to create our ideal life.

There will always be things to worry about. It seems like as soon as I solve one problem, another problem comes marching in, banging its loud problem parade drum. But I’m not afraid to live the life I’ve imagined. I am so, so happy that I followed my heart five years ago. I absolutely love my job. I can’t imagine being happier doing anything else.

Now it’s your turn. Take that chance you’ve been too afraid of. Create the life you want. You CAN turn your dreams into reality.

How will you begin?