2017 Year on Fire

Ten years ago, I took a major risk by leaving my teaching career to become a full-time author. I only had one book out at the time. I had no idea if my next book would sell, or how many more books I would have published, or exactly how I was going to pay my rent without a steady paycheck. I just knew that I had to overcome my fear of failure and take a major risk to create the life I wanted to live.

Some of you know that 2017 was my Year on Fire. I decided 2017 would be my Year on Fire near the end of 2016. You may recall that things were not all sparkly hearts and unicorns around that time. I was sad every day. I cried every day. I felt beaten down, defeated, even on the verge of nihilism. I couldn’t believe this was real life, that the world we were living in had become one I didn’t recognize anymore. But the sadness and crying didn’t help anyone. So I made an executive decision. 2017 would be an entire year of converting negative energy into positive energy every. single. day.

And it totally was.

Failure was not an option. 2017 would be a year in which I took the heartbreak and meanness and violence and transformed all of that negative energy into something positive that would help other people. I hit the ground running on January 1 and never looked back. Whenever I heard bad news (where bad = the most disgusting, horrible, insane information that my mind could not possibly wrap itself around), I turned off NPR or shut down Twitter and wrote 20 pages of whichever new book I was working on. I did not wallow in the badness like I did at the end of 2016. I did not have an apoplexy every time I heard the next depressing thing that would leave me curled up in a ball on the floor, bawling over war and injustice and racism and so much freaking hate like I did at the end of 2016.

I made a choice to respond in a way that was productive.

Controlling my news intake was key. Not having a TV helped tremendously with this. I did think it was important to stay informed, but there is a difference between learning about current events and wallowing in the depths of despair. I made a choice that 2017 Year on Fire would be a no wallowing zone. My technique was simple: I set my alarm every morning for the top of the NPR news hour to hear the worst, turned off the radio, and wrote 20 pages. If bad news infiltrated during the day, I learned the basic information about what happened, then shut it down and wrote 20 pages. That was my way of converting negative energy into positive energy.

All of those 20 pages added up.

2017 Year on Fire pages by Susane Colasanti

This is the stack of pages I wrote in 2017 Year on Fire. It’s about, oh, three thousand more pages than I would typically write in a year.

By May I had three books written, plus a 65-page proposal for a fourth book. How did I do it? How did I write four books and start a fifth by November when for the past ten years I had written only one book a year and was overwhelmed enough just doing that?

It’s amazing how much power is generated by converting negative energy into positive energy. As Carrie Fisher advised, “Take your broken heart. Make it into art.”

This was some extreme physics at work. EPA being dismantled? Go write 20 pages. Reduced funding for climate change scientists? Go write 20 pages. Planned Parenthood locations closing? Go write 20 pages, then 20 more. Increased emphasis on oil/coal and less on solar/wind? Go write 20 pages. Federal protections for transgender students withdrawn? Go write 20 pages. Syrian refugees banned? Go write 20 pages. White supremacist Nazi idiots stomping around with tiki torches? Yeah, I just went ahead and started that fifth book.

Around this time, I read an interview with Shonda Rhimes. When she was asked about her success, she said, “I was willing to stay longer and work harder than most people. You can have one show or you can have six — I thought, ‘Why not have six?’”

Year on Fire was like that for me. I didn’t come to play. I came to SLAY.

One of the four books I’ve written this year has been the most challenging book of my life. I’m collaborating with Alloy Entertainment at Warner Bros. This is a book I never ever ever thought I would write. Like EVER. But here we are. Year on Fire began with a development meeting at Warner Bros. in January, and rounded out the fall with another one in October.

Susane Colasanti at Warner Bros.

How did I finally get to their door after years of envisioning this big dream? Why am I writing a book that is painful and difficult and was like the last thing I ever thought I’d write?

My Year on Fire wasn’t only about showing up and doing the work. It was about being uncomfortable. Not just a little uncomfortable, like when it’s freezing out and you’re walking home in the icy wind slashing across your face and you can’t wait to get out of your cold, bulky winter gear and snuggle under a warm throw in your PJs and fuzzy socks with a good book, sipping hazelnut coffee topped with melty Marshmallow Fluff. I’m talking about being more uncomfortable than you have ever been in your whole entire life. I’m talking about the kind of uncomfortable that rips you wide open and spills your guts out.

See, I was super comfortable before. My writing schedule was pretty much the same every year. A new book published every summer, usually in May. Lots of vacay time in the summer. Starting a first draft in August, due by February 1. Repeat. I was extremely fortunate that this was my life for a decade, and every single one of you who have read my books made this life possible. I want to thank you with my whole heart. You are why I write. So yes, I knew comfort. As a Taurus, I crave comfort.

But then it was 2017 Year on Fire. And I yanked the soft, fluffy throw off my cozy comfort corner.

Not an easy thing to do for someone who loves routine and formerly hated change.

I busted down the walls of my comfort zone. We’re talking wrecking ball, Jaws of Life level destruction. I did scary things I’ve never done before in anticipation of transforming my life into something it had never been before. I not only learned to accept change, but I – wait for it – embraced change. What I learned is this: If you want big changes to happen, you have to make big changes. Maybe that sounds simple, but making big changes with the Unknown looming all big and scary down the line was the hardest thing for me. Big changes are scary. Big changes are hard. They take an exhausting amount of physical and emotional work that is anything but easy. Plus the whole time fear is trying to bring you down. Fear gets in your face all like, “Give up already. Give up and go back to your cozy comfort corner where everything is familiar and way easier.”

Tempting. But there was too much negative energy I wanted to convert into positive energy. There was no time to be comfortable.

2018 will be my Year of Happy. Simple in concept, challenging to implement, entirely new and a bit intimidating. The idea is this: I am only going to do things that make me happy. If it will not result in happiness, I will not do that thing. Let’s break it down. Cleaning counts as happy because a clean home equals happiness for me. Same with laundry. I am not happy doing laundry, but I am ecstatic when everything is clean and folded and put away. So yeah, the cleaning/errands/standing in line at Whole Foods parts will remain. But spending time with negative people that drain my positive energy? Going places and doing things that feel like work instead of fun? Allowing others to dictate what my life looks like, or bending and twisting my choices to squiggle out from under the tremendous weight of their judgments? Nope. No more. Time to bring some comfort back.

2018 Year of Happy

My Year of Happy will be a year in which I will choose to focus on happiness for myself and others. When I am happier, I can inspire more happiness in others, and that cycle will come into play stronger than ever in 2018. I’m looking forward to focusing on the things that bring me joy, immersing myself in positive energy, and eliminating negative, toxic forces from my life. Continuing to make my big dreams reality is of course a major part of what makes me happy, and there is much more hard work ahead. But that’s the thing about my work. I love what I do, so my career doesn’t feel like work. Do what you are. Do what you love.

And YOU? What did you learn about yourself in 2017? About your strengths? About the things you can tolerate, and the things you no longer want to? What will you focus on in 2018? Whatever you went through this year, whatever next year brings, know that I am right there with you in the face of change, fighting for what I believe in. This is all new for both of us, and we are in this together. So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to show up every day. We’re going to do the work. On days when we don’t show up or we don’t do the work, we’re going to take a deep breath and try again. We are going to keep doing this, the showing up and the work, until we have reached our goal. And then we’ll move on to the next goal. And then, when our goals have been achieved and our life looks a lot happier than it used to, we will celebrate making our big dreams reality.

Here’s to a whole lot of happy in 2018!

xoxo-
Susane

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happy spring, friendly neighbor style

Happy first full day of spring, friendly neighbors! The vernal equinox occurred early yesterday morning, and I wanted to write this post yesterday while I was in full-on first day of spring celebration mode. But my 2017 Year on Fire was en fuego with activity yesterday. I will be writing other posts specifically on my 2017 Year on Fire as incredible news unfolds to illustrate the power of positive energy in manifesting big dreams. For now, this is all about the positive energy of spring.

Mutts by Patrick McDonnell - Spring 2017

Let’s go back to yesterday for a minute. Not only was March 20 the first day of spring, it was International Day of Happiness and Fred Rogers’ birthday. ALL ON THE SAME DAY.

Mind. Blown.

That’s like one of the biggest non-coincidences I’ve ever seen.

I was freaking the eff out. First of all, I could feel the power of spring energy in the air the second I woke up before I even remembered it was the first day of spring. You know that groggy feeling you have when your alarm goes off and you want to sleep for two more hours? That’s me pretty much every morning. But yesterday? I did something I’d never done before. My alarm went off and I actually raised the roof in bed. Raised the roof a second after I woke up because I was wide awake and so happy. And then I remembered it was the first day of spring and I could just feel the positive energy spring brings and I visualized everything this season will manifest. It was the ultimate TGIM wake-up call.

All day I was busting out happy dances and throwing confetti around, as I do. How fitting that it was International Day of Happiness – oh snap! I just realized that connection to feeling so happy when I woke up! – on Fred Rogers’ birthday. As you know, I worship Mister Rogers in a godlike way. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was the inspiration for my whole friendly neighbors thing. Fred Rogers was the OFN (original friendly neighbor) and I love how he taught so many kids about the importance of kindness, compassion, and being exactly who you are.

Fred Rogers, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

I’ll leave you with this quote by Fred Rogers when he was testifying on the importance of educational programming for kids in front of the US Senate to encourage funding for the National Endowment for the Arts:

If we can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health. I think that it’s much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger than showing something of gunfire.

Wishing you much love and light this spring ❤

forever in love – wave four

Here is the last wave of quote graphics from Forever in Love, the final City Love trilogy book, coming out on July 11. You can totally pre-order your shiny new copy now (because you deserve it!) on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound.

Did you miss the quotes I’ve already posted? Here are links to wave one, wave two, and wave three. You can also find them on my Instagram.

I’m leaving you on a super positive note with the last quote about possibility. It is one of my main mottos, words I live by every day. May infinite possibility inspire you to make your big dreams reality.

Much love ❤

City Love trilogy - Forever in Love by Susane Colasanti

 

City Love trilogy - Forever in Love by Susane Colasanti

 

City Love trilogy - Forever in Love by Susane Colasanti

forever in love – wave one

Okay, so I know spring is in 11 days – which you KNOW I am psyched out of my head about – but I am already looking forward to summer. I mean, spring is my favorite season with all the springs things I adore: flowers, increasing daylight time, no big coats, renewal. It’s just that the final City Love trilogy book, Forever in Love, comes out this summer on July 11, and I have already planned a lot of super fun things to celebrate.

If you feel like getting your summer love / sisterhood / self-discovery feels on early, you can pre-order Forever in Love on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound.

City Love is my first series. I didn’t know how hard it would be to let my girls go after mentally living with them for over three years. These girls are my heart. So many of their experiences were my own, and their love for New York City brings me right back to when I first moved here 21 years ago.

March is a bit early to be jumping up and down about a July book release (not that I’m not jumping), but this month I do have a few things for you, including book events here in New York City. The 10th Annual NYC Teen Author Festival is coming up. You can find me there on Saturday, March 25 at McNally Jackson Books and Sunday, March 26 at Books of Wonder. Here are all the details on my events. And check out the full schedule of events here – it’s incredible! I’ll also keep doing City Love trilogy giveaways on my Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads leading up to the summer. And I’m rolling out Forever in Love quote graphics on my Instagram so you can get a taste of the book. Here’s wave one from Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna. Enjoy  ❤

City Love trilogy - Forever in Love by Susane Colasanti

 

City Love trilogy - Forever in Love by Susane Colasanti

 

City Love trilogy - Forever in Love by Susane Colasanti

holiday magic from asteroid b-612

If you’ve seen any of my dorktastic YouTube videos, you might have noticed the one in which I fangirl over my Little Prince collection. The Little Prince is my favorite book of all time and I have been collecting all things Little Prince for many years.

Which makes this the best. Christmas present. EVER.

The Little Prince tote bag

A Little Prince tote with the text of the entire novel printed on it!!!

Dude. This bag is seriously ready to dazzle at my next book events. Hopefully I will see fellow YA author Nicola Yoon at one of them so I can share it with her. Nicola is also a Little Prince fan. Which you know if you’ve read her outstanding novel Everything, Everything. I had to rave about her book here. And that video I mentioned earlier? Was one of my Fun Fact and a Book videos featuring Everything, Everything.

So yeah. Lots of fun connections.

Wishing you holiday magic and a beautiful new year. xoxo