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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top five, officially fall edition

So I can no longer deny it. It’s officially fall. This is the last day of September and the trees outside my window turned light green when I wasn’t looking and the annual pumpkin spice craze has begun. Although I heard that maple is the new pumpkin spice this fall. I could not be more thrilled over this joyous news because I love maple. But yeah. Someone was even wearing a puffer yesterday, which is completely unacceptable. Save winter for winter, people!

While I was slaying my 2017 Year on Fire like a #girlboss, there were a few late summer things I didn’t get a chance to share here. Like…

1. That time I went into the new Amazon Books across from the Empire State Building and found the 50th Anniversary Edition of the book that inspired me to become an author and its endpapers were THIS.

50th Anniversary Edition of The Outsiders

2. That time Jason Segel followed me on Twitter when he had 2.4 million followers but was only following 374 people, which totally meant that I was on Jason Segel’s radar. Maybe he saw my reference to Nick Andopolis in…wait, which book did I put that in again?

Jason Segel is following Susane Colasanti

3. That time I looked up and saw X marks the spot. Major city love feels.

Looking up in NYC

4. That time I was clinging to the last vestiges of summer and posted a final summer love, sisterhood, self-discovery City Love trilogy giveaway on Goodreads, which you can still enter here.

Forever in Love by Susane Colasanti on Goodreads

5. That time I spent the first morning of fall the same exact way I spent the first morning of fall last year: up on my roof, soaking in the lingering summer breeze.

Susane Colasanti on the first morning of fall, 2017

Now it’s all about transitioning into the fall portion of 2017 Year on Fire. I can’t wait to share everything I’ve been working on this year with you. I can’t wait for my next books to come out. I can’t wait to taste my first maple treat of the season. But while I am buzzing with sweet anticipation, I will be enjoying the journey. Looking up. And feeling the city love.

Wishing you a spectacular fall, friendly neighbors! xoxo

ten years

Ten years ago this summer, I took a massive career risk when I left teaching to become a full-time author.

I only had one book out at the time, with absolutely no idea if my future books would sell, or how many books I would have published. But I refused to let fear prevent me from creating my dream bigger life. Failure was not an option.

And now today, because of you, we have all of this.

Ten years of books by Susane Colasanti

THANK YOU. Thank you for making this life possible. None of this would be possible without my readers, the most dedicated, passionate, caring readers in the world. You are why I write. You are why I keep hope alive every single day.

Whatever your big dream is, don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way from bringing it to life. Never, ever, ever give up.

Much love.

xoxo-
Susane

sheetcaking

“Sheetcaking is a grassroots movement. Most of the women I know have been doing it once a week since the election.”

Tina Fey sheetcaking

See, this is why I love Tina Fey.

I used to sheetcake on the reg, but I swapped cake for pages in my 2017 Year on Fire. As of today, August 18, my Gram’s birthday, I am about to start writing my FIFTH BOOK of 2017.

That is how we convert negative energy into positive energy.

Get it!

top five, heart eyes edition

1. You know when you’re having a Twitter chat and S.E. Hinton drops in?

S.E. Hinton on elephants

Turns out the author of my fave teen novel loves elephants as much as I do! In the chat, we were talking about things we will be forever in love with. I said how I will be forever in love with elephants because they’re my spirit animal. As I was posting, I saw S.E. Hinton’s RT of an elephant with some zebras and a giraffe. So of course I had to RT her RT…and there you go. This is the kind of connection with an author I admire that would have blown my mind when I was rereading The Outsiders for the zillionth time as a teen. Yay technology!

2. Speaking of The Outsiders, who remembers this slammin look from 1983?

C. Thomas Howell, 1983

I mean. C. Thomas Howell was killing it with the popped collar and Izod sweater. And that hair. I have so much love for this movie poster I can’t even. My tattered old copy of the book has this cover, the best cover of all the editions IMHO.

3. Throwing it back to the 80s, I played the violin from 7th grade to 12th grade because I loved the challenge of developing the skills specific to playing a string instrument. There was all this snobbery the orchestra nerds had over the band geeks. Mastering a string instrument requires finesse. Meticulous finger placement. Methodology of bowing. String instruments are nothing like wind instruments, where all you have to do is press buttons or cover holes or whatever. That was our philosophy, and we stuck to it, scoffing whenever some percussion player bragged about his new drum riff. Ah, memories.

I also just love how string instruments look. How they are made. Their parts and pieces. In a way, string instruments are like people.

violin parts

4. What else do I love? So. Many. Things. Like how at my old place in the West Village and at my new place in Gramercy Park, a personal mourning dove has made friends with me. He sits in a tree outside my window.

mourningdove

If you searched “mourning dove” on this blog, you would probably come up with like 23 results of me talking about how the mourning dove hoo makes me so happy. Seriously. It’s one of those sounds that instantly elevates my mood, no matter what. And look how puffy and cute this guy is! Bliss.

5. THIS.

This is New York City.

This is why I’m here. This was the inspiration for my City Love trilogy, which just came to an end with Forever in Love. This is why I moved to New York City 21 years ago, and why I will be forever in love with this magical place, glittery with infinite possibilities.

Here’s to your city love, wherever it may be. ❤

girl boy stuff

SO THIS HAPPENED.

Susane Colasanti and Blake Nelson, July 2017

I have been a hardcore Blake Nelson fangirl ever since I discovered Girl in 1994. I was in college and it was in the adult section because we really didn’t have a teen section yet except for a few sorry shelves in the children’s section and I could not even wait for another Blake Nelson book to come out. But that was before, like, the internet, and way before socials, so there was no way to just contact Blake directly and be like, “Do you have another book coming out?” I stalked the area where I found Girl for a long time afterwards. No new books were ever there.

Years later when YA was established, you can imagine how stoked out of my head I was to discover that Blake Nelson had several books on the shelves. They are all amazing and brilliant and I highly recommend you read each and every one of them.

For the past 10 years of my author life, I have been hoping to be on a panel with Blake. And then BOOM! My Forever in Love book launch event happened at Books of Wonder, the best indie bookstore in New York City that has hosted all of my City Love trilogy launch events, and we were finally on a panel together. Perfect timing so we could celebrate shiny new Boy and fresh faced Girl.

Basically? Don’t stop believing.

What else. The City Love trilogy tour videos are rolling out on my YouTube. The third location is 43 5th Avenue, the building where Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna are sharing an apartment together the summer before college. Which was also the dorms where Felicity Porter and her friends lived on Felicity! This building was University of New York (which doesn’t exist IRL) student housing, so I brought it back in the trilogy as UNY student housing again because Felicity is one of my Top Five Fave Shows and hopefully the trilogy has some Felicity feels.


The theme is resilience. Story of my life.

More soon. xoxo

top five, book love edition

Greetings, friendly neighbors! I don’t know about you, but I am having the best time with my spring reading. SO many outstanding books to escape into. For example…

1. You know how you and everyone you know binged 13 Reasons Why the second it appeared on Netflix? Well I am still savoring the sweet anticipation of watching the entire season for the first time. Initially it was because I was waiting for a key component of viewing to arrive. Because hello! No way was I watching without my binge box!

Susane Colasanti with her 13 Reasons Why binge box

Some post office drama ensued when I did not receive the first binge box sent to me. Jay Asher, who is the sweetest human being ever, had our publisher send me another one. When that one arrived, it became clear what happened to the first one. Someone totally stole it. I mean, the box is printed on the outside with 13 Reasons Why graphics and Jay has like a zillion fans. Obvs someone snapped it right up. But yay that the second binge box arrived, and yay for all the nifty gifties inside, and yay for an upcoming chunk of time dedicated to bingeing what I know will be a phenomenal show because all I hear is how much everyone LOVED it. Thanks, Jay!

2. In other dope packaging news, the ARC of Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith also arrived in a gorgeous box with pretty tissue paper and a sweet note. You guys know I am Jen’s #1 fangirl. Her writing is just so beautiful, so evocative, and her stories always resonate with me. Windfall is an absolutely brilliant story. How does Jen always come up with the best ideas?! Seriously, the girl defines high concept. I loved how Jen dug even deeper with her writing this time around. No spoilers, but she weaves this poignant island / peninsula / landlocked metaphor throughout the story that was incredibly on point. Windfall comes out on May 2, and you will def want to add this gem to your TBR pile.

Oh, and if you’re in the Los Angeles area? You might want to swing by the launch event.

Jennifer E. Smith and Lauren Graham

3. I recently read The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder and just had to give it a shout-out. I love WW’s writing! This is the kind of book that makes you smile on every page. I had an extra attachment to the story, which took place in Middle of Nowhere, NJ. That’s where I’m from, and as it turns out Wendy grew up not too far from me in the woods. Different woods, but all New Jersey woods are connected, so different but the same. There is something about being from New Jersey that automatically connects everyone from New Jersey in a way that is both nostalgic for past experiences we didn’t have and the ones that shaped who we are today. Anyway. If you’re looking for a unique story with outstanding writing, this book is for you!

4. What am I currently reading?

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Oh, I don’t know. Just one of the best books ever written in the history of teen literature.

BOOM.

I mean, can words express my love for Becky Albertalli’s books? No. No, they simply cannot. Becky is inside your head. This girl knows all the things. And she says the things we all know but usually don’t say because they’re too embarrassing or we think we’re a weirdo for thinking them or we just feel too desperately alone. The Upside of Unrequited is taking me right back to all those shiny happy Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda feels. So. Much. LOVE. ❤ ❤ ❤

5. What’s up next? I’m feeling Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner. JZ (see what I did there?) is one of the most interesting people I know. The dude has done so many things with his life, and is still innovating like a mofo starboy. He’s had careers in the music world, legal world, performance world, and of course book world. Jeff is a shining example of living life out loud, taking risks, and being a badass. Can’t wait to escape into his latest world.

Happy reading 🙂