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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city love magic

You guys know how obsessed I am with non-coincidences, right? Well this one that happened a few weeks ago dominates.

A non-coincidence is what I call it when a mind-blowing event occurs with a probability of about 0%, indicating that the Universe is bringing people together for a reason. Earlier this summer before Forever in Love came out, my friend Anton and I went to the High Line to film that City Love trilogy tour video. Then we had dinner after, and it was one of those perfect New York City summer nights where we had Manhattan to ourselves with the best outdoor table at an Italian restaurant we love. Positive energy was in the air.

We were walking down the street after dinner when I heard a girl behind me say, “Are you Susane Colasanti?” I turned around expecting to see an old student because that happens now and then and every time it does I am psyched out of my head because a.) I love connecting with my old students and b.) it’s fun to see how they look and hear what they’re doing all these years later when they are these grown people working it.

But she wasn’t an old student. She was a reader from Mexico who was here on vacation, and I was her favorite author whose books she’s been reading for the past ten years! That’s why she recognized me. Shout-out to Adela, who was city love magic in action. Big city, small world.

City love magic

As we were talking, a lady came up to us asking for directions, but her English wasn’t every good. Of course she spoke Russian because I was with my friend Anton, the one friend I have who speaks Russian! Her wallet was stolen and she was trying to find her way to a friend’s place. The Universe totally brought us together on that corner in a non-coincidence. What was the probability of a reader visiting from Mexico recognizing me on the street, and then a Russian woman coming up to us while I’m with my one Russian friend? Like 0%.

Or the time I actually did run into an old student on a random corner…and 30 seconds later another old student of mine comes up to us. I thought they were together. But they weren’t. They were a year apart in high school, but they recognized each other. I was like, WHAT. Is. Happening. I run into a student from 12 years ago, and then a student from 11 years ago comes up to us at the same time? On the corner of I Am Never In This Neighborhood and WTF?! Probability = 0%.

And then there was the time my ex and I went to dinner and I was telling him how earlier that day I waited at this computer repair place for three hours and didn’t even get to take my laptop home, I had to go back whenever they called and who knows when that would be, and the guy at the next table came over to ours. Dude. He was the owner of that computer repair place. He gave me his number. He said to call the repair place first thing in the morning and my laptop would be ready for me right away. Probability of being on deadline back in the day when I was in between desktop computers and having dinner at the same exact place as the owner of the shop that was holding my laptop hostage, who just happened to be sitting at the table next to mine? Zero.

That’s the thing about non-coincidences. Something bigger than us is happening here.

You attract the kind of energy you put out into the world. The more positive energy you put out there, the more non-coincidences will happen for you. Not to you. For you. Because you shape your own life with every thought, word, and action.

Wishing you epic non-coincidences. ❤

forever in love today

Today is here! Today is here!

Forever in Love is out in the world!!!

Susane Colasanti with Forever in Love

For those of you who missed the billboard I rented about it, Forever in Love is the final book of my City Love trilogy. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or at your local bookshop.

Speaking of online booksellers, if you read Forever in Love and enjoy it or have read City Love and/or Lost in Love and enjoyed those, would you kindly consider sharing your review online? Your opinion matters to me and to others. Those bright stars attract new readers!

I’ve been doing online Q&As with giveaways this week. Tomorrow, July 12, I will be answering your questions all day in my Goodreads Q&A group. On Thursday, July 13, I’ll be doing a Twitter chat 7-8pm EST. Everyone who asks a question will be entered to win a signed copy of Forever in Love, two winners per event. My goal is to answer as many of your questions as possible, but I usually don’t get to them all. A remaining one that made me smile is this:

Q: What are your Top Five Reasons to Love the City Love trilogy?

A: The summer before college, New York City, finding your people, embracing change, and dreaming big beyond fear. Oh, and summer love.

To show you what I mean, I am rolling out videos all week of my City Love trilogy tour. Each tour stop features a location from the book, and I tie in a theme from the books at each location. Of course the tour had to begin at the High Line.


Stay tuned to my YouTube for more tour videos rolling out this week!

Thanks to everyone who has read the City Love trilogy and is excited for this final book. I love connecting with you on socials, and am eternally grateful for your enthusiasm and support. You are why I write.

Forever in love with the infinite possibilities the future holds…

xoxo-
Susane

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

pick up the flippin bananas

Do you know anyone like this?

Mutts by Patrick McDonnell

Well this week is the opposite of greedy, so get your altruism on. Yay for Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 12-18! I am a huge Random Acts of Kindness Foundation fangirl and look forward to this week all year. The RAK Foundation has given you some kindness ideas for inspo. They would love for you to share any acts of kindness on your socials with #RAKWeek2017.

If you’re reading my City Love trilogy, you know that Sadie is all about the random acts of kindness and warm fuzzies and making the world a better place. I have so much love for her. As someone who was bullied and abused in my teens, kindness is close to my heart. That’s why I am a RAKtivist with the RAK Foundation. As a RAKtivist, I practice daily kindness, help when I see someone in need, share knowledge, and lead by example. You can become a RAKtivist too!

Sometimes it surprises me when I meet people who have not seen many acts of kindness in action. Like the other day at Trader Joe’s. I usually start my TJ’s shopping by getting a few bananas because they’re right near the door. If you don’t have a plan of attack for those TJ’s aisles, you risk drowning in a flood of aimless wanderers. Even on a Wednesday afternoon. So I was getting some bananas from the big bin when a lady next to me dropped the bunch of bananas she was inspecting. I reached down to the floor to pick them up for her.

“Those are MINE!” she yelled at me.

“I know,” I said, handing them back to her. “I saw you drop them.”

“You picked them up for me?”

“Of course.”

She couldn’t believe it. Like, she straight-up could not believe a total stranger would pick something up for her that she dropped. But then I couldn’t believe that she couldn’t believe it. She was so unaccustomed to people helping her or seeing people help other people that she seriously thought I was stealing her bananas. Off the floor. When I was standing in front of a huge bin with hundreds of bananas.

That was not okay.

For Random Acts of Kindness Week (and, um, every day), let’s commit to helping those around us. Hold the door open for the person behind you. Let someone go ahead of you in line if they look desperate. Give careful directions when someone asks. And pick up the flippin bananas. Because if more people had done acts of kindness for that lady in TJ’s, she wouldn’t have been surprised by mine at all.

And that’s exactly how it should be.

big talk

Small talk has never been my thing. Before I forced myself to get better at it so I wouldn’t die of boredom at cocktail parties where I didn’t know anyone, I totally dreaded any situation that would require the meaningless fluff and filler of small talk.

I swore that if one more person asked me the top two small talk questions:

“What do you do?”
“Where are you from?”

I would retaliate with questions that were meaningful and actually interesting to explore, thus encouraging some kind of genuine connection between us, like one of these:

“What’s your biggest dream?”
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how has your week been and why?”

These deeper questions aren’t serious enough to make people run screaming from me at parties, but are authentic enough to actually inspire a real conversation that isn’t a complete waste of time.

I didn’t want to make small talk anymore. I wanted to make big talk. But I didn’t know what to call it until Kalina Silverman gave a super impressive TED Talk. Kalina wanted to go out of her way to meet new people and skip the small talk, to have deeper conversations, and make more meaningful connections with them. So she created Big Talk, an initiative that inspires people to focus on what matters in this world. For her Big Talk video, Kalina asked strangers these big talk questions:

“What do you want to do before you die?”
“What would you do today if you knew you were going to die tomorrow?”

The results were magnificent.

Spread the big talk love, friendly neighbors ❤