bright colors, big city

February greetings, friendly neighbors! January pretty much zoomed by in like three seconds. I think it was a combination of being on deadline with my new book and…no, that was it. Writing the final City Love trilogy book was not easy. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to my girls. But now I am already starting my next book – which will be the 12th – and I am excited for this new beginning in a way I haven’t been before. The City Love trilogy is the only series I’ve written, and it has sort of become a diving line between my previous novels and what is to come. No worries, I will still be writing realistic teen love stories! There is just a bright new energy in the air here at the home office in New York City.

Authors can’t always rely on a set schedule year to year. Every time we sign a new book contract, we are agreeing to a new delivery deadline for the manuscript and tentative publication date. This is why I have been extremely fortunate that for the past ten years, my new book has always been due on February 1, and every book has been released in May (except for City Love, which came out last April). Being on the same schedule every year works well for organization freaks like me.

When I submit a new manuscript, it is actually my third draft, not a first draft. Writing a first draft is the most difficult part of the process for me. Facing the blank page can be terrifying. But the key is to dive into writing a new book without fear. Let the words flow. Let them glide you down meandering streams, race you through steep valleys, and arrive at an aqua sea glittering in the sunshine…which is how I feel when I print out that first draft. The manuscript still needs tons of work, but at least I have something on paper to work with. I like to do my second draft on the hard copy, then the third draft back on the screen. But that’s just how I work. Every writer works differently. The important thing is to find what works best for you, and then work it and own it.

Speaking of diving in…have you read This Raging Light by Estelle Laure?

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

 

How gorgeous is this cover? The second I saw it I wanted to dive right into its painted paper. And I don’t even know how to swim. This beautiful design is a perfect reflection of the beauty of Estelle Laure’s writing. I was riveted the whole time. You know those books that are so good you stay up reading until four in the morning, your eyes burning out of your head, knowing you will pay the next day but not caring? Oh yeah. This Raging Light takes you places. I cannot wait for the sequel, These Mighty Forces, coming next January. Snaps to Estelle for her extraordinary debut!

Speaking of debuts…it’s kind of blowing my mind that my first novel, When It Happens, came out 10 years ago. And get this. My new book, Lost in Love, will be released 10 years to the day of When It Happens on May 3, 2016.

You know how I love a good non-coincidence.

So what will this next stage of my career bring? Too early to say. All I know is that I am excited to dive into writing a new book and let the energy of New York City keep inspiring me every day. This energy makes me feel alive. See, my city love isn’t about a boy. It’s about this place I knew in my heart was my true home way before I got here 20 years ago. It’s about visualizing my dream life and taking steps every day towards making that dream reality. And, as always, remaining dedicated to writing books that hopefully make you feel less alone. You are why I write. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Here’s to those magic changes <3

ziggy played guitar

The only thing I could possibly write about this week is David Bowie.

David Bowie, 1973

David Bowie was…

See, I just can’t get over that. The was part.

David Bowie was a shining visionary who motivated outsiders to let our freak flags fly. He demonstrated the power of uniqueness. He showed us what innovative genius looks like. He was a stellar example of how being true to yourself makes the world a better place.

As an outsider growing up in Middle of Nowhere, NJ, David Bowie encouraged me to be myself, despite what those cookie-cutter suburbanite kids at my school who bullied me said. He was a role model to everyone searching for their true identity. He was pure inspiration.

When I think about David Bowie, I remember his different colored eyes. Or that time I discovered that the Spiders from Mars were actual characters during a David Bowie binge watching afternoon at the Museum of Television and Radio. Or how, even though he was not a natural performer and was never entirely comfortable on stage, he sparkled like the born rock star he was.

David Bowie, shining star

He died last Sunday. We found out on Monday. And all week I have been in shock. Everywhere I walk through the streets of New York, David Bowie’s lyrics play on a loop in my mind. I will never forget the impact he had on music and redefining what it means to be an artist. I will never forget him.

No matter what your passion is, let it shine. Let your purpose in life sparkle and glimmer and radiate until you become a stellar example for others. We have lost one of our biggest role models. Now it is your turn.

Shine on, everyone. Shine on.

happy winter solstice

Happy winter solstice, friendly neighbors! You might be wondering why I am wishing you a happy first day of winter, which is my least favorite season (i.e. I don’t do winter). I am trying to focus less on the fact that it is now winter and more on the fact that daylight time will now start increasing by about two minutes per day. More daylight time in dreary winter is a very good thing. Bring on the light!

In case you didn’t know how hardcore a science nerd I am, I wanted to share with you how I celebrated the solstice tonight. The Museum of Mathematics hosted a solstice celebration across from the Flatiron Building in the plaza at 23rd Street. Math and science enthusiasts showed up to create a seven-pointed star, live streamed from a camera on the top floor of the Flatiron Building. We all gathered along the lines of a star that was measured with a giant protractor, drawn in chalk on the ground. Here’s the MoMath top math dude dropping some solstice knowledge on the crowd with his giant protractor:

Museum of Mathematics Solstice Stars 2015

Then we held foam glow sticks horizontally so they were touching end-to-end to form the sides of the star. The star looks like this without people:

Museum of Mathematics Solstice Star

Why did the star have seven points? The outer angle of each triangle measured approximately 26 degrees, which is the highest altitude of the Sun in New York City on the winter solstice (at noon). Starting tomorrow, daylight time will gradually increase by about two minutes per day as the Sun’s noon altitude increases a little bit each day, up until the summer solstice. Since the Sun has a longer apparent path to follow during the day, it takes a longer time to do so (as the Earth rotates on its axis 15 degrees per hour, which is the actual motion that makes the Sun appear to move throughout the day), resulting in more daylight time. I cannot. freaking. wait. for more light.

Nerdy enough? Heck yeah it was. Hope your solstice was on point, too!

serendipity day

Happy Serendipity Day! Every year on December 20, I repost my annual Serendipity Day reflections to celebrate the power of this auspicious day with you. Here’s to positive energy, following your heart, and the magic of soul mates. Much love <3

*

Today is Serendipity Day, aka Serendipity Do Da, aka Do Da Day.

You would probably like an explanation.

If you didn’t see the movie Serendipity, then not to be bossy? But you really need to go ahead and do that. It’s all about fate and destiny and positive energy and has some amazing New York City scenes. Films like Serendipity take city love to a whole other level. But even if you did see it, you probably didn’t pick up on the fact that Jonathan and Sara meet on December 20. Being obsessive about those kinds of details, I totally did. Then I immediately made an executive decision that December 20 will always and forever be known as Serendipity Day.

When they meet, Jonathan and Sara are in Bloomingdale’s trying to grab the same pair of gloves. You know how sometimes you meet someone and there’s this instant intense connection? That’s what happens to them. So of course they can’t just go their separate ways. They have to go to Serendipity 3 (which is only a few blocks away – love the accuracy) for frozen hot chocolates. And then they go ice skating in Central Park. It’s one of those magical New York nights, filled with excitement and possibility.

Sara Thomas and Jonathan Trager at Serendipity

But then.

When Jonathan writes down his number for Sara, the wind blows it away. She thinks it’s a sign that they’re not meant to be together. Or at least, not right now. She’s all about fate and destiny. So she makes him write his name and number on the back of a five-dollar bill, which she immediately uses to buy mints. Sara’s idea is that if the five-dollar bill makes its way back to her, then they’re meant to be together.

Good, right?

If you’ve read Something Like Fate, you can understand why I love this movie. I love it so much that my friend Joe and I used to celebrate Serendipity Day by reenacting the original Serendipity Day’s events. First, we put our names in at Serendipity. There’s usually a three-hour wait for a table around the holidays. I am not exaggerating. Serendipity is a gorgeous winter wonderland right now, all sparkly lights and trees and tinsel. Everyone wants in. But it was perfect because we needed those three hours to reenact scenes from the movie. We would head over to Bloomingdale’s, where we both grabbed a pair of gloves at the same glove counter. That counter doesn’t have gloves anymore so we had to bring the gloves over from the gloves section, but it still counted. Then it was off to Wollman Rink in Central Park. It was always the Coldest Night Ever when we did this. I don’t know how to ice skate, so we would kind of just stand there shivering and watching the glittery skyline and sending positive energy out into the Universe.

Sara Thomas and Jonathan Trager at Wollman Rink in Central Park

Then our table was ready at Serendipity 3 and it was frozen hot chocolate time! In the movie, Jonathan and Sara get red and blue straws in theirs. But we always got regular straws. So I asked about the red and blue ones. I was monumentally disappointed to discover that they don’t have those red and blue straws anymore. But then I got over myself because their frozen hot chocolate is the best in the world, regardless of straw color.

If Joe and I were at a point in our lives where we were single, we would each take out a five-dollar bill and write our name and number on the back (in red pen for accuracy). Then we’d give the bills to the waiter as part of his tip. Not that anyone ever called us. But that’s not the point. The point is that we put positive energy out there. We made a choice to create more possibility for finding true love. Anything is possible here in New York. This city makes magical things happen when you take action to work towards your goals.

Sara Thomas and Jonathan Trager, reunited

 

How can you celebrate Serendipity Day if you’re not here in New York? Well, if you are already with your soul mate you can make frozen hot chocolates and call it a day. But if you are still searching, send positive energy out into the Universe today. Take some time to write down your goals. Visualize what you want your love life to be like. Then make a plan to take steps every day towards finding your person. All of these actions will help you get closer to turning your big dream into reality.

Oh, and PS? Serendipity 3 is also home of the $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae, served in a Baccarat crystal goblet (which you get to take home), made with the world’s most expensive chocolate, and covered in 23-carat edible gold leaf. Just in case you weren’t sure what to order.

Golden Opulence Sundae at Serendipity

Happy Serendipity Day, friendly neighbors! Go make magic happen.

elephant life lessons

Greetings, friendly neighbors! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. To enhance your holiday cheer (and as solace for those of you who struggle with SAD and/or the holidays in general like I usually do), I wanted to offer you some inspiration and joy from the remarkable elephants at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN.

The sanctuary is home to 14 magnificent female elephants who are now living happy and free after decades of captivity as circus or zoo entertainers. These elephants deserve all of the goodness we can give them, especially after the horrible conditions they have had to endure. There are many valuable lessons to be learned from The Girls, all good reminders for this emotional time of year.

So! I have compiled a list of Top Five Elephant Life Lessons for you.

1. Life is a gift.

Although I have much love for all elephants, Shirley is my favorite elephant in the whole world. Why? She has endured captivity as a circus elephant, a fire on a sinking ship, and 22 years in a tiny zoo, shuffling between only a plod of grass and a small cement holding pen. She had no other elephant friends. She wore chains. For 22 years.

But then she was rescued by the sanctuary’s friendly neighbors and brought to the sanctuary in 1999. At that time, she was reunited with Jenny, an elephant who performed in the same circus as Shirley about 25 years before. Shirley and Jenny totally remembered each other right away. Shirley showed Jenny her crooked hind right leg (broken when Shirley was attacked by another elephant in the circus), the missing part of her right ear (ripped off in the ship fire), and her various scars from the fire. Jenny patted Shirley’s injuries all over with her trunk. They were bonded for life, a love that transcended space and time, and Shirley carries Jenny in her heart to this day.

Shirley and Jenny, reunited after 22 years

I write people love stories, but my favorite animal love story is Shirley + Jenny, reunited after 22 years. You can watch Shirley’s arrival at the sanctuary and their amazing reunion here. WARNING: There is no way you can watch this without crying. Be prepared.

Shirley is a survivor, and a role model for all elephants and humans. She knows that life is a gift to be appreciated every single day. At 67 years young, she is super active and gets around like the rock star she is. Go Shirley!

2. Enjoy the Now.

Elephants are a lot like people. They have distinct personalities and mannerisms. They have favorite things just like we do. Misty loves napping. Tarra likes watermelon and socializing. Sissy takes her tire around with her like a security blanket. Tange loves mudding. And my girl Shirley enjoys simple pleasures like basking in the sun or going for a swim. She likes to walk over small pine trees for a belly rub and scratch her ears with sticks.

Shirley likes belly rubs

These sweet Girls are gentle souls who understand that it’s all about the little things.

3. All you need is love.

Shirley and Tarra

This Trunk Hugs video of Shirley and Tarra says it all.


4. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

For her 65th birthday, Shirley received a delicious treat. A frozen fruit popsicle all for Shirley! While Shirley was enjoying her birthday treat, Tarra came over to investigate. Shirley is well aware of Tarra’s snack stealing tactics. But out of respect for Shirley’s special day, Tarra did not try to snatch a bite of the fruit. Instead she swirled her trunk in the air, then put her trunk in her mouth to taste the fruit essence. Way to be a friendly neighbor, Tarra!

5. Practice daily gratitude.

These sweet Girls are now very happy elephants. They have been given the gift of ele-heaven, spending each day in true sanctuary style doing whatever they choose. Elephants never forget. The Girls remember their life before sanctuary, the scary situations and lonely years they suffered, the losses of their fellow elephant friends they have mourned. I think that makes them even more grateful for the wonderful safe haven they now have in their forever home.

I watch the Girls on The Elephant Sanctuary’s EleCams. A lot. They looked especially happy today, grazing, dusting, napping, sunning, and socializing. When Shirley is extra happy, she does not hold back. Like the time she was in such a great mood she trumpeted right into Tarra’s mouth!

Shirley and Tarra, BFFs

You can watch this video and lots of others on The Elephant Sanctuary’s YouTube.

Eternal thanks to co-founders Carol Buckley and Scott Blais, and everyone at The Elephant Sanctuary for giving these gentle souls such loving care, a beautiful environment, and a forever home. Here’s to many more years of happy elephant bliss <3

back to the future day

So here it is. October 21, 2015. The day Marty and Doc time traveled to in Back to the Future II.

There have been no reports of a mysterious Delorean appearance today. Which doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Time travelers are slick that way.

Yeah, we’re still using fossil fuels in cars instead of garbage. And bullying still happens for some stupid reason (actually, lots of stupid reasons). 2015 wasn’t so bright we had to wear shades back in the 80s. But I am relieved that we’re not wearing those weird oversized sweaters with geometric shapes anymore.

Oh, and I’ve made a discovery. As you can see from this photo I took of John Mayer in 2010 compared to this pic of Marty McFly in 1985, JM is the new MM.

John Mayer at Madison Square Garden, 02.25.10

Marty McFly

Watch out for anyone in a red puffer vest. You just never know.

help wanted 3

Want relationship advice? Then yay, because a fresh Help Wanted is up!


Help Wanted is my Q&A advice series in which I answer your questions and try to provide answers that are remotely helpful. In this new video, I answer your relationship questions about letting go, moving on, and prioritizing the most important parts of your life.

And yes, I am dorktastic as usual.

You can totally post your questions for future Help Wanted in the video comments, or email them to me at susanecolasanti at gmail.

Shine on, rock stars <3