top five, signs and signals edition

Here in New York, the first day of school was yesterday. Which, I mean, what? We’re actually into September already? Really? WHAT IS HAPPENING. But yes, these are the last days of summer to cherish, and yes, it is still summer. It is still summer until September 22 when it will officially become fall and don’t let anyone tell you any different. So keep working your graphic tanks and snapping those flip-flops with purpose as you walk down the street enjoying the summer breeze. Speaking of graphics…

1. You know you are dorktastic to the max when your idea of a fun night out is rocking your matching Mister Rogers and Bob Ross tees.

Mister Rogers + Bob Ross tees

We found these tees earlier in the summer and I freaked. out. My plan was to wear them to some upscale restaurant like the total dorks we are. So we went on a Citi Bike ride down the East River, chilled at Ost Cafe on the Lower East Side, rode to South Street Seaport and had dinner at Barbalu, a restaurant we discovered on a Citi Bike ride last summer that is so fantastic it will appear in Forever in Love, the final book of my City Love trilogy. But of course it was Labor Day weekend and no one was even around to notice the ironic fabulousness of our tees. What can I say? We were on fire.

2. In other Forever in Love news, I recently finished reviewing the copyedits. Which I was sort of avoiding because after copyedits there is only one step left in the publication process: looking over the first draft, a hard copy of the book’s layout. It has been really hard to say goodbye to my girls. After three books and so much more to write about, this is a difficult transition. Fortunately I am super excited about the new book I am working on!

Are you into audio books? You can listen to an audio excerpt of Lost in Love here.

3. Here’s a throwback to 9.09.09.

Susane Colasanti at Katikies in Santorini

What was I doing seven years ago today? Oh, I don’t know. Just chilling in this world famous infinity pool at Katikies in Santorini! Santorini is the most beautiful place in the world. The resort I stayed at was positioned on a steep slope on the rim of the caldera. So in this photo you are looking at me blissfully floating at the top of a volcano. How incredible is that?

4. Shout-out to my girl Andrea on Twitter for designing this:

John Mayer in Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti

If you’ve read any of my books, you might have noticed that I love including music. It makes me so happy when readers tell me they are into The Cure or R.E.M. or Paul Simon or Fleetwood Mac because they were inspired by my books. But I don’t just include old-school sound. John Mayer is a big part of Waiting for You, a story of a girl dealing with anxiety and depression, and that makes this graphic especially sweet.

5. I don’t know how long it will take for me to not burst into tears when I hear “Empire State of Mind” around September 11, but apparently it’s longer than 15 years. This Sunday, September 11 will mark the 15th anniversary of the Twin Towers attacks. I cannot believe that was 15 years ago. I remember lots of details about that day, both big and small, mostly because I have relived September 11, 2001 so many times: how perfectly blue the sky was, what I was wearing, that excitement I always felt as a teacher at the beginning of a new school year. And of course the fact that, out of all the possible days I could have gone, I had plans that day to go to the Twin Towers with my friend Stephen. We were going to meet up after school and go to the observation deck. But we didn’t because the Twin Towers were…gone. You can read archives of my past September 11 posts linked from here.

Our plan for that day was a sign. Every day since for the past 15 years, I have been grateful to simply be alive.

This September 11 I will be broadcasting my walk down to Ground Zero on Periscope. You can find me there @SusaneColasanti if you want to see the Tribute in Light. Every year when I see the Tribute in Light, I see it as a signal reminding me to be grateful for everything I have. And every day when I see One World Trade, now standing proud and tall near the footprints of where the Twin Towers once stood, I see it as a sign of better things to come.

Anything is possible. This is New York.

One World Trade

We will never forget. ❤

read up

Book festivals make me so happy. Mostly because I get to meet readers in person, which is the best part of my job. Some readers even drive long distances to be there. Like five or six hours each way! It is always an honor to meet you in person at book events, whether you travel from far or near. Thanks to everyone who came to Read Up, a shiny new festival in Greenville, SC that had such amazing energy.

Here is an example of how amazing the energy was.

Susane Colasanti and Jay Asher, Read Up 2016

See, this is another reason I love book festivals. Jay Asher and I had not yet met in person, even though our first books came out close to each other about 10 years ago. When It Happens came out in 2006 and 13 Reasons Why came out in 2007. We even had the same publisher. But for some reason, we just never met at any events over the years. I always felt like Jay was a mentor from afar, an author I looked up to and admired. Now I understand that we were destined to meet at Read Up. Because when I asked him for an ARC of What Light, he had already saved one for me! And when he gave it to me he swooped me up for this fabulous photo! I mean, how awesome is he? Obvs this was the author highlight…followed closely by discovering that Stephanie Perkins and I both ate lunch in the bathroom in high school during our panel discussion. More proof that you are never alone.

Our panel was a blast. Michael Giller, our moderator and local high school hardcore librarian, was a master moderator. He even tweeted a pic before the event with our books and Office paraphernalia because he knew all about my Office love. And then he gave me Dwight’s ID badge and we all got to pick out magnets at the panel! I really enjoyed the southern hospitality of South Carolina, but Michael wins the Most Gracious Host award.

Susane Colasanti and Michael Giller, Read Up 2016

Speaking of awards, M.Judson deserves lots of bookstore acclaim. Like we should just throw awards at them. M.Judson is one of the most spectacular bookstores I have ever seen in my entire life…and I have seen a lot of bookstores! First of all, their entryway is designed from stacked books. So right when you walk in you know you are entering the kind of place you will never want to leave.

M.Judson bookstore in Greenville, SC

There is such an abundance of positive energy at M.Judson it feels like you can bottle some up and take it home until the next time you are in Greenville, SC. Seriously, if you are anywhere near that super cute town, go to M.Judson immediately! You will love the adorable seating areas, the beautiful design elements, the blackboard paint on the walls of the children’s reading room, and tons of natural light making you feel uplifted and refreshed. My only regret is that I did not try one of everything in their cafe, which looked like the kind of place you’d want to be a regular at. Snaps for the magnificent M.Judson!

It was time to leave too soon. I really wanted to explore more of Greenville, which has a total indie vibe and was the perfect place for a book festival. Three seconds after I got there I discovered their dopest coffeehouse, Coffee Underground, and was in mocha mint frap heaven in no time. Too bad I couldn’t snag one more for the plane home. Not that I could take it through security, but the airport had a sweet frap-sipping lounge area that Nova Ren Suma and I immediately commandeered. The airport was so small there was pretty much only room for the two of us…plus our buddy in the background.

Susane Colasanti and Nova Ren Suma, Read Up 2016

Shout-out to festival founder Lee Yarborough for working so hard over the past 18 months to bring Read Up to life! Lee is a fellow organization enthusiast. Which is why the day ran so smoothly you would think Read Up was in its tenth year instead of first. She thought of every detail, including longer handles on our totes because short handles are annoying. I know, right? Lee even had her husband Hubert and daughter Caroline working the festival, too. Hubert was the perfect escort schlepping us from the airport because he is the friendliest neighbor ever! And Caroline managed her group of volunteers like a pro. You could feel Lee’s passion for this event in every part of the day, which made it feel so welcoming and alive. You should def plan on being at Read Up 2017 if you are in the area!

Happy summer reading 🙂

donut throwdown

This amazing thing happened at YALLWEST. I mean, tons of amazing things happened at YALLWEST. That’s how the YALLs roll. But this amazing thing involves donuts.

When I got to my hotel in Santa Monica, I immediately bonded with the guy who checked me in. You know how sometimes you meet someone and you just click? That was me and Josh. A bunch of authors were staying at this hotel, so we were talking about the festival and Josh asked me what kinds of books I write. His eyes lit up when I told him that I write contemporary, realistic love stories. He said he loves those kinds of books. When he said he loves romance trilogies in particular, of course I gave him an extra ARC of Lost in Love I’d brought with me. He was stoked.

“I feel like I’m always lost in love,” Josh said.

Then I asked him about vegetarian restaurants nearby. We were talking about good places in Venice for green juice when I mentioned that my birthday was coming up that Sunday. I had already researched potential cake places and found a nearby donut place that looked good called DK’s Donuts.

“Shut the front door,” Josh said.

Josh called out two guys from the back who work with him. He explained that every Monday is Doughnut Monday, where they order late night donuts and kick back to get their sugar rush on. The three of them and one other girl even have an official Doughnut Club. For reals. And this guy Josh works with, Rigo, is all about the DK’s. He was mad gassed that some girl from New York City shows up in Santa Monica and even she knows DK’s.

“It was obviously the superior choice,” I said.

Or was it? Because Josh is a Donut King lova and thinks those are the best. You could tell this was a hot debate in their Doughnut Club. Rigo was taunting Josh how DK’s was getting bicoastal attention. But Josh stood by his Donut King loyalty. So Josh and Rigo made an executive decision to order donuts from both places and have me do a taste test in the lobby on my birthday after the festival events were over.

The DK’s Donuts vs. Donut King Throwdown was on.

When I showed up for the donut throwdown, I was super impressed.

Donut King and DK's Donuts, Santa Monica

Rigo had arranged donuts from both places so I couldn’t tell which came from where. I was psyched to see that some of my classic faves – rainbow sprinkle, twist, coconut – were represented. So it was Josh, Rigo, two other Doughnut Club members and their manager, all gathered with me to celebrate donut excellence.

We cut pieces for everyone. Rigo and Josh watched my face carefully as the donuts were sampled one by one. I didn’t want to know which donuts were winning, so I tried not to look at their reactions because these guys were not even trying for poker faces. This was a hardcore throwdown of epic proportions and every bite was crucial.

I gave my feedback after each sampling. The rainbow sprinkles one was adorable, but a bit on the dry side. The twist was fluffy and delicious. The bomb maple log was a fan favorite. And so on…until only two remained.

Glazed vs. Glazed

Oh yeah. It was down to Glazed vs. Glazed for the win.

The winner? Donut King! Josh was ecstatic. Ringo was all “In your FACE” when I showed up raving about DK’s and now he had to deal with his beloved bakery being bested.

As if I already wasn’t hoping to be at YALLWEST again next year, the prospect of Donut Throwdown 2 makes everything even sweeter. We have agreed to take it up a notch with more complex flavors next time. I can’t wait.

Donut Throwdown party people

Oh, and PS? I just want to say how much I freaking love people. These friendly neighbors got together to include me in a special birthday treat over our mutual love of donuts. How incredible are they? Just one more amazing thing to add to the list…

top five, book release week edition

Lost in Love release week rolls on! Even after ten books, my excitement is ablaze and shines even brighter when I start seeing your feedback. Thanks for all of your kind words and support of Lost in Love this week, friendly neighbors!

1. When I took its jacket off to admire the printed case of Lost in Love, I had no idea it would be this striking. How gorgeous is this cover?!

Lost in Love by Susane Colasanti

Irresistible, right? So…have you ordered your shiny new copy yet? If you are interested in the City Love trilogy, please take a moment to order Lost in Love today from your bookseller of choice. Here are some handy links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound for you.

And! This is also release week for City Love in paperback. Which makes this a perfect time to get into the trilogy! Find yours at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or at your bookseller of choice. Page by Paige posted a roundup of all things City Love trilogy for your literary information.

2. Shout-out to Anna Piro, who woke up at 2:30 in the morning of the Lost in Love release day to read it! She wins the Dedicated Reader Prize.

Lost in Love by Susane Colasanti release day!

And thanks to Marjolein Reads for her five-star review: “Lost in Love is just an amazing and thrilling sequel to City Love. The first book was already fabulous, but this second book just tops it!” Much love, ladies.

3. I’m honored to be the newest member of the HarperCollins Speakers Bureau! Meeting readers is the best part of my job because you are why I write. I’m really looking forward to doing more presentations of Your Dream Life at schools, conferences, and other events. If you are a teacher, librarian, or coordinator who is interested in having me visit, please see my profile page for detailed information. I am currently booking school visits for the 2016-17 year and am beyond stoked.

4. YALLWest was part of my book tour and I cannot even tell you how spectacular it was. We had over 20 thousand people attend! And it was in Santa Monica! With the palm trees!

YALLWest palm trees

I have a thing for palm trees.

Like many of you, I also have a thing for good books. So I was pretty stoked to finally meet Jennifer Niven! You guys. She is just the sweetest person ever. She is kind and thoughtful and all the colors in one, at full brightness. Here we are with John Corey Whaley (who was running into the pic at the last minute), A.R. Kahler, and David Levithan. If I were to rate the quality of these four authors together on a scale of 1 to 10, it would have to be a 32. There’s just no quantifying that degree of greatness on a regular scale.

YALLWest 2016 with John Corey Whaley, Susane Colasanti, A.R. Kahler, Jennifer Niven, and David Levithan

Needless to say, I am experiencing serious YALL withdrawal. Is it time for 2017 yet? Snaps for top organizers Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz for working their magic and dazzling us all with a magnificent festival no one who was there will ever forget.

5. Yesterday I went to HarperCollins to film a fun facts video that I think will turn out super cute! I am pretty sure I had mascara smeared on my face, but these things happen. To everyone. Even to people who brought a mirror with them to check their face before filming and then recklessly didn’t check. While I was there, I saw my rock star editor and publisher, Katherine Tegen. Of course we had to celebrate Lost in Love release week for a minute.

Katherine Tegen and Susane Colasanti

Hope your week was shining at full brightness too! If not, a shiny new week will be starting soon. Keep holding on. ❤

david letterman is why i’m here

It all started with a pencil.

Twelve was an extremely difficult age for me, but it was also an age when I figured a lot of stuff out. I knew I wanted to be a science teacher when I was 12. I knew my purpose in life as a grownup would be to help teens in any way I could. And I knew that I didn’t belong in Middle of Nowhere, New Jersey, in a small town at a school where I was bullied every day for being an outsider. My true home was out there somewhere. Not stuck in the middle of the woods, completely isolated and feeling so alone. I was determined to find the place where I truly belonged.

I stayed with my grandparents most summers of my teen life. The summer I was 12, I was staying up late watching The Tonight Show with Gram. Gram understood that I was a night person. After Johnny Carson said goodnight, a show called Late Night with David Letterman came on. I asked Gram who David Letterman was. She said, “He’s kind of like Johnny, but wackier.” Anyone who was wacky, zany, dorktastic, a hardcore nerd, or proud to be original in their own quirky way was a winner in my book. So I kept watching. Dave threw a pencil at the camera. He made weird faces. He threw a pencil at the window behind him with a sound effect of glass shattering.

David Letterman instantly became my hero.

I obsessed over Late Night that whole first summer, learning Dave’s tricks and idiosyncrasies. Connecting to things he said in a way that made it clear he was my people, and gave me hope that more of my people were out there. The energy of New York City was palpable. It was an energy that radiated from the screen, an energy that made me feel alive. New York City was clearly my destiny. It was my true home. It was the place where everything that made me different would make me shine. The New York City energy Dave showed me was a drug that kept me going all through high school as I carried hope in my heart that one day I would live there. I looked forward to the time when I could be free to be the best version of myself. As a reminder, I put a Late Night tee on my koala bear Chez, who is featured in When It Happens in the same tee. Chez is an attention hog who has photo bombed several book giveaway pics over the years:

Chez with Susane Colasanti books

I taped Dave’s show every night. The first thing I did when I got home from school was get my Late Night notebook, rewind the tape, and watch Dave show me more of what I had to look forward to. For the length of his show, I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore. I was in on the joke. I was one with Dave’s community. I wrote down the title of every Top Ten list, every description of “And now, a man who…”, and lines that made me laugh. One was, “I’ll give you 500 dollars if you let me take my teeth out.” I don’t know why that line resonated with me. Probably just because it was so weird. I wrote it on the top of an algebra quiz in 8th grade because my 8th grade algebra teacher seemed like the kind of dude who would watch Dave. Dave’s lines became like this secret language I could use with certain grownups to make me feel included in something. But my teacher didn’t get it. He gave the quiz to a guidance counselor who called me into her office and asked if I was okay.

Of course I wasn’t okay. I was miserable. But every day was one day closer to living in New York City. One day closer to when I could create a happy life for myself and start turning my big dreams into reality. And that made surviving worth it. When I say that David Letterman is why I’m here, I don’t just mean here in New York City. I mean here. Along with the books that saved me, he helped me survive the worst time of my life. He showed me a reason to keep holding on.

When I was fourteen, I sent a postcard in for Late Night tickets. They said it would take like a year to get your tickets. The first tickets I received were for April 24, 1989, one week before my 16th birthday:

Late Night and Late Show with David Letterman tickets

As you can see from these Late Night tickets (which are so vinatge that the NBC building wasn’t called 30 Rock, or even the GE Building, but the RCA Building) , anyone under the age of 16 would not be admitted. But there was no way I wasn’t getting in. Fortunately this was back in the day when ID wasn’t checked. They let me and my friend in and it was a completely overwhelming experience that made me even more determined to live in New York City.

I became obsessed with New York. The opener of Late Night started by zooming in across the water to the Twin Towers. The Twin Towers became a symbol of hope for me and the focus of every sketch, painting, clay impression, collage, and photographic paper etching I made in art class. I would go to the library at lunch and research New York, learn its buildings and streets, draw maps of the Village. Also in that Late Night opener was a part where the camera zooms through Old Town Bar. Of course I now live on the same street as Old Town Bar. Love that full-circle non-coincidence.

My inspiration for writing So Much Closer came straight from all of this. So Much Closer is the story of Brooke, a Jersey girl who dreams of living in New York City and finally has a chance to move there. This is why I acknowledged Dave in So Much Closer. Brooke wears the same Late Night tee Chez does and nails a Letterman question at trivia night. My publicist sent Dave’s personal assistant a copy of the book. She also included a letter from me in which I thanked Dave for changing my life and making the world a better, smarter, kinder place. See that Late Show ticket from May 4, 2015? Dave’s assistant remembered me from So Much Closer and was super generous in giving me tickets for his final month of shows. I was nervous about picking which day I wanted because it was impossible to know who would be on. But it turns out that I picked the best possible date. Because who was Dave’s guest on May 4?

President Barack Obama and David Letterman, May 4, 2015

Oh, you know. Just President Barack Obama. The Universe was totally on my side.

One of the things I respected most about Dave is his passion for improving public understanding of science, particularly with respect to global warming and environmental preservation. Dave had on physicists, environmentalists, and climatologists in an effort to help his viewers understand the detrimental effects we are having on our planet and how we can all be a part of the solution. Dave even had on my old boss from NASA, Dr. James Hansen, who was rocking the same Birkenstocks he always wore to work. But that’s what was cool about Dave’s show. It wasn’t about glitzy appearances and superficial interviews. It was about the heart and soul of us. It was about the truth, and innovation, and making a difference. David Letterman made this world a better place. And I know he will continue to do so, whichever path he chooses to take next.

This is how a guy as weird as I was showed me where I belonged. By dropping watermelon off the roof, crushing car doors in a 90-ton hydraulic press, with “I be hypnotized” and asking what else Just Bulbs has and rocking those Adidas with blue on the back and whipping all of those pencils at the camera. David Letterman showed me that it is okay to be exactly who you are. More than okay, actually. He showed me that by being exactly who you are, you can inspire more people than you’d ever dreamed and help others in ways you can’t even imagine.

Thirty years ago I was a 12-year-old outsider searching for my true home. David Letterman showed me that New York City was my destiny. Thanks for showing this lost girl where she belonged, Dave. Thanks for helping me survive the worst time of my life. And thanks for showing all the outsiders that they are not alone ❤

my new bff

Meet Agulhas.

Agulhas, Jenkinsons Aquarium penguin

Agulhas is my new BFF. He is a penguin at the Point Pleasant aquarium. Penguins are my favorite and I am always most excited to see them. But I had no idea Agulhas would be there this time.

You know that intense happy feeling you get when you click with someone right away? That’s how it was with us. Agulhas was standing right near the glass like he was waiting for me. He kept looking at me the whole time. When he winked at me, I winked back. And then he winked some more.

Agulhas is my people.

That might sound like a strange thing to say about a penguin. But animals in general are my people. As my old friend Andras Forgacs said in his phenomenal TED Talk about creating animal products without the animals, slaughtering animals for decoration and sustenance is crazy. We can grow leather and meat without harming animals. We can live and let live on a global scale while feeding lots more hungry people and protecting the environment.

But back to Agulhas. Isn’t he so cute? He was named after the Agulhas Current. He has a very sweet disposition. You could tell he was really sad when we left. I started missing him right away.

If I were joining Emojli, this entire blog post would have been represented as something like: penguin heart shoe wave. Yeah…kind of liking the old-school blog better.

fabulous at 40

Birthday Week is a thing, right? I’ve been going with yes. My birthday is May 1, which is tomorrow. Which means my time as Fabulous at 40 will be coming to an end.

On my final day of Fabulous at 40, I’d like to share some philosophy that has inspired me. Straight up: It is outrageous that I am 40. My internal age is 16. My internal age will always be 16. Not in a creepy vampire way (although I would love to sparkle). In a way where I have a Knowing that I will be forever young. And in a way where I get super excited about funfetti cake.

Susane Colasanti's Fabulous at 40 birthday cake

This was my Fabulous at 40 birthday cake. I had been visualizing this cake for a long time. Everything from the hot pink script Fabulous to the vanilla buttercream frosting the the old-school sprinkles. And of course the cake had to be funfetti. I pictured this cake with such crystal clarity in my mind for months before the party it was like the cake already existed.

The party venue recommended a bakery. When I called that bakery to order the cake, there were some glitches with my vision. They couldn’t do hot pink icing. They didn’t have old-school sprinkles. And funfetti was not an option. Despite these inconsistencies, I ordered the alternate cake anyway. It was a good bakery. I felt bad not ordering the cake after the person helping me had been on the phone for so long. The cake would be delicious. It just wouldn’t be my vision. I told myself that was good enough.

Then I realized it wasn’t. Why should I settle for less than my heart’s desire? My heart’s desire was the cake I had been visualizing. There was no reason I couldn’t manifest that vision. So I called the bakery back and canceled the order. Later that day, my cake vision was manifested with Sugar Sweet Sunshine. I was so happy I kept searching for exactly what I was looking for. That’s the thing about creative visualization. You don’t have to settle for less than your heart’s desires. When you can imagine what you want to manifest in your life so clearly that it already feels real, when you carry that vision in your heart every single day and never let it go, you are on your way to turning your dreams into reality.

Like when I had a vision of my grownup self back when I was a teen. My biggest dream back then was to eventually be living a happy life. I wished that I would be healthy. I wished that I would be loving my career, living in my dream city, and sharing my life with the man of my dreams. Oh, and that I would be rocking a bikini when I’m 40.

Susane Colasanti, Fabulous at 40

Fabulous at 40 means being confident enough to chill infinity pool side with a fruity drink in South Beach. It means doing everything you can to make the world a better place. It means taking care of yourself so you can better take care of others. It means refusing to settle for less than your heart’s desires. Fabulous at 40 means visualizing your biggest dreams, then taking steps every day to turn those dreams into reality. These are things you can do at any age. These are things you can do starting right now.

So what’s your Fabulous at 40 cake? What vision do you want to manifest?

Imagine the type of sprinkles you want. The flavor of the frosting. What your icing will say. Who you will share it with.

Then make your vision reality.