and then there were four!

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I’ve been sitting on this news for a while so it feels so NICE to be able to send it out into the universe: I’ve signed another 2-book deal with HarperTeen! My second book, The Lost & Found, comes out on July 5, and it will be followed by books 3 and 4 in 2017 and 2018. That’s a lot of words. Luckily, I have a lot lot LOT of words to share with you.

(watercolor graphic care of: 200Lemons)

manoa falls.


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I never feel so — I dunno: right with the world, at peace, in my element, etc, pick whatever cliched turn of phrase you like — as when I’m in the middle of a forest. This has everything to do with growing up in homes where you couldn’t see the road from the front lawn, where the next door neighbor’s house was hidden by acres of protected wetlands, where for fun your mother would hand you a pair of waterproof boots and shove you out the back door. Where sometimes you had friends but more often than not you were by yourself (whether because you were actually by yourself or because you just felt by yourself, which, essentially, add up to the same thing).

I remember ice skating on shallow ponds in the woods that made up our backyard, giving names to all my favorite trees and erecting a very solemn shrine for a lost pet. Carving symbols and initials into bark. Coming home covered in burrs.

Things are a little different now. I’ve lived in a small collection of cities over the last ten years. Boston, New York, Edinburgh, Los Angeles. There are forests to be found but they no longer surround me. When I get to one, it’s more purposeful, maybe. I have to work a little harder for it — harder, at least, than walking out my back door.

So here are some photos (the last of the year!) of a forest in Oahu. A short little hike through rainforest and bamboo forest to a waterfall in the middle of nowhere. Lots of ants and mongoose and colorful birds but no large predators (I googled). I’ve always been taught, by various therapists or teachers or people far more emotionally stable than I, to replace images of stress or negativity with images of calm and peace. Real images — things you’ve seen or places you’ve been where you’ve felt totally, completely at ease.

I always imagine greenery. Forests and trees and green as far as the eye can see.

Farewell, 2015.  You were a lot of things I didn’t expect and a lot of things I did. Let’s see what comes next.

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photographs taken at Manoa Falls in Oahu, Hawaii.

december first.

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When I tried to think of a title for this post, the first thing that popped into my head was December First- which is when I’m actually sitting down to put it together. Of course, it won’t publish until tomorrow, but the sentiment remains the same. The “wherethefuckhastheyeargone” sentiment that keeps creeping up behind me and scaring me half to death. 2015 has come and gone (almost) and in its wake it’s left so many good things. (REALLY GOOD THINGS- SOME THAT I CAN’T EVEN TELL YOU ABOUT YET BUT THAT ARE SO BIG AND GOOD AND GOOD AND BIG.)

S and I drove up to San Francisco the other weekend- a miserable drive made worse by accidents (not ours) and construction and general traffic woes. But we ate a lot of pizza and we saw my niece (who calls me something that sounds like “Ana”) and we saw our good friends’ new baby and we met other friends for drinks and we drank wine on my brother’s deck and then we came home, back to LA, me searching Zillow to look up prices on all the houses we passed on the backroads from the 405 to Santa Monica.

Now: a short hop, skip, and jump away from the end of the year, from our trip to Hawaii (!!), from my birthday, from the aforementioned exciting announcement with which I’ll start off 2016 (feel the suspense building?).

I’ll check in again soon. Until then- let’s hope December moves slowly.

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everything is fine.

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Two and a half years ago I went to Point Dume. I took this picture, not knowing of course that all this time later it would serve as the cover for our first album. All I’ve ever wanted to do was write. Books, music: it all comes from the same place. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Stream/purchase at the following locations:

Amazon
Bandcamp
Spotify
Rdio
iTunes

eight months to go.

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The funniest, most inconsistent friend I have is time: you never know when it’s going to speed up or slow down or pause all together or erupt into a million pieces, leaving you to try and figure out which goes where. Lately it’s been slow and easy: the mornings stretching long and quiet, the sunlight taking its time to fully reach our living room, the cooler air of autumn (finally!) slicing in through the screen door.

I’ve updated the balcony-garden, planting herbs and sweeping the floor and putting down cheap outdoor carpet. I’m writing more by hand, using NaNoWriMo as a time not to start another novel (not quite there, yet) but as a structured excuse to freewrite and practice my cursive. My parents came to visit and in a month my best friend will come to visit and in a month and a half S and I will fly to Hawaii. I can’t believe it’s already November. We were Mulder and Scully for Halloween and my hand still wants to write October every time I sit down and open my journal.

Eight months now till the release of The Lost & Found. I’ve never felt the importance of a stretch of time so fully, I’ve never spent so many hours plotting every single possible outcome of every decision I make, of every word I type. It’s good, in a way. Not so good, in another way. I think I need to practice just letting it happen as it will.

In the meantime, I make a lot of granola. I run for the longest stretches I’ve ever managed before. I buy new fountain pens and take photographs of clouds. You were a good one, October. Till we meet again.

 

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cover reveal/ the lost & found.

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HERE IT IS! The cover for my second book, The Lost & Found.

This one, guys. THIS ONE. My body is practically bursting with impatience to share this book and this story with the world. I basically tore open my chest and let my guts pour onto the page with this book (a gross visual, maybe, but fairly accurate).

It has the things I love the most. The West Coast. The East Coast. Road trips. Desert heat. Fountain pens. Tater tots. Diner food. Complaining about exercise. X-Files. Banana nut bread. Family. And everything in between.

July 5, 2016. You can preorder it on Amazon now (and in other places, soon).

I hope hope hope you love this cover (and this book!) as much as I loved writing it.

mosaics.

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Yesterday I stood in front of my car for five full minutes, blinking blinking blinking, hoping one of those blinks would erase what I was seeing: the entirety of my windshield one splintered, broken mess. I was out of breath and dripping sweat from a run that, moments before, I had been proud of. I wasn’t proud anymore. I was only instantaneously, irrevocably crushed. If you’ll allow for a painful metaphor: my entire body felt as cracked as that fucking windshield. My spirit, my heart, my skin, my organs. Everything started shattering outward until I fell into bits on the asphalt.

Or that is what would have happened if the universe was kind. But the universe isn’t kind, it just is, and so I went inside and started calling auto repair shops and then went out and bought myself a new pair of boots. Expensive, brown, and justified by the little equation I worked out in my head (cost of new windshield = price of windshield + price of urethane kit + labor + tax + these fucking boots).

A few weeks ago Jaimee and I went to visit the Mosaic Tile House, an unreal dream abode in Venice, California. We were welcomed warmly by wife and husband team Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran. Gonzalo brought us out back to the studio, a huge, open white room that stretched onward an unfathomable distance. Some TARDIS-level use of space I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around. Every inch of counter space in that studio was piled with broken glass and tile, materials that Cheri will eventually use to continue her dream project of turning their house into one big art space.

She has me break them, Gonzalo explained before taking each of our phones and snapping photographs of us caught in the smashed mirrors that made up the outside wall.

Yesterday, standing in front of my car, I couldn’t help but remember the mosaics.

Yeah, fine, there’s beauty in everything. The way shattered glass catches and reflects the sunlight in a way that unshattered glass cannot. Yeah, fine. Yeah, fine.

I still wanted to break open and splinter and fall apart. I still wanted to blink everything away.

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photographs taken at the Mosaic Tile House in Venice, California. 

ten months to go.

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The final pass of my second book arrived in the mail yesterday, in a crinkled and oversized manilla envelope that I swung back and forth on the way to my car. It’s been stiflingly hot in Santa Monica, in the high eighties every day, and I’ve gotten accustomed to not doing my hair, to sweating in weird places, to taking two quick showers a day.

The lead up to this book is, in every single way, different than that of my first. We’re still ten months out, still a long long ways away, but I feel a pressure on this book that I didn’t feel on Half Life. You have to live up to expectations! I would tell this almost-totally-done manuscript, if I could mash it into human form and bring it out to dinner. You have to exceed! You have to excel! You have to be really fucking good, OK?

Different in other ways: I remember writing my first book. I remember ten hours of work in a row, breaking for coffee and food, Milo sleeping on the back of my grey armchair. I remember the thrill of literary agents answering my emails, I remember the phone call in a Michaels in Valencia from the fierce lady who would eventually be so important to me. I remember the kitchen floor where I sank to my knees thinking damn, this moment is just like a movie, when she told me that they wanted it and that they wanted another one, too, OK, can you do that?

It took me a while to write The Lost & Found. It took moving across the country and quitting a terrible job. It took car accidents and fainting spells and hospital visits and heatwaves and true love and true heartbreak and everything in between. But when I look back on the actual writing of it, the actual pen-to-paper job of getting each word down, I draw a huge and total blank.

When did I write this book?

OK, summer of 2014. A three month period of almost solitary confinement. A shitty moment in time marked by this huge thing emerging from the tail end of it. A book! I wrote a book! But the thing is… I can’t really remember doing it.

I have one image only: of me sitting in my bed in the early morning (or maybe afternoon? Or maybe night?) with my laptop and a cup of coffee (or water? Or wine?). And writing.

Because of that lapse in memory, maybe, the creation of The Lost & Found can’t help but feel a little mysterious. And that’s fitting, I think, because the book itself is a little mysterious. There’s a teensy bit of magic. There’s a too-big coincidence. There are things that don’t quite fit.

Ten months to go, sheesh, but I think, when it’s time, you’re really gonna like this one.

lost roll.

The happiest accident in the world is misplacing a roll of film and finding it two and a half years later. A first trip to London. A first trip to Joshua Tree. A first trip to Ojai. A world in black and white and light leaks. A roll devoid of another human, so it looks a little bit like I left one side of the earth for another side of the earth and managed to do so without running into a single soul.

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photographs taken in London, Ojai, and Joshua Tree National Park

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