Keep My Heart in... California

I’m equally appalled and embarrassed that my last blog post was in December of 2018. Almost ten months ago. (Yikes!) But so much has happened this year, that it’s understandable. Hopefully.

Want to know what I was up to in 2019? Well, let’s dive in:

  • I spent the first half of the year heavily revising my debut. I had three “big picture” or “creative” edit passes, as well as line edits and copy edits. The book was turned in and accepted in early June! But wait! The book isn’t done being revised just yet. I’m still waiting on my pass pages, which will be—more or less—the last chance I have to edit the book.

  • I turned twenty-eight.

  • I did something REALLY HARD and weaned myself off of klonopin, an extremely heavy and addictive benzodiazepine that I’d been on for a decade, and sleeping medication, which I’ve been on since I was fourteen years old.

  • I saw my cover for the first time! It’s BEAUTIFUL! (More on this below.)

  • We finally settled on a new title! (Again, more below.)

  • I drafted another YA contemporary during CampNaNo.

  • And… I decided to move. By the end of August, my life was packed into boxes, and my partner and I (plus the cat!) got into our car, drove 800+ miles, and moved into our new apartment in Seattle, WA.

So. I love California. I never thought I’d move, but I’d humored the idea in an abstract, almost afraid way. And the only two places I’d ever consider moving to were Oregon or Washington. (What can I say, I’m too West Coast for my own good.) As life began to feel settled with my writing and career, I began looking at the other areas in my life that felt less than. And while I love my hometown, I had this feeling that I was stuck. That I’d reach my limit, how far I could grow, where I was currently living. I’m from a fairly small community that’s an odd blend of suburban and rural. The rural, I love (give me all the cows and vineyards, please) but the suburban? Not so much. As a young person without kids, I felt like a rare and dying breed in my hometown. What little friends I had either moved away or stayed and got married, already on kid number two. To stay, post-college, and not start a family, was fairly unheard of. I felt increasingly alienated. And when the last few of our friends moved late last year… well, I started thinking. What’s keeping me here?

My partner was already wanting to leave his job and change career tracks. The options were limited and it was looking like we were going to have to move, in some capacity. And so I decided to go all in and move to the one place I’d always loved from afar: Seattle. When I was considering schools to transfer to during my undergrad (I did my GE at a local junior college) I seriously considered University of Washington. My sister moved to Seattle after she graduated college and I’d been to visit her many times over the years. I loved the rain and green lushness that the PNW boasted. Ultimately, I didn’t feel ready to move so far from home, and I ended up going to UC Davis, which was only an hour drive from my hometown. I’ve often regretted this decision, the safe move, that I made when I was nineteen.

Last year, my partner and I visited Seattle for some friends’ book event, and, even though I had a blast, I returned home in the funkiest of moods. Because I realized how badly I wanted to move. But I didn’t feel ready and my home situation was somewhat complicated. I didn’t feel like I could leave, even if I wanted to. I later realized that wasn’t really true—it was my anxiety talking. I was so deeply afraid to leave everything behind, so I discounted moving as a viable option, and carried on. Tucked that desire away, until it popped back up a year later. A time when I felt steady and competent enough to humor it as an option.

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Even though I’m writing this in my new apartment in Seattle, it still doesn’t quite feel real. I’ve lived here for a month now, and yes, I am so terribly homesick at times. As Michael Scott once said regarding what he’d miss when he left Scranton and the office: “The mountains. Where things are.” And I do miss the mountains and knowing where things are! Until a month ago, I’d never lived more than maybe eighty miles from the place I was born and my parents. Now I live over eight hundred miles away. I know most of you are rolling your eyes. Moving far away from home is (I think?) more normal than not. And most do it at a much, much younger age. Due to severe anxiety and a mood disorder, I’ve never—in my entire life—felt stable or confident enough to strike out on my own. Until now. And while the move has brought on literally every single anxiety trigger for me, I’m doing okay. Not great, no, but okay, and getting better every day. I’m excited to live in a city where I have a writing community. I’m excited to live near my sister and her wife. I’m excited to have an apartment with a fireplace, which is like a unicorn in California. I’m excited to push myself and try something new.

And now, onto some less rambling, diary-like updates.

My debut novel has a new title: KEEP MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO! I truly love this title and think it encapsulates the book perfectly. The cover is so gorgeous (I love it, and soon, you’ll find out just how obsessed I am…) but because publishing is secretive and weird, I can’t share it yet! But I will be able to, very soon. My cover reveal will go live on Riveted (@simonteen on both Twitter and Instagram, and online) during the week of October 14th! That’s right, friends—a little over two weeks to go until you can feast your eyes on its beauty. When the cover goes live, so will my pre-order links and release date. I’ll yell about this later and often, but pre-orders are REALLY important to authors and, if you’re thinking of buying, please pre-order, if you can. I’ll be setting up a pre-order campaign with fun swag, so if you do pre-order, save those receipts! Here’s the official copy for KMHISF:

Caroline “Chuck” Wilson has big plans for spring break—hit up estate sales to score vintage fashion finds and tour a fashion school she dreams of attending. But her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend va (3).png

And, after some false starts, I drafted another YA contemporary, titled, EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE. Inspired by my struggle with OCD, it’s about a girl in tentative OCD recovery who defies her overbearing parents when she roadtrips with her best friend and love interest to meet her podcast heroines. While I’ve struggled with my writing and self-confidence this year, I’ve fallen deeply in love with this book, and I really hope one day readers will get to know Florie, Sam, and Kacey. But for now, here's an aesthetic:

EWYNTB Novel Aesthetic!

EWYNTB Novel Aesthetic!

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Other than, you know, book edits, writing more books, and moving eight hundred miles, I haven’t been up to much else lately. I’m due to receive my edit letter for THE HONEY VEIN next week, and I’m eager to dive back into that world and those characters. Fall is my absolute favorite season (it’s spooky! the leaves turn! I can watch Over the Garden Wall on repeat for three months! HALLOWEEEEEEN!) and I’m very much enjoying Seattle’s rainy weather right now, while I warm my feet by the fireplace.

Until next time—and hopefully that won’t be in late 2020.

Quote of the Day:

When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.
— Bette Davis

Music Video of the Day:

Amelia Coombs