first draft

Announcing A Book: The New American Road Trip Mixtape

About 2 ½ years ago after a breakup, I moved out of my apartment in Denver and into my car, thinking I would go back after five weeks. The week after Labor Day, I ended up in Pinedale, Wyoming, with two options: I could drive back to Denver, look for a new apartment and start over, or I could try to live on the road for a while.

I took a conference call for my job while sitting in the front seat of my car across the street from Pearl Street Bagels in Jackson, my ninth day without a shower, and I realized the other people on the call had no idea I wasn’t working from “home,” or that I didn’t have a home. And maybe I could get away with it. So I started living on the road, sleeping in my car and in friends’ guest bedrooms all around the West.

Over the course of several months and several thousand miles, I spent time with close friends, and friends who became closer friends, and I saw all these different people making all these different lives: Friends who became step-parents through marriage, friends who had decided to not have kids, friends who were in their first exhausting months of parenthood, others who had adult children, and nobody’s version of happiness or home was the same as anyone else’s.

I started writing, sometimes frantically scribbling down barely-legible notes on scraps of paper on my dashboard as I drove down the highway. I thought it was becoming a story, the first draft written on napkins, backs of receipts, the notepad in my iPhone. I typed at campsites in the desert and next to the ocean, in coffee shops, and laundromats.

At the end of a few months, I put together a draft, and worked on it. I shopped it around a little bit, aware that I had probably just written a road trip book, the kind publishers get in their inbox five times a day. They rejected it, like they have to do with 99.5 percent of the books they get pitched.

Writers get rejected a lot—you learn to not take it personally, that you will have lots of stories people won’t believe in as much as you do. Plenty of great books have been rejected dozens of times before they finally get published, and plenty more have never been published. Sometimes you just give up on an story or an idea, and that’s the end. But I really liked this story. I thought people would get something out of it, because the American Dream is changing and different for everyone now—sometimes it’s kids, a family, a house we make into a home, and sometimes it’s a never-ending road trip. I think it’s important not that we all want the same thing, but that we spend time thinking about what we want.

I had a meeting with a publisher who didn’t think it was quite right for them, and she was right, but that was the last time I tried to pitch it. I figured I got this web site that I write unedited stuff on every week, and a few people seem to like that. So maybe I could self-publish a book, too. I put some money into it, had a couple friends edit it, had another friend take a photo for the cover, asked an old friend to design the cover, and one day this summer, had a PDF and a Word document. Two weeks later, I had something that looked a lot like a book, with my name on it, in my hands. And I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission to publish it, which is equal parts gratifying and terrifying.

The book is called “The New American Road Trip Mixtape.” I used the word “mixtape” in the title because it borrows from other people’s lives and other people’s art to tell my story about everyone, the way my favorite hip-hop mixtapes do.  It will be available on this web site next Thursday, December 12th. It’s $14, which will not make you poor or make me rich. I hope you like it.

new american road trip mixtape jpg



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Category: AdventureTravel



  1. cool. congratulations on publishing the book. you’re an engaging writer so it makes sense that you would write a book. looking forward to reading it.

  2. Awesome !!!! So stoked for you, I can’t wait to read it. This book will make it’s way to Quebec city. I will buy a copy or two to share with friends. Yeah!

  3. Congrats! Got my copy in the mail last week and I look forward to digging into it. When you get rich and famous, don’t forget the little people!

  4. As someone who wants both the family and the adventures (i.e. “it all”), I am looking forward to the seeing the many kinds of full & happy lives being lived out there.

    I hope you can at least enjoy a good cuppa with my purchase.

  5. Hello there, I hopped over to your blog page via StumbleUpon. Not something I frequently read, but I appreciate your thoughts none the less. Thanks a ton for writing some thing worthy of reading through!

  6. I’m excited for this book, not only are you a really interesting writer but you also cover a topic that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. I personally am on the American Dream track of never-ending roadtrip/travel, while many of my friends are on the home-and-family track, with a lot of variations in between.

    I also love that you went ahead and self-published. Will you have a digital copy? It’s relatively easy to submit it to the Kindle/Nook stores, Apple, etc.

  7. Congrats, Brendan! You’re my former co-worker that I always tell people will someday be famous and we’ll all read his book. Hopefully this is it!

  8. The whole Petaluma crowd is over-the-moon proud of you dude. We love you as one of our own despite your out-of-control addictions to burritos, coffee and fro yo. Good writing man. We always knew you could do it and DEFINITELY knew it would be rad. :-)

  9. Brendan,
    Congrats on such an amazing endeavor, I know your hard work will be rewarded. Congratulations on seizing the moment and not letting publishers get you down. I can only imagine the fright and exuberance that must be running through your mind at the moment. I wish you all the best! I know I will be purchasing your book the moment it becomes available. Thank you for the hard work and the gritty, sarcastic, eloquent writing that you have bestowed upon us all.

  10. I hope there’s a copy left for me! Love your writing, it inspires me to write about my experiences, the lessons I learn from them, and How I feel I should/have/hope to apply them to my life.

  11. This sounds great! Can’t wait to read it. My fiance and I are in this process of redefining our lives to live our dreams. I hope to start a blog to chronicle this change but must first make friends with technology. Congratulations on getting your book out there and not giving up. So inspiring!

  12. I purchased the book last night. I’m so happy you did this for yourself. I love reading your blog and the book is so much better. Congrats and well done!

  13. recently purchased and am enjoying so far! about half way through.

    one fact-checking note in case you’re ever doing a second edition: on pg 107, you say you’re going from castro valley “through oakland, richmond, and vallejo on I-5.” i live between richmond and vallejo and this isn’t possible; I-5 is way east. you would have been on variants of 80 (either 580 or 880-to-980) and then 80 east.

    safe travels!

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Article by: brendan