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Some Smart People Said Some Nice Things About My Book

Image result for book pipeline

The news is out! The contest I mentioned I was a semi-finalist for last week is the Book Pipeline book to movie contest, and they have now posted their official announcement. Twelve semi-finalists chosen out of 576 entries. I’m so honored to have made it this far!

From these twelve, they will choose 3-5 finalists and a winner, who receive: “Entrance to the next Script Pipeline / Book Pipeline event in Santa Monica, CA, which will include representatives from Energy Entertainment, Benderspink, and Paradigm, in addition to other companies seeking literary material; Industry circulation to over 200 companies searching for new literary material; Additional one-on-one development assistance and consultation from Script Pipeline executives.”

Semifinalists also have an opportunity for further development assistance from Script Pipeline executives, and Matt Misetich, the Director of Development at Script Pipeline, has emailed me his thoughts about Hand Me Down being “ripe for feature adaptation.” So many people have told me that the book would make a good movie, and now people in the industry whose job it is to know what will make a good movie agree!

Matt Misetich, who seems like a generally funny and nice guy as well as a life-changer for up and coming writers, also said this about HMD:

“While it’s a story that’s been told before–the neglected child from a dysfunctional household trying to find her place–your writing style and depiction of character are so well-illustrated, it makes for a genuine page-turner. As someone who doesn’t usually prefer this subgenre of sorts, I was hooked after the first chapter. Credit not only your writing ability, but your understanding of how to develop character. Very impressive, and something I surprisingly don’t see often.”

Here is a sampling of some of the other judges’ remarks:

“The believability of the setting injected with a growing sense of danger for the girls, even in the safety of their own home, provides an intriguing narrative that only intensifies as the story progresses, leaving the audience in a constant state of suspense and a growing sense of dread for the fate of their young heroines.”

“The vivid portrayal of the characters allows the reader an uncanny grasp on their personalities and serves well to either draw sympathy or loathing from the audience depending on the characters’ roles. The raw nature of everything is deeply rooted in an underlining theme of neglect, pulling the audience into a deeper understanding of the human condition.”

“The instant investment the reader experiences at the start of the story is a sure sign of a well-developed plot and setting prime for a dramatic film adaptation. It’s that type of true conflict and stakes that of course always makes for good cinema.”

These comments meant a lot to me. I worked really hard to make HMD a page-turner full of complex, flawed, and engaging characters. I once took a workshop with Brady Udall who said, “You have to find a way to keep the reader turning pages.” That is the most fundamental rule of any piece of writing: you have to keep them reading. So it’s wonderful to hear that readers—especially these readers who are trained to evaluate story and character—were so engaged and connected.

I’m cautiously optimistic about HMD becoming a movie because it really would be a dream come true. Thanks Matt and the other readers for seeing HMD as a contender! Fingers crossed for finalist status, but even without it, I’m letting these comments buoy me up and feed my confidence for the lonely and grueling process of drafting the next book. Because it always, always comes back to the page.

News & Reviews & 3 Days Left!

The paperback of Hand Me Down comes out in three days! Have you seen her new beautiful face? Despite being unsure of it at first, I have now grown to love this cover as much as—or possibly even more than—the hardcover.

I hope new readers out there will want to pick up the book and hold it, that they will choose it off a shelf at a bookstore and take it home with them. Books just want to be loved, and I hope that all of you who enjoyed Hand Me Down in her first incarnation will tell your friends that she has been reborn. And that she is now cheaper! Though her price is not a reflection on her character. Her insides are still the same despite the new and less expensive exterior.

Also, the paperback has bonus material! I don’t know of any other novel that has added material from the character rather than the author. In this case, a new epilogue that is an essay Liz writes for her creative writing class featuring Liz and Jaime and their family ten years later. So many readers have written to me and asked for a sequel. This epilogue is not exactly a sequel, but if you wanted to know more about what happens to the girls after the events in HMD, here’s your chance.

You can preorder the paperback now from your favorite book retailer. Or wait until next week when you can pick it up in person at a bookstore. Or, you can enter this Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of ten free copies.

If you’re still not sure if you want to read HMD, two great reviews came out this week that might help convince you. One of my favorite book bloggers, Devourer of Books, (who is also one of my favorite follows on Twitter—check her out she’s smart and funny) wrote this fantastic review of Hand Me Down, the audio version. She addresses why the book is not YA, though it does have crossover appeal, and talks about how the fact that she was so angry with the characters proved her engagement with the book. “The hate didn’t make me dislike the book, though. On the contrary, the hate just showed me how completely invested I was in Liz’s story, and I, well, devourered Thorne’s story.” Love that last line. Told you she was funny. On Twitter she also said she was “glued to her earbuds.”

Another fabulous book blogger, Book Magnet, posted this thoughtful and kind review. The blogger, Jaime Boler, even spells her name the same way my Jaime does, which is not that common. She says all kinds of wonderful things about my book, including, “Thorne’s story left me indignant and emotionally spent, which is proof of the author’s skilled writing and adept characterizations,” and, “Thorne leaves readers with white knuckles as they wait to see if Liz and Jaime survive and even thrive…If you enjoy books narrated by strong teen girls, wise beyond their years, then Hand Me Down is a must read.” Generous as she is, she has also invited me to do an interview with her on her blog which will be coming soon!

I’m so grateful for these reviews, for all the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, for being featured on She Knows Red Hot March Reads list, for all the emails and Tweets and Facebook posts…it’s a great way to kick-off the paperback release week! Hopefully this is just the beginning of a long and healthy paperback life for my baby.

Three more days!

In Which I Interview Myself for The Nervous Breakdown

The Nervous BreakdownThe Nervous Breakdown is an online community full of great reviews of books and movies, author interviews and original essays, and all kinds of cool content. As a writer, my favorite feature is their self-interview, in which authors interview themselves. Often authors do fun things like taking on different personas for interviewer and interviewee or asking inappropriate, off-the-wall questions, and/or use it as a chance to talk about topics that haven’t come up in other interviews or other things they find interesting.

I’ve been a fan of these for a while so it’s such a pleasure to get to do one myself to celebrate Hand Me Down‘s rebirth in paperback. I’m pretty proud of this interview, actually, and it was tons of fun to work on. So I hope you’ll check it out. I start by calling myself a chicken and a liar, and it gets better from there. I also talk about forgiveness and Christopher Pike and seeing my flasher ex-stepdad on the local news.

You’re such a chicken.

Excuse me?

And a liar.

Well, I am a writer. But this is a strange way to begin an interview. Can’t you be nicer to yourself?

Why didn’t you just call your book a memoir, chicken? Were you too scared to put yourself out there and be honest?

Hand Me Down isn’t a memoir. It’s a novel.

But isn’t it true?

Continue Reading Self-Interview

The Nervous Breakdown has also posted an excerpt from Hand Me Downchapter one in its entirety. Enjoy!

Spring Is in the Air

For such a short month, February sure packs a wallop. There are so many application deadlines and events and holidays and birthdays (I guess lots of people have sex in May, huh?), and it feels like a generally busy time for all of us. February means business. Now that the Christmas trees are out of the house (though, I saw one on the curb just last week!) and we’ve stopped living on cheese and wine and chocolate and are ready to come out from under our blankets and away from cozy fireplaces, step out of our slippers into non-elastic-waist pants and leave the holidays behind, it’s time to get back to work. 

And I did. I did publicity outreach emails, wrote guest blog posts and answered interview questions, applied to two MFA programs and wrote a statement of purpose, entered seven novel contests, applied for two conference fellowships and wrote the corresponding personal essays, and applied for the NEA fellowship for the first time. (Man, that application is a hassle—but it’s free, so why not?). I accepted an invitation to be on a writers workshop panel in June and to teach a workshop in September. All this on top of my regular trying-to-write schedule and, you know, life.

I have also sort of met my goals of getting outside more and spending less time on social media. I am still not writing enough, but that feels like it’s getting closer. I’m getting to the point where I notice things I want to describe, scenes I witness seem to slow down so I can capture them in my memory and I write them down when I get home. I’ve been making lots of notes, and I’m pretty sure the writing will just pour out of me when the time is right. The fact that I am now feeling hopeful rather than terrified is a shift in itself that tells me I’m making progress, even if it’s not all on a conscious level. Writing is tricky that way.

I think the change in weather also makes me more positive. It’s staying light after 6 pm and the air smells like flowers and the cherry blossoms are blooming pink confetti all over my neighborhood and the sun is out more and the wind isn’t icy on my cheeks. I can open the car windows when I drive and when I’m working so I can hear the birds twittering their songs. I love spring.

This spring means a paperback release for Hand Me Down (I’d be so grateful if you preordered a copy!) and decisions about what to do for next year. I think February was just the primer and March is going to be all kinds of busy, but I also think I’m ready after my winter hibernation.

Change is in the air. I can feel it building. Shifts—in our location, our focus, our behaviors, our perceptions—can be hard, but the other side of the transformation seems promising right now. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Hand Me Down’s New Paperback Face!

So this arrived today:

hmd paperbacks in box

Eye-catching, isn’t it? Striking, right? I think it really pops in a way that will get people to pick it up, and the thumbnail stands out online, too. My favorite part is the moon in her eye. Plus, the paperback has bonus material—a new epilogue that I’ll talk more about later, but is pretty exciting, since this isn’t something you get in a lot of books: a little extra from the characters at the end.

I’ll be updating the site with the new cover image, more info about the new epilogue, and new upcoming events, so stay tuned!

But for now, bask in her beautiful glow:

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Three More Things This Thursday

1. Top Chef Redemption!! Josie *finally* went home and Kristen beat the giant jackass CJ in Last Chance Kitchen. Yay! I hope Kristen makes it back in for the finale and that Brooke and Stephan last, too. I love Stephan. Top Chef is a show full of attractive bald men. Well, at least two of them.

2. Migraines are horrible. I don’t get them as often as I used to, but man, they kick my ass.

3. Today I had a wonderful call with my new publicist from Plume, the imprint of Penguin that will be releasing my paperback. (It comes out March 26! You can preorder here!) She had so many great ideas and she made me excited about the paperback again. I can’t wait to share with you the new final, final cover and more about the new bonus material. Stay tuned!

Kirkus Reviews Names Hand Me Down as One of the Best Fiction Books of 2012!

When I was waiting for reviews, I nursed a secret little hope that Hand Me Down would receive at least one starred review. Hundreds of books release each year, and they can’t all get a star, but HMD did, and I was thrilled. It was a bit of a surprise that it came from Kirkus Reviews which is known in the industry for being, shall we say, harsh. But the reviewer at Kirkus understood Hand Me Down, and I was so grateful for the positive words and a glowing endorsement: the blue star next to the title.

Never did I expect that my debut novel would make it onto a best of the year list! It was not something I even hoped for but now that it has happened, I couldn’t be happier. How cool is it to be included on Kirkus Reviews’ best fiction of 2012 list with names like Ron Rash, Gillian Flynn, Michael Chabon, Richard Ford, Lauren Groff, Sherman Alexie, Alice Munroe, Dave Eggers, Junot Diaz, Elie Wiesel, fellow Book Pregnant members Wiley Cash and Stephen Dau, and so many more talented and deserving authors, many of whom are famed literary greats.

Seriously, did you see that list of names?! It is amazing to have my labor of love appear alongside these established, award-winning, crazy famous authors’ books. It’s not just my debut up there next to the works of literary masters, but other first-time novelists made the cut and I’m thankful to Kirkus Reviews for giving the newbies equal weight. And, on Hand Me Down‘s review page, they’ve added a gold medal that says “Best of 2012.” I wish you could see how much I’m smiling. It’s so exciting!

This, among many other things, is something to be thankful for this year. I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend!

Hand Me Down on Good Morning Texas!

Good Morning Texas

So, Hand Me Down made her TV debut last week on Good Morning Texas. Sometimes I’m still so in awe that I even HAVE a book out there, you know? This was one of those moments. I was so proud seeing her up there with those other books, in a real live TV studio, with the book-savvy Gwen Reyes of Fresh Fiction talking about how great she is. “Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult,” she said. Why, thank you.

I was happy it was my book up there representing us on our first TV appearance, looking all cool, calm, and collected, instead of me, who would have been sweaty and nervous. My book baby is still so pretty. I suppose all new mothers think that, right? She’s almost six months old. Can you believe it?

Anyway, check out this segment of Buy the Book on Good Morning Texas. Hand Me Down gets mentioned around minute 2:47, but the other books sound interesting, too. I’ve added several of them to my TBR list.