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!

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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:

handmedown_CVF_ppk

Blog It

I never know what to blog about. Book stuff, sure, but what else? I don’t have adorable children or cats or dogs; I don’t go on crazy adventures or cook beautiful dishes. Pictures of my day would include a computer screen, some less-than-beautiful food, and a scattering of other mundane things: laundry, errands, maybe some pretty scenery from my walks.

But I do think a lot. About everything. And those are the things I often think to write about but then I think, who cares about what I think? Are people really going to take the time to read my thoughts on random things? And I’m always so worried about how everything I write has to be “good enough” to be published, and I worry about talking about my personal life publicly, on the internet, and not calling it fiction, and I worry that I will seem silly and self-indulgent, and I worry that I might offend readers, and I worry endlessly instead of writing.

I read this piece from Claire Bidwell Smith on blogging for ten years (!) and I realized that I love her blog, like so many others do, for her voice. It’s not just her thoughts, but the way she expresses them that keeps us reading. We respond to both the story and the way it’s told, the universal themes in the everyday. Thousands of people have responded to my voice in Hand Me Down, so it’s not unreasonable to believe that some of you might connect with my voice here on this blog if I were willing to put myself out there. Plus, this is a blog, it doesn’t have to be book-level writing, right?

So I’m going to try. Even though I’m intimidated by all the fantastic blogs already out there, even though I’m worried about, well, about everything (all the time), I’m going to attempt to write more confessional, personal essay-ish, write-about-my-experience kinds of posts. Because that’s what I love to read, and that is one of the things I do know for sure: it’s always more fun to write the thing you love to read rather than the thing you think others want to read.

Here’s to more writing and being less afraid.

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!

Quotes from The Book Thief

I just finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It took me a while to get into it—the narrator is Death, so I didn’t really connect to anyone until Liesel started to take a stand for herself and became a character I rooted for, not just one I felt sorry for. Then I fell in love with this book, its characters. I’m not the only one, of course. It’s a bestseller and has won all kinds of awards, but I particularly liked the the commentaries and asides on storytelling. Like this one:

Of course, I’m being rude. I’m spoiling the ending, not only of the entire book, but of this particular piece of it. I have given you two events in advance, because I don’t have much interest in building a mystery. Mystery bores me. It chores me. I know what happens next and so do you. It’s the machinations that wheel us there that aggravate, perplex, interest and astound me.

I especially love that last line. I often peek at the ends of books before I finish reading them.

Words had also brought her to life. “Don’t punish yourself,” she heard her say again, but there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness, too. That was writing.

Amen.

And also, I loved this line: “Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.”

And: “I am haunted by humans.”

This was such a moving and powerful and heartbreaking book. But this is the second WWII book I’ve read recently and with all that’s going on in the world right now, I think I’d like to read a (moderately at least) happy book next. Any suggestions?

Three Things on Thursday

1. Why is it such a hassle to request official transcripts? Especially if you went to more than one college. Grr.

2. I still can’t believe Kristen had to pack her knives and we have to watch obnoxious Chef Josie for another week. Grr.

3. This is a funny and sad and, unfortunately, true look at what being a non-famous author is like. Check it out: Hell is My Own Book Tour. Big sigh.

“There are a number of reasons authors such as myself go on book tours, all of them basically stupid.The publishing industry stopped having new ideas out of respect for the untimely death of Ernest Hemingway in 1961, and has been doing everything the same way ever since….A lot can go wrong on a book tour. For instance – stop me if I’m getting too technical here –nobody shows up to the reading. When this happens, you’re forced to spend about 20 minutes with an apologetic, pitying bookstore employee, attempting to strike the right blend of self-deprecation, cavalier disregard, and passive-aggression toward the bookstore for failing to promote the event in any way except by placing posters in the bathroom of the store itself.

…This, however, is not even close to the worst thing than can happen. Far, far worse is when one to four people show up, speckling the 30 folding chairs the bookstore has arranged before the microphone and podium like survivors of some horrible plague.

You can’t not read for them. You’re grateful they came. One lady got there a full hour early, and has three pre-purchased copies of your book stacked on the empty chair beside her. Another guy – 50-ish, balding, ponytailed – is clutching a printout of an interview you did with a now-defunct website, and will ask you to sign it for him, as if the purpose of this tour was to promote this ancient, obscure drivel rather than your new novel. If you’re really lucky, he may also request your signature on an Advance Reading Copy of your previous novel, which has the words NOT FOR SALE on the cover and “25 cents” written in pencil on the title page. Another attendee is a nursery school friend of your mother’s who heard about the reading on Facebook. She’s beaming with pride and taking lots of pictures, as if your mom doesn’t know what an empty room looks like.”