Hand Me Down Will Be on TV Tomorrow!

Hand Me Down is going to make her TV debut tomorrow morning on Good Morning Texas! Hand Me Down was chosen by Gwen Reyes as part of Fresh Fiction’s Buy the Book segment, and will be highlighted with several other books on television! TV!  I’m so glad my beautiful, composed book will be my first TV appearance and I don’t have to stress about how I look and sound and come across, or what might come out of my mouth, or the million other ways I could embarrass myself. My book, she’s a pro, and always looks classy. I’m not even nervous!

Fresh Fiction

In fact, after watching some of the previous segments of Buy the Book, I’m so excited to see what Gwen has to say about Hand Me Down. I’m especially honored because tomorrow’s theme is Heroes: “What is a hero? It can be anything from a sister taking care of her sibling, a single mom struggling to raise a family, to a uniformed officer. Today we’re exploring heroes in fiction with something for everyone.”

You notice that “sister taking care of her sibling” line? Yeah, that’s a reference to my book.

If you’re in Texas, tune in tomorrow morning at 9 am central, WFAA channel 8. Those of us not in Texas will have to wait until the show’s producers upload the video to their website. I will post when it’s live. I hope you’ll come back and join me in celebrating my baby’s first TV appearance.

Cross your fingers there are more to come.

Audiobook Giveaway Winner Announced

Congratulations to Linda Rodriguez, winner of my giveaway for the audiobook of Hand Me Down. She will receive her boxed CD set in the mail this week. Thanks to everyone who entered!

If you missed out, you can still get the audiobook for free when you sign up for a free thirty day trial of Audible.com. Happy listening!

Hand Me Down

Hand Me Down is Five Months Old, and/or, Win a Free Audiobook!

Hand Me Down has been out in the world for five months now. Can you believe it? I can’t. What an adventure releasing this book has been. I hope to share more of the experience with you now that my travels are (almost) over, and I will be posting photos from my readings and outings in some of the places we visited: Portland (waterfalls! greenery! books!), Seattle (Space Needle from our balcony!), LA (oh, the palm trees and warm air), Santa Barbara (beach path+dolphins+perfect weather), and more. It’s been a busy five months!

I do have one more event, on October 12 at the College of Southern Maryland, with my friend and fellow UCD alum Melinda Moustakis. It will be my only east coast stop on the hardcover tour so if you’re anywhere near DC, I would love to see you! I haven’t been to the east coast in more than fifteen years, and it would be wonderful to have a warm welcome back. Come say hi!

In celebration of Hand Me Down‘s five month birthday, I am doing a giveaway! My first-ever giveaway, of the complete audiobook, narrated by Ali Ahn, who has also narrated books by Sarah Dessen and Gary Shteyngart.

I know that back-to-school means moms are in the car driving kids to and from school, and teachers are commuting to their classes again, and that also means it’s time for books on tape, or, er, books on iPods! So I thought the audio version of Hand Me Down would be an appropriate prize for a lucky someone. Of course, if you don’t want to wait, you can get the audiobook free with a thirty day free trial membership to Audible.com, a database that would be great for those of you who love to listen to your literature.

Hand Me Down

To enter to win a CD set of the audio version of Hand Me Down in my giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. You can say anything you want, but I’d love to hear about a book you enjoyed recently. Word of mouth is really the best advertising any book can get, so if a piece of writing really speaks to you, tell you friends, write reviews, and spread the word!

If you want an extra entry, you can like me, or, at least pretend to, though my insecure childhood self is crying and asking why you don’t like her for real, but she’ll get over it. The point is, if you like my Facebook page, just tell me in your comment below and I’ll give you two virtual raffle tickets. Easy as that. If you have already liked my Facebook page—which is very much appreciated, thank you, lovely person—then tell me that below, too. Shares and tweets of this giveaway get another entry, and new Twitter followers, too (@mthorneauthor). Just let me know what you’ve done and I’ll put all your tickets in the hat. I’ll do a random drawing after all the comments come in, and the winner will receive a pretty boxed set of audiobook goodness. Deadline for entering your comment is 11:59 pm next Friday, September 21st.

If you’re still not sure you want to read Hand Me Down, you can read an excerpt, or read reviews, including my most recent review in which Wren Doloro gave the book 4/5 stars, and said of the audio version, “Excellent narration for the book on tape. Definitely a nice car ride read—it got me to stick around in the car when I arrived home. That’s a great sign. The different character voices were well done.”

So, happy birthday to my little book baby, happy back to school to all the real-life babies who are entering a new year, and happy fall reading whether your book is on tape or not.

Not Done Yet

I’m supposed to be working on additional content for the paperback release of Hand Me Down and I’m having trouble writing. I’m not sure I can tell you what the bonus content is yet, but I will say it’s a little bit more from Liz after the current ending, and I think it will be a great extra for readers.

It’s mostly done since it’s something I wrote before I sold HMD. I just have a few more scenes to add, and I even have ideas for them, but I can’t sink back into Liz’s voice. It’s been nine months since the final final edits on this book were done and I’ve spent that time trying to get Liz’s voice out of my head so I could write a different book, get to know a new narrator. It was finally working—I’ve begun the very early phases of my second book, but now, just for a brief few scenes, I have to crawl back into Liz’s head, let her talk to me freely after months of telling her we needed to take a break. This is all very confusing for both of us, and I’m finding it’s much more difficult than I expected.

Of course, everything about publishing this book has been nothing like I expected. And things keep changing and shifting and I’m trying to find a balance in this new life as a published author while still trying to write like no one’s watching or waiting, but sometimes it’s difficult. More so than I expected. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

So, why am I writing a blog post? I’m trying to assuage my guilt over not writing the work that is due soon, and also trying to tell myself I’m not superwoman. I can’t do it all. I get so mad at myself when I can’t complete a task by the deadline, even a self-imposed deadline. I feel like a failure; like I’m letting everyone down. Like I’m not good enough.

If you’ve read HMD, you might have some insight into how deeply this triggers a panic response in my chest, makes my heart flutter with fear. If I’m not good enough, I expect my world to collapse in on me again.

It doesn’t matter that it’s been fifteen years since the events that inspired Hand Me Down took place and I was forced to leave my home. It doesn’t matter how many people have loved my book, how many good reviews I’ve received, how far I’ve come or how hard I’ve worked. It doesn’t matter if I felt loved or safe or fearless for any amount of time before right now. If I can’t do this one thing—this week that means write a scene, but this fear applies to so many other tasks—it proves my success was a fluke, that the love and safety I felt were lies. That I’m not good enough and never will be.

The trick is remembering that the voice in my head that says I’m a failure is the same voice that spurred me to work my ass off, to push as hard as I could to get this point where I even need to write new content for a book that is already published; a book people have really responded to. It wasn’t a fluke. The good things in my life are not lies; the true lie is that I don’t deserve them, because I do. And so does Liz.

Maybe that’s part of why these new scenes are harder for me to write. Liz’s story—my story, too—isn’t over yet, but overall it’s headed into a lighter place and after so many years of darkness, it’s a bit difficult to accept, more so than we expected. That negative voice is hard to ignore, especially when it disguises itself as a protector, but I know we’ll make it through. We always do.

Live! Watch Me Read from Hand Me Down

Hi there! If you haven’t been able to make it to any of my readings, there is now a You Tube video of my Booksmith reading in San Francisco, filmed and posted by Lit Seen. This was the reading I did with Pam Houston, and I asked to go first since she is such a fantastic reader. Really. You can watch her read, too, from her most recent novel, Contents May Have Shifted.

I hope to someday be as poised and calm as Pam is when she reads. “Backstage” before the reading, I was trying to contain my nerves, my knee bouncing, my fingers tying themselves in knots, and she had her feet propped up on a box, writing something on her phone, totally nonchalant. I asked if she was nervous and she said she’d done forty readings since I’d seen her last, two months earlier. I don’t know how she does it, but I get a little less nervous every time, so that’s progress, I guess.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the show! Thanks to Lit Seen for all their support of authors and literary events in the Bay Area, and to the Booksmith for hosting us!

I Won! (And Other Good News)

Remember when I posted about the Santa Barbara Writers Conference best opening contest? I said you couldn’t win if you didn’t try, so I tried, and I won! It was a totally unexpected gift—a full scholarship to a week of workshops and panels across the street from the beach. I was pretty proud of my sentence, too:

We compare scars like war veterans, replay our history by the marks in our skin. At night, quietly so Mom can’t hear, we trace the raised flesh road maps of our lives and whisper our stories into the dark.

I’m here now and so far it’s been great. I’ve walked along this gorgeous beach path (my phone camera doesn’t do it justice) every day. I saw a pod of a dozen or so dolphins, including a baby, swimming just off shore, pelicans dive bombing for dinner, and lots of little crabs. It’s even been warm enough to walk barefoot on the sand and in the surf. Plus, you know, all the great writing stuff: meeting other writers, hanging out with a fellow Book Pregnant member, listening to smart talks, including a keynote from Dorothy Allison, my hero, and soaking up the community of people all focusing on the the thing I’ve chosen to do with my life. It’s inspiring, really. And I think I might want to live in Santa Barbara.

I wanted to share with you, too, the places Hand Me Down and I have appeared in the last few weeks.

  • Woman Around Town interviewed me and then wrote this wonderful article, Hand Me Down: Melanie Thorne’s Novel of Survival and Triumph about me and the book and the intersection of fiction and reality. “As a novel, the story is shocking enough, more so when we learn that 80 percent of what happens in Hand Me Down is autobiographical.”
  • On Campaign for the American Reader, I talk about two books I loved recently and why: The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith, (whose blog I also love), and the newest Sookie Stackhouse book, Deadlocked, by Charlaine Harris.
  • Jennifer Weiner, amazing author and women’s lit champion, retweeted two of my tweets to her forty-something-thousand followers, said she couldn’t wait to read Hand Me Down, and is now following me!
  • The wonderful Amy Sue Nathan, author of the soon-to-be-published novel, The Glass Wives, interviewed me for her blog, Women’s Fiction Writers. She asked great questions about truth in fiction and the label of women’s fiction and I had a lot of fun.
  • Curled Up with a Good Book posted a great review. “Clearly, this young protagonist is a survivor who has not been destroyed by her experiences.”
  • Hand Me Down was featured on School Library Journal as a pick for their Adult Books 4 Teens list.
  • @FuzzyBlackDog, a lovely reader I don’t know, tweeted this: Just finished “Hand Me Down.” Wow. Heart wrenching, chest clenching, make you squirm in your chair novel. Well done.
  • Booking Mama posted a review in which she said many good things, including: “I appreciated the author’s storytelling abilities as well as her prose, but it was the character development of Liz that really stood out to me. I thought Ms. Thorne did a wonderful job of creating a realistic and likable teen, and it was her honest voice that really captured my heart.”
  • Read part of page 69 of Hand Me Down on The Page 69 Test blog and my comments about how it illustrates some of the themes in the book, particularly the bond between the two sisters in the novel.

Phew. Am I a lucky author or what? I’m so honored to have been talked about and to, and I love all the attention my book baby is getting out there in the world. What’s more, this doesn’t even include all the reader emails I’ve gotten, the responses from the wonderful women at the book club I visited, or my feelings about all of it, which I’m not sure I could articulate just yet.

I have to get up in the morning so I can go to another wonderful workshop, so I’ll leave you with all of this fantastic news and my cup of gratitude spilling all over the place. What’s even better than the list above? I’m pretty sure it’s incomplete. There’s so much good news I can’t remember it all. But I’m holding it, carrying it in my chest so I can linger over the joy of it all later. Thank you.

Santa Barbara Writers Conference Best Opening Contest

The Santa Barbara Writers Conference is holding this Best Openings Contest and there’s one day left to enter! Beginnings are so important, as any writer or reader knows. Dorothy Allison says this: “You’ve got to write a first line that will haunt you. It’s got to be magic.” The challenge is that magic is subjective.

I entered the following start:

We compare scars like war veterans; replay our history by the marks in our skin. At night, quietly so Mom can’t hear, we trace the raised flesh road maps of our lives and whisper our stories into the dark.

This came out of a scene I was trying to write for Hand Me Down that eventually turned into the car accident scene in chapter three, without this line. But I love the idea of Jaime and Liz comparing scars—the physical reminders of the traumas they’ve survived—so I would definitely like to use this later as an opening. The chances of winning this contest are small, but you can’t win if you don’t try, right?

What is your favorite opening that you’ve written? Why not send it along to this contest? It can’t hurt and you might get a sponsored trip to a great meeting place for writers! And/or feel free to post it here!

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

It seems like it’s been forever since we talked, Blog, and I feel bad about that. I’ve just been so busy and so much has happened! I’m sorry I don’t always remember to keep you posted on my life. I guess I’m still getting used to this relationship.

In the last few weeks, I did book events in both of my hometowns, Sacramento and Salt Lake City, and several other bookstores in my current home, the San Francisco Bay Area. I read to packed rooms full of new and familiar faces. I made people laugh. I was asked interesting questions. I got to talk about writing and my book and people listened and seemed interested. I did an interview on Capital Public Radio—live!—and managed not to sound like a bumbling idiot. I received a bouquet of tulips and three other beautiful flower arrangements in one day. Hand Me Down was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle three times, the Salt Lake Tribune and several other papers, a bunch of blogs, and People magazine! I hugged two ex-boyfriends’ mothers, my best friend from elementary school and her mom, my favorite high school teacher, people I’d only previously known online, and tons of other old friends and landlords and teachers and coworkers. People were so excited for me and I felt so supported.

I know you deserve more than a quick recap, Blog, and I will write more, soon, I swear, but I have to go now. I have guest blogs to write (I know how painful that must be to hear) and interview questions to answer and event pages to update and emails to respond to…you know. I told you in the beginning that life as a published author would be different, busier. You said you understood, and I hope you’ll stick with me for the slow patches. I promise I’ll always come back.

Yours,

Melanie