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!

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

Bursting at the Seams

I’ve been waiting to post here until I could take the time to write something poignant and meaningful, offer some deep reflections on the days before my book is born into the world for real. But, man, releasing a book requires hustle. So maybe—hopefully—that post is on its way, but this is not it.

In this post I want to tell you how full I feel. Stuffed, actually, bursting at the seams with news, with gratitude, with pride. I feel nervous, happy, scared, loved…this process has been a wild ride, that’s for sure. And it’s only going to get wilder.

More musings to come, but for now, let me share with you some of the latest news about Hand Me Down.

  • People Magazine gave the book 3.5/4 stars! They called it a “compelling read.” Look for the review it in the April 23rd issue, on sale today.
  • ML Johnson at the Associated Press wrote this wonderful review of Hand Me Down, which was then picked up by dozens of news outlets, including the Huffington Post and the Washington Post! “Melanie Thorne’s debut novel is raw with emotion.”
  • Last Sunday the San Francisco Chronicle included the first line of Hand Me Down in their book section of the paper and online. W’s mom called all excited to see that I’d shown up in her Sunday paper.
  • Cindy Wolfe Boynton at Book Page wrote a thoughtful review, Reality Sparks Affecting Debut” that made my day. She called the book “impossible to put down” and said, “Readers vividly see and experience right along with Liz, thanks to Thorne’s sharp storytelling.” It was included in this special edition of Book Page. Plus, she interviewed me for a piece that is going to run in the Salt Lake City Tribune.
  • Daily Candy featured my book in their “Spring Ink” section, “15 Books to Read While the Trees Blossom.” The other books in this list look really interesting, too!
  • Hand Me Down made it onto Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Fiction” list for April.
  • Confessions of a Vi3tbabe posted a great review this week. “A heartfelt story that I couldn’t put down…Hand Me Down is truly a moving and empowering story, one I think everyone should read.”
  • Candace’s Book Blog also posted a wonderful review. “This book was pretty fantastic. I thought it would be one I’d only read just a little at a time…but the second day I picked it up I ended up reading the whole thing. It sucked me in and I totally and completely ached for Liz and her horrible horrible situation.”
  • And finally, I got a tiny mention in the Press Democrat in an article about books set in Sonoma County along with fellow Dutton authors Sere Prince Halverson and Jennifer Chiaverini. And, this reporter may do a feature on just me a little later!

See, that was a lot of news! Not to mention the Goodreads reviews—mostly great—my launch event tomorrow night at Copperfield’s, my event with Pam Houston at the Booksmith in SF next week, my other upcoming events, my live interview on Capital Public Radio in Sacramento on May 1st, and a forthcoming Q&A in the East Bay Express. Phew!

I’m so happy for all the attention my labor of love is getting, and I really appreciate all the support from my friends and other authors and booksellers and people I don’t know who took the time to write something kind about my book. Thank you, thank you.

Writing Wednesday

I’ve been thinking about how to share all the great posts about writing I read, which is a lot, and this seems like the best way, so welcome to Writing Wednesday (until I think of a better title)! Since I am, you know, a writer now, it’s part of my job to be a involved in the larger writing community. So I read a lot of author blogs and articles about the industry and the writing process and the ones I find particularly interesting/helpful/funny/inspiring/just generally good I’ll share with you. Enjoy!

  • Improv performing tips that relate to writing in How to Write Like a Funny Woman from The Rumpus. “If you can’t kill your darlings, anesthetize/copy & paste them in a separate Word document.” I do this. It is easier than killing them outright.
  • The Port Townsend Writer’s Conference this year has Pam Houston, Cheryl Strayed, and Dorothy Allison on staff this year. What an amazing group of women! I wish I could go.
  • Sarah Pinneo, whose book Julia’s Child was just released, talks about her first book not working out and how that led to something better here.
  • Two gems from Pam Houston: an interview at Fictionaut Five and an essay called Corn Maze, in which she discusses the blurry lines between fiction and non-fiction, and what language and truth can really mean, and why her narrator in her new book Contents May Have Shifted is named Pam. Did you know she taught James Frey?
  • As an introvert, I found this post, The Perks of Being an Introverted Writer, really interesting.
  • And finally, a quiz from Book Riot to see which author you are. I got Flannery O’Connor.