Ripe for the Pickin’ Book Launch March 5, 2022

Today, my new novel, Ripe for the Pickin’, is out and for sale through all major booksellers! I have worked many years on this book, rewriting it a few times. Reworking it. Taking chances. Waiting for answers. Listening for stories. Checking its pulse. Cultivating experience.

When you step back, you think, “Yeah,” and nod and sense the magic. Okay, it’s ready. Later, you take it in again and wonder, “Did it work out alright?” The creative impulse and familiarity feels as if its traveling away with the work–a stranger when you meet it again.

I’ll meet it again at the book launch and read from the book, sign copies, and look forward to talking with the people who come out.

1-3 p.m. Saturday, 5 March, 2022, at Journey’s Eye Studio in Clarksville, TN.

Here’s the press release about the event:

Local Author Celebrates New Book & 10 Years at Journey’s Eye Studio

Local author and publisher, Shana Thornton’s new book, Ripe for the Pickin’, releases this weekend with a book launch at Journey’s Eye Studio on Saturday, March 5, from 1-3 p.m. Thornton will celebrate ten years in the book business this year. She will read from her work and sign books on Saturday. The event is free and open to the public. Books is be available for purchase,

Set in Tennessee, Thornton’s new novel, Ripe for the Pickin’, received advanced praise from award-winning author Barry Kitterman, who is also a retired Austin Peay State University professor of creative writing: “It’s been a few years since we saw these characters in the first of Shana Thornton’s Poke Sallet stories. This time, as I read the opening pages, I feel like I’m running down a country road holding onto the tailgate of a friend’s pickup, and that friend is Thornton herself. The thought occurs to me that I should not have got out of the pickup in the first place, and would be wise to hang on, to follow wherever she takes me. The story is several stories: a road trip, a food and herb meditation, a hymn to Tennessee, an earth spiritual. There’s the continuation of a treasure hunt, and poetry, and song lyrics, all spanning several generations, at times passing over the threshold from this world to earlier worlds. It’s worth reading, and worth reading twice.”—Barry Kitterman

Thornton has written four fictional novels, including Ripe for the Pickin’, and co-authored a mindfulness journal. She is the series editor and publisher of the yoga book series, BreatheYourOMBalance, which has featured the work of many Clarksville authors and yoga practitioners. This year, Thorncraft Publishing, her publishing company, celebrates ten years in business. Within that time, the company has published the books of local Clarksville authors and/or authors who are Austin Peay graduates. 

Thorncraft Publishing books, including Ripe for the Pickin’, are available for purchase through all major booksellers, including Hudubam (locally), Parnassus Books in Nashville, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, and Amazon. 

Books will be available for purchase at Journey’s Eye Studio. The author will sign copies at the event on Saturday. Journey’s Eye Studio is the only place in Clarksville to buy autographed copies.

For more information, visit thorncraftpublishing.com

Event: 

Journey’s Eye Studio

Franklin Street

Clarksville, TN

1-3 p.m. Saturday, March 5, 2022.

Book: Ripe for the Pickin’ 

238 pages paperback

Suggested retail price: $17.99

ISBN-13: 978-0-9979687-5-0

Publication date: March 4, 2022

Finally—Pre-Orders on Ripe for the Pickin’

My new book is finally available for pre-sale here! https://thorncraftpublishing.com

This novel is past, present, and future—a road trip and musical journey inspired by nature, family, and storytelling. Years in the making, I am surprised when a book is finished. Usually, I’m in editing and revision mode so deeply that I don’t see the end of the process clearly. I sense that it’s coming, but I don’t finalize books based on schedules. There’s not one action that says, this book is complete now. Combinations finish books. I hope that you’ll check out my book, Ripe for the Pickin’, inspired by places I love in Tennessee and Tennessee stories, plants, and music. Here’s the book cover, designed by Erica Trout Creative. You can read all about the book on the Thorncraft Publishing website.

Ripe for the Pickin’ by Shana Thornton. Book two in the Family Medicine Wheel series. Available March 4, 2022, through all major booksellers.

Thoughts While Looking at Orchids

The orchid is a kaleidoscopic plant. I hold my face very close to its face. What combinations propel it to bloom as the sun turns, as the humidity shifts? Until, a striking pattern of color and form emerges and spirals open, lilting as a dancer into multiple characters with conversations in their bodies. The orchid is capable of holding the gaze for valuable time and resources, even for life itself, as tales of orchid hunters and smugglers are sure to prove. 

Picasso & Orchids Collage by Shana Thornton. Orchids photo by Terry Morris. Cheekwood “Orchids in the Mansion” 2021. Picasso photo from video at Figares exhibition. Frist Art Museum 2021.

What presses an orchid and an artist to create, even the simplest of forms into an expression? This is not a callow show and representation. 

Textures. This one with its grey bulbous wormy-faced ends growing over the edge of the pot, reaching out as short tentacles, root-like but partially airborne. The green wedge-shaped leaves are hard and I could carve words into the flesh of them with the tips of my fingernails ever so slightly, and they seal them up afterward. The leaves sit that way, maybe growing another. It’s a long time. A thin stem arches up, nimble threading of lifetimes, those folds, as if butterflies about to emerge, greyed by coming into form and existence at first, as nearly all life, grey casting—and the pallor catches upon opening and unfolding and growing and it deepens and becomes rich and bold, taking its browns and greens, taking blue and purple, expressing yellow and pink, mauve and cream, maroon and orange forms defying categorization. Air plant. Blooms pull the stems in acrobatics. Tree leaping and clinging simultaneously.

A tendril swivels and pauses, steady. Another tendril swivels and pauses, steady. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Steady gaze. A long time…

Just before Valentine’s Day, we visited “Orchids in the Mansion” while the sky threatened ice and snow. The frigid air was a contrast to the tropical reflections that greeted us indoors, and sweat slid under our coats. Later, at Picasso’s Figares exhibit, the artist is there—painting a vase with flowers first while wearing a coat and scarf in the video.

See the artist’s focus mesmerized. Is it any less evident in the orchid? Or, in my eye pressed to a kaleidoscope’s lens? 

When you behold a flower in a state of wonder. 

Does the orchid marvel at the world—life sky, canopy bodies, its mouth open and tongue flared out for catching rain and travelers, faces peering in as if answers to existence awaited? 

Akin to wonder, to amaze, akin to bedazzlement, akin to bewitchingly cool. 

But, there’s a pressure to find and discover another expression. Not only of beauty, but of understanding, of appreciation for the connections of the artwork itself. Such complexity is wrapped into this simple sentiment—this basic need—as an artist that it is overwhelming, debilitating, and alienating at its most difficult, while it’s healing, exhilarating, and captivating at its most liberating to be aware of a creative state of being. 

Steady gazing to close until wispy as paper to ash by the burning of the sun the blooms fall away one by one. 

Orchids in the Mansion 2021

The original Picasso video on YouTube.

Foraging for Plants, Music, & Family

We toted the guitar out in the summer heat, after our beach vacation, while we picked blackberries. Silvia’s dress snagged on the thorns. I was writing about a heartache that constantly pulses reminders because of the realization that there’s no way to make up for a past that’s never coming back. I felt the pull of my characters, especially Robin, her confusion over both memory loss and memory resurfacIng, her dreams to rise above her family’s addictions, and the fire in her heart and her pen to write folk songs.

Image Title: Snagged Pickin’. Photos by Zoe Morris and Shana Thornton. Final image by Shana Thornton.

Foraging for plants and folklore, folk music, and family secrets are themes in the Family Medicine Wheel series, and they especially show up in my next book, Ripe for the Pickin’ (Forthcoming March 2022). In the first book, Poke Sallet Queen and the Family Medicine Wheel (2015), young Robin learns to forage for plants from her dad and other relatives. She also meets the friends who become her bandmates. In the next book, Ripe for the Pickin’, Robin shares more about foraging when she was growing up, and she begins her songwriting partnerships. Robin also makes a remarkable discovery in this book and that allows her to learn about her ancestors.

For the past seven years, I’ve been actively researching plants for the book, Ripe for the Pickin’. The research is a big part of my life, and my family usually participates. While we were out picking plants one afternoon, I asked our younger daughter, Silvia, if we could take photos for the book. I wanted them for inspiration. I also asked our older daughter, Zoe, if she would take some of the photos, too. These images are some of the photos we took, and they have been layered, and some even look quilted together.

Title: Pickin’ Tea. Photos by Zoe Morris. Final image by Shana Thornton

Eerily similar to the best ideas in the book is the life that I live:

“Is this the peppery chickweed?” Silvia asks me. A fluffy type grows by the river and has a stronger flavor than the more straggly plants nearer to our house.

She and I pick wild violets for tea every spring. This became the inspiration for a chapter of the book called “Backyard Spring,” and then it inspired a song. I crafted one like Robin might for her band, and I added it to the book. Writing songs was fun, and so different from narrative that I wanted to do it again. I tried. Ohhhhhhhh, I like Robin Ballard and her songwriting journals. I helped her to fill them up.

Silvia eats wood sorrel year round where it stays warm and green close to the house. This became the inspiration for a chapter called “Cowbird Blues” and another song.

We pick the creeping charlie leaves that grow under blackberry canes, and then we pick blackberry leaves for tea, too. And, you might have guessed already…another chapter called “Blackberry Winter Whistlin’ Tune” and another song…

This got us on a songwriting streak. And, I’m in love with it…


I was daydreaming one afternoon while placing images together. I don’t know what compelled me to choose the images or arrange them, but I liked the final result when I stopped my creative daydreaming. This final image contains four photographs with three of them placed on an image of the interior of the Frist Art Museum.

Image Title: Plant Music Pickin’ Compilation. Photos by Shana Thornton, Zoe Morris, and Terry Morris.
Final image by Shana Thornton

I enjoy the creativity that the books inspire in my family’s everyday life. We have a cabinet full of tea, a drying rack overflowing with leaves and flowers, and an experimental garden of wild plants, heirlooms, and seeds given to me by family and friends. We water the plants. We drink the tea. We sing.

Right now, as I finish this blog, someone is playing the piano and trying to write a song in the living room, probably Terry. I can hear Silvia singing from upstairs, her voice drifting off while she makes up words and when she finds them, it rises again. From the kitchen, I can hear the water boiling in the kettle for someone’s tea, probably Zoe’s.

Read more about the books here.