Shirley Melis Launches her Audio Book Blog Tour for Memoir Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss

Monday, July 08, 2019
...and giveaway!

We are quite excited to have back with us - Shirley Melis and her memoir Banged-Up Heart. Readers and listeners of this book have had so many wonderful things to say about this inspiring story. We are delighted to offer a giveaway of the Audible version of Banged-Up Heart - keep reading to find out more about this author, her story, the giveaway, and the book blog tour!

Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again.

When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend’s husband, she asks him to marry her! What follows is a year-long odyssey of travel and a growing erotic and creative partnership— until a mysterious bump on John’s forehead proves to be one of several tumors in his brain and spine.

The nine months that follow are filled with a life-threatening infection, three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Two years and one week after their wedding, John dies at the age of fifty-nine. More than just a love story or a memoir of mourning, Banged-Up Heart comes down solidly on the side of life. It takes you deep inside an ordinary woman, her deeply felt grief butting up against her desire for more than companionship: passion, sexual fulfillment, and self-realization. It bears eloquent witness to the wild trust it takes to fall madly in love and risk profound loss—a second time. Ultimately, it shows that it is possible to dance with a banged-up heart.

Audiobook details:
Genre: Memoir/Non Fiction
Audiobook release date: February 21, 2019
Listening Length: 11 hours and 55 minutes
Narrated by: Laurie Bower

Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is available in print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. The audio version is available on Audible

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win an Audible copy of Banged-Up Heart, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes Sunday, July 14th at 11:59 PM EST. We will announce the winner the next day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:

Shirley Melis is a longtime business writer, travel writer, and newspaper columnist who traveled the world interviewing everyone from busboys to heads of international organizations before launching a career in public relations in Washington, D.C. With Banged-Up Heart, she now takes her writing in a new direction, delving deeply into her own personal story of finding love late, losing it early, and discovering the strength to choose to love again. It is a fascinating odyssey, a journey both creative and erotic as Shirley and John work lovingly together to blend their dreams—until a mysterious bump on his forehead starts them on a tragic struggle against the dark hand of fate.

A graduate of Vassar, Shirley Melis has created an intimate memoir bearing eloquent witness to the kind of wild trust that can grow in the heart of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances that few others must face. Now retired, she lives in Galisteo, New Mexico.

Shirley can also be found online at:




-----Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: Thank you so much for choosing WOW! for your book blog tour. Thank you also for your time in this interview. After reading your bio and book summary, I’m sure readers are excited to learn more about you. We are all glad you are here Shirley!

You had a plan to write a book about women thriving into old age – that plan changed course, but what spurred your initial plan?

Shirley: Knowing I’d be in my sixties when I retired and wanting to write, I thought there’d be a market for a book like this. People today, especially women, can expect to live longer and healthier lives than their parents. Some may need role models. I like reading about women who are thriving mentally, emotionally, and physically despite growing older. Of course, it would be important to find women whose backgrounds and passions differed from one another. And I would have to hone my interviewing skills and figure out what questions to ask. As I told Pierrette Kemoul, a literary journal editor and writer in Brittany, when John and I were guests of hers and her husband Gwenael, I like the idea of doing something that is not only challenging and interesting but also worthwhile. Now that I’ve written a memoir and have another percolating, I don’t know when or whether I’ll ever get back to my initial plan.

WOW: Another percolating? How exciting is that! (But I’m getting ahead of myself.) Who was most influential in your decision to write and publish Banged-Up Heart? How so?

Shirley: Like spontaneous combustion, my decision erupted not long after John’s death. I felt blindsided and had to figure out what had happened to me. Throughout my life, writing has helped me think and see more clearly. You could say it was John, rather, John’s death that triggered my decision to write. At first I was writing for myself but when a close friend said, “Shirley, other people will be interested in reading this,” I thought, Really? Then I’d better go the distance and make it worthwhile.

WOW: Spontaneous combustion – I love that you use that term to describe your decision! You’re such a spitfire as my mom would say!

Was there anything you wrote about that you felt a little timid including in your memoir? Were you worried about the perception of others? What helped you get past those hurdles of worrying what others might think?

Shirley: Any qualms I had, and I had a few, were dashed when I started working with editor Morgan Farley, who asked questions I had to answer. The more I talked with Morgan, who is a demon for truth, and the more I wrote, the fewer qualms I had. I think age helped me get past worrying about others’ perceptions of me. I have a close friend who was appalled by my writing a memoir. “It’s too personal,” she said after reading a few pages. Another said, “Shirley, I’m so proud of you for telling the truth. I’ve spent my whole life trying to hide some of my behavior but you just come out with it.” I figure that as long as I’m not hurting someone else, I have no good reason to hold back. That said, I did change the names of two characters in my book because I didn’t want to embarrass them outright.

WOW: Demon for truth huh? I seriously need to spend more time with you! You’re an awesome wordsmith.

Walk us through the name of your book and the cover artwork – how did you choose them and why?

Shirley: I hadn’t completed my book when I registered to attend a college reunion that would feature creative work by classmates. Realizing this could a great opportunity to promote my book, I asked a creative advertising ace to create a poster for me to display. Within days, she had everything she needed from me with one exception: a title for the book. I’d sent her a photo to use as a cover mock-up – a burned out forest with nascent green grass denoting regrowth in the foreground. But I was still clueless about a title.

Hoping for an epiphany, I hunkered down with the last several chapters. I would be discussing one, possibly more, of these with my editor in a few days. In one chapter my attention riveted on a selection by writer Anne Lamott that the Rev. Kim Beach read at John’s memorial service. That’s it! I thought.

Eager to share my find with editor Morgan Farley, I could hardly contain myself as I sat down at the table for our editing session. “I have a title!” I blurted. “So do I,” she said. “Banged-Up Heart,” I said. “That’s what I came up with, too.” Morgan beamed with delight. And that’s the story of how I found a title for my memoir – in time to promote it at my college Reunion. Since then, the cover has changed by the title remains.

Fretting over artwork for the cover – decided the photo was too grim (two college classmates had said as much) –  heeded the advice of my artist friend Lewis Hawkins who advised, “Get a pencil and paper and start doodling. You’ll come up with something.” At breakfast one morning, I shared my doodling – lightly banged-up looking letters for the title separated from the subtitle by a rose – with my husband Frank. “Here, he said, pencil in hand. “Break the stem of the rose.” I shared our doodle with friends at dinner who applauded. Why the rose? I can’t tell you. It must have been subconscious. In fact, roses frequently appear in my memoir. It was graphic artist Scott Gerber, publisher of Terra Nova Books, who turned my doodle into the beautiful cover you see today.

WOW: I love the cover even more now that I know the back story – thank you!

Will you be doing any public speaking in the future? Is there a plan to use your experience to help others who are grieving?

Shirley: I’ll be reading and speaking for my book launch at Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on February 4th. Later in the month, I’ll participate in a reading/signing event at Goodworks, an independent bookstore in Albuquerque. Friends have offered to host a private reading in early March. And Independent bookstore, op cit books Santa Fe, has offered me and another Terra Nova Books author a joint reading/signing. In a couple of weeks I'm being interviewed on KOB 4, an NBC affiliate in Albuquerque, for “Good Day, New Mexico.”

Once my book is out on February 14th (anyone can pre-order now) and people have a chance to read it and react, I’ll have a better take on whether I might be able to use my experience to help others. If I can, I would like to, and I’m open to suggestions.

WOW: Earlier you eluded to another memoir brewing, so do tell: What is next for you?

Shirley: I have another memoir in the works and more traveling to do with my husband Frank.

WOW: Another memoir - that's very exciting! What made you decide to turn Banged-Up Heart into an audio book as well as print? What have you learned in this process?

Shirley: Inspired by a close friend whose vision is failing -- she shared with me her regret that although she owned my book, her poor vision did not allow her to read it – and a total stranger who, after telling me she was blind, asked at a book reading, When can I hear your book? I started pondering the possibility of offering Banged-Up Heart as an audiobook.

Some months later, at a monthly meeting of the New Mexico Book Association, the program speaker, Laurie Bower, riveted my attention. Laurie, an audiobook narrator, talked about the process of producing an audiobook. I asked her for her business card and a couple of weeks later, called her. Before meeting Laurie, I’d thought I would read my own book. But I hadn’t realized how much there is to it. Reading excerpts at book signings/readings is a lot different from reading an entire book and I would have to be coached. Meanwhile, I had started writing a second memoir and wondered how I would make time to produce an audiobook.

In response to Laurie’s suggestion that she do a 15-minute sample reading for my reaction, I sent her several pages of text that included six characters. When she gave me the word, I plugged my ear buds into my laptop and listened to Laurie read. And then I asked my husband Frank to listen. “Marvelous,” he said. I agreed. The depth of her voice and her ability to articulate clearly impressed both of us. Within days, I signed a contract with Laurie. “I’ll read a few chapters at a time and download them through ACX (an Audible affiliate) for you to listen to and edit,” she said. “I should have this completed so we can meet your goal of having it out by Valentine’s Day.” I liked the idea of having the audiobook out by February 14th, the date my paperback had been published two years earlier. What I did not foresee was that I would be consumed with moving from our house in the village of Galisteo, New Mexico, into a new house closer to Santa Fe the month of January. By the time I completed my proof-listening, I was behind the eightball. I knew from Laurie that ACX would require time to put the audiobook through a process called “Quality assurance.” In fact, it didn’t take long, but I missed my February 14th target by one week. On February 21st, ACX sent me a congratulatory email: “Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is now on sale at Audible, and it will be available on iTunes and Amazon with the next few days.”

I learned that hiring a good narrator does not mean the author is off the hook. Nor should she be. The best of narrators cannot be expected to know how to pronounce all of the placenames in your book. In my memoir, I did not use a lot of “he/she said.” Because of this, Laurie occasionally read dialogue in my voice when it was someone else who was speaking. Catching these falls on the shoulders of the author. Proof-listening by the author is an all-important component of producing a good audiobook.

WOW: I'm so glad I asked - that's such a great story of how this audible version came to fruition as well as great advice for others! How did you feel hearing Banged-Up Heart for the first time on Audible?

Shirley: Enthralled. Laurie’s voice was my voice, and all of the other voices in my book. As I listened, I relived my story with the many feelings I had experienced. The quality of Laurie’s voice caused me to laugh, smile and at times, to cry.

WOW:  I've listened to the audio version myself - and I agree with you - Laurie's narration adds an extra special boost of emotion to an already inspirational story!

What advice would you give other authors about publishing their work as an audiobook?

Shirley: Although I am addicted to reading a book by holding it in my hand, there are many times when an audiobook is the perfect medium. On the treadmill, for example, or while driving long distances. And for people whose vision is impaired and for those who simply prefer to listen than to read, an audiobook can be a godsend. There is a growing market, I’m told, for audiobooks and for that reason alone, you should consider an audiobook. Of course, if your book contains a boatload of statistics, it might not be an apt candidate.

WOW: I certainly agree about holding a book in my hand - but after listening to your book, I am becoming more impressed with audio options! I guess we will have to stay connected via social media so we don’t miss more of your exciting adventures. I personally can’t wait to read more of your work and I hope you’ll be back touring with WOW! for your future memoir. It has been such a pleasure!

----------Blog Tour Dates

July 8 (today) @ The Muffin
Interview and giveaway.

July 9 @ Book Santa Fe Crystal Otto
Crystal J. Casavant-Otto shares her review after listening to the touching and inspiring memoir Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.

July 10 @ Lisa Buske
Lisa Buske reviews the Audible version of Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss by Shirley Melis.

July 11 @ Bring on Lemons with Tara Forst
Wisconsin mother and business woman Tara Forst shares her thoughts after listening to the inspirational audible version of Banged-Up Heart by Shirley Melis.

July 12th @ BreakEven Books
Today's Author Spotlight at BreakEven Books is on Shirley Melis and her memoir Banged-Up Heart - now available on Audible!

July 13 @ Bring on Lemons with Angela Williams
Angela Williams reviews Shirley Melis's Banged Up Heart.

July 14 @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen
Educator and Entrepreneur Cathy Hansen reads and reviews Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis. You'll want to stop by Bring On Lemons today for your chance to learn more about this touching and encouraging memoir (now available on Audible).

July 15 @ Lisa Haselton
Shirley Melis is being interviewed today by Lisa Haselton. Stop at Lisa's blog to learn more about Banged Up Heart, a non-fiction, memoir (now available on Audible), about finding the courage and strength to love again.

July 16 @ Bring on Lemons with Madeline Sharples
Fellow memoir writer Madeline Sharples interviews Shirley Melis about her book Banged Up Heart. (now available on Audible) Don't miss this heart felt interview about courage and love.

July 17 @ Jerry Waxler
Coach and Author Jerry Waxler shares his thoughts after reading Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.

July 18 @ Deb Blanchard
Teacher Deb Blanchard gives insight into "Banged Up Heart" the touching memoir by Shirley Melis (now available on Audible).

July 19 @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Don't miss today's interview between memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro and Shirley Melis. Find out more about Melis and her memoir Banged Up Heart (now available on Audible).

July 20 @ Bring on Lemons with Penny Harrison
Wisconsin business owner and avid reader Penny Harrison shares her thoughts and feelings about Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart (now available on Audible).

July 22 @ Memoir Writers Journey with Kathleen Pooler
Kathleen Pooler shares her thoughts with readers of Memoir Writer's Journey - find out what Pooler has to say about reading Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.

July 23 @ Bring on Lemons with Pang Papathopolus
Wisconsin professional caregiver and health care worker Pang gives her review of the Audible version of Banged-Up Heart by Shirley Melis.

July 24 @ The Constant Story with David W. Berner
Author and radio personality David W Berner reviews Shirley Melis's book Banged Up Heart and shares his thoughts with readers at The Constant Story.

July 25@ World of My Imagination 
Nicole Pyles shares her review of Banged-Up Heart on Audible - hear what she has to say about this memoir in it's audio form!

July 26 @ Bring on Lemons with Michelle DelPonte
Michelle DelPonte shares her review of the Audible version of Shirley Melis's Banged Up Heart today at Bring on Lemons. Don't miss this exciting blog stop and book giveaway.


Enter to win an Audible copy of Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss by Shirley Melis! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget next Monday, July 15th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Shirley Melis said...

Crystal, I'm excited to be launching my audiobook blog tour with you. I so enjoyed our interview. I'm hoping others will be moved to LISTEN and let me know their reaction to the audiobook.

Thank you!


Angela Mackintosh said...

Oh wow, that's an awesome reason to create an audiobook, Shirley! I listened to the sample on Audible and love your narrator. She sounds amazing! Probably one of the best I've heard.
You've also shared some great tips on proof-listening that hadn't even crossed my mind--thank you! :) I love listening to podcasts and audiobooks when I go for my daily walks or while I'm oil painting. Because oil is such a slow medium, it's perfect for audiobooks.

Thanks for the fantastic interview, and good luck on your tour!

Shirley Melis said...

Angela, thanks for your good wishes. I'm happy to learn that you enjoy listening to audiobooks while you paint in oil or on your daily walks.

Wishing you the best,


Princess Seronica said...

It sounds very interesting. Thanks.

lilyk said...

What is your favorite food?

Mary Horner said...

Sounds like a great story!

Shirley Melis said...

To Lilyk who asked, What is your favorite food? On a hot day, a root beer float with vanilla ice cream!

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