From Booklovers

Life after the junkyard: Sequel to “Wreath, A Girl” releases today!

My new novel, “Wreath, In Summer,” releases today, December 1, 2015, and I can’t wait for you to read it.

Wreath-In-SummerThis is the second novel in the Wreath Willis series, the sequel to “Wreath, A Girl.” I wrote it after hearing from readers who wanted to know what happened to Wreath after high-school graduation. Turns out, Wreath has lots of adventures ahead.

After high-school graduation, Wreath is ready for a summer of fun. However, a mysterious young stranger needs her help—causing her to make tough decisions and putting her in danger. Paperback and digital versions are available on Amazon.com, right here.

Wreath’s story is for readers of all ages, from age 11 through adulthood.

The comments of early readers have made me smile. A sampling:

“Wow! You have topped ‘Wreath, A Girl’ with the new book. The growth of Wreath is amazing. You’ve captured so well the problems of kids in that transition between high school and ‘real life’–be it college or work….It’s a wonderful story.” – From a Book Club Member and avid reader

“What an adventurous story, filled with twists and turns…If you loved ‘Wreath, A Girl,’ hang on for round two! Just when you thought Wreath’s biggest adventures were behind her, she enters into a summer filled with romantic twists, heart-pounding adventures, intrigue…highly recommended!” –Bestselling author Janice Thompson, who has written nearly 100 books

“I loved being part of Wreath’s summer before college…This is a wonderful YA story but also a great read for adults…because there are times when we all need someone to help us do the right thing. I sure hope there is more of this adventure to come!” New York Times bestselling author Lenora Worth

Hope you’ll read “Wreath, In Summer” soon. Haven’t read “Wreath, A Girl” yet or need a teen gift? You can order it in paperback or e-book here.

And please consider posting reviews of “Wreath, In Summer” and “Wreath, A Girl” on Amazon.com and Goodreads and spread the word to friends and family. Reviews are one of the nicest gifts you can give an author.

If you’re in the North Louisiana area, we’ll celebrate “Wreath, In Summer” with a launch party and book fair on Monday, December 7, 2015, 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Shreveport. We’ll have refreshments and door prizes and visit about books! To give back to our community, B&N will give a portion of all sales to buy books and educational toys for children in need this Christmas–with the help of the wonderful Common Ground Community in the Cedar Grove neighborhood of Shreveport.

 

 

 

Reading-Photo Contest winners announced

How I loved all the entries! I planned on one prize but had to expand it to three. An independent judge chose the winners.

First-place winner: Girl on a train
First-place winner: Girl on a train

First place went to Carole J. of Calhoun, La., for a terrific photo of her friend reading on a train. The back story: “My friend Morgan T. and I were on our way to the village of Cruden Bay in northern Scotland. One of our favorite authors, Susanna Kearsley, set her novel ‘The Winter Sea’ at Slains Castle, which is just north of Cruden Bay. We took the train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and then the bus from there. It was a long day but worth the adventure. Slains Castle is a beautiful sprawling ruin full of history and character, bringing the novel alive before my very eyes.”
Carole chose a $50 gift certificate to Amazon as her prize.

2nd place: A friend, a book & a dog
2nd-place winner: A friend, a book & a dog

Second place went to Lorraine L. of Benbrook, Texas, for her photo of a friend at a lake house. Dog Annie added to the photo fun. These two friends were reading Jodi Thomas’ “Harmony” books on their e-readers.
Lorraine receives a $20 gift card to Starbuck’s.

3rd-place winner: Reading takes us away ...
3rd place: Reading takes us away …

Third place went to Kimberley M. of Hornbeck, La., for her fun photo of herself reading in the hammock in her back yard. “The book I was reading was called ‘Dancing on Shattered Glass.’ It’s a book set in south Louisiana and is about a girl that finds herself in an abusive relationship although she knows it’s not pleasing to God. Also her mother prays for her throughout the story.”

This was our first-ever Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Photo contest. Photos could be shot anytime, anywhere, and all are used with permission of the subjects. We read on trains, boats, in RVs, at the beach, in hammocks in our yards, on porches …and on the kitchen couch, of course!

Now, on to our autumn reading! Tell us what you’re reading. Leave a comment below and let’s talk books!

Summer-reading photo contest: Show us what you’re reading!

Friend Neil Johnson, usually behind the camera, reads a Jack London book on a family vacation in Maine. (Photo by Cindy Johnson)
Friend Neil Johnson, usually behind the camera, reads a Jack London book on a family vacation in Maine.
(Photo by Cindy Johnson)

I love photos of people reading.

To celebrate the 4th annual Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club, we’re having a summer-reading photo contest.

E-mail your favorite summer-reading photo to judy(at)judychristie.com. I’ll share some on the blog. One reader will win a $50 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble or Amazon–your choice.

Any summer reading/book photo qualifies. You don’t have to be on vacation—would love to see your children or grandchildren reading or a shot of a favorite spot to read. Be creative!

You have until after Labor Day–the unofficial end of summer.

Deadline to enter is 5 p.m. CST Wednesday, September 9. Let me know where the photo was taken and confirm that you took it or have permission to enter it.

Old summer photos are eligible, too. Can’t wait to see your reading pictures!

And, leave a comment to let us know what you’re reading as summer winds down. Happy end-of-summer and happy reading!

Want to write a book? Writing Workshop August 29

Back-to-school is a great time to start or finish your book idea. I’m excited to join author friend Shellie Tomlinson at a workshop on writing and publishing on August 29. I’ll share tips on how to write fiction, and Shellie will talk about nonfiction. We’ll gather in Lake Providence, Louisiana. The cost is $45. Would love to see you there! To register: Writing Workshop.

A Southern sense of place in stories: A conversation with Kimberly Willis Holt

As a reader and writer, I’m partial to southern stories. I live in Louisiana, a state full of so many tales that an author could spend a lifetime capturing them. Each of my eight novels is set in a fictional Louisiana town. So I particularly enjoy reading the middle-grade stories of author Kimberly Willis Holt, woven from her Louisiana roots.

Kimberly Willis Holt
Kimberly Willis Holt

Kimberly, who moved frequently as a child in a Navy family, considers Central Louisiana her “emotional home.” She draws on this setting and her Louisiana family’s gift for storytelling in each of her books—including her new middle-grade novel, “Dear Hank Williams.”

I first encountered Kimberly years ago at a book festival at the site of the iconic Louisiana Hayride where musical giants such as Elvis Presley got their start—a spot that plays a key role in Kimberly’s new book, “Dear Hank Williams.” (Sitting in the green room used by such musical stars offers a thrill all its own, but that’s a blog for another day.)Book Column Dear Hank Williams

“Dear Hank Williams” is set in Central Louisiana in 1948. Tate P. Ellerbee’s teacher has given her class an assignment–to learn the art of letter-writing. (As an avid letter writer, this is yet another thing I love about this book.) Tate’s chosen pen pal: Hank Williams, a singer she heard on the Hayride.

Kimberly has written such great novels as “My Louisiana Sky,” “When Zachary Beaver Came to Town” and “The Water Seeker.” She’s a National Book Award winner and has had her books made into movies. She pulls me in to stories with her keen sense of place and the emotions she evokes.

How she approaches settings

“When I’m writing a story, I want to make the reader feel like they are in the setting. That’s achieved by many layers–not just the way a place looks, but the way the people interact with each other, what they talk and care about, too.”

Her attention to emotional impact

“My emotions are close to the surface. I think that’s why I’m able to easily add that dimension into my work. I’m not interested in reading or writing stories that don’t explore the heart.”

Choosing ideas to write about

“When you get excited about the idea, so excited that it will hurt you if you don’t write it, it’s probably time. For me, the excitement comes when I hear the voice of a character speaking to me. Then I know it’s time.”

Coming-of-age stories (which I love)

“…Almost all my ideas are coming-of-age ideas. To me a coming-of-age story is a story about a young person who has to make an adult decision. In doing so, life is never quite the same.”

For more, including public appearances and advice for writers, see http://www.kimberlywillisholt.com.

Are you drawn to books with a sense of place? What sorts of settings appeal to you? Hope you’ll leave a comment.

And congrats to blog reader M.A. who won our April drawing for a collection of Louisiana Booklovers’ items, including a signed copy of the new edition of  my YA novel, “Wreath, A Girl.” And to e-newsletter subscriber A.R. who won 10 signed copies of “Magnolia Market,” my fiction with a Louisiana flavor, for a book discussion. Have you signed up for my e-newsletter? I announce new books and contests there and will never share your e-mail address with others: http://judychristie.us9.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=381f56b0d0227bce67e22f87c&id=70b82b1335

Shower friends with favorite books—and build your to-be-read list

Bride-to-be Megan Katie
Bride-to-be Megan Katie

Megan Katie, a community sustainability planner in Chapel Hill, has loved books her entire life—so friends here in Louisiana celebrated her upcoming marriage by adding to her library.

Guests brought favorite titles and received XOXO bookmarks as favors. They played book-themed games and drew for a bookstore gift certificate.

Wouldn’t it be fun to adapt this for any occasion — book parties for babies, for graduation, for birthdays or for Mom’s and Dad’s Day?! Or, how about a book-lovers’ brunch where each person gives a book and gets a book? (I want to give one of these parties!)

Book talk spans the years

A mom and daughter hosted Megan’s party. “I love to read,” Laura, who will be a bridesmaid in Megan’s wedding, said. “Megan and I have been sending book recommendations to each other since we were little.”

“I love that people gave her a very diverse set of books…Some brought classics or their all-time favorites.”

Guests shared quotes from favorite books. “That was fun too,” co-hostess Wendy said, “because people said, ‘What book was that in?  I want to read that.’”

Megan the Reader

The bride-to-be is a member of the “Best Book Club in N.C.,” a group of women “in their late 20s and early 30s who get together to gossip and chat about books.” She always carries a book “because I never want to be without one if I have the opportunity to read.”

Shout-outs for classics & newer titles

Megan: “Hands-down, favorite author is Agatha Christie. I’m considering naming my firstborn daughter Agatha.”

Laura: “I love fiction, anything with a good plot. My favorite classic is ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ by Alexandre Dumas. I also love the Harry Potter books, of course.” Her gift? “I wanted to give her something that I knew she hadn’t yet read, which wasn’t an easy task. I decided on ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ by Maria Semple. It has been my favorite read in the past year. I took it to the beach last summer, and I didn’t want to put it down.”

Mother-of-the-bride Carla, who gets more pleasure from reading than perhaps anyone I know, gave her daughter, “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.”  “My problem was that Meg and I share our ‘favorites’ with each other all the time, so I had to give her a relatively new book.  I had recently read this book and really enjoyed it.  It is about a bookstore owner; Meg and I both would love to work in a small bookstore.”

Wendy gave her all-time favorite book, “The Color of Water” by James McBride, the 2013 National Book Award winner. “It is a story of a woman whose love knows no bounds, combined with the respect, tenacity, values,  spiritual  discovery  and self-realization that she passes on to her children.”

Among the books given as gifts

“All The Light We Cannot See,” Anthony Doerr

“The Day After Tomorrow,” Allan Folsom

“This is the Story of a Happy Marriage,” Ann Patchett

“Yes, Please,” Amy Poehler

“Housekeeping,” Marilynne Robinson

“The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz

”The Giving Tree,” Shel Silverstein

“The Help,” Kathryn Stockett

“The Cape Ann,” Faith Sullivan

What book would you take to a book party and why? Leave a comment for a chance to win a Louisiana booklover’s collection of goodies, including a copy of the new edition of my YA novel, “Wreath, A Girl.” I’ll draw at noon CST on April 21.  For more on “Wreath, A Girl,” see http://www.amazon.com/Wreath-Girl-Willis-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B00VMPS2RA.

Congrats, too, to Annette R. of Shreveport who won my e-newsletter drawing of a set of 10 signed copies of  “Magnolia Market” for her book club or friends. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter (on my home page), hope you’ll do so!