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4th annual Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club: Happy reading!

Summer reading
Great photo from a “Magnolia Market” reader!

Greetings from the green kitchen couch–where my summer to-be-read stack is still quite tall!

This is our 4th year for the Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club — another excuse (as though we need one!) to talk about what we’re reading. So, what’s on your bedside table? By your beach chair? On your Nook or Kindle or iPad?

I’ve had great summer writing adventures and have been reading along the way — from an excursion to Colorado (and a visit, of course to Tattered Cover) to a train ride from East Texas to Chicago.

Most recently I read “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon–an unusual choice for me because I rarely read time-travel novels. I heard about this book, the first in a series, several years ago on Twitter, bought an e-version on sale (it’s still $1.99 as I write this) and read it on the train trip to a wedding.

The premise is immensely creative, the characters larger-than-life but oddly believable, and I learned a lot about Scottish history. The book made me reflect on advancements through the centuries. I enjoyed it–although I don’t plan to read others in the series because I have so many other authors I want to sample.

If you like G-rated books, be aware that “Outlander” has some pretty intense–sex and violence–scenes. They didn’t bother me but I don’t want you to be caught off guard.

Has anyone else read it? What do you think? (Or watched the TV series?)

More book talk for summer:

** I decided not to read “Go Set a Watchman,” which I’ve written about in my upcoming book column in The Shreveport Times (runs each Thursday). Main reason: I don’t care to read an unedited manuscript, unless it’s my own. If I were a Harper Lee scholar, I’m sure I’d feel differently. Would love to hear if you’re reading it and what you think.

** Thanks to all who are awaiting “Wreath, In Summer,” the second Wreath WillisWreathInSummerFINAL-Amazon (1) novel, written and in production. A release date will be announced soon, I promise! I can’t wait to share this next installment of Wreath’s story (sneak peek at cover to the right); she has many adventures during the weeks after high-school and must make tough decisions about helping others or staying on the sidelines. Her almost-boyfriend Law is back, along with Faye, Wreath’s newly-discovered grandfather, an intriguing teen and the child in his care–and a host of not-so-nice people!

If you haven’t read “Wreath, A Girl,” Adobe Photoshop PDFfirst in the series, I hope you’ll take a look before the new book comes out. And if you’ve read, please leave a review on Amazon. Really helps!

** Thanks to all who ordered “Magnolia Market” after a Book Bub special over the weekend. It’s been fun to watch this book rise in Amazon rankings and hear from new readers discovering this second book in the Trumpet & Vine series.Magnolia Market final cover 10.24.13

Your turn! Let us hear what you’re reading this summer. Any recommendations? Leave a comment for a chance to win a Starbuck’s gift card and a fun journal! I’ll draw at noon CST July 31. And congrats to booklover MA of Shreveport, La., who won our last drawing!

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Might this be the right time to write your book?

I’m thrilled to announce that “Sweet Olive,” my seventh novel, will be published by Zondervan in Fall 2013. (The picture you see here may look like an ordinary notebook – but it’s a paper copy of the manuscript, submitted on October 1!)

“Sweet Olive” is fiction with a Louisiana flavor, the story of what happens when oil-and-gas troubleshooter Camille Gardner meets up with a small-town group of folk artists. This novel is the beginning of the Trumpet & Vine series.

As you may know, when I turned 50 (nearly six years ago), I promised myself I would finally write the novel I had planned to write for years. I encourage those of you who have dreamed of writing a book to sit down and write.

In a recent blog for Writer’s Digest, I discussed my No. 1 tip for becoming a multi-published author: Develop a writing habit to put words on the page – instead of only dreaming about one day writing a book. Here’s that post: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-no-1-tip-of-successful-writers.

Perhaps you have a “what if” story running around in your brain. Maybe you want to write a nonfiction book about something you are passionate about.  Or, maybe you want to write a collection of letters or lessons for your children or grandchildren.

This is a great time of year to sit down and write. November is the month when novelists around the world come together to write the first draft of their novels. For more information and lots of inspiration, see: http://www.nanowrimo.org/

If November doesn’t work for you, set a goal to get started before the end of this year or before your birthday – or whatever works in your life. I’ve found that if I plan to write, I’m more likely to write.

Buy a notebook or journal and jot down the topic of the book, ideas, possible titles. Or make a file on your computer. List the steps you will take to get your words on paper. It’s not always easy to find time to write, so you have to make it a priority.  But your perspective is unique and can bring something to the world that no one else can. You can do it!

What book is tucked away inside of you? Have you ever wanted to be a writer? Leave a comment, and I’ll draw for a collection of books on writing and other tools (including a giant green pen!) on Monday, Oct. 22 at noon CST.  If you’d like a free copy of writing tips, e-mail me at judy@judychristie.com.tips dan trik android

P.S. Have you read “Wreath” yet? This is my sixth novel and it was a recent finalist for the ACFW Carol Awards. A very fun celebration! http://www.amazon.com/Wreath-ebook/dp/B005LOR2E2/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

So many books, so short a summer

Three months ago, we sat down on the Kitchen Couch to begin our summer of reading together – the first ever Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club.

Now, with Labor Day gone, I have to say: So many books, so short a summer.

I have had a great time talking about books with you and suggest we keep on reading together.  How about a year-round Kitchen Couch Reading Club?

A few things I learned during the summer book club:

** The next best thing to reading a book is talking about books. I’ve loved the passion with which you discuss books. It truly has felt like we were sitting around visiting.

** I’ve shifted my reading somewhat after  hearing from y’all. I’m looking at different kinds of books with new eyes. Your enthusiasm has made me dive into new authors and put a dozen more books on my to-read stack. I’ve also had a great time “recycling” books to blog readers. (I took the attached photo at a cafe in Seattle and am trying to think of a way to encourage more book sharing. Ideas?)

** When I asked about e-reading or not e-reading, you answered quickly: Both!  E-books are a way of life for many readers, but lots of folks read paper and digital.

** Many people re-read favorite books. The comments on this topic were among my reading surprises of the summer – lots of you have favorite books you read again and again. One of the books mentioned most often: “Lonesome Dove.”

** One of my favorite reads of the summer was a collection of essays by the late Nora Ephron: “I Feel Bad About My Neck.” I loved this book! I still haven’t gotten to the biography of Eudora Welty that I intended to read, but I will. Plus about 100 other books …

** I’ll add other topics to the blog and try to post more frequently. I hope to see you on the Kitchen Couch this fall! (And your “membership” certificate will be available soon!)

 What was your favorite book this summer?  What are you reading these days?

P.S. Congratulations to the reader who received a signed copy of “Downtown Green,” book 5  in The Green Series.  I’m still reading “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” but will draw a name from those who leave a comment and send it as soon as I finish.

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Do you have a summertime “play” list?

“Summer afternoon — summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” — Henry James

◊◊◊

When I was a kid, summers were eagerly anticipated, full of weeks spent at my cousins’ house in southeast Arkansas, trips to the library and the city pool, and Vacation Bible School.

Friends and I stayed out in the yard playing Kick the Can until it was so dark we could not see each other and moms up and down the street were calling for us.  Our games were punctuated with catching fireflies.

Add more playtime to your to-do list

The Henry James quote in today’s post makes those memories flit around in my mind on this hot Louisiana day.  With summer more than half over, it’s time to revisit my summertime “play” list and make time for more fun.

I want to enjoy the early sunrise and take a long walk in the park before the day gets hot. I want to sit in the porch swing in the late evening and chat with my family. I want to lie on the Kitchen Couch and read Suzanne Woods Fisher’s new novel, “The Haven.” (That’s my latest read in the Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club.)

How about you? What’s something you loved to do during childhood summers? Can you slow down and have some fun before school starts and the busy fall schedule begins? Any good books to tell us about?

 Post a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of “Wreath,” my Young Adult novel,  just named a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award (my first time to final in any fiction contest)! And congratulations to a Georgia reader who won a signed copy of “The Guest Book” by MaryBeth Whalen and “Downtown Green,” 5th book in the Green Series, in this week’s blog drawing.

P.S. If you haven’t read my Green Series, “Gone to Green” is free today (July 24, 2012)  on Kindle, Nook and other e-reader sites. http://www.amazon.com/Gone-Green-Series-Abingdon-ebook/dp/B004GHNII4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1339177720&sr=1-1

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Vacation heaven: 8 bookstores in 14 days

Southern tourist Judy on a cool summer day in Friday Harbor, Wash.

On a recent anniversary trip to the Pacific Northwest, I unhurriedly wandered through eight bookstores in fourteen days – my idea of vacation heaven.

I couldn’t wait to get back to the Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club to tell you about my discoveries.

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Visiting bookstores while traveling brings me much happiness. Even though reading on my Nook is convenient, it can’t equal the pleasure of wandering the aisles of a bookstore, not sure what I’m looking for until I see it.

One of my delights is discovering a great old book about writing on a back shelf somewhere, and I’m happy to report that I bought a half dozen or so on this trip.

At Griffin Bay Book Store in Friday Harbor, I carefully chose a new copy of the novel “Maine” by J. Courtney Sullivan as one of my vacation reads. As the clerk rang it up, she told me it was one of her favorite reads of last summer.

There’s something special about chatting about books in a store and carrying the physical book from park bench to ferry ride. I finished “Maine” in the Atlanta airport on my way home and recycled it to our daughter for her opinion. (Have any of you read “Maine”? I’d love to know what you thought.)

Books are, to me, better souvenirs than snow globes or back-scratchers, and when I pick them up, I recall the great Book Lovers Books Exchange on Whidbey Island or Ophelia’s Books in Fremont or Elliott Bay Books in Seattle or Serendipity Books in Friday Harbor.

Bookstores — discovered during years of roaming – are among my favorite travel destinations, including the unique and wonderful Beauty and the Book in Jefferson, Texas; Dark Horse Books in Driggs, Idaho; and the tried-and-true Half-Price Books on Northwest Highway in Dallas.

How about you? Do you look for bookstores on your travels? New or used?

Leave a comment for a chance to win one of my favorite used books about writing or a signed copy of “Wreath,” my Young Adult novel.  I’ll draw for those on July 15 at noon CST, and I’ll also draw at noon CST July 2 for a signed copy of “Downtown Green” and a recycled copy of “Off Season,” another book about a place a family gathers regularly through the years.

P.S. Would love to know what everyone’s reading as we move into July!

The Joy of Choosing a Book: Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club

I finished my first read for the Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club — also the first novel I’ve ever bought based on a Twitter recommendation. The book, “I Couldn’t Love You More” by Jillian Medoff, was recommended by author @JenniferWeiner.  I read it on my Nook and was glad I did, a good start to my summer reading.watch full film In the Heart of the Sea

Choosing that book, amidst the many books I already have on my to-read list, reminds me of one of the great joys of reading — choosing what to read next. I’ve already learned from our fellow members of the Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club that I’m not the only one with a stack of books to dive into.

With dozens of unread books – shelved, piled by my bed and waiting on my Nook – something causes the next book to rise to the top. Picking that book offers a moment of joy, an excitement at digging in and seeing what awaits.

A few ways I choose what I’ll read next:

** Recommendations from friends. I still remember a friend calling and telling me I had to read “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” I bought it in hardback at an airport on the force of her enthusiasm.

** Wandering the aisles at the library. Even though I buy many books, I love to check books out of the library. I choose a mix of fiction and nonfiction.

** Roaming through bookstores – both new and used.  While I own an e-reader, I enjoy flipping through the paper pages of a book.

** New releases from favorite authors. I keep an eye out for new books from a diverse group of writers. My list is long but includes Lisa Wingate, Jane Green, Suzanne Woods Fisher and Jennifer Weiner. I read both mainstream and inspirational fiction.

How do you decide what to read next? How did you choose the book you’re reading? Leave a comment, and I’ll draw a winner on June 11 and send a “Dream Big: Read” T-shirt and a signed copy of “Downtown Green,” the fifth novel in my Green Series.

Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club winners already: Readers on the East and West Coasts of Florida and in Texas won free books, which are in the mail.

Keep reading! Judy

P.S. If you haven’t been to Green yet, “Gone to Green,” my first novel, is free today on Kindle and Nook. http://www.amazon.com/Gone-Green-Series-Abingdon-ebook/dp/B004GHNII4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1339177720&sr=1-1