From Reading

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.

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!

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!


An Author Friend & Her Dog During Dog Days of Summer

The Dog Days of Summer have officially arrived (yes, they really are a thing), bringing a perfect time to read on the Kitchen Couch–and an opportunity to introduce you to one of my favorite writers, Lisa Wingate, and her adorable dog and literary sidekick, Huckleberry.IMG_6051
Lisa is a hero of mine and a great southern writer. Huck makes me smile.

A free book

Lisa is the author of more than 20 books, including “The Prayer Box,” FREE now on Kindle, Nook and iTunes (to be read on one of your iThings). She’s an all-around nice person who writes “Fiction That’s Good for the Soul.” With a deft touch, she blends feel-good, inspirational stories with real-world challenges–always with characters you’d like to chat with.

“The Prayer Box” is about what happens when Tandi Jo Reese, running from a messy, dangerous past, is charged with the task of cleaning out an old-timer’s house on Hatteras Island. Tandi’s life changes when she discovers 81 carefully decorated prayer boxes from the life of Iola Anne Poole.

To download “The Prayer Box” for free for a limited time:Prayer Box cover (2)
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Prayer-Box-Lisa-Wingate-ebook/dp/B00CH7KXY2/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405455210&sr=1-1&keywords=prayer+box
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-prayer-box-lisa-wingate/1114893894?ean=9781414386881
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-prayer-box/id640268312?mt=11

Read more about Lisa at www.LisaWingate.com or take a look at her blog post with background on “The Prayer Box”– http://www.southernbelleviewdaily.com/its-a-belle-book-club-week-for-the-prayer-box/ Her next book, “The Story Keeper,” will be out in September.

Meet Huckleberry

And then there’s Lisa’s dog, Huckleberry, the real star of this post. He’d make me want to read her books even if she wasn’t a terrific writer. Named for Huck Finn, of course, he’s her literary companion, dogging her steps (so to speak) as she writes and providing needed chuckles when she takes a break.Lisa and Huckleberry

He’s the perfect pooch to kick off a little Dog-Day Reading in our Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club, don’t you think?

An aside on writing about dogs

While I don’t own a dog, I write dogs into my novels and get attached to them: Sugar Marie. Holly Beth. Kramer. And, of course, Mannix (the beloved 3-legged dog with a starring role in “The Glory of Green”).http://www.amazon.com/The-Glory-Green-Gone-Series/dp/1426700563/ref=tmm_pap_title_0 In my next novel, “Magnolia Market,” you’ll meet Willie and Howie.http://www.amazon.com/Magnolia-Market-Trumpet-Vine-Christie-ebook/dp/B00H6XM2NC/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid= To me, pets add another layer to how a character reacts–and they’re fun to name!

I also enjoy reading books with dogs in the plot. Romance Author Kristan Higgins comes to mind; each of her novels has a dog (or cat) with a starring role. For more on Kristan’s fun romances, see http://www.kristanhiggins.com/.

How about you? Do you like stories with pets in them? I’d love to hear from you–and to learn what you’re reading now that we’re in the middle of July. Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of one of Lisa’s books. I’ll draw at noon CST Friday, July 18. And stay tuned for more authors and their dogs (and maybe even a cat or two). IMG_5605

A gift of unexpected book art

Little freeSomeone I don’t know gave me a wonderful gift today.
As I meandered through a favorite North Louisiana neighborhood, a steady Spring rain fell. The trees were, as Southern author Eudora Welty once wrote, “a curtain of green.”
The cares of the world, including sadness at the death of two neighbors after painful illnesses, pressed upon me.
And then … there it sat. The gift. A tiny work of art that literally spoke volumes about how we’re to make the way lighter for others.
I climbed out of my car and stood in the rain to drink in the sight. A fellow book-lover was promoting the free exchange of books. I’d read about these libraries, even seen one or two.
But this one … a work of art.
The little structure is perfect in every way, from its shelves filled with colorful covers and interesting titles to the bird painted on the rain-resistant glass door.
I pulled a spare copy of my novel “Sweet Olive” from my trunk. (What? You don’t carry spare books in your vehicle?!) I reverently placed it inside and took after much deliberation–OK, as much as you can deliberate in a downpour–a Larry McMurty novel. I have read it but think my oldest brother will enjoy it.
Sitting at the edge of a stranger’s yard, this small collection of books reminds me that we can give to the world in unexpected ways. We can help someone who needs a smile, a kind word — or a good book to read.
It is as though the homeowner is saying, “All are welcome.”
And so it is with reading.
All are welcome.
Maybe we can help someone learn to read, or find a book they’re interested in or brighten a day with a happy story.
Thank you, kind stranger, for the gift of art. The gift of books. The reminder that we all are called upon to make the world a little brighter for those around us.

Would you like to build a little free library or learn more about it? http://littlefreelibrary.org/ Have you seen one or come upon an unexpected gift from a stranger? Leave a comment!

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A reminder: It’s almost time for our annual Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club where we chat about what we’re reading. More on that soon! And congratulations to winning readers as close as Shreveport, Louisiana, and as far away as Ohio and South Carolina. I’ve had fun giving away signed copies of “Sweet Olive,” “Hurry Less Worry Less” and a gift card to Barnes & Noble. More prizes ahead! And if you haven’t read “Sweet Olive,” fiction with Louisiana flavor, hope you’ll take a look as you plan your summer reading.http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Olive-Trumpet-Vine-Christie-ebook/dp/B00BW293BC/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400021525&sr=1-7

Celebrating the release of a new novel!

photo-6
Dear readers:
Sweet Olive, the first novel in the Trumpet & Vine Series, is here!
Not only is it shipping immediately from some sources, we’ll celebrate Tuesday, September 24, with a signing and book fair in Shreveport, Louisiana.
I’m thrilled to introduce you to this new community and a new group of characters.
MORE ABOUT SWEET OLIVE
What happens when a unique Southern town collides with the outside world and big oil?
Talented negotiator Camille Gardner must entice a group of rural Louisiana landowners to lease their mineral rights and, instead, finds herself drawn to the folk art created by those same landowners. Camille would rather be anywhere than Samford, Louisiana, the small southern town where she once spent the worst weeks of her life.
The charming residents and traditions of this small community leave Camille conflicted about her family obligations — and her own plans for the future. Perhaps she needs to give Samford a second chance.
Sweet Olive is published by Zondervan (HarperCollins Christian Publishing). 
What others are saying about Sweet Olive
(And I appreciate their kind words SO much!)
Publishers Weekly:  “The story’s fluid, Mitford-style pace perfectly matches the easygoing ambience of smalltown Louisiana. Fans of the author’s Green series will feel they’ve met new friends just down the road who share the same humidity, fragrance, and foliage that Christie so effortlessly recreates.”
Library Journal: “This tender romance (and new series launch) is blessed with a likable, strong female protagonist. As in her Green series (Gone to Green; Goodness Gracious Green) a Southern small town becomes a charming character in Christie’s able hands.”
Romantic Times: “Christie’s charming story has a cast that readers will remember long after finishing the novel. The characters were well-defined and well-written; they want the best for themselves even if it means turning their back on technology and continuing with their traditions. Christie is a talented author and her research in the field of drilling for natural gas while trying not to harm nature shines in the novel.”
***
Sweet Olive is a tender, romantic tale loaded with faith, hope, and heart.”
Lisa Wingate, National Bestselling Author of The Prayer Box and Firefly Island
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A new novel calls for prizes, right?  Just leave a comment below for a chance to win a great Made-in-Louisiana item (Camellia Coffee, pralines, Bayou Magic cooking mixes and more). No purchase is necessary to win–just leave a comment about why you enjoy reading. I’ll draw at 8 p.m. CST on September 24, release day.
 

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Thank you so much for all your encouragement on my writing journey.
ORDER IT ON BARNES & NOBLE!.
ORDER IT ON AMAZON!.
ORDER IT ON CHRISTIAN BOOK DISTRIBUTORS!.
And we’d love to have you celebrate the release of Sweet Olive, with us from 5-8 p.m. September 24, Barnes & Noble booksellers in Shreveport, Louisiana. Book-signing. Refreshments. Door prizes. A book fair for the Common Ground library in the Cedar Grove community. Hope to see you there!
Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a Louisiana item. I’ll draw at 8 p.m. CST on September 24,  release day.