Tagged Pulpwood Queens Book Club

“I do not know where I would be if I hadn’t read ‘Wreath'” — a new edition of a favorite book

A teenaged stranger wrote an essay about how a character in one of my books changed her life.

The new cover!
The new cover!

And this reader’s words helped change mine. Today I ask you to celebrate with me the result—a revised edition of “Wreath, A Girl.”

Fueled by this girl’s feedback and that of other readers—teens and adults—I’m launching a revised edition of “Wreath, A Girl” today. The book has a slightly different name (so readers won’t think it’s a Christmas decorating book) and a new cover. But it has the same message of resilience, perseverance and love. As part of today’s launch party, I’m giving away downloadable gifts when you buy the book. More on that here: http://tinyurl.com/WreathSpecialOffer

The Wreath Willis Series

And this revised version paves the way for the second Wreath Willis novel to release in spring 2015!

More moving words from the reader

The teen reader who inspired me said she was failing four out of eight classes in the eighth grade and had been told she would likely be held back from high school. In an essay contest on www.stageoflife.com some months ago, she wrote:

“It was soon after this when I started reading ‘Wreath,’ a book about a teenage girl who lost her mother and was doing everything she could to avoid going into foster care and still get a scholarship into college. She led a miserable life for a few months, living in a junkyard and working four hours a day in addition to school. However, she also had to learn to ask for and accept help when she was in desperate need.

… Wreath taught me to never let others decide what my outcome was going to be, but also to never be afraid to ask for help.

Wreath inspired me to believe in myself and do all that I did. She is the reason I got straight As that semester and could go into high school with my friends.

To be honest, I do not know where I would be if I hadn’t read ‘Wreath.’”

This essay reminds me of the power of stories. I love writing novels that show how we can make it through hard times and how we all need a little help along the way—exactly the kind of novels I like to read, by the way.

I have to thank the wonderful Pulpwood Queen Book Club, the largest meeting book club in the world, too, for naming “Wreath” a Teen Book of the Year. And my 13-year-old granddaughter, who mentioned earlier this year that she had reread Wreath “and fell in love with her all over again.” And then there is my dental hygienist who emailed me to say she had recently gone back to Wreath, moved again by this story.

I hope you’ll order “Wreath, A Girl,” help this new edition get off to a great start–and get the free gifts (an assortment of creative things you can download easily, from me, author Lisa Wingate, fantastic mom food blogger Jessica Maher and Monica Carter Tagore at Rootsky Books). The celebration offer: http://tinyurl.com/WreathSpecialOffer Or take a look at the book, in paperback or e-book formats: http://tinyurl.com/Wreath-A-Girl.

During December, a portion of all sales will go to help homeless children–very much like Wreath Willis–here in North Louisiana. I hope that Wreath will find a home in your heart and guide you over a rough spot. Or maybe show you how to help a friend.

Win this print by Louisiana artist Don Cobb
Win this print by Louisiana artist Don Cobb

And let me hear from you. Has a book ever helped you through a tough time in life? Leave a comment for a chance to win a special framed print of VW vans in a junkyard, just like the one where Wreath lived for nearly a year. The painting is by Louisiana artist Don Cobb. I’ll draw at noon CST, December 8.

10 Reasons This Novelist Is Smiling

Here’s the thing: I’m a not-famous, middle-aged Southern storyteller who has never made the New York Times bestseller list and who still works another job. My office is a wreck this week.photo 1 - Copy (8)

My name didn’t shoot up on the Amazon “Movers & Shakers” list when my eighth novel released, I haven’t been interviewed by NPR or CNN, and I wish that new top I bought was more slimming.

But I’m smiling.

The professional book world is full of frowns about the future of publishing, but perhaps it has taken its eye off that most wonderful of gifts: readers.

As a novelist and book columnist for the local newspaper, I experience every day a zest for books from readers of varied ages and professions and geography, ordinary folks who appreciate books, who yearn for good stories, who are generous with their time and money and encouragement. Who love to talk about books. Who feel passionately about what they like–and don’t like–to read.

Want to know what makes a good book? Ask a reader.photo 2 - Copy (9)

With the launch of “Magnolia Market,” I was reminded again that writing novels is all about you, the reader. Partaker of stories. Dissector of plots. Appreciator of words. Encourager of sometimes-anxious authors who wonder if anyone will read their new books.

Many readers celebrated the new novel with me in person (see photos for a taste of launch-party fun) and online. You give me numerous reasons to smile, and this list comes with a confession:

I love people who love books.

10 Things That Make Me Smile

1. Visiting. Being a writer, a seemingly solitary profession, brings me together with smart, funny, generous people. In a world torn apart over many issues, books unite us. People from all phases of my life pop up—from childhood friends to people I’ve only recently met.

2. Book-club cheerleaders. Several clubs were represented at the launch of “Magnolia Market,” including members of the East Texas chapter of Pulpwood Queens, who drove 50 miles for the party. Each of these clubs is filled with readers who have calmed my nerves on this writing journey.photo 4 - Copy (6)Magnolia Market Launch Party 2photo 3 - Copy (7)

3. Librarians. It’s a special honor when people who have worked around shelves of books all day take time to come by and celebrate or to recommend my books to patrons (a fancy word for “readers).

4. The realization that the joy of reading crosses all ages—from 3-year-old great-nephew Truett to Miss Mamie, well into her nineties and excited to win the “I  Books” mug door prize.

5. Early morning emails on release day from around the country saying pre-ordered e-copies arrived. Everyone’s busy as the day begins, right? And yet readers take time to say, “It’s here!” A small gesture that packs a lot of emotion.

6. The blogger who wanted me to know that her 5-star review posted on Amazon the day the book came out. Reviews shouldn’t matter, but they do. The number of Amazon and Goodreads reviews help authors. Thank you for taking time to post a paragraph.

7.Early feedback from readers who stayed up late to finish the book the day they got it–and emailed to ask about the next book in the Trumpet and Vine series. Big smile. (And will Kathleen and Avery’s father get together? Stay tuned.)Magnolia Market final cover 10.24.13

8. Presents. Yes, presents. Here I am, asking readers to give up time and money, and they bring gifts—from homemade
fudge to a smiley-face balloon and cute notepad to a “Yay! Books!” magnet. Amazing.

9. Bookstores that offer a place for readers to gather and celebrate, with a special smile for the Shreveport, Louisiana, Barnes & Noble, a friend to authors and the community.

10. The folks out there promoting reading and literacy. Volunteers from Common Ground, a nonprofit that helps improve literacy in a poor urban neighborhood, gave hours of their time to tell readers about their efforts at my launch party. In turn, readers donated educational items and B&N offered a percentage of sales for this cause.

Worried about the future of books? Not me! Readers will see us through—and for that, I smile and say thanks.

What do you think about the future of books? Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of “Magnolia Market” and my favorite small “Read” notebook from a bookstore in Denver. I’ll draw at noon CST on Oct. 1.

P.S. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, hope you’ll take a look: http://www.amazon.com/Magnolia-Market-Trumpet-Vine-Christie-ebook/dp/B00H6XM2NC/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=
Magnolia Market promo banner

Meet the Pulpwood Queens: Serious book lovers who don’t take themselves too seriously

Picture a big room full of exuberant readers who talk about books with affection.

Yes, that's Pat Conroy and me waiting tables.

Yes, that’s Pat Conroy and me waiting tables.
The wonderful Kathy L. Murphy, head queen.

The wonderful Kathy L. Murphy, head queen.

Add a few feather boas and a hefty number of tiaras.

Put some of the nation’s best-known authors at the microphone.

Add a major costume party. live streaming film

That’s what East Texan Kathy L. Murphy pulls together each January in what has become an epic book festival, held regionally and talked about nationally. And I’m delighted to be on the program again in 2015, this time discussing “Magnolia Market.”

Early-bird registration open

Early-bird registration for the 15th annual Pulpwood Queens Girlfriends’ Weekend, moving to Nacogdoches, Texas, for 2015, closes October 1, and I hope you have this on your book-loving radar. (Details below.)

I met Kathy a half-dozen years ago at a Shreveport book festival. She has since become a friend and the only person who can talk me into dressing up like a fried-green tomato or Reporter Barbie or a circus cotton-candy seller–for the love of books. After a divorce, Kathy relocated her Jefferson, Texas, Beauty and the Book Shop to a small salon in Hawkins, Texas, and is moving the annual book festival, too.

She chooses the book-club’s reading list and festival authors with care: “I look for a story that is well written, from a perspective I have not heard before, it has to be discussable… I love to help first-time, first-book authors get discovered.”

Fellow authors Marybeth Whalen, Lisa Wingate, Carla Stewart and yours truly.

Fried-Green-Tomato fun: Fellow authors Marybeth Whalen, Lisa Wingate, Carla Stewart and yours truly.

The festival sprang from her book club, which she founded in 2000 and fiercely shepherds, “where tiaras are mandatory and reading good books is the rule.” Girlfriends’ Weekend has drawn such authors as Fannie Flagg, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café;” Pat Conroy, “The Great Santini” and “The Prince of Tides”; and John Berendt, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

The interaction between readers and writers at Girlfriends’ Weekend takes on the feeling of a family reunion. It begins on a Thursday evening with an author dinner, where authors wait tables and attendees receive signed books. Friday and Saturday are filled with author panels, book-signings and readers chatting about favorite books. The event wraps up with a costume-party extravaganza, the “Hair Ball.”

Kathy and her members are on a mission to promote authors, books, literacy and reading—and have “some big time fun” while they are at it. “We are changing the world for the better, one author, one book, one book club member, one chapter at a time by reading and sharing our wonderful reads.”

Are you in a book club? I’d love to hear about your club and what you’re reading. Please leave a comment.

To register: Pulpwood Queen Girlfriends Weekend book festival
January 15-18, 2015
Nacogdoches, Texas
Who can attend: Anyone over age 21. The gathering is not for women only, but usually the only men who attend are authors. “We welcome all to join our book club, regardless of race, color, religion, gender or the fact they may have had cosmetic surgery or color enhanced hair,” Kathy says. “We come to this event for a time-out from all the stress and worry of normal life; it’s our escape to book-lovers’ paradise.”
Nearly 50 authors will speak, including Bill Dedman, author of “Empty Mansions.”
Early-Bird weekend-package: $350 for non-members of Pulpwood Queens Book club; $250 for members. Discount ends October 1. For a menu of registration options, see www.beautyandthebook.com.
Pulpwood Queen Book Club lifetime membership: $25

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Magnolia Market final cover 10.24.13Don’t forget: “Magnolia Market,” my 8th novel, releases September 23. Join us to celebrate from 5-7 p.m., September 23, at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Shreveport, La. You can pre-order “Magnolia Market” at: http://www.amazon.com/Magnolia-Market-Trumpet-Vine-Christie-ebook/dp/B00H6XM2NC/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=