Tagged Writing

“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.

From middle school teacher to National Book Award finalist

A couple of summers ago, my husband, pre-teen granddaughter and I had one of those near-perfect vacation evenings in Los Angeles. Sitting on a patio on a lovely night, we visited with friend John Corey Whaley, who had moved to California to follow his writing dream and was writing his second novel, “Noggin.”

A California visit with Corey Whaley
A California visit with Corey Whaley
Former Louisiana teaching colleagues lined up for the release of "Noggin"
Former Louisiana teaching colleagues lined up for the release of “Noggin.”

The book, he told us, would be about a teenage boy who volunteers to have his head cryogenically frozen and wakes up five years later attached to another teenager’s body–a story about letting go of the past and coming to terms with the way people change.

Talk about change!

Corey’s fantastic real-life story gives “Noggin” a run for its fairy-tale money.

This week “Noggin” was named a Young Adult finalist for the National Book Award.

Corey, a friend since his days as a middle-school teacher with my husband, is one of the hottest young adult novelists in the United States.

He gave up teaching English and has become a discussion topic in those same classes. He writes with an offbeat spirit and deft turn of phrase. Reviewers mention his “oddball” and “madcap” style–and his unique ability to connect with readers.

His debut novel, “Where Things Come Back,” is a Southern story about a missing teenager in Arkansas and the reappearance of a thought-to-be-extinct woodpecker, a la the Ivory-billed.

That novel, released in 2011, changed Corey’s life. It won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction and the William C. Morris Award for Debut Young Adult Fiction.

What he’s learned since writing his first book:
“I’ve learned to be more patient with myself–that sometimes I need a lot of time to develop characters and ideas and that writing a book isn’t about racing against the clock, but about making sure the story I want to tell is the one I take the time to actually put down on the page.”

Surprises in the writing life:
“I think the biggest surprise about being a full-time writer is how unbelievable other people find it–always asking ‘that’s all you do?’ But I always explain that it’s the only thing I’ve ever been very good at, so it’s the only thing I can do.

Advice to someone who wants to write a novel:
“Just write it already–if you have the right idea and the talent, the book will happen for you the way it’s supposed to. It’s true to write what you know, but also don’t be afraid to research what you don’t know for inspiration. And just know that every writer/author has to edit and change pretty much everything he/she writes, so there’s no perfect first draft–don’t beat yourself up trying to write one.”

How about you? Have you ever followed a dream? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

More Dog Days of Summer: An author & her four-legged “helpers”

Ane dog 2Ane's dogsFriend Ane Mulligan, who writes Southern fried fiction, is a must for a Dog Days of Summer chat on the Kitchen Couch.
Ane has a new novel and two dogs of, as she says, biblical proportions.

About the dogs

“Shadrach was our first English mastiff. He was a cute puppy, but as he grew, we got concerned about his ancestry…Shadrach is half marshmallow. When the hubs bought him a new bed, he was afraid of it and wouldn’t sit on it. So Hubs laid down on it. Shadrach sat on Hubs.” Shadrach is 8 years old and weighs 220 pounds.
“Hubs and Son decided we needed another mastiff. I said, ‘Absolutely not!’ Absolutely not’s name is Oliver Twist… He’s either slobbering or he’s in the water. We’re pretty sure he’s half porpoise.”

“Chapel Springs Revival”

Ane’s novel, “Chapel Springs Revival,” will be out September 8, and it’s a small-town, big-hearted story that Anne Chapel Springs Revivalreflects Ane’s quirky humor and wonderful voice. I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy and felt like I was visiting people I’d met before:

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.

If you are thinking of writing a book

I’ve turned to Ane for encouragement and feedback many times since setting off for Green, Louisiana, in my first novel several years ago. She’s a world-class encourager! If you’re considering writing a book: “Don’t think – do. If you’ve got the gift of storytelling, then go for it. The best tip I can give is look for each character’s problem. They all have one. Play journalist and interview them until you find it.” Ane is also president of the award-winning literary site, www.NovelRocket.com, which is full of excellent writing information.

More about Ane

Ane has worn many different hats: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama Ane mugdirector, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and, of course, her dogs. You can find her at www.anemulligan.com, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

How’s your summer reading going? Are you wrapping up and heading into fall? Leave a comment, and I’ll draw at noon CST on August 29 for an early copy of “Magnolia Market,” my next novel, also out in September. If you want to pre-order “Magnolia Market,” it’s available at your favorite booksellers, including:http://www.amazon.com/Magnolia-Market-Trumpet-Vine-Christie/dp/0310330572

Why TFIOS is a star of a story

Jaden Fox and Gracie Shahan TFIOSWhen we took our 13-year-old granddaughter on vacation recently, she wore a T-shirt with author John Green’s picture and the word “Pizza” on it.Gracie Pizza John
You know…just in case there were any fellow nerdfighters around.
Hang around teen readers for a while. You’ll understand inside jokes like “Pizza John,” “French the Llama” and “DFTBA.” And you’ll see the sizzle that “The Fault In Our Stars,” courtesy of its energetic, enthusiastic and even encouraging author, creates. http://johngreenbooks.com/
“TFIOS,” as its fans call it, is about teens Hazel and Gus who meet at a cancer support group and fall in love.
This book ignites an exuberance among young readers that is contagious. It continues to dominate bestseller lists, two years after it was published. The film became the summer movie that entertainment reporters like to point out beat Tom Cruise at the box office.

Why I like it

This novel shows that stories can still grab hold of readers—no matter how much moaning about violent video games and TV-watching we do, how much we fret about the demise of books, no matter the gender of the author or the genre or what publisher is at war with what distributor.
A good story captures the imagination, evokes emotion, even builds community.
For those who say TFIOS is too mauldlin or contrived, I beg to differ, having watched granddaughter Gracie’s best friend, Jaden, fight lymphoma just as the book came out. One minute, it seemed, Jaden and Gracie were hamming it up in costume at a New Year’s Eve party. The next photo I got was Gracie visiting Jaden in a hospital room.

A teen cancer patient’s perspective

TFIOS helped both Jaden and Gracie navigate this treacherous terrain, as patient and friend. Here’s what Jaden told me:

“At the beginning of the book, Hazel is going through a dark time and that’s exactly how I felt while I was reading the book. I felt like John Green had taken all the emotions that I was feeling and wrote them as a novel … I loved how he showed that it’s not all wonderful after treatment and you are depressed. And it is a big struggle to get over that and go to a support group to get help. TFIOS raised huge awareness toward teens with cancer.”

In a startling (and thrilling) turn of events, Gracie and Jaden met Green and the film stars in Nashville, which showed another layer of this author, what seems to be a kind heart.
“It was insane,” says Gracie. “There were so many screaming girls.”
“Did you scream?” I had to ask.
“Yes, I screamed a lot.” Although she confesses that when she met the author and stars, “I sort of froze up. We were paralyzed with shock.”
The movie features Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff–and it mattered to Gracie that they care about the story. “I think they’re genuinely nice, and that makes me happy,” she said.
If you’re looking for a good Kitchen Couch Summer Read, don’t write this one off as too young or over-hyped. And sure it’s sad. It’s about two kids–who you really like–who have cancer. But it also has a lot of quirky humor and good twists.

Remember “Love Story”?

The novel took me back to high school, when I latched onto “Love Story,” a romance by Erich Segal that was also funny and tragic. If you’re of an age, you likely remember it, the bestselling work of fiction in the United States in 1970. It was made into what is considered one of the most romantic movies of all time (starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw) and gave us the oft-quoted (and oft-mocked) line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

It’s been fun to watch Jaden and Gracie and other young reader friends grab every John Green book they can find – and talk about them with the intensity of an MFA honors lecture. I imagine that when they’re my age, they’ll still feel a twinge when they remember the summer of John Green.

I see this as another leg on their journey to being lifelong readers.

That makes this Kitchen Couch Reader smile.

Have you read “The Fault In Our Stars” or seen the movie? Do you read YA novels regularly? What are you reading during these warm summer days?Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of “Wreath,” my YA novel about a girl who lives alone in a junkyard after her mother dies. http://www.amazon.com/Wreath-Judy-Christie/dp/1616264527

Authors at Work: How they do it

Consider a job where you sit around and make things up. You stare into space. You hit the delete key a few thousand times. You stare into space some more. You cry when someone who exists only in your mind is hurt. You take notes in church, at lunch, before you drift off to sleep at night…Typewriter photo for blog

One of my favorite topics to discuss with book clubs and other authors is the writing process. Friend and super author Suzanne Woods Fisher, www.suzannewoodsfisher.com, invited me to take part in a blog tour about this subject, and I invited author friends Carla Stewart, www.carlastewart.com, and Lisa Wingate, www.southernbelleview.com, to chat too. Eager to hear your thoughts and suggestions about how authors work!

My Writing Life

What am I working on?

I am preparing to send “Magnolia Market,” my 8th novel, into the world—an exciting and scary time. The official launch is on September 23, and you can pre-order it now. http://www.amazon.com/Magnolia-Market-Trumpet-Vine-Christie/dp/0310330572 Advance Reader Copies are going out from HarperCollins Christian Publishing for reviews (gulp!) and giveaways (fun!), my book “tour” dates are being lined up (including a party at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Shreveport, an appearance at the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge and a spot at Pulpwood Queens Girlfriends Weekend) and I’m working on a new novel.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Louisiana is full of characters—and I don’t just mean the kind you find in books. I love living in Louisiana—and writing fiction with a Louisiana flavor. My home state makes an enticing backdrop for almost any story. I hope my southern voice, as a native of the Mississippi Delta and longtime Louisiana resident, shines through in compelling ways.

Why do I write what I do?

As a reader, I’m a fan of southern fiction, so it feels natural to pull together strands of life around me in my novels. My first seven published books were nonfiction, but I switched to fiction when I turned 50. When I read, I enjoy what I call life-affirming novels, and that’s what I want to write—books where, despite tension along the way, things work out in the end.

How does my writing process work?

I’m a binge writer who dreams of becoming a slow-and-steady writer. In addition to writing fiction, I have a lively consulting business, so I usually block off days to write and pound the keyboard like my friend Virginia plays the piano! Once I choose a novel project, I make a timeline and give myself a deadline, step by step. This is not unlike cooking a big meal when various things go into the oven at different times. I am somewhat addicted to books about writing and always pull them out to inspire me as I write.

How Other Authors Work

One of my favorite people and an outstanding writer is Oklahoman Carla Stewart. See her post on her process at www.carlastewart.com. Carla is the award-winning author of five novels and her affection for times gone by shines in her books. She takes readers back to that warm, familiar place in their hearts called “home.” I love Carla’s voice and settings. Her brand-new book is “The Hatmaker’s Heart.”

Suzanne Woods Fisher, writer of awesome Amish fiction and nonfiction, chats about her process at http://suzannewoodsfisher.com/blog/page/2/l Yes, she writes in her laundry room. Her new book is “The Revealing,” due out in July, and she’s adjusting to a newly-retired husband as she writes her next book. Suzanne is truly a sterling wordsmith.

And watch for next Monday’s post by best-selling Lisa Wingate, one of my writing heroes, at http://www.southernbelleviewdaily.com/ Congrats to Lisa, whose book “The Prayer Box” has gone into its 4th printing. And she has a darned cute dog called Huckleberry, who will be featured here one day soon, I promise! Working out the details with his agent.:)

How about you? Any questions or comments about the writing process? Would love to hear from you. Leave a comment, and, while you’re at it, update us please on your summer reading. Please check out books by each of these great writers for your summer list!

P.S. Congrats to Lindy A. of Ohio, who won one of the early copies of “Magnolia Market” as part of of our Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club fun!

3rd Annual Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club: Book talk & prizes

Magnolia Market final cover 10.24.13Memorial Day has come and gone, and you know what that means: You can wear white shoes again. And it’s time for the 3rd Annual Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club.

(Truly, I think you can wear white shoes any time nowadays—you’d do better to trust me on book advice than fashion advice.)

Why is it that summer feels like the best time to pile up a fresh stack of books, head for the porch swing, the hammock, the kitchen couch or any favorite spot and read? Do we give ourselves permission to read more in summer? What do you think?

I visited not long ago with a book club in South Louisiana to talk about my novel “Sweet Olive.” A member told me she hadn’t been a reader until a friend invited her to join the club. “It was the best decision ever.” I hope you, too, will love reading even more after our summer club.

So if you’re a Kitchen Couch regular or a newcomer who loves books, join our low-key, friendly bunch and read with us this summer; bring your own book club along if you like. Read whatever you like and chat about it.

As always, there will be FUN prizes – including—I’m excited—EARLY proof copies of “Magnolia Market,” my next novel that releases in September. (It’s available for pre-order: http://www.amazon.com/Magnolia-Market-Trumpet-Vine-Christie/dp/0310330572)

Let’s get started, summer readers!

** What are you reading right now? Do you recommend it?

I just finished a Louisiana classic—“The Moviegoer” by Walker Percy, a challenging book that captures the feel of New Orleans in a haunting style. The book won the National Book Award in 1962, beating out “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller and “Franny and Zooey” by J.D. Salinger. This time I lingered over this novel, although I had started it years ago and put it down, unfinished.
Moviegoer cover for column and blog June 2014Definitely not a book to read when you’re sleepy, it’s a complicated, deliberate read. I marked many notes in the margins and plan for this one to stay on my shelves a long time. Percy does a wonderful job with metaphors and draws comparisons in ways that help you see what he is writing about. Have you read it? What do you think? (A couple of friends told me they did NOT like it!)

My next summer book will be lighter: “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, a 2011 release that has been on my to-read stack for months. I’ll keep you posted.

What are you reading? Leave a comment, and I’ll draw for a signed advance copy of “Magnolia Market” at noon CST this Friday, June 6.

Happy summer reading!

P.S. Print your free “I Love Books” membership certificate from my newly redesigned website – and, showing how laidback we are, everyone gets to be a charter member: http://judychristie.com/Certificate_Judy-Christie-Kitchen-Couch-Summer-Reading-Club.jpg

P.P.S. I’d be thrilled if you’d consider “Sweet Olive” for your summer reading list. http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Olive-Trumpet-Vine-Christie/dp/0310330548.

With love from a book launch

Judy at book signing Sept 24 2013The work of a writer is often solitary, months spent putting nouns and verbs together, inventing towns and making up people to talk to.

Then book-launch week arrives, and that sometimes lonesome life goes very public. The nervous author and the brand-new book jump into the world, ready for readers to have a look.

This experience, I confess, is both exhilarating and terrifying, filled with so much fun and a frightful case of nerves. These are the intense days when I hope extra much that a story I love will find its way into the hearts of readers.Louisiana cookies photo

Last week was launch week for “Sweet Olive,” my seventh novel, and I owe gratitude to so many of you–readers, family, friends, my publisher (Zondervan), booksellers, other writers and my terrific agent. The success of a book depends on the kindness of many, and I am richly blessed.

When I became an author, I decided that every book deserved a party–refreshments, prizes and an out-and-out celebration. I intended it as a thank you to readers, but it has become a time when readers enrich my life in ways even chatty me finds hard to describe.

The “Sweet Olive” party was held at the Shreveport Barnes & Noble Booksellers and included a book fair for Common Ground Community, a nonprofit in a North Louisiana neighborhood, an opportunity to share the joy of books with others. More than 100 guests came to greet “Sweet Olive,” and we made lots of noise as we laughed and visited. We ate  cookies shaped like Louisiana to celebrate fiction with a Louisiana flavor (see photo) and drew for prizes that included a sweet olive shrub.

To celebrate with blog visitors and other online readers, I collected an assortment of prizes, from pralines to an iron fleur d’lis to locally-made Camellia Coffee to signed copies of “Sweet Olive” and drew from your comments. Readers from all over the country won.

When I write a novel, I hole up for a while (I didn’t leave my neighborhood for nine days in August while finishing my next novel). When I read a book, I burrow up on the green couch, savoring quiet time.

But books are public as well as private. We recommend the ones we like. We collect them and show them off in bookcases in our homes. And we gather with authors to celebrate.

That fills my heart and makes me eager to sit down and start that solitary walk again. Thank you, all, for making the launch of “Sweet Olive” such a sweet time.

photo-6Have you ever been to a book-signing or to hear an author speak? What led you to do so? Are books public or private to you? Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of “Sweet Olive.” I’ll draw at noon CST on Friday, Oct. 18. If you’re interested in reading,”Sweet Olive,” here’s more info:http://judychristie.com/sweet-olive.html

A summer’s worth of reading

Blog photo September 2013The calendar says the official start of Autumn is just ahead and the unofficial end of summer is just behind. No more white shoes or seersucker and time to put the Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club away for another year.

WAAAAA!

It feels like I’m just getting started on my summer to-read list!  How about you?

I loved chatting with you about what you read during the summer, and the conversation gave me extra energy as I worked on my newest novel (more on that later). I had fun drawing names for prizes–signed books and and miscellaneous book-loving goodies.

But, darn, it went too fast.

As I think about what I read during these hot Louisiana months, it reminds me  that what I’m reading says a lot about what’s going on in my life. With part of the summer of 2013 spent writing a book, I found myself reading more nonfiction than fiction.

Why did I do that?

1)  To focus on my own story: Like most of you, a good novel draws me to another world and can put me in a different mood. I feel like I know the characters, and I begin to think about them. Thus, when writing a novel, I need to think about my own characters (confession I like them!) and don’t want to be influenced at that moment by the tales of others.

2)   To learn to write better: I pick up numerous books on writing when I’m in the midst of a manuscript. These help with craft and technical issues and inspire me to keep improving as a novelist. This summer I read lots of books on writing.

3)  Creative inspiration. I read nonfiction books to give my creative juices a boost–such as a book on Southern decorating or on nature journaling. This summer I indulged in multiple trips to the library here in North Louisiana and wandered up and down the rows, pulling out random books that caught my eye (see photo for examples).

4) Travel on my mind. I enjoy books on places I want to travel or am planning to travel. ( I surprised my husband with a trip to Glacier National Park for our 21st wedding anniversary, so read a book on Montana. A great trip!)

5) A hunger for something totally different. I checked out “Lean In,” for example, because it is a topic that interests me (women as business leaders), and it was completely different from the book I was writing. The Sandra Brown novel was a book-on-CD that I got for a road trip and didn’t finish … so I checked the book out and read the ending (exciting but not for the faint-of-heart).

How about you? What did you read this summer? What book was your favorite?

Leave a comment for an opportunity to win one of the very first copies of my new novel Sweet Olive, releasing September 24 (Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing). I’ll draw at noon CST on September 20.  http://tinyurl.com/Sweet-Olive

Keep reading, and we’ll visit on the kitchen couch–summer or no summer!
P.S. If you’re near North Louisiana, join us for the launch of Sweet Olive, 5-8 p.m., September 24 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Shreveport. We’ll have refreshments,  door prizes and a book fair to provide books for the library at  Common Ground Community, a great program in the Cedar Grove neighborhood in Shreveport.

10 Reasons To Visit A Library This Summer

imageThe first place I drove when I got my license as a teen was to the public library. The cool, quiet rows of books still enchant me — especially in summer when I think of the fun I had in the children’s reading club at my neighborhood Shreve Memorial branch in North Louisiana.

With the Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club under way, how about a field trip to a public library for a dose of pure book joy?  Stepping into a library is magical, not knowing exactly what you’ll find but knowing it will be something good.

(I ran into a friend at the library recently, and she said she’d rather go to the library than on a clothes shopping spree!)

I’ve explored a variety of libraries this summer and have a stack of books checked out, including: “Kitchen Privileges” by Mary Higgins Clark (enjoy reading about writers); a book on National Parks for vacation planning; “Nature Journaling” by Clare Leslie & Charles Roth (journaling tips); “Writing for Your Life” by Deena Metzger and “Writing Life Stories” by Bill Roorbach ( I want to write a memoir some day about growing up in Louisiana); and “Let’s Get Comfortable” by Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams and “American Farmhouses: Country Style and Design” by Leah Rosch (decorating books are my guilty pleasure).

While I am a huge fan of books stores (new and used) and own hundreds of books, I make regular trips to a medley of libraries for the sheer pleasure of the books and the hum of bookness that you just can’t beat — all free.

Ten reasons to visit a library this summer:

1. To discover new titles. Even though I keep up with book releases and bestseller lists, I always find other books I want to read. Browse any shelf, and enjoy what catches your eye.

2. To borrow books to see if you like an author’s style or themes.

3. Inspiration. You’ll see people reading everything from reference volumes to magazines, and I can’t help but be inspired by the power of the written word to speak to unique individuals.

4. To indulge special interests. For example, I love to read home decorating books and appreciate the variety at area libraries. If I find a book I particularly enjoy and want to own, I add it to my “to buy” list.

5. For the host of activities, ranging from children’s story times to teen projects to adult book-club discussions and movies.

6. If you’re a creative sort, a visit to a library makes a wonderful “artist date,” to quote author Julia Cameron. You’ll often see art exhibits or innovative displays featuring a theme, such as the one of fairy houses I saw recently in Caddo Parish. Or you’ll learn about a new subject.

7. When you’re traveling, a library offers a glimpse into the culture of a different community — what books are up front, what the library looks like, who’s on hand soaking up stories.

8. To pick up audio books for car trips (I do this every time I have to drive somewhere alone) and DVDs for hot evenings and weekends.

9. Libraries are wonderful places to catch your breath, the perfect hurry less and worry less environment.

10.  Air-conditioning! For those of us who live in hot spots, the cool feel of the library is a refreshing contrast to the heat outside.

No matter what your reading tastes, consider a trip to a library — and be sure to say thanks to your librarian for putting the world of books at your fingertips.

Thanks to the many of you taking part in our Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club. Leave a comment to participate: How’s your summer reading? What was the last book you checked out?  Do you have a favorite library?

Comment for a chance to win a collection of  “I Love Reading” goodies (that I look forward to rounding up)! I’ll draw July 26 at noon CST. Congratulations to Carol H. of Florida, who won our first Kitchen Couch Summer Reading Club prize of the year, a signed copy of “Sweet Dreams” by the terrific Carla Stewart and a $25 gift card to Starbucks.

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.

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