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

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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.Allegiant 2016 streaming

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).live streaming movie The Discovery 2017 online

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.live streaming film Ghost in the Shell 2017 online

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.Justice League Dark movie download

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