Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Mel Starr is G! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This week is Judy Christie is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Judy’s latest book, The Glory of Green, leave a comment on this post!
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
I was the editor of my elementary-school newspaper and grew up to be a journalist, was the Louisiana champion typist in high school, have a porch with a swing behind my office, went to the White House for lunch with Nancy Reagan, saw John Glenn come back from space, and once got a black eye playing putt-putt golf.
Married to a fun middle-school teacher with a fantastic granddaughter who lives too far away but visits often.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
At age 50, I committed to write “Gone to Green,” the novel I’d wanted to write for years, and this month the third in that series, “The Glory of Green,” was released!
I enjoy fish-out-of-water stories where an engaging character changes the world around her and, in the process, is changed. The Green Series (Abingdon Press) is about a big-city journalist who winds up running a small-town newspaper in the fictional town of Green, La.
This fall, “Wreath,” my first Young Adult novel (with Barbour) will be out. Wreath is a 16-year-old girl determined to finish high school despite the death of her mother, and she winds up living in a junkyard. I guess all authors say this, but I love this story!
My nonfiction “Hurry Less, Worry Less” series is aimed at helping busy people slow down and enjoy each day more. In addition to writing, I lead workshops and retreats on this topic.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I can’t ever recall not loving books, paper, pencils, and words. I started keeping a journal when I was nine — and still have all of them. As a journalist, I wrote and edited for many years. I thought about writing a novel for decades. I carry a notebook everywhere and love jotting down ideas.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
My first novel sold in less than a year as part of a three-book deal, which was definitely a great day! In one of those divine ways that life works out, my first novel coincided with the launch of the insprational fiction line by Abingdon Press.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
Camp Slower Pace, a shabby fishing camp on Lake Bistineau in Webster Parish, La., is my best get-away spot to write. It has indoor plumbing, a great view and no Internet.
I’m still trying to find a good writing rhythm, but have figured out that my best writing comes when I set aside blocks of time on my calendar instead of dashing in and out.
A good, long walk helps my creativity. Louisiana in spring is a sight to behold!
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
Step One was to quit talking about writing a novel and write it. The guidance of my retired agent, Etta Wilson, was invaluable in helping prioritize my book ideas and helping me focus.
Another tremendous blessing was attending an American Christian Fiction Writers conference, where I realized how much I needed to learn and met so many wonderful writers who are generous with their advice and wisdom. I’ve also been encouraged immensely by author and entrepreneur Kathy Patrick, who started the Pulpwood Queens Book Club and is a champion for books.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
I still fantasize about sitting at my computer, trim and fit in some cute casual outfit, sipping hot tea and contemplating the mysteries of life. I’m more likely in sweats with a cold cup of coffee, staring out the window and thinking that someone needs to rake the leaves.
As a writer, my joy erodes when I endlessly think I should be writing but do all sorts of other things instead, so I’m trying to be more consistent about writing and not feeling guilty when I don’t write.
Being given the gift of words is way more than I could ever have hoped for, and even today I nearly hugged the UPS guy when he delivered early copies of “The Glory of Green.”
What are your biggest distractions?
I like to visit! I love my family, friends, readers, church congregation, waitresses, grocery store clerks. I get together regularly with my elementary school friends (the Barret Girls) and have an annual retreat with my buddies from Baylor University (FunFest Friends) and talk to my first cousin on the phone and send cards to our granddaughter and text my brothers and …
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
A highlight was when my first novel, “Gone to Green,” received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.
A very sad time: My dear friend Alisa, my first reader on every book I’d ever written and a great editor and cheerleader, died suddenly a month before I submitted “The Glory of Green.” I still miss her, and her elderly mom is coming to town for my book launch party.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I get very attached to the characters I create, and I have to love ‘em (or hate ‘em, if they’re the villain), or they gotta go! I love Lois Barker, the heroine in the Green Series, and Wreath, the main character in my new YA novel.
I’m an optimist, and I try not to whine about being a writer (OK, except to my husband and my friend Lenora Worth, a NYT bestselling romance novelist). Lots of people have tough jobs — like our plumber, roofer, and the waitress at my favorite café. With that disclaimer, I’d say one of the challenges for me is juggling the solitary part of writing with the public part.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
Get an agent! I can’t imagine navigating the world of book-publishing without an agent to advise, coach and sell. My first agent was Etta Wilson, who just retired, and my new agent is Janet Grant, both of Books & Such Literary Agency, and each is wonderful and committed to helping me take my writing to the next level.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Sit down and write. Prioritize your projects, and get started. Make a timeline and stick to it. Remember that every day is a new day.
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
If you like small-town inspirational stories, I think you’ll love the characters in the Green Series, who are always up to something!
(By the way, I’ve actually recommended my books to shoppers before — and to a woman waiting with me to have a root canal.)
What’s on the book horizon for you?
“Rally Round Green,” book 4 in the Green series, will be out this summer, and “Wreath,” my first YA, is out in the fall.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
As mentioned, I love visiting! My website: www.judychristie.com. And I’m on Facebook.
My books are available just about anywhere you buy books, and if you can’t find one, e-mail me and I’ll help track one down for you.
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)