Reading Will Take You To Unexpected Places

Marybeth Whalen (far left) reading at except of her novel at Kathy Patrick's "Girlfriend's Weekend."

A few weeks ago I had the distinct honor of being a guest at Kathy Patrick’s Girlfriends Weekend. As a new author I was humbled and amazed to be on a panel with the Texas Poet Laureate and Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. If you’ve been near a bookstore recently, chances are you’ve seen this novel on the bestseller shelves. The Girlfriend’s weekend is a festival of all things reading, with the focus being on the beautiful, amazing stories being created by beautiful, amazing writers. I got to hear Fannie Flagg, Pat Conroy, Jamie Ford (author of Hotel At The Corner of Bitter and Sweet) and Jeannette Walls (author of The Glass Castle and Half-Broke Horses) speak about their writing. And I got to witness these authors connecting with the readers who’ve been touched by their stories.

Kathy Patrick also invited Christian authors like Judy Christie, Nicole Seitz, River Jordan, Shellie Tomlinson, Carla Stewart, Deeanne Gist, and Lisa Wingate. These ladies are talented writers who love God and love storytelling. In the coming months, you will most likely be hearing from them all in some form or another because trust me– they’ve got a lot to share! I was proud to be a guest amongst such esteemed writers, and awed to be a part of what Kathy Patrick has created. Kathy has a heart for harnessing the power of story and using it to change lives. I saw that power in the face of the woman I met who had never read a novel before her daughter thrust one in her hands and said “Please read it.” She did and hasn’t looked back. Now she’s not only a voracious reader, she’s also a voracious promoter of books amongst the women in her sphere of influence, posting reviews on Facebook so her friends will get hooked too! Or the high school class who gathered to honor Jeannette Walls because they’d read her memoir The Glass Castle. Jeannette Wells cried as their teacher said many students who had never read a book before often read past the assigned reading because they enjoyed the book so much.

Stories are powerful. If you’re a regular visitor here, you probably come because you know that. If you’re just checking all this out, we invite you to stay, to pick out a book that looks good to you (we’re announcing our February pick very soon!), and see for yourself what a story can do. A friend of mine who rarely reads fiction called me the other day to tell me she was enjoying a book I had recommended. “I find myself wondering about the characters during my day,” she said. “I keep  thinking about  how they are, what they’re doing.” That’s what good fiction does– it stays with you. And– if you’re like Kathy Patrick’s Pulpwood Queens– it might just inspire you to travel to a tiny town in Texas to spend time with the people who create the stories you’ve loved.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

3 Responses to Reading Will Take You To Unexpected Places

  1. Beth Ann Reinert January 27, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    I teach high school English at an alternative school, so the majority of my students are not big readers. However, I’ve learned that if I can get their “just right” book into their hands – there is potential for that child to become a reader. The power of the written word is amazing, and it speaks to so many of us. Perhaps that is why our Father provided his word? I don’t know; just a thought.

  2. Elizabeth Richardson January 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    I have loved reading since I married 28 years ago. My husband in a voracious reader and I started reading because of him. Thank you for the insight into writing books. I love it when an author tells us how she got the idea for the story or the research that the story needed. I also like that here I can learn more about the different types of Christian fiction. I really like both kinds. Sometimes I need a light story to relax me and then other times I really want a story that will teach and challenge me in my walk with God.
    Thank you and may you continue to be blessed for the work you do.

  3. Melanie Chitwood January 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    Marybeth – Thanks for sharing this amazing experience!
    Looking forward to more great books from She Reads!
    To Beth Ann – I , too, taught English at an alternative high school. I remember that same feeling of being fulfilled when a student read a whole novel for the very first time!

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