We’re proud to announce our reader review event for The Attractiveness of Wisdom by Judy Kelly. Read the reviews of this romantic Christian novel and our interview with the author. Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of the book as well!
First, about the book The Attractiveness of Wisdom:
After a tumultuous marriage and a struggle trying to keep it together, Hamilton, a university dean, sets out on a perilous emotional journey to change his life and seek the love he’s always wanted. He has tried to control his life and the lives of others. Hamilton meets Franny, a troubled dance teacher, and accepts her job offer of organizer in her studio. When Franny injures her foot, Hamilton must step out of his secure place to help. His trepidation increases when he meets a research journalist who falls in love with him. But her life isn’t what it seems. He fears controlling her, and after her convent life, she needs his love.
Will Hamilton wise up and learn how a man truly loves a woman, the value of friendship and the need for prayer?
The Attractiveness of Wisdom is a Christian literary fiction, heart-warming, enthralling novel with endearing and unforgettable characters.
Publisher: Black Rose Writing (November 2021)
What WOW readers said:
“This is a heart-warming, Christian, literary fiction novel with endearing characters. The value of friendship and family are important themes in the book. So many people get divorced nowadays that we don’t often stop to think how that impacts all the parties involved. If you like books that make you think about your life and how you’re living it, then I would recommend this book.” ~Michelle Cornish
“What a charming book! This is about a man who learned how to let go and let God. Hamilton starts out struggling with losing control after the falling apart of his marriage. He then has to take a sabbatical from work for health reasons. He ends up helping out a woman running a dance studio and that eventually leads him to Emma. What a transformation! This is a heart-warming tale of love and learning to change your own ways. I absolutely recommend it. It’s a worthy, unforgettable read.” ~Nicole Pyles
“This is quite an exploration of a personality in need of transformation. Hamilton starts out as very controlling. He thinks he knows best and tells others how to do things, including his wife. That turned out to be a disaster and led to a divorce. Even when he takes a sabbatical from his university position and works in a dance studio, he thinks everything should be done his way. “The novel follows Hamilton’s experiences as he learns the damage his attitude has caused. This novel is his story of learning he can’t control everything. He ultimately, though very reluctantly, comes to find God is in control. He has the healing experience of finally loving another while letting go of his controlling attitude. “Kelly has given readers a touching story of possible romance. It is also about loss and how people make their way through it. Primarily I think it is about coming to grips with letting God have His way, shown through the life of Hamilton. Kelly’s writing style is straightforward and easy to understand. The plot moves at a consistent, methodical pace. This novel would appeal to readers who like a novel centered on the events experienced by one man as he learns to let go of control in order to experience love.” ~Joan Nienhuis
“This book recounts the spiritual journey of a middle-aged man through divorce, parental relationship epiphanies and new love. I so appreciated the authors skillful way of painting a love scene that was tender, passionate and not graphic. I felt that the inclusion of the spiritual side of these characters gave the story greater depth. I would recommend this book to my daughters and friends.” ~Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas, M.Ed.
“Such an interesting romance! Definitely reminded me of some personality traits in myself and others – I enjoyed the storyline and did some self-reflecting along the way!” ~ Crystal Otto
“What makes wisdom attractive? The ability to listen definitely helps. So does the release of controlling behaviors. In Judy Kelly’s The Attractiveness of Wisdom, Hamilton is divorced from a woman who considers him too controlling. He doesn’t even know he’s acting that way as we see in his interactions with his children, who love and tolerate him and a group of dancers who aren’t nearly as polite. Everybody has their own way of doing things, and his is not always the right way, a lesson he faces repeatedly as the book progresses. There are some good plot points moving the story forward and the look at romance, where things went wrong, and second chances, will help those involved in a relationship with a shaky partner. Author Judy Kelly has picked a subject with a great deal of potential. Despite a few proofreading glitches this story can open a reader’s eyes to the power of letting go.” ~B. Lynn Goodwin
About the Author, Judy Kelly
Writing has been a passion of Judy’s as far back as she can remember. In her early teens, she wrote stories in notebooks and when she finished one, she went on to the next one. When she wasn’t writing, she was reading. The fact that a person could write something down, and it could be written in a book for others to read and enjoy, and these books were housed in a place called a library, really fascinated Judy.
After earning a Master’s degree, and while she earned the ED.S., Judy taught students who were fourth and fifth grade learning-disabled students. The reading books that were required for them were the same for the general education population, but during that time, there was a tendency of some teachers to implement a different curriculum for children who were learning-disabled. These strategies were designed to improve the students’ learning ability so that they could learn to read, write and do all the things the general education students were doing. The problem was that the program was a year long, and year after year, the students got farther and farther behind. So, Judy ditched all that and taught them reading, and all the other things that the general education students were learning.
When Judy’s students began their reading program, they hardly knew any words. She used to tell them stories that she would make up on the spot that were designed to help them with vocabulary, comprehension, and the other concepts they needed to learn to read. They asked her if her stories were written down. She went home and wrote some stories for them and those stories were used in place of the books. That was when Judy began to look at writing as not just something to write and tuck away. The students were enjoying the stories and she could see that she needed to take writing seriously.
One day her students told her that her stories sounded like “the real stories in a real bookstore.” That was the beginning of her writing career.
—- Interview by Nicole Pyles
WOW: Congratulations on your book! What inspired you to write this book?
Judy: As a healing prayer minister, I encounter people who want prayer for their emotional, physical, or spiritual life. Something happened to them in the past and they want to make a change in their lives. They come for prayer, and we pray. Prayer is the beginning. There is no magic to prayer; we pray a special prayer and puff, you’re a changed person. Prayer doesn’t work like that. Prayer is ongoing with change.
Years ago, I realized I had a poor self-concept. To protect myself from condescending words and attacks from the people around me, I built a wall around myself. I kept people away from me. At work or at school, when it came time for employees and teachers to work with a group on a project, I was never chosen. I would be invited to things that everyone was expected to attend. I can’t tell you the number of activities I was left out of, even when people made plans in my presence. Over the years, I could have turned into someone hateful and mean. I wanted to push people away and they went away. This continued before I got tired of it. I prayed for help. I wanted and needed to make a change in my life. With God’s help (and He still helps) I made a change from someone no one wanted to befriend to someone people love.
Now, I believe if you don’t like who you are, then change. I did. But you can only do that with God’s help, and it does not happen overnight, though I often wished it could. I have worked my way back to being someone more human, someone people can talk to, learn from, and enjoy. Me, my inspiration came from my personal experience.
WOW: I believe the same as well. Change is only possible with God! Are you a planner or a “pantser” when it comes to writing your book?
Judy: When I read a story, I look for the story beneath the story I read on the page. Some stories don’t have that story beneath the story. So far, including The Attractiveness of Wisdom, all three novels have a story beneath the story on the page. When it comes to planning or pantser, I do what’s needed. For this story, I had to be a planner. Since the novel is Christian Literary Fiction, it must be written according to the conventions of Christian fiction. It must contain the Christian way of life and show love. I needed the reader to see how change can occur. I start with a character who is flawed. Everybody I know has flaws, and based on that, I can say that most of us have flaws. People can relate to someone who is flawed, but I also wanted people to see that Hamilton is much like the readers; he also has good qualities. Hamilton believes he must control his life and the lives of others.
Hamilton ended up in a dance studio trying to teach dance because that environment would be exceedingly difficult for someone who is trying NOT to control. In an artistic world, people use their own skill and abilities to accomplish a step, a stroke on a canvas or lyrics. I knew it would be difficult for him. In the studio, the reader could see him trying to make a change. But that was not all I wanted to bring out in that dance studio. Hamilton met a couple who had been together for years. He saw the couple make mistakes, get upset with each other but they continued dancing. I wanted to represent marriage through the couple. He saw why they were together for so long and thought about his marriage and how they were so broken. He met a woman who taught him how to be a friend and just listen when she needed it and offer help when she needed it. Again, he thought about his marriage and how he really didn’t listen and the help he offered was more of an effort to control her life. He saw a person in trouble and without asking, tried to help her. When she turned him away, he pushed harder until she finally gave in. In her, he saw what it looks like to control a person. This made him think about his marriage and how he controlled his wife. In a Christian world, when one is called to help someone, that person receives the help they need at the same time. I tried to make that happen in the dance studio.
Even though it seemed like people just dancing, for Hamilton I wanted the dance studio to be more for him. As the reader sees Hamilton grow, each of the three women he meets, teaches him something.
WOW: I love how you look for the story underneath the story. What has it been like to publish with Black Rose Writing?
Judy: I like this publishing company very much. The people in the company that assist during the publishing process are great. The owner does his homework, finds out about marketing tools, and brings us the newest marketing opportunities, such as WOW. I try to take advantage of as many as I can, but even with a discount, it can be difficult. I highly recommend Black Rose Writing.
WOW: That’s awesome! You have such good character development in this book. What is your technique to build such strong characters?
Judy: Characters are not props. My characters are not actors in my mind. I think of my characters as “real” people. They are whole and alive and have experiences. They have jobs. They have their likes and dislikes. They may have something to hide. They have feelings and can get hurt or they can be the people who hurt. Each of my characters has their own backstory. Backstory is what makes a person, so backstory is what I give to my characters.
WOW: That really helps create fully complete people, not just names on a page. Christianity is such a core element of this story and I love how it guided your character in his actions. How does your faith guide you in your writing?
Judy: The title, The Attractiveness of Wisdom, comes from the Bible. In the Bible, Wisdom is a lady. In the story, Hamilton’s change came from his interactions with women. Each of the women offered him a new way for him to see himself and caused him to change. The title represents the good or positive that comes from being wise and doing for yourself what you need. I also prayed each day before I began to write and asked for His help in crafting this story. You see, this is not just my story.
WOW: That is so amazing! I loved reading that you are a teacher! How does teaching influence your writing?
Judy: I wish I could say that I influenced my students. After all, I am the teacher. But the truth is, they have influenced me. I began writing because my 4th and 5th grade students in my class told me that my “stories sounded like the real stories in a real bookstore.” They were in a program where they were to learn thinking skills. I wanted them to learn to read and think. They had not developed their reading skills and when I went to get them 4th and 5th grade reading books from the book room, I found they could not read. I made up stories for them. They enjoyed the stories and really got involved with the characters and they loved the setting. They read those pages so quickly, I had to write increasingly and write faster to keep ahead of them. By the end of the school year, they were reading on 4th and 5th grade level. This was the beginning of my writing career and almost every time I write, I think about those students who didn’t want to learn to read but couldn’t get enough of my stories. They asked me to publish the book.
When my high school students found out I was writing and wanted to get published, they wanted to read something. I had them read a short story I was working on at the time. They gave me help with it. I took their advice, and the story was much better. After I began teaching at a college and completed That Ever Died So Young, one of my students asked me if I was the same person whose picture they saw on the back of a book in the college’s bookstore. My college put my book in their bookstore. Almost all of the students bought the book. One student asked me if I was aware of the number of themes in that book. The students read the book and gave me a list of themes they found in That Ever Died So Young. They said they really enjoyed the story and I had to sign their books.
WOW: I love how your students support you! What do you hope readers take away from reading your book?
Judy: I would like my readers to see what I had to do for myself and realize they can do the same thing, if they need to. Many times, I see people who need to make a change in their lives, but they think they don’t need to. We can be better people. I continue to improve myself and I want to have a relationship with my Father in Heaven.
I want people to see the value of family. When parents divorce, they think that there is no longer a family. What about the children? They need to see that they still have a mother, father, siblings, in other words, a family. The family may look differently, but the parents who created their children out of love are still family, even though separated.
Put the children first. We saw that in The Attractiveness of Wisdom. It’s the job of the parents to keep the children mentally healthy, especially during a divorce. The kids are watching and are likely to repeat what they see and hear if the parents aren’t careful. The most important value I want readers to take away is what someone said about the novel. “This novel is about love.” Indeed, it is. Hamilton didn’t have to do what he did in the dance studio with Franny. But he did. He did it out of love. He did many things in the novel out of love, and we certainly saw how that love impacted his children, especially his youngest son.
WOW: Thank you so much for your time today! We hope everyone enjoys reading your book!
***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****
Enter to win a copy of The Attractiveness of Wisdom by Judy Kelly! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends December 15th at 11:59 CT. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget the next day and follow up via email. Good luck!
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