07-14-18 Cassandra O’Leary

Saturday, September 17, 2016

On Writing Contemporary Romance

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nurture the soul.

I’ve lived a fairly long and varied life. I’ve had several different careers. The common thread in everything I’ve done is ‘education’ or ‘teaching’. From starting as a classroom teacher in my early twenties to now as an author, my goal is to share something I know about that may assist another person to create a happier life for themselves.

What a great first novel! Just finished reading Lily by Judith Ashley, and loved it. While romance is not a genre I usually read, I found the characters so interesting and well-developed that I was captured by the story, looking forward to what would happen next. As part of a sacred women’s circle myself, it was nice to recognize the supportive bond among the group of women, and to realize how that loving, spiritual bond helped Lily to grow through the difficult challenges of old fears. Now I am looking forward to reading Elizabeth, the next book in the series. G.G.

My time as a child protective service worker was a challenge but through it all, my focus was to support parents in being the best parent they could be. And, when that best wasn’t what the child needed, to find a home that did meet the child’s needs.

As an adoption worker, my goal was to educate the prospective adoptive parents about what to expect when adopting an infant or an older child. Challenges awaited them regardless of their direction. Their decision was to include which challenges would be easiest for them to handle.

Working in law enforcement (there were no corrections officers where I worked, we were all deputy sheriffs), I wanted the women in the jail where I was stationed to learn something that would be a positive in their lives when they got out. I set up and ran a program that allowed the women to make crafts and sell them at the local county courthouse after Thanksgiving. They always sold out!

I am one who finds it difficult to quiet my mind and body long enough to read a chapter or two in a book at one time. Judith Ashley’s Lily caught my attention in the first chapter and held it tight until the last page. I found myself wondering what character I would be in the book and responding as if I was a friend of the characters! Romance, personal growth, and a supportive spiritual circle…how can one not become wrapped into this book? KJ

For two years I worked in Public Welfare. My clients were anyone age 18 and older who was other-abled or over 65 or in a nursing or rehabilitation facility. With limited resources, learning how to use everything available in the best way possible to create the best lifestyle possible was important.

I was educating my clients and I was being educated at the same time. That education helped me establish myself as a case manager and guardian as well as an After Hours Emergency Responder for vulnerable adults.

Being an educator is part of who I am. It may not be in the job description, but I find a way to bring the knowledge I have to support others in creating a better life for themselves.

The characters and essence of Ireland leaped from the pages of this book right into my heart and mind. I could see and hear the characters and picture the surroundings. The author accurately represented the practice and spirituality of those who identify with the Goddess and know She also resides in each of us. Ms. Ashley also emphasizes that the bond of close women friends should not be forsaken because of a bond with a lover. She shows us that there is always a way to compromise to preserve both bonds. As a romantic novel this was delightful. M.M.

And that’s what I do with my stories. Ordinary women who’ve had normal life challenges (domestic violence, infidelity, post-traumatic stress disorder, physical injury, rape, homelessness, etc.) find a way through the dark times into the light of unconditional love.

Is their path easy? No. Their life experiences have taught them to be leery about trusting anyone. But because of the bond created by being part of a Sacred Women’s Circle, they are able to take the leap into the void and find their happily-ever-after.

One of my goals in writing these stories is to pass on to others, ideas about how they might handle difficult situations.

Have you ever gotten an idea that helped you solve a problem by reading a romance novel? Would love to hear your story!

You can learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on my website.

Follow me on Twitter: @JudithAshley19

I’m also on Facebook

© 2016 Judith Ashley


Sarah Raplee said...

I love that you have a clear purpose in mind in addition to entertaining your reader!

I was still in my teens when I read a Mary Stewart romantic suspense in which the heroine learned'there is no room for pride in marriage.' The heroine had to learn to forgive the hero (her ex) for doing something that hurt her pride so badly she never gave him a chance afterward. I never forgot those words. They have served me well at times in my own marriage.

Madelle Morgan said...


What interesting (and I am sure often heart-wrenching) experiences you must have had. They undoubtedly informed your stories about love and the path healing.

Thank you for sharing and helping us to get to know you better!

Judith Ashley said...

Sarah, Mary Stewart's book shared a very good and true message. Pride after a certain point only hurts us in our relationships.

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for stopping by, Madelle. Many of my experiences show up in my books. And my goal is to have my stories support someone's healing path to love.

Linda Lovely said...

Your career paths certainly provide lots of material for your writing. I'm most impressed with your creativity in finding ways people can help themselves--like the crafts jail project. The heartfelt reviews are strong incentives for folks who haven't read your books to pick one up immediately.

Diana McCollum said...

The honesty of your experiences shows up in your books. I've read Lily and all she had to overcome to let herself love again was so well written. The ending brought tears to my eyes. Great blog post. I can't say that anything I've read in fiction has had an impact on me personally. Maybe because I read for entertainment and mostly paranormal or historical. Happy Saturday!

Kristin Holt said...

Thank you, Judith, for sharing so much of yourself through your many professions and life experiences. I learned very early that fiction could teach me lessons that would last a lifetime. I've become more aware of the effort of many romance writers to empower women (the majority--but not all--of our readers) through their fiction. Thank you for your positive contribution. Thank you for making such a phenomenal difference!

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks, Linda. I'm a fairly new author so I thought using my reviews in this post might help a few more people get to know me. Glad you think that also.

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Diana. It's easier for me to write Contemporary Romance and include aspects of my own personal experience. I read for entertainment also and that's why I read historical. I'm more familiar with their world having been almost a history major in college so I can just enjoy the story and not have to figure out a whole new world.

One of the things I love about Romancing The Genres is that I can learn about so many other authors. Most of my non-historical books are by RTG or Windtree Press authors.

Judith Ashley said...

Kristin, I think the men who read our books also learn something that helps them in their relationships. One of the things I stress in my books is that the men are supportive of their wives and understand and accept the importance of The Circle in their wives' lives. I've seen marriages crumble because the spouse wants the other person more to themselves - or to only have mutual friends. Severing those ties that were there long before this relationship is counterproductive.

Miss Viola said...

What an amazing career you've had helping and guiding people. How wonderful that you're still helping people and bringing joy into their lives with your writing. Thanks for sharing!

Evelyn Hill said...

What an interesting post, Judith! I write historical stories because I find it easier to write about something that is some distance from me. I can stand back and see the story more clearly. Your method is the opposite, using your life experiences to write your stories. I love how everyone's path to creating stories is different!

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for stopping by, Miss Viola. It is one of the things I like best about writing - sharing ideas that have worked in either my life or someone else's. I do believe that no one wants to be miserable and this is one small way I can assist in bringing more joy into other people's lives.

Judith Ashley said...

Evelyn, you are 100% correct. Everyone's path is different. One of the reasons I read historical romance is because of the distance. I can read about a story with more suspense in it if it took place centuries ago. I do read some contemporary romance but not the thriller/suspense kind. The page turners give me nightmares so I leave those books to people who have a better defined line in their minds between fiction and real life.

S. Durham said...

Judith, I loved hearing about all the life experiences you've brought to your writing (working in the fields you describe is never easy, and it takes a special person to do so). I'm thankful there are people like you out there. The human angels:) Your on my to be read list btw.

Sara Durham

Judith Ashley said...

Sara, Thank You for stopping by and leaving a comment!

I've never thought of myself as a 'human angel'. The reality is that there are so many people involved outside the professionals. There is always someone who makes the call that gets the 'authorities' involved. The neighbor, a bank clerk, a mail carrier, grocery store clerk were the main reporters. It isn't that educator, counselors and medical personnel never reported but laws had to be passed so they became mandated reporters in order to ensure the safety of children, domestic violence victims, etc. We all saw our workload increase when mandatory reporting laws went into effect.

Enjoy my books! You'll see bits and pieces of this post in them I'm sure.