Starting off 2019 with a blog post on The Best Book I’ve Read in 2018 has been harder for me than it might appear. All I need to do is write about the book I most remember reading. Right?
However as an author, I write first and read second. There are times, especially at the end of a day at the computer, I don’t really remember the gist of the story or even the author’s name. Another issue is I can get stuck in “editor” mode which means I lose the story because I’m focused on story structure or things like grammar, punctuation, etc.
And then when I try to remember what I’ve read, those fiction books most likely in the romance genre, even though I’ve read at least fifty of them… .
So, I’m throwing all that out the window because there is one book I do clearly remember reading. Non-fiction Verbalize by Damon Suede. Mr. Suede gave a Master Class before the Emerald City Writer’s Conference. He is a dynamic, energized presenter and I’ve always learned something useful to me when I’ve heard him before.
This Master Class did not disappoint. When I learned that his book Verbalize was based almost verbatim on the Class, I snatched it up. Yep, that was me brushing past people in order to grab one of the remaining copies he still had.
If you have a chance to attend a Damon Suede workshop for writers, do. His style is fast paced and that is usually a turn off for me. But, and that’s a big “but” I always come away with something that is a gift to my writer-self.
What were those gifts from his ECWC Master Class?
Gift #1: Being true to myself and what I write. Readers can’t find my books if I don’t clearly tell them what I write. And I write in a sub-genre of romance that isn’t listed on any of the search engine. Pagan Spirituality is a core theme in my books.
Gift #2: Defining myself. A question Mr. Suede asked us had to do with the energy that is our essence. A bit paraphrased the question was what verb describes you? My answer was immediate “teaching.” At one point in my life I was a public school’s classroom teacher. I’ve a long history of presenting workshops at conferences both national and internationally. I’m on the Senior Teaching Faculty of The William GlasserInstitute – International. And the characters in my stories are always learning something to ease their path to that happily-ever-after. Of course the process of learning isn’t necessarily easy. But where would the joy of overcoming an obstacle be if it was all easy and effortless.
Fiction? In writing Visions of Happiness a character that first shows up in Diana: The Queen of Swords and The Knight of Pentacles actually becomes a recurring character a couple of years earlier in Visions. That fact prompted me to reread all of the original series, rewrite the paragraph or two in Diana to show Ms. Lawford was someone they all knew.
To my delight, I found myself emotionally involved with these seven women. I still laughed and cried along with them and I was the one who’d written their stores and read the drafts more than once!
A fiction reading first for me was Blindsight by Sarah Raplee. Blindsight is a paranormal romantic suspense and not a sub-genre of romance I read. However, I know Sarah and had listened to her talk about writing this book. I can highly recommend Blindsight. Well-written, enough suspense to keep me engaged but not so much I had nightmares. The paranormal elements were well-done and, to me at least, possible.
Another author I read is Paty Jager. I’ve read several of her Shandra Higheagle mysteries and many of her other books. Paty is meticulous in her research which is one fact that draws me to her stories.
And I’m ending this post with a swing back to non-fiction. Maggie Lynch’s “Author Secrets” series is a Must Read for any author who is independently published or for any author who is struggling with the decision to publish independently. In clear language Ms. Lynch guides authors through the plethora of options and challenges they face to get their books published and to optimize their discoverability and thus their visibility. Ms. Lynch stays abreast of publishing trends and updates readers through her newsletter, blog posts and workshops.
Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, romantic women’s fiction that honors pagan spiritual practices that nourish the soul. Sacred women’s circles are havens where each of us have the support of the unconditional acceptance, support and love of the others that sustain us as we overcome obstacles on our life's journey.
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