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Monday, March 27, 2017

Celebrating the First Day of Spring!

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

How did you celebrate the first day of Spring?

This year it came on Monday, March 20. Depending on your spiritual practices, this was your third or fourth turn of the Wheel of the Year. If you read my Romancing the Genre post on Winter Solstice, you’ll know that for me, this Sabbath is the third turn (Winter Solstice or Yule, Imbolc and now Spring Equinox or Ostara).

At the Equinox (Spring and Fall) day and night were in balance or equal. If you pay attention to that sort of thing, they are the only time during the turn of The Wheel that the day and night energies are in balance.

Judith's Life Shield 
I’ve heard friends who have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) state that their mood lifts because the Spring Equinox is a sure sign that the light has returned. And that is scientifically true. The next day, in this case Tuesday, March 21, there are a few more seconds of light than dark.

Confession time! I have not always honored Ostara even since I became a part of a Sacred Women’s Circle but as I move further down my own spiritual path both Imbolc and Ostara at the beginning of the year and Lammas and Mabon (August and September) have garnered more of my interest.

This year it was cool and a bit rainy so I did not open doors and windows and cleared my house of winter air. (I did that a couple of days before when the temperatures reached the low 60's). I did pick a small arrangement of Daphne and violets from my yard and took special care of my houseplants. Lunch with two friends at an Indian restaurant, a phone call with a good friend and taking the time to finish a book I was reading were the highlights of my day.

In the past I also celebrated with springy foods like hot crossed buns, Reese’s candy eggs, etc. Since I’ve changed my diet and no longer eat flower and obvious sugar, I didn’t do that!

While I did not take a chair out to sit on my back deck, I did pay special attention to the signs of spring in my yard. My Bloodgood Maple in front is almost leafed out. And it seemed my Dwarf Larch Diana in the back went from red buds to green between morning and night. A few daffodils are in bloom, my honeysuckle is putting out new growth...

No list yet for what I want to plant in pots around my back deck but I do know I'll find something other than fuchsias because they get too much sun there. May have fewer pots in back and more in front where the maple will shade them from the worst of the sun. 

Why would I work to find a place in my yard where the fuchsia thrive? They are one of my favorite flowers and they draw the hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

May day was spent in a variety of ways that brought joy to my heart. Even the squirrels my neighbor feeds did not dampen the happiness I felt seeing the birds that seem to like my yard even now when it is in its worn out winter cloak.

What did you do to celebrate Spring Equinox or Ostara?

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© 2017 Judith Ashley

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ostara

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

Today is noted on calendars around the world as the first day of Spring. If you’ve read my earlier posts you have a bit of history about this turning of the Wheel of the Year.

If you want to celebrate Ostara, you can create your own ceremony using eggs and rabbits. As you’ll remember the word Ostara comes from the Saxon Goddess Eostre whose symbols were the hare (aka rabbit) and egg.

If you raise chickens you can appreciate the symbol of the egg. Chickens do not lay as well and at times do not lay at all in the dark days of winter so as the light returns, fresh eggs become more plentiful.

Breakfast on the Spring Equilux traditionally will include eggs fixed in a variety of ways: scramble, omelet, hard boiled. And in some traditions, the eggs are then stacked for eating.

I’ve seen this newer tradition in my own neighborhood. Plastic eggs are decorated and then hung outside on trees or shrubs. Another tradition gaining favor is making a spring wreath to hang on the door using flower arrangement “picks” of chicks, eggs and rabbits to decorate the grapevine circle along with silk spring-themed flowers such as daffodils, tulips, etc.

I’m writing this post almost a full month before the Equilux so I haven’t decided exactly what I’ll do. Come back next Monday and I’ll share all!

And, what about you? What are your plans to celebrate Ostara, the first day of Spring?

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PS: You might wonder why I've featured the cover of Ashley on this post. And, I'm sure you won't be surprised to find out she finds her Happily-Ever-After on the Spring Equilux!

Monday, March 13, 2017

What A Difference A Month Makes!

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

The change of the seasons is marked this time of the year. Here’s my view in mid-January. As you can see my world was encased in 12 – 15 inches of snow and ice. Obviously we did weather that series of storms that had me housebound for nine days in a row!

But as we all know, time passes and The Wheel of the Year turns. Even though as I write this post with less than a week left in February, the nights are still in the low 30’s or high 20’s. I wake up to fog and we’ve even had a couple of hail storms. I bundle up to keep warm because the damp cold chills me to the bone especially when accompanied by the East Winds from the Columbia River Gorge.

What I am always in awe of is captured in these pictures. Cold and at times freezing nights, less than a month since being covered by a foot or more of snow and ice and yet…

The urge, the need to grow, to seek the light of the sun is strong. Strong enough that when we see the green of new growth push through and we know for a certainty that Spring is almost here there is a lightness, a gladdening of the spirit that shines through..

What is your favorite herald of Spring?

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The complete Sacred Women’s Circle series is now available in e-book and print!

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© 2017 Judith Ashley

Monday, March 6, 2017

Spring Is Just Around The Corner!

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


Spring is just around the corner. Ostara or Spring Equinox is set for Monday, March 20th. However as I was reviewing some information about the Spring Equinox I learned that it can be as early as March 16th and as late as March 22nd.

Also, there is the Equinox and the Equilux. The Equinox means Equal Night and refers to that moment in time when day and night are equal. That moment when the sun hits the equator exactly.

Equilux is the 24 hour period of time during which the Equinox occurs. It also varies depending on where one is in the world. For example: Our Spring Equinox/Equilux is the Southern Hemisphere’s Fall Equinox/Equilux or Mabon.

Of course this makes sense when we stop and think about time zones, the tilt of the earth away from and toward the sun, etc.

Ostara comes from the Saxon Goddess, Eostre whose symbols are the hare and egg. This is the time of balance between dark (winter) and light (summer). In the days before central heat and air conditioning (and I do remember those days), the first days of warmer weather were cause for celebration. Doors and windows were opened wide to cleanse the house of the stale air and energy from being closed up all winter.

The other symbol of this season is ‘balance’. The energy of light and dark are in balance and it gives each of us an opportunity to stop and reflect on where we are in balance and where we are out of balance.

A point to make here is that we are seldom in perfect balance. Just like the Equinox is only a moment in time, we also are in constant flux in order to find that balance we seek. We adjust as the world around us shifts and changes. It reminds me of the analogy Dr. William Glasser uses of a thermostat. We set the temperature to 70 degrees and the system comes on until that temperature is reached. It then turns off and waits until the temperature drops or raises (depending on whether we are heating or cooling the area) before it comes back on.

We are like that thermostat. We constantly juggle our environment, our world a little bit one way or the other until we are satisfied. Then something happens – sometimes it is just a change in the time of day and we move to accommodate.

What I find is true in my own life is that that part of my life most in balance is often ignored until there is an imbalance and then I work to put things right.


What part of your life is most in balance? What part is most out-of-balance? 

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© 2017 Judith Ashley

Monday, February 27, 2017

Romance and Research

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

Research has shown that we learn best when we are entertained. And the best romance authors do their research so you learn something as you go on a journey with their characters. And the best romances, IMHO, are those that play over and over in our minds long after we’ve closed the book which means those well researched details become a part of our general knowledge.

I love to read historical romance and have learned much more about living in those faraway times. Most recently I read all of 
Jo Beverley’s Malloren World books set in the 1760’s. She showed the glamour and glitz of the aristocracy but she also showed the depths of despair, the plight of women and children, the filth and disease of the greatest city of its time. In the last book I read, she included information about the water system in London at the time of A Scandalous Countess.

Several of the Genre-istas write in another time period. Paty Jager, Kristin Holt, Lynn Lovegreen, Maeve Greyson all work to make sure their readers understand the time period and thus the life style of their characters. Genre-istas who write in various genres also pay attention to the research needed to bring their stories to life.

But what about Contemporary Romance Writers? Do they have to do research? Do they build worlds? Do they have well-honed imaginations?

Since I am a Contemporary Romance Write, I’ll answer that with “yes”!

Research? For Lily, I spent time talking with my physical therapist to make sure I had the right timing for Lily Hughes recovery from a devastating accident. And, I set up the fictional Fremont, Oregon (based in part on my home town of Portland). Why didn’t I use Portland? Because I wanted the freedom to have a doctor’s office, a restaurant, etc. where it worked best for the story and not where one actually was.

For Elizabeth, I not only refreshed my memories of my trip to Ireland by reading my journal and looking through albums of pictures, but I also talked to my friend with whom I journeyed. And I used Google Earth to check out New Grange as we hadn’t gone there. I looked at the countryside to determine where to site Michael Murphy’s fictional home and The Sacred Grove.

Most recently, for Gabriella, I spent more time on Google Earth figuring out where Giovanni Migliori’s villa might be on the West Coast of Italy overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. I also researched Sacred Geometry before deciding to show Sacred Geometry in nature with references to it also being man-made. I wanted to give my readers a sense of the power of Sacred Geometry without overwhelming them.

Sophia, Book Seven, involves a police officer and a teacher. I both worked for a sheriff’s department and taught high school English. And since Sophia has been a main character throughout the series, her dedication to her students, her garden and the other women was already well known. I’ve even been concussed! But, I’ve never been shot!!! So that required some investigating in order to make my hero, Cam Mitchell’s, predicament real.

But here’s where the research butts up against our characters. Not everyone in contemporary times is glued to a cell phone or spends hours on the internet, etc. So when my editor commented on Diana “That’s not real, she should just dial 911 on her cell phone.” I took a look at how I use technology in my stories.

It’s there.

Not as much in the first books set in 2001 – 2002 but by Sophia set in 2005 - 2006 it is more evident.

Believe it or not, to this day I have friends and family who do not have cell phones or do not keep them on. And, I have friends and family who are well-connected. I, for one, have not been to a movie theater for decades and I seldom watch movies on television and although I’ve heard of streaming, I’ve no idea how to do it.

What does this have to do with anything?

A well-written romance (or any story) will draw you in. The characters will make sense to you as will their decisions. After that comment from my editor, I went back and inserted a few sentences here and there to show the reader that while my character knew about and had a cell phone, she (in this case) was not wired 24/7.

What’s important is that the technology is congruent with who the character is as a person and within the context of the story.

What are your thoughts on author’s research? Have you ever read a book and known some fact was inaccurate at best and Wrong at worst? What did you do?

For a Free digital copy of Lily sign up for Connections, my newsletter. You’ll be the first to know about upcoming releases and the first to know about specials, contests and appearances.

Learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on her website.
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© 2017 Judith Ashley

Monday, February 20, 2017

Romance - A Story for Everyone



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

I’m writing this post earlier in the month, to be precise almost two weeks before you will see it. At Romancing The Genre, the Genre-istas are sharing “My Most Romantic … ?” and if you start at the beginning of the month with Robin Weaver’s “The Most Romantic Potato” and read through each post until here, you’ll find a wide array of interpretations of the suggested topic.

I talk about “heat levels” in my books, Paty Jager shares the little things that have kept her 38 years of marriage strong and Kristin Wallace includes an excerpt from her soon-to-be released Shellwater Key tale.

One of the things I love about writing and reading romance is there is a story for just about everyone.

If you’ve an interest in history, here are historical romances set in Medieval, Renaissance, Middle Ages, Regency, Victorian, American West --- you name the era and there is, most likely a romantic story set then.

Science? What about scifi? Remember, the science fiction of last century is becoming our reality today.

Suspense? Thrillers? Yes, there are authors who write romantic suspense and thrillers.

And then there are the ones who have fantastic imaginations! They are the writers of fantasy and paranormal romance. The good ones make sure the world they’ve created is sustained through all of the stories set in that place and time.

What I love about Romancing The Genres is our diversity. You can find just about any kind of romance you are interested in here. If you don’t have the time or inclination to check us out every day, you can check our Genre-ista page and scroll down to see who’s who and what we write.

Not only can romances be set in any era, they can take place at any time of the day or night and in any known or unknown country or galaxy.

To me, a good romance touches my heart and leaves me with a sense of satisfaction, even a smile on my lips as I envision the characters I’ve fallen in love with enjoying their future together.

Of course my goal is that when you read my books, you have those same feelings!

For a Free digital copy of Lily sign up for Connections, my newsletter. You’ll be the first to know about upcoming releases and the first to know about specials, contests and appearances.

Learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on her website.
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You can also find Judith on FB!

© 2017 Judith Ashley

Monday, February 13, 2017

Love Is More Than A Feeling

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual practices that nourish the soul and celebrates the journey from relationship to romance.

I write romance—a blessing, a gift, a way to balance my life because for over fifty years I worked as a private guardian and geriatric care manager and/or in child welfare and/or in an emergency after hour’s capacity for vulnerable adults. My professional life has shown me all too clearly that there can be a gigantic disconnect between the words “I love you” and the actions we’d expect from someone who truly does love us. I am consciously choosing not to site numerous examples but I do invite you to think about where you may have experienced or born witness to that disconnect.

Because of my professional (and some personal) experiences, I know love is more than a feeling. We tell others “I love you”. We hear “I love you, too” said back. At times someone may say “I love you” first and we repeat back that we love that person “too”.

In my short story “Is He The One?” available through Windtree Press’s anthology, Gifts of the Heart, my heroine, Sophia Denton uses Dr. William Glasser’s Basic Psychological Needs to sort through her feelings and find the answer to Jonathan’s proposal. She readily acknowledges they love each other (the feeling). 

Her question is: Is that enough? While she herself has not been abused, she is aware of the issue of domestic violence and child abuse. Committed to doing her very best not to get caught in that “but I love him” trap, she decides to delve deeper into the conundrum of love, to determine for herself if there is a disconnect between how she and Jonathan ‘feel’ about each other and how they treat each other.

Dr. Glasser talked and wrote about the importance of loving relationships in our lives. He also talked and wrote about the reality that the only person whose behavior we have control over is our own.

It is a myth to think that we really can “make” someone do something. There are people every day who literally die for their beliefs and that has been true throughout history. It is at times convenient to say “I couldn’t help it” or “S/he made me”. When I hear those words, I know that isn’t actually true. The truth is more along the line of “I didn’t know how to say “no” because s/he is bigger than I am (or has more power as in could fire me, etc.) or it is easier to go along than to stand up for my beliefs or s/he might not like me anymore (in some circumstances we call that peer pressure).

From my perspective relationship problems occur because someone is trying to make the other(s) do something different. And in an effort to be successful, they use one of Dr. Glasser’s Seven Deadly Habits. (You can read more about The Deadlies here).

Here are 4 questions that may assist you in creating happier, healthier and more loving 
relationships in your life.

1. Looking at your most important relationships and using a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being high/good and 1 low/bad, how congruent are the words and actions of the people you love towards you?

2. Looking at your most important relationships and using a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being high/good and l1 low/bad, how congruent are Your Words and Actions towards the people in your life you love?

3. When you look at the disconnect, what are the others attempting to get or accomplish with their behavior?

4. What are you trying to get or accomplish in those relationships where there is a disconnect?

Please share your thoughts and ask questions! I’ll do my best to expand on Dr. Glasser’s concepts in my answers.


In addition to writing romance, Judith is on the Senior Teaching Faculty of William Glasser International. Learn more about her workwith Dr. Glasser’s concepts including her training schedule and/or check out The William Glasser Institute for more information on training and educational opportunities worldwide.

Sign up for Connections, my newsletter and receive a free digital copy of Lily, Book One in The Sacred Women's Circle series. For a limited time you can still buy a copy of Elizabeth, Book Two, for $.99.


Learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on her website.

Follow Judith on Twitter: @JudithAshley19

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.

You can also find Judith on FB!


© 2017 Judith Ashley