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Monday, June 19, 2017

Learning on Many Levels: The Grackle

Judith 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.

You may remember at the end of last week’s post I said I’d tell you a story about a Grackle. Here’s the story:
In 2014 when I attended the Desert Dreams Writers conference, a bird kept visiting my room. Well, not actually in my room, but it sat on the railing outside my room. My friend, Lois, told me it was a Grackle. Now Grackles are big and dark, resembling a crow or raven if you’ve never seen one. Being someone who believes that animals (including birds, reptiles, insects) bear messages, I looked up Grackle in Ted Andrew’s Animal Speak book.
Fast forward to 2017. I’m again in Arizona attending the Desert Dreams Writers’ Conference where I’m not only presenting a workshop but also participating in the Readers’ Experience. (More on that later). One of the things I needed for my “Book Club” was a stash of desert quartz. My friend, Lois, had some she was willing to share.
The day was Hot (especially to my Pacific Northwest self). We gathered the desert quartz but had another task to perform before returning to air conditioned comfort.
Grackle - we put nuts out so I could take pictures


Three large black birds sat on tree limbs a few feet away and were chattering away as if giving us advice on how to go about our task. At one point I turned towards them and had a ‘conversation’ with them, assuring them we would finish quickly and leave them alone, reminding them that we are all part of the larger circle of life, etc.
When we were done and had returned to air conditioned comfort, I asked Lois what those large black birds were. “Grackles,” she replied.
So out came Ted Andrews’ book as I refreshed my memory as to their significance.
What you don’t know unless you know me personally is that when I arrived in Arizona a couple of days earlier I was struggling with a conundrum of difficulties. I’d been obsessively talking about the challenges in my life. I’m sure my friends were sick of me chattering on and on about it—but even though I knew I was repeating myself off I’d go again.
Grackle=overcoming excess and emotional life congestion.
 We laughed out loud when I read this question.
Are we simple rehashing and talking about them without doing anything to correct the emotional situations of our life?
There and then I made a plan to figure out how to correct the problem and vowed I would not talk about it unless it was in the form of a solution. I’m not going to tell you an answer immediately appeared but as I write this, not only did it appear it has been implemented.
Seeking answers in innovative ways can solve problems in a more rapid and satisfying manner than just bemoaning the fact that there is a problem and we don’t have a ready answer.


Next week I’ll share a couple of ways I search ‘outside the box’ for the keys to solving sticky and sometimes just ordinary issues.


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

Follow Judith on Twitter: @JudithAshley19

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.


You can also find Judith on FB!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Learning On Many Levels

Judith 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.

Last week at this time I was traveling home from the Desert Dreams Writers Conference in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area of Arizona. I promised in the post I’d scheduled for my travel day that if you checked in this week, you’d learn more about my trip and the conference.

I am fortunate enough to have friends in the Phoenix area therefore I traveled a week before Desert Dreams so I could spend time re-creating myself on several levels. This year has been one of unforeseen challenges and I’d diverted from my writing routine. Deviated enough that I wasn’t as happy and energized as I wanted to be.

Spending a week before the conference gave me time to reflect on what has been happening in my life and make some decisions.

My Android Tablet was my friend, giving me an easy place to read some craft books (highly recommend Maggie McVey Lynch’s Book One Secrets Every Author Should Know, ChuckHeintzelman “The Author’s Guide to E-book Bundling”. (Click on Chuck's link to learn about Bundle Rabbit). Learned a lot about the importance of attitude from Dean Wesley Smith in his “Writing a Novel in Seven Days”. Mary Buckham “Writing Active Setting – Book 1” had great examples that drove home her point.

And since all work and no play makes for a dull blog post, I will also admit to finishing a great reread of Sarah Addison Allen’s “Garden Spells”. Yes, it is back on my keeper shelf. Enjoyed former Genre-ista and Cover Designer of my Sacred Women’s Circle book covers Christy Carlyle’s “Rules for a Rogue”. I purchased Victoria Alexander’s “The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen” and read that in the airport and on the plane.

The time away from my ‘real life’ was long enough for me to realize what the changes were that I needed to make. And after that initial realization, I gained clarity on what those changes needed to be.

Every day I engaged in fantastic discussions on a wide variety of topics several of them having to do with the Buddhist view of the world. I’ve made a commitment to aspire to wise compassion.

Changing Hands is a great book store. We traveled from North Phoenix to the one in Tempe because it is so much bigger than the one in downtown Phoenix. I went looking for something in particular and came home with three decks of cards: two Tarot Decks and one Oracle Deck.

Mikhaela Asheena and I have talked over the years when I’ve visited Vision Quest which I’ve done whenever I’ve been in town. Mikhaela is an expert in Sacred Geometry and I’ve learned a lot about that subject in my conversations with her. 

Check out her creations and you’ll see what I mean about being inspired by her. One of the joys of this trip was gifting her with a copy of Gabriella and sharing with her how she inspired me to keep learning so Gabriella would know enough to have find her way to Giovanni Migliori. I will always remember the surprise and joy on her face when I handed her her copy. 

So much more to share but rather than do an exceptionally long post, I’m breaking it down. Next week I’ll share a story about the Grackle (bird in case you didn’t know) and tracking down rose quartz and desert quartz.


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

Follow Judith on Twitter: @JudithAshley19


Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.

You can also find Judith on FB!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sacred Women's Circles Create Sacred Space - Part Two



Judith 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.

When you are reading this post, I’ll be on my way home from the Desert Dreams Writers Conference. Look for more about my time there next Monday, June 12th.

Last week I talked about women’s circle and Sacred Women’s Circles. Today I want to share more about them.

In addition to my own Sacred Women’s Circle, I also participate in the Women of the 14th Moon Celebrations. This truly is a Sacred Women’s Circle. My first one had 100 women in attendance. There was no judgement. No one looked at another woman and thought she should have put on her make-up, worn a different blouse, was too tall, too thin, too fat, etc. (We were camping out in a large field with port-a-potties, tents, no electricity, etc.). I was fifty-three and so was a ‘crone’, a wise woman. I was taken care of. If I needed to use the port-a-potty, I got escorted to the front of the line.
The horse hide drum I made and use at 14th Moon

Same for meals. The crones were always first. The singing and drumming was amazing. But what was even more magical was the time in the evening when each crone was invited to stand and talk to the other women. We could say whatever we wanted to say and talk for however long we wanted. To this day I remember what I talked about, how surreal it felt to have 99 other women listen to me.

Is it any wonder that after over 20 years of being a part of women’s circles and Sacred Women’s circles they are a constant theme a major thread in my stories?

The stories in The Sacred Women’s Circle series follows the seven members of The Circle as they face life’s challenges including the scariest of all—the love of their life. They battle themselves as they find the courage to grasp what they want without the certainty they’ll reach that goal. Even seeing the other women find their happily-ever-after, does not mean the next circle member believes it can happen to her.

Lily, Elizabeth, Diana, Ashley, Hunter, Gabriella and Sophia are stories about independent women who’ve weathered many of life’s challenges. Domestic violence, infidelity, divorce, single parenting, custody battles, abandonment issues, child abuse, death of a spouse, recurrent cancer treatment are the main themes but in addition, each woman must also face her own inner demons.

With the support of her Circle sisters and using her own personal spiritual practices, each finds her way through the ups and downs, doubts and fears to her own happiness.

One of my goals in writing this series is to show readers the options they have both in terms of spiritual practices but also in the support that can come in the form of a woman’s circle.

Some of my readers who have a different spiritual or religious background still enjoy my stories because of the way these friends interact. It has given them a new view of their own relationships and some have made the decision to form their own Sacred Women’s Circle.

I’m here to support and cheer you on regardless of the direction you go.

Please leave a comment. I do want to know your thoughts, especially about what it would be like to be a part of a Sacred Women’s Circle.

And if you’ve not read any of The Sacred Women’s Circle series you can easily see if you’d like to read them all by reading Book One Lily: The Dragon and The Great Horned Owl.


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

Follow Judith on Twitter:@JudithAshley19

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.

You can also find Judith on FB!


Monday, May 29, 2017

Sacred Women's Circles Create Sacred Space - Part One

Judith 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.

When you read this post, I’ll be in Scottsdale, AZ to attend the Desert Dreams Writer’s Conference. I’m excited to be one of the workshop presenters. “Supporting Your Writing Life: How to Find Balance Between Your “Real” Life and Your “Writing” Life” is one of my favorite workshops. I love seeing participants find ways to write without feeling guilty about what they aren’t doing. The truth is the vast majority of authors do not write full time or live a monastic life. They have day jobs, families including spouses, children, sibling and parents. And what about friends?

I’m also one of 17 authors participating in the Readers’ Day Event. Tickets maystill be available so check out this link. I’d love to see you there!!! Readers will meet each of the 17 authors in a two minute ‘speed dating’. They’ll then have the opportunity to spend thirty minutes with authors to get to know them better. Participants attending my Book Club will leave with their own sacred bundle!

And that’s a great segue into the topic of this blog:

Sacred Women’s Circle Create Sacred Space.

Pause here for a few seconds and consider the following questions:

What would it be like to be unconditionally accepted, unconditionally supported and unconditionally loved?

Would you feel safe?
Would you feel you could say anything? Talk about your innermost thoughts and feelings? Share your most intimate secrets if you wanted to?

A Sacred Women’s Circle creates the space where you are unconditionally accepted, supported and loved. You do not have to share but you can. And if you choose to share, you know with a certainty that all that you say will be held in confidence and you will not be judged.

No matter what.

In 1993 I sat for the first time in a women’s circle. And, I’ve been a part of one ever since. One person from my very first circle is in my current one. I will not prevaricate and say they’ve all been sacred women’s circles because that is not the case. I will say that my current circle is a Sacred Women’s Circle because I know that I can call on any member and she will show up however I need it to happen. And they know they can call on me.

While I’ve not shared every one of my secrets, I know I could and I’d still be accepted, supported and loved. We call ourselves The One and there are four of us. The connection is strong and even though there is, at times, an ebb and flow of physical connection, the energetic connection remains tying us together.

What would it be like if you had a Sacred Women’s Circle, a place where you were unconditionally accepted, supported and loved? Or maybe you already have such a place?

I’ve love to know more!

Please leave a comment. I do want to know what you think.


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

Follow Judith on Twitter:@JudithAshley19

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.


You can also find Judith on FB!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Unconditional Love - Long Post

Judith 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.
You’ve heard the term “Unconditional Love”.

What exactly does that mean?

As we’ve already learned “Unconditional” means without conditions or limits. That’s fairly concrete. We can discuss what a condition or limit is but for the most part we’d more easily come to agreement on that than we would on the word “Love”.

That may sound strange coming from someone who writes romance. But the word “love” has numerous definitions in part because it is used in a variety of contexts. We talk about how much we love foods, colors, clothes, etc. We also talk about ‘love’ when speaking about pets and places. Even when we are referencing people, there is a distinction i.e. l love my family. I love my friends. I love myself. I love you (a particularly significant person such as a spouse or lover). “Love” is one of those words that has gained such popularity that it is important for each of us to understand how we are using it.

Why? Because “Love” is a word that describes an emotional connection to something or someone.

In my work as Senior Faculty for The William Glasser Institute we teach that relationships are at the heart of problems—that if we all got along better (think unconditional acceptance and unconditional support) our world and the world around us would be a more peaceful place. (And Peaceful is not necessarily boring).

We also teach that when we use words like “love” each of us has our own individual picture or perception of what that would look like, what our personal manifestation of that word would be in our own life.

So keep that in mind as you consider Unconditional Love.

When two people say theyunconditionally love’ each other that does mean that they accept each other as they are. They do not enter the relationship wanting the other person to change. They want what is best for the other party without dictating what that “best” is.

The hardest part of that last paragraph comes when we see someone we love doing something we just Know will end in pain or disaster or both. Many of us have a strong “fix it” trait and it is hard to step back.

One thing I’ve found that helps me is to remember they are living their own lives, this is their path and there is something they need to learn or experience which is why whatever it is is happening to them at this point in time. Sometimes we have to experience the same situation more than once before we figure things out and sometimes we never to figure it out. When we try to ‘fix it’ for someone else, we take their power away from then and what’s worse, if it doesn’t work out, it is our fault.

Knowing yourself, your boundaries, having the wherewithal and skill to set and hold them without hostility is key to continuing to love someone and yet not approve of everything they choose to do. If you ever hear the words “If you loved me, you would …” come out of your mouth or said to you, you know you do not or are not Unconditionally Loved. This is also true if you just think them about another person.

Again, Dr. Glasser spoke and wrote about healthy boundaries. A core principle in Choice Theory is that our choices do not harm another person. However, you can accept, support and love someone and still say “no”.

Here is an example: You have a family member or friend who has addiction problems. It is not mean to say to that person, “You are always welcome in my home when you are clean and sober.” Sometimes you need to complete the thought with “You are not welcome when you are drunk or stoned.” Of course, if you are spewing angry energy into each word—

From my point of view, one of the most difficult tasks facing us on our life journey is to know ourselves and our needs, to set clear boundaries to protect ourselves and to keep them. Sacrificing ourselves in the name of ‘love’ is not – again from my perspective – loving. Enabling a people to continue to abuse themselves, others or you, is not loving.

Diana Pettybone finally faces the reality of her abusive marriage. And, it only gets worse. The emotional and verbal abuse escalates to physical. Her circle sisters support her in leaving her marriage and protecting her from further abuse. They do not support her when she wavers and considers returning to him. However, they only ask her questions to help her think things through e.g. “Why do you think he’s changed?” “What do you see him doing different?” “Why is it important to you what other people think?”

Each of the heroines in The Sacred Women’s Circle series faces a critical time when they must take the leap toward what they want, leaving behind what they’ve had, the safety of the known for the possible glory of their happily-ever-after. They make that decision knowing that regardless of their choice, they will continue to have the acceptance, support and love of their circle sisters.

If you look at one of the dictionary definitions of love “unselfish, loyal, benevolent concern for others”, supporting someone in abusing themselves or others (including us) is certainly not love.

Some of this is not easy to do. And, having said that, consider this:

What would your life be like if you were Unconditionally Loved and Loved Unconditionally?

Please leave a comment. I do want to know what you think.


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

Follow Judith on Twitter:@JudithAshley19

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.


You can also find Judith on FB!



Monday, May 15, 2017

Unconditional Support


Judith 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.
Unconditional Support is another foundational building block for a healthy relationship and in creating a sacred women’s circle. Again “unconditional” means without limits or strings. There are supports in physical structures that allow them to stand. If you watch programs on the Home and Garden Network (HGTV) you hear the term “supporting wall” which means that wall is helping to keep the house intact and without it, the house will cave in.
There is also financial support, technical support and emotional support to name a few.
Gimi, Lois, Connie = Unconditional Support
Parents support their children into adulthood.
Companies support their customers—and if they do a good job, their customers will come back time and time again.
People support causes and organizations that they believe in both through donations and volunteering.
One of the caveats in a sacred women’s circle is that when the talking stone (or in some traditions the talking stick) is passed around, the other members hold their silence. They listen but unless asked or given permission, do not speak up.
From my perspective that is a gift. To be able to talk, to speak one’s mind, to bare one’s soul in a place of unconditional acceptance and support is healing. Sometimes all we need to do is say the words out loud and we will see our own answers or we will feel better.
There comes a time in each of my books when the heroine receives the unconditional support of her circle sisters. One type of unconditional support comes in the form of “hovering” but the other more integral form is the knowledge that the other women are there. All it will take is a call, a reaching out and everyone will show up.

When Lily is in a disabling accident, The Circle rallies around making sure she and her home are taken care of.

When Elizabeth cannot see her way through her dilemma, The Circle rallies and assists her in finding her path so she can have Michael in Ireland and still belong to The Circle in Fremont.

When Diana dithers about divorcing her abusive husband and accepting the help and protection of Mathew, it is The Circle that shelters her and supports her until she sees her way clear.

When Ashley and her children are abandoned when she is dealing with recurrent breast cancer, again, The Circle and “the second string” step in.

When Hunter’s daughter, Logan, runs away, The Circle rallies around the distraught single mom, searches for the lost daughter and vets the newly discovered father.

When Gabriella’s efforts to heal from an abusive childhood are thwarted, The Circle is there offering unconditional love and support.

When Sophia’s fear of a future with Cam is exacerbated because of the death of her first husband, The Circle listens and shares perspectives that help her see a life with him.

In unconditionally supportive relationships, when we speak up and ask for what we need, if it is within the power of the others we are given it. Of course, as you will see when you read my books, sometimes the asking is the most difficult part of being in a relationship where there is Unconditional Support.

Where in your life do you receive Unconditional Support?

And if that isn’t present in your life, what would your life be life if it was?

Please leave a comment. I’m very interested in your perspective even if you disagree.


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

Follow Judith on Twitter: @JudithAshley19

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.


You can also find Judith on FB!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Unconditional Acceptance

Judith 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 hope you enjoyed last Monday’s post on Beltane. Now that we are a little further along in the month of May and a little further along the Wheel of the Year, I want to share some thoughts on Unconditional Acceptance.

Simply put ‘unconditional’ means without conditions or not limited in any way.

Acceptance means the act of accepting; the state of being accepted or acceptable. And ‘accept’ is defined as “to receive willingly”

How does that translate when considering the topic Unconditional Acceptance in relationships?

In a relationship we understand that the other people are doing the best they can under the circumstances, given their skill set, objectives, etc.

Unconditional Acceptance does not necessarily mean unconditional approval. Those are two different concepts.

I can understand and accept decisions others make without approving of them or supporting them.

When raising children, parents often build “approval” into the mix which means the children may not believe or feel they are accepted. They feel different from the rest of the family, disengaged or even an outcast.

Acceptance of another person as she or he is, without conditions, without limits is a gift. And, depending on our own values and upbringing, it isn’t necessarily easy—but it is necessary to a healthy and functioning relationship.

It is possible to accept a person “warts and all” and still have boundaries in terms of the relationship. Not necessarily easy.

You can accept a family member or friend who has an addiction problem and also have the boundary that you will not spend time with them if they are under the influence.

When Sophia Stewart sends out her flyer inviting women to her house to form a sacred women’s circle, there were more than double the number who remained forty-five days later.

The six women who continued to come and who are the heroines in the series came to the first meeting open to a new experience, open to looking at the world from a slightly or even very different point of view. They were willing to listen, to learn, to participate with an open mind.

They created their sacred women’s circle from that initial unconditional acceptance. They created spiritual practices individually and together. They created a haven where they each had the safety and freedom to express themselves through prayer and practice knowing they were unconditionally accepted by the others.

Where in your life are you unconditionally accepted?


Please leave a comment. I’m very interested in your perspective even if you disagree. 



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

Follow Judith on Twitter:@JudithAshley19

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.


You can also find Judith on FB!