Books One - Seven are now available through JudithAshleyRomance.com, Windtree Press and your favorite e-retailer.

Check out my website: JudithAshleyRomance.com for more information about my books and appearances.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Inspiration from J.A. Jance

Listening to J.A. Jance Talk About Her Journey to Realizing Her Dream as a Writer was inspiring.


Tears welled and my head nodded in agreement. My throat choked with emotions. I sat spell-bound while J. A. Jance talked about her journey to realizing her dream as a writer.

Many life events could have deterred her but the dream and drive to write always won out. She'd been told women couldn't support themselves writing. Being a part of that same generation I found her talk heartwarming and inspiring. I'd had a college professor tell me I would not get hired as a history teacher because the history teachers were men and coached.
The gracious J.A. Jance and a thrilled Judith

The time does come in every writer's life when she must decide whether to use her "real" name or a pseudonym. That time did come and although Ms. Jance was more than willing to use her legal name, that wasn't what happened. People wouldn't buy her books if they knew they were written by a woman!

Actually as I was growing up, girls and women were often told they could not succeed in certain professions because – well, after all they were women and women just didn’t or couldn’t do that. I had my share of challenges as I worked in law enforcement and corrections two male dominated professions.

While I've always had positions that required me to write (articles, newsletters, reports, home studies, etc.), I didn't start writing fiction  until 1999. Being self-employed with several different contracts and being a parenting grandparent didn't leave a lot of time to write - but I did when I could. Now I'm semi-retired. I still teach workshops based on Dr. William Glasser's Choice Theory and Reality Therapy and I write. And, as long as these two activities bring joy to my life, I plan on keeping on. Currently I've the last two books in the original The Sacred Women's Circle series to finish and several more books to write after that. Good thing I want to live to be 100!

As I look around me at the young women of today including both of my granddaughters, I see a level of confidence, a belief in their right to go for whatever career or life they want. Do they know that at one point there wasn't even a path and that women like J. A. Jance and other pioneers in writing and other professions worked long and hard and sacrificed so that they now have a paved the path upon which they walk? Do they understand that many of the things they take for granted (birth control, freedom from sexual harassment, the right to vote) are precious because generations of women before them fought and survived abuse and deprivation?

I can only hope so.

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

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




Monday, May 23, 2016

Arizona Highlights and Ten Minute Plays


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

Trip Highlights

Watching Ten Minute Plays in Casa Grande

Creating My First Raffle Basket

Enhancing My Book Signing Display

Spending Time with family and friends.

Listening to J.A. Jance Talk About Her Journey to Realizing Her Dream as a Writer

Robin with her Certificate
I've already blogged about Raffle Baskets and Book Signings as well as why I love to attend the Desert Dreams Writer's Conference.

One of the highlights of this trip was being able to surprise my friend and award winning play-write, Robin Kramme. I met Robin in 2010 when we both volunteered at the Registration table. We touched base with each other throughout the conference and have kept in contact since. A dedicated writer, Robin started writing short plays as a way to improve writing dialogue. She has had so much fun in this creative endeavor, she's stopped writing romance novels!

Here's her bio:


Robin Kramme is enjoying success in the short play genre after happily retiring from a long and exhausting career in the hotel industry that included extensive travel and endless meetings.  Her creative work has been selected and stage read three consecutive years at the Arizona Women's Theatre Company’s Pandora Festival as well as a 2015 production of one her plays by the Gulfport (Florida) Community Players and a 2016 Judges Awarding winning production of another play at the Casa Grande Ten-Minute Play Contest.  She believes live theatre holds a special place in today's competitive entertainment arena.

Romancing The Genres celebrated plays in 2011 and, of course, we invited Robin. Occasional emails between conferences sustained our friendship. One of the things I missed during this time is being able to attend her plays. I remember "Lost Luggage" particularly tugged at me because I've certainly lost my luggage at one time or another.

Here I am with Award Winning Playwright, Robin Kramme
When I got an email from Robin announcing her play "Without A Doubt" had been chosen as a finalist in the 10 Minute Plays being performed in Casa Grande on April 2, I took a look at my Desert Dreams travel plans. By going early instead of staying longer, I would be in AZ on April 2. Next I checked in with my friend, Gimi, who lives in Maricopa to see how far Casa Grande was from her. (It was an inch or so on the map).

Everything came together and I spent Friday night in Maricopa and Saturday we drove to Casa Grande, had dinner and watched the 5 plays that had been selected to be performed.

What a TREAT!!!

First, Robin was so surprised to see me. The look on her face was priceless.

Women's Club
Second, I was able to see "Without A Doubt" performed and win the Judges' Award.


Third, the plays were performed in the historic Women's Club.



Already I'm looking forward to 2018 and attending the Desert Dream Writers Conference. Fingers are crossed that my trip will coincide with the performance of another Robin Kramme play.


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

Monday, May 16, 2016

Thoughts on Being a Long Distance Member

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

One of the things I miss about being a long distance member is supporting the chapter by volunteering in various capacities. This year, because I was there early, I helped stuff the Conference bags with books and other swag. So many items were donated it was hectic ---but fun!

I’ve two books by new-to-me Sourcebooks authors on my TBR shelf (Samantha Chase and Amy Sandas), a very cool name badge and a couple of note pads. One of the most useful to me items (a 5X7 spiral bound notebook) was donated by J. Kenner. I used it to take notes at the workshops I attended.

My volunteer duties included a stint at the Registration Table, Raffle Room and Agent & Editor Desk.

Volunteering at the Registration Table gives me a chance to meet people early on. I’m then able to chat with them either in a brief exchange or maybe sit with them at a meal or workshop and get to know them a bit better.

2018 will see me traveling again to Arizona in order to spend time with family, friends and attend a Desert Rose chapter meeting. If you live anywhere near Phoenix, you have two great chapters to choose from---the aforementioned Desert Rose and also Valley of the Sun. Check them out. Writing romance is always better when we’re connected to other romance writers.

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My First Chapter Meeting in 8 years!

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

The first special event of my trip to the 2016 Desert Dreams Writers Conference was the day after I arrived, March 29, or the last Tuesday of the month, which is when the monthly chapter meeting is held.

While I’ve been a member of Desert Rose since January 2008 and the 2016 Desert Dreams Conference is the fifth one I’ve attended, the truth is I’ve never been to a chapter meeting!

That changed. 

And, I was so pleased to know I had a name tag. Not something written on a sticky “Hello” badge but a real live personal name tag.

Because I’ve been a member since 2008, I was eligible for longevity award…a rose pin. When I return in 2018, I’ll get a second one because I’ll have been a member for 10 years. It was great to see chapter members with four or five roses on their name tags!!!

In addition to my membership rose, I was also eligible for a Rose, Quill or Bead for each novel, novella or short story I’ve published.

What a thrill to pick out my beads!!!


The Beaded Lady from Las Vegas was vending at the conference and I bought the bracelet for the beads from her. Again, looking forward to 2018, I’ll have a few more beads coming home with me.

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

Monday, May 9, 2016

Raffle Baskets and Book Signings

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

Last Monday’s post was about Time (and water); Wednesday I shared my thoughts about the Chaparral Suites and meeting J.A. Jance.

Today I’m showing you the results of creating a raffle basket for Desert Dreams and the creation of my display for the book signing.

Let me start by saying neither a fantastic basket nor a dazzling display would have happened without the guidance (actually a bit more than that word implies) of my friend and first reader, Lois. She is an artist and graphic designer among other things. And if you are into mid-century modern things and live in the Phoenix, AZ area, look her up at Modern on Melrose.

ALL THINGS OREGON:
All Things Oregon was the theme. A two dollar basket from Goodwill was a start. A trip to Michael’s and we had the stuffing and cellophane for the basket as well as ribbon for the basket and ‘bundling’ books. I also purchased a small glass heart shaped bottle for the beach agates. I’d brought books, chocolate, beach agates, green jasper, a polished thunder egg, book mark, business cards and an amethyst pendant and matching earrings.

Our Very Happy Winner!
Sarah Raplee, Diana McCollum and I donated the books. Sarah and I donated the Moonstruck Chocolate. Sarah and I donated the rocks (green jasper and beach agates from me, personally polished thunder egg from Sarah’s rock hounding adventures). Diana made beaded book marks and one was included in the basket with the Love and Magick anthology. And last but not least, the necklace and earrings were from Mary McGar.

Ours was a very popular basket!!!


DESERT DREAMS BOOK SIGNING:
First we tried out several options in our room. Lois had a chrome and glass stand she donated to the cause. (I’d love to find something similar to use when I’m able to drive to the signing. It made everything so much easier because I only had thirty-two (32) inches to display books and bundles!)
Note the design in the center

I took a picture of what we liked best so we could easily recreate it at the signing. I’d been told that ‘the way to go’ was by bundling. With that in mind we bundled three anthologies that Sarah, Diana and I were a part of. And I also bundled the first three and the last two of the five books in The Sacred Women’s Circle series that are currently available.

Why that way? My reasoning was that the first two books had a hotter heat level that the 4th and 5th books in the series.

What I learned was bundling works better with a trilogy. Although even though I bundled the three anthologies together, people couldn’t see the names of all the authors. And, not having thought that was something I needed to know, I hadn’t made a note of that so I could tell people interested in those books about the authors and stories within (even though I’d read them all)!

Lois and her creation
While I’d still do a couple of bundles for the display because they look gorgeous, I'd make sure people knew they could create their own bundle. Having the ribbon on hand along with a bit of bling will be important. See the picture to the left. Aren't those bundles beautiful? That means I’ll have the ribbon on hand along with a bit of bling.

Lois added five rhinestone hearts the the ribbon on each of the bundles for a bit of bling. We also found out that the adhesive on the rhinestone hearts was not reliable so there was a bit—actually quite a bit—of re-gluing if not realigning of the bling.

In the end, while I did not sell as many books as I’d have liked, I did sell some. I got a hands on lesson (how I learn best) on how to create a beautiful basket and a gorgeous display. And, Lois wrote it the tips and tricks we learned along the way.

Was it worth it?

You tell me.
Would you put your raffle ticket in a basket that looked fantastic And had gifts you were interested in? 

Would you be more likely to put your raffle ticket in a fantastic looking basket? 

A proud author and her display
Would you only put your raffle ticket in a basket that had something you wanted regardless of how it looked?

If you see a gorgeous, creative display (like mine), would you be more likely to stop by and look more closely, engage with the author or does something like that not matter at all because you only go to book signings to see authors you know and like?


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

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Favorite Conference in A Favorite Place

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

April 7 – 9, 2016 I attended the Desert Dreams Writer’s Conference in Scottsdale, AZ. hosted by the Desert Rose RWA Chapter. For the third time the Conference was held at the ChaparralSuites (in the process of becoming Embassy Suites). This was my fifth DD Conference which is held every other year so mark your calendars for 2018. I particularly love the Chaparral Suites as a Conference site.

One: the conference center keeps everyone together. All the meeting rooms are in one place. If you move from one room to another, you can’t help but see the same people. I always meet a few people at Desert Dreams with whom I stay in touch.
Grackle

Two: the tropical gardens are lovely to meander through and the grounds are spotless! A crew sweeps them every day. Bird song accompanies me whenever I step outside my room. And the view from my room is always relaxing. Four years ago I had a room on an upper floor which was not as convenient as one on the ground floor although we had grackles come to visit.

Three: the staff — some of the best I’ve ever encountered. Watching the banquet staff do their job was like watching a dance. Efficient, graceful, fluid movements and attention to the diners meant we all had quality service provided with a smile. Under construction, there were challenges for everyone. I saw managers pitching in and working side-by-side with their employees. The Front Desk was crammed into one of the rooms while that part of the property was undergoing massive renovation. Even with crowded conditions, everyone was pleasant and helpful.

Four: the newly renovated rooms were well done and in a palate of colors that soothed. Add to that comfortable beds, lush towels, mini-frig, microwave seating for at least five people and you have a room I could easily have stayed in for much longer.
Judith with J.A. Jance

Five: the Chaparral Suites is well situated in Scottsdale so it isn’t very far if you want to check out some of the amazing restaurants in the area. I will say that the property offers a free made-to-order breakfast as well as a manager’s reception during the week. The food at the banquet was excellent quality and well-prepared, well-presented.

Six: back to the conference! The program featured a variety of workshops for writers at any stage in their career. The Keynote speakers – well, I loved J.A. Jance’s talk on Friday night. The Book Signing Saturday afternoon is always fun. I love my display!!! And I'll tell you all about it in my Monday, May 9th post.

Seven: Surprise!!! Who knew I’d find a fantastic surprise in the bathroom! The amenities: shampoo, shower gel and moisturizer by Giovanni. So? Giovanni is the name of the hero in Gabriella, book six of The Sacred Women’s Circle series. And my first reader and I were working on edits on that book while I was in Arizona! One of those synchronicities that raises goosebumps.

Circle April 2018 on your calendar. I’m not sure what the exact dates for the next Desert Dreams Writer’s Conference are other than it will be held in April 2018. I hope it will be back at the Chaparral Suites which will, by then, be an Embassy Suites property.


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

Monday, May 2, 2016

Time Out, Time Away, Time---

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

The month of March was challenging in a new way. For the past fourteen years it has been challenging because it is the month where my Dad (1998) Mom (2002) and younger brother (2004) died. I was half way through March this year before that even registered. Why?

Virus and then bacterial infections.

Yep, March was The Month of Illness. I’m not someone who does ‘illness’ well and by the end of the month I was so “sick and tired” of being sick and tired (viruses generally sap all my energy and the one(s) I had in March were no exception.

I’d also planned for over a year, to not only attend the Desert Dreams Writer’s Conference but to extend my time in Arizona. By March I already had my airline tickets and my hotel reservation for the conference (I’d registered for the conference last year).

What to do? Both of my eyes were red and watery from a bacterial eye infection, my left ear was plugged – still, my sinuses were Not my friend and I hadn’t written a single word since March 2nd when I started to feel sick.

In the end I decided to go. One of those “I can feel miserable there as well as here” and the additional “Maybe a new place will help and everything allergy related will disappear.”

Maybe not an ocean of water flowing around me but close!
So, after flooding my dining room (literally the plants were overflowing onto the floor where the water took on a life of its own and ran (no, it didn’t trickle – nowhere near trickle) under furniture. Of course I’m supposed to be on my way to the airport when this all happens!!!

Take a deep breath --- well, take several of them.

I’m now in Arizona at my friend’s house. After hauling my suitcases in and getting my ‘scorpion relocation kit and instructions’ (that's another blog post) we head to the store (Sprouts). Once back at the house, I drop an 8 pound bag of ice that breaks open and springs across the floor (from wall to wall and under everything in between). To tell the truth, I was so stunned I just stood there with my mouth hanging open while my friend scrambled to round up the scattered ice. I won’t bore you with my other ‘water adventures’ while in Arizona but there were others.

Since I believe things happen in our lives for a reason, especially if it is something that happens over and over. All that water flowing around me? I was scrambling to figure out what that meant!!!

Water is critical for us to survive. We can actually go without food better than we can without water.

Water is used to clean, to wash ourselves and our belongings.

Water has a spiritual connotation. Think Holy Water, baptism and also in my tradition, sacred wells.

And then all major religions have a story about a Great Flood!

Being in Arizona, water is especially critical so I always had my water bottle with me (of course it broke the first week I was there). Taking time to think about the spiritual aspect of water was helpful. I’d not been involved with my daily spiritual practice since early March when I became sick – that changed!

Time out—I’d originally thought this would be a great time to write. I’d called it a “Writing Retreat”. In actuality, I never even got my laptop out of the case. And, I never wrote anything on my current WIP Sophia.

Time away—Time Away from the rigors of my everyday life. My time in Arizona became a retreat from my everyday life. No television at all for two full weeks and then some. Two short stints on my friend’s desktop computer to check Desert Rose Chapter Meeting and then return flight and print out my boarding pass.

Time—To gain perspective, to reconnect with myself and where I want my life to go.

Time out, Time away—Time.

Since returning home, I’ve had a couple of ‘water events’. The most recent was yesterday when not only did a plant I was watering overflow, but I dropped another bottle of water that splashed and flowed—reaching for my laptop and briefcase which I narrowly rescued. Dripping into a pair of shoes (saved the laptop and briefcase, not the shoes).

Do you ever have some kind of minor (in the relative scheme of things that is) disaster that happens again and again? What do you do when that happens? (You can see I don't believe I'm the only one this kind of thing happens to).

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