Thursday, September 12, 2013

Elizabeth Westmark's Experience Reading A Higher Voice

Thank you, Beth Westmark, for sharing your thoughts! Here's what she had to say about A Higher Voice.


How do you select the next book you’re going to read?

I’m at a stage of life where, in theory, I can spend all day and all night, too, if I want, tossing back bon-bons and reading books for pleasure. I’m retired from working for other people, don’t have any kids, have a healthy self and a healthy spouse — all the time in the world, right? Except for this pesky fairy godmother writing monster that pushes me 24/7 to learn and write as though I were on some externally-imposed deadline.

I race through writing craft books, highlighting and making furious notes.  I read books outside of my favorite fiction genres because an author of a writing craft book has suggested a particular writer for “voice” or “dialogue” or “plotting.” Well, that’s cool, because as a result I’ve discovered Donald Bartheleme, Graham Green, Elmore Leonard, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Neal Stephenson, and a long list of others.  It’s a thrilling treasure hunt, with plenty of pleasure in the learning.
So, I’m reading more widely than ever before, but it’s not sitting in a lawn chair in the shade of an old oak tree kind of reading. It’s reading while brushing my teeth, getting in a few more chapters stolen from sleep, you know the kind of reading I mean. You probably all do it, too. There’s a sense of urgency, a sense of “I should be finishing my own novel instead of reading someone else’s!”
When Sheri Wren Haymore’s novel, A Higher Voice, surfaced on my radar screen, it was a moment of serendipity. You see, Sheri’s sister, Patsy Conrad, is a good friend of mine, and when she told me about Sheri’s book, I ordered it as much out of solidarity with my friend than because I thought it would be a good book. When it came in the mail, my first thought was, “Wow, nice cover.”

Sometime later that day, or the next, I started the first chapter while sitting at my desk. Then, without thinking about what I was doing, I took the book and slipped quietly upstairs to the guest bedroom, where I sat for several hours in my late mother-in-law’s blue upholstered rocking chair, and read for pure pleasure. This is a novel that strives to explore themes of hope, gratitude, and forgiveness within a Christian context. Not, however, as Sheri explains, in a “shove-it-down-your-neck, you have to believe what I believe” kind of way. Instead, she weaves a tale about Britt, a tormented rock musician who is losing his voice and struggling with inner demons and a brother out for vengeance, and Dena, his new-found true love, whose faith and devotion represent a kind of woman new to his experience. Are they too different to sustain a lasting relationship? Will they triumph over previous lives and dark forces that threaten to tear them apart?  A Higher Voice explores their struggle within the framework of romantic suspense.

A Higher Voice is a good story, well-written, with an ending that satisfies.  It is Haymore’s debut novel. Her second, A Deeper Cut, will be out this November. It will also be published by Wisdom House Books.
When you’re ready for a good old-fashioned read that will have you pulling for the main characters, I recommend A Higher Voice. Details about upcoming book signings and other projects can be found at Sheri’s website.

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