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.
Sheri Wren Haymore grew up in Mt. Airy, NC and still lives there, where she owns and operates Scenic Gifts, which features custom wood furniture made by her artisan craftsman husband, Clyde.
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.