Thursday, September 08, 2011

What are you Reading Thursday - Barbara Wallace

Harlequin Romance Author Barbara Wallace confesses to addicition to Self Help Books.

It’s true. I’m one of those people with a perverse addiction to self-help and psychology literature. I’m not sure, but I think I might have been a psychiatrist in a previous life. Either that or I was Rochester’s wife.

Anyway, that said, when I see a new self help book on the shelves, I can’t help but flip through to see if the author has provided any new information. What I’ve discovered over the years is that this obsession has actually made me a better writer. Or perhaps I should say reading them has helped me navigate the choppy waters of my writing career.
I mean let’s face it; we writers spend a lot of time in our heads. Way too much sometimes. We spend a lot of time slaving on our craft alone. And then when our work is finished, we subject ourselves – willingly I might add – to judgment by others. If ever a group was tailor made for pop psychology, it’s the creative world.

Two of the self-help books I tackled this summer were What to Say when You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter and Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff. (Judith also wrote the book Positive Energy, a book that gave me a great deal of insight into the idea you can hold on to a dream too tightly.) Like any self-help book, there was advice I found too simplistic. If changing your life was as simple as following the steps in a guide book, we’d all be completely happy human beings. But I did read a few pieces of information that made me pause, such as “Your brain believes what it is programmed to believe. To truly change your thinking, you have to undo years of programming.” And so now I have a sign up on my mirror that I read every day that will help reprogram my belief about writing productivity. From Orloff, I relearned the value of meditation and how to listen to my subconscious when dealing with a stressful situation. So now I try to remember to deep breathe a few times a day when I’m racing towards a fast approaching deadline.
The list goes on and on. Fact is I’ve learned – and relearned – dozens of tidbits from these books, all of which I’ve something and I honestly believe these tiny pieces of information are what helped me find writing success. At the very least, I’ve helped keep a whole bunch of other authors in business by buying their books.

I’m curious now. I know I’m not the only one with a love of these books. What’s your favorite self-help book and how did it help you with your writing career? Who knows? Maybe I’ll find another one to add to my library!
Barb Wallace’s latest Harlequin Romance fits right in with her self-help book obsession. Her heroine Zoe Hamilton is an advice columnist. This summer Zoe’s headed to the New England coast to lick her divorce wounds. She promises herself she won’t get involved with trying to “save” her reclusive neighbor, ex Army officer Jake Meyers. But Jake’s green eyes are so haunted, Zoe soon finds she can’t help but try and heal The Heart of a Hero. The question is, in doing so, will she lose her own? To learn more about Barbara Wallace and her books, visit her website Her latest The Heart of Hero is available now for purchase at all good bookstores and online, including E-harlequin and Amazon.


  1. Hi Barb,
    I'm not a big self help reader, but I like "Wishcraft" by Barbara Scher and "59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot," by Richard Wiseman.
    They're both good at recognizing how to work around your personality more than trying to change it. I like that ;-)

  2. Hi Barb!
    I'm not a big self help book reader, either. (I tend to think I have it all together - even when I don't!) Just stopping by to say, "HI." And congratulations on both new release!

  3. Oh, Jill - you just gave me two titles to look up. Thanks! (I am such a sucker)

    Hi Wendy! -- You do have it all together :-)

  4. I like The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.

    My favorite habit? Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood

    My favorite quote?

    "[I]f you want to have a happy marriage, be the kind of person who generates positive energy and sidesteps negative energy rather than empowering it. If you want to have a more pleasant, cooperative teenager, be a more understanding, empathic, consistent, loving parent."

    Happy double release day, Barbara!

  5. I'm not a self-help reader either, but I can totally see how reading them would help with writing! Do you find they help with crafting your characters as well?

    And I have to ask - what does the sign on your mirror say? :)