Wowed and Humbled and Terrified

This has been an incredible week for me. Thanks to the efforts of a dear friend who has been an advocate for my books, I’ve been invited to participate in Shenandoah University’s Children’s Literature Conference!

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I’ve participated in panels and sessions at the Golden Crown Literary Conference but, to be honest, most of us in the lesbian fiction genre will never be bestsellers outside of our tiny niche. We have very loyal and wonderful readers, but they are small in number.

This Children’s Lit conference is an entirely different part of the literary universe. This is its 33rd year. The presenters and guests are world renowned. They are major award winners (think Newbery Medal) and have been on the NY Times bestseller list. They are mainstream, major bestsellers in children’s literature. This is rarified air.

The organizer of the conference, Dr. Karen Huff-Stewart, has been so gracious and excited about the addition of an LGBTQ element.

I’ll be speaking about four of my books that feature young protagonists. Like me, the girls in my books knew at a very young age that they were different. There are a lot of books now written for very young children with two moms or two dads, and tons of YA books written for teens in high school (and thank goodness for all of them!), but there are very few written for kids in between – too young to be worried about dating or romance but old enough to know who they’re drawn to or that they identify differently.


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I cannot tell you how excited and how terrified I am about this opportunity. Wish me luck!




The Magic Starts Here

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows that I am an author. I know we all got gobsmacked by the results of our national election last November, and we’ll be dealing with the fallout from that for years, maybe for the rest of my life given the speed at which the world I know is being dismantled right before my eyes.

Anyway, for that reason, I’ve decided to write this blog post about writing.

I am now (trumpets blaring) at 92,000 words and nearing completion of the third book in my fantasy trilogy-that-may-not-stop-at-three-books.



For any of you who haven’t read Rising From the Ashes and The Portal, what in the world is wrong with you? For those who have, thank you!

So, for the uninitiated, this trilogy (we’ll stick with that for now) is set in ancient Ireland, about 700-800 CE. This era in Éire’s history is fascinating. Christianity had been introduced only about 300-400 years previously. We really don’t know how stubbornly people clung to the old ways because the monks who wrote the histories had their own agenda. (And we thought fake news was a new thing…)

In my world, the old ways and magic aren’t giving up that easily. Mages and keepers of the old ways are still finding children born with magic, training them and teaching them the old traditions.

We know the Romans never bothered to cross the Irish Sea to conquer Ireland. Too much trouble, I guess. So the Irish Celts were left to the rival clans fighting things out amongst themselves although they had a High King… sometimes. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of agreement on just how widespread the High King’s influence was, and there’s a lot of evidence that the rival clans continued to war with one another.

I took a bit (or more than a bit) of liberty with the political environment of Éire in my stories in terms of which clans were Christianized versus which still straddled the line between the old ways and the new.

And then, just to make things interesting, enter… the Vikings! These seafarers from the north countries – modern-day Norway, Denmark, Sweden – were expanding their territories, either for trading, raiding and/or settling. The Viking invasions of Ireland began in this same era that my stories are taking place. The invasions were sometimes successful, sometimes thwarted. The Irish gave as good as they got, and the fighting was by all accounts pretty brutal. We know monasteries throughout Éire and Britannia were sacked repeatedly. Eventually, the Vikings did manage to conquer enough territory in Ireland, that they had their own settlements, such as Dubhlinn, now the capital city of Dublin, as well as Cork, Waterford – mostly coastal settlements.

So the factual part of the history was all stuff I needed to research. See the folder in this photo?

Folder 1

This is where the magic begins!

This is my treasure trove of most of the research I’ve done for this trilogy. There are tons of bookmarked websites as well, but this folder has traveled with me daily for well over a year and a half. It has all kinds of scribbled notes, lists of Irish names, tons of maps of which clans ruled where in which era.

Folder 3

It even has a page detailing the sexual habits of badgers. They are horny little critters and apparently quite loud while doing it. They love sex almost as much as they love digging! And female badgers can hold their embryos in a kind of suspended animation so that they implant in the uterus when conditions are favorable for the cubs to survive. They really are fascinating. As we all know. Broc and Cuán were two of my favorite characters in this trilogy.

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Anyone who writes historical fiction can tell you how much research goes into tracking down authentic details. You really have to get it right, because someone out there knows more about everything than you do, and if you mess with the details, they will let you know about it (hopefully kindly).

Not everyone enjoys doing research, but I do. I’ve learned so much in the historical novels I’ve written. Only a tiny bit of the research actually makes it into the stories, but hopefully, the knowledge base that is there comes through in a feeling of authenticity when you read the books.

The magic comes when  readers say they felt transported into the world you created. When that happens, it all comes together.

Soon, you’ll be able to delve into The Standing Stones, the third book in The Dragonmage Saga! I’ll reveal a cover and blurb soon.

The Portal

One of the absolute coolest things about writing a fantasy is getting to create a world and make up the rules for that world. I had no idea when I sat down and started my fantasy trilogy, The Dragonmage Saga, how far this story arc would take me and how it would stretch my writing muscles.

I have now completed the second book in the trilogy, The Portal. It is scheduled for release December 1st, but I can’t wait to show off the gorgeous cover for this book! A HUGE thank-you to Jane Morrison for the use of her wonderful photo and Patty G. Henderson for her cover work.

Drum roll…


The blurb:

“The Dragonmage Saga continues as Caymin and Péist return to Ireland. Together, mage and dragon seek allies to try and stop a pending war with a fanatical monk determined to rid Éire of magic. But the spreading tide of Christianity isn’t the only threat. An ancient evil—one that dates back to the last dragon war a thousand winters ago—threatens the present.

The Portal into the otherworld is the only way to the past, but the otherworld is the realm of the gods and goddesses and other creatures of the old stories, and it is unforgiving to those who do not belong. Caymin and Péist soon learn that, in the otherworld, the deepest desires of their hearts become traps. While there, the young dragonmage and her dragon realize they are pawns in a struggle for power that was set in motion long before they were born. Even those they trust have been using them. Only through their bond with each other can they hope to survive the trials awaiting them and find their way back through the Portal to this realm. But returning may not be an option if they have to sacrifice all to bring peace to a world that no longer holds a place for dragons and mages.

Book Two of The Dragonmage Saga”

For any of you who haven’t yet read the first book in the trilogy, Rising From the Ashes: The Chronicles of Caymin, what are you waiting for?


I know not everyone likes to read excerpts, but for those who do, here’s the Prologue:



Deep in a cave, a slender woman rose from her bed. Rubbing her arm, she neared the fire and flicked a hand to bring the flames to life. The dancing light threw shadows against the rock walls. Nearby, nestled in a depression in the cave floor padded with many skins, a solid black shape lay. One eyelid opened, revealing a yellow eye.

“What is it, Ailill?”

The woman shook her head. “I do not know. I am restless.”

An enormous black head rose on a sinuous neck, and the edges of scales gleamed in the firelight. “Your old wound pains you. I can feel it.”

“Yes.” Ailill rubbed her shoulder again, kneading the muscles. Her eyes and mouth were marked by fine lines and her dark hair glinted silver in places. She sighed a sigh that was weary with age and time. “Do you feel it, Ríona? The weight of all we have seen and done?”

“We did what we had to do. It was war.”

Ailill turned to look at her companion. “And it is coming again.”

The great black dragon laid her head on the rock floor of the cave next to Ailill. “What have you seen?”

Ailill shook her head. “It is not clear.” She unfurled a scroll, holding the parchment so that she could read by firelight. “He wrote of a girl and a white dragon. The time is drawing near. Somehow, they will meet.”

She rested a hand on the dragon’s jaw. “All is shadows. I can see that they have left Inishbreith, but beyond that, nothing. What I can see is that they will be hunted and tested in ways they are not prepared for. I wish they were not alone. They are but cubs themselves.”

The dragon sighed, and sparks flew from her nostrils. “What choice did we have? Whom would we ally with if we were there? Our presence would only put them in more danger.”

“You are right,” Ailill said. “They are the only ones who can do what must be done.”

“They are strong and true. They will not fail.”

They sat looking into the fire for long heartbeats. Ailill fingered a crystal hanging from a leather cord around her neck.

“It is out there, somewhere. I feel it calling to me in the deep places of the night.” Ailill’s voice was heavy with trepidation. “If it is found, all we fought for will have been for naught.”

“No,” said Ríona. “We bought the world a thousand winters of peace. That was not for naught. But… you are right. I, too, have felt it. If it calls to us, it must to others as well. If it is found, the world will be torn asunder.”

“What if we helped them to find it first?” Ailill tilted her head as she considered. “If it is to be found, mayhap we can assure it is found by Caymin and Péist.”

“But how? Even we do not know where it was hidden.”

“There may be clues to be found in the scrolls here.” Ailill frowned. “Have we been neglectful? Content to retreat to this land to lick our wounds and forget the world we left? Or were we just blind to think that our part in it had ended, and we would never need be troubled with that world again? Either way, we must try to help.”

“It may be that we can guide them from here.” Ríona nudged her head closer and Ailill obliged with a scratch on the ridge above her eyes. “We will call to them and pull them to us in spiritwalks. In the spirit realm, we may be able to teach them what they must know.”

Ailill leaned against the dragon, drawing comfort from her nearness. “I fear the days of dragons and mages are coming to an end, even here.”

A low rumble came from Ríona, echoing within the cave. “Two-legs will reap what they sow. If they permit a world with no magic, no connection to the earth, no balance among the life forces, they will have to live with the consequences.”

“Those are the shadows I cannot see past. If humans do not act now to restore balance in the world, it will be too late.”

Ríona closed her eyes. “It may already be too late.”

© 2016 Caren J. Werlinger

From This Nobody

“I’m Nobody! Who are you? Are you – Nobody – too?”  emily dickinson

In recently releasing my first fantasy, I dipped my toe into a HUGE, and I mean enormous pool of authors also writing fantasy. Movies and television shows like “Game of Thrones”, I’m sure, have helped fuel this genre, but for decades before that, it was spurred by  Tolkien, Le Guin, McCaffrey and others.

Lesbian fiction, on the other hand, is a relatively small genre – though it’s getting bigger every day. The authors and readers of lesbian fiction often speculate about why our work doesn’t appeal to the mainstream, and why we never reach mainstream levels of success.

This newest release has taught me something, though. In making my initial foray into being published through the lesbian fiction niche, I was able to create a name and following that I never, ever would have if I had published the fantasy first. Okay, maybe there’s a tiny chance it would have taken off (like it does in my dreams) and become a best-seller, but it’s not likely.

The extra visibility gained for this book by readers who already knew my work, and especially the extra boost of early reviews, has helped tremendously to get this story out to  readers who might not have found it otherwise.


So, by way of thanks, I’m offering three signed copies of Rising From the Ashes: The Chronicles of Caymin to commenters on this blog. All you have to do is comment below before midnight Eastern time on Friday 8 April. DO NOT post your e-mail address. I will reply to the commenters who win (I’ll use a random number generator, so please only comment once). Next Saturday, I’ll post the names of the winners and ask you to e-mail me so we can arrange delivery. This is open to anyone anywhere in the world.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting my work.

Pax, Caren

9 April Update: It’s now Saturday morning and I’ve done the random number thingie…

And the winners are: Amy, Abby and Anya. I swear it was a random NUMBER generator and not a letter generator that got stuck on ‘A’!

Congratulations to them and thank you to everyone who commented. I’ll be contacting the A’s separately to arrange delivery.

A Dream Come True

For the last few years, I’ve wanted to write a fantasy series that has been running around in my head. Other stories pushed to the forefront, and the fantasy sat back, content to wait its turn as it gestated in my head, growing to a stage where it was ready to come to life.

I am thrilled to present the cover and an excerpt of Rising From the Ashes: The Chronicles of Caymin. This is Book I in The Dragonmage Saga, and will eventually be at least a trilogy.


This cover is one of my favorites of all of my book covers. My eternal gratitude to Jane Morrison for permission to use one of her gorgeous photos, and to Patty G. Henderson for her stellar cover work.

Here’s the blurb for this book:

Rising From the Ashes: The Chronicles of Caymin

Ancient Ireland – an era of clan wars, petty kings and invasions by raiders from the north.

As Christianity tightens its hold, magic and the old ways fight to keep their place in the hearts of the people.

Born into this world is Ash, orphaned and maimed, left to die. She is rescued by a clan of badgers and raised to be one of them. As she grows, so does her magic, until at last she comes to the attention of other humans. Some of them want to protect her; some want to use her.

When she bonds with an orphaned dragon cub, the two of them become pawns in a bid for power. Forced to flee, dragon and dragonmage embark on a quest to seek the answers as to why they were bonded and what their future holds.

This is a story about a girl faced with impossible choices. My main character is about ten, so there is no sex, but she does have a lesbian mentor, and lives in a segment of society that is open to all pairings among people and animals.

It does NOT involve a teenage love triangle, werewolves or vampires! If you liked Miserere, you’ll love this story. If you haven’t read Miserere, why in the world haven’t you?

This book will be available for pre-order on Amazon within the next day or so, and should be available for purchase by February. I’ll keep you updated.

I know not everyone likes to read excerpts, but if you do, here are the first two chapters.

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