Hear Ye, Hear Ye

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courtesy: Wikipedia

Update: 22 June 2019

I assigned each commenter a number in the order in which their comments are listed below, and then used a random number generator to pick the winners. I’ll be emailing each of you. If you don’t hear from me today, Saturday, 22 June, please contact me: cjwerlingerbooks AT yahoo DOT com. Thank you to everyone who participated! Happy listening!

Looking Through Windows: Ashley Wilson

Neither Present Time: Beth Goodman

The Beast That Never Was: Heather

Year of the Monsoon: roxie

Cast Me Gently: Susie Smythe

In This Small Spot: Bev

A Bittersweet Garden: Cyndi Heet

It’s June, it’s Pride month, and it’s audiobook release month for 7 of my novels!!

My Audible link is HERE.

I have to admit, prior to this, the only audiobooks I’d ever listened to was the Harry Potter series. I’ve read them I don’t know how many times and have listened to them at least 4 times. Jim Dale does such an incredible job reading those books. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this experience, but the narrators and folks at Audible have been incredible to work with.

From the bits I’ve had a chance to listen to, it’s so cool revisiting these books in this format! It reminds me of being a kid and being read to.

I think a whole new world has opened up for me!

The books currently available are:

Looking Through Windows    

Neither Present Time

The Beast That Never Was

Year of the Monsoon

Cast Me Gently

In This Small Spot

A Bittersweet Garden

To celebrate, I’m going to give away one free code for each book! To win, just leave a comment on this blog between now and 21 June. On the Solstice, I will draw 7 winners, one for each book!

Yay June, Blessed Solstice, and Happy Listening!

 

 

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Angels? Or Leprechauns?

Shamrocks

A few really incredible things have happened recently. One, I already posted about – that When the Stars Sang was one of four finalists in Contemporary Fiction in the Sarton Women’s Book Award. I now know that it didn’t win (congratulations to the winner, Mary Avery Kabrich), but it was still an incredible honor to be one of the top four.

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Then, about a month ago, I was contacted by a rep from Audible, saying he’d been given my name by a colleague, and wondered if I would be interested in signing with them to produce some of my novels as audio books. At first, I was certain it was a hoax. Turns out it wasn’t. And, now that the contract is signed, I’m ready to announce that Audible will be producing SEVEN of my novels!

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Ann Etter had already agreed to narrate When the Stars Sang for me, and that book should be ready by early summer. But the others will be:

Looking Through Windows, In This Small Spot, Neither Present Time, The Beast That Never Was, Cast Me Gently, Year of the Monsoon, and my newest, A Bittersweet Garden.

I have no idea who the colleague was who first brought me to Anthony’s attention, but she (or he) is my angel. Or maybe my leprechaun, since this all transpired during March as I released A Bittersweet Garden.

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Speaking of angels, I offered a promo copy to a friend who reads and reviews, and she replied that she prefers to buy a copy to help support my fundraisers. It’s nearly time for my spring/summer fundraiser for The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, and I’ll be announcing that in a few weeks.

But for all of you who have supported the spring Food Bank fundraiser or my fall/winter fundraiser for Feeding Pets of the Homeless, I want you to know that WE have raised and donated over $3800 to those organizations. And that doesn’t count the donations from readers who already own all of my books but told me they were donating directly to my charities or to their own local food banks! I truly am blessed with the most generous, thoughtful people in my life.

The other incredible thing that happened in 2018, six years after I founded Corygn Publishing and began publishing my own books, is that my sales tripled! Of course, that came with a heftier tax bill this year than I had planned for, but it’s all part of the growth and that is thanks to all of you! For the longest time, I was certain I had about twelve (maybe fifteen on a good day) dedicated readers, but that seems to finally be changing.

I really cannot thank you all enough – those who have supported me from the beginning, those who have newly discovered my books, and those who review and recommend my stories to friends. You have all become my leprechauns, helping me help others.

Sláinte!

(Nearly) Perfect Timing!

In my last post, I mentioned that I had proposed and moderated a panel for the GCLS conference titled: Hopeful Ever After: A Different Kind of HEA.

The basic premise was that in the 50s and 60s, all lesbian and gay novels HAD to end tragically (suicide was a favorite, or institutionalization) or with the main characters marrying someone of the opposite gender, otherwise the US Postal Service would not deliver them in the mail. Probably hard for younger folks to believe, but true.

When the next wave of lesbian novels came out in the 70s and 80s, it seemed everything had to have a happy ending — an understandable reaction to all that came before.

So what we were discussing was whether lesbian fiction has grown to the point where we can have realistic depictions of lesbian life, including the drama and trials of everyday life with characters who happen to be lesbian — just like normal people (go figure!) and how readers react to stories that end hopefully rather than happily.

It should come as no surprise that we did not arrive at any unanimous agreement. Some authors and readers love the happily ever after endings that are expected with romances, and they write and read to escape. Others don’t mind tackling tough subjects. If you’ve read my books, you know where I stand on that.

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Then, today, I saw this review on Goodreads for Year of the Monsoonexcerpt below (please note English is her second language… remarkable how well she expresses herself!)

“I have come to known that all the stories written by Caren have a very mature tone in them. What I have only come to realize after the third book is that, despite all the complicated characters with turmoils, lies, complicated relationships, broken hearts, distrustful partners, damaged minds and all things negative, Caren makes sure that there’s always a sense of hope in between. It’s always there, hidden between the words. And instead of being drown by all the negative feelings evoked by all the dramas, you actually feel hopeful in a very tender manner. It’s the way Caren crafts her words, her sentences and her stories that make you believe that there is always light and everything will be okay. There is always a positive note to all things that happen. It’s like telling you “Yes, everything in life is falling apart right now” and then there’s a silent whisper behind “Maybe they are now falling into the right places”. That’s how I feel when reading her stories, I feel more inspired; more encouraged knowing that.

This book: Year of Monsoon. I really love how Caren uses Monsoon as a metaphor to life. I live in Asia, and we have monsoon seasons. I have witnessed how Monsoon could damage a city or a town every year. And every year after it passes, life goes back to normal again. We pick up the pieces and rebuild whatever that has lost during the season. I used to think that Monsoon was a curse, but I don’t think I would ever look at it the same way again after reading this book. Now I see hope, because I see that now after monsoon passes, everyone, strangers, friends or foes will come together and pick up the pieces for each other, patting at each other back, laughing, smiling, leaving all the animosity behind. Because they know, the monsoon has passed, the houses are going to be rebuilt, the land is soiled, the crops are going to grow again. Life is going to begin anew.” 

I cannot tell you how this review made my heart sing! YC summarized exactly what I was getting at during our panel. Even when we aren’t all perfect and rich and beautiful (e.g. almost every character in most romance novels), and though life throws things at us sometimes, books can be written in a way that inspires, that leaves a sense of optimism and hope. And the destruction that comes with the storms that buffet us (literal and otherwise) is not permanent; we do rebuild, we do come back stronger than we were before.

We’ve said it many times, but it can’t be said too often. Thank you, thank you to those who take the time to read and review our books. Maybe our words give you hope, but you give it right back!

Pax

GCLS 2015

If you’re involved in the lesbian fiction world at all, you know that the Golden Crown Literary Society’s 2015 conference just wrapped. It was only my second time in attendance. New Orleans is… different. Not my cup of tea (and the boiled water advisory and lack of showers in the middle of it didn’t help), but it was a good time, nonetheless.

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Now, I am by nature an extremely shy, introverted person. If I were to attend this event by myself, I would probably spend all my time sitting in a corner during the sessions and then hightailing it to my room to eat all of my meals. Luckily, between my partner’s very extroverted nature and the friendliness of the other women attending, I have felt only a warm welcome. It saddens me to read posts by a few people who felt they were excluded or weren’t part of the tribe. All I can say is, yes, there are “cliques”, but I think they are born more of common connections those women share rather than any desire to be exclusive. I had wonderful conversations with all kinds of people: Sandra Moran, Rachel Spangler, Jeanne Barrett Magill, Ann McMan, Lynne Pierce, Lee Fitzsimmons, Jae, Cindy Rizzo, Dawn Carter, Rosie Moore, Mary Deutcher, RJ Samuel, Linda Hill and her right arm, Becky Arbogast. I know I’m leaving names out, but those are just some of the writerly people I spoke with. There were tons of readers I got to catch up with as well.

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As hard as it was for me, I also put myself out there, proposing a panel which was fantastic! Titled Hopeful Ever After: A Different Kind of HEA, my panelists included KG MacGregor, Kenna White, Jaime Clevenger, RJ Samuel and Jae. We had a packed room listen to us debate the merits and pitfalls of nothing but Happily Ever Afters in lesbian novels, and it was enlightening to hear what everyone had to say.

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I also did my first ever reading. Aside from trying not to hyperventilate and pass out, my reading from Turning for Home went well, and Bella Distribution sold all the copies they’d brought with them.

If I let myself think about all the things I don’t like about me: my voice, the way I waddle when I walk due to a wonky back (how’s that for some alliteration!), on and on, I would never have the nerve to get up in front of people. So, my advice to those who struggle to feel like they belong at this conference is just work up the nerve to volunteer for something, anything! A panel, a chat/reading, the registration desk, anything. The organization is totally run on volunteer effort and if you put yourself out there, you will meet people and there will be more of a sense of belonging.

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Another highlight of this conference for many of us was meeting Rita Mae Brown, who received the Lee Lynch Classic Award for Rubyfruit Jungle. (Personally, I think Six of One is her best book.) While everyone else in the line had a book (or five) for Rita Mae to sign, I merely wanted to thank her. When my first novel, Looking Through Windows, was published, I naively sent her a copy asking for advice. She very kindly took the time to write me back, including a little blurb for the book, encouraging me to just keep writing. I have. I’m sure she doesn’t remember, but that letter and her kindness meant a great deal to me.

IMG_0706Year of the Monsoon’s cover made the finals.

I posted some other photos on my Facebook Author page: Caren Werlinger Author

Next year’s conference will be in Washington DC (kind of, actually it’s in Alexandria). If you have a chance to attend, please do! And be sure to say hello, even if you’re sure it will kill you.

Fall Update 2014

There have been a few bits of good news to share recently – some book-related, some not.

For those of you who read my earlier blog posts, Some Days (part I and part II), I wanted to give you an update on “Brian”. His surgery for his pancreatic cancer went as well as could be expected. The doctor feels he got the whole tumor. Pancreatic cancer, though, is a nasty type of cancer. No one can say Brian is cured or in remission, but this was truly good news.

This morning, the finalists for the Rainbow Awards were posted, and She Sings of Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things was listed in the Lesbian Contemporary Romance Category. You can see the full list HERE. To celebrate, I’ve placed She Sings on sale for $2.99 at Amazon and Smashwords.

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Year of the Monsoon received a wonderful review from Lesbian Reading Room HERE.

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I’ll keep you posted here about the Rainbow Awards and other announcements. Thank you for reading!

To Search… Or Not

Family. Most people are born into a family and don’t think much about it. As the adage goes, “You can’t live with ’em, and you can’t live without ’em.” I’ve known many families who truly seem to enjoy being with each other. My in-laws are such a family. They have a great time when they gather. There’s a lot of laughing and teasing, and it’s a lot of fun to be around them. I’ve known other families where it’s not like that at all. The house crackles with tension when they’re together, waiting for some explosion to happen in the form of an outburst or argument.

My own family growing up was a happy one – or at least I remember it that way. We were four kids growing up with a mom and dad where my dad worked and my mom stayed at home with us. I didn’t say, “We were four kids born to…” because we weren’t. We three oldest were all adopted when my parents realized they probably weren’t going to have any children of their own. I was adopted at six weeks, and was about a year and a half old when we adopted my middle sister, so I don’t remember much of her arrival. I was probably four or five when we adopted my brother. I do remember going to pick him up. The nuns who cared for the children there sent him to his new home with a giant teddy bear, a big plastic bag of toy soldiers and assorted other toys. I promptly confiscated the soldiers, plopped down in the teddy bear’s lap and told my parents we could send him back now.

As often seems to happen, once my parents accepted that they weren’t going to be able to have children, my mom got pregnant, and my youngest sister was born on my seventh birthday. I thought that was pretty cool… for a while. I got over it. (Just kidding) Really, it was fun sharing birthdays. She and I have been very close all our lives.

I was born in an era when adoption was a dirty little secret for many people, as was being unwed and pregnant. Most couples didn’t disclose that their baby was adopted, and girls who had gotten themselves into “trouble” were taken in by various charity homes until they had their babies. I was supposed to be matched up complexion-wise to be brown-eyed and brown-haired like my parents, but… I popped out with red hair and blue eyes. Our parents always told us, from the time we were tiny, that we had been adopted, and they made us feel special about it. In fact, I used to tease my baby sister all the time that mom and dad got to choose us, but they had to take her. (She still insists she was a miracle, but that’s a whole other blog post…)

I know that many adoptees, especially those generally my age (let’s just say 40-60 and leave it at that), came from a system of sealed adoption records with no way of knowing their biological origins. For some adoptees, that unknown torments them with many questions: “why was I given away?” or “who were my real parents?” or “do I have other family out there?

Those questions, that search for family or, more importantly, the search for the meaning of family, is the central theme of my newest novel, Year of the Monsoon.

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I used bits of my past in making up Leisa, my main character in that story. Like her, I was supposed to have been given up for adoption as soon as I was born. My biological mother apparently changed her mind. For those first six weeks of my life, I had a different name. I was told she really struggled with making the right decision. I have a hand-written note from her detailing how I liked to be fed and my sleeping patterns. I think – I hope – that there was love in that note. I treasure that connection to her, but I have never searched for her.

If I was accurately told what age she was when I was born, then she should be in her late 70s by now. I know, statistically, if I don’t search for her soon, my chances of finding her alive are getting slimmer.

I’ve never been tormented by the “why” and the “who am I” kind of questions. I am myself. I was raised by two wonderful people who are both gone now. I have a big extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins whom I don’t get to see often enough, but I know they’re out there.

When I was in school, I wrote a paper on the pros and cons of unsealing adoption records. My mother said she would understand if I ever wanted to look for my biological mother, but my dad was defensive about it. I think the prospect scared him. I didn’t understand that then, but I do now.

I guess if I did ever get to meet my biological mother, the main thing I would want to say to her is, “Thank you.” For loving me enough to make the right decision and give me to people who were ready to raise a child. For giving me a better chance in life than she probably could have given me.

For others of you out there who are adopted or maybe have adopted children, there are no easy answers to these questions. The need to find those answers is a very individual thing. I can only relate my experience. I can tell you that simple honesty takes care of a good many of the questions.

The concept of family is such a varied, morphing thing. For LGBT people, the concept often takes on a different meaning. So many have been disowned by their biological families that they have no choice but to put together a new one. If we choose to have children, we have to think about how we’re going to make that happen. My partner and I have friends here who are our family, and they are included any time we get together with my sister and her husband and kids. We’ve put together an eclectic family. It’s kind of weird sometimes, but it works. (My partner does remark jokingly that she is glad I’m not biologically related to my family.)

So, here’s to family – big, little, biological or not, those you love and those who drive you crazy. I hope you have others in your life whom you consider family.

 

Unveiling a New Cover

To continue the good news of this weekend, I am really pleased to unveil the cover of my next book, Year of the Monsoon, to be released in January. This cover is once again courtesy of my friend, Patty G. Henderson. Personally, I like the back cover for the paperback almost as much as the front!

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The blurb (in case you couldn’t read it on the back cover):

Leisa Yeats has always defined herself by the things that are important to her – a good family, a loving relationship and a meaningful job working with kids. Life is good. But within a span of a few weeks, all of that changes. She’s always known she was adopted, but newly revealed lies and secrets kept by her parents make her question everything she thought she knew about her beginnings. Her ten-year relationship with her partner, Nan, is unexpectedly on shaky ground when she discovers that Nan, too, has kept a secret from her all these years.

Suddenly, everything Leisa believed – about her life, about the people around her, about herself – everything is turned upside down, and nothing is as she thought it was. Pulling away to try and sort things out, Leisa reaches out to the wrong people and, in the process, nearly loses herself. Buffeted at every turn by storms that shake the very foundation of her world, Leisa must figure out whom and what she can hold onto as the winds of change blow.