Is Writing a Faustian Pact? by Caren J. Werlinger (plus 3 FREE books!)

TheBeastcoverCongratulations to E, Marie Foose, and OnaMarae! They all won an ebook copy of The Beast that Never Was! Woo!

Check it out! Today we have a special guest blogger! Caren J Werlinger is here to talk about her latest release, The Beast that Never Was.

She’s also giving away THREE e-book copies! Drop a comment into the space below. It’s that simple to enter the giveaway. 

Good luck!

Is Writing a Faustian Pact?
by Caren J. Werlinger

Like a lot of writers, I spent years penning my first novel, hiding it away, too embarrassed to admit to anyone I was actually writing a book. I wrote it privately, dreaming of someday being published, but not really daring to think it could happen.

After I finally finished it and let a few people read it, I took the plunge of trying to submit to publishers. Back then, that meant querying agents to get an acquiring editor interested enough to request the manuscript. Nada. Somewhere, I still have all of those rejection letters, and the manuscript slunk back into the darkness to languish for a long time.

Eventually, I dug it back out and looked at it with fresh eyes. I tore it apart and rewrote much of it, and this time found a small publisher willing to publish it!

Ah… being published. It was the pinnacle. I thought there couldn’t be a better feeling. But you know what? That feeling of satisfaction didn’t last very long. Soon after getting that first book published, I wanted people to actually read it. I wanted them to review it. I wanted it to do well in awards.

Deal with Devil

That’s the nature of this thing we do, and I’ve come to wonder if it isn’t a bit like a deal with the devil. At first, we write for some internal reason, but once a book is released, once we dare to put a piece of our soul out there, we want more. We crave external validation that what we put out there is good, and if we don’t get it, it makes us question why we do what we do. It makes us grumpy.

Maybe that external validation part doesn’t apply to everyone, but I know it does to me (and my partner would vouch for the grumpy part).

R.G. Emanuelle recently wrote a blog HERE, talking about self-love for authors – how to keep your head on straight when the public accolades aren’t coming and no one visits your Facebook page and your Tweets get lost in the Tweet-o-sphere (I’m not sure what tweeting actually is, so…).

I’ve been in a similar place lately. It hasn’t stopped me from writing, but it has made me question how long I want to keep banging my head against this proverbial wall – a wall made of gazillions of other books and authors and readers. It’s daunting. But I keep writing. Why?

Because my head is full of stories that want telling. As a good friend reminded me recently, my stories are kind of different. Most of them are not romances and even the ones that are, are more complicated than most of the light-hearted fare out there.

But I also write because I can. I have another job that pays the bills, so I can write what my heart tells me to write. I don’t have to write to a formula that sells. I’m a hybrid author – my two 2015 releases were published by Ylva Publishing, but I have published my other books under my own imprint, Corgyn Publishing.

My newest release is a book I really wanted to do myself. The Beast That Never Was is based on a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke that I translated years ago. The story that came from it is loosely based on Beauty and the Beast. I didn’t intend for it to turn out that way. It just did. But I am really happy with how it came together, and I can publish it just as it is, even if only twenty people read it.

Another reason I write is because it allows me the freedom to give back.

Caveat: This blog post is now going to go off on a little tangent.

I was pondering this blog entry earlier this week when I came across an old copy of “National Geographic” from August 2014 which featured a story called “Hunger In America.” In the editor’s note at the beginning of that issue, Susan Goldberg tells an anecdote in which she was joking with Cleveland educators about how much kids must love snow days up there with all the lake effect snow. Their response: “We try never to close the schools. When we do, a lot of kids won’t eat.”

Some of you reading this may know that every spring and fall since I started Corgyn Publishing in 2012, I’ve held a fundraiser for my local food bank.

People who have never been hungry (me included) don’t realize how many free breakfasts and lunches public schools give out each and every day. This time of year, as schools start to close for the summer, food banks and soup kitchens will be overwhelmed with increased demand. Poor families struggle even more when school is not in session.

The timing of this guest blog couldn’t be better!

I’ve pledged 50% of my May and June royalties to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. What a great opportunity to get word out to all of you that you can do two great things at once – you can read some really (really!) good books AND you can help a very worthy charity.

If you’ve read all of my books, THANK YOU! Really. Thank you. Maybe you’re in a position to be able to donate to your own local food bank.

To express my thanks in a more material way, I’m giving away 3 e-books of my brand-spankin’-new release, The Beast That Never Was to commenters on this blog!

So, back to my original theme, this Faustian thing we do – yes in some ways, it does feel like a deal with the devil. And when I start to question why I do it, all I have to do is step back and remind myself of the real reasons I write.


I was raised in Ohio, the oldest of four children. Much of my childhood was spent reading everything I could get my hands on, and writing my own variations on many of those stories where I could play the hero, rescuing the girl and winning her love. Then I grew up and went to college where I completed a degree in foreign languages and later another in physical therapy where for many years, my only writing was research-based, including a very dry therapeutic exercise textbook. In the mid-nineties, I began writing creatively again and re-discovered how much fun it is. My first novel, Looking Through Windows, was published in 2008 and won a GCLS award for Debut Author. In 2012, I decided to begin publishing my own books under my imprint, Corgyn Publishing. Corgyn’s first release, Miserere, followed in late 2012 to excellent reviews. 2013 saw the release of two new novels, In This Small Spot and Neither Present Time as well as the re-release of Looking Through Windows.

I live in Virginia with my partner, Beth, and our canine fur-children. That’s Hermione (the cute, furry one) in the photo above.

 

 

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43 thoughts on “Is Writing a Faustian Pact? by Caren J. Werlinger (plus 3 FREE books!)

  1. I’d love to win an e-book copy of your book. Good luck with the release, and I hope it’s a home run for you, and your local foodbank!

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  2. Thank you for the shout out for the kids who eat through schools. I work with those kids in their homes and it’s a great thing for them to have people recognize the need, especially as summer comes on. There is something we can do locally. Thanks again.

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  3. Great blog, I could really relate to the Faustian pact 🙂 After reading your blog, I went onto Amazon to look you up (so many lesfic writers, and I’m still fairly new to the genre) and just downloaded Year of the Monsoon. Looks very interesting. My wife ran the food locker at the Sacramento Food Bank so very familiar with those issues too.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I do agree, what we do does sometimes seem to me like some sort of Faustian Pact – a deal with the devil. I bang my head into my keyboard trying to make things just so and get them finished when I say I will and readers, oh they come along and they buy the books, but hardly anyone comments about anything ever other than to occasionally, maybe say “It was too short” (No matter if it was 50,000 words or 80,000 and some words). Still, I write because I have to. I can’t turn off the tap and stop.

    I didn’t know about your support for food banks and now knowing it, I admire you even more. I worked for a time for a small UCC church in inner-city Columbus, Ohio. They have a food pantry attached that is supported by that church and a handful of other small congregations. The clientele is ever increasing there but Summer is really rough. In the winter months, especially around the holidays, people are very giving. The pantry would be full. In the summer, the giving slows but the demand increases. It’s a tough state of affairs. My wife and I have since moved over an hour away from there (but still in Ohio) and I don’t get back there much at all but your post has made me think of them and their needs, so thank you.

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    1. Keep writing, Anne. I went to high school at Gahanna, and Otterbein my freshman year of college. And you’re exactly right about the dearth of donations in the summer as compared to the holidays. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Another fellow Buckeye here. I love your books because they are kind if different and you’re one of the authors I reread and continually check to see if you have anything new. Favorites I think are Miserere and Neither Present Time. Look forward to reading your latest.

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  6. Every time I read one of your books I am in literal awe of your story telling ability. As long s you keep writing I will keep buying, reading and getting a great deal of pleasure from what you wrote .

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  7. I know when I pick up one of your books I will be reading something exceptional. I look forward to reading this new book. I really hope it is a big success. Thanks for sharing your stories.

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  8. Caren – I can definitely relate to the unconventional part….mine don’t follow a formula either. I love your books, so I do hope you will continue to write what is in your heart and not a formula that is easily lost in the pile of other vaguely pleasurable books that I don’t remember. I remember yours….that should give you the kind of feedback you crave!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. How wonderful to read not only your excellent post but your shout-out about food banks. I was once the executive director of a United Way agency that served children of low-income, working parents in an inner city. Hunger was such a problem for these families that our school provided infant formula and baby food for our youngest charges, and an enriched meal program for preschoolers. Our goal was to meet 100% of our students’ nutritional needs each weekday–and we often sent home care packages for the weekend if a family was really struggling. How important was that? On a developmental screening, a preschooler was asked, “What do you do when you’re hungry?” Expected answers would be things like, “I tell my mom” or “I get a snack”. However, this child said, “I go to school.” Yep. There are lots of hungry kids in America…

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  10. Wow, Kathryn, what a fantastic thing your agency did! It’s heartbreaking to know that people work and still struggle to feed their families. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  11. Caren, I’m taking this opportunity to let you know I enjoy reading your books. They certainly are special to read. Now this new book will be a real challenge but I will still buy and read it. Knowing some of the proceeds are going to a worthy cause is good enough reason to buy it though its not a genre I prefer to read. I will forego my prejudices only because you write awesome books.

    E

    Liked by 1 person

    1. E, thank you so much. It would be hard to pay me a higher compliment than to read outside your preferred genres because you’ve liked my other books. I hope this book doesn’t disappoint, and thank you for supporting the fundraiser!

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  12. Thanks for your candid blog entry, Caren. It’s not easy sharing these feelings! I’ve read all of your books and watched you mature as a novelist. Your books differ from other genres and you found an important niche (so don’t worry about those other readers). I have a great deal of respect for your ability to metamorphize those ideas inside your head to words outside for the rest of us to enjoy. I’m sure some of us have ideas for stories but lack the courage and talent to get them out there. You have both. Thanks for the gift of your writing. ~GB

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  13. Do you have any advice for someone looking at getting into writing? I wrote a lot of stories as a kid, I just don’t want to do a story that’s been done to death! Please don’t tell me “just write!”
    What made you get into writing?

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    1. Kate, this advice is just my two cents, but… if your stories are best suited to stay short stories, go with that. Read a couple of anthologies of other short stories to see what the form is like – believe me, short stories aren’t easy just because they’re short! Often, it’s just the opposite – you have to carve away all the extraneous things and get to the bones of the story more quickly.

      If your work has the potential to turn into a full novel, you might find it helpful to make an outline. A beginning (which you probably already have), a middle and an end. Having a story idea is way different from fleshing it out and adding the necessary expansion of the storyline to bring readers on the ride with your characters. As for an idea that hasn’t been done to death – there probably aren’t many books out there that are truly unique. What will make your story unique is your voice and your characters.

      As for what got me into writing – I always loved to write, but at some point, the story for what became Looking Through Windows nagged at me strongly enough to actually sit down and start writing.

      A few blogs ago here on W&W, someone (sorry, think it might have been Redhawk) wrote a blog on “Love Your Antagonist”. It had a link to a site that actually provides templates for newbies to start writing a novel. You might want to check it out. Good luck, Kate!

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