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Thursday, August 20, 2009

In the Moonlight: Karen Harrington, author of Janeology

Today's featured author is Karen Harrington, whose debut book is entitled Janeology. Karen also maintains a wonderful blog that, especially if you're a writer, you will find brimming over with interesting tidbits, including insights into her writing process and why she wrote Janeology, and family photos that inspired her.

Writers Take Heart. You Have Your Own Saint


Karen Harrington

Like most writers, I’ve collected my share of rejection notices over the years. And now that I’m on looking for an agent, I expect I’ll collect a few more. But I don’t let this get me down. I try to remember the scores of writers who’ve gone down this path in their quest just to be read.

In fact, what if I told you there was a writer so determined to draw attention to his writing he posted it on walls, slipped it under doors and handed pages to anyone he could? Crazy? Some might say so. But it’s also a model of persistence, courage and faith. And as it happens, the man nailing those pages onto walls was writing, in fact, about faith. He was Francis De
Sales, a writer so prolific and powerful he was proclaimed the Patron Saint of Writers and Journalists in 1665 by Pope Alexander VII.

Writers at all stages can take heart! You have your own saint.

De Sales wrote his whole life without ever being formally published. But his books, as we know them today, have not gone out of print in almost four centuries. (And they all enjoy an Amazon sales rank any writer would envy.)

De Sales was born in 1567, the eldest child in an aristocratic French family. His father had ambitions that his son should study law and theology, for which he eventually received doctorate degrees. After his studies were complete, he was expected to marry and take a position in the Senate. But De Sales refused and turned his attentions to his truest passion – a ministerial life.

He became a bishop of the Catholic Diocese in Geneva at a time when Calvinism was spreading. De Sales determined to lead an expedition to convert the 60,000 Calvinists back to the Catholic Church. In this regard, he developed a reputation as an exceptionally patient man. For years, no one would listen to him. No one would open the door when he knocked. So he found a way to get under the door. He wrote out his sermons and slipped them under the door.

His most famous book, Introduction to the Devout Life, is a collection of many of those letters and passages.

Today, the weary or discouraged writer, or anyone in need of encouragement, can look to St. Francis’ example of persistence in the face of rejection. So if you are waiting for that agent or publisher to call, perhaps a nod heavenward to St. Francis wouldn’t hurt. His official saints day is January 24.

Following are some wonderful passages I discovered within his writings.

“True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.”

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew.”

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”

Karen Harrington is the author of JANEOLOGY: the story of one man's attempt to understand his wife and her sudden descent into madness. Read an excerpt at

(Author photo credit: Photo by Gail Nogle)

Buy the book

On a personal note, I have had the pleasure of reading Janeology and I can honestly tell you that it is like nothing else that you will ever read. What starts out as a simple case of an overwhelmed mother taking the life of one of her children (the other survives the attempt) soon evolves into a complex tale that tackles the question of whether or not a person is genetically predisposed to commit murder. Using a combination of detective work and genealogy, the protagonist searches for those answers more for his own peace of mind rather than to save himself from going to jail, too. It is a fascinating read. ~ Margay

4 Moonbeams (comments):

Sheila Deeth said...

Wow! Sounds an amazing book - very tough topics... fascinating.

I love the saint and the quotes. Perfect!

Judy said...

Goodness!! This sounds very intense. I would not be able to put this down until the end!!

Karen Harrington said...

Thanks to Margay for hosting me here on her wonderful blog!

Happy Writing,

Karen Harrington
author, Janeology

Margay Leah Justice said...

As I said in my post, it is a fascinating read. I was a little bit leery at first because of the theme, being a mother myself, but that also made me want to read this book, in a weird way. I always wonder how a mother could hurt her own child like that. But I am very interested in genealogy, so that was a contributing factor to me wanting to read this book. I'm glad I did because it was handled in a wonderful way and I flew through the pages once the search began. I really enjoyed this book and will probably revisit it one day.