Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Hope you are enjoying your summer.
A Groovy Kind of Love received some nice words from Windy City Reviews last week.
"A Groovy Kind of Love is the third and last book of Karen Wojcik Bernerʼs Bibliophiles trilogy. This unlikely love story focuses on two free-spirited book-obsessed Naperville residents and their unconventional-yet-compelling relationship."
"Bernerʼs loving description of the former Marshall Field's and downtown Chicago Public Library branch will bring back wonderful memories to readers who experienced these marvels as children."
"What a pleasure to read such a life-affirming novel. A Groovy Kind of Love is the perfect summer read."
To read the entire review, click here.
Have a great week!
Monday, May 18, 2015
I'm happy to announce that A Groovy Kind of Love officially became an Amazon best-selling novel this weekend. It reached #61 on the Romance Literary Fiction list and #79 on the Literary Women's Fiction List.
So now, all three of the Bibliophiles novels, as well as the holiday short story, have hit the best-seller lists at one time or another.
Thank you so much, everyone!
Monday, May 11, 2015
Spring has definitely sprung in Chicagoland. The crabapple tree outside my kitchen window has begun exchanging its gorgeous magenta flowers for green leafy branches.
I’ve been thinking of Mom a lot lately. Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the states. The weekend prior, my husband and I moved my 75-year-old father from the third floor to the garden apartment of the building in which I basically grew up. We moved there when I was ten. I have snatches of memories from younger days, of course, but most of my cognizant childhood and teen years were spent in that third-floor, walk-up apartment.
While we worked, flashes of my mother bombarded me, things even as seemingly insignificant as having root beer floats came back to me while I washed my father’s glasses and placed them into new cabinets.
I’m glad he moved, so I don’t have to relive the last time I saw Mom in that apartment, now bed-ridden and without use of her legs and arms from the hellish ALS, every time I walked past their bedroom. I don’t know how he lived there for so long after she died, but he and I are very different people.
|Mom and me, circa 1986.|
My mother was warm, kind, and extremely huggable. An only child, she dreamed of having her own brood, but unfortunately, only had me. Instead, she became “Mom” to my schoolmates throughout the years, from grade school through college, making cupcakes for class holidays and hosting Superbowl parties for college buddies in desperate need of home cooking.
I posted about her on my personal Facebook page this weekend and was touched by how many wonderful words my FB friends had for her, all of them mentioning how nice she was, how kind.
I learned a lot about being a mother from Barbara Wojcik.
Never underestimate the value of generosity of spirit. For that, my friends, is what truly counts.
Thanks, Mom. xx
Monday, May 4, 2015
Stopping for a second in between the seemingly unending tasks left to do in time for my 75-year-old father’s move, I plopped onto the love seat, careful not to drop the turkey and provolone sandwich on a pretzel bun I had just thrown together for a quick lunch. I turned on the television. Three familiar words shouted out from the on-screen guide.
Pride and Prejudice.
Yes, the BBC production starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Ovation was running a P&P marathon. This episode? Part Four: Elizabeth, along with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, visits Pemberley.
I couldn’t help myself. It didn’t matter that I had seen it too many times to count, that it is my absolute favorite novel adaptation, and that it was required viewing for my two sons as soon as they were old enough to understand it. “I am severely displeased” has become part of our family jargon.
P&P’s siren call proved too much for me.
I tuned in right as Elizabeth scales the Peaks.
Ahhhh, my happy place.
It’s been my happy place for so long, I forgot what year this version was filmed.
Twenty years ago.
I watched Elizabeth walk the gardens, then leave her aunt and uncle to survey the lake, knowing full well Darcy stood on the other side, warm and dusty from his long ride in from London. I always get so nervous for her, for her embarrassment of being caught on his property. Now, at least, we can creep on Facebook pages or Instagram accounts without fear of being discovered.
He removes his coat and plunges into the water.
You know what I forgot? They never show him emerging from the lake. Firth’s practically air-dried as he struts, white shirt blowing in the wind, when he encounters Elizabeth. His hair is a bit wet, I grant you, but apparently that scene was only imagined and played out in Lost in Austen.
Happily, I was also able to see “the look” before I needed to get back to work. You know, when Darcy gazes adoringly at Elizabeth while she plays and sings after dinner the following evening. It’s a good thing my husband and I were already married when this came out, or I’d still be searching for the gentleman who would lovingly gaze at me across a room to this day. That look is the thing that endeared Colin Firth to me (and millions of other women around the world) for these twenty years. In fact, I actually have seen every one of his movies. Well played, Mr. Firth, well played.
The 1995 BBC P&P began the Jane Austen craze really, something that hasn’t waned, as evidenced by the amount of Austen fan fiction available on Amazon. And although my opinions of the various characters have changed with my…ahem…more mature viewing, nothing feels more like home than a good binge viewing of my favorite classic of all time.
How about you, dear readers? What is something you watch over and over again?
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Today, I'm guest blogging on Indies Unlimited, a fantastic blog that provides a treasure trove of information on the business of publishing.
To read my piece on book tours, click here.
My thanks to Kyle and the staff over at Indies Unlimited for all they do.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Today is William Shakespeare’s birthday. A ripe, old 451 years of age, the Bard still resonates in readers’ souls in a way that few can. What is it about Shakespeare that makes his work still so relevant? For me, it’s how he illustrates the human condition and, of course, his gorgeous language. How about you?
To commemorate his birth, here are 10 facts I love about William Shakespeare and his work.
1. Shakespeare wrote strong female characters at a time when women were second-class citizens in England. Many are not overwhelmed by the men in the plays. In fact, Rosalind from As You Like It fights to overcome the limitations placed upon women of the time. Generally, Shakespeare’s women are better female roles than most parts available in Hollywood now.
Fun fact: Rosalind has the most lines of any woman in his plays.
|Katy Stephens (Rosalind) in As You Like It. Photo by Ellie Kurttz. Photo courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company.|
2. Pianist Andre Tchaikowsky donated his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982 for use on stage. It was used sparingly in rehearsals (creeped people out too much) until 2008, when David Tennant played Hamlet and the skull appeared as Yorick. Too cool! To read the full story, click here.
|David Tennant stars as Hamlet in a 2008 Royal Shakespeare Company production. Photo courtesy of BBC News.com|
3. Did you know the 27 moons of Uranus are named after characters created by Shakespeare and Alexander Pope, including Puck, Cordelia, Desdemona, Juliet, Prospero, and Cressida.
|The moons of Uranus. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.|
4. Shakespeare was not only a playwright, but a good businessman as well. He made shrewd investments, built The Globe theater, and knew how to cater to audiences. He was quite wealthy when he died.
|Shakespeare's grave. Photo by Karen Wojcik Berner.|
5. He wrote 154 sonnets and several narrative poems.
|Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.|
6. Shakespeare’s works are the second most-quoted in the English language behind the Bible.
|Shakespeare statue in Stratford-upon-Avon. Photo by Karen Wojcik Berner.|
7. He added 3,000 words to the language.
8. PBS’s fantastic Shakespeare Uncovered delves into the plays and discusses their relevancy in today’s world through interviews with actors, scholars, and directors. It examines where the stories may have originated, what were the major political, cultural, and religious influences at the time, and how the plays been interpreted throughout the years. Truly magnificent, this is one of my favorite shows on television, and it features such luminaries this season as Hugh Bonneville (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Morgan Freeman (The Taming of the Shrew), Joseph Fiennes (Romeo and Juliet), and Christopher Plummer (King Lear).
9. King Lear, the greatest tragedy of all-time. There’s something about a pompous, arrogant, aging father who descends into madness after casting off his kind daughter that hits home with me.
|Ian McKellen as King Lear. Photo courtesy of The Dobbyn Digest blog.|
10. The Complete Works of Shakespeare, edited by David Bevington is a treasure trove of information. I still have mine from my college Shakespeare class, which was taught by one of the first female graduates from Oxford. Pure magic.
Happy Birthday, sweet Master Shakespeare. May your work and legacy live on to further delights audiences of all ages.
What is your favorite thing about Shakespeare? Do you prefer the plays or the poems? How many of the plays have you seen?
“Bequeathed skull stars in Hamlet,” BBC News.com
“William Shakespeare,” Biography.com
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
This year has been flying by.
It seems we say that every year. If last year were a person, she’d be one crazy bitch. And the insanity extended well into 2015 with the release of A Groovy Kind of Love.
I burned myself out, both professionally and personally. You know how it is. There’s always more that can be done. One more marketing venue to explore. One more book review blog to seek out. One more place to pitch your writing.
More. More. More.
My kids’ schedules provided the perfect pause with two different Spring Break weeks. At first, I was stressed out. How could I possibly work with everyone around? I gradually let it go like the Frozen song and enjoyed my time first with my eldest and his girlfriend, then with my younger son.
My husband took a few days off too while the collegiate crew was here, and we all played tourist in our own city, showing my son’s girlfriend Chicago (she’s from California). We took a trip to the Sears Tower (real Chicagoans will never call it the Willis Tower) some 1,353 feet in the air, 103 floors up, out on the Ledge, a glass box that extends about four feet outside the building.
After a bout of vertigo several years ago, I haven’t been very good with heights. Even my beloved roller coasters have been tabled. But somehow, I thought it would be cool to get a picture of all of us out on the Ledge. Again, the Frozen song echoed in my head, so I steeled myself and climbed on.
Looking down, I marveled at the feeling of being outside of the building, literally outside of conventional structure.
I felt free.
My father is downsizing and moving to a garden apartment in the same building where I spent a good chunk of my youth. Not good with change, this move is an enormous stressor on him, and consequently on me as well, even if it is only two floors down. A couple more weeks, and he will be in his new place.
The kids are back at their respective schools, and we are in the throes of our first high school lacrosse season (he’s starting attackman on the JV team —hooray for him!), which will be followed by club lacrosse summer travel tournaments. My eldest is finalizing plans for his senior year at Knox College (crazy, right?). I’ve been doing various projects that really needed my attention, including the aforementioned stuff plus various spring cleanings and my youngest’s scrapbook that I have six years of memories to chronicle before I forget everything.
I hadn’t felt the urge to write.
A tiny fluttering flew into my stomach this morning, the spark of an idea or two rumbling through my brain. An essay, perhaps. Some snippets of a short story are beginning to make themselves known. Edwina Hipplewhite, actually. We shall see where they go from here.
Taking time off is essential for all of us, and writing is no different. Though it is a passion, it’s still a job.
And we all need a break.