Monday, February 24, 2014

Focus

I set up a pretty ambitious 2014 writing and production schedule earlier this year. It's crunch time for my work-in-progress, which is not a Bibliophiles book, but rather a romance that I have been working on since the summer. I'm very excited about this new story. It's filled with wonderful characters in an entirely different genre for me. It's almost done. I just need to tweak a couple of things and wrap up the plot in a spectacular fashion. 

Last week, I also revisited the third book in the Bibliophiles series after shelving it for awhile to work on the romance novel. I'm delighted to report that it is moving along really well and that our dear Thaddeus and Spring will have some wonderful stories to tell you when it's finished. I'm shooting for a Fall 2014 release.

I'm working on these two in tandem, as well as planning a Bibliophile short story with a vacation theme for Catherine and Will from Until My Soul Gets It Right and penning a few magazine articles and essays.

My desk. Massive quantities of caffeine not pictured. 
With all of this writing, something has to take a backseat, and since it can't be my family since they do have to eat, the house still has to be managed, my youngest must be carted around to various sports and practices, and my oldest perpetually needs money in college, it will have to be this blog. 

I'm going to check in periodically, but not weekly for awhile, until my word counts are sufficient and my plot lines are resolved. Know that I will be thinking of all of you as I sit under Virginia Woolf's constant gaze and near Jane Austen's silhouette, typing away. 

Please sign up for my newsletter (in the right column of this page) for all of the latest news and release dates and join me over on Facebook, where I usually take a few breaks throughout the day to see what's going on. 

All the Best,
Karen


Monday, February 17, 2014

Grammar Fun


It's Monday. The kids are home from school. It's snowing again in Chicagoland, and I know the east coast is digging out yet again from another storm. The northwest United States, along with all of Great Britain and Wales, have received, what, 56,000 inches of rain over the past month?

Everyone could use a little chuckle.

I've been in editing mode, so here are some of my favorite grammar jokes.





Have a good week, Bibliophiles.




Monday, February 10, 2014

I Don't (HEART) Valentine's Day




My youngest son called me “The Killer of Love” the other day.

I was shocked. All I had said was that I hate Valentine’s Day decorations and that when I see a house with a frilly heart-shaped wreath on its door, my first instinct is to want to blow it up with a bazooka.

Is that so wrong?

Boom.
It’s true. I do have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. Some years have been great with flowers and fancy dinners, while others, no so much.

It’s not that I hate the concept of Valentine’s Day. We all could use a little more love in our lives and a special time to celebrate it is a nice thought. I think what I really dislike are the trappings.

First off, why so much pink? Used to be, Valentine’s Day was red and white. Good, solid colors. With the age of everything for females having to be pink, the infernal color commandeered the holiday and drove it off a cliff.

Yuck.
Second, although I am female, I feel sorry for men at this time of year. There’s so much pressure, especially with the constant barrage of jewelry commercials guilting them into spending more money than they can afford. It’s not right.

Third, I am not a populist. It’s etched into my DNA that if everyone is celebrating lovey dovey stuff, my first impulse is to ridicule. It comes from my father’s side of the family. We Wojciks are a sarcastic bunch.

But, “Killer of Love?”

No, I think not.

When I’m so sick all I can do is stare at the television, my go-to movies are Something Borrowed, Pride and Prejudice, and Bridget Jones’ Diary. I have read many quality, well-written romances and chick lit novels. I just don’t like the old bodice rippers and the predictable, tired cliches. (I’m talking to you, Nicholas Sparks.) As a matter of fact, my work-in-progress is a romance, and there was plenty of love for Catherine in Until My Soul Gets It Right. Will is a great guy, no?

I enjoy sending Valentines. Even as a little girl, I looked forward to making out my cards for the class and coloring my makeshift mail box paper lunch bag with RED hearts. Except for that one year when I pretty much detested everyone in my class, including the teacher. But, once out of the entirety of grammar school’s not bad.


During the dating years, V-Day was a mixed bag. My first boyfriend put an ad in the local newspaper saying how much he cared about me, which was pretty great for my fifteen-year-old ego. He set the bar extremely high. Year upon year, my expectations eroded to the point where it was a good Valentine’s Day if I got a flower, one flower, of any sort, whether it was from the student council flower sale or the restaurant where I had lunch.

When I got married, I remember actually thinking how great it was because now I had a permanent Valentine. Until, of course, you’ve been together so long you’re tired of the same thing year after year and both end up just getting cards.


Being a mother rekindled my enjoyment of Valentine’s Day. I was a room parent when both of my boys were young, and the little kid V-Day parties are the best, watching them deliver their cards, playing games, and having fun. One year, I even managed to sneak in a party with the “We Love Reading” theme. T’was a bibliophilic Valentine’s Day to be sure.

That's more like it.
As I get older, I think I like Valentine’s Day as much as the next person, although if you’ve been a long-time reader of this blog, you know my heart belongs to Halloween.

I take pleasure in the everyday illustrations of love in my life and am truly grateful for my husband, family, friends, and all of you.

May you all carry around a little extra love in your hearts this week, dear Bibliophiles.

I know I will.






Monday, February 3, 2014

Seahawks Fan? Count Me In



Did you watch the Super Bowl last night? Wow. The Seattle Seahawks demolished the Denver Broncos 43-8 in a defensive tour de force that looked like a clinic in how to play effective D.

As the mother of a linebacker, I cannot be more happy for MVP Malcolm Smith, whose interception and pick six gave Seattle a 22-0 lead early in the game and definitely set the tone for what was to come. Smith also had an impressive nine tackles.

Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. (Photo courtesy of The New York Daily News)

I love the narrative of this team, from the quarterback that was constantly told he was too short to play in the NFL, to the spirit of this, one of the younger teams (both in age and in total years in the league), and, of course, their winning their first championship in the franchise's history.


I really love the Seahawks' relationship with their fans. There's an old adage in football about the fans in the stadium being the 12th man on the field, right alongside the players, and the sound level in Seattle this year definitely proved that. The best part is that the team's management and players acknowledge and appreciate that.


It's a rare moment when a team completely dominates in a Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks showed all of us just who they are yesterday, and I, for one, was really glad see it. Congratulations!




Monday, January 27, 2014

Binchy’s Last Novel Does Not Disappoint






Title: A Week in Winter
Author: Maeve Binchy
Pages: 336

Rating: Four stars










To me, Maeve Binchy novels are the literary equivalent of warm hugs, much needed comfort on the days when I yearn to escape to her Ireland, full of neighborhoods and towns in which people band together to overcome obstacles, venture off to college, swap houses, or start businesses. Binchy wrote about loss, love, infidelity, relationships, occupations, and expectations. She wrote what she knew, and it was wonderful.


When she died, I felt like I had lost a friend. So it was with trepidation that I approached her novel, A Week in Winter, which was published posthumously last February. After all, this would be the last time I would ever read a new Maeve Binchy novel.

Binchy is at her best when she introduces her audience to a large cast of characters and weaves their personal tales into one grand tapestry. This time, all roads lead to Stoneybridge, a small Atlantic seaside village in Ireland, and Chicky Starr’s hometown. The book begins with Chicky’s story, her return from years in America and her seemingly ridiculous dream of turning an old run-down mansion set high on a bluff overlooking the ocean into a hotel. What Chicky envisions is a wonderful place where guests can spend a quiet, restorative week along the shore. Stoneybridge had that affect on her, and Chicky hopes it will work its magic on others as well. Aided by Rigger (a former bad boy trying to put his life on track) and her niece, Orla (a natural at business), the three create a welcoming environment for their potential guests.

When the first visitors to Stone House arrive, Binchy breaks off into their stories. There’s unlikely travel companions Lillian and Winnie; the prim, humorless, retired schoolteacher Miss Howe; John, who looks suspiciously like a movie star; jaded doctors Henry and Nicola; Anders, a businessman who really longs to be a musician; Freda, the librarian trying to deny her psychic gifts; and the Walls, a couple obsessed with entering contests of all sorts, who have won this trip as second prize and feel cheated because the first prize was a week in Paris.

Great vacations can be transformative. For each guest of Stone House, this is most definitely the case. Like her protagonist, Binchy creates the perfect trip for her readers. We come to know and care for all of the characters and root for what they need to make their situations better. I don’t want to spoil the story, but suffice to say, A Week in Winter wraps up each plot in a most satisfactory way. It is a marvelous book, filled with great characters, interesting predicaments, and fantastic storytelling.

Like Chicky Starr, Maeve Binchy sends all of us on our way with a warm embrace and the knowledge that everything will be all right. It is a fitting ending to a most illustrious career.





Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's All About Communication




Please excuse this brief commercial interruption.

For all the latest Bibliophile news, plus information on upcoming projects, new releases, and special deals on my novels, please sign up for my newsletter on the right side of this page. No spam, I promise! It's right over there.



Also, did you know that you can sign up to be notified through Amazon when any of my new books come out? It's on my Author Central page. Just click on the "E-mail me when there are new releases by Karen Wojcik Berner" and you're done. Amazon will let you know when the third Bibliophiles book is coming out.

Hint: It's going to be later on this year!

As always, you can follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Now back to regular Bibliophilic Blather blogging. 

Thanks much,
Karen




Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Day, 2014





As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today in the U.S., I thought I would share with you some of his great words of wisdom that I found at a fantastic site called Brainy Quote.


"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."