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Showing posts from November, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: Prepare for Battle

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Today, we wrap up November with a fantasy piece by M.R. Mathias. Enjoy.


The Blood of Coldfrost
By M.R. Mathias

The concussive "whoomp" of an exploding oil keg brought the encampment awake. A ball of flame roiled skyward bathing the sparkling tundra of Coldfrost in an orange-yellow glow. Men were scrambling. Large mannish forms, more feral than not, darted about the shadows unchecked. The battle roar of a Breed beast cut through the frigid night as it brought an ax down into the head of a Westland Captain who was emerging from his tent. Flames danced crazily, throwing wild shadows about the chaos. The shouts of a fervent sergeant, trying to generate some sort of order among the terrified men, rang out from somewhere across the crunchy, snow covered terrain.

In the Royal Pavilion, Mikahl was trying desperately to get his king's armor fastened. They had been in Coldfrost for days, hunting and corralling the wild breed beasts that came out of the …

Editing for Grammarphobes: Verbing

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Sometimes I think advertising is the bane of the English language. You might recall my rant awhile back about Chuck E. Cheese’s “Everybody say cheese is funner” lyric in its jingle. Well, here’s another linguistic abomination.

A local carpet company is now urging potential customers to “floor the house.”

Floor the house? What is that supposed to mean? One cannot wow an inanimate object. But that isn’t even what the spokesperson is talking about. The company is using it to describe the act of installing wood flooring.

What about “Beer me?”

Or “texting?” I must confess to being guilty of saying I “texted” someone when the phrase really should be “sent a text” or “received a text message.”

There have always been nouns that also can be used as verbs. Scribd.com has a great list of them here, which includes face, balance, plane, stop, transport, laugh, name, and cycle.

However, these latest examples, especially “floor the house” and “beer me,” just feel lazy,…

Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER




Are you a little slow on the uptake this morning after the long holiday weekend or have you plopped onto your desk chair with glee filled with the promise of Cyber Monday?

I have to say, I prefer Cyber Monday to Black Friday.

Even back in the stone age when I was a kid before the moniker of “Black Friday” existed, the day after Thanksgiving was the busiest shopping day of the year and was to be avoided by those who hated crowded malls and waking up early (me).

Huge brawls seem to break out every year on Black Friday. Nothing evokes the holiday spirit more than people coming to blows over some heavily discounted item.

I do understand the thrill of the hunt and can appreciate it. I, too, get a little giddy when I find something I really like at a great price, so kudos to those who are brave enough to venture out into the shopping wild.

That kind of pressure doesn’t exist on Cyber Monday. Heck, you don’t even have to take a shower or put on makeup to shop, a…

Giving Thanks

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER

Thanksgiving is a fantastic holiday, isn’t it? Not only does it revolve around the best meal of the year (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes —yum!), but it gives us a chance to put into perspective the things that matter most.

I’ve been so preoccupied promoting “A Bibliophile Christmas, “ I feel like I have shot right over this important day and headed straight into December.

So, without further ado, here is a list of things I am grateful for in random order, except for the first two.

My son coming home from college this week.
The men in my life: my wonderful husband and sons, and, yes, even my father.
Books.
Indoor plumbing.
Starbucks.
England, actually Scotland as well. Sorry, Wales and Ireland. Haven’t been there yet.
Downton Abbey and Masterpiece Classic.
Music.
Peter Gabriel.
Computers.
Florence + the Machine.
Wine.
Green Day.
Freedom of Speech.
Autumn.
Hot beverages.
Theater.
Electricity.
Prosciutto, Asiago cheese with rosemary, crusty Italian bread,…

Introducing Books and Baubles: Holiday Tales for Your E-Reader

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


I love Christmas. You can ask anyone who knows me, and he or she will attest to this. My husband and sons even call me “The Christmas Queen,” after Lucy’s role in Charlie Brown’s Christmas pageant, which I have quoted on numerous occasions throughout my life. Some may say a little too often, and my boys have remarked upon some similarities between dear Lucy and myself, but we don’t need to delve into all of that right now. That’s between me and my therapist.

Anyhow…

It is no big surprise that I would eventually pen a Christmas story, “A Bibliophile Christmas.” To celebrate this release, I have a special treat for you, dear readers.

The immensely talented, insanely funny, friend of the blog Karen Cantwell, author of the madcap Barbara Marr mysteries, and I are teaming up for a fabulous seasonal promotion on our new blog page, Books and Baubles: Holiday Tales for Your E-Reader, which features a showcase of festive stories by a variety of authors to help ge…

Flash Fiction Fridays: A Spirited Discussion

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



Cossack
By Cleveland W. Gibson


The meanest, most arrogant, stubborn person: I meant Kazanski, him with the twisted lip, the mad grin inherited in a knife fight.

I always knew better than to believe in him as a leader, especially the time when we nearly died in the snow. As young Russian soldiers we'd lost our horses, got cut off from the rest of the Red Army. Now we heard he wolves howling close by.

Luckily we stumbled on a deserted cottage and sheltered from the worst of the Siberian blizzard. Upstairs we found a room and tried to keep warm. We lit a fire in a bucket, shared our food and vodka too. But NEVER our women.

Kazanski said, “Keep the door shut. Keep the ghost out.”

I lost my temper on the ghost issue but he insisted an old man visited him in the night when we shared the bed to stay warm. Ghost? Old man? Wrong Kazanski! I knew the ways of the world. The ghost who visited me, on my side, drove me mad with her warm body, not an old man, like Ka…

Great News

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Remember yesterday when I wrote about all that wonderful exposure "A Bibliophile Christmas" has been getting? Well, this morning, I awoke to the happy consequence of it all.

Are you ready for this?

As I write this post, "A Bibliophile Christmas" is #2 on Amazon's Hot New Releases in Short Stories List! It's also #6 on the Kindle Short Stories Best Seller List and #10 in Books, Short Stories, Single Author.


At one time last night when it started creeping up the charts, "A Bibliophile Christmas" was right above    a compilation of Ernest Hemingway's work and a few spots underneath the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe. The bibliophile in me wanted to burst! 
A big thank you to my team — cover designer Amanda Kelsey, ebook interior designer Ted Risk, and editor Lynn McNamee and her proofreaders — you all are the best!

Being a writer is such a manic-depressive existence, with the depressive moments far outweighing an…

Exposure

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



No, I have not begun writing erotica, although both Whisper and Until were listed under that category on Kobo for a few weeks for reasons unknown. At first I was a little miffed, but then I thought maybe it would boost sales with that Fifty Shades series doing so well. No such luck.

Anyhow. My work has been getting some decent (not indecent) exposure lately.

I am happy to be featured on the Kindle Fire Department blog today, where "A Bibliophile Christmas" is the Book of the Day. If you would like to see the post, click here.

They called it "A heartwarming tale from one of our favorite authors, Karen Wojcik Berner's 'A Bibliophile Christmas' is a story of love, family, and friendship that can make a chilly day much more pleasant."

Also, BigAl's Books and Pals recently reviewed "A Bibliophile Christmas" and gave it four stars. BigAl said, "At turns funny, frustrating (at least for the characters), and touc…

Editing for Grammarphobes: Cutting the Fat

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER





Good Monday, everyone. In a little more than a week, the holiday season will be upon us, a time for merriment and feasting. So before we enter the season of excess, let's take a look at ways to tighten up our writing, to trim the fat, if you will.

Here are a few phrases that add unnecessary poundage to our prose.

Advanced planning: Planning by its very nature occurs in advance.

Bald-headed: Bald means to have little or no hair on the scalp, so no need to add the extra word.

Commute back and forth: If you are not going to and from something, I don’t think you are commuting.

Descend down: Since “descend” means to move down from a higher level, just use the verb.

Entirely eliminate: Eliminate means to eradicate something. The adverb is unnecessary.


Source: "200 Common Redundancies" by Richard Nordquist, http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/redundancies.htm.


Bio


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied …

Flash Fiction Fridays: The Cure?

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



The Butterfly Effect
By Karina Kantas


Who would volunteer their face for a scientific experiment? Well I wouldn’t. Neither would any sane member of the public, which is why inmates serving life sentences were handed over for this government project. By the time the bill passed, freedom of speech had been demolished, so there were very few demonstrations. Now famous chemist, biologists and DNA experts had one year to perfect an antidote for ugliness.

Being branded ugly put you in a new class, the lowest in society. Ugly people were shunned and segregated by the butterflies of the modem regime. Forced to live and work in the poorest parts of the country. However, even that wasn’t enough to satisfy the beautiful people. It was announced that if the wondrous treatment did not work, then drastic measures would be taken.

I swallowed the bile that rose in my throat as I barely glanced at the deformed face of what used to be Prisoner X. Taking a deep breath, I for…

'A Bibliophile Christmas' Released

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



I am very excited to announce the release of my holiday digital short story, "A Bibliophile Christmas," which features Sarah and Annie from A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles: Book One).

Here's the blurb.

From the author of A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles: Book One) and Until My Soul Gets It Right (The Bibliophiles: Book Two) comes a heartwarming holiday tale of friendship and family.

Sarah Anderson and Annie Jacobs have not had the best of years. And now, here come the holidays.

Great.

Sarah's husband Tom is stuck in Boston after a nor'easter dumps a foot of snow on the day he is scheduled to leave for home. 

And Annie is working hard at picking up the pieces of her life after a painful divorce. 

But, maybe with a little help from their friends, Christmas won't be a total wash after all.

This holiday season, take a break from all the hustle and bustle, pour yourself a beverage, and have “A Bibliophile Christmas.”

It is ava…

Flash Fiction Fridays: A Puzzlement

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


The ghosts and monsters are gone as we settle into November. I am very happy to welcome back California's new Senior Poet Laureate, Mary Langer Thompson, to Flash Fiction Fridays. 



Voices in the Corn Maze
By Mary Langer Thompson

Sometimes, as you grow older, you need to finish your bucket list alone. I live by myself in the over-fifty community of Sunset City. My daughter would like me to come live with them. But I’m not ready. Not yet. In fact, I’m not even going to tell her and my son-in-law what’s on my what-to-do-before-I-die list. They’d just laugh.

Today I’ll check off one more event. I’m going to walk through the corn maze on the farm near me.

I approach the natural puzzle, walk past the pumpkins, the gourds, and the arts and crafts, with scarecrows on sticks. There’s the bright yellow button mums. Maybe I’ll buy some on the way out.

A young man with red hair sits on a stool outside the entrance. The corn is a lot higher than I am, but then I’v…