Monday, March 25, 2013

Big News

Last Wednesday, Spring arrived via the vernal equinox, a time when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night are exactly the same. Traditionally, it is a season of fertility and new growth, as well as a chance to clean out the old mental cobwebs and try something new.

This is the perfect time to tell you about something I have been working on lately. I've decided to release second editions of A Whisper to a Scream and Until My Soul Gets It Right, both of which will have bonus material to enhance your reading experience.

The new Reader's Guide will feature Questions and Discussion Topics for Book Clubs, as well as a section on how to Read Along with the Bibliophiles, including party and menu ideas for book club meetings.

The fantastically talented artists at Streetlight Graphics are busy creating new covers for all of my work. They also are designing new custom interiors for the paperback editions.

This is all very exciting. I will keep you posted on our progress and most definitely will have a new cover reveal in the near future.

Here's to new beginnings!

P.S. You can still vote in the BigAl'sBooks and Pals Readers' Choice Awards until midnight on April 1. Until My Soul Gets It Right is nominated in the contemporary fiction category. Click here to vote.  No matter who you vote for, you can enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Thanks much!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Until Nominated for a Readers' Choice Award

I'm excited to announce that Until My Soul Gets It Right has been nominated for a Reader's Choice Award at BigAl's Books and Pals, the permier indie review site, in the contemporary fiction category.

Here's a little bit from the email I received.

In the twelve months ending February 28th, 2013, BigAl and the Pals received over 1,400 books to consider for review. Almost 300 of them were selected, read, and reviewed. From those we chose the books we felt stood out from the pack as exceptional examples of Indie (self-published and small press) writing and divided them into eleven categories.

Your book, Until My Soul Gets it Right, is nominated in the Contemporary Fiction category. Congratulations.

For two weeks, starting March 18th at 10:00 Eastern Time and ending at Midnight Eastern Time on April 1st, we'll be asking readers to vote for the winner in each category. Winners will be announced the morning of Wednesday, April 3rd. We'll also have a giveaway with various prizes for those who vote.

If you would like to vote for Until My Soul Gets It Right in the contemporary fiction category or for any other of the nominees, please click here. Voting begins today and continues until April 1.

Here's what BigAl had to say about Until when it came out last year.


I loved the first book of The Bibliophiles series, A Whisper to a Scream. I knew the remaining books in the series would each focus on specific members of the book club introduced in the first book, and wondered how that would work. Would the stories be chronological, happening at the same time (which seemed like it would present problems), or something else? It turned out to be something else, at least in the case of Until My Soul Gets It Right.

If you’ve read the first book, you’ll remember Catherine as the “actress” who, if you reacted to her the same as I did, might have been a bit of an enigma, and who possibly rubbed you the wrong way at times. This book goes back to Catherine’s childhood, and brings her story forward to the present. It changed my opinion of Catherine for the better.

It’s a story that anyone should be able to relate who has wanted to escape where they grew up, for whatever reason. Berner has a talent with prose that flows smoothly and puts the reader right where they belong, inside the character’s head. Until My Soul Gets It Right is another winner.


A small amount of adult language and adult situations.

Although the second book in the series, reading the first book is not a prerequisite for full enjoyment of this book

Rating: ***** Five stars

Until My Soul Gets It Right is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

Monday, March 11, 2013

If Music Be the Food of Literature, Play On

Music has always played a huge role in my life, first as a vocalist performing in school talent shows, local entertainment revues, musicals, and two choirs. I was certain this was my calling at the age of seven, when I practiced singing Partridge Family songs into my hairbrush (karaoke wasn’t invented way back then). It continued up until junior year in high school when I discovered both journalism and the multiple layers of symbolism and genius in Moby Dick. A light bulb flashed above my head, and I knew writing was my true path.

Although it has been many years since I have performed, most mornings before I sit down at the computer, I sing something to get focused. When I was writing Until My Soul Gets It Right, it was Florence + the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over.” Now, it’s another Florence song, “Shake It Out,” that helps me exorcize the demons of self-doubt.

I have specific music for writing copy for my freelance account and for writing fiction, classical, mostly. It’s too difficult to focus on the words I need to put down with song lyrics floating through my brain.

Some of my characters have their own soundtracks as well, melodies I have used to get into their heads. Listening to Peter Gabriel’s “Blood of Eden” helped me see John Jacobs’ point of view, which most of the time is very different from that of his wife Annie in A Whisper to a Scream. The entire “American Idiot” CD by Green Day, but particularly “Jesus of Suburbia,” aided in communicating Catherine Elbert’s attitude while she was stuck on her family’s farm in Until My Soul Gets It Right. Holiday tunes set the mood while I was writing my short story, “A Bibliophile Christmas,” even though it was the middle of summer and more than ninety degrees outside at the time.

So far, the Bibliophiles series titles are even inspired by songs. A Whisper to a Scream is an old Icicle Works piece, while Until My Soul Gets It Right comes from the Indigo Girls’ brilliant “Galileo.” The concept of reincarnation fascinated me, but instead of multiple lifetimes, I decided to play with a character that reinvented herself each time she moved, refashioning in accordance to her surroundings until she found the true person within. Catherine Elbert was born.

I think all of us have a little piece of Catherine tucked inside. When I was young, I knew exactly what path to follow. So certain of my talents was I that I stayed focused on my destiny through freelancing for a mere $25 per article and long stretches of unemployment. Now, in my late forties, that self-assuredness has melted to reveal a woman who feels like she flies by the seat of her pants at least half of the time. Yes, with age has come some rudimentary knowledge, but certainly not in large enough quantities to restore my former bravado.

Some days, I still question my choice to give up music. It's a tie which one gives me more pleasure—a good book or a great song—but maybe that's okay.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Grammar Geeks Unite

Today is National Grammar Day. Hooray!

Christina Milanowski wrote a great article on the social media and tech terms we all use and their proper spellings and citations last Thursday. Check out "A Social Media Grammar Lesson: 24 Tech Terms You Can't Live Without."

To celebrate, here are some of my favorite grammar tips from Bibliophilic Blather's Editing for Grammarphobes days.

Affect, Effect

When used as a verb, “affect” means to influence, according to The Associate Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. "Effect"means to cause. Used as a noun, “effect” means result.


The weather affects traffic patterns.

The new mayor will effect many changes in the city.

He did not realize the effect his actions would have upon others.


This word does not exist. Period. Always use regardless.

Where Does the Apostrophe Go?

I apologize for sounding harsh, but there have been way too many misplaced apostrophes when writing about decades. From television to billboards to even print journalism, people all around the country have been exposed to it for so long, the wrong way has become commonplace.

Why are these incorrect?

A. 1980’s

B. 90’s

The rule is to use an apostrophe to indicate numerals that are left out and add an “s”  to show the plural, according to The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Stylebook.

I do not know where the “apostrophe s” came from. Traditionally, it is used to indicate possession and makes no sense here. A decade cannot have anything.

The correct way would be the following.


‘90s (with the apostrophe inserted to replace of the missing “19” of 1990)

the mid-1930s

A list of 25 Most Commonly Misspelled Words


Weird Words

canceled  (Makes sense.)
canceling  (I can see that.)
cancellation (WHAT? Why the double “L” all of a sudden?)

bologna (Why is this the proper spelling for the lunch meat and why is it pronounced bah-loan-ee?)

Phoebe (How can this word possibly be pronounced fee-bee?)

Cutting the Fat

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,

What is your favorite grammar tip or pet peeve?