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Showing posts from September, 2013

September Ends

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


The first time I connected with the rock band Green Day was way back in 2004. Sure, I had heard a few of their songs before that, but I had been too busy raising young children, playing pirates, and reading William Joyce picture books to listen to much new besides kid tunes.

But that day was different.

Earlier, my oldest had left to start junior high, and I had just dropped my youngest off for his first day of Kindergarden. It was one of those times when you realize everything changes after that day. I was happy for them, of course, and their new adventures, but for me? Well, I really didn’t know how I felt.

Then it happened.

“Wake Me Up When September Ends” came on the radio. Billie Joe Armstrong sang of pain, sadness of time passing, dread, loss of innocence, and wanting to go back to bed and hide beneath the covers. The tears came stronger than I ever imagined.

Oh, September, how you vex me so!

This year, four weeks of such promise withered a little ea…

Who's Ready for a Little Lit Fun?

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


This Saturday, September 28, I will be participating in the Glen Ellyn Bookfest, a day-long literary festival filled with author events, book signings, and panel discussions.

The event begins at 9:30 a.m. with PitchFest in the Glen Ellyn Public Library, 400 Duane Street. Participants (including myself) will have only sixty seconds to get the audience interested in our novels. I'll be practicing my best "elevator speech" for Until My Soul Gets It Right all week.

Afterward, attendees will be able to meet their favorite authors at the Trade Show from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the library meeting room.

Other activities for the day include a keynote address by Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, a panel discussion with Mathis, Bret Nicholas, literary agent Joe Durepos, and author Amy Sue Nathan, and appearances by children's book authors Matthew Cordell and Judith Fradin.

It sounds like a lot of fun. Besides, who doesn't love…

Thoreau, Walden, and Concord

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



Henry David Thoreau, most famous as the author of Walden and Civil Disobedience, was a naturalist who believed one could achieve a better understanding of life by a greater understanding of nature. Unlike the common caricature of the hermit-like man, shunning society for his tiny cabin in the woods, Thoreau was actually quite social and very much a part of Transcendentalist society in Concord. He escaped to the woods to write his first book, which is something I can very much relate to, although I would need indoor plumbing and Internet connection in my small shelter.

How important is a constant intercourse with nature and the contemplation of natural  phenomena to the preservation of moral and intellectual health!  — Henry David Thoreau, [Journal, 6 May 1851]

He once spent a night in jail for not paying his poll tax. Fellow Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson bailed him out. According to Poets.org, he was “a tireless champion of the human spirit against t…

Salem's Favorite Son, Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


My family’s trip to the Boston area enchanted me in many ways. The rocky Atlantic shore, so different and preferable to the seas of corn we have in the Midwest. The history around every corner. The beautiful colonial and federalist architecture. But the one place that truly touched my core was Salem.

Salem, Massachusetts, has an interesting feel to it. Part maritime port, part modern-day Wiccan mecca, it operates over an undercurrent of uneasiness. You can feel something terrible happened here. Not everywhere, of course. Larger than I had remembered, the town bustles with every-day activity. Witches dressed in long skirts and pentacles walk the streets alongside tourists, businesspeople, punks, goths, and an occasional local garbed in Puritan attire to add ambiance to The Witch House, the only structure remaining from the times of the Witch Trials.

The Salem Witch Museum reminds visitors of the twenty people that lost their lives in 1692 after being falsely…

Five Fun Facts About Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Continuing our celebration of American Literature, here are some interesting tidbits about Ralph Waldo Emerson.


1. Poet, philosopher, and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1803 in Boston. He led the Transcendentalist movement and wrote dozens of published essays, including "Nature" and "Self-Reliance," and delivered more than 1,500 lectures across the U.S.


2. After studying at Harvard, Ralph Waldo Emerson entered the ministry, but found himself unable to administer the sacraments in good conciousness after the death of his nineteen-year-old wife, Ellen. He left the church.


3. Nicknamed "The Sage of Concord," Ralph Waldo Emerson surmised that intuition was the only way to comprehend reality.


4. Ralph Waldo Emerson owned the Walden property upon which Henry David Thoreau built his cabin.


5. “My life is not an apology, but a life. It is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, …