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Showing posts from 2015

All Hallow's Eve with the Bibliophiles

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In my second book, Until My Soul Gets It Right, members of the bibliophiles book club take a field trip to All Hallow's Eve at Naper Settlement, an outdoor living history museum. I thought it might be fun to share their experience here. Happy Halloween!



Excerpt from Until My Soul Gets It Right

Copyright © 2012 by Karen Wojcik Berner
Maple trees blazed brilliant reds and oranges, while elms burst golden yellows. Leaves of all sizes rode through the sky on gentle breezes, while the sun presided over this glorious sixty-three-degree day. Pumpkins rested on doorsteps and house stairs, waiting to be carved. Ghouls hung from trees. Graveyards sprouted up on front lawns. Catherine had forgotten how much she enjoyed Halloween in the Midwest. The purples, rusts, and golds of the mums. The front bushes covered in fake spider webs. There was mischief in the air. “Sure you don’t want to come?” she asked Will while fluffing her hair.
“No, you go ahead. I’m exhausted.” Golfing eighteen holes, pl…

Off to a Great Start

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It's October! Time for what I call "The Trifecta of Fun," which includes my birthday, our anniversary, and, of course, Halloween. Is there any doubt October is my favorite month?

As I flipped my calendar to the month of awesomeness, I was greeted by a notice of a new Amazon review for A Groovy Kind of Love.

4.0 out of 5 stars   Thaddeus Mumblegarden!

Rich character development and a great story that I thoroughly enjoyed. The name Thaddeus Mumblegarden sticks in my head! Great laugh out loud moments as well as sweet romance. A Lifetime movie for sure!

Thanks, Denise.


Happy Autumnal Equinox

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To celebrate my favorite season, A Groovy Kind of Love e-books are on sale for 99¢ today, 9/23.


Click on the links below to grab your copy.

Amazon Barnes & Noble iTunes Kobo Smashwords

Remember, if you don't have a Kindle or Nook, you can read Groovy on your phone, iPad, or computer.

Each of the Bibliophile books are stand-alone novels, so feel free to jump right in with A Groovy Kind of Love.




"A Groovy Kind of Love was JUST what I needed…hippies, unrequited love, crazy/high families,  mysterious exes from the past, foreign travel, tragedy. Really, what more could a reader ask for? This book is The Odd Couple meets Beauty and the Beast with a touch of Nicholas Sparks tragedy thrown in for good measure."                  
                                                                       — The Republican Herald book blog 






Catnip for Classic Lit Lovers

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Mrs. Poe
By Lynn Cullen
Gallery Books, 2014
314 pages
Five stars


The triumphant success of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” compels fledgling poet Frances Osgood to meet her literary idol, a mysterious, complicated man who soon has her under his seductive spell in an all-consuming affair. And when Edgar’s frail young wife breaks into their idyll to befriend her rival, Frances fears that deceiving Mrs. Poe may be as impossible as cheating death itself. . . .




In her novel, Mrs. Poe, author Lynn Cullen describes Edgar Allan Poe as “catnip” to female members of the New York literati circa 1845. I’m happy to say her historical fiction novel had the same effect on me.

Long have I been a fan of Poe and his macabre tales and reading Cullen’s book sent me straight to my copy of The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, not to revisit “The Tell-Tale Heart” or “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” but instead in search of his love poems to Frances Sargent Osgood. Their flirtations on paper and in public caused …

From 'Meh' to Wonderful

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


One unfortunate side of writing for me is not being able to read a lot. I can’t be completely involved in someone else’s story while creating my own. However, since I wasn’t writing this summer, I had the chance to read some great books and one okay one. I’m still slogging through that damned nonfiction piece about Louisa May Alcott and her mother, but I have a hard time reading some nonfiction for fun. Of course I want to learn things, but they can be such a drudgery sometimes. Maybe that’s why I prefer historical fiction.

I’ll start with the “meh” and work up to the wonderful.

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett had everything I thought I would love — old tomes, a sweet love story, and intrigue — yet somehow I found myself skipping sections wanting to just get on with it already. A portrait that eerily resembles antique bookseller Peter Byerly’s recently deceased wife sends him on a quest in which he stumbles upon quite possibly the Holy Grail of books,…

What I Did on my Summer Vacation By Karen Wojcik Berner

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


When I was young, we started the school year on the Tuesday after Labor Day, so I thought it fitting to return to blogging today. Sans pigtails, of course.

My break was dominated by my youngest son’s sports schedule, lots of shuffling him to and from practices (football and lacrosse), like many of you. We traveled to Pennsylvania and New Jersey for lacrosse tournaments. Pennsylvania was fantastic. We stayed less than a mile from Valley Forge. Held on the grounds of a prep school founded in 1799, this tournament had the most gorgeous lacrosse fields I’ve ever seen, truly East Coast lacrosse at its finest, and we Midwesterners were just happy to play with the big boys. We flew out of Philadelphia, so we got to tour Independence Hall and saw the Liberty Bell as well, which were pretty amazing. Oh, yeah, and Philly cheesesteaks are fantastic.

New Jersey? Suffice to say, the first day of the tournament, while our team finished up its last game, someone stole o…

Taking a Summer Break

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Hope your summer is going well.

Between having my sons home, out-of-town lacrosse tournaments, and shuttling the youngest from practice to practice, I can't believe it, but this summer has actually been more hectic than the school year!

I've decided to take a little break from the blog, a blogcation, if you will, until mid-August when the guys go back to school, and I can have some peace and quiet.

When I return, I'll have some book reviews to share with you, specifically my take on the new Harper Lee novel, plus some interesting facts about Edgar Allan Poe I recently learned.

Enjoy the next month, and I'll see you soon.

Karen








Groovy Called 'The Perfect Summer Read'

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Greetings, Bibliophiles.

Hope you are enjoying your summer.

A Groovy Kind of Lovereceived 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!

Groovy's a Best Seller

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I'm happy to announce that A Groovy Kind of Loveofficially 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!




Reflections, Mother's Day 2015

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Spring has definitely sprung in Chicagoland. The crabapple tree outside my kitchen window has begun exchanging its gorgeous magenta flowers for green leafy branches.

That tree inspired me to include one just like it in A Groovy Kind of Love. It’s the tree under which Thaddeus and Spring get married. Its appearance is a little nod to my mother. We planted our own crabapple tree in her memory eighteen years ago after she died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Pink was her favorite color, so each year when magenta blooms festoon each branch, coincidentally around Mother’s Day, I can’t help but remember Mom.

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…

Twenty Years of Awesome: BBC's 1995 Pride and Prejudice

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


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 happ…

Join Me Over at Indies Unlimited

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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.



Ten Things I Love About Shakespeare

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER






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.


2. Pianist Andre Tchaikowsky donated his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982 for use on stage. It was used sparingly in rehearsals …

Spring Break

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER

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 w…

Celebrating Five Years

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the release of my first novel, A Whisper to a Scream. Five years ago, I uploaded my story on Kindle, pressed “Publish” and crossed my fingers.

I had no idea what I was doing.

I started learning about this relatively new thing called social media. I met all sorts of people crazy enough to do the same thing at Kindle Boards, people you might know like Al from BigAl’s Books and Pals, Lynne from Red Adept Publishing, and Karen McQuestion, the first indie darling of Amazon who had her work optioned for film. And yes, Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath were there, too. We shared helpful hints as we all mitigated our way through this infant of an industry alongside birth announcements. It’s amazing what a close community can spring up from a virtual world.

Exciting. Rebellious. We made our own paths, blazed our own trails while Konrath banged the drum of independence.

My first sale was exhilarating. And the one after that. And t…

The 2015 BigAl's Books and Pals Readers' Choice Nominees

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER

I'm happy to announce that A Groovy Kind of Love has been nominated in the Women's Fiction/Chick Lit category of the 2015 Readers' Choice Awards over at the awesome BigAl's Books and Pals review blog.

Voting started on Saturday, 3/14, and will continue until Saturday, 3/28. You could win a ton of books and even a $75 Amazon gift card if you head over to BigAl's Books and Pals to vote. If you were to vote for A Groovy Kind of Love, I'd be eternally grateful. Just sayin'.

Here's what the Pals had to say.

"In the twelve months ending February 28th, 2015, BigAl and the Pals will have received over 3,000 review requests and published more than 300 new book reviews. 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 fourteen categories."

Here is the list of nominees.

Children/Middle Grade

Kid Nitro and the Sinist…

Writing About All Kinds of Love

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER

Writing each book is a great learning experience, and A Groovy Kind of Love was no exception. Cheshire Cat's Looking Glass blog asked me three things I learned while writing this latest novel. Here are my answers.

1. My co-protagonist Spring Pearson’s mother and father were Hippies. There’s a common misconception that all Hippies did was smoke pot, listen to music, and roll around in the mud at Woodstock. While I’m sure a few did, that’s definitely not all. Many marched for civil rights, protested the Vietnam War, and truly believed they could change the world and its societal ills.

My father was delirious with joy I was only a toddler in the mid- to late sixties, because he was sure if I were older, I would have been out there protesting with the Hippies, and he would have had to bail me out of jail on several occasions. He’s right.

2. The other co-protagonist, Thaddeus Mumblegarden IV, plays baseball, much to his dismay and to the delight of his ov…

Hi, my name is Karen, and I'm a Social Media Addict

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER

As you know, my latest novel, A Groovy Kind of Love, has been on two book tours for the past month and a half. These promotional opportunities were supposed to provide me with the freedom to write while others did the work.

Instead, however, I was sucked into a vortex of checking each spotlight, review, interview, guest post, and mention like some crazed Pavlovian dog awaiting the electric shock of positive reinforcement.

Multiple times a day.

Blogs. Facebook. Twitter. Google Alerts. Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords reviews.

If I didn’t check for a few hours, I’d get jumpy, like I was missing out on something. It was all so readily available on my phone, iPad, the computer, I lost control.

Once you get caught up in the promotional cycle, it’s difficult to get out. There’s always more that can be done, you see, whether you are traditionally published or self-published. More reviews to court. More guest posts to write. More interviews to give.…

Monday Mishmash

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER

Happy Monday! I'm borrowing an idea from my blogger friend and YA/middle-grade author Kelly Hashway this morning. Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. My thanks to Kelly for this great idea and for the graphic. Feel free to grab it and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind this morning.

1. Trivia Tuesday doesn’t seem to be catching on. That’s okay. Not everything works. Besides, usually I blog on Monday and occasionally Wednesday or Friday, so Tuesday feels strange, off kilter. Consequently, I’m moving Trivia Tuesday to Twitter and my Facebook page and will resume my old blogging schedule. Click here to join me on Twitter or here for Facebook.

2. What are you reading? I’m halfway into Joyce Carol Oates’ Carthage, which has already taken a twist I didn’t expect. She never ceases to amaze me.

3. Can you believe this is the last week of February already? These first months of 2015  have flown …

Music and the Writer

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER

Last week, I contributed to British author and journalist Roz Morris’ fascinating series “Undercover Soundtrack,” which explores the symbiotic relationship between music and literature. My piece discusses how music inspired many parts of the Bibliophiles series, including all three of the titles.

Here's a bit of it.

"The chance to delve into the '60s and the Pearsons’ background was too much fun to resist. Only a small child when the Hippies embarked on their psychedelic journey, I was drawn to their sense of freedom, something I had never felt growing up as an only child.

Every day while writing Spring’s childhood, the velvety smooth vocals of Jim Morrison in The Doors’ classic "Light My Fire" showed me a window to their world and explored quintessential sixties sounds. I mean, does anyone use an organ like that anymore? "Aquarius" belted out by the 5th Dimension and originally from the musical "Hair" signified p…

Trivia Tuesday: Polish Style

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER

Today, millions of people around the world are celebrating indulgence. For some, it's Mardi Gras in New Orleans, while for others it's Carnival in Rio. 
For me, it's all about this. 


Being of Polish descent, my family and millions of Poles around the world have these delectable treats as a last fling on Fat Tuesday before Lent begins. 
But I certainly don't let the fact that I am no longer Catholic get in the way of a good sweet treat. I mean, who am I to pass on dessert?
So, here's your trivia question. The answer is below in smaller print.
What are these yummy Polish donuts called?
Na zdrowie! (Polish for "Cheers!")







Answer:
Paczki, pronounced "poonch-key" 

A Groovy Kind of Valentine's Day Sale

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Wanted to let you know about a special, limited-time Valentine’s Day sale. 
This weekend, February 13-15, all A Groovy Kind of Love ebooks will be priced at $2.99. 
That’s $3 off the regular price for all Groovy ebooks at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, and Kobo.
The reviews have been pouring in, and I’m happy to report a 4.5-star average on Amazon and a 4.22-star average on Goodreads.
Happy Valentine's Day!

It's Trivia Tuesday on Bibliophilic Blather

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I've always loved trivia games. As a kid, I was a game show junkie. The awesome Trivial Pursuit was the official game of the Wojcik household since its origins in the early eighties. Before that, my father used to quiz me on pretty much anything he could think of, stuff like music, state capitals, singers, or U.S. presidents. He'd always preface the question with "For one million dollars…" So, it's only natural that when I brainstormed for new features on Bibliophilic Blather, trivia popped right into my head. I know it's already a meme on Twitter, but it's new to me. I hope you'll join me every Tuesday for questions on a variety of topics, including books (of course), music, movies, sports, history, or anything that strikes my fancy that week.


First up? Love. Since Valentine's Day is Saturday, from which classic lit novels do these declarations of love flow?

1. “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope...I have loved none but you.” 

2. “I a…