Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Join Me Over at Indies Unlimited

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.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ten Things I Love About Shakespeare

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.

Katy Stephens (Rosalind) in As You Like It.  Photo by Ellie Kurttz. Photo courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

2. Pianist Andre Tchaikowsky donated his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982 for use on stage. It was used sparingly in rehearsals (creeped people out too much) until 2008, when David Tennant played Hamlet and the skull appeared as Yorick. Too cool! To read the full story, click here.

David Tennant stars as Hamlet in a 2008 Royal Shakespeare Company production. Photo courtesy of BBC News.com

3. Did you know the 27 moons of Uranus are named after characters created by Shakespeare and Alexander Pope, including Puck, Cordelia, Desdemona, Juliet, Prospero, and Cressida.

The moons of Uranus. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

4. Shakespeare was not only a playwright, but a good businessman as well. He made shrewd investments, built The Globe theater, and knew how to cater to audiences. He was quite wealthy when he died.

Shakespeare's grave. Photo by Karen Wojcik Berner.

5. He wrote 154 sonnets and several narrative poems.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

6. Shakespeare’s works are the second most-quoted in the English language behind the Bible.

Shakespeare statue in Stratford-upon-Avon. Photo by Karen Wojcik Berner.

7. He added 3,000 words to the language.

8. PBS’s fantastic Shakespeare Uncovered delves into the plays and discusses their relevancy in today’s world through interviews with actors, scholars, and directors. It examines where the stories may have originated, what were the major political, cultural, and religious influences at the time, and how the plays been interpreted throughout the years. Truly magnificent, this is one of my favorite shows on television, and it features such luminaries this season as Hugh Bonneville (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Morgan Freeman (The Taming of the Shrew), Joseph Fiennes (Romeo and Juliet), and Christopher Plummer (King Lear).

9. King Lear, the greatest tragedy of all-time. There’s something about a pompous, arrogant, aging father who descends into madness after casting off his kind daughter that hits home with me.

Ian McKellen as King Lear. Photo courtesy of The Dobbyn Digest blog.

10. The Complete Works of Shakespeare, edited by David Bevington is a treasure trove of information. I still have mine from my college Shakespeare class, which was taught by one of the first female graduates from Oxford. Pure magic.

Happy Birthday, sweet Master Shakespeare. May your work and legacy live on to further delights audiences of all ages.

What is your favorite thing about Shakespeare? Do you prefer the plays or the poems? How many of the plays have you seen?


“Bequeathed skull stars in Hamlet,” BBC News.com

“William Shakespeare,” Biography.com 

Shakespeare Uncovered

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring Break

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 will never call it the Willis Tower) some 1,353 feet in the air, 103 floors up, out on the Ledge, a glass box that extends about four feet outside the building.

After a bout of vertigo several years ago, I haven’t been very good with heights. Even my beloved roller coasters have been tabled. But somehow, I thought it would be cool to get a picture of all of us out on the Ledge. Again, the Frozen song echoed in my head, so I steeled myself and climbed on.


Looking down, I marveled at the feeling of being outside of the building, literally outside of conventional structure.

I felt free.

My father is downsizing and moving to a garden apartment in the same building where I spent a good chunk of my youth. Not good with change, this move is an enormous stressor on him, and consequently on me as well, even if it is only two floors down. A couple more weeks, and he will be in his new place.

The kids are back at their respective schools, and we are in the throes of our first high school lacrosse season (he’s starting attackman on the JV team —hooray for him!), which will be followed by club lacrosse summer travel tournaments. My eldest is finalizing plans for his senior year at Knox College (crazy, right?). I’ve been doing various projects that really needed my attention, including the aforementioned stuff plus various spring cleanings and my youngest’s scrapbook that I have six years of memories to chronicle before I forget everything.

I hadn’t felt the urge to write.

Until now.

A tiny fluttering flew into my stomach this morning, the spark of an idea or two rumbling through my brain. An essay, perhaps. Some snippets of a short story are beginning to make themselves known. Edwina Hipplewhite, actually. We shall see where they go from here.

Taking time off is essential for all of us, and writing is no different. Though it is a passion, it’s still a job.

And we all need a break.