Showing posts from 2011

Holiday Wishes


I have decided not to become all emotional and weepy while writing this post, like I did when I wrote the Bibliophilic Blather anniversary piece a few months ago. Thank goodness Blogger is not Skype.

This is wholeheartedly against type. You see, I am the one who cries at the end of every Christmas movie, be it Ebenezer Scrooge sending a goose to the Cratchit family, Clarence getting his wings, or the entire Peanuts gang yelling “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!”

This predisposition to “leaking,” as Jim Carrey’s Grinch calls it, is a time-honored trait handed down to me from my mother, who, at around the same age as me, was known to cry at the proverbial drop of a hat. Even at Hallmark commercials.

By the way, have you seen the one with the soldier opening the Peanuts book and hearing his child read for the first time? That one took me awhile to get over.

So, I will simply wish you a very happy holiday season and focus on what I hope for you in the new yea…

There's Music in the Air


Christmas has always been a time of music for me, having sung in choirs for most of first half of my life.

Concerts. Caroling. A Madrigal.

There was always singing in my house growing up, whether we were putting up the tree or baking cookies.

I still burst out in song periodically throughout the day. Depending on the music, it either calms me or psyches me up for what lies ahead.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?

Mine is "What Child is This?" It is based on the old English hymn of "Greensleeves," which I find soothing and lovely. Speaking of English Christmas classics, I also am partial to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," which seems to be used in every version of A Christmas Carol I have ever watched. I also really love "The Holly and the Ivy."

"Silver Bells" reminds me of what December was like working in downtown Chicago early on in my magazine career. And "Angels We Have Heard on  High" i…

Editing for Grammarphobes: A Public Service Announcement


Note: I ran this last December, but seeing as it is still a widespread problem, it must be repeated.

I love the holidays, but one thing guaranteed to bring out my inner Grinch is the most common grammatical error of the season -- reindeers. That’s right, reindeers.

Ladies and gentlemen, reindeers do not exist. There are only reindeer. Reindeer is a singular and plural word referring to the large Arctic deer who pull Santa’s sleigh.

I have heard this error in songs and carols, as well as misspoken on city streets, and it jolts me every time like a sprig of holly through my heart.

So, please remember reindeer in your holiday writing and conversations. It will make the season a more pleasurable one, especially for all of the grammar grinches like me. Thank you.

Flash Fiction Fridays: Holiday Warmth


Today, Sharon Cupp Pennington brings us a glimpse of a lovely moment between a husband and wife during the holidays. Enjoy.

Dancing with My Best Friend
By Sharon Cupp Pennington

My husband and I were alone in the den of our Texas home. I don't recall the program, but Christmas music emanated from the television: a familiar standard, slow and foolishly nostalgic. It seemed only a few years ago our house bustled with energetic teenagers — the three of them grown now and nurturing families of their own.

Years of healing had passed since my hit and run accident, but I still waddled like a duck. Or as my physical therapist used to laugh and say, a Weeble-Wobble.

I'd spent the afternoon puttering around the house, dusting shelves of family photographs and books, my collection of decorative boxes and knick-knacks. The grandkids' homemade stockings were hung above the fireplace, and "Mr. and Mrs. Snowman" positioned on the mantle. Like so man…

Happy (Almost) Birthday, Jane Austen


December 16 is the most hallowed of all dates in literary history, for it was on that day in 1775 that the most wonderful Jane Austen was born. Since the 16th falls on a Flash Fiction Fridays this year, I've decided to pay homage a few days early.

I know a lot of you are like me and enjoy our dear Miss Austen's work in many forms, especially those starring Colin Firth (sigh).

Let's celebrate by sharing our favorite Jane Austen novel or adaptation. Which one do you like best?

I'll go first. Although I love them all, I cannot help but count Pride and Prejudice as my favorite novel. For adaptation, I have to go with the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and, of course, Colin Firth. However, Bridget Jones's Diary comes in a close second.

How about you? What is your favorite Austen novel or adaptation?

Love Unlisted Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Janel G. for winning the Stephanie Haddad Day book giveaway and…

It's Blog Tour Time


My WOW! Women on Writing Blog Tour begins today. I am promoting the first novel in the Bibliophiles series, A Whisper to a Scream. From now until mid-January, I will be guest blogging on several awesome sites, discussing all kinds of Bibliophile things, such as "Writing backstories," "What I have learned about e-publishing," and "Channeling your inner man: how to create realistic male characters."

In typical Bibliophile fashion, there will be much talk of books. I wrote one post on why we should revisit the classics, and another on what we can learn from them. I even did a podcast interview that will air later on in December. 
It is all very exciting. 
Here is the schedule of appearances, if you would like to join me on any of the stops on the official A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles: Book One) blog tour. 
12/12: The Muffin (WOW! Women on Writing) 12/14: Musings from the Slushpile 12/15: Writer Inspired 12/16: CMash …

Flash Fiction Fridays: 'Tis the Season, Part Two


Last week, we began the holiday season with a Poe Christmas tale of shopping woe. Now, a detective tries to solve the murder.

A Spillane Interpretation of a Dickens Christmas
By R. Doug Wicker

It was the best of times, Christmas. It was the worst of crimes, murder. She was a store clerk at the Old Curiosity Shoppe. Her name was Lenore, and she lay dead upon the floor, strangled with a ribbon of rain checks by an irate Christmas shopper. The suspect’s name was Ollie, and I knew then that this murder had a twist.

It was time for the “bad cop” routine so I slipped into the role, not that it required much acting on my part. “Okay, Ollie, what’s your last name?”

“Co . . . Co . . . Copperfield.”

“This your first offense, Copperfield? Murder goes down easier if it’s a first offense.  You’ll probably looking at two to ten.”


“Weeks. Probation. This is California, you know. Now spill it.”

“I’ve never been in trouble before today. Well . . . except for those…

It’s Stephanie Haddad Day on Bibliophilic Blather!


You probably remember that Stephanie, a Flash Fiction Fridays contributor, has recently released her second novel, Love Unlisted. Here is your chance to win a copy. Just comment at the end of this post, and you will automatically be entered in the contest. It’s that easy. The winner will be announced on 12/14.

And now, I proudly present...Stephanie Haddad.

As the work-from-home mother of a toddler, poor organization can make my life implode. Staying “on top of my game” means good note-taking, a strong work ethic, and lots of discipline. I explored some of the finer points of organization through my heroine, Grace Shields, in my romance novel, Love Unlisted. In it, readers get to see inside the mind of a woman truly compelled by organization, as she makes lists for everything—including the pros and cons of her intended hero.

Grace is a bit compulsive. And while I admit that part of her neuroses is based on my own truth, I’m not that bad with my Type A tend…

A Nice Review


Many people think A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles: Book One) is a thriller or horror piece. It is understandable, given the title. However, it really comes from the Icicle Works song of the same name, especially the chorus lyrics.

"We are, we are, we are but your children, Finding our way around indecision, We are, we are we are ever helpless, Take us forever, A whisper to a scream."

The title refers to something that starts as a spark, a mere trace of an idea, but eventually grows into something that makes you want to, well, scream. 
Here is a review Whisper received recently on Goodreads. 

A WHISPER TO A SCREAM by Karen Wojcik Berner
Published by CreateSpace
ISBN-10: 145659365X
ISBN-13: 978-1456593650
Genre: Women's Fiction
At the request of the author, Karen Wojcik Berner, and WOW Tours, a digital edition was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.

(I am omitting the synopsis here, since you probably already know the basic premise …

Flash Fiction Fridays: 'Tis the Season


To start December off right, here is a clever piece by friend of the blog, R. Doug Wicker. Enjoy.

A Poe Christmas
By R. Doug Wicker

Once upon a snowstorm dreary, through which I trudged all weak and weary,

Past many a quaint and curious number of advertisement lore

I saw the ad, above some wrapping; on the door I started tapping

At first it was a gentle tapping, tapping at the storefront door

I must gain entry to this store, as there was nothing then I wanted more

Searching for this and nothing more

The toy was here for which I search, leaving me in quite a lurch
Having waited far too long to shop for “The Super Fly-A-Saur”

Eagerly I watched the clerk, beckoning me not to shirk
I quickly entered, nearly berserk; “I must have it,” I said with a smirk

“Where, oh where, be that damned flying dinosaur?”

Quoth the clerk, “The second floor”

Up the escalator I ran, fighting against its downward span
I cursed its descending stairs as I glanced to the ascendin…

Steampunk Wonderland


Flash Fiction Fridays contributor Jason G. Anderson has released a new novel, Gears of Wonderland, which puts a far different spin on the famous Lewis Carroll tale.

Here's the description.

James Riggs lives a normal life with a mind-numbing job, an overbearing boss, and a demanding fiancée. Then he witnesses the murder of his best friend. Saved from the murderer by a strange man in a white suit, James is cast down a hole and into a world he always believed was a kid’s story. Wonderland.

But things have changed since Alice’s visit. The Knave of Hearts has seized the Heart throne, conquered all of Wonderland with his steam-powered technological marvels, and rules the land with an iron fist.

Aided by the Mad Hatter's daughter, James journeys to discover why he has been brought to Wonderland and how the tattoo on his arm could be the key to Wonderland’s salvation—or its destruction.

It has been edited by Lynn O'Dell (Red Adept Reviews).

Sounds int…



Mondays following long weekends are the worst, aren't they? After Thanksgiving and putting up the Christmas decorations (which look lovely, if I do say so myself), we have a few things to discuss today, nothing too taxing as we drag our sorry behinds back to work. Besides, it's Cyber Monday, and I know you want to get to your online shopping.

First, I know I am probably a total dork, but I am pretty excited to announce I have my own hashtag. That's right, Twitter lovers, A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles: Book One) has its own moniker, #Bibliophiles1. The really cool thing is that I can add a new one each time one of the Bibliophiles novels is released. For example, Catherine's book will be #Bibliophiles2 when it comes out in the spring of 2012. 

Second, I am conceptualizing the schedule for next year's Flash Fiction Fridays. Do you think we should stay with the monthly themes or go open prompt for most of the year? I do enjoy the…

Flash Fiction Fridays: Musings


Sometimes things just work out, don't they? This month, the pieces I received for open prompt all deal with the inner workings of the mind — its wishes, doubts, fits and reflections. Enjoy.

Car Parts
By Jay Marvin

The old pickup rattled and squeaked like a prison sentence. Frank felt down. He
wanted right the woman to share his bed.

Sixty miles from Twenty Nine Palms, Frank saw the engine was boiling. Frank sprung from the cab. He smelled a noxious odor clawing the desert air. The thermostat was dead. He didn't have one to fix it.

Sitting, his knees drawn up and back against the truck, he buried his head in his hands. Big rigs blasted by in swirls of dust and sand. He needed help. However, he had no one to call.

It was his fault.

He kept things to himself. He knew many people, but he'd shared little.

Then, without warning, in the still of the night, a bolt of white, hot, luminous explosion hit the desert floor. A young woman locked her eyes on…

The Holiday Season Begins


After learning about what really happened on and after the first Thanksgiving, I must confess the holiday is tainted. Thank goodness, my family was not among the crazy Puritans or even in the United States throughout the years of slaughter, when millions of Native Americans died in the name of expansion.

However, the idea of a national day of thanks is an excellent one, so I choose to celebrate that spirit.

It is a tenuous world we inhabit. Economies collapsing. Natural disasters. Political fighting the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime. Many are struggling. The costs of living grows greater each month.

It is overwhelming.

In these kinds of times, we all need some hope.

My wish as we begin this holiday season is for small, random acts of kindness to spread across the globe reaffirming that amid the chaos, the human capacity for good still exists.

I am going to try it. I hope you will as well.

There are so many things the average citizen really…

Looks Like Alien Love


Flash Fiction Fridays contributor LC Evans has released her latest romantic comedy novel, My Planet or Yours?

Here's a quick description.

Nora Bryant is a single Earth woman out to ban men from her life after a recent breakup. Triskam is a strikingly handsome extraterrestrial who crash lands near her remote Arizona home. Add to this mix, a couple of misguided thugs looking for a gold rush, an overly friendly, not-so-guard dog, and a communications device that thinks it's a nanny, and you have My Planet or Yours?, a delightful new romantic comedy by LC Evans, author of the Kindle bestseller, We Interrupt This Date.

When all of the good men on earth are taken, what's a girl to do, right?

My Planet or Yours? is available at or .

Flash Fiction Friday: Maddening Musings


Sometimes things just work out, don't they? This month, the pieces I received for open prompt all deal with the inner workings of the mind — its wishes, doubts, fits and reflections. Enjoy.

By Paul Venderley

A blank page.

Many a writer has spent hours in front of such a monster, its thin, faded blue lines slicing across an empty canvas rather than serving as perches for words. That is not the nightmare that plagues me now, decades into my life.

I have distilled the halcyon days of my impetuous youth onto college-ruled collections of parchment. Drafted into the Korean War, I used that as impetus to travel the world, from Europe to Africa to Washington, D.C., documenting all I’d seen.

I've written to change things, addressing problems brought on by political folly, by societal fears, by monsters both perceived and real. Each piece, each article, each journal, each letter to the editor I have saved and stored in scores of filing cabinets and bo…

Editing for Grammarphobes: Cutting the Fat


Redundancies. They clog our writing, weighing it down in unnecessary muck, much like what triple cheeseburgers with bacon and mayonnaise do to our arteries.

Here is a great list from that fantastic book I told you about a few weeks ago, The Bugaboo Review, by Sue Sommer.

Watch out for the following duplicate phrases.

advance planning
and also
burn up
close down
down below
8:00 p.m. at night
fall down
free gift
funeral service
Jewish rabbi
lie down
lift up
my own personal opinion
owns his own home
raise up
refer back
staple together
use it all up

I especially like "Jewish rabbi." What other kind is there?

Time to edit. Have a good day.


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-win…

Let’s Help Jump-Start the Economy


If you have read A Whisper to a Scream, you might have noticed how much time Annie and Sarah spend in coffeehouses. No surprise, I am exceedingly fond of hot beverages, especially chai tea lattes, Annie’s favorite drink, followed closely by Sarah’s preference, peppermint mocha. Yum.

Anyhow, one of my favorite places, Starbucks, has started a wonderful program called “Let’s Create Jobs,” an attempt to get badly needed money and loans to small business owners and underserved communities through the Opportunity Finance Network.

If you purchase a $5 wrist band, all of the proceeds will go toward getting small businesses the money they need to keep afloat and/or expand, which will help the create jobs our country so desperately needs.

All it takes is five extra dollars when you go in and grab your morning coffee. Just think, for a little more than the cost of an extra grande, all of us can do a small part to help our local, family-owned businesses.

Will you jo…

Flash Fiction Fridays: More Musings


Sometimes things just work out, don't they? This month, the pieces I received for open prompt all deal with the inner workings of the mind — its wishes, doubts, fits and reflections. Enjoy.

Looking For Love in the Hall of Mirrors
by Nick Kirincic

I don’t like her as much on Friday nights. She dresses fancier, and puts on too much makeup, and laughs too hard at things I know she doesn’t think are funny. Her hair is puffier, and her voice is tuned up an octave, as if she were reading the news or selling something on a shopping network. She dances to songs I know she thinks are terrible, slinking her body around to imply a sexuality I know she doesn’t possess, walking a constant plank in shoes I know she’s not comfortable in. She’s nice to people I know she doesn’t like and ignores people that I know she likes and performs for an audience that I know she abhors.

I like her more on nights like last Monday. We sat in the corner booth at Mac’s, the half doze…

Read Along with The Bibliophiles


I have added something to my website that I would like to share with you.

Since the whole concept of The Bibliophiles series revolves around a book club, I thought it might be fun to create book club ideas based upon the literature The Bibliophiles will read throughout each book of my series.

You could incorporate these into your established book clubs, or start a brand new one of your own.

First up is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, at the beginning of A Whisper to a Scream. The Bibliophiles also study As You Like It by William Shakespeare.

Since food and beverages are half of book club fun, I have developed some suggestions that are thematically linked to the literature. For example, James Joyce was Irish, so what about serving mini-ruben sandwiches and Guinness? Or maybe even bangers and mash, a pub favorite?

I also wrote up three discussion questions for each piece to help facilitate your conversation, including some for A Whis…

I Have a Dream


November is "Adopt an Indie" month. I don't know if you remember my post on it a few weeks ago, but Donna Brown over at has organized this event to bring authors, readers and book bloggers together to dispel the myth that the only good books come from traditional publishing companies. There are plenty of great indie novels out there. It is not just the Big Six anymore.

My guest blog appears here, in which I discuss what I have learned about indie authors during my two years of officially being out on my own.

"Adopt an Indie" month also includes live chats with authors, lots of great guest blogs and prizes.

Please stop by or better yet, support indie authors today by either trying out one of their books or leaving a review if you liked their work.

I have a dream that someday it will not matter who published the book, but what is inside.

Flash Fiction Fridays: Musings


Sometimes things just work out, don't they? This month, the pieces I received for open prompt all deal with the inner workings of the mind — its wishes, doubts, fits and reflections. To start off November, here's a story with which many of you are probably quite familiar.

A Slave to her Muse
By Leanne Dyck

Debbie Newton slept, but not peacefully. One minute she lay on her stomach, the next she flipped like a pancake on to her back. She kicked at the blankets, mashed her head into the pillow. Longing for a soothing island oasis, she found a violent storm. The wind raged, tossing her like a kite. A rope. Yes, that's what I need. In her hands, a thick rock climber's rope appeared. She looped it around a tree and then around herself. There, she thought, confident she'd won. Red-handled scissors materialized. One cut and she sailed into the air.

"No fair!" she screamed, pounding her mattress.

Soaring over rooftops, she looked down …

Who Couldn't Use a Little More Love?


Friend of the blog and previous Flash Fiction Fridays contributor Stephanie Haddad has released a new book, a contemporary romance entitled Love Unlisted.

Grace Shields is not your typical control freak. She’s much more organized. But a career that’s getting away from her and a sudden brotherly home invasion have her just a teeny bit more stressed than usual. Enter Colin Kilbourne, a free-spirited musician with a knack for ruffling Grace’s pristine feathers...and spilling coffee on all her work clothes. Grace has to find a way to become impervious to his mischievous charm and good looks, or else she just might lose control over everything after all.

Love Unlisted is available on and Smashwords.

Flash Fiction Fridays: Your Worst Nightmare


Bibliophilic Blather's Nightmare month ends today with a great piece by Michael Robb Mathias. Happy Halloween!

The Next Big Thing
By Michael Robb Mathias

"I won't do porn." She brushed her long golden hair out of her mascara laden eyes and sipped the last bit of her margarita. The music had stopped at last call.

"Nah, beautiful," he said as he fondled his goatee thoughtfully. "You're not porn material." She wasn't. Even when the dance floor lights went off, and the house lights came on, she looked great. Curvaceous, he decided. The tight black party dress only accentuated the look.

She pouted as if he called her fat. He caught it. With a glance around the emptying bar he put his arm around her. "You're too hot for porn. Baby, you could be the next big thing."

"Really?" She let her arm trail around his waist.

"You could be." He looked around the bar again curiously. "We'…

Winter Flash Fiction Due 11/28


Nightmare Month wraps up with on Friday with an excellent and appropriately creepy piece of flash from M.R. Mathias.

Next up is an open prompt in November, for which all of the spots are filled, I am happy to report.

So now it is time to cast our eyes toward December, a month when winter's chill rears its head. When merriment is juxtaposed with the quiet peacefulness of a snow-covered wood.

What does winter mean to you?

The deadline for winter flash fiction submissions is November 28. Remember, 1,000 words or less. Send them to Put "Flash Fiction Fridays" in the subject line and include a short bio and purchase links with your story. Also, please remember to sign up to follow Bibliophilic Blather, so we can build our online writing community.

I look forward to reading your work.


Flash Fiction Fridays: Scared Yet?


Nightmare month continues today on Flash Fiction Fridays with a great piece by Leah Griffith. Enjoy.

Too Big To Kill By Leah Griffith

My eyes were running over the pages of a good novel when I first noticed some movement in my peripheral vision. It was just a slight shadow, and then stillness. I ignored it, figuring it was just a stray lash that had been bugging me from an overindulgent application of Ultra Thick Lash Mascara I had purchased at the Rush & Shop on my way home from work last night. I’d been working double shifts at the Cranky Yankee, a small diner right outside of town, and last night was my first night out with the girls in two long weeks. Unfortunately, I ended up blowing half the money that I’d been saving on buying drinks for everyone, instead of piling it up for the big move out of my parent’s house to live on my own. I laid my book down to straighten myself, searching for a more comfortable position, and started thinking about the …

Editing for Grammarphobes: Getting the Bugs Out of Your Writing


I was reading the November issue of The Writer, a wonderful publication I have subscribed to ever since I decided to have a go at this profession, some three thousand years ago. There is a great article by Sue Sommer on pages 26 and 27 called “Don’t Let Tricky Word Pairs Bug You.”

Sue’s book, The Bugaboo Review, is a lighthearted examination of usage, grammar and spelling mistakes compiled during her years as an English and creative writing teacher.

We have covered some of her word pairs already in past posts, but here are a few new ones.

all ready/already

All ready means “completely prepared” (all is ready); already means “previously.”


Lila was all ready to go, but her friends had already left.


Discreet means “judicious or prudent”; discrete means “distinct, separate, diverse.”


Be discreet when you meet your boyfriend.

Each cow has its own discrete markings.


Veracious means “truthful, honest”; voracious means…

Flash Fiction Fridays: The Nightmare Continues


Welcome to Flash Fiction Fridays' Nightmare Month. Today, we have not one, but two stories to keep you on edge and disturb your dreams. Enjoy.

Golden Eyes
By Ivana Milaković

I wake up covered in cold sweat, sick with fear. I know it was just a bad dream, and yet, I have to get up and check her out, just to see she’s fine. Barefoot, without turning the lights on even though it’s the middle of the night, I walk to her. She opens her golden eyes and looks at me, and I start to breathe, realizing only then I was holding my breath.

Her gaze is calm, so I calm down too. I feel sorry for waking her up, and comfort myself with the thought that she always finds it easy to sleep.

Sleep doesn’t come so easy to me, though. I don’t even remember the nightmares and don’t want to; all I want is for her to be safe, and there’s nothing in the world that could guarantee me that. Nothing and nobody could guarantee me that someone wouldn’t hit her with a car for the fun o…

You Want In?


Fossil that I am, you know it has taken me awhile to get into Twitter. Well, I am discovering great things on it every day, one of which I want to share with you.

“Adopt an Indie” month will start in November, the brainchild of Donna Brown at Book Bags and Cat Naps. She has organized an event to bring authors, readers and book bloggers together to dispel the myth that the only good books come from traditional publishing companies. There are plenty of great indie novels out there. It is not just the Big Six anymore.

Readers will be able to read and review one book from the available selection, to “adopt” that indie, then have the chance to ask them questions about their work.

There also will be live chats and Q & A sessions. Bloggers will be sharing their perspectives on the changing book market, as well as posting novel excerpts.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

I have signed Bibliophilic Blather up as one of the “Adopt an Indie” blogs and will be contributing …