Showing posts from 2014

Wait, what? It's Almost 2015???


When I started writing this "Favorite Books of 2014" post, I realized I hadn't read very much this year. Granted, I did polish off seven full-sized novels and four short stories, a smattering of entries in anthologies, a novella or two, several monthly magazines, and a god-knows-how-many online news articles.

But still not very many books for a bibliophile.

I had a good reason, though.

I finished writing and editing two novels of my own.

During the writing process, I'm very careful what I read, so it doesn't break my concentration on the novel at hand. It's sort of like method acting. I surround myself with things that keep me in the mood of the piece I am writing, whether they be books, music, or movies. Anything to keep in touch with the muse, right?

So, although my list is small, I truly enjoyed most of what I read in 2014. Here are my top five favorites.

1. Longbourn by Jo Baker.

A Jane Austen "Upstairs, Downstairs"…

Holiday Wishes 2014


When the kids were young, I felt overwhelmed by the holidays. So much to do. So much festivity to host. So much magic to create. Work parties. Family parties. Friend parties. Classroom parties. New Year’s Eve parties.

To mitigate such a schedule required supreme organizational skills, but hey, I wasn’t the editor-in-chief for my personality. I was the organizer-in-chief, and that definitely spilled into my personal life. Some called me “anal,” but I prefer to think of it as “competent.”

In the past, by this time, all the presents were wrapped and under the tree, at least five double batches of cookies had been baked plus fudge and/or chocolate-covered pretzels with assorted holiday sprinkles, the cards were sent, the decorations up, and the kids had seen Santa and took the precious picture upon the jolly one’s lap.

Granted, I don’t think my sons, now ages 15 and 20, would appreciate the Santa shot, but besides that, I have done nothing else on that list …

Monday Mishmash: Chaos in December


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. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

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

1. Pre-orders.A Groovy Kind of Love is now available for pre-order at Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, and Kobo. The paperbacks are almost ready as well, but as with all best-laid plans, are taking longer than I ever could have thought possible and I'm trying not to obsess about it. Suffice to say, the vein in my neck is growing larger by the day.

2. Holiday shopping. Down with a nasty cold for the last four days, days on which I was supposed to be out gathering gifts for loved ones, I am no where near done. It's okay, though. I have big hopes for this week.

3. Blog Tours. While I was sick, I was able to start work on Groovy's blog tours that will run fro…

I Need a Little Christmas


Now that everything in this house is fixed so far (knocks on wood to avoid further calamity), here are a couple of things I learned from a week that included little to no water usage (needed to get the black stack routed out), a pre-lit tree with only half the lights working, and the heat going out.

1. I love showers. This is why I do not camp.
2. Dishwashers are gifts from the gods.
3. Real Christmas trees are amazingly wonderful.
4. I love showers.
5. Electronic starters for heating units suck and go out occasionally, striking fear in the hearts of many homeowners. The good, old-fashioned pilot light was a much more reliable system.
6. I love showers.

To get in the Christmas spirit, I offer an excerpt from my holiday short story, "A Bibliophile Christmas," on sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, and Kobo all month for just 99¢.

A Bibliophile Christmas
By Karen Wojcik Berner

“God rest ye merry, gentlemen. Let nothing you dismay……

Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday

I'm blogging over at today on that very issue—Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday.  Here's the link.

Which do you prefer?

Thanksgiving Wishes


Recently, I typed the lovely words "The End" on my first novel outside of the Bibliophile series, a romance filled with great characters and fun new situations. That is, indeed, something to be grateful for. I'll keep you posted on its progress.

My husband took the week off, so I am too. Our oldest son is coming home from college and our youngest gets Wednesday through Sunday off from school. We plan on spending time doing nothing, eating a huge Thanksgiving meal, probably playing some games as we are apt to do, and enjoying each others' company.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with joy, laughter, and love.

'Tis the Season

It's a chilly one in Chicagoland. The temperature was 12 when I woke up this morning. With yesterday's snow flurries, it almost feels like Christmas already. So I put my holiday digital short, "A Bibliophile Christmas," on sale for just 99¢ from now through January.

It's available at any of these fine online retailers.

Barnes & Noble

Cover Reveal for Final Bibliophiles Book


Here is the cover for A Groovy Kind of Love, straight from the creative staff at Streetlight Graphics. What do you think?

I also have some news. After much consideration, I've decided this will be the last Bibliophiles book. I have several exciting ideas for stand-alone novels, as well as a brand-new character in a completely different genre whose tales are begging to be told. It feels like time to move on in these new directions.

The Bibliophiles will always hold a special place in my heart, and I hope you will agree that A Groovy Kind of Love is the perfect place to wrap things up.

Because of this decision, my production schedule has changed. I want the series to go out in style and not get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, so the official release date will be January 12, 2015. This way, you can cozy in with your favorite beverage and enjoy the story of Thaddeus and Spring as you recuperate from the holiday season.

A Groovy Kind of Love

Let the Arts Soothe Your Weary Soul


“Ah, a brand new week filled with possibilities.”

At least, that’s what I wish would run through my head every morning. Unfortunately, it’s usually more like this:

“Holy crap, the alarm went off at five-twenty, and I’m decaffeinated, so there’s that.”

But not today.
October has been chockfull of activity.

My editor and I finished the first round of edits on A Groovy Kind of Love, and now we’re at the final proofing stage. The talented staff at Streetlight Graphics is busy designing the cover.

I’ve been working on, helping to shape the site and provide content, which has been a wonderful learning experience.

Today, I will edit my first book review for Windy City Reviews, a publication of the Chicago Writers’ Association (CWA). CWA offers local scribes fantastic programs, lectures, and workshops throughout the city.

October has been filled with celebrations (my birthday, our anniversary), watching my high school freshman play football,…

Scary October Reads


Hello, everyone!

Today, I'm blogging about some of my favorite classic lit horror novels, as well as my October to-read list, at

Click here



I have been asked to join the Author Council of, a new site that brings readers together to discuss all sorts of stories, from works-in-progress to published books. There are forums for every genre, plus general discussion areas, like in The Front Door, where we're talking about the new Fall TV season and movie adaptations of books.

Not only that, but there are fascinating blog articles to read. Today, mine is about Banned Books Week. Did you know that since 1990, the American Library Association has received 18,000 requests to ban certain novels from shelves across the United States? Stop by and see what books are on the list.

Here's the link.

My group, I (Heart) Holidays, will feature fun decorating tips, recipes, and, of course, favorite books and stories.

As you can see, I'm really excited about Stop by and you'll know why.

Hope …

And the Official Title of Bibliophiles 3 Is…


I have emerged triumphant!

I've always wanted to say that. The reality is I have emerged with a completed manuscript that is on my editor's desk as I write this blog post.

Same difference, right?

It's been a crazy week, bibliophiles. My eldest started his junior year in college. His girlfriend from California came in over the weekend to visit and then to join him on their way back to school. My youngest, the football player, strained his quad muscle and on crutches for two weeks. And I made my deadline and put the finishing touches on Bibliophiles 3, which will be called (cue the trumpets)…


More details to come.

Off the Radar

Bibliophiles 3 is due on my editor's desk in exactly one week, so I'm going dark for seven days. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, no social media. Not nearly as dramatic as when Jack Bauer does it on 24, but there it is.

I will emerge next Monday with a title and more details.

Jo Baker's 'Longbourn' Does Not Disappoint


By Jo Baker
Vintage Books, 2013
332 pages

Jane Austen’s world is filled with carriages, ball gowns, manor homes, and elaborate dinner parties. Part of the fun for me has been dreaming of these glorious occasions, of someone lacing me into my gown or cooking every meal.

But who cleaned Elizabeth Bennet’s muddy dress after she trudged to Netherfield Park?

Jo Baker provides a possible answer in her excellent novel, Longbourn. Although described as Pride and Prejudice meets Downton Abbey, it really is so much more.

For all my years of reading Austen, I never once thought about the Herculean task of laundry day at the Bennet home, where the book opens, or the monumental effort it took cooks of the period to serve three meals a day plus tea from scratch.

This is not a piece of Jane Austen fan fiction. Yes, the Bennet family, plus Darcy, Bingley, and the lot appear, but it is through the servants’ eyes that we see them. Baker researched the duties and …

Flash Fiction

The Mirror of Dorian Gray

Sarah Anderson* Flash Fiction by Karen Wojcik Berner

My three-year-old and his teddy bear leap onto my bed, dangerously close to my head, and jolt me out of a deep sleep. Soon, my bladder reminds me that I am awake and must move. The morning routine begins. I rinse my eyes and look in the mirror to see what alien life form I resemble with my bed head. Something sparkles in the mirror. I don’t remember adorning myself with glitter, so I look again.

Oh, Lord, it’s a gray hair.

This cannot be. I'm only in my early (very early) thirties. I check my head again and confirm the sad fact. I grab to pluck it out, then remember my mom telling me that her mother said to never pluck a gray hair out because it will return thricefold. That can't be true, so I tempt fate.

Over the next few days, the scenario repeats itself. Look in the mirror. Pluck it out. Claim temporary victory over the aging process. I ask my husband if he notices any gray. He says no. I ask fri…

Last Chance for Free Holiday Short Story

This is the last week to grab my 4.5-star digital holiday short, "A Bibliophile Christmas," for free at Smashwords.

Here's a little bit about this heartwarming tale of friendship and family.

Sarah Anderson and Annie Jacobs have not had the best of years. And now, here come the holidays. Great. Sarah's husband Tom is stuck in Boston after a nor'easter dumps a foot of snow on the day he is scheduled to leave for home. And Annie is working hard at picking up the pieces of her life after a painful divorce.

But, maybe with a little help from their friends, Christmas won't be a total wash after all.

After July 31, it goes back to its regular price of $1.99.

Click here to order.

Weird Al Yankovic's Back and He's Got Something for Us Word Nerds


Two of my Facebook friends posted this today. I loved it so much, I thought it needed to be shared. So, without further ado, may I present "Word Crimes," by Weird Al Yankovic.

What's on Your List?


Hello, dear readers.

Summertime and the reading is easy. Here are some pieces on my to-read list for the season.

The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson

I absolutely loved Lawrenson's last book, The Lantern, and am really looking forward these three novellas that combine mystery, history, romance, and World War II. Here's one of the reviews.

The Sea Garden weaves a double spell: Lawrenson steeps her story of the invisible heroes of the French Resistance crossing borders-and here, crossing time-deep in the eerie beauty of the South of France. The result is a marvelous strange fruit: think Graham Greene with a dash of Poe.” (Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress)

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Longbourn is billed as Pride and Prejudice'sUpstairs, Downstairs.

Reel me in, right? It's a refreshing take on Miss Austen's classic, which focuses on the servants, rather than the Bennet family. Can't wait!

“A triumph: a splendid tribute to Austen’s original…

Six Great Summer Reads All in One Place


I was very happy to see my second novel, Until My Soul Gets It Right, appear in this lovely magazine along with five other best-selling women authors. Who knows? You just might find your next summer reading book inside. Click here to check it out.

Printers Row Lit Fest Sale 2014


Celebrate Literature No Matter Where You Live

You probably know that I'm going to be signing books at Chicago's Printers Row Lit Fest tomorrow from 10 AM to 2 PM, in the Chicago Writers' Association Tent. I'm pretty excited. So excited, in fact, that I wanted to share it.

I know you can't all be in Chicago with me that day, so I've decided to pass along the festival savings to everyone.

For one week, JUNE 7-14, A WHISPER TO A SCREAM and UNTIL MY SOUL GETS IT RIGHT will both be ON SALE for Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Each will be just 99¢, down from the regular price of $5.99.

Just click on the links below anytime between June 7-14 to take advantage of the savings.

Please tell your friends. Thanks much!

Amazon (Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Smashwords (E-book)
Coupon Code: YU77N

Amazon (Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Nook only)

Smashwords (E-book)
Coupon Code: WB25S

A Bibliophile's Guide to Chicagoland


My series, The Bibliophiles, takes place mostly in the Chicago suburbs, but in my latest book, Until My Soul Gets It Right (The Bibliophiles: Book Two), Catherine Elbert decides she needs to escape her family’s Wisconsin farm for some greener pastures, farm pun intended. ((Groan.)) Anyhow, Catherine bounces from coast to coast in search of her true self, traveling from Portland, Maine clear across the continent to San Diego, California. Eventually, she ends up in Chicagoland, my home turf.

Chicago is a great literary city with a reputation for gritty, social realism both in its fiction as well as its poetry. Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, a tale of what can happen when a country girl loses herself in the big city is set here, as well as James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan, which focuses on the lives of Irish-Americans during the Great Depression. Upton Sinclair’s famous The Jungle portrays life working in Chicago’s early meat-packing plants. A part of the…

The Largest Lit Event in the Midwest

JUNE 7 and 8

Join me at the Printers Row Lit Fest on Saturday, June 7. I'll be there from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. signing books in the Chicago Writers' Association Tent. Exhibitors will include bookstores, publishers, performance groups, and authors of all sorts. J. Courtney Sullivan will be there, along with Colson Whitehead, Libby Fischer Hellmann, and Elizabeth Berg. Celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich and Bizarre Foods guy Andrew Zimmern are also scheduled to attend. James Patterson will receive the Chicago Tribune Young Adult Literary Award for his work funding college scholarships to pay for books and for hosting, a website that encourages children to become life-long readers.

Hope to see you there!

Happy 450th Birthday, William Shakespeare


Hello, dear readers.

I'm taking time out from Bibliophiles 3 to pay tribute to the great William Shakespeare today on this, the 450th anniversary of his birth, and, coincidentally, the 398th anniversary of his death as well. But, let's concentrate on the positive. Happy Birthday, Master Shakespeare!

The first time I encountered the Bard was in first grade. Finished with all of my required reading, my teacher sent me to the library to find something useful to do. There I watched a filmstrip, Shakespeare for Children: A Midsummer Night's Dream. Magical, the language danced in my ears and ignited my soul.

Many years later, my family and I were fortunate to see As You Like It, a delightful comedy set in the woods of Arden,performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. Witnessing Forbes Masson's "Jaques" deliver the famous "Seven Ages of Man" speech sitting not far from Shakespeare's house or the pla…



I set up a pretty ambitious 2014 writing and production schedule earlier this year. It's crunch time for my work-in-progress, which is not a Bibliophiles book, but rather a romance that I have been working on since the summer. I'm very excited about this new story. It's filled with wonderful characters in an entirely different genre for me. It's almost done. I just need to tweak a couple of things and wrap up the plot in a spectacular fashion.

Last week, I also revisited the third book in the Bibliophiles series after shelving it for awhile to work on the romance novel. I'm delighted to report that it is moving along really well and that our dear Thaddeus and Spring will have some wonderful stories to tell you when it's finished. I'm shooting for a Fall 2014 release.
I'm working on these two in tandem, as well as planning a Bibliophile short story with a vacation theme for Catherine and Will from Until My Soul Gets It Right

Grammar Fun


It's Monday. The kids are home from school. It's snowing again in Chicagoland, and I know the east coast is digging out yet again from another storm. The northwest United States, along with all of Great Britain and Wales, have received, what, 56,000 inches of rain over the past month?

Everyone could use a little chuckle.

I've been in editing mode, so here are some of my favorite grammar jokes.

Have a good week, Bibliophiles.

I Don't (HEART) Valentine's Day


My youngest son called me “The Killer of Love” the other day.

I was shocked. All I had said was that I hate Valentine’s Day decorations and that when I see a house with a frilly heart-shaped wreath on its door, my first instinct is to want to blow it up with a bazooka.

Is that so wrong?

It’s true. I do have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. Some years have been great with flowers and fancy dinners, while others, no so much.

It’s not that I hate the concept of Valentine’s Day. We all could use a little more love in our lives and a special time to celebrate it is a nice thought. I think what I really dislike are the trappings.

First off, why so much pink? Used to be, Valentine’s Day was red and white. Good, solid colors. With the age of everything for females having to be pink, the infernal color commandeered the holiday and drove it off a cliff.

Second, although I am female, I feel sorry for men at this time of year. There’s so much pressure, …