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Writer Wednesday Welcomes Back: Karen Wojcik Berner!

I’m excited to welcome back a lovely lady author today. She comes to us as part of her blog tour with the fabulous Wow! Women on Writing.  Karen is a bibliophile with a message. And while she’s here to celebrate the release of her new title, Until My Soul Gets It Right, she has graciously offered up this fun post on a place she knows and loves! Please welcome Karen!

One lucky commenter gets a copy of Karen’s new release, so don’t be shy! Crop a note and say “Hi!”

A Bibliophile’s Guide to Chicagoland

Thanks so much for having me here today, Julie.

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 old Union Stock Yard Gate is still standing today on Exchange Avenue and Peoria Street.

More recently, Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time-Travelers Wife” takes place in Chicago, along with the non-fictional “Devil in the White City,” by Erik Larson. Hard-boiled detective V.I. Warshawski lives here, as does her creator, Sara Paretsky. “Presumed Innocent” author Scott Turow also calls Chicago home.

Here are some of Chicago’s great literary sites.

Carl Sandburg House, 4646 N. Hermitage Avenue, Chicago. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Sandburg (1878-1967) is best known for the famous “Chicago” poem in which he describes “The City of the Big Shoulders.” Sandburg lived here when he wrote for “The Chicago Daily News.” He is also penned a six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln, the last of which earned him the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1940.

Nelson Algren House, 1958 West Evergreen Street, Chicago. Algren (1909-1981) often wrote about the American Dream gone awry while he lived on the third floor of this building. Winner of three O. Henry Awards, both the International Writers Guild PEN and Chicago Tribune have fiction contests named after Algren. He won the National Book Award for his 1949 novel, “The Man with the Golden Arm.”

The University of Chicago, Hyde Park, on Chicago’s south side. Among its many illustrious alumni are Saul Bellow, author of “Adventures of Augie March,” and Studs Terkel, known for his personal stories of average people in “Working” and “Division Street: America.”

The Newberry Library, 60 West Walton Street, Chicago. Chicago’s independent research library, it houses a collection of rare books, manuscripts, music and maps spanning six centuries, including letters from President John Adams and his family and manuscripts from Nelson Algren, Sara Paretsky and Ben Hecht.

Gwendolyn Brooks Home, 4334 S. Champion, Chicago. The first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize, Brooks is best known for her “Selected Poems” and “A Street in Bronzeville,” as well as many essays and reviews. She was Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968 and taught at many local colleges.

Ernest Hemingway House and Museum, 200 N. Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois. Out in the near-western suburbs stands the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel Prize-winning author of “A Farewell to Arms,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and “The Sun Also Rises.” Hemingway spent his first twenty years in Oak Park and attended Oak Park-River Forest High School.

Which Chicago literary site would you be most interested in visiting?

 

Until My Soul Gets It Right by: Karen Wojcik Berner

The ladies (and man) of the Bibliophiles Book Club are back! This time the spotlight is on Catherine. Catherine Elbert has never been good at making decisions, whether it was choosing an ice cream flavor as a child or figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up. The only thing Catherine knew for sure was there had to be more to her life than being stuck on her family’s farm.

So Catherine became enamored with the complete opposite of the flat farmlands of Burkesville, Wisconsin – the ocean, lobsters, and rugged coast of Portland, Oregon. Despite her parents’ threat to disown her and her brothers’ bets on how many days until she comes home Catherine heads for Peaks Island, off the coast of Portland.

She is finally free. Or so she thought. What Catherine forgot was that you can’t run away from yourself!

About the Author:

Karen Wojcik Berner lives a provincial life tucked away with her family in the Chicago suburbs. If it was good enough for Jane Austen, right? However, dear Miss Austen had the good fortune of being born amid the glorious English countryside, something Karen unabashedly covets, so much so that she majored in English and communications at Dominican University. Like the magnificent Miss Austen, Karen could not help but write about the Society that surrounds her.

A booklover since she could hold one in her chubby little toddler hands, Karen wanted to announce to the world just how much she loves the written word. She considered getting a bibliophile tattoo but instead decided to write about the lives of the members of a suburban Classics Book Club. The series is called, of course, The Bibliophiles. When she isn’t reading, writing, or spending her
time wishing she was Jane Austen, Karen spends her time can be found sipping tea or wine, whichever is more appropriate that day, and watching Tim Burton movies or “Chopped,” her favorite foodie TV show.

Find Karen on the Web:

Karen Berner’s website:

http://www.karenberner.com/index.html

 

Inspired by Scent

I discovered years ago how powerful my sense of scent is. Not like I have a bionic, drug-dog-sniffing nose, but how much scents impact me. I learned in college the smell of a burger can make a girl drool if she’s survived on Ramen Noodles for three months. A physical reaction to smell. I was all psych major-Julie and impressed with this new realization. Once I noticed it, I couldn’t stop noticing it. Now it’s my thing. For years I’ve entertained myself by taking mental notes of my reaction to smells – not bad ones. Gross. Good ones. Happy ones. Fun ones!

Scent for me is like hearing a song that instantly transports me to another time. A ninth grade dance. Spring break in Cancun. A first kiss. Wedding vows. Seeing my toddlers dance….*inhales deeply* Ahhhhhh….

I burn candles all year around because they make me happy. I always pick the ones that smell like something baking because they make me calm. Smelling apple pie or salted caramel makes me feel like I’m wrapped in a warm blanket and everything is going to be okay. My mom baked a lot. I assume this is why. I can’t be certain, but I keep them going all the time because I love it.

I try to incorporate scents into writing as often as possible for this reason. Scents take us into a scene. I find myself looking for stories where I can add scent in a way that increases the story’s impact. I love the smell of new pencils, but not everyone relates to that, so I angle for those things that resonate widely. Barbecues. Fireworks. Wildflowers. Donuts!

This weekend my husband and I took our three kids to the county fair. Before we parked the car, I could smell it. It smelled like childhood and happiness. Associations I made with funnel cakes and vinegar fries over the course of decades exploded in my mind. My kids were mesmerized. The lights and music and spinning rides, laughing families, hundreds of animals, game guys taunting them to come try to win. The whole spectacle is a touch overwhelming, but the scents keep you rooted. How can anything be bad when it smells like an funnel cake? My preschooler marveled over a corndog on a stick for half an hour. I only buy the minis at home. It was on a STICK! LOL My 6 & 9 year olds devoured my elephant ear right off the flimsy paper plate before I could finish smelling it. We drank vats of fresh squeezed lemonade and watched 4Hers race horses and show pigs.

I decided again I’m blessed and lucky, and given the opportunity to move anywhere in the world, I’d stay right here. Rural Ohio is wonderful, safe, cozy, real. Added bonus: I love what it smells like :)

Outside the Norm. Wait. There’s a Norm?

Have you ever tried absolutely EVERYTHING to get something accomplished only to be denied. Again.?

This is my life. I have three kids and two hands. The odd are N-ever in my favor.

No matter. I’m the determined sort, and I believe there is a way if there is a will and I have will in spades. So, I often step back, reevaluate and do some grunting circa Tim Taylor. It’s not pretty. But, here’s the thing….if you want something bad enough, you keep going for it. I want to lose ten pounds. I never do, but I also keep trying (failing) and then trying some more. I want to be an awesome mom who my kids are proud of and want to be around. This part’s kind of easy. They still like me. They’re young. Give ‘em time. I also want to be a parent with impact. This one I don’t do so well. I’m consistent. So are they. I lecture. Lead by example. Punish when needed. They go straight back to chasing one another with a metal Shepard’s hook in front of the neighbors.

I guess there are things I can’t control. All I can hope is to plant seeds in my kids that will bear fruit one day, and when it does, they won’t throw it at people. As for writing? I just keep entertaining myself. If my story makes someone else smile, then its a double win. But, I can’t predict the next big thing any sooner than I can the lottery numbers or if today’s a day my kids will eat yogurt. I just keep doing the best I can at whatever I’m doing. Best advice my grandpa ever gave me? (He didn’t speak tons of English…this is what I remember) “Tomorrow’s a better day.”

So true.

Tomorrow is always a better day :) Keep going.

Love Blossoms Blog Tour Visits Aubrie Dionne!

Today I’m traveling. LOL I’ve taken my show on the road and I’m blogging for my fellow Blue Ridge Literary Agency author, Aubrie Dionne at Flutey Words . I’m honored to be featured on Aubrie’s blog. She’s absolutely amazing as both an author and a friend.

Stop by and see me. All commenters will be entered to win a copy of Love Blossoms!

Love Blossoms by Me! Julie Anne Lindsey

Jillian thought she had everything she needed until Jackson walked through her door…

There’s a wedding coming to Honey Creek and the whole town’s preparing for the party. When Jillian Parker agreed to host a few groomsmen at her inn, she had no idea what she was getting into. One of those groomsmen is Jackson Tate, and he’s making her concentration completely impossible. He’s funny, fascinating, frustrating, and leaving in a week. Jillian does not have time for that level of distraction. With Jackson nearby, events to coordinate, a bride to please, and an ex-fiancé to dodge, her peaceful life’s getting crazy fast. With any luck, she’ll survive the week and put the whole thing behind her as soon as possible.

…But not if Jackson has anything to say about it.

If you’re in the mood for a sweet romantic read with a very happy ending, I hope you’ll visit Honey Creek. The sun is setting, bullfrogs are croaking and the crickets are singing, “Come on.” Sweet tea or hot cider. Fresh summer strawberries or crisp fall apples. You’ll find it there. And taking a trip to Honey Creek is as easy as Amazon : ) I hope to see you there!

 

 

Love Blossoms Blog Tour Visits Honey Creek!

Today I’m traveling. LOL I’ve taken my show on the road and I’m blogging for Honey Creek, OH, also known as the Honey Creek Books Blog found here –> Honey Creek, OH. The other Honey Creek authors and I keep up this blog, chatting about all things related to the delightful town, the crazy authors and life in general.  I’m thrilled to be a part of this amazing new imprint. I’m also excited to celebrate my second novella in the Seeds of Love series with a girl who loves Honey Creek as much as I do!

Stop by and see me. All commenters will be entered to win a copy of Love Blossoms!

Love Blossoms by Me! Julie Anne Lindsey

Jillian thought she had everything she needed until Jackson walked through her door…

There’s a wedding coming to Honey Creek and the whole town’s preparing for the party. When Jillian Parker agreed to host a few groomsmen at her inn, she had no idea what she was getting into. One of those groomsmen is Jackson Tate, and he’s making her concentration completely impossible. He’s funny, fascinating, frustrating, and leaving in a week. Jillian does not have time for that level of distraction. With Jackson nearby, events to coordinate, a bride to please, and an ex-fiancé to dodge, her peaceful life’s getting crazy fast. With any luck, she’ll survive the week and put the whole thing behind her as soon as possible.

…But not if Jackson has anything to say about it.

If you’re in the mood for a sweet romantic read with a very happy ending, I hope you’ll visit Honey Creek. The sun is setting, bullfrogs are croaking and the crickets are singing, “Come on.” Sweet tea or hot cider. Fresh summer strawberries or crisp fall apples. You’ll find it there. And taking a trip to Honey Creek is as easy as Amazon : ) I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

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