Sunday, October 31, 2010


TOMORROW is the day - the launch of my Barbara Marr short story collection, The Chronicles of Marr-nia.

In the spirit of fun and to help get the word out, I'm holding a three day contest and you can play EACH day.

The Grand Prize? A $25.00 Amazon Gift Card and a Take the Monkeys and Run t-shirt
Two runners up will each win a Take the Monkeys and Run t-shirt

OH - and here's a fun thing . . . IF Marr-nia hits the top 50 in any of it's categories from Nov 1 - Nov 5, the Amazon Gift Card becomes $50.00 instead of $25.00.

Karen, Karen, HOW do we play?

There are three ways to play: 1) tweet about the launch with a link to this post 2) Mention the launch date in your FB status with a link to this post 3) Post a brief (or long if you like!) blurb about it on your blog with a link to this post


Email me at to let me what you did, and I will keep track of your entries on a spreadsheet.

Winners will be announced Sunday, November 7th.

Oh, and would you like to know what that t-shirt looks like? Here's the front:

And the back says, "Don't mess with Barbara Marr. She's got a gun and she doesn't know how to use it."

How's that for fun?

Ready to play?

Okay . . . . GO!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Video Friday!

Today's book video: Hoodoo Money, by Sharon Pennington. You'll want to take a minute and watch this one - it sells the book well!

Learn more about Sharon Pennington and her other books at Sharon Pennington Writes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Welcome to the Moose!

There's a new blog on the scene and I'm one of the contributors!

It's called A Moose Walked Into a Bar - Sit-down Comedy.

Four funny lady authors, Markee Anderson, LC Evans, Barbara Silkstone, and myself, have collaborated to bring laugh-out-loud fun to blog readers and we'd LOVE you to stop by! Our first post went up yesterday.

Need a break from the ho-hum? Tired of political attack ads? Need a chuckle to scare away the blues? Come visit us at A Moose Walked Into a Bar TODAY!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Giveaway Wednesday: Gemini Rising by Louann Carroll

If this weren't my blog, I'd be entering this one!!!

Okay, so it's been two weeks without a giveaway, and I apologize for that, but they're baaaack! And this week's giveaway is a signed copy of Louann Carroll's Gemini Rising (excerpt posted Monday - a MUST READ!).


So glad you asked.

Easy peasy.

Leave a comment to this post saying you'd like to be entered to win. Leaving an email address will ensure that you will be contacted if you are the lucky winner, WHICH WILL BE ANNOUNCED NEXT Wednesday.

So start leaving those comments!!! :-)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Excerpt: Gemini Rising by Louann Carroll

Today, I am very excited to be featuring an excerpt from Louann Carroll's Gemini Rising.  Rather than bore you with my own introduction I will let Louann tell us in her own words about her novel and how she was inspired. . . .

Gemini Rising rose like a phoenix from a dream I had one night. A storm hit our area with more than fifty lightening strikes. Cuddled up on the couch, I was mesmerized by the science channel as they discussed the possibility of new planets and comets. Lost in my thoughts, I overindulged in chocolate chip cookies and chocolate-chocolate chip ice cream. With a full belly, my imagination on fire, I hit the sheets and fell promptly asleep.

I haven’t any idea how long it took, but soon I was immersed in a young woman’s life that had absolutely nothing to do with my own. Almost immediately, I fell in love with her. She was a lot like me, strong, forceful, scared, and anxious. I guess she’s a lot like all of us.

Her world was the color red, the sky, the dirt, and sometimes the water. Every now and again a wind would rise, blowing away dust revealing blue skies much like our own. Storms crackled from the heights of Thunder Mountain, sending rocks and rivers cascading onto the valley floor, much like what was happening outside my own bedroom window.

Faced with a coming disaster of epic proportions, Kate tries to deny what’s happening, but soon she must accept her new reality, as a comet is set to turn Earth on its axis. Scary right? However, inside this woman, although I felt fear, I also recognized her ability to survive no matter the circumstances. She was stronger than she thought, smarter and quicker than she gave herself credit for.

The love she had for her son was incontrovertible—nurturing yet loving. She kept her marriage together more for him than for herself. Suddenly, a man appears in her life, forcing her to face the fact that her marriage is over, and this man, the one with the strange appeal, is the one she has waited for all her life.


Taking the back road Jason marked off on the Blackberry 3, Kate followed the winding graveled path upward onto the plateau until she arrived at the site. Her husband, head bent in conversation, didn't hear her arrival amongst the din of the equipment. A man, about thirty, listened in rapt attention to whatever Jason had to say.

Her heart hitched as she stared at the stranger’s long lean back rippling with muscle beneath a tight dirt-stained white T-shirt. Blue jeans hugged slim hips and as her eyes slipped toward his face, they traced the angular lines of Native American cheekbones. His hair fell forward over half-lidded eyes, and his dimple answered to a quick infectious smile. The stranger leaned over the hood of a site jeep, using his thick muscled arms for support while he talked to her husband. Loath to disturb them, she settled into her seat and watched surreptitiously, letting the warm desert wind flow over her arms.

“Hey, Kate!” Jason yelled as he looked up and saw the car. He ran over and helped her out of the Lexus. “I'm glad you came.” He waved at the man he had been talking to. “Noah! Come and meet my wife!”

Noah smiled as he walked toward her. His eyes flashed, shining with an incredible glow. Forced backward by the heat of his stare, she almost stumbled on a stone. She bumped into Jason and steadied herself. His eyes! They're so green! Like the ocean, like an emerald, like…

“Hi. It’s nice to meet you.” Noah put out his hand.

Her heart fluttered. Black as night, his hair fell forward onto a sculpted face framing wide-open green eyes fringed in dark heavy lashes. High cheekbones set off a full-lipped smile while chiseled lines of sinew cascaded down a strong muscular neck. While shorter than Jason, he gave the illusion of being taller. Though not particularly handsome, there was something compelling about the way he stared at her. A shock of absolute delight rippled up her arm at the touch of his flesh. She shook his hand then let go.

“Nice to meet you too.” Shaken by the mysterious encounter she stepped closer to her husband. Her heart danced in her chest and excitement tickled her loins as she looked away. Canoqicakte, she thought. Forest hunter. The Hopi name fit him perfectly.

Jason smiled, his face tan with the Arizona sun. “What do you think of the site?”

She nibbled her lip, attempting to create a mental distraction then cleared her throat, trying to buy time. Determined to disguise her obvious overreaction, her hands trembled with the effort. She studied the site. Cement barrels rolled their precious contents in perpetual motion, mixing the earth into a substance resembling the prehistoric mixture. “What are you doing?”

“We're using the mortar to shore up the clay plates.”

“But—” She struggled to keep her eyes from drifting toward the stranger leaning against the Lexus. “Won't you contaminate the original structure?”

“We haven’t any choice. As you can see, the front wall and roof is already lost to the desert.”

She hated the ever-creeping sand that devoured the remains of ancient cultures. The loss saddened her.

“Come with me.” He tugged her sleeve and glanced over his shoulder at Noah. “We’ll be right back.”

As Jason strode off, she hurried after him. Noah was the man he had mentioned this morning at breakfast, the one interested in UFOs. Her husband stopped and jostled her arm, pointing. She looked up and gasped. Standing like a misplaced barbecue in a dry and dusty desert, the habitat grew out of the side of the cliff like a man-made mountain. Four stories high, it reached into the turquoise sky, baring its soul to the elements.

Her eyes widened. “You said it was a pit house.”

Jason frowned. “I told you this morning we found an additional site. This is the newer dig. The tall house was buried behind a landslide. We’ve spent the last three weeks digging it out.”

Brushing the hair from her face, she walked the foot-worn path into the towering red sandstone structure. She huffed her way in through a crude opening then stopped, taking a moment to peer out a window overlooking the Painted Desert.

A breeze nudged her shoulder. Interspersed between the complex, small holes were carved just like ventilation ducts. The openings allowed the air to move, cooling the room. One of at least fifty rooms, this particular habitat was no larger than fifteen feet squared and gave off a homey feel. The shadowed light hugged her and she imagined a family clustered together, talking, living, and dying, all in harmony with the land that gave them shelter and the earth that gave them food. 

My dreams tend to be graphic, colorful, and realistic. They don’t always turn into books, but who knows, if I live long enough, perhaps they will. Eh, I have to remember to leave more time for chocolate.

Thank you for letting me blog today. To read more about Gemini Rising and its sequel visit Louann Carroll . To send an email, I am available at

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Good morning on the sunny Sunday (where I am anyway!) -

I don't usually blog on Sundays, but I thought I'd throw a post out there asking for a favor from anyone who has a minute or two.

My book video for Take the Monkeys and Run is currently in a contest over at You Gotta Read Videos.  Voting ends Midnight on October 26th so I'm asking people to pop on over and vote for #5 TAKE THE MONKEYS AND RUN.

I'm posting it here, for those of you who haven't seen it already - I hope you like it - but you can also view it and other great videos right on the site: You Gotta Read Videos.

And THANK YOU in advance!


And as always,
Thank you for following Fiction for Dessert!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I promised I would post this on Thursday, so I apologize PROFUSELY for my tardiness.  I got tied up in preparing my short story manuscript for upload to the Kindle store.  My bad!  :-(

So, while I'm a wee bit late, it's better than never, I always say.


From a random drawing - the following commenter is the winner . . .


(YAY! Hurrah!)

So, Jaxbee, contact me at or Barbara Silkstone directly if you prefer.  We'll set you up with your winning prize(s).

This was such a fun contest.  I will have to hold a similar one soon.

And if you'd like your own copy of Barbara's book, The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland it is available on Kindle:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Video Friday!

I viewed this book trailer for the first time last week and LOVED it!  It did what a book trailer should do: made me want to know more about the book.  What do you think?

To learn more about Imogen Rose and her novels, check out her website Imogen Rose.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Excerpt: The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland

Happy Monday Readers!


This week, I'm excited to be bringing you an excerpt from the very hilarious The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland Age 42 and Three Quarters by Barbara Silkstone.

A murder by beheading sends Alice Harte, reluctant real estate broker for thugs, running into the arms of Nigel Channing, a charming British con man.

This urban fantasy is set in Miami and London. Fans of Stephanie Plum will cheer for Alice as she watches her back in attempting to keep her head, while being stalked by Nigel's daft ex-wife and inept, but dangerous mobsters. Alice's world is filled with memorable characters strangely reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. She's guided through her dangerous adventure by her own Cheshire Cat.

Nigel, a chubby John Cleese with serious dress-code problems, whisks Alice to England. Alice sees him as her White Rabbit rescuer. The plot trips along at a cracking pace with Alice flinging zingers like a drive-by shooter.

After Alice discovers a gangster's freshly beheaded body in his Miami mansion, she launches a desperate self-defense in a kangaroo court. The main witness against her is Algy Green, a bumbling cockney swindler who super-glues his bat wing ears to his head and commits perjury for theme park tickets. But in the middle of the trial a small piece of evidence opens her eyes.

So hold onto your hats, and enjoy this first chapter from The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three Quarters:

Curious how our lives can take on the shadings of a fairy tale, the line between reality and fantasy becoming fuzzy.

New Year’s Eve morning, fourteen hours to a fresh start. I parked my Jeep at the far end of the mall lot and speed walked toward Macy's for a quick stop at the LancĂ´me counter to get my favorite wrinkle-poofer. The gentle Miami winter sun kissed my face.

A striped cat crossed in front of me, stopped and grinned. A full set of human teeth. I closed my eyes and shook my head. When I opened them, he was gone.

I heard the low idle of a car driving slowly behind me and looked over my shoulder. A dark limo with a tinted windshield was following me. Instinct kicked in and I broke into a trot. The limo moved forward. I had reason for concern. Two women had been murdered in separate incidents in that very parking lot the past year.

Halfway to Macy’s and still not sure if I was being followed; I zipped through the line of cars, stepped over the grass median, into the next lane, and ran.

The limo looped around. I fumbled in the side pocket of my bag and freed my cell phone, punching in 9 and 1. The phone slipped from my sweaty hand, hit my shoe and slid under an SUV. Screw it. Leaping over the bushy islands that stood between me and safety, I fell flat on my face, hitting my cheek against the turf. I pulled a clump of my red-blond hair away from my eyes.

“Ms. Harte.”

I looked up at a man’s face in the window of the limo. He had a droopy, walrus-like mustache.

“Ms. Harte, we'd like to talk to you.”

“Call my office.” I threw him a pissy look as I scrambled to stand.

“It's about Leslie Archer.”

“Who?” I played dumb.

Before I could run again, two men stepped out of the car and grabbed me. Twins, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee dressed in dark clothes; both had noses that twisted to the right beneath scarred brows. They lifted me into the car by my elbows.

So this is how it ends. I flashed on the headlines – Alice Harte, Miami Real Estate Broker, 42 and Three-Quarters, Found Murdered at Biscayne Mall.

A stocky guy sat shotgun. He had slicked back hair, a hard-set jaw, bull-neck and sunglasses perched on large ears. One Tweedle took the driver’s seat and the other sat directly across from me in the rear-facing back seat. Next to me was the man with the walrus mustache, a portly guy with prominent front teeth, a derby and pince-nez glasses. He said, “Ms. Harte, I’m an attorney. My name is Walter Lewis. I represent Marc Hare.”

My heart rolled over. I knew the Hare name.

“We’re going after your employer, Leslie Archer, for fraud and racketeering, civil RICO. You’ll be testifying against him.”

“Look, whoever you are, I know nothing about Leslie Archer’s business. I just work for him. I've been trying to quit. He won't let me go. I'm no good to you.”

“Exactly why you are good to us – you're part of his inner circle. We want everything you can dig up on him. You will take the stand against Archer.” He poked his fat finger in my face.
I reached up and smacked his hand, hard. The backseat Tweedle grabbed my wrist and bent it. I yelped in pain.

The thick-necked man in the front passenger seat looked at me through his sunglasses. “Enough bullshit. You know the name Jug Hare?”

Jug Hare had been a small time contractor with a wife and five kids. He was found beheaded days after he filed suit against Leslie Archer.

“Jug was my baby brother. I’m Marc Hare. I’m sure you’re afraid of Archer, but he’s the least of your worries.”

Leslie Archer scared me in many ways. But who was Sunglasses? Why should I be afraid of him? He talked lawsuit, but he looked and acted like a thug. I’d met his kind before. I narrowed my eyes and said, I’m not going into court again, not for you, not for anyone.

I felt like I had stepped into a gangster film. All I wanted was face cream, now I'm some sort of witness against Leslie for a guy who acts like he might be even more dangerous.

My gut churned. “Leslie has won every lawsuit thrown at him. What happens when you run out of money and can’t keep your suit? Where does that leave me? He’ll kill me.”

Sunglasses answered not trying to conceal his venom, “I’m taking the bastard down, one way or the other. And if you had a hand in my brother's death, you’re going with him.”

My gut churned harder. For months I'd feared being accused of participating in Leslie's slimy and possibly illegal shenanigans. I looked at Marc Hare. Leslie was dead meat and I might be the side dish.

“You’re testifying,” Sunglasses said in a bone-chilling hiss.

I wanted out of that car. “When is this going to happen? I need to get away from him before it does.”

“You don't get it,” Walrus Mustache said. “You're going to continue working for Archer and keep your eyes open until your deposition.”

My stomach was like a washer on spin cycle. “Deposition?”

“It’s a proceeding where my partner and I and Archer’s attorneys question you about your testimony.

I wanted to barf on his shoes. Suddenly wrinkle-poofer was the least important thing on my list of things to do.

Sunglasses said, “You won't be hearing from us but we’ll be hearing from you. And find out everything you can about a company called Red Queen, Ltd.”

A thorn lodged in my throat. “You want me to spy for you?”

Sunglasses’ mouth curled up in the corners, but it was far from a smile. “It would be to your advantage to play ball with us. If you don't...” he slid his finger across his throat. “Get out.”

I stepped from the black car onto the surface of a marshmallow. My legs buckled. I leaned on the nearest vehicle and set off its alarm.

“You’ll need this.” One of the Tweedles handed me my cell phone. I took it with shaky hands.

Going to the office was out of the question. No one would miss me on New Year’s Eve day. I drove back to my house in Westminster Lakes, a gated community just outside Miami.

My garage door came down with a reassuring thud. It would be easier to think clearly within my own walls. And I had a lot to think about - Sunglasses, Leslie… and what the hell was RICO?
I walked into the kitchen, threw my bag on the counter and grabbed a bottled water from the fridge. My cat Gem and I share a large contemporary Florida house on a tiny pristine lake. It’s an island of security in a crazy world.

What did I know about RICO? In the back of my mind sat the slippery eel of a thought I had heard that word attached to Leslie before today. I work for Leslie Archer, the worst human being on the face of the earth. He develops upscale resorts; I brokered the luxury apartment buildings that sit on the land he owns, mostly to pension funds and investment groups. In his fifty-three years, Leslie has managed to insinuate himself into the top slot on some impressive enemy lists.
At my computer, I typed RICO in the search bar and like a slot machine, the tumblers spun. Up came a definition that fit Leslie like his spray-on tan: Racketeering. If Hare won under civil RICO, he would be able to get all Leslie's money, homes, and jets. Leslie was all about possessions. This was going to get ugly.

I was mouse-trapped. Leslie wouldn't let me out of my employment agreement with Archer Resorts. And now I was supposed to be an undercover snoop for some thug.


Barbara Silkstone is the author of The Adventures of a Love Investigator, 527 Naked Men and One Woman - a humorous nonfiction account of her odyssey into the hearts and minds of over 500 men. She lives in South Florida where she teaches a class on the opposite sex called "Men, A Mystery" Her writing has been described as perfectly paced and pitched - shades of Stephanie Plum and Carl Hiaasen without seeming remotely derivative. Fast moving action that shoots from the hip with bullet-proof characterization. She is currently working on Wendy & the Lost Boys - a comedy thriller loosely based on Peter Pan. Her column, Barb’s Wire is a monthly feature of the international online publication,Chicklit

Check out Barbara's blog at Barb's Wire - eBooks and More.

CONTEST: WIN A FREE E-BOOK AND BECOME A CHARACTER IN BARBARA'S NEXT BOOK, Wendy & the Lost Boys! How fun is that? How do you enter? Just leave a comment to this post. I'll announce the winner on Thursday, so be sure to check back (or if you want to be notified ASAP by email, leave an email address).

What's that prize again? A FREE E-BOOK AND BECOME A CHARACTER IN BARBARA'S NEXT BOOK. Sorry, I just had to repeat it, because it's so fun. :-)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why I LOVE Kindle!

Many readers out there may not understand how DIFFICULT it is to break into the big bad world of publishing. Well, let me enlighten you:

It's a LONG, HARD road of writing (and re-writing and re-re-writing) query letters just trying to find an agent, because nowadays, a writer needs an agent to do their bidding with the big guys (major publishers). So really, the first step is WRITE A WINNING QUERY LETTER. This alone (the learning process) is very time consuming. There are whole books, courses and conferences dedicated entirely just to the process of writing THE PERFECT QUERY LETTER. (Ugh)

Then the writer starts sending out those query letters. Of course, there are easily ten million writers out there querying (feels more like begging) agents. Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating the number of writers out there, but only a wee bit, and I guarantee you, there aren't ten million agents, so odds are stacked against the writer, TRUST ME. Been there. DONE that.

So a writer can spend YEARS just trying to find an agent (not a publisher yet, keep in mind - just an agent). Now, I'm not one of those lucky ones to find an agent willing to shop my book. I did that for two years. TWO YEARS. I spent so much time trying to find an agent, that I wasn't writing my second book. I didn't have the time. Not to mention, that after a while, those rejections CAN start to get to you, no matter how many encouraging articles you read about the umpteen NY Bestselling authors that got over 200 rejections before landing that dream agent. Rejection always hurts - even if just a little.

But let's say I DID find an agent after that amount of time. Here's how it goes after that: my agent MAY or MAY NOT find me a publisher. That agent could take months or years just finding Editor Joe Book at Publisher XYZ willing to publish my little masterpiece. THEN, Publisher XYZ could take two years printing my book and getting my promised modest advance to my editor who takes 15% off the top, then gives me the rest. And I've lost control of my book. Publisher XYZ calls the shots now. I don't like not having control. I'm a CONTROL FREAK. I'm not a happy camper. And how about my sales? I don't get any sort of daily accounting of my sales figures. I could go for months not knowing how my book (my baby) is doing out there in Bookstore Land. One a day? A hundred a day?

Now REMEMBER - I never got the agent, so never got the publisher, so my knowledge of the above is based on experiences related to me through those writers WHO HAVE been so lucky.

But I have to say, I feel lucky for a whole different reason, and now I'm getting to the meat of my story: Why I LOVE Kindle!

One day, after getting a rejection I really wasn't expecting - I really thought this small publisher was going to take me on - I sat in my room, drying my eyes, deciding my future with this book. Do I quit? Do I keep taking it in the gut like this? I've never been a quitter, so even though I felt lower than low, the ultimate answer for me was to keep moving forward.

"Karen," I said to myself. "You don't really want an agent OR a publisher. You want readers. You wrote a book for people to read and well . . . no one is reading it."

Hmmm . . . I was right. I needed readers.

Somewhere, way back in the darkest recesses of my mind, I remembered someone saying that they had published their own book on Kindle. I ran to my computer and googled, "Publishing on Kindle."

Angels sang and trumpets blared. I read with excitement. Could it really be this easy? Would Amazon REALLY just let me upload my book at NO COST TO ME and on top of that, let me pick my price? AND make my book available right alongside all other books Amazon sells on Kindle? AND pay me a royalty? AND let me track my sales hourly? Was this all a dream?

Well, it turned out for me - it was a dream come true. On June 17th, 2010, my funny little book, Take the Monkeys and Run, went on sale at the Amazon Kindle store, and four months later, it has sold OVER 4000 copies and collected 34 Amazon Customer Reviews, with an average of 4.5 stars. Those are READERS. And fans. The people I wrote the book for in the first place. And all of that time I spent researching agents and writing and sending query letters? Now that's time spent writing The Chronicles of Marr-nia, Short Stories Starring Barbara Marr (due out soon) as well as the second novel in the Barbara Marr series. SO MUCH MORE FUN let me tell you!

Can anyone do this?


Should anyone do this?

Only those who have put a good deal practice into the craft of writing, have spent time (blood, sweat and tears even) into editing, re-writing, and producing a quality piece of work. Because what readers want is QUALITY. A great story, interesting characters, a compelling read - THIS IS WHAT A READER WANTS. Above and beyond that, they're not going to care WHO published it.

There. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

And that's why I LOVE Kindle! (and Amazon)

How about you?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Video Friday!

I don't know. Maybe it's the monkeys . . .

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Giveaway Wednesday

Good Morning everyone, and welcome to Giveaway Wednesday at Fiction For Dessert!

I was so excited to have so many people enter for Take the Monkeys and Run. In fact, enough people entered, that I'm able to give away 4 copies!

Want to know who won?

Are you sure?

Okay, I guess I'll tell you . . . .

And the winners are . . .

Anita Y
Linda M


If you provided an email address, I will be contacting you. If you DID NOT provide an email address, please email me right away at (type BOOK WINNER in the subject line) and give me your snail mail address so I can get your book to you. :-)

THANK YOU to all who entered!

I'm sad to say there are no giveaways this week - I'm taking a break. But rest assured, stop back next Wednesday, because I have a special that is NOT a book.

Hmmmmm . . . what could it be, Karen???

Guess you'll have to check in next Wednesday and see . . .

Have a great week!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Excerpt: A Whisper to a Scream by Karen Wojcik Berner

Have you ever wanted something so badly it hurt?

Ovulation detectors. Hormone surges. Anxiety-ridden dreams. This is the world in which Annie Jacobs is thrust when she and her husband John receive a diagnosis of unexplained infertility. A 37-year old PR executive, Annie has wanted to be a mother since she first cuddled her Baby Tenderlove at age five. She is dreading another Christmas of relatives asking when they will be hearing the pitter patter of little feet, and Uncle Joe slapping John on the back, telling him to relax and take a cruise. Lots of people get pregnant on vacation, you know.

Across town, stay-at-home mom of two, Sarah Anderson, attempts grocery shopping with a toddler intent on hurling items from the cart at passersby. She notices a box of rice heading straight for a pink-babushkaed head. Leaping across the aisle, Sarah grabs it, saving the woman from certain doom, or at least a minor head injury. Little Alex screams at being thwarted. The unknowing octogenarian shakes her head and admonishes Sarah for not knowing how to keep her child quiet in public.

A Whisper to a Scream is the story of two women on opposite ends of the child-bearing spectrum who come to realize the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. A vivid portrayal of contemporary marriage and its problems, the novel speaks to a longing in all of us, a yearning that might start as a vague notion, but eventually grows into an unbearable, vociferous cry.

I'm so excited to be presenting you with this excerpt today from such a compelling piece of women's fiction.

From A Whisper to a Scream:


John and Annie walked up the steps to the house in which he and his sisters grew up, “Excessive Estrogen Manor.” It was a three-bedroom, two-bath raised ranch, meticulously manicured on the outside. A goose statue sat to the left of the stairs next to a flower pot that always contained some sort of pink flower, except for last fall, when June had to settle for a very light purple mum.

Everyone would be here today. John’s sister, Joy, had married Geoff, who wished his name were spelled “J-e-f-f” like most normal men, but, since he was stuck with it and with all of the associations with the toy store mascot giraffe, Geoff was hell bent on naming his children distinctive, but not goofy, names. His efforts at originality were thwarted, however, when he learned through Joy that there were three Caitlyns and four Sophies in the twins’ Mini-Gym class at the Park District.

John’s other sister, Julie, wed the ass-in-law. John had called him thus almost since their first meeting and, consequently, could never remember his real first name. Annie reminded him it was Ralph each time before they saw Julie. Julie and ass-in-law begot three children: Boston, Madison and Austin, all of whom were named for the cities they were conceived in. Annie wished them no more children, not from any jealousy, but because she could not stand her future niece or nephew to be called Downer’s Grove, their current place of residence.

“Hello, John, darling.” June gave him a kiss on the cheek, then wiped away the bubble-gum-colored lipstick off of his face with her handkerchief. Annie slid in behind John just in case June temporarily lost her mind and tried to kiss her too. Of course, that would be ridiculous. In all their fifteen years of marriage, June never kissed her. Not even the social “welcome to my house” peck on the check most people offered, sometimes even to strangers. The only time Annie and June had physical contact was on Annie’s wedding day, when the photographer forced June to put her arm around Annie for the family photo. To this day, that picture still makes Annie a bit queasy.

“Oh, hi, um, Annie.” June gestured for Annie to come in.

“Hi, June. How are you?”

“Fine, thank you. John, I’ve got to show you my new toy. It’s in the basement.” June took her son by the arm, escorting him downstairs and leaving Annie in the foyer, green bean casserole still in her arms.

The house was unusually quiet. Annie supposed everyone was in the basement. She walked into the kitchen, which was painted a light blue and had mauve hearts on the boarder above the oak cabinets. A huge hen with two fake eggs sat in the middle of the kitchen table. Various other fowl were strewn about. The curtains were blue gingham checks with small pink hearts to echo the boarder.

Annie put her dish into the refrigerator, which was covered with grandchildren photos. The twins smiling on their tricycles. Austin suited up for the Naperville Youth Football League. Boston dressed like a snowball from last year’s Christmas pageant. Madison, red and wrinkly, in her newborn picture. Annie liked the kids. They provided a welcome distraction from their mothers’ insipid conversation. There was one photo she had never noticed before, in the upper left-hand corner of the freezer. Who was that? He looked familiar. Light brown hair. About eight years old. Is that John? Then she paused, trying to guess if any of John’s siblings were also there as children, but all of the other photos were current. That must be the spot June was saving for their child some day.

Annie walked down the hall and descended the basement stairs. The room ran across the entire footprint of the house and was recently remodeled to accommodate entertaining June Jacobs’ grandchildren. It was stuffed with Tinker Toys, Legos, Barbies, Barney, Ping-Pong and pool tables, pint-sized kitchen equipment and a playhouse. There was also a small kitchenette and college-sized fridge stocked with soft drinks and those juices in the funny silver pouches with their own straws. Shelves housed about thirty board games, running the gamut from Candyland for Caitlyn and Sophie to Risk for Austin.

John felt a kinship with Austin, the only boy among the cousins, and made sure to play a video game or toss around a baseball with him every time they saw each other. Annie was certain a trip to Home Depot was next on the list.
As soon as she stepped on the bottom stair, Annie could see June’s new toy – a 50-inch television. A video game unit was hooked up to it, Annie saw, because Austin was playing Super Mario. Mario’s nose was as large as Annie’s head. He reminded her of Peter Luger, her first supervisor at Jones and MacGregor, back when she was an intern. He looked almost exactly like Mario, complete with enormous nose and goofy little black mustache. Luger had constantly harped at Annie to find new, fresh angles for their clients. He was convinced that since she was young, Annie would be able to plug him into the youth market.

After a particularly long meeting with Peter harping on the aforementioned point, Annie snapped. She made an eight-by-ten copy of a Super Mario advertisement from the newspaper. She whited out the copy and replaced it with “Please replace my pacemaker wiring with plugs into the youth market.” Annie received applause when she entered the lunchroom, but Peter was not amused. He complained to Harry Jones, who saw the prank as just the spark he was looking for and took Annie under his wing.
John was explaining how to use the new television’s remote control to June. The sisters saw Annie come down the stairs.

“Hi. We thought you might be ill.” Julie hit Joy on the arm. She turned around.

“Oh no. I was just putting the green bean casserole in the refrigerator.”

Julie and Joy shot each other knowing looks.

“Hello, Joy. How are you?”

“I’m exhausted. The girls were up at two this morning. Sophie had a nightmare, and, of course, woke up Caitlyn too. By the time I got them back down, it was about three. Then I couldn’t fall back to sleep. You know how that goes.”

Julie nodded. They both looked at Annie.

“I can only imagine.”

The sisters looked around the room.

“Excuse me, will you? I need to ask John something.” Annie made her way across the basement, giving kisses to the kids along the way.

“How is it going?” She finally reached her husband.

“Oh, this remote is a bit much for Mom.”

“I’m no good with electronics. I don’t even use the dishwasher much unless you kids are here,” June said.

“Some remotes are more complicated than necessary,” Annie said. She sensed she was intruding.

“Hi, Auntie Annie.” It was Boston, the former snowball.

“Hi, sweetie. What are you up to?”

“Would you play restaurant with me?”

“I’d love to.”

After a dessert of June’s famous apple pie, which won first place in the church bake-off in 1980, the adults sat sipping coffee and, in Annie’s case, tea. The kids went downstairs to play.

“What do you think? This is as good a time as any,” John whispered to Annie.

She squeezed his hand under the table. “You do the talking.”

“Excuse me, everyone. Annie and I have something we would like to share with you.”

June put her hand to her mouth and let out a little “oh.” The rest looked up. Annie knew what they were thinking. Her stomach ached.

“Annie and I are...”

“Oh, thank God!” June looked upward and crossed herself.

“No, Mom. We are not pregnant.”

Signs of disappointment rippled around the table. No one but June dared to speak.


“We’re not pregnant. That is what we need to talk to you about. Annie and I have been seeing a fertility specialist.”

“Oh, sweet Jesus! Not my son!”

“Mom, try to relax.”

Annie shifted from side to side in her chair, wishing she was anywhere but here right now.

“We have been diagnosed as having unexplained infertility.” They all looked at John as though he just spoke in Greek. “You might not be familiar with this since obviously none of you have dealt with this before. We have been trying to conceive for more than two years. When that did not happen, Annie suggested we see a specialist. For the last several months, we have gone through several series of tests.” John bit his lip. “Unfortunately, the doctor has found nothing, no reason why we cannot have a baby.”

June sat at the head of the table, staring at John and Annie, shell-shocked.

“D...D...Does this mean you will never have children?”

“Not necessarily,” said John. “Annie and I are trying to figure out what our course of action will be. Probably some form of’s called Assisted Reproductive Technologies, like insemination or in vitro fertilization. We aren't sure yet, but we wanted you to know because you are our family, and we would like your support.”

“Oh, dear God. It’s really that bad?”

“Yes, Mom. It is.”

“And you both tested normal still?” June looked at Annie, who raised her head for the first time since John started talking.

“Yes, June.”

“I’d be happy to donate some, um, you know, to help you out,” Ralph said. Julie punched his arm.

“Of all things, Ralph! I’m sure John’s sperm is more than healthy enough for Annie.” June was getting red. All this talk; she was not used to such things.

Annie shot Ralph a look that said if you utter a single word I will personally beat the living crap out of you.

“Would anyone like more coffee? I’ll go make another pot.” Ralph excused himself and went into the kitchen.

They all got up from the table. June immediately went to John, hugging him and patting his head like he was a wounded puppy. Julie went into the kitchen to help her husband. Geoff went to check on the kids.

Joy came over to Annie. “I am very sorry you are going through this. If you need anything, please give me a call.”

Annie searched Joy’s face for any sign of sarcasm, superiority or delight. All she saw was something she had never seen Joy exhibit before -- concern. “Thank you, Joy. I appreciate that.”

There must be a full moon tonight.

Karen Wojcik Berner has been a writer/editor for 25 years, ten of which were spent in editing trade publications. A two-time Folio Magazine Ozzie Award for Excellence in Magazine Editorial and Design winner, her work also has appeared in The Chicago Tribune and countless regional newspapers. Her blog, Bibliophilic Blather, features "Editing for Grammarphobes" every Monday and Wednesday, plus "Flash Fiction Fridays," which showcases authors of various genres writing stories incorporating monthly themes in 500 words or less. A Whisper to a Scream is her first novel.

To purchase A Whisper to a Scream for Kindle, CLICK HERE.

And I highly recommend Karen's blog, Bibliophilic Blather.

Finally, you can learn more about Karen and her writing at her website, Karen Wojcik Berner.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Video Friday!

Today's video is for Mary McDonald's thriller, No Good Deed. This one really caught my attention. I hope you enjoy it too!

Mary also has a really cool blog called Mary McDonald Has the Write Stuff - definitely check it out and find out more about No Good Deed.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Giveaway Wednesday: Take the Monkeys and Run

Time to draw the lucky winner for Lee Libro's Swimming With Wings!

Are you ready?

I'm on pins and needles myself . . . okay, here we go. And the winner is . . .

Patsy!!! (YAY!)

Patsy, I have your email address, so I'll be contacting you shortly to arrange for mailing of your winning book. I'm SURE you will enjoy it. :-)

Now for THIS week's giveaway:

My own novel, Take the Monkeys and Run.

And I'm playing a sort of game with this one: I'll give away 2 copies if there are LESS than 10 entries (comments requesting to be entered). If there are between 10 and 19 entries (comments requesting to be entered), then I'll give away 4 copies. And if I'm lucky enough to get 20 or more entries, I'll pick 6 WINNERS! :-)

SO TELL YOUR FRIENDS! Facebook or tweet the contest and let people know. :-)

A few facts about Take the Monkeys and Run -

It was a 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest Semi-finalist

It has sold over 3500 Kindle versions since June 17th, 2010

It is now available in ereader format for Amazon's Kindle and B&N's Nook as well as in paperback from both and B&

It has 30 Amazon Customer Reviews with an average of 4.5 stars

All of these things make me very happy :-)

Want to know what it's about? Okay, if you insist:

Film lover Barbara Marr is a typical suburban mom living the typical suburban life in her sleepy little town of Rustic Woods, Virginia. Typical, that is until she sets out to find the missing link between a bizarre monkey sighting in her yard and the bone chilling middle-of-the-night fright fest at the strangely vacant house next door. When Barb talks her two friends into some seemingly innocent Charlie’s Angels-like sleuthing, they stumble upon way more than they bargained for and uncover a piece of neighborhood history that certain people would kill to keep on the cutting room floor.

Enter sexy PI Colt Baron, Barb’s ex-boyfriend who would love to be cast as new leading man, filling the role just vacated by her recently estranged husband, Howard. When Colt flies in from out of town to help Barb, events careen out of control and suddenly this mini-van driving mother of three becomes a major player in a treacherous and potentially deadly FBI undercover operation. It’s up to her now. With little time to spare, she and she alone, must summon the inner strength necessary to become a true action heroine and save the lives of those she loves. The question is can she get them out alive before the credits roll?

Sound like fun? I hope so, because that's what I intended when I wrote it.

So start leaving your comments and telling me you'd like to be entered to win. Remember, it's always easier if you leave your email address in the comment. If you don't like leaving an email address, remember to check back NEXT Wednesday to see if you won.


As always - Thank you for following my blog.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Trailer on You Gotta Read Videos!

Today, You Gotta Run Videos is featuring the funny book video for Take the Monkeys and Run. It will be one of twenty featured this month in their October contest. Viewers will be able to vote starting October 21st, so you'll be seeing another post here near the end of the month asking you to get the vote out, but for right now, if you have 30 seconds, I'd love for you to pop over to You Gotta Read Videos and view this little gem that my son helped me create. :-)



Monday, October 4, 2010

Excerpt: Not One of Us by D.A. Spruzen

I'm very pleased to be posting an excerpt from the psychological suspense novel Not One of Us,by D.A. Spruzen. Before the enticing first chapter, let me give you the description found at Amazon:

Rose, a widow and mother of three adult children, is a founding member of the Salton Symphony and one of a group of seven volunteers who call themselves the “Symphony Slaves.” As the story opens, she is in the hospital recovering from a concussion after being found unconscious outside her friend Judy’s house. Rose cannot remember how she got there, although she remembers finding Judy bludgeoned to death. This is only the first of several murders that rock the normally dull Salton, a Northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C.

Alternate chapters comprise segments of the killer’s journal in which she recalls her childhood and reveals the warped logic that enables her to eliminate those who threaten her hard-won lifestyle. She overcame her destitution with the single-minded ruthlessness that drives her to kill again and again when things go wrong. The journal converges with the narrative as the story progresses and shows the terrible fallout that can result from child abuse; but it also suggests that it is not inevitable—her sister is not a killer, after all. This woman’s intelligence and drive have worked for her and against her.

This psychological suspense, the first of a trilogy, focuses on the characters’ inner lives and the social constraints that bind them. Each Symphony Slave changes as her complacency is shaken by dark events she never imagined could touch a community like Salton. And the way it all ends . . . pleases no one.

Sounds interesting to me! I recently downloaded Not One of Us to my Kindle and have read the first few chapters already, which really knocked my socks off. I can't wait to keep reading more. Okay, I won't hold back anymore.

Here is Chapter One of Not One of Us:

Pansy made her first kill at fourteen, albeit with the best of intentions. But I’m not Pansy anymore. I became someone quite different, despite all the obstacles placed in my path by others, circumstances that forced my hand and made a few more casualties inevitable.

I need to write everything down now—the things I had to do—and try to show the sense of it all. When people read it they will understand that I had no choice and not think so badly of me. After all, I never had anyone to stand up for me, I had to solve my own problems the best way I could. My solutions might be considered somewhat extreme, I know, but I couldn’t lose everything I had always dreamed of and worked for.

I wanted a good life in a normal place doing normal things. I wanted respect. That meant a good job, a good husband, and a nice home in a nice place. I used to look through fancy magazines in the midtown drug stores until they chased me out. I gathered up a dream and held onto it: a white house with a tall fence and big old trees. Lots of green. The only trees where I lived were scraggy and half-dead from car exhaust, so my dream-trees were a vague impression of the kind I had seen in those magazines, hemming wonderful perfect gardens that encircled wonderful perfect houses. I imagined vases of pink and blue flowers posed on polished tabletops—generic flowers like children paint because no one I knew ever had flowers in their home, unless you count dusty plastic ones, and even then I knew better. Drapes and blinds shrouded the windows; no one could spy on me and only the invited could enter. I got all of it but, as everyone knows by now, I didn’t get to keep it. I had a good run, though. Not bad for someone like me. I can’t complain because I did very well considering my starting point—a grungy family living on the roughest street in Hell’s Kitchen. No bite of the Big Apple for us.

A Washington suburb seemed like paradise to me—I could stay the same person for years. Too many people knew me in New York in spite of all the time and money I spent on hairdressers and cosmetics to change my look—red hair in a short pixie cut and Cleopatra eyeliner one year, and a nylon ash-blond wig and false eyelashes (a strange 60’s fashion fad) the next. Each time I changed jobs I changed my look, my apartment, and often my name, too. New everything. I had to keep my life smooth, you see, bumpy rides are not to my liking.

There came a point when I wanted to—had to—get out of New York and I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I burned my old journal long ago—it was too risky to hold onto it once I married. Now I must begin again.

I’ll be long gone by the time you read this. Know that I did my best; suspend judgment until you are done. Don’t bother looking for me.


D. A. Spruzen grew up near London, England, earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and teaches writing when she’s not seeking her own muse. In another life she was Manager of Publications for a defense contractor. Her short stories and poems have appeared in many publications, and she is currently hard at work on the next book in the series, Lily Takes the Field. She and her husband live in Northern Virginia with a Jack Russell terrier who doesn’t know he’s old and doesn’t know he’s small.

Want to sample more OR purchase Not One of Us for Kindle? Click HERE.

You can also learn more about D.A. Spruzen and her trilogy by checking out her website, D.A. Spruzen.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Video Friday!

Today's book video: The Knight of Death by Brendan Carroll. ENJOY!

If you'd like to learn more about Brendan and his books, check out his blog, The Assassin Chronicles.