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My special guest author today is Karen Wojcik Berner, whose debut novel, A Whisper to a Scream, is getting rave reviews!

A Whisper to a Scream is the story of two women, Sarah Anderson and Annie Jacobs, who, at first glance, appear to have nothing in common. Sarah is a stay-at-home mother of two while, at 37, Annie has been trying without success to conceive her first child. Annie and her husband, John, made their careers a priority, delaying parenthood, but now it may be too late for them to ever have a child of their own. Meanwhile, Sarah is a stay-at-home mother whose husband, Tom, travels extensively for business and works long hours, leaving Sarah to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility for their home and young sons. Sarah and Annie meet when both decide to join a book club devoted to reading and discussing classics.

In Berner explores the women’s very different perspectives on motherhood, marriage, and “a yearning that might start as a vague notion, but eventually grows into an unbearable, vociferous cry.”

Five Editing Rules for Grammarphobes

Karen Wojcik Berner

Thank you so much, JHS, for inviting me to be a guest author today. I am very excited to be here at Colloquium.

I am a word nerd. I love playing with them, moving them around until the sentence reads just so. Can’t help myself.

I know many people are not, and that is understandable. I don’t like to fish, for example, no matter how much fun my father says it is. However, while fishing is not a necessity for everyone, writing most definitely is. Think about how many times a day you use it. Email. Texting. Work presentations. Research papers. Holiday newsletters. Facebook updates. The list is endless.

“Editing for Grammarphobes” is a frequent feature on my blog, Bibliophilic Blather. I know I am neither Strunk nor White, but I can share some things I have learned over my many years as a magazine editor, freelance writer, and English major.

Here is my list of the top five grammar mistakes.

Punctuating decades. From television to billboards to even print journalism, people all around the country have been exposed to it for so long, the wrong way has become commonplace. It should read 1980s, not 1980’s. An apostrophe s signifies possession. Decades do not own anything. It should read ’80s, not 80’s. The apostrophe replaces the missing numerals.

Confusing possessives with plurals. Continuing with “apostrophes gone wild,” I have seen many a holiday card signed “From the Smith’s.” From the Smith’s what? Again, the apostrophe s is supposed to signify possession, not make something plural. A simple s will do just fine. It should read “From the Smiths.”

Homophones. Do you remember what a homophone is? They are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently. Homophones can trip up even the most seasoned of writers. And what is worse, they are never picked up by spell check. The most common homophones are to, two, and too and their, they’re and there.

Redundancies. They clog our writing, weighing it down in unnecessary muck, much like what triple cheeseburgers with bacon and mayonnaise do to our arteries. Examples include ATM machine (the acronym is automated teller machine already, right?), my own personal opinion (who else’s opinion are you qualified to give?), and 7:00 p.m. at night (p.m. already signifies evening).

Spelling. These words trip up even the most seasoned editors.

Top 25 Most Commonly Misspelled Words


Remember, no matter who you are or what you do, everyone writes.

Meet Karen

Karen Wojcik Berner grew up on the outskirts of Chicago, and graduated from Dominican University with degrees in English with a writing concentration and communications. She has worked as a magazine editor, public relations coordinator, and freelance writer. Karen has twice received the Folio Magazine Ozzie Award for Excellence in Magazine Editorial and Design winner, and her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family.

Karen’s first published novel, A Whisper to a Scream, is the initial installment in The Bibliophiles Series, inspired by her fascination with people’s journeys to the places where we encounter them and desire to understand how people’s pasts impact their present-day lives. “So I decided to bring a group of people together, bound only by their love of classic literature, and see what happened,” she says. The next book, How Long ‘Til My Soul Gets It Right?, is scheduled for release this coming spring. Four more titles are scheduled to follow, each focused upon a different character who is a member of the book club.

You can connect with Karen on her website or blog, Bibliophilic Blather, or by emailing her (karen at karenberner dot com).

Thank you, Karen!

Thanks also to Jodi Webb at WOW! Women on Writing.

Be sure to visit Colloquium tomorrow, Tuesday, January, 10, 2012, to read my review of A Whisper to a Scream and enter to win your own copy, graciously provided by the author!


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