A Groovy Kind of Love
by Karen Wojcik Berner
The Bibliophiles, Book 3
Published: January 12, 2015
Word Count: approx. 69,000
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Recommended Age: 13+
Uptight British lit lover meets a free spirit at a book club, and his world is turned upside down!
After placating to his father’s demands that he play Little League baseball and major in computer programming in college rather than his beloved English literature, Thaddeus assumed that several years into his career, he would finally get some peace and quiet.
Then he met Spring Pearson, the younger, free-spirited daughter of Hippie parents, at a book club meeting. Instantly smitten, Thaddeus finally worked up the courage to ask Spring out. But will an old college pinkie-swear promise Spring made fifteen years ago get in the way of this bibliophilic romance?
“A Groovy Kind of Love” is the third and final installment of Karen Wojcik Berner’s Bibliophiles series. Written as stand-alone novels, each book focuses on one or two members of a fictional suburban classics book club, revealing their personal stories while the group explores tales spun by the masters.
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Excerpt from A Groovy Kind of Love:
Copyright © 2014 by Karen Wojcik Berner
We all have a first memory, one dug deepest in that part of the brain that commemorates the dawn of our cognizance. For some, maybe it’s their first plush toy. Others might recall bouncing on their fathers’ knees. Thaddeus had none of these. His awakening began the first day his mother brought him to the library.
“Bundle up, sweetie.” Maureen Mumblegarden pulled five-year-old Thaddeus’s coat collar up around his neck. “Can’t forget the mittens.” She snapped them onto large strings dangling from his coat sleeves, and yelled down the empty hallway, “Let’s go, Addie.”
His sister slogged to the foyer. “Why can’t I stay by myself? Granny’s right downstairs.”
“You’re not old enough. What if you start a fire trying to heat up some SpaghettiOs?” Mother zipped up her Borgana coat. “The whole place would be up in flames before Granny could even make it up here.”
“But I’m nine!”
“She’s gonna make me watch As the World Turns!”
Mother grabbed her purse and keys. “Bring a book or something to occupy yourself while Granny watches her soap operas.”
“Enough! This is a special day for your brother, and I won’t have you ruining it.”
At the bus stop, Thaddeus stood perfectly still, afraid that if he moved even an inch, one of the cars whizzing past would roll over his foot and crush his big toes. His left hand grew sweaty inside its mitten from gripping his mother’s glove so tightly. A few feet away, cars lined up on the street in front of a dark-green shack. An older man with an apron tied around the waist of his parka handed newspapers through passenger-side windows. Pedestrians grabbed their copies from huge stacks and threw dimes in an old cup. Overstuffed racks held magazines, some of which Thaddeus recognized from the coffee table in the living room.
Maureen purchased a copy of Highlights for him and a Ladies Home Journal for herself. “Something to keep us busy on the bus.” She tucked them into her purse. “Here it comes. Stay close.”
“Wake up, honey. This is our stop.” The mother nudged her boy awake.
Thaddeus stumbled down the street, his post-nap haze lifting with each step. Businessmen marched down the sidewalk, briefcases swinging in unison. Car horns beeped. Messengers zigzagged through traffic with large canisters on their backs. Past restaurants and stores mother and son trod, tall office buildings blocking out the sun.
Their destination was a massive gray building, one full block in size, which he thought looked like Aunt Barbara’s wedding cake, each tier more ornate than the one below, with arches and columns and words he had never seen before.
“What is this place, Mother?”
“It’s the library.” She opened the doors to reveal crisscrossing marble staircases.
Little Thaddeus navigated the stairs, picking his legs up extra high so he didn’t fall. Mosaics of green-colored glass, gold leaf, and mother of pearl guided him toward the main room. His nostrils filled with the scent of paper and a hint of dust.
“What does that say?” He pointed to one of the many quotes lining the third floor’s outer hall.
“‘He that loveth a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, or an effectual comforter.’ It’s from Isaac Barrow. Follow me, sweetie.”
They entered a grand room capped with a gold-rimmed, blue–stained glass dome. The ornate ceiling sparkled when sunlight shone through. His mother bent down and whispered in his ear, “That is the world’s largest Tiffany dome. See those symbols at the top? Those are the signs of the zodiac. People born under the same sign usually have similar characteristics.”
Thaddeus didn’t know who this Tiffany was, but she sure made some beautiful art—all those pieces of glass put just so. He couldn’t take his eyes off of it and ended up walking right into his mother, jostling them both.
The woman perched behind the circulation desk peered down at him. “May I help you?”
He gulped, his eyes begging for his mother’s assistance.
“My son turned five last week. We would like to get him a library card.”
Thaddeus puffed out his chest. After all, he was old enough to be in a magnificent place such as that.
“Why certainly, ma’am.” The woman turned to Thaddeus. “Happy birthday, young man. Let’s get you started.”
He printed “Thaddeus Mumblegarden IV” in his best hand, careful to make each letter small enough to fit on the line provided, while still being legible, quite a feat for one so young.
The librarian returned and handed him his card. Thaddeus beamed. A glorious bibliophilic universe was at his disposal! Well, at least the children’s section.
“Reading time starts in ten minutes downstairs in Room B. Enjoy your great adventure, young man.”
On the way down, Maureen read him every quote adorning the walls, nuggets of wisdom passed down from great thinkers of every world region in praise of books and reading. Thaddeus didn’t understand it all, of course, but he could feel it was a sacred space, a special place where the tales of generations could be passed down to those who had the same card as he.
An elderly gentleman clad in a tweed jacket and corduroy pants waved them into Room B. Thaddeus took a spot in the front row among the other children while Maureen joined the other mothers near the back.
“Greetings, young lad,” the man said. “I haven’t seen you here before.” They spoke the same language, yet he didn’t sound like anyone Thaddeus had ever heard.
“I got my library card today. My birthday was last week.” The boy beamed.
“I see. You’ve just picked up your passport.”
“Library card,” Thaddeus corrected.
“Bring it here, son. Let me see.” The man examined the card carefully. “Ah, this is not merely a library card. With this, you can travel the jungles of Africa with Rudyard Kipling or traipse the moors with Emily Brontë.” He patted Thaddeus on the head and sent him back to his seat. “All right, children. Today we are going to read Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne, who happens to hail from my motherland of England.”
The man’s voice danced in Thaddeus’s ears. Beautifully rounded vowels waltzed alongside perfectly pronounced consonants, all joining together to tell the story of Christopher Robin’s sweet teddy bear.
Before catching the bus home, Thaddeus and Maureen Mumblegarden stopped in Marshall Field’s for a cup of hot cocoa and a cookie.
“Mother, look!” Thaddeus tugged at her coat. He picked up a Pooh bear from a display and hugged it tightly.
He cuddled the bear throughout the entire ride home, careful not to drop his new friend on the dirty bus floor.
It is my pleasure to welcome Karen Wojcik Berner, author of A Groovy Kind of Love, to Room With Books!
What do you do when you are not writing?
I’m a mom of two sons. One is a junior in college majoring in history and classics, and the other is a high school freshman. I’m usually on the sidelines of either his football or lacrosse games or driving him to and from practices or watching his orchestra concerts or ordering pizza for his friends when they hang in our basement. The house is definitely going to be quiet when he leaves for college. On the plus side, I’ll have more time to write.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Sophomore year in high school, our assignment was to choose one author, read three of his or her novels, and write about a particular theme throughout the work. Very few females were on the list, but one caught my eye —Jane Austen and the synopsis of “Pride and Prejudice.” I ran up to claim this Jane before anyone else and quickly got to reading. I fell in love with Austen and Regency England that day, a love I am reminded of every time I open one of her novels.
Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of Her Own” saved my sanity when I was struggling to write my first novel while staying at home with my two young children. I took over an extra room in our house and claimed it as my office, despite my family’s protestations to use it otherwise because Woolf advised that “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” I didn’t have the money on my freelancer’s salary, but I sure as hell was going to get the room.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I kept receiving what I call “spectacular rejections” when I shopped around the first book in this series, “A Whisper to a Scream.” (Side note: Even though the Bibliophiles is a series, I wrote all the books as stand-alone novels, so feel free to jump in with “A Groovy Kind of Love.” You won’t be lost.) Okay, back to the interview. These rejections stated things like “Great book. Relatable characters. Don’t know if I can sell it.” Well, I thought that was their jobs, to sell books they liked. So I decided to publish it on my own and have done so for all of my novels and my digital short story.
If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
That’s a tough one. I do so love being fictionally omniscient. I’d say telekinesis. I had a dream once that I could levitate people. It was awesome.
What was your first job?
At fourteen, I worked with the park district of the town I grew up in, organizing playground games for younger kids in the morning and teaching arts and crafts in the afternoon. I got all the boys. None of the other workers wanted them, so it was always me and eight to ten little boys, ranging in age from 5 to 8, rushing through the arts and crafts project so we could get outside to play. I guess that was good training for motherhood.
Out of all of your characters, which is your favorite? Why?
I love all of the Bibliophiles, but I think my favorite is Edwina Hipplewhite, the book club moderator. A retired high school English teacher, she keeps everyone on their toes and infuses fun into the meetings as well as gently nudges the Bibliophiles in the directions they need to be heading as humans. She’s a crazy old lady and a hoot!
What does your writing schedule look like?
When I’m not in heavy promotion mode after a new release like now, I start writing after my youngest leaves for school, stop for lunch and some correspondence, then back for awhile before he gets home. Sometimes, if something comes to me in the middle of the night, I run into the office and get it down so I don’t forget it. You never know when inspiration will strike.
Do you use your OWN experiences?
I think writers can’t help but use some of their own experiences in certain situations, but I sometimes draw very loosely from life and fictionalize it to better suit the scene. Although I can tell you one time when I was sitting in Starbucks, these two young guys sat down next to me. The dark-haired one started the conversation with, “So, I’m having a problem with monogamy lately.” Hmmmmm. Do tell. That beginning, not the conversation of course, appears in my first book, “A Whisper to a Scream,” fictionalized, of course. Don’t want to scare everyone I know. No one will talk to me!
Was it easy to pick the title for your book?
No. It’s gut-wrenching and anxiety-ridden trying to find the perfect title. Each of the bibliophile novels is named after a song. For this one, I was trying to figure out something that would encompass the main theme. I was sitting on my front porch wracking my brain when I remembered Phil Collins’ cover of “A Groovy Kind of Love” from the eighties. It just felt right.
If you could pick one profession other than author, what would it be? Why does it appeal to you?
Before I was bitten by the writing bug (I was a magazine editor before the kids), I wanted to be a singer, so I’ll go with that. Music is still an important part of my life, but I don’t perform anymore like I did through grammar school and high school. It’s probably even less stable of a profession than writing. I can really pick ‘em, right?
What are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m working on a short story that’s been floating around in my head for awhile, shopping around another novel I finished last year to publishers, and researching my next book idea.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Mint chocolate chip.
Night owl, or early bird? I’d rather be a night owl, but after having kids, unfortunately I’m an early bird now.
Coffee or tea? Tea
Roller Coasters or Water Rides? Roller coasters. Front car. No hands!
Swimming in the ocean or a pool? Pool because it’s easier to swim, but the ocean’s so much more beautiful.
Walking or fitness club? Walking and that’s on a good day. My older son just became a certified personal trainer. I think I’d be his greatest challenge!
Any last words?
It was great being here with you today. Thanks so much for having me.
Thanks you for chatting with our readers and for allowing Room With Books to be part of your tour!
Karen Wojcik Berner writes contemporary women’s fiction, including the Amazon best-selling series, the Bibliophiles. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women’s Fiction Writers, and Fresh Fiction. She currently serves on the Author Council of LoveToReadEbooks.com and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association.
When not writing, she can be found on the sidelines of her youngest’s football or lacrosse games, discussing the Celts with the oldest, or snuggling into a favorite reading chair with a good book and some tea.
There is an international tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
- One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card.