Thursday, December 22, 2011

Novelist Karen Doornebos to appear at Women and Children First Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, 4:00 pm

“Definitely Not Mr. Darcy” to be featured at Andersonville’s revered independent book store.

Acclaimed for being one of the country’s longest running and important independent bookstores, Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL. will journey from the Regency world of Jane Austen to contemporary television reality shows when the store hosts a reading and signing for author Karen Doornebos and her debut novel, “Definitely Not Mr. Darcy,” Sun., Jan. 8, 2012, 4 pm.

Doornebos’ novel tells the story of Chloe Parker who auditions for a Jane Austen-inspired public television documentary set in Derbyshire, England. Important to this 39-year-old divorced mother with a struggling business, there's a $100,000 prize to be awarded to the contestant who can successfully answer trivia questions about Austen's “Pride and Prejudice.”

But the documentary is a sham, and the filming is actually a reality dating show set in 1812 where eight competitors vie to win the money and the heart of Mr. Wrightman, the heir to a fabulous estate. To further distress Chloe, contestants must dress and behave as if they were in the Regency year depicted in Austen's book -- with no cell phones, indoor plumbing, or deodorant. It’s time for Chloe to tighten her corset and flash some ankle to beat out women younger, more cutthroat, and less clumsy than herself.

“Definitely Not Mr. Darcy” was published in September of this year by Berkley, Penguin Group, and is garnering rave reviews from across the country. “Publishers Weekly” in its starred review, said, “Doornebos gives the historical romance novel a hilarious update in this delightful debut.” And “RT Book Reviews” added, "...this tale combines a fun plot with witty dialogue, charming characters and a strong-willed heroine. It will leave you laughing in delight and reluctant to put it down until the last page is read."

Doornebos, of Riverside, IL., said she hopes the event will attract not only Austen fans, “but readers who are curious about Austen’s enduring popularity.” For her part, Doornebos points to fast-paced action, humor, overcoming odds, a powerful heroine, and an escape from daily life as reasons Austen’s works have gathered hundreds of thousands of fans around the world and on Facebook.

For more information about the reading and signing, call Women and Children First at 773-769-9299, or go to its website, And, to learn more about Karen Doornebos, visit


Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Year's Resolutions: Learn your rights, Appreciate Jane Austen, Take an improv class, and Join a chorus.

While you're resolving to lose 10 pounds, learn Spanish, or spend less in the new year -- oh wait, that's me -- I'd like to encourage something different. Here are four ideas that should stir your interest:

Learn your rights
Nearly every issue debated in daily headlines is related to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Are you really clear on what is guaranteed us in these documents and what is smoke and mirrors proffered by someone trying to win an argument?

While our Founding Fathers' guidelines can be an intimidating or even sluggish read, you can take a fun, crash course by checking out, Created by Pat Shiplett, of Evanston, the hip, fun, accessible, and interactive site is ideal for older teens, newcomers to this country, frustrated teachers, and others who want to learn more but were too embarrassed to ask. To make it easier, tune into Bill Moller's WGN radio show Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, noon, when Pat will be Bill's guest.

Appreciate Jane Austen
Wondering what the fuss is all about for an author who was born more than 200 years ago, and has hundreds of thousands of fans around the world and on Facebook? Do you wish you could dip your toe into Austen’s world with a guide who can introduce you to timeless characters and Regency gentility, but with a contemporary twist?

Consider Karen Doornebos’ debut novel, “Definitely Not Mr. Darcy.” Doornebos will be interviewed by Rick Kogan, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, 7 a.m., on his WGN-AM "Sunday Papers" radio show. Then at 4 pm. on the same day, Doornebos appears at Women and Children First Bookstore in Andersonville. "Definitely Not Mr. Darcy" is a fun, romantic romp that Austen would have likely approved.

Take an improv class
Are you envious watching Chicago-bred actors on "Saturday Night Live" or other comedy stages? Or, do you simply want to lose your shyness and be quicker on your feet?

Perhaps you’re in business and realize improv lessons could improve sales and presentation skills. Maybe you just want more fun in your life. No matter the reason, you might find what you’re looking for at Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre. On Thursday, January 12, 2012, 3:30 pm, Beginner Improv classes start at their satellite site, the Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton Ave. in Logan Square. Check out Annoyance's class list and current shows at 2012 could be the year you’re finally going to fulfill this resolution.

Join a chorus
Ready to move your vocalizing out of the shower and onto a stage shared by other music lovers? Community choruses are the perfect pick-me-up for winter blues and building self esteem. In some cases, like the 80-member Sing To Live® Community Chorus, where every singer is either a breast cancer survivor, or has a friend or relative with the illness, the gatherings also form an unspoken support group.

Melinda Pollack-Harris, a breast cancer survivor who created Sing To Live, suggests you check out their website,, and mark your calendars for their March 3 & 4, 2012 concerts, "Sing For The Cure™ A Proclamation of Hope."