Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Saturday Worthy of the Steward

In Staked! Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara, created an entire world from his own imagination.

Today, I spent nearly eleven straight hours working on the final book of Before the Blood, the five-novel prequel to the BryonySeries.

I didn't get to the copy edits of Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone and I didn't finish Bertrand's First Book of Numbers.

But I accomplished so much today, that I feel good about foregoing my "normal" early morning, thirty-minute fiction time during the week to fix Cornell.

And as for Bertrand, well, he took a field trip yesterday to Chicago WITHOUT me! Talk about separation anxiety. But he went with a charming lady who took lots and lots of photos, enough for a third book: Cornell Visits the Big City, so it's all good.

So I'll be working on that book this week,too, and publish it before the numbers book. And I'll also host a blog (or two) of his adventures next week, so stay tuned.

As for "numbers," I'm planning a "back to school birthday bash" for Bertrand in September, a GREAT Time to release the book, methinks.

So a bit askew on the plans, but it will all work out.

And BTW, remember to check out the new recipe on Sue's Diner tomorrow. Didn't catch last week's? Well, you have one more day to access it right HERE.

Now for some fun and catching up on my letter-writing.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, June 18 through June 23

I finally have two weekends off (ish!)

I have also finally finished Henry's story and have begun the final novel in the Before the Blood prequel. Based on the time it took to write the previous novels, I anticipate at least a year before I'm ready for an editor.

This novel will have twenty chapters instead of the others, which have ten, but the pace is brisker and all the research is worked out, so I'm expecting the writing to progress at a faster rate than the previous four novels.

Saturday morning and early afternoon is for writing. And then...

I also plan to finish Bertrand's second book tomorrow afternoon, as it doesn't need much now.

And I also plan to correct the typos in Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone tomorrow afternoon, too.

After those things are done, Rebekah and I have a list of work for the website, which we are planning to tackle after items one and two are done.

Anyhow, that's the view from a Friday of deadlines to first fulfill. After I file three stories and plot my Sunday pages, I'm planning my stories for the rest of the month. I've had the joy of working with two interns, so I'm getting some projects ready for them, too. It's been a very satisfying week.

Somewhere when the work is done, I'm offering feedback on the first chapters of a friend's novel.

And here we are.

The health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars: where to find them? Under the sections tab on the left hand side of Click on "features" and the topics drop down. Assembled by moi.

Gotta Do It, also by me, runs each Sunday in the People section.

Feature briefs for Monday (pets), Tuesday (health), Thursday (faith), Friday (arts and entertainment), and Sunday (people) are also edited (texted and photos) by the lady of this blog, but only the stories have bylines. I do try to post new content daily.

Another option: I do post the briefs and calendars on Twitter during the week, so you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61. And of course, I post curated content relating to the BryonySeries at @BryonySeries.

Thank you for reading The Herald-News.

Joliet-area residents share the best advice they received from their fathers

Children, being children, often don’t appreciate their fathers’ wisdom while it’s being dispensed – even if they have fathers like Jim Anderson and Ward Cleaver. But it’s amazing how cherished that wisdom becomes through the years. Read on to see what readers had to say.

An Extraordinary Life: Former Herald-News employee loved his community
John B. Lux followed his father into a publishing career

“He was a great dad, no question about it,” Tom Lux said. “He was a teacher. He was patient. He helped us learn on our own. He helped us learn how to find the answer instead of giving us the answer. He instilled a good set of values.”

Pets of the Week: June 19

Read the caption of each photo to find out about that pet, including where he or she can be adopted.

Chronic illness doesn’t keep these Joliet area residents from living life

I belong to an interesting “club” of fellow warriors, people who live with illness every day. Meet three other members.

Mystery Diner: Loco’s serves great Mexican food

With kids, it’s hard to get exactly what everyone wants.

But a place like Loco’s, with a quesadilla kids’ meal and rice and beans on the side ($4.95 for the meal with a small drink) worked.

Joliet university offers digital audio recording arts camp for youth
USF camp teaches kids how to create their own recordings
By Megan Schuller

High school and middle school students from around the area participated in the camp where they had full access to sound rooms and the professional digital audio software in the computers, which costs roughly $10,000, Jeff Jaskowiak, director of the digital and audio recording arts program, estimated.

Artworks: Joliet Central alum hosts ‘Werkshop’ music series
By Jessica Spangler

June 26 will mark its first appearance at Steppenwolf. Erick Deshaun Dorris created the series in 2016 when was doing an arts residency at D.C. Torium, a do-it-yourself space in the Logan Square neighborhood.

Wessel completes 50-mile walk to help fine arts program
By Jessica Spangler

“The goal is to provide high quality music education to homeschool students at a low tuition cost. We
try to make it affordable for them,” Jonathan Wessel said.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Meet Bobbi Phelps Towery, "Bryony" Fan Extraordinaire

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meet Bobbi Phelps Towery, "Bryony" Fan Extraordinaire

Recently, Hastings Entertainment in Utah (
purchased several copies of Bryony, and it’s all due to Bobbie Phelps Towery, a Bryony fan extraordinaire, who brought her copy to the store manager and persuaded him to order copies.

Not only has Bobbi been talking up the book, she’s passed out flyers around town, letting readers know where they can enjoy the book, too.

Today, Bobbi shares why she’s so fond of the story.

1) What kinds of books do you generally read?

   “Mysteries, romance novels if set in other time periods, sleuth/spy novels.”

2) How did you hear about Bryony?

    “I learned about Bryony through the music videos on YouTube by pianist/composer James Onohan.”

3) What led you to purchase a copy?

   “Once I heard James' Bryony music, I read about the book then I watched the trailer, and I was hooked. I had to purchase the book and read the whole story!”

4) What did you like about the story?

   “I mostly liked the fact that Melissa (the main character) never really lost her innocence through the whole story even though she wanted more than anything to be loved by John just as Bryony was. But I also liked the suspense and the unpredictability of the story. The storyline was easy to follow.”

5) What did you dislike?

   “It was too short!”

6) Who was your favorite character, and why?

   “Melissa. Even though she's not sure most of the time whether she's living in a dream or in reality, she never loses her composure.”

7) Who was your least favorite character, and why?

   “Kellen. He was the ruthless devil that caused John to sell his soul and murdered so many innocent women.”

8) Team John, Henry, or Kellen, and why?

   “Team John; Even though music was the first love of his life, I believe he truly loved Bryony and although his soul was tormented by her death, when Melissa was "Bryony,” I believed he had real feelings for her as well. I connect with John in the sense that music is a source or channel for the release of torment.”

9) Any final comments?

   “Music, especially piano, has been my lifelong love as well, and in my opinion, the story ofBryony has all the components that touches my heart: music, mystery, romance, innocence. Awesome storytelling!”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

First Person? Third Person?

This was my dilemna going into the fifth and final unfinished novel in the series that comprises the entire prequel: Before the Blood.

I'm not even certain how this became a "thing."

All of the books, so far, in the BryonySeries are written in third person perfect. Which means the reader has the benefits of a first person perspective with a wider view. I had no intention of changing that.

Am I opposed to first person? No, when this series is complete, I have a werewolf story I began-ish a few years ago, and that story is told first person.

So what nagged at me to write the final BTB novel from a different point of view?

Two reasons.

One, since I already wrote novel number three from Bryony's perspective, I didn't want the final book to echo one from the past.

Two, Bryony's voice.

I kept "hearing" certain passages in a distant, surreal, first-person voice that I wanted to capture. But writing it in first person also felt disconnected from the Bryony in book number three, and I wanted the "voice" to be seamless and true.

So although I usually feel frustrated at the lack of sufficient novel-writing time, I kinda welcomed it these last few weeks while I pondered a solution.

And then Saturday morning, while cleaning house, it came to me.

I'll do both.

The body of the novel will be third person perfect.

But the voice of Bryony's ghost will interject comments in certain places, almost the way an occasional first-person a narrative breaks into a film's main action.

So in my early morning writing, I'll be editing the remaining shreds of Henry and fixing the typos in Cornell.

But this come Saturday...

I can't wait to write in earnest this weekend!

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Munsonville View This Monday Morning... looking very good indeed.

I have the next two Saturdays to completely devote to Before the Blood, as I'll be starting the fifth and final novel in this series one early morning this week. I also solved one main challenge in writing it, which I will share tomorrow.

I am also taking a couple days off around the time of my birthday next month, which also falls on a weekend.

Now I have no idea how long this last novel will take to write. But since I've been self-editing as I've composed, I'm hoping the "actual" editing goes quickly and smoothly.

Hope you're having a great Monday morning, too, vampire fans! :)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sue's Diner: Melissa's Garlic Bread by Kathleen R. Van Pelt

Losing track of time is easy when Melissa is researching Bryony, but the timing is bad when Melissa is supposed to make garlic bread to accompany Steve’s delicious spaghetti, sauce, so different from the canned version Darlene made.

Try Melissa's recipe posted on the Sue's Diner page.  Quick, simple and great for Father's Day. :)

From "Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles From 'Bryony'"

All proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties at

Order the cookbook at

Friday, June 16, 2017

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, June 11 through June 16

It's been an intense couple of weeks. I think it's caught up with me, zzzzzz...days like today, I'm thankful for coffee.

On the plus side, I'd be surprised if Henry's chapter nine wasn't finished by early next week. This week's pecking brought me closer to the end than I'd initially thought possible.

Also on the plus side, I've been faithful to my early morning writing routine (I'm here, ain't I) and each marketing step I've taken. And my co-writer and I will be implementing three steps to WriteOn Joliet. Soon.

Rebekah and I did begin cooking and photographing recipes from Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony," which is a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties.  The recipes will remain on the Sue's Diner page of the BryonySeries website for a week, with a new one posted each Sunday.

And speaking of Rebekah, she just remembered last night to send me the final copy of Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone, the one she mistakenly uploaded to Createspace. If you recall, I recently had it recopyedited, so I'll make those changes this week. I'm on again this weekend, so realistically that won't happen.

The rest of my aging and very tired brain cells are reserved for work. So if you're so inclined, please take a peek at what ran in features this past week.

Non-bylined work: the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Where to find them? Under the sections tab on the left hand side of Click on "features" and the topics drop down.

Gotta Do It, runs each Sunday in the People section.

Feature briefs for Monday (pets), Tuesday (health), Thursday (faith), Friday (arts and entertainment), and Sunday (people) are also edited (texted and photos) by the lady of this blog, but only the stories have bylines. I do try to post new content daily.

Another option: I do post the briefs and calendars on Twitter during the week, so you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61. And of course, I post curated content relating to the BryonySeries at @BryonySeries.

Thank you for reading The Herald-News.

Crest Hill man makes a living sharpening knives

If it’s serviceable, Mikula will sharpen it. Read on for his most unusual job.

Crest Hill man loved his church, his family, his community, and served all three
Dan Albert died as he lived – helping

A quiet man, Dan liked nothing better than to “lend a helping hand,” be it his church, his community or his family.

Pets of the Week: June 12

Read the caption of each photo to find out about that pet, including where he or she can be adopted.

Joliet counselor incorporates play into therapy
Jennifer Planing uses board games, coloring and toys when counseling

“It’s their language, how they talk and work through things,” Planing said. “We can use that for the time they don’t have words to talk about what is going on, or they don’t want to talk about what is going on, or when they’re not sure what is going on.”

Barolo’s boasts top-notch service and outstanding food

The Napoleon of Berries and Mousses, consisted of flaky puff pastry, Peruvian dark chocolate mousse, white chocolate mousse and medley of berries, topped with an edible flower. It was almost too pretty to eat. Key word is “almost.” We devoured it.

'They're like completely new icons'
St. Nicholas restores icons painted by historic iconographers

What makes these icons valuable, said Matusiak, is that few, if any, Orthodox churches in the United States still have icons by these particular iconographers – and certainly not a collection of them. In fact, the icons at St. Nicholas may be the largest collection of Elchaninov/Struve icons in a single parish, he added.

Bicentennial Park is more than gnomes, pumpkins and boats

When the City of Joliet hired Debbie Greene as development director and Lori Carmine as park manager, city officials mentioned they wanted to see expanded programming to make the park more relevant to everyone, Carmine said.

“I think they had this idea that the park could be more than what it had been,” Carmine said. “It had been very successful in the past. But we kept doing things the the same way when the world seemed to be changing.”

Artworks: Joliet Central alum hosts 'Werkshop' music series
By Jessica Spangler

According to Erick Deshaun Dorris, he saw a need for a workshop that would create an environment open to criticism and discussion for songwriters.

"The audience is able to sit and listen critically to new music," Dorris said.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Guest Post by Sarah Stegall: "Change"

Monday, June 16, 2014
Guest Post by Sarah Stegall: Change

The following is a piece Sarah Stegall, BryonySeries web administrator emeritus, posted on a small Facebook group called, Change, which consists of her, my other daughter Rebekah, and me.

Rebekah started the group to keep her accountable in her weight loss journey. One of the unfortunate side effects of my desire to cook good food is that my kids love to eat! Timothy, who at one point stood as wide as he was tall, has often told people he didn't become fat because of unhealthy food, no it was extra portions of homemade sausage and bean soup and half loaves of homemade buttermilk bread that did it.

At any rate, Sarah embarked upon a new eating plan and formulated an exercise regime over a year ago. For both girls, it's a real struggle, for they have weak ankles that give out when walking and flat feet and a host of other issues that most of us never face when getting out there and pounding the pavement.

Nevertheless, the progress Sarah has made has been astounding. As she strives toward her own goals, she encourages - and occasionally head thumps - Rebekah in her struggle, and it is an especial struggle for Rebekah because she loves food so much.

But this is just the background to the selection. The main reason I'm sharing it with you today is not just that its wisdom applies to any of us on life's journey, but the fact that my eldest daughter wrote it and that it's full of of the principals and attitudes I tried to exemplify and prayed my children would absorb during my years of actively parenting them.

To all the people, whom I'm sure have never looked at this blog, who sneered at me for my, what some might call, "extreme" dedication to parenting and building a legacy, this post by Sarah makes me so, so, so, so, glad I did what I did and very, stinking proud that this woman is my daughter.

"Change" post:

My shin splints have been killing me lately, which means no running. I googled and found a site that shows supination and other common foot stances. I definitely have terrible supination in my right foot. That being said, I'm saving for new shoes that should help the issue and get me back running soon.

Yesterday I focused on core and upper body since I can't do what is eat to work into my schedule. I did two ten minute workouts, one for arms, shoulder and back, and the other geared towards the different muscles in the stomach. As I'm starting to plateau, I'm finding I have to mix up my routine and start working to build shape.

The first part is losing weight, the second part is reshaping and building on your new foundation with strength training. I'm still losing weight, just more slowly now. I'm struggling to fatigue muscle groups, because let's face it, it's not easy.

We are programmed to touch painful areas and quit when something feels hard. If your muscles aren't contacting and then shaking from the fatigue, you aren't damaging the tissue to force new growth. Practice a plank or a push up and hold it until your body shakes and you collapse. That is a good place to see results. You'll notice over time your strength improves and your holding time lengthens. A good workout will leave you feeling like jelly. To see the most results, 10 to 30 minutes of cardio first will help circulate the oxygen in the blood stream if you are strength training and will burn calories as it's jumpstarting your metabolism. Anything that forces your heart rate up is cardio.

When you are mindful of your diet (not dieting) and what goes into your body, you will look at food more like fuel and energy, which helps make it easier in choosing smarter choices. I still battle portion control, which is why I find it easier to eat all day (or every two hours). My goals are my own and the struggle sucks. It's easier to eat junk and skip workouts, not to mention inner battles and false negotiation. "If I eat this now, I'll workout harder later." Yeah right! I eat it now and skip my whole workout, haha. I have to constantly remind myself that even though it satisfies the taste buds momentarily, it wrecks havoc on the body and will ultimately sabotage my results and progress.

In the beginning I started this journey alone. Now I have layers of support through co-workers and friends; however not everyone is on-board. I feel like there are two sides; the side that wants to see me fail and the side that is rooting for me. I remind myself that I'm a big girl that made unhealthy decisions and that I alone have to correct that. Nobody is going to put the effort in for me. I'm surrounding myself with positive people with like-minded goals, who encourage progress and are judgment free. Healthy people with healthy attitudes lift others up.

Find what pushes you and motivates you to your dream. Remember that results don't happen overnight and if you cheat, you are only cheating yourself. Rise to the challenge, dream big, have long-term goals, change your lifestyle, and remember that people love you, not food. Ask for help and accept advice with an open mind. Take pictures often and journal your experience; this is a good way to reflect when you feel your progress is slow. Seek healing outside of your comfort zone and don't wait for change to come to you. Live your days guilt free with no regrets and love yourself and your body each day. Even when you can't see what others see and feel discouraged, love you for you.

This is a science and if you follow the steps, success is inevitable. Love you always!

Posted by Denise M. Baran-Unland at 6:04 AM

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Quick Guide to BryonySeries Social Media

Other than this blog, what are the other BryonySeries social media options? (for those dying to know...and a few who aren't).

Facebook: Daily postings of (mostly) curated content with comments and quotes as how they relate to the BryonySeries. Also there's some nice photo albums Sarah Stegall created on all sorts of topics: filming the trailers, the Magosky mansion, several Big Brothers Big Sisters fundraisers (VampFest, bowling, and a cooking demo/signing at BBBS). Check it out at

Twitter: Daily postings of curated content relating to anything supernatural (including vampires), tips for writers, recipes (relating to the Victorian era, the 1970s, or anything that looks good to me), dark or gothic Victorian poetry or short stories, and places to buy BryonySeries related items (everything from fairy dust to DIY Victorian dollhouse kits). Check it out at

Instagram: Totally devoted to Bertrand the Mouse and his adventures or life perspective. Generally one post a day. Check him out at

Interested in following just me? On Twitter, I post Herald-News content mostly, but I'm expanding into sharing blogs from other writer comrades. I'm at

And of course, there's the website at, a virtual Munsonville with plenty to read and see. Stop in at the site map at to find your way around the village.

Then visit Dalton's Dry Goods to purchase BryonySeries product (once the page is built, that is),

Other pages include:

Fetes and Feasts: For upcoming events.

Board of Trustees (still growing): Bios and links of other artists and professionals who helped with BryonySeries. Currently with a typos in its link, the hazard of my dyslexic (but very technically capable) daughter building the site.

Music Room: To learn more about John Simons and the real-life musician who brought his sound to life).

Steward of Tara: Meet the only actual person to appear in the books.

Darlene's Tour: A few quotes and "photos" of Munsonville, along with fake driving directions.

BBBS: Information about the nonprofit BryonySeries supports.

Sue's Diner: Weekly recipes and photos from the official BryonySeries fundraising cookbook.

Munsonville Library: A timeline of events relating to the BryonySeries publishing process. Woefully out of date (for now), but still worth checking out.

Harold Masters: For now contains a bit of original fiction by other authors but that will eventually change.

Munsonville Times: Links to BryonySeries in the news. Most of them are old links that no longer work but check back as we do add new ones.

Humane Society: A peek at the animals in BryonySeries.

Society: Short for "The Munsonville Society for the Humanities." Read BryonySeries reviews.

Promotions: None now, but that changes.

Press Kit: Blank, for now.

BryonySeries Videos: Trailers, music videos. We also have open mics and author interviews but they're not posted yet.

Visage Holiday Edition: A different cover and various appendixes not found in the official edition. Out of print. Visit this page to get a copy.

Snowbell: A BryonySeries short story available for purchase on Amazon or as free download on this page.

Monday, June 12, 2017

New Reviews, BryonySeries Website Updated

A family emergency took precedence over many of my goals for this weekend, but I did get a little work on Henry's chapter nine accomplished, and Rebekah and I did update the BryonySeries website.

The Society page has a new review for Bryony as well as reviews for Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone from students at Joliet Montessori.

Good reviews and bad reviews are both welcome. The books are meant to be read and enjoyed or not.

Read the reviews here:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sue's Diner: House Salad by Timothy Baran

Taking a social media break this weekend as I take care of a family emergency and get some work done. Social media postings should return tomorrow.

However, Rebekah and I did catch up on some website tasks, and we launch our weekly recipe postings on Sue's Diner.

For this week's recipe, a very nice side salad for warm weather: click here:

The recipe also appears in "Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from 'Bryony." Cookbook proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties.

To purchase the cookbook, visit

For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties, visit

Friday, June 9, 2017

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, June 4 through June 9

Last weekend was a busy on-call blur, I don't even recall my weekend plan list.

That said, here are my goals for this weekend:

Finish Henry's chapter nine. Ten is done, so finishing this one means only one more novel to go!

Fix the copy errors in Cornell (an independent party did the edits last weekend)

Add the Cornell reviews to the website.

Work on the second book in the Adventures of Cornell Dyer series: Cornell Dyer and the Necklace of Forgetfulness.

Art for the second Bertrand book (Bertrand's First Book of Numbers) is nearly done.

And be sure to check out the new look for Sue's Diner on Sunday, with links right here on this blog.

Now for my "real" writing.

Non-bylined work: the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Where to find them? Under the sections tab on the left hand side of Click on "features" and the topics drop down.

Gotta Do It, runs each Sunday.

Feature briefs for Monday (pets), Tuesday (health), Thursday (faith), Friday (arts and entertainment), and Sunday (people) are also edited (texted and photos) by the lady of this blog, but only the stories have bylines. I do try to post new content daily.

Another option: I do post the briefs and calendars on Twitter during the week, so you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61. And of course, I post curated content relating to the BryonySeries at @BryonySeries.

Thank you for reading The Herald-News.

Joliet resident caring for the homeless through a new foundation

Larry Mays’ foundation aims to lead people out of adversity

Mays said he’s been shot, served time, done drugs and sold drugs.

“God rescued me from all that,” Mays said. “I felt it was my obligation as a human being to go back and reach for some of those still lost.”

An Extraordinary Life: Joliet woman was a caring, hardworking survivor
Sally Conley beat the odds in so many ways

“How she made it to 82, I don’t know,” Kathy Conley, Sally's daughter, said. “She would say to me, ‘Why am I still here?’ And I would say, ‘Because you’re Irish and you’re stubborn, that’s why. And we’re fighters.’ ”

Pets of the Week: June 5

See what pets are available for adoption.

Mystery Diner: Aisha’s Southern Cuisine is a soul food experience

Before we left, I wanted to try the caramel cake ($3), but Aisha’s didn’t have any that day. That’s when my friend pointed out the dessert I’d overlooked: sweet potato cheesecake ($4.50).

Oh heart, be still.

Plainfield preschoolers make zen garden for memory care residents
School project at KLA Schools of Plainfield has therapeutic benefits

 “While learning about sand, we incorporated the many uses of sand, where sand comes from and how sand is developed,” Debbie Wozniak, preschool teacher, said. “From that, Sandy came up with the idea of a zen garden because zen gardens have sand in them.”

Sandy LeBlanc is the other, Wozniak, is another preschool teacher.

Artworks: Recreating the Philippines’ essence in art

This former abstract artist and retired teacher will exhibit three of her favorite pieces as well as several other prints on Saturday at the fourth annual Piyesta Pinoy Festival in Bolingbrook.

"They go back to my time, when I was a kid growing up, the things that I saw,” Tita Recometa Brady of Joliet said.

Cornerstone Services in Joliet to hold 3rd art show
By Jessica Spangler

Types of artwork will include drawings and paintings, weavings, photographs and decorated objects. Many artists will be present to answer questions. The photography portion of the show is new and incorporates commentary on why each photograph was taken.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Do You Know When Gatorade and Zinc Oxide Are Not Enough?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Do You Know When Gatorade and Zinc Oxide Are Not Enough?

When the heat index is 107!!!

Yes, deranged power walker that I am, I wound up with heat exhaustion Friday, and it's my own stupid fault.

With the soaring temperatures and humidity, I've really tried getting my walk out of the way first thing in the morning, but we all know how THAT can go.

Some days, the early mornings are just so busy that walks gets delayed until mid to late morning. Since I'm allergic to the sun and dehydrate very easily (as I sweat very little), I'm generally very cautious about pushing it in the sun.

Until this year.

The wonderful white goopy mixture of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide I plaster all over my skin before leaving the house has meant absolutely NO hiving, burning, welting, blistering etc., for the first time in several decades. Plus, I've found that crossing back to the house for Gatorade (Fierce Grape, what else?) I've not been plagued with tortuous foot cramps this year, either.

In fact, I've done so well, I've forgotten to be cautious. And therein lies my foolishness.

On Friday, I missed the morning walk due to end of the week deadlines and needing to accompany a cardiologist appointment with one of my sons. By mid-afternoon, with the most pressing deadlines out of the way, I decided to reward myself with a walk. It was already three o'clock; weren't the hours between ten a.m. and two p.m. considered the most dangerous?

Armed with the delusion that it was now safe for race-walking, I made sure I had a large bottle of Gatorade chilling in the refrigerator, gooped myself up, drank down a couple of glasses of water, grabbed head phones and bounded out the door.

By the time I'd rounded the first block, I was feeling the intense heat and briefly--and only briefly--wondered if I ought to turn back (I hear the choruses of "YES!!!" all the way here).

Instead, I rounded back to the house after twenty minutes, sprayed myself with water, guzzled some of the Gatorade and a big glass of water, and dashed back out the door.

I repeated this twice more (as the water quickly evaporated) and at the end of the hour (I usually walk ninety minutes), my surroundings suddenly became surreal. At first I decided I simply needed more fluids, but when home seemed very far away and hard to find, I decided to call it quits. As I stepped into the air conditioned house, my cell phone rang.

It was a friend who had been tried really hard to remove an ink stain from one of Timothy's chef coats. He, along with the rest of the Joliet Junior College's culinary competition team, are competing for the national title this week in Las Vegas. If the stain could have been removed, Timothy could have taken three chef coats with him. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

As my friend talked, and as I tried to babble out something sounding halfway coherent in response, I doused myself with water from the kitchen sprayer, polished off the rest of the Gatorade, and then began madly gulping water. I was dizzy, shaky, tingly, and just could not cool down. I said some hurried goodbyes (I think) and started drenching cloths and laying them over me. Rebekah suggested a cool shower, but I was afraid I might actually pass out in there.

It took two hours for the redness to leave my skin. I was somewhat rational by the time Fr. Joseph arrived for a Typica service (as Timothy was flying out Sunday morning, this Communion service acceptably replaced Sunday's Divine Liturgy).

By bedtime (no Friday Fiction for me, as I had two stories to cover the next day), the shakiness and tingling had diminished. I mostly felt spaced out, dizzy, and tired, and those feelings were still present the next morning.

By the time I left to cover the first event--a powwow--I had drunk over a gallon of water and was starting to improve. En route, I drank a quart of Gatorade. At the event, I drank two water bottles.

Then, because the newspaper wanted the story by five o'clock, I cancelled my attendance at the second event and arranged to obtain the information electronically and via phone.

Sunday morning, I was almost back to normal. It was cooler, so I took my customary walk. That fatigued me enough for a nap. After the nap, the ol' Denise had returned. I spent the rest of the day working.

This morning, I was out the door at eight o'clock, later than I wanted but still acceptable for my purposes. Hopefully, I have learned my lesson.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Inventing a Genre

Many of today's books are often described as "crossing genres," meaning they are not neatly categorized into one topic.

Although I often say I write Gothic vampire fiction, as it sort of describes the first book in the BryonySeries and prequel in progress, it's definitely out of place for books two and three and overall misleading when trying to find its audience.

Furthermore, readers of current vampire fiction have a certain fast-paced, paranormal expectation that they won't find in my books.

So I've spent some time researching genres and their descriptions trying to create one of my own. And now I have.

The BryonySeries is supernatural/literary.

Literary because it the books are (overall) slowly paced with a "slow, but steady build) with a emotionally introspective, character-driven plot.

Supernatural because they address the mysteries of life and death. Shadowy vampires, along with some paranormal and faint Celtic themes, lurk in the background with an overriding single theme: blood.

Now for the books:

Bryony: A 70’s teen trades her blood with a Victorian vampire for a trip back into time as his wife.

Visage: After trading her blood with a Victorian vampire, a 70’s teen plunges into a misleading contract, trapping her into another bargain to save a life.

Staked!: A 90's teen boy's delving into magic and immortality exposes identities, motives, and his
salvific mission. 

The prequel, Before the Blood, is a series of five incomplete novels told from four different points of views (John Simons, Kellen Wechsler, Henry Matthews, and Bryony Marseilles) that tell a complete story.

The first four novels provide background to the shaping of their characters and the motivations that drive their decisions, with everyone coming together in novel number five for the main events, a structure that's somewhat similar to a 1970's disaster film.

This better definition of genre, I feel, will help me find the audience. And I don't believe it will be a large audience.

But that's okay.

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Time to Work, A Time to be Challenged

I truly believe one is never too old to learn and to tackle new challenges.

This was certainly true for me this past weekend.

To be clear, I'm not complaining. I feel blessed, especially since it happened on a weekend when we commemorate the Holy Spirit.

Today I am tired, so the struggle is real.

But there is also an underlying exhilaration in being stretched far past my skills and what I used to consider my best.

Side note: Daniel very graciously did a copy edit this weekend on Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone. It was Rebekah's idea and a good one. Can't believe I didn't think of it. Just as soon as I have an opportunity to add his changes to the manuscript, we can reupload it. The goal is this weekend.

Ditto for the reviews from Joliet Montessori. Thank you for your patience.

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair." 2 Corinthians 4:8

Have a beautiful Monday,vampire fans. :)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Making New "Memories in the Kitchen"

Starting next Sunday, recipe postings from "Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from 'Bryony,'" will have a new look.

That's because Rebekah and I are making "new memories."

One of my goal when creating the cookbook was to actually prepare the food. I love to cook, and so do most of my children (half of them cook for a living). So during the gathering (of recipes) and editing process, which began in 2009, we also made remarks like, "I'll bet this would taste goo," and "I really want to make this."

But foreclosure, homelessness, and rebuilding, all while working many hours and tackling other projects, put that project on hold.

Until now.

Rebekah and I worked out a schedule for cooking, and we are working our way through the recipes. Each week, we will post a new recipe and photo of the finished project on the Sue's Diner page on the BryonySeries website.

Don't know what Sue's Diner is? Ah, it the "dingy, squat-looking building" on Main Street in the fictitious fishing village of Munsonville, a diner that serves "surprisingly good" food.

So Rebekah and I are preparing a variety of vintage recipes, ranging from the 18th century through the 1970s. And yes, those recipes will eventually include tongue and boiled calves head (although we will probably not cook opossum). 

We hope you enjoy the results and, perhaps, try some and make your own "memories in the kitchen."

And remember, all proceeds from "Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from 'Bryony'" benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties. Order your copy here:

Friday, June 2, 2017

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, May 28 through June 2

I have this one lone day of working on Before the Blood before my weekend editor duties commence, and I am relishing it.

So while the muse is still engaged, I'll just skip right to the stories.

First, the non-bylined work: the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Three of them can be found at this link:. Plenty of health briefs this week, as my health cover fell through. Be sure to check them out.

Gotta Do It, runs each Sunday and often stays on the home page throughout the week.

Feature briefs for Tuesday (health), Thursday (faith), Friday (Arts and Entertainment), and Sunday (People) are also edited (texted and photos) by the lady of this blog, but only the stories have bylines.

Another option: I do post the briefs and calendars on Twitter during the week, so you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61. And of course, I post curated content relating to the BryonySeries at @BryonySeries.

Just an FYI: On free days, holidays, and Sundays I'm not on call, I only post the blog to my "real" Twitter account, as my company insists we do take time off. I'm less reasonable, so unless I'm on a real vacation, I still post to the BryonySeries accounts.

FYI: videos have not been attaching to my Herald-News stories, although they do run for a time on the home page. You may also find them under the "videos" tab.

If you'd like to watch a video, and it's not showing up for you, message me, and I'll manually attach it. No worries for this week, though, although I will have videos for Sunday.

Thank you for reading The Herald-News.

Plainfield man accidentally discovers his connection to American Legion post

Jim Smith is last living link to American Legion Marne Post 13

Jim learned that his father enlisted in the U.S. Army on Feb. 11, 1917. He did his basic training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, and then was sent to Texas as a mounted cavalry in pursuit of Pancho Villa along the border.

“I can’t imagine my father galloping on a horse,” Jim said. “Then they entered the war and turned all these cavalry men into infantry men, and he was in one of the first troops that went to France.”

An Extraordinary Life: Lockport couple's love immortalized in decorative brick
John Guenard created a tribute to his wife, Irene

“It was his way of letting mom know he loves and misses her,” Jenny Lietke of Lockport, their daughter, said. “Neighbors were impressed. ... What a love story – if we all could have that kind of love.”

Pets of the Week: May 30

Click on the caption of each photo to find out about that pet, including where he or she can be adopted.

Despite new name and location, Joliet center still fosters independence in people with disabilities
Disability Resource Center advocates, teachers, supports and empowers

Missy Martin, interim director for the Disability Resource Center in Joliet while executive director Pam Heavens is on leave, said the center receives many calls with requests for senior housing.

That was the main reason why the former Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living in Joliet is now doing business as the Disability Resource Center. But the center is, and will always be, a place that helps people with disabilities to live independently, Martin said.

“We served a little over 738 last year,” Martin said.

Giovan’s in Crest Hill serves family-style Italian food

If you like generous servings, Giovan’s is the place for you. My sandwich had enough Italian beef for two meals, so I ate half the sandwich and thick-cut chips there and brought the rest home for later.

Joliet woman writes inspirational book based on Proverbs 31
Teneise Chandler explores the concept of Christian womanhood in new book

The Proverbs 31 ideal, Chandler realized, is a woman who is skilled, willing to work and provide for her household, a storehouse of wisdom and an angel to the poor. She is someone who is worth more than rubies.

“So many girls don’t know what they’re worth,” Chandler said. “When they don’t know what they’re worth, anyone can come along and beat them up.”

The Joliet Rocket offers a VIP experience into the 1940s

“Everyone knows what the Polar Express is,” said Kelly Lynch, vice president of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society Inc. “This is the Polar Express that operates more than one day a year.”

Artworks: Morris venue to host stage adaptation of 'The Birds'
Nonprofit Latitude 41 to produce stage show of classic suspense story

“It’s very much a character piece,” Director Al Pindell of Shorewood said. “It’s a little bit of a thriller; it has twists and turns. And while you don’t see the birds in the play, you hear them. They’re constantly present in the show with all kinds of bird sounds, in addition to the scratching and thumping as they try to get into the house.”

Thursday, June 1, 2017

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Dress Like Melissa

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dress Like Melissa

Although Bryony contains a few descriptions of how Melissa and her friends dressed in 1975--with the exception of Kimberly, this was mostly jeans, T-shirts, and sweaters--the book gives much more attention to Victorian fashion. Since the story is told through Melissa's perspective, she naturally is more aware of the unusual clothing than her everyday wear.

However, especially for the younger reader, if you're curious about what else teen '70's girls (and boys) wore, check out this link.