Friday, April 28, 2017

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, April 23 through April 28

Bits and soundbites today:

A tragic week for Joliet: Timeline: The disappearance and death of Preston Heights toddler Semaj Crosby: http://www.theherald-news.com/2017/04/27/timeline-the-disappearance-and-death-of-preston-heights-toddler-semaj-crosby/asw2vv3/

A productive week for Before the Blood and my features section, as I worked ahead a bit.

A story given to me via the news section as it was too feature-y and long for news, which helped me get ahead this week and gave me time to put together Women of the Year and collaborate with a colleague and Top 25 Students, much appreciated.

A productive week, exercise-wise, as I'm nearly back to my pre-flu routine.

A frustrating week for the BryonySeries website, which we are addressing.

A few glitches with The Herald-News new website. For instance, uploading videos to stories displaces the photos and multiple photos don't always appear with the stories when viewed via desktop, although they now show up on mobile devices, the opposite case with the previous site. So if you're viewing Pets of the Week on your desktop, you'll only see one pet. Hopefully this is soon resolved.

An overly full day of interviews starting at 10 a.m. and continuing through 5 p.m. - with tight deadlines before and after.

Treating today as a regular work day. Hoping to leave around 6-ish tonight to update the budget and get to bed early so I can write fiction in the very early morning and spend the day running a errands and working.

Am totally looking forward to a fiction weekend next weekend.

And now...

First, the non-bylined work: the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Three of them can be found at this link:. http://www.theherald-news.com/lifestyle/

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.


Former Lockport resident finds the cause of his life in Syria
By SARWAT S. AHMAD Shaw Media correspondent

Kahler said he has devoted most of his life to providing medical care to underserved areas, not only as a medical missionary but also in the 34 years he worked at Cook County Hospital in Chicago.

But in the last four years, after a bout with cancer, “something changed in him” and he began to view his purpose differently.



Women of the Year

The Herald-News continues its long-standing tradition of recognizing women and the valuable contributions they make to their communities. The following women, about two dozen in all, are being recognized as the 2017 “Woman of the Year” by their churches and organizations.



JCA and JTHS students awarded 2017 Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry Top 25 Students

The 75 students from these three schools received proclamations from State Senators Pat McGuire and Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.



An Extraordinary Life: Plainfield pastor hosted wild game dinners to bring hunters to God
Rick Mullan desired all to know the gospel for the right reasons

Yet the wild game dinner was not bait to get people into the church. In fact, in a 2015 Herald-News story, Rick stressed the necessity of being authentic, especially to outdoorsmen.

“Be real,” Rick said. “They can smell when someone is not authentic.”



Pets of the Week: April 24

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



Mystery Diner: 12 Handles' taco special worth a Monday night visit

I ordered the chicken tinga tacos, with pulled chicken, crispy potatoes, roasted chili crema, lettuce and pickled onion, and headed to the drink menu.



Celebrating 50 years this weekend, Joliet church is seeing a resurgence in growth
Church puts no limits on what God can do

Pastoring a small congregation brought challenges Tyler Hubbell, 25,  hadn’t anticipated.

“For instance, when I was first here, I watched a lot of YouTube videos about how to fix things around the building,” Tyler said. “There was no one available to do those things.”



Admission to annual Corvette show benefits Easterseals Joliet Region
Corvettes Unlimited hosting annual show at Hawk Chevrolet

“People are just fascinated with Corvettes so they go to see different kinds,” Debbie Slaboszewski said. “I think they’re unique. The body style is different. They’re fast. And they’re pretty. I know guys don’t want to say a car is pretty, but they are. They’re very nice-looking vehicles.”



Artworks: Teen Manhattan vocalist encourages young people to be creative
Teen vocalist Micaela Beck doesn’t limit her artistic expression

“She has highly relative pitch, which is very rare, and she has wonderful tone quality,” Gregory Day, Beck's voice teacher, said. “Her musicianship is very, very high and years beyond her chronological age. She has all the pieces of the puzzle to make the puzzle complete as a musician.”






Thursday, April 27, 2017

Throwback Thursday Canceled in Favor of Website Whining

So we returned to bleak and veered to hopeful, all in two hours.

Apparently GoDaddy's mobile view is extremely limited in what one can hyperlink and where. Rebekah discovered it while working on the site. So she called GoDaddy, and tech support confirmed it.

Last night, she began experimenting with other sites. With seven books published and more to come, and with two BryonySeries-related products available, a CD of original piano music and soy candles in five scents (and hopefully more product to come), we cannot afford NOT to hyperlink.

This is the upgrade???

Soon after Rebekah hung up, we received one of those "tell us how we did, we'd love your feedback" survey." I passed.

OK, whining done.

We've got our attention on this website issue and won't let it go until resolved.

Updates to follow.

In the meantime, if you'd like to check out the existing website (on a desktop), now's the time because it's going away: www.bryonyseries.com.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Website: Maybe Not So Bleak

So quick update from yesterday's dirge.

Rebekah played around with more templates yesterday and did two and half sample pages.

We are encouraged. And the mobile view looked great.

She did run into one small snag, so we'll call GoDaddy after work. No sense in her continuing if we can't resolve it.

Now, how long it will take for us to get the new site up and running is a huge unknown.

But short bursts (kinda like I do with most of my fiction-writing) is sure to get us to the finish line, methinks.

The End.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Website Woes Continue, Seeking Help

I'm totally clueless when it comes to building websites.

Sarah created a beautiful one from a GoDaddy template and its stock photos, her first website attempt, in 2010, but this was back when most people logged onto websites from desktops or laptops.

In short, the mobile view sucks. And not in vampire lore sucks.

When she built it, I had two visions for the site: a place for basic information about my books and where to buy them.

A journey through a virtual Munsonville was the second. Sarah accomplished both. 

But GoDaddy's answer to our problem is "start over."

Seriously???

The problem is that no one has that kind of time. When Sarah built the website, she was a full-time mom of one preschooler and was seeking a creative outlet. She gained great skills while helping me, which she now uses in her very full-time job.

Rebekah is trying to learn, but honestly, she works many hours, too. But she's fiddled with the new GoDaddy templates and isn't a fan. She can't get the "look" right.

And it's heartbreaking to take it all down.

So here we are.

Our budget is limited, and our skills more so.

But if anyone wants to help, we are open to it.

To view the current website (on a computer, not your phone), go here: www.bryonyseries.com.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Staying the Course

Although it's often frustrating finding enough time to work on my fiction projects (and I had to stop far too soon on Saturday for a work-related project), and I feel progress is slower than I wish, I'm quite encouraged by the amount I'm able to accomplish in my thirty-minute increments (most mornings).

These short bursts sharpen my focus, whether it's self-editing, honing in on a character description or scene, or filling in sections of the current chapter.

Although I love the increasingly rarer opportunities for spending many long hours composing, I'm nevertheless amazed at what I can do these tiny amounts of time.

During the in-between times, when I'm contemplating rather than actively writing, I'm able to mentally structure, a good antidote to writer's block.

This morning's surprise: I'm farther along in Henry's seventh chapter in Before the Blood than I previously thought. With hopeful stance and fingers crossed, I'm looking to finish it up within the week.

Anyway, these are my musings this Monday morning. Enjoy the day, vampire fans! :)


Sunday, April 23, 2017

2017 Sunday of St. Thomas Potluck


In the Eastern Orthodox church, every Sunday of the Easter season has a theme. The second Sunday is the Sunday of St. Thomas, and our church traditionally has a church potluck to celebrate the day.






Poppy seed potica, my favorite. One of our senior members brings this from a Serbian bakery, yum!


Blessing of the food




Saturday, April 22, 2017

Steward Setback Saturday: Twenty Questions with Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Twenty Questions with Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara


When I first started the BryonySeries blog in 2011, I posted this Q&A with the real Ed Calkins in several installments. We did this interview months before the release of the first book, and it has never again been published.

Now for the first time, in living black and purple, is the entire interview with the man that ficionalized himself and allowed me to fictionalize him further for the series.

Just to clarify: Ed Calkins is a real person. He really lives somewhere Chicago-ish and was a supervisor for one of the agents when The Herald-News circulation passed from The Sun Times to the Chicago Tribune. I reported to Ed for my Marycrest route.

Having missed his Ed Calkins parade several years in a row, I offered, as consolation, a one-page monthly newsletter for his imaginary world or a spot in my series as a vampire. His response was, "Immortality, of course."

My attorney drew up the necessary paperwork for Ed to sign off himself. Seriously.

No Ed, is not insane, but wonderfully creative. If you want to know Ed, read the novels, for I dutifully scrawled on brown paper wrapping snatches of conversation overheard in passing at the distribution center while Ed handed out papers or in longer conversations by phone to weave in real dialogue with the imaginary dialogue and overall character arc.

I also spent much time with him, getting to know his "ruthless dictator" persona, as to accurately portray it. In a wonderful and truly humbling act of trust, Ed did not want to read any drafts; rather, he wanted the experience of his fictional self however I chose to write it, a very literary and legally-bound, "Do with me as you will."

It was marvelously empowering.

PS: I did such a good writerly job with Ed that one day, after Timothy had been out of the distribution center for a year attending Joliet Junior College and working at the Renaissance Center, he offered to help us roll papers one night and ran into Ed.

Ed said something to the effect of, "Wow, I haven't see you in a long time." Timothy blinked, yes, literally blinked, in surprise, for he had been reading drafts of Staked! as I had chaptered it off and felt as if he'd seen Ed every day.

Any blog post on this series attributed to Ed was really written by Ed. Just so you know.

And now, the interview:


        1)      Who is the ruthless dictator?

“My son was doing a lot of role playing games, and he was trying to come up with a bard and give him magical powers. I told him there was no need coming up with magical items, because bards are already too powerful, providing they’re not trying to seek notoriety for themselves. Ruthless dictators are not afraid to die. They’re just afraid of how they’ll be remembered. It’s not effective to compose a song or a limerick or an epic poem glorifying yourself. You’ve got to have other people saying it about you. Why not cut the military in half and invent some really good limericks? You can really insult someone into submission.”


2)      Why did you invent him?

“I was bullied as a boy, so it came from the way I would get back at bullies. I would think something negative about them, because verbalizing it wouldn’t go well. In my mind, I called it even. The ruthless dictator really started when I got a ticket running a stop sign when I was delivering newspapers on a really snowy day. If I had stopped, I would never have gotten going again. I really thought the ticket was unfair. As revenge, I picked ten people out f the phone book and thought bad things about them. My wife thought that was pretty corny. Later, I took over the entire town. I didn’t have to conquer a nation. It just had to be a place, at least metaphorically. It had to have its own identity.”


3)      What was your reaction when asked to become part of a vampire novel?

“I was nervous at revealing my ignorance about vampires. I didn’t know a lot about it. I worked quickly to remedy it.”


4)      Why did you accept?

“Immortality, of course. I can’t think about myself in everything. I have to think about 1,000 years from now, and if there’s going to be a three-day holiday in my name or not. There’s a side of me that thinks this could be goofy enough to think this could actually happen.”


5)      Weren’t you afraid of how you might be portrayed?

“No, and a lot of that comes from my survival mechanism as a kid. I learned to play along with the bullies rather than fight them. Part of my comedic outreach is self-deprecating, so it didn’t really seem that anything negative could hurt me. The ruthless dictator would say, ‘Look, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.’ King Midas is much better off than King Midas the Second, even though he was portrayed in a bad light, because nobody remembers King Midas the Second.”

.
6)      What if fans expect the real Ed Calkins to be similar to the fictional Ed Calkins?

“He is like him. There’s just that side of him. He’s significant in an offbeat way, enough to where he can claim the stewardship of Tara without blushing.”


7)      The Irish have no solid vampire legends. How do you feel about being the first, real Irish vampire?

“I think other people will make more of that than I will. Being known as the Steward of Tara is more of a crowing achievement in my mind.”


8)      Where did your love of Irish lore and history begin?

“It started with my love of history. Then I looked into mythology, and I used to tell my son a lot of tales and legends. When he reached high school and heard the same thing, my credibility rose in his eyes. One thing I had told him that wasn’t really true is that Ireland was always a backwash of European history, unless your interest is war. Then, it is probably true. There were many Irish warriors. It’s just they tended to be fodder; they were never fighting for IrelandIreland is probably the only place where you get a sense of what pre-Christianity was about, so if you want to know Ireland, just study its myth. Even before I was really into being Irish, I had a disdain for the Roman Empire, which, I think, gave me a bias toward the Irish. In all honesty, I’m American, but my heritage is Irish. It only takes going to Ireland to know that.”


9)      How did you research your Irish heritage?

“I’ve read a lot of books. Also, as a college freshman, I got put into an Irish literature course, which I wasn’t very interested in it at the time. I’m not one of those people who have forgotten much of what they learned in college. So it stayed with all these years in a recessive way. The problem is that I’m very bad with names. The proper study of Irish mythology involves heroes, kings, and saints, in that order. They are alive today through the last names. I just don’t know who these people are.”


      10)   When did you begin writing?

“I started with poetry. In the eighth grade I wrote poem that resonated a little bit.        So, throughout high school, I wrote poetry. I was an editor of the literary magazine and the editor in chief the last year. Something bizarre about me is that I can’t finish anything. I have these really organized fantasies, but I’m not a wordsmith. I just lost my hard drive, which means I lost everything I’ve written for the last twenty years. I should be beside myself, but I’m not, because none of the pieces were really finished


       11)   What have you written?

“I actually wrote a historical fiction novel when I was in high school. I had a         fascination for Hannibal, so I put myself on the other side facing Hannibal’s army. I didn’t really know how to handle it, but I did write it.”


        12)   How had you shared your writings in the past?

“I posted them. When I was working on my trilogy, someone would send me an e-mail that said, “Send me your story,” and I’d send them a few chapters. Then I’d get another email saying, ‘That was great. Send me some more.’ So, a lot of it was praise-driven. The problem is that twenty years have passed. The protagonist has become darker and the eroticism is no longer interesting, I hate to admit. In my mind, I’ve reduced the second book to a single, short story. Also, every novel I’ve written was also an idea for a game. I had done a really good job of writing the games, again not finished. The smallest details completely derail a project for me.

13)    How do you overcome writer’s block?

“The truth is I don’t. My writing block is fear. By the time I do write, it’s only because the ideas have been spilling out over and over and over again through my mind, to where it’s enough already. The details have become an irritant, so I just sit down and write.”


14) What motivates you to compose a limerick?

   “I get ticked off, and my mind starts putting lines together. It’s different with limericks because I don’t have to actually write them. A limerick is not fine art. Because of its structure, a kindergartener is just as good as composing limericks as an adult.”


          15)  Why is legacy important to you?

“I think it’s fascinating to me in the same way history is. Think of Sue, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, which lived approximately 25 million years ago and compare that to the 6,000 years of civilization. In the eyes of God, dinosaurs must be a statement of survivability. Humanity is still an experiment in its infancy. When all is said and done, the history of humans is going to be a lot more significant than the bones of a creature, but we’re not there yet. We’re gong to have to start with many things, including being a lot older than 6,000 years. Maybe there won’t be an Ed Calkins parade that 6,000 years old, but maybe there will a 1,000 years old Ed Calkins Day parade, which will create the much larger tradition of there still being parades.”


16) How did the idea for Ed Calkins day parade originate?

“I discovered that my birthday and Valentines Day had a little conflict when I started dating my wife. The first year I was dating her, we went out and celebrated my February 13th birthday. Guess what happened on the fourteenth?  I didn’t have Valentine for her. That offended her at the time. My defense was, ‘Come on, it was my birthday.’ I guess where started. Then I started joking with other people that my birthday should be a national holiday. When you couple that with Lincoln’s birthday and the stars aligned in the sky, you can see it was meant to be.”


17)  You’re famous for cookouts, Queen of Christmas contests, candy canes and Santa hat distribution and palette jack races. Why host these things?

“Have fun, of course. Distribution centers can be so dreary. If everyday is like the last, no one wants to get up.


18)   Do you own a kilt?

“I used to, but I gave it away to my brother. It no longer fit, at the waistline. So, currently, I do not have a kilt. They’re not cheap. They can cost a couple hundred dollars.”


19)  For what occasions did you wear it?

“Initially I wore it St. Paddy’s day. I wore it the whole day. I was I in newspapers and, yeah, I went to work with it. My wife wouldn’t let me do it after I married her. It happened this way. I have a way of not taking care of garments. When I was starting to date her, most of my jeans had holes in them. She takes care of her possessions. That how I knew we were serious when she started washing my clothes. But when a woman starts washing your clothes, she gets to say what get discarded and what gets kept. You know my striped shirts? Those were her idea. My wife now dresses me. I used to dress differently.


20)  What are your plans for this blog?

“I’d like make some myths of my own, but that won’t start until the book comes out. I’m thinking it might be fun to add different side stories of the character into the blog, but maybe, too, I might be able to introduce some of the traditional Irish myths. I’ve been wanting write something about the interplay of state fairs in Ireland. There were laws concerning them, such as you couldn’t arrest anyone during a fair and you could not engage in war. All combat had to be resolved before a fair was scheduled to start. I’d also like to write about the Knights of the Red Branch and maybe some adventure that happens to some of the knights. That’s the neat thing about a blog. Speaking from the character, if something doesn’t fit, or if there is something else I want to say, I can always come back with, ‘I was just joking. Here’s what really happened.’ I’m very excited about this. I feel I’m getting closer to that three-day holiday.”





Friday, April 21, 2017

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, April 16 through April 21

WHEW! As you can see below, it has been one busy week.

Because, yes, as our news editor puts it, I'm a one-woman show. I write or edit nearly everything that goes in the features section and take most of my own photos and videos, too, definitely not the quality of our photo editor, but, hey! I do try.

And speaking of trying, I'm apologizing in advance for any typos. Blogger's spellcheck is not working, and it's instructed me to "try later."

Um, no.

Second apology of the day: My illustrator for "Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone" found a few typos. It a appears the wrong version was uploaded (we reverted to an earlier version because the recent version wound up with formatting issues). However, my illustrator is also better at formatting than we are, so she is going to help us and re-upload. So the book is still available until then, but buyer beware...

After a few weekends of minimal fiction-writing (the flu, weekend editor, a semi-working Easter weekend), I am looking forward of immersing myself in Before the Blood tomorrow (after early morning blood work and a few errands and before a work obligation later in the evening.

And now...

First, the non-bylined work: the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Three of them can be found at this link:. http://www.theherald-news.com/lifestyle/

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.


Right hat for the right era: Will County Historical Museum exhibits vintage hats and accessories (VIDEO EXTRA)
See history through hats at Lockport museum

“People don’t wear hats nowadays except for utilitarian hats,” Susan Marbes, co-curator, said. “These have more character and flair to them. How much hats meant to women – it was part of the total woman.”



Photos: A glimpse of the vintage hat display in Lockport

Take a peek at some of the vintage hats now on display at the Will County Historical Museum and Research Center in Lockport.



Photos: Trying on vintage hats in Lockport

While covering the story about vintage hats at the Will County Historical Musuem in Lockport, the curators invited me to try on some hats.



Mission Easter Hat: Seeking the perfect 1 in Joliet

On Palm Sunday, Rebekah and I headed over to Louis Joliet Mall in Joliet with two missions: an Easter hat for me and an Easter purse for her (Rebekah doesn’t like hats, but she does love big purses).



An Extraordinary Life: Life was an adventure to history-loving, bus-driving Joliet man
Anthony ‘Butch’ Tadey found adventure in life and organized the same for others

Ray Strle, Butch’s friend of 60-plus years, who described him thus, said Butch had an extensive knowledge of history (especially World War II), an inexhaustible capacity for great ideas and a natural leadership style.

“He would just invent these things and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’” Ray said. “He always had interesting ideas, so [we] went along with it.”



New Lenox woman discusses her battle with 'the suicide disease'
Nicole Ferguson is raising awareness of invisible illness

She recalled the first bolt, while having lunch with her parents in 1993.

“It was excruciating, like a lightning shock to the skull,” Ferguson said. “I felt like my skull was being tightened in a vise and electrocuted at the same time.”



Mystery Diner: Mamma Onesta's serving fine Italian food for 8 years in Lockport

One step inside and we were struck by its Old World elegance and café charm.



Christian artist Audrey Assad will perform in Plainfield on April 21

She’s especially passionate about four topics: pornography addiction, Catholicism, womanhood and Syrian refugees. Assad may share on these or others at the upcoming concert.

http://www.theherald-news.com/2017/04/18/christian-artist-audrey-assad-will-perform-in-plainfield/axepq7e/



As New Lenox Park District recreation director retires, she looks back on the district's growth

Shirley Braglia’s love for recreation, which began in her childhood, even before her first job as a day camp counselor for the Chicago Park District.

That was 1972. Braglia was 13 and said she was paid $1 a day “to keep kids entertained.” Braglia had her own group of 10 to 15 children, which she moved from station to station.

Camp went from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. five days a week for six weeks. It also was free, although campers brought their own lunches.



Artworks: Joliet cafe displaying nature photography through end of April (VIDEO EXTRA)

The photographer, John Kessler, stresses he is not a professional photographer.

“I’m just an old man trying to take good pictures,” Kessler said.





Thursday, April 20, 2017

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday "Easter Week" by Joyce Kilmer

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Week by Joyce Kilmer

Not only is this poem Victorian, it references Ireland and Robert Emmet, both part of the Bryony theme.


"Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,

It's with O'Leary in the grave."

Then, Yeats, what gave that Easter dawn

A hue so radiantly brave?


There was a rain of blood that day,

Red rain in gay blue April weather.

It blessed the earth till it gave birth

To valour thick as blooms of heather.


Romantic Ireland never dies!

O'Leary lies in fertile ground,

And songs and spears throughout the years

Rise up where patriot graves are found.


Immortal patriots newly dead

And ye that bled in bygone years,

What banners rise before your eyes?

What is the tune that greets your ears?


The young Republic's banners smile

For many a mile where troops convene.

O'Connell street is loudly sweet

With strains of Wearing of the Green.


The soil of Ireland throbs and glows

With life that knows the hour is here

To strike again like Irishmen

For that which Irishmen hold dear.


Lord Edward leaves his resting place

And Sarsfield's face is glad and fierce.

See Emmet leap from troubled sleep

To grasp the hand of Padraic Pearse!


There is no rope can strangle song

And not for long death takes his toll.

No prison bars can dim the stars

Nor quicklime eat the living soul.


Romantic Ireland is not old.

For years untold her youth shall shine.

Her heart is fed on Heavenly bread,

The blood of martyrs is her wine. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday 2017

Slept in...

Worked several hours...

And then headed out to McKinley Woods in Channahon in our old neighborhood to for a picnic, walk, and to bask in the beauty of the resurrection.

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!




Friday, April 14, 2017

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, April 9 through April 14

Short sleep this past weekend equaled insomnia for Denise and a miserable start to this past week. Just as I got this whole sleeping thing refigured out, I'm back into late night/short sleep for Holy Week.

Today, however, I plan to relay on being kind to myself and extra coffee (and maybe a couple of cat naps), along with sleeping in the next couple of days, since we have the midnight services Saturday night.

I hope this doesn't sound like complaining. It's the holiest week of the entire year, and I'm mostly feeling blessed. Despite my long work hours, I also have a job with tremendous flexibility, and I'm feeling especially thankful this morning for that flexibility --and for a loving God who sent His Son into the world that I may not perish (when I deserve that and more) but have eternal life.

If you only click on one link today, be certain to check out the beautiful church art, photographed by Herald-News photo editor Eric Ginnard.

And now...

First, the non-bylined work: the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Three of them can be found at this link:. http://www.theherald-news.com/lifestyle/

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.



New CEO for Center for Disability Services in Joliet has clear vision for the role

Not ready to retire, Randy Chapman now serves individuals with disabilities

Randy said he enjoys watching staff interact with the individuals.

“I’d love to just sit down with them on the floor some morning, or afternoon, and watch them – and perhaps engage,” Randy said.



An Extraordinary Life: Joliet anesthesiologist was 'intense, ambitious and goal-oriented'
Dr. Hazami Khater understood surviving and thriving

“She was as much in control as was humanly possible,” Russell Khater, her son, said. “To be ready for things when they happen, that’s who she was. ... She had a lot of joy in security.”



Pets of the Week: April 10

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

http://www.theherald-news.com/2017/04/05/pets-of-the-week-april-10/a6joaw7/


9-year-old autistic boys from Joliet and Plainfield making progress, thanks to their moms
Jennifer Martillo and Martha Hernandez advocate for autistic sons

Both Jennifer Martillo of Plainfield and Martha Hernandez of Joliet handpicked their sons’ schools, and sought therapy and extracurricular activities that best suited the boys’ needs

http://www.theherald-news.com/2017/03/31/9-year-old-autistic-boys-from-joliet-and-plainfield-making-progress-thanks-to-their-moms/aq290j5/


Mystery Diner: Baby Back Blues' ribs are worth the trip

I had a hard time stopping myself from trying to eat them all with the sweet barbecue sauce. The meat was tender enough to easily tear off the bone but didn’t fall off by itself. And the taste was hard to match.



Joliet area residents share their favorite foods for Passover, Holy Week and Easter

Celebrate faith this week with special foods

Mixed in with the spiritual services are spiritual reasons for food prepared during this time. Here’s a glance at several traditions – and a few recipes – used by Joliet area residents.




Photos: Journey through Good Friday with art from 3 Joliet area churches

From the frescoes in catacombs to the majesty filling the Sistine Chapel in Rome, artists through time have depicted major events of Jesus' life.

http://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2017/04/10/b6dbbf2562ec4a409ed6b9c78db7f88b/index.xml

Thursday, April 13, 2017

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Laugh

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Laugh

I never realized how much we laughed, until I had recently had hernia surgery.

My twenty-year-old son Timothy, especially, can find humor in everyday situations, to the extent that I often had to send him out of the room because laughing post-surgery really hurt.

I am convinced, though, that part of our family's ability to survive grim events is because we poke hilarious fun at our circumstances, whatever they may be. Some of our jokes are very strange, so I won't quote anything here, but...

Everyone finds something funny. If you haven't had a good laugh in awhile and life is looking a little gray, maybe you're long overdue. Resources abound, especially online, so give yourself permission for a hearty laugh today.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Playing With Mood

"Show, don't tell," is great for scenes, less so for mood.

When I say "mood," I don't mean "emotion," for which "show" works wonderfully well for drawing the reader into what a character is feeling.

I'm referring to something subtle and somewhat intangible, a sense the reader discerns, that something wonderful or not is about to happen.

How do I create it? I play with a combination of techniques.

I show, I tell.

I fiddle with expressing the tone with similes and metaphors to the extent of thickly spreading cheese over the prose.

I move synonyms around like chess pieces.

I mold and squeeze together all of the above, like a baker kneads bread.

In the midst of this muck, the aura I wish to convey emerges.

When I can define this undefinable, I whip out the shears and start pruning and cutting every piece that doesn't contribute to the atmosphere.

First drafts, you see, aren't always straightforward. Sometimes they're a jumbled, disorganized mess of impressions. It's the author's job to make order from this chaos.

That's called writing.







Monday, April 10, 2017

The First Cornell Dyer Book is Released - Finally!

It was a project I began in 2013 before the well failed at our house in Channahon, and we had to move in a hurry.

The goal was to release three Cornell Dyer chapter books for children in third to seventh grades (depending on reading level and ability) and four Bertrand the Mouse books.

Since then, it's been one each. But the release of Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone comes with a bonus I've not had with the other books: ten students at a local Montessori school who have offered to read and review the book as a class project.

Did you hear my excited whoops?

After nine months of being displaced at my mother's house, I was hired at The Herald-News and four of us finally moved into a four-room apartment - and a year later upgraded to a two-bedroom townhouse.

I've continued to write and learn. More importantly, the people who help me with the skills I don't have, continue to learn and help me.

I still have a goal of three Cornell and our Bertrand a year. A Christmas Bertrand book is ready for formatting and a third is in the works. I've already begun a second Cornell book and had some initial art talks with my "Cornell" illustrator Sue Midlock.

Eventually, Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone will be available on the bryonseries website. Please be patient, as we (meaning Rebekah and Sarah) are working on upgrading that website to mobile friendly.

I'm also contemplating the best social media forum for Cornell. I have some vague ideas for adding puzzles and games to the website, but I'd like a social media spot for the series, too. Ideas welcome.

In the meantime, order it from Amazon here: https://goo.gl/H6bOeZ

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Grandma Anna’s Blintzes By Karen Larson

Neither Melissa nor Brian felt at ease during the unfamiliar church services in memory of their own grandmother, Grandma Marchellis. The array of delicious food at the potluck luncheon that followed was more appealing. 
\
This was especially true for Brian, who had heaped his plate high with the following dishes, including this one dedicated to the submitter's grandmother.


Grandma Anna’s Blintzes
By Karen Larson

Filling:
1 16 ounce container dry cottage cheese
1 16 ounce package Farmer’s cheese
¼ to ½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
Sprinkle salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 rounded tablespoon sour cream
Batter:
½ stick softened butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 rounded teaspoons sour cream
Sprinkle salt
2 cups flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
¼ to ½ teaspoon sugar
2 cups milk (may substitute cream or half and half)

Mix all filling ingredients and refrigerate. Mix dry ingredients then add milk a little at a time. Beat and stir for about 2 minutes after each addition until no lumps are visible.  The consistency of the batter should be like heavy cream.  Let rest at room temperature while you prepare the cakes. Heat skillet until watery bubbles dance. Pour batter thinly throughout the pan (tilt throughout the pan). Lift out when edges start to brown (pancake itself does not have to be brown). Flip and cook a few seconds. Place flat on plate.

Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling on edge of pancake. Roll and tuck ends. Brown and serve with sour cream.


Note from Karen Larson: “My grandmother and great-grandmother were both born in Russia (near Moscow) and emigrated to the states with her younger sister in the 1920’s.”



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

All proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties. www.bbbswillgrundy.org.

Order the cookbook at www.bryonyseries.com.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, April 2 through April 7

Running a bit behind this morning, not quite up to par yet. I'm the weekend editor, too, so still trying to take it a bit easy AND work, a daunting task.

And now...

First, the non-bylined work: the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Three of them can be found at this link:. http://www.theherald-news.com/lifestyle/

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.


Frankfort woman and Palestinian native recognized for educational contributions to Arabic youth

Hala Tibi Qato takes a diverse approach when teaching the Arabic language and religion

The students read Arabic literature and listen to Arabic radio broadcasts. They put on skits in Arabic and play charades in Arabic. Qato found the students enjoyed role-playing, which impacted their love for the language.



An Extraordinary Life: Born in Italy, Irma Kump blossomed in Joliet
Irma Kump lived altruistically and artistically, in her own fashion

Her son Timothy S. Kump said she leaves behind “a spirit of unselfishness” and called her life “a guide to how to treat people and live decently. 

"She was telling me, ‘Everyone is so nasty today,’ ” Timothy said. “ ‘Let’s do a campaign, design a button and tell everyone two words: Be nice.’ ”



Pets of the Week: April 3

The Herald-News presents this week's Pets of the Week. Click on the caption of each photo to find out about that pet, including where he or she can be adopted.



Joliet urologist offers new treatment for enlarged prostate
By Jeanne Millsap

Joliet urologist Dr. Gregory Andros, of Advanced Urology Associates, said he’s been using a new procedure to correct BPH called UroLift and is getting better results than he has seen with other nonsurgical methods of treatment.



Mystery Diner: Easy to see why Cemeno's Pizza was rated the best

Pizza isn’t the only food option here, it was just the only option I was going after. They also have an assortment of appetizers, from $5.49 garlic breadsticks to $10.99 for eight of Joe’s Hot Wings or the combo snack with onion rings, zucchini, mozzarella sticks, cheddar nuggets and breaded mushrooms.



Joliet's East Side Knights of Columbus still serving up faith, fraternity and fish
At 60, Knights of Columbus Council 4400 active, strong

“It reaffirms your faith,” Rodney Van Der Karr of Joliet, a longtime member, said. “A couple times a year, we meet to say the rosary, stuff like that. There’s good Catholic men there.”



Joliet school to skate through literature in annual show (VIDEO EXTRA)
‘Through the Pages’ will showcase students’ skating and acting abilities

“I just feel like more of our personalities show,” Cora Menelli, 18, of Plainfield, said. “We all get our own special touches this year.”





Thursday, April 6, 2017

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Research

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Research

Arguably, for me, one of the most delightful part of writing fiction.

Anyone that has read Bryony can see the vast amounts of research that went into the book...and the citations at the end are only the sources that made the cut! The rest went into folders for Before the Blood, folders that grow larger each weekend.

Visage, completely set in the 1970s, didn't contain quite so much research, although it still had a fair amount, and Staked! veered into another knowledge-seeking direction, unfamiliar to me (at the time) and yet quite delightful, thank you, Ed Calkins.

In the past two weekends, I've learned that Ellis Island was not the first immigration site and that P. T. Barnum actually once managed Jenny Lind (very cool, considering I already have a reference to Barnum in a previous chapter).

I've studied up on Castle Garden, the Steinway family (and found the diary of William Steinway online, very helpful), the history of the Metropolitan Opera House, Spode China, and built on my knowledge of both Delmonico's and McSorley's, both still in existence (getting hungry and want to go there...)

Despite my lack of geographical orientation, from the many maps and city layouts I've found online, I'm fairly certain that, if Kellen Weschler dropped me in the middle of nineteenth century New York, especially around Fifth Avenue or 7th and 11th Streets in lower Manhattan, I could find my way around.

Well, as long as I don't use the Simons mansion as my landmark for the first or Hewes Music Hall for the second.

Because these only exist in my imagination and on my computer screen.