Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Come to "How to Self-Publish a Book for (Nearly) Free" on Jan. 11

Self-publishing has changed a lot since I wrote my first book in 2008 and began to research publishing.

Back then, authors had two choices: submit to traditional publishers (with the need to find an agent first for many of those submissions) or a lot of money (thousands of dollars in many cases) to use a pay-to-print service.

One company had a free service, and that was Lulu. Today, authors have other free options with Amazon's Createspace being one of the most popular. Amazon also has fee-paying services.

Now I don't claim to be an expert on all facets of self-publishing, but I've learned a few things along the way. (I've since published nine books so far, eight of mine and one group project). And one thing I've learned is how to create a book with spending little money. In fact, it really irks me when I see writers paying huge setup fees for work when its unnecessary.

Cover design, ISBN assignment. online book distribution (including Amazon and Barnes and Noble), copyright registration, and formatting: these are not as daunting as they sound, and they are tasks authors can handle themselves. (If I can handle them, anyone can).

So if publishing a book is one of your goals for 2018, but you've held off because of the costs involved, come join me for coffee and conversation at 6 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Book and Bean Cafe, 3395 Black Road, in Joliet.

I'll define the differences between traditional, vanity, hybrid, pay-to-print, and self publishing. I'll explain mysterious terms like ISBN, Ingram, and extended distribution.

Then, with a handout you'll keep,  I'll walk you through a lean, step-by-step process on how to self-publish a print book through Createspace. I'll explain where you should put any money you choose to spend and where you should not put it.

This low-key workshop will not include sales, marketing, social media tips, etc. It also won't include writing and editing tips. Those are conversations for another day. This workshop is only to show you how to create the product for little to no money.

And no, I'm not selling any "services." I don't have the time to offer them anyway. I'm simply showing you how to create a book.

Of course, one may ask questions at any time during the presentation.

The cost is $10, which goes into the WriteOn Joliet kitty (yes, I co-lead the group) to help fund more resources for writers. WriteOn Joliet, a dues-paying critique group (we rent a room twice a month at the Joliet Public Library) published its first anthology this year (total cost to publish $25 and that was my cost), and we're exploring marketing this year.

We've hosted gust speakers, open mic nights, and annual holiday parties along with the critiquing and the fun. We also have a Facebook group, which, of course, is free. You don't need to join WriteOn Joliet to be a part of this group, and members are available to answer questions on the page about the writing, editing, and publishing process.

Information about WriteOn Joliet will be available at the workshop, along with copies of some of our self-published books so you can see the physical results (Heck, if you want to buy one or two, we won't object).

There's no advanced registration. Just show up that night, buy a cup of some really great coffee from the cafe (and maybe a snack or two), and we'll chat.

Questions? Message me at bryonyseries@gmail.com.





Monday, December 11, 2017

Community News: Dec. 11, 2017

Check out upcoming events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing.



Gotta Do It: Dec. 10 through Dec. 17



Local pet events: Dec. 11 through Dec. 18



Plainfield Fire Protection District conducts toy drive



Joliet-based R.A.C.E. donated $58,647 in grants to 21 charities



"Santa and the Timbers’ Elves" at the Timbers of Shorewood





A Year of Studying Marketing: What Have You Learned, Dorothy?

I spent part of last Thanksgiving weekend (2016), writing a comprehensive marketing plan for the BryonySeries, to which I've added (and even subtracted) a few ideas.

I have also spent a good portion of this past year studying this elusive thing called marketing, especially marketing for authors and their books.

I wasn't completely clueless. I'd written some marketing plans for the series in the past and had some experiential ideas on what did and did not work and where I did and did not want to go as I fielded my options.

Let's face it. Marketing books today is hard. Reading is down, titles are up, people are spam-suspicious, fake news and slush abounds, and the hot-new marketing trend of today quickly becomes the tired glutted gimmick of yesterday.

How does a guppy author make a noise in a deep ocean of big fish?

I'm still working on that answer.

But I've learned a few things along the way: some basic SEO. Branding. Ways to expand the reach without acting pushy. How marketing is different from sales and different from advertising (while being part of the same pie). Why free is too cheap. What does, does not (and what might) work in collaboration. How to write a better and more effective marketing plan.

I'll expand on these thoughts in the coming weeks.

I already knew writing comes with no guarantees,and I already knew I picked the most difficult type of books to write and self-publish: literary fiction.

However...

Quitting ensures you don't reach the finish line.

Writing, whether the writer publishes in a traditional arena or a self-published one, is an extremely long-tailed business. Perfecting the craft and persistence helps to win the race.







Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sue's Diner: Steve Barnes’ Spaghetti Sauce

In Bryony, as Melissa bicycles home from the library after researching her centennial report, her mind wanders over the food her little brother Brian has cooked with Steve Barnes, the village maintenance man. 

And that includes Steve's recipe for spaghetti sauce, which we're featuring this week.

Try it on the Sue's Diner page HERE.

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.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Community News: Dec. 9, 2017

Check out upcoming events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing.


Tips for keeping your car in the clear this season


Joliet museum to present 'Dark Side Of The Yule' on Dec. 15


Lockport American Legion home to Santa's workshop Dec. 10


Joliet university explains advent


Hindu temple proposed at former church building in Chicago suburb


Joliet post office extending delivery hours during the holidays


Joliet university deemed military friendly


Timbers of Shorewood to host ballroom dance Dec. 21


2017 McBeth scholarship winner teaches special needs students in Plainfield

Illustration by Matt Coundiff for Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony." 
Follow him at www.facebook.com/artbymattcoundiff or @MattCoundiff on Twitter

Angels Sing: Christmas in Ireland

Friday, December 8, 2017

Community News: Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, 2017

Check out upcoming events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing. 



First-grader gets third place in contest


Joliet Catholic Academy announces Class of 2018 Illinois State Scholars


Minooka church participates in golf outing for missions


Zander G. Parise of Joliet's Troop 258 earns Eagle Scout


Joliet Township High School joins the Illinois State Board of Education in the Illinois 5Essentials Survey 

http://www.theherald-news.com/2017/12/05/joliet-township-high-school-joins-the-illinois-state-board-of-education-in-the-illinois-5essentials-survey/a1mgl0z/


Forest Preserve police officers raise funds for Special Olympics


HIRE Vets Medallion Program moving forward

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Dec. 3 through Dec. 8

Happy Friday, readers, writers, vampire fans, and everyone else!

Except for a bit of editing, I haven't spent any time with Before the Blood since my writing retreat, but that's going to change starting tomorrow.

Because the company has restructured weekend coverage, I no longer have to serve as a news editor every third weekend, which leaves me free to tackle more features on weekends and get back into a regular writing schedule for my fiction and marketing.

Needless to say, the news came as an early Christmas present to me, which I celebrated by covering an open house of the Will County Model Railroad Association last weekend (story below, videos uploaded later).

Today reading at my grandson Ezekiel's school this afternoon (with Bertrand the Mouse in tow), for real this time. On my way to the school last week, I learned Ezekiel was sick. At the teacher's request, I rescheduled for today, because she really wanted me to read when my grandson was there. so it was a good change of plans.

Speaking of plans and looking ahead, I do have several events scheduled into 2018 and will share those here soon. If you'd like a sneak peak, visit the Fetes and Feasts page at www.bryonyseries.com and the events page at www.facebook.com/BryonySeries.

Also in 2018, I'll be starting a newsletter. I'm giving away the first chapter of one of the books in the Before the Blood prequel as a "thank you" for signing up. Want to be included? Drop me a line at bryonyseries@gmail.com.

Now some quick information before the stories:

Also in 2018, I'll be starting a newsletter. I'm giving away the first chapter of one of the books in the BTB prequel as a "thank you" for signing up. Want to be included? Drop me a line at bryonyseries@gmail.com

Now some quick information before the stories:

Non-bylined features:

Monday through Saturday I assembled my non-bylined works - brief posts and calendar listings - into one convenient file and posting them on Facebook in the evening, so readers can easily choose the ones they want to read.

One can also find those event listings, the Gotta Do It calendar, as well as the pets, health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars, under the sections tab on the left hand side of http://www.theherald-news.com/. Click on "features" and the topics drop down.  Gotta Do It runs under "people."

Community news? Again, under the sections tab, under features, and by topic. Updates are posted on these days in print and web and in web on other days as I have the time: Monday (pets), Tuesday (health), Thursday (faith), Friday (arts and entertainment), and Sunday (people).

Social media:

Daily updates: I do post the briefs and calendars on Twitter during the week, so you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61.

BryonySeries stuff: I post curated content relating to the BryonySeries at @BryonySeries. And assorted related content at www.facebook.com/BryonySeries. And of course, please follow the adventures of Bertrand the Mouse on Instagram at bertrand_bryonyseries.

Thank you for reading The Herald-News. And for reading this blog. Your support is greatly appreciated.


'The Grandfather Tree Goes Down' in Romeoville

June Kobzina recalls that fateful Sunday as sunny and rather non-eventful: she went to church, weeded her garden and had lunch. While working a crossword puzzle, Kobzina half-heard the TV mention something about storms, not really paying attention until it grew extremely windy and heavy rain and hail fell.

"One minute the backyard tree was there," Kobzina wrote. "And the next minute it was gone."

http://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2017/11/30/afbbf3523909411984fba9fee6c069e9/index.xml?page=1


Dreams about childhood on Joliet’s East Side

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

That’s the famous opening line in one of my favorite novels, “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier. It’s a 
line that often replays in my head when I dream about my childhood home on Belmont Avenue.



An Extraordinary Life: Joliet woman was a 'walking Jesus'

“If you had to pick her up, and you were six, eight minutes late, she’d already made adjustments and gone about her business,” Bob King of Joliet , Anna King's brother, said. “Being prompt is a very important key to understanding anyone’s time. And she made it a point by saying, ‘People who don’t wear watches don’t value their time.’ ”



Be a Santa to a local pet

If you can, make a difference in one of their lives. Bring one home for Christmas.

Click for information on the local shelters and rescues that contribute weekly to “Pets of the Week.”



Pets of the Week: Dec. 4

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

http://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2017/11/29/57b35c509b2049d0938de79ca52d88c5/index.xml


Mystery Diner: Williamson's in New Lenox has large portions, great specials and plenty of options

It was Tuesday, which meant burger and chicken specials.




Joliet man pens devotional unlikely to be forgotten

“They’ll only make 52 changes a year,” Hansen said, “but more than they normally would."

http://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2017/12/05/e2477f8594b9464bb6b53d27f6dd4f71/index.xml


Will County clubs helps keep these enthusiasts on track

Click on the link below for open house, meeting times, and plenty of photos.



Frankfort native to return for Christmas show

Katie Blomarz, bassist, said The Barefoot Movement knows 18 Christmas songs, such as those performed by Perro Como and Frank Sinatra, all acoustically arranged.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Five Minutes on Christmas Eve

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Five Minutes on Christmas Eve

As I'm writing this, I get a phone call from my nearly seventeen year old daughter Rebekah. She and her fifteen year old brother Daniel and my husband Ron are done rolling newspapers and are heading home. Communion bread for this morning's Divine Liturgy is rising in the oven, and soon I'll be out in the van throwing newspapers.

This is not how we used to spend our Christmases.

Years ago, when my six children were very young, Christmas Eve meant getting together with my first husband's side of the family and enjoying a special Christmas Eve dinner of twelve traditional dishes, that represented the twelve apostles. We continued that tradition up until this year when the timing of Christmas as per the newspaper schedule and everyone's work commitment made such a gathering impossible.

Then the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder as I was getting ready for bed last night, at the ungodly hour of seven o'clock (It's ungodly when you rise at midnight). I hollered down the stairs for Daniel, but he had left with my oldest son Christopher to pick up my daughter-in-law Cassie from work. So, I phoned my twenty-year-old son Timothy who was still stuffing Sunday inserts for their customers with Rebekah.

After making sure they were near each other, I asked Timothy to put me on speaker phone. He did, and I read from the Gospel of Luke, beginning with Gabriel's appearance to Mary and ending with the shepherds. When I finished, there was a chorus of excited voices. My kids were not alone in the warehouse.

A number of other carriers were spending their Christmas Eve there, too, preparing for Sunday so they could spend Christmas Day with their families and had been touched by the reading. Timothy said, "Now it feels like Christmas. Thank you for reminding us of the reason for the season."

Whatever the reason for YOUR celebration this day, have a blessed and merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Community News: Dec. 6, 2017

Check out upcoming events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing. 



Need help? Want to help? Here’s a roundup of area food pantries and upcoming events



Will County Health Department discusses holiday food safety



Lemont church hosting Swedish potato sausage sale



Bolingbrook library offers food-related events in December



Joliet Drama Guild to host 6th Annual Madrigal Dinner on Dec. 15



Joliet students recognized at board meeting



Joliet native serves aboard Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser



Holiday concert at Plainfield school Dec. 13









Illustration by Matt Coundiff. Follow him at www.facebook.com/artbymattcoundiff or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.

Hymn to St. Nicholas

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Community News: Dec. 5, 2017

Check out upcoming general events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing. 


Local health events: Dec. 5 through Dec. 12


Joliet resident receives H.O.P.E. award


Placement and support program is successful


Record-setting Candy Buy Back for Manhattan Dental Care


Turning Green challenges student to find passion, purpose in 30 days


Lockport’s Jeff Brown named STEM Teacher of the Year


Joliet native serves aboard Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser



Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox announces medical staff appointments 

http://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2017/12/04/14b82072b5944d7990a9dabdd3ffe66f/index.xml



Illustration by Matt Coundiff. Follow him at www.facebook.com/artbymattcoundiff or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.

Have You Met Bertrand?

His Instagram page at bertrand_bryonyseries has this introduction: "My name is Bertrand, a red herring in the BryonySeries book Staked! I'm so cute my author is writing my own children's series."

Bertrand likes to meet new kids and have me read his (and other) stories, and we are available for school visits. He doesn't really appear on social media except for Instagram, so if you'd like to follow his antics, please follow him there.

Here are three recent photos. Book Bertrand by emailing bryonyseries@gmail.com.


I met a real live miracle angel tonight! Read her story by buying this anthology HERE.

Family dinner

Mistress at a meeting, guarding her drinks.









Monday, December 4, 2017

Community News, Dec. 4, 2017

Check out upcoming events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing. 


Gotta Do It: Dec. 3 through Dec. 10



Local pet events: Dec. 4 through Dec. 11



Lincoln-Way science students partner with Will County CSI experts



Joliet students attend Latinx Empowerment Conference



Sign up for the Ask Dick Goss newsletter



Sign up for the Mystery Diner newsletter



Sign up for the Will/Grundy politics newsletter



Sign up for The Herald-News Joliet City Government newsletter




A Quick Note (And One Good Quote)

Had a chat over coffee with Steve Sherwood yesterday morning. He asked if I was ready for Christmas. My answer was a paraphrase of the quote below, and that started the conversation.

Blessings to all this Monday!

"Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand." Dr. Seuss



Sunday, December 3, 2017

Kale Fritters

When Melissa develops a crush on Henry, she boldly approaches him for a date. Henry seizes his chance to enlarge Melissa’s world and gives her a kaleidoscope evening of theater, historical landmarks, and peasant food. 

The recipe for kale fritters is from the Bohemian-American Cookbook by Marie Rosicky, published by the Automatic Printing Company (www.autoprintomaha.com). The copy I have is from 1915.

And, boy! Were they good. Seriously. I kept going back to the plate for "one more." 

To try the recipe, visit the Sue's Diner page HERE.

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.





Saturday, December 2, 2017

Community News: Dec. 2, 2017

Check out upcoming general events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing. 



Joliet Rotary salutes Big Brothers Big Sisters for exemplary service to community



Joliet Junior College community band to present concert Dec. 3



Romeoville nursing professor recommends health literacy



Plainfield school district receives awards from two fire protection agencies



Firearm dear season ends Dec. 3 plus other Illinois hunting season information



Antibiotics – You don’t always need them  



ISBE announces revised dates for Illinois 5EssentialsSurvey



Junior College presents its 40th Annual Madrigal Concert on Dec. 8





Ed Calkins: China

Dear MOMI,

China is huge! 

Known as the most populated nations, its the fourth biggest in area. What are they doing with all that space? 

One might say they need that space for all their people, but I say that's exactly what they want us to think. Consider that almost every major city in the world has a 'China Town' inhabited by Chinese. If the Chinese are in the middle of every place in the world, what do they need a country for? And in those cities, you can walk in to any store and buy anything. Where is it made. China! Buy something in China town however and its made 'here' (where ever here is). It's like their mailing their stuff before they move one by one to every city's 'China town' till town becomes city, city becomes metropolis, and metropolis becomes nation. This all begs the question, 'Are there any Chinese left in China?'.

I have a theory. What if the Chinese aren't the sneaky ones and just think they own China? Who would really know if the middle of China was one big 'China Town' and the rest of the nation was owned and controlled by some really sneaky people that secretly convinced the people of everywhere else to drink tea and wear fabric excreted from worms? If the Chinese don't live in China, who is sneaky enough to?

Based on past data, don't rule out the second most populated nation of the word, India. Consider that while other nations have their own sea, only India has its own ocean. Also let's not forget the biggest scam every played on the nations of the world. Did the habit of calling Native Americas 'Indians' really result for that Italian sailor's mistaken short cut or did the real Indians bribe them into introducing themselves as 'Indian' to the rest of the world?  

Regardless, we now have to made the distinction be calling the real Indians 'Eastern Indians', setting up the claim that if there are "Eastern Indians" there must be an Eastern India, which by our own admission must mean that "Western India" is somewhere in the implied direction where casinos and other cash claiming places (7/11, donut shops, etc. etc.) are just the western divisions of the calling centers trying to fix your computer, your trouble with the IRS, or your standing with the FBI. Very sneaky!

Be warned fake Chinese, I am watching you,

Merrily and ruthlessly yours,
                                                                                                                 
Either Ed Clausins or Santa Claws

(i.e. Ed Calkins, the Steward of Tara)



Friday, December 1, 2017

Community News: Dec. 1, 2017

Check out upcoming general events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing. 


Local arts and entertainment: Dec. 1 through Dec. 8



Local pet events: Nov. 27 through Dec. 4 (with events this Saturday and Sunday)



Santa Sightings



Mokena students recycle, make Frisbees



William B. Orenic sixth-grade choir to sing at JJC MadriGala



Joliet professor emerita establishes endowed scholarship in music and theater



Lockport students in ILMEA festival



New Lenox 5th grade fire safety poster contest winners announced



Will County Model Railroad Association to host swap meet and open house Dec. 2



A Few Stories to Round-Up, Some Quick Thoughts

Below are a couple stories that ran in my absence, along with this week's Pets of the Week and Mystery Diner. This past week, I focused on updating my story budget, answering voluminous amounts of email, publishing some of the many community briefs waiting their turn for publishing, and scheduling quite a few interviews and story coverage for today and tomorrow.

Needless to say, I wrote almost no fiction. And probably won't this weekend, either, as it's a working weekend. But it's also the last weekend I'll be on call as the editor rotation has been restructured. And I've spent this week also catching up on medical tests (and some of those will spill into the weekedn).

Also, I'm reading at my grandson Ezekiel's school this afternoon (with Bertrand the Mouse in tow). But since I did spend most of last week in the nineteenth century, it is, as Melissa Marchellis would put it, "a fair trade."

So it's a weekend of regrouping. Next week should normalize out. At least that's the plan.

Speaking of plans and looking ahead, I do have several events scheduled into 2018 and will share those here soon. If you'd like a sneak peak, visit the Fetes and Feasts page at www.bryonyseries.com and the events page at www.facebook.com/BryonySeries.

Also in 2018, I'll be starting a newsletter. I'm giving away the first chapter of one of the books in the Before the Blood prequel as a "thank you" for signing up. Want to be included? Drop me a line at bryonyseries@gmail.com.

Now some quick information before the stories:

Non-bylined features:

Monday through Saturday I assembled my non-bylined works - brief posts and calendar listings - into one convenient file and posting them on Facebook in the evening, so readers can easily choose the ones they want to read.

One can also find those event listings, the Gotta Do It calendar, as well as the pets, health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars, under the sections tab on the left hand side of http://www.theherald-news.com/. Click on "features" and the topics drop down.  Gotta Do It runs under "people."

Community news? Again, under the sections tab, under features, and by topic. Updates are posted on these days in print and web and in web on other days as I have the time: Monday (pets), Tuesday (health), Thursday (faith), Friday (arts and entertainment), and Sunday (people).

Social media:

Daily updates: I do post the briefs and calendars on Twitter during the week, so you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61.

BryonySeries stuff: I post curated content relating to the BryonySeries at @BryonySeries. And assorted related content at www.facebook.com/BryonySeries. And of course, please follow the adventures of Bertrand the Mouse on Instagram at bertrand_bryonyseries.

Thank you for reading The Herald-News. And for reading this blog. Your support is greatly appreciated.


Putting the money where the heart is

Kathy Miller will never forget how awful she felt when Leeza's Place closed in early 2014.

"Sure I had lost my job, but it was more than that," Miller said. "It was a feeling of being lost. I thought, 'This must be how caregivers feel.'"



Pets of the Week: Nov. 27

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



Social worker at Joliet hospital discusses resources for patients

Help is there. One only has to know where to look. And social workers do.



Mystery Diner: Manhattan's Agave Azul has the quality of food to keep you coming back

I was looking for a wide variety of food and chose the sampler ($8.75), which had everything from chicken and beef flautas (two each) to four triangles of cheese quesadilla, guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream.





Thursday, November 30, 2017

Community News: Nov. 30, 2017

Check out upcoming general events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing. 


Local faith events: Nov. 30 through Dec. 7



St. Paul the Apostle teachers win awards


Joliet university supports Catholic Climate Covenant


JCA announces October Students of the Month


Diocese of Joliet vocations director visits freshman


Lincoln-Way Central Interact Club collects socks for homeless


Research collaboration continues with Romeoville university and Pall Corp.


BryonySeries Throwback Thursday Our St. Nicholas Day Celebrations: A Few Photos

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Our St. Nicholas Day Celebrations: A Few Photos

 
 
 
Left to right: Midnight and Hope sit patiently while waiting for their St. Nicholas feast. Frances moves away from her bowl after Daniel plops in her space to play with his phone. The boys, both tuxedos--Alex and Charity--need a little encouragement to behave during the prayer. Faith had heard Christopher walk in bolted to the attic.

 
Now that my children are adults, we set a $20 limit and then draw names to see who will fill a particular family member's stocking. Everyone agrees to buy something small for the grandbabies, and we chip in for candy canes and gold coins.
 
 
Caleb Gabriel, Christopher's youngest son, can't wait to peek inside his stocking.
 
 
 
Christopher David shows "Cal" one of his treasures.
 
 
Cal wears Christopher's stocking. Someone made it for Christopher when he was a baby, and he's used it ever since.
 
 
Ronald Nathaniel poses with his father.
 
 
 
Some of the surprises St. Nicholas left Ronnie inside his stocking.
 
 
 
Daniel John never did figure out the identity of his St. Nicholas.
 
 
Rebekah Ann tries out her new hat while pulling out the next item from her stocking.
 
 
Turtles!
 
 
Cinnamon-scented pine cones for my office and a Bryony-purple bath towel on my lap.
 
 
Ronnie follows along as Daniel reads the St. Nicholas blessing prayer for candy canes.
 
 
One way to ensure no one swipes your candy canes!
 
 
The blessing of our new chalice before our church's St. Nicholas banquet.
 
 
Fifty years ago, Fr. Boris first heard about tying ribbon to the chalice and stretching it down the aisle so the faithful could connect with each other and the new Eucharistic vessel during the blessing. He realized it for the first time today.
 
 
Ronnie informs St. Nicholas he has only four requests.
 

                                            Ezekiel James, my youngest grandson, chilling on St. Nicholas' lap.