Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Song #11 - Wedding Song First Dance - "To Say I Do" by James Onohan

A Most Profitable Conversation

First meeting this morning: 4:30 a.m., and a darn good meeting it was, too.

Back in January, I noticed the Bryony team needed another member. I prayed for guidance, asked God to please deliver, and even checked out a few possiblities, then waited to see if those doors would open or close.

A few weeks ago, someone I had not considered for the role knocked on my virtual door and made the inquiry. Now, although nothing is official yet--since some of it hinges on his finishing Bryony (He's read one-third and likes it so far, but it's early....) and deciding for sure if that's a project for him--we've had one dynamic meeting and a couple of productive phone calls, including the one a few hours ago.

So why am I considering someone I had not approached?

1) He brings some interesting marketing qualities to the table.

2) He's interested in collaborating with the existing Bryony team members.

3) He's followed the Bryony website, blog, Facebook, etc., etc., etc., and so was already familiar with the project.

4) He's proactive. We have a "maybe" deal, but he has already sent out feelers and done some homework.

5) Lastly...and to me, most importantly...he came with three qualities only God could have arranged which, when put together, form something greater than a coincidence. No matter how prepared he was to list the reasons why we should work together, he couldn't have contrived this last. (No, I'm not saying, either, but they concern details from the third book in the Bryony series, first draft completed over a year ago).

Basically, here's how I work. If an opportunity feels like it's coming from God, I trust Him enough to take a chance. If I'm wrong, He'll slam the window shut and open another. God's plan is worth a a few pinched fingers.

"The LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." Samuel 16:7.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Meet Kathy Feeney-Pilarcik, Freelance Make-Up Artist, Part 2

In a continuation from yesterday's interview, Kathy Feeney-Pilarcik, a freelance make-up artist with twelve years experience, explains her make-over philosophy.

5) When performing a make-over, how do you determine what's right for a particular client?

"LISTEN to the client's needs and wants! It's not what I think that matters! It's what the client is comfortable with. I'm big on the complexion looking smooth, even, and bright. The intensity of eyes and lips is up to the client."

6) What if the client has opposing ideas?

"The client is ALWAYS right! women know themselves! I totally respect that! I'm ALWAYS listening...."

7) What is the number one make-up error most women make?

"Eye makeup is a big problem: bad technique or lining only the bottom of the eye, WRONG! If you're going to pick a side to line, always line the top! Oooohh, and ENOUGH with the brownish berry lip color! Too harsh and it makes your teeth look yellow !"

8) I understand you do not charge for all make-up services.

"I offer free makeup for any chemotherapy patients suffering from a loss of lashes and brows. I lost my mother to cancer and I truly want to help ANYONE in need of help with this!"

Contact Kathy Feeney-Pilarcik at

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meet Kathy Feeney-Pilarcik, Freelance Make-Up Artist, Part 1

This past spring, Bryony's director of marketing, Dulcinea Hawksworth, decided the author could use a little editing, too. So Dulcinea scheduled a makeover with Kathy Feeney-Pilarcik, a freelance make-up artist with twelve years experience.

Today, Kathy shares "experience and excuses."

1) How did you learn your techniques?

"I've been getting informational books since I was about fifteen years old. The first artist's book was by Way Bandy (He died of AIDS years ago), and I also have three books by Bobby Brown and one book by Trish McEvoy."

2) What about practical experience?

"The other work has all been by the seat of my pants and hard knocks and EXPERIENCE! In my opinion, the only way you learn is by practicing on many different faces, colors, and complexions. You have to keep in my mind the client's personal style, and you have to LISTEN to what they want and need."

3) What's your favorite make-up line?

"I use makeup from SO many different lines. Some of the cheaper brands are MUCH underestimated, but the expensive lines tend to be more highly pigmented and easier for ME to work with. Cheaper brands tend to make their pigments light, making it easier for the layman."

4) Why do you think most women can benefit from make-up?

"EVERYONE feels better when they feel pretty. I've heard ALL the excuses, (I dont have time (BS, GET UP five minutes earlier). I can teach a five-minute makeup just to brighten and even out skin tone, VERY easy, just a little effort can make you feel totally re-juvenated!!"

Friday, June 24, 2011

"The Dinner Party," by Mona Gardner

A dinner party debate regarding who is braver in the face of danger, men or women, is settled in a surprising way when a cobra enters the room.

Read The Dinner Party by Mona Gardner online. First published in The Saturday Review, 1942.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Song # 10 Soundtrack Romantic Piano Solo - Bella's Lullaby by James Onohan

Playing Bryony

When my sister and I were little, we loved playing "dress-up," in remnants of long dresses, hats, pumps, etc., all saved for that occasion.

This afternoon, two weeks from my fiftieth birthday, I get to revisit a little of that.

My dressmaker contacted me for a fitting of the spring walking suit she sewed for Bryony appearances, so we're hoping it's good to go for this Saturday's Three Rivers Arts Council's second annual, Art in the Park.

From 1 to 5 p.m., Bryony will have a display table, which will be shared by Bryony's director of marketing, Dulcinea Hawksworth, who will be doing body painting. James Onohan, Bryony's pianist and composer, will play at 4:30 p.m.

This is the description of my suit--modified to actually make two suits--my dressmaker sent to me on Facbook:

   "I didn't line them so they would be cooler, so a long slip will work just fine. The first is burgundy satin and the second skirt is shimmer blueish purple with a black satin top. I haven't made a winter one yet and with the black satin top, the skirts can be interchangable. Also the bustle is a mock bustle so you will be able to walk and sit, and it ties on so you will be able to remove it to drive if you like. Also to be a little more vampire esque the sleeves come to a point and so does the jacket."

When she measured me a few months ago, we poured through my hat collection and picked out several that seemed "Victorianish," hats that also coordinated with her vision for the dresses. So, naturally, I'll be bringing those hats along--and some really cool gloves--with me, today.

I'm hoping I can persuade my oldest son to accompany me and take some nice pictures I can post tomorrow. I'm also hoping he doesn't mind if his seventeen-year-old sister and her best friend ride with us. Even if they're not dressing up, they want to watch. What girl, of any age, wouldn't?

I can hardly wait!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

"If," by Rudyard Kipling

Although Kipling published this poem in 1910, he wrote it in 1895, making it Victorian and within Bryony's time period.

Some good "fatherly" advice that endures past Father's Day celebrations.

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too:

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same:

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss:

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ed Calkins, the Steward of Tara, Explains the IVA

There are two ways to join. The first way is the simplest.

1) You can think you're Ed Calkins, and thus the spokeman for the Irish Vamprise Association.

2) You don't have to think you're a vampire, but you do have to think you're Irish and have a fondness and dedication to the Irish Vampire cause. You must think that you should be a member, mention this to no one, pay what dues you think you should, and hold what office you think you should hold. What ever dues you pay are the budget for your office, so spend it wisely. Also you must dislike any people you think an Irish Vampire would dislike, and think badly of them as a result.

Image the power of such a secretive structure! Few are foolish enough to cross the IVA. For example, there was a flint dealer named Ug some 10,000 year ago that insulted the IVA. In retailation, its members decided his daughter was unattractive. Poor Ug! Not only did his daughter Lee remain unmarried (and thus childless; it was a simpler time), but too this day when any sight is deemed visually unappealling, the memory of Ug's Lee is mentioned.

P.S. If you are an IVA member and your department is under budget, you could send the excess to Ed Calkins.

By Ed Calkins, the Steward of Tara

Friday, June 17, 2011

"A Psalm of Life," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

This poem is featured in Bryony.

What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist

TELL me not, in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream!—

For the soul is dead that slumbers,

And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is our destined end or way;

But to act, that each to-morrow

Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating 

Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife! 

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act,—act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o'er life's solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Song # 9 Meditation Piano Solo - "After All" by James Onohan

Bryony's First Promo Event is June 25!

From 1 to 5 p.m. June 25, Bryony will be one of twenty artists featured at the Three Rivers' Arts Council's 2nd Annual Art in the Part at Central Park, 24856 W. Eames Street, Channahon.

Bryony will have a display table at the event with Dulcinea Hawksworth, director of marketing, offering a few surprise activities. James Onohan, composer/pianist for Bryony, will perform at 4:30 p.m.

We hope to see you there!

In addition, the event will feature visual art: photography, sculpture, paintings and illustrations. There will also be theatre performances, solo musicians, bands, a farmer's market, vendors, live portrait and mural art and children's art activities.

There will also be a ticket rafflefor a night at Ravinia and Lollapalooza weekend passes. For more information, email the Three Rivers Arts Council at or visit

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

So, what's the latest in Munsonville?

Busy! Busy! Busy!

Round four of edits went back to the publisher last month, so I'm waiting to hear back.

We filmed more interviews of the Bryony team last week, with still more waiting to be scheduled. That same day, we caught a sneak peek of the Bryony book trailer. I'm excited and impressed by what I've seen and can't wait to share the final result.

In the wee hours of this morning, I viewed a rough cut of the music video. It's making the rounds of the Bryony team as I write, but the initial reactions are overwhelmingly positive. The Bryony theme song is SO beautiful, and the music video picks up those emotions. That's all I can say right now.

Next Wednesday, I have a fitting with my dressmaker for my spring walking suit. Hopefully, someone with a camera will be accompanying me, so I can post pictures of the dress.

The Bryony cookbook contest had two winners: We combined the submissions of Nola Sawyer and Kathryn Ross Dunlap for the official title of : Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from Bryony.
Both Nola and Kathryn will receive a free cookbook signed by members of the Bryony team.

Bryony has her first promo event June 25. Details to follow tomorrow.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The IVA is Angry!

Thus, I tried to calm down a frantic Ed Calkins.

"What is the IVA?" I asked, balancing the phone on my ear so I can finish the dishes.

"It's a secret."

A secret?

"Ed, then why should I care...."

"And they're demanding the immediate release of Bryony."

I rinsed a plate. "Bryony is still going through editing."

"The IVA said it's taking too long."

"Has the IVA ever edited a book?"


"Look, Ed, if you really want to read it, send back the release, already, and I'll give you the manuscript."

"I don't want to read the manuscript. I want to buy the book."

"And so you shall...when it's ready."

Since Ed is a featured vampire in Bryony, I can understand his impatience. It's not everyday someone signs off his identity for supposed fame. Certainly, two years later, I'd be a little bit curious how someone fictionalized me (Of course, I wouldn't sign off my identity, either, but that's another story).

I can also understand the impatience of those fans who have been following the process. The only information I have from the publisher is a vague "later this year." I know those are hard words to hear, but turning out a good book takes time.

Meanwhile, I want to know what the IVA is and on whose authority it's making demands. Ed has promised to supply the answer.

On Saturday.

Friday, June 10, 2011

"Alone," by Edgar Allan Poe

First published in 1875. I was fifteen when I initially encountered this poem, in whatever edition of The Witches Almanac I was reading. Since I quickly and easily memorized it, Alone's haunting lines often spring to mind.

Alone, by Edgar Allan Poe

From childhood's hour I have not been

As others were -- I have not seen

As others saw -- I could not bring

My passions from a common spring --

From the same source I have not taken

My sorrow -- I could not awaken

My heart to joy at the same tone --

And all I lov'd -- I lov'd alone --

Then -- in my childhood -- in the dawn

Of a most stormy life -- was drawn

From ev'ry depth of good and ill

The mystery which binds me still --

From the torrent, or the fountain --

From the red cliff of the mountain --

From the sun that 'round me roll'd

In its autumn tint of gold --

From the lightning in the sky

As it pass'd me flying by --

From the thunder, and the storm --

And the cloud that took the form

(When the rest of Heaven was blue)

Of a demon in my view

Thursday, June 9, 2011

So, Was It Funny?

Don't know. I didn't read mine at the group, and I brought home everyone else's to critique.

Memory refresher: The homework assignment for the Heavenly Sinners Writer's Guild was to write a humorous event in three hundred words. Only one person hit the mark, but even she had doubts she could. Ironically, she was spot on.

However, I  did learn something from listening to and reading it that selection. When writing that tightly, keep the relatable event very, very narrow, almost like a thin slice from the larger story pie. Condiment details, carefully sprinkled, keep you rooted in the story and enhance the point you're making.

Overall, I think my piece had humor, but the topic I selected had boundaries too wide. So, I'm going to rewrite it, with a different topic, just to meet the challenge.

And I'm going to do it today, before I get too busy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Song # 8 Most relaxing music flute and orchestra - "Naruto Sadness and S...

How and Why We Chose the Byrony Cookbook Name

The winning name of the official Bryony cookbook: Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from “Bryony.”

For the one-year anniversary of the Bryony Facebook page, we offered a, "Name the Bryony Cookbook," contest to fans of the Facebook Page.

We received many entries, Thank You, Fans! The Bryony cookbook team debated them over the weekend. Once we were down to the final few, we struggled to pick, "the one.” Because we had so many good entries, we could not find just one that fit.

As soon as we chose to combine two entries, the winning name stood out! Congratulations to Nola Sawyer (Memories in the Kitchen) and Kathryn Dunlap (Bites and Nibbles).

Bryony, because of the weaving back and forth between two time periods, is full of memories, many of which revolve around the food in this cookbook, which range from delicious to eclectic.

Not EVERY single mention of food is in the cookbook, which is where Bites and Nibbles comes into the title. It's also perfect to pair with a vampire novel, so Bryony-ish!

The Bryony cookbook team did consider all entries without prejudice. We didn't contemplate who submitted what title until the name for the cookbook was decided. Meaning, we studied only the titles, without submitters’ names attached.

Then, we went back and looked at who provided the compilation for the official title. Runner up was," Miss Bessie Beasland's Guide to Domestic Cookery," (Suzy Staley Baker), which will be incorporated into the final book of the Bryony series.

Thank You again to anyone who participated. Don't forget: ALL Bryony cookbook proceeds are being donated to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Will and Grundy County. Cookbook purchase is pending until its release later this year.

Sarah C. Stegall

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How to be Funny in Three Hundred Words

If I find out, I'll let you know.

Last month, my publicist began the Heavenly Sinners Writing Guild and asked me to assist her. At that first meeting, Bryony got its first reading debut (Hurray!), but I left with an assignment: write a humorous event, short, about three hundred words.

I've been stewing on this all month.

As a family, we laugh a lot. My children are funny. My cats are funny. My life is often a joke. I, however, am not funny.

Needless to say, I've written nothing.

Now, I'm not one to annoy my publicist (at least, not on purpose), so I'll have to produce something. With the meeting exactly thirty-six hours away, I'm not hopeful I'll come up with something sidesplitting in that time, especially since the lord of the jester muses has been silent for the last twenty-nine days (or so).

Yesterday, I read a blog from WriteLife LLC about writing comedy (, which I carefully studied. The overall message was not to be contrived, to find your own natural humor.

Although that almost brings me back to square one, it's the best advice I have.

Please, wish me luck.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mentoring Grant Cut: Another Reason to Support the Bryony Cookbook

This is reposted from the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties Facebook page with permission. This organization is the recipient of the Bryony cookbook.

On May 11, 2011, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties was one of 152 Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliates nationwide to receive notice that federal grant funding earmarked to serve high-risk children has been cut, effective September 29, 2011.

Big Brothers Big Sisters currently provides consistent, enduring, success-focused mentoring services through two 3-year Mentoring Children of Prisoners (MCP) grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families (ACF).

In 2009, the agency received a $300,000 3-year grant to serve children of incarcerated parents in Will and Grundy Counties.

In 2010, the agency was part of an Illinois state-wide association of Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies that received a $4.5 million 3-year grant, and they use that funding to serve children of incarcerated parents in and Kankakee and Iroquois Counties.

“We received notice that no funding was appropriated in the FY 2011 budget to continue either of these grants,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO Lisa Morel Las.

In April 2011, Congress passed and the President signed into law H.R.1473 that provides full year funding for the Federal Government for FY 2011. H.R. 1473 does not include a provision for the Mentoring Children of Prisoners (MCP) program and therefore, there was no funding appropriated to continue the MCP program.

The abrupt cancellation of the MCP program will require 152 agencies across the nation to transition or terminate services for 18,000 vulnerable children. Locally, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties serves approximately 500 children in Will, Grundy, Kankakee and Iroquois, and approximately 100 of these matches are supported by MCP grant funding.

“While we will do all we can to transition services for the children served locally under this grant – up to 100 children could have their matches prematurely terminated,” explained Las.

“Recognizing that the premature termination of a match can cause additional harm to already vulnerable children; the Board of Directors and I are working on focusing resources and utilizing the remaining funds effectively. Last week, we were forced to layoff two employees and are identifying and searching for alternate public or private funding to prevent premature termination of matches and more layoffs in September.”

Las notes, “We recognize that the federal deficit must be addressed for the sake of current and future generations, but feel strongly that good programs should be separated from those that don’t work. Research shows that positive outcomes increase with the use of evidence-based practices – which is what Big Brothers Big Sisters uses.”

Studies find when served by Big Brothers Big Sisters, these kids and others who face serious adversity have a greater chance than their peers for having positive relationship interactions and breaking cycles of crime, poverty and school under performance too often linked to youths in their circumstances.

“Investing in quality mentoring for at-risk children has a demonstrable return on investment. The short-term savings that will be realized with the cancellation of the MCP grants will have a lasting and negative impact on our nation and our youth,” says Las. “We will have to spend substantially more later in the child’s life - when these same young people who could have continued to be mentored in our program – become both the perpetrators and victims of crime.”

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow's first epic poem, first published in 1847, is the tale of a young girl's search for her lover, following the exile of the Acadians. Ironically, her acceptance of their separation as the will of God eventually leads to their poignant, albeit brief, reunion.

The poem is available for free reading on many online sites.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Something To Chew On

Well not really, but yesterday I had a revelation while working on the Bryony website. One of our biggest goals is to have an interacting website; not one you go to and just read what's on the pages. From the first glance, we want viewers to feel like they are in Munsonville, inside the story. For instance, Harold Masters is the English teacher in Bryony. On his website page, we'll post submitted short-stories, poems, etc.., so why not on Sue's Diner's page, the only restaurant in Munsonville, post submitted recipes. I know you all have favorites you'd like to share.

One of my cherished things about food is the way it brings us together. Think of how much more you enjoy a delicious meal when others are sharing the same delight. Or when you discover a new food or recipe that you are bursting to share and others are hounding you for it. Eating is universal. One does not have to speak another language to share meals. If you live, you eat. The history and cultures behind food is endless and I'm asking you to partake.

The guidelines for submitting recipes is fairly basic:

  • No foul language anywhere in the text. Your entry will not be considered or language will be edited.
  • Any recipe is available for editing, don't be shy to submit if you aren't the best writer.
  • Recipes may involve any part of any meal. Breakfast, Lunch, Supper, Drinks, Deserts, Appetizers, Breads, Fourth Meals, Snacks, ANYTHING!
  • Submit recipes to
  • And a reminder, recipes have to be original, OR you have to list the source of the recipe you are sharing. For instance if it came out of a magazine, you have to say which one, which issue, and any credited name on the recipe.
I hope all of you take the time to share something with Bryony.

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience."~James Beard

Sarah Stegall

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Song # 5 Beautiful Soothing Relaxing Piano Music - "That Someone is You"...

It's Not What I Expected, Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son Christopher, 29, asked to read Bryony. Although it did not meet his initial expectations of massive carnage, he enjoyed it enough to ask for the drafts of books two and three. Here are his remaining comments:

6) Doesn’t Henry's concern for Melissa seem out of character for a vampire?

“Not all vampires are created equal. Some of them do keep a little humanity.”

7) What’s your take on John Simons?

“At first I thought—without getting too much into the second book—that there should have been more of him, but then I understood why he was written the way he was. I liked the music side of him. He’s a lot like me, in some respects. He internalizes things until he can’t hold it in anymore and then he erupts. He’s very passionate about the things he does. Yes, he is cold, but I can see why because his relationship with Melissa is based on an agreement; he wasn’t trying to have a love relationship with her. I blame a lot of that on Twilight. The story is played out through his memories, but I don’t think they’re the exact same memories as he had with Bryony.

8) You met the real Ed Calkins. What do you think of his vampire character?

“I think Ed is more affable, but the character seems more rational; he has more method to his madness.”

9) You used to take piano lessons as a child, but now that you’ve heard James Onohan’s music for Bryony, you’ve resigned up? Why?

“Because the music is interesting enough that I wanted to bring my skill level up to reproduce it at my own will.”