Friday, February 28, 2014

"A Candle in her Room" and Story Round-Up

One of THE all-time childhood favorites, the beginning of my obsession of writing a story with a protagnoist named "Melissa."

Even more intersting, and I never realized until one of my children pointed it out, Melissa's youngest sister--a very minor character--is "Briony.".

If you've neve read A Candle in her Room, you're missing a great read. See comments:

Partying with 'the breast intentions'

Joliet woman starts local chapter of an organization dedicated to financially helping women battling breast cancer...and organization started by two teenagers.

She made us a family

Despite Down syndrome, Leda Valentine was the purple ribbon that connected her family.

Joliet woman believe dog will return home
It's been two years, but Lynn Stancik still has her home, and her heart, open to Sammy.

Irish stew joins corned beef at Celtic Celebration
Irish soda bread and colcannon round out the meal, recipes included.

They would be humbled

Joliet Catholic Academy honors couple that sent all nine of their children through Catholic primary and secondary school.

Plainfield native's husband part of Disney's 'Frozen'

He's a senior character modeler, self-taught

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hope Seems to be Feeling Better

Hope started some new medicine and some concentrated, bland food today and--so far--she has not vomited. Hoping, hoping, hoping...

I was surprised myself by getting some fiction done last night--Before the Blood, to be exact--and had planned to do so again tonight, but I wound up stuck late at work (no ride) so that's a wash for tonight. It has, however, been a productive night, workwise.

Staked! is still right on track. :)

It appears a ride is now on the way. Time to pack up my toys and get outta here. Four-thirty comes 'round awfully soon.

Monday, February 24, 2014

We Need Hope

And, unfortunately, Hope has not kept down any food since Thursday. Despite medication, fluids, and a vet trip, she has gotten worse.

We just buried her brother last spring, and, being homeless, we don't even have a place to bury her, should it come down to that.

At any rate, we are not ready to say, "Good-bye" to another cat, especially when those cats have not been able to run around outside, their ultimate enjoyment, in many, many, many months.

So please send up some prayers, good thoughts, etc. for Hope.

Thank you.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Despite work, I (FINALLY) Spent Part of this Weekend in Munsonville

I wrote two stories (one less than I wanted to get done).

I met with two fiction writers I'm mentoring.

I spent two hours working the Joliet Chamber of Commerce Expo at Louis Joliet Mall and, while doing so, signed several people up for subscriptions to The Herald-News. :)

I performed some editorial duties as this weekend's "on call" editor.

And after grabbing my Before the Blood notes for last night's bedtime reading, I shelved story number three this afternoon in favor of nineteenth century Munsonville, where Henry Matthews is very much alive, where half the book is told from Bryony's point of view, where the POV's of John, Kellen, and Henry all matter...and speak their minds.

It's where you'll finally meet up close characters to which Bryony only alluded--the publisher Albert Brumfeldt. piano manufacturer Herbert Rutherford, the stupidly rich Marshall Harrington, Bartholomew and Edwina Smythe, Bertha Parks, Susan Betts, James and Maybelle Fisher, Galien and Adele Marseilles, Abbott and Lucetta Simons, Bryga Czarnecki and her daughter Anna.

This sixty chapter tome (plus prologue and epilogue) also introduces some very new and pivotal characters and places that I can't wait to share: Everett and Prudence Spencer, their children, Granny Spencer, and Spencer Inn; Savannah Holloway; Edwin and Millicent Gothart; Lawrence Girard; Dana and Clarice Hewitt; Erland and Erasmus Borgstrom; Harold and Louise Matthews; Carlton Mandeville, Francis and Bess McCloud, and poor Nora and her family.

That decision has put me behind schedule tonight. It will mean a little less sleep and a lot more crazier week. But I'll be a, if not calmer, than happier writer for it.

But first, Staked!, which should be available for purchase within the month. Interior art is formatted, waiting on final cover assembly.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Just a Story Round Up...For Now...Wait, I've Changed My Mind...

It feels like Christmas...or...maybe Halloween?

At any rate, I have stumbled upon a number of rare, gothic, supernatural stories that I CANNOT WAIT to dig into. New bedtime reading, here I come!

And while in the past I have shared short stories and poetry here--for fast and easy reading--well, that's about to change.

Have you ever read Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier? No? Well, read it here, and glimpse bits of inspiration for Bryony.

Below are my stories that appeared in this week's Herald-News.

Seventy years later, couple still in love

Meet Curly and Norma and learn the true secret to marital happiness.

An Extraordinary Life: Joliet woman thought of herself first, others last

And she did it with total class! :)

Making a difference, one cat at a time

Roberta Drake does more than feeds the feral cats that appear on her doorstep. She also catches them, vets them, and re-homes them,

Christian church in Joliet celebrates its Jewish heritage

Includes directions on how you can do the same

Minooka Bible Church members minister in Haiti, find faith

The return gift is always more inspiring.

'Just Because' tour is Yearwood's 'thank you' to fans

Yearwood shares her thoughts of music, cooking, fans, and this tour.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February Thunderstorms in the Midwest? Welcome to Winter 2014!

My walking rule for this winter goes like this: one (or two, if I'm lucky) days on and one (usually two) weeks off due to polar vortexes and other fun events.

This week, I walked on Monday in a white-out, fell badly on the hidden  ice, and came stumbling home. Tuesday, I went out in a much throttled back version. Yesterday, the same, for, although the weather was awesome, patches of ice ground me to a halt every few paces.

Today, despite the forecast of freezing rain, I felt hopeful I'd get a clear patch before work and beat the odds. Hope rose at three-thirty this morning when raging thunder awakened me. Surely, the deluge would be long done by six-thirty, the official start of power walk time.

But at five, the storms (and thunder) were still going strong. The thunder had died away at six, but the rain still pattered loudly and steadily an hour later. Not to be defeated again (although getting some extra work done was extra tempting), I flew back upstairs for some music and calisthenics.

Now I feel behind and have to hurry. Par, right?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chapter Titles for "Staked!"

Staked! Chapters.
1)      Returning Home
2)      The Leather-Bound Diary
3)      Paradise in the Old Oak Tree
4)      Midnight Apprentice
5)      School Physical
6)      Outcast
7)      Musical Chairs
8)      The Legacy of Cornell Dyer
9)      Nature of the Beast
10)  Teacher’s Pet
11)  A New Friend
12)  Last Choice
13)  The Mad Scientist
14)  Time Out
15)  Mouse in the House
16)  When a Door Closes, Open Windows
17)  The Gift from the Grave
18)  Fallen Hero
19)  Blood Revenge
20)  Heartbreak
21)  The Land Beyond the Dreams
22)  Living on the Edge
23)  Creature Comforts
24)  Pot of Gold
25)  The Steward of Tara
26)  Ruthless Business
27)  A Royal Pain in the Neck
28)  War of the Words
29)  A Matter of Life and Death
30)  Lost and Found:









Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Back Cover Text for "Staked!"

John Simons stretched out his hand toward John-Peter and offered him the dark crimson liquid in his half full goblet.

“For the blood,” John Simons said, “is the life.”

Behind him, Karla inhaled deeply. “Oh, gosh, John-Peter! What does this mean?”

“I don’t know,” John-Peter said, “but I’m going to find out.”

For seventeen-year-old John-Peter Simotes, prodigy of a college music professor that died from a mysterious illness and was staked by his best friend’s vampire-slayer father, growing up in a remote fishing village means tolerating an English teacher mother, enduring a Bible-thumping grandfather, working for a newspaper delivery uncle and a funeral director stepfather,  playing with astral projection, and waiting for the right opportunity to rescue the princess trapped in a bedroom mirror.

So when John-Peter accidentally discovers a diary written by his deceased great-grandmother, revealing her claims that a famous nineteenth century pianist and composer with a connection to the village and a resemblance to the music professor was actually a vampire, he and his best friend, Karla Dyer, decide to resurrect the vampire to prove her theory.

But experiments with magic and immortality do more than test the information set forth by a mentally unstable woman. They unlock the truth about John-Peter’s real identity, the evil motives of people he trusts, and the mission upon which he must embark to save them all.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Growth is the hallmark charecteristic of any organism. Stop growth, and it dies. Even God, who says, "I change not," moves and moves us: "The Spirit of God hovered above the waters." Genesis 1:2 and "Like clothing you will change them." Psalm 102:26

In novels, change and growth are the elements that compel readers to turn pages (more movement). Description does not make scenes pop; action does, for movement snatches our brain's attention like nothing eles. Unconvinced? Think of the cliche where one is focusing hard and...oh, look! A rabbit!

See? And I'll bet your mind follows my gaze and conjures up that rabbit.

Although it's refreshing to pause, to dwell in the moment and to seek comfort in the familiar, it's change that keeps stories crisp, relationships vibrant, and our lives infused with rich and deep meaning.

Many times, change comes unbidden. Often, it's unwanted. Yet, as my mentor once told me many moons ago, when I shared that I didn't want something to change, she said, "Everything is in a state of flux."

Resisting change is impossible; it's unwise.

And, yet, underlying the constant motion that propels us forward, even when we're digging our heels into the earth below our feet--earth that is softer than we ever completely realize--each and everyone one of us can count on three things that will outlast all that is transient in this world (and in the worlds we create for the enjoyment and/or edification of otherse and ourselves: faith, hope and love.

And the greatest, of course, as Paul said, is love.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Vampire Love Poetry and Story Round Up

Happy Valentine's Day, vampire fans!

Can't decide how to say the right words to that special someone? For love poems with an "eternal" twist, check out this site:
Below are the stories that appeared in this week's The Herald-News:
JJC history professor explores Britain's view of the United States
It's a complicated answer, Dr. John Lyons said, depending on what angle one is taking. AND, if you want to know Britain's general view of Dr. Who (according to Lyons), click here:
Special needs consultant knows the importance of advocacy
Who better to understand someone who's experienced it as both a sister and a mother?

My big sis, my hero
A non-writer tween wins an essay contest with a piece about his autistic sister

Teacher cared more for lives than grades
Dr. Larry Nelson not only lived well, he taught his students how to do so, too.

Romeoville Humane Society volunteer wears multiple hats
Helping animals, that's her goal. So she joyfully takes on multiple roles.

JJC graduates living the dream at Walt Disney World Resort
In the late 1980s, a newlywed couple enrolled in Joliet Junior College's culinary arts program. Immediately after graduation, they were hired at Disney. See what they're doing now.
Elena's Angels
What makes an incident miraculous and not mere coincidence or fancy? The certainty of knowing...

Joliet woodworker crafts for the enjoyment
Although Terrance Parr learned the craft many years ago for one very practical reason. Read on.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Well No Fiction Last Night

I forgot that Wednesdays are my late night at work, the fall-out of needing rides to and fro, so I will begin again tonight.

Today, I'm experiencing a slight role reversal with Sarah Stegall. All 2014, she's been texting me pictures of sunny Raleigh while she's out walking on her lunch hour, taunting her mother languishing away inside due to a long stretch of brutally cold temperatures. Well, yesterday, it took her six hours to drive home through a freak ice storm when her destination was only twenty minutes away. Here in Illinois, we're experiencing an unusual heat wave of thirteen degrees, so at the signs of a lightening sky, I am outa here! Walk, here I come.

It'll be good to move the ol' body around and shake the cobwebs out of my brain. I hope it will wake up the sleeping muse.

Have a great day, vampire fans! (Raising coffee mug in a friendly salute!)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tidbits and a few Soundbites

Wifi is running slowly this morning and making me cross as I watch the minutes tick past, grumble, grrrr....even thought about posting a silly cat video, but even YouTube is taking its time loading.


Awesome turnout last night at The Herald-News, and I mean a REALLY awesome turnout. All of a sudden, a hundred people must have filed in. I reconnected with former colleagues and community members and became acquainted with new ones. If you didn't have the opportunity to stop, please do so during the week. I'd love to meet you.

Obviously, I didn't get to any fiction last night, except to post my "Staked!" Countdown quote. Does that comment leave you thinking, "???" Then become a fan at and find out. :)

A local pet photographer approached me and asked if she could take pictures of me and my cats for a celebrity pet project she's shooting to benefit animal rescue. I'm assuming she means my cats when she says, "celebrity;" in fact I can see Hope now, practicing poses for that her likeness graces the front of a cereal box. And yes, I really can imagine Hope on the cover of a cereal box.

Still pining for a silly cat video, and YouTube is still not cooperating. Another reason to "like" us on Facebook! Please turn my frown into a smile by posting cat videos there today...and then check back later to see if anyone else did so, too.

Have a great day, vampire fans!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"Staked!" Update, Etc.

So Sarah had a day off yesterday, and her wifi went down. The darn thing came back up at the end of the day. Anyway, she plans to finish the interior art in a week, her next day off. I don't see that pushing the release back, as that should complete the project. (I hope).

I did play around with fiction last night, a little hesitatingly, feeling as if I was breaking a diet by sneaking chocolate, as it has been a long time since I allowed myself that luxury during the week. I totally enjoyed it, and it refocused my mind in very positive ways. I can quickly see this becoming a habit!!!

For those of you in the Joliet area, The Herald-News is having an open house tonight, 5 to 6 p.m., 2175 Oneida Street, Joliet. Stop by; I'd love to meet you.

Have a wonderful, if briskly cold at -20, day! :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Rethinking Fiction

No, I'm not giving it up, no way!

But I'm definitely considering giving it some space in my evenings, instead of the whole attitude of "Get every last scrap of work done before venturing into playtime."

A little playtime might refresh and renew my mind for the work, even as the work sharpens my skills for better play.

Anyway, that's where my mind is at today.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Finally Caught Up at Work...and the Thirty Day Countdown to "Staked!" Begins

Hopefully by tomorrow night, the cover to Staked! will be on its way to Cal Graphics for spine insertion and bar code.

Sarah Stegall has the manuscript and hopes to insert all interior art by the end of tomorrow.

Thirty Day Countdown Quotes begin tomorrow on Facebook. Not a fan? Like us at

In real life, the new job as features editor at The Herald-News is making sense. :)

I planned my first set of Sunday pages all by myself on Friday. I swear I held my breath until I cracked open that newspaper this morning, but they looked fine, WHEW!

More training this week, and an open house and ribbon cutting from five to six-thirty on Tuesday.

HOPEFULLY, I'm not only back to daily blogging, but also back to fiction next weekend (after getting taxes done, that is). I have worked every weekend straight since Thanksgiving; I am now one week ahead in story planning, YIPPEE!

I can't decide if I should concentrate on art for Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone or work on the prequel. Thoughts?

Thursday, February 6, 2014


When I was a very little girl, I had thought this was a real animal. At some point along the way, I realized otherwise, just as I realized the truth of other mythical characters, such as Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc.

Perhaps one of the hallmarks of growing up is no longer thinking like a child, which then, hopefully, eliminates childish behavior.

Sometimes, people mistakenly equate "childish" with the quite the adult "child-like" and consider mature thinking as devoid of imagination, creativity, belief in the impossible, etc., as they, one by one, relinqish their hold on all that seemed magical in childhood.

In fact, quite the opposite is true. It takes a heavy dose of maturity to remain "childlike" (open and vulnerable to possibilities) while saying a firm "au revoir" to "childish." (self-seeking, grasping, tunnel vision, etc.).

When my oldest son was learning to walk, he and I owned quite differing views on where it was appropriate to steer one's foot and quite the tug of war would ensue.

Sometimes, a hard thump on the ass is enough to jolt one back to reality, so when he'd resist my efforts at guiding him, and he'd yank in the opposite direction, I let go. Sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn't, but it did release both of us from useless, frustrating grappling.

I think sometimes we humans sometimes get stuck relationship patterns that resemble Dr. Dolittle's "find." That's when it might be best to recoqnize what's real and what's not and disengage from pointless arm wrestling situations.

Just a thought.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I'm Outta Here!

Twenty-five degrees!

Good-bye polar vortex! I'm a-takin' this grossly unexercised body outside and z-zippin' through the snow. Power walk, here I come!!!

Tomorrow, when the head is cleared of cobwebs from not moving around outside, I'll attempt to write something brilliant. In the meantime, gonna accomplish breakfast and packing up food and drink and backpack for work, so when the first rays of pink break through that night sky, Denise, her headphones, and music are part of it.

Have a great day, vampire fans!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Going Forward

I'd never heard that phrase until Shaw Media hired me as features editor for The Hearld-News on January 15, but I have since heard it many times and now even say it (a lot).

Seeing as my blog posting has been rather uneven during job training--and I have management training in Elgin today--here's where life is at with books, business, and the rest of life.

*  Story round-up: I will try to locate past stories by titles this weekend, but if I don't the past week's postings will be up. The problem was reading the entire story, as parts would be blocked out. A reader contacted me yesterday wondering how to "unblock" it, and my editor provided the answer. For now, the problem is with certain browsers, and The Herald-News is trying to fix it. For now, if there's a problem reading a story, try opening the page in Firefox, Safari, or Chrome. Those seem to be working fine.

Staked!: I gave it another read-through (aloud) this weekend, as Tom Hernandez, the author that wrote its forward, had noted a number of typos. It is now back to Sarah Stegall, who is finally ready to insert art. She has finished the cover, I believe, so it should be ready to send to Cal Graphics for completion.

Work: Except for reading Staked! and going to church, I worked another weekend.

*  We actually made it to church this weekend! Snow, sickness, and car troubles prevented most Sundays so far this year.

And that, folks, is about it. Learning the nuances of the new job is gobbling up all my time, except for some conversations with the people closest in my life. I really want to quickly master it and then execute it well, so please be patient with me in the interim.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Irish Jokes

In Staked!, Ed Calkins entertains John-Peter on the newspaper route by inventing Irish limericks, singing Irish songs, and telling Irish jokes.

As we draw closer (FINALLY!) to the release of Staked!, here's some Irish jokes to get you in the mood.