Thursday, March 31, 2016

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Gasps

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Gasps

Long night, short rest, and big deadlines today!

Over the next few days, I'll share the details of last night's filming of the Bryony book trailer and the Bryony music video.

But for today, we'll let the pictures tell the story.

Christopher Blankenship on set of the Bryony book trailer.

A sinister view as James Onohan gets into his role as John Simons.

Josh Siegers working with Rebekah Baran during filming for the Bryony book trailer.

James Onohan as himself in Victorian clothing for the filming of the "Bryony" music video.

Christopher Blankenship as John Simons and Rebekah Baran as Melissa Marchellis during shooting for the Bryony book trailer.

James Onohan Playing "Bryony."

To view the complete album visit Click on photos and then the album P. Seth Magosky Museum of Victorian Life.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Getting There, Not Quite

I've learned a lot abot my characters through working on the Q&A's, and shadowy ideas are flitting through my mind, nothing too developed, but certainly there.

The muse is in better shape than it was several weeks ago, but something is lacking before I can begin.

I know what this chapter will show. I have a previously written strong ending, which is also a good inciting incident. The characters are becoming three-dimensional.

But I think it needs more tension.

Now maybe those ideas will come when I start actually writing this draft. However, since I'm suffering from a case of stopped-up ideas, I'm thinking the tension needs to come first.

Drawing a blank...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Hello, Monday

It felt good working everyone else's Easter weekend.

It meant every editor had the holiday off, including me, when mine rolls around on May 1.

It meant the opportunity to catch up on some (not all; it was an ambitious list, but some) tasks I kept pushing back due to lack of time.

It meant working with two of the reporters, something I don't normally do.

It meant feeling good about having the upcoming weekend off. I have nothing planned (except fiction - Before the Blood -  on Saturday and church and health pages on Sunday).

It meant feeling good about helping out.

It meant feeling good about watching my youngest kids, now all adults, take commond of much of the household (I have my chores, which they did for me this weekend) and enjoying the fruits that come with the labors of others - and feeling proud of the adults they have become.

Monday morning mood over a delicious cup of dark roast: serene and anticipatory.

Hello, Monday. :)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, March 20 through March 25

A blur of a busy week, culminating yesterday with a day of pebbles in the path, which leads into  a second shift of weekend editor this month. I offered to do it, so that everyone else could enjoy this Easter weekend. The tradeoff is that I, too, will be off Easter weekend, when it rolls around April 30/May 1.

And fiction? I'm wrapping up my character questionnaires. Working on them has brought shadowing scenes of Henry's chapter three into view. If I get some time this weekend, I'm going to print them (since I now have toner again, hurray!), study the whole, and (hopefully) write an outline, with some small assignments for next weekend. The goal is that next weekend, I can write in earnest. Again, hopefully.

Now for the real work.

Check out the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Three of them can be found at the link below. Gotta Do It, runs each Sunday and often stays on the home page through 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.

And if you do peek at these stories, to quote our editor Kate Schott, "Thank you for reading The Herald-News." :)

Will County TUFF Hunters connects kids with their families and nature

The motto? "Give ’em a tackle box, not an Xbox."

An Extraordinary Life: Joliet man helped disband Chicago crime syndicate

In 1974, Lawrence Morrissey opened a private practice in Chicago while working for the Joliet law firm O’Brien, Garrison, Berard & Kusta. The clients who most concerned Lawrence weren’t wealthy business clients, but working class people – a barber with a tax problem or a struggling breadwinner facing criminal charges.

Pets of the Week: March 21

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

Joliet and Morris doctors put toxic shock syndrome in perspective
By Jeanne Millsap

Five other cases of toxic shock syndrome have been documented in Michigan in the last three months. All of the six cases have been linked to tampon use, but local doctors said tampons are safe and continue to be a reliable and hygienic method to absorb menstrual flow.

Everest Academy community in Lemont creates replica of Holy Doors

With the guidance of kindergarten through eighth grade art teacher April Wadsworth, the students at this independent Catholic school replicated the Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, which are opened only during a jubilee year.

'Handcrafted America' will feature Joliet couple March 29 (VIDEO EXTRA)

Start a family business? That was Chad Schumacher’s answer to unemployment.

His wife’s reaction?
“I thought he was crazy,” said Jessica Schumacher, Chad’s wife. “We had a 2-month-old, no jobs, and he wanted to make pens.”

Thursday, March 24, 2016

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: "Every House Tells a Story" by Sarah Stegall

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Every House Tells a Story.

I stepped back into history last Saturday morning when I stepped forward into the P. Seth Magosky Museum of Victorian Life. With the exceptions of brownies in the parlor and the filmming equipment in the sitting room, nothing appeared to have been changed in over 100 years! Pat Magosky even offered me tea!

A few members of the Bryony team, author included, were there for the filming. I felt like such a celebrity being fitted with a microphone and sharing news about the first book in the Bryony Series. And lets face it, I did fly almost 2,000 miles in two days to bowl in the fundraiser for Big Brothers, Big Sisters and for this book interview. After wrapping up the final take, I got to explore this beautiful house. Ever hear every house tells a story? Well this one can fill its own library.

In the basement you had the servant's quarters and what was once the kitchen, now boasting a bar with tables around the fireplace. On the main floor, when you enter, is the gorgeous staircase, the parlor, sitting room, the porch, a modernish bathroom, and the dining room which features a grand piano (I played it). On the second floor there are three bedrooms a sitting alcove, the library and a bathroom. I spent more time than I should have ooohing and aaahing.

On the third floor, I was enthralled in the "doll room." It might have once been a toy room from the look of it, but now it features dolls from all over, most of them very old. In the ballroom, I played Bethoven's "Ode to Joy" on the pipe organ (coincidentally the only song I've ever been taught) and imagined what life would have been like over 100 years ago.

There was one thing I would not partake in. On the third floor, there is a spiral stepping, (no banister) which has lots of movement. Pat Magosky offers all guests the opportunity to climb up and see the view of Joliet, IL. It's about twenty feet up... I climbed a third of the way up, but I was overwhelmed with more than nagging thoughts about my little boy who I was already missing. I didn't want to put myself in any conflicting situations so I climbed down. (This does say quite a bit about my changed character, because a decade ago I would of raced up those stairs, high heels and all).

As I made my descent down from the third floor I felt a bonding with Bryony's main character, Melissa Marchellis. I could easily see myself living between two time periods. As I felt the polished banister beneath my hand, an overwhelming sense of sadness enveloped me. This house boasts a beautiful history and I wonder how many people will never see the inside, where the rooms come alive, their stories lingering on every object.

Sarah Stegall

Monday, March 21, 2016

Spring Break?

So Rebekah and Daniel were on spring break last week and return to work and school today. It was a different sort of spring break.

For one, they were helping to care for Timothy's girl friend who was sick with mono while Tiimothy and I were at work.

Second, Daniel did work at JJC three of those days.

And third, they did an amazing amount (on their own, without being asked) of spring cleaning. Daniel especially went took the lead and even used his own money to purchase items for the townhome that he felt especially made it "homey."

They also rearranged and reorganized, all in good ways.

Having been the lead homemaker all of their lives, it was quite the wonderous experience for me to have someone else make the home. Everything feels sparkling clean, serene, peaceful. I even slept great the last two nights.

I am so appreciative.

I wish I'd taken photos. Maybe later...

For readers who are parents: If you ever wonder if the day in and day frustrations of molding your children into responsbible caring adults is worth is, it is. It really and truly is.

Just don't take credit for the results. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Was Hoping to Post a Video, But...

It's been a busy weekend, even for a video.

From speaking at a high school on Monday to being out of the office half on day on Wednesday, to going from work to WriteOnJoliet on Thursday and from work to teaching on Friday to spending over twelve hours at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church on Saturday with our spaghetti dinner to church, some personal stuff and work today...

What's so hard about posting a video, you say?

The video is one of Timothy singing after cleanup last night. For some mysterious reason, Blogger won't upload my videos, only photos and only through certain browsers. No, it's not user error; I always get someone more expert than I to try (like a child).

So the video has to be first uploaded to the BryonySeries YouTube account, AND THEN I can share it on the blog. YouTube is Rebekah's domain, so until she gets a chance, I won't get a chance.


I think Rebekah can use a little encouragement. Readers, how 'bout cheering her on?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, March 7 through March 18

Many personal obligations this past week, which I met by trading out fiction time. This weekend is full, and next weekend I'm the weekend editor.


We now have a fourth editor again, so I have some free weekends in April. I am definitely looking forward to the breather. In the meantime, reading over past work and working on character development are definitely nudging me closer to a first draft for Henry, chapter three. :)

Now for the real work.

Check out the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Three of them can be found at the link below. Gotta Do It, runs each Sunday and often stays on the home page through 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.

And if you do peek at these stories, to quote our editor Kate Schott, "Thank you for reading The Herald-News." :)

Local woman making and selling purses in Morris to benefit Haitian students (VIDEO EXTRA)

LeeAnne Glabe helped found a technical school in Haiti and teaches beginning sewing to its students once a year. Now Glabe is using her skills to raise money for new sewing machines for the school. But these purses aren't ordinary purses.

An Extraordinary Life: Man raised in Joliet was friendly and smiling no matter what

Justin Heard died suddenly from complications related to extremem obesity. He was only 28. But along the way, Heard reached out and used his own struggles to lift the spirits of others.

Joliet area caregivers, supporters discuss challenges of seniors caring for seniors

A thought-provoking story on a growing problem with no easy answer. It provokded the thoughts of an Illinois state senator, who sent me a handwritten note yesterday calling this story "outstanding."

Frankfort church to celebrate growth with grand opening

A finance expert leaves the career path behind in favor of seminary. Then he's hired at a church with less than forty members. In less than a decade, he and those members grew that congregation to eight hundred and expanded the church's space by sixty-five percent.

Frankfort native is on production team for TV show "Big Fish, Texas"

The back story is an interesting mix of tequila, solid reportiong, a Super Bowl party, a lifelong dream, sustainable deepwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, family values, fish tagging, and a successful show on the National Geographic channel.

Say what? Read on.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Another Famous Tolstoy

Friday, October 15, 2010

Another Famous Tolstoy

Many people have heard of Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace), but not everyone knows that his cousin, Alexis Tolstoy, wrote vampires stories. I can’t find any of them online and his book,Vampires: Stories of the Supernatural, is out of print, but it is for sale on various sites that sell used books.

That book contains three stories: The VampireFamily of a Vourdalak (dramatized by Boris Karloff in the movie, Black Sabbath, 1963), The Reunion After Three Hundred Years, and Amena. No favorites for me here; all four are exceptionally well-written.

The novella Vampire (1841) opens with young man, Runevsky, attending a ball. One guest comments about the number oupyrs (vampires) present at the event and points them out to Runevsky. Of course, Runevsky falls in love with the granddaughter, Dasha, of one of the purported vampires and begins to court her. Strange things happen to him when he visits the family. When they tell fortunes by reading random passages from books, Dasha reads the chilling, “And the grandmother will suck her granddaughter’s blood.” Then Runevsky spends the night in a room that contains an old-fashioned portrait of a deceased relative, who naturally resembles Dasha. Known as the first modern Russian vampire story, The Vampire also weaves elements of Greek mythology and contains interesting dream states.

The short story Family of a Vourdalak is the story of a Russian patriarch that leaves home to fight a band of bandits. He tells his family if returns after sunset on a particular day not to let him inside, for he will be a vourdalak (vampire). Since he arrives immediately at sunset, the family is uncertain what to do and allow him entrance. Wrong decision.

In The Reunion After Three Hundred Years, a duchess, after a carriage accident, becomes the guest at a macabre reunion of guests. Amena is set during the Christian persecutions. A man, destined to be martyred for his faith with his companions, is sidetracked by a seductively mysterious woman.

I first read this book at my local library, so perhaps yours has it, too. Definitely worth the price if you buy.

Denise M. Baran-Unland

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Getting To Know My Characters: It's Making All The Difference, Part Two

Write what you know. How many times we, as writers, have heard this maxim?

And yet, in our impatience to get our story down, we so often forget to do just that.

Now writing what you know doesn't mean limiting your prose to memoirs and personal experiences. But it does mean gaining an understanding of the subject you're attempting to convey.

The prequel of the BryonySeries, Before the Blood, is an experiement in writing for me, a series of unfinished novels that propel the story forward. I began outling the Before the Blood in 2011 and began writing it in earnest in 2014. Three novels are completed, two remain. The last is the longest.

Along the way, I've encountered dry spells and tackled them in different ways: finding a song that represented the mood of a particular scene; chapter; or character; writing randomly and following the trail; taking a walk and envisioning the action; finding photos online that look like my characters or scenes.

Then I hit Henry's Story and hit a wall, very puzzling. In Bryony, Henry, after Melissa, was the easiest character to write and, so, I wrote most of his scenes first. Since then, I've looked forward to depicting Henry once again.

So why is he remaining in the shadows?

The first chapter in Henry's section was easy to write. Well, okay, most of it was previously written. Chapter One was strenuous, and Chapter Two is eluding me altogether, despite the outline.

Finally two weekends ago, as I was out walking the track in the dark with my headphones, searching for a melody that would unblock the muse, I realized I was trying to write what I did not know. The other characters were like stand-up paper dolls in my mind, artfully arranged, but without depth and personality.

Who were these other people?

I wasn't quite sure.

So I began asking them questions, minute details that may or may not ever be used in the story. This goes beyond basic traits like hair color and hobbies. The questions read more like this:

• What makes your character laugh out loud?

• Your character is doing intense spring cleaning. What is easy for her to throw out? What is difficult for her to part with? Why?

• What does your character regard as the lowest depth of misery?

• If your character could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

• If your character were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

• Who are your character’s friends and family? Who does she surround herself with? Who are the people your character is closest to? Who does he wish he were closest to?

• What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

• Where does your character go when he’s angry?

I have a list of approximately thirty questions for each character. Like a time-elapsed video, they are plumping out and taking form. As they begin to move and breathe, so does the chapter.

Yes, this is time-consuming. But the result will be natural, layered, and rich.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Three Maneuvers That's Helping the Muse

Slowly, slowly, slowly, but somewhat surely, my muse is starting to spark. I think it's a combination of three things.

One: I gave it a rest. It's true I don't have great amounts of time for writing fiction, but I do spend the majority of my day writing and editing. Even the most active brain (mine, which continues to fire at night while my body struggles to sleep) needs time to recuperate. Since 2008, I've written, edited, and published three novels and a cookbook, as well as outlined a long experimental novel consisting of five unfinished novels. Since 2014, I've written three of them. See what I mean? That's enough to shut down even the most enthusiastic muse.

Two: Last week, I began spending some time with my newest characters. Relationships take time to grow, even imaginary ones, and I can't properly tell their tale if I don't know them.

Three: I set aside the character Q&As this weekend in favor of slow, serene walks, time spent with extended family, and the rereading of various parts of Before the Blood already written. This gave me encouragement for the next journey and pure enjoyment in what's already accomplished.

I'll incontinue in this mode for a couple of weeks. On Saturday I'm working the spaghetti dinner at our church and next weekend I'm on call. By the time I get to that third weekend, I anticipate my muse will be bursting with ideas and nudging me to the computer.

Happy Monday, vampire vans. ;)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

How to Make Gravy Without a Proper Recipe (Be Warned)

Beef Gravy (Brown Sauce)

Furnish a thick and well-tinned stewpan with a thin slice of salt pork, or an ounce of butter, and a middling-sized onion; on this lay a pound of nice, juicy gravy beef, (as the object in making gravy is to extract the nutritious succulence of the meat, it must be beaten to comminute the containing vessels, and scored to augment the surface to the action of the water); cover the stewpan, and set it on a slow fire; when the meat begins to brown, turn it about, and let it get slightly browned (but take care it is not at all burned): then pour in a pint and a half of boiling water; set the pan on the fire; when it boils, carefully catch the scum, and then put in a crust of bread toasted brown (don't burn it) a sprig of winter savory, or lemon thyme and parsley--a roll of thin cut lemon-peel, a dozen berries of allspice, and a dozen of black pepper. Cover the stewpan close, and let it stew very gently for about two hours, then strain it through a sieve into a basin. Now, if you wish to thicken it, set a clean stewpan over a slow fire, with about an ounce of butter in it; when it is melted, dredge to it, by degrees, as much flour as will dry it up, stirring them well together; when thoroughly mixed, pour in a little gravy--stir it well together, and add the remainder by degrees; set it over the fire, let it simmer gently for fifteen minutes longer, skim off the fat, &c. as it rises; when it is about as thick as cream, squeeze it through a tamis or fine sieve--and you will have a fine rich Brown Sauce, at a very moderate expense, and without much trouble.

The Cook's Own Book, 1832


Friday, March 11, 2016

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, March 6 through March 11

Got a bit back into the fiction saddle this week. A light bulb moment this weekend showed the deficiency: I was trying to write scenes with characters I didn't know well. I liken it to attempting to write a feature story without interviewing anyone.

So this week, I dug out the ye olde character questionnaires and began the process of becoming introduced to these new people in my head. It's a slow process, but ideas are spinning, very heartening.

The slow process will extend into the weekend. Although I am not on call, I will be out of the office two mornings this week (speaking at a high schoool on Monday and accompanying my oldest son on a personal errand on Wednesday), so I need to ensure the work gets done. That's in addition to visiting a disabled adult niece on Saturday, someone I love dearly and have not seen for years.

In the meantime, check out the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Three of them can be found at the link below. Gotta Do It, runs each Sunday and often stays on the home page through 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.

And if you do peek at these stories, to quote our editor Kate Schott, "Thank you for reading The Herald-News." :)

Three Plainfield brothers attain Eagle Scout, follow father into firefighting
By Jeanne Millsap

Why? And how? Read on.

An Extraordinary Life: Joliet woman gave her time in simple and humble ways

If Emma owned it, she probably gave it away.

Fundraiser for toddler with neuroblastoma to be held in New Lenox
By Jeanne Millsap

 Jase has endured five rounds of chemotherapy, surgery, 13 blood transfusions, a three-week coma on a ventilator, three lung collapses, fungal lung infections, an infected central line in his chest and treatment with methadone for withdrawals from his pain medication.

Members of Eastern Orthodox churches in Joliet reflect on the meaning of Lent

For all its traditions, Lent is ultimately an opportunity for reflection – on our lives, our spirituality, Christ’s passion and resurrection – and renewed encouragement to take up our own cross and walk in Jesus’ footsteps.

Romeoville's Lewis University to tell stories of 3 Latin American women

On Monday, actress Rosa Rodriguez and pianist Byron Sean will perform the show as part of the company Core Ensemble in the St. Charles Borromeo Convocation Center at Lewis University in Romeoville.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

BryonySeries Throwback Series: Directions for Cutting Up a Hog , Victorian-Style: Lovingly Dedicated to My Son, Timothy Baran

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Directions for Cutting Up a Hog , Victorian-Style: Lovingly Dedicated to My Son, Timothy Baran

Yesterday, my culinary arts student, chef-in-training, and professional cook fabricated a finger instead of the carrot he was chopping. So after spending the better part of yesterday afternoon in a hospital emergency room, we are off to a hand specialist today, some couple of hours away from home.

In keeping in the spirit of our recent drama, it seemed like a good time to share how the cooks at Simons Mansion dissected pigs for kitchen purposes. First published in the 1860's "Miss Beecher’s domestic receiptbook: designed as a supplement to her Treatise on domestic economy."

Split the hog through the spine, take off each half of the head behind the ear, then take off a piece front of the shoulder and next the head, say four or five pounds, for sausages.

Then take out the leaf, which lies around the kidneys, for lard.

Then, with a knife, cut out the whole mass of the lean meat, except what belongs to the shoulder and the ham.

Then take off the ham and the shoulder. Then take out all the fat to be used for lard, which is the loose piece, directly in front of the ham.

Next cut off a narrow strip from the spring, or belly, for sausage meat. Cut up the remainder, which is clear pork, for salting, in four or five strips of nearly equal width. Take off the cheek, or jowl, of the head for smoking with the ham; and use the upper part for boiling, baking, or head cheese.

The feet are boiled and then fried,, or used for jelly. It is most economical to try up the thin flabby pieces for lard to cook with. (Editor's note: "Try" is not a typo).

The fat leaf try by itself, for the nicest cooking.

Clean all the intestines of the fat for lard. That which does not readily separate from the larger intestines, use for soap grease.

Of the insides, the liver, heart, sweet-breads, and kidneys are sometimes used for broiling or frying. The smaller intestines are used for sausage cases.

In salting down, leave out the bloody and lean portions and use them for sausages.

Except for the language, Timothy said that fabrication techniques have changed little through the decades.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Unblocking the Writer's Block

Scattered among editorial duties this past was a series of short walks, accompanied by music and headphones, as I gently tried to nudge my muse into cooperation.

As bits of scenes sparked and vanished, I realized part of the trouble is lack of development. Well, duh?

By that, I mean the characters in Henry's early chapters of Before the Blood are flat, their interactions are hidden, and the overall premise of the chapter is thin.

First step, spend some time with the characters and get to know them. Back to the character questionnaires!

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Peaked Winter Cap

Because I have a small head, I have a hard time getting winter hats to fit properly; I wind up with a Pillsbury Doughboy look.

While leaving the gas station yesterday morning after grabbing some bold coffee, I caught myself in the window and commented on the hat's weird look. I wish I could remember Daniel's exact wording (Why don't I write this stuff down???), but he laughed it off and said something to the effect that it's because my head is full of ideas.

I loved it; Rebekah felt he'd created a monster. 

My head is so stuffed with ideas, even my hat can't contain them. :)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Overnight Toffee-Apple French Toast

Get a jump on tomorrow's breakfast with this recipe submission from my oldest daughter and BryonySeries web administrator emeritus.

Waking up to Brian’s incessant pounding after a disappointing dream is made all the more pleasant with a whiff of Steve’s French toast.

Overnight Toffee-Apple French Toast
By Sarah Stegall

8 cups cubed French bread
2-3 tart apples, peeled and chopped
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup brown sugar
1 ¾ cup milk, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
½ cup English toffee bits
5 eggs

Grease a 9x13 inch pan. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth; add toffee. In another bowl, beat eggs, remaining milk, and vanilla until blended. Layer half the bread, apples, cream cheese mixture, remaining bread, and then eggs. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator for 30 minutes. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 minutes more. Toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

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

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

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Steward Setback Saturday: Irish Vampire Facts

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Irish Vampire Facts

There really aren't any.

True, Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla) and Bram Stoker (Dracula) were both Irish. There is also the Gaelic Dearg-Due, always female, that rises from the grave at night to drain the blood (some say life force) of men, but to kill them, not for a meal.

That's about it.

Ed Calkins, the Steward of Tara, is not only creating legend for himself, he is establishing Ireland's first vampire lore.

Is this worthy of a national parade? You decide.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Feb. 28 through March 4

Been a low fiction week in terms of composition only. Certainly busy in other area.

On Monday night, I shared my ideas and tips of revision to a group of four writers (including one employee, an aspiring novelist) who was on the clock but had permission to join us) and answered their questions. That was the Plainfield Public Library. In return for my time, the library sent a donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties. What a win-win night. :)

Last night, I co-led WriteOn Joliet.

This weekend, I'm the weekend editor for two newspapers, which is just as well since ideas are scant for Henry's chapter three. So I'm giving my muse a planned vacation.

In the meantime, check out the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Three of them can be found at the link below. Gotta Do It, runs each Sunday and often stays on the home page through 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.

And if you do peek at these stories, to quote our editor Kate Schott, "Thank you for reading The Herald-News." :)

And now...

Frankfort man formed nonprofit in hopes of building indoor baseball stadium (VIDEO EXTRA)

It's a local "Field of Dreams." If he builds it, will they come? First, David Wooten needs more people investing in that dream. And he's already looking at potential sites in Will and Grundy Counties.

An Extraordinary Life: Cardiomyopathy didn't stop New Lenox man from having a good heart.

I had written two previous stories about Robert Strilko and his goal of a heart transplant, which he wanted less for himself and more to keep living for his wife and two young daughters. Links to the previous stories are included in this last one. Strilko lost the fight in January. He was forty-two.

Mokena fitness center's unique workout expanding to other locations
By Jeanne Millsap

Cardio, strenth-training Yep! And the combo is catching on.

Lockport man trusting in God as he seeks a live kidney donor

Another local family man pours out his hopes and anxieties as his kidney function decreases and dialysis looms.

Philanthropic quilteres group to host show in Crest Hill (VIDEO EXTRA)

The collection will include over 350 quilts. And if you think they're busy among themselves, you should see what these 155 members do for others.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: We Have a Tagline!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

We Have a Tagline!!!

It's just that I can't share it yet. I can, however, tell you how we created it.

At Bryony's first "Meet and Greet" last month, my publicist, Dulcinea Hawksworth, passed around a list of twelve possibilities she had written. One of them generated the most interest; a second one had modest support.

Through much debate and a insights from a small, focus group, we tweaked the language until it concisely represented the overall plot of the entire series. Then we sent the tagline to our graphic designer, CAL Graphics Inc (, who is creating our logo. Once the Bryony team approves the final design, I'll share the results.

In the meantime, we'll keep posting the "rejected" taglines on Bryony's Facebook page.

Some of them are really awful, too, but that's the fun of brainstorming. Happy groaning!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

BTB Henry's Story: Bad Case of Writer's Block

This is what chapter three looks like. I think my mind needs a rest. This morning, I have some work to do, so I'm letting the fiction slide. For the rest of the week, I'll probably troll around the internet reading and looking at elements I want in that chapter and see if I can spark ye olde muse.