Friday, April 29, 2016

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, April 24 through April 29

It's been a good productive, well-rested week.

I had a quiet on-call weekend, which I used by getting Tuesday's Health pages done early (just in case) and editing about 75 briefs and pushing about half of them to web...and still not done!

I'm coming into Friday better prepared than I had the last several weeks, so I'm content. Novel-wise, I worked out a couple stubborn scenes in Before the Blood. 

Now the roundup.

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.

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

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

American Red Cross to honor Plainfield teen with rare disorder for outreach efforts

In the last three years, Caley Trepac, who has a neurological disorder of the brain and spine called Chiari malformation, has donated thousands of stuffed animals to hospitals through collection drives.

Outgoing Plainfield woman went skydiving at age 77

“We took her to the athletic store to get the right outfit and she had her hair done because she knew it was going to be videoed,” said Bobby Bostanche, of Plainfield. “I said, ‘Mom, as soon you jump out of the plane, it’s not going to matter,’ but she said, ‘I have to look good for it.’ ”

Joliet woman to speak at Holocaust event at Joliet Jewish Congregation (VIDEO EXTRA)

Michelle Rubovits has flashbacks of German soldiers in their big black boots asking her, “Where is your father?”

“If I would have said, ‘Oh, he’s in the barn milking the cows,’ that would have been the end of us,” Rubovits said. “But I said, “I don’t have a father.’ ”

Lewis University student showing photos of Joliet prison in Lockport
By Jeanne Millsap

“What you see is the architectural detail,” said Pam Owens, executive director of the Gaylord Building in Lockport. “She took such beautiful artistic photos of such a high resolution.”

Joliet Elks Lodge #296 auctioning Fletcher Ransom painting for capital improvements

The current bid is $40,000. Overseeing the auction is Robert Edward Auctions in New Jersey, whom the Elks contacted in late 2015, said Brian Dwyer, president of the auction facilitator. Dwyer said the painting is significant for several reasons.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

No Throwback Today, Just a Quick Thought

Finally have the virus everyone else around has already had (yay!), so I'm moving a little slower, and my thinking is a little duller.

That means I didn't get everything done last night I wanted to get done. Didn't even figure out until bedtime last night I was actually under the weather.


I was tempted this morning to pass on my thirty minutes of quiet fiction time in favor or gettting some more work done. And then I stopped to think if that's the advice I'd give someone else.

The answer is, of course, "No."

The world, it seems, gets busier and busier. The work piles higher, the deadlines press tighter. We can either run the race harder and faster, or we can take a breath and pause.

What needs to get done always, somehow, gets done.

A rejuvenated body and a refreshed mind is more efficient than those that are whipped and beaten down.

Whatever you're doing right now, stop.

Close your eyes.

Take a moment.

Have a great day, vampire fans! :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Picky Things

Want to sound like an amatuer writer?

Do the following:

1) Use any dialogue tag except "said." An occasional "asked," "screamed," etc. is fine when its doubles as a verb. And please know where to place that tag (at the end of the sentence).

2) Overuse of "said." Try beats. And dialogue that's "so" your character, the reader doesn't need prompts to remind him who's speaking.

3) Use cliches and over-wrought phrases. Again occasionally, you can get away with it in dialogue, if it fits the person speaking. It's the "occasionally" that's key. And never, if you can manage it.

4) Dialogue that is not age or gender (don't start; you know what I mean) appropriate for your character.

5) Head-hopping. If you head-hop, you'd better have a darn good reason for it. Can't think of any.

6) Info dumping. And that includes a glut of back story.

7) Trying to sneak information into dialogue. "As you know, Bob..." Bob knows. Get on with it.

8) Passive verbs.

9) Inconsistences in facts, characters, etc.

10) A glaring amount of typos.

Of course, this checklist applies to me, too. Definitely scanning for these pesky weeds during self-editing and ripping them out when I find them.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Of Garbage Blown

I spent a good portion of Saturday and half of Sunday in the office.

Halfway through the day on Saturday, I left - on foot - for an appointment. I took two press releases with me to call on the way. One was in an envelope. Nearly home to catch my ride, I realized the envelope was gone.


The day was sunny and warm with no breeze. A cinch, I thought. So I walked back, looking here and there. No envelope.

I walked all the way back to The Herald-News. No envelope.

Maybe it did blow away. I checked out every white scrap I passed.

But along the way, I encountered trash of all kind that I didn't notice on the way up  simply because I wasn't looking for it.

Crumpled paper not blowing.

Smashed fast food cups not blowing.

Tissue wads (a LOT of tissue wads) not blowing.

It was frustrating, and I never did find the envelope. I did find the information online, so no worries there.

But I'd like to know how where that envelope landed when lighter garbage than it stayed put on the grass, sidewalk, parking lots, etc.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Introduction to Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from “Bryony.”

Why a cookbook?

Well, why NOT a cookbook?

Even before I began submitting Bryony to agents and small presses, my kids and I talked about all the fun, additional products the novel might inspire.

Although I’ll probably never see bendable dolls with their own line of clothing (too bad, since we could make a fortune on all those lost, little shoes) or a Simons Mansion dollhouse (I REALLY want one), the cookbook idea flourished inside me, especially after I wrote a story on what Kathy Carey did for March of Dimes..

For two decades, this remarkable woman participated in Grundy County's March of Dimes walk. In 2000, after a friend gave birth to a premature baby, Carey increased her efforts. She assisted the district coordinator. She contacted companies for donations and sponsorships. She re-routed the local walk to increase its visibility.

Three years ago, Carey read an advertisement for fundraising cookbooks. Although she owned no computer and had no previous cookbook experience, Carey sent for the information. She studied it closely and decided she could do it. She set a fundraising goal of $7,000 and calculated that she needed to sell 1,000 cookbooks to reach it. Carey peddled the books at local stores, craft shows and festivals until she sold them all.

Inspired by Carey's story, I decided to create a Bryony themed cookbook and donate any profits it might make. Its recipient is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties. In its 40-year history, the organization has matched over 15,000 at risk children from single-parent homes.

Because Bryony's main character, Melissa Marchellis, spends part of her childhood in a single parent home, the group was a good match for the cookbook. I am humbled that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties agreed.

So, I scrolled through the manuscript, jotted all the food references, and began collecting recipes. I modified many of the Victorian dishes to ease preparation, but kept the original language intact. Some, such as boiled calves head, are included so readers can learn about the culinary delights of days long past.

But enough talking. As Melissa’s younger brother Brian said during a holiday dinner, “We made all this food to eat, right?”

Right, Brian. Happy reading and bon appétit!

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

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, April 17 through April 22

Good week: no insomnia (although a short night last night), met all deadlines and items on my checklist, and made decent progress on Before the Blood. Even with my role as working editor this weekend, I should still finish Henry's third chapter (It's almost done), and then (hopefully) get some work done on chapter four, or I'llbe at odds during fiction time this coming week.

Today promises to be busy, but not obnoxiously so, just steady. But, hey, it's early, right?

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.

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

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

Plainfield teen teaches American Sign Language to seniors at Joliet nursing home

The benefits of using American Sign Language are not limited to partially deaf residents. Seniors with speaking difficulties because of stroke also find signing useful, Madison Curran said. Signing is also good hand exercise for seniors with arthritis, she added.

An Extraordinary Life: Plainfield man was prolific composer of sacred and secular music

 On April 26, the Lewis University Choir will present Stephen Platko's cantata “Lazarus of the Four Days” at the university’s St. Charles Borromeo Convocation Hall in Romeoville.

After surgical repair of ankle injury, Homer Glen resident to play university baseball on scholarship
By Jeanne Millsap

A messy bone break, combined with ligament damage, was so bad Tony Gleaves was told to say goodbye to a pro sports career.

“They said it would be a surprise if I ever played sports again,” Gleaves said.

Second Baptist Church in Joliet is 136 years young with many active ministries
By Jeanne Millsap

“We’re pretty busy every day of the week,” said Rev. Larry V. Tyler, pastor. “We try to put legs on our faith and be open and real to the residents who need a helping hand.”

Joliet American Legion Band to perform indoor classical concert on April 30

Band Director Tom Drake said the concert is intended for all ages, despite its sophisticated selections.

“I think the kids will appreciate it,” Drake said. “One of the things that creates excitement in music is dynamic volume and Wagner’s music is very dynamically strong. It tends to excite the listener.”

"Saturday Night Fever" staying alive at Joliet's Rialto Square Theatre

Fun facts about the actor playing Tony Manero: He's British, was granted the role on his birthday, and met his wife the first time he did the musical.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: How to be Funny in Three Hundred Words

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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Writing My Own Penny Dreadfuls

Snippets, more like.

A character in my current work-in-progress section of Before the Blood likes to compose sensational serials. This means, I've had to compose them. Sigh.

Here's a few of those excerpts from serials with such provocative titles as The Beggar's Lair and The Doctor and Lady Elise.

The moon rose high in the sky. A wolf howled in the distance. His time had come.
            The guards pushed his head through the noose. He couldn't wait for the crush of his windpipe, the snap in his neck.
            Do it, he thought to himself, do it. 

"Elise, put down that dagger!"
"You'll never beat me again, Bruce! Or our children! Do you hear me, Bruce? Do you hear me? You'll never hurt anyone again!"
            "Elise, no one's hurting you. You're mad, I tell you! Mad! Just like your Aunt Olivia."
            "Mad, am I!"
            She plunged the knife deep within his heart. He didn't drop. He didn't bleed.
            Mad? Oh how Elise wished she was mad!

"Reeves, confess your crimes before God and repent for judgment day is upon you!"
            "Ha, ha! Do you take me for a fool, why...why..."
            Reeves clutches his throat, collapses, and gasps, "Elliot, what have you done?"
            "Poison, dear brother. I told you judgment day was upon you."

Monday, April 18, 2016

This and That

Weekend summary:

Friday night: worked late and vaguely recall watching an episode of "Smallville" with Daniel before passing out (from fatigue, not alcohol).

Saturday: Slept in until 7 a.m. (don't laugh), went for coffee with Rebekah (Pepsi for her), and walked the track. Worked on the novel ("Before the Blood"). Went for more coffee and took a brief walk with Timothy. Went to bed late after reluctantly closing out of said novel..

Sunday: Repeated coffee and track bit. Checked out a new Eastern Orthodox chapel in a former Methodist church building that my father once owned after it had been de-churched. Confusing? All shall be explained in a future post. Worked on Tuesday's Health calendar. Did yoga while watching Bob's Burgers with Daniel and Rebekah. Walked the track. "Smallville" and bed.

Boring to some. Restful, relaxing, refreshing for me. Totally needed it. This weekend is a working weekend.

Happy Monday, vampire fans! :)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Memories in the Kitchen: Ham Surprises

Ham Surprises
By James R. Onohan

3-4 tablespoons dehydrated onion
1 stick margarine, softened
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
½ tablespoon poppy seed
12 Aunt Millie’s Kaiser buns
12 slices good Polish ham
12 slices American cheese

Combine first 4 ingredients, and mix. Spread a thin layer on one side of bun. Add 1 slice ham and 1 slice cheese. Repeat 11 times. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Yield: 12 sandwiches.

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

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

Friday, April 15, 2016

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, April 10 through April 15

Not one bout of insomnia all week and so very thankful. Deadlines amd curve balls on the story field are far easier to meet when one is rested.

This weekend: A few errands tomorrow morning, checking out a new mission Eastern Orthodox Church on Sunday, but the rest of time...Before the Blood, of course.

But first - I must get past an extremely busy Friday (I say that a lot, don't I).

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.

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

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

 Joliet woman writes novel based on her childhood at mountain village in Italy

Irma Kump recalled a boy who ran away from school when the authorities were summoned to punish him, all because he hadn’t worn one of Mussolini’s black shirts that day.

“He hid in the cold river, breathing through a reed while he was hunted down like an animal,” Kump said.

An Extraordinary Life: Minooka man explores his father's inner self in new book

One night, according to Larry Simotes' book, instead of paying the 85-cent fare, a customer shot Nicholas Simotes twice in the head and stole the $13.85 in the money box. A fighter refusing to die, Nicholas drove himself to Silver Cross Hospital. He had a wife and five children to support.

Joliet Area Community Hospice volunteers make memorial care bears
By Jeanne Millsap

At the request of grieving family members, a team of 20 hospice volunteers will use their cutting, sewing and design skills to make soft, huggable teddy bears out of material from items of clothing worn by the deceased.

Worship ministry band to perform at Plainfield church

Katie Henry looked at her phone. The text read, “Will you come play music for prostitutes with me?”

And Henry said she texted back, “Yes.”

Lockport gallery to exhibit nature artwork of Homer Glen pastel artist

Donna J. O’Donnell said people comment on how “touchable” the fur on her animal portraits appear. She credits the soft texture to her use of velour paper, sanded paper and suede board.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Turtle Burgers

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Turtle Burgers

Over the weekend, my two daughters posted pictures on Facebook of the turtle burgers they had prepared, and it got me thinking.

My youngest daughter, Rebekah Baran, Bryony's online assistant, is spending a few weeks with her older sister, Sarah Stegall, Bryony's online administrator, who is a a highly adventurous cook and eater (Rebekah is not).

So when I saw "turtle burgers," I naturally thought they had cooked burgers made from turtle meat, and I could just imagine Rebekah's reaction. When I saw from the photos how tasty they looked, I became obsessed with having turtle burgers for dinner.

Last night, my two youngest sons, chef-in-training Timothy Baran and Daniel Baran, prepared a large batch. Warning: these are large, so it's genereally impossible to eat an entire one (Timothy and I split a burger). My oldest son, Christopher Baran of Channahon Computer Repair (, however, at two.

The recipe is below. Pictures following later (if I can get one of the girls to post them).

Turtle Burgers:

5 lbs of 75/25 hamburger
Bread crumbs (optional) for binding
2 pounds hot dogs
1 pound Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1 pound bacon

Mix optional bread crumbs into meat and form hamburger into oval shapes. Top half of the ovals with cheese slices and cap with another oval; pinch to close. Make 4 holes in the corners for legs and 1 on each end for the head and tail. Slice hot dogs in half and the cut the tips to simulate toes; insert into corner holes. Slide hot dog slices into end holes for head and tail. Crisscross bacon strips on top of the hamburgers to resemble a turtle shell. Heat oven to 400 degrees and cook until meat thermometer reads 165.
Bon appetit!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


With the demise of the current writer's block, I spent a blissful Saturday crafting scenes in Henry's third chapter of Before the Blood.

Then I spent a couple hours Sunday evening, reworking those scenes, adding layers and details, rewriting prose, etc. and etc. At the end of it, while creating a homework list for it, I realized I still wasn't happy with it.

I didn't know what to do.

The elements I wanted were there.

The characters were well-drawn.

The scenes moved the plot forward.

There was tension, mystery, a good mix of show/tell.

Then it hit me. The "voice" in the chapter was a nondescript, anonymous narrator, not Henry. This is the challenge, I think, of writing in third person perfect. The story persepctive is a global third person, but the voice relating it is the protagonist.

So why am I having such trouble? When I wrote Bryony, Henry was the easiest character to write! (He even threatened to take over the story and had to be put firmly back into place). 

I think, maybe, it's because I've distanced myself from this character when writing the other novels. Well, it's time to fix that.

I stopped making a homework list for the week. I knew what I had to do: read over every line and rewrite each one in Henry's voice.

And that's what I've been doing, starting yesterday and continuing now.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Weekend That (Finally) Felt Like a Weekend

It was restful (lots of sleep), productive (errands run, positive family pow-wow, health pages began, work email caught up), spiritually enriching (church, fellowship), fun (rewatched "Man of Steel" with Daniel and one episode of "Smallville," two coffee walks with Rebekah), and creative (plenty of progress ofn "Before the Blood").

It's Monday, and I'm smiling. :)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

John's Coffee

Anyone that knows me klnow I likle a nice dark roasted coffee to start the day (and make it better halfway, too). 

But the notion of clarifying with fish skin (ew) or egg (ew again) makes me glad for the 21st century.

John’s Coffee

Adapted from Miss Beecher’s domestic receiptbook: designed as a supplement to her Treatise on domestic economy.

Dry coffee beans a long time before roasting. Roast it quickly, stirring constantly, or it will taste bitter. Add a chestnut-sized piece of butter and close tightly. Grind beans only when ready to use.

2 great spoonfuls coffee
1 pint hot water
1 egg OR 1 square fish skin (see below), to clarify coffee
½ teacup cold water

Mix coffee with the egg, pour on water, and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour on cold water. Let sit for 5 minutes, then strain through cheesecloth and serve.

Fish Skin to Clarify Coffee

1 mild codfish, unsoaked

Remove skin and dry it in a warm oven, after bread is baked. Cut into squares. One square serves for 2 quarts of coffee and is put in at the beginning of its preparation. 

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

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

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Found One of My Old Blog Posts on Goodreads

I forgot Sarah set the account to automatically push to Goodreads. While on the site for something else, I stumbled upon this:

Dear MOMI:

When the next book comes out, I'll load a cooler with ice cream, disposable bowls, and plastic spoons. We'll serve the free ice cream right where we're signing. I'll spring the cost of the ice cream.
Ruthlessly yours,

Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara

O Steward:

Third book won't come out until late November. Sure you don't want to do it this summer?


Dear MOMI:

Do you think we can still sell the first two books at the DC? (Note: this is vampire code for "distribution center.") Is anyone there that reads still without a copy? I agree that summer would be better for ice cream. BTW, could you send me the Byrony links? I'm on a new computer.

Ruthlessly yours,

Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara

O Steward:
Not sure who still wants any books, but an ice cream social is still a good promotion for Staked! which is coming out at the end of the year. That book has your biggest role. Besides, there's new people coming in the DC all the time.

Also, the official Visage, with the "official" art should be out in a couple of weeks. You'll receive a complimentary copy. FYI, Saturdays has the lowest carrier turnout. Any possible way you could get a sub and do a Sunday?



Dear MOMI:

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are the only days I can't do it.
As far as getting a sub...if you mean submarine, that would be easier then finding someone to do my route. If you mean "submissive," you've read 50 Shades, and believe me, to all of them, doing a route is a "hard limit." If you mean submarine sandwich, I could, but it wouldn't help me take off a on Sunday.

Ice cream might draw a few carriers in early though if the word went out. In my own DC, which is not as personable as Joliet, it took two years to go from not finishing one bucket to finishing three (every one speaking only Spanish or Arabic assumed I was selling it).

Ruthlessly yours, 

Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara

O Steward:

Okay, then, pick a Saturday, and let's do it!



Dear MOMI: 

Now wait a second. This might be a chance for you to flex your newly found fame as an acclaimed novelist. Perhaps you can market the John-John Peter experience. One of the most touching parts of Visage is the connection of father and son on the "damn route." Maybe we can market this. Bring your toddler and go out on a REAL Ed Calkins route! (Make sure that toddler is barefoot).

BTW I laughed much longer then my wife at the throwing of the shoe because I had a better picture. Did that every happen to you with one of your little angels? Let's do the ice cream social on the Saturday near the 4th of July. Also, can you give me Edgar or Frank's phone so I can ask permission? My new phone never got my Joliet connections on speed dial.

Ruthlessly yours, 

Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara

Editor's note: I sent the steward the two agents' telephone numbers, but I have received no further correspondence from the steward. I'm assuming he's very busy conducting ruthless business. Further details on the ice cream social--and if you've read Visage, you know how appropriate that social is. If you haven't, come to the social, buy a copy personally autographed by Ed Calkins, and find out--when and if they emerge.
Published on June 08, 2013 21:54 

Friday, April 8, 2016

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

Challenging week, but edging toward a feeling of triumph. I am very happy the weekend approacheth on so many levels.

One level, of course, if sinking my writerly fangs for a prolonged time into Before the Blood. There's just something about writing fiction that relaxes one part of my brain and stimulates another that is needed and necessary for me.

But first - I must get past an extremely busy Friday. I wrote these same words last week, and I don't even recalll why This Friday has stepped up the game, but I'm taking heart. Next week, I probably won't remember why either.

Okay, here we go.

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." :)

Plainfield Police K-9 Memorial to be created on site of former agility training field

Bobby Bostanche of Plainfield, a former police officer and handler for two two police dogs, recalled how valuable those dogs are to the force.

“I think we captured 15 burglars – actually captured – and 15 rapists,” Bostanche said. “And we handled hundreds of misdemeanor and felony calls. I did a lot of building searches and a couple of riots – not in Plainfield. … You go out risking everything and these dogs protect us.”

An Extraordinary Life: Plainfield woman fought aggressive leukemia for the sake of her four children

On Dec. 5, 2014, Natalie lost her husband, Gary, 52, to melanoma. Natalie and the couple’s four children – Eileen, 18, Teddy, 13, William, 10, and Charlie, 9 – were still grieving Gary’s death. April 4, 2015, Natalie was diagnosed with an aggressive leukemia.

“She kept saying, ‘I have to fight. I’m the last parent. I have to be there,’ ”said Kathleen Maugeri of Crest Hill, Natalie's sister.

Joliet senior in 'phenomenal shape' espouses healthy lifestyle (VIDEO EXTRA)

Glenn Moore works out more than two hours a day and earned a T-shirt for climbing a machine at Presence Inwood Athletic Club in Joliet that equals the steps needed to scale the real Mount Everest – 29,000 feet, said Mary Magee-Huth, fitness coordinator.

Village of Plainfield, 4 churches to host 3rd annual The Big Serve event

Rev. Sherry Scates, deacon at Plainfield United Methodist Church, said service is part of the church’s DNA.

“Although at times people seem divided by the particulars of their denomination and beliefs, we ultimately all believe that we can be part of making this world a better place,” Scates said.

Polka band with Joliet presence features former health care administrator on drums (VIDEO EXTRA)

Until Michalene Korosa retired three years ago from her job as president and CEO for Via Christi Hospitals and Outpatient Centers in Kansas, she and her polka musician  husband Eddie Korosa maintained a long-distance relationship. When she could, Michalene attended playing events on the dance floor, not behind the drum.

That changed in October 2014, when Eddie needed someone to fill in.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Cost of Living in 1975 and Other Fun Facts

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cost of Living in 1975 and Other Fun Facts

Was the cost of living ever really that much simpler and cheaper for Melissa Marchellis' family than it is for us today? Check out these figures and then decide:

Average Cost of new house : $39,300.00 
Average Income per year: $14,100.00 
Average Monthly Rent:   $200.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas:   44 cents 
Average cost new car: $4,250.00
Foster Grant Sun Glasses:   $5.00


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Adding Flesh to the Bones

Saturday: Two scenes in Henry's third chapter.

Monday and Tuesday: added details and depth to the scenes, those bits and pieces of motion and beats that take the reader off the words and into the imaginary world.

Wednesday: more of the same (have those parts in bold).

Thursday and Friday: not sure yet.

Ready to add more scenes on Saturday!

Farewell, of ye writer's block. Unfortunately, I'm sure we shall meet again...but not for a long while...I hope...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Writer's Block Unblocked: It Was a Productive Saturday

Yes, vampire fans, it was indeed a productive Saturday, and far too short for the ideas spilling out of my head. I feel like weekends are too short anway, and that I could use one more day for writing.

Sundays are spent at a church forty miles away, so by the time we get there and back, and I take one ninety minute power walk and get yoga done, it's time to do the health pages, and voila! Sunday is gone. (It's a very nice Sunday; just would like one more full day for fiction).

For me, the character questionnaires were the trick to unblocking the block, although I didn't realize when I began them for this chapter just how well they actually would work. As I answered random questions for each character, and the characters took on dimension, vague ideas for scenes swirled in my head.

But then, as I moved deeper into each character, I found my responses sounded like the character. By the time I neared the end, I had actual dialogue I could use, and the murky scenes  grew crisp and clear.

So on Saturday, after social media, coffee and a stroll with Rebekah, and some dawdling time listening to random music, I was ready.

Because several weeks had passed since I'd written any drafts for Before the Blood, I felt a little rusty at the keyboard, so I rolled with the slow warmup. But as I got writing, the words tumbled out, and the chapter took shape. It's several weeks from being done, but it's a great beginning.

I ran out of time to reread anything I'd written (if I wanted to get any decent sleep, that is), so this morning will be the first opportunity. Honestly, I had a hard time cutting off the time on Saturday, so frustrating, as I won't have a block of many hours again until next Saturday.

Yes, I still take a little time to work on the novel each day. The hour I planned to commit to fiction each day is only half an hour. But it's a dedicated thirty minutes at least four work mornings a week, and it's now a habit of many months. The goal, of course, is to stretch it.

In the meantime, I'm thrilled with the progress on Henry's chapter. Going to take a peek at it now...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Looking Back to 2011: VampFest Revisted

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

VampFest Revisted

Today, my son Christopher and I presented the proceeds of VampFest to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties. I haven't yet received VampFest photos from Stephen Tuplin, director of Bryony media, as he left town soon after the event to tour with a local Christian music group, but he promised he would edit the video and send photos soon.

Highlights of the evening included the serving up of "bites and nibbles" from the upcoming Bryony cookbook:

   ·         Fried “O’Brien-style” potatoes

·         Mini corn dogs

·         Black Avocado Dip with Homemade Tortilla Chips

·         Corn Dip With Homemade Tortilla Chips

·         Cucumber and Tomato Salad

·         Marinated Onions, Mushrooms, and Peppers

·         Chicken Salad

·         Shepherd’s Pie

·         Stuffed Mini Peppers

·         Pork Tenderloins with Cabbage and Kraut

·         Vegetarian Chili

·         Pear Mascarpone French Toast

·         Toffee-Apple French Toast

·         Sweet Potato Pudding

Many characters from the book--in period dress--served and interacted with the guests.

Teen classic rock band, Street Worthy, represented the 1970s.

Romantic pianist/composer James Onohan symbolized the Victorian era by playing, for the first time, original songs from the brand-new Bryony CD, The Best-Loved Compositions of John Simons.

Alas, red tape meant we had no books to sell, but we raffled off one of two proof copies we received for $100, which we also donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties. We hope to have copies of both the novel and the cookbook available SOON!

For those who missed the festivities (or are loath to see them end), Bryony will be at the HS Healing and Wellness Center's first Pumpkin Fest from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 22. The day features tarot readings, face painting, live music by James Onohan, pumpkin decorating, and storytelling. The center is located at 3117 W. Jefferson Street in Joliet. For more information call 815-741-4386.

The following week, I will be at the same Healing and Wellness Center from 4 to 5 p.m. reading Halloween stories. 

Mostly, I'd like to thank everyone who contributed into the success of VampFest:

The Bryony Team: Dulcinea Hawksworth, director of marketing and event host/ coordinator; Tommy Connolly, media researcher and developer and emcee; Sarah Stegall, web administrator and silent auction co-coordinator; James Onohan, Bryony's pianist and composer; Virginia Schonbachler, silent auction and raffle co-coordinator; Stephen James Tuplin of Echo White Fox and Josh Siegers of JKS Productions for photography and videography; Heather Frelichowski of Crafty Moms Inc for costume design, Harwood Post and especially Mary Hischier, for supplying food, venue, and general guidance.

Vendors: Matt Coundiff of A Thin Line Tattoo, Vanna Fleetwood of Dimensions Barber and Salon, Sandy Costa of Foo Tribe Jewelry,  HS Healing and Wellness CenterBryonycookbook contest winner  Kathryn Russ Dunlap and Rufio products, Andrea Rodriguez of Sugar Mama, Inc., and Valerie’s Heavenly Scents.

Volunteers: Christopher Baran, Daniel Baran, Rebekah Baran, Timothy Baran, Karen Bonarek, Rachel Bonarek, Rose Bonerk, Amber Cable,, Becky Colwell, Noah Curl, Donna Krofta, Justin Ongenae, Carolyn Sallade, Bryony cookbook contest winner Nola Sawyer, Rachel Schall

An especial thank you to Ed Calkins, Cal Graphics, Inc., Dawn Aulet, Fast Printing of Joliet, J and M Printing, John Heinz, and Street Worthy; the members of the Heavenly Sinners Writer’s Guild for their enthusiastic support and to Tommy Connolly and Virginia Schonbachler for supplying, out of pocket, all the last minute and much needed items; and also to Kosack’s Formalwear, Joliet Junior College theatre department, the P. Seth Magosky Museum of Victorian Life for supplying costumes, all of our silent auction donors, and those the generous supporters of the event.

If you'd like to be added to Bryony's virtual mailing list for updates, please contact me

Friday, April 1, 2016

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, March 27 through April 1

The last weekend was a productive working weekend. I did my usual weekend editor duties as well as a bit of catching up (just a bit, but a dent of a bit) with features.

I wrapped up my character questionnaires for Henry's section of Before the Blood and made some notes specifically for chapter three. Looking forward to sinking into the story this weekend.

But first - I must get past an extremely busy Friday.

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." :)

Easter egg hunts still popular in Will County (VIDEO EXTRA)

These included hunts at assisted living facilities, hunts with glowing eggs, and hunts for dogs.

An Extraordinary Life: Morris math teacher mesmerized people of all ages with magic

As “Mistini,” Tom performed at area restaurants and the school’s talent shows.
Although his stage magic was amazing, Tom preferred “up close” magic, such as the magic he performed tableside.

Bolingbrook man with rare melanoma turns to Mexico for treatment

The low number of reported cases translates into no patient treatment trials and an overall lack of strategies for treatment.

Catholic churches in Joliet and Plainfield offer First Saturday devotion services

The First Saturday devotion originates from an apparition that three children from Fatima, Portugal, purportedly saw six times, the first being May 13, 1917.

Former Joliet man lands role in NBC pilot, discusses comedy career

Tim Baltz recently completed an eight-day film shoot for an untitled NBC pilot, which was written by Charlie Grandy and executive produced and directed by Amy Poehler.