Thursday, May 31, 2018

Community News: May 31, 2018

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

Joliet Catholic Academy announces senior awards at annual baccalaureate liturgy

Joliet students do well in essay contest 

News from St. Mary Immaculate Parish in Plainfield 

2 resources to grow your faith

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

Illustration by Christopher Gleason for "Staked!"

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Bella's Lullaby by James Onohan

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Community News: May 30, 2018

Tonight's posting is lean and simple.

A listing of food pantries and other ways to help the hungry.

And a variety of recipes for you to try on today's food section of The Herald-News

Roundup of food pantries in Will and Grundy Counties


And don't forget this one:

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

Open Mic Night 2018: Todd Hogan

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Community News: May 29, 2018

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

Gotta Do It: May 27 through June 3

Local health events: May 29 through June 5 

Morris Hospital cardiologist appointed as lecturer at Rush University

Dr. Mary Gordon joins Morris Hospital 

Morris Hospital honors local nurse Julie Weimer 

Morris Hospital honors administrative assistant Lizzy Schneider 

Trinity Triumph 5K encourages runners, walkers to embrace the pace of their own journey

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage." Follow him at or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.

"BryonySeries for Families" Tour Host: Allie Rios

Our very last stop on our very first BryonySeries blog tour brings my intention for the series full circle.

According to her Amazon author page, Allison Rios was born and raised in Joliet, Illinois. Writing has been her relaxation and hobby since childhood, when she began taking notes on neighborhood happenings (the big stuff, like someone mowing a lawn or washing a car) and putting together hand-written newspapers. 

She grew into a career in public relations, marketing and web but never lost the love for writing fiction. In between a full-time job, chauffeuring kids and shopping for high heels, she spends her free time typing out daydreams and creating new worlds with her imagination – a hobby she likes to share with her children. 

Allison has written and self-published a fictional series about a healer who can cure any illness with a single touch and a book of first person non-fictional accounts from her and other contributors about loved ones' brain tumor experiences. Proceeds from the book were donated to the American Brain Association.

She will soon release two novels: "Fifteen Years" and "Too Much Love." 

Now back to BryonySeries...

I wrote the initial book for teen girls, but the series has morphed into one entire families can enjoy together.

Allie Rios, whose blog "I'm More Than Just a Mom," sent me ten questions that explores this aspect of the BryonySeries. Allie is a beautiful, sincere, giving woman, as well as an author in her own right, and I'm honored and humbled to be her guest.

You can read the post at the link below:

The entire tour will be archived on the BryonySeries website within a week or so. The TurnAbout Tour begins next Monday.

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 28, 2018

"Heroism in the Workplace" Tour Host: Topher Gleason

I scheduled this particular blog stop for today because I feel its topic is appropriate for Memorial Day, a day to commemorate heroism.

While heroism in the workplace (or the home or anywhere else) is not the same as losing one's life on the battlefield for freedom, standing up for one's beliefs or for the sake of another is never easy.

I find such actions inspiring as does Topher Gleason, Customer Experience Manager at Digital Dealership System, who hosted me on his LinkedIn page today.

On his LinkedIn page, Topher describes himself in the following way: "I strive to ensure excellent service for clients with no objection to traveling a majority of the time. Seventeen years sales experience, eight years sales training experience and seven years management experiences, makes me a very well rounded game changer.

"I am an excellent communicator with the ability to do both online and in-person demonstrations to one or five hundred plus.

"I have a fruitful sales track record with ability to bond effectively in all mediums."

Topher not only tries to model heroism, he believes in mentoring (He is a former Big Brother) and inspiring others in word and deed. I tried to write a post that reflected those characteristics.

You may read it here:

Sue's Diner: Victorian Vanilla Ice Cream

On Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day), I'm writing this post while eating ice cream made from an 1850 recipe, one that predates even the Civil War.

It's a rich ice cream, but it does have ice crystals and is melting really fast. But it was THE favorite dessert of John Simons, and Simons Mansion always had a supply of it ready to eat.

You can try the recipe HERE.

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

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

Order the cookbook at

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Unfrozen Ice Cream and Community News: May 26, 2018

Today Rebekah made a Victorian vanilla ice cream recipe from the BryonySeries cookbook, Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from Bryony.

I was going to post the results on Sue's Diner so others could try it, too.

But she started it later in the day than she anticipated, and it isn't completely frozen yet. One more day...

Quick reminder: the last two stops of the first BryonySeries blog tour are tomorrow and Tuesday. Thank you for taking this virtual trip with me.

In the meantime, check out the following local feature briefs. And stay cool!

Shorewood Lions Club announces Troy April Students of the Month

Forest Preserve’s 35th “Island Rendezvous” set for June 9 in Romeoville

Air Pollution Action Day Alert for Will and Grundy counties

Plainfield Fire Protection District discusses barbecue and fire pit safety

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage." Follow him at or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Ed Calkins: The Beat Goes On

Dear MOMI,

What have I done!

I've started a story that will take four thousand years to complete and has to be told in limerick form.

More then that, the characters keep stealing my pen.

Who'd have thought Glorna would be such a punk, Ed Calkins so twisted, and a vegan gator such a bully.

None of this was my idea, but here is the third in my nameless epic limerick.


By now It was now clear as clear can be
That both Glorna and Ed were in two thousand BC
And their gator companion made three
Now, I must be out of my tree
For thinking this telling would easy be


While the brave captain was in O’s dwelling
The three carried to the ship that was smelling
Wood removed for the dead tree
To be carved for the sailors to see
The wives that the threesome were selling

And since none of the three could carve wood
The silly steward asked if the crew would
Carve the women he described
By the stories he prescribed
And the figures’ figures that would have to be good.


“First a queen with a fetish for being rolled into rugs
Cleopatra of the future Egyptian thugs
And if you meet her it would please her,
If you call yourself Julia Caesar.
Then she just might give you a few hugs.”

“Then the mystical goddess, Aphrodite
Should be married to one high and mighty
But for a limited time, what the heck
her for a place on your deck.
Just image how she looks in a nighty.”

Then there’s this Boudica the Celtic queen
With a reputation of being quite mean
But if you watch right the omens
She doesn’t like the Greeks or the Romans
But for young sailors she makes quite a scene

“Maybe horses and nude women is your guilty pleasure.
Might I suggest that Lady Godiva is your treasure
The long-haired mystique that attracts is
Her method of protesting taxes.
By riding naked through Coventry for good measure”

“There’s another that I think you should know
The whole world will call her Marilyn Monroe
She will famously flirt
Wind will hike up her shirt
This blond bombshell will make your heart go."

“Dolly Parton known for her voice and platinum blond hair
And chest you’d wish you could bare
And her homey southern charm,
Why she’d be worth the whole farm
But for passage to Ireland is quite overly fair”


As Ed pitched, the figures carved by the crew
Made each statuette looking life like and true
Down to the smallest detail
You’d have thought any male
Would be a knickknack collector of new


Said the first mate, “Look here is the deal
We’d consider you offer a steal
And take only one wife not six
If you offer us this in the mix
Make only one of the statuettes real


Now Ed replied to the men of the sea,
“If your wives were your own cup of tea,
You’d sailed were they are
Instead of from them so far
You’re just haggling for a larger fee.”

Replied the first mate. “This is way out of hand
It’s my own wedding that chase me from land
You’d leave too if you met her
But if you can do no better
Well then you can just stay here on the sand.”

“Want a wife that make you immortal as I?
Greatness and novels are an over told lie
Well you can’t have Denise
But I throw in her adopted Irish niece
Gees you’re making this bid over high”

It was then that the second mate spoke
Sounding as if he was making a joke
“It’s starvation not tall tales we’re cursed
 And of wives that won’t be, we had worse
But we have room for a gator, wood sprite and bloke.


The first mate’s rage made his face turn quite blue
Shouting, ‘men you just don’t have a clue
With too few wives, I know what would happen
When seven women, eight men and the captain
Fight to the death over who marries who


Said the second, “I’d feel peace inside
He knows of many wives If he hasn’t lied
How about this new deal
A new wife every meal
Means every third day I get a new bride.”


“I well know that prenuptial infatuation
Can cause war against nation to nation
Its this way, I call
Each should marry all
There is privacy in one’s own imagination”

“So what I can’t do,” the steward did say
“Is supply three brand new women each day
So one bride per day it will be
for room and broad for us three
Hell, I can give my whole stock away.”


By the time O’ Winfree came back in to the picture
With his own plan to add to the mixture
Asleep, but with smile his crew wore
Were as impoverished as before
But each counted themselves seven wives richer


Whispered Glorna to Ed, “This is sleazy.
The fear in my stomach make me wheezy.
We gave words not real women
Some kind of web, they’d be spinnin’
They let us aboard way too easy.


Ed says, “Bed you should dread not the deal
Most men only want women who aren’t real
And to combat the confusion
I recommend self-delusion.
Which is no help for the bite of bed bugs you’ll feel."

To be dragged on even further….

Ruthlessly yours,

Ed Calkins

Steward of Tara

Friday, May 25, 2018

Community News: May 25, 2018

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

Lockport student named Buddy Director of the Year

Plainfield journalism students place at conference

Nearly 600 degrees, certificates awarded at JJC commencement

D. 86 superintendent to participate in leadership consortium

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

Illustration by Kathleen Rose Van Pelt for "Bryony."

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

Good bleary Friday morning!

So determined was I to (FINALLY) have a long stretch to work on the fifth and last novel in Before the Blood (and finish editing the first book and maybe the second, too, because I've overly optimistic), I stayed up until this morning working and jumped back on it early (although not at 4 a.m., nope!)

I love coffee, yes, I do.

Heading downstairs to refill my cup. While I'm gone, feel free to check out where you can find me in the online world and see what I wrote this past week (along with this week's Mystery Diner feature, received a lot of comments in The Herald-News' Facebook group Joliet Connect and is still receiving comments).

For those of you following the inaugural BryonySeries blog tour, the last two stops of the tour will be Monday and Tuesday. The Turnabout Tour will be on the Mondays and Tuesdays in June.

If you're late to the tour, no worries! Use this guide HERE to catch-up! And while you're catching-up, PLEASE stick around and browse through the other links on the hosting sites. Everyone kindly opened his/her virtual doors for this party; stay and enjoy the refreshments and chat a bit (in the comments sections of the hosting blogs).

Have a safe and blessed Memorial Weekend!

Non-bylined features:

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

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

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

Social media:

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

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

If you're a writer anywhere in the world, you're welcome to jon WriteOn Joliet's Facebook page at We're based in Joliet, Illinois, but we love to meet and interact with writers outside our area, too.

Books and Such

Information on my books (including where to buy) along with upcoming events is at

Thank you for reading The Herald-News. And for reading this blog. And if you've read (or plan to read) any of my books. And for those who came out to WriteOn Joliet's open mic night last night. Your support is greatly appreciated.

It’s more than a cleaning
St. John’s residents build community while beautifying neighborhood

A group of about 40 volunteers of all ages came together at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties at 10 a.m. to spend two hours raking and picking up litter around the areas near the Cathedral of St. Raymond and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

A go-getter who 'truly cared about children'
Bolingbrook school to host memorial for its LMC head on May 25

“She would get a good idea and I’d think, ‘Oh, yeah? Let me see if I can top that,’ ” HeatherJarmusz of Naperville said about her sister Erin Preder. "And I knew she felt the same way. She pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was one of her biggest fans. She was very inspiring. She did not let anything get in her away. If she had an idea about something, she had the attitude of, ‘I’m going to make this happen.’ ”

Pets of the Week: May 21

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

Finding a cancer cure is not enough
Event lead for Joliet's Relay for Life wants to eliminate cancer

Julie Sterr has had breast cancer twice, anal cancer once and in between bouts lost her mother to breast cancer and her father to bladder cancer. But she's used these challenges to help others.

Crest Hill's Southern Cafe offers a pleasant and reliable experience

Despite its name, Crest Hill’s Southern Cafe, wasn’t the hokey-themed restaurant with lackluster southern knick-nacks that I thought it was.

To the contrary, it offered a modern, clean and pleasant dining experience for a bargain price. The restaurant, which opened in 2008 at 1819 Knapp Road in Crest Hill, describes itself as “a mix of good old home cooking and a dash of culinary genius.”

Artworks: Painting with great purpose
Joliet Central High School alumnus raffing artist proof to establish scholarship in his name

Charles Carman Pierce spent 1,000 hours over two years to create the painting, which will hang at Central, Mark Turk, foundation president said. The proof is signed, dated, matted and ready for framing, Turk said. Turk called the original piece "exquisite" and praised its "great artistry."

Raffling the proof will help establish the annual Mr. and Mrs. Charles Carman Pierce Memorial Art Scholarship for gifted visual arts students at Joliet Township High School, Turk said.

Learn to barbecue from experts at Smokin' Z BBQ in New Lenox will host the next one July 1

Attendees will learn how to select, prepare, smoke and serve a wide variety of meats. This includes pork butts, pork loins, ribs, beef brisket, whole chickens and chicken wings), as well as traditional barbecue sides and desserts: barbecue beans, mac and cheese and smoked apple crisp.

LocalLit author spotlight: Joshua Henderson of Joliet 

Henderson said: I wrote and illustrated stories as a kid, though mostly for arts and crafts. Years later, I read Lois Lowry's "The Giver" and other dystopian novels in eighth grade; all inspired me to pursue writing more seriously than before.

Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage." Follow him at or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Community News: May 24, 2018

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

Local Faith Events: May 24 through May 31

2018 Vacation Bible School and Church Camps 

Joliet Catholic Academy announces April Students of the Month

Looking for recipes?
Check out this link of 6 new recipes:

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

Illustration by Christopher Gleason for "Staked!"

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: My Computer Monitors and Me

Back in 1998, when I started freelancing, my mother bought my first computer, a Gateway, from Circuit City.

Don't laugh.

Because I suck at math, I don't know the size of the monitor screen, but it was definitely way smaller than the salesman recommended for someone that would be spending a large part of her day composing in front of it. For reasons unrelated to this post, the computer was never actually installed until April 1999.

In the spring of 2009, still using the same monitor (Hey, it was a perfectly good monitor), a strange thing happened. It started...blinking. I shrugged it off as, "Well, it's probably starting to go," and suffered through it. Between pay cuts and rising prices, we were starting to feel the money pinch, and I didn't feel a new monitor was worth the money.

I am also the woman that wore Sarah's old snowpants on the route from 1998 until someone stole them out of our church coatroom at least a decade later (I had duct taped the holes), but that's a different story.

So in that summer of 2009, while working on deadline of course, that monitor began flashing colors and then literally started smoking. Because I have no idea what cord connects to what, I did what any reasonable technology stupid person would do: yell for a kid.

Timothy ran in and disconnected it in seconds and reconnected a really ancient monitor someone donated to our youth group. I was back in business.

In a few days, Christopher bought me a new monitor, something called a flat screen. He also bought this amazing pair of speakers (no, I don't kow the brand, only that the sound quality is phenomenal). And when that screen crapped out two years later, he replaced it with his, since he and his family were now living at my house, and his giant screen for the TV was doubling as his monitor.

I ignored the squiggly lines made by my two-year-old grandson who shouldn't have had access to a Sharpie in front of a monitor and forged on.

When that one crapped out, Christopher replaced it with a used one someone had donated to his computer repair business. And no, I don't have any idea what year that was or its size.

This past summer, that monitor and I began a morning battle that would continue for six months. It went like this:

I turn on monitor. Monitor blinks and goes back to sleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat, anywhere from five to fifteen minutes with blearily sipping coffee.

Any thinking person would buy a new monitor. But that's not why I started an emergency fund. That was for EMERGENCIES, not a monitor that played games with me every morning when most people are still sleeping.

And so it continued.

Finally, the monitor was taking so long to turn on, that Rebekah (I don't know how to do such things) adjusted the controls so it never went to sleep. The ensuing light distrubed our sleep, so she covered it with a  pillow case, a bad idea, because monitors emit A LOT of heat. So we scrapped the warm pillow case, and she rested a book binder against it, partially obscuring the light.

At this point, we decided the monitor was a fire hazard. A new onbe seemed like a reasonable thing to consider.

But then we rolled into college finals and holiday deadlines at The Herald-News and Timothy's medical emergency, and there was either no time, no money, or no transportation for a monitor. And we worried that it might not be the monitor, but a problem with the computer itself.

To determine that, Rebekah and Daniel disconnected my monitor and replaced it with an old one of Daniel's. That, too, was a flat screen, but very tiny. Not sure the size, but it was small, as in manybe twelve inches small, according to one of the kids said, so small, that working was darn near impossible.

It continued this way for a couple weeks, with some minor grumbling from me.

On Old Calendar Christmas on Thursday, Timothy announced that he, Rebekah and Daniel had collaborated on a present for me, but it hadn't arrived yet. On Friday when I came home from work, Timothy said the present had arrived and was now on my desk.

Intrigued, I headed for my room and desk. No present.

I moved aside my scattered papers of notes and looked. No present. I returned to Timothy's room with one question, "Where?"

It was truly a face palm moment.

I had totally missed the HUGE monitor and new keyboard and mouse. Now I was a little surprised at the last two, since there was nothing wrong with those.

"The keyboard had missing keys," Timothy said.

"But the keyboard always had missing keys," I countered."It was a used one from Christopher. And they were keys I never used."

BTW, the keyboard is amazing, much easier on the fingers than the old clackety-clack model I had used for, well, I don't know how many years. I'm already accustomed to the mouse, and I love the keyboard.

I told everyone so on Sunday evening.

"Well, that was a delayed reaction," Daniel said as I bid him good night.

Doesn't he understand I couldn't tell how great it was until I spent a weekend writing fiction (Before the Blood) on it? Sheesh! Kids!

Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage." Follow him at or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Community News: May 23, 2018

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

Roundup of food pantries in Will and Grundy Counties 

Lockport students showcase cooking skills

CAPE recognizes dedication to students

Plainfield East HS students win at state journalism competition

Troy 30-C names new TMS assistant principal

Joliet Junior College culinary students to intern at Disney

Looking for recipes?
Check out this link of 6 new recipes:

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

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

Open Mic Night 2018: Tom Hernandez

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Community News: May 21 and May 22, 2018

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

Firefighters and paramedics teacher Plainfield students about emergencies

Bolingbrook students raise money for cancer

Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug More Readily Available

AMITA Health takes steps to limit use of opioid painkillers In emergency rooms

Craughwell Elementary in Joliet celebrates Pink Day

Joliet Zonta Club names 2018 Woman of the Year

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

 Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage." Follow him at or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.