Monday, September 13, 2021

The Anatomy of an At-Home Writing Retreat

Since I've used zero vacation time all year and vacation time doessn't carry over inot the next calendar year, I've decided to schedule a couple at-home writing retreats.

The first begins shortly.

If this sounds like fun, please know it only "sounds like fun." I've done a few of these now (thank you, finances (2018) and COVID (2020 and 2021), and they are intense and grueling.

The goal is to turn my outlined, very rough draft of Call of the Siren into a solid working draft that I can shape, revise, and edit. I have my "homework" divided into sections for each day, to keep me on track.

Wish me lots of luck (I'm going to need it).

Here's what an at-home, writing retreat typically looks like for me:

Sunday night: OMG, I'm so I excited! A whole week of writing a world of make-believe. I've got coffee. I've got inspiration. Here we go!

Monday: Well, I didn't get quite as much done as I wanted. But I've got most of the week left. I can make up for it.

Tuesday: Mind roams, not as focused. Underestimated the amount of research I needed on "x" topic. Get pulled down a rabbit hole of one unrelated click after another. Forgot to post Bertrand on Instagram, so get distracted by that. Didn't meet goal. Don't care as much as I did yesterday.

Wednesday: I hate writing. I hate coffee. I hate fiction. This writing retreat is stupid. I need a vacation. I can't wait to go back to work.

Thursday: The time pressure is on. Sprint writing.

Friday: Marathon writing. Skimming over more details than I want. Will have plenty of extra work in the revision stages because of it.

Saturday: Becoming resigned that my goal was too lofty. Get a realistic amount of writing done and set some goals for Sunday and the following weekend.

Sunday: Distracted writing. Pushing the undone work to next weekend. Mind roaming to the features writing I'll be doing on Monday. Checking some work email.

Now this week will have some variations.

For instance, I have today off because I worked the weekend, so my actualy vacation time doesn't start until tomorrow. So I took next Wednesday off, too.

And I'm giving myself a break on Thursday because Rebekah is having surgery. So anything post-Thursday might look different, too.

One clarifcation: by "break," I meant break from Call of the Siren. I will have my laptop with me at the hospital finishing up Cornell Dyer and the Calcium-Deficient Bones.

Again, please wish me plenty of luck.



Friday, September 10, 2021

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Sept. 4 through Sept. 10

Good morning!

I have sixteen stories to share with you today and quite a few not yet posted, so watch for them over the long weekend.

Quiet a bit has changed on the fiction front, so here is a quick recap.

First of all, I am working straight through the weekend, and I am excited and honored since it is the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 tomorrow. I've also been working on a big piece that will run tomorrow, too, and I'm thankful I was asked to write it.

And then, after I clock out from work on Sunday, an intense week of "other" writing will begin.

Thanks to COVID (again), I did not make it down to Raleigh (again) this summer to see Sarah. So I am using some of my vacation time to take two at-home writing retreats. The first one starts on Monday - barring any emergencies, for it's been a year of them, it seems.

The goal is to write a good working draft of half of Call of the Siren (the second book in the Limbo trilogy) during this retreat and then write a good working draft of the second half.

Please send lots of good thoughts because this is not as fun as it sounds. 

We have another book in The Adventures of Cornell Dyer series to share (Cornell Dyer and the "Mistical" Being, co-written by Rebekah, who also needs surgery now). Our artist Sue Midlock is nearly done with the chapter heading illustrations. 

Sue is recovering nicely now from that surgery but may have another issue, ugh! So please keep the good thoughts coming. 

I finished most of  Cornell Dyer and the Calcium-Deficient Bones over Labor Day weekend. So when Sue is done with the art for "Mistical Being," we will send her the next round of ideas.

Timothy is currently outlining another Cornell Dyer story. This one is another parody and features a character named Sherman Homes.

A few weeks back, Sarah had a crazy dream that sounded perfect for An Adventure of Cornell Dyer mystery. But she wants time to draw some sketches, a map, and write the "rules." It's called Cornell Dyer and the House of Broken Portals.

Bertrand the Mouse has returned, and you can read about it herehere, and here

I also have in my possession the first piece of completed cover art for the "Girls of the BryonySeries" series for tween girls. It's beautiful and it shows that artist Jennifer Wainright can draw anything from werewolves to portraits! She was working on art for the next two books (I have eight planned in all) - until she was in a bad motorcycle accident. Please send up good thoughts for her, too!

I have one "Girls of the BryonySeries" book ready for editing, a second in progress, and some really skeletal outlines for the rest. So I'm not lacking in projects, just time - but I have three days this weekend and intend to make good use of them. 

Now back to the sixteen stories. Simply click on the link of the story that looks interesting to you. Happy scrolling!

But before the stories, I have a list of additional resources and information. Please check them out, too -

Finally, if you'd like to find more kindness in your life, consider this book.

And have a great Friday!

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

Sue's Diner is a fictional restaurant in the fictional Munsonville that only exists in the BryonySeries.

Each Sunday, we post a new recipe. The recipe is either featured in one of our cookbooks or will be featured in an upcoming cookbook.

Check out the recipe here.

WRITERS

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

If you'd like to officially join WriteOn Joliet, we have two tiers of dues. We also have a marketing arm that's getting longer every year, well, except this year. Check us out at writeonjoliet.com.

I also suggest this book: Little Book of Revision: A Checklist for Fiction Writers. It's exactly as it says. Each page some with one suggestion for revision. The rest of the page is blank, so you can add your own notes. All proceeds benefit WriteOn Joliet.

If you need support in your writing, I highly recommend this Twitter group: #5amwritersclub. I  joined it last year. Writers support each other on Twitter and meet every three weeks at 5 a.m. (4 a.m. CST - needless to say, I am often late!) on Zoom.

If you need editing or help with self-publishing, check out dmbaranunland.com.

ARTISTS

If you need an artist for a project, I offer these recommendations.

NEWSLETTERS

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide and Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story and Book Review Newsletter at https://www.theherald-news.com/newsletter/

Sign up for The Munsonville Times by emailing us at bryonyseries@gmail.com. The newsletter still isn't official yet, so we don't have an actual link on the website - but we are working on it! 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Daily updates: I do post the briefs 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 www.facebook.com/BryonySeries.

And of course, please follow the adventures of Bertrand the Mouse on Instagram at bertrand_bryonyseries.

BRYONYSERIES BOOKS

For books and more information about the series, visit bryonyseries.com.

BRYONYSERIES EVENTS

A full month of virtual events can be found at bryonyseries.com/calendar-of-events-1.

QUESTIONS

Email me at bryonyseries@gmail.com.

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. Your support is greatly appreciated.

FEATURES

Baran-Unland: COVID is still here. Be mindful this Labor Day weekend: Mask up, step back, be safe

An Extraordinary Life: Joliet WWII veteran was a ‘a valedictorian in the school of life’: Glenn Masek served his country, his family and fellow seniors with intention and a big smile

D. 86 in Joliet recognizes employees for their years of service: Employees were recognized for five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 years of service with District 86 

ISP will conduct special patrols Saturday through Monday: Patrols include occupant restraint enforcement and distracted driving

Pets of the Week: Sept. 7: Will County rescues have dogs and cats for adoption

Mystery Diner in Plainfield: From calzones to cannoli, you’ll love Vita Bella Pizza: Venue offers wide variety of Italian cuisine

Storm rips down power lines, trees in Channahon: Reports of a tornado in the Channahon, Minooka area unconfirmed Tuesday evening

LocalLit book review: ‘Joy and Fear: The Beatles, Chicago and the 1960s’: Joliet Junior College professor examines the impact of #TheBeatles against the backdrop of Chicago

Scholarship recipients in the Diocese of Joliet get a financial boost: Kazma Family Foundation is increasing its 4-year scholarships by $2,000 each 

Tricia Simpson, Hollywood Casino Joliet receive philanthropic awards: People for Channahon Parks Foundation partnered with ExxonMobil to recognize individuals and businesses

8 ways to help the hungry in September: Village of Plainfield co-hosting community-wide food drive with other area organizations

Joliet homeless shelter receives $20,000 donation: Rotary Club of New Lenox held golf outing to raise the money

Joliet Public Library hosting a blues concert on Saturday - and a special offer for new patrons

Coal City native serving on Navy ship built with steel from the World Trade Center: Petty Officer 3rd Class Danielle Good was just 3 years old at the time of the attacks

LocalLit book review: Mokena author delivers novel of heroism inspired by 9/11: ‘A Dangerous Freedom’ captures lasting impact of events 20 years ago

Tornado warning for Will County









Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage."


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Sue's Diner: Italian Herb Monkey Bread with Garlic Olive Oil

 This week's recipe is called "Italian Herb Monkey Bread with Garlic Olive Oil" and my daughter Sarah Stegall created it

This recipe appears in the BryonySeries cookbook: Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony," which is a permament fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties.

The recipe is referenced in the novel Bryonywhere the protagonist, a 1970s teen named Melissa Marchellis, enounters it at a potluck memorial luncheon for her grandmother.

You can try our modified recipe on the Sue's Diner page on the BryonySeries website.

But try the recipe this week. It will be gone some time next week. A new recipe will take it's place. 




By the way, Sue's Diner is only real in the BryonySeries world. But didn't Timothy do a great job making the page look like a real menu at a vintage diner?

Here is the full diner page: bryonyseries.com/sue-s-diner. You can't really order, of course (wouldn't it be great if you could?).

For more BryonySeries recipes, check out our three cookbooks at our BryonySeries bryonyseries.com/general-store.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Post-Labor Day Reflection

For those who just came off a long weekend - it felt good to take time off, didn't it?

For those who worked through the weekend - I hope you get time off soon, too.

For all of us: please remember that every convenience we enjoy is the result of someone else's work.

Every single one.

We are so blessed, aren't we?


And, yes, Christmas is just around the corner...


Saturday, September 4, 2021

Midnight Apprentice

In honor of Labor Day, I'm sharing an excerpt from the BryonySeries novel Staked! that gives a slightly (emphasis on the "slightly") exaggerated look at the what delivering newspapers seven days a week in the middle of the night looks like.

With more and more publications making the transition to web only, this excerpt gives you a rare look at an entire industry that will someday be no more, an industry in which my entire family and I used to work.

What makes this piece especially fun is that the main character, John-Peter Simotes, is completely fictional, and his "Uncle Ed" is not.

For the back story of how that actually came to be, check out my Calkins Day Address from 2020.


John-Peter wearily pulled the pallet jack down the row of hastily assembled plywood work tables in the large warehouse, neatly dodging the zombie-like carrier pushing a shopping cart of newspapers toward an exit to load into vehicles. Despite the service doors opening into the night, the air hung heavy and lifeless with the overwhelming heat and humidity the building effectively trapped by day. It had been a long, laborious week, not one filled with the reading and relaxation.

            At the dinner table Monday night, Kellen had unveiled a list of chores for John-Peter to complete that week at the Happy Hunting Grounds funeral home because Kellen’s secretary was on vacation. None of the tasks were difficult, only time consuming. John-Peter had spent the last three days filing and running brochure orders to and from the local printer, as well as tearing apart and cleaning the display cases before refilling them with souvenirs and then carefully dusting the enormous picture of Agnes Scofield, the first client of Happy Hunting Grounds. Kellen had once told John-Peter that Agnes, a ninety-three year old resident of Jenson Nursing home, had given Kellen the permission of feasting on her blood in exchange for being forever immortalized as "the first."

            Tomorrow, John-Peter would return to Thornton with his mother for a physical—two physicals to be exact—before beginning school on Monday. Then John-Peter could only help Uncle Ed on weekends and school holidays. Between running newspapers with Uncle Ed by night and helping Kellen by day, John-Peter had not read anymore of Grandma Marchellis’ diary. Any free time he had acquired, whether at home or riding in the car, was spent in sleep.

            “Hey, John-Peter!” a large, burly man called from across the aisle. “I didn’t get my Thornton Times!”

            “Count?”

            The man stretched his tight and faded blue T-shirt over his hefty belly, trying to cover the last inch of skin and failing. “Thirteen.”

            John-Peter handed them to the man who belched in reply. He couldn’t blame the carrier, or any of the other drivers, for being grouchy tonight. Their boss, Joe Reece, had tucked a policy change into their paycheck envelopes stipulating that only a certain number and colors of bags would be distributed. If carriers required more than that amount, the cost would be deducted from the next week’s pay.

            That move prompted Uncle Ed to express his displeasure with a limerick:

 

            There once was a cheap boss named Reece

            Whose supplies to carriers decreased

            When the carriers cried, “Foul!”

            Reece spat as he howled,

            “I’ll make you share one sleeve apiece!”

           

            “Someday,” Ed said, leaning close to John-Peter and dropping his voice, “people will refer to cheap acts as ‘doing a Reece.’”

            No negative situation existed where Uncle Ed could not compose an appropriate limerick.

            “The limerick is the most superior kind of poem,” Uncle Ed had often him. “Not only can people pronounce it, they can remember it and it flows freely from the tongue. This sort of poetry works in two ways. The words I say create fear in others, fear of how they will be remembered. This fear then promotes a willingness in your enemy to compromise, to confront you in more friendly terms, or maybe to ally with you.”

             But if Joe Reece, or anyone else for that matter, cowered in terror before Ed Calkins, he never showed it. Even the carriers themselves rarely expressed the respect and appreciation John-Peter felt was due Ed for his hard work.

            Ed printed and sorted route books, oversaw the unloading and distribution of entire truckloads of products, including bag shipments and fifteen different publications totaling over ten thousand newspapers. In addition, Ed fielded complaints, dispensed bags, retrieved and carried garbage to the dumpsters, and swept the warehouse. This was in addition to his regular, carrier responsibilities. Ed delivered newspapers to the outlying and remote areas no driver wanted to touch, including Munsonville.

            On school days, if John-Peter rose early, he'd grab a jug of water and sprint barefoot down to Main Street under the early morning sun, just in time to catch Ed Calkins filling the newspaper boxes outside Sue’s Diner. If Ed had a few minutes to spare, which he always seemed to have, he'd share an Irish joke, adjust John-Peter’s leprechaun, and point to John-Peter’s watch.

             “Bet you can’t say ‘Irish wristwatch’ ten times.”

            And John-Peter could, every time.

            “John-Peter, if you want to make an Irishman laugh on a Monday, tell him a joke on a Friday.”

            “John-Peter, while at the wake of his atheist friend, the Irishman said, ‘Poor lad. All dressed up with no place to go.'"

            “John-Peter, do you know it takes four Irishmen to change a light bulb? One removes it from the socket and the other three remark, ‘What a grand, old light bulb it was!’”

            If Ed was running late, he’d acknowledge John-Peter’s existence with a jovial nod before he dropped the bundles at the machine, fully expecting John-Peter to fill them.

            John-Peter, of course, always did. He understood newspaper deadlines. He had grown up with them. His father, Professor Simotes, not Kellen, had delivered a country route under Uncle Ed’s authority. John-Peter not only accompanied John on the route, he helped prepare the papers for delivery and consulted the route book when his father had a question about the location of an obscure address, a delivery instruction or code, or which combination of publications a particular customer might receive.

            The problem? John-Peter did not remember any of it.

            He had been too young, a tender twenty months of age when the professor had died. His memories of the newspaper business centered around Uncle Ed, who was not really his uncle, but a man who had been a good friend, as well as the boss, of John Simotes.

            Ed seriously undertook his news agency responsibilities, even referring to himself as a “ruthless dictator” who expected compliance within his ranks, although he rarely obtained it. The carriers snatched extra newspapers from the pallets, invented excuses for customer complaints, and stole inserts, hooks, and bags from each other’s stations. Never did one week pass without a carrier calling Ed with a crisis of why he could not deliver his route that night, and could Ed please do it?

            And of course Ed did, while hard at work composing a penalty limerick, which that said carrier would hear upon walking in the warehouse door the following night. However, Ed did not limit his control tactics to mere verse. No new carrier slipped through the ranks without at least one request to sign Ed Calkins’ petition. Ed’s birthday fell between Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and Valentine’s Day, a fact significant enough, Ed felt, to warrant a three-day national holiday.

            “The time will come when everyone around the world will eagerly anticipate the Ed Calkins Day parade,” Ed always said, beaming, as he pressed both paper and pen into the hesitant carrier’s hands.

            In the meantime, Ed himself offered the joys and excitement of his parade to the elite crowd fortunate enough to deliver newspapers in the middle of the night from the Jenson warehouse.

            For as long as John-Peter could remember, he celebrated each February thirteen watching a carrier pull Uncle Ed through the building on the pallet jack, one John-Peter had decorated with green streamers and balloons for the occasion, while an exuberant Ed waved to his constituents with one hand and tossed bite-sized, wrapped pieces of candies from the other one toward the work stations.

            So although John-Peter had no time to read the diary this past week, he could and he did spend much time reflecting upon what he had read as he busied himself with his required duties.

            Had Grandma Marchellis really lived part of her life inside Simons Mansion or was the entry simply the ramblings of a demented mind? Surely if she'd had a connection to the musician, his mother, grandparents, or even Kellen would have mentioned it. Besides, who knew if her son Frank even had read it? Grandma Marchellis chronicled the tale in her personal diary. Maybe she went completely senile before she shared it with Frank.

             “John-Peter! Where’s my Detroit Daily News?”

            “In transport.”

            “Late again?”

            “Afraid so, Dave.”

            John-Peter dragged the jack back to the dock. He had nothing left to disperse until the final truck arrived for the night. He closed his fingers around the leprechaun before heading toward Uncle Ed’s work station.

            With lightening speed, Ed bagged the Jenson Reporters for a carrier who took his year old daughter to the emergency room last night. Eyes down at his work, Ed said to John-Peter, “Stuff all the papers for Munsonville, and bundle my papers for Sue’s Diner.”

             John-Peter refilled his jug from the water fountain and then went in search of an empty grocery cart. He found one overturned near Joe’s office, in front of the rusted, dented metal shelves holding back issues of the previous week’s publications. The cart worked better than he had guessed. Its handle only slightly wiggled and three of the wheels actually rolled.

            He stacked the newspapers from Ed’s work area into the cart and dragged the load to the strapping machine. Three other carriers stood in line to belt their store drops. One short, round woman fidgeted with growing impatience.

            “Hurry it up, Kurt. You’re not the only dang carrier in this building.”

            But Kurt ignored her and continued strapping bundles with a steady pace. Soon the metered beep-beep of a truck’s back-up alarm broke into the carriers’ low, rumbling chatter.

            “’Bout time,” groused a tall, thin man as he scratched under his scraggly, bronze beard. “Gotta go to work this mornin’. Boss said if I’m late again he’ll can me.”

            John-Peter wondered if John Simons ever paid that promised visit to Grandma Marchellis. If he did, John-Peter doubted the musician entered through the front door. He believed the story of the magic music box. He might even have seen it.

            Ed tugged a pallet jack full of Detroit Daily News bundles past John-Peter as the boy strapped the last bundle.

             “John-Peter! Get that cart back to the station and help me get these Detroits passed.”

             “Affirmed, sir.”

            Carriers swarmed the dock and Ed’s pallet, opening bundles and grabbing stacks of papers, heedless of Ed’s loud orders to wait their turns. Joe Reece charged five dollars for every newspaper a driver delivered late. John-Peter plopped onto a work table, fished inside his other pocket for an apple, and wished the princess had given it to him. He took a bite and leaned his weary body against the table’s back. As punishment for disregarding his stern commands, Uncle Ed would be tormenting offenders tomorrow morning with a fresh supply of limericks.

            “John-Peter!”

            The boy woke with a start. The apple core lay on the floor. The warehouse was devoid of carriers. Uncle Ed must have already loaded his car because he looked ready to leave.

            The first rays of dawn were breaking through the dark the sky as the pair entered the parking lot. No chance of a nap this morning before he and his mother would leave for Thornton.

            “What time is your appointment?”

             “Eleven-thirty.”

             “Hmm.” Ed frowned and looked at his own green wristwatch. “I’ll hit the country roads later. Let’s deliver Jenson, and then I’ll take you back to Munsonville. You’ll never survive the day without a nap.”

            “Much obliged, Steward, much obliged.”

            With a light heart and a steady supply of apples in his left hand, John-Peter threw newspapers into the driveways of Jenson’s neighborhoods and fumbled for whatever publication Uncle Ed needed with his right. He was glad to skip the country roads. The joggers who inhabited them at three o’clock in the morning made him uneasy. Once, Ed nearly collided with a man who rode his bike straight at Ed’s car. Other carriers might have signaled their anger with a finger or colorful language. Instead, Ed soothed his jangled nerves with a limerick.

           

            O cyclist who rides in the night

            Making sure you’re hidden from sight

            One day you will find

            A driver’s who blind

            Who’ll flatten you without any fight.

           

            “John-Peter, did I ever tell you about the four great treasures of the Tuatha de Danann?”    

            Ed had just reached the part about the endless food supply of the Cauldron of Dagda when he threw two newspapers out the window into the driveway of the house before the stop sign.

            “Wait, Uncle Ed,” John-Peter said, reaching above the visor for the route book. “The Jenson Reporter is a vacation stop.”

            “What about the Thornton Times?”

             “Active, your honor.”

             John-Peter ran across the road to pick up the extra newspaper. Although the sun was now fully up, the absence of traffic made delivering papers almost a joy. After tossing the renegade paper back into the smudged, cracked laundry basket that held its clones, John-Peter, gradually perking up under the brightening sun, grabbed a handful of Munsonville Weeklies.

            “Can’t understand why that newspaper is still in business,” Ed complained. “How much news can that village report in a week?”

             “The Daltons bought a parakeet.”

             “Three more blocks and then we can do the stores. Keep up with me because I want to stop at Eircheard’s Emporium before we go back to Munsonville.”

            “Anything in particular you’re seeking?”

            “Another tin whistle.”

            Ed Calkins saved the pawn shop’s bundle for last, after first pulling off the road to adjust John-Peter’s leprechaun, a pocket-sized creature with a leering face, tiny black eyes glinting below a pair of bushy red eyebrows, and a thatch of wild red hair sliding out from under its tall green hat. In the center of its belly, a series of numbers in the billions spiraled downward. The lull in the action always caused John-Peter to nod off, but he always reawakened feeling as refreshed as if he’d slept the night. By waiting until daybreak to deliver the Eircheard’s Emporium, Ed could be certain that Eircheard himself would have unlocked the front door, prepared the tea, and, if the wizened shopkeeper was feeling particularly ambitious that day, prepared a loaf of warm, Irish soda bread--using vinegar instead of buttermilk and a vegan spread from Brummings in Shelby to top it--out of respect for John-Peter.

            But no whiff of freshly baked bread greeted John-Peter’s nose that morning, only the pungent scent of the tobacco that emitted from Eircheard’s clay pipe. When John-Peter was a small boy, the sight of this leprechaun-like old man intimidated him and became the source of a recurring nightmare. Since early childhood, John-Peter had often dreamed of the shop keeper, sitting on a tree trunk and carving a misshapen piece of wood with a long-handled knife. A series of incantations followed the store owner’s act of jamming the wood into the ground. While Eircheard chuckled in glee, John-Peter’s leering face emerged from the top of the wooden post.

             But the Eircheard’s fearsomeness now only existed in John-Peter’s dreams. Inside the pawn shop, he was simply an old man making a dime from those wanting a quick buck and parting with their possessions to obtain it. The one-room, wood shop was not large, but Eircheard had filled it to bursting with all manner of furniture, knickknacks, clocks, lamps, signs, clothing, wall hangings, books, record albums, toys, dishes, household furnishings, and so forth, all stacked haphazardly and without category consideration.

            “No tin whistles today,” Eircheard said, leaning back in his desk chair, puffing on his pipe, and gesturing to a side table. “But some fellow brought in a whole stack of records. All bagpipe music.”

            Uncle Ed made a dour face and recited:

           

            A pygmy did sit in his chair

            Luring the innocent into his lair

            He said, “Why not you stay

            And buy something today?

            If it’s garbage I really don’t care.”

           

            Eircheard grinned around his pipe and watched Ed weave through the card tables, laden with assorted figurines, plaques, and jewelry, to flip through the albums.

             John-Peter poured a cup of tea, popped his vitamin, and polished off the remnants of yesterday’s bread while Eircheard puffed and watched some more. The boy wished he had topped off his jug before leaving the distribution center. His parched throat screamed for water.

            “Saved the last from yesterday. Had a feeling you gents would stop this morning.”

            “Thankee, Mr. E.”

             Eircheard smiled through the black gaps between his broken teeth. “Anytime.”

            Ed looked up from the stack of records.

            “Want to drive Kellen nuts?”

            “I’ll pass, Uncle Ed.”

            Kellen’s disparaging remarks about classical piano music were the bane of John-Peter’s life. No need to blare bagpipes, too.

            Ed selected three albums and brought them to the counter. Eircheard rose painfully to his feet to ring up Ed’s purchases.

            “That will be five dollars even.”

            “You drive a hard bargain.”

            “Got to keep a roof over my head, same as you.”

            Ed picked up the records and turned to John-Peter, who spread margarine on this third chunk of bread. Three-fourths of the loaf had disappeared into the boy’s growling stomach. “Let’s drop Munsonville, and get you home.”

            “Think Reece will be mad the country route is late?”

            “Not mad enough to find someone else to take it out.”

            The combination of the sun’s glare off the windshield and the warm snack sent waves of sleepiness through John-Peter's numb brain. Twice he nodded into slumber against the window glass before he and Ed reached Munsonville.

            Ed parked his car in front of Sue’s Diner and reached for the newspaper bundle. “You rest. I’ll fill the machines.” In less than five minutes, Ed was turning onto Bass Street over John-Peter’s objections.



A customer wishes the real Ed Calkins best wishes on the very last day of his newspaper route earlier this year.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Aug. 28 through Sept. 3

Good morning!

I havetwenty-three stories to share with you today and quite a few not yet posted, so watch for them over the long weekend.

Quiet a bit has changed on the fiction front, so here is a quick recap.

We have another book in The Adventures of Cornell Dyer series to share (Cornell Dyer and the "Mistical" Being, co-written by Rebekah, who also needs surgery now). Our artist Sue Midlock is currently working on the chapter heading illustrations. Timothy saw her last night and said the drawings are about halfway done.

Sue is recovering nicely now from that surgery but may have another issue, ugh! So please keep the good thoughts coming. 

Timothy and I had outlined Cornell Dyer and the Calcium-Deficient Bones and I hope to complete the first draft this weekend. We have another breakfast scheduled for tomorrow - hopefully - to work on another Cornell Dyer story. This one is another parody and features a character named Sherman Homes.

A few weeks back, Sarah had a crazy dream that sounded perfect for An Adventure of Cornell Dyer mystery. But she wants time to draw some sketches, a map, and write the "rules." It's called Cornell Dyer and the House of Broken Portals.

Bertrand the Mouse has returned, and you can read about it herehere, and here

I created quite a few character outlines for all the new characters (and returning minor characters who now have secondary or major role) in the second book of the Limbo trilogy: Call of the Siren. I've written the first and last line for every chapter and become more granular on the outlines. 

Since I'm not going to Raleigh this year AGAIN (I'm so bummed), I'm planning two at-home writing retreats with my vacation time and want to make good use of that time as we'd like to release the book in 2022. The first writing retreat is the week Rebekah has surgery. 

The writing retreat starts on an odd day off, then I work four days through the weekend and then I will be off. I have my writing homework outlined and ready for me to get started.

I also have in my possession the first piece of completed cover art for the "Girls of the BryonySeries" series for tween girls. It's beautiful and it shows that artist Jennifer Wainright can draw anything from werewolves to portraits! She was working on art for the next two books (I have eight planned in all) - until she was in a bad motorcycle accident. Please send up good thoughts for her, too!

I have one "Girls of the BryonySeries" book ready for editing, a second in progress, and some really skeletal outlines for the rest. So I'm not lacking in projects, just time - but I have three days this weekend and intend to make good use of them. 

Now back to the twenty-three stories. Simply click on the link of the story that looks interesting to you. Happy scrolling!

But before the stories, I have a list of additional resources and information. Please check them out, too -

Finally, if you'd like to find more kindness in your life, consider this book.

And have a great Friday!

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

Sue's Diner is a fictional restaurant in the fictional Munsonville that only exists in the BryonySeries.

Each Sunday, we post a new recipe. The recipe is either featured in one of our cookbooks or will be featured in an upcoming cookbook.

Check out the recipe here.

WRITERS

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

If you'd like to officially join WriteOn Joliet, we have two tiers of dues. We also have a marketing arm that's getting longer every year, well, except this year. Check us out at writeonjoliet.com.

I also suggest this book: Little Book of Revision: A Checklist for Fiction Writers. It's exactly as it says. Each page some with one suggestion for revision. The rest of the page is blank, so you can add your own notes. All proceeds benefit WriteOn Joliet.

If you need support in your writing, I highly recommend this Twitter group: #5amwritersclub. I  joined it last year. Writers support each other on Twitter and meet every three weeks at 5 a.m. (4 a.m. CST - needless to say, I am often late!) on Zoom.

If you need editing or help with self-publishing, check out dmbaranunland.com.

ARTISTS

If you need an artist for a project, I offer these recommendations.

NEWSLETTERS

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide and Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story and Book Review Newsletter at https://www.theherald-news.com/newsletter/

Sign up for The Munsonville Times by emailing us at bryonyseries@gmail.com. The newsletter still isn't official yet, so we don't have an actual link on the website - but we are working on it! 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Daily updates: I do post the briefs 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 www.facebook.com/BryonySeries.

And of course, please follow the adventures of Bertrand the Mouse on Instagram at bertrand_bryonyseries.

BRYONYSERIES BOOKS

For books and more information about the series, visit bryonyseries.com.

BRYONYSERIES EVENTS

A full month of virtual events can be found at bryonyseries.com/calendar-of-events-1.

QUESTIONS

Email me at bryonyseries@gmail.com.

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. Your support is greatly appreciated.

FEATURES

Getting all people vaccinated - that’s the mission of this Joliet resident: RJ Barry-Ethridge is a COVID Ambassador for the state of Illinois

LocalLit book preview: All you need is another Beatles book - yes, really: Joliet history professor published book focusing on Fab Four’s time in Chicago

Nursing was her dream – until she decided not to get the COVID-19 vaccine: CNA from #Joliet nursing home refuses COVID vaccine and tells why

Pets of the Week: Aug. 29: Will County rescues have dogs and cats for adoption

Morris Hospital physical therapist is a ‘professional who gets the best therapy results’: Renee Joder honored as Morris Hospital’s Fire Starter of the Month

Trinity Services recognized for 10 recent advances to help people with developmental disabilities and mental illness: 2021 International Business Awards honors New Lenox nonprofit with a Stevie Award 

Pets of the Week: Extra: Here’s an extra edition of dogs and cats for adoption by Will County rescues

LocalLit book review: recovering addict offers advice about achieving goals: ‘Body. Mind. Beatdown.’ is a concise, no-nonsense guide to making your dreams come true

An Extraordinary Life: Athlete’s family paying it forward in his name on Sept. 12: Rick Baranak of Shorewood was ‘the type of person you get to meet once in a lifetime’ 

Joliet Central’s classes of 1989-1991 to host combined reunion: Special incentives for early registration 

HRSA grant will help Joliet university prepare nursing educators: Goal: reduce nursing faculty shortage, address health disparities 

From teen entrepreneurs to young adults with a downtown storefront: Joliet Kreamers is the place to buy, sell or trade your sneakers

Morris Hospital, Silver Cross post daily COVID numbers: Morris Hospital also breaks down cases by vaccination status 

As COVID cases rise, need for blood rises, too: Here’s where to donate in Will County this September

New police chief for the village of Frankfort: Board approved Leanne Bender-Chelep for role

Protect forests and natural resources as a USDA wildland firefighter: The USDA Forest Service Eastern Region has 14 openings

Morris Hospital changing visitor guidelines due to rising COVID cases: Changes were effective Friday, Aug. 27

Edward Hospital’s tiniest preemie is now a senior at Plainfield Central: Zoe Koz’s earliest days were filled with ‘tubes and wires and machines’

5 Things to Do in Will County: End of summer fun includes festivals, luau, Labor Day party: For some quiet fun, check out an unique exhibit of historical buildings

Use Labor Day weekend to plan your fall colors: Will County Inside/Outside Guide offers suggestions for enjoying your weekend

10 opportunities to chase away loneliness in kids: Angelic Kindness donated Buddy Benches to 10 schools around VVSD District 365U 

Joliet club for students receives WiFi-connected Lift Zone: Lift Zone also will help the G.W. Buck Boys & Girls Club of Joliet extend its programs and services

Black pastor and photographer delivers stirring pro-vaccination message: Nolan McCants’ ‘Stillness’ video is part of the Arts Alliance Illinois’ ‘Vax to Get Back’ project 



Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage."


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

"It's Complicated" (Character List for Just One Scene)

If my WriteOn comrades will let me take up a chunk of time at our WriteOn Joliet meeting this Thursday, I'd like to read a very long excerpt.

It's not because I like the sound of my voice or think my writing is better than anyone else.

But, rather, the topic of "voice" has come up at the last couple of meetings, and this scene has A LOT of different voices.

In the book where this scene falls, the characters are introduced gradually. But they won't be when/if I read it.

So I created a character sheet last weekend for the meeting. This character sheet has a brief overview of who these people are. The scene itseld shows how I develop their "voices."

For me, as a writer, creating character "voice" is the most challenging of the entire process.

And this particular scene posed a particular challenge when I wrote it back in 2015 because it was the first time I had written an event in a crowd where many of the characters gathered at once. The "voice" for each character had to be highly developed for the scene to have dimension and depth. Otherwise, I risked clogging up the scene with "he saids" and "she saids" just to keep the voices all straight.

So here is the cast of characters. And if this doesn't scare away my fellow writers, and if they let me, I will read the scene in which all these people appear.

You can see why I struggled with it...


FISHER FARM PUMPKIN PARTY

October 1884 Munsonville, Michigan, a fictitious “Utopian” remote village in Northern Michigan where “everyone is welcome.” Residents practice vegetarianism.

Industries: fishing, lumbering, maple-syruping

Leader: Owen Munson. Owns the land, overseas commerce and village development, is “shepherd” to the “sheep.” Caused a division by appointing a good friend as mayor (some people thought Owen should be mayor). Short, stocky, curly black hair, healthy teeth (an important sign of wealth), always wears his cowboy hat, struts through the village singing cowboy songs. Mostly on the go, bunks in a sparsely furnished fishing cabins.

This excerpt: The small, but growing community (about 75 – don’t worry; they don’t all talk in this scene) is gathering on Fisher Farm (just outside Munsonville proper) for a harvest fest. Excerpt is through a 9-year-old girl’s eyes. The people mentioned are the ones most familiar to her.

MARSEILLES FAMILY

Bryony Marseilles: Age 9. Slender with long, thick, wavy tan hair typically pulled back and held with a bow. Being raised by her bitter, widowed father; is anemic, sheltered, a tad mouthy at times, and slightly spoiled by the childless Mr. and Mrs. Parks, her adopted Uncle Orville and Uncle Bertha.

Reverend Galien Marseilles: The church’s pastor is tall and thin with gray, short-cropped hair and pointed beard. He wears only black, partakes in no village festivities, wants to make a “new woman” out of Bryony, and obsessively controls her environment.

PARKS FAMILY

Orville Parks: Short, fat, middle aged. Curly brown hair, furry brown mustache, loves to fish and tell fish stories. Very easy-going unless you piss him off.

Bertha Parks: Much taller than Orville with a gray beehive. Bossy, self-important, gossiper. Housekeeper to the Marseilles family and Bryony’s only mother figure.

BASS FAMILY

Theodore “Teddy” Bass: Master carpenter, average height, round and pock-marked “Man in the Moon” face. Loud-mouthed. Leads all the building and furniture making under the name Bass and Betts. Is married to the best cook and baker in the village. He and his wife often get into fist fights, which Owen has to break up. One of the many who’s resentful that Owen isn’t mayor. Often heckles Mayor Boswell Pike.

Sally Bass: See above. Blonde, large-boned, outspoken, and a flirt. Cares for Pearl Griffith (see way below), who is sick with an unspecified lung disease and bedridden. Might have slept with Pearl’s husband Gus Griffith.

DRAKE FAMILY

Stuart Drake: Middle age, slightly pedantic, shopkeeper. Gray hair, wears gray pin-striped suits. Wife is 20 years younger, got lucky in marrying her. Her dad hated him, but Dad was dying of consumption and that would have left his 15-year-old daughter in the village without male protection. Stuart isn’t creepy. He’s crazy about Belinda in a good way. Pouts if he doesn’t get his way. Closely mentors his oldest son. Often forgets he has a younger son.

Belinda Drake: Skinny, timorous, nearsighted (no glasses), fine auburn hair, poorly educated, pregnant.

Addison Drake: Age 11, mirrors his father. Except for the gray hair.

Norton Drake: Little and lively. About 4.

HASSET FAMILY

The newest family to Munsonville and introduced in this scene.

Richard “Dick” Hasset: Journalist who started The Munsonville Times, the village’s first and only newspaper. He’s calm with merry eyes, handlebar mustache, loud bowties. Quickly becomes good friends with Mayor Boswell Pike.

Lula Hasset: Brown hair, quiet, glasses, serious. Quickly becomes friends with Janet Pike, Mayor Pike’s wife.

Lillian Hasset: Age 12, a miniature of her mother. Minus the glasses.

Leo Hasset: Tall, slim, brown hair, 11. Happy.

Luther Hasset: Less tall, slim, brown hair, 10. Somber.

PIKE FAMILY

Mayor Boswell Pike: Looks like Mephistopheles, lives in a gated colonial at the top of the hill, has expensive horses, an expensive carriage. Has six children – two with his first wife who died giving birth to an unnamed third (also dead) – and three with his new wife Janet, for whom he advertised. Dresses elegantly in expensive clothes. Philosophy teacher at a liberal arts college the next town over. His dissenters complain he spends more time with his books than “mayoring.” Not a hands-on person, although he’s chopped his share of trees (nearly cutting off his hand) and buried his share of the dead (got frostbite in the process).

Janet Pike: Tall, brunette, broad-shouldered, confident, a former teacher from Boston.

Only two of their kids are mentioned in this scene. Blanche, a toddler, who crawls underfoot, and Boswell Junior, subtly vicious and cold-hearted, age 11.

BETTS FAMILY

Sebastian Betts: Known as the village sot behind his back. He’s nevertheless a master carpenter and half of the Bass and Betts team. Short, chunky, with a square head, tight auburn curls, florid complexion. Wears glasses. College-educated. Inflated sense of self worth.

Phoebe Betts: Skinny with fine yellow hair and freckles. Illiterate. Foul-mouthed and loudly insulting of the girl her son Paulie likes (farther in the book, at their wedding, she yells “Slut!” during the service). Drinks just as much. If not more.

The Betts have five boys, ages 12 through 21, and one daughter. The kids all look like Phoebe. All the kids are illiterate.

Denny: Fell off the roof while building their saltbox, is paralyzed and confined to bed

Paulie: Quiet, a carpenter with Bass and Betts, in love with Ida Griffith

Robbie: Mama's boy, easily influenced by others

Milty: Eager to please, personal assistant to Mayor Pike, being educated, not in this scene

Freddie: Fat, stupid, dull, disinterested.

Susan: Skinny, wispy blonde hair that’s usually dirty. Freckles. Dull cornflower eyes. Bryony’s best friend, thanks to Mrs. Parks who insisted to Reverend that Bryony have a playmate. Age 9.

FISHER FAMILY

“Old Man” Clyde Fisher: Oldest man resident. Typically wears overall and boots unless he goes to town. Limp white hair that touches his shoulders. Calm, mellow, soft-spoken, tanned, slender, muscular, good friends with Owen Munson (they have a past).

James Fisher: Clyde Fisher’s great nephew. Came to Munsonville in his late teens with his pregnant girlfriend (now wife). Short, round, brown hair, baby face. Hardly speaks. Shuns alcohol. About 27.

Maybelle Fisher: Pregnant with sixth child. Heavy (gets heavier with each child), a run-on sentence type of chatterbox, thick dark hair past her shoulders, easy-going. Shuns alcohol. About 25.

Their five girls range in age from 4 to 9, not in sight, hanging out with unnamed others at this event. They all have dark curly hair and give their parents no trouble.

GRIFFITH FAMILY

Gus Griffith: Lumberjack, came to Munsonville because his wife Pearl has a lung issue (better air) and is confined to bed. Sally Bass cares for wife, home, and hearth while he’s busy in the woods. And maybe Gus, when he’s home from the woods.

Pearl Griffith: Never seen, only her struggle to breathe is heard.

Harv Griffith: Late teens. Lumberjack like his father. Interested in politics and current events.

Ida Griffith: About sixteen. Gawky, homely, and under the wing of Janet Pike. Ida gets Janet’s hand-me-downs and helps out with the Pike children, especially little Blanche. Paulie Betts is in love with her. She’s oblivious.




Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Three Good Songs

I'd like to share three songs that you may not have heard that are really sweet.

They are from a Korean drama Rebekah and I finished last week. It's called Something in the Rain, and I'd recommend it for writers who would like to see a really good construction of relationship, including how the relationship affects the people around us (for as many romances would like us to believe, relationships don't exist in a vacuum).

Also, again for writers, the character development is outstanding. 

I also recommend it to people who would like a good instroduction to Korena culture.

Lastly, the drama addresses a number of taboos. The Wikipedia page gives a good overview of both the story and the taboos: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Something_in_the_Rain

Now for the songs. The first is a cover of a familiar song, and the first time I've watched a K-drama that had an American song. I wasn't certain I liked it when it first played but soon changed my mind.

The next two are just nice. Again, I wasn't certain how I felt about them at first, so I suggest listening to them all the way to the end before you decide.

Have a great day! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1YAdFjdvx4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJq2YsoSHk0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt5yUcunUmI




Friday, August 27, 2021

Mary Bergin Tin Whistle

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Aug. 21 through Aug. 27

Good morning!

I have eighteen stories to share with you today and another eleven not yet posted, so watch for them over the weekend.

Nothing has changed, fiction-wise, in the last couple of weeks, but I'll quickly recap.

We have another book in The Adventures of Cornell Dyer series to share (Cornell Dyer and the "Mistical" Being, co-written by Rebekah, who also needs surgery now). Our artist Sue Midlock is currently working on the chapter. Thank you for the good thoughts. She is recovering nicely now from that surgery but may have another issue, ugh! So please keep the good thoughts coming.

Timothy and I had our first "Cornell Breakfast" last week to start Cornell Dyer and the Calcium-Deficient Bones. We have one scheduled for tomorrow - hopefully.

And then, for down the road, Sarah had a crazy dream that sounded perfect for An Adventure of Cornell Dyer mystery. But she wants time to draw some sketches, a map, and write the "rules." It's called Cornell Dyer and the House of Broken Portals.

Bertrand the Mouse has returned, and you can read about it here, here, and here

I'm currently working on tons of character outlines for all the new characters (and returning minor characters who now have secnodary or major role) in the second book of the Limbo trilogy: Call of the Siren. Last weekend, I also wrote the first and last line for every chapter. 

Last weekend, I got a little more granular on the outlines. Since I'm not going to Raleigh this year AGAIN (I'm so bummed), I'm planning two at-home writing retreats with my vacation time and want to make good use of that time as we'd like to release the book in 2022.

I also have in my possession the first piece of completed cover art for the "Girls of the BryonySeries" series for tween girls. It's beautiful and it shows that artist Jennifer Wainright can draw anything from werewolves to portraits! She was working on art for the next two books (I have eight planned in all) - until she was in a bad motorcycle accident. Please send up good thoughts for her, too!

I have one "Girls of the BryonySeries" book ready for editing, a second in progress, and some really skeletal outlines for the rest. So I'm not lacking in projects, just time. And coffee.

Now back to the eighteen stories. Simply click on the link of the story that looks interesting to you. Happy scrolling!

But before the stories, I have a list of additional resources and information. Please check them out, too -

Finally, if you'd like to find more kindness in your life, consider this book.

And have a great Friday!

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

Sue's Diner is a fictional restaurant in the fictional Munsonville that only exists in the BryonySeries.

Each Sunday, we post a new recipe. The recipe is either featured in one of our cookbooks or will be featured in an upcoming cookbook.

Check out the recipe here.

WRITERS

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

If you'd like to officially join WriteOn Joliet, we have two tiers of dues. We also have a marketing arm that's getting longer every year, well, except this year. Check us out at writeonjoliet.com.

I also suggest this book: Little Book of Revision: A Checklist for Fiction Writers. It's exactly as it says. Each page some with one suggestion for revision. The rest of the page is blank, so you can add your own notes. All proceeds benefit WriteOn Joliet.

If you need support in your writing, I highly recommend this Twitter group: #5amwritersclub. I  joined it last year. Writers support each other on Twitter and meet every three weeks at 5 a.m. (4 a.m. CST - needless to say, I am often late!) on Zoom.

If you need editing or help with self-publishing, check out dmbaranunland.com.

ARTISTS

If you need an artist for a project, I offer these recommendations.

NEWSLETTERS

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide and Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story and Book Review Newsletter at https://www.theherald-news.com/newsletter/

Sign up for The Munsonville Times by emailing us at bryonyseries@gmail.com. The newsletter still isn't official yet, so we don't have an actual link on the website - but we are working on it! 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Daily updates: I do post the briefs 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 www.facebook.com/BryonySeries.

And of course, please follow the adventures of Bertrand the Mouse on Instagram at bertrand_bryonyseries.

BRYONYSERIES BOOKS

For books and more information about the series, visit bryonyseries.com.

BRYONYSERIES EVENTS

A full month of virtual events can be found at bryonyseries.com/calendar-of-events-1.

QUESTIONS

Email me at bryonyseries@gmail.com.

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. Your support is greatly appreciated.

FEATURES

 Longtime Joliet daycare provider ‘GaGa Cindy’ battling rare and incurable cancer: Amber Kolodziej: ‘She thought she’d be watching kids until she was 80′ 

Need free food? Come to this Crest Hill church on Aug. 27: Word of Life to host mobile food pantry

Do you have a Joliet story to share? Wednesday’s town hall meeting is for you: Joliet Focus to share details of its new app at museum

An Extraordinary Life: Joliet woman survived 4 serious car accidents, had a ‘big, giving heart’: Raynice Tadey ‘cared very deeply about everyone around’

LocalLit book review: Children’s book aims to give hope to the hopeless: The heart of ‘Eva’s Heart’ is to never give up

Joliet based hotline seeking Catholics in good standing: Upper Room Crisis #hotline begins volunteer training in September

LocalLit book preview: a blunt, concise guide to wellness from an unlikely author: Lockport resident used drugs, spent time in prison. Now he shares his ‘guide to conquering demons and crushing goals’ in new book 

LocalLit book review: a new/old way to experience Illinois this summer: Route66 guidebook for Illinois has directions, photos, suggestions for best experiences

A day just for Joliet youth and their families: Joliet Unity Movement held annual 815 Youth Day on Aug. 15

New organization seeks to strengthen the Latino business community: The Joliet Latino Economic Development Association brings resources and opportunities to members

Crest Hill hoping to expedite new development along Weber Road: City Council unanimously approves TIF inducement resolution on Monday

Veterans: meeting with a VSO officer is about to get easier: Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Service Office opens Aug. 23 in Lockport

Will County health officials hope full approval of Pfizer vaccine will convince some to get the jab: Full FDA approval is ‘a step in the right direction’ 

3 Will County hospitals mandate COVID-19 vaccines: Morris Hospital, DuPage Medical Group undecided 

Joliet native keeps murdered teen’s memory alive: Bill O’Connell will discuss the details of his book ‘Fourteen: The Murder of David Stukel’ at museum webinar this Thursday 

5 Things to do in Will County: have a doggone good time at the Crest Hill library on Saturday: More suggestions for your weekend: free concert, open air yoga, doughnuts and drafts

Too hot this weekend? Plan your autumn walking challenge: Will County Inside/Outside Guide offers suggestions for enjoying your weekend

Joliet area residents speak out about the #COVID shot: With full FDA approval of the #Pfizervaccine they hope more people will get it


Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage."