Thursday, February 22, 2024

Faces of Faith: Part One

Faith is six weeks away from her two-year anniversary of her diagnosis of small cell lymphoma.

Many cats with diagnosis live two to three years when treated with chemotherapy, prednisolone, and vitamin B12.

For many reasons, we opted for palliative care only, understanding we would get two to three months instead. But except for the scare in November (when we actually scheduled her at-home euthanasia only to have her pull through an hour before the veterinarian arrived), Faith has continued to do well.

Here's half a dozen photos of Faith for you to enjoy today. Hope at least one makes you smile.

Happy Thursday!














Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Sue's Diner: Pound Cake With Vanilla Cream and Berries

The last time Rebekah prepared this pound cake with vanilla cream and berries (before yesterday, that is) was back in 2019 for Daniel's birthday.

The top had a nice crunch that everyone at the party enjoyed. In fact, most people said it was their favorite part of the cake. Cindy had enjoyed it so much, she asked for this cake for her birthday celebration yesterday.

Rebekah preferred strawberries, but we couldn't find any useable ones at the store. So she substituted blueberries and blackberries and found they worked just as nicely. We feel any berry could work.

The recipe for pound cake with vanilla cream and berries is not featured in any of the BryonySeries cookbooks, including Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony," which is a permanent fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties and features all the recipes referenced in the novel Bryony

However, you can try this recipe for pound cake with vanilla cream and berries on the Sue's Diner page on the BryonySeries website. 

NOTE: You will need a scale with grams to measure cake ingredients. Rebekah created this recipe while in culinary, when everything needed to be measured in grams.

SECOND NOTE: Add a little vanilla bean paste to the cream if you can find it (Rebekah ran out and couldn't find any on Monday night). It enhances the vanilla taste, and the brown speckles in the cream is very attractive.

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

If you have any troubleshooting questions or comments, email us at bryonyseries@gmail.com. 




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.

Monday, February 19, 2024

The Opportunity in Presidents' Day (Part 2)

Can you name half a dozen facts about James K. Polk? 

Millard Fillmore?

Warren G. Harding?

Today, Presidents' Day, is a great day to do a quick internet search on one president that's obscure to you. 

While presidents from the past seem like irrelevant, ancient history, each president had a role in shaping the United States into the shape it is today. Knowing how we got here is a good start to understanding where we're heading.

Last year on this day, I wrote a post called "The Opportunity in Presidents' Day."

This post gave an overview and rationale for each core branch of education (and we had more than the three Rs) that my children studied in our home-school.

The U.S. government was one, with a separate focus on all of the U. S. presidents. 

I handpicked the curriculum and added to it every year. Do you see the workbook below? This belongs to Timothy, who kept it all these years.

But it's blank, you may wonder.

Of course, it's blank. The workbooks were resources we used every year. The kids did their work on separate sheets of paper.

Now, this was just one of several books on U.S. presidents we used, depending on the age of the child.

Some of the early memorization work the kids did (first, second, third grades) was to name all U.S. presidents in order. If they can't still do that (although Christopher probably can), they will come rather close.

I shared a few pages from the book, so please scroll through and test your own knowledge today.

Or purchase your own copy of "The Complete Book of Presidents and States." The blurb on Thriftbooks said it's geared toward grades four to six, so you should be able to breeze right through it.

Happy Presidents' Day!











Saturday, February 17, 2024

Calkins Day 2024: Six Photos and a Bit of Commentary

Good morning Here is a quick recap, a few links, and six photos of our Calkins Day celebration on Tuesday.

Calkins Day (Feb. 13) is the BryonySeries' official holiday. It's a day to celebrate laughter, imagination, and generosity.

We held Calkins Day 2024 in a similar format and in the same location (The Book Market in Crest Hill) as Calkins Day 2023. We built our celebration around local authors and independent authors in order to help grow Ed's library of such authors and provide a little exposure for these authors. 

Basically, if you wrote a book, you could take home one of Ed's books for free if you gave him one of yours. Readers (anyone else who hadn't written a book) could talk Ed out of a book in various ways. That wasn't difficult to do, since he was eager to give his books away.

You see, Ed is not only a real person, he's also a ruthless dictator/Irish vampire in this bookthis book, and this book in the BryonySeries, is also an author in the series. After he published his first novel, he joined WriteOn Joliet. Ed was/is overjoyed to meet so many authors on the local level and buy and read their books. That's why this format of a Calkins Day celebration (which is also Ed's birthday) really appeals to him.

This year for the first time, Ed and Nancy hosted the entire event from beginning to end. I handled a little of the marketing, brought the books, including Ed's latest ("The Fifth"), took a few photos (fewer than I've ever taken), and enjoyed myself.

Approximately a dozen people came out, including one man from Arlington Heights and Chicago poet Alan Hines, who won a beautiful painting Nancy created and gave away just for the occasion, and who is having his own signing at The Book Market today from noon to 4 p.m.

Here is why we celebrate Calkins Day.

Here is how to celebrate Calkins Day.

Who is Ed Calkins? Here is a twenty-question interview with the real Ed Calkins.

Enjoy the photos. Happy Saturday!

 








Friday, February 16, 2024

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Feb. 10 to Feb. 16

 Good morning!

I have eleven news and features stories to share with you this week. But more will be posted over this weekend, especially with me working this weekend. So be sure to check back on The Herald-News site: shawlocal.com/the-herald-news.

We had a small but wonderful Calkins Day celebration at The Book Market in Crest Hill. In addition to Ed and Nancy Calkins (and me), seven other guests came out (at least, while I was there). This included Chicago poet Alan Hines, who won a beautiful painting Nancy created and gave away just for the occasion.

We met Alan at Calkins Day 2023, and he came out for both WriteOn Joliet's anthology release party and for Calkins Day 2024. Alan has a book signing tomorrow from noon to 4 p.m. at The Book Market. He is even more prolific than I am. I encourage anyone in the area to pop in and see what he offers. From stories I've heard about Alan, he's also a terrific human being and someone you might want to know.

I am thrilled to report that we did have copies of "The Fifth," the second novel by Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara, which is now live on Amazon and available for purchase.

If you're new to the BryonySeries and this blog, here is a post that with links that explains Calkins Day. We will post some photos on tomorrow's blog.

Other BryonySeries book updates:

House on Top of the Hill: Third book in the BryonySeries Limbo trilogy. I now have a good working draft of the entire book and four chapters and a prologue that are ready for final edits. We are estimating a late 2024 release date.

The Adventures of Cornell Dyer: Timothy said the next book will be slightly dark ("slightly" because it's for kids, too) and will involve an old toy store. We are also working on the last book in the series (but it's not the final book, if that makes sense). Timothy is actually writing that one. We had a tentative "Cornell breakfast" scheduled for last weekend, which didn't happen. We are trying again for this weekend. We've scheduled and broke several in 2023. Our last one was July 2022. So we are LONG overdue.

Brainy Ann: The fifth book in The Girls of the BryonySeries is outlined and ready for some serious writing in 2024. The first chapter is written, hurray! Jennifer Wainwright has already started working on the cover portrait. That one is called "Brainy Ann."

Jennifer designed the cover portraits for "Julie and the Too-Hard Homework," "Katie and the Big Fear," "Summer Sisters." and "Karla Joins In," as well as the frontispiece for Lycanthropic Summer.

A Year of Shadows and Moonlight, of Gathering Blooms in the Woods: A rather unusual, poetic novella in the second person. Three-fourths of it is written and edited and another fourth is in the developmental stage. Rebekah is also playing around with art for the cover. We are estimating a mid-2024 release date.

Rebekah is also slowly updating the BryonySeries YouTube and Pinterest accounts. And she' catching up with Kindles for some of the BryonySeries books. So do watch for those.

Now back to The Herald-News stories 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 Wednesday, we post a new recipe. The recipe is either featured in one of our cookbooks, will be featured in an upcoming cookbook, or is just an "extra" we want to share with you.

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 and two ways to attend meetings. We also have a marketing arm that's getting longer every 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 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 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 haven't posted anything on Twitter/X (except a daily Bible verse) since September I can no longer schedule posts in advance. I'm not sure yet how to manage the account without that option. But you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61.

BryonySeries stuff: I used to curated content relating to the BryonySeries on Twitter/X at @BryonySeries and still post assorted related content at facebook.com/BryonySeriesyoutube.com/user/BryonySeries, and themes of each book in the BryonySeries at pinterest.com/bryonyseries.

Again, not sure yet about the direction of the BryonySeries Twitter/X account. Still mulling that over.

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.

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

Plainfield D-202 adopts asthma medication program for quicker emergency response

Plainfield South invites all to sing along at Black History Month Showcase: Hope Moore Mezo, coordinator: ‘Any age, any race, any culture may participate in the community sing’

Joliet’s Rialto Theatre to show ‘Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Mary Poppins’ in February:  Tickets go on sale Jan. 29.

Shorewood HUGS chocolate ball fundraiser helps group grant wishes: Shorewood HUGS hosted its 14th chocolate ball Feb. 3

Photos: Shorewood HUGS 14th chocolate ball

Silver Cross cardiologist shares her own heart experience, expertise: Dr. Reema Sheth is skilled in transradial cardiac catheterization

Lenten fish fries to try across the Joliet region: Here are 11 fish fries to try

Veterans must register by Monday for Vet-to-Vet program in Shorewood: The event is free to veterans

Herald-News seeking ‘Women of the Year’ submissions: Entry deadline is April 5

Pets of the Week: Feb. 12, 2024: Will County rescues have dogs and cats for adoption

The Local Scene: Visitor-led art at Will County forest preserve: Here are 5 things to do this weekend



Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage"

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Snack Bags From Jasmine

I think "comfort food" is important to most of us from time to time, although what comfort is to us might be different from what comfort food is to another.

Many people often give gifts of food or drink to express affection or love, like chocolate on Valentine's Day or pot of chicken soup to someone who is ill.

So on Saturday, Jasmine brought "snack bags" for herself, Rebekah, and me before we set off to celebrate Lunar New Year with Cindy and her family, so we could have a cozy ride there and back.

Inside each snack bag are comfort foods tailored to each individual person. So no two begs are the same. She also brought coffee as well as tea (for Rebekah). But Jasmine is thoughtful that way.


Just twenty-four hours earlier, I had another flare-up of whatever abdominal thing is going on (my gastroenterologist isn't completely convinced it's diverticulitis; colonoscopy is still two weeks away).

So a bagful of comfort treats from someone who cares really cheers the soul, too. 

I did give the graham crackers to Rebekah (they had sulfiting agents, a no-no for me). 

But she brought my favorite Saltines (brand-name, whole grain), whale cheese crackers (which don't have sunflower oil as regular goldfish do. I never heard of whale!), and two bags of "chippers" (miniature chocolate chip cookies).



As I was getting ready for a shower, Rebekah said I looked nice that night. I had worn leggings for abdominal comfort, with a long black sweater and a red shirt (red was required if we had it).

So I asked her to take a photo, and she did.

I wanted to remember her comforting words...and also that I somehow managed to look nice on the outside when the inside was not feeling as nice.

Happy Thursday!




Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Sue's Diner: Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Valentine's Day!

Rebekah stumbled across this recipe a few weeks ago and decided they would be perfect to share on Sue's Diner for Valentine's Day.

So she modified the recipe and prepared a batch, which we enjoyed last week.

The recipe for this chocolatey twist of regular cinnamon rolls is not featured in any of the BryonySeries cookbooks, including Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony," which is a permanent fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties and features all the recipes referenced in the novel Bryony

However, you can try this recipe for red velvet cinnamon rolls on the Sue's Diner page on the BryonySeries website. 

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

If you have any troubleshooting questions or comments, email us at bryonyseries@gmail.com. 


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, February 13, 2024

Happy Calkins Day

Happy Calkins Day!

The BryonySeries has an actual holiday - and today is it.

Calkins Day is a day to celebrate laughter, imagination, and generosity.

Here is why we celebrate Calkins Day.

Here is how to celebrate Calkins Day.

Who is Ed Calkins? Here is a twenty-question interview with the real Ed Calkins.

And if you'd like to celebrate in person with us tonight, please see the flyer below this photo.

Happy Tuesday - and Happy Calkins Day!




Saturday, February 10, 2024

"The Fifth" Has Arrived In Time for Calkins Day

Sometimes, life just seems to work out.

Despite a very tight editing schedule for "The Fifth," by Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara, the second book in his Ruthless series...

And despite the holidays and a health emergency (or two) thrown our way...

And despite a few cover adjustments before KDP could approve the book...

The books arrived in times for Calkins Day on Tuesday.

Please join us in celebrating laughter, imagination, and generosity from 6 to 8 p.m. on Calkins Day (Feb. 13) at The Book Market in Crest Hill.

We will have a similar format as we did for last year's Calkins Day, which means we hope to give away more books than we sell. And if you're an author (or other artist or a reader with a cause) come on out and swap a book you've written (or art piece with the same approximate value as a book) for one of Ed's books.

The only change is that Ed himself is handling refreshments and some of the marketing this year. 

Full details are on the flyer below this photo.

Happy Saturday!






Friday, February 9, 2024

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Feb. 3 to Feb. 9

Good morning!

I have nine news and features stories to share with you this week. But more will be posted over this weekend, especially with me working this weekend. So be sure to check back on The Herald-News site: shawlocal.com/the-herald-news.

I am thrilled to report that "The Fifth," the second novel by Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara, is now live on Amazon and available for purchase.

We did order copies for the 2024 Calkins Day celebration on Feb. 13. And I am happy to report they arrived late last night, hurray!

If you're new to the BryonySeries and this blog, here is a post that with links that explains Calkins Day.

Other BryonySeries book updates:

House on Top of the Hill: Third book in the BryonySeries Limbo trilogy. I now have a good working draft of the entire book and four chapters and a prologue that are ready for final edits. We are estimating a late 2024 release date.

The Adventures of Cornell Dyer: Timothy said the next book will be slightly dark ("slightly" because it's for kids, too) and will involve an old toy store. We are also working on the last book in the series (but it's not the final book, if that makes sense). Timothy is actually writing that one. We had a tentative "Cornell breakfast" scheduled for last weekend, which didn't happen. We are trying again for this weekend. We've scheduled and broke several in 2023. Our last one was July 2022. So we are LONG overdue.

Brainy Ann: The fifth book in The Girls of the BryonySeries is outlined and ready for some serious writing in 2024. The first chapter is written, hurray! Jennifer Wainwright has already started working on the cover portrait. That one is called "Brainy Ann."

Jennifer designed the cover portraits for "Julie and the Too-Hard Homework," "Katie and the Big Fear," "Summer Sisters." and "Karla Joins In," as well as the frontispiece for Lycanthropic Summer.

A Year of Shadows and Moonlight, of Gathering Blooms in the Woods: A rather unusual, poetic novella in the second person. Three-fourths of it is written and edited and another fourth is in the developmental stage. Rebekah is also playing around with art for the cover. We are estimating a mid-2024 release date.

Rebekah is also slowly updating the BryonySeries YouTube and Pinterest accounts. And she' catching up with Kindles for some of the BryonySeries books. So do watch for those.

Now back to The Herald-News stories 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 Wednesday, we post a new recipe. The recipe is either featured in one of our cookbooks, will be featured in an upcoming cookbook, or is just an "extra" we want to share with you.

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 and two ways to attend meetings. We also have a marketing arm that's getting longer every 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 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 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 haven't posted anything on Twitter/X (except a daily Bible verse) since September I can no longer schedule posts in advance. I'm not sure yet how to manage the account without that option. But you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61.

BryonySeries stuff: I used to curated content relating to the BryonySeries on Twitter/X at @BryonySeries and still post assorted related content at facebook.com/BryonySeriesyoutube.com/user/BryonySeries, and themes of each book in the BryonySeries at pinterest.com/bryonyseries.

Again, not sure yet about the direction of the BryonySeries Twitter/X account. Still mulling that over.

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.

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

Herald Angels raises record-breaking amount for Will County United Way: United Way of Will County ‘couldn’t be more thrilled’

Joliet Fire Department academy inspires youth to fire service: Matt Baxter, Joliet Fire Department: ‘They were excited, they asked a ton of questions.’

Channahon mom creates care packages for NICU babies: Kristina Lowman: ‘It grew more than I ever imagined’

Joliet’s Rialto Theatre announces 2024 movie lineup: Tickets go on sale Jan. 29.

Get your team ready for Joliet District 204 foundation’s trivia event: Mark Turk, foundation president: ‘Everyone should come’

Photos: Shorewood HUGS 14th chocolate ball

Get your Will County fish fry event in our Herald-News listing

Pets of the Week: Feb. 5, 2024: Will County rescues have dogs and cats for adoption

The Local Scene: Celebrate Black History Month at Joliet theater this weekend: Here are 5 things to do this weekend




Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage"

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Bags and Croquet

This post has sat around in my draft folder since early September...and I'm not certain why, except 2023 was an extremely challenging year for my family: lots of deaths and medical things.

These pictures are from September 9, the day after Timothy's birthday and later in the day after WriteOn Joliet's radio performance at the Joliet Public Library.

Croquet and bags have a special place in our hearts.

I remember the backyard croquet set we had (and played) when I was a child. My sister and I had a tic-tac-toe bags game in our basement playroom, too.

We had croquet when my kids were growing up. Ron and I introduced croquet to the children in our Higher Ark Youth group (it was one of the games we played at the picnic grounds during our bike hikes).

We played bags at church picnics (our church owned a set).

So Timothy, Rebekah, Daniel, Cindy, and me played croquet and bags on September 9 by choice, because we like to spend time together and because any age and any skill level can participate.

While we were playing, I received a text from one of my stepsons that his aunt had died. As I said, it was that kind of a year. We had another death in mid-October, too. 

So we are still reeling from 2023, and 2024 is already off to an uncertain and anxious start.

But it's nice to know that, in the midst of crisis and gloom, moments of joy are still possible, as three photos do show.

Happy Thursday!





Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Sue's Diner: Molten Cake

Here's a delectable recipe for a vampire-themed Valentine's Day: chocolate-cherry molten cakes.

These dark, rich molten cakes not featured in any of the BryonySeries cookbooks, including Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony," which is a permanent fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties and features all the recipes referenced in the novel Bryony

However, you can try this recipe for molten cakes on the Sue's Diner page on the BryonySeries website. 

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

If you have any troubleshooting questions or comments, email us at bryonyseries@gmail.com. 



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, February 6, 2024

For the Love of Addy

My granddaughter Addy was recently selling Girl Scout cookies, as I did as a child and as my daughter Sarah did as a child.

Now, I don't recall any actual experiences of selling Girl Scout cookies as a child. I just vaguely remember that I did.

Sarah sold Girl Scout cookies for three years in a row. Her last selling experience was quite adventurous and the type of story for another post. 

But Sarah's goal during that final year was to earn the money to attend Girl Scout camp, which she did.

She spent a week at a week at the former Camp Pokanoka in Ottawa, Illinois, where I also spent a week the year I turned eleven and where I learned to swim. She later spent a second week with just her Girl Scout troop.

Now Addy's goal was to sell one hundred boxes. To help her out, Rebekah and I bought five. Yes, in a family rife with diabetes, fatty livers, and weight issues, we bought five boxes of Girl Scout cookies. 

But Addy made her goal. That is what's most important to us. I think all people, including and maybe especially, children, should have plenty of people in their lives who love and support their efforts and help them reach their goals.

Besides, I have lots of grandchildren. And Grandmas should always have cookies on hand, correct?

Happy Tuesday!





Monday, February 5, 2024

Bertrand and Uncle Barty Come Home

"They say" there are two sides to every story. And that is true regarding the "tale" (or two "tails") I'm sharing here.

The tale is about why Uncle Barty and Bertrand the Mouse went quiet for awhile.

On December 14, Rebekah brought Bertrand the Mouse and Uncle Barty to WriteOn Joliet's Christmas party at a local restaurant, with the goal of taking their photos once the party was in full swing.

But since we were running the party, we forgot to let the crocheted mice run free. With the holidays right after that (and with me working December 23, December 24, and December 25), and with me still not feeling one hundred percent, we managed to shop and wrap gifts for the people in our family.

And that was it.

For the first time in lots of years, we forgot/ran out of time and energy to prepare a Christmas for Uncle Barty and Bertrand.

Right on the heels of Rebekah's birthday and our family Christmas (both on January 7), I was back in the hospital. I am not yet fully recovered (and feel as if I'm teetering on another relapse), so bringing out the mice almost fell off our radar.

I say "almost" because we didn't forget about them completely. We've just been a bit overwhelmed.

A week or so ago, Rebekah remembered the mice were still in her purse and returned them to me. 

OK, that's story number one. But here's what really happened.

First of all, you should know Uncle Barty is a very responsible mouse. Remember, Uncle Barty traveled all on his own from Indiana back in 2021 when Bertrand was missing.

So Uncle Barty thought, with our lives being so topsy turvy, that this was a good time for him and Bertrand to spend the holidays with their friends and return after the holidays.

But when Uncle Barty reached out in mid-January, I had just gone into the hospital. So I suggested they extend their visit, since I was unable to give them the attention they deserved.

At the end of January, Uncle Barty reached out again. I told him I was still under the weather and riding high on anxiety because of it. I assured him it was OK not to hurry home, that it was OK to stay with their friends for awhile.

But you know what? Uncle Barty is not only responsible, he is unselfish. And little Bertrand may be immature. But he is not selfish either.

Quite frankly, they missed hanging out with me, whether or not I had the energy to pay attention to them and catch their antics with my camera to post on social media.

So last night, while I was finishing some neglected BryonySeries projects, I heard a knock at the front door. I opened it and no one was there. 

Or so I thought. Until I looked down.

There stood Bertrand the Mouse and Uncle Barty with their suitcases.

They were homesick.

They missed us.

They didn't care we forgot about buying Christmas presents for them. They didn't care about presents. They cared about us.

And so, they came back anyway. 

I'm glad they did. I didn't realize how much I missed them until they returned.

So that's story number two.

Which one do you believe?

At any rate, they were wrong about the presents. Rebekah and I did, in fact, did buy three new mice books for them when we were out Christmas shopping. Our intention was certainly to buy the mice more gifts. They were very happy to receive the books (as their excited squeaks revealed).

And so, last night...


...they happily climbed into bed, their own bed (which they share with Faith and me), snuggled under the blankets, and read their new books until they fell fast asleep.







Friday, February 2, 2024

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Jan.27 to Feb. 2

Good morning!

I have ten news and features stories to share with you this week. But more will be posted over this weekend, especially with me working this weekend. So be sure to check back on The Herald-News site: shawlocal.com/the-herald-news.

I am thrilled to report that "The Fifth," the second novel by Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara, is now live on Amazon and available for purchase.

We did order copies for the 2024 Calkins Day celebration on Feb. 13. And we're hoping they will arrive in time. Please hope with us!

If you're new to the BryonySeries and this blog, here is a post that with links that explains Calkins Day.

Other BryonySeries book updates:

House on Top of the Hill: Third book in the BryonySeries Limbo trilogy. I now have a good working draft of the entire book and four chapters and a prologue that are ready for final edits. We are estimating a late 2024 release date.

The Adventures of Cornell Dyer: Timothy said the next book will be slightly dark ("slightly" because it's for kids, too) and will involve an old toy store. We are also working on the last book in the series (but it's not the final book, if that makes sense). Timothy is actually writing that one. We had a tentative "Cornell breakfast" scheduled for last weekend, which didn't happen. We are trying again for next weekend. We've scheduled and broke several in 2023. Our last one was July 2022. So we are LONG overdue.

Brainy Ann: The fifth book in The Girls of the BryonySeries is outlined and ready for some serious writing in 2024. I wrote one chapter this past weekend and hope for a second this weekend. Jennifer Wainwright has already started working on the cover portrait. That one is called "Brainy Ann."

Jennifer designed the cover portraits for "Julie and the Too-Hard Homework," "Katie and the Big Fear," "Summer Sisters." and "Karla Joins In," as well as the frontispiece for Lycanthropic Summer.

A Year of Shadows and Moonlight, of Gathering Blooms in the Woods: A rather unusual, poetic novella in the second person. Three-fourths of it is written and edited and another fourth is in the developmental stage. Rebekah is also playing around with art for the cover. We are estimating a mid-2024 release date.

Rebekah is also slowly updating the BryonySeries YouTube and Pinterest accounts. And she' catching up with Kindles for some of the BryonySeries books. So do watch for those.

Now back to The Herald-News stories 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 Wednesday, we post a new recipe. The recipe is either featured in one of our cookbooks, will be featured in an upcoming cookbook, or is just an "extra" we want to share with you.

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 and two ways to attend meetings. We also have a marketing arm that's getting longer every 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 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 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 haven't posted anything on Twitter/X (except a daily Bible verse) since September I can no longer schedule posts in advance. I'm not sure yet how to manage the account without that option. But you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61.

BryonySeries stuff: I used to curated content relating to the BryonySeries on Twitter/X at @BryonySeries and still post assorted related content at facebook.com/BryonySeriesyoutube.com/user/BryonySeries, and themes of each book in the BryonySeries at pinterest.com/bryonyseries.

Again, not sure yet about the direction of the BryonySeries Twitter/X account. Still mulling that over.

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.

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

‘A place I need to be’ says Joliet MorningStar Mission’s new development director: Erin Shade, MorningStar Mission: ‘You can’t thank enough times’

Joliet Zonta honoring Amirrah Abou-Youssef at Mardi Gras fundraiser: Pat Perrier of Joliet Zonta: ‘She has done some extraordinary work’

Channahon mom creates care packages for NICU babies: Kristina Lowman: ‘It grew more than I ever imagined’

Shorewood custom T-shirt company Big Frog celebrates 10years: Gail Girard, owner: ‘Along the way, I have met some absolutely wonderful people’

Joliet Rialto announces movie lineup for 2024: Tickets go on sale Jan. 29

Silver Cross New Lenox gets a No.1 ranking for surgical care: Healthgrades evaluates hospitals solely on patient outcomes

Companions sought for homebound seniors in Will, Grundy counties: Volunteers provide companionship only

Joliet District 204 to host 8th grade information night Wednesday: Resources tables with school and community information also will be available.

Pets of the Week: Jan. 29, 2024: Will County rescues have dogs and cats for adoption

The Local Scene: Will County Stamp Show: Here are 5 things to do this weekend



Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage"