Thursday, December 2, 2021

Books and Bombs

If you come out to WriteOn Joliet's fifth anthology release party on Dec. 9 at the Black Road branch of the Joliet Public Library, be sure to stop by the BryonySeries table and check out our books, a "Books and Bombs" special offer, and opportunities to win some books.

You want details about these, right? Sure you do!

And here we go!






Books and Bombs:

Every person who buys one (or more) of these combinations will receive a free, locally chef-made chocolate bomb per combination - while chocolate bombs last.

Chocolate bombs are not limited to one per customer. But for each additional bomb, you must still purchase one of these four combinations.

1) One "regular" young adult or adult BryonySeries book (choices include any book in the "drop of blood" trilogy, Lycanthropic Summer, The Phoenix, Ruthless by Ed Calkins Steward of Tara or any of the Before the Blood books) or Nine Months of Kindness.

2) Any two books in The Adventures of Cornell Dyer series.

3) Any three books in the Bertrand the Mouse series.

4) All three of our BryonySeries cookbooks.

To check out our books, visit bryonyseries.com/general-store.

Bertrand the Mouse giveaway

We will "give away" one complete set of all Bertrand the Mouse books published (to date) AND one hand-crocheted Bertrand the Mouse to one lucky person to take home for keeps.

NO purchase is necessary. Just drop your name and contact information in our Bertrand Box. 

A random person (not anyone from our team) will select the winner at the end of the event and leave the prize package at the library's circulation desk for the winner to pick up at his/her convenience.


Holiday "Visage" Giveaway

This BryonySeries book is the second book in the "drop of blood" trilogy and can be read as a standalone.

The book is out of print and only available from us.

It has some "extras" in the back of the book that are not in the official version (such as a picture of me in a kangaroo suit).

The cover is very different.

And it has an introduction by me celebrating artists and creative folk. This is the first and only BryonySeries book that has an introduction.

We will be giving away three of these. Again, NO purchase is necessary. You only need to drop your name into the "Visage" box.

A random person (not anyone from our team) will select the three winners at the end of the event and leave the prize package at the library's circulation desk for the winner to pick up at his/her convenience.



WriteOn Joliet's Fifth Anthology

And, of course, we will have plenty of anthologies (the 2021 anthology and a limited number of past anthologies) available for sale - along with the opportunity to meet many of the writers who contributed to these wonderful books of poems, essays, and short stories.

The anthology is a fundraiser for WriteOn Joliet, so all money stays with the group to support additional programs.



But I live too far away....

For anyone near or far who cannot attend the actual event:

You may purchase the anthology here.

And message me at bryonyseries@gmail.com if you're interested in some of the BryonySeries books.

I will reward your reading of this post by working out a special discount just for you.

For those planning to attend:

The event is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Joliet Public Library, 3393 Black Road, Joliet.

Great food and drink (including coffee) is available for purchase at the Book and Bean Cafe, which is located inside the library.

ALL purchases of ALL books by ALL authors will be handled at The Book Market's checkout table.

After nearly two years of pandemic living, I'm looking foward to meeting you in person.

Invite your family. 

Invite your friends. 

Invite your neighbors. 

Invite anyone who likes books and great coffee.

For more information, bryonyseries.com, writeonjoliet.com, jolietlibrary.org, and bookmarketjoliet.com.












Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Sue's Diner: Yorkshire Raised Biscuits

The weeks' recipe for Yorkshire Raised Biscuits is adapted from Miss Beecher’s domestic receiptbook: designed as a supplement to her Treatise on domestic economy,

This recipe is also featured 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.

Moreoever, this recipe is also quintessential Victorian. Meaning, some of the ingredients used and the directions for making these biscuits is vague and non-specific. So have fun!

This recipe is referenced in the novel BryonyHere is the explanation from the cookbook:

It was at the Harrington’s ball that Melissa met Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara, for the very first time. The Yorkshire Raised Biscuits is one of the food items Melissa choked down while the Steward explained his ruthless dictatorship.

You can try the recipe for Yorkshire Raised Biscuits 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.

Monday, November 29, 2021

What a Real Family Thanksgiving Looks Like

Memory is a magician. Did you know that?

With perspective in one hand and the passage of time in the other, memory fools us into thinking that our past family holidays and get-togethers look like a Norman Rockwell piece of art.

When they don't - and the pressure is real because postings on social media imply everyone else is having that type of holiday - our spirits can sink lower than an elephant in quicksand.

I feel like any time you herd a bunch of relatives into one room, they'll butt heads as often as they rub shoulders. Add a heaping seasoning of real life to the occasion, and you can end up with scorched feelings, even if the food turns out perfectly and the decor is magazine-worthy.

We wisely choose to forget the negative parts as the special day passes. But we should try to remember them in real time so our expectations are realistic.

So...

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of love, joy, peace, and good food.

But let me tell you what was happening in the background.



One adult child had surgical extraction at a major medical university of all the teeth in his mouth one week before Thanksgiving.

My father now has Alzheimer's, and Ron has been in a nursing home with dementia for the last few years.

Two adult children are going through either a separation or divorce and both situations are challenging.

Two relatives (an in-law and step-grandson) had COVID over Thanksgiving, which nixed any carefully curated plans those members of the family had made.

One adult child is struggling with depression.

We have several relatives on the autism spectrum.

Many are struggling with finances.

More than a few greeted Thanksgiving Day overworked and underslept, so tempers flared here and there and now and then.

We dined only with immediate family because it's still COVID - although our natural inclination in a pre-pandemic world is to cook a bunch of food and host a bunch of people in a open-house fashion.

We also ordered five dinners from an expensive restaurant to send to a single parent family in our family - and the food was not as good as anticipated.

Quick side story.

Years ago, when my family was throwing newspapers, I occasionally hired the teen son of some acquaintances. My kids had lots of inserts to assemble for their paying customers, so this son helped with throwing and porching papers.



On the day before Thanksgiving, I had said son with me and I asked him what he was "thankful for" this year.

He said, "My family, my friends, and my church - because without God, I don't know where I'd be."

The next day, he helped me again with one of my routes. Except on this day, he was pretty shaken up. He did not know his family was having money problems. And when he woke up to leave for the route, the family vehicle was gone. It had been repossessed.

So I reminded him what he was "thankful for" this year. And I further reminded him that one of those items was not the family car.

In fact, everything this young man treasured, he still had on that Thanksgiving Day. And he could rejoice and be glad in that.

Now I understand some of us had to stretch this year to rejoice and be glad. We may have lost loved ones to COVID, cancer, or family rifts. We may have lost our homes, our jobs, our health, a good friend.

But in every hour, in every minute, we can find a blessing.

If you spent Thanksgiving alone, perhaps you're blessed with support on social media.

Or perhaps you're meant to reach out to someone who is lonelier than you are. Because that person does exist.

So maybe, if you can't find a blessing, your job is to make one. There's an old saying: "It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

Back to our house.

We were so busy cooking, we forgot to take photos. So I don't have any to share.

We didn't take any photos of us sitting around the table because an argument broke out at at the start of dinner. That dinner photo at the top of this post? That's from last year.

We didn't take any photos of us sitting around the table playing games bcause an argument broke out at the start of the first game.

OK.

Those things do happen.

Those things did pass.

I can tell you that, for most of the day, we rested a lot, ate a lot of wonder homemade food, connected with loved ones, and laughed for hours, way, way, way past midnight.

That's midnight, the hour, not the cat. Sorry Midnight.



And when next Thanksgiving rolls around again, the love, the laughter, the food prepared with love and laughter (we didn't laugh at it, we laughed with each other as we prepared), the peace, the relaxation - those are the parts that we will remember and treasure.

As we should.

The rest?

Address it, in love, if it's a real issue.

If it's not, let it go...












Friday, November 26, 2021

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Nov. 20 through Nov. 26

Good morning!

I have just fourteen features stories to share with you today and quite a bit more that will be posted over the weekend (I'm working through the weekend), so do watch for them.

Is anyone else still feeling full today - full of good food and full of blessings and gratitude? I hope the answer is "yes" for us all.

Now before I share a recap/update on my BryonySeries projects, I'd like to share one upcoming event.

WriteOn Joliet will host its annual anthology release party in person this year but not at The Book Market in Crest Hill, our usual location.

We will host it at the Joliet Public Library, another one of the group's community partners, which has more open space for social distance.

However, Janet Staley, the owner of The Book Market, will be there, handling checkout.

You see, Jan always receives a portion of our sales, our gift to her for asking her to keep her store open after-hours on a Friday night once a year. It also frees up WriteOn Joliet-ers from handling purchases and collecting tax, giving them more time to interact with attendees.

It's also Jan's first-ever remote event, and she is very excited.

One other change for this year is that my chef son Timothy won't be creating free, upcscale refreshments. Tammy Duckworth, owner of the Book and Bean Cafe inside the library, will also stay open after hours (she's been closing early since the pandemic) to make refreshments available for purchase.

Tammy, too, is excited to help us out. This will be our first WriteOn Joliet event that involves her cafe since our last open mic event (which we held on Calkins Day) a month before the shutdown on 2020.

But some features will never change.

We will still have our fifth anthology for sale, which is a fundraiser for the group. So not only do you get to buy and read some wonderful, original pieces by local authors, you will also support programs that improve their craft.

Past anthologies will also be available for purchase. 

In addition, you'll have the opportunity to meet individual WriteOn Joliet-ers who have published, buy their individual books, have them personally signed to you or another, ask them questions, praise their works, and do some general mingling and chatting over wonderful food and drink from the Book and Bean Cafe.

Finally, be sure to stop at the BryonySeries table. We are offering a special gift with certain book purchases and a couple of cool raffles, too.

All of this will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Joliet Public Library, 3395 Black Road in Joliet. We sincerely hope to see you there.

Even if you own all our books - please stop, buy a drink, and celebrate with us.

Even if you don't like to read - please stop by, buy a drink, and celebrate with us.

And now, an update on my fiction projects.

I am currently re-reading my scribbled first draft for Call of the Siren (the second book in the BryonySeries Limbo trilogy) and starting to color in the lines. I'm anticipating a late spring publication date, but progress is slow, so we shall see. 

Barring the unforeseen, we do plan to publish the book in 2022. Rebekah already has the cover ready to go.

Sue Midlock has completed the art for Cornell Dyer and the "Mistical Being" (cover looks great, by the way) and I'm hoping she can begin art soon for Cornell Dyer and the Calcium Deficient Bones. 

Timothy has also scheduled (and canceled) a couple of "Cornell" breakfasts to start working on the next book, a Sherlock Holmes parody (the main character is Sherman Homes) as life has gotten in the way for us. But we will get to it soon.

Sarah also 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

Jennifer Wainright (frontispiece artist for Lycanthropic Summer) has completed two portraits for  "Girls of the BryonySeries" series for tween girls and is currently working on a third. The portraits are beautiful and it shows that artist Jennifer Wainright can draw anything from werewolves to portraits! 

And Rebekah Baran is working on cover art for two of "Girls of the BryonySeries" books. They are beautiful!

I currently have one book in the series completed, and I am working on the second, which I'll revisit this weekend when I'm off work. The rest of the books are outlined. The goal is to have three of the eight done before I release any of them.

Now back to the fourteen 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.

Will County’s ‘unprecedented need’ for services in 2020 isn’t much better in 2021: Donating to the Herald-Angels campaign will help decrease that need.

Evidence of prehistoric life found at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie: Archeologists identified prehistoric remnants Oct. 22

Joliet Noon Lions Candy Day was a success: Supporters donated more than money, people in need will benefit

Lockport student earns a perfect score on AP exam: Sophia Marcial received maximum score on each portion of the Spanish Language and Culture exam in May 2021 

Troy 4th graders making holidays brighter for the troops: Student ambassadors collected donations, wrote letters, drew pictures

Morris Hospital giving away free wigs to cancer patients with hair loss: Make an appointment for a free one-on-one consultation

JJC culinary purchasing specialist ‘talking turkey’ to callers this holiday season: Javier Reyes one of the experts on Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line 

Helping people with disabilities is as easy as sipping tea and arranging flowers: The virtual Winter Holly & Evergreen Tea benefits Center for Disability Services in Joliet 

Mystery Diner in Joliet: MOOYAH is the place for homemade taste, hand-cut fries and overall great experience: Website for its burgers, fries and shakes fun to visit too

5 Things to do in Will County: Welcome the holiday season with tree lightings: And work off that turkey dinner on Saturday morning at a volunteer work day for the forest preserve 

Baran-Unland: Snuff out this holiday tradition for goodCandles are pretty and they smell good. They also cause deadly fires. 

Joliet’s Holly Club to hold 1st in-person ball since 2019: Deadline to purchase tickets is Nov. 29




Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage."

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Coffee Blessing

Last Friday was really hard.

I woke up at 3:45 a.m. for the 5amwritersclub meeting (which begins at 4 a.m. for me due to my geographical location in the world).

Now that's not a superhuman feat, but the last few weeks have been uncommonly grueling for multiple, unrelated reasons.

So, you know, life - and plenty back-to-back of it.

On Thursday, our Keurig broke. So on Thursday night, I walked next door to Timothy's house and made a cup of coffee to get me through the meeting. He sent it home in a gray carryout cup instead of the coffee mug I brought for a less messy transport.

Mid-morning on Friday I went back over and made a second cup in the St. Dennis cup. This cup was a "thank you" gift from the elementary school in Lockport for participating in its career fair a couple of pre-COVID years ago, so it has good memories for me.

Then Rebekah surprised me with the Dunkin' (she had ordered tea for herself and more coffee for me).

And then Jasmine stopped at the house after lunch with the Gloria Jean.

Yes, I drank them up and in.

I drank up the coffee.

I drank in the love and support.

When is coffee not just coffee?

Well, now you know.





Monday, November 22, 2021

Sue's Diner: Easy Trifle

Each week for the last couple of weeks, I've featured one selected recipe from the Thanksgiving menu that's featured 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.

All of these recipes are referenced in the novel BryonyThe complete menu is found in the cookbook.

Here is the explanation from the cookbook:

For the Marchellis’ first Thanksgiving in Munsonville, Melissa’s little brother Brian shows off the depth of his newly acquired culinary skills, under the direction of his mentor, Steve Barnes, the village maintenance man.

This week, I'm featuring the trifle recipe that Melissa and Brian's mother prepared. The recipe is actually my own mother's, and she often served it for Thanksgiving and other festive dinners. It is pictured in the back of this photo of the right.

In fact, everything in this photo is featured in Memories in the Kitchen: the turkey, the cornbread, the roasted root vegetables (hiding next to the cornbread behind the turkey), the salad dressing and the pumpkin roll.

Now, you won't be able to receive a print copy before Thanksgiving (unless you live near me, and you arrange for pickup), but you can download a Kindle version now.

You can try the easy trifle recipe on the Sue's Diner page on the BryonySeries website. Proceeds from the Kindle version also benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties.

But try the recipe this week. It will be gone some time next week. A new non-Thanksgiving 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.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

I Went to Give Support...

 ...and left feeling empowered.

I'm talking about two back-to-back events last Saturday.

First was the wake of Nancy Calkins' sister, who died rather suddenly following a challenging illness. Nancy's sister Harriet was also the sister-in-law of Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara.

Nancy had texted me all of the service information, along with some photos. Ed was not aware Nancy did this, so he was very surprised and thoroughly delighted to see Timothy and me at the funeral home.

Then to my surprise, a humbly sort of surprise I really cannot describe, Ed told me every person in the room knew who I was, even though they would not recognize me on sight.

Ed then proceeded to introduce me to a few key people as "his publisher."

His publisher

I'm still trying to let that one sink in.

True, I publish my fiction and now his fiction (here and here), but I don't see myself as his publisher. But I'm really honored that he values my small role in helping to share his stories, which are hilarious.

Then shortly after I returned home, I attended a virtual reunion for people who attended the #5amwritersclub weekend writer's retreat this past year.

Most of the people on the call attended the September retreat (I was at the April event), but it was nice to meet some other talented writers who are part of this amazing group.

One of the writers from the April retreat called us all "scribes" - which sounds way cooler than "writer."

Although Twitter group has a bit of a history, author Ralph Walker really seized the reins and developed it during the pandemic. He also has plans for further expansion in 2022, and I'm super excited. I'm blessed to have discovered this group and look forward to growing my skills and circle of writer friends.

If you're a writer and want more information, email him at RWalker12813@gmail.com and please let him know I sent you.




Friday, November 19, 2021

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Nov. 13 through Nov. 19

Good morning!

I have just twelve features stories to share with you today and more that will be posted over the weekend (I'm working through the weekend), so do watch for them.

Now for a recap/update on my BryonySeries projects. Although, honestly, I probably won't get much done on the fiction front until next weekend, due to my work schedule and the holidays.

I am currently re-reading my scribbled first draft for Call of the Siren (the second book in the BryonySeries Limbo trilogy) and starting to color in the lines. I'm anticipating a late spring publication date, but progress is slow, so we shall see. 

Barring the unforeseen, we do plan to publish the book in 2022.

Sue Midlock has completed the art for Cornell Dyer and the "Mistical Being" (cover looks great, by the way) and I'm hoping she can begin art soon for Cornell Dyer and the Calcium Deficient Bones. 

Timothy has also scheduled (and canceled) a couple of "Cornell" breakfasts to start working on the next book, a Sherlock Holmes parody (the main character is Sherman Homes) as life has gotten in the way for us. But we will get to it soon.

Sarah also 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

Jennifer Wainright (frontispiece artist for Lycanthropic Summer) has completed two portraits for  "Girls of the BryonySeries" series for tween girls and is currently working on a third. The portraits are beautiful and it shows that artist Jennifer Wainright can draw anything from werewolves to portraits! 

I current have one book in the series completed, and I am working on the second, which I'll revisit this weekend when I'm off work. The goal is to have three of the eight done before I release any of them.

Now back to the twelve 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

Morris Hospital hosting pediatric vaccine clinics in November: Children receiving vaccine must be accompanied by adult, registration is required

Troy school district collaborates with mental health navigator: District 202 in Plainfield, Valley ViewSD 365 U began offering mental health resources earlier this year

An Extraordinary Life: Joliet nurse championed neuroscience, cared for people 24/7: Ghaly: ‘She should be in the history books for all nursing students

2 Latino groups donate 10,000 to Latino student scholarships: Long-term goals include the concept of investments

Can’t pay rent, mortage or utilities? This grant might help: Funding is available through Will County COMEBACK grants

New Lenox church continues tradition of free Thanksgiving dinner to the community: Must reserve dinner by Nov. 18

Pets of the Week: Nov. 15: Will County rescues have dogs and cats for adoption

McDonald’s gave away turkeys and trimmings Monday in Joliet: Northern Illinois Food Bank and Bimbo Bakeries USA also partnered with Thanksgiving giveaway

Struggling with addictions or behaviorial health? Find joy this holiday season: Attend 1 or more Sober Holiday virtual support sessions in November and December. 

Plainfield family becomes advocates of pediatric cancer care: Support helped them cope with daughter’s diagnosis and family passed along the blessings

5 Things to do in Will County: Get back to nature and get ready for the holidays: Enjoy art, Singo Bingo, milestone market, nature hikes and holiday concert

Joliet motorcyclist is optimistic about his ‘new normal’ following devastating accident: Tim Flannery: It’s ‘just a new turn in the road’




Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage"

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Back to the Books: Elson-Gray Basic Readers Book Four

I first encountered this book on the bookcase of my childhood home. 

It was my father's fourth grade reader, and I read it cover to cover hundreds of times, starting when I was about eight or nine years old. 

I used it as reader with my six children when we home-schooled. And when, no lie, I saw this book sitting on an empty shelf after friends moved into a new home (the previous owners had left it behind), I expressed my delight and was gifted with it on the spot.

So I gave my father's copy to my sister.




What makes this book especially remarkable is that all its wonderful stories and illustrations are written and depicted in ways that children could understand and enjoy without feeling the silent condescension of adults.

From this book, I learned about animal behavior (such as a partridge pretending to be lame to lead enemies away from her young) and I learned about mythology and mythological characters, and I learned about Scrooge.

I also read poems, plays, stories about children in other lands. Some of these stories might sound racist today. But they formed a foundation for my love for other cultures, so I wouldn't discount them.

This book also introduced me to classic stories of Beowolf, Sigurd, and Song of Roland, stories which sparked an interest in great literature that remains to this day.

I liked Roland the best. Perhaps some of that liking is due to the fact that my father had a first cousin named Roland, Dr. Roland Foraste, a child psychiatrist, who died in a car accident in 2000.

While writing this blog and searching for Roland's obituary to add as a backlink, I learned he was a friend of Ethel Kennedy's brother and quoted in this story (scroll to page two).

I only met Roland once (the summer of 1986), and I thought he looked like Fred Gwynne; he certainly had his height and facial shape.

I could not find a photo of him online. But I found one of his brother Roger, who really doesn't resemble Roland.

OK, that was quite a digression. But a fascinating one, you have to admit. I just found out one of my cousins was friends with the brother of Ethel Kennedy. Seriously.

Anyway, because it's really too hard to summarize such a book and the impact it's made on my family and me, I've included photos of its table of contents and some of the wonderful artwork, so you can get a glimpse for yourself.

Needless to say, "they" don't make books like this anymore.































Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Sue's Diner: Pumpkin Roll

Each week for the next couple of weeks, I'm planning to feature one selected recipe from the Thanksgiving menu that's featured 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.

All of these recipes are referenced in the novel BryonyThe complete menu is found in the cookbook.

Here is the explanation from the cookbook:

For the Marchellis’ first Thanksgiving in Munsonville, Melissa’s little brother Brian shows off the depth of his newly acquired culinary skills, under the direction of his mentor, Steve Barnes, the village maintenance man.

You can try the pumpkin roll recipe, which is Sarah's 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 from the BryonySeries Thanksgiving menu 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.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Explaining the Orthodox Christmas Fast to Children

Up until a few years ago, my family belonged to an Orthodox church that had never been large in membership and whose numbers were steadily declining.

My husband and I created a religious education for the handful of youth (which actually grew in number during this time). We also created space for a youth group by remodeling buildings on our property and adding an additional one.

We also planned a number of programs to engage them (and us!) in the liturgical life of the Eastern church.

One of those programs was an annual retreat shortly before the start of the Nativity fast. Most people know this season before Christmas as Advent, except that, in the Eastern Christian church, Advent begins on November 15.

The retreat consisted of activities, lunch, plenty of conversation, and a workbook that I wrote. Yes, if I couldn't find the materials I wanted, I wrote my own.

Below is the introduction to one of those workbooks, this one from 2006. The attempt was to explain eternal truths in a way that children and adults could both grasp.

I'm sharing it today because it's the first day of Advent in the Orthodox church but, more importantly, I'm sharing it today because maybe you, the reader, may find something of value in it - a word, a phrase - that deepens the Christmas season for you this year.

The Orthodox church, in its wisdom, gives us a few weeks to prepare our bodies, minds and hearts to receive the gift of salvation that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ offers to us. The Nativity (Christmas) fast begins on Nov. 15. It is also sometimes called St. Philip’s Fast, because Nov. 15 is the feast day of St. Philip.

 In a traditional Orthodox fast, people do not eat any milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, sour cream, eggs, meat or olive oil until Christmas. But for many of us, this will be impossible. We should try to give up at least one of these foods until then. Either way, we try to eat less, so we can feel hungry. This will remind us that we need God in our lives. But we can also do some other things too to prepare for Jesus’ birth.

 We should go to Holy Confession at least once during the fast and try to fast from sin. What kinds of things are sin?

 We can also try to cut down on the things that amuse us—movies, video and computer games, CDs and ipod, talking on the telephone—and replace that time with reading the Bible or other books about Jesus (see our church library) and doing do things for other people.

 What other kinds of things can we do?

 Why is this preparation necessary? Have you ever had a birthday party? Supposing you had been playing outside all day. Perhaps you might want to take a shower and put on some clean clothes before the party.

 Well, that is kind of what the Nativity fast is like. By sinning, we have been playing in dirt. But now we are preparing to receive a gift greater then the best birthday present, Jesus Christ, who takes the punishment for our sins and restores us in image and likeness of God.

 There is another reason why we prepare. Remember how when Mary was about to give birth to Jesus she and Joseph had trouble finding somewhere to stay? Remember what they were told?

 If we compare our hearts and minds to an inn, then we can understand how important it is to make room in our lives—our inn—to let Jesus come into it.

 What a beautiful miracle Jesus’ birth is. Let’s think about this. He who created the whole world is born as a helpless baby. He, who holds the entire universe in the palm of His hand, was held in the arms of his mother Mary.

 The Nativity of Jesus Christ—Christmas—is not just about God coming down to us, but us rising up to Him.

 Sin makes us dead to God. The more we sin, the less we want to pray, go to church and read about God. Without God, we are dead inside because we are not the people he created us to be.

 It is only with God that we can ever live a full life. When a baby is born, the doctor gives it a little slap to make it cry, to force air into its lungs. If this doesn’t happen, the baby will not live.

Christmas, for us, is like this. Some wise person once said that people took their first real, deep breath when the baby Jesus cried His first cry.

 Because only then could life in God happen. “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10.




 

 


Friday, November 12, 2021

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Nov. 6 through Nov. 12

Good morning!

I have twenty-two features stories to share with you today and few more that will be posted over the weekend, so do watch for them.

Speaking of stories, I've had a bit of change in work duties this past week.

Four years ago, I was asked to write a weekly events newsletter for The Herald-News. Most likely unbeknownst to area libraries )unless they subscribed to this newsletter), I dedicated one newsletter each month to highlight upcoming free events at all libraries in Will County - one event per library.

And because I was receiving so many requests for feature stories from local authors (while Herald-News print space was simulaneously shrinking), I pitched a second newsletter so I could share short stories from authors and review their books.

That newsletter was called LocalLit, and I was especially proud of this newsletter. I felt it was a unique offering, especially for a daily community newspaper.

For me, it was also a wonderful opportunity to read one book each week from a local author I may not have otherwise read - and to share my thoughts about the book with readers in terms of, not just what I thought about it, but also the type of reader who might enjoy reading it.

A few days ago, I was asked to let both newsletters go in favor or writing more features stories, especially since I am known for in-depth, longform stories about people in the community.

So will I still read books by local authors? Of course. 

In fact, I can finally tackle a very long series by this local author I've always wanted to read. I'm halfway through the first book and probably have thirty or more to go.

For all of you who subscribed to the newsletters, especially LocalLit, which was more robust in subscribers than I ever imagined it would/could be, thank you. 

May you continue to seek out and read books by local authors, not because they're locally written, but to discover some really terrific stories that often get unnoticed.

And for those of you who subscribed to the Will County Go Guide (later named in 2020: the Will County Inside/Outside Guide), please continue to patronize your local library. 

Now for a recap/update on my BryonySeries projects:

I am currently re-reading my scribbled first draft for Call of the Siren (the second book in the BryonySeries Limbo trilogy) and starting to color in the lines. I'm anticipating a late spring publication date, but progress is slow, so we shall see. 

Barring the unforeseen, we do plan to publish the book in 2022.

Sue Midlock has completed the art for Cornell Dyer and the "Mistical Being" (cover looks great, by the way) and I'm hoping she can begin art soon for Cornell Dyer and the Calcium Deficient Bones. 

Timothy has also scheduled (and canceled) a couple of "Cornell" breakfasts to start working on the next book, a Sherlock Holmes parody (the main character is Sherman Homes) as life has gotten in the way for us. But we will get to it soon.

Sarah also 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

Jennifer Wainright (frontispiece artist for Lycanthropic Summer) has completed two portraits for  "Girls of the BryonySeries" series for tween girls and is currently working on a third. The portraits are beautiful and it shows that artist Jennifer Wainright can draw anything from werewolves to portraits! 

I current have one book in the series completed, and I am working on the second, which I'll revisit this weekend when I'm off work. The goal is to have three of the eight done before I release any of them.

Now back to the twenty-two 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

After 55 years of steady service, Troy bus driver Barb Gray is ready to retire: Baumann: ‘That’s a lifetime of dedication. In a service industry, that’s pretty amazing.’

LocalLit book preview: In-depth, pictorial look at Ottawa’s tent colony for TB patients: The year was 1904 and antibiotics were not yet developed

And the very last LocalLit book review is here.

2021 YMCA Gala nets more than $205,000: Funds will benefit Y’s Mission Strong Fund

7 students in D-86 in Joliet perform in LMEA music festival: The festival takes place at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox 

An Extraordinary Life: Virginia Fleming took a culinologist approach to life: Former New Lenox resident understood the components of a good life and applied them well

Pets of the Week: Nov. 8: Will County rescues have dogs and cats for adoption

Lockport man runs 11 5k races in 11 days: Virtual races were part of the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Harvest Hustle program 

Grundy Bank donates $250,000 to Morris Community YMCA: Gift will fund the Y’s Capital Campaign and support the The GrundyBank/Ron Wohlwend Childhood Development Fund 

New Habitat for Humanity home will honor memory of Romeoville veteran: The construction is one of several events for Veterans Build 2021

Frankfort farm that serves people with special needs receives $4,000 donation: On Nov. 4, 100+ Women Who Care of Will County donated $4,000 to Navarro Farm.

Morris Hospital nurse gives patient’s puppy a temporary home: Rambo: ‘She just offered to take him home and take care of him until I was able to get him’

Veterans: Get your seasonal flu shot this Wednesday in Channahon: The Edward Hines Jr. VAMC Outreach Team will be at village hall

Silver Cross Hospital earns 14th straight ‘A’ Hospital Safety Grade by The Leapfrog Group: And that’s not the only patient safety recognition Silver Cross has earned in 2021 

5 brothers from a single Joliet family served in World War II at the same time: A handful of laminated Herald-News clippings tell their story

New Lenox native to perform trumpet concerto with CYSO on Sunday – and it was written just for her: Mary Elizabeth Bowden will also recive CYSO 2021 Alumni Award at the concert 

5 Things to do in Will County: Music, military history, craft shows, autumn walk: And ‘Haphazardly Ever After’ is a comedy about ‘four obnoxious, bratty, adult children who do not live up to their royal titles’

Silver Cross Foundation appoints 2 new members: Dr. Mark Danielson and Nick Tyrell join the foundation’s board of directors

Veterans Day observances in Will and Grundy counties: Here’s how to honor veterans in a formal way

Why all the breakthrough COVID cases at Edward Hospital?: Numbers don’t tell the entire story at Naperville hospital 

Morris Hospital earns 7th straight ‘A’ Hospital Safety Grade by The Leapfrog Group: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also recognized Morris Hospital in 2021

Help a Joliet hospice by baking holiday cookies: Register for “Baking Memories” virtual cooking demo fundraiser by Nov. 22 

And finally:

He was diagnosed 11 months ago, I wrote his story in June, and he died Monday.

Prayers/thoughts for his family.

He’s just 6 but he’s already an honorary police officer and a superhero: Supporters planning car show in honor of Channahon boy battling cancer




Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage."

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Back to the Books: Honey Bunch, Just a Little Girl

Last week my WriteOn Joliet co-leader Tom Hernandez commented that I "breathe a different air."

Being asthmatic, I'm happy for any air, but he does make a point.

I think it's true that "we are what we read" in some part, at least.

In my sixty years of living, I've read many books that most of the people I encounter have never read and, in many cases, didn't even know they existed.

Yes, I am going to tell you about all of them, one blog post at a time.

The first one is called Honey Bunch, Just a Little Girl, by Helen Louise Thorndyke. I  always assumed belong to my mother at one point, or perhaps someone in her family, although now I'm not certain she ever read it.

It was published in 1923, and my mother was born in 1935. Now it could have belonged to father's mother (we had some of her books, too), but the date is wrong for that.

But Honey Bunch, Just a Little Girl was one of the books that sat on the bookcase in the hall between the room where my sister and I slept and the room where my parents slept.

And it was one of the books I picked off the shelf one a day I was either not allowed to go outside (my mother, I later learned, had agoraphobia) or was not able to go outside due to my asthma.

Helen Louise Thorndyke was a pseudonym used by several authors for this series. The Honey Bunch books (thirty-four books in the original series with extras and reboots in later years) were part of a series of books for children by the Stratemeyer Syndicate.

You might not know what the Stratemeyer Syndicate was, but you will be familiar with many of the book series it produced, including Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.

For more information on the Stratemeyer Syndicate, go here. 

"Just a Little Girl" was the first book in the series, and I had really enjoyed it. It left on a cliffhanger, of sorts, to encourage readers to pick up the next book. 

Of course, I never did find any of the other titles, and I don't know what happened to my mother's copy; I haven't read it in fifty years.

But now I can.

All of the original series are now digitalized through the Illinois Open Publishing Network (IOPN), "a set of digital publishing initiatives that are hosted and coordinated at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, according to its website.

Here are two different ways you can read this book. The first link will also send you to subsequent books.

https://iopn.library.illinois.edu/scalar/thesweetpublicdomain/toc-just-a-girl

https://iopn.library.illinois.edu/scalar/thesweetpublicdomain/media/honey-bunch-just-a-little-girl-pdf

If you love reading about life back in the day, here is a "real time" version of it. One part that has stuck in my head all these years was the way Honey Bunch celebrated her fifth birthday (it sounded so exciting to me) and how she nearly suffocated when the "coal man" paid his annual visit.

You see, Honey Bunch felt the gleaming coal was so pretty, so she jumped into the pile in the coal cellar. The coal man never saw her, and the coal kept sliding down the chute toward its goal of filling the room for for winter.

The book, although some would disagree, is surprisingly well-written, and, I'm certain, has subliminally conbtributed to my own writing "voice" over the years.

Happy reading! :)