Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Magic Apple

"Support indie" are buzzwords often heard today, and people live that out in ways ranging from not at all to promoting their friends' work or their favorite artists on social media.

But this isn't a post of how you should support indie, or how I support indie (except as an aside) or that you should support me (although I'd be thrilled if you did).

Instead, it is a story about Celtic mythology, my imagination, homemade tropes, and how I use those in a small way to promote indie artists I do not know, and how they're work has enriched my life, although they will never know it, either.

In concise terms, this means that, ever since I have figured out Twitter basics, few years ago (I've had the BryonySeries account over a decade; I just didn't know how to use it), I post a combination of my own content and curated content, all underscoring BryonySeries themes.

One of those posts is always for product on Etsy.

It's a fun, creative exercise of searching the platform by a BryonySeries theme (or item or trope) and then sharing a description and photo of the item on Twitter, along with a link, so anyone who is interested can buy it.

Has it led to sales? I have no idea because, with the except of Holly Coop's greeting cards, I don't know any of the vendors; I find them and their products through searching by topic.

But I stick with Etsy almost exclusively because most of the vendors are indie artists from all over the world.

Now recently, this has led to some gifts from my children to me.

The latest is this golden apple, which I am wearing for the first time. The reason why it's important is slightly because of Ed Calkins, whom I was supposed to meet for lunch today to discuss his progress on Ruthless (hoping "lunch" still happens via phone call).



Without going into too much backstory, I've legally fictionalized the "real" Ed Calkins, which led to the subtle incorporation of Celtic mythology into parts of the BryonySeries, especially in Staked!.

In this third book of the young adult "drop of blood" vampire trilogy are frequent allusions to a magic apple. These allusions refer back to a story Ed Calkins supposedly tell the protagonist, John-Peter, which John-Peter tells his young nieces one Thanksgiving Day as they prepare apples for a pie.


           “How come you like apples so much, John-Peter?”
            He reached for another. “Hoping for a magic one.”
            Deanna lifted her chin in disdain and shook her head. “There’s no such thing as magic, and you know it.”
            Fawn ran back into the room, waving her dripping hands. John-Peter handed her a napkin, tossed the cores into the garbage, and began working on another apple.
            “Surely you’ve heard what happened to Connla the Fair. Ellie, watch your nose.”
            Ellie moved her face away from the apple. “What 'fair?'”
             “'Fair' means he had a light complexion and was very handsome. He was the son of Conn, the Hundred-Fighter.”
             “He’s making it up,” Deanna said.
             Ellie stuck her tongue out at Deanna. “Well, I want to hear John-Peter’s story.”
            John-Peter handed Deanna the peeled apple.
            “One day, when Connla the Fair was sitting with his father on the Hill of Uisneach.”
            “A pretend place,” Deanna scooped the slices into her hands and set them before Ellie.
            “Tell that to the ancient Druids. They considered it to be the very center of Ireland, the ancient seat of the Kings of Meath.”
             “What’s a doo-rid?” Ellie said.
            “A very wise man.”
            “I still think you’re making it up,” Deanna said.
             “There is a huge limestone there that resembles a cat watching a mouse. Someday, I’ll show you the picture.”
            Fawn looked at John-Peter with large, round eyes. “Tell the story, John-Peter.”
            John-Peter watched as Fawn laid the slices onto the pie crust. She began to pop her fingers into her mouth, looked at Deanna, and grabbed a napkin instead.
            “While Connla the Fair was sitting with his father and his father’s druid, a beautiful woman appeared and said, "I belong to a race of people called the Sidhe…'"
             “What’s shee?”
            “Fairies, Ellie.”
            “Oh.” She stuck her face close to the paring knife.   
             “Ellie!”
            “Sorry.” She edged away.
             “The woman said to Connla, ‘We dwell in a land of peace where death does not exist. Connla, if you follow me, you will always remain young and fair.’”
             Ellie scooted closer to John-Peter as he cored another apple, and he nudged her away with his elbow.
            “Now Conn could not hear the woman’s voice, but the druid did. He noticed how she bewitched Connla so he uttered magical words--yes, Deanna, real magical words-- against the power of her voice. She vanished, but not before tossing an apple to Connla.”
             “Where'd she get the apple?” Fawn asked.
            “Be quiet, Fawn,” Deanna said, curiosity overtaking her superiority, as she sliced her apple.
             John-Peter set down his knife, smiled, and continued.
            “For the next month, Connla refused all nourishment except the woman’s apple, yet the apple never diminished in size or in its ability to satisfy him. At the end of the month, the woman returned in a crystal boat and once again extended her invitation for him. Although Connla loved his people, he loved the enchanting woman more.
            “Did he go with her?” An apple slice slipped from Ellie’s hand and splashed lemon juice onto the table.

            “He did,” John-Peter said and bit into the last apple. “No one ever saw him again.”


Buy this golden apple HERE.

And then check out these stunning vintage earrings very "Bryony," which I will share on Twitter on Monday. These earrings are from the same vendor. They make me wish I wore earrings.

Timothy also bought me this wonderful piece of changeling art, which is almost exactly the way I picture the changeling in that trilogy. The post has a link where you can buy that one, too.

Of course, this all started because Timothy is helping with the BryonySeries website, and he had no idea all this was happening on Twitter. And he decided to gift me with some of these items.

Yet Rebekah really gets to claim "firstie" with this one. She bought me a great Nosferatu coffee mug a couple years ago, after I shared it on the BryonySeries Twitter account.

However, if this item is still available on Etsy (or anythere), I can't find it, not even with a deep search.

Nevertheless, I've gotten some great comments when I've shared it on Twitter.












Friday, July 10, 2020

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


A baker's dozen of story links (all features) for you to scroll through and enjoy this morning.

The sound of rain is the backdrop to my morning, a serene contrast to the theme of yesterday. As "they" say, "If it could go wrong, it did!"

And if anyone has ever been frustrated by how the health care system can take a simple procedure and turn it into a complicated maze of missteps, please raise your coffee mug with me.

(Wow - that's a lot of coffee mugs).

On the other hand, it might make an amusing blog for next week.

Still, I'm hoping the only beast showing up on my horizon this weekend is a werewolf and even then, only in my computer.

Enjoy your Friday and beyond.

And happy reading!


Non-bylined features:

Search by topic (people, pets, A and E, faith, health, and food) at theherald-news.com.

Once a week, I do combine a week's worth into a single blog post.

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.

If you're a writer anywhere in the world, you're welcome to join WriteOn Joliet's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/writeonminooka/?ref=bookmarks. We'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 with each year. Check us out at writeonjoliet.com.

Upcoming BryonySeries events:

A full month of virtual events can be found at bryonyseries.com/fetes-and-feasts

Books and Such

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

Newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

http://www.theherald-news.com/newsletter/will-county-go-guide/#//


Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

http://www.theherald-news.com/newsletter/locallit/


Sign up for The Munsonville Times

https://www.bryonyseries.com/munsonville-times

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.


An Extraordinary Life: 'We. Enjoy. Being. Black'
Bennie Webb of Bolingbrook took pride in his heritage

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/30/an-extraordinary-life-we-enjoy-being-black/d8ersjl/


At 106, this Joliet woman is going strong
Harriet Stutz is in excellent health, her daughter says

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/01/at-106-this-joliet-woman-is-going-strong/atyiogz/


LocalLit book spotlight: 'Of Sojourners on the Narrow Road'
This first link gives an overview of the book.
The second is the review

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/01/locallit-book-spotlight-of-sojourners-on-the-narrow-road/ambvzoy/

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/07/locallit-book-book-review-of-sojourners-on-the-narrow-road/ahjmzmb/


Pets of the Week: July 6

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/28/pets-of-the-week-july-6/d2xc599/


A 65-day covid stay and then gall bladder surgery 4 days later
Ken White of NewLenox happy to be on the road to recovery

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/06/a-65-day-covid-stay-and-then-gall-bladder-surgery-4-days-later/auykdkm/


Tips for keeping kids safe from COVID-19 this summer 

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/06/tips-for-keeping-kids-safe-from-covid-19-this-summer/apunbb/


Capri Sogno in Plainfield serves Italian cuisine at its finest

https://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2020/06/30/0f5fa3a8ff3c46698353aa496c06f257/index.xml?page=1


African Americans risk of dying from the coronvirus starts before birth
Expert says health care disparities didn't begin with the virus

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/30/african-americans-risk-of-dying-from-the-coronvirus-starts-before-birth/a4oaxyq/


Get back in tune with musical fun in the sun
Check out some upcoming, outdoor musical events in the Joliet area.

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/07/get-back-in-tune-with-musical-fun-in-the-sun/a1e8fo6/


"Whatever happened to baby Owen?"
Joliet toddler still waging the cancer war - and he's not even 2 yet 

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/08/whatever-happened-to-baby-owen/aqjuntl/


ExxonMobil contributes more than $1.4 Million to Illinois colleges and universities 
Employees, retirees participated in matching gift program

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/08/exxonmobil-contrbutes-more-than-1-4-million-to-illinois-colleges-and-universities/ay49bo2/


Racism, lack of education are 2 reasons why covid hits minorities hard
Solving health care, education disparities ‘not going to be a quick fix’

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/01/racism-lack-of-education-are-2-reasons-why-covid-hits-minorities-hard/auj7ofi/



Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage."

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Our Two Traditional Fourth of July Desserts

For the Fourth of July, dessert is always a throwback to an earlier time.

One dessert is a throwback to an earlier time in our family's history.

The other is throwback to an earlier time in the world and the BryonySeries but relatively new in our family's history.

The first, ice cream pie, was invented by me nearly thirty years ago (should have patented it) when I was aimlessly walking up and down the aisles of a supermarket looking for ideas for a Father's Day dessert for my first husband.

He was a newly diagnosed diabetic, loved sweets, and now couldn't have them without getting very sick.

I wound up buying a chocolate crumb pie crust (six grams of carbohydrates per serving) and filling it with sugar-free caramel ice cream, and then topping with with ground pecans before refreezing.

He liked it, and it became a staple dessert for him throughout the years were were married. The kids, of course, wanted some, too, so we started making different variations, if only to keep them from sneaking slices of the sugar-free variety.

At some point, it became our traditional Fourth of July dessert, which Rebekah faithfully makes every year.

This year, she ground up chocolate sandwich cookies for the crust, filled it with a raspberry chocolate ice cream, and then grated unsweetened dark chocolate for the topping.






The second dessert is Independence Day cake, which Timothy and Rebekah modified from a 19th Century description of the cake, a treat Bryony Marseilles couldn't wait to try on the Fourth of July, 1892, in the fifth installment of Before the Blood.

Munsonville Inn would also sell a frosted loaf, popular in Thornton, known as Independence Cake, and Bryony longed to try this food from a land so far away.

More than once, she and Susan read the advertisement in the window, boasting it was "flavored with wine and brandy," as well as "rich with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, mace, and citron," and "heavily speckled with currants and raisins."



By the time I finished editing the book, I wanted to try Independence Cake, too. So, thanks to these adult kids, I did.

And now, Independence Cake is part of our Fourth of July celebrations, too.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Catch Up With News Around Joliet

Here are nearly twenty pieces of Joliet-area related news, information, and events

Simply scroll through and click on the ones you want to read.

Have a great day! :)


D. 86 in Joliet welcomes new principals 

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/02/d-86-in-joliet-welcomes-new-principals/am2dpqn/


Tips for talking to kids about the new reality during COVID-19

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/02/tips-for-talking-to-kids-about-the-new-reality-during-covid-19/ak38p6h/


G and W Electric donates $27K to Salvation Army of Joliet
Substantial gift will provide food and financial relief for hundreds in need

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/30/gw-electric-donates-27k-to-salvation-army-of-joliet/ajabxg6/


Plainfield Library to re-open July 8 - with restrictions
Only 20 visitors allowed in the building at one time

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/02/plainfield-library-to-re-open-july-8-with-restrictions/abzhvv8/


Residents at OLA in Joliet enjoy a 'Happy Parade' - complete with bubbles and a pup

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/29/residents-at-ola-in-joliet-enjoy-a-happy-parade-complete-with-bubbles-and-a-pup/d3sex6g/


D. 86 in Joliet modifies Grab-and-Go meals pickup due to Fourth of July

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/29/d-86-in-joliet-modifies-grab-and-go-meals-pickup-due-to-fourth-of-july/ai97wuq/


The link between COVID-19 and stroke 

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/15/the-link-between-covid-19-and-stroke/a6jfjue/


Troy transportation director retires
Lucy Feeney spent 32 years in education at Troy

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/15/troy-transportation-director-retires/a85x25m/


Plainfield 8th-grader wins #writing award 

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/15/plainfield-8th-grader-wins-writing-award/a3u84ch/


Plainfield Park District Hosting Frozen II Drive-In Movie Night June 25 
(This is event is past. But check the district's website for additional events).

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/16/plainfield-park-district-hosting-frozen-ii-drive-in-movie-night-june-25/aedi93q/


Apply now for Landscape Scale Restoration Grants across Northeast and Midwest

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/30/apply-now-for-landscape-scale-restoration-grants-across-northeast-and-midwest/abxka3p/


Air Pollution Action Day alerts for Will, Grundy counties on Thursday
Conditions expected to extend through holiday weekend and coming weekend

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/01/air-pollution-action-day-alerts-for-will-grundy-counties-on-thursday/aep4rjy/


Illinois State Fire Marshal awards grants to first responders in Will, Grundy counties

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/29/illinois-state-fire-marshal-awards-grants-to-first-responders-in-will-grundy-counties/aqvnoob/


Frog on a log leaps over Forest Preserve photo competition

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/29/frog-on-a-log-leaps-over-forest-preserve-photo-competition/aron9mx/


Have a safe Fourth of July with these fireworks safety tips

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/07/01/have-a-safe-fourth-of-july-with-these-fireworks-safety-tips/avs2jxl/


IDPH to screen newborns for spinal muscular atrophy

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/30/idph-to-screen-newborns-for-spinal-muscular-atrophy/ajmg88/


Former Wilmington resident honored for outstanding achievements in environmental planning and planning leadership

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/29/henry-f-bittaker-named-to-prestigious-planning-college-of-fellows-faicp/ao7flno/




Illustration by Christopher Gleason for "Staked!" Follow him at artworkbytopher.com.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Freedom

When I was a new parent, I read a variety of books about parenting and education, everything from Dr. Spock to John Holt.

Dr. Tom Brewer's pregnancy diet became the foundation for the way I still eat today, and I learned the difference between "freedom" and "license" from a Scottish educator called A.S. Neill, who is considered (by some) to be the founder of the "free school movement" when he began Summerhill, a boarding school that is still governed by its students and mostly forgotten by the rest of the world today.

Because many people considered Neill's perception that children have rights meant raising their children without any discipline, he followed up his first book with a second one: "Freedom: Not License."

While many of his ideologies have not withstood time (and some consider him to be homophobic), and while I have no idea if any of this is true because I have not re-read his books since the first reading in 1982, the entire concept of "freedom, not license," has remained with me, to the point these three words are words my adult kids hear today.

Although "God is love" (1 John 4:8) is the part most people associate with people being in the image of God, free will - the ability to choose - is probably the essence of that image and what makes U.S. citizens living in the U.S. feel free.

But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every choice, there is something we do not choose.

Even love is a choice.

Now this post is not an excuse to rant against our inconsiderate neighbors, who consistently set off the loudest and most dramatic fireworks this weekend, starting around 11 p.m. July 4 and continuing non-stop until dawn on July 5 when two squad cars came out and insisted they stop.

Seriously, it's not.

Because once I realized the night would be an all-nighter, and that most of my Sunday plans would vanish due to lack of sleep, I realized I, too, had a choice.

I could be angry and fuming.

Or I could use the time well.

So here's how I celebrated my freedom, a freedom I'm so thankful to have words defy me, over the past few days.

Thursday: I had worked extra hours this past week to finish up early on Thursday. I did a little editing for clients, re-read some of what I had written for The Phoenix, watched the next episode (or so) of  The King's Woman (a Chinese drama) with Rebekah, and went to bed early, happy and looking forward to the weekend.

Friday: The one day that was truly mine. I spent about fourteen hours working on Lycanthropic Summer. It's now about two-thirds of the way completed, and I'm super happy about how it's taking shape, better than I had thought going into the day. It also led to a different idea about a cover design, and one that should stretch Rebekah's fledgling Photoshop skills.

Saturday: I edited for clients until dinnertime. I'm waiting on an updated graphic for Phyllis' memoir and then that project is done. I returned the third round of novel to one author and the first round of a collection of short stories to another. I watched two-third of "1776" with my kids, ate homemade pizza, ice cream pie, and Independence Cake (more on this later) that Rebekah had made, and walked to a local fireworks event (a scary walk that felt like a war zone due to the vast amount of "independent" fireworks displays in the neighborhoods).

The in-between night: I commiserated with Timothy via phone most of the night, prayed for our neighbors, and practiced relaxation. The first was easy, the second two, truthfully, was extremely hard. I kept reminding myself I obviously needed this character-building exercise because I struggled so much with praying and relaxing.

Lesson learned: As wonderful as it was to spend time this weekend creating, using God-given talents to help others create, and hanging out with my family, I also wound up "exercising" that part of me that really needs work: being a better person. I wasn't crazy about it in the moment (whoever is?), but I'm (sort of ) thankful for it now.

It reminded me the neighbors were (most likely) not being intentionally rude. They were simply having what they considered to be a really good time. Maybe they've had a horrible year or week or day and felt they needed this.

In fact, I've realized over the years that most people, when they are being what we consider rude, don't even realize the effects their actions have on others.

It's a good lesson for me to remember. I don't operate in a vacuum. My actions affect others. I should be more mindful.

Sunday: I had Herald-News work in the morning (I'd saved it for when I'd be rested and refreshed, ha ha) and spent the afternoon editing for a client. I had intended to work on a special short story piece, but I was too tired. I was also too tired to read, exercise, work on the  short story or finish "1776."

Timothy, who must have regular sleep, or he will wind up with terrible migraines, passed out for an hour on my living room rug.

He was sleep maybe fifteen minutes, when two kids (pretty little kids, too), came out of the neighbor's house and fired one very loud firework.

And I reached for my phone. If a second had gone off, I would have called the police.

For the kids who are too young to be shooting those things off. And for my son who was not going to get robbed of rest twice.

But it was only one. And I put the phone down and returned to my client's manuscript.

BUT.

While I was working, Timothy and Rebekah spent an hour in the heat cleaning up broken glass from the previous night's revelry to protect the neighbors (many of whom are disabled and use walkers), the tires of the neighbors' vehicles, and the tender pads of their pets (lots of dog walkers here).

Timothy hung some of my BryonySeries art in the afternoon (I'll show off the display when it's all done). He started to measure on Saturday and decided to wait for Sunday when, again, he was more rested and relaxed.

But he didn't want to lose the time. We've been in the new space seventh months, and he was tired of putting it off. And so, even with a migraine from lack of sleep, he measured and hung six pictures and fixed an issue with my phone.

He then cooked dinner because Rebekah had made so much food over the weekend.

And Rebekah said she'd help me with WriteOn Joliet's fourth anthology this week, which I also did not get done on Sunday.

We all complained a lot about how tired we were, but in a humorous way, to make each other laugh, and help us de-stress. This probably gave us more bonding than we had planned, another bonus.

And while I was showering last night, lots of ideas for the short story leaped into my mind, and I managed to get them into the computer while Timothy was grilling up ham steaks. So that wasn't a bust after all.

And I did sleep very well last night, and I'm ready for Monday.

Yesterday's Bible verse on my phone app said: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Still, even the cats suffered through that horrible night.

They were super tired (as in zonked out cold) for most of Sunday, even struggling to crack an eye for meals.

Timothy sent this photo of Midnight at about 3 a.m. July 5. She was sooooo unhappy about the constant, heartbeat skipping noise that wouldn't let her sleep either, as is evident by her best "Angry Birds" expression.

It made me laugh out loud in true understanding.

I hope you smile, too. Enjoy Monday!












Saturday, July 4, 2020

Friday, July 3, 2020

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, June 27 through July 3

Super slow start to this morning, just taking my time scheduling posts , etc.

The next three days will consist of editing work for clients, playing with my own fiction writing, working on the fourth anthology for WriteOn Joliet (November 202 release), and time with family - whatever they want to do.

For those new to this blog, the first bit of information tells where to find me and my writings on social media. Beyond that are the story links, nearly a dozen this week (although two are mystery diners written by Shaw Media employees).

In the spirit of Henry Matthews from Bryony, I leave you this quote from Jane Eyre: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

Happy reading!


Non-bylined features:

Search by topic (people, pets, A and E, faith, health, and food) at theherald-news.com.

Once a week, I do combine a week's worth into a single blog post.

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.

If you're a writer anywhere in the world, you're welcome to join WriteOn Joliet's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/writeonminooka/?ref=bookmarks. We'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 with each year. Check us out at writeonjoliet.com.

Upcoming BryonySeries events:

A full month of virtual events can be found at bryonyseries.com/fetes-and-feasts

Books and Such

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

Newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

http://www.theherald-news.com/newsletter/will-county-go-guide/#//


Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

http://www.theherald-news.com/newsletter/locallit/


Sign up for The Munsonville Times

https://www.bryonyseries.com/munsonville-times

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.






A new mutation makes it easier for the coronavirus to infect people

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/26/a-new-mutation-makes-it-easier-for-the-coronavirus-to-infect-people/ax6wdaj/


Treating covid-related anxiety: 1 cultural approach doesn't fit all

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/26/treating-covid-related-anxiety-1-cultural-approach-doesnt-fit-all/ajbye7k/


LocalLit book spotlight: 'Cherry Mine Disaster of 1909' by Jim Ridings

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/25/locallit-book-spotlight-cherry-mine-disaster-of-1909-by-jim-ridings/aok4vy9/


LocalLit book review: 'Cherry Mine Disaster of 1909'

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/30/locallit-book-review-cherry-mine-disaster-of-1909/accoy66/


An Extraordinary Life: A winner on and off the baseball field
Longtime Troy board member was also an exceptional coach

https://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2020/06/26/a3d672b5aef44eb4bf55e4ecd2092407/index.xml


'I literally looked like a pregnant man'
Pandemic delayed transplant testing for #Joliet diabetic in kidney failure

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/29/i-literally-looked-like-a-pregnant-man/a4iwzg/


Pets of the Week: June 29
Take a 'Key West' staycation this July at retail garden center in Crest Hill

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/28/take-a-key-west-staycation-this-july-at-retail-garden-center-in-crest-hill/dx5jtu5/


Baran-Unland: Tips for a great summer staycation during COVID-19

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/29/baran-unland-tips-for-a-great-summer-staycation-during-covid-19/ae5mzak/


In kidney failure and college-bound
Plainfield teen has rare #autoimmune disease and plans for his future

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/29/in-kidney-failure-and-college-bound/dhkf76k/


Mystery Diner: Som Za Thai Cuisine in Joliet keeps you coming back for more

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/29/mystery-diner-som-za-thai-cuisine-in-joliet-keeps-you-coming-back-for-more/dtxj5cx/


Mystery Diner: Bold adventures in Chinese cuisine at Dragon Palace

https://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2020/06/24/76656a5c1c684c988b05e7e6fe2c1bc1/index.xml?page=1




Illustration by Matt Coundiff for Visage.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

News Around the Community

Seventeen pieces of local news that is not covid-related.

How about that?

While the world is far form feeling "normal" yet (especially with covid mutations and a new pandemic flu on the horizon), hopefully these bits of community happenings (even the fire, where no one was hurt) can remind us that normalcy is on the horizon.


Fire broke out at Plainfield McDonald's on Friday

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/21/fire-broke-out-at-plainfield-mcdonalds-on-friday/adude95/


Shorewood to host fireworks show on July 4

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/21/shorewood-to-host-fireworks-show-on-july-4/at0xglm/


Free Narcan training July 13 in New Lenox

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/21/free-narcan-training-july-13-in-new-lenox/aoy59yt/


Troy transportation director retires
Lucy Feeney spent 32 years in education at Troy, Channahon, Minooka, Plainfield

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/15/troy-transportation-director-retires/a85x25m/


Packaged garden salads linked to foodborne illness

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/22/packaged-garden-salads-linked-to-foodborne-illness/adq4xfa/


Diocese of Joliet announces new superintendent of schools

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/22/diocese-of-joliet-announces-new-superintendent-of-schools/a7hr1s3/


Timbers of Shorewood takes a step to normalcy with concert 

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/22/timbers-of-shorewood-takes-a-step-to-normalcy-with-concert/d6tpwg3/


D. 86 in Joliet celebrates retirees

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/24/d-86-in-joliet-celebrates-retirees/axb0aiy/


Parents of new teen drivers urged to register for course

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/22/parents-of-new-teen-drivers-urged-to-register-for-course/a1t7jo9/


Celebrate National Pollinator Week with Midewin at home or on the trails

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/23/celebrate-national-pollinator-week-with-midewin-at-home-or-on-the-trails/a7c3u5v/


'Wallin Oaks' is name of 18TH District 202 elementary school in Plainfield

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/23/wallin-oaks-is-name-of-18th-district-202-elementary-school-in-plainfield/a6bw7ax/


Stay safe this summer: socially distance yourself from these plants
It's not just poison ivy that's potentially toxic

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/24/stay-safe-this-summer-socially-distance-yourself-from-these-plants/an61r44/


Joliet students honored for the virtue of 'love'

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/23/joliet-students-honored-for-the-virtue-of-love/a2mqtrt/


Trinity parent, board member receives award for advocacy efforts

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/22/trinity-parent-board-member-receives-award-for-advocacy-efforts/angbf5k/


District 202 in Plainfield will buy 10,000 laptops this summer

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/03/district-202-in-plainfield-will-buy-10-000-laptops-this-summer/aajtfb0/


Troy 30-C seeks new school board member

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/28/troy-30-c-seeks-new-school-board-member/ajf242f/


Students attending D. 86 in Joliet must be registered by July 16 

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/23/students-attending-d-86-in-joliet-must-be-registered-by-july-16/a9wqbsm/



Illustration by Christopher Gleason for "Staked!" Follow him at artworkbytopher.com.

Monday, June 29, 2020

What a Great Weekend Looks Like to a Writer

The weekend felt like it started on Thursday, which was my first (nearly) full day off in two weeks.

I actually spent most of Thursday working on editing for clients, but I also treated myself to working on part of The Phoenix, one of my novels in progress. I'll add a synopsis at the bottom of this post.

Then on Friday afternoon, my last interview for the day moved the conversation in a direction I felt was useful for another story, too, so the interview was especially fruitful.

And then, we had this great storm on Friday night, perfect when you're composing a Gothic novel set in the late nineteenth century (The Phoenix). With incense (Christmas gifts from the kids) burning in the background, I wrote until nearly midnight, when the coffee quit working, and my mind felt mushy.

But I was back at it again the next morning until early afternoon, when I switched to editing for clients. Then Rebekah and I watched two episodes of the Chinese historical drama/tragedy The King's Woman, which, although fiction and with some unexpected cheesy moments that spoil some scenes, is also fairly accurate from  a historical perspective (at least, that's what reviews and Rebekah tell me).

It's about the tyrant king who unified China and built the precursor of China's Great Wall. We're down to the last ten of forty-eight episodes.

On Sunday, I arose extra early to so I could work on Lycanthropic Summer, my first Gothic novel that has some subtle horror elements, before I switched to work. This was also very fruitful because one of my interviews also went off in another direction, which proved useful for another story that's in progress. 

So I wrote one full-page story and then designed a page and created a web version. I also wrote two more stories and conducted two more interviews. Not bad for a Sunday, methinks.

I finished the day by reading through portions of Lycanthropic Summer I'd previously written. And I caught up with some of the kids. And I had a nice dinner with them. And I watched the Chinese drama with Rebekah. 

So - a very nice Sunday, too.

If all this sounds writing like work, it really isn't. Different types of writing and editing engages my brain in different ways. 

The "work writing" is so interesting, the hours just zip past. I have more ideas in progress than I can tackle efficiently, and I'm humbled I earn my money this way.

The books I'm editing for clients are so interesting, it's like getting paid to read. I'm even more humbled they trust me with their creations.

Writing fiction, although it was structure, feels more like play.. Many hours can pass until I realize I have not moved. I think it's because the pressure is off. I'm making up all the content, and I have no deadlines.

And if it sounds like I just churn these books out, I don't do that, either. My writing friend Ken McGee is FAR more prolific than I am and just released the second book of yet another series.

I started Lycanthropic Summer over a year ago and I'm only halfway done. 

I conceived the Limbo trilogy (of which The Phoenix is the first book) also over a year ago and never got serious about working on it until the day after Christmas.

Here are the summaries of my two novels-in-progress:

The Phoenix:

This story is told from the perspective of two groups of people in alternating chapters. I am about three-quarters done with one set of alternating chapters.

Late 1895 in Munsonville, Michigan is all about survival and rebuilding: for the fishing village still reeling from deadly tragedies, for twelve-year-old Marie Clare who is grounded at Munsonville Inn with her dying father, and for two newly turned vampires foraging their meals from a dwindling supply of villagers.

But to rise strong and unscathed, some will be sacrificed along the way. Who gets to live and thrive? And who decides?

Lycanthropic Summer

This story has just three chapters - June, July, and August - and they are written in the form of diary entries.

But then this novel also has a subnovel, the novel Caryn is writing, and that has ten chapters.

The subnovel is writen, and June is nearly completed. I have also written parts of July and August, including the ending.

Caryn Rochelle loves werewolf stories and promised herself she would write the world's greatest werewolf love story before her eighteenth birthday. But with the date just months away, Caryn has shredded more drafts than she's kept and is feeling desperate.

But then she learns the town's most prestigious couple has a dark secret: they're keeping a savage boy her age locked in their basement. One glimpse, and Caryn's inspiration skyrockets. Caryn knows she ought to report them, but...

Can it really hurt to wait until she finishes her story?


And THAT is how I like to spend my days off. 


Photo of one of my series' business card on a South Caroline beach, courtesy of Timothy Baran








Saturday, June 27, 2020

Steward Setback Saturday: Ed Calkins, the Steward of Tara, Explains the IVA

Dear MOMI,


There are two ways to join the Irish Vampires Association (IVA).

The first way is the simplest.

1) You can think you're Ed Calkins, and thus the spokeman for the Irish Vampires Association.

2) You don't have to think you're a vampire, but you do have to think you're Irish and have a fondness and dedication to the Irish Vampire cause.

You must think that you should be a member, mention this to no one, pay what dues you think you should, and hold what office you think you should hold. What ever dues you pay are the budget for your office, so spend it wisely.

Also you must dislike any people you think an Irish Vampire would dislike, and think badly of them as a result.

Image the power of such a secretive structure! Few are foolish enough to cross the IVA.

For example, there was a flint dealer named Ug some 10,000 year ago that insulted the IVA. In retaliation, its members decided his daughter was unattractive. Poor Ug!

Not only did his daughter Lee remain unmarried (and thus childless; it was a simpler time), but to this day when any sight is deemed visually unappealing, the memory of Ug's Lee is mentioned.

P.S. If you are an IVA member and your department is under budget, you could send the excess to Ed Calkins.


Ruthlessly yours,

Ed Calkins, the Steward of Tara


(Originally posted Saturday, June 18, 2011)



Friday, June 26, 2020

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

So I'm running super behind schedule this morning because, like Tootle in the old children's story, I decided to jump off the track and play in the meadow.

Meaning, instead of jumping into work, I decided to dive into my novel. I'm hoping I don't pay for it the rest of the day (although my muse is super happy).

Hope the start to your Friday is even better than this! :)

For those new to this blog, the first bit of information tells where to find me and my writings on social media. Beyond that are the story links, eighteen in all this week (although two are mystery diners written by Shaw Media employees).

Happy reading!


Non-bylined features:

Search by topic (people, pets, A and E, faith, health, and food) at theherald-news.com.

Once a week, I do combine a week's worth into a single blog post.

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.

If you're a writer anywhere in the world, you're welcome to join WriteOn Joliet's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/writeonminooka/?ref=bookmarks. We'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 with each year. Check us out at writeonjoliet.com.

Upcoming BryonySeries events:

A full month of virtual events can be found at bryonyseries.com/fetes-and-feasts

Books and Such

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

Newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

http://www.theherald-news.com/newsletter/will-county-go-guide/#//


Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

http://www.theherald-news.com/newsletter/locallit/


Sign up for The Munsonville Times

https://www.bryonyseries.com/munsonville-times

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.



LocalLit book spotlight: 'Why God Has Gray Hair'

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/18/locallit-book-spotlight-why-god-has-gray-hair/ar31wl4/


LocalLit book review: Why God Has Gray Hair'

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/21/locallit-book-review-why-god-has-gray-hair/ap4i6y3/


Employee tests positive for COVID-19 at Joliet driver’s facility
Joyce Road location closed until further notice

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/20/employee-tests-positive-for-covid-19-at-joliet-drivers-facility/akcvkuu/


Joliet DMV to reopen June 30


https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/22/joliet-dmv-to-reopen-june-30/aszf05z/


An Extraordinary Life: COVID-19 took the life of a 28-year-old Joliet dad
Family raising money for expenses associated with the illness 

https://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2020/06/20/50f44135a97d437088f1ffe67973691a/index.xml?page=1


Pets of the Week: June 22

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/21/pets-of-the-week-june-22/d8t9j1e/


Dairy Queen turns 80 - and it began in Joliet 

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/22/dairy-queen-turns-50-and-it-began-in-joliet/a2aaojp/


Recovering from the coronovirus? Here's what to expect

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/22/recovering-from-the-coronovirus-heres-what-to-expect/aq48am1/


Hold the antibody passport; you might not be immune to the coronavirus
New study suggests antibodies decline several weeks after infection

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/22/hold-the-antibody-passport-you-might-not-be-immune-to-the-coronavirus/a7rhuqu/


White Fence Farm in Joliet: 'The world's greatest chicken'

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/23/white-fence-farm-in-joliet-the-worlds-greatest-chicken/d3tll9c/


Mystery Diner: Italian Fiesta serves up presidential pizza

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/16/mystery-diner-italian-fiesta-serves-up-presidential-pizza/dd2qbk6/


Joliet woman still recovering from near-death experience over 6 months ago

https://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2020/06/23/38e970f05efd44c6911527c3923d0280/index.xml?page=1


Measuring 1 hormone may predict severity of coronavirus in hospitalized patients

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/23/measuring-1-hormone-may-predict-severity-of-coronavirus-in-hospitalized-patients/apbh5mv/


Pandemic hit undocumented immigrants hard
Spanish Community Center in Joliet has seen increased need in 3 counties

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/24/pandemic-hit-undocumented-immigrants-hard/aoc5979/


Baran-Unland: Practical suggestions for a Phase 4 summer

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/24/baran-unland-practical-suggestions-for-a-phase-4-summer/aq5kbyb/


Stop using certain hand sanitizers, FDA says

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/22/stop-using-certain-hand-sanitizers-fda-says/ameqz4y/


Mary statue at St. Pat's in Joliet ripped apart

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/25/mary-statue-at-st-pats-in-joliet-ripped-apart/ad4e9id/


Drive-thru Eucharistic adoration and other outdoor worship this weekend in Will County

https://www.theherald-news.com/2020/06/24/drive-thru-eucharistic-adoration-and-other-outdoor-worship-this-weekend-in-will-county/au5npxd/




Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage."

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Cinnamon Candies, Coffee, and Love

We are a family of little gifts.

That doesn't mean we're cheap (although, maybe we are), but we do like brightening each other's day with, well, stuff.

Like this mouse pad Rebekah ordered for me that (so far) isn't stained with coffee. 




And while Timothy and Daniel were keeping me well-caffeinated over this past working weekend, Rebekah also brought me coffee and a package of these:




These were to replace the BIG bag of Cinnamon Fire Jolly Ranchers that Daniel bought me a few months back.

But since I've been working at home, "others" (who shall remain unnamed) have whittled down the bag's contents, which should have been a lifetime supply.



I like to think that MY role is being present for this large group of adult kids when they need my wisdom and support.

So with that in mind, I am now calling my oldest son. I missed the call thirty minutes ago because my phone was still on silent.

So I had Rebekah call him back to see if it was urgent. 

I'm not sure what he said, but Rebekah told him, "She's working."

And then she told me, "He needs to talk to you. And he said you can't be working because you're all over Facebook."

Splutter!

See? Day brightener. ;)


Monday, June 22, 2020

Father's Day Throwback: A Tribute to my Dad


I worked this past weekend so I didn't reach out to my own father on Father's Day until Sunday night.

Naturally, no one was at home, so I left a message.

This post is from 2013 when I had a similar experience, and the photo was from our last dinner in Raleigh last year when Rebekah and I visited Sarah and my parents.

This post is as true today as it was seven years ago.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

So I Went to Visit my Father on Father's Day....

...and neither he nor my mother was home. This was unusual because, as a rule, my parents don't recognize Mother's Day and Father's Day to each other (as they are not each others' parents).

A quick back-up. Father's Day, for me, had already been full. I'd woken up pretty early this morning to work on a story, and left for church an hour early since Timothy was cooking a brunch today at the Renaissance Center, and I didn't have access to a vehicle. On those vehicleless Sundays, we ride with our assistant pastor, who needs to be at church early. Once there, I talked to Sarah (and got waylaid by Timothy's godfather who wanted me to chant the Epistle during liturgy), attended a Father's Day brunch in the church hall, came home to write a second story, and then helped Daniel finish a Father's Day brunch at the house for my oldest son, who had both his sons with his that day. So when Christopher went to bring one of the boys home (We get to keep the older one for another week), I suggested leaving a bit early to see my dad, as he is humbly proud of having lived long enough to see his great-grandkids.

Still, I (wrongly) assumed that my seventy-nine, very healthy, and still working parents had decided to take advantage of a very nice Sunday by going out to dinner.

Furthermore, as my father tends to keep his cell phone on only during business hours, I (again, wrongly) knew that a quick call would not disturb his dinner, but would, in fact, go straight to his voice mail, where he could enjoy it Monday morning.

I dialed. It rang, and my father picked it up on the fifth ring. I'm not certain where my mother was today--she's employed at a gift shop, so maybe working?--because my father was mostly certainly NOT at dinner.

He was about an hour away, conducting, of all things, a home inspection. Not many people my age (I'll be 52 on July 15) can boast about having parents as "young" as mine.

So who is my father?

   *  He's a retired architect, one that built up an impressive business. This included buying a large New Lenox church and converting it into his and other rented office space while maintaining the integral "feel" of the church (stained glass windows, etc.). He held an exclusive contract for all the life safety work on all the Joliet schools. He performed various government projects. He's now a consultant to other architects and a certified home inspector.

   *  He's the oldest of two sons, born to a prison guard (who walked to work) and his wife. He grew up in Napanoch, New York, a hamlet in Ulster County. The 2000 census reported a population of 1168.

   *  He's a Notre Dame graduate, one who rented from a family in South Bend while going to school, skipping meals when cash funds were tight. He didn't attend his college graduation because he had graduated early and had no desire to travel back for it.

   *  He taught me to ride a two-wheeler.

   *  He read every night to my sister and me, him and the book in the middle, and she and I snuggled into his sides.

   * He gave us piggy back rides to bed before dumping us into our respective abodes of slumber.

   *  He paused while cutting the grass to show me how to catch and feed the enormous green grasshoppers that leaped across our yard.

   *  He faithfully mowed every week and pulled out the dandelions. He installed a rock garden and a metal shed in the backyard.

   *  He put up a sandbox, set up sprinklers for my sister and me to run through on hot summer days, assembled and filled wading pools.

   *  He frequently took us to Highland Park--which backed up to our yard--and pushed us on the swings. Moreover, he drove us there, as the playground portion was nowhere near our house.

   * He could link his hands together to form a "swing" with his arms as the chains.

   *  He fooled us into thinking he could remove his thumb, a trick I've showed to everyone of my six children.

   * When we went swimming at the long closed Michigan Beach in Joliet--where a neighbor (deceased) was manager--he taught me the basics of swimming, dog paddling and dead man floating. He also let my sister and me using his back as a "diving board."

   *  He played old Bing Crosby singalong records and taught us songs: Mairzy Doats, KKKKaty, Long Long Ago, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, O Where O Where Has My Little Dog Gone, Take Me Out To the Ball Game, Daisy Daisy Give Me Your Answer Do. These are songs I sang to my children while pushing them on swings, at bedtime, or while driving from one destination to another.

   *  When my sister and I were playing dolls with our cardboard kitchen sink, metal table and chairs, and plastic food to go with our plastic dishes, he'd surprise us by donning his Tiny Tim wig and showing up as a guest. He'd sit at the table, "eat" the plastic food, and play a plastic "badminton" guitar to entertain us.

   *  He spanked us when we needed it. I remember my last spanking. I was seven. I don't remember the infraction, but I do remember thinking seven was too old for a spanking. My father apparently thought so, too, because I never received another.

   * He showed me that peanut butter and bacon go well together on hot, buttered toast.

   *  When I was eleven, and he rented his first office space in downtown Joliet, 325 E. Cass Street, the former Relyea building (and George Relyea is now deceased), he brought me along to help him paint it: the reception/secretarial area, his private office, the conference room, the drafting room, the hall where all the files were kept, and the room where the blueprint machine was.

   *  At fifteen, when the asthma I'd suffered from my entire life was finally diagnosed, my father drove me into Joliet from New Lenox (where we now lived) each week for my allergy shots. When I was old enough to drive, he made sure I knew how to get there.

   *  My first job at sixteen (the previous three years worth of babysitting didn't count) was as a file clerk in his office. On nights he needed extra specs for a job copied, we'd stay downtown after hours, eat in a restaurant, and go back to work.

   *  While working for him, my father allowed me to tear apart and restructure his blueprint filing system and create a library of reference materials. When I was in college and received an "A" for an organizational communication class, he hired me to conduct a communication audit for his business.

   *  When my three oldest children were preschoolers, and my father still owned the former church, he would alternate them as his office cleaning partners. They would help empty wastebaskets for a quarter, some old keys, or the fun of copying their preschool pictures on the Xerox machine.

   * Today, he helps out with rides, He's driven me to and accompanied me on various, in-person assignments. He occasionally takes my two youngest children to junior college or to their job. For a year (just a couple years ago), he was coming into the distribution center at midnight to help us roll papers.

   *  He read all three BryonySeries books when they were drafts. Visage was his favorite. He said he picked it up one morning, and never moved until he completed it. He created multiple displays for BryonySeries events, and even wrote a complete and bound "home inspection" for Simons Mansion.

   * He reads extensively and can speak intelligently on many different subjects.

So how did those kaleidoscope experiences enrich my life? I learned industry, the joy of reading for reading's sake, innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, self-discipline, and decent parenting skills.

I can only hope my own children will remember me for half as much. Happy Father's Day, Dad!