Friday, August 31, 2012

"The Power of the Dog," by Rudyard Kipling

In Bryony, Melissa and her brother, Brian experience the loss of a dog. Nearly five years ago, I bade farewell to my only dog and very best four-footed friend. Several years ago, Sarah Stegal, Bryony's online adminstrator, lost her beloved Peenut. Today, a good friend says "goodbye" to his dog.

For anyone that has experienced the loss of a pet, this post is for you.

The dog is the only animal that has seen his god. ~Author Unknown

The Power of the Dog by Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find--it's your own affair--
But ... you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long--
So why in--Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Visage" Copyediting Completed, But....

....still facing more work on the manuscript before it is ready for design. When I complete that, I'll give it another read to ensure that, while inserting those changes, I've not wittingly inserted typos. A quick peek at my notes reveals about thirty items remaining on my Visage chore list.

Among those items (staying clear of spoilers) are:

   *  finding all unnecessary "being" verbs and replacing them with strong action verbs

   *  strengthening character descriptions and plotlines

   * expounding on subtle references that are too subtle

   *  adding particular conversations to move plot forward

   *  correcting "factual" errors of time period and storyline

   *  doublechecking timeline, geography, and the spelling of certain names

When I've completed the above tasks, I'll select random chapters to check for smooth writing and the elimination of any lingering mistakes. Afterwards, I'll do some initial formatting, and then send the manuscript to book design.

A long weekend approaches with the Labor Day holiday, so I'm hoping for a productive work week, which I'll follow with a marathon fiction weekend. My goal is to finish my portion of Visage before the end of September.

However, I won't be abandoning fiction at this point. I'm hoping to jumpstart National Novel Writing Month (National Novel Writing Two months, perhaps?) and produce a working draft for Bryony's prequel, Before the Blood.

If that's not possible, I'd like to shape Bryony's third book, Staked! into editor-ready copy by Thanksgiving and spend most of 2013 writing the first draft of Before the Blood.

At least, those are the plans from Monday's vantage point.



Friday, August 24, 2012

“Federigo’s Falcon” (from "The Decameron"), by Giovanni Boccaccio

Yesterday, Daniel and I read Federigo’s Falcon by the early Renaissance Italian storyteller Giovanni Boccaccio. The selection is from The Decameron, a collection of ten tales told over a period of ten days by each of the people fleeing from the plague in Florence.

The story centers around a rich young man, Federigo, who is frenetically in love with a married woman. He spends his entire fortune trying to gain her attention and fails. Finally, the poor man owns nothing in the world but his beloved falcon.

One day, after the woman's husband dies and her son is near death, she asks the boy for his final wish. The boy states that he might return to health if he can possess Federigo's falcon. So off the woman goes, knowing full well she had spurned Federigo's affections in the past, to ask him to give her the bird.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Cookbook!

Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony" is officially available from the Dalton's Dry Goods link on the BryonySeries website:

From the back cover:

In Denise M. Baran-Unland's young adult vampire novel, "Bryony," seventeen-year-old Melissa Marchellis trades her blood with a Victorian vampire for a trip back into time as his wife, Bryony.

Yet, as Melissa zig-zags between 1975 and the late 1890's, she encounters plenty of food. These range from the familiar dishes that grace her family's dinner and holiday tables to unfamiliar Victorian fare: beef tongue, stuffed pigeons, and boiled calves head.

The recipes included in this collection reflect the culture of both time periods to give the reader an insight into the world of Bryony.

Whether you read this cookbook to enhance the story's enjoyment or for menu ideas, may you thoroughly delight in each "bite and nibble."

We once again congratulate the winners of the “Name the Bryony cookbook contest:” Nola Sawyer (Memories in the Kitchen) and Kathryn Dunlap (Bites and Nibbles). Each will receive a copy of the cookbook autographed with as many names of the Bryony team as possible.

All proceeds from the Bryony cookbook will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties (



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vampire Rap by Five-Year-Old Lucas

We interrupt our regularly scheduled James Onohan Wednesday to feature a vampire rap song my five-year-old grandson Lucas sent me yesterday.

He recorded it with an ap on his mother's phone and then sent it to me. He was thrilled when I promised to share it with all my friends. Lucas' mother is Sarah Stegall, Bryony's online administrator.

And lest anyone thinking we're slighting James, please know Lucas pretends to play the piano while crying out, "I'm James Onohan."

BTW, Lucas affectionately calls me "vampire Grandma."

And now, the song:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Some Editorial Comments About "Visage"

Random comments from one of Bryony's editors (alas, the best ones contain spoilers, so I'm not sharing...for now, hehehe):

  *  My overall impression as of the end of Cpt 8: it's very difficult to put down. You've had me hooked since Cpt. 1. I'm extremely worried about Melissa right now and have qualms about what's coming next. I do like the book so far, very much so.
 *  I read the beginning of the next section for an hour this morning... didn't hear the timer go off, when I realized I'd gone over time I decided to stop at the end of the chapter I was in, and three chapters later caught myself on the second page of yet another chapter. Tomorrow I will read some more, this time with the timer right next to me instead of 10 feet away!

 *  Things I really liked: the subtle humor that plays back and forth throughout the beginning...there are all sorts of vampire nibbles in here...nice alliteration throughout...your succint summary of Kellen Wechsler's connection to John was just perfect.

 *  I really liked this book. Your pace varies nicely, and your chapters end in just the right place to keep the reader going. Most of my comments have been based on this being a stand-alone book, and for the most part I think Visage succeeds hat way. I think the epilogue hints STRONGLY at a third book.

Monday, August 20, 2012

This Saturday at the Book Mouse in Ottawa, Illinois (and cookbook news, too)

From 10:30 to noon Aug. 25, I'll be signing copies of Bryony and giving away bleeding mini cupcakes at the Book Mouse, 820 LaSalle Street, Ottawa, Illinois, 61350.

If you haven't purchased your copy yet--or if you have and wish to sample a bleeding cupcake--stop in and chat. Contact or for more information: 815-433-7323

Also, the final online proof of the official Bryony cookbook, Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony," is up, so I'm hoping to review it later today and make it "go live" within twenty-four hours.

Tomorrow: some preview comments from one of the editors for Visage, the second book in the BryonySeries.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Do You Write Limericks for Hire?

That's the short version of an email I received earlier this week.

Someone contacted me regarding my availability for a custom limerick. Now I'm uncertain how many requests Ed Calkins, the Steward of Tara, has accumulated, but this one is my first, so it's pretty special.

I quoted a modest price and asked for some additional information about the upcoming special occasion for the intended limerick. So far, I've not heard a response, but I'm hopeful. If Ed Calkins ever finds out I'm treading on his territory, this could initiate a language battle of epic proportions.

Oh, did I say that out loud?

Friday, August 17, 2012

"A Dream," by Edgar Allen Poe

A Dream by Edgar Allan Poe (1849)

In visions of the dark night
I have dreamed of joy departed—
But a waking dream of life and light
Hath left me broken-hearted.

Ah! what is not a dream by day
To him whose eyes are cast
On things around him with a ray
Turned back upon the past?

That holy dream—that holy dream,
While all the world were chiding,
Hath cheered me as a lovely beam
A lonely spirit guiding.

What though that light, thro' storm and night,
So trembled from afar—
What could there be more purely bright
In Truth's day-star?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake," by Rebekah Baran

Rebekah Baran, Bryony assistant online administrator, loves to bake, plans to study culinary arts at Joliet Junior College, and hopes to one day work as a pastry chef.

Her Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake is this week’s featured recipe on the Sue’s Diner page. Sue’s Diner is the main restaurant in Munsonville, the fictional fishing village where the action for Bryony takes place.

Check out Rebekah’s recipe at

1) What do you like to cook?

    “Simple to hard deserts.

2) Where do you find your recipes?

    “On the internet and in cook books. Sometimes people give me a good recipe.”

3) What is your earliest culinary memory?

    "Helping make food in our old house when I was three or four.”

4) What is your favorite food and why?

    “Natural cheese melted on homemade bread. Its so simple but so good at the same time.”

5) Is there a food you won’t eat and why?

   “Peppers and mushrooms. I think they have a bad aftertaste.”

6) Tell us about your most dramatic kitchen mishap.

   “I dozed off while my mixer was running and got some of my hair caught in it.”

7) Do you own a kitchen tool you never use?


8) Do you like to cook? Why or why not?

    "Not as much as baking. It's more complicated than cooking."

9) Why is baking enjoyable for you?

    “I find it relaxing and fun to do.”

10) What’s the best cooking tip you’ve received?

    "You can't get something perfect the first time.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Not Quite the Home Stretch, but Getting There: "Visage" Update

Last night, I arrived home from a fundraising meeting at the Three Rivers Arts Council in Minooka happily clutching a cardboard box containg a single manuscript: mine.

One of the professional writers in TRAC's WriteOn! writer's group completed a very thorough assessment/editorial review on Visage and that, along with my editor's notes, will comprise the basis for one final, focused round of editing before the novel goes to design.

I must confess, I'm quite excited!!!

After a quick skim through twenty-two pages of notes (in addition to the red-penned "changes" directly on the manuscript), I hit the sack, but this morning, immediately after feeding the cats and pouring cup of coffee number one, I was carefully re-reading those notes and scheduling time to begin implementing the suggestions/corrections, for there are nearly five hundred of them (again, not including what's only on the manuscript and not in the notes).

For anyone unfamilar with the editing process who might be tempted to cry, "Foul!" let me say no one is requesting I change the story. Most of the changes address plot holes, grammar and punctuation faux pas, and the clarification of vague points.

Furthermore, when she returned my manuscript to me, she said it was "pretty clean." That means, relatively speaking, it contained few errors. Five hundred may seem lilke a lot, but I can assure you, in the course of some 130,000 words, it is not.

On another note: We are also hard at work with the illustrations for Visage. Online administrator Sarah Stegall loves to post "sneak peeks" of drawings and covers, so if you'd like a looksie when she does post, be sure to fan our Facebook page:

Friday, August 10, 2012

"The Vampyre," by Owen Meredith

The Vampyre by Owen Meredith (1882)

I found a corpse, with golden hair,
Of a maiden seven months dead.
But the face, with the death in it, still was fair,
And the lips with their love were red.
Rose leaves on a snow-drift shed,
Blood-drops by Adonis bled,
Doubtless were not so red.

I combed her hair into curls of gold,
And I kissed her lips till her lips were warm,
And I bathed her body in moonlight cold,
‘Till she grew to a living form:
Till she stood up bold to a magic of old,
And walked to a muttered charm –
Lifelike, without alarm.

And she walks by me, and she talks by me,
Evermore, night and day;
For she loves me so, that, wherever I go,
She follows me all the way –
This corpse – you would almost say
There pined a soul in the clay.

Her eyes are so bright at the dead of night
That they keep me wake with dread:
And my life-blood fails in my veins, and pales
At the sight of her lips so red:
For her face is as white as the pillow by night
Where she kisses me on my bed:
All her gold hair outspread –
Neither alive nor dead.

I would that this woman’s head
Were less golden about the hair:
I would her lips were less red,
And her face less deadly fair.
For this is the worst to bear –
How came that redness there?

‘Tis my heart, be sure, she eats for her food;
And it makes one’s whole flesh creep
To think that she drinks and drains my blood
Unawares, when I am asleep.
How could those red lips
Their redness so damson-deep?

There’s a thought like a serpent, slips
Ever into my head, --
There are plenty of women, alive and human
One might woo, if one wished, and wed –
Women with hearts, and brains, -- ay – and lips
Not so terribly red.

But to house with a corpse – and she so fair,
With that dim, unearthly, golden hair,
And those sad, serene, blue eyes,
With their looks from who knows where,
With the grave’s own secret there –
It is more than I can bear!

It were better for me, ere I cam nigh her,
This corpse – ere I looked upon her,
Had they burned my body in flame and fire
With a sorcerer’s dishonor.
For when the Devil hath made his lair,
And lurks in the eyes of a fair young woman
(To grieve a man’s soul with her golden hair,
And break his heart, if his heart be human),
Would not a saint despair
To be saved by fast or prayer
From perdition made so fair?

She is unkind, unkind!
On the windy hill, to-day,
I sat in the sound of the wind.
I know what the wind would say.
It said…or seemed to my mind…
“The flowers are falling away.
The summer,”… it said… “will not stay.
And Love with be left behind.”

The swallows were swinging themselves
In the leaden-gray air aloft;
Flitting by tens and twelves,
And returning oft and oft;
Like the thousand thoughts in me,
That went, and came, and went,
Not letting me even be
Alone with my discontent.

The hard-vext weary vane
Rattled, and moaned and was still,
In the convent over the plain,
By the side of the windy hill.
It was sad to hear it complain,
So fretful, and weak, and shrill,
Again, and again, and in vain,
While the wind was changing his will.

I thought of our walks last summer
By the convent-walls so green;
Of the firs tkiss stolen from her,
With no one near to be seen.
I thought (as we wandered on,
Each of us waiting to speak)
How the daylight left us alone,
And left his last night on her cheek.

The plain was as cold and gray
(With its villas like gleaming shells)
As some north-ocean bay.
All dumb in the church were the bells.
In the mist, half a league away,
Lay the little white house where she dwells.

I thought of her face so bright,
By the sunlight bending low
O’er her work so neat and white:
Of her singing so soft and slow:
Of her tender toned “Good-night;”
But a very few nights ago.

O’er the convent doors, I could see
A pale and sorrowful-eyes
Madonna looking at me,
As when Our Lord first died.
There was a lizard or spider
To be seen on the broken walls.
The ruts, and the rain, had grown wider
And blacker since last night’s falls.
O’er the universal dullness
There broke not a single beam.
I thought how my love at its fullness
Had changed like a change in a dream.

The olives were shedding fast
About me, to the left and right,
In the lap of the scornful blast.
Black berries and leaflets white.
I thought of the many romances
One wintry word can blight;
Of the tender and timorous fancies
By a cold look put to flight.

How many noble deeds
Strangled perchance at their birth!
The smoke of the burning weeds
Came up with the steam of the earth,
From the red, wet ledges of soil,
And there sere weeds, row over row, --
And the vineyard-men at their toil,
Who sang in the vineyard below.

Last Spring, while I thought of her here,
I found a red rose on the hill.
There it lies, withered and sere!
Let him trust to a woman who will.

I thought how her words had grown colder,
And her fair face colder still,
From the hour whose silence had told her
What has left me heart-broken and ill;
And “Oh!” I thought, … “if I behold her
Walking there with him under the hill!”

O’re the mist from the mournful city
The blear lamps gleamed aghast, --
“she has neither justice, nor pity,”
I thought… “all’s over at last!”
The cold eve came. One star
Through a ragged gray gap forlorn
Fell down from some region afar,
And sickened as soon as born.
I thought, “How long and how lone
The years will seem to be,
When the last of her looks is gone,
And my heart is silent in me!”

One streak of sorrowful gold,
In the cloudy and billowy west,
Burned with alight as cold
As love in a much-wronged breast.
And she called me by every caressing old name
She of old had invented for me:
She crouched at my feet, with her cheek on my knee,
Like a wild thing grown suddenly tame.

In the world there are women enough, maids or mothers;
Yet in multiplied millions, I never should find
The symbol of aught in her face, or her mind.
She has nothing in common with others.

And she loves me! This morning, the earth pressed beneath
Her light foot, keeps the print. ‘Twas no vision last night,
For the lily she dropped, as she went is yet white
With the dew on its delicate sheath!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

So Let Me Tell You About My Freak "Bryony" Accident

On Thursday evening, Sarah Stegall, Bryony's online administrator, and I exchanged the following texts:

Me: "I just had a very Bryony accident.

Sarah: "You fell down the ladder." (I have an attic office, accessible only by ladder).

Me: "Oh, very good. No, I just got hit in the head with a piano."

Sarah: "Is your neck crooked?"

Me: "No, but Timothy's screen is smashed."

Sarah: "Does his come with a lifetime warranty? It should."

Me: "No. One year, he thinks."

Sarah: Doesn't Channahon Computer Repair cover that?"

Me: "Unfortunately, no."

Sarah: :(

Me: "I'm concerned about all this concern for a PIANO."

Sarah: "You said your neck wasn't crooked. What else is there?

Me: "My head hurts." :(

Sarah: "Oh, sorry." :(

Me: Lol! Trying to make light of it. Might make a good blog post."

This is what happened. While surfing YouTube Tuesday for a particular video, I came across a rare interview with a very young Jack Wild. After I shared it with Timothy and Daniel, for comparison, I began searching via Timothy's laptop for one of Jack's last appearances, after cancer had claimed his tongue, and he could no longer speak.

As I was doing so, Timothy's very large, very heavy paino keyboard fell off the wall and clocked me in the side of the head, knocking me to the ground. Timothy blamed Daniel, who blamed the piano, and I staggered away for ice.

I thought it was little weird that the piano hit me on one side of the head, and I felt discomfort on the other, but since I otherwise felt fine, I refused Timothy's offer for a ride to the emergency room, and instead went to bed.

He awakened me at three o'clock in the morning, to be sure I did indeed awaken, and then I returned to sleep. The next day, I just felt "off." My brain was foggy; my head hurt more; my stomach felt unsteady, as did my balance; and all I wanted to do was sleep. So, I took that trip to the hospital.

One neurological exam (which I passed) and CT scan later, I learned I had a mild concussion (no surprise there) and some whiplash (a nod to Snowbell, after all, despite the lack of torticollis). I returned home to my assignments, but although I plodded along, concentration proved daunting.

I gave it up early, which means I am now behind schedule today. I'm sure the day will be an alternate of taking the whip to my back and making allowances for my slowness. At any event, I DID get a blog post out of it, so that's one story accomplished today. Onward to the next project!

And since you're probably curious, here's the clip that started the whole incident:

Excuse me while I grab an ice pack....

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Tomorrow, I am taking a great leap into the great unknown. I am playing!

For those who know me well, I rarely wear cosmetics. This has nothing to do with an "au naturel" philosophy or a rejection of traditional feminine roles (playing with colors and designs brings out the artist in me), but rather one of comfort. In short, I react badly to many products.

I suffer from an autoimmine disease commonly known as chronic hives. This means, unless I take massive amount of antihistamines daily, I itch and welt EVERYWHERE! It also means I itch and welt somewhat anyway, despite the medication. For me, it's simpler and easier to avoid sources of irritation than waste good money on it.

However, several years ago, when we began pre-marketing for Bryony, my publicist exhorted me to rethink my Spartan motto, at least for costumey occasions, press photos, and public events. Thus, she and I began a round of makeovers and samples in an effort to discover a product line my skin wouldn't reject.

We thought we had found one, but just in case, I used the cosmetics sparingly and only in the aforementioned circumstances. As luck would have it, we were wrong. So, I'm back on the hunt some compatible makeup.

To spare my budget, I've collected samples from several product lines. To spare my anxiety about applying them, I've left them sitting in a plastic bag on top my grandmother's old antique dresser for several weeks, until Rebekah found them and inquired when I would start playing with them. Someday, I assured her. She decided on Monday.

Well, yesterday was a nutty day, nutty enough that I forgot my morning dose of medication in my haste to start the coffee, and I'm still paying for it today. Tomorrow, hopefully, the needle-sharp burning will have subsided long enough to begin my "dangerous" experiment and, also hopefully, find a brand that will become good friends with my skin.

Wish me luck.

Monday, August 6, 2012


One week past its two-year anniversary, the BryonySeries blog finally did something it hadn't done yet:Its author missed a day in posting.

Yesterday was a crazy, crazy day. A restless night of sleep, followed by way too many obligations on a Sunday, then coming home to spotty power outages (which also means no well and septic) in a full household made for some rapid scrambling.

It was late at night before normalcy was (somewhat) restored (for it is never truly "normal" here), and by then, I had completely forgotten it. I shut the windows, turned the A/C back on, and fell asleep within in minutes.

Not until this morning did I discover my gaffe, and so posted the piano selection intended for yesterday. And guess what? The sky didn't fall; my world didn't shatter.

I did, however, post twice today. Just because.

Music of a Winter Night

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Frantic Email to Ed Calkins

Sent 08/02/12.
Re: Miss your blog posts!

Your Stewardship!

Pining away for an update.
Hope all is well in your country. Have proof copies of cookbook; release should be soon.
Edits for Bryony #2 are well underway. Still anticipating a December 2012 release.
Please send blog material.

(Mistress of My Immortality)
My stance? Just because I fictionalize a real person and dedicate Saturday blog space to him doesn't mean I must supply all the material. Time for the character to assume his writerly responsibility.

Friday, August 3, 2012

"Crossing the Bar," by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sue's Diner Has a New Recipe: Garbage Salad by Sarah Stegall

Sue's Diner has a new recipe: Garbage Salad by Sarah Stegall.

Sarah Stegall is married to a wonderful man and is a stay at home mom to a rambunctious five-year- old boy. In her free time (there's free time?!?) she tests out new recipes, is the media contact for BryonySeries, runs the Bryony Facebook page, edits the Bryony blog, is the creator and maintainer of this website, and designer of the Bryony not-for-profit cookbook: Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony."

She is very interested in American Sign language, learning new signs and teaching them to her son. As an avid reader and problem solver, she can usually be found with her nose in a book or learning a new skill. If you are interested in having a website created, contact her at

1) What do you like to cook?
“Anything healthy.”

2) Where do you find your recipes?
“Friends, Facebook, Family Circle.

3) What is your earliest culinary memory?
“My little brother falling backwards on a chair while making pierogies or the same brother scalding his nipple with tea while I was buttering bread. Both involve food.

4) What is your favorite food and why?
“A toss up between two: Spicy Tuna Sushi Rolls or Honey Tai
chicken wings from Hooters.

5) Is there a food you won’t eat and why?
“Rotten shark or pickled eggs. You have to draw the line somewhere.

6) Tell us about your most dramatic kitchen mishap.
“I had a toaster that caught on fire six times before I pitched it.

7) Do you own a kitchen tool you never use?
“Yup! Several I inherited, but as the years go on I like discovering what they are. I
now can't live without my pastry cuter and food processor.

8) Do you like to bake? Why or why not?
“Not as much as cooking, but if it's more unusual I'm all in. I don't have a big sweet tooth and prefer healthier foods.

9) Why is cooking enjoyable for you?
“I like getting caught up in the recipe. The planning, the shopping, the recipe preparation, all make the final bite more delicious.

10) What’s the best cooking tip you’ve received?
“Substituting applesauce for oil. It’s healthier.