Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Community News: April 17 to April 18, 2018

Check out upcoming events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing

Local health events: April 17 through April 24

Need help? Want to help?
Here’s a roundup of Joliet area food pantries and upcoming events

McQ’s Bar & Grill in Bolingbrook earns People’s Choice Award at Baconfest Chicago

Plainfield Public Library celebrates Fandom Fest 

New Lenox hospital announces medical staff appointments 

Presence Medical Group and Joliet Women’s Health Center Become 'PMG OBGYN Joliet' 

Immediate care physician joins Morris Hospital Ridge Road Campus

Romeoville students raise money for the American Heart Association  

Joliet students and staff raise money for American Heart Association 

Upcoming pet expo in Plainfield seeking businnesses and organization 

Bolingbrook students use geometry skills to make gingerbread houses 

Bolingbrook High School students read books they authored

AP students from Romeoville and Bolingbrook treated to lunch 

Illustration by Christopher Gleason for "Staked!"

Open Mic Night 2017: Joshua Henderson (Round 2)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

In Praise of Coffee

I found this title saved in drafts on Dec. 1, 2011, when the BryonySeries blog was scarcely a year old.

I don't remember my original intent or why I didn't write it. But with new and a rearranging of duties coming up this month at work, I'm spending taking time to tie up dangling threads on a number of projects to reduce physical and mental clutter.

So maybe instead of praising coffee, this post is dedicated to some random coffee thoughts.

1) I'm a dark roast snob, so much that I'll pass on regular roast most of the time. Dark roast has less acid and caffeine and richer flavor, making it easy on the stomach and the mind and happier for the spirit.

2) There's nothing like the first sip of coffee in a dark quiet house. Pure heaven!

3) I can't imagine writing fiction without it, less the caffeine and more the taste and ambiance, I think.

4) I feel like a boss sitting in front of my computer at work, hand moving between handle and mouse. Oh, wait! I AM a boss. Without any staff. Except me. And, boy, do I grumble some days.

5) It just TASTES good.

There. One blog post moved from draft bin to published.

Onto the next item on the list!

Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage." Follow him at or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Community News: April 14 to April 16, 2018

Check out upcoming events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing

Gotta Do It: April 15 through April 22

Pets of the Week: April 16 (adoptable pets)

Local pet events: April 16 to April 23 

American white pelicans make annual return to Channahon 

Local pet events: April 9 to April 16

Pets of the Week: April 9

Crest Hill church to install lead pastor Sunday

Joliet Knights donate to Cornerstone Services

Joliet student advances in essay competition

St. Raymond students earn Christian Conduct Awards

Joliet nursing professor wins nurse educator fellowship

Edward Foundation awards $50,000 in nursing scholarships
Local recipients include residents of Joliet, Bolingbrook, Lockport, Plainfield and Romeoville

R.A.C.E. Foundation donates to Will County Children’s Advocacy Center

Will County Health Department warns about synthetic cannabinoids

Troy Township, Shorewood recognizes veterans

Three Plainfield grads join District 202 Foundation Hall of Fame

Mathematics Association of America honors professor at Romeoville university

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

Illustration by Christopher Gleason for "Staked!"

Upcoming Blog Tour

I wrote my first official poem this weekend!

A BryonySeries-themed poem, of course.

Now it required some back and forth conversation with local writer Holly Coop to revise it just right.

But this poem, along with some other fun writings (including essay-style posts and some themed Q and A's) will be featured in my first BryonySeries blog tour this May.

A blog tour has been on my wish list since I started the series more than a few years ago. During my research into these online tours, I've found they exist in two types: fee-paying companies (out of my budget, uncertain results/reaches) and vague instructions for setting up one of your own.

I finally went with the latter, for a couple of reasons.

1) I wanted to get a feel for structuring and participating in one.

2) I wanted to do a little more cross-promotion for certain blogs I already cross-promote on my personal Twitter account.

3) I wanted to write about the steps taken in hosting, so other authors can run one of their own.

4) If it went well and I liked it, I'd have the foundation to reach out to bloggers I have not yet met to set up a second tour.

5) And then repeat the steps.

So this weekend, instead of writing fiction, I wrote six pieces for the following blogs. And please feel free to check them out now; you don't have to wait until May.

* Holly Coop (Writer Beeme)

* Tom Hernandez: (Fifty and Counting: This and That from a New AARP Member)

* Topher Gleason (Blogs on LinkedIn) Read one of his posts at

* Sue Midlock (The Unbeaten Heart)

* Allie Rios (More Than Just a Mom)

* Vanessa Stephens (Life in the Middle)

This list may expand as I've contacted a few other bloggers, too.

If you blog and would like to be included in my first tour, message me at

Have a great Monday readers, writers, and vampire fans! :)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sue's Diner: Chicken and Gravy by Timothy Baran

One of the recipes Steve Barnes made for the Marchellis family and featured in the BryonySeries cookbook.

Try the recipe HERE.

From "Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles From 'Bryony'"

All proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties.

Order the cookbook at

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Ed Calkins: "42"

So I received this "telegram" for Ed Calkins, the Steward of Tara, earlier this week, which initiated a brief exchange. The entire correspondence is below, with commentary from me.

BTW, the actual name of the book is the The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Dear MOMI,

Dyslexia can change a whole novel. At first read I mistook Connla the Fair as a reincarnated wood sprite interposing that name with Glorna.

I tied to write the next limericks explaining how the two are one but this just mergers too many souls (Connla/Glorna/John Peter+ 42/Angela).

Could you do me a favor and replace Connla with Glorna in the limericks? I just can't make the mistake work thoughI did try.  (Done! And it does make more sense this way. Denise)
While we're at it, I wonder if the irony of '42' (the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything in "Hitchhikers Guid to the Universe") was intentional, or a happy accident?
Dyslexically yours,

Sniklac De

O Steward,

I'll change it... if you're sure.

Because John-Peter did adopt the Connla legend as his, hence his love for apples and wishing for a 
magic one.

I've never read "Hitchhiker," although my sister loved it. Is there a" "42" reference?



Yea, I did catch the Connla thing but am about to take the Seven Characters in Search of an Author reference and I need the wood sprite not the hero.

Yes. 42 is the answer to "life, the universe, and everything." the earth was built to understand the question (But demolished to build an interstellar highway minutes before the it a a archived its purpose.

I'll be writing more soon

Ed Calkins,
Steward of Tara

So what's this "42" business?

"42" is the name of a character is Staked!

It's truly a happy accident because, in another happy accident, I really didn't know the question when I created her.

But the character 42 (without giving away anything), by another happy accident, seems to fit the premise set forth in "Hitchhiker." (I say "seems" because, like I said, I have not read the book).

Furthermore, I'll bet you're wondering about the connection linking wood sprites, the Connla the Fair legend, and authors.

Well, the answers (sort of) are in Staked!, the third book in the BryonySeries trilogy. Although the books tell one story and make the best sense if consumed in order, they can be read out of order.

In a shameless bit of Staked! promotion, you can buy the book HERE.

And this is a vampire story? Yes.

Or to quote Ed Calkins (as he appears in (Staked!): “There’s all kinds of blood, if you know where to look."

I am now off to my make-believe place. Have a great gloomy Saturday!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Community News: April 13, 2018 (and a bit more)

Check out upcoming events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing

Gotta Do It: April 8 through April 15

Need help? Want to help?
Here’s a roundup of Joliet area food pantries and upcoming events

Local arts and entertainment April 13 through April 20

Plainfield Art League announces winners

Tealight to hold debutante ball

Lincoln-Way students selected to showcase artwork

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times


 Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage." Follow him at or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, April 1 through April 13

Did I enjoy my time off? I did!

Of course, getting there was challenging. Two days needed to be swapped, and I spent most of Holy Saturday working and not cooking (but fortunately Joshua, Timothy, Rebekah, and Daniel were willing and able to pitch in).

Mostly I attended services, celebrated Easter with my family, and squeezed in a bit of fiction writing here and there. I returned to work refreshed and (hardly) stressed about fitting fives days-ish worth of work into three.

And look! The weekend is upon us!

Have a great Friday readers, writers, and vampire fans! :)

Non-bylined features:

Monday through Saturday I assembled my non-bylined works - brief posts and calendar listings - into one convenient file and posting them on Facebook in the evening, so readers can easily choose the ones they want to read.

 One can also find those event listings, the Gotta Do It calendar, as well as the pets, health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars, under the sections tab on the left hand side of Click on "features" and the topics drop down.  Gotta Do It runs under "people."

Community news? Again, under the sections tab, under features, and by topic. Updates are posted on these days in print and web (and some only on web on other days as I have the time): Monday (pets), Tuesday (health), Thursday (faith), Friday (arts and entertainment), and Sunday (people).

Social media:

Daily updates: I do post the briefs and calendars 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 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 jon WriteOn Joliet's Facebook page at We're based in Joliet, Illinois, but we love to meet and interact with writers outside our area, too.

Books and Such

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

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.

'One of the best human beings I've ever met'
Dick Goss celebrates 35 years as Herald-News sports editor

“It’s been nothing but a pleasure to work with Dick Goss,” said Joe Hosey, managing editor of The Herald-News. “Not only does he know all there is to know about sports in Joliet and beyond, he’s one of the kindest men I’ve ever met.”

Plainfield Township residents keep Easter egg hunt tradition going

This year, the childless couple spent about $500 to give 60 kids a happy Easter experience.

How? Why? Keep reading...

An Extraordinary Life: Joliet veterinarian was a '24/7 guy'

"Dad made practice fun," Wayne Ingmire of Kansas, retired veterinarian, said. "He had a great ability to interact with the clients and he had a sense of humor. He'd be giving an IV to a cow and telling a joke."

Mystery Diner: Joliet's 99 Hops House has good burgers, plenty of beers

It's well lit, there's plenty of room along the expansive bar and .... they have a lot of beer options.

Eastern Orthodox churches prepare for Easter 

Our liturgical cycle is fixed. We don’t have a three-year cycle or committees that plan the services. Nothing wavers. Nothing changes. It’s always the same, like God.

The only change is our perception as we move through the liturgical year.

Only a blurry photo remains

Handmade heirloom lost in move

That cloth adorned our Easter basket that year: 1991. Then it was carefully folded and put away until the following year. It had one job: to drape over the top of our Easter basket full of food while it awaited the blessing.

That’s it. And we used that cloth every year.

Until 2014.

Eastern Easter treats
Recipes tend to be heavy in foods forsaken during Lent

Three noteworthy items, two being traditional and one being traditional for us, are pascha (Easter bread), hrudka (Easter cheese) and pirohi (more commonly known as pierogies).

Here is the way we make ours. Since the Easter season lasts 40 days, trying one or more of these recipes during this time is perfectly fine and extends the spirit of joy that accompanies the resurrection.

Joliet man ‘was a good soul’

Anand Maraj brought home books and taught Debra to read, simple words at first and then more complicated words and stories.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t read,” Debra said. “I’ve learned a lot from reading. And it’s all because of him.”

Cat daddy offers purr-fect advice for feline care
Joliet theater to host Animal Planet personality

Cat Mojo philosophy is not much different than human mojo. When you find the thing you were put on this planet to do you exhibit… mojo, a natural swagger and confidence.

2-Fer's Pizza & Pub in Minooka: Where pizza is buy one, get one free

One day when I was passing through Minooka, I asked a friend to join me at 2-Fers. Karaoke wasn't part of the plan, but white pizza and good conversation was.

Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage." Follow him at or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: "Of Diets Most Diabolical," by Sir Frederick Chook

hursday, December 29, 2011

"Of Diets Most Diabolical," by Sir Frederick Chook

Of Diets Most Diabolical
By Sir Frederick Chook

Sir Frederick Chook is a foppish, transcendentalistic historian and the author of FrillyShirt. He lives variously by his wits, hand to mouth, la vie bohème, and in MELBOURNE with his wife, Lady Tanah Merah. When not reading Milton and eating Stilton, he writes, ponders, models, delves into dusty archives, and gads about town. He has dabbled in student radio and in national politics, and is presently studying the ways of the shirt-sleeved archivist. He is a longhair, aspiring to one day be a greybeard. He has, once or twice, been described as “as mad as a bicycle.” Read his collected works at

For a number of years, I have been a practising vegetarian (a curious expression - a non-practising vegetarian would, I suppose, be one brought up in the faith, but who now only forgoes meat at Easter and Christmas.) Meatless diets have been proscribed throughout history, by different persons and with different reasons. The Shelleys condemned the eating of flesh as causing disease and madness, including the social maladies of crime and tyranny. Many religions advocate against, limit or forbid the consumption of meat, ranging from the absolute reverence of life held by Jains to the pre-Flood vegetarianism described in Genesis. H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, with its description of captured humans used as a sort of cattle by the technocratic Martians, caused some popular revulsion to meat-eating, though the author's intention was more a metaphor for Britain's colonial expansion - but then, the reading public is terribly sensitive about its food. Upton Sinclar had a similar experience when describing the meat industry in The Jungle, I believe.

Compared to these varied schools and creeds, my own motives for vegetarianism are... astonishingly poorly thought out. They are, in part, moral: the receiving end of an industrial process is no place for anything with a brain. They are partly ecological - a perception that an overall reduction in demand for meat would be a good thing for the planet. Partly, it's because I know that without an absolute restriction, I wouldn't have the willpower not to gobble down every deep-fried burger strudle which passed across my plate, particularly given that I wouldn't necessarily know where it had come from. And, of course, some of it is simply a groaningly literal matter of taste. Now, you may have noticed that at least three of these concerns could be allayed by restricting myself to meat which I had secured myself - by hunting, for example, or at a traditional farm. Quite right, which leaves only the personal side of the equation: my sentimental discomfort with feasting on some doe-eyed creature who never meant me a moment's harm.

Obviously, the problem is irrational, but the solution is rationality itself: I should eat only malicious animals! Creatures whose designs against me are even now being spun; who would themselves, given half a chance, serve me up as rissoles. Why, such a diet would not only be perfectly justifiable, but is practically essential for my continued self-preservation! The only trifling objection - scarecely worth mentioning, really - is that it's questionable whether any such animal actually exists. Indeed, the overlap between those species which A: are mentally capable of understanding right and wrong, B: could pose a threat to me, C: are not justly protected against predation, owing to dwindling numbers, habitat, etc., and D: are edible, let alone tasty, is likely incredibly slight. In the face of this, there's only one thing to be done: if no candidate creatures exist, then I shall eat creatures which do not exist. Thus, I outline: the principles of a mythitarian diet!

There is no shortage of mythical beings who bear us ill will; indeed, the very names "ghouls", "goblins" and "bogeymen" are synonymous with, well, ghouls, goblins and bogeymen. Not all of these are edible - banshees, for example, are famously hard to trap and harder still to hold (not least for the municipal noise pollution restrictions.) The stony skin of the troll is impenetrable to mortal cutlery, while tasting the flesh of the wendigo puts the diner at considerable risk of becoming a wendigo, which is why it is rarely seen served in the best restaurants. Despite these drawbacks, fantastical meat is in surprisingly common use; many readers, for instance, will likely have eaten a Cornish pasty made with the traditional filling of diced onion, swedes and spriggan, or even participated in the gathering, plucking and carving of jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween.

Mythmeat has a culture all of its own, which seemed daunting when I first made the transition away from mundane meat. Centaur and gremlin are stock fare, found on every table, but bunyip is emerging as an affordable meat with a range to please the gourmet, comparable to the rise of beef in the American diet in the 20th century. The inner cities have seen something of a fad for corner-stand breaded ogre cutlets, which are easy to eat on the go, but prices are rising as ogre feed (children, mostly) is proving hard to secure in quantity. Now, vampire - vampire is an unusual case. It was never to everyone's taste - no matter how much you cook it, it always comes out rare - but the animal-rights crowd don't like to eat anything which was recently a living, breathing creature, while the fresh-food crowd don't like anything which wasn't. It's not even remotely sustainable, but a boutique industry has sprung up providing vampires which have felt the chill of undeath just long enough to forget their last shreds of humanity, without yet being twisted into something foul and chewy.

Naturally, when discussing moral or political issues, one must cast up the usual caveats: unlike a teacher on exam day, I cannot pretend to have all the right answers, every generation sows the seeds of the next generation's rebellion, and so forth. Perhaps, one day, the image of a bucolic gnomeherd stomping through a field full of scampering gnomes, all waving tiny pitchforks and swearing like sailors, grabbing them up by their little red caps and stuffing them into his sack, will come to be seen as comically backward. We must live in the house of cards we're dealt, to mangle metaphors, and as things stand, the best source of nutrition for many communities - particularly where crops are poor and grazing land scant - is to knock a faerie on the head and get in the icebox before it turns to soot with the dawn. I'm not saying there isn't excess and waste - the number of sky-buffalo killed for their wings alone is an outrage - but the ecological cost is minimal, and the pixie dust produced as waste is easily treated and recycled for use by the medicinal and aeronautical industries.

Well, thank you for hearing out the ramblings of a chap with mermaid stains on his cuffs! Now, if you'll excuse me, my dessert has just disappeared, so I've got to go will it back into existence. I -do- believe in coulis, I -do-, I -do-!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Well, Well, Well

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Well, Well, Well

Yep, the alpha and the omega of our latest crisis and the catalyst for our recent blessing.

On Sunday night, the well gave out, catapulting our moving agenda into high gear.

On Tuesday, Timothy found an affordable, one bedroom apartment for my oldest son, right down the street from the house. Whe Christopher called, a very familiar voice answered. Lo and behold, a neighbor and relative by marriage owns it, and he and his wife are heavily into cat rescue.

You can see where this story is going, and I'm very happy, too, especially since Christopher now doesn't have to change the incorporation of "Channahon Computer Repair.

Most importantly, I was sooo worried Christopher would be lonesome all by himself. ;)

Now the cats will probably upset at downsizing, but, heck, everyone's making sacrifices. I can't think of another landlord (I know because we've called a bunch) that will not only say "yes" to the lot of them but would act ecstatic because we own an invisible fence and then give us permission to intall it on his property.

If that still doesn't convince them, I could always take them 'round to our local humane society to have a stare down at the seventy cats that would have been their new roommates. Shelter cliques, anyone?

As I told Faith last night as she lay on the floor gazing up at me, "God love you. The God that made you loves you. And don't you forget it."

She didn't comment, so I'm sure she agreed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Community News: April 4, 2018

Check out upcoming events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing

Need help? Want to help? Here’s a roundup of area food pantries and upcoming events

Lockport family hosts student from Japan

Joliet YMCA receives $68,000 grant from Joliet Township

Bolingbrook HS students shine at DuPage County ACT-SO Competition 
Seven students advancing to national competition

Assistant principal named at Romeoville school

Troy students learn about government

Local students graduate in summer and fall 2017

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

 Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage." Follow him at or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.

Open Mic Night 2017 : Holly Coop (Round 2)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Community News: April 3, 2018

Check out upcoming events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing

Local health events: April 3 through April 10 

BC-IL--Pet Safety-Holidays
Warnings of holiday risks to pets 

Glasgow thanks Crest Hill Police Association for donation
Golf outing proceeds benefit Will County Children’s Advocacy Center 

Longtime member of the Will County Board of Health reflects on 24 years 

Bolingbrook becomes first Will County ‘Tobacco 21’ city 

Manhattan Dental Care staff educates preschoolers on good dental care

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

 Illustration by Matt Coundiff for "Visage." Follow him at or @MattCoundiff on Twitter.

One Great Editing Tip

While taking some acting lessons from Devon Ford, we spent one day working on one character in the piece at a time.

The scene we were practicing had seven speaking roles (and a few non-speaking) all in the same twelve-minute piece. It makes for a dynamic reading, but crisp differentiation in all the roles when delivering it is essential when the author is portraying all of them.

So Devon had me read one role at a time, while she spoke the lines of the rest to help with proper pacing. This way, I could work on the "voice" of the character without the other ones in my head.

Since the BryonySeries prequel Before the Blood is composed of several novels, each story arc has its own cast of characters. When I'm making my editing passes, I'm going to remember this.

Here's the tip: read through the novel's dialogue one character at a time to ensure that each "voice" stays true to the voice.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Community News: March 31 and April 2, 2018

Check out upcoming events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing

Gotta Do It: April 1 through April 7

Local pet events: April 2 to April 9 

Pets of the Week: April 2

Read the caption of each photo to find out about that pet, including where he or she can be adopted.

Joliet students build wood duck nesting boxes

Plainfield Art League announces exhibit winners for 2018

Plainfield high school students win art awards

Annual 'Women of the Year' nominations sought

Will County implements appointment system for collection events

Lincoln-Way Half Marathon offers virtual running option

Spring turkey hunting at the USDA Forest Service’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Orland Township receives Easter basket donation

And the newsletters:

Sign up for the Will County Go Guide

Sign up for the LocalLit Short Story Newsletter

Sign up for The Munsonville Times

Simons Mansion gingerbread house design and photo by Rebekah Baran