By: Denise M. Baran-Unland



Herald News Article

Even as a child, I preferred books that had illustrations with a sense of realism. And so did my children.

Unfortunately, a lot of children’s books today, especially those that are self-published, have illustrations with a “cartoony” look that doesn’t appeal to me.

So the fact the illustrations in “Mouse in the House: For the Love of Peanut Butter” by J.L. Callison of Aura were beautiful grabbed my curiosity and persuaded me to read the story, which is absolutely charming and reminiscent of (but nowhere near identical to) “If You Give a Mouse A Cookie.”

Here is its Amazon’s description: “A hungry mouse trying to get peanut butter from a trap is thrown to the table, chased by Cat, and swatted at by Father hides in Mother’s dress in the pandemonium that has Baby clapping in glee. Children and adults will laugh and cringe along with the escapades of Mouse in this delightful story illustrated by the talented Donna J Setterlund.”

Now about the price. Oftentimes, self-published children’s books that are printed “on demand” cost way more than their traditional counterparts – especially when they’re printed in hardcover.

But at $16.74 on Amazon, the hardcover version of “Mouse in the House: For the Love of Peanut Butter,” is fairly close to other children’s books from traditional publishers, which were around the $14.99 mark.

The softcover price was $11.99 on Amazon, which is high, when these can sell for $6.99 or so. For this reason, along with durability, I recommend the hardcover version

For a couple dollars more, you’ll get a delightful story that kids will want to read (or have you read) over and over again – and one that will hold up to all the page turnings.


Each week LocalLit will deliver an original short and family-friendly story or book review by a local author to the newsletter’s subscribers.

Stories should be edited and between 1,000 and 7,500 words. Featured authors will be spotlighted before the newsletter runs.


To submit, call Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-280-4122 or email




Chapter One – Circle of Life

 It is almost impossible to tell a story about the life of Mothers and do it with the respect and gratitude they deserve. Expressions about the circle of a mother’s life are inspiring and can tough the magical spirit of women and their incredible journey with motherhood.

This little book features expressive images, rhythmic rhyme, inspirational quotes, and expressions, to explore the lives of women

From the Author Illustrator

My life has been full of the ups and downs that come along with living on this earth. I have written and illustrated many children’s books over the years but my love for creating inspirational expressions is my true passion. I love to write in rhythmic rhyme and let the words dance, writing what I feel as letters fall on my paper by chance. Life is full of magic, inspiration, and little bits of serendipity, so I create with my heart and soul, about the world that “I” see. I have always loved Norman Rockwell because he reflects images of the American culture in his art. The illustrations in this little book were created from my own memories of everyday life and bits and pieces of the incredible world around me. Hopefully they will bring a smile or stimulate a happy memory for you. Any resemblance to actual persons, places, or situations is entirely coincidental, unless you are part of my real life family. I am who I am because of everyone who has touched my world, all the experiences we have shared, and I am thankful for each and every encounter.


There are many symbols that represent a Mother,

Tree of Life, spiral seashells, all different from the other.

It is difficult to put in words what a mother represents,

because there are so many types, the list is quite immense.

There are moms, stepmothers, and foster-mothers too,

adoptive mothers, and grandmothers, just to name a few.

Then we can’t forget mentor moms and mothers-in-law,

part-time moms, stand-in-mothers, to all we say hurrah.

Each of these are different yet they are much the same.

They share the same adventure, no matter what their name.

A mother’s influence is immeasurable to all who take part.

They benefit from the experience and feel it in their heart.

Mothers have a special magic that help us learn and grow,

with good advice to guide us everywhere we may go.

This book has been created to honor all these amazing women and to remind them of all the special things that make them mothers.

4.  5. 

Motherhood – What Is A Mother

In our busy world of today

a mother does more than work and play.

She loves unconditionally right from the start,

as she holds her baby so close to her heart.

Mothers teach us lessons that we need to know,

so we can do the right things wherever we go.

She helps us learn manners and say the right things,

so we can be confident with whatever life brings.

She’s a nurturer, a healer, and a homemaker too,

a chauffeur and manager, to just name a few.

Moms are there to hug us when things go wrong.

She helps us make choices so we can grow strong.

Mothers are gentle and patient to guide us with care

or when it is needed strong words will be there.

A mother’s love can not be weighed or measured,

and all that she does should always be treasured.

What is a mother? What can she be?

Well …… my Mother is the entire world to me.

6.  7.

Enjoy the little things in life, because one day you will look back, and realize they were the big things.

Life – A Lifetime of Love

Life is an opportunity we only get one time.

It is a mouth full of words we can make into rhyme.

Eyes full of visions, excited and waiting to see

the stories of wonderment created by you and me.

Life is an adventure we travel from day to day.

Full of obstacles and challenges in work and in play.

Every journey has a beginning, an in-between, and an end,

down a road made of experience that we cannot unbend.

As we continue to move forward changing as we grow,

we move through life’s stages, adapting as we go.

We grow from infant to child, then on to a pre-teen,

next a young adult, and the magical age of eighteen.

Choices should be made with thought and common sense.

Because they can not be changed and have consequence.

Believe in your dreams and try to do your best.

Fill your world with smiles and you will be blessed.

All our lives are different, no two of them the same,

yet, one thing they have in common, including the name.

   We all have a mother, whose presence is everywhere.

Her lessons and influence will always be there.

You have this life because of your mother.

Respect her precious gift like no other.

Make your story one to be proud of.

Fill it with good memories and Live a lifetime of love.

8.  9.

CHAPTER TWO – Coming Soon



Author Unknown        Posted By: Donna J Setterlund


A couple went for a cruise tour to enjoy their private honeymoon while leaving their children at home. Unfortunately, the cruise ship was sinking due to catastrophic weather condition. The couple finally made their way to the lifeboat area but there was only space for one person left. The man jumped onto the lifeboat, leaving his wife on the sinking ship…
The wife stood on the sinking ship and shouted to her husband saying…

The teacher paused the above story and asked her students in the classroom, “Let us guess. What do you think she shouted to her husband?”
Most students answered altogether: “I hate you! I was blinded by love!”
The teacher noticed that there was a student who sat quietly and asked him. The student answered, “Teacher, I believe she would have shouted – Take care of our children!”
The teacher was shocked and asked: “Have you heard this story before?”
The student shook his head and said, “Nope, but before my mother passed away to disease, she told my father the exact same words!”
The teacher was amazed and praised: “Your answer is excellent!”
The cruise sunk and the man returned home and brought up their children single-handedly.
Many years later after the death of the man, their daughter who had been accusing her father found her father’s diary while tidying his belongings, and she found out the truth.

It turns out that when her parent went onto the cruise ship, the mother was already diagnosed with an incurable disease. During the crucial moment on the sinking ship, her father rushed to the only space left on the lifeboat. He wrote in his diary, “I wanted to sink with you together on the sinking cruise. But for our children, I could only let you sink alone into the deep cold ocean bed.”
The daughter burst into tears after reading this diary.

The teacher finished the story and the whole class went silent.
The teacher knew that her students had understood the moral of the story that she wanted to pass on to them. In this world there are good and evil. Sometimes the situation could be very complicated and indistinguishable of good and bad. So, we must not jump to conclusion easily and look at the surface only. We must not make hasty decision or assumption without any attempt of investigation or using our critical thinking. We must not judge others without understanding them first. We shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.




We have a new critter on the ranch. We call him Little Hoot. He has decided Cliff”s Shop is a good place to hide out during the day. We have heard him at night for a couple of weeks but only found him in the shop three days ago. He is only about 6″ tall and is so cute. I have heard it is good luck having an owl adopt you. Sure hope so. If nothing else it is fun to see him quietly sitting in different spots in the shop. Welcome to our ranch Little Hoot.

Update on Little Hoot   9/08/2019

It has been almost a month since I wrote the above story about our Little Hoot. Every morning I would check to see if he was still in the shop. Although he tried very hard to find secret places to sleep without being seen, he would always respond to being called. “Hoot, hoot, hoot!” I would quietly call out trying not to scare him. Looking around the rafters of the shop checking all his favorite places, a little head would pop up, or around the edge of a box, eyes big and bright as if he was glad to see us. My husband Cliff even started calling him and it was always fun to know he had returned from his night outside hunting. He got really brave and would let us get a couple of feet away from him, as long as we talked softly and didn’t move to quickly.

We learned a lot about owls this last month with our grandson Cameron sharing owl facts. Did you know owls throw up owl balls created buy the bones or pieces of whatever they ate. We had a large wasp problem when Hoot first started living with us, and mice that were getting into the dog food, and making messes all over the shop. Needless to say, we don’t have even one wasp or mouse left in the shop.

With all the great eat’ins gone, Hoot has left us as well. Two days without him returning has created an empty place, not only in the shop but in our hearts. We both hope he will come back again, possibly with a mate.

Be safe Little Hoot. We miss you.


By: Nancy Blakley Henderson


Well now, this is something new from me. Not long ago, I wrote a blog called The Cedar Chest. I enjoyed writing the blog so much that I have decided to expand this blog, making it into a book called The Cedar Chest. This is the first chapter. Let me know what you think.

My Name is Cedar Chest

Cedar Chest is the name given to me by my crafter, although there are many different names that I might have had.

Some of the words people say when referring to me are Hope Chest, Dowry Chest, Trousseau Chest, Glory Box, or Bottom Drawer. Thinking it depends on once crafted, where and who one ends up with as to what name given.

Of course, it does not matter what name a chest has because it does not change the job that it was crafted to do. Speaking of being crafted, I do not know the person who did that. My first memory feeling is that of being gently rubbed with something soft, which had a lovely clean smell and placed into something without any light. One day, suddenly there was light again, and I was in a large room. Once again, a person rubbed me with a soft cloth, and the sweet clean smell returned, but this time there was talking.

The words heard about me were fascinating. Things like cedar wood lines my inner walls, floor, and top. Evidently, this enables me to take care of the precious treasures that my person(s) chose to put inside me. My job is absolutely a special one which must be very serious. Also, I have a lid that opens and closes tightly. Another thing heard by me, I am beautiful with a top that rounds down in front, and there are handcrafted corners which look like small draped curtains.

One day, the lights went out again as someone wrapped me in a blanket. How do I know it was a blanket because the person wrapping me up said it was. After only a short time, the lights came on, and I was in a new place. Again, the soft rubbing began accompanied by the sweet smell, and the rubbing thing made me feel fantastic.

Suddenly the rubbing stopped, my top opened, and soft things placed inside my walls. It seemed that all of these things had different textures and shapes, but that did not matter to me because this was my first job. I would keep these treasures safe and prove myself worthy.

Periodically, my lid opened, and one of my persons placed new treasures inside of me. All these items were different, but all were important and special. Warmth and laughter filled my surroundings, and many times, the soft rubbing of me and sweet smell comforted me. Of course, sometimes the light would go out again as another blanket wrapped around me, and when unwrapped I was once again in a new place, but my familiar voices were there with me.

One day while all of the voices were silent in my place, the room got hot, and a dense gray filled the air with an awful smell then loud sounds were heard all around me. Also, many shouting voices filled the space around me, and fear nearly overcame me! I held tightly to the treasures that were inside me knowing my job was to keep them safe and that awful smell out. Finally, the heat, the dense grayness surrounding me, and the loud voices left. Lots of fresh, clean air surrounded me, which helped me to relax and calm down because I knew my treasures were safe.

Soon, the rubbing and clean sweet smell returned then a blanket wrapped around me, putting out the light, but as it unwrapped, a new place surrounded me, and the voices around me were the same. Occasionally, a different sound entered my surroundings and became another one of my voices. I began to know these voices as my people and decided there were two kinds, boys and girls, because of hearing those two words to describe them.

Many times a blanket wrapped me, and when unwrapped, I sat in a different place with my boys and girls who would always refer to these different places as homes, so now I do too. Seven people lived in my house, two girls and five boys. The funny thing about those boys, periodically their voices changed by getting deeper, although sometimes squeaking a little. Only one of the boys had always had a deep voice, and they called him Dad or Daddy.

One day, I heard one of the girls referred to me as a Hope Chest. The other girl thanked that girl then called her Mom. The Mom told the girl that she was a young woman now, and could store her unique treasures inside me. My lid opened, then the Mom and young woman removed everything residing inside of me before closing my lid. Well, this made me very nervous and made me wondered what was going on. After all, it was my job to take care of those treasures which were no longer inside of me.

Soon, I felt a different kind of rubbing, which was not very comfortable, but for the first time, the young woman talked to me. She told me that she was sorry that I was in the fire when their home burned, but she would fix me. When the uncomfortable rubbing finally stopped, I felt a gentle rubbing again, but not with the sweet smell. My young woman told me that she was going to paint me an antique blue then put her treasures inside my cedar lined walls, but first, she had to wash my exterior. She seemed so happy and excited then soon she was singing, which made me happy and delighted too.

My young woman loved music, and she sang a lot, but the thing I liked most about her was her laughter.

It did seem like it took her a long time to finish making me antique blue, but she told me that I was going to be beautiful. Liking her a lot made it easy for me to trust that she would soon be through making me very beautiful, although thinking handsome was a better word for me, but not sure why.

I could not wait to see what treasures my young woman would store inside of me and kept thinking if she would quit shuffling her feet around the room while the music played, that she might get done faster, but while doing the shuffling she laughed and sang the whole time, so it made me feel good too.

For a couple of days, the young woman did not touch me, but she talked to me telling me that my paint must dry. Then one day, she took something soft and rubbed me while saying that she would take great care of me, and I would always be with her forever and ever. The sweet smell returned with her every rub; then she opened my lid.

As she placed her treasures inside of my cedar walls, my young girl asked me to please take care of her priceless keepsakes, and she told me about each one of them. One of her unique treasures was her first corsage given to her by someone called Daddy. Once it was no longer wearable, she had pressed it between two sheets of wax paper placed inside the pages of her Bible. Knowing about each of her treasures held inside my walls made me feel even more loving and protective of her, of course, I mean her keepsakes me being only her Hope Chest.

My young woman talks to me, and nobody else ever has.

<<<< Blog | Next Chapter >>>>


By: Donna J Setterlund


A young man on AGT named Joseph Allen, was asked why he wanted to be on the show. “I see myself as someone who can make a major impact in the world and I just want to see how much of a footprint I can leave on Earth before I leave,” he said before performing a ballad-rap fusion.

Howie Mandel responded. “From the moment you walked out, your smile is electric. You walked out with such exuberance, and that’s what life is,” Mandel told Allen. “Life is a series of moments, people at home are talking about this moment. People in this room are talking about this moment.”

As Mandel rose to his feet, he climbed on top of the judges’ table before stepping on the Golden Buzzer with his foot. “You said you want to leave a footprint, well I’m going to give you the footprint you need,” he said before pushing the coveted button.

Wow! That is quite a statement from today’s youth. I understand Allen’s comment completely and praise him for taking the initiative to make such a positive footprint.

I too, feel like I can make a major impact in the world and I know I have helped several children, students, and even a few adults become better individuals. When we encourage each other, contribute positive information, and do as many little things as we can to help others, it all adds up to one big footprint.



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Copyright 2019 – Donna J. Setterlund        Zontoria Productions, Cottonwood, CA 96022


By: Donna J Setterlund


Real Life is the foundation for everything I create. When I started my book writing adventure I didn’t know that was what I was doing but this serendipity world of mine had a way of presenting situations and possibilities. Sometimes they were a bit extreme but they did offer thought provoking circumstance.

Sharing my real world with personal intimate things about myself has always been hard for me. Growing up was difficult to say the least, yet being a child forced to become an adult way to early, helped shape the person I am. Strong, independent, and unstoppable are the words that come to mind as I describe myself. There may be a few more adjectives that others would use, but this is my blog, not theirs.

When my real world was totally ripped apart and broken in the 1992 Humboldt County earthquakes, I was forced to face obstacles and adversities that I previously did not know existed. Losing our home, most of our personal possessions and becoming homeless was a challenge beyond compare. Not having a home, our children were invited to live with other family and friends. I think losing my children was the hardest of all. It still brings tears to my eyes. Forced into making some tough decisions and facing what seemed to be 0 odds, the sun continued to come up every morning and life went on, one day at a time. 

Having the time to recover and redesign my life, I needed to relax and work on the enormous stress each day brought. I started painting as therapy and magic took over my brush. Enchanting creatures danced onto my canvas as ideas and stories intertwined fantasy and reality. My first painting was a child with long red hair sitting beside a unicorn. My mother said the little girl looked like me as a child so I named her Jeannie which is what my grandpa called me. I call the painting “Jeannie’s Dream.”

Jeannie became a tool for me to start working through my problems and I always had her close by to share concerns and wishes. It is incredible to be able to talk with your younger self. And the amazing part of this new concept was that Jeannie could go anywhere, do anything, and actually help me make sense of my real life. Everything in my world started to change for the better.


Copyright 2019 – Donna J. Setterlund

  Zontoria Productions, Cottonwood, CA 96022

By: Donna J Setterlund

This serendipity world I live in keeps presenting surprises, and yesterday I was blessed with an extraordinary one. Several months ago a very special neighbor and friend told me, “You need to connect with Chuck Bartok.”  So, I contacted Chuck to introduce myself. This last Saturday we started playing message tag on FB and it took a couple days for us to coordinate our schedules to talk on the phone. It was one of those conversations that takes your world and shakes it to attention. I was invited to join a group of authors and entrepreneurs to participate on Chuck’s call in Podcast at Talk, You Can Build It, Your Business. Episode #429. Hope I got all that correct.

As directed, I joined the group and listened as bits of information were shared and discussed. Then Chuck introduced me to the group and started explaining some of the many things I have done and presently doing. As he talked and questions were asked, I felt a flow of hope and excitement.  It was like helping hands reaching out, wrapping my world with the strength and support of those who have been there and are willing to share what they have learned. I could feel a possible solution to my ongoing struggle with becoming a successful author/illustrator. Yes, internet self-publishing has opened the doors for anyone to publish a book. However, now with millions of new authors coming into the book world, it is almost impossible to get noticed. It’s like an invisible wall letting you see where you want to be but you can’t find the door. The creative side of producing and publishing books has always been joyful and rewarding, while the marketing and promotion side, is the beast that keeps me locked in the cage of the unknown author. A key was offered to me yesterday and all I need to do now is to listen, learn, and get to work.

I want to thank everyone who offered advice or shared their stories and I look forward to a continued relationship with my exciting group of new friends. I would like to start promoting those who are helping me and will learn the proper way of this type of promotion. Hopefully Chuck can help me with this process.  Please just ask if I can do anything to help with cover designs or illustrations. Visual communications is my specialty and I love helping other achieve their dreams.

Thank you, Chuck and everyone who participated, for an extra ordinary day.




Copyright 2019 – Donna J. Setterlund

  Zontoria Productions, Cottonwood, CA 96022

By: Donna J Setterlund

Many years ago when I started on my writing adventure, I friend gave me a little sticker which I put on the front of my amazing new computer. Although that old black& white Apple is gone, the sticker with its message remains. 

“Believe, and all things are possible”

I have read this message every day since 1988. Yes, that makes me a bit older than most, however I truly believe age is only a number, and as far as I’m concerned I will remain forever young. This is in part credited to “Jeannie.” I’ll let her explain.

“Hi, my name is Jeannie. I am here to tell you a little bit of Donna’s story. Just in case you don’t know, I was the first character she created. Donna’s idol was Walt Disney, and even as a child, she was drawn to his ways of coping with life’s craziness and his inner conflicts. He had a mouse to talk with. Donna has me; so, I guess that makes it okay for me to try to explain things, because Donna has trouble talking about herself. I think the hardest part of life is the feeling of being alone, as we search to find our own answers. The idea that no one really understands what we are going through makes things harder. Each of us should be able to find someone to talk with but most of us are afraid or just don’t know where to look. The worst is when we never have anyone to talk to. I became Donna’s voice, and a communication tool, to help her speak to herself, to ask questions, and to find her own questions and answers, which in the end are many people’s questions and answers. It just happened that when other people read these simple stories, they ran into “themselves” there and accidentally gained a little hope and insight for their own lives. Donna really liked that the stories might help others to find themselves through these simple worlds, and she decided to share these worlds with others.” 

Believe, and all things are possible. These words helped me find my younger self which restored my inner child and showed me how to look at life through a different light. I hope you can find your inner child and have fun again.




Copyright 2019 – Donna J. Setterlund

  Zontoria Productions, Cottonwood, CA 96022