March, 2013

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Paris, London, New York… IOWA?

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Can you not HEAR the angels SINGING?!

Throughout my childhood and life I’ve lived in several different states in this great country of ours – including Hawaii! – and I never really thought of Iowa one way or the other. If I were to challenge myself to write down all fifty states, it might not even had made the list.

“Hmm….” I would wonder to myself. “Which one am I missing? Delaware? No…”

But, Iowa! The minute I drove over the border from Missouri to help my sister look at a house she’d found online, the Magic of Iowa – that’s right, the magic of Iowa — enveloped me like a warm, fuzzy with natural fibers blanket of enchantment. I mean, just look at it!

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Lost Dolls: Eager Elsie

Each Thursday (or thereabouts) I’ll be featuring another doll or two. These are the Lost Dolls, dolls that come through my house to be gently restored and redressed so that they can go where they are needed most and where they will be loved again. While I work on them, they tell me their stories of where they’ve been. Of course, I only have their word for it. But would a doll lie?


Meet Elsie

“Eager Elsie,” we called her for short. “Eager, excited, can’t-wait-for-my-new-life Elsie,” when all is said and done.

Bless her heart, she was hidden away for so long that when her chance came for a new life, she was in such a hurry to get here that she kicked herself in the head! Right by her eye, to be exact!

As you might be able to guess, she’s an earlier composition doll – noted by her tin eyes and human hair wig – so in her defense it had been a very long time that she’d been without companionship, hidden away in the closet of a house that was closed up for years and years. When dolls are tucked away, they go dormant, so I wouldn’t feel TOO badly for her. But I can certainly understand her eagerness to be loved again.

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A Place Called Iowa

In addition to characters that we can love, the second thing a good book needs is a place. A setting. I have always loved small towns – which to me meant 15,000 people or so. I remember road trips in California and Montana and Idaho and driving past dinky little towns in the middle of nowhere with a population of 1,203 and I would feel so sorry for the people and think, “Who would ever want to live in a town that size? And why would anyone EVER want to move there?”

So when my sister and best friend asked me to meet her in a tiny town in in the middle of nowhere in Iowa to check out a house she found online, my first thought was, “Yay! We’ll live close to one another – only seven hours apart!”

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Lost Dolls: Meet Alice

As I’ve written in my upcoming book, “Hazel Twigg and the Hollyhock Hideaway,” SEVERAL dolls have passed through these gates. Alas, all of them cannot be featured in the book itself, but they still deserve some sort of mention and this seems as good a place as any. I’ll highlight a doll or two every week! Here goes.




There was a little girl,

Who had a little curl,

Right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good,

She was very good indeed,

But when she was bad she was horrid.

Do you see that? Do you SEE that curl?! I think this little stinker put that there HERSELF. That, or Mother Nature! Because it wouldn’t budge. And after the niceties and the brief honeymoon were over, I can see why! This sweet little thing – Alice, her name was. I still wake up screaming – became a monster!

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Hazel & Me

If you could write any story you wanted to write, something you would enjoy reading, what would it be? For me it would involve things I love. I would intertwine fact with fiction – and sometimes what is fact and what is fiction might be just the opposite of what you’d expect.

I’ve been collecting composition dolls for a long time. These are dolls from the 1920s to the ’40s or so, the first inexpensive dolls that nearly everyone could afford because they were made of sawdust and glue. These dolls speak to me. Literally. They tell me their stories and beg me for clothes and ask me to make them presentable once again so that someone new can love them. Some of them are quite picky; choosing fabrics can take almost as long as sewing their dresses and coats. Some of these dolls have years of grime on them. One poor girl even survived a fire!

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