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[This is a post from Ruth’s brother, Dennis, who received a message about Ruth and wanted to pass along what it said.]
We have received a message written in tiny letters cut out of what appear to be elf magazines. (Also, we noticed a number of cookie crumbs in the folds, which confirms our hunch that the letter is authentic.)
The letter said that Ruth has been kidnapped, and that we are not to be alarmed, because it is apparently not a ransom kind of kidnapping — it is a benevolent kind of kidnapping, as far as kidnappings go.
It’s just that elves, who apparently like to work in secret, eventually at some point in the process want your full attention to check out their work.
In this case, they’ve been working on the Hazel Twigg website for weeks and it is almost ready. Finishing touches are being applied, and they promise to release Ruth once the end is in sight.
Until then, except for HazelTwigg.com website checks, they’re forcing Ruth to keep off the internet, which they say is making her a little shaky, but on the other hand, they point out that they have made available to Ruth an unlimited supply of baked goods, which helps.
The letter concludes by saying more info will be coming later and to not contact the authorities, or they will cut off Ruth’s supply of fudge-striped cookies.
As soon as we hear more, we will pass it along…
What’s tricky to define is Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway‘s intended audience. My answer? EVERYONE.
This is not a short picture book – and I can see why that impression might have been given. There are illustrations, after all. But, nope! It’s a chapter book with beautiful illustrations sprinkled throughout.
The word count (and since I’m still doing a few edits I don’t have the exact one yet) is around 66,000. For comparison:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: 77,325
Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe: 36,363
The Hobbit: 95,022
Treasure Island: 66,950
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: 30,644
You get the idea. Not as long as some, longer than others. Several different stories that are woven together. Hollyhock Hideaway is the first in a series of seven books.
I try to be objective when I read it and not, “Does this work?” and “How can I make this better?” but I do think it’s entertaining. And that even if you don’t like old dolls, and even if you aren’t a little girl, you will like this book. And hopefully laugh out loud. And maybe even cry a little (I did when I wrote it).
So, there you go! A few things!
P.S. Those elf donuts yesterday. Weren’t they the cutest things? They are CHEERIOS that have been decorated!
Ooh. OOH! Guess what? Guess what?! Like many of you, I am in the dark as to the technical aspect of this whole book thing. When it comes to stuff like that, I have not the brain.
So imagine my surprise when I went to hazeltwigg.com to see if there was anything new – and I spied something.
A chink! A chink in the blackboard!!
And being only human, I peeked! And this is what I saw:
Turns out, things aren’t as technical as I thought. Elves. ELVES!!! There are elves building the website!
I could not help myself. I cried out, “A-HAH!”
And they saw me.
Now, I don’t care how big you are, or how little elves are, when a hundred or so of the creatures come charging at you, you get Scared. Fortunately for me, it takes a long time for those little legs to get any distance. Thinking quickly and luckily wearing black (those of you who know me know that there’s no “luck” about it. I ALWAYS wear black.) I thrust my shoulder against the hole, concealing it completely. I could hear their frustrated cries.
“Where’d the hole go?” “Where’s the hole?” their high-pitched voices shouted. “We have been BREACHED! Halt! Halt the labor!”
This would not do. I needed those elves to be on my side. Hickory Fig & the Twiggly Poos, I could just imagine their revenge. Needing to act fast, I ripped out a chunk of my already shabby black t-shirt and stuffed it into the hole. And I got to work.
Knowing that elves like baked goods* and being quite the baker myself, it wasn’t long before I was once more standing before the compromised blackboard, my peace offering in my hands. Taking a deep breath, I removed the tattered black rag from the hole.
Instantly, I heard their cries again. They had apparently posted little watch elves to man the back of the blackboard and so were ready and waiting. I quickly thrust my offering (which barely fit, but it did) through the hole.
For a moment there was near silence as the elves surprisingly and politely passed the little box around. Especially when they saw that there were more boxes to come (I baked extra, just to be sure).
After the dozenth box I put my eye to the hole again and begged, “Can I please watch what you’re doing?”
The elves, their little bellies little no more, regretfully shook their heads. “Now, Ruth,” an elf with black hair and a red beard said (he must have recognized my eye!), “You know that we elves can only work in secret, and only when no one is watching. So I’m sorry and thank you for the donuts, but we’re going to have to patch up that hole.”
Even as the words came out of his mouth, two belching elves (it smelled like donuts, thankfully!) had climbed atop tall ladders and with bright green paint they were marking the hole to be repaired, lest they lose the spot again, I figured. Through the crowd beyond I saw a huge bolt of black fabric being passed forward, that surprisingly got smaller as it got closer. By the time it made its way up the ladder, I could see it was just large enough to cover the hole.
“WAIT!” I cried as those industrious elves got to work, gluing and stapling. “Can’t you at least tell me when you might be finished?”
Through the tiny corner that hadn’t yet been sealed I could hear a high-pitched murmuring. It suddenly stopped. A small mouth appeared, white powdered sugar still visible all around it, and said, “Next week. We hope. Barring interruptions,” the sticky mouth said pointedly. And then, zip! The rest of the hole was sealed.
So. Next week. I’ll be good, I promise. Because when the website is completed, that’s when finally, finally, the first chapters will be released. Free. And we can see if this dog will hunt. Of course it will! As sure as elves like baked goods (that is my hope!).
And now! And now! Without further ado, I present to you the book cover debut!
Click to Enlarge (<-This does NOT count as “ado”)
This cover’s gone through a few changes, but nothing major. More bats, more eyeliner (for me, I like a good “cat eye”) more darkness in the back, no mustache on Maxwell…Hmm…maybe the changes weren’t major to ME because I didn’t have to do them! Nina on the other hand…bless her heart, she works hard. We’re so thankful to have her.
Hope you enjoy!
As I wait for tomorrow’s Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway front cover’s debut, I’m going over the last of the tweaking for the coming release of the prologue and first two chapters of the book, along with never before seen artwork for those chapters!
‘Tis a nifty thing, this online book software, with pages that turn easily even on my sometimes slow computer. Not like the Target store ads of old, where I would curse early on a Sunday morning, “C’mon, TURN!” because the pages wouldn’t cooperate. Nope! These pages flip with a click and a satisfying crackle. Hopefully they’ll lead you to want to hold the actual book in your very own two hands.
One of the buggaboos of having brothers who live one hour behind your time is that I can’t ask them right this second when I can reveal the first of the story’s chapter release dates.
So there’s that, and so I won’t. But I know. And soon you will too.
It’s HERE! Well, almost. But the time is finally arriving! The beginning of the beginning, the release of the book, starting with…the COVER for Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway!
This Wednesday, July 24, the full color cover will be released. Those of you who happened to be at Greater Rolfe Days and got a flyer have seen it already, albeit in a small version that doesn’t do justice to the vibrancy of the art. And to the rest! To the rest. Completely New!
Featured are all the main characters of the book, from Maxwell to Marlene, from Smith to Jones, from Hazel to Elizabeth, to Dot and Betty and even yours truly. And Robert. Let us not forget him. Or his friends. Gulp.
And so it begins.
Like much of the country, Iowa is in the grips of a heat wave – although it ends today! One thing I’m mindful of and that gives me comfort as I lay and broil is that heat has been around for a very long time!
My house turned 100 this year and I think of those before me who have survived summer’s swelter – and probably had to wear a lot more clothes than I do now, too. And who probably didn’t have ceiling fans, which I am rich in.
“You snore!” a nurse exclaimed one morning. “You and the guy in the room next to you. Sheesh!”
I’d forgotten. After all, I’ve been alone for awhile. It’s not like my dog Teddy would ever say anything.
With the nurse’s declaration, for a split second I was transported back to Girl Scout Camp when I was 11 or 12, the very first time I’d learned that tidbit of information about myself. My family had recently moved to this small town in Southern Utah from Hawaii and I was desperately trying to fit in. It was a tricky transition.
“It was RUTH!” several scouts answered in unison.
I was mortified. I said the first thing that came to mind: “Nuh-uh!”
Surely snoring is one of the worst traits for a girl to have, especially at that age when you’re trying to blossom into a young and attractive lady.
For the next two nights at camp I tried very hard not to fall asleep, doing my best to contort myself in a way that there would be no snoring. I lay on my stomach and tried to tuck my formidable chin onto my shoulder as firmly as I could, keeping my teeth clamped together and wrapping my opposite arm around my head to hold it into position. All to no avail.
“Ruth was snoring again! Ruth snores! Ruth snores!”
When it comes to snoring, I have never met my feminine equal. Throughout my life, all the commercials for snoring solving are geared towards men! Men snore, not women! Even going to Google Images this morning. I typed in “Snoring” and 99% of the images are of course men!
It’s only been the past few years that I’ve not only accepted this fact of my femininity, I’ve embraced it.
So, “You snore!” one of the nurses at the hospital exclaimed.
“Why, yes. Yes I do,” I proudly replied. “I am my father’s daughter.”
PROOF. Because, my DAD! He is the King of Snorers! And I am his heir apparent(ly)! The Princess of Snorers, one might say.
I know with every fibre of my being that my father is one of the best men to walk this earth and I am so very lucky that he is my Dad. I will claim whatever trait of him that I can, anytime, anywhere. I’ll shout it from the rooftops! I’ll yodel it from the alps!
I SNORE! I SNORE!! I SNORE!!!
Perhaps it’s the medication, but there are strange hallucinations afoot. For example, all through my stay at the hospital, and even here at home, I’ve been wearing what I think of as The Corset.
Because of my dainty state, ‘tis not one of those lace up ones where you have to hold onto a handy tall bed bannister whilst your lady’s maid or mother or mammy ties you in, (“Eighteen inches! It’s just got to be eighteen inches!), instead it’s a modern contraption that uses velcro and fuzz.
In the hospital it would take two nurses at first, one on either side two hold and fasten the two halves together, and later I would helpfully hold one side. I was pretty out of it, I confess, so when I actually SAW the thing unfurled, scrolling to the ground, I had a moment like this:
What the – ?!
I’ve often related to this somewhat inappropriate yet wildly appropriate scene from “Shallow Hal.”
“This shirt!” I will say to myself, “It’s HUGE. How could it possibly fit me?!” only to have said shirt fit quite nicely.
Or when it comes to my lovely visage: “Wrinkles? What wrinkles?! I haven’t changed a bit!”
In the movie, Hal has had a spell cast on himself, where he only sees the true beauty of things. This explains his surprise at his gorgeous slender girlfriend’s humongous undies.
Aren’t I lucky that I seem to have had a similar spell cast on myself?
Shouldn’t we all, especially when it comes to ourselves? Life is hard enough as it is! Therefore, I shall continue.
*She walks in beauty,
like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies
And all that ‘s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes
In my mind, at least. Which in some ways is all that matters.
*Poem by Lord Byron