October, 2013

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A…BOUT and a Teaser, Two Bits!

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My Wizard brother Dennis has been at it again (I think he just likes to think of me in that dark, cold closet, trying not to drop my muffling pillow whilst holding the flashlight and my tablet contraption).

HERE is the teaser for Chapter 4, Stuffed:

Ta-dah! THANK YOU, Dennis!

And now…About Chapter 4 The Appointment.

wonkapigThere really isn’t too much of my own personal life in Chapter 4. All except for the name of Marlene’s perfume, Fleur de Cochon. As many of you may or may not know, I come (quite proudly) from a Mormon background and both my brothers happened to serve missions in French speaking countries, one in Haiti and one in Canada.

Of course they taught their dear sister some French! It was a single, elegant line (I’m going to type this phonetically):

Je ne suis pa pate cochon!

I mastered it beautifully until it rolled off my tongue as if I were a native. “What does it mean?” I delightedly asked.

“Um,” my elder brother replied, “It means ‘I am not a little pig’.”


So it may be a little juvenile on my part, but the English name of Marlene’s perfume is Flower of Pig.


From THIS…

wonkaThe other thing I want to say about writing or acting or any artistic endeavor that’s shared with the world is this: frequently I am reminded of that scene in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” where the Oompa Loompas take a giant candy bar and using Willy Wonka’s special camera, transport it over the air until it turns into a regular-size candy bar on your living room TV.


…to THIS little thing, right here!


“Muff a mishoo!”

That was a whole lotta chocolate for that one little thing!

Art is like that, I think. A lot goes into it in the fervent hope that by the time it gets to you there might be something substantial enough to entertain you when it enters your brain. That is my hope, anyway! Chocolate! Chocolate for ALL!

I had an absolute hoot writing this chapter with Maxwell and Marlene. A giant candy bar’s worth! I hope you at least get a mouthful of chocolate out of the deal.

Tomorrow’s Nina vs. Ruth battle will be an especially good one. Hope you tune in!

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So! Tell me about your life…

Vamp2Wednesday’s I consider to be Vamp days as I give it a little time for those of you who are reading Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway to read the newly released chapter.

Therefore, I present to you the progress on my newest creature – even though the OLD creatures currently on my porch are more and more falling prey to the wind and lack of anchoring! Such is the challenge of living on the north end of town, with very little to block the ever-so-gentle Iowa breeze. Not to mention that duct tape doesn’t stick so well in cold. Repairs are needed! Repairs are coming! But first:


Granted, I haven’t been working on him industriously, just a little bit of time here and there, but he’s coming along!


His hat is a fortuitously empty oatmeal box, and his monocle is a less-than-fortuitously empty minced garlic lid. I think I may come to regret that…Then again, when he’s stored in the attic later, it might keep the vampire bats at bay.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFiring up the ol’ glue gun reminds me of the very first Halloween costume Adam and I worked on together. It’s one of my very favorite memories, sitting there at the dining room table, holding the sheets of foam in place as we waited for hot glue to cool.

Sometimes we would get quiet as we focused on the task at hand, and then one or the other of us would say, based on a recent episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants, “So! Tell me about your life….”













For some reason, this caused us both to laugh! The wonderful kind of laugh that doesn’t come along every day. The laughter that’s borne from more than the humor of the moment, it’s powered by pure love and that joyful sense of well-being that all is right in the world.

I love that kind of laughter.

Tomorrow: About Chapter 11


Premiere and A Chilly Surrender

Suzanne Rindell's The Other Typist has the right ingredients, but the resultant cocktail is 'bland aC-c-can’t t-t-t-type, too cold…KIDDING!

Mere HOURS after resolutely typing my vow yesterday morning on that photo of the third daughter from Fiddler on the Roof that said, “I will NOT turn my heat on until November,” I caved. Oh yes, I did! Otherwise, how’s a writer to write? How’s a seamstress to sew a straight line if she’s shivering?

It’s bad enough that my eyes are going…


Hee! I saw the above on Pinterest and laughed out loud  – or “LOL”d for you whippersnappers. I’m old school! I believe this fellow’s name is Gollum from “Lord of the Rings.” Crafter humor!

My twin Julie and I realized: with the highs for the week in the upper ’50’s, and the lows in the lower ’30s, the writing was on the wall. And the frost was nearly on the pumpkin. Good thing the Palooza was day before yesterday! We turned on our heat, practically in unison.

coldwozniak1sIt was time.

And speaking of time (you’ll see what I mean when you read the next chapter. I swear, I’m the master of the segue, which should be spelled “segway,” like that two wheel contraption, but nobody listens to me), tonight, a midnight!

Chapter 11 The Appointment

One of my favorites. Stay toasty!




It’s getting mighty frosty here in Iowa, as it is I’m sure in other places too! Last night I found myself singing “Anatevka” from Fiddler on the Roof as I took my dog Teddy out for one more break before going to bed. I looked the part, all bundled up with my trusty scarf wrapped ’round my head. Not unlike today’s gallery image (to the right, above).

We went to Spencer’s Pumpkin Palooza at the correct time and date yesterday and it was as GLORIOUS as hoped for! More so! An excellent time was had by all. I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR. I can finally reveal my TRUE self. >>>>>



I don’t know WHY people always get Julie and I confused. Just because we’re both blonde! And have the same pointy chins! And always wear black!


<<<<< There’s the young man himself – SPENCER – behind my sister Julie and my brother-in-law Scott. Spencer was so helpful and industrious.

frostpddA-HAH! See? When you go on the right day, there are others in the patch! There were still more riding the horse drawn carriage, and having their faces painted, and eating chili and perusing the bake sale…FALL. Is it no wonder that it’s my favorite? Next to WINTER.

As for the “history” referred to in the title, I confess to you that it is hard putting myself out there. It’s easy enough to risk failure when no one you know is looking, but difficult to purposely go out and invite friends (and I hope we are) to watch you. In this venture of writing this book and all that it entails, my job is to Put Myself Out There. Up to and including when I list my worked upon dolls on ebay. And while I am at times “out there” (or so I’m told), I’m not naturally inclined to be Out There/out there. Know what I mean? Of course you do.

Included with each doll that I send out into the world will be this lovely certificate put together by my brother, Dennis. On it, I would write down the name of the doll, the number, and the date.



ACK! You’re going to think I wear the same thing all the time! Secretly, I do. But if you look closely, this is a DIFFERENT striped scarf. So, HAH!

As always, he did a GREAT job.


Farewell, Dear Edith. I knew ye well.

Well, I listed my first doll. And I didn’t say a thing. Remember Poor Edith? She was snatched away in less than two hours! You can see her listing here.

It was a much needed boost to my confidence. I want you to know, I don’t expect all my girls to leave me so quickly. I also want you to know that this is a labor of love, I always experience a pang when I send them away. I also experience a pang when no one out there falls in love with them as I have!

Regardless, Lost Doll No. 1 has left the hideaway.

I’ll be listing Lost Doll No. 2 soon, I just want to add some beading to her cloak. Like Edith, she’s not my usual composition-type doll, she’s a Civil War era china head. Yes, I am slow, and yes, I will sometimes fail RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, but my heart is always in my work.

And THAT is the important thing.

Happy Columbus Day!


Chapter. 10. Nina! AGAIN!

Hmm….it occurs to me that I lied! Yes, I lied when I said that the drawing with the dead bat under the real estate flyer was the only drawing from the previous book that we would still be able to use.

There was also the following drawing:


You may notice that the style is a little bit different from the drawings now. This tale of Ruth’s 5th birthday was in the first book, as I mentioned yesterday, and that version of the book was a lot “fluffier” shall we say. So yes, there’s a difference in styles. I can’t seem to find my sketch of this illustration. Probably an art thief stole it.

For the next drawing, I’d given to options. The road not taken:

HT-024 Fairy Escortbl

Instead, we went with:

HT-024 Fairies At Lastb

Note the dancing potatoes! Luckily, Nina was able to reach into my brain and see what I meant:


Then, the last! I, um, must have been in some kind of hurry – but the idea was a simple one anyway:

HT-025 Farewell to Elizabethbl


HT_25-1Look at all the nuances in Ruth’s arm alone! Nina puts so much detail into everything.

This next photo will probably give most of you nightmares, but I have to show you Elizabeth, the doll this drawing is based upon, because Nina really nailed it:


As you can see, Elizabeth needs a lot of work. She has all of her eyelashes and her tin eyes aren’t rusted, which is good. However, her arms and legs are peeling, her human hair wig has grown a little thin over the years, and how she scraped the side of her nose, I’ll never know. But she’s a fairly rare doll, I find her beautiful, and I love her.

And we love Nina! That is all.

Have a great weekend!

About…Chapter 10

brownie_rowSecretly, I worry that telling too much about how a chapter comes about might be a bit like watching sausage being made. Or bacon! Bacon. A wonderful thing! But you don’t want to know too much about how it’s made. I need to find that fine balance…

Chapter 10 Present Past, begins with Ruth’s remembrance of her fifth birthday party when she received an unusual doll. This part is from the first book and based a lot on my own remembrance’s of those early days. The yearning to be able to hold up a whole hand to show how old you are! Not having to struggle to hold back any fingers to indicate three, or four. FIVE!

brown1For goodness’ sake! Now, if my hands were constantly wet and I indicated my age with showing fingers, I could put out a fire!

The next two remembrances were created for this new version, as well as a more fleshing out of Mrs. Hopkins.

I know that trying to discover the whereabouts of fairies and playing with dolls might seem unusual for a sixth grader who’s around 11 years old, but that was me! There were six out of the seven of us children living in a house in Cedar City, and I clearly remember being in my basement bedroom at the time, door closed, curtains drawn, playing with my dolls. Knowing that everyone else my age had stopped, but wanting to cling to the magic a little bit longer.

Even now I’m being blighted by brownies! Those mischievous creatures that pull pranks all day! Remember those extra newspapers that I’d taken from the “free” table at the post office for the fattening of my creature? Well, they disappeared! I noticed as I was passing through the kitchen where I have my card table set up to work on him in the evenings, wanting to have everything ready for when I worked on him again because now that I said I was making him, I had to finish him, but nope! GONE.

Then last night, right there on the wooden cutting board I use for my hot glue gun, there was that little stack! The newspapers appeared out of nowhere, when I’d already thoroughly searched. PROOF!

brownies1aEven if you don’t think you believe in the little blighters: when you have something disappear that reappears at a later time in a place that you’d thoroughly searched before, there is a very good chance that you have been the Victim of Brownies.

So if Brownies exist – and I have just proven that they do – can Fairies be far behind? NO! There. You now believe in Fairies. You. A full grown human. Welcome to my world!

Tomorrow, the Art of 10, Nina Strikes Again in the Past and the Present.

Bubble, Bubble, Toil’s No Trouble

In fact, sometimes toil is downright FUN.

As I patiently wait a day to give a little more time to read Chapter 10, Present Past, I’ll give you a glimpse into what I do in the evenings…

Once again this year, I’ve decided to make a new creature with leftover duct tape from critters past. This is not the first time. Every year, I’d like to make a new one and I’ve even gotten a good start – but I don’t always finish. Even as I type, there are a pair of legs in my basement that will never ride again. A creature riding a unicycle! Too ambitious! Lesson learned.

The inspiration(s) for this year’s attempt:

monherr1monpea             AND

I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with the guy on the right, Mr. Peanut, but do you know the guy on the left? The rabbit is Mr. Herriman from “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.” Adam and I loved that show! It ran from 2004 to 2009. The graphics were wonderful. They were so retro and in that way they bridged my childhood and his. Not unlike how Chapter 10 bridges the childhoods of Hazel and Ruth!

Lucky me that my son happened to be the right age at the right time, otherwise we might not have discovered this show.

The sketch (on the back of an envelope. I’ll grab whatever’s handy with a little blank space available when I draw):


The beginning (as it is right now):


I decided he’s not quite fat enough, so yesterday I picked up a few leftover newspapers from our local post office where my sister Julie works.

I’ve made his knees a little knobbier than the sketch with toilet paper rolls and wooden balls on dowel supports.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHis feet are two flat rocks I found at the back of my house with curled wires attached with hot glue and cardboard cones to assist in the transition from rock to wire.

Two things I hoard:


Chip board and wire hangers! I’m constantly afraid that they’ll no longer get manufactured! Sweet sister Julie saves the backs of paper tablets for me, and whenever I spot wire hangers at thrift stores, I pick them up. Because indeed, last time I saw wire hangers at a department store, they were covered in plastic! Plastic covered wire, this will never do!

In addition to the occasional creature, I use them to create tools for doll repair, or to replace the stringing hooks that go into dolls whenever they’re missing. I NEED those hangers. I can’t live without them!

Heaven help whoever’s around when I use them, because I do THIS scene at least once:

MonhangIt never gets old! Thankfully, I’m usually alone…

I’ll show you the finished product when I’m finished.

Tomorrow: About Chapter 10…’til then!

*I wonder if anyone will get the significance of the gallery shot at the top of the page? Hmm….*

Premiere and Expiere

WHAT?! That’s not how you spell “Expire”!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can’t help it, I’m a poet, not a speller.

Regarding the contest: the race to get to 150 “Likes” on Facebook. Hmm…this is going to be trickier than I thought. Yessirree, I may have to rethink this. We’re up to 86 from 81, so there’s THAT – but it may take awhile to get to 150…I might need to lower my goal or sweeten the deal…but, hmm….you can’t get much sweeter than Chase’s Cherry Mash…









Ooh, look! The expiration date! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looks like I have some time to ponder this thing further. Not near as long as I thought. Iowans must go through this stuff like gangbusters…bless ’em…(bless me too, for I am an Iowan now).

Tonight! The Premiere of Chapter 10 Present Past at midnight.

In the meantime, off I go to see if I can perhaps fluff the candies in the tea cup a little. Plus, I bought my Halloween candy for Trick-or-treaters yesterday. So much temptation…must resist…and I WILL!



mathmagicI’ve worked and re-worked, and while I am clearly not a wizard at math, it does not compute! No, not if we want a good product – and we DO.

There is simply no way Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway can be completed in time to go to print this November. I know! I’m as disappointed as you are!

But thus goes the journey of a self-publishing enterprise as ambitious as this. ‘Tis a novel thing! ‘Tis uncharted territory! And you are here with me and along for the ride.


“Well, we could just have RUTH do all the drawings…”

Glass half full! No competing with the hustle and bustle of Christmas! And you can tell the legions of others when they finally have this first-of-the-series novel clutched in their hands, “Well, it was supposed to come out in November of ’13, but the artwork, etc., was nowhere close to being done! Ruth offered to do the illustrations herself, but trust me, I’ve seen her work…”

Good things come to those who wait.

And! Until then! We’ll have at least once a week chapter releases to entertain us, starting back up again tomorrow night at midnight, with…

Chapter 10 Present Past…



It’s Friday! And since this week’s release was the compilation of Part 1, which was great to have, it also sadly means there is no new art to study from Nina (although I’ve seen some of the upcoming work from her. You are in for a TREAT), so what to do?

HAH! Halloween is coming! Soon I will be heading (gulp!) up to my attic to retrieve my creatures once again, so that I may repair them with duct tape for yet another year, and hope that they last.

Of course, they’re made of duct tape in the first place. Duct tape, newspaper, rocks and wire hangers. I found the idea in a seasonal little book in the magazine section of our town grocery store. I tried to find the book to show you, but couldn’t right away.

Behold! My Halloween House:


Ooh! Kind of hard to see. Much easier to see in real life. This photo was taken a couple of years ago, but look! Must have been from the brief time period when I had red window frames! Here are close ups of the creatures, one by one:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALe CATS! From the side they have long, pointy noses.

The book featured three different creatures. Since I had tape left over I decided to make a parent and child for each set, to represent myself and Adam. Next:


In addition to the rocks (I went out into my yard to find them, including the large, flat ones for the feet of the purple creatures above), and newspaper, etc., there’s also fun foam and dowels. I kind of improvised a lot with what I had around the house. Oh! And a hot glue gun! It wouldn’t be creating if you didn’t burn your fingers!

Next are possibly my favorites, next to the cats:


Simply for their delighted expressions. As you can imagine, the possibilities with these simple fixin’s are ENDLESS. I decided to create my own creature:


I’m hoping that this year I can create another set. If I do, I’ll show them here in a later post.

Such a simple, simple idea. And so much fun to do! Not to mention that they survive the elements. Get some newspaper and start wadding!

Now that I already have them made, for me the hardest part is going up to the attic (gulp!) to fetch them.

Happy October and Happy Friday Everyone!