Creating Hazel’s Story

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Magic Reminder!

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1ctcsideamDon’t forget from the comfort of your own home (or job. Pesky work!) to take advantage of the monstrous sale of Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway for $9.95 TODAY ONLY on Amazon!

And I hope your Thanksgiving was Amazing!

Thank you!

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Happy (Belated) Birthday To US!


My brother Kenny, the birthday boy. Look at that handsome mug! My brother Dennis, who is also a huge part of Hazel Twigg, created this photo for him. Note the two cakes. One for Kenny, and one for Hazel Twigg’s official launch.

After several stops and starts and false alarms, and four years, plus two months and who knows how many days, Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway is FINALLY in print!

How fitting that it should also happen to launch on the anniversary of another important birth, my brother Kennys! He who started this whole thing, those four years, two months, and who knows how many days ago. Heaven knows, I never would have gathered myself well enough to write a book otherwise.


Here’s our little library in Rolfe. It was closed at the time, so only the lights above were on. It’s wonderful that I can now bring the original illustration art, all the way from the Ukraine and Nina with me. That’s gold right there.




The Hazel Twigg Partnership is made up of four people: My brothers Dennis and Kenny, my sister Julie, and me. But in reality, it’s much bigger. It’s all of you! It’s anyone who views my dolls via Ebay or Pinterest, or watches the videos on YouTube, or looks for Hazel Twigg on Amazon. It’s the wonderful local people of this town. The ones that came to the library presentation that happened to coincide with the First Release date of the book. Several ladies from that launch have taken it upon themselves to get me more gigs at more libraries, and articles in newspapers. Local at first, but perhaps from there it will grow. Perhaps at these future presentations there will be other people from farther away, and I’ll get booked there, and so on and so on. It’s the people who have or will soon have my book in their own hands. Hopefully, they’ll spread the word.


Cora came with me for this special day. She kept jingling her bell with each book I sold and signed. I finally had to hide it from her altogether!

I think of it all as being similar to a family tree. This one starts with four people rather than the regular two, and it branches out from there, bigger and bigger as each branch spreads the word. You are the branches!

Our cause is a simple one: to reinstate the magic of childhood the way it used to be. Our ambassadors are these dolls and these books, and you.

Here’s an interesting exchange between my brothers on Skype our second day after being available on Amazon:

family-treeDennis: Yesterday (on Kindle), we were at #21,677 in Fantasy, today we’re at #3,547. We were at 36,138 in hard copy fantasy (today we’re at) 5,658.

Ken: Now that is movement

Dennis: We were 48,414 in contemporary fiction, now we’re at 8,036. At this rate… NYT Bestseller list, here we come.

Of course they’re being a little tongue in cheek, but could you do me a favor? Go to Amazon and do a search for Hazel Twigg, just to see what it does!


The leather surrounding her was a gift from our dear Janey. That and the fact that this O.L.D. was scheduled to start before Thanksgiving gives you a clue as to what her role will be. I’m still going to go there. I didn’t learn to bead for nothing!

And now it’s back to work for me on the next O.L.D. I blithely thought I’d perhaps have enough time to work on her a little before my library presentation, then swoop my way down there, do the presentation, and come back home and get her done enough to put her up for adoption that very night. I’d forgotten how exhausting giving birth can be. Even as it was exhilarating. There was a tangible magic in the air in this little ol’ library in the middle of nowhere.

So now the next O.L.D., originally designed for Thanksgiving, will wait for next Wednesday. Rolfe is bracing for its first winter storm, which is predicted to be a doozy. Eight to twelve inches!!! That’s a LOT for a first snow! Goodbye, grass! See you next spring!

Because of the coming storm, a neighbor friend Sarah, along with the mayor and I and anyone else who can make it have moved our noodle-making extravaganza for the homemade chicken soup to be served  at the Community Center for the Turkey Bingo event taking place tomorrow night up to early this afternoon. THAT kind of storm. THAT kind of town. THAT kind of old-fashioned goodness. It’s a perfect place for the birth of this particular tree.

And with that, I leave you! Happy weekend, you’re my favorite!


marching-bandPROOF-First-Release DAmarching band

I have done it. I have finally held in my own two hands the culmination of a journey that began four years, one month, and nine days ago. Or thereabouts. The Proof copy of Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway! Once this copy is approved (and *Mayor Julie is going over it right now. I’m a little too close to it), then whoosh! The order for the limited First Release printing will be made!


Pinky becomes lost when a cat chasing a mouse knocks her out of a barn loft and she gets buried in the hay. She’s the first O.L.D. to come to Hollyhock Hideaway.

I’ll give more details later, but for now we’re planning on November 18 – also my brother Kenny’s birthday AND the date of my local library presentation, where there’s a good chance I’ll have actual books there for sale – as our official release date, including on

I was looking over past emails from back in the day trying to find the exact date of when this all started. I wasn’t able to find it, but what I did find was somewhat amazing. This book has gone through so many changes. So many towns and characters and settings. But here’s an excerpt from an email to a friend I wrote less than a month after this all began back in 2011:


Ruth makes new clothes for Pinky.

I was thinking that since dolls come and go here, my house could be the place that dolls who are no longer played with or who have been forgotten and neglected by their little girls escape to in the hopes of some day being loved again.  An orphanage of sorts, and in the meantime we have adventures!


The bat finale in the attic.

Whether it’s bats in the attic, or a creature in the basement, or we explore an abandoned house looking for treasure or even just take our dog for a walk and the people that we meet.  In the meantime, I clean them up and make dresses for them and one by one they’re adopted out to happy houses.  Before you know it, ANOTHER lost little girl appears needing attention!  Wouldn’t that be fun?

After all the changes, this beginning kernel of an idea is what the book ended up being about. So many things have come together in its creation. But the most important thing to remember is that this isn’t just a book. To me it’s a movement to a new O.L.D. way of life. A back to the future in reverse. A return to the imagination that you create yourself, free of gadgetry. I’ve seen several memes along the lines of, “I’m so grateful I had my childhood before technology took over.” That’s the gist of the Hazel Twigg world in a (hazel)nutshell. More to come soon.

*In the meantime!



If you’re lucky enough to live in Reliance, aka Rolfe, Iowa, don’t forget to VOTE FOR JULIE FOR MAYOR TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, at the ROLFE COMMUNITY CENTER. Don’t assume! She loves this town as much as I do and has its best interests at heart and has worked so hard and been so involved with everything, and not just these past two years. She truly cares. PLEASE VOTE!

Thank you! You’re my favorite!

Have Broom, Will Travel

The girl blinking up at me had issues, yes, but her coloring was very pretty and unusual. Auburn hair! Hazel eyes! Nifty! I’m always itching to get to Halloween costume making, and when she told me her name was Samantha, I immediately thought “witch.” But not just any witch! With her pretty coloring, a witch in Autumn colors would be just the thing…

Meet Samantha! The Bewitching Witch of Autumn. You can see her adoption page HERE


I like pointy shoes almost as much as I like pointy hats! Samantha has BOTH.

As many of you might know, this Wednesday I’ll be traveling to Norfolk, Nebraska to be a keynote speaker at a librarian’s workshop. I’ll be taking Samantha with me, along with Dot and Betty as well as the next O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) if I can get enough of an outfit done for her in time. They’ll be good luck charms for me, as well as illustrating just what a composition doll is.

Our wee witch Samantha has a custom broom made from a twig I found on one of my walks for the handle and fronds from my black walnut trees for the bristles. Well, it just so happens Samantha is deathly afraid of heights. No matter! We’ll be driving! Me and The Mayor and I think the First Dude will be making a merry travel train to parts unknown (of course, we’ll Google it on the map so we know before we start our journey).

I loved the nifty, pillowy thing on this witch’s hips, so I made a similar one for Samantha, complete with cats and (gulp!) bats.

When I was growing up, the scariest sight to see in church was the bishop making his way towards you with purpose. “We would like you to give a two-and-a-half minute talk next Sunday,” he would say. Frequently, I wouldn’t be able to answer back. I would just sit there staring up at him, throat dry, instant blurbs of nausea in the pit of my stomach, responding instead with the most miniscule of nods. The following Sunday I would quake as I talked. Never had such a short amount of time seemed so very, very long. Well, the talk this Wednesday is no two and a half minutes! This is FORTY-FIVE. That’s two and a half times, um, MATH. Something!

Samantha also comes with “street clothes,” because as much as I would like for it to be, it’s not Halloween year round!

Sensing my trepidation, Samantha called out to me in her tinny tiny voice, “Be not afraid! Watch THIS!” At which point, she hopped onto her freshly made broom and despite her fear of heights, bravely leapt off the counter in my sewing room. I felt kind of bad. For safety reasons, I hadn’t put a charm onto the broom to make it fly. Luckily, there just so happened to be a pile of fabric on the floor (ahem!) and she landed safely without a scratch.

These are a few of my favorite things…

I’m actually looking forward to Wednesday! This is the sort of thing we hoped for from the very first post on this blog and the way it came about hints that maybe it is meant to be. Hazel Twigg and all she entails has been my heart and soul for the past three years, even though she didn’t make an appearance until months into our journey. These composition dolls have been a part of my life for the past twenty-five years, ever since I discovered that such creatures exist. And magic! Magic has been a part of me forever.

The important thing to remember is that it’s not whether you soar towards the ceiling fan or fall into a soon-to-be-folded and put away pile of fabric, it’s whether you or not you get onto that broomstick in the first place.

Our sweet Babs was adopted by the equally sweet Janey J. of Oakland, California! She is now the proud human of two O.L.D.’s! An excellent woman, that Janey.

And with that, I leave you! Happy Monday, you’re my favorite.

FINIS! And the Fortunate Son

HT_12_cover_CBRDid you feel any magic in the air last Saturday, say around 8:07 in the morning Central time? I did! Know why? Because I finished the book. And it’s exactly 78,000 words. A SIGN. It took way longer than I thought, and no wonder: I’ve added five new chapters! And the story is much better for it.

Besides the second outfit I wanted to make, this girl needs a LOT of work. If you look closely, you’ll see that her head is split clear in two.

I was going to hurry and try and get the doll I’d been working on finished and put up for adoption the next day. I was having the same battle with The Mayor as always. This doll is somewhat specific and I really, really wanted to make two outfits for her, especially as the first outfit was so unusual and “off the beaten path,” as they say. The Mayor just wanted me to get her up for adoption as is, with just the one dress so she wouldn’t have to watch me stress all weekend. Then she had a bit of a family emergency herself, so we both decided to stop everything and smell the roses and I took a second week in a row “off” (still toiling away, and those storm windows aren’t going to put themselves up in the attic!).

Plus, this way I get to make that second and more traditional outfit. We’ll see if you think it was worth the extra time. Coming soon!


First Grade. Seems like yesterday.

Also, I couldn’t let this day pass without expressing how very much I love my son and how proud I am of him.


At his recent senior prom with his girlfriend the lovely Sara Axson.

Look at him! You can see it in his face: He was a great boy who has turned into a Good Man. Adam is funny and charming and smart and has such a strong sense of right and wrong. He was an absolute joy to raise, my little mini-me who is now so much taller than I.

Today he graduates from high school and soon he’ll be going to college. I’m so excited for him and for all the adventures he has ahead! Of course I’m a little weepy as I type this. I’m a mom! A very proud mom. I love you, Adam and I am so very fortunate that you are my son.

Next week, back to normal! With blog posts and weekly dolls and battles with The Mayor and the like. You’ll never guess who won the last O.L.D.! You won’t! Until then…

Happy Friday! You’re my favorite.

If You Don’t Have Anything…

Another thing that came from the meeting of the Hazel Twigg Partnership last Friday, is that if I don’t have anything to post, ’tis better not to post anything at all! Thinking about it, my partners are absolutely correct.


Look at her! You can tell she’s planning something...

So I will not be posting every single weekday. I will not beckon you here for no reason at all, only when I have something specific to say. Like today! About tonight! At midnight! New chapter and one of the last: Chapter 35 The Scheme of Marlene.

Thank you! You’re my favorite!


Probably Never Ever

Chapter 34 Promises contains an incident that I myself would actually never, ever put myself in. So it was surreal writing it! I concentrated more of the magic of the night, and as I worked, I heard this in my head:

And that most certainly helped. But I would still never actually do it.

Happy Friday Eve day! And Good Friday Eve day!

Now, THAT is a BAT Joke!

You know what’s hard? Finding a funny joke about bats! Or a pun! Or something!

The next chapter coming out tomorrow night has a bat joke in it. And I use the term “joke” lightly, but it’s the thought that counts!

So here as a quickie post as I get back to work. The bat jokes that didn’t make it. The rejects, you might say:


Why did the bat wear glasses?

Because he had BAT EYES!

(You have to read it out loud to get it, although there isn’t much to get, hence the rejection although this was the place holder for the longest time in the book.  Most people read to themselves in their heads)






How are bats like false teeth?

They all come out at night!









Why don’t bats live alone?

They prefer to hang out with their friends!



WOKKA WOKKA!! Thank you, thank you, I’m here ’til Thursday! Tip your waitress!

You can only imagine the joke that actually made it…

Happy Monday!

P.S. I like the gallery picture I found for today. “Release the Bats!” to which I would reply, “Send in the Clowns!”

Please, do.



Tomorrow I will (I hope!) post photos and a link to the FIRST Once-Loved Doll up for adoption.

But tonight! At midnight! Chapter 32 The Encounter. Who’s it between?

Maxwell and Marlene?


Marlene and Hazel?


Ruth and Hazel?

HT_42Some yet unknown character…? Time will tell! In the meantime, I’m going to try and hone my photography skills. Gulp.

My, you look lovely today! Nothing April fooley about THAT!

There’s a Little MONK in All of Us


Tony Shalhoub was BRILLIANT in playing Adrian Monk. I’m team SHARONA, by the way…

ONE of my favorite TV shows ever was “Monk,” the show about the “defective detective” who, while brilliant at solving crimes, has fears ranging from elevators, to crowds, to milk. I’ve sprinkled a lot of those fearish traits throughout Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway via Hazel Twigg herself.

Everybody has fears and little buggaboos, both rational and un. Have you ever rushed home from work to make sure you unplugged your iron? Are you perhaps afraid of snakes, or spiders or heights? How about unusual fears? I have a fear of chickens. There was an incident in my childhood. They are fearful creatures, with sharp talons and wicked beaks. Plus, they run really, really fast.

Hazel Twigg certainly has her share of fears. Perhaps a little more than most. Which creates an odd sort of bravery as she takes on this strange new world.

In Chapter 30 The Long & The Short of It, Hazel Twigg ventures into the scariest room in the hideaway: the Sewing Room. There are sharp pins and pointy scissors and irons that randomly hiss steam. Certain danger! But it is there that she learns a lot as she keeps Ruth talking so that she’ll stop putting pins in her mouth.


Looking out of my sewing room. I keep the door closed (no cat fur, aka “lonely people glitter” on my fabric!) but didn’t want to be shut away from the rest of the house. So I had handy Roger install a clear panel. And then I put up a curtain. Makes sense, right?

HT-057 The Death Trap NG

Still, she’s glad to escape that death trap to enjoy her day. Little does Hazel know that she’ll face a new fear that night…

On that note, happy Friday! Have a great and care-free weekend!