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Let Freedom Ring!

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My sister, the Mayor, is quite the crafty and rather gifted girl. A year or so ago when I was at a quilter’s estate auction I spied a lovely old dressmaker’s dummy that I KNEW she would like. I would have liked it too, but I have no room!

I’m so glad I gave it to her. She came up with something quite lovely. I probably would have decoupaged some old vintage advertising on it or some such thing. Not her! She spent days toiling away. It’s a sight to behold in person, with it’s swirl of patriotic bunting and rhinestones and pearls. The draping of the fabric reminded me of the Statue of Liberty. Therefore, I have my sister to thank for the inspiration for O.L.D. No. 92…

Thus begins the description for #92, Independence! You can see her adoption page HERE.

Thank goodness me wee dear sister finds dolls scary, because she would give me a run for my money. It’s not for nothing that I sneak into her house in the dead of night, a particularly scary doll clutched in my fist, whispering in the dark, “I’m gonna bite you with my nice….sharp….teeth.” Ah, the times we have! Plus, it keeps her good and scared of my dolls, and keeps me safe up here on my perch alone.

For those of you who don’t know, Julie and her husband Scott (the First Dude) live in a rather mansion-y house here in town, and I feel very fortunate every time I drive up her driveway. “Why, yes! I know these people who live here! That’s right, I have friends in this manse! Sure, they’re related, but…they like me! They really like me!”

I would never say this out loud to others, and they could probably give two flips about it, but to me it’s a privilege. I love Julie and Scott’s home. It was built in 1893, and the living room is large enough to boast two gorgeous old crystal chandeliers. There’s a cloak room in the entryway, and you can picture couples pulling up in horse and carriages to attend a ball. This thrills and fires my imagination.

There are two staircases, one for servants close to the kitchen, and the main one that leads up from the living room for the family. The main one has a landing with a bench, should you care to rest between climbs. Two staircases! That kind of house.

Which is why I knew Julie would have the space for that wonderful dressmaker’s dummy that nobody wanted. At that estate sale there were three in all. Two fairly nice new ones, and this old number with its cast iron base and chipboard body with the dented boob. The other two went for $15 or $20 each. The one I wanted…nothing! I bid $2 and held my breath. SOLD! Of course, I told Julie as I magnanimously gave it to her that I paid $50, but…that is neither here nor there.

The Statue of Liberty is wearing sandals! Mine are made from gold foiled leather.

Julie and I like to give each other little surprises now and then because life can be a tricky thing. But even with her busy schedule of Mayoring and working full time, she makes everything look so effortless.

I based my torch on this Staret brooch from the 1940’s.

“Whatcha doin’?” I’ll casually ask during one of our many, many conversations per day. “Oh, crafts.” And then I’ll go over to her house, and she’ll show me all these things she’s made! Wonderful things! When I first saw what she’d done with the dummy, I said, “Um, can I have that back…?” Of course I was just joking. Mostly. Well, at least I could steal the inspiration…

I love this image. It makes my toes curl with fear, but I love it.

Julie had this wonderful old bunting she used for her dummy. I alas did not. I hand painted each and every star. “Oh, I’ll just zip downstairs to the kitchen, paint the stars, and while that’s drying I’ll….” NO SUCH THING. Turns out, painting hundreds of starts takes awhile. After all that painting, I then scrunched up the fabric so you couldn’t really see them anyway. No matter, I wanted scrunchy bunting, and I know the stars are there…

Thank you, Thomas Barrow.

The beading was so much fun to do, but also time consuming! If it weren’t for Dowton Abbey, I might have injured myself. I’m currently watching all six seasons of “Downton Abbey” over and over as I sew. Thank goodness I find it engaging, because sometimes sitting there for hours with beads and threads and sharp, pointy needles…*bonk!* Next thing you know, your head droops, and there goes an eye…

Independence was a labor of love, and I hope you love her as we celebrate America’s birthday this coming week.

Bathing Beauty Macie was adopted by…Hillary P. of New York, New York! And to think I’ve never been there! THANK YOU, HILLARY!

With that, I leave you! Happy July 4th! You’re my favorite.

 

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EIGHT.

ht181aBook number EIGHT of the first 100 numbered books is up on ebay! And has been for almost a week!

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Photoshopping tip: Consistency COUNTS. Note the painted fingernail to match the ones in the other picture.

Book number NINE went to Bonnie D. of Sheldon, Iowa. For a relative song! It might very well be worth a fortune some day. Better odds than a chance lottery ticket. That is the hope…

Speaking of hope, I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. We got some miracle snow! And now we’re getting CLOBBERED. Here’s to an excellent New Year!

TEN.

ht10gal1aThe first 100 copies of Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway were numbered, and now they’re all gone. All EXCEPT the last 10, which we’re auctioning off one by one, a week at a time. You can see number 10’s auction page HERE.

To launch this enterprise, my brothers wanted me to get all gussied up and have a professional photograph taken with each book. Lucky for me, I’m a photo-shopping EXPERT. Maybe they won’t notice. Ahem.

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Things are going well! The third batch of books has already been ordered and we’ve been in print less than a month! Step by step…

I hope those of you who are reading are enjoying the story! If you’d like to give a review, please go to the tab above, “Reader’s Write” to share your thoughts. Also! We would love it if you’d take a selfie holding a copy of Hazel Twigg and post it on the Hazel Twigg Facebook page.

It’s such a busy, wonderful time of year.  I hope this wee blog post finds you happy and surrounded by those you love. Cheers!

MAGIC Friday

bloggal. . . as opposed to “Black Friday.”

READERS! Tell your family! Tell your friends! Tell your work buddies! Tell yourself! THIS FRIDAY ONLY Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway will be on sale at Amazon.com only for $9.95!

When my brother Kenny proposed it this morning via instant messaging on Skype, there was silence and Kenny wondered if he was typing only to himself. I happened to be outside, chopping ice off my front stairs so didn’t see it until later. Finally, Dennis responded, “Sorry had to pick jaw up off the floor.” Most likely because this is way, way, way below cost. Those gorgeous illustrations aren’t cheap to print!

The largest old lady, the one on the bottom row! BIGGER.

But it’s kind of like that old woman who swallowed a fly if you contort your mind a bit. Hazel Twigg represents a return to good old-fashioned childhood magic and we need to get the word out. The old lady swallows a fly, then a spider, then a bird, a cat, a dog, a goat, a cow . . . and she gets bigger and bigger each time. We wanna be that old lady!

We’ll start off with flies – although, let us charm this concept up a bit, because the thought of eating a fly sounds like no fun at all. We need lots and lots of fairies to read Hazel Twigg. Then hopefully they’ll tell their furry woodland creature friends about it, and the woodland creatures will tell the handsome princes on horseback, who just happen to be wandering through the forest, and he will tell the random singing maiden, and together they’ll tell the villagers in the nearby town, and…

See what I mean?

woodlandcreaturesaSo we need to attract those flies fairies. And how do you attract fairies? With honey! In this case, “honey” is an extra special price of $9.95 this November 27 on Amazon only and I’ll sign them all to whomever you want at your request.

wanderingprince1For those of you who have already purchased this book at the higher price, think of it this way: the further we can spread this magic, the more valuable your book will become. Plus, restoring the magic of childhood is a good cause, and nothing to be sneezed upon. We so appreciate you.

So please! Help us spread the honey! Hazel Twigg $9.95 this Friday ONLY on Amazon! Hazel Twigg makes a great gift!

And with that, I leave you! Thank you, you’re my favorite fly fairy!

Message In A Bottle

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Dark and Stormy afternoon photo. See?

Usually, I’ll do a post about the current O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) several days after she’s put up for adoption on ebay. Frequently, even after a doll is listed, I have copious amounts of things still to do. Such especially was the case with Cora the Town Crier, she of the Special Announcement.

She was put up for adoption three days ago Wednesday with minimum information. You can see her page HERE.

At the time, I could only post one photo because of the dark and stormy afternoon. Also, she wasn’t anywhere near done. I worked hard and finally finished her Friday night. Took her pictures, edited them, uploaded them onto ebay, and . . . POOF. Nothing. After several tries, I called ebay. They’re having technical difficulties! Which wouldn’t be so bad if I could let people know there were technical issues, but I can’t! Nothing’s working. Ebay said to give them 24 hours. I check every now and then to see if the problem’s fixed, but still no go. So this post here is my message in a bottle to those prospective adopters of Cora the Town Crier.

She’s here to make a very special official announcement:

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Here’s her scroll! Note the time on the watch. See what I did there? I was given a bunch of watches of all kinds by Jennifer Trenary from her grandmother. They’ll be popping up here and there with future dolls. One in particular! Can’t wait.

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The bell was a gift to Cora from The Mayor. It jingles ever so prettily – unless you’re doing a fitting with lots of moving about.

This fellow here was my main inspiration:

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Here he’s announcing a royal birth. In a way, Cora’s doing the same thing! Not a royal birth by any means, but this is my baby, and I did labor on her for over four years.

I noticed that over his coat he was wearing a cape that had several different gew-gaws on it. So I made one for Cora.

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I used a bunch of earrings and charms and odds and ends.

And of course, she has street clothes!

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Here she is before. She was so excited when I told her what her role would be.

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And there you have it! Cora the Town Crier! I hope this bottle floats to more than parts unknown.

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

 

Gracie Under Fire & The Way It Went

“All right, I need a volunteer…” Dozens of small hands went up. “To come and be up on stage with me when I speak at the librarian’s workshop…”

Suddenly, I was met with a sea of quiet faces, all looking around the room and various objects, trying to avoid my gaze. All except ONE.

Meet Gracie! The Girl Who Came Through In A Clutch. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I got a photo of Samantha and Gracie  with Gracie in Samantha’s “street clothes” before I sent Samantha flying on her way.

As many of you know, I went to a librarians workshop in Nebraska as a keynote speaker in regards to my book, Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway. Since I refurbish the O.L.D.s (Once-Loved Dolls) one by one and promptly send them on their way, it’s not like I have a plethora of freshened dolls ready to view. They leave me just as quickly as I finish with them! I only had Samantha, the lovely witch. She was excited to go! It’s not as easy for dolls that have yet to be refurbished go out there. Poor Gracie was missing a few fingers and had chipping paint on her face, and still she volunteered.

This is the outfit Gracie arrived in. It will of course be going with her.

Our Autumn witch Samantha also had a second outfit. Gracie here was smaller than Samantha, but she was willing and brave, and so I brought her along with Dot and Betty and The Mayor and The First Dude and away we went.

The talk went well! As well as can be expected for my first time speaking at length. There are many things I would do differently if I could do it over again, but overall I was pleased! I remember I was in the middle of saying something, and the room was so silent you could hear a pin drop. On carpet! It was a little startling, but then I realized: They were listening! And that’s a good thing.

PowerPoint is a wonderful thing. Who knew? If you look closely, you can see Samantha, Gracie, Dot and Betty. Also, me.  I was reading them the first chapter.

I put together my first PowerPoint presentation. Next time I’d use more pictures. But I wish you and Nina, our artist, could have heard the gasps of wonder as I displayed first my sketches, and then her gorgeous, full color illustrations. Even more impressive on the big screen! Plus, I’d bravely brought Nina’s original artwork, and I had it displayed on easels surrounding me. I spoke just before lunch, and when I finished, the lovely Molly, the woman who got me there in the first place, had the line pass by the art to see. I spoke with a lot of people. It was a blur. But I did it!

Gracie was richly rewarded for her bravery.

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She deserved it! Note the fluffy slippers. Gracie decided she wanted baby-doll style jammies. It’s cold here! Winter’s coming! She insisted, but I insisted that at least her feet be warm.

 

<Here’s her “All” picture. I forgot to post it on her adoption page, so said I would do it here. And I did! Now Gracie is ready to make her way somewhere new. She’s already had adventures with me! Now it’s someone else’s turn.

Speaking of someone else, Samantha was adopted by…Michelle E. of Colorado! Thank you, Michelle! I was worried something had happened to you…

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

 

 

Beatrix vs. The Easter Bunny

Sometimes you just want to try new things. Like an Easter bunny outfit! The timing seemed pert near perfect. But Beatrix had other ideas. She wanted to be dressed in a Regency-era style. We did BOTH.

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Bunny Outfit

Regency

Regency Era

 

 

 

VS.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Beatrix! She is O.L.D. No. 00035 and you can see her adoption page HERE. Just in time for Easter!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy sister Julie, aka The Mayor always makes fun of me when I make more than one outfit for a doll. “Do you really think people sit around changing their doll’s clothes?” she will frequently ask in her squeaky little voice.

And actually, I have no idea. I know of one woman who once made pancakes for her little dolls! I know I constantly talk to mine! They answer back. Hopefully that doesn’t make me insane…

For me, it’s fun to have the option. I’m sure they get tired of wearing the same thing, day in, day out. And in summer a bunny costume – fully lined, mind you! – would get hot!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bunny costume was a little tricky, as I wanted the “paws” to be part the sleeves rather than having separate mittens. I’m not made of faux fur (which means I don’t have copious amounts to waste)! So I wanted to get it right the first time. Luckily, I did!

The hat for the Regency outfit was tricky as well. Was it too tall? Too short? I find I have to limit my pondering and just go for it.

rabbitcs1Of course OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI considered adding little bunny heads to the feet of the rabbit outfit, a la “A Christmas Story” but I ran out of time. That was a whole lotta sewing for one little girl!

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Beatrix’ Easter basket has CHOCOLATE IN IT! For NOW.

 

The important thing is we are content including The Mayor, who actually has a lovely speaking voice and who has declared Beatrix to be very appealing and one of her favorites yet (which is saying a lot, because she is SKEERED of most of these sweet dolls).

Meanwhile, is there wind in Colorado? I hope so, because that’s where Wendy is going to fly her kite! Michelle’s streak continues! Thank you, Michelle!

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

Hush Love, Hush. Wait…

finiswait

Angela Lansbury in “Sweeney Todd.” This image is actually from “Nothing’s Going to Harm You (Not While I’m Around), but it looked a lot more expressive of “Wait” than the stills with the knives. Just sayin’.

I cannot let today – and namely, tonight – pass without a mention! Because when the very next midnight in Iowa occurs, the last chapter as well as the prologue of “Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway” will be released.

Secretly, I am hoping you will wait until the entire thing is available to read in your own sweet time. We’ll be releasing in print this fall with two illustrations per chapter. Prior to that we’ll release the book as a download when two things happen: The first is to have at least one illustration per chapter by Nina.

finiseyesThe second is the final edit. I’m going to get help from my brother Kenny’s lovely, lovely wife, Coppelia. She of the fiery hair. She is a writer too and a fresh set of eyes will be a huge blessing.

We’ve come along way since the Town in the Middle of H_T_02_3Nowhere and Hazel’s car ride to the train station!

The last chapter is called, “The Glad, The Sad, & The Very, Very Mad”.

Despite the troubles in the Ukraine, which are drawing closer and closer to Odessa where Genn & Nina live, Nina has been getting art to us as steadily as she can. I should think it would be like trying to create art in the midst of a prolonged 9/11! I am so grateful for her perseverance in the face of such challenges.

I’m just going to show the last few illustrations done in color so far. We’ve also received initial sketches from her, but I’ll save the reveal of those for within the chapters themselves.

Here they are!

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“The FIRE!”

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“Needle In a Haystack”

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“The Swipe”

Beautiful, beautiful work. I think it will all be worth it in the end.

And finally, while it may not appear so, Clementine is doing quite well! She has a lot of prospective adopters watching her. Where will her journey lead…?

Have a Happy Easter!

May your Easter be filled with family, fun and memories in the making.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAeastpinkeaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And no bats, of course!

BATTER(s) Up and a SPOILER Alert!

It’s begun! A neighbor – well, not actually a neighbor, she lives across town. Then again, with a town this small she’s still a neighbor. Her parents live down the street. They also all lived in this very house at one time! But I digress – has already had two bats this year!

So you can BET I’ll be watching even more closely! And! This oddly makes me feel better, she states that if she sees “ONE …… Even ONE more bat,” she’s putting her house on the market! HAH! Not Just Me, Then!

See? SEE?! SCARY!!

As for the spoilers, these are regarding the latest two chapters, Chapter 32 The Encounter and Chapter 33 Things That Go Thump In the Night. From now to the end of the book I will alert you when I’m posting spoilers. So for those of you who want to wait and read the whole thing at once, read no further!

 

STOP.

 

Okay, for the rest: Both of these chapters are based on a true story that took place in this very house. The broken bottle clues, the pulling back of the curtain, the fainting, the releasing, everything.

Not to mention the constant phrases I’ve heard regarding bats when it comes to them going into places where they do not belong.

Isn’t it funny that Hazel thinks the same way I do when it comes to her first encounter and Dot says the very thing that Hazel’s already heard more than once in her brief time in Iowa?

“It happens all the time! After all, bats can come in through holes the size of – ” 

“Pencil erasers! We know!” said Hazel frantically as the bat zipped in and out and around.

“Don’t worry,” Dot said soothingly. “In all those times, we never got bitten once. Bats are harmless! Why, he’s more scared of us than we are of him.”

Marlene had said the same thing nearly word for word. Hazel felt a strange urge to laugh, wondering if there was some sort of course in Iowa called, “What to Say in Case of Bat.” She had visions of Marlene sitting in the front of the class, her arm raised in response to the teacher’s question. “I know! I know! An eraser!” she would say.

“A pencil eraser,” Dot would clarify, earning praise from the teacher and dirty looks from Marlene.

HT-059 Bat Class NG

This next is from chapter 33:

“I think he fainted,” Betty offered. Everyone looked at her in disbelief.

“He fainted?” said Hazel. She lowered her lamp – and herself – for a closer look. Sure enough, it appeared the bat was breathing, but he was out like a light.

He looked so helpless and small laying there, nothing like the leathery, huge monster that had swarmed her bed. “And he fainted,” Hazel incredulously repeated to herself once more.

“They really are more afraid of us than we are of them,” she said out loud.

HT-060 The Realization NG

I was of course channeling the movie, “Holes,” one of my favorites.HT-060 HolesAnd on that note, I wish you a Very Happy Weekend! You’re my favorite!