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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Paper Dolls, Sears and Roebuck Catalog, and the Accidental Author

Many authors have said the urge to write was natural and a life-long goal. In fact, it seems that most writers “always had a dream.” This often made me wonder why I don’t fit the mold. Of course, I had an imagination, but don’t all children have one to some extent?
Playing make-believe is as natural to little girls and boys as is breathing.
I grew up when paper dolls were popular. When I had a fifteen cents or a quarter, that’s what I bought—a paper doll book. My little sister and I spent many hours of our childhood cutting out the dolls and their clothes. Each piece of clothing had little tabs to fold over the doll’s shoulders or around her waist. We had boxes of paper dolls—Victorian ladies, teenage girls, little children, mommies, and Western cowgirls. We gave each a name, a personality, and emotions.

Shoe boxes held our paper doll sets, and heaven forbid we should ever mix up the dolls and their clothes. If my dolls became intermingled with my sister’s, that was cause for all-out war. The shoe boxes also made very nice homes for paper dolls. For a house, though, we needed beds, refrigerators, stoves, tables, rugs, and chairs. Mother gave us last year’s Sears and Roebuck catalog and we became the nation’s first recyclers. Never threw away a catalog. They furnished our doll homes perfectly. True, everything lay on the floor of the “home,” but that was all right because we played “make believe.”

The paper dolls lived in a world of grand adventures. Why, they went to parties, rode on trains to big cities, married, went shopping, roped cattle and rode horses, met kings and knights, and became princesses and beauty queens. So, perhaps I carried the idea of inventing stories in my head and heart, after all.

Another writer I know calls herself The Accidental Reporter. Well, I suppose I’m The Accidental Author. The first pieces I wrote were scientific research papers and lab reports while attending school. Nothing else, not even a diary. After early retirement, I began to “dabble” in this and that, and one day, I accidentally began to write a story. I say “accidentally” because I only intended to add to my minuscule store of knowledge about the computer, especially WORD 2002. Thus, many weeks later, I had a 90,000 word novel stored—yep, you guessed it—written in stiff, correct, scientific language. The first editor who rejected it said—“this reads like a textbook.”

Oh, I had much to learn, but fortunately, I have an attribute perhaps all authors have—persistence. Also, I’m a fast-learner, and most often, a self-learner.

My first published book was ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS. This was not the first I had written, but I thought I had a good chance to get this story in print. Another publisher took it right away, which thrilled me. After several years, I took my rights and now it is reprinted with the new cover with Prairie Rose Publications.
Available at Amazon for $0.00 Kindle Unlimited
 To escape an arranged marriage, beautiful, proper Cynthia Harrington from East Texas impulsively marries Ricardo Romero, a striking, sensual Spaniard who ranches on the far western edge of the Texas frontier. She naïvely steps into a hotbed of anger, rivalry, and strong wills. She struggles to gain a foothold in the hostile household and foreign ranch community, determined to make a place for herself—but will she also find a way to make her husband love her?

By marrying an “outsider”, Ricardo brings down the wrath of his mother, Felicitas, on his unsuspecting bride. Cynthia must also contend with beautiful Starr Hidalgo, a wealthy, jealous young neighbor, who has always believed she and Ricardo would be married.

When the Texas Rangers arrive looking for a killer, Cynthia daringly manages to save Ricardo’s mother in a confrontation with the wanted man. Ricardo’s bride has more grit and spunk than he ever imagined—but has she been pushed too far to stay on at the ranch with him? Can he convince her that they both want—and need—the same thing? Cynthia is in search of nothing more than what she’s told Ricardo from the very beginning—a loving home and husband. But is it already too late for them? With a rough beginning to their married lives, can their love survive—and give them all their hopes and dreams?


  1. Oh, Celia, you sent me down a childhood path of fond memories as I read about paper dolls. I was an only child until I was twelve years old. I lived in the country, and my social time with playmates wasn't often (and I wasn't social at school). My point is, I spent a lot of time playing by myself, and paper dolls were a large part of that play.

    Writing stories for me came at an early age. A life-long dream was to become published. *grin* The first novel (what I would consider a "real" story with a so-so plot and character development) I wrote was in high school. It was a contemporary story about a rodeo family who followed the amateur rodeo circuit. I killed them all off in a car wreck at the end. 0_o Thankfully, that awful manuscript has long since disappeared.

    I've read "All My Hopes and Dreams", and you certainly threw challenging obstacles onto the road to HEA for Cynthia and Ricardo. I enjoyed going along on their journey to see how you'd bring them together.

    1. Thanks, Kaye. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and could identify. My little sister and I got dolls every Christmas, but we didn't play with them--we played cowboys and Indians with our friends. But at home, too cold to play out, or too hot and dusty, we holed up in the closet in the room we shared...such fun.
      And see, you're one who began to write at an early age. It seems to be more common than how I just stumbled onto it in my 50s. Thanks!

  2. All My Hopes And Dreams is one of my all time favorites of your stories. I loved it! Ricardo was a wonderful hero. I fell in love with him, too.
    I think many people have an imagination who will never become writers. Now this is just a theory of mine, but I believe what a writer possesses more than most is a deep empathy for other people. They can walk in another person's shoes and perceive that person's feelings. Not everyone can do that. It's like a writer's specialty. You were always a writer. You just switched from textbook to fiction writing.
    I remember paper dolls and how much I loved them. I even drew clothes for mine even though I often forgot and cut the tabs that held them on to the paper doll. Shoe boxes were as wonderful as the shoes that once filled them. The Sears and Roebuck catalogue was my wish book. I always wanted the farm with all the animals, but I never got it. I did get plenty of plastic horses with cowboys and Indians. I spent many hours making trails around tree roots to have those horses carry their riders. Childhood was such a magical time.
    I always enjoy reading your posts, Celia. I don't know why, but I just connect personally with so much of what you experienced and the way you think.

  3. I was nearly 50 when I got my first notion to write, and even then, I had no intention of pursuing publication. I guess we're late bloomers.

  4. Celia,
    So much fun reading about your childhood. It brought back memories of me having paper dolls. I started late as a published writer. I was 51 when I realized I needed to write my Christmas story. I started writing as an escape from raising 6 children and stayed up late at night to do it. Then it wasn't until I was 56 when I received 3 book contracts from Samhain Publishing. Now I'm babysitting my little grandchildren and feel like I'm going full circle with trying to fit writing into my schedule. LOL But I only babysit a couple of days a week so that's good for this old lady.

  5. I'm jumping back into this conversation to add a couple of ditties.

    I began writing what would become my first published novel in 1977. I hand wrote the first draft and then typed it on a manual typewriter with carbon paper for a copy. 0_o I revised this story countless times. Then in 2006, some 29 years later when I was 51, this book was published. Then in 2014, I received the rights back, and I'm revising the story again.

    I began writing this story as a way to keep my sanity during my children's early years while enduring a less than peaceful marriage. Writing on this story all those years was a type of therapy, I suppose.

    The catalogue I always looked forward to was the JCPenney Christmas edition.

  6. Oh Celia, you brought back such memories of childhood. I confess, I was always telling stories, writing plays as young as six. I also wrote poetry at an early age.

    I also loved your story of Cynthia and Ricardo. I'm glad you persisted in your accident. Doris