Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nail Soup

I just posted this "author insight" about The Riddle of Penncroft Farm on Bublish and I decided to post it here, too. I had forgotten all about this "nail soup" bit!

Here is the excerpt I was writing about:

Suddenly hoofbeats clattered on the lane. A single horse cantered up. With eyes wild at the sight of the flames, it reared, hooves slicing at the smoky air. The two riders managed to slide off the horse’s back unhurt. For the moment, I had eyes only for the taller of the two. It was Will, dressed from head to toe as a Continental cavalryman. In his hand was his old hand-carved
cane, which he brandished over his head in fury as he shouted at the mob. “Shame, shame on you all! Is this how we are to build a new nation? By burning one another’s homes?” Under his torrent of scathing words, the rampaging mob rapidly dwindled into a knot of ten chastened men.
   - The Riddle of Penncroft Farm ©1989 by Dorothea Jensen

Remember the story in which a penniless man cozened everyone into adding vegetables to what he purported to be "nail soup?" (The very last thing he did was to remove the nail on the sly and eat the fine soup.) That is what this excerpt amounts to.  I saw a Revolutionary War drum in a museum and it was one large spur to my writing this story. I was going to have Geordie be a drummer boy in Washington's army, then I decided to have Ned Owens be one instead, which makes Geordie jealous. For the big finish/reveal about Sandy, I had her beating on such a drum as she rode behind Will to Penncroft Farm. Which was ridiculous. It would just not have been possible, especially as she would have been perched behind him with both legs on one side because she was wearing a dress. (This was called riding "aside" rather than "astride", I believe.) The very last thing I did before this book went to press was take the drum out of Sandy's hands. (So glad I did.)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

OK, people, here we go!

Now that Christmas is over, I'm turning my focus away from my Izzy Elves and their blog, twitter, website, etc., to the historical fiction part of my writing. (Although I'm sure that the Izzies will soon make their feelings known about this.)

In less than four months (April 22, 2016, to be exact), A Buss from Lafayette, my new historical novel for young readers will be released by BQB Publishing.

About the Book

Fourteen-year-old Clara Hargraves lives on a farm in Hopkinton, a small New Hampshire town, during the 19th century. She has a couple of big problems. First of all, she has a stepmother, Priscilla, who used to be her spinster schoolteacher aunt. Clara, still grieving her mother, resents that her late mother’s older sister has not only married her father but is about to have a baby. To make matters worse, “Prissy Priscilla” keeps trying to make the rambunctious, clever, and witty Clara act like a proper young lady. Secondly, Clara has red hair, making her a target for teasing by a handsome older boy, Dickon Weeks, and by her pretty seventeen-year-old Dread Cousin Hetty. Clara, however, has a secret plan she hopes will change this.
During the last week of June, 1825, Clara’s town is abuzz because the famous General Lafayette is about to visit their state during his farewell tour of America. In those eventful seven days, Clara learns a lot about her family, Hetty, Dickon, and herself. In addition, she hears many stories from her family, neighbors, veterans, and from Lafayette himself. Through these tales, she comes to understand the huge and vital role the French aristocrat played in America’s Revolutionary War. She also comes to see that her problems might not be quite so ter bile after all.

A Buss from Ladfayette is available for pre-order right now, as both a paperback and as an e-book.  Yes, yes, I know that the buy links are posted on my blog (just look over to the right, unless you are on a mobile device, in which case I have no idea where these will show up).

I am putting them RIGHT HERE ON THIS POST to make it easier for you, however!

Here they are:

Paperback from BQB Publishing

Paperback and Kindle book from Amazon

Paperback and Nook book from Barnes and Noble

Kobo e-book from (naturally) Kobo

It can also be bought as an e-book from iTunes but I can't figure out how to get an actual link for that so you iBookers are on your own. Sorry about that.

I am waiting to get the e-pub file from my publisher so I can start writing "author insights" on Bublish.com. I have so enjoyed writing these "Bubbles" about my classic historical novel for kids, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, and two of my Izzy Elf stories.  I think others enjoy reading them, too.  Here is how many "hits" I've garnered so far:

I have no idea who these people are, but I'm grateful to everyone for reading what I write!


Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Izzies' Big Finish!





Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wow! Can you believe it? Age and Experience Help!!

I spent a number of years as an actress/singer in Gilbert and Sullivan troupes in Philadelphia and Minneapolis, as well as in a baroque opera company called Ex Machina.  After I moved to rural New Hampshire, I did not have the chance to perform any longer, and have missed it terribly. (It still seems odd to think that none of my New Hampshire friends, whom I have known for 25 years, have ever really seen me on stage.)

The surprising thing is, that quite without planning to do so (as my husband recently pointed out) 21st century technology is allowing me to pull all of my past experience together. My acting “chops” have made it easy for me to record audiobooks of my stories and to create video blogs about my writing. My singing background means I am able to record and post songs online that appear in my stories. (I certainly never envisioned doing this when I wrote these books!) My unusual family life, both growing up and raising kids, has given me a skill at playing with words. This makes it relatively easy for me to make people smile, not only in my published writing, but also in my blogs, tweets, websites, Bublishing, etc. 

Frankly, I write to entertain myself, my family, and my friends and hope it entertains those who accidentally come across my stuff on the internet and on paper. I am continually amazed to find that this actually works!

I think that all of these “life skills” have helped me garner thousands of hits on my web “platform” – more than 60,000 so far! No mean feat for a grandmother who was born just after World War II!

I am so grateful to those of you who have helped me reach this number.  Thank you!


Monday, December 14, 2015

I Give Up: Christmas Countdown in Verse #3

So from now until after Christmas, I will just let the Izzies take over my own personal blog.  They can be quite insistent for such little guys!

Here is their latest blog:

Christmas Countdown in Verse #3

Today we will focus on Frizzy a bit
Her new girl-type trucks seem to be a huge hit.
So now she is madly a-working away
To ready them all to arrive Christmas Day!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Izzies Post Second Christmas Countdown Verse!

 OK. I know that the Izzy Elves are supposed to stay on their on blog.  However, as you all know, it is That Most Wonderful Time of Year!

So from now until Christmas, I'll be sharing posts from the IzzyElfBlog.




 * * *


Christmas Eve Countdown: #2

You might have noticed that the first of our "advent" calendar poems we published yesterday was one day short of a regular advent calendar. That's because we Izzies are all about The Deadline, which for us is Christmas Eve. That is when we all stop working, help Santa load up the sleigh, and start celebrating.

This is not to say that we consider Christmas Day in any way unimportant!  No sirree! Christmas Day is what gives all of us our purpose in life.

Having said that, back to the Christmas Eve Countdown!  (Here's one about Blizzy!)

* * *

We are all quite amused to watch Blizzy the elf
Hang mistletoe bunches up all by herself.
And she's hung up so many that she cannot miss:
Her Tizzy will give her a mistletoe kiss!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A Rhyming Advent Calendar (Sorry about the chocolate.)

The Izzy Elves have starting writing a rhyming countdown to Christmas in their Spare Time. (It's hard to imagine that they have any, given their work load at this time of year.)

However, here is the first verse (I'm quoting from their blog):

‘Tis twelve days til Christmas and at the North Pole
We Izzies are working away, with one goal:
To make the right gifts for each child on the list.
(We want to make sure not a one has been missed.)
S.C. has examined each one of your letters
And scanned the web wishlists of online go-getters.
So our task is quite huge, and time’s wasting away.
We’d better get busy and fill Santa’s sleigh!

Much love,
Santa’s Izzy Elves

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A real life boy talks about his ride in Santa's sleigh!

I don't feel like writing a blog post myself this morning, so I'm just passing along one that the Izzy Elves wrote this morning!


* * *

As some of you may know, several of our Izzy Elf adventures have included some of Deedy's (Dorothea Jensen to you) grandsons. Her oldest grandson, Stuart, (also known as the Senior Cousin) and his little brother, Drake, "star" in Dizzy's story (along with Dizzy himself, of course, not to mention Santa Claus).

Recently, Deedy interviewed Stuart about Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf, in which he, Drake, and Dizzy take a wild ride in Santa's sleigh.

Here is the magic link to watch this!

Deedy's Grandson Guest Blogging 



The Izzy Elves

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Over to You, Izzy Elves! (Giveaway Day 3)

 So the Izzies feel so strongly about disassociating themselves from the so-called "elf on the shelf" that they asked me to put another one of their posts on my blog.

As I feel pretty strongly about it, too, I agreed.

Here it is:

 * * *

This is day three of the Kindle giveaway of Tizzy's story, Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf. Here's the Magic Link:

Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf, Santa's Izzy Elves #1
  It suddenly occurred to us Izzy Elves, however, that some of you might think this book has something to do with the Elf on the Shelf stuff.

We hasten to assure you that it does not. Yes, there are some shelves involved. Tizzy story is about how he was packed away inside a bookcase by mistake (by Whizzy, as it turns out) and ended up stranded in the living room of two naughty little boys. (They have to figure out how to help him get home to the Pole by using the power of their own imaginations.)

However, we would like to assure you that Tizzy and the rest other of us Izzy Elves would never SPY on any children and rat them out to Santa Claus!

In fact, in the original version of Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf, Bizzy talks about this (and obviously disapproves of it):

I’ve heard that some other elves spy on bad kids
But that’s way too creepy—that Santa forbids!

In the interest of Full Disclosure, we must tell you that Deedy (that's Dorothea Jensen to you) wrote Tizzy's story down many years ago, she did, in fact, call it The Elf on the Shelf.  By the time it was published, however, she found that someone else had used that title.  To avoid confusion, she re-named it Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf.

Therefore, a few people might be disappointed when they read this because nobody is a spy, but most are delighted!

And now you can find out what your reaction would be for free!

Here's the Magic Link again:

Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf, Santa's Izzy Elves #1

Santa's Izzy Elves

 Whizzy         Bizzy
 Dizzy            Tizzy

 Blizzy            Fizzy
 Frizzy            Quizzy

Friday, November 27, 2015

Second Day of Giveaway!

This is the second day of the GIVEAWAY of the Kindle edition of TIZZY, THE CHRISTMAS SHELF ELF, the first of the Santa's Izzy Elves stories. Get yours today!  Here's the link:
Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf, Santa's Izzy Elves #1
Here is one of my favorite reviews of this story, by Rene@MotherDaughterBookReviews.com.
Tizzy, The Christmas Shelf Elf is a lovely rhyming book begging to be read aloud in the tradition of the classic poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas”, more commonly known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas” penned by Clement Clarke Moore. In this version, “Twas the morning of Christmas and way before dawn…” and two brothers, Alex and Owen, tiptoe down the stairs to get a sneak peek at their presents. While they desperately are hoping for video games, they are disheartened to discover that they instead were gifted … books! *gasp*

They are even more surprised to discover a tiny elf, Tizzy – one of S.C.’s (i.e., Santa Claus) elves – who was accidentally packed into a present. Alex and Owen try a number of ways to return Tizzy to his home, but they soon discover that there is magic deep within the pages of books. The boys must hurry though, as they hear their parents coming down the stairs, and they are about to unknowingly place Tizzy in grave danger.

What I love the most about Tizzy, The Christmas Shelf Elf is that it is a true “read-aloud” story. While the book is indeed illustrated beautifully by Michelle Alfonso. I think children will be totally captivated by the story. There are some funny passages such as when the boys mistake Tizzy for a mouse and Tizzy gets chased by characters in the video game. The author also provides some tension to the story such as when the parents throw the packing fluff into the fire and the boys are afraid that this spells the end for Tizzy. All in all, this rhyming book is perfect for reading aloud to children of varying ages. . .

My Bottom Line:

Tizzy, The Christmas Shelf Elf is a clever read-aloud story featuring two excited siblings who sneak down early Christmas morning and discover a very special surprise. Only through their discovery of the magic of books do they find a way to send Tizzy back home. Kudos to the author for highlighting the importance of books! I recommend this book to be read aloud to children ages 5 and older.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I just never know how those Izzies will react! (Free giveaway starts today!)


 Once in awhile, Santa's Izzy Elves allow me to put one of my posts on their blog, at  izzyelfblog.blogspot.com. Today I decided to allow them to put one of their posts on mine.
I learn a lot about the Izzies by reading their blog. Who would have thought that Tizzy's feelings would be hurt by my giving away Kindle copies of his story? 

Sometimes it's hard to understand Elves.

Almost as hard as understanding offspring.


 Cheers, Deedy (aka Dorothea Jensen)

* * *


We Izzy Elves are not QUITE sure why, but starting today, Deedy (that's Dorothea Jensen to you) is giving away Kindle e-books of our Tizzy's story FOR FREE!

Here's the magic link:


Tizzy has mixed feelings about this, to say the least.  He wonders why the other three stories, Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf; Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf; and Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf, are not free, too.

He worries that Somebody thinks his story isn't worth anything. We explained that whenever Somebody gives a book away as a gift, that means Somebody thinks it is EXTRA valuable.

We also told him that his story will only be given away as a gift until Monday. After that people will have to pay to buy it again. That made him feel better.  We think.

Of course, his story is also on Kindle Select for awhile, so some people will be able to read it for free, but the rest of us Izzies decided not to tell Tizzy that until we know how to explain it better.

Anyway, here is the magic link again.  Just in case.



Blizzy, Dizzy, Frizzy, Quizzy, Whizzy, Fizzy, and Bizzy

(Yes, we know that we didn't include Tizzy in our sign-off. That's because he doesn't know about this post. Shhh!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bublish Celebration!

So I hate to be a braggart, but take a look at this number:

This is the total - as of late today - number of "hits" on my Bublish account, that I began writing in late July. I have no idea who the people are who read my "Bubbles", or why they like to read them, but I would like to say "thanks" to all of you who have done so.

I have been having a wonderful time writing "background information" and "author insights" on Bublish for a couple of my Izzy Elf stories, as well as for my classic historical novel, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm. (I am SO looking forward to writing about my new historical novel for young readers, A Buss from Lafayette, which is coming out April 22, 2016.)

I really had no idea how to do this when I started Bublishing exactly four months ago.  I found, however, that it was terrific fun to revisit my stories, sometimes many years after writing them (30+ years, in the case of Riddle). I can't believe how easily I recall how I came up with ideas. Especially at my age.

In any case, I ended up simply writing stuff to entertain myself.

I am delighted that my Bubbling is apparently entertaining for others as well.

Here's the link if anyone out there might like to take a peek at my Bublish stuff.

My Bublish Account

Hope you like it!


Dorothea Jensen

Monday, November 23, 2015

GIVEAWAY 11/26-11/30

Ok, I know that I said this blog would not be about anyone with pointy ears, but I'm violating that promise today.  But for a good reason!

The Kindle edition of my first Izzy Elf story, Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf, will be available for FREE beginning Thanksgiving day and ending Monday, November 30. Just follow the link below on those days and start your holiday season with Tizzy's adventures!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Colonial Day Revisited!

Son Nate at his 4th (?) grade Colonial Day
Just before we moved from Wayne, Pennsylvania to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1981, my older son's school held a "Colonial Day".  Nate was in 4th grade or so, and I believe they had been studying life in colonial America.

Parents were asked to help out, and I ended up demonstrating "finger weaving" with yarn, something I knew nothing about, so I must have had a crash course. I cobbled together a costume of sorts to look vaguely "colonial", but the only antique-looking hat I owned was a lace one I had brought back with me from Holland (where we lived in the mid-1970s). Oddly enough, 30 years later I learned that the first of my ancestors who came here as colonists actually were from the Netherlands. (These were the Yerxas, who 3 or 4 generations later were Loyalists and moved to Canada at the beginning of the American Revolution.) So as it turns out, my head was actually authentically garbed for my own family tree.

Anyway, several years later when I started to write The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, I remembered the Wayne Elementary School Colonial Day festivities and ended up using such a setting for the Big Finish of the story.  Here's the beginning of that scene. . .

"Winning so many of the colonial competitions helped a lot. So did the colonial name tag I had pinned on my waistcoat. With secret satisfaction I looked down at it and read it to myself. There, in my best calligraphy, was the name Geordie.

My mother came hustling up to me, with Dad trailing along in her wake. “Good grief, Lars, that’s the third blue ribbon you’ve won today!” she exclaimed. “How did you learn to be so good at old stuff like that game with the funny name—huzzlecap? You got every penny—pardon me, I mean farthing, in that three-cornered hat,” Mom exclaimed.

“Beginner’s luck,” I said, thinking of the time I had spent pitching coins into Geordie’s tricorne.

   Dad looked around at the mob of children and parents nearby spinning wool, making butter
and paper, smithing tin. “This Colonial Day is certainly a good idea for you kids. I’m even
learning a thing or two myself—like about that cider press. Will Hargreaves said he’d show me
how to build one.”

   Mom clapped her hands. “Won’t it be fun to make some apple cider at Penncroft just like they used to?”

  “Or perry,” I said, hastily adding, “That is, er, very . . . very fun.” -The Riddle of Penncroft Farm © 1989 by Dorothea Jensen

Showing Contempt for America, 1777-8

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

  “The only things outnumbering redcoats are black flies,” I muttered to myself as I came to the
Pennsylvania State House. I peered up at the soaring tower to see the great bell that had been
rung to summon folk to hear the Declaration of Independence.
   The tower was empty. Mystified, my eyes fell to the second-story windows that fronted the
Long Gallery—site of elegant state dinners. But Congress had long since fled the city, and no
elegant diners peered down from the Long Gallery today. Instead, I spied a crowd of gaunt,
ragged men, eyes huge in their skeletal faces. 

- The Riddle of Penncroft Farm ©1989 by Dorothea Jensen


What is now known as Independence Hall was originally the Pennsylvania State House. Building was begun in 1832 but was not finished until 1853. It was here that the Continental Congress met and the Declaration of Independence was adopted. (It was also here that the Consitution was debated and signed in 1787.)


The British forces used it to house American prisoners of war during their occupation of Philadelphia during the winter of 1777-8. What better way to show contempt for the momentous events that happened within its walls?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bilbo-Catcher: A Missed Opportunity

When I was writing The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, I needed to come up with a toy from the 18th century that could have survived as a family heirloom into the 20th century.

I remembered that Jane Austen (my favorite author) was an expert at playing with a wooden cup and ball. She is reputed to have been able to get the ball into the cup 100 times in succession.  (Anyone who has tried to do this even one time knows how hard this is!) Jane Austen was born just before the American Revolution began, and doubtless learned to excel with this toy as a child. Therefore it seemed to me that the cup and ball would work as the 18th century toy I needed.

It was only well after Riddle was published that I found out that the cup and ball was also called a "bilbo-catcher". Evoking as it did the whole Lord of the Rings saga, I would have loved to have used it in Riddle. 

Too late.  : (

Here is one reference I made to this toy in Riddle:

    Father’s expression softened. He looked at me and smiled. “Poor Geordie. Seems only yesterday you were playing with gewgaws. Remember the toy soldier from England that I bought in Philadelphia when you were still in leading strings?”
   I nodded. Next to the cup and ball that Will had carved of apple wood from our trees, that lead
soldier had been my favorite toy. How Mother had protested when Father had given the small grenadier to me! With her Quaker beliefs, she didn’t think it fit for child’s play.    

-The Riddle of Penncroft Farm © 1989 by Dorothea Jensen

Saturday, October 24, 2015


The City Tavern, Philadelphia
I wrote two scenes in The Riddle of Penncroft Farm  that are set in the City Tavern, an 18th century eating place that was a favorite with the Founding Fathers. It was also where Washington and Lafayette met for the first time.

The original building was torn down in the 19th century, and re-built just in time for the Bicentennial celebration in 1976.  This also happened to be exactly when we moved to the Philadelphia area. We used to take our kids there to enjoy the authentic 18th century food, the costumed wait staff, and the period setting.

You may imagine my delight when I looked City Tavern up on Wikipedia many years later and found this:

City Tavern sign from the street,
City Tavern Dining Room
Of course, the Wiki writer got a few details wrong (Will is working as a servant, not an apprentice as such) but it is still thrilling!

Here is the street sign for the City Tavern, which is located at 2nd and Walnut in downtown Philadelphia. BTW, I have not been there since taking these pictures in 1992, and it might have changed a bit since then.

The next picture is of a City Tavern dining room.  The dish I usually ordered was the Tavern Pasty, as I recall.  I had a fondness for this dish, as I had used it in Riddle. (The following scene actually takes place at a different tavern, Welch's Tavern, just before the battle begins at the Brandywine).

I thanked the tavern keeper, then ran outside and hitched up my father’s slugfooted team, Daisy and Buttercup. A morning fog was rising, but I could clearly see the vedettes’ horses tied nearby. When I returned to the common room, Mr. Welsh handed me a small leather pouch full of coins and a bundle that smelt of spicy apple tart and savory beef pasty. 
                                                            -The Riddle of Penncroft Farm ©1989 by Dorothea Jensen

City Tavern Hallway
The final picture is the hallway inside the City Tavern, with a couple of costumed waiters who obligingly posed for me. In the background to the right is the door I imagined would lead to the basement stairs. I have no idea where it really leads.

Here's how I used it in Riddle, when Geordie goes to the City Tavern during the British occupation of Philadelphia to try and sell fruit and perry, a kind of hard cider, to the manager, "Little" Smith:

The situation was quite different at the elegant City Tavern, where a great blazing fire warmed the patrons to a nicety. Threading my way through the crowd of periwigged merchants and elegant officers to the Bar Room, I soon found the manager, Daniel Smith.   Much to my relief, he jumped at my shy offer of fruit and drink.
  “Of course, lad, I’ll take everything you’ve got—and whatever else you can bring me. Our
supplies are in a sorry state, and the British officers are like to drink my cellar dry. Here, I’ll get
someone to help you unload. Billy?”
   At his summons, a man poked his head out from the hallway door—a man dressed in
servant’s livery, who leaned on a hand-whittled cane and looked at me with eyes full of
  ’Twas Will. As if in a dream, I followed him outside. “Will, what in blazes are you . . .”
   Will looked about furtively. “Shhh. Billy, if you please,” he whispered out of the side of his
mouth in a way that, under ordinary circumstances, would have made me laugh. “And don’t
stand about like a ninnyhammer! Help me with these barrels.”

                                                      -The Riddle of Penncroft Farm ©1989 by Dorothea Jensen

Friday, October 23, 2015


Here is another picture I took when visiting the sites I used in THE RIDDLE OF PENNCROFT FARM a couple of years after it was published. The little girl in the picture is my daughter, who is now 35, has four sons, and a PhD. How tempus fugit!

Those of you who have read this story know that Lars first meets the mysterious Geordie on a covered bridge near Penncroft Farm.

Here's what I wrote:

* * *

   I gave a tentative kick to a good-size stone on the shoulder of the road. It skittered nicely across the blacktop, so I kicked it down the narrow, winding road. I was so intent on what I was
doing that I didn’t pay attention to anything else. I suppose that’s why, when I came to the old covered bridge, I didn’t notice anybody standing inside, until my rock disappeared under the
roof of the bridge, and I looked up. Someone about my age or a little older stood facing the other direction. Even in the shadows, I could tell it was a girl—the ponytail and puffy sleeves
made that obvious.
  I was determined not to get off on the wrong foot with this girl. “Hi,” I said shyly. “I didn’t see you there. Hope I didn’t hit you with my rock.”
   She turned around. There was nothing female about the face that grinned at me, or the gruff
voice. “Nay, you missed me by a furlong.”
   I was astonished. This was a boy all right, but he was wearing the weirdest clothes I’d ever
seen. Besides the white shirt with billowy sleeves, he had on pants that ended at his knees,
long white socks, and black shoes with big buckles. In his hand was a hat—a three-cornered
   Boy, Pennsylvania kids really go all out for Halloween, I thought. And do they talk funny.
   “Furlong?” I echoed, wondering if it meant far or long or whatever.

- The Riddle of Penncroft Farm © 1989 by Dorothea Jensen

BUSS is a KOBO book, too!

Ok, I admit it.  I didn't know anything about Kobo books until today.

When A Buss From Lafayette showed up as pre-orderable on the Kobo website.

Here's the link:

Pre-order a Kobo book of A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE

A Nook for BUSS!!

This has been an exciting morning. 

The online Barnes and Noble store just posted this:

A Pre-order Link for A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE Nook Book

A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE has been Kindled!

Woo Hoo!

Amazon just posted a pre-order button for the Kindle edition of my new historical novel for young readers, A Buss From Lafayette!

Check it out!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The REAL Penncroft Farm (sort of)

In the 1970s, we lived for five years in Wayne, PA, outside Philadelphia. (Wayne, BTW, was named after "Mad" Anthony Wayne, a Pennsylvanian who served in the Revolution War with distinction and was quite a colorful character, apparently.) Our sons learned to ride bikes at Valley Forge, and our family often visited Brandywine Battlefield and historic sites in Philadelphia. We especially liked eating lunch at the City Tavern.  (More about that later.) 

A couple we knew while we lived there had a horse farm they named "Penncroft Farm".  Their house was built in the antique Pennsylvania style, with different sections that had differing exterior finishes.

After we moved to Minnesota in 1981, I did not want my kids to forget the history we had experienced while living in Pennsylvania.  Very soon after that, I started writing a story about a boy who moved from Minnesota to Pennsylvania.  I needed a name for the farm where he and his family were to make their new home.  I wanted it to sound a bit exotic to the Minnesota boy, and reflect the Pennsylvania location. Then I remembered the name of our friends' place and borrowed its name: "Penncroft Farm". It took me a long time to write (and to find a publisher) but The Riddle of Penncroft Farm was released in 1989 by Harcourt.

After we moved to New Hampshire in 1991, my then 11 year-old daughter and I went back to Pennsylvania to see some old friends. We took the opportunity to visit some of the places that I had put into The Riddle of Penncroft Farm when I was living a thousand miles away.

Here is the "original" Penncroft Farm. (I wouldn't be able to find it today. Our friends moved away from there just after we did in the early 80s, and now I don't remember where it was.)

 Here is how I described the fictional Penncroft Farm in the book:

      The headlights picked out a crooked wooden fence and a post with a sign in spiky, old fashioned
letters. “‘Penncroft Farm,’” I read out loud. “‘Established 1760.’”
      Dad eased the car around the corner and started up the driveway. “Don’t even think of
skateboarding down this, Lars,” he said. “There’s quite a drop-off on the other side of the pike.
You’d break a leg if you went off it, and maybe your neck.”
     “It’s too rutted for skateboarding anyway, Dad,” I replied. Then, as we jounced up the long,
steep driveway, I stuck my head out the window to check out my new home.
     Even by moonlight I could tell that it was different from any house I’d ever seen. It looked as if
someone hadn’t been able to decide what sort of house he wanted, so he’d hooked several
kinds together. There were dark, bumpy stones on the middle part, but the left section was
shingled like our old Minnesota house; the right was covered with white stuff."

-The Riddle of Penncroft Farm  © 1989 Dorothea G. Jensen

Here is the cover art done by Gary Lippincott for the back of the original hardcover edition of The Riddle of Penncroft Farm. As he apparently grew up near the location of my story, he knew exactly what colonial houses of that region looked like. I've always liked this picture, except for the fact that  the driveway goes UPHILL. 

Lars would have had a hard time skateboarding "down" it except by pretty tricky maneuvering!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

THE RIDDLE OF PENNCROFT FARM: Historical Fiction Squared??

I have been re-reading The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, my historical novel about the American Revolution for young readers, in order to write "bubbles", i.e. author insights, about it on my Bublish page.

I am happy to report that it is still quite a good story. (I feel I can say that because I wrote it so long ago it seems as if somebody else is the author.) It is really two stories, however: one set in "modern" times and the other set during the American Revolution.

As the School Library Journal said about Riddle:

"This is an entertaining mystery involving a missing will that could stand alone, but combined with Geordie's enthralling tales of Valley Forge during the American Revolution, Jensen gives readers two terrific stories that are intertwined nicely and come together in a satisfying conclusion." 

As I have a new historical novel for kids (middle graders and young adults) coming out in the spring, (A Buss From Lafayette), I have been thinking lately about what historical fiction is, exactly.  There are a number of  definitions out there, as this Wikipedia article shows:

When I read these definitions, I realized that it has been more than 25 years since Riddle was published, and more than 30 years since I started to write it.  That could mean, according to the last definition, that the "modern" part of the book might be regarded as "historical" now. (Although it all gets a bit convoluted because obviously it was not set 25 years before it was written.) But young readers of today could certainly read the "modern" part of my story as if it were also "historical." 

The "modern" setting of Riddle took place in the 1980s, which in some ways is as distant from today as the American Revolution. No cell phones.  No internet. No e-mail.  No streaming videos. No texting. No video games. (Pong doesn't count.) 

Let's face it, in a way, America has been through another Revolution in the last 25 years. So my book is actually portraying TWO eras that are well and truly "bygone".

Besides, since thinking of it this way would put my book in the same category as Jane Austen's, I am more than happy to do so!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I'm not USUALLY a braggart, but. . .

Take a gander at this lovely number! That's the number of times people have read one of my "author insights" (called "bubbles") since I started writing them on my Bublish.com author page in late July.  (https://www.bublish.com/author/view/5755)

I've been having great fun re-visiting books I've written, both recent and not-so-recent, and reminiscing about how I came up with ideas for these stories.

In the case of The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, this means remembering bits from many years ago, as  I started writing that story in the early 80s!  I am amazed to find that when I read it now, I still recall why I put certain things into Riddle, and where many of my ideas originated. 

Sometimes, I make a Bubble that simply directs readers to other sites to see pictures of objects mentioned in the story (stake-and-rider fences, pudding caps, riddles, etc.), to watch a book trailer, or video blog, or to hear a song that is sung by a character in the book.

I have also been writing bits about two of my four Izzy Elf books, Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf, and Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf. (FYI: a fifth is in the works, Bizzy, the Know-It-All Elf.) Of course, these are fantasy story poems, so it's harder to refer readers to places where they can see the imagined items mentioned in these stories, such as Virtual Reins, Elfascopes etc. However, I do direct readers to sites where they can watch book trailers, video blogs etc.  

I guess anyone who wants to see these interesting elfin devices will just have to buy the Santa's Izzy Elves books. (Now there's a thought!)

As you might suspect from the devices cited above, the Izzy Elves (and Santa himself) are quite 21st century in the way they approach their age old tasks.

Anyway, you are cordially invited to visit my Bublish page to join in the fun.(https://www.bublish.com/author/view/5755)

P.S. I can hardly wait to start writing "insights" about my new historical novel for young readers,  A Buss From Lafayette. I've got a manuscript all marked up ready to go, but I can't post anything until the book is 100% finalized. With any luck, that will happen in about a month. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Big News! A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE is available for pre-order!

Woo hoo!

My new historical novel for young readers, A Buss from Lafayette,  can now be pre-ordered.

It will be released on April 22, 2016.

Here's the link from the publisher, BQB, where it can be purchased at a discount at this time.  Eventually there will also be pre-order/order links on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Books,  iBooks, and Kobo.  Buss will also be available from Ingram and Baker & Taylor.



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cross Blogging with the Izzy Elves

Yes, yes, I know I'm supposed to keep my Izzy Elves confined to their own blog, but I just had to share this Elf-Oriented video blog here.

Dorothea Jensen Video Blog #5: Elf Origin

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tough to Keep the Two Parts of My Writing Life Straight!

So, as you may know, I write two TOTALLY different kinds of stories for kids: historical fiction and rhyming modern Christmas stories (illustrated).

Sometimes it gets a bit confusing for me.  But I keep trudging away.

For example, the Izzy Elves love to use social media. (Through which they often complain about me). They especially hate it when something about my historical fiction is accidentally posted on their IzzyElfBlog or on their twitter account.  They apparently resent that I have been spending so much time lately working on my latest work of historical fiction, A Buss from Lafayette. 

I try my best to stay out of their way, but I have found that if I write a "bubble" on my Bublish account) and click on "share", it gets posted on whichever twitter or Facebook account is open.

And because it is officially posted by Bublish, I can't delete it.

The Izzy Elves get really steamed when this happens.

Sorry, Izzies.

I'm Doing My Best!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

How to become a writer. . .

Here I am reading, back when I was Dorothea Johnson
Well, I can't speak for all writers, but I will say that the way I became a writer was by reading when I was a kid. All the time. Under bed covers. In closets. (It was very noisy at our house with five kids, and lots of instruments being played.) And once in awhile, if it was relatively quiet, I even read in the living room, as I am doing here.

I think I was in the third grade in this picture.  I can only tell that because of the giant Raggedy Andy doll that is sharing the chair with me. I remember holding him on my lap when I read a poem ("There are Fairies in the Bottom of my Garden") to open our third grade production of a play about Raggedy Ann and Andy.  I don't know why they asked me to read that: it had nothing to do with R. Ann and Andy. But I sat out in front of the curtain on stage and read it. I think I ignored the audience and pretended I was just reading to R. Andy.  

I have no idea why there is a yardstick poking out from the chair.

Another Kind of Writing Sample: Robin Williams

Since I have posted several examples of my past writing, I decided to include a piece I wrote about meeting Robin Williams.  I wrote this right after he died, and it was published in several print newspapers and on a number of online sites. 

I think that the first anniversary of his death occurred recently, so I thought I'd post it on here in his memory.

* * *

Meeting Robin Williams

I was saddened to hear today of the suicide of Robin Williams. He was a gifted comedian and actor, and also, as my own experience showed me, a very sweet and thoughtful man.

A number of years ago, my husband and I were in Los Angeles, visiting our son, Adam (who goes by his middle name, Hawk, in his film and television profession). Adam asked if we wanted to go see a Robin Williams comedy performance at a large theater in L.A. He said he could get us V.I.P. tickets through a friend of a friend. We, of course, accepted.

It turned out that this performance was one of the first that Robin Williams did after a long hiatus from live comedy, and after he had managed to conquer (temporarily as it turned out) a drug addiction. It was thus a bit of a test run for him, and the beginning of a national tour, to see if he still had what it took to amuse a huge, diverse, live audience.

He did.

Of course, some of what he said was what we used to call “blue”. I noted that one of Adam’s friends, who was sitting next to me, kept glancing uneasily at me as if afraid I was offended by what I was hearing. I patted his knee and said, in between helpless laughter, “Don’t worry, I grew up in the 60s. This is nothing I haven’t heard before.”

Although, of course, there was actually plenty I hadn’t heard before. Not exactly in that way. No one could riff like Robin Williams and he was in wonderful form that night.

When the performance was over, Adam said our V.I.P. tickets entitled us to go backstage to meet Robin Williams.  We rushed to do this, and found ourselves in a room that was jammed with other people who also had V.I.P. tickets, apparently.

I looked around curiously at the crowd: it was composed of “beautiful people”, all well dressed in the requisite ”hip” L.A. black clothing, and many well-botoxed. I think there were a number of celebrities in the herd, but I didn’t recognize anyone. I figured that our chances of actually meeting Robin Williams were quite low, given the density and “celebrity” of the crowd in the room.

After awhile, I saw the comedian come in, and there was a buzz as people jostled around him for their V.I.P. close encounter.  Again, I despaired that we would be able to speak with him. Soon, however, Robin Williams started walking through the crowd in our direction and stopped nearby.

I gathered my courage and said “Mr. Williams, you were so wonderful out there tonight. I especially liked your description of boys circling your teenaged daughter like tomcats, which  really rang a bell with us.”

But before I could say anything else, someone tapped Robin Williams on the shoulder. It was the manager of a second or third tier celebrity brother of a first tier celebrity who wanted to talk to him.  Williams sighed, and apologized to me. Since I was in no tier at all, I accepted that my fleeting moment with him was at an end and watched him walk off through the crowd.

I solaced myself with a glass of the champagne provided for us V.I.P.s, and chatted with my husband and son for ten minutes or so.

Then someone tapped me on the shoulder.

It was Robin Williams. “I’m sorry we were interrupted,” he said. “Please go on with what you were saying.”

I was truly astonished, but recovered enough to chat with him for awhile about the challenges of raising teenaged daughters. Finally, I thanked him sincerely for coming back to find me.

After he moved on, I thought about what he had done. It was probably quite simple for him to find me. I was the “sore thumb” in that crowd: my clothes were anything but black, and my face anything but Botoxed. I’m sure it was clear that I was a V.I.P in ticket only. But Robin Williams came to find me again anyway.

He was a real gentleman whose quicksilver talent and personal grace will be missed. May he rest in peace.

Dorothea Jensen


Friday, September 25, 2015

Wow! I'm a FIVE CENTURY Writer!

I was thinking the other day about the fact that my first historical novel for kids (The Riddle of Penncroft Farm) was set in the 20th Century and the 18th Century.  My second historical novel for kids (A Buss from Lafayette) is set in the 19th century with lots of information about the 18th.  My third historical novel for kids (A Scalp on the Moon, which I'm working on now) is set in the 17th century.

I said to my husband, "Wow! That means I will have written  about four different centuries: the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th!"

He looked at me.

"Deedy, " he said. "Your Izzies are 21st century elves."

He's right.

I guess that makes me a Five Century Writer!

Woo hoo!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Wonderful Lafayette Exhibit in Boston!

Last week I had the great pleasure of touring the special collection of Lafayette pictures, sculptures, etc. at the Boston Atheneum.  This was put together in honor of the visit of L’Hermione, an exact reconstruction of the ship that carried General Lafayette to America in 1780.  At the time Lafayette was carrying the news that France was sending troops and ships to help America in its struggle with Britain. (Please see my June post about watching L'Hermione land in Yorktown, Virginia, after crossing the Atlantic.) The original L'Hermione actually landed in Boston within walking distance of where I am standing.

Anyway, this tour was done under the auspices of the American Friends of Lafayette.  It was a delight to view these pictures and sculptures, most of which I have seen many times in books and on my computer screen.  They are so much more vivid and moving "in person"! (Especially the "life mask" which clearly shows the exact features of Lafyette's face.)

I have read a lot about Lafayette over the last years, in preparation for writing my novel for middle graders/young adults, A Buss from Lafayette.  It was wonderful to see him looking out from the walls of the Atheneum, portrayed in so many stages of his amazing life!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


 Woo hoo # 2!  Here is the first "trailer" for my new novel for young readers, A Buss from Lafayette.  



Monday, September 14, 2015


Woo hoo!  After more than 25 years in print, here is a new trailer for my classic historical novel for young readers about the American Revolution, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm.  This was an excellent opportunity to share some of the pictures that were used to illustrate an excerpt published in a school anthology, as well as some of the cover art created for the first hardcover edition of the novel. All are by artist Gary Lippincott, who grew up very, very close to where the story actually takes place.


Trailer: The Riddle of Penncroft Farm