Saturday, November 25, 2023

 Finding reviews in the oddest places!

As some of you may know from my website,, I used to have another website  spotlighting A Buss from Lafayette. After a few years, I found that keeping up two sites with sometimes overlapping content was too much for me. I canceled everything I could, and stopped payment on the site host, thinking that meant the end of it.

Not long after that, however, I discovered that my old domain name had apparently been acquired by a Nigerian scam group. Weirdly enough, they left all the information about my book in situ. Instead, they inserted links to their scams inside what I had originally posted. Very Strange.

Recently I stumbled across my old site's latest iteration. It is now being used to attract people to some other kind of foreign investment venture. Oddly enough, it appears that someone actually read A Buss from Lafayette and wrote a review on the site! (I believe that this was done so that all the positive qualities of my story could be linked to the positive qualities of the investment deal.) 

Since I feel that a review is a review no matter its source or purpose, however,  I am posting it here:

Once upon a time, in the world of literature, there was a remarkable historical novel for young adults known as "A Buss from Lafayette." Written by the talented author Dorothea Jensen, this book took readers on a journey through time and history, offering a delightful blend of education and entertainment.  In "A Buss from Lafayette," readers are introduced to a witty young girl in New Hampshire who embarks on a quest to discover her family's past, understand her own identity, and explore the significant role of General Lafayette in America's fight for independence during his Farewell Tour of America in 1824-5. As they turn the pages, readers are not only captivated by the intriguing characters and their adventures but also enlightened about a pivotal period in American history.

"A Buss from Lafayette" is a story of discovery, identity, and the pursuit of what is just and right. It reflects the values of integrity, honesty, and the relentless quest for truth. . . 

Clearly whoever read my book and wrote about it understood what I was trying to do.

Not bad for a foreign investment dude!



Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Creating Elf Pix!

One reason I self-publish my elf books is that I so enjoy working directly with an illustrator.

Today I will talk about the steps taken by my illustrator, Shayne Hood, and myself to create the perfect picture to illustrate a page of my story, Bizzy, the Bossy Boots Elf. This scene takes place in the gift shop at an amusement park called “Santa Claus Lane,” which is shamelessly modeled on Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH.

I started by actually visiting Santa’s Village with my husband, and Miles and Henry, our twin grandsons. They had been pressuring me to write a story about them ever since they realized that their two brothers and two cousins all were in other books I had written.

For inspiration, my husband and I took Henry and Miles to Santa’s Village. Here they are in the gift shop there, which looks a bit like “Santa’s Workshop.”

Henry (l) and Miles (r), aged 6, in "Santa's Workshop" 

at Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire, in July, 2019.

During the pandemic shutdown, I finally wrote the rhyming story about the Izzy Elves going on a vacation, in disguise, to the amusement part called “Santa Claus Lane.” (This was actually a small amusement park near Santa Barbara, CA, where the boys live. It operated from about 1950 until 2000.) 

In the story, Henry and Miles go to Santa Claus Lane, too, with their Gramma and Grampa. (My husband and I.) The boys have read all the other Izzy Elf books, and know 1) what all of the elves look like, 2) what each of them is named 3) what toys each makes, or job each does. (Blizzy makes snow globes; Fizzy makes Jills-in-the-box; Dizzy makes elfascopes; Quizzy makes puzzles; Whizzy wraps presents and designs wrapping paper; Frizzy has changed from styling dolls’ hair to making toy monster trucks; Tizzy reads and recommends books for Santa to deliver; Bizzy manages all the other elves.)

Throughout the day, the boys and the elves keep ending up more or less on the same rides and in the same places, but Miles and Henry have not yet realized the identity of the eight disguised elves.


One of their close calls comes at the amusement park’s gift shop. I wanted the picture to show how the elves and boys almost (but not quite) meet there. This meant there had to be some kind of structure which blocked the view of each from the other. Below is Shayne’s first sketch for this scene There were many aspects of this picture that appealed to me, but there was nothing that would keep the boys from seeing the elves.

Shayne Hood's first draft of the Santa's Workshop/Giftshop scene.

It occurred to me that some of the toys mentioned in the other stories could be for sale at the giftshop. I cut up Shayne's picture, moved the pieces around, sketched in a cabinet with a high back, and scotch taped the pieces together.I figured that a cabinet with a high back could separate the boys and elves, and also provide a place where various toys etc. made by the elves could be on display. My rough pieced-together version looked like this:

 Shayne took this idea and ran with it! Here is the final version. 

(Please notice that my husgand and I (and Santa Claus) are standing in line to pay.

Here is the verse telling what happened in the gift shop:

The Izzies went on to their very next stop

Which the sign told them clearly was “Santa’s  Workshop.” 

“This doesn’t look much like the place where we work,”

Dizzy quickly remarked with a definite smirk.

“But have all of you noticed those hats with the ears?”

Asked Tizzy, “They’re our hats, or so it appears!”  

What the elves did not notice across the wide aisles

Was that something was thrilling young Henry and Miles.

For the two had discovered some toys made by elves,

And recognized all of them, all by themselves!

Miles said,“There are monster trucks made by “Sad” Frizzy,

And Jills-in-the-boxes constructed by Fizzy!”  

“There are elfascopes,” Henry said, “crafted by Dizzy,

And fun wrapping paper created by Whizzy

And Christmassy puzzles as painted by Quizzy!

And beautiful snow globes invented by Blizzy,”

Said Miles, “See the books recommended by Tizzy?

And the sign that the elves are all ‘managed by Bizzy!’ ”  

The boys kept admiring the elves’ handiwork,

But called by their grand-folk, they turned with a jerk.

Then they heard someone say, “Come on, guys, time to  go. 

We won’t see the rest if we all are too slow!”

Someone else muttered “Bossy Boots,” but then murmured “fine,”

And the gaggle went out in a straggly line. ”

And finally, here is the cover for Bizzy, the Bossy Boots Elf.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Always nice to find verification. . .

I found this on the Concord Insider today:

June 22, 1825: The Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution, visits Concord during his government-sponsored tour of all 24 states. Driven down Main Street in a four-wheel carriage, he is greeted by a crowd of 30,000 to 40,000. At the State House, 200 to 300 Revolutionary War veterans gather to shake his hand. Many weep. Nine years later, Concord’s Fayette Street will be named in memory of this day. An elm planted on the State House lawn to commemorate the event will flourish until 1956, when the state pays $300 to get rid of it. Gov. Lane Dwinell will salvage a few engraved gavels from the Lafayette elm. Other residents will use slabs from the trunk for coffee tables.

Here's some of my account of the day Lafayette was honored in Concord, NH as per Chapter 13 of A Buss from Lafayette

“The conversation was equally as brisk, with Major Weeks telling us all about the huge celebration honoring Lafayette that had been held in Concord the day before.

I noted that he did not preface it by describing what he had worn to the celebration.

He did say that Concord had been filled to the brim with nearly forty thousand people, more than ten times the town’s normal population. Two cannons on the hill back of the State House kept firing away, and the church bell of Old North Church rang and rang and rang.

“Ladies and little girls showed up with their arms absolutely full of roses to bestow on the Nation’s Guest,” the major went on. “Then, when the procession with the man himself arrived, there was such a frenzy as I have never heard or seen in my entire life!”

“Was the procession just the General and his entourage?” Prissy asked.

“Oh, no, ma’am, ’twas far grander a spectacle than that!”

We all listened spellbound as the major told of Lafayette arriving in a barouche drawn by six white horses, followed by a stagecoach carrying his son, George Washington Lafayette, his secretary, Mr. Levasseur, and Amos Parker.”

A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen


Sunday, April 23, 2023

Washington Chasing Mr. Brown at Brandywine


I recently came across an account of Washington at Brandywine which matches up very well with my description in The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, and even has an illustration!

Arthur Becher, illustrator

Meanwhile Washington, hearing the firing far away on his right and fearing some disaster, dashed toward the sound, followed by his Aides and guided by a frightened and unwilling old man, named Joseph Brown, who had been hoisted on a horse and told to away on his right and fearing some disaster, dashed toward the sound, followed by his Aides and guided by a frightened and unwilling old man, named Joseph Brown, who had been hoisted on a horse and told to lead the way at top speed. Away they dashed across the fields, flying over fences and ditches, Washington continually urging his guide to set a faster pace and exclaiming " Push along, old man! Push along! " whenever he showed signs of weakening. But despite this wild steeple-chase, before the Commander-in-Chief could reach the scene of action, the defeated columns came rolling back in dire confusion.On the trail of Washington; a narrative history of Washington's boyhood and manhood, based on his own writings, authentic documents and other authoritative information, by Hill, Frederick Trevor, 1866-1930. 


By this time the gunfire was quickening, making Buttercup as skittish as an unbroken filly. I was still trying to get up on her when General Washington himself emerged from the house, calling for a guide to lead him to Birmingham Road. I half hoped and half feared that I would be that guide, but instead his aides brought up an elderly man from the neighborhood, Mr. Joseph Brown. Old Mr. Brown made every possible excuse not to go, but in the end was convinced at swordpoint where his duty lay. When he protested his lack of a horse, one of Washington’s aides dismounted from his own fine charger. As Brown reluctantly climbed into the saddle, Washington sat impatiently on his own beautiful white horse. The instant the frightened farmer was in place, Washington snapped a whip at the rump of the reluctant guide’s horse, which leaped into a gallop. The general followed, spurring his own mount until its nose pushed into the leader’s flank like a colt suckling its mother. Even this didn’t satisfy Washington, who cracked his whip and shouted, “Push along, old man, push along!” Spellbound, I watched the two race up the hill across the golden fields, jumping the fences as they came to them. I had never seen such horsemanship—superb on the part of the general, dreadful on the part of Mr. Brown. Behind them ran a ragged line of soldiers, rucksacks bobbing as they sped over the uneven ground.        —The Riddle of Penncroft Farm 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

My First Published Work!

During the 1956 presidential campaign, we went to see General Eisenhower in Peoria, Illinois. I wrote about our experience and my account was published in our elementary school "newspaper," called "Heard the Latest." (My last name was Johnson then, before I became Dorothea Jensen.) I was in the 7th grade.

Here's what I wrote:


By Dorothea Johnson

President Eisenhower is coming to Peoria. At this news, we were all pretty excited, but it wasn’t till the day he came that we decided to go. So, at about 7:00 P.M. we started out. My father, uncle, brother, and I. We took some of Mom’s friends with us too, but Mom decided to stay home.

Well, my brother and I both were dressed up, and my father and uncle were wearing suits. First of all, we went to the Bradley University Field House to see him talk, but the place was crowded so they wouldn’t let us in so we went to the airport, after buying some official-looking “I Like Ike” badges.

At the airport, it was mobbed so we lost Mom’s friends in the shuffle. Boy we were lucky that happened, you will know why later as they were dressed in Bermuda shorts and weren’t official-looking at all.

Next, as we were looking for a place see the President taking off, we found a gap in between a fence and a wall. We squeezed through and found ourselves in the midst of Secret Service and FBI Men. One was calling Washington DC on a phone hooked to a special truck nearby, describing the scene. They must have thought Daddy was a senator or something because they didn’t pay any attention to us. Before the President came, however, we noticed a foursome next to us. They were Senator and Mrs. Dirksen and Governor and Mrs. Stratton of Illinois. Pretty soon Governor Stratton came over, shook hands with all of us, and talked to us like he would a senator or something! I was giggling because my uncle’s glasses only had one shaft and he looked pretty silly.

Later, when the President was about to take off in the plane, he was standing in the door of the plane and was nodding at the main group of people, which was way over on the other side from us, and my uncle fairly screamed at the top of his lungs, “Good luck, Mister President!” The President turned, startled, then smiled and waved his hat at my uncle. Of course, he had a reason to be startled, for we were standing among the Secret Service and FBI Men.

Then we went up to the cars the President had arrived in. They were black and had chrome-plated handles for the S.S. and FBI Men to hold onto when they stood on the running board. On the back of the Lincoln convertible there was a big bulletproof transparent bubble. We stuck our heads inside the car and knocked a few times on the bubble. Of course, we received a few glassy stares for this.

When we had looked our fill, we went back to the car and found Mom’s two friends waiting. We had bet ourselves that we could keep quiet about our adventure ‘till we got home. We told them that we couldn’t see the President from where we were. They told us we should have stayed with them because they had a good view from the stands. (Of course, this filled me with uncontrollable giggles.) Halfway home I burst with the giggles and told them the whole story.

I will never forget, as long as I live, our little episode with the President.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Always nice to come across data online that backs up history bits I've used in my books!

 ". . .Lafayette’s division played a key role in breaking British defenses in Yorktown, which forced them to surrender on October 19, 1781."

When Washington appeared, with men, materiel, and horses,

He put “The Boy” in charge of nearly one-third of our forces.

Thus on the Yorktown battlefield, our fa-vor-ite marquis

Performed a starring role to win this final vic-to-ry.

                —Liberty-Loving Lafayette © 2020 by Dorothea Jensen