Francesca’s Foundlings Doll Shop


 Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child’s loss of a doll and a king’s loss of a crown are events of the same size.”  ─ Mark Twain

Francesca’s Foundlings, the second book in the Lynton Series, is named for a doll shop bearing the same name. There is both a long and a short answer to the question why I chose this for the background of the story. The long answer is hidden in the character of Franny MacCullough. You will have to read MacCullough’s Women to discover what it is.

The short answer is that the writer (me) has always loved dolls. I had numerous dolls, each with his or her unique name and personality, when I was a little girl. As an adult, I, like Franny, collected dolls and have had the pleasure of visiting several wonderful doll shops like the one that Franny owns in Francesca’s Foundlings.

Here are some of the dolls that you will find in the window of the Franny’s shop in Lynton.

Picture of three dolls

Two from Madame Alexander and one from Suzanne Gibson

  The baby doll in this picture is wearing a christening dress and hat featuring lace that was made by hand by grandmother almost hundred years ago. My mother made this outfit for the doll and gave it to me one Christmas.

Doll in lace dress

This doll is an antique shop find.

Kathy Doll

Madame Alexander's baby doll "Kathy"

This picture is of   “Kathy” a baby doll made by the Alexander Doll Company in the 1950s.  I had a larger version of this doll dressed in pink given to me by Santa for Christmas when I was a little girl.  Unfortunately I no longer have my own doll, but I found this smaller one in a doll shop in Maine. “Kathy” will make a cameo appearance in Francesca’s Foundlings.

Do you have a cherished toy that you have kept from your own childhood?


On Your Mark, Get Set…


 A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?”  ─ Robert Browning

Brid, Franny, and Sofia all believe in the power of changing what doesn’t work. MacCullough’s Women is about the ability that women have always had to adapt to meet the demands of their lives.

This week, the very last of the year, is a favorite of mine because it allows you to set the stage for the year to come. I stopped making resolutions long ago but I am a firm believer in the power of setting goals. I have learned not to make too many. Here are some things that you can do in preparation for the first day of the New Year.

The Magic Hat

Write down your goals on separate slips of paper. Be as specific as possible. Don’t write “I want to lose weight.” Instead, write, “I want to lose 10 pounds.”  Write down as many goals as you want.  Put them in a hat, shake it and pick out four slips of paper. Those will be your goals for 2012. You can decide to pick less if you wish but don’t pick more. If there is one thing you feel you must do, then write it down and don’t put it  in the hat. Instead, make that your first goal. Pick as many as three more from the hat 

The Vision Board

Create a vision that reflects your goals. Take a piece of poster board and cover it with pictures, words, cards, fabric, paint swatches, etc. You can use anything that illustrates your goals. Vision boards are highly personal and very motivating. Once your vision board is complete, place it where you will see it every day.

Make a Plan

Use whatever method works for you: a notebook, your IPad, an Excel spreadsheet, a calendar. You need some way to document what  to do in order to achieve a specific goal.

Gather Your Tools

This is the week to buy your sneakers, bathing suit, pedometer, or Rosetta Stone, find a piano teacher or a walking buddy, or open a saving account labeled “Trip to Paris”.  You get the idea.

2012 is going to be a great year. I can feel it.  Have you thought about your goals?

Hat with goals for the New Year

My goals for 2012


Quotes from MacCullough’s Women

 I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”  ─ Maya Angelou

“Franny’s main concern tonight seemed to be the Christmas tree lights.” Neil answered. “I suppose she’s in shock. “She kept saying who’ll put the lights on the Christmas tree now?”

 Snow Scene

Decorating the Christmas tree is one of winter’s hallowed traditions and for so many of us is the storehouse for some of our most cherished memories. As the years pass and our lives change, when we place our treasured ornaments  on the tree, we often find ourselves surrounded by loved ones who are long gone.

Plastic Santa

Santa given to me when I was very small.


I am hoping this holiday season finds you celebrating with the people you love and good book to read in front of fire.


Making Christmas Memorable


If you are not discouraged by your writing on a regular basis, you might not be trying hard enough.”  ─ Maxwell Perkins

I certainly have been discouraged by my attempts at blogging! What I have learned since I began last summer is:

  • A lot of people blog, some more successfully than others.
  • Blogging is NOT the same as talking.
  • It’s really hard!


Last week I consulted with blogging expert and teacher, Wendy Thomas. She gave me some wonderful ideas that I will be trying out  in my blog over the next few months. I hope you enjoy them.

The week before Christmas can be full of magic if we allow ourselves to relax enough to see it.  

 Enjoy the anticipation of what lies ahead. Sometimes that alone can be enough to make the holidays special.

Box of gifts

I wonder what's in Santa's box?


Look for joy in unexpected places.  This week you can find it where you least expect it.

Bird with ribbons

Patience, the heron who landed in our garden, dressed up for Christmas.


One of my most cherished Christmas memories was creeping into the hospital shortly after dawn on Christmas morning with my sister and our families to surprise my mother who had fallen and broken her hip two days before. The laughter coming from her room brought an audience of doctors and nurses on the early morning shift peeking in the door see where all the fun was.

 We are surrounded by the artificial and the forced. Give yourself  a break from the mall and take a walk. Soak in nature’s way of celebrating.


The colors of Christmas from God's own brush.

 What is your own most cherished Christmas memory? Maybe this is the year to make one…


Five Words That Tell You Who I Am

 Honour the miraculousness of the ordinary.”  ─ Andrew Motion

People, real or fictitious, are seldom simple. All characters a writer creates are composed of layers. It is the task of the writer to flesh out these layers with details that are almost always composed of ordinary things such as Sherlock Holmes pipe or deerstalker hat.  When I begin to shape a character the first thing I do is select five words that help to show my readers who that character is. Here are the five items that I would chose to define me:

  1.  Red Shoes
Four pairs of red shoes

Red shoes you will find in my closet today


Red shoes make me happy. I usually have at least one pair in my closet. Currently, I own three pairs. The small pair of red double buckle sandals were my daughter’s. I keep them on my desk to remind me of how precious she will always be to me.


2.      Books 

Plain and simple: I love books and everything about them – the words, the covers, and the illustrations. Like many of you, I reluctantly joined the world of e-books three years ago. While I have come to appreciate the conveniences that e-books provide including buying them while sitting in bed and being able to easily carry a stack of stories on a trip, I confess I still love to hold a book in my hand. As a child, I would ask for a book rather than a toy. A short list of some of my favorites include: Gone with the Wind, The Wilder Sisters, All the Harry Potters, A Piece of Heaven and The Shell Seekers. It is no surprise that with the exception of Harry, these books all are about women who have stayed with me since I met them in the pages of these books. Scarlett, Rose, Luna, Lily, and Penelope have all become old friends who I revisit whenever I need a lift.

3.      Hats

Picture of two hats

My two newest hats. The tweed cap came from Kevin & Howlin on Nassau Street in Dublin.

I have always had hats, some decorated with feathers or fur, pilfered from my godmother’s attic and some purchased on a whim. As a teenager, I wore hats when nobody else did. Long before the expression “Signature Style” was in vogue, I was known for my hats. Like  my red shoes, hats make me happy and when I wear one, it is a sign that all is right in my world.  

 4.      Animals

I have shared a home with an animal (or animals) all my life. Dogs, cats, birds, turtles in college, and a lop-eared rabbit named Cornelius McSweeney. I loved them all. Unlike humans they offer unconditional love, never make you feel that you have screwed up and listen without interrupting. I can’t imagine my life without them.

 Dog and Cat

5.  Dolls  

Two Dolls

Two you might find in the window of Francesca's Foundlings

Francesca’s Foundlings, the doll shop in Lynton, comes from a dream that I once had of opening just such a store. Every year at Christmas, when I was a little girl, my clever mother would buy my sister and me a doll and make a trunk of beautiful doll clothes for the dolls to wear. One of those dolls, “Kathy” sold by Madame Alexander in the 1950’s plays a cameo role in Francesca’s Foundlings.

What five words would you use to describe yourself?


Some of my favorites