November 23, 2008



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, got 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 just six years ago, I accidentally began to write a story. I say “accidentally” because I only intended to add to my miniscule 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. That first novel is under contract, by the way. Title? TEXAS BLUE.

Now, I am enjoying the giddy experience of my first release. ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS is a Western Historical, set in the far reaches of the Texas frontier in the Nineteenth Century. Please take a peek at my website- and my publisher- and my post for The Cactus Rose blog . Thank you, Celia Yeary
Paperdoll pictures by: or


Virginia said...

Oh! I had forgotten all about paper dolls. My sister and I spent many hours playing with paper dolls. Can you still get them today? I haven't look but I bet they don't make them anymore.

Bess McBride said...

What a great story, Celia. I loved my paper dolls and still mourn their loss.

And yes, Virginia, you can still get paper dolls today! You would not believe how tempted I am to pick up a set.

Bess McBride

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Celia,
Lovely interview. Loved the section about your dolls. I can remember my sister had a "real" doll each. We didn't even have a dolly's pram for it, but we put them in a shoe box and pulled it along by a piece of string. Interesting how you got into romance writing too.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi Celia! It's fascinating to read about your journey into writing - you're definitely not the only one who didn't 'always write,' but absolutely 'always created.' :) My little sis and I did exactly the same thing with old catalogues. We'd also lie awake at night and make up stories of the 'this is how we'd make the world' variety. I guess if you have the creative gene, it expresses itself in different ways at different times in your life - and you have that gene, my friend!
good luck with all you do. :)

Jane x

Sarita Leone said...

What a great post! I spent hours with my paper dolls, too. What I wouldn't give to have some of them now.


I guess a lot of us began telling stories with those flat, paper pals. :)

Aithne Jarretta said...


Paper dolls carried many an imagination, didn't they? I remember them almost as if it were yesterday when I played with them. Mom always bought mine at the Scotts 5 & 10.

Beautiful post. Thanks for bringing up the memories. ;o)


Celia Yeary said...

Yes, VIRGINIA, there are still paper dolls. Google PAPER DOLLS and you'll get loads of sites. Many are downloadable--if you have something like "Paintbox". You can order them, too. when I researched this, I became completely lost in paper dolls for most of one afternoon!At the bottom of the post is the website where I found "Faye of the Fifties." ~Celia

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hi Celia! How lovely that you have such an active imagination. I played a bit with paper dolls myself, but I only got the Betsy McCall paper doll each month when my Mom finished with her McCalls magazine.

I quite understand how the accidental thing happened with writing. Sometimes we are led in different directions. Sometimes we listen.

I'm glad you did! Best wishes with all your books and all your story ideas.


Celia Yeary said...

BESS--If I had a little granddaughter, I would buy her paper dolls.But my three are all little boys.When my son and DIL got the youngest, I sat in the floor, playing with him, with the other two--then six and five--and I said,"Well, I guess I'll never get to buy Barbie dolls. the oldest--the sensitive one--patted my hand and said, "Grandmother, let's go buy a Barbie and you can give it to my friend Cordelia--she's loves Barbies." Celia

Celia Yeary said...

MARGARET--shoe boes are great toys. Did you know last year in the TOY HALL OF FAME, the "box" was inducted as the toy of the year? This year, guess what it is? The stick. My little grandsons are big stick players. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

JANE-my little sis is only 16 months younger, so we were raised as twins--same everything. We petended to be other people and do thing--I was Deborah and she was Rebecca--we thought those names sounded like rich princesses. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

SARITA--There was nothing better than paper dolls--except we also had toy six-shooters (cap guns) in holsters and played cowboys ouside just as often. See? I've always loved westerns. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

AITHNE--we bought our toys and stuff as Wacker's Five-and-Dime. Loved the store, smells and all--it had some kind of special odor I loved. Probably floor cleaner. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Yeah, Maggie--Betsy McCall. As I said, my little sister is only 16 months younger--this was cause for many-a fight.One Betsy McCall for two girls did not work. We did not share. So, she was mine one month and hers the next. I always felt like somehow she always got the cutest clothes. Celia

ddurance said...

I would love to write. I don't know that it's always been a dream, but I work at a public library, so it was bound to be a desire at least. I don't know that I can get everything organized in order to do it. I have lots of ideas rolling around in my head, but when it comes to actually putting them to paper or creating a story out of them, I just can't seem to focus.


Celia Yeary said...

Deidre: Oh, please! Start writing something! You don't even need to know what you're doing--just open a new document in your files, sit there until something, anything, pops into your head. Then begin. Start with--oh, I don't know,maybe an anecdote. Think of some special memory from childhood--a special doll? Describe her, the clothes she wore, how you felt, etc. Make a little story out of it. From litle acorns grow mighty oaks.The first story I wrote turned into about 200 pages--lots of adventures for my heroine--I had no chapter breaks, poor point of view, and stiff dialogue. But it was a start, and it became addictive. You'll have fun. Keep us posted if you do start. Celia

Mary Ricksen said...

Wow what a blast from the past!
In my mind, way in there, was the memory of these paper dolls.
Almost like the poor girls Barbie, these affordable child occupiers, were a great way to play pretend. I can't imagine any kid today ever being interested in them.
What a great post.
Good luck with the book!