Author Archives: Jillian

About Jillian

Jillian Fisher is the creator and author of The Valdez Quintuplets.

It Started As A School Project

The School Project That Took Over The World

Well, maybe not quite the whole world. But it is definitely consuming our world. I mean, my and my sisters' world.

Hey-a there, peeps, it's me - Lorikeet! Maybe I should have said that before, but there it is now. For whatever it's worth.

Anyway. School project. That ate the world. Right. I've found my train of thought again! Choo-choo!

We are learning about business tactics, er, skills (really tactics, because it requires cunning tactics to conquer one's enemy and take on the world, not skills. Well, maybe a bit of skill... But not book learning stuff, surely. A world so boring that it can be taken over by reading is just pathetic and not worth bothering about.) and my favorite way to learn is, of course, hands-on. Knowing that, Mama tries to give us active stuff along with the boring bookish stuff. I like to think it's especially for me, but it really is probably even more for Sora and Zipporah. They're the bookish people I was warning you about, though Zippy isn't so bad, really. Sora, though. EEK! I'm not sure what is scarier - her mind or her bony index finger, which she is always jabbing me with if I don't seem to be paying attention or if I make a mistake she feels is beneath me. Or when she's reading over my shoulder as I'm typing the blog post I didn't actually want to write but somehow got roped into doing. See? If bookish people spend too much time studying and not a fair amount of time living (or doing nothing, as Christopher Robin and Pooh put it) - they tend to become wild beasts with appalling social skills, particularly when it comes to their sisters. (Ah, the scariest aspect of Sora? it's definitely that look she just gave me!)

Project. Yes. I'm getting to it, Sora.

Our mission, which we had no choice but to accept (ha! used the correct form there - thwarting any jabs or looks), was to create a business of our own. It was going to be just on paper. We'd work together (which I suspect is a sneaky way of attempting to get us all to learn to get along better) on deciding what the business would be about, and who would do what and the costs and stuff like that. Then we had to write a business plan. A real, authentic, genuine, take-it-to-the-Sharks business plan. That is a lot of work, and I may have accidentally complained a little about doing all that real work for a fake business. Never complain to Mama. Never. Ever. Ever! She just comes up with more work.

Oh, your (ouch!) you're bored? Great! There's a ton of laundry to do here, with your name on it!

Nobody willing to play? I know just the thing. Come help me in the kitchen! I'm canning tomatoes and sure could use an extra pair of hands.

(Why is canning invariably done on the hottest days of the year, when the last thing in the world I want to do is hang around a kitchen overheated with vats of boiling water, five pairs of "extra hands" for Mama, and no air conditioning?)

Alright - Sora! I'm getting back to it. Sheesh, why didn't you save us both the trouble and just write this thing yourself, if you don't like my way of doing it? "You need the practice" - my foot.

So we were then challenged to try the business for real. And that, my friends, is why I am writing you today.

SAVE ME!

Er, I mean. Let me tell you about an exciting busineess (ow!) business coming soon to a screen near you!

We are going into the doll clothes business! Remember our post about things we wish AG had? Well, we were all very excited about our ideas there and thought trying to make them a reality would be a fun challenge and great adventure. And hopefully others will like it too, and buy our creations! Then we can be rich! (ow! now what-? Oh, fine. Disclaimer: becoming rich is not the goal of all the involved parties (wait, what parties are involved? I don't remember anyone saying anything about partying! That would make it all loads better!) and we would not wish to imply that we cared only for mere moolah.)

Right now, we are still in the planning stages. We have made a few reservations of names we are considering, and are well into the writing of our business plan. We are scouting sources for materials, and last night bought two useful books (to go with the mountain of business books we borrowed from the library). One is about creating your own sewing patterns, which is something that really excites Chickadee and Violet. They love fashion and sewing. And even Sora is interested, as it involves math and garphing paper. I mean, graphing paper. (Although, I think garphing is a neat mistake. I should make that into a real word.)

I am most excited about the other book, which is all about fabric designing. Hands-on techniques, not computer drawn, digital printed stuff (although I am interested in that, too!). See, part of our, uh, vision thingy is that we want each piece to be not only something for dolls to wear, but that is also a work of art. Something to collect and enjoy displaying, as well as for the practical aspects of clothing. I'm assured there are practical aspects, which is why everyone should wear clothes at almost all times. (Even if it is sometimes a lot of bother.) (Also, Sora wants me to point out that our Company Vision is much more professionally stated in our Business Plan than what I have typed here.)

Zipporah really wants to make miniature books (she would) for our business, though, and was most upset when the votes about which books to buy came out - 4 votes for fabric designing and only 1 for book making. The pattern creating was unanimously approved. It looks way complicated to me, but I do think it will be cool to have that ability for our business. And I am rather fond of graphing paper, myself.

We are very excited to move forward with our business, but would greatly appreciate some input from you guys! Please comment down below any name ideas - our top two ideas, so far, are Little Miss Doll and Quintessential Couture - and what you would like to see in doll clothing (styles, design elements, colors, etc.).

Until next time,

Lorikeet

 

Sora and Zipporah's Most Recent Library Haul

I managed to find something of interest.

Published: September 17, 2018 | Comments: 0

Zippy’s Writing Prompt Round-up!

National Novel Writing Month is coming! Will YOU be ready?

Hey everyone, it's me - Zippy!

 

I love, Love, LOVE this time of year! All my favorite things seem to happen in the span of three months - Back to School*, Caramel Apples, peacoat-appropriate weather, Hot Cider, leaves dancing mid-air, Pumpkin Pie Doughnut Muffins, and, of course, National Novel Writing Month. (Oh, yeah, and Thanksgiving and Halloween are in there, too!).

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, pronounced "Naa no WRY moe") is my absolute favorite event of the year. Well, okay, maybe second. I do love my birthday... Anyway, it starts November 1st, every year, and the challenge is to write 50,000 words by the end of the month. That's 1,667 words each and every day, my friends. In one and only one story - although plenty of people do make their own goals and rule alterations, but those don't qualify for the official contest. They are welcomed to join the community for fun and games and writerly support, though, which is actually the best part of the whole crazy thing. And I'm not joking about the fun and games. Really and truly - I have a blast just lurking some years, reading about what others are writing or browsing their ideas for creative plot twists and unusual character quirks, and the ever necessary - "Help! I don't know what to write next and still have 1,000 words to write today!" desperation plot re-starters (where you toss in a live grenade (of sorts) into your story and see what happens.

So, that brings me to my main reason for posting today - Writing Prompts! I've been hopping around the internet with my pet plot bunnies, and found so many exciting ideas that I thought I'd share a bunch here. Feel free to use any or all of them, that's what they are for! And even if you don't intend to do NaNoWriMo, don't think you can't write something just for fun, even if you only want to keep it to yourself. Writers come in many forms, some just to entertain or challenge themselves and others want to amuse the whole world. It's up to you! Have fun!

Love,
Zipporah

 

*Yes, I do actually like school. But more importantly - I love new school supplies! Pencils, pens, notebooks, pencil cases, lunch boxes, staplers, dictionaries, hole punches, paper clips, etc. Little Known Fact: The worst thing about home-school, I've discovered, is that it smells like home. School buildings have an enchantingly invigorating aroma of crayon-y creativity and freshly sharpened wood pencils for writing and new sneakers. Or at least it has the times I've visited a school.

Story Ideas Collected from Around the Net (with some edits/ alterations by me!)

  • An historical character who travels to the present day and causes chaos when they steal back something that originally belonged to them.
  • A struggling musician who’s trying to resurrect a dead musician so they can collaborate on a new masterpiece.
  • A florist who sends flowers to a wrong address and initiates a chain of events that leads to two people meeting and falling in love. Or maybe leads to an old grudge being healed, instead. Or maybe it leads to disaster instead? Or a disaster that ends up being a miracle?
  • A knitter who unravels a ball of yarn only to find it stained with blood, and helps the police investigate a possible murder.
  • A time-travelling antique dealer who steals from the past to profit in the future..

-From: https://www.eadeverell.com/100-story-ideas/

  • Write a story where this quote *literally* happens: “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader- not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” -E. L. Doctorow
  • Or this one: “The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night.” – Isabel Allende
  • This one could be paired with the first quote, for double inspiration. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Can you imagine a world where one person was affected by stories so much that they actually did a sort of Jekyll & Hyde, and unknowingly turned into one of the characters in whatever they were reading? If they were an eclectic and voracious reader, just think of the potential for conflicts and chaos! Hmm, I think I may have found my NaNoWriMo idea. How about you? Don't worry if it's similar to mine. Ideas may start alike but they rarely ever end up the same once they've been fed and nurtured and allowed to grow. 🙂 Much like identical quints, come to think of it...

Published: September 9, 2018 | Comments: 0

5 Things We Wish American Girl Would Do

     We have been devoted and enthusiastic fans of American Girl forever, pretty much. Our older sisters were into them before we can even remember, and naturally our historian parents endorsed the original concept of teaching history (and life lessons) through literature, dolls and authentic replicas of antique items. They’d discovered the books first, through a Christian bookseller and later used the Teacher Guides for part of all of our second-grade(ish) Language Arts study. Our home-school room is still decorated with several of the map posters that accompanied the guides, as well as our own attempt at creating a similar map of our own hometown. That project was rather a nightmare, as you can probably imagine the difficulty of cartography when an academic perfectionist, an artistic genius and an idealistic dreamer are adamant about their own ideas being best. Many wars are fought on the streets, and over boundary lines. We (and by we, we really mean those three) nearly came to blows over the streets themselves, and just how straight a line should be.

Actually, though, that isn’t unusual for those three. But we’re getting away from the point.

Lately, we have been underwhelmed with American Girl. Maybe because we know so much of what came before, we know how much has changed – and contrary to popular belief, change is not always good. Change does not always equal progress or improvement. Sometimes change = Just. Plain. Stinks.

Now, we don’t wish to get into debating the merits of an historical line, or a modern line or a Girl of the Year line, etc. We aren’t in the mood to analyze business tactics, either. We simply feel like talking about some things we would love to see from American Girl. (If you’re guessing today’s topic is brought to you by the Idealistic Dreamer mentioned above, you’d be half correct! ;))

The Top 5 Things We’d Love To See From American Girl:

 

5. Miniature Books

Yes, they already have made some miniature books. But we want more. And we’d like them available individually, or at least as a book set. But our ultimate wish for mini books are leather-bound hardback editions of classics, with gilded edges, gorgeous illustrations and teeny ribbon bookmarks. Even better – a way of creating our own story and illustrations and having it miniaturized into such a miniature masterpiece! Just think how thrilling it’d be to see yourself on your very own “About The Author” page in your very own book, that is exquisitely bound just for your favorite eighteen-inch companion.

We recently came across two tiny books like those we dream of, that were replicas of actual miniature books created for a royal dollhouse. The books are exactly like the hardbacks of the time, but only about two inches or so. The first we saw was a fairytale or similar story, and though tempted, we didn’t buy it. The next, though, we found a few weeks later and just had to have- it’s a miniature Sherlock Holmes story! Not only that, it was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle just for the Royal Dollhouse’s miniature library. Apparently many popular authors of the time contributed personally to the library by either providing one of their stories or writing something new. Don’t you wish, as we do, that such a fun endeavor would be considered worthwhile amongst adults today? The dollhouse was for an adult, too, by the way. And sounds divine! It is quite possibly the number one thing we’d love to see someday. It was made as exact a replica of a real house as possible for the time, and many companies made teeny tiny versions of their wares or goods for the household.

4. Mermaid Sequins

The sequins that can be flattened one way to show one color or pattern, and flattened the opposite direction to reveal a different color or pattern are so fun. We have seen them everywhere from school supplies to pillows to clothing. But so far, we haven’t seen anything with them for our dolls. Does anyone even make sequins that small? We don’t know if it’s even feasible, but we sure hope so!

3. Blind Bags/ Surprise Inside Packages

We were at Target recently, and noticed that these have become a major category in the Toys section. And for good reason, who doesn’t love suspense and surprise of a mystery gift? Even Sora has been known to risk a few dollars on a mystery Spirit mini horse collectible. And we all know how tight-fisted careful a steward she is with her allowance. (Her allowance isn’t allowed out much.)

We don’t know why American Girl hasn’t entered this space yet. It seems like a perfect opportunity for Wellie Wisher fans, to us, since the ages and sizes align so well with the popular mystery toy lines. But we’d also love to see stuff for the 18 inchers, too. Maybe a surprise outfit (tee and shorts or leggings; basic styles but fun and creative designs) could be the grand prize, led to by a series of littler surprises (such as jewelry, stickers, mini magazine or book, hair accessory, etc.). Or what about just blind bags of mini trinkets/ collectibles for doll rooms, in themes inspired by the BeForever and Girl of the Year lines but intended for the Truly Me/ Create Your Own dolls?

2. Subscription Boxes!

This idea is so exciting, it deserves an exclamation point. 🙂 These are kind of like the blind bag idea above, but on a larger scale. Though possibly less fun to unpack… Still, imagine coming home from a long, dreary, tedious, bum-numbing day at school (or library study session or fruitless spy mission in the frigid rain) to discover you have mail. Real mail. An actual package, addressed to you! Full of new and exciting things for you to bestow upon your trusty sidekick and ever faithful companion, who may be only eighteen inches tall but has never once let you down or failed to cheer you up. Doesn’t she, or he, deserve a treat? Maybe a little pampering? And how about the box including a fun project, in addition to ready-to-enjoy goodies? A kit for making Kit’s Scooter, perhaps, but not necessarily for Kit? Or a pair of recipe cards – one for you to make using real ingredients (not included) and one for making a doll version using polymer clay and other artist materials (which would be included)? The potential here is invigorating – historical themes, STEAM themes, simpler things like a doll’s t-shirt of the month club, etc.

1. Brand Partnerships!!

Okay, we didn’t quite know what to call this idea. It began forming when we were browsing the Back To School lines of our two favorite clothing companies, Mini Boden and Janie & Jack. We love Mini Boden’s whimsical designs (they use mermaid sequins!) and range of color options or pattern options. Janie & Jack always have the most darling outfits, and each collection is not only stylish but offers enough variety that we can each find something we love without always wearing the same things. We love having the ability to dress differently, but still look like a team. Because that is exactly who we are – not entirely individual but not joined at the hip, either. We don’t mind dressing alike, but it is nice not *having* to dress alike just because there aren’t other options (and for us, dressing without some thought to what our sisters are wearing just isn’t an option. We’ve tried it, and just don’t like it.).

* * * * *

So, we would love for our dolls to be able to wear the same styles, and to enjoy the same degree of variety and choices. Really, if someone could just invent a device that would, say, scan something and then groan and wheeze and sputter and shake until eventually coughing out (in a cloud of steam) an exact miniature replica that perfectly fit the intended doll (or other recipient) – life would be perfect.  But, until that happens, we think some sort of partnership between AG and our favorite brands might be a good substitute. Again, this might not be at all feasible, but that’s okay. We’re just daydreaming here, after all. 🙂

In addition to the clothing companies we mentioned, our third preferred brand to doll-size a significant portion of their merchandise would be Disney. They have so much fun stuff, but sometimes we would actually rather have it for our dolls than for ourselves. We don’t wear character graphics much, for some reason, but are often admiring the clothing options available through Disney Store. If they came in doll-size, we’d be able to collect them and enjoy them more. And we have it on good authority that dolls love cuddly plushies just as much as anyone, so why not make more just for them?

     And that concludes our wish list – thanks for reading all the way through!

What would be on your list?

Love,

Zipporah and Chickadee

Published: August 29, 2018 | Comments: 0

The Start of Something Big

Hey everyone!

We are so excited to finally be posting a new blog post on our redesigned website! Obviously, the site is still in progress. It isn’t easy thinking up what to have and what to say! And then figuring out how to get it from visions in our heads or sketches/ lists on paper to an actual website page/ blog post is almost like learning a foreign language. Sometimes we get discouraged, or overwhelmed, and things take even longer.

But, here we are! Hi!!!!! 🙂 (Oh, I guess you can’t tell that four of us are waving at you right now. Can you guess which is not?)

Let’s see, what to say now…?

We thought we’d go ahead and jump on in with our blogging, even though our website is not really ready for visitors. And I guess a good first thing to do, would be to talk about what we plan to blog about. As Lorikeet keeps pointing out, we’ll be talking about ourselves. That is what people do on blogs, isn’t it? Except business blogs, perhaps, but then again the business blog just talks about the business of the business… which is like a person talking about their personal business, right? Lorikeet rests her case.

We love to talk about mysteries, and books, and history. And each other, in secret (hehehe). So expect that stuff to be posted about a lot. We’ll post together, like we are right now, but sometimes we’ll post individually. Chickadee likes to talk about fashion, for example, and that tends to put others of us to sleep, or in a daze. So most likely she’ll go solo here whenever she feels like discussing the whyables of wearables. (That’s Zipporah’s attempt at a pun.) Likewise, whenever one of us has something we’d like to talk about, we might pop on here without bothering to round up the others. (And now we all have Mister Rodgers’ closing song going through our heads. “We’ll meet again, when the day is through; and you’ll have things you’ll want to talk about…”)

At the moment we don’t have a set schedule for posts, but expect at least a weekly post.

Thanks again for visiting, and we’ll talk again soon!

Sora, Violet, Lorikeet, Chickadee and Zipporah

Published: August 19, 2018 | Comments: 0