My Writer's Journal

Junior High Fashion

October 21, 2014

My mother really knew how to dress. She wore elegantly tailored suits with hats and gloves and made sure the seams of her stockings were straight, and of course she wore a girdle. Several times a year my parents attended dinner dances, and I loved to watch them get ready for these events, my father in a tuxedo and my mother in a formal gown. My favorite was pale blue lace with an off-the-shoulder neckline. For such special occasions she stuffed "falsies" in her bra.

But my mother's excellent taste did not seem to extend to me. My clothes were ugly. I thought so then, and I think so now. My mother chose my clothes, and I always seemed to end up with something green or yellow and unflattering. Left on my own, I tended to go overboard. My mother had bought me a "Gibson Girl" outfit, a high-waisted velvet skirt and a plaid blouse with puffy sleeves. I decided that a lace handkerchief pinned to the sleeve would be a nice touch. The idea was promptly vetoed. (Okay, she was right about that.)

Here I was, at the start of seventh grade and begging for a brassiere. Mother argued that I had no need for one, but finally she relented and passed on some of her old ones, which I stuffed with hankies. I wore nylon stockings to church; on the Sunday I was confirmed I worried all through the service that my uncomfortable garter belt would fail, and my nylons would wind up puddling around my ankles.

And the hair? My mother had beautiful naturally curly hair, but mine was dead straight. Every night I wound my hair in pincurls held in place with bobby pins or settled for a home permanent. ("Which twin has the Toni?" was a popular ad campaign of that era, showing two girls—one supposedly with natural curls, and her identical sister with a Toni home permanent.)

Then I had a home ec course at school and learned to operate a sewing machine, producing an apron after one semester of stitching and ripping out the stitches. But I was not deterred. I bought myself a Singer with birthday money and set out to sew my own clothes. I don’t even want to think about some of the weird items I made and actually wore--until my mother intervened again.

Fiction for Young Adults

Fiction for Young Adults
Dowdy Peggy White reinvents herself as a glamorous photographer, capturing memorable images during the 1930s Depression and 1940s World War II
Three gutsy girls go looking for adventure in the West in the 1920's
Anastasia and her three sisters are the privileged daughters of the richest man in the world, until their world begins to crumble.
YA Historical Fiction
What's it like to be the daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world? When Helen of Troy elopes with Paris, her daughter, Hermione, stows away on a Greek ship in search of her mother, hoping to bring her home--and perhaps to find a love of her own.
The future queen of England lives a life of privilege, but privilege comes with a steep price of isolation and loneliness--until she meets Albert.
She leaves Scotland as a child, is sent to France to marry the future king, returns to Scotland as a young woman to rule; a wild queen in a wild country.
First published in 1992, my first historical novel, has been reissued with a new cover.
Cleopatra has been chosen to be the next queen of Egypt, but she faces ruthless competition from her sisters. (Watch a video of Carolyn on this page)
The dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last queen of France. Young Royals series
Who would not fall in love with--or at least have a mad crush on--young Will!
Marie van Goethen was a dancer in 19th century Paris and modeled for Degas's famous sculpture.
A fictionalized account of the early life of Charles Darwin, narrated by Charley himself.
Mozart's talented sister, Nannerl, struggles to achieve life she deserves--in music as well as in love.
Contemporary YA
Four characters, four big issues, four compelling stories: BECAUSE OF LISSA; THE PROBLEM WITH SIDNEY; GILLIAN'S CHOICE; THE TWO FACES OF ADAM

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