Books · Craft · Excerpt · Scrapbooking · West Virginia

Crafting Moment from Designed to Death

With March being National Craft Month, I’m featuring some crafting…and love of handmade item…moments from my novels. In this scene, Faith inadvertently asks Darlene to help her make class samples.

DESIGNED TO DEATH front under 2mbExcerpt: Darlene plopped herself down in the chair and pulled a blank card from the stack in front of me. “I’ll just use your black ink pad rather than getting another. No sense in wasting money.”

Of course not.

Darlene placed the stamp image onto an acrylic block then pressed the stamp image carefully into the ink. With care, she lined up the stamp and pushed down. Slowly, she lifted the stamp and revealed a clean, precise image on her first attempt.

I was impressed, not sarcastically either. Though, she should’ve bought the stamp first. Fortunately from her broad smile, I could tell she liked the image and the way she twisted and turned the card let me know it got her creative juices going.

She uncapped a navy blue marker.

“For an unofficial cropping, stamping session, you need to purchase the products first.”

Darlene frowned. “These are samples for the store which you requested. Teachers don’t pay for their supplies…”

“Depending on the class, teachers either get a discount or the product for free.” The free products were given when a company sent us free items to use to get an interest in their line. We didn’t allow teachers free reign over items in the store, especially a stamp that retailed at a little over ten dollars.

“Well then I should get the teacher discount. You did ask me to create a card.”

I did tell her to make her own, but it wasn’t because I wanted another sample. I wanted her to leave me alone. Instead of getting my wish, I had her help which might cost me a favor unless I gave her the stamp. Since I got personal items at cost, it would be cheaper for me to pay for the stamp and gift it to Darlene.

Though the thought of giving Darlene a gift made me want to shudder. She was the type of woman who made a worse friend than she did an enemy. I sighed dramatically so she’d get that I was annoyed. “Since this misunderstanding is my fault…”

Darlene made a noise of agreement.

“I’ll let you have the stamp…”

“And the markers.”

I frowned. These were the Copic markers. Expensive. “Don’t you have the full set?”

“But these would be for teaching only, not personal use.”

I tallied up the amount in my head. Still less expensive than owing Darlene a favor, and I had her occupied with something else than me helping her solve a crime. “And those three markers.”

“Good. While we’re working, I can tell you my plan on getting some evidence from Belinda’s house.”

I shook my head. “Don’t tell me. I’m not good at keeping secrets.”

Darlene rolled her eyes. “Of course you are. No one knows anything about your time out of Eden. Not one teeny, tiny hint of the scandal that forced you back home.”

“What makes you think I have a scandal?” I dropped the blue marker then wiped my hands on my jeans, hoping Darlene didn’t see the nervous gesture.

“You’re a woman. You don’t like to talk about yourself.” Darlene capped the marker and placed it on the table.

I appreciated the care Darlene treated the supplies with. Some croppers didn’t treat the store’s shared supplies as well as their own, or maybe it was the way they treated the stuff they owned and why they decided not to buy the more expensive brands or items and just used ours.

“Regardless of how much you admire my ability to keep quiet,” I said. “I’d rather not know your plans.”

Ted had a way of sneaking up on me and figuring out when I got the urge to investigate. I didn’t want to tell him what Darlene planned. While I wasn’t fond of the woman, tattling on her didn’t seem right. If she wanted to clear her name, which I couldn’t blame her for trying, who was I to stop her.

Blurb: Faith Hunter planned the perfect event at her grandmother’s shop, Scrap This, featuring local scrapbooker and Life Artist Diva, Belinda Watson. But the extravaganza goes up in a cloud of glitter when Belinda and her cousin, Darlene, brawl over scraplifted designs. Faith attempts to break it up, but only makes things worse. Then when Belinda turns up dead behind the Scrap This store, Faith’s involvement goes viral.

As accusations against her turn vicious, Faith sets out to prove her nemesis, Darlene, committed the crime, only to realize they are both innocent. Now they must team up or the murderer’s plan will come together seamlessly with the frenemies sharing a jail cell–or worse, a funeral.

Designed to Death is available in print, ebook, and audio. The book can be purchased at:

Mystery Loves Company (print)


Barnes and Noble



Craft · How To · Scrapbooking

Photo Cropping Tips

Since March is National Craft Month, Faith Hunter from the Scrap This Mystery Series is stopping by to give some scrapbooking tips on cropping photo that will show them off to their best advantage.

Faith’s Scrapbooking Tips

Cropping a Photo to Enhance a Page

CROPPED photo onlyWhen cropping photos, remember the purpose is to enhance the page you are working on. It’s easy to let current feelings about those in the picture to overrule design principles, but you might come to regret a hasty choice. Here are some tips to help you create the layout best suited for the story you’d like to document.

1. Focus on the story. When deciding how to crop a photo, either on the computer before printing or after printing with a paper trimmer, keep in mind what the layout is about. Make sure the image complements the story and none of the key points are accidentally trimmed out.

Keeping the background shows "bedrooms" in the cabin. The ladder is for the drop down bunk and the curtain separates to the two "sleeping" quarters.
Keeping the background shows “bedrooms” in the cabin. The ladder is for the drop down bunk and the curtain separates to the two “sleeping” quarters.

2. Keep details to show time and place. Sometimes we view all background objects as distractions instead of a piece of history. Make sure some of the photos in your books show houses, cars, landscaping, and other items that represent the time the photo was taken. What looks like background clutter today could one day bring back fond memories and conversation of “remember when cell phone looked like bricks” and “so that’s what a Hummer looked like.”

3. Trim the excess a smidge at a time. If you’re not sure how much “white space” you want around the focal point of your picture, use your trimmer to cut off small strips. You always have the option of cutting off a little more, but not in adding parts of the photos back on. Unless of course you have a printer for photos at home or with you at the crop then experiment with your cropping because you can always print out another picture.

4. Mask photos to give them shape. Sometimes, we’d like to have photos in shapes other than a square or rectangle. Instead of cropping your photos into shapes, make a mask using a template or cutting an image using a die cutting machine (Cricut, Silhouette, etc). Place the mask over your photo to give it the desired shape. This way, the original photo is intact in case you decide later that photos cut into the shape of dinosaurs or favorite cartoon characters aren’t appealing any longer.

Megan and snow 1Megan and Snow 2








5. Work from a larger image. There’s no rule that you have to use the focal point of the photo on your page. Don’t be afraid to enlarge a picture to 5×7 or 8×10 in order to crop out the section of the photo you’d like to use. Sometimes the main focus of the photograph isn’t the part of the image that speaks to us but is too small to use the traditional 4×6 size. If the story is best told or enhanced by using the silly face your child or significant other is making over the subject’s shoulder, use that part of the picture.