Posted in Books, Craft, Excerpt, Scrapbooking

A Scrapping Moment from Masked to Death

masked-to-death-cover-frontSince May is National Scrapbooking Month, I’m sharing a small scrapbooking moment from Masked to Death.

Excerpt:

Ronnie’s confession shook me. I felt off-kilter. A scrapbooking class was being held on deck six, so I headed there, needing to clear my mind while I figured out what to do. Scrapbooking calmed me and centered my spirit. I knew this trip would rev up some anxiety, so I bought a travel planner. It was more portable than a scrapbook, yet the same techniques were used for decorating it. Instead of pictures, words were the main focal point. I had brought colored pencils and an array of travel stickers for decorating the pages.

I spotted a crew member pushing a cart loaded down with cruise-themed scrapbooking supplies and followed. Other women and a few men joined our parade to the lounge area in the back of the ship.

“Find a spot while I set up.” The young woman began sorting through the packages of products and stacking them by theme onto a table.

I spotted Garrison sitting at a table in the back, flipping through a book. When I sat down, he closed the leather book about the size of an 8×8 album. The cover was embossed. I tried reading the script font, but he covered the writing with his forearm.

“Here to scrapbook or just looking for some peace and quiet to read?” I asked.

“I’ve wanted to learn some new techniques and now was the perfect time.”

“You and Bob didn’t have anything special planned for this morning?”

“Odessa stopped by this morning to tell Bob the captain wanted to meet with him.”

“About what?”

“I’d rather not know, so I kissed Bob goodbye and told him I’d be here. I’m sure it has something to do with John. I wonder where Ronnie is. She had said she’d meet me here.”

“When did you talk to her?” I doodled in my travel journal.

“At breakfast. Why?”

“Curious,” I said. “No other reason. She might have lost track of time or something unexpected came up.” The captain had issued a gag order. Ronnie said to stay quiet. And here I was blabbing—or almost blabbing, which was just as bad. “This probably isn’t the wedding you dreamed of.”

“The event meant more to Odessa than us, so we caved on pretty much everything. Our only sticking point was no alcohol at the event out of respect and love for Ted, and yet she had the champagne flowing freely, and now we also have John Roget to contend with. I’m not looking forward to him and Odessa coming face to face.”

“He’s stayed away so far.”

“That’s true. Maybe he only came to spend time with Claire and not to stop the wedding. John is a hard one to figure out.”

“He isn’t the only one.”

Garrison’s eyebrows rose. “Do tell.”

masked ad

Posted in Craft, Disney Layouts, Scrapbooking

Preparing for a Crop: Page Kits

May is National Scrapbooking Month, so I thought I’d share my process of putting together page kits before a crop retreat. Usually, I’d just pick a project to work on and pack up all pictures, embellishments, and paper that would work for it. I also bring a nice selection of colored cardstock, and a huge amount of white and black as those are my go to colors for matting or the base of a layout.

In April, I attended a crop where we had a limited amount of space for supplies so I decided to put together page kits. I completed so many pages that it will now be my go-to method for cropping away from home. I also liked the fact it cut back on the trips I had to make to and from the car, and setting up, as I brought fewer items.

I placed all of  my Disney paper and embellishments, any scrapbooking bling that would work for the album onto my cropping table and started matching them to my pictures. I wanted to make a second page for a previous layout, so I took out that layout to make sure the papers I chose complemented it. Since there were more pictures than space on the 12×12 pattern paper, I used a Flip Flap to gain extra picture space.

 

I placed all my Disney paper and embellishments onto my scrapbooking table Next, I pulled out different types of embellishments and scraps of pattern and laid them on the page until I found a combination I liked.

If I really liked the structure of a page, I snapped a photo on my cell before I packaged it up in a 2 gallon Ziplock bag. Since I didn’t want to interrupt my kit making, I wrote down any titles or embellishments I wanted to make on a sticky note and put it on the kit. Completed packet

 

Posted in Books, Craft, mystery, Scrapbooking, Vacations, Writing

Masked to Death has left port

masked-to-death-cover-frontMasked to Death, the fifth book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series, is now out. I went on my first cruise at the end of 2010 and feel in love with this type of vacation. When part of the plot came to me, I started thinking about where to set the book and recalled that in book one, Cropped to Death, Ted mentioned that his mom worked on a cruise ship. My muse said, “Perfect.”, and the story developed from there.

Here’s a short description about Masked to Death:

A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted’s family. She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn’t take long for that dream to capsize. Ted’s daughter hates her. The ex-wife is adored. Odessa Roget is surly. And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith’s assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife.

Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won’t let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help. Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals—which might be a groom’s best friend. The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted’s daughter schemes to reunite her parents. Instead of diamonds being a girl’s best friend, Faith finds they’re cruising her toward Davy Jones’ Locker.

Over the next few weeks, you can find me (or Masked) visiting a few places in cyber world where I’ll be answering some questions, talking about creating a travel journal and a fictional cruise, and where some readers will let you  know a little bit more about Masked to Death. I hope you can stop by.

January 25 – Dru’s Book Musings – Guest Post, Vacation Time With Faith Hunter

January 27 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, INTERVIEW

January 28 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST, Creating a Cruise 

January 29 – Brooke Blogs – INTERVIEW

January 30 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

January 31 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

February 1 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

February 2 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW, GUEST POST, Travel Journal

February 3 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

February 4 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST, Scrapbooking and Murder

February 5 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy Too! – Excerpt (shopping on a cruise) from Masked to Death

February 6 – Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

February 7 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

Posted in Books, Craft, Excerpt, mystery, Scrapbooking, Uncategorized, West Virginia

National Craft Month: Cropped to Death Excerpt

I had hoped to have a crafting blog post ready for today but it’s been hectic at the office this week and my hours work hours needing shifting around, so I didn’t have time to finish making my project. This month, I’ve celebrating National Craft Month by alternating between different hobbies: scrapbooking, crocheting, and coloring. I had thought about chatting about my experience with making a photo book through Shutterfly, but as we don’t have the book yet (and I did a scrapbooking post last week) I thought it better to wait.

CROPPED front smSince Cropped to Death is currently on sale for 99 cents for the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks, I thought I’d share an excerpt of Faith preparing for a beginning scrapbooking class–and she gets interrupted.

Excerpt: 

I headed into the paper racks, weaving through the reds and yellows to reach the browns. The hues ranged from sand to a brown so dark it could pass for black. What shade and texture should I use tonight?

A smoother paper worked better for beginners, as it was easier for tearing and for making other embellishments, but I had no idea the skill level of the women signed up for the contest class and mini crop. A texture cardstock added an extra dimension to the work and gave the beginning layout a little edge. If using it for a border, tearing the texture paper added a nice jagged effect with feathering detail.

Maybe a sheet of both styles using a monochromatic scheme. That worked. A deeper beige mixed with a sand almost white shade. Neutrals worked well with any photos. I’d take a look at the students’ pictures when they arrived and pull complementary colors showcased in the photos.

Time to pick embellishments. I gathered up sheets of letter stickers in a variety of fonts and colors for the layout titles. I stopped in front of the clear stamps and picked out an alphabet set. I’d buy the stamps and share them tonight with the class. Hopefully, they’d love them so much, the two attendees would want a set for themselves. To save some money, I’d go with standard neutral paint colors. If the croppers wanted a hue with a little more pop, they could purchase it.

The bell above the door jangled. I took the items out of the basket and arranged them in piles on the tables. Before the crop started, I wanted to check on the amount of choices offered for the class participants. I snapped my fingers. Items for the prize basket.

A shadow fell over me. I jerked upright, and the wind whooshed in my ears even though I was inside. This fear issue was getting annoying. I hated feeling vulnerable. Taking in a deep breath, my heart rate slowed to normal as I realized a new customer, not a stalker, entered into the store.

A dark-haired woman in her late teens hovered behind me. Two splotches of red bloomed on her cheeks and she stammered. “I was wondering if. Well, if you could…would you mind…”

I smiled and waved my hand over the products on the table. “It’s not too late to sign up for the crop tonight.”

She pushed a piece of paper toward me. “I was wondering if…”

I held my pleasant smile and waited.

“If I could… like… get…”

The smile strained my cheeks.

“Your autograph.”

“My what?” I kept my reaction in check, uncertain if amusement or anger was more appropriate.

“Aren’t you the owners’ granddaughter? The one mentioned in the paper?”

I went with anger. Before the scolding exploded from my mouth, the young woman turned and fled out the door. Why couldn’t the store reach celebrity status because of our awesome customer service rather than because of murder?

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, and is able to enjoy their families and their hobbies.

 

Posted in Craft, Everyday Life, Quilting, Scrapbooking, Uncategorized

Celebrating National Craft Month

creativity takes courageDuring March, we’re celebrating National Craft Month on the Self-Rescue Princess (along with doing an interview or two). There will be posts from authors about their crafting projects, excerpts from novels featuring crafting moments, and reviews of crafting books.

I love crafting. When I was a little girl, I sewed Barbie clothes by hand and spent hours coloring, imaging I was actually painting a masterpiece. The first baby quilt I ever made was also handsewn. I was stationed in Germany and brought the fabric at the large Post Exchange at a nearby Barracks. It was green with rocking horses on it. There weren’t many options so I picked the fabric I thought would work for a boy or girl (I had a girl!). I didn’t have a sewing machine, as sewing hadn’t been something I had thought about doing for a long time, but I had a need to make my baby her first blanket. Baby quilts have now become one of my favorite items to make.IMG_1913

Over the years, I’ve tried my hand at my crafts: cross-stitch, costuming bears (hot gluing strips of silk and lace onto articulated bears), beading, sewing, scrapbooking, paper cut/die cutting creations, and quilting. Megan's afghanLast year, I added crocheting to my list of crafty endeavors. I still sew, quilt, scrapbook, paper cuts, and crochet. Occasionally, I’ll make a card or two but don’t do it as often, and I only make cards for specific occasions rather than because I’m in the mood to craft.

When I’m itching to craft, but not up to working on a particular project, I’ll pull out my paper, fire up the laptop and get my die cutting machines humming so I can make “cuts”. I find the process relaxing, and I get to embellish. There’s nothing quite as fun as getting out glitter, chalk, and pens to make my paper creations come to life.2014-10-28 19.15.18

Anything Goes Cut Party and stuff 014

I’d love to see some of your creations so please feel free to share some of your projects in the comment section. Let’s inspire each other to craft more in March.

Posted in Uncategorized

Travel Journal

2015-11-09 14.55.40As you’re reading this, my husband and I are relaxing on a deck of a cruise ship (or at a wine tasting depending what time you’re reading the post) to celebrate our 25th anniversary. One of the issues I’ve had when we’ve returned home from a vacation was not remembering all those little details I swore I’d never forget. Between so many new experiences and adventures added to my memory, getting back into the swing of things at home, and catching up on work projects, I don’t have the time when I return home to jot everything down. And, I always seem to lose the pieces of paper that I’ve written down notes and stories about our trip. So many of our scrapbooks have journaling holes.

This time, I decided to bring along a travel journal as it should be a little harder to lose the whole entire book. I didn’t want to bring along a lot of supplies so I decorated a few of the pages and added dates and itinerary. I love the double-sided pen that came with the book. One side is the pen and the other a glue stick. I’ll be able to paste down any memorabilia I collect on the trip. 2015-11-09 14.54.47

Part of my evening during our trip will be devoted to jotting down the story of our day. I want to do it while it’s still relatively fresh in my mind. I made sure to leave plenty of pages blank between days so pictures can be included once we get home. 2015-11-09 14.55.01

I’ve never used a journal before. Usually I take photos and then create a scrapbook. Sometimes I can start an album right after the trip, other times it’s a few months before I can begin the project (or years later and some of the memories are forgotten). It can also take some time to finish all the layouts I want to include in a scrapbook. My last vacation scrapbook took me about 18 months and turned into three albums. We like to take a lot of pictures. For the journal, I’ll use minimal embellishments and have it be a place where I document the stories and include a few pictures, kind of like a picture book.

I’m looking forward to trying something new and being able to do some crafting on the ship. I’m not foregoing doing a traditional scrapbook of our anniversary cruise–I love to scrapbook–but hope doing this now will help make sure I have all the stories I want to tell when I do have time to make an album.

Posted in Books, Excerpt, giveaway, Holiday, Scrapbooking, West Virginia

Scrapbooking Moment from Embellished to Death

West Virginia Craft Week is coming to end for 2015. I’m already looking forward to 2016 as it really got me in the crafting frame of mind and I completed quite a few projects this week. To end the week, I’m sharing a small scrapbooking moment from Embellished to Death, the third book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series published by Henery Press. I hope you enjoy it.

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbExcerpt:

“Hi, can I help you?” I smiled at the young woman in front of me.

She held out an heirloom photograph. The edges had a slight yellowish tint and a slight burn mark on the bottom. In the middle of the picture was an old couple surrounded by two couples holding infants, seven teenagers, and three elementary-aged children. It looked like a family portrait had been taken in front of the house where the couple lived. There was a small clapboard house, a large horse, and numerous pieces of old-time farm equipment.

“I was going to crop the photo but my friend said not to. She said I’d regret it. I just think the background is too busy and the family gets lost.”

I stood and led her to where we had some pattern papers in soft colors. “Your friend is right. In a few years, you might regret not having a picture of your family’s ancestral home.”

The young woman lightly touched the image of one of the young couples. “My great-great-grandparents didn’t live there. My great-grandfather wanted to impress his in-laws so he had the picture taken at the farm he worked at. His wife sent the picture with a letter to her parents so they wouldn’t worry about her. She wanted them to know her new husband was taking good care of her and the baby. This picture convinced her parents that their son-in-law was so successful, he could also take care of them in their aging years

I laughed. “That is an incredible story. I bet a lot of family stories were born by this one picture.”

The young woman grinned at me. “That there were. You know what, I’m going to make a whole scrapbook album about how this one picture changed my great-grandfather’s life. Ten years later, he did own that property.”

“He wanted to live up to his in-laws’ expectations.”

“No.” Her smile broadened. “His in-laws loved it so much that he wanted them to have it so they’d move out of his home.”

About Embellished to Death:

When Faith Hunter agrees to help PI Bob Roget find an identity thief at a local scrapbook retreat, her friendly croppers’ weekend quickly morphs into a dangerous one. As croppers share their own memories, a killer collects them for her new identity, and doesn’t appreciate Faith in the picture.

Faith struggles to balance her professional, detecting and personal lives as threats and secrets keep her off-balance. Things turn deadly when a woman is killed and Faith is blackmailed. Truth and lies collide when Faith discovers croppers aren’t the only ones embellishing, and the results might end her life.

Thank you for spending time with me during West Virginia Craft Week. There’s still time to enter for a chance to win the reading journal. Click on the link at it’ll take you to the post. To enter, comment on what is your favorite book.

Posted in Craft, giveaway, How To, Scrapbooking

Reading Journal

RJ FrontWest Virginia Craft Week has inspired me and to get some some crafting done this week. I’ve planned out a tablecloth (know the pattern and fabrics I’m going to use), watched craft classes on Craftsy, made cards, and have completed some reading journals. I keep track of the books I read on Goodreads, but it’s more of a “I have read, want to read, give this book so many stars” list rather than my thoughts about a book. And as I enjoy the act of handwriting, I thought a journal would be a perfect place to jot down my thoughts, feelings, and questions a book inspires.

My journal began as an ordinary composition notebook. RJ Blank Comp NotebookI could’ve bought one with a design but I wanted to personalize it a little more. I wanted not just my thoughts on the book to showcase who I am, but also the journal itself. The next step was hunting and gathering paper and embellishment options from my scrapbooking stash. RJ Gathering Embellishments I have quite a stash, so this step took me a little while as I pulled out choices then put some back. My poor desk was looking like a section of a scrapbook store. I wanted to have enough items so I could get the right “feel” for the journal, but not so much I’d decide to work on the laundry instead.

Next, I placed a few sheets of pattern paper on the notebook along with ribbon and embellishment choices. Once I had a design I liked, I cut the paper to fit the cover and rounded the outside corners. I liked the rounded corners of the original notebook and wanted to duplicate the look. I love the ribbon marker included in diaries and other journals so I added one to mine. I glued the ribbon to the back of the cover, making sure it was lined up so it wasn’t caught in the crease of the book, then added the pattern paper for the back cover to help secure the ribbon. Once the ribbon was in place, I added an embellishment to the bottom of the ribbon.RJ Ribbon close up 1 2015-10-07 21.11.49

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t like seeing the edge of the pattern paper, so I added a strip of washi tape on the front and back cover. I was enjoying making the journal so much, I couldn’t just make one so I made another to giveaway. To enter for a chance to win the reading journal, please share your favorite book in the comment section, and list your email address so I can contact the winner. A winner will be drawn on Tuesday, October 13.

Posted in Disney Layouts, Scrapbooking, Vacations

Disney Cruise Layouts

One of the first crafting projects I finished in 2015 was our Disney Cruise album. I had been working on the scrapbook(s) since the beginning of 2013. It took quite a few cropping sessions at home, and even more at some weekend scrapbooking retreats to complete the albums. And yes the ‘s’ and the end of scrapbooks was the biggest reason it took so long. Our one week Disney cruise resulted in hundreds of pictures and 3 full albums. 2015-03-08 19.31.17

I knew I needed two albums for all the layouts but was shocked when the scrapbook turned into a trilogy. I sorted the pictures into three separate sections: cruise activities, character and portrait pics, and then Castaway
Cay day.

cruise 2012 cartooniss
Animator’s Palate…draw your own cartoon character.

I wanted to add in our memorabilia throughout the scrapbooks and designed some pages taking that into account. On the We’re Cartoonists page, I added in the dinner rotation tickets that we’re given on the first day. On another page, I added a Fish Extender gift as a frame for the excursion tickets. (FE gifts are like Secret Santa gifts that a group of cruisers drop off at the cabins by placing in totes/bag/FE extenders that are hung on the fishes by the cabin doors. Cruisers sign up through FB or websites dedicated to Disney traveling.)

cruise 2012 costa excursion ticket cruise 2012 costa maya

One of my favorite parts of the cruise was the character pictures. Now, not everyone in the family found standing in line for the pictures was as fun as I did, so one night I decided to go ahead and get character pictures taken with just me. At first I felt a little weird without having anyone else in the family, but I got over my reservations and had fun. I figured there was no reason I shouldn’t take part in one of the events I enjoyed most…who knew when I’d get another chance. cruise 2012 toy story

The last day of the cruise was spent on Castaway Cay. One of favorite layouts was from pictures taken by a lovely woman on the same parasailing excursion as my teens. Only those parasailing were allowed on the boat so I was happy someone took photos for us with our underwater camera. cruise 2012 up For the Up layouts, I used embellishments (paper and dimensional sticker) to help create movement on the page.

Here are a couple of some of my other favorite layouts. For Animator’s Palate, I used some photo pockets to create additional space to display more pictures. (yes, we took a lot of food pictures)

cruise 2012 animator palate
cruise 2012 ap

cruise 2012 megan port

cruise 2012 mcc pg 1cruise 2012 mcc pg 2

Posted in Books, Craft, Scrapbooking

Crafting Moment from Embellished to Death

With March being National Craft Day, I thought it was perfect to share a small scrapbooking moment from Embellished to Death. 

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbExcerpt:

The fall guy. I repositioned all the glitter glue and acid free markers following the Roy G. Biv sequence for hues. I needed something to take my mind off of Bob’s words and the fact I couldn’t do anything about it. Or at least right now. Steve was starting to look like the knock to his head was sapping his energy. There was no way I’d run after Morgan when I needed to keep an eye on Steve. And from what Bob and Ted said about the man, Morgan wasn’t a man to trifle with. He meant painful, hurtful business.

Steve winced and adjusted his chair, turning ever so slightly to the left.

The afternoon sun shone through the windows flanking the back wall of the hotel. The natural light showcased our products beautifully and I hoped it resulted in less returns, though I wished it would tone down a little so Steve wasn’t suffering. I scooted up and sat as tall as I could, hoping to block some of the rays from Steve.

“Do you have tennis items?” A cropper sorted through a pile of sports themed paper and embellishments. “You have every other sport.”

“I packed some,” I said. “There might be a box or two that hadn’t been opened it. I’ll check for you.”

Getting down on my hands and knees, I crawled under the table. The first box I shook was empty. The next had a little heft to it. I tugged it toward me and opened the flaps. Trimmers. Scissors. Piercing tools. I reached up and fumbled my hand around the table.

“Need something?” Steve asked.

“Duct tape.” I wanted to seal the box of possible weapons.

“Here you go.” Steve handed me a roll.

After taping the box, I returned to my original mission. I jiggled the last box. There was something in it. I drew it out and peered inside. Paper and stickers. I hoped the tennis items were in here. The other options were I left them at the store back in Eden, or the trailer. My stomach tightened. I wasn’t looking forward to going outside. I couldn’t send Darlene or Steve. The black sedan might still be there, and I didn’t want either of them running into the owner of the hidden car.

I opened the box. I flipped through the sheets. “Found them.”

“Thanks.” The woman picked out one of each item and headed for the register.

A sealed package of Christmas pattern paper was next and under it Halloween items. This was our discounted product. How did the tennis items get mixed up in here? I lifted the box from the floor.

“Let me get that.” Steve jumped up.

“I got it.” My arms strained. Next year, I’d pass on ordering the Christmas lines for the store. None of my choices sold very well. “Can you clear a space for me? These are clearance items. I’ll just mark the box fifty percent off.”

“We should put it by the register. If you have Bob checking people out, he’s not going to know clearance from regular merchandise.”

Bob had taken up residence in a chair that was on the perimeter but not in the store. Bob rotated his attention between his cell phone, the doors, and Garrison.

“He’s here for the ambience.” I rummaged underneath the table for pieces of cardboard. I wanted to use them as dividers to separate the pattern paper.

A customer handed her selections to Steve.

 I removed some of the paper. A butter yellow scrapbook album was at the bottom of the box–Gussie’s gift album. I rescued it from the bottom of the box. One of our mysteries was solved. Grinning, I scooped it out and sat down.

The first page was a heart-shaped collage of photographs, an at a glance depiction of my grandmothers’ lives. Hope and Cheryl aged from innocent teens, to young mothers, grandmothers, all the way to the present where they were strong, independent business owners.

I turned to the next page. Someone had taken a photo of my grandmothers behind the counter at Scrap This. They smiled brightly, arms draped around each other. I saw love, strength, and honesty in their expressions and body language.

My grandmothers had not only lost their soul mates, but their only children. The world had dealt them many harsh blows in their lifetime, and yet they lived fully and without reservations. They hadn’t turned those pains into a reason to create a shield between themselves and others, instead using their experiences to help others through the same heartbreaks.

“I wish I could be like them.” I touched the edge of the photograph, wanting to draw the best of them into me.

“You are.” Steve wrapped his arms around me, placing a tender kiss on my head.

“No, I’m not.”

“If you believe that, then you know what to do to change it.”

Steve was right. I stood, pressing the book to my pounding heart. I yearned to fess up, but now wasn’t the time or place. There were too many distractions and people around. Steve, the man I loved, deserved to be told without an audience.