Books · Craft · Reviews · West Virginia

SRP Review: Hippie Homesteaders: Arts, Crafts, Music and Living on the Land in West Virginia by Carter Taylor Seaton

hippie homesteadersHippie Homesteaders takes the reader to West Virginia, introducing them to craftspeople who made their home in the Mountain State in order to live off land and their artistic skills. It filled me with pride to learn how the government of the state of WV encouraged and supported crafters. Crafting is highly respected as it’s a  way to continue and respect traditions of the past, and to bring them into the future. Tamarack is a center that connects WV crafters with travelers so the artisans have an outlet showcase their talents for new buyers and fans.

This book gives a snapshot of the lives of many crafters who came to WV in order to earn a living with their art, and sometimes coming to the state to learn an art to support themselves. The artists found themselves accepted in their new state and given opportunities to perfect their craft. I loved getting a peek into the lives of these artists and their struggles and determination to live off the land and their crafting abilities. The artist community is a tight knit group and its was wonderful to read how they helped each other.

The Internet has made it possible for the artists (painters, potters, beaders, quilters, weavers, etc.) to reach more buyers and allows them to grow their income, and introduce those outside of the state to the unique handcrafted wares produced in the state of West Virginia.

The can-and-will do spirit of the crafters showcased in the book was a huge encouragement to me and restored some of that same attitude in me. I can’t wait to get back to my writing…and I’m also itching to get some more crafting of my own done.

 

 

Cooking · Craft · Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking Recipes

When I started scrapbooking a little over fifteen years ago, I joined some internet scrapbooking communities so I could learn more techniques and connect with other crafters. It was in one of these groups that I meet my friend who showed me there was more to preserving memories than a traditional scrapbook. She had gifted me a recipe album and it opened up my eyes to the different ways we can share our story with future generations. All of the recipes were done like scrapbook layouts. I had a couple of cookbooks but never thought about making pages for my favorite ones, or when a book got ruined, taking out the recipes I used and making a layout to preserve them.

2015-09-26 12.05.12Nowadays, I find myself using recipes I find on the internet more than my cookbooks as it’s easier to find a recipe to use with the ingredients I have on hand. But, sometimes I couldn’t find the recipe again. Either I forgot to bookmark it, my favorites got wiped out, or if I printed the recipe it was getting illegible from using it while cooking and the website wasn’t printed on the page. I kept reminding myself to scrapbook the new recipes so they’d be protected in a protector, and I liked showcasing the recipes with a little of my own creative spin.

recipe crop
My cropping set up for working on the recipe pages.

It wasn’t until we started getting the Blue Apron orders that I knew I had to set aside some scrapbooking time to work on my recipe pages. We were enjoying the recipes from Blue Apron and I wanted to keep them in a binder. Why just put them in a binder when I could make some layouts with them? I’d have to find an alternate method of scrapbooking as the traditional way wouldn’t work as the 8 1/2 x 11 inch cards had the ingredient list on the front and the steps on the back. Pocket style scrapbooking was the way to go. I could see both front and back, and by using 12×12 pages, I could add some decorative touches and comments.

I bought a Fuse, a tool that’ll seal the page protector, so I could create my own pockets. I placed the recipe into the binder, then fused on the side so the recipe stayed in place. I added pattern paper on the top and side of the recipe to add journaling and embellishments. On the side panels on my pages, I noted our favorites and also any changes I’d make the next time we cooked the recipe. There was one where the mint was a little strong for me so I noted “less mint” for the next time.

2015-09-25 17.40.44

Craft · Everyday Life · West Virginia

West Virginia Craft Week – October 2-11, 2015

WV-Craft-Week-LogoThis is the first year West Virginia is having a craft week, and I’m so excited. (I know that time period equals more than a week, but it’s the official date for the event.) It’s so great to see artisans being celebrated across West Virginia, and the event is also happening in other parts of the US. There are many events around the state where you can get a glimpse at the crafting process and meet some of the artisans in your area. The Tamarack Foundation has a wonderful list of some of the events taking place in West Virginia. Artisan Events in WV.

It’s a great time to find beautiful, unique handcrafted items for your home, as gifts, and you might see a craft demonstration that you’ll introduce you to your new hobby. I already found a place, somewhat local to me, that’s offering knitting classes. I’ve always wanted to knit, and this is the perfect week to find the information as it’s sign of encouragement for me to try a new craft.

This weekend, I plan on attending the Burlington Apple Harvest (as long as it doesn’t get rained out due to Hurricane Joaquin). I look forward to this event every year. It has a great mix of crafters, vendors, wonderful food, and an awesome flea market section. The first thing I always do is look at all the handcrafted items and put together my buy list. After doing my craft shopping, it’s time for a trip back to the car to load up my purchases before getting an apple dumpling and either chili or barbecue chicken. And my day wouldn’t be complete without browsing around the flea market area where I’ll find more handcrafted items, last year I redecorated my new kitchen last year with cute themed towels, Disney memorabilia to add to my collection, and this year I’m on the lookout for picture frames made from recycled wood.

To celebrate the first day of Craft Week, I’ll share some pictures of a few of my favorite projects. Now that I spent some time browsing my handcrafted item pictures, I want to craft. Instead, I must get to my other creative outlet–writing–and work on Scrap This mysteries number 5. (still debating between titles)

2015-06-05 10.35.08
Disney autograph book
cruise 2012 up
A layout of my children parasailing.
2014-10-28 19.14.47
A card I made for a very helpful friend.
Midnight dreary
A framed quote I made for an auction.
Cooking · Everyday Life · Gardening · West Virginia

The End of a Garden

2015-07-29 17.02.04It’s time to say goodbye to our garden. We’ll be picking our last harvest tomorrow., not that there’s much left. The temperature is cool in the morning and the plants are no longer thriving. I was hoping to have one more batch of tomatoes, but it is not to be. I have enjoyed my time in the garden this summer and am bittersweet at its depature. I love my almost 5-foot tall jalapeno plant and would love to wait it out and see just how tall it could get. But alas, my husband is ready for the last mow of the season, and to prep the garden for next year, so it’s time to get the last of the vegetables and dig up the remainder of the plants (to make it easier for him to mow).

I have plans to make the garden a little bigger for next year because there wasn’t enough space for all I planted. This was our first year gardening and we were told not to worry if some of our plants didn’t take. It happens. Well, we had beginner’s luck and lost only one tomato plant. Okay, we did “lose” all four of our green bean plants but that was because of the rabbits. Baby rabbits are the perfect size to sneak between the holes in the wire fence. And those little rascals love, love, love green beans.

Some of the lessons/tips I’ve learned this year are:

  1. If the recommended planting space is 18-24 inches, go with 24. Once the plants started growing, there wasn’t enough space to easily weed, and I broke a few plants.
  2. Marigolds. Our 4-foot tall fence didn’t keep out the deer. One morning, my husband saw a buck in the middle of the garden chowing down on the tomatoes. He yelled at the deer and it jumped out. We noticed a neighbor still had lovely, red tomatoes in their garden, and had marigolds planted on the corners. Apparently, deer do not like the smell of the marigolds and it keeps them away. I’m not sure about that, but since it worked for them, I’m all for giving it a try.
  3. Four plants of four different types of hot peppers equals an overabundance of peppers. Next year, we’ll go with one less variety. Three of them my husband really liked for making his homemade hot sauces.   2015-09-02 11.07.17 2015-09-12 18.32.17
  4. Add mesh to the bottom of the fence so rabbits don’t bring their babies to your garden to use as a buffet. If I looked out the window and saw the mom and dad rabbits (or maybe they were all moms or all dads) sitting a few feet away from the garden, that meant the offspring were munching away on the green beans.
  5. I have gained a love for eating vegetables. For some reason, vegetables from your own garden taste so good.
  6. Gardening can become very addictive. There’s just something about growing food that is so satisfying. I have to say my most exciting moment was when it was time to harvest the brussel sprouts. I was telling everyone I could that I “made” brussel sprouts. It’s a highlight of my summer that ranks right by there with going to Disney World.

 

This winter, I plan on learning about canning and pruning so I can enjoy next year’s bounty more.2015-09-12 18.16.11

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.

Books · Craft · Scrapbooking · West Virginia · Writing

Release Day – Embellished to Death

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbI’m so excited, today is Embellished to Death’s book birthday. I’ll admit that Embellished stretched me some as I took Faith out of her (and my) comfort zone by putting her in a new environment, and also introducing some new characters. I loved meeting the new additions to Faith’s life, though I a little trouble with one wanting to take over the story (yes, Bob, I’m talking about you). Sometimes when an author falls in love with a secondary character, that character has the potential to overshadow the main one. It took a few battles of the will between me and Bob (I did win), to find the perfect balance of Bob being Faith’s counterpart in this mystery without his role of being a professional private investigator stifling Faith.

Here’s the blurb for Embellished:

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.

I’m going on a virtual book tour from today until October 3. You can find me and Embellished at the following places:

Tour Participants

September 23 – Mommasez… – Review, Guest Post

September 24 – Books Are Life  – Vita Libri – Review

September 25 – Mystery Playground – Guest Post

September 26 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review

September 27 – Community Bookstop – Review

September 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review, Guest Post

September 29 – Brooke Blogs – Review

September 30 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading – Review, Guest Post

October 1 – Back Porchervations – Review, Interview

October 2 – a chick who reads – Review

October 3 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review, Interview

Sale: To celebrate the release of Embellished, the ebook editions of Cropped to Death and Designed to Death are on sale for 99 cents each at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. I’m not sure how long the price drop will last, so if you’ve been thinking about trying the series, now’s a great time.

 

 

 

Scrapbooking

Packing for a Crop – Step One: Gather and Purge

There’s nothing I anticipate with excitement, and dread, quite like a crop retreat away from home. There’s just something soul-enriching about attending an event with others who share the same love and passion I have for scrapbooking. Retreats allows me to focus on scrapbooking without thinking about my to-do list at home. When I’m away at a weekend retreat it’s all about scrapbooking and enjoying time with other croppers. 

This weekend, I’ll be cropping away (and also launching the newest in my scrapbooking mystery series Embellished to Death) at the Heavenly Scrapbook Retreats in Flatwoods, WV. The part I dread about going to a crop retreat is the packing. There are too many choices, too many must-haves, and limited space not only at the crop but in my vehicle. To make packing for the retreat not so overwhelming, I think of it as a three-step process. Today, I’ll show you step one of my process. Step two – Packing Totes — will appear on my blog on Wednesday, and Packing the Car on Friday. I won’t have a post about choosing/sorting through photos as I fortunately already had that done. (Secret time: I have that done because I’m still working on a Disney album so I sorted the photos out about a year ago)

Step One: Gather and Purge

After I do the gathering, I always want to quit and reconsider if I really, really want to go to a crop. I mean, I have everything right here in my house. Why would I want to leave? Then I remember it’s because I get more layouts done outside of the house and I enjoy spending time with other scrapbookers. So, after taking a few deep breaths and steeling my nerves, I once again stand in front of my must-bring items. Everything on the white table, and on the floor near the table, are what I intended to bring to the retreat. Problem — I own a Malibu not a U-haul. All of these items will not fit into my trunk.

After creation of "the pile" I always take a little sanity break.
After creation of “the pile” I always take a little sanity break.

And that brings me to the purge. I have to break some hearts, leaving some of my ‘beloveds’ at home. It’s hard to tell your supplies that they aren’t your first tier items. When narrowing down, I started with what I knew would be the easiest to decide between: my table lamps. I have two Ottlites, one is my sturdy, have-had-since-forever lamp that I bought back in early 2000 when I first started scrapbooking, and then my newer Ottlite which also doubles as my desk lamp.

A Tale of Two Lamps
A Tale of Two Lamps

This decision was almost instantaneous: my sturdy, have-had-since-forever lamp was coming to the retreat. One, I knew I needed my desk lamp this week as I had some crafting I wanted to do before I left, and my older Ottlite was sturdier for traveling. I worried that the sleek white lamp could get damaged in the car since the trunk is usually crammed.

After that I moved onto tools. I knew I needed my trimmer, corner rounder, Kiwi Design Templates, border punch so those all went to the side of the table for packing. At the retreat, each cropper gets a six-foot table and everything needs to fit on my table and within my “boundaries”. There was one item I wanted to bring but decided to get realistic about: my Cuttlebug and embossing folders.

Cuttlebug and supplies
Cuttlebug and supplies

I’ve had my Cuttlebug for about a year now and haven’t used it that much. I intended to when I bought, but it has mainly sat on the table with its neighbors: the embossing folders and the container of cardstock and pattern paper cut to fit the folders. I tried convincing myself that if I brought them, I’d have no choice but to use them. I’d feel obligated since I carted them all that way. The truth was I’d be more likely to either leave them in the car so as not to induce guilt, or just have it sitting on my table looking all cute and stylish with its matching and complementary container. So, Cuttlebug and it’s supplies remain at home.

The next item on my list, and to procrastinate some more on the decision I didn’t want to make, was the consumable supplies: cardstock, pattern paper, and embellishments. Since I’m working on a Disney Cruise album at the retreat, sorting through my consumables went smoothly. Everything that was Disney or cruise theme went into the pack pile, and everything else was placed in a basket to put away after I was done with my packing. I didn’t want to get distracted with my mission, or even worse find something I hadn’t “gathered” and decided it was now needed, so I’d return everything to its proper place when finished packing.

I was now on to the last decision. The hardest. The one I’ve been avoiding, yet also thinking about while sorting through all of my other items. Which electronic die-cutting joined me at the retreat, and which one stayed home? Cameo or Cricut?

Cameo or Cricut?
Cameo or Cricut?

There were pros and cons to both machines. I liked the ease of using cartridges with the Cricut, as the internet connection can be spotty at times, but that meant I’d have to take along my cartridges. I loved that with the Cameo, I’d have no cartridges but what happened if the internet connection went out, or if I had trouble logging in? My trouble-shooting expert (my husband Brian) wasn’t coming with me so I’d be left to my own devices. In the end, I decided on my Cameo because my husband advised me to take whichever one I’d have more fun with. And, that would be the Cameo as I’ve been “collecting” some cute files and haven’t had a chance to play with them yet. Now, this does mean I also have to bring a laptop along but I’m okay with bringing one extra item that would also allow me to review some episodes of Once Upon a Time before it returns to the Sunday TV line-up.

Books · Contests · Excerpt · Scrapbooking · West Virginia · Writing

Embellished to Death Excerpt

In five weeks, Embellished to Death, the third book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series will be released September 23. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. In this book, I take Faith out of Eden to Morgantown, WV for a weekend crop retreat, and also introduce some new people into her life. I’ll admit it was a struggle working with a new setting, and not allowing some of the wonderful secondary characters to take over. I feel in love with one of them and had to keep telling the character it wasn’t their story. Here’s a snippet of Embellished to Death.

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbExcerpt:

 “We’re here for the scrapbooking convention,” I said. “I’m Faith, one of the vendors for the weekend. Scrap This.”

 “I’m Ellie. And this is Pauline.” She motioned toward the other woman. “We’re the embossers. We’re waiting for the doors to open.”

 “I’m going to find the manager to let us in. One of the organizers broke down this morning so they’re running late.”

 “Ladies, I was wondering if you’d mind giving up your spot for a moment.” Steve lounged very attractively against the side of the truck. The women looked over my shoulder, plastered smiles on their faces, and thrust out their chests. “I have to unload this beast.”

 His body was braced against the passenger door. Ever so casual and sexy. The sun gleamed off his shaved head and the sunglasses covering his eyes. His muscular arms were crossed across his equally muscular chest. The stance tightened the bright red t-shirt with white swirly letters encouraging croppers to Scrap This, and showed off the fact there was no body fat anywhere on the man’s stomach.

 Not too many men, hot or otherwise, showed up at cropping events. Usually the only men “attending” were ones keeping nursing babies in rooms, or trying to entertain toddlers in meltdown mode while mom scrapped. When they made an appearance in the crop room, their frantic gazes scattered around the room in a desperate search for the mother of their children.

 Ellie batted her eyes at him. “We’d love to, but there’s no way we can lug our machines across the parking lot.”

 “How about I unload it and place it by the door?” Steve smiled at her.

 Pauline and Ellie looked down at the sidewalk and then at each other. Ellie bit her lip and raised her eyebrows. Pauline shook her head no.

 “After we unload, I’ll have Steve help you get your items from your van.” I hoped I made an offer they couldn’t refuse. “He can use our handcart to transport your embossing machine.”

Pauline grinned and pointed over my shoulder. She fluffed her hair around her shoulders and sent a welcoming beam of a smile toward Bob. “If you can get him to help too, you have a deal. We have our cropping totes that also need brought in.”

Bob had parked in front of the hotel portion of the resort and motioned for me to come over. Sadly for Pauline, her plan to catch Bob’s eye wouldn’t work as Steve was more his type.

“Sure. He’ll help,” I said.

Pauline high-fived her friend. “I’ll move ours. You can move the tote gal’s van.”

Ellie dangled a set of keys. “She left her keys in case her vehicle needed to be moved. Considerate girl.”

I made a mental note to show my appreciation by buying something from the tote gal. I jogged toward Bob, cutting through the parking lot as I didn’t want to misjudge a jump over one of the dividers separating one parking lot from the other. Hopefully, whatever favor he wanted was a large enough request, he wouldn’t be annoyed at me for filling up his dance card.

A woman screamed.

An engine hummed. I paused and turned. A beige car bore down on me. My breath locked in my throat. I felt like a deer during hunting season, did I feint left or right to get out of the way? Strong arms wrapped around my waist and made the decision for me. My rescuer met the hard asphalt and I came in contact with his muscled body. The car whizzed right past us, the breeze it created pushing my hair off my face.

The man’s grip relaxed from around me.

Feet pounded toward us.

“Are you two okay?” Bob’s voice came from the vicinity of the hotel.

I eased off my rescuer to get a look at who risked life and limb to get me out of the way. Steve. Not a surprise. Placing a hand on his chest, I leaned down to kiss my knight. I froze.

His eyes were closed. He wasn’t moving.

Embellished giveawayGiveaway: To celebrate the release of Embellished to Death, I’m having a giveaway for a signed copy of the ARC and also a Scrapbooks Made Me Do It t-shirt. To enter, sign up to receive my quarterly newsletter. The link to join is at the top of my website and also on my author Facebook page.

Books · Craft · Excerpt · Scrapbooking · West Virginia · Writing

Crafting Moment from Cropped to Death

With March being National Craft Month, I’m featuring some crafting…and love of handmade items…moments from my novels. In this scene, Faith is teaching homicide detective Ted Roget some basics of scrapbooking.

CROPPED front smExcerpt:

Since he wanted to play student, I’d oblige. I pulled the band from my hair and allowed it to fall to my shoulders. “I chose some neutrals paper for the background. If you want, you could pick out a different color or we can find a complementary color of cardstock to use as the photo mat for your project.”

“And that would be?” His gaze roamed around the store.

“Are you asking what is your project or what is card-stock?”

“Both.”

I let out a huff of breath. “The project is up to you. The cardstock I can show you. It’s a type of paper we carry. It’s down this aisle.” I pointed.

“How would I know cardstock from wide ruled paper?” He asked, humor lacing his words.

“For one thing, we don’t sell wide-ruled paper. We’re not a stop for back to school shopping.”

“I’m a guy. Paper is paper.”

Gesturing toward the multitude of color paper, I stepped aside. “This, Detective Roget—”

“Can you call me Ted?” He gazed into my eyes, the green of his a vivid forest. “The detective title sounds out of place.”

Flustered by the intensity in his eyes, I looked away. “Sure. Why not, that’s your name isn’t it?” What is it about Roget—Ted—that caused words to start flowing before the mind engaged?

His lips twitched into a smile and then slipped back in-to a straight line.

“This is cardstock. It’s heavier. Paper. Acid-free…” I clamped my lips shut and stopped the stumbling speech. Hard to inspire confidence when a person sounded like they didn’t know what they were talking about.

“I’m supposed to choose one from all of those?” He looked terrified at the prospect.

“It’s just paper.” Why did men get so bent out of shape by hues? I stood in the middle of the aisle and pointed at the reds and then the blues. “What color is predominant in the photo you’re using for your layout?”

He grimaced. “This was a spur of the moment decision. I had nothing else to do tonight.“

“I figured that.” I refrained from rubbing my hands in malicious glee. It was time to turn the tables. Let him feel uncomfortable and out of his league.

He reached forward and pulled out a burgundy sheet, the color closest to his reach.

The best way to know a person was to see what their private life was like. And this was my opportunity, so I went through the wide open door. “If you’re not going to enter into the contest, I’m willing to waive the subject of the photograph for your layout. Do you have an idea of what kind of picture you’d like to put on the layout?”

“Not really.” He returned the burgundy and removed a sheet of Christmas red.

“Please don’t tell me you’re not a picture-taking kind of guy.”

“Not too much in life to take photos of.”

I gaped at him. “Of course there is. Everyone’s life is worth documenting. What about holiday celebrations, mile-stones in your life, your work, or family?”

Sadness appeared in his eyes. He pivoted and continued down the row of paper. “My little girl loves green. The brighter the better.”

Questions tumbled through my mind about his daughter, but it was none of my business. Besides finding out what shade of green his little girl preferred. A jade green color caught my eye and I pointed it out to Ted.

With a blinding grin, he shook his head. Squatting down, he grabbed a handful of neon green cardstock from the bottom slot of the paper rack.

“This is Claire.” He waved the stack at me. “Can I use this as the major color and then use tan as the mat? Or whatever is the technical term you used. I’ll make something for her to hang in her room.”

The love in his voice for his daughter touched me. I felt my attitude softening toward Ted. Maybe his ulterior motive for stopping by was a good one. Not that I had any clue what it would be.

Blurb:

Former US Army JAG specialist, Faith Hunter, returns to her West Virginia home to work in her grandmothers’ scrapbooking store determined to lead an unassuming life after her adventure abroad turned disaster. But her quiet life unravels when her friend is charged with murder, and Faith inadvertently supplied the evidence. So Faith decides to cut through the scrap and piece together what really happened. With a sexy prosecutor, a determined homicide detective, a handful of sticky suspects and a crop contest gone bad, Faith quickly realizes if she’s not careful, she’ll be the next one cropped.
Cropped to Death is available in print, ebook, and audio. The book can be purchased at:
Books · Excerpt · West Virginia

Release Day: Far and Away, Book 5 New Beginnings Series

FarandAwayCoverArt72dpiIt’s a bittersweet day. Far and Away, the fifth book in the New Beginning Series is now available. Release days are always exciting but this one holds a tad bit of sadness as Far and Away is the last book in the series. I’ve enjoyed writing about these characters, and the town of Mourning, and am a little disheartened to have to say goodbye to the characters and the town. During the course of the series, the town of Mourning took on a greater role and in a way became its own character.

This last book features Priscilla Thorn and Edgar Fritz. Originally, the last book was going to feature a different heroine and an unknown at the time hero. But as it came time to write book five, I knew in my heart the story that needed told was Priscilla’s and Edgar’s. In a way, the series began with Priscilla Thorn and seemed fitting to end with her. I was thrilled that Gail, Editor-in-Chief, of Desert Breeze allowed me to change the story not just from the original heroine but also to feature an older couple. Older couples aren’t usually featured in romance, especially in romantic suspense, but this book had to be about Priscilla (62) and Edgar (70). I hope readers enjoy reading about a non-traditionally aged couple.

Blurb:

The hope of a future for the broken begins in Mourning.

Priscilla Thorn’s heart broke when her son killed his wife and now shatters when her son takes his own life. Priscilla’s grief-stricken soul finds little comfort knowing before he died, Samuel turned his life over to God. Priscilla believes for Samuel to receive forgiveness from the Heavenly Father, she must give it to Samuel’s earthly father…her abusive ex-husband.

Edgar Fritz is stunned when the woman he loves takes her dying ex-husband into her home. While Priscilla sees caring for her ex-husband as showing God’s love, Edgar believes Stephen will use the opportunity for revenge. Edgar risks losing Priscilla’s friendship by insisting the man hasn’t changed his ways and has come back to hurt her one last time.

Is Priscilla risking her life by insisting her ex-husband changed so the world — and God — will know her son had changed?

Excerpt:

Behind the coffin, the plain wooden cross stood tall and proud. Reminding Priscilla Thorn of all lost and then found when the Savior sacrificed His life on Earth so all had a chance for eternity in Heaven. All. Priscilla held that word tightly in her heart. All. The Lord promised it for all.

Priscilla clutched the single red rose. A thorn bit into her skin. Her son was gone from the Earth. Tears blurred her vision. She blinked to clear them from her eyes. The door to the sanctuary opened and a gust of wind skittered through the church. Strands of gray hair had escaped from the bun and hung down her back, fluttering toward her face. She tipped her neck back, hoping the wind God sent dried the tears on her face.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” a sweet voice broke into her thoughts.

Priscilla startled. Emma Haywood’s compassionate eyes meet hers. Emma squeezed Priscilla’s hand then slipped into the pew behind her.

“You came.” She didn’t know what else to say.

“Of course we would.” Sheriff Haywood’s voice rumbled from the doorway.

Priscilla pivoted in the seat and stared. Friends, neighbors, and the ones she hoped to see but already forgiven if they couldn’t, walked through the door.

“Sorry for interrupting, Pastor,” Sheriff Haywood said. “A car slid into the valley and delayed a lot of people as it got towed out.”

Hannah Stratford slid into the pew beside Emma. “Connor sends his condolences and regrets. They need his search and rescue skills, along with his dogs, to find the driver of the vehicle.”

Angelina Stratford took the vacant seat beside Priscilla while her husband Todd joined Emma and Hannah. “We decided it was best for Renee and the baby to stay at Connor and Hannah’s. Alex decided he needed to go help in the search so Jonas went with him.”

“I appreciate everyone making the trek to Mourning. This isn’t easy for your family.” Priscilla clutched the Bible to her chest, hoping it helped settle the roiling of her stomach and pounding heart.

“It isn’t for you either.” Angelina rested a comforting hand on top of Priscilla’s. “You were there for us in our grief. You took the anger Alex and Renee lashed out at you.”

“They needed somewhere for it to go.” Priscilla rubbed her fingers over the worn leather. “If I could’ve stopped it…”

“I knew that.” Angelina took hold of her hand. “Regardless of the fact Samuel took Melody’s life, he’s still your child. Your heart broke once when Melody died, and now it breaks again. We couldn’t let you go through that alone.”

Priscilla nodded, fighting back grateful tears. They had come. Her friends hadn’t forgotten her or allowed her son’s actions to keep them away when she needed them most.

One of the heavy weights on her shoulders slipped off, the other remained and skipped into her head as a situation played itself out. A car skidded into the valley. She had notified Stephen of the funeral.

Was her ex-husband the missing driver? Stephen drank during times of stress and this qualified. People changed. She had. Samuel had.

Buy Links:

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Desert Breeze Publishing