It’s Monday Again…

This weekend was pretty uneventful. I stayed home and read. worked on some art projects, blog posts, website content and watched movies. One needs those kind-of weekends sometimes, you know? Today I am sharing some pictures from my weekend. I’m still reading, Gradle Bird by J.C. Sassen and I will be through with it soon.

I love journals. I started back with it recently and I have such a busy schedule right now it helps keep me grounded.

Journal 11-20-17

I’m in the process of prepping the backgrounds for #christmastags I’ll be using for giveaways at Novel Expressions #Facebook Page in December.

Link to Novel Expressions Page HERE

Christmas Tags Prep 2017

My daughter painted on canvas and when I took this picture, she wouldn’t let me see what she was working on! By the way…. she doesn’t know I took this picture. Ha-ha… Her project turned out great.

Daughter creating 2017 I

I created this tag using Tim Holtz distress inks for the background.  I am so addicted to his products! They are amazing. I do believe the  paper flower is from his product line as well. The picture I took doesn’t do the tag justice but you get the idea…

Tag I Nov 2017

Two weekends ago now at a book event (BOOK EXCHANGE/MARIETTA, GA) I was sitting with author Kimberly Brock and she said she had a friend coming and her name is Emily, do I know her? I said she sounded familiar…. She sat between us and the three of us were having a great time listening to the four southern authors that were being featured at this event. It just now came to me that Emily is the author of The Weight of Lies! I reviewed that book and loved it. Darn it all, I didn’t get a photo with her! Total fan girl here! I am definitely going to include her in my southern writer’s series here at Layered Pages.

The Weight of Lies

Thank you for visiting with me today and be sure to come back this week for more fun posts.

Stephanie M. Hopkins


Vintage Art & Historical Fiction


Image two vintage

This week’s vintage art collage/card turned out great! I had a lot of fun with this project and reflected on its meaning for my life and the lives of others. The month of November is one of my favorite times of the year and this piece shows much of my creative side. Many of you will recognize the mix-media I used for this craft. Among the supplies are Tim Holtz products and The Paper Studio. The background is heavy card stock and pattern paper I punched out into small squares. As you can see, I used layers and added metal and brads.

By Gaslight

I’m not sure I will have time for art this weekend. I have several social functions to attend to and I want to get a little bit more through, By Gaslight by Seven Price. This story has over seven hundred pages! Ahem, that is a lot of pages for someone who has a backlog of reviews a mile long and has a millions other things going on.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and thank you for visiting Layered Pages this week.

Stephanie M. Hopkins


Book Spotlight: Quiet by Susan Cain

The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking



The book that started the Quiet Revolution

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

  • Publisher: Broadway Books (January 24, 2012)

Author Website 

Excerpt Review: Origin by Dan Brown

Steph Pic retakeDan Brown is the author of best-selling book The DaVinci Code among others and I believe he prides himself on writing fiction that has stirred numerous debates on his premises. His works-while fiction-has an intellectual ideology of science and religion and I think that is what fascinates me most about his work. Or maybe how he portrays his settings and characters? Either way, they do draw people in and I admire that in an author.

However, earlier I did make up my mind not to read anymore of his books. Alas, this latest one and considering Brown’s reputation has sparked my interest yet again in this controversy subject of science and religion. Before I start sounds too repetitive, let me tell you what I think of the prologue and the first chapter I was given by the publishers through NetGalley to read and review.

Brief summary of prologue and first chapter-Edmond Kirsch a man of accomplished science, a former student of Robert Langdon, journeys to Spain to speak with religious scholars about a vital secret of his scientific discovery that will shake the foundations of the religious world-if you will. One of the men he speaks to is Bishop Antonia Valdespino-a formidable figure in Spain. A man-I can already tell-of great wisdom and intellect.

In the prologue, it is not told what the secret is and in the first chapter Langdon goes to meet Kirsch to hear what he has discovered. Of what little interaction I read between the two men, I found to be utterly interesting and I wanted to continue with the story…. Dan Brown has succeeded in capturing my attention in this excerpt and I am anxiously awaiting to read more. One other thing, Brown is great with character development and descriptive language.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

About the book:


A Novel by Dan Brown

Doubleday Books


General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & ThrillersPub Date 03 Oct 2017

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

Cover Crush: Time and Regret by M.K. Tod

Cover Crush banner

I admit, I judge a book by its cover. Overall presentation is important to pull a reader in. When I read a story I want to be completely immersed. A grand cover helps that along. Imagery and all-if you will. Check out this book description below and then be sure to read what I have to say about the cover and the premise!

Time and regret

About the book:

Time and Regret: When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

Through her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.

My thoughts:

I have to confess something. Yesterday when I first saw this book cover on Facebook, I was sipping a cup of hot tea and almost spilled it all over me. I kid you not. Such a dramatic and artful cover that has been beautifully crafted. The cover gives you a real sense of time and place of the era its written in. I was totally cover crushing over this yesterday and still am. My deepest respect to the designers.

When I read the book blurb I became more intrigued. I love reading stories that hold long buried secrets, the bond of family and in the mist of troubled times. This story has all the elements of a good read and I am REALLY looking forward to reading it.

Check out these other great cover crushes at my fellow book bloggers sites!

A Bookaholic Swede

Flashlight Commentary

2 Kids and Tired Books



Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Ted Kelsey

Ted Kelsey

I’d like to welcome, B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Ted Kelsey today to talk with me about his book, OLGA. Ted lives in Peekskill, NY with his wife, daughter and 3 cats. He is the author of the novel OLGA, which was a 5 Star “Top Pick for 2015” by the Underground Book Review, a New Apple Literary Official Selection, and a recipient of a B.R.A.G. Medallion for quality in indie books.  His articles on language and culture have been featured in Metropolis and English Teaching Professional magazines.

He works full time in an international school as a teacher and administrator. He does most of his writing early in the morning on the train.

His second book, Shasha and Wally Watson Versus The Faker, will be released early 2016.

Ted, how did you discover indieBRAG?

First I found “Awesome Indies” whose author services (editing, manuscript review) I’ve begun using for my next book, a mystery novel about a teen-ager who uses her little brother’s special brain to find a missing girl. And through Awesome Indies, I found B.R.A.G.

Please tell me about your book, OLGA.

OLGA with a capital O, L, G, and A. Thanks for that. It’s no abbreviation. But it’s about a bigger than life adventure with a bigger than life figure, Olga herself — drop caps for a moment here so that I don’t fall into the sin of digitally shouting her name. OLGA the book. Olga the girl, the terrible and lonely daughter of the cloud giant.

This is a novel for children. I’m hesitant to call it a children’s book, because that implies something quite different, and unfortunately, in many cases, something quite unfair to children. It’s a golden age, I heard recently, for literature for children and young adults, for books that speak to their interests without talking down to them. Everything I write when I manage to be a bit genuine is addressed to some version of myself. So there is that. And I’m sure that I’m not the first to note it. And so, OLGA, was again, for me. Me at the age of 8. And my brilliant daughter, who first read it at that age.

It’s a weird and woolly “fairytale fantasy”. That’s the genre C.S. Lewis declared that he wrote in, and I wish the term were so widely kindled that it needed no explanation. Something fantastic. But moral. An elemental working out of issues like fear, courage, friendship, and lies… without being as pedantic and saccharine as a book that starts with a moral in mind. And also an adventure. It’s a book about magic talking moths, shrill and shrimpy giants no more than 3 stories tall, and full-sized terrible giants who eat children at their worst and merely steal toys from our world at their best.

Interiority and intensity. That’s what we should call childlike. That’s the true nature of childhood. OLGA is illustrated by Dillon Samuelson, and I’m fortunate for that. He captured the sense, probably better than I could, of dread and comfort, of big terrible monsters lumbering in the ready familiar world of a fairytale.

How neat that your story is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk Fairytale. What lead you to write this story?

Lots of things go into the story. Is this a question about inspiration? It’s difficult to nail down. I remember the day I started writing very clearly. I took the day off work to attend a meeting at a school that my nephew was attending in New York. There was a feeling of being diligent and grown up, but after-all I was a little freer than usual. I was authorized to be playing hooky.

It was one of those early nearly rainy days when it rains earnestly in the morning but forgets to keep it up. I was waiting for a train. The station was right on the front between rain and sun so that a drizzle was driving me under the station awning, but better weather had reached the far shore of the Hudson River. A cotton dab of cloud there looked like it had snagged on the mountain. And I wanted to write a story. Badly. I’d stalled on one project and was ready to start something new. I was going on vacation in about two months. I had an idea that maybe I could manage to write something for the kids, my daughter and her cousins, who would be sharing a house with us.

I didn’t finish it in time. The book did come to be for my daughter. When I was about three-quarters through the hand-written draft, I started to read it to her. And get her advice.

In fact, I’d told her versions of Jack and Beanstalk for years. Jack was her neighbor, and the giant had a lonely daughter named Olga. It was a cuter version of the story that I would write in OLGA, but the elements were there: hide-and-seek, a pet white tiger, a princess caught in a glass ball.

But there is always more. For example, I was stepping out of my house to go the playground one Sunday… I think it was a week before I started to write but it could have been days after. I saw a butterfly, one of the first of the season. I had an idea about another garden somewhere. A moonlight garden. It was a place with moths instead of butterflies and white flowers that blossomed to the moon instead of the sun.


Tell me about, OLGA.

Olga, the character, is a giant girl, about 6-7 stories tall with blue-black skin and a pile of silver hair on her head almost as tall as herself. She is cruel, but she comes from a cruel family. She lies and traps Jack. But she also needs his help. She has a secret she is afraid of the other giants finding.

How long did it take to write your story?

The bulk of the story took about 3 months to write. And about 3 years to finish. But that’s a little disingenuous. During those 3 years, I would work on it, then go away and come back.

Will you be writing another story that is a retelling of a fairytale?

I’ve written a draft of another book that I think I would like to publish someday which is a retelling of an old Celtic legend about 2 brothers. One good, one bad, but in my version, the bad one is tortured and confused, and the good is careless and manipulative. Needless to say, if it goes to print, it is more in the YA territory.

I don’t want to rewrite fairytales as a niche. But I’m in good company finding inspiration in them. I often cite other books too. For whatever reason, there are often nods to other books in my novels. And really good writers hanging over my shoulder like the proverbial Christmas ghosts, admonishing and encouraging in equal measure.

I’m going to put this out into the universe, just in case there is some truth to the oft-cited and tragically misleading law of attraction. I want to write additional books. I need the support. I have a few in that first draft state. So I pray for the support of the traditional publishing world. An insightful agent who could guide me a bit on where to focus my energies. Maybe an editor who could see the horizon when a book is filled with branching ways. Until then, and after if I hit the writer lottery, I will keep writing, and pushing and moving the books I’ve written. It’s the only avenue where I feel free to be excellent in my own way.

What is the setting and Period of story?

This is a contemporary story, set in a town called “Chilton”, and in a fantastic cloud realm.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Although I played with many titles, I’d been calling the book OLGA for months. For me, the story is very much defined by Olga’s struggle to understand her secret heart (something that the other giants would like to take away if they knew about). I had pages of possible titles, and my nephew, who is a musician, said to me that sometimes things pick their own names. Later, my father suggested that I give it a subtitle. A subtitle would make it more marketable and make the genre more immediate and apparent. However, the train had left the station. No subtitle, just OLGA. As an indie, I still get to be a bit odd.

Who designed your book cover?

My book is an illustrated novel. The cover was designed by the same incredible artist who did the interior illustrations, Dillon Samuelson.


Author Website

A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Ted Kelsey who is the author of, OLGA, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, OLGA, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.




Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J.D. Faulkner

JD Faulkner

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J.D. Faulkner to talk with me today about her book, Mirrored Time. J.D. lives in Seattle, Washington. She spends her time reading anything she can get her hands on; studying Greek and Roman mythology; and avoiding the rain whenever she can. MIRRORED TIME is her first novel and book one of the Time Archivist Novels.

Hello, J.D.! Thank you for chatting with me today. Tell me, how did you discover indieBRAG?

As a self-published author, I spend a honey-bunches-of-crazy amount of time researching ways to promote my book. I discovered indieBRAG on one of my searches and thought: “Hey, what could it hurt?” I’m really honored to have been chosen to receive an indieBRAG medallion.

Please tell me about your book, Mirrored Time.

I stumbled upon the idea for Mirrored Time almost by accident. I was just finishing law school and was trying to think of what I wanted to do after graduation. So, I was imagining my dream job and I thought “Doesn’t everyone really just want to find out that they are special in some way?” And then Gwen walked into the Time Archives.

Mirrored Time is a story about a girl who is just trying to find a job but, instead, finds out that she is part of a time travelling order. There are dangerous secrets, an imprisoned god, an ex-gladiator thief— you know, normal things. I really wanted to tell a story that I’d enjoy reading. But at the heart of it, it is also a story about trust, and family- the one you are born with, and the one you chose.

Mirrored Time

What are some of the challenges in writing Time Travel?

I wish I could say that I haven’t tossed and turned in my bed in the small hours of the night, figuring out the theory of time travel. But that would be a lie. More than once, I wrote myself into a corner. In order not to end up with a gaping plot hole, I had to perform some pretty impressive mental gymnastics. There are rules to the world of time travel that I have created, but then there is also a god involved. And he doesn’t necessarily play by the rules. So it gets complicated.

What are some of the periods the story jumps around in? Which one is your favorite?

With my college major focusing on Greek and Roman history, those are my favorite time periods. The majority of Mirrored Time is set in some modern universe (I purposefully kept it vague so people could fill in the blanks as they wanted). But not everyone is what they seem at first glance, and certainly not everyone is from this modern age. The next installment takes place a large part in Ancient Egypt, and I can’t wait to play in that world.

Tell me a little about Gwen Conway. What are her strengths and weaknesses?

Honestly, I struggled a little bit with Gwen. Out of all the characters, she’s the one into which I poured the most of myself. She isn’t fully me, but she is a piece of me. I think most authors would admit their characters come from a part of themselves. Gwen is meant to be somewhat difficult: She doesn’t trust easily, which is a weakness that both gets her in trouble, and one that is exploited. But I also tried to make her very loyal. It might take her awhile to open up to people but, when she does, she is fiercely protective of those she cares about.

I think your premise is extraordinary and very unique. The idea of an ancient force being imprisoned behind a mirror-made-prison is fantastic! What was your inspiration for that?

Mirrors intrigue me. Ever stare into a mirror that has the reflection of another mirror inside— and the two reflect off each other in an infinite repeating pattern? I’ve always been fascinated by that. The imaginative part of my brain always wondered what would happen if I stared into the pattern for too long. Or when you catch a mirror in the corner of your eye? Ever expect to see something there that shouldn’t be?

So, to me, the mirrors naturally became a portal through time. It’s what a lot of my characters use to time travel. It also felt right to be the prison for my half-mad god. If a mirror could take you anywhere in time, how awful would it be if it could also imprison you in one single space?

What are your favorite Greek and Roman legends? What is an example on how they play a part in your story?

I do like playing with Greek/Roman themes of the myths; fitting little hints/nods to my favorite myths in my writing is always fun. Maybe I’m the only one who notices, but I enjoy it!

Mirrored Time was part homage to the myth of Pandora’s Box. There is this struggle to prevent a dangerous force from being released upon the world, but it still focuses on the idea that there is always hope.

In the current book I’m working on, Fractured Time, I’m playing with a few different myths. But I’m especially exploring the story of Persephone and Hades (maybe a more PC friendly one). In the myths where Hades is cast in a more positive light, a kind of romance can be found. I’ve wanted to write my own version of it. I like that conflicting love between a creature of dark and one of light. I think it makes a love story more interesting and more tragic.

Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?

I am lucky to be part of an amazing writing group called the WorldWiseWriters. Most of us like to refer to ourselves as seat-of-the-pants-ers. Although I usually plan to stick to an outline and write during certain hours, by a certain spot, that gets thrown out the window. When the motivation hits, I have to write. Sometimes I’m lucky and I’m at my desk (usually with my two cats avidly watching me). Most of the time it’s in less convenient locations— anyone else get the writing bug in the middle of the night?

Please tell me what WorldWiseWriters is all about.

The WorldWiseWriters started as a group of mostly unpublished writers who all entered the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. We’ve never met in person as we all live in different places (Washington, Idaho, Vancouver BC, Georgia, and England), but we all connected and quickly grew to depend on each other. I would recommend every independent writer out there to find a support group. It helps so much to have a constant source of encouragement. I know that my journey as a writer would have ended long ago without these amazing women. If you want to learn more about us, we have a website:

Who designed your book cover?

The amazing Rebecca Sterling designed both my first cover and the new cover, which I absolutely adore. She is very talented, very reasonably priced, and so patient to work with. She was able to perfectly capture my vision for a book cover and I can’t sing her praises enough.

How fantastic! Does she have a website you can share with us?

I would love to! I’m always willing to brag about my spectacular designer; I’m so honored to have worked with her. You can find her site here

What are you working on next?

Currently I am working on what will probably be a novella in my series, the Time Archivist Novels. One of the character’s backstories has kind of morphed into a complex knot that is becoming a bit difficult to unravel. I think writing it out in its own story will give it the room to shine that it needs.

Do you stick with just one genre?

I don’t really consider genre when I’m writing. Ultimately I just write the story that I feel needs to be told. Struggling to fit the story into the appropriate genre box comes later. It could be because I love reading books of all genres: There are so many great ideas out there, how do you limit yourself to just one?

Author Websites:


World Wise Writers

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview J.D. Faulkner who is the author of, Mirrored Time our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Mirrored Time, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.