Exploration of Journal Making

A page in my new fall journal I’m currently working in. I’ll show the whole journal once it’s completed. I really enjoyed putting this page together and the bookmark I made for the book. The bookmark is made from an image out of a magazine, scrapbook paper and a piece of left-over fabric.

The journal page is simple with a touch of paper collage, postcard and a authentic 1940s photo of a group of ladies. I’ll add a journal label to the bottom left of the page. The actual page I’m working on is from my 12” x 12” scrap-booking paper stash from the early 2000s and what a great way to use those big sizes of paper! I wonder who those ladies are and what their story is or was.

Journaling fills one’s soul with gratitude and healing calmness. It’s an appreciation for the old and the newness of life’s journey.

Happy crafty Friday!

Stephanie Hopkins
Mixed Media Artist/Abstract Painter/Book Maker/Book Blogger

Morning Journal: Memories

This is the last page in this morning journal I’ll decorate. I wanted it to be extra special. A memory of what I created the most in my childhood. I was always coloring, painting, sketching, doodling landscapes, water and skies whether it be at home, church, school, camp or at friends’ houses. I never thought about it really, I just created them. Maybe it’s being in the constant frame of mind of nature and God’s glorious creation. This page is a dedication to those memories.

The flower stem is from one of my painted papers I love to create and every time I glance at it, the stem reminds me of a zucchini peal. Ha! The ephemera in the pocket to the right side of the spread is for journaling. I like to keep my journaling hidden for the most part.

I really enjoyed working in this journal I made and I cherish writing in the morning time. Every morning is a new day with endless of possibilities. It is also a fresh start. Why not make the most of it?

I made this journal from scraps of paper that I collage onto a bigger piece, from mail packaging, for the cover. The signature is a selection of scrap papers, including vintage papers. I would say that this journal comes very close to be considered a junk journal. It is definitely a mixed media journal of created and found objects.

Do you journal? What do you like most about it and how does it impact your life? These are questions to think about.

My wish is for you to be encouraged and inspired.

Stephanie Hopkins

Itty Bitty Journal

I acquired a mini journal from a fellow crafter and I absolutely adore working in it. It is so tiny and at first, I thought it might be a challenge to create it but I find it easier than I thought! It is such a great way to use up your little bits of paper, scrap fabrics, small images and what not.

I created a page inspired by my longing for extended travel. I added a postage stamp from Maryland with a sailing boat image on it at a port and with the word, “Nowhere”. You can find that page on my Instagram account. I think it would be cool to take a trip with nowhere in mind. Just to get on the road and go where the wind takes you. In this case, this trip would be at sea.

I love how my painted papers worked on this spread. I wasn’t sure, at first, if it would be too bulky. It turned out great and I like the blend of mixed media with the vintage image of the lady.

In the below picture, I used the painted face of a girl that my fellow crafter paints and includes in her ephemera packs. I dig the colors she uses because they are in line with my style. This page is dedicated to my passion of mixed media.

These little journals are perfect to travel with wherever you go. They fit perfectly in purses, backpacks, bags and even wallets! Just add few ephemera pieces to a pocket and take a small glue stick or mini paperclips and there you go!

My wish for you is to be inspired and encouraged!

Stephanie Hopkins

Insightful Quotes About Characters

“Writing is a time-honored moment. When the writer breathes life into the characters and gives them a place in the reader’s heart. Characters capture us in their embrace and we take refuge in their lives in a world of uncertainties.” My perspective as a reader.

My niche expands in several areas that influences my overall creativity. They consist of creating art, crafting, sewing, reading, exploring nature, blogging and journaling. Discovering quotes about these endeavors inspire and encourage one to rally on when one is feeling less than inspired for whatever reason. I like writing them and include them in my journals and often times, use quotes from other artists. Besides, they are fun to read, to inspire and you learn so much! Above is one I wrote years ago about the writer breathing life into characters.

Today, I’m sharing quotes from other artists about characters in stories. There are so many and I’ve compiled my top ten favorites. Which one do you favor? – Stephanie Hopkins

“You mean Piglet. The little fellow with the excited ears. That’s Piglet.” ― A.A. Milne, Christopher Robin Gives Pooh a Party

“I think all writers are always collecting characters as we go along. Not just characters of course, we’re collecting EVERYTHING. Bits and pieces of story. An interesting dynamic between people. A theme. A great character back story. A cool occupation. The look of someone’s eyes. A burning ambition. Hundreds of thousands of bits of flotsam and jetsam that we stick in the back of our minds like the shelves full of buttons and ribbons and fabrics and threads and beads in a costumer’s shop.” — Alexandra Sokoloff

“Whether a character is good or evil depends on your perspective.” ― Steve Jones Snr

“You cannot have an effective protagonist who simply responds to events happening around him or her. Your protagonist must act, not just react.” — Rachelle Gardner

“She had a way about her that spoke of homemade bread, and caring for people, and the kind of patience that women have when they help a ewe birth a lamb, or stay up in the night with a baby calf bawling for its momma.” ― James Aura, When Saigon Surrendered: A Kentucky Mystery

“Even if you find the bad guy generally repulsive, you need to be able to put yourself so thoroughly into his shoes while you’re writing him that, just for those moments, you almost believe his slant yourself.” — K.M. Weiland

“Usually, we combine internal and external conflicts for a richer story. That means we have to understand how our characters approach and resolve conflict.” — Jami Gold

“Developing a character with genuine depth requires a focus on not just desire but how the character deals with frustration of her desires, as well as her vulnerabilities, her secrets, and especially her contradictions. This development needs to be forged in scenes, the better to employ your intuition rather than your intellect.” — David Corbett

“How can you take characters out of their elements and still convey who they are and why they are the way they are? Their dialogue, their goals and their motivations move the plot and give us a glimpse. But how can we punch it up and create memorable characters without their usual surroundings? With the things they carry.”— Jessica Topper

“People—and characters—are made up of their past experiences. When crafting a character, one of the most important aspects we consider is her past.”—Skye Fairwin,

Be sure to check out my post: Insightful Quotes About Reading

September: Book Round-Up

This month has been tough to get reading time in and I listened to more books rather than reading physical ones. I didn’t use to be able to listen to audio stories at all and it is something I’ve been training myself to do more of. Overall, I enjoyed what I read with a few minor hiccups.

I read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane years ago and it is one of my favorites. I decided to revisit the story again but this time, to listen to it. I must say, my experience with the story was better reading it than listening to it. Though, I wonder if maybe I’m examining the story differently. Has that ever happened to you? You know, as readers, we grow and our taste can change.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (The Physick Book #1) by Katherine Howe

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest–to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past then she could have ever imagined.

I listened to this book and it took me a while to get through it. I really enjoyed the story but I felt it dragged on in certain parts, which made me struggled to keep up at times. I will say that Mary’s character development was fantastic! I would still rate this book high.

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

Mary, the bookish ugly duckling of Pride and Prejudice’s five Bennet sisters, emerges from the shadows and transforms into a desired woman with choices of her own.

What if Mary Bennet’s life took a different path from that laid out for her in Pride and Prejudice? What if the frustrated intellectual of the Bennet family, the marginalized middle daughter, the plain girl who takes refuge in her books, eventually found the fulfillment enjoyed by her prettier, more confident sisters? This is the plot of The Other Bennet Sister, a debut novel with exactly the affection and authority to satisfy Austen fans.

Ultimately, Mary’s journey is like that taken by every Austen heroine. She learns that she can only expect joy when she has accepted who she really is. She must throw off the false expectations and wrong ideas that have combined to obscure her true nature and prevented her from what makes her happy. Only when she undergoes this evolution does she have a chance at finding fulfillment; only then does she have the clarity to recognize her partner when he presents himself—and only at that moment is she genuinely worthy of love.

Mary’s destiny diverges from that of her sisters. It does not involve broad acres or landed gentry. But it does include a man; and, as in all Austen novels, Mary must decide whether he is the truly the one for her. In The Other Bennet Sister, Mary is a fully rounded character—complex, conflicted, and often uncertain; but also vulnerable, supremely sympathetic, and ultimately the protagonist of an uncommonly satisfying debut novel.

I read this book for review and won’t post it until January.

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

When Kayla Carter’s husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. But when she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It’s clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area…and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla’s elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it’s clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key? Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families.

I read this book for review. It did take me a while to get through the story but glad I pushed on.

The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman

A woman has gone missing

But did she ever really exist?

Mia Eliot has travelled from London to LA for pilot season. This is her big chance to make it as an actor in Hollywood, and she is ready to do whatever it takes. At an audition she meets Emily, and what starts as a simple favour takes a dark turn when Emily goes missing and Mia is the last person to see her.

Then a woman turns up, claiming to be Emily, but she is nothing like Mia remembers. Why would someone pretend to be Emily? Starting to question her own sanity, she goes on a desperate and dangerous search for answers, knowing something is very, very wrong.

In an industry where everything is about creating illusions, how do you know what is real? And how much would you risk to find out?

Journal Life: Morning Journaling

“Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding.” – Jen Williamson

As many of you know, I keep journals and notebooks. I’m constantly taking notes and writing my thoughts or things I’ve learned or want to remember. There are many types of journals and I enjoy exploring new ways in creating them. I find the more you journal, the more ways you discover new techniques and ways to use them. I’d have to say that journaling is a very important part of my life and it has helped me develop new ways in expressing my thoughts and feelings better.

For the last eight weeks, I guess it was, I shared a morning journal on Instagram that I made out of small envelopes. Small index cards I used for journal cards, fit perfectly in the pockets. Each week I decorated a new page and each pocket represents a week’s worth of journaling. Despite it only had six pockets, I managed eight weeks because of the decorating… I use a ribbon to keep the journal closed when I’m not using it. I’m surprised how sturdy it is and the compactness of how the envelopes ended up with all the ephemera and journal cards I added. The envelopes are from the Dollar Tree. I believe there was forty to the pack and the brand is Mead.

My morning journals consist of my morning thoughts, encouraging words, prayers and things I want to get done for the day. I’m pleased with how this one turned out and will be using this style of journaling more often. Do you use a morning journal? How has it impacted your life?

There are a lot more images of the journal on my Instagram! Be sure to follow my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art Gallery here at Layered Pages!

My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged. 

Stephanie Hopkins

The Importance of World Building

A Better Understanding for Your Reading Experience

My Dear Fellow Readers,

I’m always pondering about what the writer’s intentions and thoughts are when creating a story. How the readers’ perceptions vary and if they’re what the author is conveying. As an avid reader and one who reviews books, there are themes and elements to the story that I feel make the story equally come to life. The core of a believable story is world building and realistic characterization, in my opinion. These ingredients combined help drive the plot, the character’s movements, motives, and pull the reader in.

I believe contrasts in world building are an important structure for stories to work. For example: The key setting or location, if you will, of the story and how it is described. The contrast would be another location shown in a different light all together. What distinguishes one place to another? Readers want to feel transported to time and place. Tone, mood, senses and atmospheric surroundings is key. Even down to the little details, such as a table, how it looks and how it’s positioned in a room. The juxtaposition of the furniture, if you will. Landscape is another element that needs contrast, which plays a role in how and where the characters feel the most vulnerable or the safest. Is it daylight, nighttime or is the weather cold, warm, dry or rainy? Does the writer include these details at all?

I remember this one book I read where a scene took place out to sea. The way the writer described the swaying ship sailing along the water surface with the waves crashing against the sides of the ship, the spray of water on their faces and the smell of the salty air. It was as if I was standing on the deck, experiencing the elements myself. What an experience!

On the other hand, I’ve read stories that took place in the 18th century and you would have a young family member of a great house sneak in the kitchen to speak to the cook or to grab what food they could muster, and you didn’t have a sense for the 18th century kitchen life.There is a vast difference between the 18th century kitchen and the 21st century kitchen. Modern readers need to experience that through writer’s historical stories. Imagine a 18th century great house with the a kitchen bustling with activity and observing the sounds and sights of people moving to and throw. The kitchen servants preparing food to be cooked by fire or coal. Kitchens in the 18th century were not a place of luxury and you didn’t have family members entertaining at the kitchen table. Those rooms were usually dark, hot and prone to catch on fire. These kitchens were situated as far as possible from the families social and private spaces. For instance, in the 19th century, many homes in America, particularly in the south, built their kitchens in a separate building out back because the danger of fires. Not only that but the servants day started before sun up and didn’t end until late in the night, then their day started again shorty after that. Pay attention to those details.

Social and cultural elements are equally important in regards to contrasts in world building. Readers must learn something from the character’s social standing, beliefs, traditions, life experience that is good or bad, their surroundings and manner of speech that is in contrast or similar to theirs. The list goes on…

Questions to think about when reading/reviewing a story: Were you transported to time and place? Can you picture the scene in your mind’s eye? Can you visualize the characters movements and imagine their senses as if they were your own? Did you make a connection? What have you learned from them and how did they impact you? If you can answer yes to all these questions and feel impacted positively by the story, then that is a sign of a great read. I admire authors who take their world building seriously.

There’re innumerable ways writers create their worlds. Many writers map out their world before beginning to write their story. I’m always curious about other writers’ methods and what works for them. Especially, with the social structure in certain walks of life that is not their own. I also believe there is a fine balance with world building. I’ve read books where the writer got bogged down by the characters’ surroundings, that the plot was lost in the world being created.

A short list of books I enjoyed with remarkable world building:

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

Dune by Frank Herbert

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My wish for newbie book reviewers is to be inspired by these observations, the list of books I provided and to have a better understanding how stories should work.

Regards,

Stephanie Hopkins

Journals are Treasures

I genuinely don’t know what I’d do without my journals. Do you journal or keep a notebook? Do you feel the same way? This leather-bound journal was gifted to me by my daughter in 2017 for my birthday. I mostly reserve the pages for special moments and an occasional art spread. I still have many pages left to fill and this past Saturday, I felt compelled to collage and used this journal for the task. The center piece on the left side is a secret pocket where I can tuck in a sheet of my writing.

I have even painted and added mixed media textures to a few of the pages. I don’t work in any particular order in most of my journals, except for my morning journal.

Journals are treasures to cherish. They’re the keepers of your innermost thoughts, memories to cherish, prayers, biblical studies, dreams, and trials you may face. They are your best friend, your confidant.

Be sure to follow out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art Gallery, here at Layered Pages!

My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.

Stephanie Hopkins

The Dust Needs to Settle

We had quite the storm this past Saturday evening of heavy rain, strong wind and lightning. On the back screened porch Sunday morning, everything was damp and the southern humidity didn’t help matters. At least the birds were in song and the coffee was strong. I was sitting on the back porch, not sure how long that was going to last, to write letters, organize to-do lists and to jot down thoughts about, The Four Winds by Kristen Hannah. In the picture, you see John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, you say. “Where’s, The Four Winds?” I bought this copy of The Grapes of Wrath back in 92′ and yes, it’s still in great condition. Gosh, saying that makes me feel old.

To answer your question, assuming you’re asking it, I’m re-visiting The Grapes of Wrath because The Four Winds is a good companion and the stories are still relevant today. They both give you a fountain of information to think about and I have so much to say about both of them. The Four Winds is resting on one of my bookshelves. I will be un-shelving the book soon to gather some marked passages and discuss both books with its contrasts and similarities.

This will be a rather ongoing project and perhaps will share in bits and pieces at Layered Pages. Each post will be linked, so you many keep up with this project, if you wish.

Stephanie Hopkins

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Published April 10th 2014 by Viking (first published April 14th 1939)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized—and sometimes outraged—millions of readers.

First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Published February 2nd 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

Cover Crush: Upstream (Selected Essays) by Mary Oliver

“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

About the Cover:

This cover reminds me of the walks I used to take in the mountains of North Georgia in the fall time. The scenery was breathtaking and very much like the one you see on the cover. The misty sky evokes tone and mood, while the water invites creek walking and pebble exploring. Or one can sit along the grassy edge of the creek, while soaking up the gentle sounds of water continuously flowing, the rustling sounds in the trees and listen to the song of birds.

About the Book:

How is it that I have not yet had the pleasure of reading this author’s work? Or maybe I have? Oh, my, this will not do. I must find a copy of Upstream as soon as possible.  

The cover and book description speak to my soul. Mary Oliver has captured my attention with her admiration for nature and love of poetry writing. -Stephanie Hopkins

Book Description:

Comprising a selection of essays, Upstream finds beloved poet Mary Oliver reflecting on her astonishment and admiration for the natural world and the craft of writing. 

As she contemplates the pleasure of artistic labor, finding solace and safety within the woods, and the joyful and rhythmic beating of wings, Oliver intimately shares with her readers her quiet discoveries, boundless curiosity, and exuberance for the grandeur of our world.

This radiant collection of her work, with some pieces published here for the first time, reaffirms Oliver as a passionate and prolific observer whose thoughtful meditations on spiders, writing a poem, blue fin tuna, and Ralph Waldo Emerson inspire us all to discover wonder and awe in life’s smallest corners.

About the Author:

“In a region that has produced most of the nation’s poet laureates, it is risky to single out one fragile 71-year-old bard of Provincetown. But Mary Oliver, who won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1983, is my choice for her joyous, accessible, intimate observations of the natural world. Her Wild Geese has become so popular it now graces posters in dorm rooms across the land. But don’t hold that against her. Read almost anything in New and Selected Poems. She teaches us the profound act of paying attention—a living wonder that makes it possible to appreciate all the others.”

Website

Mary Oliver’s profile picture and book cover are from goodreads. Be sure to check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.