Scrapbooking including Party Advice with Mollie Cox Bryan

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As the author of scrapbooking-themed mysteries, I’ve been asked this question a lot over the past several years: Why scrapbooking? Of course, I’ve given it some thought and here are my top ten reasons.

Community. I’ve been around different craft communities in the past. I don’t know if any other crafters get together as frequently as scrappers do. But it seems integral to the craft to get together and share. What better reason to bring a group of individuals together on a regular basis on the page.

A lens. Scrapbooking provides an intimate lens into my character’s lives. We see the importance of their family, their achievements, and the other facets of their lives, like cooking and baking. In my first book Scrapbook of Secrets, my croppers make scrapbooks for children belonging to a woman who has mysteriously died. They piece together more than photos and pretty paper. They piece together a life full of depth and secrets.

Puzzles equal mystery. Have you ever thought about the puzzle aspect to scrapbooking? Looking for the right picture, embellishment, paper, and so on and putting it all together is one aspect of it. But in my second book, Scrapped, we puzzle out another character’s personality by looking through her mysterious scrapbook of shadows. To me, more than any other craft (except maybe quilting) scrapbooking lends itself to mysteries.

Remembering the past. In Death of an Irish Diva, one of my characters discovers an old scrapbook that relates to an event happening around her. The past leaves footprints everywhere, including scrapbooking. I wanted to explore that through scrapbooking in fiction.

Imagining the future. I think this is as important as the past. Scrapbooking lends itself to dreaming about what the future holds. With each picture we place on our pages, there is a hope for the future–or else why do we do it? I, for one, like to imagine my kids flipping through pages I’ve created in the near and distant future.

Relatable. Some writers write for artistic reasons alone. Others for commercial reason. I like to think my books straddle those lines. Characters have to be relatable in some way. There are other ways readers relate to my characters, of course. But so many of us know someone who is a scrapbooker—or we are one ourselves.

All crafts move through time. Some are little changed by it. Others, like scrapbooking, sometimes follow trends and technology. Learning about digital scrapbooking myself, you see my characters grappling with (or loving) some of those changes. As a writer this is a great tool to show more about my characters and to show that scrapbooking is an evolving art form.

I love the way croppers come together and bring food to events. Writing about crops gives me a chance to explore food that’s appropriate for my characters and settings. You don’t always have food at crops, and we all know that when you do it pays to be extra careful. Once again, the kind of food my croppers eat and their reaction to it is one of the elements in storybuilding.

Scrapbooking is visual story. What better way to add layers of meaning to fiction?

Passion. I love scrapbooking. Writing for a living is not easy. Writing about something you feel a passion for makes it a whole lot more fun.

I always have a laugh when people ask me if I scrapbook. Of course I do. In fact, Kensington is giving away a “scrap-journal” that I made here:




Scrapbookers call their gathering “crops.” Basically, two kinds of crops exist. An “official” crop is when a scrapbook seller is involved. The participants sample and purchase products, along with participating in contests and giveaways. The second kind of crop is an informal gathering of friends on at least a semi-regular basis to share, scrapbook, eat, and gossip, just like the Cumberland Creek croppers.

In both cases, food and drinks are usually served. Finger food is most appropriate. The usual drinks are nonalcoholic, but sometimes wine is served. But there should be plenty of space for snacking around the scrapbooking area. If something spills, you don’t want your cherished photos to get ruined.

If you have an official crop, it’s imperative that your scrapbook seller doesn’t come on too strong. Scrapbook materials sell themselves. Scrapbookers know what they want and need.

Be prepared to share. If you have a die-cut machine, for example, bring it along, show others how to use it, and so on. Crops are about generosity of the spirit. It can be about something as small as paper that you purchased and decided not to use. Someone will find a use for it.

Make sure there’s a lot of surface space, such as long tables where scrapbookers can spread out. (Some even use the floor.)

Be open to both giving scrapbooking advice and receiving it. You can always ignore advice if it’s bad.

Get organized before you crop. You don’t need fancy boxes and organizing systems. Place the photos you want to crop with in an envelope, and you are ready to go.

Go with realistic expectations. You probably won’t get a whole scrapbook done during the crop. Focus on several pages.

Always ask about what you can bring, such as food, drinks, cups, plates, and so on.

If you’re the host, have plenty of garbage bags around. Ideally, have one small bag for each person. That way scrapbookers can throw away unusable scraps as they go along, which makes cleanup much easier.

If you’re the host, make certain there is plenty of good lighting, as well as an adequate number of electricity outlets.



Halloween means spooky scrapbooks for the Cumberland Creek Scrapbook Crop, but what’s been happening around town is truly frightening. First a dead woman is found in the freezer at Pamela’s Pie Palace, and the next day a second woman is found murdered by the river. Reporter Annie Chamovitz learns the victims were sisters and is certain their deaths are linked. Most bizarre of all, both women were found clutching scrapbook pages.

As their Saturday night crop quickly becomes an opportunity to puzzle out the murders, the ladies begin to wonder if Pamela is hiding more than her secret recipes for delicious pies–or if the crimes are related to the startling discovery that there are gangs in Cumberland Creek. As All Hallows Eve approaches, the crafty croppers must cut and paste the clues to unmask a deadly killer.

Includes tips and a glossary of terms for the modern scrapbooker!

Praise for the Cumberland Creek Mysteries:

“Scrapbookers and hobby cozy fans will enjoy this delightful holiday escape.” —Library Journal on A Crafty Christmas

“A satisfying and surprising read.” –Sheila Connolly, New York Times bestselling author on Scrapped

“Though-provoking and well paced. . .A great story, well told!” –Juliet Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author on Scrapped

“A font of ingenuity. . .superb entertainment.” –Mystery Scene magazine on Scrapbook of Secrets