Paper Crafting + Friends + Novel = Awesome

Susan headshoot Paper Crafting + Friends + Novel = Awesome

Susan R. Opel

It’s no secret I love to make cards. I mean, I’m pretty sure you get that.

But there’s something else I’m pretty passionate aboutreading. My trips to the Bookmobile as a child resulted in stacks of books from Judy Blume, L.M. Montgomery, Margaret Mitchell, Charlotte Bronte, and later biographies like Coal Miner’s Daughter (man, I loved that book!) and anything related to the Kennedy family.

I read up in a tree. I read to avoid having to do the dishes. I read deep into the night. And that passion gave way to the desire to be an English teacher. The writing? I could’ve skipped that part, but sharing my love for literature with my students was what I cherished.

Still today I treasure the time I have to read. Now I favor John Grisham, Tami Hoag, and Sue Grafton, and I’m always up for a good bit of historical fiction. I’ve even created a list of my essential must-reads here if you’re interested.

Along the way, I’ve picked up a few paper-crafting-themed novels. It excited me to see two of my favorite things merged into one. But I was let down by the frivolous and somewhat cheesy story lines. It seemed like the authors were just trying too hard.

Until now.

Let me introduce you to my friend Courtney Walsh. . . .

7043111417 77e859882c Paper Crafting + Friends + Novel = AwesomeCourtney is the author of A Sweethaven Summer. She is a very talented scrapbooker and has changed my mind that a paper-crafting-themed novel can actually be GOOD.

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Click the cover to order your copy now!

Quick synopsis a la Susan R. Opel: single mom Suzanne dies before she is able to reveal to her daughter Campbell who her father is. Campbell finds portions of a scrapbook that her mother made while summering in an idyllic lake town in Michigan (!) which leads her on a journey to find Suzanne’s childhood friends to see if she can uncover clues to who her father might be. Each one of the four friends known as The CircleSuzanne, Lila, Jane, and Meghanhave kept parts of the scrapbook revealing their time together in 1987 before Suzanne mysteriously left Sweethaven for good. Any more than that, and I’ll ruin it for you!

I have this habit of turning back the corner to pages that have an especially scintillating turn of phrase. I like to revisit those pages once I’ve finished the book and really think about how proud the author had to have been after writing THAT sentence! Here are two of my favorites from A Sweethaven Summer:

“She pretended she didn’t miss his touch as soon as they disconnected.” (pg. 192)

“The lie smacked at her like a child throwing a tantrum.” (pg. 252)

You see? That’s some good stuff right there!

I really loved this sweet story. Filled with intrigue and excellent character development, I looked forward to every new chapter, and when I came to the very end, all of the loose ends that needed to be tied up were all there, to my delight!

Since I love reading AND card making, I thought I’d make a Sweethaven-inspired card.

7043111413 75898de22e Paper Crafting + Friends + Novel = Awesome

Sweethaven Miss You Card by Susan R. Opel

Obviously I drew inspiration from the color palette of the cover, but the sparkly embellishment and tulle were meant to mimic the lakeshore, and the sentiment poignantly fits the theme of the story about childhood friends.

I asked Courtney if she’d be willing to share her novel with one of our readers, and I’m happy to say that she agreed! And not only is she willing to part with one copy, she’s giving away three. One GRAND PRIZE WINNER will receive A Sweethaven Summer as well as Courtney’s first book Scrapbooking Your Faith, and a box full of creative supplies (see the photo below)!

7043111419 a9895563fa Paper Crafting + Friends + Novel = Awesome

Just a little teaser of what you could win!

Leave a comment telling us about your favorite childhood friend. Your comment will register you for the chance to win a copy of A Sweethaven Summer and maybe just maybe be our Sweethaven Grand Prize Winner! All comments must be received by Thursday, April 12th at 5 pm MST.

Susan thumbnail Paper Crafting + Friends + Novel = Awesome


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259 Responses to Paper Crafting + Friends + Novel = Awesome

  1. Anita Y. says:

    My favorite childhood friend is Pattie. We met when we were 2 years old, started kindergarten together and continued all the way to high school graduation. She was also my maid of honor 30 years ago :) Even though we live 3 states away from each other, we still keep in touch and try to get together each time I go “home”. Thanks for the chance to win!

  2. Sav O'G says:

    OHH!!! I just love your synopsis!!! I might have to get this book and check it out–I’m sad to say that I am not a fan of reading (I think it’s because I learned how to read when I was in 6th grade….eh.). Either way–putting this on my list of books to read for 2012!

    THANKS for sharing! OH! And my fav childhood friend….hm…..I lived in the country and our closest neighbor would have been 3-5 miles away, which means hardly any friends to play with. I did occasionally ride my bike to that neighbor’s house to play with Regina:) And I did play with my brothers (but that always ended up in a fight!)!!

  3. Charlene M. says:

    My favorite childhood friend was a little girl named Maureen. She lived right across the street from me. Though I was a couple of years older than she was, we had lots of fun together. After my mother and I moved away (my parents divorced), I don’t really remember having any other childhood friends until I was in 8th grade. I met a gal in my class at the Christian school I attended and we just had loads of fun together. Sweet memories!

  4. Emily H says:

    Wow! This is so neat! I would say my favorite childhood friend is my twin sister. We didn’t always get along, but we were always there for each other. We are very different, but somehow we understood each other.

  5. Sandy Bayles says:

    My favorite childhood friend’s name was Pat. She and I were like glued at the hips. She would stay all night with me and I would stay all night with her. We loved to play outside and went to grade school together. She moved away after about 1-year and I did not see her for a very long time. I tracked her down last year after a long, long, time. Looking forward to new friendship of an old friend…………………Great memeories!

  6. Elena says:

    I had a great friend in my childhood, always like to have the opportunity to remember her, the long walks on the cow pasture picking wild flowers, climbing the fig trees and eating them until out tounge hurt! making mud pies (one year I tried one and got very ill!) we would also fill the plastic swimpool out in the backyard and played with our barbies in the water until our little fingers looked like raisin! sadly I can not even remember her name, she lives in the houses on the other side of my granfathers ranch.

  7. Alicia Cross says:

    I had a friend, a great friend, from 5th grade, all through high school. We’ve grown apart, but there are plenty of fond memories!

  8. One of my favorite childhood friends was Sandra she lived next door, we were young and had many good times playing house and having tea parties……of course this was over 60 years ago and I do remember in the summer playing in the washtub (our swimming pool) and it was soooo much fun….

  9. Eileen says:

    My favorite childhood friend was Desiree, my neighbor. We grew apart when I moved, but have since reconnected on Facebook. We played house and a lot of sports.

  10. Sue D says:

    My favorite childhood friend was Maureen–she lived right down the street and we did everything together.

  11. Dawn McCarty says:

    My childhood friend is Beth. Have not seen her in many years.

  12. Kelly Sas says:

    Can’t wait to read this book! My childhood friend came to live in the country with her dad and stepmom after her mother died from cancer. We did everything together because her parents and my parents were also best friends. Unfortunately we endd up going to different highschools and both became too busy to keep our friendship going.

  13. Sheri E. says:

    My neighborhood friend was Steve. His parents still live down the street from my parents and our families are still very close.

  14. Peggy B says:

    Such a wonderful review of a wonderful book – and a great card to match! After reading your blog I’m remembering the fun times I had with my best friend Judy in elementary school. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Maureen Chandler says:

    As soon as I learned to read in first grade, I thought I had learned all there was and could leave school! What else was there??? I remember having that conversation with my mother – and my dad was a teacher! I would say one of my best memories of reading were the Nancy Drew series – I loved them! It started a life-long love of mysteries! My very best friend in the world and I met the first day of high school and have remained close all these years and share books each time we see each other! We’ll be going to our 60th reunion this summer! Thanks so much for the chance to win!

  16. Mel H says:

    Mine is my dear friend Amber. How wierd is this. After high school we lost touch, but we both married men from Des Moines. Got our degrees in the same field, got master’s degrees in the same study area (though both at different schools) and now hold PR jobs. But, we didn’t know all of that until we reconnected almost 15 years later!

  17. Emily Keaton says:

    Sounds like a great read! My fave childhood friends were the kids in our neighborhood who would ride bikes and play together in our backyards, building tents from clothesline, baby blankets, and clothespins.

  18. Jill T. says:

    My bestie growing up was Lora… we were introduced in Kindergarten and told that we lived about a block from each other so we could walk to school together with our older sibling… we did just that and became great friends.

  19. Shari says:

    Sounds like a book I’d love to read!
    Shona was my childhood friend. She was the first place I drove to when I got my license…and he papa corrected me on starting the car with the lights ON. =oD
    ~Shari R.

  20. katie norling says:

    This book looks great and I love the card you made! My sister is two years older than I am and when we were younger our best friends were sisters that were our same ages! It was such a blast to go places with the four of us; My sister and I are close because of it!

  21. Jenny Kozar says:

    I love love love to read! And thank you for the recommendation. My favorite childhood friend has to be my sister. We are just 11 months apart in age and she was always my defender and protector! I just love her.

  22. Wendy Stamey says:

    My best childhood friend (Tracie) and I used to spend every weekend together. Either she would be at my house or I would be at hers. We would ride bikes, rample through the woods, rent scary movies and eat mostly junk food! I really miss those days but I’m glad we still get together for lunch every once in a while! (We work in the same city!)

  23. Mrs. Hill says:

    I love crafting and I LOVE reading. So nice to know I’m not the only one out there!

    My favorite childhood friend is my younger brother, Mickey. We’re exactly 2 years apart (“almost twins” we used to say) and although we didn’t always see eye to eye as children we were always united against the cruel world(!). :-D Since we moved so much as children, we were always there for each other, made up games, fought, supported each other… Siblings are our best link to our past, right?

  24. The book sounds interesting, love the card and the sparkle you brought to it!
    I am still friends with my childhood friend we grew up living next door to each other. Now we live hundreds of miles away from each other, but still keep connected, email and facebook make that easier to do :)

  25. sue says:

    My childhood friends were my sister, Linda, and our neighbor and friend, Mary. We lived in a rural area so we played in the nearby creek, rode our bikes many miles every day, read books in our apple tree, played softball together and spent many hours just dreaming, talking and laughing. Thanks for the reminder to stop and take time to remember. (And please pick me for this great looking basket of goodies!)

  26. Sue Campbell says:

    We became friends when she moved to our town and I was the one asked to show her around the school and introduce her to the teachers but what cemented our friendship rather than destroy it was when I told her that her boyfriend was cheating on her. We’ve been friends even though she lives in Kansas and I live in Rhode Island for over 40 years.

  27. Darla says:

    Oh I need to add this book to my summer reading list. :)

    My childhood friend and I did everything together until she moved away when we were about 11. We played barbies, rode bikes around town, swimming, camping, singing, church, created our own foreign language, you name it, we did it TOGETHER! We stayed in contact for many years and just recently reconnected on Facebook. I can’t wait until we get the chance to see each other in person again soon.

  28. Noreen says:

    Thanks for the fun book review – now I have to discover how it turned out! Barby was my childhood friend. I moved away during 8th grade and only saw her once after that. We had some fun times.

  29. Angie Hall says:

    Great book review. I’m interested for sure.I’d be tickled if I were chosen for this prize.Thanks for this opportunity.

  30. PeggyS says:

    Wow, the book sound very interesting. I would love to read it. My best friend growing up was from Korea. When she moved to the states, she didn’t know any English so I helped teach her what I could. She was very smart and I still keep in touch with her today. Thank you for the chance to win.
    God bless,
    Peggy Allen

  31. Carol B says:

    Wow, what a prize! My childhood friend was Lori and we had such fun together, wish I could relive some of those times!

    Carol B

  32. Gill says:

    This novel sounds just my cup of tea!
    My favourite childhood friend was Jill – we met at primary school, both only children, & did a lot together. Her parents were like a second set of parents for me. They moved away for a few years, but then returned to a place about 40 minutes drive away – but we cycled to each other’s houses & then spent the weekend with each other. We ended up going to the same university studying maths, & we are still good friends today.

  33. Barb Murphy says:

    my childhood friend was Monia. a sweet little girl who grew up to become a beautiful woman…and who I still consider to be the sister I never had! thanks for the chance to win. i would love to read ‘scrapping your faith’…a great idea!

  34. Troy Louise says:

    Sounds like a fun read. My favorite childhood friend was Carolyn. I was fascinated by the fact that her German Grandmother lived with them. I thought that was so neat to have a grandma to come home to every day after school. Thanks for the reading tip.

  35. HawaiianLibrarian says:

    One of my childhood friends lived across the street. We would sign to each other from our front porches to see who was going to ask our mothers if we could play together, unaware that our mothers were watching us from the doorways. We are still friends, through college, marriages, children and deaths of our parents.

  36. Gwen says:

    OH my goodness, it takes all of 1/2 a second to identify my childhood/lifelong friend, Aletha! We still get together a couple times a year to celebrate our birthdays. Born 9 months apart, our parents were friends who went to the same church. We went to school together all the way through 11th grade. This book sounds like a great read, TFS!!

  37. Mary-Anne V. says:

    My childhood friend was Raphaela… I lost touch with her but still remember some great fun times. I would love to own a copy of the book so thank you so much.

  38. What a great post! I’ve seen some buzz about this book and I’ve been interested in giving it a read! My best friend growing up was Jennifer Ford. She has asthma really bad and before we could go out and play we’d have to sit at her dining room table while she took her meds. I can still hear the clock ticking on the wall while we waited the right amount of time in between puffs on her inhaler. Then it was out the door to a new adventure. My most memorable one was the time we were building a tree house out in the back of the orchard and she picked some bushes to hang on the front windows and said “aren’t these a pretty color?” And I said “No! That’s poison oak! We bot got it so bad our eyes closed shut, it was the worst ever. What silly girls we were…

  39. What a wonderful prize package! Thanks so much for the chance to win! I have had my eye on this book for a while now! My best friend growing up was Sheri! She and I were inseparable and I even broke off my date for Homecoming so she and I could pal around together! One of the craziest things I remember us doing…we were driving to Memphis to a concert. We needed to change clothes but didn’t want to waste a minute when we got there so one of us changed clothes and we swapped drivers…while the car was moving…to allow the other one to change. Looking back….that was such a bad idea! LOLOL

  40. Tara Capewell says:

    One of my best child hood friends was Melissa Harris, we did everything together till we were 18 then we went our separate ways and i never saw her again…….i moved to the UK from australia and i had no idea what happened to her. my mum sometimes saw her mum in passing but that was it. then 15 years later after i returned to australia with my family etc, i was going one day to my daughter school to pick her up and you would not believe it! there she was! melissa had not changed. she was married and had 2 kids which one was just starting school and when i saw her it was like we were kids again and that we had never parted! i see her most weeks now and speak to her most days on FB or TXT! it is amazing how a friendship will always be there even though i am now 37 and i had not seen her since i was 18!

  41. Becky Goodwin says:

    The book sounds great from your teases and review!! Would love to win it!
    My childhood friend was Sally. We grew up in the 50′s-60′s in a small rural village in Minnesota. Something we still laugh about doing when we were 15 or 16, was getting our feet stuck in the mud in the field across from our houses in the spring!! We don’t live too far away yet (50 miles) and get together for fun times making cards and new adventures!!

  42. cindy barriga says:

    My favorite childhood friend was Shelly. We met when I moved to North Carolina and needed someone just like her. We went everywhere and did everything together. We were like two sisters giggling and enjoying life. I believe I would have been lost in this very unfamiliar coast if she had not come into life. :D

  43. Kathy Stutzman says:

    What a surprise! I am reading this book right now! My best friend was Janet Clark who provided companionship when I had none. I was the oldest of five with the job of watching them while my single-parent mother worked as many hours as possible to support us. This situation kept me isolated. The friendship was forged from both of us coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and filled a hole of loneliness. She made me feel like I counted when I felt worthless and rejected. I still recall the walks of several miles to high school and back in all kinds of weather.

    From what I have read so far, I would love to visit this quaint place. I love going to places that still have their historic look and hometown feel. Cottages and a lighthouse, oh my! “Perched inside her car, she held her camera to her eye and snapped a string of photos. Everything in Sweetwater seemed worth documenting. She’d been in town two minutes and already this place had bewitched her with its beauty-its ability to transport her back in time.”

  44. Isha says:

    Love reading the synopsis in your words Susan. Seems like a beautiful story. I love reading too. My childhood friend is my friend Charu. We use to play, fight together but would always share everything too. All the memories are precious treasures. Thanks for the awesome giveaway.

  45. photochic says:

    I have always had this friend (that also happens to be my second cousin), MarLeah, who I have always adored! :) We even have old home videos of me opening gifts at Christmas and saying “MarLeah has one of these!”

  46. ALOC says:

    My favorite childhood friend was Marialuisa. Her family moved to Switzerland when we were in high school… the separation was difficult since we only had snail mail back then. Eventually we lost track of one another. However, I am happy to report that I managed to find my friend in 2011 when my husband and went to Italy. The reunion was wonderful and we’ve stayed in touch since. I hope to see Marialuisa this summer. I just LOVE happy endings!

  47. Brenda Lee says:

    Sounds like a “must read”!! Would love to win it. Because I was an Army brat, it was hard to keep friends for a long time….so much moving around. One of my best friends growing up though was Sharon. The funniest and fondest memory I have is during recess, we would chase a boy that we BOTH had a crush on. Whoever caught him…got to kiss him. LOL!!! I’m sure he would have preferred playing with his buddies, than to avoid getting caught by us. :)

  48. Janet KLN says:

    My childhood friend and I shared so much together. My sister was so much older than me that we had nothing in common (she was out of the house and gone when I was 4 years old). Carlene and I shared so much together – hopes, dreams, secrets, especially secrets! I haven’t seen her in quite a few years, but I will never ever forget our wonderful times spent together.

  49. Goat Girl says:

    My favorite childhood friend was Kathy Horn. She moved to Southern California from Brooklyn and was so different from anyone I knew! She was a good friend.

  50. Maxine D says:

    Oh this sounds an amazing read – I think my best friend as a child was a book – any book and I would read up to 8-10 a week!!!
    I was fairly isolated from other girls in my childhood because of where we lived. I had two brothers and their friends as company most of the time – however I did have a girlfriend Jennifer – unfortunately she left town when I was about 10 and we lost contact after several years. :-( .

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