Friday, December 21, 2012

Top five favorites of the year!

My favorite things/events of the year!

Favorite song: "Heartbeat" The Fray. I wish I had a playcount of how many times I've listened to this song, but after my computer crashed I had to re-install everything and lost all that info. I'm sure it's easily 100+ I love, love, love this song!

Favorite moment:  June 1st. When my book came out! Admittedly, not in the way I wanted and hoped for, but still, self-publishing was awesome!

Favorite picture: This was pretty much impossible to choose, but I'm going with this one for now. IMG_3271

Favorite book: This was about as hard as choosing a favorite picture. I liked most of the books I read this year, which was a lot, seventy-five to be exact. This was my first year with a Kindle, and I definitely made it count. One of my favorites this year was definitely The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. OH! And Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. And Insurgent, by Veronica Roth wasn't too shabby either. See, I told you I couldn't choose.

Favorite movie: The Dark Knight Rises. YESSS. Also, one of the two movies I saw in the theater this year. Yay me.

How about you?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Can't shake it...

I know this is "the topic" on the blogs today, with good reason. It seems that everyone is brokenhearted and saddened over the tragic events this past Friday.

I was a teenager when both the Columbine shootings and the 9/11 attacks took place, and though I remember being sad when they happened, they didn't quite affect me the way the Newtown  shootings have. Matthew and I have spent a lot of time talking about this and why. The first reason is simple: I'm a parent now. Not only that, my oldest is the same age as most of the children who were killed. The shootings happened just miles from where we currently live. It makes it all too easy to put myself in the shoes of those parents, though I'm trying hard not to.

No matter how hard I try, I just can't shake the awful feeling inside when I think of it all. Matthew and I emailed back and forth all day on Friday about the unfolding events. And it just got worse and worse. Never before in my life have I been so happy to be a homeschool mom. My six year-old, my second-grader, was sitting right beside me doing his schoolwork when this all happened. He remains wonderfully oblivious and I'm grateful that I don't have to try and explain what happened and why. Well, there is no why, is there?

I mentioned to Matthew when he got home that I was glad to be a Christian on a day like Friday. Not because it's easy to reconcile why these things happen (no one can), but because I'm a firm believer in Hell and eternal punishment for people who do things like this to innocent children.

And also because I believe in Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted."

So as I plan my Christmas holidays with my family, my thoughts and prayers are never going to be far from those who are without theirs this year. It's all I can do.

Friday, November 30, 2012


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Well, maybe it's less thinking and more self-examination. There were a few things I wanted to change about myself, not big things, I suppose, but things nonetheless.

In case you're wondering here's what I came up with. Spend less time piddling around on the internet, more quality time with my kids and husband. Because we're around each other all the time I tend to just assume we're spending the right amount of time together, but maybe we're not always.

Read less fiction and more non-fiction. By non-fiction I mostly mean books relating to, and helping to grow my faith more. And just picking up the Bible more.

Spend less time worrying, and more time praying. This his been a biggie for me. And it's taking me a few weeks to automatically go to prayer when something pops up in my life, but the difference has been tangible.

It just goes to show you, no matter how long you have been a Christian (for me the amount of time is indeterminable) you're never going to figure it all out. God always has more He wants to teach you.

This was the first verse I memorized when I was a kid in Awana: Hebrews 12:1-2 "Let us run with endurance the race that has been set before us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith."

So often the Christian life is referred to as a "walk" but it's much less of a walk and more like the longest marathon of your life. I ran a 5K once, it sucked, it was hard. Everyone knows for a race  you have to train, and this race that Hebrews talks about is no different. I guess that was my problem, I forgot I was racing. I forgot to run. I was just trudging along, dragging my feet, not fixing my eyes on Jesus at all. Somehow I got all caught up in a life that had less to do with Him and more to do with me.

The good news is that I've realized that, and like I said earlier, I'm working on fixing these things. The past few weeks have been hard on me, but I have had moments of compete joy and peace that I know can only come from Him, and that makes it all worth it. I by know means mean to get all preachy on here, but this is just what is on my mind today.

So for now I feel like I'm running, maybe tomorrow I will fall, but I'll get back up again. Because like all races, there is someone cheering me on at the finish line...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why being poor during the Christmas season rocks, part one...

*A series of mildly sarcastic, but genuinely heartfelt observations on why I don't mind my financial status during this time of year*

Part one: "The Best Things In Life Are Free"

No, seriously, they are!

Tuesdays are our get out of the house day around here. We have our weekly Mom's Group/Bible Study meetings at church on Tuesday mornings. Due to our one vehicle situation, this is always a little more challenging than it should be. First of all, it involves getting everyone dressed and out the door by nine. I know, I know, shouldn't be hard, but you forget, we don't do that on a daily basis like most families! Anyway, we make the 15-20 minute drive into New Haven and drop Matthew off at the main Yale campus downtown for his Latin and Arabic courses. The kids and I then hustle a few blocks over to our church, St. John's because I have to be there by 9:30 to unlock the doors for everyone. (See, I'm the official keeper of the keys). It was already a bit rainy and yucky around this time, but nothing too bad.

After Bible study we rush home for lunch, nap (for Sophia) and school (for Elijah). We don't have to pick Matthew up at the divinity school (he takes a bus there to work and for his final class of the day) until 5:30. The downside of his late dismissal from class is that the traffic on the highway we have to take to get there is INSANE! And the drivers in Connecticut are some of the most aggressive I've ever seen. I literally break out in hives and start praying when I get on the highway in bad traffic here! So we always leave more than a little early on Tuesdays.

To compound the situation, it's already dark by the time we have to leave, and yesterday it was snowing! Already I'm not wanting to even step foot outside the house, let alone brave the highway.

Okay, so I have a point here, just hang on.

So I bundled up the kids and got in the car. Popped in my favorite Bing Crosby Christmas CD, turned on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" at Elijah's request and off we went. Instead of taking the scary highway, we took the long route through downtown New Haven. It almost took us twice the usual amount of time (well, I don't really know how long it might have taken had we gotten stuck on the highway in bumper to bumper traffic) but it was so worth it. Between the snow falling and the music playing on the radio it was all pretty...magical? Well, maybe just a little.

So there, free. Except the few gallons of gas we used, that is.

Stay tuned for more...I think?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful, day sixteen...

So, admittedly, I haven't been very good at posting one of these every single day. But that's okay. I think it served it's purpose in re-focusing my thoughts this year. This will probably be my last "thankful" post, not because I'm running out of things to be thankful for, but because starting this afternoon, our family is on vacation, and I plan on spending every minute enjoying it!

Today I'm thankful for the most important person in my life, my best friend in the entire world, and my husband for these past seven years...
Taken on our second date, holy cow we were so young!
If you've heard the story, then you know Matthew and I met at church one night on my nineteenth birthday. It took him about three months for him to convince me to go out with him, even though we already spending tons of time together as "just friends". It took a single date to convince me I wanted to marry him. Seriously, that very same night I realized I was probably going to marry him, or at least that I should if I had any brains in my head! We got engaged some six months after our first date, and then we were married seven months after that. If you do the math, we got married just one year, four months and six days after we met. Some people might say we rushed into out, but we've never cared.
Our big day. I know, I look so serious (I was so nervous!) and he looks so happy!
Fast forward seven years and here were are. Our life together hasn't been easy, but faced each challenge together, and that's what matters most. So yeah, I'm thankful that I have such a wonderful husband. Also, he's a pretty awesome daddy, too!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful, day fifteen...

Today I'm thankful for this beautiful little girl...

Baby Sophia 222
Nine pounds of newborn goodness right there, mostly cheeks!
 We waited a long time for this girl. Compared to Elijah, who we had about ten months after our wedding date, our second born was a long time in coming. She was born exactly four years and eleven days after her big brother. And we couldn't have been more happy to have such a sweet addition to our family. She is 100% Mama's girl, and a girly girl. Though don't get me wrong, she has Daddy and big brother wrapped around her little finger!
It's so hard for me to remember her ever being this tiny!
At two and half now, she is hilarious. I mean, genuinely funny. She makes all of us laugh out loud all day long. 

This was from November last year, she's grown so much since then.
I don't really know what else to say about Sophia, but she's awesome. She's totally everything I ever wanted in a little girl. Okay, well we could probably take her "I'm the Princess" attitude down a notch or two...or three. But other than that, she's great!
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And yes, she's growing up entirely too fast.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thankful, day fourteen...

Today I'm thankful for advances in modern medicine  especially those related to cancer treatments.

 Earlier this year my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Everyone knows that's not one of the "bad" ones, but still, it was cancer. They were told there were only two forms of treatment, surgery or chemo. Chemo was a no-go for my dad since he's so young and it will likely just come back someday. And for him, surgery wasn't a good option. So after much thought and prayer, God led my parents to the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute. For eight weeks my dad received proton treatment with almost no side effects. I mean, he was running 5Ks on the weekend during cancer treatment! Already his PSA levels are way down, indicating the cancer is well on its way out.

If you want to learn more about this amazing new treatment, that literally changed our lives you can check out their website here.

And yeah, when I started this whole "Thankful" thing like many others Facebook, I thought it was a little lame and cheesy. However, I can definitely say it has helped me get my heart and mind in the right place for the holidays this year.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankful, day thirteen...

Today I'm thankful for my wonderful sister-in-law, Maartje. We have known each other for about eight years, or as long as I have been a part of the Hopper family. It wasn't until we moved up to Connecticut three years ago that we really began to connect. Since then we have started having weekly phone chats to catch up on our crazy lives. We have so much in common, we're almost exactly the same age (she is one month older than me, exactly!), we both got married young and a baby right away, we have crazy kiddos (her three boys!), and we're married to brothers! We have plenty of differences too, but that's what makes good friendships, I think. She is a little quieter than me, and certainly sweeter and kinder than me! (Everyone knows I'm a little loud and obnoxious at times.) We both love being mommies more than anything else and understand how hard it is to be a good mommy sometimes. Anyway, I'm super happy and lucky to call her my best friend AND sister!
I wish I had a more recent pic of the two of us (with our babies, Sophia and Luke) but we haven't seen each other since summer '11! Boo!

Also, one thing Maartje and I always agree on (as an aside for today's thankfulness) is how forutuate we were to meet our husbands, so we're both thankful for the way our in-laws, Jan and Colin Hopper, raised their boys! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful, day twelve...

Today I'm thankful for my super-crazy, wildly overactive imagination! I won't flatter myself enough to say I am an amazing writer. Maybe someday. But for now I will acknowledge the fact that I have an awesome imagination. I'm not sure how most people operate, but at one time I will probably have about half a dozen (or more!) story lines running around in my head. I first officially put pen to paper to write a story about fifteen years ago because I was so bored that I had nothing to read. I quickly discovered that writing was far more satisfying to me than reading. It's a control thing, I guess! Since then I have filled more notebooks than I can count. Today I just archived a full rubbermaid bin full of notebooks, since I don't believe in throwing that stuff out. Lately, I spend most of my time writing on my computer, because I just don't have the time to write long-hand, which is sad,  because I much prefer it.

Anyway, it's nice to know I'm never going to run out of ideas, because my imagination is never going to shut down on my. And maybe London Escape wasn't the ticket for me, but maybe something else in the future will be.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thankful, day eleven...

A continuation of yesterday's post. I'm thankful Elijah is such a good student. It makes homeschooling so much easier on me since he actually likes to learn (most of the time!)

As an aside...I'm also thankful for Sesame Street, which keeps my two and a half-year-old occupied for an entire hour while I teach some of the harder subjects I don't want her under foot for!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thankful, day ten...

Today I'm thankful for this little guy...


Elijah Daniel...You know, the one who made me a mommy six and a half years ago.


The kid with the huge smile and personality to match...

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The kid who is way too smart for his own good! (I'm his mommy and teacher, so I'm allowed to say that!)


There are about a million more glowing thing I could say about my big boy, but I don't want to go crazy. Suffice to say, I'm thankful for him, he's the best kid a mommy could ask for!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankful, days eight and nine...

Falling behind again. Though it's hard for me to find time on the weekends to blog, I have spent time each day pondering what I am thankful for, so it's certainly working, whether I find time to write it out or not.

Day eight... On Saturday I found myself feeling super thankful for lazy weekends spent with my family. Though we all know moms don't get days off, it's nice to have a shortened workday! Instead of teaching school and doing chores, I went grocery shopping with Sophia, took a long walk by the beach with Elijah, took a two hour nap (!!!) and watch lots and lots of college football with Matthew. All in all, it's a win-win situation.

Day nine...On Sunday I was more than thankful for the reminders of God's love and presense in my life. So often it's easy to be fearful and worried about what might come, but then He reminds that He holds my life in His hands and I shouldn't be afraid. So I'm thankful for that, and verses like Psalms 56: "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you."

I'll be back later for today's! It's a big one!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thankful, day whatever...

Yeah I lost count. Is it six? I dunno.

Today I'm thankful for my health. Why? Well, because Sophia has a cold, which means my current state of healthiness is going to last possibly 12-24 hours give or take.

I hate to complain on my "thankful" post, but seriously? It was less than a month ago that we all had that awful stomach bug. For the past week and half I've been dealing with a lot of back, neck and hip pain (yay, I'm old!). And I just now started feeling better. Now this. So hooray. Also, we were sick right up until Thanksgiving last year and it all but ruined it for everyone.

Fingers crossed this one works its way quickly or not at all.

On an aside...I had the weirdest dream last night that I was "real" writer living in NYC. Yeah, it was kind of nice...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful, day six...

Today I am super duper thankful for my coffee. Yeah, you read that right! In about ten minutes these kids are going to start demanding to go play out in the snow, again. Yeesh. But I'm having coffee now (Melitta classic blend with Bailey's hazlenut creamer) and I'll probably have another cup when I finally convince them to come in and do school. (No snow days for homeschooled kids!)

In other news, I finished my third proofread/edit of Finding Sanctuary, so that's still in the works. Hoping to have it out soon, but it's sort of out of my hands right now. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thankful, days four and five...

Yes, I know, I know, I keep falling behind!

Day four...yesterday I was extraordinarily thankful, as I am every Tuesday, for my mom's group friends at church. We've been meeting nearly every Tuesday for the past two and half years at the church I attend and it's always a good time. Our group changes with each passing year as people move out of the area and into the area. But the level of closeness we've managed to attain remains. I'm lucky to have such wonderful Christian friends and mamas in my life to keep me accountable and sane!! As a super plus, we have great nursery volunteers every Tuesday, and it's always a blessing to live your kids for an hour and a half with people they love to spend time with.

Day I am thankful for the beautiful snow outside. Now, admittedly, I'm posting this somewhat begrudgingly, because I'm so sick of freezing cold New England winters. This is my fourth, and my wimpy Southern blood just can't handle the temps! But I do have two little kiddies who were absolutely overjoyed at the sight of it falling rapidly out our windows earlier today. They were so excited we had to call off school just a little early so we could go out and play in it. And both Matthew and I spent a lot of our childhood in places where it doesn't snow much (minus the few years I lived in Missouri and Germany) so it's nice that they get to play in snow.
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I mean, look at the happiness on their rosy-cheeked faces?!

And well, you know there's a chance this will be our last New England winter (finger's crossed). So I can't NOT be grateful for that!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thankful, days three and four...

Not falling behind...yet!

Day three, yesterday...I am thankful for the wonderful nursery workers and children's chapel teachers that took both my kids during the church service yesterday, leaving me to enjoy the morning sitting alone with Matthew in church!

Day four, today...I am thankful for the freedom to homeschool my children! And no, that's not a given in some countries. In Germany, it is completely illegal to teach your children at home, you can even go to jail for refusing to send your kids to public school. Crazy. So I certainly don't take our right to homeschool for granted.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thankful, Day Two...

Today I'm thankful for lazy Saturday morning spent snuggle on the couch with my baby girl.

She's growing up so fast lately it's a little hard to watch. But without fail every morning after I've taken her potty she stretches our her arms and says, "Hold me, Mommy?" Usually I just give her a quick snuggle and go on getting ready to start our day. But on Saturdays we can just sit on the couch together watch cartoons.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful, Day One...

Well, you know everyone else is doing this on Facebook right now. And out of all the Facebook trends that tend to pop up, I really like this one. Although I missed yesterday, I figured it wouldn't hurt to start a day late.

So here it goes: The challenge is to say what you're thankful for every day of the month of November, shouldn't be too hard, right? Also, I've mentioned before I've really been working on keeping a grateful attitude. I wish I could say I'm doing great at this, but lately I've been slipping into old habits and not being grateful.

Let's start this off with a bang, shall we?

Today I'm thankful for...MY PARENTS!

This was an easy pick, next to my kids and my husband, no one else is closer to my heart than my parents. And like most kids, I'm sure I don't take quite enough time out my day to thank them for everything they've done for me. You know, all the extra stuff besides bringing me into the world and giving me stellar DNA. My mom stayed at home AND homeschooled me and a my two brothers. Not only did she teach me EVERYTHING I know, she also nurtured my love of reading and writing. My dad was in the Air Force for the first seventeen years of my life. Because of this, my parents were able to show us the world from a very young age. I can think of no better gift to give your children than the gift of adventure and appreciation for everything that is out there in the world.

Together they taught me to love God, to be a good person, how to be a good parent and spouse. And I know they are both there for me whenever I need them. They both love my kids so much is unreal. I'm also lucky and fortunate to call them my friends as well as parents.

Also, they are pretty cool and do lots of crazy things like ziplining, even though they're grandparents! (And yes, my mom will probably want to kill me for posting this!)

 So there you go! :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Here and there...

Every time I think about getting rid of this blog (I can't even keep up with the family one of late) I think of something I want to ramble on about. So I guess it's sort of a good thing.

I feel like everything has been crazy and chaotic ever since the school year started. Although my chaotic is probably a lot like most people's calm. I loathe being busy, being gone, having no time to just sit around and do...nothing.

Well, there's no time for nothing anymore. Not with a second grader to teach, a two year old to potty train (and teach as well) and a grad-student husband. Not with my second book (supposedly) coming out in two weeks. Not with tons of work to still do on it. Not with the days seemingly getting shorter and shorter by the minute.

We're now in week TEN of school. That's insane! We've only taken one day off so far, and that was because of the awful plague (aka stomach bug from hell) that we had a week ago. Or was it two weeks ago? See! I don't even remember. It's like Groundhog Week around here. Only we switch out our minor catastrophes  You know. Stomach bug. Hurricane. Hmm, I wonder what will happen next week?

Hopefully nothing. Hopefully I'll finish up with my book. I'd so like to have it done and out of the way before the Holidays.

OH WAIT, the Holidays are coming TOO!?

How come no one told me? I feel super unprepared. Well, I did make the kids' Amazon wishlists for the various grandparents. So that's something. And I just realized our star from last year is still broken. And somehow the little cardboard star from last year seems less quaint and more depressing right now...

Oh wait, that's the weather that's depressing me, isn't it? Yeah they canceled Halloween this year. Or trick or treating, at least until next week. Who's going to want to go trick or treating on November the 7th. Not I. We already "technically" trick or treated at the mall on Sunday, so I suppose I can get out of that one.

Bah humbug!!!

October 060
Sophia and I, doing our best crabby faces.

 Anyway, I digress, as usual. On the upside (and if you know me at all, you know there's always an upside!) my parents are coming in....30 days! (And you also know how much I love me a good countdown!) That's going to be pretty awesome.

And my book will get done and be released...eventually. Now let me go proofread!

Monday, October 8, 2012


That God has a sense of humor, or a least a pretty firm grasp on irony.

Sophia has been refusing to go the church nursery for about six months now. So it's basically been that long since I've sat in and actually listened to the sermon. Usually she gets too loud and I have to take her to the nursery and play. Okay, so she'll go to the nursery, she just won't let me leave her. Well, yesterday she did. Elijah was down in Children's Chapel and Matthew was at home working hard on his homework and taking advantage of the relative quiet.

Now, I'll admit, sitting in the sermon by myself was super weird. I was actually having trouble with the zero distractions, so I didn't even hear most of the sermon. Oh, and I was waiting with my ears perked for Sophia's crazy wailing from the nursery at any moment. What I did enjoy were the prayers after church. It's not often as a parent you get to spend some time on your knees reflecting on what you'd like to work on yourself. So I prayed for gratefulness, patience, and grace. Often I focus too much on what I don't have, rather than how much I have been given. Patience is obviously necessary, and often in short supply. Grace, to not go absolutely insane on my kids every time they frustrate me.

With those prayers in mind I began my day today. And so far in response I've been given, a flooding, overflowing washing machine, a slow-poke student, a temper tantrum throwing two-year-old, and oh, I've just been informed the toilet is clogged too.


And I'm sitting here listening to Jars of Clay "The Valley Song" and burst into laughter at the line, "You have calmed greater waters."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pretty much the coolest thing ever...

I wish I had time today to do this post justice. Alas, it is a crazy Monday around here and I have about a zillion things to take care of. But I wanted to share my excitement with someone. Okay, did anyone not see the picture on Facebook on Saturday?

Well, this is what I got in the mail, much to my excitement.

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Happy, happy, happy! I keep telling myself it doesn't really count, I'm only self-published. But still, it's wicked cool! This is my proof copy, which means I've got to proof it before Amazon will start selling it. I've found a few minor formatting errors I need to fix, but other than that, it looks great. Oh and I'm not fooling myself. I'm pretty sure only my mom will be willing to pay for a hard copy, but that's okay! Matthew says he's going to buy a copy and read it (finally) but only if I fix the Latin errors in it. Errr....

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Inside cover
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Yes, he was reading it!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Indie woes...

There are quite a few downsides to being a self-published "indie" author. The least of these being the lack of representing, aka an agent who will make you big bucks with a big publishing house. Yes, it would be super-nice for someone to promote my book for me, arrange book signing tours and all that while I sit at home drinking coffee and typing away on my next novel.

Alas, when you're self-published you're it. Every little last detail falls on me. Which, in a way, is a good thing. I like it that I got the final say in what my cover looked like and how much I want to sell my book for. Or when I want to give it away for free. It's nice.

Now, like I said, the downside is that everything is my job. I thought it was bad when I had to sit down and format my book for its Kindle version. I downloaded a free Kindle book, ironically on how to build your book for Kindle, and had a crash course in formatting a Word doc. It's not that I'm completely computer illiterate, I did take a computer course in college (some ten year ago!), it's just that I don't know how to work all the finer points of it. So I was super proud with what I ended up with, the Kindle version of my book is perfect. Complete with a clickable table of contents (something you don't always see in self-published books.)

Besides Amazon KDP, which is the self-publishing e-book platform I'm using, Amazon also owns another site called CreateSpace. What KDP did for e-books, CreateSpace is doing for paperbacks. Basically it's a way to get my book printed and distributed in hard copy. I haven't done it before because I figured no one is going to pay six bucks plus shipping for a nobody. But at the end of the day I decided I would like to have a copy, and I may as well give it a shot.

Enter...formatting hell. Compared to formatting a book for Kindle, formatting for paperback is a complete nightmare. I think I started working on it Tuesday morning-ish, in between school lessons, when Elijah was doing busy work. Fast forward to now, I think I've spent at least twelve hours at the computer working on this bloody thing. Oh, and it's still not done! But almost.

The problem is, you've got to take your regular sized document (8x11?) and scale it down to whatever size you want your paperback to be. I chose 6x9. Sounds simple? No. You've got to adjust your margins PERFECTLY. This is what took me so long. First, CreateSpace is super unclear on what margins work best, I ended up trolling forums to find the settings I ended up with. And then once you upload your doc, you can review it, and it never shows up in the viewer the way it does in Word. If you get it wrong, and I did, about fifty times, it looks like this. Gah

And we haven't even talked about all the other settings, besides margins. Like headers, footers and the lot. Getting your headers to alternate between the book title and your name. Getting the page numbers to start on the first page of your book, not the title page. Seriously a nightmare. And yeah, maybe I am pretty Word incompetent. So basically I started with CS's template already formatted, and of course the margins were wrong, wrong, wrong, even with their pre-formatted template (maddening!). Then I have to painstakingly cut and paste my full novel into the template, chapter by chapter to make sure it doesn't screw up all my section breaks and junk like that. What happened to me yesterday was that I had re-formatted my entire document so many times, it was so screwed up there was no going back. So I had to start from scratch! And yeah, at that point I'd been working on it for at least ten hours or (not straight, of course.)

So I started over with a clean template, more insane problems ensued. I mean crazy crap like a whole paragraph sitting in the middle of the page for no rhyme or reason, stuff even Matthew couldn't figure out and he's a genius at Word. I ended up re-doing the entire half several times. But guess what? This is what I ended up with.


As you can see, that is a perfectly formatted book. I still have some minor things to work with on it, like entering in my table of contents, but that will be a walk in the park compared to what I already when through. And yeah, it was a total crash course, but at least when it comes time to do my print copy of Finding Sanctuary I'll know what I'm doing.

The best part? In a few weeks or so, after my book has gone through a reveille with a CreateSpace reviewer, I should have a printed copy of my book in my hands for the first time!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I have no idea what's going on with Sophia right now,  but her crabbiness has been of the charts lately. Right now I'm blaming all four of her two-year molars which are busting out. Combine that with all the "special attention" Elijah has been getting aka school, she has been ridiculous. Like, we can't seem to get a single thing done between her whining.

Cue solution: I have a strict no tv until after school policy. Alas, today I got desperate, Sophia's watching Sesame Street and Elijah's doing his math without distraction.

Win-win situation.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

No means no!

It's not a newsflash that my attempts in becoming conventionally  published were...well...abysmal. I think I sent less than a hundred queries, and didn't receive a single nibble, bite or whatever you might call an encouraging response.

On June first I self-published and never looked back, honestly. So I have to laugh when I get a rejection email, some EIGHT MONTHS after I sent it telling me (can you guess?) "it's not the right fit for him/her".

Shocker let me tell you.

And it's not like I'm having the last laugh or anything...really. But I have managed to get 1,383 copies downloaded so far!

And I really REALLY don't miss those awful rejection emails.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

You know you've spent way too long editing...

and sitting at the computer, staring blankly at the screen when... you can't stop mentally debating the usage of "all right" and "alright". Darn you semantics!

Also, I just "painted" my nails with a Sharpie. SEND HELP!


When I tell people I homeschool a second grader, with a two year-old at home, I always get the same response, "How do you do that?"

Well, there are a few answers, most of them are only partly true. Here are the partly true reasons I'd like to give.

  • I'm awesome. (Must have inherited this from my mom, who started homeschooling my four year old brother when I was two. Went on to have a third baby when I was four. And homeschooled all three of us through highschool. My mom = awesome!)
  • My kids are awesome. Again, only partly true, ha ha! Elijah is a fantastic student, but he is a six year old-boy, and like all six year-old boys, can be frustrating. Sophia, well, she's Sophia. Perpetually the wild card.
  • I'm super-organized and super-dedicated to my role as a homeschool mom. Well, that one is mostly true. Errr. Most of the time

But in reality there's only one way I really manage to pull this off every single day, mostly with my sanity intact...and here it is...


My second cup of the day!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Goal Oriented

Like a lot of people, I seem to work best under a little pressure. *Cue panic attack about how I've promised to publish my second book by October, when it is only halfway through the initial editing process!*

Anyway, this year I've been super lazy with motivating myself to work out. And for whatever reason (I'd like to blame the stressful year I've had, or it could be the fact that I'm closing in on 30) I've had more trouble with my weight fluctuating this year. Not a lot, just three pounds up and down all year. In February I was three pounds below my healthy "low" weight. I over-corrected and ended up three pounds over my healthy "high" weight. Right now I'm somewhere around my health "high" weight, which is fine. But I so need to tone up and I need to do it now before it's too late!

I picked a really great time to do it too. A lot of people I know choose the beginning of the school year to re-evaluate their daily goals, so I've done the same. We started back to school last Monday, and since Elijah is now in the second grade, between him and Sophia, I'm literally teaching for five-six hours daily. On top of that I've got my regular household chores, plus my own personal goals...Usually writing, editing, working out and oh, showering! So it's a lot. I feel like every day is jam-packed, even if we don't leave the house. And we do, two days a week we have baseball and next week we start back to our church's mom's group once a week!

What was I saying? Oh yeah, working out! Everyone knows I swear by Jillian Michael's 30 day shred. But I'm getting a little bored. Today I improvised a little doing this ab workout I found on Pinterest, and a lot of the cardio and strength training moves on Jillian's DVD.

Oh and to compound my goal-oriented/anal-retentiveness I wrote down my entire workout as went. (Also, so I can do it again later this week, without a single DVD!)

Workout Pics 001 Yeah, so it looks like a lot, but it only took me forty minutes total! The main focus I had today was my abs (blah). That seems to be my main problem area lately. Especially now since I have diastasis recti, which means my stomach muscles are permanently split after my second pregnancy (thank you nine pound baby Sophia!) My midwife said mine is pretty severe, so the chances of repairing it without surgery by exercising is pretty slim, but a girl can try! And yes I feel like jell-o right now and I badly need a shower!

As far as my other goals, I make a daily list of things I need to accomplish and then check them off as I go through the day. Today they were: School! (Duh), change sheets, sweep kitchen, vacuum, workout (45 mins), edit (30 mins), write (30 minutes), and email the gazillion people I need to for all the various church events I'm organizing this year.

Fun stuff! The writing usually has to wait until mid-afternoon or after the kids go to bed. Last night I worked until 9:30, so yeah.

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's been a while...

Actually I'd almost completely forgotten about this blog, and even considered just getting rid of it. But then I decided I'd miss my outlet to rant and ramble about everything going on in my life. I don't know, I guess writing is a bit cathartic to me, wonder why?

Anyway, as you can guess from my month-long absence, August has been a busy month! The kids and I just returned from a long and fun-filled visit to Florida. As expected, we returned home and literally hit the ground running with tons of stuff. This week is our last official week of summer. I usually prefer to start school earlier in August, but with our trip being later than usual, we pushed the start of school back to the 27th. On top of that Elijah will be playing fall baseball starting this Saturday. Matthew goes back to school on the 29th (though, thank goodness, he's only taking two classes this semester!). Oh and I'm still trying to get our church mom's group and children's chapel started up in September.

OH and then there's that second novel I'm supposed to be self-publishing in the Fall! So yeah, just a little busy around here.

And re-potty training my two year old.

Did I miss something?

Watching season two of Downton Abbey... My library had it, but I can only keep discs one and two for three days, that's seven episodes that are an hour long that I have to watch before tomorrow! Ahhh, the pressure.

Lesson planning, oh joy.

Menu planning...

How to keep a two year old out of my hair while I teach Latin.

I think that's all...happy end of summer to me!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The latest stats...

Okay so you know by know I'm obsessed with tracking every unit of my book, and since everyone has been asking me how many copies I've sold so far I thought I'd post an update.

Of course the term "sold" doesn't litterally mean I made money off of it! Let's just talk about how many copies I have out there right now!

Totals for the United States:
Sold out right - 52
Borrowed through Amazon KDP - 3
Free - 715

Total for US - 770

Totals for United Kingdom
Free - 57

Totals for Germany
Sold - 2
Free - 7

Total units altogether - 834

Not too shabbby! And I still have three more promotional days through Amazon which I'm saving to hopefully boost the sales of my second book when it releases in September!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Further proof that I'm a giant nerd...

In case you needed more proof.

I've been working so hard on writing these past few weeks. I think I'm just trying to take advantage of our summer break. Elijah will be starting second grade sometime in August and I'm sure my amount of free time is going to dwindle further. So I'm trying to get as much writing done now as I can.

Sometime last week I finished my first edit of Finding Sanctuary (yes, book two!). I've not got to get some beta readers on board, I've got one, probably might need a second. (Anyone, anyone?) And I'm still working on the first draft of book three. Which is untitled so far, and trust me, it's totally bugging me.

When I'm not writing or editing I'm doing lame things like coming up with my playlists for the books. And I'm not even ashamed to admit that I get super-duper excited when I find the perfect song to go a long with each chapter. Now, if you listened or looked at the LE playlist you'll realize I don't have varied tastes at all. 95% of my playlist was either Lifehouse or Linkin Park. Because I' m super cool like that! Err...not! So I've added one more artist this week to the FS playlist...The Fray. I heard one song in particular that I almost died it was so perfect! It's called "Heartbeat"


We're on an open bed truck on the highway
Rain is coming down and we're on the run
Think I can feel the breath in your body
We gotta keep on running til' we see the sun

Oh you gotta fire and it's burning in the rain
Thought that it went out, but it's burning just the same
And you don't look back, not for anything
'Cause love someone, love them all the same
If you love someone, love them all the same

Oh I'm feeling your heartbeat
And oh, you're coming around, coming around, coming around
If you can love somebody, love them all the same
You gotta love somebody, love them all the same
I'm singing oh.. I'm feeling your heartbeat

Ahhh, I love it. Anyway, not that this means anything to you, since NO ONE has read FS yet, but trust me...chapter 14 "Crash" + this song = perfection.

Also I was competely bored yesterday and decided to re-write a couple of chapters from LE, only this time from Jason's perspective and it was totally hilarious. I might share them on here if there's any interest.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm still standing...

Yes, I'm totally singing an Elton John song in my head right now...what's new?

Day ten of single parenting, with five to go. Maybe I'll make it after all. Let's just say the shine has worn off.

The good

  • Sophia is almost completely potty trained.
  • We've managed to do a lot of fun things together that we don't normally get to do.
  • I've been able to spend a lot of extra time writing.
  • We've had a lot of fun movie nights, I've had a few solo movie nights, which was fun.
  • Matthew's coming home on Sunday!
  • We've got plans for almost every day this week so hopefully it will go by fast.
The bad
  • Now that Sophia is mostly potty trained she gets up at 6:30 to go potty. She doesn't go back to sleep. 
  • I'm pretty much losing my mind without Matthew, plain and simple. Last night I went THREE hours without speaking.
  • I think the kids are missing him bad too. Sophia is whinier than usual, and that's saying something.
  • I'm tired. All of the time.
  • And a little crabby.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I take it back...

Earlier this year, around February or so, I complained to my online buddies about how sucky this year was apparently going to be. They assured me that I was overreacting, despite the way things seemed, that there was still room for improvement. Well, I'd like to officially rescind that comment and acknowledge that my friends were right!

True, things haven't exactly worked out the way I had planned, but that's life for you. I'm still published. My book is doing well. I'm averaging about one copy sold a day, which is still something, so I'm happy. I'm ranked in the top #100,000 Kindle books on Amazon. Again, it doesn't sound like much, but it really is. Most self-pubbed books are way down between #200,000 and #300,000! There's still a good chance this thing might take off for me, only time will tell. I definitely have my fingers crossed. My hopes are high because I've heard nothing but good things so far about my book. I really cannot possibly communicate to you how much it means to me to hear that people are enjoying my work. To use a word I don't usually like, it's quite surreal. And it makes me happy. Like, insanely happy.

So yeah, I take it back. 2012 isn't so bad after all. In another month's time my dad will be finished with his cancer treatment, another chapter in life will be behind us, God willing, for good. The kids and I will be making a highly anticipated trip down to Florida to spend some quality time with as much of our family as we can manage. In the Fall I'll self-publish again, this time the follow-up to London Escape. And somewhere in between I'll find the time to finish writing the third book.

For now, I'm grateful 2012 didn't turn out to be nearly as bad as I expected. And I think I've learned my lesson about the ups and downs of life. Or not, I'll probably be complaining again later. ;)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lessons in optimism, what I've learned from my dad...

*Cue corny Father's Day post...and go!

My dad is what you would call an optimist. My mom even calls him an "eternal optimist", so it's no surprise to me that I inherited this positive attitude from him.

(I'm pretty sure I've shared this story before, but bear with me!)
When I was a kid we lived overseas, and one of our favorite things to do as family was to travel. After my dad was stationed at Ramstien AFB in Germany, one of the first big trips we planned was to Paris. Of course everyone was so excited to see this amazing city for the first time and I'm sure my parents had every detail of the trip planned in advance. So it was more than a little disappointing when our first day in Paris dawned rainy, dreary and downright miserable. Now, you can imagine how fun that must have been, my brothers and I were probably around ten, eight and four at the most, and I'm sure we were begging to go back to the nice, dry hotel room within a few minutes. Then suddenly my dad perks up, points to the horizon and says, "Look, over there, it's getting brighter!" Was it? I don't know, probably not. But we were all like, "Okay, it's getting brighter, it's going to stop raining, awesome!" And that pretty much sums up his attitude most of the time. The rest of us have used that line over and over again in the years that have come. Sometimes sarcastically, because sometimes it's not getting brighter, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself. And sometimes truthfully, because sometimes it does get brighter.

Hilarious family photo! Yes, we were going to a baseball game! Yes, it was the 90s!

Now fast forward a few years to 2010, June, just eight weeks after I'd given birth to Sophia. For some insane reason I'd agreed to run a 5K with my dad, though I'm not a runner at all. But at the time it really sounded like fun, seriously! In hindsight it was insanity. I think I made it about fifty feet before my then fifty-year old dad totally took off without me. I wanted to die pretty much every step of the way. Eventually toward the end, my dad had already finished waaayyy ahead of me and actually came back for me. So he jogs up along side of me and starts to tell me to run the last bit. Admittedly, I think I was like "hell no, I'm going to puke" but I managed to pick up my pace a little to a fast walk-run. And so I crossed the finish line, not walking, not on my knees, but running...ish. It was fun, now in retrospect to share that experience. Though I'll never do it again! Again with the optimism, telling me to run when I'd rather lay down on the ground and puke.
Us and our medals.
Anyway, so my last example of optimism isn't the easiest one to write, but I'll give it a shot. Actually it's one subject I've been avoiding writing about lately, despite my penchant for saying exactly what's on my mind all of the time. On January 19th of this year I got the call from my dad. He calls me every Thursday pretty much without fail so I was pretty much blindsided with this call turned out to be the call. You know, the one where he told me he'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Yeah, that one. And like any person who's just been told someone they love very much has cancer my gut reaction was not good. In fact it felt a little like downing for a moment. And then the craziest thing of all happened. He assured me everything was going to be fine, he wasn't going to die, and that we'd all get through this. See? Eternal optimist. And just like that, I took a deep breath and thought to myself, "Okay, we'll if he's fine, I can be fine too." And we have been, maybe not all of the time, but we've gotten through alright. Maybe might dad hasn't been perfectly positive the entire time, only he can answer that. But he's certainly maintained that attitude in front of me and my brothers.

My dad and my baby girl.

As a parent myself I can't think of a better lesson to pass onto your kids. To show them how to look on the bright side of things, no matter how dark they seem. Because most of the time, it is getting brighter and how much better do things seem when you realize that?

Happy Father's Day Dad, I love you!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why London?

The other day was trying to do the math of when I actually started writing London Escape. I'm pretty sure it was January 2011. But I began envisioning the story when Sophia was just a baby. Now, it's not ironic that I decided to write a strong, kick-butt but also normal female character after having my first daughter. I thought about all the things I'd want her to read when she's older. It's also no coincidence that I happened to read a very fabulous book series with one of the best female characters of our time...The Hunger Games.

So I'm not sure how it happened, but I suddenly had a character in my head. Several things were obvious right away...her name was Kit, she had bright red hair, and wore green Converse. Don't ask me how and why those three things were so important, but that was just the beginning of it. I knew basically what I wanted the plot line to be. I wanted the girl to save the boy, for sure! And I knew exactly where it should take place.


Okay, so I clearly have a thing for red-heads...I've always wanted to be one. And after a good dye job I usually am one. The green Converse, I don't know, they made a nice contrast with the red hair in my mind. I didn't wear them at the time, but I do now! And as far as location, well, I sort of have a thing for London too! Don't get me wrong, I love other cities, NYC is great, and living just an hour or so out of the city has been amazing. But I wanted something different for my novel, I wanted the character to be a bit of a jet-setter (despite her protestations!). London it was.

When I was a kid I was a military brat. I was born first in Tacoma Washington, and then my family moved to ....Knob Noster Missouri. Yeah, fun huh? So you can imagine my parent's excitement when my dad's next assignment turned out to be High Wycombe Air Force Base just outside of Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England.

The best thing about moving there? Like our current vicinity to New York, Marlow was just a short train ride away from THE city, London. And so we went, many, many times. So not only do I have a lot of fond, family memories of visiting there, but also it was the first big European city I visited. I think in a way it will always be my favorite.

When it came time to brainstorm for ideas for the cover, my very first thought was that I wanted a London skyline, oh and look what I got! So amazing.

My next two books take place in completely different locations, from the Amazon rain forest in Peru, to the huge metropolis of Hong Kong, China. But I have a feeling we'll soon be revisiting London, one way or another.

Monday, June 11, 2012


So hey, do you want to see an already super-OCD writer go even more overboard OCD? Well, that's basically what happened on Friday when I put my book up for free on Amazon. Now certainly, I expected my mediocre sales to rise somewhat, but I never expected them to rise quite as high as they did. If you follow me on Twitter, or are friends with me on Facebook, then you know firsthand how cray cray it got.

Let me start at the beginning. When you sign up with Amazon's publishing "house" - KDP, you have to agree to be exclusively on Amazon for ninety days. In exchange for this they put your book in the Kindle lending library, meaning if people have Prime, they can borrow and read for free. Also, they give you five free promotional days where you can put your book up for free to gain publicity.

After my book had been officially released for a week I sold about thirty-seven copies, not too shabby! My free promotion went live at midnight on Thursday night. On Friday morning I woke up at seven-thirty and checked my sales, already I was at 34 downloads, I couldn't believe it. I was bascially glued to my computer the rest of the morning, watching the number rise everytime I hit refresh. I knew I couldn't do that all day, or could I? So I took the kids to the beach for about two hours. When I came back my number had doubled from 90 to 180! Then I started to notice something very interesting. I was ranked. (You know I've talked about my sales rankings a lot. Well, this was free rankings, but still.) I started out around #1,100 and something. Then I hit the charts. By early afternoon I was ranked on both the children's action/adventure (Free) lists, and the regualar action/adventure list. I did make an appearance on the YA lists as well, but never the top twenty.

Around early evening was when I really peaked. I think my sales ranking hit #473, on the childrens action/adventure I made it as high as #5

Oh hi, that's my novel, right across from THE HUNGER GAMES! Of course, the list on the right is free, the one on the left is paid. Big difference, but still, there I am! I also peaked on the adult action/adventure around #11. As far as I know at least. Around eleven that night I did go to bed, so I could have reached higher, since he promo day went on until midnight on the West Coast. By morning I had my final tally, 614 downloads, which is insane, right? I keep telling myself, yes, it was free, of course you gave away so many. But I can't help but hope and think that the reason that number is so high is because my book is awesome!

The best part so far? Besides a gazillion people reading my book and besides seeing all my friends totally spam facebook for me? Well, the feedback. I've heard nothing but good things so far. Even from people I don't know! You can't beat that. I'm sure the negative reviews will come, but hopefully they'll only be complaining about my lack of vampires or something...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Thank you, thank you, thank you...

Have I mentioned how much fun I am having with all this lately? Way too much. Matthew actually banned me from the computer this morning, with good reason, but I'll get to that next.

What's my favorite part so far of being a published author? Reviews! I loooove reviews. Yes most of them are from people I know personally, but they are the kind of friends that would just write me a good review to be nice. I'm up to five reviews on Amazon already, four fives and one four. It's amazing! I'm convinced that nothing will help me become a moderately successful self-published author more than good reviews!

Here's a few of my favorite quotes from my wonderful reviewers!

From Lindsay, "The lead character, Kit, is relatable, brave, and a good friend."

From Jenn, "It is gripping and entertaining and you will not want to put it down until the very last word."

From Lara, "It was a breath of fresh air compared to most young adult novels that are currently circulating."

So yeah, good stuff people! 

London Escape will be FREE all day today until midnight as my way of saying thanks to everyone who bought and reviewed so far. So go ahead and recommend to your friends! And thank you for the support.

(PS my book has been free since midnight last night and it's already sold 60 copies!)

(Update, it's not even nine o' clock, but all my combined sales; sold units, loaned units through Prime and free promotional units I've hit the 100 mark!)

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Don't you love a good statistic? I do. Which is why I'm super happy that Amazon is providing me with up-to-date information on how my book is selling.

Well, first there's just general sales. I sold 21 copies on my first day. Woo hoo! Thanks to help of many of my friends who spammed Facebook for me on that fateful day! Since then my sales have tapered off a bit. My current total stands at 37 copies sold. I guess that's not too bad at all for five days, right?

Besides sales total, there's a lovely page listing my royalties, ha, now that one is not nearly so interesting to me. Since I don't see a dime for sixty days after the purchase. No big payday yet. But that's okay!

Now on my actual page where you can purchase my book, there's a little thing called "Amazon Sales Ranking". I was a bit bummed out when I saw my peak was somewhere around #15,000. Yes, fifteen THOUSAND. But as it turned out, that's quite good. I looked at tons of self-pubbed e-book yesterday and some of them fell around the one MILLION mark, or at least in the 250,000 range. I'm currently down to #43,000 or something like that, but hopefully I will rise again.

It's been an interesting process so far. I waver between being completely thrilled and overjoyed, like when I read another five star review (okay I only have THREE). To being more than a little discouraged. I mean, there are so many books out there, how can mine ever possibly rise to the top without a "real" publisher? I don't know, all I can do is hope!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

London Escape...the soundtrack!

Ha ha, just kidding. Well, as you already know I love music. I'm almost always listening to something while I write and edit. So it wasn't hard at all to come up with a playlist to correspond to London Escape. In fact, many of the songs I had on constant repeat for the many months I was writing. Here it is!

London Escape by CaceyHopper on Grooveshark

There are sixteen songs, one for each chapter and in my opinion some are better fits than others. My favorites are When They Come for me (Chapter 11) and Iridescent (Chapter 16). Hope you enjoy!

PS a few of the Linkin Park songs are not "clean" so if you're not into that sort of thing, you might want to skip it! Sorry!

Monday, June 4, 2012

So yeah, that happened...

I'm officially a published author. Well, sorta kinda. Is it technicalilty? I suppose. Nonetheless, if you go to Amazon right now (which I've done about a million times since Friday) and type in my name....guess what comes up?? Oh something that sort of looks like this...

And beside it there's some stuff about the author, you know...ME! Anyway I'm really excited, obviously. And yes the book was supposed to be released tomorrow. It's kind of a long story, but Friday morning I woke up to find my amazing cover art in my inbox, which a good friend of mine was able to do for me. That was kind of the last thing I needed to do before publishing. So I went to my Amazon account to look over my publishing details one last time and set everything for Tuesday's release. Then I read the fine print, which said that it can take 12-48 hours for your e-book to be reviewed and approved before it would go "live" on Amazon. And even then it could take 72 hours for full details to show up. (Case in point, the "look inside" feature just now became available.) So I of course decided to go ahead and get the ball rolling. Just in case. I figured if it launched early I could just keep it under wraps until Tuesday. You know, some days it's like I don't even know myself!

I did this around three pm, on Friday. By four-ish it had been approved and my status went from "under review" to "publishing". I checked it again around eight after getting in from Elijah's baseball game and saw my status was "live". Immediately I went and did an Amazon search for London Escape. It's not the first thing that comes up, even in the Kindle store, but there it was. My baby. I then immediately went to my Kindle store on my own Kindle just to see it again and bought it! Yes, I bought the very first official copy of my own novel. I am the world's biggest dork.

By Saturday morning the news broke anyway, through someone else and though I tried to do a little damage control I realized it was pointless and silly. So that's how it happened! And it's been a fun ride so far. I'm overwhelmed by how much my friends and family are going out of their way to promote my book. So far I've sold around 25 copies which is a good start, I think. And for the first time in years, I'm actually contributing to the family's income!

I suspect my next few posts this week will be focused on London Escape and The Halcyon Legacy, since this is just the beginning of a long and fun ride. I promised to post my book playlist, so that will probably be tomorrow!

Friday, June 1, 2012

A little help from my friends...

So, this coming Tuesday, June 5th, is the big day! The one I've been waiting for ever since I began writing my very first young adult novel, London Escape. I'll be published! Well yes, that's a bit of a technicality, but it's still something. For one thing, when I began writing my goal was to get published. But really more than anything I just wanted to be able to share my stories with people and have them enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. I may not make a gazillion dollars (I'm making about two bucks a pop, seriously!), but that has never been my ambition anyway.

So here's the deal, because I'm self-publishing I'm completely on my own when it comes to getting my book out there. Which means I need you, yes YOU! If you're reading this, then you probably already know me, you're probably my friend, and as my friend you want to see me succeed in this endeavor don't you? That's what I thought! Here are a few things you can do to help me get my name, and my book out there to the public.

1.) Read my book! It's great I promise. It is well-written and well-edited. It is meant for young adults, of course, but we all know that doesn't mean the story is limited to teens. Most of my friends who have loved it are grown-ups! It will only be available in e-book form, via Amazon, which means it's exclusive to Kindle. Don't have a Kindle? Don't worry! There's an app for that! Amazon offers a variety of reading app downloads which will help you buy and access regular Kindle books. Follow this link for the complete list!

2.) If you are reading my books, mark it on Goodreads (it's not up on Goodreads yet, but I'll be adding it as soon as I publish). Post it on your Facebook page. Tweet it! Blog about it! Tell your mama! Tell your friends. That's all I ask. Ha ha, not too hard, right?

3.) If you read it and like it, review it! You don't have to give me a perfect five stars! Just kidding if  you don't I will hunt you down... Review on Goodreads too!

But wait, there's more! London Escape is just the first book in my series, The Halcyon Legacy. Which means there's a lot more where it came from! The second book, Finding Sanctuary is already fully written and slated for release in the Fall of 2012. So if you love the first you won't have to wait long for the follow-up. AND there's a tiny sneak peak of Finding Sanctuary at the end of London Escape.

And finally, I have to say thank you. Thank you if you do any of this for me, thank you for believing and keeping up with my crazy journey. I am beyond excited to have my work out there for the first time in my life. My dream has always been to share fun and exciting stories that every single person can enjoy, and I hope that I have done that.

PS, this isn't the end for me. Someday I'll be published and on the shelves for real, I know. Besides, Amazon does have their own publishing house, if my Kindle book sells enough copies (like a million!) Amazon will print my book. They've done it before for other indie authors. So who knows!

Thanks again!

Cacey Hopper
Author of London Escape

Oh yes I did!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The downside...

I'm not going to lie, I quite often praise my own genius... I'm kidding.... I mean, it was really, really smart of me to space my kids out so far apart, they are four years and eleven days apart, to be exact. Okay wait, I can't really take credit for that, since they were both completely unplanned! But anyway, when I got pregnant with Sophia, Elijah was already three and a half. He was already fully potty trained and self sufficient in that area. He was sleeping wonderfully. Okay he did give up naps right around that time. He was already in preschool and followed orders well enough to pick up all the toys his very pregnant Mama couldn't reach. It was awesome!

And when Sophia was born he had just turned four, making him a perfect age for his big brother role, which he has always filled so nicely. So, really, it's been nice having kids so far apart in age, but still close enough to get along and play together.

The downside? Well, I've seemingly forgotten a lot of the stuff I should have remembered! Granted, I've always said having Elijah was no preparation for being a parent. He is seriously the easiest kid ever! Case in point, the boy was fully potty trained (no diapers or pull-ups at night even) at two and a half. He was READING at three and a half and now at six he can read anything and has a Latin vocabulary of over fifty words. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bragging...okay I am. But I totally can't take credit for this, it's all him. I swear! He's super independent.

Now to the downside...Sophia, well, she's not Elijah. And that's not to say she's my "bad" kid by any means. She's super sweet, hilarious...but so, so stubborn! One thing I've definitely learned is not to compare her to Elijah, they are like night and day. But still, sometimes I can't help it. I've been a mommy for six years now, but Sophia often makes me feel like a first-timer all over again.

Which brings me to my next point: potty training. Again, with Elijah it was SO EASY. I assumed (mistakenly) it would be easy with Sophia too. After all, she's a girl, supposedly girls are easier to train (lie!). She got a potty for Christmas, right around eighteen months, which was the same age Elijah started trying it out. Fast forward to today she has still never actually gone on the potty! I know I should lower my expectations, but still, I'm 100% certain this has nothing to do with her not being ready. But rather, her own stubbornness. She wants to wear undies every day now, so I let her. Yeah she's had a few accidents, but I figured that will only help her realize she's supposed to be going on the potty.

Nope, mommy is a sucker. This morning I even asked her, "Sophia, do you need to go pee pee on the potty?" Her response? "No, I unnies." Translation - No, I'm wearing undies. Umm, you're doing it wrong Sophia!

So I don't know. We're not taking it too seriously right now, she's still young, so I'm not bothered by it. I'm just preparing myself for a lifetime of butting heads with my stubborn daughter, because guess where she got that stubbornness from?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What was I saying?

See, I can't even remember what I came here to write. May is just like that around here. We're now done with birthdays until Matthew's in December, woo hoo! The kids both have their check-ups next week with their doctor. I was just thinking to myself how much I'm looking forward to June, which will presumably be calm and relaxing...

Wait, I think I've forgotten something? Oh right, how about my book release, which is June 5th? Yeah, I'm pretty much set to go on it, but you know me, I'll be stressing and doing last-minute editing until midnight! Oh and one more thing. In June I'm going to be a single mom for 2+ weeks, how did I forget that? So I guess we can forget all about June being relaxing.

How about July? Well, July is a little less certain. Matthew and I will be celebrating our seventh (WHAT?) anniversary on the ninth. And hopefully the kids and I will be taking a trip down South to see our family. (YES!)

And August? School's back in session (again WHAT?). Oh and I'll be teaching second grade. I'll spare you more caps, but seriously?

I'm tired just thinking about it all. Not to mention I have a couple goals in mind for the summer, finish writing my second novel and potty training Sophia.

Should be an interesting summer!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On writing a novel...what I've learned

I was January of last year when I first began this journey to complete my first novel. Now I'm happy to announce that I'm finally finished at last! I have learned a lot along the way. I feel like the most important and best lessons I've learned just in the past few weeks, so I thought I'd share.

  • I don't really know how to write. Or at least I didn't, up until now. Hopefully I've finally learned, albeit the hard way. Up until this past round of edits I think I never knew how to properly punctuate dialogue, or how to remain in the present active voice throughout. This is so embarrassing to me, but then again, it's not like I ever went to school for this! And I have learned, through trial and error how to do all these things properly, I HOPE!
  • It will never be perfect. As soon as I re-saved the document entitled "London Escape - final cut" and sent it to my kindle I read the first page and immediately spotted something I wanted to change. That's just the nature of the beast, I suppose. Like I said, hopefully it's as perfect as I can manage.
  • You can't do this sort of thing alone. I don't know where I'd be without all the constant support, help and enthusiasm from all my friends and family. Part of the reason I didn't completely throw in the towel when my publishing attempts failed was because I knew there were at least a few people out there wanting to read my novel, even if I only e-published. And for that I will be eternally grateful.
  • What else have I learned? I love, love, love writing and telling stories. Clearly it is my passion in life. But it is not my life. When I made the decision to halt on my queries and simply e-publish I thought I would be devastated. After all, I had failed to make my dreams come true. Or had I? It was then that I realized my dream was not to publish, but to write books. And that's what I'm doing. If it sells 50 or 5,000 copies it shouldn't make any difference in how I view myself.
  • What else? Oh yeah, I'm going to keep doing this: forever. As you already know I'm more than halfway through with the follow-up to London Escape, so I'll be excited again to release it in the coming fall. After that who knows, Kit's story isn't over, and neither as mine. There will at least one final book in the Halcyon Legacy, rounding it out to a full trilogy. After that, who knows. Maybe I will move on to a different character and a different genre and find some semblance of commercial success. All I know is that I'm not going to stop writing. I love the ride far to much to give it up now!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What I'm listening to...Matisyahu

What you don't know who Matisyahu is? Shame on you! Just kidding.

I don't have good taste in music. Well, by that I mean I don't usually listen to things other people like to listen too, or what's popular on the radio right now. Most of the time someone is raving about a new song and I have no idea what they're talking about.

So anyway, on to what I'm listening to right now. It's funny, my OCD really shows when I get a new song I really love. Basically I put it on my iPod, and just play the same song over and over again. Seriously. Case in point, I downloaded this new song, "Sunshine" yesterday and my play count is already past 20!

Here it is:

Okay, yeah I was going to tell you who Matisyahu is. He's this Jewish/Reggae/Pop singer. Confused? Don't be, listen to a few of his songs, they're awesomesauce. I promise.

And once I was on a Matisyahu kick I had to start re-listening to his last big song, "One Day", which is also...awesomesauce.

And another favorite, "Time of Your Song".

 Kind of different, right? But cool. Basically these three songs on repeat are what's getting me through my contstant re-writing and editing lately!

What are you listening to lately....and please, please don't say Gotye or I'll punch you....

Kidding...I kid!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Solid Rock...

I have been a Christian all my life, so easily twenty years or more. My entire life I've heard the words of the Bible, the words of hymns, sermons and now, prayer books. You would think at some point it would have just become mundane to me, rote. But it hasn't. It hasn't. It hasn't.

Why not? Well because something always brings you back, doesn't it? Whenever you feel tempted to simply let that part of you slip into the back of your mind and of your life because you have bigger, more important things going on. Something will always bring you back.

Maybe it will be having a baby when you have no job. Maybe it will be moving 1,000  miles away from everything that's familiar to you. Or maybe it will be a loved one fighting cancer.

I don't know why bad things happen. But the way I see it, bad things happen to everyone. It's simply a product of the deeply flawed world we live in. As for me, I wouldn't be half the person and Christian I am today if I didn't occasionally encounter some difficult situations. Because in those moments, you know you cannot do it on your own. And instead of feeling utterly hopeless and helpless you know exactly where to turn. God doesn't promise us, as Christians, that our lives will be wonderful, perfect and happy all the time. But he does promise to catch us when we fall, and sometimes, be the only thing keeping us from falling all together.

Today is a difficult day for me, and for my family. My dad is starting treatment for his cancer today. I thank God every minute of this day for modern medicine, and that's he's not having to go through chemo. But still, it's tough. But we have one thing and one thing alone to get us through these next eight weeks. Knowing that we stand on Christ, the solid Rock.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.