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Friday, March 30, 2012 32 comments

Pulling Back to Move Forward...


Last month, I attended a writers’ conference (SCWC) and during one of the many seminars, an editorial director at a publishing company that specializes in memoir/biography – my current genre – pointed me out (in front of da peers) and asked, “Speaking of which, hey Mark, why haven’t you finished that ms? I’m waiting already.”

Life is Like a Sprinkler: You Never Know When It's Going to get you :)
I wasn’t embarrassed for her singling me out – but I was embarrassed because I first talked to this E.D. in September. I was convinced I could whip out WIP and have it ready by April 2.
This Monday.
Yuh, right…

One reason I blew my own deadline is because something I thought would be a chore (blogging) has instead become a breathing, living, amazing adventure.
Can I hear a Whoot! Whoot! or even a "SIGGY's in the house!"
(Anyone?... anyone...? :)

My first post was less than seven months ago – and while it took five months to earn one hundred followers, only seven weeks have passed since then and here I sit on the cusp of two hundred.

I finally know (and appreciate) that my writing is enjoyed by some who are not blood-related to me, which is amazing.

(No matter what happens from here in my writing career, I will forever treasure comments from people like Sarah Pearson who once said she enjoyed catching up with my posts over a cup of coffee… really? Really? Wow… J

My writing has been *rocked* by this community, which is why I must bow out of the A-Z challenge and pull back from three posts to one post a week.

 My reason: WIP (and the words of the E.D.)
Let me just gather my A-Z ideas...
 I was sooo looking forward to A-Z…. I mean, gosh, I am (was?) #190 out of 1,300 plus. My twenty-six folders were ready... I had back up plans to my back up plans (honest!) I was ready to go. (I could have been a contender. Yes sir!)

And, then I realized…

I haven’t WIP’ed in about two weeks.

Two weeks.
Sure, I’ve been writing. I’ve been happily writing and blogging and hosting my O’hop, but only at night once our three boys (under five) are asleep and this stay-at-home dad can listen to something *not* recorded by The Wiggles or Larry the Cucumber. J

I’ve so enjoyed building relationships with many of you Writers and It. Sucked. Wind. pulling my A-Z badge.
I wish everyone all the very best during the upcoming month (and beyond!!) but there are no regrets :)

No regrets.

Only “lost” time, because I've been chickening out of my WIP responsibilities.

(Do you mind if I share something personal…?)

I’m scared to finish WIP.

I know I am a good writer, but I’m scared to pass the certain point (two-thirds that I’ve done) because if I do… I might finish.

And if I finish, what then?

(Knocks on outer shell of inner self) Dude, it’s me.

Oh, hey!

Then, you move on to WIP 2.0.


I won’t bother you with details… but I’ve built a major wall against the heartache of failure.
For most of my life, I’ve always courted attention.
Always been the one people gravitated to – always good for a laugh.
However, in certain things that I care about, I feel I'll always be inadequate:

As a man of God.

As a husband.

As a father.

As a writer.

...And then, several months ago, I found myself sitting in a small men’s group via church.
(It’s not specifically themed for "small men"– it’s a men’s group with a small amount of regulars… Leprechauns are not welcome...)

Sharing with these guys - and we're allll over the socio-economic map - helped me realize where my head was - and where it needs to be.

So you’re afraid to write the book and have the book fail?
It won’t... That's not ego... it’s too good of an inspirational story.
So, what’s the issue?

I’m scared!

You mentioned that...

OK, OK, so I’ve focused on blogging rather than WIP – because…

Yes, yes, you’re scared. (I’m scarred after reading this. So. Now. What?)

So, now it’s time for me to step up to the plate, pull back and move forward with WIP.

The plan is...?

To post every Wednesday, so I can still participate in IWSG and any other blog hop that fits. (All current committments i.e. critiques, reads, future blog hops in August, etc. will be sooo honored.)

Otherwise, my nose, eye and lip will be in WIP.

Offline, I would love to keep in touch with the many friends I’ve made in the last seven months. My email is always open and the comments will continue J

Thanks to every single person who’s following me, and I appreciate every follower who decides to bear with me :)

This ain't goodbye.

It’s just cheerio.

I’ll see you Wednesday, then.

Thanks Ali :)
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 26 comments

Got Green? Blog O'Hop Winners are...

Photo Courtesy: Rick @ Scarlett's Tattoo 
Finally, just as everyone got tired of waiting for the paint to dry, or the fourth leaf to grow on the Shamrock, here are the winners of my inaugural Got Green? Blog O’hop.

But, before I announce the winners, in reverse order, as they do in the Eurovision Song Contest, I would like to say a simple THANK You to Evah-reyone who stepped up to the plate and supported me on this sweet, Oirish journey.

I got a kick out of all the responses and there was one point there where I gave the A-Z Linky List a right run for its money (for about 3.8 seconds :)

From a total of thirty-eight eligible entrants (my wife’s guest post doesn’t count for the contest – but I loved hers the most :) I and the wee Leprechauns whittled it down to the Final Seven.

Honorable mention for 6th runner up (formerly known as “seventh place”) is: Ashley Nixon
Honorable mention for 5th runner up (formerly known as “sixth place”) is: Mandi
In fifth place, the winner of the Regular Size Box of Lucky Charms is: Hunter

In Fourth Place, the winner of the Family Size Box of Lucky Charms (gasp!) is: David Powers King

In “Thurd” Place, the winner of the Query Critique (by me) is: Darci Cole
In Second Place, the winner of the Three Chapter Read and Critique (by me) is: Theresa

And the winner of the 2012 Got Green Blog O’hop, (sponsored in part, by Lucky Charms… not) is:

The. Red. Head.
Whoot O’hoot!!

 Morgan wins an all-expense paid trip for two to Hawaii, (which she must pay for herself :) and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
Congrats to all the winners :) Please shoot me an email at mark.koopmans@yahoo.com and I’ll get your address, or figure out a timeframe for the critiques.
And now, the fun part… Morgan’s entry is below, or her full post is here.

(If you need the backstory on SIGGY, read this J )
The Ides of Ireland:
(By Morgan Shamy)
The crowd stood shoulder to shoulder, the early morning sun pounding down on our heads. The smell of sweat and unwashed bodies perforated the air and a baby wailed somewhere in the chaos. Hundreds surrounded the arena, some having been camped out for days.
I shifted my weight, my legs aching with the wait. But it was worth it. I’d stand here for another week to get a good look at Super Irish Guy, aka SIGGY.

Then he entered.

Face painted green, orange, and white, with parallel colors flowing from his back, he stood with his feet planted, one hand on hip, other clasping a mug of ale. His eyes scanned the crowd under his backwards baseball cap until they zeroed in on his opponent.

The small green man sat across the arena, one knee propped up, clover stuck between his teeth. His red hair was matted under his green top hat, an evil smile lurking at his lips.

“Do ye think he’ll win?” I asked the man next to me. “Lucky looks pretty smug.”
“Och, dinna fash, lassie. 'Course he’ll win. No one can stop the SIGGY.”

As if hearing our words, the SIGGY took one last swig of ale and tossed the mug to the ground. Lucky unfolded from his position and spit the clover from his teeth. The two faced each other in silence, as if waiting for the other to move.

Then Lucky charged. He pulled out a small dagger, the sun glinting dangerously off its shiny face. SIGGY grabbed the blade with one bare hand, unflinching, and ripped the weapon from Lucky’s grasp. But Lucky procured another blade and stuck it in SIGGY’s side, pinning him.

The crowd stopped. No one moved. But SIGGY smiled. He removed his cap. The sun bounced off SIGGY’s baldhead and burned Lucky like a magnifying glass to an ant, the heat sizzling him to a crisp.

The crowd erupted.

“Who's got yer Lucky Charms now!” SIGGY yelled. “Beware the Ides of Ireland!

Thanks Morgan, and everyone else. It was an O’blast.

Monday, March 26, 2012 43 comments

Cassie Mae In the Interview Chair :)

Aloha! Come in, come in, squish a little bit over there, will you. Great. Let’s try get everyone in.
OK, the reason I’ve asked everyone in early is to discuss a medical condition someone never mentioned before joining the Low Firm of Kram, Snampook.
It’s not company policy to divulge medical records with such bravado, so those who want to leave may do so.
(Half the room clears out with a WHOOT! WHOOT!)
Obviously, those remaining will now learn something gossip-worthy, so without any further ado, I present Cassie Mae and her overactive blabber. J

Wait a second! Half the room cleared out??? Do I smell? Gosh, I could’ve sworn I put on deodorant this morning… but that may have been yesterday.
I don’t care if you have a medical condition! Come back!!!

1.      Are you a glutton for punishment? Why did you evah say yes to me interviewing you? (Weird cackling noise escapes from interviewer’s mouth…)

I have a problem saying no. People ask, I deliver. Truth or Dare is a game you do not want to play with me. :)

     2.      You seem to have many fingers in many pies here on the Blogofear… Seriously, how do you organize yourself… because you are one of the smartest and supportive bloggers I’ve “met.” I know you do the Dew, but did you also patent the formula for that 5-hour energy drink thingy?

Did you say pie? I’m not a fan of pie, but the Asphalt Pie at Winger’s??? I mean, just look at this thing!

Besides that, I’m not an organized person at all! Not sure if I’m qualified to answer this question. I drink Mountain Dew, but sadly, not every day. (Crap gets expensive after a while. Send me a case, and you’ll be my best friend!)

Best answer I can give you? I schedule my posts out, that way I have time to read blogs in the morning instead of writing my own. Then, I participate in a lot of stuff because really, I need to fill the schedule up! No one wants to hear all the crazy stories and habits I have. I think I’d lose all my followers. :)

No, no, I think that’s *why* half of us love seeing a new postJ

 3.      What about the home life. How do you balance being a mom, wife and blogger?

I think God made me with energy-laced blood cells. I can’t seem to stop! Always bouncing, running, blogging, writing, reading, coaching (ya, I coach a wicked sports team!), and yet I only get about 5 hours of sleep at night. Honestly, I have NO IDEA how I get it all done. Just when I commit to something I do it all out!

Whatever it is… bottle it, it’s workingJ

 4.      Why Mountain Dew? Seriously, have you never heard of a Non-fat  Venti Chai Latte (with soy) and an extra shot? Puhleez…

I have a strong attachment to the Dew. Good friend of mine got me addicted and fed that addiction by buying me a 12 pack every birthday growin’ up cuz the parents weren’t too tolerant of Dew-ed up Cassie. (I don’t blame them, lol.)

And you lost me at Non-fat.

I used to live in Southern California, and I heard some dude at Starbucks say “Non-fat” helps the hair follicles restore themselves…

 5.      I have about 195 followers, you have 67,012 and we both started at the same time – August 2011. So, OK, I suck, right, but what’s your secret to attracting and keeping followers? (Do you have a really, really large family, and everyone’s following you?)

I have two family members who follow me officially. And one of them is actually me under my hubby’s name. I’m a huge dork and when I first started the blog, I was sad I didn’t get many comments, so I signed the hubs up and commented as him, lol.

Then my sister reads my posts, but she doesn’t have a blogger acct. Then of course Mommy, cuz she’s my number one support!

Oh! You asked a question. Silly me! I like how you said ‘attracting’. I’m a better ‘de-tracter’, lol. But I’m not sure what happened to be honest. I joined the IWSG, which helped, and I’ve run a few blogfests that required a follow. (hehe) But other than that, it just sort-of happened.

As for keeping the followers, you got me on that one too. Geez, I’m not very helpful am I? Are you sure you wanna call me smart?

I know this answer is getting freakishly long, but I can say comment the snot out of every blog post you read, no matter how stupid you sound. I pretty much make a fool of myself on every comment I leave (sexy butt comment, anyone? ;) ), and next thing I know I’ve got a few new followers.

Apparently, geeks are in these days. :)

You signed up and commented as hubs… that is soooooo funny (I hope you never replied to one of your comments J)

 6.      What’s the biggest mistake a writer can make when they first start blogging… apart from following me, apparently?

The only reason that would be a mistake is because they’d be too distracted and laughing too hard to write ;)

Biggest mistake I can think of is coming off too cocky, or too many posts about how awful some other author is, or how they think they’re a much better writer… you know crap like that you don’t think people do, but they do! It just boggles my mind. Be nice, be you, and be supportive. That’s the best thing about this community. But no one wants to support the person who seems to do it for themselves already.

Very sound advice from the Queen of Keeping it Real J

 7.      Have you ever wondered if Alex J. Cavanaugh actually sleeps?

I have a theory… Alex J. Cavanaugh is actually 400 people under one alias. Like on Clone Wars.

Caption: We are Alex. We must read 3,000 blogs and write 50,000 books by sundown.

Classic!!! – But, we all wish we could do it like you, Ninja Captain J

 8.      Why are all the cool writers from Utah? What is *in* y’alls darn water over there yonder?

Did you just call me cool??? I don’t think I’ve ever been called that!!! Sweet!

There’s lots of stuff in the water here. Something that busts out awesome writers, casserole makers, baby makers (hehe), and also something that tells us carrots in Jell-O is okay. I think I’m immune to that side-effect though.

You had me until the carrots in Jell-O….. ewww, but Utah does have some cool writer peeps… like Brendon Mule… what? That’s not his name? J

 9.      Speaking of names, “Calinda Me” is a unique one… so unique I can never remember it…. What’s the history behind Cassie Mae?

You ask some personal questions my friend, lol. I’m about to get super cheesy on you. You ready for it???

My best friend started calling me Cassie Mae in HS, and the hubs calls me Cassie Mae when he’s being all cute and lovey. That name hits a good spot for me, and when I started the blog, I wanted the community to think of me as their friend and that we could have that close relationship I share with the friends I get to physically interact with.

Not cheesy at all. Cheese is good. I’m so cheesy, the people of Wisconsin will one day welcome me as the CheeseMan.

 10.  And finally…how did you end up with that unique profile pic?

It’s unique?? Haha, it’s one of MANY that I take of myself. And no, you’re not going to see all of them… but here’s another. Ignore the glitter that exploded on my face!

Cannot. Get. Off. Floor. Peeing. Myself.


       Thanks Cassie, it’s been hilariously real being real.
      Thanks Mark! You are full of awesomesauce, in case you didn’t know that already. ;)

      You can follow Cassie Mae here, and as an added bonus, Cassie is starting up a group blog that launches on April 1. (This is not an early April Fool’s jokeJ)
      She’s got some amazing writers joining her there, so keep your eyes on her blog for the chance to follow her somewhere else :)
Friday, March 23, 2012 16 comments

Blog O'hop Contest; Random. House.


Oh, I forgot to add one thing to Monday’s Post-Paddy’s Day O’hop… Gen just wanted me to say a big *THANKS* to everyone for your kind and wonderful comments (she was really shy about doing this… now she’s walking around the home, rubbing my bald head for good luck and she hasn’t stopped calling me SIGGY for two days.

Who needs Lucky Charms when I have a Green Cake :)
(Thank. You. Morgan :)

No. 1 Son also wants to let everyone know that “his” St. “Patlicks” Day cake was hands down his favorite five-day-old cake “ever.”

PS. The Semi-finalists have been chosen in the Blog O’hop contest and the WINNERS will be revealed Wednesday.

Why not Monday, Mike, er, I mean Mark?

Well, it’s because I’m got an Interview scheduled.

(It’s CASSIE J )

After her weirdly unique interview of me, it’s time for the return keg, er, leg. The bonus is that Cassie has a major announcement to share, so I hope you can stop by to check her Interview here this coming Monday.

Speaking of homes…

You didn’t?

I did.

Did not.

Did so, just way back up there...


Gen’s going around the home calling me SIGGY…

Ohhh, OK, got it. Sorry.

No problemo,

 Anyhow, so I live in a Random. House.


No, no, you’re good, please go on…

Thank you.

You're Welcome!

...As such, I found this old musing and wanted to share:

Five things about being a stay-at-home dad

·         I’m outnumbered at any homeschool meetings… (There’s always a mini meet-and-greet and I am generally the only husband, which puts a new spin on "hanging with the Ladies" :)

·         Phantom pregnancies EXIST…. I’m still trying to shed the extra pounds.

·         I’m a bad parent. (I’ve only gone and nearly forgotten the new, precious, sweet, kind baby a couple of times at Costco :)

·         A full night’s sleep is something I can only dream about J

·         And the truth is being a stay-at-home dad to three boys is I wouldn’t change anything J

More Random. House up next, following this short commercial break…

“Word Verification Sucks… and I ain’t scared of the Blogmen.”

We return you to tonight’s extended edition of Random. House (brought to you by CAPTCHA.)

·         Six degrees of Blog-separation.

Have you ever suffered from BlogSuckedMeInitis. It happens to me a lot, (for good reasons) but then (all of a sudden) I find myself four blogs away from where you started??

On Tuesday, I had a guest post at the Writer’s Dojo.

I noticed Cassie had posted right below me, the day before.


I went to say hi, which is when I saw a comment from Emily.

Emily had L.G guest posting.

L.G. mentioned Nancy had just signed a book deal (YahhY!).

I shot over to Nancy, left my congrats and then leaned back in the chair

Where was I originally going before I stumbled over Cassie’s post???

I still can’t remember!!!
Did anyone check the steak before we served it?

And finally, this is a steak I cooked the other day. Now, I'm thinking I should have posted it up on eBay:)
(I told you this was Random. House.)

Happy Friday, y'all :)
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 11 comments

Guest Post On Inspiration (at The Writer's Dojo.)


I'm not normally a Tuesday person, but author Ali Cross over at The Writer's Dojo was kind enough to ask me to guest post about what inspires me.

You can read the post here.

Ali Cross (but she never is :)
The dojo is Ali’s creation, who found herself regularly blogging about the things that mattered most in her life – her faith, her family and her own place in the world.

As a martial arts student, she became aware that the overarching principles of martial arts could (and should) be applied to everyday life. As she blogged about these things, her blog became a dojo of sorts – a training room for other like-minded writers and readers who were looking for a way to bring balance into their lives.

Feel free to wander (and join) the dojo, which offers new posts Monday through Friday.
Thank you, Sensei Ali, for the opportunity to share some of my inspirations with The Writer's Dojo.
I hope this Irish Grasshopper did not let you down :)
Monday, March 19, 2012 18 comments

Post Blog O'hop news - & Photo Caption Winner :)


I'm writing this and it’s 1 a.m. on Post-Paddy’s Day Party and I am just in awe!

I snatched and scribed just a little on Paddy’s Day itself, but as you can imagine it was a crazy day!

Got Green? Check.
I started at 7:30 a.m. with our men’s group meeting outside of Starbucks. (I was wearing a green shirt and an Irish Viking hat…. SIGGY would have been proud :)

Then it was time to prep for a party of five… or fifteen, or maybe just two…?
(We invited the neighborhood over for “a few pints and a dodgy dog” about two weeks ago, but never followed up with O’fficial invites – yeah, we’re *sooo* organized :)

Indeed, my wife and I were in a minor pickle (buy a jar or not?) about the number of attendees to our first annual Hawaiian Paddy’s Day Part-ee.

Not having the time to check and respond to emails and tweets, I was able to steal glances and watched as my inbox lost it like a contestant on The Price is Right.

I rarely, *if ever* go to bed with more than a couple of unread emails (OCD anyone?) so you imagine my mind-boggledness as I just looked at my inbox with a current list of SIXTY-TWO unread emails (and *none* are anonymous ;)

Currently, (Sunday evening) I am working my way through the thirty-eight official entrants of the Got Green? Blog O'hop - and will announce the winners in about a week. Watch this space :)

I am in awe of this community, and am so grateful I fell into this patch of what I used to call “the BlogO’fear.”

Morgan, Cassie, Rek, Leigh, Melissa, Mel, David, and everyone else – thanks so very much just for believing in my weird-ass idea to do a Blog O’hop.
I am eternally grateful…and should we ever arrange for a meeting in an Irish Pub, please know that the first round of Water (with ice and lemon) is ON ME!

Sarah's Caption: "This is gonna be a shoo(e)-in :-)
The winner of the Photo Caption is Sarah Pearson, and Sarah now wins the amazing prize of making me write a 500- word flash fiction story in *any* genre based on this one  picture…

The deadline is Friday, while the “story” will post sometime the week of March 25.

Sarah, please post your “requirements” (sigh) in the comments and I’ll go from there.

Oh, and speaking of next week, Cassie Mae will be interviewed by me in the return leg of our battle of “he said, she said more.” :)

PS… Happy belated Mother’s Day (March 18) to all the Moms in Europe, especially me Ma in Dublin…
How’s it going Ma!!! I hope you like the flowers we sent you… (Just be careful, ‘cos the invoice is in the bottom of the vase, and they’ll need to be paid by the end of the week:)

PPS… Is it OK if I don’t mention the words “Green” and “Got” until Cinco de Mayo and please don’t worry if you see me weeping the next time the UN-Lucky Charms fall to the ground :)
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