Our Book Is Out In The World! Part 1: Author Copies

It’s been a busy few months and we realized with all our social media posting that we missed sharing the big news here on our blog. OVER IN THE WOODLAND is out in the world!

I’ll share more of the backstory in detail soon, but the release date changed several times, especially with the pandemic, and it ended up coming out both later & earlier than expected on July 21, 2020.

We received our author copies in the mail at the beginning of July and met at our local library to open the boxes together with our families.

Holding our real book – turning the pages and reading it to our kids –
was just as magical as I’d imagined it could be.
Celebrating with husbands & our little humans nine!

The ABCs of Supporting an Author You Love

Shar and I have received so much love and support for Over in the Woodland from our dear family and friends. We appreciate it beyond words! As authors, we have put our whole hearts into writing this story and then making it the best version possible so that it can *hopefully* be enjoyed by families for years to come. It has truly been a labor of love!

As release day is coming up (next week!!!) we have had many people ask how they can help us. That is a fantastic question! Getting the book into the reader’s hands is an essential aspect of a book’s success as well as the author’s ability to continue publishing. There are a variety of simple ways YOU- as an author’s family member, friend, or fan- can help with a book’s success!


A- Attend the author’s events/book launch – Events are a fun way to interact with the author, celebrate their book, and ask questions about the process.

B- Buy the book – If you enjoy the genre, adding it to your home library gives you the ability to re-read it whenever you or your kiddos would like!

C- Check out the book from your local library – If they don’t have it on their shelves, you can request it. This is an awesome way to help the author and their book reach more communities!

D- Discuss the book – Share it on social media, recommend it to friends, read it with your book group- the power of word of mouth is phenomenal and goes a long way in helping a book get into the hands and homes of those who wouldn’t have found it otherwise!

E- Engage with the author – Send them a note if you love their book, follow them on instagram or facebook, let them know you appreciate their work. There is nothing better than hearing from readers how your story has impacted them.

F- Fan Reviews – If you read the book and you’re a fan leave a review on sites where it’s sold and goodreads.com. Reviews greatly influence others choosing to purchase the book, if sites promote the book, and in overall exposure. Make an author’s day and leave a review!

G- Give the gift of reading – If you don’t want a copy for yourself, gift it to the readers in your life!

We hope this list helps you find one or seven things you’d enjoy doing to support an author you love. Happy Reading, friends!

favorite read-alouds

As chosen by the number of times our kids have asked us to read them aloud and we all still love them:

El Deafo by Cece Bell
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Zombelina by Kristyn Crowe
James & the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Bye-Bye, Big Bad Bullybug! by Ed Emberley
by Ian Falconer
Possum Magic by Mem Fox
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
The Adventures of Thor the Thunder God by Lisa Lunge-Larsen
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
The Antler Boy and Other Stories by Jake Parker
He Came with the Couch by David Slonim
So Many Bunnies by Rick Walton
There Is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
Piggies by Audrey Wood
The Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz

we are not diminished

I was at lunch with several friends today and our conversation brought to mind one of my very favorite quotes about comparison. Which in turn made me think of this post I wrote for my private journalog about four years ago. I went home to find it and was grateful all over again for the words of my wise far-away friend (who still lives far away and who I called for advice and perspective with a difficult decision just last week. I love her.)

I’m sharing my original post here because it’s a reminder I still repeat to myself whenever feelings of envy or inadequacy start to creep in. It’s brought me a lot of peace and helped me to more fully celebrate the joys and successes of others.


i emailed a far-away friend of mine today. just a quick message, with a few lines that explained my current overwhelmed and feeling-inadequate-in-every-way state. part of my feelings of inadequacy came from seeing the great accomplishments of another friend – she’s a writer! she actually writes books! she has a crazy busy life, and yet she makes the time to write. i am so happy for her accomplishments and so inspired by her determination.

and yet, instead of focusing on how happy i was for her, i let my selfishness creep in by comparing myself to this beautiful, wonderful writer friend of mine. i took her accomplishment and twisted it around to focus on my failure. i said to myself: i am a wannabe writer who has studied and thought about writing more hours than i’ve actually done it. i’ve started a novel that has now sat unfinished for more years than i want to admit. what is my problem?

and i sent that last question off in an email to my far-away friend.

her response:

About Writer Friend. Wow is right. That girl. So incredible! Writer Friend rocks and so do you. You have no problem! You haven’t finished your novel yet, but that’s ok. What’s not ok is constantly feeling like you’re behind or not enough! I hate to see my friend feel that way. You are leading such a meaningful, and in so many ways, selflessly full life. Don’t forget that, and don’t get discouraged comparing yourself to others. If you are true to yourself and what you feel God wants you to be doing, then you will be able to look back and be proud of the way you spent your time and what you accomplished. When we see what others are able to get done, we don’t see what they leave undone, or what we would have to leave undone if we took the same path.

i cried because she loves me and i cried because she is right.

how we—writer friend, far-away friend, me, you, everyone—are each leading our lives is meaningful. it’s different for each of us, and what i can accomplish today won’t be the same as what someone else can. and that’s okay. i can celebrate others accomplishing their dreams without being jealous about the state of mine. i can choose to let joy for you and your success help me grow and be a happier person. even inspire me to make positive changes at the right time for me and my family.

or i can choose to darken that joy with envy and unhappiness.

why do i ever choose the latter?

as soon as i read her words, i was reminded of this quote by Jeffrey R. Holland:

May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed.

i love this truth so much!

i am grateful for friends who inspire me and friends who listen, for friends who lift me up when i’ve crumpled in a self-pity heap and gently remind me that there is light and there is God and there is me.

i am not diminished when writer friend writes and publishes her amazing novels or because far-away friend recently started my dream job. guess what: we all rock.

and so do you.

i quote: on writing

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. –Anaïs Nin

I don’t know about lying for novelists. I look at some of the great novelists, and I think the reason they are great is that they’re telling the truth. The fact is they’re using made-up names, made-up people, made-up places, and made-up times, but they’re telling the truth about the human being—what we are capable of, what makes us lose, laugh, weep, fall down, and gnash our teeth and wring our hands and kill each other and love each other.  –Maya Angelou

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.  –Richard Wright, American Hunger

I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.
–James Michener

Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else. –C.S. Lewis

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.  –Isaac Asimov

Ink on paper is as beautiful to me as flowers on the mountains — God composes, why shouldn’t we? –Terri Guillemets

i never think at all when i write
nobody can do two things at the same time
and do them both well
–Don Marquis

The faster I write the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them. –Raymond Chandler

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment.  –Hart Crane

not just surviving, but enjoying, road trips with kiddos

Jeff and I have settled our family in UT, even though neither one of us grew up here.  As a result, our parents, many of our siblings, and most of our extended family lives far away, which means plenty of road trips to visit!  We usually travel at least once a year to either CA (a 10+ hour drive ) or TX (a 20+ hour drive) and have more destinations planned soon!  Our last trip to Texas we jokingly called the Tour de Texas, because we traveled all over the state to see various family members.  In all- it was over 4500 miles of travel with 4 kids ages 9,7,5, & 3.  And it was wonderful!  Seriously- our boys were dream travelers and we had such a great time together- thanks to a few things we figured out early on.  We’ve now added another little one to our family and she made our latest trip quite exciting. But our road trip plan still worked, with a few modifications!  I know each family is different, but I hope some of our tips and tricks can help you on your next family adventure!


(grumpy faced kiddo decided he doesn’t like pictures, but he had a great time on our trip and was an absolute star traveler!)

Our family road trip tips:

  1.  Pack a travel bag for each child:  This bag includes small activities that they can easily do themselves, a couple of books to read (buy a few new ones, or check some out from the library if you think you won’t lose them), treats or snacks that are just for them, a change of clothes, 1-2 small toys to play with, and any comfort object they need.  My  kids really love packing their own bag and even though it takes up more space, it really cuts down on fighting and losing things. We make sure there are colored pencils in each bag or at least in each section of the van. That way they don’t have to pass them back and forth and possibly drop them in the process. (no crayons because they melt- we found that out the hard way one trip!)  Our kids usually end up sharing, but they like having their own bag they have packed themselves.
  2. Pack snacks that won’t melt and are not messy:  When kids are bored, they get hungry. We like to have plenty of snacks available- but they have to be easy to eat and easy to clean. We usually have a couple of treat-type snacks, but then lots of fruits and veggies.  Sliced apples, carrots, cucumbers, raisins, pretzels, etc. all work well for us.  And I have to let go of the fact that the car WILL get messy. 7 people living in a tiny space while we travel= mess. That’s ok.
  3. Trash time: to combat the mess we have a trash bag in the back of the car and a trash bag in the middle.  At each pit stop we collect all trash and take it out.
  4. Individual water bottle for each kid: They keep it beside them in the car. We refill at pit stops. We don’t drink soda in the car.
  5. All meals are eaten EN ROUTE:   Eating is an activity that takes TIME.  And usually needs to be done while sitting. Since we are stuck sitting  in the car, and tend to get bored while there, eating meals WHILE DRIVING means our pit stops aren’t wasted sitting down and the eating keeps us occupied for some of the drive time.  Usually the driver will try to eat quickly while we are busy with our pit stop activities.  Then the rest of the family eats during the drive.  I found simple plastic , divided containers at the $1 store that have lids. So i pack a simple lunch meal in those and pull them out at lunch time.  Usually those meals aren’t very messy so i shake out the crumbs and put the lids on when we’re finished. Then when we get dinner- i divide them up in the containers and use them again. If they get messier this time, it’s ok, I just stick on the lid and save clean up for when we reach our destination or stop at a hotel.
  6. Pit stop activities: Pit stops are our time to be active and get moving.  One parent will fill up the car with gas while the other takes everyone to the restroom.  Restroom trips are mandatory for everyone each time we stop.  After that is taken care of, we will go get food (if it’s one of the meals we’re eating out). During this time, one parent will order the food while the other leads the kids in our fun exercise routine.  We do not play in the fun houses at fast food restaurants.  After getting sick one too many times, we only do outside play. If we can’t find a good parking lot or space, we find a park to burn off energy. We’ve found some pretty nice places to get our wiggles out and try to keep track of which cities have the best amenities.
  7. Exercising/stretching routine:  Touch our toes, hold a lunge on each side, stretch out arms, stretch hips and quads, 10 squats, 10 lunges each side, 10 jumping jacks, 10 high knees or butt kicks, then we will race to a specified spot. (a tree, or phone pole, etc.) If we still feel wiggly we’ll do it again.  We try to make most pit stops 30 minutes, if we do a longer one we will find a park and stop for 45 minutes. We’ll play catch or frisbee, or race each other.  Anything but sit!
  8. Movies:  I feel bad even saying this, but they are part of our trips so I can’t pretend we don’t use them!  The kids get to rotate choosing movies.  We always start with independent activities,  listen to music, and play silly car games together.  When we need a break, we watch a movie. Then the routine starts again.  We haven’t tried books on tape, yet, but that’s coming on our next road trip for sure!
  9. Essential oils:  We wash our hands and sanitize a lot.  And we faithfully use On-guard to build up our immune system and kill those germs before we catch anything.  Vacations are hard- your entire routine is thrown off and you are usually not getting as much sleep as normal. Until we started using On-guard we would have a pretty major sickness occur each vacation. It was miserable. And I can honestly say that since using it, we have not had a single sickness happen while on vacation. So worth it.
  10. Last but not least:  Let things go & stay positive: This has been a hard one for me, . I internalize a lot and I’m a naturally emotional person.  I want vacations to be PERFECT- after all, this is our one time a year (or two) we see some of these people we love so dearly.  But kids will be kids, meltdowns will happen, someone’s routine or plans will look different than what you thought, and plans will change in the course of a week or a day,  and all of that is OKAY.  Just remember- you love these people and life is never, ever perfect. Especially on vacation.  Laugh it off, let it go, and enjoy your family.

Don’t miss part II- baby travel modification tips coming soon!

DIY book wall


This is one of my favorite walls in our home. Someday it will end up in my office/library, once I actually have one. But for the past several years I’ve loved having it front and center in our girls’ bedroom.

One night I was describing what I envisioned to my husband, but I couldn’t think how to get pictures flush against the wall without spending a ton of money on frames or canvas. I wanted something that would be affordable, lightweight, easily hung with command strips, and sturdy enough to handle all the moves I knew would be coming up (this was pre-grad school). He suggested I put the pictures on wood and volunteered to pick it up and cut it all out for me. (Yes he’s awesome like that. <3)

It was a big project that took multiple hours over about a week, but the effort was completely worth it. And lately I’ve been thinking that I need to add some of our recent picture book favorites to it.

Tutorial coming soon!