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Local Author Pens Story for Anthology

Fairfax woman's story about Christmas will appear in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.

When Whitney Von Lake Hopler was a child, she loved writing so much that she willingly wrote papers for extra credit. As she grew older, her passion didn't stop. She majored in English at George Mason University, wrote for the Times-Community Newspapers and edited a section on Crosswalk.com, a Christian Web site.

"I love to write. I celebrated the first official publication of my work when I was 10 years old," said the 32-year-old.

Hopler's latest publishing credit will be a story for the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" anthology. The anthology, "Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas Treasury for Kids," is a collection of Christmas stories for children with 25 stories, one each for Dec. 1 to Christmas Day. Hopler's story will be for Christmas Eve.

The story, about a lost pet that returns home early Christmas morning, was actually written in 1997. Hopler had initially sent the story to a magazine, which then returned it because they had just run a similar story. The magazine told her to send her story to the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" editors, who were planning to publish an anthology for pet lovers.

Five years later in 2002, she received a phone call from out of the blue. The editors tracked down her brother-in-law's phone number in Maryland, who then gave them Hopler's number. The editors told Hopler that they almost selected her story for the pet-lovers book, but decided to hold it for the children's treasury.

"You never know what's going to happen to one of your stories," Hopler said.

HOPLER hopes her next project will be an inspirational romance novel. She just finished writing the proposal for the book.

"I see my writing as a ministry or calling," Hopler said.

Her husband Russ Hopler also said her writing is her mission.

"It's very much ingrained in her as a person," Russ Hopler said.

Other friends and family of Hopler admitted that they were proud of Hopler's achievements. Growing up, her mother told her bedtime stories about a robot named Walter, and her father saved a copy of everything she wrote.

"They've always been very supportive. That was tremendous encouragement to me when I was growing up," Hopler said.

Friend and fellow writer Annie Lienert will host a book signing for Hopler's book on creativity that came out earlier this summer.

"She's intense, but in a soft-spoken way. She's full of life and ideas. The more I get to know her, the more I find interesting things about her," Lienert said. "She loves to tour factories and see how all things are made. To me, that shows her intellect."

Besides the romance-novel project, Hopler hopes she can inspire more people with her writing.

"I want to encourage and inspire writers," Hopler said. "Words are powerful."