Entrepreneur Hope Alcocer recently published her debut novel, Where Hope Lies—a story that follows the journey of Chloe Repaco, a 20-something college graduate in love with a soldier stationed overseas. It's a story of love, heartache and pain. And it's inspired by Alcocer's own emotional journey.
Where Hope Lies was in such great demand, it sold out within 36 hours of being published. (Don't worry: It's restocked, and Alcocer is offering a special discount to West Michigan Woman readers. Order an autographed copy on www.wherehopelies.com, and take $4.99 off by entering the coupon code WMICHWOMAN.)
Here, Alcocer shares her journey as a successful entrepreneur and budding author, and what she loves about where she got her start: West Michigan.
Tell us a little about yourself. Who is Hope Alcocer?
I'm 29. I moved to Hastings, Michigan, from Chicago when I was 11 and then attended Grand Valley State University. I was very active in West Michigan organizations like 4-H, Grand Rapids Young Professionals, GVSU To Write Love on Her Arms and my home church, Thornapple Valley Church. I always had to have my hands in some project or organization, and West Michigan provides such an array of diverse options for each stage of my life. I have a very close-knit family who reside there still.
I moved to New York City when I was 26, not knowing a soul. One-way ticket, two suitcases kind of deal. I was an independent contractor for marketing and public relations at the time, and a long-term client in the music industry asked me to make the move and work for them full time. Moving to NYC and making such a big leap was one of the highlights of my life. Now, I work as a creative ambassador at a remote tech company based out of Chicago.
I'm passionate about my career and helping other young women get to where they want to be in life. I love mentoring young professionals, helping them to see their true potential and find their "IT" factor. I'm also passionate about music—I can't sing or play to save my life, but music has healed me and helped me throughout my life in so many ways. It's been an honor to work in the music industry, any way I can.
What inspired Where Hope Lies?
Once upon a time, I was a military significant other. We maintained a long-distance relationship during and after his deployment in Afghanistan. During that time, I was undergoing quite a few trials and tribulations: a brain injury, seizures every day, mental health issues—all while trying to finish school and launch my career. I was in a living hell on many different fronts. But you can't talk to your solider about all of that. Well, you can, but why would you? They're fighting for their life over there.
So I blogged.
I shared my hardships and loneliness with other military significant others on Tumblr, and it became a hit. I ended up deleting the blog, but saved many entries, which serve as the foundation for my story. Halfway through writing the story, several real-life events took place that I felt served as great inspiration for fiction.
Your novel chronicles the love, heartache and pain of 20-something Chloe Repaco. As a 20-something yourself, why did you feel it was important to focus on this age?
It's such a critical period in life. You're discovering yourself and your message to the world. Up to this point, you've lived following the path, direction and "shoulds" of those around you—and now it's time for you to decide your truths, and what is most important to you. It's also a time where many make critical relationship decisions, and that's where this story begins and ends. In the story, Chloe struggles and questions each milestone along the way.
How did growing up in West Michigan shape your life? Your novel?
I would not be the successful person I am today if it wasn't for my upbringing in West Michigan. The support and community—combined with the warmth and love that a place like this can only bring—was influential as I built my brand and defined the woman I am today.
I launched a freelance writing/media firm right out of college, as well as an online women's empowerment magazine (KHLOE 2011-2013). With each project and chapter of the project, my local community gathered together in some way, shape or form to lend a hand to make dreams and projects a reality.
While major metropolitan cities are great, I think you'll find that everyone somewhat keeps to themselves and doesn't go out of their way to help one another and network the way my home city does. Developing my entrepreneurial and business skills in a loving, supportive and warm environment in my early 20s allowed me to take on the world and prepared me for the next steps in both my personal and professional life.
It's also wonderful that now, even 700 miles away, I still have that network and community back home. When my book launched, my first and No. 1 fan base propelling it to its success was my community back in West Michigan. That's not something you ever forget—that's something you'll always remember and hold close to you.
What do you miss about West Michigan?
As I mentioned, you're really on your own in a city like New York. You have to go out of your way to make connections and network because everyone is too busy living their own lives to really pause and take any time to take an interest in yours. West Michigan is not like that. You have that big city vibe with a small town heart. It's rare, valuable and something I'm privileged to say I came from.
What's next for you?
Believe me when I say I'm just getting started! I'll continue working my way up the ladder in the world of marketing and PR. I love what I do and the people I work with. Most recently, I'm working on my second book, an advice/self help book called 30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30. It features 30 lessons I—unfortunately—had to learn the hard way. Unfiltered, raw, comical advice on life, dating, sex, love, career and so much more. I'm having a blast writing it.