Video Blog: The Story Behind “Chasing Jupiter”

A lot of you have been asking me about this, so here it is: The complete story of how I came across the idea for my second book, “Chasing Jupiter”, due to be released this December.

Hint: Great book ideas can be discovered if you volunteer to help out with Sunday School at your church. That’s just the honest truth. ;)

-Rachel

P.S. Please, please watch the video so that you can see I don’t actually look like a half-alive seal. Can’t figure out how to change thumbnails under the “new and improved” Youtube settings. -_-

The Publishing Process

As all of you probably realize by now, this is a blog about my life and my thoughts and my ideas. And, obviously, a HUGE part of my life is writing, which is probably why I talk about it all the time! So while it never fails to amuse me to talk about James Dean, and vacations, and mortifying childhood memories, I always have to come back to writing and my life as a writer.

Today I thought I’d share with you all a sort of timeline of what the publishing process actually looks like. I remember before I was published being really curious as to what exactly happens in the real publishing world, and how long all of it really takes. So now that I’ve sort of figured it out (and I’m still learning, by the way), I thought I might share some of the details with all of you inspiring writers and avid readers!

As an example, I’m going to give you the timeline of my second book, Chasing Jupiter, from budding ideas to complete publication (which hasn’t even happened yet–so I’m going to have to guess a few things!)

April, 2011 – The beginning ideas of a new story entitled “Peaches for Sale” begin swimming around in my head and I start working on a word document (one month after my first book was published!)

May, 2011 – I call up my agent and let him know that I’m working on something new. We discuss the next book idea and both grow very, very excited. I promise to send him the first fifty pages soon.

July, 2011 – I finish the complete first draft of “Peaches for Sale”, which runs at approx. 46,000 words, and send it to my agent for review

August, 2011 – I have multiple hour-long conversations with my agent over the phone discussing my new book and brainstorming revisions to make it even better. He writes up his notes and sends the document back to me to edit.

November, 2011 - Zondervan starts asking my agent about my new book and when they can finally see it. We start realizing that we’ve got to get this thing finished and in their inboxes ASAP.

January, 2012 - After months of revisions and editing, I’m finally happy with “Peaches for Sale”, now at over 52,000 words, and give the okay for my agent to send it to my editor at Zondervan

February, 2012 - Zondervan accepts my submission and gives me an offer on my second book!

March, 2012 - I sign the contract for my new book and receive my first advance check from Zondervan

April, 2012 - Multiple creative geniuses at Zondervan meet and brainstorm title and cover ideas for the new book. They eventually email me with the suggested title “Chasing Jupiter”, which I absolutely love! It definitely fits the feel of the book and is much more versital than my previous title, which felt too summery.

I passed this sign on our way back from Florida. I guess I was “Chasing Jupiter” and I didn’t even know it!

May, 2012 - I finally get my hands on the cover to “Chasing Jupiter” and post it here, where I find out that all of you love it as much as I do! A release date for the book is set for December 2012.

May, 2012 - I set up a date to get new author photos taken for publicity purposes–when you’re a teenager, you can change a lot in just a short year and a half! I send a few of my favorites to my editor and publicist to use for promotional ads and the Zondervan website.

The main picture chosen by Zondervan to be my new author photo.

June, 2012 - I receive my first round of major edits from my editor at Zondervan. There’s a lot of work to be done to the book, but I know that all of it will work to make the story stronger and more cohesive for my readers. My deadline for revisions is July 20th.

September, 2012 - I begin making arragements for speaking engagments after the publication of my second book, including schools, libraries, homeschool conventions, and churches (By the way–if you are interested in having me speak at your school, church, or homeschool group, email me and we’ll see if we can work something out! REC804 at hotmail dot com)

At my first ever book signing in Philadelphia with my editor Jacque!

October, 2012 – I send in the dedication for Chasing Jupiter. I forgot about that forInterrupted and I really want something meaningful for this book!

I receive the second round of edits from my editor. This time it’s nothing major, just a few slight tweaks here and there. I give her the okay to make those changes and move on with the production of the book.

November, 2012 - My publicist and other Zondervan workers start putting out ads, arranging interviews, and preparing for the launch of Chasing Jupiter next month!

December, 2012 – I’m sent the mockup cover for the book and look over it to make sure there’s no mistakes, my name is spelled right, and my bio info is correct. Once I give the okay, the book goes to print!

Zondervan sends me the advance copies of my book several weeks before the publication date, as well as sending reading copies to hundreds of lucky bloggers all over the world! Soon, those bloggers will write reviews (good or bad) and start getting the buzz going about my new book. It’s a very scary thing!

My second novel, Chasing Jupiter, is released and should be available at your local bookstore!

Whew! Sometimes I forget about how much work goes into publishing a book! It certainly makes one want to take another vacation, haha! Like I said, this is all just leading up to the release date of the book. After the first of the year, I’ll start doing book signings and speaking engagements again, so like I said, email me if you’re interested in having me sign or speak somewhere near you!

-Rachel

Talking About “Chasing Jupiter”

Yep, you heard it from me first. The official title of my second book is “Chasing Jupiter”, and it’s due to be released in December of this year! Unbelievable, right? I, for one, cannot believe that there is a strong possibility of two Rachel Coker books being published in 2012. It’s absolutely surreal in the best way possible. Watching the whole publication process unfold with Interrupted was amazing, and I can’t wait to go through it all again with Chasing Jupiter! Getting to see the cover, the trailer, the advance copies… I’m just so unbelievably excited for it all!

Speaking of which, here is the cover art:

Cool, right? I love the down-to-earth, vintage-y feel and I’m definitely convinced that this is the perfect cover for the story line. Once you all read the book, you’ll have to tell me if you agree or not, but I’m really feeling it. I would describe the story as having a very cheery, quirky, homey style, and I think this cover fits it really well!

Okay, I know that you all are going to have like a gazillion questions, so I’m going to try to cut you to the chase and answer some of them myself! Using my superpower mind-reading skills, these are the first few questions that I’m thinking you’ll probably have. Here are my answers:

Q: What is this book about?

A: Chasing Jupiter takes place in the summer of 1969, and it revolves around the story of sixteen-year-old Scarlett Blaine, who is growing up in small-town Georgia with her quirky and dysfunctional family. Scarlett has a younger brother named Cliff, who is definitely the oddball of the group. Strange, sometimes moody, and always entertaining, Cliff definitely keeps Scarlett on her toes. Adding even more color to the picture is her eccentric grandfather, Grandpop Barley, whose world revolves around red ties and peanut butter. And then there’s Juli, Scarlett’s beautiful and rebellious older sister, who is doing everything she can to cause strains in the family. Together, they make up quite the loony bunch, and stick out like sore thumbs in the community.

But what starts off as a bright, fun-loving summer quickly down spirals into one of Scarlett’s biggest challenges yet. As the pressures of life and the demands of the outside world start to have their toll on her family, she must learn that protecting and cherishing those she loves is the most important job she has. Scarlett finds herself tottering on the brink of childhood and adulthood, afraid and uncertain about family, love, and the future. But the events that unfold that summer are big enough to change her life forever.

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for this book?

A: One of the main characters in this story, Scarlett’s younger brother Cliff, was the first big idea I had regarding this book. And his character was very much based on a boy that I had the pleasure of speaking to once at my church. He’s an autistic child, and I once chatted with him a bit after his Sunday School class. He showed me a list that he had written of all the things he wanted for Christmas. It was so adorable, and it said things like “1) One acrobat, 2) Two flying monkeys, 3) Three marching bands,” and so on. And I remember the last thing on the list was twelve rockets to Jupiter. And that just touched me so much. And I started thinking about this autistic boy, that none of the other kids really understand. They all think he’s weird and freaky and don’t really want anything to do with him. But underneath the moodiness and the eccentricity is this really sweet, amazing kid that I just love talking to.

And that’s how Cliff is, in my mind. All he wants is to be the first astronaut on Jupiter, which may seem like an impossible dream, but that’s all he really wants in life. It’s so simple. And Cliff may have had autism too, but of course no one knew what that was in 1968. To everyone else, he’s just a freak and a weirdo. But Scarlett sees past that to the real gem of a kid that Cliff is, and she has faith in him. And he has faith in her, too. And it’s that mutual love and friendship that really pushes Scarlett to make the right decisions, despite all her doubts and insecurities. It’s a book that’s about the power of family and trust, and I think that their relationship really highlights that.

Q: Did you come up with the title/cover yourself?

A: No, I did not! But it was a very collaborative process and I definitely had imput into what I wanted it to look like. I absolutely loved everything that Zondervan did with the making of this book and I think it is just spot-on! I definitely could not have done it better myself.

Q: Is this another Christian book?

A: Yes!  Although it doesn’t deal much with Christianity until later on the book, there is definitely a great, Christ-centered message there. 1968 was a very confusing time in America, spiritually speaking, and the story reflects a lot of the different movements going on. The hippie culture and Jesus movement are just two examples. But, despite all the craziness of the culture and its New-Age, hippie attitudes, this book has a great, clean, Gospel-centered message of what true Christianity looks like: Full reliance on God for satisfaction and peace.

Q: What’s up with the peach on the cover?

A: Hmm… Would it be really crummy of me to say, “Read it and find out!”? Yes, I suppose it would be. Well, maybe I’ll talk more about that later, but for now I’ll just say that there are peach pies involved in this book. Peach pies that have something to do with rockets to Jupiter. If that makes any sense at all. ;)

-Rachel

Sequels and Why I Hate Them

When the news first came out that I had written a second book that would be released later this year, the automatic gleeful question from everyone I talked to was: “Ooooh — Is it a sequel to Interrupted?” I got a few crestfallen faces in reply when I reluctantly answered, “No, sorry. It’s not. It’s a totally different book with a whole new set of characters.”

“But whyyyyyyy???? Why can’t you write a sequel to Interrupted? I loved that book/those characters/that setting.”

 

 

This is always an awkward situation. It doesn’t make sense to a lot of my readers why I wouldn’t want to go back to Interrupted and continue writing the story.They sometimes jump to the conclusion that I hate that book or those characters or that setting. Obviously, that’s not true. I don’t hate anything about Interrupted. However, there is one plain and simple truth:

I’m sick and tired of that book.

But wait — I don’t mean that in the way you think I do! I absolutely love my first novel and I really enjoy talking about it with people. It never fails to put a smile on my face when someone emails me to say that they enjoyed it. My voice always grows slightly higher when I ramble on and on about the book and how I published it. I truthfully do enjoy discussing Interrupted and hearing from people who enjoyed it.

That being said, I also feel like that book represents a certain period in my life that is closed now. When I first started writing Interrupted back in 2009, I was a much different person than I am now. And so the book reflected everything that was going on in my life and personality at the time. When I re-read the book now, I can definitely see huge chunks of who I was and what I thought about life and the world at fourteen years old. However, a lot of that is much different from who I am now. I’m older, and (hopefully!) more mature, with many different ideas about who I am and what I want out of life.

When you’re as young as I am, so much about yourself can change in just a few short years. So it’s very difficult for me to even think about re-approachingInterrupted and continue working on that story. While I’ll always have an emotional attachment to those characters and that story, I don’t relate to it as much anymore. And it’s so, so hard to write about something that you’re not emotionally in tune with anymore. I love Allie, but I understand her less now than I did when I was fourteen.

It’s a sad thing to be a writer, in some ways. You get these characters into your head and think about them constantly for months and months on end. They’re a part of everything that you do and everywhere you go. When having a normal conversation with a friend, you’re constantly searching for ideas and inspiration for scenes. When brushing your teeth, you start wondering what your character sees in the mirror and whether she likes it or not. When going to bed, you wonder if your character’s bed is hard or soft and whether or not they care. It’s so much different than just picking up a book, reading it, and moving on to something else in a few hours. No, as an author you have to keep coming back and coming back again and again.

By the end of the six or seven months it takes to write that book, you’re very tired of it, in a way. Sure, you’ll always love talking about it, and promoting it, and hearing what everyone else thinks about it, but it always feels like a chapter of your life has just ended. You stop writing that book and start working on something else. And then, before you know it, you’ve detached yourself from that story. It isn’t yoursanymore. Now it belongs to everyone, to read and judge and love or hate. And, as the author, all you can do is throw your hands up and say, “Well, I enjoyed it while it was mine.” And then you move on to something else.

That’s very much the way I feel about Interrupted. Once upon a time, those characters were everything to me. I lived, breathed, and slept them, in a totally non-creepy way. But that was years ago, and now I feel like they belong to everyone. I don’t understand Allie much better than a fifteen-year-old girl living in Ohio does. We can all enjoy her, and think about her,  but none of us are really qualified to write her sequel.

I was talking about this with my uncle one day, and he made some really wise remarks on the subject. “You’re not ready or qualified to write her sequel right now, Rachel. You’re still too young to really understand what it would be like. But wait a few years, and write a few more books, and then one day, when you really know what it means to grow up, you can go back and write about her life again.”

So maybe I’ll do that, or maybe I won’t. I think only time will tell. What I do know is that I still love Interrupted, no matter how tired I am of being in the heads of those characters all the time. That book will always be a part of who I am. It was a chapter in my life that was unlike anything I’d ever experienced up until then, and it will always stick with me. I hope that all of you who have read the book sort of feel the same way.

-Rachel

Wishful Movie Thinking…

I decided to do something fun today. One of the great things about being an author is living with the ever hopeful dream that someday–someday!–your book will be made into a movie. Wouldn’t it be amazing? I don’t let myself get too carried away with dreaming about that idea since it will probably never happen, but it is really cool to think about how absolutely amazing it would be to watch Interrupted on my television. That would definitely be a big moment in my book.

Anyway, I got a really fun question in an interview ages ago asking me who I would choose to cast as my main characters should Interrupted ever be turned into a movie. So I thought I’d share with you a few photos of what a movie version of Interruptedwould look like in my head, and you have to share what you would think! (Because it’s as much your story as it is mine!)

SETTINGS:

First, let’s talk about the settings of Interrupted. I usually think of three main buildings in the book.

Allie’s Tennessee Home: The first is obviously Allie’s home in Tennessee with her mother. I don’t think I actually described the physical home in the book, but I always picture a cute little cottage in the middle of the hilly countryside, with a beautiful garden and lots of open space.

This is the perfect house, I think. Too bad it’s a painting. I’m not sure if this house actually exists or not (I’m assuming it does), but this is definitely where Allie would live. If Interrupted ever becomes a movie, I am sending the company this photo and ordering them to find this exact house. Can’t you just see Allie looking out that top window at night, writing in her notebook? And I have to believe it has a garden in the back. I choose to just believe that.

Beatrice’s Victorian Home: The second big building I think of in the book is Beatrice’s house in Maine. In the book, this is described as being from the Victorian era, and being all white, with ”dozens of windows and red shutters and sharp points” . It also sits on a hill overlooking the ocean, which is a bit intimidating, I think. All in all, it’s very prim, formal, and feminine. Like this:

Definitely the kind of house that makes you want to keep your shoes on. I can see why Allie was intimidated. I think the above house would be perfect. I wonder if it overlooks the ocean?

Irene’s Diner: To tell the truth, when I was writing the book I just made up the look of the diner completely in my head. Wasn’t sure if anything like it existed in real life, but it seemed to fit in the book. So I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find a photo online to match the description in the book. But guess what? I did!!! Check this out:

So perfect, right? Just change the sign to read “Goodey’s Diner” and add a bright pink car in the parking lot. Voila! There you have it, folks.

CHARACTERS:

Now we get to the good part. Who would I cast to play all the main characters inInterrupted? Let the pickings begin…

Alcyone Everly, played by… Astrid Berges-Frisbey

Okay, so technically Astrid is a model and I’m not even sure she can act. But I heard she was in Pirates 4 (which I’ve yet to see, sadly) so she must be able to act a little. Whatever the case, she can learn. She will learn, because she was born to play Allie. When I think of Allie Everly, this is the only face I see. What do you think of our leading actress?

Sam Carroll, played by… Logan Lerman

Agh. Logan Lerman. Never mind the fact that he has those beautiful blue eyes and a knee-weakening voice. (How can a voice be attractive, you ask? I have no idea. But somehow his voice is) This decision really comes down the simple fact that Logan justis Sam. Look at him, girls. Can’t you just picture him sitting on that kitchen counter, pouring his heart out? Um, yes.

Charlie Cooper, played by… Alison Lohman

Or at least a young Alison Lohman. Because I think she’s like 32 now. But remember her in Big Fish? Take that face and add a spunky personality and you have Charlie. It’s a done deal.

Beatrice Lovell, played by… Honor Blackman

Okay, so I think that Honor Blackman is actually over 80, and Beatrice is only in her 60′s, but still. Look at that face. “A woman of age possesses much sage.” She’d be a cinch at playing Beatrice.

Irene Goodey, played by… Amy Adams

Of course Amy Adams was going to play Irene. Bubbly, ditzy red-head? That was a no-brainer, people. She’d play Irene fabulously and everyone would love her.

*

I think that’s just about everyone. So… What do you all think? Did I make any missteps? Anyone that you would love (or hate) to see play these characters?

-Rachel

When I’m Reading Reviews

Sometimes, I forget I wrote a book. Well, okay, not really. Now that I’m a full-fledged author, I’m kind of always thinking about writing and editing and speaking events and blogging. But sometimes I forget that I’ve already finished this book and that it’s out there in the world and people are reading it and talking about it. WhenInterrupted first came out, I used to Google my name about once a week and read what people had to say about it. That was waaaaay back in the first few days after its release (think March and April), so there weren’t very many reviews.

Well, just the other day I decided to Google myself again, for the first time in months, and see if anything new came up. I have to say, I was a bit surprised. Not only were there way more reviews than I had expected, but there are a lot of photos and interviews and blog posts of mine floating around out in cyber world. It’s a little bit scary, to say the least.

Anyway, I read through most of the reviews on Goodreads, and decided to share my thoughts on some of them here. Not sure whether or not you’ll find this interesting, but I thought it might be cool for you hear my perspective on what people are saying about my book.

Interrupted has a 3.91 rating on Goodreads, as of right now, and 105 reviews. Yeesh!

Let’s see, where to begin…

Reading Teen wrote, “Rachel Coker has written a novel with a Christian-based theme that is entertaining and interesting without being preachy or ‘goody two-shoes’.”

I must say, that is an immense relief. I always feel like I get the rep in my community for being “Miss Goody Two-Shoes”, and while I don’t mind it, it’s good to know that my novel wasn’t too predictable or  overly moral. I’m still trying to spice up my writing a bit and make it more interesting.

Jacqueline wrote, ”Really, only a few grammatical errors kept this from being a five star book.”

She gave it four stars. Which is still really sweet. And, yes, I caught those same errors and cringed over them. It was awful. But what fourteen-year-old is going to have perfect grammar, anyway? I’m still surprised none of my editors caught that, but whatever. It was still my fault, I guess.

Martha said, “I think I’ll give this one to my granddaughter at some point.”

Awwwwww! Old ladies (or middle-aged ladies) buying books for their grandkids is thebest! That always happens at a book signing, sometimes three or four times, and it always makes me smile.

Andrea Smith thought that, “Unfortunately, this book should be called ‘Disconnected’, rather than ‘Interrupted’. The entire story was disjointed and had no flow”.

Um, ouch. She gave it 1.5 stars, but that probably shouldn’t surprise me.

Muzik_gurl said, “This is a very cute Christian romance that takes place in the 50′s.”

Agh! 40′s, 40′s, 40′s!!!!! But, it’s okay, because she gave me a stellar rating and she seems really sweet. :)

Monica said, ”A great heart-wreching read. I cried, at least, 3 times.”

Aw, so sweet! I want to hug this Monica chick.

Brian McBride said, “To be honest, I was never one for Historical Romance – or rather, I’d never been interested in trying it. But this book shocked me, and not in a bad way. It took me a bit to get into it, but when I did, I enjoyed every page.”

I LOVE hearing about guys who read (and enjoyed!) Interrupted. Seriously, you don’t know how happy this makes me. :) I had a group of teenage guys buy a copy of my book at a homeschool convention in June, and while part of me thinks they were just trying to get my attention, the other part of me is really hoping that they read the book and like it. ;)

~Kate~ wrote, “I had stopped reading a book the other week because I found it a bit too sad and very close to home yet this one in the sadness department was worse and I was crying loads and even throughout the book yet I actually loved it and I think that was down to the beautiful style of writing by Coker.”

Somebody give me the address of this girl so I can go to her home and give her a hug. Like,  not in a creepy way or anything. I’d just love to show up on her doorstep on a rainy night in a bright yellow raincoat or something, singing “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” and then showering her with hugs. Because I really like her, and I loved reading her review.

And, last, but not least, this is my absolute favorite review ever of Interrupted. I love it so much that when I first read it, I took my laptop around the house and read it to everyone else. Because I think that this woman really understood exactly what the book was about, and that made me feel absolutely fantastic. So here is kindlemom1′s review of Interrupted, unabridged:

“Rachel Coker’s debut novel Interrupted was such an endearing read.

I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Allie. From an early age she had a lot of responsibility on her little shoulder’s, taking care of a very sick mother. My heart went out to her for all of her struggles and heartbreak.

But while I understood the way she was, so aloof and hardened I couldn’t help wanting to be sad for her too, not because of what she was going through, but because of what she couldn’t see that was right in front of her the whole time.

For the things that she was missing and for hardening her heart against being loved and loving someone else.

I love that this book was set during the era of WWII, I love reading stories set in this time period.

And while I know that the time period wasn’t all full of romance and love (I mean there was a very real and very horrible war going on with lots of people dying every day) I can’t help but think of handsome young men in their uniforms and women in pretty dresses falling in love. When men were gentlemen and women were ladies. There is just something fascinating about the time period that never ceases to amaze me so I really did enjoy the novel taking place between the years 1939 and 1945.

Allie really was a great character. She was downright mean at times but there was always that underlying edge to her that made you wonder what was underneath all that harshness. At times her soft and caring side came through just a little bit. Just enough to let you know that she wasn’t completely hardened and completely lost.

Sam was a great character. I love how strong and steady he was for Allie. Always being there and taking her crap like he did and loving her all the more for it. He truly was the best thing for her.

Beatrice and Irene were such great secondary characters. I love how much they cared and loved Allie. How they never left her side and never gave up on her even though it literally took years for her to finally see what was right in front of her the whole time.

I loved the simple undertones of faith and love in this novel. That doesn’t always work in stories, sometimes it can come off as preachy and overbearing and I really didn’t find myself thinking that was at all about that in this book. I liked how Allie’s faith and new found religion helped her grow and become stronger and happier.

I like in the end the person that she became.

Overall I think this was a great story about growing up and becoming a better person, however you find it along the way.

Don’t you love the part about Sam “taking Allie’s crap”??? Love it! ;)

Anyway, I tried reading through more reviews to share with you, but there were a lot of pages of reviews online, and after a while they all started to run together in my head and I couldn’t distinguish them anymore. But here were a few of the best (and most painful), in my mind. I’m sure I missed a lot of other great ones, though. :(

-Rachel

FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY

To celebrate my Facebook fan page hitting 100 “likes” yesterday, I’ve decided to offer a fun giveaway for all of my Facebook fans! I understand that this excludes some of you who don’t have Facebook, and I’m very sorry, but I thought I’d do something fun just for those who follow me there. I’ll always have future giveaways in mind for my blog followers. :)

The giveaway contest will be open until 10 PM EST this Saturday, and one randomly selected winner will receive a signed copy of Interrupted, a bookmark, and a 4-page writing critique!

 

To enter, all you have to do is like my page and comment on my giveaway status! (It’s a photo under the album “Wall photos”) You can also win an extra entry by sharing the status and commenting “Shared!”

Good luck to everyone, and I definitely hope you like the page and enter the contest!

-Rachel

My First Live TV Interview!!!!

Yesterday was a very important day in the history of my life. Because yesterday was the first time I was on TV!!!! That’s right–I was interviewed by our local morning news show, CBS 6′s Virginia This Morning. I talked about the story behind my book Interrupted, my life as a writer, and the fun fact that I practiced my signature for both my driver’s license and autographing books at the same time!

Obviously, I am yet to master the art of the TV interview, but I hope I’ll get another chance to redeem myself at some point! For those of you who don’t know me in person, no, I am not usually that hyper or loud. I was really nervous! But I think that all went smoothly, in the end. I’m so blessed to have been given this opportunity!

You can find a video of the interview here!

-Rachel

 

Novel Teen Blog Tour!


This is the first Monday in a while that I have literally been counting down the days to. Because today is Jill William’s Team Novel Teen Blog Tour–featuring none other than Interrupted: Life Beyond Words. Being the author of Interrupted, I obviously have special interest in this event, but hopefully you’ll want to check it out, too! Eleven different bloggers are talking about Interruptedtoday, and I’m posting the links below for you to check out! Ten dollars to any reader who visits every blog and comments “Rachel Coker is the best. I know her personally and I can truthfully attest to the fact that she is funny, staggeringly brilliant, and cute!” (Joking ;P)

Anyway, here are links to the reviews:

Jill WilliamsonADD LibrarianThe Book FaeBook NookColorimetryCTF Devourer,GillianLife With a MissionMy Story ShelfOh, Restless BirdInspiring Darling 

Most of these bloggers also posted a review of my book on Amazon, which just tickled me pink. It’s so weird to go on Amazon.com and see that Interrupted has a 4.3 rating and over 20 reviews! A few years ago, I would have never ever thought that something like that could be possible. I guess God had different plans than I did! ;)

-Rachel

News Day

So my mom found out yesterday that my book was featured on the front page of crosswalk.com. Is that cool or what? I thought you guys might like to read what they said. I personally found it very complimentary, but obviously I like hearing nice things about myself. ;)

Interrupted: Life Beyond Words reintroduces a classic question in literary criticism: to what extent does the author matter when considering the quality of a piece of writing? Here’s the skinny on Interrupted author Rachel Coker: she’s a 16-year old whose debut novel possesses a maturity of emotional perceptiveness and writing quality which far surpasses her years. While most of her peers are content to pound out text messages on the latest smart phone, and the ambitious ones scribble out angst-ridden poems in their journals, Coker’s actually planned, plotted, and successfully published a Young Adult historical fiction novel set against the contentious backdrop of World War II.

For all of that, Coker deserves the highest admiration. But, perhaps a more challenging task is to take Interrupted on its own terms, setting aside Coker’s remarkable personal story. In that regard, Interrupted is a relatively safe place to start a career, a traditional coming-of-age tale made slightly more original by its historical setting and the thematic nods to Emily Dickinson. It’s the story of Alcyone Everly, a 14-year old girl whose safe and sheltered existence is shattered when her mother dies and she’s taken in by Beatrice Lovell in a Maine estate.

After Everly arrives in Maine, she becomes re-introduced to Sam Carroll, a native of her hometown in Tennessee. Sparks fly between the two, but Everly is stymied by her inner bitterness over the loss of her mother and frustration with Lovell’s efforts to become a mother figure in her life. Everly retreats into her writing, where her love of classic literature and self-expression proves to be an impediment to making valuable connections in her new life.

The emotional landscape of Interrupted is tactfully rendered and maturely handled. Coker takes great care to sculpt a believable protagonist in Everly, and walks her through a solid character arc, moving from devotion to her mother to a place of independence by novel’s end. That said, the plot is fairly thin. The inner coming-of-age struggles Everly faces compose the bulk of the conflict, and they’re not very dramatic. And much about Interrupted is a bit too genteel, from the idyllic Maine setting to Everly’s interpersonal conflicts with the other main characters. Everly never seems in real danger, either physically or psychologically, which takes the edge off the story’s stakes.

While this is technically historical fiction, the historical backdrop plays a minor role in Everly’s story. Until the story’s latter third, when Everly’s love interest is shipped off to war, it’s hard to get a sense of the time period, or why Coker chose it. In a sense, it’s the same story as could be told against a contemporary backdrop.

One neat element Coker includes which deserves mention is the homage she pays to poet Emily Dickinson. Each chapter of Interrupted opens with a short excerpt from a Dickinson poem which relates thematically to the chapter’s content. It’s refreshing to see such a young literary voice connect so fully with one of the greats, and potentially introduce Dickinson to a new generation of readers. In addition, one can feel Dickinson’s presence in the character of Everly, who is content to stay cloistered when the world is too scary. People are messy, Interrupted admits, but when you let yourself get messy, the joys are worth it.

In her publication debut, Coker displays a remarkable amount of poise and polish, and while Interrupted isn’t the flashiest or trendiest piece of YA fiction, it might show something more valuable: a young voice with potential staying power in today’s here-today-gone-tomorrow marketplace.

Another cool thing happened yesterday. I got a full-page spread in our local area newspaper! It had photos and everything, which was really neat. Unfortunately, I left it at our church last night, so I don’t have a photo to show you. :( But as soon as I get it back, I’ll post a pic!

So, have any of you finished Interrupted yet? Be honest: Tell me what you thought!

-Rachel