The Best Moments So Far

One of the best and most chilling moments of the YALLFest last week was a small snippet of a story shared by author Sarah J. Maas on one of the many author panels I listened in on. Someone had asked the question, “What was the moment when you felt like you’d really made it as an author?” and Sarah answered with a cute retelling of the first ever time she saw her book in a bookstore. Her husband taped her blubbering tears and overexcited squeals.

I have to admit that throughout most of those author panels I felt very small and very overwhelmed. The thought “How do I even consider myself a writer?” crossed my mind at least half a dozen times. Looking up at the faces of multi-million dollar women with faces brightly lit from stage lights and books that have more copies than I could ever dream of was pretty daunting. I’m just a tiny little author. Hardly noticeable. I haven’t done any of the cool and exciting things that these women have, and I’ll probably never be able to throw out phrases like “movie adaption” and “prequel” and “best seller list” like they can.

But in that moment, a tiny hot bubble popped in my chest. Because I know that feeling. I can actually remember my Sarah J. Maas moment, blubbering in a bookstore and feeling like I’d finally made it as an author.

November is unofficially and very predictably dubbed as a month of thankfulness, and while I don’t ever want to be one of those “Things I’m Grateful For” kind of bloggers, I did sit down and write a list of the best moments of my career so far. Some are big and important and others are tiny and special. But after writing the list, I didn’t feel small anymore. I may not be selling out box offices in movie adaptions of my books, but my stories have taken me places and opened me up to experiences that few nineteen-year-olds can hold on to.

I want to share these moments with you so that you can realize how non-small you are, too. I sat listening to Sarah Maas feeling like a tiny nobody until I really took time to reflect on what I’ve been able to do. And at nineteen, it made me realize how much time I have to do more. Whoever you are, and whatever your passions, never let someone you admire make you feel tiny. We need to learn to listen to the big and small moments of others and let them guide us back to our own moments.

The Best Moments of My Career So Far

Watching the Interrupted trailer. It was months before the book was released and I’d never even held a copy in my hands. But one day I stumbled across that trailer (I don’t even think Zondervan had emailed me the link yet) and started crying. It felt so real. The people I had created in my mind were flesh and bone and walking and talking and it was actually going to happen. My story was going to become a book. I’ll never forget that day.

Seeing Interrupted at our bookstore the first time. It was around the time the first Hunger Games movie came out, because I remember seeing it in theaters with Hannah and then wondering if the bookstore next to the movie theater would have my book. It felt like a long shot, but we went in and took deep breaths and scanned the shelves. And my heart plummeted and I might have screamed because there it was. Blue and soft and real. Sitting on the shelf of a bookstore. I was having a bad day and wearing a lumpy sweater and I didn’t want to stop taking pictures.

The first time I got a comment on my blog from someone I didn’t know.

Flying to Philly and mom commenting on how many people will never be able to experience something like this. We had a six am flight and the sun was just starting to rise as we climbed into the clouds and my mom turned and looked at me and said, “You do realize all the other sixteen-year-old girls in America are waking up and going to school and you’re flying to Philadelphia to go to your own book signing. Out of all the people in the world, you get to experience this.” And my throat caught.

Walking into Barnes and Noble with Hannah to check out Chasing Jupiter. This time we knew it would be there. It was early January and it had been out for about a week so it was bound to be on the shelf. And there it was, all orange and new, sitting next to the other new releases. This time we were unashamed of our squeals and jumping and the way the employees must have thought we were crazy. Their loss. They were the ones who’d selected my book as one of the staff picks of the month anyway.

Walking into a middle school and seeing posters of my books to get students ready for a signing.

The school that made me peach pie.

Sitting at the Christy Award dinner in St. Louis surrounded by literary greats and actually being counted as one of them. My knees were shaking and I kept wondering, even after I was there, if I was dressed appropriately and looked alright. Janette Oke was seated at a table across from me. They were calling out the authors behind award winning books and oh my gosh, I was one of them. You can’t forget nights like those.

Every time a reader emails me or someone comments on my blog. Every. Single. Time.

The first time I heard someone say, “Interrupted  is my favorite book!”

The Dream Factory Workshop and being surrounded by six beautiful souls for four days. Hearing their stories and learning their voices and knowing that I was having a part in shaping their creative futures.

Hosting the most recent contest on my blog and getting to see my characters come to life through the creative talents of others.

Hearing Jenna’s song “Rocket to Jupiter”.

Walking up to my signing in Seattle and seeing a booth stacked with two hundred copies of Chasing Jupiter and realizing I had to sign them all. Hand cramps are the most incredible feeling in the world, when they come from something like that.

Getting a text from a friend telling me I was in WORLD Magazine.

The first time I was on tv. Or the radio. Or in a magazine. Anytime someone wanted to mention my books at all.

The month my hometown decided to put me on the front page of the newspaper for Women’s Month (February). I swear I could feel the excitement of all the old people at church.

 

Finally meeting my agent in person in Seattle – or spending several days with his family out on a lake in Oregon.

Realizing I met my best friend in the world through this blog. What if I had never started blogging? Or written a book? Would I know Elaini?

Hearing my dad tell me he is proud of me. Out of all the moments and all the mentions and all the praise, that’s probably the best moment so far.

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I hope this didn’t come across as a narcissistic post bragging on all of the cool things I’ve done. On the contrary, I know I will probably never be Veronica Roth or James Dashner or Shannon Hale. But I’m learning to find grace and gratitude in what I have been able to do, and this post is to encourage you to rejoice in your tiny victories too.

-Rachel

 

Contest Winners

Hey guys! Sorry I kinda went MIA the last week. Elaini texted me to ask what blog post I was working on and I had to respond a very rushed “Who has time for blogging?” kind of answer while I hurried to get stuff done. Lots of fun stuff coming up. Roadtripping this weekend, and then posting info on the next Dream Factory Workshop later this month!

But anyway. I wanted to announce the winners of the contest I hosted last month! I challenged my readers to create something based on one of my books. The top prize was a $50 B&N gift card, and the two runner-ups got signed book sets!

First place went to Jenna, who wrote a song, “Rocket to Jupiter”, based on Chasing Jupiter. You can watch it here!

I feel like this girl is the next Taylor Swift. Check out some of her lyrics below…

I’m gonna build you a rocket to Jupiter

Who says it’s impossible? 

We can fly away and live amongst the stars

I’d do it, I’d do it, for you

I’d do it, do it…for you.

I mean, wow. Jenna sent a little note along with the song that said,  ”My song focuses on Scarlett and Cliff’s relationship throughout the story and how she wanted to do whatever she could to make sure that he was happy. Even if it meant making a rocket, no matter how impossible the idea sounded.”
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Second place went to Josie, who created this beautiful hidden meaning portrait of Allie Everly from Interrupted.

 

Josie said, “ I wanted to tell about Allie Everly’s life using pictures but wanted it to be more than just a portrait of her. I wanted my picture to have second meaning. To do that I created a hidden meaning portrait. It’s like a caricatures, but instead of exaggerating the most prominent features, one takes pieces of a persons life (dates, people, likes/dislikes, hobbies, etc. ) and incorporated them, using doodling, into that persons portrait….At the second, third, and even forth glance you will notice more than the time before. ”

If you look closely, you can see all kinds of little doodles from the book. Allie’s name, her cat, piano keys, the moon, Emily Dickinson, phrases like “my miracle.” It made my mouth drop open to see a reader pay this much attention to the details of the story and capture it so well!

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And third place was rightfully won by Lindsey, who created this adorable model “rocket” from Chasing Jupiter.

According to Lindsey, “It’s made from a Pringles can, the top of a water bottle, and some cardboard for the fins. The picture in the center is Cliff, Grandpop Barley, Frank, and Scarlet in astronaut outfits.” Remember how the book ends with Cliff revealing the faces of the people he loves in the rocket? I imagine it looked exactly like this. It’s totally my vision, come to life.

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I couldn’t just end there, though. There were so many amazing entries and I feel like I should share some of the others for you guys to enjoy, even if I can’t give as much detail on them!

Fan fiction – Audrey

Sometimes I wonder what this world was like before.  Was it darker?  Did the sun rise brighter?  Other times I find myself wondering what I was like before, was I happier?  Did I like things I don’t now-such as artichokes?  What was this world-my world-like, before it changed?  I suppose these are things I’ll never find the answers to; except for the answers she can give me…

Mini paintings – Elaini

Poem – Rachel

Pencil drawing – Lily

Pencil drawing – Isabella

Fan fiction – Amelia

Sam reached into his chest pocket and pulled the piece of paper out. Unfolding it, he squinted at the feminine handwriting in the dark light of the landing craft. Even though he already knew the letter by heart, seeing the faint pencil marks on the paper made Allie seem closer. He scanned the cramped lettering, his eyes falling to the last line of the letter:

I love you. I truly do miss you, and think of you every day.

Photograph – Natalie

Poem – Grace

Sweep me into a rhythm of swinging and swaying joy

Lead me onto a dance floor as smooth as mahogany glass

Twirl me and spin me

Teach me the right steps

All as we dance cheek to cheek.

Dancing is made for partners, not lone girls in chiffon and silk

Songs like this one are meant for laughter instead of my tears

Together in cadence

We’ll forget there’s a war on

All as we dance cheek to cheek.

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A HUGE thank you to everyone who participated! I write because I have things to say, but I also write because people like you listen. Thank you for loving my characters like I do and gifting me with these creative projects. I hope that you all enjoy seeing what everyone has produced, and encourage each other to keep taking inspiration from your favorite books and creating new things!

-Rachel

CONTEST – Be My Fan, Okay?

So many of you have been writing me to ask what I’ve been up to lately. Am I writing a third book? Yes. But can I share what it’s about? No, not yet. Am I planning to go to college next year? Yes, I think so. Do I know what college I’m going to? No, not yet. (Anyone want to offer me a full scholarship? Ha. Ha.)

I’ve been trying to stay hyped to keep writing because #1: I love the new story I’m working on. But also because #2: I love my fans and I want to give you guys something new to read soon!

So one way I’ve been trying to stay “in the mood” is by going through and reading all the old blog posts/reviews/comments everyone left on the internet when my first two books came out. I was blown away all over again reading through everyone’s thoughts and comments and general gushiness. You made me blush two years later. Yay.

Anyway, after being reminded again of what great readers I have, I decided to do a fun little contest (I’ve never done a contest before) for my fans so you guys can show your love for these characters and I can show my thankfulness for your support! 

Here’s what you can do:

ALL OF MY BLOG READERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO CREATE SOMETHING BASED ON ONE OF MY BOOKS. IT CAN BE A DRAWING OF ONE OF MY CHARACTERS, A POEM BASED ON YOUR FAVORITE SCENE, A PIECE OF FAN FICTION, A YOUTUBE VIDEO, A RECORDED SONG, A PIECE OF ART, A PHOTOGRAPH, A HANDMADE DRESS — ANYTHING! BE CREATIVE!

The only requirement is that it has to be based off of either Interrupted or Chasing Jupiter.

In return, I’ll choose three winners. Second and third place winners will both receive autographed sets of my books and a handwritten note from me.

And the first place winner will receive an autographed book set, handwritten note, AND $50 Barnes and Noble giftcard.

(WHAT?? I know, I want it too)

The contest starts today and will last until the end of the month. Then I’ll choose a few friends to help me choose the winners. To send in your entry, email me at rachelcokerwrites(at)hotmail(dot)com with the subject line “Contest”. Attach any photos, documents, or videos to your email and take a minute to explain what your entry is about. I’ll email you back to let you know when I’ve received it. If you would like to physically mail me your entry (which would be, like, so cool), then email and ask for my mailing address and I can give it to you.

Winners will be announced the first week of November. So dig back into those books, get inspired, and let the creative juices flow! I honestly can’t wait to see what you come up with.

{Contest open to all ages and all countries. Contest will end at 12:00 AM EST on November 1, 2014. Winners will be chosen based on creativity, talent, and relevancy to my stories. Winners’ first names and winning entries will be published on my blog.}

-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.

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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