rachelcoker


If You’re Going to Be Girly…

You might as well go all the way, right?

Long story short: I have one of the best friends ever. Her name is Tessa, and for my birthday she decided to go all out and plan a full-on girls’ day for me. She packed us a delicious picnic and then bought us both mani-pedis. It was so much fun to get all dressed up in sundresses and heels, pick wildflowers by the highway, set up a picnic area right in the middle of Colonial Williamsburg, and then make faces at each other while the Asian manicurists gossiped over our fingers.

And I’ll have to admit: Wearing vintagey sundresses and heels while walking through a crowded touristy area with a big picnic basket definitely attracts a lot of stares. I couldn’t count the number of people who pointed at us eating our lunch and smiled. I think they were happy smiles, though. Too few people are willing to just get out there and be girly and proper these days.

Oh, and by the way, the red velvet cupcakes-in-a-jar were the best part of the day. Hands down.

Thanks, Tessa for being such a sweet, wonderful friend and helping me have one of the best birthdays ever! 🙂

-Rachel

Advertisements

Video Post: Writing About Guys

Talking about guys today… In a writing sense, people! 😉

-Rachel

P.S. I love my weird face in this preview. I had the ability to change it on Youtube, but it made me laugh so much that I decided to keep it this way. I look like I’m about to go, “Gurl! Whatchu talkin’ bout?” 😉


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-approaching Interrupted 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 yours anymore. 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


Hannah Everly Designs on Miss Elanious

So maybe you’ve heard about the absolutely fantastic blog, misselanious? Well, it’s about time you did! The blog is run by twenty-three year old Elaini Garfield, a young woman with an incredible vision. A few years ago, Elaini started her blog as a way to raise money for orphans via Warm Blankets Orphan Care. In May of 2011, she debuted what was called “1 Dress. 100 Days. For Orphans.” Basically, Elaini wore the same dress for 100 days (well, I mean, she washed it obviously!), styled in so many unique ways, as an opportunity to raise money for orphans. The project has since ended, but Elaini is still raising money through her blog, and is currently at over $59,000 in donations.

Anyway, when Hannah started her skirt business, one of the first things she wanted to do was send Elaini a skirt in support. She read that Elaini wasn’t posting as much lately because she was running out of clothes to wear. We’ve donated money, but we wanted to do something else to help Elaini with her blog. What better way than to send her a black bow-tie skirt along with our donations? In an absolutely sweet spirit, Elaini accepted our gift and said she’d  wear it for her blog soon. So we were ecstatic when she emailed us yesterday to say that the photos would be going up on her blog this morning! Here is the link, with lots more pictures!

I would encourage all of you to go to Elaini’s blog and pray about making a donation. Even if you only give $15 or $20, it’s an amazing feeling to know that you are helping raise money for the care and support of orphans in third world countries. Think about it–that’s about how much it would cost you to go to the movie theater and buy a box of popcorn, these days. Would you rather spend two hours in a dark theater, or know that you helped contribute to the life of starving child?

For those of you who are interested in getting one of Hannah’s skirts for yourself, they’re available in her etsy shop, or from Hannah herself at hannaheverly(at)hotmail(dot)com.

-Rachel

Image from misselanious.com


Video Blog: It’s My Birthday!

In case you haven’t heard yet, today is kind of my birthday. 😉 Yes, I did cheat and make a video ahead of time, but I’m going to be gone all day today and there was NO WAY I was getting up at 6 am to make a video. 😉

-Rachel


Is it Okay to Be Pretty AND Smart???

With a title like that, I feel I should start off this post with a disclaimer: I am not insinuating that I think of myself as either pretty or smart — the two things that I’m discussing in this post! I’m a teenage girl with normal teenage insecurities, and I don’t have any abnormal vanities that you should know about. Just making that very clear.

But this is a question I’ve been thinking about lately. I guest-blogged on the Go Teen Writers site this morning about stereotypes, and ever since then stereotypes have been on my mind. Two in particular.

The first stereotype that really bugs me is when people see a pretty, well-dressed young woman and automatically make this assumption: Wow, look at her hot pink nails and high heels. She must be one of those self-absorbed rich girls who’s never worked a day in her life. And then they proceed to think that of her for what seems like the rest of eternity.

The other stereotype that I cannot stand is the exact opposite situation. This is when someone hears that a girl is interested in writing, reading, or any other type of intelligent pastime, and they immediately assume: Huh. She must be one of those smart girls. I bet she only showers once a week because she’s in a relationship with the written word and sleeps in her thick-rimmed glasses just in case she decides to spontaneously start reading under the blankets in the middle of the night.

I’m probably exaggerating here, but you know what I’m talking about, right? It’s like teenage girls have only two options. We can either be pretty, popular, and air-headed, or smart and reclusive. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground.

I’ve experienced a lot of this in my own life, to tell the truth. I know some people who turn up their noses at my red wedges and floral sundresses, claiming that I’m being vain and worldly, and I know others who look at me like I have three heads when I ask what they think of Surrealism or covenant theology. Sometimes I feel like I’m being torn between two personalities that can never live in harmony. No one wants to discuss theology with a girl in a polka dot dress, and no one expects a published author to spend half an hour sampling the perfume selection at Bloomingdale’s.

But then I started thinking about it in a Biblical sense. What does God want of me? Does God think that it’s silly to want to wear lipgloss and heels, or does He think it’s ridiculous to be so caught up in appearing intelligent and mature that you forget to have fun? There are so many verses about appearances, both of the exterior and interior, but it’s still hard to make sense of it all.

In the end, this is the conclusion I finally came to: God is most concerned about my beautiful heart. When my biggest priority is making sure my heart is pure and beautiful, everything else will fall into place. It won’t matter if I spend two minutes on my hair or two hours. (I do tend to lean more towards the two minutes, though, for those of you who are interested. Curly hair rocks.) Because everyone around me couldn’t think for a moment that I’m vain or air-headed if the love of Christ is flowing from my words and actions. If someone could spend ten minutes in my presence and walk away thinking, Wow, she needs a reality check and a little less cash, or I hope she really loves books, since she’ll never get a boyfriend with that sour face, then that’s my own fault. Because I was showing off my own sin and selfishness, and not the love of Christ.

It is possible to be both pretty and smart, but only when Christ is in control of our hearts and minds. Because then the prettiness doesn’t come off as fake or vain, it’s a beautiful and effortless representation of what’s in our hearts. The smarts aren’t a result of heavy encyclopedias or too many hours watching the History Channel, but a natural outcome of the time we have spent getting to know people and understanding the world God has created around us.

So go put on your red peep toes and read a good book. It’s about time someone did.

-Rachel

P.S. This post may or may not have just been an excuse to photograph my cute new pair of bow heels and a pile of my favorite books. Just sayin’.


The Devastating Cuteness of Vintage Couples

I have this problem. You’ve heard me talk about it before. I’m an unromantic person. Part of this is probably due to the fact that I am semi-allergic to hugs and refuse to get within a two-foot radius of anyone but my best friends. Another part of it is most likely a reaction to the fact that Lizzie McGuire and Gordo never ended up getting married and therefore effectively ruined my childhood dreams of happily ever after. Not saying I’m never attracted to guys or that I think it would be awful to be in a relationship. I’m just grossed out by all the Hollister-clad hipsters making out at amusement parks and breathing the same air as me.

That being said, I have recently made a startling discovery that has my head absolutely spinning. And that is the undeniable fact that vintage couples are the most adorable thing in the whole world.

Seriously, it’s awful. But couples in the 40’s and 50’s just knew how to make being romantic look cute. Probably because they weren’t all up in each other’s space and making fools of themselves in public. They were holding hands all classy-like and swing dancing in suits and little dresses. They had perfect hair and impeccable posture and were just experts at looking generally attractive.

This is obviously a devastating revelation and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to view romance the same. Because after just half an hour of browsing vintage Pinterest boards and wrinkling my nose at the disgusting cuteness of it all, all my former expectations are going to fly through the roof. Now I’ll be expecting some tall dark guy with a James Dean haircut to come and sweep me off my penny-loafered feet and drive me off in his ’54 Chevy Bel Air while Benny Goodman plays on the radio.

The internet is bad for you, people. Do NOT fall for the trap of looking at old vintage photos online, thinking you’ll walk away perfectly fine and undamaged. Trust me when I tell you that you’ll be scarred for life, okay? Don’t fall into the same trap I did. Just promise that you’ll come and visit me one day in my lonely llama farm (the internet has also caused me to think that llamas are much more adorable than they actually are), surrounded by my vintage photos and bewailing the fact that I never found my Cary Grant. Spare me from suffering that miserable fate alone.

-Rachel

 

(All photos from vintagecouplesinlove.tumblr)


Hannah Everly Giveaway Winner!!!

I’m very excited to announce that the winner of last week’s giveaway post for one of Hannah’s adorable black bowtie skirt is… Jillian! Congrats on your (soon-to-be) new skirt!

Thanks everyone for entering! For those of you who are still interested in getting a skirt of your own, they’re available at Hannah’s etsy shop, www.etsy.com/shop/hannaheverly, or from Hannah directly at hannaheverly@hotmail.com.

Have a great day and I’ll be back tomorrow!

-Rachel


Video Post: How Much Money Do You Make?

I know you’re all secretly wondering this. Don’t even try to pretend that you aren’t! Well, I figured it was time to satisfy your overly-nosy curiosities and bite the bullet. So here’s a video of me talking about approximately how much authors get paid for writing books, in as graceful a way as possible. Please excuse the awkward amount of times I mention how awkward of a topic this is for me. 😉

-Rachel


An Open Letter to Margaret Mitchell

Dear Margaret Mitchell,

If you had asked me what my favorite subject was at any point in my education, I would have proudly told you “History”. I found it fascinating. All the dates and battles and events that make up our nation’s past. History has never failed to intrigue and delight me.

I have read so many books over the last sixteen years. In my mind, I have traveled to India and outer space and the ruins of Ancient Rome. But it always felt like a game to me. A fun and thrilling adventure of my mind. I would dive into a book and be engrossed for hours, but always manage to snap out if it when my mom called me for supper or it came time to switch off the lights. I was comfortable with books and knew what it meant to have an imagination. I thought of them all as merely entertaining works of fiction. That all changed the first time I read your book “Gone with the Wind”.

To tell the truth, I did have reservations about reading it. My first issue was the size. At a whopping six hundred eighty-nine pages, with print so tiny my eyes felt strained, “Gone with the Wind” hardly seemed like my cup of tea. And then there was also the content. Over six hundred pages on the Civil War? It sounded a bit tedious and boring, to tell the truth. All guns and soldiers. Where were the magic carpet rides? The fairies and ogres and elephants?

Nevertheless, something made me pick up that book and begin reading it anyway. The first sentence made me smile. “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” I immediately fell for the not-quite-beautiful, fiery heroine. She seemed so real, her faults laid completely bare. I didn’t shut the book after ten pages, like I’d been planning. Instead, I kept reading. And reading. And reading.

I remember that I started “Gone with the Wind” on a Saturday morning. And that I sat in my room all day, my nose buried in that massive volume. By Sunday afternoon, I was finished. With all six hundred and eighty-nine pages.

I closed that book a different person than when I opened it. The salty taste of tears was still lingering on my lips. For a while, all I could do was sit on my bed and think. A book had never done this to me before. My heart felt broken over all that I had read. The pain, the suffering. I had always thought of history as words in a book. Letters on a page. Something that had happened long ago to figments of people, and had nothing to do with me or my life. Now I realized I was wrong.

So many people were affected by the events that shaped our nation. The wars, the battles, the fighting. Those didn’t happen to characters in a book or words in a history lesson. They happened to teenagers like me. To parents like mine. Real people lived and loved and suffered, only to have their years of toil and work fade into the dusty spines of schoolbooks and homework assignments.

After I finished reading “Gone with the Wind” I remember my mom calling me out of my room to practice my piano. I sat on the wooden bench and lifted my hands to the keys. I didn’t know what to play. Everything seemed too happy—too irreverent. I remembered a song I had memorized not long ago. It was a funeral march. I played the song by memory, the notes slow and mournful. And I cried. I cried for the legacy that you had portrayed in your book, Ms. Mitchell. An entire civilization, gone with the wind.

Since reading your book, I have had a new appreciation of my country’s past. I have spent a lot of time thinking about all the lives that were lost to make this nation what it is today. The mistakes and successes and failures that all work together to create a portrait of life and memories. Your book opened my eyes to the joys and sufferings of real people. I don’t care now that Scarlett and Rhett and Ashley were all characters in a book. They no longer seem like figments of my imagination, but representatives of my nation’s history. I thank you for that.

Sincerely,

Rachel Coker