rachelcoker


Writing Q&A

Q&AI literally freaked out this morning when I woke up and realized it was FRIDAY and that I hadn’t posted anything since MONDAY!!! I don’t know where this week went! I had something going on literally everyday, and I feel like I was only home for a few hours every day. 😦 But I haven’t forgotten about you guys! I swear I’ll still post things throughout the busy holiday season, even if it means waking up at the crack of dawn to write a blog entry. Yes, you’ll see my zombie side come out. It’s not pretty. 😉

Anyway, I figured I’d finally get around to posting my answers to all those writing questions you all sent me a few weeks ago! These are the *abbreviated* answers, so I may actually end up posting whole blog posts on some of them, if I find I have even more to say. (Brace yourselves!)

  • When writing a first draft, do you just try to get the basic story down first, and worry about all the other details later?

Yes, definitely! Whenever I’m first coming up with the concept for a story, I just have to tell myself that it’s okay if my writing stinks. First drafts aren’t supposed to be perfect, they’re supposed to be real. When I’m working on a first draft, I’m not worried about whether or not all the dates match up, or the living room is described, or the dialogs are flowing smoothly with an even amount of speech tags. All of that can and should be added later. When I’m working on a first draft, I’m asking myself the questions: “Does this story work? Are these characters realistic? Is the plot line moving along? Is my main character growing?” It’s the emotions and the story that I’m most worried about, not all the little details.. Those can always be added in later, so I wouldn’t even worry about them until you’re finished with your first draft!

  • Do you think it’s better to write the whole novel now, and then put in your chapter breaks later?

Oh, yes! I never put in my chapter breaks until I am completely finished with all of my drafts. Like, ready-to-send-it-to-Zondervan finished. Why? Because I do edits. I go back and add in entire three-thousand word scenes. If I stuck with the chapter breaks that I made on my first draft, the chapters in my books would either be insanely long or snippy and short. Both of which are problems. You can’t really tell where to put chapter breaks until you’re entirely finished with the story. Once I consider a manuscript “done”, I go back in and add those breaks after every three thousand words or so. That way, I know all the chapters are pretty even!

  • What are some things that help you regain interest in your story when you’re facing writers’ block?

The first thing I do is take a break. It’s hard to clamp down on a story when you’re so tired of it that your brain isn’t working anymore. So I take a break and go for a walk, or watch a movie, or read a book. Sometimes I’ll even break for a few days, if I feel like I really need the extra time to get my head back into it. Then I return to the book with a clear brain and a fresh vision for the story and the characters.

Another thing I like to do is go back to the beginning of my story and just start reading. It’s amazing how inspired you can get to continue if you just start at the beginning and read through your story. You’ll start remembering why you love those characters and why you initially felt inspired to tell this story to the world. It’s so helpful in overcoming writer’s block!

  • How do you normally do the research that your books require?

Very poorly. Haha, just kidding! Well, most of my books take place in the mid-20th century, so luckily that’s a very easy time period to research! So many people who lived then are still alive today, and love hearing my nosy questions! 😉

Usually, I start off with basic historical research. Who was President at the time? What was the average household income? What did schools and towns look like? Then I start thinking about aspects of everyday life. What kind of car did the average American drive? What clothes did they wear? What songs played on their record players? To get answers to these, I do all kinds of research. Yes, I read books, but mostly I look at vintage magazines, listen to old vinyls, watch black and white movies, and talk to older friends and relatives who have real-life answers. And I still make mistakes sometimes! I always laugh about the time my agent laughed at me for having Allie Everly walk from one room to the next while holding a telephone. Silly me! There were no cordless phones in 1943! 😛

Well, hopefully that answered all your writing questions! I got a few more questions that I’m saving for a really exciting feature I’m planning starring (drum roll please)…. My sister HANNAH!!!! Yes, that’s right. Hannah and I are planning a video blog together, and we want to hear all of your stupid, silly questions. Anything even remotely funny or odd, ask away! We’ll pick our five favorite random questions, and answer them in a video blog that will probably be posted next Friday, so you have until this weekend to send us your questions! Remember that we are teenage girls, and that we absolutely love being silly and strange, so don’t worry that your questions will freak us out. If you want to know which limb we would first cut off in a freak rock-climbing accident, we’d love to tell you!

You can either post your questions here, or message them to me on my Facebook page. 🙂

-Rachel


It’s That Time of Year…

And no, I’m not talking about “when the world falls in love”. I’m talking about “when Rachel starts freaking out and losing sleep at night and tells all her friends to refrain from Googling her name for the next three months.” Yes, this is (da-da-dum)…. BOOK REVIEW SEASON!!!

I remember when Interrupted came out last spring, I told myself I would not read a single book review online or in a magazine. Ha! As if! I’m a girl and I’m nosy and I’m self-conscious, so obviously I ended up reading every review that was sent my way, both good and bad. And let me tell you something, I don’t remember the details of a single good review. Honestly. Out of the hundreds of reviews of Interrupted floating out there in cyberspace, I probably only read half a dozen that were truly terrible. And yet, those are the six that I remember most vividly and could probably quote in my sleep. Every derogatory comment or snarky criticism–they’re stuck in my brain forever!

And now, here we go all over again! It’s Christmastime, but it’s also Book Review Season, and so my brain is probably going to be on overload for the next month or so. My publicist/family members/friends will be sending me just about every review on Chasing Jupiter that possibly exists, and I’ll probably end up reading them all. Because that’s the weak person that I am! And while I’m sure I’ll read all the sweet reviews and be very blessed by them, I also know that I’ll be a little bit scarred by the negative ones as well.

But you know what? That’s going to be a great thing for me. I can’t live in this bubble where everything I produce is hilarious and witty and insightful and poetic. Sometimes people are going to disagree with me and that’s okay! My prayer throughout this whole process is that every negative review or criticism I receive in the next month and a half will do nothing but strengthen me in the Lord and help grow me into a better person.

At the end of the year, it’s all going to be okay. I know that I’ll get through reading every great and not-so-great review and make it out just fine. I’m looking forward to the journey, and seeing where God leads me throughout it! 🙂

Aaaaaannnnndddd…. You can now pre-order your own copy of Chasing Jupiter. So get it now! And then eagerly anticipate every second in between now and the moment you hold it in your hands! 😉

-Rachel


Video Blog: Happy Thanksgiving!!!

New video blog! Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! Sorry the blog hasn’t been updated much this week… I’ve been really busy with family and friends! But things will get back to normal next week, I promise! :

-Rachel


Plummeting Poultry

We have a strange family. With weird traditions and dry senses of humor. Therefore, we love anything that is bizarrely strange and yet hilariously funny at the same time. Watching this video is a Thanksgiving tradition in our home. The premise is simple: A radio station decides to drop live turkeys out of a helicopter and let people catch them for their holiday meals. Chaos ensues. Our home family is in stitches by the time the video ends… 😉

-Rachel


Sunday Stories: Sleeping Beauty – Part Three

So here’s the eagerly anticipated (haha—I wish!) third installment of my old fairy tale story. I thought about posting the second part of the first chapter, but after looking over it I decided it was too short and really didn’t add much to the story, so I’m sharing Chapter Two today instead! For those of you who are new to this blog, I post a section of an old story or short novella every Sunday. For the last few week few weeks, I’ve been posting sections of a Sleeping Beauty story that I wrote when I was twelve! (Way, way back in the day) You can read the last few installments here, if you need a little backstory. 😉

And now, without further ado, Chapter Two!

Chapter Two:

For my twelfth birthday, I decided I was going to have my first ever birthday party. Daniel convinced me it would be fun and my nurse, Flora, assured me that she’d take care of everything.

“Don’t worry, darling,” she whispered, plaiting my hair into two long braids down my back. It was the morning of the party. “I’m sure every child in the village will have the time of his life.” She tied two green bows in my hair to match my first long dress.

I wasn’t sure. I’d never even met a child from the village, much less played with one. I’d only gazed at them longingly from inside my dark carriage. What if they didn’t like me? What if no one had fun?

Flora kissed my forehead and gave me a quick hug. “Don’t worry, darling,” she repeated, patting a dark braid. She stood and smoothed her grey bun. “Well, I must go see that everything is ready. The guests will be here in about an hour, Valerie.”

Alone in my room, I stared at myself in the mirror. Why did my dress have to be so pretty? I was sure no other girl in the kingdom had a fancy dress quite like mine. Why wouldn’t the queen let me wear an old, cotton one?

I sniffed and wiped an eye angrily. I wouldn’t cry right before my party. What would the children and servants think if they saw the heir to Caledonia red-eyed? I straightened and squared my jaw. “Princesses are never to show emotion,” I recited. They must remain calm and collected at all times.

I heard a rock hit the window. I rushed over and pulled back the heavy curtains. Daniel stood below me, grinning in his new party clothes.

He waved and mouthed the words, “Come down.”

I giggled. How like Daniel. But no way was I going to get all dirty right before the party. Or was I?

My smile stretched from ear to ear. I nodded and rushed down the stairs.

“Happy birthday, your highness,” Daniel said solemnly.

I nodded, my face as still as a stone. “Thank you.”

“Would you care to accompany me on a stroll?” He held out his elbow and I primly grasped it.

As soon as we were out of sight of the castle he swung me around. “Like my new party clothes, Val?” Daniel posed proudly.

“Marvelous!” I clapped my hands, admiring his dark blue tunic and breeches. “And me?”

He clasped his hands and rocked back on his heels. “Lovely. Say, Valerie, how’s it feel to be twelve?”

I snorted. “Exactly the same.”

“Say, wanna go see if we can catch any bull frogs before the party starts?”
“As long as I don’t get too dirty.”

He placed his hand over his heart. “You won’t, princess. I promise.” Daniel grabbed my arm and ran to the pond, being careful not to let mud splatter on my dress. “Look, there’s one right there!” He lunged at the big, brown bull frog sitting on a rock.

*

            A more beautiful day for my party I couldn’t imagine. The sun shone brightly and the flowers were just beginning to bloom. The air smelled fresh and the trees fluttered in the breeze.

I stood before one hundred children, in my slightly dirty party dress, bright-eyed and tongue-tied.

“H-Hello.” My voice sounded rasp. I licked my lips and tried again. “Thank you for coming to my p-party.” A snicker arose from the crowd. Ugh! My face flushed pink.

“We’ll begin with a game of tag.” I turned and nodded at Flora. Then I walked into the crowd. Daniel gave me a smile of encouragement.

“The princess will be ‘it’ first,” Flora announced. “Ready, set, go!”

I ran toward a girl about my age. She barely moved. I tagged her instantly.

Oh, how I hated that! I was no different from these children. Why did people treat me like I was a china doll? Once the curse was broken, they’d respect me. They’d beg to be my friends.

Daniel rescued the party by tagging me himself, but the cold look in that girl’s eye bore into my memory every time I thought about that day.

To be continued….


How to Be a Visual Writer

Sometimes I think it’s just so funny how I ended up being a writer. Because I always think of writing as being a part of that analytical, logical side of your brain that I just about never use. I am so not an analytical person! I have friends who are, and I totally respect and envy them, but that has never been my strong point. I figured out a long time ago that I am a visual learner and communicator. I have a photographic memory, and I have this constant need for things to be described and explained through pictures. This probably explains why I need to look people in the face when I’m talking to them and why I can never figure out what people are talking about through email or phone messages. It’s bad.

Anyway, somehow all of this has translated into the way that I write. A number of readers picked up on a very big aspect of my first book, Interrupted. And that is the idea that Interrupted reads like a movie. Many friends and readers told me that once they got a few chapters into it, the story started feeling more like a movie than a book. That is because I like to write with a technique I call visual writing. I’d love to explain it a bit to you all, and get your thoughts on the concept.

Interrupted is probably the first full book I wrote where I attempted to keep things very visual, but I’ve been trying to keep it up since then, because I find it so refreshing and interesting. The first thing you should probably know is that the majority of books written nowadays are not visual at all. That’s totally not a bad thing! I’m just clarifying a bit. Nowadays, there’s a big movement in literature to be as “bare-bones” as possible. That’s why you’ll find so many books on store shelves today that are gritty, gripping, and as dialog-oriented as possible. Visual writing is not dialog-oriented. You will probably never find a page in one of my books that consists of nothing but a back-and-forth dialog between two or three characters. That can be powerful and modern and fresh, but it’s not my style at all.

So let’s talk about what visual writing is, shall we?

  • Visual writing is…. Not afraid of descriptions.

I actually wrote a whole post for my friend Stephanie’s blog, Go Teen Writers, on the power of descriptions. So many people are afraid of using descriptions nowadays in fiction! One of my best friends brought up the point that this is probably because writers are afraid of developing the Anne-of-Green-Gables-complex, where you start writing these huge, lengthy chunks of description that just end up being really fluffy and unnecessary. While I was at first offended by this idea–I mean, I love me some L. M. Montgomery–I know that my friend is totally right. So don’t even go there with your descriptions, people. However, the idea of a small section of a beautiful, well-written description can add so much to your book. It makes the reader feel like she’s really there, soaking it all up. She can see the moonlight bouncing off the frothy white-capped waves. She’s actually able to visualize the muddy footprints on the front steps. It’s an amazing power to add to your story.

  • Visual writers must… Be able to hear music in their heads.

Or if you can’t hear it in your head, put it on your computer or something. Seriously! The only way your book is going to feel like a beautiful movie is if you can literally hear the soundtrack while you’re writing. I’ve talked before about what kind of music I listen to while I write, and I would encourage you to make a playlist of your own. Have you ever noticed that the best movies are the ones that have utterly perfect soundtracks? That’s because music has the power to evoke strong emotions in us and cause us to view things in a different way. So even though your readers may not be able to actually hear the music playing when they’re reading your book, you have to somehow find a way to capture that essence in your writing. I do it by referencing different songs in my stories. In Interrupted, Sam and Allie dance to “Cheek to Cheek”, by Fred Astaire, which is the absolute perfect song to describe their feelings at that moment. It’s bubbly, swingy, romantic, and full of promise. In the scene where Allie’s mother dies, Allie plays “Pavane for a Dead Princess” by Ravel on the piano. Even someone who’s never heard that song before can probably imagine just how solemn and heartbreakingly beautiful the music was in that moment. Your readers aren’t just going to imagine this music on their own. As the writer, you have to create that bubble of music and emotion and wrap it around them so they can fully feel the moment.

  • Visual writing… Knows how to slow down and freeze the best moments.

In movies we call this “slow-motion”. Now, it would be totally cheesy to talk about something happening in slow-motion in your story, but there is a way to express that idea without coming right out and using that terminology. The key is to identify the best, biggest, most absolutely beautiful moments in your book. This could consist of love declarations, sweet family conversations, intimate moments with best friends, and dreams coming true. Then you have to find ways to slow those moments down and stretch them out until their beauty just intensifies. When you’re writing, make sure to take the time to “look around” your scene and take notice of everything around your main character. Is there a breeze in the air, bending the grass and tickling everyone’s necks? Is there a train in the distance, running along on its everyday schedule despite the extraordinary things happening right here and right now? Is the tea kettle whistling, or the dishwasher running, or the windchimes tinkling in the wind? Notice those things, and write them down. Fully experience the moments and record them. By slowing down those moments and recording them, your readers will be able to see and visualize everything.

*

Well, in the end, I could talk about this topic forever, but I don’t want to reveal all my big secrets. 😉 Haha, just kidding. I honestly feel like I reveal so much through this blog that you all know exactly as much about writing as I do. 🙂

Oh, and before I forget, I’m planning on doing another Q&A segment soon! So if you have any questions for me about writing, the publication process, my life as an author, or just random silliness in general, ask away! You can comment below or message me on Facebook, and I’ll do my best to answer in an upcoming blog entry. No question is to random or dumb, I promise. 🙂

-Rachel


You Don’t Always Get What You Want

Coming from a pessimist, this has always been kind of obvious to me. I’m one of those people who is probably never one hundred percent happy all the time. I can be really cheerful and bubbly at times, but usually I’m always thinking about something, no matter how insignificant, that is standing in the way of my true happiness. It happened again this week. I wanted something so badly that it was getting in the way of my happiness. I was thinking about it, worrying about it, and basically freaking out over this one sort of random thing that I wanted to happen. You can probably guess what happened. I didn’t get what I wanted. All of the things I’d been praying for blew up in smoke. I won’t say I was heartbroken, but I was pretty sad. I cried for a while, which is really lame if you think about it, and then stiffened my upper lip and told myself not to wish for such big things next time.

That’s where I went wrong. Because I’m a dreamer, and I’m always wishing and hoping and praying for big, impossible things to come true. The pessimist side of me is constantly there, telling me that those things are never going to happen, but the dreamer in me can’t help but wish for them anyway. And so sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in this constant cycle of anticipating wonderful things and then crying myself to sleep because none of my dreams came true and I didn’t get what I want.

I know. Total sob story. Seventeen-year-old published author didn’t get what she wanted one day. Cry me a river.

Obviously, I’m not suggesting that my brain is working in a semi-reasonable way. Because if it was, I would realize that I have everything I’ll ever need in life. I’m young and healthy and successful with a loving family and network of unbelievable friends that all believe in me one hundred percent.

This is something I need to be constantly reminding myself. Because the sinful part of me tends to get way too hung up on not getting what I want. I fail to take the time to look around and be grateful for what I already have. God has blessed me with so much, but I’m never going to be content when I’m constantly looking for fulfillment and happiness outside of Him.

I know what would happen if I always got what I wanted. I would always want more. And more, and more, and more. Even then, I would never be satisfied. It’s not really a problem of not getting what I want, but of always wanting what I don’t have. And so, I pray that in the following days and weeks, instead of wishing for things that God may not have in mind for me, I’ll pray for the strength not to desire those things.

What reason could I ever have to be dissatisfied or discontent with what God has given me? I know that He’s put me right where I am, and that He knows exactly where I’m going to go. So I don’t have to lose sleep at night or cry into my pillow because of some silly thing that I had planned out for myself. I won’t always get what I want in life, but just as the old classic rock song says, I find that I get what I need. Because I have a God who loves me and cares about me, and who will always see me content and happy, as long as I find that joy in Him.

-Rachel


Life Lessons from “Pride and Prejudice”

So I watched the 2005 version of “Pride and Prejudice” for like the five millionth time yesterday. It’s getting bad. Bad to the point of me sitting there and quoting every scene, complete with authentic British accents and snooty facial expressions. My sisters were not impressed.

Anyway, the more I thought about, the more I realized that there are genuine life lessons to be learned from Pride and Prejudice. I mean, the dialogs and scenarios from this film are applicable to just about every life situation you can think of.

After I turned off the film, I sat down at my computer and contemplated the many life lessons learned from this film. It is my sincere hope that I will recall these examples in the years to come when forced with difficult circumstances and trying decisions.

  • If you think calling your crush on the phone is awkward, try dropping in on her house unexpected. There’s really no getting around the discomfort of this scenario. You can try complimenting her on the décor, enquiring after her health, and twisting your hat in your hands, but none of these things will make you feel better about yourself. The only way to make things worse is when the object of your affections, in return, drops in on your mansion and snoops around the private quarters. Oh, the awkwardness. It hurts.
  • Never practice your manners in advance. Because boiled potatoes are a really weird thing to compliment someone on and even “My Esteemed Patroness” sounds stuffy after you’ve said it for the seventh time.
  • The best dating advice ever given is most definitely, “She should move quickly. Snap him up. There’s plenty of time to get to know him after they’re married.” All women should heed these wise words.
  • Dancing is a great way to encourage the affections. But only if one’s partner is barely tolerable.
  • Men, take heed. Ladies love fellows in regiment uniforms, high-waisted breeches, and billowing overcoats. Didn’t we all swoon when Mr. Darcy trudged across the field at dawn with his coat flowing around his ankles? I mean, the glorious sunrise definitely had something to do with it, but it was that coat that made Lizzie realize she couldn’t live without him.
  •  Your figure will appear to its best advantage when walking. Don’t know how I ever missed out on this totally useful piece of information, but you can be sure I will keep this in mind from here on out.
  • There is such a thing as a “Mr. Darcy” look. Usually gentlemen give it to you when your back is turned, which is probably why I’ve never seen it in real life before, but it’s a completely legitimate thing. My sister and I have formed a pact that if we ever see someone give one of us the “Mr. Darcy” look, we will inform the other immediately. Since our lives aren’t a BBC drama, there’s no way we would know it ourselves, but having a sister looking out for you is always good.
  • And last, but not least, always get married before you’re twenty-seven. No one wants to be a burden to their parents. Especially when you stink at the pianoforte, can’t draw or paint, and tend to improve your mind by overly extensive reading.

 

Hopefully, I have passed along some morsels of knowledge to all of you. Heed these life warnings and learn from the eighteenth century drama of Pride and Prejudice, my friends. And the next time you have a free night, pop in the dvd player and watch the proposal scene five times in a row. “I love… I love… I love you.”

-Rachel


Sunday Stories: Sleeping Beauty – Part Two

Last week, I announced a new feature on this blog: Sunday Stories! Basically, I’m going to share a part of one of my old stories or short novellas every Sunday, for you all to read and laugh at and basically enjoy. Last week the series kicked off with the prologue of a fairy tale I wrote when I was twelve. So this week I’ll post the first part of the first chapter! (Yes, I’ve been writing obnoxiously long chapters since I was twelve) I always liked this scene, for some reason. You’ll have to read it and let me know what you think…

Chapter One:

I’ve always loved words. Big words, small words, any words. They fascinated me. It’s amazing how someone can string together a line of words and form a beautiful sentence. I loved stories, too.

When I was ten, I decided I was going to make up a story of my own. It started when I was walking around the palace in my mother, the queen’s, old cloak, pretending to be Queen Esther.

“Boy,” I called to a servant boy named Daniel. “You shall bow and acknowledge your Queen Esther.”

He snorted, a sound I despised. He was two years older than me, and seemed immune to the fact that I was a princess. He shook his tawny curls and crossed his arms. “Some queen you are. You don’t look like a queen at all.”

I was too brave, and I let him know it! “I was given the gift of bravery at birth,” I declared.

“Oh yeah?” He nodded toward a tall tree near the back of our royal garden. “Let’s see you climb that tree over there.”

“Okay,” I lifted my chin defiantly. “I’ll do it.” I tossed off the cloak and marched toward the garden. He strode along beside me, managing not to break a smile. I stole a sideways glance at him, then looked ahead. I grew a little nervous as I neared what I knew was my certain death. Many thoughts raced through my ten-year-old mind as I stopped in front of the looming tree. What about my parents? What if I never lived to get that true love’s kiss from a handsome prince? I started for the first branch and paused.

“What’s the matter? Chicken?” He smiled and raised an eyebrow.

“Hmph!” I stuck my nose in the air and started climbing. I grabbed the first branch and swung up. My gifts of adventure and bravery gave me a thrill as I climbed up. Steadily, I climbed. Higher. Higher. The sky had never seemed so blue. A slight breeze kissed my face.

Suddenly, I heard a crack. The branch below me was falling! I grabbed a branch and wrapped my arms around it. “Help!” I yelled. My legs dangled in the air. I looked down with a look of desperation at Daniel. He grimaced. I knew what a position he was in. If he ran, he’d look like a coward. But if he stayed he might get in trouble.

I looked down and realized for the first time how high up I was. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t scared. It felt liberating to be so high! With new found strength, I reached a limb beneath me and began climbing down.

“You can do it!” Daniel shouted, his twelve-year-old face pink with eagerness.

I planted my foot on the ground firmly and straightened. I held my head up proudly and gave him a smug look.

“You did it!” he shouted, grabbing my arms and swinging me around. “I knew you could do it!” He stopped and gave me a solemn look. “I would have done it myself, but heights scare me.”

We laughed and ran outside the garden where the green grass grew wild. We sprawled our skinny little bodies out on the grass and stared up at the cloudless sky.

It still amazes me how quickly kids can meet, say three sentences to each other, and instantly be best friends. As we lay there, picking the blades of grass, I knew that he was my best friend.

“This feels like something out of a story,” I announced, proud of my ten-year-old knowledge.

“Yeah, I guess.” He wrinkled up his nose. “I’ve never been much for books, though.”

“Really?!” I’d never met someone who didn’t appreciate a good story. “maybe you just haven’t heard the right one. What stories have you heard?”

He bit his lip and rolled over in the grass. “Well, I heard the one about the naughty little boy who told lies and had to go to hell.”

I was shocked. That wasn’t a story at all! That was a tale mothers told their kids when there was a broken necklace and no one else around. I told him so, alright. That and more. “I’ll tell you a story,” I said and immediately launched into an elaborate version of my birth. He hung on every word, his eyes wide open.

“Really?” he asked in awe when I finished. I nodded my head proudly. “Tell me another one,” he said, resting his hands behind his head and closing his light blue eyes.

“What do you want to hear?” I racked my brains for another story I knew well. “Arthur and his knights? Robin Hood? Noah’s ark?”

“Make up one yourself.”

“I don’t think you’re allowed to do that.”

He opened one eye and squinted at me. “Then how do the stories get made?”

I’d never thought about that before. Weren’t authors simply born with the knowledge that they were destined to write marvelous works of art? But that couldn’t be right. They must have been ordinary people with ordinary dreams.

“I bet your story wouldn’t be any good.” He closed his eyes again, and his lips turned up in a slight smile.

I sniffed and stuck my nose up. “Once upon a time there was a prince…”

It was a marvelous story, or so I thought at the time. It involved a noble prince who was obsessed with hunting down a golden unicorn. Only one had ever been seen in Caledonia, and when he heard of it, he knew it was his destiny to kill it. On the way, he fell in love with a Geravian maid and befriended a poor farmer with dreams of being a duke. But when the prince saw the gorgeous unicorn at last, it was too lovely to kill. “So instead he married his maiden and had a castle by the sea,” I finished proudly.

He sat up and grinned. A wild hawk soared above us and the grass bended in the breeze. “Fantastic!” he cried. “You’ll be famous, Valerie!” Then he wrinkled his nose and added, “But leave out the part about the pretty maid.”

I laughed out loud. “You and me think alike, Daniel.”

And that is how I told my first story and made my first friend. All at ten years old.

To be continued…


Things I’m Just Too Girly To Understand

My friends tease me a lot for often being a walking contradiction. I’ve been told time after time again that everyone, upon meeting me, thinks that I’m an extremely girly goody-two-shoes. This is probably because I wear dresses ninety percent of the time and always tend to look like I’ve been transported from 1948 or something. And then, once people get to know me, they’re always shocked at how non-girly I can be at times. I shoot, sit unfazed  while watching horror films, and make fun of anything even remotely close to a romantic comedy. And yet, despite often brushing off overly feminine tendencies, I find that there are still a number of things that I am way too girly to understand. Guys, I’m talking to you. I have no idea why you…

  • Think that it’s fun to sit in a deer stand all day

It’s not. It’s boring. My best friend and I went up there with her brother once and he tried to explain to us what it was like. Apparently we’re supposed to sit up there for hours without talking, moving, or squealing and just wait for some poor innocent animal to calmly walk past us. Then we’re supposed to blow its brains out and drag it home? I just don’t get that. Not that I mind other people doing it, but I think I might actually prefer going to the dentist to hunting deer. Maybe.

  • Talk about cars like they’re people

Just about every guy I know does this and it constantly confuses me. “Look at that beauty. See her pretty black racing stripe? Man, that’s the car for me!” Or “My truck’s never let me down. She gets me through dirt, mud, and snow. I call her ‘Old Faithful’. Isn’t she a beauty?” No, your truck is not beautiful. It’s two tons of dull red metal with tires five times the size of my head. I don’t see the beauty in that.

  • Watch five John Wayne movies in a row and insist they’re all special

I love me a good John Wayne film. But five in a row? Let me clue you in: They all have the same exact plot. Grisly good guy with unbelievable aim. Fiery woman who at first resists him and then swoons all over him and falls at his feet. Posse of bad guys who couldn’t shoot a sleeping elephant on a sunny day. The good guy avoids getting shot, kills off the bad guys, and convinces the woman she’s dying to kiss him. There. Now you don’t have to waste another ten hours watching the Western marathons on AMC! You’re welcome.

  • Think that “The Avengers” was actually interesting

It wasn’t. It was a bunch of violent, strangely-dressed guys (and one girl) randomly fighting and blowing up things while talking about their confusing pasts that I know absolutely nothing about. Maybe if I had any clue who Captain America or Hawkeye was, I might actually appreciate that movie, but who has the time to read fifty million vintage comic books and find out?

*

Sorry if I come across kind of rant-ish this morning. Obviously I’ve been spending too much time with my guy friends and need to go shopping or something. 😉 Plus, I always like to rant on Saturdays for some reason. It makes me happy!

-Rachel