I have a friend. That’s right–I HAVE A FRIEND!!!! Haha, that’s big news obviously. 😉 Well, not really, but what’s really big news is that I have a friend that I never thought I’d have. Because when I started reading Elaini’s blog way back in 2011, she seemed more like a celebrity than a real-life person. I stalked her for months, was touched by her story, got very wrapped up in her amazing 100 Days Project, and even dropped a few comments like a total creeper. So imagine my utter surprise when, a little over a month ago, I got an email in my inbox from Elaini HERSELF, talking about how she’d followed my comment and been checking out my blog, and was totally excited and impressed by little old ME.
Obviously, we were both super ecstatic about each other, and after dozens of long emails and several super-long Skype chats, we decided to meet up during my trip to Seattle. We realized that God was obviously bringing us together for a reason. Why else would He have me flying all the way across the country, a mere three hours away from Elaini and her family, only a few weeks after we got in contact?
So we decided to spend a day together–taking pictures, running up and down escalators, putting on makeup in the library bathrooms, and spending hours sitting around drinking lemonade and chatting with our mothers. It was absolutely wonderful, and we’re already messaging every day and counting down the days until we get to see each other again!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Elaini’s blog, misselainous, I would definitely encourage you to check it out! She is a wonderful, inspiring young lady who has a beautiful heart for the Lord and for orphans. In fact, she has raised over $71,000 for orphans in India through her blog! If you haven’t given yet, I would encourage you to hop on over there and give even a small donation. Think of all the good you can do with just a $10, 20, or 30 donation! It would mean so, so much to me, and I’m sure my friend would appreciate it, too! Also, you can follow Elaini and track her journey on Twitter! She’s @Misselaini.
Anyway, here is the first part of our photoshoot. We shot two different looks–so be sure to check back next week for look #2! And thank you to my sweet mother for offering to take the pictures. And for Elaini and her mom for driving up to Seattle to see us! I can’t wait to see you again, my friend! 🙂
For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you probably read my post explaining that my flight home from Seattle was cancelled and I had to stay another day, keeping me from being able to finish typing out my “Sleeping Beauty” story until this morning. So sorry about that! I really did want to have it posted on Sunday, but I left my notebook at home thinking I’d be back to finish it Sunday afternoon. And then OF COURSE Chicago decided to pour down buckets of freezing rain and absolutely trap me in my new favorite city for an extra twenty-four hours. Darn! 😉 (I am, of course, not upset at all and was in fact thrilled to stay an extra day in Seattle!)
Anyway, here is the epilogue for the “Sleeping Beauty” story. It’s short and sweet, but I think it nicely wraps everything up with a nice little bow on top. It still amazes me how much you all have been enjoying this, and now I’m torn as to what story to start posting next! I guess you’ll have to wait until Sunday to figure out…
Meanwhile, I have lots of pictures to post this week! And some that I think you will find especially interesting include lots of great shots of me and my newest friend Elaini from www.misselainious.com. I’m just bursting at the seams to share them with you–It’s such a wonderful, God-story to tell! 🙂
We were married the next morning. I had the tailor refit my old lace gown so I could wear it on my special day. Daniel said I never looked prettier.
We moved to the seaside castle and made it our own. A few months later, Hannah and Prince Carl were wed. Prince Carl declared that he’d loved Hannah all along, but hadn’t realized it until I was taken. Some may have been skeptical, but Hannah was just glad she won her Prince Charming.
Daniel and I had many children, all with my dark curls and his blue eyes. They enjoyed climbing trees and making faces at our guests. We liked to say they got it from us.
Flora got promoted to official nurse of all castle children. She liked to call herself the “Official Playmate”.
In their old age, Mother and Father handed over the throne to Daniel and I, and spent the rest of their days as joyful grandparents. Who were surprisingly around for most of the time.
So with joy, happiness, and love forever more, we all lived happily ever after.
Just thought I’d let you guys know that I’m in Seattle this weekend to sign copies of “Chasing Jupiter” for the ALA (American Library Association) Conference!!! For those of you who are interested in following us along on our trip, I’ll be posting lots of photos and updates on my Facebook page and Twitter (@RachelCoker3). And then, of course, I’ll post lots of pics when I get back!!! 🙂
Yes, I’m late this week. But I had a crazy weekend, so I’m using that as my excuse. Also, in case you haven’t heard yet, I’m headed to Seattle this weekend to sign books at the ALA Conference!!!! 😀 So obviously I’m way busy. You know, keeping up with the life of a best selling novelist and all. 😛
Anyway, this is the end of the “Sleeping Beauty” series. Can you believe it??? Well, plus an epilogue next week. No idea what made 12-year-old me decide to end the story so abruptly, but maybe it had something to do with the fact that this was the first and only kissing scene I’ve ever written (hello! It’s “Sleeping Beauty”!) and I may have felt awkward and decided to cut it off. Not sure.
But I hope you enjoy! And if you want to stroll back down memory lane of this story, check out the old installments here.
Prince Carl won archery, speed, and, believe it or not, dancing. It was evident that he was going to win. One by one, depressed princes saddled up their horses and rode away. Prince Carl was by far Mother’s favorite, and had mastered every sport. The only thing left for him to conquer was my heart. And boy, did he try.
On the night before the last tournament, Prince Carl and I sat before the fire as he tried to woo me. Mother, Hannah, and Daniel played cards nearby, by I could tell they were all watching us.
Prince Carl kissed my hand. “You look very beautiful in the firelight, Valerie. May I call you Valerie?”
“Yes!” Mother called out.
Prince Carl smiled. “Then you may call me Carl. Tell me, Valerie, who do you wish to win tomorrow? It will be your seventeenth birthday, and the curse will be over. It never had to be broken.”
No one. “Oh, I don’t know, Prince—I mean—Carl.”
He leaned closer. “Well, I hope it shall be me, and I hope I have captured the heart of the most precious jewel ever crafted.”
Daniel grunted. I moved away from the prince and looked over at him. His face was a storm. I wanted to wipe away the anger from his brow. My fingers itched to smooth his hair and make him smile.
Prince Carl turned me to him and grinned. He began to lean in. I glanced at Mother, who was smiling at us. Hannah sighed wistfully at the handsome prince about to kiss me. But Daniel’s eyes met mine. There was sorrow there—a sort of sadness. I felt my heart crumple as the prince closed his eyes and pulled me to him.
No! I didn’t want to kiss him! But I couldn’t push him away. Mother would kill me if I did. I closed my eyes and braced myself. Softly, the prince’s lips brushed mine. Then more firmly. He pulled away slowly and grinned.
I looked down. Let him think I was blushing. I couldn’t let him see my hot tears of anger. I felt like a china doll! Mother sold me off to a man I hardly knew and made me kiss him unwillingly. And in front of Daniel!
A soft knock sounded at the door. A sweet elderly maid limped in, pushing a tray of food. “A nighttime snack for the lovebirds?”
“Oh, yes!” Mother clapped her hands. “It’s been a most wondrous night! Let us end it nicely.”
The maid passed out apples to everyone. “Here,” she said, enclosing an apple in my hand. “This will help heal your pain, your highness,” she whispered.
I wiped my eyes and grabbed the apple. I opened my mouth and took a big, juicy bite. Mmmm…
Suddenly, the room began spinning. The maid cackled. Mother screamed. I saw the old woman vanish right before I crumpled in a heap on the ground.
I spun around and around. Colors danced before me. Blue, purple, black. The old maid’s face loomed in front of me. It grew and grew, surrounding me. “Ha, ha, ha!” It began to change. It looked younger, prettier. The skin began to purple as the wrinkles were wiped away. Her eyes shown with hatred. Malkaka. The witch!
She began to chase me. I ran and ran, but I couldn’t get away. All I could do was keep running. A cliff! I screamed. There was a burst of light. And then darkness.
I was in bed. I tried to open my eyes but they wouldn’t open. I couldn’t move!
I heard voices around me. “It’s the curse.” Mother. She sobbed out loud. “How can it be broken?” Prince Carl. I hated him. “Her true love has to kiss her.” Daniel. “That’s you, Carl!” Hannah. “You kissed her last night!”
Last night? And I’d only just awoken. Only, I guess I wasn’t really awake. I couldn’t lift my head or open my eyes.
“Yes, Carl.” Mother again. “Kiss her! Wake her up!”
He cleared his throat. A moment later, his lips touched mine. I tried to wiggle my toes. Nothing happened.
He tried more urgently. Again and again.
“Enough!” Mother shouted. “That fool fairy Faulina’s gift didn’t work.”
“Unless…” Hannah’s voice sounded thoughtful. “Unless Prince Carl isn’t her true love!”
“Well, who else could it be?” Mother sounded annoyed. “Don’t tell me I’m going to have to let every prince in the kingdom come and kiss my daughter.”
“What if he’s not a prince?” Hannah sounded excited.
There was silence for a moment. Then Daniel. “Don’t look at me like that! I’m not her true love.”
Flora! “You don’t love Valerie, sweet?”
He sounded uncertain. “Well, I do love her. I’ve always loved her, ever since I saw her climb that giant tree when she was ten. But I’m not her true love.”
“What makes you think so?” Flora’s voice was reassuring. “Are you afraid she doesn’t love you back? Valerie loves you, sweet. You’re the only boy she’s ever talked about. Just look at how she watches you. You can’t tell me you’ve never seen it in her eyes.”
I did love him. With all my heart I loved him. I wanted to sing it out. I wanted everyone to know! I wanted Daniel to know. I wanted to love him forever.
“I agree with Flora,” Hannah said. “Valerie’s always talking about you. Didn’t you see how she was looking at you last night?”
Daniel must have still been hesitant, for I heard Mother whisper, “Please Daniel. Please, just kiss her.”
Everything was silent. Then I could feel his breath fluttering on my cheek. My heart pounded. Then it happened. His lips finally found mine.
My eyelashes fluttered. My hands flew up and grabbed Daniel’s collar as I breathed in deeply. Air. I was awake!
I opened my eyes and found myself staring into Daniel’s blue ones. He smiled slowly. I beamed back. Then I reached up and kissed him again. I’d never felt so alive.
“Harold,” I heard Mother say to a duke, “Valerie’s going to need a wedding dress. Soon.”
Stay tuned for epilogue….
Soooooo….. Let me just start off by saying that I was so. touched. that so many of you entered my book giveaway. And not only entered, but shared all those sweet comments about how much my books have meant to you and how inspired you are by my story and how you can’t wait to get your hands on the next books. Seriously, as I was scrolling through the comments this morning, reading each one, it almost brought tears to my eyes to think of such a wonderful loving community showering me with such encouragement. You are all such blessings in my life and I wish I could send copies of my book to every single one of you!
Unfortunately, the postage for that would be outrageous, and I have a car to keep gas in now, so sadly I’m going to have to pick one winner of the giveaway. And the random number generator deemed that would be number twenty-three, also known as… Joy Richardson!!!!!
Yeep!!! Joy, I’ll email you to get your contact info. Hope you enjoy your two new books! And as for everyone else, thank you so much for entering and please show your support by going and getting a copy of “Chasing Jupiter” today. And then, if you are ever in the Richmond, Cincinnati, or Seattle area and would like your book to be signed, just contact me and I’ll let you know where to find me! 🙂
Also, I couldn’t help but share this absolutely beautiful paragraph my ten-year-old sister Ruthie wrote the other day. She had read a biography on the amazing missionary Amy Carmichael for a book club her friends were hosting, and had been asked to write a paragraph on what she learned from Amy’s story. And this is what she wrote:
“[Amy Carmichael] was so passionate about the gospel and she shared it. That is how we should live our lives, loving and sharing the gospel every moment we can.”
Wow. I have to admit my eyes teared up when my mom showed me her words yesterday. Does God constantly humble and inspire us through the words and actions of those who we never would have considered great theologians, and yet who understand the simple spiritual truths that should govern our daily lives?
Hope you all have a great weekend! I’ll post the next part of the “Sleeping Beauty” story tomorrow, since I know ya’ll are anxious…
Sooooo, you may be wondering what I’ve been up to lately. Here’s the lowdown.
I bought a car.
Oooooh…. impressive, right??? Haha, hold your horses. It’s not a NEW car. In fact, it’s ten years old. But it ‘s a Honda and they run for like forever, right? (Here’s hoping)
Anyway, I drive my car in classy vintage dresses and store old LIFE magazines in the back seat, naturally. Because I am Rachel Coker, afterall. And I’m also a bit weird.
This photo is actually a part of a project I’ve been working on since the New Year. It’s called a “365 Project”, and those of you who have the good sense to have already liked my photography page on Facebook have been following along, right? Anyway, I basically post a photo everyday of me, my sisters, my friends, my family, or just random snippets of my life. The project is mostly un-book/blog related stuff, so you won’t find much of it here. I’m talking about me, my friends, and my real, normal life. Quite frankly, it’s a rather overwhelming project, but I already can’t wait until the year is over and I can look back over photographic glimpses of the past 365 days of my life. It’s going to be so. exciting.
Also, I’ve dipped my toes into the world of Twitter. Yep, that’s right, folks! I’m tweeting! It’s so breathtakingly exciting! (Haha, can you hear the sarcasm in my voice??) Actually, I fought the pressure to get a Twitter account for so long, but now that I have one I’m kind of loving it. It’s so easy to connect with my readers and get to know people! For those of you who have an account, feel free to follow me @RachelCoker3. I’m actually hosting a live Q&A chat Thursday afternoon at 2 PM EST, where I’ll be answering any questions you all might have about writing, publishing, or my new book Chasing Jupiter. It’ll be totally casual and fun, and a great chance for us all to interact and hang out together for about an hour. 🙂 I really hope all of you join in on the conversation and keep me from feeling like I’m tweeting out to an empty cyberuniverse… *gulp*
I also ate a salad for lunch. For the past five days. Which means I’m slowly turning insane. Or healthy. You pick.
What have you been up to so far this year? Have any of you gotten your hands on Chasing Jupiter yet???
And here it is, the eagerly anticipated second part of the seventh chapter! (Whew, that was a mouthful! Why do blog entries have to be so short and make me keep chopping up my chapters? Seriously.)
I’m so loving sharing this story with all of you, and I’m going to be so sad when it’s over! 😦 I’m already trying to decide what story I want to share next… I have a few in mind!
As always, if you need to catch up, here are the last few installments of this lovely little story I wrote way back in 2008, when I was twelve.
Chapter Seven, Cont’d
The next day my plan was set to action. Mother dolled me up, letting little curls fall from my bun and dabbing perfume on my neck. But she couldn’t wipe away the mischievous gleam from my eye.
As soon as Mother excused herself from the breakfast table I pretended to get sleepy. The princes watched with a mixture of surprise and horror as I yawned and stretched in public. One prince said something funny and I made sure my laugh was the loudest and my snort distinct. Daniel, who was standing behind his prince, laughed longer than anyone when he heard it.
Then Mother re-entered and I was a perfect doll again. Tiny sips, dainty smiles, and polite giggles. The princes frowned in confusion as Mother beamed. Inside, I beamed, too.
The first prince contest I watched was horseback riding. I sat in my chair, exasperated. It was ridiculous! How could having the fastest horse make someone suitable to be my true love and Caledonia’s next king?
I saw Daniel standing nearby, shading his eyes from the burning sun in order to watch.
“You there! Servant boy!” I called to him. No one but Hannah would recognize him anyway.
His eyes lit with amusement when he saw me calling him. Obediently, he came. “Yes, your highness?”
“Fan me.” I said as haughtily as I could. I turned to the other servants in my viewing box. “You may leave.”
Once they had all filed out, Daniel threw down the fan. “Fan me?” he mimicked with a grin.
I smiled back. “How was my performance at breakfast?”
He bowed. “Marvelous, I must say.” Then he leaned against the box’s wall. “Prince Carl was confused, that’s for sure.”
“Is he the one with the black hair and blue eyes that you’re always standing behind?”
Daniel shrugged. “Yeah, that’s him. He’s not that bad, though. He’s actually really smart, especially at arithmetic.”
I grinned teasingly. “Hmmm… He is good-looking. Maybe I should be pulling for him.”
I expected Daniel to laugh. Instead his eyebrows knotted together somewhat fiercely. “I have to go.” He began to turn.
“Wait.” I stood and grabbed his sleeve.
He turned abruptly. “Yes?”
We stood together, face to face. I opened my mouth to say something, then shut it. I had to tilt my face up to look him in the eye, he had grown so tall. He squinted at the sun shining in his clear blue eyes and raised an eyebrow at me. My hand was still on his arm.
I pulled it off as if I was on fire and stuck it behind me. “It was just a joke,” I stammered. “You don’t have to go.”
He shrugged and walked over to the edge of my box to watch the race in silence.
I sat down in my seat, confused. I was glad he couldn’t see the range of emotions having their own race across my face. Why did my stomach feel so fluttery? It’s just Daniel.
The winning horse flew over the finish line. Everyone cheered and stomped their feet. “And the winner is… Prince Carl of Moravia!” Mother nodded approvingly as the handsome prince waved to everyone.
Daniel turned to me. “They’re bringing him here to present to you.”
“Oh,” I frantically stuck a handful of grapes in my mouth.
“Your highness,” the duke motioned for the young prince to bow. “Prince Carl of Moravia.”
Mother turned to say something to a servant. This was my chance! I gave a little curtsy, but managed to stumble a bit. Then I smiled at him with a mouth full of grapes.
He wrinkled his nose.
Hah! Victory for Valerie!
Then he gave me a charming smile. “I hope to achieve the honor of your hand and kiss, your highness.” He bowed again.
I swallowed the grapes. Daniel grunted. Mother beamed.
Inside, I screamed.
To be continued…
It finally happened… After all those months of waiting and waiting and WAITING…. I finally got my copy of “Chasing Jupiter” in the mail!!! I would go on and on about how surreal, amazing, etc. it was to hold the book in my hands, but me tell you… myself. In a vlog video, of course!
Also, I’m hosting a very special giveaway for all my readers!!!! That’s right, I’m asking you to enter to win TWO autographed books. You won’t win just “Chasing Jupiter”, but BOTH of my books, autographed to you personally!!! (Ohmygosh, did she just say “personally”??? It’s the chance of a lifetime, folks)
Anyway, to win, just comment below with your name and email address. Giveaway ends next Friday, January 18th and I’ll announce the winner the next day on my blog.
For extra entries, you can share this post on Facebook (be sure to say something about how excited you are to be entering this giveaway!) or tweet about it! And then make sure you comment below and let me know what you’ve done so I can enter you again!
Good luck and thank you all for your support! Go ahead and order yourself a copy of “Chasing Jupiter” and give it to your best friend if you win the giveaway. Or, better yet, get your best friend to enter, too! 😉
Aaaaannnddd… I’m on time this week!!! 🙂 Yep, I found time today to type up the first part of Chapter Seven, which, believe it or not, is a very long chapter. But I think you ladies (and men???) are going to love where the story takes you this week… I’ll just hush up already so you can enjoy it. 😉
“Oh my goodness, what should you wear?”
It was 4:30 in the morning and Mother was pushing through my newly-arrived trunks like a wild hen. “Does the lace gown I gave you a few years ago still fit?”
I yawned and stretched, rolling over in bed. “Hardly.”
Mother frowned. It was odd to see her in her dressing gown instead of a lavish dress. Sometimes it was hard to imagine that the queen, mother or not, was a normal person.
Mother pulled out a light yellow gown with short, puffy sleeves and a long train. The bodice of the ballgown was laced with glittering diamond specks.
I already knew that gown was itchy. I had tried it on only once, to wear to a neighboring kingdom’s ball, but I had to fake a headache and sneak out early so I could rush upstairs and take it off. It was so uncomfortable, but it had just the razzle-dazzle Mother desired.
“This one’s perfect!” She cried, clapping her hands. She looked so happy that for once I wished I could get even a little bit excited over gowns and jewelry.
“Oh, and I’ll have my hairdresser do your hair. And you’ll have to wear your diamond tiara of course. Oh, oh, oh! Every prince there will fall head over heels, darling.” Mother stroked my dark curls, her eyes shining. Then she snapped back to queen-mode. “Now go take a bath, Valerie. And use your sweetest bath salts.”
I looked in the mirror. My gown was on, my face scrubbed, my hair piled-up, and my tiara glistening. I looked radiant.
But I wanted to look hideous. I wanted to repulse all my unwanted suitors. An idea flashed through my mind. Repulse them.
I sniffed loudly and scrunched up my nose in the mirror. Disgusting. I giggled. And then charming once again.
Mother frowned. “What are you doing?”
I sobered quickly. “Nothing. Ready?”
She sighed and replied, “I suppose.” Then she waltzed down the staircase before me. In her dark green gown, she made a stunning appearance. Down below, I could hear snippets of her announcement to the princes. “Today… lovely… marriage… princess… noble… bravest…wins!” Then she raised her voice. “And now you may meet Valerie Antonia Clarisse, Princess of Caledonia and heir to the throne.”
I took a deep breath. I was soon to be face-to-face with the man who would “win” my heart. Which of the terrible candidates would it be?
I grabbed the skirt of my light yellow gown and slowly descended the staircase. I could hear the whispers and gasps as my gloved hand slid down the rail. Slowly and fearfully, I looked up and felt my eyes drawn with a somewhat magnetic gaze into a familiar face below. Daniel.
I completely froze, gaping at him. He wore servants’ clothes and stood by a tall and arrogant-looking prince. My mind whirled. To think that I should meet him here, of all places, and with him a servant to one of the princes seeking my hand!
I must have looked very unladylike, staring at Daniel all goggly-eyed, because Mother shot me a disapproving glare. I wasn’t to publicly acknowledge a servant. Sadly, my gaze returned to the ground as I stepped off the steps.
Mother introduced me to each of the princes and I curtsied politely, but my mind was miles away. I didn’t dare look at Daniel’s grinning face again, and Mother didn’t bother introducing him to me anyway. “Princess Valerie must return to her chambers now, gentlemen. But she will greet you every evening at supper.”
As I passed Daniel, I hastily whispered, “Arbor.”
His eyes twinkled and I knew he understood. Once I was upstairs, I hastily changed into a simple dress and informed Hannah that I wished to go for a walk.
“Of course, Valerie. I’ll get our wraps.”
What? “Um, no.” I grabbed her arm. “I’d rather go alone, if you don’t mind.”
“I suppose.” She shrugged and returned to her book.
I practically flew to the rose arbor. Daniel was waiting. “Daniel!” I cried, running toward him.
“Valerie!” He grabbed me and spun me around, as if nothing had changed after all this time. “My, you’re even bigger and prettier than ever!” He immediately flushed, but I beamed anyway.
“Haven’t you ever learned not to tell a girl she’s gotten big?” I winked cheekily. “Oh, it’s no matter. You don’t look so bad yourself.” He was much taller than he’d been the last time I saw him. He had finally filled out in his shoulders, but had managed to stay slender. His blue eyes sparkled with mischief as he sat back down. Those beautiful eyes… I blinked. But that didn’t matter in friendship, of course.
He grinned, but soon sobered. “I heard about Ruth.” He pressed his lips together and gently touched my hand. “Thank you for being there when she died.”
It hadn’t even been a week. His pain was still fresh.
He leaned closer and frowned. “Why did you have to leave home? Why do you need a prince?”
His gaze burned. “I don’t want a prince. Mother is forcing me into an arranged marriage. I’m as miserable as a goat.”
For some reason, a smile danced across his lip. “How do we even know goats are miserable?”
I rolled my eyes. “I don’t know. They just are, okay?”
He grinned. “So what’s your plan for getting out of it?”
I wiggled my eyebrows. “Repulsion.”
He shook his head. “Wouldn’t work. You’re too pretty and too rich.”
I batted my eyelashes. “Have you ever fallen in love with a princess who slurped her soup, burped out loud, and snorted when she chuckled?”
He laughed out loud. “Brilliant, Val! Brilliant!”
To be continued…
I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning and headed into Richmond to be interviewed for the second time this year by our local CBS 6 “Virginia This Morning” show. My stomach was a flurry of butterflies, but God heard all of your prayers and completely put me at ease. Plus, the anchors and crew were so completely sweet and encouraging, which definitely helped!
Even though this is the second time I’ve been interviewed on TV, my mom and I haven’t gotten over how surreal the experience with, and we proceeded to take a million photos like the cheesy homeschoolers we are. 😛
So watch the video and let me know what you think!!!!