rachelcoker


Now Offering–Personal Writing Lessons!!

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This is something I’ve been planning for a looong time, and I’m so excited to finally get to make the announcement on my blog! Many of you have heard my story of how I grew to become a published author at the young age of sixteen. Well, I credit a huge part in my success to my wonderful writing coach Jonathan that I worked with for about a year when I was twelve/thirteen. Before I started working with Jonathan, I knew NOTHING about writing AT ALL. So I had to learn all the basics–adjectives, adverbs, characterization, plot building–you name it! And yet, somehow along that journey, I learned something else. I learned how to embrace my passion for writing–for crafting stories and developing characters and expressing myself through words. And now, I want to be able to do that for other young people out there in the big wide world of writing. I know that there are other girls (and maybe boys?) out there who have a passion for writing but maybe need a little push to help them fine-tune their craft. Maybe you’d like a second opinion on your work, or you think you could use a bit of help “perfecting” your writing before sending it out in the scary world of agents and editors and publishers.

That’s where I come in!

Basically, I want to be your friend and mentor. I want us to have an open relationship where we can talk about writing and where I can give you writing assignments once a week  and then see what flows from that. Ideally, you, as my student, will write short stories and I will look them over and write up my notes. Maybe I’ll notice that you need work developing your characterization, or setting up scenes, or working on pacing. Or maybe I’ll notice a bigger problem if I see you struggling with plotting out ahead of time or developing your tone of voice. As a seasoned writer and fresh set of eyes, I would be able to pick out these problems and work through them with you, helping you to learn to edit your own stories and stay on top of your own weaknesses.

Every month, I would also give you reading assignments based on whatever we were talking about. If I was trying to emphasize to you the importance of powerful dialog, for instance, I might have you read a play and would point out to you how that author used nothing but dialog to craft a strong story. Or we might read some poems as we study the rhythm of words and the flow of an idea. The power of literature is so important when you’re a writer, and everyone can benefit from reading (or re-reading!) the great classics that have paved the way for authors to come.

The main objective of my coaching would be not only to help you hone your writing abilities, but also to discover your artistic voice. To help you try out different styles of writing and storytelling, and help you discover what style of writing is really “you”. How can you best tell your story to the world through your pen?

It would also be a very personal and open relationship. If you were able to, I would love to start off our relationship with a little Skype chat and “get to know” each other. To talk about your goals and your favorite books and stories, and get to know a little about me, too. We would work our way through short stories, novellas, and eventually novels, all the while really analyzing your writing and discovering how to make you an even better storyteller.

I will admit that I knew practically nothing about writing until I was eleven years old, but I have learned to much over the years and I want nothing more than to share my passion with others! And to this day, no matter how nicely I think I’ve written something, I still have editors and agents who will go through and point things out and help me fine-tune my own abilities. I just want to do that for others!

Anyway, the tutoring would probably consist of an email a week. I would give you an assignment, then you would have a little under a week to complete it. You would send it in to me and I would email you back in a day or two with my comments, ideas, and your next assignment. You would (hopefully!) be constantly growing and learning and becoming aware of both your strengths and weaknesses.

Obviously, I will work on writing up a contract for my students. The cost will probably be $100 a month, and I will probably make the contract to be signed for three or four month increments at a time. I will also work on discovering contests, teen publication opportunities, and other fun opportunities for my students! The basic idea is that this should be like any other “sport” or instrumental lesson you might take in life. Just as if you were paying me to teach you piano, you’re paying for a professional opinion and for someone to work with you to develop your skill in this area. And then you would be expected to work on it your own throughout the week!
So when would this fabulous writing opportunity start? Haha, good question. Truth is, I’m pretty flexible. Right now, my schedule is pretty tied up until May, but starting at the beginning of the summer, I will be totally free! In fact, I’m stepping out on a limb with this and quitting my day job so that I have more time to work with my writing students. I’m praying that God will provide the number of students I need to make a decent living, but I feel like He’s laid this on my heart for this season in my life, so I’m optimistic that He will provide the writers!

If you and your parents are interested in lessons, or would like more information, please email me at rachelcokerwrites@hotmail.com. That’s right, I changed my email address. I’d really like to keep my private life and my professional life separate, so if you all could start emailing me at this account, I’d really appreciate it!

Even if you’re not interested or can’t afford it at this time, I do sincerely hope that you continue writing and know that you can email me any time with a question. I always answer, no matter how long it may take me to write up a reply!

So what do you think? Would this be like a dream come true for some of you, or do you think I’m crazy to be quitting my job to teach writing, of all things?

-Rachel

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Video Blog: Reading Reviews in British Accents

Okay, first off, can I just say “WOW” at all the book suggestions I got in my last post??? Seriously, you guys are the BEST! I can’t wait to get my hands on some of those titles I’d never heard of…. Mmmm…

So today my sisters and I decided to be totally weird and make a video of us reading a few of my favorite reviews of my newest book “Chasing Jupiter” in horribly corny British accents. Gah.

I know what question will be on all of your minds after viewing this… And the answer is no, we haven’t always been this amazing.

-Rachel


Looking for Book Suggestions???

Book suggestions

So, I feel like in my senior year of high school, I’ve hit a bit of a slump. I feel like I’ve run out of good books to read! Which I know is totally not true, but pains me nonetheless. I’ve worked my way through just about every “Literary Classics” list I can find, and I think I’ve read just about every great classic written by a dead author that I’ve heard of. So now I’m opening up the floor to suggestions from everyone. What books should I read this year?

Yikes, that’s kind of a broad questions, and I’m probably going to end up drawing a huge, unbearably extensive list of novels that I would in no way ever be interested in reading from some of my blog followers. But I guess that’s okay. I just need suggested titles that I can pick through and select a few promising books to read.

I suppose I should also premise this by admitting that I am NOT a fan of sci-fi fiction. Just thought I ought to throw that out there. “Lord of the Rings” is probably the most sci-fi-ish I’ve ever gotten, and I didn’t even like most of C. S. Lewis’ books because of that very fact. Um, I also don’t like trashy romance novels? You’ve probably realized that by now. 😉 I just thought I’d remind you.

At the end of the day, I love historical fiction, but I’m willing to try out some contemporary fiction if it’s written well and has high standards. I’m also willing to try out a few older classics that I may not have heard of before if you all suggest them. I’d also be willing to read children’s books, even though I’m seventeen, if they came highly recommended.

Basically, throw out some of your favorite book titles at me so that I can be entertained, okay? I’m totally using you guys for my own gain, and I’m not even all that guilty about it, to be quite frank…

-Rachel


In Which I Randomly List Interesting Things About Myself…

I feel like my blog has gotten boring lately. Boo! But some days I can’t think of anything interesting to write about. There just doesn’t seem to be too many interesting things going on to delight you all with. So, when brainstorming what to write about today, I had an aha! moment. Duh. I could write about myself! Then I groaned because that sounded so narcissistic and you guys hear about me all the time, but there has to be at least a few details you’ve never learned about me and my life! And since barely any of you actually know me in person, the least I can do is clue you in on a few of my more quirkier characteristics.

Ahem. Let’s make a list, shall we?

  • I’m an obsessive list maker. Obvs. You already knew this though, so moving on!
  • My best friend’s name is Tessa. She’s short and Asian and I’m rather tall and blindingly white, so externally we have just about nothing in common. But we enjoy being weird together. We take funny pictures. And give each other goofy Christmas presents. Like matching hats.

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  • I own my own photography business. Therefore I take lots of pictures. You can like my photography page here, thank you very much.
  • When I was younger, my dad honestly had me fooled into believing he was batman. Like, honestly truly believing. And I thought that one day I would become Batwoman and combat evil at his side. Then I grew up and got a brain and all my childhood dreams and hopes were shattered. But I’m not bitter or anything, no…
  • I passionately hate oranges. I do not like to eat anything orange flavored or with oranges in it. Yuck. While we’re on the topic, I hate fruit salad. Mingling fruits creep me out.
  • Bright colors just do it for me every time. Like I seriously believe that every single hot pink, yellow, turquoise blue, or blaze orange item of clothing in every store has a secret voice that only I can hear whispering, “Buy me, Rachel. Please, please buy me.” Therefore I have too many clothes. And my closet looks like this:

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  • Ray Charles is my favorite singer at the moment. Too bad he’s dead, or I would love to hear him in concert.
  • I love to dance the cha-cha.
  • Modern art is one of my favorite things to study and learn about. Jackson Pollock is my favorite artist. And I love to drag my poor sister to art museums and take random pictures by massive works of art. People stare, but we really do not care at all.

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  • The only pets I’ve ever owned were fish. They all died. I think I’m an unintentional animal killer, but I’m really not sure…
  • I make jokes that people don’t get a lot of the time. I have a reputation for people thinking I’m mean when I’m really trying to be funny. I have apologized for my humor numerous times and I think I will be doing that for the rest of my life.
  • My sister and I are spies. But don’t tell anyone.

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  • At sleepovers, I am usually the first to fall asleep and the first to wake up.
  • I like chocolate cake. It sometimes gives me headaches, but it’s worth it every time. 🙂 Also, this is how big we cut cake slices in our house:

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  • I can mimic just about any accent, from a North Carolina drawl to a British socialite to a Scottish warrior (Braveheart anyone?)
  • I can’t think of any non-awkward way of ending a list

-Rachel


Wishful Movie Thinking… Chasing Jupiter Edition!

Okay, so I got a really great response to my post last August outlining my dream cast and setting for a movie version of Interrupted. Therefore, it only seemed logical to do one for Chasing Jupiter, too!

Hopefully most of you have gotten a chance to read Chasing Jupiter by now, so I definitely want you to add your own imput and let me know what you think. This book felt a lot harder to cast, for some reason. I think because I had very vivid pictures in my head of how all these characters should look and talk, and it was difficult to find actors who fit my picky criteria. But after much searching and thinking, I’m pretty sure I’ve come up with a great cast.

But first off, the settings!

SETTINGS:

Scarlett’s Farmhouse: The Blaines aren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, and their house definitely reflects that. They live in this small country farmhouse in Georgia, with a long driveway and lots of trees. In my head, I imagine peeling paint, a worn-in front porch swing, and several bedroom windows looking out over the front lawn. I think this is pretty dead-on perfect:

I love how rustic and homey it is. Definitely a house that Scarlett could have grown up in with her crazy family.

Frank’s Peach Orchard: This one is kind of obvious, but a lot of the pivotal scenes in the book take place here. It’s a very luscious, green, sweet-smelling place. Scarlett and Cliff spend a lot of time here in the summer.

I also thought about adding Dotty’s house to the list of settings, but I couldn’t find any photos that match the visual I have in my head. So you’ll just have to imagine that one on your own. If they ever make a movie of Chasing Jupiter, I’ll just have to dictate a big, lengthy description to the set designer or something… 😉

So now we move on to…

CHARACTERS:

The first and most obvious character is:

Scarlett Blaine, played by… Madeline Carroll

Have you ever seen Flipped? It’s like, this totally adorable movie that I absolutely loved and continually draw inspiration from. That was the first time I noticed Madeline and I have to say, I think she would play the role of Scarlett perfectly. In the book, Scarlett has reddish hair and freckles, but I don’t even care that Madeline doesn’t fit that description. Because her personality is so spot-on, it makes up for any physical differences. Scarlett’s the girl who is so perfect in her own way, but she always fails to notice it. I feel like Madeline would do a great job portraying that, and I’d love to see how she could progress Scarlett from the un-confident kid she is in the beginning of the book, to someone who understands her place in the world. Madeline could always dye her hair later if you guys are going to be that darn picky. 😉

Frank Leggett, played by… Lucas Till

Let’s just forget he was ever in The Hannah Montana Movie. I’m willing to forgive that. He’s such a perfect Frank. The book describes Frank as having “a wonderfully handsome face when he smiled, like the difference between a small flame and a blazing fire. His eyes were a gold-green, crinkling up at the corners.” Um, yep. Just stand there and look cool, Lucas. You know you have this Southern-farmer-meets-sweet-veterinarian-boy thing in the bag.

Cliff Blaine, played by… Seth Robert Dusky

Ugh. Cliff was such a hard person to cast in my imaginary dream movie. He’s a very critical part of the book, and he really carries a lot of the scenes. I needed an actor who could be sweet and innocent, but also incredibly intelligent and wise-beyond-his-years. I’m still not one hundred percent sure I’ve got it right. But I think I do. Seth seems like a pretty close-to-perfect Cliff. That expression in his eyes, just behind his semi-shaggy hair. There’s a certain amount of Cliff-ness in it. Do you think so?

Grandpop Barley, played by…. Ian McKellen

Because if you can have anyone play the senile grandfather in your book-turned-imaginary-movie, why not go for Gandalf? 😉 Mr. McKellen has the perfect face for Grandpop Barley, and I think he would just be adorable in a peanut-buttery red tie and glasses. Perfect.

Juli Blaine, played by… Carlie Casey

Juli’s the sister you love to hate. She’s pretty, and she knows it. She’s rebellious, but she doesn’t care that you disapprove of it. She does whatever she wants and flirts with whomever she chooses and dyes her hair a sweet shade of blue. Scarlett spends her whole life wanting to be like her without realizing that Juli’s not as perfect as she seems. I think Carlie would rock the turquoise hair, and she has that devil-may-care kind of look about her that would make playing Juli a cinch.

Dotty Greene, played by… Reese Witherspoon (of course!)

Yay!!! My super-celebrity pick for Chasing Jupiter would obviously be Reese for the role of Dotty, the preacher’s wife. I realize, of course, that Reese is uber-famous and would probably never star in my yet-to-actually-be-made movie, but I still think she’s perfect for the role. Check out the look on her face. Does that not have “Dotty” written all over it? And the bumped-up blonde hair? Reese, all you have to do is rescue a chicken and you’ll definitely get the part.

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So, that’s my celebrity and setting pickings for Chasing Jupiter. Gosh, it’s so much fun to imagine making a movie, I don’t think I could handle the gleeful joy of actually having one produced. It’s probably a good thing I live about a billion miles from Hollywood. 😉

-Rachel


Video Blog: Catching Up Everyone

It’s been a while since I’ve done a video blog! But it’s good to be back! 🙂

-Rachel


My Super Cool New Friend: Part Two

So you guys remember when I posted those really cute pictures last week featuring my amazing friend Elaini from misselanious.com? Well, guess what? I have even more pictures to share with you all! Because not only did we decide to roam around the library wearing matching classy trench coats, but we also tiptoed around in tulle skirts and heels.

It continues to just completely blow my mind how two young women, who have only met once, can have such a beautiful relationship. The Lord really does bring people into our lives for a reason, and I know that is why He has given me Elaini’s friendship at this point in my life! It’s so nice to have a friend who can also be your sister in Christ and role model in just about every way. And I love how even though we live over two thousand miles apart, we can message each other randomly or Skype for hours and talk about nothing and everything all at once. We have no mutual friends, no history of “good old times” and no knowledge of when we’ll ever see each other in person again, but all that doesn’t matter. We can still be the dearest companions who genuinely love each other and pray for each other constantly. Isn’t it amazing that God could do that in our lives?

Anyway, I’m veering into gushy territory and I really just want to let you all look at these pictures. So enjoy! Be sure to check out Elaini’s blog and please, please, please consider giving a donation toward those adorable little kiddos in India. It would just make both of our days. 🙂

Check out Elaini’s blog for even more pictures!

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Perspective

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Which is kind of strange because I feel like when all is going well in life, I tend to just skip on down my yellow brick road, totally and completely oblivious to anything anyone might say to me or about me. This is me a pretty good percentage of the time. Happy and oblivious, like a toddler who’s never considered the fact that Dora the Explorer’s mother lets her go tramping about alone in the woods with a singing backpack and monkey wearing boots.

And then every now and then I happen to have a day (or two) where something happens that really causes me to think. And I know it’s always a God-thing, because it’s always those days that cause me to re-evaluate just how much His presence means in my life. Lately this has been manifesting itself in my own self-image and perspective on life. Because sometimes, I am just not happy with the way God made me.

It’s a really weird thing to blog about, mostly because I don’t know any of you and you don’t really know me, so it’s not like we can have an actual balanced discussion on this topic. For all you know, I could be some deranged psycho who just happens to be good at balancing truths with snarky witticisms and writing sappy fairytales. But a lot of who I am can’t even be translated into a blog, or an interview, or a vlog video. Because I’m a seventeen-year-old girl and I have so many faults and imperfections and things that I hate about myself, both physically and mentally.

Anyway, I’m just like all other teenage girls and sometimes I have days where I struggle with image, jealousy, and self-pity, just like everyone else. And it’s always tough to have to sit myself down and truly understand the fact that I will always be aware of my own imperfections and struggles, and probably always be a bit envious of the gifts and successes of others. It’s something that comes up quite often as I examine my heart, and something that I’ve really been praying about lately.

And so, whenever I have those days where I feel second-best or dissatisfied with the way God made me, I just take it to the Lord in prayer. I pour out my heart to Him and pray for satisfaction in Him. And the more that I pray about it, the more at peace I feel in my own heart about God’s hand in my life.

Before the world even began, God smiled to Himself as He wove together the seams of my life. He knew how I would look, how I would grow and love Him, and the things that He would lead me to do during my time on earth. He made me exactly the way that I am, with all my imperfections and quirks, because He knew that it was through those faults and cracks that He would be most glorified.

The Lord doesn’t always glory in the mighty, in the brilliant, in the socially succesful, or in the gorgeous. The Lord works through the lives of everyday, ho-hum people who honestly love Him and want to serve Him with their lives. And when I waste precious moments of His time comparing myself to others or wondering why on earth He wouldn’t give me certain gifts of abilities, I am not only hurting myself but also the cause of my Creator. Because God isn’t glorified in my dissatisfaction and complaints. He’s not honored in my vanity, or my self-pity.

It takes a different type of perspective to honestly please Him with my life. It takes understanding that I have a purpose–a beauty in God’s eyes. That even on the days that I feel stupid and silly and dull, He is still working through me. Working through my imperfections to point others to Christ. It’s a wonderful, glorious truth that I feel I have fully realized over the past few days. A truth that warms my heart and fills me with nothing but joy and love for others. It erases bitterness, wipes out jealousy, and leaves no room for hurt feelings. God loves me, and that very fact makes my life worth something.

-Rachel


Movie Bucket List

Being the notorious list-maker that I am, I made a bucket list of movies that I wanted to see last year way back at the beginning of 2012. It included great classics like “Psycho”, movie theater smashes like “Snow White and the Huntsman”, old-fashioned chick flicks such as “Pillow Talk”, and even random foreign films like “Pierrot le Fou.” And I am happy to say that I totally reached my goal and saw 24 movies that I’d always wanted to watch! Some I had to rent, others check out from the library, and some even buy or watch in theaters, but at the end of the year I felt so much more cultured! Not saying I enjoyed every film (in fact, there were a few I hated), but it felt so good to get that many more classic films and modern blockbusters under my belt.

So, in the same vein, I decided to make a list of movies I want to see in 2013. Some of you may have figured out by now that I am a huge film junkie, and absolutely adore movies for their creative directing, cinematography, and witty screenplays. So most of my favorite movies tend to be kind of off-beat and below-the-radar. Like, I’ve seen just about every Hitchock film ever made and I count random old French films as among some of my favorites. 😉

Anyway, I thought I might share with you a few of the movies I’m really hoping to see in 2013! Not sure if I’ll like any or all of these, since I haven’t even seen them yet, but here are some of the titles I plan on checking out. And if any of you have any great movie selections, I’d love to add to my list! I have seen a huge repertoire of films, especially old classics (I hate TV, so I watch old black and white movies instead), but I know there are still a few I haven’t heard of!

The Artist (2011)

The Artist

 

 

 

 

 

Life is Beautiful (1997)

Life is Beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bright Star (2009)

Bright Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thin Man (1934)

The Thin Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corpse Bride (2005)

Corpse Bride

 

 

 

 

 

Paris When It Sizzles (19647

Paris When it Sizzles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle in the Sky (1986)

Castle in the Sky

 

 

 

 

 

Have you seen any of these movies? What films or books are on your bucket list this year?

-Rachel