Hi, everyone! Rachel Coker here. I’ll have to admit that when Stephanie first invited me to write as a guest-blogger for Go Teen Writers I was a little overwhelmed. But then, as I looked over past posts and read all of your comments encouraging each other and offering advice and support, I had a miraculous change of heart. This is exactly the type of community that I wish I’d been a part of when I first started out writing.
Every time I think about all the teens out there, all over the country and across the globe, who are as passionate about writing as I am, it gives me hope. Hope that the market will open up and be more willing to receive books by average teenage kids with amazing talent and passion.
If you had asked me six years ago what my life would have looked like at sixteen, I’m one hundred percent sure I would have had no clue. I thought my days would be filled with school and rushing around to get to my day job. I always figured I’d be scrimping and saving for college, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life. I never thought I’d be a writer. I never imagined I’d have a book published before I even finished eleventh grade. But God had different plans in store for my teenage years.
My life changed course in the summer of 2010. I hadn’t been writing fiction for very long—maybe two or three years at the most—but I’d just finished working on a book. A novel. At fourteen, I felt like it was something of an accomplishment. Of course, that was back when I thought I was all alone in the world as an aspiring author. I was self-conscious, unsure, insecure, and all the other things that normal fourteen year olds are when they evaluate their own abilities. I never spoke a word of my writing to anyone outside of my family. No one knew about my book, no one even knew that I wrote! It was something I kept to myself, nervous of the reactions I would get if people found out.
So how did my life turn upside down, in spite of my fears and reservations? Well, one afternoon, I decided to see if I could get published. Yeah, it was pretty much that unexciting. I asked my mom if I could send a query letter to a couple agents, and she said yes. So I Googled “Christian literary agents” and came up with a short list. Then, after a few prayers, I sent out emails to about a dozen agents. Long story short, one of them decided to work with me and my parents quickly realized that this was serious and they had to read this book I’d written.
By Christmas, my then fifteen-year-old self had a contract with Zondervan for my first YA novel, Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words.
That was a little over a year ago. And since then, my world hasn’t been the same. In the middle of all the marketing and interviews (including one on this very blog with Stephanie!), I realized something. The very best thing that has happened to me through all of this is that God has let me interact with so many teenagers from all over the country who share the same hopes as me. Teens who just want to write, and be heard. They have something to say, and their only desire is for God to give them a chance to say it. Just like me.
I don’t know how much I have to say about writing, or life, but I guess I’ll find out over the next few months! I’m just a sixteen-year-old girl who struggled her way through geometry and is still trying to pass her driver’s license test (it’ll happen soon, I tell you!), but I still like to believe that there are some teens out there interested in my story. Who will be encouraged to find out that unlikely things can happen, and that a teenager can publish a book. Who will find comfort in the knowledge that God can use our talents no matter how old we are.
Stephanie and I agreed that I would guest post on Go Teen Writers once a month. I’ll talk about writing and the publishing process, as well as offering any personal stories or advice that other teens can learn from. If you want to hear from me on a more regular basis, you can check out my personal blog. [Caution: I sometimes ooze sarcasm and talk about pie way too much]
I do accept all kinds of questions from readers and try to give answers pretty regularly. Also, if you want to know more about this elusive novel of mine, pre-order it here and get your copy by March!
Thanks again for having me, and hopefully this will be the first of many posts here!