Rachelle was one of the first readers of the Go Teen Writers blog, has taken her craft very seriously these last few years despite the heavy commitments of college students, and her debut novel releases this month with WhiteFire Press.
I wanted to know how Rachelle went from aspiring teen writer to published author, and she agreed to be interviewed. To celebrate her achievement, we're giving away an ebook of her novel The Sound of Diamonds.
Rachelle, would you please share a thing or two that made a big difference in improving your writing craft?
The thing that has made the biggest difference? Reading books in my chosen genre.
I absorbed so much just by reading my favorite authors (Roseanna White, Julie Klassen, Siri Mitchell, Joanne Bischof) and studying how they went about crafting their excellent stories. I particularly remember reading Siri Mitchell's The Messenger and being super excited when I realized she wrote in first-person POV, alternating between the hero and the heroine. I had just begun writing Diamonds and was playing around with that format. Reading The Messenger and seeing that someone else had employed (and published) with that technique was inspiring to me.
I've learned, too, the importance of reading about writing. I'm so thankful for all the writer blogs I've followed--especially Go Teen Writers. I genuinely don't think I would have been published this soon if I hadn't started reading this blog and learning about speaker tags versus action beats, the three-act structure, and voice.
You've been working on The Sound Of Diamonds for a long time now. What was it about this story that made you so determined to not just finish it, but to go through the hard work of editing and submitting it to publishers?
It's hard to believe that Diamonds turns 3 this summer! I started writing this story the summer after my sophomore year of college, when the title popped into my head and wouldn't leave. I finished the skeleton of the story that summer, even though it was in a very different form than what will hit shelves this month. I think that I finished it so quickly played a huge part in my dedication to it. I had this finished hunk of a novel—in poor shape—but it was complete. I felt like I owed it to my investment to see if I could do something with it.
Powering through the first draft, though, also meant there was a lot of work yet to be done on the editing side. I recruited an editor friend to help me polish, entered Diamonds into ACFW's Genesis contest, and submitted it to WhiteFire not quite a year after I'd begun writing it.
In the Go Teen Writers book, there's that section where you and Jill invited us to submit questions, and the one I submitted was something along the lines of, "How do you know when a book is the one?" I asked that question wondering if how I felt about Diamonds could possibly be true. Looking back now, it's fun to see that how I felt about it from the beginning—that this would be my first published book—is coming true in just two weeks.
It's SO exciting, Rachelle. What are some things you've learned as you've worked on this series that you'll carry with you as you work on future projects?
The biggest thing I learned from this series is that no book is born the same way.
I wrote Diamonds in a whirlwind of a summer. Incredibly quickly. I wrote Silver over the course of six months, with a bit more of a plan, knowing a little better where I was going with it. I wrote Emeralds so differently. That one took a lot out of me and it took a year. There were so many moments as I wrote the last two books when I doubted that I was doing it right. I wasn't writing as quickly, freely, comfortably. Each book seemed to stretch me more, in heart and in technique, and that confused me. Until I realized that it was happening that way because it had to. I was writing different books, and so I was writing books differently.
Thank you so much for having me on Go Teen Writers today, Stephanie! And all you've taught me over the years through this blog!
I always love having debut authors on the blog, but I especially love it when they're writers who are part of the Go Teen Writers community! You can enter to win an e-copy of Rachelle's debut novel, and read up on her below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she's lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. An Oreo addict, she is also a homeschool graduate and retired gymnast. She wrote The Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.
Her only chance of getting home is trusting the man she hates.
With the protestant Elizabeth on the throne of England and her family in shambles, Catholic maiden Gwyneth seeks refuge in the Low Countries of Holland, hoping to soothe her aching soul. But when the Iconoclastic Fury descends and bloodshed overtakes her haven, she has no choice but to trust the rogue who arrives, promising to see her safely home to her uncle’s castle. She doesn’t dare to trust him…and yet doesn’t dare to refuse her one chance to preserve her own life and those of the nuns she rescues from the burning convent.
Dirk Godfrey is determined to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk knows he has only one chance at redemption, and it lies with the lovely Gwyneth, who hates him for the crimes she thinks he committed. He must see her to safety, prove to the world that he is innocent, prove that her poor eyesight is not the only thing that has blinded her—but what is he to do when those goals clash?
The home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, the saint and the sinner must either dare to hold to hope...or be overcome.
Learn more about Rachelle and her books on her website!