One of the greatest privileges of being an author is connecting with other likeminded writers and learning from their journeys. Today, please join me in welcoming Sarah Rexford to the blog! Her agent is currently pitching her projects to publishers, and in the meantime, she’s investing in others who likewise feel called to write.
Q: What do you hope readers will one day take away from your books?
A lot of people want to feel heard because then they feel seen. I try to write characters that have their specific purpose in the story and move the plot forward, but also face personal questions that show their humanity. At some point we all probably wonder if we’re enough, if we’re too much, or if we’d be brave enough to make the hard choice when it matters. And we’ve all messed up in different ways. Many of my characters are more of the anti-hero type, walking away when it matters. Putting themselves first when they need to help someone else. Letting fear control their choices. But that’s where character arc comes in. You can’t have character arc if your protagonist starts out a hero. I hope when readers see their character growth, they realize the smallest change sometimes makes the biggest impact not just in fiction, but in life.
Q: When did your writing journey begin, and how have you seen God use it in unexpected ways?
In third grade I received a homework assignment to write a story. I spent so much time on it, creating a title, folding my wide-ruled notebook paper to look like a book, using black string for binding. You would think I would have realized there might be some correlation between that love and my future, but I didn’t write my first full-length book until my sophomore year in high school. Even then, I didn’t take my writing seriously until my junior year of college when I had the opportunity to sit down with a best-selling author. After that conversation I realized I should get some training. When author Jerry Jenkins launched his writers guild, I joined as a founding member, and in 2017, when he launched Your Novel Blueprint, I beta tested it. To test the course, I had to write a complete manuscript in nine months, and that’s what really pushed me to see if I could write on deadline. During this time I attended a writing conference and an acquisitions editor expressed interest in my book. This encouraged me that maybe I had something worth pursuing, and it’s been a lot of fun and hard work since!
Q: You are a finalist for the “Writer of the Year” award through Serious Writer. That’s a huge accomplishment! How has this experience been affirming for you?
Entering contests feels like trying to win the lottery in some ways, because writing is so subjective. To make finalist is so humbling and such an honor. It’s definitely affirming. Writing is an art form with a lot of rules, and I didn’t realize that until I started writing in college. At first, following the rules can feel daunting, but then you realize following the rules highlights plot and character. Making finalist is super affirming that the hours of work I’ve put into learning the craft are starting to pay off. However, the more I learn the more I realize how far I have to go!
Q: Your website provides resources to help and inspire other writers in their journeys. Please share about your Writer’s Toolkit and how readers can get their copy.
Having a website is critical for writers today, as publishers want to see your visibility before they consider offering you a contract. Diving into the publishing world can feel like diving into the ocean when you should have floaties in the kiddie pool. There’s so much to learn. When I started my blog, I decided since I was also starting the writing journey, it would probably be most helpful to share my ups and downs so other writers could learn from it too. It’s a very vulnerable blog because if you look through my years of posts you’ll see when a publisher requested my manuscript based on the elevator pitch, but then rejected it after I spent the months writing so I could submit to them. But you’ll also see that almost two years ago an agent offered me a contract. It’s definitely highs and lows! My blog basically gives you the how-to behind everything I’ve been through so far, and the Writer’s Toolkit is a free, condensed version of my process. Just go to itssarahrexford.com, sign up for blog updates, and you’ll get your free copy.
Q. In light of the challenges 2020 has presented, what is a message of encouragement you can offer writers?
What a year to be a writer! It’s easy to feel like writing stories is so trivial compared to everything going on in the world. I’ve thought about what author C.S. Lewis had to stay about studying in wartime: “He must ask how it is right…to spend any fraction of the little time allowed them in this world on such comparative trivialities as literature or art… To admit that we can retain our interest in learning under the shadow of these eternal issues, but not under the shadow of a European war, would be to admit that our ears are closed to the voice of reason and very wide open to the voice of our nerves and our mass emotions.” C.S. Lewis, Learning in Wartime (1939).
To choose to focus on something that impacts others, despite so much is pulling at our attention, is a deliberate sacrifice. I could watch the news all day but taking in information doesn’t create change. Doing something about that information is what’s so important. For writers, telling stories of humanity that inspire hope is not a waste of time. There’s an intimacy to writing. It inspires quiet change as readers turn the pages in their living room or finish chapter four on their lunch break or at the beach. It’s an honor to think that a phrase of dialogue or a character’s arc could inspire someone to approach 2020 in a way that focuses not so much on fear or anxiety but on hope and bravery.
For writers, telling stories of humanity that inspire hope is not a waste of time. ~ Sarah Rexford on @khogrefeparnellTweet
Q: What has been the most challenging and/or most rewarding part of being a writer?
Integrity is huge, especially when it comes to writing. My writing mentor always says to treat the writing deadline as sacred, and so this is something I’ve tried to do since day one. Writing has taught me how to balance life and live in the moment. When I’m writing, I need to focus on writing. When I’m not writing, I need to focus on my family or friends or whatever else I’m called to do in that moment. It can be challenging, but I want to control my writing, not let it control me. It’s so rewarding to meet a deadline and show that integrity to myself, my agent, the publisher, readers, whoever it is. It’s really inspiring and humbling to see how my writing impacts others and reminds me the power stories have, written or lived, in our lives. No matter how many or few read my work, it’s a really unique experience to know I’m made in the image of Creator God, and I get to create as well. It helps me understand Him better, and that’s rewarding to say the least!
Q: How can readers follow your publishing journey and receive updates?
Meet Sarah Rexford who talks about her publishing journey and her passion for helping other writers. Interview by @khogrefeparnellTweet
About the Author
Sarah Rexford is a Content Specialist, currently working for best-selling author Jerry Jenkins. With a BA in Strategic Communications, Sarah equips writers to communicate their message and build their platform through branding and copywriting. She writes fiction and nonfiction and offers behind-the-scenes tips on the publishing industry through her blog itssarahrexford.com. She is represented by C.Y.L.E Young Literary Elite and actively growing her speaking and writing career.
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