We are thrilled to introduce you to our newest published author, Rebekah Brown! Rebekah recently published her book, Hi, I’m Socially Awkward, through our Fresh Ink publishing program. In Fresh Ink, youth authors with a completed draft of a novel are mentored through a chapter-by-chapter revision process. At the end of the program, the author is guided through the publication process resulting in an ink-and-paper book they can hold in their hands and share with other readers! We interviewed Rebekah about her experience in the program. Keep reading to learn more about Rebekah‘s book and Fresh Ink.

Interview with Rebekah Brown

Tell us about your book.

My book is a story that I felt needed to be shared. It revolves around Alex, a 13-year-old girl who is exceptionally socially awkward. This gets in the way of her social life quite a lot. She comes across a jellybean that’s said to cure her awkwardness, but she doesn’t feel it is necessary. That is, until her life comes crashing down and she has to decide if she is going to use it. The book deals with meaningful issues that I believe middle grade audiences need to be educated about, such as class issues, depression, eating disorders, and the struggles of being queer. It is meant to show that no matter what a person’s social standing is, everybody has their own issues they are grappling with.

What inspired you to tell this story?

When I was in fifth grade, I was socially awkward and having a difficult time making friends. I didn’t know how to process my feelings, since I often felt alone in my peer group. However, when I started to mature later on and became closer friends with a few people in the more “popular” crowd, I began to realize some of them had the same issues I did. After realizing all this, I became inspired to write something about it. So, when the 2020 pandemic hit, I had plenty of time to start writing about my experience.

What is something that surprised you about revising?

The fact that surprised me the most is how much stories change. In the beginning I planned for this to be a graphic novel, and some of the current characters didn’t even exist. Stories from beginning to final draft generally change around 80% from the original content. It’s mind-boggling to realize how much of a change that is, and even more of a mind-boggling change to witness it yourself.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your book?

I want them to take away the fact that everyone has their own struggles. Even if you don’t see it now, everybody is struggling or has at some point struggled with issues. Everybody has been through a rough patch, or will go through one, so it’s important to have empathy and respect when somebody is having a hard time, even if you don’t like them.

What would you tell someone who wrote a novel and is not sure they want to do revisions?

Here’s the truth of it: you really have to. I know it seems difficult to edit your novel, but beta-reading and editing is a hard and strenuous process you have to go through. But here’s some advice I will give- If you’re feeling unmotivated to edit, don’t worry, I was too. It happens to all of us. But sometimes there are little things that can make editing easier. Having a beta-reader is the biggest. Just having a parent, friend, sibling, or teacher to read your work can be such a help. Sometimes reading your work aloud can point out errors (and if you don’t want to read aloud, you can listen to a text to speech version of your work), or even things like taking a break and returning to it when your writing style has matured. Also, reading in the genre you’re writing in can help set you in the right direction. All of these things can help you get a better sense of where you’re going in editing, and even these small steps can make your work great. 

You can grab your copy of Hi, I’m Socially Awkward at Barnes and Noble, Amazon or by request at your favorite indie bookstore!

Are you ready to publish your novel?

It’s time to take your novel, and your writerly skillset, to the next level! In the Fresh Ink Program, professional writers mentor youth through a chapter-by-chapter revision process which results in a printed or published book available through independent bookstores and other retailers. Through Fresh Ink, you will: complete a full novel revision, take your writing skills to the next level, and learn what it takes to publish a book