For the past thirteen years, I’ve been working, in some capacity, with high school students. Before that I pretty much was a high school student. Give or take a few years. I really like them. They laugh easily. They eat freely. They do random things that don’t really seem to have a purpose. They’re fun.

They also, for the most part, are just like adults. They are needy, broken, smart, and lonely. They just aren’t always as polished and polite about it. But they’re learning to be, and that’s what scares me the most.

In the winter of 2009, I started work on a book for high school girls, a book I wished I had in high school, a book that said more to me as a believer than, Don’t have sex with your boyfriend or, Just think about what Jesus would do. I was a good girl with good intentions, and I wanted a book that gave me hope more than just be good. I was already doing okay with that, and it had me miserable.

When I pitched that book idea to an editor that summer at a writing conference, she liked the idea and took it back to her editorial team. It went through all the necessary channels and passed all the necessary people until one day in early November of that same year, I got The Phone Call That Changed Everything.

She said they liked my book idea.

She said they wanted to publish it.

But first, she said they wanted me to write it for adults, not kids.

Adults? Like, grown ups and junk?

I can’t do that. “Sure!” I can’t write for adults. “Great idea!” Adults scare me. “Let’s write it for adults!” Now that word is starting to sound funny…adult…adult…adult.

I can’t do this.

But I did do it, and I’m so glad. Because what I have learned through writing the book for grown ups (the book that you now know as Grace for the Good Girl) is that grown ups are just older teenagers. We are all in this mess together.

We all need to know life is about more than trying hard to be good, it’s about trusting God to be graceful.

The first book has been out for six months, and many who have read it didn’t know it was meant to be for high school girls from the beginning. Some of you have even emailed, telling me you wished you had the book for high school girls. Well, now it is my great and humble pleasure to introduce to you what was supposed to be my only book but has now become my second book: Graceful {For Young Women}: Letting go of Your Try-Hard Life.

Now, let me just answer a few questions you might have.

Why didn’t you just call it Grace for the Good Girl for Young Women?

Right. Did you see that title? For the good girl for young women? Could that be any more confusing? (said in my best Chandler Bing.) No, we wanted this book to stand on her own two feet. She is different from the first book.

So that basically just means you cut and pasted Grace for the Good Girl and then added a few ‘totallys’ and ‘TTYL’s thrown in, right?

Wrong. Graceful is new book with new chapters and new words. And I promise I don’t try to be cool in it. As I said before, writing for a teen audience is the same as writing for a non-teen audience. We are all people.

There are some ways in which it was harder to write this book just because I would get stuck inside my own head of insecurity: They are going to roll their eyes about me. They don’t think like this. They, they, they. Me, me, me. But when I stopped thinking about high school girls as they and remembered they are just people, it was much easier.

There are some of the same stories because you know, it’s still me. And women who resonated with the message of Grace for the Good Girl will perhaps recognize a younger version of themselves in this book. If you read the first book and wanted it for your daughter but wished it was shorter and maybe more relevant to her life stage, now you can give her Graceful.

I would like to use this with my small group. Is there a guide for leaders in the back?

No, but there will be a free one available online for small group leaders. I may also put together some videos to go along with it. Would that be helpful? Stay tuned for that.

So when does this book come out?

I’m so glad you asked that. Graceful is available NOW for pre-order.

Why would I want to pre-order? Shouldn’t I just wait?

It is entirely up to you. But here is how pre-orders help authors – when the book is finally available, Amazon (for example) will fill all pre-orders at once. When lots of sales are filled at once, there is a surge in stats, attention is drawn to the book and, hopefully, more people will know about it. And the main reason we write books is so people will read them. If you think you may want to buy a copy for your niece or your babysitter or your small group girls, pre-ordering is a lovely way to both help the book do better and give your future self a present.

Okay, but when will the book COME OUT?

September. So kind of forever. But it will be in bookstores just in time for fall semester small groups. Several groups at my church are already planning to read it in the fall.

Last week, I offered a sneak peek of Graceful to my newsletter subscribers. Go here to preview the first newsletter from Chatting at the Sky. Want to receive similar updates in your inbox once a month-ish? Subscribe to the newsletter here. What a relief to finally share this book with you. It kind of feels like I’m telling you the name of my next baby. It’s nice. And terrifying. But mostly nice. I tried to answer any questions you may have here, but what did I miss? Can you think of a girl you would like to give Graceful to?


  1. says

    I’m so thrilled for you Emily! You are truly an inspiration and just in this past year, have taught me so much about the meaning of art and what it means to be a writer. Hugs!

  2. says

    Congrats! I can’t imagine how it feels to have your SECOND book getting ready to launch. I have a heart for teenage/any age girls, too, and this will no doubt be a great resource for good girls the world over.

  3. says

    Congratualations! I for one am thankful they prompted you to write for us adults first, but that’s just me. I am preordering your book today. I am hoping that it will be appropriate for my almost 11 year old. She struggles daily with pleasing God and beats herself when she doesn’t do something “right”. I am so glad you have a heart for these amazing girls, I pray your book will be used by God to change hearts and lives of these precious ones.

  4. says

    Emily, I am so thrilled for all of us about this news. I printed out a pic of the book and showed it to my small group last night, and they LOVED it. Such a lovely cover, with an even lovelier message, and what a blessing for me to know you well enough to be confident that this will be a book I can trust for my girls. Here’s to what God’s doing and going to do in their lives.

  5. says

    I’m so excited about this book! I’m definitely going to pre-order a copy. There’s so much about my own girlhood that as such a confirmed good girl I kind of skipped over. Jack and I have talked about how I may have actually missed a stage of development in my youth (food for thought, huh?). Anyway, I’m ordering a copy for myself. And I’m guessing I might then want to order copies for several young women.

    I love the cover–the multiple cages, the door open, the flying bird, the way there are no capital letters. It’s beautiful.

  6. says

    Hip Hip Hooray!!! I can’t wait to read this along with my girls! They will be seniors in the fall and I think this will be a perfect book for them!! Thanks so much Emily!!

  7. says

    this is soooo exciting!! thanks for sharing about your little “baby” 😉 I also work with highschool girls and this is going to be a great resource!! i love your heart!

  8. says

    so excited for this! I can see already how perfect this will be for young girls. I wish I would have been guided in this way when I was in high school. Oh, and speaking of perfect….that first picture? uh-mazing :)

  9. Karen says

    Congratulations, Emily!
    I don’t really even have the words yet to fully express the impact GFTGG has had on me over the last 6 months, but I’m working on it! Thank you for explaining grace to me in a way that I really needed to read and to relate to and to be freed by!

    I’ve already purchased 8 copies of GFTGG for myself and my friends and I just pre-ordered graceful because my daughters will be teenagers some day. And because I’m sure it will be lovely.

  10. says

    I am very excited for this. Just stepping into life with an almost teen-age girl, here and I know that I am going that I am going to need all the help that I can get.

  11. says

    Oh Emily, I love the title you chose. It is perfect. Captures that good girlish “eat like a lady” and spins it for true, lifegiving grace. I can’t wait to read it!

  12. barbara says

    SO thrilled to hear this news, Emily! I love your writing (and truly I tell you–the Holy Spirit speaks through YOU!)
    I can’t wait to forward this news to my daughter, who leads high school ministry in Kansas! Bless You!

  13. Jeannie S says

    Congratulations Emily! I can’t wait to get a copy for my 16 year old. I wish you God’s blessings and continued success is your writing career.

  14. says

    I’m super excited about this book! Grace for the Good Girl felt like my story and now that I have a teenager (eekk! I have a teenager!) who has the makings of a good girl, I would love for her to read your new book. I look forward to when it’s out and reading it with her. Thank you for using your story to allow God to do deep healing works (and preventative works) in our lives!

  15. says

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting this announcement! I LOVE the cover, and the new name. I’m very excited to give this book to my youth group girls!

  16. says

    Oh Emily, I can think of THREE girls to give this book to–all living (mostly) under my roof. And their friends. And their small group friends. I can’t wait for this book to come out–I’ll be giving away a lot of them. Thank you, thank you for pursuing your dream and writing this. It’s going to be great!

  17. says

    I love your book story. And I’m so glad you said “yes” to the publisher’s crazy idea of 2 books. I for one have greatly benefited from the first. As for the second, well, I have a daughter who is a “tween.” And I can’t tell you how happy I am to have a younger girl version of your message for her in a couple of years. That’s who I’m buying it for, my “good girl in the making.”

  18. says


    I’m wondering if your new book would be appropriate for pre-teens (11 to 12 yr. old range)? Your message in Grace for the Good Girl is a powerful one and as I’m reading it have been thinking how great it would be for younger girls to get the message and apply it much earlier in their lives than I have. Can’t wait to share this with youth workers at our church!

    Sweet Blessings,

    • says

      Hi Pam!

      Thanks for asking – I think it really depends more on the girl than on her age. It is definitely written for high school age girls, but I don’t think it would be inappropriate by any means for younger girls. If you end up reading it, I’d be curious to know if you think it would be a good fit for the younger ones.

      • says

        Thank you so much, Emily! I teach a girls class on Wednesday nights at our church for this age group and am thinking this might be a good resource to use : )

  19. says

    Congratulations! High school girls really need this message (just like the rest of us do). I wish I’d had a book like this at that age too.

  20. Faith says

    Hey there Emily… I am married to a youth pastor and have a 15 yo ” good girl” of my own so I am very much looking forward to your new book coming out! Thanks for sharing your heart. :)

  21. Laura says

    You rock- both the books and the Chandler reference! Way to go, EM-I-LY (said in my best Ross-at-his-wedding voice)!

  22. Rachel Wesseling says

    Emily, immediately upon reading this post I pre-ordered your new book from Amazon! I work with a fabulously adorable group of middle school girls at my church, and I’m hoping that some of this book will apply to their younger hearts as well. Can’t wait to read it! Right now I’m reading Grace for the Good Girl, and it totally applies to me, and I was thinking how I’d like to share it with my girlies — so THANK YOU! Your posts so often bless me as you’re a conduit of the Lord’s grace in my life. May God bless you for being willing to let Him bless me and so many other girlies through your writing! :)

  23. says

    So excited for my 10th graders to get their hands on this! (and their hearts and heads around it, yes?) One of those precious girls said to me recently, “I know how to be good. I can do that. What I don’t know is why I need the rest of it.” Ahhh, yes…and isn’t that the key?

    Grateful for you, Emily…for your words and your heart invested.

  24. says

    How did I miss this!? Congratulations! I love that you’re publishing a book for young women. I was going to ask if there was somewhere we could read an excerpt so the youth leaders at our church could look into it. I’m off to subscribe to the newsletter.

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