*Rachel thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, I am humbled to get the chance to connect with you. In fact, let me start there. You have a considerable following—around 175,000 on Twitter alone—are busy as can be (we’ll get into that)—but you have taken the time (here and behind the scenes) to engage with someone hardly as well-known as you, and you have been kind and supportive throughout. This may seem a simple matter of courtesy to you, but as someone who has connected with many great authors, I have to be honest and say that not everyone conducts themselves in this manner. As your success and celebrity have grown, how important has it been to you to stay grounded, as it were, to stay you, and have there been challenges to this along the way?
Wow, too kind Daryl! I suppose it’s my introverted nature, but I don’t look at myself as a celeb at ALL. I’m not a household name, most people have never heard of me – frankly, I’m still shocked when someone tells me they’ve read my work or blog posts, I look around and make sure they’re talking about me…really?
It’s not false modesty. A friend of mine gets upset with me because I just can’t get my mind around that some people know me or my book. I suppose it comes down to this: everyone has to make their own path, and if I can help share ways I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, I’ve done my job. Anything else is just gravy.
As for challenges, every day is a challenge! Like anyone, it’s difficult to find and dedicate writing time, mostly because of owning my own business and being a mother. It’s all about balance. Okay, and late nights and lots of coffee.
*It seems you dived into the writing and blogging in 2008, after 15 years in pharma sales (I love how you say you’re ‘recovered now’). You say you took to it like a “dog to a bone.” This really interests me—and I hear from folks in similar situations—because I am someone who after many years in another career, am finally diving into my writing and blogging too. In my case, I’ve known all along, deep down, that writing is what I am meant to do. Did you harbor a similar passion throughout your life, or did it indeed more so crystallize back in ’08?
I’ve been a writer since I was 10 years old, actually. My dream of being a grown up was sitting at a desk and writing (remember back before computers? LOL). That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Being in pharma sales gave me a wonderful background in marketing, so I’m thankful for that, but I hated it. Hard to be creative with the prime directive – resistance is futile.
I quit in 2004, had my second child, and discovered blogging as an outlet, a release, really. It really just steamrolled from there and I embraced tech and social and more writing and blogging.
*I want people to visit your sites—Rachel in the OC and Badredheadmedia --they are both terrific. If they visit they can distinguish for themselves but can you take a moment here and describe the primary distinction and what compelled you to create two sites?
Sure! My author site is RachelintheOC.com and the focus, or branding if you will, is in line with my own books: real-life experiences and how they have changed a person. My guests typically handle heavy topics like depression, rape, sexual abuse, divorce, miscarriage, and more. If you’re looking for a ‘light’ read, do not go to that blog!
As for BadRedheadMedia.com, the focus is what I do in my business: social media, marketing, and branding for authors. I love it because I can help others who can’t afford my services, and still provide real life advice via the blog and various tips around the site.
*Let’s talk about your writing: three bestsellers—Broken Pieces, The Mancode Exposed and A Walk in the Snark (very jealous I didn’t think of that title). The latter two are humorous but the first is a collection of very personal, life-inspired essays. Again, folks can read about the books on your site(or better yet, read the books), but it is clear you draw upon some powerful life experiences in all you do and all you write. Broken Pieces obviously reflects this but have you found that even the most traumatic or difficult of life experiences has inspired and found expression through your humor as well, and if so, what can you share about this process?
I definitely feel strongly that we all have a right to tell our own stories, regardless of the topic or tone. Here’s what I tell folks: nobody is standing over our shoulder saying, ‘You can’t write that!’ and if they are, tell them to go write their own damn book.
Ultimately, a writer has to sit down, butt in chair, and write. Every day. Not all of it will be amazing, but somewhere in each sentence is a jewel. That jewel is what you keep.
*You really focus and have great expertise on social media and author marketing/branding. As you allude to, perhaps your sales background influenced that, but what else has stirred those embers? And what would you say to the plethora of authors (I was and occasionally still am among them) who harbor various degrees of trepidation about social media, building their author platform, and sometimes technology itself?
I’m not really sure why I love social media, to be honest. It’s something that comes very easily to me – maybe it’s the writer in me combined with the former sales/marketing person. I embrace it and enjoy it – most of the time. When I don’t, I walk away for a bit.
As for authors, it’s important to realize that social media is fabulous for making connections, interactions, and building relationships. It’s questionable if you will SELL using it, which is why I recommend people don’t spam links (which is against the various social media guidelines anyway), or do the hard sell….and just TALK with people. Remember, even though the communication is virtual, the person behind the keyboard is not.
*I actually first learned of you when someone introduced me to Monday Blogs, the amazing meme you created in 2012, which enables bloggers to easily share their posts and connect with other bloggers. I can tell you that it has been wonderful to participate in, and that countless other writers agree—easy and fantastic way to get your name and your work out there and also to support other writers by sharing and retweeting their work too. It has really caught fire and I am convinced one of the main reasons in fact is that whole spirit of giving back, mutual support, literary community, which fuels it. Would you agree? What inspired you to start Monday Blogs?
Awesome, I’m so glad! Thousands participate every Monday and I couldn’t be happier.
Really, I simply built on an idea that kinda sorta already existed. Memes (rhymes with themes) have been around on the Internet forever, including on Twitter. I found that other memes that already existed for bloggers didn’t really make it obvious what people should do, so I extrapolated the call to action (blog) and made it one particular day (Monday),right in the meme itself.
It’s pretty simple: share blog posts on Mondays. Retweet others. That’s basically it. Many people will share on other days using that hashtag, but because it’s got Monday right in the title, I kindly remind them that WE only share on Mondays. Share your posts any day you want, just reserve the hashtag only for Mondays!
*You have an advocacy page, where people can find help and support and even a HopeLine if they are survivors of sexual or domestic violence. And you clearly have a place in in your heart and are very supportive of our troops. Again, folks can learn more on your sites but is there anything you’d like to share about these causes here?
I think it’s important that people find resources so they don’t feel alone, especially women in sexual assault or domestic violence situations, where they feel dependent on the abuser for survival. I’ve always been an advocate for women and children, but I decided to use my social media platform to help as much as I can, so people will know where to find help and resources.
*I know you are a mom. I have 3 kids--my only daughter is named Rachel—she is 9, and a passionate reader and writer (she’ll be debuting her corner on my site soon). As someone who has known since about her age that I’ve wanted to write, yet for any number of life reasons only got serious about in these last few years, I am endeavoring to walk a fine line between supporting/pushing her. I don’t want her dream to languish long as mine did, yet I am try to remember it is her dream, and she is a kid, and I want to support her and I don’t want to push, I just want to support her in her journey, however it shall play out. What advice would you have for parents of those young, literary souls, and what one thing would you tell the young Rachels of the world, as their fledgling literary embers are just beginning to simmer?
I am a mom – two children, a girl (15) and a boy (8). It’s important to encourage our children in whatever endeavor they gravitate toward, whether that’s art, sports, or a subject like math or science. My teenaged daughter is a talented artist and is looking at art schools for college – that’s all her. My son puts together Legos for big kids and adults – he has the mind of an engineer.
I think there’s a fine line between encouraging and supporting, and pushing. I’m not that kind of mom who pushes, because I’ve seen to many kids become resentful and bitter. However, it certainly is on us, as parents, to help our kids seek opportunities and help them learn how best to mine those.
*You offer an impressive and eclectic range of services—blogging, consulting, Twitter management, branding, marketing and much more. Folks can check it all out on your services page of Bad Redhead Media. Is there anything in particular about what you offer that you’d like to mention here?
Thank you! I do offer many tips and tricks to manage marketing with writing time. That’s the ultimate struggle for any writer.
Also, I’m a strong believer, as I mentioned earlier, in writing what scares us. Too many writers don’t dig deep because they’re terrified of what their parents, kids, spouse, friends, etc., will say. And believe me, I understand that fear! It took me many years to allow myself to write about my own experiences, particularly the childhood sexual abuse.
So, I’m developing a new course for writers: Writing What Scares You. Four sessions (once weekly) with me, covering how to go about uncovering and putting to paper what holds us up. I’m not a teacher of ‘craft,’ because I feel that writers have to find their own way of writing. I’d never tell someone how to write because it’s so personal.
However, giving people practical tips and exercises to find that inner scary – that’s what I’m all about. I give writersthe permission they seek – which seems funny, since thatpermission, that choice, is already in them on what to write anyway! But I can so relate, having been (and still going) through it all as I write my next ‘Broken’ book, Broken Places (due Fall, 2014 from Booktrope).