I got pulled in by the picture: a naked marionette woman with red hair. I read the title, Broken Pieces, and I clicked “buy on my Amazon Prime account. Next thing you know, I’m part of Rachel Thompson’s Street Team of Bad Redheads.
“A book of essays inspired by life,” Rachel Thompson’s book cover promised. Oh my, so much more. Are these really essays, or are they poems? The pieces came together like memories sparked by a song on the radio, a shared joke, or a leaf blown across my path.
…time both stands still and flies past you in that singular moment when you find out someone you once loved is gone…
A good heart takes responsibility for what your brain cannot…
…Women grow, our hearts accommodating all the players in our lives…
…Once I believed in things unseen; I was blinded by the dark. Out of the multitude to me, he came and broke my heart.
The memories may be Rachel’s, but they resonate with me. I just had to reach out, talk to her, and get to know her better.
Broken Pieces is Rachel’s third book, but the first with a serious tone. Her earlier books A Walk on the Snark Side and The Mancode Exposed are both tongue-in-cheek, humorous. In Broken Pieces, she writes about her childhood, abuse, early love, the impact of suicide, lasting love, and parenthood. She shares her injuries as fragments of who she is, rather things that defines her. Broken Pieces puts together one incredibly strong woman.
Most of the writers Rachel knows are either Planners or Pantser. She’s more of a seat-of-her-Pantser. She lets a phrase gets stuck in her head and noodles it around for a while. When she sits down to write, she may write just one sentence before the story explodes.
Rachel started writing when she was just 10 years old. That’s when her mother had her third child, a baby girl. To Rachel she was like a little live doll; she had so much fun growing up with a little one. Rachel started writing stories for her. I supposes every writer has a pivotal story, when they decide she wants more than anything to write. For Rachel it was Teacher reading The Secret Garden. She couldn’t wait until Teacher got to the next chapter, and Rachel was hooked on writing. A self-described introvert,
Rachel was like a butterfly that came out of her cocoon in high school. She became a cheerleader, got her braces off, and got a job painting signs at just 14 years old. A serious teen, Rachel was the introvert at the dance watching the other girls acting silly and thinking up stories in her head. After high school, she wanted to experience life and push the envelope a little.
Rachel never stopped journaling, but life and a traditional career got in the way of a writing books. Before she turned her attention back to writing, Rachel was a sales representative for Big Pharma. With a career, a husband, and a new baby, she had little time to write. Then like many of us, she found herself with time on her hands (i.e. jobless.) When she finally sat down to write, she felt overwhelmed. She had no connections in the world of authors, editors, and agents. Having faith in herself, she threw her energy into it. She started making connections and meeting people. Because of her pharmaceutical sales career, she knew a bit about marketing.
Besides writing books, Rachel runs the consultant and marketing firm, Bad Redheads Media. As a consultant what she suggests is either what she’s done or what she’s done with a client. She’s quick to tell me she’s not a guru: someone who’s learned everything and only teaches. She’s still learning, and is happy to share what’s she’s learned.
Sometimes it’s difficult to shut off the business end of her life and take an hour a day to just write. Her clients have high expectations, and she is loath to let them down. That said, Rachel is working on her fourth and fifth book now.
She loves the creativity and freedom being her own boss brings. She can write about whatever she wants. Not everything she writes will be great but she is always learning, and whatever she writes contributes to the process. So far, she thinks Broken Pieces is her best.
If she’s not writing, Rachel is reading. “No matter how old you are, if you want to be a writer, you have to write, and you have to read to develop your craft.”
Her advice to other authors? Really work at the options out there. Everyone’s dream is to see her book at Barnes & Noble. The likelihood of that happening is very small.
- Contracts are very convoluted; understand what you’re getting into.
- Indie publishing is no walk in the park: It’s not as simple as copy and paste from blog. You must be involved in all aspects of sales and marketing.
- Understand what it takes to go with good pitch.
- Develop your author platform early. Social media are a wonderful tool for introverts. You must have a presence and connect with people. Remember: it’s not one-way broadcasting; it’s socializing.
- It can be scary. Even if you get the best “traditional” deal ever, you still need to develop your readership.
Thanks, Rachel. For the advice. And for the great read. I recommend Broken Pieces; such beautiful language, even the prose is poetic.
Oh, and Thanks for gifting my readers!
Would you, faithful reader, like a copy of Broken Pieces?
Rachel agreed to gift a lucky reader with either a paperback or an e-book. Just leave a comment below with your preference. I’ll put your name in the hat, and Rachel will do the rest.