Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Website Launch!

As I write this, I’m drinking a fresh-made latte to warm my bones. I’m such a sun whore. The hell with seasons, the subtlety of changing leaves and all that cyclical jazz. Give me eternal summer. The merciless yet vivifying glare of sunshine. There’s a chill in the air today, the sky is dishwater gray, but the view from my deck overlooking the Topanga State Park is still breathtaking. Buck up, is what that view says. Open your eyes. Be grateful. I inhale, think about the journey I’ve been on the past few years. In truth, I barely recognize myself. I feel like a shape-shifter, psychologically speaking. My friend the amazing writer Samantha Dunn warned me that writing a memoir would change me. She was right. In the wake of the book, I’m still learning who I am.

In November of 2009, my first memoir Love Junkie came out. The year before that, I squirreled away in my modest Topanga rental to bang out the book. Sometimes it felt more like sluicing open my veins than writing. I’d never been so skinless. I pity whoever got close to me then. For a whole year, I was like a walking-talking raw nerve. And crazy. That’s right. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Writing a memoir can make you bonkers. Memoir is about memory, and to write vividly, you’ve got to “go there.” Meaning, you’ve got to relive those memories, which in this case, meant feeling pain fresh. Okay, yes, there was also memory of physical ecstasy – which was more fun to revisit -- and I hope a lot of dark humor shot through the whole thing. You know, that special humor that springs from a wacky, rough childhood – where everything starts to look deliciously absurd. We’re talking survival goggles.

When the book came out, I had little idea what to expect. I went from being a hyper-introspective psyche-flaying wacked-out hermit – to a published memoirist who now had to, well, groom herself! Shower, shave, deodorize, dress in something other than sweats. And present the book to the world. It felt like a whirlwind. The book came out right when the economy was crashing, and then the publishing industry followed suit. All the rules changed, and quickly. My last published book, Go West Young F*cked-Up Chick (Gee, any connection there?!) had come out ten years before. (Why the long lag, you ask? I was too busy being a love junkie to write another book!) So I had some chops when it came to going public with my writing. I don’t think I could’ve written a memoir without that experience of publishing a novel, other publications, and years of teaching and learning to articulate things about craft in a professional, distanced way. Yet fiction is far more shielding than memoir. So in that sense, I wasn’t prepared at all. Plus, publishing-wise, it was a different world then. For GWYF-UC, I remember insisting on building a website and posting the URL on the book’s back cover. The publishers thought I was out of my mind. Cut to ten years later, and the two operative words for modern book publicity:  social networking. That includes websites, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, you name it. And – it falls primarily on the shoulders of the author.

I have to laugh when people ask me what I’m writing now. Writing? I’m a book pimp! I have a book out. While it’s out there, I’ve got to support it or all that intense cave-dwelling soul-searching heart-baring work will go to waste and wind up in the dreaded remainder bin. I tell people rather than trying to channel Proust, I’m now all about channeling the spirit of P.T. Barnum! Despite the climate, we were lucky enough to get lots of press and attention for Love Junkie. What happened was the book seemed to hit a cultural nerve. Shortly before the hardcover debuted, actor David Duchovny publicly confessed to entering rehab for sex addiction. This was a watershed moment. It seemed America was getting ready for a cultural dialogue about hidden but pervasive process addictions like love and sex addiction. The press and book tour continued. Meanwhile, I was also trying to keep my business Writers On Fire alive so I could earn to support my writing habit. It’s a bitch earning your living freelance. But I’m unsuited to offices or regular jobs, so this is my path right now. I also admit I love the freedom – and the gambling rush of it all.

It seems I barely had time to breathe after the hardcover when – whammo – the paperback was coming out. This time, we might have more of a fighting chance. The paperback launched in early October. So the shadow of holidaze was far enough away that we could spread the word about the book in its new irresistible pulsating pink cover. Urban fantasy novelist and blogger extraordinaire Justine Musk said it was the only pink she’s ever liked. She called it “fuck you pink.” Spot on.

Shortly after its release, I got the news the paperback had gone into reprint. Whut? I’d never had anything go into reprint! Then I heard Barnes & Noble had seen fit to feature it on their New Arrivals trade paperback tables in their largest stores for two weeks. Two weeks! And without anyone paying them? Then it hit the Southern California Indie Bestseller list. What was happening? I’d tried different publicists with the hardcover. Now it was time to try again. The stars were aligned because national bestseller Hope Edelman, friend, neighbor, and author of the seminal book Motherless Daughters and most recently, the stunning memoir The Possibility of Everything, generously invited me to join her in conversation at a combo book event for us both at the first ever SheWrites salon in Los Angeles. That’s where I met the fresh, young dynamic duo of Jamie and Julia - J Squared PR ( – right as they were beginning their business. They were the literary publicists of the future, with their chutzpah and solid grounding in film publicity. Their take-no-prisoners attitude, boundless energy and enthusiasm were just the fuel injection I needed for the paperback incarnation. It was the last chance.

Now was the time to spread the word, and hopefully prepare for the book to have a life after the tiny publishing window closed. To catch you up, I’m currently smack in the midst of the paperback promotion. In future blog posts I will try to talk more specifically about that process, and about other stuff, too. In this opening post, I just wanted to introduce you all to the Love Junkie journey, so you can join me from this point forward on a more regular basis. If you have any questions, or want to know about particular things, please feel free to ask me. You can send me e-mail through this awesome new site designed by Jamie of JSquaredPR.

Confession:  I would never have had the confidence or faith to keep pushing for the book’s survival if it weren’t for the extraordinary, heartfelt letters I’ve received and continue to receive from readers. In truth, I’m more of a writer – full of doubt and strong waves of, well, self-loathing. Sure, sometimes those alternate with thinking I’m okay (wait! Maybe I’m describing an addict more than every writer!) In any case, although I do love casual socializing, I’d rather be holed up, playing with word choice, polishing sentences, conjuring visceral scenes and feeling that creativity surge through me than out book-pimping. When I write is the only time I feel bigger than myself. I know it’s not about me, but about letting something come through me.

‘Til soon.


  1. Oh spend the day here. This is a classroom and funny/pathos/brilliant/warm and surely would be nice to have a nice black tee with LOVE JUNKIE in that hot pink splashed across it.

    LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!

  2. But what are you writing now? HAHAHAHAHA I would love for you to follow me... Thanks peach.

  3. I think I have just found another kindred soul. You rock!

  4. Beautiful photo, Rachel. I'm going to Mexico next month. Not a vacation. Vacation implies fun and recreation. I'm going to research my father's unhappy childhood for a memoir manuscript. La Migra will probably hassle me on the way back to the States.

    Lupe F.

  5. Laura Albert, as JT Leroy, said something to the effect, his literary hustle wasn't so much different from selling himself on the street.

    Everything's for sale. Sell, sell, sell. It's a sale. And I keep telling my current boss, an insurance agent, "I'm not a salesperson, I don't sell."

    Like it's a dirty word or something.

    Result from my years as a stripper, I think.

    This aversion will sink me as a writer.

    Your tenacity and tirelessness renders me speechless. You have my respect.

    Every day, I learn something from you.


    P.S. I bawled like a baby watching Sex Rehab w/ Dr. Drew.

  6. Rachel,

    I am witness to this part of your journey (LJ) and so proud of you, so awed by your perseverance, so humbled by your strength, you are one fierce woman, amazing writer, inspiring


    Vicki Whicker

  7. RR,

    Thanks for the invitation to your new blog!

    You are a constant inspiration...
    a couragous soul whom I always find support and understanding with when it comes to my own love junkiness...


  8. Thanks for inviting me to your blog!!!

    Your an amazing writer and you've done a great job working on the publicity side of things. Love Junkie has been in all the major bookstores in Australia which is the other side of the world that your reaching people!!!

    Keep up the good work,


  9. wow, what an update. I envy you so much that the writing is behind you. I am coming up to my deadline and want to drown myself in the bathtub every day. Are you ready for me to lob you a chapter like a grenade?

    mucho mazeltov for your book's success. Very few understand what it's meant to even survive in the past couple years of publishing. Miracle babies. xoxoxo susie