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Meet Rachelle Ayala of Lovely Hearts Press in Northern California

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachelle Ayala.

Rachelle, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in the greater Los Angeles area, graduating from Phineas Banning High School (go Pilots!) and continued my quest for knowledge at Occidental College (go Tigers!). I had the hardest time deciding what to major in because I love all fields of learning from history to chemistry to literature, art, mathematics, and more. In addition, I devoured books by the dozen and always carried one around [these days, it’s an ereader]. After college, I went to work in the local aerospace industry as an engineer and later on moved to Silicon Valley to continue my engineering career. I was always full of hobbies: jewelry-making, embroidery, violin, dulcimer-making, and storytelling. I enjoyed computers and technology, but I wanted to live more lives than the one I have. Reading can only go so far because you are experiencing other people’s characters. I had characters in my head who needed to be heard from, and I’m the only one who can bring them to life.

I have a multitude of interests and like to go in many directions at the same time. After retiring from my software career, I began writing romance novels because they are optimistic and always end happily. I love research and learning, and my writing allows me to imagine myself and my characters in all sorts of situations, time periods, places, and emotional states. Since I’m constantly seeking and searching for new experiences, my stories are very diverse, ranging from romantic comedy to suspense to historical to contemporary with touches of paranormal and fantasy. The common theme is the belief that everyone deserves to be loved and can grow from a place of pain to that of hope and fulfillment.

At this point, I’ve written over sixty romances and have several communities of characters. I enjoy meeting readers and fellow writers and extending myself by exploring new stories, themes, and techniques. Even though I’ve done a lot of different things in my past, I consider myself mainly a storyteller and a writer of happily ever after.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It continues to be an exciting road. At the beginning, I concentrated in learning the craft of novel writing, taking courses, writing and rewriting, and joined a critique group to hone my skills. Due to my age, I decided to self-publish and continue to write books instead of waiting on the traditional path of submissions and agents. It was easy at first, writing what I know. I quickly wrote books with historical, technology, suspense, and multicultural themes and joined several writing groups. As usual, when you want more than you can handle, life gets more complicated. I worked hard on building relationships, teaching and critiquing new writers, and contributing to marketing groups. The exhilaration of working toward a common goal is infectious, but so comes the pressure of producing more and gaining in the rankings. My friends assured me I was on the verge of breaking out, although no one defined what it meant. Others concentrated on author rank, bestselling lists, and author awards. And then there was the mantra of publishing fast to keep the reader interested.

At the height of my publishing frenzy, in 2015, I published 15 books. In 2016, I published 12, and I made the USA Today Bestselling authors list with two of my boxed sets. I won awards and built my newsletter and author group, and all that should have been enough. Except I’d lost sight of what is truly important–relationships and storytelling. Since 2017, I’ve taken a step back from author groups and the endless social media and marketing groups. I’ve also branched out in different directions, trying a mythological/paranormal story about a woman who gets involved with the Kitchen God’s son, Johnny Wok, and a new romantic suspense series of psychopaths in remote mountain towns.

I’ve completed several series and starting new ones, and the best thing of all, I’m writing whatever whim blows my way. I’m no longer measuring success by rankings and sales figures or how large my social media reach is, but by the personalized emails I receive from readers who want to discuss my books further. I treasure the moment, each moment with my characters and readers, and once again, I’m smooth sailing and ready for the next exciting storm.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Lovely Hearts Press story. Tell us more about the business.
My business, Rachelle Ayala Publishing – Lovely Hearts Press, publishes only a single writer–me. I’m proud of doing everything myself, including creating most of my book covers and doing the eBook and print formats. I do hire out for audiobooks and editing, but mainly, my business allows me to work on my own, set my own targets, and create with the freedom I always desired when I worked for someone else.

Incidentally, Rachelle Ayala is a penname and has an interesting story. My daughter had a secret boyfriend and used the codename “Rachelle” for a supposed girlfriend who moved to another state. This is how I never suspected the frequent phone calls were anything more than girltalk. There’s a happy ending, though. She and her boyfriend have been married nine years, and I’ve claimed Rachelle for my penname.

Since I grew up in Los Angeles, a lot of my stories are set in California. My football series, Intercepted by Love, has a fictional football team, LA Flash, with a stadium in the Hollywood Hills. I also include downtown and South Bay scenes in Wilmington, a sting operation in Vegas, and a wedding caper in Upstate New York. Lucky in Laguna features the community of Laguna Beach with enough fictional detail to virtual travel to the beach town, including a paddleboard expedition. I enjoy writing and imagining stories throughout my hometown, as well as the City by the Bay and Sandy Eggo down south. Being a local girl writer is so much fun because I can feel the sun, surf, and sand between my toes through my writing.

What were you like growing up?
I was a shy kid who overcompensated by being funny. I can always see the humor in a situation, and I think it comes out in my stories. In college, my friends referred to me as a walking sitcom. I’ve calmed down now, but I retain the ability to laugh at myself and see the quirky and hilarious in life. Sometimes, you’ll find me laughing out loud while reading my own stories, yes, dorky, isn’t it to laugh at my own jokes.

That aside, I was also studious and constantly learning. I played the violin, read everything I could get my hands on, and was manager of the football team in high school. People believe I’m an extrovert, but sometimes, I wonder if it’s an act. I don’t mind being alone and in my stories, but I also like to share them with others. Since I started writing, I find other authors immensely interesting because we talk about our characters like they’re real people. Our characters are always larger than life and full of zest, and that’s how I wish to live in a halfway house between reality and the fictional dream.

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Rachelle Ayala

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