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Daily Inspiration: Meet Rachel Werner

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Werner.

Rachel Werner is the founder of The Little Book Project WI as well as a teaching artist for Hugo House, The Loft Literary Center and Lighthouse Writer’ Workshop. She regularly contributes content to The Spruce Eats, Mother Untitled and Fabulous Media Group. Her first cookbook “Macro Cooking Made Simple” (Chartwell Books) will be released in Spring 2023. And Rachel’s debut science book for kids “Floods” is one of the titles in Capstone’s Wild Earth Series. Her next kidlit book with Capstone (“Moving and Grooving to Fillmore’s Beat” will be released in Fall 2023. Rachel is represented by Savannah Brooks at KT Literary Agency.

Hi Rachel, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?

In many ways, creative community engagement—along with health promotion and sustainability initiatives—has been the primary areas of focus for my professional journey. I believe that if women in particular can learn to better ascertain the potential risks associated with certain lifestyle choices compounded by limitations which have historically been imposed by societal expectations, national health statistics could improve tremendously. In addition, helping individuals and organizations recognize the common objectives artists share across race, religion, political divides and sexual orientation in regard to goal achievement and career aspirations is a unique role the arts fill on a human level—by providing a mechanism for more silent voices to rise to the surface. To be seen and heard on one’s own terms is a right we all are entitled to, but many continue to be denied.

Over the last six years, I’ve spent a significant amount of time doing social media takeovers and content creation as a freelance writer and influencer. This eventually led me to start teaching digital marketing classes and workshops for creativepreneurs via organizations such as The Highlights Foundation, Social Media Breakfast, Madison Public Library, San Diego Writers’ Ink, Hugo House and more. In 2019, I started The Little Book Project WI, a biannual community arts initiative that is also a tool for social justice activism. My first nonfiction kid’s book (published by Capstone) was released in 2022. My next kidlit with Capstone (“Moving and Grooving to Fillmore’s Beat” is forthcoming this fall. And my debut cookbook with Chartwell Books (“Macro Cooking Made Simple”) will be released in April.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
On a personal level, the biggest challenge I have overcome thus far in my career was foraging advantageous connections in the publishing world. In less than 4 years, I went from being an unknown novice to becoming an assistant editor, then digital editor, for one of the most influential media outlets in Wisconsin. I overcame the initial roadblocks through perseverance. (I spent months sending out dozens of pitches to local and national publications, but I knew if I didn’t give up eventually, a ‘YES’ would emerge from the plethora of ‘NO’s’). I also made the most of every opportunity that came my way by not missing deadlines and accepting each networking invitation someone extended to me. What I learned via this process is that open doors often exist around so many corners; one just has to have the confidence to first seek them out, then pursue them. And that passion, fueled by resiliency, can carry you a good stretch of the journey since knowledge and talent continue to be gained along the way. This is how—and why—I have expanded my creative “income generating” skills to now include food styling and photography.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Expanding the inclusion of the overarching American narrative is another passion project of mine. Much of the creative writing I do is in response to the conscious and subconscious negative assumptions I encounter in regard to being a person of color. As an educated, multiethnic woman, I have forged a successful career in more than one competitive industry. Yet frequently, I am surprised by the false connotations strangers and acquaintances attribute to my and my daughter’s lives. Whereas as an adult, it can be easy (at times) to brush off other people’s misguided remarks, I worry about the impressions these persuasive stereotypes could have on her in addition to other children of color—especially those being raised in “nontraditional” households. No one should ever feel their families or cultures are subpar to the default of whiteness so much of in contemporary American society continues to perpetuate. These kids should also not grow up without knowing there are a plethora of historical trailblazers who have made significant contributions to the arts and sciences with whom they may have much in common with. And they deserve to read stories, plus see visual art, that portray how our lives are filled with PLENTY of JOY ( rather than solely trauma-based tales).

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
I really hope the publishing industry continues to make steady progress toward becoming more inclusive. This is vital in a country that has much work to do in regard to dismantling systemic oppression. That would be a sustainable vehicle for transformative justice—providing accessible materials which explore and confront the social mores that an alarming number of American citizens still buy into, and put so many more at a significant disadvantage. All of our personal biases need to be regularly examined plus challenged. Print and digital publications have a responsibility to better reflect the beauty and purpose of the global majority (aka: historically marginalized groups). There is liberty in words. So we all need to ensure they are used wisely.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
The headshot should be credited to: Miriam Bulcher Photography The two images on the coastline should be credited to Aliza Eliazarov

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