Self-published author Rachel Cullen writes anywhere, anytime—while raising three children


When it comes to writing, everyone has their own style. Some swear by a neat workspace or a nine-to-five workday. Rachel Cullen, author of the novels “Only Summer,” “The Way I’ve heard it Should Be” and “Second Chances,” writes anywhere, anytime.

Cullen wasn’t a writer by trade. She earned an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business with a focus in marketing and finance. A stay at home mom, her plan had originally been for her to return to work once life had settled out again. However, the birth of her third daughter made the decision to pause on marketing and focus on the kids. Writing weaseled its way into her life and evolved from her own pet project into something that she shared.

“I’d been home from full-time work for about two and a half years, and I’d thought about writing, but every time I did, I’d say—that’s crazy, you’re not a writer, you’re a marketer, a consultant,” she said. “That’s what you do.”

But the story ideas didn’t stop. “I’d overhear a snippet of conversation, or see something, and not think, ‘Oh, I’m going to write about that,’ but a story would come out,” Cullen said. “It kept happening and happening for a little over a year. I just couldn’t put it away.”

Cullen can see the first time she finally sat down and wrote as a clear memory.

“It was one afternoon and the kids were napping and I did just sit down and everything I’d been formulating in my head just poured out,” she said. “I sat down, and for two hours, I just wrote like crazy. In the end, I had created this thing. It may have been really, really bad, but it was a thing.”

From there, Cullen’s writing took off. Now, she writes women’s fiction, a genre commonly known as chick-lit. It focuses on individuals, typically females, as heroines in their own lives.

“You turn on the news and rarely find a happy story. I like the genre because it’s happy, and you always get a resolution. Why I read it, and why I think most of my readers are reading it, is for that escape, for the nice warm fuzzy feeling that you might not be getting in the rest of your day.”

That escape is indeed enticing, and some may even call it necessary in today’s world.

“There are days when I write in the car, like I know I’ve got a good half an hour in the parking lot between karate and soccer, and so I pull the seat back in the car and give myself space to stick a laptop,” she said. “I have to write the whole thing through, A to Z. Sometimes, I know the gist of what I’m going to do, and other times I think it’s going to go one way, and then it changes.”

I sat down, and for two hours, I just wrote like crazy. In the end, I had created this thing. It may have been really, really bad, but it was a thing.”

— Rachel Cullen

Though churning out words for two hours is a passionate event, that isn’t how a whole novel gets written. From there, chapters have to be composed, characters developed, stories edited, and an agent found—unless, of course, you self-publish. That route doesn’t get you out of the developing and editing, but now more than ever the literary world is full of competition and rejection. Because of this, Cullen learned the publishing process online and worked through Amazon to get her first book published. Now on her third self-published novel, there’s also a publicist in the mix, as well as some online author groups.

“I enjoy reading stories, and I really like telling stories, creating the characters and making them do things,” she said. “My favorite part is the narrative, storytelling aspect. It’s for my ownership, for expressive purposes, to have my own thing. When I’m writing, it’s my own time to create something from nothing.”

One of the draws of Cullen’s work is not only that she’s a local writer, but that she writes about this locale. “Westchester is where I’ve lived for the past 11 years, and it’s what I know best right now, that’s where my experience is. To write a story really well, you have to know the area, so whether it’s somewhere you know instinctively or it’s somewhere you’ve researched.”

Like many authors, her advice for writing is writing. “If you want to get into writing, you should write, the more you do, the better you’ll be. Write whatever is interesting to you, don’t feel that it is a chore, just write what you like. Try writing different genres and styles.”

Cullen’s fourth book is in its beginning stages. The story will include a man as a protagonist, diverting from her typical four heroines. She said she’s “a  little unsure but I think I’m going to go for it.”

Check out more of Cullen’s work here. To read a review of her latest book, “Only Summer,” click here.