Rachel Howe: Bryant Alum and Author

HC: So, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself!

RH: I graduated from Bryant in 1992 with a marketing degree. I was also the captain of the women’s soccer team, and the student-athlete of the year that year. I met my husband David while at Bryant, and we have been married almost 23 years. We live in Massachusetts with our 3 teenage children, the oldest having just started college this year. Upon graduating, I worked in telecom, magazine production and direct advertising. After 15 years working in the corporate world, I realized I needed to make a change, and follow something I had always been passionate about – which is fitness. I went back to school to get a degree in personal training and nutrition, and started my own fitness business. I now own and operate Momentum Fitness, which has been steadily growing every year for the past 10 years.


HC: What inspired you to become an author?

RH: I have always enjoyed having a creative outlet – whether it was taking acting classes, doing community theater, or writing fitness blogs. I never dreamed of writing a novel until an idea hit me one day about two years ago and I knew I needed to write a book. The truth of it is that I “saw” the entire storyline as if I was watching a movie on the big screen, and this was the best way I could capture it.  


HC: Can you tell us briefly what your novel ‘Ripple’ is about?

RH: ‘Ripple’ is the story of Jillian Richards, an elite triathlete, who is just days away from realizing her life dream of winning gold – when the moment of impact comes. Racing to the airport on an icy Boston freeway, she spins out of control and smashes headfirst into a jackknifed tractor trailer. Pinned inside with critical injuries and only moments to spare, her survival will depend on five seemingly unconnected strangers, each with a harrowing story of their own. From the moment of impact, chapters weave between the moments after the crash and the fated back stories of these five. Fate has brought them back to her, but it will be up to Jillian to make it out alive.

HC: What inspired the story behind ‘Ripple’?

RH: The deeper theme of ‘Ripple’ has to do with kindness, and especially kindness to strangers. I had watched an episode of Ellen where she did something amazing for someone, and the tiny seed of this idea came to me. I think that what we do – and the energy we put out – comes back in one way or another. Some call that karma while others may attribute events to fate. ‘Ripple’ takes this concept to a whole new level. But…there’s a twist!


HC: What is the coolest part of being a published author?

RH: The best part for me has been surprising people. I didn’t tell anyone that I had been working on this until after the entire first draft was written. It has been fun to not only share the fact that I wrote a book with family and friends, but even better when they read it and love it. People know me for my fitness expertise, so in a lot of ways writing this novel was a complete surprise to many. I also got to have a few adventures that I would have never been able to if I hadn’t written this book. The coolest thing I got to do was a ride-along with a medical helicopter crew. One of the storylines involves a helicopter rescue pilot, and when a good friend of mine found out about the book, she introduced me to her husband, who just so happens to be a helicopter mechanic for a medical transport company. I actually got to witness a mission and through that experience, was able to rewrite that specific chapter in a way that is more authentic. I’ll never forget that day – it was incredible.


HC: Can you tell us a little about your experience with self-publishing your book?

RH: There are many options when it comes to self-publishing. I did my research on the larger, more well-known companies that offer this service, and decided to go with CreateSpace, which is owned by Amazon. They offered the creative services I needed and I liked the fact that they could easily get this up on Amazon as well as on Kindle.


HC: What was your biggest challenge in the writing and publishing process?

RH: The biggest challenge for me was deciding to “pull the trigger” on the editing and publishing expenses associated with self-publishing. I was surprised at how much these cost. It was actually my husband who finally persuaded me to go for it – he had witnessed me working at this for 2 years and knew I’d regret it if I didn’t see it to fruition. I’m really happy he gave me that push!


HC: When you’re not an author, what do you typically spend your time doing?

RH: Running Momentum Fitness takes a good deal of my time. I run boot camps, work 1-on-1 with personal clients, and manage other instructors running wellness programs around the state. I’m also busy with my kids – they are involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities that take up lots of time.


HC: Are you planning on, or are you currently, writing any other novels?

RH: I actually do have the idea for my next book! I’m not going to give too much away, but I will say it is a bit darker than ‘Ripple’. I have just started working on the outline, and I am excited to see where it takes me.


HC: What is one piece of advice you would give an aspiring author?

RH: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I found a critique group that was hugely beneficial. There were a couple of things that I needed advice on while writing, and I found that bouncing ideas off other writers worked well – it’s important to get impartial advice if you can.


HC: Where can we find your book?

RH: ‘Ripple’ is currently available on Amazon and through Kindle. I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me on this journey and has purchased a book through either of these sites. I am also blown away by the reviews that are being left from people I know and people I don’t know – the book has gotten just about all 5 star reviews so far. The response has been amazing. I also have an author page on Facebook and a website if people want to connect through social media.


HC: Anything else you want to tell the students of Bryant and college students altogether?

RH: I think the most important thing you can do is figure out what you are passionate about and do everything in your power to incorporate that into what you do for a living. The best thing I ever did was leave my corporate job and pursue fitness – because I get to do something I love every day; most days it doesn’t feel like I’m “working”. I get to inspire, motivate and teach people how to empower their own lives through fitness – having a purpose that is larger than just earning a paycheck is how I have found success and fulfillment in my career. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things if you don’t love what you are doing. Change can be scary, but it is also the best way to grow, to uncover new opportunities and maybe even discover a few hidden talents.


Her Campus wants to thank Rachel for allowing us to learn more about her novel and life after Bryant!