Hello, Slice of Orange! I’m new here. My name is Renae Wrich and I am a children’s book author and an aspiring writer of romance. I hail from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, more commonly known as Minnesota.
Minnesota had an especially brutal spring season this year. To put it in perspective, in April there were only five days of sunshine (FIVE!) and the average daytime temperature for the month was a whopping 44 degrees. This miserable weather was only compounded by the fact that my family welcomed an adorable eight-week old whoodle puppy into our home in March.
Shivering outside at all hours of the day willing our whoodle to do her business, was enough to put my husband and I on a plane headed to the desert in May. So we dropped off our puppy and kids with the Grandparents and hightailed it to Sedona, Arizona.
Sedona had been on our bucket list for a while and this year felt like the perfect time to go. In addition to escaping the “sprinter” (spring + winter) weather, we also had the perfect excuse of celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary.
Let me tell you, Sedona did not disappoint. There’s so much to do and seriously not enough vacation days to do it all – Mystical vortexes, pink jeeps, prickly pear margaritas, art galleries, plus all the adventure and hiking your glutes can handle. Don’t worry, we also treated ourselves to plenty of R&R time at the pool.
It was on our last full day in Sedona, as I was wading through the pool, that I noticed a woman with a hat that had the word “Writer” printed across the front.
I don’t know if it was the buzz of vortex energy, the poolside margarita, or sheer excitement, but I immediately swam up to her and introduced myself.
My mysterious pool writer turned out to be none other than Rebecca Forster!! As you can imagine, Rebecca was incredibly kind and easy to talk to. We found ourselves lost in conversation about the world of writing and publishing. I probably could have stayed in that pool and talked with her all night, but for the sake of our pruned fingers and deserted spouses, we finally exited the pool and exchanged information.
It was a no-brainer when Rebecca asked me to fill in for her on Slice of Orange while she’s away. I am grateful to her and for opportunity to be a part of this incredible community.
If you have any littles in your life who are obsessed with macaroni and cheese, or any Grandmas who always save the day, please check out my book, Mac and Cheese, Please, Please, Please. It is available on Amazon.
STATION WAGONS & STORYTELLING:
The first time my parents piled all of my siblings and me into an old station wagon without air conditioning and drove us to the desert for and August ‘vacation’, I was hooked on travel. It didn’t matter that it was 120 degrees in the shade, that the hotel was cheap, and that only one coffee shop remained open in the days before universal air conditioning. At nine years old, that humble vacation embedded itself in my brain and made me a traveler and a storyteller. I remember the heat from my burned skin (before sunscreen). I remember having ‘peeling’ contests with my brothers. My yellow swimsuit had white flowers on it. The sun went through the white leaving my torso stamped with brown patches. I was sure I was dying. It took my mother an hour to convince me I was simply tanned.
On the way home, we saw three giant, realistic dinosaur structures looming in the middle of the desert, each many stories high. Intrigued, we convinced my father to stop. There was a small door in the leg of the Tyrannosaurs Rex that opened onto a dark, narrow stairway leading to the belly of the beast. An old man lived inside the dinosaur. He waited patiently for people to stop. When they did he sold them shark’s teeth and turquoise. I loved the idea of a man living in a dinosaur.
I came home from that trip with the sights and sounds, the tastes and smells, the memories of the people I met embedded in my bones. Every travel experience is like that for me, and all these things eventually show up in a book.
MEETING OF THE MINDS
That brings me to the here and now. A month ago, I went to Sedona, Arizona, a place of stunning views, breathtaking nature hikes, and magical Vortices. It is also where a frustrated psychic healer once told me that he couldn’t tell my future because I had a bad aura. He gave me my money back. I was bummed.
However, my future turned out okay. I returned home with some lovely memories and a new friend. Her name is Renae Wrich. I was walking around the pool —heaven forbid I actually swim and exercise—wearing my favorite baseball cap. I forget that it is emblazoned with the word ‘WRITER’. Renae waded through the water to ask if I wrote. Once we determined we were both writers, the conversation marathon began. We talked about writing and publishing, managing a family and juggling work while we pursue our passion.
PASSING THE BATON
When I knew that I would be stepping down from my monthly Slice of Orange post (yes, I’ll be on an extended trip), I asked if I could replace myself. Renae was my first choice. She had just published Mac and Cheese Please, Please,Please, a children’s book and is setting her sights on romance. I envy her the journey in this brave new world of words and technology. I can’t wait to read her thoughts on writing as she builds her career works and raises her children.
So, I have had the honor of enjoying my Renae Wrich experience standing in a pool in Sedona, Arizona. I know you’ll love getting to know her too. Welcome Renae! Thank you for accepting the baton. Until our paths cross again, I’ll be following along with all your new Slice of Orange fans.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love an adventure. Being asked to speak aboard a ship was definitely on my bucket list, so I jumped at the chance when I was asked to be an onboard lecturer. I prepared five talks that I thought were rather compelling: Peek Behind the Covers, a Look at Publishing, The Caribbean Influence on Popular Literature and Movies, The Five People You Should Meet in the Caribbean, How to Travel like an Author and Everyone has a Story: What’s Yours?.
Since I had sailed on this ship as a passenger, I knew the people coming to listen to me were well traveled, curious, intelligent and fun. On my speaking days, they gathered to hear me in the big theatre to watch my PowerPoint presentations and see me slide hither and yon on the dance floor when the sea got rough. At the end of each of my presentations, I asked if there were questions. There weren’t – at least not questions for public consumption. Instead, many in the audience came to speak to me privately. They wanted to talk about their own writing ambitions. There was a surgeon who wanted to write a children’s book, a woman in her nineties whose own children were asking that she write a memoir. There was a man who had written a business book a decade ago but he had always wanted to write a novel. And there was a composer who, as he listened to me, thought to combine lyrics and a story to create a unique novel.
After listening to every person who spoke to me after my lecture, or caught me on deck, or sat with me in the dining room it finally dawned on me what they were after. They wanted my permission to follow their dreams.
[tweetshare tweet=”@Rebecca_Forster: You have my permission . . .follow your dreams.” username=”A_SliceofOrange”]
Strangely, when it comes to fiction or memoir, many of us believe that our words are not as valuable as the next persons. We convince ourselves that writing with honesty and passion will somehow diminish us in the eyes of the world – or at least those we care about. We offer our writing up with caveats like ‘it is silly’, ‘you probably won’t like it’, and ‘promise not to laugh’.
I heard these things in the voices of the people on that ship, but when we were done talking I heard something else. I heard confidence. I heard the excitement. I heard their brains turning as they planned their books. By taking that first step – admitting they harbored dreams of authorship to someone who was already there – they had given themselves permission to write. When we all parted, I knew exactly where they were going. They were going home to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards. They had taken more than a cruise, they had taken a journey and I have no doubt that by the end of that journey they will have written their book.
Give yourself permission to do whatever it is you dream of doing. If your dream is to write a book, do it with honesty and passion – and don’t forget to share it with the rest of us.
I recently returned from an incredible trip to Europe with my husband. We took a Viking Ocean Cruise, visiting Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Germany, Denmark and Norway. The ship was awesome, crew amazing and tours incredible. Everyone that we met both on and off the ship were friendly and anxious to share their personal stories. If you get a chance to travel, as we did, on the Viking Star you are sure to make more than a few lasting memories. Throughout the two weeks I had to frequently recharge my phone as there were so many interesting people and places to photograph.
Prior to leaving for our trip I had finished my latest soon to be titled book. After sending it off to my editor for review, I decided that I needed a little break from writing. I was sure that I would be so busy during my travels that I wouldn’t have a chance to even consider any future storylines. But I was wrong, very wrong.
Any of you who have read my books know that I write about witches, magic and mystery. Little did I know that I would discover a magical world filled with witches, Trolls and more as we toured about.
I was especially intrigued at our last stop – Bergen, Norway. Snuggled between mountains, fjords and glaciers, Bergen is a fishing city steeped in history. Viking warriors, The Hanseatic League and the oil industry have all had a lasting effect on this port town. But I was truly surprised to find enchanting folklore and captivating mysteries tucked throughout this city and roaming freely in the hillsides of this quaint fairy-tale city by the sea.
Early inhabitants of Bergen were sure that something supernatural could be found hiding in the dark forests that surrounded their city. Thought to hide in the rocky slopes and pathways, Trolls have been a big part of the local folklore since the 13th century. Feared, revered – yet loved by many, these supernatural creatures have been included in the history of Norway for over 700 years. So much so that
local roads and byways reflect their presence from Trollstigen to Troll’s Tongue and Troll Peaks – Trolls are ever present. Magical trolls are said to roam the hillsides and I was able to capture a few with my camera as I climbed the hillsides. So many strange and alluring tales attributed to these strange looking inhabitants and I was eager to catalog as many of them as I could.
Not content with just chasing Trolls through the countryside, I came upon an ear catching conversation regarding the witches of Bergen and was soon directed to The Witch Stone (Hekse Steinen). Near the center of town, this memorial honors the 350 witches burned between 1550 and 1700. Anne Pedersdotter, perhaps one of the most famous Norwegian women accused of witchcraft, was killed for her beliefs in 1590. Her history is engaging to say the least and her presence apparently still felt in Bergen today. Locals all seem to have their own story to share of how they think witchcraft effected the history of their town. Some share remorse for the killings, others express superstition regarding witchcraft in general and a few thought it best not to speak of it at all. Interesting!
All in all I found this trip unexpectedly ripe with ideas to mine for my next book. Returning home, I couldn’t wait to get to my computer to begin. Witches, Trolls, magic and mystery – wow who knew! Little did I know just how many ideas I’d capture as I traveled throughout this exciting region. You too must take this fun filled, mind engaging journey!
The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it. When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.
I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.
I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.
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Adventuring is in Monica McCabe’s blood. She’s addicted to travel, National Parks, & exploring new places and mysterious locales. She’s climbed glaciers and ancient Mayan pyramids, dived shipwrecks and reef caves, camped in Sasquatch country, and drove across the USA three times. When not traveling she’s writing romantic suspense and adventure for Lyrical Press, Kensington’s digital line.
Recently I went on a hike at my town’s local greenway. I soaked up bright sunshine, admired the lush landscaping and a gently rolling stream that followed the trail. Then suddenly, I had an epiphany. Not the earth shattering, life changing kind. More like a realization, a cosmic connecting of the dots when it comes to being a writer.
It’s no secret that I love travel. I like going places. That fascination has infiltrated into my stories too, which brings us to that moment of truth on the trail. It occurred to me that books and real estate have a lot in common. Location, location, location. It’s also my mantra. I’m always on the prowl for a new place to explore – whether for vacations, movie time, or reading choices.
It also plays into being a writer. Some people start their story with characters. The WHO is important. They want to know everything about them – eye color, hair color, where they went to school. Not me. I start my story with the WHERE. Then I move into the WHAT. Until I get deep into location and plot, characters are just a vague impression. It’s taken me four books and a long nature hike to realize this is my process.
Setting is what motivates me to begin the book. Imagery helps create my story. I have a blank wall next to my computer. When I start to build my story world, that wall turns into a collage of pictures that detail out every major scene location. The deeper into the book I get, the more images fill that space.
Mere words cannot express how much I enjoy this kind of research. It’s the best part of writing. And yet, what inspires me to choose a location…I can’t say. I saw something, heard something, I honestly don’t know. It just happens.
DIAMOND LEGACY is set in Botswana, Africa because I wanted a story about diamond smuggling. I dug in and learned that mining for the gemstone dominates the country’s economy and work force. And the animals! It was a perfect choice.
EMERALD FIRE opens in St. Lucia, West Indies. What better place to hide modern day pirates? Full of secret coves, luxury yachts, & breathtaking scenery, it’s every bit the perfect Caribbean island. We visited a few years ago, after I wrote the book. I really want to go again.
The latest book in the Jewel Intrigue Novels is PHANTOM PEARL. It’s a book divided. First half is in Australia, the second half Singapore. This time though, I took research to a whole new level. Hubby and I went to Australia and it was two weeks of pure awesome. This article could easily describe how endlessly amazing the place is, but I’ll restrain myself. Let me just say – if you’ve ever thought about it – DON’T WAIT. DO IT. It’s totally worth the 17 hour flight.
Back to PHANTOM PEARL. It’s a treasure hunting story that involves a WWII mystery surrounding Japan and Malaysia. So I hid the truth in the rainforests of Far North, Queensland.
Then it’s on to Singapore for a grand finale on Jurong Island, a massive industrial seaport. Have yet to visit Singapore, but if I ever get the chance… Did you know their airport is consistently voted best in the world? It’s a destination all its own.
Based on my book reviews it seems my passion for travel shines through, because there’s a consistent theme. Vivid imagery, how the setting takes on a life of its own. I had one that swore I’d been to Africa. I wish! My secret weapon is Google Earth and travel journal sites like Trip Advisor. I spend hours going over every square inch by satellite and reading real life reviews for nuggets of gold to use in my books.
I’m already thinking of my next tale and I’m fairly certain it will be set in Italy’s spectacular Amalfi Coast. Because look at it! Can you imagine basking on board a luxury yacht in this harbor, sipping limoncello while soaking up the Mediterranean sun? Yes, please!
So what about you? If you could go anywhere on the planet, where would it be?
Tell me the #1 spot on your bucket list and you’ll be entered to win a free copy of DIAMOND LEGACY or EMERALD FIRE. Africa or St. Lucia? The destination is yours to make.
Thank you, Monica, for being our guest today on A Slice of Orange.
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