Rita Cook is Editor-in-Chief of The Insider Mag, a travel magazine specializing in automotive reviews and travel features. Rita has written over 1200 articles and a staggering 10 books. Rita’s books range in topics from metaphysical romance, to haunted destinations, to a cocktail book and a book about independent film producing. She joins us this week to talk about her career and travels.
You’ve had an interesting career starting out as an entertainment journalist and now automotive and travel. Plus you’ve authored several books on a variety of subjects. Tell us what led you to this career path and what the journey’s been like for you.
So it has been an interesting journey because I always knew I wanted to be a writer for a living, but I was never sure how I would get there. In my 20s I moved from Dallas to Chicago and worked in Human Resources for awhile. I was able to concentrate on writing safety videos and handbooks.
While I was there I started working at The Insider Mag as the book reviewer and over the years I moved up finally to Editor-in-Chief. I also took a few left and right turns and lived in Los Angeles and worked as a producer in the film industry. But I always wrote and always traveled – that was the core of my being.
I guess the bottom line that defines my journey is I never worried too much about money, always considered doing what I love and surrounding myself with good people who are genuine. I am never afraid to ask for help or give it and that has served me well on my journey.
Do you believe having the weekly radio show has benefitted your writing career? If so, how? If not, what are the downsides?
I think the weekly radio show is just icing on the cake. It has not benefitted me good or bad, but I will say on some days I much prefer to talk instead of write and the radio show is fun in that regard. I like to talk and the radio microphone and listeners like to listen and that’s a good day.
You’ve authored about 10 books, correct? What has that process been like for you?
Yes, it has been 10 and I am working on two more this year. I am the queen of procrastinating and some of the books I have written were more interesting as an idea versus my actually sitting down writing the books. I really love my romance novels (one is out of print as of last month). Those were fun to write.
The latest one “So Mote it Be” was so fun to write, but it took me about eight years to decide on the right ending. My haunted Dallas, Fort Worth and Bartlesville, OK books were just fun to write and research – who doesn’t love chasing ghosts? And then there is the drinking book – Prohibition Cocktails. Of course I had to try the cocktails! It takes me forever to research but I am a fast writer so that served me well I think.
Your journalism career expands over a couple decades, what advice do you have for someone just starting out in today’s environment?
My advice is believe in what you are doing and don’t let the overworked editors get you down. I had an editor at the Fort Worth Star Telegram tell me a few years ago I was a horrible writer. If I had been a young writer starting out that could have ended my career. I told her that too. I also told her I might not be the best writer, but I have been making a living at this for 20 years and she needed to get a reality check and take a chill pill. Don’t let those editors get you down. This is a wonderful new world we live in with social media and print and websites.
Do EXPECT you can have it all. I always do. I hated social media at first and now you can’t stop me… I am addicted. Have fun in this environment too, we aren’t curing diseases we are connecting with people through words and I feel so blessed. Stay humble and give it all you’ve got!
If you had to choose just 3 of your travel adventures as the most rewarding, which 3 would you choose and why?
Living in Paris part-time is an adrenaline rush I never tire of –I’m heading there soon. I love and hate Paris, but the energy gets into my soul and I love my best friend there (also co-worker) Guillaume de Vaudrey. He has introduced me to the real Paris and through his eyes I see the difference in our cultures just enough for it to be interesting. My second soul place is Africa. I am an African junkie. Currently, I love Zambia the most. I never tire of watching the lions and driving around in the open air jeep on the plains. My soul is happy – it is a great feeling.
India is another special place for me. Every time I go back I love it more. The energy there is hard to explain. My last time there was in Calcutta where I am sure I had a past life experience at Kali’s Temple. I am going back in a few months to make peace with the strong energy I felt there.
Open yourself to wherever you travel because there are always lessons we learn from these places we journey. I read something about once you travel you will never be the same again – it’s true. And I never want to be the same again, I want to embrace life and kick butt.
What’s up next for Rita Cook professionally and in your travel plans?
This year, like I said, I am heading to Paris for a week. Also up for 2017 I’ve got Uganda, Malawi and Swaziland in May as well as Germany. Later I will head to Bhutan again and India. And at the end of year Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands. Somewhere in between I also get to head back to Thailand, go to Tanzania in September and add some new countries to my list. I ended 2016 with 100 countries I had visited. If all goes well I will be adding at least five new ones this year. Stay tuned.
I also have a book I am writing about a local politician in Dallas who I just love – Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. He makes me look boring and I can’t wait to write about him and his love of Dallas over the years. After that I have another ghost book on the agenda and then as for Dallas – I am out of here. I am heading to the ocean where my soul is encouraging me to go ASAP and that will lead to new love and life and I can’t wait. I will always write and travel and I hope always make people smile along the way.
Rita divides her time between her homes in Dallas, Texas, and Paris, France, and writes for a variety of additional outlets on numerous topics in addition to The Insider Mag. She also has a weekly auto column with The Washington Times. Her weekly Saturday night travel radio show “Bonjour World” can be heard on The Insider Mag WTIM radio station at http://theinsidermag.com. Connect with Rita on Twitter and Instagram