What do you do when the love of your life for 25 years goes on vacation with his brothers, has a fatal heart attack and doesn’t return home? After that happened to her in 2008, Claudia Wright moved to Morro Bay, published a book and reached out to 482 new friends.
“Jim told his brothers he was tired,” Wright said. “He was 51 (when) he had a heart attack.”
Although a successful graphic artist, his wife and family of three were unprepared financially.
“I couldn’t afford the mortgage,” Wright said. “At one point, we were homeless, but together we made it. The boys had scholarships for college, but losing their dad was tough.”
Formerly in management with Starbucks in Chandler, Ariz., Wright was a stay-at-home mom working on a book concept. “Toasted: The Perfect Toast for Every Occasion” had an advance from a publisher. Memories of her grandparents’ toasts sparked the idea. Wright planned to publish traditional and custom toasts for all occasions. When her publisher was bought out, her book idea was shelved.
She doesn’t know how they got her résumé, but Apple called. She accepted a district manager position that ultimately transferred her to Mission Viejo. She then moved to the San Luis Obispo store to be closer to her daughter in Monterey.
“I needed to jump-start my life,” said Wright, who is now retired. “One night, I discovered www.meetup.com. I thought there might be others around Morro Bay wanting to hike or go to the movies. I created the group 50 Years Plus Active Singles. We are 482 members with no defined structure but to show up.”
Meanwhile, rights to self-publish her book “Toasted” were returned.
She has invited STAX Wine Bar to pour at her book signing at Coalesce Bookstore from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday. To attend, call 772-2880 to make a reservation. There’s a $10 wine tasting fee.
Living in the heart of wine country, Wright has pitched her book to other wine bars and wineries.
“It’s a pocket-sized book, and I’ve included pages where wine tasters can keep notes where they’ve tasted and which wines they prefer,” she said.
Wright has created a limited number of her books customized for a specific winery, weddings and graduations.
Besides STAX Wine Bar and Coalesce Bookstore, Opolo Vineyards, Central Coast Wines, and Saucelito Canyon Vineyard and Winery are additional supporters. Learn more at www.toastedtoasts.com.
“My children encouraged me to follow my dream,” Wright said. “My goal is to get the book into the hands of people celebrating life. Let me share my grandmother’s Scottish toast: ‘Cheers to life, love, money and the time to enjoy it all.’ ”
Judy Salamacha's column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-1422.