Beth Ruggiero York: Author, "Flying Alone: A Memoir"

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My Admission Statement: I live in Arizona and am an author, photographer, and Chinese translator, among other things. My life is very busy, but I like it that way. As an author, my newest book, Flying Alone: A Memoir, officially launches on October 14, 2019. As a photographer, I sell my work and teach photography workshops all over the world. In fact, I will be teaching a workshop in southern France in October, where we will be staying in a medieval castle! As a freelance Chinese translator (written work), I specialize in pharmaceutical documents and patents. These different careers have developed over the years since I graduated college in 1984. I’ve been taking tour groups and now photo groups to China and other parts of Asia since 1984, but in 1985, I decided to follow a completely different career path that had been a childhood goal—learning to fly and getting a job with the airlines. I did that and was eventually hired by Trans World Airlines (TWA) in 1989, but one year later, my flying career ended when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. That piece of my life is the subject of Flying Alone. I then got a master’s degree in Chinese Studies (same as my bachelor’s) and continued taking groups to China while at the same time translating. The photography entered the picture about 10 years ago. My life philosophy is to follow every dream and enjoy what you’re doing!

How did you get into the industry?

I think I was always headed on the path of authorship. I started writing when I was a child. My diary was my refuge. In 1976, when I was 13 years old, my father died. This was a sudden and devastating event that led to a deeper dive into writing. I wrote my newest book, Flying Alone, after my flying career ended but set it aside until last year.

Any emerging industry trends?

I think the greatest trend in the book industry is the move to self-publishing. In the early days, it was looked down upon as something you had printed by a ‘vanity press’, but over the past several years, it has taken the industry by storm for very valid reasons.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

The opportunities are growing, especially with self-publishing, but you can’t just publish a book through Amazon and expect that it will take off. The marketing is just as important as the quality of the book and takes more time.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

My inspiration for writing my book 28 years ago were the remarkable experiences I had when I was learning to fly and building hours. Going forward, I plan to write more books.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

In the short term, I am fully immersed in launching and marketing Flying Alone. When that settles down a bit, I will be writing a book about China and how it has changed over the past 35 years.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

I seek to be positive in all ways, believe in my abilities and worth, and seize every opportunity.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

When I was flying in the 1980s, being a woman in a dominantly male career was especially difficult. As a writer now, making the decision to self-publish rather than publish traditionally was challenging. The success of the book is so important to me that I needed to research every aspect of the publishing industry to make the best decision for me. Now, several months into it, I know I made the right decision to self-publish.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

My readers are my customers. When they read Flying Alone, my hope is to empower anyone with gender or health obstacles in their path to a goal not to give up. You can succeed despite the difficulties. I also hope my book will be valuable to student pilots aspiring to a professional aviation career.

How do you motivate others?

Inspiring hope and excitement through my writing.

Career advice to those in your industry? 

Be sure to write consistently, even if you think there is no end goal to what you are writing. Keep a diary and always have a note pad with you to jot down ideas, phrases and events. Eventually, you will see that what you have written has led you to the basis for your first book.

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What do I do best?

Teaching the things I love—photography and China.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Determination and perseverance. Never giving up.

What are my aspirations?

To be a well-loved, bestselling author.

My Biggest Success?

Mastering the Chinese language.

My Most Challenging Moment?

When I received the multiple sclerosis diagnosis and, many years later, the chronic Lyme disease diagnosis. Both galvanized me to perform better and do more.

My Motto?

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Professionally, my favorite author role models are Cheryl Strayed, Simon Winchester and Nathaniel Philbrick. Personally, my favorite person is my husband.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Anywhere in China, anytime. Also, Italy and Alaska.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

My cameras and lenses.

My Current Passions?

Night photography.

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Productivity

Thought of the Day: Always maintain hope

Action of the Day: Being positive

Deed of the Day: Being kind to others

Tip of the Day: Make the most out of every day

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

The natural beauty

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Veggie skillet at Georgie’s Diner in Fountain Hills, AZ

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Getting up

10:00 AM – Pecking at my “to do” list

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

Street tacos at the hot dog and taco stand in Fountain Hills

7:00 PM - Cleaning up from dinner and taking time to relax

11:00 PM – Sleeping soundly!

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Fruit-flavored seltzer water.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?


What should everyone try at least once?

Seeing the Northern Lights

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

Shanghai, China

My Pic of the Day: Aurora borealis in Alaska. Photographing these moments are the most exciting and inspiring moments in my life.

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What Else to Know?

Visit my website and blog at

My upcoming book launch events—

Book signing launch event at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ on October 26th

Local Author Book Fair at Phoenix Central Library, Phoenix, AZ on November 2nd