Breaking the norm in the world of writing and publishing is nothing new to Rhonda Penders, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Wild Rose Press. With this week’s episode, you are taken on a journey to Ireland where Rhonda is presently co-leading a writing tour and workshop over the course of a week. She shares intimate details of the experience she’s had thus far, and offers a snapshot of what is to come.
01:55 Meet Rhonda Penders and Wild Rose Press
04:08 The Writing Tours, from Greece to Ireland so far
07:45 Writing tours to establish friendships, inspire creativity, and enjoy some vacation time
19:50 The magic of being on-location to inspire you
23:00 Rhonda on collaboration and leading vs. allowing herself to be led on this writing tour
Find out more about Wild Rose Press, including future events like the writing tour discussed in today’s episode by visiting https://wildrosepress.com.
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How Writing Tours Inspire Creativity and Breakthroughs with Rhonda Penders, Editor-In-Chief and Co-founder, Wild Rose Press
Julie Lokun: And we’re live once again. We’re kicking it today with our guest contributor, the amazing Rhonda Penders who happens to be taking a lovely, I’m gonna call it vacation. I don’t know if she would consider it a vacation, a break from the norm, right in the aisle of Ireland.
Corinna Bellizzi: Wow. Right. This is where I consider Ireland to be like paradise. When I took my mother there shortly after I introduced her to my husband, we went on vacation together to Ireland. You, your mom and Matt went on vacation together. Yeah. That’s how I met how I introduced her to him. Cuz they lived in different states. Right? Oh, that’s so sweet. So we toured Ireland and she never wanted to leave.
She was like, I feel like I am home. She’d never seen so many shades of green in her life. I will say the same applies to me. It’s just so beautiful to be in the natural world there. So I’m intensely jealous of Rhonda Penders and everyone in that writing tour right now.
Julie Lokun: Mm-hmm, a writing tour in Ireland. I don’t know what could be more inspiring quite honestly.
And just taking in the landscape of Ireland has to delete writer’s block from everybody that has joined Rhonda on this amazing adventure.
Corinna Bellizzi: Yeah. I can’t wait to hear about it. We have to ask her why we weren’t invited Ireland writer, tours.com for anyone listening. Just go ahead and take a look at that site.
Our guest Ronda Penders.
Rhonda Penders: Hello ladies.
Julie Lokun: The fair lass herself.
Corinna Bellizzi: You’re out there representing Wild Rose Press and putting pen to paper.
Rhonda Penders: Yes. Yes. It’s it’s been good. It’s, you know, I’ve only been here about 24 hours, but we had a fully packed day today. Our tour guide, Fiona, Claire is her name. We had a bus tour and we went and we had this wonderful tour of some forests and we looked for fairies.
They, the Irish Faires, F A E R Y. And we took this long nature walk and it was to inspire you with nature to make you feel one with. The surrounding area and to, to absorb the message from nature. So to get us ready to begin our writing journeys this week, we took this long nature walk, which was quite lovely.
And Fiona gave us a lot of, um, stories about the area we were in near these castles and these Abbies. And it was, it was quite lovely. It was very, very nice way to start things off.
Corinna Bellizzi: So where are you specifically? Are you in Dublin?
Rhonda Penders: I’m outside Galway. So Galway is three hours from Dublin. So we flew into Dublin or I did.
And then you took a bus, a luxury coach type bus out to Galway. And then in Galway, proper the hotel we’re staying at is 40 minutes away from there. So we’re kind of in this little, tiny little village. It’s so quaint that, and you’ll, you’ll have to see the picture, the posts in the parking lot, where like you put your car.
You don’t wanna hit it. They have crocheted tops for these posts. Like, could you not the are covered in CRO shade, like top so that you don’t bump your car into the metal? Wow.
Corinna Bellizzi: That reminds me of the seventies a little bit. Like everything was macro may you know?
Rhonda Penders: Yes, yes, yes.
Julie Lokun: But it’s just inspiration for creativity.
Mm-hmm is amazing. And I really honestly didn’t realize I do. Of course I’m not amazed, but these writing tours and. Did you come up with this idea or you’re doing this under the wild rose under the umbrella?
Rhonda Penders: So, yeah. So last year I, I was very fortunate and I did one in Santa Reini Greece. And so when I was there in Santa Reini, this lady, this coordinator contacted me and said, would you like to do Ireland next year?
And of course, That’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. And I said, yes. So I’ve done two, which have been phenomenal, you know, getting to go to Santa Reini last fall, and then Ireland this year. But you know, we work hard at them because you’re, you’re literally on, you’re here with these folks from the minute you land until the minute you leave.
And other than tonight, when you’re, you know, you’re in your bedroom, you’re in your hotel room, you’re on with these authors, you know, the whole time writing, talking, writing, you know, answering questions, doing what you can.
Julie Lokun: Are these all your published authors or are they just, anybody can join? This
Rhonda Penders: particular group happens to all, except for two are my published authors.
When this Ireland trip came up and I put it out there that I, it was invited to do this who wanted to come. I put it out to my authors first. And, and so they kind of filled it up. There was only 12 allowed to come. So what
Corinna Bellizzi: can these individuals expect to learn from this multi-day trip? I mean, you’ve been on one of these
Rhonda Penders: before.
Well, the cool thing I think that we learned today, we did like a kickoff workshop. It was just a little hour exercise. And what I did was I had a bag full of, I actually have it here of random items. That I brought from home and we had things like a bracelet and I had a little rock and I had a nail and I had a penny and I had, there was like 15 things, just random, crazy things.
And they had to write a story in 15 minutes or start a story about five of the objects. They had to pick five and write the story. So, you know, some people took the rock and the nail and, and the, I hit earplugs in there and a couple of other things. And they wrote and they wrote, and they wrote, and then after 15 minutes they shared their stories.
And then after they shared, and we talked a little bit about what they wrote, Samantha kind of told them how she would market it. So we had this exercise that got the creative juices flowing in kind of a random way. They were probably writing outside their usual genre because they were using these objects.
And then Sam showed ’em how easy it is to just throw that into a, a social media post while they were there. So that really kind of kicked things off that way.
Corinna Bellizzi: So they were able to write about the experience of doing this. Simple exercise. It was really kind of a, a creative and branding exercise, almost all in one.
Rhonda Penders: Exactly. Just to kinda kick things off because today was really a tour day where we really didn’t do a lot else with writing. It was all about seeing the area and then tomorrow we’re gonna be here in the hotel all day, just doing workshops and. Writing. And I, I meet one on one with each of the attendees this week for half an hour each to talk about whatever they wanna talk about.
And Samantha also will meet with them to talk about marketing. So we’ve got all that planned. And so tomorrow’s a full on all day conference day.
Corinna Bellizzi: Hmm. Well, that sounds really exciting. What are you most looking forward to over the course of the.
Rhonda Penders: I think that for me, on a personal note, seeing Ireland has just been on my bucket list for a very long time.
So the chance to be here with writers and experience it through with them, I think is really cool. And I think I told you, you guys last week at the end of my. Workshops at the end of this week on Sunday, my family’s coming over, so we’re gonna stay on another week in vacation. So that for me personally is very cool, but also some of these women, some of these, and I have one gentleman here from the UK, one of my authors, but being with these writers who I’ve known for many, many years, there’s a comfort level.
They’re not brand new people. I just met for the most part. I know them. So. It’s like, mm. Being with your best friends for a whole week, sometimes, you know, and just hanging out and, you know, drinking wine in bar or, or having chocolate bars across the street. It’s just, it’s good. It’s just good. Feel good stuff.
Corinna Bellizzi: Well, it sounds like a blast. I haven’t taken an all girls trip in some time and that sounds like that should be it. Maybe we need to do this Jules.
Julie Lokun: Yeah. Yes. I was just thinking what a life you’re living, Rhonda, what a life you’re living fact that you get to go hang out with your besties in Ireland. I know drinking wine, eating chocolate, writing touring.
I don’t know how life gets better. And then your kids are.
Rhonda Penders: Yep. I’m truly, truly blessed. And don’t think, I don’t know that I am truly blessed to be here doing this. I do well today, I will say today, I was standing next to one, one of my good friends, Ruth Ruth Weeks, who writes for me, we were overlooking a field of sheep.
Like, couldn’t get much more Irish. And I said to Ruthie, I said, can you believe we’re in Ireland? And she says, I can’t believe it. I said, neither can I, this is amazing. So it’s just one of those moments, you know, where you do say, oh my God, I’m in Ireland.
Corinna Bellizzi: Now, do you have plans to drive to the Northern Ireland territory or going over to the other
Rhonda Penders: coast?
We’re pretty much staying here in Galway area. When my family gets here, we’re going to go to Colarney, which is a couple hours from here and then onto Dublin. So we’re gonna do a couple different towns, but Northern Ireland is just a little bit too far for the six or seven days that they’re here, but who knows?
Maybe that just means I have to come back. well, maybe
Corinna Bellizzi: next time we’ll come with. That
Rhonda Penders: would be awesome.
Julie Lokun: Yeah. And we’re gonna do your podcast in Ireland, the episode that would be awesome. Live on site. There’ll be so much powerful creativity going on. You know, when you’re taken out of your comfort zone, when you’re in the definitely new space around new energy, what are the.
Outcomes that you’re hoping for, for each of these authors here?
Rhonda Penders: Well, I think the really cool thing is what you were touching on is when you get the ability or the, the opportunity to go somewhere for a length of time where it’s all about writing, you know, you’re not trying to squeeze it in your day.
You’re not trying to write before the kids get up or do it after they go to bed or. Or, you know, after your job, you’re here for the sole purpose of feeding your craft and your soul, and just writing and learning, writing, and talking to writers about their writing and it’s writing, writing, writing, and it’s, it’s just the best.
Corinna Bellizzi: Hmm. So I really wish I was
Rhonda Penders: there. we would have so much fun. I wish you guys were here
Julie Lokun: too. We’d get in a lot of trouble. Let’s be
Rhonda Penders: honest, right? Yeah. I think, well, you know, we’re in this tiny little hotel, there’s only 16 rooms here. It’s very, very quiet. In this little village, almost like a, well, yeah, it, it is actually a hotel though.
They have a wonderful restaurant, but it’s very small and it’s very, it’s not a chain. It’s very, very quaint and it’s, it’s nice. It’s very nice.
Corinna Bellizzi: Well, I loved the places I stayed in Ireland. I found that it was a beautiful place to get lost because mm-hmm , I went from England where it seems like there was more signs than you could ever want to look at.
And then you go to Ireland and it’s like, where are the street signs they’re overgrown with vines? Like you can’t necessarily see them. And people say, well, that’s part of the joy of being lost in Ireland. I mean, So anyway, if you want some tips about some spots to visit granted, this is from about 17 years ago now, but, um, I did enjoy a few towns more than I expected and found just some little hidden gems here and there that I think you’d love.
So happy to chat with you about that
Rhonda Penders: Northern park Corrina, or were you in the Republic?
Corinna Bellizzi: I think as far north, as we got was Drogheda. So, and it’s a very difficult to, uh, spell word and we could not pronounce it. Right. I ended up getting sick there. So we were like finding a hotel so I could go be on my little sick cell for a little bit.
Mm. Sounds familiar. But it was a beautiful space. I know I got COVID at PodFest, but. Anyway. Oh, it was, it was a beautiful town to even just be in for a couple of days. But, um, our rental car wouldn’t cover anything if we made it to Northern Ireland. So we had to make the choice not to push further. Yeah.
That’s just the way
Rhonda Penders: it’s very, um, interesting. The division, you know, it’s a true division between the Northern Ireland and Republican of Ireland, Republican of Ireland.
Corinna Bellizzi: Mm-hmm mm-hmm
Rhonda Penders: so that’s right. But we went to a little town. Do you know where the, what? The quiet man, the movie, the quiet man with, um, yes.
Julie Lokun: John Wayne
Rhonda Penders: So we went to the town where it was filmed today. It was filmed right near here with Marino O’Hara and John Wayne. This little town is pretty much a homage to that movie. Like all the pubs are named after a character in the film, and there’s a big statue of John Wayne and Marin O’Hara in the middle of the square.
It was really quite interesting. Uh, I haven’t seen the movie in decades, but now I wanna go watch it again to see, because I was at these places.
Corinna Bellizzi: are you by any chance making it over to Scotland while you’re, um, in the British Isles?
Rhonda Penders: No. Okay. Just, I’m only gonna be
Corinna Bellizzi: in Ireland. Yeah, I had to ask just because when, uh, we happened upon the castle and Dunblane in Scotland, um, okay.
We discovered after we were there, we were like, gosh, this place looks really familiar. Why does it look so familiar? So much of this tiny little castle looks familiar. It was the castle featured in Monty Pythons’, Holy Grail.
Julie Lokun: Oh, I was thinking Brave Heart.
Corinna Bellizzi: Oh, no, that was the Sterling castle, but no in Dunblane, which is not far from, um, From Sterling, it’s called Doune castle.
It’s D O U N E I think anyway. Um, so we were there and it wasn’t until we were in the gift shop that it all came together because everything was paraphernalia from the holy grail. wow. That’s an non. Yeah, it was pretty fun. um, anyway, I have a question that relates to going to these sort of writing retreats, because I think, you know, there are some often that are much closer to home than traveling half away across the world.
Um, and I think sometimes people, as they’re writing, as they’re going through their creative process, they, they come to a point where they’re just not quite sure what to do next with the story. And we term that writer’s block or whatever you wanna call it. But I wonder if for you. This experience of going on a writer’s retreat really helps you push through that.
Like, are you seeing yourself go over any of these hurdles or do you, what do you have to say about writer’s?
Rhonda Penders: So we’re actually gonna do a mini workshop on that this week, too, to try to talk about what are some of the things you can do to get through it. And what I’m hoping to get outta that workshop is the sharing.
I hope that the authors can share with one another. Yes, I, this is what I did, or this works for me or, or some of that. So I think that the biggest thing is you are again, and I keep saying it, but you’re with your people, right. You know, we, we live in a world where we’re with other teachers or we’re with you.
The grocery store clerks or our family. We’re not with other writers all day. And when you’re with other writers who speak your, your language, it’s just such a inspiration. I don’t think anybody could get writers block after coming off of a conference or a retreat. And I don’t care if the retreat’s in Detroit, when you’re immersed in writing all day for two, three days a week, it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you’re with other writers.
Julie Lokun: Nobody understands that flow state. I just, you know, that point where you’re at self actualization. I mean, nobody, at least in my ecosystem understands that when you’re just like, it’s just flowing right out of you and you can’t explain where it’s coming from. Yeah. It’s an, it’s a magical place to be, but a lot it is of people don’t understand.
So when you can connect with those kind of people, Magic.
Rhonda Penders: Well, and when you connect with people that speak your language, when they talk, you could talk about character development and you can talk about, you know, I’m having trouble with this pacing or I’m having trouble with, you know, too much dialogue N normal people in our world don’t know what the heck that means, but writers know.
Julie Lokun: And everyone’s probably a lot more supportive and a lot nicer when they’re in Ireland. Seriously. I’m not kidding when you’re out of your own space and you don’t have those stressors or work and da, da, da. Yeah. Everyone is just zoned and focused into uplifting each other. And we rise by lifting, lifting others.
It’s brilliant genius. Yep.
Corinna Bellizzi: And the grain doesn’t hurt. How many times has it rained since you’ve been there?
Rhonda Penders: You know, it hasn’t yet. I know it hasn’t today was beautiful. It was actually a hit 70. We were a little warm on the bus. Wow. But I don’t think that the weather’s gonna be the same all week, but, you know, we came prepared.
I, I brought, you know, kind of like fall clothes for, for New York, you know, your, your jeans and a sweatshirt and a brain jacket and we’re ready.
Corinna Bellizzi: Yeah. Well, I just, I love it there. When it rains. Um, you said you went looking for ferry, it feels like they’re everywhere. So, yes.
Rhonda Penders: Yeah, really incredible. Just listen.
The, uh, coordinator Fiona, she’s a brilliant storyteller. And last night at the after dinner. She said, could I tell a Celtic, bedtime story? And I said, sure. And she wove this tale and she had everybody in thrilled, you know, the bro, first of all, the, the accent just gets you. And then she told this story about a fairy woman and a man.
And it was just, it was just magical. And we were all sitting there listening. Like we didn’t want her to stop talking. Oh, wow. Yep. She was wonderful.
Julie Lokun: I just have to ask you, is it sell-tic or kel-tic?
Corinna Bellizzi: Because I don’t know. It’s Celtic with a K sound.
Rhonda Penders: Yeah. Celtic
Corinna Bellizzi: Football, basketball team, right. yeah. And they love I’m obviously into sports, right?
Julie Lokun: I love that. Well, what an adventure and writing is an adventure. It is writing is an adventure and. The wild rose press offers an opportunity like this is amazing. And just from all I intents and purposes, I’ve heard that you guys really nurture your writers. You understand?
It’s more, it’s more than just pen to paper. It’s more than the bottom line, although that’s helpful, but it’s about the people that you are affecting. It’s about the relationships you’re building with your authors. And I can’t imagine a better place to do it.
Rhonda Penders: And I saw wild Irish roses today.
Julie Lokun: Wow. Oh, did you get a picture?
Rhonda Penders: Yeah, of course. Of course. Get a picture.
Corinna Bellizzi: I can’t imagine very many publishers are taking their authors on tours like this. I mean it granted of course they have to pay their way, but yeah. Right, right. I, I can’t imagine that there are that many out there that take this kind of attention and care to their, their author base.
So I think that’s commendable. That’s really awesome of Yoon.
Rhonda Penders: Well, we’re all part of the same, same, uh, journey. You know, we all wanna publish the book
Julie Lokun: I just feel like I want to ask you because you’re an author, you’re a publisher. How can you evoke the smell? The feel, the palpable sensory overload you have.
They’re in Ireland. Like I wanna feel that, smell it, taste that. No, just how would you, how would you do that? Just cuz I wanna feel like I’m in Ireland right now.
Rhonda Penders: That was part of our journey today in, in the forest is trying to absorb all of that from nature and take it with us so that when we go to set pen to paper, that the words will come.
Like you said, sometimes it’s just magic and they flow and you remember being in the forest and you remember the smells of the, of the mossy land and the. Um, you know, the, even the bugs, you know, biting you, cuz you’re in the woods, all that kind of stuff that you, you can hopefully bring out of you back into the, into your book.
Corinna Bellizzi: Yeah. Take some little video snips so you can revisit it, you know? Oh, the
Julie Lokun: crunch of the twigs beneath your feet and the baling, Brooke, the soothing sound of the birds. I don’t even know, but I, I just am trying to picture it right now. I’m not in Ireland. It’s
Rhonda Penders: so green. It was so very green. And, you know, the, the span, I call it Spanish MOS.
I don’t know if it was Irish Moss off, hanging off the trees and just the, uh, rusting of the leaves. It really was just quite peaceful for two, for two kilometers, we walked mm-hmm and, uh, you know, the coordinator had said, I’d really like it. If you walked in silence and just took it in, instead of, you know, talking amongst, which is hard for us women, right.
There’s 12 of us women together. Tell us not to talk to each other, but it was, it was nice to walk and just, just take it all in, just take it all in.
Corinna Bellizzi: What surprises have you encountered thus far? And I know this is early. I might need to ask you at the close of
Rhonda Penders: your trip. Well, you know, anytime you travel to a different country, there’s surprises, they do things different.
You know, they, they just do, even just here in my room this morning, trying to, they, they have a Ketle of hot of water that you can heat up for your instant coffee. I couldn’t get the ke to work. I couldn’t get it to work. And then I realized you have to turn. The switch on the wall on to get the plug to work.
So it’s just little things that are just different and you’re like, Ugh, you know, just,
Corinna Bellizzi: well, one of the things I had in a lot of hotel rooms in Europe is you had to have a key card that you inserted into something so that your power would work even in your room. Yes. And it was one of the ways that they would regulate, like you left on a bunch of appliances or something.
You just couldn’t do that. Right. Mm-hmm so it’s a
Rhonda Penders: different thing. Exactly. . Yeah. Yeah. They’re definitely more aware of energy conservation in Europe than we are in the states where they, they, they try really hard to, like you said, control it. Mm-hmm
Julie Lokun: yeah. And you can’t control anything. Can you, you can’t control the free flow of thought and creativity.
And if you are not creative on a trip with Rhonda Penns in Ireland, There’s there’s really no help for you.
Rhonda Penders: you can unlock your, your inner muse when you’re in Ireland. I don’t know what, where you can.
Corinna Bellizzi: Wow. Is there a particular book or a character you’re trying to flesh out
Rhonda Penders: while you’re there? Me personally, probably not.
I, you know, I think we’ve talked about that before. How there’s just no time for me to write anymore. Mm-hmm but I have to admit that when you’re blah, blah,
Julie Lokun: blah. She’s gonna write another book.
Rhonda Penders: know she is when , when you’re here, it’s hard not to let the writer part of your brain. Like when I was doing the exercise with them, with the objects, you know, in my head, I was writing the story with them.
I was writing my own version and you know, it’s hard not to do that. Cuz you’re a writer at heart. You’re a writer. You’re never gonna be a writer. I love
Julie Lokun: that. And I guess my biggest burning question, and it’s not a question it’s just kind of understanding the dynamics of having the big boss on the trip.
Do you feel like you’re the principal and everybody wants to like be around Rhonda talk to Rhonda pick Rhonda’s brain or is this more collaborative? Like, you know, oh, like, look at Karina she’s around Rhonda again, asking her questions. But her next book.
Rhonda Penders: I think the hard thing for me is because I’m so used to being in charge that, you know, Fiona is really in charge.
She is leading the tour. She has put it together. I’m here invited by her. It’s really difficult for me not to take over. And so I’m trying to do that step back when I shouldn’t be stepping forward and. It’s out of my natural rhythm. So I’m really trying to not take over from her and let her run the show until it’s my turn to be there, to my turn to speak.
Um, but we’re having a lot of fun and I’m, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m trying to being pretty good about not always being the boss. Right.
Julie Lokun: Well, it’s nice to take that pressure off for a little bit and just enjoy yourself and be sure intentional and just soak in everything that is Ireland. And I know this is going to manifest somehow somewhere you, you’re not gonna be able to hold it in as I’m sure your 12 other authors will not be able to hold it in.
It will. You’ll be seeing it on the pages of many books in the wild rose press. My gosh. So do you think Rhonda remembers our. New correspondent from, from Ireland. Do you think she remembers what we do at the end of every episode? Karina,
Corinna Bellizzi: the two words that she’s supposed to.
Julie Lokun: and can you say it in Gaelic?
Rhonda Penders: oh, please. That’s asking a lot, like I learned Gaelic in 24 hours. I know. I
Corinna Bellizzi: thought you just absorbed it by osmosis, walking through those beautiful
Julie Lokun: Karina would’ve Karina would know it by heart now. That’s that’s,
Rhonda Penders: you know, it’s and they, this spelling of, of words, trying to even figure out how to pronounce it is is, is really tough.
I, I don’t know. It’s beautiful when you hear it spoken, but to see it written, it’s very tough to, to understand what it is.
Corinna Bellizzi: Yeah. Like the town, that one I struggle with – Drogheda.
Rhonda Penders: It’s lovely here.
Julie Lokun: We’re gonna, we’re gonna kick it in just a second, but Rhonda, next year, please let Karina, and I know where you’re going on your writing journey and we’ll bring all the media casters along at least through our podcast, but also with you. That would be great.
Rhonda Penders: And. My next exciting conference is Seattle in September 24th for the Pacific Northwest writers PC and something Pacific Northwest. Right.
Corinna Bellizzi: Beautiful area. Beautiful time of year to be in Seattle. You picked it. Yep. Sounds a great time year to be there. I love it. You’ll get a lot of sun. I know people say it rains all the time in Seattle, but that’s not really true.
Rhonda Penders: it’s just absolutely beautiful. Good, good.
Julie Lokun: Well, we know you wanna tuck yourself in, have a Pint of Guinness and a sip of Baileys. And you know, it is, there’s a big time difference. We adore ourselves, Rhonda Penners and this episode was rather clean in language.
So children, he may come into the room, children come back in,
Corinna Bellizzi: we play well, they can also go back and listen to our earlier episode with Rhonda when it was exactly a PG, uh, conversation. Let’s put it that way.
Julie Lokun: Yeah. Go check out RH. Last episode on the media caster. .
Rhonda Penders: It’s
Julie Lokun: fine. We’re good. We love it. Love it.
But let’s say kick it, Rhonda.
Rhonda Penders: Okay. Kick it. Love it. You guys have a great time.
Julie Lokun: I love it. Thank you. Thank you so much. You get some sleep and amazing. Thank you for being our first official international correspondent. So international
Rhonda Penders: first. Love it.
Corinna Bellizzi: It’s a new title for Rhonda Penders!