PrairieDogElaine Miller Bond spent 3 months photographing prairie dogs at Bryce Canyon a few years back, and now she has a new book The Utah Prairie Dog: Life Among the Red Rocks (written by Theodore Manno and photographed by Elaine) to show for it.

Elaine has a lovely message to go along with her book launch announcement: “One thing that impressed me most about working with prairie dogs was their sense of community. They bark at danger to protect one another. They nurse babies from other moms. They kiss. Thank you for being a part of my community. May your own dreams come true this holiday season.”

SanFranciscoSeen any good books lately? A book trailer is a short video posted on the Internet designed to help authors sell their work; PictureYourBook helps authors by creating short, effective, economical trailers.

Here are a couple of samples: With original music, photos and illustrations from the book, the charming trailer for Chronicles of Old San Francisco tells what this book of historical tales and walking tours is all about. And the Cut by Cut book trailer takes you into the world of entertainment and examines the art of film editing.

Both of the above books—as well as the trailers—are by Gael Chandler, author and film editor.

May 6, 2015toMay 16, 2015

Karnow-workshopAn invitation from National Geographic Traveler photographer Catherine Karnow:

Dear Friends,

I am thrilled to announce my 2015 Catherine Karnow Photo Workshop in Umbria, Italy. This workshop is open for enrollment, with early registration discounts available through December 20, 2014.

This workshop will be what it is like to be me, Catherine Karnow, on assignment for my favorite travel magazine clients, such as National Geographic Traveler. I have handpicked the

December 6, 2014
10:00 amto4:00 pm

All the world is a stage, and so is the narrative that frames your characters. Whether it’s poetry, fiction, or creative non-fiction, a well-conveyed sense of place is key. Jump on a magic carpet to other places and times with Linda Watanabe McFerrin in this one-day workshop.

When: Saturday, December 6, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Boulevard, Corte Madera, CA
How:  Register here  ($120)

Women-on-the-RoadWomen on the Road’s Voluntourism page points out some of the potential pitfalls of volunteering (you may be making people less self-sufficient, or exacerbating disharmony in a community, or taking jobs away from locals).

It also provides ten questions to help you sort through the many voluntourism options so you can choose one that’s a good fit for you—and a real help for the people you’re working with.

BBC AcademyThe Freelancer from Contently offers this list of six places journalists can get free online training. My favorite? The BBC Academy provides detailed information meant to help develop skills in areas like investigative journalism and interviewing.

RefreshHere’s CNN’s list of 9 apps every business traveler needs. It includes such entries as the handy Mynd Calendar, a free iPhone app that syncs with real-time traffic data to calculate drive times. Also on the list: the very scary Refresh, also free, which pulls info from various social media sites to provide tidbits about colleagues, such as whether they recently took a big trip or bought a new car.

XOO-beltLooking for the perfect gift for the traveler who already has almost everything? Here you go. It’s multipurpose, for packing efficiency. Its clean design works with most sartorial preferences. It charges your phone with a hidden micro-USB cable. (A 1,300mAh lithium ceramic polymer flexible battery is sandwiched between the two layers of leather, with an 800mAH battery residing comfortably in the buckle.) And it holds up your pants. It’s the The Xoo Belt, made by the British company that successfully crowdfunded the MiniDrive (goal: $11K; actual pledges: $384K).

LiteraryRejectionsIf you’re submitting work, you’re getting rejections, and the website Literary Rejections contains just the inspiration you need to keep going. Here are some examples:

  • After 5 years of continual rejection, the writer finally lands a publishing deal: Agatha Christie. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has sold more.
  • “Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.” A rejection letter sent to Dr Seuss. 300 million sales and the 9th best-selling fiction author of all time.
  • 140 rejections stating “Anthologies don’t sell” until the Chicken Soup for the Soul series by Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen sells 125 million copies.

This is only marginally related to travel (it contains the phrase driver’s license), but most of my readers love the kind of word play that drives this joke.

A mother is driving her little girl to her friend’s house for a playdate. “Mummy,” the little girl asks, “how old are you?”

“Honey, you are not supposed to ask a lady her age,” the mother replied. “It’s not polite.”

“OK,” the little girl says, “What colour was your hair 2 years ago?”

“Now really,” the mother says, “those are personal questions and are really none of your business.”

September 21, 2014

SolasAwardsThe Solas Awards are an annual competition to find the best writing being done about the world today. Travelers’ Tales editors choose winners in 21 categories ranging from adventure to humor, from destination to memoir, and everything in between. The grand prize category has cash awards of $1,000, $750, and $500; all other category winners receive an awards certificate. Plus, winners may be published in Travelers’ Tales books. Check out BestTravelWriting.com for previous winners, submission guidelines, details of the awards and more.

From Jeff Greenwald, Executive Director of Ethical Traveler:

Friends and fellow travelers! As you may already know, the non-profit I co-created in 2003 — Ethical Traveler — has been offering some great trips to Cuba. This year, we’re expanding to include fascinating, enlightening journeys to Costa Rica and Panama as well. Cuba will be in the Spring of 2015, and I’ll send a longer message about that one later in the year (but it’s not too early to sign up!). I’ll be leading the Panama trip, too. So climb on board! Our trips are small, inexpensive, eye-opening and really, really

September 24, 2014
7:00 pmto9:00 pm

Sex-Mishaps-Sept24

The first of three Titans of Travel events, Sex, Mishaps, and Adventure debuts on September 24th at the Mill Valley Library. Free; advance registration is recommended.

ZoziWriters Guidelines are here.

Someone once said we’re in the “memory making business”—we like that. We’re not about “escapes” and “getaways.” We’re about inspiring our readers to embrace life—preferably in a giant bear hug. From Everest Base Camp adventures to local cooking classes to tips on how to put on a wetsuit without looking like an idiot, we help people get away from their computers and out exploring the world.

October 8, 2014
7:00 pmto9:00 pm

Should-Stay-Oct8Ever get the feeling you should have stayed home? You’ll be in good company at the October 8 Titans of Travel event at the Mill Valley Public Library. Free; advance registration is recommended.

LitQuake 2014

September 18, 2014 | Leave a Comment

LitQuake2014Tickets are on sale for LitQuake 2014. This year’s schedule celebrates the 15th anniversary with more than 900 writers, featuring such literary talents as Nicholson Baker, Po Bronson (What Should I Do With My Life), Cara Black (Murder in the Marias), Novella Carpenter (Farm City), Katie Crouch (Girls in Trucks),Emma Donoghue (Room), Andrew Sean Greer (The Impossible Lives of Gretta Wells), Daniel Handler (Why We Broke Up), Adam Johnson (The Orphan Master’s Son), Edan Lepucki (California), Yiyun Li (Kinder Than Solitude), Marc Maron (Attempting Normal), Rosie Schaap (Drinking with Men), Rebecca Solnit (Men Explain Things to Me), Ellen Sussman (A Wedding in Provence), and more!

October 21, 2014
7:00 pmto9:00 pm

WeekdayWanderlustThe next Weekday Wanderlust will be on October 21. Readings start promptly at 7 p.m., but a group of thirsty travelers can always be found in the Hotel Rex’s Library Bar at 6 p.m. Come early, snag a seat, and say hello. Emcee for the evening is, as usual, the charming and peripatetic Don George.

October 22, 2014
7:00 pmto9:00 pm

AdventureStories-Oct22Aching for adventure? Don’t miss the October 22nd Titans of Travel event at the Mill Valley Public Library. Free; advance registration is recommended.

October 18, 2014
10:00 amto2:00 pm
BATW-SepcialEventBay Area Travel Writers presents an event open to the public from 10:00 to 2:00 on Saturday, Oct 18, 2014. Money: Making It in Travel Journalism will include a keynote talk from Kim Grant, focused roundtables on various topics, lunch, and a tour of the deYoung Museum. The modest fee for all that is just $16 for BATW members, or $25 for non-members.
Kim Grant is a:

  • Travel acquisitions editor for travel apps & book publisher
  • Travel journalist and the author of 45 travel guides
  • New media consultant, website strategist, and photographer

Wilmer and King 450Join us on Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, the Lowell Thomas Award winning podcast featured weekly on NPR.org. Tom visits with me (your humble editor, Laurie McAndish King, also a Lowell Thomas gold award winner) as I talk about my new book, Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive and read selected passages—including ones about being eaten alive by leeches, taste-testing the world’s most expensive coffee, and undergoing an unusual healing experience in Bali.

Afterwards, Tom showed me how he edited out my ums and uhs, clipped out dead air space, adjusted the volume (I was trying to eat the mike), added killer background music, and worked other magic to make me sound pretty darned good. Now I’m hooked on audio production.

From , here are ten tips. “With just a little time and preparation, you can ensure your house is safe and sound while you are basking on the beach or exploring hillside castles.” One I hadn’t thought of involves adjusting your land-line phone.

“And most of all, don’t broadcast across social media that you are away. We all love to see those photos, but wait until you are back to post them. Unscrupulous thieves can pick off vacationing home owners by trolling through social media sites.”

ExpeditionGrantedRemember the National Geographic Expedition Granted contest? Submissions are in, and the public is invited to vote (up until September 29) to decide which project will win the $50,000 grant. There’s a wide range to choose from, including:

  • Bringing bio-toilets to areas in need, to improve health and foster local businesses.
  • Encouraging Americans to share bone marrow in a quest to change outcomes for people with cancer.
  • Improving educational opportunities for girls around the world.
  • Mapping a volcanic conduit system with a wall-climbing robot.
  • Unlocking the secrets of bioluminescence to further research in technology and medicine.

God Save the Queen

September 15, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Love those Brits! Here’s a musical commercial for the Mini auto.

September 19, 2014toSeptember 20, 2014
Oktobrofesto enirejo (Creative Commons)

Oktobrofesto enirejo (Creative Commons)

In a special for USA Today Travel, Sharon McDonnell tells us where to celebrate Octoberfest around the U.S. and in San Francisco, where “Munich brewery Spaten presents this festival on September 19-21. A 21-piece Bavarian band from Chico and the Deutscher Musikverein of the Bay Area will entertain, and exhibits on the Bay Area’s German history will be displayed.”

Here’s a list of favorite travel resources from Michelle Peng at Educatorlabs, a group of volunteer web resource curators specializing in education.

US Customs & Border Patrol

Find a Doctor While Traveling in the U.S.

UN Women — dedicated to gender equality

The Medical Volunteer’s Guide to Overseas Travel

Air Travel Tips — from the U.S. DoT

Medicare for Travelers Outside the United States

Travel and Tourism Sites for U.S. States and Territories

National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Park Pass for Seniors

Find a Touring Broadway Show


  • Upcoming Events

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  • My Book is Now Available …

    Lost Kidnapped Eaten Alive!And it's getting rave reviews! Order your copy of Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive at Book Passage, and I'll be happy to sign it. You can also sign up for my mailing list for occasional updates about readings and events.
  • The San Francisco Waterfront App

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    Full of fascinating info and insights— and with a 5-star rating on iTunes— the San Francisco Waterfront mobile app is still just $2.99. It's perfect for visitors, and SF natives love it, too.