Guest Blog by Nancy Brown: The Book Passage Travel Writers & Photograpers Conference – A Review.

“Writing is like love making,” shared author Isabel Allende. “You find a place to do it; on a desk, behind a door.” Playing off her banter, The Great Tree of Avalon author T.A. Baron adds that writing begins with the senses. “Our job as writers is to change the world.”

Allende and Baron were two of the many writers who joined us at the 16th Annual Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference held August 16-19, 2007 in Corte Madera, California. From sunup to sundown we were writing ledes, creating the perfect nutgraf and searching for a sense of place while dining al fresco on California cuisine.

Morning sessions found us in classroom settings with San Francisco Chronicle Travel Editor John Flinn, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel Travel Editor Thomas Swick and Los Angeles Times Deputy Travel Editor Vani Rangachar or reviewing photos with Robert Holmes among others.

World Hum’s Jim Benning, Vagabonding’s Rolf Potts and LA Times Travel Deal Detective Jen Leo slogged us through the Brave New World of Blogging. And while blogging may be the wave of the future, not everyone’s blog spot will be acquired by The Travel Channel.

One evening a tall thin man addressed our group of travel writers daring us to spin the mystery wheel. Each peg represented one of Jeff Grenwald’s wild adventures. One of the tales he shared was from Burning Man. It involved an unquenchable thirst for ice cold Horchata tea and a long, blue penis. I guess you had to be there.

Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, came in for a touch-and-go landing as he regaled us with airline stories. He noted that we live in a world of citizen journalism.

Conference alum Paola Gianturco delved into the ethics of mindful journalism for the greater global influence and offered her website as a resource.

There were many well known publishers and writers such as Larry Habegger and Amanda Jones and photographers like Mikkel Aaland to rub shoulders with. I hesitate to list them all for fear of name dropping. I will say that Conference Chair Don George has a wicked sense of humor and Book Passage Owner Elaine Petrocelli’s enthusiasm drives this thriving, independent bookstore.

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The conference reminded me of my journalism college days when students and faculty engaged in animated conversation about the craft of writing and photo journalism. Afternoon private tutoring sessions were available for the ambitious. And what university experience would be complete without an evening fraternity party with alcohol fueled karaoke?

If you fancy yourself a travel writer or photographer, you’ll want to note next year’s August 14-17, 2008 conference dates. Visit Book Passage for more information.


Guest blogger Nancy Brown of California writes What a Trip for the Lamorinda Sun.