Publish date:

Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference

At lunch on the first day of the Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference, a writer ends up sitting next to a guidebook publisher. The writer asks why there’s never been a guidebook to Europe for beginners, and the publisher replies, “That’s a good idea. What would you put in it?” By the end of the conference, the writer has a contract to write—you guessed it—a guidebook to Europe for beginners. by Linda Formichelli

WHEN: August 14-17, 2008
WHERE: Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA 94925
PRICE: $635
FOR MORE INFO:
Conference Coordinator: Karen
West, (800)999-7909 ext. 238;
bookpassage.com

At lunch on the first day of the Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference, a writer ends up sitting next to a guidebook publisher. The writer asks why there’s never been a guidebook to Europe for beginners, and the publisher replies, “That’s a good idea. What would you put in it?” By the end of the conference, the writer has a contract to write—you guessed it—a guidebook to Europe for beginners.

“There are many success stories like this,” says Conference Chair Don George, a travel writer and editor who’s worked with the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon.com and Lonely Planet, and who edits the literary travel e-zine Recce.

The nexus of the Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference is the Book Passage bookstore in Corte Madera, Calif. This independent bookstore started out with a focus on travel, but has grown to include titles of all types. Much of the conference takes place at the bookstore itself, but spills over to a hotel that’s within walking distance of the store.

During the mornings, aspiring professional writers and photographers participate in intensive workshops, including guidebooks, travel photography, advanced newspaper writing and advanced magazine writing. The workshops’ formats vary: One workshop might consist of lectures by the instructor, while another might be more interactive, with students writing and critiquing each other’s work.

In the afternoons, students can attend panels and more workshops such as working with a book agent, photographing people and the business of travel photography. If you like, you can pick a mix of writing and photography workshops and panels. And this mingling can work to your advantage: “Sometimes photographers and writers team up and go on to collaborate on a story,” George says.

Presenters at the 2008 conference include John Flinn, executive travel editor of the San Francisco Chronicle; Pauline Frommer from Frommer’s travel guides; and representatives of the Lonely Planet travel guides. Keynote speakers include Tim Cahill, author of Jaguars Ripped My Flesh; Isabel Allende, author of Inés of My Soul; and Simon Winchester, author of A Crack in the Edge of the World. Conference organizers take the keynote speakers around to morning workshops to talk with the students and answer questions; every student should get a half-hour drop-in session with at least one author.

After evening presentations by the guests of honor, students can attend late-night informal sessions. “Faculty and students alike mingle informally on the piazza, sipping wine or beer or soft drinks and chatting about travel, travel writing and photography,” George says. “This is a tremendous opportunity for mentoring and storytelling alike, and some of my favorite memories are of listening to Jan Morris, Pico Iyer, Tony Wheeler and Peter Matthiessen spin tales of far-flung adventures. These moments are among the most memorable gifts of the conference.”

Miss the late-night informal sessions—and the chance to chat with your favorite author? Not to worry. The organizers encourage the speakers to hang out at the bookstore and chat with the students. “A lot of students tell me that’s life changing for them,” George says. “One huge value of the conference is the one-on-one contact with masters of the craft.” Whatever burning questions you have for the authors, they always respond generously and graciously.

“Throw caution to the wind and completely immerse yourself in the conference,” George says. “Take advantage of the fact that you have four days of intimate contact with the best writers and editors and publishers in the field. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about your questions and projects. Be as completely a part of the conference as you can be and you’ll be rewarded ten-fold.”

Your Story #115

Your Story #115

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 5 New WDU Course, A New Webinar, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce five new WDU courses, a new webinar, and more!

NaNoWriMo: Making the Most of Community

NaNoWriMo: Making the Most of Community

Books, much like children, sometimes take a village. Let managing editor and fellow WriMo participant Moriah Richard give you tips for engaging with your online and in-person NaNoWriMo community.

From Script

Film and TV Show Reviews and Writing What You Know (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, Script contributor Tom Stempel reviews the latest in film and television show releases, an exclusive interview with Lamb screenwriter Sjón, and much more!

Why We Should Read Middle Grade Fiction as Adults

Why We Should Read Middle Grade Fiction as Adults

Young Adult fiction has surpassed its own demographic by being acceptable to read at any age. Why have we left middle grade fiction out of that equation? Here’s why we should be reading middle grade fiction as adults and as writers.

What Are the 6 Different Types of Editing?

What Are the 6 Different Types of Editing?

When you reach the editing phase of your manuscript, it's important to know what kind of editing you're looking for in particular. Author Tiffany Yates breaks down the 6 different types of editing.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Imayo Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the imayo.

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Print or Online Article First Place Winner: "Surfacing an Aquatic Diaspora"

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Print or Online Article First Place Winner: "Surfacing an Aquatic Diaspora"

Congratulations to Elaine Howley, first place winner in the Print or Online Article category of the 90th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Here's her winning article, "Surfacing an Aquatic Diaspora."

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Script (Stage Play or TV/Movie) First Place Winner: "Jaguar Woman"

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Script (Stage Play or TV/Movie) First Place Winner: "Jaguar Woman"

Congratulations to Olga El, first place winner in the Script (Stage Play or TV/Movie) category of the 90th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Here's her winning TV Pilot script, "Jaguar Woman."