We Love Memoirs

This Week’s WLM Sunday Spotlight

Have you ever heard of a Facebook group? Maybe you’re part of one. There are all kinds of groups on Facebook made up of like-minded people sharing information on a gazillion topics from antique cars to zebra stripes. (I have’t looked up either but I’m sure they–or some likeness of these subjects–exist.)

We Love Memoirs Header this Week

For the past two weeks I’ve gleaned a ton of information and support from a FB group that’s all about covering very specific health issues for women. I’m also part of a couple of FB groups that highlight deals (and some doings) in Telluride, Colorado, where I’ve been living for fourteen years. My most lighthearted FB group of all, however, is WLM, or We Love Memoirs.

Victoria Twead

What a fun bunch of friends! Each time I pop in, my mood is uplifted by words and images from men and women that share a common bond: a love of memoirs. Over 4,200 strong, it’s populated with readers and writers of memoirs, firmly established authors, wannabes and fans. It’s all good because we all love memoirs.

Set up in 2013 by Victoria Twead and Alan Parks, two memoir authors that wanted to create a place where memoir-loving people could chat, exchange ideas and interact with each other. It’s a coffee klatch of sorts with one big common thread.

Alan Parks and One of His Many Alpacas

Victoria, New York Times bestselling author of Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools and the “Old Fools” series, checks in on a daily basis from her home in Australia. “Apart from producing my children, passing my driving test and hitting the New York Times bestseller list, co-creating We Love Memoirs is my proudest achievement,” she says. “It is a wonderful, caring community of readers and memoir authors, and every time I hear of another WLM meet-up somewhere in the world, I get a warm fuzzy glow.”

Indeed, WLM is often taken off the internet when WLM members get together with other members in person. Can you imagine having tea with someone in a faraway land that shares your passion and is connected to you by the same group of fun-loving memoir readers? It’s like being a part of the same tribe.

WLM cofounder Alan Parks, author of Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca? and the “Seriously Mum” series, calls Spain his home.

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French Village Diaries: Books, Cakes, French Life and More

Jacqui Brown

With ski season behind me, I suddenly have a voracious appetite for reading. I always want to read and to me, it’s one of the most relaxing and enjoyable activities in the world. But during ski season I’m exhausted in the evenings and tend to just zone out in front of the TV and then head to bed before there’s time for a leisurely read. (Also,  I often stay up late when engrossed in a good book and that certainly doesn’t gel with a ski instructor’s need for a long, fat sleep.)

Being the Francophile that I am, I love reading books set in France. Whether it’s Paris or the provinces, if the writing is rich, I relish being instantly transported to my beloved land. So you can only imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered Jaqui Brown’s charming website/blog, French Village Diaries. There you may delve into an abundance of book reviews on books relating to France and then shop in her online bookstore which features titles she has reviewed and more. Jacqui, a Brit that moved to France in 2004 with her British husband, scours the internet for the most interesting reads on her adopted country. That’s how she found my book, A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, and then wrote it up at French Village Diaries.

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8 Sep 2010, 5:03pm
Podcasts Travel Writing & Books:
Comments Off on Terrific Travel Advice from Everett Potter

Terrific Travel Advice from Everett Potter

Everett Potter:  The Guy in the Know When It Comes to Travel

Everett Potter: The Guy in the Know When It Comes to Travel

I recently did a Travel Fun interview with top travel writer, Everett Potter, and boy did we have fun trading stories about the travel world. Everett, a travel writer for over twenty-five years, may easily be considered one of the country’s foremost authorities on travel. He’s a regular contributor to many illustrious travel publications including Ski Magazine, Forbes Life and Travel & Leisure.  He launched an online newsletter and blog, Everett Potter’s Travel Report, a handful of years ago, a logical outgrowth to all the information he amasses from his freelance assignments.

So here we are—two bloggers that have been published in various outlets aside from the worldwide web. You’ve got to hear what we say about this new world of travel writing, a world largely dominated by the Internet where anyone can self publish their thoughts and opinions without the careful eye of an editor.  “A lot of the blogosphere has stories completely unedited, not fact checked,” Everett points out.  Facebook and Twitter are mentioned in the same breath as remarks about the constant changes of travel writing online and off.

We discuss TripAdvisor in far greater detail, weighing the pros and cons of this Internet phenomenon that often leaves hotel G.M.s and other hospitality industry heavyweights cringing with every other posting.  Of course many of the critiques ring legitimate, others not so much.  “There’s an awful lot of English people lamenting the fact that there’s not a tea kettle in their room,” Everett says.  I chuckle and sympathize with these complaints since being a tea drinker myself, it’s truly awful to make tea in a coffee pot.

Everett also talks about how and where to find the most value for your travel dollars, how to book hotels and flights, today’s lodging and airline cutbacks and much more. Don’t plan your next trip without listening to this interview!

I bet Everett would be tons of fun to be with on a trip, especially to a place such as England.  You can do just that September 26-October 3 on a Dartmoor to Exmoor Walk, a soft adventure walking tour, organized by The Wayfarers.  There are still some places left, but act fast!

You’ll find a wealth of stories on food and wine, culture, adventure travel and more at Everett’s blog.  There you can also toss your hat (or e-mail address) into the ring for a variety of contests he offers on a regular basis.  They’re downright giveaways, in fact, where you can snag a hotel stay, cruise and more.

Sit down with a good cup of tea or a glass of wine and listen to all that Everett and I have to say about today’s wonderful and crazy world of travel.  Click on the play button below to begin.

21 Oct 2008, 7:17pm

Tim Cahill: The Godfather of Travel Writing

Tim Canyoning in New Zealand

Tim Cahill Canyoning in New Zealand

When I asked renowned travel writer Tim Cahill how he came to be a writer specializing in travel during a recent Travel Fun interview, he answered with all the modesty of a hippo in the bush.  “I invented the job,” he said with a glint in his eye.  And indeed he did.  As one of the founders of Outside magazine, Tim Cahill changed the way a person could read about the great outdoors and adventure travel.  

He had worked two years at Rolling Stone in the mid Seventies when the editor approached him with the idea of creating a literate outdoor magazine.  “It was a simple concept,” Tim said.  But in those days outdoor magazines were more about hunting and fishing, slaying a ferocious wildebeest or how to prime your canoe for the upcoming season.  It was generally believed that avid readers of fine prose did not spend much time outdoors.

“We were made fun of by the journalism pundits,” Tim said.  “But we did the magazine that we wanted to read.”  And not long after their launch, the founders of Outside were proven right, especially after having received top awards in the publishing world many years in a row. 

“Outside really gave me my start,” Tim explained.  The folks at the magazine realized early on that getting the best ice climber to write a story didn’t produce the results they wanted.  Instead it was much better to have someone who could write well team up with the best ice climber and that person became Tim Cahill.  (Prior to Outside, Tim was one of those guys that would head out for a weekend of backpacking, but he was no big adventurer.)  “I was the inept rookie in the wilderness the first ten years,” Tim chuckled.

Tim’s spiral notebooks grew and it soon became clear that many of his magazine stories were destined to become books.  He told me he has written nine in all (but I found way more on Amazon and hence listed ten below).  And on their pages you can read some of the most descriptive and poignant tales of adventure travel ever written.  “An adventure story does not have to be a lot of gratuitous chest pounding,” Tim said.  “If you’re diving and you see a shark, there’s some wonder behind it.”  Tim wouldn’t conclude that story with a wielding pen knife and spewing blood and guts.  His work is much more refined; he’s in the business of telling compelling stories with finesse.

Tim and I traded tales about the writer’s life and the publishing world as we shared the microphone.  We were experiencing a classic KOTO happening, yet another improvisational moment in community radio since all of the extra mikes in the studio had been removed for a special event.  We had to get so close that we sidled up to each other like two lovers on a park bench.  That definitely helped to break the ice!  Tim Cahill no longer seemed like the untouchable travel writer God I had met several years ago at the Travel Writer’s Conference at Book Passage in California.  (He was surrounded by so many people that I was barely able to say hello to him then!)

Funnily enough when I asked Tim about his beginnings he told me that when he was young he thought “writers were somehow unattainable Gods”.  We both joked about how we found out that that was far from the truth.  

He was one of those kids that stayed up reading by flashlight late into the night.  Reading is always the best primer for a writer.  Tim graciously shared many other tips with me and I’m sure that as I attempt to implement them, I’ll be thinking about him and his dedication to the written word.  He did after all invent the travel writer job, you know.

Tim Surveying the External Landscape

Tim Surveying the External Landscape

Travel Writer Tips from Tim Cahill

-Take contemporaneous notes.  

-Write about the external landscape (what you see) and the internal landscape (what’s happening to you when you see it).   

-Bring home your notes and then try to write out complete sentences.

-Try to grab the reader around the first paragraph.  “I then give the best descriptions about why I was there and I tell stories that I hope will lead the reader to the same conclusion I came to when I was there,” Tim explained.

Tim regularly conducts writer’s workshops for the Yellowstone Association, 307-344-2293, www.yellowstoneassociation.org.

The Book Passage Travel Writer’s Conference takes place annually mid August at the main Book Passage Bookstore in Corte Madera, California; 800-999-7909, ext. 233, www.bookpassage.com.

Book Picks:  Tim Cahill’s books, some of which are listed below.

“Buried Dreams:  Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer”

“Jaguars Ripped My Flesh”

“A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg”

“Road Fever”

“Pecked to Death by Ducks”

“Pass the Butterworms:  Remote Journeys Oddly Remembered”


“Hold the Enlightenment”

“Lost in My Own Backyard:  A Walk in Yellowstone National Park”

“The Best American Travel Writing”

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