Sunday, June 20, 2010

Top 5 Travel Memoirs

[EDITOR'S NOTE: July is all about travel writing for the Black Diamond Writers Network in honor of our speaker, professional travel writer Anne Supsic, so expect to see all kinds of posts related to the genre on Word Mine this month. Today, get inspired with some travel memoirs.]

Who wouldn’t want to escape from the everyday grind and experience a new environment, at least for a short time? But as you’ll see below, these memoirists subscribe to the philosophy of “Go big or go home”—these once-in-a-lifetime adventures were motivated by a feeling of wanderlust, restlessness, or just a desire to experience a completely different way of life. For many of these writers, their trips proved to be life-changing.

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. This classic memoir chronicles Hemingway's days as an expat living in Paris, where he hobnobbed with the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. Though published posthumously, the book offers a firsthand account of life in 1920's Paris and, as the cover says, "It is a literary feast, brilliantly evoking the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the youthful spirit, unbridled creativity, and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized."

Eat, Pray, Love: A Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. The ultimate record of one woman’s search for the meaning of life, love, and happiness has inspired millions of readers around the world to do the same (perhaps on a smaller scale). Okay, so taking a year off from life as you know it to travel to these exotic locales is probably not in your budget. You can always live vicariously through Ms. Gilbert, who ate her way across Italy, spent time in a yoga ashram in India (and would meet her spiritual mentor there), and jetted off to Indonesia for some time to make sense of it all.

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman. What starts off as a fun excursion with, yes, a bit of a dangerous edge for two college friends in Communist China turns into more of an international thriller chock full of spies, espionage, and paranoia about the ever-present Big Brother watching over the friends—at least, that’s what one of the girls seemed to think. A gripping read about how one friend (Gilman) was left to cope with her traveling companion’s rapidly declining mental state alone in a foreign Third-World (at the time) country.

Without Reservations: Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach. Steinbach, like many of the other authors included here, took a trip around the world in order to find herself. She was bothered by the fact that she was letting other people define her, when in fact she still felt like she was trying to define herself. So she packed her bags and left for Europe on a voyage of discovery, to learn more about the things that simply interested her--Paris, Oxford, England, and Milan, Italy.

The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda Pressner. Three twentysomethings with a rough idea of what they want their lives to look like. Trouble is, the path to get there is full of more questions than answers. Rather than follow a path that someone else has mapped out for them, the three friends take a year off from their jobs, relationships, and everyday lives and travel around the world hoping to find a sense of meaning and yes, some high adventures.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Interview with Mike Kaminski

At our June BDWN meeting, Michael B. Kaminski, publisher of WOMAN Magazine, will educate writers on how to write for a publication with a purpose, focusing on the creation, mission and purpose of his magazine. He will explain what he looks for in potential writers and what makes a good and a bad pitch.

WOMAN Magazine works to empower, enrich, enhance and enlighten all women with articles highlighting local women making a difference and changing lives. The publication is an extension of the Sharon Fisher Bassett Memorial Fund on community awareness of domestic violence, sexual abuse, eating disorders and basic equal rights for women.

Kaminski, creator and former publisher of The One Magazine to the arts and entertainment, holds a master’s degree in divinity/theology with a minor in psychology and undergrad degrees in political science and criminal justice. At present, he is writing children’s and historical fiction books. Mike chatted with us about his publication, his cause, and his wildly varied professional background.

BDWN: Thanks for speaking with us, Mike! You’ve worn a number of “hats” professionally. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the jobs you’ve held?

MIKE: Before beginning WOMAN magazine, I created another magazine. THE ONE Magazine of the Arts and Entertainment. I have been an ordained minister since 1989. After ordination, I worked in parish ministry full time for about a year and a half. Then I went to work with Northumberland County Human Services as a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist. After about a year and a half, I resigned and started my own counseling agency.

Prior to seminary, I had a private investigative agency in Baltimore for five years. Before the P I work, I was a police officer in Baltimore for six years. The last 3 and 1/2 years as a police officer I worked undercover in organized crime, narcotics and vice investigations.

I also worked for the Bureau of Customs in Washington, D.C. as a graphic art illustrator prior the becoming a police officer. However, my first real job was in the Air Force. That experience took me from Washington, D.C. to Southeast Asia and Vietnam.

BDWN: Can you tell us about the Sharon Fisher Bassett Memorial Fund? How does the Fund and WOMAN Magazine work together?

MIKE: I created The Sharon Fisher Bassett Memorial Fund shortly after my wife, Sharon, died in April of 2005. Originally, it was established to work with community education and awareness of domestic violence, sexual abuse and related eating disorders. Sharon has a very bad first marriage and she became very anorexic as a result of the psychological, mental, sexual and physical abuse. When I created WOMAN Magazine, I also expanded the mission and goals of the memorial fund to include gender bias and inequality, gender discrimination, cultural stereotyping of women of different races and sexism in the workplace. The primary goals of both the memorial fund and the magazine is to empower, encourage, enrich, enlighten all women. Please go to to learn more about the memorial fund. WOMAN Magazine is an extension of The Sharon Fisher Bassett Memorial Fund.

BDWN: Tell us about the kinds of stories best suited for WOMAN Magazine. Are you currently looking for writers?

MIKE: All articles and stories that go into the magazine are focused on empowerment, enrichment, enlightenment, encouragement, education and information to women. I am always looking for stories of women and by women who have succeeded in life and who have overcome obstacles. The articles and stories should be about local woman making a difference in their lives and in the lives of others. I am always looking for contributions by writers. However, I cannot pay writers at this time for their articles.

BDWN: What's next for you?

MIKE: I just finished the first draft of a children's book. I am beginning another book about my work as a chaplain of a gentlemen's club. Eventually, I will write a book about Sharon's story and incorporate most of the stories and interviews we have collected from the women in the past years who have talked to us about their healing from domestic violence and sexual abuse. Finally I will complete my book about my life undercover in organized crime and drug groups.