About the Writers

Nancy Alpert was born in Long Beach, CA and transplanted to the Bay Area to attend rival schools Stanford and Berkeley. She graduated with an MSW, worked twenty years as a geropsychiatric social worker, and launched the Senior Peer Counseling program in San Francisco. When her career and marriage ended almost simultaneously, Nancy turned to writing. This lifelong hobby—evidenced by umpteen journals and a high school poetry award—led to her first publishing credits, essays in Venturing in Italy: Travels in Puglia, Land between Two Seas (Traveler’s Tales) and Wandering in Costa Rica: Landscapes Lost and Found (Wanderland Writers.)

Along with essays and poetry, the children’s picture book world calls her, enthralls her, and (so far) has stalled her. Nancy has a bilingual following—she edits a weekly K-8 public school newsletter, Noticias, in San Francisco’s Mission District. Nancy spends time at home with her eleven-year-old daughter/editor; cats, Donut and Cupcake; dog, Latke; their edible namesakes; and an undisciplined Muse. She is always on the hunt for the best writing pen.

Adrienne Amundsen is a psychologist living in Northern California with her husband, and the mother of two great sons. Her interests have taken her from mountainous mustang terrain and the caves of France to the war zone in Afghanistan. She has taught classes in shamanism and cave art locally and internationally. Her poetry has been featured in a number of literary magazines, and she recently published a poetry collection, Cassandras Falling.

Christine Berardo left a rewarding career writing movies and mini-series for television to work on a novel in northern California where the roots to her writing began. She’s been writing poems, stories, song lyrics, and journals since childhood. Her poems and a short story were recently published in Redwood Writers anthologies Stolen Light and Sonoma Stories.

A native of San Francisco, Chris has lived in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Palo Alto and London. Work in film and television took her to far-flung parts of the world: Warsaw, Sydney, Manila, Cape Town, Halifax, Budapest, among others. Over the years she’s worn other hats, including public school teacher, piano teacher, political activist, community volunteer, wife, mother, grandmother. She now lives in Healdsburg with her husband and their collie, Homer.


Daphne Beyers grew up near Amish country in northeastern Pennsylvania, often finding herself caught in traffic behind wheel and buggy carriages. She’s lived many places including London, New York City, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Palm Springs. Daphne taught herself to program at the age of thirteen and works as a computer consultant for various Fortune 500 companies. Her essay, “Existential Cafe,” was published in an award-winning anthology of Parisian stories, Wandering in Paris: Luminaries and Love in the City of Light. 

Sandra Bracken made the first of many journeys alone to Peru where she walked the hills around Sacsayhuaman, photographed the stonework there and chartered a plane to fly over the lines at Nazca—all in the pursuit of art. She has a master’s degree in fine arts, taught drawing for twenty years and has exhibited sculpture and drawings in galleries and museums in the US.

Sandra collaborated on a collection of poems and collages, Meet Me at the Wayside Body Shop and produced a chapbook of poems, New Moon. Travel stories were included in Venturing in Ireland, Quest for the Modern Celtic Soul; Venturing in Italy: Puglia, Land Between two Seas; and Wandering in Costa Rica: Landscapes Lost and Found.  She lives in Maryland near her three children and five grandchildren. Sandra’s most recent travels have been to Argentina with her husband—in pursuit of fish.

Connie Burke left San Francisco, California, in 1979. She set out for her Ithaka, hoping to make her journey a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery. Settling in Athens, Greece, she taught English literature at the American College of Greece and the University of Maryland, European Division, Athens. Leaving academia, she co-founded Writers’ Workshops International and published popular travel literature with Travelers’ Tales, an imprint of Solas house. She is the co-editor of the travel series; Venturing in Southern Greece: the Vatika Odysseys, Venturing in Ireland: Quest for the Modern Celtic Soul and Venturing in Italy: Puglia, Land between Two Seas. Today she walks along the ancient stoned streets of Athens and reflects upon the wisdom of Socrates, realizing how little she still understands about life, about ourselves and about this enigmatic world around us.


Mary Brent Cantarutti, born, bred and reared to be a fan-carrying lady, headed west in pursuit of romance and adventure. She never lost her drawl. Co-founder of the Southern Sampler Artists Colony and writer of Southern Women’s fiction, her inner compass points toward cooling Atlantic breezes.

Her first book, the popular A Child’s Marin, highlighted family destinations in Northern California’s small but beautiful, Marin County (the one sandwiched between San Francisco and the Wine Country). She also updated the Marin and North Coast sections of Best Places Northern California, (4th edition, Sasquatch Books).

The Bottle Tree, her first novel (originally titled Kudzu Rising), was a finalist in the Novel-in-Progress category of the 2010 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and also a finalist in the Novel category in 2011. Mary Brent lives with her husband, Lido Cantarutti, and a fuzzy-orange cat, Mandarino, in San Rafael, California.


Antoinette Constable, the French child of a Jewish mother, witnessed atrocities inflicted on relatives, friends and strangers in Nazi-occupied France during WWII. She used this material to compile a chapbook of war-related poems, The Lasting War, published in December 2014. Antoinette has published numerous poems, four chapters of a novel, and prose pieces unrelated to the war. She’s won a first poetry prize from PEN, an Ann Stanford award from SCA University, a month-long stay at a prestigious writers’ retreat at Mesa Refuge in Point Reyes Station, California, and has contributed to the award-winning Wanderland Writers anthology, Wandering in Paris: Luminaries and Love in the City of Light. One of her poems served as inspiration for a Charleston Black Theatre production. Antoinette suffers headaches from not reading enough, enjoys puns, great food and friends, though not necessarily in this order.

Barbara J. Euser writes about nature, gardening and travel. She is a retired lawyer and Foreign Service Officer. Currently she devotes much of her time to working on projects with non-profit organizations, including the International Community Development Foundation, Nicaragua-Projekt, the Greek chapter of the Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage, and the Greek environmental NGO Toulipa Goulymi. She lives in the southern Peloponnese. She spends her free time sailing, gardening and tending her olive farm.


Tony Farrell is a St. Ives man whose family has been involved for generations in fishing, seafaring and mining. He went to sea for a time after leaving school and before going to university. He has a BA Honours degree in English and in archaeology and did post-graduate research in archaeology at The Queen’s University of Belfast. Tony has taught, and lectured, in further and higher education, and for nearly twenty years he was the Head of English at St. Ives School. He has also worked as a nautical archaeologist at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Tony has published research papers in leading archaeological and historical journals and has published a poetry textbook. He has an intimate knowledge of St. Ives and the moors of West Penwith.

Rita M. Gardner grew up as an expatriate in the Dominican Republic during a repressive dictatorship. Her award-winning memoir of that experience, The Coconut Latitudes: Secrets, Storms, and Survival in the Caribbean, was published in 2014 by She Writes Press. In 2015, it won two top national awards in the category of memoir. She is featured in The Magic of Memoir, a collection of inspirational stories and tips for memoir writers coming in fall 2016 by She Writes Press. Articles, poems, and photographs have appeared in literary journals and travel magazines. Website and blog: www.ritamgardner.com

Annelize Goedbloed was born in Celebes, Indonesia—a Dutch colony at the time—and spent her toddler years as a “guest” of the emperor of Japan. After the war she and her parents (both physicians) were evacuated to Holland. Early exposure to creeping and crawling animal life inspired her to study parasitology and marine biology. While birthing her four children, she needed to be at home and thus started breeding Texel sheep and special chicken breeds. She served several years as a member of the board of pedigree sheep breeders of South Holland. With her son, Annelize started a company (BioClin) that now proudly holds a patent on a plant-derived polysaccharide with anti-infection properties. She has written clinical trial reports and lectures in English worldwide on scientific findings. With thirteen grandchildren, the family breeding ventures are obviously continuing.

Thomas Harrell has joined the ranks of former lawyers who became writers. After sixteen years working for a Wall Street firm, the last six on dialysis, he received a new kidney eight years ago. With this second chance, he decided to leave the law and pursue two of his life passions: travel and writing. He has traveled to numerous countries, although not nearly enough yet. He has written about travel in several of these countries, including Argentina, Bosnia, China, and Italy. He also writes personal essays, many set in the South, where he was raised. He studied history and politics in college and is writing a spy novel set during the Civil War. He lives in San Francisco, California.

Donna Hemmila finds the best travel experiences arise from her inability to understand maps, even the electronic kind that talks to you. She inevitably turns left down narrow passageways when she should have gone straight. At those times, she thinks of her grandmother, Sophie, who left Poland at the age of 22 bound for America with $9 in her pocket and a desire only to see what was waiting around the next bend. Hint: It will always be something amazing you didn’t expect. Donna has worked as a news reporter, business editor, and speechwriter. She lives in Berkeley, California, and writes children’s books. 

Kitty Hughes grew up in Arkansas—a southerner who’s lost her drawl. She hasn’t, however, lost her interest in sense of place. Her novel-in-progress, Rendezvous, is set in New Orleans and Oakland, where she now lives and writes. Rendezvous was named a semi-finalist in the 2011 William Faulkner -William Wisdom Writing Competition. Kitty has published in several journals, including an anthology titled Wondrous Child (North Atlantic Press).

Lenny Karpman lives on a farm in Costa Rica with his wife, Joan Hall.  Their finca is a bird and animal refuge. His sixth book, The Food Bridge to Everywhere, Confessions of an Old Foodophile, was released in April, 2012.  Lenny writes mostly about travel, food, human rights and medicine (he’s a retired cardiologist) and has more than 180 publications in magazines, anthologies and newspapers. Read more on Lenny’s website, or email him at karpmanhal@aol.com

Robin Kazmier is still paying off her expensive anthropology and geography degrees using a skill she learned in Georgia Public Schools and the barrios of Bolivia: Spanish. Robin has worked as a Study Abroad Adviser, Medical Spanish Instructor, and Volunteer Coordinator on a cocoa farm in Costa Rica. When not working, she can be found scuba diving, backpacking, snowshoeing, making religious pilgrimages, experimenting with medicinal plants, and always, writing. She has a long history of journaling furiously about her adventures in Latin America, but professionally her writings mostly include academic material meant to prepare students for cultural immersion and conducting research abroad. She now primarily writes for Common Ground International’s blog on Latino Culture and Spanish Language in the workplace.

Robin recently returned to Costa Rica after her previous two-year stint on a cocoa farm there. She is involved in a variety of projects, from co-managing a Bed & Breakfast to working with groups of medical professionals who come to Costa Rica to learn Medical Spanish and provide health care in underserved communities. However, her next endeavor — the one that brought her back — will be to re-start her own natural soap/cleaning products business, inspired by her friends in the countryside who are without municipal water treatment.


Laurie McAndish King‘s award-winning travel essays have aired on the radio and been published in magazines and literary anthologies; one of her photos was displayed in the Smithsonian Institution. She also wrote An Erotic Alphabet (for which she was dubbed “The Shel Silverstein of Erotica”) and co-edited two volumes of erotica in the Hot Flashes: sexy little stories and poems series.

Laurie has an undergraduate degree in philosophy, earned a master’s degree in online education, and has published two award-winning books of travel essays, Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive! and Your Crocodile has Arrived

Diane LeBow, travel writer and photojournalist; President emerita, Bay Area Travel Writers; winner of the Travelers’ Tales Solas Gold Award 2010, Best Women’s Travel Writing; Silver 2011, Gold 2007 for Best Romance on the Road; publishes widely, including Salon.com, Travelers’ Tales and Seal Press anthologies, travel erotica with Cleis Press, as well as many newspapers and online publications. Professor emerita, Diane taught in Paris, Holland, New York City, and California for many years. Her lifelong women’s rights work has included travels in Afghanistan. She holds a Ph.D., History of Consciousness, UC Santa Cruz, and M.A., English, UC Berkeley, and has received grants from the Ford Foundation and NEH.

Diane writes about adventures in Afghanistan, riding a camel through locust swarms on the Libyan desert, horse trekking on the Mongolian steppes, diving with Red Sea sharks, as well as romance in France. Diane is recently back from a month-long exploration of off the beaten track parts of Indonesia, which included pushing a stalled mini-van through mud slides in order to reach traditional Indonesian villages. Some of her work can be seen at  Examiner.com.

As a boy growing up in Brooklyn, Robert Markowitz set out to be a writer. He went to Boston University to pursue that dream. But after that he got sidetracked by life. First as a print journalist (AP, UP). Then as a documentary filmmaker (CBS News). Ten years later he woke up in a Hollywood dream factory and discovered that he had been kidnapped and seduced into becoming a director of movies and miniseries for television. He never stopped writing. He wrote what William Saroyan called his “unwritten, written novels.” After years of plotting, he escaped to Northern California where he is happily writing his first novel, The Lost Boy.

Carol McCool’s first published work was her doctoral dissertation for her Ed.D. in educational psychology. For many years, her writing served her career as a psychologist, and educator.

Several years ago, Carol moved to a small farm in the mountains of Costa Rica in an area that still reflects the culture and lifestyle of decades long past. With an open heart and inquisitive mind, she writes about her travel and expat experiences and the fascinating people in her tiny village. A freelance contributor to local English-language periodicals, including The Tico Times, she has published seventeen feature stories, personal essays, and shorter pieces. She has ten new stories about to be published in the anthology, Costa Rican Kaleidoscope, by the group of writers known as The Bards of Paradise.

A peace activist and environmentalist, Carol’s passions include writing about organic, sustainable methods of food production. She longs for a world in which every country provides food security for its own people, and humankind lives in harmony with the earth. She is the owner of Rainforest Dreams, a newly opened bed-and-breakfast near the nation’s capital.

Gayle McGill grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, with four brothers in a poor but high-spirited family. She came of age in the sixties, and after graduating from McMaster University, spent her young adult years carting an enormous backpack around the globe. Her love of travel has not diminished. She has been identified as a tree hugger, music lover, science wonderer, and one that worries way too much about feminist issues. Her work career has been long and varied—teacher, barmaid, travel agent, and for the last three decades, programmer. She is the author of a novel set in the Australian Outback, and many technical “How To” guides. Gayle has written thousands of lines of code that live on in software systems all over the Bay Area. Her code has won acclaim and has been translated into other languages. Oakland has been her home for the past thirty years, where she lives with her belligerent garden and amicable husband John and daughter Anna nearby.


Ethel Mussen is a doughty nonagenarian who lives high on a hill above Berkeley and enjoys the wide-eyed enthusiasm of the Wanderland travelers as they hunker down in off-beat places to explore the world. Fifty years in providing health care of various sorts—the last 35 in teaching about and treating speech and hearing disorders—honed her anthropological approach to people and customs. A collector’s interest in potters and their ceramics offered an additional slant in production and business of local craftsmen. Repeated spells of living in New Zealand, France and Italy gave more insight into the effects and variety of cultural assumptions in local politics, business and behavior.

These experiences and interests bias Ethel’s emotional and scholarly response to the beauty and strangeness of each new voyage. Her late husband, Paul, used to regale her and their two children with the assurance that with every discovery, good or bad, “This is a cultural experience!” She utters that mantra with each new trip.

Mary Jean Pramik, a coalminer’s daughter and a great, great-granddaughter of the Mongolian plain, has hitch-hiked across the United States, tracked May Apples in Ohio, chased children through wet mountains of California, fended off bill collectors in tropical San Francisco, and counted sharp-talon bird carcasses along the Pacific’s Point Reyes sands. Communicating with screeching penguin hoards in Antarctica remains a high point of her sojourn on this planet.

MJ earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in biological sciences, and completed an MFA in Writing.  She moonlights as a medical writer, penning such scientific thrillers as Norenthindrone, The First Three Decades, the fast-paced history of the first birth control pill extracted from a Mexican yam. Winner of the coveted Mary Womer Medal and a Travelers’ Tales Solis Award, MJ’s articles and essays have appeared in Nature Biotechnology, Drug Topics, and Cosmetic Surgery News, and mainstream publications such as Good Housekeeping, Odyssey, and the National Enquirer.  She has contributed to the “Venturing in” travel series on the Canal du Midi, Southern Greece, Southern Ireland, and Puglia, Italy. MJ teaches graduate writing skills in the College of Science and Engineering at San Francisco State University.

Catherine Pyke has worked as a program officer for a national foundation (The Hearst Foundations) located in San Francisco for nearly twenty-seven years. In both non-fiction and fiction, she strives to write joyfully and occasionally humorously about the philanthropists, activists and non-profit leaders who she has come to know in this professional capacity. A contributor to the anthology of writers’ stories from Greece and an upcoming anthology on Paris from Wanderland Writers, she is currently working on a book about the friendship of Phoebe Hearst and Jane Stanford. A native of Salt Lake City, she lives in Larkspur, California.


Cindy Rasicot is a freelance writer, former psychotherapist, and adoptive mother living in the Bay Area. She was raised on black-eyed peas and fried chicken in Aiken, South Carolina. Although her family moved to California when she was ten, she still shares a love of all things Southern. She blogs at her website, Talking Heart to Heart, a supportive community for parents raising adopted teens and young adults.

Tania Romanov documents her world in the context of a past that never allowed her family the freedom to live for long in peace. Born in Belgrade, Serbia, of two displaced emigres—a White Russian father and a Croatian mother—she spent her first years in a refugee camp before living a personal story of exile, asylum and success that America empowered. She watched, from afar, the disintegration of the country where her mother Zora’s sisters ended on opposing sides of a battle, not for the first time. Fluent in the languages of her parents, she visits her homelands to inherit her past. In her book Mother Tongue she explores, in a highly personal saga, the causes and consequences of Balkan struggles over the last hundred years.

Tania, a writer, photographer, traveler, and successful technology executive, again lives in San Francisco, the city that offered her refuge when she was a child. Her story about returning to her father’s homeland was published in Best Travel Writing, Volume Ten. Her story about travel down the Ganges River will appear in Volume Eleven of that publication.


Lynne Rutan isn’t sure whether it was in the marbled luxury of San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel or amid the natural splendor of the Grand Tetons, but somewhere during a cross-country trip with her grandparents when she was thirteen, the travel bug bit— hard—and she’s still scratching the itch four decades later. While living in New York City she worked all over the world for the American Society of Travel Agents and other travel industry companies and freelanced for travel trade magazines and the New York Daily News. Six years in Brussels gave her the opportunity to explore Europe and fueled her passion for cooking and culinary tourism. Lynne discovered another passion, hiking, during a four-day adventure to Machu Picchu and has since trekked in Tasmania, New Zealand, Tibet, Canada and the mountains that surround her home in Park City, Utah.

Anne Sigmon flunked jump rope in seventh grade and washed out of college PE. After college, she headed for San Francisco and a career in public relations. Exotic travel was the stuff of dreams until, at 38, she married Jack, took tea with erstwhile headhunters in Borneo and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at 43. Five years later, she was zapped by a career-ending stroke caused by an obscure autoimmune disease called Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS). She may be stuck with blood thinners and a damaged brain, but she’s still traveling to isolated regions ranging from Botswana to Burma and, most recently, to Syria, Jordan, and a remote rainforest in Costa Rica.

Anne’s personal essays and travel stories have appeared in local and national publications including Good Housekeeping and Stroke Connection magazines and the anthologies Wandering in Costa Rica, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness, and Travel Stories from Around the Globe. She is currently working on a memoir about her experience with stroke and autoimmune disease. Anne’s blog, Jungle Pants, offers travel tales and tips about adventure travel off the beaten path. On Anne’s author website, she writes about—and offers tips on—living with stroke and autoimmune disease.


Maryly Snow is an Oakland-born visual artist once known for her 1979 installation An Act of Bad Taste By a Woman Raised for Impeccability. This garnered her her Warholian fifteen minutes of fame via a news clip on a local San Francisco television station and an invitation to appear on Good Morning America. These days she is primarily a printmaker with etchings in the Library of Congress, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the University of California, Berkeley, and many corporate and private collections.

As an art and architecture visual librarian at UC Berkeley (remember 35mm slides?) before she retired in 2007, Maryly published many papers, winning the Nancy DeLaurier Writing Award in 2000 for her briefly titled essay Pedagogical Consequences of Photomechanical Reproduction in the Visual Histories: From Copy Photography to Digital Mnemonics (in Visual Resources 12:3-4, 1996 (double issue entitled, Copyright, Fair Use and the Great Image Debate). More recently, she was the editor of the award-winning book California Society of Printmakers: One Hundred Years, 1913-2013, currently undergoing conversion to an e-book. Maryly’s West Oakland studio is open by appointment. www.snowstudios.com