Alumni News

If you are an alumnus of our Book Passage Conferences or Classes Progrmming, and you have news to share, let us know what you've been up to! Email the Webmaster,, with "Alumni News" in the subject line.



April Orcutt writes for the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, National Geographic Traveler, (the online travel magazine of Travel+Leisure),, AAA magazines, the Saturday Evening Post, and more. April’s currently working on a story for the Her travel essays have run in newspapers and seven anthologies. April won a Gold Award in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition, best American travel destination article in U.S. Travel Association's IPW Travel Writer Awards, and best newspaper feature in Visit California's Eureka Travel Writing Awards. April was named 2016 TravMedia Journalist of the Year at ONE Travel.
-- Travel Writers Conference Alumna April Orcutt


I attended the Mystery Conference in 1998 and the Elizabeth George Workshop in 1999. I still remember both fondly, and love seeing classmates at conferences and keeping in touch on line. Crime Rib, first in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in a lakeside resort community in NW Montana, on the road to Glacier National Park, will be published by Berkley Prime Crime on July 1, 2014. And the first book in the series, Death al Dente, recently won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. I am the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. (My guide for writers, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books, 2011), won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction.)
- Mystery Writers Conference alumna Leslie Budewitz


Travel Writers Conference alumni Fredric Hamber's article "Pillow Chocolates Are Passe" was published in the Nob Hill Gazette! Read his article here.


My husband and I attended the Travel Writers and Photographers Conference in August 2012. Since then I have have seven Five Places articles published in the SF Chronicle. I have also had one article published in The Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, and a couple in, a Toronto travel magazine and website. My husband and I will be returning to San Francisco again this August and I will attend the conference again.
- Travel Writers Conference alumna Patti Shales Lefkos


Since the conference, I've had an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle, an article on Travel + Leisure's website, my third article on BBC Travel, and a non-travel essay published in 7x7 Magazine.
- Travel Writers Conference Alumni Katie Hammel


I have been remiss in not letting you know sooner that I, as one of your graduates from  the Mystery Writers Conference in 2011, have been published by a an independent UK publisher (The Wordsmith Press, UK, Oxfordshire). The  book is my first forensic thriller, Killing in Time and it was released on both sides of the pond at the end of May 2012 (Over there, at Crimefest 2012 in Bristol).
- Mystery Writers Conference alumna Elizabeth Carroll


Since winning first prize at the Travel Writers and Photographers conference in 2000, I have moved to Hong Kong and have been concentrating more on my photography projects in China and Asia. In 2011 alone, I won several awards including the Jacobs Riis Award (2011) runner-up, Centre for Fine Art Photography “Human + Being” juried exhibition, and was published in Creative Quarterly (issue 23: Summer 2011). I am now working on a long term project of the last remaining women with boundfeet in China, and hope to come again to Book Passage in August for the conference. Winning the Conference prize for my photography was a milestone in my passage as a photographer, and I was honoured to exhibit my work from Tibet in 2005 in the new classroom. George Olson, Tim Cahill, and Nevada Weir were inspiring presenters.
- Travel Writers & Photographers Conference alumna Jo Farrell


My first book, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure, will be published in October by Quill Driver Books, which publishes books for writers. It's a comprehensive guide to law to help writers create more realistic characters and storylines, and avoid the mistakes that annoy readers. I also provide information for fiction writers through my website, My latest short mystery, Thicker than Blood, appears in Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology (Wildside, April 2011), featuring 22 short mysteries by the members of the Sisters in Crime Guppy chapter. I remember my trip to the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference fondly--it was a huge turning point for me. And I'm sure this year's conference will be terrific!
- Conference alumna Leslie Budewitz


I thought I would mention that a story I wrote at last year's Travel, Food & Photography Conference was selected for this year's edition of Best Women's Travel Writing 2011 published by Traveler's Tales. Thanks!
- Conference alumna Marcy Gordon


You were very helpful and encouraging to me both during and after the 2009 Children's Writers & Illustrators Conference. I connected with a wonderful illustrator—Ji Young Lee—who also attended the conference, and we published a picture book of one of my stories, Marcie's Daffodil. It came out from Xlibris in December of 2010, and has been enthusiastically received wherever people have seen it. The book evidently fills an unexpected gap in picture-book literature, as I'm told, it is the only one to approach a miscarriage in the family—and to deal with it subtly enough so that most children can and do read it—just as the story of Marcie's adventures with her daffodil bulb and its spring flowering (a passage-of-the-seasons tale)—without finding it scary. Everyone who sees Ji Young's illustrations loves them.
- Conference alumna Autumn Stanley

Rebecca Long Chaney attended the Book Passage Travel, Food & Photography Conference back in 2001. She placed second in the photographers competition. Since then she has released an adventure book, Bulldust in my Bra: An American Couple's Working Season in the Outback. She is about to release the second children's book in a series of ag educational books entitled Mini Milk Maids on the Mooove. It is being promoted nationwide.
I do have some good news about another BPU alumna--perhaps you've heard that Zoe Carter from one of my classes is having her very fine memoir, Imperfect Endings, published by Simon & Schuster in 2009.
- B.P. Classes Instructor Katherine Forrest
I started writing with Margaret Kaufman at BPU about 12 years ago. My first book of poetry, One Breath has just been published by Tebot Bach Press. It is a collection of mostly medical poems following my training as a doctor. Thank you BPU for a good start.
- Catharine Clark-Sayles

Gayle Keck, a graduate of the Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference, has received a Lowell Thomas Award for her article in the Washington Post entitled "Pirates of the Mediterranean."


Tina Stolberg, a graduate of the Book Passage Children's Writers & Illustrators Conference, is proud to announce the May 2009 release of her second book Little Shrew Caboose published by Pleasant Street Press. Visit her website for more information and author visits.


April Orcutt, travel writer and alumna of Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference, has a 4,000-word commissioned essay in the new Lonely Planet anthology Flightless: Incredible Journeys Without Leaving the Ground. Her story is "On the Lam on the Long Road to Lhasa" about traveling overland (illegally) from Chengdu in China to Lhasa in Tibet. She also just had a 21-part (yes, 21-part) story in Travel + Leisure Online with a main story and 20 "slide captions":

Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conferencee faculty member Jeff Pflueger reports the Sunday, Sept. 2, 2007 New York Times Travel Section featured a story he photographed in the mountains of British Columbia.

Kim Haynes, a student of the 2007 Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference, wrote to share with us her news of writing an article about this year's conference for First Draft, a Sisters in Crime newsletter. She also reports she just finished a rewrite of her first novel based on things she learned at the conference.

April Orcutt
, travel writer and alumna of Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference, has a short peice coming out in the September issue of National Geographic Traveler.

Pauline Frommer's book Pauline Frommer's New York City was named best guidebook of the year by the North American Travel Journalists Association. Pauline has been a faculty member of past Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conferences.

Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference alumnae Judith Gille (writer) and Lori Makabe (photographer) recently had a story on Michoacan, Mexico and 4 photos appear in the March 11, 2007 Travel Section of the Dallas Morning News.

Michael Shapiro, author of A Sense of Place, has won the coveted Bedford Pace award for outstanding travel journalism about Great Britain. The award was for his cover story "Land Beyond Time" in the May-June 2006 issue of National Geographic Traveler about the famed writer Jan Morris and her corner of Wales.

Michael Shapiro's career in travel writing began at Book Passage, where 15 years ago he was a student at the 1992 inaugural Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference. At that Conference he befriended faculty members Jan Morris and Don George. Since then, Michael himself has served as an outstanding and invaluable member of the Book Passage Conference faculty.

There were four categories for the Pace award, including magazine feature, newspaper article, broadcast segment and online story. Shapiro says "I'd learned earlier I'd won the magazine category. But it wasn't until the announcement at Thomas Keller's Per Se restaurant in New York on Tuesday that I knew I'd won the Grand Award."

There were 117 entries including articles from Travel & Leisure, Town & Country, The New York Times, Islands, the Dallas Morning News and the Miami Herald.

"It was a thrill to win, not just for the recognition but because it gave me a chance to publicly thank National Geographic editors Keith Bellows and Paul Martin for giving me the opportunity, the careful editing, the budget to do the story right, and the wide exposure as a cover story. Much of the credit for the award also goes to photographer Jim Richardson, whose lustrous and luminous photos brought the story to life."

Past winners of the Bedford Pace award include: Bill Bryson, R.W. Apple (New York Times) and John Flinn. This was the 11th annual award.


April Orcutt, travel writer and alumna of Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference, recently had articles published in the Los Angeles Times & the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine.


I am writing to thank Book Passage for its excellent seminars and classes, which really do work! I took a two-day, book marketing course in 2004, and Amy Rennert's brief seminar on how to get an agent in 2005, and I am happy to report that Warner Books will be publishing my novel, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County." —Tiffany Baker