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Dead Men Don’t Leave Tips: Adventures X Africa
By Brandon Wilson
Pilgrim’s Tales
http://www.PilgrimsTales.com
P.O. Box 791613
Paia, Hawaii 96779
ISBN: 0-9770536-4-4 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-9770536-5-2 (Hardcover)
Copyright 2006
Paperback, 280 pages, $16.95
Travel Narrative/Non-Fiction

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

Dead Men Don’t Leave Tips is the thrilling, captivating true tale of a honeymooned couple who quit their job, sell their home and cars, and leave everything behind to achieve a dream: cross Africa on a seven-month, 10,000-mile journey from Morocco to Cape Town.

Join professional travellers Wilson and Cheryl as they bargain with villagers, struggle with incompetent guides and government officials, pass sleepless nights in deplorable accommodations, cross the Sahara amidst sand storms and blistering heat, meet gorillas and Pygmies face to face, and climb Mount Kilimanjaro, reminding us all along that simple things such as a nice meal, a shower and getting cash can become the ultimate luxuries.

The tale is poignant with ironic humor and human drama. Each chapter begins with a witty, profound African proverb, and in the middle section the author includes interesting B&W photographs to complement his account and give a clearer picture of Africa’s sights and sounds.

What’s striking about Wilson’s books (he’s also the author of the IPPY Award winner Yak Butter Blues) is that his journeys are not only physical but highly spiritual as well. His are journeys of body and soul in every sense of the word. The author writes with honesty and a sharp eye for detail, making this an invaluable amalgam of information for readers of adventure travel or anybody who is considering “do-it-yourself” safaris or simply visiting Africa. Interlaced with this honesty and detail are Wilson’s beautiful prose, obvious passion for adventure and a deep inquisitiveness about other cultures, making this book a pleasure to read. Having already reviewed Wilson’s previous work, this reviewer is already looking forward to his next.

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The Book:

This is the Book Every Travel Writer Has Waited For! Travel writing may be an art-but putting together a guidebook is a craft! Author Barbara Hudgins offers a minimum of hype and a maximum of help for anyone who has ever dreamed of putting their travel lore into prose.

Crafting the Travel Guidebook shows the reader how to find his category and his audience, how create a format, construct a framework and flow the chapters. It also offers a heaping helping of travel-writing tips and examples.

Aimed at both the author looking for a publisher and those who wish to self-publish, the book covers such topics as basic research, plagiarism and copyright infringement, where to find photographs, creating sidebars, the book proposal, positioning your title and promoting your book. And best of all, there is a 15-page list of publishers, large and small, who welcome travel writers.

Written by best-selling guidebook author, Barbara Hudgins, this book offers a roadmap for both the novice writer and the veteran journalist to find his way to the travel bookshelf. From the title page to the appendix and index–everything is laid out.

The Author:

Barbara Hudgins is best known as the original author and self-publisher of New Jersey Day Trips. This guidebook sold over 110,000 copies in several editions before she sold the rights to Rutgers University Press. She also co-authored the 10th edition put out by that press. She was the subject of a chapter in the book Make Money Self-Publishing by Suzanne Thomas, as an example of a successful regional author.

Barbara’s travel column, which covers both local and foreign trips, has appeared in The Madison Eagle, the Bernardsville News and other newspapers in northern New Jersey. Her day trip articles have also been featured in Garden State Woman and New Jersey, Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow. National magazines such as Signature, Woman’s World and Foreword have published her free-lance pieces on a variety of subjects.

The author has lived in New York, New Mexico, Hawaii and Virginia, but has made her home in New Jersey for the past 30 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Library Science and has worked at the New York Public Library, Hunter College Library and the University of Hawaii. A former English major in college, she began writing music, movie and theater reviews before gravitating to travel writing. Her two children, Lani and Robert, now grown and with families of their own, helped her to research the many destinations that appear in her books and articles.

It was only after she had worked with a traditional publisher and gone through all the phases of working with an editor and a co-author that the concept for this book formed. Although there are several guides to travel writing on the market, they all concentrate on selling to magazine, newspaper and internet editors. Why not, she thought, create something geared to the book publishing? Barbara’s background and knowledge of self-publishing give her the expertise to successfully market in the publishing world. Her experience as an author for a traditional publisher, as a self-publisher and as a freelance writer, positions her as a unique expert in all of these fields.

Visit the author’s blog.

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51qyfctpbjl__aa240_.jpgAlong the Templar Trail: Seven Million Steps for Peace is the fascinating journey of two men who set out to travel on foot the legendary road once used by the Knights Templar to reach Jerusalem — a staggering pilgrimage encompassing 2,620 miles. More than the mere adventure of two brave men, it is a grand and noble quest for peace, as well as a spiritual voyage that will leave readers emotionally and intellectually replenished.

The travelers are the author, American Brandon Wilson, and his 68-year-old French companion, Emile. The starting point: France. Destination: Jerusalem. In between these two points are Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan. Indeed, it is a daunting challenge, to say the least, and Wilson and Emile suffer all sorts of inconveniences along the way — insufferable heat, painful foot blisters, uncertainty as to where they will spend each night. Not to mention the possible dangers they might face, from thieves to anti-Americanism in the Muslim countries. Simple things like taking a shower, clean clothes, and comfortable sleep become a luxury.

Fortunately, they often encounter what the author refers to as ‘angels’, good souls beyond the boundaries of accepted conventions who are willing to offer the pilgrims food, drink, and a place to spend the night. Who would do that in America, where people are so conscious of danger at all times? But in the context of this journey for peace, it’s as if human beings are transformed and the best of their nature comes through. Also, for Wilson and Emile traveling together becomes difficult at times, as they differ in age and stamina. Will they finally reach their destination?

I immensely enjoyed reading this book. Besides being a skillful traveler, the author is also a skillful writer and this shows in his beautiful flowing prose, keen observations and wit. His writing combines a marvelous sense of Zen with good humor, and his personal style makes you feel as if you were there taking part in it all. This book is about a journey both physical and spiritual in nature, and its essential message is one all peoples of the world should be aware of. Though I had the pleasure of reviewing Wilson’s two previous travel books, both fascinating, engrossing reads, I have to confess Along the Templar Trail is my favorite.

Purchase from Amazon.

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