WINGS Sketch Artist, Anna Elkins

Meet l’Artiste!

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Anna Elkins is a traveling poet and painter. She earned a BA in art and English and an MFA and Fulbright Fellowship in poetry. Her writings have been published in journals and books, and her paintings hang on walls around the world. She has written, painted, and taught on six continents. She is the author of the illustrated vignette, The Heart Takes Flight, the novel The Honeylicker Angel, and the poetry collection The Space Between. Anna has set up her easel and writing desk in the mythical State of Jefferson.

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3b Route des ChateauxThere are over 100 gorgeous sketches by Anna in Wings, many of which come with addresses so that readers can find the bistros, cafés, inns, châteaux, villages and other sites.

Recently, we traveled to Morocco and France together, and visited many of the sites she had sketched.  Here are her impressions:

The most recent trip I took to Paris was a kind of pilgrimage. I had spent seven months the previous year creating over one hundred illustrations for Erin Byrne’s luminous book, Wings. Many of her stories are set in Paris. I had been to some of the sites I drew, but others I had only “met” through photographs.

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My birthday arrived right after I did. Erin suggested we meet at Le Bistrot d’Henri—one of the very first Parisian sites I had sketched for her book. I had first encountered this charming spot in her story, “Two Boys in a Bistro”—long before I knew I would one day illustrate its exterior, let alone celebrate my birthday inside. I will always remember the moment my friends and I found the address. We had taken a wrong turn and finally made it to Rue Princesse. And there it was: the bistro just as I had imagined it while sketching it, with Erin waiting inside to welcome us.

It was like that for every place in Paris—known and new, from the Luxembourg Gardens to Les Editeurs. At every turn, I felt a shiver of delightful recognition and a sense of being welcomed inside the stories the sketches were based on.

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The illustrations in Wings are invitations to the stories. They beckon you inside. They say “welcome.” 

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View Anna’s images here

Joseph Campbell on Travel, Adventure, and Magical Guides


If what you are following, however, is your own true adventure, if it is something appropriate to your deep spiritual need or readiness, then magical guides will appear to help you. If you say, ‘Everyone’s going on this trip this year, and I’m going too,’ then no guides will appear.

Your adventure has to be coming right out of your own interior. If you are ready for it, then doors will open where there were no doors before, and where there would not be doors for anyone else. And you must have courage. It’s the call to adventure, which means there is no security, no rules.

—Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell
Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

WING: Gifts of Art, Life, and Travel in France is a book about how I was changed by traveling around France with the ghosts of artists and historical figures who shared with me their guides to living.

Soon I will introduce you!  First up will be the photographer known as “The Timecatcher of the Twentieth Century”

Interview, Rolf Potts Travel Writer Series

vagabondingI’m so excited to be a part of this fascinating interview series!  Read about how I get started writing, my biggest challenges on the road, inside tips from my collection of stellar mentors, and a reading list of travel books that will incite your wanderlust.

When you are finished with mine, peruse the archives for interviews with the best travel writers from all over the world.

Thank you so much to Rolf Potts, whose books Marco Polo Didn’t Go There and Vagabonding are in places of honor on my bookshelf!

Filming, Paris – Three short films: Wings Trailer, The Mirror of Montmartre, and Signs

filming cour du commerce st andreThe week of filming celebrated all I love about Paris.  People welcomed us graciously, showed interest, and eagerly offered ideas – a book signing here, a party there, anything at all.  In cafés, connections sparked, continual electrical currents.  At sunset, the Seine flickered as people wandered along the quais, or stopped to listen to jazz trios jamming on bridges.  The city invited all to be enthralled, charmed, romanced.– “Out Into Paris”, Postscript in Wings, Gifts of Art, Life, and Travel in France
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Michelangelo sculpted his Slaves during years of unceasing labor for pope after pope, often waiting for payment, and to me, the marble captives carry his own desperation.

– “The Mystique of Art”,  Wings


Gratitude to my awesome filmmaker, Rogier Van Beeck Calkoen, whose work is meticulous, gorgeous, and brilliant.

Stranger Than Fiction Reading Series, San Francisco

Thank you to the vivacious Frances Stroh for hosting this varied and rich event!  Watch for her book, Beer Money: A memoir of Privilege and Loss, which will be released in May, 2016.

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These six local authors–Jack Boulware, Meghan Ward, Alan Black,Melissa Cistaro, Joe Loya, and Erin Byrne–will hit it out of the park on Sunday at the Edinburgh Castle, 3-5 PM!

Salon: Storytelling

You are Invited to a Storytelling Salon

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Hajj, storyteller in Marrakech




Ann Dufaux with friends in Fez






Jean-Bernard Ponthus – Moroccan royalty 




Come listen to stories we spin from our trip, Deep Travel Morocco

Friday, November 13, 7 pm

Paris, Île Saint Louis

Hosted by Erin Byrne


Also featuring Christina Ammon speaking about her Deep Travel trips!!


Deep Travel Storytelling, Marrakech

Hajj seemed to be woven of the ancient and the modern.  He embodied stories the Berbers told centuries ago, and looked the picture of a traditional Moroccan Hakawati, but often he pulled his phone out of the pocket of his robes and huddled over it; or sat down on a step and leaned forward, elbows on knees, dragging on a cigarette like the Moroccan Marlboro Man while teasing my co-instructor Doug about being shebe (white-haired); or whipped out his Kindle to read a line or two.  But when Hajj told a story, time and distance morphed and language was transcended.  – “The Ancient Storyteller of Morocco”, Afterword in Vignettes & Postcards From Morocco” (August, 2016, ReputationBooks)

A million shukrans to the dynamic Mike Richardson, owner of Café Clock in Fez, Café Clock in Marrakech, and Scorpion House in Moulay Idriss for MOST gracious hospitality and event organization, and to Rose Button at Dar Zerhoune for hosting our Deep Travel writers.

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Event: Palo Alto Oshman Family JCC

Special thanks to our host, Meredith Miller Vostrejs, who led a lively discussion of travel, and to the audience, whose enthusiasm for the world made the evening one we won’t soon forget. 

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An Evening with Travel Writer Lavinia Spalding

True Stories from Around the World

Event date: 10/6/2015 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM Export event

Location: Freidenrich Conference Center, Room F-401

Enjoy an intimate conversation with Lavinia Spalding, editor of The Best Women’s Travel Writing series. She will be joined by other contributors to the anthology and discuss travel planning and writing. Come prepared to laugh, listen, share and be entertained while enjoying wine and cheese!

More About Lavinia Spalding
Lavinia Spalding is a writer, editor, teacher, public speaker, and lapsed Luddite. She’s the series editor of The Best Women’s Travel Writing and the author of two books: Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler, and With a Measure of Grace, the Story and Recipes of a Small Town Restaurant. Lavinia’s work has appeared in many print and online publications and discussed in a TEDx talk. She also teaches writing and journaling workshops.

Lavinia lives in San Francisco, where she’s a resident of the Writers’ Grotto, faculty of the annual Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference and co-founder of the award-winning monthly travel reading series Weekday Wanderlust.
For more information, visit her website.

Faith Adiele is the author of The Nigerian-Nordic Girl’s Guide To Lady Problems (Shebooks) and Meeting Faith (W.W. Norton), a travel memoir that won the PEN Open Book Award for Best Memoir; writer/narrator/subject of My Journey Home, a PBS documentary about traveling to find family; and co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology (The New Press). A graduate of Harvard University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, she teaches nonfiction around the world, as well as at California College of the Arts, The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and Voices/VONA, where she’s established the nation’s first workshop for travel writers of color. For more information, visit her website.

Erin Byrne writes travel essays, poetry, fiction and screenplays. Her work has won numerous awards including three Grand Prize Solas Awards for Travel Story of the Year, the Reader’s Favorite Award, Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalist, and an Accolade Award for film. Erin is author of Wings From Victory (Travelers’ Tales, 2016), editor of Vignettes & Postcards From Paris and Vignettes & Postcards From Morocco (Reputation Books, 2016), and writer of The Storykeeper film.  Her screenplay, Siesta, is in pre-production in Spain. She is working on the novel, The Red Notebook.   For more information, visit  her website.

Candace Rose Rardon is a writer, sketch artist, and illustrator whose stories and watercolors have appeared in places such as BBC Travel, World Hum, and National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel site, as well as inLonely Planet’s literary anthology An Innocent Abroad and Travelers’ Tales Best Women’s Travel Writing. She also runs her travel blog, “The Great Affair”, which has been featured in the New York Times, and earned an MA in Travel Writing from London’s Kingston University.

Tuesday, October 6
7:30 PM
Freidenrich Conference Center
$12 General Public | $10 Members and J-Pass holders (What is J-Pass?)