Author Bios

Jennifer Baljko is an award-winning journalist living in Barcelona. The journey of how a Jersey girl with a wayfarer’s soul ended up in California, Catalonia, and a dozen other places will eventually unfold in one way or another. Until then, she’ll keep writing business, technology, and travel stories for various international publications. Jennifer is the co-founder of Objectiva Media, a start-up specializing in narrative multimedia storytelling, and volunteers at, which focuses on increasing access to books in developing countries. Her work has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens (Summer 2011); The Christian Science Monitor; Explorer Publishing’s Barcelona: The Complete Residents’ Guide; Islands; Skirt!; Travelers’ Tales; and, among other places. Follow her on Twitter at @jbaljko, or visit her website,


Carol Beddo, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia, 1964-66, returned to her Peace Corps station in 2003. Flooded with memories, she began to wonder: Who was that young woman? Through writing those memories, Carol is coming to understand how the Peace Corps experience provided a foundation for the rest of her life as a community activist and as a consultant in public policy, political campaigns, and elections. Life with her husband of forty-plus years is rich with family, and she’s grateful for three grandchildren who desire a lot of her time. Her stories have appeared in two anthologies: The Best Travel Writing 2009 (her story, “Choices Rejected,” received a gold Solas Award from the publisher) and One Hand Does Not Catch a Buffalo, 50 Years Of Peace Corps Stories. The Peace Corps anthology received the Silver IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) for travel essays in 2011.


Jacqueline Collins is a writer and teacher. She has written previously for Victoria magazine and has also created books for a young adult mystery series. Jackie is currently at work on her own middle grade mystery set in a California beach town. As a teacher, she has worked with students from elementary school to university. Currently, she teaches English composition and reading at a community college and English as Second Language at an adult school.



John Dalton, during his 35-year working life, amassed 4,724,515 miles on commercial airliners, over a thousand nights at hotels world-wide, and a treasure-trove of experiences. Since retiring at age 55, he has added to that base with a 500-mile backpack trip in the West, a mountain climbing expedition in Ecuador, and a cross-country bicycle odyssey in the US. In his second career he has shared some of that background as a regular contributor to California Explorer Magazine. His work has also appeared in Nevada Magazine, the San Jose Mercury-News, and Approach Magazine. John’s website (and bike blog from his most recent trip) can be accessed at


Larry Habegger is a writer and editor who has been covering the world since his international travels began in the 1970s. As a freelance writer for more than 30 years and syndicated columnist since 1985, his work has appeared in many major newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Travel & Leisure, and Outside. In 1993 he founded the award-winning Travelers’ Tales books with James and Tim O’Reilly and is currently executive editor. Larry is an inspiring writing teacher and coach, and founder and leader of the writers group, Townsend 11. He is also editor-in-chief of and a founder of The Prose Doctors, an editors consortium.


Dana Hill has had many memorable adventures during a long career in the airline business, and is now writing about her life experiences. She still loves to travel and enjoys combining the thrill of new places with her passion for people-watching. Her work has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Christmas and in Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada. Dana, who is a professional bartender and loves to cook, also writes columns on cooking and the bar scene in Oakland, California for the online newspaper She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley.


Barbara Robertson writes about dogs, travel, visual effects, animation, and quirky things that tickle her imagination. Her stories have appeared in Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, the San Francisco Chronicle, BARK, Film & Video, Animation Magazine, Computer Graphics World, and other publications, and in anthologies including Travelers’ Tales’ Best Women’s Travel Writing. She has won the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award, and first place honors from Folio (Eddie awards), the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing, ASBPE, and the Dog Writers Association. She has moderated panels and introduced speakers at conferences in the US, Monaco, Italy and Germany. At home, she watches movies, listens to loud music, reads mysteries, shares food with friends, and best of all, runs on the beach with her dog. She loves photographing the world around her, and she’ll jump on a plane at a moment’s notice.


Bonnie Smetts is a San Francisco Bay Area designer and writer who spends part of each year in Italy. Her award-winning essays, focused on Italian language and culture, have appeared in magazines, anthologies, newspaper travel sections, and online guides. She is currently working on two works of fiction where the settings are as important as the characters.



Jacqueline Yau is a romantic adventurer, or you could say an adventurous romantic, whose writing ranges from travel to humor to poignant essays. “Jaisalmer: A Desert Kingdom” won second place at the 2007 Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers conference. Her work has appeared in Travelers’ Tales anthologies, including Hyenas Laughed at Me and Now I Know Why and Travelers’ Tales China. She contributed several articles to the 2011 Travel Guide to California, including essays on California cuisine, the movie business, and West Hollywood. And she penned two pieces for Writing Romance, one on branding and another on word-of-mouth marketing. Her alter ego brings home the bacon as a marketer for nonprofit, consumer, and high-tech organizations, drawing on her experiences as an Internet Keyword evangelist, brand manager, social entrepreneur, access cable TV host, and news reporter. She currently works as VP of strategic initiatives for Parents’ Choice Foundation, the nation’s oldest nonprofit evaluator of children’s media and toys. You can find her at


Bill Zarchy is a freelance director of photography, writer, and teacher in San Francisco. He has shot film and HDTV projects in 30 countries and 40 states, including three former presidents for the Emmy-winning West Wing Documentary Special, the Grammy-winning Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ’Em, feature films Conceiving Ada and Read You Like A Book, PBS science series Closer to Truth, and countless high-end projects for technology and medical companies. Roving Camera: Bill Zarchy’s Blog appears at His tales from the road, personal essays, and technical articles have been published in Travelers’ Tales and Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, the San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers, and American Cinematographer, Emmy, and Kyoto Journal magazines. He has a BA in Government from Dartmouth and an MA in Film from Stanford and teaches Advanced Cinematography to grad students at San Francisco State University.


Y.J. Zhu, a native of Beijing, China, now lives in San Francisco. Besides racing a motorbike across the Taklamakan Desert, she has also delivered a yacht to Mexico, sailed up the Mekong River, and cruised down the Irrawaddy River. Material for stories comes from a variety of life experiences, including biking across France, exploring Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Machu Picchu in Peru. She currently makes her living managing projects for financial institutions.


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