Reflections from a Book Passage Travel & Food Writing & Photography Conference Newbie ©2011 by Diane Susan Petty I used to be wealthy and successful—number one in my industry. Now I sit on a bench contemplating a “No Barking” sign, the “P” graffitied over with a “B”. I observe the cars are indeed parked in front and the dogs are quiet. I notice a sign saying an 18-pound male cat named PhiPhi has run away and wonder if it was because the other kitties were teasing him about his name. I recently became an unemployed, broke mortgage banker. After announcing my desire to make a major life change and become an unemployed, broke travel writer, a mutual friend introduced me to travel writing guru, Don George. Don’s advice? “Come to the Book Passage Travel & Food Writing & Photography Conference. Meet Spud. It’ll be life changing.” Down to our last $1000, my husband suggested we might want to use that money for groceries; why not wait and go next year? Groceries be damned; I could drop a few pounds anyway. I’m going to the conference. One minute I’m excited and hopeful for the future; the former confident me has returned. The next I’m petrified about attending, convinced I’m grasping at straws out of pure desperation. What do I know about travel writing?