Tag Archives: Kickstarter

EXCLUSIVE Travel Memoir Excerpt: Careening Around Cairo

It is not every day that we get an exclusive look at a future best-selling travel book! I am delighted and privileged to re-introduce A Traveler’s Library contributor, Edie Jarolim, who shares with you excerpts of a chapter from her work-in-progress, a travel memoir you won’t want to miss–Getting Naked for Money.

EXCLUSIVE to A Traveler’s Library

The following is an excerpt from Getting Naked for Money: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All.  Please contribute to the Kickstarter campaign that will allow the book to be finished and published (see badge at the end)


I am a terrible Jew. This I knew from an early age. At Passover seders as far back as I can remember, I would recite the story of the Israelites’ enslavement while harboring a secret love for the land of the pharaohs. “Let my people go,” I intoned, while longing to visit Egypt.

I don’t blame the Jewish holiday for my disloyalty, although, like most kids, I found the Haggadah reading interminable. I was also a bit dubious about parts of the story that it told. My favorite food on the seder plate was charosets, a mixture of apples, walnuts, and grape juice meant to represent the mortar used at forced construction sites. If you can eat the building materials, I thought, how bad could the work be?

Nor do I blame Hollywood for my Egyptophilia, even though Cecil B. DeMille cast sexy Yul Brenner as Ramses against Charlton Heston’s buff-but-boring Moses in “The Ten Commandments.” My childhood friend Sharon and I would cross our arms and mimic the bald hunk intoning, “So let it be written. So let it be done.”

Brooklyn Museum: Relief of Queen Nefertiti Kissing One of Her Daughters. Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund.
Brooklyn Museum: Relief of Queen Nefertiti Kissing One of Her Daughters

No, I blame my mother—which maybe makes me a typical Jew after all. Every few weeks, before I was old enough to go on my own, my mother would walk with me from our apartment on Lincoln Road down Empire Boulevard to Grand Army Plaza and the Brooklyn Museum. There I came to adore the hushed, high-ceiling Egyptian halls.

I’m sure the serenity of the setting and the shared time with my busy parent, sister free, were part of the appeal. But the alternate universe showcased in those rooms, the grand kingdoms, dynasties, and mysterious hieroglyphs, also grabbed my imagination. I loved the busts with elegant headdresses and exotic names like Hatshepsut–a female pharaoh!—and the clean lines of the towering statues, representing powerful beings who transcended the messiness of everyday life. I was especially drawn to the Wilbour plaque shown above of Akhenaton and Nefertiti, a rare artist’s slab, the label said. I devoured all the books I could find about the Eighteenth Dynasty couple, and about Akhetaten, the city Akhenaten devoted to his revolutionary new religion.

All this is to say, my assignment to update Frommer’s Egypt didn’t come from out of the blue.

My interest in Egypt, always on the back burner, had returned with a mummy-like vengeance when I started working at Prentice Hall Travel (PHT). I regularly tried to convince Marilyn Wood, PHT’s editorial director, that the company needed a new, more in-depth book to supplement Frommer’s Egypt—and that I was the ideal person to write it. As far as I was concerned, there could never be too many Egypt guides.

My persistence paid off. When, in the spring of 1989, about a month after I parted ways with Rough Guides, Marilyn learned that the author of Frommer’s Egypt wanted to take a break from updating her book, she asked me if I wanted to fill in. Naturally I said yes.


Maybe the most memorable part of my Cairo research [for Frommer’s Egypt] was visiting the great pyramid complex at Giza.

Pictures make the necropolis look like it’s in the middle of the desert—and of course it was, at one point. Now, however, Giza is a suburb of Cairo, with the pyramids fringing its outskirts. Picture the Seventh Wonder of the Ancient World at the edge of Queens.

That didn’t detract from the impact of viewing it in the direction of the limestone bluff on which the pyramids sit–or from my excitement at seeing camels, wearing colorful, ornate saddles, clustered around the imposing structures.

I am a sucker for camels. The moment I first looked into their mischievous long-lashed eyes in a crowded Tunis market, I was hooked. There was something about the unlikeliness of their shape, the contrast between their ungainly gait and their innate dignity, that spoke to me. After years of ogling these creatures at zoos, I was excited to learn that camel rides were available at the pyramids.

The camels were all standing placidly, chewing, looking bored, as I approached. The camel drivers next to them were not nearly as placid. A tourist actually seeking out a camel ride must have been a rarity, so a group of men descended on me, pleading, “Lady, you ride my camel, she is the most beautiful and gentle. For you, not expensive.”

Overwhelmed, I finally just chose a guy with a camel that didn’t look depressed and who didn’t have a whip in his hand (the guy, not the camel).

Camels are very tall and even a kneeling one is difficult to mount; the large saddle adds to the height and is awkward to negotiate. When my chosen camel driver—I’ll call him CD—helped me up, his hand grazed my breasts, not a part of the body generally required for leverage. I told myself it was an accident and tried to focus on the fact that I was at the pyramids, about to ride a camel.

After we plodded along for about two minutes, we came to a halt, my camel having decided it was time for a bathroom break and CD having decided it was time for a sales pitch. He said, “I have authentic antiquities, not expensive for you.” I nodded and smiled blandly. “You buy?” he asked. “No, thank you,” I said.

But CD was persistent and I suspected that I would be forced to sit in the midday sun, listening to his spiel and smelling camel poop until I gave in. I looked at the statuettes he had wrapped in a cloth, and finally chose a small one for a large price. “Do not let them see it at customs,” CD warned, explaining that it was illegal to take antiquities out of the country.

“Only if they’re authentic,” I wanted to say. But CD was holding the reigns to my camel, and I really wanted to get out of there. For a change, I kept quiet.

No surprise: as CD helped me off the camel, his hand grazed my breasts again. Maybe he was trying to authenticate them.

I can’t vouch for the antiquities, but this book is the REAL DEAL–travel around the world with Edie who shares adventures from camels to insider info on the travel writing business (including the getting naked part).  If you want to hear more about Edie’s adventures as a travel writer, how about becoming a publisher by helping to finance the book? Join Edie’s KickStarter campaign.

Interview with Allan Karl–3 Years, 5 Continents, 1 Motorcycle

Book Cover: Forks
Book Cover: Forks by Allan Karl

Once writers, musicians, artists were dependent on wealthy sponsors. Then the commercial world took over publishing and distribution of the arts. But a new wave of creative people are taking advantage of the world-wide reach of the Internet to find like-minded people who are willing to help fund their projects.

When I was approached by Allan Karl about his Kickstarter project to publish a book called Forks: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection, based on a motorcycle trip to 35 countries, I was intrigued.  This is not your ordinary travel memoir, as you will learn in this interview. Allan has shared some of the photographs from the book with us here, and the book also  provides you with recipes from many of the countries he visited. Gotta love it–travel, adventure, photography and FOOD.


A Travelers Library:  You have combined a book about a motorcycle trip, a photo book and a cookbook in one.  Since any one of these would keep an author busy, why did you decide to combine the three?

Author Allan Karl
Author Allan Karl

Allan Karl: I planned to write a traditional travelogue/memoir, but when I returned home after three years of travel, I realized that the best way to truly share this incredible journey and the experiences that so moved me was to provide readers with a similar experience.

That is to allow them to see the world through photographs, to feel the world by reading stories of connections and cultures and to taste it the flavors of the world through photos and recipes of real local food.

So this is how, in FORKS, I share the discoveries, cultures and connections I made on my global adventure—stories, color photos and flavors—FORKS brings the world to the readers tables and this adventure to life: the kindness of strangers, beauty of humanity, colors of culture and the powerful gift of human connection.

ATL: How did you choose the countries you visited? I noticed in particular that you visited Syria and it is not a country people are flocking to from the outside right now.  Were you there before the hostilities broke out? Were there other countries that might have been a bit risky to visit?

AK: I have traveled extensively throughout my life, and I truly believe travel is the best way to learn about our world, history, culture, geography and about ourselves, that is, how to be more patient, compassionate and tolerant.

Allan Karl camping in Africa
Camping in the Nubian Desert of Sudan.

I originally planned to travel from Cape Town north along the western Coast of Africa and then into Morocco and to Spain. Along the way, someone shared with me great stories of Ethiopia and the baffling rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and I changed my plan and traveled Cape Town north on the western side of Africa.

Traveling overland is rigorous and, in Africa especially, often rough.

When I set out on this journey I knew I couldn’t simply chose the safe route. For to realize possibilities and expand my worldview, I knew I would have to take chances and step outside my comfort zone. Tired of the constant drip of media and government warnings of dangerous places, I wanted to see for myself.

Pages of Allan Karl's book, FORKS, about Syria.
Pages of Forks about Syria.

I traveled through Egypt just six or so months before Arab Spring, so I wasn’t in Syria near the time of the conflict. Yet what I discovered in Syria, was a country full of friendly people eager to learn about me, my travels and my country as much as I wanted to learn about them. In my book I share the initial frustration I experienced during my nearly 24-hour ordeal to secure a visa for entering Syria.

ATL: I noticed on your Kickstarter page that you said if you felt alone, you just looked around, and there was always someone there. But communicating with someone in a different culture and language can be intimidateing.  Any tips?

Allan Karl meets 105-year-old man
105-year-old-man and family from Lesotho

AK: I’m amazed at how easy it is to connect with people – humanity. Two things that are fail free: First, smile and look into the strangers eyes with warmth and openness. Also important, learn at least one sentence in the local tongue.

The language can be tough. Cause if you spurt out a few words, be prepared for the stranger to unleash a barrage of fast talking and in such a dialect you’ll never understand. But the fact you try to communicate proves your eager to learn and embrace their culture and their language. Learn.

ATL: How many of these countries had you visited previously?

AK: Out of the 35 countries I traveled on this adventure, I’d only been to 3 or 4 of the countries previously—Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.

ATL:  Did you plan an itinerary in detail before you started, or just let chance lead you?

AK: I researched and planned for two years before embarking on this journey. I had an idea of the route I would take, and identified places I wanted to visit. One of my goals on this journey was to visit as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as I could get to. In the end, I visited more than 40, including the more famous like Macchu Pichu as well as the obscure like León, Viejo in Nicaragua.

As I learned more about a region’s history, cultural heritage and taking tips from locals and travelers, I would change plans in a moment. I never had a hotel reservation. I would make sure to visit major cities on a regular basis so that I could service my motorcycle and have better chance of access to spare parts and other necessities.

ATL:  Just yesterday, after watching this video about a musician asking for community funding,  I was wondering why more authors had not taken the Kick Starter Route. Please talk a little about how you decided to do that.

AK: Often, I’m asked “Why Kickstarter?” The answer is simple—and part of my story.

As I mentioned, I had intended to write a traditional travelog or memoir about my journey. But as I traveled, I learned how important it is to connect with people on a deeper level. Most often this happens while sharing conversations and life stories over good food and drink—with locals.

I knew that recipes and photos of the food and the faces and places I visited would be essential and would enhance my stories. The publishing industry thought differently. They wanted that travelog/memoir. Traditional agents and publishers liked the idea for my book, but insisted I simplify it—asking me to remove the food and photos.

So rather than compromise my vision, I decided to go out on the publishing journey just as I did to travel the world–solo.

Kickstarter is perfect for creative projects that step outside that comfort zone, are risky and don’t fit within the self-induced constraints or limits of commercial enterprises. It’s a great way to validate the marketability of such ideas. My Kickstarter project for this book reached its funding goal in just nine days. As of today, and with 5 days to go, I’ve reach nearly 150% of that funding goal. I’m humbled and grateful for the support the crowd-funding community as given me and this project. I think it’s great proof that this idea — this book and message — resonates with people all over the world. I have backers from 11 countries who’ve pledged for copies of the book.

ATL: Final question–the one we ask everyone at A Traveler’s Library–are their any books you have read that inspired you to travel.

Allan Karl's favorite book
Book Cover: Ghost Rider

AK: Perhaps the book that inspired me to travel by motorcycle and opened my mind to the possibilities is a book called “Ghost Rider” by Neil Peart, a well-regarded dummer for the rock n’ roll band RUSH. Over a one year period he lost his only child in a car accident and his wife to cancer. Rather than dip into deep depression, he hopped on his motorcycle and rekindled his broken soul by traveling.

Meet Alan more personally in this video at You Tube or check out his Kickstarter Page.