Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
As I gingerly step into my seventh decade on planet Earth, I'm filled with dreams and ready for adventure.
When I was younger, I was eager to do it all — earn college degrees, travel widely, run a business, write books, try all sorts of exciting things. I felt a type of urgency, like if I didn't do all this stuff right now, I'd never do it and I'd end up old and full of regrets.
Is that do-it-now urgency a typical aspect of youth? I think it may simply be part of a full and fulfilling life no matter what your age. After all, we live in the now, don't we. While we carry our past with us, and we look forward to tomorrow, the only time we really have is right now to do the things we long for.
In any event, I did all that I'd dreamed of doing. And more. I developed publications for universities, wrote for magazines and even worked as a newspaper editor for a while. I did some skydiving, produced a TV show called "Women Working" at Gill Cable in San Jose, California, and enjoyed interesting friends from California to Main.
Whenever I suffered a major disappointment such as a romantic breakup or a rejection from some publisher, I'd hop in my car (or on a train or airplane) and take a trip. I found travel a great way to relieve emotional pain. So every once in a while I'd be off to Hawaii or New Mexico, or Los Angeles. In a new place, discovering new things, I was totally freed from life's bruises.
And after decades of being a happy single person pursuing adventures all my own, I fell in love with a gangly photographer wearing cowboy boots and a white Stetson. Al Lockwood was bright, funny, well-read, spiritual, artistic and fun.
We met long after college and careers. At the time, we were both living in the western foothills of California's Sierra Nevada Mountains.
He'd retired from a career in engineering to photograph wildflowers growing along mountain trails and cliff-sides. I was, at the time, editor and part owner of a monthly community newspaper.
Al and I clicked. In less than a year we married. What a joyous surprise!
Equally surprising was the love we shared for travel. Shortly after meeting, we discovered that we'd both visited Prague (not on the most popular travel sites at the time). I'd gone there after the Velvet Revolution (which overturned the Communist government, and installed Essayist Vaclav Havel as Czechoslovakia's president). I'd interviewed some of those who took part in the revolution, and had written articles about it all for magazines and newspapers. He'd gone with a group of photographers to explore Old Town and other historically significant areas of the city.
Although Al carries a digital camera, he's quick to point out that he's a film photographer. You know, that roll of plastic stuff that needs to be developed in a wet darkroom, then is used in an old-fashioned enlarger to make paper proof sheets and prints.
His photographs are stunning. Today, he focuses on black and white fine art photos. And he's enamored with antique processes, so he now has a backyard darkroom where he develops film and makes albumen, salt, and Van Dyke prints, just like they did in the 1800s.
We bought a travel trailer and Al converted it to solar power. We drove that sweet little trailer up and down the west coast, visiting Death Valley, Joshua Tree State Park, dozens of Pacific ocean beaches, through the giant redwoods of Northern California and on up into Oregon and Washington. Everywhere we went, we took pictures and kept notes.
And then a serious car accident changed our lives. It happened on an ordinary evening in 2012. Just us in the car heading home after a day at the beach. We were simply sitting at a red-light when a driver paying more attention to her cell phone than to the road, slammed into us at more than 60 miles per hour. The crash totaled our car and hers. Although we were not seriously injured, we were banged up and spent much of the next few weeks at the doctor's office or the pharmacist's.
That crash woke us up to how fragile and temporary life is. You can be doing something as common as sitting at a red-light, and the next thing you know, you could be in the hospital. Or worse, in the morgue.
Because of that wreck, we decided to stop putting off things we planned to do "some day" and start doing them now, while we can. And most of the things we'd been putting off were travel-related.
Our first big trip was a cruise through the Panama Canal. As a retired engineer, Al had long dreamed of seeing in person the greatest engineering fete of the 20th century, the 50-mile stretch of water through Panama, linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The trip was so unforgettable, we wrote a book about it: Cruising Panama's Canal, savoring 5,000 nautical miles and 500,000 decadent calories.
Since that first travel memoir, we've written three others. Each is a daily description of our experiences in such places as Venice, Florence, Rome, Greece, Turkey and Barcelona.
We write mainly for people who love to travel, or those who may put off a dream trip because they're busy with daily obligations. People who may be afraid to take a big trip (like a cruise to Europe) because they fear it's too expensive, or they're worried about being so far away from their doctor, or they think they'll get lost or maybe even robbed.
Young people might put off travel, thinking they'll do it when they're older. But many older people are afraid to make a travel dream come true.
So, no matter what their age, we want to encourage our readers to step out of their everyday life for a week or two or three, and take a chance on excitement, enlightenment and fun.
We want folks to know that travel enhances health and enriches life.
Our dreams don't diminish as we age. They may change. We may mellow. Al and I can no longer visit three galleries and a museum before lunch. And we often take a luxurious nap after lunch. But our gentler pace of travel has given us a deeper, fuller view of things than we had in earlier years.
However, we still feel that urgency to do it now. Because tomorrow is not promised to any of us. So … here's hoping that you find a way to make your travel dreams come true.
And we'll keep exploring our world and sharing what we find.
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Our book Cruising the Mediterranean won Best Nonfiction in the 2016 Seven Sisters Book Awards and the gold medal in the 2016 Wishing Shelf Awards. It was a finalist in Nonfiction Narrative category in the 2017 Best Book Awards.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Our book "Cruising the Atlantic" is about cruising from Barcelona to Miami on a mega ship (Norwegian Cruise Line's Epic). Like our other travel memoirs, it was inspired by the trip we took.
Cruising across the Atlantic Ocean is quite an experience. You get a good idea of how huge the ocean is.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I write almost every day.
I know that lots of other writers fit their writing in around other things — jobs, child-rearing, school, etc.
But I'm retired from a regular job, and I love to write (and our readers seem to like what we write) so I write almost every day. And sometimes I write all day long.
Of course when we're traveling, I simply take notes (by hand in a spiral notebook).
Al takes notes on his ipad.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
We read voraciously!
Al reads thrillers. I read nonfiction. Together we read fiction, nonfiction, historical books, devotionals, academic tomes, classics (like Pilgrim's Progress and Huckleberry Finn).
As to travel memoirs like the ones we write, I think John Steinbeck's Travels With Charlie is the most influential. We also loved Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon.
What are you working on now?
We're writing two books about cruising on the Mississippi River in a genuine paddlewheeler.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Our ebooks sell in the Kindle Direct Publishing program at Amazon.com
Through that program, we offer a book for free every month or so. Our giveaways introduce our work to new readers. And if they like our books, they tend to buy the ones that are not free.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Get honest feedback on your work either from a writing group or writing club, or from beta readers.
Write the best book you can. Then make it even better. Then hire a professional editor and under her/his guidance make it even better.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Learn from the best. Read the writers who are the best in their field and learn from them.
What are you reading now?
"Incidents in the life of a slave girl written by herself" by Harriet A. Jacobs
"The brother of Jesus" by Hershel Shanks & Ben Witherington III
"Dead Wake" by Erik Larson
"Words that sell" by Richard Bayan
What’s next for you as a writer?
I've done some short stories.
I think what I'd like to do next is a novel. I have an idea that I think would make a good novel. We'll see if anything comes of it.
What is your favorite book of all time?
There are so many that I love ….
Can't choose just one. Impossible.
Author Websites and Profiles
Sunny & Al lockwood Amazon Profile
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