Growing up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, I never imagined that I would become an award-winning travel writer or publish two books—100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die and May This Be the Best Year of Your Life: A Memoir. Throughout high school and college, I disliked the arduous task of handwriting a first draft and then typing the final version on a manual typewriter. As a freshman, I met my husband, Ira at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and he graciously offered to type many of my undergraduate papers. I attempted to compensate him for his time. Ira refused to cash my check.
Decades later when I successfully completed two master’s degrees— one in Instruction and Curriculum from the University of Colorado—Boulder, and another degree in Jewish Studies from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago, the writing process had been streamlined by modern technology. I no longer needed to waste precious time handwriting a first draft. I typed all of my assignments, including a lengthy master’s thesis. Changes were easily accomplished. My ideas flowed easier with minimal distractions.
My writing skills matured while attending graduate school. However, I didn’t consider a writing career until 2010 when I was an expat in India. Circumstances beyond my control created a once in a lifetime opportunity to leave behind my Colorado version of the American dream and to relocate to Asia. From a 6,000-square foot metro Denver home, I slowly adjusted to a 300-square foot dorm room on the outskirts of Bangalore. The thought of standing face-to-face with monkeys while teaching 5th grade at a notable international boarding school in Bangalore, India was never on my radar.
When I leaped outside my comfort zone, I was a middle aged mother of four children. My youngest son, Jordan was attending the University of Colorado and my other sons—Josh, Adam, and Aaron— were already pursuing their careers. To cope with my unfamiliar situation, I focused on three passions – a desire to travel, a zeal for writing, and a love of teaching.
Since so many unforeseen events were happening so quickly, I felt motivated to share my experiences with others. Sandy’s Travel Blog was launched during my first trip to India. While teaching, I didn’t feel comfortable writing about my fellow teachers or young students in real-time. Instead, I kept notes on my laptop. These written observations came in handy when I shared the lessons I learned about perseverance, travel, education, faith, and family in my memoir, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life.
After returning to the United States, I stopped posting stories to my blog. I created the SandraBornstein.com website as an anchor for my future writing, as well as a social media outlet to promote my book. With a minimal amount of travel opportunities, I found myself reflecting on middle age challenges. Eventually, my writing became more refined and focused. The Traveling Bornsteins website was launched to showcase our travel adventures and to draw more attention to my travel writing.
On the eve of the pandemic, I had an assortment of media opportunities and plenty of travel content. As the travel industry started to grind to a halt, editors stopped accepting new submittals and delayed the publication of previously accepted stories. Destinations and public relations representatives cancelled media opportunities. With so much uncertainty in the marketplace, I knew that I had to rethink my situation.
After listening to a SATW webinar showcasing Reedy Press, I was certain that I had found the solution. If Reedy Press wanted a book about one of my favorite Colorado destinations—Boulder—I would be honored to research and write the book. I was ecstatic when I signed the contract.
Within no time lock downs and COVID restrictions made some onsite visits impossible and in other instances unsafe. Most of my early research revolved around phone calls, email correspondences, and computer searches. As restrictions lifted and the viability of businesses became more apparent, I made onsite visits.
Within less than two months of signing the book contract, Ira was undergoing a craniotomy for his glioblastoma (terminal brain cancer) diagnosis. Many months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed. After decades of marriage, I had to figure out how I could keep Ira strong while he endured and recovered from this assault on his body. Whenever possible, I share some of the things I am learning on this websites’ For Glio page.
After two deadline extensions, I submitted my first draft. I completed the book during a speculative time in world history while I was simultaneously researching ways to help Ira be an outlier. A huge portion of my weekly schedule is spent preparing our foods from scratch.
Adhering to the publisher’s guidelines, I wrote concise vignettes for five distinct categories—Food & Drink, Music & Entertainment, Sports & Recreation, Culture & History, and Shopping and Fashion. My goal was to include a cross section of places appealing to a diverse audience of locals, visitors, college students, and their parents. Hopefully, most people will find it a useful pocket companion to plan outings in Boulder as well as day trips to nearby venues.
Since the publishing of May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, I have received many awards.
- Finalist–Travel/Travel Guide category–2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
- Finalist–Travel Essay category–2013 International Book Awards,
- Finalist 2013– Travel category– National Indie Book Excellence Awards
- Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards
- 4-star rating from Indie Reader Discovery Awards.
I am a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA), the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the International Food Wine Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). Prior to the pandemic, I received these awards:
- Silver Medal (cruise category)—2018 NATJA Travel Writing Competition.
- Gold (culinary) and Silver Medals (culture) and an honorable mention (tips)—2019 NATJA Travel Writing Competition.
As a Colorado-based travel and lifestyle writer, I am always open to connecting with my online audience. Please send an email to email@example.com or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.