Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Australian Freelance Journalism Conference is this weekend...

I'm leaving on a jet plane...

this afternoon for Sydney for the Australian Freelance Journalism Conference.

Unless I can find a computer (don't have a laptop to take) I'll not be posting again until Monday...

See you then...

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Weekly 5 Top Blog Posts for Writers…

1. 13 Simple Journalist techniques for Effective Interviews

2. 10 More Ways to Create a Breakthrough in Your Life

3. Podcast: What Does a Ghostwriters do?

4. Interview with Suzanne Zoglio - author of Recharge In Minutes: Quick Lift Way to Less Stress, More Success, and Renewed Energy!

5. 7 (+) 1 Habits of a Highly Effective Freelance Writer

Plus One: Must Visit Website Reference for Writers

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer: Rudy Maxa

Today I’m talking with Rudy Maxa, award winning travel writer, radio personality (The Savvy Traveler 1997-2001) and TV presenter (Smart Travels). His travel articles have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers around the world, including Washington Post, GQ, Travel & Leisure and Forbes. Rudy is also a contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler and frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel.

Hi , Rudy and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for finding some time in your busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.

1. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get started in writing ?

Yes, I always knew I'd be a reporter. I hand-printed my first newspaper when I was nine years old, living on an Army post in the southern state of Kentucky. I reported on a VERY minor car accident that happened in front of my home. I was an editor of my high school paper and chose my college, Ohio University, because it had a great daily paper. In my fourth and last year in college, I was editor of that paper and then joined The Washington Post as an intern. Through luck, I became a reporter there, and I stayed there for 13 years as an investigative reporter and magazine writer (for the paper's Sunday magazine).

2. What do you consider your first "break" as a travel writer ?

I'd never intended to be a travel writer. About 15 years ago, when I was a senior writer and columnist at the monthly city magazine in Washington, DC, The Washingtonian, I was asked to do political commentary for a national business radio show called "Marketplace" on National Public Radio, our sort-of equivalent of BBC. I declined, but the producer kept asking me to do some kind of regular commentary. I have always traveled constantly, and I was always the one at a dinner party who knew the arcane rules of airline ticketing.

So I suggested a segment called "The Savvy Traveler", an every two-week, two-minute consumer travel commentary. That became very popular, and I began to be asked by magazines to write on consumer travel issues. Then that short commentary segment led to a national, one-hour radio show called "The Savvy Traveler" I co-created that and hosted it for four years while continuing to write for many magazines and newspapers.

Gradually, travel journalism became my full-time focus, and I left Washingtonian magazine after nine years. While doing the radio show, I began to host a half-hour series on national television called "Smart Travels: Europe with Rudy Maxa." We did 52, half-hour episodes, all in High Definition format. In fact, we were public television's first HD series. Last year, our fifth season featured Pacific Rim destinations, including two shows on New Zealand.

3. As a writer and traveler, what are the biggest challenges you face on the road ?

Other than airport security lines, I think technological challanges are the biggest hurdles I face. Will my cell phone work in Japan? (Usually, no.) Can I get a reliable, high-speed connection for my laptop? Why can't I figure out how to set the flash settings on my new, digital camera? That kind of stuff. It's funny, but the era of instant communication has brought with it it's own set of problems.

4. What do you enjoy most and least about writing The MaxaBlog ? What do you see as the future for 'travel blogs' ?

I am afraid to say I write on my blog irregularly. First of all, I don't get paid to write on my blog, so the incentive is always to complete paying assignments first. But the blog is handy for "showing the flag," as I call it. I can react quickly to sales, travel outrages, or news. I think eventually, like everything else on the web, the blogs that are accurate, trusted, and consistently interesting will outlast other, more amateur ones. I think blogs are certainly here to stay.

5. What advice would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing? Any tips to breaking into national travel magazines?

Write, write, write and then write some more. Read travel magazines you want to write for so you can learn what kinds of articles they want. Read writers you like. Then look at how they structured their stories. Figure out what they had to do to get the stories and quotes. Write for local papers or other outlets--you'll probably need to do that so you have a file of clips before a national or international publication will hire you, even as a free-lance writer. Then you have to write a great query letter--short but clever--in order to catch the attention and curiosity of an editor.

Rudy, again thanks for your time and for sharing your thoughts.


Previous interviews: Shannon Hurst Lane, Wendy Perrin, David Whitley

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Tuesday Question ???

There is no ‘Tuesday Question’ today. Why? Because today is my birthday and the only question I want answered - How come each birthday seems to come around quicker each year? - no one can answer. Well, you can try…

Can you remember when you stopped looking forward to adding another year to your age?

When someone asked me how old I was at 6, I’d reply ‘almost 7’ or ‘6 and three quarters’. I couldn’t wait to get to 7 and then 8 and then 9...

Then I became an 'adult’ and adding numbers to my age didn’t seem so great. Except for some reason I thought it would be great to be 30. I had this idea that when you get to 30, your life would be all set and perfect.

But at 30 I discovered life wasn’t perfect, nor would it be. You can have slices of perfection in your life, but a perfect life… maybe that’s just one for the movies.

So don’t ask how old I am, I won’t tell … I stopped counting a long time ago. These days, I see each birthday as a celebration to start another year of possibilities…

My birthday present - a trip over to Sydney at the end of the week to attend The Australian Journalism Conference

I'm also hoping for one of these…

Meanwhile, I’m off to a champagne brunch … maybe being an adult is not that bad after all…

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Travel Photography Contest...

Hot of the press: I found this over at Gadling

Travel Photography Contest

Let’s Go, a travel guide company, is sponsoring their first ever travel photography contest. They are looking for submissions to use as cover art for their 2008 series of updated travel books.

Books that they are planning on updating include Europe, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, France, Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain & Portugal, London, Amsterdam, and USA.

Submission guidelines - send photo with your name, contact details, location and date of photo and a signed copy of their Terms and Conditions to photo contest@let’s Deadline is April 15, 2007.

If your photograph is selected for a cover, then you will receive a copy of the book.

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Travel writing contest at Matador Travel Community...

I found this at Written Road.

Travel Writing and Photography Contest

Matador Travel Community describes itself as ‘a hip, new, vibrant community for people interested in travel, music & art, writing & photography, sports, and positive global development’. They just announced their first ever travel writing and photography contest.

Anyone can enter. Here’s a few of the guidelines:

* must be original previously unpublished work
* length should be 1,000-2,000 words
* each entry should also have at least three photos

Contest runs until May 15th and entries can be emailed as word attachments (photos as jpg files) to Winner announced on June 1st.

More details here.

My advice - check out their site and read some of the articles already posted to get a feel of the type of writing and topics they are looking for. Two good things about this contest - there is no entry fee and the prize is $500. The bad news is there will be only one winner...

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spend a day at the (Blog) Carnival….

I was over at Sheila’s new blog, Kid Trippin’, to see how things were going and ended up at the carnival. Sheila’s post Run Away and Join the (Blog) Carnival whetted my appetite to find some new blogs and interesting articles.

What did I find? There are carnivals for every taste - food, travel, business, health and fitness, pets, etc, etc

And then there are the writing carnivals. Check these out:

The Writers Block Carnival
Carnival for Book Writers
Writerly Types (this is a new one)

Got any posts worth sending to the carnival…then go for it…I am...

(image by

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lookin for ways to boost your brain power...

When the words don’t flow or the ideas won’t come, what do you do?

A. Sit in front of the computer screen with your head in your hands.
B. Run to cookie jar.
C. Curl up on the sofa and watch cartoons.
D. Light up the aromatherapy burner.

If you answered D, then you’re on the right track to waking up the brain and reinvigorating your creativity. According to a recent post at SmartKit website, aromatherapy will help boost brain power.

- try rosemary, jasmine, and ginger for increased alertness
- lavender for reducing deadline anxiety and stress
- peppermint and eucalyptus for increase cognitive performance
- citrus can be used to help energize

So choose your oil and start the engines in your brain...

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Mr. Magazine goes blogging...

If you’re trying to keep up with the latest happenings in the magazine world, look no further than Mr. Magazine’s new blog. In recent months, Samir Husni has relaunched his website and started a blog that provides up-to-date information about the magazine industry.

This guy, considered America’s leading magazine expert, knows what he’s talking about. A Professor at the University of Mississippi and CEO of Magazine Consulting & Research, he’s been publishing the annual Samir Husni’s Guide to New Magazines for the past 22 years.

Other places to find out about magazine changes, launches, and demises include Wooden Horse Publishing (where you can also find guidelines and editorial calenders) and MagCulture blog…

Photo by Coffeefloat

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Weekly 5 Top Blog Posts for Writers

1. How to…Blaze Your Blog- a New Zealand article about the why and how of creating a readable blog (includes quotes from me)

2. Renegade Writer Q&A: David Allen - The author of Getting Things Done (The Art of Stress Free Productivity) has a lot to say about creating an efficient work space and minimizing distractions.

(want to read more about GTD and David Allen, the LifeClever blog has a posted a roundup of 17 interviews)

3. 10 Sure-Fire ways To Fail As A Freelance Writer - this short post covers all the bases on things not to do.

4. Overwhelmed By Post Ideas? 10 tips to Help You Choose What to Publish

5. WIW Marketing Seminar Highlights (Part 4) - this four part series by Kristen makes you feel like you were at the seminar. Some very valuable stuff here about marketing and branding

Plus one: Write What You Want

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Part Two of ‘Insider Writing Success Tips’ posted…

Yvonne, over at Grow Your Own Business, has posted Part Two of ‘Insider Writing Success Tips’. I don’t know how she does it but she makes me sound so much wiser than I think I am…

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Interview with a Travel Writer: Shannon Hurst Lane

Today I’m talking with Shannon Hurst Lane, a Louisiana based travel writer, and founder of, an educational family travel site. She produces a monthly newsletter, Travel Writing Tips, and has written The Lane Method (The Definitive Guide to Travel Writing). Plus she has recently signed on as presenter and travel expert for The Around Town TV Show.

Hi, Shannon and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts on travel writing.

1. Did you always want to be a writer ?

I don't know if I always aspired to be a writer, but I definitely had a strong interest in the Arts. As a child, I used to make up stories in my mind and illustrate those stories in my school notebook. The problem was, this usually happened in Math class. I did well in my language classes and creative writing, but my forte was music. I ended up majoring in Music Education at University, but found that career choice to be low-paying and took a job in the fire service to hold me over until I could decide what I wanted to do with my life. That was thirteen years ago.

2. How did you get started in writing ?

I've always been an avid reader and had this dream in the back of my mind of being a famous romance writer. Working in the fire service is a far cry from that profession. Fortunately, the internet has provided so much access to learn about the craft of writing. I mentioned my desire to write to my hairstylist one day and she revealed to me to plan she had for a local lifestyle magazine. We worked on this project for a few months, along with the help of the editor of the local weekly paper. He expressed a need for article assistance, as he had no freelance budget. The offer was made to teach me the newspaper business in exchange for articles. Of course, the magazine never went to print, but I gained a portfolio of clips from the newspaper.

3. What do you consider your first big 'break' as a travel writer?

When I started freelance writing, I had never really heard of a travel writing. I came across a few sites that introduced me to this genre, and suddenly, a whole new world opened up. Some people might consider their first "break" a writing gig. I consider mine my first press trip invitation. I had no idea that places sponsored writers in this area. I had heard of press junkets in the movies industry, but I thought it was contained to that industry. When I received an email asking if I would be interested in traveling to a Caribbean island to experience the culture and the renovations of a hotel, I thought it was a joke or a timeshare sell. I called the contact number and asked, "How much is this going to cost me?" When the contact replied, "Just gratuties and incidentals. Airfare, meals, and lodging are all included," I almost peed in my pants. I honestly didn't think it was real until my air tickets and itinerary were overnighted to me. I learned so much on that trip from the other writers that were in attendance, and also from the PR rep that put the trip together. I've placed storied about that particular destination over and over.

4. As a traveler and writer, what are the biggest challenges you face on the road ?

I don't know if my challenges are actually on the road. I've already mastered packing light and making sure I have all the equipment I need. I make sure I have extra memory card for my camera and small little notepads to take notes. I keep a separate journal for each trip I embark on. When I am able to, I bring my laptop. This helps me keep in touch with people while on the road.

My biggest challenge I face as a traveler and a writer is actually at home. I'm a wife, and a mother of two, plus I still have a full time position with the fire service. I am fortunate that my husband is a big help with the responsibility of kids. I try to give each child, and the hubby, plenty of attention before I leave for a trip. There is also that "mother guilt" I feel when I am planning the trips. However, as soon as I am dropped at the airport, I get those butterflies of excitement in my stomache. I'm a travel junkie.

5. . You've recently set up a travel site,, that focuses on educational travel with kids. Tell us about Gifted Travel and how it came about.

I spend so much time away from my family when I travel, that I wanted to work on a project that would include my children. My son is in the Gifted Program at his school, so in doing some market research, I found that there isn't a whole lot out there in regards to educational travel for kids. I submitted a book proposal for "Traveling with your Gifted Child" to various publishing companies, one of which took an interest. They kept leading me on for about six months, asking for chapter after chapter. After all that time, they declined, stating that the book ws a very good idea, the book needed almost NO editing, but that they didn't want to publish a travel book which would require updating after a few years. It was not cost-effective for them. So, I took the concept to the internet. I expanded the destinations to include worldwide places of interest instead of limiting the site to the US.

Freelance writing can be a thankless career, so I took out a small loan to provide a small payment to writers who submit to the site. It is proving to be quite an expense for me, so I hope that ad sales start coming in. However, with all the fantastic writing that is being submitted, I have high hopes that the site will be able to continue to offer free information to consumers.

6. What advice can you give aspiring travel writers ?

Don't quit you day job. The restrictions of a a full time job can put a damper on your travel writing career, but it can sometimes take months to get payment from publications. You will have alot less stress if you know you have money to pay your bills. You can't query publications if your electricity is cut off.

Start with your own back yard. Write about where you live before you begin traveling the world. It will help you establish yourself in this industry and it will be easier on your pocketbook in the beginning.

Be honest in your assesment of a place. Yes, I do accept comps and press trips. I am not independently wealthy, and as most publications these days do not cover expenses, it makes business sense to save money where you can. However, accepting a press trip or comp does not mean you are required to write about the sponsor or even write favorably about the sponsor.

Buy my book, "The Definitive Guide to Travel Writing." (shameless plug) Seriously, I have listed everything I learned about travel writing in this book.

Network. I have made so many friends and contacts in this business by networking. There is nothing wrong with making new friends.

Most of all, HAVE FUN. If you can't enjoy what you are doing, then you need to be doing something else. It doesn't mean every moment will be exciting, but your overall experience is one you enjoy, then go for it.

7. Finally, what is your favorite place and why?

Liz, it doesn't matter where I go in the world, my favorite place is always home. Like Dorothy says, "There's no place like home."


Previous interviews: Wendy Perrin, David Whitley

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

'Grow Your Writing Business' features interview with me...

Check out the latest post at Grow Your Writing Business - ‘Insider Writing Success Tips’. It features an interview that Yvonne Russell did with me, as well as many practical tips for freelance writers.

In the post, Yvonne calls me a ‘blogstar‘… wow… thanks Yvonne.

But like I said in the post comments, I'm no star - I simply decided to ‘stop treading water and start swimming’ toward my goal of becoming a freelance writer...

Reaching your goals is all about faith, belief, and determination. Not to mention a lot of blood, sweat, and a large consumption of coffee and chocolate.

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The Tuesday Question: Have You Discovered 'The Secret' Yet?

The Tuesday Question: Have you read The Secret? What do you think? Is it all hype or the real deal?

I spent last weekend reading The Secret. A friend, who knew I'm sucker for self-help books, loaned me a copy. Needless to say, I was hooked. It’s not that there is anything new in this beautifully edited book. The usual topics - positive thinking and visualization - are at the forefront. In fact, I’ve already been using a lot of these techniques to create my writing career.

The Secret is based on the laws of attraction - that like attracts like. So if you spend time think in negative thoughts, these will attract more negative thoughts. The idea, of course, is to spend all your time thinking positive thoughts, which will attract more positive thoughts. Like I said, nothing new here. But still I will be reading and reading The Secret to remind me of techniques that can help my writing career evolve.

I’m off to create visual board now, as recommended in the book. What am I going to put on it? Mock-up covers of National Geographic Traveler and Conde Nast Traveler with ‘written by Liz Lewis’ under the feature article title. Then I can stare at it everyday and visualize it happening….

Want to know what others are saying (both good and bad) about The Secret? Check these links out.

Denise Mann at WebMD asks ‘The Secret: Is It the Real Deal?

Jerry Alder at Newsweek focuses on Decoding 'The Secret'

The Oprah Winfrey Show spent time Discovering the Secret

Greg Beato at Reason Magazine looks at The Secret of The Secret

Salon looks at Oprah’s Ugly Secret (this article got 630 letters/comments)

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Stressed? Try Laughter Yoga...

Are you stressed ? Deadlines coming up too fast? Juggling too many assignments? Then you need to take a breathe and laugh, cause everyone knows that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ especially at times of stress.

Good solid, hearty sustained laughter works the heart, diaphragm, abdominal and facial muscles - a complete aerobic workout. That sure beats getting on exercise bike for 10 minutes. Plus it puts you in a happy place…

Laughing for the sake of laughing, however, it not something that comes naturally. Most of us need a trigger - a joke, funny movie or sitcom, etc.

Laughter Yoga teaches how to laugh without triggers. Founded by Madan Kataria, an Indian medical doctor, it is one of the fastest growing health and fitness movements in the world. So if you can imagine yourself standing around in a group of strangers, laughing your head off, head over to the Laughter Yoga to find a club near you…. And let me know how you get on.(Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha…..)

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Travel Writing Workshops this summer...

Got some time,a bit of money, and a desire to travel. Want to learn more about travel writing?. Then these workshops might be just the thing for you this summer…Sure wish I could go, but not going to happen…(this year)

Travel, Food, and Wine Writing Class
May 27 - June 1, 2007, in St. Emilion, France

You’re based in the historic French town of St. Emilion, surrounded by vineyards and fine restaurants. There is the opportunity for behind-the-scenes tours and interviews. The catch - you have to take a six day travel writing course. Sounds like a pretty good catch to me. Led by Nicholas O’Connell, writer and founder of Seattle based The Writer’s Workshop, this class provides expert instruction on how to break into the travel, food, and writing niche. Cost $2400 (with accommodation).

Paris Writing Workshop
July 2-27, 2007

Imagine living in Paris for a month, drinking French wine, exploring one of the most beautiful cities, and learning how to become a better travel writer. It can be done - just sign up for the Creative Non-fiction workshop led by Rolf Potts. With one-on-one guidance, you’re guaranteed to walk away with a portfolio of at least one article ready for publication. Cost: $3,800 (with accommodation).

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Trouble Sleeping? Read a Book…

Having trouble sleeping ? Don’t worry, you‘re not alone. Apparently more than 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep conditions. And that number doesn‘t include those of us simply sleep deprived because we short change ourselves over the amount of sleep we need. Not a good move. According to an article by Dr Ellen Weber, ‘More industrial disasters are caused by sleep deprivation than most people realize’.

Want to get help? Then read a book. A search of reveals that they stock over 7,000 self help books on sleeping. No matter what your sleep problem, there is probably a book there for you.

The latest one out, The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep by Lawrence Epstein, M.D, provides readers with a six point plan to improve their sleep. They are:

• Recognizing the importance of a good night’s sleep
• Adopting a healthy lifestyle
• Maintaining good sleep habits
• Creating the optimal sleep environment
• Watching out for sleep saboteurs
• Seeking help for persistent sleep problems

Common sense, you would think. But it’s amazing how many people fail to follow these steps….including me.

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

What's so important about headlines?

I’ve never given much thought to the headlines I use on my blog. I’ll type up what I have to say and then make up something for the title box. Often, it has no keywords. Sometimes, you might not even be able to figure out what the headline had to do with the post.

But since I’ve been blogging over at Alzheimer’s Notes, I’ve had to pay attention to my headlines. Why? Because it seems headline are important.

Headlines are important because we live in world where everything is scanned. We scan headlines and make a snap decision as to whether or not to read the article. It’s always been this way to a degree. But since the advent of RRS feeds, Bloglines, and Google Readers, it’s gotten worse.

Headlines, apparently, are what Google and all the other search engines go by. If your headline doesn’t clearly state its topic, for example Alzheimer‘s, somewhere in the headline, people searching for this topic might never find your post.

Obviously, I’ve been missing something here. I’ll have to start considering my headlines, well at least over the other blog. This one will probably stay the same…

Meanwhile, for anyone interested in creating captivating headlines, check out the following links:

Copyblogger has 10 Surefire Headline Formulas that Work

Dave writes about The Importance of Good Blog Entry Titles

Brave New Traveler has come up with 5 Ways to Craft Brilliant Travel Blog Headlines

Chris debates Witty vs descriptive headlines - what works best?

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wendy Perrin's 'Newest Pen Pals'

Julie from A Mingling of Tastes left a comment on yesterday's post asking whether the interview with Wendy Perrin was a result of being a runner-up on her ‘Where in the World is Wendy?’ contest. It was.

I’m not one to let an opportunity slip through my fingers, so at the end of the contest I simply asked Wendy if she would be interviewed for my blog. To my surprise, she said yes. Which just goes to show, anything is possible if you try…

By the way, I (along with Sheila from Family Travel) and three others who I only know by the names LoriB, Tracker1312, and CoralsO are now Wendy’s ‘Newest Pen Pals’. Seems anything can happen in the blogosphere…

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Weekly 5 Top Posts for Writers

1. Tips for using images in blogs- finding images to use on blog posts has become much more important to me since I started posting at Alzheimer’s Notes. This article provides clear instructions on how to get the photos from Flickr onto your blog.

2. Better ways to re-hash other peoples content - how many times have you come up with a great post idea to find someone else has just posted about it. This article addresses ways to ‘re-hash’ used ideas.

3. Ask Why?
- activate your brain by asking ‘why’.

4. Steps to Faster Writing refresher on writing quickly and effectively.

5. Build the scaffolding, use it and then take it down - interesting post on building a story.

Plus one more: You Ask, We Answer: Where can I find real people sources?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer: Wendy Perrin

Today I’m talking with Wendy Perrin, Consumer News Editor, travel writer, columnist (The Perrin Report), and blogger (The Perrin Post) for Conde Nast Traveler magazine. She is also the author of Smart Secrets Every Traveler Should Know (Fodor,, 1997), which, believe it or not, was turned into a Broadway review.

Hi Wendy and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to stop and talk.

1. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get started in writing?

No, I did not always want to be a writer. When I was 8 I dreamed of being a champion figure skater. I guess my first experience in journalism was as editor of The Trinity Times (my school newspaper) as a high-school senior at Trinity School in NYC. I got started at Conde Nast Traveler Magazine as an editorial asst in 1989.

2. What do you consider your first big ‘break’ as a travel writer?

Perhaps the watershed event that means the most to me was in 1995, when I wrote a story about how to pick the perfect hotel room. The magazine liked it so much they made it the cover story. It was my first feature article (as opposed to Stop Press news story) and also my first cover story.

3. As a traveler and writer, what are the biggest challenges you face on the road?

Good question. My biggest challenge during trips is trying to relax and enjoy myself and maybe take just 5 minutes to lie on a beach or nurse an espresso. It rarely happens (much to my husband's chagrin), as I am busy virtually every minute taking notes, investigating, testing, calculating, interviewing fellow travelers, trying to eek as many stories as possible, and the best stories possible, out of my trip. Oh, and now I blog during trips too--another time suck.

4. What do you enjoy most and least about writing The Perrin Post blog ?

Another good question. What I enjoy most is being able to write without going through the magazine's frustratingly time-consuming production process, which means having to spend literally days of your time going back and forth with the Copy Department, the Research Department, the Art Department, the Photo Department, the Production Department, etc. The blog is so much quicker. Plus my advice can be so much timelier. And I love the IMMEDIATE reader feedback. And of course I can get many more points across, as there is unlimited space online.
What do I like least? Not having enough time for the blog because of my full-time magazine responsibilities.

(comment from Liz: If anyone thinks that blogging under the umbrella of a large publishing company makes things easier and simplier, check out Wendy’s post Blogging about Blogging about Blogging).

5. What advice can you give aspiring travel writers?

Advice: Be honest. Tell it exactly like it is. The best way to do that is to travel incognito and never accept anything free or discounted from any travel company. This is how to build up a following of readers who trust you.

6. Finally, what is your favorite place and why?

My favorite country is New Zealand because of its beauty (it's like taking the world's great landscapes--the Swiss Alps, the Cotswolds, French wine country, the lush jungles of Jamaica, California's coastline--and rolling them into one), its uncrowdedness (there are more sheep than people), its yummy food and fresh produce (even the potato chips are so flavorful that they make U.S. chips taste like cardboard), and its incredibly friendly people and sane lifestyle. Plus you gotta love that Zorb thing.

(comment from Liz: anyone unfamiliar with Zorbing, check this out)


Wendy, I really appreciate you stopping by and talking with me. Look forward to reading more of your writing at Conde Nast Traveler and The Perrin Post...


Previous interviews: David Whitley

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Tuesday Question - Who has time for a ‘Second Life’???

Maybe I’m a little slow, but why would you want a 'Second Life'? I’m having a hard enough time keeping up with my first one. But Second Life has caught on and is going strong….

The Tuesday Question: What is the Second Life and why would you want one? Can anyone out there explain it to me? Do you have a Second Life?

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Chinese Lantern Festival

Went to the Chinese Lantern Festival yesterday evening.

Hosted by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, this festival celebrates the Chinese New Year - this time the ‘Year of the Pig’. A good year, I say. Why? Because I was born in the year of the Pig. (Pig Years are: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995 and 2007)

According to Chinese horoscope, those born in the year of the Pig are:

“…splendid companions, intellectual with a very strong need to set difficult goals and carry them out. They are sincere, tolerant, and honest but by expecting the same from others and can be na├»ve at times.

Pig people enjoy social gatherings of all kind and look for parties to attend. Their quest for material goods and incessant pursuit of pleasure could be their downfall.

Pig people make excellent entertainers or lawyers..”


Well, if the horoscope says it, it must be true…don’t think I’d make much of a lawyer though. I failed Legal Systems 101 my first year of college…

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

De-cluttering a Writer's Desk...

My desk is a mess. It might give the impression of a busy working writer. But all it’s doing is giving me a headache. I can’t find anything. Even the desktop itself is out of reach. Drastic action is required.

Not to worry. I have a plan. Welcome to ‘Liz’s 7 Ways of De-cluttering a Writer’s Desk’.

(1) Sort mail and toss junk as as soon as it arrives (good advice for email as well)

(2) Use a ’in progress’ and a ‘finished’ basket to file papers.

(3) Keep a ‘reading’ folder of material I want to read in the future. Schedule time each week to read and empty (re-file) folder.

(3) Stop writing on scraps of paper and get a single notebook to record all ‘instant thoughts of genius’, statistics, addresses, phone number etc. It’s much easier to flick through a notebook than sift through collections of papers.

(4) Choose one day a week to file away all papers in the finished basket.

(5) Never leave unfinished projects sitting on the desk. When writing session completed, replace all papers in to folder and replace in ‘in progress’ basket.

(6) Keep nothing on your desk unless absolutely necessary. The sign of a productive writer’s desk should be a clear desktop.

(7) Dust and polish the desk once a week.

Think it will work….

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Who I am....My Visual DNA

I found this over at Writer in the Making and just had to try it out...

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A Writer's desk...

I only wish my desk was this organised….

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Bloggers unite the world...

Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?

Have you discovered Global Voices Online yet?

No - then head over and check it out. I spent a few hours there the other day and was amazed at the number of countries listed. This is the place to go for a different world perspective. I learnt more about Saudi Arabia thought and culture through blogs listed here than I did when I lived there for a year…

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Blogging at Alzheimer's Notes...

Yesterday was my first day as a paid blogger. I’m officially signed up and ready to write for Alzheimer’s Notes, a b5Media blog. I’ll be co-blogging with Mary Emma Allen, who has been maintaining the blog for the past couple of years. Mary Emma has first hand knowledge of caring for relatives with Alzheimer’s Disease. I, on the other hand, have only professional knowledge on the subject. So it will be a good fit. I’m looking forward to delving into the confusion that is Alzheimer’s Disease.

Stop by, tell me what you think. Tips and pointers are appreciated. I’m trying to learn how WordPress works - I’m only used to Blogger. I’m going to have to learn how to tag and categorize (something I never quite picked up on yet). But that’s okay, I’m good at learning….this will be fun!!!

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Weekly 5 Top Blog Posts for Writers...

1. Blogging about Blogging about Blogging - interesting post about links and blogging. And for anyone who thinks that those blogging for large magazines have a headstart, make sure you read the last paragraph of the post.
2. Don’t Know What you Want? - try these visualization techniques to help you get where you want to go.

3. Discipline is an Illusion: Motivate Yourself Instead - discipline is nothing without having motiviation behind it.

4. The Roundup Article - great post what a roundup article is and how to come up with ideas - while the focus is on writing a general travel article, this information can be used for any writing niche.

5. Who Has Questions? - This successful freelance writer and book author is calling out for questions. Got a question to do with writing, go ask Allison.

Plus one more - Check out the latest Writers on the Rise newletter which is full of great articles and columns.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer - David Whitley

In the introduction to their book, Query Letters that Rock, Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell write that ‘if you want to be successful, watch the successful.’ So that’s what I’m doing…

Welcome to a new (hopefully) weekly post called ‘Interview with a Travel Writer’.

Today, I’m talking with David Whitley a travel writer with a long list of magazine and newspaper credits - The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Traveller, The Sun-Herald (Sydney), The Italian Magazine.

(UPDATE 2008: David is now The European Insider for Ninemsn)

Hi David, welcome to the 'My Year of Getting Published' blog.

1. Did you always want to be a writer ? How did you get started in writing ?

Well, creative writing was always my favourite subject in primary school if that counts… I’d always had half an eye on going into journalism I guess, although if you ask me why I’ll look at you blankly, shrug my shoulders and say: “Ummm, I dunno.” I did a journalism degree at university, and it went from there.

2. What do you consider your first big 'break' as a travel writer?

Travel writing is something I almost fell into by accident. I edited the student newspaper at university, and we were offered free interrailing tickets if we put in a regular travel page. I fancied a free holiday, so in it went. Shamelessly corrupt, I know… The pieces I did for that page ended up winning me the Guardian’s Student Travel Writer of the Year award, and just before I left I started doing some freelance work for FHM. For some reason, they kept giving me travel stuff to do.

3. As a traveller and writer, what are the biggest challenges you face on the road ?

I’m certainly more of a writer who travels than a traveller who writes. I can get lost anywhere, I’m hopeless with languages, and I often just feel that I can’t be bothered going to see another ‘wonderful’ attraction. The biggest challenges on the road, I find, are keeping the energy levels up and the loneliness at bay. Even just walking round cities, you can cover an incredible distance every day, and it gets tiring. Meanwhile, I’ll usually be out there on my own, barely speaking a word of the language. This effectively means a week or so of not properly talking to a soul. I’ll sometimes stay in hostels rather than hotels just because it’s easier to meet people.

4. What do you enjoy most and least about writing for Suite 101?

Well, if that was all I was doing, I’d be starving, put it that way. I see it as a long term business strategy – get as much content up there as quickly as possible and watch it earn money over a period of years. This it will do over time, but it’s a numbers game. The more I can rattle off the better. I enjoy being able to write about whatever I like, but I’ve also found that it’s had other benefits. For a start, I now know a lot more about web writing. I’ve also won a couple of very good commissions from another site that contacted me through Suite101, and I’ve found that doing it has improved the speed I write at. Because I’m bashing out pieces in half an hour for that, I’ve found that speed is translating to other projects – more typing and less procrastination.

(Anyone interested in writing online travel articles shoud check out David’s collection at Suite 101)

5. What advice can you give aspiring travel writers wanting to get articles published in magazines and newspapers ?

This may sound harsh, but learn to write. There is so much average travel writing out there that if you want to be noticed, yours has to be good. It’s hard enough just getting a response from editors, so to do so you have to have something distinctive to offer. Secondly, it’s a business, and you should treat it as such. Yes, it may be a nice lifestyle travelling for a living, but it’s that ‘living’ part that’s crucial. If you’re not earning enough from it, then I’m afraid you’re not doing it right.

6. Finally, what is your favourite place and why ?

Very tough call, but I’d have to go for Sydney. I lived there for five years, and one day I’ll be back for more.

Thanks David, for your time and thoughts...

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Tuesday Question???

They say that music can enhance creativity. All I know is that I write better when the music’s playing. And when I’m really stuck for words, I put on Mozart. Somehow that seems to relax the brain and pull out the words. What about you?

The Tuesday Question: What’s your background noise? Does music help or hinder ? Any particular music help the word blocks?

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Carnival of Cities #2...

I had planned on submitting a post from my Travel New Zealand to the latest Carnival of Cities but never quite found the time - probably because I’m spending way too much time reading all the blogs in the blogosphere.

But I’m glad I stopped over that Home Turf Media and checked out the latest carnival. Otherwise, I would have missed my latest great blog find - Walking Prescott. Remember the saying ‘a picture is a worth a thousand word’. This blog proves it.

A lesson for travel writers everywhere…let your pictures do the talking...

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The Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing…

Travelers’ Tales, publishers of highly entertaining travel books such as ’Sand in my Bra and Other Misadventures’ announced on March 1, 2007 the winners of their first Solas Awards for the Best of Travel Writing. The competition attracted 300 entries from around the world.

Grand Prize for Best Travel Story of the Year

Gold ($1000)
Fishing with Larry by Tom Joseph

Silver ($750)
Flamenco Form by Nancy Penrose

Bronze ($500)
Castles in the Sky by Jennifer Baljko

You can also check out the full list of winners and honourable mentions.

Wonder if I can come up with a travel story to submit for the next Solas Awards. Deadline for submissions is 1 September 2007, so there’s plenty of time to choose a category and write a story…

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Alternative Travvies Awards....

I hadn’t realized it until the British newspaper, The Guardian Unlimited, pointed it out. But all the winners of the first ever Travvies Awards were American based travel blogs.

But that’s okay. Anyone wanting their travel blogs to have a more international outlook now have the Guardians’ Best of the Net 'Alternative Travvies Awards’. Their chosen travel blogs come from all corners of the world - including America.

The ‘Best of the Net’ goes to:

Best Travel Blog - TravelPod
Best Destination Blog - Metroblogging Berlin
Best Practical Blog - Family Travel (way to go Sheila)
Best Single Author Blog - Tony Wheeler’s Blog
Best Group Written Blog - Wandalust
Best Photography on a Blog - TokyoShoes

Looks like I’ve got yet another group of blogs to add to my RSS feed…

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Can Bloggers make a difference?

Jon Harmon and Mihaela Lica, who created the ‘Blogger Power: Safeguard the Web for Children’ project, believe in the power of the blogosphere. They have a important message that they want to get out - that children should be protected from easy access to online pornography. And they believe that one way this could be done is by having all ‘adult site’ webmasters create passport-protected login for these sites. In other words, no one could access ‘free pics’, ‘free tours’, or ‘free clips’ without first registering.

So they are inviting all bloggers to help spread the message by posting the following meme:

Please require a password-protected login before allowing even free access to explicit adult content. We understand that selling porn is your business and we respect your right to make a legal living. But understand our legitimate concerns and work with us. You already have the “warning adult content” on your websites. Yet kids, who are not legal customers of your product, ignore the warning. So to prevent them from having direct access to explicit images, texts and sounds, the simplest way is to have a password-protected login. No more “free tours” before a visitor supplies basic information.

It’s a message that needs to get out. A message that hopefully will have an effect. A message that reminds us that not everything in cyberspace is good.

But are they just preaching to the converted.? Most people who will post this message already believe that children should be protected from pornography.

Will the ones that need to hear the message hear it? Or will they just keep on as they have before?

Carson at Content Done Better asks these questions and more in a powerful post entitled ‘Plain Brown Paper Wrappers Online’. Read it and then make your own decision as to whether or not to post the meme.

I’m not going to tag anyone in particular. Instead, I invite all readers to ‘self-tag’ and post the meme if they wish…

Shannon, thanks for the tag and bringing this to my attention. It’s a topic worth discussing.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

And the Travvie goes to…Results in for 2007 Travvie Awards

For anyone who’s been following the Upgrade: Travel Better Travvie Awards, the results are in:

None of my favourites won (but they’ll stay my favourites). Meanwhile, I’m off to check out what's so great about these award winning blogs...

Best Single-Author Travel Blog - The Cranky Flier
Best Group-Written Travel Blog - The Lost Girls
Best Informative/Practical Travel Blog - The Cranky Flier
Best Destination Blog - Newyorkology
Best Photography on a Travel Blog - Exposed Planet
Best Travel Blog - National Geographic Insider Traveler

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Three for Three...

Here’s an update on February's monthly roundup

The response to my query letters is now three for three. This morning I heard back from my third query - an application for a paid blogging position. They want me to blog…

I’ll be co-blogging for an established health related blog on a topic that I deal with at the hospital regularly. Will let you know more once the contract is signed and I’m up and running.

So it just goes to show, quantity isn’t everything when it comes to sending out query letters. Sometimes, it’s just sending the right letters at the right time to the right place....

Looks like my platform may be starting to evolve...

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Weekly 5 Top Blog Posts for Writers...

1. Be Willing to be lead astray - be open to creativity

2. Your Elevator Pitch - ideas that might help you perfect your article pitch.
3. What Message is Your Blog Sending? - tips that can help create a total package not only for blogs but also query letters and articles.

4. What a bad musuem can teach you about blogging - how presentation is key.

5. How to make your printing be more earth friendly - go green.

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