Monday, April 30, 2007

Monthly Roundup....(April)

Can't believe it's the end of April and time for another monthly roundup for 'My Year of Getting Published'.

I've been very slow in sending out any query letters this month, in fact only sent out 3. And two of them were related to paid blogging positions (one for a travel blog and the other for a green blogger). Still waiting to here on these...

The only actual query letter that I sent out for an article idea was sent just yesterday so haven't had any feedback yet.

But just in case you may be thinking that I've been slacking off, here's what I have been doing...

Drinking lots of coffee (just kidding!)

Eating lots of chocolate (again, just kidding!!!)

Taking lots of plane rides (not kidding). I came back from the Australian Freelance Writers Conference at the beginning of the month. Two weeks later I was up in the air flying to Wellington for a family birthday. And in two days, I will be flying off to Auckland for the NZ Freelance Conference....

Posted over 20 posts at Alzheimer's Notes.

Got my Christchurch Tour Guide blog up and running and added 15 posts.

Finished a writing contract for a new internet site.

Completed a print article I have been procrastinating over.

Got invited to become an expert on NZ for - not sure what that actually entails...

Participated in two writer's carnivals at The Writer's Block and at Writerly Types

Oh, and posted here daily...

No wonder the house and garden look like they have been neglected...they have!!!

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

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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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Blogging for Home Turf Media...

Inspired by Granny J over at Walking Prescott, I have been developing a new travel blog called ‘Christchurch Tour Guide’. As the subtitle explains, the blog is about seeing Christchurch with the ‘eye of a tourist and the knowledge of a local.’ I see it as a chance of showcasing my hometown, improving my photographic skills, and developing my status as a travel writer.

I joined the Home Turf Media network for this blog, so there’s hope it will become a income earner in time…

Meanwhile, I’ll just have fun taking photos and writing about Christchurch…

Stop by.

Tell me what you think.

Any tips, suggestions, advice is welcome…

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Writers on the move...

I was reading a post over at The Blog Herald asking ‘When was the last time you thanked those who made your blog’ and it got me thinking…

It’s been almost six months since I started this blog and it’s been quite a journey so far. But the best part about it is the people I have meet along the way - other writers who share my enthusiasm and offer support, advice, and encouragement…thanks much…couldn’t have got this far without you…

But it seems that I'm not the only one that is making progress with their freelance writing careers. Here’s what some of My Year of Getting Published readers have been up to in the past few months...

Karen at A Writer’s Blog is blogging for 451 Press with a blog called Discussing Breast Cancer.

Harmony over at Writing in the Making now blogs at on the network.

Sheila from Family Travel picked up two new travel blogging gigs recently - Perceptive Travel and KidTripping.

Terah from Travelers Pen is the new blogger for Outdoor Weblog run by Creative Weblogging.

Yvonne over at Grow Your Writing Business has joined the Gack Ink network.

Who have I left out ???

I know that there are plenty more success stories out there…

Come out of the woodwork …

Leave a comment …

Shout out your achievement…

We want to know…

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer...Sheila Scarborough

This weeks interview is with Sheila Scarborough, a dedicated blogger and travel writer who has been a fulltime freelance writer for the last year. With a award winning travel blog (Family Travel), paid blogging positions at Perceptive Travel and, plus an article recently published in National Geographic Traveler (Finding True Florida, March 2007), Sheila is clearly a travel writer on the move.

Hi Sheila and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. With all you’re blogging and writing commitments, I’m really pleased you were able to find time and answer a few questions.

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

I've always enjoyed writing, from my earliest days in school. Getting the words just right was important to me in class papers and assignments. My teachers, and then my college professors, were always complimentary of my writing skills, but I just thought they were being nice.

When I spent a few years as an Associate Professor at the University of Florida, I discovered that a lot of students were average writers at best, and I really noticed the few who could make words jump from the page. They had a distinctive voice, and I realized that I did, too.

While I was in the Navy, I won an essay contest for an article about network-centric warfare, and then had another piece published on work-life balance for seagoing mothers (the two items are on this page of my Web site.) That's when I began to wonder if I should take a shot at full-time freelance writing.

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

My first paid break was when the (US newspaper) San Antonio Express-News published my article "Navigating Tokyo with a 'tween," about my daughter and I visiting Tokyo and climbing Mt. Fuji. It had been turned down or ignored by numerous publications, but that paper gave me a shot.

I also want to give credit to Teresa Plowright at's Travel with Kids -- she let me write a short series of guest posts, including photos, based on our family road trip of the American South.

3. Why did you start blogging and how has it helped your writing career?

An old high school friend of mine, Dwight Silverman, is a staff writer and tech columnist for the Houston Chronicle -- he writes TechBlog. When I told him I was considering a career as a writer, he insisted that I add a blog to my mix of work, and that I ensure that I had some sort of online presence. Since I had no other work and no one would take my Tokyo story, I threw myself into my Family Travel blog.

There's no question that my blogging work is an essential part of my writer's portfolio. It gets my thoughts out there, unedited and phrased exactly the way I want them to be, for good or ill. There are over 100 posts worth of my writing in one blog alone, about places all over the world. I still do print media work and work for online pubs, but I love blogging and I'm careful to write quality stuff, just as I would for any publication.

I started the blog on the BootsnAll travel Web site because

1) It was free!

2) There didn't seem to be a family travel blog there already, and

3) I would have a built-in audience of travel readers.

It's worked out well, even the rather boring name of the blog -- "Family Travel." As it turns out, it was great SEO, but I was embarrassed initially because I couldn't think of a more imaginative name.

By the way, I'd never heard of BootsnAll until I went to a panel of travel writers at the annual Texas Book Festival, a terrific event here in Austin. I emailed a couple of the panelists, to thank them for their presentations, and I've kept up with them.

I recommend that aspiring writers or bloggers go hang out at events/conferences where there are other writers/bloggers, even those not in your genre. You'll learn amazing things.

4. Where else are you blogging at the moment ?

I'm the blogger "Mother Road" (a play on the nickname for the famous Route 66 from Chicago to LA) on the new Disney Web site My family travel blog for them is Kid Trippin' and we're working hard to build up the site.

For travel topics that are more cultural or even quirky, I'm one of three bloggers on the Perceptive Travel Blog, a part of the great travel webzine Perceptive Travel. I can really let my hair down there, since it isn't just kid stuff!

Finally, I blog about motorsports; I call it "using both sides of my brain." Sounds strange, I know, but I landed a great gig for a blog called The Driving Woman, writing about the drag races at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida, and I fell in love with the sport. Now I write for Fast Machines and, mostly about NHRA drag racing but I'm starting to get into NASCAR (stock car racing) as well. I wrote a blurb about being a NASCAR newbie that was great fun. It's an enjoyable change, being a sportswriter, with a whole different vocabulary and audience.

5. Where to from here?

I'm starting to develop relationships with editors so that I can toss ideas back and forth without a formal query; I have to tell you, it takes a lot of the general aggravation out of freelancing. Once they trust you to do good work, on time, and you trust them not to screw up your work, life is pretty pleasant.

Like most writers, I'd like to do more work for the major glossies (and not just because they pay more, although that sure is a factor.) I've had one piece in National Geographic Traveler and have another assignment for this summer, so I hope to see that relationship continue. I'd actually like to do more online work and blogging for the major pubs, as they start to move in that direction and I prove that I can deliver quality work.

I'm also breaking into food writing, which is getting interesting because although I'm a fairly knowledgeable and enthusiastic eater, I don't particularly like to cook.

6. What advice can you give aspiring travel writers ?

Read and study the craft, both travel essays and books (anything by Bill Bryson, and William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways) and the major travel magazines. You may not care for the style of some of the pubs, but you'll sure get a sense of what they cover and how they do it. Do your homework.

Learn to notice details. It is those little anecdotes, bits of history, parts of conversations, smells, sounds, etc. that make your work come alive.

Have a thick skin. Rejection isn't personal. Don't be too afraid of the telephone; sometimes emails or snail mail gets lost, so do some follow-up and speak to a human. That's how I got the Tokyo article accepted -- my emails weren't answered, so I called the newsroom switchboard, asked for the travel editor and discovered that the position was vacant (meaning my emails were in some electronic holding pen somewhere.) I was connected to the acting editor and he asked me to re-send the article.

Don't be a psycho stalker or pout when you're turned down, but don't be a doormat either.

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

Gosh, that's hard, but I'd have to say Hong Kong. It's all the best things about a vibrant city rolled into one -- I just adore it.


For more on Sheila’s journey as a writer, check out her article The Long and Winding Road to Freelance Success at


Previous interviews:

Graham Reid
Candy Harrington
Terah Shelton
Rudy Maxa
Shannon Hurst Lane
Wendy Perrin
David Whitley

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Tuesday Question...Is travel worth its environmental costs???

Global warming and travel is a hot topic. But it’s not a new one.

Back in 2001 The Washington Post wrote about Global Warming and Travel, stating ‘Glaciers are melting, islands are drowning, wildlife is vanishing. Because of global warming, our most cherished vacation spots may soon cease to exist. And travelers are part of the problem.’

In 2006 The Independent wrote about how ‘Mass tourism and climate change could lead to destruction of world's wonders.

More recently Travel and Leisure magazine published an article on ‘Global Warming and the Traveler’s World’ and MSNBC asked the question ‘Is Travel Destroying the Planet?’

So what’s a travel writer to do? Stop traveling and write only about their own backyard? Take the concept of slow travel to the extreme and only travel by foot, bike, bus, train, or boat?

Living in New Zealand, planes really are the only option for long distance travel. But there are ways of offsetting the damage that plane travel can do.

You can offset your carbon output by buying carbon credits, support sustainable tourism endeavours, go public transport (ie buses and trains rather than car), rent a hybrid car, reduce the weight of your luggage and eat, drink, and buy locally.

But the big question is ‘is travel worth its environmental costs?'

What do you think?

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

World Earth Day 2007...

One of the messages of World Earth Day 2007 on 22nd April is to think globally…act locally. And where better to start than in your own home office.

So I challenge all writers to become more environmentally friendly…


By recycling, reducing, and re-using everyday items around your home office.

Here are few ideas:

- Buy recycled stationery
- Reuse envelopes
- Reuse scrap paper for notes and draft prints
- Avoid printing documents that could just as easily be emailed
- print and copy double-sided
- Refill your printer ink and toner cartridges
- dot matrix and impact printers use 80% to 90% less energy than laser
- recycle old computers and mobile phones
- when buying a new computer, consider laptop instead of desktop. Laptops can use up to 70% less electricity
- Switch off computer monitors - screen savers burn up the energy
-Use rechargeable batteries
- Reprogram the thermostat to one degree warmer in summertime and one degree cooler in wintertime to save 6 - 8 % in energy costs.

Want to add to the list ???


Learn more about 2007 Earth Day events by reading Earth Day Events Spring Up Around the World


(globe from Webweaver)

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

This Just In from Budget Travel...

Budget Travel magazine has joined the blogosphere and is offering readers a chance to be a guest blogger on their new blog, This Just In. Here’s the details:

'Want a chance to be a travel blogger? Post your best travel entry in the comments field below by April 30, 2007. We'll pick the 4 entries that Budget Travel's editors think are best, based on writing quality and "informativeness." Then we'll post them on our blog. The person whose entry receives the most comments during that week will be a guest travel blogger on our site for a week, plus win a $500 gift certificate. In the event of a tie, the editors will decide the winner based on which entry, in their judgment, received more positively compelling comments.’ (Budget Travel, 04/16/07)

Could this be a foot in the door at Budget Travel ???

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Not enough hours in the day...

Maybe it’s just me, but there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Between travelling to conferences and family birthdays, computers breaking down, and work commitments, I’m finding less and less time to write, surf the internet, and have a life…

My solution…head to Starbucks. So this morning a friend and I walked into town. We wandered through the Botanic Gardens and ended up in the center of town, sitting outside Starbucks, sipping on a chai latte. The sun was shining, the market was up and running in Cathedral Square, and we sat and watched the world go by.

It by far one of the best ways to de-stress.

Sometimes it’s better to walk away and relax than to sit and stress about everything that has to be done…

After all, as Scarlet O’Hara says ‘…there’s always tomorrow…’

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Weekly Top 5 Blog Posts for Writers...

1. Milk Your Expertise (Platform Development 101)

2. Myth: Organization is the Key to Productivity

3. A week of journalism: How to move between print and online - this is the second post on a series on writing over at Brazen Careerist.

4. The Secret of Effective Content Promotion

5. Make Money While You Travel With a Travel Blog


Plus one: book review of ‘9 Minds of Marketing’ with a link to free download of book. Looks like one to read for all of us who believe that 90% of writing success is in the marketing.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer...Graham Reid

Today’s interview is with Graham Reid, a New Zealand journalist, music critic, social commentator and travel writer. His book Postcards from Elsewhere won the 2006 Whitcoulls Travel Book of the Year award. His travel articles have been published in The New Zealand Herald, AA Directions, The Listener and Metro in New Zealand, as well at various online sites such as Perceptive Travel and Travel Intelligence.

Hi Graham, welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Glad you could take the time to answer a few questions.

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

Yep. when I was a kid I used to make my own comics and books of stories but never thought of being a writer as such. While I was finishing my Uni degree (eventually got round to doing the Arts -- English and Art History -- after a false start doing Sciences because I wanted to be a marine biologist like Jacques Cousteau) I wanted free records (I love music) and thought that by offering to write record reviews free for the local paper I might score some.

It worked so I started out writing reviews, then did interviews with musicians. I was invited to write for some music magazines, created and edited my own magazine in 1984 and that lead to writing on the arts and entertainment for the New Zealand Herald and The Listener (all the time I was teaching English and Art History at Glenfield College in Auckland).

I was offered a job at the New Zealand Herald in 1987 which I took and as a consequence of travelling to various places to interview musicians or movie stars I would always indulge my own interests in arts/the unusual etc. I would return to the New Zealand Herald with other "travel" articles.

I have also always travelled for my own pleasure and so would come back from those trips -- eg Vietnam in 1995 just after it had opened its doors to tourists -- with stories for publication.

So I became a travel writer by default therefore. I travel and I write: I put the two together!

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

As a writer (which I think is the most important word in that phrase) it was when Warwick Roger of Metro magazine published a piece I wrote about growing up and going every holiday to Stanmore Bay north of Auckland and then how my life changed: the last part was about scattering my father's ashes at Stanmore Bay. That story caught the imagination of many people (it was/is used in English Lit classes by some expats in Germany!) and that set me on the path to being a writer-proper.

I then had short stories publishd in Metro magazine alongside the arts stuff in the New Zealand Herald and The Listener (I was at this time still teaching, then went part-time to look after young kids and pursue the writing a bit more seriously).

As a travel writer I guess it might have been the piece I wrote in 1995 after coming back from Vietnam, although I wrote pieces about Thailand before that. But the Vietnam article was important because not many people had been there at the time and it was very well read and much praised.

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

You have to know how to write first of all. And I have no idea how to break into travel mags, they seem a closed shop. This is a difficult area because magazines and newspapers are offered so many sponsored trips that they send away their own people and so therefore have those stories as a priority. They rarely allow outsiders in as the stories an outsider writes may not fit their current agenda/forward planning etc. I have found it a struggle to get published since I left the New Zealand Herald. it isn't as easy as it looks.

Trying to remain independent from other people's agendas is very hard. But when I was at the New Zealand Herald I would also sometimes look through the travel stories people had submitted and most of them were very poorly written and badly researched (mostly we went there, we did this). Many people -- and I do include many travel writers in this -- also only ever seem to speak to a tour guide or taxi driver. That tells me they didn't "put themselves out there". Lazy stuff mostly.

4. Is living in New Zealand a help or hindrance to developing your freelance writing career?

A great hindrance: small market here obviously, and if you approach magazines offshore they seem to think we are ‘small town’ people who don't travel for some reason (!!) so how could you be a travel writer from NZ. Really hard.

I have had more success via internet sites however, they are much more open to the idea.

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

I tend to make it up as I go along so any problems are usually of my own making! (lost! running out of petrol!!) Most of my travel has been independent (ie not sponsored by a tourism company/airline etc) so I feel quite free to go anywhere and do what I like. On the rare, very rare, occasions I have been on a sponsored trip I feel quite constrained. The challenge in that case is to quickly fulfil that agenda then get on with finding the other more interesting stories.

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

I love the United States - Americans are among the most friendly and open people anywhere -- and there are crazy corners to that vast country. Every turn in the road can reveal some new kind of weirdness or astonishing landscape. I spent two months driving from one side to the other (through Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee etc) and more recently did three weeks in the Pacific Northwest. Brilliant: clubs, bars, mountains, fascinating people, etc etc

Sadly New Zealanders seem to be anti-American (actually anti-Bush but too many people take a broad brush to it). Yes there are many many things I don't like about "America” (its politics for a kick-off) but there are so many Americas within that enormous country it is impossible not to find some place you can feel comfortable. I have found dozens.

I'd go again tomorrow if I could afford it (after that in no particular order south of France, Spain, Japan, Thailand . . .)


Previous interviews: Candy Harrington,Terah Shelton, Rudy Maxa, Shannon Hurst Lane, Wendy Perrin, David Whitley

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Publishing success at the age of 93...

If you're looking for inspiration and reason not to give up on writing, then check out this article in The Seattle Times - '93-year old writer discovers success — at last'.

It might have taken Harry Bernstein awhile, but he got there in the end...

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Major Computer Malfunction...

Last week I turned on the computer and just about cried…my desktop screen was devoid of all icons except those of a brand new computer.

There was no articles folder, photos folder, query letters folder, or any other type of folder on the screen.

Just a little message saying something along the lines of ‘…unable to open local profile…corrupt file…temporary profile will be opened’.

Everything, it seemed, had vanished. This would have been okay if I had actually backed up all my work…but, of course, I hadn’t. It was one of those things I was going to do...'next week'.

Luckily I happen to know a computer genius who somehow managed to find and retrieve all the lost material…and then proceeded to give me a long lecture on backing up all materials.

Now I have a shopping list of things I've been told I need:

Portable Hard Drive to save all documents every week.

USB Flash Drive to save whatever I’m working on each day.

Think I might add a few of these to the list as a thank you…to the white knight who saved the day…

What’s your nightmare computer story ???

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Losing the paper war...

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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Saturday, April 14, 2007

More on Travel blogs...

Travel blogs are great. Anyone can write on. Some focus on a specific trip, some on a particular destination, and others on travel information.

Here‘s a few of my favorite travel blogs…for no particular reason except they keep me interested and entertained.

The Perrin Post

Upgrade:Travel Better

Brave New Traveler

Killing Batteries

The Lost Girls

Gourmet Traveler

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of travel blogs out there. What’s your favorite?

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Perceptive Travel Blog worth visiting...

There’s a new travel blog on the scene - Perceptive Travel - that is the brainchild of Tim Leffel, author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations and editor of the online magazine Perceptive Travel.

He’s lined up three travel writers - Steve Davey, Sheila Scarborough(aka Seafarer from Family Travel), and Antonia Malchik - to provide informative, interesting, and entertaining posts.

Check it out…

P.S. Sheila will be featuring in my ‘Interview with a Travel Writer’ series in two weeks time…

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Weekly 5 Top Posts for Writers...

1. The Working Journalist in the Age of the Internet - interesting article talking about ‘old way vs new way for freelance writers’.

2. Be Yourself - this is the message that Karen came away with after reading Diane Burrell’s post at The Renegade Writer Blog

3. Hacking Knowledge: 77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better - great tips here on keeping your brain engaged. It’s not all to do with thinking - diet, exercise, and environment also come into play. Save this post for any time you strike writer’s block.

4. Bringing Home the Bacon - advice on keeping up with the financial paperwork

5. Travel Photography - Getting More Variety in Your Shots

Plus one: final instalment of the conversation that Yvonne Russell and I had over at Grow Your Writing Business

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer: Candy Harrington

Candy Harrington is a travel writer who has created a clearly defined niche - accessible travel -to write about. She is the author of two books -There is Room in the Innand Barrier Free Travel - and editor of Emerging Horizons, a consumer oriented magazine about accessible travel (click here for a sample issue). Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Transitions Abroad, Dallas Morning News, New Mobility, Arthritis Today.

Candy, welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for taking the time to talk about your career as a travel writer…

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

You know from my earliest recollection, I always wrote; however I'd
like to think my style and technique have improved over the years.
I've never had any formal training in writing, as it was just
something I had a natural talent for; but I have learned a lot from
"on the job" experience and from my colleagues. My first paid writing
job was as an advice columnist for a local newspaper (they are out of
business now -- go figure!). Looking back on it, I kind of cringe at
what I did, because at the time they didn't know I was a
third-grader. Basically I lied to get the job and told them that I
was a housebound old lady. At one point my cover was blown, but I
still ended up keeping the job until I was in high school.

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

Well, I've been covering travel for over 30 years and although I had
some success early on, (it was easier to break-in to the market back
then), my real break came after I redefined my focus and decided to
become the expert in accessible travel. That was 13 or so years ago.
Betsy Wade, who was at that time a prominent travel columnist for the
New York Times, wrote about my work in her column. It was a
right-place, right-time thing for me as I was subsequently contacted
by several newspaper and magazine editors as well as a number of NYC
publishers about other projects. One of those contacts led to what I
consider a very successful relationship with my current publisher.
I'm working on my third book for them (101 Accessible Vacations)
which will be released in September.

3. You're the founder and editor of Emerging Horizons, an accessible
travel magazine. Tell us a little of about the magazine and how you
became an expert on accessible travel.

Basically I was tired of writing what I considered travel "fluff". I
wanted to do something with more meat and something of more actual
use to consumers. It was a personal growth time for me as well. I
figured I had worked for almost 20 years learning the trade and it
was time for me to do what I really wanted to do writing-wise. A
friend suggested I try accessible travel and it sounded like a good
idea to me. I love challenges. I had absolutely no experience with
accessible travel; in fact, I didn't even know anybody who used a
wheelchair. I just approached the subject as I approached any other
assignment -- I researched the heck out of it. And I soon realized
that I found my passion.

Emerging Horizons is a magazine about accessible travel. It's about
travel for people with mobility disabilities -- from wheelchair-users
to slow walkers -- or what I call barrier-free travel. We are a
quality publication, not just a list of accessible destinations or
hotels. We have travel features, tips and tricks, a Q&A column, a
column about accessible inns and B&Bs, news and tidbits and consumer
education articles. One goal of Emerging Horizons is to raise
awareness about accessible travel options and let folks know that
they really do have choices. Oh yes, and we don't accept any
advertising -- we are 100% subscriber supported. I felt it was
important to totally separate editorial content from advertising, and
in my mind, the best way to do that is to just not accept any
advertising. But it all worked. Emerging Horizons is celebrating its
10th birthday this year.

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

Running a business (and writing is a business), managing my PR,
dealing with family issues and just maintaining my personal stamina
are all challenges. It's not a piece of cake and when I'm on the road
I can put in some very long days. I also always travel with my
husband, Charles, who is a travel photographer. That was one of the
deals we made when we started the magazine, as we've both been in the
industry for a long time and seen so many relationships buckle under
the stress of one person being on the road too much. We put a lot of
time into our work, but we love it. We also both have a good sense of
humor -- you have to, to survive in this business.

I think the biggest challenge though is maintaining my health on the
road, cause it really, really sucks to be sick when you have to work
and travel. You just have to suck it up and do it no matter how
miserable you feel. I take Airborne, and for the last three years
it's been a great preventative. But still, my health and mental well
being are my biggest concerns.

5. What advice would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing? As an editor, do you have any tips for breaking into national travel magazines?

I would advise getting a staff position first to learn the ropes and
build up your network (you will need that later). Too many folks just
jump right into freelancing with no prior travel writing experience,
and I think to be successful you really need to understand how the
industry works -- not just how you think it works.

Additionally, you need to build your platform and establish yourself
as an expert in a specific niche. It's a pretty competitive market
today, and having your own voice and specialty will give you the
edge. I see multi-generation travel (and photography) as a wide open
niche right now, and I'm sure some savvy writer could really turn
that emerging market into a lucrative specialty.

Also (and this seems so simplistic, but many folks don't do it), take
the time to read the magazine -- really read it -- before you query.
You need to really understand how they approach travel, in order to
craft a query that will catch the editor's attention. Read everything
the editor writes and try to write your query in a voice that will be
most receptive to him/her.

And never, ever stop marketing yourself. Writing is the easy part --
selling yourself is harder.

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

That's easy! Our cabin in the Northern California Sierras. When
Charles and I aren't on the road, we spend the bulk of our time
there. We have an office up there with all the tech bells and
whistles, but we don't give out our phone number to anyone. It's just
a very peaceful and secluded place and I can be very productive up
there. In fact, I can get a full days work done before noon, and then
go outside and rake pine needles or gather wood or clean off the
roof. It's just a great place to be.


Previous Interviews: Terah Shelton, Rudy Maxa, Shannon Hurst Lane, Wendy Perrin, David Whitley

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

'Writers on the Rise' blog...

A couple of hours ago I wrote a post about being overfed. I was going to de-clutter and reduce the number of blogs I had on my RSS feed.

But instead I've just added another blog.

Why? Because it’s a new blog that I couldn’t resist.

Writers on the Rise is like a one-stop shop for freelance writers. Created by Christina Katz , author of Writer Mama, How To Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, it features commentary from fifteen professional writers on all phases of freelance writing. Originally, they had a website and a monthly newsletter - now they have a blog.

Check out some of these recent posts:

Why Am I Getting Rejection Letters From Editors by Wendy Burt

Come Out of the Expertise Closet by Christina Katz

Making the Leap from Great Idea to Book Proposal by Sage Cohen

This is a blog definitely worth adding to any writer’s RSS feed…

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The Tuesday Question ???

I don’t know how it happened but somehow I’ve managed to subscribe to over a hundred RSS feeds. And they are all good. What to do? There is no time to read them all. At best, I end up skimming the headlines and only read the ones that catch my eye.

I think it’s time to start reducing the number of feeds I subscribe to. So, from now on, the last Sunday of the month will be ‘declutter the RSS feed list’ day, removing any that I haven’t read during that month…wonder if that will work???

What about you?

Are you overfed?

How do you juggle the feeds you keep?

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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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Finding Your Writing Platform...

Check out Part 3 of the interview that Yvonne over at Grow Your Own Business did with me. The focus on this round is Finding Your Writing Platform

And while your there, check out some of other great posts. I especially like her Thursday Thirteen series:

‘Write for Magazines: 13 Tips to Get Started’
‘Helping to Grow Your Own Writing Business’.

This weekly series is shaping up to be a great information resource…

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fear Not - Chocolate is good for you…

With Easter comes what I call the ‘chocolate season’, a time when you are surrounded by chocolate. Chocolate eggs, chocolate rabbits, and in New York, for a short time, a chocolate Jesus

But it’s okay, ‘cause chocolate is good for you. If you don’t believe me, have a read of the following:

A Dark Chocolate a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Boosting Brain Power -- With Chocolate

Study: Chocolate improves blood vessel function

Introducing the latest superfood... chocolate

Chocolate lifesaver - from cancer to dementia

Chocolate good for you and your cough

Chocolate's Potential Health Benefits – and its Effect on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients

Happy Easter....

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Friday, April 06, 2007

FlipStart looks like great tool for travelling writers…

Flipstart, a miniature computer less than 6 inches wide and weighing 1 ½ pounds, is scheduled for release this month. Created and funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, it could possibly be the next great tool for the travelling writer.

Containing a 30 gigabyte hard drive and running the same software as a traditional desktop computer, Flipstart is more portable than a laptop and more powerful than a mobile phone.

But the things that appeal about Flipstart - size and weight - may also be it’s downfall. Eyestrain from the small screen and cramp from the tiny keyboard could easily discourage buyers. As will a price tag of around $2000...

Still it looks pretty good - might add it to my Christmas Wish List (okay, so I start early…but it never hurts to try)


The Mini-Computer Wars

First Look at the FlipStart

FlipStart Is Cool but Clunky

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Weekly 5 Top Blog Posts for Writers...

1.Five ways to do better phone interview - the post is about interviewing for a job but there are good points here for anyone conducting a phone interview as well. Who knew standing up and walking around while talking on the phone increased your voice tone and strength…

2. Captivate Your Audience with a Killer Opening - get the editors attention from the beginning…

3. Think Like a Fool - get a fresh angle on an idea…

4. 10 Ways to Make your Words Captivate - simple tips to improve your writing…

5. Blogging is About Writing - the written word is king…


Plus one: Kiwi for Desert - a review of my blog by a student taking a digital journalism course at The University of San Francisco…

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer...Terah Shelton

Today I’m talking with Terah Shelton, a freelance travel writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her travel articles have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Trips and Journeys, Go World Travel, Arkansas Traveler, and Southern Arts Journal. Terah maintains a blog, Traveler’s Pen, where she dispenses travel information. She also teaches a travel writing course, How to Travel the World, at Emory University, Atlanta and online.

Hi Terah and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for taking time out from your travels (Terah’s currently travelling around Europe) to answer a few questions.

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

I didn't always want to be a writer. I wanted to be a singer, actress, and a dancer. But, as I got older, I discovered I could not sing, could not act, and, well...I can dance, but not good enough to go on tour with The New Kids on the Block (remember them?). When the New Kids broke up I decided it was time for me to be realistic about my career aspirations.

My sixth grade teacher, Julie Cook, found one of my stories and encouraged me to read it in front of the class. I did and they loved it. Seeing their reaction to something I wrote inspired me to continue writing.

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

When the first query I submited was accepted by Byline. It wasn't a travel piece, but it was my first clip. Seeing my name in print motivated me to go for what I really wanted: to become a travel writer.

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

Being an African-American female, when I travel, I’m accustomed to friendly and quirky encounters. Long stares, cheerful grins, inquiring gazes, double looks, widened smiles, and spontaneous conversations. Not out of racism or prejudice, but completely good natured and amiable. In some of the countries I visit, it’s not everyday they see a black person, yet a black woman traveling alone. I’ve acclimated to this behavior and chalked it up to curiosity.

As a writer, one of the challenges I face on the road is staying focused. I'm currently in Venice and all I want to do is sit in San Marco Square and people watch all day. Sometimes I forget I'm here to work.

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

Study the publication inside and out. Know what to pitch and who to pitch. Research the editors and keep track published articles. Then, write a dynamic query letter. If you receive a rejection, follow it up with other query letters. Finally, be patient. It will happen for you.

5. You teach 'How to Travel the World on a Budget' at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. How did that come about ?

Before I moved to Atlanta last year, I started sending out letters of introduction to local and regional newspapers and magazines in hopes of landing a contributing writer position. While researching those publications, I learned Emory University was accepting applications for instructors. The topics were open and I learned they did not offer a travel class. I filled out an application and wrote a class proposal. Admittedly, I didn't think they would accept it. But, the next day, I received a call from the department asking me to come to Atlanta for an interview and presentation. And the rest is history.

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

My favorite place...hmm...that's interesting because I don't normally tell people what why favorite place is. I know I'm a travel writer and my job is the inform people about the interesting and undiscovered destinations in the world, but I believe in keeping a few places secret. I will share one of my favorite places.

It seems, my favorite place is always the last place I visited. Off the cuff, right now, I would have to say, Lubec, Maine. Why? Because it's the easternmost point in the continental United States, home to the nation's first sunrise. I love raw, uncooked places, unseasoned by life. Where things may or may not make sense. And I found this in Lubec.

Terah, thanks for the interview. Hope you enjoy the rest of your travels...good luck.


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

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Monthly Roundup....(March)

I’m running a little late here - March finished three days ago. But I’ve been somewhat busy with travel, conferences, and (unfortunately) a migraine…

What I’ve done in March…

Started blogging for Alzheimer’s Notes. It’s taken practically the whole month figuring out how to use Word Press. Stupid me, I thought that one blogging site was the same as any other. Seems not. With I have been writing on Word Document and then I 'copy and paste' my posts. But when I tried that with Word Press, I managed to screw up the font of the WHOLE blog, not once but twice. Luckily I have a very, very patient editor. Now I split screen and type twice - I cannot seem to write directly onto the Word Press page - there seems to be too many distractions for me to play with…

In the end I managed to:

- Write 14 posts in March for Alzheimer’s Notes.

- Send out 3 Query Letters

1 no response
1 ‘…we'll review your idea and get back to you as soon as possible’.
1 acceptance of a travel blog proposal for Home Turf Media (more on this later in week)

- Post 4 ‘Interviews with Travel Writers’

- get interviewed x 2 by Yvonne over at Grow Your Own Business

- Send a post to the Writer’s Block Carnival

At the same time, I am continuing to work on a article for an Australian print magazine and also complete a ‘work for contract’ travel piece for a new travel website.

No wonder I’m tired….

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Monday, April 02, 2007

What I learned at the freelance journalism conference...

I’m back.

After spending the last couple of days surrounded by successful and potentially successful writers and broadcasters, I am exhausted.

But it was worth it.

I learned a great deal about how freelance writers think, act, and behave. I learned that all freelance writers seem to be living from assignment to assignment, that their credit cards are highly active, and that no one really talks about how much they earn. I also learned that all freelance writers, from newbies to expert, are in the same boat.

Woody Allen said ‘Eighty percent of success is showing up’. So I did. Show up, that is. And I consider that it will bring me success. Maybe not right now. Maybe not even in the immediate future. But going to writer’s conferences will bring you success because it is one more way of announcing to yourself and the world that you write. It is a way of meeting and talking with others like yourself. It is a way of learning how some become successful by simply being in the right place at the right time, while others plug at it day after day until it works.

I meet writers, editors, and broadcasters. Did I feel out of place at times? Yes. Did I feel like I was an imposter at times? Yes. But inside the conference rooms, we are all equal…

The highlight, however, was not the conference. It was being upgraded to Business Class on my flight from Christchurch to Sydney. For three hours, I was wined (champagne) and dined by what seemed like my personal attendent. And when I was tired of that, I pushed a few buttons on the lazy boy chair to stretch out and sleep. Go Emirates Airlines….unfortunately, the return flight as an economy class customer brought me back down to earth.

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