Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer...Heather Hapeta

Today’s interviewee is New Zealand travel writer Heather Hapata. Heather’s articles have been published in the Sydney Morning Herald, NZ Listener, and Morning Calm (Korean Air’s in-flight magazine), she writes a monthly travel column for Homestyle magazine, and has her first book, Naked in Budapest, due for release in June.

Hi Heather and thanks for stopping by My Year of Getting Published.

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

I was an avid reader as a child and always dreamt of being a writer – I thought how fabulous it would be to give such joy as I had from book. However it wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I had the time and confidence to give it a try – after all when you are fifty-plus surely it’s time to do what you really want to do.

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

I attended a short writing course (gifting your stories with love) when I lived in Napier and after the six weeks, our little group stayed together for two years, meeting monthly to read our latest work. My group encouraged me to send some of the pieces to papers and magazines – I did and some where accepted. That’s when I decided to reinvent myself, bought a second-hand laptop and started writing.

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

My biggest challenge is always how to travel as far as I want to with the very small budget I always have! Apart from that, my biggest concern is always the ‘moving on’ - I always feel apprehensive, or fearful, yet excited when I’m going to a new place or crossing a border.

4. You're just about to launch your first book 'Naked in Budapest: Travels with a passionate nomad'. Tell us about the process of getting the book from idea to publisher.

From idea…. Well that started as a child really – confirmed by my writing group that I had a good style to read, continued during a winter in Wales – living in a caravan and rewriting all my stories to become a coherent whole. I also had an appraisal from an editor, took some of her advice on board, re-edited the manuscript, attended a self-publishing course at Canterbury University, and the rest is history. Now that the launch is about to happen I find I swing from elation to dread as imagine peoples reaction to all my hard work. I have to stay in the now and realise that any criticism is a chance for me to improve my writing – and that their views are always subjective.

5. What advice would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing?

Write write write.

Travel on your own and be prepared for lots of rejections and NEVER give your work away. If you want to be published keep writing until its good enough to be paid for.

When you give your work away you are ensuring the amount paid to writers is kept low. You don’t need clippings to prove you are a writer – each piece is judged on that piece. No matter how many articles you have or don’t have, the editor ONLY decides on that quality of that story alone (I also know that from a year as travel editor of a Christchurch newspaper).

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

Turkey was fabulous – the people friendly, helpful and fun; Malaysia is my favourite Asian country and … and ….

I don’t think I have been to a country that I wouldn’t return to and still have a great time!

(note from Liz: Heather was also recently interviewed by NZ Freelance Writer newsletter (May 2007)and has her official book launch on 9 June in Christchurch, New Zealand)

Previous Interviews:
Thomas Swick
Leif Pettersen
Rolf Potts
Ian Mackenzie
Sheila Scarborough
Graham Reid
Candy Harrington
Terah Shelton
Rudy Maxa
Shannon Hurst Lane
Wendy Perrin
David Whitley

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Magazines looking for travel articles...

I just got the latest DM Writes E-zine in my mail box and found that this months market list includes a number of travel markets.

Current needs and contact information for magazines such as Islands, Highways, International Living, and CNN Traveler are but a few of those listed over. Click here to see full list and details.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, May 28, 2007

More great travel blogs worth reading...

NY Girl Eats World -Travel writer Nicole Cotroneo documents her adventures at home and abroad while on assignment for The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Mad About Madrid - A blog that is really a travel guide. Full of fascinating facts and information about what to do in Madrid

Girl Solo in Arabia - Follow the trail of Carolyn McIntyre, an experience guide to the Middle East for the National Geographic Expeditions, as she follows the 29 year journey that Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta more than 680 years ago. A great travel memoir which will no doubt end up on the bestsellers list and most probably on the big screen.

I discovered these great blogs over at Typepad Featured Blogs, a site that spotlights great sites powered by typepad (I haven't got a clue what typepad is but I sure do like some of the blogs that as using it).

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, May 27, 2007

5 Travel Books I wish I’d written…

There’s a travel book sitting in my head, waiting to be written. Actually, there’s a travel book, a murder mystery, and a romantic comedy in there as well. It’s kinda crowded in my head…

But it might be some time before any of them move from my head to paper. In the meantime, I read. And read. And read. And discover time and again that someone else has written yet another travel book I wish I had written.

At the moment, my 5 favorite travel books that I wish I’d written include:

Treasure Island by Pamela Stephenson - subtitled ‘Sailing the South Seas in the wake of Fanny and Robert Louise Stevenson’, this book features travel, history, and adventure around the islands of the south pacific…

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - subtitled ‘One woman’s search for everything’, this book is about what one woman did when her world fell apart - she picked herself up and went on a quest for spiritual enlightenment - in Rome, India, and Bali…

Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach - subtitled ‘The travels of an independent woman’, this book is about one woman’s search for a new definition of herself. And what better way of doing this than by taking a year off work, heading first to Paris, then London and Milan and tackling whatever new experiences greeted her…

A Year in the World by Frances Mayes - this book describes what it would be like to live in a different place every month for a year, immersing yourself in the local culture, foods, and sense of place…

Kiss the Sunset Pig by Laurie Gough - subtitled ‘An American Road Trip with Exotic Detours’, this book flicks between the author’s past and present experiences as she travels across the States in a beaten up car named Marcia…

What’s your list ?

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Photo contests listed in National Geographic Traveler magazine...

The latest issue of National Geographic Traveler (May/June 2007) listed two photographic contests worth checking out:

Insights Photo Contest

Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts are looking for original, insightful photographs that you have taken on your travels that reveals your personal understanding of a special place.

Prize: A National Geographic Expedition around Australa with a leading expert guiding you plus an exclusive tour of Sydney in the company of a National Geographic photojournalist.

Deadline: July 1, 2007

Enter at


National Geographic Traveler and Photo District News presents World in Focus, a photographic contest for both amateur and professional photographers.

- Wilderness Photography
- The Human Condition
- Extreme Exploration
- Urban Landscapes
- Snapshots
- Open Series

Deadline: August 21 2007

Entry details:

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, May 25, 2007

What Breed of Freelance Writer are You ???

I discovered this via the Golden Pencil who in turned found it via Get Paid to Write. But it originated over at FreelanceSwitch.

What am I talking about ?

A great humurous post discussing the ‘13 Breeds of Freelance Writer and How to Up Your Game’.

According to Jack over at Freelance Switch, the 13 breeds of freelancer are:

The Artiste Freelancer
The Payin’-The-Bills Freelancer
The Pushover Freelancer
The AWOL Freelancer
The I-Did-IT-My-Way Freelancer
The Hit’n’Miss Freelancer
The Blame-Game Freelancer
The Constant-Excuses Freelancer
The Hidden Costs Freelancer
The I-Can’t-Finish-This Freelancer
The Too-Cool Freelancer
The Big-Business Freelancer
The No Business Skills Freelancer

Check it out.
At the moment I think this is me:

(cartoon by Jack)

What breed of freelance writer are you?

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer...Thomas Swick

This week’s interview is with Thomas Swick, travel editor for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He is also the author of two books (At Home in Poland and A Way to See the World), has had stories in The Best American Travel Writing Series (2001,2002,2004, and 2006), and is a guest blogger at World Hum. And that’s just the start of a list of where he’s been published.

Rolf Potts from Vagablogging thinks he is one the ‘…best travel-editors in America.’

So I feel very privileged that he was willing to be interviewed for My Year of Getting Published.

Hi Tom and welcome. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions about travel writing.

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

I got the idea in college. I wrote bad poems in high school, and then essays and humorous pieces for my college newspaper. After graduation I started writing travel stories and more humorous pieces and sending them around, with no success. So I went to France for a year.

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

A few years later I was living in Poland, during the rise of Solidarity, and my wife and I took a winter vacation in the Polish mountains. I wrote about it and got the piece published in The North American Review. Though nothing followed for quite a long time, you never forget your first magazine sale.

3. As an editor and columnist, what advice would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing? Any tips to breaking into newspapers and magazines?

I’d recommend having another source of income. For years I worked at other jobs – teaching English (in Poland), writing for a medical magazine (in Philadelphia) – and in my off hours wrote about experiences I’d had in the past. I'd also take "working" vacations - i.e., with a notebook and pen - and write about those. The weekly paycheck gave me the luxury of writing what I wanted to write in my free time. Newspaper travel sections are really cutting back, not just their staffs but their freelance budgets. It is not a good time in the newspaper business. Most magazines have only editors on staff, using freelancers to supply the copy. Traditionally, freelancers start out doing short, regional pieces before they get any big assignments. And it’s tough to break into magazines if you don’t have an 'in'. But being persistent (without being pushy) and having good ideas helps.

4. What do you see as the future for travel writers in the printed media and online ?

The movement seems to be away from the written word, at least for mass audiences, but there will always be readers – people who are thrilled and moved by good writing. In 1980, Paul Fussell declared, in his excellent book Abroad, that travel writing was dead, and we’re still seeing wonderful travel books published (though, sadly, they're usually not the ones that sell the best). Most of the online travel writing is consumer-oriented, but there are some impressive exceptions, like

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

Getting a feel for a place, and penetrating beneath its surface, in a very short period of time. And part of that is finding interesting people to guide me and give me insight. Especially when I don’t speak the language.

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

Vietnam was my favorite place to write about. It was my first Asian country, and the people overwhelmed with their hospitality and curiosity. (There were not many American tourists there in 1994). Italy is my favorite place to visit. It's got amiable people, delicious food, beautiful landscapes, a sunny climate, animated cities, and countless art treasures. (Not many countries can compete with that.) And Poland is my favorite place to just be. I lived there for two and a half years - married, worked, learned the language, and found a second home.


Previous Interviews:

Leif Pettersen
Rolf Potts
Ian Mackenzie
Sheila Scarborough
Graham Reid
Candy Harrington
Terah Shelton
Rudy Maxa
Shannon Hurst Lane
Wendy Perrin
David Whitley

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Seemed like a good idea at the time…

When I decided last week to set up a blog carnival about travel writing, it seemed like a good idea. But even as I wrote in the post announcing the ‘Travel Writers Carnival’, I felt there was a good chance it might just crash and burn….and it did.

I got three submissions to the carnival - one providing me with the website of a travel writer and two offering travel articles. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind. So I’ve decided to put the idea on the backburner for the time being…

On the plus side - I discovered yet another travel writer to be interviewed (in a couple of weeks) for the weekly ‘interview with a travel writer’ series… proving that there is always a silver lining.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Auckland Readers and Writers Festival...

The annual Auckland Readers and Writers Fesitval is on from 24th to 27th May at Auckland’s Aotea Centre.

Needless to say, having just been up to Auckland for the NZ Freelance Writers Conference, I won’t be attending this festival. Which as fine with me until I discovered one of my favorite travel writers, Pico Iyer, was going to be there.

Now I want to go…but that’s not going to happen.

For any of you who don’t know who Pico Iyer is, check out the these articles about him:

Writers We Love: Pico Iyer by Don George

'Postmodern tourism: An Interview with Pico Iyer' by Scott London

Pico Iyer: On Travel and Travel Writing

Books by Pico Iyer:

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My kind of town...

Here’s an idea. Take a town with a collection of disused Victorian style buildings in a state of disrepair, call in a group of book traders, and created a ‘book town’.

According a recent article in the Melbourne Age, the small Australian town of Clune plans on doing just that.

It seems that many of Clunes old Victorian style buildings are sitting unused and in a state of disrepair. Looking for ways of turning around a lacklustre local economy, some town members came up with the idea of converting these buildings into a cluster of second-hand and antiquarian bookstores.

Of course, becoming a ‘book town’ will not happen overnight. A Book Town Working Party has been established and long term plans are being considered. The first step though will happen today with the town’s first ‘Book Town for the Day’.

Expecting only a handful of traders to sign on, the organizers were pleasantly surprised to get over 50 keen book traders ready and willing to set up book stalls.

The event will also host food and wine stalls, author readings, and the chance to discover a rare book or two. There will be one rare book worth over $800 hidden amongst the books, but with over 33,000 on display, the odds are not good.

The odds of putting Clunes, a short drive north of Ballarat, on the map as Australia’s ‘book town’ look very promising.

It definitely sounds like my kind of town…

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Report on SOBCon07: Link up – attend a blogging conference...

Guest post by Sheila Scarborough

Greetings to all Liz Lewis readers, and thanks for the opportunity to tell you a little about why you should attend a blogging conference, even if you’re still at 4 posts and 2 visitors.

I’ve just returned to Texas from Chicago, where I attended SOBCon 07. No, no, silly; SOB means “Successful and Outstanding Blogger.”

It’s a moniker dreamt up by one of the conference organizers, Liz Strauss, who writes Successful Blog. For a warm, inviting and always interesting blog, take your browser over to Liz. Her only rule is “be nice,” and she always says that “you’re only a stranger once.”

Her conference had the same vibe. Along with bloggy luminaries like Phil Gerbyshak of Make it Great! , Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home and Terry Starbucker of Ramblings From a Glass Half Full, Liz Strauss led a room of over one hundred bloggers through a packed schedule of speakers and discussion sessions about building relationships through blogging.

We talked about fostering online communities, making readers feel welcome, extending the conversation through comments, blog marketing, designing a user-friendly blog and using podcasts and video. The audience was free to chime in and most definitely did so; nobody had to feel shy or dim-witted, no matter how new they were to blogging.

Liz Strauss reminded everyone that when you finish a post, you press a button labeled “Publish.” That’s pretty cool….

There were not that many travel bloggers there besides me, except for the WordPress Queen Lorelle VanFossen (who travel blogs at Taking Your Camera on the Road) and the redoubtable Wendy Perrin, who blogs for Condé Nast Traveler magazine on her Perrin Post. It didn’t matter – we all had subjects that we were passionate about, and more in common than we thought.

Blogging and writing are solitary activities (no matter how well you know your local coffee shop barista) so it’s wonderful to be in a room that is just thrumming with enthusiasm from people who all love the same thing – communicating. We practically tackled each other in the bathrooms to continue the conversations.

If this sounds good to you, consider another Chicago blogging conference in July run by BlogHer (and no, you don’t have to be a woman to go) and to really geek out, there’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in Austin, Texas March 7-11 2008.

If you know of any other good blogging events across the globe, tell us about them here!

Sheila blogs about travel at Family Travel, Kid Trippin’ and the Perceptive Travel blog, and about motorsports at Fast Machines.


(note from Liz: Sheila, thanks for spending the time to let us know all about the SOBCon07 conference. It sounded like a great time. I don't know about anyone else, but I'll be spending the next week or two wandering through all the links you just provided to learn more about the art of blogging...maybe next year I might even head over for the conference...)

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, May 18, 2007

Join the Travel Rants blog-a-thon…

Here’s a challenge - write a 350 word travel article, post it on your blog and then submit it to Travel Rants Blog a Thon.

The Rules:

- the post must be no longer that 350 words
- the post must be useful for travellers and travel consumers
- the post must be unique
- you can include links to over travel sites (but not your own)

Deadline: midday (GMT) 31 May 2007

Enter by emailing your blog post (and URL) to

Favorite blog post chosen by the judges wins 200 pounds of Amazon vouchers (think of the travel and writing books you could buy) donated by
Second place - 2 Lonely Planet Guides
Third place - 2 Strider Expedition T-shirts

Are you up for the challenge?

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Interview with a travel writer...Leif Pettersen.

Today’s interview is with travel writer Leif Pettersen. Leif has contributed chapters to a number of Lonely Planet guides and is the co-author of Romania & Moldova ( Lonely Planet, May 2007). Lately, he has been hanging out in Tuscany, researching a doing research for Lonely Planets Italy 8 and Tuscany and Umbria 5. He is also the author of Killing Batteries, a blog about travel and travel writing.

Hi Leif and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for stopping by and talking with us.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Not at all. Until my early-20s, I thought I'd be professional juggler (yes, really), or at least semi-pro while dabbling in acting. The allure of paid vacations, health insurance and my growing weariness of performing at back-yard birthday parties, being the tedious event before the serving of the cake, steered me into a nine year career at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis that turned into a fairly successful stint of feigning interest in electronic payments.

How did you get started in writing?

In 2003, an unpleasant series of events, both personally and in the world around me, inspired me to redirect my life onto a path that didn't suck quite so much. It was during this period of precarious vulnerability to suggestion that a reckless friend "Kramered" me into being a homeless travel writer.

I'd been fascinated with travel writing ever since a girlfriend in college made me read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (rest in peace you savage bastard), which still ranks as one of my favorite pieces of travel writing in modern history. In my late-20s, I messed around with writing on my own - I've still never taken a writing class of any kind - but I'd never been paid to write, unless you count critically acclaimed application user guides for the Federal Reserve System.

My first year of traveling and writing could be charitably described as 'half-assed'. I started off with a six month, high-speed tour of Europe, kept an exhaustive travelogue and sent out embarrassingly inept, naïve pitches, mostly to American newspapers who roundly ignored me. I didn't have a clue about the pitching process and I didn't have time to properly educate myself as traveling, writing and the allure of €3 bottles of wine effectively filled those early days. It was a disaster, but an enjoyable, character-building disaster. Also, I simply didn't have the chops back then.

It took more than a year of writing 2,000 words a day (usually after exploring a new city or riding a train for eight hours!) before I started finding my voice and even longer before I could organize a piece of writing with marginal skill, something I still struggle with.

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

My first published travel writing story actually happened with alarmingly swiftness. During my first month on the road, I met up with and profiled a groups of friends doing a long-distance unicycling tour in Norway's Arctic Circle. It was an idiot-proof local-interest story, as such a weekly rag back in Minneapolis picked it up, chopped about 2,000 heart-breaking words off the piece and printed it. I was paid US$90. Incidentally, my expenses for that leg of the trip were about US$400 (Norway is mega-expensive).

After that, an agonizing series of failures ensued. It wasn't until over a year later that a US executive business traveler magazine asked me to clean up my travelogue entry about Lisbon, paid me and, since I was in the neighborhood (en route from Romania to Greece), asked me to drop by Istanbul to do another article. I spent five nights in Istanbul - three of those in a five-star hotel, my first taste of comped accommodations - wrote the article the following week on the floor, in the hallway of a hostel in Athens, knocked 'em dead, serious clippings followed and it's only gotten better.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing ?

Here's what little advice I can confidently offer: Find the time, even if you don't have the time, to educate yourself about the industry before you get started, so you have a good idea about what to expect and you don't waste your time sending blind pitches about the Amsterdam sex and drug scene to Christian newspapers in Tulsa. Writing and travel writing blogs ranging from Written Road, to mine (Killing Batteries), to this one are profuse and excellent sources of information - or in my case, cautionary tales.

The unfortunate fact is there are a billion squillion travel writers out there, many of whom will work almost for free, so breaking in and making a living means full time (and then some) dedication. I'm not gonna advise anyone to quit their day job, but it's almost a necessity. Nights and weekends just aren't enough, unless your only goal is to see your name in print (which is, admittedly, a nice buzz no matter how jaded you become).

Writing every day is vital and traveling a lot only fractionally less so.

Find a niche, especially in the beginning (e.g. my summer in Romania turned into a Lonely Planet contract, whereas visiting 18 European countries in six months turned into nothing – well, nothing initially). After that you can branch out, collect more niches, direct...

If you do decide to quit your real job and jump in the deep end, unless you start off with good contacts, exceptional talent and/or a clue, it's likely you'll lose money (a lot of money!) for at least a year while you build your name, so prepare yourself.

Finally, pitch carefully. You're more likely to get published by spending a full day on a single, well-researched, laser-guided pitch than you are shot-gunning 50 blind, generic pitches in the same amount of time.

What do you see as the future for travel writers in the printed media and online ?

My take is that printed media is still king and will probably continue to rule for at least another decade. But technology, delivery and consumer preferences are going to drastically affect everything in the not-so-distant future. I realize that this isn't popular opinion, but I actually think this evolution will create more opportunities for travel writers.

As the finite number of print media outlets die off, infinite numbers of web sites, ebooks and stuff that hasn't been invented yet will blast off and someone has to provide content for all that stuff. I could be painfully wrong, and I often am, but for the record I predicted that Jesse Ventura would be governor of Minnesota nine months before the election, so I like to tell myself I have a certain prophetic instinct usually reserved for shamen and people struck by lightning.

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

Negotiating obstacles, bureaucracy and unremitting culture shock (and staying cool) while deadlines loom.

Trying to figure out where the bathroom is in the middle of the night when I'm changing accommodations every other day.

Hostel room snorers.

Trying not to look like a loser while eating alone in a restaurant in full view of 20 people waiting for tables out in the rain.(read about it here)

Finally, what is your favorite place and why ?

As of this moment, I've been to 283 cities in 41 countries (not counting the US). I have a list of favorite places that would double the already incredible length of this interview (the art of brevity still eludes me).

Briefly, and by no means comprehensively, Salzburg, Paris, large parts of Italy, Malaysian Borneo, Myanmar, Romania (for travel, not for living or working), Moldova (ditto), the whole of New Zealand, Norway and Australia, Scotland for the cool accents, Bangkok (and not for the reasons that you're thinking), and Minneapolis which I've belatedly come to realize is one of the coolest cities on the planet (apart from January, February and March when I'd rather be anywhere else).


(note from Liz: If you haven’t already discovered Killing Batteries, then you need to. It’s one of the most entertaining (laugh out loud) travel blogs online…and it also has lots of great information about traveling and travel writing)

Previous interviews:

Rolf Potts
Ian MacKenzie
Sheila Scarborough
Graham Reid
Candy Harrington
Terah Shelton
Rudy Maxa
Shannon Hurst Lane
Wendy Perrin
David Whitley

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How important is it for travel writers to take photographs?

I recently completed an article for a travel magazine and sent in some photographs to go with it. Unfortunately, my computer had crashed the week before and I lost the very best ones. So I had to settle for sending in ones I wouldn’t normally have chosen.

The irony of all this is that I was writing an article about organizing and sharing digital photographs… and I hadn’t even managed to organize and safely save my own photographs…

The editor accepted the photos but she did mention that they were ‘somewhat bleached out’…

It got me thinking…how important is it for the travel writer to be able to take good photographs? Do you need photographs to sell the story? And how good does good have to be?

Any thoughts?

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, May 14, 2007

Announcing the launch of the 'Travel Writers Carnival'...

Lately I have been participating in the weekly ‘Carnival of Cities’, submitting posts from my Christchurch Tour Guide and Travel Café Kiwi blogs.

For anyone who hasn’t visited and/or submitted to a blog carnival, it’s time you checked them out. There are over 1600 of them listed at the blog carnival homepage. Whatever your topic interest, there is probably one out there for you. Or you can start your own…I have.

So welcome to the official launch of the Travel Writers Carnival.

I figured it would be a great way to increase my computer skills and hopefully discover more interesting websites and blogs out in cyberspace. The whole idea could crash and burn but I figured I'd give it a go anyway.

Want to help me get this carnival going ?

Here’s the pitch….

The Travel Writers Carnival will feature articles and blog posts that look at the business of travel writing. From how-to articles to finding markets, from book reviews to travel gadget reviews, there will be something for travel writers of all levels of expertise.

The categories are:

-How-to articles about travel writing
-Articles about finding travel writing markets
-Book reviews, etc
-Tools of the trade - gadgets, cameras, what to take on your travels etc
-The Business of travel writing
-Photography for the travel writer


Have an article/blog post you want to be featured in the inaugural ‘Travel Writers Carnival’?

Post your submission on this carnival submission form by May 24, 2007 and I’ll do all the rest.

Spread the word and let’s see if we can get this carnival up and running…

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Problogger's 'Group Writing Project' nets 893 posts...

Day Three of the Problogger ‘Top 5’ Group Writing Project saw another 222 posts.

And on Day Four, 297 posts arrived.

Grand total for the Group Writing Project = 893

There’s just too many ‘Top 5’ posts to get through.

So I thought that I might just focus on ‘Top 5’ posts about writing.

Here’s what I found…(in the order in which I found them)

5 Elements of my Writer’s Sanctuary

5 Q’s with Allison Winn Scotch

Top Five Keys to Successful Persuasive Writing

Five Hard Truths of Freelance Writing

Using the Web to Find Writing Jobs (The first five steps)

5 Reasons Why Stand-Up Comics Make Better Copywriters

Top 5 Signs You've Graduated to the Copywriting Big Leagues

Top 5 Free Ways to Promote Your Writing Business

The Top 5 FREE Software Programs Every Writer Should Have

Top 5 Reasons Writers Should Procrastinate

Top 5 steps for bloggers to get written about in newspapers and magazines

When It's Time to STOP Writing

That’s it…I have to quit looking at the lists. My eyes hurt.

Let me know if I missed any…

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, May 12, 2007

One man’s dirt, another man’s canvas…

Creativity means different things to different people.

To me, it means putting words together into sentences, paragraphs, and articles.

To a chef, it might mean finding just the right spice to make a soup sing.

To an artist, it might mean mixing colors to get just the right shadow of blue.

And to Scott Wade, it means drawing on dirty cars…

Watch this Central Texas artist transforms the dust that’s settled on his car into art…

Want to see more - check out his gallery of dirty car art here

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, May 11, 2007

Probloggers’ ‘Top 5 lists’ keep on rolling in…

Day one attracted 132 posts.

Day two attracted 242.

Day Three can only continue the momentum…

But there are just not enough hours in the day to get through all the posts…although I’m sure each and every one of them is worth visiting…

So, like yesterday, I thought that I’d just list the five that caught my eye:

Shut Up And Write turns out to be about writer’s block (something we all suffer from)

Flying Travel Annoyances reminds all of us about the “joys’ of travel

The Top 5 Strangest Things I’ve Learned While Blogging for anyone who wants to watch cheese mature

Five Games You Need To Play To Live Well

The Top 5 Monkey Songs for those of us who never knew there were any…

You’re turn now.

Go and check out the hundreds of posts at Top 5 Writing Group Day One and Day Two and choose your favorites.

Better take some coffee and chocolate with you…

It’s going to take some time…

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Weekly 5 Top Blog Posts for Writers...

1. Teach Yourself - post on links to learning multimedia skills for journalists

2. 9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People

3. How To Become a Creative Genius

4. The Do’s And Don’ts of Submitting To Online Travel Magazines

5. Jazz Up Your Life Using These 11 Sports Psychology Techniques

Sphere: Related Content

The ProBlogger 'Group Writing Project' is a hit…

It’s amazing how many interesting blogs come out the woodwork (or should I say the blogosphere) when someone like Darren Rowse at Problogger Blog Tips sets up a blogging project.

Over 100 posts have been made about the 'Top 5...' on the first day, including my own ‘Top 5 Blogs that explain how we think’ and Sheila’s ‘Five Travel Blogs You Gotta Read’ over at Perceptive Travel Blog.

Having done some speed reading, trying to check out all the great posts, I thought I’d share 5 that caught my eye…(in no particular order)

Top 5 Spanish Tapas because I’m heading to Spain in September and I’m doing research…

Paris Hilton: The Top 5 Reasons for Driving While Disqualified because it made me laugh…

Five Super-Duper Easy Ways to "Green" Your Life because it’s important…

The Top 5 Reasons Why Barack Obama Could Be The Next President because it’s time for change…

My Top 5 Future Photowalking Locations because I love photographs…

Stay tuned. I’ll post more 'Top 5...' when I have time to check out what’s new…

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Interview with a travel writer...Rolf Potts

Today’s interviewee is Rolf Potts. Rolf is a successful travel writer, with credits in top magazines such as Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Outside, etc. He is creator and editor of, author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, and has a column called Traveling Light at Yahoo! News.

Hi Rolf and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. So glad you were able to find time in your hectic schedule to talk with us.

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

My writing aspirations can be traced back to about age 13, when I started writing horror stories in the style of Stephen King. This horror-writing phase didn't last long, but it helped winnow the creative urge, and familiarize me with the basics of putting a prose narrative together.

Later I became involved with my high school newspaper, and I wrote a humor column for my campus newspaper in college. After college, I traveled the United States for eight months, living out of a VW van. Fancying myself a kind of new Jack Kerouac, I tried to write a book about this travel experience, but that ultimately failed when I couldn't interest any agents or editors. Out of money and not sure what to do next, I went to Korea to teach English for a couple years.

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

In Korea, I learned how to live within another culture, and I became a more seasoned, instinctive traveler. I also learned from the shortcomings of my failed USA travel book, and sharpened my writing, keeping in mind the narrative needs of my readers. During my second year in Korea, I rewrote one of my USA book chapters (about Las Vegas) and sold it to's travel section. Encouraged by this small success, I strengthened my relationship with my Salon editor by writing some travel stories about Korea. He published about five of them.

At this point, I'd saved a lot of money from teaching, and I'd planned on traveling through Asia and Europe for over a year. Since I had an editorial contact at Salon, I decided to pitch him with a travel column idea. He wasn't sure about this idea at first, so I hit the road on my trip and continued to write stories.

It just so happened that Leonardo DiCaprio was shooting the travel-oriented movie "The Beach" in Thailand, so I decided to try and sneak onto the set of the movie as an experiment about the motivations and idiosyncrasies of travel. My attempt to sneak onto the movie set failed, but the resulting story, "Storming The Beach", made the cover of Salon and landed in the 2000 edition of The Best American Travel Writing. I got the travel column at Salon, and that turned out to be a big turning point in my career, as it raised my exposure one-hundred-fold. Editors of glossy magazines like Conde Nast Traveler invited me to write for them, and I've been freelancing for various travel venues -- National Geographic Traveler, Outside, Slate, Islands, the San Francisco Chronicle, etc. -- ever since.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing?

Travel a lot. Read a lot. Write a lot. Unless you're obsessively well-traveled, well-read, and committed to developing your narrative voice, you're going to get out-written by people who are willing to concentrate on these things.

Rarely do people become professional travel writers before they have done lots of travel on their own dime - so be prepared to do that. One great way to do this is to live overseas for awhile. Get a job as a stringer or an English teacher or a bartender and experience a culture at gut level for awhile. It will make a huge difference in how you perceive and experience other cultures.

It also helps to find an area of expertise. An area of expertise might be a physical area, such as Southeast Asia or Scandinavia, or the Rocky Mountains; or it may be a travel specialty, such as extreme sports, or golf, or low-budget travel, or spa travel. Keep in mind it will take you a long time to accumulate expertise -- but you'll have fun doing it. With enough expertise, you may be able to write for (or create) guidebooks, and you can do lots of freelancing on the side.

At the end of the day, though - and I'm sure this holds true for all kinds of journalism - how well you write will make or break you. You can have the wildest adventures on earth, or understand a culture through and through, but unless you can write well, your career isn't going to go anywhere.

What is your biggest challenge in the research and writing process?

I'm a slow writer and a somewhat obsessive researcher, so often the biggest challenge is knowing when to stop researching and start writing. Research can often be an excuse for procrastination.

Another challenge of the writing process is focus, the process of sitting down and actually putting in the time to get the work done. On the road, distraction and spontaneity are good things, but at your desk you have to stay disciplined, not let yourself get distracted, and get your work done even if it's not always fun.

What do you see as the future for travel writers in the printed media and online ?

I think printed media won't change a whole lot, though of late I've noticed print venues are skewing their coverage to service-oriented topics instead of experiential ones. Online travel media will continue to be dynamic and experimental -- for instance, now there seems to be a big demand for video, because of YouTube, though I'm not sure how long that will last (and that doesn't really count as writing). So online travel media will probably always be distinguished by length -- that is, short length -- since the web reader has a shorter attention span than a person with a magazine or newspaper in their hands.

Finally, where is your favourite place and why?

This is tough, since I love so many places, including much of the American West, even if it's not exotic per se. I like Laos, even though I've caught cholera and dysentery there. My best adventure there was buying a local fishing boat and driving it 900 miles down the Mekong -- and I think what makes you fall in love with a place is invariably tied into the adventures you have there. I also love Mongolia and Patagonia -- both for the wonder of their landscape. I love Paris and New York or their beauty and urban energy and sense of possibility.

There are great aspects of any place you visit.


Previous interviews:
Ian Mackenzie
Sheila Scarborough
Candy Harrington
Terah Shelton
Rudy Maxa
Shannon Hurst Lane
Wendy Perrin
David Whitley

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

'Five Travel Blogs You Gotta Read'

My Year of Getting Published was listed as one of ‘five travel blogs you gotta read’ over at Perceptive Travel Blog.

And I’m in great company. The other four blogs are:

The Perrin Post
Killing Batteries
This Just In
The CHOW blogs

Sphere: Related Content

Top 5 Blogs That Explain How We Think...

Harmony over at Writer in the Making gave this My Year of Getting Published a ‘Thinking Blogger Award’. Wow - my blog is an ‘award winning blog’. I’m honoured.

This got me thinking about the blogs that make me think. Not just the ones that ones that entertain me and encourage my writing endeavours. But the blogs that explain the thinking process.

And at the same time, I discovered that Problogger was running a 'Top 5 Group Writing Project’ where you post about your Top 5 of whatever you choose.

So I decided to post on ‘Top 5 Blogs That Explain How We Think’.

Smartkit Website - this blog is like a gymnasium for the brain, full of brain teasers, brain art, and brain research. (favorite post so far: What sleep research can teach us about unlocking learning potential: Crucial Student Study Skills)

Pick the Brain - this site aims to inspire through through reflection and self-education, offering insightful and interesting posts. (Favorite post so far: Brainstorming ways to get attention)

Brain Based Business - focusing on brain research and how the brain works, especially in business and the work place, Dr Ellen Weber provides interesting, educational and informative posts on how to get the most out of your brain. And it’s all written in easy to read and understand manner. (Favorite post so far: (25 Quick Brain Facts to Rate Your Workplce Intelligence). - a blog that focuses on ways to organize and increase productivity in your life and in your business. Helps you think outside the square. (Favorite post so far: Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials)

Mind Hacks - find out what’s going on inside your brain by learning about recent research in neuroscience and psychology. (Favorite post so far: the weekly ‘Spike Activity’ post that provides quick links from the past week in mind and brain news)

Anyone else have one to add???

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, May 07, 2007

Looking for new office chair...

I’ve been looking around for a new office chair. Mine is so old that it doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles of a good office chair. In other words, it’s missing wheels, hydraulics, arms, and lately, has lost it’s padding. Definitely time for a change…

This isn’t a new plan. If you remember, getting a new office chair was goal #8 on my writing goals 2007.

What I’ve found so far…

What do you think? Apparently it’s a hot new trend…

So I’ve been doing a bit of reading about it…but as far as I’m concerned the jury is still out…

My Chair - An Exercise Ball

Opinion: Balls as Office Chairs a Bad Idea

Exercise Ball Chairs

Meanwhile, think I’ll just go grab a cushion to add padding to my aging chair…

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Reflections on the NZ Freelance Conference 2007...

Earlier in the week I headed up to Auckland for the NZ Freelance Conference. It was a day long conference attended by about 100 writers from the established to the aspiring (ie me).

It was a full on schedule but the organizers managed to keep everything to time by holding up a time card at 2 minutes and at times up...which unfortunately sometimes cut into an important line of discussion.

What did I learn:

- I learned that one of the magazines that I had planned on submitting to had no interest whatsoever in getting any submissions from new freelancers. As the editor said ‘she has a stable of freelancers and isn’t looking for more’.

- Another editor said ‘the door was open to freelancers…and to…bring on the article ideas’ (note to self - formulate ideas in query letter and send of end of next week).

- A publisher for a group of magazines also said ‘his company open to working with new freelancers and always on the lookout for ideas…as his company constantly planning new magazines.’ (another good lead)

- The pay for freelance writers in New Zealand was stuck at around 40 cents a word and not likely to change any time in the future. And one magazine apparently paid 40 cents a word for the first 1000 words and then 20 cents a word all words over a 1000.

I was inspired by:

- Listening to the stories of writers how have been successful in establishing their freelance writing careers. For a while I started to feel downhearted as each and every one of them had come from a journalistic background.

- But then I listened to Hsin-Yi Cohen’s journey ‘from scratch to specialty in a year’ and was re-invigorated with hope. Hsin-Yi has managed to take her passion, dogs, and develop what sounds like a fairly lucrative freelance career writing about dogs…mainly for magazines and websites overseas.

- Talking to others at the conference who were also working on developing freelance writing careers and how they were going about it.

- The discovery that there is a freelance writers group here in Christchurch. I have made contact with the organizer and am now on their mailing list. They meet once a month.


Earning a living wage as a freelance writer in New Zealand can be done but not by many. The successful ones were the ones who specialized and the ones who sold their articles overseas….both of which I am already doing…so it looks like I might be on the right track…

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Finalists in 'This Just In' blogging contest...

Last month I posted about This Just In, Budget Travel magazine’s new blog and the blogging contest they were running.

Here are the four finalists in no particular order:

A Gourmet Food Guide for Budget Travlers - Roselyn Sugay-Helbling
Quest for the World’s Best Beer - Nick Wusz
Dear First Time Vietnam Visitor - Ourman
Spa Bargains for less than $100 - Kyla Kelim

The winner will be determined by the number of comments left on their post, so head on over and put in a vote.

One of the finalist, Roselyn from Gourmet Traveler, entered the contest after reading about it here.

Want to help Roselyn out…leave a comment on her post…

Congratulations, Roselyn, for making the cut. Keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed that you win...

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Interview with a travel writer...Ian MacKenzie.

Today we talk with Ian MacKenzie, travel writer and editor of Brave New Traveler, an online travel magazine and co-founder of TravelBlogger, a travel blogging community.

Ian, 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?

Acutally, I originally wanted to be a cartoonist. I basically ripped
off the style of Garfield and created two dinosaurs called Tyler and
Terry. I put together a book of comics and sold it to local kids for $5
each. A few years later, and a number of rejection letters from major
national papers, I decided I didn't have much of a future in cartooning.
Instead I started writing – mostly fantasy and science fiction. I
took a course in high school, and did well, so writing made more and
more sense.

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

Well after high school, I began to take writing seriously. I worked on
a writing diploma at a distance learning college and researched various
print magazines where I could submit my work. I had moved on from
fantasy and science-fiction stories by then, gravitating instead towards
horror (I was a big fan of Stephen King at the time). Ironically, my
first accepted short story was a science-fiction piece I wrote without
much intention to sell it. I got the word while backpacking through
Australia and it was a nice ego boost. I decided then that I would start
to write about my experiences abroad, and hence, began “travel writing.”
Upon my return I published a number of pieces in local newspapers and
online travel magazines.

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

Be persistent. This means sending you submissions to a never-ending
stream of publishers. It also means you have to learn how to deal with
rejection. Your submissions will be rejected for a number of reasons:
not the right tone for the magazine, not the right style, not the right
timing. But take heart that it's part of what every writer must
experience. Stephen King, in his book “On Writing”, describes how he
took every rejection letter he received and hung them on a nail. By the
time he sold his first story, he couldn't fit any more on the first
nail, and had to add a second.

4. Having developed Travelblogger and Brave New Traveler,you obviously believe in internet as a place for travel writers. What do you see as the future for 'travel blogs'?

I think travel blogs and travel writing are seen as interchangeable, but
I believe they're two different ways of describing an experience.
Travel blogging is generally a personal account, more like a diary.
Whereas travel writing is more the “classic” style, a focused narrative
about a certain topic. Obviously there will always be crossover, but I
think both types can exist without encroaching on the other. As travel
blogs become more rich (with video and audio added) the challenge will
be for travel writing to offer as compelling an experience. National
Geographic has already embraced this idea, and offers a number of web
extras with most of their print articles, such as behind the scenes
photos, video clips, and wallpapers.

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

The biggest challenge is dealing with uncertainty. No guaranteed income
or immediate plan for the future can be stressful, so being a travel
writer isn't for everyone.

6. Finally, what is your favorite place and why?
I really enjoyed Laos in Southeast Asia. It was beautiful, warm, and
populated with friendly locals who were a little unsure of how to deal
with the relatively recent influx of outsiders, but welcomed us
nonetheless. The atmosphere was world's away from the hustle of
Vancouver, which in itself is known for being Canada's most laid back
major city. Plus, I'm a sucker for the tropics.


Thanks Ian. Anyone who hasn't already stopped by Brave New Traveler really should make the's definitely worth a visit.


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

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Tuesday Question???

I’m off tomorrow to Auckland for the NZ Freelance Conference so I’m trying to keep up to date with my blogging before I go.

It’s pretty easy to do with my blogs on Word Press as you can simple type in advance and then time stamp it. (need to know how, then check out this article Working Ahead - Future Posts with WordPress).

But I can’t seem to find a way to do the same thing at The best I’ve figured out so far is to type a draft post. But if I then decide to publish it, it shows up on the blog on the date it was written, not the date it was published.

So the Tuesday Question: Does anyone know how to pre-publish posts on How do I write the post today and have it show up on Thursday ? Any ideas…

Otherwise, Thursday will have to be a no post day for me…

Sphere: Related Content
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...