Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How addicted to blogging are you?

I’m only 64% addicted…guess that means it’s not totally controlling my life - yet!!!

64%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Free Online Dating from Mingle2

Go ahead - click on the graphic to find out addicted you are...

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 30, 2007

More live-blogging from BlogHer 2007 Conference…

More live-blogging links from Day Two of the 2007 BlogHer Conference.

The Art of Foodblogging (blogged by Risa Beckwith) - all about food blogging and the foodblogging community.

Professional Blogging: Ways and Means - (blogged by Becky Scott) - looking at ways you can be paid to do what you love.

Professional Blogging: Art and Commerce (blogged by Anne-Marie Nichol) - addresses the business side of making money with your blog.

These links are only the tip of the iceberg. The whole list of live-blogging sessions can be found here.

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Live-Blogging brings the BlogHer 2007 conference to you...

The BlogHer 2007 conference is being held in Chicago this weekend and thanks to the volunteer live-bloggers, people like you and me can follow the sessions online. It’s not like being there. But it’s pretty close.

Here’s some of the session highlights from Day One:

Finding and Following Your Passion (blogged by Laurie White) - featuring panelists Christine Kane, Sheila Scarborough, and Carmen Staicer talking about following your passion in blogging and writing.

Self Branding and Self Promotion (blogged by Barbara Rozgonyi) - featuring Nina Burokas, Penelope Trunk, and Stephanie Cockerl discussing finding your own personal voice and personal brand.

The Art of Storytelling (blogged by Christopher Carfi) - looking at the art of writing and how to find your unique voice.

Our Bodies, Our Blogs (blogged by Tanya Taylor) - which asks the question ‘Can blogging be the perfect vehicle to expose and break unhealthy influences and build a healthy identity tied to how we look?’

The Art of Writing Reviews (blogged by Anne-Marie Nichols) - practical know-how about writing reviews from established reviewers such as Mia Kim, Claire Zulkey, and Eugenia Williamson.

There’s some great information to be discovered here for bloggers and writers keen to learn more about the written word.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, July 27, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer…Roberta Beach Jacobson

Today we are in Greece, interviewing travel writer Roberta Beach Jacobson. Roberta has contributed to over 40 books with titles such as Kids, Have You Seen My Backpack? , Rite of Passage: Tales of Backpacking ‘Round Europe, and Travelers’ Tales Greece.

You can find Roberta’s articles in print and online publications such as Transitions Abroad, The Christian Science Monitor, Guardian Unlimited, Family Life Abroad, Disappearing Acts, and Better Budgeting. She is a weekly columnist for The Right Way to Travel and writes for The Net Wits blog.

Hi, Roberta and welcome. Thanks for stopping for a chat at My Year of Getting Published.

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

Sometimes I wanted to be a short story writer, other times a ballerina. In my young years, I also dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. I was eight or nine when my first piece was published in an American magazine for kids. Later I was news editor of my high school newspaper, but I drifted into careers not at all related to journalism. For two decades, writing remained nothing but a hobby - something to occupy weekends and evenings. I sold poems and greeting card verses, also a few short travel pieces and humor essays. In truth, I viewed myself more of a reader than a writer.

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

I'm still waiting for it!

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

You shouldn't do it simply hoping to nab some free trips, that can't be the motivation for such a career choice. I guess a writer should start out small. Don't send your first article to National Geographic. Try some fillers or letters-to-the-editor to your local newspapers. Realize your home turf has worthwhile museums, parks or other attractions. Practice writing about those. You can't sell if you don't write, so just keep at it. So what if 80 percent of your efforts get rejected? Concentrate on the 20 percent getting published and just go forward.

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

Due to the environmental impact of travel, I expect editors will feature more weekend get-aways or close-to-home coverage. It seems to me article length in both print and online media is getting shorter. I suppose readers have shorter attention spans, coupled with limited free time.

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

Time is limited when you zip around place-to-place. It would be nice to have a leisurely picnic on the beach, but you've got tourism people to interview and museums to check out. Your pace is hectic and you always have one eye on the clock. It's not unusual to eat the appetizers in one restaurant, the main course in another, dessert in yet another. Spending time viewing hotel rooms is not exactly fun, but you'll need that information for your articles. To me, being on the road is much more work than play.

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

Europe holds a special place in my heart. I left suburban Chicago, Illinois (U.S.) in 1974 and relocated to Europe. I love the architecture, the food, hearing the various languages, just wandering around. I've been a tour guide around Costa Brava, Spain and on Rhine River cruises in Germany. I make my home on a remote island in the Aegean. We're nearer to Turkey than Greece, but this is a Greek island. My photographer husband, Alf, and I have lived here since 1999. I always said if this didn't work out, I'd like to live in the Czech Republic. Who knows? We've got another 10 years until retirement. My husband thinks Canada and Iceland sound attractive, so we just might end up living elsewhere.


Previous interviews:

Keith Kellett
Nicole Cotroneo
Barbara Sjoholm
Mike Gerrard
Heather Hapeta
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

Internet LOST...

I've just spent the last couple of days in an 'internet free zone'. It wasn't planned, it wasn't anticipated, and it sure wasn't appreciated. But it happened anyway.

Long story short, I had a technician come around on Wednesday to install a wireless router to give us freedom of movement with the internet. But this simple task became complicated by the fact that said wireless router was a dud!

After two hours of attempting to connect, the technician left to get a replacement router...and didnt' come back for two days.

Meanwhile, the internet was LOST.

But it's all fixed and wireless now...so let's get on with the show.

I'll post the latest 'Interview with a Travel Writer' and 'Top 5 Weekly Posts for Writers' later today (after I've cleared my emails...) and then we'll be back on schedule...

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What Travel Writers have to say about Harry Potter…

It seems that even travel writers are writing about Harry Potter.

World Hum’s writing about Harry Potter, Billy Graham Get Theme Parks

Family Travel looks at Harry Potter when you travel with kids

The Courier-Journal find out that the Harry Potter tours are pure magic

The Washington Post goes On Holiday With Harry Potter

MSN Travel tells us Universal to Get Harry Potter Theme Park

Fodor’s lists Harry Potter's Top 10 Haunts

Budget Travel Online has put together The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a guide for travellers to Harry Potter’s world.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 23, 2007

Have iPod can travel…

A couple of weeks I mentioned that I had been reading through old copies of National Geographic Traveler and Budget Travel magazines. One of things that kept catching my eye was all the information out there on audio tours and MP3 and iPod city tours.

I had always looked at the iPods as a music appendage that teenagers and runners had connected to the ears. I hadn’t planned on ever getting one.

But that changed once I saw what a great travel tool it could be. I hadn’t realized that you could download city tours and other travel information plus audio books. Imagine no more lugging around heavy books in the luggage. I’m a convert.I now have an iPod.

So far I’ve loaded on 11 hours of music. That’s enough to get me from Sydney to Singapore. To get all the way to London, I’ll have to listen to it twice.

I have also downloaded free copies of The Rough Guide to Eating and Drinking in Madrid and The Rough Guide to Eating and Drinking in New York City.

And thanks to Lastminute.com (where I had booked some accommodation) I have now got an iPod Translator for six languages. So I can ask ‘where’s the toilet’ in Spanish, Germany, Dutch, Italian, Greek, etc…

Now all I have to do is find some audio books...

I wonder if Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has been made into an audiobook yet???

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Does Harry Potter Die ?

For Harry Potter fans, this is the burning question that will be answered in the latest and last installment of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Most fans spent yesterday and today reading through the 608 page book, enthralled by the story of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Most are still reading.

But for those who can’t or won’t wait to read it for themselves, the reviews have already hit the stands. Not to mention over 130 reviews by readers at Amazon.com.

Complements of speed reading critics such as Anne Jones of the British tabloid The Sun and Kate Muir of the Times of London, you can find out the answers without turning a page. You have to ask, though, how much enjoyment can you get from reading a book in 47 minutes. In a rush to get to the end, wouldn’t you miss so much of the journey along the way ?

Personally, I’m going to forsake the reviews… and read the book.

But for anyone who wants to know the answer right now, here’s a couple of reviews to check out:


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows reviewed by Scotland on Sunday

Final Potter does not disappoint from BBC News.

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Bathroom Diaries...

It always amazes me at what you can find on the internet. A recent search for information about New York City resulted in discovering The Bathroom Diaries.

It is a site that has searched the globe so that you will know where to go when you need to go…

It lists over 10,000 bathrooms around the world, rating them on cleanless, ease of access, and safety. What more could a traveler ask for ?

Having just read the Lonely Planet New York City (2000) which said ‘New York is not friendly to the weak of bladder…’ I was relieved to discover The Bathroom Diaries disagree and have published an extensive list of toilets around NYC, listed by street blocks.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Press Trip: Great Deal or Big Hassle ?

(By guest blogger Sheila Scarborough of Family Travel)

The press trip.

It’s a constant source of discussion and interest on the Travelwriters.com BBS (there’s a Press Trip thread,) the mediabistro forums (here’s a discussion about travel writing and “press junkets” ) and other online places where writers hang out.

So, what’s the real info on the organized press trip? Since I’m just back from my first one as a travel writer, Liz was kind enough to let me give you some insights.
My experience was somewhat unusual because this was a “family press trip,” so there were spouses and kids invited. We were a small group, with an eclectic mix including a radio broadcaster, a family magazine editor and me, the Family Travel blogger and full-time freelance writer. Our trip was sponsored by the Greater Williamsburg (Virginia, USA) Chamber & Tourism Alliance, which is eager to position this region as a family destination.

It’s called the Historic Triangle, and includes the “living history” city of Colonial Williamsburg, America’s first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, the American Revolution battlefield at Yorktown, the Busch Gardens Europe theme park and Water Country USA water park. Lodging, meals and entry fees to the attractions were covered; we just had to fly from Texas to Virginia.

How did I get such a deal? It was my Family Travel blog post about the Williamsburg area.

A person doing PR work for the Historic Triangle got my name and blog info from someone that I met at a blogging conference, and she sent me an email with updates about the family activities in that part of Virginia.

I had been there before a few years ago, as a single person and again with my kids, so I already knew it was a lot of fun, plus I was drawing a blank for blog post ideas that day and her info-packed email helped to jump-start my brain. The VisitWilliamsburg PR people were thinking about sponsoring a family press trip; they saw my post through links to their sites, read my blog and thought I’d be a good candidate for their trip, and so they emailed me an invitation.

Lesson – you never know what your blog’s content will bring you, so try to always write good stuff and get yourself and your words out there through networking.

Press trip positives: Well, duh – a free trip! Our lodging was at a lovely resort called Kingsmill, which I frankly could never have afforded on my own. I’d been to the Historic Triangle before, so this chance to re-visit the sites added depth to my knowledge and enjoyment of the trip. The PR organizer, Kate Hoving, was a superb professional who flexed to any request. She was very sensitive to the blazing midsummer heat’s effect on children visiting historical sites (in other words, when families ran out of energy, there was absolutely no pressure to stick to the formal schedule.) The group was small and we were each able to go at our own pace.

Press trip negatives: There wasn’t a whole lot of notice about the trip, only a few weeks, and I had to come up with funds for four airline tickets plus car rental. A flexible schedule is still a schedule, and I prefer independent travel. Writers need time to think, reflect and write/blog each day, and it was tough to find that time with family along. Finding good, solid, preferably free Internet connections for blogging and uploading photos was an ongoing frustration.

Plus, what if the attractions or lodging were terrible – wouldn’t I feel sort of obligated to write positive stuff anyway after getting all of these goodies? Fortunately, this was a marvelous trip; since I’d been to the venues before I had a pretty balanced view, but I could see how the ethics issues might get interesting.

There wasn’t much time to work up pitches/queries to sell articles about the trip, plus my usual print travel publications do not allow comped travel. The Historic Triangle topic has been pretty saturated here in the US because of extensive press coverage of this year’s 400th anniversary of the Jamestown landing. I didn’t have time to properly pitch unique angles or overseas publications, at least not before the trip.

So here I had great free travel but no one to write for except my blog.
I decided to turn all of my attention to online outlets, even quality-but-unpaid ones like World Hum, and of course write a bunch of solid posts for my Family Travel blog, a couple more for the Perceptive Travel blog and guest posts for Liz and the DC Traveler blog.

A last-minute cell phone call to my Automotive Traveler editor snagged an assignment to work up a Williamsburg area family road trip article for later in the year, but it needed to feature a halfway decent automobile, so I called Budget Rent a Car and upgraded to a Ford Mustang convertible to pick up in Virginia (that sounds pretty nifty until you cram a family of four plus suitcases into a topless car in the heat of summer; the thrill was short-lived until the temperature dropped a bit.)

Bottom Line: When the “good deals” start coming your way as a writer, be ready to jump, but know what you’re getting into. Do not be an unprofessional leech who just looks for free trips (with your spouse “the photographer” tagging along.) Take advantage of your PR representative’s wealth of knowledge, but use good judgment and don’t be swayed by pretty Potemkin villages. PR folks are paid to sell their attraction or location, and you are paid to provide well-researched, objective travel writing. The press trip is simply one more tool in a writer’s desk drawer; use it wisely.

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Book Passage Bookstore hosts 16th Travel Writers & Photographers Conference...

The annual Book Passage’s Travel Writers & Photographers Conference is happening again this August.

Location: Book Passage Bookstore, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, California 94925

Dates: 16 - 19 August 2007

Cost: $635 for conference (transport and accommodation not included)

Sign up here.

Who’s going to be there: Don George, Catharine Hamm, Robert Holmes, Georgia Hesse, Mikkal Aaland, Amanda Jones, Isabel Allende, Jamaica Kincaid, Lea Ashkenas, Jennifer Leo, T.A Barron, Peter McBride, Jim Benning, Linda Watanabe McFerrin, Larry Bleiberg, Jeff Pflueger, Kimberley Cameron, Matthew Polly, Broughton Coburn, Rolf Potts, Erica Duecy, Amy Rennert, John Flinn, Jason Roberts, Paola Gianturco, Michael Shapiro, Brice Gosnell, Thomas Swick, Jeff Greenwald, Alison Wright, and Larry Habegger.

That’s whole heap of talent travel writers and photographers all in one place. Sure wish I could go but I’m already committed to Spain and New York this year. But next year…there’s a thought. Have to add it to my wish list…

Anyone out there lucky enough to be going to the conference ??

Sphere: Related Content

Weekly Top 5 Posts for Writers...

1. [Review] Flippen’s Sweet Book

2. Interview: David Miller, Editor of Matador Travel

3. 10 Essential Steps to Avoid Freelance Headaches

4. The Query Letter, Part One

5. Brand Your Career With A Web Site

Plus two:

Keeping Track of Your Writing Success

Bloggers Bring in the Big Bucks (How a personal obsession can turn into a popular favorite and maybe even a full-time job)

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Interview with a travel writer...Keith Kellett

Today we are talking with British travel writer Keith Kellet who writes primarily for the internet. He is the Lenscape editor at Just Say Go and UK correspondent at GlobalFoodie. His articles can be found at various websites including France for Freebooters, Time-Travel Britain, Live Life Travel, and Nature of Animals. He also maintains the Travelrat's Travels blog.

Hi Keith and thanks for stopping by for a few questions.

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

When I was at school, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to join the Air Force, or be a journalist. The careers master said I must make my mind up: I couldn’t be both! Unfortunately, he’s not with us any more, because I’d love to go up to him with my discharge papers and valedictory letter in one hand, and my journalism diploma and some clips in the other, and say ‘Nyaaah!’

One day, in the Mess bar, I was talking to the Education Officer who was also editor of the Station Magazine. I’m afraid I told her what I thought of her production, and she said she could only work with the stuff she received. And, if I could produce a phrase like ‘self-congratulatory, inward-looking, parochial pap’ while on the outside of half a gallon of best bitter, I should be able to produce a halfway decent article. When could she expect my first contribution?

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

I didn’t really have one. I started doing camping, hiking and outdoor stuff to subsidise these hobbies, and sort of drifted from there through history, nature, food and drink and local issues into travel.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing? Any tips to breaking into newspapers and magazines?

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to give up the ‘day job’. Try to diversify. Travel is a pretty narrow field, and there’s a lot of competition to get into it. In fact, if you can write in some other field as well, so much the better. As to breaking into magazines, best advice I can give is read all of them you can get your hands on, and try to work out what they’re not covering, what they need and if there’s maybe a place for your material. As we used to say in Westmorland ‘It costs nowt to ask!’.

And, if you can work out how to break into newspapers … please tell me!

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

It sounds like pie in the sky, but I foresee an increase in anecdotal, rather than informational travel writing in print, rather like writers such as Lawrence Durrell and Patrick Leigh Fermor used to produce. You see, guide books are out of date almost as soon as they’ve hit the streets. To a lesser extent, magazine articles which say ‘You should go to … ‘ rather than ‘We went to …’ tend to age somewhat, too.
You can get far fresher information from the Web. But, there’s a place for the more anecdotal kind of writing there, too.

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

Fitting into an economy-class airline seat!

Finally, what is your favorite place and why ?

Jordan! There’s so much to see, and everyone is so friendly and helpful … only an over-importunate baggage porter at Amman airport spoilt a 100% record!


Previous interviews:

Nicole Cotroneo
Barbara Sjoholm
Mike Gerrard
Heather Hapeta
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, July 17, 2007

Press Trips for Travel Writers...

What is a Press Trip?

How do you get on one?

Are they worth it ?

These are some of the questions we will be looking into over the next couple of weeks.

The quest for answers about press trips will start in a couple of days with an article by guest blogger Sheila Scarborough from Family Travel. Having just returned from a press trip, she asks the question ‘The Press Trip: Great Deal or Big Hassle?’

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bookstores in New York City...

I think I could spend weeks in New York City and still not get around all the bookstores. So I’ve made a list of the ones that really caught my eye. Hopefully I’ll get to a few of them in September…

The Corner Bookstore in Upper East Side who specialize in children’s and travel books.

The Strand Book Store in Greenwich Village apparently has eight miles of books spread over three floors.

Kinokuniya Bookstore located near Rockefeller Center is New York’s largest Japanese bookstore.

Kitchen Arts & Letters is a bookstore devoted to the subject of food and wine.

The Complete Traveller Antiquarian Bookstore on Madison Avenue has everything written about travel and exploration.

The Mysterious Bookshop is dedicated to the art of mystery writing.

McNally Robinson NYC and Teahouse

Books of Wonder (and Cupcake Café next to it)

I'm more than happy to add to the list so if anyone has a recommendation please let me know...

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bookstores in Madrid...

One of the things I always do when traveling is check out the local bookstores. Not just the local Borders or Booksellers but also whatever independent bookstores might be around.

So I’ve been doing some research on Bookstores in Madrid and have come up with a list of shops I hope to get to while in Spain.

Casa Del Libro is a three story bookstore in the heart of Madrid. According to Frommer’s ‘…The basement offers a great selection of dictionaries and grammar books, while a ground floor alcove has an up-to-date selection of English-language literature (alongside current French, German, Italian, and Portuguese tomes). The first floor houses a well-stocked international travel section with plenty of books on Madrid.’

Cuesta de Moyano is a an outdoor market (a literary Rastro) that sits on the pavements of the Paseo del Prado. The books are are secondhand and in Spanish, but I’m not looking to buy. I just want to wander, browse, and soak in the atmosphere that has remained unchanges for decades.

J&J is an English language bookstore named after husband and wife Jamie and Javi. There’s a café on the ground floor and a basement with over 15,000 books. Gridskipper says ‘…Small, cozy. J and J's Bookstore is the second best thing to being curled up at home in your favorite chair with your favorite book. Perhaps the only cafe/library/second-hand bookstore in Madrid, J&J's has got to be one of the coolest expat hangouts in the capital.’

La Libreria de Lavapies Books is, according to Gridskipper ‘…one of the coolest bookstores I've been to. It's colorful, alternative, has a subtle though intoxicating smell, and a great though limited selection of new and secondhand books in English, Spanish, and French, including reads in art, literature, spirituality, health, sex, religion, travel, dance, theater, and fiction. It also has the largest range of Moleskine notebook on sale, some of the best postcards of the city, offbeat gift items, and children's toys.’

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to get to them all, but if I had to choose one must see it would be the Cuesta de Moyano outdoor book market…

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Interview with a travel writer...

No interview this week.

But check back next week.

There are more interviews to come...

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Join the Carnival of Travel Articles...

Anyone with a travel blog should check out the Travel Minx and join in on the newly created Carnival of Travel Articles.

I discovered this blog the other day via a post at Perceptive Travel and went to check it out.

The first ever Carnival of Travel Articles presented a vast collection of posts from around the world, including our friend Sheila’s post about Japanese Vending Machines.

But my favorite post would have to be ‘Take a Virtual Walk in New York City this afternoon.’ What a useful tool.

The next carnival is due at the end of July.

Follow this trail to submit your travel post.

By the way, it turns out Shona Riddell, the author of Travel Minx, is a fellow New Zealand. It really is a small world after all…

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 09, 2007

Photography for the travel writer...

Two things happened recently that have caused me to focus on photography.

The first had to do with an article I was writing for an Australian magazine about ‘organizing your holiday photos’. I needed to send through some photos to accompany the article but I had lost all my best shots when my computer crashed a month or so ago. So all I could send in were second rate ones - the editor pointed out that they appeared washed out…which was true. I had, by the way, mentioned in the article how important it was not to store photos only in the computer, using my lost photos as an example!!

The second reason I’m focusing on photography is because I have finally got my new digital camera. I picked up an Olympus SP550 the other day and now have a less than two months to learn how to become proficient with it before heading off to Spain and New York.

So I’ve been surfing the internet to learn all I can about taking good travel photographs.

Here’s some of what I found in my travels…

Fodor’s Focus on Photos - How to Take Travel Photos like a Pro

Taking good travel shots can be a snap

The Restless Eye: Travel Photography

The Ten Most Common Photographic Mistakes

The Law For Photographers

Travel Photography: Taking Culture Rich Photos

Cultural Photography: What are the Attributes of a Great Cultural Photographer?

Food Photography Tips

Hot, Hot, Hot! Tropical Travel Photography

How to Take Better Pictures Outdoors

Breaking Shooter’s Block

Get the Picture

Wide Angle Photography - Shooting from the Hip

How-To: Photographing Food In A Restaurant (and Elsewhere On The Road)

Learn To Photograph Markets

Along the way, I found a few more sites to add to my RSS feed:

Andre Gunther Photography


Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, July 08, 2007

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

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

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer…Nicole Cotroneo

This week we talk with Nicole Cotroneo, a freelance travel writer from New York. She is a regular contributor for the New York Times and The Washington Post. Online, she is an associate editor of Globorati, a luxury travel website and author of the travel and food blog NY Girl Eats World.

Hi Nicole and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for finding time during your travels to stop in and chat.

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

Always. I remember writing poems in third grade -- and I had a very generous teacher who praised them. God bless her. Fortunately, as I got older, I realized that I was a terrible poet and I turned to prose instead. I still was quite a dreamer, though. Even through college I had the great delusion that I would make a living writing fiction. But then I graduated and, well, I had to eat. So I began freelancing for a small, community newspaper. I'd never even written for my college newspaper. I had to learn how to do "journalism" real fast. Luckily I was working with some fine writers and editors who gave me a crash course in the biz. Everything I know I've learned from working with talented people.

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

I was an assistant editor at a Long Island newspaper and I was sharing an office with a writer who was enormously overqualified for our paper. In addition to being a published novelist, he'd written travel pieces for papers and mags like the LA Times and GQ. We hit it off and he offered to put me in touch with a travel editor at The Washington Post. I pitched her a story and she gave me a shot. A very lucky break, indeed.

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

Don't be afraid to start small. We all want to see our byline in national magazines, but the only way to get there is to write, write, write for anyone and anything (well, you know -- with some discernment). Prove yourself to the editors you're working for on a local level and they will recommend you to their friends working in the Manhattan skyscrapers.

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

There's been an obvious shift in our industry. Online outlets have earned great credibility. They can break news faster than print media can. Before I started my blog I had a very snobbish attitude toward blogging -- those writers were the ones who couldn't get published. It was a terrible and narrow-minded view. I realized that I'd been living under a rock when I opened up Food & Wine one day and read an article about a food blogger. That was a big wake-up call for me. Now, I'm a complete convert. I'm not only blogging, I'm helping edit a luxe travel news and trends website.

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

Aside from the obvious safety issues, language barriers, etc., I think knowing when to put the pen and pad down is very difficult. As a writer I find that I process everything I see and do in my travels as a potential subject for a piece. Sometimes I have to pause and tell myself to simply enjoy the moment. When you're scribbling in a notebook, you're missing half the experience. Unless you're on a specific assignment, it's OK to let the moment wash over you. You have to trust yourself enough to know that those emotions and memories will stay with you -- and you can pull from them later.

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

My goodness, that's the hardest question yet! Last year I spent a great deal of time in southern Italy. It's a region that's still largely authentic. For a week I rented a little villa in a fishing village called Praiano on the Amalfi Coast. I suppose if there's one place I'd wish to be at any moment it would be there -- cooking in my little kitchen with fresh lemons I've picked from the tree outside, or at the beach, bobbing in the salty, emerald sea.

(note from Liz: Nicole's article Hey Neighbor is all about her stay in Italy)


Previous interviews:

Barbara Sjoholm
Mike Gerrard
Heather Hapeta
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, July 03, 2007

Travel by the book…

I spent the weekend reading through old copies of National Geographic Traveler magazine. Family and friends called it ‘laying around reading magazines’. I called it ‘market research’. It’s funny how the same activity can have such different meanings to different people.

So while doing my ‘market research’ I came across one of Daisann McLane’s Real Travel Columns called ‘By the Book’ (March 2006).

Daisann wrote ‘Every journey is a story that’s made infinitely richer by what gets read along the way’.

It got me thinking. So far, all I’ve read since deciding to go to Spain is guidebooks - Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, Fodor’s etc. I haven’t really had a chance to read anything written from a fiction or personal memoir take. Maybe it’s time I did. So I’m off to the library this week to find some books that go past where to stay and eat. I think I hunt out Hemmingway’s books about Spain.

Course, I’ll still have to come up with a book or two to read while I’m on the road (make that plane)

Any thoughts?

How do you decide what to read before you go?

Or is it what you read that has made you decide to go?

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 02, 2007

Things to consider if you’re thinking of creating a new blog…

I recently read two very interesting articles about things to consider when planning a new blog.

The first article, Use blogs as a career tool for becoming super-connected, looks at why blogs can be a good career move.

According to the Brazen Careerist (aka Penelope Trunk),

“Blogging allows you to create a high-quality network for yourself based, not on the old model of passing out business cards, but on a new model of passing out ideas.”

Furthermore, blogging also provides

“…the tools for blogging encourage people to measure the reach of their personal brand. You can measure the number of people who are talking about you (via Technorati) and the number of people who are visiting you (via SiteMeter), and you can see who is telling their friends to read you (via Mint).”

Of course, as freelance writers, we already know all this. Blogging provides us with an avenue to showcase our writing abilities and allows us to get our name in circulation. But it’s always interesting to read another person’s take on it and learn from other people's experiences.

Deciding to blog, however, is only part of the equation. You then have to decide what to blog about.

The second article, Choosing Another Blog Topic - Mind Map Review, is all about how to choose a blogging topic. Yvonne has done some serious brainstorming and created a great visual tool that highlights all the relevant issues you should consider before creating a blog.

Issues such as ’Deciding on Blog Topic and Focus’, ‘Finding Possible Popular Blog Topics’, and the need to ‘Explore the Niche’ before committing to the topic.

It definitely got me thinking…

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Monthly Roundup...(June)

Another month gone. And what did I do::

Query letters

- eight query letters sent (2 responses so far: “Thanks … but will give this story a miss” and “Sorry…we already have someone doing just this …”)

- one application sent for blogging position at Creative Weblogging (no response yet!)

Blog Carnival

- Hosted Carnival of Cities over at my Christchurch Tour Guide blog.


- wrote (almost) daily posts at My Year of Getting Published.
- wrote 4-5 posts a week at Alzheimer’s Notes.
- wrote 2-3 posts a week at Christchurch Tour Guide.


- starting to organize my trip to New York and Spain.

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