Friday, August 31, 2007

Monthly Roundup...(August)

August seems to have flown by. Between organizing and pre-posting for Alzheimer’s Notes and getting ready for the trip to Spain and New York, I’ve once again found very little time to send out query letters. I did manage to send out a few (I think around 4 but lost track somewhere) but none of them resulted in an assignment (yet!!!).

One more sleep and then I’ll be on the plane heading for Madrid (via Sydney, Bangkok, and London). It’s going to be a long, long, long flight. I get tired just thinking about it…

I’ll be turning this blog into a travelogue (technology allowing!!) while I’m away. I’m armed with a laptop and digital camera, so providing I can find WiFi hotspots, I should be able to post. Time will tell.

So stick around and follow my adventure…

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Interview with a travel writer...Kimberly Kradel

Today we talk with Kimberly Kradel, writer, artist, photographer and website producer and editor. Instead of seeking out places to publish her travel writing and art, Kimberly has developed her own place, the Artist-at-Large, where she and other writers and artists can express themselves. The website's tagline says it all - ‘exploring cultures with eyes open.‘

Check it out. It’s a smorgasbord of travel writing, art, and conversation.

Hi Kimberly and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for stopping in and chatting…

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

It was *one*, in a very long list, of the things I wanted to be. Fortunately I had parents and family that encouraged me in my interests, to a point. I think they would have rather that I had gone into journalism than art, or into a field with the possiblity of a stable income. But by the time I got out of high school, I knew that I was an artist, a photographer, a writer, and a traveler.

I thought that I was going to be a travel photographer, for an airline or a large travel agency. I loved the travel posters that were plastered throughout my high school's language classrooms. It didn't help that my grandmother was addicted to National Geographic and Life magazines. All the photos and destinations in the current issues were up for discussion at Sunday dinner.

I was a voracious reader as a kid. I was also an explorer. I started keeping journals and shooting photographs in art school and haven't ever stopped. But I'm an artist first and a writer second.

I also come from a family of storytellers, so writing down my life and travel stories isn't such a big stretch.

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

Working at Lonely Planet. Although I didn't write for them.

I had an office job at LP when I was a lot younger. Having that job really defined not only my focus on how I wanted to (or rather not wanted to) write about my travels, but also the subjects that I wanted to write about and the point of view from which I wanted to write.

It was during that time that I had the idea for, albeit in paper pub format, but it was a few more years before the web arrived and then a few more before I knew enough to actually develop it, produce it, and then had time to launch it. I made a lot of other career transitions between working at LP and launching my own site.

After LP, I worked at Ulysses Press as an Editorial Associate and Research Assistant before going full swing into the technology sector.

The cool thing about is that it combines all of my interests and abilities - art, travel, writing, photography, technology, and best of all, editorial control. I would not have gotten that satisfaction from just writing for someone else's publication.

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

First of all, do your homework. Read the magazines, newspapers, and web sites you'd like to write for. Get to know their voice and point of view.

Hone your observation skills! You will definitely need them.

Start local. Write about what you know. Sell an editor a story on the wonders of your hometown, or something close by. This will help build up your clips file.

I think it's a great idea to work for a publisher to really learn as much as possible about how the publishing industry works before setting out as a freelancer.

Read the posts on and MediaBistro. The 'How to Pitch' articles on MediaBistro are excellent to read if you're just starting out. (They're also good for experienced writers.)

Don't be beyond finding a mentor - someone who can read your writing and can give you a good honest critique. Friends will tell you what you want to hear, mentors will tell you what you need to hear.

Network. Network. Network. Editors and PR people move around a lot, so it's good keep your contacts up to date. Nothing is better than an editor you've worked for successfully at a regional magazine who then moves into an editorial job at a major magazine. Did you just hear that door open?

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

From my perspective, it's all about the internet and mobile information.

Whether you are writing for a content site, an online version of a magizine or newspaper, or if you decide, like I did, to go it alone and publish your own work on your own site, the internet is the place to be.

Guidebooks will always have their place, but they are outdated even before they are stacked on the shelves at the store. There will also always be a place for travel narrative in book publishing. But people are going more and more to the internet for the latest travel information.

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

The biggest challenge is funding the travel!

The second biggest challenge is getting my readers to overcome the stereotype that going to museums and archaeological sites is a touristy thing to do. Being an artist who travels, searching out masterpieces and historical references is part of my career. It's part of my ongoing education.

For most people without an art background, a museum may just be one more thing to tick off on an ever expanding list of must see places, even if they don't know why they are must see. Maybe it's those people I'm writing for? See what a challenge that is?

But, I've got publishing from the road down. Which means that because I travel with my cameras and laptop, I don't have to go home to add content to the site. That also means I can travel for as long as the money holds out and I don't have to be beholden to schedules. I can sit somewhere for a few weeks or a month or more and really get to know a place, absorb it. Because I don't travel by query, I don't have to see or experience certain places or events. Many times I don't write about some of my experiences until a good year after they happen, after I've had time to process them and decide how I really feel about them.

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

I don't have one. I have about a hundred. Trying to answer this question just makes me realize what an incredible place this planet really is.

But one of my favorites is Saint-Denis Basilica just north of Paris. I love gothic architecture and Saint-Denis is one of the best examples of that building style. It was the first gothic cathedral in France. I love to sit in the back on the steps and watch the light change through the windows. I feel a really strong connection to that building. It is always the first and last place I see when I visit Paris.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tom Miller talks about travel writing…

I’ve been a big fan of Tom Miller ever since I discovered the book Jack Ruby's kitchen Sink(Offbeat Travels Through America's Southwest).

So I pleased to find this recent interview with him.

Here's his advice for anyone considering going into travel writing:

'Don’t quote a cabdriver on the way in from the airport and don’t quote the bartender the night before you leave. Avoid using quaint, charming, nestled, and locals. You want more advice? There are innumerable web sites now devoted to out of the way places, and writing about them. Check out Travelers’ Tales’ site, for example. They’re a class operation devoted to quality travel writing. More advice? Don’t talk to publicists. Carry as few items as possible that require batteries.

Either familiarize yourself with a place thoroughly by reading reading reading, or else wing it. I’m of the former school; I wouldn’t travel anywhere to write about it without thoroughly learning its history and culture, but there are those who can pull it off the other way, too. Getting published on-line opens up far more opportunities than just on paper. And yes, there are on-line travel accounts that have ended up as books. Check out Lois on the Loose, for example.'

Read the full interview over at American Chronicle.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Bookstores in Madrid - Part II.

I posted in July about the bookstores that I hoped to visit while in Madrid. Of course, I wasn’t all that sure where exactly they were and how easy it would be to get to them. But now that I’ve discovered Google Maps, I can not only pinpoint the location but also create a map that shows me how to get from where I am (the hotel) to where I want to go (the bookstore). What a great tool.

So of course I have to try it out on the blog…

Casa Del Libro

View Larger Map

Cuesta de Moyano

View Larger Map


View Larger Map

La Libreria de Lavapies Books

View Larger Map

Now all I have to figure out is how to get all the directions placed on one map…

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Talking Travel at the 2008 SXSW Conference…

Sheila Scarborough from Family Travel has put in a proposal for a ‘panel about travel blogging’ at the 2008 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in Austin Texas.

Here’s what she has to say:

'One of the biggest blowouts of the year is just down the road from me in Austin, Texas: South by Southwest (SXSW.) It’s actually a three-parter conference of Interactive/tech, Film and Music.

This year, when the call went out for submissions for panel ideas for SXSW 2008, I thought….why not propose a panel on travel blogging?

Lots of people get started online by blogging about a trip or vacation; maybe I could help them and anyone else interested in writing about travel. There are also some great travel bloggers that I would kill to have on the panel with me, but I had to get through Step One.

The good news is that the SXSW organizers thought the idea had merit, so this week my panel suggestion went up for comments and votes, along with, oh, 687 other panel proposals. The “Panel Picker” process lets future SXSW attendees indicate which panels really interest them, and that weighs heavily into whether a panel is ultimately scheduled for the conference.

Yes, this is one way that people get to speak at a conference: they ask. Just be ready to stand up and talk if you ask and someone says, “OK!”

If you’re thinking about infiltrating SXSW (and there’s something for everyone, including pet lovers and crafters) then complete the quick/free registration process and vote for my panel:

Blog Highways: Travel Blogging for the Wanderer'

Sounds like a great idea to me.

Sheila’s been doing the rounds of blogging conferences this year. She attended the SOBCon07, the 2007 SXSW, and was a panelist (Finding and Following Your Passion) at BlogHer. So it’s probably a natural progression for her to consider proposing and chairing a panel on travel blogging.

But she needs our help. The more votes Blog Highways: Travel Blogging for the Wanderer gets, the more chance that it will selected. So head over, vote, and leave a comment for Sheila at the 2008 SXSW Interactive PanelPicker.

I have...

Not sure the SXSW Interactive is the right conference for you ? Check out last year's events - watch the videos and listen to the podcasts. It might just convince you to pack your bags and head for Texas next year...

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Guest Blog by Nancy Brown: The Book Passage Travel Writers & Photograpers Conference - A Review.

“Writing is like love making,” shared author Isabel Allende. “You find a place to do it; on a desk, behind a door.” Playing off her banter, The Great Tree of Avalon author T.A. Baron adds that writing begins with the senses. “Our job as writers is to change the world.”

Allende and Baron were two of the many writers who joined us at the 16th Annual Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference held August 16-19, 2007 in Corte Madera, California. From sunup to sundown we were writing ledes, creating the perfect nutgraf and searching for a sense of place while dining al fresco on California cuisine.

Morning sessions found us in classroom settings with San Francisco Chronicle Travel Editor John Flinn, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel Travel Editor Thomas Swick and Los Angeles Times Deputy Travel Editor Vani Rangachar or reviewing photos with Robert Holmes among others.

World Hum’s Jim Benning, Vagabonding’s Rolf Potts and LA Times Travel Deal Detective Jen Leo slogged us through the Brave New World of Blogging. And while blogging may be the wave of the future, not everyone’s blog spot will be acquired by The Travel Channel.

One evening a tall thin man addressed our group of travel writers daring us to spin the mystery wheel. Each peg represented one of Jeff Grenwald’s wild adventures. One of the tales he shared was from Burning Man. It involved an unquenchable thirst for ice cold Horchata tea and a long, blue penis. I guess you had to be there.

Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, came in for a touch-and-go landing as he regaled us with airline stories. He noted that we live in a world of citizen journalism.

Conference alum Paola Gianturco delved into the ethics of mindful journalism for the greater global influence and offered her website as a resource.

There were many well known publishers and writers such as Larry Habegger and Amanda Jones and photographers like Mikkel Aaland to rub shoulders with. I hesitate to list them all for fear of name dropping. I will say that Conference Chair Don George has a wicked sense of humor and Book Passage Owner Elaine Petrocelli's enthusiasm drives this thriving, independent bookstore.

The conference reminded me of my journalism college days when students and faculty engaged in animated conversation about the craft of writing and photo journalism. Afternoon private tutoring sessions were available for the ambitious. And what university experience would be complete without an evening fraternity party with alcohol fueled karaoke?

If you fancy yourself a travel writer or photographer, you’ll want to note next year’s August 14-17, 2008 conference dates. Visit Book Passage for more information.


Guest blogger Nancy Brown of California writes What a Trip for the Lamorinda Sun.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer...Tim Patterson.

Tim Patterson, aka The Rucksack Wanderer, is joining us today. Tim is travel writer who contributes regularly to online sites such as Brave New Traveler and Matador Travel, as well as the Common Language Project, Tales of Asia, and TravelMag. Tim has mainly focused on online writing but you can find his first full length magazine feature, Undiscovered Islands in Cambodia, in the Australian travel magazine Get Lost (issue 13). Tim is constantly on the move but you keep up with him at his blog Sleeping in the Mountains. He is currently planning on moving to Argentina for the rest of the year.

Hi Tim and thanks for stopping My Year of Getting Published.

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

First I wanted to be a fisherman. One of my earliest memories, from toddler times, is of proposing to a girl named Emily. We were eating green grapes and sugar cubes, and I told her I wanted to get married, but that I was going to be a fisherman, and was that OK with her? Happily, Emily accepted. I haven't seen her in almost 20 years though. Wonder how she's getting along.

The first stories I wrote were about fishing and animals. I idolized a fishing writer named Ray Bergman, who wrote for Outdoor Life magazine and died in the late 1960s. At age 8 my friend Brendan Wenzel and I wrote and illustrated an ambitious book entitled "A Field Guide to North American Mammals." I saw Brendan last week, actually - he's now an artist who sculpts giant animal puppets out of styrofoam and lives in Brooklyn with an albino hedgehog. So we're both chasing our dreams.

I've always loved to read, and had some talent for writing, but it wasn't until I tried a "real" job that I decided to take on writing professionally. It's a lot of work, but the thought of going back to a desk makes my blood run cold. My travel writing career is still three words that are difficult to say without choking, but I'm happy eating beans and rice and buying one new shirt every other year, so maybe I'll make it in this profession after all.

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

The first magazine feature I landed was with Get Lost, an Australian adventure travel magazine. I was living in a field in Northern Thailand at the time, building a hut out of mud and straw with a dear friend named Ryan Libre, who is an incredibly talented photographer. Ryan and I had just completed an expedition to a road-less coastal region of Cambodia and pitched a story about Cambodia's islands, which are just as beautiful as any in Thailand but totally undeveloped. We were living on about $150 a month and built the hut - windows and all - for only about $250, so after scoring the magazine feature it seemed feasible to support ourselves as writers and artists.

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

The most practical piece of advice I have is to start writing while you're still working a normal job, wait until you've built up some contacts and experience and then cut loose and go for it. Read Rolf Potts book Vagabonding, sell everything you own apart from a laptop and 2 sets of clothes, and hit the road. Don't start in an expensive country - you'll be broke long before you see your name in print. Instead, backpack around somewhere like Southeast Asia or Central America, where you can live cheap and find lots of material to write about. Consider renting a little bungalow in Thailand and drink water all day long in a shop with wireless Internet.

Discipline is vital. Write every day. If your computer breaks, write long-hand. If your hand breaks, hold the pen between your teeth and write that way. If you swallow the pen, bash your face against a wall until your nose bleeds and smear words on the paper with the blood. Write, write, write.

Don't be discouraged by rejection letters or editors who ignore your polished submissions. Persistence is the second most important thing, after discipline. Keep at it. When you get a reply, latch onto that poor editor like an African honey badger and don't let go until she changes her address or publishes your work. When you do get published, treat yourself to one wild night on the town, set your alarm for 7 am the next day, and get up and start writing again. Ernest Hemingway probably said that the test of a true writer is whether or not he will write hungover.

Magazines and newspapers? Good luck. Start online. Get yourself a blog - they're easy and fun. Submit to online travel magazines. I love, an up-and-coming travel community that pays for quality travelogues and just launched a "Bounty Board" feature, with a list of assignments in need of writers

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

The Internet is simply amazing. Anyone can publish Anything to Everyone from Anywhere, Anytime. There's just no way for traditional print media to compete with that. By the time I'm old and gray, very few people will still read print newspapers. My Mom says she hates reading on a screen, but my generation is different - we're growing up on Online is where it's all going. Already, you'll find some great travel writing on the Internet - check out sites like Worldhum, Perceptivetravel, Bravenewtraveler and MatadorTravel.

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

I was thinking about this question for a little while...and realized that my biggest challenge so far hasn't been on the road - it's been coming home. When I'm traveling, even when I find myself in a pickle - like the time Ryan and I ran out of water and food on a wild Cambodian island and were menaced by men with hatchets and AK-47 rifles - it's all part of the adventure. Strange as it may seem, the toughest part is being home, seeing my family, hanging out with old friends and wondering what the heck I'm doing with my life.

I can hike 5 miles through the jungle on a pack of ramen and some coconut milk, but I can't pet my cat without wondering if I should settle down and plant a garden and go to law school. Funny, isn't it. On the road, I'm just on the damn road, and life is wonderful.

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

This is impossible to answer, but let me try:

My favorite place is on the edge of a cliff, at sunset, or sunrise, with someone I love, and enough food and water to last us a day or two. The tent is rigged snug, our air mattresses are plump and our down sleeping bags are dry. There's a peak to climb, with snowfields to slide down, and a river below, with big, innocent trout in it. We have nowhere to be, and can build a fire if we need one.

If you're looking for destinations - here are some favorite places.

1) You Sabai - the best little cooking school in Northern Thailand

2) Salt Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands - my family's secret island

3) Craftsbury, Vermont - the most wonderful community in New England

4) Luang Prabang, Laos - the most romantic town in Asia

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Do Writers need a College Degree to Succeed ???

I recently came across a post ‘College Majors for Aspiring Writers’ that lists the types of majors that would most likely benefit someone who aims to make a career of writing. Here’s the list:

Creative Writing
English/English Literature
Theater Arts
Media Arts
Liberal Arts
Technical Writing

But do writers really need a degree to succeed as a writer?

I wonder…

I have a B.A. in Political Science and American Studies which I guess would be classified as a Liberal Arts degree. And while interesting and fun to do at the time, I can’t say that it’s helped much in my pursuit of a freelance travel writing career.

Surely it’s more important for a writer to have a passion to write rather than a degree that says they can…

What do you think?

What was your college major and how has it helped your writing career?

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Rolf Potts speaks...

I found this thanks to Justin Glow over at the Gadling blog. The video is of Rolf Potts speaking at the Google office in New York on August 2, 2007. He was participating in the Authors@Googles program.

It’s almost an hour long, so grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and listen.

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Blog Action Day 2007

'What would happen if every blog published posts discussing the same issue, on the same day? One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.'

This is what the organizers of 'Blog Action Day' hope to find out...on October 15, 2007

Here's the details from the website:

'Bloggers can participate on Blog Action Day in one of two ways:

Publish a post on their blog which relates to an issue of their own choice pertaining to the environment.

For example: A blog about money might write about how to save around the home by using environmentally friendly ideas. Similarly a blog about politics might examine what weight environmental policy holds in the political arena.

Posts do not need to have any specific agenda, they simply need to relate to the larger issue in whatever way suits the blogger and readership. Our aim is not to promote one particular viewpoint, only to push the issue to the table for discussion.

Commit to donating their day’s advertising earnings to an environmental charity of their choice. There is a list of "official" Blog Action Day charities on the site, however bloggers are also free to choose an alternate environmental charity to donate to if they wish.

And that’s it.'

I'm going to participate.I've signed up not only this blog, but also my Travel New Zealand and Christchurch Tour Guide blogs. I can't donate my day's advertising earnings (nothing to donate) but I can be one more voice to write about the environment.

What about you?

Register your blog now...

You'll be in great company. So far over 700 blogs, such as A Writer's Words, Cultivate Greatness, Digital Photography School, Confident Writing, and Successful Blog have registered.

Join the Blog Action Day...

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer...David Farley.

Today’s interview is with travel writer and editor David Farley.David writes for publications such as Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Washington Post, Sherman’s Travel, and epicurious. He also writes for online sites Perceptive Travel and World Hum.

He has contributed to and edited a number of Travelers' Tales books such as the Travelers' Tales Prague and the Czech Republic and 30 Days in Italy. And he has a book due out in Spring 2009 tentively titled Remnant of the Divine: the Search for Jesus' Foreskin, a travelogue/narrative history based on David's search for Christianity's most curious relic.

More on David and his writings can be found at his blog travel writing and its (dis)contents.

Hi David and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for taking some time to talk with us.

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

No, not at all. I’m sort of envious of those writers who say they knew they wanted to write from an early age. Instead, I was busy dreaming about winning the heart of Princess Leah and throwing rocks at things. I had great aim! And that was in college. Just kidding. Really though, I wanted to be a rockstar and in high school—in Los Angeles—I really pursued this with some vigor, playing clubs with my band and cutting demos in garages and so on. I actually didn’t throw my pen into the proverbial ring until I was in my late 20s. and I’m only 35 now. So, really, I haven’t been writing very long.

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

My first big break was when the Chicago Tribune ran a story I wrote about my wedding in Rome. But my very first break—or “opportunity” might be a better word—came when I was an editor at a San Francisco Bay Area arts and entertainment magazine. The day that I was going to turn in my notice so that I could go live in Europe for a while was the same day the editor in chief announced the magazine was adding a travel section. And after I told him my plans, he suggested exactly what I was hoping (as if I were willing him to suggest it): that I should be the magazine’s travel editor-at-large, filing stories from wherever I’m at. It turned out to be a lot of fun because the magazine didn’t necessarily want service-oriented stories, which allowed me to go looking for bizarre religious relics in Rome and illegally imported apes that were—apparently—occasionally set loose on the general public in the Paris suburbs (I brought a few rocks with me just in case I encountered a face-scraping ape).

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

It’s different in other English-speaking parts of the world, but in the United States, newspaper travel editors don’t want pitches; they want the piece totally polished and ready to publish. They want to the piece to have a clear angle and for nearly all the information in it to relate to that angle in some way. They want the angle to be original and unique and about something that’s service oriented (i.e. something a traveler can do too); finally, they want a sidebar with the usual where to sleep and where to eat information. For someone who is new to travel writing, this is good news—it means you don’t need the obligatory clips to send along with your story pitch. You just need to write the piece and offer it out there.

My other suggestion is to consider the front-of-the-book section of magazines. This is the section in the beginning of a magazine that features short 100- to 300-word pieces about newsy stuff like new and noteworthy restaurants, up-and-coming neighborhoods, and travel gear and so on. This is where the magazines take chances on new writers. The key though is that nearly everything they feature is brand new. I was recently in Turin, for example, and found a cool new supermarket that was sanctioned by the Slow Food movement; I thought it would have been perfect for a food or travel magazine and so I pitched it to a front-of-the-book editor and she wrote back saying she loved the idea, but because the supermarket opened up in January and they were working on the September issue, the story was already too old.

Finally, learn as much as you can about writing and about the business of writing. When I first started out, I really educated myself by reading William Zinnser’s On Writing Well, and James B. Stewart’s Follow the Story; I signed up for’s Avant Guild membership ($50 annually) so that I could read all the articles in the “How to Pitch” section as well as the transcripts on breaking into travel writing; I read travel stories like a writer—thinking about why the lede of the story was good or bad and I read every story to figure out what the angle was. It wasn’t out back than, but Don George’s book Travel Writing (published by Lonely Planet) would have been incredibly helpful.

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

All indications point to the internet. At least that’s what my Magic 8 Ball told me this morning! No, really, the web is making a huge comeback, which I guess is good for trees. As for the future of travel writers, for reasons that are valid and not-so-valid, I don’t see us getting any more respect from our journalist/writing peers than we have now (which is not a lot).

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

Getting to know a place well enough that I feel comfortable writing about it with confidence. It’s a never-ending philosophical dilemma: when do we know a place well enough to be able to write an informed piece about it? Sometimes when I’m on assignment, I’ll have only a few days in a place before I have to move on to the next. And I have to end up churning out a story with authority and confidence. For that reason, I spend hours and hours doing pre-trip research, reading everything from the place’s history to newsy stories about it to the dining and nightlife scenes. I want to step off the place and feel like I’ve already been to that place dozens of times. I’ve been mortified when I’ve heard stories about hack travel writers going to a place having not even read their guidebook yet.

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

I have a book coming out that’s partly about a hill town north of Rome called Calcata. I love sitting on the square on Sundays when all the locals—most of whom are artists—come out of their studios and apartments and stand around smoking cigarettes and chatting. I also love my friend Pancho’s restaurant in Calcata, La Grotta dei Germogli, which is a mosaic-bedecked cave that’s been fashioned into a terrific eating space. It’s quite special. Whenever I’m there, Pancho gives me a key and I go there and write when the restaurant’s not open.

(note from Liz: to hear more from David, listen in to his podcast interview with Eric Olsen over at Gadling)

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In search of Free WiFi...on the road.

I’m travelling ‘wireless’ for the first time this trip so I’ve been searching around for information on where to find WiFi on the road.

Here’s what I’ve found out:

Just because a hotel say they offer free WiFi access doesn’t mean that it’s available where you want it. For example, the hotel might have free WiFi but only in the lobby or on specific floors.

It’s important to do your research before you leave. Check the hotel’s website for information on WiFi access and where in the hotel it’s offered. Call the hotel direct and ask someone about the access.

For further verification, you could check out an independent hotspot directory to find out more details. Directories worth checking out include Free Hotspots, WiFi Free Spot, Hotspot Locations, and JiWire.

These directories can also guide you to hotspots around the city you're visiting. I did a check through Free Hotspots and discovered a number of places in central Madrid that offer WiFi.

Open WiFi Spots has a comprehensive listing of over 24,000 free WiFi spots around the United States. They have also listed them by category. For example, there is a listing of bookstores, coffee houses, fast food restaurants, public parks, NYC hotels, and airports with free WiFi.

The Airport Wireless Internet Guide has detailed information on access in US airports. For the rest of the world, check out the USA Today Hotspot Finder.

It seems that free WiFi is everywhere.

You just have to know where to find it…

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Want a travel companion ? Take an MP3/iPod…

The MP3/iPod is the ideal travel companion. It provides information, entertainment, and comfort but doesn’t need to be fed, watered, or humored.

The top five things that the MP3 can do for you:

1. Keep music in your life - you can download your favorite songs to keep you from being homesick or download soundtracks to fit the mood of your location. And many MP3 players have built in recording devices that let you capture the sounds of your travels.

2. Provide reading material - save a tree and download a book. Going to Paris, download The Da Vinci Code. Going to Italy, what about Under the Tuscan Sun. Wherever you're going, there's a audio book out there for you. Check out and iTunes.

3. Be a personal tour guide - throw away the guidebook and download your own personal professional tour guide. From walks around the city to road trips, there is a tour out there for you. Check out Pod Cast Alley, Yahoo Podcasts and Lonely Planet podcasts to see what’s available.

4. Store your photos - The MP3 player can be used as a portable hard drive where you can download and store digital photos. A useful idea for those who are snap happy.

5. Map your journey - driving directions from Map Quest and subway maps for the big cities work great on the MP3 screen.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

What’s hot in travel blogs…

IgoUgo, a online travel community, has listed the ‘Ten Travel Blogs [They] Love.’

They are:

1. World Hum
2. Different Directions
3. The Window Seat
4. Gridskipper
5. Brave New Traveler
6. Where the Hell Is Matt?
7. Intelligent Travel
8. The Lost Girls
9. Rick Steves: Blog Gone Europe
10. The Cool Hunter

I thought I’d add to it with ‘Six more travel blogs I love’ - travel blogs that provide me with information, insight, and inspiration to travel.

1. Gadling
2. Family Travel
3. This Just In
4. The Perrin Post
5. Vagablogging
6. Upgrade: Travel Better

What’s your list???

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

'Bookstore Tourism' is heading for the road...

Larry Portzline is a man with a mission. The originator of the grassroots Bookstore Tourism movement, he is currently organizing a road trip with a difference - a 10 week, 50 state ‘Why Indie Bookstores Matter Tour’ that will visit 200 independent bookstores around the country. Departure date is April 1st, 2008.

Check out his game plan for the trip, learn how to become a sponsor, or even consider riding along. It all sounds like a blast…

But it’s not all about driving the highways and byways of America. Larry has plans for interviews, videos and pod casts, and ultimately a book or two…

Sounds like a dream trip to me…

Might even try to catch a ride on this ’bookstore road trip’ for a couple of days…

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer…Linda Tagliaferro

Today we are speaking with Linda Tagliaferro. Linda is an artist and writer who writes primarily for magazines such as Maxim, Coastal Living, American Style, plus online outlets such as BBW Magazine, the Meeting Professional, and the Washingtonian. She is also a regular contributor (for the past 9 years) to The New York Times. Linda has written over 35 books for adults, young adults, and children - titles include Destination New York, Galapagos Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Hi Linda and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for stopping by.

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

No, writing wasn't my first priority. I started out as an artist, but I always wrote out little stories to go with my drawings in my sketch books, and people always complimented me on my writing style when I wrote letters. What prompted me to start writing professionally was motherhood. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my then young son, so I decided to become a freelance writer. I sent out queries, and that's how I got my first assignments.

I think that being an artist brings out the visual aspects of my writing, and this is an important component of travel journalism.

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

I freelanced for a family publication in NYC, and after a few years, they asked me if I'd like to go on a sponsored trip and then write about my experiences. I jumped at the chance, and did my best to impress them with my reporting. Luckily, they continued to give me assignments. After that, I subscribed to Travelwriter Marketletter to find out about more publications that feature travel stories. The newsletter also lists press trips for writers with experience.

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

Subscribe to Travelwriter Marketletter, and also any other online publications that list new markets. The tried-and-true advice has always been: read the publication, get their writers' guidelines (sometimes available online) and study them, and make sure they use freelancers. Spell the name of the editor correctly when you send out a query letter. And also understand what constitutes a good query letter.

You might go to your local library and look through several years of back issues of the publication(s) you intend to target. This will give you an idea of recurring themes.

Know the readers: are they young and hip, mature and adventurous, honeymooners or business travelers? Do they have children who travel with them? Are they seasoned or first-time travelers? What is the average household income of readers? You don't want to send in a query on a luxe hotel in Fiji to an editor of a magazine for thrifty readers.

Persistence is the name of the game. You can't take editors' rejections personally. They have an agenda and must stick to it. They may have already run a story on a similar idea. Send out lots and lots of query letters to different publications.

Get as much practice as possible. Write, write, write.

Do you have an angle to your article idea? "Visit Paris!" is not going to fly with editors because it's way too broad, but "Ten Hidden Treasures of Provence" will pique someone's interest.

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

I think that print publications will always be around, but they're going to have to include an online presence to continue to flourish. Online publications will continue to add web-only features, like video interviews, links, etc.

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

I think every travel writer looks for places that are lesser-known, but that's getting harder and harder to find. I'm always pressed for time, and often would like to explore a place in more depth, but deadlines loom and airlines await. Unless I'm traveling with a group, meals can be lonely. On assignment in Hawaii, I went to my hotel's elegant dining room, and the receptionist smiled and asked, "Table for two?" She immediately assumed I was there with a love interest. I timidly told her that it was just me, and she led me to a table with a view.....of cooing honeymooners, long-time couples celebrating their anniversary, and undoubtedly some illicit lovers. I felt like an outcast, and wanted to announce, "I'm married, but my husband just isn't along because I'm working."

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

I have many favorite places, including Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes, the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, and of course, all of the Hawaiian islands. The Andes mountains are breathtaking (literally and figuratively) and the Hawaiian islands constitute more than just a tropical paradise: they are home to a fascinating culture of stories, chants, authentic dance (not the tourist luau hula) and music.

I loved the Galapagos Islands so much that I wrote a short book on some of the flora and fauna of the area, "Galapagos Islands: Nature's Delicate Balance at Risk."


Previous interviews

Joshua Berman
Roberta Beach Jacobson
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

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Check out the latest 'Carnival of Travel Articles'…

Travel Minx recently posted the second Carnival of Travel Articles. Stop by and read about places far and near. My top 3 picks from this carnival are:

Why I Travel: Television Made Me Do It - a brilliant response to another article that questions asks ‘Why We Travel’.

Why I love New Zealand/Aotearoa, Land of the long white cloud - it’s about New Zealand, so it just has to be a top pick.

The Niagara Wine Trail - so who knew there were wineries at Niagara. I thought it was all about the waterfalls. Now I have another reason to visit.

Anyone who blogs about travel should join this carnival. The next one’s due mid-August. You can find submission details here

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Will the fake Steve Jobs please stand up...

Turns out you can pretend to be whoever you want to be in the blogosphere. Just read ‘The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs’ and you’ll see what I mean. This blog has been running for the past 14 months and last month it attracted 700,000 visitors.

Everyone knew it wasn’t written by the real Steve Jobs.

Everyone wanted to know who the fake Steve Jobs was.

Well, the secret is now out. The New York Times outed him this week in an article entitled ‘Fake Steve’ Blogger Comes Clean’.

Turns out the real Steve Jobs blogger is Daniel Lyons, senior editor at Forbes magazine who writes technology articles and is author of two fiction books. His third book, a satrical novel due to be published in October is called ‘Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, a Parody’.

Daniel might have started the blog for fun, but along the way has managed to create a built in audience for his soon to be published novel.

Coincidence or not ?

Maybe I should create a ‘secret diary’ blog ? What about ‘The Secret Diary of Bill Bryson’ or ‘The Secret Diary of Frances Mayes’?

Whose secret diary would you write ???

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Monthly Roundup...(July)

July was the month that I discovered that you cannot squeeze any more than 24 hours out of a day…in other words, I ran out of time.

Between work, trip planning, and learning how to use all the new technology (iPod and digital camera), I had no time to write.

So, for the first month since I started My Year of Getting Published, I did not send out a single query letter…

I had drafts written, ideas and markets in my head, and a determination to get them sent out. But time just ran out…

I did manage, however, to manage to continue to post to this blog, as well as Alzheimer’s Notes and Christchurch Tour Guide.

I did complete my trip planning - flights, accommodations, sightseeing timetable.

I have been downloading music, audio books, and travel information to the iPod.

I am gradually becoming more comfortable with the new digital camera.

And I will send out the query letters this month…

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

I've been given a Rockin' Girl Blogger award...

Yvonne over at Grow Your Writing Business has chosen me as a ‘Rockin' Girl Blogger’.

And she’s put me in such great company. Her list of Rockin' Girl Blogger’s includes Lisa from Design Your Writing Life, Alicia from Writing Sparks, Anne from Golden Pencil, Lori from Words on the Page,Joanna from Confident Writing, Alfa from Apple Door Says No to Bundy Clocks, Claudia from, Toni from Wifely Steps,and Christina from Writer Mama.

But you know, the next best thing to receiving an award is being able to pass it on to someone else. So I’d like to announce (drum roll here!!) the following as my nominations for the Rockin' Girl Blogger award.

Kristen at Inkthinker who provides an abundance of information for the freelance writer and creates challenges to keep us all writing.

Sheila over at Family Travel who has taught me a great deal about travel writing and is a great example of how perseverance eventually pays off.

Penelope, aka The Brazen Careerist, who writes with conviction about the intersection of work and life.

Marabella at Travels with a Gourmet who provides mouthwatering reviews of culinary and gastronomic experiences.

Julie at A Mingling of Tastes who, like me, is working on etching out a career in freelance writing.

Welcome to the world of Rockin' Girl Bloggers…

Pass it on…

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Podcasts from

Today I got an email from Joe, a summer intern with He directed me to a audio interview between Arthur Frommer and his daughter Pauline that goes into the history and development of Frommer Travel Guides. I had already posted about this interview in June when I listed some audio interviews with travel writers.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that has a whole series of travel podcasts, ranging from audio tours of New York’s Greenwich Village to Australia’s Northern Territory. There’s plenty on New York which I’ll be downloading to my iPod.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer...Joshua Berman

Today’s interview is with Joshua Berman, travel writer and author travel guidebooks such as Moon Living Abroad in Nicaragua (Living Abroad) and Moon Belize (Moon Handbooks).

Writing credits include articles in National Geographic Traveler, Yoga Journal, and Perceptive Travel.

His blog, The Tanguilo Traveler, focuses on voluntourism, slow travel, and showcases his travel adventures in places such as Nicaragua and Belize.

Hi Joshua and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for stopping by and answering a few questions about travel writing.

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

I won a Pennsylvania state essay contest in the fifth grade, so always knew I had some ability. I worked on lots of school papers, but never set out to study writing or to be a writer, until a few years after I graduated college and realized I could probably pull it off.

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

In 1998, I joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to a beautiful tropical country just beginning to emerge from an intense period of gritty, vibrant history. Nicaragua still conjured up images of the civil war in most of the world's mind, but the strife had been over for years and things were muy tranquilo. Word was out in backpacker circles and beyond, and my fellow volunteers and I noticed a trickle of curious gringos and surfers along the border with Costa Rica; we more or less witnessed the birth of tourism in Nicaragua – with no decent guidebook in sight.

After completing our service, Randy Wood and I began writing the first, longest, bestest-ever guide to Nicaragua. We pitched it to Moon (after finding their book proposal guidelines online) and they bought it (Moon Handbooks Nicaragua (Moon Handbooks : Nicaragua)). A year later we were holed up in Managua, cranking away toward our first big deadline. The book was a big success and my publisher decided to send me to Belize next, and I was rolling.

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

First, you’ve got to be a writer. That means you’ve got to write. Lots. The traveling part will happen itself as you live your life. Travel can be driving from your house to the grocery, or it can be sailing around the world. It’s the writing that’s important, so crack open a fresh journal and answer the call of those cool, white pages.

As for breaking into publications, read each one first, study their submission guidelines, then start querying. You may want to read a book about query letters first, then send off 20 queries to different publications and expect to receive one or two jobs. 5-10% acceptance is pretty typical. You have to have a great deal of patience and perseverance.

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

Great question. We've been debating this for years, trying to prepare for e-books, downloadable chapters, wiki-travel books, but who knows where it will go. I'm sure there will be some form of updatable maps and data, but I'm not sure what form it will take.

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

Staying organized. I fill up pocket notebooks during the day, then transfer the sweat-stained chicken scratches into my laptop by night. I'm always having to develop new systems of information management to handle the hundreds of word documents, image files, outlines, and e-mails; this can be exhausting, but in the end, the details add up to a quality book or article.

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

I have many, many new favorite places which I discovered on my round-the-world honeymoon last year, but Nicaragua is still at the center of my heart because I've spent so much time there and the people have taken me in as a son and brother. I'll always go back there, I have adopted family there, plus two guidebook titles about Nicaragua which I'll always have to go back and update. Belize is pretty awesome as well.

(note from Liz) Check out Joshua’s ‘Questions I've been asked about writing guidebooks’ to find out more about breaking into guidebook writing.


Previous interviews:

Roberta Beach Jacobson
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

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