Archive for October, 2012

The Travel Writer’s Handbook will take you there

October 18, 2012

I’ve written a bit about what it takes to be a so-called travel writer. As I tell people, I’m a writer who travels and writes about it. I write about a lot of other things, too. For an upcoming trip to Greenville, SC, I’ll be working on a travel story, an arts story, and a bicycling story, or, more specifically, a profile about a women-centric bike shop.

But of course it’s the “travel” part that appeals to most people. I’ve taught several classes on the topic, mostly about how to find outlets and pitch ideas more than how to write, and I’m often approached by people who want to know how to “be a travel writer.” I have one all-time favorite book I recommend, and am thrilled that it was again updated – “The Travel Writer’s Handbook: How to Write – and Sell – Your Own Travel Experiences,” by Jacqueline Harmon Butler and Lousie Purwin Zobel. (Agate Publishing, $19.95) The seventh edition came out this year (last update was 2007). I’m sure we’d all get a good laugh comparing the first edition, in 1980, with the current one, as the markets and the technologies continue to change with lightening speed. Louise, who created the book, passed away in 2008 at the age of 86, but so much of her writing is relevant that she remains an author, at least for this edition.

Jacqueline Harmon Butler

Jacqueline takes readers step-by-step through pre-trip research and planning, marketing strategies and story approaches. She includes information on background research, query writing, finding new angles for tired subjects, and interviewing techniques. If you really want to be a travel writer, follow the tips in this book and you have a darn good chance of succeeding. If, on the other hand, you just want to write for fun – start a travel blog! If you’re more interested in getting paid to go on vacation, as so many people seem to be, I have no idea how that’s done. When you figure it out, please, please share the answer with me!

Restaurants not to be missed in the NC mountains

October 9, 2012

If you love going to the North Carolina mountains and good eatin’ (and who doesn’t?), you need this book: “Chefs of the Mountains: Restaurants & Recipes from Western North Carolina” (John F. Blair, $19.95), by food critic John E. Batchelor. John doesn’t know it, but he helped me with researching my guidebook, “Farm Fresh North Carolina,” because I learned about tons of restaurants in the Triad region from his stories in the Greensboro and Winston-Salem papers. Thank you, John!

The book came at the right time for me, as I’ll be in Boone in a month and haven’t been there for several years. I think I’ve picked out the place, thanks to John: Vidalia. We’ll see. If you happen to be in the state already, John will be promoting the book – with chefs in tow – at several bookstores around the state. Check out the schedule here and keep in mind you’ll probably be treated to some nibbles, too, but no guarantee.

Author John E. Batchelor

 “Chefs of the Mountains” is part of a series started by my friend Ann Prospero, who wrote “Chefs of the Triangle.” Like Ann did, John gives us tasty morsels about each chef’s personal and professional life, followed by several recipes. There is a big difference: color photographs grace this book. Lucky John! The only thing missing is a price key. Maybe next edition?

John says all 40 chefs use fresh, local ingredients, and in sidebars in highlights some of the farmers and artisanal producers, such as Imladris Farm in Fairview and Sunburst Trout Farms in Canton. You can learn more about visiting those farms in my guidebook. Geez, we’re so complimentary and complementary!

My one word of warning: don’t traverse the twisting, turning NC mountain roads on too full of a stomach!

 

FatCat Travel Charger is the cat’s meow

October 7, 2012

One of the themes of my last cycling/camping trip was the ongoing search for outlets to charge my iPhone. I couldn’t believe how many Massachusetts state forest campgrounds didn’t have outlets – even in the restrooms!. So every time we’d stop to eat anywhere, I’d plug in for as long as I could. It was stressful! A fellow rider had packed a portable travel charger, which I coveted all week. (He did generously offer to let me borrow it.)

FatCat Travel Charger recharges iPhone

So what arrives in my email a week later but an invitation to test a FatCat Travel Charger. This is an offer I couldn’t refuse! The series includes three options, the ChargeCard ($49.95), a 2-ounce card that gives a smart phone one full charge, a PowerBar 4200 ($69.95), weighing 4 ounces and good for two and a half smart phone or iPod charges, and a PowerBar 9600 ($119.95), made with iPads in mind and charging iPhones three and a half times. Of course it works on non-Apple products, too.

I tried the PowerBar 4200, and, yes, it works well (charge/usage lengths are accurate), and it’s even stylish (not essential but a plus). My challenge now is deciding where to keep it. I have chargers in my cars and at home, so I might keep it with my oft-used travel gear. I plan another bicycle/camping trip next summer, and you can bet that the FatCat will be along for the ride.