All posts by AnnG

You can be a Travel Writer

You don’t have to travel far to be a ‘travel writer’. No need to pack your suitcase, buy an expensive airline ticket,  update your passport or even spend money in duty free ……….

Ben Gurion aiport, Israel Ann Goldberg  - Copy

 

Travel writing’s for everyone

Wherever you live in the world, your hometown and its environs are going to  interest  readers somewhere. Either it will be of interest because they live nearby and want to find somewhere to visit locally, or because they live far away and your neighborhood is exotic to them.

Find a site – then go and visit.

Start by finding some local sites of historical, archaeological or natural interest.
You can start searching on the internet and ‘google’ but don’t stop there.  Contact your local tourist board and then get out and visit these places. They can’t be far away. Take a notebook and camera and find out as much as you can, note down your impressions and take lots of photographs.

IMG_1043

Don’t stop at one place of interest. Find another one. Often parks will be built around ancient city walls or with a monument of historical importance in the middle.  And even if it’s not, the park itself might be of interest to visitors. Does it have somewhere for children to play? Is there a restaurant or cafe for hungry visitors? Is there a river running through it? Are there attractive flower beds with benches nearby for sitting and relaxing? Is it near a bus stop for those who might come from the other side of town.

Local Museums and all places of entertainment

Visit local museums, markets,  shopping malls, restaurants and places of entertainment.  A place doesn’t have to be old to be of interest. If a family is looking or somewhere to go they’ll need to please everyone of all ages.

Who will publish it?

Offer  the article to your local newspaper as a round-up of places to visit in your locality, around vacation time. This is when readers are  interested in ways of getting out and about without spending too much money, especially if they have school-aged children who need to be entertained for weeks on end.
Some newspapers have special travel inserts at various times of the year – check out if yours has.

If your editor grabs your article enthusiastically then venture a little further afield to the neighboring town and  start again visiting local places of interest.

What about national travel magazines?

Many travel magazines have ‘front-of-the-book’ sections with short travel pieces about off-the-beaten-track areas. Maybe your town qualifies for one of these ‘shorts’, if it has some interesting  sites that you don’t find everywhere.

Pitch a query for a short piece to the editor and who knows- maybe when he sees how much  there is to see and do in your back yard he’ll request a longer article.

What other aspects of your hometown do you think it’s worth including in your article?

Have you ever written a local travel article? Did you get it published?
Let me know in the comments below.

 

Pre-Pesach – No Time to Write?

 

Seder_Plate 2

C’mon let’s be honest. Who has time to write between Purim and Pesach? There’s so  many far more urgent things that just have to be done around the house.

Well – yes and no.

No specific goals

I don’t set myself goals for writing and completing essays and articles between Purim and Pesach – but I certainly  make time for pre- writing because I get so many ideas at this time.

Most of  the articles  and essays that I hope will be published next year at this time,  have their beginnings now.
Tips on cleaning / time-saving / shopping / cooking/.
Essays about Pesachs past from my childhood , early marriage, with little children etc. Stories of my parents’  Pesachs in pre Holocaust Europe
Priceless comments little kids say when they see their mum crawling under the bed – all of these come to mind while I’m busy scrubbing / clearing/ sorting and cooking and if I don’t ‘do something’ with these ideas they’ll all be gone by the time the  chag starts.

Keeping track of ideas

So how can you keep track of these ideas as they come without having to take a break from the cleaning/cooking?

DSC09716

Easy –  keep an MP3 nearby or, even better, in your pocket or attached to your clothes and as you think of something just record it. Or, have a notebook and pen in your pocket so you can make notes of anything and everything as they occur to you.
Try and find ten minutes each night to transfer your  notes and recording onto the computer, otherwise, if you’re like me, you might never be able to trace those gems of wisdom in a few weeks time.

Once you start cooking make a note of all the little things you want to remember for next year. Did you grossly over buy eggs and have 6 trays out of the twelve you bought still sitting there? Did you have to run out and buy more sugar /  chocolate  in the middle of a recipe because you’d underestimated the amount you need?  Did you find a great substitute for matzo meal when you  had no-gebrochts visitors for the first time?

Making a note of all these glitches will help your pre-Pesach prearations next year and could make a good basis for an article.

Don’t forget your camera

You might enjoy taking before and after photos of the rooms you’re cleaning ( the ‘before’ ones are embarrassing but the  ‘after’ ones make me feel so good). With digital photography today not costing a cent I take photos all the time everywhere just to keep a stock of my own photos to save  me searching the web for ‘free’ pics to accompany  articles.

Do you have any ideas  for keeping the writing juices flowing while preparing for Pesach. Please let me know in the comments below.

The Waldorf Astoria and me

Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria
The Walforf Astoria, Jerusalem

I have to admit it- I never imagined I’d ever have breakfast a the Waldorf Astoria.
But that was before they opened up the Jeruslaem branch.

Well, as an Israel travel writer I had to visit it didn’t I? I mean it would have been remiss of me not to?

In many ways it is just like every  Waldorf Astoria. The same ( well, at least similar) iconic clock. (In case you’re wondering how I know about all the others – it’ s only through internet searches.)

the clock at the Waldorf Astoria, Jerusalem
The Waldorf Astoria clock.

The same  luxurious classic furniture. Armchairs and couches to sink into, gentle lighting, elegant, striking flower arrangements.

Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem lobby flower arrangements.
Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem lobby flower arrangements.

Even the traditional top-hatted doorman is there . Although it was odd to hear him speaking Hebrew.

Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem doorman
Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem doorman

One difference between the Jerusalem hotel and the others is that it has a Mehadrin hechsher (kashrus certificate) and the  restaurant on one side of the lobby serves only dairy food, while the one on the other side serves only meat meals.  And the section in the middle, I was told, is not  served food.

Which makes it a great place to go on a shidduch – when you want to be left alone to get to know your prospective spouse without being interrupted all the time and asked what you want to order.

DSC09152

So now we know why the Waldorf Astoria came to Jerusalem – to play its role in match-making. Mothers will no doubt be thrilled when their daughter comes home and says she was taken to the Waldorf Astoria by her date .

Simultaneous Submissions

 

Are Simultaneous Submissions a good idea?

Can you submit to several publications at the same time?
This is a question I’m often asked and my answer is always “No.”

connect

Once you have submitted an essay, if it is not rejected immediately as being totally unsuitable, the writing passes between several editors or readers to decide if it is suitable for the publication.
If  an editor accepts your essay, but you then  tell her “Sorry someone else bought it yesterday”, that editor is going to think very hard before she wastes her, and other members of her editorial  team’s, time reading anything else you submit to her.

Following up

Send your essay to one publication at a time and wait for their response.  Sometimes their guidelines will tell you how long you can expect to wait for a reply, if so then wait that length of time before following up.
If there is no indication of how long they usually take to  reply, then wait 7 – 10 days and then follow-up with a short email asking if they have made a decision about your essay.
Attach the essay once again to this email because you will jog their memory about its content.
It’s also quite possible that your original email got lost in cyberspace or in the editor’s  inbox and so you will save her having to ask  you to send it again.

Second follow-up

If you receive no reply whatsoever to your first follow-up, not even a confirmation of receipt, then send a further email about  4  days later.

Still no reply?

If  your second follow-up is also ignored then  I  would then send one more email telling them that due to lack of any response,  you are withdrawing the essay submission.

Now you can send it to the next publication.

But what if it’s time sensitive?

If  your essay is time sensitive, i.e. it’s relevant to a particular current event/ something that just happened / anniversary / yahrzeit / Yom Tov  then put the words time-sensitive in the subject line.
Write a message in the body of the email saying that as the material is time-sensitive,  if you haven’t heard from them within 48 hours / 5 days  ( whichever is appropriate) you will assume they are not interested and will feel free to submit the piece to another publication.

Not just time-sensitive but urgent

If it’s  something that would only be relevant in the next 24 hours, perhaps an op-ed, then if you do decide to send it  to several publications put the word ” simultaneous submission” at the top of the op-ed / essay / article so the editor is aware that she is in competition with other editors.

 

If you want to hear about  future blog posts, sign up below for email notification.

 

Write for your local newspaper

START LOCALLY

image
Are you ignoring  a great potential market that is right on your doorstep? I’m talking about your local newspaper.
It may not be glamorous or glossy and it may not pay big bucks, but it needs to fill its pages day after day, or at least week after week, with material that you are in a wonderful position to provide.
It’s also an ideal place to start,if you haven’t yet been published and are nervous about querying the big glossy magazines.
Although it will probably provide a small amount of national or even international news, its importance lies in its local angle. The editor wants to know about people,places and events in the area the newspaper covers.
But it still needs some research before you rush off a query about your nephew’s kindergarten teacher who moonlights as an opera singer.

  • Read the publication thoroughly from front to back making notes about the types of topics that are covered.
  • Note how how much space is given to community events/ education issues / profiles of local people  etc.
  • Read several editions to check if some topics/columns are regulars and are always written by the same person. If so your chances of writing on this topic are less than on a topic which is always written by different people.
  • Look through the list and see which section you could contribute to.
  • Brainstorm some ideas making sure they have a local angle  Perhaps an interesting off-the-beaten-track  local site/ someone with an unusual hobby/ a special activity at  your children’s school
  • .Develop one or two into full-blown queries indicating why you think it would be a good story for your newspaper.
  • Check the paper’s masthead to see which editor covers your topic and send off your query.
  • If you haven’t heard anything within a week, drop another email checking on your idea.
  • If they aren’t interested in these ideas, don’t give up. Think of some others and query those.

GOOD LUCK
image

Photos help you write your articles.

provide photos for your articles

 

Apart from pens, paper and a small recording device, there’s one  other tool that you would be wise to carry with you wherever you go.  I’m talking about a camera- a simple, digital point-and-shoot (aka PhD press-here-dummy) model that you can get today for around $100.

Even if you don’t intend to include photos with your article, they can serve as an illustrated notebook for preparing your article.

Yvel
Yvel jewelry factory

 

This photo for example helped me to remember and describe the Yvel jewelry workshop I visited. I only  got an article assignment several  months after my visit. But looking at the photo reminded me of  the varied  backgrounds the students came from and  the different mother tongues. Now they all  talk in faltering Hebrew together as their one common language. I remembered the warmth, both physical on the cold day and socially as indicated by  their smiles. You can see theirhappiness at being taught a useful trade and a way of making a living and supporting their families.

But that isn’t the only way you’ll find that photographs come in useful.If you chance upon an  interesting spot whilst on holiday and decide to write about it , you will amost certainly need photographs to accompany the article. You may or may not be paid extra for the photos, but without them there is no article.
If you write a profile of someone always take a few photos of them and their surroundings. Many publications don’t have the budget to send a photographer with you and will need a photo to illustrate the article. The photos will also remind you of the room/office  in which you carried out the interview. You may not have noticed the paintings on the wall / the photo montage of his children / the types of book on the bookshelf ( you can zoom in and read the titles) all of which will help you ‘paint’  a broader picture of your subject.

.