Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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How Not to Write a Book Proposal

Eat,Pray,Love En Francais, Seattle travel Blogs

I hear she writes historical fiction now.

If I learned one thing in my writing career, it is to pay close attention to those contributor guidelines. I wrote these after reading editors’ complaints about bad submission practices.

Dear The New Yorker:

Attached please find my aritle on “10 Pig Mating Rituals You Weren’t Aware Of.” I don’t read The NEW YORKER, but I have heard you’re a quality, top ten literary journal. I really, really want to be a Writer because I want a heap of money to show up at my door along with beautiful women and I can tell all of my friends I am a PUBLISHED WRITER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay. You can submit payment to 1244 Monkey Sock Street, NY, NY.

Cheers,
Billy, “the Pen” Henderson

Dear Hiring Editor Person:

I AM HOPPING YOU COULD PUBLISH MY WORK. Oh sorry about the all caps, I am just super excited that excited about the possibility of writing for your website. Well really it’s the work of someone named Mark Twain only I replaced 20% of his words and sprinkled 30% of keywords related to your website in. this stolded article will get you losts a website traffic. please let me know how and when I will be paid.

Yours truly,

Sal Forrester Continue reading


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Saturday Giveaway! Win a Free (Signed) Alena Dillon Book

You can win one copy of I Thought We Agreed to Pee in the Ocean, And Other Amusings From A Girl Wearing Sweatpants by Alena Dillon. I hereby certify it will make you laugh.

Comment on this post with your favorite funny person (comedian, comedy writer, whoever) and I will randomly select the winner by putting all of your usernames into a hamster ball then rolling it downhill.

Find out more about Alena Dillon by reading her blog. She appears to be great. I know if I knew her in real life, we’d have a blast.

The winner will be selected and contacted on January 26, 2014.

Read on for my review. Continue reading


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5 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

Seattle Beach

Back in Seattle. Energized and resolutionized.

I have a problem: I make too many New Year’s Resolutions. I am that person in the gym on January 1st, jump roping until my heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest.

Every year, I swear off sugar, Starbucks, fruity cocktails, library fines, needless pedicures, wearing mismatched socks, Cookie Chips, etc. etc.

And then comes February 1. My resolutions are busy collecting dust like that unread copy of Moby Dick. I am feasting on Valentine’s Day treats, running up a huge library fine because I can’t seem to finish the Golden Notebook and no, I haven’t signed up for Yoga.

This year, I decided to scratch all that stuff and make solid New Year’s resolutions related to my passion for writing. Continue reading


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Haiku Challenge, Here We Come

Weekly Writing Challenge

Taking on the Haiku Challenge. Step 1: Get out in nature.

When I saw the DPchallenge to write five haikus, I thought, “well, why the heck not?” And so, instead of doing my Thanksgiving shopping, I wrote the poems below.

In October, I went to my first-ever literary retreat on a scholarship for young poets. I find this funny, because my hair is almost as gray as it is black. Young? And when I went, I glimpsed into my future. At fifty, I am going to be the lady with yellow tights and purple hair.

While there, I attended an hour-long workshop on haiku and fell in love with the form. It’s great practice. You get rid of pesky adverbs and articles clogging up your writing and focus in on a single natural image. The instructor recommended sitting down outside and writing twenty haikus in a row.

“Be in the moment. And don’t try to make it good. That’s the fastest way to kill a poem.”

So when I saw the Haiku Challenge, I wrote these. Some of them are holiday themed. Some of them are silly. 

Haikus for You

Monday
A dusty can rolls
from the empty cabinet
Yes! We do have peas

Tuesday
A lone shoe sits in
center of a puddle that
clearly reflects two

Wednesday
Casserole charred
sweet potatoes turn to mush
but, perfect turkey

Thursday
Leaf flutters in a breeze
Plume of smoke from a chimney
The November dance

Friday
Kids run to dinner
Sidewalk shadows long and black
Gold leaves wave them by


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Adventures in Freelance Writing

 

Freelance Travel Writing Tips

This makes it worth it. Kind of.

So…we meet again, home office.

I’ve come back to freelance writing and travel writing after finishing up my long-term contract in a mega corporation. I know a lot of very talented writers and bloggers who long to do the same thing. I don’t know if it’s the right choice for you, but I think it’s right for me. For now. 

This blog could document my downward spiral from very gainfully employed writer to That Peddler in the Parking Lot Who Writes The Best Cardboard Signs. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

Freelance writing tips:

Very little time will be spent writing. Most of it will be spent checking email and refreshing it again and again to see if those query letters and job applications you sent out got a response. Nope. Just another email newsletter advertising Socktober Fest. All those socks. All on sale…

You need to know… math. Oh yeah, we writers think we’re all cute and funny and stuff when we can’t calculate tips or do taxes because we’re “word nerds.” But as a freelancer, you need to know some basic business calculations figure out if you’re making more or less than you would if you collected cans for a living. This is an essential skill.

That’s why writers make such miserable salaries. The Man thinks we can’t do math.

Your new exercise = pacing. The last time I worked as a freelancer I lost about 10 pounds in a matter of weeks. Friends asked why I looked so svelte. It wasn’t a change in my dietary habits—certainly, I inhaled a few less donuts. But my magical weight loss was due to my pacing around the room whenever I faced a looming deadline.

You will need to improve your social skills. I have the social graces of a T-Rex. I am clumsy, loud, and thanks to Invisilign, might spit when I talk.

Days go by where I don’t see humans. So when I meet a prospective client for lunch, I have to remind myself that she’s not my therapist and now is probably not an appropriate time to talk about last night’s dream where I wore a purple tri-cornered hat onto the bus and everyone laughed at me.

Your 9-5 friends will scare the crap out of you. Things not to say to a freelance writer:

-You may never work for “real” again. 

-You’re doing what? IN THIS ECONOMY?!

-Why couldn’t you make it as a real writer?

Just avoid phrases that can be punctuated with an interabang.

Did you ever quit a job to follow your passion? Do you freelance? Ring in with tips below. 


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What Journalism Taught Me About Writing & Humanity

indie-music-coeur-de-pirate-

What goes on backstage. Coeur de Pirate’s sound test at Summer fest 2011.

Anyone lived in a pretty how town…~ E.E. Cummings

As a teenager, I wasn’t much for journalism. I defined myself as a creative writer, too artistic and impatient for plain old facts. I didn’t like sports and never wanted to write the expose on the cafeteria pizza. I wrote stream-of-conscious poetry for guys who didn’t like poetry and didn’t like me.

I was an idiot.

Journalism is storytelling. At the Quebec City Chronicle-Telegraph (the oldest newspaper in North America), I focused mostly on the small stuff: charity drives, local teams, high school graduations, restaurant openings – the minutia of the small English-speaking community.

As small papers dry up or battle for readership online, we’re losing human-interest stories. We may never read Shelly Brown’s obituary,  Shelly who spent thirty years working the counter at the deli; who gave the community three great children, who dedicated her life to rescuing dogs.

Why care about Shelly, the smiling deli worker? We have this to read:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Syria.
10 Things Amanda Knox Has in Common with a Unicorn.
15 Pugs Who Look Like Dictators. 

Just like there’s a time and place for the above, (lunch breaks), there’s a time and place for newspapers: Sunday afternoons. I can’t remember the last time I sat with a newspaper article, chewed the story over, let it linger. I love blogs, but getting the story out is stressed more than getting the story out right.

Continue reading


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A Case for the Commercial Writer

copywriting tips, writing jobs

Until Elwood’s modelling career takes off, this is all I have.

I took a hiatus from life to work a contract gig as a copywriter for a major corporation. With the exception of technical writing (or being a hugely famous author), copywriting is the most lucrative day job in the writing world. Travel writing appears to be the least lucrative so unless I want to be one of those hostel people (with dog? and husband? heck no), this is what I have to do.

There’s also video game writing, which I hear pays handsomely. I have no idea what that entails though.

If only I played Zelda more

I should stroll the bohemian stroll. I should be in Uruguay or something. I will be traveling again, once I figure out how to make travel journalism a fulltime job. That’s my goal this year and I am happy you’re aboard for the ride.

Thankfully, my current job is very creative and there’s free coffee. And because of all the stress and caffeine, I have an eye twitch. Maybe after my eye explodes, I’ll have to wear a patch and then I’ll become a super villainess — a corporate crime fighter in a pencil skirt. Continue reading


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Dear Media, We Need to Talk

Video on how media should cover a mass murder

I am not the person to write about What Happened last Friday. I am a travel blogger and when I am not traveling, I am trying to make people laugh. Expect what follows to be slightly off topic and serious.  One travel’s greatest gifts is the ability to look at your own country through a long lens – see its beauty, as well as its flaws.

The USA gets a lot right. And a lot wrong.

I will not use the location or the keywords associated with What Happened because it is not my intention to use it to bolster my blog readership and I am absolutely disgusted by anyone who would do so.

I would like to tell reporters who shoddily covered What Happened exactly What I think of them.

Let me just say: I love the news. Previously, I worked as a journalist at several small newspapers. I think most journalists are honorable, heroic, worthy of medals for risking their lives to cover wars and conflicts in far off places while the rest of the world reads the stories from safe at home.

I think the world needs more good journalists to build bridges across the sky, to places and people we’d never know otherwise. I am a strong proponent of freedom of speech. I am vehemently anti-censorship.

HOWEVER, coverage of What Happened has been irresponsible and dangerous on multiple levels. Continue reading


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Bad Travel Writer! Stop That

travel writing tips, ice hotel quebec, quebec travel winter

It was cold. Inside the ice hotel. Like, really cold.

Good travel writers must push through their vague, cliché, and even racist presuppositions about a foreign place. ~Arron Hamburger,  The Matador Network

I found a French book club here in Seattle. I know, I can’t get much more pretentious, could I?

It would be easy to give up French, to let it slip from my memory here in Seattle and forget that I still can’t tell the difference in sound between an accent agiu or an accent grave or that yesterday, I said, “page soixante-dice-sept.” Embarrassing.

Now that I can make a decent sentence, I refuse to put French into storage with a pile of things I used to do: Breed swordtails. Play the flute. Drink vodka straight.

Anyway, we’re reading L’engime du Retour by Dany Laferrière. Even though I only understand about 70-80% of it sans dictionaire, I can tell the writing is beautiful.

He captures the perpetual snow of Montreal and contrasts it with the vibrant tropics of Haiti, his home country. Even thought the words aren’t in my native tongue, I am right there with the author, watching the snow collect on windowsills in Montreal or birds fly overhead in Haiti.

I may never be able to capture a place the way he does, but  I have learned through trial and error (mostly error) what not to do when it comes to travel writing. I put together a list to help some of you break into this glamourous world of small paychecks and (sometimes) free hotel rooms. Continue reading


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The Future of Travel Writing

kobe beef sliders, restaurant review writing

Small bites for small travel writers

I am teaching a travel writing workshop to kids.

About three minutes in, I discovered I am woefully out-of-touch with young travellers.

I started the workshop with things to look for in a restaurant. Maybe it’s a Seattle thing, but these junior foodies were super smart, super opinionated, and super aware of allergies. I was underprepared for Seattle kids and thought they would be younger versions of me, pint-sized pizza enthusiasts who could easily digest cheese and bread.

They’re awesome, that’s for sure. Respectful, fun, and hilarious. But way different than me.

When I was a kid, when we ate out it was at McDonald’s or Beggar’s Pizza, a pizzeria in my old neighborhood. Sometimes my dad would bring me to real Mexican restaurants. By real I mean, the menu included brains and tongue. Not in the same taco because then one might as well just put a cow’s head into a tortilla and call it a day.

I wasn’t really concerned with authenticity or local food or even bad service. Just as long as I didn’t have to eat brains. Continue reading