My writing career started when a colleague urged me to write a guidebook to literary homes and haunts in England. I wrote up a proposal, got a small advance, marked up a map of England with circles of all such places open to the public, and stepped onto a plane. My husband and I combed the streets of London, Edinburgh, and other cities, climbed through castles and up towers, and drove up rural lanes to out-of-the way houses behind high hedges. I took lots of notes, came home, and wrote the book on our dining room table amid stacks of biographies and histories of the areas I had visited. I was researching to flesh out the stories of each writer's connection to his place.
"We'd like one on the northeastern U.S., New England especially," said the editor as soon as I handed the manuscript. Again, my husband and I scurried around the countryside, this time with kids in tow, and I followed the same process.
I got hooked on traveling and writing about it, especially when readers told me that they either wanted to go to a place I'd written about, or they felt that they'd been transported there. However, with a fulltime college teaching job and two children, I wanted projects that were shorter, more portable.
South American deserts, Asian temples, Spanish cities, Belize jungle lodges and coastal areas in Belize and Mexico, London Walks, Literary Charleston, and walking vacations in the Hudson Valley of New York State, Western Ireland and Norway are among the topics. The more I do, the more I find that I enjoy researching a region, actually going there, and finding an interesting story angle when I return. At the present time I describe myself as a travel writer who specializes in culture and ecotourism. Walking cities and trekking through the countryside is the way I gather material.
My parallel careers of writing and teaching college English have often enriched each other. In 1997 I earned a second master's degree, a Master of Fine Arts in Writing. That experience also dovetailed with my journalistic writing. Now I'm even more intent on seizing the essence of a place in a lyrical, captivating way; I want to relay information through a fluid story, and in a way that the reader can visualize. That is what travel writing is about.
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