The Traveling Writer community on Twitter

A writing friend just joined Twitter, and I’m trying to come up with suggestions of tweeps for her to follow. That got me to thinking: wouldn’t it be awesome if I could give her a list of all the readers of this blog?

A while back I built a Twitter list that includes members of our Ning group for writers of travel memoir. It’s been a great way to grow our community outside of Ning, helping us communicate on another platform.

I’m a huge fan of Twitter lists; I need to find time to build more of my own. They serve as a filter so you don’t miss important tweets, help you find people to follow and showcase your knowledge of players in your industry. Wow, I’m realizing I should write an entire post about how to create lists and use them effectively. They are one of Twitter’s best features.

For now though, I simply want to create ONE list, and that’s a list that includes all of YOU. It will help me connect with you and help you all connect with each other.

From now on, whenever I’m helping a writer or traveler or blogger get started on Twitter, I’ll have a list of tweeps for them to follow: TravelingWriterCommunity.

So leave your name and your Twitter handle below in the comments, and I’ll add you to our Twitter community!

Writers’ Roundup: August 6

You know the drill… Time for links!

  • Should you write for free? (I say no.) The Traveling Philosopher weighs in on what he calls the devaluation of words at the Huffington Post.
  • If you’re still not sure you should use Twitter (haven’t I convinced you already?), literary agent Janet Reid offers yet another reason. I nag, I know. Because I want you to succeed!
  • Author Mary Carroll Moore blogs about writing retreats and what happens when you’re alone with your creativity.

On a side note, I’m running my first-ever social media giveaway for a client this month. And it’s a damn good giveaway, which is why I’m telling you about it — a trip to Iceland! To enter, simply “like” Overland Experts’ Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and RT our giveaway tweet. Enter, travel friends! Here are the contest details.

Have a great weekend!

Writers’ Roundup: July 9

My favorite links from this week:

  • Chris Brogan on the importance of Confidence and Conviction. Always a good reminder. I’m a big believer that this can make or break you.
  • A post at The Fearless Journalist about personal freedom verses loneliness: Free to be lonely. Made me think.

Check back here Monday for Part II of Blogging 101!

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Writers’ Roundup: July 2

Wow, lots less time to go through my Google Reader this week now that I have clients! But it’s a good trade. Here’s what I’ve got for you:

  • Punky Brewster is coming out with a memoir! Well, the woman who played her is, anyhow. Who else will buy this?

[tweetmeme source=”alexisgrant”]

Happy holiday weekend!!

Writers’ Roundup: June 11

As usual, my favorite links from the week! Pretty eclectic mix today:

  • Advice on asking questions from a reporter-turned-stock-analyst. I love the art of asking questions, and Andrea James is right on the mark.
  • Climbing a Tree, Uncovering a Duck: Writers on Writing, from The Millions. Because writers can’t get enough of our own analogies.
  • If you haven’t seen this proposal video, you’re missing an opportunity for a good laugh and a good cry.

Happy weekend!

Writers’ Roundup: May 14

Thanks to all of you who left encouraging notes on my good-news post this week. I feel your love!

My list of links is short this week:

  • I recently discovered this site on taking a career break to travel: Briefcase to Backpack. Let them inspire you.
  • The Gatekeeper begs us not to compare our books to Eat, Pray, Love. I’m guilty of doing this and I bet some of the writers reading this post are, too. We should all think twice before doing it again.
  • Moonrat says when it comes to your book, you’ve got to be your own evil drill sergeant. Because you can’t count on anyone to fix things later.
  • After experimenting with Tumblr for a few months — because I might want to know how to use the micro-blogging platform in my next job (whatever that will be) — I’ve decided to turn it into What Lexi Reads, a running commentary on the many books that make it onto my nightstand.

This weekend I’m heading to the first-ever Compleat Biographer Conference in Boston. I hope to report back next week that I learned a trick or two.

A dozen tips for independent travelers

During my backpacking trip through Africa, there were so many moments when I though to myself, I’ve gotta remember this for the next time I travel.

Like most independent travelers headed for developing countries (independent = travelers who aren’t with a group and figure out accommodation and other details as they go), I knew to bring a money belt, invest in a pair of durable shoes and abide by simple food rules: boil it, peel it, cook it or forget it. But I learned a few more tricks along the way, ones you can use for your next travel adventure.

My tips for independent travelers:

Mom shows us how easy it is to use a stand-alone net.

1. Love your mozzie net. If you need a mosquito net, buy one that includes poles and sets up like a tent. (I use this Skeeter Defeater from Long Road Travel Supplies.) Hangable nets are useless when there’s nowhere to hang them.

2. Learn to Skype. Skype, a free service that allows you to make calls over the Internet, is the cheapest way to call home.  The drawback: for it to work well, you need a solid Internet connection, which can be hard to find in some developing countries. If you plan to Skype often, you may want to bring your own headset.

3. Be your own office assistant. Create sticky labels with addresses of anyone who deserves to get a postcard. You won’t have to carry an address book, and you’ll know you sent all required postcards when the labels are gone.

4. Buy visas along the way. It takes a little planning, but buying a visa in the country adjacent to where you’re going is usually cheaper than buying it from home and requires less paperwork. Just make sure there’s an embassy for country #2 in country #1, lest you get stuck without one. Also remember to ask about multi-country visas, which also can save you money.

5. Cipro for the sicko. Convince your doctor to prescribe several doses of Cipro, or Ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic that treats bacterial infections — pretty much anything that forces you to spend your entire day squatting over the toilet. Since travelers often suffer from stomach bugs in developing countries, it’s smart to have this drug handy. Bring Bacitracin ointment, too, and use it; even small cuts become easily infected when you’re not at home.

6. Make room for music. Ditch something in your pack so you can bring lightweight, portable speakers for your iPod. You’ll use them at hostels, on the beach, everywhere you want to share your music with others.

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Jumping on The Lunatic Express with Carl Hoffman

When I tell people I traveled by myself through Africa, they often ask: Were you ever really scared?

They’re expecting a story about being attacked by men with machetes or feeling alone in my hostel at night. But the truth is, I was most scared when packed into overcrowded bush taxis on dangerous roads. Every time I got into one, I thought about how I’d get out if we were in a wreck.

Author and journalist Carl Hoffman

So when I heard about Carl Hoffman‘s new book, The Lunatic Express, it shot to the top of my to-read list. Lunatic is a modern-day adventure, Carl’s story of traveling the world via its most dangerous buses, trains, planes and boats. But he says the tale is not about defying death. It’s about seeing the world the way most people do, about experiencing transportation that the poor use every day. His book trailer offers some interesting photos and videos of that transportation.

Carl has a lot of traveling and writing under his belt. He’s a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler, Wired and Popular Mechanics magazines, and also writes for Outside, National Geographic Adventure and Men’s Journal. He’s of the increasingly rare breed who has never worked a full-time job and makes his living freelancing. His first book, Hunting Warbirds: The Obsessive Quest for the Lost Aircraft of World War II, was published in 2001.

While I was in D.C., I sat down with Carl to pick his brain about traveling, writing and the book (on sale at Amazon). Now I’m sharing the best of our conversation with you.

Alexis: How’d you come up with the Lunatic idea?

Carl: I’d been traveling a lot for the last 15 to 20 years. I go to weird places a lot. And everywhere I go I just see buses, boats full of people, so crammed. I’m a curious person. I wanted to know, who are these people? Where are they going?

Hoffman's new book

I’ve always loved bus plunge stories [in newspapers], 100-word stories like, Ferry Sinks, 600 People Drown. Who are these people? It says so little about them. In that little 100 words is a big tale. It’s a tragedy, peoples’ lives. But you never know anything about it.

There’s a lot of talk about how everybody wants to go to the end of the earth… I had this thought that I could escape, but not to the end of the earth —  into the heart of the earth, to the very heart of the people, and to put my finger on something and see the world. The danger made it more salable, and I thought it would be an adventure for sure, an unpredictable adventure, but it was always less about me trying to defy death, [and more] about seeing the world and understanding the world.

Traveling for months in packed vehicles — that’s a nightmare for a lot of Americans.

The unknown is scary, always. Things over which you have no control. When you get to that train in Mali, in Bamako [Lexi’s note: Carl’s referring to a train in West Africa we’ve both taken], you’re just sort of throwing yourself into the mercy of another world and a bunch of people you don’t know, and that’s scary for people. In the end, I find that doing that can be quite liberating and fulfilling, and people are wonderful and gracious and take care of you.

Where would you like to go that you haven’t been?

I think I’ve been to 60 or 65 countries… I’d like to go to some more remote places. I like the weirder corners of the world. I’ve never been to Argentina or Buenos Aires. Africa, I’m fascinated with. I’ve been to about 10 or 12 countries in Africa, but there’s a lot more I’d like to go to.

How did you decide how to thread this story together?

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Tips for blogging from developing countries

I don’t usually repost pieces that I write for other publications, but this one is particularly useful to travel writers:

10 Tips for Blogging from Developing Countries

It’s about how to keep your blog alive and healthy when your Internet connection isn’t. Posted at the Matador Network. Check out additional hints in the comments, too.

Writers’ Roundup: April 2

I’ve noticed something about my weekly roundups: when I include a ton of links, readers don’t click through them all. So from now on, I’ll only include the best of the best, my absolute faves.

And my list is never just about writing. Maybe it’s time to change the name of this weekly feature?

Without further ado… Links!

  • Literary agent Jenny Bent writes about confidence in publishing. “There are a million and one ways that this business can make you feel like a loser,” she says. “Act like you believe in yourself until one day you’ll find out that you actually do.”
  • An excellent list from Marian Schembari, who specializes in social media for authors, on what people really notice about your blog. She says design and functionality and popularity matter. She’s so right.
  • Politics Daily brings us The Making of a Bestseller: Rebecca Skloot and a Great Obsession, about what this first-time author did to get The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on the bestseller list. “It took her 10 years, three publishing houses, four editors, one divorce, a freelance stint in New York, school loans and credit card debts..” the story reads. I just bought this book and plan to start it tonight!

Have a great weekend!