Jan 7, 2011

Tune up your travel writing – Writers.com's master class starts online Jan 11, 2011

Even the best of authors have ticks, unconscious patterns they fall back on, especially under stress or tight deadlines. Emotional material, for example, makes me start repeating everything thrice. Done intentionally, that can have great rhetorical effect, as devices like the rule of three and tricolon crescendo prove. But my babbling is of the nervous, insipid variety normally reserved for blind dates. It has no place in print.

Happily, I have a writing buddy, who reigns me back in – Edward Readicker-Henderson, often honored by SATW's Lowell Thomas awards and also Best American Travel writing. His poetic musings on quiet have appeared in AARP Magazine, Forbes Traveler and National Geographic Traveler, among other outlets.

But not everyone has such a generous world-class author in their little black book. Which led me to create a travel-writing master class, featuring five instructors, via Writers.com – the online school I've taught at since 2003. That's right. FIVE. Joining me and Edward will be:
  • New York University Instructor David Farley, author of An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church's Strangest Relic in Italy's Oddest Town, newly anointed as one of 2010's Best Travel Books by the Lowell Thomas awards, our industry's ersatz Pulitzers.
  • Charyn Pfeuffer, a culinary and travel freelancer who is undertaking The Global Citizen Project – 12 voluntourism projects in 12 countries – thanks to social-media fundraising. She not only magicked up $20,500 in 90 days, but Travelocity contributed another $5,000 grant, after she won a national "WE Do Good Award". Even more impressive is the fact she traded her Blackberry for a backpack: before this project, Charyn had cushy, high-rolling gigs covering luxury travel and Las Vegas. Bold and big-hearted, she's an inspiration not only professionally, but personally.
  • Author and columnist Thomas Swick, whose observations on the trade have been honored by Travelers Tales, Best Travel Writing and Best American Travel Writing. You may be familiar with his Columbia Journalism Review classic "Roads Not Taken," with which I plague students, friends and random passers-by. He's that sage...
Such a diverse roster of teaching talent remains rare outside conferences. Writers.com makes it available to anyone, anywhere, as long as they have a net connection. Assignments range from tweets to YouTube, but concentrate on evolving each author's narrative voice. Explore the curriculum in-depth or take our "are you ready for the master class?" quiz.

Frankly, I would be taking this workshop, if I weren't master-minding it. Because I still have ticks, after 17 years experience, a fistful of awards and eight years as an instructor (I also teach for Seattle's Richard Hugo House and TravelWritingClass.com in Rome). Because that repetition thing needs fixing. All that unconscious babble really is a problem and I can't see it. Yes, I really should stop rehashing in emotional moments ...

Like, um, now...

Castleman. Out.

In the mood for an authorial tune-up? The 12-week workshop starts January 11th, 2011 (late enrollment accepted until day 10). It costs $445, but readers can enjoy five percent off with the code MC111RAX.

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