“Noreen, you should be here” my friend Anne excitedly said to me over the phone. “This program has your name all over it.”

Anne was in Boston attending the 2013 Ultimate Travel Writer’s Conference. At the time, I honestly didn’t know what travel writing was about. I listened, then stored the information away for future reference. I’m a registered nurse with a full-time career, a family, and a busy schedule. My plate was full. But my friend was persistent. With my extensive travel history and opportunity to live in and travel Europe for three years, Anne was convinced travel writing would fit me like a perfect glove. In early 2014, Anne called again to tell me the conference was coming to my hometown of San Diego. Now I had no excuse. And Anne made sure I attended by taking the course again with me!

Fast forward to September 11, 2014 – the day that changed my life. Sitting in that writer’s conference the first day, I knew the program was for me. Seasoned writers convinced me if they could achieve travel writing success, so could I. Editors provided feedback about writing and article submissions, and all presenters were enthusiastic and informative with loads of helpful guidance. Ideas were swimming in my head, and I had trouble falling asleep with the excitement of possibilities.

I followed the conference’s 10-day program and sent my first article out on the ninth day. My hands trembled as I hit that “send” button, but, with a hope and a prayer, the article was out there for review, and fingers crossed, publication.

Almost immediately after the conference, I began receiving travel perks. As an ITWPA member, I carried my “press badge” with me identifying me as a journalist. This got me hotel room upgrades, free meals, and impossible-to-get dining reservations. That was just the beginning. I now have comped hotel rooms, vineyard horseback rides, and grape-stomping events to name a few.

Eight months after submitting my first article, I’m excited to share that I have 25 published/accepted articles with more on the way. I was also asked to be a regular contributor to a southern California publication after I submitted my first article to them. When a local San Diego magazine accepted my article on hiking with our grandchildren, my grandkids asked “Kiki, are you famous? Are we going to be famous, too?” And seeing my name in print for the first time was indescribable.

Now I’m a travel writer. I love saying that. I’m still learning, but I have the tools to do the job and a support system of seasoned writers, colleagues, and newfound friends — all because I took the plunge. And how exciting that God willing, I can travel and write for the rest of my life.

Mark Twain once said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream”. And I will add…”Write.”

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