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*** My New Favorite Guidebook (Just Released, 2007)
*** Practical Writing Prompt of the Week: The Guidebook Approach to Travel Articles
*** Reader Feedback: Two Travel Essays Accepted for Publication in the Spring 2007

Dear Reader,

When I buy a guidebook, I usually look for the Frommer’s $ a Day budget guides — Washington D.C. from $80 a Day, Paris from $95 a Day, etc.

Why? Well, mostly because I’m a creature of habit. I started buying the Frommer’s and Let’s Go guides years ago because they focus on budget travel. Let’s Go is great for backpackers and those on a really tight budget. Frommer’s is a bit more mature but still budget-minded (think hotels rather than hostels), and I like their “Suggested Itineraries” section and their maps (Frommer’s maps are among the best).

But now that there are so many other guidebooks to choose from, I buy Frommer’s mostly because I can be in and out of the store in minutes rather than hours and I know I’ll come home with a reliable guide.

Then, just this past month, everything changed… I discovered something new…

You see, when I went to the bookstore to pick up guidebooks for my upcoming honeymoon, I got an idea…

Since we’re going around the world with stops in Milan, Lake Como, Dubai, Shanghai, and Tokyo, and I needed to buy a guidebook for each destination. Why not, I thought, buy five different guidebooks (from five different publishers) and compare them to find my favorite.

So that’s what I did. I bought one brand for each stop and then, on my way out, I saw a little Paris guide I’d never seen (or heard of) before. So I picked that up too. (I go to Paris at least once a year so I can never have enough Paris guidebooks.)

Here’s what I found… and it surprised me:

My favorite book of all — for both pre-trip planning and on-the-ground support — is The Little Black Book of Paris.

The other guides I bought are all divided into sections this way: Where to Stay, Where to Eat, What to Do. But The Little Black Book of Paris is divided by area. And each area has its own fold-out map (which, to be honest, blows the Frommer’s maps out of the water).

While the guide doesn’t have an entire history or culture section like most of the others do — Lonely Planet, TimeOut, Fodor’s, etc — it’s well written and there’s an overview of each area at the beginning of each section.

I liked the guide so much I went back to the bookstore to buy more. Unfortunately, they don’t have guides for my other destinations as they’re a fairly new series. They do, however, have one for Washington D.C., where I live, so I bought that.

After reading both guides — Paris and D.C. — cover to cover, I got so excited about these guidebooks I called the publisher to see what other books they have in the works.

Turns out, Paris, D.C., New York, and Rome are the only guides on shelves to date. But San Francisco and London are due out later this year (July and September respectively). And they hope to publish four a year from now on, with Boston and Disney World on their 2008 list.

These books are a real find, and I’m glad I stumbled on them. I encourage you to check them out.

And speaking of stumbling onto something cool, after the sunset shoot at our Charleston photo workshop, one of our attendees spent some time with professional photographer Shelly Perry, and came back with some really interesting pictures.

It seems, they stumbled upon a well-lit fountain in the park and Shelly showed her some really cool camera tricks you can do with light at night (including “ghosting,” where you can make the subject of your photograph appear like a ghost in your picture).

I asked her to show us what she’d learned, and you’ll find her step-by-step instructions in tomorrow’s e-letter.

Stay tuned. And don’t forget to scroll down to today’s writing prompt to find out how you can take the “guidebook approach” to writing travel articles…

— Lori
Lori Appling
Director, Great Escape Publishing

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]

PRACTICAL WRITING PROMPT OF THE WEEK: The Guidebook Approach to Travel Articles

Writing a round-up article is a lot like writing an entry in a guidebook. Let’s take the Little Black Book of Paris as an example. The “snapshot” about the Madeleine/Opera area in it reads:

In the 19th century Baron Haussman transformed Paris from a medieval fortress village into a modern city. With extraordinary vision he created wide, open boulevards that gave the city its aura of splendor and assured its place as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Besides increasing ventilation and integrating the newly extended water and sewer systems, the avenues had the advantage of making it harder for rebellious citizens to erect barricades — a lesson learned from the revolutions which took place between 1789 and 1848. Nowhere is his extraordinary urban planning as visible as in the area around Madeleine and the Opera. The opulent use of space, in boulevards as well as buildings, has made it a prestigious location for the headquarters of major banks, while its bustling streets attract tourists, fashionistas, and people-watchers.

… and it’s followed by a listing of thing to see, places to eat, stores to shop, and where to stay.

Using that selection as a model, you could easily write a paragraph or two about your own neighborhood — or a section of it — and then follow it with a listing that includes a brief sentence or two about the places you recommend.

When you’re done, send it to the Travel Post Monthly, where the editors are looking for exactly this sort of article… and more. You’ll find the guidelines here:


Hi Lori,
Just wanted to share my latest “success story” with you. Two of my travel essays, “Caught in the Timeless Web of Rome” and “Travel as a Sacred Journey,” have been accepted for publication in the Spring 2007 issue of Apostrophe, published by the University of Saint Francis. I will also be reading these selections at a public reception/ reading sponsored by the publication on April 19th. Thanks, again, to AWAI for showing me how to view the world with a “writer’s eye.”
Best Regards,
Mike Slagle

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