Pendgracs-Chocolatour-CoverHappy to let readers know that this bi-weekly series resumes tomorrow.  First guest is Doreen Pendgracs who will be talking about her new book, “Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate.”  Her book is delicious … and her interview promises to be yummy as well.

Tagged with:

Saturday, October 26, Haviland Club in Charlottetown, PEI.

This workshop is suitable for both newly-minted freelance writers and seasoned journalists who want to expand their portfolio. Aside from exploring magazine and corporate writing opportunities, participants will also pick up tips on managing the business end of things from how to negotiate and figure out what your time is worth, to how to manage work flow and keep track of things.

AM session: Expanding your freelance portfolio

  • Writing opportunities in the magazine world + hidden markets (trade journals and niche publications)
    • analyzing periodicals
    • queries that work
    • finding different angles for same topic or subject
  • Writing opportunities in the corporate world
    • review sample advertorials, ads, brochures, newsletters etc.
    • how to find clients
    • how to partner with other professionals to offer full-meal deal (translation services, graphic design etc.) to corporate clients

PM session: Becoming business savvy as a freelance writer

  • Organizing your workflow
  • How to figure out what you time is worth and if you are making money (or not) on assignments or projects
  • How to keep track of things: using query/client tracker, sending invoices, tracking invoices/payments etc.
  • Dealing with non payment issues: filing a judgment in Small Claims Court and how best to prepare
  • When is the right time to register for HST? Pro’s and con’s
  • Negotiating tips
  • Marketing tools (portfolio, website or blog, testimonials, business cards, etc.)
  • Networking tips

Workshop fee is $125


For information or to register, contact me at




Stacey Russell from Fredericton Tourism replies to Twitter inquiries.

Stacey Russell from Fredericton Tourism replies to Twitter inquiries.

I keep falling in love. With Fredericton. Sounds schmaltzy maybe, but there you have it. One of the reasons is that it’s so hip and savvy. To demonstrate this, I just wrote an article about how Fredericton’s new “Twisitor Centre” is making headlines. As it happens, I just joined the 21st Century and bought an iPhone. Having a blast learning how to tweet. (Well, if truth be known, I’ve wanted to pitch it in the river a few times but I can’t stand the thought of a phone being smarter than I am. So, I’ve decided to conquer the bloody thing.)

Anyway, back to the Twisitor Centre–it’s the first in Atlantic Canada. I wrote a wee story for Travel + Escape about this. Check it out here.


PEI sunflower field card (2)Heading to PEI this summer and will be delivering a MEMOIR WRITING WORKSHOP on Saturday, August 3rd from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

WHERE: Argyle Shore Community Hall (7654 Route 19 – between the TransCanada Highway and the Bonshaw Road, about 25 min. from Charlottetown).

Fee: $90

Want more information? Workshop outline? Email me at

Tagged with:

Birchdale thumbWell now. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun. Or, when you are in such a spin you don’t know which way is up. Or down.

Mercifully, I’ve come out on the other side … and seem to have most of my marbles intact.

Have also been canoeing of late. Great trip with dear friends into Birchdale and the Barrio system, one of my favourite places on earth. We’ve had days and days of rain here in Nova Scotia … weeks of the wet stuff actually, so I was ecstatic when the sun came out on Day 1 of our 4-day wilderness trip last weekend. It lasted for three solid days.

Mind you, we had an interesting thunder storm with rain showers on on return paddle, Day 4, so we pulled ashore on a wee beach, quickly set up a small tarp, hauled out our thermoses of tea and proceeded to tell yarns until the storm passed.IMG_0281 (2)

Now planning a wilderness women’s trip into Great Barren Lake. But first, need to pay attention to a few deadlines. Reminds me of a quote by David Adams:  “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.”


Tagged with:

OK. In my last post I bellyached about how I was away so much that it interfered with my having time to write any posts.

I signed off by saying, “No more excuses.”

I lied.

I got pneumonia. Yep. Just like getting run over by a train. Knocked me silly and put me out of commission for a few weeks. But the good news is that I finally got rid of those nasty bugs that took over for a bit. Hello again to living, working, and just plain being able to breathe again! Mind you, I’m playing serious, very serious catch up. Big time. Once again, aiming to see daylight by month’s end.

Meanwhile, here’s a photo essay I did for Life As A Human about a memorable encounter I had in Vietnam titled “Gifts from Hanoi.”

Carmen and I also wrote some stories about Thailand for Travel + Escape. I’ve imbedded the links into the names of the stories.


Glimpses from Thailand ~

1. Elephants for Beginners

2. The Stories of Thailand’s Temples

3. The Art of the Coverup

4. The Opium Gardens of Thailand

5. 10 Must-see Festivals in Thailand

Tagged with:

If you sensed I was embarrassed when I wrote my last post, I am now mortified knowing it’s been so bloody long since I’ve been posting on a regular basis. My excuse? Tracking down stories … two weeks in New Brunswick, three weeks in Labrador and five weeks in Vietnam/Cambodia and Thailand respectively–all since my last post.

For someone whose business is only partially related to travel writing, I seem to be on the road a lot! Truth is, I also find lots of business stories, human interest stories, interesting people to profile etc. So it’s not all about travel. It’s just that I usually spread things out a bit more and don’t live out of a suitcase for six months like I have this year.

For part of my time in Vietnam, my laptop and I were separated. How, oh how could one leave their laptop (with their entire business) behind you may ask? It’s easy. The weird thing is that I conscientiously removed my camera from by backpack in order to slip in the laptop in the back compartment; dutifully removed the cord/converter from the wall/laptop and stowed it away in the front section; replaced my camera in its rightful place; turned on my heel and left the business centre at the last hotel we we staying at in Hanoi. Only,  my laptop remained on the desk. Not hard at all. Mercifully, with the intervention of a new Vietnamese friend, Hoang Tu Nam, a.k.a. “Larry, ” he was able to track it down in Hanoi and made arrangements to have it forwarded to Ho Chi Minh City where I retrieved it 12 days later.

But oooh the memories of all those trips. And the stories! Now I am in a query/writing frenzy while trying to keep a handle on assignments that are due this month and next. I’m not complaining. I just need to find a way to eek out a few more hours a day.  I reckon that a 36-hour day would do nicely, especially if I only had to sleep for four or five hours.


As this blog is my playpen, and as work does come first, you can see how my posts have taken a back seat for many moons.

Sure hope I catch up before the snow flies as I yearn to have time to get  Author! Author! back up and running, my photo gallery updated, and time to post some random thoughts about the writing life in general, traveling, paddling … or nothing in particular.

Meanwhile, here are three shots from Vietnam. First is from the bizarre and busy streets in the old quarter of Hanoi, the second is from Ha Long Bay, a magical place about three hours from Hanoi city, and the third is on the Mekong River in the southern part of Vietnam.

I also picked up a remedy for a cold from Larry, the same person who rescued my laptop: boil an egg, remove the yolk, put a silver coin in the cooked egg white, wrap egg and coin in cheesecloth then rub on forehead, temples and back of neck. As I developed a devilish head cold after spending 19 hours coming back home, I’ve used that remedy once a day and it seems to help (along with massive amounts of Vitamin C and some Echinacea.) He also provided a great remedy for upset stomach which he made for my sister, Carmen, while on the journey: simmer unrefined rice  for 30 minutes, strain,  and serve the hot rice water. Settled her tummy in a jiffy.

Onward! As far as I know, I plan to stay rooted here in Canaan for the winter. With any luck I can catch up in the next month or so.

No more excuses.








Tagged with:

I’m embarrassed to have such a prolonged absence here. I seem to get sidetracked by life in general and work in particular. Not a bad thing!  But it does seem a pity that we have to interrupt living with getting a few hours leep. Such is life.

You’ll be happy to know, however, that the Author! Author! series will resume in September.

Meanwhile, I’m involved in researching/writing several stories throughout Atlantic Canada.

I’ve also taken on the role of Managing Editor (Atlantic Canada) for a travel website titled Chichaku. I’m currently setting up content for Atlantic Canada and expect that we will be launching  this part of the Chichaku site in August.

Trust everyone is having a joyful summer.

The two photos that you see here were taken at Birchdale, one of my favourite places on earth.  Top photo is first cabin close to lodge. Second photo is from my canoe on a stillwater enroute to Second Carrying Lake. If you look closely, you may be able to see the beaver house on the upper mid-left of the shot on the right.

Just completed a 5-day wilderness paddle into “the Barrio” which is close by (above Birchdale), and will be returning for our annual Birchdale women’s get-away September 26-30. Birchdale is located about a 1-hr. drive from Yarmouth, N.S.  We stay in log cabins (no electricity). Heavenly! Great paddling and fellowship. Oh yeah … we take turns cooking and the food is always beyond wonderful. In fact, I’ve heard it said that this trip isn’t about paddling at all. Rather, it’s all about eating. Contact me for information.


Tagged with:

Battle Harbour, Labrador

Woohoo! I’ll  soon be doing one of my favourite things (delivering a travel writing workshop) in one of my favourite places (Fredericton NB). The workshop will be on April 28, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at “The Station” on York Street.

Here’s a quick recap of the focus and workshop outline. Pass the word around!

Focus: travel writing for print publications (newspapers and magazines) as well as online publications and blogs. Participants will explore and be exposed to different kinds of travel writing (trade, commercial, advertorial, service, feature, books etc.) Samples will be provided. We’ll also discuss expectations of clients and editors, the importance of taking decent photos, the value of networking and all about press trips.

• who buys copy or hires travel writers? (where are the outlets/ opportunities?)
• putting your interests to work for you; specialize or diversify?

Wadi Rum, Jordan

• how to analyze a market and understand editor/client needs
• how to write an appropriate query/pitch

TRAVEL BOOKS: Which way to go? Publisher, agent or self-publish? Resources?

• writing content for public and private sector (e.g., advertorial, content for brochures, interpretive panels)

• what do editors/clients expect?
• the art of taking great shots (10 tips for “wow” photos)
• how to send/present photos to editors/clients

• professional writing organizations e.g., TMAC and PWAC. How does it “work”; what are the expectations? Benefits?
• importance of having your own website or travel blog + business cards + social media
• building a portfolio + testimonials
• travel-related websites that you should know about

Virgin Gorda, BVI

• getting to know your destination; mining for story ideas, developing angles
• finding experts (and locals) to interview

• press trips vs setting up individual itineraries (pro’s and con’s of each)
• who pays? How arranged? What’s expected?
• protocols and trip etiquette

• bibliography of travel writing books
• discussion/suggestions how to improve narrative writing skills

FEE: $125 (inc. HST). For more information or to register, send me an email at

Wendy Kitts is a freelance writer who’s penned stories for magazines and been a regular reviewer of middle school and young adult literature for several years. As you’ll discover in this interview, she’s learned a lot about going out on a limb and saying “yes” to the Universe.

Wendy lives in Moncton, NB. She’s also the author of Sable Island: The Wandering Sandbar (Nimbus 2011). With its singing sands, wandering dunes and wild horses, Sable Island is one of the most magical places in the world. Yet very few people are ever allowed to visit the vulnerable island recently designated as a Canadian National Park Reserve. Full of photographs, science, and history, Sable Island is an exciting look at a truly untamed part of the world and brings young readers up close to this beautiful, fragile place.

Now, on with the interview!

Where did the idea of doing this book come from?

This book was 50 years in the making. Seriously. I wanted to go to Sable Island ever since I saw a news story on CBC TV when I was six (in the mid-sixties). The horses were starving at the time, and the government was doing a hay drop. I’ll never forget that grainy black and white image of emaciated horses running through the sand dunes. One paused and looked up at the camera.

Lots of people dream of going to Sable Island. How did you pull that off?

Sable Island is protected; the government currently allows 50-100 visitors per year with written permission from the Coast Guard (although that may change with the recent announcement that the island is becoming a national park reserve). In 2009, I heard about a week-long artist’s retreat to Sable led by Richard Rudnicki and Susan Tooke (book illustrators). They were looking for 8 other artists to join them and it was sort of a test project to see how “regular” people could respect the island’s fragile ecosystem.

I responded immediately but it cost a small fortune – $5500 – with most of the money going towards the chartered flight. I managed to get the $1000 deposit but had no idea where I would get the rest. Most of my family, especially my mother, said the money could be better spent on food or rent. As a single freelance writer, I didn’t disagree, but there was something about fulfilling a life-long dream that I couldn’t ignore. Just before the cut-off date to pay for the trip I received an unexpected tax refund. Still gives me chills. I was expecting only $600 that year but received $3500! To me that was a sign from the Universe to go.

My family started their campaign about better uses for the money but a writer friend [Wes] told me the trip would be an investment in my soul. That still makes me tear up because not only was it an investment in my soul, it gave me my first children’s book—another lifelong dream.

But I didn’t go to Sable Island with the idea of writing a book. The book came to me the night before I left the island. I sat up in bed with the idea that I would write about Sable in an ABC format, especially as I had the perfect words for X and Z – letters traditionally a challenge to fit such endeavours. X was for “xerophyte” the type of plant that holds the island together and Z was for “Zoe” the naturalist who has lived on Sable Island for almost 30 years. I quickly scribbled notes for the rest of the letters and went to sleep.

How did you go about finding a publisher?

I knew from my children’s book review days, that Nimbus publishes books on regional subjects, especially books about Nova Scotia. I also knew they did beautifully illustrated ABC books for older children on Nova Scotia locations so I thought they would be a great match for this; luckily they thought so too.

A magical moment on Sable Island when a horse comes over and greets Wendy. (Photo Liza Hageraats)

Tell us a bit about what was involved from signing the contract to getting the book published.

Although Nimbus was immediately interested, they asked me to consider a format change and if I could write in a similar style to another book on their list, The Children of Africville. So I checked that book out of the library, studied it, did a formal non-fiction proposal with sample chapters and suggested images and sent it back. It was accepted right away.

Of course, writing it took much longer than anticipated once it became a non-fiction chapter book for 7-9 year olds. But everyone at Nimbus was great to work with. Not much changed as far as the text (although if I had known I was going to be a writer, I would have paid better attention in English class!)

Nimbus used a lot of my own photographs but I had to get images to fill in gaps for subjects I didn’t have pictures of, as well as obtain historical photographs. I was very pleased with how the book turned out and extremely excited when I saw they had chosen one of my photographs for the cover shot.

Advice for folks who have a book roaming around in their heads?

To quote Nike,” Just do it.” It’s roaming around there for a reason – it needs, it wants, to be expressed. Get it out of your head and on paper and let it have a life of its own. As my friend Wes said, say “yes!” Just say yes and see where it takes you.

Questions or comments? Fire away!