Putting pen to paper was a joyous yet scary task. What would my words look like? Could I really write?
The first stories were reminiscences which needed to be put on paper as a sort of catharsis: The Return. Having done that "work," I moved on to more lighthearted fare, specifically coffee. Javacrawl was my first published piece, in the Travelers Tales San Francisco guidebook. Many of my early coffeehouse stories were musings born from a coffee-addled mind: Light, Sweets, Ambience and Outdoor Seating all capture qualities which are in ample supply in San Francisco's coffeehouses. Caffeinated to the core, I moved on to food and travel writing.
The patron saint of my food and travel writing has to be Sally Bernstein, the editor of Sally's Place on the web. Sally, more than anyone else, has allowed me to develop my voice as an intrepid traveler and culinary scout. With her encouragement, I have traveled the lower 48, Europe and Mexico in search of wonderful meals and delightful discoveries. This has led to restaurant reviews for her site on Miami, New Orleans, Seattle, Phoenix, San Diego, Las Vegas, Boston, Philadelphia and Mexico City. Travel features written for Sally have taken in most of the above cities along with L.A., New York and a good chunk of' Mexico. I also write a monthly coffee column at Sally's Place, not wanting to forget what got me started!
Moving over to the print side was a big step, yet one I'd always dreamed of taking. My lucky break came with Diversion magazine, a travel glossy exclusively for doctors. I had sent them a query with a clip of a story on South Beach I'd written for Sally. Turned out they wanted a feature on South Beach themselves! I returned to South Beach, did a ton of research and wrote a story which made the cover of the magazine.
Back on the web, the developers of Microsoft Sidewalk managed to find me. They were looking for a writer to cover San Francisco's coffeehouses in detail – nearly 200 of them! I was certainly the one for the job. Hundreds of cups of coffee later, I had profiled every San Francisco coffeehouse worth visiting, plus a number of java joints in Oakland and Berkeley across the Bay. The pleasure was truly mine! Around this time, the folks at Travelocity, a comprehensive travel site, also found me. For them I wrote a piece on coffeehouses around the world as well as some prose on a madcap jaunt which I called Weekend in Las Vegas.
Diversion rang again, looking for me to add to a big spread they were doing on Mexico. I contributed a piece on one of my favorite Mexican hotels, the Quinta Real in Huatulco. At the same time I was working on my first piece for Travel Holiday magazine, a review of one of my favorite restaurants, Yuca, in Miami's South Beach district. Making my days even busier, Coffee Journal magazine also called, looking for a write-up on the cafes of San Francisco's North Beach. These Italian coffeehouses are my stomping ground, making this piece a breeze to write. It also made the cover of the magazine, my second.
Moving over to the travel side of the far-reaching San Francisco Sidewalk site, I prepared a round-up of Yosemite, one of my favorite places in the world. Again, easy material to write, although I researched it thoroughly yet again in order to experience it fully and capture its essence for my readers. Branching in another direction, I assumed the role of editor for Astrozine, a webzine featuring astrological profiles of celebrities which was launched by astrology.net. While not focused on my first love, food and travel writing, Astrozine's publisher, Kelli Fox, gives me plenty of room to have fun while I write, and that makes it more than worthwhile. I've also contributed content to many other areas of the astrology.net site.
Yet another fork in the road led me to becoming a guidebook contributor. Robin Freeman, an editor at Bradman's, a U.K. guidebook company, found the Seattle restaurant review I had written for Sally's Place while surfing the web. He so enjoyed it that he enlisted me to update the Seattle chapter of the Bradman's USA guidebook. Researching this project was great fun as it allowed me to spend time with my dear friend Julie Seaborn, who lives in Seattle.
The road now turns toward me and the opportunity to develop a project of my own. All I can say is that this project will have me on the road, java in hand. Ain't life grand?