Calling all writers of travel memoir! Join the party.

January 8, 2010

UPDATE #2: Our Ning group has moved to Facebook. Request to join!

UPDATE: I’ve created a Ning group, Travel Memoir Writers, where we can continue this conversation, share ideas and learn from one another. If you’re writing a travel memoir, please join us!

Forgoing today’s Writers’ Roundup for something more fun: a blog party!

We’ve had blog parties here before. In fact, if you didn’t attend the last one, you should check it out. Lots of cool writers to meet.

But today’s party is slightly more exclusive. Today, I’m extending a special invite to writers of travel memoir.

Through this blog, I’ve connected with many writers and travelers — and a handful of people who write in my specific genre, travel memoir. Now I want to introduce you to each other! And perhaps a few lurking travel-memoir writers will come out of the woodwork, too.

We have a lot to learn from one another. If another aspiring author of a travel memoir was sitting beside me, I’d ask tons of questions. How are you structuring your book? Which travel memoirs already on shelves are your favorites? Are you finishing the manuscript before you query, or hoping to sell on proposal? What’s your theme? Which literary agents will you query?

So. If you’re writing a travel memoir or hoping to write one, how ’bout introducing yourself? Tell us:

*Your name
*What you’re writing about
*Where you are in the process
*A link to your Web site or blog
*Your e-mail (if you’re comfortable making that public)

Hopefully we’ll all meet a few new friends!

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    32 Replies to “Calling all writers of travel memoir! Join the party.”

    • Jennifer says:

      This is a wonderful idea and one of my favorite genres to read. I long for the day when I have had enough adventures to actually write a travel memoir. It seems when I travel, things are a little static.
      I look forward to meeing more travel writers.

      Have fun and happy weekend,

    • Katie says:

      I am writing a travel memoir about the year I spent in Oxford/Europe, earning my master’s degree and having all sorts of adventures. I wrote tons of journal while I was there, but am having trouble getting started on the actual book. Structure is really stumping me so far. (Any advice, Alexis?)

      This is a great idea for a blog party – I’d love to “meet” other travel-memoir writers!

      • Alexis Grant says:

        Hey Katie,

        This is why I’d like to connect a bunch of us… So we can talk about things that stump us! I’m thinking of starting an e-mail string or chat site or something else that allows us to communicate.

        As for finding structure, have you figured out your theme? Maybe part of the reason it’s difficult to structure is because you don’t know yet exactly what you’ll focus on, what lesson you learned or what you want to pass along to the reader. When you’re looking over your journals, search for that thread that holds it all together, and maybe that thread will make a structure more obvious.

        Also, you don’t have to start writing from the beginning. My first few chapters were the hardest for me. Start in the middle, or wherever you know what you want to write. Then you can build on that, little by little. And if you have words down, you can always rearrange the sequence later.

        Hope that helps!

    • Megan Hill says:

      Thanks for doing this, Lexi!

      I’m Megan, and I’ve written about half of my travel memoir about my year with AmeriCorps NCCC, a traveling community service program for 18-24 year olds. It’s part summer camp, part boot camp, part alternative spring break, part mind f**k. Bizarre, heartbreaking, inspiring, all that good stuff. I hope, at least.

      I’m definitely looking for some sort of community for feedback. My blog is: and my email is mahill23 -at- gmail -dot-com.

    • Great idea, Alexis.

      I don’t know if mine is exactly a travel memoir (does anyone know the exact definition of this?), but it’s a memoir about about what it’s like to be an American woman looking for an identity in a traditional European country where the bells still ring at 11 a.m. to remind all wives to get home and cook their husband’s lunch.

      I’m in the revision process.

      Would love to stay in contact with fellow memoir writers! My site and more about me can be found by clicking on the link above.

    • Norb Janis says:


      My recently finished humorous (I Hope) memoir about the 13 years my family spent in South America is ready for the next step. Looks like the next step may be more difficult than the writing, so I’m looking for help.

    • Norb Janis says:

      My Website is http://www.lavidainthetropics and my email is

      Hope to hear from you

      Norb Janis

    • Hi Alexis,

      I have ‘kind of’ written a travel memoir in that I have written it but it’s about 18 months in the one place: Orlando, Florida. I’m from Cork (Ireland) but in September 2006 I moved there to work in Walt Disney World. The book is called Mousetrapped and I’m preparing to self-publish it in March. (I had great feedback from agents, etc. but they all said it was too niche market to mainstream publish.)

      While the first half of the book is mainly about me and the many trials, tribulations and humidity-related bad hair days that befell me along the way, the second half is more ‘topic’ centered, if that’s the right word, and explores things such as Florida’s Space Coast (I’m an Apollo nut so the first thing I bought was an annual pass to Kennedy Space Centre and a year in got to realize my dream of seeing a Space Shuttle launch) and Celebration, the New Urbanist community that Disney built from scratch right outside its world-famous parks.

      It was great fun to write but I definitely struggled with structure, and treading that fine line between writing about yourself and your experiences, and being overly self-indulgent or whining.

      You can read more on my blog (I’m blogging about the whole self-publishing process as I go along) or view chapter headings, pics, the trailer I made for it and read the first chapter on the Facebook page:

      You can also follow me on Twitter @cathryanhoward. It’d be great to hear from other people who are trying to/have done the same thing.

      Catherine 🙂

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Alexis and thanks for this great idea!

      I’m writing a memoir about living and working in Afghanistan as a peacekeeper and human rights officer.

      The manuscript is not complete. I was planning to wait til it was complete before querying but I’ve had some interest from agents and one publisher so I’ve sent out the first three chapters (after getting them critiqued by my writing group and an editor friend) plus the synopsis and chapter breakdown.

      A couple of the agents asked for more so they now have everything I’ve written, even though the rest of it hasn’t been critiqued or edited yet (eek).

      So I’m at the “furiously writing to finish the last few chapters” stage and then I’ll put more effort into finding an agent at the same time as I send the rest of the MS to my first readers and get ready to start rewriting.

      My blog is at and there is an ’email me’ link on the blog. I’m also on Twitter as Fridaworld



    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Alexis:

      What a great idea. Thanks for hosting.

      I have been itching to connect with other writers of travel memoir. This whole “sitting down and writing a book” is a long and lonely road. Sometimes I bet it’s even bumpier than Africa’s dirt tracks. But then, who said it would be easy, right?

      I have written a travel memoir about the year I got dumped and jumped ship ““ or more accurately ““ jumped onto a ship, to sail around the world as Cruise Staff with Holland America Line.

      Turns out I was in good company; a male Tina Turner impersonator, denture snapping octogenarian and uptight cruise director were just some of my quirky shipmates. We sailed from Africa to Alaska and everywhere in between; I met a Maasai Warrior while peeing behind a bush in Kenya, discovered the particularities of prostitution in Singapore, and learned a little bit about the meaning of life at the Peace Park in Nagasaki. But the biggest surprise all? Love finds you when you least expect it; even 2,000 miles from land.

      Anyway, as to where I am in the process, I have an agent and we are getting ready to submit. (Fingers Crossed, stomach nauseous, finger nails bitten to the quick.) Wait, that sounds really uncool. Ahem, what I meant was, , my agent is getting ready to submit and I am drinking Gin Gimlets while splayed on my chaise longue.

      Great to “meet” everyone! It sounds like there is a quite a diverse group here, and I look forward to learning more about your experiences.


      • Alexis Grant says:

        Glad you stopped by… And yes, I consider writing for a year while living with my parents in my hometown harder in many ways than traveling alone in Africa 🙂

        • That’s too funny – I did exactly the same thing. I’m doing it right now, in fact. As I type this I’m in the tiny (think: phone booth) bedroom I grew up in, having moved back in with my parents so I could afford to write full-time. THAT is way harder than anything travel I ever did! 🙂

    • Alexis Grant says:


      I’ve created a Ning group for travel memoir writers — a place for us to continue the conversation.

      See you there!

    • Joanne says:

      I do write memoir, though not travel-memoir. What a great idea you have, connecting like-minded writers in this way. Enjoyed browsing here, best wishes!

    • Stephanie says:

      I’m so glad I found this post (via an RT on twitter). I’ve been working on using my blog as an outline for a memoir. I’m 18 months into a 2-year assignment in Burundi, in Central Africa. Just living here is an adventure in itself.

    • Emily Harris says:

      Oh, wish I had a travel memoir just so I could join this cool club. Guess I’ll have to BUY ALL THE BOOKS! 🙂

    • Todd Wassel says:

      Hi Alexis,

      Thanks for the idea a great blog. I just came across your site recently and have been lurking.

      I am almost halfway through my travel memoir, trying to finish it while still working…which is quite challenging.

      My memoir is about my second time walking a 900 mile Japanese pilgrimage where I visited 88 Buddhist temples and slept outside each night. After living in Japan for 5 years I was feeling lost in life and pulled in different directions by what society/family/friend expect of us. The book is about my journey around the Island of Shikoku but also about discovering what I want to do in life and how. I am using the pilgrimage as a setting for exploring Japanese culture and dispelling misconceptions about the “mystical” Japan and coming to a better understanding of how the sacred and profane are balanced there. All of this in what I hope is a humorous and lighthearted style!

      It can be quite the lonely road writing a book and it will be great to connect with others who are going through the same thing.

      My current travels, and some writings on Shikoku, can be found here:

      my e-mail is tawassel at


      • Alexis Grant says:

        Every time a new person writes in, telling us about their fantastic project, I get excited… There are more of us out there than I thought!

        Thanks for joining us, Todd!

    • Benita says:

      Hi Alexis,

      I just came across your website, and I love it. I am 30 years old, and currently in my 5th month of traveling around the world. I left NYC in September, after I was laid off from my job as a non-profit director (I had previously been in child acting and then a lawyer).

      I began blogging as a way of keeping up with my friends and family at home, but as I continued to travel, editors at some online publications began to take notice and asked me to do some writing for them. Thus, my new career goal (which is already more satisfying) was born. After the past few months, I’ve begun to think about using my blog as a skeleton for a larger book/memoir, and will include some of the previous non-fiction writing about my family I had started before my lay-off.

      The name of my blog is The Hussainity Defense (, and I look forward to feedback and more information from the other group members!

      -Benita Hussain
      bdhussain at gmail

    • Jocelyn says:

      This is a cool idea Alexis. Not sure if I count, but I’m working on a Memoir of life in China — as the wife of a Chinese man. I have a lot of material already written, but need to decide on what to focus on for sample chapters for that book proposal.

      My website:

      jocelyn at speakingofchina dot com

    • Gai Reid says:

      I love the idea of sharing our experiences to help clear away the inevitable roadblocks for each other. I’ve written a travel narrative/memoir that is also a journey of self discovery. I was motivated to start writing when I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s amazing “Eat,Pray,Love”. My book is called “My French Revelation” and it’s ready for a professional structural edit. The murky waters of finding a publisher is daunting me right now. I’m very excited about being part of a group who can help guide and encourage each other. Thank you.

    • Mark Rankin says:

      Hi, My name is mark and I live in Vancouver Canada. I spent a year and a half in Japan 10 years ago and have just started to wrtie seriously about it now. I’m a teacher, journalist and musician/songwriter but writing about my time there has been the most fun I’ve had at writing! It has also been quite cathartic as my time there was life changing, in both positive and negative ways. I have various chapters written and am wondering whether to start querying agents before I have completed the manuscript. Does anybody know of or recommend any agents that may be open to submissions? Would love to hear from anyone.


    • Hi, I’m John. I grew up in Australia but have lived in the US since 1988. I’ve also lived in Belgium, Canada and India for substantial periods of time, and visited about 35 other countries. Much of my globe-trotting was due to my participation in an international NGO going community and organizational development projects. I played a variety of roles in the organization, from group facilitator to fund-raiser to communications director.

      Since I left the organization about ten years ago, I’ve been working (part-time) on several writing projects “” a literary biography, a personal memoir, and an anthology of travel-inspired stories. It’s been tough going, negotiating steep learning curves all the way, as we all know in the writing game. But as fate would have it, it seems that all three projects have a reasonable chance of reaching publication next year. The memoir has been picked up by an Indian publisher, the biography is being seriously considered by an Australian publisher, and I’m going through the hoops of learning how to self-publish the travel anthology.

      It is the latter project that led me to this website. I have approached it as an anthology of stories, rather than a single-focus memoir. It includes experiences as varied as a train derailment in the middle of Australia when I was 13, hitch-hiking in southern Africa, posing as journalist at an international cricket match in Jamaica, and being threatened by a wild boar in a Costa Rican rain forest. In my introduction to the collection, I try to extract the common threads and lessons learned from these and other experiences. The stories pay homage to the amazing people I’ve been fortunate to meet in my travels and what they have taught me about life. As such, I see this more as a reflection on the human spirit than a series of titillating, cross-cultural anecdotes.

      The text is beyond first draft but needs further polishing. Initially, I had thought of just publishing the book for limited distribution to friends and family but I’ve been reconsidering this. However, given my limited familiarity and skills with social media, blogging, and the like, I feel in need of a lot of advice and a good bit of hand holding as I take the next steps. One question I’ve been struggling with is whether I need to develop separate websites and/or blogs for each of my three book projects or whether I can somehow manage to weave them into one. (I currently have a generic site for my writing and editing “” All suggestions gratefully received!

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