Travel book of the year – a wonderful read!

Press release from Canterbury, New Zealand Society of Authors: from chair Heather Hapeta

Christchurch author Jane Carswell won the top prize at the eighth annual Whitcoulls Travcom Travel Book of the Year Award for Under the Huang Jiao Tree – Two Journeys in China (Transit Lounge Publishing).  Carswell picked up $2,000 cash plus $500 in book vouchers from Whitcoulls.  Auckland writer Justin Brown received runner-up prize of $500 in Whitcoulls vouchers for Bowling Through India – Five Kiwi Blokes Take on India at Cricket (Random House New Zealand).

The Whitcoulls Travcom Travel Book of the Year Award was judged by Owen Scott, Karen Goa and John McCrystal. Owen is an author, journalist and editor. An Island Calling, the film based on his book Deep Beyond the Reef won the 2008 Qantas Award for Best Documentary. Karen is an award-winning freelance travel writer and a previous finalist in the Whitcoulls Travcom Travel Book Awards, and John is a Wellington-based freelance writer and photographer with twenty non-fiction titles published, and in 2008 was Cathay Pacific Travel Writer of the year.

Jane Carswell’s highly personal Under the Huang Jiao Tree – two journeys in China was the unanimous winner, according to chief judge Owen Scott.

“Once again the books and stories were compelling and original in their very different ways – often surprisingly so,” said Scott. “The range of entries was incredibly varied.  The honours, though, went to two books with that little something extra, elevating them beyond mere storytelling and above their competitors. They could not have been more different from each other. One has you reaching for tissues, the other for smelling salts and Imodium!”

Jane told me (Heather Hapeta) how the New Zealand Society of Authors helped her.

“When I found a publisher for my first book, I thought my work was done. Over to him now, I thought, sighing happily as I dusted off my desk. I imagined all the books I’d read, now that the MS was someone else’s worry. For so long I’d had to keep my eyes fixed on that stumbling, lurching— and often sulking—offspring.

It was suggested that I apply for NZSA membership and they made it clear that the NZSA could help me, not only with my contract, but with all my other needs as a writer.  And not only could the NZSA help me, it seemed that it wanted to.

Local Christchurch members encouraged me to respect my own part in the process. Rookie writer I might be, but I was entitled to an opinion about font, paper, colour and size. After all, who’d written the thing?

My writer friends had learned to be sternly realistic.  They gave me long lists of suggestions: strategies, timetables, contact details. I was moved by their generosity. Struggling to survive in a competitive profession, they were still happy to share their discoveries and experience.

My book’s now on the market, making its own way in the world. But my sub for the NZSA won’t lapse. There’s a disease ‘Writers Doubts’ for which there’s no known cure. Finding a publisher, and even respectable sales, do little to ease what at worst is an agonising doubt, at best a nagging unease: ‘Have I got it right? Am I worth reading?’ As I launch myself, with no less dread than enthusiasm, into the writing of the inevitable sequel, I need the encouragement and support that can only be given by those who know what it’s like.” END

Heather Hapeta Phones: 353 4677 / 021 158 2816

List of 8 travel quotes I love: add yours to the list

Check this - InterIslander and an Air NZ plane at Wellington
Both the InterIslander & Air New Zealand @ Wellington Airport!

Hope you enjoy some of these … from a  list of many I love

  • ‘The five reasons for travel, given to me by Sayyid Abdullah, the watchmaker: “ to leave ones troubles behind one; to earn a living; to acquire a learning; to practice good manners; and to meet honourable men’  Freyer Stark in A winter in Arabia 1940
  • Travel magnifies and intensifies life. It allows you the opportunity to recapture a feeling of wonder, innocence and youth and depending on how vulnerable you are willing to become, it can also deliver a profound experience of unreality that can rattle your most basic beliefs. Eric Hansen.  The traveller
  • “Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
  • “You will have more fun on your vacation if you maintain a mental age of 18 or less. Act just old enough to make your travel connections and stay out of trouble.” – Joe Schwartz
  • Continue reading “List of 8 travel quotes I love: add yours to the list”

do you suffer from wanderlust?

Do you have a wanderlust? I have and consider it rather like a friendly disease or benign addiction – or are they oxymoron’s?

Maud Parrish 1878-1976 said “Wanderlust can be the most glorious thing in the world. Imagination is a grand stimulating thing, like a cocktail, but to find reality is the full course with champagne” Nine Pounds of Luggage.

As she travelled around the world sixteen times (with very little luggage and a banjo) I imagine she knows all about both wanderlust and reality.

When I read the above quote I wondered, what do those words REALLY mean? Imagination, wanderlust, reality – they trip off the tongue so lightly and yet maybe when I say I have wanderlust you may not know what I mean. or, when you agree yes I too have it, the attributes I give it on your behalf are way off beam.

Time for some market, or rather word, research.

The Oxford Paperback Dictionary & Thesaurus (Oxford.1997) dictionary tells me that wanderlust is an ‘eagerness to travel or wander. Restlessness.’ Yep. Got that.

My eagerness takes the form of an obsession with travel programmes on television or radio, travel pages in magazines and press, in fact I even buy magazines with names such as Wanderlust, Sojourney and NZ Wilderness. Why? So I can find new and exciting places to visit – places to add to my list.( High on my current list are diverse places such as a village in Canada that has polar bears visit, a river in  India and some springs in a Kenyan National Park, places I would not have know about but for my obsession.) Eager to get to places not well known. Restless when I feel trapped.

Goal planning, and goal achieving can be very different things. So often the people who tell me ‘You’re so lucky’ have dreams of travelling too. But are they eager enough to do the necessary saving and budgeting at home in order to reap the benefits of being ‘lucky’ enough to travel? Usually not.

However I digress, back to the book of words: imagination. This evidently means having a ‘mental faculty of forming images of objects not present to senses.’ Guess that’s me thinking of lazing on an Indian river, or viewing polar bears. Being able to see the dollar or two saved this week as a coffee on the West Bank in Paris. Yes I have imagination too. Imagination that my back will always be able to carry a pack on it!

I also checked wander and lust as separate words and I certainly qualify there. To wander is to ‘go from place to place aimlessly, diverge from the path.’ Well I have done that all my life, and travelling has not changed it at all. I LOVE to get off the beaten track, in fact to be lost is ideal, that’s when the wonderful, the unexpected, the amazing, the different happens. As long as I am found one more time than I am lost I know all is well.

Lust. Another word close to my heart. My trusty Oxford tells me it’s ‘passionate desire’. Well, been there, done that, still got it, intend to keep it – what else can I say. Passionate for travel, new places, food, people and experiences.

And finally, last on my list of words to check reality.  This seems to be the boring one, the one that people often accuse travellers of trying to escape from. Not so. This is what can separate the traveller (with time) from the tourist (on a schedule) as the dictionary says it is ‘what’s real or exists or underlies the appearances’.

How often I have made some assumptions about people, places, and things, about actions, beliefs, and religions by believing the appearances – what I think my eyes are telling me rather that waiting a little longer and seeing what is real.  We humans love to have order in our lives so make up stories to make sense of things. However that does not make them real. Knowing the ‘truth’ is like having a secret shared and I value the people who I meet along the way who share their truths, or realities, with me.

Nevertheless, ask three people to describe an accident they witnessed and each will be different. We experience things from within our own reality or context.

So do you have the wanderlust? Is your description of  it the same as mine? There will be commonalties, and I suspect, for people with the overwhelming desire to wander aimlessly, most will not be seeking a cure.

I agree with you Maud, wanderlust is glorious, stimulating, and sure provides the meal of life with champagne-like bubbles for me.

great review for my book

Unsolicited email from an unknown reader

I purchased your book yesterday (Friday 14th August 09) after the Probus meeting and have just finished it.

It can only be described as an absolute gem. It is a fabulous travel book; it is an even greater person story. I read several books a week and for me this is The book of the year. Your comments on your success in the battle with alcohol for me made this book even greater. Well done Heather. You have the great skill and achievement of knowing what is important in life and of knowing what is trivial.

Also, places I have been to and know reasonably well especially S.E.Asia I could suddenly see in a whole new light, I guess that is the skill of the very observant traveller and the skilled travel writer

Cheers, Harry (NOTE – last name not added here in respect for this person’s privacy, Heather)

Another male wrote –

‘Suffering serious withdrawals after finishing Naked in Budapest, and being deprived of my daily fix of travel in far-away places. I have not enjoyed a book so much for yonks.’

Hugh Adams (author of ‘A bakers dozen’)

Read more reader comments here

Buy Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad (ISBN 978-0-473-11675-0) for Fathers Day: Details here WEB naked-front-cover

kiwi travel writer confesses it’s difficult sometimes

Every traveller I meet is going to write travel stories: well every second traveller. They know they are good writers- everyone loves their letters and emails – and now they will give up their day job to become a famous writer.

According to my unofficial, and unscientific, gestimated research, 99.5% will never write. Why? Writing is difficult. It’s solitary; requires self-discipline and concentration. (if you want to be a travel writer see here for how to become one)

I know one hundred and one ways to avoid writing. When I sit at a blank screen, with a deadline looming, it’s amazing how creative I can be. I have developed the skills of evasion or procrastination to a fine art.

Confronted by a pristine sheet of paper – or my well-worn notebook – I suddenly need a coffee. The urge is imperious and no matter what I tell myself – write a hundred words and then you will really enjoy it I say – I don’t believe it, nor do I listen to myself.

Next comes the need, well not a need, but a desire, a craving, for a cigarette, or at least the nicotine in a cigarette. I would have thought after all this time that would have disappeared but no: every time I have to write- as opposed to wanting to write- the old addiction dragon rears up. It tries to tell me I could write if and when I have a white tube of dried plant in my hand.

To date I have been able to remember that I smoked to relieve the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal: not for pleasure as I had always imagined.

So, to quell that imperious urge and the thought that I can’t write at all without a nicotine fix I decide to dice vegetables for minestrone or some other time-intensive soup. Other writing-avoidance-ploys including sorting photos for some possible future story, having a bath, another coffee (at the Arts Centre) pruning my bonsai trees or responding to answer-phone messages.

However once all those have been attended to – or pushed down – I finally sit, pen in hand and start to combine my letters and postcards home with my on-the-road notebooks and record my experiences. Translate the hours, days, weeks, or months in a place into a story that will give you some of the flavours of a place.

I’m happy I am not a travel writer -in the usual way. It is so much more fun to be a traveller who writes about my experiences – rather than travelling so I can write about places. There is a world of difference. I don’t have to record where I stay, what restaurants I ate at, what activities I indulged in or visit any of the iconic must-see places that so many travel articles comprise of. I just travel; record highlights, then later decide on which to write about.

Travel writers who are bought to New Zealand hit the must-go-to places such as Rotorua, Milford Sound and Queenstown, while trampers hike the big name walks, Milford, Routeburn, Tongariro.  Unless they do some deeper research many do not realise that much of the real New Zealand lies in places that are off the well-worn trail. That’s why I like to write of experiences, people I meet and public transport, rather than tours of a country.

One of the saddest T-shirts I ever saw was on a young woman in Athens. 32 countries in 30 days it proudly proclaimed. Not the type of trip I want, but one that could produce a travel article on the highlights for the next persons race though the continent in a bus with others. If you just want the highlights and want others to do the planning that’s fine and I understand it too.

One of the difficulties of living down-under is it takes so long, and costs so much, to get ‘upover’ that we are tempted to cram in as many places as possible. I recently spent a few days with a group of Americans who had two weeks to explore and hike in New Zealand and they too had a tight schedule for the same reasons. New Zealand is a long way from anywhere- geographically speaking.

However if you want to be tempted to try somewhere different, (or be one of my many armchair travellers) and I  hope my stories encourage you to do some research and explore this wonderful world.

See what happens when I finally just start writing – eventually the page is full.

most bombed country in the world

Most Bombed Country in the World

Pausing for a photo, we then walk under an archway that tells us ‘Welcome to Indo China.’

Polly and I met on a beach in Malaysia two months ago. Hearing travellers extolling the beauty, the friendliness and non-tourist-like qualities of Laos, we succumb to the temptation to visit ‘the most bombed country in the world’ and two days ago we met as arranged in northern Thailand. We’re about to cross into a country that neither of us knows about except those good reports.

A borrowed guidebook has given me a few facts: during the late sixties and early seventies, American B-52s dropped some 6000 tonnes of bombs on this narrow country in an attempt to destroy the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Special guerrilla units, trained by the CIA, caused such havoc that locals planted and harvested their rice at night and 300,000 people fled to refuge camps in Thailand: it’s the heaviest bombing any country has ever encountered. Although one of the poorest nations in the world and with a life expectancy of only 52 years, these five million, mainly Buddhist people, remain resilient.

‘Can I take my gun?’ I ask the guard. Crossing borders can be fraught with problems but I smile and hope all will be well as she holds out her hands and I hand it over. Solemnly taking it, she looks at her fellow officer, lines the barrel with his chest and fires!

web laos polly and iWe laugh; his uniform is covered with water. For the first time I witness humour from customs officials but in spite of our shared laughter I’m not allowed to take a photo of them having fun. Nevertheless I can take my new, bright-green, double-barrelled, pump action water pistol with me: Polly takes her red and yellow one.

Read more in Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad by Heather Hapeta

travel and fear: can a woman survive a year on her own?

Traveling a breeze? Not always!

Fear raises its ugly head and sits beside me. I’ve been fed, watered, had a nap, and now fear demands I re-worry about how to get from Los Angeles international airport to its domestic terminal. Once again I doubt my ability to complete this journey. Am I capable of travelling alone, for a year?  Will I find a bed each night? map worldWith my lack of other languages, how far will miming get me? My mind has a long conversation with itself until I finally push these concerns away, practice living in the now, staying in the moment and leaving the future to arrive, and be worried about, when it is due.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to land in Los Angeles. Please fasten your seat belt and ensure your tray table is upright and your hand luggage is stowed under the seat in front of you.”

My heart beats faster, I’m here. My big adventure is really starting. Deep breathing, I brace my back squarely against the seat while the pilot completes the most dangerous procedure of any flight, and within moments we land smoothly, as smooth as I hope my travels will be.

Customs. Despite having nothing to declare I would love to declare the world is wonderful place or some other such facetious remark. Luckily I don’t as I meet the customs woman from hell. She is a well manicured, big haired, beautifully made-up Mexican woman.

‘Next’ she yells. I walk forward. Continue reading “travel and fear: can a woman survive a year on her own?”

be daring but not defamatory:attack sacred cows

I wrote this column a few years ago when I was creating the travel pages of a now-defunct newpaper (The Christchurch Citizen). I’m reprinting it here as it seems it has advice that some bloggers may find useful!

“While other crafts have to sit around chewing their fingernails waiting for a movie to be put together, writers have one great strength. They can sit down and generate their own employment and determine their own fate to a great extent by the degree of their disciplines, their guts and their talents” Fay Kanin (American union activist. Writer b.1917)

Unfortunately, many times as I sit to compose this weekly column I doubt I have the discipline, guts or talent to do so.

Why does it always have to be on a travel-related topic? (Because it’s on the travel pages Heather) Why can’t I just write about what I think about the world? (Why should anyone be interested it what you think about the state of the world?) Why is it so hard for an opinionated woman like me to think of a topic week after week – month after month?

(Who knows? who cares how hard it is for you?)

Such are my thoughts as I sit at the computer contemplating a blank screen. I am not a disciplined person. I find it difficult to remember to take medication when it’s been prescribed. I just don’t do routine.

‘That’s why you travel so well’ said a friend a few days ago. ‘You actually thrive on the state of flux your life is in when you’re on the road.’

I concurred. Decision making on the spot, living on my intuitions, going with the flow, swimming with the current rather than across it or upstream are the hallmarks of a passionate solo traveller such as I. But does it make a writer? One who needs to be making a living by the sweat of her brow, or pen. Does it give me the guts and talent Fay Kanin talks about?

Recently I listened to three columnist’s talk about what a column is and what a columnist should say. This is my interpretation of their words.

A writer of weekly columns should be disciplined, (ha ha) have something of importance to say, (yeah right) something fresh, (sure) of the moment (really). They should never be pretentious (or precious I wonder?) they should have a strong opinion (not always easy with travel topics) and seek to polarise – you, the reader – occasionally. Of course it needs to be so interesting that you will read it to the end. (I know my mother reads it -that’s her duty – but other readers, please don’t go, stay till the end.)

If its not personal its not a column they tell me. Well that’s a balancing act if ever there is one. How much do I want you to know about me and even more importantly, how much do you really want to know about me? Sure I can be witty and charming and lucid but at other times I can be mean spirited, self centred and occasionally, – very occasionally of course – obtuse.

So be daring they tell me, but not defamatory, be opinionated, get up peoples noses sometimes, attack sacred cows, be the devils advocate. Point out double standards. Write about sex. Be insightful.

But wait, like the advertisements, that’s not all: I should test your ideals, push frontiers, make you think! I need to be provocative and make you react and I should be passionate.

What a darn tall order: even taller within the confines of a travel column, nevertheless I just tried. I had to delete the whole paragraph! It was all the things a column should not be. Forced, pretentious – and “pretension is fatal,” said the chair of the forum.

So what now? Guess I will just keep writing these each week. I will keep sitting in front to the screen awaiting the muses’ arrival with a basket of sexy, provocative, challenging, insightful topics for me to write for you to read – right to the end.

For those who have, I salute you and thank you for your time.

want to be a travel editor? what’s needed?

The future for travel editors?

by Jeremy Head – travelblatherer

Travel WriterI was really struck by a recent job ad on from Frommer’s. The job title is ‘Editorial Manager’ and it’s to manage and implement the upgrading of content for a major travel brand’s website.

I know Frommer’s does a lot of work for BA and for Hilton hotels so I’d imagine it’s probably for one of these two.

Some of the requirements are as follows (the elements I’ve taken out for the sake of space are mainly about softer skills like people management and getting the job done.)

* At least five years’ experience of managing successful online projects where high volume, high quality editorial content has been delivered to specification and deadline
* Meticulous editor, responsible for ensuring quality control at every stage of the production cycle
* Technically savvy, and a whizz with Excel
* At least five years’ experience at a senior editorial level in the travel and hospitality industry
* Broad destination knowledge of EMEA and APAC 
* Acute sensitivity to tone of voice and brand
* Unwavering ability to ensure content connects with customers

read the rest here 

interviews with writers: its all about me! ha ha (two years ago)



Interview with a Travel Writer…Heather Hapeta

Today’s interviewee is New Zealand travel writerHeather Hapata. Heather’s articles have been published in the Sydney Morning Herald, NZ Listener, and Morning Calm (Korean Air’s in-flight magazine), she writes a monthly travel column for Homestyle magazine, and has her first book, Naked in Budapest, due for release in June. 

Hi Heather and thanks for stopping by My Year of Getting Published.

1. Did you always want to be a writer ? How did you get started writing?

I was an avid reader as a child and always dreamt of being a writer – I thought how fabulous it would be to give such joy as I had from book. However it wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I had the time and confidence to give  a try – after all when you are fifty-plus surely it’s time to do what you really want to do.


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