Saturday, September 15, 2007

Heading to the Inca Trail

Lest you think I'm a total slug, I actually have been busy and productive since my last post in April, I just haven't been busy doing a whole lot of writing!

A big chunk of time was spent teaching a journalism class at American University in Washington, DC. Twenty-five students from around the country -- most of them juniors and seniors -- came to DC to intern at various media outlets (BBC, MSNBC, ESPN, etc). The emphasis of my class was on writing. Students learned (and I'm pleased to report they really did learn) how to write for both print and broadcast. My teaching philosophy is that you "learn by doing," so students wrote a LOT (which means much of my summer was spent reading and editing the hundreds of pages they wrote). Every week, they had to take a lengthy wire story and boil it down to a crisp, 20-second broadcast story. In addition, there were weekly guest speakers whose appearances were treated like a news conference: students were required to ask questions and then write the story in newspaper style. Guest speakers were: Washington Post reporter Michael Ruane; the ever-feisty veteran White House Correspondent Helen Thomas; journalist/teacher/author Alicia Shepard ("Woodward & Bernstein: Life in the Shadow of Watergate"); and my fellow CNN colleagues Zain Verjee (State Dept. Correspondent) and Alex Wellen (Online Producer).

Following the exhausting (but fulfilling) summer journalism teaching experience, my wife Cindy and I escaped to a secluded cabin on a pond in Maine for what amounted to a two-week second honeymoon (our first was 29 years ago). We were virtually cut off from e-mail and the internet. GLORIOUS! (However, I did manage to squeeze in a few book talks and signings, just to keep limber). Cindy used her Mac to put together a magnificent slide show which, if I ever get the time (and technical prowess), I'll post it here for you.

A week from today, I leave for Peru where I'll hike the Inca Trail to Macchu Piccu, one of the newest "Seven Wonders of the World." This came about earlier this year as I was in the midst of the fourth major revision of my second novel (working title: BLUFF). A murder takes place along the Inca Trail, but the more I researched the place online, the more I realized that in order to make my writing more vivid, I'd have to go on location. I'm excited, but a tad apprehensive, too, because I'm a lot older than when I did stuff this rigorous in Army basic training in 1970. So...... your prayers are earnestly coveted and deeply appreciated.

I'll "see" you when (Lord willing) I get back.


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