Take a Literary Tour and Find Stories

Sunday, May 12, 2013
Spring arrived in my home state - Nebraska - about two weeks ago. (We experienced snow and ice on May 1. Yikes!) Spring means rebirth, a fresh start, and. . . vacation time!

Our state tourism commission conducts a summer travel program known as the Nebraska Passport. It runs for five months, featuring 80 stops and 10 themed tours.

Here's why I'm excited: one of this year's tours is titled "Turn the Page." Yup! A literary tour around the state showcasing eight of the top spots, including libraries, book stores, and author sites.

I'm doubly excited because I can already sense the wide range of stories I'll be able to market after completing this particular tour. I envision travel, historical, culinary, business, features, and sports stories to come to fruition, and I'm betting I will be able to sell to local, regional and national markets!

Travel and writing = win/win for me!

Need an example? I'll start with the first stop: The Sisters Grimm, an old barn-turned-bookstore-photo gallery-coffee shop. Located in the state's panhandle, this business is located in a village with a population of 125. I will write stories about:

  • Regional History. It's a railroad town and the historic Lincoln Highway runs through it. Since it's the anniversary of the Highway, regional publications are printing stories featuring spots along the route. A horrific train accident occurred here in 1916. I've already sent a query to both a railway and history publication about the possibility of a story based on the incident.
  • Business. How does a book store survive, let alone thrive, in a small town? I'm going to discover their secret for success.
  • Food/Travel. I've heard from friends that the coffee shop serves some of the best pie they've ever been served. I located a publication that is interested in a desserts feature based along a particular stretch of road. Looks like I'll be ordering strawberry rhubarb, sour cream raisin, and fresh peach pie!
  • Agriculture. A local farmer and his family milk sheep. (At our place, we milk cows. 250 of them.) This would make a great story about diversifying a farm.
Plus, I'm bound to find other story ideas while I'm there!

If I can generate this many stories from one stop, just think about the number of articles I could write and sell if I hit all 80 stops!

"Turn the Page" also visits five sites associated with Nebraska's "Big Six" authors : Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz, Wright Morris, John G. Neihardt, and Bess Streeter Aldrich. I can only imagine the possible stories that will spring from my visits.

One of the reasons I'm most excited about the tour is simple; I hope a whole new generation and group of readers discover the literary treasures we have in our own backyard.

Selling stories won't hurt either. :)

Does your state tourism commission offer a similar program? Have you visited and/or written about the literary treasures in your state?

by LuAnn Schindler


Sioux Roslawski said...

LuAnn--You're only the second person I've "known" who has lived in Nebraska. Could it be possible the state's population is under a dozen? ;)

I don't know if Missouri has such a thing, but I am going to check it out.

Margo Dill said...

Sioux, you read my mind. I was thinking the exact same thing. . .

Marcia Peterson said...

Love the concrete examples! Inspiring for people who want to give this type of thing a try.

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