Flavors of Life: Writing for the Travel, Health, Fitness, and Food Markets

Flavors of Life: Writing for the Travel, Health, Fitness, and Food Markets

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lifestyle writing offers independent writers a wide selection of writing styles and topics. Like ingredients found in flavorful dishes, the words of lifestyle writers can enhance their readers’ savory exposure to one or more fields. For this program, a melange of seasoned writers and editors who have successfully bridged more than one style of writing will discuss opportunities in the various lifestyle genres, synergies between the different topics, and how to adapt your writing to connect with readers of particular lifestyle markets.

Our panelists include former Gault Millau Guidebooks editor James Burns, an expert on food, wine and travel writing, health writer and editor Elisabeth Deffner, Executive Editor, FMAware Magazine, published by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA), and award-winning food and travel writer/editor Barbara Hansen, with others to be announced.

Meet the panelists

After a decade working editor jobs at various sports and sporting goods publications (California Bicyclist, SportStyle, Actiona Sports Retailer, Bicycle Guide, and Triathlete), Roy M. Wallack became an independent writer of health, fitness, and travel stories, and athlete profiles, for many national magazines (Outside, Men’s Journal, Playboy, Bicycling, Triathlete, and others). He also writes a regular biweekly fitness gear column in the Los Angeles Times Health section, and frequently contributes other features to the Health, Calendar, and the now-defunct Outdoors sections of the paper.An endurance cyclist and runner, Wallack has toured the Soviet Union by bike and has completed the Eco-Challenge, the 1,200 km Paris-Brest-Paris bike ride, the 400-mile Trans Alp Challenge mountain bike race, the 2002 Badwater Ultramarathon, and other endurance events. Wallack is the author of The Traveling Cyclist, a how-to book featuring 20 of his bike trips around the world, and the co-author of Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100, a game plan for super-fit longevity through cycling, which is in its fifth printing.

Devin Alexander is a veteran in the fight against obesity and she’s winning the war with her unique approach to healthy cooking. Having maintained a 55-pound weight loss for over 15 years, she lives and eats her message: you don’t have to deprive yourself to be fit and healthy.Alexander has shared her secrets for unbelievably decadent, yet healthy foods through frequent appearances on “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “The Biggest Loser,” Discovery Health, HGTV, USA, Style Network and others shows and networks, and through over 100 magazine features in Prevention, Women’s Health, Shape, and Healthy Cooking, to name a few. Alexander’s first cooking show, “Healthy Decadence with Devin Alexander,” will start airing on Discovery Health Channel on March 29.

Alexander has served as culinary advisor to Men’s Fitness magazine and is currently the cooking expert for Women’s Health magazine. Her recently released cookbook, Fast Food Fix, was featured as an editor’s top pick in USA Today. And in October she released The Biggest Loser Cookbook.

For the IWOSC “Flavors of Life” panel, Alexander will discuss how she transformed her chef secrets into articles and story ideas, and how she works with TV producers, print editors, and publishers. (You can learn more about Devin at DevinAlexander.com.)

Lowell Thomas Award-winning food journalist James Burns is a one-man-band of food and travel writing in print and on the Internet. He created the award-winning Cyber Kitchen weekly magazine, and has edited and/or written several hundred articles in Self, Westways, L.A. Style, Los Angeles magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, the Philadelphia Enquirer, Newsday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Miami Herald, among other publications. He was the Editor-in-Chief of “Underground Wine Journal” which garnered six award nominations under his watch. He was Senior Editor at the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, where he edited “FoodStyles,” “World’s Fare,” “Berger On Wine,” and Cooking Light magazine’s syndicated material. Now an independent writer and publishing consultant, Burns has also been the editor for various books, including Cooking Without Fat and Baking Without Fat, both books by George Mateljan which have sold a combined 670,000 copies so far.

Along with her stewardship of FMAware Magazine, Elisabeth Deffner also is the editor of NFA’s e-newsletter, FMOnline. As an independent writer, Deffner has contributed to various national and regional publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, American Profile, Catholic Digest, and National Geographic KIDS. Her topics have ranged from Gulf War Syndrome to in vitro fertilization and frozen embryos to recovery from sexual abuse. She will provide valuable insight into how to pitch to editors, what health magazines are looking for from independent writers, and any differences between web-based and non-web-based content.

Food is Barbara Hansen’s profession and passion. Founder, editor and writer of TableConversation.com, Hansen brings to her cyberspace readers mouth-watering self-tested recipes, information about traveling to faraway places, and explorations of the various ethnic foods found in Los Angeles. For many years, Hansen wrote food features, restaurant reviews, and travel articles for the Los Angeles Times. In 2004 she won a James Beard award for an article on mezcal in Oaxaca. Mezcal is a distilled liquid made from the hearts (pinas) of various maguey (agave) plants. She was also nominated previously for a Beard award for an article on cooking with Chinese medicinal herbs. Hansen has written for Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Cuisine magazines. So far, she’s produced five cookbooks: Cooking California Style, Good Bread, Barbara Hansen’s Taste of Southeast Asia, Southeast Asian Cooking, and Mexican Cookery. She will discuss what it takes to develop food and travel websites, as well as how to approach food and travel editors with story ideas.