Monday, April 16, 2007

Healthy Advice for Healthy Travelers and Writers

Today, I talked with Lisa Iannucci, author of several books, including her latest, "Healthy Travel: Don't Travel Without it." Lisa tells us how she successfully writes while being a single mother and shows us success can come from cold calling small publishers.

Tell us about yourself.
Since I could pick up a pencil, I knew I wanted to be a writer. My first-grade report on what I wanted to be when I grew up was "a freelance writer." Even my teacher didn't know what that was, but I've been freelancing since I was 19. I turned full-time freelance when I became a mom and haven't looked back since and hope I never have to. I've written hundreds of articles on topics such as health, real estate, remodeling/building/property management and celebrities that have appeared in many publications including Los Angeles Times Travel Section, Frequent Flyer, Shape, bp and more. I've also written five books and contributed to several more. I'm the founder of a celebrity do gooders blog which I absolutely LOVE to do. I also founded the site My latest book is Healthy Travel: Don't Travel Without It (Basic Health Publishing)
Tell us about your book.
Healthy Travel is everything you need to know that you don't want to think about when you travel. It tells you about immunizations you need depending on what country you are going to, how to travel with medications, how to travel if you have a specific preexisting condition, how to travel stress-free, how to stay safe while you travel, how to travel with kids, how to eat healthy and exercise, how to prevent blood clots, and more.
How did you come up with the subject to your book? What made you decide a book was needed to help people with healthy travel?
I have been writing articles for Frequent Flyer on Healthy Travel for quite some time. I was also starting to get more requests for these types of articles from other national magazines and newspapers and I started to realize there might be a market for it. I did my preliminary research and while other traveling books had chapters devoted to healthy travel, there wasn't one book that was entirely devoted to healthy travel. But since I'm not a doctor, I needed and wanted a specialist to work with me. I had interviewed Dr. Zimring, a travel medicine specialist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, for these other articles I wrote and he had such energy for the topic that I asked him to be my co-author and he agreed.
Who is your audience and how did you arrive at that?
Our audience for this book is the regular Joes and Janes who travel. It's not really for those who are extreme travelers, although they can gain information from this book as well, but there is so much more we could tell the extreme traveler that it might be another book in itself. In the meantime, we wanted as broad an audience as possible. Parents, seniors, first-time travelers, frequent business travelers, solo travelers, at-risk travelers can all gain something from this book - it might even save their life.
How did you find your agent?
I don't have an agent. I approached several about this book, but they felt it was a 'smaller' book and they all seemed to be looking for blockbuster books. So I did my research again and looked through Writer's Market and other resources looking for publishing companies. I finally found Basic Health and it was a fit. Actually, I didn't have an agent with any of my books.
How long had you been writing before getting your first book published?
This is actually my fifth book that I've completely written. I've written two "Unofficial Guides." one on Minding Your Money and one on Arthritis. I've also written a book on birth defects for Enslow Publishing and ghostwrote a book called "Spectacular Homes." I've contributed to several books, including ASJA's book on writing. My first book wasn't until about 8 years ago - until then, I focused on writing for magazines and newspapers.
What are your writing habits? When do you like to write?
Over the years, my writing habits have changed. When I started freelancing I was working during the day and going to school four nights a week, so it was limited to weekends and lunch hours (yup!). Then I worked for a few years in the corporate world, so it was at night after I'd get home, and on weekends. Then I had babies and I wrote around their nap schedules and then after my husband got home and took over parenting duties. Now all of my kids are in school fulltime so I can write all day while they are at school and anything I have left to do for the day that's important gets done after they go to bed at night. I'm trying hard to not have writing interfere with their time once they get home from school until bed, but not checking email during that time has been difficult to do. I do write on weekends depending on what I have due.
You are a single Mom, how do you juggle your parenting duties and hit deadlines?I'll let you know when I figure it out.LOL.The hardest part about being a single mom and juggling all of these deadlines is when there are unexpected snow days or sick days. For example, my 14 year old daughter is home today with the flu, so I go from checking an email to checking on her to making a call to checking on her and I really have to stay focused to accomplish things. As my kids have grown, they've actually learned that I need to do my job and even on snow days or sick days they keep themselves busy and I take breaks and do stuff with them. If I know a day off from school is coming up, I'll try to work harder so that I can take that day off too, but it doesn't always work that way. Summer vacation is very hard though because now I have to chauffer them from event to event and meet my deadlines at the same time, but they have to learn this is my job. My oldest daughter, the one home with the flu, is also an assistant in my job now. She's a great researcher and knows HTML coding so she helps me with my blog and does a lot of typing for me. My other two are now asking what their jobs are, so if you include them sometimes it makes it easier. Even little ones can help by making piles of things or giving them 'mock' jobs like writing stories or titles that looks like they are helping.
What is one writing quirk you have that no one knows about you?
Well, I play online billiards and bowling at least several times a day to give me a mental break from what I'm doing. I love listening to my iTunes music and especially to Taylor Hicks' CDs almost every day while I'm writing. I don't know if any of that is too exciting or quirky.
What's next and where can people find your book?
I am now contracted for a book on Rock and Politics that will come out in January with Omnibus Press. My one goal that has been elusive to me is writing/selling a screenplay - that's why I started writing to begin with and I really am working hard this year to find time to do that. People can order my book off of Amazon or from Barnes and Noble or Borders. Feel free to check out the website too at


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