Monday, March 23, 2015

Announcing the Third Annual I Must Be Off! Travel Essay Contest!

It's that time of year again: time to type up those travel articles, travel anecdotes and travel reflections. If it's about travel, we want to read it. We want to read about that place that changed you.We want to read about the experiences you can't wait to share with other travelers. Whether your work is humorous, informative, quirky or profound--we want to read it.

Previous Winners and Placers:

"Oh, Calcutta" by Paola Fornari
"The Scarlet Mile" by Gillian Brown
"Bodrum, Turkey's San Tropez" by Jack Scott
"The Children of Chitwan, Nepal" by Hannah Thompson-Yates
"God's Own Country" by Saahil Acharya

Travel Writer Catherine Sweeney
The 2015 Judge -- Catherine Sweeney of Traveling with Sweeney

Catherine’s passion for travel goes back to her childhood in the Chicago area when her family crisscrossed North America on extensive road trips. Today, as a boomer woman traveler she approaches new destinations as well as familiar favorites with eager anticipation and youthful enthusiasm. On the Traveling with Sweeney website, Catherine and her husband/frequent travel companion (affectionately known on their blog as Mr. TWS) aim to inform, entertain, and inspire seasoned travelers as well as those considering their first travel steps. Through their compelling photos and stories, they highlight the best of destinations, food, wine, history, culture, and the arts with a particular focus on North America and Europe. Catherine is also founder and editor of Boomer Women Travelers, a collaborative site for women of the baby boomer generation to share their travel experiences.

Submission Guidelines:
  • Maximum 1200 words
  • Edited to the best of your ability for spelling, grammar and punctuation
  • Up to three photos may be submitted with your entry. Photos not necessary to win.
  • Previously unpublished work only! Blog posts are considered published.
  • No entry fee. Yes, that's right. You have nothing to lose.
  • Open to anyone worldwide, but you need a PayPal account
  • Entries must be in English
  • One entry per person
  • Deadline for submissions: July 15, 2015 (Now closed to submissions!)
  • Send entries with a 50-word third-person bio to christopher.imustbeoff@gmail.com with the heading TRAVEL ESSAY CONTEST. Entries will be read blind by this year's judge, travel writer Catherine Sweeney It is not necessary to delete identifying information from your entry. If your name appears anywhere, it will be removed before it's forwarded to the judge.
  • Word doc, docx and rtf files only please. 
  • Finalists announced in August 2015. Winners announced in September 2015.

The Prizes: 
  • The Top essays will be published at I Must Be Off! (Authors retain copyright.)
  • Second place prize: $50
  • First place prize: $200
  • Readers' Choice Award ($50) based on unique hits and comments tallied on September 30.

Good luck and happy writing!

I must be off,
Christopher

_________________________________________

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Indiana Review, Night Train, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly: the Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, [PANK] blog, Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, Bootsnall Travel, Chicken Soup for the Soul and lots of other good places. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.    

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

RECENT AND FORTHCOMING WORK!!!!

  • "Box of Nazi" at Contrary fall 2014 / winter 2015

  • "Out and Away" in Quiddity spring 2015 (print and audio)

  • "Sisters" at The Miscreant

  • A Kind of Dream by Kelly Cherry--Reviewed by Christopher Allen at Blue Five Notebook Series (Blue Fifth Review)
  • "Dothead" at Spelk Fiction (March 1, 2015) 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

James Taylor Tonight in Munich

I'm going to see James Taylor tonight in Munich. James is one of those singer/songwriters who have accompanied me through life. I've actually had a conversation with him:

"More water, sir?"

"Yes, please."

It was a wonderful conversation, full of pathos, mutual understanding and the clear expression of needs--which is so important in a relationship. I was there for him when he needed me. You might even say he had a friend.

James is also inextricably bound to a road trip I took with two very close friends in 1983 or '84. We'd planned to drive from Nashville to Clearwater, Florida and stay a week. It was probably spring break. We were in my Toyota Starlet, all three sitting sort of in the front because no one wanted to sit in the back. It was our commonly held opinion that the Road Trip was all about community and non-stop singing. The backseat didn't really have a place in this paradigm. That's how the stick shift became front seat number three.

Our one-week trip to Clearwater was not meant to happen though. A couple of days before we left, I got a singing job that required me to show up for rehearsals three days later. We decided to drive to Clearwater anyway, lie on the beach for one day and travel back to Nashville the next. Eighteen hours there, eighteen back.

And we played James Taylor's Greatest Hits for all 36 hours. Or at least I imagine that we did so. I'm sure there were interludes from other artists, but James was the headliner. "Fire and Rain," "Shower the People," "Carolina in My Mind"--we sang them all, over and over and over in three-part harmony. It is well known among my singing friends that I have to sing the highest part. 

And then one of my friends fell down on a grease spot. At a gas station. He wanted to brush his teeth, so he'd loaded his brush and was on his way to the gas station restroom. As he passed in front of the car, he slipped and fell. And this is how the following refrain became history:

When you fall down on a grease spot
And you've got toothpaste in your hair
And nothing, oh nothing is going right

Close your eyes and think of us
And soon we will be there
To laugh, laugh-haugh-haugh
In your face

You get the idea. It was funny then, and we still chuckle about it now though our friend never quite found it as funny as we did. Nevertheless, it is a song in my life's soundtrack. One of the Dixie Chicks once said that James Taylor was basically the soundtrack to her life. Well put.

I love James Taylor . . . and I also love The Dixie Chicks. The Chicks have so much to say about the importance of James Taylor. I couldn't agree more, and there's no way I could say it better.



I must be off (to see if James remembers me from the restaurant 23 years ago)--
But just one more thing. Shower the people you love with love,
Christopher

_____________________________________________

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Indiana Review, Night Train, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly: the Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, [PANK] blog, Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, Bootsnall Travel, Chicken Soup for the Soul and lots of other good places. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.