Sunday, 30 June 2013

Portfolios for Journalists

I have spent the past few hours creating several portfolios, showcasing my articles and other works. I tried out different providers, and naturally, there are good and less ideal solutions. Here is a little overview over my three favourite ones (all of them free to use):

1. Contently. In my opinion, this is the best and most intuitive portfolio creator. You simply enter publications and links of your clippings, and the website turns them into beautiful tiles, photos included. It also calculates different statistics, e.h. how many words you have published in total (77k in my case), how many followers you have on social networks, etc. Contently is quick, simple, but very effective. Thanks to Juanita for recommending this service.

2. Pressfolios. Similar to Contently, but a little less easy to use. There is a limited number of clippings you can showcase on your individual site. I like that you can create different categories for your articles. Registration is by reservation or invitation only (if you want me to invite you, leave a comment), but I was given access within a few hours.

3. Torial. And finally, there is also one German portfolio creator. It's possible to enter all kinds of different media kinds, including books, videos and radio broadcasts. You can opt to keep your portfolio invisible until it is finished. Torial is still in Beta mode, they plan to add features that will cost something, but so far everything is for free.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Camp NaNoWriMo - Writing a novel in a month

In July, I'm going on a journey - a virtual one, but a journey nonetheless. I will be camping for a whole month, with other online users from all over the world, and will be writing a novel in the process. This amazing event is called Camp NaNoWriMo (= National Novel Writing Month, it's usually in November. I took part in it last year, and will now do the more relaxed version in July).

"An idyllic writers retreat, smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life"

The aim: Writing something - a novel, a short story, a play - within 31 days. The length can be decided by the participant; my goal is (quite optimistically) at 50,000 words. To make the whole thing even more interesting, there will be virtual cabins, made up of eight writers each, who can support and motivate each other throughout the writing process. I am sharing my tent with three other German writers, and we are still looking for other campers (contact me if you want to join).

As you will have noticed, there is a lovely green badge at the top of this blog's right column, which marks me as a participant of Camp NaNoWriMo. You can get one of them too, should you decide to take part in this experiment (click here).

I am also fundraising for Camp NaNoWriMo - while the participation in the camp is free, the parent  non-profit organisation of NaNoWriMo, the Office of Letters and Light is trying to raise $ 50,000 (37.727 €), which will be spent on helping young people all over the world to tell their own unvoiced stories. The Office of Letters and Light organizes events where kids and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to reach their creative potential.

I have started a fundraising site, and would like to ask you to donate anything, even if it is just one dollar/euro/pound. To encourage donations, I will offer exclusive previews and excerpts of my book while it is being written. So please, donate, and be happy :)
Thank you very much in advance - and stay posted for news concerning my novel writing progress!

Once upon a time, there was a tree...

Dear readers,

I've done strange things on this blog, like writing an ode to traffic lights. And, brace yourselves, here comes another love letter - this time, addressed to the most essential servant of all writers and journalists: the tree.
Bäume sind Gedichte, die die Erde in den Himmel schreibt. Wir fällen sie nieder und verwandeln sie in Papier, um unsere Leere zu dokumentieren.

Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky. We fell them down and turn them into paper, that we may record our emptiness.
(Khalil Gibran, Lebanese-American writer and poet)

According to the environmental office in Munich, Germany, every fifth tree that is felled is used to make paper. Twenty percent of those trees are taken from rain forests.
Every year, each person on this earth uses an average of 52 kg of paper. In Germany, this number is five times as much, at about 250 kg.
The amount of paper used has grown continuously over the last centuries, as has the tropical deforestation.

source: Greenpeace Aachen
So now it's time to do something against this development. This is why I'm taking part in the campaign "One blog, one tree". It's very simple: I write a blog entry about trees, and the software company ITSTH in cooparation with I plant a tree will plant a beech tree for me.

Mein Blog hat eine Buche gepflanzt.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

A day made up of panoramas (Gorge Trail Day 5)

The fifth day of my gorge trail tour was sunny and warm again, a welcome surprise after the never-ending rain of the day before.
This was my favourite day, mainly because of the magnificent views that I enjoyed for most of the walk. I could even see the snow-covered alps in the distance (the Swiss border was just 25 km away), as well as the black forest's highest peak, the Feldberg. Around midday, the weather was so good that I actually got sunburned - something I put up with in exchange for the sun's warmth and the pictures I shot.

Info Day 5
Length: 20 km
TownsSt.Blasien, Todtmoos
Accommodation: Haus Wießler, Todtmoos-Weg (20 €)

The dome church of St.Blasien.

A beautiful trail through the black forest, but quite steep at times.

One last parting glance back over St.Blasien.

The tower on the peak of the Lehenkopf (1.039m). From here, there are magnificent views over the black forest and the Swiss Alps.

In the distance, you can clearly see the Swiss Alps.
View over the black forest.

A typical dwelling in the black forest area.

The peak (with some small snow blotches) of the Feldberg, not just the highest peak of the black forest, but also of all highlands in Germany (not counting the Alps).

The beautiful Klosterweiher (monastery lake).

An abandoned mining drift, which is now open to the public.

Unfortunately, the lights weren't working inside, so I could not see the rare lichen that supposedly grow in this drift.

Again, a lovely view.

From time to time, I had to cross meadows and pastures. This little calf was quite curious :)

A summit cross on one of the highest points of today's walk. Again, I could see the Alps from here.
The source of the Wehra, a river that will later flow into the Rhine.
The mystical black forest. 

The Wehra is becoming larger.

A "historical beer cellar" near Todtmoos.
A panorama picture of the Swiss Alps, as seen from a viewpoint along the way. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Rain is always a good excuse (Gorge Trail Day 4)

The fourth day of the gorge trail started with rain. Lots of it. The hills around the farm in Aha where I had spent the night where hidden within mist and clouds. It didn't look like a day for walking.
Breakfast was served within the main communal room of the farm, with a big green tiled stove (I had dried my clothes on it the night before). The farmer's wife and her mother-in-law brought in a giant breakfast, with fresh bread and rolls, home-made jam, scrambled eggs, cake and (of course) a big pot of tea. Far too much for one person. I had written a few pages of my diary when a young women entered the room, also travelling on her own. I invited her to my table, and we got talking. She planned to go to a nearby swimming pool and mineral spring, and I spontaneously decided to join her.

The "Radon Revital Bad" was in the village of Menzenschwand, and featured a heated outdoor pool, an indoor pool, two whirlpools, a few different saunas and an outdoor barefoot path (which we ran across in the pouring rain). We spent a few hours there, a great alternative to walking in the rain.

Afterwards, the young woman drove me to the official end of today's leg of the Schluchtensteig (gorge trail), the town of St.Blasien. Even though there are just about 4000 people living here, the town boasts a giant cathedral with the largest church dome (with a diameter of 36 metres) north of the Alps. The entire interior is kept in white, which gives it an airy, light feel to it. It was quite impressive, as you can see from the pictures below.

After a quick shopping tour (for such a small town, there are quite a lot of shops) I took my backpack to my accommodation for the night (Haus Schnurr). The next day, the weather was fine again, and so I continued the gorge trail on the actual path again.

Info Day 4
Length: due to rain: 0 km (otherwise 20 km)
Towns: Aha, Menzenschwand, St.Blasien
AccommodationHaus Schnurr, St.Blasien (22 €)

The beautiful cathedral in the small town of St.Blasien.

Inside, the ceiling.

View of the main altar.

A small chapel inside a side wing of the cathedral.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

A wet day (Gorge Trail 3)

Day number three of my Gorge Trail trip through the black forest began with the murmuring and babbling of the little stream below my window. It already looked pretty cloudy outside, and by the time I had finished breakfast and was ready to go, it started to rain. Still, it was a nice walk, again passing through canyons for some time, and later following a watermill-path.
After walking through the Wutachschlucht (Wutach = name of a river, Schlucht = gorge) yesterday, today I passed through it's little sister, the Haslachschlucht.

I didn't walk the entire third leg of the gorge trail because of the rainy and cold weather, instead, after 13 kilometres I took a bus from the town of Lenzkirch to Schluchsee, a small spa town at the banks of a lake of the same name. After taking some time to look around the shops, I walked to the lakeside and from there took a boat to Aha. After walking another half hour through the rain, I arrived at the farm where I spent the night (a lovely place to be, with the biggest breakfast you can imagine - I will definitely stay there again, next time for longer than just one night (it's only 17€/night if you stay for 3+ days).

Info Day 3
Length: 13 km (+ 2 km to accommodation)
Towns: Lenzkirch, Schluchsee, Aha
Accommodation: Kapellenhof, Schluchsee-Aha (20€)

A broad track leads into the black forest

Translation: "Some believe that the hiker is a sinner, because he doesn't often go to church. But a silent glance towards heaven is better than a false prayer."

The path is getting smaller and wilder.

"Räuberschlössle", the "outlaws' castle" - this used to be a hideout for thieves. Now, only some low stone walls are left.

Higher and higher I go, the stream deep below.
A large wooden bridge I took refuge under from the rain.

This fir tree, the "Stallegger Tanne", is 52 metres high and about 280 years old.

After walking on broad tracks for some time, the paths are becoming more interesting and more exposed. 
The "Rechenfelsen", an ancient rock formation. It's amazing to see the force of water in this way.

Suddenly, a weird sign: "No walking path", next to the actual path (on the right of the tree). I ignored the sign.

The former train station Lenzkirch-Kappel. Now there's a nice bike trail where once rail tracks lay.

Between those rocks used to be an old watermill. From now on I'm following the marked "Mill-path" towards the town of Lenzkirch.

The outskirts of Lenzkirch. After this point, it began to rain again, so not many pictures from the actual town.
For my fellow doctor who fans: ATMOS still exists - in Lenzkirch :)

After taking the bus to Schluchsee : the lake.

From inside the boat.

Despite the rain, quite a few sail boats were out on the water.

My water taxi - I was the only passenger under 70 or so (there was a very large pensioner group from the Netherlands on board).

One last glance back towards the lake - from here it's another mile or so to this night's accommodation.