On Tooting My Town’s Horn (Or…On Writing What You Know)

There are lots of opinions about the adage “Write what you know.” Some think you should. Some think you shouldn’t. Some think it depends on what you mean by “what you know.” Personally, if you’re wondering, I think you should write what you know, otherwise you are just contributing to the confusion in the world, and that is a very, VERY bad thing for a writer to do. BUT, part of the fun of being a writer is learning about new things and then writing about them. Which is basically writing what you know even if the thing you now know you didn’t know yesterday.

All of that is to say (and here’s where this post comes around) I love to write about my town, Austin, Texas. There are cool people worth meeting, awesome places worth finding out about and things worth experiencing–and then shouting about. I’ve gotten to be Austin’s cheerleader in a number of different ways the past few years…

In just a week or so, Expedition Austin: A Kid’s Guide to the Weirdest Town in Texas will be hitting the shelves, literally and virtually. While I stopped tallying the number of hours I spent researching the kid centric part of my town long ago, I can safely say I wrote about what I know, and loved every minute of it.

(Another thing I know is that I love the first silly paragraph of this post.)

The Thing About Drawing Boards

ExpeditionAustin_HOPE Gallery


I’ve written before about the importance of flexibility in a writer’s life, and was recently reminded of that truth. My colleague, Virginia, and I are just about ready to put our Austin guide for kids out into the world, but learned that one of the places we highlighted in the book is closing soon. The HOPE gallery is awesome, and thankfully will reopen somewhere, but the 4-1-1 isn’t known yet. As a result, we’re going back to the old drawing board for a new location to highlight. It’s an unexpected delay, but we know the book will be better and more accurate if we make the change, so we’re rolling with it!

If you are able to get to the great graffiti park before it moves to its new digs, here’s a little piece of Expedition Austin to take with you. While our book is “officially” for kids, we say there’s no shame in letting childhood last a few extra decades. We’d love feedback if you do use this page–and we promise to take it to the drawing board.

Our New Austin Guide is On Tweak

Look how cute our new book is going to be! (I can’t help but share, even though the words are still rough.)

Austin_Barton Springs






Last year, my colleague, Virginia, and I published a pretty, witty little book about traveling to Paris with children. It’s super cute, and super niche.

This year, we’re working on another guide, but decided to tweak our original idea a bit. While the Paris book was targeted to parents, this one is being written about Austin for kids. It will look and feel much like Paris When It Giggles, but the text is written for young travelers rather than their parents. Like PWIG, the new book will have gorgeous illustrations of kids doing cool things around town, but it will include a much wider set of children, have fun facts about Austin sites and small missions for kids to complete, and provide tips they can share with the adults responsible for carting them around.

We’re racing along, hoping to finish the book by May. It’s another labor of love to be sure, but we think the tweaks we’re making will give it broader appeal. There will be around 30 vignettes like the rough draft of Barton Springs above. So. Much. Tweak!