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The most-Boston lede ever

Conducting background research (“Googling” to the layperson) for my article on my Boston trip for MapQuest, I came across “Lifers seek new trial in Charlestown case” by John R. Ellement in the “Boston Globe.” Check out this lede:

A father and son serving life in prison for the 99 Restaurant massacre in 1995 are demanding a new trial, alleging that police undercut their self-defense claims by withholding information showing that some of the victims were alleged Mafia members, not simply ordinary North End residents lunching in Charlestown.

Short of references to sports and Dunkin’ Donuts, it seems to hit on every major theme of life in Boston:

  • family
  • the Mafia
  • Mafia murders
  • the 99 Restaurant
  • allegations of police misconduct
  • “ordinary North End residents”
  • “lunching in Charlestown”

About yesterday’s writing live stream

Thanks to everyone who watched me start writing my article yesterday for MapQuest about my recent visit to Boston. Overall, I found the experience positive. As for viewers, well, you were promised a video live stream of a guy writing an article and real-time access to the Google document. So hopefully your expectations were low but exceeded.

A few thoughts:

  • At first, having an audience influenced my writing, making me feel like I needed to have a readable narrative upfront. As time passed, peer pressure became less of an issue.
  • I usually take more breaks than I did today. And spend more time on social media, checking RSS feeds, etc. So thanks for keeping me on track.
  • I felt exhausted afterwards, but that might have been because I skipped my morning snack so as to spare viewers the sight of me eating oatmeal.
  • I’m probably going to do it again (call it Zach Write Live, or something).

Did you watch? If so, please let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks!

Get an exclusive inside look at what writers never (rarely?) let you see

“The New York Times” recently launched Times Insider, which “takes readers behind the scenes of the New York Times newsroom to show how its journalists around the globe work and how decisions are made.”

Seeing how the “Times” is this blog’s chief competitor, I’m going to try to one up it.

Today, I’m working on the first draft of an article about my recent visit to Boston (I was born there and grew up 15 miles north of the city, but haven’t had much opportunity to explore the city since). It’s part of MapQuest’s 99 Summer Travel Quests series. While traveling around Boston, I shared the experience in real-time via Tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook updates. And now I’m letting anyone watch me write the article. Seriously:

Those links will be live from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT today. A couple caveats:

  • If I’m not there, assume I’m in the restroom and/or getting a snack, and will be back shortly.
  • You might see big blocks of text pasted into the document. I’m not cheating. Those are notes and I’m copying them from iA Writer, the app I typically use for writing an article.

What we’ve been doing at MapQuest

MapQuestIt’s been a bit since I posted about what we’re working on at MapQuest. Here’s a quick rundown:

Launched editorial content on a spiffy new template

Editorial content (“articles” to the lay person) debuted on MapQuest in June. The first big template blowout we did was for “Prince’s ‘Purple Rain': A 30th Anniversary Tour of Minneapolis to Die 4.”

Debuted editorial content in MapQuest’s apps

Editorial travel content in a navigation app, right where people need it most. Version 4.4 of the iPhone app, released in early July, includes gameday guides to all 30 MLB ballparks, in which local experts share their insights about their home field. (You can view the gameday guides on the World Wide Web too.)

Published a “99 Summer Quests” series

For summer 2014, MapQuest is running a “99 Summer Quests” series, with 99 articles highlighting “memorable, meaningful, just-gotta-do-it experiences for every day of summer vacation.”

Started a celebrity-traveler interview series

We’ve been talking to celebs like José Andrés and Lois Lowry about how travel impacts their work, as well as suggestions for travelers to the celebs’ hometowns and their tips for hitting the road.

Debuted pop culture tours

Remembered the aforelinkedto Prince article? Of course you do! Several more posts that blend travel with pop culture are forthcoming.

Engaged in social media

You can’t publish articles without sharing them with an engaged audience these days. To that extent, we’ve been focusing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +. And we just packaged our content in five Flipboard magazines too.

Published lots and lots of articles

While we’ve built up a deep network of contributors, I’ve managed to get myself some fun writing assignments:

Photo: Courtesy MapQuest

Aol sells Gadling to Skift

Gadling logo

Based on the emails I receive and this website’s search engine traffic, some visitors here are interested in the travel blog Gadling. (I edited it and contributed to it for a spell after joining Aol and MapQuest in October.)

Today, Aol announced it sold Gadling to Skift. Appropriately, you can get the details on Skift. Or Gadling.

And if you were emailing me via a Gadling account, best to use zach.everson@mapquest.com now. Thanks!

Flashback: That time I reviewed a stay at my parents’ house

My parents' house

A few years ago, I reviewed the accommodations at my parents’ house for the now-defunct UpTake. (Executive summary: I enjoyed my stay, although the barware could have been better.) As I’m staying with my folks again next week, bookending my visit to Boston to research an article for MapQuest, I figured it was time to resurface my review (because evergreen content):

UpTake: “An objective review of the accommodations at my parents’ house”

In which I explain in two sentences how to balance freelancing and family

p_2048_1536_6A002CA9-CED7-4EFE-8A15-7B64331655DE.jpeg

Earlier this week, The Write Life quoted me about how to balance being a freelancer and a parent:

The Write Life: “Freelancing with a Family: How to Balance Your Work and Your Kids”

Too lazy to click through? Happens to the best of us. Here’s the blurb:

Zach Everson, a father of two-under-four who writes for AOL Travel and Gadling, suggests “blocking off family time like any other project. If a client asks for that time, the answer is always no. It’s non-negotiable.”

(I had almost four years of experience juggling kids and freelancing before joining MapQuest and Aol Travel full-time last fall.)

‘Inspirato’ magazine just published my final article as a freelancer. That it was about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail will not surprise you. But it will restore your faith in humanity. Or at least good Kentucky bourbon.

Inspirato, Spring 2014

Inspirato magazine’s spring 2014 issue included my final article as a freelancer. Titled, “Kentucky Gold,” fittingly it’s a feature on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Obligatory joke about how fun researching an article on bourbon is goes here ______________________ . Actually, it’s not a joke: it’s damn true.

Anyway, read the article on Inspirato’s website or enjoy the magazine’s hardcopy layout in this .pdf. Or, right now for a limited time, the spring 2014 issue is available for free on Inspirato’s website. The choice is yours.

I also contributed sidebars on Kentucky’s favorite bourbons, bourbon 101, the best pours from the Bluegrass State, and where to enjoy a drink or two in Louisville.

Inspirato with American Express is a private, members-only destination club. Its 180-page glossy magazine is published three times a year. It’s distributed to the club’s members, sold on newsstands, and available for iPads and Android tablets.

And thanks to Chea Beckley and Stephanie Greene at 21c Museum Hotel and Proof on Main for their assistance.

Photo: Courtesy Inspirato