Sharon Lina Pearce

Published Articles


Travel: "Language Study in Spain ", Transitions Abroad magazine, 2005. 
Travel: " Finding a Real Job in Spain ", Transitions Abroad magazine, 2005. 
Travel: " Titulcia: Ruta de los Cortados ", La Voz del Tajuña magazine, 2004. 
Travel: " Titulcia: Ruta de los Cortados ", La Torre magazine, 2004. 
Travel: "Hike the Grand Canyon", Women Today magazine, 1996. 
Travel: " How to Plan an Active Vacation ", Women Today magazine, 1996

Internet: Regular contributor to Cyberscience column, InMadrid magazine, 1999-2000. " Say It Without Flowers "; " Let Your Fingers Do the Spending ", " Click Art "

Telecom: Co-author of the "La experiencia de e-Learning" chapter, Formación On-line , 2002. 
Telecom: Contributing Author Plataformas: cómo evolucionar, e-Learning: Las mejores prácticas en España , book chapter, editorial Aedipe, 2001 
Telecom:"Alcatel Mobile Switching in US", German-American Trade magazine, 1996.

Fiction: "Foto 1 - Foto en prosa";, Una imagen en Mil Palabras; ARS Creatio, Torrevieja, Spain; 2007.


WfE Articles

WfE - The Church Counts the Money
01 July 2006

There is a certain pleasure in finding a well-preserved, historic object in the context in which it was used.  Art lovers can appreciate how rare it is to find a painting hanging in the same spot that it was orignally hung almost 500 years later with the same natural lighting, the same church and over the same tomb.

This story begins almost 700 years ago when the Count of the town of Orgaz, a fuedal populace just south of Toledo in Spain, died leaving lands and money to the church of Saint Thomas in the city of Toledo.  He also promised this church pledges ad infinitum from his vassals and their descendants.  As the years passed, the peoples of Orgaz felt this was no longer just and refused to continue the pledged tithing to the church as their ancestor 's lord had ordered.  In the mid-1500's, the priest of the church of Saint Tomas needed money for the maintenance of the structure and decided to extract monies from the people of Orgaz by any means necessary.  He brought the case before the courts and won but this legal manouevre did not bear the expected fruits...the people of Orgaz still did not pay.  So, the priest opted for a second, more powerful manouevre; guilt.

He commissioned a painting of the burial of the good count some two hundred years prior and embellished the circumstances surrounding his death.   He asked the painter to depict the Count as one who had earned his place in heaven and, upon his death, was buried not by human hands but by those of Saint Thomas and Saint Augustine come down from heaven to bury this pious man.  The painting was hung over the tomb of the the Count of Orgaz in a chapel of the church.  The weight of the accusation was too great for many people of Orgaz and the result was that priest extracted more money from psychological pressure than from legal pressure.

And that painting still encourages people to give money to the church.  The artist was none other than El Greco (The Greek) a famous, stylized painting was appreciated in the 1500's and highly valued to this day.  Thousands of tourists a day pay almost 2 euros each to see El Greco's most famous painting The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. 
Parroquia de Santo Tomé 
Toledo, Spain

WfE - Out of Europe and Into Africa
01 May 2006

I have not traveled much outside of the United States and Europe but recently I had an opportunity to go to Senegal.   This trip was a great change from all the travel I have done.  After having lived in Europe for some ten years, no one notices me or even pegs the title "American" to me as I move from country to country.  I act like a European.  I am so accustomed to this that I have gotten out of the habit of observing customs as I feel that I already know them.  I certainly did not know, nor expect, the customs in Africa and their custom of surrounding us certainly caught me off guard.  It only took them seconds after we got out of the car for the adults to rush to sell us peanuts, dolls, t-shirts and bananas or for the children ask us for candy.  All the predefined concepts of how people act and what I should expect when traveling flew out the window.

This custom, while harmless, makes freedom of movement difficult. The crowd does not disperse...ever.  If one person desists because you just won't buy the bananas, another who is selling dolls takes her place.  They touch your arm, they touch your hand and it made me feel uncomfortable.  However, the children's motives were pure curiosity and I lament not knowing more French to be able to interact more with them.  I did have one opportunity to play with the children at a small tourist resort in the Delta just north of Gambia. They played running games, especially tag, with my daughter.  They wanted to know our names, what languages we spoke and what our hair felt like.  But unlike their elders, they waited until they knew us a bit before touching. 

This short encounter formed the basis of the information that I had about their social habits.   Not much to go on but essential during a later visit to a local village.  The children surrounded us just as soon as we hopped off the horse-drawn cart.  They followed us through the streets and wanted to pose for photos (for which their parents also wanted a tip).  And just as my daughter was getting nervous due to all the attention, they decided to start to play a game of tag.  Upon seeing the multitudes rush towards her, the little valor that was left to her dissolved.  The crowd was too overwhelming in size and she considered the battle lost but, apparently, not the war.

The crowd of children followed us back to the horse-drawn cart upon which my daughter found her lost courage.  Once aboard, she defended herself by roaring like a lion and smiling triumphantly.  The other children watched closely as she enjoyed her few moments as monarch of the mountain just before we rode away from this very crowded village.

WfE - Big Challenges, Great Benefits 
07 March 2006

Suddenly, your company decides that it needs a representative in their European offices and it has also decided that you are the best person for the job. What the company has not considered is that you have a family. Although the offer is tempting it is a big change for everyone nearest and dearest to you and involves a move, adaptation to a new culture and the challenges of setting up a household in another country. But one advantage of going overseas for an extended stay is that your children have the possibility of being immersed in another language.

A bilingual child also develops a more flexible mind even though they may take a little bit more time to master both languages. This, however, is really a matter of common sense; they have twice as much to learn.

You should dive into learning the language too. As their mentor, you are their first reference as to how someone should act in this new environment. If they take learning the language to heart, they will be conversational in less than a year and will make you look like a beginner language student to boot. The way a child learns allows them to not only pick up the language more quickly but the correct pronunciation as well. The latter is a talent that most of us lose somewhere between 17 and 21 years of age as the flexibility needed to reproduce new sound patterns decreases.

If your child can attend the local school, this will reinforce their language skills and challenge them even more. It is best for the child to have gained a minimum of vocabulary before this step so as to be able to follow the subjects they are studying but if it is not possible, weigh the benefits of learning the language against the child's ability to make up the subjects usually studied in their grade at home. You might even want to contemplate talking to the administrators of your local school before you leave so they can give you a guide to follow during the time that you are overseas. It will take extra study time in the evenings to keep on par with their monolingual peers back home but they will gain another language, another perspective on everything from education to play and confidence in the fact that they can overcome obstacles that, at first glance, seem to be loom very large.

The temporary move overseas is a challenge that the whole family must face as a unit. The potential benefits are great but the amount of effort each individual must make is also great as they are challenged by and must overcome foreign situations on a daily basis.

WfE - A Rainy Pilgrimage
07 January 2006

This week we have seen many images of Muslims in Mecca. This reminds me that much of the Christian world is unaware that there are Christian meccas.  One is Jerusalem and another is Santiago de Compostela.

To get to Santiago a pilgrim follows Saint James Way on foot to earn the Compostela, a type of pardon for your sins, on arrival.  I have walked some 300 of the 757 kilometers (454 miles) of Saint James Way but only a 100 kilometers are required to earn the Compostela.  Now, I want to prepare my daughter to do this pilgrimage with me. 

And you ask, what sins could a young child possibly have that would warrant a pilgrimage?  I could accuse her of coveting toys that are not hers or lying about having finished her fruit juice but these are not sins that should send her falling to the depths of purgatory.  So, perhaps we will not go so much to wash our sins away but rather to spend time outdoors together.

But Saint James Way runs along the northern coast of Spain, a meterologically unstable part of the Iberian peninsula where rain storms develop frequently oftentimes while you are hiking.  Although I don't plan to walk the usual 30 kilometers a day with a child, I do have to plan for us to hike in both good and bad weather.

Test walks have shown that the whole idea of hiking in the rain and jumping in mud puddles is well accepted.  Certain skills must be acquired like scrapping mud off of boots, correctly judging the depth of puddles and keeping the hood up at all times .  Another obstacle is wearing the right amount of clothes underneath the rain gear in order not to get too cold nor to sweat profusely.  The latter takes a bit of trial and error but can be resolved by the second "test walk".  These preparatory measures are also beneficial for establishing if any rain gear needs replacing and judging the bulk and weight of all gear that will be in your backpacks when it is NOT raining.

As our walks get longer and our endurance builds we will set our sites on the north of Spain and our mecca of Santiago of Compostela.

More information about Saint James Way in Spanish and in English .

WfE - Travel in Your Backyard
01 November 2005

Life's little quirks can limit your ability to travel as widely and freely as you would like or need to for your work.  I know this feeling all to well.  Another job, children, illness, etc. can limit one's exploration flexibility.  This situation, like any other one in life, is just a matter of adaptation.  "Just", what a comfortable word.  Too comfortable I'd say.  But to forge forward you have to find markets that want travel information about your own backyard.  Okay, don't be so literal.  Think a little further than that.  Think your city, your county, think your state or province.  Think local.

What is local for you?  Local for me is the southeastern part of the province of Madrid, Spain in a town called Titulcia.  What type of market wants articles about small towns that most people from Madrid have never heard of?  Well, for one, the local weekend escape market.  Another might be foreign publications that are looking for a twist such as "an hour from a city", in this case; Madrid. 

Now, I need to research what I have in my own backyard that is saleable.  Look at history, local monuments, short hikes in parks and great restaurants.  In my case, there is plenty of history.  Titulcia was a pre-roman settlement.  Ptolomy even names it in the 2nd century A.D.  The facts are sketchy but a lot of locals know the lore.  The latter might make a more interesting article than a well researched article about the true roman roots of my town.   But don't think that there are a lot of standing monuments to come and see.   This article would have to be for armchair travelers.  However, there are some things that could be of interest...a cave, reputed to be of templarian origins, a chapel supposedly erected on orders of the Cardinal Cisneros and a work of art from El Greco in the local church.

Near the town there is a lot of farm land.   There are plenty of farm roads here that are considered public property that afford wonderful, short hikes into the countryside.  Here, people can enjoy views, almond tree orchards and fields full of cornstalks and sunflower plants.  And, yes, there are good restaurants to suit any taste...from the rustic Miró restuarant which serves wild rabbit caught that morning by enterprising locals to El Rincón de Luis which serves fine cuts of meat to the upscale market. 

All this in my own backyard!

WfE - Car Camping in Spain 
01 September 2005

I used to be able to travel around Europe renting a reasonable, albeit sometimes "quaint", room and eat where the locals dine. I was able to poke around odd shops in little-known alleys of Austrian cities and sleep for hours on a hot afternoon in Italy. Other times, I would don a backpack in the north of Spain, hike under the rain all day stopping in the afternoon to have a few brews with my fellow hikers.

Now, with a three year old in tow, my travel plans have changed. I have exchanged shops for jungle gyms, a siesta for an afternoon at the baby pool, walks in the rain for walks to the potty and quaintness for a tent on a few square feet of grass. You've guessed it...I have become a car camper!

It sounds more 'chic' if I say that I am car camping in Europe. However, one look at my gray, family style car with the baby mattress poking through the bags of clothes, games and food gives me away...I am no longer a real tourist going to museums, I am no longer a backpacker sloshing through the mud, now I am a Mommy and I only travel in my well-stocked car.

The great thing about car camping in Spain, and most of Europe, is that there are camp sites near all the historically interesting cities. I realize that all is not lost when I still have the option of seeing a history museum (mommy! look at this!), aristocratic palace (piggy back the whole way) or an artisan's shop (why doesn't someone make socially-acceptable child restraint system so they can't TOUCH everything in the store?) at least for a few minutes each day.

But despite this cramp in my traveling lifestyle, car camping is exciting for my daughter. It is an adventure for her and a change in the daily routine. She wants to sleep in a tent, duck watch by the riverside and spend hours doing nothing in particular in a new setting. Playing cards by flash light and peeking through the tent flap at passer's by are favorite night time activities. Undoubtedly, the most attractive part of the experience for her is spending time with me. Why not? Without all the regular interruptions at home there is more time to play together, teach new concepts and just hang out Europe. 

Campsites in Spain: 
Campsites in Europe: (subscribe to free European camping newsletter)

Let's Enter the Blogosphere
01 July 2005

Everyday the Internet invents, morphs and changes. A new payment tool appears and changes the way we get paid (Paypal), traditional advertising morphs and the little guy can afford to market his wares (Google Adwords) or communities spring up and change the way we exchange information (blogging). One of our greatest challenges as travel writers is to keep abreast of the potential of the Internet and use it to our benefit.

So, now we have the Blogosphere to explore and I dare say it may be all the adventure that we need for a while. Blogging is considered revolutionary. Now that the masses can self-publish, it is being compared to the printing press. Virtual communities they are expressing their opinions and companies are harnassing problem solving capacity from the blog community and personalities are being seriously affected by the information distributed in the most popular blogs.

Blogs have started to go mainstream and both blogs and their contents have become newsworthy and powerful. Consider that a blog about Trent Lott, the then Senate Majority Leader, started the controversy over his comment that Strom Thurmond would have made a good president. Thurmond used to preach white supremacy; Lott is no longer Majority Leader. Dan Rather, a news anchor with 30+ years of experience, was tossed about by a blog that questioned the validity of his news sources and blogging was the newest information distribution vehicle during the last US Presidential Elections.

But, how does blogging affect us as writers? For starters, they are a type of web presence. Blogs are easy to set up. Tripod and Bravenet among others have simple blog creation tools that let ANYONE be up and online in minutes. While only a limited percentage of travel writers have their own websites (html-phobia?), travel bloggers can be up, running and self-published in no time. Blog search engines are organizing and categorizing this information making it easy to search for destination journals, discussions on how to write and personal opinions on organized trips. The latter even works as a type of rating system about a company and its product or service. As an example, do a blog search for, a popular travel writing web site, and take a look at the sites it returns. The Andrew Hempstead and Help for Travel Writers blog argues the usefulness of for beginning writers. Others, such as A Writer's Life blog makes reference to discussions on's bulletin board. If owners read these blogs they can begin to understand what some of their readers like about, need from or can't stand about their site allowing them to deliver more of what their users want.

Aside from getting to see how others view the value of your website and their opinion of your service or product, you can also generate traffic from blogs TO your website and you can get free content.

Yes, you heard me, free content. Start a blog related to your website. As people contribute to it they are creating content related to your site and if other blogs discuss your site and link to it, it is a type of free marketing. You also can solicit contributions from your bloggers to resolve a problem, a type of free development.

Take this article/ blog as an example. It is part of my website as the root address begins "". If you give me your opinion on this article via the blog or exchange ideas with all readers about the usefulness of blogs for travel writers, relevant, related content is being created on my website. Since content and key word frequency are part of the ranking formula when the search engines crawl my site, there will be more of both next time it is crawled. But a lot of the content it will crawl will have been created by you.

I could also search the Blogosphere for sites that deal with a subject mentioned on my website; Writing for European publications ezines blogs and travel photography to mention a few. Entering into the discussion I could, just as I did here, link back to my own website creating my own incoming links! Not to mention the bloggers who are talking about your product thus linking to your site. Can't happen to you? Why not, it happen to

Now, let's put our virtual heads together to solve one last problem that will benefit us all. How can blogs and blogging help us generate income? Blog your ideas here and we can triumph the blogosphere together.

 [ Enter the blog ]

Your travel blogs:


Washington Post Travel Blog listing

Create a blog:

Blog Search Engines:

Recommended reading – The Power of Us:

WfE - 
01 May 2005

A few months ago I asked members of a travel writing bulletin board what other jobs they held if they didn't make a full time living from travel writing.  The response was encouraging and gave me even more energy to forge ahead with my personal quest.

People DO make a full-time living from writing, not always travel writing as you will see but from closely related fields.  Their "other jobs", if not in the writing field, are complementary to travel writing.  There is an underlying current of basic business sense in their stories: the use and reuse of their experiences and research in various formats, writing, web, radio, etc.

"Diversification is the key" writes one contributor but it seems to be the theme song for all the members of the bulletin board.  From this diversity you may discover a hereforto unexplored avenue of revenue for yourself.

- motoring writer, parenting writer, radio presenter and father of four
- translations, PR work and copywriting 
- work in film as story editor and writer 
- medical writing and editing 
- substitute French teacher 
- editor at music and entertainment magazine 
- producer and presenter for BBC radio 
- communications manager for health care organization 
- photographer: payment has been incredibly rewarding 
- travel guide books 
- deliver pizza for Dominos 
- DJ for a rock station 
- speechwriter for government official 
- tour and cruise director 
The variety of writing-related jobs should be an inspiration for all of us.  With a little imagination we can survive doing what we want to do.

WfE - 
01 March 2005

Writing in a language other than your own can be a challenge not only from the point of redaction but also from the point of finding your niche.  Who wants a writer with an accent?

In order to establish yourself in a foreign market you must analyze your own experience.  What fresh points of view can you provide as an immigrant or speaker of a second language?  How have you adapted living short or long term in another culture?

Make a list of things that you love about your adopted country.  Why do you love them?  If it is great Bavarian beer in Germany that you are crazy about try pitching an article to a northern German travel magazine. Include fresh descriptions of the best beers and the most picturesque places to drink them in the south.  As a newcomer to the culture you have sought out these beers and drinking establishments and your description of the same will not be equalled by any local writer because they view great Bavarian beer as a normal part of everyday life.

Make another list of things that you hate about the city you live in.  Why do you hate them?  If it is the lack of imported products that makes your hair stand on end query articles about purchasing hard-to-find products on the Internet.  Search for established magazines that have an on-line version of their publication and then angle the article to products that might have a wide acceptance, e.g. Tex-mex cuisine, Spanish wine or car parts.

After publishing several pieces in that language you will have built up a base to move on to better paying markets in the same language.  Several clips of those articles on your website will give new editors a chance to see what you can say in spite of your accent.

WfE - 
25 July 2004

Content is King or so the saying goes.  I beg to differ.  It appears that the only true monarch in the world of the web is the ability to promote your travel web site. With all the millions of sites out there, how do I get your attention? How can you find this page if you want information and resources about travel writing in Europe? 

It's a bit like the "build it and they will come" syndrome.  But in this case, the cornstalks are too high for anyone to find the baseball diamond.  Searching for a site in today's Internet environment requires that you get an MBA in Internet investigation before you even start to search.  

Few of you are so inclined (and neither am I, frankly) so it is a webmaster's job to make sure that his/her site is easy for the average person to find.  Webmaster is a word that leads you to believe that the person is experienced in technical matters.  But, in today's Internet world, there are so many web creation tools available that anyone with a connection to the web can create one in a matter of seconds.

What is not easy is the promotion of said site.  Ten years ago I got together with a friend and watched him submit his web site to the Yahoo search engine.  It was easy to find his site just by typing common search terms like "travel" and "Raleigh".  Nowadays, the search term "travel" in Yahoo returns 213,000,000 hits.  Tough competition out there.  

So how does the average, non-technically-oriented webmaster get people to visit his/her website?  The answer is similiar to getting an MBA in website promotion.  You must research search terms on the Internet ( , read some of the search engine guidelines ( ) then tailor your page content, keywords and header to be accepted by the search engines.  Further tweaking of these items will improve your ranking for certain search words.  Even then, your site is not readily found and it is time to turn to link partners, web rings and paid promotion of your site through advertisements and pay per click schemes. 

Promotion, first; content, second.  I'll only cut down the cornstalks where the baseball diamond will be built.  Then, I'll rent out the billboard on Route 66.  I won't paint the lines on the field nor put in the backstop until the first curious baseball fans stop by my farm.

WfE - Get Published or Get Paid? 
01 June 2004

Why are you a travel writer?  Do you want to travel, to be published or to be paid?  Various are the reasons that people want to write travel pieces and many are the travel writers that want to be paid a fair price for their effort.

But aspiring writers often need a place to begin, a way to build up their resume and their experience in the freelance writing field.  Learning to pitch ideas and deal with editor's deadlines are crucial steps in the development of a professional travel writer.  

With the proliferation of travel information on the web, a whole crop of travel web-zines have emerged.  They pay poorly; many just $25 for a feature article; but their editors are more willing to work with less experienced or young writers and publish their work in their publications.  So, if you want to get started and need to get published?  Start here:

Travel eZines , ,

WfE - Ready, Set...I Do 
10 May 2004

The royal family of Spain is getting ready for a wedding and so is Madrid.  In the heart of downtown Madrid corners are being cleaned, scaffolding is coming down,  flowers are being planted and the security forces are scouring the city.  The stores are selling wedding souvenirs and sport a small posters of the royal couple in the windows of their establishments.  The tourists are eagerly buying ashtrays, kitchen magnets and Andalucian fans with pictures of Leticia and Felipe.  

Now, I am ready too.  I have a memento of the occasion that I got at the corner tourist store.  I put my coins in a machine to make an official squashed coin with the likeness of the soon-to-be-weds on it.  I have my lawn chair at the front door and my sandwiches packed for the picnic to enjoy with a million other wedding goers.

Ms. Leticia has her dress and flowers.  Mr. Felipe has his suit ironed.  Now, if they'll just tell us the route of the wedding party so I know where to put my lawn chair! 
Everything about the Royal Wedding (Spanish)

WfE - Hard-to-find History
15 April 2004

Madrid is not the classical, romantic city that we demand of a European capital.  The center is not a labrynth of winding street lined with centuries-old buildings nor are there large monuments that leave a visible record of the passage of time.  So it is not to be expected that Madrid was founding in the late tenth century by the invading Moors whobuilt a fortification and, later a mosque, where the Royal Palace stands today.  The mosque has been lost to time but parts of the formidable fortress wall survived and are visible today past the south side of the Cathedral.     

The town of "Mayrit", as the founders called it, slowly evolved but remained a small urbe until Felipe the Second decided to move the Court of Madrid here from Toledo in 1561. With the court in session, the counts and dukes came to Madrid to build their palecetes; plain and severe on the outside as they suspected that fickle royalty would move the court to another city.   

From this time period on, a number of buildings and other structures have survived.  But you have to go looking for them.

Saint Clara's Convent ( Convento de Santa Clara , 1460) 
St. Francis the Greater's Basilica ( La Basilica de San Francisco el Grande 
La Plaza Mayor 
San Miguel's Market ( El Mercado de San Miguel 
La Plaza de la Villa, Casa de Cisneros 
Street " Calle de los Cuchillero s" 
The Royal Palace ( El Palacio Real 
The Cathedral ( La Almudena 

WfE - Chatty Kathy
07 Mar 2004

Tucked away in the mountains of Ávila a dying town is brought back to life.  Walls are rebuilt, rooves are restored and now Spaniards actually pay to stay here.   But you, as a native English speaker, don't have to have to chat.

English Town is a chance to visit Spain and get to know real Spaniards in a restored, quaint town setting.  There are meals, excursions, hiking and beautiful countryside.  But to enjoy this, you must really be a Chatty Kathy and bring a good pair of walking shoes.

WfE - Childhood Dreams
25 Feb 2004

As child I dreamed of living in old, hilltop castles and playing in quaint city streets, the streets you see in productions of Charles Dickens' stories. The thought enchanted me, it called to me and, as a young adult, I did my best to respond to that call.  

But dreams are dreams and after many trips to Europe over many, long years, I never chanced on the city of my childhood dreams. One day, I passed through a town in Switzerland. It was just a layover for a day or two but I had some time on my hands and thought that I could enjoy exploring a bit. 

As I walked down the river, the breeze began to stir. Then, I heard music and found a string quartet playing to a shore-side audience from a barge. The sun was setting and the lights began to come on and flood the hilltop castle with white light. The street lights came on. Next, the lights from the restaurant terraces blinked on one by one. I gazed upon red lights, blue lights and even green lights reflecting in the river as I listened to the music.  

Others joined us. Some leaving the path and parking their bikes close-by, others with their shopping bags in hand came straight from the quaint stores in old town.  

I reveled in my discovery. This was the city of my childhood dreams. This was Basil.