So. I just sold my first travel article to a major metro newspaper. I'm a little stunned (but not quite speechless, of course).
A few weeks ago I took a travel writing class through the city Parks and Rec department. We met for three two-hour classes, and I think it cost me $21 or something like that. It was mostly a nuts and bolts class, how to choose a topic, how to find a market, how to write an article, how to take care of legal matters, etc. As part of the class I had to write a query letter for practice. After the class was over, I came home and sent the query letter out to 7 or 8 metro newspapers in the midwest (pulling editor's names and e-mail addresses off the web). Mostly I expected to be ignored, and I was, but I got one "maybe, but probably not" followed by a "I'd like to read the full article, and then we'll see."
Anyway, I cranked out a 900-1000 word article on the topic I suggested, and sent it off to that editor. That was last week. Today, I got an e-mail from the editor saying she'd like to run the piece, and if I agreed with the amount of money and terms the paper would offer, she would send me a contract. That is beginner's luck, big time.
I'm not sure where to go from here, but the beginning seems like a nice place to be, so maybe I'll just hang out here for awhile and enjoy it.