I put it off as long as I could.
It was a side project I was working on and I was having trouble settling on a theme. A theme and an illustration. I'd done a lot of thinking, but had done nothing concrete to move things forward.
So I sat at my desk and started mapping out ideas. A list of words. A list of images. And (no surprise, really), it worked. Ideas started to materialize.
I settled on a theme.
A snowy night. A night when snowbanks shimmer like sparkle snow in a storefront window.
And with a theme, things shifted.
The ideas started to flow.
The snowy night led to the idea of adding animals. But what kind?
Animals that turn white in winter (there are fewer than I expected). The Peary caribou is one and it would be the first of four I would include in the drawing.
Things were finally coming together. I had the shape of the caribou defined and most of the night sky around it was filled in.
But something was wrong.
The nose. With a pointed eraser, I rubbed it out. And something happened. The area I erased looked like the breath of the caribou. I was so surprised at the sight of it. Serendipity had stepped in and transformed the drawing.
The relief I felt was audible. This was going to work.
The drawing came together, I met my deadline, and felt good about what I had created.
And (fingers crossed), I learned something.
Start before you're ready.
Procrastination is hard to eliminate entirely, but sometimes a deep breath, a pencil (and an eraser), and a list will get things going.
On the final panel, I added a line from a cut-up poetry exercise. The original pencil drawing along with the hand lettering was scanned. Color was applied in InDesign.
Click on the drawing to enlarge.
If I can help you move forward with your project, let's do it.
Call 207-252-9757 or email me to get started.
At Composition 1206 we make you look good. Online and in print.
nonfiction book development and design
Love It or Hate It
Whether or not you like to write, it seems most of us have to do some sort of writing at some point.
Email is ever-present, websites are all about content, content, content, and blogs can challenge the best of us.
When I'm struggling to begin a new writing project, big or small, I remind myself that getting something down on paper is a good first step. It can be an outline, a summary, or a list. Something, anything to get me started.
When Things Get Fuzzy
After two, three, or four rounds of writing, editing, and rewriting, things can get fuzzy. Overwhelm sets in and I'm burdened by the order of things. I worry about what it is I'm trying say, how much to say, and how to say it.
That's when I revisit one of these books:
• Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
• Writing Well, William Zinsser
• Words Fail Me, Patricia T. O'Conner
Revisiting them reminds me what it takes to write well.
• In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott, reminds me that I just need to start. Forget about word choice and form. Just write.
• On Writing Well by William Zinsser reminds me that good writing is all about rewriting and clearing the clutter.
• Words Fail Me is funny. Patricia T. O'Conner reminds me that each sentence has a job to do, that clarity is paramount, and it's OK to lighten up a bit.
I've read each one of these books cover to cover, many times. But it's hard to remember it all. When my writing gets the best of me, I grab one, read a chapter or two, take a deep breath, and get back to writing.
Writing Is Hard
If you don't like to write, are feeling overwhelmed, or just need a fresh set of eyes to read through what you've written, I can help:
• content development
If I can help, call 207-252-9757 or write today for a free consultation.
And stay tuned. I've got a new book in the works. Here's a hint:
There’s a reason you see so many lists online.
They’re easy to share and easy to skim, and that makes great content for your website or blog.
The KEY to a good list though, is making it interesting and helpful. It doesn’t do any good if your list repeats common knowledge, or leaves people wondering how to do what you suggest.
With our 3-Course Cook-Off And Other Things to Do On A Rainy Day, we illustrate just how you can build an interesting and helpful list. Click here or on the image above read the three things to do on a rainy day.
At Composition 1206, we are information architects. If you have information to share and want to be sure it reads well and makes you proud we can help. Let’s talk!
Design and editing for:
websites • books • presentations
I'm the first to admit to a little DIY plumbing. I've changed a washer on the bathroom faucet and replaced the hoses on the washing machine. But, when it comes to replacing the seal on the toilet or installing a new garbage disposal, I call the professionals.
DIY publishing and graphic design is easier than ever, and chances are, you publish a lot of your own content.
A critical element in content design, and one that's often misunderstood, is font choice. There are so many to choose from and it's tempting to use too many, or the wrong ones.
Here are some tips to choosing the right fonts that will help you attract and keep your reader's attention:
Display fonts are the fancy, decorative styles, and they should be used sparingly. Just a few words. Really. Maybe a headline. Well, maybe not. Definitely not for sentences or paragraphs. They are just too hard to read. Go easy on these. Too much of a good thing is, well, too much. I used a display font above ... for one number and two words. Just two. And it works. Any more than that and it becomes difficult to read.
These are the fonts that have little bits at the ends and tips of the letters; fonts like Times, Goudy, and Garamond. These are great for long passages of text, for books, and reports. They also add a warmer feel to your text. If you're writing a book, be sure to set the text in a serif font. It's easier to read and will look more professional. Not sure about that? Grab a few books from the bookshelf and see what style fonts are used.
These are straight-up fonts, no embellishment, no little bits at the ends or tips of the letters. Helvetica and Arial are common san serif fonts. You’ll see a lot of san serif fonts on the web. They can be easier to read online for blog posts and on your about page, but again, if you have a lot of text or long passages, consider a serif font. Something like Georgia is great for online reading.
Two things to remember.
1) Make it Easy to Read
Your text needs to be easy to read. If it’s not, people will abandon what you've written and your message will be lost.
- Use display fonts sparingly.
- Choose serif fonts for longer passages and a softer, more welcoming feel.
- Use sans serif fonts for shorter entries, technical writing, instructions, and headlines.
2) Use The Two Font Rule
What is the two font rule? Use only one or two fonts on any document, report, or page. Sure, you can use the italic and bold features within the same font and you can combine it with a display font, but that’s it. Any more than that and you risk losing your reader. Too many fonts distract the eye and make it difficult to follow.
I'm here to help. If you're too busy to worry about font choice, content design and editing, send an email, or give me a call. I'd love to help out.
Making you look good in print, online and on paper.
Legacy Books • Presentations
Infographics • Magazines
Annual Reports • Invitations
Handouts or Leave-Behinds?
5 Reasons a Leave-Behind is the Better Move
1. Handouts are Distracting Spoilers
2. Reinforce Your Message
3. Leave a Lasting Impression
4. Expand Your Audience
5. A Good Investment
1. Handouts Are Distracting Spoilers
If you offer handouts at the beginning of your presentation, participants will flip through them and jump ahead before you’ve even had the chance to say hello. Instead, create a sense of anticipation by telling your audience you’ll have something for them at the end of your presentation.
2. Reinforce Your Message (and don't share your slides)
Leave-behinds give you the opportunity to repeat and enhance your message. But don’t just share your slides. To begin with, your slides will likely (and should) have minimal information—and they won’t have much meaning if you’re not there to explain them. A comprehensive overview of your talk in a dedicated leave-behind will be more effective.
3. Leave a Lasting Impression
Is there too little time to present all you want to cover? Put it in a leave-behind. Your leave-behind is a tangible reminder of who you are, and your credibility is reflected in the quality of your materials. Make it professional. Get help with the writing, editing, and design. Because it matters. (That’s where we come in!)
4. Expand Your Audience
An effective leave-behind is one that will be shared when participants return to the office and meet with associates. Make it interesting and you’ll capture a whole new audience.
5. A Good Investment
A well designed leave-behind continues to work for you after your presentation. You can re-purpose it as bonus content on your website, use it as a mailer, or post it on your blog.
Call or write today to make your presentation more memorable.
After I made my first SnowGirl, people had lots of questions.
"What did you use for her hair?"
"Is that an orange peel around her neck?"
Their interest made me consider sharing the information in a way that would be accessible to more people. In a way that might even encourage them to get outside and give it a go.
So I created an infographic, a combination of text and image.
Click on image to see full size version.
If you've got information to share, consider an infographic. Illustrated information attracts more attention and interest.
Online applications, email, websites, and blogs allow us to reach out and connect with the people who care about what we do. But, in order to get (and hold) their attention, the information we share needs to be presented in a way that's eye-catching and interesting.
Here are some ways to make it more interesting:
• photographs (your own if possible, carefully selected, and cropped)
• frequent paragraph breaks
• bold headings
Regular output and information that's helpful and interesting will keep your audience coming back for more.
From figuring out just what it is you need to say, to finding the right words and images to make it interesting, let's make something worth talking about.
Call (207-252-9757) or write today to talk.
It's my goal to help you look good in print. Let's get started.
Letters from Camp
It happens every summer. One publication or another runs an article about camp letters. Missives from home-sick, bug-swatting campers who have been cut-off from smart phones and social media.
Most include funny stories about how good or bad the food is, how infrequently someone may or may not be brushing their teeth, or how often they're changing their underwear. But a lot of them begin or end with some commentary about how kids these days don't know the basics of writing a letter, let alone how to address an envelope.
I write a lot of letters and have been for a long time. I know how to address an envelope, where to put my return address, and where to put the stamp. I thought most everyone else did, too.
Not so much.
I'm sure it's a problem that extends beyond campers stationed in remote woodlands, reduced to pen and paper, so I created an infographic to address the issue. The Elements of a Letter offers a rundown of the basics: gathering supplies, writing a letter, addressing an envelope, and where to put the stamp.
If you're interested in reading more about writing letters, visit, Postmark1206, where all things letter writing can be found. Letter writing, it turns out is good for campers, their parents, and rest of us, too.