Virginian-Pilot’s Robert Suhay nearing the end of another world-record solo sailing trip

As the A1 designer for the Virginian-Pilot, Robert Suhay is the guy who designs many of the Pilot front pages we gush over at the Newseum.


But Robert is special in a lot of other ways, too. Last summer, he set a new world record for sailing solo on a dinghy when he trekked 326 miles up and down the Chesapeake Bay. In the face of an approaching tropical storm, no less.


This week, Robert set out to not only shatter his own record, but to do it in spectacular fashion. And he’s been wildly successful. First, he gathered up sponsors who supplied the dinghy — he dubbed it the Insomnia — custom-made sails, GPS equipment and other special gear.


Photos from Robert Suhay’s web site.

Tuesday, he set out from Beaufort, N.C…

…sailed solo around the treacherous Cape Hatteras, along North Carolina’s Outer Banks — you know, where a rash of shark attacks have happened this summer — through Hampton Roads, and up the Chesapeake Bay.


Robert surpassed his record around 6:30 EDT this morning, his wife, Lisa, reports via Twitter:


His plan is to land near Annapolis, Maryland, later today.

UPDATE: Minutes after I posted this, it appears Robert may be done. Tracking data shows him ashore at Adams Island, Maryland. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not he broke his own record.

Read more on Robert’s web site.

Follow his actual tracking data here.

Lisa hired a boat to take her out to see Robert as he passed through his home waters of Hampton Roads Thursday night.

Read her piece here in the Virginian-Pilot.

Robert’s friends have been showing their support via Twitter by posting selfies with his sail number written on their hands. Here’s mine:


Post yours with the hashtag #SailSelfie.

Find Robert’s Twitter feed here, but keep in mind: He’s a little too busy right not to tweet. If you want to track the end of his journey today, you might follow Lisa instead.

Go here to read more about Robert’s record-setting event last summer.

From journalism to a nonprofit to working for a presidential campaign

There are those of us in journalism who aim to cover the fast-changing events in the world and explain what they mean to readers. And there are those who take a more direct approach.


Take my young friend Adam B. Sullivan. I met him years ago when I visited the University of Iowa and lectured a number of classes there. Adam worked for the student paper there, the Daily Iowan, as a metro reporter, opinion editor, convergence editor and news director of the paper’s TV operation before becoming editor-in-chief his senior year.

After graduating in 2012, Adam went to work covering politics and education for the Press-Citizen of Iowa City. After a year, however, he moved to the nonprofit Crisis Center of Johnson County, where he worked as communications coordinator.

Two weeks ago, he announced via social media:

I’m excited to say I’m leaving my job at the end of this month so I can focus fulltime on helping Rand Paul win the GOP presidential nomination.

I hope you’ll join me in fighting against endless wars, the incarceration crisis, and corporate welfare.

He worked his last day Friday.

Find Adam’s Twitter feed here.

Then: A newspaper designer. Now: An NFL cheerleader.

It’s always sad when a talented visual journalist leaves newspapers. But I’m always happy to see one of us go on to success in another field.


I worked with Alison Powers briefly at the Virginian-Pilot. She went on to work at the Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville as a features and Sunday sports designer. Four years ago, she left print and became an interactive designer for Nemours Children’s Clinic in Jacksonville.

A few weeks ago, she joined a new team: She’s been named to the ROAR of the Jaguars, the NFL team’s cheerleading/dance team.

Here’s her official portrait from the ROAR’s web site:


See the rest of the ROAR team here.

A 2007 graduate of the University of Missouri, Alison served as a designer for the Missourian and production manager, graphics editor and designer for the Maneater. She served an internship at the Virginian-Pilot in 2007 before joining the Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville that fall.

A few samples of her work:




Find Alison’s web site here and her Twitter feed here.

Reading Eagle’s Craig Schaffer featured in ‘Cartoon Picayune’ comic

Heads up, comics fans. Here’s something you might want to add to your collection.


That’s issue 7 of the Cartoon Picayune, which is being released today.

Craig Schaffer of the Reading (Pa.) Eagle tells us that the comic book…

…will be available to order at, on the comixology app and at a few select comic book stores. It’s a non-fiction comic by news illustrators. Issues cost $4.

Craig took the time to answer a few questions for us:

Q. What more can you tell me about the work you did for this issue? Did you write and draw it, or just draw it?

A. I tried to answer the question “Why is there a pagoda on the mountain overlooking Reading?” I’m not originally from here and didn’t know the answer to that question. It’s a unique symbol of our community.


Q. How many pages is this story you illustrated?

A. It’s only 2 pages and got picked up for the issue after I had completed it and Josh Kramer [the comic’s editor] learned of my work. Normally, they use 10-page stories.

Q. How long have you been working on this?

A. I wrote and illustrated mine in about two weeks.

I tweeted it to some other comic creators who inspired me from a book called Syncopated and they directed me to Josh. Issue #7 has a “chance” theme. I’ve never seen a copy in person. This is my first.


Q. What do you use? Markers? Pens? Bush-n-ink? Wacom tablet?

A. I use pen and ink, sometimes a brush, then a wacom tablet and Photoshop to color. I letter the page in illustrator.

A 1998 graduate of the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Mass., Craig spent several years as an archaeological illustrator before joining the Intelligencer of Doylestown, Pa.


He moved to the Reading Eagle in 2005. He creates a weekly graphic for the Eagle‘s business section. Find a gallery of his Snapshot work here.


Yeah, that one is about famed book designer Chipp Kidd. Read more about that piece here.

For a while, Craig also produced a “hand-drawn nature column” called Sketchbook that appeared every Wednesday in the Eagle‘s Berks Country section. Find his Sketchbook gallery here.

Find Craig’s online portfolio here and his blog here. Find his Twitter feed here.

Order a copy of Cartoon Picayune No. 7 here.

Please help a visual journalist publish a RPG setting book

Let’s see a show of hands: How many of you are old-school role-playing gamers?

That many, huh? Hmm. Not bad.

A friend of mine in South Africa has written a setting book for a game called Savage Worlds. It’s called Winter Eternal and yes, it’ll be an official licensed product.

Here’s a sample…


Morné Schaap has completed the writing, but now he’s trying to fund additional artwork for the e-book. To do this, he’s launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, which works much like Kickstarter.


The good news: He’s raised more than three quarters of his goal of $2,000. Another $490 and he’ll get there. The campaign will close on Monday, Oct. 6.

The bad news: Well, actually, there isn’t any bad news. The book sounds awesome and the sample artwork Morné has posted looks awesome. With a little nudge from folks like us, he can meet his goal and pay for the art that will illustrate the e-book the way it should be illustrated.

Morné posted a video to help explain his project and where he’s going with it.

As usual, there are a number of contribution levels and perks available. For the higher levels, you can even name characters in Morné’s book. Check out the entire list here.

If you’re into RP gaming — and especially if you’re into Savage Worlds — please consider supporting Morné’s project.

I’ve had the happy opportunity to work with Morné several times during my multiple teaching visits to South Africa.


A 1998 graduate of North West University, Morné Schaap spent five years as an artist for Beeld in Johannesburg and then nearly five with die Burger in Cape Town. Media24 combined its graphics departments in November 2010, so now he works in an umbrella department that serves all the company’s papers. Morné still works out of the Cape Town offices.

Find Morné’s Twitter feed here.

Tonight: The debut of ‘Gotham’ on Fox. Today: Ryan Huddle’s ‘Gotham’ posters.

My old pal Ryan Huddle — a features designer for the Boston Globe — has been a busy guy lately.

Yeah, he and his wife — humor columnist and author Aprill Brandon — have a young son, Riker, who keeps them occupied. I mean, in addition to that. Ryan received some love from the Fox TV network lately for posters he designed for the new Gotham TV show that debuts tonight on their lineup.


Gotham will tell stories set in fictional Gotham City — better known as the home of Bruce Wayne, aka the Batman. The idea is to show the events that lead up to Batman and his compulsion to rid that dirty city of crime.

The show will debut tonight — at 8 p.m., here in the LA area. As they say: Check your local listings. The reviews have been outstanding.

Ryan tells us his poster was for a fan contest that was announced back during the San Diego Comicon. Back in July, the Hollywood Reporter reported:

The network is asking fans to create their own Gotham poster and/or trailer with the grand-prize winners earning a trip to the New York City premiere party of the Batman prequel series…

The poster contest tasks fans to design a one-sheet utilizing specific assets, such as graphics, fonts, images and title cards provided by Fox.

Ryan told me last week:

Please don’t tell anyone yet — because they have not announced it yet — is that I won the Gotham Fan poster contest. Aprill and I are going to New York to attend the premire in Times Square and Fox is going to print the poster and the cast is going to sign it.

So I will have an awesome new poster for Riker’s Room.

Now that the dynamic three are back from the real Gotham City, Ryan tells us how the whole thing came about. Aprill was the one who spotted the contest and urged Ryan to enter. Especially given Ryan’s previous work — he’s done tons of movie-oriented pages for the Victoria (Texas) Advocate and, now, the Boston Globe.




Ryan tells us:

Fox provided the images and title Gotham to use. There were 3 things were we judged on: creativity, originality and use of provided art. You could not use anything Batman in the posters.

Ryan created seven posters in all, including the one I showed you above. He says…

…all of them are pretty straightforward on the art. The one with the handprint is the only one on which I really used any massive Photoshop work on Ben McKenzie (police officer James Gordon) and Jada Pinkett Smith (a new character, crime boss Fish Mooney) in the print.


The first poster I did was the one with the art deco border.


I think this was my favorite one I just like that style.

Then I decided to play it safe and do two that look more TV show poster like. Those are pretty straightforward.

I showed you one of these earlier. Here’s the other.


For the horizontal one, I tried to place and blue and red glow on the sides of the logo.

The day of the deadline (Aug. 20),  I was in the cafeteria at work getting coffee and thought of one with characters shattering. So when I got home at 7 p.m., I started to break the one with Ben apart first, but it was taking a really long time to do it. I knew I would never get done by the midnight deadline.


Luckily, I had the elements that I used before for a piece I did for Warm Bodies...


…so I was able to use some of those pieces to make the shattering effect and move some things around and make some more cuts in it. I already had all the people and alley backgrounds cut out from the posters I did earlier.

I was able to color correct, size and layer the images on top of the characters. I used luminosity and some curves to make the main background come through and to tone down the color of the people.


I got done with about 20 minutes to spare and was able to send them off just in time.


Ryan sent all the artwork off on Aug. 20. The winners were supposed to be notified Aug. 27, but, Ryan says…

Fox called me up on Sunday the 7th and told me they enjoyed my poster and that I was the winner. They asked if I would be available to come to New York City.

They flew all three of us out to New York and then they had a car waiting for us. That was cool, because we walked down to baggage claim and a guy was there with my name on a sign. That was cool.

They put us up in the Bryant Park Hotel which is probably the closest I will ever get to rich people.

Wikimedia Commons

The Bryant Park Hotel is in midtown Manhattan, just a couple of blocks from Times Square. It’s in the old American Radiator Building, built in 1924 and designed by noted architects John Howells and Raymond Hood, the same guys who designed — media business alert! — Rockefeller Center and Chicago’s Tribune Tower.

So, how was it? Ryan says, simply:

New York was Awesome.


Mostly we hung out just walking around. We went to Central Park and walked around for hours.


I got to hang out with Martin and Carrie Gee. They were kind enough to watch Riker for us during the event.


He was all smiles when we got back.

This is where Aprill picks up the story in an epic blog post last week. She writes that the premiere…

…was going to be fancy. Not fancy-fancy, but fancy enough that Ryan had to borrow a suit and I spent hours scouring my closet, trying on different things and asking him things like “would it be inappropriate to wear a dress to the premiere that has a curse word on it?

Aprill tells us:

As for the episode, I loved it. They showed the whole thing. I’m definitely a fan so far. Ryan thought it was pretty good too.

The pilot episode was written by executive producer Bruno Heller, who’s known for the suspense thriller TV show the Mentalist. It was directed by Danny Cannon, who is famous for his work on Nikita and the various CSI shows.

Doctor Who fans might take note: Sean Pertwee, the son of Doctor No. 3 Jon Pertwee, plays Alfred Pennyworth, young master Bruce Wayne’s butler.


David Hinckley of the New York Daily News writes that Gotham

…has the look of a stylish winner.

The pilot of the hot-buzz series… plays like a 45-minute movie, with stunning visuals that never feel like a shrunken TV version of the Batman films against which it will inevitably be measured.

The screening was held in the great hall of New York Public Library.


Fox publicity photo

Variety‘s Brian Steinberg reported the next day:

There is no Batman in Fox’s Gotham, just a young version of his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, who, just as in the four-color origin story, sees his mother and father gunned down in a mugging gone terribly wrong. James Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, vows to bring the perpetrators to justice, but in doing so, the young detective threatens to upend the corruption that is at the heart of the dark city.

Once guests got a taste for the show, all they had to do was follow the umbrellas laid out like bread crumbs from Hansel and Gretel…

Fox publicity photo

…to a massive aerie high up in the Library, where a room was transformed to look like a Gotham City speakeasy.

Fox publicity photo

Batman probably would not have taken a drink here, but many of the attendees exhibited few qualms about doing so.

Naturally, Ryan and Aprill were invited.


Aprill writes in her blog:

As far as I can tell, the main goal of a movie or TV premiere party is to skulk around the room until you weasel your way close enough to one of the stars to ask them to take a photo with you.

Unfortunately, Ryan and I are those people who like to think we’re above having our photos taken with celebrities. That’s what we tell ourselves, at least. Yeah, we’re way too cool for that.

In reality, however, we are totally those people who want our photos taken with celebrities. We’re just too scared to ever actually ask.

That didn’t stop them from taking pictures, though. Aprill helpfully posted a few.



Make sure you visit Aprill’s blog to read about the highlight of the night: An encounter with San Diego native Camren Bicondova, who plays Selina Kyle — Catwoman — in the new show.

Fox publicity photo

Find the official Fox network web site for Gotham here. Find Gotham‘s Facebook fan site here and its Twitter feed here.

A graduate of Collins College in Phoenix, Ryan Huddle spent seven years as a designer and creative services coordinator for the Hutchinson (Kan.) News. He moved to the Brown Publishing Company in Troy, Ohio in 2003 but then, two years later, became creative director of the Victoria Advocate in Victoria, Texas. He moved to the Globe in 2011.


Aprill Brandon is a freelance writer and blogger. A 2004 graduate of Ohio’s Miami University, Aprill spent a year as education reporter for the Troy, Ohio, Daily News before joining the Victoria Advocate in 2006 as an arts and entertainment repairer and as a columnist.

After she and Ryan moved to Boston, Aprill began a column for the Weekly Dig. She also continues to write for the Advocate. An e-book collecting her columns — Why Does the Cheese Always Fall? –  was published last summer.


Find that here and the Kindle version here. Find her blog here and her Twitter feed here.

Find Ryan’s online portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

More movie-themed work by Ryan of the Boston Globe:

Find Ryan’s online portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

How the cover came together for one of the year’s hottest nonfiction books

My old Rock Hill, S.C., Herald colleague Doug Most has gone on to have an interesting career.


He covered Chris Christie long before the man had the power to shut down the George Washington Bridge. He oversaw a major revamp of the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. And as a deputy managing editor at the Globe, he’s worked with my enormously talented friends Martin Gee and Ryan Huddle.

And now he’s written a book that’s taken off in a big way. The book is called The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway. The book has received love from the Economist and the New York Times. Amazon named it a Best Book of the Month for February.

Last week, he was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe:


The official blurb:

We bound down stairs taking us deep beneath the streets to ride subways. We bury our faces in our books and phones while being whisked through dark and mysterious tunnels. It wasn’t always this way. Building America’s first subways was a complicated, terrifying journey filled with thrilling breakthroughs and horrific tragedies. In The Race Underground, (coming February 2014 from St. Martin’s Press) Doug Most tells the story of two great cities, Boston and New York, trying desperately to relieve overcrowded streets by convincing their citizens there was only place to go. Down.

The book sells on Amazon for $20.96. The Kindle edition is just $12.74.

It sounds like a terrific read. Doug tells me:

I’ve always been a journalist who appreciates the visual. I did a blog post of my own with the book designer who designed the cool cover for for my book.

That designer was Portland, Oregon-based Ian Koviak of Here’s an excerpt from Doug’s post:

Q: After you read The Race Underground, what struck you the most in helping you create a design?

A: I read parts of the book and relied mostly on the synopsis, based on the time I had. I grew up in New York and have always been enthralled by the subway system and spent much of my childhood underground getting around to school, home and Coney Island! I guess a large part of the designs that I came up with tried to capture that excitement.

Early on in the process I had researched signage used in old subway cars and terminals and tried a few ideas out with that sensibility. I also played with images from the time period in both Boston and NYC.

Two of Ron’s design concepts that were not chosen:


Ultimately I focused on an image of light at the end of the tunnel–representative of hope, the future, fear, and change. This was the selected idea. We played around with the typography/fonts a few times and shortly after had our final cover.


It was a rather painless process and I was very pleased with the final.

Q: What do you like about The Race Underground cover?

A: I like its sense of hope and a look into the future. It doesn’t give away too much. It’s not busy and overloaded. The fonts speak to the time periods and the round hole of the subway track reflects the design of the original subways in NY.

Overall, it’s appropriate for the topic but also breaks the mold in that it almost looks like a novel and not strictly non-fiction, which is something I did like about the quality of the writing. It’s not just a dry report on history. There’s intrigue and tension!

Find the entire Q&A here.

Doug and I worked together at the Rock Hill Herald, back in the early 1990s. I moved on to Raleigh, Chicago, Des Moines, Norfolk and, now, the Orange County Register.

Doug left Rock Hill around the same time I did. He spent three years at the Daily Record of Morristown, N.J., and four years at the Record of Hackensack before becoming a senior editor of Boston Magazine in 2000. In 2003, he moved to the Boston Globe, where he served as deputy managing editor over the Sunday magazine and the travel, arts, entertainment and food sections. Along the way, he wrote a “true crime” book and taught at Boston University.

Earlier this year, Doug was promoted to a new DME position in which he will develop new print and digital concepts.

Find more reviews of Doug’s new book here.

Find Doug’s web site here, his blog here and his Twitter feed here.

Holiday gift guide for visual journalists: Cookbooks, calendars and music

Why not toss some of your holiday gift budget toward a visual journalist who might be selling just what you need for that special someone on your list?

Today’s topic: Cookbooks, calendars and music.


Do you have a cook or a wannabe cook on your Christmas list this year?

Longtime food writer, editor and blogger Debbie Moose of Raleigh, N.C., has written five cookbooks, each of which focus on Southern-style, downhome cooking.

1. Her first, published in 2004, was Deviled Eggs.

The blurb:

Some say the devils you know are better than the devils you don’t. Well, in these pages there are plenty of both, and all are wickedly delicious.


Deviled eggs, a perennial favorite of potluck suppers and picnics, a party food that is nearly perfect in its simplicity and speed of preparation, are basking in a long-awaited renaissance.

Find it here for $10.48.

2. In 2007, Debbie came out with Fan Fare, which focused on finger foods and hearty snacks for entertaining or tailgating.


Find it here for $12.46.

3. The next year, she published Wings, which contained…

…65 terrific recipes that demonstrate just how deliciously versatile wings can be.


From easy choices like Crunchy Lemon-Pepper Wings to incendiary Vindaloo Vipers and exotic Wings Go Coconutty. Watch your parties take off with wings like these!

Paul McCartney not included.

Buy it here for $12.71.

4. In 2009, Debbie write about yet another Southern delicacy, Potato Salad.

Potato salad is not just a starchy buddy to your hamburger. It has a proud place in cultures around the world, from German oil-and-vinegar salads with bacon to dill-accented Scandinavian delights.


And, of course, it’s the all-American side dish at every Fourth of July picnic. But this great dish deserves to shine year-round. In this book are the flavors of beloved favorites, but with new twists.

Find it here for $14.87.

And then in 2012, Debbie wrote Buttermilk.

The official blurb:

“Like a full moon on a warm southern night, buttermilk makes something special happen.” Buttermilk explores the rich possibilities of this beloved ingredient and offers remarkably wide-ranging recipes for its use in cooking and baking–and drinking, including The Vanderbilt Fugitive, a buttermilk-based cocktail.


Buttermilk includes fifty recipes–most of which are uniquely southern, with some decidedly cosmopolitan additions–from Fiery Fried Chicken to Lavender Ice Cream to Mango-Spice Lassi.

Find it here for $13.59.

Find Debbie’s cooking blog here.


A 1979 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Debbie spent six years as a reporter with the Post of Salisbury, N.C., before moving to the News & Observer in 1985. She was an editor and sole writer for the N&O‘s food section for eight years. She also spent four years as a counselor and support group facilitator for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Find Debbie’s  web site here and her Twitter feed here.


And what do you buy that media animal who’s so very hard to shop for?

You buy him the ultimate media calendar, of course: One that features gorgeous photos of radio station antenna sites around around the country.


Every year, Rochester, N.Y.-based radio writer and consultant Scott Fybush publishes a radio antenna calendar. What you see above is this year’s edition.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release Scott sends us:

“Some people may think all radio towers look alike, but the Tower Site Calendar shows every year that that’s not the case,” says Fybush, who has worked in radio and television news for more than two decades. The calendar began in 2002 as an outgrowth of his weekly industry news column, NorthEast Radio Watch, and its offshoot, “Tower Site of the Week,” a weekly feature at his website.

“It has developed a passionate following in the broadcast engineering community,” Fybush says. “Engineers are notoriously underappreciated for the hard work they do. The calendar is one way I can help show some recognition for their design and maintenance of the infrastructure that allows all of us to have easy access to radio, TV and cellphones.”

The 2014 edition, now shipping from the Fybush Media store features thematic page designs, durable coil binding and 13 new pictures taken from Fybush’s travels all over North America and beyond. Some of the highlights this year:

  • The former site of KBRT. This daytime-only AM station broadcast from southern California’s Catalina Island until this year, inspiring the popular song “26 Miles.”
  • The home of Chicago’s AM 1160. The four-tower array actually sits in Des Plaines, Illinois.
  • WTAG, Worcester Massachusetts. The station, named for its former owner, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, celebrates its 90th anniversary in May.
  • A master antenna system in Crestwood, Missouri. Built in 1986, the combiner system houses 11 St. Louis stations.
  • KFAQ, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The city’s oldest surviving radio station (and the station that launched Tulsa native Paul Harvey) is near the old Route 66.

The calendars cost $18.50 each plus shipping; just a little more for customers in New York state. Order the calendar here.


A 1992 graduate of Boston’s Brandeis University, Scott worked as a reporter for WCAP in Lowell, Mass., WBZ in Boston, R News in Rochester and WXXI, also in Rochester. In addition to his freelance work, he edits radio trade publications such as the Radio Journal, NorthEast Radio Watch and

Find Scott’s Fybush Media web site here and his Twitter feed here.


Jazz pianist, composer and arranger Vernon Carne has released four CDs of his work.


From 2003, A Passage in Time. From 2006, Simple Pleasures. From 2007, What Touches the Soul. And from 2009, Friday’s Child.

Each CD is available for $10. Mp3 downloads are a bit cheaper. Find everything on Vernon’s web site. While you’re there, make sure you also check out his limited edition jazz prints.


A 1970 graduate of the Professional Academy of Art, Vernon began work as a news artist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in March 1972 and spent more than 33 years there.

I can’t talk about music without giving a plug to my South African pop star friends Noemie and Camille, better known as the fabulous SoapGirls.


I met the SoapGirls years ago on one of my trips to South Africa. They were a couple of insanely talented teenaged girls, selling homemade soap to tourists to raise money for charity.

Later — to the surprise of no one who’s ever met them — they signed a recording contract. In 2012, they released a CD of dance pop songs.


As far as I know, that albums still isn’t available here in the U.S., although you can listen to it — and a few really sweet remixes of songs from their debut album — at ReverbNation.

I really love their work and I write about them as often as I can get away with it.

Earlier this year, the SoapGirls made their first trip to the U.S. and cut new tracks with a New York-based record producer. This resulted in two singles that were released Tuesday:


Each is just 99 cents, of course.


Find the official SoapGirls web site here and their brand-new blog here. Find their YouTube channel here and their Facebook fan page here. Find their Twitter feed here.

You’re reading the last of a series of blog posts offering up ideas for Holiday gift giving, but with items created by your visual journalism colleagues around the world.

The schedule, so far:

DEC. 2: Greeting cards
DEC. 3: Cool stuff
DEC. 4: Homemade jewelry
DEC. 5: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home
DEC. 6: Children’s books

DEC. 9: Comics and cartoons
DEC. 10: Novels
DEC. 11: Nonfiction books
DEC. 12: Books by, for and about us
TODAY: Cookbooks, calendars and music

Also, check out the gifts for geeky collector-types that I wrote for the O.C. Register‘s Holiday Gift Guide in the Thanksgiving day paper.

Do you know of anything — or anybody — I should add to my list? Give me a ho-ho-holler.

Holiday gift guide for visual journalists: Books by, for and about us

Why not toss some of your holiday gift budget toward a visual journalist who might be selling just what you need for that special someone on your list?

Today’s topic: Books by, for and about us…


Jill Geisler is group leader for leadership and management programs at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.

More to the point, however, she’s also the author of a  on management book — Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know — that was published last summer.


Bob Schieffer of CBS News offers this cover blurb:

I’ve seen Jill Geisler in action. She has an uncanny ability to unravel the most complicated workplace problems and come up with creative solutions to resolve them. Combine those insights with the fact that she is also a cracker jack writer and the result is a book that will come in handy whether you’re running a newsroom or a construction site – I know because I’ve worked in both.

And Rob King, senior vice president of ESPN and a speaker at SND/St. Louis a couple of years ago, writes:

Simply put, this book is a gift. A gift to any young manager in a new stretch assignment. A gift to any senior executive seeking to inspire a workforce. A gift to anyone driven to learn how to become a better leader.

Those of us lucky enough to have been blessed to spend time in the company of the incomparable Jill Geisler have eagerly awaited Work Happy. Her humor, intelligence and warmth, captured within these pages, offer the reader an indispensable blend of best practices and comforting thoughts.

Jill Geisler has created a safe place to think about becoming a better boss.  Which makes her something of a gift, too.

Buy the book here.

A 1972 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Jill spent 25 years at WITI-TV in Milwaukee, Wis., ending up as vice-president of news. She earned a Master’s degree from Duquesne University in 2004. She’s worked with Poynter, now, for more than 15 years.

Find Jill’s web site here and her Twitter feed here.


Yes, there’s a wicked part of us that takes perverse pleasure in seeing errors in publications — as long as they’re not our publications.

And then there are those who are fascinated by the art of writing corrections.

Enter Poynter’s Craig Silverman, longtime editor of the Regret the Error blog and author of a 2007 book collecting that blog.


The official blurb calls this…

…a collection of funny, shocking, and sometimes disturbing journalistic slip-ups and corrections. On display are all types of media inaccuracy—from “fuzzy math” to “obiticide” (printing the obituary of a person very much alive and well) to complete and utter ethical lapses. While some of the errors can be laugh-out-loud funny, the book contains a sobering journey through the history of media mistakes (including the outrageous hoaxes that dominated newspapers during the circulation wars of the 19th-century) and a serious muckraking investigation of contemporary journalism’s lack of accountability to the public. It shines a spotlight on the media’s carelessness and the sometimes tragic and calamitous consequences of weak or non-existent fact checking.

The American Journalism Review says:

Craig Silverman turns what could have been a sudsy little stocking stuffer into a serious study of why journalists fail so often.

Buy the book here.


A 1999 graduate of Montreal’s Concordia University, Craig has worked as a writer for for NewCanadian magazine, an editor for PBS’ MediaShift and Idea Lab and as a columnist and blogger for the Columbia Journalism Review and the Toronto Globe & Mail. In 2010, he created OpenFile, a community news site that covers seven communities in Canada.

He’s currently director of content for Spundge, a content platform for tablet and mobile. He joined Poynter in 2011 as an adjunct faculty member.

Find the Regret the Error blog here. Find Craig’s personal web site here and his Twitter feed here.


Every once in a while, someone asks me where they can find a decent textbook on how to build infographics.

The one I’ve been recommending lately is Alberto Cairo‘s the Functional Art.


The book was released in 2012. Its official marketing blurb says:

In this practical introduction to understanding and using information graphics, you’ll learn how to use data visualizations as tools to see beyond lists of numbers and variables and achieve new insights into the complex world around us. Regardless of the kind of data you’re working with–business, science, politics, sports, or even your own personal finances–this book will show you how to use statistical charts, maps, and explanation diagrams to spot the stories in the data and learn new things from it.

You’ll also get to peek into the creative process of some of the world’s most talented designers and visual journalists, including Condé Nast Traveler’s John Grimwade, National Geographic Magazine’s Fernando Baptista, The New York Times’ Steve Duenes, The Washington Post’s Hannah Fairfield, Hans Rosling of the Gapminder Foundation, Stanford’s Geoff McGhee

…and others. The book also includes a DVD with 90-minutes of video lessons by Alberto.

Buy a copy here.


Alberto worked as an artist for La Voz, Diario 16 and El Mundo and then spent five years as director of online graphics at El Mundo. In 2005, Alberto became the James H. Schumaker assistant professor at the University of North Carolina’s school of journalism, teaching information graphics. He moved to São Paulo, Brazil, in 2010 to become director for infographics and multimedia at Época-Editora Globo but then returned to the U.S. in early 2012 to teach at the University of Miami School of Communication.

He’s also one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

Find Alberto’s web site and blog here and his Twitter feed here.


Not only is Richard Johnson of the Washington Post a fabulous infographics artist and editor, but also he’s an accomplished war correspondent and battlefield sketch artist.

Richard went to Afghanistan and/or Iraq three times — in 2007, 2011 and 2012 — as a roving reporter + artist covering allied forces there with his sketchpad. You can find his most recent reports here.

Ten years ago, the Detroit Free Press published a book collecting some of Richard’s battlefield sketch work.


Find that book at Amazon. Or just buy directly from the Freep.


A product of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, Scotland, Richard has worked for the Globe and Mail of Toronto and the Detroit Free Press. He spent two years with the United Nations, in charge of a visual media unit that created advocacy-based visuals and documentary films.

He spent several years as assistant managing editor for graphics and illustration at Canada’s National Post before joining the Washington Post in October.

Find Richard’s web site here and his Twitter feed here.


And finally, one just for fun…

Aprill Brandon is a writer and columnist for Dig Boston and for her former full-time employer, the Advocate of Victoria, Texas.

Earlier this year, she published an e-book collection of her columns, entitled Why Does the Cheese Always Fall?

Here’s the official blurb:

As a humor columnist for over a decade, Aprill Brandon has been documenting her transition to adulthood, from college to the Dirty 30 and beyond, in newspapers and media websites around the country.


This book, based on her award-winning columns, has everything young people, the young at heart and fans of horrible stick figure art will ever need to know about putting on a convincing grown-up act. Information such as:

Advice on insurance:

You pay thousands of dollars each year to insurance companies to ‘insure’ you should the unthinkable happen. And then when the unthinkable does happen, they take all those thousands of dollars you paid over all those years and swiftly deny your claim to it. And then when you die, you get a letter in the After Life from your insurance company informing you that your death was a pre-existing condition.

Advice on dating:

Dating sucks. The end.

Advice on pet ownership:

Are you currently sentimentally attached to any of the following: Your shoes, the majority of your furniture, the carpet, small to mid-sized expensive electronic devices, peace and quiet, throw pillows that have not been sexually traumatized or living a life where there is never a danger of stepping in urine in your socks? If not, then you are ready for a pet, my friend.

Advice on cooking:

You’re an adult! You can eat whatever you want! Doritos drenched in chocolate! Twinkies stuffed with bacon! Burrito and tequila smoothies!

You get the idea. Funny stuff.

Find the Kindle edition here and a number of other formats here.


A 2004 graduate of Ohio’s Miami University, Aprill spent a year as education reporter for the Troy, Ohio, Daily News before joining the Victoria dvocate in 2006 as an arts and entertainment repairer and as a columnist. She moved to Boston in 2011 when her husband, designer Ryan Huddle, was hired by the Boston Globe.

Find Aprill’s blog here and her Twitter feed here.

You’re reading the ninth of a series of blog posts offering up ideas for Holiday gift giving, but with items created by your visual journalism colleagues around the world.

The schedule, so far:

DEC. 2: Greeting cards
DEC. 3: Cool stuff
DEC. 4: Homemade jewelry
DEC. 5: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home
DEC. 6: Children’s books

DEC. 9: Comics and cartoons
DEC. 10: Novels
DEC. 11: Nonfiction books
TODAY: Books by, for and about us
FRIDAY: Cookbooks, calendars and CDs

Also, check out the gifts for geeky collector-types that I wrote for the O.C. Register‘s Holiday Gift Guide in the Thanksgiving day paper.

Do you know of anything — or anybody — I should add to my list? Give me a ho-ho-holler.

Holiday gift guide for visual journalists: Nonfiction books

Why not toss some of your holiday gift budget toward a visual journalist who might be selling just what you need for that special someone on your list?

Today’s topic: Nonfiction books…


My former colleague and still good friend Bill Peschel is an author and book reviewer based in Hershey, Pa.

He’s also the author of a couple of very unusual, very fun books that would make great gifts for anyone on your list who’s a bookworm-type.

Bill’s first book — Writers Gone Wild: The Feuds, Frolics, and Follies of Literature’s Great Adventurers, Drunkards, Lovers, Iconoclasts, and Misanthropes — was released in 2010.


Note the cover illustration by frequent New Yorker cover artist Barry Blitt.

This is a collection of brief tales of authors, novelists, poets and journalists and some of the crazy, unbelievable and just plain ol’ weird stuff they’ve done over the years.

From a Q&A I did with Bill when the book was published:

Q. I’ve always thought of writers as an honorable professionals — that novelists, poets and journalists represent some of the best, most articulate minds of their times. But many of the tales you bring us show us writers who have engaged in plagiarism, theft, fisticuffs, sexual deviancy — all sorts of shenanigans. Was my mental picture of these folks just completely out of order, or what?

A. Why can’t degenerates be great artists too? Writers draw on their experiences, so it makes sense that the ones who live the more extreme lives have the deepest well to draw from.

That doesn’t mean that they will have great stories to tell, or will remain healthy long enough to tell them well. William Faulkner was a great artist in spite of his alcoholism — which left him so debilitated that he suffered from the DTs and had to brace his hand against the wall so he could pour his morning drink — not because of it. It’s known that Eugene O’Neill’s greatest plays came after he gave up drinking.

Researching Writers Gone Wild also cured me of the pretty notion that art can Improve Your Life. True, it can widen your horizon and make you see the world in a new way, but only if you’re already open to that notion. Art is full of great works created by unhappy bastards — Ernest Hemingway, John O’Hara, Picasso, Jean Rhys — and it didn’t improve their lives one bit.

Q. Likewise, your book contains a number of stories of unsavory journalistic practices: Newspaper articles that were hoaxes, critics who took cash for good reviews. I knew journalism didn’t always have the high ethics that most of us strive to have today. But good grief, was it really THAT bad?

A. We’ll never know, will we? We only find out about the scandals that were exposed, such as the newspaper hoaxes, the fake reviews or the “pay for play” stories such as Alexander Woollcott taking money to pump Faulkner’s Sanctuary on his radio show.

Remember that, at one time, journalism was a disreputable profession. No one with a college degree would have been caught dead in the newsroom. Now, it’s practically a requirement.

This is a fun, fun read. And what’s more, the book appears to be really cheap at the moment. Pick up copies for folks on your list and make sure you get an extra for yourself.

A year later, Bill came out with The Complete, Annotated Whose Body?

Here’s the official blurb:

When church architect Mr. Thipps finds a naked man in his Battersea bathroom, Lord Peter Wimsey is on the case! The aristocratic amateur detective, accompanied by his camera-bearing manservant Bunter, follows a trail of blood as he pursues stock market manipulation, medical malpractice and Lord Brocklebury’s edition of Dante.


But the curious case of the bathing body turns darker and deadlier as Lord Peter uncovers a ghastly crime.

Published in 1923, “Whose Body?” was Dorothy L. Sayer‘s debut novel, and Bill Peschel has provided hundreds of notes to guide the reader through Lord Peter’s world, describing words, objects and ideas that were familiar to Sayers’ readers but might be obscure or unknown today.

Find Whose Body? here.


A 1982 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Bill worked at small- and medium-sized newspapers, including 11 years at the Herald of Rock Hill, S.C., where he was forced to edit huge heaping mounds of my work. I even wrote a handful of book reviews for the poor guy.

He joined the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., in 2000. He spent 12 years there as a copy editor and page designer until Advance Publications downsized their Harrisburg operation last year.

Find Bill’s web site here and his blog here. Find his Twitter feed here.


If you have a music lover on your holiday shopping list, you’re in luck: I have a number of suggestions for you.

My pal Peter Ames Carlin — formerly of People magazine and then the Portland Oregonian — has written exhaustive biographies of three iconic musicians of the rock era.

In 2006, Peter wrote perhaps the definitive biography of the brain behind the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson.

From the official blurb:

Peter Ames Carlin, who conducted in-depth, exclusive interviews with dozens of sources and listened to hundreds of hours of unreleased studio recordings and live music, tells a uniquely American story of the band, the music, and the culture the Beach Boys both sang about and helped create.


Carlin brings a fan’s passion, a seasoned journalist’s objectivity, and a cultural critic’s insight to his subject, and the result is a magesterial and authoritative account of the Beach Boys’ visionary figure, who has emerged into a new era of creativity.

Find the book here.

In 2009, Peter followed that work with a biography of Paul McCartney.


Carlin presents McCartney as a musical visionary but also as a layered and conflicted figure as haunted by his own legacy—and particularly his relationship with John Lennon—as he was inspired by it. Built on years of research and fresh, revealing interviews with friends, bandmates, and collaborators spanning McCartney’s entire life, Carlin’s lively biography captures the many faces of the living legend.

Buy it here.

I own autographed copies of both of those books and I recommend them wholeheartedly. I must admit, however, I don’t yet have Peter’s latest major music biography. His book about the Boss came out last year:


Here’s the blurb:

Built from years of research and unparalleled access to its subject and his inner circle, Bruce presents the most revealing account yet of a man laden with family tragedy, a tremendous dedication to his artistry, and an all-consuming passion for fame and influence. With this book, the E Street Band members finally bare their feelings about their abrupt dismissal in 1989, and how Bruce Springsteen’s ambivalence nearly capsized their 1999 reunion. Carlin deftly traces Springsteen’s often harrowing personal life: from his lower working- class childhood in Freehold, New Jersey, through his stubborn climb to fame and tangled romantic life, and finally to his quest to conquer the demons that nearly destroyed his father.

Find it here.


A 1985 graduate of Portland’s Lewis & Clark College, Peter had previously worked as a senior writer for People magazine. He spent 11 years as a TV columnist and then a “roving cultural reporter” for the Portland Oregonian before leaving to go freelance in 2011. He’s been published in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Men’s Journal.

Find Peter’s web site here, his blog here, his Facebook fan page here and his Twitter feed here.


In 2003, longtime Des Moines Register staffer Larry Lehmer wrote the definitive book about the famous plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959, that claimed the lives of music icons Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.


Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

After two decades of research, Iowa journalist Lehmer has assembled a sometimes lively, often obsessively trivial history of the tour that culminated in the deaths of three rock ‘n’ roll pioneers on February 3, 1959.

Lehmer is best when detailing the backgrounds of the three stars and how they came to be on the Winter Dance Party tour. J.P. Richardson, a.k.a. the Big Bopper, was a 28-year-old Texas DJ who held the world’s record for continuous time on the air (122 hours, 8 minutes) and had struck gold as a singer with Chantilly Lace. Ritchie Valens, 17, was the first Latino rocker to achieve national success, with the single Donna. Buddy Holly, 22, was already a major star with a string of hits.

Because of conflicts with his manager, Holly was temporarily broke, so he agreed to headline the tour. Lehmer has interviewed musicians who were on the tour (including Waylon Jennings, who played bass for Holly), family members, promoters, and fans who attended the shows. He establishes that while teens were thrilled by the performances, the musicians were miserable, because their tour bus was comfortless and frequently heatless in the subzero weather.

To escape another sleepless night, Holly and the others decided to charter a tiny three-passenger plane after their show in Clear Lake, Iowa.

I worked with Larry at the Register for several years. I recommend his work highly.

Buy it here.


A 1968 graduate of the University of Nebraska, Larry spent four years in the U.S. Air Force, eight years at the Nonpareil of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and then 25 years as a copy editor, copy desk chief and news editor for the Des Moines Register.

Still based in Des Moines, Larry runs a writing and editing service for businesses and families called When Words Matter. Find Larry’s blog here and his Twitter feed here.


Toronto-based freelance journalist Jerry Langton has written 12 books.

His 2011 book Gangland about Mexican drug cartels seems to be very popular.


Neither Amazon nor Barnes & Noble seems to have the print version in stock at the moment. You can still get it for Nook however.

His book from earlier this year — Fallen Angel: The Unlikely Rise of Walter Stadnick and the Canadian Hells Angels — is available only for Nook and Kindle.


Here’s the publicity blurb:

Walter Stadnick is not an imposing man. At five-foot-four, his face and arms scarred by fire in a motorcycle accident, he would not spring to mind as a leader of Canada’s most notorious biker gang, the Hells Angels. yet through sheer guts and determination, intelligence and luck, this Hamilton-born youth who had the nickname of “Nurget” rose in the Hells Angels ranks to become national president.

Not only did he lead the Angels through the violent war with their rivals the rock machine in Montreal in the Nineties, Stadnick saw opportunity to grow the Hells Angels into a national criminal gang.

He was a visionary–and a highly successful one.

His most recent book — The Notorious Bacon Brothers: Inside Gang Warfare on Vancouver Streets — was published in March.


Here’s the pitch:

Gang violence is nothing new to Vancouver, but the brutality of the Bacon Brothers—Jonathan, Jarrod, and Jamie—has become legendary. The Notorious Bacon Brothers follows the chaotic rise of these three gangland figures to the pinnacle of Vancouver’s lucrative drug trade. Chronicling not only the Bacon Brothers themselves, but also the gangs they infiltrated on their way to the top, and the catastrophic wave of violence they brought to the streets of Vancouver, the book explores how the bothers’ adeptness at making and breaking allegiances and propensity for violence is now being replicated by gangs across Canada.

Find it here.


A graduate of McMaster University of Hamilton, Ontario, Jerry has worked as a copy editor and designer for the Securities Industry News, the New York Daily News, the Journal News of White Plains, N.Y., and Toronto Star.  He also happens to be married to Tonia Cowan, the Toronto Globe & Mail‘s graphics editor.

Find Jerry’s Twitter feed here.


San Diego-based investigative journalist Caitlin Rother is the author of nine books, including six with a “true crime” bent and one novel.

Her most recent — Lost Girls – was released in 2012. The publicity blurb:

Chelsea King was a popular high school senior, an outstanding achiever determined to make a difference. Amber Dubois loved books and poured her heart into the animals she cared for.


Treasured by their families and friends, both girls disappeared in San Diego County, just eight miles and one year apart. The community’s desperate search led authorities to John Albert Gardner III, a brutal predator hiding in plain sight.

Buy the book here.

One of Caitlin older works — Body Parts — was re-released in October.

The blurb:

When he walked into the Humbolt County Sheriff’s Office in Northern California with a woman’s severed breast in his pocket, 36-year-old Wayne Adam Ford wasn’t even a suspect. But before it was all over, he would be convicted of the grisly torture and murder of four women, two of whom he dismembered. If Ford hadn’t confessed, he’d probably still be out there today.


But he did confess – because he knew he’d kill again. Based on previously sealed testimony and interviews with the key players in the case, Body Parts is a frighteningly intimate look into a twisted man overcome by the horror of what he had done, and powerless to resist his increasingly perverse sexual appetites.

Find it here.

Find all of Caitlin’s books here.


A 1984 graduate of Cal Berkeley, Caitlin earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University in 1987 and then spent a year each at the Springfield-Union News, the Los Angeles Times and the L.A. Daily News before signing on with the Union-Tribune of San Diego. She worked there for 13 years as an investigative reporter before leaving the newspaper world in 2006. She also teaches at UCSD.

Find her web site here and her Twitter feed here.


Steven Hart — a reporter for the Burlington County Times of Willingboro, N.J. — has written two nonfiction books of note, either of which might make an interesting Christmas gift.

His first book from 2007 was The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder, and the Construction of America’s First Superhighway. How interesting is it? Check out the official publicity blurb:

At the dawn of America’s love affair with the automobile, cars and trucks leaving the nation’s largest city were unceremoniously dumped out of the western end of the Holland Tunnel onto local roads wending their way through the New Jersey Meadowlands.


Jersey City mayor Frank Hague — dictator of the Hudson County political machine and a national political player—was a prime mover behind the building of the country’s first “superhighway,” designed to connect the hub of New York City to the United States of America. Hague’s nemesis in this undertaking was union boss Teddy Brandle, and construction of the last three miles of Route 25, later dubbed the Pulaski Skyway, marked an epic battle between big labor and big politics, culminating in a murder and the creation of a motorway so flawed it soon became known as “Death Avenue” —now appropriately featured in the opening sequence of the hit HBO series The Sopranos.

Find it at Amazon.


In his second book — American Dictators: Frank Hague, Nucky Johnson, and the Perfection of the Urban Political Machine, published this fall — Steven took on those same politicians to compare and contrast their rise to power during Prohibition and the Great Depression and how each ran his machine.

Find it here.


A graduate of Rutgers, Steven has worked at the Piscataway-Dunellen Review, the Home News Tribune and at a commercial real estate publication also in Jersey. He also worked as a copy editor for the New York Post. A prolific freelancer, he’s appeared in the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Salon. In addition to his two books above, Stephen has also written two novels…


We All Fall Down (published in 2011) and Echo (published in September).

Find his blog here.

You’re reading the eighth of a series of blog posts offering up ideas for Holiday gift giving, but with items created by your visual journalism colleagues around the world.

The schedule, so far:

DEC. 2: Greeting cards
DEC. 3: Cool stuff
DEC. 4: Homemade jewelry
DEC. 5: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home
DEC. 6: Children’s books

DEC. 9: Comics and cartoons
DEC. 10: Novels
TODAY: Nonfiction books
THURSDAY: Books about work
FRIDAY: Cookbooks, calendars and CDs

Also, check out the gifts for geeky collector-types that I wrote for the O.C. Register‘s Holiday Gift Guide in the Thanksgiving day paper.

Do you know of anything — or anybody — I should add to my list? Give me a ho-ho-holler.

Holiday gift guide for visual journalists: Novels

Why not toss some of your holiday gift budget toward a visual journalist who might be selling just what you need for that special someone on your list?

Today’s topic: Novels…


I’ve written quite a bit over the years about my friend Craig Lancastermost recently, when he left his job as copy desk chief of the Billings (Montana) Gazette, to concentrate full-time on his writing.

1. Craig’s first novel — 600 Hours of Edward, released in October 2009 — completely knocked my socks off.


The official publisher’s blurb:

Edward Stanton is a man hurtling headlong toward middle age. His mental illness has led him to be sequestered in his small house in a small city, where he keeps his distance from the outside world and the parents from whom he is largely estranged. For the most part, Edward sticks to things he can count on…and things he can count. But over the course of 25 days (or 600 hours, as Edward prefers to look at it) several events puncture the walls Edward has built around himself. In the end, he faces a choice: Open his life to experience and deal with the joys and heartaches that come with it, or remain behind his closed door, a solitary soul.

Amazon appears to be out of print copies, so pick one up from Barnes & Noble.

2. Craig’s second novel, The Summer Son, came out in January 2011.


Here’s the official pitch:

Approaching forty, Mitch doesn’t want to become a middle-aged statistic. When his estranged father, Jim, suddenly calls, Mitch’s wife urges him to respond. Ready for a change, Mitch heads to Montana and a showdown that will alter the course of his life. Amid a backdrop of rugged peaks and valleys, the story unfolds: a violent episode that triggered the rift, thirty years of miscommunication, and the possibility of misplaced blame.

Find it here.

3. Craig’s third book — Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure, published in December 2011 — won a gold medal in the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Awards.


The official blurb:

Novelist Craig Lancaster returns to the terrain of his Montana home and takes on the notion of separation in its many forms – from comfort zones, from ideas, from people, from security, from fears. These ten stories delve into small towns and big cities, into love and despair, into what drives us and what scares us, peeling back the layers of our humanity with every page.

Buy it here.

4. Craig returned to Edward for his fourth book, Edward Adrift, which came out in April.


The blurb:

It’s been a year of upheaval for Edward Stanton, a forty-two-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s lost his job. His trusted therapist has retired. His best friends have moved away. And even his nightly ritual of watching Dragnet reruns has been disrupted. All of this change has left Edward, who lives his life on a rigid schedule, completely flummoxed.

But when his friend Donna calls with news that her son Kyle is in trouble, Edward leaves his comfort zone in Billings, Montana, and drives to visit them in Boise, where he discovers Kyle has morphed from a sweet kid into a sullen adolescent. Inspired by dreams of the past, Edward goes against his routine and decides to drive to a small town in Colorado where he once spent a summer with his father—bringing Kyle along as his road trip companion.

Find the book here.

By my count, you should be able to buy all four of Craig’s books for a total of just $38.91, not including tax and shipping. If you have a very special reader on your Christmas list: Do just that. You won’t be sorry.


A product of the University of Texas at Arlington, Craig worked various copy-desk and design positions at the Dayton Daily News, the Anchorage Daily News, the Olympian of Olympia, Wash., and the San Antonio Express-News before joining the San Jose Mercury News in 2000 as sports editor. He moved to Billings in 2006.


Cary, N.C., based free lance reporter, photographer and web designer Mike Emmett writes horror, fantasy and science fiction. He’s put out four books so far…

1. His first, Demon, published in Sept. 2011, is about a small-town journalist whose horror novelist hero has a deep, deep secret.


Mike writes:

Demon is also a tribute to the works of Stephen King, who was kind enough to give me permission to use his characters’ names and fictional places in the books that he had written about over the past 40 years. If you’re a Stephen King fan, you will love Demon.

Buy it here.

2. Eva: A Ghost Story, published in March 2012, is about a couple who quit the rat race, take their life savings and buy a weekly newspaper in a small Connecticut town.

The problem: Something strange is going on at the paper. Something sinister. And it’s not poor copy editing.


Buy it here.

3. Damn It to Hell, published in September 2012, is a collection of 21 short stories Mike wrote between 1980 and 2011.


Buy it here.

4. A Mystical Time, was published this past March.

The synopsis:

An unexpected royalty check allows hack novelist Sean O’Shea to travel the world.


While in Ireland, on a day trip to Kilkenny he meets a fellow Yank at the infamous haunted pub Kyteler’s who tells him a story about Leprechauns and how real they are. When the Leprechaun tale turns to reality, Shaun’s world is changed forever…

Go here to buy it from Amazon. Or, buy it directly from Mike and get him to autograph it for that special someone. Especially if, y’know, that special someone is yourself.


A 1976 graduate of Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., Mike worked as a reporter and copy editor for a number of papers including the Gazette of Chillicothe, Ohio, the Citizen-Journal of Columbus, Ohio, Florida Today of Melbourne, the Times-Union of Jacksonville, Fla. and the Rocky Mountain News of Denver, before joining the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., in 1992.

He was one of the early pioneers of Raleigh’s web site,, in the early 1990s before working with web operations at TotalSports,, the Greenville (S.C.) News and Media General.

Find his web site here.


Longtime reporter, editor and writing coach Bruce DeSilva writes crime novels about “Liam Mulligan, a reporter at a dying Providence newspaper.”

He’s put out two in the series so far: Rogue Island in 2010 and Cliff Walk in 2012.


Cool cover blurb No. 1 from Publisher’s Weekly:

Smart-ass Mulligan is a masterpiece of irreverence and street savvy.

Cool cover blurb No. 2  from Joseph Finder, New York Times best-selling author of Vanished and Buried Secrets:

Bruce DeSilva accomplishes something remarkable: He takes everything we love about the classic hardboiled detective novel and turns it into a story that’s fresh, contemporary, yet timeless.

A 1968 graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Bruce spent 14 years as a reporter for the Providence (R.I.) Journal, and four more at the Hartford Courant.


In 1989, he became a writing coach and executive director of the National Writers Workshop in Hartford. He joined the Associated Press in 1996 as an editor and writing coach. He left the AP in 1999.

He also teaches as an adjunct professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in New York City and works as a journalism consultant.

Find his web site here, his blog here and his Twitter feed here.


Photojournalist Kent Sievers of the World-Herald of Omaha, Neb., published his first novel last year.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

It is the dead of winter. In Omaha, Nebraska’s north downtown, homeless men are disappearing. Alex Capstain sees it when no one else does because he lives among them. For nearly two years he has called a doghouse home. After losing everything to a failing economy, he’s working his way off the street one recycled can and odd job at a time.


Days away from taking the first big steps toward his dream of indoor living and a reunion with a daughter lost in divorce many years before, he’s beaten, robbed and left for dead. The driver of a church van comes to his rescue. Alex has no way of knowing the ride will put him on a collision course with a monster and the decades-old web of murder, corruption and greed that set him loose on the world.

The book is available for Kindle via Amazon and for Nook via Barnes & Noble. As far as I know, neither sells hard copies.


Kent spent 10 years as a freelance shooter before joining the World-Herald in 2001. He also works at the local Apple store, just for the heck of it.

Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.


And for those of you who are hoping to touch the heart of someone very special this holiday season, you might try the direct approach: Words of love.

Los Angeles-based writer Kevin Hollingsworth has published two small collections of romantic prose poetry that might put a smile on your lips. Or, better yet, someone else’s lips.


On the left is Kevin’s 50-page 2009 collection, Wonders. Find it at Amazon for $14.99.

On the right is Romance With a Touch of Love, Kevin’s 2011 work. It’s 30 pages. Amazon lists it at $9.95.


Kevin is a 1992 graduate of UCLA. Find his web site here.

You’re reading the seventh of a series of blog posts offering up ideas for Holiday gift giving, but with items created by your visual journalism colleagues around the world.

The schedule, so far:

DEC. 2: Greeting cards
DEC. 3: Cool stuff
DEC. 4: Homemade jewelry
DEC. 5: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home
DEC. 6: Children’s books

DEC. 9: Comics and cartoons
TODAY: Novels
WEDNESDAY: Nonfiction books

Also, check out the gifts for geeky collector-types that I wrote for the O.C. Register‘s Holiday Gift Guide in the Thanksgiving day paper.

Do you know of anything — or anybody — I should add to my list? Give me a ho-ho-holler.

Holiday gift guide for visual journalists: Comics and cartoons

Why not toss some of your holiday gift budget toward a visual journalist who might be selling just what you need for that special someone on your list?

Today’s topic: Comics and cartoons…

Graphic novel: NAMESAKE

Meg Lavey — a web and mobile news producer and a SMO specialist for the PA Media Group of Harrisburg, Pa. — is the writer for a wonderful web comic called Namesake.

Meg and her Canadian artist pal, Isabelle Melançon, tell the story of a young woman who learns she has the mystical ability to travel between worlds. The problem is: The world she finds herself on is basically Oz — you know, from the Wizard of Oz books.

She meets people — or people track her — from other works of fiction. In fact, the first chapter of the story opened as a fictionalized Charles Dodgson is startled by someone coming through from the other side…


…that someone turns out to be someone he knows.


And, yes, nefarious forces are at work. All this is unfolding in graphic novel format at a rate of three pages a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

I’ve been following the story since it started in October 2010, and I’ll say this: The story is extremely well-drawn and well-told. Megs and Isa are doing a fabulous job. I’m totally hooked.


Huge chunks of the Namesake story have been issued as Book 1 and Book 2.


I have Book 1 and I love it. Book 2 should be arriving shortly. They’re available as softcovers for $20 each or $35 for both. Or, you can buy them for $30 each in hardcover or $50 for both.

In their online store, you can also find a number of interesting prints and posters by Isabelle.


Find the Namesake web site here and the Namesake store here.

I wrote a Q&A with Meg when they launched Namesake. Find that here.


A 2002 graduate of the University of Alabama, Meg worked for the student paper — the Crimson White — and was a member of ‘Bama’s famed Million Dollar Band. Meg worked at the Selma (Ala.) Times-Journal and the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier before joining the Lewiston, Maine, Sun Journal in 2004. She moved to the Arizona Daily Star of Tucson in 2006 but left the newspaper business two years later.

She returned in 2010 with the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa. I shadowed her one night, in her first month there. In addition, Meg is a tech blogger for the Unofficial Apple Weblog.

Find her portfolio here and her Twitter feed here.

Comic collections: COOL JERK

My friend Paul Horn “retired” in 2006 as a graphic artist at the San Diego Union-Tribune to concentrate on the comic strip he’s drawn since his college days at the University of Nevada, Reno.

That strip — now called Cool Jerk — is a weekly web comic. Paul’s been drawing it for so long, now, that he’s built up an impressive catalog of collected editions.


The four Cool Jerk books each sell for $12. The Doc Splatter book — which emphasizes the ever-popular horror genre — is just $8.

The Donut Tattoo book is a book containing commentary, recipes and cartoons. Paul illustrated this for his wife, news designer and food blogger Darlene Horn. Now in its third printing, this book is just $5.

I own every one of them and I love them. That special comics fan on your Christmas list will, too. Order them here.

If you scroll down that page, you’ll find all sorts of other goodies: Cool Jerk t-shirts, buttons, canvas panels and so on.


A 1991 graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, Paul spent a year as an illustrator for the Daily Sparks Tribune of Sparks, Nev., before becoming assistant graphics editor of the Reno Gazette-Journal in 1990. He moved to the San Diego Union-Tribune in 1994 and worked there nearly 12 years.

I wrote about him most recently during the big San Diego Comicon. Find that here.

Find Paul’s web site here, his infographics samples here and his Twitter feed here.

Find Darlene’s blog, My Burning Kitchen, here. Find her Twitter feed here.


My old pal Mike Fisher of the San Antonio Express News is a huge name in science fiction and horror circles. He’s cartooned for Starlog magazine since the 1980s. He also publishes the occasional fanzine comic, featuring his ultimate geekazoid character, 3D Pete.



His last few issues have been called Star Babe Invasion specials.


That’s the current issue at lower right. Mike’s selling it for just $5 at his web site.

Sounds like perfect stocking stuffer material for that sci-fi fanboy fanperson geek on your list.


I’ve known Mike a long, long time. When I got my first fulltime newspaper job in Athens, Ga., he was an artist at our sister paper in Augusta. Later, I moved to the Rock Hill, S.C., Herald and he moved to Charlotte (N.C.) Observer. Where he eventually worked his way up to graphics editor.

He spent several years with Knight-Ridder’s TV animation studio, News in Motion, in Washington, D.C. He’s been with the Express-News for several years, now. I wrote about him most recently here.

Find Mike’s web site here and his YouTube channel here.

Find a nice Q&A with him here.

Indie comic collection: LATE NIGHTS AT KINKO’S

Will Pfeifer is a communication design specialist for the Rosecrance Health Network in Rockford, Ill.

In addition, he’s worked as a freelance writer for DC comics: Aquaman, Catwoman, H.E.R.O. and a handful of others.

Will self-published a collection of his old self-published work. According to the blurb:

This book collects a decade’s worth of self-published work, including eight issues of the pop culture satire Violent Man and various other short strips, behind-the-scenes drawings and oddball Christmas cards.


Complete with pages and pages of self-serving annotations explaining all the outdated jokes!

The book is 233 pages for just $12. Buy it here.


A 1989 graduate of Kent State Univeristy, Will spent 18 years as a designer, editor and movie columnist for the Rockford Register Star. He left newspapers in 2012. Find Will’s personal blog here.

Issue 1 of a comic: TOMBSTONE OF THE DEAD

Dan Taylor is a freelance comic book writer right here in Orange County, Calif. He’s the writer and co-creator of the web comic Hero Happy Hour, about the bar where superheroes hang out when their working day is done.

As much as I’d love to see a print version of Hero Happy Hour, one doesn’t exist yet. That I know of. However, Dan does have a few swag-like items for sale via his Zazzle store.


Check it out here.

In the meantime, if there’s someone on your list who loves small-press comics and zombies and owns a Kindle, you’re in luck. Dan’s collaboration with artist Dan Lauer, Tombstone of the Dead


…tells the story of Wyatt Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and Doc Holliday. They defeated the Clanton brothers in a soon-to-be-famous gunfight, but their troubles are just beginning. Because the dead have come back to life in Tombstone.

Go here to find issue one for the Kindle for under a buck-and-a-half.


A graduate of California State University in Long Beach, Dan spent two-and-a-half years as an editor with IDW publishing before going it alone. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.

You’re reading the sixth of a series of blog posts offering up ideas for Holiday gift giving, but with items created by your visual journalism colleagues around the world.

The schedule, so far:

DEC. 2: Greeting cards
DEC. 3: Cool stuff
DEC. 4: Homemade jewelry
DEC. 5: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home
DEC. 6: Children’s books

TODAY: Comics and cartoons
WEDNESDAY: Nonfiction books

Also, check out the gifts for geeky collector-types that I wrote for the O.C. Register‘s Holiday Gift Guide in the Thanksgiving day paper.

Do you know of anything — or anybody — I should add to my list? Give me a ho-ho-holler.


Holiday gift guide for visual journalists: Children’s books

Why not toss some of your holiday gift budget toward a visual journalist who might be selling just what you need for that special someone on your list?

Today’s topic: Children’s books…


If you have kids on your Holiday shopping list and you’d like to be the one uncle or aunt or family friend who buys them something other than shoot-’em-up video games, then try a book by longtime newspaper illustrator Don Tate.

Don has been working on the side as a children’s book illustrator for more than a decade with more than 40 books to his credit. Two years ago, however, Lee & Low Books published the first one Don’s actually written.

It’s called: It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw.

The official blurb:

As an enslaved boy on an Alabama farm in the early 1860s, Bill Traylor worked in the hot cotton fields. After slavery ended, Bill’s family stayed on the land as sharecroppers.

By the time he was 79, Bill was all alone in the world. Lonely, poor and eventually homeless, he wandered the downtown streets of Montgomery, Alabama. But deep within himself Bill had a reservoir of memories of his lifetime spent on the land. When he was 83 years old, these memories blossomed into pictures. Bill began to draw people and places from his earlier life, as well as scenes from the busy city around him.

Don wrote this one. But the publisher had someone else illustrate it: R. Gregory Christie. Find the book at Amazon for $15.34.

There are lots of other books out there written by others and illustrated by Don, however.

On the left: She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick tells the story of the only woman inducted into the baseball hall of fame. Find it at Amazon for $14.52.


In the center: Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne Naden, is the true story of a young boy in rural, segregated South Carolina who faces the daunting task of applying for his first library card. The boy grows up to become NASA astronaut Ron McNair. $14.52 at Amazon.

On the right: I am My Grandpa’s Enkelin by Wangerin Walter Jr. is a touching story of a little girl who learns much about life and death from her grandfather, a German immigrant farmer. $7.58 at Amazon.

Here’s the blurb for Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite by Anna Harwell Celenza:

Ellington’s band members were not so sure that a classical ballet could become a cool-cat jazz number. But Duke and Billy, inspired by their travels and by musical styles past and present, infused the composition with Vegas glitz, Hollywood glamour, and even a little New York jazz.

That book includes a CD and sells for $17.05 at Amazon.

Don’t most recent project is The Cart that Carried Martin by Eve Bunting.



The book was released on Nov. 1. Amazon is selling it for $12.20.

And yes, Don has more more work on the way. He’s sold his second book as an author. The tentative title: The Slave Poet of Chapel Hill, to be published by Peachtree Publishers.


A 1984 graduate of Des Moines (Iowa) Area Community College, Don had been working at the Des Moines Register for nearly two years when I became graphics editor there in April 1999. Shortly before the end of that year, he left for Austin (I have that effect on some people).

Don spent about 12 years as a news artist for the Austin American-Statesman until his job was phased out last winter when Cox newspapers went to a hubbed editing and design system. Since then, he’s gone full-time with his illustrating and writing of children’s books.

Find Don’s personal web site here, his blog here and his Twitter feed here. Find his Facebook fan page here.


If your little reader is just a little too young for Don’t fare, perhaps a simple learn-to-read alphabet book might be in order. Dan Garrow — graphics director for the Wilmington, Del., News Journal — published one such book in 2011 called Alphasillymals.


Dan’s illustrations accompany fun rhymes involving animals and, of course, the ABC’s.

1312AlphasillymalsSample02 1312AlphasillymalsSample03

The book sells for $26.99 softcover and $36.99 in hardcover with a dust jacket. Order Alphasillymals here.


A product of Buffalo State College, Dan has free-lanced for the Washington Post Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, the New York Times and BusinessWeek. He’s worked at the News Journal for more than 30 years.

You’re reading the fifth of a series of blog posts offering up ideas for Holiday gift giving, but with items created by your visual journalism colleagues around the world.

The schedule, so far:

DEC. 2: Greeting cards
DEC. 3: Cool stuff
DEC. 4: Homemade jewelry
DEC. 5: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home
TODAY: Children’s books

MONDAY: Comics and cartoons
TUESDAY: Novels and fiction books
WEDNESDAY: Nonfiction books

Also, check out the gifts for geeky collector-types that I wrote for the O.C. Register‘s Holiday Gift Guide in the Thanksgiving day paper.

Do you know of anything — or anybody — I should add to my list? Give me a ho-ho-holler.

Holiday gift guide for visual journalists: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home

Why not toss some of your holiday gift budget toward a visual journalist who might be selling just what you need for that special someone on your list?

Today’s topic: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home…


Former news designer Katie Gonzalez has an interesting hobby: She’s a bookbinder. She specializes in handmade journals, scrapbooks, photo albums, sketchbooks and items that you might typically think of for wedding or baby shower gifts. But that doesn’t make them any less suitable for holiday gift giving.

Among the gorgeous handmade offerings from Katie’s Etsy store is this peacock feather-patterned journal or sketchbook.


The book was sewn with waxed linen thread, just the way the Coptics did it, Katie says. “Pages lay flat when open for easy journaling or sketching.”

The book is 5 x 6.5 inches, contains 120 pages and sells for $70.

This 3.5 x 5-inch journal features a black leather case, screenprinted with an original pattern.


That one is $45.

This one holds 120 3 x 4.5-inch pages and sells for $55.


Katie spent the summer of 2006 in Cortona, Italy, studying bookmaking at a medieval bindery and learning how to make paper by hand. She really knows her stuff.

Here’s one more. Katie writes:

I bound together a variety of smooth and textured papers, including in gray, green, brown, white, and cream.


I sewed in the Italian Longstitch binding style, which shows off the white stitching on the spine while allowing the pages to lay flat for easy journaling or sketching.

The book is 3.5 x 5 inches, 140 pages and sells for $45.

Katie also does a little photography. She has a few items at her store featuring scenes of historic King Street in her hometown — Charleston, S.C., one of the world’s most gorgeous cities — as reflected in store windows.


That particular 11 x 17 print sells for $25, unframed.

Find Katie’s Etsy store here. Find her bookbinding and design blog here.


A 2008 graduate of the University of Georgia, Katie interned at WNC magazine and then spent three years as a designer at the News Virginian of Waynesboro, Va. She left that paper in 2011. She’s now a teaching artist in the Watkins Community Education Program in Nashville, Tenn. Her husband, Tony Gonzalez, is a reporter for the Tennessean.

Find Katie’s news design portfolio here and her blog here.


Lindsey Turner of the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville offers what she calls “salty and Southern-fried pretties” at her Etsy shop.

If you give bottles of wine for Christmas gifts, you might consider hanging one of these gift tags on it.


Eight bucks for a set of ten, including twine.

Lindsey also sells a variety of holiday greeting cards, including this modern one…


…this naughty one…


…and this one for that special someone who was born on or around Christmas Day.


How would Lindsey think of making something like that? She was born on Christmas Day herself, of course.

The birthmas cards cost $1.50 each. The others are six for $10. Envelopes are included, of course.

Looking for a little something for your boss? How about these note cards?


Those cost $8.50 for ten.

Lindsey also sells a number of funny poster prints. I’d kind of like to see this on the wall of a cube farm.


The print is five inches square, with a generous white border to help with framing. She sells that one for $5.

For that lover of vintage cars — or vintage anything, for that matter — consider this picture of Memphis for that same price.


Lindsey also sells this 8 x 10-inch print of an old shack that reminds you of an American flag.


Lindsey writes:

I took this photo on my family’s farm land in West Tennessee. For me, it has always served as a reminder of the stoic beauty of rural America.

That one comes on archival photo paper for $18. Other sizes are also available.

Find Lindsey’s Etsy store here.


A 2004 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Lindsey interned at the Birmingham News. She spent spent seven years at the Memphis Commercial Appeal as a designer, copy editor, blogger and assistant art director. She moved to the Gannett hub in Nashville in 2012, where she leads the team that designs papers in Mississippi, Alabama and Virginia.

Find Lindsey’s portfolio here and her Twitter feed here.


Christina Cathcart — a designer for the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky. — sells “unique and modern finds for your home” via her Etsy store.

Among the items she’s currently listing: This ceramic bowl featuring hand-painted birds and a textured background.


That was created in Nove, Italy, in the 1960s by Alessio Tasca, who Christina points out, is “one of the most important European ceramists.” It sells for $38.

This ceramic policeman was made in England by Carlton Ware.


There’s a slot in the top, so he can serve as a bank. The price: $65.

Christina writes:

This sweet red-headed girl was created in 1975 by the immensely popular Lisa Larson for Gustavsberg in Sweden.


Part of the Sekelskifte group, this figurine was one of six little boys and girls created to represent turn-of-the-century children. This series was only made from 1975 to 1983.

“Anna” sells for $75.

This gorgeous little number is a desk lamp. Seriously.


Made in the 1970s, it still works just fine. Christina is selling it for $150.

And Christina writes:

These beautiful golden cups were designed by Lagardo Tackett for Schmid Porcelain.


The cups date from the 1950s. Christina is selling the set for $48.

Find Christina’s Etsy store here.


A 2003 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, Christina spent a year at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune before moving to Louisville in 2006.

Find her portfolio site here and her Twitter feed here.


I can’t really list all these Etsy online stores without mentioning my sister-in-law’s store, BugaBoo Boutique.

Especially when Karla Apple sells handmade items like this one:


If you happen to have a loved one on the autism spectrum, then you know exactly what that is: It’s a weighted lap pad. There’s something about the weight that gives comfort those those with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Karla writes:

My daughter loves hers! She uses it to sit to eat dinner, at night to calm down, when watching TV, and takes it to school to help with sitting in her desk.

The pad is filled with poly pellets individual compartments that keep the weight distributed. It’s completely washable. Karla made this one with fabric featuring some old movie from the 1970s. You’ve probably never heard of it.

She’s selling it for $25. She also has full-sized weighted blankets for sale, too.

Karla also lists a number of items like baby onesies…


… and gift sets consisting of a onesie and matching burp cloths. The sets generally go for $18. That dinosaur example above is a stand-alone item. It sells for $10.

Karla also makes what she calls “pixie handkerchief-hem twirly skirts.”


She can make those to order for $25. Although you have to admit, that Clemson one is pretty cute.

She might charge double for South Carolina Gamecock twirly skirts — especially after last weekend. You’ll have to ask her.

And if you’re shopping for someone who’d look pretty silly in a twirly skirt, consider this clever way of converting your extra coffee mugs into a desk or utility caddy.


Karla writes:

Instead of giving your teachers a mug, get them one of these to put over one of the many mugs they will receive!

The price? Just eight bucks.

Find Karla’s Etsy store here.

You’re reading the fourth of a series of blog posts offering up ideas for Holiday gift giving, but with items created by your visual journalism colleagues around the world.

This week’s schedule:

DEC. 2: Greeting cards
DEC. 3: Cool stuff
DEC. 4: Homemade jewelry
TODAY: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home
FRIDAY: Children’s books

DEC. 9: Comics and cartoons
DEC. 10: Novels and fiction books
DEC. 11: Nonfiction books

Also, check out the gifts for geeky collector-types that I wrote for the O.C. Register‘s Holiday Gift Guide in the Thanksgiving day paper.

Do you know of anything — or anybody — I should add to my list? Give me a ho-ho-holler.

Holiday gift guide for visual journalists: Homemade jewelry

Why not toss some of your holiday gift budget toward a visual journalist who might be selling just what you need for that special someone on your list?

Today’s topic: Homemade jewelry…


Longtime sports and features designer Reagan Branham makes the most interesting conversation pieces for brainy types: Jewelry made of used Scrabble pieces.

She makes earrings…


…necklaces and bracelets…


…and Christmas ornaments.



Prices on these items range from $30 or so for the larger ones to just eight bucks for that ornament. Which means you can afford to pick up a lot of stocking stuffers at Reagan’s Etsy store.

In addition, she has other items as well. Such as drink coasters.


Reagan sells those two for $12, four for $24 or six for $36.

She also has a variety of tyopgraphical-themed wall posters.


Those go for $22 each. And her gorgeous graphic calendars sell for $20 each.


This one features simple but lovely designs…


…but this one is a guide to styles of chairs.


Find Regan’s store here.


A 1998 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Reagan interned at the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill., and the State Journal-Register of Springfield before joining the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as a news, sports and features designer. She moved to the Post-Dispatch of St. Louis, Mo., in 2000 as a sports designer and moved to features six years later.

Reagan left the Post-Dispatch in 2011. She’s now the marketing coordinator for HOK, an architecture firm in St. Louis noted for designing sports facilities.

Find Reagan’s portfolio here and her Twitter feed here.


Recent UNC graduate Kelly McHugh Chtcheprov makes some very interesting necklaces, bracelets and so on with a geographic flavor.

Being a Clemson fan — and being 3,000 miles from home this football season — this one caught my attention mighty fast.


Note the little heart where Clemson should be. Kelly makes these for a variety of states, universities and regions. That particular one is fairly typical of the line. It costs $15.95.

A few more varieties on that same theme: Necklaces for UNC, Duke or N.C. State fans…


…and a few other states you might have heard of.


She even sells one for South Africa! Sweet!


Kelly and Pavel make those out of other materials, with other finishes and with silver or gold chains of various lengths. You’ll have to check her inventory at her Etsy store or ask if there’s a particular variety you want.

In addition to state outlines, they make monograms…


…snowflakes — this one, by the way, is acrylic and 14k gold and costs $29.95…


…and a variety of Christmas ornaments.


Find Kelly’s Etsy store here.


A 2012 graduate of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Kelly spent her senior year as visual managing editor of the student paper there, the Daily Tar Heel. She served an internship in 2011 in the infographics department at National Geographic and then worked as a fellow on UNC’s annual Powering a Nation project. She joined Industry Standard Research of Cary, N.C., a year ago as an infographics designer and social media expert.

Find Kelly’s portfolio here and her Twitter feed here.

You’re reading the third of what I expect to be several blog posts over the next few days, offering up ideas for Holiday gift giving, but with items created by your visual journalism colleagues around the world.

This week’s schedule:

MONDAY: Greeting cards
TUESDAY: Cool stuff
TODAY: Homemade jewelry
THURSDAY: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home
FRIDAY: Children’s books

Also, check out the gifts for geeky collector-types that I wrote for the O.C. Register‘s Holiday Gift Guide in the Thanksgiving day paper.

Do you know of anything — or anybody — I should add to my list? Give me a ho-ho-holler.

Holiday gift guide for visual journalists: Cool stuff

Why not toss some of your holiday gift budget toward a visual journalist who might be selling just what you need for that special someone on your list?

Today’s topic: Cool stuff…


Jennifer Borresen — graphics editor of the Sarasota, Fla., Herald-Tribune — has an amazing store at Zazzle where she sells some of the smartest, most cleverly-illustrated items you’ll ever see anywhere.

Here are just a few T-shirts you’ll find there, for example.


I’m not sure which of those I like best. But you’ll have to agree: There’s something unique there for everyone.

Hey, fantasy football season is winding down. So how about the ultimate gift for the ultimate fantasy football coach?


Of course — Zazzle being Zazzle — all of Jennifer’s designs are available in your choice of colors on your choice of items.

Like, for example, iPhone covers.


You can get a cover for the iPhone 4 or 4S (left) or the 5 (right). And you can get either the black ninja or the pink ninja on either.

Naturally, Jennifer also sells iPad covers…


…coffee mugs…

…key chains…

…and even neckties.


And that’s just a few samples. There are lots more to choose from. You can’t possibly go wrong. Jennifer’s Zazzle store is called Fresh Roasted. Find it here.

A 1996 graduate of Sarasota’s Ringling School of Design, Jennifer spent three years as an artist for the Tampa Tribune before returning to Sarasota in 2001.

Find her portfolio here and her sketch blog here.


Matt Erickson — a writer and editor of ever-popular mixed-martial arts coverage — has been dabbling for several years, now, in high dynamic range photography.

“Dabbling” as in: Knocking our socks off. Feast your eyes on this image from a Packers vs. Bears game at Soldier Field.

Or how about this picture of a high school football field in a small town in Indiana on a Friday evening?


Or this haunting view of downtown Chicago?

I wrote up Matt’s HDR work a couple of years ago, including his explanation of how it all works. Read up on that here.

As you can see, Matt’s really, really good at this. His work is available via RedBubble as greeting cards ($2.60 each),  23.2 x 15.3-inch wall posters ($14.04 each) and high-end photographic prints (glossy or matte finish; also available matted and/or framed, all at a variety of prices).

He’s been all over, so you can find images he’s shot in New Orleans…


…San Francisco…


…and Walt Disney World.


I’m sure you saw the story recently about how the famed Billy Goat Tavern beneath Michigan Avenue in Chicago may have to move while the building that holds it is renovated. If you have a native of the Windy City on your shopping list, might I suggest…


Jaw-dropping work. And it’d look great on any wall. Find Matt’s RedBubble shop here.

A 1997 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Matt immediately joined the the Times of Munster, Ind., and worked there for 13 years as a designer and, eventually, director of presentation and visuals. He spent time as a regional director for the Society for News Design and coordinated the SND annual contest in 2005.

Matt left the Times in 2010 to strike out on his own as a freelance sportswriter specializing in coverage of mixed martial arts. He spent a year or so working with and joined — a part the USA Today media group — in 2012.

Find his Twitter feed here.

You’re reading the second of what I expect to be several blog posts over the next few days, offering up ideas for Holiday gift giving, but with items created by your visual journalism colleagues around the world.

This week’s schedule:

MONDAY: Greeting cards
TODAY: Cool stuff
WEDNESDAY: Homemade jewelry
THURSDAY: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home
FRIDAY: Children’s books

Also, check out the gifts for geeky collector-types that I wrote for the O.C. Register‘s Holiday Gift Guide in the Thanksgiving day paper.

Do you know of anything I should add to my list? Give me a ho-ho-holler.

Holiday gift guide for visual journalists: Greeting cards

Why not toss some of your holiday gift budget toward a visual journalist who might be selling just what you need for that special someone on your list?

Today’s topic: Greeting Cards…


If you have copy editing on your mind this holiday season, then you simply must send these out to your friends and family:


Here’s the inside:


These 5×7-inch cards go for $3.50 each — or five for $12 — from Papersaurus Creative, a greeting card design company launched by former newspaper designer Sara Hickman-Himes of Rochester, N.Y.

Find those copy editor cards here. And if they look a little familiar — yes, I wrote about them last year, too.

Sara has a number of interesting items for sale at papersaurus — some of them a bit naughty, some of them seasonal…


…and some of them neither.


A particularly nice choice this year might be one that has an oblique tie to a TV show that you might have enjoyed.


Here’s the inside of that one.


Find the Papersaurus Creative web site here.


A 2002 graduate of Kent State University, Sara spent two years as a copy editor and designer for the Marion (Ohio) Star before moving to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in 2004. There, she designed A1 as well as the weekly entertainment section. In 2008, she was named art director of the Gannett News Service’s Insider magazine.

Sara went freelance in 2011. Find her web site here and her Twitter feed here.


If you’re interested in a more traditional approach to your Christmas cards, then consider the Red Letter Paper Company, founded by former newspaper art director Stephanie Hinderer.

A few samples of “No Vacancy,” Stephanie’s line of religious-themed Christmas cards:

The 4.25 x 5.5 cards come in packs of five; envelopes included, of course. Most of these run $16 per pack. Ten percent of all Christmas card sales goes to

Stephanie also sells a copy editing-themed Christmas card:



In addition, of course, Stephanie sells cards on other topics and art prints as well. Find the Red Letter Paper Company here.


A 2004 graduate of Shorter College in Rome, Ga., Stephanie served a year as managing editor of the school’s student paper and then two years as editor in chief. She spent two years as a copy editor for the Daily Times in Salisbury, Md., before moving to the Metro tabloids of New York, Boston and Philadelphia in 2007. She was promoted to national art director in 2011.

Stephanie left newspapers in 2012 and moved to Santa Fe, where she art directs the Kolibri Languages guides to French lifestyle, manners and language. Find her blog here and her Twitter feed here.

I last wrote about Stephanie’s greeting card work here.

This is the first of what I expect to be several blog posts over the next few days, offering up ideas for Holiday giftgiving, but with items created by your visual journalism colleagues around the world.

This week’s schedule:

TODAY: Greeting cards
TUESDAY: Cool stuff
WEDNESDAY: Homemade jewelry
THURSDAY: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home
FRIDAY: Children’s books

Also, check out the gifts for geeky collector-types that I wrote for the O.C. Register‘s Holiday Gift Guide in the Thanksgiving day paper.

Do you know of anything I should add to my list? Give me a ho-ho-holler.

The story behind a classic 1965 album cover

A lot of my visual journalism friends would love to design movie titles instead.

Very cool. But my secret passion was always record album covers. I even have a few framed on the wall… back in Virginia Beach.


When I went off to college in 1980, I declared a double-major in communications (I wanted to be a sportswriter) and art (I wanted to design album covers). Lucky for me the design and newspaper worlds converged at some point. Because I found CD design not nearly as interesting as record album design was. And hardly anyone designs covers for MP3s.

But still…

All this is to explain my interest — other than the obvious — in this cover for Herb Alpert‘s 1965 album Whipped Cream and Other Delights.


The reason I bring it up: The Seattle Times this week reposted a story from last year in which staffer Eric Lacitis interviewed the model for that cover. She’s now 77 years old.

An excerpt:

Payment would be around $1,500 ($11,000 in today’s dollars), plus expenses.

The shoot began midmorning and lasted through the afternoon. Erickson put on a bikini, but with the straps down.

She was 29 and three months pregnant. “But I wasn’t showing,” she says.

Erickson sat on a stool and from the waist down, [photographer Peter Whorf] placed on her a white Christmas tree blanket.

Then shaving cream was sprayed on Erickson. Under the bright lights, whipping cream would melt, although it was real whipping on top of her head.

The shoot kept going, Erickson remembers, and she didn’t notice that the shaving cream kept slipping down.

Months later, Whorf mailed her two outtakes.

“He sent them to shock me. And it did shock me. I screamed,” says Erickson. “I was a Christian girl.”

There’s much more. Read it here.

Thanks to KPCC’s Melanie Sill for posting about this today on Facebook.

An off-topic question from a young journalist

While you’re doing favors for me today, how about answering a question for a young female journalist?


Rachel Schallom of the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., asks:

Working women — especially working mothers — have been all the rage on the blog scene lately.

This has prompted some great conversations among female journalists. Some young female journalists and I were discussing this post on women changing their last name when getting married.

One of the arguments to keep the maiden name has been maintaining a byline that readers are used to, which got me thinking: Do any newspapers run something cute when a reporter gets married along the lines of, “Notice something different? She got married!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that, so I’d think not. But admittedly, I come from this from a 51-year-old male perspective. Meaning I’m oblivious.

Any thoughts? Comments? Experiences to share? Megan Lavey-Heaton, I suspect you have an opinion on this, right?

Also: Rachel wrote back a short time later and asked me to edit in a note that makes it clear that she is not engaged. She’s just curious.

I’m too lazy to do that, so I’ll just add that here.

The coolest thing I’ve seen lately: Really cool DVD package design

While I’m on my cross-country trek this week, a number of visual journalists around the country are lending a hand by telling us what is the coolest thing they’ve seen lately.

Today, Michael Higdon — editorial systems administrator for Swift Communications in Carson City, Nev. — shares something that…

…hits both of yours and my main criteria for anything: really awesome art and Star Trek.


That’s the new packaging for Star Trek: The Next Generation DVDs that go on sale in April. Each season features the same snazzy treatment with a different character.

130225CoolThingStTngDvd02 130225CoolThingStTngDvd07 130225CoolThingStTngDvd06 130225CoolThingStTngDvd05 130225CoolThingStTngDvd04 130225CoolThingStTngDvd03

Michael tells us:

I know it’s not big, but as far as Star Trek art is concerned, that’s pretty high end compared to the usual logo treatments, even compared to the Blu-ray boxes which are pretty uninteresting looking.

Earlier in our series of “the coolest thing I’ve seen lately”…