Resources – Tools – Inspiration
In order to create anything we all have to work with tools. For website, blogging, writing, and image creation these are the tools that I personally use and some of my favourite sources of inspiration. These are tried and true resources and day-in, day-out they get the job done for me. Some are widely known resources but some may be lesser known to you. I list them here because each one has been beneficial to me in my own work; I know them to be reliable and I am comfortable in recommending them. This list definitely reflects my own preferences. I cannot guarantee that your experience in using any of them will be like mine, but I can say that if I have included a tool in this list it has thus far worked well for me. If you have a tip on a resource or tool you love using that I haven’t mentioned here, please send me a link to explore! I am always grateful for helpful tools, tips, and resources!
Jon Collin McMinn
Jon Collin McMinn is my web-designer and web master and I have never enjoyed working with a web-designer more. He is intelligent, insightful, inspiring, and above all else – cheerfully calm, especially under pressure. I like working with Jon Collin so much I almost hesitate to share his name and contact source for fear of everyone else claiming his limited time and leaving me none.
Namecheap is the domain registry that I use and feel confident in recommending. They are reliable, reasonably priced, do good follow up and have good customer support.
I have looked at probably most fonts sites and out of all of them My Fonts remains my favourite of them all. The range of font styles and designers, the organization of content, the functionality of the site, the reasonable cost, ease of acquiring the fonts, and the fantastic newsletter about font designers and their work just keep me hooked year after year. I believe all of my specialty fonts have come through My Fonts for both MAC and PC, print and web use. I am always delighted to recommend them.
World Press is, of course, essentially the gold-standard of web site platforms for most of us. I looked at several other platforms to run my site from, but Word Press is still unparalleled for user ease, accessibility, and range of templates on a nimble, well supported framework. While I can conceive of moving to a different framework and platform someday when my needs have changed significantly, it is not this day. And not this year.
Hands down, Laura Worthington, is my favourite font designer. She designed the beautiful and useful script font – Origins – which you see used on every watermarked image I share. Every time I go through a font list and find something I love, almost every time it is one of Laura Worthingon’s.
Adobe Typekit is the source that I most respect and trust for web use worthy Adobe fonts – including the beautiful font family for Arno Pro.
Elegant Themes offers an impressive array of theme styles and capabilities. I have looked at easily more than a thousand templates, tried other companies and themes, and yet found my self right back to the solid design and stability of Elegant Themes. The theme this website is designed with is an Elegant Theme template – Divi – as recommended by my web-developer Jon Collin McMinn.
Vault Press has done a fabulous job for me over the years I have been using them and I have no hesitation recommending them!
I have used a variety of web-hosts over the years, some with better service levels than others, and am currently using Blue Host. It is well supported technically and, like Elegant Themes, very reasonably priced for range of its service offering.
Writing & Blogging
If you are even remotely thinking about starting a blog or expanding one, Jeff Goins is THE writer you want to connect with first. He is in real life everything he sells himself to be. He is wise beyond his years, kind, humble, smart about this business, generous and learning all the time himself. I have found Jeff to be an anchoring voice of sanity amidst a massive sea of noisy voices and stress. His core values are adhered to faithfully through each of his various products and he offers a lot of wonderful material for free to get people started.
I learned about Tim Grahl through Jeff Goins. Tim is the author of “The First 1000 copies” and the creator of Out:Think and Instant Bestseller. I have to say that taking the “Instant Bestseller” course has been deeply thought altering for me about the real nature of marketing. I am so grateful that he has taken the time to put this course together and present it the way that he has. When you reach the stage of thinking about platform building and market development for a book you will find sound guidance from Tim. I heartily recommend him and this program.
Steve Laube is far and away my favourite literary agent. I hold him in very high regard and there are hundreds of others who share that same opinion with me. Steve has been in the publishing industry for 33 years, won multiple awards, represents a remarkable bank of marvelous authors, and has made significant contributions not only the publishing industry but to the quality of the written word that been made available to all of us as readers. He nurtures, guides, protects, and negotiates the maze of the publishing process for those writers he represents. If you EVER have an opportunity to hear Steve speak or to meet him, take it. Steve is really one of the very best in the business.
Michael Hyatt is a tremendous voice for empowering writers, leaders, and entrepreneurs to become intentional, skilled and confident in their roles as leaders. He is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, author of the best-selling book “Platform – How to get noticed in a Noisy World” and he is the creator of Platform University. Michael has a huge following and he deserves it. He is consistent in providing value with everything he sends out and he is generous in what he shares. The products he offers for free are valuable and the products that he offers for a fee are worth what they cost. I am not able to implement everything Michael teaches but I respect him and learn from him every week. His is one of about 3 blogs I follow to learn about web-publishing and reaching people with a message. There are many people talking about this field but Michael is one of those really worth listening to.
Donald Miller is the author of Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and he is the founding Director of Storyline, an organization that helps people live better stories. Storyline offers a fantastic blog, a beautiful life-planning program called Creating Your Life Plan, an incredible conference, and a potentially life-altering workshop called Story Brand. I cannot rave enough about Story Brand! The material that Donald Miller offers is very rich and like anything of value, it will require some real work. The effort is worth more than you can imagine.
Scrivener is an award-winning “writer’s writing software,” – dramatically exceeding the features and usability of Microsoft Office Word and Pages for MAC. This extraordinary piece of software is designed for authors of long manuscripts like novels or research papers requiring the storing, organizing, and access to a large amount of data supporting the creation of a complex document. It helps manage the formatting issues of the document allowing writers to focus on content creation and to accomplish that all-important first draft. And it is designed to help writers through every phase of the writing process all the way through to the end shipping. While it isn’t really designed to be a shared work type of experience like Google docs is, Scrivener can be used collaboratively and successfully. It interfaces beautifully with other tools like Evernote and is very, very reasonably priced with coupons being available through various writing organizations like National Novel Writing Month – otherwise known as Nanowrimo.
For many writers, Grammar Girl is the end of the line in terms of quickly resolving those tricky grammar questions. This is a great resource. Funny, clear, and easy to access. I am genuinely grateful for Grammar Girl and admire the real woman behind it.
While Scrivener is unparalleled in its usefulness for writers it can prove daunting to learn for many folks – including myself and even Michael Hyatt. An enterprising user of Scrivener, Joseph Michael saw a need that he could meet and created a remarkable tutorial program for Scrivener to help authors by-pass the discouraging learning curve. Learn Scrivener Fast is the easiest and most accessible program available to master Scrivener quickly. Several levels of the program are offered and at least from my perspective worth every penny!
All of us at some point need to ask someone about a specific grammatical issue. Perhaps it’s the proper placement of a possessive apostrophe with a name that ends with an S, or perhaps it’s whether to underline a book title or put it into italics. If you write, you will need to ask a question about grammar at some time, even if you are a seasoned writer. This site has been very helpful for me over the years.
I shoot with Canon digital equipment and am especially pleased with Canon’s professional grade lenses. While a good camera body is important, nothing supersedes the importance of the lens except the eye and mind of the photographer. Canon’s EOS series is great, so is their Mark series; and their lenses are fantastic.
While there are a multitude of cloud storage services, Dropbox is where I started and I am still with them. Simple, straightforward, widely known, most of my clients are familiar with Dropbox and are able, without any hoopla, to access the image folders I send to them. Over a six year period, Dropbox has been reliable, reasonably priced, and secure enough for me to be confident in continuing to use their service for myself, my family and my clients.
Kubota Image Tools (for image processing)
Kubota Image Tools transformed my images and I am grateful every time I work with Kubota Actions to the photographer who told me about them. While I do my initial prep work on image files in Photoshop, the finish work is done with Kubota. They are not cheap but you can acquire their action packs one or two at a time and build up a collection over time. They are not super easy to get a hold for customer service but they do follow through completely and their products are well done.
One look at Kubota Market will give you a quick understanding of what they provide and why a basic image can be elevated from something ordinary to art. All the cool actions and filters in the world cannot replace a poorly composed image but a beautifully composed image can be dramatically enhanced with good processing. This is where I get the tools I use to do that.
I can’t shoot my own headshots, of course, so to whom do I turn to to take care of mine the way I take care of my clients? Regina Mountjoy. Regina is the photographer whose work I absolutely most admire. It is the standard I am always trying to achieve in my own work. I have been privileged to have Regina do my portraits over many years and her images are precious to me, some becoming truly iconic in our family. She exceeds my expectations every time.
Photoshop is still the platinum standard for image development and it’s where I start with all my image processing.
In addition to doing extraordinary portrait and wedding photography, Regina Mountjoy also creates the most beautiful botanic images I know. Not surprisingly, her portraits of roses are my favourites. They are breathtaking. I highly encourage you to take a peek at Regina’s gorgeous website and wander through the visual garden. I am delighted to say that I have several of her images on canvases in my home. Their beauty never seems to fade.