Hexmarks Abound

Years ago, I wrote an article about The Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Mass., named as such for the mark on its front door handle — a hexmark, also known as a Salem Cross.

Hexmarks were placed on doors across New England during the Salem Witch Trials, as a way to ward off evil spirits and the government, unless that’s redundant.

Upon relaying this tidbit to my mother while visiting home (a 1786 farmhouse on Cape Cod), she said nonchalantly, ‘Oh, we have those.’

Here’s a photo of my parent’s garage door, and the front door at Salem Cross:

Who knew.

HVAC Trading Cards? Sure, Why Not?

HVAC doesn’t sound like the most exciting topic to write about, but it’s actually pretty interesting.

The industry has long been a leader in energy efficiency, for instance. New technologies are always being applied to the development of products, and in the U.S., the “Made in USA” logo truly means something — creating not just exemplary products but jobs and expanding opportunities for those of us who live here.

It’s also an industry that has welcomed new forms of communication as social- and public relations continue to bloom. Part of the reason why is that there’s always new information to share in the HVAC biz, and even better, we have myriad places through which to share that content.

These guiding principles were behind a recent writing assignment I took on in tandem with Winstanley Partners for the KN Series of hydronic, cast-iron boilers. Starting with the idea of a technical brochure that would extol the benefits of the product to its key audiences, we took the assignment a step further, creating pieces of ‘mini-content’ that were even more targeted to core audiences.

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We didn’t negate that first idea of a one-sheet technical brochure, but rather created it to include components that could stand alone, and therefore speak directly to engineers, architects, builders, managers, and others.

As the copy and design started to coalesce, we soon noticed that the end-result was not unlike a set of trading cards.

HVAC trading cards? Well sure, why not? They’re shareable, printable, scale-able, and (yes) trade-able. That’s what we want when it comes to sharing information about a decidedly niche product. Plus, there are plenty of uses for such a thing – from social media content to trade-show giveaways.

These one-hit wonders were designed by Victoria Fiorini — copy by moi.

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The Read My Writin’ Round-up

I’ve been able to write a lot about where I live, recently – in the Berkshires of Massachusetts – so this shameless round-up of my own work is pulled together with a Berkshire County theme.

First, the latest; I wrote a ‘Parents-Eye Review’ for Berkshire Family Focus, upon the opening of the new Berkshire Carousel. Juli was my intern on this project.

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Next, on to the world of corporate spa retreats…an actual thing, apparently, and growing in popularity. I used two world-class resorts in the Berkshires to illustrate the trend of spa retreats as part of workplace health and wellness packages.

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Finally, a look at the entire region from the point-of-view of the visitor’s bureau and the owner/managers of some attractions in the area, including outdoor recreation spots as well as theater venues (two of the biggies in these parts).

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Get on the Bus: Next Stop Virtual Blog Tour!

Thunderbird Typewriter, JCS 2007

A couple of weeks ago, author, artist and mom Suzi Banks Baum (look, it rhymes) invited me to join the “My Writing Process” blog tour. This tour rolls out across three new bloggers each time the bus leaves the station; I’m one of three posting today, and in a couple of weeks down the road, three more bloggers will continue the trip.

So, essentially, I’m charged with answering the four questions below and choosing the three new writers who will follow me. Enjoy, and stay tuned until the end to find out who’s next!

1)     What am I working on?

In addition to the writing I do at my full-time gig (directing PR and Social Media), which currently includes releases about retail options for building professionals and an abominable snowman, I’m participating in the WordxWord Festival’s 30/30 Poetry Challenge. For every day in April, participants are assigned a prompt and given 24 hours to submit a poem. The short time frame takes away the editing, the tinkering, the perfecting… but what’s left is a body of work that appears along with that of hundreds of other writers with completely different interpretations of the word or phrase of the day.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?  

I’ve written in a lot of different genres, both professionally and for fun, but these days a lot of my writing comes in the form of informational releases and strategy proposals, not to mention sentences that are 140 characters or less. There’s just as much discipline and creativity involved in these pursuits as there is writing a magazine article or a short story, but they’re definitely different animals. What I like about the more ‘businessy’ writing I do is it requires a lot of restraint, and I think that’s one of the skills that makes for a better writer.

3)     Why do I write what I do?

In one way or another, I’ve been a writer professionally for my entire career. I chose that path on purpose and if the writing process wasn’t part of my job in some way, I don’t think I’d be very happy. Poetry is my first love, and I’ve been trying to be more diligent about crafting a body of work. Shameless plug: some of my past writing is in the right sidebar, there. —>

The Joyce, JCS 2007

4)     How does my writing process work?

Hmmm… I think I’m part of the ‘write drunk, edit sober’ contingent of writers – though not necessarily literally. That’s to say I just start and write what’s in my head, whether it’s dirty and ugly and messy or not. Then some hard editing starts after the bulk is down on paper. I try not to poke and prod too much – a natural stopping point has to come eventually. I work at finding that point.
Now for the next victims! On April 21st, these three intrepid bloggers will take you on their on existential journey:

Christine Parizo

Rob Cushing

Karo Kilfeather

 

…good looking bunch, no?