Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Inspiring Stories from Top Designers and Creatives

January 31, 2014

Calling all fans of design and modern art: there’s a new book that should go on your read list. I just wrapped up editing this new book compiled by San Francisco based designer Brian Singer. It’s packed with thoughtful and often crazy and over the top stories from some of the best creatives working today.

graphiccontentcvrCheck it out. It’s called Graphic Content: True Stories from Top Creatives. Basically it’s a collection of real world stories from some of today’s most successful designers and creatives.

It includes essays from the likes of Stefan Sagmeister, James Victore, Debbie Millman, Aaron Draplin, Art Chantry and many others. The stories in this book range from inspiring and insightful to just plain funny – all are quite entertaining. It’s a great read, especially for anyone who is a fan of great design or of these celebrated artists.



Monsters! Again!

October 8, 2013

I suppose when you get right down to it, there’s nothing I’d rather write about than monsters.

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 8.34.18 AMThe Unofficial Middle-earth Monster’s Guide is now available. I’m a co-author for the book (which I wrote along with Peter Archer). Peter and I also worked on the previous book The Unofficial Hobbit Handbook. Obviously, both books are a tongue in cheek celebration of the work of Tolkien.

I particularly enjoyed writing this new book, because it gave me a chance to revisit the subject of monsters (which I explored in my 2007 book Monster Spotter’s Guide to North America).  This time I got to write about dragons, wargs, giant spiders, ring-wraiths, stone-giants, trolls, orcs, and the quasi-evil black squirrels of Mirkwood. I think it’s a fun romp through Middle-earth — I hope you’ll agree. Learn more here.

Here are a couple of fun illustrations from the book (created by Ben Patrick).

Illustration by Ben Patrick, official illustrator for the Mordor Collective

Illustration by Ben Patrick, official illustrator for the Mordor Collective



A Western Tale

September 30, 2013

A little while back I received a copy of a book from a writer friend, Clint BlevinsIMG_5240, who I met at a Writer’s Digest Editor Intensive critique session. I critiqued a chapter of his fantasy western, which was thick with cinematic imagery and very cool fantasy lore. It was one of my favorite submissions I read during the workshop.

It’s been a couple of years since then, but Blevins finished and published A Western Tale. I was very excited to see the finished book. It’s a fun tale that will instantly pull you in. Gunslingers, wizards, an ancient battle of good and evil. Good stuff. Check it out.


Cool New Book of Creative Exercises

September 5, 2013

I recently had the pleasure of working with designer/author Jim Krause (author of such bestsellers as Color Index). I served as editor for his new book D30: Exercises for Designers. It’s a super cool project that features 30 days of creative exercises for anybody really. While the book targets the graphic design category, I have to say I think anyone creative would love doing some of these exercises. There are writing exercises, art projects, video editing exercises. All kinds of cool stuff.

Jim Krause with his new book, D30.

Jim Krause with his new book, D30.

Great for designers, but also great for anyone who is simply itching to “make stuff.”

Also, here’s a great Q&A  with Krause from the Creative Group.

How to Build Your Personal Brand

July 23, 2013

Creatives come in all manner of skill sets. Whether you’re a designer, artist, writer, or whatever, you need to know how to get the word out about what you do in order to make a living doing it.

v9130The latest book I worked on helps you do just that. Robin Landa’s Build Your Own Brand is filled with strategies, exercises and prompts for marketing yourself as a creative professional.  The advice in the book is down to earth and you’ll also find lots of interviews, examples and case studies from successful designers and creatives. There’s plenty of creative exercises to get you brainstorming as well.

Whether you’re looking for a new job, trying to start a business, or just get the word out as a freelancer, I’d recommend this book as a good tool to use to help create your personal brand message.


Some love for Monster Spotter’s

July 19, 2013

Check out this nice review by the Cincinnati Cryptozoological Society for one of my older books Monster Spotter’s Guide to North America. It was published back in 2007, but continues to get some love once in a while.

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 8.31.39 AMMonster Spotter’s has been embraced by monster enthusiasts, kids, and kids at heart. When I think back on writing the book, I was just writing about stuff that interested me. It was a much simpler time. But whenever I look back I’m reminded of why I like monsters and why I like to write in the first place. For me it’s all about stories and believing in things because you prefer to think there’s still some magic left in the world. Monster Spotter’s was never really about whether or not monsters are real. It’s about how fun urban legends and ghost stories are. There’s plenty of merit in examining evidence and trying to prove or disprove the existence of creatures like Bigfoot and the Chupacabra. But as for me, I prefer the shadowy photographs and haunting recordings of noises in the woods. I prefer not knowing for sure but thinking what might be and feeling the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

Check it out if you get the chance.


Spam poetry

January 15, 2013

A while back my spam filter at the day job didn’t work very well. And it was kind of awesome. I started writing these goofy poems using the headlines of spam emails.

Well, my spam filter is at it again. So this morning I came up with this poem, which I’ve titled “Rebound”:


Continuous moments of intimate joy,
Where do missing things go when they just disappear?
A kiss to you, my new friend.
Love and terror…
A potent mix.

Books I worked on in 2012

January 7, 2013

It’s a new year and I’m refocusing my efforts on my blogging. Last year got a little spotty as I had some big things going on (including a new baby).

But I’m looking at my writing and editing and taking stock of everything. So to kick things off, I thought I’d talk about some of the latest projects I’ve worked on. And then hopefully I’ll be better about posting from this starting point.

This past year I worked on a lot of different kinds of books as I started working for HOW Books (a graphic design imprint) having previously worked for Writer’s Digest Books. So it’s been a big shift in subject material. It’s been great to be exposed to different kinds of writing and to work on books that are visually oriented in addition to the writing itself.

NovelSSOne of the of Writer’s Digest projects that I finished up last year before moving to HOW was the 2013 edition of The Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. It was exciting to finish up my work with the fantastic WD brand working on one of their signature books. The latest edition includes some great stuff: an interview with Christopher Golden, author of the Secret Journeys of Jack London series, Baltimore, or the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, and many others; an interview with science-fiction author Alan Dean Foster; and other great stuff.

Another book I worked on as a co-author for WD (along with Peter Archer and Jeff Gerke) was The Unofficial Hobbit Handbook, which is a fun book inspired by the new Hobbit movie that offers a sort of “what would a hobbit do” approach to everyday advice. hobbit

On the HOW side of things I had the pleasure of working on Success by Design by David Sherwin, a great guide to design processes and running a graphic design business; Toy Confidential by Aled Lewis, a fun and irreverent romp through the world of toys; The Web Designer’s Idea Book Volume 3 by Patrick McNeil, a compendium of the best examples of web design work in recent years, and An Illustrated Journey, by Danny Gregory (due in Feb), a collection of essays from illustrators and artists about the art of keeping travel sketchbooks.

It’s been a great year. I’ve worked on a lot of great projects and have worked with some fantastic authors. I’m looking forward to an exciting 2013. (And hopefully I’ll be a little better about blogging, this year). Onward.



HOW Conference Bound

June 19, 2012

I’m getting ready to go to HOW Design Live, “the biggest gathering of designers, freelancers, creative team managers, and other creative professionals in the country.” I’m excited about this trip on many levels. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m keen on learning some more about the design industry, not just because I’m now editing design books, but also because I think the integration of writing and design is so important. As a writer, I find it interesting to talk with designers and see the ways they express their ideas and ways that images, or even font choice can affect the tone of a written piece.

I’ve got a fair amount of work to do at the show, but I’m also looking forward to getting to sit in on a few sessions as well. Here are a few of the sessions I’m planning to attend:

  • a session on brainstorming with David Sherwin, author of the forthcoming Success by Design (due November 2012)
  • “Chasing the Monster Idea” with Stefan Mumaw, author of Caffeine for the Creative Mind and Caffeine for the Creative Team
  • “Creative Story Telling for Designers and Unicorns” with Walt Disney innovation director Christopher Chapman
  • “How to Survive Your Soul Crushing Day Job” with Operation Nice blogger Melissa Morris Ivone

Full report when I return.

What would a hobbit do?

June 13, 2012

So, I’m working on a pretty fun side project right now. Along with a couple of other authors I’m contributing to a book titled The Unofficial Hobbit Handbook. The best way to describe the book is that it’s a sort of “What Would A Hobbit Do?” type of book that gives Tolkien-esque solutions for daily life. (Hobbit self help, perhaps?)

So for the past couple months, when not working at my day job I’ve been researching hobbit society and culture and examining self defense techniques that might be drawn from Middle-earth combat. Not to mention conversing with dragons (in my mind, of course). Here’s hoping the whole thing comes together without a hitch. My chapters have been a lot of fun to write. Think equal parts tongue in cheek humor  and actual life lessons (advice on etiquette, and the like).

Also working on the project are Peter Archer (who has written for Wizards of the Coast), Jeff Gerke (founder of Lord Marcher Press, a publisher of Christian speculative fiction), and Ben Patrick (the same illustrator I worked with on Monster Spotter’s Guide to North America).

I’ll share more about the book as it nears completion. For now check out the cover (illustrated by Ben Patrick and designed by Claudean Wheeler).