Learning About Woodturning

April 23, 2015

LacerSo, the first book I worked on for Popular Woodworking scared the heck out of me at first. It was Alan Lacer’s Woodturning Projects & Techniques (available now at ShopWoodworking.com). Woodturning – aside from knowing that the wood spins and you shape it – was something I knew almost nothing about. And as I looked through the book the sheer amount of information was a bit overwhelming at first. I was worried I was in over my head. Tons to learn, yes. But the absolute beauty of the finished product shots and the artistry that goes into the pieces was fascinating. The cool factor of the process soon overcame the amount of detail – vast arrays of gouges and skews, lathe RPMs and the like –  I was trying to digest. Ultimately, the book a great introduction to the craft of woodturning.

In speaking with the author, I learned about how he originally wrote the chapters in the book as articles for American Woodworker magazine over the course of 15 years. And AW was targeted to a general woodworking audience (not specifically turners), so the articles needed to be accessible to the general woodworker. All of this made more and more sense as I delved into the book and discovered how just how good of a woodturning course the book is. It covers basic tools and techniques, tool maintenance and sharpening, and then moves into the projects which are specifically chosen to develop different techniques from learning rolling cuts to creating flowing contours to turning a perfect sphere. Plus, the projects are super cool: natural edge bowls, a bocce ball lawn game, lidded boxes, lamps, even small stuff like wooden toy tops, fishing lures and Christmas ornaments (as well as important things to know how to turn like table legs). Very cool.

Check out an interview with Alan Lacer here, where he talks about the book and his insights into this amazing craft.

Build It With Dad

April 22, 2015

BuildItI recently had the pleasure of editing A.J. Hamler’s new book Build It with Dad: Woodworking Fun for the Whole Family. Full disclosure, I’m not wild about the gender specific title and neither was the author (that was a marketing decision based on audience demographics, etc that was beyond our control). In fact, I just sold a copy to a grandmother at a woodworking hand tool event – she was looking for woodworking projects to make with her grandkids.

But title aside, it’s a wonderful book. Perfect for exactly what that hip grandma woodworker I just mentioned had in mind – making stuff for the kids in your life. The book features projects for corn hole sets, rubber band powered race cars, bookshelves, bird feeders, candy dispensers and more.

Check out this cool wooden passive speaker for your mobile device for an example of the kind of fun woodworking projects you’ll find in the book.

It was a fun book to edit. One day I hope to try making a few of these projects with my daughters.

Transitions and Some New Books

March 13, 2015

Over the past few months I’ve been transitioning to a new editorial role. I’ve taken on the book editor job for Popular Woodworking Books. Here’s a post I wrote about that on the PW editor’s blog that talks a bit about that new role. I’m enjoying the new work and having a chance to write and edit in a new subject area.

In the meantime a few books that I finished up editing for HOW and PRINT Books have become available:


Creative Anarchy by Denise Bosler is one of the best books I got a chance to work on covering the subject of graphic design. Bosler has an excellent writing voice and provides incredibly accessible instruction on ways to break the rules of design. In this highly illustrated book she teaches you the rules, explains when it makes sense to break them, and then gives you ideas for ways to do just that – and come up with something fresh and new.


Design Funny by Heather Bradley is a fun book about injecting humor into graphic design work – something that sounds easy enough, but when you get down to it is incredibly complicated. You have to consider the sense of humor of your client, of your audience and how to truly communicate what your piece and your client are trying to say. Bradley covers styles of humor, techniques, and gives tons of examples from well-known brands and publications.


Cultivating Creativity by Maria Fabrizio is a book about creative process. Fabrizio is the creator of Wordless News, a daily art project that recreates the mornings headlines through charming illustrations. Her book is a lovely meditation on the act of creating art and ways to stay productive and creative day after day.

Geek Merit Badges

Geek Merit Badges by Meghan Murphy (creator of the popular Kwaii Not web comic) is a fun book for anyone who loves all things geeky – from comics to movies to popular culture. It’s full of fun activities and quizzes for measuring your geek-cred and tons of references to all the best stuff: Star Wars, Doctor Who, Bat-Man and all the things that make geek hearts swell and burst. The truly geeky will find themselves testing themselves at every turn. Plus it has stickers!

So good stuff. They were fun books to work on and I’m privileged to have gotten to the chance to work with such great writers and creators. But it was time for some new challenges – stay tuned!

OMG, Check Out This Book Trailer

October 6, 2014


Here’s a video sneak peak of my latest book, OMG! I Forgot the Card (co-authored with designer extraordinaire Claudean Wheeler). As you can see, you’ll find pull out, easy to mail greeting cards for any occasion.

Cool Book About Beer Label Design

September 26, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 9.13.33 AMCool Beer Labels: The Best Art & Design From Breweries Around the World is now available everywhere. This fun book by Daniel Bellon and Steven Speeg (that I had the pleasure of editing) explores the relationship between the beer industry and graphic design. And if you’ve been paying attention you know that the world of beer is super interesting; the explosion of craft beers and home brewing has changed the industry in a fundamental way – people are passionate about what they are making. It’s reflected in the beer, of course, with a wide variety of brews available and plenty of experimenting – but also in the care that goes into the packaging and marketing of the beers.

And that’s what Cool Beer Labels is all about – the passion of making something good and doing it right.

Here’s a great video with the author:

Also here’s another cool article that mentions the book.

New Book of Pull Out Greeting Cards

August 18, 2014

My new book of pull out greeting cards is going to be available very soon (within the next couple of weeks). OMG I Forgot the Card was coauthored with my designer friend and colleague Claudean Wheeler. It was a fun collaboration and I think the end result is pretty fun and useful (I’ve already used it a couple of times myself).


Here’s the concept in a nutshell: funny greeting cards you pull out, fold and mail. Or keep it in your desk at work. Or in your glovebox. You’ll have a quick greeting card within reach and everyone will think you’re super thoughtful. Unless they have the book too and they see through your charade, in which case you’ll both have a good laugh. It’s a risk, but hey… you were simply card-less before. And you already know how that feels. It feels hollow.

Check out the book website here.

An example card appears below:





Greetings, fellow procrastinator

February 25, 2014

A friend and I are working on a new book. It’s called OMG! I Forgot the Card. It’s a book of last minute greeting cards for pretty much any occasion. The cards will be easy to pull out and are scored so that you can simply fold them up, seal them (they are self-mailers) and pop them in the mail. Coming August 2014 from HOW Books.

Oh yeah… and they’re supposed to be funny. Never lose your sense of humor standing in the card isle again.

Follow our progress on Facebook 



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.