The @Twittertini, Signature Cocktail of the Workman Shorts Launch Party!

Categories: Author guest post, Recipes

In celebration of today’s Workman Shorts launch party, Mindy Weiss—celebrity party-planner and author of The Wedding Book and Your Dream Wedding on a Budget (Barnes and Noble, Amazon)—has created us a custom cocktail! So, bottoms up! Cheers! Slainte! Prost! Salud! (How do you say “cheers” in Twitterese? We think as long as it’s under 140 characters, it’s a-ok.)

The @Twittertini

2 oz Skyy Melon Vodka
1 Honeydew Melon
1 Cantaloupe Melon

Cut up both melons and add to blender. Blend well and strain. Add Skyy melon vodka to a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Add about 2-4 oz of the blended melon juice. Shake well, and strain into a cocktail glass. Add a melon ball for garnish, and serve.

The @Twittertini, Signature Cocktail of the Workman Shorts Launch Party
Posted by at 11:08 am
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Inside the Author’s Studio: Castleforte

Categories: Author guest post, Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games, Kids

Welcome to Inside the Author’s Studio, where we give you a peek into the minds of your favorite Workman authors.

Photo credit: Dustin Downing

To celebrate the recent publication of the fiendishly fun Papertoy Monsters, we asked the man behind the book, Castleforte himself, if he would answer a few questions, speed round-style. Luckily, he agreed.

Favorite bookstore
Recent book you loved/learned from

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
by Eckhart Tolle
Bookmark, dog-ear, or virtuality?

Book you are most ashamed never to have read

by Alan Moore
Most frequent form of writerly procrastination

My wife and my fur child, Soul
Favorite childhood book

Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak
Alternate ambition

Blockbuster action hero, with my own action figures
Big dream

To see my characters all over the world, making people smile
What Papertoy Monster are you?

According to the quiz, Icy Huggy; definitely more huggy than icy

For the record, we wholeheartedly agree with his last statement.

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Workman goes to New York Comic Con, gets requests for giant Fandex decor

Categories: Author guest post, Authors on tour, Fun and games, Kids

A couple of weeks ago, Workman went to the New York Comic Con for the first time. I was on hand October 8 to sign and promote the DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex. It was my first time behind a table at one of these cons and it certainly was fun. In addition to signing some autographs and posing for a few photos, I got to be interviewed by the fine folks at Silver Cheese Media. Check out the interview. And, in case any of my bosses, or the legal department at DC is watching, no, I didn’t actually sell the giant Fandex cards and pocket the money. I was going to take them home to decorate my geek-tastic bachelor pad, but then I remembered I didn’t want to be single forever, so they went back to the office.

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Flanagan’s Smart Wetsuit

Categories: Author guest post

Summer is long gone and Halloween is just around the corner. But for Barbara Flanagan, author of Flanagan’s Smart Home: The 98 Essentials for Starting Out, Starting Over, Scaling Back, it’s training season on the high seas. She’s guest posting a tale in which oceanic daredevilry meets consumer smarts meets a yet-to-be published money-saving Q&A. Whew. That’s a mouthful. Just cue the Jaws music and dive in!

Last week, the financial website called to ask how to save money using ideas from Flanagan’s Smart Home, my guide to getting affordably green via a short list of dependable household products. (The interview hasn’t run yet, but I’m using it as a transparent lede. Shhhh…)

Anyhow, Bankrate called and I’d just finished a three-mile, open ocean swim, my longest haul yet after four weeks of practice in the coastal waters of Santa Barbara, my new home. After a summer of fog, the seasonably warm fall had arrived with full sun and seawater peaking in the high 50s—just like me, a novice sea athlete of a certain age.

Pumped with endorphins, I wanted to share the Zen revelation of long-distance swimming with my interviewer. The revelation, in short, amounted to this: The happier you are, the less you need. Or, to be more specific, an addictive sport, preferably one that requires minimal gear, does wonders at keeping you out of the stores and away from those website shopping carts.

I went on. Wouldn’t it be great if we bought household products like we sought out athletic gear: seeking high performance, longevity, and value in products made by companies investing in sustainable materials research, funding environmental causes, promoting land stewardship, using fair labor practices, and flaunting all this with website charts and videos?! Wouldn’t it?

Rose, my webby interviewer, was a young runner who knew lots about the engineering and evolution of of running shoes but very little about say, sofas. (Except for the letdown of IKEA models. So perky in the showroom, they live short, shabby lives once you cart them home.) She understood right away.

I described my search for a wetsuit, the magic second skin that turns the frigid ocean into a free spa.

At the start, I sought out a generic long-sleeved, long-legged “full wetsuit,” the kind surfers wore. Just like buying a black swimsuit. Size medium. Done.

No. It turns out wetsuits are made of neoprene, a synthetic rubber that comes in different qualities, expected life spans, densities, textures, and thicknesses. The neoprene is backed with a liner textile, usually nylon, with properties of its own. Furthermore, wetsuits are not seamless shells like Playtex gloves; they are made of curvy neoprene panels, thick and thinner, sewn together into different proprietary models, each designed to hug the floating human form with superior tightness. And the sewing? Very important. The best suits are blind-stitched (one-sided), glued, and reglued, to create the most watertight seams.

Next, I learned that the standard surfing wetsuit, available widely, was not what I wanted. The surfer, who spends time on boards, not in water, needs a durable, abrasion-resistant suit. The ocean swimmer, a totally different animal, uses a more fragile suit with a thick (5mm) rubber torso and upper legs that only keep the organs warm, but adds buoyancy to lift the body into a sleek, horizontal, free-style position. Thinner neoprene (3mm) covers the thighs and calves. And the thinnest (1.5mm) forms the flexible sleeves and underarms that help the swimmer reach and pull deep into the water hundreds or thousands of times per swim. Costlier suits boast shiny, “speed-enhancing hydrodynamic” coatings that reduce the suit’s coefficient of friction.

It was easy (well, for me) to get intrigued by wetsuit assembly. Manufacturers detail exhaustive specs on their websites. Gear shops and internet retailers hire salespeople who not only know the details, but are passionate about using the things. In my early, confused research, the local surf shop gave me a loaner suit to try out in the water, where the fit changes.

Rose, I went on, summer may be over, but its reminder—nature is worth keeping–will make us happier householders and safer consumers over all seasons. Let us heed the lessons we learn via our summer sports and apply them to buying, say, couches: Research more. Buy less. Buy from knowledgeable salespeople who’ll steer you in the right directions and teach you something in the process.

And (yes, that’s still me talking) let’s buy from stellar companies who brag about things like this:

—Starting The Conservation Alliance, a charity that contributes to environmental missions. (The North Face, REI, Kelty, and Patagonia)

—Being the nation’s largest consumer cooperative. Giving members a percentage of sales as refunds, and holding board members to high standards of environmental stewardship. Manufacturing a brand of “ecoSensitive” products made of recycled or “rapidly renewable” materials. (REI)

—Donating 1% of net sales to grassroots environmental groups.  Aspiring to build an entire line of products made of recycled textiles. Creating a Common Threads Recycling Program that asks consumers to mail in their old, unwanted Capilene underwear to be reincarnated; debris is shipped to Japan, where new machinery granulates it and forms it into pellets that are purified, polymerized, made into chips, melted down and spun into filaments to become fibers for new gear. (Patagonia)

I’ll be thinking about my wetsuit as I paddle my way into spending season. As, I’m sure, will Rose.

–Author Barbara Flanagan would also like to mention that she bikes to the ocean. This may not offset her use of virgin neoprene, a petroleum product that predates the next generation of more sustainable wetsuits made with limestone-based neoprene. But it’s fun.

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Don’t get mad, get creative

Categories: Author guest post, Self-help

A guest blog post from Susan Edmiston, co-author of The Cow in the Parking Lot: A Zen Approach to Overcoming Anger

2010 is shaping up to be the Year of Anger.  In addition to the egregious, destructive expressions of this deadly sin (Mel Gibson’s horrific rant, the Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez’s attack on his father-in-law, and the Tea Party’s rage which threatens to undermine, if not destroy, effective government), we’ve seen a few people harness the emotion in more creative ways.

We’ve written previously about Southwest flight attendant Steven Slater, whose leaving the scene via his plane’s emergency chute made him a national hero.  Now, the blue-eyed soul group, the Gregory Brothers, known for their Auto-Tune the News video series, has taken Alabama native Antoine Dodson’s righteous indignation when an intruder climbed in his apartment window and attempted to rape his sister and turned it into an iTunes Top-50 song. See/hear “The Bed Intruder Song” here:

The Cow in the Parking Lot does not condone “Don’t get mad; get even,” but it does approve “Don’t get mad; get effective” (and offers ways to do this) and now celebrates “Don’t get mad; get creative.”

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Extreme Professional Makeovers: A New Job for Norm, A Nose Ring for Katie?

Categories: Author guest post, Authors on tour, How-to

Ellen Gordon Reeves, career expert and author of Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?, is always networking–even with her co-panelists during a sitdown with Katie Couric! Below she guest posts about her latest connection and how she’s helping him find employment.

Norm Elrod ( is my latest Extreme Professional Makeover subject. We met virtually on a segment called Jobless in America on, and if you need an on-line marketing expert, Norm’s your man.

Recently we were face-to-face (or really, face-to-screen): Katie, Conor Dougherty from the Wall Street Journal, Norm and Scott Pierce, another blogger, via Skype.  After the show I asked if I could get Norm’s contact info and the next day we laid out a basic professional makeover plan for him: a blog post about the show, a fantasy job description, a quick and easy new look, and a revamped resume and elevator pitch.

Stay tuned for the Before and After shots.  But in the meantime, check out this video of our talk with Katie Couric…I never thought Katie would be asking me the Nose Ring question! Click here to watch the video on the CBS News website.

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Happy New Year–Jewish Style

Categories: Author guest post, Humor

Just in time for the high holidays season, Molly Katz, author of Jewish as a Second Language, shares a CliffsNotes-style rundown of Rosh Hashanah customs and the symbolism (and humor) behind them.

Click here to read an excerpt from Jewish as a Second Language.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, which begins this year at sundown on September 8. For Jews it is the symbolic anniversary of the creation of the world–and the actual anniversary of having our celebration critiqued annually by an expert panel of relatives.

The celebration includes:

1. The sounding of the Shofar. This is the ceremonial ram’s horn that looks like the curled tentacle of a hungry octopus. It dates from ancient times, when making loud noises on the New Year was thought to scare off demons. Hence our Jewish habit of making loud noises in all situations.

Four specific blasts must be made, and in some homes 100 blasts of the horn are traditional. This insures a good year, and also excellent business for all the pulmonologists in our family.

The notes of the horn represent the sound of a King’s coronation, and the wailing of a Jewish heart. (Actually, many sounds may be compared to the wailing of a Jewish heart, such as a hedge trimmer.)

2. The sacred elements of the festive meal. A round challah bread is served, which symbolizes completion, as well as the waistlines of many of the guests. We eat the bread not with butter but with honey and apples; this represents a sweet New Year and serves the dual purpose of honoring our equally traditional lactose intolerance.

On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, we eat a “new fruit”–a fruit that has recently come into season but that we have not yet had the opportunity to eat. When we eat this new fruit, we say a special blessing thanking God for keeping us alive until this season (and warning Him not to let the fruit keep us up all night with the runs).

3. Many families follow the custom called Tashlich (casting off), in which they walk to flowing water, say a prayer, and symbolically throw their sins into the stream. Part of this custom is to warn one another not to accidentally cast our tennis bracelets into the flowing water, lest there follow an earsplitting live demonstration of the wailing of a Jewish heart.

If you’d like to participate in our celebration of the New Year, hint around to the Jews you know for an invitation. Remember that Jewish hints have all the delicacy of a cinderblock. So instead of saying, “I’m intrigued by your New Year customs,” try, “My doctor just put me on Prozac because I wasn’t invited to any Jewish New Year events.”

Enjoy, and Shana Tova (which means “good year,” and is also the name of the Hebrew Goddess of Overcooked Chicken).

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Leaving the scene of a confrontation: Airline edition

Categories: Author guest post, How-to

Susan Edmiston, co-author of The Cow in the Parking Lot, gives her take on the infamous JetBlue flight attendant whose angry escape from his “workplace,” an airplane mid-runway, has been all over the news.

Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who responded to a passenger’s offensive behavior by chewing her out over the public address system and fleeing down the plane’s chute, has become something of a folk hero for dramatizing the tensions that arise out of today’s often-frustrating air travel.

This appears to be one of those situations where it’s not clear what will turn out for the best. The NY Times this a.m. dredged up the story about the bus driver many years ago in NY who got so fed up that he went awol and drove the bus to Florida.

To be sure, Slater took some serious risks in his response.  He had to spend a night in jail, faces serious charges, and may well be fined for the expenses involved in deploying the chute.  Nevertheless, his response to the passenger’s reported hostility was sort of creative.

It appears to be coming out from what I’ve read that it was the passenger who was abusive and intentionally slammed the overhead bin door on the flight attendant’s head.  Passengers on the plane wrote into the NY Times that he had a gash on his head from this event, and lost it when the same woman got out of her seat before the plane had come to a stop and was abusive again when he told her to sit down.  The flight attendant actually thanked the other passengers before he took the slide.

Many readers’ responses to the Times’s blog post were along the lines of, “Why doesn’t someone charge the passenger with assault?”

The flight attendant’s response bears some similarity to the response to anger directed at us by others that we recommend in The Cow in the Parking Lot — Leave the scene!  He did it with style.  Whether the reward he will reap from his fifteen minutes of fame will outweigh the cost of his outburst (and bust out) remains to be seen.  At least, in this day of enraged workplace murders,he did not physically retaliate.

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Beans Are Patriotic!

Categories: Author guest post, News

A visual missive courtesy of Califia Suntree, one of the authors of BE THRIFTY: HOW TO LIVE BETTER WITH LESS . . .

Nothing like a dose of old timey propaganda to get you pinching pennies. “Beans are bullets”?! This is serious, people.

Want more? Check out this exhibit of war-era food posters.

Want to make something thrifty to eat? Check out the book.

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Katie Couric and the Nose Ring

Categories: Author guest post, News

A guest post from Ellen Gordon Reeves, author of Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?

“Last week, an e-mail from CBS popped up: “Would you have five minutes to speak with Katie Couric today? She’s writing a graduation speech and has a couple of questions for you…” I have to admit, my first thought was that somebody was yanking my chain. But no. It was really Katie. She was gathering as much advice as she could from everyone she could think of before giving the Commencement address at Case Western Reserve in Ohio:  Al Gore, Attorney General Eric Holder, Michael J. Fox, Queen Rania of Jordan, Condoleezza Rice, quarterback Drew Brees, Chelsea Handler, General Ray Odierno, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Anna Quindlen, Sheryl Crow—and me. Sunday morning I watched the address via live webcast and basically had an out of body experience.”


(Nose Ring mention starts at 7:26!)

-Ellen Gordon Reeves (

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