I try to bring you a shopping guide this time of year, suggesting gifts for writers. This year, between the number of people staying home for the holidays and the overall stress of the pandemic, I’ve gone back and forth on whether to do one. Gifts are lovely, but getting them to people is difficult. Particularly when you consider the slowness of the post in recent months. So instead of suggesting all sorts of presents that require purchase and shipping, I’m just going to include some bookish links today, to go with the ones last week. Remember that you can call indie bookstores near your loved ones and arrange gifts through them. Or you can send gift cards, either by email or tucked into a holiday card. Bookshop.org now offers gift cards, so you can still support indie booksellers. Give the gift of something cozy to read.
Gift-giving aside, don’t forget the December Writing Challenge is still in full swing. It’s a low key year, but with everything going on, try to prioritize your own interests a bit. Schedule time to work on your current project. You don’t need to hit a certain word count or number of pages. Just sit with it and keep your brain tuned in so you don’t lose momentum. And if you do find yourself on a writing roll, by all means take advantage of it!
Wishing you a great weekend, filled with some holiday music and stories and a bit of writing time for yourself!
The Twelve Days of Christmas. – For Austenites and fans of Regency life/writing, a look into Christmas life of that era, brought to you by the staff at Jane Austen’s house. Includes bits of Austen’s letters, recipes, illustrations, and some short readings courtesy of Emma Thompson.
The Talented Ms. Calloway. – An intriguing look into the world of a certain sort of publishing, and what it means to self-promote and to publish oneself in a very literal manner.
Each year I like to offer up a holiday gift giving guide of sorts, mostly geared toward writers and readers. So that’s the slant of this week’s selection of Friday Links. Whether you’re shopping for the holidays or a birthday–or hinting at things you’d like–I hope these give you some ideas.
There will be plenty of book-centric posts in the next week or so. ‘Tis the season for end-of-year lists, after all. So for this post I’ve focused more on useful items and fun toys. But before I get to the links themselves, I have a few more general suggestions if you’re shopping for the writer in your life.
Writers tend to spend a lot of time hunched over a desk. Gifts that counteract that can be both helpful and luxurious. Think about gift certificates for massages or other spa treatments, a yoga class, or a new pair of running/walking shoes. Bath salts, a new wrist wrest, a good supportive desk chair, or even a standing desk might be excellent stay-at-home options.
Lack of writing time can be a frequent complaint. Give your favorite writer time to themselves for the holidays. Offer up babysitting services, take over a few extra chores for them while they’re finishing a project, or buy them time at a shared work space in their area. On the more extravagent end, send them off for a short writing retreat. That might mean a weekend at a local bed and breakfast or a week in a nice hotel with room service.
And finally, writers always appreciate new tech. Even if you’re not up to buying them a new laptop, a gift certificate to Best Buy or the Apple store might be a welcome contribution.
If you missed it, my December Writing Challenge is now underway, so please do join in. Now, witout further ado, I give you this week’s links. Enjoy, and happy writing!
Storiarts. – A lovely, artistic shop featuring tees, totes, pillows, scarves, etc. with quotes from classic literature on them.
The Literary Gift Company. – Exactly what it sounds like. I’m particularly fond of their collection of journals with fun covers.
Goulet Pens. – My favorite spot for shopping for lovely fountain pens and beautiful colors of ink. They offer other stationery items as well. Worth a visit.
Freedom. – The app that temporarily blocks internet access from your computer, tablet, or phone. Help the writer in your life focus on their work and ignore the lure of social media, etc.
Literature and Latte. – Home of Scrivener writing software, which is my personal favorite, and useful for organizing writing projects of all sorts, from novels to blog posts to scripts to presentations.
In honor of the holiday season, this week’s links feature a bookish holiday guide to help you find gifts for the readers and writers on your list, figure out what hints to drop to your loved ones, and maybe plan your vacation reads. Everyone needs a great book to read through the holidays. Whether you pick a new release or a classic, something seasonally themed or more personal, there are books for all types of readers.
Don’t forget to schedule some writing time this weekend, no matter how much shopping you have to do. Keep up with (or join) the December Writing Challenge. Even if you just take half an hour each day, make your writing a priority. No one else can do that work for you. Train your brain to be creative even when you’re busy. You’ll develop great habits to help kick off the new year.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend. I hope my bookish holiday guide helps with your shopping, and that your writing project flows. All the words count!
As promised, I’m back with some inspiration for December writing in this week’s Friday Links. Even if you’re not participating in the 2017 December Writing Challenge, I hope you plan to get some writing done this month. The links that follow offer tips, plus some entertainment to keep you smiling as you work. And of course, there are more book recommendations to keep your TBR stocked and maybe help with gift giving. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and some terrific writing time!
Happy Friday, everyone! Whether you’re gearing up for holidays or simply motoring through the end of your week, it’s a festive time of year and I hope you’re taking some time out to enjoy a great book or squeeze in a little writing. Those of you participating in the December Writing Challenge are in the home stretch now, with just over a week left until the end of the month. Keep up that daily habit and you’ll find yourself all primed to write your heart out in the new year.
In case you’re looking for a little bit of a break from all the hectic activity this time of year, I’ve got some fun links for you this week. I hope they give you some inspiration or just a nice change of pace from shopping and cooking and getting ready for friends and family. Enjoy, and happy writing!
Happy Friday! Apologies for the lack of links last week, but between the holiday and my own self-imposed social media blackout, I didn’t have as much as I would need for a full post. And you were all shopping anyway, right? However I am back this week with an all new collection of Friday Links to kick off December and this crazy final month of 2016.
First, a quick reminder that this is Day 2 of the December Writing Challenge. Even if you are just hearing about it now, it’s never too late to start, so make sure you get your writing time in for the day. Now’s also a good time to take a quick look at your weekend plans and figure out when you plan to write tomorrow and Sunday. Don’t risk running out of time; make a writing date with yourself and stick it on your calendar.
All right! Without further ado I give you this week’s Friday Links. There should be something here to inspire all of you to read and write through this busy time of year. Enjoy, and happy writing!
In years past, I’ve posted some fairly extensive lists of suggested gifts for the readers and writers in your life, or that you might want to hint about to people wondering what to buy for you. This year I’m being a bit more low key about it, as I’ll admit I’ve not done as much scouting for cool writerly stuff recently. Last Friday I posted a few links to some great gift lists other sites have compiled, and today I’m going to share some of my favorite items to round them out. Please note, this is not a sponsored post, merely a list of items I personally have used/read/found useful.
Writers write, so it’s a no brainer to pick up something they can write with. This can mean stuffing their stocking with an entire box of their favorite everyday pen from the stationery store (I’m fond of the Pilot Precise V5 extra fine, personally), or investing in a lovely refillable pen that they’ll cherish for years to come. Many writers are members of the cult of the fountain pen, and the sea of colorful inks they can use, but there are also rollerball and ballpoint pens that come with nice gift boxes and refills available. I recommend Goulet Pens for their enormous selection, informational videos, and excellent customer service, but an online search will also net you the name of your nearest stationery store that stocks pens and pen supplies.
If you’re looking to gift your favorite writer (or aspiring writer) with a new writing program for their computer, check out Scrivener. Many authors swear by this multi-faceted program that allows writers to compile their story in any way they wish — linearly, piecemeal, etc. — and include research, references, and inspirational photos all in a single file. The program is available for both Mac and PC, and can be found at Literature and Latte, along with helpful video tutorials.
Whether a writer prefers to write longhand or on the computer or a combination of both, they can always use a pocket-sized notebook on hand to jot down ideas or bits of information when they come across it. I love these little Field Notes notebooks. They’re sturdy enough to take a bit of throwing around, but not so precious that you worry if a corner gets bent or the cover gets a coffee stain on it. They come with your choice of interior — lined, plain, or graph paper — or you can purchase a combo pack.
Books for Writers
I’ve a few go-to writing books that I recommend when asked or during presentations. This year I’ve added a new favorite to the bunch: Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life. It’s a quiet little book that’s part memoir, part advice for how to navigate the challenges of a creative practice.
Whether you’re looking to give a book to a reader who just reads or one who writes as well, book subscriptions or mystery boxes can be a fun way to go. Book Riot currently has a book package on offer featuring four of the best books (by their estimation) of 2015, all of which they believe have flown somewhat under the radar (meaning it’s less likely someone’s already read them all). The book also includes three bookish-items (think tote bags, magnets with book covers on them, etc.). They also have a seasonal subscription that features a new bookish box quarterly, and a second one focused on young adult books.
Or create your own! Pick a few of your favorite reads from the year and assemble a box with some other bookish treats — tea and shortbread, a fun bookish bag, a small reading lap, etc.
Other Odds and Ends
If you don’t want to go the obvious route (reading and writing), think about some of the other things a reader or writer might appreciate. My favorites include:
Coffee or tea: One or the other is likely to please. Make up a nice gift basket or fill a stocking with an assortment pack.
Gift certificates: For a massage, manicure and/or pedicure, or anything else that will ease them after hours at a desk.
The gift of time: Promise them a break to read or write while you take their kids out for the day; provide them with a professional housecleaning; or give them a long weekend in a nearby inn or hotel, either to relax or to get their manuscript done.
Happy Friday! We’re two weeks from Christmas, smack in the middle of Hanukkah, and on day 11 of the December Writing Challenge. All of which says to me that most people are probably extremely busy.
In terms of the challenge, I’m simply going to remind you to make some writing dates for yourself over the weekend. Call up your writing friends and arrange to meet for hot chocolate and a couple of writing sprints, or schedule some solo writing time. Put your writing dates in your phone and/or planner, set alerts to remind yourself, and treat them the way you would any other important appointment. Good luck!
As for this week’s Friday Links, I have all sorts to share. Unsurprisingly, we’re slipping into the “best of” time of year, when all the lists of books start popping up. Even though they can get a bit out of hand, I still always love checking them out to see if I might discover a great title that flew under my radar earlier in the year. So yes, I’ve got a few lists in the links. But there’s also ideas for holiday shopping, as well as the typical writerly/bookish stuff. I hope they make for an enjoyable break or tangent today or at some point over the weekend. Enjoy, and happy writing!
Best Books of 2015: The NPR App – One of my favorites when in comes to these annual lists. This covers all sorts of genres and interests, and allows you to winnow the list if you’re looking for the best of a particular type of read.
The gift-giving season is upon us, so I wanted to gather together some suggestions for things that might suit the writer in your life (or that you might want to add to your own letter to Santa). I’ve mentioned some of these in previous years, but a good gift is a good gift, and writers in particular tend to be appreciative of things that encourage them in their craft or enable them to spend time writing. Many of these will be appropriate gifts for readers, as well, for obvious reasons.
Scrivener – Many writers swear by this software. It allows you to create your manuscript in sections that can be easily dragged around and reordered, has a built in cork board function where you can get an overview of the parts of your work, allows for research materials to be imported directly into the project, and much more. Once you’re done, you can compile the pieces of your manuscript into Word, script format, e-book format, and so on. Available for both Mac and Windows.
Aeon Timeline – This software allows you to create a timeline not just for a single project but for an entire series. It will track character ages for different events, births and deaths, whatever history you’ve developed for your books, etc. Particularly helpful for anyone writing historical fiction, or anything involving extensive world building. Available for both Mac and Windows.
Ecosystem Journal – These blank books are made from recycled materials and boast sturdy pages that protect against bleed-through from heavier ink, such as fountain pens. They come in small, medium, and large sizes, blank, ruled, or with grid paper, and in a number of bright colors as well as black. Great for the writer who keeps an ideas book, journals, doodles, or prefers drafting longhand.
Leuchtturm1917 Notebook – Another high-quality blank book, this features page numbers and a blank table of contents, in addition to sturdy pages of a lovely off-white paper. As with the Ecosystem, you can select type of page (ruled, blank, etc.) and the notebooks come in assorted colors. The company offers other types of books, as well, such as planners, if you’re looking to gift someone with a set.
Decomposition Books – Great notebooks in the old composition or spiral notebook formats, but with fun printed covers. Perfect for anyone looking for a slightly more utilitarian notebook.
Fountain pens – A slightly old-school gift, a lovely fountain pen — either new or antique — along with some ink, can be a beautiful gift for a writer.
Books on writing – Most writers love writing books. I’ll post a separate list of writing-related books I love in a couple of days, but you’ll find tons in most good bookstores, in the reference section.
A gift certificate for some pampering – Writing can be hard on the back, the eyes. All that sitting. Gift your writer with a massage or spa day, or a series of neck rubs. Writers — especially struggling writers — don’t often allot money for little luxuries, even when they need them.
The gift of time – Real life often gets in the writer’s way, making demands and allowing less time for writing. Take over a chore or responsibility for the writer in your life in order to give them an extra hour or two to write. If you live with the writer, make dinner a couple of nights a week. Offer to babysit or take their kids out of the house for a chunk of time on the weekend.
A writing retreat – If you’re looking to give your writer something a little more expansive, send them off for a quiet weekend at a cozy inn or cabin in the woods, just them and their muse. Don’t pick a tourist location that will tempt them to go out and sightsee, but somewhere quiet, or local, with room service and a nice desk.
Shakespeare Insult Shirt – This t-shirt features a collection of witty insults by the Bard. Great for writers, Shakespeare fans, or anyone looking for a good come back.
Classic Tote Bag – Give your favorite writer or reader one of these sturdy tote bags featuring art work from a classic novel, such as Pride and Prejudice, Animal Farm, or Gone with the Wind, or with some bookish feature, like a list of banned books. Great for carting books from the library, hitting the farmer’s market, or carrying a notebook and other writing paraphernalia.
Litographs Poster – This company prints literary posters where the design itself is created from the text of the books. Available for a number of classic titles, and the designs can also be purchased on t-shirts and tote bags.
Last year I posted some suggestions for what to buy the writers in your life (or hint at to the people shopping for you). This year I have some supplements to the list — just a few items I’ve come across that might make your favorite writer happy or inspire them or give their weary, creative minds a bit of a break. Happy shopping!
Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks – I stumbled across these a couple of months ago. Not only are they nice sturdy, well made blank books, but they come with page numbers, which I love, sticky notes to help label your notes, and a few perforated pages at the back for when you need to pull out whatever you’ve scribbled. Like the Ecosystem notebooks I mentioned last year, these books have thick paper that stands up to fountain pen ink.
A beautiful fountain pen – There seems to be something of a resurgence in using fountain pens. I’m aware that they’ve never quite gone out of style, but I know several recent “converts,” as well as a few folks who tend to sing the praises of their pens quite enthusiastically, encouraging others to give them a try. They are particularly nice gifts when accompanied by a lovely journal.
Pimsleur language learning software – Learning a foreign language can help a writer gain greater appreciation for their own language, helps improve vocabulary, makes one more conscious of word choice and sentence rhythms, and is just plain fun. I’m a fan of the Pimsleur programs, but there are plenty of other options out there to choose from.
A web site – Newbie writer in your life? Help them get started with an author site by giving them a gift certificate for a year’s web hosting or the domain of their choosing.
Time – Know a writer with small children? Offer to take the kids off their hands for a Saturday afternoon so they can have a nice long writing block to themselves. Gift a homeowner with a few free weeks of a housecleaning service or lawn maintenance to free up their time to write instead.
Bookstore or literary tote bags – More and more people are taking their own reusable tote bags with them when they shop or run errands. Supply your favorite writer with a great washable bag to take to the bookstore, library, or even the grocery store.
Books for Writers: Just a few titles I think are interesting or helpful.