Friday Links: Late-Night Fly-By Edition

Sneaking in a little late this evening for a quick edition of Friday Links. It’s been a weird week for everyone, trying to keep all the wheels turning while battling the stress and anxiety of recent events. I did not want to forgo posting this week’s links, however, because routine is important. So here’s a pocket of normal in the middle of the insanity.

First off, if you didn’t see my post earlier this week, please check it out now and join us for the Virtual Writing Cruise. We kick things off tomorrow with a virtual happy hour. Just sign up for The Creative Academy — membership is free — and you’ll be able to RSVP for any of the workshops that interest you. Please do click those buttons, however. We want to make sure the room tech can handle everyone who wishes to attend.

Now on to the rest of the links. Like last week, these are a little more random than usual, things designed to distract and entertain. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

The Value of Owning More Books Than You Can Read. – A look at why you shouldn’t feel guilty about the state of your TBR stack.

Winchester Mystery House Virtual Tours. – Take a virtual tour of this bizarre building, offered temporarily while the house is closed to in-person visitors.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic. – The British Library presents this virtual tour of the popular exhibit.

Ellen Datlow Recommends 13 Dark & Creepy Books to Read in the Time of COVID-19 (That Are Not Apocalyptic). – Pretty much as described.

Personal Data: Notes on Keeping a Notebook. – So many writers are revisiting the idea of keeping a journal or notebook in the midst of the pandemic, I thought this slightly older piece might be of interest.

 

Holiday Gift Guide: What to Get for the Writers in Your Life

‘Tis the season of shopping and gift-giving. But what do writers want? (Or what hints should you drop to friends and family?)

Truthfully, most writers would like a book deal, but assuming that’s not within the scope of your powers, I’ve a few more practical suggestions. Some might overlap with other gifts-for-writers posts this time of year, but I hope to spark some fresh ideas. I’ve tried to provide items within a range of budgets and for varying tastes. Apologies for the late date of this post, as I know a few of these might be difficult given shipping times, etc. Have fun, and don’t forget to leave time between shopping trips to get your own writing done!

Assorted Gifts for Writers: 2019

I love software gifts for writers with technical inclinations. Scrivener sits high on my list of great gifts. For writers working on a series, historical novels, or anything with world building, Aeon Timeline offers a simple way to keep track of dates and facts. Check out 4 the Words for writers who like gamifying their lives; it encourages a daily habit with low minimum word counts and fun monsters to battle.

Shopping for a writer looking to work on their craft? Gotham Writers Workshop offers a wide range of online classes in addition to their in-person courses, and gift certificates are available.

Subscriptions for writers keep giving all year long. Check out popular writing magazine options like The Writer or Poets & Writers. Or try a literary magazine subscription like Slightly Foxed, The Paris Review, Asimov’s Science Fiction, One Story, or Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

Do you know a writer with a stationery habit? Check out Goulet Pen Company or JetPens for fabulous fountain pens and ink, rollerballs and ballpoints, journals, and pencases. FYI: the Lamy Safari or Pilot Metropolitan make reasonably priced gifts for anyone just getting into fountain pens. And Field Notes currently has a wonderful selection of pocket-sized notebooks with illustrations of national parks on their covers.

Bookish Gifts

Let’s not forget books. Writers love books, because writers read long before they wrote. For beautiful editions of interesting classics, old and modern, visit Folio Society. (Note: I’ve linked to the USA site; there’s a separate one for the UK.) Persephone Books reprints lovely editions of titles that have gone out of print, mostly by mid-century women authors. The ladies at Slightly Foxed have a similar mission to reprint books–often intriguing memoirs–that are worth reading but have slipped out of the public eye in recent years.

As far as specific titles go, I love this year’s Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dryer. It offers advice on (writing) style with a great sense of humor.

Health and Wellbeing

Writers spend long hours hunched over desks, so consider giving the writer in your life something to help keep them healthy. Gift certificates for a massage, bubble bath, healthy snacks, or some soothing scented candles might all be welcome. I’m a fan of the S’well water bottles; they keep drinks cold for 24 hours and can sit on a desk without worry about spillage, plus they’re great at conferences. Keep your favorite writer hydrated!

Odds and Ends

If you’re shopping for writer-themed odds and ends–mugs, T-shirts, jewelry, printed scarves, etc.–check out these diverse sites:

The Reader’s Catalog

Out of Print

BookRiot Store

Storiarts

The Literary Gift Company

You might also consider giving the gift of cultural appreciation. Writers need to refill the well from time to time, so membership to a  local museum, gift certificates to a cinema or theater, or tickets to some sort of event can get them away from their desks and spark their imaginations.

Finally, give the gift of time. If you know a busy writer who has a hard time carving out time for their craft, offer to watch their kids for a few afternoons, sign them up for a meal delivery service or give them gift certificates for their favorite take-out place, or pay to have someone clean their home a couple times a month. Especially for writers on deadline, this type of personalized gift can really lighten the load.

Friday Links: Revisit Writing Basics

What does it mean to revisit writing basics? Simply put, this week I’d like you to peel away some of the technology and bells and whistles and look at the bare bones of your writing habit. If you have writer’s block, this approach may help unmoor your ideas. Otherwise, going back to basics for a day or two can renew your creativity in general. A short hand way to think of this approach is “butt in chair, brain in gear.” You might also want to focus on the building blocks of your craft. Read some of your writing aloud, listening for rhythms and word repetition. Maybe forget your fancy computer program and work for a bit in longhand. Write daily and read good books.

I’ve collected the ususal assortment of links this week, with a fair amount of writing advice included. Keep in mind that the best writing style is the one you develop for yourself. So take a look at these varied ideas about writing and apply the ones that work for you. Not every writing trick inspires every writer. I hope at least a few of these will send you to your desk this weekend. Enjoy, and happy writing!

This Week’s Links

Why Digital Note-Taking Will Never Replace the Physical Journal. – Thoughts on why physical journals survive in this digital age.

An Oubliette of Unconventional Writing Advice. – Chuck Wendig offers some entertaining advice on writing advice as a whole, and some common-sense ways to get your work done.

How I Do It: Anne Rice on Writing Technique. – Some very specific ideas on how to approach the art of writing.

London’s Amazing Underground Infrastructure Revealed in Vintage Cutaway Maps. – Fabulous images to inspire either historical or fantasy fiction set in London – or something completely original.

NaNo Prep: Make a Box for Your Bully. – Some excellent advice on silencing that inner editor so you can just write. (Plenty of time to edit when the draft is done.)

Start It Already: How to Start Your Novel – Great tips on how to actually start writing that book, for those of you staring at a blank page/screen.

Friday Links

Happy Friday! And for those of you here in the U.S., happy Independence Day weekend! Please make sure you stay safe in the midst of all your revelry.

As for my plans for the weekend, there’s a BBQ with friends on my calendar, but in the meantime I plan to be lazy and catch up on both sleep and my personal reading. It’s been a crazy few weeks and that’s about all my energy levels will allow. However, I’m leaving you all with this week’s links in the event you have a quiet moment or two and want something entertaining to check out. Enjoy, and happy weekend!

How to Write a Series: 8 Novice Mistakes to Avoid – Ever wonder how authors juggle series writing? This might give you a few clues.

10 Captivating Short Stories Everyone Should Read – Some great classics, a few of which you may have read before, but all worth checking out or revisiting.

Women Writers on Twitter: In Their Own Words – A number of women writers discuss their experiences with Twitter.

Travel Journals – A peek into Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s travel journals from 1960, 1961, and 1982, for a breath of summer adventure and some inspiration.

Where to Start with Brazilian Literature – A nice round up of titles for anyone looking to read more books in translation or just farther afield.

Holiday Shopping for Writers

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.

Writerly gifts:

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.

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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.

aeon_timeline

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.

Literary-themed gifts:

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.

shakespeare insult_1

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.

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Read Harder T-shirt – One of several designs on offer from the new bookish store at Book Riot.

2015 Literary Wall Calendar – A different author/quote each month in a beautiful black-and-white design.

Evolution of Literature Poster – Featuring an image for each of 34 authors arranged chronologically. Posters featuring just one author are also available.

Evolution of Literature_CreativeDaffodil

Literary Cufflinks – Handmade, featuring text on the front image.

Subscription to a literary magazine/journal – Especially helpful for writers interesting in essays or short fiction. I’ll include a list of suggestions in my upcoming post featuring books for writers.