Not a Pantser. Not a Plotter. I’m a Puzzler.

What’s your writing process?

It’s such a common question for authors, and one most writers I know give a great deal of thought. Because we don’t simply hatch one day fully grown as authors who know exactly the best way to write books.

The best writers learn story structure, prose techniques, characterization, emotional depth, and all the good “craft” stuff that makes our writing shine. Good writing can be studied and learned, and we all want that destination of a story well told. But HOW we get from Point A to Point B differs from writer to writer. It can take a while to figure out your own best practices.

When I began writing, I was pretty much a pantser — that is, someone who free writes, by the “seat of my pants.” The story just came out on the page, and I went wherever it took me.

After a while, I decided I was a recovering pantser, though still not a plotter — someone who plans storyline and characters and plot points and scenes in advance. Still, I dove more into outlines and timelines and character sheets.

Then I did something really weird: I drafted two novels out of order. That is, I came up with a general outline, then wrote a scene here, a scene there, another scene here. I didn’t write the story chronologically, but plugged in scenes as they came to me. When finished, I had to work out transitions and flow. But all in all, it sort of worked for me.

One of my writer friends, Jenny Hansen, calls it “story quilting.” Which is a great metaphor. I’m not the least bit crafty, though, so “quilting” was a bit hard for me to connect with.

Not a Pantser. Not a Plotter. I'm a Puzzler. via Julie Glover
I’m a Puzzler.

But I love puzzles. Whether it’s jigsaw puzzles or crossword puzzles or brain teasers or mysteries, I love a good puzzle. I like working on a section at a time, then moving to another, and then another, until it all comes together.

The other day I realized my current writing process is like working a puzzle — a piece here and a piece there, until I have all the pieces fitting together just so and a complete image forms. I start with a solid outline and major characters, like building the corners of a jigsaw puzzle first, but then I let myself write scenes in whatever order I want. Slowly but surely, I build the novel and see the full picture getting clearer and clearer.

Is this a typical way to write? No, it’s not. Which is probably why it’s taken me so long to fess up to this process working for me. But somehow, it does.

My takeaway is that writers should master their craft, but experiment with their process. When someone suggests “the way” to write, it might work great for that someone, but not so much for you. Be willing to try different things, and see which approach brings out your best story.

Maybe you’re a pantser. Maybe you’re a plotter. And maybe a few of you out there are puzzlers, like me.

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RT Convention in Dallas: Come Say Howdy!

The Romantic Times Book Reviews  is a genre-specific website and magazine. It doesn’t deal only with straight romance, but any novel category that includes romance. And it hosts a huge reader-focused convention each year, with this year’s soiree happening in Dallas, Texas.

Which is, in Texas terms, like my back yard. Only a few hours’ drive from the Houston area, I’m coming up this next weekend to enjoy the festivities on Friday and Saturday, May 15 and 16. If you’re planning to be there as well, I’d love for you to come say howdy!

Where can you find me? I’ll be at the Shooting Stars Gala on Friday at 10:00 a.m. hosted by The Bent Agency and The Seymour Agency. I’m also planning to go Line-Dancing with the Literary Stars at 12:20 p.m. I’ll attend a few workshops as well and the awards ceremony that evening. On Saturday, it’s book fair time!

How can you find me? I will be looking like my picture (mostly) and wearing cowboy boots (at least on Friday). Because yes, cowboy boots go with just about everything.

If you’re in the area, be sure to come by! Day passes are available, and the Giant Book Fair is only $10. There’s a Teen Day Program as well for only $30. It would be well worth your time and money to come by, where hundreds of authors will be hanging out and signing books. Check it out at RT Convention.

And if you can’t make it, HOWDY anyway! Because a virtual howdy is better than none at all.

My Very Own Coffee Shop (I Wish)

When I’m not working away in my home office, I get my writing and editing done at a local café or coffee shop. Oftentimes, I meet with other writers with the caveat that we chat a little and work a lot.

But it’s hard to find that perfect place to eat, drink, chat, and write. Which means that sometimes we dream about what the perfect coffee shop for writers would be like . . .

Cup of black coffee
By Kenny Louie via Wikimedia Commons

First, there must be coffee. Or, in my case, tea. (I don’t drink coffee.) There’s not much point in going someplace if you can’t at least get a hot or cold beverage you don’t have at home. So a good cup of coffee or tea (or a glass of wine in the p.m.?) is a must. My very own coffee shop might not have 400 hundred ways to order coffee, but you could get a quality cup of joe to keep you going as you write.

Second, there must be WiFi. Yes, there are times when it’s better to get off the Internet and get the writing or editing done. But many of us conduct book research on the Internet or access a thesaurus online or re-post a meme on Facebook during a quick writing break. So my ideal coffee shop would have unlimited WiFi and two routers, in case one goes kaput.

Third, the thermostat must be set at a reasonable temperature. We’ve ditched places that feel a meat freezer. So someone with a decent sense of temperature settings (probably not the person serving steaming coffee all day) needs to fiddle with the thermostat and make it comfortable for patrons. My coffee shop would stay at a nice, comfortable temperature, and if enough patrons complained, I’d move the dial.

Fourth, good-sized tables. Look, I know it’s a coffee shop, but tables the size of TV trays are not conducive to drinking and getting work done. Ideally, a good place to work has options — with tables for two, tables for four, and a larger set-up for groups. Which my very own coffee shop would have.

Fifth, electric outlets all over the place. Laptop batteries don’t last forever. Sometimes, a place is great, but you have to hunt down a hidden outlet and then crouch into the fetal position to plug your computer in. My coffee shop will have outlets at regular intervals along all walls. Plug away!

All of these things are make-or-break must-haves. But hey, it’s my very own coffee shop, so I am not stopping there.

How about a full menu of fabulous food? You need more than coffee to recharge, so my place would offer pastries, salads, sandwiches, entrées, and desserts. All at prices a struggling writer can afford.

By Bill Smith, via Wikimedia Commons (Wouldn't name mine after any senator, but breakfast, lunch & dinner? Yep!)
By Bill Smith via Wikimedia Commons (Wouldn’t name mine after a senator, but breakfast, lunch & dinner? Yep!)

gorgeous view can be inspiring. This is why writers long to have retreats at the beach, in the mountains, or in a quaint French village. Some amazing scenery can spur you on when you get a little stuck or feel the need to remind yourself there’s a world out there beyond your monitor screen. So my coffee shop would offer this view:

Microsoft Word pic (Just ignore that it's actually in the Caribbean)
Microsoft Word pic
(Just ignore it’s actually in the Caribbean)

An in-house bookstore will be available for perusal and purchase. Because what’s better than having a one-stop shop where you can eat, write, and buy your books. Get a little tired of working on that chapter? Go hunt down your next read, and your mood will perk right up.

Books on shelves & stacks
From Superbmust via Wikimedia Commons
(Maybe not this many, but plenty of books.)

An on-site massage therapist. Hey it’s grueling to hunch over a laptop and work all day long. So there will be a small room in back for 15-30 minute massage breaks. Just loosen up those shoulders and that back, and then return to the writing chair refreshed and ready to create fictional worlds!

By Conny Nordin via Wikimedia Commons (Oh, yeah.)
By Conny Nordin via Wikimedia Commons (Oh, yeah.)

What would you like to see in your coffee shop? What perks would you add to make it a fabulous place to work and to relax?

How to Write a Tantalizing Book Blurb

Today, I’m thrilled to be guest-blogging at the fabulous blog by Jami Gold, paranormal romance author. Here’s a snippet of Jami’s introduction, along with where to find my tips for writing a tantalizing blurb, or book description, for your story.

I’ve spoken before about how no matter how we publish, we have to come up with a great book description—either for use as the query or the back-cover blurb. If we go the traditional route, we might have an agent, editor, or copywriter from the publisher help us improve our blurb before we’re in stores. But if we self-publish, we’re on our own. . . . 

Most blog posts about queries and blurbs focus on those first two steps with advice about what to include or how to structure our book’s description. But it’s that last step that can often take our blurb from good to great.

So today we have Julie Glover, who’s an expert at that last step. She’s here to share tips on how to make a blurb or query stand out. (And yes, she’s the one who stepped in to help me with my blurbs at that Step 3 phase—and was agenius!) Please welcome Julie Glover! *smile*

Read More.

Have You Experienced Post-Novel Depression?

In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about postpartum depression — as well we should, since it affects quite a few moms. Even those without full-blown depression can experience a form of “baby blues.” Just when you think you should be infused with unending stores of joy — finally having given birth to the child you anticipated for so long — you’re feeling blah times two, or ten.

I’m starting to wonder if the same thing can happen with writing a book.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished The Book — that is, the book I’d been working on in some way or other for three years. But now, it’s done. Drafted, rewritten, critiqued, edited, polished. As good as I can make it. I did a little happy dance and then opened up a new project, jumping with excitement about tackling a new novel.

And then the blahs hit.

Instead of working, I really wanted to watch TV and take naps and chat on Facebook and clean my closet. Which, admittedly, needs cleaning.

But still… What happened to my enthusiasm? Wasn’t this what I’d been excited about since forever? I’d been thrilled to finish the book, and now, suddenly, I felt mehMeh about writing. Meh about editing. Meh about blogging too.

Sad woman looking out windowPerhaps this is something like a post-novel depression. Not a true, full-blown depression. (Don’t send me “happy pills” or a psychiatrist. I promise, I’m fine.) More like Finished Book Blues. Just a sense of letdown, because I’d been aiming at this Big Massive Goal for so long, and once I crossed the finish line . . . well, what now?

Yes, I should be writing. I should be editing. And I still should be cleaning out my closet.

But I haven’t yet.

Maybe you’ve been through a similar circumstance.

WebMD suggests 10 natural treatments to fight depression, and I think they might apply with Finished Book Blues as well. Here are each of the 10 — with my own take on what that means for writers.

1. Get in a routine. Sit down at a regular time each day and write something, anything. Don’t get up until the timer has sounded or the word count has been met.

2. Set goals. Old goal has been met? Set new ones — with a deadline. That sense of urgency with the almost-finished book doesn’t exist with the new project, so you have to create that motivation.

3. Exercise. Yep, your brain works better when the blood flows well throughout your body. And you’ll get a burst of energy from a good workout.

4. Eat healthy. Too many carbs and sugar come with a after-eating malaise, so make better food choices that feed your brain cells as well as your body.

5. Get enough sleep. Getting enough, but not lying around all day, is the trick here. It’s about balance — figuring out how much sleep you need to function well. (Which, by the way, is typically more than you’re getting. Most people are sleep-deprived.)

6. Take on responsibilities. Get involved in a writers’ group, offer to beta read or critique for someone, join a writing accountability group. Don’t wallow; get busy.

7. Challenge negative thoughts. Maybe you’re thinking that you wrote one great book, but you’re not sure you have another one in you. Or perhaps you fear that this next project will be as grueling, or more grueling, than the last. Answer all that self-doubt with affirmations about your writing ability and zeal. You. Can. Do. This. (Again.)

8. Check with your doctor before using supplements. Don’t grab the 5-hour energy bottle, or whatever, just yet. Artificial boosts aren’t likely to suddenly morph you into J.K. Rowling or John Green. If you are sinking into true depression, though, see a doctor.

9. Do something new. Do some writing exercises. Write a short story. Try writing a scene in a different genre. Take a current scene and rewrite from the viewpoint of an alternate character. Read a writing craft book. Take an online writing course or attend a conference. Re-awaken your excitement for storytelling.

10. Try to have fun. Writing and editing are work, but this is also a truly fun job. Writers get to create characters, weave worlds, and saturate ourselves in beautiful language. We get to craft a story that enables a shared experience with readers. We get to make things up, play pretend, lie on the page. What fun!

I’d probably add one more to their list: Drink plenty of water. According to PsychCentral, “even mild dehydration can influence mood, energy levels and the ability to think clearly.” Sometimes I get a mid-afternoon dip in energy and realize I haven’t been drinking enough, so I grab the bottled water and swig a bunch of ounces. And I feel better.

Have you ever experienced “post-novel depression,” or Finished Book Blues? What’s your advice for snapping out of it?

Sources: 10 Natural Depression Treatments – WebMDDehydration Influences Mood, Cognition – PsychCentral

What It Takes to Write a (Good) Book

When you tell someone you’re writing a book, the next question is often some variation of “So when is it coming out?”

We writers sometimes get in our cozy little circles and laugh hysterically at how quickly many people think you can go from first draft to on the bookstore shelves. But really, how does one know these things? I sure didn’t when I got started. I had no idea what it takes to write a book–much less a good book.

And that’s probably a good thing. Because it’s a bit like parenting. How many would have really embarked on such a chaotic disruption to our lives if we’d known all there was to know about having children beforehand? But once you jump in, you pull up your sleeves, get dirty (all the up to your elbows), and discover both the tough challenges and the genuine joy of the process.

And now that I just put the final polish on a novel I started three years — yes, three years — ago, I thought I’d break down a bit of what it really takes to write a (good) book.

Write Something1. Commit to writing it. There are a lot of people walking around saying, “I have a great idea for a book” or “Someday I’m going to write a book.” All well and good, but if there’s one constant across genres and approaches, it’s that writers write.

For years, I wanted to write fiction. But I didn’t. It wasn’t until I committed to writing an hour a day, five days a week, that I began to experience the reality that I actually could draft a novel and saw the story unfolding before me. Some writers plunge into writing full-time and others have little time to devote at first, but regardless you have to commit through action to writing one word after another on a page.

2. Learn about the craft. Yes, yes, you took high school and even college English — and you were good at it. Or you crafted beautiful stories in a journal hidden under your mattress. Maybe you posted fan-fiction on a website and shared stories with friends. That is the spark that ignites your desire. But sparks aren’t fires. If you want to write a good book, you’d better fan those flames. That means figuring out what you’re doing and how to do it well. I recall my realization that, while I’d read a lot and knew I could write, I didn’t know enough yet to write a great book and needed to learn a lot more.

I understand writing is not rocket science or brain surgery, but it does require skill. And the best writers have very well-developed skills. They get those skills through reading, but also by learning about the craft of writing through classes, books, conferences, articles, conversations with fellow writers, workshops, mentors, beta readers, critique partners, writing organizations, etc.

3. Finish the book. For as many finished books as there are in the world, I’m convinced there are at least triple that number in unfinished manuscripts. Now undoubtedly, some of our stories should remain untended, buried, locked away perhaps. But if you want to write a good book, you have to actually write a whole book. Ten beautiful chapters that leave off in the middle do not constitute success.

Finished first drafts matter a lot, because while the book still isn’t complete, you’ve made a huge step toward the endgame. The most important step, some might contend. When I finished that first manuscript, I wanted to climb my roof and shout “The End!” to the universe. Because yeah, it’s a huge deal to write an entire book, beginning to end, first page to last, prologue to denouement. So however you can motivate yourself, keep plugging through and finish the dang book.

4. Edit, edit, edit — and edit some more. See, this is where it all goes haywire in our heads. Sure, some authors have only three drafts, two drafts, or even publish their first draft. But for the rest of us non-superheroes, there will be a lot of editing. This is even more true for novices.

Those early on in this journey should expect to write and rewrite and revise and polish the manuscript several times over. If you’re in the middle of this journey, you’re probably still churning out more drafts than you wish you could. Little by little, we do hone our process, and the number of drafts needed to reach our best decreases. But the amount of editing great authors do is still likely more than the average reader realizes. Even if they don’t do that much editing before turning in a manuscript, the publishing house editor or hired editor (for indies) will request changes.

5. Get content editing, line edits, and proofreading. Speaking of which, when the author’s finished with the book, it’s time for some kind of editing — by someone else. This can be content or developmental editing, line or copy editing, or proofreading. And these suggested changes can come from paid professionals or from beta readers and critique partners.

When writing the story, you’re wading through the thick forest of your plot, characters, and prose. Of course you know the saying: “I can’t see the forest for the trees.” Yep, after a while, you know your story so well — even things the characters think and feel that you never actually put on the page — that you can’t see it in the same way a potential reader would. So you must get other eyeballs to review your work and see if it makes sense — plot-wise, character-wise, grammar-wise, etc. If you want that great book, you simply cannot skip this crucial step.

6. Begin the long path to publication. Here’s where the road diverges for traditional and self-published authors, but it’s still a long road. Traditional authors must query or submit their manuscripts, wait for revision requests, communicate with editors and cover art departments, and do some other things I don’t yet know about because I haven’t done it. But I do know that it’s not atypical for a year or more to pass from manuscript submission to book release.

Self-published authors make their own deadlines and release dates, but they have to create or (better yet, in my opinion) hire out the cover art and format the book. If they want their book sold in several places (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc.), they have to format to each accordingly. As you might expect, this takes time. Some people are quicker than others, but more often, it can be months from manuscript completion to release date.

So this is why my book will not be available on bookshelves next week. I’d like my novel to be out there as soon as possible, but since I want to give readers the best story experience I can, I’m willing to take my time.

What do you believe it takes to write a good book? What part of the process has surprised you?

Overwhelmed by Social Media Choices

My Twitter feed is whining a lot lately. Some days it sits there, neglected and lonely, glaring at me as if I’ve locked it in the closet and forgotten to feed it all day. Which, some days, I have.

Feeling even more guilt for my indefensible level of negligence, I finally closed down my LinkedIn account last year. I’d like to say I wept a tear of regret, but honestly I did it with a sigh of relief. I do feel bad when I get requests from people wanting to add me to their network on LinkedIn, but would it really be fair to say I’m connecting there when you’re more likely to find me in the party aisle of Wal-Mart at 5:00 a.m.?

I have Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat accounts — which will greet me like a long-lost cousin at the family reunion the next time I show up. “Where you have you been? We haven’t seen you in forever!”

I never bit the bullet and joined Google +. I was afraid I’d distort the circles, what with my tendency to step outside the lines too often. (Plus, it seemed to be arranged with visual people in mind, which I am decidedly not.)

And now there’s tsū, a free social platform that believes in “quality content, real ownership, and the value of one’s own network.” Translation: They’re trying to compete with Facebook, especially in the wake of FB users disgruntled with constant changes to policies and accounts. Word on the street is you should join.

As you can see, I’m overwhelmed by social media choices. This short list doesn’t even include sites like Goodreads, Wattpad, Tumbler, Pinterest, and more. And if you write for teens, as I do, potential readers can migrate from one social media platform to another, as one site becomes less trendy and another becomes The Place to Be.

So where does this leave me? Besides huddled up on the corner of my closet eating through the rest of the Christmas candy and re-reading my wrinkled copy of A Wrinkle in Time.

Well, I’m hoping for social media clarity in 2015. Actually, praying for it. I’d even be willing to do a hokey rain dance complete with chanting, if that would help.

I’m too aware of the saying “jack of all trades, master of none” to try to take on everything. Indeed, I defend my decision to shut myself out of LinkedIn (where, believe me, teens are not) to dedicate myself to being an actual presence on those sites that I enjoy the most and that will allow me to connect best. (Just as soon as I’m positive which ones those are…)

So that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Where should we invest our social media time?

And the answer will be different for different individuals, depending on goals. For myself, I’m well-connected to the writer community on Facebook, where I plan to remain — at least for the time being. I’d like to revive my Twitter account (so stop whining, feed!). And I want to make a more concerted effort to engage on Goodreads, Instagram, and YouTube.

My list could change, but I think it’s advisable to choose a few social media platforms and engage consistently there. That’s my plan for this year.

At least, until someone fiiinally perfects the cloning process. Anyone? Anyone?

On which networks do you engage? Do you have favorites or neglected accounts? How do you feel about the plethora of social media choices?

A Round of Words in 80 Days: Honestly, I’m still trying to decide whether to participate in ROW80 this time. I just haven’t figured out the order of my goals, so I may be waiting for a bit and joining up mid-round or Round 2.

5 Questions to Ask before Querying

WRITERS IN THE STORM
WRITERS IN THE STORM

Today, I’m over at the fabulous Writers in the Storm blog with Are You Ready to Query?

I’ve come to enjoy pitching my story to agents. Not because I’ve landed a seven-book, multi-million-dollar deal, but because I relish the opportunity to talk about my book and learn how to better present my story. The feedback I’ve received has helped me hone the answer to “Am I ready to query?” Here are five questions you should ask before sending out a query. Read More.

ROW80 Update

1. Edit, polish, and release two more short stories in my Paranormal Playground series. I edited both, and I’m waiting on a critique partner’s comments on one. Realistically, these releases will happen after the first of the year.

2. Read 12 books. Read The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, which puts me at 10 books. And I’m really trying to read Mansfield Park, one of the few Jane Austen novels I haven’t read, but I am dragging through it. I’ve even thought about skipping the book and watching whatever BBC series there is on the story. Is that lame?

3. Attend Immersion Master Class and follow-up. I completed Immersion, and I’m still plugging through edits on Sharing Hunter. Make really good progress! Oh, and I entered the Golden Heart contest, which opened up on December 2.

Now how’s your week been? What have you been up to?

The Beauty of a Book Cover

Yes, it’s the story inside the book cover that matters. But we book lovers also know how a beautiful cover can beckon a potential reader to give a novel a shot.

That’s one reason why I hired a professional cover designer to create my short story covers, like this one:

My Sister's Demon book cover

And here are some of my favorite book covers for books I’ve read in 2014:

Favorite Book Covers 2014

Aren’t they pretty?!

Given how helpful a quality cover can be in bringing in a reader, I wanted to share with you the annual contest my local Romance Writers of America (RWA) chapter hosts. Here’s the information provided to me with permission to post:

Since 2005, Houston Bay Area RWA has been proving that you CAN Judge A Book By Its Cover. JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER CONTEST 2014 is open for entries.

Your covers will be judged by booksellers around the world, and the winning cover in each category will be featured in a full-page color ad on the inside front cover of the April 2015 Romance Writers Report.

Again this year, we will also feature the Reader’s Choice Winners from each category on our website. Hundreds of thousands of votes were cast for the JABBIC 2013 covers during the Reader’s Choice voting!

IF YOUR BOOK IS SELF-PUBLISHED, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT’S DUE (YOUR COVER ARTIST OR YOURSELF).

Entry Deadline: Entries must be received by January 15, 2015

Entry Fee: $15

Eligibility: Published in 2014

Enter: The cover of your book or novella published by a traditional house, self-published, ePublisher, or POD during 2014

Entry Format: Electronic files (JPG or GIF) only

Categories: Contemporary Series, Single Title/Mainstream, Historical, Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal, Sexiest Cover, Young Adult and Inspirational

Judges: Booksellers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia

Top Prize: Winners will be featured in a full-page color ad on the inside front cover of the April 2015 Romance Writers Report

FMI, entry form and rules, visit our contest website.

Even if you don’t have something to offer, make sure you participate in the Reader’s Choice awards. I’ll make sure to plug that here when voting opens.

Now what are your favorite covers for books you’ve read in 2014? If you’re a published author, what cover of your own is a favorite? And how was your week?

♦   ♦   ♦

ROW80 Update

1. Edit, polish, and release two more short stories in my Paranormal Playground series. I have edited two stories, and one is in the capable hands of a critique partner.

2. Read 12 books. Read another nonfiction title, plus The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. That takes me up to nine.

3. Attend Immersion Master Class and follow-up. I completed Immersion and (yay!) made edits this past week on Sharing Hunter.

10 Gifts for the Bookish and the Writerly

Christmas is creeping up on us! Here in the United States, many begin browsing or purchasing holiday gifts soon after they devour the Thanksgiving turkey and pies. As for myself, I stay home on “Black Friday,” happy to avoid the crowds and the madness. In fact, I do much of my holiday shopping online.

So once again, I have combed the Internet looking for gift ideas for the bookish and the writerly on your present list. If you’re wondering what to buy for someone who fits that bill, or if you’re putting together your own wish list for family and friends, check out some of these fabulous and fun gifts!

Book Dishware. When you love books, you just can’t get enough of them — or even the reminder of them. So why not eat off book-shaped plates and platters? Gone Reading offers a variety of crisp white dinnerware for the book lover in your life.

Book shaped dinnerware

My favorite? The cup and saucer. Perfect for a lazy afternoon of reading and sipping tea.

Tea Cup & Saucer

BabyLit Books. Despite their title, I believe these books are for ages 0 to 99. BabyLit board books teach early learning concepts such as counting, language, and opposites through the use of classic literature references.

Baby Lit Books

 

For instance, Alice in Wonderland teaches colors like this:

Baby Lit Inside

 ~ ♥ ♥ ♥ ~

Book Mark Pads. Is it just me, or do others constantly lose their bookmarks? I’m forever hunting around for a bookmark, even though I know I must have several around here somewhere. How about a whole pad of bookmarks? With 25 sheets to a pad, it’s okay to lose one; just get another.

Book Mark Pads

Phone Skin. After using Android cell phones for years, I finally got an iPhone this past fall. And soon after, I started shopping for covers. Decal Girl had many choices, such as these:

iPhone cases

Or you could grab a book cover case from Out of Print Clothing:

Book Cover phone cases

Themed Jewelry. Your book lover or writer might want to wear their passion, in the form of jewelry. I suggest heading to Etsy.com and running a search for handmade jewelry that fits your recipient’s interest and taste. But here’s a lovely necklace I found from ALikelyStory, for the writer in your life:

Wordsmith necklace with pen pendant

Mouse Pad. Zazzle.com has a veritable plethora of book-themed mouse pads, with everything from quotes to reading scenes to add-your-own-book-cover. Here’s a sample:

Mouse Pads

If you’d rather go personalized, check out the options at LillianVernon.com.

Mouse Pads

Crime Scene Tape Leggings. If you read or write mystery or crime novels, you might adore the crime scene tape leggings from PrettyGuide.com. Of course, whether you have the figure to pull off that look is entirely up to you.

Leggings

Steering Wheel Laptop Desk. If only that writer could get some words down while waiting in the parking lot for her kid’s activity to finish or while sitting in the car during lunch break . . .  How about a laptop desk for your car? Zone Tech makes just such a thing.

Laptop desk for car

Office Supply Gift Card. Not surprisingly, the bookish and writerly tend to adore office supplies. We can spend hours perusing office organization products, computer accessories, and desk trimmings. Being let loose with a gift card in an office supply store sounds awesome to many of us.

Gift cards to Office Max, Office Depot, and Staples

Writer-on-Deadline Gift Basket. Yep, you have to put this together yourself, but trust me, this would be wonderful for writers who are under the time crunch of NaNoWriMo, contract deadlines, or self-publishing goals. Here’s one I put together and a list of items you could include:

Writer's Deadline Gift Basket

  • Tea bags – mix up the caffeinated and decaffeinated, for the writer to use as needed
  • Writer encouragement mug – a glimpse at the cup might reinvigorate the writing
  • Snacks – to keep up energy and strength
  • Coffee, soda, or energy drinks – for that extra push
  • Multivitamins or immunity booster (like Airborne) – to keep the immune system strong
  • Composition book – for jotting down scenes, character issues, edits
  • Do Not Disturb sign – to remind the writer’s household not to interrupt the magic (you can find the one I used here)
  • Post-it notes – for marking up the manuscript in the editing stage
  • Highlighters – same as the post-its
  • Pizza delivery gift card – for those times when supper preparation needs to give way to word count
  • Back massager/relaxer – hunching over the computer can give a writer backaches
  • Champagne/wine & glasses – to celebrate when the deadline is met!

For previous years’ gift lists, check out the following posts:

Gifts for the Grammar Geek
Gifts for the Word Lover
Gifts for the Book Reader
Gifts for the Writer
10 Holiday Gifts for Readers and Writers

ROW80 Update

This may be my worst ROW80 yet! I’ve been MIA on my blog for a couple of weeks and involved in a side project that has taken me away from my goals. Still, here’s where I am:

1. Edit, polish, and release two more short stories in my Paranormal Playground series. I actually edited a story and sent another one to a critique partner for feedback.

2. Read 12 books. Since checking in, I’ve read There Goes the Groom by Rita Herron, City of Glass and City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare, and a nonfiction title. That takes me up to seven.

3. Attend Immersion Master Class and follow-up. I did Immersion, but I still need to do a lot more editing on my WIP.

What gift ideas do you have for the reader or writer in your life? What would add to my writer-on-deadline gift basket? And how was your week?