Gifts for Writers Part III

by Eric Staggs Every year it hits like a tidal wave – a rush of panic – what will you buy for the writer on your list? If you’re anything like me, the very idea of Black Friday sends chills through your bones. Here’s a handy guide to help select the perfect gift for writers (a notoriously difficult group to buy for) and most item can be ordered online. The best part is most of these things can be ordered online, allowing you to get some serious shopping done without the battle scars of yet another Black Friday Shopping nightmare! Like any profession, writers need tools to do their job effectively. These tools vary widely and depend greatly on personal preference, but there a few gadgets that every writer shouldn’t be without.   Books Reference books are a must for any writer. My top five desktop reference books are: A Dictionary of Theories, Dictionary of Astronomy, Medical Dictionary, Latin-English Dictionary and a Dictionary of World Mythology. That covers most of the basics for day-to-day writing.   Voice recorder Micro-voice recorders are an excellent gift for any writer. It takes some time to get over the self-consciousness of talking your ideas out to a little machine, but after a while not only do you get used to it, but you feel like you’re in a sci-fi movie, making secret plans in case you’re captured by some galactic nemesis. The only “must haves” on these mini-voice recorders are USB output and a mini-jack for earphones. The slew of other features are just bells and whistles.   eReader This little piece of technology is about the slickest thing next to pop-rocks we’ve come up with. There’s about a thousand flavors of them now. The Nook, the Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPad offers apps for all .epub and .mobi files. many publishers are offering their own version of what I refer to as the miracle bookshelf. Do you research, make sure the titles your Giftee wants on available on the platform you chose. As well, some folks like the e-ink display better than the backlit LCD. You can’t go wrong with this gift.   Anthologies Writers must read! This is necessary to stay inspired, to keep up with evolutionary changes to their favorite genre and to see how techniques and methods are working for other authors. However, often the selection of fiction piece can be random and a big commitment, for someone who wrestles with time management anyway. Anthologies on the other hand, are filled with dozens of short stories, already filtered and of top quality, in easily digestible, bite size chapters.   iPad2 Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve got a Kindle and an iPad2...

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Gifts for Writers Part II

The Twelve Days of  the Season by Tam Albright   Of all the many gifts you could give the writer in your life this holiday, there is really only one thing that writers want.   On the first day of the season, my loved ones asked of me: “Are there enough ideas for your WIP?”   So, on the second day of the season, my loved ones gifted me, with Two back up hard drives, And enough ideas for my WIP.   On the third day of the season, my loved ones helped some more, with Three unrelated plot bunnies, Two back up hard drives, And enough ideas for my WIP.   On the fourth day of the season, the blinking cursor mocked: (Many four-letter swear words,) Three unrelated plot bunnies, Two back up hard drives, And enough ideas for my WIP.   On the fifth day of the season, my loved ones distracted me: Five times I forgot to hit “SAVE!” (More four-letter swear words,) Three unrelated plot bunnies, Two back up hard drives, And enough ideas for my WIP.   On the sixth day of the season, I wrote my loved ones in: Six doomed characters, Five times I forgot to hit “SAVE!” (F-dash-dash-dash word,) Three unrelated plot bunnies, Two back up hard drives, And enough ideas for my WIP.   On the seventh day of the season, I vented to the Net: Seven writing #hash-tags, Six doomed characters, Five times I forgot to hit “SAVE!” (Still swearing swear words,) Three unrelated plot bunnies, Two back up hard drives, And enough ideas for my WIP.   On the eighth day of the season, my loved ones gave me advice: Eight clichéd phrases, Seven writing #hash-tags, Six doomed characters, Five times I forgot to hit “SAVE!” (*eye-roll* Four-letter swear words,) Three unrelated plot bunnies, Two back up hard drives, And enough ideas for my WIP.   On the ninth day of the season, my “hobby” was discussed: Yeah, nine old trunked novels, Eight clichéd phrases, Seven writing #hash-tags, Six doomed characters, Five times I forgot to hit “SAVE!” (“I’m a sailor” swear words,) Three unrelated plot bunnies, Two back up hard drives, And enough ideas for my WIP.   On the tenth day of the season, I became quite desperate: Ten magical McGuffins, Nine old trunked novels, Eight clichéd phrases, Seven writing #hash-tags, Six doomed characters, Five times I forgot to hit “SAVE!” (Swear words just to say them,) Three unrelated plot bunnies, Two back up hard drives, And enough ideas for my WIP.   On the eleventh day of the season, with my loved ones fast asleep, I had Eleven cups a-coffee, Ten magical McGuffins, Nine old...

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Gifts For Writers Part I

by Ditrie Sanchez   Have you ever found yourself struggling to remember which notepad, receipt or napkin you once scribbled a really cool idea on? Maybe, like me, you have a collection of notebooks of various sizes, shapes, bindings and colorings strewn all about the house. Or maybe you’ve noticed the ideas in one of your notebooks are too scattered and unorganized to make any sense of them. As a writer, you find that much of your world is constantly changing. One minute you’re researching World War II era American military clothing, the next you’re trying to pick the perfect color for your next unholy dragon. Organizing all of these fantastic but disparate ideas while not wreaking havoc on the naturally random creative flow is a skill every author needs to hone. Thankfully, now there is a tool to help.  The revolver journal, which is much less violent than it sounds, is basically a Transformer (lasers sold separately). Now, let’s say that you’re busy working on your military drama piece but out of the blue you think, egads! Coral blue is the perfect color for my giant metallic dragon of doom! With the revolver journal, all you have to do is fold it into your fantasy journal and copy it down. You don’t even need to leave the couch! Consider it the Rubik’s cube of journaling. It’s color coded, switchable and makes you look really cool at parties. Or nerdy. Same thing, really.   In the writing world, we are expected to write what we know. This means that if you’re writing about a subject and you don’t know anything about it, it’s time to do some research. Now, research can be done in quiet libraries whilst poring over various tomes of knowledge, or it can be conducted at home through the comfortable, if somewhat detached resources of the world wide web. However, the most effective research comes from hands-on experiences. Live interviews, taking tours of story locations, learning to use the tools of the trade that a character should know. Of course, this puts a certain group of writers at a researching disadvantage right off the bat. Science fiction and fantasy writers are no more able to visit their worlds or shoot their laser blasters than I’m able to sprout beans out of my nose (believe me, I’ve tried). However, I’ve discovered the one thing that can be a game changer for this poor, disadvantaged group of writers. And it comes in the form of a pen. A ray gun pen, to be more specific. (pyew, pyew, pyew!) Now science fiction and fantasy writers alike can revel in the chrome and lacquered goodness that befits any proper hero...

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Don’t Hide From Your Story!

It wakes you up in the middle of the night. It nudges you on the drive to work. Inside of you, somewhere in the dusty recesses of your mind, an idea is itching to be brought to life. You have a story waiting to be told, a story the world needs to hear. So why are you sitting here reading this post? In the time you’ve been Tweeting, updating Facebook statuses and surfing the internet, you could have written the first paragraph of your next best-selling novel. This is the problem all writers face at one time in their lives. Having the chutzpah to write every day come rain, snow, sunshine or zombie invasion is no small order. When it comes down to it, you’ve got to learn how to psyche yourself up to write. Here are a few ways you can do that: 1.) You will never have the time to write. Make the time. Pencil it in your calendar. Set an alarm. Stick a post-it note to your bathroom mirror. Do whatever it takes to get it done. 2.) It’s okay to write crap. That’s what first drafts are for. Even Stephen King writes first drafts. Say what you need to say and get it out. You can clean it up on the rewrite. 3.) Reward yourself. Writing is hard work. Recognize your accomplishments and use that as motivation to move forward. 4.) One day at a time. You will not write the best American novel in a day. Break down the project into smaller, bite-sized bits that you can achieve a day at a time. Don’t try to swallow an elephant. 5.) Build community. Stay in regular communication with writers and other creatives that motivate and inspire you. Feed off of each other’s energy. Spur each other on to greatness. (But remember, spending five hours chatting and zero time writing does not count. That, my friends, can be filed under procrastination.) Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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Happy Halloween!

Many thanks go out to Mavinga for creating this scary monster for us! Be sure and check out more of his artwork, don’t forget to always be Disturbing! Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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Halloween Catch Up

Some Scary Links BBC: Where Monsters Come From Halloween History Wikipedia: Halloween Another Version of Halloween History Some Scary Books   On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears I took a class from the author of this book, great professor and a gifted writer. Professor Asma’s insight into the human condition is almost supernatural. As he walks you through the various culturally constructed terrors of modern society, he expertly points out the folly and inconsistencies in each of those superstitions. Malleus Malificarum We’re not going to link to this book since you can get various versions from a dozen sources ranging from free to well past not-free. This is the original Witch Hunter’s Manual, written by a pair of charlatans. Frankenstein Considered a classic of horror literature, one might consider the deeper meanings in this troublesome tale. Is this a Luddite’s warning about science unchecked or a challenge to the existence of God? Literature professors worldwide still waste undergraduate’s time with this heady and unresolvable debate. But if you haven’t read it, you need to. World War Z If you haven’t read this one by now, you need to throw off that rock you’re hiding under and get with the program. This well researched, cleverly constructed historical account of the Zombie Apocalypse is true a modern horror classic. The audio-book version, though abridged, stars the voice talents of Allen Alda, Mark Hamill, Henry Rollins and a whole slew of other professional actors. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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