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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Great Christmas Gifts for Writers

Speak it softly, but Christmas is just a month from today...

Assuming you celebrate the festival, or at any rate the gift-giving and receiving aspect, you may well have some writer friends or relatives you'll be buying for.

In this post, then, I thought I'd set out some suggested Christmas gifts for writers. These are all things I'd like myself, if I didn't in most cases have them already! Note that to save time, and avoid this post running on too long, where possible I've linked to earlier posts when I first mentioned the items in question.

Thinking of books first of all, one top recommendation for anyone who doesn't have it already is Stephen King's On Writing. It doesn't matter whether the potential recipient is or is not a horror fan. On Writing is an entertaining and informative read, written in King's usual highly accessible style (though without any corpses).

The book is a mixture of autobiographical material - some of it very amusing - and tips and advice for writers. The latter is useful if not earth-shattering. I would see this book as primarily an entertaining read rather than a writing manual, but none the worse for that. Image links to the book on and can be found below. As usual, if you are receiving this post by email, you will need to visit my blog to see them.

A good introductory guide for new writers is The Greatest Freelance Writing Tips in the World by my near-neighbour Linda Jones. It is primarily written for UK authors, though much of Linda's advice would apply equally across the world. Linda comes from a journalistic background, and her advice on 'pitching' to newspaper editors especially is well worth reading. At its modest asking price, this beautifully produced book is a steal.

For any aspiring TV scriptwriters, especially if they happen to be science fiction fans as well, the newly published Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale by Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook would be an ideal present. In this fascinating (and beautifully illustrated) book you get to see how the popular BBC TV series is written and edited. It's also well worth visiting the book's dedicated website, where you can read more reviews and background info, and download six free scripts from the show.

And speaking of scriptwriting, if your friend or relative is an aspiring movie writer, don't forget that my sponsors, WCCL, produce a popular guide on CD-ROM called Write a Movie in a Month. If you order now it should arrive in plenty of time for Christmas. And if you order via my blog review, you can get a $20 discount AND my two extra bonus reports!

Another gift any writer would be delighted to receive is one of the annual market directories. For US publications, you can't beat Writer's Market, published by the all-conquering Writer's Digest organization. For UK markets, there are now three annual market guides battling it out: The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, The Writer's Handbook, and the latest arrival, Writer's Market UK. When I reviewed all three earlier this year, Writer's Market UK came out slightly ahead of the other two. But read my blog review of UK market guides and see what you think.

Leaving books aside now, an idea suggested to me by my colleague Suzie Harris is a digital pen. These clever devices let you take notes anywhere - in a meeting, watching TV, on vacation, in bed, and so on. Then, when you get to your office or study, you can plug the pen into your PC, and everything you wrote will be transferred into it.

A popular digital pen (and the one Suzie wants) is the Dane-Elec Zpen. This pen also has OCR software that will read your handwriting (assuming it's legible) and save it as text. For writers, I could see this modestly priced tool having a whole host of uses.

I've put links to the Zpen at and below. As mentioned earlier, if you are receiving this post by email, you may need to visit my blog to see the image links.

A final possibility is an e-book reader. I believe that 2009 will be the year that e-books finally take off in the mass market, as the latest e-book readers really do make this a comfortable and enjoyable way of reading a book (the old argument about not being able to read them in bed definitely no longer applies).

In the US, Amazon's Kindle Reader has been sweeping all before it. For technical reasons the Kindle is not yet available in the UK and Europe, though it is expected to be launched in the new year. In the mean time, however, the Sony Reader has been getting good reviews.

Whichever reader you get, there are thousands of ebooks you can download free of charge, both classics and newly published books whose authors have chosen to distribute them in this way (see this one, for example). Other ebooks you will have to pay for, but they are cheaper than the equivalent printed volume and won't take up any space on your shelves after you have read them. Again, I've put links to both leading ebook readers below.

Happy Christmas shopping!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought you might be interested in a holiday story/poem writing contest that WWAOW is sponsoring on Grand prize winner receives $250. Top 10 stories will be included in a compilation book and each winner will receive a free copy. You can find more details on the web site.

The Christmas holidays are the inspiration for stories all over the world. Submit your own Christmas, holiday or winter story or poem and be eligible to be included in our holiday story book, to be published in Jan. 2009. Once you submit your story, be sure to tell your friends and family. Winners will be decided by visitor voting on the site.

Register for a free account to upload your story and to be eligible to vote for your favorites.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous gifts to pakistan said...

Great tips for writers.I love this.Add some collection.........???

6:19 AM  

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