Reader/Writer Friday: Your Holiday Shopping List

Are You On Your Holiday Shopping List?

The holiday shopping season has arrived. Black Friday has passed and we are being inundated with offers of “special” prices. You are probably making your lists and preparing yourself for the shopper’s journey, fighting the crowds in person. Or, maybe you plan to take the arm chair version of the ordeal, shopping online.

Either way, I have a question for you. Do you have yourself on your list?

What if Santa told you he had a whole new division of elves eager to be creative and invent new tools or services for you? Have your ever thought of something you would like to receive as a gift that would make your writing easier, faster, better, more enjoyable? For any of the following:

  • Planning
  • Outlining
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Publishing
  • Marketing

Since anything is possible in this exercise, and there is no cost to you, how creative can you get? What can you invent? An AI based marketing program that does everything for you? A desktop Gutenberg self-publishing machine that allows you to put in the various papers, cardboard, and formatted Vellum/Atticus/D2D file, and out pops your paperback or hardcover?

Or maybe you have an idea for something that is not new, but is a new situation, like an editing/marketing company that locates beside your house and will provide free services to you in exchange for putting a large sign in your front yard.

You get the idea, we are brainstorming, and the sky is the limit.

Grab your coffee, put on your thinking hat, and invent something new for your writing. Pretend that it is Santa’s “Design Your Own Gift Week.”

Reader Friday – What’s on your Christmas list?

It’s not too late. You have nine days to get your request in. Well, actually eight, if you want Santa to deliver it. And that’s if you’ve been nice.

So, what’s on your Reader/Writer Christmas list? And, as I so often do (remember, I write fantasy), we won’t place any limits on the price or performance or actual reality of your requested gift. In fact, let’s see how creative you can get. We write fiction, right?

The only requirement is that the gift request relates to your reading or writing. Okay, now tell us about your dream gift. And don’t go on too long, or Blitzen will push the time-limit buzzer. She wants to get that gift made and packaged.

 Oh, I almost forgot: “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good holiday break!”

Tis the Season: Gifts for the Writer in Your Life & 2016 Resolutions

Jordan Dane


After the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve had my mind filled with plans for Christmas and the holidays, like getting presents from
I’ve already got my house decorated. 2014 was a rough year for me, but 2015 feels like a rebirth – a time to enjoy the many blessings in my life. It’s a time to reflect on this year while keeping my eye on 2016 and the goals or resolutions that can move my writer career forward, but I’d like your help to open my mind to the notion of resolutions.

I’ve never been one to commit to New Year resolution(s) and make a big deal about stating them aloud. I secretly set goals throughout the year and push to make them happen – things like setting daily writing goals, visualizing my completed novels for the new year, and how many prepared proposals I’d like to get out. I consider this career planning, but what about you? Does it help to make a resolution and let it be known so you’re committed? What writer goals have you set in the past? What’s worked for you? I could really use your positive vibes and I’d like to hear your success stories.

I thought it would also be fun to look at gifts for the writers in your life. custom phone cases are always useful because you can tailor them to whoever you’re buying for. Online shopping is a great way to find the gifts you want and with so many discounts available from places such as PromoCodeWatch there’s bound to be something that will be perfect, and for a cheaper price too! Last year I treated myself to a severed arm that I keep in my freezer. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Here are a few that appealed to my weird humor:

Mr Write Tee

Mr Write T-shirt at AmazonFor Mr Obvious


Cafe Press Mug – 12 Days of Christmas for WritersSome of these gifts would be very appreciated.


Shower Writing PadI seriously need to get one of these, but It’s kinda freaky.


Writers Clock – from Cafe Press – What? Only one PANIC!


Cafe Press – Books Shower CurtainAgain with the shower theme.


From Writer Store – Magnetic Movie Linesfor your fridge or white boards


The Writers Store: Literary Action Figures – They have Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, and Sherlock Holmes (Okay, why is Holmes in this group of authors?)


The Writers Store: The StorymaticStory Ideas and Writers Prompts in a Box

Discussion Questions:
1.) What gifts would you like to receive (as a writer)? Or what will you give your writer friends this year?

2.) What resolution(s) will you make for 2016?


The Last Victim available now. “When FBI profiler Ryker Townsend sleeps, the hunt begins.” Sale links HERE:

Mystery Movies

As the holidays approach, we may be looking for gifts that appeal to writers. In my house, movies are always welcome. Besides the classics like Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, here are some of my favorites in the mystery genre or movies involving writers. A happy ending is a must for my taste. This list does not include TV series or the Hallmark Channel mystery movie collection.


AMERICAN DREAMER with JoBeth Williams and Tom Conti.
One of my all-time favorites. A romance novelist wins a contest and a trip to Paris. En route to the awards luncheon, she’s in an accident and suffers a head injury. She wakes up believing herself to be the heroine in her favorite books. A spy caper follows that’s all too real, as she teams up with the author’s handsome son who thinks she’s a nutcase. That is, until someone tries to kill them.

DROWNING MONA with Danny DeVito and Bette Midler.
A funny whodunit in a small town with a wacky cast of characters.

GOSFORD PARK with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Northam.
An English drawing room mystery in the grand fashion that takes place at a country estate. Aristocrats and servants alike have secrets that slowly unravel during a hunting party weekend. Albeit a bit slow-paced, this film requires repeat viewings to catch the nuances.

HER ALIBI with Tom Selleck and Paulina Portzkova.
A hilarious escapade wherein mystery novelist Phillip Blackwood falls for a suspected murderess while searching for inspiration to unlock his writer’s block. Did the mysterious and beautiful foreigner have a hand in the victim’s death? If so, is he foolish to vouch for her alibi and bring her home? And are the accidents that ensue truly accidents, or is he next in line for her lethal highjinks?

MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton.
A Manhattan housewife thinks her next door neighbor is a murderer. She enlists her friends to search for clues. Probably my favorite Woody Allen film out of all of them.

MURDER 101 with Pierce Brosnan.
English professor Charles Lattimore assigns his class to plan the perfect murder as a literary exercise, but when he’s framed for a woman’s death, he has to find the killer before the detective on the case finds him. Will his students help him solve a real murder, or is one of them guilty?

MURDER BY THE BOOK with Robert Hays.
A mystery novelist thinks he’s hallucinating when his hero appears in front of him and talks back. He’s been thinking of changing to a new series and scrapping the sleuth, but now he needs the fellow’s help to solve a real murder.

THE BOY NEXT DOOR with Dina Meyer and Christopher Russell.
A romance writer goes on a retreat to a small town to seek inspiration for her next story. When her next door neighbor is found dead, the chief of police suspects her. Even when her place is ransacked and someone tries to run her off the road, he discounts her theories and refuses to look into the incidents. It’s up to our heroine to prove her innocence and uncover the killer before his next attack turns fatal.

FLOWER GIRL (Hallmark Channel Movie)
This is a classic romance with an element of mystery. The heroine has to choose between two suitors: a staid lawyer approved by her mother, and a writer who answers evasively whenever she asks about his work. Guess who she’ll pick? The revelation at the end is reminiscent of American Dreamer.

What are some of your favorite films involving murder mysteries or writers? Note: I am on a cruise and will not be able to respond, but you can make suggestions and I’ll check back later.

Gifts for Writers

Nancy J. Cohen

What should you buy for the writer on your gift list? Here are some ideas that may appeal to all in no particular order. Some of the more interesting gifts I’ve received have come from my writer pals or my kids, like the jar labeled Writer’s Remedy that holds little squares with different words for inspiration, or the figure holding a hammer to his computer with a plaque that says #1 Author & Mom, or the coffee mug with my book title. One year, my husband gave me a glass-blown Disney castle to represent my dreams coming true. Be imaginative or be simple. Whatever you give will be appreciated.


1. Books and DVDs on their Wish List.
2. Gift Cards to Amazon, BN, Starbucks, Office Depot, iTunes or their favorite shopping site.
3. Office Supplies: Sticky notes, highlighters, Sharpie pens, a good quality ballpoint pen, paper clips, pocket notebooks. You name it, we can use it.
4. Personalized notepads or sticky notes.
5. Cute desk accessories like Brighton pens or desk clocks or magnetic paper clip holders.
6. Scented candles to make the office smell good.
7. Body lotions, hand cream, scented soaps. These are always useful.
8. A gift certificate to a day spa. A manicure or massage can go a long way toward relaxation.
9. Flash Drive. We can use several of these to back up our files and to keep in different locations.
10. Portable charging device for electronics.
11. Food baskets, chocolates, and wine. You can never go wrong here.
12. Decorative coasters for their desktop.
13. Collectible paperweights.
14. Restaurant gift cards so they don’t have to cook.
15. Cute novelty items for writers. Look in all those catalogs you get in the mail.
16. DVD movies about writers. Years ago, I gave my critique group pals each a DVD of Her Alibi. Starring Tom Selleck, this movie is a hilarious romantic crime caper about a mystery writer. Or get one of the many take-offs on Jane Austen (Austenland, Lost in Austen, plus the works themselves), English period murder mysteries or Downton Abbey, the latest season of Castle, or anything else your loved one might appreciate. Remember how we all loved Romancing the Stone? The classics never go out of date.
17. Did I already mention chocolate?

What else would you add to this list?