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Barb’s guide to surviving Christmahannukwanzadan Solstice….You’re welcome

#6: The Office Party. (here)

#5: Waiting in lines.  (here)

#4: Visiting Santa(here)

#3: Mall Christmas Music   (here)

#2: Presents (for writers, of course!)

It’s been another tough year for writers. Sure, we tell lies about our imaginary friends make up stories, but it really works best if our worst fears stay within their 85K word count instead of becoming POTUS.

Frankly, as the holidays approach this year, that special writer in your life needs more from you than pretending (again) to read their book or even buying it on Amazon. (Buying it yet again if you’re their mom.) They need you to go beyond reminding them about personal hygiene, putting on pants before they go out, or if they’ve been arguing with their characters out loud. (Again.)

Right now, your special writer needs some love. And what better time to show you care than the holiday season? Luckily, there are a lot of absolutely senseless gifts to gladden the heart of any writer. Last year I offered writerly-gift suggestions–

Practical gifts are out, of course, because if writers were practical…well, they certainly wouldn’t be writers. [see:It’s (still) not personal… It’s the (writing) business.]

In addition to all those mentioned in last year’s writers gifts post here, I’ve got a few more essentials.

  1. Peace and Quiet. There isn’t a writer alive who doesn’t want to scream “STFU World!” express their desire for some version of the Cone of Silence. Until science catches up to TV though, you might try getting your writer away from it all. If you think outside the grid, peace might actually be cheaper than you might expect—

    For only £35/night, you could send your writer “Eco camping“— off-grid on the Isle of Mull off Scotland’s west coast. NOTE: This would NOT work for me, however, because it doesn’t pass my immutable lodging rule: never stay anywhere you have to put on shoes to use the loo. If you have a similar standard, check out the next suggestion.

    Spend a bit more and write in this posh bothy (usually a shepherd’s hut, but in this case an ultra pimped cottage on a Highland estate, complete with champagne and deluxe bath toiletries). Best of all? It’s in the teeming metropolis of the irresistibly named Meikle Wartle—not to be confused with the clearly inferior next village of Drum Wartle… The dog and I spent several nights here whilst (you get to say “whilst” in Scotland, at least if you fit the word “wee” into that sentence somewhere) on a wee walking tour (see how I did that?) of stone circles in the Scottish Highlands around Inverurie. The “estate” turned out to be a castle that the Leslie family has held for 900 years(!) according to a welcome note signed by the 16th Laird. But we never saw the Laird or another soul. For three days, my little dog, my laptop, and I —and about a million sheep, of course—had sole possession of the adorable stone cottage perched in front of a walled secret garden. (£89/night for the bothy at Wardhill Castle. NOTE: for those of you who might want to stretch out a bit more, Wardhill Castle is also available for £950/night although the bagpiper is extra.)

    Or channel the great man himself with a stay in John Steinbeck’s house. [$210.48/night, Pacific Grove, California]

  2. “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.”—Ogden Nash.

    Inspiration and comfort comes in many forms. Some are very good.


    Commas save lives. And, sometimes, deliver caffeine. [Zazzle]

    Some are good and quick.

    A few rules of thumb. Size ALWAYS matters. As a guide, "bigger than your head" is a winner.

    Chocolate. (NOTE: A few rules of thumb. Size ALWAYS matters. As a guide, “bigger than your head” is a winner.)

    Some of them just work better. [Image credit wonderhowto.com] http://img.wonderhowto.com/img/original/30/55/63495757180003/0/634957571800033055.jpg

    Some forms of comfort just work better. [Image credit wonderhowto.com]

  3. Cool Tech. You know you want it.

    Virtual keyboard (mini laser, and wireless, of course). [£79  from Lamaston]

    Sometimes the pen really IS mightier than the sword (or at least the butcher knife). And best of all, your new tactical pen comes complete with titanium case (because we all hate it when our ballpoint breaks just as it’s going into someone’s jugular), glass breaker, flashlight, and DNA sample collector [eeew]. [Image credit: yourhomesecuritywatch.com]

    Haven’t you longed to channel your inner Hemingway or Christie, hearing the satisfying sound of keys pounding, while slapping back that carriage return?
    Sure it’s pointless…but it’s just SO screaming cool. Get your typewriter conversion kit here for only $99. The other writers will be so jealous.

  4. The well-dressed writer. Mwa-ha-ha-ha. Okay, there are a metric ton of T-shirts and other apparel items bearing writerly admonitions. But let’s face it. One of the enormous advantages of being a writer is that you never have to get dressed up. Or get dressed, for that matter. If any writers get up, pull on a clean and pressed outfit, and do their hair before they sit down to write…well, I don’t know them, but I do hope their new live-in lover lasts past that first week, because I’m pretty sure the grooming won’t. So instead I’ll add in a few de rigeur grammar nazi items, and a baby outfit because you can never start their programming too young.


    Celebrate the small victories. The Booker Prize can wait. [winner]

    [Image credit: The Literary Gift Company] https://www.theliterarygiftcompany.com/collections/baby-gros/products/a-modest-proposal-babygro

    [Image credit: The Literary Gift Company]

    [Image Credit: Zazzle] https://www.zazzle.co.uk/grammar_snob_about_whom_your_mother_warned_you_6_cm_round_badge-145291939337405540

    [Image Credit: Zazzle]

    [Image credit: Zazzle] https://www.zazzle.co.uk/you_had_me_at_the_proper_use_of_youre_6_cm_round_badge-145582539358015154

    [Image credit: Zazzle]

  5. Stocking stuffers. If your writer has been very good pretty good hasn’t actually been arrested this year:
    **I can't be the only writer who wants a dog named Damn Spot JUST so I can tell him "Out, Damned Spot." [Image credit: The Literary Gift Company ] https://www.theliterarygiftcompany.com/collections/new/products/lady-macbeth-soap

    **I can’t be the only writer who wants a dog named Damn Spot JUST so I can tell him “Out, Damned Spot.” [Image credit: The Literary Gift Company ]

    There isn't a writer alive who isn't an expert at this. You might want to pair it with a manicure set for avoidance nail-grooming, or a pair of scissors for making very poor hair-trimming decisions. [Image credit: Etsy] https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/228031400/gifts-for-writers-go-away-im-not-writing?ref=market

    Procrastination. There isn’t a writer alive who isn’t an expert at this. You might want to pair it with a manicure set for avoidance nail-grooming, or a pair of scissors for making regrettable hair-trimming decisions. [Image Credit: Etsy]

  6. Genre-specific.  —
    For your favorite thriller writer— Is that a gun in your USB or are you just happy to write it? [Image Credit: Amazon] https://www.amazon.com/Black-Shape-Flash-Drive-Memory/dp/B004SY0O8C

    For your favorite thriller writer— Is that a gun in your USB or are you just happy to write it? [Image Credit: Amazon]

    For the historical fiction writers plus general literary boo-boos:

    "Do thou amend thy face and I'll amend my life."—Henry IV Part I [Image credit: Amazon] https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BPWU3SQ/?tag=buzz0f-20&ascsubtag=2805171%2C27%2C29%2Cdesktop%2Ckangaru%2Ccommunity

    “Do thou amend thy face and I’ll amend my life.”—Henry IV Part I [Image credit: Amazon]

    For your favorite horror writer:

    They like you for your brainzzzz. [Image credit: The Literary Gift Company] https://www.theliterarygiftcompany.com/collections/bookends-and-shelving/products/zombie-bookends

    They like you for your brainzzzz. [Image credit: The Literary Gift Company]

Of course, there is a fabulous gift that every writer dreams of but may be too shy to ask for themselves. It’s the one thing that every person they know could do for them. It’s easy, and (in these days of below-subsistence-level book pricing) it’s even cheap. You can buy their book, read it, and then—here comes the gift part—write a review. Just tick off some stars, say a few words about almost anything at all (but the book is a good place to start) and you’re done. You don’t have to write a gift tag or wrap anything. Believe me, your writer will think it’s the best present you could ever give. (Unless you happen to be on the nominating committee for the Booker prize, of course. In that case, you might want to go with the two best words ever written.)

If not?

Every writer deserves this.
[image: Fishs Eddy]

What’s the best gift for writers you’ve ever given or received?

[NOTE FROM BARB: Please come back over the next few days for the number one reason that the holiday season sucks. Ho Ho.]


BLURB:  The 12 Slays of Christmas, a twelve volume set by Abby L. Vandiver,‎ Judith Lucci,‎ Amy Vansant,‎ Colleen Mooney,‎ Amy Reade,‎ Nell Goddin,‎ Colleen Helme,‎ Kim Hunt Harris,‎Larissa Reinhart,‎ Cindy Bell,‎ Summer Prescott,‎ Kathryn Dionne

Have Yourself a Merry Cozy Mystery Christmas!

A 12-book, Christmas-themed, boxed set with Recipes!

We’ve got twelve new, never-before published, Christmas-themed cozy mysteries in a boxed set from twelve cozy authors! Holiday murder and mischief abound, but not to worry we’ve got our share of amateur sleuths!

And to make everyone’s holidays bright and merry, the authors of The 12 Slays of Christmas, in addition to sharing our Christmas whodunit stories with our readers, are donating the proceeds from our boxed set to an animal rescue shelter. C’mon! Buy a book, rescue a dog! (or cat!)

Can’t you just feel Christmas in the air? So, put on your winter mittens, dust off your holiday recipes, start humming those carols, and have yourself a Merry Christmas with a little murder, a whole lot of fun, and a gift of love to our cozy pet partners in crime solving!

What’s in the Boxed Set:

Abby L. Vandiver – Baby, it’s Cold Outside

Judith Lucci – The Most Wonderful Crime of the Year

Amy Vansant – Stollen Time

Colleen Mooney – Death by Rum Balls

Amy Reade – The Worst Noel

Nell Goddin – The Case of the Curious Biscuit

Colleen Helme – Devil in a Black Suit

Kim Hunt Harris – Frankincense, Gold and Murder

Larissa Reinhart – A View to a Chill

Cindy Bell – Christmas Chocolates and Crimes

Summer Prescott – Home for the Holidays

Kathryn Dionne – Murder at the Holiday Bazaar

Bonus – Recipes from the Authors.

And we love hearing from our readers, so stop by our website at 12slaysofchristmas.com and see what we’re up to. You can find out more about the authors, our 12-book boxed set, and how you can donate to a rescue shelter.

My Review: 5 out of 5 stars for The 12 Slays of Christmas, a twelve volume set by Abby L. Vandiver,‎ Judith Lucci,‎ Amy Vansant,‎ Colleen Mooney,‎ Amy Reade,‎ Nell Goddin,‎ Colleen Helme,‎ Kim Hunt Harris,‎Larissa Reinhart,‎ Cindy Bell,‎ Summer Prescott,‎ Kathryn Dionne

I have to admit the truth. I haven’t read every one of the twelve full length cozy mysteries included in this delightful holiday-themed set. But the ones I’ve finished so far are absolutely perfect for curling up for a long winter’s read even if the weather outside isn’t frightful. The quality varies, as do the themes and settings. But all have been charming so far, with several as absolute standouts. In fact, at the holiday give-away price, you could read one of these books for $.99/£.99 and not only would that give you the other eleven for free, but you’d get the holiday recipies as a bonus. So I’ll just mention two that I particularly enjoyed, and urge each of you to help yourself to hours of cozy mysteries, and help needy dogs and cats as well. 

  • The Worst Noel by Amy Reade. I’ve been a fan of Amy Reade’s writing since her atmospheric gothic, Secrets of Hallstead House. In her contribution to the collection, Amy gives us a letter-perfect cozy mystery. Wikipedia defines a cozy mystery as “a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.” True to the definition, sex, profanity, and violence are “behind the door” and only gently referenced. Reluctant sleuth Lily Carlsen is a single mother of two young teens who has spent years building her reputation as a successful jewelry designer and shop owner in her small Colorado town. She’s counting on the holiday sales season, so the the last thing she needs is to stumble over a dead body in her shop on Black Friday—especially when the victim is another shop owner who had been arguing with her. With mounting threats from her past, danger to her family, and her growing attraction to a new man with secrets of his own, Lily faces the worst Christmas of her life.
  • A View to a Chill by Larissa Reinhart. It took me a few chapters to figure out what was going on in this nonstop rollercoaster hilarious tale. Author Larissa Reinhart gives no quarter to anyone who hasn’t already been following the two protagonists of her ongoing mystery series, Maizie Albright Star Detective and Cherry Tucker Mysteries. But if you love southern settings with plenty of sweet tea and eccentric characters, the meetup of these two heroines is epic. Not only did I race through the pages, but I immediately headed over to Amazon to download the first book in the series.

This collection really is the best kind of holiday present. All of these authors have donated their creativity and efforts to make The 12 Slays of Christmas absolutely entertaining, and also to help needy shelter pets. They deserve more stars than I have to give.

**I received this book from the publisher or author to facilitate an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Purchase link:

Order The 12 Slays of Christmas Boxed Set Now for .99c. – Ships December 5, 2017