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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 a pandemic that flips the off-switch on the world.

Frankly, as lockdowns, restrictions, and facemasks rule, 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 Zoom, or if they’ve been arguing with their characters loud enough for the neighbors to complain. (Again.)

Right now, your special writer needs some love. And what better time to show you care? Luckily, there are a lot of absolutely senseless gifts to gladden the heart of any writer. In previous years, 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 previous years’ 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, especially now that WFH and enforced pandemic sheltering have reduced their writing space to six square inches of the breakfast table. Until science catches up to TV though, you might try getting your writer away from it all. If you think outside the grid, socially-distanced peace might actually be cheaper than you might expect—

    For only £40/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.)

  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 in SO many situations…)

    Some forms of comfort just work better. [image credit: SneakyBooks]

  3. Cool Tech. You know you want it.

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

    You’re walking down a deserted alley when you hear footsteps behind you, closing quickly. You turn around and see him—your worst nightmare—the man WITH NO FACEMASK. Obviously, it’s a murder-by-covid attempt. But no worries! You whip out your trusty tactical pen. Because 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]. Act quickly, and we’ll include a coupon for 50% off on the bathtub-o-sanitizer you’ll need after using that pen. [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 $119 The other writers will be so jealous.

  4. Your writer will already have a wide assortment of random t-shirts with ironic sayings or forgotten band promos.

    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. Even before lockdown, 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: BadgePig]

  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]

But the very best gift, the one every writer lives for?

Of course, there is a fabulous gift every writer dreams of but may be too shy to ask for themselves. It’s the one thing 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.) [image credit: Goodwin & Goodwin]

If not?

Every writer deserves this.
[image: Amazon]

And for all you generous readers, author Amy Reade has a gift. To celebrate her new release, Mayday, book 5 in her charming Juniper Junction cozy mystery series, she’s offering Book 1, The Worst Noel, for sale price of $.99.

BLURB:  The Worst Noel by Amy M Reade


The holiday season should be a time for peace, love, and joy. But for Lilly Carlsen, this Christmas is murder.

On the busiest shopping day of the year, Lilly opens her jewelry shop only to discover that it’s been burglarized. And then … she trips over the body. Talk about a Black Friday.

When a second victim turns up, Lilly finds herself squarely in the crosshairs of suspicion. The clock is ticking as Lilly tries to unwrap the mystery of the real killer’s identity.

Can she figure out who killed the victims before she’s arrested—or becomes a victim herself?

And as if dealing with all this isn’t hard enough, Lilly’s deadbeat ex-husband resurfaces, her mother’s mental health is declining, and her two teenagers are acting just like … teenagers.

Find out whether her family’s Christmas be merry or scary in this cozy, small-town mystery perfect for fans of Kathi Daley and Jacqueline Frost.

Recipes included!

My Review: 5 out of 5 stars for The Worst Noel by Amy M. Reade

I’ve been a fan of Amy Reade’s writing since her atmospheric gothic, Secrets of Hallstead House. In the first book of her Juniper Junction series, 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.

What did I love about this book? In addition to the setting, I loved that the families were so real—they squabbled, worried about each other, fought, and made up. But a threat to one was a threat to all. They offer support as well as love, even when they might not agree with the decisions taken. I loved that people from widely differing backgrounds were shown so sympathetically, and most of all, I loved that a mature single mom was the heroine.

This holiday-themed series has a wonderful cast of characters whose evolving relationships become more fully rounded with each installment. If covid-fatigue has you longing for a charming series with quirky humor and a heroine you can root for, I recommend getting to know Lilly’s family and friends in Juniper Junction.

Recipes included!

[click on image for buy links]

[click on image for buy links]