It’s been (another) tough year for writers.
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.
- 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—
Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.—Ogden Nash.
Inspiration and comfort comes in many forms. Some are very good.
Some are good and quick.
- Cool Tech. You know you want it.
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.
- Stocking stuffers. If your writer
has been very good pretty goodhasn’t actually been arrested this year:
- Genre-specific. —
For the historical fiction writers plus general literary boo-boos:
For your favorite horror writer:
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.If not?
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.
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.