10 Gift Ideas for Readers 

Do you have a reader in your life that you need to buy a gift for? Christmas gift? Birthday Gift? Hanukkah gift? Eid Gift? I’m here to offer suggestions! Basically, this is my Christmas wishlist, but I suspect I’m not alone in wishing for these items. The items are not in any particular order.


*Now for the legal gobbly-gook– I am not earning any money, no kickbacks, no commission, no nothing, from any of these places. I do not work for any of these companies. I am friends with Moulden Studios people though. I’ve ordered from some of these places, but not all so I can’t vouch for all of them. 


 

MORE Books! 

Readers love books. It is often hard to keep up with what readers have and have not read. We always seem to have the compulsion to buy the books we want as soon as they come out, whether we can afford them or not. May I suggest a gift card to help them with their addiction.  (price any amount you want)

Scarf

I have been eyeing the literary scarves on Storiarts website forever. (price: $48)

Socks or other bookish clothing

You can find fun socks here at Out of Print Clothing and fingerless gloves here at Storiarts. I purchased the banned book socks through their store in Amazon. (price: $20 and up)

Posters or Paintings

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Readers quite often love all kinds of memorabilia related to our love of reading. I found an artist on Instagram who paints influential women in her life. I fell in love with her JK Rowling painting. Alas, it was beyond my budget. She also did one of General Leia. The artist’s name is Elizabeth Hope and her handle on Instagram is @artistshope . If you have several hundred dollars to spend, her paintings are worth every penny. (price: posters $15 and up, paintings: hundreds. Rowling-$475 I think.)

Tea/ Coffee/ Hot Cocoa 

I love all of these beverages steaming hot! Republic of Tea, Blackberry Sage is my favorite Tea. I usually get it from World Market. For Hot Cocoa, I love good old Swiss Miss! I found some Peppermint Hot Cocoa K-cups. Oh Yum!  Amazon has a large selection of coffees, as does World Market. (price: $5 and up)

Bookish Mug or Cup

 

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Moulden Studios

 

What is a hot beverage without something to put it in? There are a million places to buy mugs. I am partial to Mouden Studios. Leigh and Daniel Moulden run this business and are friends of mine. Here is a mug and Portfolio they did for me. I’ve used the mug weekly for the last 6 months and it still looks brand new. They do all kinds of custom engraving and printing. (price: $5 and up)

 

 

New Case for Reading Device

Etsy has all kinds of cases for various devices. (price: $20 and up)

Audible or Kindle Unlimited

If the reader you are buying for has a long commute, then Audible might just be the thing they need! I have a 45 min-1 hour commute each way to work. I don’t mind a bit because I listen to Audible Books. #BestThingEver (price: $14.95 per month)

Some people prefer reading on an electronic device. If your reader is a voracious reader, then Kindle unlimited is a good gift.

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Funko Pop Figures

These figures are just fun to have around. Walmart, Target, Amazon and more carry these. You can get all kinds of characters. I was given a Dr. Who figure and Tardis last year.

(price: around $8)

 

 

 

 

Bookmarks

 

 

 

 Again, Etsy has a collection of delightful, creative bookmarks. If you want, and you are a little crafty, you can make your own. Buy watercolor paper (it is thicker) and paint a bit of color. Let it dry. Use a sharpie or calligraphy pen to write a favorite quote. (price: Free and up)

 

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NaNoWriMo for people too busy to write 50k words

Only 4 days until NaNoWriMo!

What is NaNoWriMo? Look here. Basically it is a world-wide word count challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

I have yet to ever write 50,000 words in one month. I haven’t even come close. The most I’ve ever done is 15,000 words and I was pretty proud of that! I saw a post on Twitter with the hashtag #turtlewriters. I really relate to that. I am one who loves to think too much, which makes me slow.

Another reason I never get 50k words written is the lack of time. I work full time as a teacher. I have a husband and one six-year-old who deserve my time. I have a house to clean. (I do a poor job of that.) I’m also in grad school, studying to be a school librarian. Insanity, right? Finding time to write is difficult, but it is the same as finding time to read in a crazy busy world.

So what is one to do if they can’t do 50k words? Can you still participate in NaNoWriMo? YES! I must confess: Competitiveness is not one of my strengths. The only person I enjoy competing against is myself.

Here are some things you can do regardless of your expected word count:

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon- Book Review

Doesn’t the title sound intriguing? That is initially what grabbed my attention. The cover is beautiful too. The story did not disappoint either. This was the 2017 Newbery Medal Winner, and it was well deserved! There is just something about the tone of this book that I adore.

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Writing Community Series: Benefits of a Writing Group

 

Why Join a Writing Group?

There are so many benefits to being in a writing group!

I am an extremely shy introvert. So, joining not one, but two, writing groups was perhaps the most difficult, terrifying thing I’ve ever done. My goal is to be a good writer though. I don’t want to embarrass myself by publishing something that is terrible, so I must get feedback from other people.

I found my first writing group through Meetup. (I’ll talk more about how to find a writing group later in this series.)

I went to the coffee shop and saw a bunch of people together with laptops. I figured that was the group, but I was too scared. I sat at another table with my coffee and spent the next 20 minutes working up the courage to go over and ask if they were the group. Then I was brought into the fold.

Sounding board

Writing groups are an excellent way to throw out crazy ideas and see what resonates. Your group gets to know your characters. They get to know you and how your brain works. When I ask my non-writer friends about an idea, they quite often just agree with me. They are far too nice. Because my writing group friends know me so well, they are not afraid to tell me when an idea is too far out there. Plus their knowledge of writing allows them to explain why an idea may or may not work for readers.

Collective Knowledge

My writing group has a diverse group of people with many different backgrounds. (medical, historical, technical, teachers, and more) They are an invaluable resource for when you have questions and need educated opinions. Together we help each other solve countless problems and plotholes in our stories.

Feedback

The feedback from my writing group is the most valuable. Many readers will read something and tell you if they like it or not. They can’t always accurately tell you why the writing works or what is broken. A good writing group will have the knowledge to tell you why something is working or not. I have learned so much from their feedback, and I believe I’m a better writer because of them.

Accountability

My critique group is particularly good at this. I feel the need to have something to present to them. I could go and just listen to others read, but I prefer to have something to share. My social group doesn’t put on any pressure but will ask what I’ve been working on lately. It is more fun if I do have a current project to talk about with others.

It is Fun and Energizing

Speaking of fun… The most important reason for being in a writing group is because it is fun. I write because I enjoy doing it, um, most of the time. It is not as fun when I paint myself into a corner. When I get in that situation, I’m tempted to toss the whole project. My group not only helps me fix it but gives me the encouragement I need. I have a major case of I’m-not-good-enough. They help me keep everything in perspective.

For my social writing group, we quite often sit around and talk about our characters, or talk about life in general. We laugh together. We vent. We cry together. We worry. We compare notes. We celebrate. All of this is energizing and often provide snippets of inspiration so that when I get home I feel like staying up all night writing.

 

 

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Forest of Memory

The title and cover art grabbed my attention for this book. This picture doesn’t do the cover justice. It is rich and beautiful. Also I happen to know Mary Robinette Kowal is an excellent writer.

Forest of Memory

by Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: Tor
Cover Art: Victo Ngai
(Isn’t it amazing?)
96 pages

This story is set in the future when everyone wears a device in their ear that connects them to a network. There is an optical display which allows them to see information above their head about a person as that person approaches.

How cool is that?! Continue reading

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Secrets to Finding Time to Read in a Crazy Busy World

I would love to have a day to do nothing but sit and read and maybe drink a cup of hot tea. The reality is that it is not likely to happen for years to come. I have a six-year-old adorable little boy at home that demands my attention every few hours…or every 3 minutes.  smile

You may have children of your own. You might be a teen or preteen with an annoying brother or sister that interrupts your reading time. You might just be a really busy person. Whatever it is, you likely don’t have time to read. Do you know how many times I hear that from kids AND adults? We are just plain busy, but if it is important, you’ll find the time. I’m here to help you with that by offering some suggestions.

In the Morning: Get up ten minutes early. Get ready fast. Sit and read while everyone rushes around. Or flip that. Get up early and read first. That is what I have to do.

Before Bed: This is probably the most obvious and the most common. This is a dangerous one though. With no one to drag you by your hand away from your book, you could get lost in your book for hours on end. I have on occasion been known to stay up until one am to finish reading my book. Though those days are fewer than it used to be. More often than not, I wake up at midnight after having fallen asleep while reading.  Continue reading

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Character Sheet–a Freebie!

I always get bored with character sheets. It is critical that you know your main characters well though, so they are a necessary evil. As a Fantasy writer, many of the existing character sheets have so many aspects that don’t apply to epic fantasy characters. Other character sheets go on and on forever. I have yet to find one I like.

The solution: make my own. I kept it to one page and tried to stick with only the most critical elements of a character. Something else I included was an area for a character arc. This will help me remember that if the character is important enough that I have a character sheet on them, then they need an arc, even a minor one.

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Writing Community Series: Types of Writing Groups

 

writing group 2

photo from Pixabay.com

Some people hear writing group and immediately cringe or even run like you are being chased by a zombie. This is usually because they have tried a writing group and had a bad experience, or they’ve heard about the bad experiences. I have heard my share of horror stories. However, I currently participate in two writing groups and love them.

It is hard to spend days, months, or years writing something. You take a piece of your soul and put it into your writing. (Kind of like a Horcrux.) Then people say that you should share it with other people who are going to tell you what is wrong with it!? That is just crazy talk!

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Writers of the Future Volume 33

Now that my first novel manuscript rough draft is done, you might think I’d start on revisions. Not quite. Often writers need time and distance from a rough draft to do a good revision. I recently began grad school so I will likely set it aside for 2 years while I work on my MLIS.

If you know any writers, you probably know that writers can’t just stop writing altogether.  I will be working on writing some short stories when I have a spare moment or two. The problem is that I don’t read many short stories. You can’t write what you don’t read if you are going to be good at it. I desire to write well. So the solution is to find short stories to read. I read some magazines with short stories which I didn’t care for very much. The beauty of short stories is they involve little investment of time. If you don’t like it, you are not out much time. However, if you love it, then it is over too quickly. That is why I historically haven’t spent much time reading short stories. For me the bigger the book the better. But I need to learn the craft of short stories. So I found L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Volume 33. If they have 33 Volumes of it, then it must be good, right?

*Disclosure: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The first thing I noticed is that when you get a book from NetGalley it is sent out before it has been formatted all pretty. There was no table of contents or titles for each story. So I apologize for not giving credit where credit is due to each of the authors. If I was reading a regular novel instead of an anthology, this would not be a problem. Live and learn, right?

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Volume 33

Writers of the FutureEditors: L. Ron Hubbard, Anne McCaffrey, & David Farland

By by Anne McCaffrey, David Farland ( Author) (Editor), Robert J. Sawyer (Author), Todd J. McCaffrey, Larry Elmore, Bob Eggleton, L. Ron Hubbard, Stephen Lawson , Sean Patrick Hazlett (Author), Preston Stone, Dustin Steinacker, Anton Rose (Author), Doug C. Souza (Author), Walter Dinjos (Author), Jake Marley (Author), C.L. Kagmi (Author), Andrew Peery, Ville Meriläinen (Author), Ziporah Hildebrandt (Author), Andrew L. Roberts (Author), Aituar Manas, Chan ha Kim, Yader Fonseca, Jason Park, Christopher Kiklowicz, Anthony Moravian, David Furnal, Michael Michera, Hanna Al-Shaer, Ryan Richmond, Joshua Meehan, Asher Ben Alpay, Molly Elizabeth Atkins (Author), David VonAllmen (Author), Rachel Quinlan (Author) (Illustrator)

Publisher: Galaxy Press

Illustrator: Rachel Quinlan

The Summary

Here is a quick teaser for each of the stories in the first half of the book:

1.

The first several stories were very enjoyable. The first story was a locked room mystery set on the moon! The writing was excellent. The ending was not as clever as I had hoped it would be though.

2.

The second story was about a man in a Mech, a mechanical robot used in battle. He was injured on the battlefield and knew it was really bad. He went home to see his family one last time. The description in this story is gritty and the emotion is visceral. This one did surprise me. The ending was quite satisfying, which is rare for me. I often find short story endings too abrupt. This one was well done in my opinion though.

3.

This one is about an alien being, called the Envoy.  The Envoy is revered as something holy. The most recent ambassadors did not return. A team has been sent to get them back. What they find shakes their faith. What they find makes them look at what they know about the entity with more knowledge. This one was very interesting. I do like the perspective and the introspection in this story.

4.

I didn’t care for this story. It was a story about a man in a lifeboat from what I could gather. It was one of those stories where the POV character is hallucinating and doesn’t really know what is real and what is not. I don’t usually like that kind is stories-; concrete stories are better.

5.

The next story was about a man who fell in love with a selkie. There just aren’t enough stories about selkies. This one was powerful with emotion– heart-rending. This had a satisfying ending but I still wanted to hear more of the story.

6.

This story is about some beings that do not have a corporeal form. This story makes me wonder, if when we explore space and start finding other life forms, will they be more advanced than us or more primitive. This story is a fascinating test of humanity.

7.

Ready for a good old ghost story? Do you like ghost hunters? This one had a twist though!

8.

Varga and Fiske. Fiske is just a simple hunter. Varga is a warrior. The lanky hunter must guide Varga into the mountain where strange things have happened and people have disappeared. They find the shredded remains of a campsite.  The creatures are something I’ve never heard of before. I’m curious to know if this was the author’s creation or an obscure myth they dug up. Either way, I love this monster! As a reader, I was torn between pitying the creature and hating it! Well done! I think this one was written by Anne McCaffrey.

9.

Gators in the sewer type story. Meh.

10.

I liked this one quite a bit. It is about a boy whose mother is dying. To save her he must kill a rare bird which is special to him. This author writes internal conflict well.

 

That is just the first half of the book. I may go back and reread some of these. They could teach me a lot about writing internal conflict in a very short time. I recommend you read this book!

 

The Writing

For the most part, the writing was excellent. The characters were engaging and had depth throughout most of the stories. There were a few that just didn’t grab my attention, but most of the stories were engaging.

Plot DiagramWhat I like best about this book is that the endings were really good. I normally strongly dislike the ending of short stories. Usually, they leave the reader to figure it out from the clues they laid out. They literally drop the end off: they hint at the resolution and completely omit the denouement (falling action). They cut the story off right where the line is between the middle and end in the diagram above. I guess I’m a lazy reader. I’d rather not have to put the clues together and figure it out. I like to see the story come together and simply must have a resolution and have at least a tiny bit of denouement to be happy at the end of the story.  The vast majority of these stories had sufficient resolution and denouement to make me happy.

Who Will Like This?

This book has a little bit for everyone that likes some form of Science Fiction. There is something for those who like alien stories, ghost stories, outer space stories, technology stories, mythological creature stories, and even a mystery. This will also appeal to anyone who likes nearly instant gratification since you can sit down and read a whole story in less than an hour.

 

In the first half of the book…
(and likely the second half as well.)

Foul Language: None
Graphic Violence: None
Sexual Content: None
Substance Abuse: None

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It is my Blogiversary! August 2017 Book Giveaway!

I can’t believe I have been blogging for a whole year now! I have learned so much and made so many new friends through this blog! I love connecting with my readers through the comments, Twitter, Instagram, and email. I’m happy to announce that I now have an author page on Facebook! (link below)

Goal for this Year

I post far too infrequently as of now, I hope to start making a weekly post. I am going to try my best, but I am working on my Master in Library and Information Sciences and I’m working, so I don’t know if that goal is realistic. I do have some ideas for some new kinds of posts I’d like to start doing. I am going to expand beyond just book reviews and try to provide more content having to do with reading and writing.

Blogiversary

To celebrate my blogiversary, I am going to run my first book giveaway! The book I’ve chosen to giveaway is The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell. Y’all this book is gorgeous! I’m going to have a hard time parting with it. I read the first couple chapters and so far it is amazing! It was released July 18, 2017, so I hope that means you don’t already have it. It is a hardback book.

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