Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Photo credit: GaborfromHungary from morguefile.com
Characters ought to be more than a name and job title, like Joan Bunderson, special operative or Kyle Kowalski, hockey star. To breathe on the page, your characters need to have an outer life that's relational beyond work and an inner life of passions, drives, attitudes, memories, wounds, and fears.

Below is a fairly exhaustive list of questions to brainstorm when developing a new character, especially the protagonist. Obviously you don't need to know all these things about him or her to proceed with a story. However, wrestling with some of these questions might open up new avenues for inner and outer conflict to arise, or suggest interesting plot or setting elements you hadn't before considered. So choose a few from each menu or tackle them all, your choice.

If interviewing is your favorite research method, you might find it beneficial to find real people with similarities to your character and ask them a few of the questions. Even if your character is quite different personality-wise, a peer of your characters could give you helpful insights.

I suspect some of these questions might be useful for getting to know just about anyone if you're ever at a loss for conversation ideas.

Likes

1. What are your longtime interests or passions?

2. What do you like to do to relax? Have fun?

3. What are your favorite foods?

4. What scents do you love most? Which ones draw up specific memories for you?

5. What textures appeal to you most? What feels nice on your skin?

6. What kinds of music appeal to you? Why?

7. What sounds do you find soothing? Irritating?

8. What shows, movies, or books do you watch and reference over and over?

9. What words of phrases do you find yourself saying all the time?

10. What was your most precious childhood possession?

11. Are you a collector? What do you collect and why?

Experiences

1. What is the coolest place you’ve ever visited?

2. What is your favorite holiday memory?

3. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever observed?

4. What is the funniest thing you’ve ever done?

5. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

6. What accomplishments are you most proud of?

7. What’s the worst illness or injury you’ve ever had?

8. What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?

9. What is the most memorable gift you ever received?

10. What’s the meanest thing someone has done to you?

11. Have you ever posted, emailed, or texted something you wish you could take back?

12. What’s your most memorable moment with eavesdropping?

13. What is the weirdest secret you ever discovered?

14. What pranks, jokes, hoaxes or tricks have you ever fallen for or perpetrated?

Relationships

1. Do you find it easy or hard to get to know people?

2. What do you love most about your family? Dislike most?

3. How are you like your parents? How are you different?

4. What unique traditions have been passed down in your family?

5. What qualities do you value most in a friend?

6. What makes someone attractive/dating material to you?

7. Who are your role models? Who do you admire and look up to?

8. Who do you fight with most? What do you fight about?

9. What kinds of people do you feel awkward around? Why?

10. How do you feel about people in authority?

Inner life

1. What do you worry about most?

2. Do you have any phobias? What kinds of things scare you?

3. What makes you feel most at peace?

4. How do you calm yourself when you are upset or anxious?

5. What bad habit do you most wish you could give up?

6. What injustices make you most upset?

7. How do you react when you are provoked?

8. How do you relate to money and possessions? How important is wealth to you? Why? Are you carefree or worried about gains and losses?

Dreams

1. What crazy adventure do you dream of taking?

2. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

3. If you could magically acquire a new talent, what would you choose?

4. What would your dream home be like?

5. If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose?

6. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

7. If you could time travel, what time period would you like to visit?

8. If you could have a superpower (or two), what would you choose?

9. If someone could magically cure one of your deepest fears, which would you choose?

Which of these questions strike you as most helpful? What other favorite character development questions do you use? 
12:10 PM Laurel Garver
Photo credit: GaborfromHungary from morguefile.com
Characters ought to be more than a name and job title, like Joan Bunderson, special operative or Kyle Kowalski, hockey star. To breathe on the page, your characters need to have an outer life that's relational beyond work and an inner life of passions, drives, attitudes, memories, wounds, and fears.

Below is a fairly exhaustive list of questions to brainstorm when developing a new character, especially the protagonist. Obviously you don't need to know all these things about him or her to proceed with a story. However, wrestling with some of these questions might open up new avenues for inner and outer conflict to arise, or suggest interesting plot or setting elements you hadn't before considered. So choose a few from each menu or tackle them all, your choice.

If interviewing is your favorite research method, you might find it beneficial to find real people with similarities to your character and ask them a few of the questions. Even if your character is quite different personality-wise, a peer of your characters could give you helpful insights.

I suspect some of these questions might be useful for getting to know just about anyone if you're ever at a loss for conversation ideas.

Likes

1. What are your longtime interests or passions?

2. What do you like to do to relax? Have fun?

3. What are your favorite foods?

4. What scents do you love most? Which ones draw up specific memories for you?

5. What textures appeal to you most? What feels nice on your skin?

6. What kinds of music appeal to you? Why?

7. What sounds do you find soothing? Irritating?

8. What shows, movies, or books do you watch and reference over and over?

9. What words of phrases do you find yourself saying all the time?

10. What was your most precious childhood possession?

11. Are you a collector? What do you collect and why?

Experiences

1. What is the coolest place you’ve ever visited?

2. What is your favorite holiday memory?

3. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever observed?

4. What is the funniest thing you’ve ever done?

5. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

6. What accomplishments are you most proud of?

7. What’s the worst illness or injury you’ve ever had?

8. What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?

9. What is the most memorable gift you ever received?

10. What’s the meanest thing someone has done to you?

11. Have you ever posted, emailed, or texted something you wish you could take back?

12. What’s your most memorable moment with eavesdropping?

13. What is the weirdest secret you ever discovered?

14. What pranks, jokes, hoaxes or tricks have you ever fallen for or perpetrated?

Relationships

1. Do you find it easy or hard to get to know people?

2. What do you love most about your family? Dislike most?

3. How are you like your parents? How are you different?

4. What unique traditions have been passed down in your family?

5. What qualities do you value most in a friend?

6. What makes someone attractive/dating material to you?

7. Who are your role models? Who do you admire and look up to?

8. Who do you fight with most? What do you fight about?

9. What kinds of people do you feel awkward around? Why?

10. How do you feel about people in authority?

Inner life

1. What do you worry about most?

2. Do you have any phobias? What kinds of things scare you?

3. What makes you feel most at peace?

4. How do you calm yourself when you are upset or anxious?

5. What bad habit do you most wish you could give up?

6. What injustices make you most upset?

7. How do you react when you are provoked?

8. How do you relate to money and possessions? How important is wealth to you? Why? Are you carefree or worried about gains and losses?

Dreams

1. What crazy adventure do you dream of taking?

2. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

3. If you could magically acquire a new talent, what would you choose?

4. What would your dream home be like?

5. If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose?

6. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

7. If you could time travel, what time period would you like to visit?

8. If you could have a superpower (or two), what would you choose?

9. If someone could magically cure one of your deepest fears, which would you choose?

Which of these questions strike you as most helpful? What other favorite character development questions do you use? 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I'm a big advocate of talking to real people as part of your routine research for novel writing. Internet research and books can be a good starting place, but these sources can't provide the rich details you need to make certain careers or time periods or phenomenon come alive on the page. You need to tap into eyewitness sources and draw on the experiences and expertise of real people who are intimately familiar with these things.
By George Armstrong, FEMA Library, via Wikimedia Commons

I talk in THIS post about making connections with experts (hint: they are often closer than you think). Today, I'd like to share some very basic tips about how to conduct an interview. These skills are sadly not taught much outside of journalism programs these days.

How to conduct a fiction research interview


  • Begin by breaking the ice. Explain the kind of fiction you write and why you sought out this person’s help. A little flattery can warm up your subject, as can mentioning a mutual friend or acquaintance. 
  • Get the person’s permission to record the conversation, and clarify how you plan to use the information—as background or to lend authenticity to characters, setting, and plot. Many subjects are far more relaxed if they know they aren’t going to be directly cited and/or quoted like in a news story. 
  • Move on to an open-ended inquiry that gets the source talking about his or her favorite subject. 
  • Be sure to ask your most important question early on. If your interviewee is time pressed, they might end up cutting the interview short.
  • Get in the habit of asking basic follow up questions to garner more detailed responses. “Why is that?” or “What do you mean?” can keep the person talking. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask what might feel like naive questions. Even if you’ve done your homework, there are bound to be new ideas and terms that come up that you’re unfamiliar with. No one person can know know everything. Usually your source will be glad to fill in your knowledge gaps.
  • You might need to keep circling back to a topic if the interviewee hasn’t adequately addressed it. That doesn’t necessarily mean the person is being evasive. Some people need to warm up when discussing a topic, or they’ll respond better if you reword a question. “I’m having trouble understanding what you meant by ____” or “could we go back to ____?” are gentle segues that won’t feel like a police interrogation.
  • Endure awkward silences; they can be beneficial, as counterintuitive as that might sound. When a subject gives you a generic or rehearsed answer, don’t rush to keep the flow going by chattering away and zipping on to the next question. Instead, simply sit quietly and wait. Most of the time, your interviewee will sense you are anticipating more response and will oblige by volunteering more information.
  • Give the subject an opportunity to sum up, or do a final fill-in. Ask, “Is there anything else you think I should know that I didn’t ask about?” 
  • Get permission to e-mail follow-up questions to them, or to a colleague or subordinate. Don’t assume this person can give you all the time in the world. 
  • Express your gratitude for their time and expertise. Follow up with written thanks, even if by e-mail or text message.

Helpful Resource: Garrett, Annette. Interviewing: Its Principles and Methods. New York: Family Association of America, 1982.

Does interviewing as part of your research excite or intimidate you? Why?

8:59 AM Laurel Garver
I'm a big advocate of talking to real people as part of your routine research for novel writing. Internet research and books can be a good starting place, but these sources can't provide the rich details you need to make certain careers or time periods or phenomenon come alive on the page. You need to tap into eyewitness sources and draw on the experiences and expertise of real people who are intimately familiar with these things.
By George Armstrong, FEMA Library, via Wikimedia Commons

I talk in THIS post about making connections with experts (hint: they are often closer than you think). Today, I'd like to share some very basic tips about how to conduct an interview. These skills are sadly not taught much outside of journalism programs these days.

How to conduct a fiction research interview


  • Begin by breaking the ice. Explain the kind of fiction you write and why you sought out this person’s help. A little flattery can warm up your subject, as can mentioning a mutual friend or acquaintance. 
  • Get the person’s permission to record the conversation, and clarify how you plan to use the information—as background or to lend authenticity to characters, setting, and plot. Many subjects are far more relaxed if they know they aren’t going to be directly cited and/or quoted like in a news story. 
  • Move on to an open-ended inquiry that gets the source talking about his or her favorite subject. 
  • Be sure to ask your most important question early on. If your interviewee is time pressed, they might end up cutting the interview short.
  • Get in the habit of asking basic follow up questions to garner more detailed responses. “Why is that?” or “What do you mean?” can keep the person talking. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask what might feel like naive questions. Even if you’ve done your homework, there are bound to be new ideas and terms that come up that you’re unfamiliar with. No one person can know know everything. Usually your source will be glad to fill in your knowledge gaps.
  • You might need to keep circling back to a topic if the interviewee hasn’t adequately addressed it. That doesn’t necessarily mean the person is being evasive. Some people need to warm up when discussing a topic, or they’ll respond better if you reword a question. “I’m having trouble understanding what you meant by ____” or “could we go back to ____?” are gentle segues that won’t feel like a police interrogation.
  • Endure awkward silences; they can be beneficial, as counterintuitive as that might sound. When a subject gives you a generic or rehearsed answer, don’t rush to keep the flow going by chattering away and zipping on to the next question. Instead, simply sit quietly and wait. Most of the time, your interviewee will sense you are anticipating more response and will oblige by volunteering more information.
  • Give the subject an opportunity to sum up, or do a final fill-in. Ask, “Is there anything else you think I should know that I didn’t ask about?” 
  • Get permission to e-mail follow-up questions to them, or to a colleague or subordinate. Don’t assume this person can give you all the time in the world. 
  • Express your gratitude for their time and expertise. Follow up with written thanks, even if by e-mail or text message.

Helpful Resource: Garrett, Annette. Interviewing: Its Principles and Methods. New York: Family Association of America, 1982.

Does interviewing as part of your research excite or intimidate you? Why?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I've decided to move my regular weekly posting day to Wednesdays. See you tomorrow!
8:24 AM Laurel Garver
I've decided to move my regular weekly posting day to Wednesdays. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Photo credit: pippalou from morguefile.com 
A new year has arrived, and it has taken me quite a while to get back to paying my dear old blog any attention. I didn't mean to neglect it so long. But this was an odd Christmas for us. We drove over 2,000 miles to spend the holiday with my mom in southwest Florida, visiting friends and a few of my brothers on the way down and back. My day job work came with me, and December is often one of my busiest months. Restroom breaks and meals often included trying to figure out where we could also get WiFi (hint--Starbucks and Wendy's all do). Travel like this often exposes which of one's habits are actually deeply rooted, and which ones aren't.


Habit formation is always a hot topic in the new year, when many make resolutions regarding behavior changes they intend to make or goals they will strive to achieve. Key to these sorts of changes is new habits--behaviors one does automatically at certain times or in the presence of certain stimuli.

Habits, once formed, are difficult to change. That's both good and bad news. Good because if you focus on creating a habit through repetition, it will stick. Bad because negative habits can be difficult to overcome--they become hard wired into one's brain.

In my reading on habit development, a few basics struck me as useful, whether the habit being acquired was wiser spending, being smoke-free, writing regularly, or using social media effectively.

1. Take an honest self-assessment


Often we self-sabotage because we aren't intentional about what truly matters most, but go on moving in the same old ruts.

Begin by writing out your goals--say finishing a novel draft or saving a certain amount of money.

Next, figure out what current habits are blocking you from achieving your goals. What do you actually do now, when you do it, and what circumstances trigger it? For example, what do you do with your time when you could be writing? When do you impulse buy? What consistent triggers seem to impel you to not write or to overspend?

Lists like this can be long. But don't let that discourage you. You're looking for opportunities to make small changes that will add up to big boons in your life. You might discover, for example, that you spend an inordinate amount of time tidying up after your family--hours that could be reclaimed if they were better trained and given incentive to pitch in (reward charts, pay-per-chore). Or perhaps your lost time is due to TV watching four hours a day, an addiction to games on your phone, or frequent text sessions with you BFF about every inconsequential event of your day.

You might be surprised how you've been sabotaging yourself without really thinking about it. But this kind of knowledge is power.

2. Change your routine


Our harmful habits get ingrained mostly through repetition. The good news is that small changes can often remake our habits. If you are regularly wasting time and money sitting in the drive-thru line at Dunkin Donuts, try firing up the coffeemaker at home and change the route you drive to work. These two changes will remove the temptation to continue stopping at your old haunt.

Think creatively about each of the self-sabotaging behaviors on your list, and how small tweaks to your routine could remove the temptation to continue them. For example, move the TV to the exercise room to link the reward of TV with fitness. Perhaps you've had a hard time waking at dawn to write because it just doesn't fit your circadian rhythms to be mentally acute early. Shifting activities you now do in the evening to the morning (say laundry and ironing, paying bills and the like) could enable you to write in the evening instead.

Breaking the old routine can be a powerful tool for breaking a harmful habit.

3. Take small steps


Don't try to change every self-sabotaging behavior on your list at one time. Take on one thing at a time. And consider also what was comforting about those bad habits. How might a slight modification get you closer to your goal? For example, say you've been overspending at a weekly dine-out with your friends. Those times are precious for your friendships but hard on the wallet. Could you try cheaper eateries? Alternate between restaurants and pot-luck meals in someone's home? Modify what you order, perhaps skipping the wine and dessert, to save your budget?

The small change I'd like to implement is to blog on a different day. I've found that early in the week, I have far less time to devote to social media because my day job is consistently very busy Monday and Tuesday. Starting next week, I plan to shift to perhaps Wednesday. Stay tuned!

How are you doing so far with goals you've set for 2015? 


8:57 AM Laurel Garver
Photo credit: pippalou from morguefile.com 
A new year has arrived, and it has taken me quite a while to get back to paying my dear old blog any attention. I didn't mean to neglect it so long. But this was an odd Christmas for us. We drove over 2,000 miles to spend the holiday with my mom in southwest Florida, visiting friends and a few of my brothers on the way down and back. My day job work came with me, and December is often one of my busiest months. Restroom breaks and meals often included trying to figure out where we could also get WiFi (hint--Starbucks and Wendy's all do). Travel like this often exposes which of one's habits are actually deeply rooted, and which ones aren't.


Habit formation is always a hot topic in the new year, when many make resolutions regarding behavior changes they intend to make or goals they will strive to achieve. Key to these sorts of changes is new habits--behaviors one does automatically at certain times or in the presence of certain stimuli.

Habits, once formed, are difficult to change. That's both good and bad news. Good because if you focus on creating a habit through repetition, it will stick. Bad because negative habits can be difficult to overcome--they become hard wired into one's brain.

In my reading on habit development, a few basics struck me as useful, whether the habit being acquired was wiser spending, being smoke-free, writing regularly, or using social media effectively.

1. Take an honest self-assessment


Often we self-sabotage because we aren't intentional about what truly matters most, but go on moving in the same old ruts.

Begin by writing out your goals--say finishing a novel draft or saving a certain amount of money.

Next, figure out what current habits are blocking you from achieving your goals. What do you actually do now, when you do it, and what circumstances trigger it? For example, what do you do with your time when you could be writing? When do you impulse buy? What consistent triggers seem to impel you to not write or to overspend?

Lists like this can be long. But don't let that discourage you. You're looking for opportunities to make small changes that will add up to big boons in your life. You might discover, for example, that you spend an inordinate amount of time tidying up after your family--hours that could be reclaimed if they were better trained and given incentive to pitch in (reward charts, pay-per-chore). Or perhaps your lost time is due to TV watching four hours a day, an addiction to games on your phone, or frequent text sessions with you BFF about every inconsequential event of your day.

You might be surprised how you've been sabotaging yourself without really thinking about it. But this kind of knowledge is power.

2. Change your routine


Our harmful habits get ingrained mostly through repetition. The good news is that small changes can often remake our habits. If you are regularly wasting time and money sitting in the drive-thru line at Dunkin Donuts, try firing up the coffeemaker at home and change the route you drive to work. These two changes will remove the temptation to continue stopping at your old haunt.

Think creatively about each of the self-sabotaging behaviors on your list, and how small tweaks to your routine could remove the temptation to continue them. For example, move the TV to the exercise room to link the reward of TV with fitness. Perhaps you've had a hard time waking at dawn to write because it just doesn't fit your circadian rhythms to be mentally acute early. Shifting activities you now do in the evening to the morning (say laundry and ironing, paying bills and the like) could enable you to write in the evening instead.

Breaking the old routine can be a powerful tool for breaking a harmful habit.

3. Take small steps


Don't try to change every self-sabotaging behavior on your list at one time. Take on one thing at a time. And consider also what was comforting about those bad habits. How might a slight modification get you closer to your goal? For example, say you've been overspending at a weekly dine-out with your friends. Those times are precious for your friendships but hard on the wallet. Could you try cheaper eateries? Alternate between restaurants and pot-luck meals in someone's home? Modify what you order, perhaps skipping the wine and dessert, to save your budget?

The small change I'd like to implement is to blog on a different day. I've found that early in the week, I have far less time to devote to social media because my day job is consistently very busy Monday and Tuesday. Starting next week, I plan to shift to perhaps Wednesday. Stay tuned!

How are you doing so far with goals you've set for 2015? 


Friday, December 19, 2014

Today, I'm participating in DL Hammmons's Deja Vu Blogfest, in which we share a post from the previous year that we feel got less attention than we'd like. My recycled post is from January.

----

Anxiety of Influence


As a writer, should you be especially careful about what you read?

It's a question that's been plaguing me during a reading binge. My current read isn't an identical scenario to the one I'm currently writing, but there are numerous points of intersection. This puts me in a bit of a quandary. Will continuing to read help me work out my own story, or will it derail me?

Photo credit: dave from morguefile.com
In her nonfiction book on writing, Escaping into the Open, Elizabeth Berg makes an interesting assertion about influence I've never seen anywhere else:

"While drafting, avoid reading books on the same topic as yours." 

Her reasoning? "...no matter how aware or sophisticated or experienced you are, no matter how determined to write your own story, there's a very real danger that you will start to copy. It may be unconscious, but it can happen. And if that happens, it's a shame...because it denies the reading public the pleasure of your originality."

Part of me disagrees. If I don't know how others have tackled this topic, how do I know if my ideas are original? How do I avoid just repeating what has been said before if I'm ignorant of it? How do I not end up leaning on tired clichés? Berg seems to argue here that clichés crop up because you read others' takes on your topic. You can't help but copy.

The funny thing is, I could argue the opposite.  Knowing how others have treated a topic might constrain me to try too hard to take a new direction in order to seem original. In so doing, I risk creating an inauthentic experience with inauthentic emotion.

But either way, the conclusion would be stop reading that similar book.

But other possible good lessons could come from continuing. I can have distance from another's story I can't yet have from my own. I can more easily sense the kinds of details I might include as a writer that as a reader I find superfluous or boring.

Similarly, this other author could open my eyes to dramatic possibilities I'm not yet exploring in my work: places where conflict might erupt or alliances could form; ways of delivering, delaying, or withholding information. Berg would likely say I should learn these latter lessons from books on topics quite different from mine.

What do you think? Is it a help or a danger to read books on a similar topic?
6:30 AM Laurel Garver
Today, I'm participating in DL Hammmons's Deja Vu Blogfest, in which we share a post from the previous year that we feel got less attention than we'd like. My recycled post is from January.

----

Anxiety of Influence


As a writer, should you be especially careful about what you read?

It's a question that's been plaguing me during a reading binge. My current read isn't an identical scenario to the one I'm currently writing, but there are numerous points of intersection. This puts me in a bit of a quandary. Will continuing to read help me work out my own story, or will it derail me?

Photo credit: dave from morguefile.com
In her nonfiction book on writing, Escaping into the Open, Elizabeth Berg makes an interesting assertion about influence I've never seen anywhere else:

"While drafting, avoid reading books on the same topic as yours." 

Her reasoning? "...no matter how aware or sophisticated or experienced you are, no matter how determined to write your own story, there's a very real danger that you will start to copy. It may be unconscious, but it can happen. And if that happens, it's a shame...because it denies the reading public the pleasure of your originality."

Part of me disagrees. If I don't know how others have tackled this topic, how do I know if my ideas are original? How do I avoid just repeating what has been said before if I'm ignorant of it? How do I not end up leaning on tired clichés? Berg seems to argue here that clichés crop up because you read others' takes on your topic. You can't help but copy.

The funny thing is, I could argue the opposite.  Knowing how others have treated a topic might constrain me to try too hard to take a new direction in order to seem original. In so doing, I risk creating an inauthentic experience with inauthentic emotion.

But either way, the conclusion would be stop reading that similar book.

But other possible good lessons could come from continuing. I can have distance from another's story I can't yet have from my own. I can more easily sense the kinds of details I might include as a writer that as a reader I find superfluous or boring.

Similarly, this other author could open my eyes to dramatic possibilities I'm not yet exploring in my work: places where conflict might erupt or alliances could form; ways of delivering, delaying, or withholding information. Berg would likely say I should learn these latter lessons from books on topics quite different from mine.

What do you think? Is it a help or a danger to read books on a similar topic?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Writer-friends, Christmas will soon be upon us, and if you're a procrastinator like me, you may have remembered at the last minute some special people you'd like to give a gift--your critique partner, writing group president, book club host, beta reader, editor or other support folks who have made your journey sweeter, like your book tour coordinator. Here are some fun ideas likely to appeal to any literature lover. (Click on each subtitle for more information or to purchase).

Tequilla Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist

Wondering what to get your book club host? Look no further--this fun blend of literary anecdotes and cocktail recipes is sure to hit the spot. With hilarious recipe  names like Brave New Swirled, A Cocktail of Two Cities, and Romeo and Julep, it will amuse as much as wet your whistle.


Drink with Great Drinkers gift set

Help your writing group loosen up a little by tossing back a few using these literary shot glasses. Glasses feature Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker, Winston Churchill, W. B. Yeats, and Charles Baudelaire, with a quote about drinking by each.

For the Love of Reading Gourmet Gift Set

A book-lover's delight--a book design chest packed with coffee and sweet treats to enjoy with a favorite book. Perfect for your book club host, critique partner or family bibliophile.




Personal Library Kit

Perfect for your favorite book bloggers and beta readers: a kit to help them manage all the favorite titles they share with friends and family.



Editor gift set

What better way to thank your favorite superheroes with a red pen--your editor and proofreader--than to keep them well caffeinated and smiling? This nifty set includes several flavors of coffee, a fun mug and coaster set with the reminder "Keep Clam and Proofread."


Hyperbole Tee

What do you get for the critique partner with razor-sharp wit who always knows how to fix plot holes, talk you off ledges and pull your story's essence out of overwritten muck? How about this cheeky tee--Hyperbole: The Greatest Thing on Earth. Lots of fun colors to choose from, too.


Which of these gifts appeals most to  you? 

6:15 PM Laurel Garver
Writer-friends, Christmas will soon be upon us, and if you're a procrastinator like me, you may have remembered at the last minute some special people you'd like to give a gift--your critique partner, writing group president, book club host, beta reader, editor or other support folks who have made your journey sweeter, like your book tour coordinator. Here are some fun ideas likely to appeal to any literature lover. (Click on each subtitle for more information or to purchase).

Tequilla Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist

Wondering what to get your book club host? Look no further--this fun blend of literary anecdotes and cocktail recipes is sure to hit the spot. With hilarious recipe  names like Brave New Swirled, A Cocktail of Two Cities, and Romeo and Julep, it will amuse as much as wet your whistle.


Drink with Great Drinkers gift set

Help your writing group loosen up a little by tossing back a few using these literary shot glasses. Glasses feature Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker, Winston Churchill, W. B. Yeats, and Charles Baudelaire, with a quote about drinking by each.

For the Love of Reading Gourmet Gift Set

A book-lover's delight--a book design chest packed with coffee and sweet treats to enjoy with a favorite book. Perfect for your book club host, critique partner or family bibliophile.




Personal Library Kit

Perfect for your favorite book bloggers and beta readers: a kit to help them manage all the favorite titles they share with friends and family.



Editor gift set

What better way to thank your favorite superheroes with a red pen--your editor and proofreader--than to keep them well caffeinated and smiling? This nifty set includes several flavors of coffee, a fun mug and coaster set with the reminder "Keep Clam and Proofread."


Hyperbole Tee

What do you get for the critique partner with razor-sharp wit who always knows how to fix plot holes, talk you off ledges and pull your story's essence out of overwritten muck? How about this cheeky tee--Hyperbole: The Greatest Thing on Earth. Lots of fun colors to choose from, too.


Which of these gifts appeals most to  you? 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Looking for the perfect gift for your critique partner, book club president, writing-obsessed family member, or your own wish list? Look no further--I've got  you covered. I'll be doing a series of writing-related gift lists over the next several days, just in time to complete your shopping.

Since it's Friday, our first focus will be FUN! Check out these great toys and games for writers (click each heading for more info. and to purchase):

Great Writers Finger Puppets

Imagine all the great entertainment you could create with four fabulous writerly minds ready to act out your silly or serious pantomime plays. Set includes William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy.




Gather around the table for this fun family project--a 1,000 piece puzzle featuring famous writers. In my family, jigsaw puzzles were always part of our Christmas-day fun. This puzzle just might be the one to get your family to adopt this tradition, too.



Writers and Poets Playing Cards

Make your rounds of solitaire or weekly poker game a lot more literary with these playing cards featuring famous novelists and poets.



Notable Novelists

"Go Fish" for the well-read, this card game is sure to delight your literary friends.


Storymatic Classic

Beat writer's block with this creativity tool: "Six billion stories in one little box." Simply draw some prompts and let your imagination do the rest. Great not only for generating stories on your own--it's also fun for parties and road trips.



Smaller and more portable than Storymatic, this dice set can be a handy tool for generating ideas.  Roll and create from the story prompts.



Never again be at a loss for words! This set of magnetic words is great for generating poems or awesome first lines on your fridge or filing cabinet.



Beyond the basics, check out THESE awesomely fun theme sets:


Music  /  Art  /  Nature

Cat   /  Bacon  /   Mustache

Vampire  / Zombie  /  Pirate



Which of these toys and games appeal to you?




12:26 PM Laurel Garver
Looking for the perfect gift for your critique partner, book club president, writing-obsessed family member, or your own wish list? Look no further--I've got  you covered. I'll be doing a series of writing-related gift lists over the next several days, just in time to complete your shopping.

Since it's Friday, our first focus will be FUN! Check out these great toys and games for writers (click each heading for more info. and to purchase):

Great Writers Finger Puppets

Imagine all the great entertainment you could create with four fabulous writerly minds ready to act out your silly or serious pantomime plays. Set includes William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy.




Gather around the table for this fun family project--a 1,000 piece puzzle featuring famous writers. In my family, jigsaw puzzles were always part of our Christmas-day fun. This puzzle just might be the one to get your family to adopt this tradition, too.



Writers and Poets Playing Cards

Make your rounds of solitaire or weekly poker game a lot more literary with these playing cards featuring famous novelists and poets.



Notable Novelists

"Go Fish" for the well-read, this card game is sure to delight your literary friends.


Storymatic Classic

Beat writer's block with this creativity tool: "Six billion stories in one little box." Simply draw some prompts and let your imagination do the rest. Great not only for generating stories on your own--it's also fun for parties and road trips.



Smaller and more portable than Storymatic, this dice set can be a handy tool for generating ideas.  Roll and create from the story prompts.



Never again be at a loss for words! This set of magnetic words is great for generating poems or awesome first lines on your fridge or filing cabinet.



Beyond the basics, check out THESE awesomely fun theme sets:


Music  /  Art  /  Nature

Cat   /  Bacon  /   Mustache

Vampire  / Zombie  /  Pirate



Which of these toys and games appeal to you?