Wednesday, December 13, 2017

HO-HO-HO! Funny You Should Say That … Or Putting Humor in Our Writing!


 

A joyful heart is good medicine,

but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
— Proverbs 17:22

I don’t know about you youngsters out there, but at the ripe old age of 67, the last thing I want is dry bones! Had my bone density a while back and I’m just a hair shy of normal (my bones, mind you, not my personality!), so I cannot risk reading depressing, dry, slice-of-life books. Frankly I’m a Calgon-take-me-away type of gal who, come to think of it, has dry skin as well. Bottom line? The older we get, the less there is to laugh about, which is exactly why we need humor in our writing!

Especially this time of year when holiday stress can take its toll. So, l thought this was the appropriate time to update one of my favorite blogs from the past about humor to put a little HO-HO-HO in our writing.

 πŸŽ„WHY INFUSE HUMOR IN YOUR WRITING?πŸŽ„

1.) HUMOR CAN SET THE TONE OF YOUR BOOK OR CHARACTERS:  Mary Connealy’s Calico Canyon is about a teacher who, in the process of attempting to tame five hellion little boys and their pa, accidentally ends up as a ma and wife to them instead. I'm sure you'll agree that the first line of this true Connealy classic sets the mood for the entire book, which is a light and humorous read.

 The five horsemen of the Apocalypse rode in. Late as usual.
—Calico Canyon, Mary Connealy

Next, in book 1 of my Isle of Hope series, Isle of Hope Unfailing Love, I wanted to not only clue the readers in as to the what the story was about (a former wild girl/now a woman of faith who returns to her hometown after eight years to make amends to the father she defied, the boyfriend she deserted, and the best friend she betrayed), but I wanted to add a little humor to lighten the subject.

 When it comes to burning bridges, I am the Queen of Kerosene.
—Isle of Hope, Julie Lessman

Now, it’s no secret I am a first-line freak (see my Seeker blog entitled The Perfect Pickup Line ... Or How to Hook a Reader!), but when you can slap a little humor in that first line, to me, it’s pure Nirvana, such as in the excellent following examples:

If there was one thing Josie knew, it was the smell of a rich man. 
And whoever had just walked into the diner smelled like Fort Knox.
 —Her Unlikely Family, Missy Tippens

Unemployed. Single. And out of brownie mix.  
                         —A Valentine’s Wish, Betsy St. Amant

 2.) HUMOR CAN ENDEAR YOUR CHARACTERS TO YOUR READER AND PROVIDE A CHARACTER DEPTH THAT FEELS NORMAL, NATURAL, AND INVITING. In this scene from A Love Surrendered, Charity O’Connor is the “quirky” sister who provides most of the comic relief in the series, which helps to make the family “feel” so
much more fun and close like a family should be.


“Ouch.” Steven grinned, biceps taut as he folded his arms. “Poor Mitch—bet that hurt.”

“Not as much as it hurt Henry. Mitch went off like a rocket’s red glare. Haven’t seen the love of my life lose it like that since …” She paused to think, head cocked and hand to mouth. “Well, I guess since yesterday when he cut his face with the razor I used on the neighbor’s dog.” She scrunched her nose and shivered. “Beggar’s lice and skunk. Don’t ask—it’s not pretty.”


3.) HUMOR CAN BRING BALANCE AND COMIC RELIEF TO A SERIOUS SCENE: In the following scene from A Heart Revealed, the heroine Emma Malloy is devastated by something that has happened to her, which in turn devastates the hero Sean O’Connor who is in love with her. To lighten the tone of what is a very serious last quarter of the book, I layered humor into this heartbreaking situation by having Charity O’Connor, the quirky busy-body of the family, try to weasel information out of her brother . Note the heavy use of stoically comical facial expressions/humorous posture on the hero’s part combined with Charity’s relentless probing regarding her best friend Emma. 

She tapped her foot on the leafy pavement. “Something’s up, Sean, I can feel it in my bones, and so help me I will badger you all the way home if you don’t spill it now.”
His frustration blasted out in a cloud of smoke. “I can’t tell you, Charity, I promised.”
“Oh, fiddle, that’s an easy fix. I’ll just ask the questions, and you give me that stone-face look of yours that will tell me everything I need to know.”
“But that’s not right.”
“Sure it is,” she said, dismissing his concern with a wave of her hand. “I do it with Mitch all the time.” Head cocked, she chewed on her lip. “Okay, it’s something that happened at work, but it has to be personal because Emma’s steady as a rock in all business matters, right?”
He stared, trying not to blink.
“Okay, good, a personal situation at work that involves a person other than you.”
His jaw dropped. “I never said that.”
“Sure you did, when you did that pinching thing with your nose as a stall tactic.”
He crossed his arms to his chest, emotional battlement to ward off the enemy.
“Now ... let’s see,” she said, finger to her chin. “Somebody upset Emma pretty badly, which means it has to be someone who doesn’t work at the store.”
“Why?” he asked in exasperation, his patience as thin as his energy.
Charity blinked. “Why? Because the woman who bolted up my steps was as pale as death,” she said, enunciating slowly as if explaining something to Henry. “Which means it has to be someone she feels threatened by, and that rules out everyone at Dennehy’s.”
His lips compressed.
She gave him a quick nod and started to pace, head down and arms folded. “Okay, so it has to be an outsider she’s afraid of and probably a man.” She halted mid-stride, eyes spanning wide. “Wait, it’s not that bum who beat her up, is it? You know, her neighbor’s boyfriend?”
Swallowing his discomfort, he gave her a blank stare, facial muscles relaxing.
She blew out a sigh of relief. “Oh, good. For a second there, I was worried.”
“How the devil do you do that?” he said in a choke, lips parted in shock.
She tapped a finger to her head. “Stone face, remember?” Her mouth flattened. “ It’s a gift—honed to perfection by Mitch Dennehy.”
 4.) HUMOR PROVIDES CONTRAST TO DRAMA, DEEPENING THE EFFECT OF BOTH IN A STORY:  I personally love to sprinkle in short, dramatic one- or two-word sentences/thoughts in my writing, but if I put them in every paragraph, they would lose their effect since there is no contrast to give them punch. It’s the same with humor and drama—a mix of each provides contrast to sharpen both your prose and your story.

In this scene from A Passion Most Pure, the heroine Faith O’Connor meets her manager Mitch Dennehy for the first time, an encounter that is both dramatic and traumatic for her. Upon introduction, Mitch proceeds to bait and pick on Faith, so to play up the drama, I incorporated traces of humor (i.e. analogy of the blush of her cheeks spreading like blight in the rainy season and comparing Faith’s tension to straddling a mule about to buck rather than a horse since a mule is more comical). I think the slight touch of humor helps to sharpen the delivery of a dramatic and hard-hitting punchline that not only puts her bully of a manager in his place, but conveys the message that she will not tolerate ridicule.

Mitch didn’t say a word, only eyed her with practiced superiority, and the blush on her cheeks spread like blight in the rainy season. Michael watched in fascination as a smile fluttered on his department editor’s lips. Mitch’s penetrating blue eyes drifted from the tiny hands pinched white in Faith’s lap, to the soft tendril of hair that curved the nape of her neck.

There was no mercy in Mitch’s smile. “Michael tells me you were a copywriter at The Boston Herald, is that right?”

Faith hesitated, then sucked in a shaky breath. “Yes, I mean I did write some copy …”

Mitch nodded. His cocky smile worked its way into a grin. “Some copy? Have you done any feature writing before?” He was waiting. They were all waiting.

The hot stain on her cheeks infected the tips of her ears. “No, I haven’t done much feature writing, exactly …”

“Any reviews, editorials, hard news?”

She tensed as if straddling a mule about to buck. “No, I’m afraid I don’t have much experience doing any of that …”

“Well, then, Miss O’Connor,” he mused, his eyes laughing at her, “Tell me. Is there anything you can do?”

The air stilled to a deathly hush. Slowly, she lifted her chin to stare at him with as much defiance as she could politely display. “Yes sir …” she said, producing a smile that was anything but, “I can be on time.” 

πŸŽ„22 WAYS TO INFUSE HUMOR INTO YOUR WRITINGπŸŽ„

There are dozens of simple ways to incorporate humor in your stories such as good word choice (i.e. the example above in point 4 where I use the word “mule” instead of the more expected “horse” in the phrase “straddling a mule about to buck”), as well as exaggerated emphasis with punctuation such as ellipses and dashes, pacing, timing, silence, facial and body gestures, etc.

That said, following are a number of favorite ways I like to inject humor in my writing, but today we will only cover the first three of twenty-two points, points A, B, and C, which are  prequel points to my original Part 1 blog post. 

NOTE: To spare you a ridiculously LONG post, points 1- 4 can be found in Part 1 HERE (simply scroll down to where the points are listed mid-blog) and points 6-19 can be found in Part 2 HERE

Ready? Here we go on points A, B, and C … 
A.) Pick Character Name To Infuse Humor
B.) Slapstick Activity
C.) Humorous Thoughts/Internal Monologue
1.) Analogy/Metaphor/Simile
2.) Facial Features
3.) Pun
4.) Sarcasm
5.) Jokes and Quips
6.) Slapstick Dialogue/Internal Monologue
7.) Serious Subject/Humorous Take
8.) Play on Words
9.) Scene Set-Up
10.) Self-Deprecation
11.) Sibling Rivalry
12.) Quirky Personality
13.) Fib
14.) Name Calling
15.) Alliteration
16.) Props
17.) Shock
18.) David and Goliath Factor
19.) Kids

A.) CHOOSE CHARACTER NAMES YOU CAN USE FOR HUMOR:  Since my latest novel, For Love of Liberty, is a romantic comedy about a hero and heroine who butt heads, I purposely chose a hero name — Griffin McShane that the heroine could make fun of, which she does quite frequently, referring to him as Griffin McVain, Griffin McShame, Griffin McPain, and Griffin McBlame. Here's a sample, which I hope highlights the humor and fun in store for both the characters and the readers.
“Abominable.”
Miss Willoughby’s voice rang clear and concise from the back of the schoolroom, spelling primer in hand as she offered fourteen-year-old Liberty “Libby” O’Shea an encouraging smile. “Since everyone has been eliminated from the spelling bee except you and Mr. McShane, Miss O’Shea, we’ll need both the definition and usage of the word in a sentence in addition to the spelling, all right?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Libby’s smile tightened, the presence of seventeen-year-old Griffin McShane a few feet away girding her with the resolve to put the cocky know-it-all in his place. “Abominable,” she repeated in a loud voice, her mind immediately tracking to the most appropriate definition: Griffin McVain.
She cleared her throat. “A-b-o-m-i-n-a-b-l-e. Definition: something unpleasant, disagreeable, repulsive, disgusting, loathsome, nauseating, insufferable, despicable, and horrible. Sentence usage …” She bit back the squirm of a smile. Griffin McShane is an abominable rogue. Shoulders square, she notched her chin up. “Spilling ink on a classmate’s term paper is an abominable thing to do.”

I believe in making my character names do double duty. Such as in my series Isle of Hope and my latest book in that series, His Steadfast Love, in which I chose the name Katherine Marie O'Bryen for the heroine, who is a sarcastic type with a temper. But since fishing off a dock is a big part of this series, I changed the spelling to Catherine so I could have her brother coin the nickname "Catfish" for the “chatty twin with a big mouth as bristly as a catfish.” Extra humorous mileage I was able to build in. 

B.) SLAPSTICK ACTIVITY: The movie McLintock with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara is one of my favorites because I'm of the age and era where humorous head-butting and manhandling in movies was in vogue (i.e. John Wayne carrying Maureen O'Hara through the streets of a Western town in her chemise in McLintock or Rock Hudson storming Doris Day's apartment to carry her in her pajamas through the streets in Pillow Talk). It was light and funny slapstick activity, which is what I tried to do in my latest novel, For Love of Liberty. The trick, I think, is to allow humor to soften what would normally be outrageous manhandling to heighten the head-butting in a Taming of the Shrew type of plot. Here's a clip from For Love of Liberty to show you what I mean:
“Oh, no you don’t, mister.” Launching herself forward, Liberty spurted around him, arms pasted to the jambs to block his way. “We are going to finish this conversation.”

Over-my-dead-body,” he growled, heating more than her cheeks when he rudely plucked her up by the waist and set her aside so hard, she wobbled.

“Oh—good idea!” She tripped him with her foot, biting back a smile when he flailed like a puppet before regaining his balance. “But first we’re going to talk, you … you … ill-mannered mule!”

“Okay, that’s it.” A squeak left her lips while her body took flight, her squeal quickly lost in an unladylike grunt when he tossed her over his shoulder like a sack of feed. “And I’ve never met a mule with manners, Miss Bell, but if I do, I’ll be sure to send him over to give you some tips. Del, I’ll be back shortly.” He slammed the door hard, drawing the attention of several men who issued jovial greetings as they passed, their low chuckles broiling her cheeks all the more.

“Put me down right now!” she hissed, wiggling and pummeling his back with her free hand while she clutched her purse with the other. Passing the mercantile next door, she noted the dropped jaws of several well-dressed women. Another rush of blood scorched her face, both from anger and the humiliation of hanging upside down like a bat. “Let-me-down-this-instant!” she gritted out with renewed fury, battering him all the harder. “You are acting like a complete barbarian!”

“Well, no surprise there.” He stomped down the wooden sidewalk, locking her legs against his chest when she tried to kick him. “What do you expect from somebody who starves babies and women—chivalry?”

“Ha!” she shouted, banging shoulders that felt like boulders while she commenced to bashing his head with her purse. “You wouldn’t know the meaning of chivalry if Daniel Webster personally defined it for you, you … you … overgrown bully!”

“No, but I sure can spell it, lady, along with royal pain in the—”

“Afternoon, Finn.” A man offered a casual tip of his hat, continuing on down the boardwalk as if Finn McShane manhandling a woman were an everyday occurrence.

C.) HUMOROUS THOUGHTS/INTERNAL MONOLOGUE: One of the easiest ways to add humor in a story is through a character's thoughts or internal monologue. Here are some examples to show you what I mean:

For Love of Liberty by Julie Lessman
       Martha gently brushed the blue ribbon, a look of awe shining on her face. “I honestly didn’t think we’d stand a chance since Finn’s booth is so amazing, but I’m overjoyed we did.” She looped her arm through Liberty's. “What are you going to do with your share of the award money, Libby?”
      Hire a gunslinger.
Love at Any Cost by Julie Lessman
A grin inched across his face as his eyes slowly trailed back up as naturally as the dimples that deepened with the lift of his smile. Heat suffused her cheeks, as much from the obscene number of petticoats Mother’d insisted she wear as the Romeo’s frank perusal. Flattery will get you nowhere, mister. Her lips took a slant. Though it’d certainly gotten Mark’s ring on her finger. She issued a silent grunt. A history lesson unto itself, she thought, the smell of horse manure from buggies lining the terminal oddly comforting.
And appropriate.
Okay, that’s it—our first three points A, B, and C in this prequel post. And trust me—you don’t want to miss the next four points in my original post, Funny You Should Say That Part 1 and the subsequent post that finishes this series up, Funny You Should Say That Part 2 because they are FUN!! 

Giveaway:   
Leave a comment and humor tips of your own if you like, humorous samples of yours or other writers, or just the name of humorous authors you enjoy, and you will be entered to win an e-copy of my latest novel, For Love of Liberty or your choice of any of my indie e-books.



Hugs,

Julie

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Anatomy of a Successful Query

with guest blogger Jessica Alvarez.

Thank you for having me guest blog on Seekerville today! I’m going on my seventeenth year in publishing and I must have seen thousands of queries in that time. As an agent, I’ve written my fair share of queries too. One of the biggest misconceptions I hear is that publishing is all about who you know. This might be shocking to hear but in seventeen years, I have never gotten a new author through a pitch session. Up until this year, I had never gotten a new author through a contest. One author through a contest in seventeen years! So how do I find new authors? Through queries. Next to having a great manuscript, the query is your single most important tool in finding an agent or editor. 

I’m going to give you a peek at the query that led to Seekerville’s Tina Radcliffe becoming my client. You’ll see where it all began and what she did right. After that, I’ll give you a look at a terrible query to highlight some common mistakes. Let’s dig in and get to Tina’s query:

Dear Ms. Alvarez,

Literary Agent Natasha Kern and fellow author Terri Reed have recommended I email you. I am currently published with Harlequin Love Inspired. My last three-book contract was fulfilled recently with Second Chance Cowboy which will release in December 2016. I have sold seven books to Love Inspired since 2007.

My editor and I have worked together on a concept that I am ready to submit. It is a proposal for a four-book series, called Second Chance Ranch. It is a children’s ranch for orphaned, abused and neglected children. It is owned and operated by the orphaned Maxwell siblings: Lucy, Travis & Emma. 

Her Temporary Cowboy is the first book of the series for Harlequin Love Inspired. Ranch director Lucy Maxwell has spent her entire life caring for others. Second Chance Ranch is her life. Much of the ranch’s funding comes from the foundation of millionaire, Meredith Brisbane. When Meredith’s cynical nephew, Jackson Tucker, takes over as in-house counsel for the foundation, he objects to the donations to the ranch and butts head with the ranch director. Lucy challenges Jack to see where the money goes, and his aunt thinks that’s a splendid plan.  Jack’s planning a visit to the ranch and instead ends up lassoed into being a temporary cowboy for the summer. The gruff city attorney finds himself on a trail ride in the middle of nowhere and being followed around by five-year-old orphan and triplet, Dub Lewis. Working with Jack on a daily basis, Lucy wonders exactly what she got herself into. When Jack’s hardened heart begins to crack, she has to remind herself that he won’t be around for long. No one is more surprised than Jack when he realizes that Second Chance Ranch has irrevocably changed him. He’s fallen in love with Lucy and Dub. He’ll do everything he can to win her trust, and make her open her heart to the possibility of becoming a family.

I’ve been a member of RWA and ACFW. I am a two-time Golden Heart finalist, a two-time Carol Award finalist, and a 2014 Carol Award winner. My 2015 release, Safe in the Fireman's Arms, is the recipient of the Holt Medallion Merit Award and is a Bookseller's Best Award finalist. Additionally, I write short stories and have sold over twenty short romances to Woman’s World Magazine. I also manage a thirteen-author blog, which is a four-time Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers award recipient. Seekerville has recently hit the two million views mark.

At this time I hope to partner with for someone for long-term career planning. Thanks so much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Tina Radcliffe
CONTACT INFO REDACTED

Admittedly, Tina had a leg up when querying me. The first thing she does in her letter is mention that she was referred by a client of mine and another agent. If you have a referral, USE it. It won’t get you an automatic request, but it will certainly grab an agent’s attention. 

The other great thing Tina did right away was mention her publishing history. Some people like to close with that information, and that’s fine, but always include specifics. If I get a query that says “I’ve had several books published in the past” or, even worse “I’ve published books under another name”, I don’t know if they’re self-published, traditionally published, with a vanity press or, in the latter example, even what name they’re under. If the information isn’t there, it could be an oversight, but it makes me wonder if there’s a reason you’re hiding that info. 

One thing to note, you don’t need a referral or publishing credits to grab an agent. The vast majority of my clients had neither. They sent me a regular ol’ query. 

As for the blurb paragraphs, Tina starts off with a bit about the series. Personally, I prefer to save that info for after the blurb. But, in this case, it works with the paragraph above it.

The main blurb tells me title, where it is in the series, and which publisher it’s aimed at—all good info to have. Note, if you’ve written a single-title romance, you don’t need to tell me it’s been written with Bethany House in mind. But, if you’re writing category-length, it’s helpful to know where you think that book might fit. Arguably, the agent reading the query should know, but when I see a query for a 50,000-word romance and you don’t tell me it’s aimed at Harlequin, I don’t know if you realize that it’s category-length and you have limited options. Plenty of writers are unaware that most single-title romance is at least 80,000 words. 

For the rest of Tina’s blurb paragraph, if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t say this is the most amazing blurb ever, but it gets the job done. It shows me an understanding of her market, introduces the protagonists and their conflict. I generally prefer to see a blurb that doesn’t mention the names of secondary characters, but it’s fine here because they’re important to the story.

And, finally, Tina closes it out politely and with her contact info. That’s all you need to do. 

On the other hand, let’s take a look at a bad query (I wrote this myself).

Dear Stephany Gomez:

I am writing you because I’ve always wanted to be a writer. My parents, and friends have always told me what a good writer I am. This book’s about a boy who falls in love with a girl when they both go to the same party. It is 130 pages long and I put it up on Amazon to see if people would like it. I’ve only sold five copies so I think I need you to publish it. 

Thank you,
Jennifer Martin

I know this is obviously bad, but there are slightly better queries that fail for many of the same reasons. First, get the agent’s name right. Mistakes happen, but proofread, please!

The other big fail here is telling me that everyone thinks she’s a good writer. Trust me on this: no query was ever improved by a writer telling an agent that her parents think the book is good. Unless your mother is Nora Roberts, her opinion isn’t worth zilch to an agent. 

Next problem, the story sounds like every other romance out there. You need to make your story sound unique and special. That is the number one reason why I pass on projects. 

The last two sentences fail in every way. Including the page count instead of word count is the mark of an amateur. Also, please, don’t put a book up on Amazon as a trial. Self-publishing is a valid option and if that’s what you want to do, that’s fine, but once it’s up there, your chances of getting an agent or traditional book deal for that same book have shrunk exponentially. If self-publishing fails, your best bet is to sit down and write a new book before querying. 

And the final fail is that she’s addressing an agent as if she were an editor. An agent helps you find a publisher for your book, but doesn’t actually publish it. Not being aware of the difference is another indication the author is an amateur.


What I want everyone to take away from this is that it’s your query that will help get you an agent much more than a pitch appointment or contest win. Get down to polishing those queries and send them out! 

In the meantime, I’ll be answering questions in the comments, so please share some problems you run into with your queries and I’ll do my best to help.  


Jessica Alvarez is a Senior Literary Agent at BookEnds. After ten years as an editor, she joined BookEnds in 2011. She began her publishing career as an editorial assistant at Harlequin where she had the opportunity to acquire and edit a wide array of fiction, specializing in historical romance and inspirational romance. Jessica left Harlequin in 2008 to pursue freelance editing, and completed projects for various publishers, including Thomas Nelson. You can learn more at bookendsliterary.com. 


Seekerville is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to one of today's commenters in honor of Jessica's visit. So stick around, ask all those burning questions and let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Cool Christmas Gifts for Readers and Writers

Missy Tippens


Every year or so we've shared some gifts for writers around Christmas time. I thought it would be fun to do that again this year. Tippens kids, if you’re reading this, well, I hope you get some good ideas! :)

I thought I’d start with the more practical and head toward the…not so practical (to put it mildly!). I'm including links but not all photos. So please don't get distracted by shopping and forget to come back. :) (By the way, I don't get any kickback if you purchase these items. I'm just sharing for fun.)



A year or two ago, my sister-in-law got me of these literary inspired candles. Very nice gift!

And of course, we all love fun mugs. There are so many good ones!

Here's a Zazzle site that has a lot of mugs.

And this one cracked me up: 

photo from LaTazas & MAUAG Funny Mug Gifts. (Link above)


Another cute one! Talks about a writer being a person who can convert caffeine into books. :)

I really loved these tea towels made of fabric that looks like writing paper! She’s sold out for now but I’m hoping she’ll have more soon. Oh! I just found another store that has one. So you can try here as well.


Definitely in the land of the practical: a gift card to play at your favorite office supply store! Yes, I know you writers understand what I mean by playing. Is going to buy pens and printer paper a chore??? NO. A visit to the office supply store is FUN! ;)

And for readers and writers, a gift card to your favorite bookstore is always appreciated!

Of course, among the practical category, are gift subscriptions and memberships. How about subscriptions to:
--Audible.com so you can listen to stories.
--Magazines for writers like Writer’s Digest or Publisher’s Weekly.
--Netflix or Hulu type subscriptions so you can study movies! That’s one of my favorite ways to internalize story structure.
--Or for a different type of inspiration, how about membership to a botanical garden nearby. We joined the Atlanta Botanical Garden this year and have really enjoyed it. You could also buy an annual pass to local State Parks or National Parks.

Along those same lines, consider asking for season tickets to your favorite music or theater venue. For several years, I’ve bought a 4-concert season ticket package to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. And just this year we bought season tickets to one of our local theaters, AuroraTheater. I find inspiration in any of the arts and imagine you would too! Plus, we’re supporting fellow creative folks.

Some of you may work on the couch or in a room that's not strictly an office. Pam Hillman was talking about this recently for moving her research books and supplies. Rolling carts can be one way to move your office around and then to store everything away when company comes! 


Does your laptop heat up when you work on your lap? Try a laptop cooling pad. Here's a list of popular ones.

Now, moving into the more unusual gift category. A lot of these are created and sold by individuals or through Etsy and places like that. I like supporting small businesses that way.

Here’s one I found that I love. Sticky notes for your to-do list. I can imagine it stuck onto a keyboard or on a monitor.

Lithographs. I love this scarf made from Little Women!

photo from Lithographs.com. (Link above)


This could be great fun for readers as well as writers: A 100 Essential Books scratch off chart! 

Typewriter Coasters: An old-fashioned typewriter holds a set of coasters. I always have a drink near me as I work, so I love coasters. One of my friends bought me a wonderful set of quilted coasters last Christmas. She said she thought of me as soon as she saw them. (Thank you, Beth!) You might be able to find something similar.



Okay, I found more mugs I like! First Lines coffee mug that has great first lines from multiple novels.

And this one made me laugh out loud: Quitter coffee mug (Bookmark? You mean quitter strip?!) LOL

Photo: MGAPDX store on Etsy (link above)


And one last mug that says: Pray, Write, Repeat.

Here's a keychain that’ll remind you to write. 

A light up pen to catch ideas that hit you during the night. 

Here's another one that made me smile. A Proof Read clock.

Photo from 3dRose on Amazon (link above)


Need a fun way to brainstorm and keep track of details and like to work on paper? You could use this gift set with it's included booklets for characters and locations and scene ideas.

There are a gazillion journals out there, and I'm sure many of you collect them and use them. I thought this one was nice because it is a Writing Prompt journal.

Now to some fun items. I love jewelry, and there are some really great pieces of jewelry for writers and readers. You just have to do a search and will come up with many. Here are a few I loved:



And this beautiful Mystery Writers Charm Bracelet

Photo: PattieTierney Store on Etsy (link above)


Old-fashioned typewriter key jewelry is also a favorite--like this necklace.

Here's a place to order Bookplates. 



And finally, one of the crazier gifts. Here's some hard core decorating for book lovers. A duvet cover that looks like a set of books! They also have a shower curtain to match. :) Who needs to go to the library when you have giant books all around your home?! :)

I hope you've had a little fun with this post and maybe even found some shopping ideas. You can also send your friends and family members here for ideas.

Photo: Dirtsastudio store on Etsy (link below)


GIVEAWAY! As long as the site doesn't sell out, I'll be giving away one of the notebook paper tea towels. (If it sells out, I'll find something similar or do an Etsy gift card.) Please let me know in the comments if you'd like to be entered.

I'd also love to hear what your dream gifts are for Christmas!

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After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com, https://twitter.com/MissyTippens and http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.