Gifts for Writers

If you have a family member or friend who is a writer, and you want to give them gifts—for birthdays, holidays, or just because—but don’t know what to give, you’re not alone. Even writers have trouble offering ideas.

Most writers use and keep the inexpensive basic supplies listed. Listen for them to mention they are almost out or need to buy more, soon. Some don’t use all these things, so you do have to familiarize yourself with your writer’s preferences.

On the more expensive end of the list, you will find items we need—like conferences and workshops, or things need done but don’t always remember to do—like fixing the car, or things to help us get away from the desk, once in a while.

Below are some good ideas. They start small and move up in price. Free or almost free ideas are at the bottom.
Erasers – Hand-held erasers or pencil-tops?
Pens – Plastic, wood, metal? Ink or gel? Ink color(s)? Clip on side? Rubber pads around the middle?
Sticky Pads or Stickers – Color? Size? Design?
Paper Clips – Color? Size? Design?
Staples – Color? Size? Design? Brand?
Stapler – Color? Size? Design? Brand?
Highlight Markers – Color? Size? Design? Brand?
Permanent Markers – Color? Size? Design? Brand?
White-out – Color? Design? Brand?
Spiral or Other Notebooks – Wide ruled? College Ruled? No lines?
3-Ring Binders – Color? Size? Design? Brand?
Copy paper
Printing paper – Some of us use colored paper or cardstock, too!
USB/Thumb Drives – Do they prefer small or large capacity? Is there a preferred brand or style?
Earbuds or Headphones – Color? Size? Design? Brand?
Yarn – Some writers crochet or knit while conjuring stories. Know their brand, color, type preferences before you buy! There are other needed items, too, such as needles, hooks, etcetera.
Desk Organizer – Color? Size? Design? Brand?
Chair Pad – For more comfortable sitting.
Business Cards – Only order these with your writer’s approval. You can reorder their normal ones or help them design new ones.
Pamphlets – Only order these with your writer’s approval. You can reorder their normal supply or help them design new ones.
Books – Hardcover? Paperback? Ebook? Audio Book? Listen for wished-for book titles.
Magazine Subscription – Ask which ones they really want.
Ink Cartridges – This is a great gift! All writers need these! Buy the cartridges their printer/copier requires.
Light bulbs – Type – CFL, LED, Halogen?  How many watts? Brand?
Haircut/Hairstyle – Great when the writer has an event coming up.
Manicure/Pedicure – Do they have a preference?
Bus Pass – If they ride the bus a lot, buy a season pass to help them get from Point A to Point B.
Taxi Pass – Is there a way to pay some taxi time in advance?
Turnpike Pass – Some writers use the turnpike. Apply some cash to their stash.
Computer Program or App – Which ones have they been wishing for?
Clothing – For desk time or public events. You’ll need sizes, colors, styles, brands, etcetera.
Cozy socks or houseshoes – Color? Size? Design? Brand? Style?
Photo Shoot for Author Picture
Cover Art / Illustrator
Carry Bag – For laptop, luggage, books, and more.
Gift Cards or Prepaid Credit Cards – For specific stores (print shop, gasoline, restaurant), or whatever they wish. These would be extra welcome just before a trip.
Advertising – Help them announce their new book, new project, etcetera.
External Hard Drive – Is there a brand or style they prefer?
Display Rack – for book signings and sales. Color? Size? Design? Brand?
Author Poster – for books, events, etcetera. (Design should be discussed with writer.)
Easel – to Display Posters. Color? Size? Design?
Computer – They will use this a LOT and need one that is up-to-date and suits their specific needs. (So, please learn their needs before purchasing one.)
Professional Edit – Is the work almost finished? Pay for a professional copyedit to polish the story.
Desk/Table/Chair – For office, or travel? Color? Size? Design? Brand?
Bookcase – Color? Size? Design? Brand?
File Cabinet – Color? Size? Design? Brand?
Video Camera – For book trailers and more. Color? Size? Design? Brand?
Webinars – Listen for subjects your writer wants/needs help with.
Workshops – Listen for subjects your writer wants/needs help with.
Study Courses – Listen for subjects your writer needs help with.
Gym Membership – Staying healthy can be hard for a writer who spends much of her time in a chair.
Writer’s Retreat – Alone or with a friend or friends, it’s nice to get away and write.
Conferences – Pay their way to a conference they want to attend.
Online Conferences – There may be an online conference they wish to attend.
Travel – Pay for a plane trip, rental car or other transportation to get to conferences or other events.
Hotel – Pay for their hotel costs to attend a conference or other event.
Research Trip – Would it help them to be on location? Send them there, or help them afford it!
Automobile – Upkeep, repair, or replacement.
Home – Upkeep, repair, or replacement.

A fun get-away is always a good idea for a writer who stays shut in a lot.

Day/Night Out – At the fair or carnival, concert, movies, swimming pool, skating rink, bowling alley, pool hall, learning to ride a horse, or?
Hiking, Fishing, Camping – Take time away from the writing to enjoy some of their favorite down-time hobbies.
Cruise – Where do they want to go? Is there something to celebrate, or would a cruise help them get away from all the interruptions of daily life?

Other ideas which are shareable:

Walk – Walk or jog together, or walk the dog(s).
Drive – Take a drive to nowhere in particular. Just hop in the car and go away for an hour or two.
Join them at a conference. Some writers want to attend a conference or other event, but won’t drive there alone. Just having someone along is a blessing. Take something to occupy your time while they’re at the event, or sign up to attend with them!

There are many more I could add, but these are items we use and/or need. And, if you’re reading this, you care enough to buy your writer something useful. Thank you for that.

If this list helps you find a gift for your writer, or you have other ideas, please share. I’d love to hear from you.

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

(Watch for more about the FREE 5th Annual MEET THE PUBLISHERS! event in Tulsa Oklahoma. The 2019 date is Saturday, March 30th. Mark your calendars!)

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We interrupt this program…

Yes, I was supposed to post a list on this page a few days ago. However, I went to a fabulous conference and totally wiped out when I returned. I’ve slept a lot and not had any brains most of the time, so I seem to have lost my next blog post. No worries. I’ll find it in the next day or two, I’m certain. I took it with me to the conference, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find.

In the meantime, celebrate with me, if you will. At the conference (Ozark Creative Writers), I won three awards:

2nd Place (romance)
3rd Place (another romance)
1st Honorable Mention (a romance gone bad).

For what it’s worth, I don’t write romance. I’m starting to consider it, though.

My wonderful husband, Gene La Viness, did one better and won 1st Place in the Oxbow Award. He’s a very good writer. I’m proud to be his wife for many reasons.

I’ll try to get that gift list for writers on here real soon. Thanks for understanding!

If you’re looking for me on Facebook, here’s my author page: Author – Renee’ La Viness

Gene also has an author page on Facebook: Author – Gene La Viness

Give us a LIKE and follow us there. Thanks!

The Ins and Outs of Writing

If you’re interested in writing, or recently found yourself sucked into it, here are some important things you need to prepare for. Old-timers may also find a gem or two below.

Being a successful book author is a “whole life” plan. It’s nothing like being a machine shop operator or assembly line worker, or even a desk jockey, although you will spend much of your time at a desk. You are not doing the same thing over and over. You can’t survive on knowing how to do only one job. It requires learning as much about the whole industry as possible and keeping up with the constant changes that happen as the internet molds our way of thinking, buying, selling, and communicating. Before long, the daily challenge to be a successful author consumes your whole life.

So, what does an author really do?

Renee-Office-BlogPic

Along with writing, many other skills are required to be a successful author. One must know how to use a computer writing program, most of all. Manuscripts must be formatted to the requirements of different publishers and contests.

We also have to join online and offline groups, purchase programs/memberships that will be helpful in one manner or another. Before long, we’re also attending conferences, workshops, and webinars. If we do not buy into the most popular plans and products, we may be left behind when the writing industry moves forward. Then we scramble to catch up.

It is important to have some understanding of the skills others do for us. This often requires knowing whether we plan to self-publish, use a hybrid publisher, or be traditionally published. Do we need an agent? Some need illustrators or cover artists. Others might need formatters or marketing specialists. Many authors use a video or audio specialist, or both. Learning your publisher’s schedule also alleviates unnecessary frustrations.

Regardless of how you plan to be published, critique groups and beta readers are important for polishing manuscripts. And, all writers need to learn how to work with editors.

We need to determine whether our work is for newspapers, magazines, anthologies, or books. Different publishers have different writing rules, style manuals, and different submission preferences. We even have to learn how to pitch our work to a publisher during a short elevator ride!

Once we learn how to write and submit our stories, we have to learn more about selling them. Most of us start out selling to family and friends. Then we join a plethora of social media sites, schedule multiple book signings, speak at events and purchase advertising online, in printed publications, etcetera. If we’re smart, we also have a “street team.”

If we don’t have a website when we start our writing journey, we soon will. Learning to blog is also important.

During all this shuffling of skills and knowledge, we adjust our schedules again and again. Our family lives can easily be hindered or lost to our careers.

Just when we think we have mastered most of the skills and sit back to draw in a nice, long, relaxing breath, a new skill is required, we see something we missed along the way, or some fantastic new product, group, or idea comes along. Being the good authors we are, we must learn this new thing. And, so we get after it before we can exhale that beautiful breath we just took.

Somewhere along the way, our health comes into play. For many authors, health doesn’t become an issue until something serious happens or the doctor gives an ultimatum. Or both. So, we find ways to fit healthy foods and almost daily exercise into our plans. By this time, many of us already have physical limitations, so this can create a downhill domino effect if we do not take it seriously. Ultimately, most of us learn that a health plan of some sort must be added to our busy schedule. (If you’re just now starting out, please take this into consideration and plan ahead.)

How can you find your place in this constantly shifting field?

If you are an aspiring author, prepare to take on these challenges. Learn what you can about each stage as you move into it. Although many things different as times change, so try to stay in touch with the writing community.

If you’re a trailblazer, find your area of expertise and create new paths for other writers to follow.

If you’re a friend or family member, try to imagine what your writer is going through. Share their successes with your friends and family. Writers NEED your support. They can get overwhelmed in this craziness, and it’s nice to know someone close to us is paying attention. One of the best things you can do is acknowledge their career choice as a real job and help them set aside time to meet their daily challenges.

Need some great gift ideas for a writer? That’s my next post, so stay tuned!

Young Writers

Kids will be kids. Kids love to read good stories. Kids love to hear good stories. Some of them love to write good stories, too.

Over the past two or three years, we have taken a couple of our grandchildren (ages 10 to 13) to area writing conferences. They enjoy learning more about the writing industry.

Conferences create opportunities. They offer a chance to meet publishers, editors, illustrators, formatters, and many other writers.

At conferences, our writing youth can learn what publishers want and how other writers overcome their problem areas. They learn that support is a huge, important part of the writing industry, which is largely a solo career.

By meeting publishers and others while they are young, they will feel more comfortable approaching them in the future. This is very important.

This is a rapidly changing industry. Getting the younger generation involved is a wonderful way to encourage future success. If they are brought up seeing what conferences have to offer, they will be more likely to continue such educational experiences as they grow older and more independent. They will be less intimidated by the process and more willing to be involved.

I was so pleased to see a twelve-year-old win an award at the White Country Creative Writers Conference, recently. For such a young one to do so well, he is going to be a great challenge at a very young age. I hope to see him win many more awards in the future.

NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. It is a great challenge for adults and youth. It is the opportunity to write a novel in a month. Learn to write without editing, then go back and edit after it’s finished. What if you don’t want to write a novel? Then write a bunch of short stories you can enter into contests. Or, write a whole lot of children’s books. Maybe you can write down all the stories you’ve heard from your loved ones as you great up. Just write.

Tonight, I met a fourteen-year-old writer at a monthly writers’ meeting. I look forward to watching her grow as a new writer, too.

It’s all so exciting!

Autumn Events

It’s almost here! Autumn is days away and we are looking forward to a serious reprieve from this summer’s heat wave. I’m sure it will return in another eight or nine months, if we just hang in there.

A lot of things have been in the works, lately. Wonderful changes are taking place. We have managed to get one of our most important domain names back after years of watching it be trashed by someone who was trying to get us to pay a large sum of money to get it back. We decided to wait it out. We are glad to have it back and will hopefully have it up and running around the end of the year, although it’s going to be a little longer before we start making pool cues, again. We have felt like life was pressing us down for a long time and this seemingly small change has given us a huge emotional boost.

I have two new books coming soon. They are part of the Diary series. It is hard to contain my excitement.

I’ve also been working hard on some old and some new short stories for conference contests. I have some new stories that have surprised even me.

My computer finally decided it was tired of the flack Windows 10 was giving it. When it finally refused to start Windows, I took it to the shop. I was so scared I’d lose all my stories and other stuff I’ve collected in here for the past five years. Yes, I back everything up, but it had been a good month since the last big save. When it choked, I was in the middle of writing one of my best stories, yet. There was only one serious problem. I had to send that story with the next day’s postmark (contest deadline), so I was a bit frantic. The guys were awesome. They saved practically everything on my computer AND got that story file to me, so I could finish writing it and get it submitted on time, too. After all that, I sure hope it wins something!

Anyway, here’s a SHOUT OUT to the guys down at Same Day Computer Repair of Tulsa. Thanks so very much for saving the day and not breaking the bank! You guys are my heroes!

I’m excited about this Saturday, September 1st. A few years ago, Gene and I took a trip to Searcy, Arkansas for the White County Writers Conference. We had a wonderful time and wished we could go back. Well, this year, I’m not just getting to go back, but I’m also one of the speakers scheduled for the event. There will be three of us: Best selling author Robin Caroll, who will share some insight on writing suspense and mystery; President & Creative Director of Oghma Creative Media, Casey W. Cowan, will help authors have a better idea what publishers want; and I will be giving away secrets on writing dialogue and emotions, first thing in the morning. So, be there early, if you want to know what I know!

In October, we’ll be at the Ozark Creative Writers Conference, again. We always look forward to seeing our friends out there. I won’t be representing 4RV Publishing, this year (since I resigned in January), but I’ve been told they are planning to be on Publisher’s Row, again. I will be glad to meet up with my fellow authors from Oghma Creative Media.

Another school year is upon us and I will soon be having lunch with my grandchildren and reading for their classes, again. I am looking forward to it.

I will be back with another update as soon as I can. Things are moving along and life is good.

May your lives be as blessed as mine.

Keeping up

So much has been going on lately. I am not used to the fast pace my life has taken since I resigned from 4RV Publishing to focus on building my writing and editing career.

At the moment, so much is going on that I am having trouble keeping up. I hope you’ll forgive me for not posting more often.

Watch this page for some great info over the next week or two. I have a LOT to share.

Also, keep your eyes on my other website: JesPiddlin’s Books

A Movie Review?

I’m soon to write another post here, but I left this on my Facebook page and decided to share on my website, as well. I seldom ever write any kind of a review, but I have waited for so long to see this movie.

I went to a friend’s house on Wednesday, and we watched The Man Who Invented Christmas. Here is my review of that movie.

Knowing this was supposed to be a portrayal of potentially real events gave me the hunger to see what Charles Dickens did in his writing (or how someone else perceived it) that I might learn from.

If you are not a writer, this is a great movie, because it shows very much how intense a writing project can get, especially when you are under pressure. We find our phrases, words, circumstances, and people in everyday life. Sometimes, a complete stranger has a look that sparks an entire story. When we get so absorbed the rest of the world needs to just leave us alone, we never mean any negativity to those we love. Well, we really do mean, “Leave me alone!” or, “I don’t have time, right now!” but usually, that’s only temporary, as the movie points out. It does occasionally happen, though. It’s just that we get so connected with our characters. We have to get connected to see every little quirk and interpretation that make our characters who they are. We have to see, feel, and convey these things to convince our readers the characters are real. And, we need to stay in the story until it is complete. Even stopping to sleep or go to the bathroom is a huge and unwelcome interruption.

If you are a writer, this movie has a fantastic manner of bringing those scenes and actions we see in our heads into his life, very much like the ones that play through our heads as we feverishly write what we are seeing. It also shows how we often like to enjoy life, probably a bit too much, at times. It serves as a good reminder to pay closer attention to our attitudes when we get to that intense place with our stories. If you’re a serious writer–especially if you’re a pantser–you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The main character is charming, fun to watch, full of entertaining pockets of personality. I love the different faces he makes throughout the movie.

The little snippets of info at the beginning and end of the movie are very helpful in understanding the full weight of Charles’ position.

I enjoyed the story within a story, how the writer(s) gave him his own demons to conquer as he drove himself to the end of the story he was writing, and how HIS main character played into helping him conquer those demons.

I loved the message Charles wanted to convey with A Christmas Carol. I, too, believe he achieved his purpose.

The one thing I liked least was the purple lipstick he wore. I realize it helped emphasize his facial shifts that were so cute, but the color was maybe a touch too noticeable. However, when he is portrayed as a child, you know it’s him, thanks to that ugly lipstick.

Another thing I did not like was studying over this in a political manner. I didn’t like how the story line might be used politically (in today’s twisted views), so I abandoned those thoughts early on.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It wasn’t the most outstanding I’ve ever seen, and it could have been much more intense, but I still felt connected because I’ve written in a similar manner and found my inner beast can be almost as ugly as his may have been. I’m certain none of my works have been quite as earth-shaking as Charles Dickens’ masterpieces, but I’m thrilled to know that what he went through was very much like what I go through as a writer. It’s nice to feel such a connection to someone who made such an impact in our world.

If you watch this movie, I’d suggest making your atmosphere as theater-like as possible, so you can focus all your energy in the story line. Today’s world creates way too many interruptions. For that reason, I believe the theater is where this movie would be best viewed.

And, there is the question of whether to allow a child to view the movie. As many others have said, I believe children should be at least 8 to 10 years old and have recently seen and understand the movie A Christmas Carol, or even better, have the story read to them and discussed with them, so they can understand the events of this movie.

I plan to watch this movie again–very soon–with my wonderful, writer husband. I’d love to gain his insight and interpretations.

If you saw this movie, please tell me what you thought of it. I’m curious to learn the views of others.

Coming soon…

I apologize for being so slow with my next blog post. I’ve been trying to help my husband through some major health issues and I’ve got a couple of announcements I want to make. I just have to get a couple more things lined up and taken care of, then you’ll see some great things mentioned here.

In the meantime, why don’t you check out my website? On the Schedule page, I have a list of all the events I plan to attend, this year. On the Links page, there are links to some terrific writing groups and conferences in this area. (If you know of any others, please let me know.) And, on the Edits page, you’ll find lots of great books I’ve helped edit over the past few years. Some were for the publishing company and some were for individuals.

Keep a close watch on this page. Lots of news coming soon!

 

Winning, Publishing, and Speaking

Wow. August may have been slow to pass, but everything since then has been so rushed and busy we have had trouble keeping up.

August 20th, Gene had his heart attack. Since then, he has been going to cardiac rehab three times a week, and he is about to have a surgery to clean out his carotid arteries, which are seriously clogged. We definitely appreciate everyone’s prayers.

I recently published a book for folks who are recording their blood pressure. It has pages to keep your medical info, including blood type, medical issues, medicines, family medical history, emergency contacts, insurance info, doctors and pharmacy, etc. It is a great tool to use regularly and take to the doctor’s office or hospital. While Gene was in the hospital for his heart attack, the nurses were kind enough to fill out our log pages without being asked. They knew it mattered to us and we had those papers handy. So, those forms are now part of my book. Here’s a link:
BPD-FrontCover-BkmkPik2 .

Or, if you’d like to enter the Goodreads contest to win one of 6 copies, sign up here:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/258908-blood-pressure-diary-keeping-it-simple

We just returned from the Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where we saw many friends we love spending a weekend with every year. I represented 4RV Publishing at a table on Publisher’s Row and in the Publishers Panel. I also took a few pitches from some very talented authors. My husband sat around the corner selling my new Blood Pressure Diary books.

I entered twelve contests and won five awards at the OCW conference. That’s nearly 50% of my entries. If you’re a writer, I encourage you to enter contests and work hard to win.

Congratulations also go to Shelley Ann Richter, who won my Middle Grade Fiction for Boys contest. She submitted a very good story.

This Saturday, I will be holding a workshop on Writing Believable Dialogue at the Nienhuis Community Center, at 51st and Lynn Lane, in Broken Arrow. More info: http://jespiddlin.com/designingtheworldwithwords/believabledialogue-2017-1.html

I will be discussing the O. Henry “Twist” at the FREE 2nd Annual Craft of Writing Mini-Conference, sponsored by the Tulsa NightWriters Club. It will be a one-day event on October 28th, at the Martin Regional Library (2601 S. Garnett Rd.) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I hope to see you there. We have some very good speakers lined up. Hurry to get registered! Time is running out. More info: https://tulsanightwriters.wordpress.com/2017-craft-of-writing-mini-conference

NaNoWriMo is coming in November. Will you be writing? I’m planning on it.

See you soon!

The Whirlwind of 2017

I apologize for being absent for half the year. I have been working on a lot of stories, including some of my own. I’ve also been to some exciting events, this year.

In May, I spent a weekend with a couple of friends at the OWFI Conference, in Oklahoma City. We had so much fun! I hope we are able to share a room again, next year.

The next week, I was honored to be a presenter for the second annual Read. Write. Share! Writers’ Weekend in Morrilton, Arkansas. I critiqued short works which had been submitted and shared some of the finer points with those in attendance. What a powerful weekend! I’m looking forward to next year’s event.

In June, I presented a session about the Secrets of Writing for Children to a room full of interested writers at the 73rd Annual Arkansas Writers’ Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. I hope to speak at this event again. I also represented 4RV Publishing at a vendor table and took a few pitches.

October will find me at the 51st annual Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I’m hoping to submit a good number of contest entries, and for the third year, I am sponsoring the Middle Grade Fiction for Boys contest. I’ll also be representing 4RV Publishing in Publisher’s Row for the second year.

As always, Gene and I have dedicated much of the summer to our grandchildren. They are growing like weeds and have become great helpers with bigger projects.

I bought a Kool Kart four-wheel surrey (pic below) from International Surrey Co., this summer. When the weather permits, Gene and/or I (and sometimes a grandchild) take off riding for our health. When I spend time on the surrey, my blood pressure stays much lower. I slept for most of a month while it went down. As much as I enjoy my time on the surrey, I look forward to having a small engine installed to help me climb the steeper hills when I need to go to town. If you check out the website and decide to purchase a vehicle from the company, please tell them I sent you. That motor is not going to be cheap to build, and I get a check for every sale I help happen.

Due to numerous requests to put a class or two online, I’ve promised to work on that project. I’ve also set up a traveling workshop for groups within a 200 mile range. Check out the website for more information. I’m also taking an occasional short story or children’s story to edit on the freelance side. No novels at this time. Sorry.

I’ll do my best to write sooner, next time.

SurreyPic