A Writer’s Wish List for When Your Spouse Says, “Honey, What Do You Want for Christmas?”

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When your spouse, or significant other, asks, “Honey, what do you want for Christmas?” here are some suggestions.

A Writer’s Retreat
Writers’ retreats can be as extreme as a cruise or as simple as a few days at an Airbnb.

A Writer’s Conference, Seminar, or Class
If you Google conferences, seminars, or writing courses for 2017, you’ll find many to choose from.

awm_primarylogo_195x195A Literary Trip
Travel to the setting of your favorite novel, or the setting of your work-in progress. Visit literary landmarks throughout the USA. Be one of the first to visit the American Writers Museum, opening in Chicago in 2017.

Take a virtual tour online.

A New Laptop Computer
A laptop allows you to take your work with you wherever you go. If you already have one, then add to your gift list a carrying case or sleeve.

Professional Feedback
How about a consult with a literary agent, or hiring an editor to help with your work-in-progress?

postcards-002Business Cards and Other Promotional Items
Vistaprint makes it easy to design your own business cards, and it’s affordable! Use their designs, or your own. Add a calendar, tip table, or other information on the back side. Check out other options like their marketing materials for book signings, etc. Along with competitive pricing, Vistaprint ships fast.

New Software
Is your software old? Add an upgrade to your gift list. Or ask for new software to make your writing tasks easier.

Noise-cancelling headphones
If you want to shut out distracting sounds, get some noise-cancelling headphones. You can listen to music while you write, or write in silence. Check out ten recommendations.

Your Own Website
Ask your honey for the gift of a professionally designed web site. Every author needs one!

office-makeover-reveal-4Home Office Makeover
Start the new year by giving your home office a fresh look. Some paint, new carpeting, bookshelves, maybe a new desk . . . put these on the “honey-do” list, or hire a professional.

Take a look at this makeover from “Love Grows Wild.”

A Writer’s Shed
Every writer wants one of these. A quick search on the Internet will provide you with plenty of options from plans to prefab. And don’t forget about big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Garden sheds are easily converted to outdoor office spaces.

Cleaning Service
A cleaning service takes a big item off your weekly to-do list and frees up more time for writing. Angie’s List offers tips on finding a reputable cleaning service near you.

A Virtual Assistant
This won’t cost your honey a dime—if he or she is willing to to do your grunt work: printing, mailing, schlepping to the store for supplies and other tasks that whittle away your writing time.

Peace and Quiet
Ask your honey for peace and quiet. Have him or her take the kids out, once a week, so you can have a few hours of uninterrupted writing time. BONUS: Your kids will love spending fun time with one parent while the other writes.

11388026183_18186c3f74_o-copyDon’t forget coffee and chocolate!
A coffee gift card is always a good gift for writers. Or how about one of those fancy coffee makers so you can have espresso or lattes at home? And chocolate—ask your honey to fill your Christmas stocking with chocolate to snack on while you write.

How to drop a big hint to your honey: Vistaprint has blank gift certificates starting at $2.79/10. Order today. Then print out this list and leave it along with the gift certificates where your honey will find them. What happens next—is a surprise.

Good luck!

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10 Funny Ways to Kill a (Fictional) Character

poxwomcxcs254x0I’m finally back to blogging after turning in three writing projects all with the same due date. It was a killer schedule. At times, I wished I were a character in my own story so I could fake my death and escape to a secluded tropical island. But, alas,—I was stuck in the real world of work and deadlines.

Let’s have fun this week brainstorming humorous ways to kill a fictional character. Here are 10 to get us started.

  1. Star football player is murdered by an imposter wearing his team’s mascot costume
  2. Small-town mayor dies when a clown on a motorcycle runs over him during  the town’s Founder’s Day parade
  3. Futuristic character is approached by a robot shooting paper airplanes–but one of the airplanes is loaded!
  4. Farmer gets locked in the hen house and is pecked to death by rabid chickens
  5. Drunk passes out in a big pile of leaves curbside and is scooped into a garbage truck
  6. Candymaker, working overtime and alone, drowns in a vat of chocolate
  7. Contestant dies after consuming 10 pounds of baked beans in an eating contest
  8. Grammarian is crushed when a shelf of dictionaries falls on him
  9. Fisherman on a river bank is killed when an eagle carrying a tortoise drops the tortoise on the fisherman’s head. (Don’t laugh, this really happened to Aeschylus, the great Athenian author of tragedies.)
  10. A large molasses storage tank bursts, and a wave of molasses rushes through the streets killing anyone in its path. (This actually happened in Boston in 1919.)

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If you are stuck looking for a unique way to kill off a character, Wikipedia offers a list of “real” unusual/ ironic deaths that occurred from 620 BC to the present. Also, check out Springhole.net’s “Cause of Death” generator, “Murder Mystery Victim” generator, and more.

It’s not easy coming up with unique/funny ideas to kill a character. Can you think of at least three? Add your ideas in the comments. (Please keep it clean and not too gory.)

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How NOT to Dread Deadlines

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Why are deadlines important? Because publishing is a schedule based business. When a book receives a publication date, everything moves toward the date when that book goes to the printer. If the book isn’t ready, printing presses stand idle, and time is money.

Many authors feel enslaved by deadlines. But what if how they think about them could change that? On his leadership web page, author and motivational speaker, Stan Toler, offers five positive ways to perceive deadlines. He says:

Deadlines are friends. You created them to assist you. Treat them with respect and they will be loyal to you. Ignore them and they may haunt you. They are not there to harass you; they are there to help you. Like a friend, you check on them, give them space, and remember their birthdates and anniversaries.

Deadlines are property lines. They are the imaginary spaces where your ideas and ideals live. As property lines, they need to be detailed, recorded, and guarded from intruders—such as time-wasters or attention-grabbers.

Deadlines are destination points. Like entering a travel location on your GPS, you create a deadline so you can journey toward it. There may be “points of interest” along the way, but their destination is your end goal.

Deadlines are managers. You gave them permission to keep you on the straight and narrow. In return, they give you friendly reminders of neglect, lack of focus, or impulsive behavior. You don’t need to fear them. They are not immovable. And if they are not flexible, they may need to be replaced.

Deadlines are volunteer staff. You appointed them, not vice versa. They are the stagehands, but you run the show. They embody your vision. You are only bound to them by loyalty. They have no overruling authority.”

Incorporate Toler’s suggestions when you write and revise. Remember–you control deadlines; they don’t control you. Meeting, even exceeding, them is a sure way to forge a great relationship with your publisher.

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and inspiration for writers.

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Filed under Deadlines, The Business of Writing, Tools for Writers, Uncategorized, working with editors, Writer's responsibility