Last year, I published a popular post listing 5 holiday gift ideas for writers. I am sharing those original five ideas below, but I have also added some new ideas based on my recent discoveries. In addition, I’ve added some gift suggestions that were recommended in last year’s comments. Click on the product names for Amazon links. If anyone has new ideas to share, please post them in the comments for the benefit of all those writers who either don’t know what to ask for this year, or don’t know what to get for their writing buddies! I’d also love to hear more recommendations for writing software.
1. Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 – I asked my husband to buy this for me for Christmas this year and can’t wait to try it out. Earlier in the year, I had a minor wrist issue from too much typing and too much Wii, and a writing friend suggested an ergonomic keyboard. This one has over 1,400 positive reviews on Amazon. (Am I the only person who never heard of this type of keyboard until this year???) The improved split design encourages a more natural hand, wrist, and forearm position and its new curved key layout makes keys easier to reach. The Zoom Slider lets you zoom in for close-ups of Web pages, images, and more with just the touch of a finger. And five customizable “My Favorites” keys give you instant access to the folders, files, and Web pages you use most.
2. Imak Smart Glove – These proved extremely useful when I had my wrist issue. Now, I don’t use them all the time, but will slide them on when I’ve been typing a lot. I’ll also use them sometimes when I play Wii. These gloves help prevent and relieve carpal tunnel syndrome, increases comfort and circulation and ensure ergonomically correct wrist position. They are
reversible to fit left or right hand, and come in various sizes.
3. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression – I heard about this book on one of my Yahoo writing groups, and bought one for myself as I’m always striving to find better ways to convey my characters’ emotions through non-verbal communication. After flipping through it, I ordered another copy for my longtime critique partner. It comes in both print and e-book formats, but I went with the print edition so that it could be easily pulled out. This book highlights 75 emotions and lists the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each. Written in an easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.
Last year’s gift ideas:
4 Alphasmart Neo – Handheld – One of my friends (the critique partner who will be getting The Emotion Thesaurus) gave me this handy word processor as she found that she wasn’t using it. I love it! No Internet distractions, no flash drive needed, no long start-up time. It is a fraction of the cost of a standard laptop, and you can send text directly to your PC, Mac, or USB printer. This thing has incredible battery life. You get up to 700 hours use on 3 alkaline batteries, or up to 300 hours using the rechargeable battery option. I got mine two years ago, use it all the time, and have only changed the batteries once. I carry this with me on the road for when I need to take notes and write about an event, (I type much faster than I write) and I also use it to work on my books, bringing it around the house with me. Best writing gift I’ve ever received, and it’s also great for college students, high school students, and even elementary school kids who need to type papers.
5. Real-Ease Neck and Shoulder Relaxer – All writers spend a lot of time on their computer and therefore have a tendency toward neck and shoulder tightness. The Real-Ease Neck and Shoulder Relaxer helps release neck and shoulder tension in just 10-15 minutes a day. This unique, cervical shaped support cradles your neck at the base of your skull to help release muscle tension in the neck, shoulders and jaw. The product has over 180 Amazon reviews, the majority of them glowing. I thought it was worth a try and ordered it for myself last year. I love it, and ordered another one for my dad. What a simple, but well-designed, product. My neck has felt much better since I started using this product for 15 minutes a few times per week.
6. Rory’s Story Cubes – This is a great product for writers to play with their children or grandchildren. Amazon reviewers have also indicated that it’s fun for adults to play. There are infinite ways to play with Rory’s Story Cubes. You can play solitaire or with others. Here are some suggested uses: Party game or ice-breaker, Literacy development, Speaking and listening skills, Creative inspiration, Mental workout, Problem solving. Rory’s Story Cubes is a pocket-sized creative story generator, providing hours of imaginative play for all ages. With Rory’s Story Cubes, anyone can become a great storyteller and there are no wrong answers. Simply roll the cubes and let the pictures spark your imagination.
7. Archetype Cards [ARCHETYPE CARDS -OS] – I bought these cards for myself last year. They can be used to do oracle card readings, and a few Amazon reviewers also indicated that the cards are a perfect tool to help writers create three-dimensional characters. Strangely enough, even though I collect oracle cards, I’ve never used this deck to do a reading. Instead, I use it for fleshing out my characters. Archetypes are ancient, universal patterns of behavior that are embedded in what Carl Jung called the “collective unconscious.” Caroline Myss has created a unique set of 80 Archetype Cards, each individually designed to provide the basic Light and Shadow Attributes of a different Archetype. The deck also contains six blank cards on which you can create your own Archetypes. The deck comes with an instruction booklet explaining how to use the cards to help determine which Archetypes are most active in your psyche, and how they can lead you to achieve greater insights into your life. (or the lives of your characters.) The deck is suitable to be used by itself, in conjunction with Caroline’s book Sacred Contracts, or with any of her workshops and seminars.
Gift recommendations from readers: I don’t know much about some of the below products, but last year, they were highly recommended by my blog visitors.
8. Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home 12.0, English – Turns talk into text with greater recognition and formatting accuracy than ever before. Capture your ideas at the speed of thought without letting typing, spelling, or fear of the blank page slow you down. Say words and they appear on your computer screen – three times faster than typing – with no spelling mistakes.
9. Flip Dictionary – You know what you want to say but can’t think of the word. You can describe what you’re thinking but you don’t know the name for it. Flip Dictionary solves this common problem. Best-selling author Barbara Ann Kipfer has created a huge reference that offers cues and clue words to lead writers to the exact phrase or specific term they need. It goes beyond the standard reverse dictionary format to offer dozens of charts and tables, listing groups by subject (such as automobiles, clothing types, plants, tools, etc.)
10. These classic writing books:
On Writing by Stephen King
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King
The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter
11. The Personal Internet Address & Password Log Book – Are you tired of losing track of those login/usernames and passwords you create every time you visit a new Web site? Do you have sticky notes and scraps of paper scattered about your office and home computer space covered with these vital pieces of information, but never seem to be able to put your hands on them when you need them? Now you can keep important Web site addresses, usernames, and passwords in one convenient place!
12. Serenity Software Editor – According to the web site, this software offers professional critiques of usage and style to help writers edit and polish their work. It checks for many spelling mistakes that other checkers miss and for myriads of common stylistic flaws that other checkers ignore. It is useful to students from junior high school through college and to professional writers in any field. Like a professional copyeditor, Editor proofreads and helps correct and polish writers’ drafts at the word and phrase levels. The software can identify more than 200,000 common spelling errors, mechanical errors, usage mistakes, and stylistic misdemeanors that elude other text checkers.
Do you have any great gifts for writers to share? Please tell us in the comments!