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Ultimate Holiday Gifts For Writers 2011: Is Finished!

This is a post about the ULTIMATE holiday gifts for writers.

If you could have anything for a holiday gifts this year, writer, what would it be?

I will be expanding this post over the course of December and I’ll take your suggestions into account.

I’m going to kick things off with a few choice tech items. And then we will proceed with more categories as people chime in.

Here we go!

Techno Gifts for Writers 2011

Kindle Fire

I’m not sure if I can justify an iPad when the Kindle Fire is so much more affordable and practical. What do you think of the Kindle Fire, Full Color 7″ Multi-touch Display, Wi-Fi? Anyone have one?


I’m getting one of these bad boys as a holiday gift. Cannot wait for all of my apps to work again. I’m thinking I will get it in white. Do you have one? What do you think of it?


This is funny because normally I would just auto-default to the Apple product, but Kindle has me saying, “Not so fast!” I am undecided as to whether I would even want an iPad since I want a Kindle Fire and I have plenty of Mac computers, including a desktop and two laptops (not counting our older, half-defunct models). Plus I already have a bunch of Amazon ebooks on the Kindle I got for my birthday last year, which I was thinking of handing down to my daughter. Here is the Amazon page comparing the two. What do you think? I think I’m going to go Kindle Fire on this one…sorry, Apple.


I do not need a new computer right now, because we have plenty. But if I were to recommend one to a fellow writer, I think I’d recommend the MacBook Air. I have a MacBook Pro and the thing is darn heavy. It’s awesome. Just too heavy. So the whole lightweight concept should solve the problem. If you order I suggest an anti-glare screen, the larger size, and the three-year warranty.

iRobot Vacuum

I have this fantasy and it goes like this: I turn on the robot vacuum and leave the room and when I come back in ten minutes the whole room is swept. It’s all very George Jetson, but I could get into it. Just try me. Irobot Roomba 562 Pet Series Vacuum Cleaning Robot

Canon G12

I would like to be able to submit professional-quality photos with my work and have better photos on hand to use for blogging. I like Canon products and this camera has the features I want. It’s also is well-rated by users. Anyone tried it?

Brainstorming Tools for Writers 2011

So, before I launch into this list, let me set the record straight. There is one thing I won’t pay a lot for and that’s paper. Why? Well, for one thing my daughter the budding comic book artist has created a three-inch high stack of comic drafts since September—and those are just those that were good enough to keep. Between the two of us, and despite the hyper-digital age we are living in, the two of us consume quite a bit of paper.

My husband does his part burning through a three-subject notebook each month in order to sort out his thoughts and prepare for his school day. So with all the paper consumption going on around here, you can likely imagine why we like to have special tools for doodling around. Here are some of our favorite products:

Prismacolor Art Markers

These are my personal favorites for doodling. Before you say they are too expensive—they are sold at art supply stores, which often offer 40-50% off coupons on one item that is not on sale, especially at this time of year. These markers are rarely on sale, so they usually qualify for coupon discounts. Or you can buy them at Amazon and get them in the handy case, which is what I have.


My husband is a big Sharpie fan. I like to use black Sharpies to sign books because the ink doesn’t smudge or run. We have two kinds of Sharpies that we use most: fine tip and ultra-fine tip. You can even get them with two tips in one, like the Prismacolors. We usually get our Sharpies at Target or Fred Meyer or any other local store that carries them. I think their motto should be, “You can never own too many Sharpies.” A pack starts at about seven bucks and goes up to about fourteen bucks for fine point and about the same prices for an eight pack of ultra-fine points. But you can get 24 ultra-fines for only fifteen bucks here. I also like the calligraphy markers.

Pilot G2s

I buy these pens by the big multi-color pack at Costco and then buy handfulls of cartridge refill two-packs whenever I see them on sale in an office supply store. Even so, they all eventually disappear. I blame my nine-year-old, and also my husband because I use them until they break and then I toss the pieces.

Newsflash for editors: you can buy the red G2s by the dozen in red ink on Amazon. Okay, that is just the kind of thing that causes me to start geeking out. But what really makes me geek out is that you can do the exact same thing in PURPLE.

Costco does not show the big multi-pack in their online store, but they have good prices on refills. I prefer the fine G2 pens to the ultra-fine G2s because the ultra-fine is too scratchy-feeling for me. I don’t like my pen to scratch, I like it to roll, although this probably costs me in ink in the long run.

One Really Awesome Montblanc Pen

Have you ever had one? I had one once and I would like to have one again. First of all, I wonder if I would like signing books with it. Would the ink smudge? Would it roll better than my G2s? I would love to find out because these are not mere pens, people. These are “writing instruments.” Fancy. And it comes in WHITE so it could match my iPhone. Although it would cost four and a half times as much. But hey, this is the Ultimate Holiday Gift List for Writers so we are allowed to dream big.

JetMax Desktop Carousel

Okay, after all of this talk about pens, your mind might be spinning. But spin this desktop organizer instead. It used to be made by Making Memories but now it seems like it’s distributed by JetMax, so I’m not sure who created the product in the first place. The important part is, I love mine. I love sorting my pens in it once a year and having them stay organized for about, oh, three weeks. What does it matter? The sorter spins around, holds pens, highlighters, scissors, paperclips, erasers—you name it. So even an imperfectly organized person such as myself can feel kinda organized. This is another one of those products that is good to get at your local art supply store, like Michaels, with one of those 50% off coupons you can find in the Sunday paper or on their website. (And now that I’ve seen the photo of the embellishment center, I want that too. I hope they still make it!)


Blogger Colleen Wainwright swears by EverNote software for organizing blog posts and other writing-related projects. I swear one of these days I’m going to try it. In fact, I just downloaded it onto my fast computer so I can give it a whirl (meanwhile I am always working on my slow computer because I still need to transfer everything over to my newer, faster computer which is not even new any longer).

But here’s the thing, I think my brain works just like EverNote for Mac, so does this mean I don’t need it? I’ll report back after I’ve gotten the hang of it. I have some projects in mind that I think it would be perfect for in the New Year.

One-of-a-kind Gifts For Writers 2011

A Trip To The Sylvia Beach Hotel

I was put up at The Sylvia Beach Hotel once when I gave a presentation for the Coast Branch of Willamette Writers.  I wrote about my delight in the place many moons ago back in my old blog. That was a fun trip to a rare and unique writer-centric destination. I hope, if you will be in the Newport, Oregon area, that you will put The Sylvia Beach Hotel on your radar, stop by, and stay a night or two.

A Writer’s Tribute Coffee Table

Hey, every writer should have a coffee table like this one. Rescued from the gutter and totally restored beyond its former glory with writerly inspiration. Check it out. This table is in the Portland area, Oregonians! (At least I think it is, unless it’s in Portland, Maine.) Perhaps it’s not everyone’s taste, but I liked the idea of it, and thought I could help it find a home.

Uneek “Author” and “Literary Character” Dolls

My husband found these adorable literary dolls online. Check out Debbie Ritter’s Collection of hand-crafted dolls, which come in many themes, including authors and literary characters. Here’s what Debbie has to say about her dolls: I personally create and design each tiny miniature from start to finish, including painting each tiny detail of their faces . I love the process of capturing the expression of what I think they are thinking, or what I think shows their personality!

View all Uneek Doll Designs here.

Stocking Stuffers For Writers

Gift Certificate for a Full Body Massage

In an informal poll of my Dream Team students, a full body massage was the most oft-mentioned treat. In fact, while writing this, I am fantasizing about getting a massage from one of my favorite masseuses at the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort & Spa. THIS is the kind of place the writer on your list would love a gift certificate to so he or she can soak her weary typing fingers, relax her busy brain, and melt into a puddle of relaxed goo. And now if you will excuse me, I have to go make a massage reservation…

Apple Wireless Keyboard

One of my Dream Team students uses this keyboard to type into…her iPhone. You heard me right. Why tote your whole laptop around or even your expensive iPad, when you could just carry this keyboard with your phone and still get tons of writing done while sitting in the carpool line or dashing out for a quick coffee?

Movies About Writers & The Writing Life on DVD

Is my husband listening? If I were to get a handful of my favorite movies about writers in my stocking this year, I would want: Midnight In Paris, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Julie & Julia, Freedom Writers (we have it), Under the Tuscan Sun, Riding in Cars with Boys, Isn’t She Great? (one of my faves!), Shakespeare in Love, Bullets Over Broadway, Henry & June, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Sophie’s Choice, Rich and Famous, and The Way We Were. What would you pick?

A Weekend Writer’s Conference

If your Santa can swing a trip to New York City with the gift, I recommend the Writer’s Digest Writer’s Conference. Or Santa can select one in your neck of the woods even if it’s at a future date like, Willamette Writers, the Missouri Writer’s Guild Conference, The Chuckanut Writer’s Conference or Mad Anthony.

Something Your Writer Covets

Is it a new ring? A new pair of boots? A ski trip? A new camera lens? A new laptop (see above)? A mani-pedi? In my humble opinion, whatever your writer wants is exactly what she should get. After all, she works hard all year long, putting in long hours at the keyboard, staving off eye-strain and Carpal Tunnel. So if you really love her, the holidays are your chance to show just how much with the ultimate writer gift that fits your budget.

A Chance To Work With Me

You want to make your writer happy, right? Well, I can tell you from experience that a productive writer is a happy writer. Maybe all your writer really wants is the chance to take a class or join a Dream Team with me. Maybe she has read my old books, Writer Mama and Get Known, ordered my new book, and is ready to put all the things she has read to work. I have known of writers who have put my classes on their wish lists for years before finally letting themselves take one. If this describes your writer, you can make her very happy by telling her on Christmas morning to take her pick of classes or Dream Teams because you fully support her desire to develop her writing abilities. You might think this doesn’t sound very romantic, but trust me, sometimes it’s exactly what a mom is dying to hear.

What’s your ultimate writer gift this year, writers? Chime in!

This is my contribution to well-gifted writers this holiday season. Feel free to pass this list around.

Happy holidays, writers!

~ Photo by alancleaver_2000

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  • Mary Ingmire December 1, 2011, 2:05 am

    I have a 1st generation Nook and am considering an upgrade to the Nook Color or iPad.  The comparison of iPad to Kindle Fire  makes the Kindle a better choice.  And it’s $50 less than the Nook.  But I have a bajillion books on my Nook and don’t think they will transfer to the Kindle.  🙁

  • Anonymous December 1, 2011, 5:36 am

    I know, Mary. That’s so hard. This is the thing about committing to technology brands. They lock the others out, making it tough on the consumer. I think you should do what’s best for you. 🙂

  • C. Leigh Smith December 1, 2011, 12:35 pm

    I am certainly no Luddite, but I can honestly say I’m not dying to have any of the latest gadgets. I work pretty well in my low-tech fashion with a beat-up Toshiba laptop, pens, paper, and middle-aged brain–assuming I have time and don’t have to multitask too heavily. My ultimate holiday writing gift, honestly, would be the gift of peace and quiet and time to write–and, I would hope, the wherewithal to finish the first draft of my novel. Beyond that, the books on my holiday list would be a welcome addition–gotta study and learn from the pros (including you, Christina)! One last note I would add is to just be sure that any CarrierIQ mobile data-logging software, if present on the iPhone, is disabled.

  • Elizabeth Rago December 1, 2011, 8:51 pm

    I will be getting a new iPhone soon too! I am super excited. I agree with your comments about the MacBook. I have one as well and it is a little heavy and would love to get the Air soon…My only concern with getting the white iPhone is, will it get dirty? That’s the crazy mom in me speaking though. I really do love the white option!

    My ultimate gift would be someone to finish my book before my baby is born in January! Oh, and someone to have the baby would be nice too… 🙂 Great list!

  • Terri Forehand December 1, 2011, 10:03 pm

    I have a Nook and am asking for the Kindle Fire, but really what I would love would be my bills paid for 2 months so I could stay home and write. I have projects in my head and notes on the computer but I really need time. In order to capture that time I need to not go to work…I am a night nurse in a NICU. I would love 2 months of regular sleeping hours and regular writing time. I know, too much to ask. Hense I will stick with the techy gifts and keep stealing time away at my computer.

  • Lara Krupicka December 1, 2011, 10:40 pm

    Got the new iPhone 4s a couple of weeks ago (my first smartphone) and I love, love, love it! It has all the features and functionality that I need. So far the camera feature has been the part that has revolutionized things most for me. The voice commands can be handy too (and fun). I bought a black one because the white seemed too plastic looking. I figure I can doll it up with the cute cover I’ve put on my wish list.

    What a great wish list! Can wait the read the rest.

  • Kim Griffin December 2, 2011, 1:24 am

    I have the iPhone 4s in white (with a pink cover just cause it’s girlie) and I love it! Although I’m sure I’m not using it to its fullest potential as far as writing goes! You’ve inspired me to check out more apps My dream,also, is to own the iRobot vacuum. So curious as to whether it works or not, but I am certain that my Jack Russell would attack it : )

    My dream gift would be a greenhouse for the yard, but I may have to settle for a Keurig ~ for the coffee addict in me!

  • Shaun Tabatt December 2, 2011, 2:28 am

    I really see a lot of promise in the Kindle Fire and am excited about it as an affordable, multipurpose e-reader.  I already have an iPad and regular kindle, so I’ll be holding off on the Kindle Fire for now.  Good choice on the iPhone 4S, you’ll love it.  I had an iPhone 3GS and I didn’t think I would notice all that much of a change when I upgraded, but it was well worth it.  Better performance and some interesting new features.  I especially like the front facing camera for skype.  My ultimate gift this year is the LiveScribe pen, which is an interesting balance of the old and new world, allowing you to write on paper, but synchronize it with a tool like Evernote.

  • Susan McNerney December 2, 2011, 11:02 am

    The iRobot can also inhale a finely shredded rejection letter. Very convenient.

  • Breila McValan December 2, 2011, 11:39 pm

    Another option is the Kobo Vox, it has color and nothing is locked either. They also have the Touch which is nice as well

    – A happy Touch owner.

  • Eliana December 3, 2011, 12:20 am

    I have the same irobot vacuuming fantasies…I also love the pen discussion.  Nothing as fun as great writing instruments.

  • Diane J. December 9, 2011, 12:18 pm

    My iPad2 love, love, love it! I was lagging with my writing so I set a goal. All the money I earned from writing would go toward an iPad. It got me back on track with writing and by the time I saved enough for the model I wanted, the iPad 2 was available. I don’t have a smart phone, so maybe that’s why I’m so enamored with it.

    My Wishlist: The Writer’s Workout 🙂
    Conference registration for the PNWA (spendy, but I’m dreaming here – since I bought my iPad my teen has become a Senior and holy smokes the fees for the year!)
    That’s really all I want…well pens and paper are always welcome, too.

    Love the list!

  • Sara Sawatzki December 20, 2011, 3:55 am

    Great list! I was sad the link to the writer’s tribute coffee table didn’t work though. I used to live in Oregon and I had a coffee table that I had carved quotes into and when I left I couldn’t find anyone to buy it so I gave it to a goodwill or something. I always wondered what happened to it! I’d like to think that someone took it on and did something unique with it. Was the table you mentioned in there carved on or what did it look like?

  • Anonymous December 20, 2011, 9:55 am

    Oh, great. Maybe someone purchased it. No this was not carved, it was collaged. An ordinary table transformed by writerly stuff. 🙂