Was Santa Nice to Your Muse?

December 30, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Gadgets and Good Stuff | 21 Comments
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By now, you’ve unwrapped all your Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa gifts, played with all the cool stuff, and braved the Russian-bread-line return areas in your local mall to get store credit for those gifts that missed the mark. So, let’s take stock of the leftover booty (not to be confused with the ever-expanding booty from eating holiday dinner leftovers).

Did your family and friends stick to your meticulously prepared wish list? Did you receive a stack of gift cards, so you can choose your own gifts? Or did they shop from the heart and buy you a light-up globe/music box/ decorative plate combo thingy covered with airbrush-painted ceramic and glass dolphins because you once mentioned you like dolphins?

For Christmas ’07, my Danish Prince (aka, Santa) gave me a MacBook Pro (my favorite writing-related Christmas gift, ever) which I dearly love—both the prince and the laptop. I just have to say, if you’re in the market for a new computer in 2010, or want to put it on your wish list for next Christmas, I highly recommend an iMac and/or MacBook Pro. They are definitely worth the investment.

This year, my Wonderboy (aka, The Elf) gave me a gift certificate to Brighton. And he checked off a practical item on my wish list: a backup battery for my MacBook Pro—for those extra long hours I’ll be sitting in the sand on Hollywood Beach while I compose my next great American novelty. And, to help remind me to actually move during the day (so my computer-chair-shaped ass is bikini worthy), The Elf also gifted me with a BodyBugg digital display—another practical, wish list item. It’s a great motivation tool to be able to see how many calories you’ve burned (or not) during the day.

Hubby calls me Gadget Girl, and I have to admit, I do love my tech toys, but I took two of the hottest Christmas must-haves OFF the list he made for me for this year: the iPhone and the Kindle DX. I’m at home on the computer too much for the iPhone to be useful. And I want to wait to see who comes up with the best eReader. Call me skeptical, but I’m not an early adopter who got stuck with Beta instead of VHS. So, Santa, knowing me like he does, gifted me with a Nikon Coolpix s70. Now, I can capture great pictures at events, book fairs and signings, writing conferences, etc., without lugging a chunky camera around like a Disneyland tourist. And, as a bonus, it’ll be easier to take spontaneous snaps when I’m around the house.

My gifts this year weren’t as “writerly” as they have been in previous years, but I did receive a pretty Vera Bradley pen and pencil set from one sister-in-law. My other sister-in-law gave me a gorgeous pair of Brighton silver earrings—not at all writerly, but what girly-girl doesn’t love jewelry?!

And, as a special gift for my muse, I bought a book to tickle her creative fancy: Taking Flight: Inspiration and Techniques To Give Your Creative Spirit Wings. I’ve always wanted to try mixed media and collage art, so I thought I’d indulge my latent artistic desires. Yes, this is my new “Hey, what’s that shiny thing over there?!” writing distraction.

But even more than being a gadget girl, I’m a bibliophile and information junkie, so I’m eagerly awaiting my best gift of all: the Writer’s Digest $50 gift certificate from my honorable mention in the life stories category of WD‘s 2009 Self-Published Book Awards. The notification email said it would be sent out “toward the end of the year”—so, hey, that’s tomorrow, right Jessica?

I’ve already chosen the books I want:
The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters by Karl Iglesias (Because who doesn’t like reading tips from multimillion-dollar writers?)
On Writing Horror by Mort Castle (Because everyone has that one coronary-scary story they want to tell)
On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels (Because it’s the best genre for writing fog-your-eyeballs sex scenes, and combined with the horror-writing techniques, I can write about my dating experiences)
Bullies, Bastards, & Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Morrell (Because I think I exhausted all the personality traits of my exes and exBFFs in my book The Break-Up Diet:A Memoir)

Maybe it’s a Gemini curse, but there are far too many interesting things to learn and try and pursue and experience and do. I guess it’s good I have another 40+ years to try it all!


Ok, dear readers, it’s time for you to join the show and tell. What are your favorite writing-related, practical or muse-inspiring gifts? Share the details of gifts you’ve received and/or gifts you gave to yourself (or your favorite writer).


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  1. I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I’m quite certain I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  2. Great blog, Annette. Wow, you definitely cleaned up for Christmas, especially with the Mac. A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a MacBook and a HP all-in-one to get really going my writing and now I’m all about Mac. LOVE the Apple!

    Yesterday I treated myself to a trip to Barnes & Noble for some magazines, including a food-related one I’m thinking about subbing to, and a book. I totally forgot that B&N was in the middle of their after-Christmas sale, so with the B&N sale and member discount, and the gift card I got for my long-past birthday, I made a killing!

    Happy New Year!

    • Jill – The laptop was from 2007. This year, my son bought a backup battery for it, so I can spend extra time with it on the beach. 😀 I hear ya. Once you go Mac, you never go back! You couldn’t pay me to own a PC. LOL I love B&N, too. I can spend HOURS in there. Angela and I spent 4 hours chatting and book browsing a few weeks ago. Congrats on the great deals. That’s THE BEST! Finding cute shoes on sale is a close second. 😉

  3. I got a couple gift certificates to Sears which I just found out can be used for books! Books, the things that are taking over my house, yet I never have enough of around. Best writer gift I ever gave was to a Portuguese contractor here. He was in my place trying to fix something and saw my picture next to an article I wrote. He asked me about it & then got all excited because his son just graduated from a European university with a journalism degree and with no clue what his next step should be. I gave the dad a bunch of my writer magazines and wrote down some websites for the son and after that, the dad was always at my house in a flash when I had a housing issue. I was so sad when he moved because now no one cares if I have a plumbing problem 😉

    • Krysten – I can totally relate. My to-be-read pile got so tall and unstable that I had to break it into different piles. Now the piles look like a neighborhood in NYC. LOL Your story about the contractor’s son sounds like Jodi’s. That’s one thing so cool about writers, we’re always helping other aspiring writers get started. =)

  4. Heiddi – Those Snuggies look nice and toasty. I’m always freezing, so if it gets any colder before I move to FL, I’m getting one! I’ve always loved different perfumes, but it’s not something other people could choose for me, and now, because my hubby is scent sensitive, I can only wear one fragrance—the one I was wearing when he met me (Classique by Jean Paul Gaultier). I think your kiddo knows you are a star—and especially to him! Maybe by next Christmas, your freelance writing income can pay for that Jornada!

  5. Glad to read your post, Annette. Looks like Santa and the Elf were very good to you this year (give them my best1). This year the best (sorta writing related) gift I got was the snuggie from my sister “to relax on Sunday afternoons.” It’s nice and warm and comfy. Maybe it will lead to inspired writing or great napping. lol Other than that, I receive alot of perfume. I got a giant coffee mug from a friend so that’ll go to the day job. Kiddo gave me a silver choker necklace with a star charm. Maybe he’s trying to tell me I’m a star or he just wanted to get me something shiny. lol I’m working on getting myself a writing class for 2010. I don’t have much by the way of a wishlist. But I know I want HP Jornada – a nice little gizmo that fits in your purse and has a stylus. lol Maybe next Christmas Santa will hook me up or I get a fat bonus from the day job. lol

  6. My kind husband gifted me with a new flat-screen computer monitor – and gave it to me in November so I could use it as I finished up NaNoWriMo.

    On Christmas morning, I received a large stash of books from both my husband and my mom. They were all from my Amazon wish list, ranging from fiction to humor to cookbooks. My to-read shelf is now overflowing to a stack on the floor!

    • Beth – That flat-screen monitor sounds like HEAVEN! I’d love to be able to sit across the room from the screen and type big ol’ text from a comfy spot on the couch! LOL That’s awesome he gave it to you during NaNo! I want to try NaNo next year (and maybe use my MacSpeech Dictate software). Amazon wish lists are great. I have a books and a few product things on mine (like a really cool umbrella with caricatures of famous women writers on it), but aside from my son, most of my family wouldn’t know how to find my page. LOL

  7. I asked the Beneficent Mr. Hall to bring me a photo printer…I make these crafty things (yeah, I’m not busting out with craftiness, but I can bust out super simple children’s stuff)and have to take pics to send out to magazines. I don’t know why I didn’t get this gadget sooner!

    And I’m using my gift money stash to get another laptop (youngest son took my last one off to college)so I can catch up on email and such wherever I am (mostly in front of TV watching football games).

    Oh, and the Beneficent Mr. Hall also gave me a VERY nice planner because I am all about the writing goals (and making a list and checking it twice!)

    Happy New Year, Annette. You’re gonna love the Sunny South in 2010!

    • Cathy – That’s so cool that you have a photo printer to get pics of your craftiness for freelancing. I have a garage full of supplies for all my start-and-stop craft adventures: jewelry beading, knitting, scrapbooking, acrylic painting, bellydance costume making, etc., but I think most of it will be garage-sale fodder before we move. if you’re looking for an awesome laptop, test drive a MacBook (so awesome). Planners are great for Christmas because that gives you a week to prep for the New Year! I’m already plotting my 2010 goals. =) Have a happy New Year, too!

  8. The only bookstore within 45 minutes of my home(yes, cry for me)is closing by Jan. 31 so all the books are marked down. My family took this as a sign and instead of the one or two books I usually receive I got SEVEN books from the family and one from a friend. But my favorite would have to be a funky looking journal(same bookstore according to my daughter–40% off). I guess I wouldn’t stop talking about Lynn Goodwin’s journaling book from the WOW tours so now I find myself with an empty journal to fill.

    I also gave myself a ‘gift’. I bought my domain name and I’m finally starting a blog after talking about it since the summer.

    The best gift I ever gave a writer was my copy of Writer’s Market. Each November our local paper runs the names/addresses of local people in the military who won’t be home for Christmas. I always send out cards and one year the kid wrote back because he was a writer for the military. Mostly “40,000 soldiers enjoy Thanksgiving turkeys” and “Gary Sinise band entertains troops” for the military version of AP. He came home in August for a two week leave and came to visit me twice. He was SO young. He wanted to talk all about writing and how he could break in after he left the military(he took notes!). So on the last day before he left to go back when he was leaving myhouse I grabbed my Writer’s Digest and gave it to him. He lives in Louisiana now–civilian.

    • Jodi – What a great story about the young writer/soldier! Sounds like there is a short story in there somewhere, perfect for a Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul-type military anthology…

      Congrats on taking the step to gift yourself with your domain name and blog. You’re going to have a fun 2010 playing with it!

  9. ROTFL @ the pic. (I think I sorta felt that way for awhile this lovely Holiday season.)

    I have that book “Bullies, Bastards and Bitches”! I got it to help me with my thriller. It’s great. =)

    Oddly, I got no muse gifts. I’m not impressed. I put them on my list but my Elf thought I’d prefer something from Victoria’s Secret and gave me a eGift Certificate instead. =o|

    What I’d really like is a mentor/class on marketing so I can get my books out there.

    Other than that…uhm…having some extra writing time would be nice. I’m not sure there’s a gadget for that though. I wish there was. LOL!

    BTW: Screenwriting: Insider Tips and Techiniques to Write for the Silver Screen” by Madeline DiMaggio and “The Screenwriting Formula: Why It Works and How To Use It,” by Rob Tobin are good starter books (for those interested in Screenwriting but not sure about where to start.)

    As always…love your blog, Annette. You ROCK!!!

    Chynna xo

    • Chynna – Thanks for the kind words. =) A writing time gadget would be great—if one existed. I need a writing-focus shock collar; I get too easily distracted.

      I’m glad the BBB book is a good one! I think maybe your V Secret eCertificate was a dual purpose gift—something pretty for you and a “wrapper” for your husband. 😉

  10. My favorite was an online newsletter class from my hubby a few years ago, and i always get loads of bookstore giftcards! On the giving front, I gave my nephew Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress, and this year I gave my critique group Starbucks giftcards.

    • Lisa – You can never go wrong with Starbucks! I’m not a coffee drinker, but Angela (WOW) let me try her Chai tea—OMG! I’m sooo hooked. I love bookstore gift cards. And especially Amazon cards. You can get ANYTHING on there. As a joke, I once typed in “kitchen sink” and you can actually buy one on Amazon! LOL I’ll have to check out Nancy Kress’ book. I’ve heard of it, but never read it.

  11. Annette, that picture, my gawd. Too funny.

    I received a writing book that I asked for: Naked, Drunk & Writing: Writing Essays and Memoirs for Love and for Money, by Adair Lara. After reading some of Lara’s award winning columns, I thought she’d be able to offer some good advice. 😉

    Happy soon-to-be New Year to you!

    • Marcia – How is it so far? It sounds like it would have great humor. You’ll have to let me know what you think of it. And Happy New Year to you!

  12. Hi Annette,

    The dentist I work for gave me a very nice bonus this year. I bought an HP combination printer/scanner/copier. I just set it up today. Yay!!!!

    • Ruth – I have a Canon ink jet all-in-one (all-in-ones are great!) and an HP color laser printer. I love them both. Is your HP the one with the negative scanner? I saw HP has one that has a special function that can scan old film negatives into digital picture files! I think that would be sooo cool. I have a bin full of printed pictures and negatives from back in the day that I would love to preserve.

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