by Marla White
You know the old song? The one with the partridge and drummers and all that annoying stuff that nobody really wants to get for Christmas? To change it up, I'm going to list twelve gift suggestions for the writer in your life, things they absolutely will want a lot more noisy geese a'laying and a'poopin' all over the place
Is the writer in your life struggling to get their script read? Wear it instead!
Lithographs, a Boston based company, will take the words from any screenplay, poem or book and make it into wearable art.
They print anywhere from 15 - 40,000 words, depending if you chose to print on a t-shirt, infinity scarf, poster, bag, pillow or blanket. You can choose from twelve colors and four fonts to create your masterpiece.
Order SOON to be guaranteed it arrives by Christmas.
The nice thing is you'll also be helping spread the word. "Litographs is committed to promoting literacy, both at home and abroad. Since 2012, we have donated over 200,000 books to communities in need through the International Book Bank. Our favorite place to hang Litographs posters is in classrooms and libraries, and we love working with teachers and librarians to encourage conversations around books."
Of course, you can always take the easy way out and buy your writer the gift of script notes so they can see their work on the 55" screen and not just a pillow!
On the Second Day of Christmas...
Teas to inspire you...
Everyone writes better with a good pot of tea so Simpson & Vail have made a gift box of teas named after literary greats. Maybe some day they'll make a set for screenwriters, but in the meantime brew up a cup of Edgar Allan Poe's Black Tea Blend or Louisa May Alcott's Green Tea Blend and think of the movie adaptations you could write!
"Enjoy a sampling of ten of the most popular teas in our literary line! Our literary (author) teas have been very popular since they were introduced in the Fall of 2015 and we add two new authors every year.
This gift box features the following authors in the line: Louisa May Alcott, Maya Angelou, Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, Edgar Allan Poe, Beatrix Potter, William Shakespeare and Walt Whitman.
Each package makes approximately 6-10 cups of tea and is labeled with a colorful Literary label that lists the ingredients and brewing information for each tea.
Packaged in a lovely black gift box, lined with an elegant black and white floral patterned tissue, and sealed with a decorative label, this author collection is perfect for you and your literary tea friends."
They also carry a wide assortment of other teas to choose from.
Who Needs 3 French Hens?
The cure you need way more than a chicken.
Does anyone even know what a French Hen is? Nonetheless why you need three of them? But what every writer will need at some point though is a cure for writer's block. Here it is in a delightful soap or candle form! Will it work? Can't hurt!
Because everyone can use is a good laugh, and the folks at the Whiskey River Soap company are happy to provide it. From their website: "All product ideas are conceived in a now-defunct underground military training facility in an undisclosed location and transmitted via (low sodium) soup can to our brand-new, state-of-the-art, mid-century-modern-but-not-totally-IKEA offices in like Burbank or Dubuque. Somewhere like that."
Or, you could buy the gift of script notes or one-on-one coaching for excellent advice on how to hone your voice and make your script jump to the top of the pile. Buy any of my services now and cash in when you need them most!
Calling Birds, Or Calls From an Agent?
A Writing Tool for Any Writer
While the website and demo video (below) talk more about writing novels, Scrivener is a great tool for screenplays, manuscripts, articles and poems. Any kind of writing, really. It keeps your research at your fingertips and lets you write the way you want. Pantser or Plotter, you can create the outline first or vomit your word count on the page and organize it later.
Neil Cross (LUTHER; DOCTOR WHO; HARD SUN) says, "The last few years have seen the appearance of several OS X applications designed for the use of writers. Many of these applications are very good, but every one is in some way lacking. I've tried them all, and none has been more than a temporary home; a good place to stay until something better came along. And guess what? It finally did. Scrivener incorporates and improves the best aspects of its progenitors and, in doing so, exceeds them all. As a writer's application, Scrivener is damn near perfect; it means outlines, treatments and then first drafts can be put together in the same application."
The best part for gift givers? It comes with a 30 day free trial so the object of your affection can see if they like it before you have to shell out any money. Happy Holidays all around!
5 Golden Rings Would be Pretty Cool...
But if you can't swing gold, how about tranquility?
Stress is rampant among anyone who is human these days. The holiday season, with its messages of joy and good cheer can be particularly brutal as you race around to get gifts, lose 10 pounds by Friday to fit into that party dress and see you Lyft rates climb. Writers often compound that stress with feelings of failure for not finishing that feature script, TV pilot or Great American Novel they've been meaning to write.
While it's easy to reach for that box of wine as your go to stress reducer, as a gift you should try to the far classier solution of a sound bath.
If you've never been to one, treat yourself and go with the person you're giving it as a gift. It's an ancient way of meditating while a specially trained person plays a series of notes and tones on metal and crystal bowls. Per this Washington Post article, it's been "scientifically linked to reductions in stress and anxiety." To get more info, go here to read the whole article.
I recently participated in an incredible sound bath/reiki combo at Planet Namaste in Burbank and can honestly say it left me feeling completely relaxed and rested. The best part? If you live in LA they do it the first Friday of every month on a donation basis so anyone can afford it. Just remember karma's a bitch if you cheap out on these ladies offering this amazing experience.
No matter where you live, just Google "sound baths near me" and you'll be sure to find one.
On the 6th Day - Omelettes!
If there's one book every writer needs, it's this one
In my career as a development exec, producer and consultant, I've read a lot of really bad scripts. There's nothing to be done to fix them.
MOST of the scripts I've read, however, show potential and promise. The writer just needs more guidance and structure and no, haters, that's not to say they need to be formulaic.
There are just some rules of great writing that are as undeniable as gravity, water is wet, and things on the stove are hot. That's why as a young exec I would get frustrated for our writers when The Powers That Be would simply shrug their shoulders at a draft and say "Make it better." (Seriously, that happened.)
Then I read the book that changed my perspective forever - John Truby's "The Anatomy of Story." Just as the textbook "Gray's Anatomy" (yes, there really is a book, not just a series but it's not the same, trust me) outlines the parts of the body and how they all work together, Truby's book lays out the foundation of what any story - book, film or TV - needs to come to life.
As Amazon describes it, "Truby's method for constructing a story is at once insightful and practical, focusing on the hero's moral and emotional growth. As a result, writers will dig deep within and explore their own values and world views in order to create an effective story."
Warning: this book is not for the hobbyist or the writer who has already written a screenplay and is looking for validation. Be prepared to burn it all down and start from scratch. This is dense material that you'll have to read over an over again and then refer back to as you write. It will also open your eyes to concepts you knew, but couldn't articulate and put to practice.
Future audiences who are about to get some great stories told because of this book - you're welcome.
7 Swans - really?
Go local and unique with a traditional gift
Going the more traditional route today with a gift everyone gives someone when they're strapped for an idea of what to give. Wine.
But not just any wine. I'm going to let you in on a not so big secret - a terrific local (to LA) winery - San Antonio Winery.
I'm not going to turn this into a wine blog - althought if someone out there wants a wine blog let me know, I'm happy to do so! - but I've been to a lot of wineries in Napa, Paso Robles and Santa Maria and for great, affordable wines San Antonio takes the cake. Or the cask, as it were. Although full disclosure, some of the wineries in the Santa Maria area like the Presqu'ile Winery have tasting rooms with gorgeous views, delicious food and cozy fire pits that are hard to top.
Back to San Antonio, There simply isn't a way for you to go wrong with their wines. Red or white, they have never let me down. Not any of the wines they make here, anyway. (Technically Stella Rosa is part of the San Antonio family but it's made in Italy and it's the only wine they carry that I'm not a big fan of.)
My personal favorite is Opaque aka "The Darkness" and not just because of its bad ass name. It's a red wine that's not too heavy and not too fruity. There's also the Maddalena Chardonnay, named after the winery's matriarch, if you prefer white. They are also the only California winery who grandfathered in and are allowed to label their sparkling wine as champagne despite not being made in France.
Give the gift of a bottle (some are available at local grocery stores) or the experience of a wine tasting at any number of their locations.
On the 8th Day...
Who needs milkmaids if you don't have a cow?
Here's a truly unique idea for anyone - a portrait done by local artist Suz Steel-Roehl. Below are a few samples of the many paintings she's done, but you can see the beauty and sense of humor she can imbue in her work. Just send her a photo of your pet, loved one, landscape or wildlife still and she'll create a beautiful water color painting on whatever scale you desire. She also has prints or sets of cards available of paintings she's already done. Contact her right away! She probably can't get it done by Christmas since art - like writing - can't be cranked out like a machine, but she'll be too booked up to take on new clients soon so get in while the getting's good!
Ladies (and Gents) Wait No More!
Because just like people get more results at the gym when they set up a specific time to work with a trainer, any writer will get more quality work done when they've scheduled time with an expert to give them feedback based on years of experience. Whether it's coming up with a pitch, formulating an outline, writing your pilot or polishing a staffing writing sample, there's no better time than NOW to get started.
I'm offering coaching programs to help writers meet and exceed their goals for their careers. Script notes and coverage are great, but if you really want to get results consider a more intense coaching program. For one month of coaching, I'll guid whatever project you're working on with two sets of notes and two meetings, either in person or via phone or Skype. The notes and meetings will tie directly into deadlines we'll set to ensure you stay committed and achieve the results you're looking for. I'll also be available throughout the month for quick check-ins or questions via e-mail and a phone follow-up, with a promise of no more than a 24-hour wait. At the end of the month, we'll come up with an action plan to guide you on your next steps of where to go from there.
If you sign up for one month of coaching before January 15th, you'll get the holiday special price of $100 off (prices vary depending on the project). Contact me to discuss this fantastic opportunity before I get booked up!
On the Tenth Day...
Lords are Leaping to get gifts on time!
It was so damn tempting to have today's gift be from the 10th Doctor, the leaping Time Lord who holds a special place in my Whovian heart, but I went with something with a broader appeal instead.
Astrology! Face it, no matter how much we say we don't believe in it, we all know what sign we are, am I right? For anyone looking for a little science to back it up, just as seeds only grow in certain seasons so it goes with people. At least that's what my psychic told me.
They've got pencils, journals, and candles personalized for each sign. Get the writer in your life pencils in their sign to go OG for their next script. There's even one pencil written backwards so you can feature it in a selfie!
NOTE: THEY CAN'T GUARANTEE DELIVERY BY CHRISTMAS SO JUMP ON IT NOW IF YOU WANT A SHOT AT HAVING SOMETHING UNDER THE TREE.
It's another fun, whimsical gift from the Whiskey River Soap Co. "Admittedly, we're a little obsessed with astrology so we want to impress you with our VAST expertise. For instance: Take a selfie? Leo. Say random things? Sagittarius. Wear a lot of leather? Scorpio. Trust me on this. We've got your number."
Eleven Pipers - Because One Wasn't Enough?
The Power of Words and Shopping Choices
While pipers are fairly useless for almost everyone, The Power of Words Love Bottle is an excellent gift for the writer in all of us. Get your daily affirmations of Belief, Love or Healing from a cool old-timey looking bottle made from recycled, nontoxic glass. It's leak proof, scratch resistant and dishwasher safe. Plus it will look hella lot better on your desk than that old plastic SmartWater bottle you keep re-filling, not to mention a lot less germy.
Found on Earthhero.com, where you'll also find reusable sporks, straws and utensils as well as clothing, audio & tech and even pet products made with sustainable materials. You name it, they've got it!
As their website says, "Your purchases matter. Every time you buy something, you support the company who made it." So stop signing petitions and start creating change with every purchase.
So much better than a bunch of drummers
What's the tie in to writers? Some of the Inn's most spectacular suites are on their famous Author's Row! Luminaries who have stayed there include John Steinbeck, Anne Cameron and of course Anne Rice. The luxurious Amistad Suite was renamed after the author allegedly wrote part of the Vampire Diaries during her stay there. (Or sort of co-named really since it goes by both names.) She absolutely was inspired to write "Angel Time" while at the Inn.
And cupcakes. Did I mention Casey's Cupcakes? To. Die. For.
So go see the lights, stay the night and when your movie is a huge hit maybe they'll name a room after you too!