The Emporium Gazette
Issue 56 -- December 2003

Writer Sugar Plums or
No Fruitcake This Year

by Bob Nailor

The holiday season is upon us and the main question on everyone's lips is: Whatever do I get Uncle Harry, or even Aunt Julie?

If Harry or Julie happen to be a writer, here are some handy-dandy little tools that person may find useful. If you happen to be that writer, just plant this article where it can be noticed.

The obvious and often overlooked items which can help a writer are: postage stamps, manila envelopes, long white business envelopes, pencils, red ink pens, that always useful printer ink, quality printer paper, floppy and/or CD discs, and file folders.

Most of the above mentioned items fall into the low cost budget, approximately $1.00 to $12.00, suitable for children, or those on a limited income, to give.

There are other gifts that can be even more useful.

File cabinets. Not often considered, but are very useful for the writer to store information.

Book Shelves. Books need to be accessible for research. This will line them up nicely.

Small Handheld Tape Recorders. Writers tend to think of plots and ideas at very unusual times. This item will allow them to make those notes quickly. It can also be used to just dictate the article or story for later typing.

Palm Pilot. Again, useful for making notes, but are definitely a bit more pricey. There are many options that can be added to assist, such as an expandable keyboard for entry. This item can be used to handle addresses of publishers, when and where articles were sent, plus allow entry of information on a story or article.

New Printer. For the serious writer, these tend to wear out quickly over time, mis-feed, or blotch the document that was needed to be in the mail ten minutes ago.

Word Processing Software. Writing is okay, pounding on a typewriter is passe. A computer is the writer's best bet. There are many different word processors available.

New Computer. New software means updating the computer. Desktop models are good; a laptop is mobile.

Flat Panel Monitors. Space is critical for a writer.  The flat panel monitors take up less desk space and seem to be easier on the eyes. If the computer is good, an updated monitor will help. Please don't confuse this with a flat screen monitor.

Keyboard. An ergonomic keyboard can be a lifesaver to a writer, but before purchasing, it would be advisable to check if the writer is comfortable with it.

Subscription (at least one year's worth) to a writing magazine. There are many on the market. Just be sure it is for the genre that the writer works in, or something very generic.

Desk with drawers. A writer needs a space of his/her own and a place to keep his/her files organized while doing research. The dining room table is truly an awkward place to work.

Writing software. This is the uniquely designed program directed at the writer. These will help the writer organize and track different articles, stories, or plots.

The above items will range from $20.00 to over $1,000.00.

So, this holiday season, think of the writer, not the person. Trust me, Uncle Harry has enough ties and Aunt Julie is tired of aprons, and nobody wants the fruitcake that they sent you last year, either.

Bob Nailor is author of "The Secret Voice," an Amish-Christian story, "Pangaea, Eden Lost," an adventure story, "Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold," a Celtic fantasy, and "2012: Timeline Apocalypse," an end-of-time tale. He is also included in several anthologies and collections. Check his website at

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