Sunday, November 25, 2007

For Me? Ten

Ten Places to Shop for Writer Gifts
(All prices listed are in US dollars)

1. a reliable, fast and affordable source for used, rare, and OOP books, music and movies; I was impressed by the care the sellers use in packing and shipping some rare books I ordered from here. I don't see a gift card option anywhere so you might ask your writer to put up a wishlist.

2. AlphaSmart: the affordable alternative to laptops for writers; the Neo is $219, and the new wireless Palm-powered Dana starts at $350 (I've never used an AlphaSmart, but a lot of RWA writers swear by them.)

3. Barnes and No writer will ever turn down a bookstore gift card. If you'd also like to support writers who blog, consider buying one of their books. I'm pre-ordering Marjorie M. Liu's The Last Twilight and Rosina Lippi's The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square. I've also heard that this one is a pretty good read, but I'm supposed to be getting some free copies.

4. fine fountain pens and writing supplies; I've been a patron for years and Norman offers a great selection and the best customer service in the business.

5. Levenger: home of everything for the serious reader and writer -- often items you can't find anywhere else. If you can't decide, gift cards especially make us drool because then we have an excuse to look at everything. Check out the latest sales for good bargains.

6. home of Dragon Naturally Speaking, the voice recognition software that I use to write just about everything. Read more about my experiences with the Dragon here.

7. Office Depot: where I buy all of my office supplies; great deals plus they have absolutely everything a working writer needs, and you can order online or locate a store near you. I recommend gift cards, that way your writer can get exactly what they need.

8. Palm Handheld Devices: I've owned three different Palm handhelds over ten years and I've never had a single problem with any of them (and I can't say that about any other data product I've owned.) During the 2004 hurricane season, when we were without power for more than a month, I wrote most of my novel Afterburn on my Palm handheld. I presently use a Tungsten E2 handheld, and my kids are using my older Palm models, which still work great.

9. The Writer magazine: great market listings, decent articles, subscribers get access to their online market database, and their columnists don't write up three-page-long tantrums about PBW. One year subscription $32.95.

10. Thinkmap's Visual Thesaurus: one of my favorite writing tools; must be seen to be appreciated. Buy the desktop edition for $39.95 or subscribe to the online service for $2.95/mo or $14.95/year. You can personally test drive the program at the Thinkmap site, too.

If you're still not sure where to shop for your writer, I recommend purchasing a gift card in any amount to any bookstore. Trust me, we love them.


  1. While I totally agree about Levenger -- even though they don't carry the selection of pens that they used to and that turned me into a collector -- I have to note that Alibris has pulled a bait-and-switch on me twice now -- out of three purchases. And the third book got lost in the mail.

  2. I found the Visual Thesaurus link on your blog, Lynn. It's definitely worth the year subscription cost and I use it all the time. Your subscription also gives you access to their writer blogs and other great articles on their site, which are worth the cost on their own.

    Also, I have a Palm and I bought the DataVis Documents To Go program for it so I can read and edit my MS Office documents from my Palm. It's really easy to use and you don't lose any of your formatting when you sync your documents. Love it!

  3. has been a great resource for me.

  4. I wonder if has a main headquarters/office. I met the owner once at a library book sale--he bought a couple hundred at only ten cents a piece. Talk about making a profit! :)

  5. I've got an Alphasmart 3000, and I absolutely love it! There are no distractions, just a keyboard and a small screen for text. Its great for getting drafts written because the screen only shows four lines of text. You can scroll up and down to see what you've written, but I just use it to get the words down, mistakes and all, then I transfer it to the computer to edit it.

    I'm glad you brought up that Dragon software again.. I might have to look into it (as soon as I get the computer set up in the spare room!).

  6. Lynn --

    I bought an Alphasmart almost 5 years ago when the 3000 model came out and continue to use it to write on the run. It is easy, light to carry, runs on 3 AA batteries (I'm still on the second set of those in 5 years..) and it uploads to my computer quickly. AND, the keyboard is the same size as my fullsize computer so my hands are comfortable....

    I do find that I can't edit on it -- it's not that there are not editing tools, it's that I can't seem to use them. So, I just write my brains out and then move everything to my computer for editing.

    BTW -- I took this all over England with me to take notes while sightseeing and researching and never had to worry about power sources or files....

    An excellent gift for writers (or even students..)

    Terri B

  7. UPS will be delivering my new Palm TX on Thursday and, though I sadly don't get to play with it until after I have managed a "what an awesome surprise!" face on Christmas morning, I'm shopping accessories.

    When your power's out, do you use a car charger or something else? I'm trying to figure out if those boxes that charge your handheld from regular batteries are worth the money.

    In an emergency, I do have an Alphasmart, but I hate using it. It's actually the perfect device---full-size keyboard, runs forever on batteries, downloading to computer's a breeze, no distracting internet and wicked rugged---but the keys are so incredibly stiff I can't type on it. Given a choice between handwriting and Alphie, I grab a legal pad.

  8. sillymagpie7:56 PM

    Did you use a keyboard when you wrote your novel with your Palm handheld?