What Writers REALLY Want for the Holidays

When I thought about doing a ‘gifts for writers’ post, I almost dismissed the idea because I feel like I’ve seen so many of them out there. I’ve curated a couple myself, for Valentine’s Day and whatnot, and eventually you see the same old items listed over and over. Book candles. Coffee warmers. Book chocolates. Wrist warmers. It’s all great stuff, but how many of us really want those things the most? (And how many of us don’t already have a bunch of them?)

So I decided to email some writers and ask them for their answers. What do you REALLY want for the holidays this year? No restrictions on types of answers. Hopefully just a decent collection of things that real-life writers really, actually want.                                                                     

What I didn’t see coming was how much my own wishlist would grow by the time I got all of these answers. Here’s hoping that yours grows too, or if you’re shopping for a writer, that you find a few new ideas within.

"What do I really want for the holidays? I want my girl Allison Laakko to discover my obsessive rare-horror-paperback searches online and find a way to get me Conjuring Up Philip so I don't feel insane spending hundreds of dollars on a paperback that I have no idea if it's good or not. I wouldn't blame her for thinking the book exists somewhere in my office, but it doesn't!

I also hope (dearly) that the movie version of Bird Box causes at least one person, one viewer, to kinda look over their shoulder as they leave the kitchen table to, say, use the restroom. Look over their shoulder and notice the drapes aren't fully covering the window in the living room. And that they should be, the windows should be completely blocked off. Oh how I want this person to actually go to close the drapes while telling themselves it's only a movie, that nothing incomprehensible and madness-inducing is lurking just outside their holiday party.
Or is it?" —Josh Malerman, author of Black Mad Wheel


"It's gotten to the point where my spouse has banned me from purchasing any more books until I finish some of the ones I already own. However, she can't ban other people from buying me books. Here is my ongoing wishlist that I keep on Amazon. Hooray for loopholes!" —Max Booth III, author of Carnivorous Lunar Activities 


“More time to write, more time to spend with my fellow writers, and a terminator that's been converted into a nanny for tireless 24/7 baby assistance.” —Alex Langley, @rocketllama, author of Make A Nerdy Living


"If I was a person solely concerned with the now, I'd want my cold cured. Despite this and other challenges, I remain forward thinking. My holiday wish is for folks to increase their use and support of independent bookstores and libraries. And no pudding for the people who are showrooming bookstores. Santa knows. Santa always knows..." —Paul Tremblay, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World


“A pair of prescription computer glasses with tinted lenses to reduce eye strain.” —Therese Walsh, author of The Moon Sisters


“I'd like to ask for three clones of myself. One would do nothing but handle e-mail and social media; one would be responsible for housekeeping and caregiving duties; and one would work my exhausting shifts at an insanely busy bookstore (and trust me, such things exist!). That would leave me (Clone Source) to actually have time to write. Thanks in advance, Santa Clone!” —Lisa Morton, six-time Bram Stoker Award-winner and co-editor (with Leslie Klinger) of the forthcoming anthology Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense (February, Pegasus Books)

“I drool over this typewriter-inspired Bluetooth mechanical keyboard literally every time I look at it. It’s well over the price range my friends and family maintain for Christmas gifts, but if I could get just one thing, it’d be this (or, you know, getting my debt paid off).” —Christopher Shultz, fiction writer, freelancer, and fellow LitReactor contributor


“What do writers really want? What do I want? A few things. More time to write. For my muse to give it up a little easier these days. For the wisdom to see the path I need to go down to write truly special stories. I'd love to see the 'professional pay rate' for fiction go up to at least ten cents per word. A 5,000-word story for $500? That's decent. I mean, 25 cents a word would be better, but at the current rates of 5 cents a word, $250 for a 5,000-word story just isn't what it used to be. At the same time, I'd like to harpoon a few white whales. I've been lucky enough to get into Cemetery Dance twice, but there are so many other markets that have eluded me—Nightmare, Clarkesworld, F&SF, Apex, Black Static, Lamplight, The Dark, Lightspeed, Shock Totem, etc. Beyond that? I'd love for all of my students to have that epiphany that pulls it all together, for them to find the confidence to believe in their work, and proof from editors (such as an acceptance) that shows them that they are doing special work. I'm lucky to be a part of an excellent community of authors, so many talented people. Let's keep working together—a high tide raises all ships. Good luck!” —Richard Thomas, author of the Thriller-nominated novel, Breaker


"Time. Always time. Or, more practically, the ability to multi-task efficiently." —Gemma Files, Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of Experimental Film


“I have been super good this year (as far as any of you know), and my writer self really wants a tattoo gift card for some fresh literary ink. Book tattoos are the gift that lasts forever! Or, a new fountain pen or snazzy journal are always delightful.” —Sarah Read, author of The Bone Weaver's Orchard


“Creative discipline. That's my goal for 2019 and a gift that if anyone wants to drone lift from Amazon, I'd by happy to accept.

I've got work ethic in spades. I've got the ability to hunker down at a keyboard for hours. I've got the chops to fight for every book sold. What I don't have yet, the missing puzzle piece, is creative discipline to make my nose at the grindstone work optimally productive. For a long time, I wanted to believe that was an oxymoron. But for 2019, I really am going to wrestle that wild muse into submission. Fewer drafts. Quicker turnaround. This digital world demands it.” —Russ Linton, author of thrilling superhero adventures set in the Crimson Son Universe

A big thank you to all of the wonderful writers who took time to answer my question and share their hearts’ desires. Fingers crossed that Santa (or Krampus or whoever tf) brings you exactly what you want this year.

Writers reading, what do YOU want for the holidays this year?

Annie Neugebauer

Column by Annie Neugebauer

Annie Neugebauer likes to make things as challenging as possible for herself by writing horror, poetry, literary, and speculative fiction—often blended together in ways ye olde publishing gods have strictly forbidden. She’s a two-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated author with work appearing and forthcoming in more than a hundred publications, including magazines such as Cemetery Dance, Apex, and Black Static, as well as anthologies such as Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volumes 3 & 4 and #1 Amazon bestsellers Killing It Softly and Fire. She’s an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and in addition to LitReactor, a columnist for Writer Unboxed. She’s represented by Alec Shane of Writers House. She needs to make new friends because her current ones are tired of hearing about House of Leaves. You can visit her at AnnieNeugebauer.com for news, poems, organizational tools for writers, and more.

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