Last year after Christmas, I talked about all the wonderful books I got as gifts for Christmas. Last time I managed to do this within a few days of Christmas… but I was on a blog-free binge for the holidays this year. Still, I wanted to talk about some of the things I got this year, because they’re very exciting!
But that’s not the half of it. Somehow, Dear Wife was also aware that although the author, Brandon Sanderson, would not be visiting our own neck of the woods any time soon, he would in fact be stopping on book tour near her old stomping ground, where her parents still live. And so, my Dear, blessed, wonderful Wife somehow convinces her father to stand in line at a bookstore near him for something on the order of two hours to get a copy of this book signed.
And thus it was signed. To me. With a message wishing me good luck with my writing. And I have photographic evidence. Behold:
It reads “For Stephen – Keep writing! You can do it!” Now, I know that Mr. Sanderson doesn’t know me from Adam, but still, the sentiment was very cool. And even if Sanderson doesn’t really know me enought to care whether I succeed or fail at writing, the signed book is in its way a wondeful way to motivate me to keep working towards that goal.
But wait! There’s more! It’s also signed by Harriet McDougal, the widow and editor of series author Robert Jordan, and still a third signature by who I am told is Robert Jordan’s daughter (but I’ve been unable to independently confirm this; in fact my attempts to verify it suggest rather that this signature may belong to Melissa Craib the founder of the Wheel of Time fan community called Tar Valon.net). A cool gift? You bet!
But Dear Wife wasn’t done with me, yet. She also knows well that I carry around with me, nearly everywhere that I go, a small notebook in which I record ideas and thougts for stories as the occur to me. I’ve filled several of these over the years, and the current edition is a spiral-bound Mead Five-Star notebook that’s about a third full. Apparently, Dear Wife believes that my thoughts are worth more than mere spiral-binding, because her next gift was a fabulous-looking hand-tooled leather-bound journal book featuring an image of the Tree of Life embossed on the cover. What’s more, this fabulous leather-binding is interchangeable: once the notebook is filled, I can purchase replacement notebooks to slip into the leather cover. Very soon… I’ll be taking my notes in real style. As you can see, this thing is a real beauty.
I’m still contemplating how I want to use this, actually. My current notebook, as I said, is only a third full. But I really want to start using this awesome notebook. Still… I don’t want to leave off in my current notebook with so many pages empty. That’s not an efficient use of space. So I’ve toyed with the idea of starting something tangential in this book – like perhaps a narrated history of the world of my long-gestating novel. Or… I’ll just wait until I fill my current notebook and then make the switch. I’m just not sure yet.
I also got a couple more book-and-writing related gifts from family that I thought I’d share: one is The Writer’s Digest Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy, a book that’s kind of a mash-up of Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy and Terry Brooks’ The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference – at least if the Amazon description is to be believed. I perused the table of contents, and it looks to be a rather interesting guidebook. Many of the suggestions and details are things I’d already thought a lot about (being afflicted, as I am, with Worldbuilder’s disease) but there were some ideas in there that I hadn’t considered noted in the table of contents that I’ll have to peruse more carefully. Regardless, this is a handsome book that I look forward to delving into (after I get more time to read and write, again, after graduation). It looks pretty useful, and fun to read, besides.
Finally, I also got another writing book, The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction by Philip Athans. Content-wise, there’s a lot of overlap with the Writer’s Digest guide book. But this book also includes two features that make it useful in its own right, I think. The first is a section on the business-side of writing fantasy and science fiction for a living. It’s not a long section (and probably therefore not a deep section) but I hope to find some useful advice for an aspiring speculative fiction author there. The second is a short story by R. A. Salvatore, of Drizzt fame. This story’s not a Drizzt story (I’ve sneaked enough of a peak to know that), and it’s included as an example of something a little more “non-traditional” in the fantasy and science-fiction genres. Which is kind of a good idea; they say the best way to learn how to write great fantasy and science fiction is to read great fantasy and science fiction.
So, all in all, a very productive, and very writerly Christmas for me. There’s something in the wind for 2011… I can feel it.
How about you… did Santa bring you any wonderful books to read or anything fun and supportive of your writing?