Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas Advice for members of My Mum is Writing A Novel Anonymous

I was going to do a list of book gifts for children but then I thought, why should I make one for THEM when nobody ever gets it right for ME?

Kids, don't be fooled when you see Facebook or Google on the screen. Your Mum really is writing a novel.

So here, selfishly, is a wish list for all members of My Mum is Writing a Novel Anonymous (or MyMumWanna, for short). It can of course also be used by members of My Dad/Wife/Husband/Aunt/Uncle/Grandpa/Grandma/Dog is Writing a Novel.

Members of My Mum Is Writing A Novel Anonymous taking a break from complaining that there is no dinner on the table.

And it is perfectly decent to forward this list to your other parent ... or relatives with big fat wallets (like Grandpa).


1 You might have noticed your mum hovering around you whenever you're on Sims2 or World of Warcraft. That's probably because she's desperate to use the computer.

Mums Who Write Novels NEED THEIR OWN LAPTOPS. If your Mum Who's Writing a Novel is still using the family PC or using Dad's old laptop from work running Windows 95  - then you should be ASHAMED of yourself!

To help your clever little mind focus, I heartily recommend the one I got myself this year after one of the children sat on my extremely expensive super slim Sony Vaio - the Asus EeePC 1005HA Seashell..

It's crap at making coffee though.

Why do I recommend it? Geekophobics look away now.

It's 10.1 inches. Its battery lasts for TEN hours (that's what they claim - mine lasts for eight with the wi-fi off. Still not bad)- excellent for typing up chapters in Caffe Nero while waiting for school to finish, or typing in the car while waiting outside ballet. I am a speedy typist and the keys, unlike other laptops, are slightly separate from each other. It fits in my handbag. It's only £250plus quid (less than that set of golf clubs).

And it isn't one of those sexy slim ones that are prone to getting broken in two by 10-year-old bottoms.

2 So does your Mum Who is Writing That Novel have a website yet? Could it be because she didn't have the technical know-how to set it up herself? Has it OCCURRED to you to HELP HER SET IT UP using all the free websites out there Wordpress and Blogger for blogs and Jimdo, Weebly, Squarespace for websites? Think how embarrassing it must be when she meets other writers.
"Do you have a website?"
"But you've got a teenager!"

I mean, it's not like you've got better things to do, like save the world.

3 And while you're at it, register a DOMAIN for her website! Now that's a Christmas present that will make her grateful FOREVER (it costs less than a tenner too, if it's a

In the olden days, only one or two women had their own domain. Virginia Woolf wrote, "A woman must have ... a room of her own if she is going to write" ... but that was before publishing became big business and authors had to learn to promote themselves!

So maybe your Mum Who Is Writing That Book already has a laptop, already has a website and blogs as well. What do you give the Writing Mum Who's Doing It All?

Get her a mini camcorder! I got a Flip Mino last Christmas (but you should get the HD version) and it's so easy to use, it plugs into the laptop via a USB connection, and has great sound.

As long as you make sure she gets to use it once in a while.

Fantastic for quick little videos to put on the blog, keeping a child amused while you're trying to compose that last line in the chapter, or recording sound.

Aside: it's not really designed for recording sound but I use it to record sound then convert it into MP3 because I haven't got an audio interface (Or royalty free music. Just saying). Didn't include them in the list because a bit beyond geeky for this subject. Ah well. Hint. Hint.

5 BOOKS are of course the obvious gift to a Mum Who Keeps Writing. But because life has been a little bit hard this year for the book industry (and obviously your Mum WANTS to support the book industry) it would be a REALLY THOUGHTFUL THING if you actually went out and bought the books in A PLACE WITH A SHOP WINDOW!

Get your electronic goods from Amazon by all means, but books? Buy them in a shop! And get one of those free bookmarks with the shop's logo on it, stick it in the book, and scribble - "I didn't just order this online, Mum!"


Can bookshops do no Wong?
(Thanks, Kathy for the link)

Added later: It just occurred to me that readers might want to add their own items to this list. Like writing kit. Or  books you would love to see under the tree instead of that four inch thick coffee table book about Michael Palin traveling around the world again. Or three book deals.


  1. Subscription to Mslexia! Or to another magazne that is genre-specific to your mum's writing!

    (*cough* Interzone *cough*)

    Your mum will appreciate the fact that you are helping her to support these magazines, thus keeping the market for new writing open, and also, when she signs her fabulous book deal, you're helping her save a valuable marketing resource who will naturally write long, eloquent and gushing reviews of her wonderful work.

    Failing that, a large bottle of vodka to help her get through the editing process wouldn't go amiss.

  2. i would have suggested a review by Cornerstones but there's too much risk involved.

    you wouldn't want to hurt your mum's feelings by suggesting her writing needed work.

    and what if the cornerstones review resulted in a deep depression that led to the end of ice cream after dinner?

  3. To Gemma's relatives: here is the link to Interzone. It might help reduce that cough.

  4. Membership of SCBWI or the Society of Authors? A decent supply of pens (where do all mine go?!?).

    Mariam Vossough

  5. I have laptop envy...i use pen and paper while waiting for ballet/swimming/trampoline/blah blah blah....

  6. O web guru, I am setting up my website right now (well, in the course of a few weeks), with help from my techie boyfriend. However, techie man only knows about html, not hosting. As far as he knows, it's necessary to pay to get a decent website. Are any of those free services you mentioned good?

  7. Lots of chocolate - and some wine.

  8. I think the Cornerstones review would have been an excellent idea. I have something I'd love them to look at but I can't justify spending that money because I keep feeling I ought to be able to fix the problem myself. (Maybe I'm just being too Mum-ish about this)

  9. Jenny, i hope your family reads this. why don't you forward it casually to one of them?

  10. Ooohhh. The mini camcorder! And I didn't even know I wanted one until now. My list - black pocket lined Moleskine notebooks; bought myself the laptop, so that's out; I really fancy but OK don't need the new Lumix digital SLR and it comes in red too!


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