Perfect Gifts for Readers and Writers

Every year we all scramble to figure out gifts for people. Because, although you openly claim to be proud of your hard earned asshole badge, you dont want to look like one during the holidays. Thus, since Pint Sized Press generally focuses on readers and writers we decided we’d compile a list of suitable gifts for the reader or writer in your family.

  1. The Banned Book’s Mug

It’s from Out Of Print, which is like the ultimate place to buy writer and reader merch. They have everything ranging from t-shirts with quotes, to socks with Edgar Allan Poe’s face as polka-dots. This mug, when heat activated, displays the titles of various banned books. It’s really very V for Vendetta if you think about it. Grab one for twelve bucks (and every order gets a free pair of mismatched library socks) here.

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2. Literary Candles

These lovely little balls of wax are intended to submerge your senses in your favorite story. The scents are inspired by your favorite books! Obviously, it’d be great to pop open one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterpieces and light up your 221b baker street candle. Hopefully the candle smells better than a late 19th-century bachelor pad. Pick it up here.

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3. Tequila  Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist

A cookbook specifically for cocktails. But also with literary themes. Because every good writer is a good drinker, and it’s pretty clear that anyone who reads wants to feel fancy when they’re drinking. Book based drinks is everything everyone who likes words on paper wants. Most likely. It’s on amazon too, which is cool cause #freeshipping. It’s here.

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4. Temporary Tattoos

Since Hollister and various other teeny bopper shops have made it popular to advertise with your body, everyone clearly wants to use temporary tattoos to show off how well-read they are. There are packages for Jane Austin, Walden, Sherlock Holmes and much more. Because you can’t be hipster with just the lensless glasses and man bun, you need literary tattoos too. Find them here.

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5. Edgar Allan Poe Secular Saint Candle.

Yeah, I know it’s the second candle on the list. But think about it. They have so many practical uses and this one you can add to your shrine of Eddy. Or put it in your bathroom to light instead of using Febreeze (#versatile). As Gone Reading states “Appropriately identified as the Patron Saint of Bohemians, Cryptology and Detectives (see photo), this candle will prominently proclaim your love of Poe for all your friends to see.” See, it’s barely even blasphemy. Order it here.

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6.Writers Block.

Haha. Writers love puns. We fucking love them. Ask anyone. And no, it’s not too much for a block of wood. Technically 200 is too much for a block of wood as well. Check it.

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7. Dead Writers Perfume.

Some would argue dead writers are the best writers, which really sells this little bottle of smelly stuff. It comes in heliotrope, black tea, and tobacco. It’s creative, it’s original, and if it ends up smelling bad its the thought that counts anyway. Find it here.

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If these did not satisfy your gift lust then hold your horses, sweet cheeks. I’ll be updating with another list before long. Mainly because it turns out making a list of gifts for a category of people is way easier than trying to figure out gifts for individuals I actually know.

Another thing you could give a writer is one of our fabulous services for their manuscript, you can find those here.

Find more of Sofia’s clever writing on our blog or in her new novel“The Belle of Eden”

Spontaneous Drunk Writing Prompt

What’s the point of getting drunk and watching comedy on a Tuesday night when you have other responsibilities if youre not going to come up with a writing prompt? There’s obviously no point at that junction. So here is the writing prompt that wine has, in fact, prompted.

I was watching “Horrible Bosses” cause I need to hear the revolutionary and motivating line from Kevin Spacey: “You have to put some band-aids on your nipples to win a marathon”.  Thus I began to ponder how one might find a nearby every day assassin. For there must be people who live in Colorado right by a military base (Colorado Springs so not that close, but who cares) who kill for money. Who offer to eliminate your shitty boss, sister-in-law, or perhaps spouse (no judgement) for a certain amount of money.

Your prompt, therefore, is to write to Pint Sized Press a craigslist add advertising this service in the best, and least professional terms possible. Best one gets a repost over all sorts of social media. So, dig into the sniper/ James Bond trained version of you and post a craigslist add. Because #21stcentury.

Critique Groups

critique-group-blogOh. My. God. Critique Groups. I woke up today on the wrong side of the bed and decided to rant about critique groups. Lemme tell you something about these, if you’re looking to join one or create one, anything. Make sure the people who are participating actually have good writing. It’s not about whether or not their critique is valid based on their own quality. It’s not about discrimination. It’s about whether or not you can actually handle reading their entire (industry standards generally imply 90k word) work. Which would imply then, that you’d feasibly be reading this manuscript, if you meet once per week, for approximately two years. Two years of reading potentially utter tripe? I don’t want to see you devastated by this terrible inconvenience. I don’t want to witness your potential pain. Thus, I am telling you watch out for bad writing in critique groups.

Otherwise, there’s literally a million places you can go to find one. Be smart, Google it locally. Look up something on Meetup, that is how I found two of mine and several other lucrative get-togethers, I might add. It’s a good site, I recommend it.

Back to the actual story. The original critique group I started in was great. Great critique with good writers. Beware, they can devolve into the above situation where one reads what is tantamount to crap every single week and have to critique it as nicely as possible. The issue is not simply the shitty writing, it is the lack of interest in actual improvement. Surprisingly, for the number of different groups I’ve attended there exists the shocking theme that very few people actually want a real critique and actually listen to what is being said about their work. Perhaps it’s related to age, that you hit a certain age and then suddenly think you’re infallible. Perhaps it’s just laziness. Either way, someone with this behavior is genuinely what ruins a night if not your entire mood about writing. Because then you’ll start to worry that your own work is just as bad and that is a sure-fire way to take the wind out of your sails.

So avoid the idiots and prosper.

 

Toodles,

Sofia B Ashford

P.S. this is also, in my opinion, a feasible replacement for the nightmare that is extensive beta reading (like between 5 and 10 people).

If you want to read more of my inspired writing, check out the other blogs and follow us on FB, the posts are oh so informative. Or you could read my newly released title “The Belle of Eden,” which is available here.

Editing

As a writer, editing is, unfortunately, going to be a huge part of your life. Whether it be content or copy it’s going to be there, looming over your shoulder and breathing down your neck in probably the most ominous fashion it can manage. Bearing that in mind, I will attempt to make it easier on you with a few little gems of wisdom.

First off, this is my sort of “part 2” for beta reading. Considering content editing is essentially beta reading. So here’s my number one piece of advice: Don’t use a free editor. Don’t enlist your mother who has an English degree, don’t even talk to your English teacher. In some cases, avoid friends at all costs. I know a lot of people who write and have had to have their stuff edited before they publish or start querying.  Out of all eight of them, I know only one who has had a good experience using a friend as an editor. He is, obviously the exception to the rule. This is because his friend had worked 20 years for reputable publications and was actually viewing his deal (he still paid, just at a lower price) as a business transaction. In every other instance, I know of, including my own sob story, that has not been the case. I have a friend who enlisted the help of her buddy who copy edits for a living and owns a publishing company, she paid him hundreds of dollars and he still could not perform in a timely manner. In another instance, another friend of mine hired the copy editor for a radio station (a friend who owed a favor), at which point she took way too much time and did not do a thorough job. Money is pretty much the purest motivator and you’re going to want someone who will respect you as a client and not some fogey who’s going to print off a book for their coffee table.

Which leads me to my next piece of advice- and believe me, folks, it’ll get preachy- my one regret for my most recently published book is that I didn’t get an industry professional to content edit (i.e. beta read) the manuscript. They’re going to offer opinions and point out things the average reader isn’t going to because nobody else really knows how to target an audience, or actually produce a book worth buying. Another friend of mine used a publishing company’s beta services, it cost about a hundred bucks and they were able to point out major flaws after she had proofed it through regular readers, such as pointing out things that the audience  would likely view as creepy, and how not to undermine her female characters.  By no means am I saying use Pint Sized service, but use someone’s. Cause it’s worth it.

Know that by the end you’re probably still not going to feel like it’s ready. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, that you’ll hate the work or the characters by the end. That it’ll never seem ready. But I’m here to tell you it won’t seem ready, and you will learn to dislike if not low-key hate your work when it’s all said and done. But there will come a point when you know that’s probably as far as it can go, or should go without too much more pain, anguish, and suffering on your part or the part of the people you’ve hired. So have no worries. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Keep this in mind on your journey: it’s 300 percent worth it to pay. Imagine it like this, if you see an indie movie that’s poorly made you’re going to chalk it up to a poor budget and walk away knowing you wasted your time. That is precisely how your readers will feel. You are starting a business, you are creating a product that people WILL want to buy. Make sure they aren’t going to be disappointed. Not everything, unfortunately, is a Pinterest DIY project. But the presence of mason jars in the editing process would probably make it so much more bearable.

Happy reading and writing

 

Please Check out Pint Sized Services on our page and feel free to read more of my writing in my newly released title “The Belle of Eden” here.

Toodles,

Sofia B Ashford

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The Publishing Process Part 1

In lieu of our newest feature that we’re trying to market to you, I thought it would be fitting to talk about the benefits and loopholes one must look for when searching out beta readers. As a writer and a rather social individual, I’ve many friends who’ve finished novels and thus used beta readers in that process. If you’re going the traditional route of editing your novel, you’ve probably gone through a critique group of some form and edited to the fullest extent and now you believe you are ready to show other individuals your work in its entirety. It seems so simple right? Just print up the manuscript (hopefully not paying Kinkos an absorbent amount of money to do so) and handing it out to a few friends and loved ones. Well, unfortunately, I’m here to tell you it’s not so simple. Inversely, however, I’m also here to tell you how to avoid the hiccups myself and friends had to hurdle.

Process:

This is a point of contention among my colleagues and I. Some think it’s better to do it all in one shot, others think it’s easier spread out. Either way you slice it, there appears to be no speed track for this undertaking that we might call “showing other people”. What I’ve found to be the fastest and most efficient way of completing this step is to break it into sections. Because unfortunately nowadays no one has any real urgency to read. Yes, you’re going to hope your book captures their attention and completely spell binds them, but this is the age of television and Xbox Ones, and I’m afraid folks just aren’t as avid readers as they used to be let’s say in the 1800s or something. So, the way myself and few others have become accustomed to doing it, is we break it into sections. What that looks like is you collect a couple friends who are willing to read, and you separate them into manageable number groups, like if you have 7, do a group of 4 first and 3 last. Once you’ve collected your beta readers (a whole other battle we’ll discuss) you should separate them into sections depending on who you think will finish it faster and who you think will be more thorough as well as whether or not they are in your ultimate target market. My advice is to start with the more thorough individuals first, mostly because those that are faster will be a breath of fresh air afterward and will make it easier on you to put in those final edits they’ll give you because you’ll have them sooner rather than later. Choose like three readers at a time, and then this is the key, set up deadlines for them. Deadlines will keep your readers at least moderately on track and give them a sense of urgency. Schedule, depending on how fast you want it back, weekly to monthly appointments with each one and tell them what’s expected in these meetings. Use these get together to discuss their comments and how they’re finding your book. Talk about all the English class jargon you can and use it not only as a point of critique but as a point of kudos! For after you leave their presence you’ll have to go home and put all of those edits to the page. It will be a long process that you’ll get tired of quickly if they aren’t complementing you along the way. In truth, it’ll be hard not to enjoy their feedback no matter what flavor it takes on because your work will be getting attention at long last and that will always feel good.

As an aside, there is a wonderful program now open to the public that makes the beta reading process that much easier on you and your readers. You can find it here :

https://www.betabooks.co/

 

Happy writing and reading!

-Sofia B

Please check out the book that I put through numerous rounds of beta reading, the newly released title “The Belle of Eden”  Here

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