105 Ways to Give a Book

Writer Tricks, Bargain Books, and Amazon Associates

As it turns out, I probably screwed up. I was supposed to write an article for The Edge of the Forest, and I could not get over my writer’s block. I mean, I finally did, but I think I sent it in too late, and I feel kinda bad. The whole thing leads me to wonder about being a real writer, like Pinnochio wanted to be a real boy. What do you do if the inspiration won’t come?

At this time, I take a nap. I find that thinking about what I want to write as I’m resting makes the ideas flow together in interesting ways. Of course, the problem comes if I actually fall asleep and forget the whole thing. Or if other ideas keep intruding on my meditation. I’ll want to think about my article, and instead I’ll wonder if Paris Hilton shopping a kids’ book will make the whole children’s publishing industry silently implode.

Generally, my nap technique works, but apparently not always. So I need some writer tricks. Anyone want to share?

As a token of my appreciation for your inspired help, I offer tidbits from the area in which I excel: bargain shopping. Sometimes at work, I’ll scroll down the lists of bargain books at Amazon. It’s fun when I’m at the reference desk, because it’s a totally mindless thing to do and I can stop at any point to help someone. Of course, it’s always a great reminder of what’s out there — or what’s been out there. Summer is a great time for shopping, because lots of the Christmas books are half off or more, and they dump all the extra Mommy and Daddy books from Mother’s and Father’s Day. Then the list is filled with fairly random titles as well — some good, some... not so much. Here are my picks.

Every once in a while, different books from the Mo Willems collection go on discount. A week later, the titles are back on the inventory list at regular price. I have no idea why this happens, but I take advantage of it to put away presents for friends and family. Right now you can buy Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and The Pigeon Finds a Hog Dog for $5.99, and Leonardo The Terrible Monster for $6.99.

Remember all the fuss about Cathy’s Book? No? Well, in my opinion, it turned out to be a pretty decent teen book with lots of paper stuff — notes, napkins, photos — tucked in a front cover pocket. Now this title can be yours for $5.99.

It looks like I was too late for the bargain Mommy books, but not too late for this funny story: My Dad’s Job, priced now at $4.99. This book was written by Books of Wonder owner Peter Glassman and cleverly illustrated by my New York City escort, Timothy Bush, and shows a boy’s misunderstandings of his father’s work stories.

I managed to score a complete Dragonology set for about $12, in what could only have been a computer pricing error. You can buy one book, Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons, for only $4.00. Not a bad gift idea. If the kid in your life isn’t quite ready for the small text of that series, try the younger series from the same company. It features a lot of the same little fun stuff on the pages, but is geared younger. I bought Knight: A Noble Guide for Your Squires at $3.60.

This would be a good time to mention that I am an Amazon Associate, and thus get a small referral fee if you buy a book from that site after coming from here. For instance, I’d collect a whopping $0.36 if you buy either Pigeon book. So, not enough for me to reeeally make money on these recommendations. However, if you wish to support my site in general, you can do so by adding one click to your normal purchasing and it won’t cost you a penny. Before you do any Amazon shopping, stop at MotherReader and click on any book to take you to the Amazon website. Now shop as you wish. You don’t need to buy the book you clicked on, or even a book for that matter. MotherReader is listed as the referral site for whatever you buy, and the small bits that Amazon pays help me justify the enormous amount of time I spend on this blog. Many other blogs are also Amazon Associates, and the same deal goes for them. So I’d just say that if you’re doing Amazon shopping anyway, stop at a supporting site and help out your unpaid blogger friends.

Okay, that ended up long and off my original topic, but I think it needed to be said. To review: I’m looking for writer tricks to write what you’re contracted to write, I’m suggesting bargain books to put away for birthdays and holidays, and I’m explaining the whole Amazon Associate thing for anyone who was unclear on the topic. Carry on.


Anonymous said...

You made me laugh. I strongly believe in the writer's nap, and defended this practice in "How I Work: The Way of the Nap" in my website journal. I also play with stones, and do a lot of aimless meandering about. I used to think I was just bone-lazy, but I've become much happier since I've learned to call it Research & Development. Attitude is Everything.

Sara said...

I really hate to suggest this, but I do housework. It's the only time anything ever gets clean: when I'm stuck. I just wrote for three days (not stuck!) and my house turned into a pigsty. WHY does no one else see the dog hair floating by?

But, if you say NO to my housework suggestion, then napping is delicious. Works every time. Just set a notebook by the bed.

Also, at various point in various projects, I played mindless solitaire and/or did crossword puzzles.

Really plain notebooks work well too. You can't write something wrong in a plain old spiral notebook. Or open a computer file called "Junk" and write in there. It's just junk, so there's no pressure. Dive back into that dumpster as often as needed.

If all this fails, write down, in excruciating detail exactly why you will not and NEVER will write this project that is vexing you. Call it every name in the book. List all your objections, petty and profound. You will find that you were right! You were right to stop! There was something wrong, and now you've found it and you can move on.

Of course, stuffing your face with candy also works.

Sarah Miller said...

If I waited for inspiration to hit, I'd probably write about three times a year. The only thing to do is make myself sit down and type every day.

For me, the inspiration comes *through* the work, not before it, about 90% of the time.

Anonymous said...

My only cure for writer's block is a deadline. Somehow, only about 3 hours after something should have been handed off to someone can I get past the "it has to be PERFECT" deal enough to just write the damn thing. Which is probably not helpful.

I didn't realize Amazon just lists their bargain books like that. That is a truly helpful/dangerous thing to know. Thanks!

Julie said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this post! (Carry on.) Wish I had a good idea for writer's block, but since mine has lasted for about 6 years... I'm not one to give advice! Deadlines usually shock my system into writing something, but not necessarily anything worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried smashing two unrelated things together and writing about them? Like how love is like a rug, or jealousy is like milk, or writers' block is like a skewer? Try it. Endless fun....

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I like to go take a shower when I am stuck. I just read somewhere online that other writers use that strategy too. I get a lot of ideas straightened out in the shower.

I'm glad to know that about Amazon. I'll try to remember to go there from your blog next time!

Bill said...

The "mashing together of unrelated things" exercise reminds me of the "opposites" idea that screenwriting instructor Syd Field proposes for generating dramatically interesting characters. The principle is to apply two diametrically opposing traits to the same person; a pilot who's afraid of heights... an oceanographer who can't swim... a priest who's an atheist... and so on. Obviously, his instruction is geared toward fiction writing (and specifically screenwriting), but the same principle would presumably apply to generating interesting subject matter elsewhere.

And if MR hasn't picked one up already, I may nab a copy of Cathy's Book -- I was a huge fan of "The Beast," the massive Alternate Reality Game that author Sean Stewart co-created and ran (and novelized in The Death of Evan Chan, a book which was never released, a publishing decision that disappointed many a fan).

Renee said...

Thanks for the Amazon tip, and for reminding me to support bloggers when I buy from Amazon. I know than many (most) book bloggers are Amazon associates, but it hadn't occurred to me to just click through their sites whenever I make ANY Amazon purchase, not just books. Now I will remember to go to the various blogs I read and make that extra click whenever I'm going to buy something from Amazon. Go bloggers!

Jennie said...

I write down the few things I know I want to include-- random lists of bullet points, and then I'll work on other things. Then go back and write a sentence or two, and then work on other stuff and then write a sentence or two, and then work on other stuff. The "other stuff" usually being writing related-- the novel that will never be finished, blogging, etc...

Anonymous said...

For me it's not the nap that works, but the period of going to sleep that's so vital for good ideas. The right combonation of insommnia and free time, I guess.