Posted in worldbuilding

Worldbuilding: Holidays

People love celebrating. True, some people like celebrating more than others, but if there’s a reason to celebrate, people will. That’s essentially what the holidays are about–celebrating something. Depending on what your holiday is about will depend on how it’s celebrated and when. When creating a holiday however, there’s a few things to consider.


Some holidays have movable days, like Thanksgiving, Easter and the Chinese New Year. The reasons behind that can be varied, which gives you a couple of things to consider when forming your holidays: are specific days of the week considered holy or sacred, as in the case of Easter? Are the holidays tied to a seasonal or lunar calendar as with the Chinese New Year?

Other holidays are firmly locked into a date. These might commemorate a specific historical event such as Guy Fawkes Day for the UK or the Fourth of July for the US. It might also be the reason to celebrate an event such as a death–which is namely why Valentine’s Day is always February 14th.

When also covers how long. Festivals such as Diwali can be celebrate for days. Yule, which coincides with Christmas, lasts for twelve days. Although New Year’s Day is the official holiday, celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve, with people staying awake until midnight to greet the new year.


As I said, if there’s a reason to celebrate, people will. This doesn’t just apply to big holidays either: think of the last time you went out for a nice dinner with a friend or family because someone had good news. A job promotion, new baby, buying a house or even just to celebrate someone’s birthday. The reasons for a celebration are varied, and that means so are the reasons for a holiday.

Some holidays mark the change of seasons such as the Solstices or even the change of the calendar such as the many varied new year holidays. Holidays are also used to mark and celebrate important figures, though often these are country or region specific.

Other holidays might have a specific function such as remembering the dead as in Día de los Muertos or in celebrating love such as in Valentine’s day.


If you’re creating a holiday, also consider how it would be celebrated. You can probably think of a few things connected to each holiday you know and celebrate with ease.  Red decorations for Chinese New Year, presents for Christmas, turkey for Thanksgiving, sugar skulls for Day of the Dead, and so on and so forth.

While some holidays include giving gifts, others might call for things like fireworks and parades. Specific dishes might be prepared around that time such as mooncakes or stuffing. Color patterns could be associated with various holidays such as red, white and blue or orange and black. Staying up until midnight and egg hunts are two very specific traditions associated with New Year’s and Easter respectively.

The how is often tied directly into the why, but keep in mind that holidays have a varied history of their own. Some of them have been completely taken over, becoming defunct even though parts of their celebrations remain in the holidays that have absorbed them.


Posted in General

Supporting Authors

The holiday season is in full swing. For some of us, that means a lot of gift giving, gift wrapping and general chaos. For a lot of us, it also means wondering how to best support the authors, writers and artists we admire. While some of the ways you can help your favorite creators are obvious, others might not be.

Put them on your wish lists. This is actually a double-bonus here. If someone is following your wish list, not only do you get the book you want, you’re also letting other people know about them and giving a low-key recommendation that you enjoy their works.

Review their stuff. Getting reviews is hard. Leaving one lets an author know what you liked and again, recommends their work to others.

Give them a shout-out. Social media makes it easier than ever to connect, turn some of those connections to the authors you admire. Retweet their announcement about their latest release or share their Facebook page.

Buy their books. This is an obvious one. Book sales mean authors have more money to spend on the people they need to shop for. And there’s nothing wrong with getting yourself a small gift or two.

Gift their books. Already have a copy? Books are good gifts, be it the traditional paper or a digital copy. This is another double-bonus. Not only does buying the book help, but gifting it is another way to recommend a good book, not just to your recipient, but also to anyone there to witness the unwrapping.


Posted in General

Holiday Gifts from Writers: Adult Edition

The holiday season is underway and sometimes that means watching the dates on the calendar as they slip by in horror, knowing you still don’t have a gift for that one person. I covered what to get kids and teens earlier this week, so here’s a few ideas for adults.

For the Organizers

Everyone has at least one organizer in their family. The person who actually pulls off all those Pinterest hacks in their pantry while you’re staring at the mess of cans, pasta and who knows what else in yours wondering what sort of magic they had to perform to actually make that work. For the organizer planners are fantastic. Not only do you have the option of picking up a pretty one for them, you can easily find templates online so you can customize it to them personally–and include messages to them throughout the year to remind them how much you appreciate their effort.

Alternately, try a home management binder. These can be customized to their particular situation to help them budget, plan a menu, keep track of bills, contact information, important dates and practically anything else you can think of. This is also a great gift for anyone moving into their own home or apartment.

For the Chefs

I touched on this idea with the youth edition, but this one carries over here too: recipe and cook books. Again, this can be customized to match your budget and your culinary expert. If you make it yourself you can theme it as you like, and keeping it in three-ring binder makes it easy for them to flip through, reorganize and add recipes as they like. You might also consider leaving them a space to add any extra notes (for instance, if they know someone they’re cooking for hates Parmesan, so they make a note to substitute for another hard cheese like Romano or Asiago, or to double up on egg whites for a particular recipe).

For the Crafters

Various forms of crafting hobbies are really popular, so chances are you know someone who crafts something. Be that knitting baby booties or upcyling jewelry, the crafting industry is a huge one. If you have someone who uses a lot of random bits in their crafts, consider giving them a grab bag of odds and ends they can use. This might be old jewelry they can remake, interesting buttons, small pieces of leftover fabric, or other pieces they can use in their next crafting project.

Crafters also tend to have a lot of pieces that are destined for other people, so consider making them tags to attach to those pieces. These are pretty simple to make and can include who made them, ‘made by hand’ or ‘made with love’ on them. It’s a tiny, simple way of encouraging them to share their hobby and passion for what they love.

For the Travelers

Ever had someone tell you a story about that time they were in Rome? No, not that time, the other time they were in Rome. Yeah, that time! Gifting someone who travels a lot can be challenging since you’re never sure where the wind will blow them next, or even what they’ll need. So, try a map. I don’t mean just any map however–something like a scratch map is an updated version of popping  a pin in where they’ve already been. You can also find photo frames in the shapes of maps, or simply put together and label an album with the states and countries so they can add pictures as they visit.

Alternately, put together a ‘travel journal‘ of the stories they’ve told you and some of their favorite things they’ve seen in each place. Bonus points if you can get others to pitch in and send you their stories about traveling with your recipient.

For Other Writers

Arguably, some of the easiest people to give gifts to are other writers. Just ask yourself what you could use to make writing easier. Stationary is always a good choice–and again, pulling an idea from the kids: make a prompt book. Adding a few prompts to a cheap journal gives them a place to turn when inspiration is failing.

Alternately, give them coupons redeemable for help editing their work (such as doing developmental or line edits) or even an hour of interruption-free writing time.


Posted in Exercises, General

Holiday Gifts From Writers: Youth Edition

The one thing about the end of the year that never fails is that there’s always that one person you need to get a gift for and don’t have a clue what they want or need. Bonus points if they insist you don’t need to get them a gift. Or if they’re just young enough that they ask for something slightly impossible like a pony or a castle.

Although this is by no means an exhaustive list, hopefully it gives you some ideas.

Side note: This post actually turned out much longer than I thought it would, so keep an eye out for the adult’s edition a little later this week.

For the Littles (5-7*)

Classic Holiday stories are a good choice here. If you can’t get your hands on hard copies, then go for the write-it-yourself route. If you’re not particularly artistic you can probably get away with photos of the little in question themselves. Kids love being able to see themselves in stories.  Alternatively, find a way to record yourself reading some of their favorite stories, that way they can follow along with it whenever they want.

For Middlings (8-11*)

Writing a short story for kids in this age range might be hit or miss, depending on their personality as some kids in this range are firmly against reading. If you have a kid who enjoys reading and stories though, giving them their own personalized story is a quick, easy gift–just write them as the protagonist in a couple of fairy tales. Options from there include printing it off and popping it into a strong report cover (some places may also offer binding), or giving them their own .pdf or e-pub version to read on e-readers.

If you’ve got a kid who’s not so into reading, try an animal attached to a story. Paddington Bear is a famous example of this, but there are plenty of others. And if the official ones are out of your price range, hit up your local thrift store to find a book and an animal to pair together. Chances are the kid might be interested in hearing the story, especially if they have something tangible to connect to it, or a ‘buddy’ to practice reading with if they struggle with it. If not, they still have a new stuffed animal to play with.

For Tweens and Teens (12-18*)

The broad range of personalities here is often what makes choices here difficult. YA books are a great pick because they have a broad range of genres and choices, so it’s as simple as picking the book from the appropriate genre that reminds you of the teen or tween in question.

If you have a budding writer on your hands, give them a prompt book. This is as easy as grabbing a cheap journal (or even sacrificing a 3-prong folder and some loose leaf paper) and adding in a few prompts at the top of the pages. The same can be done for artists as well (sans lined paper) to help flex their creative muscles.

Also for artists (especially kids into make-up and make-up design): print off some blank face templates so they can draw out any looks they want to try beforehand. There are a variety of these, some of which include the facial features and some which don’t, so you have plenty of options.

For teens and tweens heavy into music, try creating a songwriter’s notebook for them. Blank music sheets they can fill themselves gives them a chance to try out creating their own music, or to start learning more about the songs they already love.

If they’re more interested in food being in the kitchen, recipe and cook books might be a good way to go. These can range from simple snacks they can toss together to more complicated meals they can help their parents with.

*Indicates age range is approximate based on personality of child in question. No two children are exactly alike.