The best time of day to write

All my adult life I’ve felt guilty about my circadian rhythm. Add to that the knowledge that my favorite authors rise and shine in the wee hours of the morning to write, and I feel even more guilty for being a Night Owl.

I capitalized Night Owl because the Night Owl is actually my college mascot. Something tells me I’m not going to escape this particular identity.

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I was discussing this issue with my son. Since I start student teaching next week, I’m a little freaked out about when I’ll be able to get my writing time in. I’m a true believer in “you don’t find time to write you make time.” But, as someone who lives with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, I’m aware that my body will only allow me to be alert so many hours in the day.

The way I often get through the day is that I have to take a 20-minute nap in the afternoon (or longer depending how bad I’m feeling) to get through the rest of the day. I then take a B-12 vitamin and move along. I can usually squeeze out an evening of writing that way.

But many of my favorite authors are morning authors–Kate DiCamillo, for one (I love her voice!).  Wouldn’t it be better if I was more like her? Over and over again I’ve beat myself up for not being up with the robins getting that worm. (Okay, so I don’t like worms, but my worm would be a manuscript.)

Does the fact that I’m not a morning writer mean I’ll never be a best-seller?

Not according to this amazing infograph:

Opposite Habits of Famous Writers.
Opposite Habits of Famous Writers by Bid4Papers

Is this cool or what?

I’ve got to grasp the fact that it doesn’t matter when I write. It only matters that I write. Every day. For several hours.

(Excuse me while I grab another cup of tea, and pet my dogs and cats, sit very still in the light of the moon, and write very, very slow.)

If you want more proof it’s okay to be a night writer, check out this awesome blog post by Jeff Goins here: Why You Should Be Writing at Night.

When is your favorite time of the day write/craft/read good books/do what you love most?

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The Art of Interruptions

-Interruptions remind us we are not in control.---Karla Akins

Okay, this is hilarious.

I had this post completely written and guess what?

It disappeared.

Then I wrote it again. And added pictures.

And the pictures disappeared.

Then when I added the pictures again and checked on it–saved it, published it, the original post showed up without pictures. (I was working in Blogger for a cross-post to Hoosier Ink. I gave up and decided to post it here in WordPress.)

hmm...I find this extremely ironic since I’m writing about interruptions. And I don’t believe in coincidences. Sometimes life gets so crazy and bizarre you just have to laugh. Just like God does when we make plans. I picture Him sitting beside me, jabbing me in the ribs with a loud “Got ya!” He probably isn’t, but that’s how I picture Him when things like this happen. (I mean no disrespect to God. He knows how much I admire His sense of humor.)

You’d think after having kids with autism and a mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s living with us, I’d be the Queen of Handling Interruptions. But I’m not. I have a hunch that God must be determined to make me an expert. Either that, or he enjoys a good laugh. You know the Yiddish saying, right? “We make plans and God laughs.” He is hee-hawing all over the universe with the way my summer has gone.

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You see, I’m a planner. I love to plan. I have several planners — one for home/church, one for my writing and one for my college classes. I begin student teaching in August, and I’ll have a teaching planner, too.  I also use Google Calendar to remind me of appointments and deadlines. I love to plan. I buy all sorts of stickers and tapes and tabs for my planner. Planning is my hobby.

A few of my planning toys. I keep them in a ziplock envelope inside my planner. I have many more in my office drawers!

And oh yeah, I haven’t even begun to tell you all about how I plan on Kanbanflow! I have 11 (!) planning boards there. Now, admittedly, many of them are for books and projects. But a lot of them aren’t.

This isn't my kanban, but you get the idea.

This isn’t my kanban, but you get the idea.

Here’s how my summer has gone so far. Keep in mind, this is the summer when I was going to knock out those 11 Kanbanflow lists and cure world hunger:

  • My dishwasher broke the same month of the twins’ graduation open house (mid-May)
  • The twins’ caregiver quit in May. We still don’t have a new caregiver and they require 24-7 supervision
  • Ordered new dishwasher
  • New dishwasher arrived and quit working after one week
  • Part for new dishwasher will not be here until August 12
  • Air conditioner is not acting right. And it’s only the hottest summer ever.
  • June 25 my computer crashes. Kaput. Zero. Zilch. Will cost too much of a percentage of a new one to fix.
  • Wait two weeks for new computer to arrive.
  • Can’t find my backup files on Carbonite
  • My wedding ring got an upgrade May 1. Sent it off to get it fixed. It’s still not back after it being returned twice looking like a bubble gum ring. (Does this mean I’ve been single all this time?)
  • My mother-in-law who has Alzheimer’s has been sick a lot this summer. This means a lot of attention, care and trips to the hospital. (Keep her in your prayers. Her name is Ellen.)
  • When I flew to Colorado for conference, why didn’t I expect my plane to be delayed and have three gate changes in Dallas?
  • My back went out July 22. I have a bad sacrum joint thing going on. Which means I can’t sit, stand or walk comfortably at all. The only medication that’s touching the pain is Ibuprofen which I’m not supposed to take because of a stomach condition. But, it’s Ibuprofen that’s allowed me to sit here in this awkward position and type this post.

These are just a few of the highlights of my summer saga entitled, “Interrupted Summer.” Not very original, I know, but it describes it very well. (Which means it’d do well on a Kindle search, but that’s another blog post for another day.)

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God isn't looking at the clock.He's looking at my character.--KarlaAkins.com

I believe God is bound and determined to teach me how to handle interruptions with grace. I’m obviously a slow learner. This has been a sink or swim summer. I’m treading water, but not sure I’m going anywhere.

And yet, I’m trying to embrace the interruptions as positive opportunities instead of negative experiences. They’re like when I get lost on purpose when I ride my motorcycle. I love exploring unchartered territories. Why not view interruptions in the same way?

Interruptions are actually God’s Providence. It’s Him teaching me I’m not the one in control. He is. And I can either embrace these moments or kick against them. It’s up to me how I perceive them.

In the below video I share a few more of my thoughts on the matter. If you like the video, please subscribe to my channel and hit like on the thumbs up tab! (In Youtube.)

How about you? Do you like interruptions as much as I do?

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Please tweet: Interruptions are God’s unexpected field trips.

How’s that Chromebook working out for ya?

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As I posted last week, my beloved computer died on me. Actually, it was the hard drive. The second one. I’m very hard on hard drives because I keep my computer on 24/7. I hate rebooting because if I stop in the middle of a project in the middle of the night, I don’t want to lose my train of thought the next morning.

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My train of thought is, well, easily derailed these days. I’m no spring chicken, you know. More like a fall-going-into-winter-chicken. Which, I suppose, is better than being a fall-going-into-winter-turkey.

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I’ve been using my son’s little HP Chromebook (actually called a Stream). Isaiah doesn’t need a powerful computer for working. He just needs something for accessing the Internet and playing around with social media. (He’s already graduated from high school. He used an iPad for schoolwork.)

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Basically, the way I understand it, a Chromebook is more or less just like a smartphone. While it doesn’t have the power to have a lot of windows open at the same time (something I’m famous for) or to edit things like videos, it can still do quite a bit.

Here are the specs (for those who understand them) on this particular model. Keep in mind, these Chromebooks come in all sorts of sizes. This one is on the lower end of the scale. Extremely affordable at around $200.

13.3-Inch laptop

Intel Celeron processor

2 GB RAM (in other words, very little power/speed)

32 GB SSD (This is the driver; it’s solid state which makes up a little bit for small RAM, but 32 GB is not very much on an android/PC device and I’ve had to limit the amount of apps to the very basics if I’m going to save any documents or pictures to the laptop itself.)

Cloud-sharing

The idea of these types of laptops is to use the cloud or google drive to store your pictures and documents. But I’m leery of storing everything online, and like to have my own backups. So what I’m doing until my own laptop gets here, is saving a document, then emailing it to myself. Then I delete it off of this one. It’s a pain. It takes time. But at least I can transfer these files to the new laptop when it gets here.

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Let me clarify. I only email those files that are extremely important for me to find when my laptop gets here. Others either go in the cloud, or get deleted permanently.

Some things I don’t like about this Chromebook:

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  1. The touchpad is very sticky and slow.
  2. It really doesn’t have the power to browse websites with pop-ups. I don’t browse too many like that unless it’s for research or reading the news. This particular Chromebook can’t handle it.
  3. The screen resolution isn’t great but it’s not horrible.
  4. Doesn’t have enough memory to leave a lot of windows open at once or to multi-task. Why do I need to do that, you ask? Sometimes I leave windows open to remember to go back to them. Other times I may need to have Thesaurus.com, my blog site, email, and a photo editing program open all at the same time. Working efficiently and quickly often means having several programs or websites open at once.
  5. I can’t edit videos. It just doesn’t have the power. Therefore, my video work has come to a screeching halt.

What I like about this Chromebook:

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  1. I’m pleasantly surprised at how well the word processing works on this laptop. It’s as fast as my regular laptop.
  2. For getting basic writing done, it’s a great little machine. I like that I can focus on my writing and I’m not distracted by other things I could do on a regular laptop.
  3. I love the size and weight. I’m toying with the idea of buying one for taking it to a coffee shop or to church to take notes on. The size is fantastic and the keyboard is still big enough to be comfortable typing on. (But, since Mr. Himself doesn’t understand why I’d need a second laptop, purchasing one of these cute little things for myself is probably not going to happen…)
  4. If you use Chrome for your browser, it saves all your settings when you use it on another machine as long as you sign in to your gmail account. I didn’t realize this for about a week and was using my son’s Firefox browser. So now, after downloading Chrome, I’ve been able to log in to my various sites (such as this blog) easily and get stuff DONE!

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Conclusion: The Chromebook is a great option if you’re in-between computers, or your main computer is in the shop getting repaired. You can still be productive in quite a few areas as long as what you’re doing doesn’t take up a lot of memory and doesn’t require a lot of speed.

I also see why schools use it for homework activities. While they may not be able to do a lot of fancy video editing, basic homework assignments can be done on this machine. (I get to experience this when I start student teaching in August! Yay!)

I look at it this way. iPads/tablets are great for consuming things like books and movies but not so great for creating documents. I’m glad the schools in our district have switched to using laptops instead of tablets.

Bottom line: a Chromebook is a good option for getting simple writing tasks done and answering emails.

Have you ever used a Chromebook? Weigh in!

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Please tweet: What good is a Chromebook?

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

There is only one satisfying way to boot a computer. -J.H. Goldfuss

Can you hear me screaming all the way to your house?

My computer is broken. Hard drive is kaput. No, I didn’t lose data. I have it backed up on Carbonite. (Thank You, Lord!) I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.

I’m very hard on computers. They rarely last me more than four years. And like clockwork, they blow up. I should know better.

I actually did have a premonition, but you know how it is. You just keep babying it until you absolutely have to do something.

I warned you!But you wouldn't listen!

Now I have to decide whether to simply replace the hard drive or get a new computer. Since I’m editing videos now, I need a much more efficient hard drive which means going solid state. But what if the motherboard is the next to go?

If money weren’t an issue, I’d definitely get a new computer. But money is tight and I can’t make the decision lightly  or quickly. In the meantime, I’m using my son’s little netbook. It’s slow. It’s annoying. But it’s better than nothing.

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The thing is, to get a new computer, I need to make sure it’s what I really need now that I’m editing videos. That means more RAM, and an Intel Core i7, not to mention an expensive video card. All these things add up fast. If all I needed were a computer for writing, I wouldn’t be agonizing over the decision so much.

Needless to say, I’m beyond frustrated. Service on computers is notoriously slow, and I have deadlines. It’s been so difficult to get things done. I’ve had to cancel interviews I’ve had scheduled for weeks for my video channel. So disappointing.

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This graphic has nothing to do with this post. I just thought it was cool.

But, I’m determined to keep praise on my lips and rest in God’s perfect plan. When I’m on my deathbed, I’m not going to be fretting over this recent turn of events. The important things are still in place: God, faith and family. Work will always be there. And God’s timing is perfect.

What would you do if you were me? Buy a whole new computer?  Or just add a solid state drive to the old one and some more RAM? Weigh in!
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Journey Through the Storm

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Monday I got caught in a terrible storm driving between my town and the town where my appointment was. Living rural means you get nowhere fast. It was at least a 30-minute journey under the best of conditions. It took me an hour-and-a-half to get home.

He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. (2)

As I was driving, it struck me how focused I was on what was right in front of me. And it reminded me of how I coped this past year as I journeyed through the worst storm of my life. You may think I’m being dramatic, but I’m truly not. It has taken me the better part of the past year to be able to wake up without a lump in my throat and a heavy weight on my chest.

-Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts-Zechariah 4-6

Maybe knowing how I got through it will help somebody else. And maybe, it will be good for folks to know, that the while sorrow leaves its scars, it does get less debilitating. You learn to live with the dull ache. You accept the moments you burst into tears at the grocery store when emotions flood without warming.  But spontaneous, tearful waves do occur farther apart as time marches on. The ache is something you learn to acknowledge, grateful the agony doesn’t overwhelm you as it did in the past.

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in

My stormy journey isn’t over. As long as we live on earth, we have burdens to bear. But knowing that I can survive a storm like the one I’m living through, has strengthened me in many ways. It has shaped me. It has groomed me for something greater and made me ready for what is next.

-But now, O Lord, thou art our father;we are the clay, and thou our potter;and we all are the work of thy hand.-Isaiah 64-8

If we give our storms to Him, and keep praise on our lips, He will see us through. Doesn’t mean it is painless. Just means we get through it one step at a time. And we survive. Even thrive.

How has God gotten you through a sorrow? Hurt? Tragedy? Share in the comments below.

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Please tweet: See how one woman survived a terrible storm!

 

Time with Grandma

I love one on one time with my grandchildren. Usually my granddaughters choose to spend a one on one time day with me for their birthday. (I give them the choice of a gift or the day with me.) They’re pretty smart. They know that one on one time usually includes shopping and food, so they know a bargain when they see one!

I hope you’ll enjoy this video of my time with Maggie Moo a few weeks ago!

What are your favorite memories of time with your grandma? Let me know in the comments below!

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Making memories with grandma! What are some of yours?

Testimony Tuesday featuring Amy Clipston

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I’m so excited to have found Amy Clipston!

Amy’s story is profound. And I was thrilled when she agreed to an interview. So, grab a cuppa, lean back, and enjoy the show!

Amy’s next book will be out in June!

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And be sure to check out her facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AmyClipstonBooks

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Tweet this: She saved two lives with one of her kidneys!

Words from the abyss

I stare at the page. No, that’s not right. I stare into space. Into nothingness. Empty of anything but anguish. The mere thought of lifting my hands to the keyboard, exhausting. Thinking thoughts that require more than automatic muscle movement, overwhelming.

If you’ve never experienced grief this strong, you cannot know how this feels.

The blankets are my shelter. Like God’s wings, they hide me from outside forces that take too much glaring effort to face.

Exhaustion. The exhaustion is much, much more than being tired. It’s the lack of will to do anything but sleep, stare, sob, and sleep again.

I wonder if God feels this way over children He’s lost. And if He does, how His mercy is even deeper and wider.

My thoughts are stuck in a thick goo of anguish. Anguish isn’t the right word. It’s much more than despair. It’s pain, squared by pain times itself, over and over and over again. An exponential abyss of dark, infinite hell.

I know now why they wear black when they grieve. This is so much worse than death. So much worse. And I. Can’t. Find. My. Way. Out. This yawning void sucks me down with each strain toward the light. Each small advance thwarted by the constant shadowy reminder of the cause of the torment.

The only escape is death. But death doesn’t come. With bodacious irreverence life marches on with trivial duties. Make the bed. Brew the coffee. Feed the cat. Sort the socks.

Why do people go on as if nothing has happened? Why does the sun continue to shine? Why do the stars and moon mock the darkness?

I must think new thoughts. I must put praise on my lips.

No. No energy. My mind is too full of intrusive sorrow. I cannot be a hypocrite today. To pretend I’m okay when I’m clearly not is too heavy a burden. Today I can’t paste on the smile, stick out my chin and write pretty prose.

The blankets. So soft. So comforting.

The cat purrs. I close the laptop. Close my eyes.

Tomorrow will come.

Maybe there will be new words tomorrow.

Will 2016 be better?

I don’t want to be a downer, but 2015 for me was the pits in many ways.

But guess what?

God is still on the throne and Jesus is coming soon!

Will He come in 2016?

Who will be elected president?

If you listen to the doomsayers, it’s going to be a defining year and danger is just around the corner. But our eyes aren’t to be on the storms and waves around us. Our eyes are to be on Jesus. And the safest place to be is in the center of His will.

My prayer for you for 2016 is that you will hunger for more of Him, and you will feast your eyes on Him, so that you will live in perfect peace.

-Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,whose mind is stayed on thee-because he trusteth in thee.Trust ye in the Lord for ever-for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.-Isaiah 26-3-4

 

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Tweet this: Our eyes are to be on Jesus & the safest place to be is in the center of His will.

Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Busy Writers (Or at least for this one)

I love writerly gifts. But most of the time, my friends and family haven’t a clue what such things are. I may leave my computer open to this post in case Mr. Himself walks by…

Here are my top 10 picks this Christmas in no particular order.

Number One:

 Jane Austen Action Figures and anything Jane Austen.

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Such as this,

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this,

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and this.

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Just because I love all things Jane Austen. And these are absolutely frivolous and uniquely writerly and readerly.

Number Two:

Stickers for my laptop. Such as this NASA one.

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It’s cool for people to think I’m a rocket scientist when I’m out in public writing. Then again, the astronaut sloth sticker might clue them in to what I really am.

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Or the  NASA “I need my space” one.

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Seriously, though, this one is perfect.

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As is this one. And you can’t beat the price! Okay, forget the gifting. I’m getting these myself.

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Number Three:

I am in total love with this gift idea! It’s a Moleskin notebook in a Moleskin gift box! How perfect. No need to explain why any writer wouldn’t love this one, right?

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Number Four:

Altwork Station.

Source: endgadget.com

Source: endgadget.com

When I make my first million I’m so getting one of these.  You’ve got to see this for yourself! (Watch the video. You’ll be putting this one on your list, too.)

Number Five:

Bookends. I have so many books. I’m never without a need for bookends. And since I’m really into elephants, I love these little guys.

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Every writer can use a nice set of bookends

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or even a cute bookshelf!

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Number Six:

Movie passes!

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Fiction writers love movies. Mainly they like to go and rip apart every scene, dissect each word, analyze the dialogue, conflicts, and more. Sometimes they want to sit in a movie alone and savor every morsel. Writers are weird. You might want to get the passes for them  to go to the movies alone unless they happen to have patient friends who understand. Or you have a unique writer friend who’s an extrovert. Unlike me. It’s not that I’m anti-social. I’m just an in-her-head-all-the-time kind of gal. Okay, fine. My kids think I’m anti-social.

Number Seven:

A vintage typewriter. Just because. Personally, I’d love to have a pink one:

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Or this one from my childhood. I can still remember its smell!

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Source: http://goo.gl/OmyMrA

And if the below picture is really a thing, please, please, please, someone show me where I can get this one!

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Source: http://stillcracking.com/want-one-2/

It does look like you can make your own according to this website, but a circuitry aficionado I’m not. However, I’m a writer, and there’s nothing a writer loves more than dreaming–besides caffeine and chocolate. Which brings us to

Number Eight:

Our own caffeine station. Deborah Raney has one I absolutely love! Mine would lean more toward tea, diet Mt. Dew, milk (with a Splenda — you’ve got to try it! It’s like a legal milkshake) and water. I don’t drink coffee. But I don’t mind those who do because I love the smell of it. Wouldn’t a little station in a cozy home office be wonderful?

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How cute is this???

Number Nine:

Our own private lair.

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I have a huge Pinterest board dedicated to this (with over 600 delectable images!).  I’d love my own little cabin in the backyard. But Mr. Himself is hesitant to create such a thing because he’s afraid I’d never come back in the main house.  He might be right about that. (See Number Six.)

Number Ten:

Contracts. Lots and lots of contracts.

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If I haven’t hit on anything your writer friend or family member might like, you can check out this amazing Etsy list here. There are plenty of things there any writer would love. And I like shopping at Etsy because it supports independent creatives like me.

What are your top ten Christmas wishes (besides peace, health and unicorns)? Is there anything on my list you’d like to have, too? Weigh in!

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Please tweet: Top 10 Christmas Gifts for busy writers! What’s your pick?