Whatever Holiday Gift Guide 2020, Day Four: Fan Favorites!
Posted on December 3, 2020 Posted by John Scalzi 34 Comments
For the first three days of the Whatever Gift Guide 2020, I’ve let authors and creators tell you about their work. Today is different: Today is Fan Favorites day, in which fans, admirers and satisfied customers share with you a few of their favorite things — and you can share some of your favorite things as well. This is a way to discover some cool stuff from folks like you, and to spread the word about some of the things you love.
Fans: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!
1. Fans only: That means that authors and creators may not post about their own work in this thread (they may post about other people’s work, if they are fans). There are already existing threads for traditionally-published authors, non-traditionally published authors, and for other creators. Those are the places to post about your own work, not here.
2. Individually created and completed works only, please. Which is to say, don’t promote things like a piece of hardware you can find at Home Depot, shoes from Foot Locker, or a TV you got at Wal-Mart. Focus on things created by one person or a small group: Music, books, crafts and such. Things that you’ve discovered and think other people should know about, basically. Do not post about works in progress, even if they’re posted publicly elsewhere. Remember that this is supposed to be a gift guide, and that these are things meant to be given to other people. So focus on things that are completed and able to be sold of shared.
3. One post per fan. In that post, you can list whatever creations you like, from more than one person if you like, but allow me to suggest you focus on newer stuff. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on things available in North America. If they are from or available in other countries, please note that!
4. Keep your description of the work brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about the work and is interested but easily distracted.
5. You may include a link to a sales site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.
6. Comment posts that are not about fans promoting work they like will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting gifts.
Got it? Excellent. Now: Geek out and tell us about cool stuff you love — and where we can get it too.
Ooh, am I the first to comment? How exciting! I wanted to talk up two short stories that have just been released by Demain Publishing, perfect for fans of the kind of classic horror in Creep Show and Tales From the Crypt:
hear Old Slosh by Ryan Bevan and The Wind Chill Factor by Ryan Bevan
Do you like to laugh? Do you need to laugh? Do you want to laugh in the company of kids / seek occasional comedy that’s clean and fair fun? Have I got a treat for you!
Grammy-nominated musician/comedian Billy Kelly is funny, goofy, and a nice guy to boot! You can find him all sorts of places including:
My First Comedy Album on Bandcamp: https://billykellycomedy.bandcamp.com/album/my-first-comedy-album
Audible – This is a Family Show: https://www.audible.com/pd/Billy-Kelly-This-Is-a-Family-Show-Audiobook/B084N8WWSC?qid=1607004509&sr=1-1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=83218cca-c308-412f-bfcf-90198b687a2f&pf_rd_r=5M8X88BCFXEA0373F2GY
And his music for kids on many fine download and streaming services: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/billy-kelly/211573012
I am a huge fan of Lisa Snellings – and her Etsy page is worth visiting even if you’re not looking to buy anything:
I am a big Big fan of https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/UnusualFrequency My wife got a hoodie recently, with a beautiful embroidered snow owl on the back, and it’s super soft and warm. It also was shipped super fast.
For anyone who needs to give a gift to someone who likes to sew/quilt/make, Fish Museum and Circus has absolutely adorable (and high quality) ceramic pincushions that look like imaginary creatures: https://fishmuseumandcircus.com
Beth Baldwin (Tigerflight) is a crafter who makes non-traditional pillows and stuffed animals out of recycled materials. You can find all kinds of cool owls, dinosaurs, squirrels, and anteaters in her etsy shop, along with handmade, practical items like face masks and aprons. She’ll even make a custom pillow of your pet! And she’s a lovely person. https://www.etsy.com/shop/tigerflight
Michele Banks (Artologica) art draws from microbiology & neuroscience to create colorful and dramatic art that brings joy and inspiration. Not only does her subject matter connect with the sciences, but her creative approach to her watercolor & ink methods draws directly on the spirit of experimentation.
The translation of her art onto scarves & ties make for unique gifts.
She is also a national leader in rating of squirrels for adorableness & style.
Hand carved wooden art in the form of utensils and practical things. The ornaments are particularly fun and unexpected. (Niko also has a wonderful dog.)
I’m a fan of the author T. Kingfisher and recomend her recent novels Paladin’s Grace and Swordheart if the gift buyer has a person on their list who likes light fantasy-romance novels. In these books her author voice is a bit like Jenny Lawson, rather arch, but mostly gentle. Moderately diverse side characters in terms of sexuality though the main romances so far have all been heterosexual.
Are you a piano teacher and/or player who wishes there were more classical pieces available by women composers for you/your students to play? Check out the YouTube channel “Piano Music, She Wrote”
On a quest to find more piano music written by women for students to incorporate in their repertoire, pianists Sandra Mogensen and Erica Ann Sipes have combed through the IMSLP collection at https://imslp.org/wiki/Main_Page to select what they believe to be excellent and appropriate options. They are recording their favorites to put here on YouTube.
Want to easily find scores for those pieces and others, rated by difficulty? Purchase access to their ever-growing spreadsheet and send the link to your pianist friends – $10 per person to whom you give the link:
“We have spent countless hours over several months, cataloguing ALL of the piano music written by women, that is found on imslp.org, & we are sharing this document with you! For $10 USD, you will have access to ALL of this information. FREE scores for over 2,500 pieces of music, copyright info, an assessment of the level of difficulty of each piece, & each composer’s nationality & dates, if known. This spreadsheet will continually be updated, as the imslp database grows. 10 % of your donation will be forwarded directly to imslp, while the rest helps fund the ongoing work and growth of the Piano Music She Wrote project.
If you wish to purchase access for multiple people, please adjust the quantity.”
Pet prints by Jessie are different than anything I’ve seen in that category. The reason they look so much like your pet is because – they are your pet! You send her a favorite photo and she distills it into the essence of your precious, whether cat, dog, iguana, etc. They are surprisingly inexpensive, nicely framed and ready to hang or give as a gift. Check out her work on Instagram @southerlyprints or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Are you a fan of beautiful jewelry? Like supporting individual artists? Wings is a master silversmith and an enrolled member of Taos Pueblo, and he makes amazing hand crafted silver jewelry, often incorporating natural stones like turquoise, lapis, onyx, etc. Each piece is unique; though if you see something in his galleries marked as sold, he is happy to make you a version all your own. The homepage is http://wingssilverwork.com/ or, if you’re on a mobile device, it may be easiest to use this link which takes you directly to his works: http://wingssilverwork.com/category/all/thesilverwork/
Hi wife, Aji, writes a daily blog about the silverwork and photography, featuring one or more pieces and detailing backstory, techniques, etc. That can be found on the site as well, at this link:
http://wingssilverwork.com/category/all/thendnsilver-blog/ The photos may also be purchased as prints (I have two!), and I can attest that everything Wings creates is of the highest quality.
My friend Wendy, Countess Matilda in the SCA, is a metalsmith who researches and makes pieces based on Anglo-Saxon artifacts, as well as other items.
Like this: a rune ring that says “Cake or Death” in runes: https://www.etsy.com/listing/696012513/cake-or-death-anglo-saxon-rune-ring
Her whole etsy shop is here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CountessStudio
Her work is really unique and might just make the perfect gift for that hard to shop for historical geek.
I would like to bring attention to J.M. Guillen’s book “Rationality Zero”: https://www.amazon.com/Rationality-Zero-Supernatural-Adventure-Dossiers-ebook/dp/B07DGM8XRG , the first in his series, “The Dossiers of Asset 108”.
When I’d finished reading this book, I immediate yearned for a cross-over between this setting, and Charles Stross’ Laundry books; they both have a “There’s a much bigger, and not-exactly-user-friendly” universe out there—and it’s coming for Our Hero, at speed!” factor to them that works so well for my taste for Terrible Things With Tentacles—while at the same time being distinct from other Lovecraftian Horror that I have read.
As the series progresses, that distinctiveness only becomes more marked; I’m currently waiting with great anticipation for the next book to come out.
Do you love sending hand-written cards and letters? Want to let people know you’re thinking of them even in these socially-distant times? Try the hand-stitched fabric notecards at Pelham’s Paperie!
The woman who runs the shop has a huge variety. The cards are wonderfully tactile and are a great size – big enough to write something substantial, but not so large that you get intimidated by the space and overthink it. The cards come in packs of six with two different colors of matching envelopes.
Okay, I’ve been getting these author planners for the past couple of years and I can’t say enough good things about them! Seriously, it’s like getting an accountant, a life coach, a social media assistant and an accountability partner all rolled into one–a terrific way to organize your writing and treat it like the business that it is! All the reviews seem to be on Amazon, but I prefer the coil-bound version on Lulu. Get one for the author in your life–even if that’s you!
The 2021 Author’s Planner: <a href="https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/audrey-ann-hughey/the-2021-authors-planner/paperback/product-9j2j5q.html"
One of my favorite books, Nameless Magery by Delia Marshall Turner, is finally available in ebook after she got the rights back and published it on Kindle herself.
“ Raised and trained to be the Queen of her peaceful world, Lisane speaks directly to magic in its own language, and works her spells with magic’s glad consent and cooperation.
But when she is abducted by the Enforcers of the Empire, she escapes their clutches only to land on a backward planet where only males can be wizards and where practicing magic is a matter of strength and sheer will. She must learn to make her way in a world where wielding power goes against everything she believes, and where every action she takes is questioned.
With her kingdom forsaken, and with her own people lost to her, Lisane must carve out a place for herself, offend everyone in power on her new world, seize love and friendship in all the wrong places and in the process, protect her annoying new world from being invaded in turn .
Luckily, Lisane is up to the challenge. But will her new world survive her?”
Do you harbour a secret desire to get your old Atari 8-bit computer onto the internet? There’s an ongoing project, spearheaded by Thom Cherryhomes, that’s sufficiently mature that you can now buy the FujiNet – an Atari 8-bit to WiFi connection. It emulates disk drives over the internet, modem connections, a virtual printer outputting to PDFs, and there are developers working on games.
A fifteen minute intro to FujiNet is online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izdCLDQ1ZxU
Available for sale at a variety of outlets including:
The Brewing Academy: https://thebrewingacademy.com/collections/atari-800-xl-xe-xel-xld/products/fujinet-a-swiss-army-knife-for-your-atari
The Vintage Computer Center: https://www.vintagecomputercenter.com/fujinet
Like cats? Like zombies?
You’ll love Byron Rempel!
Support living artists and get awesome swag:
John put Shriekback’s “Nemesis” on his Hallowe’en dance playlist this year, so I want to expand on that- Shriekback is still around, still creating. Their catalog spans nearly 40 years now, and it’s some of the most inventive and eclectic (and relentlessly funky) music I’ve ever heard. They’re the first band that made me look up a word in their lyrics (“oddly enough, not “parthenogenesis”- it was “anacrucis”)… look them up at https://shriekback.com/
Also, a friend turned me on to the webcomic “Kill Six Billion Demons” this year… intricate and fascinating worldbuilding and mythology, a strong female protagonist, amazing (and amazingly funny at times) dialogue, and glorious art inspired by Wayne Douglas Barlowe and Moebius. The first several volumes are out in graphic novel format (published by Image) and the webcomic itself is on it’s culminating arc. https://killsixbilliondemons.com/
Not that I’ll be the first to tell you, but The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells are awesome:
I guess you can’t tell a story from the point of view of something that you don’t think has a point of view.”
Rebecca Loebe makes music that I’ve been enjoying:
I could shut down the city
Throw you a parade
With circus tents and elephants
I could be Barnum or Bailey
An army of Rockettes
But I can’t compete with her in that dress
Le Fae Rouge makes cute and comfortable undies for a variety of genders! https://www.etsy.com/shop/LeFaeRouge
Bloom Consignments is run by a childhood friend and had the misfortune to open just a few months before the pandemic started. She’s made an admirable pivot to entirely online sales through Instagram and Facebook and is doing her best to keep her dream alive! https://instagram.com/bloom.consignments
You’re hunkered down, closed in by the four walls of your humble abode which seems to be ever more humble as the days tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick by with a sound like the web worm pellets falling from your maple tree when suddenly you think, “I should just renovate this kitchen RIGHT NOW!”
A completely reasonable urge in an unreasonable time. However, a little insight can make the renovation project go a lot easier. So, get “Kitchen Think” by Nancy Hiller (available at Lost Art Press here: Kitchen Think” ).
And, if you decide you need to make some Windsor chairs to go in that new kitchen, get Peter Galbert’s “Chairmaker’s Notebook” here: Chairmaker’s Notebook”
I’ve read both books and I a big fan of both makers – smart, funny, and down to earth.
I all seriousness, these books will thrill the woodworkers in your life (they are out there by the woodpile).
I found beautiful glass mosaics inspired by nature here. She also custom designs work. Besides stained glass pieces and wall art, she sells plaques, planters, birdbaths, small tables, etc.
Today’s joyous discovery was that Nalo Hopkinson has a Spoonflower shop for gorgeous, whimsical, funny and fun fabrics: https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/nalo_hopkinson
Do you love geeky and nerdy tee shirts? Do I have the place for you. Ray and Barb Vantilberg of https://www.offworlddesigns.com/, Off World Designs are some the nicest people around. They also make some of the most fun convention gear you will every see. Vendors from our conventions are having a really tough time right now. Buy something from one of your favorites convention vendors. And look at Off Worlds stuff as well.
Any interest in downtempo electronic music? One of my favorite artists, Bendu, is releasing a new 7″ tomorrow (12/4) on vinyl.
Limited edition, and it’s Bandcamp Friday! Make your favorite collector of obscure vinyl happy!
I’ve got a LOT of faves! BHUpcycled https://www.bhupdesigns.com makes gorgeous pieces out of older sweaters/etc. Some really pretty stuff. I have a skirt and a “coat” from her. There’s Hartford Flavor company which makes gluten free liqueurs (and sanitizer) https://hartford-flavor-company.square.site and The Leather Genie/Grassilini Creations https://www.grassillinicreations.com Also love the lip balm (and the saddle soap) from https://www.lyrichillfarm.com (and her regular soaps are great too). I also like Treefort for soaps as well.https://www.treefortnaturals.com
I never miss the opportunity to tout the amazing jewelry of Angelwear Creations. Angela Jones-Parker, artist and jeweler, designs and makes incredible, high-quality items, many with fantasy, SF, steampunk, or pagan themes. The work is gorgeous and the quality of workmanship is matchless.
She mostly works in semiprecious stones and silver, to keep the price point affordable. She’ll do custom work in gold and pricier stones if you like (she did our wedding rings). Her shop currently includes an amazing line of gorgeous stud earrings, so we can dress up our masked faces without getting things tangled!
Lots of pet lovers here, so I would like to throw out as link to Ava’s Pet Palace. . Ava is a young black girl entrepreneur who makes awesome homemade dog and cat treats.
I need to second the praise for the Murderbot series by Martha Wells (mentioned above). There’s four novellas and a full length novel, and all are high quality. I recommend that you start at the beginning, since the later books build on the previous ones, and especially the novel assumes you’ve read others.
Darlingside, a four-person singer-songwriter group that does close harmony that will melt your heart. Their most recent album, Fish Pond Fish, was completed during the pandemic.
Nell Latimer a printmaker in England. She ships carefully and beautifully packaged artwork to the U.S.
Anyone enjoy pantomimes? They’re a rather British institution, full of music, comedy and oodles of innuendo. Every year, the London-based Charles Court Opera company lets their hair down with a festive panto. This year, alas, there is no live performance. But the show must go on(line)! For a festive musical treat for yourselves, family or friends, why not try a streaming performance of Snow White in the Seven Months of Lockdown? The show is available in adult and family-friendly versions.
I’d like to recommend two excellent non-fiction books that I have read this year, both about the same subject – “The Sierra Adventure” by Shawn Mills and “Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings” by Ken Williams. Both books tell the story of the rise and fall of Sierra Online, one of the leading computer game development companies of the 1980s and the 1990s. While many people think of Sierra today as the company that made adventure games, both books show how the company went far beyond that – how it took chances with new technologies, new genres and how it pretty much pioneered online gaming as we know it, without getting sufficient credit. Mills’ book is more of a chronological history of the company, based on interviews made with many former employees, while Williams (the company’s founder and former CEO) wrote a more personal book, which also reflects on his philosophies on game design and management. I found Williams’ book more enjoyable, but both are recommended – and since both books were self-published, they deserve more attention than they got. Check out Ken’s book on Amazon:
And Mills’ book on his website: