Whatever Holiday Gift Guide 2021, Day Four: Fan Favorites!

For the first three days of the Whatever Gift Guide 2021, 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 authorsnon-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.

29 Comments on “Whatever Holiday Gift Guide 2021, Day Four: Fan Favorites!”

  1. Karen A. Wyle – I'm an appellate attorney, an author, a photographer, a politics junkie, and a Hoosier (aka intermittent fan of IU basketball). My published work (aside from law review/legal journal articles) includes multiple science fiction novels, some near future and some involving other planets, equipped with aliens. More recently, I've veered off into historical romance, specifically a series called Cowbird Creek and set in 1870s Nebraska. I've also published one nonfiction book, Closest to the Fire: A Writer's Guide to Law and Lawyers. While originally intended to help writers use accurate details in their legal settings and expand the scope of such stories, I realized while writing it -- and have heard from readers -- that it could also be of use and interest to students, immigrants, and anyone interested in better understanding the American legal landscape. My other blog, Looking Around, is at http://looking-around.blogspot.com.
    Karen A. Wyle

    I’ve been reading SF for 50+ years and fantasy for 10+, and M.C.A. Hogarth is at the top of my list of favorite authors of both. You can find lists and descriptions of her many books at this link: https://mcahogarth.org/writing/

  2. I’ve gotten really into serialized web fiction over the past year. I’ve got 3 recommendations that you can grab on the kindle store, although you can read most of them for free on the authors websites.

    The Wandering Inn – I adore this series. It’s what got me reading the whole web serial thing in the first place. The main character is a chess player from our world who ends up in a fantasy land. She deals with it by starting an inn. It’s like a slice of life meets epic fantasy. It builds these complex and interesting characters that you really care about. It might be a little slow to start, but it comes together to make these huge epic stories.

    He Who Fights with Monsters – Similar deal. Guy from our world ends in a fantasy world and has to deal with it. Characters are fun and it’s a really fast read. I binged the 9 volumes (4 kindle, 5 for free getting turned into kindle books as the edit them) in 3 weeks.

    Mother of Learning – Groundhog day meets fantasy magic school. The first arc of this one just got edited and released in Kindle and it’s great. If you’re giving a gift to someone who likes time loop stories, highly recommend this one.

  3. Nathan Lowell is a vastly underappreciated science fiction writer. He writes “comfortable” SF in a way that brings you along for the ride without the usual galaxy saving tropes found in the work of many other authors.

    Also, since many of my gift-giving opportunities are for women I have found jewelry to be the perfect gift. Belaurient Arts Jewelry fills the bill quite nicely.

    https://www.etsy.com/shop/belaurientarts

    She’s also listed in yesterday’s Artist and Makers blog entry.

  4. stevedegroof – Steve is an expat Canadian who now lives in North Carolina. He has worked, at one time or other, as: a TV repairman, a security guard at a children's hospital, and a janitor in a strip club. His current day job is as a computer programmer for a bank, which doesn't involve nearly as much being electrocuted and cleaning up vomit. He has a patent for a "Folding Stereoscopic Computer Display", which sounds a lot more impressive than it really is. He has created various "artworks", including: - a baby woolly mammoth with a jetpack (which doesn't actually fly) - a Giger counter (not a typo) - a clockwork orange (a bowler-hat-wearing, wind-up piece of fruit that plays "Singing in the Rain") - a clock in the shape of Rick Astley that chimes "Never Gonna Give You Up" on the hour (for which he is sincerely sorry).
    Steve DeGroof

    I quite like the “Stealing from Wizards” books from R. A. Consell. Definitely worth reading if you’re looking for a series about a wizarding school, but not that one.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B093WZCCTY

  5. I’m sharing the gift of rock and roll! A friend of mine from the Boston area is in a band that has started to gain some national attention. Recently, they’ve been on tour supporting Tesla all over the Midwest and South. Good old bluesy rock from the boys in Bad Marriage
    https://www.badmarriagemusic.com/

  6. Shriekback (the 80’s electronica band whose music appeared in “Manhunter” and at least one episode of Miami Vice (Michael Mann = big fan of theirs) and whose video for “Nemesis” scared MTV so badly they refused to air it, is still together and still making music.

    More info and their store link at their site: https://www.shriekback.com/

  7. Tea can be both fuel and comfort, so here are several small businesses selling good tea:

    Bingley’s Teas has a delightful Jane Austen tea series and many other good teas.

    Brooklyn Tea sells a really good milk oolong and so much more.

    Ini Sips has an Assam BOP that is a must-have for this household, and they do many caffeine-free herbal blends as well.

    Plum Deluxe, like some others mentioned in this list, can set you up with a tea subscription as well as sell you individual packages. I’m working my way through their Tea Advent Calendar right now, and it’s educational as well as tasty. They also have butterfly pea flowers in case you want to play with color-changing brews.

    Happy tea-drinking to all who indulge!

  8. My wife Amanda’s online-only bakery, NotPie, was created to help people celebrate others with amazing treats through the mail. There will be some amazing holiday treats and the subscriptions are always a big hit.

    If there is a vegan, gluten-free or sugar-free/keto person in your life, this is 🤯

    As it turns out, 100% of people love getting treats in the mail 🤷‍♂️

    https://notpie.com

  9. A favorite of mine who seems to be underappreciated is Michael Gruber. He crosses genres, but for me he’s at his best with something I’d call gritty and realistic contemporary supernatural fantasy. My highest recommendation goes to his earlier (traditionally published) Jimmy Paz series, starting with Tropic of Night (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/928632), but his most recent work is self published, including
    Amnesia Dreams (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49408246) and The Long Con (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52781020).

  10. Now that I’ve purchased the latest 3 “Murderbot Diaries” books by Martha Wells for one of my sci-fi loving sons, I’m casting about for works from authors he hasn’t heard of. First up, I think, will be the Budayeen Cycle books of George Alec Effinger: “When Gravity Fails”, “A Fire in the Sun”, and “The Exile Kiss”. These terrific books, by an author who left us too soon, deserve to be remembered.

  11. Looking for gorgeous Native silver jewelry, handcrafted using traditional techniques by an Indigenous silversmith? Check out http://wingssilverwork.com/ (works best on a desktop site; tablets & phones may need to be turned sideways to access the menus). Pins, Earrings, Cuffs, Rings, Necklaces, Barrettes, and more are available; each piece is unique. I own several pieces, and they are exceptionally beautiful & high quality.

  12. Brendan Halpin has been one of my favorite authors for… twenty years or so? He’s been indie publishing for the last few years and put his books up on Gumroad so people can read them for free, if they so choose:

    https://bhalpin.gumroad.com/

    Legacy is his latest — a take on the recent college admission scandal. It’s a bit of a slow burn, but the ending made it all worth it.

    Mallory O’Meara is a bit more new to the scene, and looks like she doesn’t need anyone to push her work, but I really enjoyed her first book (The Lady from the Black Lagoon) and I’m digging her second, Girly Drinks, which covers the history of women and alcohol. It’s just page after page of fun history:

    http://www.malloryomeara.com/books

    Finally, another author I dig is Hillary Monahan, but in this case she also hand-makes jewelry along with some other folks and sells it. Really cool stuff, and well worth a peak:

    https://www.peculiarityshop.com/

  13. Caitlin Kiernan’s Sirenia Digest, their monthly weird fiction offering – highly recommended. It predates Paetron and other such funding efforts, and is based on the good old subscription concept. I’ve been a subscriber since the beginning and have always enjoyed it. For those of you who are familiar with their short fiction, many of the pieces in recent collections were first introduced in the digest.

    Enjoy!
    http://www.caitlinrkiernan.com/sirenia/home.php

  14. Zentangle. It’s a wonderfully simple meditative drawing method that provides hours of restful patterning for those of us who are anxious, sleepless or needing a nonthreatening creative release. They have a gift shop! Find out more at Zentangle.com

  15. I’m a big fan of a webcomic called Modest Medusa by Jake Richmond. It’s about the misadventures of a cute baby medusa who came through a portal from Yeld to to our world and loves chocodiles. Each of her hair snakes has its own personality. There’s a chainsaw unicorn and weasel pirates and chain smoking mermaids and it’s a lot of fun, although it can also take a turn for the serious. I believe the webcomic has been around for a decade now.

    http://modestmedusa.com/

  16. Scotto Moore’s Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You has been out for a while (2019). Zany, lively science fiction, with a story line that confirms the thesis of the title. 128 pp in paperback. The usual formats and outlets (or http://scotto.org/). Suitable for the most passionate music fan in your circle, particularly if an intervention is required. Evergreen.

  17. Thumbs up for the Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirsten:
    https://www.amazon.com/Steerswoman-Rosemary-Kirstein/dp/0345357620

    My favorite part is still when our protagonist works out the basis of orbital dynamics based on observed evidence of strange objects falling from the sky.

    I will also second the recommendation of the Budayeen Cycle:
    https://www.amazon.com/When-Gravity-Fails-Classic-Cyberpunk/dp/0765313588/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Effinger&qid=1638513654&s=books&sr=1-2

    Happy Reading!

  18. I also want to suggest the books of Nathan Lowell See the book list on his site They are available as ebooks from Amazon, Many were originally distributed as audio POD books.

    The first book of the “Share Series” begins “Call me Ishmael” — because that is the character’s name. This series (which the author calls “Trader Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clippers”) tell the story of Ishmael Horatio Wang as he rises from a newly joined quarter-share apprentice spacer, through senior crew, to a position as captain and shipowner. This is a serious of space travel stories with no space wars or even a space navy, not even in the background, nor any cosmic plots. Rather it is focused on character development and the economics of commercial interstellar trading. The series consists of Quarter Share , Half Share , Full Share, Double Share, Captain’s Share , and Owner’s Share ,

    The author has also written several other SF series set in the same universe, and several fantasy novels. I can recommend them all.

    I Must also suggest Naomi Novik’s 2015 novel Uprooted This uses some very traditional fantasy elements (as James Nicoll puts it: ” maiden tithe, exile to a strange household, the plucky lead, her sudden discovery of her special Destiny, the unfortunate clash between her romantic illusions about the dashing prince and the reality that he is as dumb as a box of Stuarts”) to make a rather untraditional book. Very good stuff IMO.

  19. I’ve become a huge fan of two authors these past couple years.

    First Ryan Van Loan for his books The Sin in the Steel and the Justice in Revenge. Great action adventure with a little bit of politics, magic, and romance.

    My favorite book of 2021 was The Great American Deception. A mystery novel set in a futuristic continent spanning mall. Oh, and narrated by a sentient coffee machine robot. Hilarious and innovative, been compared to Douglas Adams which is apt

    I’ve reviewed all theee of these on Amazon and Goodreads. Check them out!

  20. I first found Borsa Bella way back in 2010 when I was looking for something to protect my OG Kindle and accessories. At the time, Melissa only made Kindle and laptop bags.

    Since then she has expanded to purses, RFID wallets, backpacks, catch-all bags, sunglasses cases, and masks. Everything is hand made and lasts – the fabric of my original bag has worn out and frayed, but not her stitching!

    I have a LOT of Borsa Bella stuff – my Black Friday purchase just arrived today, as a matter of fact. She has tons of choices, and is really easy to work with if you want something in a different fabric from what is shown on the webpage.

    She doesn’t have a physical storefront, but she does go to markets and craft shows in Washington state, if you’re local to her area and want to see things in person.

    https://borsabella.com/

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