Whatever Holiday Gift Guide 2022, Day Four: Fan Favorites!
Posted on December 1, 2022 Posted by John Scalzi 41 Comments
For the first three days of the Whatever Gift Guide 2022, 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.
Thanks for inviting us to talk about our favorite artists, John!
I stopped by to tell you all about a good friend and terrific artist named Ashley Corbello. Ashley, based in Independence, MO, is a supremely gifted artist who only paints animals, especially custom pet portraits. She painted a stunning portrait of my two cats, and she did an incredible job of capturing not only their appearances but also their personalities. Ashley is purely a delight to work with, and the process of developing the design with her is loads of fun. If you have a pet (or have lost a pet) that you would like to immortalize on canvas, I have no hesitation in recommending her work.
While Ashley’s turnaround time of two months for a custom pet portrait would make it impossible at this point to commission a portrait in time for the holidays, she also has a number of original paintings, prints, notecards, leggings and t-shirts with her art available. The prints are all on archival quality paper and will last for decades.
Ashley’s website can be found at https://www.ashleycorbello.com/. I hope you will check it out – and happy holidays!
So my fellow writer Don Hunt has just released his first fantasy novel, “Singletons in Peril.” It’s an urban fantasy. Here’s an excerpt from my review – link to buy below.
“The Singletons are a family of four led by single mother Kim Singleton. Kim has a drug problem, which is not helpful in the best of times. This is not the best of times as Kim has had to take her family on the run. The novel opens with the family in a weird bookstore in Chicago which they ended up while running from Rockville. Kim’s two daughters, teenager Julie and kindergartener Elizabeth, meet a dwarf in the shop, and then the family is attacked by people with otherworldly weapons. Things get weirder from there.”
For editors and writers who are interested in editing, two recommendations:
Jack Lyon’s “Tales of the Pen Master”, reviewed here: http://geoff-hart.com/articles/2022/review-pen-master.html
For editors, Adrienne Montgomerie’s “Editing in Word” (https://eiw365.com/)
Is it alright if I fan over my wife?
She makes beautiful vintage digital faux ephemera sets to be used in making scrapbooks, junk journals, Christmas cards, or any other paper-related crafting. Her packs are often much larger than they should be for such great prices, compared to other shops of the same type!
All of her sets are available on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/GuidedCreation
Compression gloves are great for doing a lot of writing or typing, or for anyone with carpal tunnel or a bit of finger joint pain, and I love these Galaxy Compression Gloves https://bibipins.com/products/galaxy-compression-gloves. Especially useful in always-chilly con hotels. You’ll be supporting a disabled and minority owned business, too.
Emily Lakdawalla makes space/planet inspired jewelry – we’ve purchased some of the planet/moon derived earrings – so pretty. She also is the author of books on spacecraft and you can get signed copies
Jess at Works of Whimsy Studios creates the most AMAZING geeky home enhancers! Her Driftglobe Lamps – giant wooden D20’s that light up – are especially gorgeous, and everyone should own one.
Winter is drab and colorful paintings of flowers help dispel the myth that it will never end. Jennifer paints originals of riotously colorful flowers. You can see her stuff at:
Give her stuff a look and hold off the Winter blahs.
BettySoo is an Austin, TX based singer-songwriter, artist, and creative genius. A few years ago, she created the Work Play Everyday planner/organizer to help like-minded creatives keep track of their lives with a focus on developing a healthy work/play balance.
Filled with dot-grid pages, stickers, and lots of healthy affirmation, it’s a wonderful analog tool for the digital age.
Stacie reuses finds from garage and estate sales to create wonderfully colorful and unusual jewelry. You can find her at https://heartifactory.com/.
I come to sing the praises of the inimitable Chuck Wendig.
If you haven’t read his work, a few recent titles are THE BOOK OF ACCIDENTS, WANDERERS and it’s follow-up WAYWARD, and his first middle grade novel, DUST& GRIM.
A wonderful storyteller who will not disappoint you.
Hana Michels is an L.A. based comedian who has translated her sense of humor into a collection of unique earrings, keychains, fridge magnets, and other craft items. How unique, you ask? Well, let’s just say, one of the categories at her shop is “Garfield Abominations.” Check out these and the rest of of her offerings at https://www.etsy.com/shop/CatButtBoutique
Please let me introduce you to Bissie’s: a custom cake and desserts business based in New York City. Bissie ships her creations everywhere in the US, including holiday themed dessert bags.
Check it out at: https://www.bissiebakes.com/
I would like to recommend ALL the Breaking Cat News books. I believe there’s six of them now, the most recent being Pucky, Prince of Bacon. They all have coloring or paperdoll or suchlike pages in the back, very suitable for a cat-loving child’s gift. If you think cats are weird, but love them anyway, buy some Breaking Cat News for yourself while you’re at it.
Sherwood Smith’s Sartorias-deles series. I’ve been reading them for decades, from hand-written first drafts through various rewrites to publication.
Jarrett Krosoczka, award-winning author/illustrator (Hey, Kiddo), will do pen-and-ink drawings of your kids/grandkids/pets. My kids and grandkids are all graphic novel fans, and last year I gave my (grown) kids each a picture of their kids. https://www.studiojjk.com/shop
Are you a fan of hand-crafted Native jewelry, or know someone who is who would love a gift for the holidays? Then check out http://wingssilverwork.com/ For current inventory, hover over Galleries -> Silverwork and select a category.
The silversmith, Wings, is a member of Taos Pueblo; his wife Aji writes the piece descriptions and longer blog posts daily (under “The NDN Silver Blog”) that go in-depth on specific pieces and also reflect on daily life. Every piece Wings crafts is unique, and he never duplicates an item exactly, although he will make something similar that is uniquely yours if you see an item you like that is sold. Use the contact form on the website to order.
Aji & Wings are like family to me, and I can attest to the quality of his works, in addition to their beauty (I almost always get compliments when I wear one of his pieces). Also, they invest part of each sale back into their community, helping others in need. They are some of the best people I know.
One of my favorite music artists is Reina Del Cid – has been posting covers on Sundays for about 10 years with increasing amounts of original material. A self described Science Fiction nerd, she has written many space themed songs – Carl Sagan, Cassiopeia, Roswell etc. I particularly like “The Cooling” a song from the point of view of someone becoming a Zombie. Her musical partner Toni Lindgren is amazing – probably the best guitar player you have never heard of.
Recommendations for books that I have been extolling left and right:
Celia Lake’s Albion series. She has 7 each in the first and second series (Mysterious Charm and Mysterious Powers) as well as other stand-alones and short stories. Signing up for newsletter (once/week) gives you access to the freebies (more understandable if you’ve read the novels but will give you a taste of her writing). They are set in fantasy Britain (mostly) between WWI and WWII in which magic works but is hidden. Some characters are not neurotypical and she does excellent modeling of consent in the relationships. Each book has some sort of mystery and a romance. The 2 I mention the most are Pastiche (set earlier in Edwardian England where a married couple become involved in exposing possible art fraud while improving a marriage which is withering from assumptions ingrained from childhood examples) and Eclipse (which I describe as what you would get if Jane Austen wrote about an ordinary year at Hogwarts from the teachers’ points of view).
M.C.A. Hogarth Pelted universe series. She has other series published but I have only read some of her Pelted books. I have read the series that starts with Mindtouch (space elf goes to medical school complicated by his touch telepathy) and Earthrise (space ship captain perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy has note called in and must rescue space elf spy before he is sold to pirates). Lots of connected stories about the political changes caused by increasing friction with the Chatcaavan Empire (she does have a series focusing on events in the Empire but since that includes things like torture, rape, and slavery, the events in those six books are available as a summary if you read purely for light escape).
Above page summarizes the mood of each grouping of books (adventure, dark, pastoral, etc).
Naomi Novik’s Scholomance series. I have only read the first 2 (the second ends on cliffhanger) but the third is out now (waiting on my son to finish and send home). The trials of navigating a magic school where the energy for magic has to come from somewhere and some people are genetically predisposed to find it easier to steal and use magic for bad purposes meanwhile horrible magic critters keep finding a way in so that only a portion of each incoming class makes it to and then through graduation. We have a snarky heroine determined to avoid giving in to her affinity for dark and destructive magic being unnecessarily rescued by the school’s golden hero while sure that his rescue success with other students is upsetting the school ecosystem. A reviewer did note that the feel of the series is very different from her Temeraire (dragons in the Napoleonic wars) and her fairytale takeoffs (Uprooted and Spinning Silver) which I also recommend but agree with the distinction.
A Deadly Education
The Last Graduate
The Golden Enclaves
My friend Jessica has made a soft, cuddly blanket that doubles as a divination system! Her Etsy shop has other lovely art, tarot cards, and t-shirts too.
My friend Jessica has made a soft, cuddly blanket that doubles as a divination system! Her Etsy shop has other lovely art, tarot cards, and t-shirts too.
Any fans of Victoria Goddard’s excellent books The Hands of the Emperor and The Return of Fitzroy Angursell should know that the latest in the series, At the Feet of the Sun, is just out and it’s great!
Note that if you haven’t read the first two, it will make no sense at all, but if you haven’t read the first two, what a treat you have coming!
I bought my daughter a murder cat enamel pin from Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/644928321 In person, it looks the same as the pictures. The creator offers different cat colors (as well as other, non-murderous animals).
Since I’ve gotten so many great ideas from these posts over the years I figure I should pay it forward!
If you like Victorian Steampunk with vampires, werewolves, and feisty heroines check out Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate Series.
If you want steamy romance with urban fantasy characters try Isabel Jordan’s Harper Hall Investigations series.
Thin Man fans should definitely read Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Spare Man. Or listen to it, she’s an amazing narrator.
I would also recommend Wednesday on Netflix, as John tweeted, it is indeed Spooky Daria at Goth Hogwarts.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Shriekback, my favorite band, has just come out with a new album! They’ve been serving up witty, intricate, seething, weird, and cool post-punk/electronica for over 4 years now. They’re the first band to ever make me go to the dictionary to look up a word (“anacrusis”) in a lyric.
Find out more about the band, the album, and how to buy it and other music and stuff from them here: https://shriekback.com/home
Ack, Shriekback has been around for over 40 years, not 4. Sorry.
I’d imagine that John’s audience here would enjoy the artwork of Karen Hallion – https://www.karenhallion.com – who illustrates ladies and gentlemen from both reality and fantasy/sci-fi worlds.
Doctor Who and Star Wars feature strongly, with various mashups and mixtures. And the occasional cat.
Our real world figures include mostly female scientists, artists, policitians and thinkers.
She has stickers, prints, pins and more.
Several friends of mine run an Etsy shop together. Kim does custom tarot/divinatory card readings, and Jen makes decorative lanterns from mason jars that are solar powered (as well as a few other crafts). Many of them are video game/anime themed, and Jen’s taken commissions before. (Though doesn’t have a spot on her shop set up for it; Kim handles most of the shop communication, and has forwarded requests) They also sell jewelry created by Jen’s late wife.
I have one of the lanterns myself, and they do make nice outdoor pieces, though they fade with sun exposure.
My boy ItemCrafting creates game-themed jewelry and accessories. Splatoon hairclips, Pokémon earrings, and more!
My Sister Anne Nydam makes block prints and writes books which in my somewhat biased opinion are pretty good. Her Black and White blog combines these passions along with other interesting topics. She also has links to her work there.
Check it out, and support the Artisan Web
My friend Chelsea recently started a killer sock company called Footclothes. https://footclothes.com/ She has all kinds of amazing sock designs – horror, sci fi, goth, occult, alternative, you name it. Her designer does an amazing job and she has worked really hard to source high quality manufacturing. They’re also super comfy, very stretchy, and very sturdy. We bought everyone socks last Christmas and I’m gonna do it again.
I love and highly recommend any of the wonderful SF by M.C.A. Hogarth. Her various SF series end up coming together, but one can start with the Dreamhealers series (fascinating, touching, less intense), the Princes’ Game series (intense, a fair amount of sex and violence, high stakes, character arcs with major positive changes made under stress), or any of the others. Here’s the Amazon page for her: https://www.amazon.com/M-C-A-Hogarth/e/B00448EEPQ
For stunning photo art, check out Jim Wright’s Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/Stonekettle. If you’re lucky, you might also have a chance to get one of his beautiful wooden pens.
Also a great follow on Twitter (while it lasts), Facebook, and Instagram.
Morgan McBride makes the most lovely mugs and bowls – https://www.muggsstudio.com/shop
I’ve been a long-time fan of Lisa Snellings’ work. She’s an artist with a focus on sculpture, but also dabbles in drawing, prints, and writing. She’s collaborated with Gene Wolfe, Peter Beagle, and Neil Gaiman, among others. In addition to her larger artworks, she runs an Etsy shop where she sells smaller, individually hand-crafted sculptures. All are wonderful, whimsical works that are a delight to see and hold!
Her Etsy shop (WeLovePoppets):
Mary Capaldi sells insect/bug themed art and stationary but what I really love are her enamel pins. In particular, her gynandromorph (showing both male and female characteristics) swallowtail butterfly pin is lovely.
I’m a big Robin Hobb fan (she wrote the Farseer trilogy and others), and this August she wrote a blog pointing out that she will sign and personalize books ordered through the University Book Store in Seattle. The only cost is the cost of the books. Details here: http://www.robinhobb.com/blog/posts/41300
For some very innovative fantasy, I’ll recommend a couple of series.
First is P C Hodgell’s Kencyrath books. The series started in 1982 and just hit the tenth book, DEATHLESS GODS. Our heroine has to navigate ancient myths and tangled customs in a richly detailed world where even the kitchen chores are infused with magic, and she gets by with a combination of cleverness and doggedly holding on to her honor. The high-magic areas in the world are fascinatingly eerie. Start with an omnibus of the first two books, GOD STALK and DARK OF THE MOON, published by Baen but available on the major platforms: https://www.baen.com/the-god-stalker-chronicles.html
Second is Graydon Saunders’ Commonweal books. These take place in a very high magic world that has suffered under the rule of a quarter million years of Dark Lords, and one small egalitarian nation is carving a niche for itself, taking advantage of the benefits of cooperation to stand against the top-down control of the neighbors. It is perhaps the most extreme example of “show, don’t tell” that I can think of: the first book dumps you into the middle of a high-magic military operation and lets you figure things out as you go. (The next two books deal with the education of young sorcerers.) Come for the creepy-but-heroic sorcerers, stay for Eustace the War Sheep. The ebooks are available on the Google Play Store, but you can download them and sideload them to any other e-reader (and use https://calibre-ebook.com/ to convert them to other formats). THE MARCH NORTH is the first book: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Graydon_Saunders_The_March_North?id=MoIOAwAAQBAJ
The fantastical artwork of Jessica Gadra, a Buffalo, NY artist. She creates beautiful hand-made prints and cards that I enjoy buying at events like the Elmwood Festival of the Arts http://jessicagadra.com
Late to the party, but I had to link my little brother’s art: https://www.dragontoothart.com/
He does both dinosaur skeleton recreations -including several he has sold to museums- and fantasy dragon skulls/commissioned art.
Our three favorite creators
Surfside Sips – handcrafted glass straws made of high impact borosilicate glass. We especially love the smoothie straws and the creature additions
20% discount with code LOVECRAFT
Dizzy Diva – custom cocktail picks
Lots of fanish options – Star Wars, Galaxy, Lego…
Best incense we have found
Flint Candle Company
A couple things I’ve been really into this year:
Quw’utsun’ Made is lotions, candles, and other things using traditional ingredients & Indigenous owned. The devil’s club lotion is amazing & so are the perfumes. (it looks like a bunch of stuff is out of stock currently though)
I’ve been working through a bunch of embroidery samplers from Kiriki Press – they’re a little more advanced than most kits you can find so they’re still fun for more experienced sewers!