A Holiday Q4U

Here we are in the Christmas season, and many of us are struggling to find just the right gifts for those on our lists… for just the right price.

But today, let’s dream a little… and let’s take a moment to be utterly selfish.

If money were no object, what is the ONE THING you’d most like to receive for Christmas that would somehow help you in your writing/publishing life?

I’ll assume you’re hoping for peace on earth, food for the hungry, cures for the ill, etc. So we don’t need to talk about those right now. Let’s allow ourselves a moment to express a single material desire. What’s yours?

Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent whose fondest money-is-no-object desire is weekly maid service. Heck, we’re dreaming, let’s make it daily.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Janet on December 14, 2008 at 9:32 PM

    >Hubby already gave me my very own laptop. The very first time I’ve had a computer for my own exclusive personal use. :o)

  2. Jessica on December 14, 2008 at 7:14 PM

    >A bookstore or library connected to my house. With monthly new shipments.
    That would be bliss!

  3. C.J. Darlington on December 13, 2008 at 10:17 PM

    >I would love to have an office just for my writing projects. A desk, new laptop, shelves and filing cabinets would fill the space. It could even be in the corner of a room, but I’d love to have a space devoted to my writing.

  4. Liz Babbs on December 13, 2008 at 1:34 PM

    >Gosh your blog has done it again. This posting has just confirmed something I’ve been seeking God over. So bless you Rachelle.

    Re songs – Rachelle is spot on. Although I’m an author, I also work with professional musicians and have Christian meditation CDs published here in the UK. Even on MySpace I can only play a tiny snipet of the musicians songs on my album – even though we all work for the same music publisher! See myspace.com/lizbabbsimmerse

    Also to all you folk wanting to connect with your Irish roots, my next book to be published in the US and UK June 2009 is ‘Celtic Treasure’ which is a stunningly produced colour gift book unearthing the riches of Celtic Spirituality. It’s written as a cross-over book and so will outreach to non Christians too. I don’t know about the US, but here in the UK God is really using things Celtic as a doorway to Him. Now that is exciting!

  5. Sheryl Tuttle on December 13, 2008 at 11:59 AM

    >If money were no object, I’d want… money. Enough that I wouldn’t have to have a day job and could use my time doing what I really want to do, which of course is write!

  6. Yvonne on December 13, 2008 at 8:37 AM


    Hmmm… first of all, I’d like highspeed internet and WiFi. It’s so confining and frustrating to be tied to the phone line and waiting for each page to download while doing research.

    Hmmm…next I’d like a little cabin to myself to write, with all the books and facilities to make it comfortable and convenient.

    Hmmm… a SMART PEN, so that if I’m not near my computer, I can write and save it later.

    Hmmm.. lastly, I’d love to get to at least one writing conference each year.

    So, are you promising anything?

  7. Michelle LaRowe on December 13, 2008 at 1:52 AM

    >As a career, credentialed nanny I think it’s funny you all want a nanny πŸ™‚

  8. Anita Mae Draper on December 12, 2008 at 11:55 PM

    >Sure, I need a housekeeper, and an agent, and a contract, and even a mentor would be nice.

    Oh yeah, and I want to go to the Mount Hermon, RWA and ACFW conferences next year. I know they’re productive b/c I learned so much from the ACFW one this year.

    But, I think the main hold-up with my writing at this very moment is my platform.

    If I could figure out my platform, I could get an agent…who would get me the ? figure contract…from which I could pay the housekeeper and the reg’n fees for the conferences.

    Yup, a platform. That’s what I need.

  9. Adam on December 12, 2008 at 10:46 PM

    >A six figure advance on a 3 book contract. Now that would help! Or maybe a revelation on how to write 3 books, or even one for that matter. How about the advance with no book contract . . .Just kidding, Blessings to all!

  10. Kathleen on December 12, 2008 at 10:43 PM

    >I knew what I’d want the minute I read this… and then I read the comments and discovered I’m one of many!

    I’d want a maid. Someone to take care of all the housework, so I can actually WRITE when I want, instead of having to keep putting it off because the house won’t take care of itself!

  11. christa on December 12, 2008 at 5:00 PM

    >A weekly massage.If he looks like Hugh Jackman that would be a plus.

  12. sarah p on December 12, 2008 at 2:56 PM

    >My wish is boring. I wish for a laptop so I can write anywhere, especially at the homeschool table while my daughter is doing her maths. But a deeper wish would be for courage – the courage to let my authentic voice speak unrestrained, the courage to believe my fiction might one day be published.

    Thanks for asking πŸ˜‰ By the way, your weblog is so full of wonderful and helpful advice, I am grateful for it every day.

  13. Wendy Melchior on December 12, 2008 at 2:55 PM

    >I would buy some brand equity. Will that fit under the tree?

  14. Kate H on December 12, 2008 at 2:43 PM

    >Hmm . . . it’s a toss-up between:
    a) a maid who would also run errands and drive carpools,
    b) a month-long writing retreat at some beautiful, quiet spot (with above-mentioned maid/nanny service while I was gone),
    c) expenses paid to the conference of my choice, and
    d) a writing tower like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s or the one Robinson Jeffers built for himself in Carmel.

    Actually, now that I’ve thought of (d), I think it wins!

  15. Mama J on December 12, 2008 at 1:09 PM

    >Ooooh, I like Daniel’s “adopt my family” wish because it would spring both my husband and I for time. My own wish is for someone to ask me to host a national “parenting talk” radio show. This would be a great platform-builder.

  16. Avily Jerome on December 12, 2008 at 12:49 PM

    >My daughter has a onesie that says “All Mommy wants for Christmas is a Silent Night.”

    I think that about covers it.

    Although a $1300 gift card to a bookstore, an agent, and a nanny/housekeeper would also be welcome gifts.

  17. Joe Iriarte on December 12, 2008 at 12:48 PM

    >I’d want to be able to attend all of the good writer’s conferences out there.

  18. jess on December 12, 2008 at 12:46 PM

    >I would hire five authors of my choice to critique my completed manuscript. That would be a learning experience for me.

    On second thought, maybe five would be too many. Maybe I’d be just as confused as I am now … with five crit partners. πŸ™

    Maybe I’d just hire one best selling author to be my best friend and teach me every thing s/he knows. I wonder if that would work.

  19. elaine @ peace for the journey on December 12, 2008 at 12:37 PM

    >A cabin in the Smokies. That’s inspiration.


  20. Wanda on December 12, 2008 at 11:38 AM

    >TIME……Privacy to do the actual writing. My computer is in the kitchen and shared with 3 teens.
    I could whine and whine…..but I won’t.
    It’s just not my turn.

    Still dreamin though!

  21. Lea Ann McCombs on December 12, 2008 at 11:35 AM

    >Gwen, I’m so with you on the tranquilizer darts for flying! But as long as we’re dreaming big, I’ll chime in with Catherine on the contract, but she didn’t go far enough.

    C’mon, Catherine, how about a MULTI-BOOK contract to buy everything that comes out of our computers, no revision necessary, until the day we fall over dead from finger seizures?

    LutherMonkey, try Camy Tang’s Story Sensai blog for some help and guidance on your manuscript. She includes SO many practical tips that help get you over that hump of wondering, “So what’s wrong with it?” She can help you edit your own work so you begin to see the flaws yourself. Her stuff has helped me tremendously!

  22. Susan J. Reinhardt on December 12, 2008 at 11:29 AM

    >I’d like all the problems with my house resolved. Getting rid of the work and stress would go a long way toward more time to write.

  23. Katy McKenna on December 12, 2008 at 11:12 AM

    >@Dan Case: Oh, wait! How could I have forgotten Ireland? My husband and I have been twice, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. It’s like all the best Christmas presents of a lifetime rolled into one. I made huge progress in hunting down family tree stuff in Co. Monaghan, to the point that I stood in the ruin of the McKenna ancestral home my grand-da was born in! I will pray you get to go!

  24. Nicole on December 12, 2008 at 10:45 AM

    >Two things: an agent who “gets” my love of longer novels and believes in them, too.

    Getting my second novel to the particular actor on whom the story was loosely based.

  25. Alison Bryant on December 12, 2008 at 10:45 AM

    >Like Rachelle, I’d love for that scene in the movie “Enchanted,” the scene where she and all of her animal friends clean up the house, to happen every day. Clutter drives me to distraction.

    I’d also like an unlimited research travel budget. For example, right now I’d love the funds to go to Arizona and fly in a particular vintage WWII plane.

  26. Monica on December 12, 2008 at 10:44 AM

    >A Kindle! I know there’s tons of debate about those right now, but I would love it. Don’t get me wrong; an old library full of books to be read is my idea of heaven. But we travel a lot and with 3 boys under 3, we have a LOT of stuff to haul with us. Having access to books/magazines/newspapers with little hassle sounds heavenly!

    I don’t know that it would help much with writing/publishing, though. It would probably be a better time waster than anything. πŸ™‚ For writing, I think I would most like to find a writing group around us.

  27. Daniel F. Case on December 12, 2008 at 10:44 AM

    >Well, as long as there are no limits and we can be creatively selfish…

    I'd like some multi-zillionaire who likes my voice to adopt me and my family. I don't want a mansion, a garage full of pricey cars, or a bunch of lavish amenities. What I'd want most from that adoption is timeβ€”the freedom to travel, research, spend more time hanging around with other writers, and of course write my heart out.

    If I had to scale that down a little, I'd settle for an all-expense-paid year or two in Ireland with no agenda but to explore, get to know the people and culture, and write stories about them. I'm half-Irish (my mother's maiden name was McCarthy, and her parents "came over on the boat.") I've always felt an odd connection to the place and have yearned to go there, not in a touristy way but to explore the real culture and people who are so much a part of my roots.

    If I can't find the zillionaire, I'd settle for a string of incredibly profitable best-sellers so I can pay for the trip myself. πŸ™‚


  28. Laurie Pace on December 12, 2008 at 10:28 AM

    >Well, I read all of the above and can only say Gwen, you are not alone, but to make is worse, my husband works for American Airlines and we can fly anywhere. I started having a large glass of wine after the plane takes off, that always helps. My limit in the air is three hours.

    I wrote in my blog today about writing down your heart’s desire so you actually know it and acknowledge it.

    A single thing to help my writing? A long trip (even flying) to visit places usually unheard of. To see more of the world, to walk with others and see what they see and experience what they have in their daily lives. To climb out of the safe box I exist in and seek Him out in His world among all people.

    With that must come unlimited wine for the flights.

  29. Mark H. on December 12, 2008 at 10:18 AM


    Or maybe just to have a boss that says, “No, I guess it’s not that urgent, Mark. Go ahead and work on your novel. Oh, and we’d like to give you a raise, too.” (accompanied by wink and clap of hand on shoulder)

  30. Katy McKenna on December 12, 2008 at 10:16 AM

    >I’ve thought about paying for one of those elder case managers, so that I could just get don’t-get-your-hands-dirty phone call updates about the constantly evolving medical mishaps involving The Moms.

    But if we’re talking pure selfishness, I can’t imagine wanting anything more (so that I can get back to writing, mind you…), than paying a surrogate to stand in (so to speak) for me at today’s colonoscopy. πŸ™‚

  31. Jeanie W on December 12, 2008 at 10:10 AM

    >I’d like a dedicated room with a big desk with lots of surface area for spreading out pages and illustrations, a cosy reading chair, lots of natural light streaming in the windows, one wall lined with bookshelves, another with corkboard for posting visual references, and, of course, a door that separates the room from the rest of the house.

  32. photoqueen on December 12, 2008 at 10:03 AM

    >If money were no object, I’d want my second mortgage paid off. Then I could sell my house and move anywhere my future publishing career would take me.

    Because there aren’t any publishers in my town. And I want to work for one. (And yes, I realize most publishers are laying people off now and not hiring, but this is all part of my “if you could get anything you want” fantasy!)

    Thanks for letting us dream, Rachelle, in the same place you help us learn.

  33. LurkerMonkey on December 12, 2008 at 9:50 AM

    >I know mine and it’s FREE! I’m in a weird position … so what I really want is simple guidance. I’m usually a relentless researcher, but I can’t just go around calling up publishing professionals, bouncing my story off them, and asking, “What do you think the next move is?” So my very fondest publishing Christmas wish would honestly and simply be access to informed opinions in a confidential manner. Not much to ask, eh?

  34. Thoughts from South Moon on December 12, 2008 at 9:39 AM

    >Well…if money were no object, I’d love to buy a couple of weeks at a writer’s retreat like Ragdale in Chicago. Two whole weeks without interruption and then spend my evenings listening to others read their works in progress and share writing conversation. Ahhhh…wouldn’t that be lovely.

  35. Marcie Gribbin on December 12, 2008 at 9:34 AM

    >My dream Christmas card would go something like this:

    Dear Marcie,

    I, (published author and/or agent/ and/or editor), see great potential in your writing ability. As a Christmas gift to you, I am making myself available to be your personal MENTOR. Please contact me at ________. I can’t wait to hear from you and get started!

    Merry Christmas!



  36. Kat Harris on December 12, 2008 at 9:21 AM

    >Rachelle said:If money were no object, what is the ONE THING you’d most like to receive for Christmas that would somehow help you in your writing/publishing life?

    A professional critique of the first 10 pages of my manuscript.

    What do you want for Christmas Rachelle?

  37. Courtney Walsh on December 12, 2008 at 9:12 AM

    >I’m going to be unoriginal and echo the others who want a nanny… or at least a couple of hours of a babysitter’s time each day… that would be amazing. And if she did floors, oh my land, I’d be in heaven.

    …and the superhuman ability to stay up past 9 p.m. with a fully functioning brain

    …and I’d probably ask for a new laptop as mine is getting a little old.

  38. Mindy Obenhaus on December 12, 2008 at 9:11 AM

    >You mean I have to limit it to just one? πŸ™‚ I’d love to have someone to do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, kid-shuffling, decorating . . . oh, and he/she’d do windows and be an immacualte gardener. You know, all the things that I’m not. OH! And this person would pop into my office at least once a day to massage my back πŸ™‚ Now I know I’m dreaming.

  39. lynnrush on December 12, 2008 at 8:54 AM

    >Oh, what a fun question. Ok, Money No Object?

    An entry fee into Mount Hermon/AFCW writing conferences. That’s what I’d want for Christmas that could help my writing life.

  40. Catherine West on December 12, 2008 at 8:50 AM

    >I don’t really want to buy this, although I have to say I’m tempted, but I’d like to earn it the old-fashioned way, so my dream probably doesn’t count.
    A contract. That would probably help me in my publishing goals a lot. But of course that would have to come with a multi-million dollar book deal and bookings on every talk show across America, movie offers And eventually a gold statue I can put on my mantle.
    Other than that, I don’t want much. I already have an awesome agent, so I figure the rest will just happen.
    Well you said we could dream, right? Oh and of course I would be donating all that money to charity. :0))) (After you get your cut, but then you’d donate it to charity too).

  41. Rachelle on December 12, 2008 at 8:50 AM

    >Chatty Kelly–Songs and poetry generally do NOT fall under Fair Use. You not only have to get permission, you usually need to pay. It’s a matter of “what percentage of a total work” is the excerpt you’re using. A couple lines from a book might be 1/1000th of the work; a couple lines from a poem might be 10% of it and that’s way too much to fall under Fair Use.

    Please know that “Fair Use” is not spelled out specifically anywhere, and is interpreted by each individual publisher on a case by case basis; many publishers are opting to be more conservative in their interpretation to avoid lawsuits.

  42. Rosslyn Elliott on December 12, 2008 at 8:21 AM

    >I would like access to some really awesome historical newspaper and magazine databases. It’s not too hard to get access to university libraries as a paying “friend of the library,” but they usually don’t give you remote access to the databases. That means you have to drive to the library, find parking (always a problem on campus), walk across campus, and physically log in on a library terminal. Major pain! Maybe I’ll have to bribe a student for a password. πŸ˜‰

  43. Chatty Kelly on December 12, 2008 at 8:06 AM

    >Rachelle – Q4U –
    If a writer uses several lines of a song in their book, does this qualify under fair use, or does the writer need to seek approval from the songwriter/copyright holder?

    I have a attorney looking into this for me, but he said there are probably ways to avoid ptifalls that industry insiders would know.

    Do you?

  44. Anne L.B. on December 12, 2008 at 8:03 AM

    >Chatty Kelly, you and I obviously had the same thought at the same moment. You made it better than I did since Alice always gave good advice, too.

  45. Anne L.B. on December 12, 2008 at 8:01 AM

    >Gwen, would you accept a dose of hand holding from an ex-skydiver? I’m still dreaming about being in the seat next to you.

    Rachelle, you dream way too small. My dreamβ€”honestlyβ€”is for a live-in maid who does the cleaning AND meals and reads to the preschoolers in her free time. I’d even give her Sunday off for church and make the pot roast once a week!

  46. Bryan Allain on December 12, 2008 at 8:01 AM

    >really, all i want for christmas is for Rachelle Gardner to read my “Best of The Ramblings” post and leave a comment that said “teehee, that is funny.” (but only if she thought they were funny).

    i don’t ask for much…


  47. Chatty Kelly on December 12, 2008 at 7:59 AM

    >A nanny! Live in nanny, who does the cooking and cleaning. Like Alice on The Brady Bunch. LOL!!!!

    What did Carol Brady do? She must have been a writer?

  48. Gwen Stewart on December 12, 2008 at 6:59 AM

    >A tranquilizing dart, the kind used for large animals, for my plane trip to ACFW in 2009. If I could talk a flight attendant into shooting me with it before take off, my trip would be a lot more pleasant. Thoughts of impending death make the skies not so friendly!

    Actually, the large animal dose is probably too much for me. My husband says I’m small enough to fit into a pet carrier and stowed with the luggage. He threatens to do so with every plane trip, but that’s a poor option. No windows down there. How could I see outside to make sure the plane is still aloft?

    There must be some kind of therapy for this, um…little fear issue I have. Heh. πŸ˜‰

  49. Jayden on December 12, 2008 at 4:24 AM

    >Don’t get me dreaming here πŸ™‚

    I’d hope for a sub-notebook. Those little things are my writer’s heart’s desire, to be honest. Could work with them from ANYWHERE and they fit in my handbag *dreams*