WD mag wants to know: What are you crazy about in the writing world right now?

If you’re a subscriber of WD, you may have noticed a new front-of-the-book feature in our latest issue—Top Shelf. Branded as “A Smattering of Our Favorite Literary Goodies These Days,” it is, well, just that—things some of us WD staffers are currently crazy about.

The first edition (sneak peak to the right; click the image for a closer look) features selections such as aesthetically pleasing flash drives, the book The Great Typo Hunt, the Poetry Foundation’s iPhone app, and even some literary threads.

We just created the next installment of the  column, and looking ahead, are curious: What would you include? What literary products, smartphone apps, non-writing-craft books, software, accessories and anything else related to the writing world are you currently geeking out over? Share them in the Comments section below, and they could help us shape a future edition.

Also, the lineup and discounted early registration have been announced for the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York, Jan. 21-23. Additional details are on their way on Promptly, but so far we’re planning a pitch slam, sessions on the future of publishing, craft, and platform, and much more. Check it all out here.


Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a
response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings.
you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

You realize the boat is sinking, but that’s not the worst thing that could happen. That happened last night. 


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10 thoughts on “WD mag wants to know: What are you crazy about in the writing world right now?

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  2. Leslie T. Grover

    I smoothed my dress and stepped onto the riverboat. I had often gone on dinner
    cruises, but this time would be different. My husband Xavier was cheating on me. Two
    miles off the dock of the Big Easy, I was going to surprise Xavier and his “Big Easy.”
    I eyed Xavier as he leaned over and whispered into his mistressʼ ear. Her eyes lit up,
    and she laughed loudly, opening her mouth to reveal a set of badly yellowing teeth.
    A loud crash and a sudden violent jerking suddenly threw me forward and onto the floor
    of the deck. I shot Xavier a quick glance, and he looked directly into my eyes.
    Though the boat had nearly given us whiplash, he stood staring as though heʼd seen a
    ghost. He started walking towards me. I quickly got up and ducked into a nearby crowd
    of people, and doubled back to the stairway of the riverboat. I sat on the stairs, thinking
    back to the fight Iʼd had with Xavier last night.
    “Sit down. Iʼm not going to be a jerk about this”, heʼd sounded tired and defeated. “I am
    seeing someone. But she was just a –,”
    “Fling? Dalliance? What?”
    “No, not that. I hate I even –”
    “I hate you Xavier. Youʼre a liar and a cheat, and itʼs over!” The words seeped into my
    skin and made me warm.
    “You just donʼt understand. Itʼs not like that. I donʼt love her. She was just something to
    do to break my boredom. I love you. And I know that now. I just didnʼt know how to tell
    “So, now youʼre bored with me?” Iʼd stormed out of the room and into our bedroom. I
    slammed the door so hard pictures feel off the wall and the room shook. I hated him.
    I heard Xavier come to the door and lean face-first against it. He hadnʼt knocked.
    Instead heʼd just given up on me–on us.
    Today on this boat instead of feeling crushed and empty, as I thought I would, I felt
    anger and hate. I hated him so much, in fact, I wanted him to die.
    The boat rocked again, and this time the floor beneath my feet started to crack. Muddy
    water from the Mississippi River quickly engulfed the boat, and people started
    screaming and running trying desperately to get off the sinking river boat.
    The boat was sinking quickly and people were already beginning to be pulled into the
    boatʼs swirling debris. I ran to the second deck of the riverboat and prepared to dive off
    the top. I would avoid being pulled under by the riverboat, and It would be easy for me
    to swim two miles back to the dock. Before I jumped I glanced back at the boat just in
    time to see Xavier being pulled under. I paused for a minute and realized he was
    drowning. It looked like Iʼd get my wish after all. I waved at Xavier, smiled and jumped.

  3. R.V.

    The Bermuda Love Triangle

    1. Jude

    “Of course everything’s ready.” He shuffled through photos of them while they spoke on the phone. Chitzen Itza. Eiffel Tower. “It’s been booked for months.” Giza pyramids. Great Wall of China. Flooding memories gave him goose bumps. The Coliseum. Machu Picchu. “I’d never miss a chance to see you. You know that.”

    “And you’re certain he won’t find out about this?”

    He snickered. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”

    2. Serena

    She felt guilty. Until she saw the size of the ship. Her hand rose to her mouth, “Oh my…”

    “Only the best…” Jude whispered.

    * * * * *

    She raised her champagne, “Tempus Fugit.” They cheersed and ate lobster. While dancing, she pressed her lips to his ear, “I want you.”

    Giggling, they barged through the door. Christopher sat on the end of their bed with a bottle of whiskey and a revolver.

    3. Christopher

    In the hall someone shouted, “The life-boats are leaving. Get to the deck!” But, aside from work, his life was right here in this room with him: his wife, his best friend. He wasn’t going anywhere.

    Water filled the room. When it reanimated his wife’s body, he lost his nerve. He couldn’t take it any longer.

    He decided to spend the rest of his life drowning at the bar.

  4. Dare Gaither

    Robert slumped against the cabin door, quietly sobbing.
    He tried to take off his life jacket, but the effort proved
    too much for his ravaged body. With a loud sigh, he gave up
    and rocked back and forth in despair.
    Lynn watched him carefully as they waited.
    Her Mayday call had been received and help was on the way.

    It had been a beautiful evening with a calm sea.
    They stood on the deck and watched the golden glow of sunset
    transition to dusk. He wrapped his arms around her, offering
    warmth in the cool autumn breeze. Suddenly his body tensed
    and a low moan rose from his throat. He released her and leaned
    over the side of the boat, gazing into the dark depths below.
    Before Lynn realized what was happening he flung himself into
    the water and disappeared below the surface.

    That’s when she heard them.
    The seductive beauty of their song filled her with
    desperate longing to find the source of such passion.
    She had read the stories as a child.
    The myths told tales of bewitching creatures
    whose songs lured men to their death at sea.
    They were just myths.
    So she had thought until today.

    Lynn searched for any sign of Robert, but the sea
    refused to give up her secrets.
    The first glimmer of dawn finally brought an end to her search.
    A naked body floated in the water off the starboard bow.
    She was sure Robert was dead, but when the boat came
    alongside him she heard a faint groan.

    With a combination of prayers and curses,
    Lynn managed to get a rope around Robert and
    haul him on board like a giant mackerel.
    She wrapped him in blankets and plied him
    steaming mugs of black coffee laced with rum.
    He stared off into the distance, lost in a world
    beyond her reach.

    A sharp jolt sent a shudder through the boat, bringing
    Lynn back to the present moment. A quick look over
    the side confirmed that they had hit a submerged reef
    and were now taking on water. She grabbed
    the life jackets and forced one on Robert before making
    the call for help.

    The sound of a helicopter heralded the arrival of the coast guard.
    Soon they would be home, but Lynn knew life would never be the same.
    Robert had forever lost his soul to the siren’s song.

  5. Nathan Honore

    Most men fear whiskey dick like it’s the Grim Reaper himself. Death can come and go as it pleases as long as everything works down below. Viagra users are the modern day male lepers. If discovered, they are cast out and dismissed. But I don’t have that problem. That’s a lie. It’s happened a few times, but that’s normal despite what they say. But what happened last night is much worse than the dreaded whiskey dick. To make matters slightly worse, the cruise ship is now sinking.
    A cruise is not my idea of a good time. My family decided it would be a great idea for me to take time off and go on a long, relaxing cruise. Too bad I get seasick and can’t even drink my beloved Irish whiskey without passing out. The pills and alcohol make for a wild five to ten minutes before loosing consciousness. I had just been laid off and my girlfriend dumped my jobless ass. The cruise was supposed to take my mind off everything and allow me to come back renewed, like a vampire after a good day’s rest.
    My friends urged me to get laid, but cruises are unsurprisingly filled with couples. And not just any couples, incredibly attractive couples straight out of Playboy/Playgirl. I could only imagine the amount of sex that was happening without me. What a terribly depressing cruise. No booze and no sex.
    After a week I accepted that maybe odious amounts of alcohol would cure my seasickness. It sort of worked. Instead of seasickness, it was just booze-sickness. The cruise bartender and I became quite close, but I can’t recall his name. During my last overnight drunk, I found a beautiful woman who did not appear to have an escort. She stood alone. I put on my charming face, grabbed two mojitos from my nameless friend, and attempted walking towards her. Five whiskeys go a long way.
    She had an average build, straight and long brown hair, and dressed like a hippie. Her tank top had a pot leaf on it and her skirt a faded brown. She also sported some rad looking moccasins.
    “You know I’m 1/64 Native American?”
    She barely looked at me. The booze made me continue.
    “Yeah, I’m part Ojibwa. Hunter/gatherers. No big deal.”
    “So I have a mojito for you,” I said pronouncing the hard J.
    “Listen,” she said, “I’ll give you half an hour. If you impress me, we’ll see.” Her expression was incredibly stoic.
    I took a swig of the mojito in my right hand. It tasted delicious. It was so delicious that I threw up all over her pro-pot top.
    My bartender carried me to my room, away from my screaming hippie. I puked the down the entire hallway, leaving a trail.
    It is now the next day and I have awakened to the sound of an alarm. The ship is f-ing sinking. Why couldn’t I just get whiskey dick. Worst cruise ever.

  6. Martha W

    Mmm…since I don’t have a Nook to moon over… OneNote from Microsoft, my Droid phone, and DropBox online data storage. Those are my "can’t do without" things… and Adobe PhotoShop 9…

    Awesome stories, guys!

  7. Mark James

    Zac, I’m totally geeked out over my new Nook! I’m loving it. I can take like, the whole Library of Congress with me. . anywhere. Of course, I’ve been enhancing my writing, deepening my understanding of craft by reading the Masters . . . no really, I have.

    Last night would have been good news, except for the screaming people under our balcony.

    “Are you getting in the lifeboat?” Starlight said.

    I ran my fingers through her hair, traced a wet outline through her sagging curls. “Did your mom really name you that?”

    She rolled her eyes at me, turned all the sarcasm twenty one years of living can muster on me and said, “It was my dad. He was drunk. Are you coming or not?”


    I could have tossed her over my shoulder, and not drawn a hard breath. So when she took my arm and nearly yanked it off, I whipped around toward her, tugged my arm loose. “What? You trying to rip me apart before the ship sinks?”

    Water dripped from the ceiling, ran through her red curls, then down her pale freckled face like tears. “You’re coming,” she said. “Or I’m staying.”

    It was hard, and she kicked me some pretty good ones when I flung her over my shoulder, but at least nobody noticed her screaming; they were too busy running. I smacked her ass hard. “Quit kicking me,” I said. “Or I’ll dump you overboard.”

    “Don’t you care about your baby?”

    Her words from last night came back to me in a rush – ‘Let’s name her Moonlight’. A sailor who was big enough to be King Kong’s twin brother rushed by us. I let her down just in time to keep her head from getting smashed into the wall. “You have to save Moonlight,” I told her.

    Starlight stomped on my foot, splashing up a puddle of salt water into my face. “She’s not growing up without a dad.”

    “Then she’s going to have to die without a mom.” I saw how my words cut into her. “Why don’t you just lay down right here, face down—breathe some ocean?”

    One thing I could count on with my fiancé was her temper. Her cheeks went redder than her hair. I saw it coming before she did it and bent over, my hands low. She got my chin, and I could tell that was way too high for her.

    “If you die, who’s going to sue Fantasy Time Cruises, make me and Moonlight rich forever?”

    Her cheeks were wet, and it wasn’t the water dripping down around us. “You and the kid?” I said. “What about me?”

    She leaned in, kissed me, ran her hands around my neck. “I’d divorce you and make you pay child support.”

    “Go,” I said.

    Never underestimate a pregnant woman. She rammed my head into the bulkhead so hard, I didn’t have time to see stars before I was face down on the deck.

    I woke up with my head in her lap. Starlight said King Kong had come back, one last sweep for passengers. The lifeboat was full. The ocean stretched on for miles and miles around us. Either Moonlight would be born on a desert island, or she’d grow up rich.

  8. Willow Rose

    She gave me an icy stare, her life jacket securely in place. It didn’t matter that there was a shortage of life jackets on board and that I was going without one. It didn’t matter that I helped put hers on.

    The air was warm, just a little before midnight, when we first stepped onto the friend’s yacht. He was an old buddy of mine and he was our captain for the night. He smiled as he stepped to the side, excited to have my wife and I on board.

    "I’m sorry," Greg said, apologizing for the forth time since realizing he forgot to notice if there was a drain plug properly in place. I shrugged at him.

    "I understand. Mistakes happen," I said. Not only had he forgotten to make sure there was a drain plug on board, he had forgotten to make sure there were enough life jackets on board. But that still wasn’t the worst that could happen.

    The worst that could happen happened down by the bathroom as Greg was showing me the new toilet he had installed and how it conserved water.

    "Neat. I like the water thing," I said, turning around and meeting Greg eye to eye. He stood there smirking. "What?" I questioned with naive eyes.

    "Remember that thing we did in college?"

    "What thing?"

    "The thing we did in that stall."

    "You mean when you kissed me?" I asked, trying to keep my voice lackluster. He gave me a smirk.

    "I recall it a little bit differently than that. I recall it was you that kissed me," Greg said, the smirk still on his face. I scoffed.

    "Nah, it was definitely you that kissed me."

    "It wasn’t. But I have been meaning to pay you back," Greg groaned a little, putting his hands against my waist. I pulled back, he leaned in.

    "I don’t want to kiss you," I laughed. Greg laughed with me.

    "Yes you do," He said, his face getting closer.

    "Our wives," I said, trying to protest.

    "They’re gossiping on deck," He whispered before his lips touched mine. I moaned, trying to protest again, and kept my lips straight. Greg didn’t seem to notice I wasn’t kissing him back. His lips kept caressing mine until I finally closed my eyes and sighed into his kiss, opening my lips some to properly kiss him back.

    "Travis?" My wife’s voice suddenly rang out. I pushed Greg from me and gave her a shocked stare. Greg’s wife was standing beside her, glass of wine still in her hand.

    "Greg, we seem to be taking on water," Greg’s wife Nancy lazily told him, acting as if she didn’t notice him kissing another man. Greg cursed and took off running from the bathroom, yelling something about forgetting the drain plug. "I’ll get the life jackets," Nancy calmly stated and turned around with her glass of wine.

  9. Dorraine

    Zac, I just left a comment on your last post. You’re too quick for me!

    Anyway, I’ve been a long time subscriber to Writer’s Digest and have learned so much from the splendid articles. I just realized my subscription is up! Oops, and thanks for the reminder. Hope all is well with you. 🙂