Christmas Ideas for Writers & Book Lovers (Vol. 1) - Writer's Digest

Christmas Ideas for Writers & Book Lovers (Vol. 1)

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My big message this holiday season has been simply to support writers and bookstores by buying new books as gifts and asking for new books as gifts for yourself. This is not the easiest thing to do. You must find what specifically what people want (or at least categories they enjoy), and then you must tell people some details about what you want to get. If you need ideas, I would like to suggest some good books for you. Some are WD books, most are not; some are about writing; some are just great titles. I hope you find something you like! More volumes coming soon.

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2011 Guide to Literary Agents (WD Books, 2010)

Of course I had to include the 2011 GLA. I'm still excited about my baby even though it came out 4 months ago. It lists all the agents everywhere and you can search agencies by whatever category or genre you're writing. The book has helped tons of writers in their careers and I even listed eight success stories in a recent post. Well here are three more brand new success stories of writers who got their rep through GLA! Buy it here.

  • "I'm smiling as I type this, because I actually got my agent via the Guide to Literary Agents. I certainly never dreamed that I'd tell my [success] story in the same publication!" - Karen Dionne, author of the successful thrillers Freezing Point and Boiling Point.
  • "Just signed with literary agent Chip MacGregor and I came upon him through the Guide to Literary Agents. If not for GLA, I’d probably still be looking." - Les Edgerton, author of 10+ books, including Hooked (see more below).
  • "I'd definitely be interested in guest posting -- especially since I
    found my literary agent through the Guide to Literary Agents!" - Heather Newton, author of the literary novel Under the Mercy Trees.

The Tiger (Knopf, narrative nonfiction, 2010)

This is a great true story about a team of men trying to find a man-eating tiger in eastern Russia in the 90s. It's a wonderful example of just plain great writing. The book is not exactly plot-heavy, but it keeps you hooked because it delves into present-day Russia, the history of tigers, the history of the taiga (the land and the forest), the history of hunting tigers for their pelts, and more. Narrative nonfiction at its best, and an Amazon "best book of the month" in 2010. Buy it here.

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Hooked (WD Books, 2007)

When trying to capture the attention of agents, editor and readers, those first few pages are so very important. You must pull a reader into your story. They can't be completely confused, but they must be intrigued enough to enjoy the reading experience, but also a little confused so they will read forward to have their questions answered. That's why Les Edgerton's Hooked sells so well. It's a great book to help you start your story right. Buy it here.

Rats Saw God (Simon Pulse, young adult, 2007)

This is the book that got me into young adult fiction. It seems like almost all the young adult fiction that succeeds today has a paranormal element -- vampires mostly. This book is a straight contemporary story, which is very, very difficult to do well and entertain from the first page to the last. But this one does. The writing is just that good. I remember finishing this story on a plane, setting the book down, and realizing I will never write a book this good in my life. It's incredible. The author, Rob Thomas, moved on to Hollywood and created "Veronica Mars." Buy it here.

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Save the Cat (MW Books, 2005)

This is by far my favorite book on writing that was not created by us at WD. Written by screenwriter Blake Snyder, this is a book that breaks down structure and plot and a story's three acts. He talks about hitting beats in a story, raising the stakes, and other simple-yet-important things. This is a rare book that has sold more copies every year than the year before (for five years -- an amazing feat!) -- and that's because word keeps getting round that this is a great title. It even spawned at least two sequels! Buy it here.

Alive (Harper, narrative nonfiction, latest edition 2005)

This is the original book about the Uruguayan rugby team that crashed in the Andes and spent 70 days there. I didn't really enjoy the 1993 movie, so I was skeptical about this book. That said, this is an amazing story. It's really a timeless true story about survival, adventure, guts, hope, and, surprisingly, faith. It's an amazing story about how these survivors adapted to their horrible conditions and got out of the mountains alive. It stands the test of time. Buy it here.


Three Keys to Crafting Chemistry Between Characters

Romance author Michelle Major explains her three go-to tips for ensuring your characters have believable chemistry.

Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

Take Two: Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

No one wants to break the bank to learn how to write a screenplay. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares practical tips on saving money on the pursuit of a screenwriting career.


10 Epic Quotes From Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Here are 10 epic quotes from Watership Down, by Richard Adams. The story of a group of rabbits who escape an impending danger to find a new home, Watership Down is filled with moments of survival, faith, friendship, fear, and hope.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Quintilla Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the quintilla.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Fight or Flight

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's fighting time.


Vintage WD: 10 Rules for Suspense Fiction

John Grisham once admitted that this article from 1973 helped him write his thrillers. In it, author Brian Garfield shares his go-to advice for creating great suspense fiction.


The Chaotically Seductive Path to Persuasive Copy

In this article, author, writing coach, and copywriter David Pennington teaches you the simple secrets of excellent copywriting.

Grinnell_Literary Techniques

Using Literary Techniques in Narrative Journalism

In this article, author Dustin Grinnell examines Jon Franklin’s award-winning article Mrs. Kelly’s Monster to help writers master the use of literary techniques in narrative journalism.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 545

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a cleaning poem.