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What's On Your Reading List?

'Tis the season! Whether you made a list for friends and relatives to shop from, or whether you're picking off of your personal reading list, there's probably a book or two out there that you just have to read while you have some time off in the coming weeks. The editors at Writer's Digest share the one book they can't wait to get their hands on and crack open.

GIVEAWAY: We're giving away a copy of our 2015 Novel Writing special interest publication and Crafting Novels & Short Stories to one lucky Writer's Digest fan. Both are loaded with useful articles from Writer's Digest magazine and chapters from Writer's Digest Books, written by contributors like Jacob Appel, Grant Faulkner, Martha Alderson, Steven James, David Corbett, Elizabeth Sims, Hallie Ephron, Donald Maass, Nancy Kress, James Scott Bell and more. In order to be eligible to win, all you need to do is tell us what is on your reading or wish list this holiday season, and why. Post your response either here in the comments of this blog, on this FB post or on Twitter using the hashtag #WDWishList. Deadline to enter is 12 pm EST on December 21, 2015.

2015 Novel Writing SIP

Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson
"My Christmas list to Santa starts with Furiously Happy by The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson. She's one of the funniest writers I know and she always finds a way of taking personal awkward life moments and turning them into laughter-inducing stories. It's the must-get holiday book for me this year."
—Brian A. Klems, Writer's Digest Online Editor

The Son, Philipp Meyer
"I've read Meyer's debut novel American Rust, and I admired it for its compelling characters and gritty, honest depiction of a Pennsylvania steel town. With such a provocative setting in his debut, I know I can expect the same in his second novel, "a multigenerational saga of power, blood, land, and oil that follows the rise of one unforgettable Texas family, from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the oil booms of the 20th century."
—Chelsea Henshey, Writer's Digest Books Associate Editor

The Son

How to Be Drawn, Terrance Hayes
"I'm actually surprised I haven't made the time to read this book yet. Terrance Hayes has been writing some of the most exciting poetry for more than a decade now—with his previous collection, Lighthead, winning the National Book Award. As a National Book Award finalist in poetry, I know How to Be Drawn is going to bring that same inventiveness and excitement as Hayes' previous collections."
—Robert Lee Brewer, Poet's Market, Writer's Market and Senior Content Editor

Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Chris Cleave
"One book on my to-read-next-year list is Chris Cleave's new book, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, which comes out in May. I've read almost all his books and really, really enjoyed them, and I'm excited to get my hands on this next one."
—Baihley Grandison, Writer's Digest Assistant Editor

This comprehensive book on the art of novel and short story writing is
packed with advice and instruction from best-selling authors and writing experts.
You'll learn invaluable skills for mastering every area of the craft, including:
defining and refining your characters; honing your story's point of view;
creating a rich setting and backstory; crafting dialogue that rings true; and more.

Crafting Novels & Short Stories

City on Fire, Garth Risk Hallberg
"The number one book on my wish list this holiday season is City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg. The book, at nearly 1,000 pages, is big enough to fend off an advancing bear, and has received a ton of hype, with profiles of the writer appearing in both New York Magazine and Vogue, and Knopf paying Hallberg an almost unprecedented advance of close to $2 million. Oh, did I mention that this is the guy's DEBUT novel?! The story, which takes place in New York City in the late 1970s, revolves around a shooting in Central Park on New Year's Eve. It interweaves multiple perspectives, and, apparently, is so visceral it injects the gritty mood of the era directly into your bloodstream. Even if, in the end, it doesn't live up to such extensive publicity and just ends up laying around my house as a hefty paperweight or a kitchen step stool, at least I'll be part of the zeitgeist."
—Tyler Moss, Writer's Digest Managing Editor

City on Fire

Down to the Last Pitch, Tim Wendel
"I love the Minnesota Twins, so to learn that this book existed—an account of their 1991 World Series win—was an amazing thing. I look forward to getting the book for the holidays."
—Chuck Sambuchino, Guide to Literary Agents and Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market Editor

Descent, Tim Johnston
"I'm always interested in reading authors that I've never read before, if only to expand my reading list and learn something new. Tim Johnston's Descent, which has received a slew of excellent reviews, is next on my list. The classic story of a family trying to stay together, even as it appears they're slowly coming apart at the seams, takes a frightening turn when the eighteen-year-old daughter goes missing on their summer vacation in the Rockies. Any book that can capture and elicit fear—a seemingly ever-difficult element to master in writing—will find its way on my bookshelf."
—Cris Freese, Writer's Digest Books and Writer's Market series Associate Editor

Things To Consider When Writing About Ghosts and the Supernatural in Fiction

Things To Consider When Writing About Ghosts and the Supernatural in Fiction

From maintaining subtlety to visiting haunted places, author J. Fremont shares everything to consider when writing about ghosts and the supernatural in fiction.

6 Effective Steps To Promote Your Forthcoming Book on Social Media and Feel Good About It

6 Effective Steps To Promote Your Forthcoming Book on Social Media and Feel Good About It

Social media is a daunting albeit important aspect of promoting our work. Here, author Aileen Weintraub offers six steps to promote your book on social media authentically.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 609

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 world-building poem.

Writer's Digest Presents podcast image

Writer's Digest Presents: World-Building (Podcast, Episode 5)

In the fifth episode of the Writer's Digest Presents podcast, we talk about world-building in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including interviews with authors Whitney Hill (fiction) and Jeannine Hall Gailey (poetry).



Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, someone's shown up demanding your narrator's family heirloom.

May Cobb: On Stolen Moments

May Cobb: On Stolen Moments

Author May Cobb discusses offering readers a summer of mayhem with her new novel, My Summer Darlings.

The Time Is Now: Securing First-Hand Accounts of History for Writing Projects

The Time Is Now: Securing First-Hand Accounts of History for Writing Projects

Writer Stephen L. Moore discusses the benefits of having first-hand accounts for historical writing and offers advice on best practices in securing interviews while there’s still time.

From Script

Character Exploration and Development in Television (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with writers, showrunners and more who share a common thread of character exploration and development!

Janet Key: On Letting Your Novel Take Shape

Janet Key: On Letting Your Novel Take Shape

Author Janet Key discusses the experience of letting the novel take shape through the editorial process for her debut novel, Twelfth.