5 on the 5th: Five Bookish Christmas Gift Ideas for Writers (+ The Creative Blogger Award)

5 on the 5th Banner 2

On the fifth day of each month, 5 on the 5th shares five of something that I like or recommend to readers. Whether it’s five items that share a common theme, or five reasons why I like the topic at hand, this monthly meme gives us an opportunity to talk about other subjects that aren’t normally discussed here at the blog. 

I still have some catching up to do in the Blog Awards Department. So, for this month’s 5 on the 5th, I’m combining it with *finally* accepting Elizabeth Rawls’ nomination for the Creative Blogger Award. Thank you again, E., and I’m sorry it’s taken so long for me to get to this!


Here are the rules for the Creative Blogger Award:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post the link of said blog.
  2. Share five facts about yourself to your readers.
  3. Nominate 15 to 20 blogs and notify all nominees via their social media or blogs.

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I’ve put a “creative” spin on accepting this award. 😉 Instead of five random facts, I’m recommending five books on the craft of writing. And with Christmas and other gift-giving holidays around the corner, there’s no better time to find new reference books for the writer in your life – or for yourself!

Btw, the following books are for all writers. I may do a separate 5 on the 5th in the future specifically on reference / craft books for speculative fiction writers.

3 AM Epiphany

The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kitely

Do you want to improve on writing techniques like dialogue, conveying emotion, or point of view? Need help developing child characters or man-woman relationships? Or, how about writing a scene or short story backwards, or where no words are verbally spoken? You can do all of this and more with The 3 A.M. Epiphany. This collection of prompts is unique and thought-provoking, challenging writers to hone specific skills and stretch their imagination. And with over 200 exercises, you won’t run out of possible experiments soon, regardless of whether you prefer to write during the day or (as the title implies) in the middle of the night.

Buy The 3 A.M. Epiphany at Amazon, or add it to your Goodreads shelf.

Poemcrazy cover

Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life With Words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

Part memoir and part inspiration wellspring, Poemcrazy takes us into the mind and heart of poet and creative writing instructor Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. She shares a number of her favorite writing prompts as well as experiences from motherhood, workshops, nature, and other aspects of life that have inspired her. The exercises (especially the “wordpool” concept) are gems, but in all truth I love Poemcrazy most for Wooldridge’s writing style. It’s so spirited, so brave, so full of joy and magic. This isn’t just a book on how to write poetry – it’s a delightful reminder that writing can help us live life to the fullest and find beauty where we least expect it.

Buy Poemcrazy at Amazon, or add it to your Goodreads shelf.

Writers Book of Days

A Writer’s Book of Days: A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life by Judy Reeves

I swear it was love at first sight when I found A Writer’s Book of Days at Barnes & Noble. It’s divided into 12 chapters: one for every month of the year, and each covering a different aspect of writing. Within each chapter, you’ll find a trove of writing prompts and exercises (one for every day of the year – literally), tips on everything from creating space and time for your writing to finding inspiration, trivia on and quotes from published authors… And that only scratches the surface. If there is one writing craft book I’m most thankful for bringing home, A Writer’s Book of Days would be it.

Buy A Writer’s Book of Days at Amazon, or add it to your Goodreads shelf.

Character Naming Sourcebook cover

The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Need help finding the perfect names for your characters? Give The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook a try. It includes thousands of male and female names from various languages: German, Spanish, Russian, Thai, Maori, various Native American and African tongues – even Teutonic and Old Norse! You’ll also find surnames, naming practices, and historical context from numerous countries; an index of popular American baby names for every year dating back to 1900; and tips and anecdotes from published authors on how they name their characters. Expansive? Yes – but I prefer to describe the Sourcebook as “mind-boggling.” This was immensely helpful for finding names for certain characters in my WIP, and I definitely plan to use it again for future novels.

Buy The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook at Amazon, or add it to your Goodreads shelf.

Emotion Tension Conflict cover

Writing With Emotion, Tension, and Conflict: Techniques for Crafting an Expressive and Compelling Novel by Cheryl St. John

Cheryl St. John may be a romance author, but her advice in this book is priceless for writers of every genre. Writing With Emotion, Tension, and Conflict offers tips and techniques to help you instill the right amount of emotion in your plot, characters, dialogue, and setting. The information it covers isn’t ground-breaking, but with the clear, well-structured presentation and in-depth examples makes it easy to follow and a thrill to learn from. Writing also includes exercises at the end of each chapter, suggested books and movies to study, and distinctions between too much emotion versus not enough. I can’t tell you how many Post-It notes I used on my copy, just to refer back to certain parts in the future.

Buy Writing With Emotion, Tension, and Conflict at Amazon, or add it to your Goodreads shelf.

Thesaurus Collection

BONUS: Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s Thesaurus Collection 

I know I’ve talked about Angela and Becca’s thesauri before on the blog – but I can’t write a 5 on the 5th post about writing craft book recommendations and not mention them. Each of these references have been become instrumental to different stages of my writing process. The Positive Trait and Negative Trait Thesauri lists a cornucopia of characteristics, qualities, and flaws that help you create well-rounded characters while keeping in mind their personal histories and the origins of those traits. The Emotion Thesaurus, on the other hand, catalogs 75 different emotions and possible physical, physiological / internal, and mental reactions associated with those feelings. I’ve kept that last thesaurus closeby while revising my WIP so I can vary my characters’ reactions and mannerisms. (Otherwise, the story would feature more smiling, frowning, and eyebrow-raising than necessary!)

Buy Angela and Becca’s Thesaurus Collection at Amazon, or add each book to your Goodreads shelf. You can also buy the thesauri directly from Writers Helping Writers’ bookstore.

My Nominees for the Creative Blogger Award

Now, who shall I choose as my victims nominees for the Creative Blogger Award? 😉 Like with past awards, you’re free to accept or decline it; and if you choose to accept, please link back to my post so I can check it out.

  1. Alison @ Alison’s Wonderland Recipes
  2. Alyssa Carlier @ The Devil Orders Takeout
  3. Brianna da Silva @ StoryPort
  4. Damyanti Biswas @ Daily (W)rite 
  5. Kat @ Life and Other Disasters

What are some of your favorite books or resources on the craft of writing? Got any recommendations you’d like to share? 

23 thoughts on “5 on the 5th: Five Bookish Christmas Gift Ideas for Writers (+ The Creative Blogger Award)

  1. Sara, thanks for including our books–you are too good to Becca and I! Very glad they have helped you as you write. I am quite excited about these others too as only one is currently on my bookshelves. I am a total writing craft book nut!

    Have a terrific weekend,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Rebekah! 🙂 I wanted to do something more creative with this award post, too, because of its name. And since I was already planning to do a 5 on the 5th about writing-craft books, it was the perfect way to combine both.

      Ha ha, you’re not the only one who’s slow with writing-craft books, too. 😉 Reading for pleasure tends to take precedence over informative / educational books – which explains why it’s taken me almost a year to finish a 500-page encyclopedia on fairies and other fantastical / mythical / supernatural creatures. (*blushes*)

      Thank you! I think the virtual snow is a holiday thing WordPress does, because other WP blogs I follow have it as well. 🙂


  2. Those all look like fantastic books. My personal favorite book on craft is 20 Master Plots by Ronald Tobias. It’s just an amazing reference for building a plot and what should be included in each. Since most writers are only familiar with the Hero’s Journey, that book was invaluable for me to discover other plot styles that worked better for my novel (antihero/escape).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the nomination, Sara! I bounced around all over my living room when I saw I’d been tagged. ^.^
    I bought The 3 am Epiphany a while back and haven’t had a chance to unpack it yet after moving. Now that I’m planning a new novel for next year’s NaNo, I’ll dig it out and get some writing practice in! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😀 😀 Well, I think you deserve it, Allison. I love the premise of your blog – I’ve never found one quite like it!

      I haven’t used The 3 A.M. Epiphany as much as I’d like to. But the few times I’ve used to, I’ve really benefited from it. 🙂 Enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve added just about all of these to my goodreads list now! I get so caught up buying story books that I keep forgetting to get a few good writing craft books, haha. 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a great list and for accepting the award–you deserve it, my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fabulous set of writing craft books. I can also testify to the usefulness of The Emotion Thesaurus – but I very much like the ‘Poemcrazy’ and ‘Writer’s Book of Days’ – which is DEFINITELY going on my Christmas list!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Time Flies!: December 2015 | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

  7. Pingback: Creative Blogger Award « Life and Other Disasters

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