The 2017 Blogoversary, Part 2: The Writerly Wisdom Giveaways

Last week was the launch of this year’s 8th blogoversary “party,” with a giveaway featuring ten unique fiction books I highly recommend. (Sunday, July 9th was the actual blogoversary.) Today, it’s time for conclude the celebration… with two more giveaways! And since both prizes are writing-related, I’m calling them the Writerly Wisdom giveaways, after my semi-weekly Writer Wisdom quote series.

So which books are options for the first giveaway? (Hint: Check out the banner image above.) What did I find so enriching or inspiring about each one? And, what is the mysterious second giveaway? Read on to find out!

Giveaway #1: Winner’s Choice of One of Eight Writing Craft and Inspiration Books via The Book Depository (International)

For the first Writerly Wisdom giveaway, one (1) reader will win their book of choice from these eight writing craft and inspiration books via The Book Depository. This giveaway is international (i.e., open to all countries that TBD ships to), so before you enter, click here to ensure that your country is on their list.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic isn’t exclusively for writers. Anyone who is creative or wishes to inject more creativity into their daily life can benefit from the wisdom, anecdotes, and occasional hard truths shared by bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert. Readers might not agree with some of her points (particularly with her belief about the connection between spirituality and creativity, though I personally had no problem with her statements), but for the most part this is a treasure trove of insights on incorporating more “magic” into our lives and becoming our most empowered, creative selves. I came away from this book incredibly inspired and more motivated than ever to keep pursuing my dreams.

DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community by Gabriela Pereira

OK, I admit this one may be a biased choice. But even if I wasn’t a columnist at the DIY MFA website, my opinions on it wouldn’t be much different. The DIY MFA Book expounds on Gabriela Pereira’s core concepts of writing with focus, reading with purpose, and building one’s writing community, all while presenting an alternative to the traditional MFA program rather than denouncing it. Whether you’re starting the rough draft of your first novel or have been writing for years, you’ll find all kinds of advice and techniques to add to your toolkit, from developing a targeted reading plan and networking with writers and industry professionals, to dealing with rejection and failure. And as someone who has opted not to pursue an MFA due to financial and genre reasons, I can’t adequately express how much I appreciate the knowledge and encouragement that leaps off these pages.

The Emotions Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

Like with DIY MFA, I’m partial to Angela and Becca’s work for many reasons. But I can’t not recommend The Emotions Thesaurus, because it has become an instrumental part of my writing process. If you struggle with conveying character emotion, or want to avoid using “He was sad” and other vague statements, this one-of-a-kind reference can help. Each entry includes a comprehensive list of physical cues, physiological / internal sensations, thoughts, and other evidence of showing how a character feels. I also have a bad habit of repeating emotional reactions (e.g., having every character raise an eyebrow when they’re confused). So when I’m looking for variety in those reactions, I pick up The Emotions Thesaurus and find other possible reactions that might fit each character.

Fierce on the Page: Become the Writer You Were Meant to Be and Succeed on Your Own Terms by Sage Cohen

I’m only about one-third of the way through Fierce on the Page right now, but I’m listing it here because it’s the book on writing that I really needed right now. It’s a series of 70+ short essays that inspire, motivate, and offer practical tips on becoming the best writer that you can be. Because the truth is, every writer has different strengths and habits, and some of the advice you hear or read from published authors or industry professionals isn’t going to work for you. Sage Cohen acknowledges this, and focuses on helping writers cultivate a mindset and tailor practices to their unique needs. Within the first several chapters of Fierce, I found nuggets of advice that appealed to me at that moment for one reason or another. And gosh, I love her writing style. It’s so engaging and authentic, and it allows her wisdom to resonate even more profoundly.

Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

Speaking of reference books that feature incredible writing, here’s a diamond for anyone who writes or appreciates poetry or is looking for ways to broaden their perspective and liven up their language. Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy dives heart first into the genre, sharing countless sources of inspiration, playful and innovative techniques, and experiences from both her poetry workshops and her private life that have impacted her poetry. Most chapters end with exercises, so you can put her tricks and wisdom into practice. I wish I could list one thing I love most about Poemcrazy… But I can’t. Her writing is graceful and evocative with hints of whimsy, and her enthusiasm for her craft is contagious. She also remembers to look outside for ideas as well as within, reminding us that poetry can be an act of observation or introspection – or, in some cases, both.

Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do by Meredith Maran

At first glance, Why We Write may look like a compilation of writing advice from twenty bestselling authors from various genres and from all over the world. But once you start reading, it’s clear that this is more like an anthology of candid experience-sharing. In their own words, Isabel Allende, David Baldacci, Ann Patchett, and others write not just about their joys and successes as authors, but also their failures and frustrations. Sure, there are tidbits of advice within all those anecdotes, but nothing feels forced or black-or-white. In fact, the variety of experiences and techniques explored by these authors is one of Why We Write‘s greatest takeaways. This book reminds us that every writer, published or not, travels their own path in order to achieve their goals and will struggle along the way. Yet every writer will also have their unique reasons for sticking with their craft – and in all of these cases, their perseverance has paid off.

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer

This is hands down one of the most imaginative and entertaining books on the craft of writing that I’ve ever read. And it’s not because of the advice that’s given, since much of it (characterization, plot and structure, etc.) isn’t new. So what makes Wonderbook such a treat? Its presentation. This book is loaded with vividly colorful graphics, charts, and illustrations. Some are gorgeous and thought-provoking; others will have you laughing until your ribs hurt. Wonderbook also includes a full-length interview with George R.R. Martin and essays from other notable science fiction and fantasy authors, from Ursula K. Le Guin and Neil Gaiman to Lev Grossman and Nnedi Okorafor. So, yes, it’s inspiring and informative. But in my opinion, it’s also THE nonfiction book on speculative fiction that best represents its genre. It’s so intelligent, so creative, and just so gosh darn cool that you know you want to make room for it on your shelf – that is, if you have one big enough for it!

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

Do you like to try your hand at writing prompts now and then? Then A Writer’s Book of Days will keep you busy – and for a long time. This treasure trove of writing wisdom and inspiration features 365 prompts, one for each day of the year. It also features quotes from and amusing facts about famous authors; countless tips and exercises to flex your writing muscles; and insights on writer’s block, time management, writing groups, and other topics. And like with Sage Cohen’s writing style in Fierce on the Page and Susan G. Wooldridge’s in Poemcrazy, Judy Reeves’ words in A Writer’s Book of Days dance and sing and somersault in their own unique way. This book really is more of a companion than a guide or resource. It’s as practical and playful and as it is instructive and inspiring.

Giveaway #2: A Writing Prize of the Winner’s Choice (International)

Since I know a few readers who live in countries that aren’t on The Book Depository’s shipping list, I’m adding a second Writerly Wisdom giveaway that’s more inclusive. One (1) additional winner will win a writing prize of their choice from the list below: 

  1. A critique of the first chapter of your manuscript
  2. A critique of a short story up to 5,000 words
  3. A writing coaching session via Zoom or Skype for up to 1 hour
  4. A guest post option of your choice (I can guest post at your blog, you can write a guest post for mine, or we can do a swap)

The winner’s prize will be good for up to one (1) year after the winner accepts it. For example, if you choose the first-chapter critique option but aren’t ready to have it read until 3 months or 6 months from now, that’s OK! You can “cash in” on your prize anytime during the one-year timeframe.

Rules for the Writerly Wisdom Giveaways

Both Writerly Wisdom giveaways end at midnight Eastern time on Tuesday, July 25th. Everyone is welcome to enter either or both giveaways, and can also participate in the Unique Reads giveaway that started last Thursday. However, please note that each giveaway will have a different winner. So if you enter both Writerly Wisdom giveaways, you will win only of the two giveaways.

Click on the link below to access the Rafflecopter widget, then follow the instructions to earn points for comments, social media, etc. Also, let me know which book and/or writing prize you’d like to win in your comment on this post. (If you’re interested in Giveaway #1, you might also want to list second- and third-choice books, in case your first choice isn’t available.) Each winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email and claim their prize.

EDIT: Congratulations to E.E. Rawls! She won Giveaway #1 and will receive a copy of The Emotions Thesaurus.

What are some of your favorite writing craft and inspiration books? Have you read any of the books listed above?

Also, thank you all once again for continuing to visit, comment, and share these blog posts. Your friendship, enthusiasm, and support are among the reasons why I’ve kept blogging for 8 years. 🙂

36 thoughts on “The 2017 Blogoversary, Part 2: The Writerly Wisdom Giveaways

  1. What a wonderful range of books you’ve posted, Sara:). I’m definitely going to be chasing down Poemcrazy and A Writer’s Book of Days… Thank you for such a helpful, instructive post and congratulations on your blogoversary – I’m very, very glad you blog and I have had the pleasure of meeting you. I now regard you as a good friend:)).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a copy of Wonderbook and it’s truly amazing. Whether it teaches you about how to construct a fantasy world is almost beside the point. It’s such fun to just get lost in the pages!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is! The artwork and graphics make it a must-have all on their own. They’re so colorful and vivid… and a few of them are hysterical. XD It’s good to see a worldbuilding book with a sense of humor!


  3. Oh, I think I’d be interested in Big Magic, Wonderbook, and Why We Write. One of the women in my writing group recommended Big Magic a while ago, and I still haven’t read it. I own The Emotion Thesaurus and love it, although it’s a new acquisition so I haven’t spent much time with it yet. My favorite writing books is Don’t Sabotage Your Submission: Insider Information from a Career Manuscript Editor to Save Your Manuscript from Turning up D.O.A. by Chris Roerden. I’ll have to remember this list and come back when I need another book on the writing craft. I currently have six (lol, I didn’t realize I’d recently bought that many) that I have on my list to read. I just remembered one of the first books I read about writing was On Writing by Stephen King. I really enjoyed that book. After reading it I remember thinking maybe I do have a place in this writing world.
    Thanks for making such a fun celebration for your readers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Mandie! And great choices for your giveaway picks. 😉

      Isn’t the Emotions Thesaurus fantastic? I try not to use it too much during a first draft, but when I’m stuck it’s a great resource to have handy. I hope you find the same thing as you continue to use that book.

      I really should read On Writing at some point. I don’t have it yet, but it’s such a standard in terms of craft-of-writing books… But like you, I have a number of craft and inspiration books already on my shelves that I haven’t read yet… and when I go to WDC, I have a feeling I might get a few more. Oh dear. XD

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Not much of a writer myself, but these two books sounds great.

    1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
    2. Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Another great giveaway! I borrowed DIY MFA from the library and loved it — it’s on my list to buy one of these days. And I previously bought the Emotion Thesaurus on your recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. May I say this is a REALLY cool giveaway, Sara? ♥ I don’t think I’ve ever read an inspirational book in my life *shame on me, I know*, but I have the feeling that I should. Not only because I’d love to write a book one day, but also because I feel so stuck in a routine, so scared of doing new things, I don’t feel creative anymore! Which is why I’d love to win BIG MAGIC, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I think it would suit me and help me a lot! Plus, I remember the first time I saw its cover… I completely fell in love with it! So colorful! 😀
    Thank you so much, Sara, and I wish you a SUPER HAPPY BLOGIVERSARY!! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Gosh, I’ve been so behind on commenting on other people’s blogs that the giveaway date has passed me by. 🙁 I’m so sorry, Sara! It was really nice of you to include a prize for those who live in non-TBD countries.
    My writing has been suffering a lot lately and I don’t know what to do. There’s a lack of motivation and a lack of time. I tried to participate in the July Camp NaNoWriMo, but it’s 30th here and I still haven’t written a word towards my modest goal of 5k. I’m thinking of picking up a book that will push me to start writing again. Do you have any recommendations? I see a wonderful list on here, but I’m not sure which one will fit my current mood.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve been busy, Nandini. Don’t be hard on yourself. And… to be honest, no one actually volunteered for Giveaway #2. So, if you’d like it, it’s yours. Just send me an email via the Contact page.

      Btw you just reminded me that I need to update this to list the winner for Giveaway #1. Will do that after I finish responding to your comment. 😉

      I’m tempted to recommend Fierce On The Page just because I’m reading it right now. But it really is inspiring. I keep running into advice that’s relevant and causing me to rethink certain… well, not aspects of my writing practice, but aspects of my mentality toward myself as a writer. Big Magic is gorgeous, too, and Writer’s Book of Days has so many prompts and ideas that it’s a bit overwhelming, but in the best way possible. I don’t think you could go wrong with either of those three.

      And remember, you’re going through a HUGE lifestyle change right now. That might be why your writing has suffered recently. You have a job now; it’s probably not nearly as enjoyable as writing, but it’s part of your life now. If it helps, the three things I find most important to keep me writing after work are a) planning the writing blocks in advance so I know when I’ll be writing, b) being grateful that I made those plans and am actively working to keep writing in my life, and c) showing up, no matter how many or how few words I type in the end. Any day that I write is better than any day I don’t write, simply for that reason. It just takes time to get used to such a change, that’s all. Be persistent, but also be patient with yourself. *hugs*

      Liked by 1 person

      • I will try to find a suitable time in my schedule and let you know. 🙂
        Perhaps I’ll check out Fierce on the Page. I think Big Magic is more readily available here though (I remember seeing it on Amazon). Thanks for the recommendations! 🙂 I’ll keep them in mind.
        *tears up a bit and fumbles with words* I don’t know what I’d do if you didn’t keep telling me to go easy on myself. I’m still struggling to adjust my expectations, but I don’t think I’d even try if it weren’t for your constant encouragement.
        Here in India I’ve (and so do most people) been living with my parents all through college as well, so the sudden change into adulthood (such as paying bills and investing money) is scary. I find that I have to interact with many people to get things done that would just automatically happen before. Being the shy introvert that I am, that’s additional stress for me. I’m trying to get used to that and then maybe I’ll have more energy to focus on other aspects.
        Thanks for the tips! 🙂 It’s almost August and I’m planning a new timetable for myself so that I can discipline my mind and lessen my guilt. I’m making it as flexible as possible so I’m not pushing myself too hard. I really hope this works as I have a history of not following through with my plans.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No worries, and no rush. I just thought I’d offer it. 😉

        Awwwwww. (*gives Nandini a tissue*) You’re welcome. I just keep thinking back to that post where you said you were telling your brain to cut yourself some slack (I think that’s how you worded it?). And my reaction was, “Gosh, I know how she feels.” Because it was a struggle for me, too, to adjust to my new life once I started working. But I had high expectations for myself, and so did most of the people around me. So it took me longer to reach the point you have. So… yeah. It comes from a place of honesty and experience.

        Btw, if I ever sound like I’m nagging instead of helping, please let me know. I don’t want to be a pain, intentionally or not.

        Good idea with creating a schedule and being flexible with it. That will definitely help. And in terms of following through with your plans, maybe something that promotes accountability might help you to stick to them? What do you think?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Being pretty much a high achiever throughout my life, I have grown to expect a lot from myself, and so have the people around me. I understand how that feels. Having to suddenly reduce my expectations is difficult for me as well.

        No, it doesn’t sound like nagging at all. Your words have always been kind and encouraging throughout. I think I’d have a much harder time if it weren’t for you. *hugs*

        I haven’t thought of an exact way to be accountable yet. I’m trying a reward-based system wherein I give myself small rewards for smaller tasks (such as 15 minutes of extra sleep 😂) and bigger ones for something like finishing all my blog posts on time in a week (buying something I really want from my own money). I don’t usually have that many demands, so I’m sure I won’t go overboard with the big rewards. I hope that makes sense!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah. It takes time to adjust our expectations, and we don’t always have the patience for it. But it can be done, as long as you realize the changes you need to make and actively work toward them.

        *lol* OK, good. I just wanted to make sure. And I’m rooting for you! 🙂

        If you think a rewards-based system might work for you, then go for it. And I like the rewards you chose. 😉 Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: A Look Back on My Growth as a Blogger (#MyFirstPostRevisited Blog Hop) | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

  9. Aww some good ones there. Big Magic was very inspirational and I love Wonderbook too (though I haven’t finished it yet).
    Other writing/creativity books that I love are On Writing by Stephen King and Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann.


  10. I might be late for the giveaway part, but your post doesn’t lose anything because of that: it’s still very informative about craft books and I’ve read it with interest. I know some of them, but some are new to me, and I consider checking them out, so thank you :).

    Liked by 1 person

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