Holiday Gift-Giving for the Writer in Your Life: O-Dark-Thirty Editors’ Picks

Managing Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of craft and writing life blog posts that the editors of O-Dark-Thirty will be posting. Senior Editor/Fiction Editor Jim Mathews is leading the charge with three posts for the month of December.

It’s the gift-giving season, and O-Dark-Thirty’s Senior Editor/Fiction Editor Jim Mathews (who also said something about holiday cookies for our upcoming editorial board meeting on Saturday) started a blog post recommending a gift for the military writer in your life. The rest of the editorial staff shared their holiday gift-giving picks as well. Enjoy!

Jim says:

 “If you’ve got a fiction writer in your life — and yes, it may even be yourself – then what better gift than one that makes him/her/you an even better writer?

“Check out these links to a great writer’s tool to which every writer should have access: the Visual Dictionary.  It’s quite useful for slipping in those little details that can often add just enough texture to the image in the reader’s head…even if they don’t understand precisely what a ‘hip and valley roof’ is…or where the “wheelhouse” is on a ship…or what a “ribbed cuff” is on a cardigan…etc., etc — come to think of it, I don’t even know precisely what those things are!

“And if you want something with a bit of heft to wrap and tuck under the tree, you can also order the Webster’s version in hard copy here. And if it’s for yourself, just tell everyone it’s from Santa!”

Nonfiction editor Dario DiBattista adds:

“Moleskine [notebook], soft cover. Comes in tactical colors, if necessary. Able to fit unobtrusively into breast or back pocket. Helpful in taking discreet notes. Bonus: if you’re writing in your Moleskine when your boss comes by, he’ll think you’re doing something very important and won’t volunteer you for extra duties!”

Poetry editor Fred Foote recommends a few books set in Vietnam:

Contributing editor Carmelinda Blagg is into the classics this season. She suggests –

  • The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (Scribner, paperback), which contains his early stories published as a collection in 1938; and
  • Difficult Loves, a collection of stories by Italo Calvino which includes about a half-dozen wartime stories.This is early Calvino – not as the writer of intricate fables, but as a moral realist with writing that is vivid and beautiful.

Managing editor Jerri Bell frequently gets her best ideas and phrases in the shower, and recommends AquaNotes waterproof pads and pencils with suction cups. They’ll keep the best part of your Great American Novel from sliding down the drain with the shampoo.

She also recommends Mary Lee Settle’s memoir All the Brave Promises: Memories of Aircraft Woman 2nd Class 2146391. Settle, an American woman who enlisted in the Royal Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, served as a communicator and air traffic controller at an air base in England in World War II. Her short memoir provides a different and significant perspective on the wartime lives and activities of the “Greatest Generation.”

And, from Art Editor Mike Fay:

“I’d go with Siegfried Sasson’s autobiographical trilogy under the pseudonym of George Sherston.  I’d also recommend David Jones’ prose poem In Parenthesis.”

The editorial staff of O-Dark-Thirty wishes all of our readers, contributors, and colleagues the very best of the holiday season!