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Write The Book

Burlington, Vermont radio show about writing. For writers and curious readers, featuring interviews with authors, poets, agents, editors, and illustrators. One of Writer's Digest Magazine's 101 Best Website for Writers in 2016 and 2017.

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Award-Winning Swiss Author Peter Stamm, whose new novel is To the Back of Beyond (Other Press). 

This week we have two Write the Book Prompts, both generously suggested by my guest, Peter Stamm, who has used them in classes he’s taught. The first is to look at another person’s random receipt and see what it suggests that could become a story or a poem. What was purchased, and where? What was the cost? The date? The cashier’s name? Was it an expensive item? Was it on sale? Let the details collect for you and write. The other prompt is to find inspiration in a graveyard, looking at gravestones. Usually these only suggest a name, the dates of a life, but sometimes also family members, a cause of death, a war, a favorite quotation. See what these suggest to you about this person, and if a character might begin to present him or herself to you as you study the grave.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Jennifer Egan, whose new novel is Manhattan Beach (Scribner). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Jennifer Egan, who - as you’ve just heard - discovers her story as she writes it, knowing only the time and place when she begins. This prompt is very much in keeping with that approach. She suggests, “Write without knowing what you are writing. Cover the screen of your laptop and write continuously for 15 minutes. Print and read.  Viola!”

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Award-winning author Joan Wickersham, whose memoir The Suicide Index, was a finalist for the National Book Award. We discussed her story collection, The News From Spain (Vintage Contemporaries).

I love the way that Joan Wickersham was able to write seven stories that vary thematically but are all titled The News From Spain. Can you think of another context for this title? That’s this week’s Write the Book Prompt. Consider ‘The News from Spain’ as a concept, and write.  If you haven’t read her book, and so don’t know what contexts to eliminate, try that much harder to think of applications that might seem a little wacky or outside the normal frame. Or maybe go read her book!

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Vermont Author Nancy Hayes Kilgore, whose new novel is Wild Mountain (Green Writers Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest Nancy Hayes Kilgore, who is a pastoral counselor and has been a parish pastor as well. She suggests considering, “What was your first spiritual experience? Where were you? What could you see and feel? What were your senses telling you at that time? What spiritual awakening might have come out of the moment?” Consider these questions, and use them as inspiration as you begin to write.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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A series of excerpts of past Write the Book Interviews with guests who have had some association with the Vermont Book Award, which will again be presented this Saturday, 9/23/17, at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

Missing from these excerpts are two related authors: Thomas Christopher Greene, president of VCFA, which founded the award, and Tanya Lee Stone, one of this year's judges. I simply didn't have time to excerpt all of the interviews I wanted to! But listen to their full interviews by clicking the links on their names. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week! 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Bestselling Author Ann Hood, whose new memoir is Morningstar: Growing Up with Books (W. W. Norton & Company). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Ann Hood. It is based on an exercise with which she has had good luck, from the craft book, What If? by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. The exercise is called write a story using a small unit of time. And that’s just what you do. Write a story and ensure that it takes place within the time it takes to bake a cake, or walk to school, or drive to the airport. Contain the story within a specific period of time in order to challenge yourself to fully craft a narrative arc without using years in your characters’ lives to develop that arc: a beginning, a middle, an end. An opportunity for your character to experience some change.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Literary Agent with Trident Media Mark Gottlieb. 

It is now officially football season. The Bills have a win, the Patriots, a loss. But it’s early days. This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write about a football game that begins in a friendly way and turns nasty. It can be about a Thanksgiving touch football game, or a group of old friends coming together to watch the Superbowl. It can be about high school parents, professional players, the fans, or the guy selling beer and hot dogs. Be sure to describe the weather, the smells and sounds and colors.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Interview from the archives with Vermont Writer and Writing Coach, 

Tamar Cole (tamarcole21@gmail.com).

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by a prompt that Tamar Cole has used in her writing workshops. She offers a word and then has participants write six lines about that word, or influenced by that word. So let's do that. In honor of Labor Day, the word for this week's prompt is enterprise. Think about the word enterprise, and write six lines. Or more!

Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another.

 

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Interview from the archives with Local Writer and Tai Chi Teacher 

Bob Boyd, author of Snake Style Tai Chi Chuan:

The Hidden System of the Yang Family.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to consider the movement of an animal and use that in a comparative piece about human nature. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

 

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Literary Agent Anne Hawkins, with John Hawkins & Associates, Inc., in New York City. 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Anne Hawkins. If you work in prose—fiction, creative nonfiction, nonfiction, or memoir—be extremely careful in your use of backstory, because it can really slow down a book. Do not frontload backstory, Anne says; let it trickle in as the book goes on so that it does not wreck the pacing for your readers.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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