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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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Author and music critic Will Friedwald, whose new book is The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums (Pantheon). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to listen to Tiny Tim singing “Living in the Sunlight,” from the album God Bless Tiny Tim, which you can find a live performance of on YouTube, and write about it. It is a trip.

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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2012 Interview with John Homans, author of What's a Dog For? (Penguin

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the lives of two men born on this date: martial artist and actor Bruce Lee, born November 27, 1940, and American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter Jimi Hendrix, born November 27, 1942. Both men had ties to Seattle. Hendrix was born there. Lee moved there to attend college and later opened a martial arts school there. Both men struggled to achieve success in their fields, and each finally achieved it before dying young, eventually becoming a legend in his respective field. This week, consider these men and their lives and careers. Consider their fortunes, good and bad, their determination and talent. And then either write about them, or allow their stories to inform the work that you’re doing.

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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An interview from the archives - and my previous station, "The Radiator" - with Robin Cook, American physician and novelist who writes about medicine and topics affecting public health. He is best known for combining medical writing with the thriller genre. His breakout novel was Coma. We discussed his 2012 medical thriller, Nano (Berkley). 

Happy Thanksgiving! This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about a holiday cooking disaster. 

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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Guest host Kim MacQueen interviews Shozan Jack Haubner,

Zen monk and author. His latest book is Single White Monk (Shambalah).

Kim_Mac_Photo.jpg 

      Kim MacQueen

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by Kim’s and my guest, Shozan Jack Haubner. Sit in a quiet, comfortable way for ten to fifteen minutes. Put your attention on your soft, flowing breath. Do nothing but breathe. It's easy as long as you don't think too much. Breathing is a pleasurable sensation; peace and focus, manifest in the body and mind. If you can't loosen and open up you can't write jack squat. Words surface of their own accord from a deep and bottomless well. And don't glance at your clock! Set a timer. When the timer goes off, take your pen and your writing notebook (or, if you must, your laptop), and write what's coming up from the silence. Don't think about it, just like you didn't think about your breathing. Like breath, the words will come whether you think about them or not. Write until your hand aches without reading a word of it until you've taken a break, gotten your coffee, checked your email (if you must), and are ready to listen to yourself on the page as uncritically as a mother listens to her child learning to speak.

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 Adam Federman, whose new book is Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray (Chelsea Green).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to look for inspiration in a cookbook. So, for example, in my kitchen I do have the cookbook by Salvadore Dali, which is titled Les Diners de Gala. In opening the book, I find many things. Recipes like Lobster with Black Pearls, Ramekins of Frog’s Legs, and Tripe of Yesteryear. Maybe you’ll open a more tame cookbook, and find an inscription from a friend, reminding you of a long-ago birthday or anniversary. Maybe you’ll be inspired by a photograph of a lamb chop with mint jelly. Or maybe a recipe for turkey with roquefort will inspire you to write about a family celebrating thanksgiving in France. Whatever you find, let it be the way into this week’s writing.

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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Grant Faulkner whose new book is Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo (Chronicle). Grant is a very busy man this week. He is Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, which begins on Wednesday, because Wednesday is November 1st. If you aren’t aware, NaNoWriMo is (as described on their website, NaNoWriMo.org): "a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel."

As promised, I’m offering multiple Write the Book Prompts this week. And the next two are from Grant Faulkner’s new book, Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo. These might be of particular value if you are participating in NaNoWriMo this November.

  • First, Set a Goal. Set a Deadline. “This is the big moment. Map out your writing goals-big goals and all the milestones that lead up to them. Pin a piece of paper with your goals over your writing desk. Tattoo them on your arm if need be. Set deadlines on your online calendar-with reminders. Form a strategy of accountability and enact it.” That is from Grant’s sixth pep talk, “Goal+Deadline=Magic.”
  • His seventh is titled “Embrace Constraints,” and it’s in this pep talk that he explains writing sprints. So here is one more for you: “Explore the creative power of limitations. Set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes and push yourself to simply dive into your novel wherever you can. This strategy is similar to the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method that breaks down work into intervals separated by short breaks. Bursts of focus with frequent breaks can improve your mental agility.”

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion. And if you’re planning to participate in NaNoWriMo, good luck! Go for it! And don’t forget that the organization offers lots of support at nanowrimo dot-org.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Newbury- and National Book Award-Winning Vermont author of Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson, whose new novel is My Brigadista Year (Candlewick). 

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to consider an historical event that might have reverberations in our own time, and write about it. 

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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As a bonus this week, a new conversation with Bear Pond Books Co-Owner

Claire Benedict, about recent books that she's enjoyed. They are: 

 

The Heart's Invisible Furies, by John Boyne (Hogarth Press)

Landscape with Invisible Hand, by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick Press)

Wonder Valley, by Ivy Pochoda (Ecco Press)

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press)

 

Thanks for listening! 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Essayist Fiona Helmsley, author of Girls Gone Old (We Heard You Like Books).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write about something you’re ashamed of, or not proud of. You don’t have to show it to anyone. Just write. Write on paper with a pen or pencil, if you don’t trust doing it on your computer. Tell yourself you can destroy it after, if you feel the need. See what happens. Maybe being honest about your shameful moment will help you push past something. Or maybe you’ll decide it wasn’t so shameful after all, and you can shape it into something you might be proud of.

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 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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