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Archive for the 'Blogs' Category

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 some basic, helpful advice suggested by my guest, Bob Boyd: Sit down and just start putting words on paper. The process evolves. If you don't get started, Bob says, you'll never get finished. He adds that being prone sometimes helps him come up with ideas. Though if you write in your job, as he did at Burch & Co., lying down at the office can create difficulties. Bob acknowledges that everyone's different. Lying down might help some people. For others, a walk might be the relaxing activity that gets the ideas flowing. Figure out what works for you. Then, as soon as you have an idea, even if it's in the middle of the night, put something on paper. You can always get back to it later. But preserve the idea so it's waiting for you.

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

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students, now alums).

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Two interviews this week:

1) Award-winning Irish author Tana French, whose latest Dublin Murder Squad novel is Broken Harbor, published by Viking/Penguin.

2) Local writer Carrie Mackillop, recent winner of NPR's 3-Minute Fiction Contest and owner of the Old Brick Store in Charlotte, VT.

Today's Write The Book prompt was suggested by my guest, Carrie Mackillop. Write a story of 600 words in which a parent confesses something to a child. Carrie also offered an opening line, "Tess was drowning in inefficiency." You could use that in conjunction with her first prompt, or on its own as a first line, just as NPR's first line inspired Carrie to write Rainy Wedding.

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

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Massachusetts novelist Andrew Goldstein, author of The Bookie's Son, published by 617 Books.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write a setting from your childhood. It might be the bedroom you had before your family moved to another town when you were in high school, or it might be the street in front of your house, a scene from your kindergarten classroom, or from the back seat of your parents' car. Try to capture the details that will help readers understand what it was like to be in that place, and in particular, to be you -- your childhood self -- in that place. Consider colors as you write, and odors. The smells from the kitchen as mother cooked, the sound of a vacuum, the sounds of your parents talking from the other side of a closed door. What was it like to be there? Was it air conditioned? Or did the heater go all the time so that the windows had to be left open? What made you feel particularly safe, or comfortable, or frightened to be there? Try to capture it and then see how you might use it, or simply what you learned from writing it, in a larger piece of writing.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

Listen Now:


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Novelist Carol Anshaw, whose new book is Carry The One, published by Simon and Schuster.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Carol Anshaw, who uses it in her classes in the MFA in Writing program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The prompt actually started from an exercise in the book What If? by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter, although Carol uses a slightly altered version. Take an event that happened in your life between the ages of 5 and 11. Write a list comprised of everything you can remember about that incident. Then make a second list: everything you don't remember. Write a story using that second list. The exercise is particularly useful for new writers, who, afterward, might better understand the process of creating fiction. Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont short story writer Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise, published by Simon and Schuster.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my conversation with Megan Mayhew Bergman. Twice during our conversation, she talked about slowing down the fiction narrative, to its benefit. She mentioned slowing things down poetically as you approach the end of a story. She also talked about slowing down the outcome of a suspenseful moment in a story. This week, think about how you might use this advice in a story or a scene of your own. Slow things down, perhaps when you're most tempted to speed things up, and see what happens.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

Listen Now:


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Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my conversation with Susan Cain. The tenth chapter of her book, QUIET, is called "The Communication Gap: How to Talk to Members of the Opposite Type." The chapter begins with this paragraph: "If introverts and extroverts are the north and south of temperament-opposite ends of a single spectrum- then how can they possibly get along? Yet the two types are often drawn to each other-in friendship, business, and especially romance. These pairs can enjoy great excitement and mutual admiration, a sense that each completes the other. One tends to listen, the other to talk; one is sensitive to beauty, but also to slings and arrows, while the other barrels cheerfully through his days; one pays the bills and the other arranges the children's play dates. But it can also cause problems when members of these unions pull in opposite directions." Consider this paragraph, then write a scene or a poem that includes dialogue between an introvert and an extrovert. And many thanks to Susan for permission to reprint that paragraph.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

Listen Now:


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Executive Director of Montpelier Alive! Phayvanh Luekhamhan, Co-Creator of PoemCity, Montpelier's celebration of National Poetry Month.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Phayvanh Leukhanman. She got it from a workshop with the poet L. Oliver de la Paz, who called it the Rube Goldberg poem. Essentially, you should write a poem including words and ideas that seem, at first glance, disparate, unlikely. For example, in Phayvanh's PoemCity submission, she wrote a poem that had two references to her age, one reference to a bit of history, the inclusion of the words protractor and accordian, and a color which she set out to make "speak." Phayvanh's poem, created from this exercise, is posted in Montpelier City Hall this month.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont organic gardener and writer Ron Krupp, whose books are The Woodchuck's Guide to Gardening and Lifting The Yoke: Local Solutions to America's Farm and Food Crisis.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about your eating habits or those of someone you know. You can journal about how those habits have changed for the better or worse, how education has played a role, whether organic and/or locally-grown foods are an important part of this person's diet, and why or why not.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

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Robin Hemley, author of the book Do Over! “in which a 48- year-old father of three returns to kindergarten, summer camp, the prom, and other embarrassments.” Robin will have two new books out in 2012: Reply All: Stories (Break Away Books), and A Field Guide for Immersion Writing: Memoir, Journalism, and Travel, (University of Georgia Press). You can find more information about these on Robin's website.

The sound quality of today's archive rebroadcast was not great. Not sure what happened, but a bit buzzy. So here I'm posting the old podcast as it originally ran in 2009, in hopes of providing better sound quality. The were minor differences in the intro and closing, most notably a new prompt, which I'm offering below. Thanks for your patience.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to organize your own Do Over. Maybe it doesn't make a lot of sense for you to redo the prom, or to re-enroll in kindergarten. But perhaps you had another experience in recent weeks or months that you wish you could do over. Go back to the store where a counter person was rude and you left feeling upset. Or make plans to see a friend to whom YOU were perhaps rude, or were not your best self in some way, and you left feeling embarrassed or frustrated or uniquely human. Revisit your old school, if it's nearby, track down one of your former teachers. Maybe you gave a reading at a local open mike venue and it went poorly; try it again. See how it goes to re-approach an imperfect experience with new enthusiasm and perspective. And then write about the two events, and what you might have taken away from this exercise.

Good luck with it, and please listen next week for another!

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Award Winning Writer of Children's Books Kate Messner, whose latest is Over and Under the Snow. If you're interested to read about libraries in need following Tropical Storm Irene, check out this part of Kate's blog.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write a story, a scene, a poem, or a paragraph that has something to do with the kind of reader you were as a child.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

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