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Archive for the 'Journalism' Category

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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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UCLA Professor Emeritus Ralph Frerichs, author of Deadly River: Cholera and Cover-Up in Post-Earthquake Haiti (Cornell University Press). This nonfiction medical mystery explores how the greatest cholera epidemic in recent times arose in Haiti. The book follows French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux, who conducted the investigation, and presents a case-study of how humanitarian organizations and their followers react when difficult truths become uncomfortable. 


This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to study a map, and write about what you see there, what you learn, what places you suddenly want to travel to.


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


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Anna Quindlen American author, journalist, and opinion columnist whose New York Times column, Public and Private, won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1992. Her new novel is Miller's Valley (Random House).


This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Anna Quindlen, who finds a certain approach to her work invaluable. At the end of any given writing day, she never stops her work at the end of a chapter, or a paragraph or a sentence. She stops in the middle. She finds getting started in the morning really challenging, because of course, as she says, “writing is so terrifying and difficult.” But if she looks at the screen and there is a half-written sentence, she can almost always manage to finish the rest of that sentence, which will frequently lead her into the next one. If she had to start a new chapter from scratch first thing, she says, she could be paralyzed for days. Stopping in mid-sentence has been a boon as far as getting started in the morning, which is her most vulnerable moment.

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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Kate Harding, author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture – and What We Can Do About It, published by Da Capo Lifelong Books.


This week’s Write the Book Prompt was inspired by this week’s interview, specifically about Kate Harding’s and my discussion of the media. Write a scene in which a politician or member of the media makes a statement or argument that is stranger than fiction. It can be ridiculous or outlandish -- surely our culture has seen an actual example that’s just as shocking. Then re-write the scene in another manner, but without changing that character’s point of view. A politician who might find a smoother way to convey his or her offensive message. A journalist who might offer two points of view and then an opinion. Study what changed between the two scenes, and keep that change -- the strong, inartful message versus the subtle or shrewd or slick message -- in mind as you work on your own characters going forward.

Good luck with this exercise 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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2011 interview with Award-Winning Author and Journalist Christian Parenti, regarding his book, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about the eventual occasion of a long-avoided conflict.

Good luck with this exercise, and 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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Veteran Boston Globe Reporter Stephen Kurkjian, author of Master Thieves, the story of the the largest art theft in history, published by PublicAffairs.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to bring suspense to your (creative) nonfiction by writing certain pivotal moments in scene, rather than summarizing the historical facts. If you are able, include dialogue, eye contact, movement and sensory detail. This was an aspect of Master Thieves that I found engaging: that Stephen Kurkjian was able to inform readers about the events of the Gardner heist by bringing us into the moments that counted.
Good luck with this exercise, and 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 author Eric Zencey, in a conversation about his novel, Panama (Farrar Straus Giroux), and his nonfiction books, The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy (UPNE), and Greening Vermont - The Search for a Sustainable State (Vermont Natural Resources Council/Thistle Hill Publications), co-authored by Elizabeth Courtney.


This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Eric Zencey. It concerns noise and noise pollution. Based on a theater exercise that he’s been interested in turning into a writing prompt, this week’s exercise is to lie down, shut your eyes, maybe dim the lights, and then listen to and remember every sound you hear for a set amount of time. Maybe five minutes. Maybe ten. You decide. After that time is up, take notes about what you recall, and use the noises you were able to identify in your work.

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, now alums).

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Jennifer Karin Sidford, columnist, blogger and award-winning creator of The Dreamstarter Books 1 & 2.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about an object that has been in your family for a very long time. It can be a treasured object, or one you abhor. Something you are in possession of, or something you are not.

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, now alums).


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Best-selling nonfiction author, David Laskin, whose new book is The Family, published by Viking. David Laskin's USA Today article that he mentioned during our conversation, about the Pew Study on American Jews and religion, can be found here.

This week I have two Write The Book Prompts to offer, having to do with point of view in nonfiction. Both of these were generously suggested by my guest, David Laskin. First, describe a family crisis (death of a relative, decision to move or emigrate, wedding) from the points of view of two or three different family members. And second, write about an historic event from an intimate and specific point of view. This might be along the lines of "Where were you when JFK was assassinated?" or "What were your exact circumstances when the terrorist attacks took place on 9/11/01?" Weave together or juxtapose the personal and historic -- for example, details from daily life with memories of newscasts, tv images, and such.

Good luck with these exercises and please listen next week for another.

Music credits:  1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (which was a Vermont band in 2008, featuring several South Burlington High School students, now grads.)

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Interview from the archives with Tim Brookes, author of eleven books, including Thirty Percent Chance of Enlightenment.


Today’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the Endangered Alphabets Project, founded by my guest, Tim Brookes. Think back to some aspect of your own life that was once important to you, or to an entire community, but disappeared or ended for some reason. This could be a tradition, a celebration, a place, a sports team, a family recipe, a song. It doesn’t have to be as important an issue as an entire language that’s going extinct, though if you have such an inspiration, go with it. Write about that aspect of your life that was vital to you, then write about how you lost it, and what that has meant for you, and if it exists anymore in any form for anyone else.
Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another. 


Music credits:  1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (which was a Vermont band in 2008, featuring several South Burlington High School students, now grads.)

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