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Archive for the 'Publishing' Category

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Veteran Literary Agent and Entrepreneur Jeff Herman, author of Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents (New World Library). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was inspired by my conversation with Jeff Herman. Write a query letter. Jeff says the query letter is really a sales pitch. Keep that in mind as you work. Tell the agent you’re addressing about why you are reaching out, especially if you’re a fan of work they’ve sold. Let them know why you respect them, and that you hope your work will appeal to them. The letter should be short (1 ½ pages or fewer) readable, direct, and personalized. Jeff writes on his website, “Say what you have, why it’s hot, why you’re a good prospect, and what’s available for review upon request.” His website offers a lot of other advice for writing the query letter, which has a certain format you should read about before getting started. Even if your creative work isn't ready to submit, writing the query letter can take some time to get just right, and it's worth practicing ahead of time. 

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

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Guest Host Kim MacQueen interviews Champlain Professional Writing Alum Ian Frisch, author of Magic Is Dead: My Journey Into the World’s Most Secretive Society of Magicians (Dey Street Books).

Ian Frisch kindly offered this Write the Book Prompt for listeners: get out of your own head, out of yourself, and be on the lookout for compelling characters in your own area. A well-known character, such as the local mayor, the owner of a store, your neighbor who has lived in town for sixty years. In seeking stories for his nonfiction and journalism, Ian likes to watch for the people who can carry a narrative. Go out and listen to people's stories -- characters who embody a greater sense of purpose outside of themselves, who are reflections of things that are going on in the world. As you hear people's stories, you will understand their relevance. Talk to people, listen to their stories, and then try to translate what you've heard onto the page. 

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

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Author Christy Stillwell, whose recently released novel is The Wolf Tone, which won the Elixir Press Fiction Prize in 2017. 

This Week's Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Christy Stillwell. In reading Warlight, a novel by Michael Ondaatje, Christy noticed the way the author was able to use his knowledge of navigation to create haunting and vivid scenes around barges and river work near London. She set herself the task of developing some area about which she has interest and some knowledge, and learning more in order to be able to do what she felt Ondaatje had done: turn his knowledge into haunting, recurring scenes. In order to do this well, some research might be necessary. In Christy's case, the subject matter turned to haying: the growing, baling and cutting of hay. This has always fascinated her, though she doesn't do this work herself. But she enjoys watching the swathers cut the hay, and seeing the people and machines working in the fields. Christy says her interest might have been even simpler: trimming hedges or mowing the lawn. So - what subject interests you, something you know well enough that you could sit and write two-to-three pages about it, and then file those pages away to perhaps use someday when your work will benefit from a lyrical moment? 

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

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Author Linda Gartz, whose new book is Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago (She Writes Press). 

A number of resources Linda mentioned during our interview can be found here, on her website. 

This week I have two Write the Book Prompts to offer, both generously suggested by my guest, Linda Gartz. One is for memoir, the other for fiction. Here’s Linda’s memoir prompt: Write about an experience that has stayed in your memory, one that has meaning beyond an anecdote. Pick one: When did you feel humble, proud, ashamed, embarrassed, loved, or rejected. What made you feel that way, and what impact did that experience have on your future life, especially the way you dealt with future similar incidents or how it shaped your thinking about and behavior in life?

Here’s a prompt for Fiction writers: Imagine a character who has one of these traits… the character is: weak, kind, loving, arrogant, clueless to the impact his/her behavior has on others, or sneaky.

Write a scene in which the person demonstrates his/her character by showing actions or words, but not by labeling the behavior. (i.e. don’t say, ‘Jonathan was weak.” Create a scene that shows his weakness.)

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 Poet Ralph Culver, recorded live in the studios at WBTV-LP. We discuss Ralph's new chapbook, So Be It.

Happy National Poetry Month! 

This week we have three Write the Book Prompts. Ralph suggested two during our conversation.

1) The first extends his point about how "ridiculously broad" or "OCD specific" prompts can be. You can tell someone "write twenty lines of blank verse," or you can be specific: Write twenty lines of blank verse representing one side of a phone conversation between two spouses who are arguing about money. (It's possible Ralph offered this prompt with tongue in cheek, but I liked it, so I'm including it here.)

2) Write a poem about something or someone you lost.

3) My own suggestion is inspired by Ralph's poem "Fill Up," in which the narrator notices his own distorted reflection in the metal of a dented car ashtray. The distortion is literal, but it bends the poem as well, affecting the way in which we think about what we've read. In your work this week, include a literal reflection in your poetry or prose. See how a reflection in water, a window, a mirror... might affect someone's view of him- or herself, or of someone else or their surroundings. 

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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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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Vermont Poet, Publisher and Book Designer Dede Cummings, whose new poetry collection is To Look Out From (Homebound Publications).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the conversation you just heard with Dede Cummings. Dede found the title for her collection To Look Out From, by researching the etymology of the name of the town where she was raised, Matunuck, RI. Matunuck, as we learn in the collection, is possibly a term that comes from a Southern New England Algonquian term meaning “high place,” “high point,” or “to look out from.” In your own world, is there a place name or otherwise relevant term that you hear all the time but perhaps have never investigated? Maybe you live in Winooski. Did you know that Winooski comes from an Abenaki term that means “Land of the Wild Onion?” Is your last name from a place you could research and learn more about? Do a little investigative work and then write a poem, a story or an essay that is inspired by what you learn.

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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Novelist Tiffany McDaniel, whose debut is The Summer That Melted Everything (St. Martins Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt has to do with the play of expectation that was central to Tiffany McDaniel’s debut novel, The Summer That Melted Everything. Her characters are not always who we expect them to be. The young man who calls himself the devil commits acts of kindness. The older man whose name implies goodness and piety is not who everyone always thought him to be. In your own world, consider a recent misunderstanding - perhaps you underestimated or misread someone, or someone underestimated or misread you - and write about that experience.

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

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C.D. Bell, author of Weregirl, the first Choose Your Own Adventure (Chooseco) project with a single, dedicated ending! 

To some extent, change is a part of every book. The main character goes through a change, or her town goes through a change, or the situation that sets up the book changes. Perhaps these aren’t all as abrupt or significant as the change that takes place when a werewolf transforms, but still… This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write about a transformation. Or just study the piece you’re working on a decide what is changing, because that’s probably something you should understand.

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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