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Vermont author Laura Williams McCaffrey, whose latest novel is Marked, published by Clarion.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to expand the vocabulary of the world about which you are writing. Laura Williams McCaffrey said in our interview that the fantastical vocabulary of the dystopian world of her novel Marked tends to be functional vocabulary. “Squatties” squat -- that’s what they do, she tells us. In considering the world you are perhaps creating in a piece of fiction, or poetry, or essay, even if you’re not working on a dystopian piece, think about the functional vocabulary of that place, time, or community. Are you writing about a faraway place? Might there be a vocabulary you could research and expand on, or a vocabulary that you should invent? Is there a workplace in your piece that might have specialized functional vocabulary? Perhaps an ad agency that has a code word to refer to an important client waiting in the lobby? Or maybe in your narrator’s family, are there words or expressions specific to their experience that you could add to amplify your reader’s understanding of their life together? Maybe the mother always shouts a certain phrase when she wants  the kids to turn out their lights and go to sleep. Maybe she shouts, “BEDTIME!!” at the top of her lungs. Or does she come to the door and barely whisper it, her tone full of consequences. 

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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An interview from 2012 with author Eowyn Ivey, whose novel The Snow Child (Reagan Arthur Books) was a 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Fiction. 

Eowyn Ivey set her novel, The Snow Child, in her home state of Alaska which, in 1920, was "a brutal place to homestead." The desolate solitude and Alaskan wildness of this setting are vital to the story that Ivey goes on to tell. This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about a brutal place. 

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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A new interview with Sydney Lea, who has just finished his term as Vermont's Poet Laureate. His new books are No Doubt the Nameless (Four Way Books) and What's the Story? Reflections on a Life Grown Long (Green Writers Press).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by my new interview with Sydney Lea. Write about a dream, or the memory of a dream, or the almost memory of a dream.

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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Interview from 2012 with Margot Livesey, whose novel The Flight of Gemma Hardy had just come out from Harper. It went on to win the New England Independent Booksellers Association 2012 book award in Fiction.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy was Margot Livesey's homage to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. This week's Write the Book Prompt is to consider a favorite book - either a classic, or simply a book that you personally love - and play around with how you might go about paying homage if you were to write a new work. What themes would you maintain and how would you change the book? Would you set it in another time, another place? Would you create a main character who shares the circumstances of the original protagonist? Or would you create a portrayal that only you could recognize as related in any way to the original work? What draws you to this work in the first place? What characteristics do you so admire that it came to mind? Are those qualities that you already try to include in your writing? How might you consciously work toward that? 

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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Interview from the archives with Timothy D. Wilson, Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia and a researcher of self-knowledge and affective forecasting. In January 2012, we discussed his book Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change, published by Little, Brown.

For this week's Write the Book Prompt, as I did when this interview first aired, I’m going to suggest checking out the Pennebaker writing page that Timothy D. Wilson mentions in his book, Redirect. On this page, you’ll find helpful advice about writing and health that you can read and think about. 

Good luck with your writing this week, and please listen next week for another prompt.

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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Novelist Sharon Guskin, whose debut novel, The Forgetting Time (Flatiron Books), has been named book of the week by People Magazine, and listed by the BBC as one of ten books to read this month.


This week’s Write the Book Prompt was kindly suggested by my guest, Sharon Guskin. It’s a four-part prompt that has to do with discovering your enthusiasm:
  • First, as quickly as you can and without thinking about it ahead of time, list five areas that you feel are the neglected dark corners of your world--the areas that aren’t discussed enough or need more air.
  • Then, circle the one that seems the most alive to you, right now.
  • Imagine a voice within that world.
  • Finally, again without thinking, write from that voice for twenty minutes.

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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In December, I got together with Claire Benedict, Co-Owner of Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, to chat about books. This bonus podcast might offer you some suggestions about what to read next! Enjoy...


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2012 interview with David Wojahn, Award Winning (and Pulitzer Nominated) Poet, Author of the Collection WORLD TREE, part of the Pitt Poetry Series (University of Pittsburgh Press).  Part of this collection, a series called "Ochre," can also be found (along with photographs) at the Blackbird Online Literary Journal Website


This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about an unpredicted weather event.

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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Christine Hadsel, Director of Curtains Without Borders, a project that preserves painted historic scenery in Northern New England. Her new book is Suspended Worlds: Historic Theater Scenery in Northern New England.


This week's Write the Book Prompt is a visual exercise. Take a look at these photographs from the Curtains Without Borders Project, and let them inspire you to write.


Waterbury Center, VT



  

Vergennes, VT



 

North Hyde Park, VT


 

Townshend, VT


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


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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YA graphic novelist Marika McCoola, whose book Baba Yaga's Assistant (Candlewick) won a New England Book Award last year, and Marie Lu, best-selling author of the Legend Trilogy and the Young Elites Series, including her latest, The Rose Society (Putnam Books for Young Readers). My interview with Marika McCoola took place in front of an audience at the Chronicle Book Fair in Glens Falls, NY. 


This week’s Write The Book Prompt is a character development exercise suggested by Marie Lu. List a character’s greatest strengths as well as what that person most values. Then write about one single behavior or action that this character would never ever undertake. Finally, list that character’s greatest weaknesses. After you have your lists, write a scenario where the character must do that one thing he or she would never ever do. What circumstance would force this character to cross that line and how does he or she respond to the circumstance, in a larger way?

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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