Archive for December 2021

A conversation from the archives with Vermont children’s author Elizabeth Bluemle, about her picture book, TAP TAP, BOOM BOOM (Candlewick Press).

My son and I once experienced a hurricane in Florida. Those of you who know storms might remember Charlie, in 2004. We stayed in a motel in Winter Park–a second-story room with an outside entry that looked out at the parking lot. The storm was fierce and loud. We lost electricity and the room went dark, but outside the winds were furious and sounded like the world would end. The eye arrived, and with it an eerie silence. Hotel guests all stepped out of our rooms and stood leaning on the metal railings, looking down at the parking lot, talking, eventually feeling a kind of rapport that comes with facing the unknown. When the winds picked up again, we all went back inside our darkened rooms, feeling like we knew the neighbors who surrounded us, if just a little bit. This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write about a weather incident bringing people together, as they do in the subway in Elizabeth Bluemle’s book, Tap Tap, Boom Boom. 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Interview from the archives with award-winning author Joshua Ferris on his novel, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Little Brown and Company).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write about a visit to the dentist. Your scene, story or poem might involve the patient’s perspective, that of the dentist, the hygienist. Maybe you write about the waiting room, a moment in the parking lot, or the dreaded chair itself.

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

 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Vermont Author Joy Cohen, whose debut novel is 37 (Guernica Editions). 

This week's Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest Joy Cohen during our conversation. She suggests making two lists: the first, a list of 10 characters. They can be actual people in your life, such as your mom or dad, your best friend, the pharmacist, the mail carrier, people that you know really well or don't know at all. They could include fictional characters from movies or books. Just make a list of ten. Then make a list of ten activities such as going for a bike ride, attending a funeral, eating breakfast... anything active. Then put the papers away. A few days later, before you read the two lists, randomly pick out two numbers. Maybe three and seven. For your exercise, you'll take character number three and put that person in situation number seven, and then write about that. Joy finds the people in her classes enjoy this prompt and come up with great scenes and scenarios. 

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

 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Poet A.E. Hines, whose debut collection is Any Dumb Animal (Main Street Rag).

A new prompt for the week comes from A.E. Hines, and touches on something we discussed during the interview you just heard: Write a poem that explores duality, by comparing and contrasting two topics that are generally considered opposites. For example:  Where is the light in the darkness?  Or, pick one or multiple things that are considered hard, and describe them as soft. Describe a moment of gratitude in the midst of grief.  Or love that led to great loss.  Again, it doesn’t matter where you start, just pick a pair of opposing ideas, and brainstorm a list of comparisons. Then arrange them into a poem and see where this experiment takes you.

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

 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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A new interview with Swiss Author Peter Stamm, whose latest story collection is It's Getting Dark (Other Press).

Peter Stamm generously suggested a  Write the Book Prompt for today’s show. Go to the cemetery and see what the stones tell you about the people who are buried there. You’ll learn from the stones themselves, but also from their names and dates, from details occasionally listed on the stones, from any flowers left at the graveside. You’ll be surprised by how much you might learn about those who went before us.

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

 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Wendy Sanford, author, editor, and a founding member of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Her debut memoir is These Walls Between Us: A Memoir of Friendship Across Race and Class (SheWrites Press). 

On Wendy Sanford’s website you can go to a page titled Meet Mary Norman: Leading the way for women in New Jersey corrections work 1968-1993. On that page are a series of events that shaped Mary Norman’s life and the people she worked with. These are interesting stories that highlight her contributions. For example, when she was punished for her belief in prisoner rehabilitation, she turned what was meant to be a demeaning demotion into a training program to teach pre-release inmates how to prepare for next steps, filling out work applications, dressing for interviews, things like that. This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to go to that site and read about Mary Norman and her work. Then, if you are moved to do so, write a poem, story, or essay about whatever comes to mind. Maybe you could write about one of the prisoners who had to learn how to dress for an interview. Or you could write from the perspective of a racist guard who didn’t like Mary supervising his work, but came to like and respect the way she supported him. I hope that - like me - you will be inspired by what you learn. 

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

 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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