Archive for the 'Children's Books' Category

Wildlife Journalist and Vermont Author Laurel Neme, whose new children's book is The Elephant's New Shoe: A True Rescue Story (Orchard Books). 

Laurel was kind enough to suggest a Write the Book Prompt for us, based on an exercise that she learned by taking an intensive picture book workshop by Anastasia Suen. Keep a daily journal and creative record--writing for a set amount of time each day that you assign for yourself--but keep it on your computer and in a single file. This way, if months from now you remember writing about something you can’t quite recall, you can search that file for a theme or keyword in order to find it. 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Rob Harrell, cartoonist and author - most recently - of Wink, a novel for middle graders (Dial).

Rob Harrell generously offered a Write the Book Prompt for today’s show. He created this one for kids. Come up with an unlikely super hero, and come up with their origin story, their powers, and what their costume looks like. Try to make it an unlikely super hero, like a BatPig. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please tune in each week for more prompts and great conversations about books and writing.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Lisa Moore Ramée, whose debut middle grade novel is A Good Kind of Trouble (Balzer + Bray).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Lisa Moore Ramée, and was inspired by an exercise that was assigned in the workshop she attended led by Renée Watson. Take your two main characters and put them in direct opposition. Have them fight or argue about something that they really care about. You may or may not end up using the scene, but it will probably help clarify who your characters are and what they want.

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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New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award Finalist Ali Benjamin, whose new novel for young readers is The Next Great Paulie Fink (LBYR).

Write the Book Prompt: In her new novel, The Next Great Paulie Fink, Ali Benjamin includes short interviews between her narrator and some of the other characters to provide clues about who Paulie Fink was and where he might have gone. Consider writing an interview between two or more of your own characters, to find out what they are thinking, how they talk to each other, or possibly something important that happened to them which you might not have worked out yet. You may or may not be able to use the interview in your work, and yet it could very well be helpful! 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

My apologies for the shifting sound quality on this one. We had problems on our end with the station's internet connection - something that is being addressed in the studio. Ali, thank you for your patience! 

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Vermont author and fellow WBTV-LP host Gin Ferrara. We discussed her children's book I'm Not Afraid of Snakes: a not-too-scary story (published by Gin in 2009).

This week's Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Gin Ferrara. Her book, I'm Not Afraid of Snakes, deals with Florida, the place of her childhood. Gin points out that we all have magical memories about the place that we come from, be it about a corner store, someone's back yard, the sound of the birds at night, or something else. Write about the magical, powerful, unique piece of your childhood place. 

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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An interview from the archives with award-winning children's author Mary Casanova. We discussed her 2013 novel Frozen (Univ. of Minnesota Press).

This week's Write the Book Prompt, inspired by April in Vermont, is to write about a place where it is cold when it should be warm, or warm when it should be cold. 

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

Music by Aaron Shapiro

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Newbury- and National Book Award-Winning Vermont author of Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson, whose new novel is My Brigadista Year (Candlewick). 

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to consider an historical event that might have reverberations in our own time, and write about it. 

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 Author and Illustrator Amy Huntington, whose latest book is Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmer's Market (Charlesbridge).

The retreat Amy mentioned in our conversation is AIR Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. And more information about the Children's Literacy Foundation (CLiF) can be found here.

This week, thanks to Amy Huntington, who recommended it, we have an Illustrator Prompt. She writes: “My inspiration for a lot of my recent work comes from nature, and spending time outside observing and learning about the natural world around me. I do this near my home and when I’m traveling. I find that sitting quietly in one place, sketching for a half an hour, allows me to see more and remember more. I also use details from this work to lend authenticity and depth to my illustration work. PROMPT: Take a sketchbook and your favorite medium, (mine is a fountain pen), and spend a half an hour outside drawing. ) You don’t have to find the perfect subject. It can be a tree or a leaf or a knot of twisty roots. I have a barn swallow nest outside my kitchen window that I have been itching to draw. You’ll find that after a bit of quiet sitting – even if it’s by a patch of weeds on the edge of a parking lot - you’ll start to hear and see critters around you interacting with their environment. This is all fuel for stories!”

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 Author Leda Schubert, whose new children's book is Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing (Roaring Brook Press).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to read with a child, as Leda Schubert suggests at the end of our interview. Do you have young children? A niece, a nephew? Grandchildren? Maybe you can volunteer to read at your local public library. Watch how the children react to what you read. If you write children’s books, this will help you understand what appeals to young readers. If you don’t, then use the opportunity as inspiration for a poem, a story, an essay inspired by the experience.

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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Thirteen-year-old novelist Emily Rose Ross, the youngest author I've ever interviewed (and the youngest author ever to be signed by her publisher). Her debut novel is Blue's Prophecy (Title Town). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Emily Rose Ross. When Emily and Diane were half way through the editing process, they decided it would be a good idea to lay out the story of Blue’s Prophecy in such a way that the book’s motive and their goals were always visible to them. They went to Home Depot and bought a huge strip of landscaping paper. They hung it on the wall in such a way that, standing on chairs, they could write down information about individual chapters, about characters, about maps and other details. The paper kept them organized and helped them find the story arc. Emily says it helped them a lot. Her suggestion is that listeners who write do a similar thing with paper, or a whiteboard, possibly a bulletin board. I’ve also heard of writers who like to use sticky notes on a wall. All of which offers a unique new way to see your work and possibly help you plan next steps, solve problems, and stay organized.

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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An interview from 2012 with Julia Alvarez about her then-new book, A Wedding in Haiti. She recently published a new book about death "for children of all ages," Where Do they Go?with illustrations by Vermont artist Sabra Field.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to consider Julia Alvarez's statement, "Part of us dies with the death of people we love." And to write.

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

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 Children's Writer Laurie Calkhoven, author of Michael at the Invasion of France, 1943, and other books. Since our interview, Laurie has published new books, including The Traveler's Tricks (a Caroline Mystery from American Girl Publishing).

Laurie Calkhoven remembers her first trip to a library left her "amazed and awed." Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about a library experience. Do you remember your first visit to the library? I don't. But I do recall the feeling I got each time I walked inside our local public library - a tingling anticipation of discovery. Write about a sensory connection or a specific memory. Write a poem, an essay, a story or a scene. And then maybe go to the library, just to relive the exhilaration!

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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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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Award-winning children's author Kate Messner. Since our interview, she has published many new books, including a few in her new Ranger In Time series (Scholastic), about a time-traveling golden retriever. 


This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by my interview with Kate Messner, who started to write Over and Under the Snow after her class’s snowshoeing field trip. Write a poem, story, or scene that has to do with a winter sport.

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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Archive interview with Vermont writer Laban Carrick Hill, author of over thirty books, including the historical picture book, Dave the Potter, and co-director of the Writers Project of Ghana, a nonprofit based in the Ghana and the US. In 2014, Laban Carrick Hill published the award winning When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop.

Today's Write the Book Prompt is to write about a person with some regimen that is challenged: a vegetarian who can only find a hamburger in the small town he is visiting; a Jewish mourner who is unable to find a synagogue in which to pray (or a minyan for a prayer service); a reserved mother who can't find a private place to nurse her hungry baby. 
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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Award winning author and educator, Sharon M. Draper, whose latest YA novel is Stella by Starlight, published by Simon and Schuster. On the day of the interview, Sharon learned that Time Magazine had chosen her last book, out of my mind, as one of the 100 best children's books of all time. (She was in a pretty great mood, and we had a fun conversation.)

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Sharon M. Draper. You actually already heard her offer it; write every day, and write descriptions and scenes with specific detail. Look out the window. What does the sky look like, what do the trees look like? Not near a window? Write about something else near where you are: a person, a room, anything. Focus on descriptions and being specific in your descriptions. 

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

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Children's and YA author Jacqueline Woodson, whose new novel, Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books) is short-listed for this year's National Book Award. 

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Jacqueline Woodson. Choose an age between five and fifteen and write down everything you remember from that year of your life. Who were your friends? Where did you live? What clothes did you wear? What music was playing? What did you love; what did you hate? Write without lifting your pen until you can’t remember anything else, and then start making stuff up. 
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, 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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Vermont children's author and bookstore owner Elizabeth Bluemle, whose latest book, Tap Tap Boom Boom, came out in March from Candlewick Press.

 

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Elizabeth Bluemle. Write a paragraph using only words that have four or fewer letters. This is not an exercise in writing for children. Write about an experience. One that works very well, says Elizabeth, is to write about how you got a scar. Almost everyone has at least one small scar. The outcome might seem stilted at first, but it makes your brain work around itself and take pathways you’re not used to taking, to express something. Interesting things always come out of doing that. You are tricking your brain into discovery.

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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A new book chat with Claire Benedict, owner of Bear Pond Books, in Montpelier, and one from the archives with Kenneth Cadow, Vermont children's author of the book Alfie Runs Away, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


Claire Benedict mentioned these books in our conversation:
Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write a poem, story, scene or essay about an experience of running away. 
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, long since graduated).




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Interview from the archives with with Willow Bascom, author and illustrator of the book, Paisley Pig: A Multicultural ABC, published by Publishing Works.

This week’s Write The Book prompt is to write a poem, memory, scene or story about a library and its librarian.

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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Vermont author Alec Hastings, whose first novel is Otter St. Onge and the Bootleggers: A Tale of Adventure, published by The Public Press.

This week I have two Write The Book Prompts, generously suggested by my guest, Alec Hastings. In his classes, Alec offers his students prompts for their twice-a-week journal entries. He says, “I supplement the prompt with an anecdote that helps them see how even one word can be spun into many. For instance, before Thanksgiving, I gave table as a prompt. After letting my students give me blank stares for a moment or two, I launched into a description of my grandmother's kitchen, the cast iron cook stove with the hot water reservoir; the wood box; the bench with the lid that lifted and allowed boot storage beneath; the basketball-sized cookie jar shaped and painted like a ripe, red apple; the fresh baked bread and cookies that awaited us every day when my brothers and I returned home from school; the oaken, claw-foot table upon which meals were eaten and around which we gathered for conversation, dessert, and many a colorful tale; and not least of all, my grandmother, the heart of the kitchen and the source of the good smells, the good cheer, and the grandmotherly love that enfolded us all.” On the day that I spoke with Alec, he’d offered his students the prompt: Scary experience. So there you go, consider the word table, or consider scary experience, or both! And write.

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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2009 interview with Vermont Author Doug Wilhelm, whose latest novel, The Prince of Denial, came out this month. 

Today’s Write The Book Prompt is to write a story or poem in which someone runs out of gas.

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 South Burlington High School students.



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Author Lewis Buzbee, interviewed at the request of a listener. (Thanks, Shannon!) We discuss his middle-grade novel Bridge of Time, published by Feiwel and Friends, and his nonfiction book for all readers, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, published by Graywolf.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Lewis Buzbee. He calls this "the memory thief," and it's a timed writing exercise. The memory thief is on his way to your house. You have just ten minutes before he gets there. You get to keep any of your memories that you manage to write down before he arrives. Anything you don't get on paper is lost to you. Write madly, without censoring yourself or taking time to edit. Lewis says that wonderful, weird images will come out of this prompt, and people almost always start in childhood.

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

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

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Mary Casanova, award-winning children's author of novels and picture books, including Frozen, published by University of Minnesota Press. You can watch a trailer about the book here.

This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Mary Casanova. Write about an image that has haunted you.

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

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

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Children's Writer Laurie Calkhoven, author of Michael at the Invasion of France, 1943, and other books.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Laurie Calkhoven, who likes working on character meditations in preparation for writing. So that is your prompt for the week: meditate on your character. Begin with a simple breathing meditation, for five or ten minutes, to relax. Then picture your character walking toward you. As you imagine your character getting close enough to sit on your shoulder, ask yourself a question about the character. Laurie keeps a collection of index cards on her desk with prepared prompts for this purpose. She says the element of surprise helps keep the meditation spontaneous, so she shuffles her index cards and keeps them face down on her desk until she needs one. Then she turns one over, not letting herself see what it says before doing so. One example of what might be written on a card: your character has something in his hand; what is it? That's how she came to include a newspaper for Michael and Jacques to use in their covert activities in France. Here are a few more ideas for questions to put on your index cards: What is your character wearing? How does he walk? Does your character have any particular expression on her face? Why? What might she be reacting to? Who is your character going to meet up with and what will be the first thing he says to that person? Now you make up some of your own and try the full exercise.

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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Alaskan writer Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child, published by Reagan Arthur Books. Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Eowyn Ivey. Find a photograph or a post card (used book shops or second-hand shops will sometimes have old post cards). Or take a photo from your family albums, maybe a picture of one of your ancestors. Use that as a starting point to writing. Try to imagine who the people are in the picture, and what they're doing. Eowyn has used Alaska's Digital Archives as a resource. The University of Vermont also has an archive of digital images called the Landscape Change Program. Good luck with this prompt, 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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Please note: my interview with Geraldine Brooks about her newest novel, Caleb's Crossing, will air next week. Thanks for your patience! I announced the interview before recalling that this Monday would be a holiday.

Interview from the archives with Vermont children's novelist Kimberly K. Jones, author of The Genie Scheme.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about a genie. Man or woman, good or evil, helpful or impish; write about a genie.

Good luck with this prompt and please 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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Vermont writer Laban Carrick Hill, author of over thirty books, including the historical picture book, Dave the Potter, and co-director of the Writers Project of Ghana, a nonprofit based in the Ghana and the US.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Laban Carrick Hill. He describes it as an exercise about transgression. Try to write a children's picture book from the POV of a young boy whose brother was tortured and murdered during Rendition at Guantanamo. Laban explains that this might be the least likely book that would ever be written, which is what makes a good prompt. Vermont writer Laban Carrick Hill, author of over thirty books, including the historical picture book, DAVE THE POTTER, and co-director of the Writers Project of Ghana, a nonprofit based in the Ghana and the US.

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Cathy Ostlere, Canadian Author of the memoir Lost and the recent YA novel in verse, Karma.

This week's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the work of my guest Cathy Ostlere, whose new novel, Karma, is written in verse. Look through your creative writing file on the computer or in the bottom of your desk drawer and pull out an idea you've previously shelved, thinking it wouldn't amount to anything. Now look at it anew, and consider what might happen if you were to develop a certain character whose life or situation might be relevant to this idea by working in verse. You can try rhyming verse, or simply play with rhythms. See if something new comes out of that idea simply because you're playing with words in a different 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 South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with James Kochalka, Vermont's First Cartoonist Laureate.

This week, James Kochalka offered one Write the Book Prompt and I offered another:

James' prompt: Think back to an encounter you had with someone today and write a paragraph about it. My prompt: Draw a cartoon of yourself with a person that you know and a pet. James then suggested there might be a way to combine these prompts ... Cool.

Good luck with these prompt, and please listen 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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Interviews from the Archives: Literary Agent Douglas Stewart and Vermont Author and Illustrator Amy Huntington.

I never announced the prompt on today's show (oops!) but here's one to try, inspired by Amy Huntington's latest work: Grandma Drove the Snowplow. Consider a line of work that might seem unlikely for a certain character, and try to bring them together. How about a librarian with a boisterous personality and loud, grating laugh? A pharmacist with a tremor? A real estate agent who's afraid to be alone in strange places? You can try to make the combination seem absurd or poignant. Play around and see what might emerge.

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 South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont Writer Kenneth M. Cadow, author of Alfie Runs Away published by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, a division of MacMillan.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Kenneth Cadow, though he wanted to be sure I credit the true creator of the exercise, Emily Silver, who is an English Teacher at Thetford Academy. Ken and Emily co-teach from time to time. On one occasion, when the class was studying The Catcher in the Rye, Emily Silver gave the class the following exercise: write about your pet peeve, using your stream of consciousness to really go off on the subject. See where it takes you. Ken said that this exercise really got the students writing. His own pet peeve is vending machines.

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

Alfie Runs Away read with permission.

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

This week’s Write The Book Prompt can be found in Jennifer Karin Sidford's first Dreamstarter Book. I found it appropriate because of its title: "The Radio Station."

Jada found an old radio in the loft of a hay barn that had been deserted for many years. The hay that remained had turned to dust, leaving the floors, pitchforks, buckets and other tools covered in a heavy yellow coating. She picked up the radio and heard a rattle. She gave the radio a shake and heard the distinct sound of broken glass. "It's busted," she said aloud. "That's too bad." She tossed the radio onto a pile of old grain sacks. The radio began to hum; the dial lit up. Jada walked over to the radio and picked it up. A voice came through the radio's speaker. "Hello? Is anyone there? Can anyone hear me?" the girl's voice said. She had an accent that was very different than Jada's. Jada lowered her mouth to the radio speaker and shouted, "I can hear you! Who are you?" The girl answered...

This one should be a lot of fun to play with. If Jada's story inspires you to write something that you like, remember that you can't publish the first part, as Jennifer already did!

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 South Burlington High School students.

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Interview from the archives with Rita Murphy, who spoke with Shelagh in October 2008.

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Nancy Means Wright, author of Midnight Fires: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft, joins Shelagh Shapiro on Write The Book.

This week's Write The Book prompt was inspired by my guest, Nancy Means Wright, whose work in the theater has helped her as a fiction writer. She said in our interview, "When I write, I try to see the scene in front of me as if it's on a stage, as if my characters are up there." She tries to see how her characters react to each other, how they handle their props, how they look, and what they do. She tries to experience all the shadings of their voices and expressions. "On the stage," Nancy says, "You're always trying to find the focus and purpose of a scene." Try to do the same in your work. If you're writing a scene, try to understand its focus, its purpose. If you are writing about a character who is going through an emotional experience, try the system of accessing that emotion by recalling some experience of your own. This system of acting, developed by Constantin Stanislavski, may helps you empathize with your character's situation as you try to write about it. As Nancy said in our interview, "The act of trying to become your character is something that a writer can do."

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 South Burlington High School students.

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Interview with Willow Bascom, author and illustrator of the new book, Paisley Pig: A Multicultural ABC, published by Publishing Works.

This week’s Write The Book prompt, was suggested by my guest, Willow Bascom, who noted during our talk that many writers and artists have trouble identifying themselves as such. She suggests counteracting this by offering artistic services for free, for example to a local food co-op or other non-profit. Write an ad, or make a stunning poster or sign that the non-profit wouldn't budget for normally. Volunteer your expertise. When you see the pleasure that other people take in what you do, you can value yourself and, in turn, your work. Give it away, and next time you're asked what you do, call yourself an artist. Say it with confidence.

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

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Interview with Wouter Nunnink, self-published author of the YA series Ba El Shebub's Gift Awakens

Write The Book Prompt: In his book, A Mad Man's Poison, Walt Nunnink has created a world that mixes reality and fantasy. One of the aspects of this world is a magical book that only the two main characters can see. In your work this week, play around with this idea of something that can be seen or otherwise perceived by one character or set of characters, but not by others. You could work, as Walt does, with a magical world in which a certain item is selectively visible, or audible. Maybe one of your characters always catches the scent of lilacs on the air when night is coming on.

Even if you don't write in the fantasy genre, consider this exercise as a way to learn about how your characters' perceptive capacities differ. Maybe your main character senses tension between two co-workers, while his boss is completely oblivious. Or perhaps a wife can tell that her husband is attracted to another woman, but the woman doesn't notice in the least.

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 South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Tanya Lee Stone, Vermont author of picture books, novels and nonfiction books for children, young readers and teens. Her latest is Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared To Dream.

Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Tanya Lee Stone. Write about an embarrassing moment, without revealing the actual event that caused the embarrassment.

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 South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Vermont Writer Doug Wilhelm

Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard with Doug Wilhelm. The crux of this prompt is find out what you don't know. And the advice is really twofold. First of all, decide if you need to do more research in order to move forward with your writing. What don't you know that a book or a person or the experience of immersing yourself in a situation might teach you? Do that research before continuing with your work. The second part of this advice is to ask yourself relevant questions that aren't being answered in your work, and then free write. These questions may be closer to the heart of your project than simple research. For example, if your main character is an arsonist, you might need to do research on how to set fires. But you'll also need to ask yourself, Why is my character setting these fires? What is motivating him? If you don't already know the answer, then put the question to yourself and spend some time free writing.

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 South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Louella Bryant, author of While In Darkness There Is Light. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired by this holiday season. Love it or hate it, the season is upon us. Probably you have a great many catalogs piling up in your living room or on the back of a toilet somewhere, waiting to be chucked in January. Why not use these to some advantage? Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee, sit back in your coziest couch, and window shop for your characters. Pick out clothing, furniture, sunglasses. Pick out boots, necklaces, belts. Would your narrator wear new jeans, or faded? Would his fleece have buttons or a zip? Would she be in heels or flats? Boots or strappy sandals? Use your catalogs to fill out a scene whose details have been lacking. Sometimes the poses in magazines look wrong somehow. The snow is synthetic, the beach is off-kilter. Why? What’s missing? How might you write these settings more convincingly? You might look for the things your characters can’t afford. What would substitute? Instead of that pricey lamp, how would she light her desk? A candle in a jelly jar? A flashlight? Look at your catalogs not with the eye of a buyer, but with the imagination of a writer. Make lists of ideas as you go, and then write without catalog in hand for twenty minutes. See what develops.

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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Interview with award-winning YA writer Rita Murphy. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. - a new time for the new hour-long format.

Write The Book Prompt:This week’s prompt was inspired by today's interview with Rita Murphy, who tends to approach all of her work by free-writing. She’s been lucky enough not to find herself stuck very often, but for the rest of us, I offer the following idea. In our conversation, Rita described a house along the New York Thruway that became her inspiration for the crooked mansion in her new book, Bird. In your own hometown, was there a house like this? An abandoned or otherwise frightening structure with the reputation for being haunted? If not, was there a house you always noticed and wondered about, for whatever reason? Think about that place for a few minutes. Try to remember the look of it, the landscaping around it and any gossip around its history. Using these thoughts and memories as a point of creative entry, write in a notebook or on your computer for twenty minutes without stopping. If you’re so inspired, write for more than twenty minutes. Don’t censor yourself, and try not to think at all about where this exercise might go. If you find yourself writing about something other than the house, that’s fine. Go where your mind wants to take you. Let the exercise be fun, and try to enjoy it as a child enjoys playing.

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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Interview with Nancy Means Wright, poet and author of adult and children's fiction. Write The Book is a radio show for writers and curious readers. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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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Interview with Elizabeth Bluemle, children's author and bookstore co-owner. Write The Book is a radio show for writers and curious readers. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

Readings by Elizabeth Bluemle, from Dogs On The Bed (Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press). Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth Bluemle. Recorded with permission.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "I'll Never Forget The Day I Read a Book" - Jimmy Durante

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