Archive for the 'Nonfiction' Category

Fiona McCrae, Director and Publisher of the Minneapolis-based literary publisher, Graywolf Press

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Fiona McCrae. Consider the Black Lives Matter movement and the murder of George Floyd, and write. Maybe write from the perspective of someone with different or more extreme opinions than your own. Or write from two distinct perspectives. Or perhaps write from the point of view of someone who has one opinion, but is somehow personally affected by the movement in a way that amplifies, changes, or even negates that opinion. In responding to this current moment in history, consider your goal to be one of inspiring meaningful dialogue. 

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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UVM Professor Emeritus Robert Manning and Artist Martha Manning, authors of several books on long distance walking, including the subject of our 2013 conversation, Walking Distance: Extraordinary Hikes for Ordinary People (OSU Press).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write about a famous walk. This could mean Steven Newman’s famous solo walk around the world, or it could mean your own child’s first steps. 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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American Poet, Essayist and Translator J. Chester Johnson, whose new memoir is Damaged Heritage: The Elaine Race Massacre and A Story of Reconciliation (Pegasus).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to consider your own family’s leanings when it comes to filiopietism, that veneration, often excessive, of ancestors or tradition. Does this exist in your own circle of relatives? Do people excuse behaviors because it’s just how the family has always been? Do you have beliefs based largely on what you were raised to think but have never questioned? Are there, even,  certain artifacts hidden away in your home that you keep simply because they belonged to a great grandfather or grandmother? If so, think about why you keep them, why you believe what you believe, why you cling to what you cling to, what you might shed of your family’s past if you could (or what you would not), and then write about it.

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 Psychologist Bruce Chalmer whose new book is Reigniting the Spark: Why Stable Relationships Lose Intimacy, and How to Get It Back (TCK Publishing). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Dr. Bruce Chalmer. In writing about relationships, consider the scary moments as being, perhaps, the most useful to write about. Not necessarily moments when you and your partner are disagreeing, but perhaps moments when you are delighted by something and you aren’t sure if your partner is delighted, and the not- knowing is scary. Consider moments where you are looking at the possibility of intimacy. Dr. Chalmer advises, “That’s the stuff to write about.” 

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 conversation with Vermont author Ginny Sassaman, whose new book is Preaching Happiness: Creating a Just and Joyful World (Rootstock).

For a Write the Book Prompt, write about what has made you happy in the past week.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

This is one of several shorter interviews Shelagh is conducting with Vermont authors whose new books have had their tours upended by Corona.  

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Local entrepreneur Janice Shade's new book is Moving Mountains: The Power of Main Street Americans to Change Our Economy (Onion River Press). 

Write the Book Prompt: Can you imagine "economic justice for all?" What would that look like? How would it different from our present system? Can you think of a few small, symbolic images that might represent achieving that vision? Does it bring to mind a person or group from your past? If so, maybe write about them today. Let the expression, taken from Janice Shade's book description, inspire you. Think hard about economic justice for all, and write. 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

This is one of several shorter interviews Shelagh is conducting with Vermont authors whose new books have had their tours upended by Corona. Stay tuned: there will be more! And if you'd like to order Janice's book through her local bookstore, that would be Phoenix Books.  

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Canadian Journalist Jessica McDiarmid, author of Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (Atria).

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write a poem, a story, an essay, or a reflection about a person who has disappeared. 

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 the author Douglas Glover about his  collection of essays on literary form, The Erotics of Restraint (Biblioasis). 

When Douglas Glover and I spoke, he mentioned that, as he was developing his craft, he would make lists of conflicted situations in a notebook. Then, when he wanted to begin a new project, he'd read through his notebook to find a promising conflicted situation with which to start. He doesn't know what the plot will be as he begins, but he does still always know the conflict. This week, make a list of conflicts from which you might draw an interesting situation to use in your writing.

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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Author Jane Alison, whose latest is Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative (Catapult). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Jane Alison, who led a workshop recently that was studying Grace Paley’s story “Distance.” A phrase in the story includes the words, “the picture in the muck under their skulls…” Jane loved this line. She says we all have such pictures “in the muck under our skulls” - those moments that have formed or deformed us, that haunt us. Maybe places we want to return to, or moments that will not leave us. So this week, think if there’s some moment or image from your recent or long-ago past, a deeply imbedded thing that can still glimmer before your eyes, or make you feel homesick, or has a mysterious potency to it. A moment that could become an important part of a story about your life, or perhaps part of a story that you would invent about someone like you. Write about it, and let its magnetism lead you as you work. See what comes out of the muck.

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 Author Gary Kowalski, about his 2012 book Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet (New World Library).

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about an unexpected interaction with an animal to which (to whom?) you have no personal ties.

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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Guest host Kim MacQueen interviews writer and psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb, author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed (Mariner Books). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to try writing something in the second person. You can take a piece you’re actively working on, employing another POV narration, and simply use this as the opportunity for an exercise. Or attempt a new story, essay, or poem in the second person. Electric Literature has a pretty good piece about writing from this unusual point of view, and I’m going to include a link to that in this week’s prompt, should you like to read it before giving this a go. One caveat: I disagree with the author they quote as disliking Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City,  a novel famously written in the second person. I found that short novel to be a real gem, and very much enjoyed the narrative point of view that McInerney employed. SO - give this a try. You may dislike the results. You may rush back to your cozy first- or third-person close with renewed relish. If so, that’s all for the best! But maybe the second person will crack open something you couldn’t see as you worked before. I hope so. Here’s the article link:

https://electricliterature.com/how-to-write-a-second-person-story/ 

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 Megan Price, who will soon publish another in her wildly popular Vermont Wild series (Pine Marten Press).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write a story, poem, or essay that concerns wildlife or nature, and maybe has a funny aspect to 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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An interview from the archives with Vermont Author Eric Zencey, who passed away on July 1st after a battle with cancer. Eric's books included Virgin Forest: Meditations on History, Ecology, and Culture (University of Georgia Press); Greening Vermont: The Search for a Sustainable State, coauthored with Elizabeth Courtney (Vermont Natural Resources Council/Thistle Hill); and The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy (University Press of New England). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to consider the following quote from Eric Zencey’s book, The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy, and then write about whatever might occur to you, having read it:

 

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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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Guest host Kim MacQueen interviews Karol Jackowski,

author of Sister Karol's Book of Spells, Blessings & Folk Magic (Weiser Books). 

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to try your hand at writing a spell. Some of the spells in Sister Karol's book include Spell To Become a Peacemaker, Get Well Spell, Good Luck Spell, Anxiety Gone Spell, Thanksgiving Spells and Blessings. If you were to write a spell, what would it be for? Think about how you would go about it. Think about what would be important as a message for that theme. Make it something interesting, but also fun, and see what you come up with. 

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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Mitchell S. Jackson, Award-Winning Author of Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family (Scribner). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Mitchell S. Jackson. Write your own answer to the question, what is the toughest thing you have survived? Write it in the second person; Mitchell says this might make you think about the experience in a different way.

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

 

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Journalist and author David Shields, whose new book is The Trouble With Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power (Mad Creek Books).

David Shields generously offered the following Write the Book Prompt this week: write a postcard that simultaneously evokes place and reveals something about the postcard writer that he or she is not aware of.

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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Interview from the archives with Canadian Author Douglas Glover. We discussed his book of craft essays, Attack of the Copula Spiders (Biblioasis).

Early in his essay collection, Doug Glover asserts this about point of view in fiction:

Point of view is the mental modus operandi of the person who is telling or experiencing the story--most often this is the protagonist. This mental modus operandi is located in a fairly simple construct involving desire, significant history and language overlay. The writer generally tries to announce the desire, goal or need of the primary character as quickly as possible. the key here is to make this desire concrete and simple. 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to look at the point of view in what you are working on and ask yourself: is this character’s desire clear? Is it concrete and simple? Do I introduce it quickly enough? How might I improve on the early presentation of my point of view character?

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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Cheryl Suchors, author of 48 Peaks - Hiking and Healing in the White Mountains (SheWrites).

This week's Write the Book Prompt is actually three prompts, generously suggested by my guest, Cheryl Suchors. Begin with one of these statements or questions, and then write:

  • “I’d never consider hiking, or wearing these ridiculous hot, heavy boots, except that ...”
  • “You’re on a mountain that you’ve never hiked before. You’re by yourself. You’re suddenly remembering stories of women who’ve been attacked while alone in the woods, or maybe you’re making these up, you’re actually not quite sure if they’re true. You hear something or someone thrashing through the forest. It sounds like they’re coming your way. What do you do next?”
  • “Your grief is so profound that you haven’t left the house in two weeks. You know you have to do something about yourself. You decide to...”    

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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Interview with former Vermont Governor Madeleine May Kunin about her memoir, Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties (Green Writers Press).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write about a transition from one era to another in your own life, as Madeleine May Kunin has written about her journey to the eighties. Are you a new teenager? A new parent? Have you recently gone through menopause? Have you retired? We are all forever going through transitions, but how often do we write about these changes in our lives, minds, bodies? 

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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Interview from the archives with Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Broadway Books). 

Is one of your characters an introvert? Do you know? This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to go to the quietrev.com website and take the introversion quiz on behalf of a character. Perhaps it will help you understand the way this character should think, act and grow on the page.

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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Robert and Martha Manning, (former Vermont) authors of Walking Distance: Extraordinary Hikes for Ordinary People, published by Oregon State University Press.

In conjunction with this interview, I'll post a slideshow with audio of my own recent long hike: El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Watch for that, and for this week's prompt, soon. 

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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Interview with author and New York Times Journalist Karen Crouse, who recently published her first book, Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town's Secret to Happiness and Excellence (Simon & Schuster). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Karen Crouse. It is inspired by a talk she heard, given by the author Elizabeth Gilbert. During her talk, Elizabeth Gilbert mentioned that she'd had no idea, when she set out to write her book, Eat Pray Love, that it would eventually meet with so much success. She commented that that knowledge might even have made it hard to approach in the first place. She went on to suggest that, when you sit down to write, don’t think of it as a formal exercise. Think of it as relaying a story you might tell it to your best friend. This always stayed with Karen, who has found it valuable advice. And so she has shared it with us!

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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Interview from the archives with Vermont author Bill Mares. We discussed his book, Brewing Change: Behind the Bean at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, co-authored by Rick Peyser. He has since published The Full Vermonty: Vermont in the Age of Trump, co-authored by Jeff Danziger. 

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about the role coffee has (or does not have) in your own work and life. 

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

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Women's Leadership Expert Sally Helgesen, co-author with Marshall Goldsmith of the new book How Women Rise—Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job (Hachette).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to consider how any of these categories might be holding you back in your work, and decide how to approach a solution. These are just a handful of the subjects covered in Sally’s book, which we discussed in our conversation: Being a Pleaser, Building Rather than Leveraging Relationships, Perfection, Minimizing (yourself or your work), Ruminating.  

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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Author, literary critic and philosopher Martin Puchner, whose new book is The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization (Random House).

What is one of the earliest legends you remember coming across? Was it a biblical story, such as that of Cain and Abel? Was it the story of Ulysses (or Odysseus), perhaps in a form published for children? Or maybe it was the Thousand and One Nights? This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to consider an early legend that had an effect on you, and write with that story in mind. Perhaps write a contemporary take on the story itself. Or give consideration to the moral of the tale and write in an effort to share the same ethical lessons. You could also research the ways in which that early legend might have influenced historical events and write about that.

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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Kim MacQueen interviews Soto Zen Priest Brad Warner, author most recently of It Came from Beyond Zen! More Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye) (New World Library)

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This week's Write the Prompt involves a sentiment you can find discussed in Brad Warner's new book, It Came From Beyond Zen! The idea comes from 13th century Japanese Zen Master Eihei Dogen and is translated and explained by Brad in his book. I’m paraphrasing it here: Treating people right falls into four main behaviors: free giving, kind speech, being helpful, and cooperation. If you’d like to read Brad's actual translation and more analysis about these four ways to treat people, you’ll want to turn to the book. But if you can, take in the basic premise behind these suggestions, and use them in your work this week. Somehow try to infuse your writing, or maybe the actions of a character, with the ideas of free giving, kind speech, helpfulness and cooperation.

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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Author Rick Smolan, whose new book is The Good Fight: America's Ongoing Struggle for Justice (Against All Odds), co-authored by Jennifer Erwitt.

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This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today. Many thanks to Rick Smolan for providing some photographs from The Good Fight for me to post on the podcast site. (See below.) Have a look at these pictures, and then write whatever you might be moved to express. You can have a closer look by right-clicking (or control-clicking) on each image to open it in a new tab. 

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

 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Photo Credit: Steve Schapiro  Signing of 19th Amendment to the US Constitution

Photo Credit: Steve Schapiro                                           1920: KY Governor Morrow signs 19th Amendment

Photo Credit: Jessica Rinaldi  Photo Credit: Nuccio Dinuzzo

Photo Credit: Jessica Rinaldi                                        Photo Credit: Nuccio Dinuzzo

Photo Credit: Doug Mills  Photo Credit: Johnathan Bachman

Photo Credit: Doug Mills                                               Photo Credit: Johnathan Bachman

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An interview from the archives - and from a previous radio station - with Mary R. Morgan, author of Beginning With the End, A Memoir of Twin Loss and Healing.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to write about a person who is lost. Interpret the word "lost" in whatever way might help you as you work.

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

Music credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Author and music critic Will Friedwald, whose new book is The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums (Pantheon). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to listen to Tiny Tim singing “Living in the Sunlight,” from the album God Bless Tiny Tim, which you can find a live performance of on YouTube, and write about it. It is a trip.

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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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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lvw.jpgInterview from the archives with then-president of the League of Vermont Writers, Deb Fennell.

It is now officially football season. The Bills have a win, the Patriots, a loss. But it’s early days. This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write about a football game that begins in a friendly way and turns nasty. It can be about a Thanksgiving touch football game, or a group of old friends coming together to watch the Superbowl. It can be about high school parents, professional players, the fans, or the guy selling beer and hot dogs. Be sure to describe the weather, the smells and sounds and colors.

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

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Interview from the archives with Local Writer and Tai Chi Teacher 

Bob Boyd, author of Snake Style Tai Chi Chuan:

The Hidden System of the Yang Family.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to consider the movement of an animal and use that in a comparative piece about human nature. 

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

 

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Award-winning and best-selling author Jonathan Lethem with his new essay collection, More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers (Melville House).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Jonathan Lethem. Writers are often encouraged to go out and eavesdrop in cafes and other places where people gather, in order to write down what they overhear and learn how dialogue works. Lethem suggests that we go out to watch people, but not so close that you can actually hear their conversations. Observe them talking to one another, and through interpreting gesture, expression, and attitude, write what you think they MAY be saying to each other.

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

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Author Robin Romm, who has edited the new essay collection Double Bind: Women on Ambition (Liveright). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Robin Romm, who teaches at Warren Wilson’s low-residency MFA in Writing Program. One thing she says she loves to do as a writer is--at the end of a day--to write lists of very specific sensory things that she ran across that day. So perhaps a shirt, a clip of dialogue, a person’s face, in no particular order. Not feelings or facts, but colors, sounds, smells, dialogue. So the texture of the couch, or the way the cat looked lying in the sun, or something the mailman said as he waited for you to sign for a package. Having these lists leads to other things in interesting ways and gets you thinking like a writer. Robin says that these snippets will help to get rid of abstract worry and thought and help to focus on scene building.  The sensory and the concrete almost always lead you into more interesting material in a way that intellect almost never does.

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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Interview from the archives with Madeleine M. Kunin, Vermont's first woman governor, about her book The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family (Chelsea Green).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write about a prejudice you know yourself to have. Because, if we're honest, we probably all have them. I'll start. I avoid cars with a certain regional license plate, because I'm of the opinion that those drivers can not be trusted on the road. (No, I won't name the region.) Do you have a prejudice? How do you feel about it? Are you ashamed of it, proud of it? Do you work to get past 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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Interview from the archives with Paul Kindstedt, UVM Professor and Vermont Author of Cheese and Culture, A History of Cheese and Its Place in Western Civilization (Chelsea Green).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to find an interesting lens through which to tell a story. Today on the show, we’ve heard about the history of the world as seen through the development of cheese in various cultures. In mid-January, before joining WBTV, Write the Book featured an interview with Gregor Hens, whose new book Nicotine tells the story of his life seen through the lens of an addiction to cigarettes. What lens can you offer to tell a story in a particularly unique and engaging way?

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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Neurologist and neurophysiologist, Suzanne O’Sullivan, MD, whose new book is Is It All in Your Head? True Stories of Imaginary Illness (Other Press), which concerns psychosomatic disorders. 

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about trying to convince someone about something important that is, for whatever reason, deemed implausible.

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 Cardy Raper, whose new book is An American Harvest: How One Family Moved from Dirt-Poor Farming to a Better Life in the Early 1900s, published by Green Writers Press.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to find an old letter, journal entry, or recording from either your own life or at the library or in an archive. Find a historical document that speaks to you in some way, and write about its significance. Either write a fictional piece, a poem, or nonfiction, letting your starting point be this documented communication.

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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From 2012, an interview from the archives with Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to navigate to this link on Susan Cain's website and read a guest post by another former Write the Book author, Arnold Kozak (in which he quotes yet another former Write the Book guest, Timothy Wilson!) Read the post, and follow Arnie's suggested exercises. Focus on your breathing. When you are ready to return to your writing, consider the Pascal quote he includes in the post: "All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone." Reading this made me feel grateful to be a writer, grateful to know how to sit alone in a quiet room. Maybe you'll feel grateful, too. I hope so. And I hope this inspires in you a desire to write. 

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 Writer and Gardening Expert Charlie Nardozzi, author of Northeast Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, published by Cool Springs Press. This interview was held in front of a live audience at the South Burlington Community Library.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my conversation with Charlie Nardozzi. Write a poem, a story, or an essay about a flower or a fruit, a tree or a plant. Perhaps a new fruit, or one that has a color that has never before been known to exist. Perhaps a flower with a powerful smell. Or maybe you just write something about your garden, as we (finally) move toward fall.

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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Marc Estrin and Donna Bister, founders of Vermont's Fomite Press, "a literary press whose authors and artists explore the human condition -- political, cultural, personal and historical -- in poetry and prose."

This week's Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Donna Bister. Write about your first pair of shoes. Or, if you can't remember them, write about your favorite shoes. 

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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Posted in WritingPoliticsActivismCreative NonfictionMeditationNonfictionEnvironment,FoodNatureHistoryMemoirFarmingEssaysHealthgardening on Mar 15th, 2012

Vermont writer Tovar Cerulli, author of The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian's Hunt for Sustenance, published by Pegasus Books.

Tovar Cerulli's website bio describes him as having had an "outdoorsy" boyhood. This week's Write The Book Prompt is to write about an outdoorsy experience. 

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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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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Vermont author Mark Pendergrast, with whom I spoke in March 2012 about his book Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World.


This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write for half an hour, allowing your starting point to be, "Despite all that training, when we first heard the alarm, none of us knew what it was."

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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Two years after this interview from the archives, Vermont author and gardener Ron Krupp published a new book: The Woodchuck Returns to Gardening (Whetstone Books, 2014).

The Woodchuck Returns to Gardening is again rooted in organic gardening methods.... a jester called the "Chuckster" follows Ron around making fun of his gardening adventures and asking questions that allow for the inclusion of helpful insights. This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write a scene or a poem in which a character acts as a joker or heckler in some way, but manages to bring a larger truth to the page.

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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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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National Book Critics Circle Award winner and author of “the most accomplished book of essays anyone has written or published so far in the twenty-first century” (Salon), Eula Biss, whose book On Immunity: An Inoculation has come out in paperback (Graywolf Press). 

I have a new Write The Book Prompt for you, an exercise suggested by my guest, Eula Biss, who learned it long ago at an AWP panel. She doesn’t recall whose idea it was, and so can not credit the person, though she’d like to, because she uses it both as a writer and as a teacher:

Write a scene or moment from a “bright spot” in your memory. It isn’t necessary to understand why you’re writing about it; you don’t have to know why it’s important or why you remember it, but write from this bright spot: this moment that rises quickly and easily to the surface. Then read over what you’ve written--a paragraph or a page, whatever you have written. Then, without looking it over again, write it again using a different tense. Eula has noticed that different verb tenses will draw out different material. Often she will compose in the present tense, because it draws out richer detail, and then--if it makes the most sense--revise into another tense, like the past, later. 

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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