Archive for the 'Publishing' Category

David Jauss, award-winning author of Glossolalia: New and Selected Stories, published by Press 53.

Today’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, David Jauss. It’s an exercise he has used in his introductory writing classes, because this helps people realize they have a creative ability that they otherwise might not know that they have. He starts by offering students a situation to work from:

A man is standing at a bus stop. The bus is due in about five minutes. He’s alone. Then a woman shows up. She turns out to be his ex-wife. They haven’t seen each other in several years.

David says that if he just were to leave it at that, people would immediately start inventing their own stories, and playing things out. What he asks is that students write dialogue only. He wants five exchanges between the two characters. Each side of an exchange can be more than one sentence, but only five exchanges, and no descriptions, no setting - only dialogue. First the man says something, then the woman. Then the man, and the woman. Five times total. (David jokes that, as this is fiction, you should give the man the last word.)

Another layer to the prompt is this: do not plan out what the characters will say to one another. David’s students have to wait until he shares a word with them, for each half of each exchange. He chooses a book at random, opens to any page, points his finger to the page, and says the word he finds there. For example, he might hit the word “funnel.” So the man’s half of the first exchange must include the word funnel. When the woman responds, she will need to use the second word that David finds when he opens to another random page and tells his students the word he finds there. So you’ll find ten words, one at a time as you go, to incorporate into these five exchanges.

As you write using today’s prompt, either enlist the help of a partner, who can find random words for you to use in your five exchanges, or open a book of your own and choose as you go, finding words on your own. But don’t plan the five exchanges ahead of time.

Once you have the five exchanges, THEN ask yourself what your characters look like, and what are the details of the setting that you held back from writing initially. David says that people find really interesting ways to put these words in the dialogue, whereas if they had known the words ahead of time, they’d naturally start to plan it all out. Also, as you write the dialogue, you will likely find out about the surroundings, and the details of what your characters look like and such, without realizing you’ve done it, and without “planning it.” I’m guessing, too, that you’d have never used a word such as “funnel” in your dialogue, which means that what you come up with might well be more interesting and take you to a different place than you would have expected.

Good luck with these exercises 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 novelist Alice Lichtenstein. We discussed her book, Lost, which was published in March 2010 by Scribner.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about either an arrogant, opinionated person committing a subtle act, or a shy, nervous person creating a public disturbance.

Good luck with these exercises 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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2010 interview with novelist Ginnah Howard, whose new book, Doing Time Outside, comes out this month from Standing Stone Books.

Given that we're moving into August, and the nights are growing cooler - at least in Vermont - today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about the end of summer. 


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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Literary Agent Stéphanie Abou, of Foundry Literary + Media.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Stéphanie Abou. It's really threefold. First, Stéphanie says that sometimes, when you're stuck, it's best to gnaw at it for a while. Second, she recommends trying Proust's famous pastiche: when you get sick of your writing and you feel stuck, read a classic work and then write a paragraph or a page "in the voice of" that author, imitating that other voice. There's no pressure, because it's just to get you unstuck; you're not trying to access your own voice as much as do an exercise to get the world spinning again, get out of your own head. And then third, go back to writing pages about your character that aren't pretty or voice driven. Even just a bulleted list: she's 5'6" - brunette - she has brown eyes - she had a messed-up childhood. Going back like this will help you know your character better. What's her favorite color? Her favorite music? If you don't know your character well enough, the reader will pick up on it. So do this exercise, not necessarily to use in the work, but to better familiarize yourself with the person you're writing about.
G
ood 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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Poet Jenny Mary Brown, Editor-in-Chief of New South, Georgia State University’s journal of art and literature.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Jenny Mary Brown. It's a prompt that was, in turn, suggested to her by her friend, the poet Christine Swint.

Choose a poem by one of the great old poets and type it into your computer. After you've typed it, go line by line and respond with your own original line. Delete the old poem's lines as you go. This is a useful process to learn someone's rhythms. Christine did it once with one of Roethke's greenhouse poems, one where he is on top of the greenhouse. Her poem ended up being about looking down at something from a great height.

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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2013 Interview with the writer Abby Frucht, whose collection of stories, The Bell at the End of a Rope, is new from Narrative Library.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was mentioned by my guest, Abby Frucht, during our interview. You may recall that when we spoke, she said that she will ask new students to read the opening line or lines of a story, and then to use those lines to "project the objects, events, circumstances, characters, techniques, perspectives ... structural inclinations, anything that will take place over the course of the story." So today's prompt is to do this. Read the opening lines of a story - not one of your own, of course - and make a list of these story elements for which you might see the opening lines laying the groundwork. Then put down your list of gleaned ideas, read the full story, and see how the piece of fiction emerges from those early sentences. Don't look at this as a test of your ability to predict the story, but to understand how that author uses the early sentences to lead the reader into the story. In our interview, Abby said that the first lines have both the responsibility and the privilege of that introduction -- they lay down the clues about how the rest of the story might be drawn.

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 bestselling Vermont author Chris Bohjalian about his 2010 book, Secrets of Eden. Chris's latest novel, The Light in the Ruins, comes out July 8th, at the start of his Rock and Roll Book Tour with Vermont author Stephen Kiernan.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by Chris Bohjalian’s newest novel, The Light in the Ruins, which is described on his website - among other things - as a story of moral paradox. This week, write about a moral paradox.

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

Today's Write The Book Prompt, of course, involves walking. On a piece of paper, write down a problem you've been having in your written work. You might write something very general, like setting. Or you might write something more detailed, like, Why is Melody so afraid of dogs? You might write a few lines from a poem, and then add "structure," or "line breaks," if the poem's structure has been giving you a hard time. Fold up the piece of paper and put it in your pocket. Then go for a walk. While walking, look around, enjoy the day, enjoy the beauty of the environment. Do not re-read the words while you're out. Don't focus on the problem, but let it sit in your pocket, a quiet presence that needs resolution. Then go back to your desk, right away when you get home, and start to write.

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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Vermont author Kathryn Guare, whose novel, Deceptive Cadence: The Virtuosic Spy, Book I, came out in April.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Kathryn Guare. When she's out in the world, just going about her life, she will sometimes be inspired to consider how her characters might experience a certain moment in time. So, for example, if Conor were at the farmer's market and interacting with this a particular farmer or cheese maker or artist, how might he speak to that person? This week, keep your characters in mind as you go about your non-writing day. How would they speak and behave and react to others, if they were navigating through your world?

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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For the last Monday in Autism Awareness Month, an interview from the archives with Glen Finland, author of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick Next Stop: A Memoir of Family, which concerns the parenting of an autistic son as he approaches adulthood.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by statistics that I found on the website autism-society.org. That group has been recording a Fact of the Day each day this month. One such fact involved the incidence of ASDs (or autism spectrum disorders) through the decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Before 1990: 1 in 2,000 children were found to have some form of autism.
  • Mid 1990s: 1 in 500
  • Mid 2000s: 1 in 150
  • 2009: 1 in 110, or about 1% of children, have an ASD
  • 2012: 1 in 88

This week, consider these numbers, and write about autism. Write about someone you know whose life has been affected, or write about your own theory about how these numbers have changed. Write about your own experience with an ASD. Or whatever else might come to 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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Best-selling author of fiction, essays and memoir, Anne Lamott. We discussed Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son.

Following the interview with Anne Lamott, a partial rebroadcast from 2008, with the poet David Budbill.

As we continue to enjoy National Poetry Month, this week's Write The Book Prompt is another poetry exercise. It's inspired by the work of my first guest, Anne Lamott, whose book, Some Assembly Required, has to do with becoming a grandparent. So this week, write a poem about grandparents. Being a grandparent, having a grandparent, or whatever else this prompt might inspire for 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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Short story writer and novelist Moira Crone, whose latest book is The Not Yet, published by University of New Orleans Press and one of seven on the ballot for the Philip K. Dick Award - Best Paperback Original Science Fiction Novel of the Year (winner to be announced in late March 2013).

Click here to see artwork inspired by The Not Yet.

Today I have several Write The Book Prompts to offer, suggested by my guest, Moira Crone.

Conventional Fiction Prompts:

After he stopped her from jumping ...

I remember ...

I will never forget ...

Speculative Fiction Prompts:

Since there was no more religion, he decided to ...

Once the sky had smashed into smithereens, she ...

She read his arm to see where he was headed ...

Good luck with these exercises 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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Award-winning Scottish crime novelist Denise Mina, whose latest book is Gods and Beasts, published by Reagan Arthur Books.

This week's Write The Book Prompts were suggested by my guest, Denise Mina. The first is to do a timed speed-writing (automatic writing) session. Set a clock for three minutes, keep your pen on the page for that time and write down anything that comes into your head. Not a story, Denise says, just the stuff in your head. Stop after the 3 minutes and go away, and then come back and do another three minutes. She says this is a great way to get yourself started if you're stuck. Another good tip that she offers: as you're falling asleep, try to think of the next sentence. You'll wake up with a sense of urgency, desperate to get to your desk.

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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Writer, nurse and humanitarian aid worker Roberta Gately, author of Lipstick in Afghanistan and The Bracelet.

This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Roberta Gately. She says that when you observe people closely, writing ideas do come. She suggests that writers always have a notebook handy, so you can jot down your ideas wherever you are, no matter what you're doing. Next, go to a place where you're likely to find a lot of people: a supermarket, a library, or a shopping mall, for example. And watch people. See what you see, and write down your new ideas.

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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Local writer and public radio commentator Bill Mares, author most recently of 3:14 and Out and Brewing Change. Bill's wife, Chris Hadsel, whom he mentioned a few times during our interview, is the founder and director of Curtains Without Borders, a conservation project dedicated to documenting and preserving historic painted scenery. This week's Write The Book Prompt is to write a commentary. Choose a subject that interests you, decide what it is you want to say about that subject, and write 500 words about it. Edit the piece for concision, and read it aloud to see if it would translate well to radio. If you like it, submit it to a local station. Or submit it to Write The Book! 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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New York Times bestselling author of Girl With a Pearl Earring Tracy Chevalier, whose new book, The Last Runaway, was released on January 8th from Dutton. This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Tracy Chevalier. She said that it's incredibly helpful to look closely at things and write about what you see. For example, consider quilts. Tracy explains that one thing people don't realize about quilting; it's not just the pattern of the cloth. Actual quilting is the stitching of the layers together. Those are in patterns that sometimes people don't even see. Feathers, hearts, flowers, diamonds, all sorts of things. You have to look carefully to see them. There are a lot of quilt sites out there. (Such as Keepsake Quilting, Quilting Board and Quilting 101). And there's Pinterest! Go and choose a quilt, try to see some hidden meaning in the actual quilting, and write about that. Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

During our interview, Tracy talked about the Bench By The Road Project, started by Toni Morrison. You can read more about that here.

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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Interview from the archives with award-winning poet Charles Harper Webb. We discussed his 2009 book (part of the Pitt Poetry Series), Shadow Ball. His next collection, What Things Are Made Of, will be published by Univeristy of Pittsburgh Press in February 2013.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about a terrible experience that, over time, becomes a cherished memory.

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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John Homans, author of the new book, What's A Dog For? , published by Penguin, and executive editor of New York Magazine.

From Anton Chekhov's Lady With Lap Dog to Jack London's Call of the Wild, dogs, of course, feature prominently in literature. This week it's your turn to add to the canon; the Write The Book Prompt is to write about an unexpected encounter with a dog.

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

NOTE: Check out the guidelines for submitting your writing prompt outcomes for possible inclusion on the show!

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 author and veterinarian Steven B. Metz, D.M.V., whose new memoir is Exotic Tails: A Veterinarian’s Journey, published by Wind Ridge Publishing in Shelburne, Vermont.

MetzPhoto.jpg

Steven B. Metz, with representations of his two favorite hobbies: the motorcycle, and Bach.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to write about a person who inherits a cat, a ferret, a tiger, an elephant or a hedgehog. You can't call it the Life of Pi, though, as that's been done. (Twice, in fact, if you count the fact that Yann Martel freely admits that the inspiration for his Booker-prize-winning novel came from a story by Brazilian author, Moacyr Scliar, whose "Max and the Cats" features a teenage Jewish boy adrift in a boat with a panther after a shipwreck.)

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

We ran out of time for the Bookworm's Calendar this week, so here it is:

  • The Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center presents Alex Kershaw, Friday, December 7th, at 7, with his book, The Liberator.
  • And then on Saturday, December 8, at 7, James Gustave Speth will be at the Northshire with his book, America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy.
  • Archer Mayor will read from his latest Joe Gunther mystery, Paradise City, on Dec 8 at 11 at Bridgeside Books in Waterbury. Later that same day, at 3, he'll be at the Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock. And on Monday, Dec. 10 at 8, he'll be at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro, where he'll be at the 2012 Vermont Arts Awards Gala, receiving a Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.
  • The Dorothy Alling Memorial Library in Williston presents another pair of "Shape and Share Life Stories," Monday, December 10 & 17 from 12:30-2:30. Prompts trigger real life experience stories which are crafted into engaging narratives and shared with the group. Led by Recille Hamrell.

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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Rebroadcast of an interview with author Jim DeFilippi, whose latest book is Limerick Malfeasance, a collection of over two-hundred original limericks.

Lately, I'm interested in revision exercises. So this week's Write The Book Prompt is to flip to the middle of a project you're working on and read one page: any single page. Take notes. Try to divorce yourself from the rest of the content of the project, if it's a long one, and just focus on what you see happening on that one page. Look for mistakes, but perhaps more importantly, look for larger issues. Is your voice evident on the page? Is your narrator's voice in evidence? Are any characters who show up there behaving in a consistent manner with your ideas about how they should behave? Is the project's overarching purpose or vision in evidence on the page? Take notes, think about what you see right there in front of you, and see what ideas that might give you about what is or is not working with the piece as a whole. Maybe it will help. Good luck with this prompt and tune in 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 Writer and Writing Coach, Tamar Cole (tamarcole21@gmail.com).

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by a prompt that Tamar Cole has used in her writing workshops. She offers a word and then has participants write six lines about that word, or influenced by that word. So let's do that. In honor of Hurricane Sandy, the word for this week's prompt is STORM. Think about the word storm, and write six lines. Or more!

Good luck with this prompt and tune in 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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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 some basic, helpful advice suggested by my guest, Bob Boyd: Sit down and just start putting words on paper. The process evolves. If you don't get started, Bob says, you'll never get finished. He adds that being prone sometimes helps him come up with ideas. Though if you write in your job, as he did at Burch & Co., lying down at the office can create difficulties. Bob acknowledges that everyone's different. Lying down might help some people. For others, a walk might be the relaxing activity that gets the ideas flowing. Figure out what works for you. Then, as soon as you have an idea, even if it's in the middle of the night, put something on paper. You can always get back to it later. But preserve the idea so it's waiting for you.

Good luck with this prompt and tune in 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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Xu Xi, award-winning author of nine books of fiction & essays, and editor of three anthologies of Hong Kong literature in English. Her latest book is Habit of a Foreign Sky (Haven Books, 2010). We spoke in 2008 about her memoir, Evanescent Isles: From My City-Village (Hong Kong University Press, 2008).

The show didn't air live this week, as Monday was Labor Day, the federal holiday that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. So this week's Write The Book Prompt is to write about the worker. Write a poem about your mother's or father's work in a factory. Or invent a story about someone whose work somehow comes into conflict with his or her home life. Write an essay that touches on your own feelings about the role of unions in America today. Or a personal piece about your own work history. Bottom line: think about workers, and see what you're motivated to write.

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 that existed briefly in 2008 and 2009, featuring several South Burlington High School students - now grads)

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2009 Interview with Vermont writer and Middlebury professor, Robert Cohen, author of Amateur Barbarians.

This week, I'm helping my stepson and his wife move to their new home. So I'm spending a lot of time in their old home, emptying it of boxes, food, pots, pans, paper towels ... you get the drift. So this week's Write The Book Prompt is to write about an empty house.

Good luck with this prompt and 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 author Bill Schubart, whose latest novel is Panhead: A Journey Home.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my interview with Bill Schubart about his new book, Panhead. Write about an accident. It can be something real, from your life, or a fictional incident. Maybe your sister threw her croquet mallet in a huff when you were small, and hit you with it. Or maybe it was something more serious: a boating accident or a burn from a spill. If an actual incident, write a poem or story or essay about how this incident changed one of the people involved. Or, if fictional, imagine how it might have changed someone and write about that.

Good luck with this prompt, and 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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Award-winning Vermont poet Jane Shore., author of That Said: New and Collected Poems, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Jane Shore. Two books that she very much appreciates are I REMEMBER, by the poet Joe Brainard, and THE POETICS OF SPACE, by Gaston Bachelard. In I REMEMBER, Joe Brainard starts off every sentence with the words "I remember." He then fills out each sentence with a specific memory. Gaston Bachelard's book talks about the power that various spaces have.

In keeping with lessons she's learned from reading those books, Jane Shore offers the following writing exercise to students in her classes. Consider the house you lived in when you were maybe seven or eight, and mentally go through every room in the house: open every drawer, every closet. Consider all the clothes in the closet. Think about the bicycle, the dolls, the toys. In the kitchen, open the refrigerator, look at the name of the milk company printed on the milk carton. What kind of ice cream is in the freezer? What kind of leftovers are in the fridge? What is the surface of the kitchen table? What does the floor look like? When you lived there, did you have a special cup you drank out of? She goes through the entire house in great detail: think about your mother's perfume, your old Halloween costumes, parties that your parents had, how you celebrated birthdays. Let the memories of that place in which you lived help you recall other memories. Take notes as you go, mentally, from front hall to powder room to den. And as you go, write about the details you rediscover.  Good luck with this prompt and tune in 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 Canadian author Douglas Glover, on his latest book: a collection of essays on writing, Attack of the Copula Spiders, published by Biblioasis.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write what Douglas Glover playfully calls "a but-construction." In his new book, ATTACK OF THE COPULA SPIDERS, he writes: "Imagine any simple declarative sentence, and add the word but to the end." The example Douglas offers is: "The barn was red, but..." Now keep writing. See what complexity you might be able to introduce to this sentence, or another of your own devising, simply by adding the word "but." As he explains in the book, "I wrote the word 'but' and then had to write something else; the blank space demands completeness. I had no idea what I might put in there before I wrote the words. The result is pure invention, discovery, and rather fun."

Good luck with this prompt and tune in 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 writer Glen Finland, author of Next Stop: A Memoir of Family, published by AmyEinhornBooks/Putnam. The book is a Summer 2012 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Glen Finland. Describe the precise moment at a time in your life when you realized you had to let go of someone or something. And what gave you the courage to do it?

Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another.

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Michael DeSanto, co-owner (along with his wife, Renée Reiner) of Phoenix Books and Cafe in Essex, and the new Phoenix Bookstore in downtown Burlington.

Now that it actually feels like summer, today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about a first swimming experience, either yours, someone else's, or that of a fictional character.

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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Massachusetts novelist Andrew Goldstein, author of The Bookie's Son, published by 617 Books.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write a setting from your childhood. It might be the bedroom you had before your family moved to another town when you were in high school, or it might be the street in front of your house, a scene from your kindergarten classroom, or from the back seat of your parents' car. Try to capture the details that will help readers understand what it was like to be in that place, and in particular, to be you -- your childhood self -- in that place. Consider colors as you write, and odors. The smells from the kitchen as mother cooked, the sound of a vacuum, the sounds of your parents talking from the other side of a closed door. What was it like to be there? Was it air conditioned? Or did the heater go all the time so that the windows had to be left open? What made you feel particularly safe, or comfortable, or frightened to be there? Try to capture it and then see how you might use it, or simply what you learned from writing it, in a larger piece of writing.

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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Novelist Carol Anshaw, whose new book is Carry The One, published by Simon and Schuster.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Carol Anshaw, who uses it in her classes in the MFA in Writing program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The prompt actually started from an exercise in the book What If? by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter, although Carol uses a slightly altered version. Take an event that happened in your life between the ages of 5 and 11. Write a list comprised of everything you can remember about that incident. Then make a second list: everything you don't remember. Write a story using that second list. The exercise is particularly useful for new writers, who, afterward, might better understand the process of creating fiction. 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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Vermont writer Martin Magoun, author of the poetry collection Shattered and a memoir in essays, Russian Roulette: Depression, Suicide, Medication (DRUGS), published by Wharf Rat Books.

This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest Martin Magoun. "Describe the girl with the far away eyes."

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 former South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont short story writer Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise, published by Simon and Schuster.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my conversation with Megan Mayhew Bergman. Twice during our conversation, she talked about slowing down the fiction narrative, to its benefit. She mentioned slowing things down poetically as you approach the end of a story. She also talked about slowing down the outcome of a suspenseful moment in a story. This week, think about how you might use this advice in a story or a scene of your own. Slow things down, perhaps when you're most tempted to speed things up, and see what happens.

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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Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my conversation with Susan Cain. The tenth chapter of her book, QUIET, is called "The Communication Gap: How to Talk to Members of the Opposite Type." The chapter begins with this paragraph: "If introverts and extroverts are the north and south of temperament-opposite ends of a single spectrum- then how can they possibly get along? Yet the two types are often drawn to each other-in friendship, business, and especially romance. These pairs can enjoy great excitement and mutual admiration, a sense that each completes the other. One tends to listen, the other to talk; one is sensitive to beauty, but also to slings and arrows, while the other barrels cheerfully through his days; one pays the bills and the other arranges the children's play dates. But it can also cause problems when members of these unions pull in opposite directions." Consider this paragraph, then write a scene or a poem that includes dialogue between an introvert and an extrovert. And many thanks to Susan for permission to reprint that paragraph.

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 short story writer and guitar builder, Creston Lea, author of the story collection Wild Punch, published by Turtle Point Press.

The last time I broadcast this interview with Creston Lea, I used his suggestion for a Write The Book Prompt, which was to eavesdrop on a conversation in a public place, and then use what you heard to write a scene with dialogue. This time, I'll recommend something slightly different, but also useful in writing dialogue. Using a digital recorder or a dictaphone, record a conversation between two people. Then transcribe the conversation exactly as it occurred. Keep all of their pauses and stutters and "ums" and repetitions. Now study a page of dialogue in a book. What might differ in the way that conversation actually sounds from the way that would best represent it on the page? What would you take out, what might you change or add? See if you can turn the conversation that you recorded into a scene that would be understandable--effortless for a reader to digest.

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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Vermont author Mark Pendergrast, whose latest book is Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World.

Inspired by our guest Mark Pendergrast's interest in Japan, this week's Write The Book Prompt is to fold an origami crane. If you get stuck in your writing, or are simply wanting an activity that keeps you thinking, but not struggling, folding an origami animal might help. You'll still be engaged in a creative act, but you'll be following a set list of instructions, which might free the author in you to continue working away from the computer keyboard. Below are a few links to origami paper folding (all from the same site, which seemed easy to follow and not full of annoying ads). You can also print the Write The Book logo I've included below that for colorful folding paper. Or use a sheet from your recycle bin: maybe a rejected poem or scene can have a second life as a crane, a frog, or a flower.

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

Crane

Flower

Frog

WTBLogo.jpg

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Vermont organic gardener and writer Ron Krupp, whose books are The Woodchuck's Guide to Gardening and Lifting The Yoke: Local Solutions to America's Farm and Food Crisis.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about your eating habits or those of someone you know. You can journal about how those habits have changed for the better or worse, how education has played a role, whether organic and/or locally-grown foods are an important part of this person's diet, and why or why not.

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

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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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Robin Hemley, author of the book Do Over! “in which a 48- year-old father of three returns to kindergarten, summer camp, the prom, and other embarrassments.” Robin will have two new books out in 2012: Reply All: Stories (Break Away Books), and A Field Guide for Immersion Writing: Memoir, Journalism, and Travel, (University of Georgia Press). You can find more information about these on Robin's website.

The sound quality of today's archive rebroadcast was not great. Not sure what happened, but a bit buzzy. So here I'm posting the old podcast as it originally ran in 2009, in hopes of providing better sound quality. The were minor differences in the intro and closing, most notably a new prompt, which I'm offering below. Thanks for your patience.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to organize your own Do Over. Maybe it doesn't make a lot of sense for you to redo the prom, or to re-enroll in kindergarten. But perhaps you had another experience in recent weeks or months that you wish you could do over. Go back to the store where a counter person was rude and you left feeling upset. Or make plans to see a friend to whom YOU were perhaps rude, or were not your best self in some way, and you left feeling embarrassed or frustrated or uniquely human. Revisit your old school, if it's nearby, track down one of your former teachers. Maybe you gave a reading at a local open mike venue and it went poorly; try it again. See how it goes to re-approach an imperfect experience with new enthusiasm and perspective. And then write about the two events, and what you might have taken away from this exercise.

Good luck with it, and please listen next week for another!

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Interview from the Archives with Award-Winning Vermont Writer Howard Frank Mosher, whose new book, The Great Northern Express, comes out  March 6, 2012.

Today's Write The Book Prompt celebrates a little-known holiday. According to the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association, which established the event in 1977, Today is National Handwriting Day, a day devoted to promoting the utilization of pens, pencils, and writing paper. January 23rd was chosen by the association because this is the birthday of John Hancock, the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence. So the prompt today is to write long hand. Write a poem, a page, or a chapter, or simply free write for a set amount of time - but do so by putting pen to paper. Let your hand experience the activity of writing, of sweeps and loops and spirals and lines.

Nathalie Goldberg, in her book, Writing Down The Bones, says that a different aspect of yourself comes out when you type. She also says that when she writes something emotional, she must write it "the first time directly with hand on paper." Handwriting, according to Goldberg, "is more connected to the movement of the heart." So this week, write something in your own handwriting.

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

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Vermont author Castle Freeman, Jr., whose latest book is Round Mountain: New and Collected Stories, published by Concord ePress and coming out soon in print from Concord Free Press.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is a visual exercise. I'm posting three photos here; choose one that inspires you, and write. I hope you have fun with it. Good luck, and please listen next week for another prompt.

PhotoPrompt.jpg

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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Joan Leegant, Award-winning Author of Stories and the Novel, Wherever You Go, published by Norton.

Today I have two Write The Book Prompts to suggest, both of which were generously offered by my guest, Joan Leegant. First, write titles: maybe ten of them. Pick one, and start writing. Let the title you've come up with and chosen be the impetus that feeds what you write. Joan's second suggestion is to read someone else's book for an hour and then write ten first lines of your own. Pick one, and go from there. Reading another book first will put your mind into the language of fiction, and can help to feed the first lines you write.

Good luck with these exercises 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 author, essayist and NPR contributor, Tim Brookes, discussing his book Guitar: An American Life.

Prompt: This week’s Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today with author Tim Brookes. During our conversation, Tim said that often, when people feel stuck, they have put up a fence around the thing they should be writing. Even if this mysterious fenced subject isn’t what you’ve been trying to confront, perhaps it’s time to have a look at it. What’s on your mind? What have you been avoiding? Are you procrastinating in order to keep from tackling something real or difficult? Give this some thought and see if you can identify something that’s been wanting to be written about – something you’ve fenced off for whatever reason. Then take a journal and free write about this subject for twenty or thirty minutes. Ignore form. Ignore genre. Don’t worry about whether or not this is the subject you’ve been feeling stuck on. Write about the things that are there with you, right now, and see if this doesn’t help you move forward in some larger way. Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music Credits: 1) "Dreaming 1" - John Fink; 2) Tim Brookes on guitar playing "End of a Holiday," by Simon Nichol.

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Literary Agent April Eberhardt, who works with clients in both traditional publishing venues and e- and self-publishing venues.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write a poem that includes at least six of the following ten words, which I've chosen by scanning through a back issue of a favorite literary journal:

Spear, Makeshift, Sporadic, Glue, Wrestle, Pull, Bargain, Tributary, Feast, Grainy

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 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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An Interview With Three Participants In National Novel Writing Month: Martin and Anne LaLonde, and T. Greenwood. National Novel Writing Month is "a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing," according to the movement's website. "Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30."

In honor of NaNoWriMo's everywhere, today's Write The Book Prompt is to write 1,667 words one day this week. Or every day this week, depending on what you have planned.

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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Interview From the Archives with Vermont Author of Memoir, Fiction and Nonfiction, Christopher Noel, whose most recent books include Impossible Visits: The Inside Story of Interactions with Sasquatch at Habituation Sites, and A Frail House: Stories.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Chris Noel in 2009, when I first interviewed him. It's a great prompt, and fitting for Halloween, so I'm repeating it now.

During the interview, Chris mentioned that writers should meditate on the monsters that move us, those mysterious creatures that fascinated and perhaps repelled us when we were small. Contemplate the monster that lived under your bed, inside your closet, or outside your window, and then free write. This is a great way to enlighten or SHOW yourself what interests and motivates you. It may well also show you something you'd forgotten or hadn't even realized about yourself.

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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Bestselling Canadian Mystery Writer Louise Penny, whose latest novel is A Trick of the Light. This interview from the archives first aired in 2010.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write a poem or story about an invented fad. Create a fictional trend, imagine that it has become wildly popular, and write about it.

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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