Archive for the 'Publishing' Category

Interview with literary agent Janet Reid, of FinePrint Literary Management.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write a query letter. It should be a single page long. And according to Janet Reid, it should be "as well written, and carefully thought out as you can make it." Avoid hyperbole and cliche. Avoid the expression: my book is about. If you query by snail mail, always include an SASE: that's self-addressed stamped envelope. ALWAYS include your email address and phone number on the query letter. And address the letter to a specific agent, not to a long list of names in an email. And not to Agent, as in, "Dear Agent." And be sure to check out Janet Reid's excellent chart, What You Need Before You Query as well as her second website, Query Shark.

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 latest book, Secrets of Eden.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the work of my guest, Chris Bohjalian. As we discussed in the interview, Chris allowed one of his narrators, Katie Hayward, to have a point of view about something she hadn't witnessed, that is, her parents having danced lovingly at a wedding. Katie relays details about this moment by way of a home movie she's seen of the dance.

This week, experiment with unusual ways to let your characters narrate events they may not have first-hand knowledge of. Let a father find a note that his daughter wrote to her boyfriend. Let the detective overhear a conversation in the washroom. Give that philandering husband have a frightening and possibly prophetic dream. Or, as Chris did, share an event with your narrator by way of a reasonably reliable video recording.

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 Canadian Mystery Writer Louise Penny.

Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the work of my guest, Louise Penny. In her latest novel, The Brutal Telling, published by Minotaur Books, a division of the St. Martin's Publishing Group, Louise Penny employs the literary device of the story within a story. In her book, this device serves to help set up who certain characters are, and what are their fears and temptations. Ultimately, the inner story carries weight that a reader might not have expected at the start of the book. Other reasons to use one or more stories within a story might be to entertain, to establish an unreliable narrator, to fill in background or history, or to establish relevant fables and legends that might influence characters. As you write this week, consider trying to involve a story within your story. If you're working on a novel, be careful not to digress so wildly from the main plot that you'll lose your reader. But, as an exercise, see if subtly weaving another story into the texture of your work might serve it in some useful way.

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

Readings by Louise Penny, from The Brutal Telling (New York: Minotaur Books, a division of the St. Martin's Publishing Group). Copyright © 2009 by Louise Penny. Recorded with permission from Minotaur Books.

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 poet Leslie Ullman.

Prompt:This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Leslie Ullman, during our interview. She mentioned this exercise-the poetic inversion-twice during our talk. Take a poem that strikes you in some way-it can be a poem of yours or one by another writer-read it through a couple of times, and then jot down casually, phrase by phrase, opposites to something in the poem. Use the work as a starting point only, writing opposites that occur to you as you read each line. Then put the exercise aside. Look at it later, and see what's coming at you. Do this without any expectations, but just to see what comes of trying to create an inversion of the original poem.

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 author of fiction and nonfiction, Lawrence Sutin. His latest book is When To Go Into The Water: A Novel.

Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Lawrence Sutin. Describe your opposite. On paper, as an exercise, describe your personal opposite: whatever that means to you. Whether it means gender, age, psychology, physicality. Write in vivid detail a human being who, in your sense of things, is absolutely opposite to 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 South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with poet and author of fiction and nonfiction, David Huddle. This interview from the archives was the first show aired on Write The Book, back in March 2008.

Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my guest, David Huddle. In his essay, Issues Of Character, which appears in his book, The Writing Habit (published by The University Press of New England) he suggests six ways to bring a character to life in a story. They are: Information, Physical Appearance, Thoughts and Feelings, Actions, Sensory Experience, and Speech. He fills an entire essay with helpful explanations of what he means and examples of fine characterizations, but at the very least, the list itself may be of help to a writer who is stuck, trying to build a character. So, as you write this week, focus on your weakest character, and see if you might improve on his or her presentation on the page by studying the information, physical appearance, thoughts and feelings, actions, sensory experience, and speech that you, as the writer, have provided to the reader about this character.

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 Diane Imrie and Richard Jarmusz, co-authors of the new cookbook, Cooking Close To Home, and co-workers within Burlington, VT's Fletcher Allen Health Care Department of Nutrition Services.

Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my guests, Diane Imrie and Richard Jarmusz. Their cookbook, Cooking Close To Home, has a focus on harvesting local foods. Richard says that, "Life is a harvest of good local foods." In keeping with this theme, today's prompt has to do, metaphorically, with harvesting that which we have, rather than looking far and wide to import experience into our writing. This week, write something from your own life experience. Even if your primary genre is fiction, pull something from your life, disguise it, and bring it into your work. Here are three ideas to get you started:

  1. Write about a favorite teacher. Focus on setting as you write about being in his or her classroom.
  2. Write about your first best friend. Include sounds and smells as you write about this friendship.
  3. Write about a terrible vacation experience. Complicate what you write by including the one good thing that happened on the trip.

    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 with Deborah S. Schapiro, editor of the Vermont publication Edible Green Mountains.

    Prompt: Deborah Schapiro actually recommended two Write The Book Prompts for listeners.

    1) Your first prompt this week has to do with recipes. Look at recipes and notice how they're written. You can look in cookbooks, magazines, your own index card file. Notice actual differences in recipes' structure and try to understand what the cooks who wrote them were focused on: ease of use, quick communication, tips for success? Did your grandmother guess at average quantities, or did she keep to very specific measurements? Does a certain famous chef suggest where you might find little-known ingredients? Does your favorite cookbook offer variations or keep to a set script? Some recipes are copied down as simple paragraphs, with ingredients embedded in the text. In others, ingredients are offered up front. Some are written in two columns, with ingredients on the left and instructions on the right. Edible Green Mountains delineates each step with a new paragraph indent, in hopes of keeping things simple.

    After you study a few recipes, write a scene or a poem that attempts to emulate something about a recipe you've found. Then write it again, using another style of recipe for inspiration. What differs in your final products? Which do you prefer and why?

    2) The second prompt suggested by Deborah also has two parts. First, consider a food memory. When Deborah was small, she would occasionally come home from school to find her mother in the kitchen making a Hungarian biscotti-like cookie. She recalls the warming scent of cinnamon, the crunch of cinnamon and sugar on top of the finished cookies. The glass of milk. All of these sensory memories evoke strong emotions for her as she thinks back.

    Once you've identified a food memory of your own, consider a food-related poem or scene that moved you in a work of literature. Blueberries, by Robert Frost. Proust's famous madeleines. Just about every chapter in Like Water For Chocolate. Why did the scene or poem affect you as it did? If you were to try and write a food scene or poem of your own, what might you have learned from this work of literature that would help you? Now try to write about your food memory.

    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 with the poet Charles Harper Webb, author of the new collection Shadow Ball, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

    Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Charles Harper Webb. Charles recently published this prompt and one or two others in a collection titled The Working Poet, published by Autumn House Press and edited by Scott Minar.

    Choose two subjects that interest you - the more different and apparently unrelated, the better. You may choose two stories, two processes (making beer, lethal injections), a story and a process, whatever. The important thing is that both subjects be of real interest to you. Now write a poem in which you combine the two subjects, letting each intermingle with and illuminate the other. Ideally, you will have no idea how the two interconnect until - it may seem like magic - they do.

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

    The poems from the book Shadow Ball:  New and Selected Poems, by Charles Harper Webb, ©2009, are aired/posted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

    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 Scott Russell Sanders, author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction. His latest is  A Conservationist Manifesto, published by Indiana University Press.

    Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Scott Russell Sanders, who is a writing teacher as well as a writer. Think about the classic elements as the Greeks imagined them: air, earth, fire and water. Say the words over and over in your mind. Settle on one of them. And then begin to think about what associations you have in your own life with that element. Water can be ice, moving water, a pond, something you drink, snow, mist, clouds. You could think about a place where you encountered water in some foundational way: where you learned to swim or a snowstorm you got caught in in your car once, or sledding down a hill as a child. Write a list - not a narrative - of these associations or memories: sledding, ice fishing, snowball fights. Pick one or two of these items from your list and then begin to write, begin to unpack it, see where it goes.

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

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

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    Interview with Scott Russell Sanders, author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction. His latest is  A Conservationist Manifesto, published by Indiana University Press.

    Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the work of my guest, Scott Russell Sanders. The excerpt he read from his new book, A Conservationist Manifesto, is really intended for two audiences. Here's some of what he said as he introduced the pages he read during our interview:

    What I try to do ... is tell [the children of the future] what I have loved, what I have valued about the earth during my time alive ... and also what my hopes for them are... At the same time, ... I'm speaking of course to the contemporary reader ... and inviting the present reader to think about the effects of our lives on the prospects for future children.

    As you write in the coming week, consider your audience. Who will read your words and how would you like your work to impact those people? Do you want the reactions of your audience to affect the way you write, or would you rather just put words on paper, tell your story, convey your ideas? If you're writing an essay, as Scott Russell Sanders did in writing "For The Children," you may well want to think about your audience ahead of time. If you're writing a poem, reacting to the world around you in a personal way, you may be less inclined to worry about how your reader will react. In either case, this bears consideration. Who will read your work, how will they react, and is that important to the process of creation itself?

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

    Readings by Scott Russell Sanders, from A Conservationist Manifesto (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009). Copyright © 2009 by Scott Russell Sanders. Recorded with permission.

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

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    Interview with Elaine Sopchak, former owner of the Book Rack and Children's Pages and founder of Vermont Voices Marketing Firm.

    Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the work of my guest, Elaine Sopchak, former owner of the sadly now-closed independent bookstore, The Book Rack and Children's Pages. Next time you're in a book store, pay attention to how things are laid out. Why is the children's section where it is? Where is fiction? Is there a tactical reason for its placement in the store? How about nonfiction? Is it all together, or is it placed in groups by theme: history, biography, science, memoir? Are there special displays, and if so, what's featured? What kind of poetry selection does the store have? Does it carry the books you want?

    Here's the writing prompt part of this excursion. Notice what books you pick up as you wander the store. What catches your eye? Author reputation? Jacket cover? Title? When you turn the book over in your hands, does your interest build or lessen? Why? What, specifically, is drawing you to each work? Think about your own writing then. Will it draw readers like you? Do you want it to? If so, does anything need to change in the way you're approaching your work? This exercise has two goals. One, to reacquaint us with the hard work that is accomplished by booksellers. And two, to remind us about what it is that draws us, at first glance, to the books we love.

    Good luck with this prompt, and please listen in two weeks 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 Thea Lewis, Vermont author of Haunted Burlington: Spirits of Vermont's Queen City, and founder of the Queen City Ghost Walk.

    Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today with Thea Lewis. Write from the perspective of a ghost. How would it be if everyone who could see you were afraid of you? Would you haunt a place or a person? Would you be helpful or frightening? Who do you suppose you were you in life, and what happened to bring you to this point?

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

    Readings by Thea Lewis, from Haunted Burlington: Spirits of Vermont's Queen City (Charleston: Haunted America, The History Press, 2009). Copyright © 2009 by Thea Lewis. Recorded with permission from The History Press.

    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 Christopher Noël , Vermont author of fiction and nonfiction, Sasquatch Investigator and owner of the Tall Rock Retreat in East Calais.

    Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Christopher Noël . During the show, 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...

    Readings by Christopher Noël , from Impossible Visits. Copyright © 2009 by Christopher Noël. Recorded with permission.

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

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

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

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

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

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    Interview from the archives with Philip Graham, fiction and cnf writer and co-founder of the journal Ninth Letter. Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by a passage from Philip Graham's new book, The Moon, Come to Earth, published by The University of Chicago Press. The following is the book's first paragraph, from the essay titled "I Don't Know Why I Love Lisbon."

    The grilled sardines lying on my plate are much larger than the stunted little things packed in tins which go by the same name in the U.S., and their eye sockets stare up at the ceiling, where hanging light fixtures are shaped like gourds. The aroma of sardines led me here, the scent sharp at first as it hit the nose (perhaps too sharp), until the smoky complexities took over, akin-at least for me-to a bouquet of wine. I take another sip from my glass of vinho verde and peer up at the small square of the TV perched on a high shelf beside the restaurant's open door. The screen displays a smaller green rectangle of a soccer pitch, with the even smaller figures of the players racing back and forth.

    Consider the middle passage, about the aroma of sardines, their sharp scent and smoky complexity, and how the passage is enriched by the details of scent. In your work, have you remembered to include smells? This week, look at heightening the power of description by way of scent. From perfume to overcooked eggs, pine needles to paint thinner. Be sure to let the smells into your writing, to present a richer, fuller presentation of the world you're trying to convey. Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another... Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Do Lado De Cá Do Mar” - Mario Laginha

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    Interview with Vermont Writer Rowan Jacobsen

    Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard with Rowan Jacobsen. In his book, The Living Shore, Rowan talks about children at play being "powerhouses of creativity." He refers to the science essayist Lewis Thomas, who suggests that earliest language was probably developed by children. In his book, The Fragile Species, Thomas writes, "...it probably began when the earliest settlements, or the earliest nomadic tribes, reached a sufficient density of population so that there were plenty of very young children in close contact with each other, a critical mass of children, playing together all day long."

    Today's prompt, then, is two-fold. First, try to let go of your adult sensibilities and get playful as you write. Because it is as children that we best access the possibilities of language. The second part of today's prompt is about oysters. Recall Jonathan Swift's words: "He was a bold man that first eat an oyster." Write about that person. What was his or her situation and state of mind, to be that bold?

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

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

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    Interview with Vermont Writer Doug Wilhelm

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

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

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

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    Interview with Writer and upstreet Editor and Publisher Vivian Dorsel

    Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today with Vivian Dorsel. During our conversation, she mentioned an exercise that she likes (by Natalie Goldberg). A similar activity might be to try writing the words "I used to," on a page, then follow that with a ten-minute free write about something you USED to do. Then write "I'm going to," and write for another ten minutes about something you're going to do.

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

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

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    Interview with Vermont Psychologist and Author Arnold Kozak

    Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today with Arnold Kozak. The thirtieth metaphor for mindfulness in his book, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants, begins this way: "In many Buddhist works, the mind and the self are often compared to a small pool of water. Thoughts can be seen as a breeze or wind blowing on the surface. These disturbances obscure what can be seen below the surface-the bottom of the pool, the ground of being-without changing it in any way. This ground is there, always there, no matter what is happening on the surface." Today's prompt turns that metaphor to writing. Consider the piece you're now working on. Maybe it's a novel, a memoir, a collection of stories or poetry. Perhaps it's a smaller entity: an essay or story or poem.  The work itself has an underlying essence, apart from the various images, snippets of dialogue, and actual scenes that exist within. As you write, try to keep a sense of this underlying essence within your work, your vision for it as a whole. Imagine that to be the bottom of the pool. Then, as you work, as you lose yourself in the wonderful creative act, feel free to create ripples along the top of the pool, to experiment and change and play with various elements within the work, all the while keeping clear in your own mind the bottom of the pool. Maintain some sort of focus, so that your work continues to embody that underlying vision, your writing's "ground of being" that is the bottom of the pool.

    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 Pulitzer Prize Winner Richard Russo

    Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today with Richard Russo. The title of his new book, That Old Cape Magic, refers at least in part to those things we wish for and can not ever have. What do your characters want? What do they dream about? Are their dreams within reach? Do they need unattainable dreams, simply to go on? What might that say about them? How do their goals and dreams make them behave? Consider dreams and motivations as you work. It’s important to know what your characters want before making them act, react, speak and think.

    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 author of fiction and creative nonfiction Phyllis Barber.

    Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt is suggested by my guest, Phyllis Barber. She recommends, “Read Flannery O’Connor, who does things with character that I don’t think I’ve seen many other writers do. Her characterizations are fabulous. So… Look at Flannery!” And that is your prompt today: look at Flannery. Her stories can be found in the books Everything That Rises Must Converge and A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, among other collections. She also wrote two novels: Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away. And, of course, every writer can benefit from reading her essays on writing and the writing life, collected in the book, Mystery and Manners.

    Here’s a snippet from her story, A Good Man Is Hard To Find. Even if you’ve never read this story and even if you don’t know the context of the scene, I think you’ll come to know the characters very quickly, from these few paragraphs:

    They drove off again into the hot afternoon. The grandmother took cat naps and woke up every few minutes with her own snoring. Outside of Toombsboro she woke up and recalled an old plantation that she had visited in this neighborhood once when she was a young lady. She said the house had six white columns across the front and that there was an avenue of oaks leading up to it and two little wooden trellis arbors on either side in front where you sat down with your suitor after a stroll in the garden. She recalled exactly which road to turn off to get to it. She knew that Bailey would not be willing to lose any time looking at an old house, but the more she talked about it, the more she wanted to see it once again and find out if the little twin arbors were still standing. "There was a secret:-panel in this house," she said craftily, not telling the truth but wishing that she were, "and the story went that all the family silver was hidden in it when Sherman came through but it was never found . . ."

    "Hey!" John Wesley said. "Let's go see it! We'll find it! We'll poke all the woodwork and find it! Who lives there? Where do you turn off at? Hey Pop, can't we turn off there?"

    "We never have seen a house with a secret panel!" June Star shrieked. "Let's go to the house with the secret panel! Hey Pop, can't we go see the house with the secret panel!"

    "It's not far from here, I know," the grandmother said. "It wouldn't take over twenty minutes."

    Bailey was looking straight ahead. His jaw was as rigid as a horseshoe. "No," he said.

    The children began to yell and scream that they wanted to see the house with the secret panel. John Wesley kicked the back of the front seat and June Star hung over her mother's shoulder and whined desperately into her ear that they never had any fun even on their vacation, that they could never do what THEY wanted to do. The baby began to scream and John Wesley kicked the back of the seat so hard that his father could feel the blows in his kidney.

    "All right!" he shouted and drew the car to a stop at the side of the road. "Will you all shut up? Will you all just shut up for one second? If you don't shut up, we won't go anywhere."

    "It would be very educational for them," the grandmother murmured.

    That, again, is an excerpt from Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard To Find. Phyllis Barber suggests reading O’Connor’s work in looking for inspiration on character development. Good luck with this activity 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 fiction author Tammy Greenwood.

    Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Tammy Greenwood. When she is stuck in her work, Tammy frequently turns to prompts from the book A Writer's Book of Days: A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life, by Judy Reeves. Specifically, Tammy once broke through writer’s block with the help of a prompt to write a scene in which a character takes a bath. So that’s your prompt today: have your character take a bath. And thank you to the author Judy Reeves for the book that suggests that prompt. Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

    Readings by Tammy Greenwood, from Two Rivers (New York: Kensington Publishing Corp). Copyright © 2009 by T. Greenwood. Recorded with permission from Kensington Books.

    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 best-selling author Anita Diamant.

    Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my guest, Anita Diamant, whose fiction is often based on “found stories” and historical events. Navigate to the Library of Congress’ “Today In History Site”  ( http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/today/ ) Read about this day in history, keeping your mind open about how you could create a fictional character who might have participated in or witnessed the event of the day. Then write a scene featuring that character. Here’s an example:

    On Sunday March 7, 1965, about six hundred people began a fifty-four mile march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol in Montgomery. They were demonstrating for African American voting rights and to commemorate the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, shot three weeks earlier by a state trooper while trying to protect his mother at a civil rights demonstration. On the outskirts of Selma, after they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the marchers, in plain sight of photographers and journalists, were brutally assaulted by heavily armed state troopers and deputies.

    Given this historical moment, would you choose to write a scene from the perspective of a bystander, a marcher, from Jackson’s mother, from the state trooper who shot Jimmie Lee Jackson? Perhaps from the viewpoint of a photographer? Use this moment in history as a starting point. Honor the sacrifices of  the past by re-imagining it in your fiction. 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 Kate Harper and Leon Marasco about their nonfiction book, If Only I Could Tell You: Where Past Loves and Current Intimacy Meet. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

    Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired by fear: an emotion that can make people reluctant to discuss past loves. Write a poem, story, or chapter in which a character—real or imagined, completely new or already familiar to you—has to confront his or her greatest fear. This can be, like the dread of discussing past loves, a fear of sentiment. Or it can be a fear of physical harm, of disease, of bugs! Whatever it might be, treat it as very real to your character, so that the reader will take it seriously and empathize. 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 former Iowa Short Fiction award winner Abby Frucht, writer of short stories, novels, essays and reviews. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

    Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my guest, Abby Frucht. In discussing her work, Abby explained that, to her, specific detail achieves two purposes. First, “it allows the reader to have an immediate physical investment in the story.” And second, it can have larger significance, serving a figurative function in the narrative and acting as a signpost for the reader. In the case of her story, “The Dead Car,” the detailed description of the spoon that was lost may later be brought back to remind the reader that this spoon speaks to loss, generally. Not just the loss of a certain object, but other kinds of loss, as well. In your own work, study the descriptions that already exist and see if you can use specific detail to your advantage, not simply to embellish, but to help readers experience the work more fully. Try to find objects that already exist in the work, then heighten their function through detail. Avoid wedging in symbols; try to allow significant details to arise organically. 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 Rosellen Brown, award-winning writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, author of such books as Before and After, Half a Heart and Civil Wars. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

    Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Rosellen Brown. This exercise is also taught by Nicholas Del Banco in his courses at the University of Michigan. Take two classic books and have the characters from one show up in the other. Write a scene in which a character from Mrs. Dalloway appears in The Sun Also Rises. What might happen? Would Pip, from Great Expectations, be a good friend for Tom Sawyer? Would Mr. Darcy be attracted to or repulsed by Daisy Buchanan? This may seem a little silly, but writing playfully and having fun is better than staring at the blank page. Like all exercises, this one might help you to open your mind and discover new things about voice.

    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 agent Sorche Fairbank, owner of Fairbank Literary Representation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

    Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt is an exercise for novelists who think their work might just be ready to send out to agents. Sorche Fairbank quoted the publishing adage that most novels really begin somewhere between pages 12 and 24. She suggested that writers who are trying to decide if their work is starting in the right place should open their manuscript randomly within that page range and read sentences. Ask yourself, “What if I started with this sentence? How would that influence the book?” Look for those exciting sentences that might indicate a better starting place. While you’re at it, look as well for dead zones, spots you wouldn’t want an agent to judge your work on. Try to figure out what’s wrong with those places and how you might fix them. Good luck with this exercise - and in your quest for publication! - 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 Linda Bland, co-author of Don't Stop at Green LIghts and owner of Cahoots Writing Services. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

    Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired in part by the interview you heard today. Linda Bland mentioned that she needs to exercise before attacking a manuscript, either her own or one that she’s reading for a client. With this in mind, today’s prompt is this: if you’re feeling stuck or need an idea before getting started with your writing today, go for a walk. Or, if you prefer, a run or a swim. Put on snowshoes or cross country skies, if the snow is too deep for walking. Before striking out, set yourself an assignment. Tell yourself you need an idea, or you need to develop that idea you had last week. If a particular scene or snippet of dialogue is giving you trouble, suggest to yourself that during the next hour of exercise, you’d really like to work out this problem. Write down what you are hoping to accomplish, then go exercise. Don’t actively focus on the problem you’ve set yourself, just let it be there, within your awareness, as you walk or hike or bike. When you get back, write for at least half an hour and see if you’ve made progress.

    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 author, essayist and NPR contributor, Tim Brookes. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. - a new time for the new hour-long format.

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

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

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

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    Interview with writer, editor and writing school director Kathie Giorgio. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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

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    Interview with award-winning poet Richard Jackson. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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

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    Interview with Philip Graham, fiction and cnf writer and co-founder of the journal Ninth Letter. Recent work includes his "Dispatches From Lisbon," published on the McSweeney's website. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

    Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Do Lado De Cá Do Mar" - Mario Laginha

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    Interview with Diane Lefer, author, playwright and activist. Write The Book is a radio show for writers and curious readers. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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

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    Interview with Michael Collier, poet and director of the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Write The Book is a radio show for writers and curious readers. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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

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    Interview with David Jauss, author, poet, and faculty chair of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing Program. Write The Book is a radio show for writers and curious readers. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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

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    Interview with Stephanie G'Schwind, editor of Colorado Review and director of the Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University. Write The Book is a radio show for writers and curious readers. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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

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    Interview with Philip Baruth, UVM Professor, author, VPR commentator and award-winning blogger. Write The Book is a radio show for writers and curious readers. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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

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

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

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    First half of an hour-long interview with Chris Bohjalian, author of twelve novels. His latest, Skeletons at the Feast, arrives in bookstores this month. Write The Book is a radio show for writers and curious readers. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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