Archive for the 'Religion' Category

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

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

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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An interview with the author Phyllis Barber, whose new novel is The Desert Between Us (University of Nevada Press).

Phyllis Barber kindly suggested a Write the Book Prompt for us. Go to your writing desk first thing in the morning, when your mind is fresh and not bogged down with tasks and duties. Doing this, writing first thing, from the lip of your mind - writing fast and not editing yourself - can be so useful. Set down whatever idea comes without worrying if you’ll be able to use it. Just have fun. Let your morning brain liberate your creativity.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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

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

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Guest host Kim MacQueen interviews Karol Jackowski,

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

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

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Author Steven Wingate, whose new novel is Of Fathers and Fire (Univ. of Nebraska Press - Flyover Fiction). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Steven Wingate. He calls it “The Endless Sentence,” and it is designed as both a loosening up exercise and a means of exploration. It requires only a timer and your favorite writing implement (analog or digital). You simply set your timer for five minutes and start writing, and everything is allowed except one single punctuation mark: the period. Steven explains that writers rely on periods instinctively to separate thoughts from each other. If our thoughts feel like they’re getting too uncontrolled or scraggly, we end one sentence and start another. But if you take that tool away from yourself, you’re forced to keep flying through your thoughts with less control than you’re used to. Steven argues that this is a good thing because it means freedom—which is essential, especially early on in a project when you’re looking for a narrator’s (or character’s) voice. When you remove the period, you slip beneath your own radar and do things that surprise yourself. This can lead you to a new understanding of characters and settings, or maybe even to self-standing flash pieces with intriguing musical or formal features (e.g., lists or recurring verbal motifs). Try this especially when you’re feeling stuck or when a writing day hasn’t gone according to plan.

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

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A special feature this week, related to the archive interview I aired on Monday with Robert and Martha Manning: click here to watch a slideshow  with audio of my recent walk with friends along part of The  Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James).You’ll hear music by the Spanish group El Niño del Parking. They are from Andalucia, which isn’t the same region as where the Camino ends, which is Galicia, but I needed to find music I had the right to use.

You’ll hear some moments I shared with the friends I walked with, Carol and Fiona. And you’ll hear many sounds from the natural world, and conversations heard along the trail. I’ve also included a few brief first-hand accounts from pilgrims I met along the way. Finally, toward the end, you’ll hear what sounds like bagpipes. And you’ll be right! As we approached the cathedral at the end, we encountered a bagpipe player, although the bagpipes from the region are actually called The "Gaita Gallega" and they are slightly different from the celtic instrument. At the very end, you’ll hear some music from the service in the Cathedral itself.

So, I hope you enjoy this somewhat unusual broadcast! Enjoy the camino. Or, as the pilgrims say to one another along the route, “Buen Camino.”

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

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

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Interview from the archives with author Tracy Chevalier, about her 2013 novel, The Last Runaway (Penguin).

In The Last Runaway, Tracy Chevalier designed a hat after a cereal bowl she had loved as a child. For your new Write the Book Prompt, look around your house, find an object and create another (fictional) object based on what you've found. Maybe you'll base a chair on a painting. Or a dress on a curtain. (Ear tug to Carol Burnette!) Write about it, or include it in a story, poem, or scene.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Guest host Kim MacQueen interviews Shozan Jack Haubner,

Zen monk and author. His latest book is Single White Monk (Shambalah).

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      Kim MacQueen

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by Kim’s and my guest, Shozan Jack Haubner. Sit in a quiet, comfortable way for ten to fifteen minutes. Put your attention on your soft, flowing breath. Do nothing but breathe. It's easy as long as you don't think too much. Breathing is a pleasurable sensation; peace and focus, manifest in the body and mind. If you can't loosen and open up you can't write jack squat. Words surface of their own accord from a deep and bottomless well. And don't glance at your clock! Set a timer. When the timer goes off, take your pen and your writing notebook (or, if you must, your laptop), and write what's coming up from the silence. Don't think about it, just like you didn't think about your breathing. Like breath, the words will come whether you think about them or not. Write until your hand aches without reading a word of it until you've taken a break, gotten your coffee, checked your email (if you must), and are ready to listen to yourself on the page as uncritically as a mother listens to her child learning to speak.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Vermont Author Nancy Hayes Kilgore, whose new novel is Wild Mountain (Green Writers Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest Nancy Hayes Kilgore, who is a pastoral counselor and has been a parish pastor as well. She suggests considering, “What was your first spiritual experience? Where were you? What could you see and feel? What were your senses telling you at that time? What spiritual awakening might have come out of the moment?” Consider these questions, and use them as inspiration as you begin to write.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Interview from the archives with Evan Fallenberg, writer, translator and director of fiction for the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv. Author of the novels Light Fell and When We Danced on Water


This week's Write the Book prompt is to observe people in a public place - a restaurant, an airport, a library, a coffee shop - and make a list of people's gestures that you can later use in your work. Authentic, original gestures will enliven your work, so that your characters don't spend every scene fiddling with that same pair of reading glasses. 

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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Award-winning author Jacob Paul, whose new novel, A Song of Ilan, was published this spring by Jaded Ibis Press. 

Patrick Nolan, Vice President, Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Penguin Books, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary.

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my first guest, Jacob Paul, who in 2014 collaborated with friends Sarah Martin and Adam Moser to create a project titled Home for an Hour. Moser invited seven couples to each spend an hour by themselves in his apartment in Greensboro, North Carolina. The couples were encouraged to do whatever they wanted, with no one watching. Meanwhile, outside on the snowy lawn, Jacob Paul sat with his laptop, composing a fictional narrative about each of them. In one of his resulting stories, a participant meditates on the meaning of the word common; another story presents an imagined conversation between two people as  they sit in the apartment, drinking a box of wine. None of the stories was revised before being collected into the Home for an Hour book. So the prompt for this week, generously offered by Jacob Paul, is to have a friend or friends go do something that you can’t watch and, in real time, while they’re doing it, write a fictional documentary account of what they might be doing.

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 Nancy Marie BrownVermont author of the bookSong of the Vikings, The Abacus and the Cross, The Far Traveler, Mendel in the Kitchen, and A Good Horse Has No Color.

Today's Write the Book Prompt, in honor of Thanksgiving, is to consider an early cooking experience (either one of your own, or a friend's or relative's) and write about that. My own might be the first time I cooked for the woman who would eventually be my mother-in-law. We were on a vacation in a remote but lovely place with terrible grocery store options, and when I opened the box of pasta (once I was all ready to boil it), it was full of bugs. But that's just me.
Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.
Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students, now alums). 


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2010 interview with Unitarian minister and author Gary Kowalski. We spoke about his book Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers. In 2013, I interviewed the reverend Kowalski a second time, about his book, Goodbye Friend.


Today's Write the Book Prompt is to consider the following quote, and then free write: 

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn." 

Anne Frank

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Rachel Urquhart, author of The Visionist, published earlier this year by Little Brown.


This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my conversation with Rachel Urquhart. Study your paragraphs for redundant or superfluous closing sentences. Rachel Urquhart did this in her final edit of The Visionist, and realized that these unnecessary wrap-up sentences closed many of her paragraphs. When Rachel mentioned it, her mother-in-law, who’s a historian and a writer, realized that she also did this in her work. Have a look at your own prose. Maybe you’ll find that you do it, too.

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

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

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Interview from the archives with the author Colum McCann. We discussed his National Book Award winning novel, Let the Great World Spin. His novel TransAtlantic, published in 2013 by Random House, has just come out in paperback.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to write about someone's first flight. 
Good luck with this prompt and please listen next week for another. 

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


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An interview with author and librarian Josh Hanagarne, who has Tourette's Syndrome, and whose memoir The World's Strongest Librarian was published in May by Gotham.

Also, the first of a new series of WTB Book Chats with the owner of Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Claire Benedict. (The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud; And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini; Flora, by Gail Godwin; The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, by Kristopher Jansma; and The Orphan Master's Son (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) by Adam Johnson.)

Today’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the work of today’s first guest, Josh Hanagarne. The inside jacket of his book, The World's Strongest Librarian, refers to Josh as an unlikely hero. This week, write about an unlikely hero.

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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The Reverend Gary Kowalski, author of bestselling books on animals, nature, history and spirituality. We discuss two of his latest: Goodbye Friend: Healing Wisdom For Anyone Who Has Ever Lost A Pet and Blessings of the Animals.

During the interview, Gary recited the poem, The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry. Unfortunately, due to licensing concerns, I can't air Gary's recitation. But you can find the poem here.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by advice that Gary Kowalski offers in his book, Goodbye Friend: Healing Wisdom For Anyone Who Has Ever Lost A Pet. This is a quote from the book:

I usually counsel those who are grieving to employ the power of words by writing a eulogy for the one they love. The term itself means "good words," for a eulogy attempts to sum up the qualities that made another person memorable and worthy of our care. In the case of an animal, a eulogy could take the form of a letter, a poem, or a memoir that reflects on the traits that made that creature most endearing or stamped it with a special personality.

This week's prompt, then, is to write a eulogy. It can be in remembrance of a pet, or of a person. It can even be a fictional or poetic eulogy for a character you're writing about, an historical figure, someone you never met. After you've written it, follow Gary's advice and read it aloud. Particularly if you've written a eulogy for a person or creature you're truly grieving, reading the words aloud may help you more than you'd imagine.

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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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 Vermont Psychologist Arnold Kozak, author of Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness (2009, Wisdom Publications) and The Everything Buddhism Book (2011, Adams Media).

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 from the archives with Phyllis Barber, award-winning author of seven books of fiction and creative nonfiction. We spoke in 2009 about her then-upcoming memoir, Raw Edges, published in 2010 by University of Nevada Press.

This rerun aired a couple days before the now-infamous first debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In 1960, JFK came out on top going up against Nixon, possibly just because Kennedy looked so much better on television. In 1980, Ronald Reagan won points with his tagline "There you go again," which successfully batted down Jimmy Carter's arguments without even having to come up with substantive responses. In 1988, Lloyd Bentson had perhaps the most famous zinger in this exchange with fellow vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle. Then-senator Quayle said "I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of vice president of this country. I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency. I will be prepared to deal with the people in the Bush administration, if that unfortunate event would ever occur." And Lloyd Bentson retorted, "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." That may be the best-remembered moment of the Dukakis/Bentson ticket, despite the fact that George Bush and Dan Quayle won the election.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to imagine and write two exchanges between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. First, write something you'd love to see happen. Probably you have some idea about which person you'd like to see in the White House come January. Write your dream debate moment. And then, write a dream moment for the candidate you do not support. Make each of these scenes realistic, given the candidates' positions. Invent questions that will bring out the candidates' strengths, wit, and resonance with American voters. Who knows? Maybe you'll even change your own mind...

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

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Acclaimed nonfiction writer Jean Zimmerman, whose debut novel, The Orphanmaster, was published in June by Viking.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Jean Zimmerman, who used to write only nonfiction, but has begun writing novels as well. Her work relies heavily on historical research. Jean suggests (because she loves history so much, and thinks that everyone would if they knew more about it) that writers read something historical, something about the history of some time that they're interested in - whether it's the French revolution, or colonial times ... whatever. And then sit down and write about a house from that time. Write about the exterior of the house or about the interior - one of the rooms, maybe. Don't even try to put people into it, if you don't want to. Just try to describe that house in intimate detail and see what comes out.

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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University of Vermont Professor Paul Kindstedt, author of Cheese & Culture: A History of Cheese and its Place in Western Civilization, published by Chelsea Green.

Today’s Write The Book Prompt is to write about a dining experience involving cheese. Use the words salt, linen, grated, and shadow.

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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Award-winning writer Margot Livesey, author of the new novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, published by Harper.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about a character who, for some reason, assumes another identity. The character can be acting on a dare, trying to escape something or someone, or just testing him- or herself to see if s(he)can get away with it. What name will the character choose? What job will she pretend to have? Where will she say she's from? What history will he choose to give himself? How will assuming another identity affect your character's self-esteem? Will she feel excited? Guilty? Will he have to solicit help from others to make this work? Play around with a fictional life for your fictional character.

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

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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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Evan Fallenberg, writer, translator and director of fiction for the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv. Author of the novels Light Fell and When We Danced on Water.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Evan Fallenberg, who says this is a good exercise for writing minor characters. When we create character, we traditionally access four methods of (direct) presentation: action, appearance, speech and thought. Take a character you know very well: yourself. Come up with one idea each, or four ideas total, that might best describe you, considering those four methods of presentation. Each one idea has to be the most perfect representation of you as a minor character, helping a reader understand the essence of who you are. How can I describe my appearance with one single idea? What action is a truly representative action of how I might behave? With speech, consider those verbal tics that we all have, and pick a perfect example. For thought, write down that thing you would think but would never dare to say. Then take the exercise a step further. Take these four ideas, and craft them into a single paragraph, introducing a character who may only be in your story for a single paragraph.

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

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Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Geraldine Brooks, whose latest novel is Caleb's Crossing.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Geraldine Brooks. She keeps two poetry collections handy in her writing space, and opens them when she needs inspiration. The first is Palgrave's Golden Treasury, the second, the Norton Anthology of Poetry. Open to a random page, read a poem, and then write.

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

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Novelist Jack Scully, Author of Eyewitness: Part I of a 2-Part Interview With New Vermont Writers.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by National Libraries Week. The state slogan for this year's celebration is: "Vermont Libraries can take you anywhere." This week, find inspiration at a local library. Go sit in the reading room, people watch, chat with the librarian. Browse the shelves. Browse any fliers, posters or announcements in the lobby. Find out what online services your local library provides, and then browse those sites. Keep your mind open and your pen ready. Then write.

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

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Nancy Marie Brown, author of the new nonfiction book The Abacus and The Cross, which Kirkus Reviews has called "an engrossing account of the Dark Ages and one of its Popes, both far less dark than popular histories teach" and "a lively, eye-opening portrait of a sophisticated Europe whose intellectual leaders showed genuine interest in learning."

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today with Nancy Marie Brown, whose book, The Abacus and The Cross, challenges common notions about life and understanding in the Dark Ages. In your work this week, try to include one thing that challenges a myth or popular conception. It can be historic, cultural, medical ...

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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Writer of fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry Richard McCann, author of Mother of Sorrows.

This week's Write the Book Prompt comes to us from the writer Dorothy Allison, by way of my guest, Richard McCann. In teaching writing at American University, he will occasionally offer this prompt to his students. First, he has them read Dorothy Allison's essay, SURVIVAL IS THE LEAST OF MY DESIRES, which is included in her collection, SKIN. In the essay, she suggests that writers make use of the whole of their lives: honor your dead, your wounded and your lost, and acknowledge your crimes and your shames-what you did and did not do in this world. Richards suggests making a list: who are your dead, your wounded and your lost (literal and metaphorical), and what are the crimes and shames of what you did and did not do. He says those lists become good places from which to start writing.

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

Excerpt of Mother of Sorrows read with permission from Vintage, a division of Random House.

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Jacob Paul, author of the new novel, Sarah/Sara, published by IG Publishing.

This week's Write The Book prompt was inspired by the work of my guest, Jacob Paul. Write a scene or a poem in which a small conflict is resolved through action, even adventure. So, for example, a character who is a little hungry but has no money tries to steal a candy bar from a convenience store. A character who was once pick-pocketed witnesses a purse snatching and plays some role in interrupting the crime. A character who longs for warm weather goes skiing. This doesn't need to be an enormous inner conflict or Job-like act of valor. But use action to impact conflict in some small way.

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

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

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Interview with playwright Dana Yeaton, whose new play, My Ohio, opens at FlynnSpace with the Vermont Stage Company on 4/21.

This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Dana Yeaton, who uses prompts and exercises when he teaches. He recommended a joint prompt, requiring two people. Each person will need a piece of paper and something to write with. You'll be writing two dialogues between what we'll call character A and character B. The partners are told (or together create) the first line for character "A." It might be, for example, "I wouldn't do that if I were you." Each person writes that line and then writes character B's response to that line. You then switch papers, and write character A's response to the most recent response written by your partner. Switch papers again, respond, and keep going. As the exercise unfolds, you'll create two dialogues, all from that initial line. Dana says that what's really fun in this activity is that each person has to respond.

There should be no talking. No planning, no plotting. Each time you switch pages, you'll find yourself once more in a new situation. What would be an interesting next step? What would drive this story? Watch out for impulses that take away from or sabotage the story. You don't want the first response to the line, "I wouldn't do that if I were you," to be, "What?" And if someone writes, "Here, then, you take the gun," the response shouldn't be, "That's not a gun, that's a pickle."

Within 6-7 minutes, you'll have co-written two dialogues. As Dana explains, this exercise is pretty open-ended, it's quick, and it produces two outcomes.

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 author Howard Frank Mosher.

Prompt: This week’s Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today. Howard Frank Mosher mentioned during our talk that he had twice, in the course of writing his new book, Walking To Gatlinburg, asked his wife Phyllis to cast and read Nordic runes as a helpful form of inspiration. He did this partly because Phyllis was studying runes at the time, and partly because runes were the inspiration for the Kingdom Mountain pictographs that play a role in his new book. This week's Write The Book Prompt, then, is to cast runes. For help in understanding how to do this, try these websites (or Google "Nordic Runes," and see if you find other references):

http://www.ehow.com/how_5830139_make-own-rune-set.html

http://www.runemaker.com/casting.shtml

Set yourself a question or problem that you'd like to resolve in your work, and let the runes offer suggestions. These could inspire a course of action for your character, for yourself, for the plot, or for the structure of the project. Keep your mind open and see what presents itself.

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 Kathryn Davis.

Prompt: This week’s Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today with novelist Kathryn Davis. To avoid getting stuck and maintain her interest in an ongoing project, Kathryn said she does two main things. First, she does not read over what she’s written at the end of a given writing session; she waits and reads that work when she next sits down to write. Second, as she finishes each writing session, she winds down by allowing herself to free write for a page or so. This encourages thoughts and ideas that might have been deterred by her more focused or controlled thought process as she was working. She mentioned that useful ideas often come out of this end-of-day free writing. The next time you write, try these two strategies. First, do not allow yourself to read over your work when you finish writing at the end of a given day. Wait until your next writing session. And second, spend five or ten minutes free writing after a regular, disciplined writing session, and see what fresh, useful and relevant ideas might result.

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 Gary Kowalski,  senior minister to the First Unitarian Universalist Society in Burlington and the author of several bestselling books, including Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by President's Day. As you look for writing ideas this week, consider one of the following quotes. Listen to these famous words by some of America's founding fathers, and then free write.

He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing. ~ Benjamin Franklin

If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. ~ Thomas Paine

Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. ~ George Washington

Philosophy is common sense with big words. ~ James Madison

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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