Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

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Interview from the archives with the poet Barbara Buckman Strasko, who has a new collection coming out soon from Word Poetry BooksThe Opposite of LightningIn this interview, we discuss an earlier collection, Graffiti in Braille (Wordtech). 

In our conversation, Barbara and I discussed the ways that both graffiti and braille are forms of expression that circumvent some impediment. In the case of graffiti, that impediment might be a lack of authorization. In the case of braille, blindness. Other examples I can think of include a message in a bottle, skywriting, closed captions on a screen. This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to create a new form of expression that circumvents some deterrent, and write about it. Or write using it!

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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New interview with Author, Poet, and former Vermont Poet Laureate Sydney Lea, whose new poetry collection is titled Here (Four Way Books). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write a villanelle. Syd Lea and I discussed his poem, “Old Lessons,” during our conversation, and he then explained what the poem’s form consists of. But here’s a recap, thanks to the Poetry Foundation (where you can also find examples): "The villanelle is a French verse form consisting of five three-line stanzas and a final quatrain, with the first and third lines of the first stanza repeating alternately in the following stanzas. These two refrain lines form the final couplet in the quatrain."

This week, write a villanelle! See what happens as you allow yourself this very specific form to contain the ideas that come.

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

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British author Diane Setterfield, whose new novel is Once Upon a River (Emily Bestler Books). 

Write the Book Prompt (I posted two interviews this week): write about what's been hidden in the toe of your neighbor's shoe.

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

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Senior Editor at the Atlantic and American Author Juliet Lapidos, whose debut novel is Talent (Little Brown). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to take a familiar theme and try to turn it sideways so a reader might see something new.

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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Author Linda Gartz, whose new book is Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago (She Writes Press). 

A number of resources Linda mentioned during our interview can be found here, on her website. 

This week I have two Write the Book Prompts to offer, both generously suggested by my guest, Linda Gartz. One is for memoir, the other for fiction. Here’s Linda’s memoir prompt: Write about an experience that has stayed in your memory, one that has meaning beyond an anecdote. Pick one: When did you feel humble, proud, ashamed, embarrassed, loved, or rejected. What made you feel that way, and what impact did that experience have on your future life, especially the way you dealt with future similar incidents or how it shaped your thinking about and behavior in life?

Here’s a prompt for Fiction writers: Imagine a character who has one of these traits… the character is: weak, kind, loving, arrogant, clueless to the impact his/her behavior has on others, or sneaky.

Write a scene in which the person demonstrates his/her character by showing actions or words, but not by labeling the behavior. (i.e. don’t say, ‘Jonathan was weak.” Create a scene that shows his weakness.)

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

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

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

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

 

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American novelist, essayist and poet Barbara Kingsolver, whose new book is Unsheltered (Harper).

Barbara Kingsolver is one of the reasons that I write. I loved Animal Dreams, her 1990 novel published by Harper Collins. After I finished that book, the voices of Kingsolver's characters would not leave me alone (in a good way). I recalled how much I love to write, and began to write a book of my own. Since that time, writing has offered solace, inspiration, satisfaction, and a sense of achievement. Reading her beautiful prose always inspires me to go to my desk. So today - sure, call it a Prompt -  I encourage you to seek out the work you love, read it again, let it wash over and inspire you. 

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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September 3 - Labor Day Hiatus

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The station is closed for Labor Day, but be sure to tune in next week for an interview with Christina Dalcher, whose new book is VOX (Berkley). 

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Interview from the archives (and my old station, The Radiator!) with writer, nurse and humanitarian aid worker Roberta Gately, author of Lipstick in Afghanistan and The Bracelet.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to turn on the television, find a drama, and write down the first sentence you hear. Use that as the first sentence in a new piece of work. Of course, if it's so unique that you'll later be accused of plagerism, go ahead and take it out after you've used it for inspiration. 

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

Music Credit: John Fink

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Vermont author Jill M. Allen, who will be reissuing her self-published story and ballad collection: The Green Mountains Deep: Fiction About Disabled Vermonters by a Disabled Vermonter, with Onion River Press (from Phoenix Books)  in the near future. 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to think about your own abilities and obstacles, and write about how they affect you as you make your way in the world. 

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

Music by Aaron Shapiro

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Award-winning author Joseph Kertes, whose new novel is The Afterlife of Stars (Little Brown). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Joseph Kertes, who has used it in his classes. He was once asked by a ten-year-old in his daughter’s class - where he led the after-school writing club - “How do you know if you’re a comic writer or a tragic writer?” He answered, "Well, I guess if you start writing and it’s funny, you’re a comic writer." Then he brought them this prompt, which resulted in both very sad and very funny writing outcomes.

My best friend in elementary school was born without a head. At recess, she ran like the wind.

So that’s our prompt for this week. Write in response to that sentence, and see if what you come up with is comic or tragic.

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

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An interview from 2012 with Writer and Gardening Expert Charlie Nardozzi, author of Northeast Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, published by Cool Springs Press. This interview was held in front of a live audience at the South Burlington Community Library.

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

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

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

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A new interview with Pulitzer-nominated author Eowyn Ivey, whose latest novel is To the Bright Edge of the World (Little Brown). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Eowyn Ivey, who finds old photographs interesting and inspiring as she writes her novels. She says looking into the eyes and faces of people from the past offers new perspective and motivation in her work. One resource is Alaska's Digital Archive. Eowyn forwarded a couple of examples of the types of pictures one could find there:
 
 

Many photos can also be resourced in the U.S. National Archives.

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 Poet David Budbill died on September 25, 2016, following a long illness. I will miss him. Thankfully, his poetry stands as a tribute to a life well lived, and helps us to appreciate our world and our good fortune. This week's interview comes from the archives; I interviewed David in 2011 about his collection, Happy Life.

Vermont also lost the poet Leland Kinsey in September. Although I never had the pleasure of interviewing Leland Kinsey, I encourage you to read this article from VT Digger, and this one from Seven Days about his life and work. 


This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write a poem of gratitude. Consider your good fortune, even if it’s just that first cup of coffee that helped you face your day, or the comfortable shoes you wear to walk to work, or the poetry of others, which makes you feel like you are part of a larger whole. Write about gratitude.

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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Author Zoe Zolbrod, author of The Telling: A Memoir (Curbside Splendor). 

This week's Write the Book Prompt, generously suggested by my guest, Zoe Zolbrod, is to write about telling a secret. Perhaps the first time you told an important secret of your own.

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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A new interview with Christine Sneed, whose new story collection is The Virginity of Famous Men (Bloomsbury USA), just out this week.


This week’s Write the Book Prompt comes from our generous guest, Christine Sneed. Choose one of the following characters and write ten interview questions for him/her:


  • Someone who works on the housekeeping staff in a Las Vegas hotel.

  • Someone who owns 30 pairs of blue jeans.

  • Someone who runs a tow truck.

  • Someone who wants a famous face.


Now answer those ten questions in the voice of the 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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Interview from the archives with Children's Writer Laurie Calkhoven, author of Michael at the Invasion of France, 1943, and other books. Since our interview, Laurie has published new books, including The Traveler's Tricks (a Caroline Mystery from American Girl Publishing).

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

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

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

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Vermont author Angela Palm, whose new book, Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here, received the 2014 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize (Graywolf Press, Aug. 2016). Palm is the editor of a book featuring work by Vermont writers, called Please Do Not Remove (Wind Ridge Books, 2014). She has taught creative writing at Champlain College, New England Young Writers' Conference, The Writers' Barn, and The Renegade Writers' Collective. She is a recipient of a Bread Loaf Fellowship in nonfiction. 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to consider the geography of your own life, and write about it, either directly, or allow a more subtle aspect of place into a piece that concerns another subject. As you work, perhaps consider these words from the late author Judith Kitchen: “Let your conversation get away from you. Let a new story take over. Something may happen along the way, something to alert you to its relevance.” (Judith Kitchen, "The Art of Digression.")

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


Music credits1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Katharine Britton, whose first two novels, Her Sister's Shadow and Little Island were published by Berkley Books. We discuss her latest novel, Vanishing Time, which Katharine brought out this year.

This week we have three Write the Book Prompts, all generously suggested by my guest, Katharine Britton, who is a writing teacher as well as an author. 

  • First, have a conversation with one of your characters. Ask him or her questions about motivation, goals, pet peeves… It’s a good way to find a voice for a character that’s different from the author’s.
  • Get two characters talking to one another “off stage.” Not a scene that occurs in the book, simply a chance for them to air their grievances, express opinions... It’s slightly different from the author chatting with a character.
  • Finally, write a scene from the perspective of an object in a location: what did it see, hear, experience, such as - in Katharine’s book, Vanishing Time, the live oak trees on the rice plantations.

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


Music credits1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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A conversation with Douglas Glover, founder, publisher and editor of the online magazine Numéro Cinq

This week’s Write the Book Prompt, generously suggested by my guest Douglas Glover, is an "aphoristic mad lib." Doug began studying aphorisms early in his writing career, once he realized what they were and how they were used by certain writers he admired. This is from the Numéro Cinq website: “Generally speaking, aphorisms are terse, pointed sayings meant to provoke thought and argument. There are several basic types, but they often set up as definitions or clever balanced antitheses or even puns.” Doug recommends approaching the aphorism as a formal experiment. Decide which type appeals to you, and then sit down and write some. Don’t write just one; write many. Don’t spend too much time. Play with them, see what happens. Don’t think about what you mean ahead of time. The exercise is meant to be an act of discovery. After you’ve written some, play with putting them into thematic passages in your work. A few examples:

  • If you have a scene where a husband and wife are fighting, insert a love aphorism. “And what is love? An erotic accident prolonged to disaster." (Douglas Glover, "Bad News of the Heart") 
  • Have a scene where you want to compare and contrast two types of people? "There are two kinds of readers; the adventurers who glory in the breathtaking audacity and risk of a well-turned aphorism and the weenies who, lacking courage themselves, find it affront in others." (Douglas Glover sent this in an email “to a recalcitrant student.”) 
  • Here’s one that I wrote for a Numéro Cinq Aphorism Contest, back in the days when Numéro Cinq had more contests. “Truth prowls in mansions of wit.” 

So to start, just play around with these types:

1) The definition aphorism: 

_____ is _____.


2) The two (or three) kinds aphorism: 

There are two kinds of ______: the _______, and the ________.


Here's an article that Douglas Glover wrote about epigrams and aphorisms, in case you’d like to read more about this.

My previous interviews with Doug can be found here and here


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


Music credits1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).


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UCLA Professor Emeritus Ralph Frerichs, author of Deadly River: Cholera and Cover-Up in Post-Earthquake Haiti (Cornell University Press). This nonfiction medical mystery explores how the greatest cholera epidemic in recent times arose in Haiti. The book follows French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux, who conducted the investigation, and presents a case-study of how humanitarian organizations and their followers react when difficult truths become uncomfortable. 


This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to study a map, and write about what you see there, what you learn, what places you suddenly want to travel to.


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


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A new interview with Abby Frucht, co-author with Vermont writer Laurie Alberts of A Well Made Bed (Red Hen Press). 


This week's Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Abby Frucht. She recommends considering an "invented collaboration." Write the first page of a story or the first set of pages of a novel. Choose a favorite author whose work you respect, who you feel you can learn from. Then pretend you've asked that author to write the next page (or equivalent number of pages) of your new project. Write their part, keeping in mind what you admire about their work, and see what results. Abby says this gives you license to choose an author from whom you feel you can learn. 


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


Music credits1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Anjali Mitter Duva, author of the novel faint promise of rain (She Writes Press).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Anjali Mitter Duva. The prompt she suggests comes from the writer, Barbara O’Neal, who was inspired to come up with it after watching one-second-every-day videos. Set a timer for one minute, and write what is happening right now, wherever you are. Begin writing with the words, “In this moment…” Include as much detail as you can. This prompt helps to get you in the habit of observing and conveying detail.

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

Music credits1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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An interview from 2012 with author Eowyn Ivey, whose novel The Snow Child (Reagan Arthur Books) was a 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Fiction. 

Eowyn Ivey set her novel, The Snow Child, in her home state of Alaska which, in 1920, was "a brutal place to homestead." The desolate solitude and Alaskan wildness of this setting are vital to the story that Ivey goes on to tell. This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about a brutal place. 

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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A new interview with Sydney Lea, who has just finished his term as Vermont's Poet Laureate. His new books are No Doubt the Nameless (Four Way Books) and What's the Story? Reflections on a Life Grown Long (Green Writers Press).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by my new interview with Sydney Lea. Write about a dream, or the memory of a dream, or the almost memory of a dream.

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

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

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Interview from the archives with Timothy D. Wilson, Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia and a researcher of self-knowledge and affective forecasting. In January 2012, we discussed his book Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change, published by Little, Brown.

For this week's Write the Book Prompt, as I did when this interview first aired, I’m going to suggest checking out the Pennebaker writing page that Timothy D. Wilson mentions in his book, Redirect. On this page, you’ll find helpful advice about writing and health that you can read and think about. 

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

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

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2011 Interview with Steve Almond. We discussed his then-new book, God Bless America. He subsequently published the popular and controversial book Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto. 

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about someone having to give up something they love.

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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Julie Barton, author of the new memoir Dog Medicine (Think Piece). 


This week’s Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Julie Barton, and is based on “Wild Writing” work she has done with San Francisco writing coach Laurie Wagner (who leads online workshops as well as well as bay area classes). Julie says that “wild writing” is a phenomenal writing practice. Here’s the basic assignment: write by hand. Read any one of the following poems (follow the links to read them), and then write for 15 minutes, allowing your read of that poem to inspire you. Write as fast as possible, and even as poorly as possible, without thinking. By letting your subconscious lead the way, you’ll be more likely to access work you might otherwise never have gotten to.These are the poems that Julie recommends:

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 New York Times Bestselling Author Mary McGarry Morris. We discussed her 2011 novel, Light from a Distant Star.


This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about candlelight or firelight. Describe it in a new way, without using words you've read before about the appearance and movement of fire. 

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 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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Interview from the archives with Vermont poet David Budbill. Subsequent to this conversation, David Budbill's Park Songs: A Poem/Play came out from Exterminating Angel Press in September 2012. A new book is expected next month. Perhaps he'll agree to come back on the show to talk about it.


Today's Write the Book Prompt is to allow an object to bring you into a setting. Imagine an object. For example, a bottle of lotion. Where is it sitting? Is it on a windowsill? Is that the kitchen windowsill? Does the person who lives in this house have the habit of rubbing lotion on her hands after she does the dishes? What is the rest of her kitchen like? And on and on. Begin with an object, focus on that to begin. Describe it. Pull back. What's next to it? And next to that? What colors are in the place? What furniture? Is there a trash can? Allow the first object to give way to others and, eventually, let yourself imagine an entire setting. 

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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Gary Lee Miller to Co-Host Write the Book Radio Show and Podcast

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 22, 2015 Burlington, VT—Shelagh Connor Shapiro is happy to announce that Gary Lee Miller will be joining Write the Book Radio Show and Podcast as a co-host. “After producing the show on my own for seven years, I look forward to Gary’s contributions. He’s an excellent writer and reader, and I know he’ll bring his own style to the show. Listeners are in for a treat as Write the Book transitions into this next phase.” Gary’s first interview, a conversation with Vermont author Sean Prentiss (Finding Abbey) airs June 8th.

 

Write the Book Radio Show airs every Monday from 2-3 p.m. on WOMM-LP in Burlington ("The Radiator"). Write The Book features interviews with authors, poets, agents and editors for an audience of writers and curious readers. The show is also podcast and can be found on iTunes. Close to 300 interviews are archived on the podcast site: https://writethebook.podbean.com  Past guests include Howard Frank Mosher, Chris Bohjalian, Ann Patchett, Howard Norman, Sydney Lea, and Kate Atkinson. Write the Book guests often have a Vermont connection.

 

WOMM-LP - The Radiator - is a noncommercial low-power FM radio station located at Burlington College in Burlington, Vermont. A nonprofit listener-supported media center, The Radiator’s programming fosters community awareness and civic engagement; the station serves the surrounding community through locally oriented programming.

For more information please contact: Shelagh at writethebook@gmail.com or Gary at garygmiller@mac.com

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Award-winning Crime and Mystery Author Megan Abbott; we discussed her novel The End of Everything.


This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write a poem or a scene in which someone is vacuuming.

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

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


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Two interviews this week, with Vermont author and editor Angela Palm, whose new collection is Please Do Not Remove, and Vermont poet Malisa Garlieb, whose new book of poetry is Handing Out Apples in Eden. Both of these collections were published this fall by Wind Ridge Books of Vermont.

Today I have two Write The Book Prompts to offer, thanks to the generous suggestions of my guests, Angela Palm and Malisa Garlieb. 

Malisa’s is to write a personal poem using a mathematical concept or equation as the primary metaphor, as she did in her poem, "Long Division."

Angi’s is this: select an image of a used library check-out card. Use any combination of the card's features as the source of inspiration for generating a new work of prose or poetry. Perhaps you'll be inspired by a particular patron's signature, a date stamp, or the book's subject matter or author. Perhaps you'll be struck by the card's appearance or the accumulation or use or non-use. Let the image transport you to another time or place, and draft some ideas or a follow a single idea for 10-15 minutes. In revision and shaping of the draft, study the card again and allow yourself to do a little research that might further develop your initial impulses into a story or essay. You may quickly find yourself pages deep in a story you never knew you'd want to write. Angi shared these images of library cards for your prompt this week. (Open individually in new tabs for a better look at each):

Good luck with these exercises and please listen next week for another!

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Vermont writer Jessica Hendry Nelson, author of the memoir If Only You People Could Follow Directions, and co-founder of the Renegade Writers' Collective.


This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was recommended by my guest, Jessica Hendry Nelson. “Write a letter of apology of which you don’t mean a word.”

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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Creator of the long-running and critically acclaimed graphic novel series Proof, and novelist, Alex Grecian. Writing about the famous London Murder Squad, Alex Grecian's latest is The Black Country, published by Putnam.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about the first sunny day after a long period of rain or sleet or snow.

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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Bestselling author Robin Cook, M.D. - perhaps best known for his breakout novel Coma - whose latest medical thriller is Nano, published by Putnam.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to write about something that is small, literally, but is large in another sense.

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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2009 interview from the archives with award-winning poet Natasha Sajé.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to draft an essay for the New York Times Modern Love column. Their submission guidelines include the following advice: "The editors of Modern Love are interested in receiving deeply personal essays about contemporary relationships, marriage, dating, parenthood...any subject that might reasonably fit under the heading Modern Love. Ideally, essays should spring from some central dilemma the writer has faced in his or her life. It helps if the situation has a contemporary edge, though this is not essential. Most important is that the writing be emotionally honest and the story be freshly and compellingly told." So draft an essay for the column. Set it aside for a week. And then decide what, if anything, you might want to do with it. Revise and perfect it and send it to the NY Times. Or take the material you put into that draft and turn it into a poem or a story or a new aspect of another work in progress. Or maybe you won't want to take it further. But the act of creating that first draft is your prompt for this week.  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 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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Award-winning Crime and Mystery Author Megan Abbott, whose latest novel is The End of Everything.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest Megan Abbot. Select a long paragraph from a favorite book-Megan mentioned doing this with a section from the Great Gatsby-break it down and look at the sentence structure. Then rewrite the paragraph, keeping only each word's part of speech. Create a paragraph that works within a project of yours, trying to adhere (at least at first) to the original flow. You can change it in revision to work within your piece. But doing this first will bring out a new cadence or rhythm.

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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Deborah Fennell, President of the League of Vermont Writers.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Deborah Fennell. The prompt COMBINES HER LOVES OF POETRY, PROSE, PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND WRITING. Go for a walk or a hike. As you're walking, say some words to yourself - whatever comes into your brain. Deb Fennell learned in a poetry workshop with Julia Shipley that we tend to walk in iambic pentameter. So this exercise tends to naturally bring out words in a memorable way. Be observant. When you get back inside, sit down and write at least 100 words, or for 10 minutes, whatever comes first. Don't worry about whether you're writing poetry or prose, just try to capture some of the words that came to you on your walk. Deb Fennell tries to always remember the first 8 words she'd been thinking about on her hike. If you can remember those, everything else begins to flow, helping you remember what you saw and thought about on your walk. Deb has done this in the city, and out in the woods on a trail. Because of the nature of our "iambic pentametric" strides, it's a productive way to access words in a creative 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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Novelist Kate Atkinson, Winner of the Whitbread Award and Creator of Bestselling Mysteries Featuring Detective Jackson Brodie. Her latest is Started Early, Took My Dog.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today with bestselling novelist Kate Atkinson. This one's simple. Find a line in a poem you like, and let it grow to become something you can write about. Not necessarily what the poet was writing about. In our interview,  Kate Atkinson said that she began this book knowing only that she wanted to use Emily Dickinson's line, "Started Early - Took My Dog," for the title. She said during our talk that if you know your title in this way, "you don't have a blank page, you have something written down. ... it gives you a focus for your thoughts." Whether you use a favorite line of poetry as a title for another work, or merely as inspiration is up to you. Give it a try, and see if the blank page looks less daunting in this 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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Donald and Lillian Stokes, authors of The Stokes Field Guide to The Birds of North America.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today with Donald and Lillian Stokes. Settle yourself in a comfortable spot where you can spot birds. Either go outside, if it's a lovely day, or sit in a window where you can see birds coming and going. Choose a bird and write as full a description of it as you possibly can. Here's an example from the Stokes' Guide. The Rock Sandpiper is a medium-sized, fairly rotund, short-legged sandpiper with a strongly tapered fine pointed bill that droops slightly at tip. After you record as much detail about the bird's shape, coloring and movements as you can, take that description and use it to fill out details about a character in your work. Mr. Piper was a rotund man of medium height whose short legs made him walk with an amusing little hop. He had a strong nose that drooped at the tip, as if pointing out that he had no chin at all.

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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With Burlington receiving its largest single March storm on record, we were unable to broadcast on Monday. Tune in next week for a live interview with Donald and Lillian Stokes, authors of the Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America. And thanks for your patience.  ~ Shelagh

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

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

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

Alfie Runs Away read with permission.

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

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