Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Interview with Vermont Mathematician, Professor and Author Joseph Mazur.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Joseph Mazur. I'm including it in his words, as sent to me in an email:

You know that nonfiction writing requires the writer to bring readers to places they haven't ever been and to tell them things they have not known. In one single sentence, that is the task of the nonfiction writer. But to keep readers reading, a book must be alive with human experience. That's the job of anecdotal entrances and anecdotal relief.

Anecdotes are there to first amuse, and therefore hook the reader, and then to give clues to what the book is about.

If you are writing nonfiction, try weaving in as much anecdotal material as possible. Take a look at some of Stephen Jay Gould's books for fine examples. Gould was the king of anecdotal entrances.

There are a few principles to favor when using a leading anecdote-Bring in something that the reader can identify with, a character, a place, an object, or a brief amusement. Watch out for making it too specific-specificity has an uncanny way of creeping into the lead to defeat the hook.

I introduce each of my own books with lead anecdotes-

I came to understand mathematics by way of a Russian novel. (The first sentence in a book about truth and logic in mathematics.)

My father was the first person to tell me about paradoxes of time. (The first sentence in a book about time and motion.)

When I was a child, my uncles would gather every Saturday at my grandparents' house to sit at a long dining room table telling jokes while accounting their week' s gambling wins and losses. (The first sentence in a book about the history and psychology of gambling.)

My own high school days were the near misfortune of my teenage years. (The first sentence in a book about learning math in an inner-city high school.)

What about anecdotal relief? In most cases, relief suggests a reprieve from something burdensome. And burdensome reading is never a welcome task. However, unless it is memoir or biography, nonfiction often involves the burden of strings of complicated information that tends to swell into what sometimes seems to be disconnected from thoughts of the real world. Even the best nonfiction writers need to think about anecdotal relief just as the most indefatigable readers need respite.

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

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Jon Turner, Vermont Veteran, Poet, Paper Maker and Warrior Writers Member.

This week, instead of a Write the Book Prompt, I'm going to refer you to the Warrior Writers' blogspot. There, alongside regular blog entries, you'll find weekly writing prompts, poetry forms, and occasional shared work.

Please listen next week when the Prompt will return.

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 Jay Parini, Biographer, Poet, Novelist and Essayist. Author of The Passages of H.M.

I'll leave this week's Write The Book Prompt in Jay Parini's exact words, just as you'll hear it when you listen to the interview:

If you're writing a poem, for example, it's important to have one deep image at the center of your poem. So, think of an image and really try to reinforce that image with concrete details. It works for prose as well, to begin with an image. See something. I always tell my students, in writing prose, if you're stuck, go through the senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, touch-the five senses. And try to make a gesture in the direction of each one of those senses.

Just describe a landscape. So I'm looking out the window. I say the autumn light slants across the field. I can smell the dry leaves with their mustiness. I can hear the leaves rattling. There's a cool breeze playing across my skin, which I can feel. I taste the slight acidity in the air.

And - boom - you've got a fall scene. So write for the senses and create images. Remember that an image is not just a picture but as Ezra Pound said, it's a kind of psychological and emotional complex, moving in time.

~ Jay Parini

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

Excerpt of The Passages of H.M. read with permission from Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.

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 Richard Russo, Novelist, Pulitzer Prize Winner and Author of That Old Cape Magic.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the subject matter of Richard Russo's novel, That Old Cape Magic. Write about a childhood vacation. This can be a recollected vacation from when you were a child, or an imagined vacation seen through the eyes of a fictional child. As you write, focus on details of place.

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

Excerpt of That Old Cape Magic read with permission from Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

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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Sorche Fairbank, Literary Agent and Founder of Fairbank Literary in Hudson, NY.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is directed toward aspiring novelists. Your job this week is to write a synopsis of your book. Many literary agents will ask to see a synopsis with an initial query, or as a follow-up to a query that caught their attention. Here are a few things to consider as you approach the task.

* A synopsis is not a chapter outline. It's not necessarily even a chronological retelling of the book. Rather, a synopsis presents the book's plot and introduces the main characters in an appealing way that will interest an agent in reading the whole novel. It's a chance to show off your creativity, as well as your ability to condense and organize material.

* You may find that the agents you are querying have their own guidelines for appropriate synopsis length. But if they don't specify otherwise, try to make your book synopsis two-to-three double-spaced pages.

* Use the jacket covers of books you're familiar with as guidelines for how to approach writing a good synopsis. Jacket copy is written to sell books, and that's what you're trying to do as well. Here's an example. This is the jacket copy of a paperback reprinting of George Orwell's 1984: "The world of 1984 is one in which eternal warfare is the price of bleak prosperity, in which the Party keeps itself in power by complete control over man's actions and his thoughts. As the lovers Winston Smith and Julia learn when they try to evade the Thought Police, and then join the underground opposition, the Party can smash the last impulse of love, the last flicker of individuality."

* UNLIKE book jackets, your synopsis should fully describe the plot of your novel, including what happens at the end. To skip over the ending in hopes that the agent will want the full experience of reading your masterpiece is to take yourself out of the running. This is a sales pitch, and the agent will want to know how your book ends if she requests a synopsis as part of the query process.

    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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    Mark Pendergrast, Local Nonfiction Author of Inside the Outbreaks: The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service.

    This week's Write The Book Prompt has to do with detail. Gustave Flaubert was so concerned with getting every detail right that he often spent days struggling to arrive at exactly the right word. In her book, Mystery and Manners, Flannery O'Connor wrote, "Fiction operates through the senses, and I think one reason that people find it so difficult to write stories is that they forget how much time and patience is required to convince through the senses. No reader who doesn't actually experience, who isn't made to feel, the story is going to believe anything the fiction writer merely tells him. The first and most obvious characteristic of fiction is that it deals with reality through what can be seen, heard, smelt, tasted, and touched."          This week, stop struggling to come up with details in your work, and just look around. Go to any corner of your house or garage or barn or place of work, and take in the details that are there. Touch that square of decorative carpet, and put into words what it feels like. Smell that candle, and write down what-if any-scent it has, and what you associate with that smell. Remember when you got that camera for your birthday, and how you were disappointed, because you'd wanted another brand? Look at that photograph of your cousin. What is he wearing? Why does he dress that way? Is his collar poking out from his jacket on one side? Is his shirt wrinkled and un-tucked? Or is he meticulous, beyond physical criticism? And if so, what does that say about him? How does that characterization fit with your experiences of being around him? This week's prompt is about re-educating yourself in the art of noticing details, so that you might more easily access them as you work.

    A COPY OF THIS PROMPT WILL BE INCLUDED in the description to this week's Podcast. Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

    Excerpt from Mark Pendergrast's Inside The Outbreaks 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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    A Discussion Of Writers' Block with Angelique and Morella Devost, Hypnotherapists and Practitioners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

    This week we have two Write The Book Prompts, suggested by my guests. Morella and Angelique Devost. The first is the prompt you heard Angelique mention in the interview, to write about a "Fraught Drive in a Car." And the second is to consider the idea that Morella mentioned, What would you do if you could not fail? And then write with that sense of possibility.

    Good luck with these exercises and please listen next week for another. And check out these articles, if you're interested in resources about the work that Morella and Angelique Devost do.

    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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    Burlington writer and teacher, Susan Weiss. Her blog is Publish or Perish... Which Will Come First?

    This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Susan Weiss. Begin writing a narrative either from experience or imagination-just a sentence or two and then veer off onto a tangent. Continue for another couple of sentences and again go off on a tangent. Do this a few more times and then try to bring the narrative back to the beginning somehow, to make it feel like a full circle. So, are you left with dizziness or a sense of closure?

    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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    Howard Norman, award-winning novelist of The Northern Lights, The Bird Artist, The Museum Guard, The Haunting of L, and Devotion. His latest is What Is Left The Daughter.

    This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by Howard Norman's work. At one point during our talk, he mentioned that the bifurcation of place in his novels creates multiple emotional counterpoints that appeal to him. As his characters move between two or more places, he as the author needs to reestablish their lives, or shift everything, and this can be interesting. He also said, "One doesn't sit around thinking about these things, except in ways that might be instructive." And so, to the extent that it might be instructive or interesting, your prompt this week is to consider introducing a second setting into your work. If you already have a storyline that takes place between two settings, study the work you've done and consider the ways in which you've created multiple counterpoints for your characters and their story. If your narrative takes place in a single setting, consider what might change for the work if you were to introduce a second place. It might not make sense, but think about it. See if this could create an interesting shift in your story, novel or prose 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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    Jennifer Karin Sidford, columnist, blogger and award-winning creator of The Dreamstarter Books 1 & 2.

    This week’s Write The Book Prompt can be found in Jennifer Karin Sidford's first Dreamstarter Book. I found it appropriate because of its title: "The Radio Station."

    Jada found an old radio in the loft of a hay barn that had been deserted for many years. The hay that remained had turned to dust, leaving the floors, pitchforks, buckets and other tools covered in a heavy yellow coating. She picked up the radio and heard a rattle. She gave the radio a shake and heard the distinct sound of broken glass. "It's busted," she said aloud. "That's too bad." She tossed the radio onto a pile of old grain sacks. The radio began to hum; the dial lit up. Jada walked over to the radio and picked it up. A voice came through the radio's speaker. "Hello? Is anyone there? Can anyone hear me?" the girl's voice said. She had an accent that was very different than Jada's. Jada lowered her mouth to the radio speaker and shouted, "I can hear you! Who are you?" The girl answered...

    This one should be a lot of fun to play with. If Jada's story inspires you to write something that you like, remember that you can't publish the first part, as Jennifer already did!

    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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    Connie May Fowler, award-winning novelist, memoirist, and screenwriter.

    This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Connie May Fowler, whose latest novel, How Clarissa Burden Learned To Fly, involves the ghosts of women who reside in a graveyard. Connie May recommends walking through a cemetery in your own area and finding a tombstone, and then writing a story or poem inspired by that tombstone and the person whose grave it marks.

    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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    Anne Trooper-Holbrooke, Coleen Kearon, Benjamin Malcolm, and Susan Ritz: four writers working to develop their craft.

    This week’s Write The Book prompt was inspired by a comment made by one of my guests. Coleen Kearon mentioned her efforts to introduce more plot, more active scenes into her prose, and to pay attention to the amount of introspection she includes. She described this effort as a move toward plot and away from too much exposition. You may have the same problem. Or perhaps, yours is the opposite problem. If you're a poet, this might not seem like a useful exercise, but the bottom line is balance. Read over your work with an eye to what you use too much of, and how you might rectify that by introducing balance. First, identify the qualities you want to balance. Action and introspection, for example. Or dialogue and exposition. Character interaction and scene setting. Take markers and highlight the parts of your work that fit one versus the other quality that you're trying to balance. Don't judge yourself as you go, but just objectively highlight the differences. And then study your work with this new colorful enhancement and work to right the disproportion.

    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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    Ginnah Howard, author of Night Navigation, joins Shelagh Shapiro on Write The Book.

    This week's Write The Book prompt was inspired by the work of my guest, Ginnah Howard, who mentioned a few times during our talk how important rhythm is to her in her own work and in the books she admires. In order to get a better sense of the rhythm of her prose, she often reads her work out loud. Your prompt this week, then, is to read aloud. Really listen to what you've written. You may find it differs from what you thought it would sound like. Listen for simple mistakes, for repeated words that you didn't intend to place so close together. As you read, pause in appropriate places for the punctuation you've used. Pay attention to the length of your sentences. Does their length reflect the intended mood of the fictional moment? Listen for the following elements, and decide if they are serving your work, or distracting from it: rhyme, fragments, alliteration, and repetitive sentence structure. In this last case, watch in particular for the repeated use of a subject, verb, object structure that may lull readers or distract them, making them lose their way. For example, which sounds better?

    Mary had a little lamb. Mary's lamb had white fleece. Mary's lamb followed her everywhere. Mary's lamb really got on her nerves after a while. He wanted to follow her to school. She had to stop him.

    Or

    Mary had a lamb. Fleecy and white, it was a sweet little animal, and very devoted. While Mary loved how the lamb followed her from room to room, she had to keep him from actually coming to school with her.

    Finally, you might find it helpful to have someone else read your work aloud to you. If this is too embarrassing, you might look to see if your word processing program has a "speak text" feature. Speak text allows you to highlight sections of work and have the computer read them back. Despite the somewhat robotic voices that some computers have, you might hear something you'd missed, just by virtue of being read to.

    In fact, using sound editing software, you can actually record your entire book and put it on your mp3 player, which is pretty cool.  You can email me (writethebook@gmail.com) if you want to know how to do this.

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

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    Interview with Willow Bascom, author and illustrator of the new book, Paisley Pig: A Multicultural ABC, published by Publishing Works.

    This week’s Write The Book prompt, was suggested by my guest, Willow Bascom, who noted during our talk that many writers and artists have trouble identifying themselves as such. She suggests counteracting this by offering artistic services for free, for example to a local food co-op or other non-profit. Write an ad, or make a stunning poster or sign that the non-profit wouldn't budget for normally. Volunteer your expertise. When you see the pleasure that other people take in what you do, you can value yourself and, in turn, your work. Give it away, and next time you're asked what you do, call yourself an artist. Say it with confidence.

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

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    Interview with Matthew Aaron Goodman, author of the novel Hold Love Strong, published by Touchstone Fireside (Simon and Schuster April 2009).

    This week's Write The Book prompt, a musical free write, was suggested by my guest, Matthew Aaron Goodman. Spend a little time picking a song or songs to which you think you could write. Put on the piece, and then write. Don't pick up your pen once it hits the page. Write whatever crosses your mind. Even if all you write is, "this is crazy I don't have any ideas," write that down. No scribbling or doodling. Put words on paper. Keep going for the length of the song or songs that you chose ahead of time.

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

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    Interview with Gary Clark, Writing Program Director at the Vermont Studio Center.

    This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the Vermont Studio Center and writing retreats in general. Even if you can't get to a retreat at present, perhaps you can offer yourself a mini-retreat. Begin by looking at your writing space. Really study it. Is it a place you look forward to going to, sitting down and working in? If not, what might you be able to do to create a more comfortable, enjoyable atmosphere? Maybe you need to put in a bookshelf full of the kinds of books you might like to reach for when you need inspiration. Maybe you should consider new décor, a poster, a small colorful rug, a comfortable chair where you can sit and read over what you've written on a given day. Or maybe you need to do the opposite: simplify. Is the space too full of knick knacks, books, papers, pens? Do you need to clean it out, reduce the clutter? Figure out what you need to make yourself look forward to being in your writing space. Then, on a certain day, plan ahead. Make yourself lunch, put it in a picnic basket, and leave it outside your office door. Turn off your phones, ask your family to leave you in peace for one day. Create your own personal retreat. And then go to your space, sit down, and write.

    Good luck with your feng shui and please listen next week for another exercise.

    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 novelist Alice Lichtenstein, author of Lost, published by Scribner.

    Write The Book Prompt: One of Alice Lichtenstein's initial inspirations for her new novel, Lost, emerged from a writing exercise. You heard in our interview that she was moved to write about Corey's experience after a friend suggested they write in response to the words: "Day of Fire." This week, consider a "Day Of" exercise. Not Day of Fire, necessarily, though if that brings something to the forefront for you, go with it. But consider the theme of medicine and health and come up with a "Day Of" idea. You might use "Day of Flu," "Day of Doctors," "Day of Needles," "Day of Blood." The specific label is up to you. Use medicine and health as the overarching inspiration, and come up with a "Day Of" idea that might inspire you to write.

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

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

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    Interview with Wouter Nunnink, self-published author of the YA series Ba El Shebub's Gift Awakens

    Write The Book Prompt: In his book, A Mad Man's Poison, Walt Nunnink has created a world that mixes reality and fantasy. One of the aspects of this world is a magical book that only the two main characters can see. In your work this week, play around with this idea of something that can be seen or otherwise perceived by one character or set of characters, but not by others. You could work, as Walt does, with a magical world in which a certain item is selectively visible, or audible. Maybe one of your characters always catches the scent of lilacs on the air when night is coming on.

    Even if you don't write in the fantasy genre, consider this exercise as a way to learn about how your characters' perceptive capacities differ. Maybe your main character senses tension between two co-workers, while his boss is completely oblivious. Or perhaps a wife can tell that her husband is attracted to another woman, but the woman doesn't notice in the least.

    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 local author Tim Brookes about his new book, Thirty Percent Chance of Enlightenment.

    Prompt: This week, instead of a Write The Book Prompt, I offer what I'm calling an "anti-prompt." When I asked my guest, Tim Brookes, if he had a prompt to suggest, he answered with a very firm "no." Tim does not use prompts, and as a teacher, he does not assign them. When I asked him if I might offer his opinion this week, instead of a prompt, he wrote me the following email. Perhaps you'll find it useful.

    I guess I'm anti-prompt for the same three reasons why I'm against that rhetoric/debate exercise where the teacher says, "Which side are you on when it comes to this issue? Okay, in that case, argue the opposite side."

    One, I want my writers to discover what they have to say by paying attention to their own inner landscape, their own issues, passions, dark corners.

    Two, that's not the way it works in real life.

    Three, it takes a writer absolutely at the top of his/her game to be able to pull that off well.

    One: it takes a great deal of time and practice for a young writer even to be aware of what s/he has to say, let alone to have the confidence and the means to say it powerfully. To me that's a crucial, crucial goal. Writing to a prompt produces reactive writing--writing to please someone else, writing to respond to someone else--which actually takes the writer's focus away from what is most important to him/her. For the prompt to strike home and hit a subject of genuine urgency and importance to the writer is like throwing a dart across the street and trying to hit the bulls eye of a dartboard on the other side of the traffic. Giving prompts is a way to get writing from the student, but not a way of helping the student become a writer. It's a recipe for bullshit.

    Two:  In all the twenty years I was writing for NPR--the form that's closest to the kind of short personal essay/poem product that writing prompts are usually intended to provoke-I was only ever asked to respond to a specific subject twice. My best feature-story editor used to say to me, "What do you want to spend three months learning about?" It's true that a good many journalists are given assignments they have to go and cover, but they themselves would rarely claim that daily grind produced their best writing. The fact is, we writers write best about the things that matter to us. Sometimes we can bring that passion to a subject that was assigned to us, but more often that's not the case. If you want student writers to write like professional writers, have them talk to poets/novelists/essayists and ask them, "How do you reach your best writing?" and see what they say. And here's the real problem: none of those writers will say, "I sit down in a regularly scheduled English class at 10:10 every Tuesday and Friday and whatever's going on inside me or around me I always find something to say." Bollocks.

    Three: It is possible to write well from a prompt--and in a sense editorial writers do it all the time--but there's a reason why a newspaper's editorials are written by the most seasoned, experienced, widely-read writers on the staff. You need to have an astonishingly wide range of reference in order to have a chance of understanding the subject, let alone saying anything worthwhile; you need a deep sense of form and structure to be able to create a finished piece of given proportions in a limited time; and you need to be capable of interesting turns of phrase under pressure. Student writers try desperately to ape that kind of skill, but they also know that 85% of what they write is bullshit. I know: I've asked them. So I'd far rather have them attempt something that genuinely means something to them. Even the act of trying to access that genuine subject is worth more than facility at writing a poem on Spring at the drop of a hat.

    So what do I use instead of prompts?

    I usually just say, "Think back to an incident or a conversation (conversation is better, as it's much more specific) that you've had, or you've witnessed, from the past twelve months, one that you recall with some kind of strong emotion. Now write about that in as much detail as you can remember."

    So that's Tim's take on prompts. I offer his words as encouragement to anyone who doesn't tend to find them helpful or generative. For those of you who do like them, the prompt will be back next week. I may rename it, though... hmm.

    Good luck with your writing this week!

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    Interview with Poet and Short Fiction Writer David Jauss.

    Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by work of my guest, David Jauss. As we discussed in the interview, David published an essay titled, "Remembrance of Things Present: Present Tense in Contemporary Fiction," in the March/April 2002 issue of the AWP Chronicle. Here is a quote from that article:

    Whatever the causes for the prevalence of the present tense in our fiction, it is important that we understand its advantages and disadvantages, so we can better decide when to use it. Our principal concern as writers ought to be to choose those techniques which best serve the particular story we're writing...

    As an exercise this week, experiment with tense. If you have a story or a narrative poem that doesn't seem to be working, see what happens if you change the tense. Consider the level of immediacy that you want to bring to the piece. Think, too, about how tense affects narrative introspection, and how it might heighten or detract from the overall theme, or sense of what you're trying to accomplish. As you study the piece, written in different tenses, you may find you have an instinctive reaction about which is the best way to go.

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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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    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 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 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 Novelist and Middlebury College Professor Robert Cohen

      Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today with Robert Cohen. First, let me remind you of a sentence of prose from his latest book, Amateur Barbarians: "The room, the very world, seemed a vast expectant place, like a house in the aftermath of a party." During our conversation, Robert said, "Metaphor is a kind of muscle; the more you exercise it, the more it starts to flex on its own."  He also suggested that, in writing metaphor, it's important to find "the right cast of mind for a particular character." For example, in his novel, Amateur Barbarians, Teddy, the more conventional, middle-class character, is more likely to see the metaphor about the house than Oren, who has never settled down. As Robert explained it in our interview, Oren is "a renter, not an owner," so he'd be less likely to recognize or conceive of the metaphor about the house.

      As you write this week, play with metaphor. And consider Robert Cohen's advice. Work to find metaphors that are apt not only for the material, but for the character whose perspective is being presented.

      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 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 award-winning poet Natasha Saje

      Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today with Natasha Saje, who occasionally turns to the dictionary for inspiration. Open a dictionary to a random page. Run your finger down a column of text, paying attention to the first five or ten words you see. Choose one of those words and find a way to include it in a poem you’re working on, or a paragraph of prose. As Natasha says, you can force the word into your work “like hammering open a door.” Maybe in a later revision, you’ll block it up again. But in the meantime, this randomly chosen word will have allowed you to get some “air” into your 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 best-selling author Mary McGarry Morris

      Prompt: Today's Write The Book prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today with Mary McGarry Morris, who says that when she's developing a character, she tries to think the way that character thinks and have empathy for that person, no matter how different he or she may be from herself.  This week's prompt, then, is to think of someone VERY unlike yourself. How would you represent that person's character? What sorts of thoughts might you have? How would you speak? What might you be afraid of? What might you desire? Who would you like or dislike? What secrets might YOU be trying to hide? Stay open to that person's perspective, no matter how strange or violent or dishonorable or meek. Maintaining empathy for the full range of human possibility will benefit the development of your character in the long run.

      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 the poet Clare Rossini.

      Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today. Clare Rossini’s poem “BIOLOGY LAB, ST. JOSEPH’S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS” concerned just that, a biology class at a Catholic high school for girls. Your prompt for this week, then, is to take that inspiration as a point of departure. Choose a subject: math, biology, English, chemistry, gym, Spanish or French or Latin. Do you remember sitting in that classroom? What did it look like? What did the teacher act like? Who sat next to you – your best friend, or someone you didn’t much like? Did the class inspire you? Did you look forward to it? Why or why not? Write a poem or a scene, using these memories as inspiration. Be sure to include sensory details in the piece. Try to write in such a way that the reader will know just what it felt like to sit, for example, in Mr. Wong’s algebra class as he shot a rubber band at you after you misstated the quadratic formula.

      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 Sue William Silverman, author of Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You; Love Sick: One Woman's Journey Through Sexual Addiction; and the new book, Fearless Confessions: A Guide to Writing Memoir.

      Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt comes from my guest, Sue William Silverman, who included it in her new book on craft, Fearless Confessions. Recall a photograph from childhood, or dig one out of an old album. Write a paragraph about it using the voice and sensibility of who you were when the photograph was taken. Then, write a paragraph about it through the voice and sensibility of who you are now. Next, write a third paragraph that combines the perspectives of the first two: a paragraph that speaks in both the Voice of Innocence and the Voice of Experience. 

      A Little Shameless Self-Promotion: Keep up on what’s happening with Write The Book through two new sites: the blog and the twitter page. Check them out: http://writethebook.wordpress.com/ and http://twitter.com/writethebook

      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 Children's Novelist Marilyn Taylor McDowell.

      Today’s Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my guest, Marilyn Taylor McDowell, who says writers should never edit out the truth. Susan Sontag once wrote, “Literature is a form of responsibility—to literature itself and to society. … a great writer of fiction, by writing truthfully about the society in which she or he lives, cannot help but evoke … the better standards of justice and of truthfulness which we have the right (some would say the duty) to militate for in the necessarily imperfect societies in which we live.”  As you write this week, try to keep these thoughts present, if loosely, in your mind. What am I examining in my work? And what is the truth of that condition? Don’t force a lesson or a moral into your writing, but identify the truth, as you believe it exists, and maintain it within the work. Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another.

      A Little Shameless Self-Promotion: Keep up on what’s happening with Write The Book through two new sites: the blog and the twitter page. Check them out: http://writethebook.wordpress.com/ and http://twitter.com/writethebook

      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 Vermont Mystery Writer Archer Mayor.

      This week’s Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my conversation with mystery writer Archer Mayor. Consider your current writing project. Is it possible that a mystery might exist within the pages of your story, poem or novel? Even if it's not a piece that you'd define as MYSTERY, perhaps a small puzzle, woven throughout, would peak reader interest. Maybe you're writing a family story. Could there be a cousin or neighbor who disappeared long ago? Or rumor of a treasure buried in the great-grandfather's back yard? This needn't be the focus of your piece, but a captivating subplot that could add something exciting to the work. To Kill A Mockingbird is not a mystery, but Boo Radley is a figure who inspires great interest. So keep in mind the appeal that a riddle can provoke, the pull of a secret. Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

      A Little Shameless Self-Promotion: Keep up on what’s happening with Write The Book through two new sites: the blog and the twitter page. Check them out: http://writethebook.wordpress.com/ and http://twitter.com/writethebook

      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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