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Writer's Round-up : River Valley edition : Tuesday, 25 February 2020 00:08 EST : a service of The Public Press
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The Writer's Round-up

     by Stephen Morris

My own is to revisit my 1984 book, The Great Beer Trek which describes an epic journey to all of the nation's operating breweries. The project resurfaced when my twenty-four year old son told me he had purchased a used copy of the book for $0.83 and now wants to follow my footsteps.

I promised to take him on a mini-beer trek of Vermont this spring, but then he is on his own. I neglected to mention that there are now 2,500 breweries whereas when I made my trip there were 42. He'll figure it out. Who said "Youth is wasted on the young?"

Late winter can be tough on Vermont's wordsmiths. The lack of light, fresh air, and royalty checks combined with the fickleness of mud season can limit our horizons to the lip of the ditch in which we are stuck. One writer I queried about his next project responded with "I have nothing to report but utter exhaustion and hopelessness."

Quick, someone buy this guy a beer!quiet zone

Helen Husher, whose Conversations with a Prince was about understanding the psyche of horses, is in a much darker place: "I seem to be in the mood to kill someone, since I'm working on a murder mystery. It's set in Montpelier, but everything else about it is shrouded in secrecy. It could fall apart at any moment, and I like to hedge my bets."

Burr Morse is getting ready for the sugaring season and has been busily promoting his Sweet Days and Beyond. For his next project he says "I plan to write more of my 'feel good' stuff in hopes that it will be stirring, contagious and lucrative, in that order...no politics or violence for me. There's too much 'glum and dumb' out there these days." In other words don't look to Burr for a searing expose on prisoner abuse in Iraq.
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"Enjoy the season," exhorts Frank Bryan, McCullough Professor of Political Science at the University of Vermont and the world's leading authority on Town Meeting. He's taking a break from writing books to writing on his favorite topic: "Henry David Thoreau once said that Town Meeting is the true Congress, the most respectable one ever assembled in the United States.' I have a piece in the next issue of Vermont Commons that explains why he's right -- with a special focus on women's participation."

Michelle Kennedy writes "Not much exciting going on here! Without a Net (her personal account of homelessness) just came out in paperback and I am continuing to do readings and signings throughout New England. My next project is part memoir, part practical guide to living simply in the modern world with children, called A Fine Mess."

Also taking on the challenges of family is David Budbill, working from his lair on Judevine Mountain. "I'm working on a new play this winter, finally, really working on it after many false starts over many years. It's about family, but that's all I'm saying about it. I'm suspicious of, not to mention superstitious, about this one."

Nancy Jack Todd, author of A Safe and Sustainable World: The Promise of Ecological Design has been too busy in what she "shameless self-promotion" to start a new project. You won't see her wearing a sandwich board, but you might catch her signing books at Barnes&Noble or on Vermont Public Television.

Ellen Ecker Ogden, author of The Cook's Garden, continues to eat her way to success: "The personal story and passion behind Vermont farmers and food producers fascinates me, as I continue to discover award-winning cheese makers, rustic brick oven bakeries, small scale poultry farmers, and organic vegetables growers in every corner of the state. Compiling a series of articles and documenting the journey for an upcoming book is one of my writing goals for 2006."

Tim Brookes, whose book Guitar was just named one of Library Journal's Best Books of 2005, begins his answer with an eloquent "Um, let's see...." Luckily he regroups to tell us "My next project is finishing up a book on the global polio eradication project. Hint: The book will be finished before polio will!"

Chris Bohjalian (sometimes known as "He of Oprah fame") writes: "I just completed a novel called Of Two Minds. It's about a 26-year-old female social worker in Burlington, an elderly homeless photographer, and Jay Gatsby -- yes, THAT Jay Gatsby. It includes 12 actual photographs left behind by a once homeless photographer who died in 2003 that I have integrated into the text of the novel." Chris promises updates and previews on his website, which like several on this list is authorsname.com.

Vermont's "other" mystery writer, Archer Mayor has just completed Number 17 in the Joe Gunther series. "It's called The Second Mouse (from a quote my daughter Elizabeth gave me - 'The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.' Way too dark for me to ignore.) Largely placed in Bennington (the folks in Bennington, knowing of my fondness for differing locales, had been requesting Joe to stop by for quite a while,) the book is less a tangled, action-packed outing, and more a spotlight on a few individuals, among whom are three on-the-edge livers who are, in various and conflicting ways, undergoing some serious life changes, both romantic and criminal. In my continuing pursuit of why people do the things they do, The Second Mouse has given me some interesting angles to play with, also involving several of my regular characters, some of whom get to do things that may surprise (and I hope delight) long-standing readers of the series. The book will be out this coming Fall, and as usual, I will be wandering through neighborhood bookstores telling folks about it.

Jay Gatsby, Joe Gunther ... Vermont readers have a lot to look forward to.

Stephen Morris is a business consultant and writer who lives in Randolph. He is the founder of The Public Press (www.thepublicpress.com).

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