Bucks County Writers Workshop

Bucks County Writers Workshop

The Bucks County Writers Workshop
Article Archives #7 2007

  • THE WRITING LIFE: JIM LEHRER. The journalist, who hails from Wichita, Kansas, credits his seventeen novels to brain flashes in chance moments. In the Washington Post. Marie Arana offers a profile of Lehrer here. And listen to Don's interview with Lehrer .

  • THE NEW WORDS. Astronaut diaper...i-reporter...nose bidet...gorno...forever stamp...wide stance. By Grant Barrett in The New York Times.

  • THE FUTURE OF READING. Amazon has released a new hand-held reading device, the Kindle, which wirelessly downloads books and articles without a computer. Technology reviewers say the Kindle resolves the problems found in similar devices. By Steve Levy in Newsweek.

    NORMAN MAILER 1923-2007

    Click image to hear Don's unedited 1991 Wired for Books interview with Mailer. Or click here to listen to the actual broadcast as an mp3. Mailer is candid about his life and origins as a writer.

  • BIO ENGINEERING. With a biography of Philip Roth underway, Rachel Donadio in The New York Times Sunday Book Review looks at the perils of writing biographies about living persons.

    The New Yorker, 10/8/07[click to enlarge]

  • NEW RAYMOND CARVER CONTROVERSY BREWING. Tess Gallagher, widow of Raymond Carver, one of the most celebrated American short-story writers of the 20th century, is spearheading an effort to publish a volume of 17 original Carver stories whose highly edited versions were shepherded by Gordon Lish. By Motoko Rich in The New York Times.

    Lessing was twice interviewed by the BCWW's Don Swaim. The unedited interviews, never broadcast in that form, can be heard online in either RealAudio or mp3 format at Wired for Books. To hear Don's actual CBS Radio broadcasts as downloadable mp3 files go to Lessing 1988 and Lessing 1992.

  • AMERICAN NOBEL CONTENDERS SNUBBED. Philip Roth tops the list of U.S. authors considered for the honor, but others mentioned include John Updike, Norman Mailer, Cormack McCarthy, Gore Vidal, and even Thomas Pynchon. Hephzibah Anderson at Bloomberg.com laments.

  • WHAT AILS THE SHORT STORY? Stephen King, guest editor of the newly published Best American Short Stories 2007 believes the short story is alive -- but not actually well. Essay in The New York Times.

  • BCWW STYLEBOOK AVAILABLE ON INTERNET FOR FIRST TIME This handy how-to primer for writers seeking publication or workshop submission went through three printed editions before the revised, expanded version was posted on the BCWW website. It covers such issues as length, formatting, clarity, pace, wordiness, etc. Not everyone will agree with its conclusions, but it's hoped some will find it useful.

  • REMEMBERING 9/11 Members of the Bucks County Writers Workshop put together this special page shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001.

  • WHAT'S GOOD WRITING? The Word according to Alan Shils: a ten-point guide to writing. Alan is a writer, photographer, IBM retiree, and a long time member of the BCWW.

  • NO THANKS, MR. NABOKOV. Rejection is tough on a writer -- but you're not alone. Files at the University of Texas show that Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. turned down such books as The Diary of Anne Frank, The Good Earth, Animal Farm, and, yes, Lolita. Other Knopf-rejected authors include Sylvia Plath, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Anais Nin, Tony Hillerman, Jean-Paul Sartre, Barbara Tuchman, and James Baldwin. Historian David Oshinsky writes about such rejection blunders in The New York Times Sunday Book Review. Take heart.

  • ONE IN FOUR AMERICANS NEVER CRACK A BOOK. A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll shows that even Americans who did read last year only read four books on average. Democrats and liberals read more than Republicans and conservatives. More women than men read. Southerners tend to read more religious books and romance novels. Opinion by Carol Hoenig in The Huffington Post.

  • THE INVISIBLE MANUSCRIPT. By Wil Haygood in the Washington Post. Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible Man, died in 1994, leaving behind thousands of pages of notes, typed pages, and text-filled computer disks in what was to be his second novel. For 14 years two literary sleuths have labored to bring the pieces together.

  • VINTAGE BRADBURY,PACKAGED ANEW. David Shaftel in The New York Times tells us that celebrated writer Ray Bradbury, at the age of 87, continues to mine his literary inventory. To hear two of Don's interviews with Ray Bradbury in RealAudio go to Wired for Books. They're also available as mp3 files if you want to load them onto your iPod. Go to Wired for Books mp3.

  • ROBERT A. HEINLEIN'S LEGACY. by Taylor Dinerman in the WSJ Opinion Journal. Science fiction at one time was despised as vulgar and "populist" by university English departments. But now...

  • GIVING AWAY BOOKS MADE A LITTLE LESS PAINFUL. by Alina Tugend in the The New York Times addresses the hard facts of parting with your beloved library.

    The New Yorker, 11/28/05 [click to enlarge]

  • SIXTH ANNUAL MEMOIR WRITING COMPETITION. ($5 and $10 entry fees) Winners to be published in the Philadelphia City Paper, along with a live reading program. Deadline Aug. 15.

  • RIPLEY'S BUCKS COUNTY HOME NEARS LANDMARK STATUS. The Tinicum Township, PA, Board of Supervisors has moved to purchase and renovate the Uhlerstown home of the once famous, now obscure, novelist Stuart Cummings Ripley. The township's historical commission and the newly formed Stuart Cummings Ripley Appreciation Society have joined in the effort. By Pete Hamill in the Bucks County Banner. Check the BCWW's own Ripley site HERE.

  • WHY DO THE ARCHIVES OF SO MANY GREAT WRITERS END UP IN TEXAS? An illuminating article by D.T. Max, writing in The New Yorker's annual double fiction issue [June 11 & 18, 2007]. The collection of manuscripts by modern authors at the University of Texas is virtually without peer. The article is priceless if only for Don DeLillo's revealing explanation of his writing process.

  • THE SHORT STORY: A NEW APPRECIATION. By Bob Thompson in The Washington Post.

  • THE GREATEST MYSTERY: MAKING A BEST SELLER. How does do publishers know which books are going to make it big and which will not? Short answer: they don't. By Shira Boss in The New York Times.

  • RAY BRADBURY WINS SPECIAL PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2007. Ray was cited for his "distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy." Nonsense. He transcended the genre. I love Ray Bradbury. I grew up with Ray. He was my transformation from a teen sci-fi addict to a literary person. I interviewed Ray twice. Here's the link to five related broadcasts I did with Ray in 1992. (Ray's imitation of film director John Huston is hilarious.) Go to: Ray Bradbury

  • KURT VONNEGUT DIES AT 84. To hear Don Swaim's unedited 1981 interview with Vonnegut go to Wired for Books. Vonnegut: "When I think about my own death, I don't console myself with the idea that my descendants and my books and all that will live on."


    Gere's movie, The Hoax, looks at one of the nation's most sensational literary frauds: the phony Howard Hughes "autobiography" as perpetrated by Clifford Irving in the 1970s. Don Swaim interviewed Irving three times about the hoax and other issues. Go to Wired for Books.


  • WHO IS JOE HILL?. Hill's new novel made the Times Best Seller List the hard way. The son of a world-famous author, Hill refused to capitalize on his father's fame -- even to the point of not using his family's name. By Ben Neihart in The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

    The cartoon strip Shoe is about a flock of crusty hard-drinking journalists who happen to be birds, some with literary prententions. Creator Jeff MacNelly died in 2000 at the age of 52. The strip is carried on by Chris Cassatt and Gary Brookins -- and one hopes they don't mind when their gems are occasionally shared by the BCWW.

  • A TRAVELER'S LIBRARY. What books to pack on a trip. By Jay Parini in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

  • LIBRARY THING. Here's a website for book collectors. You can post your collection simply by typing in the title (Library Thing does the cataloging), connect with fellow book collectors, form book groups, etc. It's a MySpace for book lovers.

  • POLITICALLY CORRECT LEXICON. How-to Guide to avoid offending anyone. WARNING: the words in this lexicon will offend someone. By Joel Bleifuss in In These Times.


    The famed novelist grew up in Doylestown, home of the Bucks County Writers Workshop. From March through June 2007, the James A. Michener Art Museum will feature exhibits, lectures, musical performances, poetry, film, and workshops dedicated to the museum's prime benefactor. For a list of events go to James A. Michener Art Museum.To hear Don Swaim's unedited 1989 interview with Michener (in RealAudio or mp3) go to Wired for Books. For Don's short actual broadcasts with Michener (five two-minute features in mp3) go to James A. Michener.

  • UPROAR OVER A SINGLE WORD IN A CHILDREN'S BOOK. Some librarians are banning an award-winning book for children 9-12 because of one word: scrotum. By Julie Bosman in The New York Times.

  • MURDER MOST SUBURBAN. The suburbs as settings for mystery novels. By Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times.

  • TOO CLEVER TO IGNORE. As writers we now use computers, not typewriters, and for better or worse, Microsoft Word is King. But Apple's Macintosh and its co-founder Steve Jobs made it possible (and they still do). Go to these hilarious video excerpts from the computer musical NERDS for laughs and truth.

  • INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES, R.I.P. Soaring rents, the growth of chain stores, and the Internet are doing away with this precious commodity. By David Streitfeld in the Los Angeles Times.

  • GOOGLE'S MOON SHOT. Jeffrey Toobin in the Feb 5, 2007, issue of The New Yorker has written a terrific account of Google's effort to digitize every book ever published -- and why publishers and some authors are fighting it. As writers we should all read this.

  • SIDNEY SHELDON DEAD AT 89. Sheldon wrote terrific potboilers and made millions. I interviewed Sheldon in New York on May 19, 1987. To hear the uncut interview (in RealAudio or mp3) go to Wired for Books. For the actual broadcast (as mp3) go to Sidney Sheldon.

    Ayn Rand considered as her masterpiece this massive, controversial novel, which spawned what is now called libertarianism. However, both she and her heirs have resisted attempts to film it. But now Angelina Jolie is interested. Go, go, Angelina... By Kimberly Brown in The New York Times.

  • 2007 VERSION OF MS OFFICE MAY BE PROBLEM FOR USERS OF OLDER VERSIONS. David Pogue of The New York Times applauds Microsoft for cutting the bloat and eliminating features no one uses in Word, but criticises the lack of customization -- and notes older versions of Office for Windows and Macintosh can't read Office 2007 files without special conversion software. Pogue suggests users put off upgrading.

    BCWW Member Jules Winistorfer
    click to enlarge

  • HUNTING DOWN CLICHES. A cliche betrays a lack of original thought. My old CBS pal Mervin Block is always on the alert for 'em -- and if you think cliches don't apply to fiction or any other kind of writing click above. It's a marvelous list of what NOT to write. Hey, they left out "hat in the ring."

  • STOOPID NAMES 2007. Hardly before 2007 began I glanced at my email's spam folder, and collected these names generated by the computer trash who want to con you into opening their email. The names are delicious. Feel free to use them in your next novel or story.

  • NEW CONTEST FOR UNPUBLISHED WRITERS. It's called First Chapters -- and hopeful authors can enter free by submitting manscripts to Gather.com. Tuchstone Books will offer the winner a book contract. Meanwhile, the Sobol Award contest bites the dust. By Julie Bosman in The New York Times.

  • BANISHED WORDS FOR 2007. Each year produces dumb, completely perishable words that'll never stand the test of time: Gitmo, Bragelina, awesome, gone missing, deal gone bad. Here's this year's list of lousy words and phrases compiled by Lake Superior State University.

    The New Yorker, Dec 26, 2006-Jan 1, 2007 issue


  • Bucks County Writers Workshop

    Top of Page