Bucks County Writers Workshop

Bucks County Writers Workshop

The Bucks County Writers Workshop
Article Archives #9 2009

CULT OF AYN RAND. Audio interviews with the most influential people in her career.

STUART CUMMINGS RIPLEY. Improved design for the onlysite on the web dedicated to this now forgotten literary genius. An original project of the BCWW.

E. L. DOCTOROW. Audio interviews with a literary icon.

BCWW REMEMBERS 9/11. Shortly after the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil, members of the BCWW described their thoughts about the disaster in prose and poetry. Click headline above.


Alix Ohlin awarded cash prizes to the winners of the Bucks County Writers Workshop's Summer Writing competition during a dinner at the Plumsteadville Inn on August 25, 2009. The top prize winner in the competition, in which workshop members entered short stories based on the theme, "ghosts," was Judith Norkin of Newtown. Second and third prize winners were Chris Bauer of Doylestown and Ilene Raymond Rush of Elkins Park. See pictures from the dinner here. To read the workshop's ghostly stories, click here. To watch the awards presentation via YouTube click video

Chris Bauer, author of Scars on the Face of God, describes the ordeals of a newly published author by listing numerically his successes and failures. Highly entertaining and instructive. Chris spoke at the BCWW dinner on August 25.

  • BOOK BEAT WEBSITE EXPANDED. Long a simple online repository for the CBS Book Beat radio features, the site has been enlarged and broadened in scope to include new audio interviews and book and author news. Writers will find it a helpful resource.

  • BUDD SHULBERG DEAD. He was ninety-five. A controversial writer caught up in the right-wing's communist witch hunts of the 40s and 50s. Author of What Makes Summy Run and winner of an Oscar for his screenplay On the Waterfront with Marlon Brando. The BCWW's Don Swaim's interview with Schulberg can be heard at Wired for Books.

  • WHY PEOPLE COLLECT BOOKS by Daniel Krotz, who runs Sow's Ear, a book and antiques shop in the unlikely place of Berryville, Arkansas.


    In a forty minute interview with the BCWW's Don Swaim, Ohlin -- author of The Missing Person and Babylon and Other Stories (Knopf) -- also says fledgling writers must be willing to write badly at first to succeed. Ohlin, who will select the top stories in the BCWW's Summer Writing Project, Ghosts, teaches creative writing at Lafayette College. To hear the complete interview as an mp3 file, click on: Alix Ohlin Interview.

  • SALINGER WINS IN SUIT TO STOP UNAUTHORIZED SEQUEL. A Federal judge in New York blocked publication of The Catcher in the Rye sequel written by a Swedish author under the name" J.D. California." Ever hear of copyright? Read Salinger's complaint filed in US Court, Southern District at The Smoking Gun.

  • 13 TIPS FOR ACTUALLY GETTING WRITING DONE. By Gretchen Rubin at The Huffington Post.

  • NEW SITE LETS WRITERS SELL DIGITAL COPIES. "The Scribd Web site is the most popular of several document-sharing sites that take a YouTube-like approach to text, letting people upload sample chapters of books, research reports, homework, recipes and the like." By Brad Stone in The New York Times.

  • COINCIDENCES IN FICTION... Coincidences in real life happen all the time -- sometimes spookily so -- but if you resort to using a coincidence in fiction it often sounds phony and contrived. The thinking person's talk show host, Dick Cavett, has addressed the subject of coincidence in his amusing column Talk Show.

  • THE GERIATRIC WRITER... Age doesn't seem to be a factor among writers -- and many authors do their best work well into "old age." Read "The Artful Codger" by Charles McGrath in The New York Times Week in Review.


    An extensive article in Bucks Living Magazine, "The Good Earth," details the Bucks County literary experience. Written by Angelina Sciolla for the February 2009 issue, it focuses heavily on the Bucks County Writers Workshop.

    "Among Bucks County's many natural assets are its novelists, poets and dramatists, past, present and future."

    To read the online version go to Bucks Living.

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  • ABOUT THAT BOOK ADVANCE... "...the fact that 7 out of 10 titles do not earn back their advance, the system doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon." By Michael Meyer in The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

  • IN PRAISE OF THE AMERICAN SHORT STORY. "In an age pressed for time, rediscovering the pleasures of compression in the work of masters such as Flannery O'Connor, John Cheever and Donald Barthelme." By A.O. Scott in The New York Times.

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    The idea was for BCWW members to write a story in six words, no more no less, similiar to the one Hemingway said was the best he ever wrote. Here's Hemingway's:

    For Sale. Baby's shoes. Never worn.

    In six words Hemingway says it all. We wanted to see if the workshop's six-word stories could be as powerful and poignant as Hemingway's. To read the results click on the image to the left.

  • A RECESSION ONLY STEINBECK COULD LOVE. John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is currently a major player in the NEA's "Big Read" community events around the nation. "Steinbeck would think that we're getting just what we deserve. And he'd like it," says Rachel Dry in The Washington Post.


    Hard to categorize although with a cult following, Purdy never enjoyed a wide audience, but he was truly an original. Despite his severe image, Purdy was friendly and mannerly, and the BCWW's Don Swaim interviewed him three times. The interviews can be heard at Wired for Books. Purdy's obit here. Gore Vidal wrote a profile of Purdy, The Novelist as Outlaw.

    Photo by Gian Luiso

  • PEARL BUCK'S 'MISSING' MANUSCRIPT GOES ON DISPLAY IN BUCKS COUNTY. The 400-page manuscript of The Good Earth by the Nobel Prize-winning author is on display in the library of the Pearl S. Buck House in Hilltown. By Hilary Bentman in The Intelligencer.

  • A REBIRTH FOR JOHN CHEEVER? A new Cheever biography accompanies two fresh editions of Cheever's work published by the Library of America. Charles McGrath in The New York Times Sunday Magazine says Cheever's reputation seems to have been prematurely shortchanged.

  • CAN'T. STOP. WRITING. Joyce Carol Oates: 100 books in 45 years; John Updike: 60 books in 50 years. Excess literary productivity? By Geoff Nicholson in The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

  • THE WRITER AND HIS BOOZE. Brian McDonald, a former bartender, describes how he was drawn to authors who wrote about and experienced the effects of alcohol. In The New York Times.

  • MAILER'S FINAL GIFT. Lawrence Schiller in The Daily Beast.com describes Norman Mailer's last days and how his literary legacy is being kept alive with the creation of the Norman Mailer Writers Colony on Cape Cod.

    The New Yorker

  • HOW DO I SELL MY E-BOOK? "My passion for old books gets to the one thing I dislike about Amazon.com's generally admirable Kindle digital book reader..." By Stephen Wildstrom in Business Week.

  • SELF-PUBLISHERS FLOURISH IN DOWN PUBLISHING MARKET. As traditional publishers prune their booklists, self-publishing companies are ramping up their title counts and making money on books that sell as few as five copies. By Motoko Rich in The New York Times.


    The acclaimed Pennsylvania-born novelist died of lung cancer in Massachusetts on January 27. Obit. Arguably, he should have won the Nobel Prize. The BCWW's Don Swaim interviewed Updike in 1984. Listen at Wired for Books. To hear Don's actual CBS Radio broadcast go to Book Beat-Updike.


  • ORCHISES PRESS: A GOOD YEAR MIGHT NET $12,000. For publisher Roger Lathbury the printed word is its own reward. By Ian Shapira in the Washington Post.


    Ohlin, author of two books of fiction (Knopf) and an appearance in the Best American Short Stories of 2005, will select the three winning entries. The project, "Ghosts," is open to Bucks County Writers Workshop members only. Submissions must be in by June 30, 2009. Ohlin, who studied at the James A. Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, teaches creative writing at Lafayette College. For more information click HERE or on Ohlin's image to the left.

    click to enlarge

  • FICTION READING IS UP! The National Endowment for the Arts says adults who read fiction, poetry, and plays rose from 46.7 percent in 2002 to 50.2 percent in 2008. By Bob Thompson in the Washington Post.

  • AMERICA'S MOST LITERATE CITIES 2008. The study by Central Connecticut State University focuses on six key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources.

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