Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Opportunity to display your published books

Here is an opportunity to show (and hopefully sell) your published books that was listed in this week's City Paper (11/19/14 edition page 64).

The Shaler North Hills Library is holding a "Artists & Authors Festival" on November 29th at the library in Glenshaw. I really don't know anything else about this event but you can call (412) 486-0211 for more information.

If anyone knows more about this or finds out anything about it please leave the information in the feedback section of this blog and i will publish it.


Jim Busch

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Poetry Roadtrip

The Dodge Poetry Festival is just two weeks away. This is the preeminent poetry event in the U.S. and was featured on Bill Moyers PBS series "Fooling with Words" some years back. This is a great event for anyone who loves words. My wife and I have attended a number of these festivals (Hearing Coleman Barks and Robert Bly perform the poetry of Rumi is one of the highlights of my life). This year's line up features readings by 70 poets including local writer Jan Beatty, the always entertaining Billy Collins, Rita Dove and Robert Pinsky. In addition to the readings there are many workshops for writers of all levels, storytelling, musical performances and a great selection of books for sale. This years festival will be held in Newark, New Jersey (Proof that art can happen anywhere). For more information go to  If you can make the festival it is well worth your time.

Thanks for reading.

Jim Busch for the LVW

Monday, August 18, 2014

Art is the big YES!

"Much of our lives involves the word 'NO.' In school we are mostly told, 'Don't do it this way. Do it that way.' But art is the big yes. In art, you get a chance to make something where there was nothing." Marvin Bell

As a poet, Marvin Bell understood the true allure of any creative activity.When we write or paint or compose a new piece of music we break free of the limitations of the physical world. We enlarge and enrich the realm of human experience and human knowledge. Every time you sit down to write, you are saying "YES" to the creative spirit of the universe.

Thanks for reading

Jim Busch

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Great book for writers.

I love the book shelf at the Goodwill store. Not only do I save a few bucks, which is near and dear to my skinflint heart, but I also encounter books that I would never know otherwise. Recently I discovered a copy of Letters to a young novelist by Mario Vargas Llosa. I've long been a fan of Rilke's Letters to a young poet but this book is almost as good as its namesake.

This book expresses the author's views on the craft of fiction which he illustrates with examples from a wide range of classic and contemporary novels. Llosa believes that authors are inherently rebels. That writers rebel against a reality that we don't accept by creating an alternate reality of our own. Another image likens an author's burning desire to write to a tapeworm. True writers constantly need to write to feed the "tapeworm" eating at our insides.

This book is available at Amazon and other sources. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in writing.

Keep the words and your creative juices flowing.

Jim Busch

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tim O'Brien on different kinds of truth

"On one level stories are made up. But they're made up for a reason, and the reason has to do with a different kind of truth. It has to do with emotional and spiritual truths." Tim O'Brien

What is the reason you write? Are you looking for recognition? For a big paycheck? Do you think being a writer is sexy and cool? Or do you have stories that you just have to share with the world? Are there truths bottled up inside your soul that need to be set free?

What ever your reason for writing you don't want to miss the Ligonier Valley Writers Annual Conference on July 18th. Whether you are a poet, an essayist, a fiction writer or even a song writer, this is the conference for you. To check out this years outstanding faculty and course line up visit

It doesn't matter why you write. It doesn't matter what you write. It doesn't matter if you're published or just getting started This is the conference for you. (Plus being a writer is both sexy and cool!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is "Spritzing" the future of reading?

I just watched a Charlie Rose interview with the founders of "SPRITZ" Spritz is a new digital reading system that instead of putting all of the words on a page simultaneously, presents them to the reader one at a time. In addition the letter which is the focal point of the word is printed in red to attract the eye. They made the point that our current system of presenting text was created to carve words into the stone walls of temples. This system was carried over when paper came along. The Spritz designers claim that people can read up to a 1,000 words per minute with their system. I visited their website ( ) and it is truly an amazing system, I can't imagine this will ever replace books (Remember--I'm an old codger Dang Nabbit!) but it could make reading on electronic devices much easier. I have to agree with Gandhi who said, "There is more to life than increasing its speed." but this is an interesting idea. I suggest you check it out.  

Don't forget, there are just five days left for early registration for the 2014 Ligonier Valley Writers Conference.

Keep writing.

Jim Busch

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How many crime writers does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: It takes two crime writers to change a lightbulb. One to screw it almost all the way in and another to give it a surprising and unexpected twist at the end.

This is just one of the fun items in the "Booklover's Book of Jokes, Quips and Quotes" compiled by David Wilkerson and published in 2011 by The British Library. This little book is a fun read for anyone who loves the literary arts. Reading this book may not help you become the next Hemingway, but it will make you smile.

Remember, you have just about two weeks before the June 10th deadline for early registration for the Ligonier Valley Writers Conference.


Jim Busch

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Descriptive powers

One of the things that sets the work of great writers apart is their powerful descriptive powers. Lawrence Ferlinghetti demonstrated his descriptive skills in the following excerpt from his book of experimental plays Routines. This is his answer to the question, "What is man?"

"Man is a self-balancing, 28 jointed adapter-based biped; an electro-chemical reduction plant, integral with segregated stowages of special energy extracts in storage batteries, for subsequent actuation of thousands of hydraulic and pneumatic pumps with motors attached; 62,000 miles of capillaries; millions of warning, signal, railroad and conveyor systems; crushers and cranes (of which the arms are magnificent 23 jointed affairs with self-surfacing and lubricating systems and a universally distributed telephone system needing no service for 70 years if well managed); the whole extraordinarily complex mechanism guided with exquisite skill from a turret in which are located telescopic and microscopic self-registering and recording range finders, a spectroscope etc., the turret control being closely allied with an air-conditioning intake and exhaust and a main fuel intake

Within the few cubic inches housing the turret mechanisms, there is room also, for two soundwave and sound-direction finder recording diaphragms, a filing and instant reference system and an expertly devised analytical laboratory large enough not only to contain minute records of every last and continual event of up to 70 year's experience or more, but to extend, by computation and abstract fabrication, this experience with relative accuracy into all corners of the observed universe. There is, also, a forecasting and tactical plotting department for the reduction of future possibilities to generally successfully specific choice."

Writing your own detailed description of "man" is an exercise that is sure to sharpen your own descriptive powers. Another way to become a better writer is to attend the annual Ligonier Valley Writers Conference this summer.   

Thank you for reading this blog, please feel free to comment on it and to share it with others.

Keep your fingers on the keyboard, the ideas flowing and your dreams alive.

Jim Busch

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ralph Waldo Emerson on writing well

It is not uncommon to find a book, usually a juicy novel, that we find hard to put down. It is unusual to find a non-fiction book, particularly one about a 19th century author, that has this addictive effect. I maybe exposing my nerdiness, but this happened to me this past weekend. I picked up a copy of First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson on the Creative Process by Robert Richardson. Richardson uses examples of Emerson's writing, selections from his journals, and excerpts from his letters to examine his unique creative process. This multifaceted book is part biography, part literary criticism and part how-to manual. Richardson delves into Emerson's use of language and his desire to use the language "of the street." He makes the point that Emerson thought that the well formed sentence was the key to good writing. This pithiness explains why so many authors and speakers make such liberal use of Emerson quotations in their books and presntations.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Emerson or in improving their own writing. Emerson's writing and creativity was fed by his close contact with a circle of literary friends, Thoreau, Hawthorne, the Alcott's etc. If you want to nurture your writing with a circle of literary friends, plan on attending the Ligonier Valley Writers Conference this coming summer. You may not become the Emerson of our age, but you will grow as a writer and you will certainly have a lot of fun.

Keep your fingers on the keyboard, the ideas flowing and the dream alive.

Thanks for reading.

Jim Busch    

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Quantity leads to quality writing

I spend a lot of time in the car and use audiobooks to pass the time. I am currently listening to a collection of stories from "Black Mask" magazine. Black Mask was a pulp magazine that was popular in the 30's, 40's, and 50's and published many great wrters of "hard boiled fiction" such as Dashell Hammet and Raymond Chandler. Another author who got his start in the pulps was Earl Stanley Gardener, the creator of Perry Mason. The book gives a brief biographical sketch of each writer featured. What I found interesting about Gardner was his sheer productivity--for decades he averaged an amazing 1.2 million words a year. This is the equivalent of a new novel every 3 1/2 weeks. There is a lot of research on the effect of practice, of the "10,000 hours" rule. Researchers have found that the best way to become truly skilled at anything is to spend a lot of time doing that thing. Gardner was a great writer because he did a great deal of writing.

This is a good lesson for anyone who is dedicated to the craft of writing. Another key to writing success is to get your work in front of other people who can give you feedback that will help you improve your work. The Ligonier Valley Writer's conference is a great place to meet creative people you will enjoy being with and who will help you become the writer you want to be.

Keep your fingers on the keyboard, the ideas flowing and your dreams alive.

Thanks for reading this blog. Please feel free to post your comments and to share this link.

Jim Busch   

Monday, January 27, 2014

Robert Frost on putting yourself into your work

"No tears in the tears in the reader. No surprise in the surprise in the reader."                                                       Robert Frost

Writing is the art of transfering emotion from one person to another. If we do not put our emotions into our work we are not writers, we are simply reporters. If we limit ourselves to conveying cold facts and transferring data we leave too much of ourselves hidden. To be a writer we need to imbue our words with living emotion. Frost was a master of this, we all know how he felt when he stopped by the woods on a snowy evening or when he came to two diverging roads in the heart of the forest. It is this sharing of ourselves which makes us writers

Keep your hands on the keyboard, the work flowing and your dreams alive.


Jim Busch

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Two great events for word lovers in 2014

In today's mail I received a post card promoting the 2014 Dodge Poetry Festival. This is the event that Bill Moyers covered in his series "The Language of Life." (This series is available on video and is well worth the effort of tracking it down). My wife and I attended this biannual event several times in the past and it was one of the most enjoyable events we've ever attended. We got to hear Robert Bly read his work and Coleman Barks perform his powerful translations of Rumi. We heard the Paul Winter Consort along with many other great performers, storytellers and poets. The festival also features one of the largest selections of books of poetry, literary fiction and how to books on writing. This year's festival will take place from October 23rd to the 26th at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark's downtown arts district. For more information go to This is a great event for anyone who loves the spoken/written word.

The second must attend event for word lovers, particularly writers, is the 2014 Ligonier Valley Writer's Conference. The 2013 conference was one of the highlights of my year. I learned some very valuable new writing techniques and met some interesting and very creative people. Best of all, I walked away with my creative batteries fully charged and ready to write. I am still working on several ideas that came from the workshops I attended.

Both of these events are great ways to stimulate your creativity and kickstart your writing. The LVW will soon be announcing the deatails of this years conference. If you want to make 2014 the year that you get serious about writing, make sure that you are the first person to register.

Thanks for reading. Keep your mind working, your fingers on the keyboard and your dreams alive!