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'Famous Writers School:' Lessons for the Teacher

Steven Carter wrote <em>I Was Howard Hughes</em> and has a new book, <em>Famous Writers School:  A Novel</em>, out this month.  He currently teaches as an assistant English professor at Georgetown College in Kentucky.
Steven Carter wrote I Was Howard Hughes and has a new book, Famous Writers School: A Novel, out this month. He currently teaches as an assistant English professor at Georgetown College in Kentucky.

With the recent outpouring of writers' workshops and online writing communities, anyone can be a writer. Author Steven Carter has addressed this issue in his newest book Famous Writers School: A Novel.

Carter's book follows the founder and teacher of the school, protagonist Wendell Newton -- who, through his bumbling interactions with students, shows that while anyone may be able to write, not everyone should teach.

The school, a correspondence course advertised in the back of literary magazines, is made up of a few novice authors -- including a crime fiction-writing John Deere sales representative whose excerpts make up a good deal of Carter's novel.

There's also some good writer's block advice, for example, pretending that you're writing to a friend or pressuring characters. However, Wendell Newton offers an even more unusual piece of advice -- stealing names from obituaries.

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Liane Hansen
Liane Hansen has been the host of NPR's award-winning Weekend Edition Sunday for 20 years. She brings to her position an extensive background in broadcast journalism, including work as a radio producer, reporter, and on-air host at both the local and national level. The program has covered such breaking news stories as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, Jr., and the Columbia shuttle tragedy. In 2004, Liane was granted an exclusive interview with former weapons inspector David Kay prior to his report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The show also won the James Beard award for best radio program on food for a report on SPAM.