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NC Literary Hall of Fame

 

 


Anthony S. Abbott is Professor Emeritus of English at Davidson College. He is the author of two novels and seven collections of poetry, the most recent of which, The Angel Dialogues, was published by Lorimer Press in March of this year. His 2011 collection, If Words Could Save Us, was the co-winner of the Brockman Campbell Award of the NC Poetry Society. His 2003 novel, Leaving Maggie Hope, won the Novello Award. He taught English and creative writing at Davidson for nearly forty years, and was chair of the department from 1989 to 1996. He also served as President of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, The Charlotte Writers' Club, and, most recently, the North Carolina Poetry Society. He teaches writing workshops in Charlotte, Davidson, and Winston-Salem.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, Tony will teach the workshop "Poetry 101." It's everything you wanted to know about poetry but were afraid to ask (in ninety minutes). We will review the basic elements of poetry—imagery, metaphor, form and free verse, sound and rhythm, and look at some ways these various elements can be combined to make a fresh and moving poem. The instructor will supply examples.

Register now!

 

If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
I would be Mary Oliver. I would love to have her remarkable ability to look at things and see into them. I find her vision absolutely stunning.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
“Passionate, engaging, original.”

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
Don’t be afraid. Write what you have to write, and don’t edit it. Hold on to it, and one day you will know what to do with it. If you don’t write it when you first have it, you will lose it.

In 2013, Forbes named Charlotte among its list of Best Places for Business and Careers. What makes Charlotte such a vibrant place to visit and live?
I have lived in Davidson, a small town twenty miles north of Charlotte, for fifty years. When we came to Davidson, people welcomed us openly and made us feel part of the community. That warm and caring community continues to nurture us fifty years later.

Why do you feel it's important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
When I first started writing, I had almost no contact with other writers, with people like me. Conferences give us a chance to be with one another and feel the support of others like ourselves. In North Carolina, especially, writers are a genuine community. You might meet someone at a conference who will become a true friend….

Saturday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "Words in Civic Life." Does creative writing have a role to play outside the covers of a book?
Of course it does. I didn’t really know how black people felt until I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Poems, novels, essays change us—they allow us to experience what it is like to be someone else from the inside. Literature is a humanizing force

What do you hope attendees takeaway from the conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
Often people who are just starting out lack the tools to adequately shape their vision. I hope my workshop will give them some of those important tools and do it in an interesting and helpful way. I want them to have fun while they are learning.

What does it mean for writers to "Network?" Any tips?
When we founded the North Carolina Writers' Network we realized that many writers lived in communities where they felt isolated from many of the important things going on in writing centers like Raleigh, Durhm, Chapel Hill. To Network really means to be in touch with what is going on and to become a part of it. If Sharon Olds is coming to Duke, I want to know about it even if I live two or three hours away. A network can help keep me alive as a writer.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
The Bible.

Do you read literary journals? What are some of your favorites?
I have enjoyed Poetry very much. For fiction, The New Yorker is absolutely essential. Wonderful stories.

Can writing be taught?
Yes. You can’t teach talent or genius. A gift is a gift, but we can always help people improve. We can teach people to be better writers than they are.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
I really don’t know. Frost, Yeats, Eliot, Dickinson, Whitman, Olds, Oliver—poets I dearly love. And Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Have you ever had writer’s block? What is one thing that helped you overcome it?
The most important thing is life experience. When something powerful happens, then we write about it. With no life experiences, we dry up inside. Passon comes from life. Then we write about it.

Someone writes an unauthorized biography about your life. What would the title be?
The Man Who Limped Toward Heaven.

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Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference is now open.

 

Zelda Lockhart’s poetry can be found in Obsidian Journal, a publication of North Carolina State University; Calyx: A Journal of Women’s Art and Literature, and the North Carolina Literary Review, among others. She is the award-winning author of the novels Fifth Born, Cold Running Creek, and Fifth Born II: The Hundredth Turtle. She was the Piedmont Laureate for North Carolina’s Triangle region, won a Barnes & Noble Discovery Award, and was finalist for both a Hurston/Wright Award and a Lambda Literary Award. She lives in Hillsborough on the 3.5 acres of land that she recently converted into LaVenson Press Studios, which offers a series of workshops, hosts a literary magazine, and feeds participants from its organic garden. Visit the Studio’s website, www.LaVensonPressStudios.com, or Zelda’s website at www.zeldalockhart.com.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, Zelda will lead a workshop titled "The Mirror Exercise: Producing a Whole Short Work in Less Than an Hour." In this workshop, participants produce raw material from “The Mirror Exercise,” which is a segment of Zelda’s forthcoming book, The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript. The four short prompts of this exercise help participants produce a whole short piece of fiction, memoir, or poetry during the workshop. This includes a quick training on how to get in the creative zone quickly and access your best work. This workshop teaches invaluable skills for maintaining daily writing while leading a very busy life.

Register now!

 

What are you reading right now?
I am reading my own manuscript, The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript, over and over to clean it up. I'm also reading Catching Fire, so that I can engage intelligently with my daughter as she talks about Katniss and President Snow and those guys.

Where is your favorite place to write?
On my screeened-in porch, watching the hummingbirds come to the bergamot in summer, watching the wild turkeys in fall, watching the deer and red crested piliated woodpeckers against the bleak backdrop in winter, and watching listening to the tree frogs in spring.

If you weren't a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
If I wasn't writing and teaching about writing, which is really expressing and teaching about expression, I'd be expressing in some format (singing, dancing, playing the guitar—all things I do), and I'd be teaching about it.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
My children.

If you could switch places with one fictional character, who would it be?
None of them, they have some hellish lives.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from Fall Conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop?
I'd like for attendees to leave feeling hell-bent on expressing themselves from an emotional, psychological, and spiritual base, because that is the vulnerable stuff that good art is made of.

Charlotte is known as both "The Queen City" and "The Hornet's Nest." Does one of those nicknames ring more true for you than the other?
No, I think Charlotte is cool. My son, partner, and granddaughter recently moved from there, and I miss visiting. So, my association with the city is one of walks to the coffee shop, ice cream shop, and chalk drawings on the sidewalk with the grand.

Sunday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "The Many Paths to Publication." What's the first thing you ever published?
I believe it was a poem: "The Same Jesus," published in Sinister Wisdom Journal in 1995.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Soul-Stirring, Life-Affirming, Spritually-Death-Defying. :)

What is the most frustrating or rewarding part of the writing process?
Frustrating: When the coffee was decaf. Rewarding: When the coffee was espresso.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
Invest in Kleenex for the tears, and a corset for the gutt-busting laughter.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
The English-French dictionary. The English language is too analytical. Doesn't work well for a poet's heart.

Describe your ideal literary festival. Who would give the keynote address? Who would be the featured readers? What else?
It would be in a clearing in the woods. The keynote would be given my these two gangster hawks that hang around my house who yell all the time to let everyone know how tough they are. The featured readers would be the coyotes who are stealing, raiding, and pillaging everything they encounter. In their exposition, they'd give the backstory of why they formed gangs, what they were afraid of, and how they hope to find redemption. What else? What else is there after all that. Wait, yes, there would be the most amazing vegetarian feast served up on the backs of box turtles. Giggle—no, I don't drink.

Do you steal hotel pens?
Of course!!!!!

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Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference is now open.

 

Moira Crone, whose works have appeared in The New Yorker, Oxford American, and Fiction, is the award-winning author of six books, including her newest novel The Ice Garden. Her previous book, The Not Yet, was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award for best science fiction paperback of the year in 2013. In 2009, she received the Robert Penn Warren Award from the Southern Fellowship of Writers for the body of her work. Her website is www.moiracrone.com.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, Moira will lead a fiction workshop titled, "World-Building." World-Building, a term from speculative and science fiction, means creating an imaginary, alternative setting for a story, which can include history, customs, beliefs, ecology—and conditions contrary to what we encounter in “reality.” An author who switched from realism to speculative fiction with distinguished results talks about developing such an invented world—either slightly divergent from our own, or made up from whole cloth—and writing stories within it. She gives exercises to jumpstart the process.

Register now!

 

If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
In terms of breadth of vision and the stakes in life, Tennessee Williams, or Flannery O’Connor. For language, Truman Capote or Carson McCullers.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Riveting, vivid, wise.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
That the most important thing to develop as a writer is an understanding of the difference between kinds of negativity. There is a negative view of one’s work that is needed—you must be critical and look for all things that are lacking when you revise and edit. But there is a negative view of one’s work that is destructive—what this feels like is, you see so many flaws you don’t see what the worth of the entire enterprise could be. But an artist can’t be nihilistic. She’s making something—however flawed. Being a writer, or anyone who does creative work, means believing in the invisible, the imaginary, and then make it manifest. Great faith and small faith should always be cultivated, even when rejection comes from others, or hard criticism is needed, or you don’t know what to do next. All creative people have a sense of a vacuum, which propels them to go forth and make something to fill it. This sense of absence shouldn’t be a cause for despair—that’s the mistake. It should be energizing, but not taken too seriously.

In 2013, Forbes named Charlotte among its list of Best Places for Business and Careers. What makes Charlotte such a vibrant place to visit and live?
I have never been to Charlotte. So I am looking forward to finding out the answer.

Why do you feel it's important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
Writers conferences give everyone a sense of both the art of writing and of reading. Writing is a lonely pursuit. And meeting other writers and editors is a way to stay connected. Listening to writers talk about their works is energizing for readers and for everyone involved.

Saturday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "Words in Civic Life." Does creative writing have a role to play outside the covers of a book?
Novels and stories make worlds. These worlds have an impact upon everyone. They give us a community, and they make us see things about ourselves that, otherwise, we would not see. Reading broadens us, and really, teaches empathy. The teaching of “creative writing,” shows students who otherwise wouldn’t have imagined it, that they can have a voice, a point of view—they have the right to be the “author” or the “authority.” Creative writing classes can lend power and confidence to people, and this is good for everyday discourse in the community—not just in the world of letters. In New Orleans, we have a series of books called The Neighborhood Story Project. Poor young people in a variety of neighborhoods in the city have told their own stories, described their lives from the inside, not as seen by more privileged people who are at a distance. This sort of exploration makes this world a better place. Writing, reading, and the teaching of writing is the very soul of civilized society. In my home in New Orleans I have a salon. Once a month people come and share their art—storytelling, poetry, history, architecture, music, painting—creative life and social life merge. This is, in part, a way for the artists young and old in the city, to bond. This is a civic function, also. It gives artists fellowship.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from the conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop?
I hope that attendees will come away with greater knowledge of approaches to speculative fiction, if they come to my workshop. Also, in general, I hope people will learn more about the practice of writing, and find out things they can share with others.

What does it mean for writers to "Network?" Any tips?
Real networking is the same as having a lot of genuine friends with whom you share a common interest and a common love. Writing is a form of communication, and if you communicate with other writers you are spending time with people who are really serious about saying what they mean. What better people to communicate with? It is a blessing to know writers and others in writing and publishing—this knowledge supports you. A “network,” is the group you are thinking about when you sit down to write—those you know will react, respond, understand, and help you with your writing. And, in turn, you will read and respond and help those who are part of your circle. The writers I know who have “burned out,” and stopped writing, are those who have isolated themselves from the community of writers, or somehow did not see the importance of the social context of their enterprise.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
Works of Shakespeare. Works of Jorge Luis Borges; works of Flannery O’Connor.

Do you read literary journals? What are some of your favorites?
Yes, I read literary journals. I read Callaloo. I read The New Orleans Review. I read Image Journal, and Parabola. In the past I have read Hunger Mountain, and Creative Nonfiction. I read the Oxford American.

Can writing be taught?
Many aspects of writing can be taught—technique, how to pace or organize a novel or short story, form and voice, grammar. This cannot be taught: desire to write, ambition to do as well as one can, yearning to do or say something on the page that is really worth saying, and saying well. These things come from the inside of a person and they cannot be taught. And they shouldn’t be. Nobody should become a writer unless she has a strong desire to lead the life. You can teach someone to write good sentences with no errors. You can’t teach them to write unique sentences, or to want to say something unique.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
I love Grace Paley and Carson McCullers.

Have you ever had writer’s block? What is one thing that helped you overcome it?
Yes, I have had writer’s block. Writer’s block says, nothing is worth saying, or what I have to say will never be good enough—this trips up a person before she even begins. Something else: endless revising of a single piece of writing is an advanced, and severe, form of writer’s block. If you know someone who has been writing the same novel for years and years and years, and not producing anything else—she has writer’s block. This has helped me with writer’s block: Working for a time in another art, such as painting where I am an amateur. Something that frees my brain and helps me drop my internal critic. What is nourishing is recovering the feeling of the naturalness of creative endeavor. Lucinda Williams has a song with the line, “You took my joy, I want it back.” That’s writer’s block. That’s the thing—you need the joy or it’s not worth doing, no matter the other rewards. Once you have your joy back, you can see your writing with fresh eyes.

Someone writes an un-authorized biography about your life. What would the title be?
She Meant It.

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Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference is now open.

 

Kim Wright is the author of The Unexpected Waltz (Gallery Books), Love In Mid Air (Grand Central), and the upcoming Take Me There, which will be published by Gallery Books next spring. She also writes nonfiction, specializing in the areas of food, wine, and travel, and has twice been the recipient of the Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing. Kim lives in Charlotte.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, Kim will lead a workshop titled "Structure: Four Ways to Build a Book" with Kim Boykin, Erika Marks, and Marybeth Whalen.

Structure: It's hard to talk about and therefore many writers avoid the scary subject, even though a sound structure is essential to the success of any novel. On this panel, four writers will share their own unique ways of building a book, from being a “pantser” (who flies by the seat of her pants) to a “plotter” who won't begin without a detailed outline, to all the possibilities between these two extremes. We'll also discuss the issues of whether each book demands its own structure, the challenge of revision, writing when you aren't sure what happens next, and whether or not the "film formula" really works when it comes to novels. You'll leave with a new set of tools to help you find the best structural approach to your next book.

Register now!

 

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
Make more of an effort to meet other writers. I stayed solitary far too long!

Did you have a teacher or mentor who had a big, positive impact on you?
Fred Leebron, who is now heading up the Queens MFA program.

Who is your literary hero?
Milton. He was blind and he came up with the best tactile descriptions!

If you could live in any literary world for the rest of your life, where would you find yourself?
The here and now. I'm not much for romanticizing the past or glorifying the future.

If you could have written one book that someone else wrote, which book would it be?
Sense and Sensibility.

Many writers are solitary creatures. Coming to an event like Fall Conference can be a little intimidating, navigating the exhibit hall and ballroom events. Any advice for working the room?
Start before you're in the room. The best friendships are begun in halls and elevators.

Who gave the best reading or talk you've ever been to? What made it so good?
I'll never forget a reading Carolyn Forché gave years ago in Wilmington.

Any advice for attendees who sign up for the Open Mic?
Opt to read less than you think you can comfortably cover in the time allotted and read slowly.

The city of Charlotte was founded on two established Native American trading routes. Now, of course, it's the second biggest banking center in the country. Fall Conference will boast an exhibit hall packed with vendors. How do you approach an exhibit hall at a conference such as this? To shop, to chat, or both?
I both shop and chat but I have to take it in small chunks. I find these experiences overwhelming.

They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but of course most of us do. What is one—or some—of your favorite book cover(s)?
I love the new Norton cover of A Scarlet Letter.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from the conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop?
We're talking about structure, which can be daunting. If they're stuck on their WIP, I hope they leave with practical ideas for revision.

What is your guilty pleasure read?
Mysteries, especially historical ones. And I love People Magazine!

What makes you cringe when you see it on the page?
Unconscious word repetition.

Caffeine of choice? (English Breakfast, Caramel macchiato, etc.)
Embarrassing so...Diet Coke.

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Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference is now open.

 

Morri Creech is the author of three collections of poetry: Paper Cathedrals (Kent State University Press, 2001), Field Knowledge (Waywiser, 2006), and The Sleep of Reason (Waywiser, 2013), which was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize. A recipient of NEA and Ruth Lilly Fellowships, as well as grants from the North Carolina and Louisiana Arts Councils, he is the Writer-in-Residence at Queens University of Charlotte.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, Morri will lead the Master Class in Poetry workshop. Officially titled "Formal Poetry," this class will consider the expressive possibilities of formal poetry, and participants will investigate how meter, rhyme, and fixed forms such as the sonnet and villanelle can help to generate new and exciting work. Morri will distribute examples, and the class will analyze the formal properties of works by established authors before writing their own poems. The goal is to have writers leave the workshop with the beginnings of at least one new poem. Register now!

 

If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
I’d like to be W. B. Yeats. I love the way he takes everything from his life—his spirituality, politics, friendships, love life, historical milieu—and turns it into poetry.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Well-crafted, intelligent, moving.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
Don’t bully the muse. In other words, try to figure out what the poem wants to say, not what you want it to say.

In 2013, Forbes named Charlotte among its list of Best Places for Business and Careers. What makes Charlotte such a vibrant place to visit and live?
Definitely the diversity of people here. I have friends who are glass artists, concrete artists, poets, computer designers—and who come from all over the place. Charlotte is a great nexus for meeting people with a wide range of interests. (The restaurants are great too.)

Why do you feel it's important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
Conferences like this give writers new strategies and techniques to work with, help polish their work, and save time on the learning curve, providing instruction on things that might take a writer years to figure out on their own.

Saturday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "Words in Civic Life." Does creative writing have a role to play outside the covers of a book?
Absolutely. Particularly poetry, which is an aural medium and can be shared through the spoken word—it’s not just the page that counts.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from the conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop?
I hope they will take away specific ideas for how to improve their poems, and new techniques to generate new material—skill in meter and form that perhaps they haven’t considered using before.

What does it mean for writers to "Network?" Any tips?
I don’t have any tips for this; I’m terrible at “networking.” But if you admire a person’s work, don’t be shy about reaching out to them. Several of my literary friendships spring from my e-mailing or writing poets whom I admire and striking up a conversation.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
Maybe Gulliver’s Travels. Or the Canterbury Tales.

Do you read literary journals? What are some of your favorites?
I don’t read a lot of journals, but I like Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, The Southwest Review, and Tin House.

Can writing be taught?
It can be shaped. And specific techniques—lineation, stanzaic structure, meter, rhyme, fixed forms, things like that—can definitely be taught.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
W. B. Yeats and W. H. Auden. In terms of contemporary poets, it would be Derek Mahon, Gjertrud Schnackenberg, Richard Wilbur, John Wood, and Anthony Hecht.

Have you ever had writer’s block? What is one thing that helped you overcome it?
I get writer’s block all the time. In fact, I have it now. The only thing for it is to keep pushing against the wall until the wall disappears. William Stafford used to say that when he couldn’t write well, he would “lower his standards.” That’s important: if you’re not willing to write badly, you won’t write well. Turn off the editor in your brain and just put something down. Don’t worry about the quality at first. That’s what revision is for. And sometimes you have to write badly just to clear the throat. The key is to write something.

Someone writes an un-authorized biography about your life. What would the title be?
A Cultivation of Obscurity.

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Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference is now open.

 

Cedric Tillman holds a BA in English from UNC-Charlotte and graduated from American University's Creative Writing MFA program. He is a Cave Canem fellow and a former Boston Review "Discovery" Contest semifinalist. Cedric's poems have appeared in several publications including Crosscut, Folio, The Drunken Boat, Kakalak, The Chemistry of Color, and Home Is Where: An Anthology of African American Poets From the Carolinas. In 2011, his debut collection was a semifinalist selection for the 42 Miles Press Poetry award; the manuscript, titled Lilies in the Valley, was published by Willow Books in 2013. He lives in Charlotte.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, Cedric will lead a poetry workshop titled "The Marrow: Cutting the Fat." Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life . . .” In this workshop, we will discuss how to get at the marrow of our poetry, and consider ways we can “rout” all that isn’t poetry―unless, of course, we wish to make a statement about what poetry can be. Specifically, we’ll discuss wordiness, the utility of reading your work aloud, and the extent to which word choice can (or ought to) be affected by prospective audiences. Register now! 

 

What are you reading right now?
Right now, I’m reading A Testament of Hope, a collection of MLK’s speeches and writings edited by James M. Washington. I’m also reading Derrick Harriell’s collection Cotton. I just finished Wendy S. Walters’ Troy, Michigan, and I highly recommend it.

Where is your favorite place to write?
I like to write in libraries, restaurants, and coffeehouses, but I write most productively in dimly lit areas; the ability to see other stuff is a distraction. I often go into my basement, where I have a lamp with these six tenacle-like bulb sockets that are gradually dying one by one. When one goes out I just move the bulb to the next one until I find one that works...in any case, the light from one bulb is as much as I want to have.

If you weren't a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
Probably something sports-related. I regret not trying to play football beyond sandlot. There really isn’t enough sports poetry, BTW. I need to get at it somehow. I’d love to be a GM of a basketball team.

Like many writers, I’d actually like to be more of a writer―I’m a very part-time writer with a full-time job. I also have what is almost certainly a romanticized idea of working in government in some role that would make me feel I was enhancing the quality of life of fellow citizens in some way. Teaching has always intrigued me but I learned quickly that doing it part-time and trying to juggle it with a full-time gig and a family wasn’t the ticket.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
I bring a few people with me whenever I write. I love Charles Bukowski’s audacity. His Last Night of the Earth completely blew me away, and not in that trite, b.s. manner we poets typically use the phrase “blew me away.” That audacity gave me license. And then I went to get an MFA where nothing he did would’ve passed muster―and so those impulses were reigned in, but his resistance to decorum pops up in my own work.

I love Gwendolyn Brooks’ elegance. I actually like her pre-60’s/Black Arts Movement stuff more, her more formal era where she managed to stuff subtle critique into sonnets, for example. I am very much a Hemingway fan; his use of implication is masterful, the way he manages to set moods without delineating with specifics. Cornelius Eady’s poetry works in this way for me too―not a lot of fancy verbal gymnastics―just careful word choice and a way of being accessible without being facile.

If you could switch places with one fictional character, who would it be?
I don’t get to nearly as much fiction as I’d like to. My gut, off-the-top-of-the-head response is Gatsby. He played himself in the Daisy situation, wanted too much too soon. Or perhaps, should’ve been contented with the “attention” he was getting. I could’ve shown him how to go about this thing. He was never going to take her from Tom’s money. Something about that story will always stick in my craw. If you’ve ever been the little guy, you want Gatsby to win.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from Fall Conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop?
My workshop will center on issues around editing, such as the utility of reading what you believe to be finished work aloud to yourself and avoiding wordiness. I hope attendees come away with a stronger sensitivity to redundancy, more of an ability to see the points in a poem at which they were striving to have something they could call a poem at the expense of the poetry. We are guilty sometimes of just wanting to use more vertical lines space on a page so we feel like we wrote a poem. Often the real poem is there and there’s just fat around the pith.

Charlotte is known as both "The Queen City" and "The Hornet's Nest." Does one of those nicknames ring more true for you than the other?
I refer to Charlotte as “The QC.” That’s what I’ll always use. The city’s prominence in banking and financial services brings to mind power and prestige and from there it’s not a big leap to associate those characteristics with royalty―so the name has some resonance today beyond its original derivation from Queen Charlotte. I’m so glad we have the Hornets back. It’s good to have the team’s name reunited with the Revolutionary War-era history of the area. I hope the corporate moniker doesn’t prevent us from going back to referring to our stadium (now Time Warner Arena) as “The Hive” instead of “The Cable Box,” but outside of sports this is “The QC.” Most importantly, “QC” is more compact and sounds cooler.

A panel on Sunday is titled, "The Many Paths to Publication." What's the first thing you ever published?
The first thing I ever published (other than one of those contests I entered in high school where you submit and everyone gets published that pays) was a poem called “Read This Back.” It was published in an anthology of poets from the Carolinas called Kakalak, in 2006. A friend from work saw an ad for submissions in Creative Loafing and suggested it to me. My book, Lilies in the Valley, came about through a chance meeting of a reader for Willow Books at a Cave Canem Foundation writing conference. She forwarded my manuscript to the poetry editor, Randall Horton. I’d met Randall at the 2009 Cave Canem Workshop but didn’t know anything about Willow. It took a lot of revision and a year and a half or so to get the go-ahead but I’m thrilled that Willow gave me a shot.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Accessible, emotional, inimitable.

What is the most frustrating or rewarding part of the writing process?
It usually takes me a long time to come up with something I feel good about sharing with people. It’s finding the time to put in the time you know you’ll have to put in to get something you’re happy with that’s most frustrating. The problem is you’re never happy or content until you make that time and flesh out the idea(s) in your head, so there’s always a nagging sensation of guilt and responsibility lingering around every spare moment.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
Stay in your lane. You can branch out but don’t ever think your experiences and your background is unworthy of being elevated in importance or illuminated by writing. Don’t let people make you feel that way, and don’t let you make you feel that way. It’s OK that your story isn’t their story―your story is somebody’s story, and a lot of people who won’t speak for themselves, who aren’t moved to put pen to pad won’t see themselves if you don’t declare that people like you and people like them exist.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
The Bible. I can think of several books I think every American should read (The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. DuBois, The Miseducation of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson, The Debt by Randall Robinson) but it’s hard to think of more than the one that I’d recommend to the world.

Describe your ideal literary festival. Who would give the keynote address? Who would be the featured readers? What else?
I’ll stick to the living on this one, on the off chance that my wildest dream comes true. The mélange of styles and spirits would be CRAZY! (commencing name drop…) On the poetry side I’d have so much of my Cave Canem people that it’d probably resemble another one of its workshop retreats. I’d have people I know and people I don’t know whose work I admire from afar. Right now I’m thinking Cornelius Eady and Colleen McElroy and Derrick Harriell and Wendy Walters and Brian Gilmore and L. Lamar Wilson and Joseph Ross and Alan King and Derrick Brown. People from grad school like Sandra Beasley, Venus Thrash, Ebony Golden, Myra Sklarew. Pat Buchanan (yes, that Pat Buchanan―rough segue, huh?). Lisa Schamess and Edward P. Jones to rep for fiction. I’d have Timothy Keller, who’s book The Reason for God might be the second-most important book I’ve ever read, be the keynote. Just a bunch of talented, funny, thoughtful, serious spirits. Maybe a two/three day deal with presentations and Q&As and small groups. A little something for everyone.

Do you steal hotel pens?
Not without a complete absence of guilt. It’s for a good cause.

***

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference is now open.

 

Cynthia Lewis has been teaching Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, and creative nonfiction at Davidson College since 1980. Her reported essays concern American culture, including such topics as American women bodybuilders, spousal murder, professional gambling in Las Vegas, women’s obsession with shoes, and the world of Southern debutantes. Her nonfiction has been published in Southern Cultures, The Antioch Review, The Massachusetts Review, Shenandoah, Charlotte Magazine, and elsewhere. Three of her personal essays have been included by the editor of The Best American Essays on the “Notable Essays” list and another has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is currently finishing a book about sports and Shakespeare.

Cynthia will lead the Creative Nonfiction Master Class at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference. Registration is now open!

After the initial drafting is complete, a writer may have lost valuable objectivity on the manuscript. The substance of this workshop will be strategies for recovering and sustaining such objectivity on one’s own work once the initial drafting is done. We’ll focus on how to take a draft to the next level, revising and polishing it for publication. We’ll discuss issues large and small—from voice, point of view, narrative arc, organization, scene-setting, and characterization to such concerns of line-editing as eliminating wordiness, achieving stylistic elegance, and correcting grammar. Each participant will submit a portion of a draft that represents one of the following: a lead, a conclusion, a point of crisis or transition—in other words, a crucial passage that can make or break a whole piece. We’ll workshop every submission, attending particularly to how each writer’s choices might affect an audience.

 

If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
Andrew Marvell (then I could get to the bottom of his ambiguous poems).

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
My next book (versus the one after that): engaging, imaginative, edifying.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
You’ll get rejected far more often than you’ll be accepted. It’s not personal. Try to learn what you can from rejection and not let it erode your morale. The same piece of writing that one editor / reader doesn’t embrace may be the very piece that another editor / reader will love. You’re making a match; you may need to date around for a while before you find the “right one.” If so, it isn’t your fault; it’s a process.

In 2013, Forbes named Charlotte among its list of Best Places for Business and Careers. What makes Charlotte such a vibrant place to visit and live?
This was the last question I answered because it was the hardest. I’m not sure that being a “best place for business and careers” is quite the same as “vibrant,” a word that, to me, suggests interesting, vital culture. Certainly Charlotte has its cultural ambitions and a good deal to offer by way of the arts, including, but not limited to, excellent museums, like the Bechtler, Mint, and Gantt Center; the world-class North Carolina Dance Theater; a symphony and opera company; and some theater. But the same people who benefit from the monetary wealth in Charlotte aren’t necessarily supporting the wealth of culture here. The closing of the Charlotte Repertory Theatre is a case in point, and the financial struggles of the NCDT, the symphony, and the Arts and Science Council repeatedly point out the divide in Charlotte between those who are in the city to make a good living and those who want to live well in the sense of supporting the city's culture.

Why do you feel it's important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
As an intensely private activity, writing can make you lose your objectivity on yourself and your work. Periodically joining a group of people who are also writers helps you step outside of your head and your narrow work and see it as others see it—an invaluable gift.

Saturday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "Words in Civic Life." Does creative writing have a role to play outside the covers of a book?
Oh my goodness, absolutely! Shelley called poets the “unacknowledged legislators of the world.” You don’t have to go that far to accept that leaders often lead through language and communities form around it.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from the conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop?
Confidence in their work, seasoned by trust in the advice offered by others in their writing community.

What does it mean for writers to "Network?" Any tips?
For some writers, it means to hustle constantly, always trying to connect and make inroads in the publishing world. I'm probably far less active at and knowledgeable about networking than I should be and certainly than many of my peers, especially younger writers, who are savvy about using social media to promote their work.

My own approach to networking is, at the very least, includes following up on invitations to submit or to explore opportunities. Beyond that, I'm not above asking questions that some people might consider forward or checking in with people who might be able to help me if they choose to. I found my agent by writing back to an agent who had rejected my project because he didn't feel he knew enough about the area; when I asked him if he knew of another agent who would know about it, he responded that, although he usually doesn't recommend other agents (for obvious reasons), he thought maybe Mr. X would be interested (he was). People you ask for a favor can always say "no," but if you don't ask, you'll never get their help or advice. By the same token, I try to help writers when they come to me. No telling when such kindness will circle back to me; besides, it's the right thing to do.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
A college edition of the complete works of Shakespeare.

Do you read literary journals? What are some of your favorites?
I wish I read more. I read the New Yorker pretty religiously, as it abounds in the kind of writing I respond and aspire to. Beyond that, I admire the Kenyon Review, Shenandoah, Southern Cultures, and many others.

Can writing be taught?
When I started out as a college writing teacher thirty-three years ago, I was skeptical that writing could be taught. All these years later, I now absolutely believe it can be. It’s a set of skills, and skills can certainly be taught.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
Richard Lanham, author of Longman Guide to Revising Prose.

Have you ever had writer’s block? What is one thing that helped you overcome it?
Yes, I have. The one thing that helped me overcome it was to deny its power over me by continuing to write.

Someone writes an un-authorized biography about your life. What would the title be?
Portrait of a Serene Bitch-Goddess. (Am I allowed to say that?)

***

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference is now open.

 

The North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference offers something for almost every writer, at any level of skill or experience.

Your best route to getting the most out of the Network’s 2014 Fall Conference depends on where you are right now as a writer, where you want to go as a writer, and how you want to get from here to there.

We hope these suggestions will help you find the offerings you need the most.

 

ARE YOU A NOVICE WRITER?
Are you a newcomer to the literary neighborhood? Have you just begun to write creatively, with the goal of getting published? Have you submitted only a few pieces so far, or nothing at all? Is this your first writers’ conference? Are you still not quite ready to think of yourself as a writer?

Don’t be shy; every single person at the Fall Conference either is or was a novice at one point, too.

As a novice, though, you probably ought to concentrate on your craft, honing your work to its finest quality, before you worry too much about getting it published.

In fact, get a head start before you come to the conference. Join the Network, if you haven’t already, and explore our website—features, articles, back issues of our newsletters—to learn more about the writing business.

For a thorough introduction to the business side, from beginning to end, we especially recommend this pair of articles: one on publishing by Betsy Thorpe (who’ll co-lead a workshop on “The Art of the Pitch,” and take part in the Fall Conference Critique Service), and one on bookselling by NCWN trustee Nicki Leone.

Some basic research before the conference will save you some time and mental energy, so you and your fellow registrants can get the most value out of your workshops.

Some good workshop options for novice writers include Chantel Acevedo’s “All Shapes and Sizes: A Workshop on Novel Structure”; “Poetry 101” with Anthony S. Abbott; and “First Impressions in the First Few Pages” with Sarah Creech.

Your choices may vary depending on your preferred genre, but we encourage you to use the Fall Conference to dabble in other genres. You may surprise yourself.

And don’t forget to sign up for the Open Mic Readings on Saturday night. You need the practice, and we want to hear you.

 

 

ARE YOU AN EMERGING WRITER?
Do you have a few publications to your credit, or an established track record of submissions? Are you a familiar face at writers’ gatherings? Are you working on a book-length project?

You may be ready to apply to one of the Master Classes, which admit only the first 16 qualified registrants to each class, and will take up all three of your Saturday workshop sessions.

Or, you may want to mix some of the craft workshops—maybe “Poetry and Time” with Julie Funderburk; “Making Their Stories Your Own” with Rebecca McClanahan; or Zelda Lockhart’s “The Mirror Exercise: Producing a Whole Short Work in Less Than an Hour”—with some of the appropriate business-of-writing workshops like Sunday’s panel discussion on “The Many Paths to Publication” with Kim Boykin, John Hartness, and Karon Luddy.

Consider sending in a short story or several of your poems to our Critique Service, and let an experienced editor tell you what works, and what doesn’t.

And don’t forget to sign up for the Open Mic Readings on Saturday night. You need the practice, and we want to hear you.

 

ARE YOU AN EXPERIENCED WRITER?
Have you finished a book-length manuscript (or at least a first draft), or do you have enough poems to think about a collection?

You may still want to apply for one of the three Master ClassesCreative Nonfiction with Cynthia Lewis, Fiction with Aaron Gwyn, or Poetry with Morri Creech—if you think you need a little more know-how to make your manuscript the best it can be.

Or you may be ready to concentrate on the “business of writing” workshops: “The Art of the Pitch” with Betsy Thorpe and Carin Siegfried; “Crafting Your Message: Beginning an Interactive Publicity Campaign” with Priscilla Goudreau-Santos; “The Many Paths to Publication” panel discussion; maybe even “Creating a Poetry Community” with Scott Owens and Jonathan K. Rice.

You should sign up for the Manuscript Mart, and sit down with an agent who can tell you what works, what doesn’t, and what different publishers are looking for.

And don’t forget to sign up for the Open Mic Readings on Saturday night. You need the practice, and we want to hear you.

 

ARE YOU AN AUTHOR?
Do you have a book out, or on its way? Are you coming to the conference mostly to brag?

Then, by all means, brag away! We want you to. We hope we helped you along the way. Drop off 5 copies of your published book at the registration table, so the Network can sell them for you on consignment during the conference.

Sign up for whichever workshops interest you. Have fun. See old friends. Make new ones. Be nice to those novice writers, since you were there once yourself.

Register for the Marketing Mart, so you can get some tips on how to find readers for your book (a job that’s falling to authors more and more these days). Come to the Brilliant at Breakfast panel discussions to learn more about how writers are contributing to their communities, and what the latest trends in the book
business are.

And don’t forget to sign up for the Open Mic Readings on Saturday night. You need the practice, and we want to hear you.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference is now open.

 

CHARLOTTE—Charlotte is known as “The Queen City,” and registrants of the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2014 Fall Conference can expect a royal welcome November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel. Registration is now open.

Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities including a luncheon and a dinner banquet with readings, a keynote address, workshop tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and the opportunity for one-on-one manuscript critiques with editors or agents. Conference faculty include professional writers from North Carolina and beyond.

Allan Gurganus, author of the New York Times bestselling Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and, most recently, Local Souls, will give the keynote address. Born in Rocky Mount, Gurganus is a Guggenheim Fellow, a PEN-Faulkner finalist, and the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Morri Creech will lead the Master Class in Poetry. Creech's third collection of poems, The Sleep of Reason, is a 2014 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Poetry. He is the Writer-in-Residence at Queens University of Charlotte, where he teaches courses in both the undergraduate creative writing program and in the low residency MFA program.

Aaron Gwyn will lead the Master Class in Fiction. Gwyn, an associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, is the author of a story collection and two novels, including most recently Wynne’s War.

Cynthia Lewis will lead the Master Class in Creative Nonfiction. She has taught at Davidson College since 1980 and is the Charles A. Dana Professor of English. Her creative nonfiction includes both reportage on American culture and personal narrative, and she has published essays on such diverse topics as serial bomber Eric Rudolph, premeditated spousal murder, American women bodybuilders, women's love of shoes, and kissing.

From Saturday’s “Brilliant at Breakfast” panel discussion titled “Words in Civic Life” to Sunday’s panel discussion “Creating a Poetry Community,” the 2014 Fall Conference offers ample opportunities for writers of all levels of skill and experience to build their own communities and support networks and, of course, have fun. The inimitable Wilton Barnhardt, author—most recently—of the novel Lookaway, Lookaway, will speak during the Network Banquet on Saturday night and lead a fiction workshop.

Other fiction workshops will be led by Chantel Acevedo, Sarah Creech, Moira Crone, and A.J. Hartley, who will focus on Y.A. fiction.

Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina’s seventh Poet Laureate, will read during the luncheon on Saturday. He fronts a stellar lineup of faculty poets including Julie Funderburk, Cedric Tillman, and Alan Michael Parker whose poetry collection, Long Division, won the 2012 NC Book Award.

Registrants looking to learn more about how the publishing industry works can look forward to the “The Art of the Pitch,” led by Carin Siegfried and Betsy Thorpe. Priscilla Goudreau-Santos will lead a Business of Writing Workshop, while Kim Boykin, John Hartness, and Karon Luddy will sit on a panel titled “The Many Paths to Publication.” The veritable smorgasbord of class offerings doesn’t stop there: Amy Rogers will teach “Food Writing,” Rebecca McClanahan will lead the all-genre “Making Their Stories Your Own,” and Zelda Lockhart will lead the all-genre "The Mirror Exercise: Producing a Whole Short Work in Less Than an Hour." Scott Owens and Jonathan K. Rice, both hosts of long-running monthly open mic events, will discuss “How to Build a Poetry Community.”

As always, the Manuscript Mart, Marketing Mart, and Critique Service are available to those who pre-register. And the Network will again offer the Mary Belle Campbell Scholarship, which sends two poets who teach full-time to the Fall Conference.

Fall Conference sponsors include Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council, Charlotte Magazine, Alice Osborn (www.aliceosborn.com), Al Manning, and the North Carolina Arts Council.

Registration for NCWN’s 2014 Fall Conference is now open.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages
of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches by Renea Winchester

Mercer University Press
$21.00, hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-881465044
September, 2014
Nonfiction
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

Tucked behind a magnolia tree on a busy Georgia road is a magical place—a simple country farm, unchanged by time. On this little strip of land, chickens scratch greetings and goats bleat hello. Sweet yellow corn grows tall, and curly bean vines reach for the sky. A burly tractor and a fifty-year-old Chevy wait inside the shed, ready for action. For 82-year-old Billy Albertson, his farm reflects a time before folks were hurried, or technology ruled our lives. Families grew gardens and feasted on fresh vegetables, adults spent time on front porches comparing stories, and children scampered barefoot through the grass waiting their turn at the hand-cranked ice cream freezer. Spending time with friends on the farm is Billy's life. Here you don't have to be a gardener or blood kin to be family.

Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches is rich with local history. Filled with stories about visits from neighbors, friends, and visitors from as far away as Puerto Rico, Farming captures the best part of the South . . . the small-town community feel that still exists if you take the time to find it. Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches is chocked full of easy-to-follow recipes and tips that will benefit both the inexperienced and veteran gardener. In short, it is a love letter, a Southern-Style “Thank You” to the people who make this area one of the best places in the world to call home.

Renea Winchester is the daughter of Appalachia. She is passionate about literacy and growing heritage flowers and vegetables. She rescues flowers from development and distributes them throughout the community. She grows her great-grandfather’s heritage corn and personally grinds it into cornmeal. Recently she raised money to help preserve the historic Monteith Farmhouse in Dillsboro, NC. Her writing has won many awards including the Wilma Dykeman Appalachian Heritage, and the Denny Plattner award. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned a nomination for the prestigious Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance Award. Farming features discussion questions for book clubs.

 

My Father Moves Through Time Like a Dirigible by Gregg Cusick

Livingston Press
$17.95, paperback / $30.00, hardcover
ISBN: 978-1604891393
October, 2014
Fiction: Short Stories
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

"Gregg Cusick's prose reaches a zenith few fiction writers ever achieve: the ability to make the reader ponder both the internal and external intricacies of the human condition."
—Lorian Hemingway, author of Walk on Water

"My Father Moves Through Time Like a Dirigible is the most rewarding collection of new fiction I have read in years."
—Lee Smith, author of Fair and Tender Ladies

"I want to own the space-time continuum clock that ticks inside Gregg Cusick's brain.... This is one fine collection of smart, irresistible stories, written by a brilliant storyteller."
—George Singleton, author of Between Wrecks

A small town suicide ripples through the lives of a series of acquaintances. An aging professor wavers before his class while reliving the sinking of his WWII troopship where hundreds perished. A middle-aged woman confronts her dying abuser of thirty years before. And in the title story, an old man recalls his boyhood view of his own father and the great rigid airship Shenandoah that passed over hours before its dramatic crash. In all the stories in this debut collection, ordinary, yet remarkable individuals face common human challenges in original, often surprising ways.

Over the years, Gregg Cusick has supported his writing habit through work as a furniture mover, English teacher, paralegal, construction worker, retail manager, among others. His fiction has appeared in more than two dozen journals and has won numerous awards, including the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition and The Florida Review Editor’s Prize, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He holds a Master’s in English/Creative Writing from North Carolina State University and lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he bartends and tutors literacy. He can be contacted at greggcusick.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staring the Red Earth Down by Brent Martin

Red Bird Chapbooks
$12.00, paperback
January, 2014
Poetry
Available from the publisher

“Staring the red earth down,” Brent Martin writes at the end of his poem “Man Pulling Cable”—it’s what “the spectral mountains” where he lives and writes in the Southern Appalachians, do. At the end of another, “the hand fades quickly with moisture and light.” Between these two lines lies a breadth and depth of reach, in insight, perception and feeling—all enfolded in a keen sense of place entwined with peoples’ lives; an entanglement of a land and its people—often troubled, misused, forgotten, but where “songs buried now silent, / but [still are] willing and begging to be sung.”

Stopped and waiting in line along a mountain highway by a road crew laying cable, all disgusted in their tedious work “cursing their elsewhere version of a future” except for one man grappling the cable “strong and satisfied,” as if trying to birth “some breeched infernal new world,” the poet notices what looks down in judgement on all this: “the spectral mountains / staring the red earth down.”

An old woman watches television in “her beat up house trailer/ the home old man Passmore built / next door sinking into the weeds” as the poet wanders her winter fields looking for pot shards—remnants of a lost past. In town a homeless man sells weeds, bouquets of common clover he’s pulled from cracks in the sidewalk, holding out a bouquet “so delicately he could be holding a baby,” saying “this one is called Everyday People.”

Walking old Indian mounds, two friends recite together Robinson Jeffers’ defiant poem “Shine, Perishing Republic,” “his hand slapping my back for emphasis, / where water now flows in rivulets / down upon the abandoned rail lines...” Such poems take us lovingly to a place most of us already know within ourselves—the place where we struggle to come to terms with circumstances of loss, impending change, a world in the harsh throes of modernity, and yet, unaccountably, still nascent with hope.

Poem after poem teases out the worn places in the heart, the patches sewn in for repair with the broken threads that connect us to a truth echoing always in the land. Even in an airport, one of the most placeless and alienating places on earth, the stranded poet, in “The Love Trial of Virgie Arthur,” finds respite gazing at an ubiquitous tv monitor watching CNN while outside “...starlings fight for scraps / on the empty winter runway.”

Downriver

The Ferryman tells me to fish downriver,
the crusty bastard, standing on his porch
cursing everything upstream.

He curses the town a while,
then he curses its conservative
church going citizens,

and as he is waving like the Queen
as I depart in my little red boat,
he tells me that Jimmy Sang

has been catching redeyes in the evening,
smallmouth in the afternoon.

You gotta Fish them v’s though, the spot where the water
funnels through them old fish weirs.

Old angry and happy ferryman
with your bright river rolling on
birthing your final somber days.

Downriver, he says again, downriver.
Fish them v’s and to hell with upstream.

This ferryman is a crotchety short-tempered descendant of Charon, resentful and cynical in his displacement from his mythical time—as we all are now in our “little red boat[s]” of what passes for modernity. The land, always the land—its mountains, its history, all speak together in these poems as a Greek chorus. Following the rich thematic strand of loss and redemption in Southern storytelling, they make clear how place is pivotal, how we are wedded to place whether we wish it or not, how it insists we must come to terms with where in particular we are, and that when we don’t nature maintains a voice to admonish us.

In “Snowbird” the poet lays out what is permitted to him to speak of in his daily work day life—“ecosystem resources,” and of what he is not—the sacredness of coyote bones that lay claim upon this place “as legitimate as the stains of cities / which line the mountain’s brow.”

Romantic poetry brought forth nature poetry in the nineteenth century, and blossomed in the late twentieth century into ecopoetics. It is a long tradition now. It has always maintained a critique of modernity. Mr. Martin’s work brings an important contribution to this literature of bringing us intimately close to the crisis of our time—the ecotone, the edge habitat between our human lives and culture and the nature that makes a place for us. As such they are deeply political and moral. Through these poems an important collaborating voice comes forth to sing a song “willing and begging to be sung.” It is the way Mitchell Lick speaking “in splintered tongues of white” makes irrelevant the language of “ecosystem services” and such human talk finally “fades quickly with moisture and light.”

Brent Martin is a writer, folk artist, historian, and Southeast Regional Director for The Wilderness Society. His poems and essays have been published in the North Carolina Literary Review, Pisgah Review, Tar River Poetry, Eco Journal, Chattahoochee Review, and elsewhere. His work focuses on the people and land of his native south. Staring the Red Earth Down is his third book of poetry. He lives with his partner, singer-songwriter Angela-Faye Martin, in Western North Carolina's historic Cowee community.

Don't Split the Pole: Tales of Down-Home Folk Wisdom by Eleanora E. Tate

iUniverse
$10.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1- 4917-3267- 0
May, 2014
Fiction
Available at www.Amazon.com

Don't Split the Pole: Tales of Down-Home Folk Wisdom has been re-issued! These seven lively stories, based on popular sayings and proverbs, have their own unique spin and, according to Publishers Weekly in its starred review, "are unconventional and exuberant." These stories are for old and young, teachers, folklorists, storytellers, writers developing story technique, and anyone else looking for a good read.

To read an interview between Ms. Tate and author Tamera Will Wissinger, click here.

To read an interview between Ms. Tate and author Kelly Starling Lyons, click here.

Eleanora E. Tate is also the author of The Secret of Gumbo Grove; Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!; A Blessing in Disguise; The Minstrel's Melody; Front Porch Stories at the One-Room School; African American Musicians; Retold African Myths; To Be Free; and Celeste's Harlem Renaissance. Her book Just an Overnight Guest was adapted into an award-winning television film. She has written numerous stories and essays for additional short story collections and magazines, including American Girl and Scholastic Storyworks. She is on the faculty of the Hamline University (St. Paul, MN) Creative Writing Program in its masters degree seeking program "Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults." Her latest essay, "Harking Back to Hargett Street," joins twenty-six other North Carolina writers in the popular anthology Twenty-seven Views of Raleigh (Eno Publishers, 2013).

 

The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan

Sourcebooks
$24.99, hardcover / $13.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-492603832
August, 2014
Fiction: Historical
Available at your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

"A thoughtful look at a turning point in world history... Helen is a sympathetic and complicated main character. Her strengths and weaknesses keep the reader's attention, making this a worthwhile read."
Kirkus

"Reminiscent of Jacqueline Winspear's Maise Dobbs books without the mystery, this novel explores the complications involved when war becomes personal. Jordan builds empathetic characters and an intriguing story."
Library Journal

"Love in a time of war....surely there is no more compelling or romantic theme in all of literature Yet this fine debut novel appeals to the brain as well as the heart. Allegra Jordan brings us historical fiction at its best."
—Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Guests on Earth and The Last Girls

In this enthralling story of love, loss, and divided loyalties, two students fall in love on the eve of WWI and must face a world at war—from opposing sides.

Cambridge, MA, 1914: Helen Windship Brooks, the precocious daughter of the prestigious Boston family, is struggling to find herself at the renowned Harvard-Radcliffe university when carefree British playboy, Riley Spencer, and his brooding German poet-cousin, Wils Brandl, burst into her sheltered world. As Wils quietly helps the beautiful, spirited Helen navigate Harvard, they fall for each other against a backdrop of tyrannical professors, intellectual debates, and secluded boat rides on the Charles River.

But with foreign tensions mounting and the country teetering on the brink of World War I, German-born Wils finds his future at Harvard—and in America—increasingly in danger. When both cousins are called to fight on opposing sides of the same war, Helen must decide if she is ready to fight her own battle for what she loves most.

Based on the true story behind a mysterious and controversial World War I memorial at this world-famous university, The End of Innocence sweeps readers from the elaborate elegance of Boston's high society to Harvard's hallowed halls to Belgium's war-ravaged battlefields, offering a powerful and poignant vision of love and hope in the midst of a violent, broken world.

Allegra Jordan is an author and innovation consultant. She led marketing at USAToday.com, handled crisis communications for the Enron investigation, co-developed a Google Glass app, and has taught innovation in sixteen countries on five continents. Her articles, cases, and book reviews have appeared in USA Today, TEDx, and in publications by Duke, Harvard, and UT-Austin. She curates a top-ranked reconciliation poetry website. A graduate with honors of Harvard Business School, she has been named a top executive under 40 in Austin, Texas, and Birmingham, Alabama. The End of Innocence is her debut novel. (Formerly HARVARD 1914, the work was acquired by Sourcebooks, edited, and new material added.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Steal Away by Shelby Stephenson

Jacar Press
$10.95, paperback
July, 2014
Poetry
Available from the publisher

An intimate, tender and lyrical chapbook that looks back at a childhood, where friendship, family, and slavery intersect. These poems ponder the conflicted emotions, from joy to sorrow, that come from meditating on one’s legacy.

Shelby Stephenson is a 2014 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. He has published many collections of poems, plus the poetic documentary Plankhouse (with photos by Roger Manley). Shelby is former editor of Pembroke Magazine. His Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize, judged by Allen Grossman. Stephenson’s latest collection, The Hunger of Freedom (2014), is from Red Dashboard (www.reddashboard.com). Shelby's website is Shelbystephenson.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How We Came Upon the Colony by Ross White

Unicorn Press
$10, paperback / $18, hardcover
ISBN: 0-87775-932-4
October, 2014
Poetry
Available from the publisher

“This is one of the most substantial chapbooks I’ve ever read. In only seventeen poems, Ross White guides his readers to a colony of the imagination—a world of vivid and coolly unsettling words—that is timeless yet contemporary, specific in detail yet mysterious in design, paradisiacal yet troubled. He is a poet of great intelligence and wit and precision, and he commands an impressive range of forms and modes while sustaining a lucid unity of tone and voice. How We Came Upon the Colony is a powerful, darkly funny, refreshingly un-self-centered, humane, and deeply satisfying work from one of our very best young writers and editors.”
—Michael McFee, author of That Was Oasis and The Smallest Talk

How We Came Upon the Colony asks just what histories rest in the background. It further interrogates the hierarchies of those histories. In reading this book we are travelers moving through eras and between various sites of cultural confrontation, from Rome to the Caribbean to the public schools of North Carolina where we are met with commentary from the Patron Saint of Teachers and Singers to the Colonial Governor of the Bahamas. White is a writer who doesn’t just value his own story, but can connect the personal to the collective in a way that illuminates both. Noting, ‘What care we take not to disturb the albatross,’ White then goes on to ruffle the antique feathers of a bird that in our narratives takes on the sojourner’s longings and woes like a sin eater. If this book is any indication, we can expect White to continue to write poems that soothe and rile and ultimately provide us with a numinous experience. How curious that in maturity the albatross is compelled to return to its colony of origin. White in this compassionate and compelling premiere looks bravely back to draw us forward.”
—Vievee Francis, author of Horse in the Dark and Blue-Tail Fly

Ross White’s poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2012, New England Review, Poetry Daily, and The Southern Review, among others. With Matthew Olzmann, he edited Another & Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series (Bull City Press, 2012). He is a graduate of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers and has received scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeding the Light by Jaki Shelton Green

Jacar Press
$10.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-0-989795234
July, 2014
Poetry
Available from the publisher

“Rooted in hypnagogic logic and deeply seated in the tradition of Jayne Cortez, Quincy Troupe, and Ntozake Shange, Jaki Shelton Green’s verse narratives pay homage to the orphic ethos of the mythmaking South with all the viscous verve of Van Gogh with a palette of syllables, images, and words blurring through our senses like the thick, sleek wax of magnolia leaves. Her images conjure cultural beauty from a world-weary—yet ecstatic—kaleidoscopic lens while sustaining a pained relevance that serves up love from every angle of human anguish: the forced marriage of a child bride; memories of grandmothers and mentors, praiseworthy and proud. In Feeding the Light, Jaki Shelton Green captivates with a global vision. Her poems are totems and tomes; they are percussive, convulsive, and constructive.”
—Tony Medina, author of Broke Baroque, The President Looks Like Me & Other Poems, and An Onion of Wars

Jaki Shelton Green is a writer and activist. She received the North Carolina Award for Poetry in 2003. She has published four books of poetry through Carolina Wren Press: Dead on Arrival (1977, and reprinted in 1983 and 1996), Conjure Blues (1996), singing a tree into dance (2003), and Breath of the Song: New and Selected Poems (2005). Her works have been choreographed and performed by many renowned dance companies. She is a lifelong human services advocate; she has worked with Legal Services, and on issues such as domestic violence. She is an advocate for women, children and the mentally ill. Additionally, she has used poetry and art as a healing and empowerment tool for disenfranchised populations such as the homeless, the newly literate, and incarcerated women. She was the 2009 Piedmont Laureate, and lives in Mebane.

She will be inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in October, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Committee on Town Happiness by Alan Michael Parker

Dzanc Books
$14.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1938103803
June, 2014
Fiction
Available at your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

"Smart and funny and oddly touching and ravishingly beautiful, The Committee on Town Happiness is typical of Alan Michael Parker in effect but sui generis in form. Some will think of this as a collection of cutting-edge stories. Some will see it as a kind of pointillist novel. Whatever. It’s a work of narrative genius."
—Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

"Alan Michael Parker’s inventive and deeply felt novel touches on both the absurdity and sublimity of small town life. These ninety-nine linked stories skip from funny to sad and back again with brilliant economy and deadpan wit."
—Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation

"These ninety-nine stories are 99 percent heartbreaking. The Committee on Town Happiness is also hilarious, beautiful, bold. I love Alan Michael Parker's mythic kindness and vision."
—Kate Bernheimer, author of Horse, Flower, Bird

The Committee on Town Happiness consists of ninety-nine linked stories about disappearing townsfolk. Air balloons are launched to search for the missing, galas proliferate, laws are imposed ad absurdum, and a guerilla group forms as the Committee shapes the future of small-town America in this biting examination of modern bureaucracy.

Alan Michael Parker will lead the workshop, "Where Am I in History? The Poet’s Dilemma" at the NCWN 2014 Fall Conference. He is the author of eight collections of poems, including his most recent, Long Division, which won the 2012 North Carolina Book Award. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including three Pushcart Prizes, the Fineline Prize from the Mid-American Review, the 2013 and 2014 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition Awards, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. His 2011 novel, Whale Man, was shortlisted for the 2011 ForeWord Reviews' "Book of the Year Award" in the category of Literary Fiction. He is also the author of the novel Cry Uncle. Since 1998, he has taught at Davidson College, where he was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in 2007; in 2012, he was named Douglas C. Houchens Professor of English. He also teaches in the University of Tampa Low-Residency M.F.A. program, where he works with graduate student writers in both poetry and fiction. He lives in Davidson with his wife, the artist Felicia van Bork, and her Pecha Kucha alter ego, Candi Parker.

 

 

Peter MakuckPeter Makuck grew up in New England and graduated from St. Francis College in Maine where he majored in French and English. He lives on Bogue Banks, one of North Carolina’s barrier islands. His Long Lens: New & Selected Poems was published in 2010 by BOA Editions and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In April, Syracuse University Press released a third collection of short stories, Allegiance and Betrayal. His poems and stories, essays and reviews have appeared in The Nation, The Gettysburg Review, The Hudson Review, Poetry, The Sewanee Review, Yale Review, and others. He is Distinguished Professor emeritus from East Carolina University, where he founded and edited Tar River Poetry from 1978 to 2006.

Peter will lead the Master Class in Poetry at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference. This class will consider a range of questions that writers must ask themselves before they consider a poem to be “finished.” Among other things, we will consider imagery, structure, line-breaks, sonic-devices, tone, setting, speaker, etc. We will also look at several kinds of poems—letter, list, object, place, persona, and how-to. Peter will distribute examples. The goal is to have writers leave the workshop with the beginnings of at least one new poem.

 

What was your favorite book as a child?
Read no books as a child. As a teen, I read fishing and hunting magazines. No books. I faked my way through high school, and didn’t get hooked on reading until my freshman English class in college. William Faulkner’s short story “Barn Burning” turned me into an addicted reader. Moral: never too late.

If you weren’t a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
My father had a service station and I loved working on cars, especially my own high-powered junker. My uncle had a tavern. At this stage of the game, I think I’d rather be a bartender.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wished they had?
Well, Saul Bellow said that a writer is primarily a reader moved to emulation. So read, read closely, and reread, and don’t be afraid to steal. An interviewer once told Faulkner that there were remarkable similarities between some of Conrad’s work and his own. Faulkner replied that he had stolen from Conrad, Dostoyevsky, Dickens, Tolstoy, and many more. Then concluded: “And I’d steal from you too if you were a writer.”

Any memorable rejections?
Yes, George Core at The Sewanee Review turned down a short story years ago, one of my very first. In his letter he said the story needed one more scene of about two or three pages for structural balance. And told me where the scene should be. When I reread the story, I realized he was dead on the money. I added a scene of three pages, sent it back, and he accepted it. Only my second story publication. He’s an incredibly generous editor.

Hemingway wrote standing up; Truman Capote wrote lying down. What posture do you write in?
Sitting at a desk.

The Cape Fear Coast is a hotbed for the film industry. In your opinion, what has been the best book-to-screen adaptation?
A River Runs Through It.

What was the worst?
The Long, Hot Summer, an adaptation of Faulkner’s first Snopes book, The Hamlet. Paul Newman as a Snopes? Laughable. No way.

Why do you feel it’s important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
You get a chance to talk and spend some time with others who are involved in the same kind of struggle with paper and ink. A unique learning opportunity. You have a chance to have others objectively view your work and offer constructive criticism. If such conferences were around when was starting out, I’d have saved myself a lot of time. I’ve never taken a course in fiction or poetry writing and there is nothing slower and more haphazard than teaching yourself how to do something.

Do you have pet peeves as a reader? As a writer?
There should be a moratorium on navel-gazing poems about poetry. As an editor, I’d get five or ten weekly and grew to hate them.

Are you scheduled in the time you set aside to write, or is your writing time more flexible than that?
Once upon a time, I could write anywhere, at any time, as long as I had a cup of coffee to keep my brain revved up. Nowadays, I work mostly in the morning, at home in my study.

Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
For me writing is an act of discovery. I’m rarely sure of what’s coming, always a surprise. As (Robert) Frost put it, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” Amen.

What was the first thing you ever published?
A long poem about the death of my Polish grandfather, “Dziadek,” and about my discovery of photography, imagery, and the importance of aiming outside the self. It was in The Southern Review, 1970s.

Who is your favorite North Carolina author?
Fred Chappell. He’s done it all—novels, short stories, poetry, essays, reviews. Really a man of letters. Lots of writers today want their books reviewed, but feel no obligation to give back by writing reviews themselves. Not Ol’ Fred.

***

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference is now open.

 

Michelle BrowerMichelle Brower began her career in publishing in 2004 while studying for her Master’s degree in English Literature at New York University, and has been hooked ever since. During that time, she assisted the agents Wendy Sherman and Joelle Delbourgo, and found herself in love with the process of discovering new writers and helping existing writers further their careers. After graduating, she became an agent with Wendy Sherman Associates, and there began representing books in many different areas of fiction and nonfiction. In 2009, she joined Folio Literary Management, where she is looking for literary fiction, thrillers, high-quality commercial fiction that transcends genre, and narrative nonfiction. She enjoys digging into a manuscript and working with authors to make their project as saleable as it can be, and her list includes the authors S.G. Browne, Rebecca Rasmussen, Dana Gynther, and Michele Young-Stone, among many others.

During the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference, Michelle will sit on Sunday's "Brilliant at Breakfast Panel Discussion: 'Agents and Editors'" and serve as a reviewer for the Manuscript Mart, which provides writers with the opportunity to pitch their manuscripts and get feedback from an editor or agent with a leading publisher or literary agency. A one-on-one, thirty-minute pitch and Q&A session will be scheduled for attendees who register for the Manuscript Mart.

 

What are you reading right now?
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes.

If you could have a torrid but guilt-free affair with a fictional character, who would it be?
Sherlock Holmes.

What aspect of craft do you feel you handle especially well, or is especially important to you?
Structure and plot are my favorites, because little changes can have huge effects.

Any memorable rejections?
I remember a lot of them, but not one more than others.

Do you own an electronic reading device?
Yes.

What’s one thing that bugs you more than anything else when you see it in a piece of writing?
Too many adjectives/words.

Do you steal pens from hotels?
No, they are usually terrible pens.

If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
I think I’d be Edith Wharton.

Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
Luckily, I don’t write—I just get to help writers.

The Cape Fear Coast is a hotbed for the film industry. In your opinion, what has been the best book-to-screen adaptation?
The Returned by Jason Mott, of course, which will be on TV as Resurrection in March.

What was the worst?
I’ll go with Congo by Michael Crichton. But it might also be so bad it’s good.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wished they had?
Never give up, never surrender. It’s useful in intergalactic war, life, AND book publishing.

Please fill in the blank:
I have read SOME of the Harry Potter books.

***

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference is now open.

 

Addy Robinson McCullochAddy Robinson McCulloch is a freelance writer and editor whose clients include Pearson Education and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Her work has appeared in publications such as Redheaded Stepchild, 234journal, the Iodine Review, and Get Out of My Crotch: 21 Writers Respond to America’s War on Women’s Rights and Reproductive Health. A graduate of Duke University, Addy lives in southeastern NC.

Addy will lead a workshop at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference with Elizabeth King Humphreys titled "Editing Your Own Work: Much More than Grammar and Punctuation." Two professional editors will introduce the different levels of editing and discuss common weaknesses in manuscripts, including problems with voice, characterization, and writing style. Participants will walk away with a better idea of what to look for when editing their own work, including a self-editing “checklist” and information about affordable, reliable resources.

 

What are you reading right now?
Feminist blogs, contemporary poetry.

If you could have a torrid but guilt-free affair with a fictional character, who would it be?
Sirius Black.

What aspect of craft do you feel you handle especially well, or is especially important to you?
The hook. It’s true for all types of writing—the hook is the invitation to the reader to “come in and sit a spell.”

Any memorable rejections?
Not recently, but I’m expecting one any day.

Do you own an electronic reading device?
Yes, but I find little to recommend them other than the ability to increase the font size.

What’s one thing that bugs you more than anything else when you see it in a piece of writing?
Doubling up on of prepositions. I’ve noticed a lot of that recently.

Do you steal pens from hotels?
Not anymore.

If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
As long as it’s only for a day, I’d like to be either Agatha Christie or T. S. Eliot.

Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
I write to communicate.

The Cape Fear Coast is a hotbed for the film industry. In your opinion, what has been the best book-to-screen adaptation?
To Kill a Mockingbird; close second, Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet version).

What was the worst?
There are so many….

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wished they had?
Not sure. I know the best piece of advice I received was to “Read more.”

Please fill in the blank:
I have read ALL of the Harry Potter books.

***

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference is now open.

 

Ssuan SteadmanSusan Steadman has written for and about the stage throughout several decades as a professional theatre practitioner. Her wide-ranging plays include The Cinderella Chronicles (YouthPLAYS, 2012), performed in five countries, and The Thing with Feathers, which recently appeared in the South Florida Arts Journal and was presented at a national theatre convention. Susan’s competition-winning dark comedies, such as Filling Spaces and Tuesdays We Go to Playgroup, have delighted audiences from New Jersey to Texas. Her publications include Dramatic Re-Visions (ALA), a critically lauded reference work; magazine and journal articles; and contributions to books including Notable Women in the American Theatre. With a Ph.D. in Theatre from LSU, she has taught at universities, schools, camps, and conferences. Along the way, she has staged nearly seventy productions and served as artistic director of a professional theatre for sixteen years. A Dramatists Guild member, she resides in Wilmington, where she launched the Port City Playwrights’ Project.

Susan will lead a workshop at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference titled, "Creating Compelling Characters: What Playwrights Can Learn from Actors." Many approaches to acting also provide valuable tools for the playwright. This workshop will focus on motivation, subtext, choices and economy. Guidelines to improvisation, such as “show, don’t tell,” will also be explored. Through the analysis of short scripts and in-session writing exercises, participants will gain insight into the development of unique characters.

 

What was your favorite book as a child?
Little Women.

If you weren’t a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
Photographer.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wished they had?
You need to be tough.

Any memorable rejections?
To paraphrase Tolstoy: All acceptances are similar. Each rejection is memorable in its own way.

Hemingway wrote standing up; Truman Capote wrote lying down. What posture do you write in?
Slouched back in my desk chair, legs sprawling, when thinking. Hunched over my keyboard when actually writing.

The Cape Fear Coast is a hotbed for the film industry. In your opinion, what has been the best book-to-screen adaptation?
For the most part, as we all know, a film can’t compare to a book. I’m drawing a blank here.

What was the worst?
I don’t know where to start! Memoirs of a Geisha made a fascinating book into a boring film I couldn’t continue watching—but that’s just one of many.

Why do you feel it’s important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
Writers need to discover and recharge, and the conference offers a number of opportunities: meeting other writers and engaging in informal conversation that may be dotted with “aha” moments; attending specific workshops and discovering an approach or tool you can adapt to/use in your own work; getting away from your office (or alcove or kitchen table) and, especially for those with families, enjoying “me” time.

Do you have pet peeves as a reader? As a writer?
As a reader, I have no tolerance for grammatical errors. Reading local newspapers, for example, has become painful. As a writer of stage plays, my pet peeve is productions which ignore my instructions.

Are you scheduled in the time you set aside to write, or is your writing time more flexible than that?
Yes and yes (sorry). I usually write from mid-morning until 2:00 or so, when I break for exercise, snack, or both. On the other hand, inspiration may hurl me into my office at any time of day or night. I’ve also known productive bouts writing on a legal pad at the hairdresser’s or while a passenger on a long car trip.

Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
I start in discovery mode—“What might happen if?”—then move to an outline (or at least a list of plot points and character traits). All too soon, the characters take on a life of their own, and I can be heard yelling at the screen: “No, I didn’t want you to do that!”

What was the first thing you ever published?
Feature articles in the newspaper of the town in which I attended college.

Who is your favorite North Carolina author?
As a relative newcomer, I’m still working on this one. North Carolina is home to an incredible number of talented writers.

***

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference is now open.

 

Philip Gerard is the author of nine books of fiction and nonfiction, including Down the Wild Cape Fear (2013) and The Patron Saint of Dreams, the winner of 2012 Gold Medal for Essay/Creative Nonfiction from the Independent Publisher. He teaches in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Gerard will lead the Creative Nonfiction Master Class at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference. One of the hardest things for a nonfiction writer to do is to write a detailed, dramatic, factual scene of an event that actually happened, but that he or she was not present to witness. In this workshop, participants will address practical tools of the craft that can be applied to creating such vivid scenes—incorporating a method Gerard calls “triangulation” that uses corroborating, disparate sources to stage a moment of drama acted out by real people in a real place, while remaining loyal to the truthfulness of events. This workshop will look at how this technique can apply also to memoir, to scenes in which we as authors participated, bringing them to a heightened level of suspense and emotional engagement for the reader. In the end, the practical application of craft can lead to an artistic result.

 

What was your favorite book as a child?
It was and remains The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

If you weren’t a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
I'd be on Willie Nelson's bus playing side-man.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wished they had?
Be active and tuned in to your publisher—selling the book is the beginning, not the end, of the process.

Any memorable rejections?
A publisher once wrote of a novel: "I loved this book. It's the book I would want to get under the Christmas tree and would buy copies of for all my friends. Unfortunately, it's not right for us."

Hemingway wrote standing up; Truman Capote wrote lying down. What posture do you write in?
Sitting in my writing study.

The Cape Fear Coast is a hotbed for the film industry. In your opinion, what has been the best book-to-screen adaptation?
Deliverance—but it wasn't made here.The director of photography managed to capture the poetry of the country as Dickey wrote it.

What was the worst?
The Prince of Tides: they left out the Prince of Tides.

Why do you feel it’s important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
Writing is solitary. It' s nice to get some encouragement from fellow travelers.

Do you have pet peeves as a reader? As a writer?
Bad punctuation, sloppy word choice, figurative language that seems contrived.

Are you scheduled in the time you set aside to write, or is your writing time more flexible than that?
You have to write like you practice a musical instrument—every day for a period of time.

Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
Both. An outline is just a treasure map, and not necessarily an accurate one.

What was the first thing you ever published?
A short story called "The Hunters" in the University of Delaware literary magazine. I learned later that it was read out loud by summer campers on the Chesapeake Bay each session at the final campfire—the best audience I never knew.

Who is your favorite North Carolina author?
Ron Rash—for his lyrical intensity and respect for the craft and just plain great writing.

***

Registration for the NCWN 2013 Fall Conference is now open.

 

By Anna Jean (A.J.) Mayhew, 2012 Fall Conference Faculty, Writing Groups That Work

I lived the first forty-five years of my life in or near Charlotte, where I was born. In the mid-70s I took writing courses at Central Piedmont Community College and made friends who formed the first writing group I’d ever been in—six or seven of us, mostly writers of science fiction and fantasy. The Aardvarks—as we called ourselves—gathered at each other’s houses on an irregular basis, smoked, drank beer, and handed out manuscripts for critique—occasionally we read aloud to each other, but not often. Sometimes we just smoked and drank beer.

I moved to Orange County in 1985, and missed the ’Varks terribly. Occasionally I went back to Charlotte, or one or two of them visited me in the converted tobacco barn near Jordan Lake where I lived for a year, contemplating my navel and writing. In the spring of 1987 I met novelist Laurel Goldman, and joined her Thursday morning writers group. Twenty-five years later, I’m still a member of that remarkable weekly gathering of writers in Chapel Hill, and now lead two groups of my own, shamelessly copying Laurel’s successful method. Over two dozen books and many short stories have been published by those in our groups, and it’s the way the meetings are conducted that helps the members become prolific writers.

Over the eighteen years it took me to write my first novel, The Dry Grass of August, I read the whole book aloud to my Thursday morning group at least twice. When it was as polished as I could make it, I handed out copies of the manuscript to them and to Laurel; they took a month or so to read it and gave me everything from detailed line editing to suggestions about over-arching structure—plot, setting, and character. Laurel read it at least twice more before I began submitting it to literary agents in the winter of 2006. My novel was accepted by Kensington Publishing in 2009, in a two-book deal; it won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction in 2011 and was a finalist for the 2012 SIBA Book Award. My second novel, Tomorrow’s Bread, is now in progress.

If I were asked to say just one thing I’ve learned from being a member of Laurel’s Thursday morning group for twenty-five years and from leading my own groups, it would be that I’ve become a critical listener, and not just to the work of others, but to my own as well. Now when I’m writing, I often stop and read aloud (particularly dialog). This has made me a better writer and—an important thing when doing a book tour—I’m confident now when reading my work in public.

On Sunday morning, November 4, at the NCWN Fall Conference in Cary, I will meet with those of you who are interested in starting a writing group, and will share with you the details of what makes a group successful. When I think of the key ingredient, the one thing that distinguishes these groups from many gatherings of writers, I remember my children saying, at bedtime, “Read to me, Mama.”

***

Anna Jean (A. J.) Mayhew’s first novel, The Dry Grass of August, won the 2011 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, and is a finalist for the 2012 Book Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. A Blackstone Audio book came out in December, and the French translation was published in April. The novel will also be translated into Italian, Turkish, and Norwegian for release in 2013. In February, A. J. was a featured speaker at Southern Voices in Birmingham, AL, along with novelist Scott Turow. Last September, she dined with Governor Beverly Perdue at a gathering to honor North Carolina authors, and is now working on her next novel, Tomorrow’s Bread.

Registration for the 2012 Fall Conference is now open!

 

By Shane Ryan, 2012 Fall Conference Faculty, Humor Writing

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been impressed by essays that begin with a quote from a famous person. If that famous person is dead, even better; dead people have an aura that I’ve always envied. Speaking of which, I apologize for being alive as you read this post. You deserve better. (If I’ve died since writing, neglect the last two sentences and please avenge my death.)

The point is, I love dead people quotes. So when I was tasked with writing an introduction to my humor writing workshop, I thought I’d lead with something from a guy like Benjamin Franklin. He must have had a few thoughts on comedy, right? Who’s funnier than ole Ben Franklin? Remember that time he flew a kite in a lightning storm with a metal key attached? That was classic physical humor; Charlie Chaplin owed him a great debt.

I tried to remember a good Franklin quote, but I was hungry at the time, so my brain just came up with images of roasted chicken sprinkled with salt. I considered turning to Google for help with the quote, but instead I begged my girlfriend to roast a chicken and sprinkle it with salt. It wasn’t easy, but she finally agreed after I started crying. Man, did I feast. I ate the hell out of that chicken. When I was done, I made a miniature chicken from the bones and hung it over my bed so I could remember the meal forever. I named it “Bones,” after a similar creature I made out of a turkey carcass last Thanksgiving. It was such a great experience that I even asked the NCWN people if I could get out of the humor writing seminar and lead one about how to devour a roasted chicken instead. Unfortunately, that topic had already been taken by current U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.

So here I am, back at the keyboard, with nothing to show for myself. But I resolved to start with a quote, so before we go any further, I’m going to make one up from a fake historical figure:

“True humour, my dear, is the fool’s bosom friend, the vicar’s frigid companion, the tyrant’s sworn enemy,
and the psychopath’s ruinous lover.”
—Lord Addison “Barnacles” Balfour, in a letter to his wife, Lady Barnacles, 1594

Barnacles Balfour died only three months later in a Viking raid, a cruel and ironic end when you consider that the Vikings had died out 500 years earlier. And no, I’m sorry, I don’t know what the word “vicar” means either.

You may have noticed that the first 400 words of this essay have been utterly useless. Forgive me, but I was being pointless to make a point—humor is an evanescent, ephemeral ghost of a concept, prone to misinterpretation and disagreement and ultimate irrelevance. Some of you made it through those three paragraphs and thought, “That was the stupidest thing I’ve ever read.” Some of you may have smiled, or even laughed. But rest assured that I, personally, sat here laughing like an insane person while chicken grease ran down my mouth in ecstatic, loathsome rivers. In the end, we’re all correct.

Let me be serious for a moment: This world was designed to be difficult. Why? I don’t know, but I believe in God precisely so I can have somebody to resent for the way things work. Even for a guy like me, who has had a relatively easy twenty-nine years, life has had its rough patches. Yet somewhere else in the world, people are having a really hard time, so I can’t even enjoy my little challenges by indulging in self-pity. Which, again, is very annoying.

Saturday Night Live, legendary just forty years ago, seem stale and even conservative today. Shakespeare, whose tragedies hold up as achingly gorgeous treatises on human frailty, is a writer whose pun-based humor you would want to emulate only if you hoped to get beat up on a city street. Times and attitudes change, and it takes a keen understanding of the zeitgeist to capture what’s funny today.

Humor is diverse; racially, culturally, stylistically. I am not personally a fan of Larry the Cable Guy and his ubiquitous catch phrase, “Git ‘er Done,” but he makes loads of money from people who would mock me for driving a Toyota Prius. His stand-up routine couldn’t be more different from a show like Arrested Development—a wonderful mix of character-driven absurdity, physical comedy, and narrative subversion which became a sort of mainstream cult classic that was canceled after three seasons. And what common threads could be said to exist between the melancholy mid-life-crisis laments of Louis C.K. and the detached wordplay of the late Mitch Hedberg? What binds the biting, racial satire of Dave Chappelle’s sketches and the selfish egotism of Larry David? Each is vastly different, but the world is big, and each has its audience.

And yet, I swear, there is a connection. Difficult as it may be to identify, these comedic fountains rise from a common source. And if there’s a point to my ramblings, it’s that while humor is diverse and ever evolving, there are guiding principles that can help us when we try to be funny. When you learn the rules, it gets a little—not a lot, but a little—easier. The main requirement is that you pay attention to the life that goes on around you. Seriously, that’s it. Just open your eyes, and everything else will follow.

To use an actual quote from a real person, I draw your attention to Tolstoy: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I’m going to spin that one on its head for a moment, and declare that there are a million ways to be funny, but only one way to fail. If you can’t live through the triumph, tragedy, and even boredom of our world without feeling that persistent thread of humor seeping through the cracks in the façade, undermining and saving us at the same time, then God help you.

And fair warning: God may not help you, because God is funny.

***

Shane Ryan will lead a Humor Writing workshop at the 2012 North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference. Shane is a writer for Grantland.com, Paste Magazine, and Carolina Public Press. He has written about sports, music, film, politics, and comedy for a variety of publications, including McSweeneys.net. No matter where he writes, he expends a lot of effort trying to be funny, and has embarrassed himself publicly so many times that he is now considered an expert. His biggest fans include his mother, who thinks he's especially hilarious when asking for money. Shane grew up in Saranac Lake, New York, graduated from Duke University in 2005, lived in Brooklyn for five years, and attended the UNC School of Journalism in 2010. He lives in Carrboro with his wife, and is two months away from turning thirty, which is not funny at all.

Registration for the 2012 Fall Conference is now open.

 

By Maureen Sherbondy, 2012 Fall Conference Faculty Member, Poetry

Recently I opened my local newspaper to find an advertisement for Wicked, a musical about the witches of Oz. In another advertisement, Julia Roberts was starring in Mirror, Mirror, a movie about Snow White. It seems fairy tales appear everywhere—on television shows, in commercials, movies, and plays. An entire literary journal, The Fairy Tale Review, exists devoted to the subject of fairy tales. It is no wonder that these tales also creep into poetry.

For years, poets have employed fairy tales in poetry, transforming these tales, reinventing these familiar stories, and using the universal stories as a framework, a “trigger” as Richard Hugo would say. Fairy tales can be used in the same way that a poet might choose to incorporate a formal structure—for example, a villanelle—to control and set parameters in a poem.

I am intrigued by this treatment of fairy tales in poetry, using the familiar tales as a jumping-off point for new work. In fact, I wrote an entire book of these fairy tale poems (After the Fairy Tale, Main Street Rag, 2007).

We relate to fairy tale characters because we either fear them or strive to be them. They compose parts of the self. Archetypes appear again and again in tales: The Damsel in distress, the Trickster, the Hero, the Martyr, the Great Mother, the Crone, the Mentor, the Warrior, the Evil Stepmother, etc. Archetypes are universal connectors that create emotional responses, such as fear, desire, and hope. For example, in "Hansel and Gretel," the emotions range from rejection, fear, abandonment, to despair.

Tales rich in symbols also appeal to poets. Why not make use of archetypes and symbols that already appear in these tales? Why not extend the tales, change them, add to the vision?

When I first wrote my own fairy tale poems, I explored what happened after the fairy tale ended. I placed characters from “Snow White,” Alice in Wonderland, and “Sleeping Beauty” inside contemporary society to see what would happen when two worlds collided. For example, I set “Snow White” at a mall in the 21st Century:

Snow White at the Mall
They mistake her for the granddaughter
of the Sees Candies lady,
with that old-fashioned dress
edged in white frills, the bow
in her hair. Children with blue-cotton-
candy smiles point chocolate-smeared
fingers at her. Mothers steer them away.
Only the mall police return her Prozac grin.
She’s tempted by denim -
blue jeans and jackets at the Gap,
but fears the Prince might leave her
for dressing down. What can she barter
for merchandise anyway? A smile? A kiss? A poison comb?
Finding a penny she throws a two-for-the price-
of-one wish into the fountain: health and good fortune
for the dwarfs, a long marriage for herself.
She leaves the mall empty-handed except
for free pretzel samples, a Belk flyer with coupons,
and a blue helium balloon that lifts away
into the open, consumer-free sky.

Rich in symbolism, archetypes, and imagery, fairy tales are amusing stories to mine as a source for fresh (and fun!) poems. Universal stories with human and magical qualities, fairy tales can be triggers for new creative work. I hope that you will join me in the workshop I will lead at the Fall Conference to write your own original fairy tale poems.

***

Maureen Sherbondy will lead a poetry workshop at the 2012 North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference. Her books are After the Fairy Tale, Praying at Coffee Shops, The Slow Vanishing, Weary Blues, and Scar Girl. She recently won the Spring Garden Press Robert Watson Poetry Award for The Year of Dead Fathers. The book will be published this summer. Her full-length collection, Eulogy for an Imperfect Man, is forthcoming from Brick Road Poetry Press. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She received an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. Maureen lives in Raleigh with her three sons. Her website is www.maureensherbondy.com.

 

by Heather Newton

What if I told you this:

Heather NewtonWhen my parents married in 1957, my father was French. He signed his name “Paien” and gave my mother a set of French conversation records she can still quote from today: “Je m’appelle Jean LeCharpentier mais je ne suis pas charpentier, ha ha ha.” One Sunday they drove from the small town in Bladen County where my dad served as a Methodist pastor to Pinehurst to eat at an upscale French restaurant. It was so expensive all they could afford was the green beans, les haricots verts. Soon thereafter my father became an Eskimo.

My father’s name is Carl. He grew up a Methodist preacher’s kid. As far as we know his only map-able genes are Scots-Irish and English. His selection of Eskimo heritage did make a kind of sense, because he was born in Nome, Alaska, where his parents were missionaries to a mining community. They moved from Alaska when he was two, first to the Seattle area and then to North Carolina. My dad was eight when his family moved to North Carolina, where his father pastored various churches in Swan Quarter, Elizabethtown, Pittsboro, Burlington. To protest the move my dad refused ever to develop a southern accent.

By the time I was born in 1963 my father had left the ministry, moved the family to Raleigh, and become Danish. He hung a large red and white Danish flag above his desk in our living room. When my third grade teacher asked us to tell our heritage, she must have been surprised when I, with my brown eyes and un- Viking-like dark hair, claimed Danish ancestry.

When I was twelve, my father became Greek. He listened to balalaika music and learned Greek folk dances. He was the first person in Raleigh to discover feta cheese and kalamata olives. He named himself “Karlos,”which he spelled with Greek letters. He took a trip to Greece, bringing me back drachmas I could bend with my teeth and the palm-sized casing of some sea creature, bleached white by the sun and still smelling of the Aegean.

My dad was Greek for a long time--through a divorce, his children leaving home, his mother dying. All the letters he wrote me in college were signed using the Greek alphabet.

Now my father is Scandinavian.

If I told you all this (some of which is true) you would say, “Your father is such a character!”

We’ve all known people about whom we’ve said, “He [or she] is such a character.” Often we follow this statement by shaking our heads, rolling our eyes, or perhaps adding a “bless his heart.” What is it about these folks that makes them so interesting and unforgettable? How can we make our fictional characters just as compelling, without sacrificing credibility or resorting to stereotype? Those are the questions we’ll explore in my “Such A Character” workshop at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2011 Fall Conference.

***

HEATHER NEWTON's debut novel Under the Mercy Trees (HarperCollins 2011) was selected as a spring 2011 "Okra Pick" by the Southern Independent Bookstore Alliance and chosen by the Women's National Book Association as a Great Group Reads selection. Her short fiction has appeared in Crucible, Encore Magazine, Wellspring and elsewhere. She is an attorney and mediator in Asheville: www.heathernewton.net. She will lead a fiction workshop at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2011 Fall Conference. Registration is now open.

 

 

By Holly Iglesias

Holly IglesiasMy life changed the day a poet friend read what I thought was a compact piece of nonfiction and said, “This is a prose poem.” And since that time, about fifteen years ago, it has been the only form in which I write. That uncanny, boxy shape invites compression and difficulty and mayhem because it is a tight container and because it defies the reader’s expectations of what a poem is. Instead of the lovely curvature of lineated verse, a prose poem asserts the value of the mundane—of objects and people and language itself under pressure. In addition, they are evocative objects themselves, recalling postcards, snapshots, to-do lists, diary entries.

I often write from the perspective of the past, developing points of view from archival materials that I collect at garage sales (magazines, schoolbooks, cookbooks, “orphaned” photos, souvenirs, and such). In the workshop, we will peruse some of these materials as an exercise in immersion and in perspective. For example, we’ll consider how a poem based on an old photograph could be written from several points of view: that of the subject of the photo, that of the photographer, that of the recipient of the photo, or that of an outside observer. Each person can expect to create and share at least one poem written during the workshop and leave with ideas on how to apply such prompts in the future.

My first poetry collection, Souvenirs of a Shrunken World, was based on research on the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, my home town; the second, Angles of Approach, toys with grand themes from history, fleshed out and clashing in unlikely encounters (picture a medieval monk on a moped; think Western Civilization in 250 words).

I published my first prose poem fourteen years ago, when prose poetry seemed quite obscure, hard to find, and overwhelmingly surreal. Now it’s everywhere: more lyrical, less obtuse, and it’s often confused with flash fiction and lyrical essays. Both the proliferation and the confusion are good, recruiting new readers and new debates about the nature of poetry and the division of genres.

If you’re into literary criticism and want to learn more about prose poetry, you might consider reading my critical study about prose poetry and gender, Boxing Inside the Box: Women’s Prose Poetry. And if you want to see what kind of poetry might be mined from a 1957 issue of Popular Mechanics or a seventh-grade U.S. Geography textbook from 1915, I hope you’ll register for this workshop.

***

HOLLY IGLESIAS will lead a poetry workshop at NCWN's 2011 Fall Conference, November 18-20 in Asheville. She is the author of two poetry collections—Angles of Approach (White Pine, 2010) and Souvenirs of a Shrunken World (Kore Press, 2008)—as well as a work of literary criticism, Boxing Inside the Box: Women’s Prose Poetry (Quale Press, 2004). In 2011, she was awarded a fellowship in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also received grant support from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Edward Albee Foundation, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Holly earned a Ph.D in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Florida State University and has translated the work of award-winning Cuban poet Caridad Atencio. She teaches in the Master of Liberal Arts Program at UNC Asheville.

 

by Nancy Simpson

Nancy SimpsonI was shy and didn’t speak much in my young life because I feared whatever I said would come out of my mouth sounding quirky. I did not know then I was using figurative language. I only saw puzzlement on my mother’s face and almost stopped talking.

Life changed for the better when someone in Raleigh sent three poets to read their poems at my local library. I heard free verse for the first time, and I recognized on the spot it was similar to what I had been hearing in my head most my life.

At age forty, the state of North Carolina certified me to teach. At the same time, I began writing my thoughts and published poems right away in literary magazines. I entered the first writing class offered in the Warren Wilson College MFA Writing program. After graduation, I kept taking poems apart, hoping to see how they were made, especially wanting to understand the writing process. More advanced poets warned me, “Be careful, Nancy. Poetry is meant to be mysterious. If you learn how it works, you might stop being able to make it happen.” Nothing could stop me. Writing poetry changed me, smoothed my tongue, and greatly enriched my life. I kept practicing poetry, publishing poems, and passing on what I had learned to others. As Gary Snyder said, “You get it right, and then you pass it on.”

My upcoming workshop "Poetry Writing Here and Now," scheduled for the 2011 Fall Conference, will focus on Contemporary Free Verse Poetry. I’m not one who believes “Free Verse” is a free-for-all, without rules nor responsibility. We will consider a list of specific guidelines aimed to guide you beyond the use of ordinary language. Where to break the line and how to make your poems sing with sound will be discussed. We’ll talk about specific forms of free verse and see what drives each kind. I’ll share my definition of the lyric poem, and we’ll write some poems.

NANCY SIMPSON is the author of three poetry collections: Across Water, Night Student, and most recently, Living Above the Frost Line: New and Selected Poems, published in 2010 by Carolina Wren Press. She is also the editor of the recently published anthology Echoes Across the Blue Ridge. Her poems have appeared in the Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, and other literary magazines, as well as in several anthologies. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and is a recipient of an NC Arts Council fellowship. She is one of the co-founders of North Carolina Writers’ Network – West, the Network chapter for writers in the westernmost counties of the state. She lives in Hayesville.

Registration for the 2011 Fall Conference is now open.

 

By Linda Rohrbough

Linda RohrboughMost pre-published authors think (and I thought this, too) that once you have an agent, your pitching days are over.

Ah, not so fast. There are three reasons why this isn’t true. First, your agent gets ideas from you. Pitching is the agent’s job, but their job is also to predict if your idea will sell, add on to and enhance your concept, and stay after marketing it to the right people.

Once they get to know you, they may bring you projects that are up your alley. But they have to know what your alley is first. Bottomline is, the cleaner and more streamlined the concept you present, the easier it is for your agent to place your work, and get you more work.

Second, you're going to end up pitching your book both before and after you write it. Especially after you write it. Let me give you an example. I travel and shop with some New York Times bestselling author friends. That’s how I learned pitching never ends. I’ve watched numerous times how these authors turn strangers into fans in a New-York minute.

I’m faced with opportunities like that with my new novel. For example, a rather influential book club, local to me, is getting pressure from an enthusiastic member who recently read my book. However, the group unanimously decided they want me, the author, to come in and talk before they shoe-horn my book to the front of their list. Bottomline is, this is a pitching opportunity. I recently had to the same thing before being invited to appear on a radio show.

Third, most writers assume they’ll be able to talk effectively about their book off-the-cuff without preparation or memorization of a "script." That's simply not true. My bestselling friends develop a carefully orchestrated pitch for every book, and select each word with precision to do double and triple duty.

Using my experiences and my own research, I developed a three-step plug-and-play formula that works for any book. That formula is the focus of my “Pitch Your Book” workshop, which is now also available as an iPhone app. Of course, there are things I can do teaching live that I can’t do in the app, and vice versa.

And I practice what I preach. I work on my own pitches until someone can wake me in the middle of the night and I can rattle it off without a hitch.

So it may look natural, but authors who talk effectively about their books are prepared and purposeful. And they know how to manage their own fear (which I also teach in my workshop). I have learned from the best and am careful to be ready. Because I never know who I'll end up talking to, or when. This fall, it could be you at the NCWN conference. I hope so. See you then.

LINDA ROHRBOUGH has been writing since 1989, and has more than 5,000 articles and seven books to her credit, along with national awards for fiction and nonfiction. New York Times #1 bestselling author Debbie Macomber said about Linda’s new novel: "This is fast-paced, thrilling, edge-of-the-seat reading. The Prophetess One: At Risk had me flipping the pages and holding my breath." An iPhone App of her popular “Pitch Your Book” workshop is available in the Apple iTunes store. Visit her website: www.LindaRohrbough.com.

Registration for the 2011 Fall Conference, Nov 18-20, hosted by the North Carolina Writers’ Network, will open soon. Keep an eye on www.ncwriters.org for more details.

Hats Off! to Danny Bernstein, Robert Morgan, and Lee Smith, who have been chosen as finalists for the 2014 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award from the Western North Carolina Historical Association. Bernstein for her nonfiction book The Mountains to the Sea Trail Across North Carolina; and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees Morgan and Smith for their novels The Road From Gap Creek and Guests on Earth, respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gift of the Dreamtime: Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma by S. Kelley Harrell

Soul Intent Arts, LLC
$16.95, paperback / $3.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-0986016516
September, 2012
Memoir, Healing
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

"In this book, that hunger and fear that nibbled and clawed at you and me for years is explained in poetic, experiential detail. Harrell guides us into our own souls, turning the “whys” into wise."
—Bridgett Walther, author of Conquer the Cosmos

"Harrell draws you into the dreamtime as an expert novelist draws you into a great novel and shares with you her experiences and knowledge of the world beyond the veil from the time she was very young."
Innerchange Magazine

With a foreward by shaman Christina Pratt, in the revised second edition of this fantastical memoir, Kelley Harrell chronicles a modern shamanic journey from pain, to healing and accepting a calling to work as a soul healer of others. Groundbreaking at the time of its first publication in 2004, still no other modern shamanic work shares an experience of soul healing told from within the shamanic narrative, bringing relatable and credible insight to contemporary soul healing. Through that rare glimpse into her experiences traversing the spirit world, Harrell’s story becomes the reader’s adventure. Not always easy to read, there are unflinching passages examining hurtful childhood memories, confrontations with overzealous spirit guides, and challenging personal obstacles she must overcome in order to heal.

Kelley Harrell is an author and neoshaman in North Carolina. Her shamanic practice is Soul Intent Arts. She writes for The Huffington Post, and since 2004 has written the syndicated column, "Intentional Insights: Q&A from Within," addressing reader inquiries on animism, shamanism, and the everyday paranormal.

A lifelong intuitive, since 1998, Kelley has addressed the spiritual needs of her local and international community. Through her shamanic practice she has established The Tribe of the Modern Mystic, to support and mentor intuitives experiencing trauma as they grow into powerful abilities, and to provide shamanic community support for personal spiritual development. Her practice comprises teaching classes, in-person and distance Mystery School, mentoring, healing, and ceremonial artistry in the community. Her website is www.kelleyharrell.com.

Enjoy the book along with the Gift of the Dreamtime: Reader's Companion on www.kelleyharrell.com and Amazon. Learn more about Kelley at www.facebook.com/s.kelleyharrell?ref=ts, and stay updated on her practice at www.soulintentarts.com.

Hats Off! to Brenda Kay Ledford whose poem "Knee Deep in September" appeared in Mused Bellaonline Literary Review's Fall 2014 issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get a Grip: Parenting Tips I Wish I'd Known Then That You Can Know Now by Robin Banks

Robo Press
$14.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-0615662282
August, 2012
Parenting
Available at www.Amazon.com

In Get a Grip: Parenting Tips I Wish I'd Known Then That You Can Know Now, Robin Banks strikes out to change the generational cycles that go back to Eden in which preparation for parenthood was, if anything, an afterthought.

Think of her, a neighborhood mom, as the universal cheerleader for preparation before the sperm-egg collision, an event that veteran parents know catpults would-be parents into a dramatic, lifestyle change where the relative calm of a pre-baby existence vanishes like a perp at a crime scene in the daily whirlwind of family living.

Through anecdotes, Banks peels back in plain view successes and mistakes she and her husband experienced as they struggled through the deep waters of family demands. Presenting her family on the big screen in HD, she wins the reader's trust with a weathered wisdom gained from twenty-five years of parenting children at home that is conveyed through her wry humor and friendly approach. By replacing ignorance with knowledge, her wish is for future, and new parents too, to have an easier life that reduces the stress and frustration that often push parents to their knees either in prayer or apoplexy. This is the one book that provides a head start for future parents and a jumpstart for new parents.

Robin Banks was born in Gastonia, North Carolina. She is a retired Spanish teacher, wife of thirty-eight years, mother of three adult children, and grandmother to her two "adorables," Sophia, six years old and Lincoln, three.

When she is not writing, she spends much of her time visiting them in Arlington, Virginia, participating in Bible studies, and traveling with friends. For twenty-five years during which time her children were in school, from kindergarten through high school, she was active either in the PTA or the PTO. She participated in every job from being the president of those organizations to chairing fundraisers and heading up or serving on various school and community committees. As she likes to say, she danced every dance and enjoyed every minute. During this time when Robin was in the throes of rearing her family of one husband, three children, two dogs, multiple stray cats, assorted tropical fish, a pink and a blue Easter chick, a token rodent, and seasonal hermit crabs, she had little idea what she was doing.

She is a passionate writer who brings to the forefront of parenting the need to change the generational cycles of the past in which would-be parents did not prepare for parenthood to a new generational cycle where young people thinking of having a family prepare well before the first baby leaves the hospital, that is, before life dramatically changes forever. Ten years after her last child left home for college, she has proven to be the real deal, a neighborhood mom who writes frankly about her family when children lived at home, so the next generation can know from the outset what she did not know when she first became pregnant. Now a baby boomer on the far side of day to day parenting, she has written Get a Grip: Parenting Tips I Wish I'd Known Then That You Can Know Now in which she gains her reader's trust with a weathered wisdom conveyed through her warm, friendly approach and wry humor, evident not only in this book but in its future sequel as well, Get a Grip II.

Her website is www.robingunterbanks.com.

Hats Off! to Heather Bell Adams of Raleigh whose short story, "When We Could See But Did Not Know" (based on her novel, Maranatha Road), was a finalist for the 2014 Ruth Moose Flash Fiction Prize, sponsored by the Charlotte Writers' Club. Heather also had two stories named as finalists in the 2014 Touring Theatre of North Carolina Short Fiction Contest.

 

Taking Flight: 2012 edited by Carol Roan and Susan Williamson

Winston-Salem Writers
$12.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-93570862
September, 2012
Anthology
Available at Barnhill's Books or www.wswriters.org

Taking Flight: 2012 is Winston-Salem Writers' second anthology and includes the seventeen winners of the three open contests for 2012: Anthology, 10-Minute Play, and Essay. All entries were judged blind by experts living in the North Carolina Piedmont: Malaika King Albrecht for Poetry; Andrea Brill for Creative Nonfiction; Sheryl Monks for Short Story; Chris Roerden for Flash Fiction; Robert Moyer and Grace Ellis for the 10-Minute Play; and Carol Roan and Susan Williamson for the Essay.

The Internet dating eponym of Robin Chalkley's "Gotta Be Bobby G." finds himself a suspect; Robert Vorsteg's "Longevity of Transient Things" evokes the delicacy of dusting snow; a hospice nurse discovers a comforting presence in Kimberly Condon's "Approaching Death"; a young girl spends a roller-coaster day with her grandmother in "Clara," by Barbara Engler Buskirk. On the evening of its first reading, Charles "LC" Fiore's "The Pit" was described as "the dyslexic agnostic's dilemma: is there a dog?"

Contributors also include North Carolina Writers' Network members Edwin Bouldin (Short Story) and Richard Krawiec (10-Minute Play).

Winston-Salem Writers is a group of writers who write fiction, nonfiction, plays, and poetry, and who care about the art and craft of writing. They offer programs, workshops, critique groups, open mic nights, web-based writing, contests, and writers’ nights out, as well as a weekly newsletter. They welcome writers and poets at any stage of their art—from beginner to published author—and they welcome non-members to their meetings, contests, and newsletter. Their website is www.wswriters.org.

Hats Off! to Jan B. Parker whose story "Lies May Get You Everywhere; It Depends on What You Need," won First Place in the Charlotte Writers' Club 2014 competition, The Ruth Moose Flash Fiction Contest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drop Dead on Recall by Sheila Webster Boneham

Midnight Ink
$14.99, paperback
ISBN 978-0738733067
October, 2012
Mystery
Available for pre-order at your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

When a top-ranked competitor keels over at a dog obedience trial, photographer Janet MacPhail is swept up in a maelstrom of suspicion, jealousy, cut-throat competition, death threats, pet-napping, and murder. She becomes a “person of interest” to the police, and apparently to major hunk Tom Saunders as well. As if murder and the threat of impending romance aren’t enough to drive her bonkers, Janet has to move her mother into a nursing home, and the old lady isn’t going quietly. Janet finds solace in her Australian Shepherd, Jay, her tabby cat, Leo, and her eccentric neighbor, Goldie Sunshine. Then two other “persons of interest” die, Jay’s life is threatened, Leo disappears, and Janet’s search for the truth threatens to leave her own life underdeveloped—for good.

Sheila Webster Boneham is the award-winning author of Drop Dead on Recall, the first book in the Animals in Focus mystery series, and seventeen nonfiction books about animals, including the highly regarded Rescue Matters! How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion Animals. Six of Sheila's books have been named best in their categories by the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers Association, and several others have been finalists in the groups' annual competitions. Sheila also writes narrative nonfiction and poetry, and teaches writing classes and workshops around the country.

More about the book, and Sheila, at www.sheilaboneham.com/fiction.html, or follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sheilawrites or Twitter @sheilaboneham.

Hats Off! to North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Kathryn Stripling Byer whose essay "Needlework," on the haunting and lasting history behind her Summer 2014 poem, “Black Work," appeared in The Georgia Review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Fried Lies by Susan Snowden

Archer Hill Publishing
$16.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-0-9853301-0-1
August, 2012
Fiction
Available from bookstores and www.Amazon.com

Told in the clear, strong voice of Sarah Claiborne, a precocious teenager who reads Kafka and Camus, Southern Fried Lies is the story of a well-to-do Atlanta family in crisis.

The Claibornes appear picture-perfect: Edward, a successful architect; Catherine, active in the church and community; four model children. But life at “Tara” is not what it seems. Catherine’s sole focus has always been her oldest son, Ben; it is as if her other offspring and husband are invisible. When Ben suddenly moves away and refuses to communicate with his mother, Sarah becomes the target of Catherine’s wrath. Her father is too busy to help, and when Catherine’s behavior threatens the safety of all her children, Sarah takes on the task of “fixing” her.

The novel is set in Atlanta and New Orleans in the early 1960s.

An Atlanta native, Susan Snowden has lived in the Asheville area since 1995. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. A grant from the NC Arts Council supported this project. Her website is www.snowdeneditorial.com.

Hats Off! to Rachel Unkefer whose poem "Stolpersteine" appears in the Fall 2014 issue of The Citron Review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleepytime: A Mercy Johnson Novel by Reita Pendry

Laurel Springs Publishing
$11.99, paperback
ISBN: 978-0983954323
June, 2012
Mystery
Available at your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

Sleepy LeBlanc suffers from a sleep disorder, narcolepsy, which causes him to sleep at the wrong times and in the wrong places. When he falls asleep in the men’s dressing room of a department store, surrounded by clothing with price tags still on, he is arrested and charged with burglary. His uptown lawyer refuses to explain his condition at his trial, and he is wrongly convicted.

In prison, he is assigned to the work crew. The crew boss allows him to sleep on the prison bus. One day he is awakened by a guard, who tells him that the crew boss has been murdered and the prisoners have all escaped. So begins his worst nightmare—the FBI agent assigned to investigate the prison guard’s murder believes Sleepy knows about the crime.

He is trying to make a career leap, and to use Sleepy to get up the ladder. If he can solve the prison guard’s murder, he can relocate out of the southern region, and get closer to his home in New York city.

Once the escaped prisoners are caught, they set about to silence Sleepy. The code of silence is enforced with threats against Sleepy’s family, and with attempts to burn his cell and poison him. Sleepy is ensnared in the political ambitions of the FBI agent and the fears of the prison gang of a murder prosecution. Sleepy’s best friend in prison, his ex-wife, and a young prison psychologist work to save him. His sleep disorder proves to be both a curse and a tool to gain his freedom.

Reita Pendry was born in the mountains of North Carolina and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. She graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law and worked for three years in Winston-Salem before moving to the District of Columbia. She practiced law in Washington, D.C. for twenty-five years. For twenty of those years, she was a criminal defense attorney. She now lives and works in Charlotte, where her family resides. She is the author of another Mercy Johnson novel, China White.

Hats Off! to Danny Johnson whose short story "Absence of Color" is forthcoming in Fox Chase Review in October. Danny recently signed with literary agency Gandolfo Helin Literary Management, with offices in LA, New York, Vancouver, Louisville, and Salt Lake City. The primary agent is Renee Fountain in New York.

 

The Burning of Isobel Key

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Burning of Isobel Key by Jen McConnel

BrightFish Press
$14.95 paperback, $2.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-0615684680
October, 2012
Fiction / Contemporary Women
Available at your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

View the trailer!

When Lou travels to Scotland, she’s a mess. She’s twenty-six, unemployed, and unsure of herself. It doesn’t help that she’s traveling with Tammy, her best friend, who is everything Lou is not.

At first, the trip pushes Lou towards the brink of depression, but then she meets Brian, a handsome local tour guide. When Brian tells the tourists about the countless witches burned in Scotland, Lou starts to listen. And when she discovers information about Isobel Key, one of the victims of the seventeenth century, Lou finds renewed purpose.

Lou has begun exploring the Neo Pagan faith, a dramatic shift from her wealthy Catholic upbringing. Despite her fears of being too “hocus pocusy”, Lou turns to her new faith as she struggles to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of Isobel Key. Lou must face her demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”).

She is also an active reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), and proud member of SCBWI, NCWN, and SCWW.

A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.

Follow Jen on Twitter @ProDeaWriter and at her blog: www.jennifermcconnel.wordpress.com.

Hats Off! to Miriam Herin whose second novel, Stones for Bread, has been accepted for publication in the Fall of 2015 by the Livingston Press of West Alabama University. The novel tells the story of poet Henry Beam, whose publication of poems claimed to have been written in a Nazi death camp provokes an authorship controversy still unresolved thirty-four years later. The novel moves back and forth in time from 1997 North Carolina to post-World War I France, to Paris in the early 1950s, and into the horror of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.

 

Hats Off! to Mark Havlik whose flash fiction piece "Rampage at the Herald Weekly" appears in the latest edition of Drunken Boat, Issue 19.

 

Hats Off! to Brenda Kay Ledford whose poems "Crepe Myrtle" and "Kitchen Chores" appeared in the September/ October 2014 issue of West End Poets newsletter.

 

Hats Off! to Mamie Potter whose short story "Countdown" appears in the new anthology Law and Disorder, published by Main Street Rag.

 

Hats Off! to Linda Hardister Rodriguez whose novel Up From the River was published through Lystra Books and Literary Services.

 

Hats Off! to Caroline Taylor who has placed the following articles and stories: "Ticket to Heaven" in The Avalon Literary Review; "Change You Can Believe In" in The Bitchin' Kitsh; "Elective Surgery" in Home Planet News; and "Dumb Beasts" in The Storyteller.

 

Hats Off! to Ruth Moose and Karen Pullen who both have short stories in Carolina Crimes: Nineteen Tales of Lust, Love, And Longing. Moose is the author of "Mama's Boy," while Pullen, who also edited the collection, wrote "The Fourth Girl."

 

Hats Off! to Linda Johnson whose short story "Happy Pills" appears in Carolina Crimes: Nineteen Tales of Lust, Love, And Longing, edited by Karen Pullen with an introduction by Margaret Maron.

 

Hats Off! to Tara Lynne Groth whose short story "Tuna Heart" appears in Mused Literary Review.

 

Hats Off! to Ralph Earle whose poem "The Mill Dam at Bynum" appears in Tar River Poetry.

 

Hats Off! to Marianna Crane whose short story "Hello Beautiful" appeared in the Eno River Literary Journal.

 

Michael MaloneMore than three hundred writers, editors, and literary agents will gather in North Carolina’s largest city this November for the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Twenty-fifth Annual Fall Conference.

The NCWN Fall Conference, first held in 1985, has grown into one of the nation’s largest conferences dedicated to the craft and business of writing. The conference is open to writers of all levels of experience.

“Naturally, we’re excited that our organization has reached this milestone,” said NCWN executive director Ed Southern. “We’re more excited, though, about what this milestone shows: writing in this state is still going strong, and North Carolina’s literary tradition remains vital and vibrant.”

The 2010 Fall Conference will feature a keynote address by novelist Michael Malone, a reading and discussion by North Carolina Poet Laureate Cathy Smith Bowers, and a presentation on Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont by author Georgann Eubanks.

The conference will also offer more than twenty-five workshops and panel discussions for registrants, including three Master Classes for more advanced writers: a Poetry Master Class led by Bowers, a Creative Nonfiction Master Class with author Judy Goldman, and a Fiction Master Class with novelist Robert Inman.

Agents and editors will again participate in the conference’s Manuscript Mart and Critique Service, in which registrants have one-on-one sessions with publishing professionals who will discuss their manuscripts’ strengths and weaknesses.

“Our most important offering,” Southern said, “is the chance for writers to get to know one another, and trade advice, ideas, and encouragement. We have a number of writers who come to the conference year after year, first as registrants, and then—as their careers progress—as instructors.”

Course descriptions and registration information can be found here.

More than 250 writers, editors, and publishing agents will gather November 14 – 16 for the annual North Carolina Writers’ Network Fall Conference, one of the country’s largest conferences dedicated to the art and business of writing.

Registration for this year’s conference, to be held at the Hilton Raleigh-Durham Airport in Research Triangle Park, is now open at the Network’s website, www.ncwriters.org.

This year’s conference will feature a keynote address by North Carolina novelist and poet Ron Rash, author of the new novel Serena, as well as the award-winning One Foot in Eden and The World Made Straight.  The yet-to-be-named Piedmont Laureate, a new position for the Triangle area, will read at the Saturday luncheon.

More than 25 writers will lead workshops, master classes, and panel discussions in topics ranging from understanding how writers can use the Internet to understanding publishing contracts; from writing poems with presence to turning family stories into drama for the stage.

The conference will also again offer the popular Manuscript Mart, Critiquing Service, and Speed Pitching sessions, in which registrants can discuss their unpublished works with book professionals.

The conference faculty includes authors Paul Cuadros, Marjorie Hudson, Randall Kenan, Zelda Lockhart, and Travis Mulhauser; playwright Gary Carden; poets Stuart Dischell, John Amen, and Alex Grant; speculative fiction writer and N.C. State professor John Kessel; memoirist Melissa Delbridge; and mystery author Vicki Lane.

Agents and editors at the conference will include Emmanuelle Alspaugh of Judith Ehrlich Literary Management, Rita Rosencranz of Rita Rosencranz Literary Agency, Kathie Bennett of Magic Time Literary Agents, Stephen Kirk of John F. Blair, Publisher, Amy Rogers of Novello Festival Press, and Kevin Watson of Press53.

The annual banquet on Saturday night will precede the first Network Town Hall Meeting, a chance for members to share their thoughts on the direction and activities of the N.C. Writers’ Network.

“The Fall Conference represents the single most important mission of the North Carolina Writers’ Network: bringing our state’s many writers together to improve their craft, share their ideas, and join in the literary community,” executive director Ed Southern said.

Registration for the Fall Conference is not limited to members of the Network, or even to writers from North Carolina.  Anyone with an interest in writing can sign up online, or by calling the Network at (704) 246-6314 or (919) 251-9140.

Letters from Korea Book 2

Letters from Korea: Legacy of Honor Book Two by Joan Leotta

Desert Breeze Publishing
$4.99, e-book
ASIN: B00E36EEPY
August, 2013
Fiction
Available from www.Amazon.com

Celebrates our veterans who severed in Korea and the people of the time who waited for them on the home front.

Gina has loved Sal since she was a girl. He thinks of her as a little sister—until just before he is sent to Korea. He writes regularly but his letters are full of news about a lovely Korean woman. Gina, on the home front, working in Pittsburgh’s Salk labs on the polio vaccine meets Matt, a young man who sends flowers, not just letters. A bomb in Korea, a treacherous attempt at theft at the labs and more are distractions in the path to true love for Sal and Gina.

As a writer and a performer Joan Leotta follows the same artistic vision. Creating on paper with pen, with light as pen through a camera, or onstage in performance, her artistic goal is always the same: to show the beauty of the ordinary and lift up her audience, encouraging others through pen and performance.

Leotta has been a journalist for many years. Upon retiring to Calabash, NC, she began sending out her poetry and fiction and has been blessed with some success, publishing books (fiction and nonfiction) and several short stories. Her blog is www.joanleotta.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now That I Think About It (Reflections of "Billy the Elder") by Bill Ramsey

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
$10.81, paperback / $4.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1491079270
August, 2013
Memoir/Essay
Available from www.Amazon.com and www.bn.com

Building on the success of his first book, Billy the Kid, author Bill Ramsey has written Now That I Think About It (Reflections of “Billy the Elder”). Billy the Kid focused on Bill’s life as a child in a small town during the 1950s. In it, the author recalled them in a warm way that took older readers back to their own memories, while enlightening younger readers about what life was like for their grandparents. Now, at the age of seventy, Ramsey looks back on life in a collection of original essays in Now That I Think About It (Reflections of “Billy the Elder”). Each essay is about 200 words, and covers a wide range of real-life themes from reading and writing, all the way to religion, family dynamics, and the end of life. The mix is intense, humorous, introspective, motivating, and ironic, and each essay is designed to stimulate reader thinking.

Note from Bill: Thinking can be habit forming. Not thinking can become a habit, too! There is a danger in not thinking, for just as muscles become soft when the body is not exercised, the brain of a non-thinker can soften, too. How often do you think about important topics? What topics do you think about most? What action does your thinking cause you take? This book will address all of those questions and more.

Writing is easier when you have done it all your life. In his youth, Bill Ramsey wrote sports columns for the local newspaper. During his forty-year professional career, he wrote technical manuals, magazine articles, and business newsletters. Now, at seventy-years of age, Bill’s small town upbringing continues to influence his thinking. Like many older citizens, he enjoys reflecting on life experiences and being free to share his thinking with complete candor. A strong supporter of literacy and literature, Bill is involved with readers and writers in the mountains of western North Carolina, where he lives with his wife of forty-eight years.

Trophy: Decision

Trophy: Decision by Paul M. Schofield

Galactic Publishers
$17.95, paperback / $5.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1482601336
August, 2013
Science Fiction
Available at www.Amazon.com

The Empire has narrowly defeated the Freedom Movement for control of the Keyhole, and the rebel leader, Dr. Eng, has escaped back in time through the strange anomaly. She continues in her quest to rebuild her forces, defeat the Empire, and capture people from the past to bring forward to the present. The Empire is determined to stop her and press on with their plan to prevent mankind’s extinction. Lieutenant Janet Rogerton and her dynamic team are challenged with a secret assignment that will determine the survival of the human race. And unknown to everyone a third organization holds the key to mankind’s future. The Decision is at hand. Will the human race survive?

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”
—Aristotle

Born and raised in Montana, immersion in the natural world around Paul M. Schofield was inevitable. As he grew up, he learned the complexities of language and the joy of humor by the daily exchange of witty puns with his father. Just as Mark Twain said, “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” An avid reader, his favorite genre was science fiction by authors like Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert and fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien. Coming of age just in time to watch Star Trek, Star Wars, and Babylon V, his love of science fiction grew and his desire to craft and share his own stories was ignited. And since, as Maya Angelou once said, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”, he became a writer.

When he became chilled to the bone in Montana, he moved to Florida, where he became quite well done…urr, seasoned. Now he and his wife Ellen live in western North Carolina with their highly intelligent cats, contentedly fulfilling our role as “halfbacks”.

“Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.”
—Isaac Asimov

Port Desire

Port Desire by Elizabeth Swann

Finishing Line Press
$14.00, paperback
ISBN# 978-1-62229-400-8
December, 2013
Poetry
Available at your local bookstore or from the publisher

Preorder now!

"These are rich and rewarding poems, summoning us to acknowledge our own courage and the value to our lives of both port and desire. Elizabeth Swann is a poet whose work deserves a wide audience."
—Marjorie Stelmach, author of Bent Upon Light

"'A being between two worlds / conjures terror and bliss,' Elizabeth Swann writes about the archaeopteryx, part reptile, part bird. This unwieldy condition between safety and flight, loss and discovery, life and death, infuses the imagination of this stunning new poet. Whether it’s the wily Bonnie Parker of Bonnie and Clyde fame or a six-thousand-year-old Peruvian mummy now 'on display under glass,' or the child, moccasins torn from her feet, pulled 'shrieking, / into a cotton dress,' Swann tacks between these two worlds, allowing us to feel anew the agony and ecstasy of being alive. This is a remarkable collection. I love it."
—Dannye Romine Powell, author of A Necklace of Bees

"What I love most in these tight, finely crafted poems by Elizabeth Swann is how beautifully they embody our human need for something more. It may take the form of a four-leaf clover, or the larger half of the wishbone, or beating the boys at their own game in 'Learning the Ropes at Sixteen.' Or Darwin’s hunt for the flightless Lesser Rhea in the splendid title poem. 'How easy/it would have been to quit,' the poet writes. But this poet is no quitter. She hangs on through all the vicissitudes of life and keeps wanting more, and in the process gives us this moving, compassionate book of poems."
—Anthony S. Abbott, author of If Words Could Save Us

In Elizabeth Swann’s aptly titled Port Desire, she examines the forces that draw us equally to the safety of harbor and to the hazards of the open ocean, open road, open heart. She tests and braids these contending pulls in circumstances ranging from her own personal and family histories to the voyage of a despairing Charles Darwin and the crime spree of a Bonnie Parker "beyond redemption." She enters into the eyes of artists to compare their conceptions of Mary Magdalene, contemplates the flight of swallows, and studies the bones of the archaeopteryx.

In addition to a wide-ranging intelligence, there is wisdom in these poems. Swann knows that often our strongest desire is for a simple bit of luck, a wishbone’s break or “one perfect aberration / four fast-wilting leaves” of a four-leaf clover. And sometimes we give in to despair, only to be struck with a flash of insight that sends us back to the trash to rescue those bits we’ve already discarded.

In all of these poems, too, there is the skillful music of Swann’s lines. Even in the least likely of scenes, her sounds convince us that there is much to love: "Behind the dilapidated barn," she writes in "Swallows," "shadows alone grow, / a dim shroud / pulled across drought-hard ground."

Elizabeth Swann teaches English and Creative Writing at Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill, South Carolina. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she lives with her family. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including the Atlanta Review, Chicago Tribune, Southern Poetry Review, Ruminate Magazine, Kakalak, Pinesong, and storySouth.

Calving Under the Moon by Sandra Ann Winters

Finishing Line Press
$12.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-62229-362-9
2013
Poetry
Available from the publisher and Amazon.com

“The poems in this debut collection range from earth to stars and cut to the quick. The impulse to confront loss with unflinching honesty is finely balanced by the impulse toward joy and dazzlement—by language, by color, by wild creatures, by sustaining relationships with others. The title poem demonstrates Sandra Winters’ ability to create small stories with large themes. A calf is born. We are drawn from the moment when the cow 'turns her cumbrous head' to the final triumph when 'blood bursts red streams, shooting stars,' and 'the calf slides out wet, a linen-white face.' These are wise poems. Whatever the loss, new life waits. Wisteria dormant for a decade blooms again. The spirit endures and 'we all hang on' ('The Wisteria Blooms').”
—Becky Gould Gibson, author of Need-Fire

Sandra Ann Winters is a member of the North Carolina Writers' Network and the North Carolina Poetry Society.

Her poems have appeared in Southword Journal (Ireland), the North Carolina Literary Review, The Shoal, the Cork Literary Review Volume XV (Ireland), and others. Poems are forthcoming in the Wisconsin Review.

Her poem “Death of Alaska” won the 2011 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition sponsored by the Munster Literature Centre in Ireland. The editors of the North Carolina Literary Review nominated “Water Signs” for the 2011 Pushcart Prize. Most recently her poem “Talking to Okra (from the son’s voice)” won first place in the 2012 Carteret 21st Annual Writing Contest. “My Kitchen” was a runner-up in the 2012 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition. “Still Life” received an honorable mention in the 2012 Deane Ritch Lomax Poetry Competition.

The cover drawing on Calving Under the Moon was created exclusively for this chapbook by North Carolina artist Louis Guidetti.

The Most Educated Idiot I Know

The Most Educated Idiot I Know by Dean Roughton

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
$14.00, paperback / $5.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1470112592
August 27, 2013
Humor/Essays
Available at www.Amazon.com

Where others often try to hide the moments of sheer stupidity in their lives, Dean Roughton is more apt to dress them up, parade them around, and poke them with a stick. A single father and Professor of English, Roughton recounts his idiotic childhood and educational years as well as his adult experiences with dating, parenting, weight loss, a trip to the ER, and, yes, even nearly burning down a halfway house. In The Most Educated Idiot I Know, Dean Roughton demonstrates a proclivity to laugh when others would cry and shows us the value of our mistakes.

Dean Roughton is a single father and a Professor of English at College of The Albemarle in northeastern North Carolina. He holds a BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA in English with a concentration in creative writing from North Carolina State University. He usually gets ready for work by dancing in the shower—with a skill level similar to that of the offspring of a Cuervoed-up lemur and a Rhesus monkey drinking ecstasy/vodka tonics—while listening to hip-hop on Pandora Radio. Because he can if he wants to. You can visit Dean at his website: www.deanroughton.com.

 

Hats Off! to Debra Madaris Efird whose article "UNCG: A Place in the Heart" appears in the Summer online edition of UNCG Magazine.

 

Hats Off! to Liz Dowling-Sendor, editor of Crazy Christians by Michael B. Curry, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Morehouse Publishing recently published the collection of essays.

 

Hats Off! to Harry Calhoun, whose poetry manuscript Alarmed in Space has been accepted for publication by Unbound Content.

 

Hats Off! to Carol Cooley whose short story was chosen as a finalist in the 2013 American Fiction Prize. Her story will be published by New Rivers Press in an anthology titled American Fiction: The Best Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers, Volume 13. The collection is to be released October 2014.

 

Hats Off! to Greenville writer Tony Wayne Brown whose short story, "Bagno Vignoni on the Rocks," has been accepted for print publication by Angeleyes Publications for its Vanilla anthology.

 

Hats Off! to Heather Bell Adams and Cynthia Strauff Schaub, who were named as Honorable Mentions in the 2013 Hard Times Writing Contest sponsored by The Writers' Workshop. This contest invites contestants to "write about a difficult experience in your life, how you overcame this obstacle, and how you were changed by it."

 

Hats Off! to Marilynn Anselmi. An excerpt from her play, You Wouldn't Expect, was published in Magnolia.

 

Hats Off! to Margaret A Harrell, whose memoir Keep THIS Quiet Too! More Adventures with Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky, Jan Mensaert has been reviewed (very positively) in the UK print magazine Beat Scene's spring 2013 issue.

 

Hats Off! to Erika Hoffman, whose story “Keeping it Real” has made it through the first round of selection for Not Your Mother’s Book…on Being a Parent. To date, her stories have appeared in the following NYMB editions: on Being a Woman; on Travel; on Being a Parent; and on the Holidays. This series features stories with a humorous bent.

 

Hats Off! to Sandra Ann Winters. Four of her poems have been included in the newly published Cork Literary Review Volume XV (Ireland). She has been invited to read her poems at an official book launch November 23, 2013, in Cork City, Ireland.

 

Hats Off! to Randy Lee White whose short story, "Eeling by Tirelight," was published by Bartleby Snopes.

 

Hats Off! to Diana Pinckney, who received the Central Piedmont Community College 2013 Irene Blair Honeycutt Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts Award.

 

Hats Off! to Mary Struble Deery who won the 2012-2013 Ruth Moose Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by the Charlotte Writers' Club. Randy White and Tamra Wilson received Honorable Mentions. Winners will be invited to read their work during the Charlotte Writers' Club September meeting.

 

Hats Off! to Gwenyfar Rohler, who profiled No Boundaries Artists Colony for Wilmington Magazine and whose commentary on Moliere's Tartuffe ran on WHQR 91.3 FM Public Radio.

 

Hats Off! to Terri Anastasi whose two poems, "Valentine" and "Lost & Found," have just been published in The Inspired Heart anthology authored by Melinda Cochrane.

 

Hats Off! to Laura T. Jensen whose short story, "The Graduation Speech," will be featured in Sept/Oct Issue of A Long Story Short due out on Sept. 7.

 

Hats Off! to Arthur Powers, who has been named a judge for the 2014 Tom Howard Short Fiction and Essay Contest.

 

Hats Off! to Shelley Stack, whose short story "Bacon in the Fry Pan" has been accepted by The Dos Passos Review for publication in the December 2012 issue!

 

Hats Off! to Sheila Webster Boneham, whose Virtual Book Launch for her new mystery, Drop Dead on Recall, runs through October 11, 2012. Proceeds for Drop Dead for Healthy Dogs benefit canine health research.

 

Hats Off! to M. Scott Douglass and John Thomas York, whose most-recent books are reviewed in the current issue of storySouth. Douglass is the author of the poetry collection Hard to Love. York's debut poetry collection is Cold Spring Rising.

 

Hats Off! to Charles "LC" Fiore, whose short story, "The Gravity of Home," appears in the current issue of storySouth.

 

Hats Off! to Tammy Wilson, whose story, "Traveling Partners," appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That which will be released on September 18. The anthology includes accounts of simple absurdities, funny habits, and crazy antics of fascinating felines.

Larry Johnson received an exemplary review for his poetry book Veins from reviewer John Freeman at Rattle Magazine.  John Freeman writes," Larry Johnson has proven himself a master of traditional craft. For those who still have an ear for superb music in poetry, I highly recommend Veins."

Gary Carden won the $500 prize (second place) in the Porter Fleming Literary Festival for his short story called "Arsenic and Quince."

Carol Kenny was featured on WFMY-TV’s long-running “The Good Morning Show,” talking about her new novel, Whispers from St. Mary’s Well.  You can see a video clip of Carol’s appearance here.

Hats Off to Martha Witt.  Her story, "Home", was recently published in the online journal, Knee-Jerk.

"Jake's Story" was published in nth WORD. ( http://www.nthword.com/issue7/Jake's_Story_Martha_Witt.php)

... to Lynne Tanner.  Cricket Magazine for Kids published her story about polio in its recent edition.

...whose short story, "The Ninth of Av," appears in the current issue of Crab Orchard Review, a special issue entitled, "New and Old: Re-Visioning the American South."

Kim Church's short story "Bullet" has been translated into Farsi and is the title story in the new Iranian anthology, Golouleh.  The story first appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly and has been anthologized in Flash Fiction Forward (W.W. Norton) and
The Great Books Foundation Short Story Omnibus.

 
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