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WINSTON-SALEM―November 15 officially marked the start of Contest Season for the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Between now and March 1, four annual contests will accept submissions. Winners and finalists will be awarded more than $3,000 in cash prizes. Submission dates and guidelines vary.

North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Thomas Wolfe is one of the Tar Heel State’s most widely recognized authors. His life and work are celebrated by the The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, which is now open for submissions and runs through January 30. The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize is facilitated by Tommy Hays and the Great Smokies Writing Program

Lee Smith, a 2008 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, is the final judge. The winner of the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize receives $1,000 and possible publication in The Thomas Wolfe Review.

The Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition encourages the creation of lasting nonfiction that is outside the realm of conventional journalism and has relevance to North Carolinians. Subjects may include traditional categories such as reviews, travel articles, profiles or interviews, place/history pieces, or culture criticism. The first-, second-, and third-place winners will receive $1,000, $300, and $200 respectively. The winning entry will be considered for publication by Southern Cultures magazine.

Submissions for the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition are open now through January 17. The final judge is Wilmington travel, culinary, and culture writer, Jason Frye.

Author and beloved professor of creative writing Doris Betts, a 2004 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, is honored each year by the Doris Betts Fiction Prize. This competition opens for submissions on January 1 and closes February 15. The first-place finisher receives $250; up to ten finalists will be considered for publication in the North Carolina Literary Review, which also facilitates this contest.

Contest Season concludes with the Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition, accepting submissions between January 15 and March 1. The Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition, which honors North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame poet Randall Jarrell, awards the winner publication in storySouth and $200. This prize is facilitated by the MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Guidelines and past winners for each contest can be found on the individual contest pages. Click here for general information on Contest Season and links to the four annual contests.

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.

 

Charlotte—The North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference opens today and runs through Sunday, November 23. On-site registration will be available beginning at 3:00 pm. For a complete schedule, click here.

Please note, the following workshops are full:

  • "All Shapes and Sizes: A Workshop on Novel Structure" with Chantel Acevedo
  • “Making Their Stories Your Own” with Rebecca McClanahan
  • “First Impressions in the First Few Pages” with Sarah Creech
  • “The Mirror Exercise: Producing a Whole Short Work in Less Than an Hour” with Zelda Lockhart

The Master Classes will be closed to on-site registration as well. But plenty of excellent options remain in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

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 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,” 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.”

Fall Conference sponsors include Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council, the Blumenthal Foundation, Bublish, Charlotte Magazine, John F. Blair, Publisher, Alice Osborn (www.aliceosborn.com), Al Manning, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Queens University of Charlotte MFA in Creative Writing.

 

On-site registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference will open Friday, November 21, at 3:00 pm at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, in Charlotte. There, Erika Marks will sit on a panel titled, "Structure: Four Ways to Build a Book" with Kim Boykin, Marybeth Whalen, and Kim Wright.

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.

Erika Marks is a native New Englander who now makes her home in Charlotte with her husband and two children. On the winding road to publishing, she has worked as an illustrator, an art director, a cake decorator, and a carpenter--but writing has always been her greatest passion. She is the author of The Guest House, The Mermaid Collector, Little Gale Gumbo, and It Comes in Waves, all published by NAL/Penguin. Her love of the sea keeps her stories tied to the shore, as well as her love for stories of the heart. You can reach her directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

What are you reading right now?
Euphoria by Lily King.

Where is your favorite place to write?
My office which happens to be the back corner of our sunroom at the moment.

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

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
It might be a tie between Alice Hoffman and Stephen King.

If you could switch places with one fictional character, who would it be?
Holy cow—how to pick just one? At the top would have to be Claudia from The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Franiweiler. She gets to live at the Met Museum, for goodness’ sake! I always envied her that adventure.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from Fall Conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
That they have a clearer sense of what kind of story-writing structure works best for them and can hit the ground running when they get home!

Sunday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "The Many Paths to Publication." What's the first thing you ever published?
My first novel, Little Gale Gumbo, which was released by NAL in 2011—I had been submitting manuscripts for twenty years at that point.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Engrossing, moving, well-developed.

What is the most frustrating or rewarding part of the writing process?
Most frustrating is that sense that a work is never done and knowing that one day you have to stop fussing it and simply say “It’s done” so you can move on to a new story. Most rewarding is getting to rework a story to a point where is rich and newly exciting each time you do.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
That it takes time to get a story to a place where it’s ready to be read, either by editors or agents or other readers. Drafts are your friend.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
Another great question—Life of Pi or The Shipping News might top that list.

Do you steal hotel pens?
Yes—but I wasn’t aware that was stealing. No, really! But I take home the shampoo and soaps too because I would hate to think they get thrown away unused. (That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.)

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The North Carolina Writers' Network runs November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, in Charlotte. On-site registration will be available.

 

 
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