White Cross School Blog


NC Literary Hall of Fame



Born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sarah Creech grew up in a house full of women who told stories about black cloud visions and other premonitions. Her work has appeared in storySouth, Literary Mama, Aroostook Review, Glass, and as a finalist for Glimmer Train. She received an MFA from McNeese State University in 2008 and now teaches English and creative writing at Queens University of Charlotte. She currently lives in North Carolina with her two children and her husband, a poet. Season of the Dragonflies is her first novel.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, Sarah will lead the workshop "First Impressions in the First Few Pages." The famed writers of the Toy Story movies, creators of the endearing toy Woody, knew they wanted his character to end at a place of selflessness. To do so, they thought he needed to start from a place of pure selfishness. The only problem? The audience couldn’t connect with Woody. He had to be rewritten and made into the character we find in the Pixar films today. The beginning of any short story or novel (or screenplay) requires that the audience care about the main character. Characters don’t have to be lovable, but their problems must feel real, with a need for a solution. How do writers create characters an audience cares about? In this workshop, participants will review examples of how professional fiction writers pull this off in the first few pages of a novel or short story. Participants will have an in-class writing exercise to practice creating characters that connect with an audience in the first few pages.

Register now!


What are you reading right now?
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris.

Where is your favorite place to write?
My office at home surrounded by four walls painted a sea blue color called “Cool Jazz.” How does one land a job naming paint colors?

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

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, Colette, Tolstoy.

If you could switch places with one fictional character, who would it be?
Daisy Buchanan.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from Fall Conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
An urgent need to sit down and read.

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?
Queen City. At turns fancy and fickle.

Sunday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "The Many Paths to Publication." What's the first thing you ever published?
A poem I wrote on an envelope in a Civil War cemetery in Virginia. I left it on an unmarked grave. A groundskeeper found the poem and the cemetery board decided to make a plaque for it. It’ll be in that graveyard long after I’m dead.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Unexpected, ambitious, entertaining.

What is the most frustrating or rewarding part of the writing process?
Most frustrating: doubting my choices. Most rewarding: affirmation about said choices.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
This is (at the minimum) a ten-year apprenticeship.

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

Describe your ideal literary festival. Who would give the keynote address? Who would be the featured readers? What else?
I’d rather describe my ideal party for after the readings: Junot Diaz starts the dance party, and just as I’m about to join the fun, Zadie Smith cuts in and says “Sarah, let’s have a drink together and I’ll explain how I became such a brilliant novelist at such a young age. By listening to me this wisdom will rub off on you.” Then Haruki Murakami will come over and say, “Sarah, don’t listen to that. All you need to do is run thirty miles a day. I swear by it. Now I’m going to bed. I wake up with the sunrise each and every day. No time for late parties. Take it from me, that’s the secret to great writing.” Joshua Ferris will tell jokes in the corner surrounded by people who are mesmerized by his pretty blue eyes. Toni Morrison’s laughter will hover over the room. Cormac McCarthy will dance beside Junot Diaz. The poet Mark Strand will tell us all when it is time to go to bed.

Do you steal hotel pens?
No, but I do steal extra samples at Harris Teeter.


The North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference runs November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, in Charlotte. Registration is now open.


SOUTHERN PINES, NC—The Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines houses the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, a living celebration of the state’s rich literary heritage. Fifty-three authors have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since its founding in 1996.

On Sunday, October 12, at 2:00 pm, four poets will join them: Betty Adcock, Ronald H. Bayes, Jaki Shelton Green, and Shelby Stephenson. Hailing from Raleigh, Mebane, Laurinburg, and Benson respectively, their varied backgrounds paint a vivid picture of North Carolina literature past, present, and future.

Sunday’s ceremony will include readings by North Carolina’s seventh poet laureate Joseph Bathanti, plus Barbara Braveboy-Locklear, Teresa Church, Nora Shepard, and more. J. Peder Zane will serve as Master of Ceremonies, and the exhibit hall will host several North Carolina literary organizations. The Country Bookshop, located in Southern Pines, will be on hand to sell books by the inductees.

To learn more about the Hall of Fame, and the 2012 inductees, watch this video, courtesy of Beth-Ann Kutchma and Chasing the Mad Lion Productions.

For the purposes of induction into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, a North Carolina writer is defined as one who is:

  • significantly shaped by his or her time in the state, and/or
  • identified in the public’s mind as a North Carolinian and/or
  • self-identified as a North Carolinian.

Writers selected for induction into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame meet the following criteria:

  • the writer is acclaimed nationally or internationally;
  • the quality of the work is exemplary;
  • the writer has influenced the development and appreciation of literature in North Carolina; and
  • the writer has achieved a formative and significant place in the annals of North Carolina literature.

“I am very honored and humbled that my peers, that my legacy of service to the state, that my legacy of trying to have good practices and trying to have literary excellence is recognized,” Jaki Shelton Green said in a recent interview, “that it matters.”

Largely self-educated—she has no degrees—Betty Adcock was Writer in Residence at Meredith College in Raleigh, where she taught until 2006 and twice held the Mary Lynch Johnson Professorship. She is the author of six poetry collections and the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the North Carolina Medal for Literature, among many other honors and awards.

Ronald H. Bayes is the Writer-in-Residence and Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing Emeritus at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg. His collection Greatest Hits 1960-2002 was published by Pudding House Publications in 2003, following Chainsong for the Muse (Northern Lights Press, 1993).

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. She was the 2009 Piedmont Laureate.

Shelby Stephenson has published many collections of poems. He is the former editor of Pembroke Magazine. His Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize. His website is

The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame is a program of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Since 2008, the Network and the Weymouth Center collaborate with the North Carolina Center for the Book, the North Carolina Humanities Council, and the North Carolina Collection of the Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill to produce the induction ceremony and to promote the NCLHOF and North Carolina’s literary heritage.

John G. Hartness is a teller of tales, righter of wrongs, and some call him the Pompetus of Love. Okay, maybe he’s an urban fantasy and horror author from Charlotte with a background in theatre and a love for fried pickles and loud music. John is the author of The Black Knight Chronicles from Bell Bridge Books, available wherever books or e-books are sold. He’s also the creator of the comedic horror icon Bubba the Monster Hunter, and the short stories that bear his name. John is an award-winning poet, lighting designer, and theatre producer, whose work has been translated into over twenty-five languages and read worldwide. He’s been published in several online literary journals including The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, cc&d, Deuce Coupe, and Truckin’. His poem “Dancing with Fireflies” was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize. John is also the host of the YouTube series Literate Liquors, where he pairs fantasy and science fiction novels with the appropriate alcohol. He can be found online at and spends too much time on Twitter (@johnhartness), especially after a few drinks.

At the 2014 North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, John will join the panel discussion, "The Many Paths to Publication," with Kim Boykin and Karon Luddy. Traditional or Indie, Big 5 or Small Press, Digital or Print: writers have never had more possible, viable paths to publication to choose from, which can make choosing harder than ever before. This panel discussion will feature three authors who have followed more than one of those paths, and can tell you what they discovered along the way.

Register now!


What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
Don't Quit Your Day Job.

Did you have a teacher or mentor who had a big, positive impact on you?
I had a ton of great teachers who took an interest in my writing over the years, particularly in high school. But the biggest was Deborah Hobbs, my English teacher for 9th - 11th grade. She made sure to push me to excel and never let up.

Who is your literary hero?
Probably Pat Conroy.

If you could live in any literary world for the rest of your life, where would you find yourself?
I'm good where I am. Literary worlds are generally pretty f'd up places, since writers love to torture their characters.

If you could have written one book that someone else wrote, which book would it be?
I couldn't. No interest.

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?
Get over yourself. The days of writers as these brilliant fragile creatures working in solitude in some ivory tower are long over. Get your head out of your ass and network. I have zero sympathy or patience for people who are unwilling to put in the work networking to make their own success. If you're really that much of a wilting lily, get drunk first. It'll take the edge off.

Who gave the best reading or talk you've ever been to? What made it so good?
Ann Bogart and Ben Cameron can give me goosebumps with their passion for the arts. James Earl Jones made me weep with his honesty.

Any advice for attendees who sign up for the Open Mic?
Practice. Work that is performed is a PERFORMANCE, the interaction with the audience is much more important than the words on the page. Watch videos of slam poetry performers and steal from them. Be a mf'in rock star. We can all read, now ENGAGE me. Thrill me, make me live in your words.

The city of Charlotte was founded on two established Native American trading routes. Now, of course, it's the 2nd 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'm usually selling books, and will be at this event as well. But if I'm there just attending, then I'm networking. I'm looking for publishers that publish my kind of work and trying to make connections with decision-makers. I'm not there to chat, this is a business. That said, I'll happily chat at the bar later.

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'm a genre fiction guy, so give me a genre fiction cover. Tell me what the book is about, and evoke a feeling. Thieftaker by DB Jackson is an excellent example of this. It sets the tone, the location and hints at a magical element, all without hitting me over the head with it.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from the conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
That this should be fun, and funny, and it's not all so bloody serious all the time. For god's sake, if you can't laugh at yourself, everyone else certainly will do it for you. Writing is hard, it's a difficult business to break into and almost impossible to make any money at, so do anything you can to have a good time in the process.

What is your guilty pleasure read?
I have no guilt, so I'll read anything. I love YA SF and Fantasy, I write comic horror and urban fantasy, I write poetry, I read alternate history and thrillers, and I'm a huge fan of graphic novels. Read what you love, screw anybody who judges you for it.

What makes you cringe when you see it on the page?
Passive voice, purple prose and stories that don't go anywhere.

Caffeine of choice? (English Breakfast, Caramel macchiato, etc.)
Mountain Dew.


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


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