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NC Literary Hall of Fame

 

 

 

by Julie Martin*

When I registered for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference in Wrightsville Beach, I had the product of a life-changing, three-year journey in my laptop: a completed novel. I hoped the conference would provide some insight into how to get my work published. I knew that meant attending the workshops, meeting people, talking about our art.

But I was basically an introvert who loved writing and reading. That’s when I energized. I plunged in anyway, relieved on Friday night to see someone I knew right off the bat: writer and editor Elizabeth Humphrey. She introduced me to Emily Louise Smith of Lookout Books, then Clyde Edgerton, Friday night’s keynote speaker.

I joined the audience, hoping Edgerton would be entertaining, and he was. He played his mandolin, told the stories that inspired his books, tossed pearls our way. “Embrace uncertainty,” he said. I pondered that as I thought about how I could grow as a writer, reaching in so I could reach out.

On Saturday and Sunday, I pretty much ignored the workshop topics and instead went for the instructors from whom I wanted to learn, no matter what they were teaching. Edgerton’s fiction writing session was funny and informative. “Focus on human relationships,” he advised. “Uncover characters’ pain. Their sorrow. Regret.” I left the workshop with lots of notes and a handy story topology grid to help with sorting out point of view, time, voice, and so forth.

 

Emily Colin’s terrific workshop “How Not to Win the 'Bad Sex Award'” focused on what worked in sex scenes, using examples from class participants and other writers. I was given useful feedback on a scene from my book: where to prune, where to embellish. In “Editing Your Own Work: Much More than Grammar and Punctuation,” Elizabeth Humphrey and Addy Robinson McCulloch led a discussion of editing strategies and provided a nifty checklist. In Susan Steadman’s hands-on workshop, we created our own compelling characters, a nice break at the end of the conference.

During a “Manuscript Mart” session with Emily Louise Smith, I received what I’d been after: lots of detailed, candid advice from a pro about how to improve my novel and how to present it to an agent. I also met briefly with Michelle Brower, an agent who recently had turned down my manuscript. We discussed options for revision.

Finally, I went shopping, one of the big bonuses of attending a conference. I picked up Emily Colin’s Memory Thief from Pomegranate Books as a Christmas gift for my mother, along with two copies of Edgerton’s Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers for my nephews (both expecting babies). I also bought a subscription to Ecotone for our household and a couple of copies of Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision from Lookout Books.

Armed and energized, I am undertaking the revisions on my novel and will soon submit to a new batch of agents.

***

Julie Martin lives in a magical parallel universe, otherwise known as Wilmington. She is seeking an agent for her novel, Maiden, and is deep into a book of short stories, The Hotel Esmeralda. An award-winning newspaper reporter and editor for twenty-three years, she now works as a proposal manager for PPD. She and her husband, Steve, have two grown children and two grandsons. 

*This article first appeared in Writers' Network News: Spring, 2014.

 

CHARLOTTE, NC—The 2014 Fall Conference of the North Carolina Writers' Network will be November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel.

Full details and online registration will be available on this site after Labor Day. Registration by mail or phone will open then, as well.

This year's Fall Conference will feature a keynote address by North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Allan Gurganus; talks by Joseph Bathanti and Wilton Barnhardt; Master Classes led by Morri Creech (poetry), Aaron Gwyn (fiction), and Cynthia Lewis (creative nonfiction); a full schedule of workshops and panel discussions; and the Manuscript Mart and Critique Service with agents and editors.

Instructors will include Anthony S. Abbott, Chantel Acevedo, Kim Boykin, Moira Crone, Julie Funderburk, Priscilla Goudreau-Santos, A. J. Hartley, Zelda Lockhart, Rebecca McClanahan, Alan Michael Parker, Amy Rogers, Carin Siegfried, Betsy Thorpe, Cedric Tillman, Kim Wright, and many more.

Check out last year's conference offerings here, and keep an eye on this website for more details coming soon!

 

SOUTHERN PINES, NC—On Sunday, October 12, at 2:00 pm, four poets will be inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.

Betty Adcock, Ronald H. Bayes, Jaki Shelton Green, and Shelby Stephenson will be honored in a ceremony at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines. They will join the fifty-three inductees currently enshrined.

The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame celebrates and promotes the state’s rich literary heritage by commemorating its leading authors and encouraging the continued flourishing of great literature. Inductions are held every other year. A list of inductees, as well as samples of their work and video clips of past inductions, can be found online at www.nclhof.org.

Largely self-educated—she has no degrees—Betty Adcock studied and wrote poetry through early marriage, early motherhood, and more than a decade working in the business world. After her first book was published, she held a teaching residency for a semester at Duke University. Other residencies followed, culminating in an ongoing position as 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). His poetry has appeared in Cold Mountain Review, Crucible, Northwest Review, Oyster Boy Review, Pembroke Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Prism International, Solo, and TriQuarterly.

 

 

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.

Shelby Stephenson 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.

The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame was founded in 1996, under the leadership of poet laureate Sam Ragan, and 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.

 

 
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