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RALEIGH—At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Fall Conference, November 4-6 in Raleigh, award-winning mystery writer Art Taylor will lead a class titled, "Sharp, Succinct & Suspenseful: Crafting the Mystery Story."

Art Taylor is the author of On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and a finalist for both the Anthony and the Macavity Award for Best First Novel. He edited the collection Murder Under the Oaks, a finalist for this year’s Anthony for Best Anthology. He has also won two Agatha Awards, the Anthony Award, the Macavity Award, and three consecutive Derringer Awards for his short fiction. Stories have appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, in the Chesapeake Crime anthologies This Job Is Murder, Homicidal Holidays, and Storm Warning, and in other journals and anthologies. He teaches at George Mason University and contributes frequently to the Washington Post, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and Mystery Scene.

In "Sharp, Succinct & Suspenseful: Crafting the Mystery Story," attendees will ask themselves what makes a mystery? How do you build suspense? Where can I sell my crime story? Art Taylor will offer tips for writing and marketing short mystery stories. From detective fiction to domestic suspense to hard-hitting noir, various subgenres of the mystery offer different challenges for building on tradition and meeting reader expectations. This workshop will examine some specific passages from published crime fiction and look at how they keep aspects of the story in balance: strong prose as much as a fast-paced plot, compelling characters as much as a cleverly solved crime. A discussion of the ever-evolving market for mystery stories will conclude the session.

We asked Art, “What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger writer self?”

“The advice I’d give to my younger self is—and this is telling—the same advice I’d give to myself now: Write something every day or at least check in on your writing every day.

"Too many times, then and now, I’ve allowed my writing to slip to the back burner while I’m tending too much to other matters. Certainly I have a day job that requires considerable attention (I teach); certainly there are e-mails to answer (and, yes, social media to tend to); and no doubt all of us have personal matters that often take priority: significant others, children, parents. But in the midst of all that, try to find some portion of the day to at least check in on your writing.

"Even if you can’t devote several hours to drafting or revising, there are ways to keep the process going. Read a passage from the previous day’s writing and revise lines as needed. Jot down ideas that have come your way for details, character traits, plot twists. Just open the file on your computer and stare at it for a few minutes. I’m convinced that even these small check-ins keep your mind connected to whatever you’re working on and help keep the momentum going when you do find yourself with more time to immerse yourself in your work-in-progress. (The flip side, of course, is coming back to that WIP cold: Where was I? What was I thinking about here? Where am I going?)

"Even one step is a step further along the path: toward finishing a specific work, toward publication, or toward improving your craft generally—or best yet, toward all three.”

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Fall Conference opens Monday, August 29, at www.ncwriters.org.

 

RALEIGH—The North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Fall Conference runs November 4-6 at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley. Programming includes breakfast panel discussions, faculty readings, an open mic for conference participants, and a Saturday night banquet featuring North Carolina's poet laureate Shelby Stephenson.

Registration opens on Monday, August 29.

Fall Conference is the largest annual writing event in the state and one of the largest and most inclusive writing conferences in the country. But it wouldn't be possible without support from our sponsors.

Alice Osborn: Editor/Book Coach/Author will sponsor the Welcome Reception on Friday night. (Thanks to Alice, there will be food at the reception!) Alice has published three poetry collections and edited two anthologies. She is the founder of Write from the Inside Out, a professional manuscript editing service specializing in fiction, creative nonfiction, memoir, and poetry. She coaches authors through the book writing process; works with published authors on their book marketing and publishing strategies; and is a sought-after speaker at engagements across the southeast. Alice is a Trustee of the North Carolina Writers' Network and will lead a class at Fall Conference titled "How to be a Rock Star at PR."

2016 North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee and five-time Agatha-award winning mystery writer Margaret Maron will give the Keynote Address on Friday night.

A Book Signing will follow the Keynote Address, sponsored by The Piedmont Laureate Program. The Piedmont Laureate Program, co-sponsored by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, Durham Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission, and United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County, has as its primary goal: “to promote awareness and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts in the Piedmont region.” The program is dedicated to building a literary bridge for residents to come together and celebrate the art of writing, enriching the lives of all our citizens. The program nominates one Piedmont Laureate each year in a rotation of genres.

The 2017 application is open to writers living in Wake, Durham, or Orange Counties who meet the application criteria. The 2017 Piedmont Laureate will be a poet. The deadline is September 22.

At Fall Conference, Saturday's lunch will offer a panel discussion on Food Writing, featuring Debbie Moose, Bridgette A. Lacy, and John Shelton Reed—all of whom have books out from the University of North Carolina Press, which will sponsor Saturday's luncheon.

For over ninety years, the University of North Carolina Press has earned national and international recognition for quality books and the thoughtful way they are published. UNC Press books explore important questions, spark lively debates, generate ideas, and move fields of inquiry forward. They illuminate the life of the mind. With almost 5,000 titles published and almost 3,000 titles still in print, UNC Press produces books that endure. Titles include Southern Holidays by Debbie Moose; Sunday Dinner by Bridgette A. Lacy; and Barbecue by John Shelton Reed—all of which are part of the Savor the South cookbook series from UNC Press.

On Saturday night, Al Manning will sponsor the Open Mic, which is open to all conference registrants on a first-come, first-served basis. Al is a Trustee of NCWN and the regional rep for the Chatham-Lee Counties regional group of NCWN, otherwise known as the Pittsboro Writers' Morning Out. This group meets on the second Saturday of the month in the Barley Lounge of the Carolina Brewery in Pittsboro. Al is the author of Curmudgeon's Book of Nursery Rhymes.

The NCWN 2016 Fall Conference is made possible in part by the North Carolina Arts Council. The Arts Council has been a statutory state agency since 1967. Their core functions include creating a strong and efficient arts infrastructure across North Carolina; planning and implementing economic development using the arts; education; and research.

The Arts Council believes that artists are an integral part of civic life as they stimulate creativity, innovation and dialogue. Our cities vibrate with the energy of the arts; and our rural communities reach deep into their roots and celebrate their unique traditions. Residents in every corner of N.C. have the chance to engage their artistic aspirations. The arts help children flourish through a complete education that prepares them for the workforce with 21st century skills. The arts build bridges where diverse communities reach across boundaries to celebrate and share their cultures. The arts are an essential ingredient in state policy, practice and pride.

Registration for the NCWN 2016 Fall Conference opens Monday, August 29.

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.

 

RALEIGH—At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Fall Conference, November 4-6 in Raleigh, members of the Triangle Association of Freelancers will lead the panel discussion "Freelance Writing 101." Moderated by Donald Vaughan, this panel also includes Mark Cantrell, Christa Gala, and Corbie Hill.

"Freelance Writing 101" will be a ninety-minute panel discussion that provides a detailed introduction to nonfiction freelance writing, including topics such as how to break in as a freelancer, general vs. niche freelancing, national vs. regional freelancing, finding and developing marketable ideas, maintaining momentum, working with editors, and the additional opportunities available to established freelance writers.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Fall Conference opens Monday, August 29, at www.ncwriters.org.

We asked Mark, Corbie, and Donald, “What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger writer self?”

"If I could advise the version of me who had just gotten his first book contract and was freaking out," Mark says, "I'd tell him this: 'Rather than look at the enormity of the project, break it up into sections and focus only on one piece at a time. Look at each chapter as you would a magazine article, which you already know how to write. When you've finished it, move on to the next, and eventually you'll have your book.'"

Mark Cantrell is the author of A Weird-Oh World: The Art of Bill Campbell, The Everything Weather Book, and co-author of Saddam: The Face of Evil and Sixteen Minutes From Home: The Space Shuttle Columbia Tragedy. He has written hundreds of articles for publications such as Military Officer Magazine, Air&Space Smithsonian, Baylor Innovations, and MAD Magazine.

"In a lot of ways, confidence is more critical than ability," says Corbie, who's authored hundreds of articles. "If you sincerely believe that you can one day write for this or that newspaper, you will find a way to gain the skill set, but believing has to come first. Doubt can sink you, fast. Also, be patient. This doesn't happen overnight."

Corbie Hill makes a freelance living by writing constantly: in 2015, nearly 200 features, profiles, and columns bearing his byline ran in regional papers and magazines. His primary outlet is The News & Observer in Raleigh, though he also regularly appears in INDY Week, Midtown Magazine, Mountain XPress, Charlotte Viewpoint, Creative Loafing Charlotte, and a number of other publications.

"One of the most important things I would tell my younger writer self is to diversify," says Donald, founder of TAF. "By that, I mean cast a wide net when it comes to writing opportunities and don't focus on just a small handful of markets. Diversity puts a few eggs in many baskets, and can be a lifesaver when one area of work starts to crumble. I learned this the hard way after 9/11. I lost several lucrative markets in the wake of that disaster, and even had to spend a few months working retail to support myself until I could land some replacement markets and crawl my way out. Today, I try to keep my hand in as many different areas of freelancing as I can."

Donald Vaughan has been making his living with words for thirty-eight years, and has worked as a full-time freelance writer for twenty-five years. During that time, he has published more than 1,900 articles and columns in an eclectic array of markets, including The News & Observer in Raleigh, Writer’s Digest, Boys’ Life, Military Officer Magazine, Cure Magazine, and MAD Magazine. In addition, Don has written, co-written, or contributed to more than thirty books on topics ranging from the Civil War to American festivals. He is the founder of Triangle Association of Freelancers, one of the largest organizations in North Carolina devoted to all aspect of freelance writing.

Christa Gala, a professional freelance writer and adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Media and Journalism, will also sit on the panel. In 2015, she combined teaching with the launch of Raleigh Magazine, a monthly publication featuring a hybrid of news journalism and lifestyle writing. Christa has written for www.golfdigest.com, North Carolina State University, Our State, and The News & Observer in Raleigh, among others. She was a columnist for the Cary News; her work has also been featured in four Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her clients have included Girl Scouts of America, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Duke Medical Center, Hummingbird Creative Group, and a variety of regional restaurants and businesses.

The Triangle Association of Freelancers is an informal but actively working organization of North Carolina-based freelance writers. Though informal, TAF maintains a professional attitude toward freelance writing. The organization’s approach has always been to write toward publication, and that writers should be paid appropriately for their work. A core philosophy within TAF is that writing is an ongoing educational experience. With that in mind, the organization has hosted an eclectic array of talented guest speakers at its monthly meetings, which happen on the last Wednesday of the month at Red Hot & Blue, 6615 Falls of Neuse Rd., in Raleigh. Dinner is at 5:30 pm, and the meeting begins at 7:00 pm. Newcomers welcome. Their website is www.tafnc.com.

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.

 

 
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