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By Danielle “Danny” Bernstein

NORTH CAROLINA—Sometimes it’s what happens toward the end that is the most important.

In the right place!I signed up for the Creative Nonfiction track, led by Virginia Holman, at the Network’s 2011 Squire Summer Writing Residency. I prepared by reading her memoir Rescuing Patty Hearst and fretting about which eight pages of my own to send to be workshopped. Finally I took a chance and sent in pages from a new project that I'm considering. After publishing two hiking guides, I am starting a travel adventure; I'm trying not to use the word memoir. I have 200 pages of notes and blog entries about hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail through North Carolina, but the questions I came with were “Do I have a book?” and “How do I go forward from these notes?”

I received pages from my classmates and saw how different they were from mine. Two wrote about difficult family situations, one about lessons learned over a long and successful life. The only fellow in our group had written a family history about his ancestor in the Civil War. What if they thought my writing trivial and inconsequential?

I love New Bern. I've been there twice, and I jumped at a legitimate reason for traveling 375 miles from Asheville to delve into more of its history. I came a day early because I knew that once the residency started, we would be immersed in writing: our own, and everyone else’s.

For our first evening, the Network had made arrangements for a trip to the John Wright Stanly House, close to Tryon Palace. The house was built in the early 1780s by a well-to-do shipping magnate and Revolutionary leader. Three generations of “Stanly women” told us their stories. They were terrific. I took good notes because I was sure that we'd have to write about it—we didn't.

Registrants tour the Stanly HouseThe next morning we met in our group and Virginia started by workshopping everyone's work. Since our group was small, we each had ninety minutes. That's a lot, and I felt that my eight pages didn't deserve all that time.

But the discussion wasn't just about what was on the page, but where this was going, and how to keep writing. Virginia explained that we needed to search for our “narrative persona.” A memoir can't be just a sequence of events; it needs to be consequential. At first, this didn't mean much to me, but I wrote it down dutifully.

Faculty and student readings were scheduled in between the workshops. That opened up the residency to more than just our small group. There was a panel session on how to appeal to editors and agents—the perennial discussion on how to get published.

Once all our pieces were workshopped, Virginia gave us some exercises to jog our memories and get us to write spontaneously. We had to draw a map of a place that we knew well, label it, and write what happened there. I’m not much of an artist, but I drew a map of the entrance to the Smokies from the Cherokee Reservation. Then I wrote about meeting a Cherokee woman and her small nursery-school class on the Oconaluftee River Trail. I had forgotten about her, but with a map, I could recollect so much.

For another exercise, we had to bring a photograph that meant something to us and write about it. I had seen these exercises in books before, but I had never done them. It took a class and a workshop leader to make me see how useful these were.

Saturday dinner at Captain Ratty'sOn the last day, each of us met with Virginia privately. She had given me an essay by Phillip Lopate titled “Writing Personal Essays: On the Necessity of Turning Oneself into a Character.” We discussed the article, and it confirmed what she said in the workshop: no one can write about his or her whole self, so what will be my persona for what I’m writing?

Then came the payoff. Virginia suggested that each chapter of my adventure be turned into a series of problems and solutions as a way of creating this strong narrative persona. Then I can divide my stories under several categories such as the hike itself, historical thread, and emotional thread. She said, “Build it like a mosaic and then organize the material.”

It was a long, hot drive back to Asheville as I tried to keep my mind on the road, and not on my book.

***

DANIELLE "DANNY" BERNSTEIN is a hiker, hike leader, and outdoor writer. Her two guidebooks Hiking the Carolina Mountains (2007) and Hiking North Carolina's Blue Ridge Heritage (2009) were published by Milestone Press. She writes for regional magazines including Mountain Xpress and Smoky Mountain Living and blogs about the outdoors at www.hikertohiker.com.

 

 

 

Hats Off! to Debra Madaris Efird whose works entitled "The Cape Fear River: Medley of Magnificence" and "In a Sky Near You: One Woman's Story" were published as the feature articles in the Summer 2013 issue of The Carolinas Today magazine.

 

Hats Off! to Leigh Sanders, whose opinion piece "Agony, Grief, and a Refusal to Bend to NC Lawmakers" appeared in the July 16, 2013, edition of the Raleigh News & Observer.

 

Hats Off! to Joan Leotta, whose poem "Kitty Hawk Hang Gliding School" won third place in the San Francisco Dancing Poetry Contest.

 

Hats Off! to Maren O. Mitchell, whose nonfiction book Beat Chronic Pain, An Insider's Guide has been reviewed by The Midwest Book Review, and is featured in the July 2013 issue of their book review publication Small Press Bookwatch, on the Health/Medicine Shelf. The review is also posted with the Cengage Learning, Gale interactive CD-ROM series "Book Review Index," which is published quarterly for academic, corporate, and library systems.

 

Hats Off! to Laura T. Jensen, whose memoir Step by Step recently received a 5-star rating with Barnes & Noble Nook Books as a "great summer read."

 

Hats Off! to Walter Bennett, whose novel Leaving Tuscaloosa was favorably reviewed in the Southern Literary Review.

 

Hats Off! to Ron Jackson, whose memoir essay "Letter to a Drowning Sailor" was accepted by the University of Nebraska Press for publication in an anthology of military-related writing covering all genres. It will be published Spring, 2014, under the Potomac Books imprint (acquired by U of N). It is a letter to his deceased father, who was shelled in the Pacific in WWII. His father survived, but was never the same.

 

Hats Off! to Normandie Fischer, whose new novel Becalmed was featured in the New Bern Sun Journal.

 

Hats Off! to C. David Gelly, whose novel Fancy Gap has been serialized in Virginia's Galax Gazette.

 

Hats Off! to Linda Heuring, whose short story, "Whatever Will Do," was published in Clover: A Literary Rag, Volume 5, Summer 2013. This story had been long-listed for the Fish Prize in Ireland in 2011 and judge Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) awarded it Third Place in the Elizabeth Simpson Smith Short Story Prize from the Charlotte Writers' Club that same year.

 

Hats Off! to Kathryn Kirkpatrick and Alan Michael Parker: Kathryn won the 2012 Brockman-Campbell Award for her book, Our Held Animal Breath, while Alan's Long Division was named as an Honorable Mention. The contest is sponsored by the North Carolina Poetry Society and honors the best book-length volume of poetry published in the prior calendar year.

 

 

Hats Off! to Sheila Turnage, whose new kids novel Three Times Lucky is recommended middle-grade summertime reading by the Washington Post's "KidsPost," Publishers Weekly, and The Horn Book, among others. Go Mo and Dale!

 

Hats Off! to David Radavich, who has received the 2012 Zelda and Paul Gitlin Literary Award for the best essay published on Thomas Wolfe during 2011. The award was presented at the May conference of the Thomas Wolfe Society in Asheville. Radavich served as president of the Society from 2008-2010.

 

Hats Off! to Flora Ann Scearce, who won First Place in the 2012 Carteret Writers’ 21st Annual Writing Contest ("Fiction") and Third Place in the "Writing for Children" category. First Place winners each received $100 and a plaque. Second and third place winners received $50 and $25 respectively, and certificates. Manuscripts that placed in the contest will be published in Carteret Writers’ literary journal, Shoal, planned for summer release.

 

Hats Off! to Kathryn Lovatt, Gary Powell, Gregg Cusick, and Arthur Powers: all of whom were honored in the 2012 Press 53 Open Awards: Short Story competition. Kathryn claimed First Place for her story "How to Euthanize a Fish." Gary received an Honorable Mention for his story, "Super Nova." And both Gregg and Arthur were named finalists for their stories "Ghosts of Doubt" and "The Bridge," respectively. The Final Judge was Clifford Garstang.

 

Hats Off! to Art Taylor, Arthur Powers, and Jane Shlensky, who cleaned house in the 2012 Press 53 Open Awards: Flash Fiction. Art claimed First Prize for his story, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Arthur and Jane were both named finalists for their stories "Famine" and "Dogs, Work" respectively. The Final Judge was Meg Pokrass.

Hats Off! to Peg Bresnahan of Cedar Mountain, whose three poems won Second Prize at the 2012 Press 53 Open Awards: Poetry. The Final Judge was Tom Lombardo.

 

Hats Off! to David Fuller Cook, whose unpublished YA manuscript The Adventure of Crow-Boy won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest. The Adventure of Crow-boy, which includes illustrations by artist Susan Beebe, is the first book in a mythic trilogy; presently David is reworking the third manuscript in this series, The Language of the Crows.

 

Hats Off! to Larry O. Nichols, author of A Hobo Odyssey, who was interviewed recently on www.Valentinetti.com.

Two of her poems can be found in the current issue of The Wild Goose Poetry Review.


... to Ann Chandonnet. The work of nonfiction author and poet Ann Chandonnet of Vale, N.C., is about to debut in a Parks Canada smartphone app in late July.  Two recipes from Chandonnet's cookbook, Gold Rush Grub (University of Alaska Press), have been chosen as part of the app for the Chilkoot Trail Site. The recipes are Sourdough Starter and Sourdough Flapjacks.  For details, contact videographer Cainan Querido at cainan.querido@pc.gc.ca.

 

Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology edited by Ramona DeFelice Long

Introduction by Chris Roerden

Publisher: Wildside Press

ISBN-10: 1434430804

ISBN-13: 978-1434430809

Ordering Information: http://www.wildsidebooks.com/Fish-Tales-The-Guppy-Anthology-edited-by-Ramona-DeFelice-Long-trade-pb_p_7754.html

Fish Tales:The Guppy Anthology, casts a wide net across the mystery genre, delivering thrills, chills, and gills. This water-themed collection features locked room puzzles, police procedurals, cozy characters and hardboiled detectives. With a pool of motivations ranging from greed and revenge to loyalty and justice, these stories will lure you in with killer hooks and fishy characters. Come on in, the water’s fine. But be careful, or you might find yourself sleeping with the fishes. The book includes: an introduction by Chris Roerden "Thicker Than Blood" , by Leslie Budewitz, " The Secret of the Red Mullet"  by Nancy Adams, "Accidents Happen"  by James Montgomery Jackson and others.  

... to Samm-Art Williams.  He will receive the August Wilson Playwright award as part of the National Black Theatre Festival reception, August 1-6, 2011.

... to Debra Madaris Efird.  She was named a Finalist in the 2011 Press 53 Open Awards contest for her short story entitled "Aileen's First Day at the New School." 

 Jan Parker won an Honorable Mention in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition for her story, " "Mayme."

 

Ashley T. Memory signed a contract with Ingalls Publishing Group of Boone, N.C. for the publication of her first novel, Naked and Hungry. It is scheduled to be released in November of 2011.

Three of Raymond Morrison's flash fiction stories appear in the third annual volume of Fast Forward Press' flash anthology, The Mixed Tape (available July 2010).  Additionally, my story, "June Bug," won 2nd prize in the short-short category of the 2010 Press 53 Open Awards, and another story, "Calvin Bodenheimer and the Dalrymple Bull," will appear in Press 53's anthology What Doesn't Kill You, due out in October.

Tammy McElroy Wilson has recently published excerpts from her novel-in-progress including Southern Women's Review, Rockhurst Review, MoonShine Review and Wazee Journal. She is an MFA candidate at Stonecoast (University of Southern Maine.)

...to Bruce Lader. The international journal, Going Down  Swinging,  published him on CD reading his poem "Dearest Betty Carter."  He has other poems  recently in the Humanist, Falling Star  Magazine, Earthshine, First Edition, .Cent, Yellow  Medicine Review, and the anthology, Against Agamemnon: War Poems.
 

Hats Off to Brian Greene of Durham, who has just won a short fiction contest held by Jerry Jazz Musican. Here is a link to the announcement and the story as it appears on JJM's web site. "The Notes" is part of his short story collection, which recently made me a semifinalist in the University of Iowa's annual book-length fiction contest.
...The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature is going to publish his chapbook Book of Days on January 1, 2009 online.  Dead Mule is the same journal that published the chapbook  Deceptively Like a Sound earlier this year.  Check them out at www.deadmule.com.
 
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