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NCWN Members Get Great Discount for Upcoming Conference

The 11th Annual Nonfiction Writers Conference returns May 5-7, 2021.

NCWN members can save 33% off with code: PARTNER33.

Featuring 15 speakers and content-rich learning sessions, this event is completely virtual. All sessions are delivered via webinar, so you can attend from anywhere—no travel is required! Special guest speakers include don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Martha Beck, discussing lessons from her new book The Way of Integrity.

In addition, you can:

  • Participate in our popular Ask-a-Pro sessions, complimentary one-on-one consultations with literary agents, publishing and marketing pros, and other industry experts, delivered by phone or Skype. Many attendees feel these sessions are worth the cost of admission alone.
  • Apply to participate in our LIVE agent pitch sessions.
  • Access a private, attendees-only Facebook group where you can connect with fellow attendees, industry pros, and speakers.
  • Receive event replay recordings (audio and video) and typed transcripts, depending on the registration level you choose.
  • Add membership in the Nonfiction Authors Association, depending on the registration level you choose.

If you want to sell more books, generate bigger profits, and establish yourself as a top author in your field, this event is for you.

For more information, visit https://www.nonfictionauthorsassociation.com.

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Charlotte Readers Podcast Celebrates 200th Episode

The Charlotte Readers Podcast will celebrate its 200th episode on Tuesday, April 13.

In honor of this special episode, the pod will welcome six-time New York Times bestselling author John Hart. Host Landis Wade will talk with Hart about his new book The Unwilling, which happens to be set in Charlotte.

Listen direct from the website here, or from wherever you get your podcasts.

Also, as part of a month-long celebration, Charlotte Readers Podcast is giving away gifts. Sign up for the podcast e-mail newsletter list, aka The Book Report, HERE by April 12 to be eligible to win.

Prizes include a Kindle, Beats Flex Wireless Earphones, and other prizes. Check website for complete eligibility. Winners will be announced April 13 in the e-mail newsletter, aka The Book Report.

During the month of April, CRP also will welcome two other New York Times bestselling authors: Paolo Bacigalupi, a National Book Award Finalist, and David Baldacci, a lifelong Virginian and author of 42 novels for adults; all of which have been national and international bestsellers.

“Given the fact most podcasts don’t make it past 10 episodes, and given the fact we will hit 200 episodes in 2 1/2 years, and are drawing authors from all over the region, country and world now, I’m proud of what we’ve put together,” Wade says. “In addition to our special guest on April 13, I also have interviews scheduled for release this summer and fall with Ron Rash, Clyde Edgerton, Jill McCorkle, and Wiley Cash.”

Founded in 2018, The Charlotte Readers Podcast is recorded in Charlotte. Host Landis Wade visits with local and regional authors who read from and talk about their work and explore their writing lives. CRP was named Charlotte’s Best Podcast – 2019 by Queen City Nerve.

The website is www.charlottreaderspodcast.com. Follow CRP on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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WNC Historical Association Presents Outstanding Achievement Award to Ann Miller Woodford

From our friends at the Western North Carolina Historical Association:

Ann Miller Woodford Courtesy of The Sylva Herald

The WNCHA 2020 Outstanding Achievement Award will be presented to Ann Miller Woodford for her work preserving and promoting the history of African American people in far western North Carolina, on Tuesday, May 18 at 6:30pm via Zoom.

“It is an honor for the Western North Carolina Historical Association to present this award to Ann Miller Woodford,” said Ralph Simpson, President of the WNCHA Board of Trustees. “She has distinguished herself over many years as a fine historian and sensitive artist. Her work has been essential to telling the story of African Americans in far Western North Carolina. Without her ‘heart work,’ this important part of our region’s history may have gone untold. We hope this award will encourage others to learn more, and care more, about the diversity of all of Western North Carolina.”

New this year, a $1,000 prize, generously funded by the WNCHA Board of Trustees, will accompany the award.

“As an awards committee, we marveled at the work that is ongoing in Western North Carolina to offer a more complete history of our region,” said Catherine Frank, Chair of the Awards Committee. “In this rich environment, the work of Ann Miller Woodford is indeed outstanding. As an advocate, historian, and artist, Miller Woodford makes visible the stories of ‘seemingly invisible’ African American people of western North Carolina. Her work, ‘When All God’s Children Get Together: A Celebration of the Lives and Music of African American People in Far Western North Carolina,’ offers an account that is personal and well-researched, offering stories that are unique and representative. She encourages all of us to record the stories of our elders and to face the complexity of our shared past. We are honored that she will join the list of Outstanding Achievement Award winners.”

The live Zoom webinar is free to attend and will include brief remarks from the Outstanding Achievement Award Committee Chair, Catherine Frank, WNCHA’s Executive Director, Anne Chesky Smith, WNCHA’s President, Ralph Simpson, and Ann Miller Woodford.

The webinar will also include the presentation of the Outstanding Achievement Award trophy and monetary prize as well as a 20-minute film adapted from one of Woodford’s lectures about her publication, “When All God’s Children Get Together: A Celebration of the Lives and Music of African American People in Far Western North Carolina.”

An exhibit of the same name, curated by Ann Miller Woodford, is currently on display at WNCHA’s facility, the Smith-McDowell House Museum in Asheville and runs through the end of June 2021. You can reserve a ticket to visit the exhibit at www.wnchistory.org.

Since 1954, the Western North Carolina Historical Association has presented its annual Outstanding Achievement Award to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the preservation and promotion of our regional history. Recipients have included Sadie Smathers Patton, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Ora Blackmun, Johnnie Baxter, The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County, the South Asheville Cemetery Association, and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

The Western North Carolina Historical Association is a nonprofit organization with a mission of preserving and promoting the history and legacy of Western North Carolina through interpretation, education, collection, and collaboration. For more information about WNCHA, call 828 253–9231 or visit www.wnchistory.org.

For a full listing of the winners since 1954, visit: https://www.wnchistory.org/award/lifetime-achievement-award.

For more about Ann Miller Woodford, visit her website: https://annstree.com.

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It’s National Poetry Month!

Poet Ashley Lumpkin reads at the NCWN 2019 Spring Conference

Today, April 1, is really quite a day. It’s Opening Day for Major League Baseball. It’s April Fool’s Day. And it’s the first day of National Poetry Month, an annual, month-long celebration of all the ways poetry matters.

The Academy of American Poets suggests a few ways to celebrate, including:

We also might suggest:

There are countless ways to enjoy poetry this month, and absolutely no rules. So, let’s celebrate!

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NC Arts Council Hires New Theatre and Literature Director

Jeff Aguiar (Photo by Richard L. Hodges)

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to Jeff Aguiar, the new Theatre and Literature Director at the North Carolina Arts Council!

Jeff has been a teaching and performing artist, educator, and administrator of nonprofit organizations and public institutions across the state…. His experience growing up as an Asian-American/Native Hawaiian cis-queer man in the American South has fundamentally shaped his belief in the power, purpose, and potential of the arts. His interest in community building and social justice informs his PhD research in Conflict Resolution Studies (ABD, Nova Southeastern University), which has led him to examine critical issues in peacebuilding, peace education, and arts-based approaches to community development.

The Theatre and Literature Director promotes writers, literary organizations, theatre artists, and theatre organizations through programs, resources, technical assistance, and partnerships. This position administers grant funds to literary and theatre organizations, along with fellowships and residency programs for individual artists; provides a range of consultation and programmatic services to literary and theater constituents, including but not limited to providing professional development workshops, organizing roundtables, and setting up readings for Fellowship recipients; and assists with the state Poet Laureate selection process and provides support to the Poet Laureate appointed by the Governor, as needed.

For more about Jeff Aguiar, visit his website, https://jeffaguiar.com/making.

The North Carolina Arts Council builds on our state’s long-standing love of the arts, leading the way to a more vibrant future. The Arts Council is an economic catalyst, fueling a thriving nonprofit creative sector that generates $2.12 billion in annual direct economic activity. The Arts Council also sustains diverse arts expression and traditions while investing in innovative approaches to art-making. The North Carolina Arts Council has proven to be a champion for youth by cultivating tomorrow’s creative citizens through arts education.

Welcome, Jeff!

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Amazon Deep-Sixes MOBI

This comes from that dusty corner of the literary universe where we store things that may or may not affect you, and if they do affect you, it probably won’t be too much of a change, but it’s good to have this stowed there in case you ever need it….

As of June 28, 2021, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program (KDP) will no long accept MOBI files. Now, when authors want to publish through KDP, they can upload Word docs, PDFs, EPUB, or MOBI files, but come June, we’ll MOBI no more. PRC or AZK formats also will no longer be accepted.

If you’ve already uploaded a MOBI file to publish a book, don’t worry, nothing needs to be done (unless you want to make changes to that book, in which case, you’ll need to upload a different file format after June 28):

Instead, we ask publishers to use EPUB, KPF (Kindle Create files), or DOC/DOCX (Microsoft Word files) files for reflowable eBooks. Please note MOBI files are still accepted for fixed-layout eBooks.

The MOBI format was apparently pretty problematic. And PDFs have issues of their own. Of course, Amazon would prefer you use their proprietary software, Kindle Create.

But you may not want to do that if you want to make your e-book available on the Barnes & Noble Nook, for example, or Kobo, which both prefer EPUB or PDF files (although they’ll take MOBI, for now at least).

While plenty of authors simply upload their Word docs to KDP and hope for the best, there are plenty of reasons to splurge for a professional designer to prepare your book for e-publishing. The difference between reading a PDF on a Kindle, for example, or reading an e-book presented in the dynamic format of an EPUB, is dramatic. Preparing your book correctly means readers will have all the functionalities at their fingertips that e-book readers have come to expect, including jumps, scrolling, etc. Just as it does with printed books, the product ultimately matters. Amazon’s axing MOBI just makes it that much easier to prepare one single EPUB file and use that file to upload across platforms.

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Tommy Hays Named to Order of the Long Leaf Pine

Tommy Hays

We couldn’t be happier for NCWN Trustee Tommy Hays, who has been named to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the governor of North Carolina.

Since 1963, North Carolina’s governors have reserved their highest honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments. Once so honored, recipients become North Carolina “Ambassadors” and enjoy the benefits of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society.

Novelist, playwright, and screenwriter Tommy Hays is the former executive director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and retired lecturer in UNC Asheville’s Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences program. His middle grade novel What I Came to Tell You was an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA). Hays’s novel The Pleasure Was Mine was a finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award and chosen for numerous community reads. His other novels are Sam’s Crossing and In the Family Way, winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.  A Trustee of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, he received his BA in English from Furman University and graduated from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Elizabeth Lutyens, editor-in-chief of the Great Smokies Review, had this to say:

“Tommy Hays’ mastery of craft permeates every page of his novels, stories, and essays. His students and fellow writers benefit from that consummate skill, but perhaps even more from what lies between the lines. Tommy’s greatest praise for a piece is to say that it is ‘so felt.’ You hear the italics. As executive director, Tommy led, taught in, and nourished UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program from its inception in 2000 until his retirement in 2020. During that time, he inspired the program’s students and teachers to put craft into the proper perspective; to aim for the real, for the heart of things.”

Distinguished recipients of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine honor include NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Maya Angelou; Coretta Scott King; and many other leaders in business, education, public service, arts, entertainment and sports.

For more about Tommy Hays, visit his website.

For more about the Order of the Longleaf Pine, click here.

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Trying to Figure Out the Brouhaha over Dr. Seuss

The decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises earlier this month to cease the sale of six classic Dr. Seuss titles has sparked debate about and accusations of censorship. It may be surprising to find children’s literature at the heart of current conversations about cancel culture and racial justice, so we wanted to survey the landscape of this literary happening, as best as we can figure.

According to The New York Times, after a review by a panel of experts, six Seuss titles including And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937) and If I Ran the Zoo (1950) will no longer be published “because of their use of offensive imagery.” These images include grotesque racial stereotypes that are hard for us to imagine ever seeing the light of day, now, 75 years after their publication.

First important fact: this announcement was made by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, not its publisher Random House—although Random House has said that it respects “the decision of Dr. Seuss Enterprises and the work of the panel that reviewed the books.” Dr. Seuss Enterprises is charged with preserving and carrying on the legacy of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), so this decision is akin to an artist deciding to no longer sell certain prints or a musician no longer playing certain songs live. It was an internal decision made by what is, effectively, the estate of Dr. Seuss. Basically, it’s their work; they can do with it whatever they want.

While that is well within their rights, the decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises to stop the publication and sale of these titles has rankled censorship watchdogs. While few would argue that the images aren’t stereotypes, some fear that any decision like this carries with it steep downside. For some, it feels like a small step to go from removing Dr. Seuss titles from circulation because they contain racist images to censoring and removing other titles because they express a minority opinion. Ultimately, this perspective fears that any opinion outside the progressive mainstream runs the risk of being censored; the Seuss titles may be only the first hole in the proverbial dam.

However, according to The Week:

There is nothing new about revising or even shelving published works in deference to concerns about racism and other bigotries. Nor is there anything wrong with it. In Victorian England, hardly a bastion of political correctness, Charles Dickens changed some language in reprints of Oliver Twist to cut down on references to the villainous Fagin as “the Jew” after a correspondence with a Jewish woman who criticized him for feeding anti-Semitic prejudice. In the 20th Century, a 1939 Agatha Christie novel whose original title is now unspeakable in polite society was reissued just a few years later as Ten Little Indians (And Then There Were None in the United States); the children’s counting rhyme on which the title was based was also changed in the text. In Roald Dahl’s 1964 classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Oompa-Loompas working at Willy Wonka’s factory were originally African pygmies. Just a few years later, controversy erupted; Dahl ended up agreeing with his critics and replaced the Black workers with pink and golden-haired “dwarvish hippies.”

So there is plenty of historical precedent for adjusting, or downright torpedoing, works that fail to live up to the cultural and ethical standards of the day. Also, the Dr. Seuss titles in particular will continue to circulate in some libraries, garage sales etc.—although no longer on eBay.

As for cries of censorship and fears of corporate or governmental overreach, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune put it best:

Books go out of print all the time, and when that happens it is not “censorship”…The decision to let six of Geisel’s books go out of print was made by Dr. Seuss Enterprises. It wasn’t made by the government, or Amazon, or your local bookseller or library. It wasn’t the mythical Deep State. It was Geisel’s estate, and the estate calls the shots.

Here at the Network, we encourage the celebration of Banned Books Week each fall; we also, as an anti-racist organization that pursues writerly connection and community, have been unequivocal in our belief that “Black lives matter. Black voices and stories matter, and are, and long have been, subject to unique and ingrained harm in this nation.”

Theodor Suess Geisel himself later regretted the racial stereotypes he’d perpetuated over the years. And, as we can see from the examples above, even literary giants—perhaps especially literary giants—have come to understand their classic works in new ways and made changes that made those works more accessible for all. Those works are no less powerful for those writers having done so.

Of course, we don’t particularly care for censorship either. We’re staunch in our support of indie bookstores against the Amazon behemoth, for many reasons. But, as we say in our mission statement, we “believe that writing is necessary both for self-expression and community spirit, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance, and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone.”

Y’all means all, y’all.

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Achieve Success as a “Serious Writer”

By Kat Bodrie

Kat Bodrie (c. Katie Dickson Photography)

In 2012, I became a Serious Writer. “Serious,” to me, meant showing my work to others instead of hoarding it on my hard drive, only allowing myself and my husband to bask in the Incredible Genius that I am.

I wanted to be published—to get the external affirmation that yes, I am enough, and that yes, my writing is good, and I am a Real Writer.

It wasn’t until much later, after cyclical bouts of self-doubt, self-assurance, and faux apathy that I learned I don’t have to take myself or my writing so seriously—and I can still get published.

I’d written poetry, short stories, and failed attempts at novels since high school. As a junior at UNC-Greensboro, I submitted two poems to the undergraduate literary journal Coraddi, each of which won an award in the fall issue.

You’d think success would have encouraged me, but I got distracted by finishing my degree, then making a living, and then going back to school. After getting my masters in literature and toiling at jobs I didn’t like, I donned the Serious Writer identity and started submitting some of my work to literary magazines.

Every part of the submission process was emotional, from the hand-wringing “Is it good enough?” and “Do they like me?” to the almost certain rejection. In order to keep going, to keep submitting, I had to purge all of the toxic and misguided thoughts I had about what it means to be published.

My education in literature had subconsciously convinced me that only the Best Literature was published; if my work was rejected, it was because it wasn’t objectively good. Was that true? I’d read terrible but popular work before: Stephen King is a great storyteller but could use more lethal editors. Hemingway’s short stories soar; his novels tank.*

First, I had to divorce myself from the notion that editors look for only the best. They’re people, like writers. They know what they like, and their tastes are subjective.

Next, I had to arm myself with distance. My writing is not a reflection of me as a person. Editors are not personally conspiring against my fame or my ideas. Getting published will not make my life better, and it won’t heal my perfectionism or my control issues or my self-doubt.

In 2019, I set a goal: 100 submissions to lit mags and contests. By the end of the year, I had achieved 50% of my goal, but more than that, I had developed a no-nonsense, nose-to-the-grindstone attitude. I think I’d numbed myself in some way. Sure, the highs weren’t as high when I got accepted, but the lows—which were much more plentiful—weren’t as low, and that kept me sane.

I also developed a dedicated list of resources for finding publication opportunities and for documenting submissions that I’m eager to share with other writers.

Duotrope was made by writers for writers. We’ll help you find publishers for your work, so you can get right back to writing. Photo by Milkoví.

Duotrope is a subscription service I’ve used since 2014 to do both of those things. The weekly e-mail newsletter collates recently opened markets (both paying and non-paying) and upcoming themed deadlines. When you log-in to the site, you can search for publications and agents, as well as track your submissions. If a publisher or contest isn’t listed, you can request they add it (as long as it adheres to their criteria), and you’ll hear back within a day or two. At $5 a month (or $50 a year), it’s been crucial to my success as a published writer. Last year alone, I placed nine poems, most of them opportunities I had heard about through Duotrope.

If you’ve submitted your work online before, you probably know that most publications use Submittable to read and choose writers’ submissions. It allows writers to see at a glance their submissions on the platform, broken down into active, accepted, declined, and withdrawn. The “Discover” link also shows upcoming deadlines to publication opportunities around the world; you can easily filter results according to what you want to see and bookmark the opportunities that interest you. (Submittable’s newsletter, Submishmash Weekly, with interesting literary news and curated opportunities, is currently on hiatus.)

I also take a look at the publication opportunities in NCWN’s Weekly e-Blast and Winston-Salem Writers’ monthly e-mail newsletter. Sometimes, I hear about something I haven’t seen on Duotrope or Submittable.

Of course, many Serious Writers like myself use good ol’ spreadsheets to document submissions, whether we use Duotrope or Submittable or not. Columns for genre, due date, date submitted, cost, results, web links, and extraneous notes help us keep our past submissions and upcoming submissions organized. I also have a sheet called “Did Not Submit” so I can copy over missed opportunities, whether deliberate or accidental.

This year, I’m focused on submitting poetry to higher-end publications and on getting my chapbook When the River Takes Us, about my friend’s suicide, published. With any luck, my creative vision and execution will resonate with editors, and I’ll be able to enter “Acceptance” into Duotrope, Submittable, and my spreadsheet.

***

KAT BODRIE is a professional writer and editor based in Winston-Salem. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry South, Wild Roof Journal, West Texas Literary Review, Rat’s Ass Review, and elsewhere. Her favorite quarantine activities are reading, drinking tea, watching baking shows, and hanging with her housemates, feline-friend Rita and human-husband Ryan. Read her writing at Katbodrie.com.

*Please note, all opinions are the author’s. This is not the official opinion of the North Carolina Writers’ Network! 

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Where to Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine, and When

Because the sooner we get our arms around this pandemic, the sooner we can get our arms around one another…or something like that….

We can’t wait to meet again in-person, so we wanted to share this:

On Tuesday, NC Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina is expediting its plans for vaccinations of North Carolinians. As of Wednesday, frontline essential workers—including social workers, public health workers, clergy, homeless shelter staff, veterinarians, college and university instructors and support staff, and workers in stores that sell groceries and medicine—are eligible to begin receiving vaccines. North Carolina is also currently vaccinating educators, school personnel, child care workers, health care workers, long-term care staff and residents, and people 65 and older.

Wondering when you will be eligible to get your vaccine? Use the NC Department of Health and Human Service’s online Find My Group tool to find out.

Where are you supposed to go to get your vaccine? Use the NC DHHS Find My Spot search tool to locate vaccine providers near where you live and work.

Many local pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens are adminstering vaccines as well.

We look forward to the day when we can gather safely in-person together again.

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