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Celebrate Indie Bookstore Day!


Saturday, April 28, is Independent Bookstore Day. Who’s ready to paaaaarty?

Always held on the last Saturday of the month in April, Independent Bookstore Day:

is a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country….Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent.

In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism. They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand. In fact, there are more of them this year than there were last year. And they are at your service.

We really couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Plenty of North Carolina bookstores are getting in on the fun. A not-remotely comprehensive list is below; check store websites for updates and further details.

Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe in Asheville is offering up free audiobooks that can be collected on April 28.

Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh offers a full day of scheduled events, from chalk art to storytime to celebrity booksellers and live music.

The Regulator Bookshop in Durham will hold raffles for Advanced Readers Copies and gift certificates and is taking donations of gently used children’s books to donate to Book Harvest.

Even if there’s nothing official planned at your local independent purveryor of books, why not make time on Saturday, April 28, to stop by and pick up something, just to let your neighborhood bookstore know how much you love them?

Can’t make it to a bookstore on that day? There’s still time to order schwag that you can wear, well, anywhere.

For more information about Independent Bookstore Day, visit

Poem in Your Pocket Day

This is the first we’ve heard of this holiday, but it sounds fun to us: Thursday, April 26, is “National Poem in Your Pocket Day.”

Part of National Poetry Month, Poem in Your Pocket Day encourages literati to “select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, street corners, and on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem.”

Poem in Your Pocket Day was initiated in April 2002 by the Office of the Mayor in New York City, in partnership with the city’s Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all fifty United States, encouraging individuals around the country to participate. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets extended Poem in Your Pocket Day to Canada.

Unsure about how your sharing will be received? You can download a PDF of helpful instructions.

Tip of the cap to Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville, who turned us onto this holiday. This indie bookseller is handing out FREE poems every day in April. They have a board in the store for customers to write down their favorite poem title or poet. They will also hold a drawing to win a prize (winners announced April 26).

Much obliged!

NCWN’s Spring Conference in the News

Anne Anthony, courtesy of “Listen to Your Mother” photographer Traci Huffman Photography

As big-league pitcher Dizzy Dean is said to have quipped, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up.”

So we feel okay about sharing our news this week that we have set an attendance record for our upcoming Spring Conference on Saturday, April 21.

161 registrants, at least, will join us on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

As part of this build-up, we’ve been in the news. We wanted to share some links that highlight our immensely talented faculty:

Clearly, Tar Heel writers are as excited as we are for this Saturday. We hope to see you there!

On-site registration opens at 8:00 am in the MHRA Building  on UNCG’s campus.

Introducing Spring Conference Exhibitors: P. III

Over the past week or so we’ve been introducing the exhibitors who’ll be staffing booths at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2018 Spring Conference.

The exhibit hall is a great opportunity to get a jump on your summer reading, buy some books and literary journals, and shop local. It’s also the ideal time to chat with the literary professionals at each table, who can offer up an insider’s perspective on the current state of books and the literary world at large.

If you missed our first two posts, they’re here and here.

Now bringing us home….

Library Partners Press:
Library Partners Press, the digital publishing imprint of Wake Forest University, aims to publish quality books (of any length and size, in both electronic and print-on-demand formats) created by Wake Forest University and North Carolina library patrons and friends. Recent titles include Thriver’s Quest by M.E. Hart. Part poetry, part memoir, part healing guide, Thriver’s Quest introduces the MiniQuest writing process—The Call, The Quest, and The Return—to help us tell our own stories, in our own way. A self-described “hybrid-indie” small press, LPP uses various print-on-demand and digital platforms to offer “publishing and distribution services to content creators looking to have their works collected and preserved and protected by libraries post-publication.” Authors submit potential projects to the press, which are screened by one or more members of the editorial board.

North Carolina Poetry Society:
With more than 350 members from North Carolina and beyond, the NC Poetry Society is an all-volunteer organization devoted to poets and lovers of poetry. The Poetry Society holds regular meetings four times a year in Southern Pines at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities. In addition, NCPS sponsors annual contests for adults and students, which offer cash prizes and award certificates; the annual Poet Laureate Award, judged by the state’s poet laureate; the annual Brockman-Campbell Book Award, recognizing the best book published by a North Carolina poet; and the annual Lena M. Shull Book Award, selecting for publication the best full-length unpublished poetry manuscript by a poet living in North Carolina, where the winning manuscript is published by St. Andrews University Press, and the winning poet leads a workshop and gives a reading at Poetry Day Hickory in April. Membership is a steal at $30 a year ($10 for students).

Press 53:
A longtime publisher of poetry and short fiction based in Winston-Salem, the Spring 2018 list for Press 53 is pretty exciting. To start things off, there’s a new poetry collection from NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee and current NC poet laureate Shelby Stephenson, Our World; plus additional poetry collections from beloved Tar Heel poets Michele Beadle, Mark Cox, Holly Iglesias, and more. On the fiction side, new story collections by Nathan Alling Long and Joseph Rein should be available for purchase at Spring Conference, with another, Collateral Damage by Kevin C. Jones, on the way. And that’s just the front list! The back list includes Taylor Brown, Terri Kirby Erickson, Gabrielle Brant Freeman, Marjorie Hudson, Steve Mitchell, Maura Way, and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductees Doris Betts, Kathryn Stripling Byer, John Ehle, Robert Morgan, and many more. Editor Kevin Morgan Watson will serve as a panelist for Slush Pile Live! at the NCWN 2018 Spring Conference.

Prospective Press:
It’s a story that bears repeating: editor Jason T. Graves was sitting on one of the panels at Slush Pile Live! when an attendee approached him afterward and pitched her first novel. That attendee was NCWN member Paige L. Christie, and the manuscript she pitched became Draigon Weather, which has received high praise from Publisher’s Weekly and many others. The sequel, Wing Wind, is coming out any day! Other new titles include The Would-Be Virgin and other Romantic Tales by Susan Surman, who the Winston-Salem Journal described as writing with “authenticity, deep passion, and sly wit.” And Mouse by Richard Ford Burley tells the story of an unlikely protagonist tasked with stopping the apocolypse, which author Deb Loughea called a “clever and compelling mash-up of magical realism and fantasy.” Jason will once again serve as a Slush Pile Live! panelist at the NCWN 2018 Spring Conference.

Stanley Donkoski:
Stanley Dankoski is a certified Gateless Writing instructor. The Gateless methodology is based on brain science, allowing the writer to befriend the inner critic so the inner genius can thrive. If you have a completed draft of a novel that needs another set of eyes, Stan offers developmental and editing services. His fiction appears at Literary Orphans, The Great Smokies Review, and Lime Hawk. His first published story landed on the 2016 Wigleaf longlist, and another was a semifinalist for the William Van Dyke Short Story Prize. You’ll also see Stan taking photographs around Spring Conference: he’s the official conference photographer! (To see more about his literary portraits and event photography, click here.)

Sip, Savor, Enjoy: McFarland & Company

The northwestern corner of North Carolina, near the Tennessee and Virginia borders, is home to one of the leading nonfiction publishers in the United States: McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers.

Producing 400 new titles each year (with a backlist of more than 6,000), McFarland is especially revered for its serious works in such popular fields as pop culture (especially film), sports (especially baseball), and automotive history.

New books include Understanding Sabermetrics: An Introduction to the Science of Baseball Statistics – 2nd Edition by Gabriel B. Costa, Michael R. Huber, and John T. Saccoman; The Love of Baseball: Essays by Lifelong Fans, edited by Christine Arvidson and Diana Nelson Jones, including essays by former NC poet laureate Joseph Bathanti and NCWN communications director Charles Fiore; The Manson Family on Film and Television by Ian Cooper; Uncovering Stranger Things: Essays on Eighties Nostalgia, Cynicism, and Innocence in the Series by Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.; Power Under Her Foot: Women Enthusiasts of American Muscle Cars by Chris Lezotte; and Auto-Racing in the Shadow of the Great War by Robert Dick.

Because McFarland began (and continues as) a library-oriented publisher, their proposal and submission guidelines are extensive and should be followed closely.

They are especially known for “covering topics of popular appeal in a serious and scholarly fashion, and for going to great lengths to manufacture [their] books to the highest standards and library specifications.” Note that with exceedingly rare exceptions they do not publish fiction, poetry, or books for children.

Because they’re more of an academic publisher, you won’t normally find their titles in box stores like Barnes & Noble, although any bookstore can order McFarland & Co. books, including indies.

While the typical price point for their titles, typically $25 and up, may disuade the casual buyer, purchasing a McFarland & Company book is akin to buying a bottle of good whisky. You may pay a little more, but in return you are assured that careful attention has been paid to the quality of the product. Sip, savor, and enjoy.

Given the deep connection in western North Carolina to all things Scottish, many people wonder, why McFarland?

In addition to “McFarland” being a family name for founder Robert Franklin, it was in part chosen because of a strong North Carolina and Tennessee heritage. One early namesake, Robert McFarland, was an officer at the Battle of Kings Mountain, later spent time in or near the Ashe County, North Carolina area, then went on to become the first ever sheriff of Greene County, Tennessee. That McFarland’s grandson, Robert McFarland, fought at Vicksburg and was a justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court in the 1870s and 80s. There’s also a Scottish connection. The “McFarland’s Lantern” of Scottish folklore has been incorporated into the company logo, and the clan tartan appears on the company banner.

Shop McFarland and Company on their website, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Introducing Spring Conference Exhibitors: Part II

Pre-registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2018 Spring Conference ends Sunday, April 15.

In the meantime, we’ll be highlighting our exhibitors. The exhibit hall is a great chance to truly shop local and stock up on your summer reading material!

We highlighted four exhibitors last week here.

Here are four more:

Bull City Press:
The big news out of Durham this week is that Yuki Tanaka has won the 2018 Frost Place Chapbook Competition, which Bull City Press sponsors annually, for his manuscript Séance in Daylight. Tanaka receives a fellowship to the Frost Place Poetry Seminar, a $250 prize, and a week to live and write in the Frost Place house in Franconia, NH. Séance in Daylight will be published in September of 2018. Jill Osier’s new chapbook, from, is coming out any day: she won the 2017 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award and the 2013 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. Also out this Spring: Tunsiya/Amrikiya by Leila Chatti, the Editor’s Selection from the 2017 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. Chatti, a Tunisian-American, explores the nuances of multicultural identity, the necessity of family, and the perennial search for belonging. From vantage points on both sides of the Atlantic, Chatti investigates the perpetual exile that comes from always being separated from some essential part of oneself. Bull City Press also publishes a literary journal, inch, devoted to the most compressed literary work.

Greensboro Bound:
The inaugural Greensboro Bound Literary Festival happens May 18-20 in various locations around downtown Greensboro. Over seventy authors will host readings, panels, talks, and more. Those authors include former Piedmont Laureate John Claude Bemis, author of The Wooden Prince, among many others; poet Nikole Brown; former NC poet laureate and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Fred Chappell; novelist Naima Coster; Steve Cushman, winner of the 2018 Lena Shull Book Award for his first full-length poetry collection, How Birds Fly; poet Nikki Giovanni, named one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends”; author Jessica Jacbos; poets Terry L. Kennedy, Michael McFee, Joe Mills, and Lauren Moseley; novelists Elaine Neil Orr and Michael Parker; poet Emilia Phillips; author and storyteller (and NCWN membership coordinator) Deonna Kelli Sayed; fiction writer and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Lee Smith; fiction writers Daniel Wallace and Michele Young-Stone; and a whole lot more. Greensboro Bound hosts literary events throughout the year in Greensboro.

The Greensboro Review:
The Greensboro Review, a literary magazine published by The MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has been willfully and defiantly “old school” since it’s founding in 1966. Back then, it appeared more or less exactly as it does today, offering readers a simple cover, no distracting graphics, and a complete and total focus on the quality of the text. Recent authors include fiction writer Jacob M. Appel; poets Matthew Olzmann, Matthew Poindexter, and Alan Shapiro; Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Claudia Rankine; and Pulitzer-nominated fiction writer Kelly Link. TGR editor Terry L. Kennedy will serve as a panelist for the “Slush Pile Live!” program at the NCWN 2018 Spring Conference, where attendees will also be able to park for free in the Oakland Avenue parking deck courtesy of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at UNCG. The Greensboro Review spnosors the annual Robert Watson Literary Prizes, which will reopen on February 16.

NC Literary Map:
The mission of the North Carolina Literary Map is to highlight the literary heritage of the state by connecting the lives and creative work of authors to real (and imaginary) geographic locations. Through the development of a searchable and browseable data-driven online map, users are able to access a database, learning tools, and cultural resources, to deepen their understanding of specific authors as well as the cultural space that shaped these literary works. Housed at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the NC Lit Map focuses on works written about North Carolina and authors who were born in North Carolina, who currently live or have lived in North Carolina, who have written about North Carolina, or who have made a significant contribution to the North Carolina’s literary landscape. The NC Lit Map offers several Literary Walking Tours around the state, including Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Wilmington. Their website also offers educational resources for elementary, middle school, and high school students.

The Spring 2018 Okra Picks

Our friends at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance have released their Spring, 2018, Okra Picks, “a season’s worth of delicious reading with a Southern flavor.”

There’s a new novel from North Carolina author Charles Frazier (Varina, dedicated to Nancy Olson, the founder and former longtime owner of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh); Country Dark, the long-awaited new novel from Chris Offut; Florida, by Lauren Groff; and a whole lot more.

North Carolina Writers’ Network member Lynne Hinton’s new novel The View from Here (NewSouth Books) is among the Okra Picks: this story, about a girl who climbs up a loblolly pine just to see if she can, and then stays, comes out in June. Lynne was born and raised in North Carolina, is a Wake Forest and UNC-Greensboro alum, and the author of twenty-one books, including New York Times bestsellers, and her work has been compared to great writers like Eudora Welty, Rebecca Wells, and Jan Karon.

Silas House gave the Keynote Address at the NCWN 2011 Fall Conference in Asheville. His new novel, Southernmost (Algonquin Books), features an evangelical preacher who, in the aftermath of a flood, harbors two gay men. But will his moral certainty that all men are created equal cost him his job, marriage, and children? Southernmost is a tender and heartbreaking novel about love and its consequences, both within the South and beyond.

How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace by Carole Boston Weatherford (Atheneum Books) drops in June. Carole gave the Keynote Address at the NCWN 2011 Spring Conference in Greensboro. This hardcover picture book tells the story of the man behind the hymn “Amazing Grace” and the living legacy of the song. “Amazing Grace” has, of course, lifted the spirits and given comfort across time and all over the world to countless people.

For the full list of Spring 2018 Okra Picks, click here.

Introducing Spring Conference Exhibitors: Part I

At the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2018 Spring Conference, April 21 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the exhibit hall is open pretty much all day, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm.

There, publishers and literary organizations from around the state will sell books and other literary treasures. Not only is this a great chance to take some NC-grown books home with you (perhaps as an early jump on your summer reading list?), but the exhibit hall is the perfect opportunity to chat with the editors of some the most vital publishers in North Carolina in what is pretty much the ideal casual setting.

Over the next week or so, we’ll be highlighting this year’s exhibitors on our blog. Here’s part one of that installment…and we’re just going to do it alphabetically.

Anne Anthony (Anchala Studios):
Professional writer Anne Anthony will lead “How to Start Submitting” in the afternoon session of the NCWN 2018 Spring Conference. But when she’s not up in front the classroom, she’ll be in the exhibit hall, shilling the newest anthology from Anchala Studios, The Collection: Flash Fiction for Flash Memory (March, 2018). Anne served as co-editor. This special anthology is the first one created to deliver that special magic to adults struggling with memory loss, their families, friends, and caregivers. Sixty works of flash fiction offer “unexpected plots that warm the heart, give chills, stir laughter and surprise.” Contributors include organic farmers, a retired judge, university professors, visual artists, dog lovers, pastry chefs, a handful of bartenders, and a former morgue attendant—each one with a compelling story to tell.

Backbone Press:
The newest poetry chapbook from this Durham-based press is The Riddle of Longing by Faisal Mohyuddin, winner of the 2017 Sexton Prize for Poetry. In form and free verse, Mohyuddin delivers polished and powerfully controlled poems that enlighten even as they rage. Other titles include the forthcoming poetry chapbook Mother Said, I Want Your Pain by Naoko Fujimoto, winner of the Shared Dream Immigrant Contest; 7 x 7 kwansabas by Tara Betts, in which well-known figures such as Katherine Dunham, Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan rise up on the page; and Sea Island Blues by North Carolina poet Tyree Daye. A small press with a big vision, Backbone Press offers itself as a venue for ethnic poets, including African America, Latina/o, Asian, and more. They love publishing poetry that is “political, invocative, social, gritty, [and] personal and poignant.”

John F. Blair, Publishing, merged with Carolina Wren Press earlier this year. The result? Blair, which, strengthened by a backlist that includes books on culture, history, travel, and food in the Southeastern US and beyond, will publish literary fiction of both national and regional interest, with a focus on new and diverse voices. New titles include Donald Morrill’s debut novel Beaut, a haunting tale of marriage and madness told in a blend of poetry and prose; the poetry collection Little Domesday Clock by Sam Witt, winner of both the Katherine Nason Bakeless First Book Prize (2000) and the Cleveland State University Press Open Book competition (2006); and two memoirs, This African-American Life by Hugh B. Price and Witness to Change by Sybil Morial. Editor Robin Miura will serve as one of the panelists for Slush Pile Live! at the NCWN 2018 Spring Conference, beginning at 5:00 pm.

BLF Press:
NCWN is thrilled to welcome BLF Press to our exhibit hall for the first time. Their newest title, Two Moons: Stories by Krystal A. Smith, traverses the connections between earth and the heavens, the living and the spectral, human and animal. Sensitive, ethereal, humorous, and at times, heart-breaking, Smith’s collection of speculative fiction signals the arrival of an exceptionally talented writer with a promising career ahead of her. Other recent titles include the anthologies Solace, wherein LGBTQ women of color writers to explore the power of literature and identity, and Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction, which School Library Journal called a “riveting gathering of talented voices in black lesbian fiction.” The anthology also was a 2017 Goldie Finalist (Anthology) and a 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Finalist (LGBT Adult Fiction). Editor Stephanie Andrea Allen will serve as a panelist for Slush Pile Live! at the NCWN 2018 Spring Conference, beginning at 5:00 pm.

Pre-registration for the NCWN 2018 Spring Conference ends April 15. If you’ve already registered, see you there! If not, don’t delay: run on over to and register.

Impacting the Community: Jacar Press

Jacar Press defines themselves as a “Community-Active Literary Press.” This clearly defined purpose influences all their decisions, from which authors to publish to where the proceeds go.

For example, their newest title, Yes, We Be by Patrick Howell, is an “integrated-design poetry book that connects with the Black Arts Movement, Harlem Renaissance, and Afro-Futurism. Proceeds will benefit Black Lives Matter, SistaWRITE, and COR AME community programs.”

Interweaving poetry, literary criticism, and memoir, Ghazal Cosmopolitan by Shadab Zeest Hashmi bridges eastern and western literary traditions and is described as “a smorgasbord of aesthetic pleasures viewed through the prism of the majestic Ghazal.”

And the 2016 anthology Resisting Arrest collects poems that bear witness to the “maladies of a nation whose so-called founding begins with brutality and policing; begins with genocide, confiscation and death in the name of profit, greed and expansion.” Proceeds continue to benefit a scholarship fund for African American youth, administered by the Urban League in Washington, D.C.

Other publications include collections by North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees Betty Adcock, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Jaki Shelton Green, and Shelby Stephenson.

Order books here.

Part of being active in the community includes hosting literary events and workshops.

Based in Cary, “Writers Teaching Writing” offers low-cost workshops led by highly acclaimed and oft-published authors, as well as free workshops that facilitate writing for social impact and healing.

Part of being active in the community also includes being conscientious of one’s environmental impact: Jacar Press titles are printed by a “printer that is run 100 percent by solar and wind power.”

Does this sound like the kind of publisher for you? Jacar Press produces an online poetry magazine, One, which is open for submissions year ’round.

Other opportunities include the annual chapbook and full-length poetry competitions (open now through April 30!) and the annual Julie Suk Award, which honors the best book published that year by a small press. The New Voices Series (accepting submissions through July 1), aims to bring “diverse voices and perspectives to print” and is open to poets globally.

Browse their entire front and backlist on the web at or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

New Resources and New Markets for Writers

There are good things brewing, literarily speaking, in Logansport, Louisiana.

The Cahaba River Literary Journal is now under new ownership. They publish prose between 1,000-2,000 words and poetry up to thirty lines. It’s only $35 a year to subscribe (six issues), and now through June 1, every subscriber gets a free edit or critique of one manuscript with each subscription!

(For the mathematically challenged, that means you get a free critique plus a year-long subscription for less than it would cost to receive a standard critique!)

To subscribe to Cahaba River Literary Journal and claim your free critique, click here.

For more informationa about their submission policy, click here. They’re open for submissions year ’round.

Owens Publishing Group also has two new titles coming out this year.

The first issue of Writer’s Bi-Monthly Review is scheduled to drop on June 1. Published twice a month, every issue will offer articles on writing, other writing news, and a writing contest. Like a “beacon in the dark,” Writer’s Bi-Monthly Review is “dedicated to helping creative writers learn to be better writers and learn the ropes of becoming published authors. [The] magazine will inspire, motivate, and encourage writers from page one to the very end.”

$25 gets you twelve issues; as with Cahaba River Literary Journal, every subscription gets a free manuscript critique.

Finally, Mothering with Imagination is a new publication for “mothers/parents of all ages.” The first issue drops in May.

They too are looking for writers of advice pieces and creative ideas from mothers who have “been there, done that.”

Topics may include shopping, eating, food kids like, schooling, discipline – and more. We are looking for literary pieces that focus on raising children creatively. We need humor stories, heart warming and touching pieces about loosing a child or raising a handicapped child.

They’ll also publish one short story a month, book reviews, and a poem up to 35 lines.

Click here to submit to Mothering with Imagination.

Subscriptions are a reasonable $25 a year for six issues.

Owens Publishing Group has other publications as well. You can read all about it here.