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Three NC Authors (at Least!) Among NPR’s Best Books

At least three books by North Carolina authors are among National Public Radio’s “Best Books 2021.” NPR staff and trusted critics recommend some 2,800 titles, all sortable by category.

Among the recommendations are:

The Uncollected Stories of Allan Gurganus (Liveright)
By Allan Gurganus
NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Allan Gurganus offers nine classic tales, never before between covers. Offering characters antic and tragic, Gurganus charts the human condition—masked and unmasked—as we live it now. These meticulously crafted parables recall William Faulkner’s scope and Flannery O’Connor’s corrosive wit. Imbuing each story with charged drama, Gurganus, a sublime ventriloquist, again proves himself among our funniest writers and our wisest.


Hell of a Book (Dutton)
By Jason Mott
Winner of the 2021 National Book Award: in Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book, a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and urgent: since Mott’s novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.



No Gods, No Monsters (Blackstone Publishing)
By Cadwell Turnbull
At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark? “Turnbull delves into the complexities of injustice and identity in this powerhouse contemporary fantasy,” says Publishers Weekly in a starred review. “Fantasy fans won’t want to miss this.” Named a “Most Anticipated Book” by Bustle, Buzzfeed, Forbes, GoodReads, Marie Claire, The Millions, and



For the complete list, click here.

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NC Authors Among Southern Book Prize Finalists

Four North Carolina authors are among the finalists for the 2021 Southern Book Prize, sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, including one member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network.

Well, it’s a bit disingenuous to say “a member.” We’re thrilled that Ed Southern, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, is a finalist in the “Nonfiction” category for his book, Fight Songs: Love and Sports in a Complicated South (Blair).

The other NC-based finalists are Wiley Cash, whose novel When Ghosts Come Home (William Morrow) is nominated in “Fiction;” Alan Gratz, whose YA novel about 9/11, Ground Zero (Scholastic Press), is nominated in “Children’s;” and Jaye Robin Brown, whose YA novel The Key to You and Me (HarperTeen) also is nominated in “Children’s.”

Fight Songs by Ed Southern is a wry and witty commentary on college sports and identity in the complicated social landscape of the South. Ed set out to tell how the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant, from beyond the grave, introduced him to his wife, a Birmingham native and die-hard Alabama fan. While he was writing that story, though, 2020 came along. This book explores the connections and contradictions between the teams we root for and the places we plant our roots; between the virtues that sports are supposed to teach and the cutthroat business they’ve become; between the hopes of fans and the demands of the past, present, and future.



When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash is a tender and haunting story of a father and daughter, crime and forgiveness, race and memory. When the roar of a low-flying plane awakens him in the middle of the night, Sheriff Winston Barnes knows something strange is happening at the nearby airfield on the coast of North Carolina. But nothing can prepare him for what he finds: a large airplane has crash-landed and is now sitting sideways on the runway, and there are no signs of a pilot or cargo. As the suspense builds and this compelling mystery unfolds, Wiley Cash delves deep into the hearts of these richly drawn, achingly sympathetic characters to reveal the nobility of an ordinary man struggling amidst terrifying, extraordinary circumstances.


Alan Gratz’ Ground Zero delivers a pulse-pounding and unforgettable take on history and hope, revenge and fear—and the stunning links between the past and present. The novel alternates between a boy visiting his dad at work, on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and an Afghani girl on September 11, 2019, who stumbles upon a wounded American soldier named Taz. Should she help Taz—and put herself and her family in mortal danger? Two kids. One devastating day. Nothing will ever be the same.



The Key to You and Me by Jaye Robin Brown is a sweet and funny LGBTQ+ romance perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Julie Murphy, from the critically acclaimed author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit. It’s a point-of-view rom-com about two girls falling in “like.” Kat Pearson has always suspected that she likes girls but fears her North Carolina town is too small to color outside the lines. But when Piper Kitt comes to spend the summer with her grandmother and train at the barn of a former Olympic horseback rider, Piper’s grandmother hires Kat to give her driving lessons, and everything changes.

For the full list of finalists for the 2021 Southern Book Prize, click here.

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NC Bookwatch Writes Its Final Chapter

By Ed Southern, Executive Director, North Carolina Writers’ Network

North Carolina Bookwatch first aired on what was then UNC-TV in 1997.

That seems impossible to me. 1997 was a long time ago, and yet it doesn’t seem long enough to have seen the launch of an institution like Bookwatch. (I know it’s an example of the Mandela Effect, but even though I know better, I’d have assumed that some archive in RTP held old black and white footage of Sam Ragan interviewing Randall Jarrell and Wilma Dykeman.)

Now I have to contemplate a North Carolina without Bookwatch. What’s now PBS North Carolina has announced that this season, its 23rd, also will be its last.

As soon as it began, North Carolina Bookwatch became a vital, a foundational part of the literary community it celebrated and chronicled. For two years with original host Robin Minietta, and ever since with D. G. Martin, Bookwatch brought North Carolina authors onto TV screens across the state.

Hundreds of our fellow North Carolina writers got to sit across from D. G. and talk about their latest books: the stories told, the questions explored, the settings evoked. They talked about how North Carolina inspired and nurtured and frustrated them.

D. G., unlike a lot of other media hosts, quite obviously had read every book featured on the show, as well as a great many that weren’t featured but worked their way into his questions. He said, though, that he never wrote a list of questions: He preferred to have conversations, to follow his curiosity and his guests’ responses wherever they led.

(As a side note, D. G. may be the Most Interesting Man in North Carolina: Davidson basketball player under legendary coach “Lefty” Driesell, Green Beret, Yale Law graduate, college administrator, environmentalist, and voracious reader. I’ve been lucky enough to serve with D. G. on a couple of committees, something I came to with no experience of it, and learned more by watching him than I could have by memorizing Robert’s Rules of Order.)

The 23rd and final season of North Carolina Bookwatch will premiere on PBS North Carolina this Sunday, November 7, at 3:30 P.M., with repeat broadcasts on Tuesday, November 9: at 5 P.M. on PBS NC, and at 8 P.M. on the North Carolina Channel.

Guests this season will include Wiley Cash, NCWN trustee Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductees Clyde Edgerton and Bland Simpson.

On Thursday, November 18—the day before the 2021 Fall Conference—PBS NC will host a special online event to celebrate the show and its host. The event begins at 7 P.M. and is free and open to the public. Additional event information and registration can be found on Eventbrite.

North Carolina Bookwatch will end with “a primetime retrospective special on Tuesday, December 7, at 8 PM, on PBS NC,” with Simpson joining D. G. for “a loving look back at the many books and authors that shared the North Carolina Bookwatch set over the years.”

Then we’ll have to figure out how to remain “the Writingest State” without Bookwatch. It won’t just happen, and it won’t be easy.

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What’s the Point of NaNoWriMo? Reach the End.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell began as a NaNoWriMo project….

We’re only a few days into National Novel Writing Month—if you’re churning out a daily word count, congratulations! Keep up the good work.

If not, there are plenty of days left to meet the soft NaNoWriMo goal of completing the first draft of a 50,000-word manuscript before 11:59:59 pm on November 30.

National Novel Writing Month is an international phenomenon when thousands of writers across the globe commit to completing an ugly first draft of a book-length manuscript. A 501 (c)(3), NaNoWriMo’s website offers the option of signing up for an account, which will allow you to track your progress, set milestones, connect with other writers in a vast community, and participate in events that are designed to make sure you finish your novel. And it’s all free!

Social media, as we know, can be a real distraction, which is why we recommend using the app from one of our Fall Conference sponsors, Freedom, which can:

  • Block websites and apps or the entire internet if you want to. With your distractions blocked, you can get into your workflow and stay on task.
  • Helps break the habit of checking whatever digital source is beckoning. The more you experience Freedom time, the more you’ll find it indispensable.
  • Treat your email like a mailbox (the mail comes and goes once a day) and enjoy your social media proactively on your time (not in respond mode.)

Think you might be able to achieve your NaNoWriMo goals with help from Click here.

Lest you think NaNoWriMo is for “armchair” writers only, projects such The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern; Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen; and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell were all started during NaNoWriMo.

And may we offer one friendly reminder? The purpose of National Novel Writing Month is to write: write through to the end. Don’t worry about how good it is. Don’t worry about if it’s holding together. Don’t worry if your characters change names 50 times or drop out of the story completely. The goal, when you wake up on the morning of December 1, is to have a rough draft of a 50,000-word manuscript to build from.

After that? We recommend the Critiquing and Editing Service, a program of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, which pairs author manuscripts with a good editor for one-on-one feedback on their work.

No one sits down and writes a perfect first draft. Your only goal this month is to reach the end!


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Meet the NCWN 2021 Fall Conference Exhibitors: Part IV

Registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2021 Fall Conference ends on November 12–there will not be on-site registration this year. To help make it easier for some folks, we’ve extended the deadline to reserve a room at the conference hotel to November 5, which is Friday. We hope to see you!

We’ve been introducing conference exhibitors over the past week or so. Here is our final installment, last but certainly not least, in reverse alphabetical order. (If you missed Parts One, Two, or Three, follow the links!).

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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 its 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 Jim Whiteside, as well as Casey Guering, whose short story “What Consumes You,” won the Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction. Past contributors include Dan Albergotti, NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee and former NC Poet Laureate Fred Chapell, Philip Gerard–recipient of the 2019 NC Award for Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor–and Emilia Phillips. The Greensboro Review facilitates the annual Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition (open January 15, 2022).


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The Carolina Quarterly has been publishing poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and artwork four times a year since 1965. Recent issues have featured the works of Lauri Anderson, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Aaron Gwyn, Matthew Volmer, and more. Pieces published in The Carolina Quarterly have appeared in New Stories from the South, Best of the South, Poetry Daily, O. Henry Prize Stories, The Pushcart Prizes, and Best American Short Stories. Today, The Carolina Quarterly publishes two print issues each year and two online issues, along with offering exclusive online-only content. This magazine is a proudly student-run journal, with a robust staff of both graduate and undergraduate editors, interns, and assistants, housed in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Carolina Quarterly facilitates the annual Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize (open through January 2, 2022).


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Backbone Press has been publishing diversely since 2012. They debut and support writers who are considered marginalized voices and whose work may not be published elsewhere. They publish chapbooks and collections of haiku, including Corner Shrine by Chloe Martinez; The Riddle of Longing by Faisal Mohyuddin; and Sea Island Blues by Tyree Daye (who’s leading the Master Class in Poetry at the NCWN 2021 Fall Conference). They sponsor the annual Backbone Press Chapbook Competition and the annual Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize. 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.”



We now bring you this breaking news: alphabetically last but never least, Unicorn Press has joined our exhibit hall!

Unicorn Press was founded in 1966 in Santa Barbara, CA, and in 1973 it moved to Greensboro. Unicorn Press seeks to publish excellent works of poetry that are unlikely to find a home elsewhere. Recent titles include Valley of Want by Ross White; Nowhere Buelah by Nicole Stockburger; and The Tyranny of Questions by Michael Gaspeny. Believing that readers should spend at least as much time reading a poem as the poet did writing it, Unicorn has produced poetry in every form: post cards to books: poems as individuals. Today, the press focuses on handbound chapbooks and smaller cohesive sheaves of poetry.

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Meet the NCWN 2021 Fall Conference Exhibitors – Part III

Today we continue introducing the exhibitors who will be on-hand at the NCWN 2021 Fall Conference, which happens November 19-21, at the Sheraton Imperial in Durham/RTP. If you missed Parts 1 and 2, follow the links to catch up!

Without further delay…

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Light Messages Publishing / Torchflame Books was founded by a family of authors who believed that there had to be a better model than predatory vanity presses or self-publishing for emerging authors. They’ve since published more than 200 titles for emerging, award-winning, and bestselling authors. New titles include Lies That Bind by Amanda Lamb, Unforgiving Savage by Dave Edlund, and The Next to Last Mistake by Amalie Jahn. Light Messages Publishing provides three different publishing models: Light Messages Traditional Publishing, Torchflame Hybrid Publishing, and Author Publishing. For submission information, click here.


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Jaki Shelton Green is the first African-American and third woman to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate. When he appointed her in 2018, Governor Cooper stated that “Jaki Shelton Green brings a deep appreciation of our state’s diverse communities to her role as an ambassador of North Carolina literature. Jaki’s appointment is a wonderful new chapter in North Carolina’s rich literary history.” In 2020, she released her first album, The River Speaks of Thirst, produced by Soul City Sounds. This vinyl poetry album contains 11 spoken poems.


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An award-winning graphic design, letterpress printing, and book production studio celebrating their 25 year anniversary, Horse & Buggy Press is located in Durham at 1116 Broad Street where they also curate a 500 square-foot fine craft and art gallery appropriately called Horse & Buggy Press and Friends. The gallery features work by dozens of established artists and craftspersons from across the Southeast. They host a diverse range of salon events including literary readings; artist and historian talks; musical performances; and variety, fashion, and trunk shows with special guests. Horse & Buggy Press takes on a wide range of print projects from bookmarks to 300 page book editions printed in the thousands, to environmental signage. Their online bookshop includes Trace: 25th Anniversary Fine Press Chapbook by Son Volt; The Moonshiner Popcorn Sutton by Neal Hutcheson; and City of Midnight Skies: Poems. Prose. Drawings by Stephen Gibson.


Founder Zelda Lockhart, Ph.D, believes the way workshops are taught and the way we write together builds community, and so the feedback and input of the participants shape the teaching and the Studio itself. Participants’ energy as feedback and volunteerism is a big part of Her Story Garden Studios’ magic. Her Story Garden Studios also collaborate with others to bring about free expression for Black women through the arts, including all Black women, straight, queer, and from all cultural backgrounds. Zelda or one of the other facilitators will hold you in orbit while you use the writing and the comfort of the environment and group to make the sounds (quiet or loud) that are true to your story. Zelda is the author of The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript, which takes readers on the emotional, psychological and spiritual journey of utilizing personal stories to transform their lives while completing a work of fiction, memoir or poetry.

Registration for the NCWN 2021 Fall Conference is open through November 12. There will be no on-site registration. To register, click here.

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Meet the NCWN 2021 Fall Conference Exhibitors – Part II

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2021 Fall Conference will offer all the terrific programming you’ve come to expect, including an exhibit hall packed with some of the best and brightest literary lights in the state.

We’ll be introducing our exhibitors over the next week or so, in reverse alphabetical order. (If you missed Part I, click here.) Here are five more friends who’ll be in the exhibit hall, November 19-21 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham/RTP:

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With more than 375 members from North Carolina and beyond, 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 wining 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. In 2003, the NCPS Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series, where three distinguished North Carolina poets are selected annually to mentor student poets in the eastern, central, and western regions of the state.


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Submissions open for the Doris Betts Fiction Prize (final judge: Monique Truong)! Published since 1992 by East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, the North Carolina Literary Review facilitates the annual Doris Betts Fiction Prize, which awards $250 and publication in NCLR to a short story under 6,000 words. The deadline is October 31. The theme of the fall, 2021 issue is “Writing Toward Healing,” featuring the winner and finalists of the 2020 James Applewhite Poetry Prize.


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Connecting the lives and creative work of authors to real (and imaginary) geographic locations. 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. The NC Literary Map also offers apps for literary walking tours. For exaple, there are two literary walking tours for Greensboro, one for O. Henry and one for Randall Jarrell–inductees of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, both.


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For more than half a century, the NCAC has provided resources for arts programming, education, and leadership across the state. The North Carolina Arts Council delivers resources to arts organizations and artists to support projects and programs of public value that revitalize downtowns, educate and empower North Carolina youths, and fuel a thriving non-profit creative sector that generates over $2 billion annually.


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Memoir magazine’s mission is to be a witness to both factual and emotional truths that resonate with the human heart by supporting writers and artists in sharing their stories—whether personal, social or political– through publication, education, and advocacy. Their goal is to cultivate our collective and individual capacity to recognize truth, while creating greater diversity and empathy, by flooding the world with stories that need to be told. The Annual Memoir Prize awards Memoir and Creative Nonfiction book-length works of exceptional merit in the categories of traditional, self-published, and previously unpublished prose. Deeadline: November 30. Memoir Magazine accepts nonfiction submissions under 3,000 words.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2021 Fall Conference is open.

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Meet the NCWN 2021 Fall Conference Exhibitors – Part I

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2021 Fall Conference runs November 19-21 at the Sheraton Imperial in Durham/RTP. We’re thrilled to offer a full weekend of classes and programs on the craft and business of writing, including a Keynote Address by NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green; a “Community Journalism” panel sponsored by PEN America; and an exhibit hall filled with literary organizations from around the state–all of whom can’t wait to talk to you.

We’ll be highlighting our exhibitors over the next couple of weeks. Here are five, starting in reverse alphabetical order….

Time Treasures Books is a young and innovative publishing company. Founded by Daniel Hill Zafren, retired Director of Legal Research at the Law Library of Congress, it seeks new quality works by contemporary authors, both fiction and nonfiction. It has also launched a reprint series of classic children’s literature, which reflects the true meaning of the publisher’s motto: “Books Treasured for All Time.” New titles include A Storm Within by Zafren and A Treasury of Classic Stories for Young Folks, which collects more than 500 pages of the most endearing and lasting of stories for children.


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Rofhiwa is the official bookseller of the NCWN 2021 Fall Conference. A black-owned independent Bookcafé in Durham, Rofhiwa strives to reflect the expansiveness of the black imagination and values books as repositories for collective knowledge. Rofhiwa’s exhibit table is where you’ll find most books by NCWN 2021 Fall Conference faculty.


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Founded in 2014, Regal House Publishing supports two imprints: Fitzroy Books, which publishes MG, YA, and children’s literature, and Pact Press, which publishes full-length fiction, memoirs, essay collections, anthologies, and creative nonfiction that offers social impact. Their mandate is to seek, support, encourage, and disseminate literary talent that might otherwise remain unread for lack of publishing opportunity. Upcoming titles in their “Sour Mash” Southern fiction series include McMullen Circle by Heather Newton, Indigo Field by Marjorie Hudson, and The Kudzu Queen by Mimi Herman, who will lead the session “Poetry Nap: Relax Your Way to Great” at the NCWN 2021 Fall Conference.


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Press 53 has been finding and sharing remarkable voices in poetry and short fiction since October, 2005, having published more than 200 titles that have earned more than seventy awards. Press 53 has published poetry and short fiction collections by authors from thirty-five states, including six state poets laureate. In 2011, Press 53 established Prime Number Magazine, a free online journal of distinctive poetry and short fiction. The 2022 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction is open for entries through December 31, 2021, awarded annually to an outstanding, unpublished short story collection. New titles include Dark Side of North by the late NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Anthony S. Abbott; Tales the Devil Told Me by Jen Fawkes, winner of the 2020 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction; and the anthology Crossing the Rift: North Carolina Poets on 9/11 and Its Aftermath.


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PEN America is the sponsor of Saturday’s luncheon “Community Journalism” panel discussion. Formed in 1922, PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Their PEN Across America initiative, launched in 2018, responds to mounting threats to free expression with opportunities for Members and their allies to mobilize locally through public programming, campaigns, literary events, workshops, civic forums, and other projects that expand engagement with PEN America’s mission. PEN America welcomes and celebrates emerging writers whose voices are adding to the literary experience. PEN America’s more than 7,500 Members live in every state. NCWN Membership Coordinator Deonna Kelli Sayed is the PEN America NC Piedmont representative (Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh).

Check back next week to meet five more NCWN 2021 Fall Conference exhibitors!

Registration for the NCWN 2021 Fall Conference is open.

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Visit Us at Bookmarks on Saturday

NCWN trustee Terry L. Kennedy (left) and NCWN Executive Director Ed Southern at Bookmarks in 2018

Best as we can recollect, the last time we exhibited somewhere was October of 2019, so it’s been almost two years since the North Carolina Writers’ Network has been able to interact in-person at a large-scale event.

We always look forward to the Bookmarks Festival of Books & Authors, but even more so this year. It’s a chance for staff to spend time together, soaking in the sun and some amazing literary programming; more importantly, it’s a chance for us to spend time with you, to talk about who you’re seeing, what you’re reading, and what your writing goals are.

This Saturday, September 25, we’ll be at Booth 8 on the corner of Holly and Poplar at the Bookmarks Festival of Books & Authors from about 10 am until close. Someone from the staff will be at the booth all day, and whoever it is will be excited to talk with you, even if we’re a littly rusty at making face-to-face conversation.

For the full list of exhibitors, click here.

NCWN Executive Director Ed Southern will participate in a panel “Ideas of Home” with NCWN Trustee Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle and NY Times Bestselling Author Jason Mott, at 1:00 pm in the Calvary Moravian Church.

The North Carolina Writers’ Network is the sponsor of “Books & Brews” with Wiley Cash and Jason Mott, which happens at 5:30 pm on Friday, September 24, in the 4th Street Breezeway between Bookmarks and Footnote. Tickets required.

For the full conference schedule, click here.

There are many COVID-19 protocols in place, so be sure to read the health and safety guidelines here.

We’re excited to see you on Saturday!

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What a Book Shortage Means for You

This year, consider shopping in-person and ordering ahead from indies like Scuppernong Books in Greensboro!

The pandemic has made most of us armchair experts in fields as diverse as epidemiology and global shipping; we now, casually, toss around terms such as “efficacy” and “supply chain,” words that probably weren’t in most of our everyday vocabularies in February of 2020.

Still, things like supply chains do matter, and one supply chain in particular is in danger of being disrupted and having an adverse effect on the publishing industry.

According to Publishers Weekly, “congestion at the ports, and escalating transportation costs” are putting “putting more pressure on the supply chain…printing capacity continues to shrink and labor shortages have made it difficult for printers, retailers, and wholesalers to fully staff their businesses.”

The New Orleans-based bookstore Tubby & Co, which hosts a helpful Twitter thread on the subject, notes there’s a paper shortage; a cardboard shortage; an increase in printing costs; and a labor shortage. Everyone is affected, from pop-up booksellers to large-scale wholesalers. Many authors have taken to Twitter in a panic.

But should we, the level-headed readers and writers of North Carolina, panic?

Truth is, yes, there is a paper shortage and yes, it will affect availability for the forseeable future. But this mostly affects new releases scheduled between now and the end of the year. Especially in terms of the holidays, if there’s a book coming out that you’re really looking forward to reading, or that you want to give to someone, it’s best to pre-order it now from your local bookstore.

It’s best to be a little ahead of the game in general, anyway, this year, because shipping is taking longer than usual to reach our beloved indies, all over the globe.

“Titles that used to take about two weeks to get to us are now taking a minimum of 3–4 weeks,” writes Carina Pereira on Book Riot, “and sometimes even end up all together cancelled.”

In fact, Pereira recommends taking a different approach entirely to shopping for books this year, including:

  • buying what you see, rather than what you want
  • buying gift cards to indies
  • buying more digital content
  • And of course, ordering ahead

As with any disruption, it’s the indie bookstores and indie publishers—who often commit to smaller print runs and so lack the economic muscle to keep up—who suffer most.

So let’s remember our indies here in Q4. And most importantly, as with most everything these days, let’s remember to have patience with one another…and ourselves!

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