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George S. Converse, RIP

By Wade Hopkin

October 6, 1946 – May 2, 2018

Lieutenant Colonel George S. Converse was a unique individual and an outstanding writer.

As a contributor to the Naval History Institute magazine, he was listed as:

“…(U.S. Marine Corps, Ret.) graduated with a BA in English from Montana State University in 1968, the same year he was commissioned in the Marine Corps. During his twenty-eight-year career as an infantry officer, he served in all four Marine divisions; at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, DC; at the Marine Corps Combat Development and Education Command at Quantico, Virginia; and in combat tours in Vietnam and Lebanon. He resides in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.”

For the many people who knew him, each may have a different opinion and distinctive moment. For me, I think the real George can be found with the people he nurtured, his wit and insight, and especially his poetry which sang from his heart with beauty and joy.

David R. Tanis said this about his friend.

“George and I shared a rare commonality—both in that rare group of men who call themselves warrior-poets. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed each one of George’s terrific poems in his collection, The Winds of the Compass Rose. George was a remarkable man who perfectly embodied the toughness of the combat Marine and the human philosophical understanding of the poet.

“But most important of all his many admirable qualities, I could honestly call George my friend. I will miss him greatly.”

George’s great love and commitment were to the Naval history of Eastern Carolina with numerous articles appearing in the Daily Advance, written in a clear and concise style in precisely 500 words.

He was especially proud of publishing his collection of poems, The Winds of the Compass Rose, released in January of this year. As he wrote in the last poem of this collection:

Epilegomenon (1)
…And we are like the wind somehow,
ever changing as we flow;
meeting our helm to the turn of the bow,
as on our course we go.
We live our lives between the moon and the earth,
tossed back to fall to the foam,
never to rest in a quiet berth,
the windspun seeking a home.

On the last page of his book of poems, he penned:

The Season of the Winds to the Chinese,
The Tower of the Winds to the Greeks,
The Rosa dos Ventos to the Portuguese,
By the winds, to man, God Speaks.

On May 2, 2018, he died on the way to his 50th college reunion in Montana.


1 While there are many definitions of epilegomenon, I feel the explanation in Principles of Mental Physics, Richard B. Wells, 2009, Chapter 13, comes closest. Dr. Wells wrote, “Looking back I use the word epilegomenon to mean looking back at what we have covered and looking ahead at what implications this material holds for future developments. The words epilogue, epitome, and summary do not adequately convey this dual connotation of the look back and the look ahead, and that is why the word epilegomenon is introduced.”

A Publisher for “Misfit Toys”: Falstaff Books

Anyone familiar with Shakespeare will know what to expect when picking up a title by Charlotte-based Falstaff Books.

Mentioned in four Shakespeare plays, Falstaff is a plump knight and irresistible suitor who spends the majority of his time drinking in the Boar’s Head Inn with petty criminals. Gregarious, brave, loyal, outside the mainstream—not to mention the kind of a person you might like to have a drink with—Falstaff is a character you won’t soon forget, which, come to think of it, describes Falstaff Books as well.

Falstaff Books welcomes the “misfit toys,” battered, ignored, or rejected fictional works in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery, and dramatic literature.

Recent titles include Rock Revival: a Music Novel by Natania Barron; Shapes in the Smoke by Dylan Birtolo; and Shades of Grey, the finale of Season 4 of the Bubba the Monster Hunter series by John G. Hartness, who’ll be on faculty at the upcoming NCWN 2018 Fall Conference (registration opens on or before September 1).

Other Falstaff authors include Jake Bible, A.J. Hartley, and Gail Z. Martin, who also will lead a session at the NCWN 2018 Fall Conference, “Worldbuilding: Making Your Setting Come Alive!”

Falstaff is looking for novels and novellas in the categories of Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Romance, Weird West, and, of course, the genres with a little bit of everything or something they’ve never seen before. No Erotica or Young Adult, though.

For full submission guidelines, click here.

It’s not all speculative blood and guts, though. Falstaff also published We Are Not This – Carolina Writers for Equality, along with other titles meant to serve the community.

Visit Falstaff on the web at or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

NCWN Members Get Discount Toward LR Enrollment


Did you know that members of the North Carolina Writers’ Network are eligible for a 10 percent savings toward pursuing a graduate or undergraduate degree from Lenoir-Rhyne University?

The following programs are taking applications through August 1 for the Fall 2018 Semester. Classes are held at our facility in downtown Asheville, or online.

  • MA in Writing
  • Certificate in Narrative Health
  • MBA in Social Entrepreneurship
  • MS in Sustainability Studies
  • MBA (traditional)
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – undergraduate degree completion program
  • MBA in Non-Profit Management
  • MA in Leadership – fully online
  • Master of Public Health – focus in Community Wellness
  • MS in Nursing – fully online
  • MA in Counseling (Clinical Mental Health or School Counseling)
  • MA in Community College Administration – fully online
  • MA in University Leadership – fully online
  • MA in Teaching – fully online

Start the application process by clicking here.

Shortly after starting the application, an enrollment counselor will reach out to you, to support you through the application process.

If you’d like to visit the LR Asheville campus first, that’s no problem. Schedule your personal visit here or by emailing Kohl Friery in enrollment! You can also call Kohl at (828) 407-4270.

Learn more about Lenoir-Rhyne here.

Not a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network? Join here!

SIBA Announces Summer 2018 Okra Picks

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has announced their Summer 2018 Okra Picks, “a literary harvest of forthcoming hand sell hot picks and future bestsellers.”

For July, fans of young adult fantasy might check out Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty (Disney-Hyperion). Beatty, author of the bestselling Serafina series, taught at the NCWN 2015 Fall Conference in Asheville. His new book tells the story of Willa, “a young night-spirit of the Great Smoky Mountains,” and her clan’s best thief.

September’s picks include The Law of Finders Keepers by Newberry Honor author Sheila Turnage, a longtime NCWN member. Her previous book, The Odds of Getting Even, was nominated for The Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction. The Law of Finders Keepers  is the heart-warming conclusion to the beloved Mo & Dale Mysteries.

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

Wiley Cash Wins 2018 Southern Book Prize

North Carolina author Wiley Cash has won the 2018 Southern Book Prize in “Literary” Fiction for his novel The Last Ballad.

Books that win the Southern Book Prize are:

Nominated by booksellers and their customers, vetted by bookstores and selected by a jury of Southern booksellers, these are the Southern books that Southern bookstores were most passionate about, and inspired the most “you’ve got to read this” and “hand sell” moments in stores across the South. They represent the best of Southern literature, from the people who would know—Southern indie booksellers.

The award is sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA).

The Last Ballad is set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. The novel chronicles an ordinary woman’s struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill.

“We need more women (and men) like Ella Mae Wiggins in this world,” says George Williams of MoonPie General Store in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. “Someone who is willing to stand up for a better world no matter the cost. This is her story, and we are all better for having come to know it.”

Wiley Cash gave the Keynote Address at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Fall Conference in Wrightsville Beach.

Wiley is The New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind than Home, This Dark Road to Mercy, and The Last Ballad, which are available from William Morrow/HarperCollinsPublishers. Wiley holds a BA in Literature from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, an MA in English from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a Ph.D in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He has received grants and fellowships from the Asheville Area Arts Council, the Thomas Wolfe Society, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. His stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Garden & Gun, O. Henry Magazine, and The Carolina Quarterly. Wiley is writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and teaches in the Mountainview Low-Residency MFA Program. A native of North Carolina, he lives in Wilmington with his wife and their two young daughters.

Among the many award categories, North Carolina publisher Algonquin Books took top honors in the “Women and Family” Fiction category with Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin.

For the full list of award winners, click here.

Pioneering the Book World of Tomorrow: OBX Publishing

It’s fitting that Outer Banks Publishing Group has positioned itself as a “hybrid” publisher, given their proximity to Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Brothers combined moxie with ingenuity to achieve human flight more than a century ago.

Outer Banks Publishing Group embraces this same pioneering spirit to produce both e-books and printed books to penetrate the world’s biggest book market: the internet.

“We hope you find a book that will enlighten your life,” says the press’ bookstore.

Recent titles include The Monster Inn – Alex and the Wolpertinger by Koos Verkaik; the memoir that isn’t a memoir, Our Own Little Fictions: Stories from the Road by Ron Rhody; and The Mansfield Killings by Scott Fields, soon to be a major motion picture.

Outer Banks Publishing aims to treat each author as partner in the development, publication, and longterm selling of each book. They promise to:

  • Provide editorial guidance to make your book the best it can be.
  • Actively solicit your input in the design of the cover. After all who knows your book best.
  • Publish your book as an eBook on various retail eBook sites including the Amazon Kindle.
  • Publish your book as a trade paperback and distribute on Amazon and book retailers internationally if it qualifies.
  • Set up a Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking site accounts if you do not already have them.
  • Send press releases to appropriate media.
  • Actively market your book in as many channels as possible for maximum exposure.

If it sounds like Outer Banks Publishing Group might be the right publisher for you, send a query along with one to three chapters.

Click here for full submission details.

Visit Outer Banks Publishing on the web at or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Consider the Emerging Writers Resistance Campaign


Wilmington-based Athenian Press & Workshops launched earlier this year with the purpose of cultivating a supportive, creative space for female, trans, and gender nonconforming writers and writers of color.

To these ends, they host workshops and webinars; run a pretty killer bookstore; and will soon launch a press to publish “books and anthologies by authors whose works desperately need to be told—mainly, those targeted for their race, gender, sexuality, and/or (dis)ability who are told that their stories are unmarketable.”

They’re hoping to raise $7,000 by July 10 for their Emerging Writers Resistance Campaign.

Donations will:

  • Help Athenian Press celebrate voices of women, femmes, people of color, trans, and gender variant writers by funding their visit to Athenian and allowing them to connect with our community.
  • Allow Athenian Press to provide quality creative counseling at no cost to our members.
  • Allow Athenian Press to (1) develop and maintain the resource center and (2) host a variety of events lead by successful publishing professionals, who will share their knowledge with the next generation of writers, editors, etc.
  • Assist with production of programs and workshops to serve Athenian Press members.
  • Help Athenian Press provide scholarships for those unable to afford workshops tickets.
  • Provide the funding to visit classrooms in underprivileged areas of the Southeast.

As of this posting, they’re a little more than 10 percent of the way toward their goal!

Donate here.

Short on funds? Athenian Press also welcomes contributions from volunteers: opportunities abound.

Visit their website at or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

An Audience to Hear It: Birds, LLC

The best publishers have an aesthetic that is instantly recognizable, both in the authors they publish and the overall design of their publications.

Birds, LLC, a small press that focuses on timely poetry collections and poetic-novelistic hybrids, collaborates with and supports their authors through “readings, events, and podcasts,” because poetry “demands a human voice and an audience to hear it.”

Birds, LLC, is based in Raleigh but also operates out of Austin, Minneapolis, and New York. As a small press, they release only a couple titles a year, which ensures each poetry collection—and all of their authors—experience the close, collaborative experience so many writers crave.

Simply put, though, Birds, LLC, is on one helluva run.

In September of 2016, they published the novel-as-longform-poem IRL by Tommy Pico. This novel went on to win the inaugural Brooklyn Public Library Literary Award and was a finalist for the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

IRL delights and surprises, defies categorization, and challenges our narrative and linguistic expectations,” said Téa Obreht, Brooklyn Library Prize jury member and National Book Award finalist. “It is, on every level, a remarkable achievement.”

Not long after, Pico was featured in The New York Times Style section and recently won the prestigious Whiting Award for Poetry.

Concurrently, R E D, by Chase Berggrun, was released in May to critical acclaim.

“In Berggrun’s striking debut, a book-length erasure of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, that text becomes fertile soil for cultivating complex story of sexual awakening, domestic abuse, and liberation,” said Publisher’s Weekly in a starred review. “Indeed, if flipping Stoker’s novel into a feminist narrative is a somewhat straightforward reversal, Berggrun’s poems convey that narrative’s stark circumstances with a poignancy and rage difficult to achieve.”

Their website is a bit short on submission guidelines, but you can read more about Birds, LLC, at or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

New Writing Challenge for All Writers!


Eastern North Carolina poet Gabrielle Brant Freeman has launched a new writing project that promises to be both fun and hone our writing chops. You’re gonna definitely want to check it out.

BOX is a quarterly writing challenge. Five objects will be posted each quarter. Writers will respond with a poem, short story, creative nonfiction piece, or hybrid work incorporating all five objects. A maximum of five pieces will be chosen for publication for each category.

The first objects have been posted here.

The idea is to write a poem of seventy-five lines or fewer; one short story of 2,500 words or fewer; one creative nonfiction piece of 2,500 words or fewer; or one hybrid piece of a reasonably brief length, incorporating all five objects. Then submit!

What’s in it for you?

The joy of the challenge, possible publication, and, if your piece is The Editor’s Choice, you’ll be the proud new owner of all five objects from the challenge, boxed just for you!

The deadline though, is July 3, so get better get crackin’.

Check out BOX at or on Instagram.

Gabrielle Brant Freeman’s poetry has been published in many journals, including Barrelhouse, The Emerson Review, Hobart, Melancholy Hyperbole, Rappahannock Review, Shenandoah, storySouth, and Waxwing. She has been nominated twice for the Best of the Net, and she was a 2014 finalist. Freeman won the 2015 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition with her poem “Failure to Obliterate” which was published in storySouth. Press 53 published her first book of poetry, When She Was Bad, in 2016. In 2015, she was awarded a regional artist grant through the North Carolina Arts Council. Freeman earned her MFA through Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She teaches at East Carolina University, and she lives with her family in Eastern North Carolina.

Love Reading? You Can Win Some Schwag!


In May, UNC-TV launched The Great American Read, an eight-part series that “explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels.”

These 100 novels where chosen through a national survey. You may have seen displays in indie bookstores such as Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill highlighting some of these titles. Libraries across the country, including the Chapel Hill Public Library, are hosting coinciding events.

As part of this celebration, UNC-TV Public Media is running a promotion to name “The Great American Reader of the Week.”

All you have to do is fill out a short questionnaire about your favorite book for the chance to win some “sweet Great American Read swag from PBS!” Questions include what book you’re reading now and an invitation to talk about what you love most about reading.

To fill out the questionnaire, click here.

Through October 18, you also can vote for your favorite book from among the 100 novels chosen as part of The Great American Read.

You can vote using the voting app on The Great American Read website or by posting an original post to Facebook or Twitter using the official hashtag for your favorite book. The hashtags for each book can be found on the individual book pages in the READ THE LIST section.

So go ahead: you know you want to burn some time giving some love to your favorite books!

Curious how many of the 100 favorite books you’ve read? Download the PDF here.