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Flyleaf Launches Voice Rising

Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill has launched a new reading series: “Voice Rising”:

“Voice Rising pairs a small slate of hand-picked, local writers, be they unpublished, lesser-known or on the brink of a bigger stage, with one of our area’s myriad renowned writers for a truly unique evening.

“With each writer reading unpublished work for ten minutes followed by a crowd Q&A, Voice Rising is putting a local spin on your beloved bookshop readings.”

The first event on Monday, January 29, at 7:00 pm, will feature local writers Diana Mellow, Heather Wilson, and Michael Ventuolo-Mantovani alongside renowned Chapel Hill author and chair of UNC’s Creative Writing Department Daniel Wallace.

Diana Mellow is the Thomas Wolfe Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill. She comes from Moscow and grew up in New York City. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s designing theater sets, painting murals, and putting on puppet shows.

Heather Wilson is recent graduate of the University of North Carolina’s creative writing program. Her essays have been published in Off Assignment, an international online magazine for non-traditional travel literature, as well as Full Grown People, an online essay anthology. She lives in Carrboro and works at UNC Family Medicine.

Michael Venutolo-Mantovani is, in partnership with the wonderful crew at Flyleaf, the creator of Voice Rising. He is a longtime musician and record industry veteran whose work has been published on Bandcamp Daily,, and Cuepoint Magazine. After far too many years in New York City, he recently relocated to Chapel Hill with his wife. He is currently working on his literary debut.

Daniel Wallace is the author of six novels, including Big Fish (1998), Ray in Reverse (2000), The Watermelon King (2003), Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician (2007), The Kings and Queens of Roam (2013), and most recently Extraordinary Adventures (May 2017). His children’s book, published in 2014, and for which he did both the words and the pictures, is called The Cat’s Pajamas, and it is adorable. In 2003, Big Fish was adapted and released as a movie and then in 2013 the book and the movie were mish-mashed together and became a Broadway musical. His novels have been translated into over two-dozen languages.

Daniel Wallace is the J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his alma mater, where he directs the Creative Writing Program.

Flyleaf Books is located at 752 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., in Chapel Hill

For more information, click here.

Year in Review: Literary Magazines

This year on the White Cross School blog has been all about literary magazines. We’ve featured one each week, mostly from North Carolina, but a few from our friends in South Carolina as well.

It’s the end of the year, and we “think” we made it through the ones we’re familiar with, anyway, although we’re sure we’ve missed some too.

Use this as a resource when you look to submit your work in 2018. Good luck!

Appalachian Journal.
Asheville Poetry Review.
at Length.
Broad River Review.
The Carolina Quarterly.
Cave Wall.
Change Seven.
Cold Mountain Review.
The Crucible.
The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.
Firefly Ridge Magazine.
Glint Literary Journal.
The Greensboro Review.
InterGalactic Medicine Show.
Main Street Rag.
Minerva Rising Literary Journal.
moonShine Review.
The New New South.
North Carolina Folklore Journal.
North Carolina Literary Review.
The Pedestal Magazine.
Pembroke Magazine.
Pisgah Review.
Prime Number Magazine.
Raleigh Review.
Redheaded Stepchild.
Rockvale Review.
Snapdragon: a Journal of Art & Healing.
South 85.
Southern Cultures.
The Sun.
Tar River Poetry.
The Thomas Wolfe Review.
Wild Goose Poetry Review.

When You’re Ready to Stop Talking About It and Actually Write that Book….

Depending on where they are on the path to (and beyond) publication, authors need different types of support. One author may still be in the process of hammering out their final draft and need a critical eye to make that manuscript the best it can be. Another author may have already taken their book to market, in which case, they’ll need a battalion of PR support.

Enter Authors Talk About It, a full-service author resource center to help writers pen their best books and get those books into readers’ hands.

It’s simply not possible to effectively edit our own writing—we’re just too close to it. So Authors Talk About It offers editing services that include:

  • Tracked changes
  • Comments throughout the manuscript
  • A second-look AFTER you make the suggested edits, or not!

In addition, authors who use these services get 50 percent off another round of edits within 30 days.

For those already with a book out in the world—and on sale now!—Authors Talk About It offers a deep Marketing Library with downloadable video and workbook tutorials to help the published author move widgets. From “Increase Your Chances of Becoming an Award Winning Author” to “Build Your Badass Bio & Create a Powerful Short Bio,” access to this treasure trove is currently on sale for less than $100…but brings $800 value.

Other features of the site include Resources for Authors (check out the link to NCWN contests!); contests for Book Blurbs and Book Covers; and more.

The Authors Talk About It Book Award Contest is open now through August 31, 2018. There are really too many packages and tiers of prizes to do justice to on this blog, so just take our word for it and check it out here!

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

Help Roll Out New Black Feminist Bookmobile

Over the past decade, food trucks have become a culinary phenomenon, perhaps nowhere more so than in Durham.

So it seems appropriate that in 2018, the Bull City will welcome its first black feminist bookmobile, a natural, road-worthy extension for wheeled customer service. If food, why not books?

Anyone who grew up in a rural part of the country is familiar with bookmobiles. They’re the literary lifeblood of many communities that are too poor or too far-flung to support a brick ‘n mortar library branch.

The “black feminist nerd haven” planned for Durham will be housed in an “old Airstream trailer,” retro-fitted with bookshelves and stocked with “a collection of nearly 1,000 books that has been cultivated over years and continues to grow.”

A recent event at the Center for Documentary Studies raised money for this endeavor. Through donations and merchandise sales, they’re on their way to meeting their $10,000 goal.

According to a recent article in The Indy, two of the founders, Julia Roxanne Wallace and Alexis Pauline Gumbs already run the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Lending and Reference Library.

For the full article, click here.

Merch is only available until Friday. Click here to order now!

(They promise delivery before Christmas….)

Happy Trails, Lucy Cole Gratton

Lucy Cole Gratton has served as the longtime NCWN-West regional rep for Cherokee County. Alas, all good things must come to an end.

Lucy will step down as regional rep at the end of this month, and we wish her nothing but the best in her move south to the Atlanta area. She’s moving for the best of all reasons, returning to where she grew up and to be closer to family.

A distinguished poet and prose writer, Lucy Cole Gratton is a retired CPA who has lived in Murphy close to twenty years. As regional rep for NCWN-West, she regularly attends critiques and readings, including organizing monthly events at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

She is a 2012 recipient of the Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award. A lifetime member of the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition and a founding member of the Yun wi’ Gunahi’ta Society, Lucy has been actively involved with the organization since 2000. She served as the Coalition’s first executive director from 2001-2003.

Lucy’s poetry has appeared in Wild Goose Poetry Review and the chapbook Inagehi. Her interests in protecting our natural environment are reflected in her writings and life on her acreage on Lake Apalachia.

Thank you, Lucy, for all of your support over the years, preparing promotional material, scheduling events, and most of all working so well with the writers of Western North Carolina.

Lucy has asked us to share a poem she wrote, which appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Wild Goose Poetry Review.

Godspeed and good luck, Lucy Cole Gratton!


Acres of forest,
a beguiling creek
downward splashing
from a copious waterfall
into the lake’s primitive splendor.

Years away from progress.
A time of solitude and peace,
hard physical labor,
volunteer work, contemplation,
of writing, reading, letting go.

Signs are everywhere.
Time to go…
Leave this place, die mourning it;
or stay at risk against wise counsel –
unbearable choices.

Even if chosen,
how, by what means –
give it all away,
sell it to a stranger,
how would they know
to earn the rudiments of care?

If I were to go, parting
would shatter my heart;
gouge a hole
in an ebbing mind;
turn my soul
to hoar frost.

Giving Tuesday

On this #GivingTuesday, the North Carolina Writers’ Network welcomes and appreciates any donation, in any amount, that any lover of literature sees fit to give. All you have to do is visit our website,, and click on the “Nobody Writes Alone” banner below our logo.

The Network, however, is doing fine. Our membership is strong, diverse, and active; our Fall Conference was energized and well-attended; Contest Season is underway; and registration for the first of our Winter Series of online workshops, “Micropoetry: The Ritual of Chiseling Words!” with Crystal Simone Smith, is already ahead of projections.

So, on this #GivingTuesday, in this year with such needs, we urge you NOT to give to the Network. We urge you to give elsewhere: a local food bank, a literacy initiative, a relief agency helping those affected by this Fall’s many natural disasters, a program supporting the homeless or veterans or one of the many other segments of Americans who need your help even more than us poor, high-strung writers.

Thank you for all your support of the Network, whether as members, donors, or both. We look forward to serving writers more—and to serving more writers—in the coming year.


Ed Southern
Executive Director
North Carolina Writers’ Network

Who Will Be NC’s Next Poet Laureate?

North Carolina has had eight state poet laureates.

The first, Arthur Talmadge Abernethy, served from 1948-1953. He was followed by James Larkin Pearson, who was literally “poet laureate for life,” serving from 1953 until his death, at 102, in 1981.

Sam Ragan (1982-1996); Fred Chappell (1997-2002); Kathryn Stripling Byer (2005–2009); Cathy Smith Bowers (2010–2012); Joseph Bathanti (2012–2014); and Shelby Stephenson (2015-2017) have all taken their turns as literary ambassadors for the Tar Heel State.

Now the mantle will pass to someone else.

The North Carolina Arts Council is taking nominations for the state’s next poet laureate. The public is invited to nominate any North Carolina poet, or themselves, if they feel they are best suited for the position. Only current North Carolina residents are eligible to be nominated. Judging will be based on the following criteria:

  • A North Carolinian with deep connections to the cultural life of the state
  • Literary excellence of the poet’s work
  • Influence on other writers, and appreciation of literature in its diversity throughout the state
  • Ability and willingness to conduct the public engagement duties of the office
  • Statewide, national or international reputation

The deadline for nominations is Friday, December 8.

After review of all applicants, a selection committee will recommend names to Governor Roy Cooper, who will choose the ninth poet laureate of North Carolina. An installation ceremony, open to the public, will take place during the first quarter of 2018.

Nominate here.

Blue Ridge Books Has Moved!

We’re about to hit the crush of the holiday season, when bookstores—and all retailers, really—do the majority of their year’s business.

If you’re out in Western North Carolina and planning to buy some books, this is just a heads up that Blue Ridge Books has moved to a new location, official as of last week!

Blue Ridge Books is now located at:

Hazelwood Village
428 Hazelwood Ave.
Waynesville, NC 28786

Our congratulations goes out to this decade-old indie bookstore. As one of their lovely booksellers said on the phone this morning, “The worst is over.” They’re finally settling in!

Blue Ridge Books hosts regular author events; works with local schools on summer reading lists and Head Start students; and is, according to their website, the “only place in Haywood County to buy The Wall Street Journal.”

Visit Blue Ridge Books on the web, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

If you’re out that way, be sure to stop by and see the new digs. They for sure have the perfect book for anyone and everyone on your holiday gift list.

Firefly Helps Women Heal by Finding their Voice

For years, LaVenson Press Studios, in Hillsborough, has offered “women and young women writing workshops that instill emotional, and psychological truth in their writing.” Founded by Zelda Lockhart, the 2010 Piedmont Laureate, LaVenson Press Studios helps women use writing as a mode of healing and a way to celebrate their natural gifts.

Firefly Ridge Literary Magazine is one way for these women to reach a wider audience with their art. Although each issue is free to read online, only those who have taken a class at LaVenson Press Studios may contribute to the magazine.

The 2016 issue, #3, features short stories by the winner and finalists of the 2016 Women’s Writing Award; poetry by Lisa Hosokawa Garber; and a bit of flash fiction from Gilda Packard. Each issue is elegant but simple, letting each woman’s words stand on their own without too many design flourishes or artwork.

In 20106, Lockhart founded her own publishing company, LaVenson Press, after acquiring her novel Cold Running Creek from Simon & Schuster. Two years later, the novel won a Black Caucus of The American Library Association Finalist Award and was the Text in Community Read for all incoming students at North Carolina A&T University. She went on to publish her novel Fifth Born II: The Hundredth Turtle which was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and has had excerpts published in Chautauqua, Obsidian, the North Carolina Literary Review, and SouthWrit Large.

Her latest book, The Soul of The Full-Length Manuscript, acts as creative companion for those with or without writing experience. It is designed to take the psychological “stuff” that has been making a mess of your life and use it to make art, to seek closure (temporary or perhaps permanent) all the while producing a full-length work of fiction, poetry or memoir.

Interested in taking a class at LaVenson Press Studios? Keep an eye on the website for future offerings.

You can also stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

In the Company of Laureates

This past October, state poet laureates of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and of course, North Carolina—among other noted poets—gathered for “In the Company of Laureates,” an hours-long celebration of poetry at the Hylton Center for the Performing Arts on George Mason University’s Science and Technology Campus in Manassas, VA.

Hosted by the Poetry Society of Virginia, participants met and mingled with the laureates and other regional poets and enthusiasts for workshops, panel discussions, open mics, and more.

The organizers were on the ball and made recordings of the laureates’ readings, which they were gracious enough to share.

Shelby Stephenson, at right, has been the poet laureate of North Carolina since 2015. (Although nominations are now open for the next North Carolina Poet Laureate.)

Below are more clips, including Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, who was poet laureate of Virginia from 2006-2008; JoAnn Balingit, poet laureate of Delaware from 2008-2015; Michael Collier, Maryland Poet Laureate from 2001-2004; and E. Ethelbert Miller, Co-Editor of Poet Lore and Director of Howard University’s African-American Resource Center.