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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.


How to Recognize, and Avoid, Plagiarism

For a writer, there is perhaps no worse crime than plagiarism. The “practice of stealing someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own” is unfortunately not uncommon, from high-school students to New York Times bestsellers.

Young writers, though, are especially vulnerable to plagiarism simply given the enormous amount of information freely available on the web. Students may copy and present work that is not their own for a variety of reasons, not all of them nefarious.

Sometimes students simply don’t understand the information and can’t weave it with their own thoughts; they may forget (or not realize they need to) attribute quotes; or they may use copied material as a placeholder and then forget to make it their own.

The Organization for Online Learning offers many resources for understanding, avoiding, and combatting plagiarism. An online resource center for anyone interested in higher learning through the web, The Organization for Online Learning offers a deep exploration and tips for Understanding and Preventing Plagiarism in College.

This page has been widely cited as a good resource for understanding the consequences and pit falls of policing plagiarism and copyright infringement.

From explaining the importance of academic integrity, to outlining how to propery cite sources, The Organization for Online Learning walks readers through the various types of plagiarism, dicsusses how plagiarism differs from copyright infringement, and the consequences of both. They also answer many commonly asked questions about plagiarism, such as “If I find information relevant to my paper and reword it completely, is it considered plagiarism?”

To read the full article, click here.

The Organization for Online Learning (

connects prospective students directly to online colleges and universities. Dedicated to helping people further their education and career goals and as such, they only promote accredited online degree programs. They also set themselves apart by featuring a database containing only not-for-profit schools. This makes them a unique resource for students who are not interested in attending for-profit institutions. Consider the Organization for Online Learning a one-stop shop for everything related to online education.

Visit their website here.

Snapdragon Offers Healing and Direction for Our Creative Powers

In healing tradition, the snapdragon flower helps redirect creative power into more culturally appropriate endeavors, easing physical ailments such as mouth and jaw tension, grinding teeth, and oral fixations.

Snapdragon: a Journal of Art & Healing, offers a platform for self-expression and the healing of the soul. Through poetry and prose, the journal hopes to direct our powerful metabolic energies into their “rightful channels,” and in the process, offer healing through art.

Recent issues run 100+ pages and offer creative nonfiction, poetry, and photography. They publish “new and previously published work on the theme of healing (emotional, physical, spiritual, community, etc.).” They do not publish the same author more than once per calendar year.

Readers can subscribe for $15 a year, which basically means you receive one annual issue free. That’s a good deal!

Click here to subscribe.

Snapdragon does publish its “Art Speaks!” interviews on its website, which can be read for free. Publisher and poetry editor Jacinta V. White sits down with renowned female writers like NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Jaki Shelton Green, Samantha Kostmayer Sulaiman, and others. This section highlights authors who are “‘walking the walk.’ Those using art as a healing tool in their community.”

Interested in submitting? Send 1-3 poems or up to 4,000 words of nonfiction. They generally offer four themed submission periods each year, the next opening up in January.

Click here to submit.

Help Build the First Bookstore for Women in Southeast NC

If you came to Fall Conference, you probably met our friends from Athenian Press & Workshops. They’ve got a real vision: to open the first bookstore and resource center for women and femme writers in the Southeast United States.

They want to open it in North Carolina, because our state is a diverse state, both geographically and socially, and there’s a need for this type of thing in our community.

The truth is, though, they’ve got an uphill climb in order to get there, and time is running out.

We’re sharing this letter with you in hopes that you’ll be moved to act on their behalf. If it takes a village to raise a child, then the same can be said for a worthwhile endeavor such as this.

From our friends at Athenian Press & Workshops:

Hello again from the Athenian team!

We are a feminist, creative organization promoting marginalized voices, and our countdown officially begins! We need to raise $30,000 by November 30 to open Southeastern NC’s first bookstore, resource center, press, and event space catered to women and femme writers of all ages, femininities, sexualities, races, (dis)abilities, and religious affiliations.

In the space, we will house lectures by successful authors, professional development seminars, writing workshops, and community engagement meetings. This will also serve as the hub for our press and literary magazine. Learn more at

Sound like something you want to support?

Cool! Here’s four ways to get involved:

1. Help Athenian by donating.

Every little bit counts. If 300 people give $100, we will met our goal and will be able to provide this resource as early as January 2018!

2. You can donate time by helping us with advertising, volunteer recruitment, communications during the campaign, and/or store management when the space is open.

3. Donate resources and connections–donors, sponsors, printing services, information about grants, access to materials, etc.

4. Get involved–become a member, a workshop leader, board member, etc.

We hope to hear from you soon and appreciate your consideration of our mission! If you have any questions or feedback, please reach out to me (Lori) at

Much love,

Lori Wilson
Executive Director

Poetry in Plain Sight Is Back and Broader than Ever

Poetry in Plain SightAfter a brief hiatus, Poetry in Plain Sight has returned in expanded form!

Poetry in Plain Sight, initially a prorgram of the Winston-Salem Writers and now in collaboration with the North Carolina Poetry Society, features “North Carolina poets and their poetry in street-visible locations.”

Select poems are laid out on beautifully designed posters. These prints are displayed in storefronts and other high-traffic, public areas, often “arts districts and downtown spaces.”

Four poems will be featured each month in Winston-Salem and associated cities, including New Bern and Waynesville, beginning March, 2018.

Poets may submit to have one of their poems included in the program. The deadline to submit for 2018 is December 31. Poems should not exceed twenty lines or line lengths of 4-1/2 inches, 12-point type.

Poets who are selected for this program will receive a complimentary poster and an invitation to read at a live Poetry in Plain Sight event.

Click here to submit!

Follow South 85 for Rare Finds, Hidden Gems

South 85 Journal, published by the Low-Residency MFA Program at Converse College, encourages us “write like mad.” If it’s good, they’ll want to see it.

Founded in 2012, this online literary journal blends excellent writing and design with an eye toward expanding its multimedia presence; it recently launched a YouTube channel with videos of readings set to musical scores.

South 85 stands tall in its commitment to emerging writers. All issues are free. The pages are easy to navigate.

A cursory glance at a few recent issues won’t turn up many big-name authors, but instead uncovers gems like the short story “Not So Far to Ushuaia” by debut fiction writer Brian Phipps or the poem “Before the Sting” by Lynn Marie Houston.

South 85 publishes fiction (up to 10,000 words), nonfiction (up to 8,000 words), and poetry (up to 5 poems/10 pages), as well as book reviews. They also are always seeking writers to contribute to their weekly blog that focuses on different aspects of the writing craft. Reviews are by assignment only.

The MFA in Creative Writing Program at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, is a two-year co-educational low residency program designed for serious, independent writers seeking advanced instruction in poetry, fiction, young adult fiction, creative nonfiction, and environmental writing through a non-traditional course of graduate study. The program emphasizes the mastery and understanding of writing skills and contemporary literature and craft through the master-writer and apprentice mentoring relationship, ultimately offering students a stimulating and individually tailored curriculum of courses and projects.

The next submission period for South 85 is February 1 – May 1, 2018. To submit, click here.

Visit their website here or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


NCWN Members Get Discount on FNWC Registration

The virtual Fall Nonfiction Writers Conference happens November 9-10, and we’ve got a special offer only for members of the North Carolina Writers’ Network: 33 percent off registration!

Just use the discount code “PARTNER33” at checkout to receive a 33 percent discount on registration.

This event is completely virtual. Eight carefully selected speakers will deliver content-rich sessions of fifty minutes each, including Q&A with attendees. You can participate via phone or through your internet connection via Skype.

The theme for the event is Marketing Mastery for Authors. Speakers include:

  • Jim Horan – Opening Keynote: Ready for Your Author Business to Get Easy?
  • Sandra Beckwith – Build Your Book Marketing Plan
  • Connie Ragan Green – Website Secrets and Content Marketing for Authors
  • Joan Stewart – Book Hooks: Fun, Timely, Creative Angles to Publicize Your Book
  • Dennis Yu – Facebook Marketing for Authors
  • Stephanie Chandler – Advanced Book Marketing Tactics That Get Results
  • Patrick Schwerdtfeger – Keynote Gold: Speaking to Sell More Books
  • Tina Dietz – Marketing with Podcasts and Audio Books

“NFWC is the best investment I make each year in my nonfiction author career,” says Mary Shafer of Devastation on the Delaware, “The caliber and accessibility of the presenters is unusually high, the topics well chosen and diverse, and I can honestly say that at least half of the presentations would have been worth the cost of the whole conference alone.”

Please note, this is not a pitch-fest:

We carefully hand-select our speakers and ask each to deliver a content-rich lecture, followed by Q&A with our live audience. They will not tease you with promises of content and then bait you with an offer to learn more through one of their “programs.” This is not how we do things.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Given the special discount for NCWN members, how could it not be worth the money? You don’t even have to get up from your couch!

Margaret D. Bauer Wins NC Award for Literature

North Carolina Writers’ Network trustee Margaret D. Bauer has been awarded a North Carolina Award for Literature. She and the other 2017 winners will be honored in a ceremony in Raleigh on November 9.

Established by the General Assembly in 1961, the North Carolina Award is the highest civilian honor given by the state. Presented annually since 1964, the award recognizes significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine art, literature, public service, and science. Though given by the governor, the award is administered by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Margaret D. Bauer is the editor of the North Carolina Literay Review and has published twenty annual print issues under her tenure. Author of four books of literary criticism, including A Study of Scarletts: Scarlett O’Hara and Her Literary Daughters (University of South Carolina Press, 2014), she is now turning her hand to creative writing and has creative nonfiction in storySouth and forthcoming in New Madrid and a poem forthcoming in Broad River Review. She is Rives Chair of Southern Literature and Harriot College Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences at East Carolina University.

Dr. Bauer was named one of the ten ECU Women of Distinction in 2007, and that same year received the Parnassus Award for Significant Editorial Achievement from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. Her other ECU honors include the Scholar-Teacher Award in 2004, the Five-Year Achievement Award for Excellence in Research and Creativity Activity in 2008, the Centennial Award for Excellence in Leadership in 2012, and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity in 2014. She is also a past President of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

Since its inception, more than 250 notable men and women have been honored by the state of North Carolina. Past recipients include William Friday, Romare Bearden, James Taylor, Gertrude Elion, John Hope Franklin, David Brinkley, Maya Angelou, Billy Graham, and Branford Marsalis.

Recent honorees in Literature include Anthony S. Abbott, Dr. Lenard D. Moore, and Gary Carden.

Other 2017 winners include Philip G. Freelon for Fine Arts; R.K.M. Jayanty for Science; The Honorable Loretta E. Lynch for Public Service; Jane Smith Patterson for Public Service; and James H. Woodward for Public Service.

For more information about the NC Awards, click here.

November 1 Kicks Off NaNoWriMo

By Michele T. Berger

You’ve heard the buzz.

It’s almost here.

This is the time of year that many intrepid writers talk about gearing up for the most intense, disciplined, and fun writing marathon of the year.

Writers all around the world are are preparing outlines, character sketches, and plot arcs.

But they aren’t writing yet.

They are talking to partners, spouses, and significant others asking for their support and encouragement (and possibly a break from some household tasks) during November.

“For what?” the concerned partner asks.

They grin and say, “NaNoWriMo.”

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Amateur and professional writers sign up to write 50,000 words, a short novel, during the month. That is roughly 1,667 words a day.

It’s an insane idea, but one that since 1999 has enticed aspiring writers, lawyers, fashion designers, clerks, nurses, and graduate students to put their fingers, friends, and nerves to the test to produce a first draft of a novel. The only rule is that the writer must begin writing their potential novel on Nov. 1 with new material. A writer can outline as much as they wish beforehand, but they must do the actual writing during Nov. 1-30. No old projects welcome. NaNoWriMo is for fresh, wild, and fast writing.

Origins of NaNoWriMo
Close to eighteen years ago, in San Francisco, a group of twenty-one writers came together to challenge one another to do “binge writing” to see if they could produce a draft of a novel in a month. They could and had a lot of fun (and imbibed a lot of caffeine) in the process.

Thus a creative movement was born and a nonprofit created. The event has become a worldwide phenomenon.

In 2016, 928 volunteer Municipal Liaisons supported 445,179 participants on six continents.

Every year, they partner with hundreds of volunteers with their local libraries, bookstores, and community centers.

Of particular note is the organization’s commitment to fostering young writers. They sponsor the Young Writer’s Program (for writers seventeen and under) that runs alongside NaNoWriMo where they reach tens of thousands of students and educators and also provide free classroom writing resources to kids around the world.

How do you win at NaNoWriMo?
On Nov. 30, participants upload their draft to the nonprofit (of the same name as the event), the staff validates the word count, and participants who reach 50,000 words “win” an official certificate, and of course, bragging rights. NaNoWriMo runs on an honor system. To participate is free though NaNoWriMo has attracted a number of sponsors include CreateSpace, Evernote, and Scrivener and some writer support services that also offer additional goodies for winners.

Why participate in NaNoWriMo?
What’s a great way to get past the inner critic that tends to block so many aspiring writers? To write quickly. NaNoWriMo is definitely not about perfection. It’s about daring and engaging deeply. It is about pushing past limits, fears and the dreaded, “I can’t find time to write.”

I believe that NaNoWriMo creates more possibility and wonder about the written form over a thirty-day period than at any other time during the year.

I took the NaNoWriMo challenge, loved it, and won. I wrote my daily word count, and on days that didn’t work, I wrote more on the weekends. One day, I wrote 8,000 words! That’s the kind of momentum that’s possible with NaNoWriMo.

An unexpected, but lovely outcome of participating in NaNoWriMo (and using their website): I made local and far-flung writer friends. Want to know the best way to poison someone? Wonder what a 17th-century dagger looks like or how to get a scene to work? NaNoWriMo’s extensive website houses dozens of forums that encourage writers to share knowledge with one another. Writers can also connect face to face through “home regions” with local moderators that help coordinate writing events. The Triangle has a particularly active region.

There are many success stories of writers who carefully revised their NaNoWriMo drafts and have made sales of novels (including the bestselling Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and The Darwin Elevator by Jason Hough), short-story collections, and other kinds of publications.

But publishing is not the overall point of NaNoWriMo. It is about getting started. It’s about getting some words—any words down that then can turn into good words later.

NaNoWriMo taps into writers’ deepest desires for expression, intensity, and community.


Michele will host a NaNoWriMo launch party on Saturday night at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Fall Conference, following the Open Mic readings. Anyone planning to take part in NaNoWriMo, or anyone even mildly curious, is invited to meet for a casual, informal gathering, with some light refreshment.

MICHELE T. BERGER is a professor, writer, creativity expert, and pug-lover. Her main love is writing speculative fiction, though she also is known to write poetry and creative nonfiction, too. Her fiction has appeared in UnCommon Origins: A Collection of Gods, Monsters, Nature and Science by Fighting Monkey Press; You Don’t Say: Stories in the Second Person by Ink Monkey Press; Flying South: A Literary Journal; 100wordstory; Thing Magazine; and The Red Clay Review. Her nonfiction writing and poetry have appeared in The Chapel Hill News, Glint Literary Journal, Oracle: Fine Arts Review, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, The Feminist Wire, Ms. Magazine, Carolina Woman Magazine, Western North Carolina Woman, A Letter to My Mom (Crown Press), Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler (Twelfth Planet Press) and various zines. Her sci-fi novella “Reenu-You” was recently published by Book Smugglers Press.

Portals: the Practical Journal

With an enrollment of 23,000; small classes that allow for individualized attention; and affordable tuition, Cape Fear Community College is “a major economic development partner in southeastern North Carolina.” Students either earn two years of credit toward a four-year degree or graduate CFCC with world-class workforce training and employable skills.

This same dedication to ethos and the real-world application of training can be found in Portals, the annual literary journal and arts magazine of CFCC.

Edited and produced by students and faculty in the English Department, Portals offers editorial and production training as part of the English Department’s committment to prepare students as “effective and efficient listeners, speakers, readers, writers, and critical thinkers; the enhancement of student success in other courses, jobs and careers; and the facilitation of students’ connectedness of self and others for the appreciation and understanding of diversity.”

All of the back issues are archived as PDFs for free on their website. There, you can lose yourself in stories and poetry—as well as art work—by countless emerging writers and artists.

Portals accepts previously unpublished work. They accept prose up to 2,500 words or up to two poems, fifty lines max. Given their fairly rigid formatting requirements, definitely make sure to check all the submission guidelines before submitting your work.

Submissions are open through November 30.

There are also annual awards; check back at the website for details.