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We’re Saving You a Seat at Spring Conference

© Sylvia Freeman

© Sylvia Freeman

Pre-registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference closes Sunday, April 12. If you’ve already registered, thank you!

If you’re planning on joining us but haven’t yet registered, here’s the deal. Registration has moved at an unprecedented clip, and classes have filled up fast. However, there are still spots open in the following sure-to-be excellent workshops:

“Lunch with an Author,” where attendees can skip the lines and dine with an author of their choice, is also filling up. But the following faculty members still have openings:

Of course, all conferencegoers can attend our general sessions in the Curry Auditorium, including the Keynote Address by Jaki Shelton Green, Open Mic readings (which are first-come, first-served for those who want to read), faculty readings, and a brand-new feature for 2015: Slush Pile Live!

Full details are available on the conference webpage.

We don’t recommend waiting to register much longer though. In fact, you might want to go ahead and pre-register right now!

Spring Conference Exhibitors: Part 2

NC Poetry SocietyOn Thursday, we introduced six exhibitors who’ll be joining us for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference, April 18 at UNCG.

Here’s who else will be there:

Since 1932, the North Carolina Poetry Society has existed as an all-volunteer organization especially for poets and friends of poetry. We now have approximately 370 members from North Carolina—and numerous locations beyond. The Poetry Society holds regular meetings three times a year, sponsors several annual contests and workshops, as well as the annual Brockman-Campbell Book Award, recognizing the best book published by a North Carolina poet.

P53 Bar Logo smPress 53 was founded in Winston-Salem in October 2005 by Kevin Morgan Watson and quickly began earning a reputation as a quality publishing house of short fiction and poetry collections. They publish up to five short fiction collections and up to to eight poetry collections each year, including the winners of their annual awards. They also produce Press 53 Classics and Prime Number Magazine, a free online quarterly publication of distinctive poetry and prose.

Raleigh Review is a national non-profit magazine of poetry, short fiction, and art, offering work that is emotionally and intellectually complex without being unnecessarily “difficult.” Raleigh Review believes that great literature inspires empathy by allowing us to see the world through the eyes of our neighbors, whether across the street or across the globe. Their mission is to foster the creation and availability of accessible yet provocative contemporary literature through their biannual magazine as well as through workshops, readings, and other community events.

Second Wind Publishing, LLC, is an independent publishing company located in Winston-Salem. They select well-written, quality books in a variety of genres for publication, including adult, young adult, and children’s books. Their authors include Ann Chandonnet, H.V. Purvis, and Chuck and Heidi Thurston.

Two of Cups Press, based in Greensboro, has a bias for poetry (specifically anthologies and chapbooks). They’re a small operation willing to take on a handful of projects each year, sometimes posting open calls. They want to partner with poets, artists, other small presses. They want to capture magic on paper. They run an annual chapbook contest, where the winner and finalists are considered for publication.

The Creative Writing Department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a two-year residency program with an emphasis on providing students with studio time in which to study the writing of fiction or poetry. As a community of writers, students read and comment on each other’s work under the guidance of resident and visiting faculty, who also meet with students in one-on-one tutorials. The MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is one of the oldest such programs in the country. They are the proud publishers of the Greensboro Review.

If you’ve already registered for Spring Conference, thank you! If not, pre-registration closes Sunday, April 12. You can save 30 percent by registering early.

Spring Conference Exhibitors: Part 1

Jan Parker chats with Crystal Simone-Smith, Managing Editor of Backbone Press

Jan Parker chats with Crystal Simone-Smith, Managing Editor of Backbone Press

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference happens Saturday, April 18, in the MHRA Building at UNCG. Along with a full slate of workshops and readings in several genres, Lunch with an Author, and an open mic for conference participants, Spring Conference also offers an exhibit hall packed with vendors representing some of the finest literary organizations in NC.

Here are six exhibitors who’ll be joining us:

Durham-based Backbone Press is a “small press with a big vision.” The chapbooks they publish are a venue for poets of color and poetry that addresses “political, invocative, social, gritty, and also the personal and poignant.” Their authors include Tyree Daye and Daniel Suarez.

Bull City Press, also based in Durham, publishes a small, hand-stitched quarterly magazine, Inch; poetry chapbooks through the Frost Place Chapbook Fellowship; and the Bull City Poetry Prize series. Their authors include Ellen C. Bush and Michael McFee.

Cynthia Lindeman is a writer’s block coach, writers, and “occasional creative visionary.” She creates “rich, innovative, and holistic coaching programs” that take writers from “zero to unstoppable in ninety days or less.” She’s been seen on ABC, NBC, Fox, and in The Great Smokies Review.

Sands Hetherington publishes his Night Buddies adventures through Dune Buggy Press, an “award-winning, innovative series of chapter books for ages seven and up.” Night Buddies revolves around the nighttime adventures of a young boy named John, who is not ready to go to sleep, and a bright red crocodile named Crosley who turns up under John’s bed.

John F. Blair, Publisher, based in Winston-Salem, publishes “regional nonfiction with an emphasis on history, travel, cookbooks, folklore, and biography.” Their authors include Kwame Dawes and Jeremy B. Jones.

The North Carolina Literary Map highlights the literary heritage of North Carolina 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.

We’ll highlight six more exhibitors on Thursday!

NC Arts Council Needs Your Input

Wilton Barnhardt invites you to take the survey! © Sylvia Freeman

Wilton Barnhardt invites you to take the survey!
© Sylvia Freeman

North Carolina is an “affordable, livable, artist-friendly state,” thanks in no small part to a plan laid out more than forty years ago by the North Carolina Arts Council:

After decades of vigorous work, experimentation, and refinement, our state’s arts infrastructure reaches into all 100 counties through one of the most highly developed and effective networks of local arts councils in our nation.

Now, the NCAC is looking ahead. They’re asking North Carolina artists to complete an online survey to give feedback about the recently released “draft plan for the arts.

It’s a lot to read, so if you’re crushed for time, artists are specifically addressed in the first goal, “Invest in North Carolina’s Arts and Culture.”

To complete the survey, click here.

It’s worthwhile to read the entire draft, though.

For example, did you know the A+ Schools program, which “uses the arts to teach across the entire curriculum,” has now spread to three other states and “regularly receives national attention from enthusiastic business leaders and educators who testify about its proven ability to enhance creativity in our students”?

Or that North Carolina is home to the greatest number of Native Americans “east of the Mississippi”? It’s no secret that cultural diversity is an asset to the arts, which in turn are an asset to the economy, and help make North Carolina a great place to live.

Good thing it’s almost the weekend. Plenty of time to read the draft and reply to the survey!

Poets & Writers Local App

By R.A. King

Writing, at its center, is a solitary practice. As a result, finding fellow writers can be like digging up members of an underground movement. And while the North Carolina Writers’ Network helps build a literary community in this state, online and through our NC Literary Calendar e-blast, what if you’re traveling and want to find a writing event happening wherever you are?

Poets & Writers—the United States’ largest nonprofit organization for creative writers—has you covered. As the modern saying goes, “If you can think of it, there’s an app for it.”

The P&W Local app shows a plethora of local activities and places for the literary community. From readings and author events, to hidden gem bookstores and poetry slams, the P&W Local app has it all. They even have city guides, where prominent authors take you through a tour of their towns, and show the city in a new light. There are currently only seventeen cities featured, but P&W is working on adding more.

Besides finding wonderful sources and literary locations, P&W is most importantly a place to connect with local writers and readers to get the word out on your writing or create a workshop. When you’re writing, you don’t have to be alone, and the P&W Local app can help you make a literary network of local comrades in arms.

You can download the P&W Local app here.

The P&W Local app is graciously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Making the Most of a Writing Conference

Leave Your Introverted Self at Home! © Sylvia Freeman

Leave your introverted self at home!      ©Sylvia Freeman


The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference is right around the corner. So how to make the most of a day spent on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro?

Sandra Beckwith, a “recovering publicist with more than 25 years of award-winning publicity experience,” runs the website Build Book Buzz. She recently listed eight tips for getting the most out of any writing conference:

1. Make sure you’re selecting a conference that’s a good fit for you.
This is step one, of course, but it’s a very important step one. I don’t write fiction, so it doesn’t make sense for me to register for a conference with an agenda dominated by fiction topics, as so many are. I attend fiction-focused conferences as a speaker and work to get the most out of them by attending as many sessions as I can, but I wouldn’t pay to attend a fiction-based conference. Don’t register for a conference that requires long-distance travel and related expenses until the sessions and speakers are posted. You don’t want to arrive, look over the agenda, and think, “There’s nothing here I need to learn.”

2. Plug in to any and all pre-conference networking.
This will help you begin to develop online connections and relationships that you can solidify on-site and in-person. This is important if you’re going to the conference solo instead of with a writer buddy because it will mean there will be friendly faces there waiting to greet you. Knowing who else plans to attend, whether it’s through the conference Facebook group, listserv, or registrant list provided in advance by organizers helps you decide who you might want to network with, also.

3. Create one or two goals about what you want to get from the conference.
I’ve thought a lot about the goals I need in place before I attend the American Society of Journalists and Authors conference in late April. My first goal is to learn as much as I can from the educational sessions, but it won’t stop there. I also want to identify a few people who might be interested in joining a mastermind group I’d like to create. Finally, I want to get in-person time with the ASJA members I already know and love.

4. Don’t even begin to think that this is a pleasure trip.
I’ll be speaking at an author’s conference in Denver in early May. One of my sisters lives there and while I’ll absolutely make sure I have time to see her, I’m not going there so I can hang out with my sister. I’m not even going simply because I’ll be presenting. I also hope that I’ll learn from the other people who will be presenting there. That means that the learning comes first. The socializing and dining at interesting restaurants comes second. And I never do anything touristy unless I come in a day early or stay a day longer. Otherwise, I’ve spent a lot of money on having fun, which sounds like a vacation. If I wanted a vacation, it would be 100 percent vacation and probably wouldn’t happen at a conference center. You’ve worked hard to pay for this conference. Get your money’s worth by putting the conference and what you’ll get from it first.

5. Leave your introverted self at home.
This can be difficult for me. I’m an introvert who has learned to be an extrovert, so while I know how to step forward, introduce myself, and start a conversation, there are times during that lull between lunch and the next session when I’d like to just sink into a comfy chair with a latte and people watch. But then I’d be wasting my registration fee. (See point 4.)

Act on those connections you made! © Sylvia Freeman

Act on those connections you made! © Sylvia Freeman

6. Remember to bring a conference tool kit.
At a minimum, bring one or two notebooks, a couple of your favorite note-taking pens (I like a fine point Sharpie, myself), and business cards. If you plan to blog from the event, be sure to bring your laptop or tablet. I hope to videotape a few short interviews for my YouTube channel at the conferences I’ll be attending, so I’ll make sure I pack the hardware I need for that, too.

7. Review notes and handouts at the end of each day.
As you reviews those notes back in your room after dinner, highlight three key points from each of the sessions you attended, and label them according to importance – “1” being the most important, of course. Then, when you return to your notes to take action when you’re back home, you’ll have a solid starting point.

8. Act on what you’ve learned and connections you’ve made.
It’s not enough to learn or connect. You have to act on all of it. Send “nice to meet you, let’s stay in touch” e-mails to people you met. Connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Implement a few of the tips you picked up immediately. Schedule time to learn more about something that intrigued you at the conference. The worst thing you can do is to return to your computer and do nothing with the knowledge you acquired or the friends you made at the conference.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference is now open.

The Masters Review

by R.A. King

The term “emerging writer” evokes many thoughts into the writing and reading community—excitement, anticipation, untapped potential. But where does an emerging writer get their creativity in print and finally emerge? It’s crossing this threshold that’s the hardest, from unpublished to published.

Have no fear, the Masters Review is geared toward this specific group of writers. Every year, they make a printed anthology of unpublished writers, read and chosen by a New York Times bestselling author. They focus exclusively on new writers for this contest, and on their website, but published authors should not be dissuaded from participating. The best part about this contest, if you win, is the anthology being distributed nationally and mailed to agents, editors, and publishers.

The contest is for short fiction and narrative nonfiction with a maximum of seven thousand words. The guideline and rules for the Masters Review Printed Anthology contest are very flexible. They’re forgiving about submitting the same story to another organization, as long as it’s only printed through one organization. Multiple submissions to the Masters Review are allowed, so if you’re sitting on some unpublished works, you can go in guns blazing. Even non-US residents may submit their work.

The only thing all contestants must do is pay a $20 reading fee to help the Masters Review continue its drive to emerging writers and new authors. The fee is also a small price to pay to win it big. However, they also hold a New Voices monthly contest that’s free. And you can submit to both contests!

The Anthology contest deadline is March 31st. Good luck, everyone!

A Few Remarks from Ed Southern

Ed Southern  © Sylvia Freeman

Ed Southern
© Sylvia Freeman

Ed Southern, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, was given the Ethel N. Fortner Writer and Community Award on Thursday, March 5, at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg. Over the years, this award has been given to ardent supporters of the arts in communities ranging from journalists to activists to publishers.

North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Jaki Shelton Green introduced Ed, who, from his middle class origins growing up in Winston-Salem “across the street from the barbwired pasture of a working farm,” has written three books and guided the Network to 70 percent membership growth in the first five years of his tenure.

Here are Ed’s remarks upon receiving this reward.

“Thank you, Jaki, for that kind introduction. And thank you to President Paul Baldasare, and to everyone here at St. Andrews. I am honored to accept the Fortner Writer and Community Award, and humbled to join such a distinguished list of past winners. I am especially flattered to be honored along with Allan Gurganus, and grateful to get to speak before he does.*

“I would also like to recognize my family—those who are here with me tonight, as well as those who couldn’t be—and thank them for the love and support they’ve given me to this point, and hope it continues.

“And of course, I would like to thank the staff, trustees, and members of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, some of whom braved the bad weather to be here, and most of whom have made my work and my tenure as Executive Director a lot easier than you might think.

“Not that I’m giving this award back.

“I’m going to stop extending my thanks right there, even though—well, because—there are, literally, thousands of others that I really ought to thank: all the writers and readers and lovers of literature, famous and anonymous, now and in the past, who made and maintained the environment in which an organization like the North Carolina Writers’ Network could exist, much less thrive; who turned North Carolina into The Writingest State, to use that felicitous phrase first coined by a previous Fortner Award winner, the late, great Doris Betts.

“The Network has adopted this phrase as a motto, a description, and a mission—to make sure North Carolina stays the Writingest State. We stand fast against any and all challengers to this title, whether those challenges come from the other 49 states, or—as it turns out—from right here at home.

“We stand ready to face these challengers, but—to tell you the truth, just among us friends—I don’t worry too much about them.

St. Andrews University

St. Andrews University

“No, I worry about us—all of us who love the written word—not doing our jobs. I worry about clichés, stilted dialog, lazy thinking, lack of observation, lack of humor, wit, and surprise.

“To be honest, I worry sometimes about our community being too encouraging, too nice—accepting, even celebrating, anything less than excellence.

“As long as we avoid the kind of self-congratulation that leads straight to irrelevancy, the literary community of this state is long since strong enough to see off, to face down, to overcome, to correct, any dismantling that some may seek of the structures that have long supported us.

“We will write and read poems, short stories, novels, memoirs. No budget cut has yet been conceived that can stop the human need to create, to hear, and to read good stories, well told.

“The state of North Carolina has a great story. No one should be able to take this state’s story away from us. And no one should have to remind us that those who best tell the best stories, always win in the end.

“Thank you.”


*North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Allan Gurganus was later honored with the 2015 Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award. In his acceptance speech, Gurganus admitted he had, over the years, perhaps stretched the truth in his writing, but it was “truth that needed stretching.”

What Not to Say to a Bookseller

Scuppernong Books

Scuppernong Books

Most of us probably spend far too much time in bookstores. So here are a few helpful tips from Book Riot for what NOT to say to booksellers as we meander through the shelves.

Among the best?

“Which books should I have on my dating profile to not seem idiotic, politicized, out of shape or creepy?”

“Does this author still look like her author photo? Or is she tricking me into thinking she’s still attractive?”

“I don’t need help. I’m just figuring out where my book will be shelved once I finish it, get an agent, sell it, and get it stocked here, in this location.”

(We’re all probably guilty of #3, at least a little bit!)

For the full list, click here.

The Truth about Finding Time to Write

IMG-20111006-00020Get enough writers together in one room, and the question is bound to come up: “How do you find time to write?”

Michael Nye, managing editor of The Missouri Review, tackles this question on TMR blog.

His post responds to Ann Bauer’s recent essay in Salon, where she called for more transparency among writers in terms of how they actually make their living and how they actually find time to write.

Nye agrees, and takes it a step further:

…when we intentionally misrepresent our writer income, when we buy into this “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” narrative, we end up putting a generation of writers and artists into a spiral of debt and servitude. With transparency, with honesty about who we are and how we work, that is something we should be able to help our students, our readers, and our audience avoid for themselves and understand all the better.

So if the reality is that most writers support themselves with full-time jobs that don’t actually involve writing (or have a working spouse, or a trust fund, etc.), how do we, you know, find time to actually do what matters, that is, write?

Nye goes on to share a fantastic quote from author Fred Venturini, who says:

I have been asked in interviews before how I find the time to write. I always found that question strange, simply because to me, it sounds like you’re asking someone “How do you find the time to play video games? Or hunt? Or scrapbook? Or shop?” We make time for the things we love to do; we have to find time for the stuff we don’t.

Pretty sure we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.