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Two NC Publications Offer Innovation and Excellence

The New New SouthThe publishing industry is rapidly changing. But two new North Carolina-based publications are redefining media and setting the pace: The New New South and GERM Magazine. Both take fresh approaches to content and both publish exclusively online.

The New New South ( offers “true stories from below the Mason-Dixon.” Founded by publisher Andrew Park of Chapel Hill, The New New South is a new digital publisher of longform journalism. Using the innovative technology platform developed by the creators of The Atavist, they release one in-depth and immersive work of nonfiction at a time for reading on tablets, smartphones, e-readers, and the web. Check out their forward-thinking approach to publishing by reading an excerpt here.

Along with great prose and fascinating subjects, stories on The New New South include YouTube video, photographs, music clips, and more. That’s what they mean by “immersive”—you can lose yourself for a lunch break or two just following the threads.

Two stories in, their authors have included Belle Boggs and Barry Yeoman. Boggs’ “For the Public Good” tells the story of the 7,600 victims of forced sterilization in North Carolina during the 20th century and their decade-long fight to be compensated by the state; Yeoman’s “The Gutbucket King” is an intimate and colorful multimedia profile of Little Freddie King, one of the last great country bluesmen in New Orleans. It includes never-before-heard interviews and music.

GERM Magazine

GERM Magazine’s story, “You are Beautiful”

GERM Magazine ( came out with their first issue yesterday. Focusing on “High school and beyond: Real thoughts, real writing, real life,” GERM is a magazine for girls—high school and beyond—that celebrates beginnings, futures, and all the amazing and agonizing moments in-between. From facts to fiction, beauty to boys, movies to music, how to’s to where to’s, you start here.

GERM has sections for “Lit” (prose, poetry, songs, etc.) and plenty of other offerings—and they’re looking for writers.

Stories in the first issue include “Take a Stand: How I Stopped Bullying” by Elizabeth Meade and “Germ Mix: Ladies Night In” which offers a playlist of exclusively female songwriters. Of course, there are advice columns galore (Ask a Man, Ask a Ninja) and plenty of selfies on the magazine’s active Facebook page.

While print may always have a place in the publishing world, it’s great to see two North Carolina-based publishers pushing the boundaries of what we think of when we think of good literature, and the way we consume it.

Free Trial at

Five Star Publications, Inc.Are you a published author? Well, that makes you an expert on whatever it is you’ve chosen to write about, be it Civil War battles or Space Invaders.

And maybe you wouldn’t mind booking a few speaking engagements. After all, a public appearance can be a great way to share your knowledge and maybe even sell a few books.

But how will the media find you when they need a quote from your field of expertise? How will a venue, searching for a speaker of your ilk, know how to get in touch with you?

It might be a good idea to consider a membership at is the place where media professionals, meeting planners, and others find experts, authors, and spokespeople. Since 1999, this mutually beneficial service has simplified searches and shaped careers. is the go-to site for media members and planners who:

  • Need a last-minute quote
  • an engaging personality
  • a speaker familiar with a niche subject

And right now, is offering the first month of all membership levels to authors, experts, and speakers for FREE. According to the site, 36,000 potential clients visit That’s a lot of visibility for your book and brand.

The site is also currently spotlighting A&E profiles on their Facebook page and Twitter account for exposure to 6,300+ followers.

Five Star Publications, the parent company for, is a proud member of the National Federation of Press Women, Arizona Book Publishing Association, IBPA, and Arizona Authors Association.

Crowdsource Your Masterpiece

Member Book Sales

Maybe your next book will be crowdsourced….

It’s hard to even consider writing a book without somewhere in the back of your mind wondering, “Hmmmm…is there a market for this type of work?” But now one company is hoping to take the guesswork out of publishing altogether with a revolutionary publishing platform: Pubslush.

What’s Pubslush?

Pubslush is a global, crowdfunding and analytics platform only for books. Our platform allows authors to raise money and gauge the initial audience for new book ideas, and for readers to pledge their financial support to bring books to life. Pubslush is entirely about giving: giving an opportunity to authors, giving a voice to readers, and giving books to children without access to literature.

So you’re probably already thinking, “It’s like Kickstarter for the literati, right?” Well, pretty much.

At Pubslush, readers can discover works-in-progress they’d like to see published and donate to those fundraising campaigns. Authors can submit their manuscripts and try to draw enough attention to fund publication. And everyone can get together in the online community of Pubslush to discuss up and coming books from professional publishers and connect with industry insiders and plain ‘ol book lovers.

Publishers and other literary organizations can also use Pubslush to “earn money, promote their authors, and grow their brand with proprietary crowdfunding solutions.” Publishers can gauge market viability with advanced analytics, raise funds to tangibly measure demand, and mitigate financial risk for new book ideas.

And through the Ambassador Program, students can get involved in the battle against illiteracy and professionals interested in sustainable philanthropy can combat illiteracy and transform the publishing industry to be more democratic and philanthropic.

“The idea for Pubslush is a direct tribute to J.K. Rowling,” says Vice President Amanda Barbara. “We were shocked to learn that twelve publishers rejected her first Harry Potter book. Upon further investigation, we learned many bestselling books were rejected, which means countless bestsellers might never reach the shelves. As with all creative projects, writers can’t share their work without monetary backing.”

To learn more, visit the Pubslush website.

Saturday is “Indies First Day”

Back Friday crowdsThis is a big week for folks who love to shop. Black Friday (which comes earlier and earlier each year!) is followed by Small-Business Saturday. And now book lovers have a reason to stand in line and wrestle other customers for the last copy of that must-have bestseller: Indies First Day.

Indies First Day happens Saturday, November 30. In bookstores across the country, authors will be standing in as booksellers, peddling books of all sorts to the throngs.

According to novelist and poet Sherman Alexie, who spearheads this grassroots campaign:

“We will become booksellers. We will make recommendations. We will practice nepotism and urge readers to buy multiple copies of our friends’ books. Maybe you’ll sign and sell books of your own in the process. I think the collective results could be mind-boggling (maybe even world-changing).”

Plenty of independent bookstores in North Carolina are joining in on the fun…

At City Lights Bookstore in Sylva: Pamela Duncan and Brent Martin.

Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill: Rosecrans Baldwin, Erica Eisdorfer, Alan Shapiro, and Daniel Wallace will be booksellers for a day.

Pomegranate Books in Wilmington: Sheila Boneham and Wiley Cash.

Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh: Kelly Lyons, Sarah Shaber, Diane Chamberlain, Bren Witchger, Betty Adcock, Linda Watson, and Debbie Moose.

And at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham: Sarah Dessen, David Cecelski, Stephanie Greene, Jim Wise, J.J. Johnson, Katy Munger, Dan Ariely, Lora Florand, David Ferrio, and Tim Tyson.

And many more.

You and your house-guests are going to need something to do next weekend. Why not get out there on Saturday, November 30, and support those indy bookstores?

NCSU Launches Virtual Paul’s Cross Project

Paul's Churchyard, looking east

Paul’s Churchyard, looking east

November 5 marked the 391st anniversary of poet John Donne’s Sermon for Paul’s Cross, given on Gunpowder Day, 1622. And if you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Wow, wouldn’t it be sorta neat to travel back in time and hear Donne give that sermon?” well, now you sorta have the chance.

Researchers at North Carolina State University, led by Dr. John Wall, have “an auditory and visual simulation of what it might have been like to stand in front of St Paul’s Cross pulpit in the courtyard of St. Paul’s Cathedral almost 400 years ago, being preached to by poet John Donne.”

At the Virtual St. Paul’s Cross website, visitors can fly around the visual model, listen to the acoustics (and notice how they differ depending on where one stands), and learn more about Donne, who, though now best known for his metaphysical poetry, was also Dean of St. Paul’s and an experienced preacher.

St. Paul’s was lost in the Great Fire of London in 1666, but NCSU used “historic documents and images to create a visual model showing architectural details of the gothic St .Paul’s Cathedral, and a sound model that takes account of the acoustic properties of materials such as stone, glass and brick.”

“We know that large crowds showed up to hear Donne’s sermons, but it was unclear whether they could even hear what was being said,” said Dr. Wall. “By using the models we created for this project, we learned that the courtyard space allowed sound to reverberate, amplifying the voice of the speaker.”

He continued: “This means the sermon had to be delivered at a measured pace to keep the speech from being garbled as the reverberating sounds overlapped. Those are insights we wouldn’t have without this project.”

Dr. John Wall will offer additional performances on the following days/times:

  • Monday November 25, 9:00 am
  • Tuesday November 26, 4:00 pm
  • Wednesday December 4, 9:00 am
  • Wednesday December 11, 9:00 am

To learn more about the Virtual St. Paul’s Cross project, click here.

Sales Tax on Amusements Call To Action


NC Governor Pat McCrory

NC Governor Pat McCrory

As we’ve written about here in the past, the North Carolina state government is considering a series of tax reforms, including assessing sales tax on “amusement activities.” ARTS North Carolina believes such a tax would hurt arts organizations across the state, and is asking individuals and organizations in counties with Legislators who serve on the Revenue Laws Study Committee to contact their reps before noon on November 22.

From ARTS North Carolina:

Identify yourself as a constituent in the opening paragraph. Keep your messages short and personal, and always be respectful.

Core Message:
On behalf of arts and cultural organizations and North Carolina citizens, we respectfully request your support of a delay in the application of the sales tax on amusements currently scheduled to begin January 1, 2014, for the following reasons:

• Organizations have not had time to adequately prepare. The question of which organizations are exempt and which are not under the current law were not clarified until the Revenue Laws Committee meeting in October. Anticipated cost of computer software and administrative support were not budgeted for the current year.
• On January 1, arts organizations, cultural institutions, museums and gardens, are expected to adhere to the law. However, “state entities” and Grassroots Science Museums have been ruled exempt. This has the unintended consequence of creating “winners and losers”, and because Revenue Laws has prepared a bill for introduction in May that eliminates all exemptions, all entities that must pay the tax should be scheduled to begin on the same date projected for October 1, 2014.
• The delay would help avoid confusion for North Carolina citizens. We would expect an outcry of frustration as citizens are charged sales tax at some venues and not at others.

Conclusion: Finish your message with a short message of appreciation for the Legislature’s support of grants funding to the North Carolina Arts Council and their support of arts education policy. Thank them for understanding the complexities and confusion of the tax issue and give them credit for being willing to work for a solution.

Send to:
Governor Pat McCrory –
Legislators in your county (click here for a complete list)

Please forward any Legislative responses to or contact us if a Legislator asks a question and you need assistance.

Fall Conference Generates Media Buzz

With all the recent buzz, you’d have to be living under a rock—or a conch shell—not to have heard about the upcoming North Carolina Writers’ Network 2013 Fall Conference in Wrightsville Beach. It’s happening this weekend, November 15-17, and we’re getting ready to welcome more registrants than we have at any conference since 2007. It’s going to be quite a weekend.

(By the way, there’s still time to be part of the exccitment—on-site registration opens at 5:00 pm Friday!)

So, who’s been saying nice things about us?

And we can’t say enough about all the writing organizations, libraries, and other literary-minded individuals who’ve done so much to spread the word over the course of the past six months. Thank you: we can’t wait to spend the weekend with you talking about writerly things.

And don’t forget: NCWN will host our first-ever Pre-Conference Tailgate on Friday at 12:00 pm at The Bellamy Mansion. The Wilmington-based writing group The Sea Quills, who are also the Network’s regional representatives for the Cape Fear Coast, will lead a series of writing exercises to get our creative juices flowing. Light refreshments will be provided; open to the public.

Is There a Manual for this Whole “Writing” Thing?

Getting Your Book Published for DummiesIn a recent article for the Paris Review, Kaya Genç reviews an art show in Istanbul that features, among other things, a bookshelf “holding more than one hundred books devoted to helping authors finish their manuscripts.”

Titles include 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing; Finding Your Voice: How to Put Personality in Your Writing; First Draft in 30 Days: A Novel Writer’s System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript; and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author.

Genç, who has read only one of the hundred books, finds the collection first amusing, then sad. He pities those poor souls desperate enough to pick up books such as this in hopes it will make them better writers:

Had the Stanford professor Franco Moretti analyzed the titles of their books with his distant reading methods, he would surely point to the curious ways in which they present the craft of writing: they offer exercises and strategies to create time for writing, they believe that a book is something that the writer grows, like a child, and that the literary voice is something one can find in a manual. Plots can be devised through kits and those same kits can help one write a first draft in thirty days; one can liberate her writing, or release or free her inner writer, just like that.

It’s tempting to agree with him. After all, there are no books in the world titled, Neurosurgery in 30 Days. And if all the secrets to writing a bestseller could be gleaned from a book, wouldn’t all of us simply buy said book, follow its instructions, and relax into a writerly life of luxury and fame?

There are other books on the list though, books that hold not promises but suggestions; books that talk about writing a novel not like assembling a bookcase from Ikea but as a craft that can be practiced and honed and eventually, after many years, if not mastered then at least tamed. Books that can (and frankly, have) helped many aspiring writers if not write a bestseller in thirty days, at least begin to develop good habits and treat the writing life as just that—a life that must be lived fully.

To be sure, someone like Allan Gurganus is not picking up any of the books in this collection. But for emerging writers, reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life, Stephen King’s On Writing, or even Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way can be beneficial. Not because any of these books will make us a bestselling author, but because when we’re just starting out writing, it’s important to learn it’s okay to take our writing seriously, to surround ourselves with other people who are serious about books, and to admit to ourselves “Yes, I’m an artist, there are others like me.”

At the beginning, it can sometimes feel like how-to books are the only things telling us our dreams are even possible. And books that demystify the process a little, or offer a glimpse into a world that we want to be a part of—there’s value in books like those. In fact, isn’t this all what books do best?

So, how many of those hundred books have you read?

storySouth Highlights Winners of Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition

As part of our programs and services, the North Carolina Writers’ Network offers four annual writing competitions, including the Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition honoring the work and legacy of the poet and critic Randall Jarrell.

Now you can read the winning poem from the 2013 competition plus three additional finalists in a special section of storySouth. And it’s free:

The Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition is administered by Terry L. Kennedy and the graduate program in creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where Jarrell taught for eighteen years, and is open to any writer who is a legal resident of North Carolina or a member of NCWN. This annual contest awards one poet $200, publication in storySouth, and an invitation to read at UNCG’s Founder’s Day. There is a 40-line maximum for each submission.

Mills, Soniat, and White also read their poems at the 2013 September meeting of the North Carolina Poetry Society. Watch their readings on NCWN’s YouTube channel, here.

Eight-Tracks, Rotary Phones…and Printed Books?

Kobo Glo and Mini

Kobo Glo and Mini

The big five publishing houses are being pretty tight-lipped on the subject, so maybe agents do have a reason to be concerned: according to Publisher’s Weekly, authors can no longer assume that signing a standard publishing contract will guarantee a print format edition of their book.

In the past, a print version was considered standard, but agents are finding that more and more frequently publishers are refusing to commit to publishing a title in paperback, much less hardcover.

Agents said they “feared that if vague language about format begins to crop up on a regular basis, they will need to start advocating for a format they were universally guaranteed in the past.”

The article speculates that such a shift would hurt midlist authors and those below—especially first-time authors and those without consistently strong sales records. Agents fear a new business standard would mean less money for both themselves and their clients and allow publishers to use an e-book only release as a way to “dump” those books they’re less excited about.

Which is bad news not only for authors and their representation, but brick-and-mortar bookstores as well.

Despite their dismay, agents and other insiders who spoke to PW said they were not necessarily surprised by the move, given the current marketplace. There is growing pressure on publishers to release books quickly, and to do so in the formats that will bring in the most revenue. Because so many book deals are made well in advance of the titles’ release dates, publishers have always had to gauge the future relevancy of topics and authors. Now publishers also have to attempt to anticipate the future bricks-and-mortar landscape when signing contracts. As some insiders explained, it’s a very different situation when the question goes from, “How many copies will Barnes & Noble take?” to “Will Barnes & Noble be around?”

To read the full article, click here.