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Nominations Open for 2018 North Carolina Awards

From our friends at the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources:

Dr. Margaret D. Bauer accepts NC Award for Literature

RALEIGH – Nominations are being accepted for the 2018 North Carolina Award, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the state, now through April 15.

Created by the General Assembly in 1961, and administered by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the award recognizes “notable accomplishments by North Carolina citizens” in the fields of literature, science, fine arts, and public service.

Award nominations may be submitted by anyone and must include a completed nomination form, cover letter, three letters of support, and the nominee’s biography or resume. Additional letters of support and examples of the nominee’s work will also be accepted.

Applications may be submitted online or materials can be sent to the North Carolina Awards Committee, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, 4601 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-4600.

The North Carolina Awards Committee will review the nominations and make its selections this summer. The recipients will be honored during ceremonies in Raleigh later this year. Past award recipients have included some of the country’s most distinguished artists, poets, writers, performers, journalists, scientists, and public servants.

Among award recipients are Anthony S. Abbott, Dr. Margaret D. Bauer, North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees John Hope Franklin and Penelope Niven, Dr. Lenard D. Moore, and other noteworthy North Carolinians.

Information on the award and the online nomination process are available here.

To receive forms by mail or by e-mail contact or call (919) 807-7256.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes twenty-seven historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums, and Jennette’s Pier, thirty-nine state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit

The Future’s So Bright: Prospective Press

The second volume in the Draigon Weather series by Paige L. Christie (April, 2018)

The “upstart” publisher Prospective Press was founded in 2015 out of a passion for rich storytelling. They wanted to establish a small, genre press that treated its authors fairly and, because they didn’t aspire to churn out several dozen titles a year, always kept an eye on quality.

Based in the Triad, Prospective Press is an indie publisher that focuses on quality genre fiction and select nonfiction.

If you’ve been to a Network Conference in the past few years, you’ve likely seen Prospective Press in the exhibit hall. Jason T. Graves, the publisher and chief editor, led the online class “Whither Small Press?” for NCWN in January, and he’ll sit on the Slush Pile Live! panel at the upcoming NCWN 2018 Spring Conference.

It was after just such a Slush Pile Live! panel that author Paige L. Christie approached Jason and pitched him what would become her debut novel, Draigon Weather (2017). “Christie’s skillful evocation of a disintegrating landscape and the dysfunctional society grappling with that disaster is worth being patient for,” says Publisher’s Weekly, “as is Cleod’s gritty, desolate perseverance.”

Other authors include Chip Putnam, Meri Elena, Susan Surman, and the chef and T.V. personality Curtis Aikens. Prospective Press also published two “tales of the paranormal” anthologies, with additional anthologies in the pipeline focusing on paranormal, horror, and urban fantasy.

Prospective Press looks for full-length manuscripts between 65 and 100K words (adult fiction); 65 and 85K words (YA); 45-70K (MG); and no more than 40K for elementary-age children. Short fiction submitted to the upcoming anthologies should be between 2 and 15K words.

For more information, and to submit, click here.

Learn more about Prospective Press at their website,, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Books: What a Way to Make a Livin’

This came across the newswire over the weekend, and we thought it was certainly worth sharing….

Dolly Parton, one of the most-honored female country performers of all time, founded Imagination Library in 1995. Last week, the Imagination Library donated its 100 millionth book.

The Library of Congress celebrated by inviting Ms. Parton, a longtime literacy advocate, to host a special guest storytime.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income.

What began as a mission to deliver books to children in her home county in Tennessee has grown into a global mission that has garnered The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, the Best Practices Award from the Library of Congress Literacy Awards, and recognition in Reading Psychology.

“We never thought it would be this big,” she recently told NPR. “I just wanted to do something great for my dad and for my home county and, at the most, maybe a couple of counties over. But then it just took wings of its own, and I guess it was meant to be.”

According to the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance, books create warm emotional bonds between adults and kids when they read books together; help kids develop basic language skills and profoundly expand their vocabularies; develop critical thinking skills; develop and nourish kids’ imaginations, expanding their worlds; and much more. In short, books are very important for a child’s growth and development.

Born the fourth of a dozen children, Ms. Parton grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. She is one of only a handful of individuals to receive nominations from the four major American entertainment awards: EMMY, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. It’s rare to come across an individual whose achievements are too numerous to list, but such is the case with Dolly Parton.

While we’re usually loathe to use Wikipedia as an official source, if you want to learn more about Dolly Parton, you may just want to wander over to her Wikipedia page and poke around for a few hours.

Interested in starting your own Imagination Library program? Reach out to one of Imagination Library’s regional directors here.

Books are chosen by a Blue Ribbon Selection Committee of early childhood literacy experts. All books chosen are published by Random House, so, if you’re a Random House author, your book is already under review! If not, Imagination Library does not, unfortunately, take unsolicited submissions.

Still reading? Then you’ve earned the perk of watching the official video of Dolly Parton’s hit song, “9 to 5”. Click here. (Is it us, or is this video somehow more timely than ever?)

The 5 Ss that Will Help Get You Published

by Katey Schultz

Katey Schultz

Flash fiction and flash nonfiction stories are often called “Stories of the Moment” or “Postcard Stories.” Think small, but fun, significant, and engaging.

The challenge with flash form writing is how to write a compelling story that feels complete when you only have about 750 words to get the job done. One thing I like to use when I’m trying to figure out how to do that is what I call “The Five Ss.”

You can watch the video instructions here.

The first S is Setting. Pretty simple—your story needs to happen somewhere. It can be as simple as a sidewalk or a bedroom or a park, but events have to take place somewhere.

The second S is a Situation. Something needs to happen to your character (or you, in the case of memoir). Usually, the way that manifests is that there’s some sort of desire that gets thwarted. Whatever situation you come up with or are remembering, make it short, sweet, and try and get it into the first or second paragraph.

The third S is Sensory Detail. You have three pages to make the world feel absolutely vivid to your reader. The fastest way to do that is to evoke the five senses. Have fun with it, get a little weird and creative with your descriptions, and see how much you can pack in. (And there’s a follow-up lesson to this point, which I teach in my online classes, and it has to do with how writers can determine which details to leave in, which details to leave out, and WHY.)

The fourth S is a Simile. This could also be a metaphor of course, but the point here is that you make a comparison using like or as. This will enliven your sentences and it will also make the world appear more three-dimensional. It will reveal things about you or your character that maybe you didn’t even know until you wrote them down.

The fifth and final S is the Shift. It’s the most challenging, but it also has the highest payoff. Your character needs to shift or change by the end of the flash. Usually, that’s an internal change; it has to do with whatever desire that character has that’s been thwarted or that’s been rewarded. You want to make sure that you’ve got that shift in there to bring your story to some sense of a conclusion and allow it to speak to the larger human predicament. This is often also called the “so what factor” or, in some circles, writers say this is how we take the specific and make it universal.

When you’re all done, first—celebrate! That’s the best part; you’ve written a complete flash piece, you’ve got a nice first draft on your hands.

Exhale and then go back to the beginning. Try reading it out loud to yourself. I always recommend that. Once you’ve done that, read it again to yourself. Go ahead and mark in the margins with your favorite pen, too. See if you have The Five Ss, and if you don’t, ask yourself where you can fit them in. Conversely, if you’ve got tons of sensory detail but your setting isn’t very clear, consider the balance of The Five Ss in your story and make adjustments accordingly.

After you’ve gone through that, share it with a friend, teacher, or writing group. Read some great examples in online magazines like SmokeLong Quarterly or Brevity and see what you learn. Take a deep breath. Let time pass. Return again. Work with your story until it feels complete, then send it out for publication!

Katey Schultz’s story collection, Flashes of War, was awarded IndieFab Book of the Year from Foreword Reviews and received a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. She has won more than half a dozen flash fiction contests, been awarded writing fellowships in eight states, and is currently working on a novel. Ten years ago, Katey founded Maximum Impact, a mentoring service that provides transformative online curricula for the creative writing process, helping writers articulate precise language and authentic meaning in their work. Explore her resource guides, ecourses, and writing at

When Books Are a Lifestyle Choice: C&R Press

Books are dead–long live books!

So runs the credo (more or less) of C&R Press. Founded in 2006, this indie publisher is “committed to publishing books from new and emerging poets whose work might otherwise be ignored by commercial publishers.” To those ends, C&R Press publishes fiction, short stories, poetry, essays, memoir, and mixed genre.

Forthcoming titles include the novels Sybal Baker’s While You Were Gone and Steve Mitchell’s Cloud Diary; CREDO: An Anthology Of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing with contributions from Rita Banerjee and Robert Pinsky, among many others; and poetry collections from Kristina Marie Darling and Martin Ott. They also publish chapbooks.

So what does C&R stand for? “Conscious & Responsible.” Which in practice means they want to be “fair to authors and always bring well written and truly diverse literature to as many people as possible as [they] can.”

It also means being part of a the literary community. Their calendar is packed with book events from New York to Tampa to Greensboro. And it means trying to partner with eco-friendly printers to minimize the environmental impact of the books they publish and advocating for literacy.

C&R Press is currently open for submissions in all the above genres, through June. They encourage “female, minority, LGBT, immigrant, progressive, and submerged voices to submit.”

Fair warning: it’s $25 to submit. But according to the website, “The funds created by the reading period go toward one goal: the creation of author-friendly contract models and opportunities to market and promote essential literature.”

Learn more at or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Nancy Simpson (1938-2018)

Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, Atlanta, 1978

Front Row: Steven Harvey, Blanche Farley, Diane Teague, Nancy Simpson
Back Row: Bettie Sellers, Janice Moore
Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, Atlanta, 1978

Poet Nancy Simpson passed away last week, 79 years young. She was a longtime friend of the Network and the “driving force” behind NCWN-West.

Nancy’s poetry collections include Living Above the Frost Line: New and Selected Poems (Carolina Wren Press, 2010); as well as Across Water and Night Student (State Street Press). Her poems were published in Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, and other literary magazines and anthologies, including the textbook Southern Appalachian Poetry (McFarland & Co.). Most recently, Southern Poetry Review, edited by James Smith, published “Our Great Depression,” and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. VII: NORTH CAROLINA, edited by William Wright, reprinted “Leaving in the Dead of Winter.”

What follows are tributes to Nancy by those who knew her as a writer, and a friend.

“Nancy’s poems have an introspective intelligence about them, and a heart. She’s an astute observer of the world—nature, human relationships, and social injustice. Her mastery of description and metaphor are evident in lines like this from the poem, ‘Carolina Bluebirds’ (in her book, Living Above the Frost Line): ‘They wing southward without a glance / like the loved one I tried to keep, / who at winter’s approach flew forth / searching for the great haven.’ In her poetry, Nancy stops short of telling the reader everything, and this allows us to take the poem’s story into our own lives, where we can feel and hear and touch what she’s describing.”
Karen Paul Holmes, author of No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin Books, 2018)

“The year was 1978. A group of mountain poets journeyed to our first writers’ conference at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta. Top-ranking poets were on the scene to conduct workshops, judge poems, and award the Callanwolde prize in poetry. That year, Nancy’s first to attend, she won first prize. In 1980, her poem ‘Night Student’ also placed First, judged by famed poets Richard Hugo and Philip Levine.

“From the beginning, as these honors attest, Nancy’s poems attracted attention at workshops and would soon earn her publication in some of the best literary journals in the nation. Nancy was not the typical English major with an array of poetic voices to imitate. Her voice is her own, fresh and strong. Neither could she be labeled ‘just another southern poet.’ Her chapbook Across Water and her first full-length collection, Night Student, were published by an elite New York press. Whether she was writing about her favorite Cherry Mountain, her adopted son from Vietnam, her students in Hayesville, water on the highway, or a tulip, her poems vibrated with an intensity that held one’s attention.

“Listen to a few of her lines. From a favorite poem written when she commuted to Western Carolina University for her teaching degree:
‘What is it, at two minutes past twelve, / this funnel cloud in me, this song of forsythia, / makes me stop my car at Shooting Creek, / to search in space above trees…?’

“From one of her many Cherry Mountain poems, ‘…leaving Cherry Mountain in the dead of winter / you look up and see a backbone sticking out, / huge curve of the ridgeline / shaped like a great whale beached and dying.’

“Finally, an elegy for one of her students, ‘Walk Face into the Wind’: ‘There is life after death, boy. / Old leaves rise from the ground, see them / rising above low growth and new pine. / Walk face into the wind and see. / A hood will not stay on your head. / My scarf comes loose, glides off / like something alive flying / straight out of this world.'”
Janice Moore, poet and Emeritus Associate Professor of English, Young Harris College

Nancy Simpson wins First Place for "Night Student," 1980

Nancy Simpson wins First Place for “Night Student,” 1980

“Nancy Simpson has been a friend of mine since the days when several of us in the Western North Carolina/North Georgia mountains critiqued and encouraged each other as aspiring writers. Nancy was always passionate and determined and, in typical Nancy fashion, sometimes frustrated. (I’m imagining her saying, ‘Ooh!’ when she can’t find the words she’s trying to express, then laughing it off and continuing.)

“She squeezed in time for her poetry around a full-time teaching job and in seeing to the son who was still at home. Like all of us, she became acquainted with rejection slips, but the quality of her work was soon recognized. When she finished reading her poems at an Evening at Callanwolde event, Gene Ellis, who was in charge, told the audience to ‘Just remember you heard it here first!’ She seemed a sure bet for success.

“Workshops and conferences and her studies in the Warren Wilson MFA Writing program helped her continue to learn and improve, although she had accomplished a good bit on her own before all that.

“As her readers know, Nancy’s work has always been interesting and solidly made. It has also remained clear and accessible. It stays with you. Certain lines, certain images still come to me, at unexpected moments and with no provocation. And the situations seem real. I can see her student who ran proudly in the Special Olympics race. I can see the woods and flowers on her beloved Cherry Mountain. And I can see Nancy herself, as the ‘Night Student,’ dribbling cracker crumbs on the seat as she eats, while driving over Winding Stair Gap.

“She will be deeply missed. We will miss her humor. We will miss her kindness, her love of life. But I think she will stay with us as long as we read and reread her poems. I think we will find her there.”
Blanche Farley, co-editor of Like a Summer Peach: Sunbright Poems and Old Southern Recipes

“One evening in 1995, soon after I moved to Hayesville, I received a phone call from a stranger that changed my life. A few weeks before that call, I had found a brochure for the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and I joined. I thought I might receive newsletters or some information about writing, and I now had time to pursue my passion. I hoped I might learn more about the craft from being a member of a writing organization.

“The stranger who called me that night was Nancy Simpson, program coordinator for NCWN-West. She had seen my name on the membership list and saw that I was right here in her county.

“‘I want to offer you a scholarship to my poetry class at the John C. Campbell Folk School,’ she said.

“Stunned, I didn’t answer right away. She asked if I wrote poetry and talked about what her class was like. In those few seconds I thought, this is a sign. This could be a turning point. I said yes, I would like to take your class, and that decision was the best I ever made.

“In the following years, I attended every class Nancy taught. I met other writers and poets who have become my dear friends. But none meant as much to me as Nancy. I shared every poem I wrote with her and she gave me advice. When a poem was ready, she would say, ‘Send it out.’

“She helped me organize my chapbook and even chose the name, Now Might as Well Be Then, from a line in one of my poems. Her encouragement and enthusiasm for my writing turned me from a shy and insecure writer to who I am today.

“Nancy was a determined person who did not let anything stand in her way of making NCWN-West work for all of us here in the far west mountains of North Carolina. Our program, NCWN-West, came to be as important to me as it was to Nancy. We shared the ups and downs, the triumphs and the sorrows.

“She had sass, one of our members said. She was not afraid to voice her opinions and, if she stepped on some toes, it was okay as long as it meant she and the other writers in our region were not forgotten or short-changed. When she was program coordinator, she worked with NCWN to hold workshops and classes in our rural area that were supported by the Network and funded as well. Before the Internet and cell phones, she used the landline to stay in touch with representatives in all eight counties in our region and the reps in Georgia. At that time, Henderson County was not in our region.

“Nancy was the driving force behind NCWN-West. She and Kathryn Stripling Byer were friends and colleagues and through their friendship, I met and came to admire Kay and her work.

“As all good friends do, we had our disagreements, but I respected Nancy and always considered her my friend even when we were on the outs. We worked closely when we published Echoes across the Blue Ridge. She lost her son to cancer in 2008, and I lost my husband to cancer in 2009. The book came out in 2010. Nancy said editing that manuscript saved her life because it gave her important work to do while she was grieving her son.

“No one will ever be able to take her place in the hearts and minds of those who knew her and appreciated her generosity, her giving spirit that touched all of us. And as many have said, her poetry will live on and she will not be forgotten.”
Glenda Council Beall, NCWN-West Program Coordinator

How Did You Hear about the Network?

When you next renew your NCWN membership—or whenever you freeloaders who enjoy all this free content eventually cough up a membership fee (ha!)—you’ll notice a new addition to the registration form.

We’ve now included the question, “How did you hear about us?”

First thing’s first: even though this question will appear on your renewal form, it will be recorded as anonymous, so we won’t be able to match responses with our members.

What we will be able to do, however, is see where folks are first being introduced to the North Carolina Writers’ Network.

Sure, we have some ideas: folks hear about us through a local event with their regional rep; or through conference coverage in the media; or through promotions for one of our online classes. But as the calendar turned to 2018, we got to thinking: how else are people hearing about us?

Because the inverse is just as important: where are people not hearing about us?

Our mission statement says clearly that we’re supposed to serve all writers. That means everyone. And the more data we have about where writers find us, or don’t, the better we can serve the literary community of North Carolina.

Thanks in advance for your support.

In Every Ending, a Beginning: The Regulator

Just a heads up that The Regulator Bookshop in Durham will close briefly for renovations March 4-6.

Tom Campbell and John Valentine have owned The Regulator for forty years, but will celebrate their retirement at the end of the month. (Congratulations!) After which, they’ll hand over the reins to two longtime employees, Elliot Berger and Wander Lorentz de Haas.

A recent e-mail from the bookshop outlined the next steps:

Carpenters, painters, and IT personnel will be hard at work making a variety of improvements. In addition, we will be changing the store around which may disrupt the normal flow of business. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.

The Regulator recently completed an Indiegogo campaign that raised over $50,000. They have since established a Sustainability Fund to “preserve and improve the shop’s place in the community.” To donate, click here.

“Over the years I have spent many an hour in bookstores, not one of them wasted,” says Durham author Robert Wallace. “I love The Regulator. I can’t imagine Durham without it. Its physical existence, its ability to take up space, to be part of this city’s landscape, and just knowing that there are words in books inside a store that I can visit, actually comforts me.”

For more testimonials about The Regulator, click here.

The Regulator is arguably the beating heart of Durham’s Ninth Street, not far from Duke University campus. They hold regular author events; sell both new and used books, as well as e-books for Kobo and audiobooks; and sometimes open their space to community groups. Their website allows customers to check stock, order books, and create wish lists.

Visit or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Self-Sufficient and Therefore Free: Main Street Rag

Charlotte-based Main Street Rag is an independent small press that is independent in the truest sense of the word: not affiliated with a university; not supported by grants or public funds; and wholly reliant on reader support through subscriptions and direct sales and bookstores.

It’s a business model that not only grants them total artistic freedom but clearly works: they’ve been fiercely independent for more than twenty years.

MSR offers three imprints: Main Street Rag (poetry); Mint Hill Books (fiction); and Pure Heart Press (self-publishing).

Main Street Rag selects manuscripts strictly through contests, including the Cathy Smith Bowers Chapbook Contest and the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. They publish between “sixty and ninety poetry collections every year.”

The annual KAKALAK contest is coming up; submissions open March 1. This contest offers cash prizes and publication in an anthology to poems by residents of North and South Carolina. Learn more, and get ready to submit, here.

Mint Hill Books publishes two to four anthologies yearly, as well as a dozen or so other works of prose such as creative nonfiction, memoirs, novellas, novels, and short fiction collections.

Authors include poet and NCWN trustee Alice Osborn; poet Mark Smith-Soto; poet Stephen E. Smith; novelist Susan Woodring; and many more.

Pure Heart Press, the self-publishing imprint, publishes “nearly anything the author or editor is willing to pay for…the author is responsible for the content, the cost of production and all the marketing (although we do offer marketing assistance for an additional fee).”

For full submission guidelines, click here.

Since 1996, Main Street Rag has published a literary magazine, which we highlighted on this blog last year.

A vital part of this state’s literary community, Main Street Rag hosts monthly readings around North Carolina and helps facilitate programming such as the forthcoming Susan Laughter Meyers Poetry Fellowship, which will offer  a North or South Carolina poet a week at Weymouth Center as Writer-in-Residence and a $500 stipend.

Visit Main Street Rag on the web at; order books through their bookstore at; and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Divine Poetry in the Land of the Longleaf Pine

Naming the Scars by Marty Silverthorne

Naming the Scars by Marty Silverthorne

“Here’s to the land of the longleaf pine,” declares North Carolina’s State Toast.

This is, in fact, its opening line. Before the rhododendron, before the scuppernong, comes the seemingly omnipresent longleaf pine.

The non-profit Longleaf Press, housed at Methodist University in Fayetteville, publishes both chapbooks and full-length poetry collections. Founded in 1997, they are open to writers from around the world.

The majority of their authors come to them through annual contests, include Jeanne Julian (Blossom and Loss, 2015); Barbara Presnell (Los Hijos, 2002, and Unravelings, 1997), and Crystal Simone Smith (Running Music, 2014).

Longleaf Press sponsors an annual Poetry Chapbook Contest, which is now open for submissions. The contest is open to residents of North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, and Florida who have not yet published a full-length collection of poetry.

Interested? Send 18-23 pages of poetry along with a $20 entry fee by May 4:

Longtime friend of the Network Marty Silverthorne won the 2017 Poetry Chapbook Contest for Naming the Scars. For more about Marty, and to read a sample poem, click here.

Chapbooks are $10 each (or two for $15). Full-length collections are $14.50. Order here.

Visit them on the web: