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The Read on WNC

The Read on WNC

Tipper, a regular contributor, writes about apple sauce, chocolate sauce, and food memories.

If you’re at all interested in the literature, history, and social issues of Western North Carolina, you’ll want to check out—and join—The Read on WNC.

Founded by Rob Neufeld, longtime columnist for The Asheville Citizen-Times and director of the “Together We Read” program, The Read on WNC offers a virtual community for artists, historians, and cultural connoisseurs.

Users can create their own profiles, invite friends to join, and post new content and event information. Regular features include artist interviews, book reviews, and profiles of courageous or interesting local citizens.

With nearly 1,400 members, The Read on WNC offers photos and videos curated by an online community. Visitors can watch Main Street Rag publisher M. Scott Douglass talk about his favorite book he’s published; an interview with Gary Carden, winner of the 2012 NC Award for Literature; a musical performance from the John C. Campbell Folk School; and more.

The online forum offers topics of conversation from folklore to literary events to the Civil War. Groups include “Heritage Keepers,” “Geneologists,” and “Creative Publishing.” And users can post to the site’s blog, offering writers a great opportuity to hone their writing chops and build an audience.

It’s free to join. And like all community venues, the site works best when its members are active.

Click here to learn more!


NCWN Statement in Response to Charlottesville

The North Carolina Writers’ Network, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, can advocate for or against particular issues, legislation, or government action. We cannot advocate or campaign for or against candidates for office, elected officials, or political parties. We have been scrupulous in abiding by this restriction, and our membership includes—and is open to—writers who are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Green Partiers, Independents, and more.

We make an exception for any sort of Nazi Party. To hell with them.

The same goes for the Ku Klux Klan, Vanguard America, or any other so-called “white nationalist” or white supremacist organization. They are not political parties with valid platforms within a representative democracy. They are hate groups.

They stand against everything the Network stands for: inclusion, connection, a broad and open community, free expression, excellence of expression, creativity. They fear the multiplicity of voices we seek to encourage.

They try to intimidate. Writers try to understand. They are cowards who shun the open exchange of ideas, hiding in mobs and violence and the anonymity of the Internet. Writers open themselves to critique and argument with every word we publish. They resort to brute force. We believe in the power of words.

The board & staff of the Network issue to our members this call to action: Keep doing what you’re doing. Write as well as you can. Write to clarify, not to confuse, never to hide. Write with honesty, with sympathy when it is called for, with empathy always. Read as much as you can. Read all sorts of writers. Engage creatively with the state, nation, world, and times we live in. Explore, appreciate, and enjoy the ways in which all stories connect.

The North Carolina Writers’ Network stands with the millions of Americans who mourn the loss of innocent life this past weekend in our neighbor Virginia, and who deplore both the display of hate and those behind it. We proudly stand behind our posted Statement of Belief, “that writing is necessary both for self-expression and a healthy community, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance.” We proudly stand against all bullies who seek to silence any of the many voices that make up our community.

Veterans Writing Workshop Now Accepting Applications

From our friends at The Outer Banks Veterans Writing Project:

The Outer Banks Veterans Writing Project will return to the Outer Banks for its 5th anniversary November 4 and 5, 2017.

The Dare County Arts Council is now accepting applications for the free, two-day writing workshop, which will be held at UNC Coastal Studies Institute in Wanchese.

Beginner and experienced writers will explore the theme of Memoir writing, the art of writing biographical or historical accounts from personal experience, in this year’s workshop.

Lieutenant Commander Jerri Bell, United States Navy Retired, from the Veterans Writing Project in Washington, DC, will lead the two-day workshop for Veterans, Active Duty Servicemembers, and members of military families. Bell is the Managing Editor for O-Dark-Thirty, the literary journal of the Veterans Writing Project. Her fiction has been published in a variety of journals and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize; her nonfiction has been published in journals, newspapers and on blogs. She and former Marine Tracy Crow are the co-authors of It’s My Country Too: Women’s Military Stories from the American Revolution to Afghanistan, forthcoming from University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books in 2017.

“Writing memoir is an exercise in examining one’s life, or some part of it, in an effort to understand the meaning and impact of our actions and choices,” said Outer Banks Veterans Writing Project Instructor Jerri Bell. “For most veterans, the things we did and the choices we made during our time in the armed forces were critical to our personal and professional growth and development. And whether or not we served in combat, we were witnesses to history and have a unique perspective on our country. The unpublished and published memoirs of women veterans that former Marine Tracy Crow and I read when we were writing It’s My Country Too gave me a new appreciation for the importance of documenting stories of our military service, and their significance for future generations.”

Dare County Arts Council encourages all former and current service men and women and members of their families in North Carolina, Virginia, and surrounding areas to submit applications for the writing workshop, which will accommodate up to twenty-five participants.

“The Outer Banks has really been leading the way in Veteran initiatives,” said Army Veteran and Dare County Arts Council Board Member Kelli Harmon. “Congress voted to increase funding to the Military Healing Arts Program in 2016 and North Carolina quickly followed with $100,000 in annual grants, as studies continue to show strong support of the Arts helping to heal combat related injuries. We will be hosting the Veterans Writing Project for its fifth year this November, so we’re excited that more people are seeing the positive effects that programs such as this are having on our communities. The Arts are helping Veterans find their voice, and we couldn’t be more excited or proud to be leading the pack.”

Modeled after the DC-based Veterans Writing Project, a non-profit foundation that teaches combat Veterans to express their military experiences through literature, the goal of the Outer Banks Veterans Writing Project is to teach enrolled applicants the art of writing.

The Outer Banks Veterans Writing Project is part of the Veteran-friendly events sponsored by the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau during November’s Outer Banks Veterans Week, which hosts numerous Veteran celebrations from Corolla to Hatteras and everywhere in between.

For more information or to submit an online application for the Veterans Writing Project, visit or call 252- 473-5558.

Dare County Arts Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization dedicated to supporting the arts in Dare County.

Southern Cultures Refuses Boundaries and Borders

“You won’t find us…penning a single definition of the ‘South,'” claims Southern Cultures. “From Faulkner in Bulgaria to Lebanese in Mississippi, and from teaching Gone with the Wind in Vietnam to the international avant-garde at Black Mountain, we recognize that no border can contain our complex region.”

This vision of the South as something larger than a geographic region, both overflowing its boundaries and continually making room for new voices, permeates every aspect of Southern Cultures‘ production, from its mix of print and multimedia to the fact that it makes space both for academic and creative work. This fundamental belief in the South as both a changing and accomodating phenomenon has given this journal an international readership and kept it thriving for more than twenty years.

Launched in 1993, Southern Cultures is produced from the Center for the Study of the American South and published by UNC Press. The journal counts readers in over ninety countries and continues to turn its sharp eye on both generous and nefarious aspects of the Southern existence.

Southern Cultures freely admits that, in many ways, they are a traditional academic quarterly:

We are peer-reviewed, we publish original scholarship, and we use citations (even here in this very description). But we are not your typical journal—we eschew jargon and insider speak, and in addition to scholarly articles, we print photo essays, original artwork, poetry, fiction, interviews, and narrative journalism.

The journal is published as a print edition but makes some content available for free online, and even offers some online-only content.

The most-recent issue (Summer, 2017) featured essays on the Cyclorama in Atlanta; Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah; and poetic ruminations by Michael Chitwood and Michael McFee. Past issues include poetry by Ross White; an essay on New Orleans parades; and a feature on author Dorothy Allison.

Submissions are open all year ’round on “all things Southern—from essays and articles to poetry, memoir, photo essays, features, and interviews and oral histories” (so, no ficton, scripts, etc.). Full-length essays and articles generally run 15–20 double-spaced manuscript pages (3,750–5,000 words). Shorter features typically run 8–14 pages (2,000–3,500 words).

The Spring 2018 theme is “Coastal Foodways.” Work should be submitted via Submittable; for full details, click here.

Southern Cultures has also developed “Loose Leaf,” a section of their website devoted to multimedia offerings that expand the content of their print issues. Here, visitors can watch a reading by poet Dr. Lenard D. Moore; an interview with Bulgarian Ambassador (and Tennessee Williams scholar) Elena Poptodorova; and Paul Williams on the demise of circus performer Charles Siegert, a tiger named Big Ben, and the coolest cemetery in Washington, DC.

Subscribers receive four issues a year for $40 (or eight issues for two years for $75): subscribe here.

Visit Southern Cultures on the web at; on Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, or Instagram.

Crook’s Corner Longlist Announced

From the Crook’s Corner Book Prize press release:

Algonquin Books, 2017

CHAPEL HILL—The Crook’s Corner Book Prize Foundation announces its annual Longlist for best debut novels set in the American South. The $5,000 prize will be presented in January, 2018.

Modeled on the prestigious literary prizes given by famous Parisian café s such as the Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots, the award is co-sponsored by the iconic Southern restaurant, Crook’s Corner Bar & Café in Chapel Hill. In a tip of the hat to the Gallic source of inspiration, the winner is entitled, along with the cash award, to a free glass of wine every day for a year at Crook’s.

“That’s an idea we stole from the Flore in Paris,” says Anna Hayes, president of the Crook’s Corner Book Prize Foundation.

The goal of the prize is to encourage emerging fiction writers, who typically face some of the toughest obstacles in today’s publishing environment. Although eligible books must be set in the South, authors may live anywhere, and all genres of fiction except for Young Adult are eligible.

“We are always interested in fresh perspectives on the South,” says Hayes, “whether from a historical or modern point of view.”

The Shortlist will be announced in September. This year’s judge is author Elizabeth Cox, whose latest novel, A Question of Mercy, was published in 2016.

The longlist can be viewed here.

Previous winners include Wiley Cash, who will be the Keynote speaker at the 2017 NCWN Fall Conference, November 3-5 at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Becah. Cash won the first Crook’s Corner Book Prize for his debut novel A Land More Kind than Home in 2014.

North Carolina Freshmen Common Reads

By Lynsey Noe

Because we live in the “Writingest State” and love literature, we wanted to share what some of North Carolina’s many colleges and universities have chosen for their first-year summer readers.

The assignment of a common read is meant to create a shared experience among new students, something for freshmen to discuss in first-year seminar classes. Often, the author will be invited to give a lecture on campus, giving students the chance to read the book closely and ask thoughtful questions.

I remember when Wiley Cash visited Barton College in 2014, when our assigned novel was A Land More Kind than Home. It was exciting to hear the author speak about a book I spent so many weeks reading and writing about. [Wiley will give the Keynote Address at the NCWN 2017 Fall Conference, Friday, November 3, in Wrightsville Beach – ed.]

We hope this year’s incoming freshmen get the same experience out of these common reads…

Appalachian State: One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Nine characters are trapped inside a passport and visa office when an earthquake tears through the city. As they are facing this life or death situation, the characters begin to share tales from their lives to the group. Each character comes from a different background and are facing various personal struggles, yet their stories bring them together.

Barton College: The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
This memoir follows the journey of two boys named Wes Moore as they grow up and become two very different people. Each boy had a similar upbringing and lived only blocks apart.

Davidson College: Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum
Nussbaum takes readers through the lives of a group of teenagers living in an institution for disabled juveniles. These typical teenagers show what it really means to live with a disability.

Duke University: The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood by Richard Blanco
Blanco was the first Latino and openly gay inaugural poet. This is a memoir of his growing up and finding his own identity. He is the child of Cuban immigrants.

East Carolina University: Evicted by Matthew Desmond
Desmond follows eight families living in poverty in Milwaukee and their daily struggles to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. The novel gives a vivid picture of life below the poverty line in America today.

Meredith College: A casebook on social media, rather than a book
The college has posted seven articles on their website to guide freshman in the discussion. Social media has drastically changed the college experience and the lives of young adults. These articles will help students to understand how social media affects their daily experience.

North Carolina State University: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates’ piece is a letter to his son about race in America. He attempts to answer questions about how to live through racial tension as a young black man and how to be an American in a black body.

UNC-Chapel Hill: How Does It Feel To Be A Problem? by Moustafa Bayoumi
In his memoir, Bayoumi takes readers through the lives of seven Arab-Americans living in Brooklyn. He depicts the often unknown hardships of their daily lives and their perseverance to make it in America.

UNC-Greensboro: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter—Annawadi’s “most-everything girl”—will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.”

UNC-Wilmington: Little Bee by Chris Cleave
We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn’t. And it’s what happens afterward that is most important. Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.

Western Carolina University: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The cells of Henrietta Lacks were stolen from her, without her consent, in 1951. Scientists went on to develop vaccines, perform experiments in gene mapping and cloning, and much more with these cells. Skloot tells the story of some of the HeLa cells that have been dispersed throughout the world.

Legit Southerners Only: The Mule

“No good Southern fiction is complete without a dead mule,” says Val MacEwan, editor and publisher of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

The distinctive name of this online literary magazine, founded in 1996, orginiated in a paper about “Equine Signifiers in Southern Literature” by Dr. Jerry Leath Mills, and it’s a fitting moniker for a publication that hopes to celebrate the “quirks, follies, and faults” not only of the easter North Carolina region where it was founded but the individuality of Southerness at large. For The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, the South “contains all sides of all arguments.”

Recent publications include fiction by Anne Anthony, Ted Harrison, and John Patrick Sheridan; poetry by North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Kathryn Stripling Byer, Charles Hassell, and May Jordan; and memoir/essays (which seem at first blush to be the majority of material published by The Mule, and a writer’s best chance to appear in its pages) by Meredith Baker, Billy Malanga, and Wendy Reed.

Those interested in submitting to The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature should first hammer out their “Southern Legitimacy Statement, as “each section of The Mule (fiction, poetry, essay) begins with a page containing the contributor’s names and their Southern Legitimacy Statement.”

For nonfiction, submit 500-2,500 words; for fiction, up to 2,000 (but flash fiction makes them “truly smile”); for poetry, they are “so far behind in reading/publishing poetry, we honestly don’t recommend you submit.” So, there’s that.

The current open reading period ends September 1.

To read fresh new content, click here. To explore the archives, which are slowly being restored, click here.

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Write an Essay, Win a Bookstore

By Lynsey Noe

Ever dreamed of owning a bookstore? Well, now might be your chance!

Kevin and Kasey Coolidge, owners of From My Shelf Books & Gifts in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, are hosting a contest for one lucky person to become the new owner of the bookstore:

Rather than liquidate the stock, the couple decided that Wellsboro still needs a bookstore, and asked themselves why someone else should have to start from scratch.

“My husband and I grew up here,” said Kasey. “We believe Wellsboro deserves a bookstore. Kevin and I thought it would be nice to be able to pay it forward and give someone else the opportunity, especially since starting a business is hard.”

To enter the contest, contestants pay a $75 entry fee and write a 250-word essay on why a bookstore is important to a community.

Entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2018.

The Coolidge’s need to receive 4,000 entries in order to cover expenses when the store is passed on. If they do not receive that many, all entry fees will be returned or the contest will be extended to a later date.

More information can be found at the From My Shelf blog.

No Through Trail: Cold Mountain Review

In the late eighth or early ninth century, Chinese poet Han-shan penned twenty-seven poems centered on Cold Mountain. As a philsopher, he is claimed by Buddhists and Taoists alike, although he poked a wry finger in the ribs of both.

As a poet, he was adopted by the Beats: Gary Snyder translated the Cold Mountain poems, and Jack Kerouac dedicated The Dharma Bums to the man who claimed to be “full of illusions,” roaming the mountainside to “Gaze and gaze, but can’t see the sky.”

It is in this spirit of seeking, and of “cosmopolitan bioregionalism,” that Cold Mountain Review was founded in 1972 by R.T. Smith (current editor of Shenandoah), Charles Frazier (author of the novel Cold Mountain, among other bestsellers), Donald Secreast, and Jo Anne Eskridge:

Multi-genre and multi-perspective; local, regional, and international; featuring the established, the neglected, and the emerging: Cold Mountain Review aims to recapture strands of its founding vision as well as to offer new and innovating ideas about place, sustainability, writing, and art.

The most-recent issue includes poems by the finalists of the R.T. Smith Prize for Narrative Poetry, as well as poems by Jan Beatty, Bruce Wiegl, and Elizabeth Rees. The issue offers two short stories, artwork, and a series of interviews, including “A Conversation with Rose McLarney” by Kathryn Kirkpatrick.

Cold Mountain Review publishes twice a year. Each Fall issue is themed (this Fall’s theme is “Extinction”), and all submissions are due by October 31. Poets should submit up to five poems; prose writers should aim for something under 6,000 words.

This Fall’s theme is “Extinction.” Note that while CMR is not a “scholarly journal, [they] encourage critically informed work and hybrid genres, e.g., multispecies ethnography or autoecography.”

Poets have been published more than once across recent issues; space seems limited for prose writers.

To submit, click here.

As always, it’s best to check out a sample copy before submitting (just $10!). Or better, yet, subscribe.

Learn more about Cold Mountain Review at, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

As Han-shan wrote, “Men ask the way to Cold Mountain / Cold Mountain: there’s no through trail.”

A. J. Hartley Wins Manly Wade Wellman Award

From our friends at Bull Spec:

The North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation is proud to announce the winner of the 2017 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy, after the result of voter selection from the nominees, in turn the result of voter selection from an eligibility list of over 100 novels. The award was presented on July 15, 2017, at ConGregate 4 / DeepSouthCon 55 at the Radisson Hotel High Point to Charlotte author A. J. Hartley for Steeplejack, published by Tor Teen.

From New York where he was appearing at another event, Hartley sent his appreciation for the award with the following remarks:

“I’m honored to receive an award whose namesake affirms the bond between the region and speculative fiction, particularly at a time when reading seems so crucially important as a pleasurable way to hone our instincts for critical thinking and empathy. I am doubly pleased to be the first person to receive the award as a writer for young people, and with a book which attempts to wrestle with serious social issues. My brand of fantasy is one which scrutinizes reality through a distorting mirror, rather than trying to escape from the reality entirely, so I’m especially delighted to find that Steeplejack has resonated for North Carolina readers. I’m so grateful to the organizers of the award, the voters, the convention circuit which helps forge a sense of community in the spec fiction world and to the other excellent writers, many of them friends, whose work was under consideration. That sense of a thoughtful, connected and thoughtful community is a great testament to where we are and, I hope, to better times ahead.”

The Manly Wade Wellman Award was founded to recognize outstanding achievement in science fiction and fantasy novels written by North Carolina authors. The 2017 award, voted on by the combined membership of North Carolina science fiction and fantasy conventions (illogiCon, ConCarolinas, and ConGregate), covers novels published in 2016. Nominations opened at illogiCon in January ahead of a final voting round after ConCarolinas, with the award presented at ConGregate in July.

The award is named for long-time North Carolina author [and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee] Manly Wade Wellman with the permission of his estate.