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New Podcast Gets All Up In Your Ears

Audio is a natural extension for the written word. It seems like short prose and poetry especially thrive on the airwaves.

Now a new podcast, featuring a couple of NC poets, not only celebrates the joys of hearing poetry out loud, but also gets down and dirty between  stanzas to see what is, and what isn’t, working about this poem or that, all while showcasing some of the best and brightest poets working today.

All Up In Your Ears features Warren Wilson faculty member Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Durham resident (and 2014 NCWN Spring Conference faculty member) Jonathan Farmer, and Kaveh Akbar and francine j. harris. Each episode features this quartet “discussing, extolling, deviating from, and disagreeing about recent poems.”

Each month, two cast members select new poems and then the gang digs in together, hoping, in the process, to “learn something about the ways that poems can matter—about what is found there and what, sometimes, for some of (them), is not.” Each episode also features an interview with a poet.

Listeners can subscribe FOR FREE through iTunes or Soundcloud.

The inaugural episode dissected poems by Erika Sanchez and Solmaz Sharif and featured Aziza Barnes.

All Up In Your Ears offers an enticing blend of unfairly smart people offering insanely smart insights into truly amazing poems, but with enough levity and humor to make you feel like you’re just kicking back in someone’s living room, listening to one of the best conversations you’ll hear this month—at least until the next episode drops.

Plus, here at the Network, we applaud any new platform that throws a spotlight on poets. This podcast is very much recommended.

Click here to visit the website and see full cast bios; click here to visit the Facebook page and get involved with the community.

Grants for Non-Profit Publishers

Wisdom House Books © Nicole Stockburger

Wisdom House Books © Nicole Stockburger

Non-profit publishers have more freedom than commercial houses; they can publish books because they deem them worthy in some way, without quite as much concern for the bottomline (although they each watch their bottomline very, very carefully).

One of the challenges, of course, is that just because a book is worthy of publication doesn’t mean it’s going to sell: books can have value despite their ability to turn a profit. As a result, many small presses rely on grants to cover expensive production costs.

Furthermore, a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, awards annual grants that specifically support printed and illustrated books. An organization must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and not a privately funded organization or a college or university. A press must apply at least three months before the anticipated publication date and have a complete publication plan to include with their application.

The program seeks work that appeals to an informed general audience; demonstrates evidence of high standards in editing, design, and production; promises a reasonable shelf life; might not otherwise achieve top quality or even come into being; and “represents a contribution without which we would be the poorer.”

Applications are reviewed by a group of scholars, publishers, and individuals; they collectively identify the projects that receive Furthermore grants. The program is upfront about the fact that almost two-thirds of awarded grants have gone to applicants from New York State, and many projects focus on New York State, New York City, and the Hudson Valley. However, plenty of small presses from other parts of the country have been awarded grants: for a list of grantees since 2009, click here.

The J.M. Kaplan Fund was established in 1945 by businessman and philanthropist Jacob Merrill Kaplan (1891–1987), who was its president until 1977. Today the Fund is managed by an Operating Board that consists of J. M. Kaplan’s seven grandchildren.

In 2013, Joan K. Davidson, president of Furthermore, established the Alice Award to honor her mother, Alice Manheim Kaplan, who loved and collected the illustrated book as a work of art in itself and an essential document of a civilized society. The Alice Award is selected annually from books that have previously been awarded a Furthermore grant. No applications for the Alice Award are requested or accepted. A jury of distinguished leaders in publishing and the arts selects the Alice Award recipient.

For more information about the J.M. Kaplan Fund, click here.

Introducing Zoozil

iPad Screenshot

Book lovers of a certain age may remember the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series, where, at certain points in the narrative, readers were given the option to make decisions that affected the outcome of the story.

We’d come upon a cliffhanger, and the book would offer options to turn to one page or another. Some choices furthered the story; other choices led to the protagonist’s demise, which, because the books were written in second person, always felt kind of personal. This blogger, anyway, still recalls a Punji Pit he tumbled into during one jungle-themed adventure, which brought that particular tale to a quick and inglorious end—all while lounging in the waiting room of his doctor’s office.

While this series might always carry a faint hint of nostalgia—those books were certainly “of an era”—a new publisher is determined to make reader-driven narratives not merely a quirk of one particular set of books, but the industry standard.

Zoozil is all about “choice-driven books.” They want to bring together leaders in “literacy, education, and technology and pair them with children’s book authors to create e-books serving the K-12 market that allow to you to Change The Story™—not just in our books, but in your classroom and home as well.”

Zoozil stories are based in history and offer multimedia add-ons that make for an immersive reading experience. Readers can organize their virtual book shelves into wish lists and books they’ve read. The product has only released version 1.1, so some caveats apply: there will probably be hiccups, but the product is likely to improve dramatically over time.

“Zoozilists” can download stories to any internet-connected device, whether through iTunes or through the Zoozil website (coming soon).

Other features include metrics that allow young readers to track what words they’ve looked up in the dictionary; what choices they made for their characters; and the ability to post notes, discover word pronunciations, and answer optional reading comprehension questions.

Beyond individual readers, Zoozil hopes to help educators improve reading comprehension in their students by making each story’s ending “true to life” and instill students with a sense of autonomy as their choices drive a successful narrative. Because the most effective way to explore Zoozil is to ask “What If?”, Zoozil “promotes an environment where readers can feel a sense of belonging, competence, and respect—something students may not always feel amongst their peers.”

Click here to visit their website and link to their social media feeds.

Carl Sandburg Writer-in-Residence

Writer-in-Residence Accommodations

The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site is located on 264 acres in western North Carolina. Carl Sandburg, of course, was a Pulitzer-Prize winning author and poet who made his home in Flat Rock for nearly twenty-five years.

The park’s vast historical and cultural resources include pastures, ponds, small mountains, hiking trails, and fifty structures, including the Sandburg’s residence and goat barn. (He raised prize-winning goats.) The park is open seven days a week, and offers one of the biggest archival collections in the Southeast.

It also offers a Writer-in-Residence Program.

The program is open to emerging poets in the United States who are at least twenty-one years old and not enrolled in a degree program, either graduate or undergraduate, during the residence, which runs annually in April. The poet receives a total stipend of $1,500 and contributes up to ten hours a week in community outreach (30 total hours). The writer receives a 15 percent discount in the park’s bookstore, as well as lodging, utilities, and two stipends. He or she is responsible for their own transportation and meals. Two pre-scheduled outreach programs include attending the historic site’s annual Student Poetry Contest reception honoring young writers in the region, and attending an open mic community program which serves as an introduction of the poet to the local literary community.

The 2016 Writer-in-Residence is Kimberly Simms. Hailing from Marietta, SC, sixty of her poems have been published in numerous journals and collections including Poem, The South Carolina Review, The Asheville Poetry Review, The Blue Collar Review, and The Millennium Sampler of SC Poetry, among other journals, anthologies and magazines. Simms has a Master’s degree in English from Clemson University with a Creative Writing Thesis, as well as a BA in English from Furman University.

The Writer-in-Residence program seeks to foster professional development opportunities to writers by:

  • facilitating community involvement and outreach efforts for resident writer with broad and diverse audiences based on both community needs and resident’s needs.
  • providing a workspace and accommodation in a listed National Historic Landmark house in the park on inspirational grounds
  • promoting the resident writer and her/his work, especially in the area media, with possible news stories, interviews, and web-page features.
  • To ensure archival documentation of program

Carl Sandburg will be posthumously inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame on Sunday, October 16, at 2:00 pm, at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines. The ceremony is free and open to the public:

For more information about the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site Writer-in-Residence program, and to apply, click here.

I’m Only a Dolphin, Ma’am

“Candy Gram,” says the Land Shark in the classic Saturday Night Live skit.

Now authors can create their own promotional trailers (and knock on myriad types of virtual doors) through Book Candy Grams, a service “designed to help authors and publishers extend the reach of their video marketing to short-form social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram via 15 second spots.”

Book Candy Studios creates flashy book trailers for clients who run the gamut from New York Times bestsellers to first-time authors. According to their projections, 80 percent of internet traffic will be comprised of video by 2019. While they readily acknowledge there is no “magic bullet” that will make a book a marketing success, book trailers have increasingly become status quo for authors hoping to stand out from the crowd.

To view some Book Candy Grams, click here.

Book Candy also offers a promotional “series” package, as well as a discounted package designed specifically for publishers that includes a range of potential add-ons.

For a sample of Book Candy Studios’ trailers, click here.

Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day

Saturday, April 30, is Independent Bookstore Day, an event celebrated by more than 400 bookstores nationwide. Here’s what’s happening in North Carolina:

Supporting the efforts of self-published and small press authors, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines has a full day of readings scheduled, showcasing indy writers as part of their “Authors in the Country” event. Doors open at 10:00 am.

Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill will host special guest John Shelton Reed, who will discuss his new book Barbecue. They’ll have free barbecue samples from the legendary Allen & Sons to share, with music afterward by Jake Xerxes Fussell. Event time is 1:00-3:00 pm.

Asheville’s Malaprop’s Bookstore will keep the party raging all day long, 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. While nothing officially special has been announced, they’ve got it on their events calendar, so it’d be worth dropping by that day if you happen to be out in Western NC.

At McIntyre’s Fine Books in Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, they’ll be kicking off the day at 10:00 am with music from ColeSlaw, followed by a reading by beloved New York Times bestselling author and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Lee Smith.

Page 158 Books in beautiful downtown Wake Forest offers Storytime at 12:00 pm and live music from 1:00-3:00 pm.

Quail Ridge Books in North Hills, Raleigh, will host an all-day party, 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, with “refreshments, exclusive items for sale, give-aways every hour, and activities for kids and adults.” Storytimes for kids happen at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm; free (temporary!) tattoos; and an art wall where patrons can leave their “tag” and create colorful memories.

Durham’s The Regulator Bookstore opens at 10:00 am. Their all-day celebration includes a 10:30 am storytime, hourly giveaways, and at noon, the world’s longest tattoo chain, where customers can get a free temporary tattoo from the text of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—wear it proudly, snap a pic, upload it to Litographs (details at the store), and be part of the complete telling of Alice in Wonderland via tattoo!

In downtown Greensboro, Scuppernong Books offers “Grannies Galore Children’s Storytime” for kids at 11:00 am, and that night at 7:00 pm, contributors to Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction will read.

Eight Piedmont bookstores, including many listed above, are also offering prizes to any patrons who visit all eight participating bookstores in April. Pick up your Indie Booksellers of the Piedmont, N.C. Field Guide at the first local bookstore you visit in April. Each participating store will stamp your “passport.” Visit all eight stores and you’ll be entered into major prize drawings!

We rely on our indy bookstores not only as readers, but as writers and as citizens of our community. Support them Saturday, April 30, and celebrate Independent Bookstore Day!

Introducing Kazabo

Kazabo is looking for a few good authors….

The publishing industry has undergone substantive change over the past decade-plus. Traditional publishers have had to adjust their business models to keep up with the demand for e-books and fight piracy (not to mention Amazon’s price-slashing approach to bookselling). But sometimes, from chaos comes innovation.

Kazabo is a “new” kind of start-up publisher. They ask for no money from their authors; instead, they put every author on the same program. After undergoing a “rigorous” editorial process, authors are published first as e-books. Then, as sales pick up, additional formats and markets are considered on a title-by-title basis. For more information about their emerging writer program, click here.

Other components of the Kazabo program include publishing new authors under the “imprint” of an established author. If, say, Kazabo gets a submission from an author they like, they’ll send that submission to one of their already established authors for editing and marketing help. Established authors with their own Kazabo imprint receive up to a 15 percent kickback on all the titles they help sell for other authors. For more information, click here.

Kazabo is upfront about the fact that the vast majority of new authors who submit will not make the cut. But there is something in it for them, too. If a book is not selected for publication, that author still receives the five reviews that were done of the book. He or she will know that five of their fellow authors read the book, thought about the book and provided detailed, written feedback.

They’re looking for editors too.

For more information, and to submit, visit

Shakespeare 24/7 at NC Museum of History

Starting May 7 and running through May 30, the North Carolina Museum of History will showcase the traveling exhibit First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare. This touring exhibit is on offer from the Folger Shakespeare Library in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

In advance of the exhibit, the museum is offering a wide selection of programs to enrich understanding of William Shakespeare and his work, including the “Shakespeare Marathon: 38 Plays in 5 Days.”

From Saturday, April, 23, at noon, through Thursday, April 28, at 6:00 am, Burning Coal Theatre Company and the NC Museum of History present a round-the-clock reading of all thirty-eight plays by William Shakespeare. Thirty-eight theatrical groups from across North Carolina will perform the stage readings with minimal props and costumes. For a complete schedule and list of theatre companies, click here.

Additional programs include a reading by poet Joseph Mills on Friday, May 6, at 5:00 pm. Mills read from his latest collection, Exit, Pursued by a Bear (Press 53). Inspired by Shakespeare’s stage directions, the poems are witty, comical, and thought-provoking. Mills also will share some backstory on the Bard’s most famous stage directions and will sign books after the program. The exhibit First Folio! opens to First Friday visitors at 7:00 pm.

Programs are free, unless otherwise noted, and presented in collaboration with North Carolina theatre companies, professors at UNC-Chapel Hill, and others.

For a complete list of upcoming programs, click here.

32 NC Bookstores Oppose HB2

The following open letter was signed by thirty-two North Carolina bookstores and three North Carolina publishers.


To The Honorable Governor Pat McCrory and members of the North Carolina General Assembly,

As the owners and managers of independent bookstores, part of our mission is to provide that “third place,” an additional public space other than home or work where folks can gather to discuss issues important to our community. Ray Oldenburg, in his book, The Great Good Place, “argues that ‘third places… are the heart of a community’s social vitality and the grassroots of democracy.’” As independent bookstores providing that third place in communities across our state, we believe it is essential to be non-discriminatory, inclusive and tolerant, to promote freedom of speech and equality, and to guard against censorship and unfair treatment.

Another part of our mission is to be profitable; to allow ourselves and our employees to earn a respectable living. What both of these mission statements share is the need for people to visit our stores and become customers. Authors have already started to cancel appearances at North Carolina bookstores over what the ACLU describes as “the most extreme anti-LGBT measure in the country.” This can and will have a real negative impact on our businesses. It doesn’t make sense, financially or otherwise, to choose discrimination over inclusion. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what lawmakers have done by passing HB2.

Company after company is withdrawing from doing business in NC until this legislation is repealed. Retailers and others are already feeling the economic impact of this legislation and we are sure, because of the momentum behind more businesses, conferences, artists, rock stars, authors, and ordinary citizens choosing places other than North Carolina to spend their vacations, the worst financial impact is yet to come.

Small Business Majority’s polling found 67 percent of North Carolina’s entrepreneurs believe North Carolina should have a law prohibiting employment discrimination against LGBT people. Nationally, two-thirds of small businesses say business owners shouldn’t be able to deny goods or services to LGBT individuals. (More info on this polling is here.)

For North Carolina, the choice between small businesses and discrimination should be clear. We hope our lawmakers make the right decision and repeal HB2.

All Booked Up, Apex
Blue Ridge Books, Waynesville
Bookmarks, Winston-Salem
Books to be Red, Ocracoke
Books Unlimited, Fayetteville
Buxton Village Books, Buxton
C. Clayton Thompson – Booksellers, Boone
City Lights Bookstore, Sylva
Downtown Books, Manteo
Ducks Cottage Coffee & Books, Duck
Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill
Letters Bookshop, Durham
Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe, Asheville
McIntyre’s Fine Books, Pittsboro
Novels & Novelties Bookstore, Hendersonville
Page 158 Books, Wake Forest
Pomegranate Books, Wilmington
Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh
Quarter Moon Bookstore, Topsail Beach
Regulator Bookshop, Durham
Scuppernong Books, Greensboro
Scuttlebutt Nautical Books & Bounty, Beaufort
Spellbound Children’s Bookshop, Asheville
Sunrise Books, High Point
The Book Shelf, Tryon
The Coffeehound Bookshop, Louisburg
The Dollar Book Exchange, Raleigh
The Island Bookstore, Corolla
The Island Bookstore, Duck
The Island Bookstore, Kitty Hawk
The Red Door, Saxapahaw
Uprising Coffee and Books, Eden

Supporting publishers:

Algonquin Books, a division of Workman Publishing, Chapel Hill & NYC
Eno Publishers, Hillsborough
John F. Blair Publisher, Winston-Salem


Thank you to our friends at Quail Ridge Books for passing this along.

2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize Finalists

Barefoot to Avalon: A Brother's StorySeveral North Carolina Writers’ Network members are finalists in the 2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize (formerly known as the SIBA Book Award). The Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize features an expanded list of categories – adding Mystery, Thriller, Literary, and History and Life Stories to the traditional categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Cooking, Children’s, and Young Adult.

Finalists were chosen by southern independent booksellers from the long list ballot. The finalist titles will be sent to juried panels of booksellers, who will then decide on the winners in each category. Winners will be announced on July 4, “Independents Day.”

As follows:

Miss Julia Lays Down the LawMiss Julia Lays Down the Law by Ann B. Ross (Beach Music Mystery Prize)
It’s up to Miss Julia to sort out the murder of a hoity-toity newcomer in the latest addition to the New York Times bestselling series. Miss Julia fans both new and old will be especially keen to get their hands on the sixteenth in the series, Miss Julia Lays Down the Law, guaranteed to be the steel magnolia’s most exciting adventure yet. It’s November and Miss Julia is looking forward to some quiet time before the holidays. That is until snobby Connie Clayborn and her rich husband move to town. At first, Miss Julia and the other ladies are pleased to be invited over for coffee, but the afternoon turns into a slap in the face when their hostess spouts nonstop criticism about Abbotsville. Why, how dare she? Days later, Miss Julia decides to confront Connie woman to woman, but when she arrives, Connie is lying on the kitchen floor lifeless in a pool of blood. Who could have done this? Miss Julia will need to find out fast particularly because her fingerprints are now all over the crime scene.

Above the WaterfallAbove the Waterfall by Ron Rash (The Prince of Tides Literary Prize)
In this poetic and haunting tale set in contemporary Appalachia, New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash illuminates lives shaped by violence and a powerful connection to the land. Les, a long-time sheriff just three-weeks from retirement, contends with the ravages of crystal meth and his own duplicity in his small Appalachian town. Becky, a park ranger with a harrowing past, finds solace amid the lyrical beauty of this patch of North Carolina. Enduring the mistakes and tragedies that have indelibly marked them, they are drawn together by a reverence for the natural world. When an irascible elderly local is accused of poisoning a trout stream, Les and Becky are plunged into deep and dangerous waters, forced to navigate currents of disillusionment and betrayal that will force them to question themselves and test their tentative bond – and threaten to carry them over the edge.

Barefoot to Avalon: A Brother’s Story by David Payne (The Water Is Wide: Histories and Life Stories Prize)
In 2000, while moving his household from Vermont to North Carolina, David Payne watched from his rearview mirror as his younger brother, George A., driving behind him in a two-man convoy of rental trucks, lost control of his vehicle, fishtailed, flipped over in the road, and died instantly. Soon thereafter, David’s life hit a downward spiral. His career came to a standstill, his marriage disintegrated, and his drinking went from a cocktail-hour indulgence to a full-blown addiction. He found himself haunted not only by George A.’s death, but also by his brother’s manic depression, a hereditary illness that overlaid a dark family history whose roots now gripped David. Barefoot to Avalon is Payne’s earnest and unflinching account of George A. and their boyhood footrace that lasted long into their adulthood, defining their relationship and their lives. As universal as it is intimate, this is an exceptional memoir of brotherhood, of sibling rivalries and sibling love, and of the torments a family can hold silent and carry across generations.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty (Poppy’s Pants Jr.: Youngsters Prize)
An exciting new mystery-thriller about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate and must solve a dark and dangerous mystery. This Disney-Hyperion novel became a New York Times Bestseller in the first week of its release, and has been a smash hit ever since. Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s vast and opulent home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She has learned to prowl through the darkened corridors at night, to sneak and hide, using the mansion’s hidden doors and secret passageways. But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows the clues to follow. A terrifying man in a black cloak stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

The Odds of Getting EvenThe Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage (Poppy’s Pants: Young Adult Prize)
Humor and action abound in this second follow-up to the Newberry honor winner and New York Times bestseller, Three Times Lucky. The trial of the century has come to Tupelo Landing, NC. Mo and Dale, aka Desperado Detectives, head to court as star witnesses against Dale’s daddy – confessed kidnapper Macon Johnson. Dale’s nerves are jangled, but Mo, who doesn’t mind getting even with Mr. Macon for hurting her loved ones, looks forward to a slam dunk conviction – if everything goes as expected. Of course nothing goes as expected. Macon Johnson sees to that. In no time flat, Macon’s on the run, Tupelo Landing’s in lock-down, and Dale’s brother’s life hangs in the balance. With Harm Crenshaw, newly appointed intern, Desperado Detectives are on the case. But it means they have to take on a tough client – one they’d never want in a million years.

Short-list finalists were chosen from a long list of 140 titles. The Pat Conroy Book Prize honors author Pat Conroy, one of the South’s most beloved writers.