NC Literary Hall of Fame



A Twilight Reel: Stories by Michael Amos Cody

Pisgah Press
$17.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-942016-66-3
May, 2021
Fiction: Literary / Appalachian
Available from your local bookstore or

"A Twilight Reel is a vivid portrait of a community in an age of rapid change. Some citizens are angered, and some more tolerant of the clash of the past with the future in the uncertain present. Michael Amos Cody is one of the most authentic and inspired voices in contemporary Appalachian fiction, addressing such subjects as AIDs, bias, troubling history, marriage, ghosts, dementia, and abiding loyalty and love. In these linked stories he speaks for both the region and the world beyond."
—Robert Morgan, NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee and author of Chasing the North Star

"What wonderful stories these are, rooted in mountains I know so well! Michael Amos Cody blends traditional and modern elements, wry humor, spooky darkness, and his intimate knowledge of the region to bring us a deftly rendered Appalachian story cycle. Each of these stories sings its own song, but when read together they are even stronger, offering a symphonic, nuanced portrayal of our contemporary Southern Highlands. Expertly crafted with memorable characters and sharp-eyed details, this is a real gem."
—Leah Hampton, author of F*ckface

"In A Twilight Reel, Michael Amos Cody has produced a collection of Southern Appalachian tales woven together by geography, time and a blend of truly fascinating characters. For those who wish to understand contemporary Appalachia—with its crazy quilt blend of past, present, and future—I cannot recommend A Twilight Reel highly enough! Savor each of these stories in turn and then marvel at the world they together make."
—Terry Roberts, author of A Short Time to Stay Here and That Bright Land

Each of the twelve stories in A Twilight Reel chronicles a transformation—loss, self-discovery, renewal—among the inhabitants of the fictional town of Runion, NC.

A preacher held at knifepoint in a stranger’s cabin, another who absconds with his church’s funds and the wife of a parishioner; an elderly woman who slowly goes mad as she freezes to death; a renowned fiddler who returns home to die of AIDS; a gravedigger more comfortable with the dead than the living....

Sinful or righteous, imbued with hope or beyond redemption, each of these memorable characters struggles to endure, survive, or triumph over unplanned encounters with the people, forgotten or remembered, admired or scorned, who beset their lives.

These narrative threads are masterfully woven into the tapestry that is A Twilight Reel—a book full of surprises, dark fears, and unexpected humor, that echoes and distills the travails of any people, in any place.

Michael Amos Cody teaches in the Department of Literature and Language at East Tennessee State University. He grew up in Madison County, NC, and lives with his wife Leesa in Jonesborough, TN. He previously wrote about Runion in his 2017 novel Gabriel’s Songbook.

Gone Missing in Harlem by Karla FC Holloway

Triquarterly Press
$18.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-0-810143531
April, 2021
Fiction: Literary/Historical
Available from your local bookstore or

“This works both as a page-turner and a portrait of a vanished era.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Karla Holloway’s sophomore novel defies genre: It’s equal parts transportative historical fiction, unputdownable mystery, and damning examination of anti-Blackness in the US.”
—Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed News

“Displacement is the theme here, ripping the fabric of the Mosby family from the very first. The influenza pandemic takes one of their family members, and there is no real chance for healing with the onset of the Great Depression, an unwanted pregnancy and the casual cruelty of racism (it speaks to the depth of Holloway’s skill that the most bone-chilling scenes are rooted in the most mundane interactions).”
—Sarah Weinman, The New York Times

In her highly anticipated second novel, Karla Holloway evokes the resilience of a family whose journey traces the river of America’s early twentieth century. The Mosby family migrates from the loblolly-scented Carolinas north to the Harlem of their aspirations—with its promise of freedom and opportunities, sunlit boulevards, and elegant societies.

The family arrives as Harlem staggers under the flu pandemic that follows the First World War. DeLilah Mosby and her daughter, Selma, meet difficulties with backbone and resolve to make a home for themselves in the city, and Selma has a baby, Chloe. As the Great Depression creeps across the world at the close of the twenties, however, the farsighted see hard times coming.

The panic of the early thirties is embodied in the kidnapping and murder of the infant son of the nation’s dashing young aviator, Charles Lindbergh. A transfixed public follows the manhunt in the press and on the radio. Then Chloe goes missing—but her disappearance does not draw the same attention. Wry and perceptive Weldon Haynie Thomas, the city’s first “colored” policeman, takes the case.

The urgent investigation tests Thomas’s abilities to draw out the secrets Harlem harbors, untangling the color-coded connections and relationships that keep company with greed, ghosts, and grief. With nuanced characters, lush historical detail, and a lyrical voice, Gone Missing in Harlem affirms the restoring powers of home and family

Karla FC Holloway is James B. Duke Professor Emerita at Duke University. Her first novel, A Death in Harlem, was published in 2019, on her 70th birthday. She now nurtures her career as a novelist and is already at work on the third novel of the "in Harlem" series.

Hats Off! to Eric Roe whose short story "An Accurate Record" appears in The Westchester Review.


One Last Strike Before Dark by Ron Rhody

Outer Banks Publishing Group
$16.99, paperback / $7.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-734168792
March, 2021
Available from your local bookstore or

We all are stories that we tell ourselves.

Most of them are fantasies, but they sustain us.

On occasions though, happenings so terrible beset us that we must abandon our delusions and descend into reality.

Which is Jordan Aimes predicament.

At the top of his game with his career humming and nothing but blue sky in sight, he must make a decision—a life-or-death decision. If he makes the right decision he lives. If he doesn’t, he dies.

In order to make that decision he must let go his fantasies.

So he’s come home to a little town in the bend of a river in Kentucky where he grew up in search of answers he hopes will help him.

The places and events that are caught in his memory, he must relive and examine those. He must summon to mind the people who left their mark on him, tally up the account of who he owes and for what, ache over what he should have done but didn’t, shudder at what he did but should not have done, savor the things he did anyway and is better for.

And let the joy and the hurt of it all wash him free of illusion.

Crucially, he needs to know how well he’s played the hand he’s been dealt. There really might be a god. There might be a reckoning after all.

But the biggest question, the one to which he most desperately needs the answer, is who is Jordan Aimes—the paragon he thinks he is, or that uncertain little boy all alone and still afraid of the dark?

This is the story of what he finds out.

And how.

Ron Rhody (Ronald E.) was a reporter, a sportswriter, and a broadcast journalist before segueing into a career as a corporate public relations executive.

He spent most of his corporate career directing the public relations and advertising programs of two of the country’s largest corporations.

Now he is concentrating on writing and on perfecting his drag free-drifts He and his wife Patsy live in Pinehurst, North Carolina. He is a native Kentuckian. This is his fifth novel. All of them are set there., including this one.

Letters from Red Farm: The Untold Story of the Friendship between Helen Keller and Journalist Joseph Edgar Chamberlin by Elizabeth Emerson

University of Massachusetts Press
$90.00, hardcover / $24.95, paperback / also in e-book
ISBN: 978-1-62534-617-9
September, 2021
Nonfiction: New England History / Disability / Biography
Available from your local bookstore or

"Emerson's delight in her discoveries is clear from the start, as she captures Chamberlin's role in Keller's life and offers a helpful interpretation of its importance. Those interested in journalism will find the stories of Chamberlin's work and his journalistic voice on social issues fascinating."
—Leah Blatt Glasser, author of In a Closet Hidden: The Life and Work of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

"The book immediately draws the reader in, as Emerson's personal connection to Chamberlin makes her a unique guide through the material. Her descriptions, observations, and explication are smart, well-written, and propel the reader forward. It's a captivating, well-told story."
—Patricia J. Fanning, author of Artful Lives: The Francis Watts Lee Family and Their Times

In 1888, young Helen Keller traveled to Boston with her teacher, Annie Sullivan, where they met a man who would change her life: Boston Transcript columnist and editor Joseph Edgar Chamberlin. Throughout her childhood and young adult years, Keller spent weekends and holidays at Red Farm, the bustling environment where avant-garde writers, intellectuals, artists, and social reformers of the day congregated. Keller eventually called Red Farm home for a year when she was sixteen.

Informed by previously unpublished letters and extensive research, Letters from Red Farm explores for the first time Keller's deep and enduring friendship with the man who became her literary mentor and friend for over forty years. Written by Chamberlin's great-great granddaughter, this engaging story imparts new insights into Keller's life and personality, introduces the irresistible Chamberlin to a modern public, and follows Keller's burgeoning interest in social activism, as she took up the causes of disability rights, women's issues, and pacifism.

Elizabeth Emerson is a former grant writer and award-winning artist based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the great-great granddaughter of Joseph Edgar Chamberlin, whose forty-year friendship with Helen Keller is explored in the forthcoming book, Letters from Red Farm. She has contributed material to the PBS film biography, Becoming Helen Keller, and has written guest articles for the American Foundation for the Blind's Helen Keller Archive and the Perkins School Archives.

Hats Off! to Rebecca Copeland who appeared on the podcast, JapanKyo with Tony Vega, to discuss her debut novel, The Kimono Tattoo.


Hats Off! to Lucinda Trew whose poem "Your Heart is a Fist" is featured in MockingHeart Review's summer issue.


Hats Off! to Mathieu Cailler whose Heaven and Other Zip Codes (Open Books, 2020), a contemporary novel that explores love, loss, and the din of domesticity in southern California, has won the 2021 Los Angeles Book Festival Prize in the category of romance.


The Singing Convention by Brenda Kay Ledford

Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, Inc.
$20.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-7351316-6-5
April, 2021
Children's: Picture Book
Available from the publisher

"Ledford's prose and poetry bring us as close as we can get to Southern Appalachia's past. She looks through the keyhole of time and place with grace and beauty. The Singing Convention is no exception."
—Marcia Barnes, Clay County Progress Journalist

"There is excitement all around in the newest book written by Brenda Kay Ledford. As a young girl, I remember the beautiful sounds of music coming from the Singing Convention in the red courthouse, when I attended with my family. I believe Brenda Kay Ledford has written her best ever story, and oh my, what an amazing artist who illustrated this book!"
—Glenda Cheeks, City President United Community Bank, Hayesville

"This wonderful story of family captures the innocence of childhood for me. Brenda Kay Ledford sparks our imagination with her words and pictures, and captures our hearts in the story's embrace. She brings mountain storytelling to the pages of this creative children's tale for all to enjoy."
—Kanute Rarey, Appalachian Storyteller and founder of the group, Hayesville

This is a wonderful true story of a family of eight children set in century. It is a story of how one child feels about being called on most of the work and the lesson he learns. This book also introduces the reader to shape note singing.

Brenda Kay Ledford is a member of North Carolina Writer's Network and listed with "A Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers," and on the North Carolina Literary Trail. Her work has appeared in many journals including Our State, Asheville Poetry Review, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Guideposts Magazine. She has received the Paul Green Multimedia Award from NC Society of Historians a dozen times for her books and blogs.

Sky Full of Stars and Dreaming by Scott Owens

Redhawk Publications
$15.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-952485-22-0
May, 2021
Available from your local bookstore or

Sky Full of Stars and Dreaming is Scott Owens’ newest collection, and with over a dozen books to his credit, Owens, a masterful poet, once again delivers poems that amaze, move, and delight a reader with their musicality, images, and depth. In his poem 'Stack Rock Creek,' he not only creates a lovely ars poetica, but also reveals a larger truth of how to live a life, a way of being in the world that is deeply embodied. In the poem, he writes, 'a purpose, making/things stand/still/if only a moment/to be seen better.' Owens’ poems pause everyday moments and a wide range of life experiences for the reader to see more fully. These poems celebrate survivors and inspire a gratitude for the ability to not only survive but to thrive. His poems sing of a life well-lived and well-observed, and I will return to be in their good company often.”
—Malaika King Albrecht, President, NC Poetry Society

“In Sky Full of Stars and Dreaming, Scott Owens shares a world filled with life and possibility (even during a pandemic). This living world contains natural wonders making ‘a sound as big as day’ and the wonders of human relationships. Owens reminds us that even during our greatest moments of challenge we’re still surrounded by hope, beauty, and so much life.”
—Robert Lee Brewer, Senior Editor, Writers’ Market

“Anyone who has known and read Scott Owens’ prolific output of poetry over the past fifteen years is also aware that he takes his role as an artist and his place as a community activist seriously. This important collection finds him doing no less. While Sky Full of Stars and Dreaming is clearly set in the pandemic year just past, with its references to our 'new normal,' Owens focuses his heart and eye instead on the connections to nature and family and work that provide the gravity to not just hold him in this world, but to carry hope into that endeavor.”
—Tim Peeler, author of The Life and Times of Jaysus Christopher Duende and Darrel Cobb Runkle

Scott Owens holds degrees from Ohio University, UNC-Charlotte, and UNC-Greensboro. He is Professor of Poetry at Lenoir-Rhyne University, former editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review and Southern Poetry Review. He owns and operates Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse and Gallery and coordinates Poetry Hickory. He is the author of 16 collections of poetry and recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Next Generation/Indie Lit Awards, the NC Writers' Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC. He has been featured on The Writer’s Almanac seven times, and his articles about poetry have been featured frequently in Poet’s Market. He is the NCWN Regional Rep for the Central Foothills.

Hats Off! to Suzanne Cottrell whose poem, "Cast Iron Mother," appears in the Proverse Hong Kong's international anthology, Mingled Voices #5. Her recording of the poem is posted online. Four micro poems appear in issue 442 of The Weekly Avocet (May 23, 2021), and her poem "Triple Falls" appears in issue 437 of The Weekly Avocet (April 18, 2021).


Hats Off! to Elizabeth Gordon whose short screenplay "Beside the Still Waters" was selected for the Port City Shorts film showcase, as was John Stickney's short screnplay, "Hungry." The production features six North Carolina writers and will stream through June 12, 2021.


What a Wonderful World This Could Be by Lee Zacharias

Madville Publishing
$19.95, paperback / $9.95, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-948692-50-2
June, 2021
Fiction: Literary
Available from your local bookstore or

“Lee Zacharias brings the 1960s and ‘80s to life with a poet’s precision and a novelist’s sense of drama in this luminous, riveting story. Spare, unflinching, and deeply compassionate, What a Wonderful World This Could Be is both a historical novel about political, artistic, and sexual awakening (and re-awakening), and a powerful mirror for our own time. I was gripped from the first page to the last. Alex’s journey from brilliant, neglected teen to mature artist broke my heart and renewed my faith in humanity in equal measure. This novel is a gift.”
—Abigail DeWitt, author of News of Our Loved Ones

What a Wonderful World This Could Be, Lee Zacharias’s incantatory novel, is a complex, generous, unflinching portrait of Alex—a romantically conflicted, artistically gifted young woman who comes of age during the tumultuous sixties. Reading it is like hearing Dylan or Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen, but for the first time. There isn’t a smidgeon of nostalgia or sentimentality here. In fact, the world it invites us into couldn’t feel more timely or more true. It’s about loss and love and about how we can’t know one without the other.”
—Tommy Hays, author of The Pleasure Was Mine

“’At the center of every art is a question of allegiance,’ Lee Zacharias writes in What a Wonderful World This Could Be, a riveting novel that foregrounds the personal fallout of the political maelstrom that was the American Radical Left in the 1960s and ’70s. Zacharias’s allegiance is to a narrative that refuses compromise in its revelations of the highs and lows of fighting for a just cause in an unjust world, and the price photographer Alex pays for seeing clearly what others around her will not: in life, as in politics, actions have consequences, many of them irreparable.”
—Kat Meads, author of For You, Madam Lenin

What Alex, illegitimate daughter of an alcoholic novelist and an artist, has always wanted is family. At 15, she falls in love with a 27-year-old photographer, whom she will leave when she comes under the spell of Ted Neal, a charismatic activist on his way to Mississippi for 1964's Freedom Summer. That fall Ted organizes a collective that turns to the growing antiwar movement. Ultimately the radical group Weatherman destroys the "family" Alex and Ted have created, and in 1971 Ted disappears while under FBI investigation. When Ted surfaces eleven years later, Alex must put her life back together in order to discover what true family means.

Lee Zacharias is the author of four novels, a collection of essays, and a collection of short stories. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council, has twice won the North Carolina Sir Walter Raleigh Award for a book of fiction, and has received many other prizes, including two silver medals from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Phillip H. McMath Book Award. Her previous novel Across the Great Lake was named a 2019 Notable Michigan Book, and her essays, which have appeared in numerous journals, have been cited and reprinted in The Best American Essays. She co-edited an anthology of short fiction titled Runaway and has taught at Princeton University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she is Emerita Professor of English. A native of the Midwest, she lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Learn more at

Hats Off! to Sylvia Freeman whose two poems, "Virgin and Child with Saint Anne" and a "number to measure tragedy," will appear in the June issue of the online magazine The Lake, out of the UK.


Hats Off! to the contributors to Pedestal Magazine 86. The new issue includes poetry by Martin Settle; David E. Poston's review of Paul Sohar’s In Sun’s Shadow; and Richard Allen Taylor's review of Connie Post’s Prime Meridian. John Amen is the founder and managing editor.


Feannag the Crow by Carroll S. Taylor

Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, Inc.
$20.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-7338640-5-3
March, 2020
Fiction: Children's
Available from the publisher

Little Feannag is not patient! He thinks he's ready to fly alone and see new things, but he may face danger if he disobeys his parents and strays too far from their oak tree.

When Feannag decides to disobey his parents and slip away from home, he drops from a tree branch to the forest floor where he discovers a garden and new friends.

If Feannag the Crow is going to be safe in the forest, he must obey his parents. He must learn to fly high and fast!

When Young Feannag disobeys his parents and ventures from the safety of home, he drops into the farmer's garden where he learns to make friends with different creatures who live there.

Feannag the Crow is a first edition featuring original pastels created by Doreyl Ammons Cain. It is the first book in a future series preparing children for the process of socialization, and its theme is "Meeting New Friends."

Carroll S. Taylor grew up on a dirt road in West Georgia. As a child, she loved wild critters, especially reptiles and amphibians. After graduating from Tift College, in Forsyth, Georgia, she taught for more than forty years, teaching students ranging from kindergarten to university level.

She enjoys feeding crows who visit her backyard every morning. The crows receive treats while she observes the crows and learns about them.

Carroll is also the author of two young adult novels, Chinaberry Summer and Chinaberry Summer: On the Other Side. Both books present themes of anti-bullying, caring for our ecosystem, generational storytelling, and so much more told through the first person perspective of eleven-year-old Sissie Stevenson.

Carroll lives in Hiawassee, Georgia, with her husband and their calico cat Peaches who rules the house.

Readers may find more about Carroll at

Hats Off! to Jan B. Parker whose excerpt of her novel-in-progress, The Orchid Tree, appears in the Summer 2020 edition of Shark Reef Magazine.


Lucky Brilliant by Maureen Sherbondy

Black Rose Writing
$17.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1684335459
September, 2020
Fiction: YA
Available from your local bookstore or

"Maureen Sherbondy’s intriguing coming-of-age tale, Lucky Brilliant, is an entrancing page-turner. After her father’s sudden and mysterious death, Lucky Brilliant begins having dreams that predict the future. Will her knowledge of the future ironically help her learn about the past? Maybe her father wasn’t the person she thought he was. This twisty and entrancing coming of age story is a page-turner." 
—Lisa Williams Kline, author of One Week of You, Write Before Your Eyes, and others

"Lucky Brilliant by Maureen Sherbondy perfectly captures teen anger, confusion, and alienation in a fast-paced story of loss and longing. Lucky is a heroine who must rescue herself. The plot twists as she wrestles with her gift of premonition, convinced that she can rewrite the future. Her shocking discoveries grip the reader from prologue to finish.

"What if all your bad dreams started coming true? Fifteen-year-old Lucky Brilliant feels anything but fortunate. With her father dead and her mother drunk, Lucky struggles to cope. Living in a broken house and troubled by nightmares, she escapes into the only world she can control, her art. As secret after secret unfolds, Lucky finds herself unsure of anything she thought she knew."
—Nancy Young, author of Sensing Things

Lucky Brilliant is a captivating book about family, friendship, first love, and loss. The novel is perfect for young adults who like mystery-driven dramas, a page-turning tale that reveals surprising twists until the final chapter.

Maureen Sherbondy has published ten poetry books and one short-story collection. Her work has appeared in Litro, Stone Canoe, Prelude, The North Carolina Literary Review, Fiction Southeast, The Southeast Review, Oakland Review, and many other journals:

Hats Off! to Norman Weeks who has earned 5-star ratings from Readers' Favorite for three of his books: Autobioscenes & Necrographies; Tropical Ecstasy; and Symphony of Stories. All three books are available in paperback and e-book formats.


Hats Off! to Judy Dearlove whose novel Play On! has been named a finalist for the INDIES Book of the Year award. Play On!, a stand-up-and-cheer tale of epic rivalry and deep friendship, has been lauded as “the funniest book . . . in years” (Frank McNair) and “a brisk and joyful first novel by a wise woman” (Georgann Eubanks). It was also featured in Shelf Unbound’s recommended reading list in the Summer issue (pages 62-63) and was the focus of Dearlove’s interview in Allison Kirkland’s Creatives in Conversation series.


Hats Off! to NCWN Trustee Michele T. Berger and all the contributors to the anthology Witches, Warriors, and Wise Women (Prospective Press, 2020), containing modern and urban fantasy tales packed with women taking on roles like you have never seen before!


The King's Oracle by Sherry Torgent

Blue Ink Press, LLC
14.99, paperback / $6.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1948449069
June, 2020
Fiction: Fantasy
Available from your local bookstore or

"I was immediately swept away by the adventure. Sword fights and supernatural visions kept me turning the pages in this action-packed tale of hope and love."
—Tabitha Caplinger, author of The Chronicle of the Three series

The Great Destruction has left the Kingdom of Ferran devastated and divided.

The people of the eagle—the Alrenians—have sought safety in the trees, while the people of the wolf—the Uluns—struggle to survive on the toxic ground. But as resources grow scarcer, both factions must face their impending ruin.

When Wynter, a lowly Alrenian transporter, becomes entangled in a kidnapping scheme, she lands right in the hands of the enemy—the heir to the Ulun crown, Gideon. Driven by an obscure oracle of a past king, Gideon is desperate to save his people, and Wynter is just the pawn he needs in his quest to find Isidor, the land prophesied to be untouched by the Great Destruction.

As their worlds collide, Gideon and Wynter must decide whether they will continue on the destructive paths of their predecessors or embrace a destiny of unity. What follows is a quest more dangerous than either of them could imagine.

Sherry Torgent is a published author of four YA books. Dandelion on Fire (book 1 of the Greene Island Mystery Series) won the 2016 Benjamin Franklin IBPA gold medal for teen fiction. The second book in the series, The Curse of Viola, was a 2016 Foreward INDIES Book of the Year finalist in teen fiction. Her short story, Echo Trail, was a top ten finalist in the 2018 Apparitionist National Ghost Story Competition. She serves as the publishing manager at Blue Ink Press, LLC and lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband of thirty-six years.

The Inevitable Past by Carrie Jane Knowles

Owl Canyon Press
$19.95, paperback / $3.95, e-book
ISBN: 978-1952085017
May, 2020
Fiction: Literary
Available from your local bookstore or

"This is no ordinary ghost story. The Inevitable Past is profoundly intriguing, a shivery and beautifully written tale that bears the glint of truth."
—Peggy Payne, author of Sister India

"Carrie Knowles’ prose reads like music—full of passion and grace, leaving her audience applauding, yelling brava, and begging for an encore. Part ghost story and all heart, this powerful, painful tale will make its readers feel anger, sadness, helplessness, but, ultimately, hope. And it will challenge us to question the profound impact visions and dreams can have on our lives."
—Padgett Gerler, author of Invisible Girl

"Carrie Knowles’ writing has a dream-like quality, as it carries us on a journey from cradle to grave, and back again.

"The Inevitable Past reminds us that the outcasts and most marginalized among us deserve to be remembered."
—Landis Wade, author of The Christmas Redemption and host of Charlotte Readers' Podcast: Where Authors Give Voice to Their Written Words

What if the life of your grandmother, even a grandmother you never knew, is somehow woven into the fabric of your dreams, your desires, and your destiny? Knowles’ riveting novel, The Inevitable Past, challenges the notion of who we are and what compels us to make life changing decisions as it carries us from the past to the present through two cities, two centuries, and some terrible secrets buried in the past.

It’s a timely look at women’s right to not only vote, but to have a voice.

It’s a story that will haunt you.

Carrie Knowles was the North Carolina Piedmont Laureate for Short Fiction in 2014. Her short stories have won numerous awards, including the Village Advocate Fiction Contest, the Blumenthal Writers and Readers Series, the North Carolina Writers' Network Fiction Syndication, and Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Competition.

She has been a finalist in Glimmer Train competitions six times.

Carrie has published four novels: The Inevitable Past, Lillian's Garden, Ashoan's Rug, and A Garden Wall in Provence, a collection of short stories, Black Tie Optional, and a memoir, The Last Childhood: A Family Story of Alzheimer’s.

She has recently published a writing workbook: A Self-Guided Workbook and Gentle Tour on Learning How to Write Stories from Start-to-Finish.

Hats Off! to Paul Jones, Vice President of the NCWN Board of Trustees, whose poems “Happiness of Fear” and “An Honest Talk with the Shadow" appear in Third Wednesday Magazinefree to download!


Hats Off! to Tyler Pufpaff whose poem "Haircut" has been accepted by Havik: The Las Positas College Journal of Arts and Literature. It will appear in the print Spring 2020 issue, due late June.


Eden by Jamie Lisa Forbes

Pronghorn Press
$19.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-941052-37-2
May, 2020
Fiction: Southern / Literary
Available from your local bookstore or

"This book fascinated me not only with the lives of the intertwined souls of White Rock but also with the emotional depth of these characters."
—Stephen Matlock, Amazon

"Forbes weaves a tale that is both heartbreaking and genuinely moving. I found myself laughing and crying in equal measure"
—Linda, Goodreads

"Forbes really captured not only the time period but the atmosphere of the American South in such a beautiful, fulfilling way."
—BettyBee306, Goodreads

Award-winning author Jamie Lisa Forbes brings us the story of Rowen Hart, raised as the pampered son and only child of a prominent family in the small community of White Rock, North Carolina. It's the 1950s and he's drifting through the days, following the life path his parents have planned for him and preparing to go away to college. When his father's suicide turns his world upside down, he finds himself responsible for his mother in their suddenly reduced circumstances that leave them dependent on his uncle.

Ill-prepared to take over as head of the family, Rowen doesn't know which way to turn. Then a neighbor's ten year old daughter comes to live with them, baffling him with her wild behavior and never ending attempts to win his approval and making his new responsibilities even more overwhelming.

As Rowen tries to find his way, he begins to question everything about his upbringing, his current circumstances and his plans for the future as they turn to dust in his hands.

Jamie Lisa Forbes was raised on a ranch along the Little Laramie River near Laramie, Wyoming. She attended the University of Colorado where she obtained degrees in English and philosophy. After fourteen months living in Israel, she returned to her family's ranch where she lived for another fifteen years.

In 1994, she moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. In 2001, she graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law and began her North Carolina law practice. Her first novel, Unbroken, won the Willa Literary Award for Contemporary Fiction in 2011. Her collection of short stories, The Widow Smalls and Other Stories, won the High Plains Book Awards for a short-story collection in 2015. Her law practice gave her the opportunity to travel many of the back roads of North Carolina and meet the unique and diverse individuals who inspired Eden.

Hats Off! to Caroline Kalfas whose haiku appears in the Haiku Society of America's spring/summer 2020 edition of Frogpond. In addition, her poem "Mother, Daughter" received fourth honorable mention in the Eleanor B. Lapham Memorial Award category in the Pennsylvania Poetry Society's 68th annual contest.


Hats Off! to Jenny Bates whose poems "Moon Air," "Everyone Walks in a Single Line," and "Rock the Bat" are forthcoming in Poetry that Sustains Us. Founded by Dr. Anjail Rashida Ahmad and based in Greensboro, Poetry that Sustains Us hopes to bring encouragement to the community.


In the Sunroom with Raymond Carver by Dannye Romine Powell

Press 53
$14.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-950413-22-5
May, 2020
Available from your local bookstore or

"Dannye Powell’s poems are insightful and smart, and her gift for the perfect metaphor continues to feel effortless and natural. She finds humor in some of the bumps life amply provides, so that even poems dealing with difficult moments and tough issues leave the reader feeling uplifted."
—Susan Ludvigson, author of Wave as If You Can See Me

"As always, Dannye Romine Powell's highly individual way of looking at the world yields poems that delight and surprise, never flinching at painful or complicated subjects but continuously revealing strange and unexpected truths. This book is a treasure."
—Patricia Hooper, author of Wild Persistence

"A new collection of poetry by Dannye Romine Powell remains cause for celebration; and her latest, In the Sunroom with Raymond Carver, underscores her abiding reputation as a poet of breathtaking candor and precision, the consummate craftswoman, who painstakingly parses syllables into words as if sifting for gold. These yearning, often prayerful, poems are laced with shimmer, incandescence—sometimes blinding—moments of recognition and epiphany that inform every chiseled line Powell commits to paper. Above all, her work is intricately exacting. She gets things right: the truth, the light, how we say things, how we don’t say things, the nuanced choreography of imperceptibly monumental moments. Yet, make no mistake: the poet desists sentimentality, as she does so fiercely at every turn in this amazingly beautiful and courageous volume. This is a very important book by a very important poet at the summit of her powers."
—Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina Poet Laureate and author of The 13th Sunday after Pentecost

Dannye Romine Powell has won fellowships in poetry from the NEA, the NC Arts Council, and Yaddo. Her poems have appeared over the years in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Southern Review, Harvard Review Online, Beloit Journal, 32 Poems, and many others. She is the author of five poetry collections and Parting the Curtains: Interviews with Southern Writers. For many years, she was the book editor of the Charlotte Observer.

Hats Off! to Janet Ford, Gary Powell, and David Russell: Janet Ford won the 2020 Elizabeth Simpson Smith Short Story Contest for her short story "Subject to It." Gary Powell took Third Place for "Red on Red," and David Russell received an Honorable Mention for his short story, "Sheri Started It." The final judge was Amy Rogers. This annual contest is sponsored by the Charlotte Writers' Club.


The Lower Canyons by John Manuel

Atmosphere Press
$17.99, paperback / $7.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-0-998111230
May, 2020
Fiction: Adventure / Literary
Available from your local bookstore or

"John Manuel's The Lower Canyons has all the excitement of Deliverance with twice the heart."
—Kyle McCord, Magpies in the Valley of the Oleanders

"Manuel has a gift for describing flora and fauna—from a lifetime of experience in the wilder regions of the country. I could almost hear the approaching rapids, feel the desert heat, the crunch of river rock under my feet. A central message is that everyone has a hidden shame, some past event that is 'the biggest mistake you've ever made in your life.' I highly recommend this gripping novel."
—Anna Jean Mayhew, The Dry Grass of August

In this novel, a river guide, a newly-divorced mother, a Honduran refugee, and a ranch hand each set out to refashion their lives after a serious setback. They all converge on the Rio Grande in the Big Bend of Texas, where the perils of nature combine with conflicts among fellow travelers to present a towering wall of challenges.

John Manuel is a Durham-based writer of fiction and nonfiction. His books include The Natural Traveler Along North Carolina's Coast (Blair), The Canoeist: A Memoir (Red Lodge Press), Hope Valley (Red Lodge Press), and The Lower Canyons (Atmosphere Press). He is a frequent contributor to Wildlife in North Carolina magazine.

Hats Off! to Art Taylor who received two 2020 Anthony Award nominations for his short stories: “Better Days” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May/June 2019) and “Hard Return" (Crime Travel). Sponsored by Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, these prestigious awards will be presented as part of an online ceremony on October 17.


Hats Off! to JD Allen, Phil Bowie, Tom Wood, and all the contributors to the anthtology Writers Crushing COVID-19: An Anthology for COVID-19 Relief, forthcoming in August of 2020. Bestselling and award-winning authors have contributed their short stories and essays to inspire one and all during this challenging time, to enlighten the mind and raise the spirits. All revenues from anthology sales will be donated to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. Now available for pre-order!


Gifts of the Seasons, Autumn and Winter by Suzanne Cottrell

Kelsay Books
$16.00, paperback
ISBN: 9781952326141
May, 2020
Available from your local bookstore or

"The Etruscans named the season, autumn, and the Romans adopted the sound, a tribal habit. Harvest was a better title for centuries until the old returned to common use. Jack Frost bridges the gap into winter. Suzanne Cottrell takes us on a quiet walk through the lesser-favored half of the year. The reader will find pumpkins, geese, and hickory root here, along with the icy moon, and the great horned owl. In our twenty-first century comfort, the images may seem simple and even quaint. But if we free ourselves from our devices and get out into the weather, there are some deep snows to be found and long nights. Suzanne Cottrell reminds us that the seasons once held startling beauty and profound mystery and still do." 
—Russell Streur, editor, Plum Tree Tavern

"The poems contained in Suzanne Cottrell’s debut collection, Gifts of the Seasons, Autumn and Winter, are just that—gifts, a feast of vibrant, picturesque offerings to delight the most ardent of nature lovers with pure spectacle. Cottrell’s extravagant imagery takes us along wooded trails and mountain streams to the flaming leaves of autumn and the hoarfrost of frigid winter days with their orchestrated swirl of snowflakes. Indeed, a tantalizing read for all."
—Mary Flynn, author of the gold medal novel, Margaret Ferry

"Suzanne Cottrell’s exquisite poetry takes us on a captivating ride through a wonderland of ingenious images that remain in our memory. With an atmosphere that is quiet and peaceful, she paints canvases of autumn and winter scenes that engage all of our senses. The poems are lyrical in expression and dazzling in language. As in art, poetry asks us to see the world differently and Ms. Cottrell’s poems do exactly that. Nature sculpts, sings, and dances and we see and hear flora, fauna, and the cosmos in creative collaboration with her. 'Wind choreographs a fusion dance of fallen multi-colored leaves' and 'Wind like an artist’s knife shapes textured snowdrifts' are just a few of Ms. Cottrell’s unforgettable images in this splendid volume."
—Rochelle S. Cohen, author, Ode for the Time Being

Thirtyt-six poems suitable for all ages. Enjoy the imagery and experience the beauty of autumn and winter scenery and activities.

Suzanne Cottrell lives with her husband and three rescued dogs in rural Piedmont North Carolina. An outdoor enthusiast and retired teacher, she enjoys reading, writing, knitting, hiking, Pilates, and yoga. She loves nature’s sensory stimuli and experimenting with poetry. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including the Best Emerging Poets Series, Avocet, Plum Tree Tavern, Poetry Quarterly, Burningword Journal, and The Pangolin Review. She was the recipient of 2017 Rebecca Lard Poetry Award, Prolific Press:

Hats Off! to Heather Bell Adams of Raleigh whose forthcoming second novel, The Good Luck Stone (Haywire Books, July 2020) was named to Deep South Magazine's Summer Reading List. Also included were books by David Joy (When These Mountains Burn); Ron Rash (In the Valley); and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Jill McCorkle (Hieroglyphics).


Hats Off! to Cameron Kent who is one of the winners of this year's 10-Minute Play Festival sponsored by the Winston-Salem Writers. The winning plays will be presented at a future date in collaboration with The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem.


South Toward Home: Tales of an Unlikely Journey by Alice Joyner Irby

Outer Banks Publishing
$17.99, paperback
ISBN: 978-1734168747
Nonfiction: Memoir
March, 2020
Available from the publisher or

Southerners love to tell stories. In these twenty-six stories, Alice shares her childhood adventures while growing up in the 1930s and 1940s on the Roanoke River in Weldon, a small town in Northeastern North Carolina. She and her brother, George, kept Granny’s boarding house lively with pranks on customers and neighborhood playmates. Sometimes they were admonished, sometimes punished, but mostly just loved. Through it all, the two enjoyed the implicit protection of loving parents, family friends, and a caring community.

Eager to explore the world by rail, highway, or river, Alice stopped first at The Woman’s College (now UNCG) in Greensboro and then at Duke for graduate school. Feeling well prepared and fearless—it was the 1950s--she jumped into the business world, only to hit walls common to the experience of other young women in a man’s world before the Women’s Movement caught fire and definition. Applying for her first job—fresh out of graduate school—she was told she was over-qualified for the advertised position but that she could not hold a higher-level job there because women did not qualify for account executive.

Every decade brought unforeseen opportunities, painful disruptions, and life-altering choices—from the controversial McCarthy hearings and public school integration efforts of the 1950s, to the 1960 sit-ins in Greensboro when as Alice was Director of Admissions at UNCG; from the legislative push for equal rights to LBJ’s War on Poverty in the 1960s to her role within LBJ’s Job Corps in Washington, D. C. These were exciting and formative times for the Republic. Alice witnessed them all--and more.

Music sustained her, whether playing under the tutelage of Louise Farber, her piano teacher, or celebrating her college mentor, Warren Ashby, when listening to Anton Dvorak’s "Serenade for Strings" or absorbing the emotional intensity of Rachmaninoff’s "Concerto No. 3 in D Minor."

Unconditional love and support from her parents, siblings, and daughter also enabled her journey and sustained her resilience. Her guiding “celebrities” come to life as well in South Toward Home. These richly-detailed stories are Alice’s personal history of life in America in those decades—while at the same time the heart of this young Southern woman never entirely leaves the black-delta banks of the timeless Roanoke River and the friendly, unpretentious, independent people of Halifax County, North Carolina.

Alice, a native North Carolinian, was born in the small town of Weldon in historic Halifax County. She grew up in what was then the Methodist Episcopal Church, a church in Weldon co-founded by her ancestors. In 1950, she moved to Greensboro, graduated with honors from The Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now UNCG), and moved to Durham for graduate work in Economics at Duke University. After several years of working with Merrill Lynch and teaching at UNCG, she moved into academic administration as Director of Admissions, UNCG. In 1962, she moved with her young daughter, Andrea, to Princeton, New Jersey, to join Educational Testing Service (ETS). For the next thirty-six years, she lived and worked in New Jersey and in Washington, D.C. While living in Princeton, Alice served on the Committee on the Ordination of Women of Trinity Episcopal Church, one of the first churches to endorse the ordination of women.

In 1964-65, she was on leave from ETS to assist in the establishment of the Job Corps during the Johnson Administration. During the 1970s she joined Rutgers University as the first female Vice-President of a major university, returning to ETS in 1978 to lead its field offices and oversee its legislative relations. Several years before she retired, she founded and was CEO of The Chauncey Group International, the first operational subsidiary of ETS, with the mission of developing licensing and certification examinations for the professions and employment.

At one point, when she was moving her base of operations to Washington, a colleague asked her why she would want to leave Princeton for Washington. Quickly, she replied, “Because it is halfway to North Carolina!” And, in 1998, she came the entire way home to join other members of her family: her daughter, Andrea, and grandson, James, in the Raleigh area; her sister, Margaret, in Southern Pines; and her brother, George, in Morehead City.

Before moving to Raleigh in January, 2016, to be closer to her daughter and family, she lived in Pinehurst. There Alice focused her interests on her profession, her alma mater, and her community. She chaired the board of a testing company in New Hampshire. At UNCG, she was a member of the Excellence Foundation. Locally, she served on the board of Friends of Given Library, was president of the local branch of The English Speaking Union, and served as Treasurer of The Village Chapel. Her determination to “retire from retirement” when she moved to Raleigh has been partially successful in that Alice has made time to write stories for her family and friends—now the chapters of South Toward Home.

Hats Off! to the contributors to All the Songs We Sing: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Carolina African American Writers' Collective. The anthology includes works by Bridgette A. Lacy, Lenard D. Moore, North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Carole Boston Weatherford, and more, with an introduction by NC Poet Laureate and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Jaki Shelton Green. These writers have shaped the modern literary landscape of the Carolinas for the last twenty-five years and will continue to influence and inspire African-American writers for generations to come.


Home is Where the Herd is: Coloring Book by Evelyn Wool

Evelyn Wool
$9.95, paperback 
ISBN: 979-8613967063
April, 2020
Children's: Coloring Book
Available from

As you wind your way around the farm,
Many are sure to sound the alarm.
Don’t be afraid–it’s just their way
Of wondering how you’re doing today.
First, in the Meadow, meet the gals:
Mischievous Misty and all of her pals.
Leah and Hazel, Georgia and more,
Plus Vivi the llama and kids galore.

Next stop is The Chicken Wing
Where you just might hear the rooster sing.
But if instead the guineas cackle,
Turn around before they tackle.

Now here we go, continuing on
Way out back behind the barn.
You’ve goat to be kidding me!
How many more goats do you see?

Next meet Lucy and Luke, Thunder and Storm.
Stroke their noses, soft and warm.
Be sure to watch out for Eunice and Eadie,
One of the two might knock out your kne-ee.

Moo-ving along, out to Great Pasture,
To leave the gate open would be a disaster.
Wave hello to Abby and Pork Chop.
If tempted to touch them, I'll tell you to stop.

If it's piglets that you seek,
Follow the bridge on over the creek.
You might find Sally bathing in mud.
But if she is dry, you can give her a hug.

Now that you've been around the farm,
We hope you've come to know the charm
of all our dear and furry friends,
Who'll be with us always, and that's The End.

Evelyn Wool spent numerous childhood family vacations on a real working farm. When her own children were grown, Evelyn began to reminisce about the smell of hay and horses, the sight of cows marching into the barn, and the taste of slurping juicy peaches right off the tree.

In 2014, Evelyn and her husband, Robert, moved from Connecticut to North Carolina to start their very own farm where are learning how to round up cows, out-smart goats, chase chickens, save pigs from drowning, and much more.

Evelyn writes about their fun-filled adventures on the farm’s website:

Hats Off! to Tina Barr whose poem “Civil War” appears on the What Rough Beast blog (Indolent Books), a Brooklyn-based publisher and online journal. "In my twenties I wore camo, charged / two HK 91s on a Visa card. We shot water / bottles, on a beach in Maine before a divorce. / In Minneapolis no one was playing at this."


Hats Off! to Patti Montella whose first book, Becoming Unshakeable: Wisdom Learned on the Journey to Inner Freedom, is a Finalist in the 2020 Next Generation Indie Awards (Self-Help). Patti is grateful to her fellow NC writers for their support through this process. Keep Writing!


Hats Off! to Terri Kirby Erickson, Paul Jones, Joseph Mills, and former NC Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson whose poems appear in the Spring, 2020, issue of Redheaded Stepchild, edited by Malaika King Albrecht. The Redheaded Stepchild only accepts poems that have been rejected by other magazines.


Hats Off! to Suzanne Cottrell whose debut poetry chapbook, Gifts of the Seasons, Autumn and Winter has just been released by Kelsay Books. Her chapbook is a collection of 36 poems suitable for all ages. Enjoy the imagery and experience the beauty of autumn and winter scenery and activities. Her short poem addressing COVID-19 was published in Three Line Poetry, Issue 53. Her flash creative nonfictiton piece, "Tenacity," was posted at Quail Bell Magazine (May 21, 2020). Her flash fiction story, "Cliff Hanger," was posted in the April issue of Nailpolish Stories, A Tiny and Colorful Literary Journal. Her poem, "Emergence of Spring," was published in Issue 381 of The Weekly Avocet, and an untitled short poem was published in Issue 378 of The Weekly Avocet. Her poem, "Pearls in Flight," was published by Poetry Leaves.


Daddy Said by Teresa Blackmon

Finishing Line Press
$19.99, paperback
August, 2020
Availble from the publisher

“Teresa Blackmon’s poems come out of her poet’s heart. Daddy Said brims out of her family and her hometown, spilling nostalgia and memory into a poetry of accuracy and authenticity. Daddy Said is a gem, a rare combination of lyrics and love.”
—Shelby Stephenson, poet laureate of North Carolina from 2015-2018

“In her debut collection, Teresa Blackmon curates a Carolina compendium of immense depth and detail. In 'Uncles' she honors her kin lyrically and profoundly: 'We grow older and see ourselves/turning into them like leaves change in their time…' I found her poem 'Last Request' highly imaginative and intriguing in its moving portrayal of a parent’s death."
—Jon Obermeyer, author of more than twenty book, essays, memoirs, and collections of poetry

“Teresa Blackmon’s southern voice infuses her poetry with the tang of bar-b-q and the saltiness of a Carolina beach. Her narrative ranges from childhood innocence to the questions an adult asks upon the death of a parent whose love might have been tough to determine.”
—Dawn Reno Langley, author of The Mourning Parade

Teresa McLamb Blackmon is from eastern North Carolina and has an MA in English from North Carolina State University and an MLS from North Carolina Central University. She is a retired high school English teacher and publications adviser. She and two miniature donkeys, one goat, and two puppies live on the family farm.

Hats Off! to Ilari Pass whose poem "Leukemia" was selected as a runner-up for The Doug Draime Prize for Poetry in The Raw Art Review. Also, her poems "Daedalus" will be published in the upcoming July issue in The American Journal of Poetry; "Lies of The Might Have Been: Part I" appears in The Blue Mountain Review: Issue 18; and "Fox and the City" is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, a monthly online magazine devoted to literature and film.


Hats Off! to Tamra Wilson who received a Merit Scholarship to Tinker Mountain Writers Workshop, held recently at Hollins University near Roanoke, VA. The award was based on an excerpt from her novel-in-progress.


Limited Time Offer by Dawn Ronco

Kindle Direct Publishing
$11.99, paperback / $10.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1093705737
April, 2019
Fiction: Short Stories
Available from

"I loved these stories and their focus on ordinary folks in challenging circumstances. The characters are moving and well-defined. I was reminded of Anne Tyler’s characters and how the reader is deftly brought in for a closer look. Highly recommend."

"Delightful, insightful, eminently readable! Real people, in carefully crafted, intensely interesting, relatable situations, brought to life as only a true great fiction writer can. Loved, loved, loved this collection. Can't wait until Dawn Ronco publishes again!"
—Amazon Review

You never know what people will bring to the house after a funeral. Or why they might secretly save money in a mayonnaise jar under the bathroom sink. Or what they might imagine, based on a stranger’s groceries. Meet some of them in this uplifting collection of short stories, where death shows up often but the people win, grasping life and opportunity as they fleet by.

Dawn Ronco is a Raleigh author who has been writing since she could first hold a pencil. An avid observer of people and life, she wrote these stories over decades of marriage, children, work, fun and friendships.

Hats Off! to Suzanne Cottrell whose personal narrative,"Unexpected Visitors," about Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, TX, is posted on Parks and Points. Read it to find out who the unexpected visitors were. Suzanne's poem, "Summer Lions," will be included in the print issue of the 2019 Summer Avocet, a journal of nature poems. In 2020, "Her Portrait," a flash fiction piece, will be published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and her poetry chapbook, Gifts of the Seasons, Autumn and Winter, will be published by Kelsay Books.


The Skin Artist by George Hovis

SFK Press
$16.99, paperback / $2.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-970137934
May, 2019
Fiction: Southern
Available from your local bookstore or

"The Skin Artist is the complex saga of a young man's search for his own identity on the dark side of the New South—it's hard to believe this is a first novel. Hovis has created an old-fashioned morality tale set against some of the most garish manifestations of the Sunbelt."
—NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Lee Smith, author of Dimestore and Guests on Earth

"Out of America's age of information, image, tattoo, and Adam and Eve eroticism comes a tightly written novel about addiction, family, and religion. The Skin Artist is at once smooth-deep literary and fast-eddie suspenseful. George Hovis's first novel—it never slows down one iota—is an extraordinary debut."
—NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Clyde Edgerton, author of The Floatplane Notebooks and Raney

"George Hovis displays a world we know and try to turn our gaze from. But the story is too powerful, the forces of destruction too strong, and we readers watch, hypnotized, as the descent gathers friends, lovers, and family into its vortex. Can such dark passages lead to hope?"
—NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee and former NC poet laureate Fred Chappell, author of Dagon and As If It Were

The morning Bill Becker awakes to find the butterfly tattoo bleeding on his chest, his upwardly mobile life begins its downward spiral. Exiled from a corporate career and from the failed marriage he left behind in a gated Charlotte community, Bill becomes obsessed with a tattooed dancer named Lucy, who is running from a trauma buried deep in her own past. Lucy and Bill wrap themselves in new skins of ink, wrought by the same artist, a shaman who convinces them that every design will alter their future. Ultimately, both Bill and Lucy must leave the city and return to the Carolina countryside to confront the skins they have shed many years ago.

George Hovis is a native of Gaston County, North Carolina. Before becoming a writer and teacher, he worked as a process chemist at several ink factories in Charlotte. His stories and essays have appeared widely, most recently in The Carolina Quarterly, The Fourth River, and North Carolina Literary Review. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he earned a Ph.D from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has attended the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He currently lives with his wife and their two children in Upstate New York, where he is a professor of English at SUNY Oneonta.

Hats Off! to North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Wilma Dykeman who is one of two "guardians" of North Carolina's rivers featured in the new documentary, Guardians of Our Troubled Waters, by David Weintraub. Dykeman, who died at age eighty-six in 2006, was a writer, historian and social and environmental activist who famously fought for the protection of the river flowing through the heart of Asheville in her 1955 history book, The French Broad. The documentary premieres June 20 in Hendersonville.


I Hear the Human Noise by Ray Morrison

Press 53
$17.95, paperback / ISBN: 978-1-950413-06-5
May, 2019
Fiction: Short Stories / Literary
Available from your local bookstore or

"The twin subjects of love and death run through Ray Morrison’s book like a freight train rumbling slowly late at night across a countryside overcome with sadness and loss. I Hear the Human Noise is a masterful collection of short stories, and Morrison is proof that, even in these narcissistic, technologically driven times we’re living in, there are still people out there who care deeply about what it means to just be human."
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time and The Heavenly Table

A collection of seventeen short stories.

Ray Morrison spent most of his childhood in Brooklyn, NY, and Washington, DC, but headed south after college to earn his degree in veterinary medicine and he hasn’t looked north since. He has happily settled in Winston-Salem with his wife and three children where, when he is not writing short stories, he ministers to the needs of dogs, cats and rodents. His debut collection of short stories, In a World of Small Truths (Press 53), was released in November, 2012. His fiction has appeared in numerous journals, including Ecotone, Carve Magazine, Fiction Southeast, and storySouth.

Hats Off! to Tom Wood who did a couple of interviews for the Tennessee Screenwriting Association about the upcoming Script-Com Symposium at Lipscomb University in Nashville, on June 22. The first is with keynote screenwriter James V. Hart (Hook, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Contact, and many others). The second is with Nashville screenwriter/director Bob Giordano and his new horror/thrilller The Odds.


To the Bones by Valerie Nieman

West Virginia University Press
$19.99, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-946684-98-1
June, 2019
Fiction: Mystery/Horror/Appalachian
Available from your local bookstore or

“This is the West Virginia novel done right: slam-bang storytelling in tightly controlled language, by turns horrific and funny and beautiful.”
—Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy and Other Stories

"Evocative, intelligent prose conjures an anxious mood and strong sense of place while spotlighting the societal and environmental devastation wrought by the coal mining industry."
Kirkus Reviews

"A storytelling feat: a pulse-pounding thriller that also manages to construct a whole terrifying, gorgeous mythology. To the Bones surprises and captivates at every turn."
— Clare Beams, author of We Show What We Have Learned

Darrick MacBrehon, a government auditor, wakes among the dead. Bloodied and disoriented from a gaping head wound, the man who staggers out of the mine crack in Redbird, West Virginia, is much more powerful—and dangerous—than the one thrown in. An orphan with an unknown past, he must now figure out how to have a future.

Hard-as-nails Lourana Taylor works as a sweepstakes operator and spends her time searching for any clues that might lead to Dreama, her missing daughter. Could this stranger’s tale of a pit of bones be connected? With help from disgraced deputy Marco DeLucca and Zadie Person, a local journalist investigating an acid mine spill, Darrick and Lourana push against everyone who tries to block the truth. Along the way, the bonds of love and friendship are tested, and bodies pile up on both sides.

In a town where the river flows orange and the founding—and controlling—family is rumored to “strip a man to the bones,” the conspiracy that bleeds Redbird runs as deep as the coal veins that feed it.

Valerie Nieman’s fourth novel, To the Bones, a genre-bending satire of the coal industry and its effects on Appalachia, joins her award-winning Blood Clay, Survivors, and Neena Gathering. Her third poetry collection, Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse, includes work that first appeared in The Missouri Review, Chautauqua, The Southern Poetry Review, and other journals. “Steeped in sideshow tradition, and addressing issues of race, gender, self-concept, and creative expression, your book is beautifully written,” wrote Lisa Schaefer, curator, The Coney Island Museum. Her poetry has appeared widely, from Poetry to The Georgia Review to The Galway Review, and has been published in numerous anthologies, including Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods and Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology. She has held state and NEA creative writing fellowships. A graduate of West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte and a former journalist, she teaches creative writing at North Carolina A&T State University.

Drawing Down the Moon by Shawn Keller Cooper

Dark Raven Press
$14.99, paperback / $6.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-733703109
April, 2019
Fiction: Southern
Available from your local bookstore or

Betrayal, lost babies, and terrifying nightmares follow Jade Montgomery to James Island, North Carolina. Damaged and devastated by her third miscarriage and deteriorating marriage, she drives to the strip of sand north of Wilmington to end her life. This was her happy place, the place of childhood vacations and college summers. Desperate for redemption, she walks into the Atlantic seeking solace from her failed pregnancies, unrelenting guilt, and dying spirit. She expected peace as she floated in her watery grave, but in that nanosecond between life and the ever-after she heard a whisper of hope begging her to fight.

In Drawing Down the Moon, Jade survives her suicide attempt and is befriended by Agnes, a mysterious older woman who uses her own devastation and mystical wisdom to help her discover motherhood does not define womanhood. While still reeling from her breakdown, a forgotten reunion brings estranged sorority sisters back to the island of their college summers before suspicions and secrets separated them for decades.

Shawn Keller Cooper graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in Administration of Criminal Justice and Political Science. She has a professional background in journalism. She lives at Lake Norman with her husband, two children, and writing muses, two cats and a dog.

Hats Off! to those poets whose poems are featured for Poetry in Plain Sight - June, 2019. Russell Colver of Hillsborough (“I Abandoned the Dogs”); Joanne Durham of Kure Beach ("Words”); John Haugh of Greensboro (“big bright yellow sun”); and Valerie Nieman of Greensboro (“I Could Take As Omens”). Poetry in Plain Sight is a statewide poetry initiative presented by the Winston-Salem Writers. These poems will be displayed on posters in street-visible locations throughout arts districts and downtown areas in Winston-Salem and in the expansion cities, New Bern and Waynesville.


Hats Off! to Wim Coleman who has lots of activity coming up this summer. His poem “Ecce Nietzsche” is scheduled for publication in Vita Brevis on Tuesday, June 4. From June 5-8, his short play “Talk to the Hand” will be performed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the Living on the Edge: Emergence 10-Minute play festival. And five of his poems will appear in the July, 2019, issue of the Adelaide Literary Magazine in both printed and digital editions and on the publication’s website.


Trawling the Silences by Kathryn Stripling Byer

Jacar Press
$16.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-0-936481296
June, 2019
Available from your local bookstore or from the publisher

When she died suddenly from lymphoma in June 2017, Kathryn Stripling Byer had just completed her seventh, and what would be her last, collection of poetry, Trawling the Silences. It is a book of great beauty and heartbreak, revisiting all her important themes – family and ancestry, the natural world, the inevitable process of aging and death, and the pressing issues of environmental degradation, racism, and international conflict – with an urgency that seems, in retrospect, to have come from an awareness about what fate awaited her. Kay loved the craft of poetry and the expressive possibilities of intricate poetic structures. She wrote free verse, metrical verse, syllabic verse, and used forms as diverse as the sestina and the ghazal. Though often dense with meaning and allusion, her work remains accessible to any careful reader.

During her writing career Kathryn Stripling Byer received many honors and awards, including the Lamont prize for her second book, Wildwood Flower, the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Literature, in 2001, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council. She was the first woman to be selected as the North Carolina Poet Laureate, and served from 2005 to 2009. In 2012, she was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.

Hats Off! to Suzanne Cottrell whose short, short story, "Her Portrait," will be published by The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature in 2020. Eight of her poems appear in the May issues of The Weekly Avocet. Her haiku beginning "Spring rains replenish..." appears in Issue #335 (May 5, 2019). Her Saving Mother Earth Poem ending with "Irreversible damage" and her haiku beginning "Spring peepers emerge..." appear in Issue #336 (May 12, 2019). Three of her haiku appeared in Issue #337 (May 19, 2019). The first begins "Daffodils trumpet," the second begins "Cherry blossoms bloom," and the third begins "Forest green leaves eager to emerge." Her poem "Solitary Walk" and her haiku beginning "Ground begins to thaw..." appear in Issue #338 (May 26, 2019).


Neverborn by Jackson Badgenoone

$14.99, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-5255-2297
April, 2018
Fiction: Family Life
Available from your local bookstore or

"As the founder of Reflections Grief Recovery, I look for valuable resources for grieving people. Jackson reveals a world of pain and loss, but skillfully weaves hope and recovery through this novella."
—Louanne Stanton

Did you ever have a period in your life when the whole world crashed in on you? Rachael, the principal character in this story had such a time, an entire year of tragic events piled one upon the other.

The principal character in this story deals with often-silenced issues of devastating loss. She experiences extraordinary bereavement but continues on a journey to healing and fellowship. The voices of her never-born children help to direct her path to recovery and reconciliation.

Rachael finds strength and reassurance from the imagined voices of her never-born children.

Vincent James Vezza began writing short stories as an avocation, parallel to a career in educational publishing and technology. He began writing full-length works under the pseudonym of Jackson Badgenoone. Jackson's award winning debut novel, The Hidden Treasure of Dutch Buffalo Creek, was published in 2015. A sequel novella, Neverborn, was published in 2018.

Hats Off! to Landis Wade whose article "47 Things Longmire Author Craig Johnson Taught Me about Writing Fiction" appears on the website for Writer's Digest. “'You have to attack your writing like digging a ditch,' [Johnson] said. Then again, scratch that last part. One of his tips was to limit the use of dialogue tags. Just dig the damn ditch."


Hats Off! to Diana Pinckney whose poem "Guernica Triptych" won the 2018 Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry from Press 53. "This poem has depth and feeling, even in the purely descriptive passages," said final judge Terri Kirby Erickson. "And the ending is impactful and memorable." Diana wins $1,000, and her poem will appear in October in Issue 139.


Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers by Marianna Crane

She Writes Press
$16.95, paperback / $9.95, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-63152-445-5
November, 2018
Nonfiction: Memoir
Available from your local bookstore or

“Marianna Crane writes with compassion and insight about what it’s like to serve on the front lines of the medical profession—treating the most vulnerable among us. Her vivid account is moving and enlightening, a valuable contribution to the literature of social justice.”
—Philip Gerard, Professor, Department of Creative Writing, University of North Carolina, and author of The Art of Creative Research

“Nurse practitioners are well known for their willingness to be primary care providers for the ‘underserved’—those people who are waking bundles of multiple chronic and acute illness and myriad ‘social determinants’ of poor housing, little income, and almost no family or friends to call a support system. Society prefers that such patients remain invisible, because acknowledging their existence is too unsettling. It is my fervent hope that Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic will find a wide audience of readers who are willing to meet and care about the people nurse practitioners allow into their lives every day.”
—Marie Lindsey, PhD, FNP, health care consultant and founding member and first president of the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nurse

Marianna Crane’s poignant and compelling stories opened my eyes to the daily health challenges low income elderly patients face and the struggles and small victories which nurse practitioners deal with. Crane's real life qualitative study provides the rich texture missing from the more quantitative studies of needy populations. With empathy, compassion and wit Crane makes an important contribution to the literature of a frail population. We, who research these folks, are indebted to the author for her insights and unvarnished truth.
—Peter J. Stein, Ph.D, University of North Carolina Institute on Aging Associate Director for Aging Workforce Initiatives-retired

Running a clinic for seniors requires a lot more than simply providing medical care. In Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic, Marianna Crane chases out scam artists and abusive adult children, plans a funeral, signs her own name to social security checks, and butts heads with her staff―two spirited older women who are more well-intentioned than professional―even as she deals with a difficult situation at home, where the tempestuous relationship with her own mother is deteriorating further than ever before.

Eventually, however, Crane maneuvers her mother out of her household and into an apartment of her own―but only after a power struggle and no small amount of guilt―and she finally begins to learn from her older staff and her patients how to juggle traditional health care with unconventional actions to meet the complex needs of a frail and underserved elderly population.

Marianna Crane has been a nurse for over forty years and, in the early 1980s, became one of the first gerontological nurse practitioners. She has worked in hospitals, clinics, home care, and hospice settings. She writes to educate the public about what nurses really do. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Eno River Literary Journal, Examined Life Journal, Hospital Drive, Stories That Need to be Told: A Tulip Tree Anthology, and Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine. She lives with her husband in Raleigh.

Hats Off! to Kathy Izard whose self-published The Hundred Story Home: A Memoir of Finding Faith in Ourselves and Something Bigger, was picked up and released this month by Thomas Nelson. Kathy will lead a session at the NCWN 2018 Fall Conference, November 2-4, in Charlotte.


Wing Wind (Legacies of Arnan #2) by Paige L. Christie

Prospective Press
$24.95, hardcover / $9.99, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-943419678
April, 2018
Fiction: Fantasy
Available from your local bookstore or

"Two fast friends, welded by choice and fate to an incompatible dynamic—and a love that will try the depth and scope of their human destinies as never before. A powerful second book for a brand new series."
—Janny Wurts, author of the Wars of Light and Shadow series

The land withers under the pall of Draigon Weather, ushering in a new Sacrifice in the trading town of Melbis.

Cleod, lead sword of Kilras Dorn's renowned caravan, finds himself haunted by his failures and the shadow of long-departed Leiel. Shaa, the Draigon that broke and nearly killed him, has returned, and the need for revenge ignites his soul. Now he must choose between two lives—that of solace and friendship or that of violence and death. Whether to be a trusted guardian or a Draigon slayer.

Far to the north, the Draigon share old teachings, laughter, and heartache. Hard lessons prepare the newest of them for the role she will claim. Then, time-honored treaties between Draigon and Draighil are violated, threatening everything the Draigon protect. Now they must decide which is of greater need—continuing the secrets held for centuries or exposing the truth of their existence.

For knowledge, the Draigon know and Cleod will come to understand, can raise a storm to shake the very future of Arnan.

Always a nerd, obsessive about hobbies like photography, Ghawazee Dance, and listening to the characters in her head, Paige L. Christie was raised in Maine and lives in the mountains of North Carolina, writing speculative fiction, walking her dog, and being ignored by her herd of three-legged cats. As a believer in the power of words, Paige tries to tell stories that are both entertaining and thoughtful. Especially of interest are tales that speak to women and open a space where adventure and fantasy are not all about happy endings.

RALEIGH—Registration for the 2018 Squire Summer Writing Workshops closes July 5. Why not register now so you can celebrate Independence Day worry-free? 

The Squire Workshops, which allow writers to focus on one genre with one instructor in a small-group setting over the course of the weekend, run Thursday—Sunday, July 19-22 on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Register now.

The Squire Summer Writing Workshops offer an intensive course in a chosen genre (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry), with ten ninety-minute sessions over the four days of the program. Space in each workshop is limited, so that registrants can work in-depth on their own manuscript samples, as well as their colleagues’, while also studying the principles of the genre with their instructor.

Paul Cuadros, author of A Home on the Field, will lead the creative nonfiction workshop "Storytelling from a Point of Truth." Rob Greene, editor of Raleigh Review, will lead the workshop in poetry, "Poems of Experience." Elaine Neil Orr, author of the novels A Different Sun and the forthcoming Swimming Between Worlds, will lead the fiction workshop "From Character to Plot to Atmosphere in Fiction."

“The Squire Summer Writing Workshops introduced me to NCWN, and that connection has been key for me,” said Janet Ford, winner of the 2017 Guy Owen Prize from Southern Poetry Review. “Through this organization, I have discovered the members of my writing group, as well as the Spring and Fall Conferences and many meaningful opportunities to publish and read.”

The Opening Session on Thursday evening will give writers the opportunity to rewrite North Carolina's official State Toast, "Here's to the Old North State."

Friday evening will offer a panel discussion, "The Cross-Pollination Between Page and Stage," featuring distinguished playwrights Ian Finley and June Guralnick, as well as screenwriter Ellen Shepherd.

The long weekend also includes faculty readings, open mics, and the opportunity to purchase books by faculty and attendees.

There will be a celebratory dinner on Saturday night.

 Paul Cuadros is an associate professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as well as the chair of the UNC Scholars’ Latino Initiative, a college mentoring and preparatory program for Latino high school students at six local public high schools. He is an award-winning investigative reporter and author whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine,, The Chicago Reporter, and other national and local publications. His book A Home on the Field: How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of Small Town America (Harpers Collins), which tells the story of Siler City as it copes and struggles with Latino immigration through the lives of a predominantly Latino high school soccer team, has been required summer reading for undergraduates at UNC-Chapel Hill and several other colleges and universities. In 2014, the book was adapted into the television documentary series Los Jets, produced by Jennifer Lopez and her production company, Nuyorican Productions, Inc. Cuadros is currently working on another book about the Latino community in the American South.

Rob Greene is the editor of Raleigh Review, and he has lived in Raleigh for much of the last two decades. Prior to this he had relocated forty-six times. Greene taught poetry writing at NC State University as a graduate student while earning his Master of Fine Arts. For the past five years he has taught at Louisburg College, where he serves as the advisor for Lou Lit Review. This fall, Greene will begin work on his research Ph.D in creative writing at University of Birmingham (United Kingdom) via distance education. His own poems have been recently published in Open Minds Quarterly, Great River Review, War: Literature & the Arts, and in the Berlin-based annual Herzattacke. His first chapbook, Biloxi Back Bay (Rabbit House Press), was published in early 2017.

Elaine Neil Orr writes fiction, memoir, and literary criticism. Swimming Between Worlds, her newest novel, is described by Charles Frazier as “a perceptive and powerful story told with generosity and grace.” In a starred review, Library Journal said of Orr’s last novel, A Different Sun, “this extraordinary novel shines with light and depth.” Her memoir, Gods of Noonday: A White Girl’s African Life, was a Top-20 Book Sense selection and a nominee for the Old North State Award. She is associate editor of a collection of essays on international childhoods, Writing Out of Limbo, and the author of two scholarly books. In 2016, she was Kathryn Stripling Byer Writer-in-Residence at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. Orr has published extensively in literary magazines including The Missouri Review, Blackbird, Shenandoah, and Image Journal. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

“Because the pace of the weekend is slower, participants tend to build strong bonds with one another,” said NCWN communications director Charles Fiore. “There's space in the schedule for writing, and reading, and going to meals together, and there's plenty of time for sitting around and talking about all the things that inspire us.”

Register now at


Naked by Cindy B. Stevens

Main Street Rag
$12.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-59948-681-9
April, 2018
Available from the publisher

"Raw in its resistance to suffering—that of loved ones, ultimately, things of the world—Stevens’ poems are stylistic, adrenaline-charged, possessing heart-deep lyrics. Through subjects such as family, relationships, womanhood, birth, and religion, Naked displays a sense of the omnipresence of what’s important, powered by a gifted use of imagery, turn of phrase, and stays true to its own music."
—Phillip Shabazz, author of Flames in the Fire

"Naked is a deeply personal and emotionally sweeping collection of poems. Each one is a meditation, a memorial. Sensual moments. Elegies for the lost. Profound explorations of the landscapes of the soul. Stevens’ poems sing of family and lovers, of locales seen more clearly in the rearview mirror and of longings laid bare. I was transformed by their reading. Cindy B. Stevens is a tremendous poet with a singular voice."
—John Claude Bemis, Piedmont Laureate and author

"Cindy B. Stevens’ collection Naked reminds me of a passage from Cory Taylor’s book Dying: A Memoir, '…how to tolerate the terror of our own impermanence…' Cindy’s poems create the space where love, loss, and memory swirl to find voice. Death is 'a suitable place to store' grief, love of brothers, mother, father, and lover. Marbled within the poems is a keen wit, 'Lester grieves for me/my sister is too dignified/to let tears soak her peach silk blouse…I need a Bellini.' The poem 'Kind of Girl' proclaims love as 'you beg me not to die' reminding me of St. Augustine, 'to say I love you is to say I want you to be.' Her poetry conveys a direct connection to the natural world, trees, curtains, a cat’s meow, soft tar highways, as well as angels who watch over the 'tail end of the minute.' Naked is an invitation to reflect seriously on the uneasiness that the here is where there will be no me. In 'The Fireball' Stevens writes, 'I realize I am not your breath/your food or water/but I want to be necessary.' What more could we want from a poet?"
—Elon G. Eidenier, author of Sonnets to Eurydice and Draw Flame Catch Fire

Naked is evocative, deceptively straightforward, and ironic poetry that delivers a surprise to the system.

Cindy Stevens was born in Pennsylvania and raised on the east coast with her military family. She received a degree in Psychology from Trevecca Nazarene College and has spent her married life living in Kentucky and North Carolina. She graduated with high honors from Johnston Community College with a degree in Paralegal Technology. After her eighteen-year career as a family law paralegal, she enjoys her part-time workweek and low-stress life. She is a singer and appears as a regular “jingler” and a Piedmont Player on the Murphey School Radio Show. She is also a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network.

She and her husband, Richard, have two adult sons and daughters-in-love, and live in Hillsborough with their cats, Stella and Izzy. This is her first collection.

CARY—The North Carolina Writers’ Network (NCWN) is proud to announce the creation of the Sally Buckner Emerging Writers’ Fellowship, in memory of one of North Carolina’s most beloved poets, editors, and educators.

This annual $500 fellowship will support an emerging North Carolina writer, between the ages 21-35, whose work shows promise of excellence and of commitment to a literary career. Each year, the fellowship will go to a writer working primarily in a designated genre (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or drama), with the genres rotating on a four-year cycle.

The inaugural 2019 Buckner Fellowship will support an emerging poet.

Applicants must be in the early stages of their careers and will not yet have achieved major recognition for their work. No specific academic background is required or preferred, but students enrolled in degree-granting programs are not eligible to apply.

For complete program guidelines, click here.

Fellowship recipients will use the $500 award to allay the costs associated with the business of writing: paper, printing, writing supplies, submission fees, research expenses, travel, conference registration fees, etc. In addition to the cash award, recipients will receive a complimentary one-year membership in NCWN, as well as scholarship aid to attend the Network’s annual Fall Conference.

To honor and carry on the lifelong generosity displayed by its namesake, the Buckner Fellowship will invite each recipient, during their award year, to help at least one other writer—by mentoring a less-experienced writer, by critiquing another’s work, by writing references or editing applications, or in whatever other way the recipient sees fit.

Applications will be accepted through from May 1 to June 30. Application is free for current NCWN members; for nonmembers, the application fee is $10. A committee appointed by NCWN will review all applications, and invite finalists for interviews with committee members. The fellowship winner will be announced and introduced at the Network’s Fall Conference, held this year in Charlotte, November 2-4.

The North Carolina Writers' Network connects, promotes, and serves writers of this state, providing education in the craft and business of writing, opportunities for recognition and critique of literary work, resources for writers at all stages of development, support for and advocacy of the literary heritage of North Carolina, and a community for those who write.

For more information about the Sally Buckner Emerging Writers’ Fellowship and NCWN, visit, or contact Charles Fiore, NCWN Communications Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Four Gates to the Mountain by John A. Blackard

Freedomlawn Independent Publications
$20.00, paperback / $40.00, hand-bound, limited edition
ISBN: 978-1-387-77988-8
April, 2018
Available from your local bookstore or

“Get rid of all that is unnecessary. Wabi-sabi means treading lightly on the planet and knowing how to appreciate whatever is encountered, no matter how trifling, whenever it is encountered.”
—Leonard Koren

“Ecopoetry exercises our environmental imaginations, it enlarges our ethical spheres, and it engenders empathic bonds with what’s beyond our human egos.”
—Ann Fisher-Wirth

Spending time in forests—there's a growing body of evidence that the practice can help boost immunity and mood and help reduce stress.

"Medical researchers in Japan have studied forest bathing and have demonstrated several benefits to our health," says Philip Barr, a physician who specializes in integrative medicine at Duke University.

Four Gates to the Mountain is John A. Blackard’s fifth collection of poems. Season by season in fifty-two poems and fourteen photos, John describes living in the Swannanoa Mountains near Asheville. An admirer of Japanese nature poetry, Gary Snyder, and American ecopoetry, John has created a poetry of place unique to Western North Carolina.

This book is a collection of meditative poems that explore seasonal changes on a mountain in North Carolina.

John Blackard is a graduate of the University of North Carolina with advanced degrees in English Studies and Library Information Studies. He has five books of poems in print, a children's book, and a reference book for book collectors. He has received Fulbright Memorial Fund and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. John lives in Fairview.

Hats Off! to Ross White whose poem "From Money" appeared in the "Winter Reading" 2017 issue of Tin House and whose poem appears in the new Spring/Summer 2018 issue of the Nimrod International Journal of Poetry and Prose.


Behind These Hands by Linda Vigen Phillips

Light Messages
$11.32, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-61153-259-3
July, 2018
Fiction: YA / Verse
Available from your local bookstore or

Pre-Order Now! 

"In Behind These Hands, Linda Vigen Phillips’s lyrical language paints a vivid picture of a world colored by a crushing disease. My sister was born with Batten disease, and this story’s emotionally charged moments bear an uncanny resemblance to scenes from my own life. Whether or not you’ve heard of Batten disease, read this book. You’ll discover, along with Phillips’s teenage heroine, how to face the prospect of losing someone you love and still face the day."
—Laura King Edwards, author, speaker, and co-founder of Taylor’s Tale, the world’s leading charity focused on eradicating infantile Batten disease

"A beautiful story! Lyrical and poignant. Emotional and heart-grabbing. The love we feel for family and complications it can bring are all over every page. You'll have a hard time putting this verse novel down."
—Skila Brown, author of Caminar

Piano prodigy Claire Fairchild, age fourteen, has always known music would be her life. So when she has the opportunity to enter a prestigious contest, she goes all in—until she realizes she’s also competing against Juan, a close childhood friend and one of the most talented musicians she knows. It doesn’t help that her thoughts about him are turning romantic.

When Claire and her family receive a devastating blow from Batten disease, her world enters a tailspin. Claire decides her musical goals no longer seem relevant. She can’t reconcile the joy that music would bring to her life while her brothers succumb to an early and ugly death. Her decision puts everything at risk: her friendship with Juan, her parents’ expectations, and her own happiness.

After Claire accompanies a friend on a school newspaper assignment, she meets a centenarian with a surprising musical past and only one regret in life. Claire knows something in her life has to change before it’s too late, but she’s not sure she has the courage to take the next step.

Linda Vigen Phillips has a passion for realistic fiction that offers hope and encouragement to young adults and families facing mental or physical health crises. Her debut book, Crazy, depicts the struggles of a teenage girl in the 1960s coming to terms with her mother’s bipolar disorder. It was named a notable Social Studies Trade Book, listed as one of the NY Public Library’s Best Books for teens, and one of Bank Street College of Education’s best children’s books of the year, among other accolades. Like her debut book, Behind These Hands is a Young Adult verse novel. The protagonist must decide how to reconcile her musical giftedness with the rare neurodegenerative disease that is slowly stealing her brothers’ lives. Linda enjoys advocating for better mental health through National Alliance for Mental Illness, conducting writing workshops, and spending time with her grandkids. She lives in Charlotte, where she and her husband love to sit on their screened porch and watch the grass grow.

RALEIGH—Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2018 Squire Summer Writing Workshops ends July 5. On-site registration will not be available, and spaces are very limited.

This year's workshops will be led by Paul Cuadros (Creative Nonfiction); Rob Greene (Poetry); and Elaine Neil Orr (Fiction).

"The Squire Summer Writing Workshops introduced me to NCWN, and that connection has been key for me,” said Janet Ford, winner of the 2017 Guy Owen Prize from Southern Poetry Review. “Through this organization, I have discovered the members of my writing group, as well as the Spring and Fall Conferences and many meaningful opportunities to publish and read.”

The Opening Session on Thursday evening will give writers the opportunity to rewrite North Carolina's official State Toast, "Here's to the Old North State."

Friday evening will offer a panel discussion, "The Cross-Pollination of Page and Stage," featuring distinguished playwrights Ian Finley and June Guralnick, as well as screenwriter Ellen Shepherd.

The long weekend also includes faculty readings, open mics, and the opportunity to purchase books by faculty and attendees.

There will be a celebratory dinner on Saturday night.

"Because the pace of the weekend is slower, participants tend to build strong bonds with one another," said NCWN communications director Charles Fiore. "There's space in the schedule for writing, and reading, and going to meals together, and there's plenty of time for sitting around and talking about all the things that inspire us."

Registration is open through July 5 at


Hats Off! to Tamra Wilson whose short story "Midlife" was the sole fiction selection in the premiere issue of TORCH, a literary journal of Richmond Community College.


Shade and Shelter by Mary Ricketson

Kelsay Books
$17.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-947465-53-4
March, 2018
Available from your local bookstore or

"Mary Ricketson’s Shade and Shelter I cherish for its naturalness, the words as wind, sometimes wild, sometimes caring, always solid as a stone-wall at sunset, real as the dirt beneath the feet, ephemeral as one monarch butterfly."
—Shelby Stephenson, Poet Laureate of North Carolina, 2015-2018

"In Mary Ricketson’s Shade and Shelter, the speaker eloquently ponders 'how the world ticks / and what to do with [her] one chance' in a bold, nature-filled voice. Poison ivy, trillium, past hurts, new loves all appear and are seen, wide-eyed and with bravery, as the reader vicariously travels along the trail, 'too narrow for two.'"
—Rosemary Royston, Splitting the Soil

"In Mary Ricketson’s aptly named collection, Shade and Shelter, 'all four winds blow wild:' the winds of remembrance, confrontation, acceptance and healing. Ricketson brings us along on her journey into nature as that windy place where 'a million ferns hold hope for the future.' As do these poems."
—Dana Wildsmith, One Good Hand

Mary Ricketson, Murphy, has been writing poetry for twenty years. She is inspired by nature and her work as a mental health counselor. Her poetry has been published in Wild Goose Poetry Review, Future Cycle Press, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Lights in the Mountains, Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, Red Fox Run, It’s All Relative, Old Mountain Press, Whispers, and her chapbook I Hear the River Call my Name, and a full-length collection of poetry, Hanging Dog Creek, published by Future Cycle Press.

Currently Mary is using her own poetry to present empowerment workshops, combining roles as writer and her helping role as a therapist. Mary Ricketson’s poems and activities relate with nature, facilitate talk about a personal path and focus on growth in ordinary and unusual times.

She is Cherokee County representative to North Carolina Writers Network-West and president of Ridgeline Literary Alliance. She won first place in the 2011 Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest 75th anniversary national poetry contest. She writes a monthly column, Women to Women, for The Cherokee Scout. She is a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor and an organic blueberry farmer.

Hats Off! to James Tate Hill whose essay "How Prince Helped Me Feel Seen" appears on Literary Hub. "I was seven years old when Purple Rain hit theaters, and Prince was as confusing to me as an evening soap or a library book without pictures. Even as a teen, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around this strange man or his music. After graduating from college, living in a tiny apartment converted from an old hospital, rejected by the creative writing programs to which I applied, sometimes going days without saying a word to another human being, the music of Prince finally spoke to me."


A Flower So Fallen by Joseph L.S. Terrell

Bella Rosa Books
$14.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-62268-139-6
May, 2018
Fiction: Mystery
Available from your local bookstore or

Single mom Mary Ann Little, a reporter with a weekly newspaper near the Outer Banks, is horrified to learn that her friend from the library, young Becky Thurston, has been brutally murdered. As Mary Ann delves deeper into the death, she uncovers Becky's addiction to powerful prescription opioids, which began in an innocent attempt to ease her back pain. Obviously, someone has been helping her feed her addiction.

While pursuing the story, Mary Ann uncovers several suspects who might be responsible for Becky's death—maybe over a drug deal gone wrong, or maybe over Becky's decision to blow the whistle on her supplier. But those who deal in the opioid black market are dangerous people with secrets to hide and no mercy for those who threaten their operation.

Mary Ann realizes her investigation could lead to her own death, and that of others around her. It all comes down to a confrontation . . . a potentially deadly confrontation in which she must use all her wits and resources to avoid her friend's fate.

With more than forty years as a journalist and fiction writer, Joseph L.S. Terrell is the published author of twelve novels, including a mystery series set at the Outer Banks featuring true crime writer Harrison Weaver. He has also written literary novels and award-winning short stories. His latest book, A Flower So Fallen, is the second featuring single mom and weekly newspaper reporter Mary Ann Little.

Enough! Thirty Stories of Fielding Life's Little Curve Balls

Literary Wanderlust
$12.99, paperback
$5.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-942856-21-4
April, 2018
Fiction: Short Stories
Available from your local bookstore or

"Caroline Taylor’s stories are taut, pointed, and consistently intriguing—not to mention potent—reminders of the dramatic arcs that shape even the most ordinary lives."
—Louis Bayard, author of Lucky Strike

"Attention is the rare and pure form of generosity. In Enough!, Caroline Taylor pays attention to the small heroes of our everyday lives: those important cogs that surround us. She presents them with both wit and grace."
—Ruth Moose, professor emeritus of creative writing at the University of Carolina and author of Neighbors and Other Strangers as well as two other short-story collections and two mystery novels

"In Enough! Thirty Stories of Fielding Life's Little Curve Balls, Caroline Taylor has compiled some of the best of her short stories into one captivating, memorable volume."
Colorado Book Review

A look at the many ways we handle the curve balls that life pitches at us.

Caroline Taylor is the author of three mystery novels—Loose Ends, Jewelry from a Grave, and What Are Friends For?—one nonfiction book, Publishing the Nonprofit Annual Report: Tips, Traps, and Tricks of the Trade, and numerous short stories and essays, which are featured in this collection and on her website at A suspense novel, The Typist, is forthcoming from Black Rose Writing in June, 2018.

Tales from Beaver Dams by Maryrose Carroll

Big Table Books
$9.99, paperback / $2.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1985024236
May, 2018
Nonfiction: Travel
Available from your local bookstore or

"Once upon a time in a land known to few—even the locals would be hard-pressed to find it on a map— nd deep in the Appalachian Mountains roamed beavers and their dams and their stories.

"Today, little is left of the beavers or their dams: As Carroll tells us, it’s been a generation since anyone who lives there has seen one or the other. Now, all that is left are the stories of Beaver Dams, a not-quite-fictional old-time expression for a small community 'tucked away between Highway 321, heading out of Boone toward Watauga Lake, and Highway 421, going toward Mountain City, Tenn.'

"It is into this pastoral, fairytale setting that Carroll takes us in Tales From Beaver Dams (Big Table Books), the first in a planned series of books, part memoir, part history and all love story for a land, its people and its memories.

"Into this first brief collection of stories, Carroll has poured both the tales told by insiders and those she has witnessed firsthand during the quarter century she has called the area home. The result is a charming book of vignettes that captures the flavor of the High Country, offering concise doses of Appalachia history destined to be lost were it not for books such as this."
—Tom Mayer, The Mountain Times

You can learn what you don't know about Appalachian mountain life. You may have visited Boone, Blowing Rock, Todd, or Valle Crucis when visiting western North Carolina without knowing about a hidden paradise, Beaver Dams. It is a pastoral land of cattle, horses, goats, and families with antebellum histories.

Have you had a chance to see their wagon trains traveling on weekends through the area? This is the book to tell you about them and more.

Maryrose Carroll was an old sculptor who had to quit before it killed her, now she is a new author. Her first book, Beats Me, Love, Poetry, Censorship from Chicago to Appalachia was a valentine for her late husband, Paul Carroll. It told of their love and his historic win against censorship in 1960. It won designation as a 100 Notable 2015 Indie Book from Shelf Unbound Magazine.

In February, 2016, Maryrose had the esteemed privilege of interviewing her husband's old pal, Lawrence Ferlinghetti for a documentary being made about Paul. He, Lawrence, and Barney Rosset were the three publishers who successfully fought literary censorship. Maryrose first began to write poems in the Spring of 2016, after finishing her book. Not knowing if her first poem warranted consideration she emailed Pulitzer Poet, Stephen Dunn, on Memorial Day and he responded that he thought "Song for a Dead Lover" was a wonderful poem. The book Conversations with a Dead Lover was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press.

Tales from Beaver Dams is the first in what will be a series of books about rural Appalachian life.

Hats Off! to Maryrose Carroll who was featured in The Mountain Times. Her new book is Tales From Beaver Dams (Big Table Books), "the first in a planned series of books, part memoir, part history, and all love story for a land, its people, and its memories." This charming book of vignettes captures the spirit of the High Country.


Hats Off! to Landis Wade whose novel The Christmas Redemption: A Courtroom Adventure won the Holiday category of the National Indie Excellence Awards.


Hats Off! to Judy Hogan who was interviewed by Jackie Helvey on the Wacqueline Stern Show at WCOM FM 103.5 in Carrboro. Judy talked about her new books, including Those Eternally Linked Lives, and the ongoing fight against coal ash.


Hats Off! to Deborah Pope who received the 2018 Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize for Poetry for her poem "Take Nothing." She wins $1,000, and her poem appears on the website. It also will be published in print. The final judge for the 2018 Prize was poet Richard Blanco.


Called to Peace: A Survivor’s Guide to Finding Peace and Healing After Domestic Abuse by Joy Forrest

Blue Ink Press, LLC
$12.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1948449014
April, 2018
Nonfiction: Memoir / Guidebook
Available from your local bookstore and

Called to Peace is one part memoir and one part guidebook. Joy’s story and insight will help you to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship, as well as provide you spiritual truths to combat guilt and promote healing after abuse. Whether you are in an abusive relationship yourself, or desire to help someone else who is suffering from domestic abuse, this book offers hope and inspiration.

Joy Forrest is the executive director of Called to Peace Ministries. She has been an advocate for victims of domestic violence since 1997 and holds an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She held the position of Community Educator for Safe Space Domestic Violence Services in Louisburg from 2000-2001, and has served as a biblical counselor in church settings since 2005. Her own experiences as a survivor of domestic abuse, along with her involvement with Safe Space and church counseling, caused her to see a major need for churches to become better equipped to help families affected by DV. In January 2015, she helped establish Called to Peace to promote domestic violence awareness, particularly within the faith community. Joy is a Certified Advocate with the NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Raleigh—Elaine Neil Orr's new novel, Swimming Between Worlds, was published in April.

New York Times bestselling author Charles Frazier called Swimming Between Worlds "A perceptive and powerful story told witih generosity and grace." And Buzzfeed named it one of seven coming-of-age tales to pick up this April.

Fiction registrants for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2018 Squire Summer Writing Workshops will have the opportunity to spend a long weekend learning from Elaine, July 19-22, on the campus of North Carolina State University, in Raleigh.

Registration is open.

In Elaine's workshop, "From Character to Plot to Atmosphere in Fiction," attendees will explore how the heart of the fiction workshop is their own writing, which they will prepare to discuss in advance and give attention to in every session. This work naturally leads participants to think about all the key elements of fiction: conflict, character development, place, dialogue, structure. In addition, students will place special emphasis on how to improve language and develop atmosphere and mood. For guidance, conferencegoers will read and discuss selected passages from great writers whose work they might emulate. In the course of the weekend, registrants will also begin one or two new pieces of fiction in response to prompts.

Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the workshop.

Elaine Neil Orr writes fiction, memoir, and literary criticism. Swimming Between Worlds is her newest novel. In a starred review, Library Journal said of Orr’s last novel, A Different Sun, “this extraordinary novel shines with light and depth.” Her memoir, Gods of Noonday: A White Girl’s African Life, was a Top-20 Book Sense selection and a nominee for the Old North State Award. She is associate editor of a collection of essays on international childhoods, Writing Out of Limbo, and the author of two scholarly books. In 2016, she was Kathryn Stripling Byer Writer-in-Residence at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. Orr has published extensively in literary magazines including The Missouri Review, Blackbird, Shenandoah, and Image Journal. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

The NCWN Squire Summer Writing Workshops offer attendees the chance to study one genre with one instructor over the course of the weekend. There also will be programs, panels, readings, open mics, and more.

Paul Cuadros will lead the track in Creative Nonfiction, "Storytelling from the Point of Truth." Rob Greene will lead the track in Poetry, "Poems of Experience." Registration is capped at forty-two registrants, first-come, first-served.

Register now.


The Clown Forest Murders by A.C. Brooks and R.R. Brooks

Black Opal Books
$14.99, paperback / $3.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1626948136
November, 2017
Fiction: Mystery
Available from your local bookstore or

Did clown-colored mushrooms spark the gruesome murders? Will his memories of the murders save him or kill him?

At age eight, Dave Austin witnesses his brother’s savage murder in rural Norwich, New York, but amnesia suppresses the memory, and the killer escapes. Locals suspect an itinerant, a pedophile, or a disturbed friend maddened by psychedelic mushrooms. When Dave starts college, pressures at Princeton and alcohol elicit dreams, each one revealing a bit of memory. Then come visions as Dave senses the killer return. Images of teenagers killed where his brother died precipitate a crisis, and David returns to Norwich to find his dead brother’s friend, a disturbed witness who knows something. Dave’s appearance alarms his psychiatrist, the officers who hadn’t solved the case, and especially the killer, who knows he should not have let the young Dave escape. Now the killer must correct his mistake. When a crazy farmer invites Dave to learn the killer’s name in the Clown Forest at midnight, how can he resist? He may learn what he needs to identify the murderer—if he gets the truth, and survives.

R.R. Brooks, a native of New Jersey, moved from pharmaceutical research to writing even before retiring in North Carolina where he now dwells with a supportive spouse (and beta reader), two enormous cats, and an independent beagle. He studied fiction the hard way: in courses, relentless critique groups, and by accumulating enough rejections to paper his office. He is a reader for the Eric M. Hoffer Award for self-published books, has judged plays for a local theater annual play competition, and has had a short play produced. Several fantasy short stories have appeared in print and online venues. All seem to deal with questions of faith and aliens. He is a schizophrenic writer, working in several genres. Besides his fantasy novel, he has a scifi/thriller novel in the works. With co-author A.C. Brooks, a psychological-twist mystery novel The Clown Forest Murders was published by Black Opal Books in November 2017. A sequel to Justi the Gifted is underway. See

Echose from the Alum Chine by Cynthia Strauff

$15.00, paperback / $1.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-48334-6682-8
March, 2017
Fiction: Historical / Literary
Available from your local bookstore and

On March 7, 1913, the steamer Alum Chine explodes in the Baltimore harbor. Charles Sherwood, the founder of the company that insures the steamer, is among the first to hear the blast. While he attempts to cope with the consequences that include his son’s diffidence to the calamity, the disaster touches two other families.

Helen Aylesforth is the imperious matriarch whose stern demeanor belies her love for those around her, including her daughter, Cantata, who is married to Nicholas Sherwood.

The Corporals, who live in the alley house, have served the Aylesforths for generations. Their six-member family includes Randolph, the tender and affectionate stevedore, Arbutus, his ambitious wife, Wanderer, the bright star of the family, and Lillian Gish, the shy, forgotten observer.

Echoes from the Alum Chine shares the tale of these three families who persevere to transform tragedy into triumph during the early 1900s.

Cynthia Strauff is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards for her poetry and prose. She is the author of Another Sunday, a story of historic Baltimore. A native of Baltimore, she holds graduate degrees from The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago. Cynthia lives in North Carolina with her husband, Dick Schaub.

Echoes from the Alum Chine is her second novel:

Hats Off! to Jane Williams, author of Mysterious Moments: Thoughts that Transform Grief, who was recently interviewed on WUNC 91.5 FM's The State of Things with Frank Stasio. He asks some intriguing questions about the book.


BOONE—Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2017 Squire Summer Writing Workshops closed at noon on Wednesday, June 28

On-site registration is not availabe for this conference. 

There were seven important reasons to register for this year's Workshops.

    1. Joseph Bathanti, former NC poet laureate and winner of the 2016 NC Award for Literature, will lead the poetry workshop, “Writing the Longer Narrative Poem.”
    2. TripAdvisor named Boone the number-two "Diamond in the Rough” for vacation destinations.
    3. Granite Falls Brewing Company is donating 10 percent of proceeds from their new Tailyho Belgian Quad beer to NCWN. Guess what town is on the way to Boone from much of North Carolina? Granite Falls.
    4. Sheryl Monks will lead the fiction workshop, “How Bad Things Happen to Good Characters,” and she counts John Ehle, Robert Morgan, and Toni Morrison among her favorite authors, so you know her class is going to be pretty awesome.
    5. There’s a great new-ish indie bookstore in Boone: Foggy Pine Books.
    6. Eric G. Wilson will lead the creative nonfiction workshop, “Creating Presence: Voice in Creative Nonfiction.” Eric believes your “voice” is a muscle that can be exercised, strengthened, and developed. You won’t come home with the same voice you left with, that’s for sure.
    7. The average temperature in Boone in July is 76 degrees.

The Squire Summer Writing Workshops offer conferencegoers the chance to study elements of one genre with one instructor over the course of the program. Attendees will work on their own manuscripts, as well as those of their peers, while also attending readings, special presentations, and taking advantage of built-in writing time, in a town TripAdvisor named the number two “diamond in the rough” for vacation destinations.


Hats Off! to Vicki L. Weavil who signed a nice three-book deal with Faith Black Ross at Crooked Lane, by Frances Black at The Literary Counsel (World), for A Murder for the Books, written under the penname Victoria Gilbert, the first in a contemporary library cozy mystery series set in a historic town at the foot of Virginia's Blue Ridge mountains. The deal was noted in Publisher's Marketplace.


Hats Off! to Michele Tracy Berger whose essay was featured in "The Big Idea" blog series hosted by John Scalzi, a multi-award winning speculative fiction writer. "What if a visit to the salon could kill you?" Michele asks in talking about her new novella, Reenu-You. "What if a hair product harbored a deadly virus? My Big Idea is about viruses, the politics of beauty and unlikely female heroes."


WINSTON-SALEM—Though we’re saying more of a “So long” or “See you later” than a full-on “Goodbye,” we’re still sad to announce that this week will be Salem Dockery’s last as the Network’s Membership Coordinator.

Salem is stepping down to pursue other opportunities, but she plans (and we hope) to remain a part of North Carolina’s literary community, from whom we’ll hear much in years to come. Please join the Network staff and board in wishing Salem the best of luck in her writing, and all her other endeavors.

Friday will be her last official day with the Network, though she graciously has agreed to help out with various projects through the Squire Summer Writing Workshops next month.

We will begin searching for a new Membership Coordinator immediately. In the meantime, the Network’s 919-308-3228 phone number will remain active, so you still can reach us there or at 336-293-8844.

If you are interested in learning more about the Membership Coordinator position—or if you know someone who is—you can read about it here.


Belongings by Maureen Sherbondy

Main Street Rag Publishing Company
$11.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-59948-620-8
May, 2017
Available from the publisher

"With her 'javelin turned into a pen,' Maureen Sherbondy throws down in these poems, traversing 'that dash between born and died' with grief and rage and tenderness for lost lovers, lost relatives (at Auschwitz), lost belongings. Yet she confirms that belongings do not constitute belonging and that not giving away 'a single piece of yourself' is the key to survival. These are the poems of a warrior."
—Kimberly L. Becker, author of Words Facing East and The Dividings

"Maureen Sherbondy’s poems are gorgeous and difficult, chilling and stark. In 'Cousins I Never Met,' we follow the speaker back through history by way of a family tree, and as the lines unfold, we find ourselves in a horrific place. But Sherbondy doesn’t leave us there. In both poems included here, she frees us by movement while never erasing memory. Every moment remains with us to create a history we retell."
—Julie Brooks Barbour, Poetry Editor, Connotation Press

Belongings is a book about letting go of relationships, moving forward, and dating. These poems re-examine situations in order to gain an understanding of what transpired. Forty-one pages.

Maureen Sherbondy is a poet and fiction writer. She has published nine poetry books. Poems have appeared in numerous publications. She received her MFA degree from Queens University of Charlotte. Maureen resides in Raleigh and teaches English at Alamance Community College.

Hats Off! to Suzanne Cottrell whose three-line poem beginning "Water droplets streaking cracked windows..." appears in issue #43 of Three Line Poetry.


Under the Music of Blue by Dede Wilson

FutureCycle Press
$15.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-942371-26-7
April, 2017
Available from your local bookstore or

"Dede Wilson's poems display a fresh verbal music in their intentionally spare lines. As in Japanese poetry, the integrity of the image predominates, yet these poems exist in the interval between the visible world and the surreal world of dream, memory and imagination, letting the strangeness of the most everyday objects and occurrences shine through. I treasure these poems not only for the precision of their language but for the singularity of their vision."
—Patricia Hooper

"In Under the Music of Blue, Dede Wilson's poems have a floating quality, yet I sense an ever-present undertow of grief. I was glad to see she included 'Seasons,' with its last quiet killer lines. Not to mention such surprising and excellent images as 'beak and creekbone,' 'fallalery of lilies' (I don't even want to know what fallalery means—just to savor the mystery of it is sufficient), and 'the mandolin's open throat.' Her hypnotic lyrics remind me of the gentle shower that followed last night's thunderstorm, the strange changes of light, the dark grace that comes after."
—Stephen Knauth

"Dede Wilson's poems are often—but not always (and that's what gives this book its freedom)—spare as scroll paintings. I'm also struck by the variety of contexts in which the blue of her title appears: the plain bowl her grandmother used to catch rainwater; her mother's silk pajamas; Lizst, whispering; the sky over a young woman joy-riding through a field; and, last but not at all least, the Chinese master who 'in washes of lacquer and bone dust' renders a bowl of blue plums."
—Lola Haskins

Under the Music of Blue is a full-length collection of poems that hum with lyrical clarity and illuminate ordinary life. In choosing to publish this book, FutureCycle Press commented, "Beautiful lyrics by an accomplished writer. Even the sad ones made me feel at peace. My interest never flagged. Further, this is the sort of book I'd keep on my bedside table to dip into during the wakeful midnight hours."

Under the Music of Blue is Dede Wilson's sixth book of poetry. Her first book, Glass, was published as runner-up for the 1998 Persephone Press Award. Sea of Small Fears won the 2001 Main Street Rag Chapbook Competition. This was followed by One Nightstand, a book of light verse in forms followed by a primer to poetic forms, published by Main Street Rag in 2004. Eliza: The New Orleans Years appeared in 2010, also from Main Street Rag. These poems comprised a fictional account of the life of Wilson's great great grandmother; the story was performed as a one-woman show at the Flex Theater in Jackson, MS, as well as at Carolina Actor's Studio Theater in Charlotte. In 2013, Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Near Waking. Dede is a former travel editor for the now-defunct DallasTimes Herald. She lives in Charlotte.


Cecil and the Big Wave (Cecil the Littlest Ant, #1) by Adam W. Jones

Wisdom House Books
$19.97, hardcover
ISBN: 978-0997211818
April, 2017
Fiction: Children's
Available from your local bookstore or

Cecil the Littlest Ant may be small, but he's fed up with being bullied about it. The other kids at Aardvark Park tease him about his size, what they don't see is his magnificent courage. Cecil knows that the bullies are wrong about him, and to prove it he focuses on a new goal: he will become a great surfer! With the help of his Uncle Juba, Cecil learns how to master even the biggest waves. Armed with his new skills and confidence, Cecil shows everyone that if you believe in yourself, you can accomplish great things—no matter your size.

North Carolina author Adam W. Jones has written both fiction and children’s books, and has written articles for several magazines. Like many good Southerners, Adam has always had a passion for telling and writing a good story. Adam knows the value of thinking for yourself, overcoming obstacles and having the confidence to pursue your passions. In Cecil and the Big Wave, Adam shares his own childhood love of surfing in a family-friendly picture book meant to remind readers young and old of the importance of courage, confidence, and self-esteem. Adam is a husband and father of two young girls. He lives in Chapel Hill with his family, their two dogs, one cat, and a fish.

Hats Off! to Suzanne Cottrell whose poems "Afternoon Skipping" and "Farmers' Market" will be published in the print issue of The Summer Avocet. In addition, her poems "Restorative Cloudburst" and "Morning Dew" appeared in the online Weekly Avocet on June 11, 2017.


Hats Off! to Barbara Garrity-Blake who was recently interviewed on WUNC 91.5 FM's The State of Things with Frank Stasio. Barbara is co-author of Living at the Water's Edge: A Heritage Guide to the Outer Banks Byway (UNC Press).


BOONE—"All across the state exist dedicated, selfless folks—teachers in the main—holding on doggedly to poetry and literature," says former North Carolina poet laureate Joseph Bathanti, "folks who still believe that our stories will save us and that our children’s futures, their very humanity depends on our not losing sight of what beats so passionately in us.”

Poets who register for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2017 Squire Summer Writing Workshops will have the opportunity to spend the weekend in class with Joseph, working on their manuscripts as well as those of their peers. It's a rare chance to learn not only from a former poet laureate, but also the 2016 winner of the North Carolina Award for Literature, the state's highest civilian honor.

The conference runs July 13-16 at Appalachian State University in Boone. Registration is open through June 28.

"Writing the Longer Narrative Poem" with Joseph Bathanti will focus on writing longer poems that tell stories through utilizing classic conventions of fiction such as dialogue, plot, conflict, characterization, setting/place, etc., while still relying heavily on key elements of poetry such as compressed, often impressionistic, language; rhythm; stylized line and stanza breaks; and attention to sound. We’ll strive to balance the image-charged voltage of poetry with traditionally discursive narrative strategies of fiction and creative nonfiction, focusing on the occasion of the poem, and the dramatic situation that inspired it. Participants will be provided with examples of narrative poems aimed at triggering the narrative impulse.

Register now; each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the workshop.

Joseph Bathanti is former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award for Literature. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including Communion Partners; Anson County; The Feast of All Saints; This Metal, nominated for the National Book Award, and winner of the Oscar Arnold Young Award; Land of Amnesia; Restoring Sacred Art, winner of the 2010 Roanoke Chowan Prize, awarded annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for best book of poetry in a given year; Sonnets of the Cross; Concertina, winner of the 2014 Roanoke Chowan Prize; and The 13th Sunday after Pentecost, released by LSU Press in 2016. His novel, East Liberty, won the 2001 Carolina Novel Award. His novel, Coventry, won the 2006 Novello Literary Award. His book of stories, The High Heart, won the 2006 Spokane Prize. They Changed the State: The Legacy of North Carolina’s Visiting Artists, 1971-1995, his book of nonfiction, was published in early 2007. His recent book of personal essays, Half of What I Say Is Meaningless, winner of the Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction, is from Mercer University Press. A new novel, The Life of the World to Come, was released from University of South Carolina Press in late 2014. Bathanti is Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University in Boone, and the University’s Watauga Residential College Writer-in-Residence. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville.

Upon winning the NC Award for Literature, Joseph said, "this distinction means everything, since at its heart is the dazzling and varied literary community comprised of every single writer across the state."

And he's taught—and blurbed books for—plenty.

A quick scroll through Joseph's page on shows what intense loyalty his students feel toward the man and the teacher; how influential he's been in the writing lives of his students; and the way he knows to be demanding enough to draw out a writer's best work. These are the talents of a gifted, experienced teacher.

Don't miss out on this chance to learn from one of our best living poets: register now for the Squire Summer Writing Residency.

The Squire Summer Writing Workshops offer conferencegoers the chance to study elements of one genre with one instructor over the course of the program. Attendees will work on their own manuscripts, as well as those of their peers, while also attending readings, special presentations, and taking advantage of built-in writing time, in a town TripAdvisor named the number two “diamond in the rough” for vacation destinations.

Sheryl Monks will lead the fiction course, "How Bad Things Happen to Good Characters: Compression, Tension, and Catharsis in Fiction." Eric G. Wilson will lead the class in creative nonfiction, “Creating Presence: Voice in Creative Nonfiction.”

Registration is capped at forty-two registrants, first-come, first-served. Register now.


Reenu-You by Michele Tracy Berger

Book Smugglers Publishing
$14.95, paperback / $4.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1942302483
March, 2017
Fiction: Sci-Fi / Post-Apocalyptic
Available from your local bookstore or

New York City, August 1998.

On a muggy summer day, five women wake up to discover purple scab-like lesions on their faces—a rash that pulses, oozes, and spreads in spiral patterns. City clinic doctors dismiss the women’s fears as common dermatitis, a regular skin rash. But as more women show up with the symptoms, one clear correlation emerges: an all-natural, first-of-its-kind hair relaxer called Reenu-You.

As the outbreak spreads, and cases of new rashes pop up in black and latino communities throughout New York, panic and anger also grows. When the malady begins to kill, medical providers and the corporation behind the so-called hair tonic face charges of conspiracy and coercion from outraged minority communities and leaders across the country.

At the heart of the epidemic are these five original women; each from different walks of life. As the world crumbles around them, they will discover more about each other, about themselves, and draw strength to face the future together.

Michele Tracy Berger is a professor, a creative writer, and a pug-lover. Her fiction has appeared in UnCommon Origins: A Collection of Gods, Monsters, Nature and Science by Fighting Monkey Press; You Don’t Say: Stories in the Second Person by Ink Monkey Press; Flying South: A Literary Journal; 100wordstory; Thing Magazine; and The Red Clay Review. Her nonfiction writing and poetry has appeared in The Chapel Hill News, The Red Clay Review, Glint Literary Journal, Oracle: Fine Arts Review, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, The Feminist Wire, Ms., Carolina Woman Magazine, and Western North Carolina Woman, A Letter to My Mom, and various zines. Michele is completely undone by the sight of pugs and has to restrain herself from collecting any item they appear on. Michele is a trustee of the North Carolina Writers' Network. She lives in Pittsboro with her partner Tim.

Hats Off! to Tina Barrr whose poem “Green” appears in Cleaver Magazine. To hear her on the podcast, and to hear her read the poem, click here.



The Mourning Parade by Dawn Reno Langley

Amberjack Publishing
$15.99, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-944995232
July, 2017
Fiction: Literary
Available from your local bookstore or

"I absolutely love this beautiful book. An emotional, colorful, well-balanced journey from grief to hope, a road best traveled at the mercy of nature, which Langley deftly conjures within the green-jungle magic of Thailand. Sophie is an amazing character, an elephant of both challenge and courage. I couldn't put it down."
—Shannon Kirk, international bestselling author of Method 15/33

"[Dawn Reno Langley] is an artist. I loved this book!"
Erinn's Reviews, YouTube

Single mom and veterinarian Natalie DeAngelo lost everything the day her two sons were killed in a school shooting. Following her psychiatrist's advice, she decides to sell her once-happy home to escape the immense pain and grief of living there alone.

Desperate to find relief from her unspeakable loss, Natalie impetuously commits to honoring her boys’ memory and volunteers to assist philanthropist Andrew Graham at his elephant sanctuary in northern Thailand. All she wants once she gets there is relief.

But she soon realizes she may be in over her head when she faces three major challenges: her debilitating PTSD is creating night terrors; Peter Hatcher, the sanctuary’s irascible in-house vet, has a longtime grudge against her and wants desperately for her to fail; and Sophie, a female elephant with a raging leg infection and PTSD caused by human abuse, is demanding that Natalie use every trick in her veterinarian’s black bag to heal her.

Dr. Hatcher wants to euthanize Sophie, as he claims she's a lost cause, and Natalie knows she must find a way to convince the others to let her keep trying. Can she and Sophie find a way to heal together and learn to love life again? Or will another tragedy shatter Natalie's progress?

This deeply emotional novel explores the capacity of a mother's love, the challenge of overcoming a devastating loss, and the long, tiresome journey to healing.

A writer, theater critic, mosaic artist, and educator, Dawn Reno Langley has devoted her life to literature and the arts. Born an Army brat to a WWII and Korea vet and his wife, Dawn spent her childhood scaring her younger siblings with stories of monsters under the bed. Her first published works, an essay on the Cuban missile crisis, revealed a deep sense of social justice that has never waned. Since then, she has written extensively for newspapers and magazines, has published children’s books, novels, nonfiction books, short stories, and poetry, as well as theater reviews and blogs.

A Fulbright scholar with an MFA in Fiction and a Ph.D in Interdisciplinary Studies, Langley lives in Durham, a small city where people present her with new stories every day. She is always amazed that one finds most stories in small places rather than large cities, and she appreciates the warmth of the friends she has made in the town she calls “funky/artsy.”

Hats Off! to Cindy Brookshire whose poem “Firehouse Photo” is forthcoming in Redheaded Stepchild.


Hats Off! to Sam Barbee (President), Alice Osborn (Vice President), and Ty Stumpf (At-Large Board Member), some of the incoming officers of the North Carolina Poetry Society. These new Board members will lead NCPS through the 2017-2019 term.


Hats Off! to Anne Anthony whose short story "Every Star Has A Story" was selected for the recently-released Crack the Spine print anthology, published quarterly.


CULLOWHEE—In 2013, we held the Squire Summer Writing Residency at Western Carolina University, where Kathryn Stripling Byer taught for so many years, and she led the poetry workshop at the Residency that weekend.

WCU was a welcoming host and venue, with one exception: in the building where we slept and took our classes, the air conditioning was stuck on overdrive, and we were freezing.

And then, after our first lunch together, Kay disappeared.

It’s not unusual for an instructor to isolate themselves before a workshop session, to take some time to review lesson plans or read manuscripts, so I wasn’t concerned. That’s not what Kay was doing, though. Five minutes before the workshop was to resume, Kay pulled up to the building’s back door and asked me and Charles to help unload her car.

She had driven home, collected every blanket and (of course) quilt she could find, filled her car with them, and brought them to share with her students staying in that icebox of a dorm.

Kay Byer, in everything I ever saw her do, was an elegant rebuttal of the idea that great artists have to be selfish and self-absorbed to produce work of excellence. She wrote some of the finest poetry I have ever read, and was one of the finest people I have ever known.

Kay died Monday evening of lymphoma. She was active, vital, and—in NCWN board member Nicki Leone’s phrase—“instinctively generous” almost to the very end. She led a workshop at NCWN-West’s “A Day for Writers” in Sylva only a month before she passed.

That was the last in a long, long list of services she rendered to the cause of poetry, especially in her adopted home state of North Carolina, and most especially in her beloved mountains of western North Carolina. She was instrumental in the founding of NCWN-West, the Network’s program to serve writers in the westernmost reaches of the state, and served for many years as their Jackson County Rep, organizing a monthly poetry series at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva. She served on the Network’s board, led workshops for us at several Residencies and conferences, gave keynote readings, and helped organize (and starred in) fundraisers. She won the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2001, and was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2012.

Most notably, she was the state’s first female Poet Laureate, a position she held from 2005 to 2009, and in which she was a tireless promoter of the written word, especially in the public schools.

That list is woefully abbreviated and incomplete, but the Internet only has so much room. Besides, if you are reading this, you probably don’t need me to tell you about the impact Kay Byer had. You probably felt it yourself. Her friend Lee Smith once said you can’t spit in North Carolina without hitting a writer; to that I will add that you can’t spit twice in North Carolina without hitting a writer befriended, taught, mentored, and/or inspired by Kathryn Stripling Byer.

She never shied to state her opinion and stand her ground, to use her position and influence as a Poet Laureate to bring attention to causes she found just or unjust, and she did so while being scrupulously fair, even to those she opposed. On several occasions I was happy to have her wise counsel, or just to hear her warm, kind voice in the middle of a challenging time.

I am one of a great many who will miss that voice. I will miss her counsel, and her company. I will miss the poet and teacher, advocate and activist. Mostly, though, I’m going to miss my friend.

Ed Southern
Executive Director
North Carolina Writers' Network


BOONE—"When you piece together an identity, a story of who you are, you choose only a fraction of these events as components of the narrative," says Eric G. Wilson. "The work is in progress: You revise earlier passages to conform to your current feelings....fostering awareness of the endless editing that we are always unconsciously doing anyhow, taking charge of the changes, growing responsible for them, and generously interweaving our texts into multitudinous networks of the world."

Eric will lead the Creative Nonfiction class, “Creating Presence: Voice in Creative Nonfiction,” during the North Carolina Writers' Network 2017 Squire Summer Writing Workshops, July 13-16, at Appalachian State University in Boone.

Registration is open through June 28.

The Squire Summer Writing Workshops offer conferencegoers the chance to study elements of one genre with one instructor over the course of the program. Attendees will work on their own manuscripts, as well as those of their peers, while also attending readings, special presentations, and taking advantage of built-in writing time, amid the beauty and majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Without a strong voice, prose—no matter how stylistically felicitous—feels generic, institutional, and bloodless. Animated with an engaging persona, the same words spring into an essay: idiosyncratic, imaginative, vibrant. But while essential for powerful creative nonfiction, voice is notoriously difficult to define. Sure, we say it is the personality of the writer, the unique presence, the controlling consciousness, the point of view, the constructed “I” behind the “eye,” and so on. These traditional definitions, however, are almost as vague as the term they are meant to clarify.

In Eric’s workshop, attendees work to understand voice conceptually and practically. They will discuss how important writers have understood voice as well as how it works in selected essays (including those submitted for this workshop). Registrants will also complete exercises designed to strengthen their voice. Conferencegoers should come away from the sessions with strategies for creating a more captivating verbal presence and thus more powerful essays.

Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the workshop.

Eric G. Wilson is a professor of English at Wake Forest University, an Appalachian State alumnus, and the author of five works of creative nonfiction: Keep It Fake, How to Make a Soul, Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck, The Mercy of Eternity: A Memoir of Depression and Grace, and Against Happiness. His essays have appeared or are appearing in the Portland Review, Hotel Amerika, The Fanzine, Georgia Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Oxford American, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Our State, and Chronicle of Higher Education. He has also published a volume for Muse Books: The Iowa Series in Creativity and Writing, My Business Is To Create: Blake’s Infinite Writing. His most recent book, a work of fiction called Polaris Ghost, is coming out with Outpost 19 this winter.

Joseph Bathanti will lead the class in poetry, "Writing the Longer Narrative Poem." Sheryl Monks will lead the fiction course, "How Bad Things Happen to Good Characters: Compression, Tension, and Catharsis in Fiction."

Registration is capped at forty-two registrants, first-come, first-served. Register now.

Join is for an intimate weekend talking about writing in a town TripAdvisor named the number two “diamond in the rough” for vacation destinations.


The Ridge by Steve Atkins

The Book Patch
$12.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-946982704
April, 2017
Fiction: Christian
Available from the publisher

Dan ran out and opened the car door for Trudy. He tried to act excited, hoping that would ease the blow. “Hey, honey. Welcome to our new home!”

Trudy was looking at the run-down cottage as she got out of the car. “Uh, yeah… Are you sure we are at the right place? Is this where we are supposed to live?”

“Well, sure, honey. It’s right beside the church. I know it doesn’t look like much, but we can fix it up.”


The Ridge is the first book in the Pastor Dan Series that chronicles the life of Dan Roberts and his wife, Trudy, beginning with his first pastorate shortly after he finishes Bible college.

Dan and Trudy move to a beautiful ridge in West Virginia where he assumes the pastorate of his home church where he grew up. Clearview Community Chapel is a struggling country church where Dan faces various challenges and some contentious people. Over the course of his seven years there, he grows to love all of them in spite of any differences. At the end of his tenure at Clearview, Dan feels called to a church in Mississippi which will be in book two, The Gulf.

Steve Atkins grew up as a farm boy on a ridge in West Virginia. He now resides in Eastern North Carolina where he and his wife, Rennie, own a real estate business with their son Stephen. Steve and Rennie have two adult children and nine grandchildren.

The author entered the ministry in 1984, and studied at Luther Rice Seminary, Carolina Bible Institute, and Master's International University of Divinity. Over the course of the next several years, Steve served as pastor or interim pastor at several churches.

In 1987, Steve launched a sign industry magazine, Sign Builder Illustrated. Eight years later, he sold it to a major publisher, and it is now in its 30th year and has worldwide distribution.

Steve has written many articles for Sign magazines, Christian magazines, and other publications. In 2013, he released his first novel, Dream Point, which is available at The Book Patch publishing.

Hats Off! to Suzanne Cottrell whose poem "Summer Tempest" is forthcoming in the Spring issue of Poetry Quarterly. Also her haiku with the first line "Chirping spring peepers..." has been published in issue #51 of Haiku Journal.


The Silent Appalachian by Vicki Collins

McFarland & Company, Inc
$33.00, paperback / $19.00, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-476667683
March, 2017
Literary Analysis
Available from your local bookstore or

"Collins' scholarly study focuses like a high beam flashlight on a small subset of characters, but the peripheral glow of that spotlight is unexpectedly far-reaching and illuminating."
—Vicki Lane, The Day of Small Things

"Collins delves into the complex causes of and reasons for, silent characters from an already silenced region. Her insightful analysis unveils important metaphors for power and powerlessness in literature and in Appalachian identity as a whole."
—Amanda Rachelle Warren, Ritual no. 3: For the Exorcism of Ghosts

Appalachian literature is filled with silent or non-discursive characters. The reasons for their wordlessness vary. Some are mute or pretend to be, some choose not to speak or are silenced by grief, trauma, or fear. Others mutter monosyllables, stutter, grunt and point, speak in tongues or idiosyncratic language. They capture the reader's attention by what they don't say.

Vicki Collins teaches English at the University of South Carolina Aiken where she is the director of the Writing Center. She earned her degrees at East Tennessee State University and the College of Mount St. Joseph. Her work has appeared in The Southern Poetry Anthology: North Carolina, Kakalak, MoonShine Review, and several Old Mountain Press anthologies.

Hats Off! to Jennifer Weiss whose poem "Relentless" won Third Place in the Ninth Annual Sidney Lanier Poetry Competition sponsored by the Lanier Library in Tryon.



Hats Off! to Heather Bell Adams whose "Story Behind the Story," about her debut novel, Maranatha Road, is featured on r.k.v.r.y. quarterly literary journal.


Hats Off! to Carrie Highley who was a Silver Winner in the 29th Annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards for her memoir, Blue Apple Switchback.


Hats Off! to Annie Frazier whose poem "Waterfall" won Second Place in the 2015 James Applewhite Poetry Prize and will appear in the North Carolina Literary Review 2016, out in July.


Hats Off! to Caroline Taylor whose short story "Finding Avery" was published by the Saturday Evening Post on June 24, 2016.


Hats Off! to Brenda Kay Ledford whose poem "Picnic" appears in West End Poets Newsletter (June/July/August 2016), from the Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department.


Hats Off! to Katie Winkler whose short, short story "Ballade" will appear on The Flash Fiction Press website. In addition, her adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has had its first reading and will premiere as the fall production of Blue Ridge Community College's drama department on Halloween weekend.


Anatomy of Medical Errors: The Patient in Room 2 by Donna Helen Crisp, JD, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC

Sigma Theta Tau International
$29.95, paperback / $28.45, e-book
ISBN: 978-1940446844
June, 2016
Nonfiction: Medicine
Available from your local bookstore or

“With unimaginable serenity, Crisp takes us on her Shakespearean journey with superb skill, startling courage, and searing introspection. Her nightmare reveals a frightening level of dysfunction in our increasingly impersonal medical system. In the words of Othello’s Desdemona: 'These are portents; but yet I hope, I hope, they do not point on me.' Those of us in medicine must not ignore this tragedy, or the heroine who survived it.”
—Byers W. Shaw Jr., MD, Professor, Department of Surgery University of Nebraska Medical Center

When a surgeon unknowingly damages the intestines of a nurse who expects to stay only one night after surgery, thus begins a chain of more tragic events, which cause the nurse to have five surgeries and stay a month, most of it in a coma on a ventilator.

When she awakens and realizes no one will tell her what happened, she embarks on a years' long journey to find the truth. Along the way, she discovers that hospitals can be very dangerous places, especially when corporate profit is valued higher than patient safety.

This book was written to inform and inspire the reader to be aware of the dysfunction that underpins many hospital organizations, especially teaching hospitals, including the silencing of the patient, provider arrogance, flawed coordination of care, poor communication, and lack of ownership for outcomes.

Donna Helen Crisp, JD, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC, became a nurse in 1992 after working in social work, law, and music. After earning her BSN and MSN degrees, she became a mental health Clinical Nurse Specialist in adult psychiatry. She has worked with clients of all ages in various hospitals, longterm care facilities, clinics, homes, and private practice. Whether in the role of staff nurse, supervisor, administrator, consultant, or teacher, her nursing practice of care focuses on the person's suffering.

After teaching in the community college system for five years, Donna Helen became an assistant professor at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing, where she taught for six years in the undergraduate and graduate programs. Her nursing research has focused on chronic illness, suffering, quality of life, advance directives, ethical decision-making, and forgiveness. She has taught on these topics at numerous conferences. Her abiding passion continues to focus on the recognition and amelioration of suffering, wherever it exists. She currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where she works as a nurse and writes about nursing.

Hats Off! to Michael R. Hassler whose essay “Marve[‘s summer 2016 Conversation about Race” was just published in Easy Street.


WINSTON-SALEM—Every year we receive handwritten letters from persons incarcerated in our state, asking us for help with their writing. One way or another, they have found an outlet in creative writing. They want to tell their stories, share their experiences, explain themselves to themselves and to others. They recognize that they need instruction, direction, and a helping hand.

Many of the services that once could have helped these writers no longer exist. In their absence, the Network would like to provide these incarcerated writers with “pen pal” writing tutors—experienced writers who would be willing and able to share advice, ideas, and encouragement through ongoing correspondence.

Our Mission Statement says “(t)he North Carolina Writers’ Network believes that writing is necessary both for self-expression and a healthy community, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance, and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone.”

And we mean it.

If you’re interested in helping a fellow writer in this way, please contact Ed Southern at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.and let him know. You will be able to initiate and conduct the correspondence on your own terms, and share as much or as little information as you’d like. The Network will provide training for anyone interested in participating.

Requirements? You need only provide writing tips and encouragement, the very things that all writers need, whatever their circumstances.


Hats Off! to Marilynn Barner Anselmi whose short film "You Wouldn't Expect" can be viewed online. Set in the backdrop of 1960s southern America, the film follows the horrific experiences of a mother and daughter as two of the almost 7,600 victims of the North Carolina Eugenics Program. The film was an Official Selection of the 2015 ITSA Film Festival.


Hats Off! to Joan Leotta whose ekphrastic poem "Powhattan's Mantle—Pocahantas' Magic Cloak" is forthcoming from AlgebraOwl. Another piece, "At the Flower Show," is forthcoming from Expound Magazine. And her poem "Bridge to Freedom!" will appear in Indiana Voice Journal, while her poem "Virtuoso" ran recently in the My Imaginary Skill series from Silver Birch Press.


Hats Off! to David E. Poston, who has two poems forthcoming in The Well-Versed Reader, an anthology of narrative poetry edited by Jane Shlensky and Nancy Posey.


PRISCILLA: Engaging in the Game of Politics by M.J. Simms-Maddox

M. J. Simms-Maddox, Inc. in consultation with Professional Woman Publishing, LLC
$19.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-0-578-17899-8
April, 2016
Fiction: Relationships/Politics
Available from the publisher

Set in the 1980s, PRISCILLA portrays a bright, carefree, enterprising young woman strongly bound to her father—a Methodist minister and consummate politician about who she has conflicted feelings. Shortly after she begins her career as an assistant professor of political science at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, her father mysteriously asks her to relocate closer to home (Prendergast, New York). She contacts an Ohio state senator for whom she performed an internship during her graduate studies at The Ohio State University and with whom she had an affair. The senator offers her a job as his legislative aide. She accepts. The story is off and running.

Throughout, PRISCILLA: Engaging in the Game of Politics—the series’ prequel—takes a deep look at the forces which made her what she is: her family roots in highly-segregated Mississippi, her upbringing in upstate New York where subtle racism leaves its scars despite her loving father’s protection, a campus date rape that leaves her with unhealed wounds and, a scintillating season as a high-powered legislative aide in a life-altering political scandal.

The Priscilla Trilogy is the debut for political science Professor M. J. Simms-Maddox as a fiction writer.

M. J. Simms-Maddox is a tenured-professor of political science at Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina. She earned her PhD. in political science from The Ohio State University, served as a legislative aide in the Ohio Senate, has operated a public relations agency and has published in various academic, community, and religious publications.

She is affiliated with the National Association of Professional Women, the Professional Woman Network, the North Carolina Writers' Network, and the Women’s National Book Association; and she is a founding member of the Livingstone Writers Club—an informal group of faculty whose writings cover the gamut.

In her leisure time, she enjoys reading, writing, traveling, watching culinary and travel shows, and writing; and she enjoys getting her hands dirty pulling weeds in the landscapes of her yard.

Hats Off! to Catherine Carter whose poem "First Witch" took Third Place in the Asheville Poetry Review's 2016 William Matthews Poetry Prize contest, judged by Joy Harjo.


Hats Off! to Terri Sherrill whose essay "Playing Catch" appears in Show Me All Your Scars: True Stories of Living with Mental Illness, an anthology published in June, 2016, by In Fact Books and edited by Lee Gutkind.


Satchel: A Cherokee Girl Tells All by Martha Gunsalus Chamberlain

CaryPress Publishing
$15.00, paperback / $9.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1631030208
March, 2016
Fiction: Historical
Available from your local bookstore or

This historical fiction set in nineteenth century Salem is written by Martha Gunsalus Chamberlain, just in time for the 250th anniversary of the founding of Salem, NC.

Throughout her lifetime of tragedy and triumph, the indigenous American girl Madaya carries treasured relics in her satchel that represent both her own story and those of her companions, from the Trail of Tears, back to Cherokee, and to the Moravians with whom she lived in Salem.

The story of the hunt always glorifies the hunter until the lioness tells her tale [African Proverb]. In Satchel, Madaya the lioness tells all. She reveals hidden secrets, forbidden sex, extraordinary discoveries, and lost stories of Cherokee Chief Junaluska and Squire, an enslaved African who lived among the Moravians.

Chamberlain reminds us that telling one’s story bridges the gap from past to present, connecting us not only to one another, but also to those yet unborn, lest we forget, lest we die like the endangered species we are.

“If you don’t tell it, who will?” she asks.

Martha Gunsalus Chamberlain moved from Virginia to Old Salem with her husband four years ago to research Cherokee Chief Junaluska. Finding so much more, they bought the Van Vleck house in Old Salem, built in 1831. They grasp the significance of walking "on common ground" among departed spirits and ancient bones of early settlers in this Moravian community.

A graduate of Sacred Heart School of Nursing, United Wesleyan College, and George Mason University, her other books include: A Love Affair with India and The Ultimate Flight. She nurtures the seed of telling one's own story, not only for connection to one another, but also to link past through present to those yet unborn for survival of us all.

Hats Off! to Margaret A. Harrell who was interviewed by Victoria Lynn Weston on AYRIL Talk Time radio podcast. Margaret is the author of the memoir series Keep This Quiet!, which explores her relationship with Hunter S. Thompson, and others.


Hats Off! to Brenda Kay Ledford whose poem "Light Show" is forthcoming in the Summer, 2016, issue of Westward Quarterly.


E-Book Time, LLC
$13.95, paperback / $5.95, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-60862-639-7
March, 2016
Fiction: Romance
Available from your local bookstore or

Wilderness Passion is the story of a man that had his life changed because of the horrors of war. After returning home, the emotional stress was more than he could bear. He left family, friends, and civilization and walked deep into the wilderness of Minnesota. He built a cabin on a lake and lived without seeing anyone for years. He fell in love with nature. After years of living alone he meets two men that change his life forever. Eventually he meets a woman from the city and falls madly in love. However he was a wilderness man and she was a city woman. They were so different. Would they ever see each other again? Could there be a compromise?

The cover was designed by Larry's artist/graphic designer daughter, Leonor M. Crossley.

Larry W. Fish was born and raised in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. In 2004 he moved to North Carolina with his wife Lina. First he lived in Jacksonville, NC, and in 2013 they moved to Raleigh where they now reside. Larry is a lover of animals and nature.

Chasing Chaos: A Novel by Katie Rose Guest Pryal

Velvet Morning Press
$10.99, paperback / $5.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-0692621004
June, 2016
Available from

"Pryal pierces LA’s film industry veneer to find complex and relatable characters and then winches the ties between them, pulling the reader right into the fray. The result is as psychologically astute as it is engaging."
—Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy and The Art of Falling

Love, friendship and betrayal in glamorous, yet often vicious, Hollywood.

Daphne Saito, a beautiful and talented Hollywood screenwriter, might look like she has the perfect life, but on the inside she's lost. She's wandered from one meaningless relationship to the next, and now—just as she breaks up with her longtime boyfriend Dan—she meets someone new, someone she could fall in love with. But Daphne, still traumatized by an accident involving her best friend, Greta, five years earlier, is afraid to love. Harm has always come to those close to her.

Over five life-changing days, Daphne lets her guard down and steps toward this new love. But trouble is never far behind. Dan, angry at Daphne's departure, has targeted an innocent young woman, someone close to Daphne's new love, as part of a plan for revenge. And an enigmatic woman from Daphne's past returns with a vendetta of her own. Danger is on the horizon for all of Daphne's friends—and for her.

Tana French meets Donna Tartt in this tense, evocative love story. And fans of Lisa Scottoline's Betrayed will enjoy the strong female protagonists found in Pryal's novel.

Katie Rose Guest Pryal is a novelist, freelance journalist, and sometimes lawyer in Chapel Hill. She is the author of the Entanglement Series, which includes Entanglement, Love and Entropy, and Chasing Chaos, all from Velvet Morning Press.

As a journalist, Katie contributes regularly to Quartz, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The (late, great) Toast, Dame Magazine, and more. She earned her master's degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, where she attended on a fellowship. Currently, she teaches creative writing through Duke University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, works as a writing coach and editor, and writes her next novels.

You can find Katie on Twitter at @krgpryal, on Facebook at, and on her blog at

Hats Off! to James Breeden of Durham who has stories forthcoming in the North Atlantic Review and Crime Factory.










The Way the Rain Works by Ralph Earle

Sable Books
$10.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-0-9913564-5-4
April, 2015
Available through the publisher

Winner of the 2015 Sable Books February Chapbook Contest!

"This is a deeply felt book about a family in crisis that lives inside you and lends itself to multiple readings. Sad, but not without its small, yet sustaining, redemptions: 'In the evening, overflowing with secret love,/ I dangle my feet above the receding/ spillway and listen: ripples. The moon’s/ reflection rides them like a blessing.'"
—Richard Krawiec, Women Who Loved Me Despite and She Hands Me The Razor (Press 53)

"'We pray our life will turn out right.'" This collection houses a kind of family gallery—portraits, landscapes, still lifes—and like good paintings, the poems contain not only the people, scenes, or objects being considered, but the dark shading beneath: here is a family breaking apart. Ralph Earle well knows that to husband is to manage prudently, sparingly—'If this is an emergency/I will manage'—until this husband can no longer do so. Despite broken branches, clumsy home repairs, a despairing wife, and unanswered prayers, the poet finds some solace in nature and solitude, showing us glimpses of fragile beauty: 'On the edge of the precipice, ice plants,/like clumsy fingers, encircle wildflowers.'"
—Debra Kaufman, Delicate Thefts and The Next Moment (Jacar Press)

When the Sun Reinvents Itself

My story was different from yours:
she withdrew to a nest feathered
with unread magazines, mail
cemented together by spilled tea.

I launched a personal conspiracy
to believe she was well, as if
constrained by a mask of myself,
as if the grace of our children

growing were not enough, or the safe
haven of our house in the forest.
We are not alone. It has been this way
for a long interlude of husbands,

a continent of fathers. There is no word
for the way that water clings to leaves
when the sun reinvents itself
out of the broken storm.

Ralph Earle holds a doctorate in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and for twenty-five years has worked as a technical communicator for a large software company, doing everything from editing to managing to designing complex information systems. He has taught poetry at UNC-Chapel Hill and the ArtsCenter of Carrboro, NC, and currently teaches evening poetry classes at Central Carolina Community College. He was a founding member of the North Carolina Writers' Network.

He draws much of his inspiration and imagery from long walks in the woodlands of rural Chatham County, North Carolina, where he makes his home.

His poems have appeared in many publications, including The Sun, Sufi Magazine, Tar River Poetry, Carolina Quarterly, Cairn, Wild Goose Poetry Review, and Redheaded Stepchild, as well as numerous anthologies.










Memory Cards: Portraits from a Rural Journey by Michael K. Brantley

Black Rose Writing
$15.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1612965369
June, 2015
Available from

"Michael Brantley is that rare thing these days, a writer with a true vocation. He's a born storyteller, and there's just no resisting his beguiling Southern voice. His prose is clear, fluid, and utterly unpretentious. It has an oddly hypnotic effect; a few sentences and I was under, living Brantley's rural North Carolina childhood as if it were my own."
—Emily Fox Gordon, Guggenheim Fellow and author of Book of Days, Mockingbird Years

"Michael Brantley has the eyes of a camera and the soul of a poet. His memoir Memory Cards is a gentle and memory-jogging visit to a time and a place just down the road that is fading all too quickly. Along the way, he’ll make you smile, nod, try to swallow that lump in your throat and say more than once 'Damn, I wish I’d written that.' Savor this book. Share it. It is that good."
—Dennis Rogers, columnist and author of Second Harvest, It’s Bad When the Bartender Cries

"Michael Brantley’s Memory Cards: Portraits from a Rural Journey chronicles a personal journey that takes many directions: from his growing up on a farm to working as a professional photographer, to serving as husband and father, and to practicing his art and craft of writing and teaching. There is 'something to be said for living in a remote area,' he notes about his home in North Carolina, both long ago and now, and his authentic voice, chapter after chapter, reveals the underlying power of such a place and his family. Writing memoir as well as local history, Brantley revisits his own past in articulate, unflinching prose, telling fine stories with a sharp eye for what remains essential and worth saving."
—James McKean, author of Homestand and We are the Bus

Memory Cards is a journey down a dusty rural road, but also back in time to where as late as the 1980s, neighbors still used mules for transportation and outhouses for other necessities. There is plenty to see, hear and smell, from the oppressive heat and pungent smell of row upon row of tobacco, to the mobile library that brought air conditioning and the aroma of paper, glue, and binding each week of the summer. The author grew up in a functional family, but with different interests than his siblings, particularly ones that offered unknown prospects. As the road from the farm widens, readers encounter firebrand preachers, snake-handling churches, guns, baseball, Baptists, Coca-Cola, Elvis, suicides, mysterious deaths, PTSD, houses inhabited by haints, pork barbecue, tea cookies, cornbread, fishing, arrowheads, ice hockey, and basketball.

Michael K. Brantley is a North Carolina-based writer and currently works as a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at North Carolina Wesleyan College. His first book, Memory Cards: Portraits from a Rural Journey, was released on June 11 by Black Rose Writing.

Michael worked as freelance writer with over twenty-five years experience, having for national, regional, and state publications covering music, sports, farming, and business and was an award-winning professional photographer.

He he has an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University in Charlotte, NC, an MA in English from East Carolina University, and a BS in Communications from Barton College. PPA has awarded him the Master of Photographer Degree, Craftsman.

He founded and edits the literary journal, What The Fiction. His creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry has most recently been published or is forthcoming in The First Day, The Dunes Review, Wordriver, Bartleby Snopes, Revolution House, Short, Fast, and Deadly, The Cobalt Review, and Prime Number Magazine.

Michael lives with his wife and three children in eastern North Carolina, down a rural road, on a plot that used to be part of his family's farm.

Hats Off! to Joan Leotta who had five poems accepted for an international, English-language anthology: Gust of Wits. Also, her poem "Red Hawk" will appear in the August issue of the Indiana Voice Journal.


Hats Off! to Anne Anthony whose 150-word flash fiction piece, "The Chase," won A3 Review’s Monthly Writing Contest. The theme was "Playground." Her story will be published in September.











Midnight Stroll by Steve Cushman

Finishing Line Press
$12.49, paperback
September, 2015
Available for pre-order from the publisher

"After reading Steve Cushman's poems in Midnight Stroll, I couldn't help but feel privileged to have 'walked the dark night' with this fine poet, while 'all around us the world slept.' These tender portraits of people he loves and others who have touched his life, seem like the soft whispers and revelations between the closest of friends in the most vulnerable of hours, yet the themes are universal and infinitely relatable. '...all I ever wanted/was to get to the heart of things,' read the last lines of 'Sophomore Biology.' In this poignant, compassionate collection, he has done so."
—Terri Kirby Erickson, author of A Lake of Light and Clouds

"Steve Cushman’s glittering, deeply affecting poetry possesses a Raymond Carver-esque urgency in which so much depends on the flight of a golf ball, a plum fight between spouses, and a nibbled bologna sandwich. With a poet’s surgical precision and his novelist’s knack for narrative, Cushman explores the grimness of hospital work, the vicissitudes of marriage, and his aching love for his son. In these slices of life, which are intensely personal and universal, Cushman’s drive is to find the 'beating heart' of reality. Midnight Stroll excels in its evocation of adolescent angst and adult wonder. You will recognize yourself in both the shadows and the light along Cushman’s walk, and his quest for meaning will remind you of the occasional magic in everyday life."
—Michael Gaspeny, author of Vocation


Out Back, Behind The Hospital

We shared cigarettes and jokes
talked about anything except
what we'd seen, the baby we'd X-rayed,
his bruises, his broken arm,
the way he'd opened his mouth to cry
but no sound came, his tears, his eyes wide
but still he didn't make a sound.
At 2 months old, he'd already learned
the importance of silence, so out back
behind the hospital, Fred and I talked
about the Super Bowl, where we'd
like to go skiing, our plans for the weekend,
anything but what we'd seen yet had no words for.

Steve Cushman earned his MA in Creative Writing from Hollins University, and an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the author of two novels, Portisville and Heart With Joy, as well as the short-story collection, Fracture City. His poetry chapbook, Hospital Work, was published in 2013. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife and his son. Website:










Heroes without Capes by Alice Osborn

Main Street Rag
$12.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-59948-539-3
October, 2015
Available for pre-order from the publisher

"These poems by Alice Osborn—a number of them wonderfully hybrid and distinctive in form—draw a steady bead on heroes and the heroic and, within that malleable context, the anti-hero as well. Heroes without Capes deftly imagines a hierarchy where the fanciful as well as the mundane are rendered not only heroic, but mythic. The language is tough, sanguine, funny and, above all, memorable. This is a strong book of poems."
—Joseph Bathanti

"There’s never a dull moment in Alice Osborn’s Heroes without Capes. The voices she creates for well-known characters, real or fairy tale types, are clever, often packed with sardonic humor. Then there’s the voice of Nolan, the split foyer in a home for sale! Osborn moves from heroes to anti-heroes, family to Boba Fett. It’s an amazing book with easy chuckles, finely tuned and plumbed."
—Sara Claytor

"Alice Osborn’s Heroes without Capes proves that anybody—even you—can be somebody’s hero. The quest is the thing, the struggle against daunting obstacles. Osborn catches her heroes in make-or-break situations from which there is no turning back. Good guys and bad, the characters range from historical figures like LBJ, Dick Cheney, and Captain Bligh to sci-fi characters from Star Wars and Predator, and a few inanimate objects: an airplane and a house. In her fast-paced, well-crafted, and boisterously entertaining narrative poems, Osborn manages to give all her heroes their distinct voices while never losing her own."
—Richard Allen Taylor

Cooper River Bridge

Alongside thousands
of other bridge runners,
our bodies block the clear Charleston
sky and sea, as the eroding marshland
curls green beneath.

This pylon of silver,
its rivets like buttons on an old man’s plaid shirt.
Billed birds cry to their companions,
scraping the brown muck of pluff mud
from their wings. That musty smell’s
all in my drinking water,
algae compounds leaving spots on my wine glass.
They say refrigerate your tap water—
for a nice, clean taste.

Where would the Holy City
be without its liquid economic engine,
but also its brakes—high tides flood
downtown streets anytime it rains more than an inch.
Rain bombs overload the drainage systems.
And it’s only going to get hotter.

I wipe sweat, adjust my hair clip.
A fellow runner in jean shorts and a dirty tank top praises,
“Thank you, Jesus!” as we lean our feet
into that first grueling hill,
built to accommodate container ships,
their holds grabbing nothing
but air and steel, port and prayer.

Alice Osborn’s past educational and work experience is unusually varied, and it now feeds her work as a poet, as well as an editor-for-hire and popular writing coach. In the past decade, Alice has taught classes and writing workshops to thousands of aspiring authors of nearly all ages from nine to ninety both around the corner and internationally. Previous poetry collections are After the Steaming Stops, Unfinished Projects, and Right Lane Ends. Alice is also the editor of the anthologies Tattoos and Creatures of Habitat, both from Main Street Rag. A North Carolina Writers’ Network board member and a Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in the News and Observer, The Broad River Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Soundings Review, and in numerous journals and anthologies. When she’s not editing or writing, Alice is an Irish dancer, and plays guitar and violin. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband, two children and four very messy and loud birds. Visit Alice's website at

Hats Off! to Kim Church whose debut novel Byrd was a finalist for the Balcones Fiction Prize, awarded annually to a work of literary fiction, and won the Independent Publisher Book Award Bronze Medal for Literary Fiction.


Hats Off! to Eric Roe whose short story "Notes from Lazarus" won the 2015 Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction, sponsored by The Bellingham Review. The story will be published in the Spring 2016 issue.


Hats Off! to Alice Osborn whose new poetry collection, Heroes without Capes (Main Street Rag), is forthcoming in October. "In her fast-paced, well-crafted and boisterously entertaining narrative poems, Osborn manages to give all her heroes their distinct voices while never losing her own" (Richard Allen Taylor).











Barefoot to Avalon: a Brother's Story by David Payne

Grove Atlantic Press
$26.00, hardcover / $12.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-0-802123541
August, 2015
Available from your local bookstore or

"There's a novelistic intensity to the story, with Payne dwelling on vivid recollected scenes, recreating their atmospherics and teasing out every buried emotional tremor and element of foreshadowing, but his prose also has the rawness of a confessional... Writing with a mixture of clear-eyed realism and lyrical elegy, Payne shows how a family's pain, resentment, and loss get transmuted into love."
Publishers Weekly

"A major achievement and a whole new standard for memoir—Barefoot to Avalon is brave and brilliant, deep and true. Payne has tried to get the whole universe on the head of a pin, and done a fine job of it."
——Lee Smith, Guests on Earth

"Barefoot to Avalon is one of the most powerful and penetrating memoirs I’ve ever read; it is fiercely honest, deeply engaging, and utterly heartbreaking."
——Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City

“A defining voice for his generation…Payne is extraordinarily gifted."
Boston Globe

"I begin with what may seem a bold observation: David Payne is the most gifted American novelist of his generation.”"
——The Dallas Morning News

In 2000, while moving his household from Vermont to North Carolina, author 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, and flipped over in the road. David’s life hit a downward spiral. From a cocktail hour indulgence, his drinking became a full-blown addiction. His career entered a standstill. His marriage disintegrated. He found himself haunted not only by George A.’s death, but also by his brother’s manic depression, a condition that overlaid a dark family history of mental illness, alcoholism, and suicide, an inherited past that now threatened David’s and his children’s futures. The only way out, he found, was to write about his brother.

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. Barefoot to Avalon is a brave and beautifully wrought gift, a true story of survival in the face of adversity.

David Payne is the New York Times Notable author of five novels and a memoir, Barefoot to Avalon, which Jay McInerney calls, "one of the most powerful and penetrating memoirs I’ve ever read; it is fiercely honest, deeply engaging, and utterly heartbreaking."

Payne was born in Chapel Hill and grew up in Henderson, North Carolina, a small tobacco town on the fall line between the Piedmont and the coastal plain. He attended the Phillips Exeter Academy and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he graduated from with highest honors in creative writing.

After college, Payne worked as a cabinet maker and commercial fisherman while completing his first novel. Published in 1984, Confessions of a Taoist on Wall Street received the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award, became a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and was translated into several European languages.

Between 1985 and 2000, Payne lived in Manhattan and Vermont, where he wrote and published Early from the Dance, Ruin Creek, and Gravesend Light. In 2000, he moved to Hillsborough, NC, where he completed Back to Wando Passo. Of this novel—Payne’s fifth—Pat Conroy wrote: "Back to Wando Passo quivers with authentic life and is so bold in concept and audacious in scope that it seems like the summing up and exclamation point of a great writer’s career. The novel contains everything."

Payne has written for Libération, The Washington Post, The Oxford American, and other publications and has taught at Bennington, Duke, and Hollins. He is a founding faculty member in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Queens University of Charlotte. He lives in Hillsborough with his family.

His website is:

Hats Off! to David Payne whose memoir Barefoot to Avalon was named an August Indie Next Pick by the American Booksellers Association.










The Vishnu Bird by Kathryn Stripling Byer

Jacar Press
$10.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-0-989795272
May, 2015
Available at your local bookstore or the publisher

The Vishnu Bird is both a memorial and a memoir in lyric poetry. This clean-spoken, deeply-felt chapbook remembers the poet’s dear friend by tracing his vocation of anthropology, and honoring his spiritual depth, through vignettes from the speaker’s own past. Yet if this is a collection of last things, and past things, it also imagines next things.

"The Vishnu Bird is above all a book of making—fabrics and lyrics, images, and memories—whose textures are richly humane. Kathryn Stripling Byer’s elegiac articulations become, like all true poetry, ‘the hoop / in which we cast our stories’ in order to ‘hold [us] fast.’”
—David Baker

A native of Georgia, Kathryn Stripling Byer has lived in the western North Carolina mountains since receiving a graduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she studied with Allen Tate, Robert Watson, and Fred Chappell. Her several books of poetry have received honors from the Associated Writing Programs, the Academy of American Poets, the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. She is a 2012 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame and former North Carolina Poet Laureate.


Hats Off! to Joan Leotta whose short story "A Glass of Water" received an honorable mention in the Pikes Peak Pen Women's Flash Fiction Contest. The story will be included on their website.


Hats Off! to Wayne Drumheller, a North Carolina-based photojournalist, writer, and photographer, who is the Featured Artist at the Burlington Artists League Gallery in Burlington during the month of June. The exhibit will feature thirty-seven matted and frames photographs and 5x7 and 6x9 signature prints from his soon-to-be released book, A Photographer’s Notebook: My Journey Into Everyday Life. The book is a 197-page photographic exposé with notes, prose, and reflections on his life as a photojournalist, writer, and photographer from 1963 to the present. Wayne is Vice President of the NCWN Board of Trustees.


Hats Off! to Rebecca Duncan, Janet Hartman, and Katherine Wolfe—finalists all in the 2015 Carteret Writers 24th Annual Writing Contests. Rebecca, of Trent Woods, won Second Place in the Flash Fiction category for “Middle Girl." Beaufort's Janet Hartman received an Honorable Mention in the Fiction category for her short story “Paul and Miriam.” And Katherine, of Goldsboro, claimed Second Place in the Poetry category for “Christmas Pie.”


Hats Off! to Carol Roan whose short story "The Designer" appears in Fractal Magazine (USC). Also, her essay "Waiting for Marshall" appears in the anthology Lonely Whale Memoir (Chatsworth Press, 2015).











Commitment by Phyllis Kirks Crabb

Dog Ear Publishing
$14.95, paperback / $9.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-4575-3427-0
March, 2015
Fiction: Family / Religious
Available from your local bookstore or

Precocious, naive Darla Mae Deacons often wakes up screaming in her rural Virginia home about her visions of a fiery pit, a redheaded woman, and a white-gloved hand. She is keeping secrets that could tear her family apart.

Hers is a timeless story of finding one's way through impossible quandaries—overzealous neighbors, conflicting loyalties to both a black friend and a racist relative, and her older brother's possible death. She is tempted to make a deal with God, until one Sunday morning, when her soul searching comes to a shocking conclusion.

Phyllis Kirks Crabb holds a bachelor's and a master's degree from Radford College, now Radford University. Born and raised in rural southern Virginia, Phyllis experienced first-hand the farm life of the 1950s, enabling her to bring the fictional community of MacKenzie and its lovable, believable characters to life. She also credits teachers, friends, and family with providing inspiration, encouragement, and critical reviews that ultimately led to the publication of this book.

Hats Off! to Joan Leotta whose 21-word short story, “At the Farm Stand,” is forthcoming in Penny Dreadful.











Acquisition by Renee Canter Johnson

The Wild Rose Press
$16.99, paperback / $4,99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-62830-583-8
November, 2014
Fiction: Romance
Available from

Strong female and alpha male battle for a company in the heat of the south. Can a professional woman fall in love with the alpha male she’s devouring? Intrigue, innuendo, secrets, danger, and the past, devour hero and heroine as they discover things aren't quite as they appear.

Amanda Lassiter, divorced and now married to her job, needs her first solo endeavor at managing an acquisition to go smoothly. With a promotion dangling, she heads to North Carolina where she is faced with the choice of doing the right thing or following her boss' orders. Will the conflict spiral her downward into her previously defeated eating disorder?

The economy, among other issues, has forced Reece Jordan to accept the take-over of his company. For the benefit of his employees, he’s prepared to go toe-to-toe with the mogul behind the acquisition, but not with the beautiful, multi-layered woman sent in his place.

Temptations mount, secrets are revealed, and nothing turns out the way it was planned.

Renee Canter Johnson is the author of Acquisition (The Wild Rose Press, 2014) and The Haunting of William Gray, expected to be released in 2015, also published by The Wild Rose Press.

She authors two blogs: focuses on her journey as a writer and for travel, photography, and random observations on life. Her travel articles, essays, and short stories have appeared on sites including Bonjour Paris, Storyhouse, and Study Abroad.

Renee lives on a mountain in North Carolina with her husband, Tony, and one very spoiled German shepherd named Gretel. In addition to NC Writers' Network, she is a member of Romance Writers of America and She Writes. You can follow her on Twitter at @writingfeemail and on Facebook at

Hats Off! to Michael R. Hassler of Garner who won second prize in the nonfiction category of the Carteret Writers 2015 contest for his essay "I Find Myself at 7:00".


Hats Off! to Charles "LC" Fiore whose short story, "In Limbo," was featured in an excerpt on the Tuscany Press, LLC website.


Hats Off! to Janet Joyner whose poetry collection, Waterborne, won the Holland Prize and will be published by Logan House Press in late summer or early fall.


Hats Off! to Carol Roan whose essay "Living Art" appears in Pythia: A Journal of Arts, Literature, and Spirituality.


Hats Off! to Esther Whitman Johnson and Dawn Reno Langley who won First and Second Place, respectively, in the 2015 Memoirs Contest from The Writers' Workshop. Johnson, of Roanoke, VA, won for her essay "A Box of Chocolates in China." Langley, of Roxboro, was named First Runner-Up for her essay, "Amtrak to Boston."


Hats Off! to Jeanne Julian of New Bern and Jennifer Weiss of Cary who claimed Second and Third Place, respectively, in the 2015 Poetry Contest sponsored by The Writers' Workshop. Julian's poem was "Found," and Weiss' poem was "Tomes and Ducks."











Seeking Affection by Ann Dickson

6.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-63062-003-5
April, 2015
Fiction: Romance
Available at

An affair and a divorce lead to a lawsuit based on a North Carolina law that allows a rejected spouse to sue the outside person blamed for the breakup of the marriage. The story chronicles the unraveling of a marriage and the pain and animosity of divorce.

Emily Chambers, a thirty-something stay-at-home mom in Wilmington, North Carolina, is married to Josh Chambers, who works long hours providing locations for movie production companies. She thinks she is happily married until she meets charismatic and handsome Andy Bennett at a party hosted by Wilmington’s film studio.

Sparks fly between Emily and Andy and they embark on an affair. Emily becomes aware of her hidden marital dissatisfaction and unhappiness, and her passionate love-making with Andy elevates her sexual gratification to a new level.

When Josh finds out about the affair, he leads Emily to their Baptist minister for counseling, but Emily chooses divorce. Seeking revenge, Josh sues Andy, the scion of a wealthy real estate family, and Andy’s financial well-being is in the hands of a jury.

Ann Dickson lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, but spent most of her adult life in Rochester, New York. After obtaining a Master's Degree in English from the University of Rochester, she wrote feature articles for a weekly newspaper and worked for twenty years as a technical writer. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in history, Cum Laude, from Ohio University, and is working on a historical novel about Varina Davis, the wife of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy.

She wrote Seeking Affection after serving on a jury in a case based on the North Carolina law that allows a rejected spouse to sue the third party involved in an affair. Only seven states allows such action.

She has also published a travel book, A Slice of the Big Apple: Three Seasons in Manhattan, which is an account of the seven months she and her husband lived a block from Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. It is available on Amazon for $3.99.

Hats Off! to Laurence Holden whose illustrated poem "This Line Drawn" appears in the current online issue of Eyedrum Periodically, Issue 7.











Guardian by A.L. Crouch

$7.99, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-483528229
May, 2014
Fiction: Thriller
Available from the author and

"Couldn't stop reading! Page to page kept me on the edge of my seat...excellent ending!"
—Jaime Casada

"What an awesome book! Kept me in suspense the whole time. I cannot WAIT for the next one!"
—Sean Avent

"As an avid reader this book was one of the best I have read in a while. The story grabbed me from the first chapter and kept me reading until the end. Even when I thought I had it figured out, it still threw me for a loop at the end. The best combination of thriller and spiritual ever written. This one is definitely a must read!"
—Keisha Rock

Alex Nolan wants nothing more than to forget Saluda, North Carolina, and the devastation she suffered there. But when she is called back to the sleepy mountain town to reclaim her family home, she is forced to face her fears and the memories she has tried so desperately to suppress. When the same evil that murdered her family returns, Alex must learn to rely on her broken faith and the strength of her Guardian, Donovan, to survive. But there is a problem—Alex cannot see him. Donovan exists in a reality apart from Alex and her lack of belief limits their interactions to spoken words and fleeting glimpses. When nothing is what is seems and seeing is believing, can Alex open her mind enough to see before it's too late? Guardian is a heart-pounding story of loss and redemption with more unexpected twists and turns than a dark mountain highway.

A.L. Crouch, author of the Guardian series, graduated with honors from North Carolina State University with a degree in English. She currently teaches high school creative writing in her hometown of Cary, North Carolina. She is a member of the North Carolina Writers' Network and spends her summers off from teaching formulating tales of suspense and the supernatural. When she's not at work raising up young writers or keeping her readers jumping, she is spending time with her husband and two sons exploring the majestic mountains or the alluring coasts of North Carolina.

Hats Off! to Maureen Sherbondy who discussed her new poetry collection, Beyond Fairy Tales, on WUNC's The State of Things with Frank Stasio.











The Tiger Whisperer by Belea T. Keeney

JMS Books
$14.50, paperback / $6.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-611525908
June, 2014
Fiction: Thriller/Action-Adventure/Animals
Available from your local bookstore and

 A man. A tiger. A tornado.

Jared Montaine owns a big cat rescue in Florida and faces financial pressures, getting over his ex-wife, and the challenge of suburbia creeping ever closer to his enclave for the animals. But when a tornado wrecks part of the refuge, Jared's worst fear comes to life: his Siberian tiger, Sultan, escapes.

It's a big cat handler’s nightmare: a tiger on the loose, confused, lost—and hungry.

Jared races against the police, the media, and the hysterical public, all of whom are clamoring for the tiger's hide. He must re-capture Sultan before the cat is killed—by traffic, by SWAT, or by a civilian who just wants to shoot a tiger. With fellow wildlife handlers at his side, Jared fights desperately to find and capture Sultan before the tiger injures or kills a human. Because that would lead to his worst nightmare—having to kill the tiger he hand-raised from a cub. Jared’s commitment is tested—to his animals, his refuge, and his belief that saving the life of even one tiger is worth losing everything.

Belea T. Keeney was born and raised in the balmy tropics of Florida and still dreams of velvet-humid nights, the smell of orange blossoms, and the croak of alligators. Her writing has appeared in Florida Horror: Dark Tales from the Sunshine State, The Beast Within, Sniplits, Boundoff, WordKnot, along with many other outlets. Her stories have placed in the Writers in Paradise Short Story competition, the 2010 Florida Review Editor's Choice Award, the 2007 Left Coast Writing Contest, and the 2011 Saints & Sinners Literary Festival. She works as an editor and spends her time off collecting caladiums, feeding birds, and, of course, reading.

For more information, please visit

Hats Off! to Mark Cox who ruminates on family and parenthood in three short prose pieces in the Spring, 2014, issue of Crazyhorse.


Hats Off! to Joan Leotta whose poem, "Leaving Sunset Beach," and one of her sunset photos will be on the cover of the July issue of Righter Monthly Review. Also, her essay "To Fly," about her first car, is forthcoming in the July issue of Sasee magazine.


SOUTHERN PINES, NC—On Sunday, October 12, at 2:00 pm, four poets will be inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.

Betty Adcock, Ronald H. Bayes, Jaki Shelton Green, and Shelby Stephenson will be honored in a ceremony at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines. They will join the fifty-three inductees currently enshrined.

The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame celebrates and promotes the state’s rich literary heritage by commemorating its leading authors and encouraging the continued flourishing of great literature. Inductions are held every other year. A list of inductees, as well as samples of their work and video clips of past inductions, can be found online at

Largely self-educated—she has no degrees—Betty Adcock studied and wrote poetry through early marriage, early motherhood, and more than a decade working in the business world. After her first book was published, she held a teaching residency for a semester at Duke University. Other residencies followed, culminating in an ongoing position as Writer in Residence at Meredith College in Raleigh, where she taught until 2006 and twice held the Mary Lynch Johnson Professorship. She is the author of six poetry collections and the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the North Carolina Medal for Literature, among many other honors and awards.

Ronald H. Bayes is the Writer-in-Residence and Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing Emeritus at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg. His collection Greatest Hits 1960-2002 was published by Pudding House Publications in 2003, following Chainsong for the Muse (Northern Lights Press, 1993). His poetry has appeared in Cold Mountain Review, Crucible, Northwest Review, Oyster Boy Review, Pembroke Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Prism International, Solo, and TriQuarterly.



Jaki Shelton Green is a writer and activist. She received the North Carolina Award for Poetry in 2003. She has published four books of poetry through Carolina Wren Press: Dead on Arrival (1977, and reprinted in 1983 and 1996), Conjure Blues (1996), singing a tree into dance (2003), and Breath of the Song: New and Selected Poems (2005). Her works have been choreographed and performed by many renowned dance companies. She is a lifelong human services advocate; she has worked with Legal Services, and on issues such as domestic violence. She is an advocate for women, children and the mentally ill. Additionally, she has used poetry and art as a healing and empowerment tool for disenfranchised populations such as the homeless, the newly literate, and incarcerated women. She was the 2009 Piedmont Laureate, and lives in Mebane.

Shelby Stephenson has published many collections of poems, plus the poetic documentary Plankhouse (with photos by Roger Manley). Shelby is former editor of Pembroke Magazine. His Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize, judged by Allen Grossman. Stephenson’s latest collection, The Hunger of Freedom (2014), is from Red Dashboard ( Shelby's website is

The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame was founded in 1996, under the leadership of poet laureate Sam Ragan, and is a program of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Since 2008, the Network and the Weymouth Center collaborate with the North Carolina Center for the Book, the North Carolina Humanities Council, and the North Carolina Collection of the Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill to produce the induction ceremony and to promote the NCLHOF and North Carolina’s literary heritage.


Hats Off! to Brenda Kay Ledford whose photo and essay about Hayesville, NC, appeared on "The Picture Postcards Project."


Hats Off! to Kim Church who was interviewed on "Who's Talking with D.G. Martin" on 97.9 FM WCHL. Kim is a Raleigh attorney whose stories and poetry have appeared in Shenandoah, Mississippi Review, and Painted Bride Quarterly. Her debut novel is Byrd.








If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant by Ellen Fischer

Scarletta Press
$14.95, paperback / $9.95, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-938063-39-8
July, 2014
Children's: Picture Book
Available from your local bookstore or

Slurp! Munch! Crunch!

Would an armadillo order spaghetti with meatballs if she went to a restaurant? No way! She would order a plate of ants and worms.

Through a series of questions and answers, readers learn about animals, where they live and what they eat. And in the end, you might find yourself asking just what you might like to order.

Ellen Fischer was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but has lived in North Carolina for over thirty years. She graduated from Washington University with a degree in Speech and Hearing and taught special need children for over twenty years. She loves writing for children and if she can make them laugh even better. If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant is Ellen's sixth picture book. She lives in Greensboro, NC.











 The Scarlet Wench by M.K. Graff

Bridle Path Press
$12.00, paperback / $6.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-0-9852331-7-4
May, 2014
Fiction: Mystery; Amateur Sleuth; Police Procedural
Available from the publisher or

"The Scarlet Wench has all the ingredients of a good read: atmospheric setting, intriguing characters, complex plot and excellent writing."
—British mystery author Rebecca Tope

"M. K. Graff does it again with another compelling and intriguing Nora Tierney classic. As always, the characters are multifaceted, the plot twists are unpredictable and intriguing, and the backdrop of Ramsey Lodge in Bowness-on-Windermere will make you want to hop a plane for the U.K. locale. The Scarlet Wench is another winner!"
—P.M. Terrell, award-winning author of Vicki's Key, The Tempest Murders, and River Passage

"A lively cast of characters, an intriguing mystery and a heroine you have to love ... M. K. Graff does it again, with a new novel you can't put down!"
—Susan Sloate, bestselling author of Forward to Camelot and Stealing Fire

In this third Nora Tierney Mystery, American writer Nora awaits the arrival of a traveling theatre groups that will stage Noel Coward's play Blithe Spirit at Ramsey Lodge, her temporary home in Cumbria. Her son now six months old, Nora must juggle parenting with helping her illustrator friend Simon Ramsey run the lodge. She's also hoping to further her relationship with the only lodge guest not in the cast: DI Declan Barnes, ostensibly there from Oxford on a hiking trip. When a series of pranks and accidents escalate to murder during a flood that strands everyone, Nora realizes her child is in jeopardy and determines to help Declan unmask a killer.

M.K. Graff is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney Mysteries, set in England. She is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and effective critique methods. A member of Sisters in Crime, Graff writes the weekly crime review blog, Auntie M Writes ( and conducts the Writers Read program in Belhaven, NC. A frequent workshop leader and creating writing teacher, Graff has also published creative nonfiction, essays and poetry and wrote for seven years for Mystery Review magazine.

Hats Off! to Heather Bell Adams of Raleigh whose short story "This Month's Fall Look" is forthcoming in Clapboard House and whose short story "Out at Poplar Springs" is a Top Ten Finalist for Southern Writers Magazine's 2014 Short Story Contest.


Scott HulerRALEIGH, NC—Registration for the 2014 Squire Summer Writing Residency closes June 25. On-site registration will not be available, so now is the time to sign up for the Network's coziest and most intense writing conference of the year.

Click here to register now.

The Squire Summer Writing Residency, held July 10-13 on the campus of William Peace University in Raleigh, offers a focused course in a chosen genre (fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry), with fifteen hours of workshop sessions over the four days of the program. Registrants work in-depth on their own writing, as well as their colleagues’, while also studying the principles of the genre with their instructor. Other features include faculty readings, panel discussions, and open mic sessions for residents.

“The Squire Summer Writing Residency may be the most fun the Network has,” NCWN executive director Ed Southern said. “Registrants tend to form close bonds that last long after the Residency is over.”

Former Piedmont Laureate Scott Huler will lead the track in Creative Nonfiction. He has written six books of creative nonfiction, most recently On the Grid (Rodale, 2010), about the infrastructure systems that make our world work. He has written about everything from the death penalty to bikini waxing (he likes to say he is for one and against the other), with his essays and reporting appearing in newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times and in magazines like ESPN, Backpacker, and Forbes. He contributes writing and video regularly to Our State and Walter magazines.

Randall KenanRandall Kenan, a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will lead the fiction workshop. He is the author of a novel, A Visitation of Spirits; two works of nonfiction, Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century and The Fire This Time; and a collection of stories, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Whiting Writers’ Award, the North Carolina Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Rome Prize.

Shelby Stephenson, who will be inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in October, will lead the poetry workshop. He has published many collections of poems, plus the poetic documentary Plankhouse (with photos by Roger Manley). Shelby is former editor of Pembroke Magazine. His Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize, judged by Allen Grossman. Stephenson’s latest collection, The Hunger of Freedom (2014), is from Red Dashboard.

Shelby StephensonAdmission is limited to the first fifty registrants. And while workshops are at the heart of the conference programming, the weekend is a “residency” in the sense that attendees will enjoy meals together and have the option of staying overnight in on-campus accommodations. Free WiFi and parking are available.

Plus, conference-goers will benefit from being a short walk from many historical and cultural sites in downtown Raleigh. Karen Wells, Executive Director of ARTS North Carolina, will lead a Table Talk in a special program on Friday night.

Registration for the 2014 Squire Summer Writing Residency is open now through June 25.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit


Hats Off! to Heather Bell Adams of Raleigh whose short story "Blue Eyes" will appear in the July issue of Hermeneutic Chaos and whose short story "Prognosis" won the 53-Word Story Contest for the month of May, sponsored by Press 53 and judged by Kim Wright.











In a Country None of Us Called Home: Poems by Peg Bresnahan

Press 53
$14.95, paperback
ISBN 978-1-941209-01-1
May, 2014
Available from your local bookstore or

“Welcome to Bresnahan country! It’s a place at once real and mystical, familiar and strange. There are open plains, foreign settings, the Great Lakes, forests, and mountains. Peg Bresnahan looks closely at her surroundings, especially animals and citizens of all ages in her densely populated country. There’s the woman who listens to the televangelist, the rescue dog, the unexpected opera singer, the unnamed whistler, the girls who put radium on their tongues, the woman looking for her son’s grave. Bresnahan writes with compassion and affection, but there’s often something unsettling, maybe even too frightening to be more than implication. Her country cannot be called home. Her discomfort, her edginess, is subtle, yet always there. ‘Each heart knew its own breaking,’ she writes in ‘At the Jordan Street Café.’ Bresnahan has a unique voice, a true sense of poetic cadence and story, an understanding of the life sequence. She has put the whole world, even with its evanescence, into this fine collection. In 'Slipstream,' wondering who will die first, she or one whom she addresses, she says ‘. . . If you do go before me, / I will give away your empty shoes.’ But her country will remain.”
—Anne Harding Woodworth, author of The Artemis Sonnets, Etc.

“What a true gift we have in Peg Bresnahan’s dazzling new collection, In a Country None of Us Called Home. The narrative voice in these poems has a focus that is honest, steady, and absolutely clear. There is also a sharpness of observation (and of implication), as when the poet comments on the everyday birds of Sri Lanka that hover daily in smoke, insignificant and scientifically unnamed. But they too carry their own signature, ‘since they always wake at dawn,/ fly to burning fields /and sleep at night/ wrapped in wings/ the color of tropical seas.’ This poet’s gift is to offer the ordinary a moment of uniqueness that each life deserves. This collection indeed is a gallery of the extraordinary and small planted in time—a vision that perhaps only the photographer or poet can arrest perfectly. Inspiration radiates from every life and distant land visited in this eloquent book of poems.”
—Katherine Soniat, author of The Swing Girl

“‘When the unthinkable/begins, haven’t people always filled/their arms, carts, carriages, cars/with what they couldn’t leave?’ This evocative and heart-rending question is followed by the even more poignant one— ‘Who’s to say what I’ll grab first/when the sirens wail?’ Peg Bresnahan’s In a Country None of Us Called Home, is, itself, the answer to that question. Bresnahan shares with her lucky readers intimate explorations of the things she cannot leave behind. This is one of the most beautifully crafted and deeply moving collections I have read in a long time. If and when ‘the sirens wail,’ this will be one of the books I grab first.”
—Cathy Smith Bowers, author of The Collected Poems of Cathy Smith Bowers and Poet Laureate of North Carolina, 2010-2012

In a Country None of Us Called Home is Peg Bresnahan’s second collection of poetry. Her work has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and received her MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.

She moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina and the land of waterfalls from the Door County Peninsula of Wisconsin, exchanging what she thinks of as the horizontal water of Lake Michigan for water that is decidedly vertical. She is a past board member of the Friends of DuPont Forest where she lives next to DuPont State Recreational Forest in Cedar Mountain with her husband, sculptor Dan Bresnahan, their dog and two cats.

Hats Off! to Valerie Nieman. Six poems from her novel-in-verse, The Leopard Lady Speaks, will be published in the Summer 2014 issue of The Missouri Review. A seventh poem earlier appeared in TMR poem of the week feature.










Thoughts to Fold into Birds by Julie Funderburk

Unicorn Press
$12, paperback / $20, hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-87775-924-9
May, 2014
Available from the publisher

In Thoughts to Fold into Birds, Julie Funderburk writes about the connection between childhood and what comes after. Memory blooms into mythology in these poems about metaphorical figures and landscapes of the mind. The elegant and compact narratives in these poems are grounded in the coastal carolina’s wind, sun, and sea.

Julie Funderburk’s poetry has been published in 32 Poems, Best New Poets, Blackbird, The Cincinnati Review, and Ploughshares. She holds an MFA from the Writing Program at UNC Greensboro. The poetry editor of storySouth, she is the recipient of scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She sits on the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Writers' Network. She lives with her husband in Charlotte, North Carolina, and teaches at Queens University of Charlotte.

Hats Off! to Janet Hartman whose story "Love Me, I'm Siamese" will appear in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What anthology, planned for Aug. 18, 2014, release.


Hats Off! to Joan Leotta whose poem "The Printer's Out of Ink" will appear in Thema literary journal out of Metairie, LA, in March, 2015.


Hats Off! to Terri Kirby Erickson and Janet Joyner whose poems were chosen for the month of June as part of the "Poetry in Plain Sight" program. Joyner's "2 Yellow Leaves" and Erickson's "Empathy" will be displayed on posters in sixteen shop windows throughout Winston-Salem’s Arts District and downtown. This Winston-Salem Writers’ program is a collaborative effort with Press 53, with a monthly event at Barnhill’s Books.


Hats Off! to humor columnist Cappy Hall Rearick who has been chosen as one of three finalists in the National Society of Newspaper Columnist awards to be given on June 29 in Washington, DC. Eight of Rearick’s short stories are featured in the Not Your Mother’s Books anthologies: NYMB On Women; NYMB On Travel; NYMB On Dogs; NYMB On Being a Parent; NYMB On Home Improvement, and NYMB On Cats. The June 17 publication of Not Your Mother’s Book On Family will feature another of Rearick's humorous essays in the anthology series.











Untying the Knot by Karen Paul Holmes

Aldrich Press (Kelsay Books)
$16.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-0615998985
May, 2014
Available at

"Turning back toward the past, to reckon with and reclaim it, this book seeks to untangle memory. On its surface, Untying the Knot is about severance—about leaving the beloved behind and, likewise, getting left—but it is also a meditation on the sources of love and language. 'It's a comfort / to imagine our rounded bones / becoming round bits of the globe / our spirits rising to orbit among spiral galaxies / joining those who completed the circle before us,' writes Holmes, whose voice pushes readers forward into the unknown with confidence, precision, and empathy. "
—Dorianne Laux, author of The Book of Men and Facts About the Moon

"These poems are poems about the pains of a broken marriage. About half the people who have ever been married would be eligible to write on the subject, but very few, if any others, could do it with such grace, humor, self-awareness, and without a dollop of self-pity, as Karen Paul Holmes has in Untying the Knot. This is a courageous, deeply human, book."
—Thomas Lux, author of Child Made of Sand and God Particles

"In Karen Paul Holmes’ Untying the Knot, betrayal and sorrow are recontextualized into an acknowledgment of the transitory nature of relationships and the capacity to find joy through language. Indeed, in this work, one that dignifies a sadness so many feel, 'a spark ignites the dry leaves' in lucid and radiant ways, creating poetry that not only enriches us, but possesses the potential to teach us ways to navigate and ultimately transcend the difficulties of divorce and the feelings of loss and grief such division engenders."
—William Wright, series editor of The Southern Poetry Anthology, author of Night Field Anecdote and Bledsoe

A memoir in poetry about the end of a long marriage and the healing process written, according to Poet Thomas Lux, with "grace, humor, self-awareness, and without a dollop of self-pity."

This is the author's first poetry collection. It was therapeutic to write, and she hopes it will be helpful to anyone going through the grieving process.

Karen Paul Holmes has an MA in music history from the University of Michigan. She eventually moved south and worked her way into a career that involved her love of writing: she became Vice President-Marketing Communications at ING, a global financial services company. Karen is now a freelance writer and owner of two naughty Welsh Terriers.

Karen founded/hosts the Side Door Poets group in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2012, she received an Elizabeth George Foundation emerging writer grant for poetry. Her publishing credits include a number of journals and anthologies, including Poetry East, Atlanta Review, Main Street Rag, Caesura, POEM, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, American Society: What Poets See (FutureCycle Press), and the Southern Poetry Anthology Vol 5: Georgia (Texas Review Press). You may contact her through her website:

Shelby StephensonThis October, poet Shelby Stephenson will be inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.

But this summer, writers have the chance to "sit at the feet" of one of North Carolina's most beloved poets by registering for the 2014 North Carolina Writers' Network Squire Summer Writing Residency, July 10-13, at William Peace University in Raleigh

"I try to set an atmosphere for writing," says Stephenson, who will lead the weekend-long poetry workshop. "I use the participants' writings as text. We will read each other's work aloud and respond. And as the sessions gain momentum, we shall hope to see the sessions make themselves, with discussion, revisions, visions for new, the breakthoughs which might free us from stasis or stoppage, blockage. Hopefully things like image, forms, figures, personal experiences, reading—all those matters—plus the music of the lines (I've forgotten who said poetry is the music of the soul)—those things will happen, as the writing, the poem or poetic expression, finds itself.... Mainly we shall read our work to each other. And respond. I have learned this: if a poem, a piece, wants to live—it will. And the magic word seems to be 'cut.'"

Shelby Stephenson has published many collections of poems, plus the poetic documentary Plankhouse (with photos by Roger Manley). Shelby is former editor of Pembroke Magazine. His Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize, judged by Allen Grossman. Stephenson’s latest collection, The Hunger of Freedom (2014), is from Red Dashboard ( Shelby's website is

The Squire Summer Writing Residency offers an intensive course in a chosen genre (fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry), with fifteen hours of workshop sessions over the four days of the program. Registrants work in-depth on their own writing, as well as their colleagues’, while also studying the principles of the genre with their instructor. Other features include faculty readings, panel discussions, and open mic sessions for residents.

Plus, conference-goers will benefit from being a short walk from many historical and cultural sites in downtown Raleigh. Karen Wells, Executive Director of ARTS North Carolina, will lead a Table Talk in a special program on Friday night.

Admission is limited to the first fifty registrants. And while workshops are at the heart of the conference programming, the weekend is a “residency” in the sense that attendees will enjoy meals together and have the option of staying overnight in on-campus accommodations. Free WiFi and parking are available.

The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame celebrates and promotes the state’s rich literary heritage by commemorating its leading authors and encouraging the continued flourishing of great literature. There are fifty-three current members. Stephenson will join other renowned poets such as Kathryn Stripling Byer, Fred Chappell, and Randall Jarrell in the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame's hallowed halls.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit











You've Got Verve, Jamie Ireland! by Lisa Otter Rose

$9.99, paperback / $5.99, e-book
ASIN: 1484800702
March, 2014
Available from your local bookstore or

"A must read for anyone with learning issues. Beautifully written! I am recommending this book to all the children in my practice."
—Dr. Michael Hart, author of Your Child Restored: The Path from Suffering to Success

So far, fifth grade is off to a rotten start for ten-year-old Jamie Ireland. Her best friend, Alexanna, moves away, and not just across town—she's now 818 miles away from Jamie's home in Westcott, North Carolina. She might as well be on the moon. Jamie’s spelling tests are a disaster. She reads well, but when she tries to write, her brain seems to shut down. It's like the letters have turned into a big jumble of spaghetti noodles that she can’t untangle. To make matters worse, Daniel, the meanest bully in school, is making Jamie's life miserable, and sticking out her tongue at "Dan-evil" doesn't even faze him. It has the opposite effect.

Pretty much the only time Jamie enjoys school is during the recess races, but even here she's running into obstacles. No matter how fast she runs, her best is usually fourth place.

Jamie would never guess a "ghost" in her attic, a dead man's bones, a learning disability test, and a baking contest could help her solve her spelling troubles and show her how to deal with Dan-evil, but sometimes solutions show up in the most unexpected places.

Told, in part through entries in Jamie's diary, You've Got Verve, Jamie Ireland! shows how through creativity, determination, and yes, plenty of verve that Jamie can overcome her problems as she triumphs over Dan-evil, her best friend's move, and her learning disability. And along the way she makes some new friends. As for verve, Jamie now spells it Vegetable pie, Egg, Rice-a-roni, Vegetable pie, Egg.

Lisa Otter Rose is a writer and visual journalist. She appreciates how creativity, determination, and courage play key roles in every child's development. Like Jamie, Lisa and her children have learning disabilities. She has experienced firsthand the frustration that undiagnosed learning disorders bring, and then the relief that proper diagnosis and intervention offer. Lisa, who has always loved books and knows the power of story, has crafted a funny and realistic character, Jamie Ireland, who defies any label. Lisa lives in North Carolina with her husband, Gary, and their three children. She's a member of SCWBI. Please visit her Twitter page:

Hats Off! to Marilynn Barner Anselmi whose short play "Floral Deliveries" will be presented by Riot Act Theatre for the New Play Festival in Jackson, Wyoming, June 12-13, at the Center for the Arts.


Fedoras Off! to Joseph Cavano whose flash fiction story, Blue's Bar: Biloxi, appeared recently in Every Writer's Resource. Facebook members may be interested in reading his running account of his just completed trip to Tanzania, where he spent time with Maasai warriors, fought a losing battle with the tsetse fly, and was introduced to the treat of warm cow's milk and freshly drawn cow's blood. His newly completed short-story collection, presently untitled, will soon be sent packing and looking for a home.


Hats Off! to Joan Leotta whose poem "Dreaming Across the Styx" appears in Red Wolf Journal.


Hats Off! to Carol Pearce Bjorlie who won The Haiku Award and publication in Pine Song from the North Carolina Poetry Society. She has also had a Young Adult Trilogy accepted by Second Wind Publishing. Book One will be published in September, Book Two, in February, and Book Three, later.









Doing It at the Dixie Dew by Ruth Moose

St. Martin's Press/Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books
$24.99, hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-250046383
May, 2014
Fiction: Mystery/Cozy
Available at your local bookstore or

“Moose’s delightful first cozy... stars Beth McKenzie, who returns to her hometown of Littleboro, NC, to open the Dixie Dew Bed and Breakfast… Little old ladies in gloves and hats, financial shenanigans, a large rabbit, and the fishbowl life of a small town add to the fun.”
Publishers Weekly

“I loved it! So much fun to read--Ruth Moose has fashioned a fast-paced romp through small town society... mayhem and maybe even murder lurk behind those frilly lace curtains at the Dixie Dew B&B. This entertaining novel is just as rich and delicious as innkeeper Beth McKenzie's lemon crème cake.”
—Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Girls

“As deliciously Southern as pecan pie, Doing It at the Dixie Dew is a dazzling and delightful debut mystery.”
—Carolyn Hart, national bestselling author of Death at the Door

Beth McKenzie’s wealthy first guest 
at her Bed and Breakfast, The Dixie Dew, arrives in a pricey sports car and leaves in a hearse. Beth has to find the real killer when the clueless two-man police force in her small Southern town name her prime suspect in the murder.

Ruth Moose’s first novel, Doing it at the Dixie Dew, won the 2013 Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Award, published by St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books, May 2014. She was on the Creative Writing faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill for fifteen years.

She’s published three collections of short stories, The Wreath Ribbon Quilt, Dreaming in Color, and Neighbors and Other Strangers with individual stories in The Atlantic, Alaska Quarterly Review, North American Review, Southern California Review, and other places including publications in Holland, South Africa, England, and Denmark. Moose has published six collections of poetry, most recently, The Librarian and Other Poems and Tea. She’s received, among other awards for poetry and short story, a MacDowell Fellowship and a prestigious Chapman Family Teaching Award. A native North Carolinian, she now lives in Pittsboro, NC. Her website is

William Peace UniversityRALEIGH, NC—Whether you want to write hard-nose, investigative journalism or you're working on a buttery memoir about being raised on a dairy farm, rendering truth is the key to writing effective and powerful creative nonfiction. This summer, writers will have the chance to spend fifteen workshop hours with former Piedmont Laureate Scott Huler, refining the key principles of the genre and improving their craft in a focused, residency-style learning environment.

The 2014 Squire Summer Writing Residency will be held July 10-13 on the campus of William Peace University in Raleigh. Registration is now open.

"In nonfiction, good writing begins with good reporting, progresses through rigorous thinking, and comes into being through disciplined writing and fierce, unsentimental revision," says Huler, who will lead the workshop in creative nonfiction. "That doesn’t mean you can’t write an emotional, sepiatone reminiscence of the smell of your Aunt Sophie’s pound cake, it just means you’ll need to understand where your information comes from and what you’re trying to say, and you’ll need to be willing to work hard enough to keep at it until you’ve said exactly what you mean.

"We’ll talk about telling true stories so they engage the reader, satisfy the writer, inform the cultural conversation—and above all remain true. We’ll work on personal memoir, descriptive prose, highly reported documentary-style narrative, and whimsical, voicey short essays. We’ll keep our hands busy in class by doing exercises and sharing them, and we’ll try to emerge with at least one small finished piece by the end of the weekend. Come prepared to write, to read, and to fool around."

Scott HulerHuler has written six books of creative nonfiction, most recently On the Grid (Rodale, 2010), about the infrastructure systems that make our world work. He has written about everything from the death penalty to bikini waxing (he likes to say he is for one and against the other), with his essays and reporting appearing in newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times; in magazines like ESPN, Backpacker, and Forbes; and on websites like Scientific American and Grist. His radio work has been heard on “All Things Considered” on NPR and “Marketplace” and “The Splendid Table” on PRI. He contributes writing and video regularly to Our State and Walter magazines and was the 2011 Piedmont Laureate in creative nonfiction.

The Squire Summer Writing Residency offers an intensive course in a chosen genre (fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry), with fifteen hours of workshop sessions over the four days of the program. Registrants work in-depth on their own writing, as well as their colleagues’, while also studying the principles of the genre with their instructor. Other features include faculty readings, panel discussions, and open mic sessions for residents.

Admission is limited to the first fifty registrants. And while workshops are at the heart of the conference programming, the weekend is a “residency” in the sense that attendees will enjoy meals together and have the option of staying overnight in on-campus accommodations. Free WiFi and parking are available.

Plus, conference-goers will benefit from being a short walk from many historical and cultural sites in downtown Raleigh. Karen Wells, Executive Director of ARTS North Carolina, will lead a Table Talk in a special program on Friday night.

Registration for the 2014 Squire Summer Writing Residency is now open.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit











Sarranda's Heart: A Love Story of Place by Celia H. Miles

Stone Ivy Press
$11.46, paperback / $4.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-0983471714
May, 2013
Available from the author or

A sequel to Sarranda (2006), the novel chronicles the return of Sarranda to Western North Carolina in the early 1800s, in the company of a young Irish serving girl, from a "training time" in Massachuettes where she was recruited to aid impoverished women and children following the Civil War. In an isolated area where North and South may meet, even merge, without rancor and bitterness, their grit, grace, and humor allow for opportunity and love in unexpected places. Choosing independence over comfort, the present over the past, they forge new paths for themselves and create hope and support to the community.

Celia Miles is a native of Jackson County, now living, retired, and writing in Asheville. Her website is











A Journey to Heaven by Tammy Brodowski Mott and Bruce Brodowski

Carolinas Ecumenical Healing Ministries
$9.99, paperback
ISBN: 9780982658130
May, 2013
Available at your local bookstore or

"No story has affected my heart as deeply as this one."
—Melissa Moreno,

"Tammy's heartbreaking account will touch every mother's heart."
—Yuke Man, Allbooks Review International

Four-year-old Emmy Mott was diagnosed with brain-stem cancer. Doctors gave her eight weeks to live. Her mom Tammy was devastated. God had other plans. During the next 41 weeks, Emmy’s story touched thousands of hearts all over the world through her Facebook page. Many came back to Christ and began to pray. Emmy’s story changed their lives.

The National Indie Excellence Awards named A Journey to Heaven: A Daughter’s Short Life Gives a Family Lessons in Love and Miracles the Winner of its "Death & Dying" category.

Tammy Brodowski Mott is a mother and a homemaker. She lives with her husband Denny in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania. They are devoted to bringing up their children JP and Jesse. Tammy has the heart and the love to bring happiness to children. Writing about Emmy's journey in A Journey to Heaven has been her way to cope with this great loss and share her experiences with others.














pale blue mercy by Sally Stewart Mohney

Main Street Rag
$8.00, paperback
February, 2013
Available from the publisher

"Pale blue mercy is a compelling collection of daring poems. Poetic power rests in Sally Stewart Mohney's style—each poem stripped of excessive language—and in her fearlessness as a writer to bare the truth with emotional restraint. Haunting images are distilled from her refusal to look away from what she is learning about mortality through heart-rending, stark observations: 'So now, your mother's head, a white plastic mask—/…. A London wax museum piece to be studied/or a Greek marble statue in sheer ecstasy of pure pain' ('Spurs'). Tenderness prevails, especially when Mohney touches on a mother's longing to protect loved ones from harm and on the human need for comfort and relief from grief, made palpable in 'Next May': 'you'd like to not suffer a huge loss./You'd prefer to not tiptoe/and have to speak/to/strangers/at a sudden death/or lingering one./You'd like to pull out/beach towels/and/pure nestlings of warmth./And, never once, regret.'"
—Irene Blair Honeycutt

A native of Charlotte, Sally Stewart Mohney graduated from the University of North Carolina with an Honors degree in Creative Writing and Art History, and has taken graduate writing courses from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, The University of Florida, Georgia State University, and Callanwolde. She has had short stories published in literary journals, as well as articles published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. While a student at UNC, she was the recipient of the Jesse Rehder Prize, the University's most prestigious writing award. She was a presenter at the 2009 Southern Women Writers Conference, and presented poems from this collection for the 2012 SWWC conference. Her career in Art History has included working for art appraiser Sigmund Rothschild in New York, as well as working as curator and coordinator in galleries and museums all over the country. After moving to Atlanta, she founded her own tutoring business.


Hats Off! to Sandra Ervin Adams, who was again invited to post on the Contributor's Blog for Minerva Rising Literary Journal. Her article, "Visual Art and Poetry Blend Well," appears here.


Hats Off! to Kathryn Lovatt and Gregg Cusick. Kathryn, of Camden, SC, took First Prize in the 2013 Press 53 Open Awards "Short Story" category for her story, "Vermin." Durham's Gregg Cusick was named a Finalist for his story, "Gutted."


Hats Off! to Heather Bell Adams (Raleigh) and Jodi Barnes (Cary), who were named as Finalists in the 2013 Press 53 Open Awards "Short-Short Story" category.


Hats Off! to four NCWN members who did quite well in the 2013 Press 53 Open Awards "Poetry" category. Peg Bresnahan of Cedar Mountain claimed Second Prize, while Susan Schmidt (Beaufort), Crystal Simone Smith (Durham), and Lisa Zerkle (Charlotte) were named as Finalists.



Hats Off! to Karen Paul Holmes. The Lascaux Review invited her to submit and published her poem "Bessie Arrowood's Circle of Life."

Lililan's Garden by Carrie Knowles

Lillian's Garden by Carrie Knowles

Roundfire Books
$18.95, paperback / $3.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1780998305
April, 2013
Available at your local bookstore or

Just when Helen thinks she can take charge of her life, a devil-hunting itinerant preacher upsets the delicate balance she has managed in a family locked in secrets and headed for trouble. When Helen breaks down, her husband, Richard, angry and ashamed, commits her to a mental institution without telling their children where their mother has gone. Lillian's Garden is a novel about failure and finding redemption through learning how to ask for what you want and accepting what love has given you.

Carrie Knowles was born in Detroit and grew up in Wayne, Michigan, in the shadow of Eloise Mental Hospital. She wrote Lillian's Garden because she strongly believes women often forget to plant the seeds of their own dreams while they are busy juggling the responsibilities of being both a good wife and a mother. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.









Ginnungagap: New and Selected Poems: Part 1 byLiza Sisk

Aldrich Press
Paperback, $14.00
ISBN: 978-0615755021
February, 2013
Available at

"Liza Sisk has listened well to her inner port's voice and crafted a book of poems that spans a life's journey through motherhood, family, travel, spiritual quest, a journey that has led her eventually to the transformative power of art. These poems sparkle with electricity, with an honesty and attentiveness that can often make the reader step back from the page to take a deep breath."
—Kathryn Stripling Byer, former NC Poet Laureate

"Also, notice Liza's ability to use a variety of forms so appropriate to the subject matter that we barely notice the form until we have finished reading. She seems to work under Archibald MacLeish's dictum that 'a poem must not mean, but be.'"
—William Sommers, leader of the Fearrington Poet's Corner

"The result is a sharply original vision, a clear-eyed honesty, and a jagged and—yes—quirky music. Here is a reading experience as fresh as spring water—with crawfish in it."
—Fred Chappel, former NC Poet Laureate

Liza Sisk holds a BA in math (Phi Beta Kappa) and an MA in English both from SUNY-Buffalo, and a Ph.D in English from the University of Wisconsin. After briefly teaching math at SUNY-Buffalo and English at U.Wisc. and three other universities, she switched careers to Marketing Communications with Sylvania, Westinghouse, and GE and set up her own consulting company named ComSci Associates: Communications, Training and Productivity. One of her specialties was to teach Communication Skills to engineers, scientists, and their managers. Clients included Westinghouse, Merck, Turner Corporation, NASA, American Chemical Society and Mellon University.

Since retiring, she switched careers once more, hopefully to become a poet. New and Selected Poems: Part 1, Ginnungagap, is partially based on her chapbook, Four Months Around the World, now out-of-print, and two earlier books of poetry, On Being Alive and Condominiums, Conch Shells and Consciousness, which are still available.


Hats Off! to Glenda Beall and Susan Snowden. Glenda interviewed Susan, author of Southern Fried Lies and winner of an IPPY Award, for the Netwest blog.


Hats Off to Richard Allen Taylor and Richard G. Sharp, who won Second Place and an Honorable mention, respectively, in the 2013 Dean Ritch Lomax Poetry Prize sponsored by the Charlotte Writer's Club. The Final Judge was Richard Krawiec. Taylor claimed Second Place for his poem “Ways of Leaving,” while Sharp was awarded an Honorable Mention for his poem "Requiem for Luciana."



Hats Off! to Maren O. Mitchell, author of Beat Chronic Pain, An Insider’s Guide (Line of Sight Press, 2012), who was interviewed by Robin Watts of Regency Hospice in Hiawassee, Georgia, on three half-hour radio programs on WJUL-FM 97.5 and WJRB-FM 95.1 during the Silver Linings Show.


Hats Off! to Ray Morrison, who won First Place in the Winston-Salem Writers 2013 Anthology Contest (Flash Fiction) for his short story "Lost," and Second Place in the Fiction category for his short story "Preston Manor."


Tales from Farlandia: Ozette's Destiny by Judy Pierce

Pants on Fire Press
$9.99, paperback
ISBN 978-0-9827271-9-5
February, 2013
Available from your local bookstore or

Ozette, a rare white squirrel, flees Earth World when she is wrongly blamed for the destruction of the animals' beloved forest simply because she is different. Clutching only a golden acorn, which was gifted to her by her grandmother, Ozette escapes to Farlandia, a magical kingdom where her grandmother has said the young squirrel will find her destiny.

With innate innocence and sweetness, Ozette quickly forms close friendships with the residents of Farlandia including zany elves, fairies and animals, and soon finds herself tapped to be the caretaker of this old-growth forest. Forging strong alliances through life's challenges, Ozette and her magical friends will have you laughing and crying as you follow them through adventures that will warm your heart with gentle lessons of kindness, loyalty, and self acceptance.

Originally from Washington state, Judy Pierce earned her master's degree from the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University. She moved to the southeast and taught mass communication courses at the university level.

Her interest in herbs led her to teach adult education classes on their uses, and she has published extensively on incorporating herbs in cooking, medicines and cosmetics. She was instrumental in expanding a conservation education program for the island of Guam where she published numerous articles on the environment.

Judy's writing is influenced by her love of nature and work with Bichon Frise rescue and wildlife rehabilitation. When she's not writing, she loves to garden, bicycle, hike, camp, photograph white squirrels, and visit family on the West Coast. Judy lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband and three rescued Bichon Frises.

She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.


AMERICA ONE: The Odyssey Begins (Book 3) by T.I. Wade

Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
$6.97, e-book
April, 2013
Available at

Ryan Richmond has dreamed about going to space since the age of seven. Reading space updates—and seeing pictures of Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface in National Geographic—was the ignition of this dream.

At nineteen he sold his first company and employed the remnants of the Russian Space Program, three of the best space brains in the world.

In his twenties he founded and sold two more companies and hired the most outstanding scientists and engineers from the European Space Authority.

During his thirties, after selling his third company, he invested heavily in Internet start-ups, like Google, netting billions.

Then he patiently waited until NASA’s shuttle program came to an end and contracted the best brains in the U.S. Space program.

Now, Ryan Richmond is in his forties, and is going into space, whether anybody likes it or not!

T.I. Wade was born in Bromley, Kent, England in 1954. His father, a banker was promoted with his International Bank to Africa and the young family moved to Africa in 1956. The author grew up in Southern Rhodesia.

Once he had completed his mandatory military commitments, at twenty-one he left Africa to mature in Europe. He enjoyed Europe and lived in three countries; England, Germany, and Portugal for fifteen years before returning to Africa; Cape Town in 1989. Here the author owned and ran a restaurant, a coffee manufacturing and retail business, flew a Cessna 210 around desolate southern Africa and finally got married in 1992. Due to the upheavals of the political turmoil in South Africa, the Wade family of three moved to the United States in 1996. Park City, Utah was where his writing career began.

To date T.I. Wade has written ten novels. The author, his wife, and two teenage children currently live twenty miles south of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Narratives II

The Narratives II: Dusk or Dawn by Vince Guaglione

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
$6.95, paperback / $0.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1484879924
May, 2013
Available at

The Narratives is a collection of short introspective essays written by an average guy in an effort to better understand himself, his life, and his relationship with the world around him while traveling the road of self-discovery.

The Narratives II: Dusk Or Dawn, is the second volume in The Narratives series.

Vince Guaglione is a guy who asks lots of questions, not only of himself but of his society and the world around him. Although he claims he's found no real answers, that hasn't stopped him in his quest to gain perspective on a little something we call life. When he's not at his real job, you can find him sucking down venti-sized coffees at a brisk pace his local Starbucks, thinking up new writing projects, or pondering his mystery questions of life. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Vince now resides in Raleigh, NC.


Hats Off! to Gwenyfar Rohler, whose profile of North Carolina playwright Anthony Lawson appears in the premier issue of Salt Magazine.


The Fur, Fish, Flea and Beagle Club by R. M. Byrd

$24.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-0615751689
February, 2013
Available from

Shy wise-acre Jamie Garrath goes to work at his father’s sawmill specifically to be with him. But Ned Custis, a strangely quiet boy he barely knows from school, throws a wrench in Jamie's plans when he invades for the summer to work at the mill, too. Jamie feels his idyllic vision of working with his father slipping away.

Work at the mill is hot and brutal, Jamie’s father is too busy to spend time with him and a vicious mill worker tries to kill Toby, his dog. And as if all this trouble wasn’t enough, Jamie meets Deidre, the daughter of an Irish migrant worker, and falls head-over-heels in love.

Ned’s not exactly jumping for joy either. His father pawned him off on the Garraths to get him out from underfoot in the family hardware store. He’s an exile in a strange place he doesn’t want to be, doing things he doesn’t want to do and his work at the mill turns out to be tree scouting in the deep woods with Cyrus, an enigmatic Indian and ex-shaman, who he’s afraid will butcher him with a bush axe. It’s going to be a stressful summer for both of them. As the only two boys in the company of hard working men, Jamie and Ned are driven together for better or for worse, forced to forge a friendship. They form a club of two – or three if you include Toby the dog.

R. M. Byrd lives in North Carolina with his wife and two cats, as well as wild deer, hummingbirds and, appropriately, the odd nuthatch. He has been writing since before he can reliably recall. Though he has great trouble writing short, his short fiction has appeared in the literary journal The Iconoclast, the Best Raleigh Reading collection of The Main Street Rag, and in Offshoots, the literary collection of the Geneva Writers’ Group of Geneva, Switzerland.


Hats Off! to Joan Leotta, whose poem "Voices in the Fog" won an Honorable Mention in the Voices of Angels competition in Thynks Magazine (British).


Hats Off! to Tamra Wilson, whose short story “The Bird Watcher” appears in the 2013 issue of Penumbra, a journal of California State University at Stanislaus. Another story, “Stringed Beef,” is in the inaugural issue of South Florida Arts Journal.


Hats Off! to Brenda Wilson, whose poem “Pond From My Deck” will be displayed in sixteen shop windows in Winston-Salem’s Arts and Entertainment District as part of Poetry in Plain Sight, sponsored by the Winston Salem Writers, Press 53, Barnhill’s Books, Competitive Edge, Downtown Arts District Association, Delta Arts Center, and Forsyth County Public Library.


Hats Off! to Heather Bell Adams of Raleigh, whose poem “The Tablecloth” earned an Honorable Mention in the 2013 Carolina Woman Writing Contest. Also, her short story “Gaston Street” was recently published in Deep South Magazine.











The Episcopal Church in North Carolina During the War Between the States by E. T. Malone, Jr.

Literary Lantern Press
54 pages, $15.00
ISBN 0-9621668-6-3
April, 2013
Available from the publisher

This publication is expanded from a lecture given by the author at historic St. James' Episcopal Church, Kittrell, North Carolina, on August 31, 2010. Drawn primarily from the 1861-1865 journals and newspaper of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, this study summarizes how the diocese became part of the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America, opinions about secession and its effect on church polity, church operations during the war, African-Americans in the church, Episcopal Confederate chaplains, Robert E. Lee's connection to Episcopal North Carolina, and the unique role that North Carolina's Bishop Thomas Atkinson played in the national reunion of the Episcopal Church in 1865. It contains five appendices listing congregations, clergy, chaplains, and the names of every lay delegate and alternate delegate elected to all diocesan conventions held during the war.

North Carolina was the only Southern diocese able to hold its annual convention every year during that conflict and to publish journals of each such gathering. There is a comprehensive index and Mississippi Bishop William Mercer Green's prayer for the success of the Confederate Army. The Episcopal Church in North Carolina During the War Between the States contains much specific information not published elsewhere.

E. T. Malone, Jr., was book editor with North Carolina Historical Publications Section and served as historiographer of Episcopal Diocese of NC, 1996-2006.


Hats Off! to Ellen Shepard, Assistant Professor of Film at Saint Augustine's University, who is a juror for the North Carolina Arts Council Playwrights/Screenwriters Fellowship.











Groups in Practice: A School Counselor's Collection by Debra Madaris Efird

$49.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-0-415-50-3723
June, 2012
Available from the publisher or

"Efird draws on her years working with students and her experience in leading groups to create an excellent resource for middle school counselors. She tackles difficult subjects that are rarely found in group resource materials for counselors. This is a very useful and practical guide for school counselors and others who work with middle school students."
- Bob Barret, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

"This cutting-edge book provides group counseling sessions on a variety of relevant issues facing students today. Unique group topics (such as Juvenile Diabetes and Latina Pride) will help school counselors effectively support underserved populations. Aligned with the ASCA standards, the lessons and handouts shared should be a "must have" in any school counselor's library."
- Tamara Davis, PhD, Professor, Department of Counseling, Marymount University

This practical, user-friendly manual will provide school counselors with the information they need to set up and run twelve different counseling groups. Though the author has test-driven the groups with middle school students, the content is easily adaptable for upper elementary and high school students. Each chapter is devoted to a specific group and includes:

  • a rationale for the group
  • step-by-step breakdowns of each session
  • reproducible worksheets and activities
  • group-specific evaluation form.


Special sections within each chapter provide tips to make implementation easier and address potential problems. Also included are the American School Counselor Association standards that are addressed during the course of the group. Traditional group topics such as Divorce, Grief, and Study Skills join unique groups tailored for students dealing with Asperger Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder, Juvenile Diabetes, and Relational Aggression. The author has used her extensive experience to create this invaluable guide which school counselors at all levels of experience will find an essential tool in their group work.

Debra Madaris Efird, MEd, NBCT, has been a school counselor and active member of the American Counseling Association for over 20 years. She currently works for Cabarrus County Schools, CC Griffin Middle School, in Concord, North Carolina.


Hats Off! to Edwin Bouldin, whose two short stories, "Fishing with Aida” and “Final Note,” were named Honorable Mentions in the 2012 Short Story Anthology contest sponsored by the Winston-Salem Writers.


Welcome to SR12!CHARLOTTE – Registration closes at 5:00 pm EST today for the 2012 Squire Summer Writing Residency, July 19–22 at Queens University of Charlotte. And with only fifty slots open for registrants, only a few remain.

The Squire Summer Writing Residency offers an intensive course in a chosen genre, with ten hour-and-a-half sessions over the four days of the program. Registrants work in-depth on their own writing, while also studying the principles of the genre with their instructor. Workshops include Creative Nonfiction with Pat MacEnulty, Poetry with Morri Creech, or Fiction with Robert Inman.

Having trouble choosing which workshop to register for? Check out these insightful posts, written by our instructors, about their chosen genre:


In addition to the workshops, the 2012 Squire Summer Writing Residency will feature a panel discussion on publishing and bookselling, a “Writingest State” trivia contest, and readings by faculty and registrants. Attendees take meals together, and are encouraged—but not required—to stay in guest rooms that will be set aside for this conference.

“The Squire Summer Writing Residency has become one of our most beloved programs,” NCWN executive director Ed Southern said. “It’s the most effective at forming close bonds between writers from across the state.”

The Squire Summer Writing Residency is named in honor of the late Chick and Elizabeth Daniels Squire, whose support made the residency possible.

Find more information—and register—at, or by calling 336-293-8844.


Hats Off! to Anthony S. Abbott, co-recipient of the annual Brockman-Campbell Award for best book of poetry by a North Carolinian for his book If Words Could Save Us (Lorimer Press, 2011). The award is granted by the North Carolina Poetry Society.












The Taxi by Jenny Johnson

$16.95, paperback
ISBN: 9781602902725
March, 2012
Fiction (Faith-based Romance/Suspense)
Available from your local bookstore or

An unexpected encounter with strangers changed everything about reporter Jannia Redmon’s life…A gripping story packed with action, surprise, satisfying romance, and international intrigue…

It all started with a taxi one Saturday morning outside a fast-food restaurant....

Jannia Redmon, a newspaper reporter, is an aspiring novelist always on the lookout for promising plot ideas. One weekend, while absorbed in her morning coffee and newspaper at McDonald's, she sees a battered white taxi waiting outside. Why would someone take a taxi to a fast-food restaurant?.

Curious, Jannia follows the taxi and its unusual fellow travelers...and is plunged into a world of imperiled strangers and international intrigue. When a handsome, mysterious musician asks her to take on a startling responsibility that could alter her life forever, she is thrust into the midst of a deadly plot-and emotional entanglements she's not sure her heart can handle.

An unexpected encounter packed with action, surprise, and satisfying romance.

With a background in Literature, Speech Pathology/Audiology and Special Education, Jenny Johnson (a pen name) worked and wrote for years as a university professor for the UNC System. Now retired and working part time, an item on her “never-too-late list” is fiction writing. The idea for her first novel, The Taxi, was sparked by a scene she observed during a vacation in the North Carolina mountains. The resulting novel she categorizes as faith-based or inspiration al romantic suspense. Visit Jenny at









It's Not My Mountain Anymore by Barbara Taylor Woodall

Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, Inc.
$20.00 (paperback) / $9.99 (e-book)
ISBN: 978-0-9827611-9-9
July, 2011
Available from the publisher or

"What a VOICE!”
--Andrea Robinson, Editor, Random House

“A novel full of passion, soul, and powerful writings...”
--Appalachian Voices Magazine

“The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing...”(Job 39:8)

A pasture is a feeding place that sprouts green morsels of nourishment for hungry creatures and provides rest in green shady groves near rippling waters. My pasture is the portion of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains located in North Georgia. According to some old timers the name “Appalachian” means “People of the Other Side.” It both describes and defines my people well.

Mountain people are our greatest resource. Any disclosure about us captures national attention because in large part we remain separated from urban America by endless mountain ranges, unique folklore, damnable stereotypes and fierce independence.

There is a fascination here that holds rich and poor, strong and weak captive, not with chains and fetters but by an almost touchable solace that affords many visitors and second home owners an escape from city rat races. The mountains I once knew and loved as a child are not the same. Inevitable changes to both the landscape and its inhabitants clash harshly with cherished memories of a passing era. Giant pastures that natives had called our own to roam, hunt, fish and explore began to shrink by ownerships that established boundaries with No Trespassing signs and security gates.

Taste the harsh realities of change told in an absolutely authentic voice, written by a former Foxfire student. “It’s Not My Mountain Anymore” is balanced and satisfying with moving stories that will moisten eyes and bring laughter.

Barbara is a down-to-earth seventh generation Appalachian who tells it like it is. There is a message in her book, a message she expresses in the statement, “The mountains I once knew are not the same. Inevitable changes both to the landscape and its inhabitants clash dramatically with cherished memories of a passing era.”

As speaker, Barbara’s deep sense of humor transcends the underlying drama of her message. She speaks with the sincerity of one who totally believes in her appeal to the audience to take note of the drastic changes being brought to the landscape of the Appalachians.












The Naming of Ghosts by Steve Mitchell

Press 53
$14.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-935708-56-8
April, 2012
Fiction--Short Stories
Available from your local bookstore or

"Steven Mitchell's lyrical prose and beautifully crafted stories haunt the reader long after the final pages. His characters are so full and fascinating, and the urgency of their need to connect is so strong. Poignant, inspiring, and compelling, Steve Mitchell's "The Naming of Ghosts" is the finest collection of stories out there."
--Frances Badgett, Contrary Magazine

"What I admire most about Steve Mitchell's stories is the sheer beauty of his melancholic prose. His voice is outstanding and will stay with you for a long time after you finish his book."
—Peter H. Fogtdal, author of The Tsar's Dwarf

"Steve Mitchell's stories seem to play out in dimensions that fluidly interconnect our palpable and dreamy selves. Whether they "stroke waves of heat into [our] flesh" as in "Dandelion," or happen "when the world had darkened so deeply that only tears, and more tears, would soften it at all" as in "Wave," we often arrive at transformation without conscious knowledge of how we were transported. Mitchell's storytelling is remarkable in its hypnotic rhythms, in the unique voice. Story after story in The Naming of Ghosts stays with us long after the ending. This is an impressive collection that must be read, and read again."
- Alexander Pepple, Editor of Able Muse and Able Muse Anthology

Steve Mitchell has been a construction worker, cowboy, substitute teacher, chef, and has developed and managed a mental health program for the chronic mentally ill. He's worked in theatre, film, and multi-voice poetry. His work has been published in the Southeast Review, Contrary, Glossolalia, and The North Carolina Literary Review, among others, and has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. His short story, “Above the Rooftop,” was named a storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Story of 2010, and he is currently completing a novel, Body of Trust. He has a deep belief in the primacy of doubt and an abiding conviction that great wisdom can inhabit very bad movies. He has an ambivalent relationship with his cat, Mr. Zip. Sometimes, he just doesn't know. And that's all right.


Hats Off! to Scott Owens and Maureen Sherbondy, who were both finalists in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Owens was selected for his collection Something Knows the Moment (Main Street Rag), while Sherbondy was named for her collection Scar Girl (Finishing Line Press).


Hats Off! to Betty Reed. The American Association for State and Local History has selected her as a recipient for an Award of Merit based on her book School Segregation in Western North Carolina: A History, 1860s-1970s. The Award of Merit is to be presented at the AASLH annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 5.

... to Bob McCarthy. Last week, he learned that he was awarded 1st place in the 2011 Spring Shorts contest of the Virginia Writers Group in fiction.  His story was entitled "Smile a Mighty Jesus."

... to Katherine S. Crawford.  Her (unpublished) historical novel, Keowee, made it to the Quarter-Finalist round of the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest."

... to Ellyn Bache.  Her novel, The Art of Saying Goodbye, has been chosen as an "Okra Pick" by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.


... to Flora Ann Scearce.  Her story, "102 Sycamore Wynd," won second place in fiction in the recent 20th annual Carteret Writers' Competition.  The nationwide competition received 145 entries, including 63 from other states. 

... to Joan Cannon. Her poem, "Evensong at Ripon Cathedral," was featured in the online literary journal, The Lowestoft Chronicle. Her poems, "Bedside Manner" and "Afterwords," appear in the latest issue of Wild Goose Poetry Review.




Ellen L. Shepard will be featured nationally on Fox TV news, Saturday, June 19, 1:00-2:00 pm, in the segment “Beyond the Dream,” which will show Ellen with her film students at Saint Augustine's College in Raleigh.





Dick Michener will receive a humor writing award for his creative nonfiction piece "The Night the Bed Broke" at the Alabama Writers Conclave's banquet in Birmingham on July 17, 2010.

Katrina Parker Williams will have a poem "The Toll of His War" published in Pens on Fire in July 2010.

Asheville author and writing teacher Peggy Tabor Millin has won the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award in the spirituality category for her nonfiction book, Women, Writing, and Soul-Making: Creativity and the Sacred Feminine.  The Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group (IBPPG) announced the awards in New York City on May 21.

Laura T. Jensen of Pittsboro, NC won second prize in the Gulf Coast Writers Association "Let's Write Literary Contest" in the creative non-fiction category for her piece, "The Long Wait". The story can be viewed at:, click "See 2010 Winners".

........... to Suzanne Adair. <> ,
whose novel Camp Follower, third in a series set during the Southern theater
of the Revolutionary War, has been nominated for the 2009 Daphne du Maurier
Excellence in Historical Mystery/Suspense award.
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