NC Literary Hall of Fame



WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH—Deonna Kelli Sayed joined the Network as its Membership Coordinator this summer, and she'll lead the class "The Writing Life: Strategies for Being an Artist in the Real World (or How to Make the Writing Life Happen)" at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2017 Fall Conference, November 3-5, at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach.

Pre-registration is open through October 27.

Deonna Kelli Sayed is an internationally published author. Her books include Paranormal Obsession: America’s Fascination with Ghosts & Hauntings, Spooks & Spirits, a cultural studies discussion on why America loves high strangeness. Her essays appear in The New York Times' featured anthology, Love, Insh’allah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, and Faithfully Feminist: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Women on Why We Stay. She was a freelance writer in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and is the recipient of state and national awards for her multimedia work in Yes!Weekly, an independent newspaper in Greensboro. She has appeared on NPR, The State of Things, Coast to Coast AM, and WUNC-TV. Deonna serves NCWN as Membership Coordinator, and is currently writing a memoir about faith, love, and ghosts.

NCWN has been celebrating literary journals this year, so we asked Deonna to tell us about her first publication.

"I think the first time I had something significant in a journal was after September 11, 2001. It wasn't literary; it was Foreign Policy in Focus, an academic journal. I wrote an op-ed with my then husband, an Afghan, about the situation in Afghanistan. It was first published in an English language paper in Pakistan, and then picked up by Foreign Policy in Focus.

"I was living in Azerbaijan and pregnant with my son, an Afghan-American, who was a combination of two cultures now in conflict. It was during that time when I started to seriously write, partially because I was in exile while America endured 9/11, and because I had nothing else to do while abroad.

"A few years later, I was living in the Kingdom of Bahrain. I started freelancing for English language magazines, and I started a writing workshop for expats and others. Living outside of the U.S. was a huge factor in my writing journey. I needed distance from the familiar. A geographical fix can do wonders.

"My story demonstrates that there are many paths to writing, and the process is sometimes influenced by events beyond our everyday world."

In "The Writing Life: Strategies for Being an Artist in the Real World (or How to Make a Writing Life Happen)," Deonna will explore various ways to honor creative space in the life you have. She’ll share writing models that highlight different approaches to creativity and craft, and how to navigate individual barriers to a successful writing practice. Participants will investigate how perceptions of creativity can erode writing confidence. The workshop will be part interactive, part lecture, and part celebration of the wild and wonderful world of writing.

Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities that include lunch and dinner banquets with readings, keynotes, tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and the opportunity for one-on-one manuscript critiques with editors or agents. This year's Master Classes will be led by Dan Albergotti (Poetry); Wendy Brenner (Creative Nonfiction); and Nina de Gramont (Fiction). New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash will give the Keynote Address.

Register here.

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


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