White Cross School Blog


NC Literary Hall of Fame




ASHEVILLE—Mesha Maren of southern West Virginia is the winner of the 2015 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize for her short story “Chokedamp.” She will receive $1,000 and possible publication in The Thomas Wolfe Review.

Final Judge Lee Smith, a 2008 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, chose Maren’s story from more than 220 entries—a record number.

“It is very realistic, a big story,” Lee said. “I was impressed by the complexity of theme, situation, and the brothers’ relationship; the narrative voice rang true, and the writing was wonderful throughout.”

Mesha Maren is a fiction writer whose work appears in Tin House, The Oxford American, Hobart, The Barcelona Review, and Forty Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial. She is the recipient of a 2014 Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, an Appalachian Writing Fellowship from LMU University, and a residency fellowship from the Ucross Foundation.

Elizabeth Oliver of Apex and Roz Spafford were named Honorable Mentions for their stories “Just Wait” and “Painting the Door,” respectively. The stories will also be considered for publication in The Thomas Wolfe Review.

The Thomas Wolfe Review is the official journal of The Thomas Wolfe Society, publishing articles, features, tributes, and reviews about Wolfe and his circle. It also features bibliographical material, notes, news, and announcements of interest to Society members.

To join the Thomas Wolfe Society and participate in yearly conferences and other activities, go to www.thomaswolfe.org. You can also follow Wolfe news on Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, and other media.

The 2015 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize was facilitated by The Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The Great Smokies Writing Program is a joint effort between the UNC Asheville departments of Literature and Language, Creative Writing, and the Office of Professional Education. The program offers opportunities for writers of all levels to join a supportive learning community in which their skills and talents can be explored, practiced, and forged under the careful eye of professional writers.

Final Judge Lee Smith is a New York Times bestselling author and longtime professor of creative writing at North Carolina State University. Her novels include Fair and Tender Ladies, The Last Girls, and most recently, Guests on Earth. She is the recipient of two O. Henry Awards for her short stories, two Sir Walter Raleigh Awards, the North Carolina Award for Literature, the Robert Penn Warren Prize for Fiction, and the Southern Book Critics Circle Award, among many others. She is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize opens for submissions annually on December 1 and runs through January 30. It is open to all writers, regardless of geographic location or prior publication. Submitted stories must be unpublished and not exceed twelve double-spaced pages.

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 www.ncwriters.org.


GREENSBORO―Many writers focus so intently on finishing their book that they never consider what lies beyond. In today’s market, authors must build their brand and make decisions that best connect them to their readership. Because there’s no such thing as an overnight success, an author lays the foundation for their achievements long before their first book is finished. Getting published is merely one necessary step in a series of steps that shape a long and productive literary career.

At the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference on Saturday, April 18, attendees can learn the ins and outs of the book business from two publishing professionals with years of experience promoting authors and selling books.

During the morning session, Kevin Morgan Watson will lead the workshop “Don’t Forget the Small Stuff.” Say you’re a writer with a novel or memoir to sell, and you are looking for an agent, and preferably a large publisher for your book. Where do you begin? In this talk, we’ll discuss the many small steps a writer can take that could eventually lead to a book deal—steps a writer can (and should) be taking long before the novel or memoir is finished. Kevin Morgan Watson is the founding editor and publisher of Press 53, a publishing house in Winston-Salem that focuses on poetry and short fiction. Since 2005, Press 53 has published around 150 books and has earned almost forty awards. A few Press 53 authors have signed book deals with the larger New York City publishers, which Kevin considers a victory.

In the afternoon, NCWN Guilford County Regional Rep Faun Finley will lead the workshop “The Art of Branding for Authors: How to Sell Your Books by Selling Yourself.”

Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Stephen King. They are incredibly famous. But it wasn’t always that way. You know who they are, what value they bring to their audience and what to expect from them—all thanks to masterful branding. What has that got to do with you as an author? Everything. When you effectively present yourself in the market, your book sales––and any other products you may have––will increase. And that’s what you want, right?

This workshop will show you how to discover your authentic personal brand based on who you are and what you write. It will also give you tips for capitalizing on it. Branding, like writing, takes discovery, strategy, and planning. It is not something that “just happens.” But it is also a fun and exciting process that will help you further clarify your goals and better connect with your readers. With changes in the publishing industry and the ever increasing trend toward self-publishing, knowing how to brand yourself as an author is more important today than ever.

Faun Finley is an award-winning copywriter with more than a decade of experience in marketing and advertising. During her tenure at the News & Record, she has won two national awards for her online work, The Pet Shop blog, and Bargain Sense, a video show she created, co-wrote, and co-hosted. Faun has also won ten regional awards for her print ad work and is responsible for creating the brands Life Captured, Thrifty Living, Williams on Wine, and Ice Castle, among others. Contact Faun at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or www.faunfinley.com.

At Spring Conference, even the lunch hour can be used to make those literary connections you’ll need once your book is finally published. “Lunch with an Author” offers a terrific opportunity to have lunch with a small group of fellow registrants and one of our conference instructors. This is a great opportunity to talk shop with an experienced writer in a relaxed, informal setting.

Pre-registration is required to participate in “Lunch with an Author.” You will not be able to sign up on-site. Available faculty includes Faun Finley, Marianne Gingher, North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Jaki Shelton Green, Charlie Lovett, Tom Maxwell, Joseph Mills, Jacob Paul, Eleanora E. Tate, and Eric G. Wilson.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference is open through April 12. Register now!

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, and to register, visit www.ncwriters.org.


GREENSBORO―The North Carolina Writers’ Network is excited to announce a new program at the upcoming 2015 Spring Conference on Saturday, April 18, in the MHRA Building at UNC-Greensboro. 

At the end of the day, the Network will host “Slush Pile Live!”. Participation is open to all conference registrants for no additional charge.

Have you ever wondered what goes through an editor's mind as he or she reads a stack of unsolicited submissions? Here’s your chance to find out.

Over the course of the conference, attendees will drop off either 300 words of prose or one page of poetry (40-line max) at the registration table. At 5:00 pm, these anonymous submissions will be read out loud for a panel of editors. The editors will raise their hands when they come across something in the text that would make them stop reading. When each hand has been raised, the editors will discuss what they did and did not like about the piece, offering constructive feedback on the manuscript itself and the submission process.

As many submissions as the panelists can get to in an hour, that's how many they'll read: all anonymous—all live! Authors can reveal themselves at the end, to thunderous applause, befitting their bravery, but only if they want to.

“If you’ve never worked or volunteered for a publisher or literary magazine before, the submission process can seem kind of mysterious,” says NCWN Executive Director Ed Southern. “‘Slush Pile Live!’ will give attendees a peek into the editorial screening process, with the added bonus of giving feedback to anonymously submitted manuscripts in a non-threatening way.”

Those interested in having their anonymous submission read should submit a hard copy of up to 300 words of prose from a single work or one page of poetry (40-line max) at the registration table between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. Submissions should be double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font. No names should appear on the submissions.

Prose panelists include Jason T. Graves (Second Wind Publishing), Anna Sutton (John F. Blair, Publisher), and Kevin Morgan Watson (Press 53). Poetry panelists include Terry L. Kennedy (Greensboro Review, storySouth), Crystal Simone Smith (Backbone Press), and Ross White (Bull City Press).

In addition to new programming, familiar features will remain, including faculty readings, an open mic for conference participants, an exhibit hall packed with publishers and literary organizations, and “Lunch with an Author,” where conference-goers can spend less time waiting in line and more time talking with the author of their choice. Spaces in “Lunch with an Author” are limited and are first-come, first-served. Pre-registration and an additional fee are also required for this offering.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2015 Spring Conference 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, and to register, visit www.ncwriters.org.

*Photo of Kevin Morgan Watson courtesy of Sylvia Freeman.


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