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NC Literary Hall of Fame




RALEIGH—At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Fall Conference, November 4-6 in Raleigh, members of the Triangle Association of Freelancers will lead the panel discussion "Freelance Writing 101." Moderated by Donald Vaughan, this panel also includes Mark Cantrell, Christa Gala, and Corbie Hill.

"Freelance Writing 101" will be a ninety-minute panel discussion that provides a detailed introduction to nonfiction freelance writing, including topics such as how to break in as a freelancer, general vs. niche freelancing, national vs. regional freelancing, finding and developing marketable ideas, maintaining momentum, working with editors, and the additional opportunities available to established freelance writers.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Fall Conference opens Monday, August 29, at www.ncwriters.org.

We asked Mark, Corbie, and Donald, “What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger writer self?”

"If I could advise the version of me who had just gotten his first book contract and was freaking out," Mark says, "I'd tell him this: 'Rather than look at the enormity of the project, break it up into sections and focus only on one piece at a time. Look at each chapter as you would a magazine article, which you already know how to write. When you've finished it, move on to the next, and eventually you'll have your book.'"

Mark Cantrell is the author of A Weird-Oh World: The Art of Bill Campbell, The Everything Weather Book, and co-author of Saddam: The Face of Evil and Sixteen Minutes From Home: The Space Shuttle Columbia Tragedy. He has written hundreds of articles for publications such as Military Officer Magazine, Air&Space Smithsonian, Baylor Innovations, and MAD Magazine.

"In a lot of ways, confidence is more critical than ability," says Corbie, who's authored hundreds of articles. "If you sincerely believe that you can one day write for this or that newspaper, you will find a way to gain the skill set, but believing has to come first. Doubt can sink you, fast. Also, be patient. This doesn't happen overnight."

Corbie Hill makes a freelance living by writing constantly: in 2015, nearly 200 features, profiles, and columns bearing his byline ran in regional papers and magazines. His primary outlet is The News & Observer in Raleigh, though he also regularly appears in INDY Week, Midtown Magazine, Mountain XPress, Charlotte Viewpoint, Creative Loafing Charlotte, and a number of other publications.

"One of the most important things I would tell my younger writer self is to diversify," says Donald, founder of TAF. "By that, I mean cast a wide net when it comes to writing opportunities and don't focus on just a small handful of markets. Diversity puts a few eggs in many baskets, and can be a lifesaver when one area of work starts to crumble. I learned this the hard way after 9/11. I lost several lucrative markets in the wake of that disaster, and even had to spend a few months working retail to support myself until I could land some replacement markets and crawl my way out. Today, I try to keep my hand in as many different areas of freelancing as I can."

Donald Vaughan has been making his living with words for thirty-eight years, and has worked as a full-time freelance writer for twenty-five years. During that time, he has published more than 1,900 articles and columns in an eclectic array of markets, including The News & Observer in Raleigh, Writer’s Digest, Boys’ Life, Military Officer Magazine, Cure Magazine, and MAD Magazine. In addition, Don has written, co-written, or contributed to more than thirty books on topics ranging from the Civil War to American festivals. He is the founder of Triangle Association of Freelancers, one of the largest organizations in North Carolina devoted to all aspect of freelance writing.

Christa Gala, a professional freelance writer and adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Media and Journalism, will also sit on the panel. In 2015, she combined teaching with the launch of Raleigh Magazine, a monthly publication featuring a hybrid of news journalism and lifestyle writing. Christa has written for www.golfdigest.com, North Carolina State University, Our State, and The News & Observer in Raleigh, among others. She was a columnist for the Cary News; her work has also been featured in four Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her clients have included Girl Scouts of America, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Duke Medical Center, Hummingbird Creative Group, and a variety of regional restaurants and businesses.

The Triangle Association of Freelancers is an informal but actively working organization of North Carolina-based freelance writers. Though informal, TAF maintains a professional attitude toward freelance writing. The organization’s approach has always been to write toward publication, and that writers should be paid appropriately for their work. A core philosophy within TAF is that writing is an ongoing educational experience. With that in mind, the organization has hosted an eclectic array of talented guest speakers at its monthly meetings, which happen on the last Wednesday of the month at Red Hot & Blue, 6615 Falls of Neuse Rd., in Raleigh. Dinner is at 5:30 pm, and the meeting begins at 7:00 pm. Newcomers welcome. Their website is www.tafnc.com.

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.


RALEIGH—With some 200 writers in attendance, as well as dozens of faculty and publishing professionals, the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2016 Fall Conference is the largest writing conference in the state and one of the biggest and most inclusive in the country. It’s a great chance for writers to network, but more importantly, it’s a chance for beginners and bestselling authors alike to focus on writing for an entire weekend and quickly improve their craft.

Registration is now open at www.ncwriters.org.

Fall Conference happens November 4-6 at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley. It's the only Network-sponsored event where attendees can receive one-on-one feedback from editors or agents.

By pre-registering for either the Critique Service or the Manuscript Mart, writers receive in-depth literary critique of their fiction, nonfiction, or poetry by a seasoned writer or editor (Critique Service) or the chance to pitch their manuscripts and get feedback from an editor or agent with a leading publisher or literary agency (Manuscript Mart). While either of these programs might lead to publication, conference-goers will get more out of these half-hour sessions if they approach them as an opportunity, above all else, to learn to write better. This kind of personal attention is only one small part of what promises to be a full weekend of classes, readings, panels, and an open mic for conference participants.

2016 North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Margaret Maron, of Willow Springs, will give the Keynote Address. Maron is the five-time Agatha Award-winning mystery writer of the Deborah Knott series, which is set in Johnston County. In 2015, she was given a lifetime achievement award by Bouchercon, the world mystery convention.

Saturday’s luncheon will feature three authors from UNC Press’ Savor the South series: Debbie Moose, Bridgette A. Lacy, and John Shelton Reed. They’ll talk about how good food writing is about so much more than just food.

2014 North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee and current NC poet laureate Shelby Stephenson will be the featured guest at Saturday night’s banquet. He’ll talk about writing, read some poetry, and most likely strum a little bit on his guitar.

Program offerings include the second annual All Stories Connect panel discussion. This year’s theme is “A Conversation about Culture” with Shervon Cassim, Sheila Smith McKoy, Donna Miscolta, and Elaine Neil Orr. Sunday morning will once again feature the popular Brilliant at Breakfast panel discussion “Agents and Editors,” featuring Michelle Brower of Zachary Shuster Harmsworth; Robin Miura, editor of Carolina Wren Press; Emma Patterson of Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents, Inc.; and Kathy Pories, Senior Editor at Algonquin Books.

Angela Davis-Gardner will lead the Master Class in Fiction, “The Power of Subtext in Fiction.” Davis-Gardner is the author of four critically acclaimed novels and has won several teaching awards for her work with MFA and undergraduate writing students. In this workshop, registrants will focus on the emotions that lie beneath the conflicts in a story and how to write subtext using particular details in setting, characters’ body language and gestures, dialogue (what’s not said), and silences.

The Master Class in Creative Nonfiction will be led by Haven Kimmel, bestselling author of two memoirs, four novels, and two children’s books. In this workshop, attendees will explore voice, the art of memory, fact-based memoir, and ways to structure creative nonfiction.

Dorianne Laux will lead the Poetry Master Class, “At Work with the Masters.” Attendees will look at the work of three poets—Ruth Stone, Lynn Emmanuel, and Lucille Clifton—to see how they craft a poem. Then they’ll try their hand at imitations. Laux is the recipient of three Best American Poetry Prizes, two fellowships from the NEA, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She directs the Program in Creative Writing at North Carolina State University. Registrants of the Master Classes should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.

Additional poetry classes include “Image and Narrative” with Guggenheim and NEA fellow Joseph Millar; “Writing Haiku” with Lenard D. Moore, recipient of the 2014 NC Award for Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor; and “The Furniture of the Poem: The Space of the Page and How We Fill It” with Chris Tonelli, poet and owner of Raleigh’s So & So Bookstore.

Fiction writers will choose from a full slate of class offerings including “Minute Particulars” with Raleigh’s Kim Church, whose debut novel Byrd won the Crook’s Corner Book Prize for best debut novel set in the South; “Ending Well: Short Story Endings and Their Lessons” with Clare Beams, author of the forthcoming short-story collection We Show What We Have Learned (Lookout Books, 2016). Poet, playwright, and arts educator Howard L. Craft will teach “Developing Authentic Dialog”; and Art Taylor, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, will teach “Sharp, Succinct & Suspenseful: Crafting the Mystery Story.”

Other classes focus on some aspect of the publishing industry. Poet, NCWN trustee, and NCWN regional rep for Wake County, Alice Osborn, will teach “How to be a Rock Star at PR”; the Triangle Area Freelancers will lead the panel discussion on “Freelance Writing 101”; intellectual property attorney Mitch Tuchman will talk to writers about “Copyright Infringement”; Ross White, poet and founder/publisher of Bull City Press, will lead “Grammar Gone Wild”; and Kim Church and Emma Patterson will chat about “How to Work with an Agent.”

Other classes are meant to appeal to authors who write across genres: award-winning Young Adult and New Adult author Jen McConnel will ask “YA/NA: What’s the Big Deal?”; Zelda Lockhart, founder of LaVenson Press Studios, will guide attendees through “The Relationship Museum”; award-winning writer and folklorist Eleanora E. Tate will lead a class on children’s writing; and sci-fi writer Ian J. Malone will teach a class called “Beyond Vanity: How Indie Publishing Builds Professional Writers.”

Once again, the Network will offer the Mary Belle Campbell Scholarship, which sends two poets who teach full-time to the Fall Conference. Other scholarships are available, including one sponsored by Marc Graham, author of Of Ashes and Dust.

2016 Fall Conference sponsors include Chatham-Lee Counties NCWN regional rep Al Manning; Alice Osborn: Editor/Book Coach/Author; The 2017 Piedmont Laureate Program; the University of North Carolina Press; Marc Graham, author of Of Ashes and Dust; and the North Carolina Arts Council.

For more information, and to register, visit www.ncwriters.org.


RALEIGH—At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Fall Conference, November 4-6 in Raleigh, North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee and current NC poet laureate Shelby Stephenson will be the featured guest at Saturday night's annual banquet. He'll talk writing, read some poetry, and maybe even strum a little bit on his guitar.

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. He was a 2014 inductee to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. Since 2015, Shelby has served his home state as North Carolina’s Poet Laureate. His website is www.shelbystephenson.com.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Fall Conference is open.

We asked Shelby, “What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger writer self?”

I think the main thing is to believe in yourself. Make sure you face the page with some discipline. Once you do that you may find the words finding themselves and you are following them, as your story or poem or essay makes.

What I'm trying to say is that everyone is different. The thing to do is DO it. And the vulnerable places, the subjects you think you cannot write about, the whole matter of not having anything to say, perhaps—well, please know you will feel better if you just let go and try, let the syllables find you. See what happens.

To register for the NCWN 2016 Fall Conference, visit www.ncwriters.org.

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.


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