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NC Literary Hall of Fame




GREENSBORO—The North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Spring Conference will welcome Brittingham Prize-winning poet Jennifer Whitaker, who'll lead the Master Class in Poetry.

The NCWN 2016 Spring Conference happens Saturday, April 23, in the MHRA Building at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Registration is now open.

Jennifer Whitaker is the author of The Blue Hour, winner of the Brittingham Prize and forthcoming from the University of Wisconsin Press in 2016. Her poems have appeared in journals including Radar Poetry, New England Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Four Way Review. Originally from Midlothian, Virginia, Jennifer earned her MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is an assistant poetry editor at storySouth. She currently lives in Greensboro, where she is Director of the University Writing Center at UNCG.

Applicants must apply for Jennifer's Poetry Master Class. In Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin, she writes: "Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow." Central to this workshop will be questions of audience, intention, and craft. Of course, the poet's intention matters insomuch as it is played out on the page, so the discussion will aim to focus (in part) on poetic form: How is the poem built? What is its strength? Is it most interesting for its tone, diction, metaphor, shape, narrative, movement? What makes a poem successful and memorable?

Other poetry sessions include "The Ars Poetica: Developing a Personal Vision" with Vievee Francis and "Writing the Autobiographical Moment in Poetry" with Matthew Olzmann.

Vievee Francis is the author of three books of poetry, Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State University Press, 2006), Horse in the Dark (winner of the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Second Book Prize), and the recently released Forest Primeval (Northwestern University Press), which has been long listed for the PEN Open Book Award. She is the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Prize and a Kresge Fellowship. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Best American Poetry (2010, 2014), Poetry Magazine, and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, among others. She is currently an Associate Editor for Callaloo and a Visiting Poet at North Carolina State University.

At some point poets have all written a poem on writing poems. Sometimes such poems are written simply to explore or expose their own processes as they write, or to vent their frustrations over the challenges of writing poetry. The poem is made as much by the way they think (about poetry and at large) as how well they negotiate craft. In Vievee's workshop, registrants will do a writing exercise and take a close look at various examples of the ars poetica. Further, they will discuss how they might ultimately develop and articulate a larger aim, cultivating their attitudes, concepts, and the contextualization of their work “twig by twig” (as Archibald MacLeish wryly notes in his poem, "Ars Poetica") toward a comprehensive personal vision.

Matthew Olzmann is the author of two collections of poems: Mezzanines (Alice James Books, 2013) and Contradictions in the Design, which is forthcoming from Alice James Books in November, 2016. He’s received scholarships and fellowships from Kundiman, the Kresge Arts Foundation and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in Kenyon Review, New England Review, Necessary Fiction, Brevity, Southern Review, and elsewhere. He’s currently the 2015-16 Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dinty W. Moore says, “It is not what happens to us in our lives that makes us into writers; it is what we make out of what happens to us.” In Matthew's session, "Writing the Autobiographical Moment in Poetry," attendees will examine how the autobiographical moment is most effectively presented in poetry and how that moment can be expanded to transform the speaker’s private experience into a personal experience for the reader as well. Through close readings of several poems, they’ll discuss successful strategies, and consider how those same strategies can be applied to their own writing. This will be a generative workshop. Registrants will write in class with the goal of producing drafts for at least two new poems.

Pr-registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Spring Conference ends Sunday, April 17. Register here!


GREENSBORO—As anyone who's published a book knows, the hard work begins once the book is out in the world. Many authors struggle to bring their book to market, and to find readers. But the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Spring Conference offers a glimpse inside the industry through special programming and two sessions designed to teach authors how to assemble their own marketing campaign and leverage today's technology in order to sell more books.

"Getting the Word Out: Marketing Your Book on Your Own or with Your Publisher," will be led by Lauren Moseley.

Whether an author has a self-published a book or signed a contract with a Big Five publisher, there’s much he or she can do to market their own work, and it’s never too early or too late to get started. In this session, the Marketing Manager of Algonquin Books will lead an in-depth course on what authors can do to bring your book to a wider audience, from one year before your book’s publication date to well after its release. She’ll discuss examples from successful campaigns for books currently in the marketplace and tips that have proven effective for a variety of authors and genres. The final part of the course will focus on advice for how to best work with a publisher on a marketing campaign, practical dos and don’ts, and a Q&A session. Please come with questions!

Lauren Moseley is the Marketing Manager at Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, which has been publishing literary fiction and nonfiction since 1983. She has worked on campaigns for scores of books since joining Algonquin in 2011, including regional, national, and New York Times bestsellers. Lauren received an MFA from UNCG in 2008 and continues to write and publish poetry. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Pleiades, Narrative magazine, BOAAT, Mississippi Review, the anthologies Best New Poets and Women Write Resistance, and elsewhere. She has been a recipient of an artist’s grant from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She lives in Durham.

In the afternoon, Karen M. Alley will lead the workshop "The Facebook Advantage."

In this day and age, if you are a published author, a writer hoping to be published one day, or someone just looking for an audience for your writing, you can’t deny the power of Facebook and other social media. These platforms serve as a way to build relationships and expand your audience. In this course she will talk about the growing importance of Facebook and other social media sites such as Pinterest and Twitter in the publishing sphere, how they benefit writers, how authors can best use them to build their own relationships with their readers, and how to increase followers.

Karen M. Alley is a freelance writer and editor who has been working in the publishing industry for about twenty years. In that time she has served as editor of the IGA Grocergram, editor of Carolina Gardener Magazine, and web editor for Piedmont Parent. Her varied background has given her the chance to gain experience in everything from building a social network to editing a wide range of writing, both fiction and nonfiction. Her own work has been published in O’Henry magazine, Charlotte and Carolina Parent magazines, and various business publications.

The Network will offer the second installment of the popular “Slush Pile Live!”, but with one major change: poetry and prose will now be read in two rooms, so that more attendees have a chance to receive feedback on their writing.

Beginning at 4:00 pm, attendees may drop off either 300 words of prose or one page of poetry in the room of their choice. At 5:00 pm, a panel of editors will listen to the submissions being read out loud and raise their hand when they hear something that would make them stop reading if the piece were being submitted to their publication. The editors will discuss what they did and did not like about the sample, offering constructive feedback on the manuscript itself and the submission process. All anonymous—all live!

“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!’ gives attendees a peek into what goes through an editor’s mind as they read their way through a stack of unsolicited submissions, with the added bonus of giving feedback to anonymously submitted manuscripts in a non-threatening way.”

The NCWN 2016 Spring Conference is sponsored in part by the Greensboro News & Record; WFDD 88.5 FM: Public Radio for the Piedmont; and UNCG’s Creative Writing Program, which will provide free parking for Spring Conference registrants in the Oakland Avenue Parking Deck, across Forest Street from the MHRA Building (behind Yum Yum Better Ice Cream and Old Town Draught House). For directions, click here.

Pre-registration is open through Sunday, April 17.

The non-profit 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 fiction offerings at the upcoming North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Spring Conference, Saturday, April 23, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will encourage attendees to build a firm foundation before choosing to zig when others zag by finding inspiration in the everyday and establishing a firm sense of place.

Spring Conference registration is now open.

Quinn Dalton will lead the Master Class in Fiction, "Make a Scene: Learn How to Use the Emotional Building Blocks of Fiction."

What is a scene? What should scenes do—and not do? How do you get into and out of them? How do you assess whether a scene is doing the work you want it to do for the story? Through exercises, prompts and discussion, you’ll learn to create scenes that propel your stories and keep your readers engaged until the final line. Then we’ll apply this perspective to your own in-progress work.

Master Classes require a separate application; each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.

Quinn Dalton is the author of a novel, High Strung, and two story collections, Bulletproof Girl and Stories from the Afterlife. Stories, essays, and articles on publishing and the writing craft have appeared in literary and commercial publications such as Glimmer Train, One Story, Poets & Writers, Mediabistro.com, and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best. Midnight Bowling, a novel, is forthcoming from Carolina Wren Press in March. The Infinity of You & Me, a novel co-written with the novelist and poet Julianna Baggott under the pen name J.Q. Coyle, is forthcoming from Harper Collins in the fall of 2016.

Other fiction sessions include "Not Set in Stone: The Importance of Place in Fiction" with Travis Mulhauser. This will be a focused discussion on the craft of setting your fiction—particularly, the importance of place. A critical, often overlooked element of our stories, setting too often stands flat—like bad background props in a low budget play. Setting can be the soil your story grows from, but it can also move fluidly through the narrative and impact our stories on every level—ultimately creating a multi-dimensional, immersive experience for the reader. And perhaps most importantly, a fully rendered place can often be the key to the universal in our fiction.

This workshop will look at contemporary master works, incorporate student questions and input, and talk about specific strategies for creating vibrant, realized “places.”

Travis Mulhauser is from Petoskey, Michigan. He is the author of two works of fiction, most recently the novel Sweetgirl from Ecco/Harper Collins. He lives in Durham with his wife and two children.

In the afternoon, Greg Shemkovitz will teach registrants how to "Make Something of Nothing." This workshop will look at how writers can enhance a narrative by bringing gravity to the ordinary. By letting the concrete bear the weight of the abstract—whether through symbolism, metaphor, simile, or even through gesture—a simple narrative moment can take on a whole new layer of tension. We will look at how to identify existing unutilized objects in a scene and how to complicate a moment by giving attention to an otherwise overlooked element, always in the hopes of bringing depth to the narrative and enhancing the emotions we feel for these characters. Workshop attendees will participate in short writing activities and should be prepared with a pen or pencil.

Greg Shemkovitz lives in North Carolina and teaches writing and literature at Elon University. He holds an MFA from UNC-Greensboro. His fiction has appeared in Foundling Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Prick of the Spindle, and elsewhere. His debut novel, Lot Boy (Sunnyoutside Press 2015) was a finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award: www.gregshemkovitz.wordpress.com.

Anyone interested in writing for tweens won't want to miss Bonnie J. Doerr's "Tween Fiction: Writing Against the Current." Thinking of writing for young readers who are not quite ready for edgy books? Want to try something other than the current trends of dark fantasy, science fiction, post apocalyptic, dystopian, and the like? To get books into the hands of 10–14 year-old (tween) readers it helps to hook the gatekeepers. Rather than discussing techniques of the craft itself, this session will inspire ways to do just that with realistic fiction. How can you draw librarians, teachers, and parents to your work? Offer them practical applications of your fiction’s components. This workshop will present specific examples of such applications. Examples include activities to enhance a variety of subjects in any school’s curricula; to enliven a reading/signing event; as well as those that entertain, inform, engage, and encourage audience interaction during school visits and presentations. Though these examples concentrate on realistic fiction, the concepts can be applied to all genres. Time will be devoted to discussion and sharing ideas.

Bonnie J. Doerr, an educator, gardener, and wildlife enthusiast, is the author of eco-mystery novels for tweens. Her work, which features endangered or threatened wildlife and the real-life heroes who rescue, rehab, and release them, has been described as a “mashup of Jean Craighead George and Carl Hiaasen” by some and as a “teen detective series inspired by Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Lassie” by others. Island Sting (Leap Books 2010) won the 2011 EPIC Children’s eBook award, and Stake Out (Leap Books 2011) was a 2012 Green Earth YA Book Award finalist. Third in the series, Tangled Lines, is scheduled for release summer of 2016. Visit the author at http://bonniedoerrbooks.com.

Along with workshops and sessions hosted by top-notch faculty, Spring Conference will again offer additional beloved programming, including faculty readings, an open mic for conference participants, Lunch with an Author (pre-registration required), and the second annual installment of the popular Slush Pile Live!

The NCWN 2016 Spring Conference is sponsored in part by the Greensboro News & Record; WFDD 88.5 FM: Public Radio for the Piedmont; and UNCG’s Creative Writing Program, which will provide free parking for Spring Conference registrants in the Oakland Avenue Parking Deck, across Forest Street from the MHRA Building (behind Yum Yum Better Ice Cream and Old Town Draught House). For directions, click here.

Pre-registration is open through Sunday, April 17, at www.ncwriters.org.


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