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NC Literary Hall of Fame



ASHEVILLE—Tommy Hays has joined the North Carolina Writers' Network Board of Trustees, effective immediately.

Tommy’s first middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You, was chosen as a Fall 2013 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and was selected for the 2014 SIBA Book Award Long List as well as the American Booksellers 2014 ABC Best Books for Children Catalog. His novel The Pleasure Was Mine was a Finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award in 2006, and has been chosen for numerous community reads, including the "One City, One Book" program in Greensboro and the "Amazing Read" in Greenville, SC. The novel was read on National Public Radio’s Radio Reader and South Carolina ETVRadio’s Southern Read. His other adult novels are Sam’s Crossing, which has been recently re-released, and In the Family Way, winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.

He is Executive Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and Lecturer in the Master of Liberal Arts program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Murray State University. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, he received his BA in English from Furman University and graduated from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He lives in Asheville with his wife, Connie, and their children, Max and Ruth.

The Great Smokies Writing Program at UNC-Asheville administers the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize. 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. The program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes led by published writers and experienced teachers. Each course carries academic credit awarded through UNC-Asheville.

The North Carolina Writers' Network connects, promotes, and serves the writers of this state. It provides 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. The 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.

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.

WINSTON-SALEM—Karen Smith Linehan of Carolina Beach has won the 2016 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition for her essay, "Magnolia grandiflora." Karen will receive $1,000, and her essay will be considered for publication in Ecotone.

"This meditative nature essay’s solid sense of voice, language, and dramatic arc made it a clear standout," said final judge Kate Sweeney. "There is a sense here that every phrase and every word is chosen with great intent, and taken together, the work conveys the magnitude of this tree in a voice that is, like the tree itself, both quiet and commanding. There are minute details here, such as the description of the twenty-four hour lifespan of stamens, which end life by 'transform[ing] into red-tipped wands that flutter to the ground.' These details are threaded to memories that span the life of the narrator, bringing the essay as a whole into a much richer, larger context. ('When we were children, my sister and I gathered the fragile stamens and placed them in the pink cup of our hands.') It’s a lyrical, solid read, a wonderful piece of writing, and it gives me pleasure to nominate it as first-place winner."

Karen Smith Linehan is a lifelong naturalist with a deep love for the flora and fauna of North Carolina. A Raleigh native, she lives in Carolina Beach where her heart still skips a beat when a pelican flies over her house. Karen teaches first and second grade at Friends School of Wilmington. She has a BA in Zoology from UNC-Chapel Hill and is currently pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction through Chatham University’s low residency program. Karen and her husband, Terry, have two grown daughters, Kelsey and Dylan.

Amy Rowland of Princeton, New Jersey, placed second with her essay, "Looking for Joan Little." She'll receive $300.

Final judge Kate Sweeney said, "This is an outstanding account of a community’s collective forgetting of an event that took place some four decades before. The essay examines how what we choose to remember shapes us as a people—and also the narrator’s coming-to-terms with the fact that this same community delivered her (or him; we’re never told). The title's meaning shifts as the piece progresses—from the suspect’s original flight from authorities, to her disappearance from the public eye today, to the absence her story—or lack of story—leaves in a people’s collective narrative. From start to finish, the voice in this essay is robust as it relates, in decisive tones, a narrative that matters to who we are as a people today, at least as much as it did in 1974."

Amy's first novel, The Transcriptionist, was published by Algonquin in 2014 and received the Addison M. Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is a North Carolina native and a 2016 NEA Literature Fellow. She currently lives in Princeton, where she'll be lecturing in the fall.

Raleigh's Agnes Stevens came in third for her essay "Shelter." Agnes will receive $200.

"This essay forms a brilliant tapestry," said Sweeney, "weaving stories of childhood threats of annihilation in the form of plane crashes, nuclear explosions, and other potential menaces from the outside world. She does such a deft job of painting this family portrait of dormant dangers, generational coincidences, and cold-war fears that we never see the real explosion coming. When it does, both its form (the break-up of her own nuclear family) and its perpetrator (the 'sheltering' father) both come as a surprise that the author lands ably. I loved reading this essay, and am happy to name it as a contest finalist."

Agnes Stevens is a native North Carolinian who now calls Raleigh home. She writes personal essays and has presented her stories live on stage as a member of the 2014 Listen to Your Mother Raleigh-Durham cast and as a storyteller at the Monti in 2015. Her stories explore the extraordinary in ordinary experiences and are all set in and around Raleigh and Eastern NC. Her work received honorable mentions in the 2015 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition and the 2015 Carolina Woman writing contest. When she is not writing and telling stories for fun, she makes a living as a public relations professional.

Sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network and administered by the creative writing department at UNC-Wilmington, the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition encourages the creation of lasting nonfiction work that is outside the realm of conventional journalism. The contest is open to any legal resident of North Carolina or member of the NC Writers’ Network.

Final judge Kate Sweeney is the author of the popular nonfiction book American Afterlife (University of Georgia Press), which won the Georgia Author of the Year Away in the Essay category for 2014. A resident of Atlanta, Kate’s radio stories appear regularly on Atlanta’s NPR station, WABE 90.1 FM, and she has won five Edward R. Murrow awards as well as a number of Associated Press awards for her work. She earned her MFA at UNC-Wilmington and has taught there, as well as at Emory Continuing Education and Clayton State University.

Ecotone’s mission is to publish and promote the best place-based work being written today. Founded at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2005, the award-winning magazine features writing and art that reimagine place, and our authors interpret this charge expansively. An ecotone is a transition zone between two adjacent ecological communities, containing the characteristic species of each. It is therefore a place of danger or opportunity, a testing ground. The magazine explores the ecotones between landscapes, literary genres, scientific and artistic disciplines, modes of thought.

Rose Post worked for the Salisbury Post for fifty-six years as a reporter, feature writer, and columnist. She won numerous state and national awards for her writing and earned the NC Press Women's top annual award four times. She received the O. Henry Award from the Associated Press three times, the Pete Ivey Award, and the School Bell Award for educational coverage. Nationally, she won the 1989 Ernie Pyle Award, the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award for human-interest writing, and the 1994 National Society of Newspaper Columnists' Award.

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—The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2016 Spring Conference will be held Saturday, April 23, in the MHRA Building on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Registration is now open.

Michael Parker, of Greensboro, will give the Keynote Address. Michael is the author of six novels, including All I Have in This World, and two collections of short stories. He has received fellowships in fiction from the North Carolina Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the North Carolina Award for Literature. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia, he is the Vacc Distinguished Professor in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and since 2009 has been on the faculty of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.

Quinn Dalton, author of the novel High Strung, will lead the Fiction Master Class, “Make a Scene: Learn How to Use the Emotional Building Blocks of Fiction.” Midnight Bowling, her next novel, will be published by Carolina Wren Press in March. The Infinity of You & Me, a novel co-written with novelist and poet Julianna Baggott under the pen name J.Q. Coyle, is forthcoming from Harper Collins in the fall of 2016.

Augusta University Assistant Professor Jim Minick will lead the Creative Nonfiction Master Class, “Tension in Your Prose.” Jim is the author of four books, including his most recent, The Blueberry Years, a memoir that won the Best Nonfiction Book of the Year from the Southern Independent Booksellers Association. His novel, Fire Is Your Water, is due out in 2017.

The Poetry Master Class will be taught by Jennifer Whitaker, author of The Blue Hour, winner of the Brittingham Prize and forthcoming from the University of Wisconsin Press later this year. Jennifer’s poems have appeared in a variety of literary journals. She is an assistant poetry editor at storySouth. She currently lives in Greensboro, where she is Director of the University Writing Center at UNCG.

Additional Spring Conference offerings include poetry classes with Vievee Francis, recipient of the Rona Jaffe Prize and a Kresge Fellowship, and Matthew Olzmann, the 2015-16 Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; fiction sessions with Sweetgirl author Travis Mulhauser and Greg Shemkovitz, author of Lot Boy, who teaches writing and literature at Elon University; creative nonfiction with Myléne Dressler, the director of the Sherwood Anderson Creative Writing Program at Guilford College; writing tween nonfiction with Bonnie J. Doerr, author of eco-mystery novels for tweens; and two sessions focused on the business of books: “The Facebook Advantage” with twenty-year publishing veteran Karen M. Alley, and “Getting the Word Out: Marketing Your Book on Your Own or with Your Publisher” with Lauren Moseley, Marketing Manager at Algonquin Books.

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.”

Many familiar features 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.

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.


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