Back to Network News

NCWN Welcomes Five New Trustees, Makes McMaster Full-Time

The North Carolina Writers’ Network is proud to welcome five new members to its Board of Trustees.

The current NCWN trustees approved their nominations in an election conducted on January 3, 2024. They will serve three-year terms, after which each may be re-elected.

LeJuane (El’Ja) Bowens of Fayetteville is an award-winning spoken word poet, host, speaker, workshop facilitator, and author. Born in Detroit, MI, and raised in Lima, OH, El’Ja joined the United States Army in 2000. During his six years of service, which included two deployments to Iraq, El’Ja began to commit his thoughts to paper. Since then, he has become the 2009 McDonald’s Food For Thought Poetry Slam Champion, 2010 ECU’s Survival of the Illest Poetry Slam Champion, and the first poet to have his work in the Obama Art Museum in Raleigh. In 2015 El’Ja was nominated for Spoken Word Artist of the Year at the 5th Annual National Poetry Awards. He is one of the founders and is the director for the Southeastern Regional NC Poetry Festival held once a year in Fayetteville and is a featured poet on Poetry Slam Inc and All Def Poetry on YouTube. El’Ja is also the author of the books So Many Things to Say: A Collection of PoemsAnywhere . . . But Here, and Blerd Lines.

Jeremy B. Jones of Mills River is the author of Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland (Blair, 2014), which won the 2014 Appalachian Book of the Year in nonfiction and was awarded gold in the 2015 Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards in memoir. His essays have been named Notable in Best American Essays and published in Oxford AmericanThe Iowa Review, and Brevity, among others. Jeremy earned his MFA from the University of Iowa and is an associate professor of English at Western Carolina University, in his native North Carolina. He also serves as the series co-editor for In Place: a literary nonfiction book series from WVU Press.

Russell Worth Parker of Wilmington is a retired United States Marine turned writer. He lives in Wilmington with his wife and daughter. Worth writes for a wide array of publications including The New York TimesGarden and GunThe Bitter SouthernerBackcountry JournalShooting Sportsman MagazineSalt Magazine, and websites such as SOFLETE.com, DieLiving.Com, and a number of commercial and non-profit websites. When not contemplating the complexities of arranging the same twenty-six letters in ways that will matter to other people, Worth reads, runs ultra-marathons, and seeks reasons to be outside. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado, The Florida State University College of Law, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Masters in Conflict Management and Resolution Program.

Patricia Thompson of Hickory is the acquisition editor at Redhawk Publications, a creative initiative of Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory. In this role she evaluates manuscripts from authors, negotiates author contracts, shepherds accepted titles through the publishing pipeline, and creates book launch marketing strategies. In the three years she’s been with Redhawk, she’s worked with 80+ authors and overseen the publishing of nearly 120 books. Patty is not only an outspoken advocate of the literary arts, but she champions all artistic endeavors and proudly serves as the president-elect for the United Arts Council of Catawba County. She has a twenty-year background in higher education and holds a Master’s degree in Education and Human Development from George Washington University as well as a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Georgetown University.

Michael G. Williams of Durham writes queer-themed science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror celebrating monsters, macabre humor, and subverted expectations. He’s the author of three series for Falstaff Books: the award-winning vampire/urban fantasy series The Withrow Chronicles; a new urban fantasy series featuring real estate, time travel, and San Francisco’s most beloved historical figures, SERVANT/SOVEREIGN; and the science fiction noir A Fall in Autumn, winner of the 2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award. Michael also co-hosts Arcane Carolinas, hosts and produces Social Distancing Radio, and contributes to tabletop RPG development. He strives to present the humor and humanity at the heart of horror and mystery with stories of outcasts and loners finding their people. Michael’s monthly newsletter features convention updates, recommended books by other writers, and an ongoing story exclusive for his subscribers. Michael is an avid podcaster, activist, and gaymer, and is a brother in St. Anthony Hall and Mu Beta Psi. He lives in Durham with his husband, a variety of animals, and more and better friends than he probably deserves.

In addition to welcoming these trustees, the Network has made Celeste McMaster its full-time Membership Director, effective January 2, 2024.

“In a short—and especially challenging—time, Celeste has become integral to the Network’s operations,” NCWN Executive Director Ed Southern said. “We look forward to the creative care she’ll be able to offer our members in this expanded role.”