Logo for: North Carolina Writer's Network

Full Schedule with Descriptions

8 – 9 am Registration Open

MHRA Lobby

8:30 am – 5 pm Exhibits & Book Sales Open

MHRA Lobby


9 – 10 am Keynote Address by Jill McCorkle

Curry Auditorium

Jill McCorkle has the distinction of having published her first two novels on the same day in 1984.  Of these novels, the New York Times Book Review said: “one suspects the author of The Cheer Leader is a born novelist.  With July 7th, she is also a full grown one.” Since then she has published five other novels—most recently Hieroglyphics (2020 Algonquin Books)—and five collections of short stories, including 2024’s Old Crimes. Five of her books have been named New York Times notable books and four of her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories.  An essay, “Cuss Time,” originally published in The American Scholar, was selected for Best American Essays. McCorkle has received the New England Booksellers Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, the North Carolina Award for Literature, and the Thomas Wolfe Prize. In 2018 she was inducted into the NC Literary Hall of Fame.

10:30 am – 12 pm Session I

Creative Nonfiction Master Class: Elevating Life into Art with Stephanie Elizondo Griest

Memoirs. Travelogues. Lyric Essays. Literary Journalism. Testimonios. No matter whether you are conducting an internal excavation or an external investigation, all forms of Creative Nonfiction are welcome in this workshop. We will strive to push your essays to the next level by taking risks both in content and in form. Questions we’ll be asking: Where is the pulse? How can it beat louder—or deeper? Should the story follow a classic rise-fall arc or be a fractured narrative with a scrambled chronology? In addition to critiquing each other’s work, we will also discuss ways of feeding ourselves as artists both figuratively and literally, by sharing our motivations and strategizing on sustainable ways of fueling our practice. So join us. Together, we will be pilgrims wandering the wilderness of memory. Arbiters of the dynamic Fourth Genre. We will elevate life into art. We will write words that matter.  

Please submit up to 1,500 sequential words from a single work, along with your current CV in a separate attachment, on the same day that you register for the conference. Submissions should be saved in an MS Word document, using double-spaced 12-point Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman font, with numbered pages, and sent as an attachment to masterclass@ncwriters.org. The Word document’s file name should include your own last name, and the title of the work and your name should appear on the submission itself. If accepted into the Master Class, your submitted work will be shared with other Master Class registrants.

Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.

Fiction Master Class: Smaller, Better with Halle Hill

The boring bits of everyday life are secret jewels. Eudora Welty calls them “continuous threads of revelation.” Yet, we have trouble seeing them. Or valuing them. Our distracted world praises excess. But fiction writing thrives on specificity. What would it look like if we slowed down and looked closer – to the gross, the horrible, the erotic, the subtle? In this Fiction Master Class we will practice trusting “smallness,” reviewing and revising your submitted work with an eye for essential details. Additionally, we will do a few exercises that develop confident self-trust and lead the way for intention. Together, we will discuss techniques for brevity, as we carve back our pieces to a stronger, more voice-assured place. We will read four brief examples from writers and poets to warm up our awareness and tune our ears. Please bring a notebook and pen in case we have time for an image-making generative practice. 

Please submit up to 1,500 sequential words from a single work, along with your current CV in a separate attachment, on the same day that you register for the conference. Submissions should be saved in an MS Word document, using double-spaced 12-point Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman font, with numbered pages, and sent as an attachment to masterclass@ncwriters.org. The Word document’s file name should include your own last name, and the title of the work and your name should appear on the submission itself. If accepted into the Master Class, your submitted work will be shared with other Master Class registrants.

Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.

Poetry Master Class: Our “I” and Our Dreams: Writing with a Speaker Who is Less Afraid with Tyree Daye

My poems, like my dreams, contain another self. Who can “overwhelm the Devil.” They contain my braver self, who does not mine the places, people known and unknown. This self can communicate with ghosts, look every cousin in their eyes, and tell them I love you. In this way, I think we, as poets and all artists, work inside the metaphysically “I,” an “I” that Dorothea Lasky states “is always a kind of performer. The ‘I’ of a poem necessarily wears a mask and is an actor. Upon its birth, it has been given the holy task of acting both like and not like its real self.” In our workshop we will examine how poets write an “I” that is “like and not like its real self,” which allows them to approach more difficult subject matter.

Please submit three poems, totaling no more than five pages, on the same day that you register for the conference, along with your current CV in a separate attachment. Poems should be saved in a single MS Word document, using single-spaced, 12-point, Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman font, and sent as an attachment to masterclass@ncwriters.org. The Word document’s file name should include your own last name, and your name and the title of each poem should appear on the submission. If accepted into the Master Class, your submitted work will be shared with other Master Class registrants.

Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.

Launching Your Book into a World of Readers with Mimi Herman

Congratulations! Your book has been accepted for publication. After a suitable spell of jumping around and screaming, followed by a lovely bottle of champagne, it’s time to start thinking about finding your readers. Of course your family and close friends will buy your book—and hopefully even read it—but what about people you’ve never met? In this hands-on class, you’ll start creating a plan to reach readers, reviewers, podcasts, bookstores, libraries, festivals, and competitions so you can give your book the best chance of succeeding in the world. And for those of you still trying to get published, come join us, so you’ll be prepared for that wonderful day when you succeed.

Story In Verse: Writing the Narrative Poem with Steve Cushman

Whether a short ballad or a giant epic, a narrative poem tells a story, employing character, setting, plot, and other prose fiction devices. In this class, we’ll take a look at the specific craft of narrative poetry by reading classic and contemporary examples and, through prompts and exercises, begin writing some of our own.

In a Flash: Playing Around with Short Fiction with Hananah Zaheer

With a focus on style and structure, this generative workshop is for writers at any point of their career. We will read and discuss published short works and craft new work in response to prompts and activities. Expect to leave the workshop with some new ideas or the beginnings of a couple of drafts. Time permitting, we can also consider venues for publishing short work.

Building Suspense No Matter the Genre with Kimmery Martin

In this class novelist Kimmery Martin will offer 10 strategies to help you build and maintain suspense in your novel, no matter its genre . . . plus 5 suspense-killers you’ll want to avoid.

12 – 1 pm Lunch with an Author (or lunch on your own)

Lunch with an Author allows small groups of registrants to enjoy boxed lunches and informal conversation with one of our Spring Conference faculty members. Those who wish to participate in Lunch with an Author must sign up with a particular author when they register for the conference.

This year registrants will have the option of signing up for Lunch with an Author, but bringing their own lunch. We recommend this option for those with food allergies or dietary restrictions.

For those who prefer lunch on their own, there is a wide range of dining options a short distance from the conference venue.

1:15 – 2:15 pm Faculty Readings

2:30 – 4 pm Session II

Creative Nonfiction Master Class: Elevating Life into Art with Stephanie Elizondo Griest (Continued: See Above)

Fiction Master Class: Smaller, Better with Halle Hill (Continued: See Above)

Poetry Master Class: Our “I” and Our Dreams: Writing with a Speaker Who is Less Afraid with Tyree Daye (Continued: See Above)

The Coveted Yet Dreaded ‘R&R’ with Lisa Williams Kline

An R&R (a “Revise & Resubmit” request from an agent or editor) is coveted because it means your manuscript is receiving attention and you’re closer to finding it a home. But it’s also dreaded because it may mean months of work with no guarantee of publication. Are you inspired by what you’re being asked to do, or does it compromise your vision of your story? You could end up in writers’ limbo, with a manuscript that hasn’t been rejected but hasn’t been accepted, either.

Lisa Williams Kline, who has received more R&Rs than she cares to admit, will discuss common reasons for R&R’s, ways she’s tried to decode the language of agents and editors, and her responses to R&Rs with varying levels of success. She’s also canvassed colleagues, agents, and editors who offer anecdotal accounts and advice (sometimes with names changed to protect the innocent).

Walk the Line (poetry) with Lex Orgera

What is a good line of poetry? For that matter, what is a good line break? In this workshop we’ll explore various theories about the poetic line and where and why to break—or not break—one. So many choices: line length versus prose poem; enjambment versus end stop. And what do breath, rhythm, and image have to do with it?  We’ll discuss ideas, look at examples, and do some practice exercises to explore the choices we make in service of walking the line.  

Assembly Required: Structuring Prose Work with Jill McCorkle

This class will be all about process and structure. What do you do with lots of little ideas or scraps of dialogue that you think might be part of something bigger? Where do you even begin? As an avid note taker and collector of images and situations I observe along the way, I often have a stash of ideas I am interested in pursuing with no idea where they might go or how they connect into something bigger. For me, this is the constant challenge and reward.  

Writing the Young Adult Novel: Tips, Tricks, and Industry Advice with Victoria Wlosok

Discover how to craft a propulsive Young Adult (YA) novel that keeps your readers fully engaged, tells an authentic story, and prepares your work for publication.

4:30 – 5:30 pm Open Mic Readings

Open Mic Readings I

Open Mic Readings II

Sign up at the conference registration table if you would like to share your work. Only twenty reading slots, of five minutes each, will be available, first-come, first-served.

5:30 – 6:30 pm Slush Pile Live!

The annual Slush Pile Live! will offer both poetry and prose in two rooms so that more attendees have a chance to receive feedback on their writing. Have you ever wondered what goes through an editor’s mind as he or she reads through a stack of unsolicited submissions? Here’s your chance to find out.

Beginning at 4:00 pm, attendees may drop off either 300 words of prose or one page of poetry. The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript, but the title and the genre should.

Then, at 5:30 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! (Authors can reveal themselves at the end, but only if they want to.)

Submissions should be double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font. The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript, but the title and the genre should.