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Holiday Gift Ideas for Writers

It’s the giving season, which means there might be a writer on your list. Or maybe you’re that lucky writer on someone else’s list! Either way, here are some great gift ideas for writers:

A gift certificate to your local independent bookstore. Good writers are wide readers. Plus, you support a local business! It’s a win-win.

A subscription to Freedom.to. With so much going on in the world, it’s easy to become distracted by our various news and social media feeds. Freedom gives you exactly that: freedom from distraction, so you can write.

Any and all of our NC-based small presses will be happy to sell you a book or two by their authors, direct from their website.

Know somebody who could use some help planning a book? Plottr and Scrivener offer effective and affordable software.

A subscription to an NC-based literary journal. From The Greensboro Review (est. 1966) to Variant Literary Journal (est. 2019), NC literary journals come in all shapes and sizes (see: Inch).

For that writer who spends a lot of time driving or cleaning etc., audiobooks are a great way to go. Subscriptions start around $16 a month on Audible, which is quite the steal when you consider most books run 10 hours or more….

Short on cash? You can give the gift of time. (This is what all writers really want more of anyway!) Does that writer in your life have kids? Offer to babysit. Do you live with the writer? Offer to do their chores for a weekend. Got a friend with a beach house? Ask that friend if you can send your writer there free during the off-season for a DIY writer’s retreat.

Love books? So does Lithographs. Puzzles, posters, shower curtains, and much, much more, all made by words from cherished literary works forming striking, unforgettable images.

If the medium is the message, maybe that old-school writer on your list would appreciate a real-life journal from Moglea. Or maybe an old-school fountain pen from the Carolina Pen Company; a kind of promise for when the gift recipient has copies of their own book to sign.

A gift membership to the North Carolina Writers’ Network. For someone hoping to improve their writing craft, joining a 1,400+ member organization that offers programs and resources for writers of all levels and experiences is a great place to start.

Happy holidays!

You Made Yesterday Our Givingest Day

We have no words to describe your generous support of the Network on this year’s Giving Tuesday.

OK, that’s not true. We do have words, of course, but this morning, all of them seem either inadequate, or unnecessarily violent: We didn’t just meet our goal, we beat it . . . by a lot.

We had hoped for 75 Giving Tuesday donations. Instead, as of midnight last night, we had received 105. That’s almost double the number of gifts received on what had been our best day for donations.

We know we have more on the way, too. Many of you let us know that you’re putting a check in the mail. We’re grateful for every cent of support y’all have offered.

The Network still faces a challenging year, but what y’all did yesterday makes the rest of the year a lot less daunting. On behalf of the staff, board, and all the writers the Network seeks to serve, we thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Ed Southern
Executive Director
North Carolina Writers’ Network
ed@ncwriters.org

Where’s the Moon?

Welcome to the final installment of the “Prompt Party!” During The NCWN Writingest State Online Conference, Saturday, November 14, sponsored by Plottr, we randomly assigned a genre to rooms of randomly assigned attendees. Then, we gave a prompt:

A scientist manages to reanimate a 300-year-old werewolf that he finds in the museum archive fault, but the werewolf turns out to be nebbish and timid and riddled with insecurities. Meanwhile, a group of kindergarteners are in the hall waiting to tour the lab…

Last week, we shared what was created by our fiction, newspaper article, and stage & screen rooms. Last but certainly not least, here’s what our poets came up with:

WHERE’S THE MOON? (or, The Werewolf’s Lament)
by Sarah Blanchard, Alyssa Coleman, Jorge Cortese, and Ed Southern

Where’s the Moon? I can’t see the Moon.
Eons ago, the moon was closer, larger.
She held water in her seas, in her caverns, in her arms.
The Moon was there to change me, and
the Moon was always there. But now I’ve been
in a human cave for so long.
If the moon isn’t here to change me, I am only a man.
The ancient blood moves through me,
rising and falling like the moon’s seas.

There are children out there.
I can hear them laughing in the hall. How
could I not, with these ears?
I could hear them laughing two towns over.
(Are they laughing at me now?)
I was a teacher once, and I loved the children. They
were kind, and eager to learn.
But now I only feel that
they smell so sweet. Sweet
and tasty, like a dessert.
Small children are delicious, I can remember now,
But, oh, so cruel as well.
I want to teach again, like I did after the French Revolution,
But I’m afraid to ask.
I want to be under the Moon again
But the night is also cruel.

Werewolf Rescues Children from Nuclear Jam

During “The Prompt Party” at The NCWN Writingest State Online Conference, Saturday, November 14, sponsored by Plottr, we broke up into four separate rooms and randomly assigned a genre to the randomly assigned attendees. Then, we gave a prompt:

A scientist manages to reanimate a 300-year-old werewolf that he finds in the museum archive fault, but the werewolf turns out to be nebbish and timid and riddled with insecurities. Meanwhile, a group of kindergarteners are in the hall waiting to tour the lab…

If you missed the “Short Scene” and “Fiction” contributions, click on the appropriate links! A third room was assigned the genre of “Newspaper Article.” Here’s what that room wrote:

Werewolf Rescues Children from Nuclear Jam
11/14/2020

CLEVELAND, OH—While working in the museum lab, Dr. Marc Shelley unearthed an astonishing discovery. While a kindergarten class from R.J. Lockhart Elementary school looked on, there suddenly appeared a magical being. Although one kindergartener was sucked into the beam, authorities report that he has been recovered in the cafeteria eating his peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich.

The werewolf, whom sources have identified as “Woody,” emerged from the lab into the hallway and asked the students, “Should I be worried about the peanut butter?” One child responded sheepishly, “Well, only if you left the raspberry jam on the sandwich.”

Docents were alarmed when the teacher throwing the raspberry jam jar into the light promptly vanished as well, leaving the kindergarteners with the docents.

Woody the Werewolf looked at the docents and said, “Y’know, I wonder if this happened because of GMO foods, because my mother always said to avoid GMO foods and especially peanut butter with raspberry jam, I mean, what, are we now in charge of these kids?”

Dr. Shelley, stepping back, exclaimed: “That’s it! I knew the raspberry farm was sitting next to the nuclear power plant and yet I allowed Woody to eat that raspberry jam and peanut butter anyway!”

The children were safely returned to school by Woody and authorities are investigating an outbreak of nuclear raspberry jam reactions in the cafeteria. More information will be released after investigation by Dr. Marc Shelley and his university.

(Additional reporting by Susan Musilli, Bob Slentz-Kesler, and Nancy Williard.)

The Werewolf You Deserve

Yesterday, we shared one of the responses to the prompt given during “The Prompt Party” at The NCWN Writingest State Online Conference, Saturday, November 14, sponsored by Plottr. During the event, participants broke up into four separate rooms and were randomly assigned a genre. Then, they were given a prompt:

A scientist manages to reanimate a 300-year-old werewolf that he finds in the museum archive fault, but the werewolf turns out to be nebbish and timid and riddled with insecurities. Meanwhile, a group of kindergarteners are in the hall waiting to tour the lab…

One of our rooms was assigned the genre of “Fiction.” (For yesterday’s “Stage and Screen” response, click here.) Here’s what the Fiction room wrote.

 

THE WEREWOLF YOU DESERVE

by Erim Akpan, Vivian Bikulege, and Ward Brian Zimmerman

“It’s alive!” The werewolf starts moving, confused. He focuses on the door, hears the children outside.

“I’m scared,” says the werewolf.

Leonard, the absentminded scientist, coaxes his new creation by gently touching his shoulder. “There’s no need to be scared. Just give into to your instincts and chase away those little brats.”

Leonard straightens his lab coat and steps back in dismay. “What’s wrong? Why aren’t you howling? Why aren’t you pulling at your chains? Why aren’t you the werewolf that we want you to be?”

From behind the stale green door, the children start to knock, laughing, screaming in joy to enter the lab on their misguided field trip.

The werewolf’s ears lay prostrate on his head. “I’m trying my best, but no one ever believes in me. I’m the werewolf you deserve, not the werewolf you need.”

The knocking at the door changes to rattling of the handle. Leonard goes to the door to brace it with a chair but before he can accomplish the deed, the children break through.

“I’m scared.”

“Don’t be.”

The werewolf bolts from the table, entangles in the electrical wires. A terrible stench of burning flesh and fur infuses the room.

***

The children are sitting around a campfire discussing the day enjoying melting smores.

“What a weird day,”one child says as he sucks down a hot marshmallow.

Another kindergartner smirks. “What kind of a dog was that?”

“I don’t know what kind of dog,” his pal replies, “but he sure tasted good.”

Bad Hair Day

During “The Prompt Party” at The NCWN Writingest State Online Conference, Saturday, November 14, sponsored by Plottr, we broke up into four separate rooms and randomly assigned a genre to the randomly assigned attendees. Then, we gave a prompt:

A scientist manages to reanimate a 300-year-old werewolf that he finds in the museum archive fault, but the werewolf turns out to be nebbish and timid and riddled with insecurities. Meanwhile, a group of kindergarteners are in the hall waiting to tour the lab…

One of our rooms was assigned the genre of “Stage and Screen.” Here’s what that room wrote.

Bad Hair Day

by Marla Dunham, Jane Gatewood, and Katie Winkler

Setting: North Carolina Natural Science Museum

(A group of rambunctious kindergartners are peering through a window. The audience doesn’t see what’s there. Kids are chattering, giggling, Bobby pulls Susie’s hair.)

Susie: Stop that!

Bobby: I didn’t do nothin’.

Tommy: Susie, you are going to be sooooo scared. You’re gonna pee your pants.

Teacher: Hush! Y’all settle down.

(Children continue to push each other and chatter. Teacher says a bit louder)

You know the rules. No sudden movements. Everyone must be very quiet and listen to Dr. Franke. And most of all, don’t touch anything. And that means you, too, Bobby.

(The teacher gathers them together.)

Teacher: Are you ready? I think it’s time to go in.

(Dr. Franke slowly opens the creaking door.)

Dr. Franke: Welcome, children. Come right on into my lab.

Teacher: Don’t touch anything, Bobby.

Susie, Yeah, Bobby.

(They enter the room. Something is lying on the table. Dr. Franke whips off the sheet. The werewolf, with mangy hair and large teeth, gigantic paws and sharp claws, suddenly sits up. He also has pink curlers in his hair. The children, teacher, and Dr. Franke all scream.)

Dr. Franke: What have you done, Wolfie? Your hair. The curlers. Those are mine!!!

(The children quickly stop screaming and start giggling and pointing.)

Teacher: Now, now, children. It’s not nice to make fun of (pause) people.

Bobby: People?

Dr. Franke: Shut up, Bobby.

Werewolf: (Looking around the room that has suddenly gone totally silent) What the hell?

(Kids giggle again.)

Werewolf: What? A guy can’t have a bad hair day?

Happy Trails, Marsha Warren!

Marsha Warren oversaw NCWN’s move into the White Cross School circa 1989.

Happy trails to Marsha Warren who will retire as director of the Paul Green Foundation, effective January 1, 2021.

“I’ll very much miss helping carry on Paul Green’s life-long work in support of the arts and human rights,” Marsha said in an e-mail.

She has served the Paul Green Foundation for thirty years. In 2018, she was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. As the longtime Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, Marsha helped to create a standard for excellence—the annual Fall Conference, the named competitions, the newsletter, and regional groups such as NCWN-West. She launched a writing program for prison inmates and created the Network’s critique service for writers at all stages of development. By building a truly open architecture based on strong relationships and generosity, Marsha Warren paved the way for the virtual capacity of the Network to keep us connected today.

She was the editor of The Collected Poems of Sam Ragan (St. Andrew’s University Press, 1990) and, together with NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Ronald H. Bayes, edited the anthology North Carolina’s 400 Years: Signs along the Way (Acorn Press, 1986).

NCWN Trustee Georgann Eubanks will become the new executive director of the Paul Green Foundation.

Georgann is the author of the three-volume Literary Trails series commissioned by the NC Arts Council and published by UNC Press. Her latest book is The Month of their Ripening: North Carolina Heritage Foods Through the Year (UNC Press, 2018). Video documentaries include Earthcaster: The Life and Work of Thomas Sayre; Meinrad Craighead: Praying with Images; Coming Out Coming In: Faith, Identity, and Belonging (which won an Emmy for Best Topical Documentary in Midsouth Region); and several others. Georgann has won a number of awards, including the Leadership in the Arts Award, the Archie K. Davis Fellowship, the Sam Ragan Award, and an NC Arts Council Fellowship in fiction. She is the immediate past president of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association and is a recent inductee to the North Caroliniana Society.

Georgann is currently at work on a biography of Paul Green. Along with her part-time work as Executive Director, she will continue to write, give talks, and do documentary work.

Georgann Eubanks

The Paul Green Foundation was established in 1982 to perpetuate the vision of playwright and activist Paul Green, whose commitment to the arts and human rights continues today through the mission of the Foundation. In 2007, the Paul Green Foundation established two funds at the Triangle Community Foundation and now gives the majority of its grants through these funds.

Author Paul Green (1894-1981), an inductee of the NC Literary Hall of Fame, was one of the South’s most revered writers, and one of America’s most distinguished. The first playwright from the South to gain national and international recognition, he was part of that remarkable generation of writers who first brought southern writing to the attention of the world. His best known achievements were as a playwright, including his 1927 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for In Abraham’s Bosom, his 1937 The Lost Colony (his first of 17 Symphonic Drama creations), and his 1941 stage play of Richard Wright’s Native Son. Equal to his literary influence has been his influence on human rights in the South and internationally.

Happy Trails, Frank Stasio and The State of Things

Frank Stasio hosts The State of Things

Any time a media outlet shuts down, it hurts. Even more so when it’s a program that believed in the power of the written word; that believed new ideas have value; and that recognized the societal contributions of authors.

It’s with no small degree of sadness we’ll say goodbye to The State of Things with Frank Stasio at the end of 2020. WUNC 91.5 FM announced this week that the show will end with Stasio’s retirement.

It’s a fitting finale to what, overall, has been kind of a downer year, to say the least.

Countless North Carolina writers have appeared on WUNC 91.5 FM’s The State of Things with Frank Stasio over the years. The show was a champion of literature of all sorts, from sci fi to short fiction to off-beat literary magazines. They were generous to us as well, often interviewing NCWN conference faculty.

In an interview with The News & Observer, (WUNC President and General Manager Connie Walker) said Stasio’s retirement, along with examining audience trends, prompted the decision. There are also behind-the-scenes challenges, she said. The station is hiring a program director, and without that person in place, it would be hard to conduct a nationwide search for a new State of Things host.

Stasio’s last live show will be Wednesday, Nov. 5. WUNC producer Anita Rao will host new episodes through December.

Some of Stasio’s favorite State of Things conversations from his fourteen years as host will be rebroadcast on Tuesdays and Thursdays in December.

Various explanations for the show’s shuttering include drawing less listeners during the pandemic and the challenges of finding the right host to fill Stasio’s shoes. The rise of podcasting and, perhaps, people suffering from “news overload” might be to blame as well.

It’s hard to read between the lines here, so we’ll just accept this news at face value and try, for the next several weeks, to simply appreciate a radio show that was a cultural touchstone in this state for more than twenty years.

From all of us at the NC Writers’ Network, godspeed and good luck! And, thank you.

The NC Humanities Council Seeks Book Discussion Leaders

The North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and home of the NC Center for the Book, presents its two-year initiative, “Watershed Moments,” that explores our varied relationships with the environment, culturally and historically, through multiple programs!

The NCHC is looking for those who might be interested in being selected as a book discussion leader for their December and February virtual book discussion events.

Event Details
Date: December 9, 2020 (Dry) and February 16, 2021 (The Water Knife)
Time: 6:30 pm
Format: Zoom

About the Event
“Watershed Moments” is the NCHC Statewide Read of the climate fiction novels Dry by Jarrod and Neal Shusterman, and The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi. Dozens of communities and hinundreds of individuals are taking part in this Statewide Read with the goal of inspiring conversations and community programs about water, equity, and access to reliable information. As part of the NCHC inaugural Statewide Read programming, the NCHC will host virtual Zoom events with guest speaker panels and book discussion groups (events vary by month).

If you are interested in being considered to be a book discussion leader at our December event which will focus on our YA selection Dry, and/or our February event, which will focus on our adult selection The Water Knife, please complete the interest form linked below.

The North Carolina Humanities Council will provide the following for book discussion leaders:

  • Honorarium payment of $200 per event
  • Free copy of the book(s) to use in preparation of the event
  • Orientation session hosted by NCHC staff
  • Book discussion questions to use during the event

If you are interested, please complete this Book Discussion Leader Interest Form no later than November 10, 2020. If you have any questions about this program, please contact NCHC Program Coordinator Melissa Giblin at 704-687-1526 or mgiblin@nchumanities.org.

For more information about NC Humanities Council, please visit www.nchumanities.org.

Celebrate with Carolina African-American Writers’ Collective

On Thursday, November 12, at 6:00 pm EST, the Carolina African-American Writers’ Collective will celebrate their new anthology, All the Songs We Sing: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Carolina African American Writers Collective (Blair, 2020). Members of the collective, including L. Teresa Church, Angela Belcher Epps, Bridgette A. Lacy, and Lenard D. Moore, will read.

This event is free for anyone who registers for even one single program at the Writingest State Online Conference. Registration is open until Monday, November 9, a 9:00 am. Register here.

The Carolina African-American Writers’ Collective has been all over the news:

For more about The Carolina African-American Writers’ Collective, visit their website, https://caawcgroup.wordpress.com.

The Writingest State Online Conference is a five-day festival for writers featuring classes and conversations on the craft and business of writing, as well as a keynote address by North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, a NaNoWriMo Gathering and a Prompt Party to get creative juices flowing, online Open Mic readings and Happy Hour virtual gatherings, and an Agents & Editors panel discussion.

Registration for the Writingest State Online Conference closes November 9. Register here.