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Brown, James, Treuer among National Book Award Finalists

The 2019 finalists for the National Book Award have been announced: twenty-five finalists in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature.

For the complete list, with links to purchase, click here.

Of note….

Marlon James in a finalist in Fiction for Black Leopard, Red Wolf (Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House), as is Laila Lalami for The Other Americans (Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House).

Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House (Grove Press / Grove Atlantic) is a finalist in Nonfiction, as is David Treuer’s The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present (Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House).

Jericho Brown is a finalist in Poetry for The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press), along with Carmen Giménez Smith’s Be Recorder (Graywolf Press).

The finalists in Translated Literature include László Krasznahorkai’s Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet (New Directions) and Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House).

Young People’s Litereature includes Jason Reynolds’ Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Simon & Schuster) and Laura Ruby’s Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All (Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins Publishers).

Winners will be announced at the 70th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on November 20, which will be streamed live on the NBA’s Facebook page and website.

New Embargo on e-Books Hurts Libraries Everywhere

From Friends of Chapel Hill Public Library:

Beginning November 1, 2019, Macmillan publishers, one of the country’s “big five” publishers, is imposing an eight-week embargo for libraries on new e-books. This embargo means that for the first eight weeks after an e-book is released, libraries will only be able to purchase a single copy of new Macmillan e-books. This restriction applies whether a library serves a community of a thousand people or a million people.

The impact of this embargo and the other severe restrictions being placed by publishers on public libraries across the country will hurt readers everywhere. Under these new restrictions, the wait for many Macmillan e-book titles is sure to increase. And it could set a precedent for other publishers.

Did you know that e-book costs to libraries are often four times the price of a retail copy? Here’s why: Libraries must license this content and cannot own it. A licensing model increases costs and limits how many times patrons can check out an e-book before the library must re-license. On top of this, Amazon—which owns audio and e-platforms Audible and Kindle—exclusively signs digital and audio rights for authors like Dean Koontz and Mindy Kaling and refuses to license those titles to libraries.

These harsh and unfair restrictions on public libraries are a troubling trend that we believe must be stopped. You can help by joining forces with libraries and Friends groups and readers across the country in opposing Macmillan’s new e-book embargo.

Please sign the petition at to tell Macmillan that access to e-books should not be delayed or denied. Your support will benefit everyone who believes in public libraries.

The Friends of Chapel Hill Public Library is a 600+ member non-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to supporting Chapel Hill Public Library. For more information about the Friends, visit


For further reading, Publishers Weekly offers an excellent round-up here, examining the stances of both MacMillan and the American Library Association.

According to Slate, this kind of petition is the first of its kind for the ALA.

The ALA is encouraging the hashtag #eBooksForAll.


Creativity Is Waiting on You: Connect to Your Muse

By Holly Hughes

Remember how excited you felt when the rush of a new idea came to you? Or the feeling of victory when you figured out a plot point or character arc? Did you call and tell your critique partner all about it? Then you got busy with the work of writing and maybe, just maybe, the idea fizzled and the excitement went away.

Where did your muse go?

As an author, intuitive healer, and pubic speaker, I know the muse hasn’t gone anywhere, you just disconnected from it. But I have exciting news: your muse is calling. She reached out to me, told me you can’t hear her, and she wants you to.

The world is waiting for your story.

I know being a creative person comes with challenges like doubt, rejections, and negative feedback, but don’t let those opponents hold you back.

CALLING YOUR MUSE is a program designed for artistic individuals to help them move through the blocks preventing them from finishing the manuscript or blank page before them. Let’s move past the blank page together.

I’ll tap into my guides and yours to literally help you connect to your personal muse. There will be guided meditations designed to help open you to receive and connect to your personal imagination, along with prompts to assist.

CALLING YOUR MUSE is a 5-week course beginning Wednesday, October 16, at 7:00 pm.

Members of the North Carolina Writers’ Network get a 10 percent discount on the five sessions.  Just mention this post!

The class happens online or through the phone, accessible from anywhere.

Full details:

During the weekly calls, I’ll lead us through a guided meditation designed to open up our creative selves. For those who know about chakras—we’ll be opening our third eye, where creativity lives, and our crown chakra so we can connect to our highest self and our muse.

After the mediation, there will be writing exercises and prompts designed to get our creative juices and thoughts flowing.

This five-week course will meet weekly on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 pm Eastern time. The call will be recorded on Zoom, and you will have access to each recorded call until one week after the program concludes.

Join me Wednesday, October 16, at 7:00 pm EST, and I’ll guide you past proscrastination, judgements, and fears so you can start, continue, and finish that manuscript, essay, canvas, sculpture, or doodle you’ve been avoiding. The world needs your story, finish it!

A little more about me:

I’m an author, public speaker, and intuitive healer in Charlotte. I’m represented by Carlie Webber of Fuse Literary and have two manuscripts out on submission. I co-lead Ghosts, Haunts, and Haints: A Paranormal Generative Writing Retreat with New York Times bestselling author Nova Ren Suma in June of 2019. Barnes and Noble named my essays in Best of March 2018. My work appears in numerous print and online publications. One essay even went viral. I’m a featured speaker on Soul in the Raw and Practically Fertile podcasts, as well as being on stage at SHiFT Charlotte. You can find a full list of my writing credits and credentials on my website:

Member Pens Novel to Aid Puerto Rico’s Recovery Effort

By Russell Hatler

A year ago , shortly after Hurricane Florence blew the pants off the Outer Banks and devastated Wilmington, a friend of mine from Puerto Rico, Tony Perez, phoned to tell me our President had announced to the world that the recovery from Hurricane Maria exactly one year earlier was finished, and the people of Puerto Rico loved him.

Tony said No and No.

The thing was, when our President assured the world that Puerto Rico was in good shape, the donations to non-profit organizations who were helping in the recovery effort dried up. Talk about your unintended consequences!

I promised Tony I’d see what I could do to help.

A friend and I built a website,, which stands for Raising Awareness for Puerto Rican Recovery. In addition to posting photos and videos of the disaster, I put together some historical blogs telling the uninformed (us folks up here on the Mainland) about the rape and pillage of the island from the time Chris Columbus set foot on shore right up to the day our President tossed out the towels. It’s not a pretty story and not one you might find in schoolbooks these days. History, it’s said, is written by the victors.

To date, we’ve had over 18,000 visits to the site. It’s still active if you want to check us out.

I also promised to write a novel about the recovery effort. Well, my characters don’t take kindly to civilized behavior, and I’m afraid the best they could do in this situation was to try and rebuild Puerto Rico with funds garnered from a poorly thought-out cocaine distribution business. Shoot me.

In any case the book is finished. It’s titled Giants.

We went down the first week of August to launch the book at the Casa Norberto indie bookstore in Plaza Las Americas in San Juan. Reception was great. The book launch was well-attended. The local PBS station, WIPR, interviewed me prior to the event and posted the video on YouTube. You can catch it here:

Now I’m not saying we saved the island. I’m not even saying the novel, Giants, is a masterpiece. But we did the best we could, and I’m proud as punch that I was asked to pitch in.

What’re writers’ skills for if not to help our fellow pilgrims through this vale of tears?

Thomas Wolfe Memorial Award Announces Short List

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial Award has released their short list, and it includes authors who will be familiar to members of NCWN.

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial Award is presented annually for printed works that focus special attention on Western North Carolina. This year’s finalists are:

The finalists were chosen from twenty-one nominations. The winner will be announced at a banquet and awards ceremony on Friday, November 16, 4:00-6:00 pm, at the Asheville Renaissance Hotel.

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial Award was founded in 1955 when the WNC Historical Association and the Louis Lipinsky family of Asheville presented the first award to North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Wilma Dykeman for The French Broad.

Other winners include NC Literary Hall of Fame inductees John Ehle (Last One Home: A Novel, 1984), Kathryn Striping Byer (Wildwood Flower: Poems, 1992), Lee Smith (On Agate Hill, 2007), and Robert Morgan (The Road from Gap Creek, 2014); as well as NCWN trustee Tommy Hays (In the Family Way: A Novel, 1999).

The 2018 winner was Charles Frazier for Varina, his second Thomas Wolfe Memorial Award. He also won in 1997 for Cold Mountain.

For more information about The Thomas Wolfe Memorial Award, click here.

Additional Hotel Options for Fall Conference

We just got word that the block of rooms at the Fall Conference hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore, is full–or almost.

If you haven’t yet booked your room, you can go ahead and try to do so at the conference venue using this link.

If you find the hotel is full, there are plenty of options, at all kinds of different price points, nearby. Please note, prices below are estimates only.

The Hampton Inn & Suites Asheville Biltmore Village
117 Hendersonville Rd., Asheville
Shares a parking lot with the conference venue. Literally could not be closer. Call for rates, reservations: 1-844-446-9327.

Clarion Inn Biltmore Village
234 Hendersonville Rd., Asheville
A quarter-mile from the conference venue. From $171.

Baymont by Wyndham Asheville/Biltmore Village
204 Hendersonville Rd., Asheville
Less than a quarter-mile from the conferene venue. From $89.

Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville Biltmore
11 Boston Way, Asheville
A quarter-mile from the conference venue. Prices from $469.

Other hotels we’ve recommended in the past seem to be full (or closed0, so if you’re planning on coming to Fall Conference and need accommodations, don’t delay.

If you haven’t yet registered for Fall Conference, all the details, including registration info, is here.

We can’t wait to see you in Asheville, November 8-10, for the NCWN 2019 Fall Conference.

See you at the NCPS Meeting in Southern Pines!

Outside at Weymouth

We’re looking forward to the annual meeting of the North Carolina Poetry Society on Saturday, September 14, at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines!

NCWN Communications Director Charles Fiore will introduce the winner and finalists of the 2019 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition. Alan Michael Parker, Annie Woodford, Michael Boccardo, Sandra Ann Winters, and Kathryn Kirkpatrick will read their poems.

Other highlights of the day include readings by Tina Barr, whose poetry collection Green Target won the 2019 Brockman-Campbell Book Award, and finalists Pamela Badgett, Valerie Nieman, and Wayne Johns—NCWN members, all.

NCWN member and poet Kathy Ackerman will read from her collection A Quarrell of Atoms, which won the 2019 Lena Shull Poetry Book Contest.

Benjamin Cutler, the NCWN Regional Rep for Swain County, will read as well. Benjamin was awarded the 2019 Susan Laughter Myers Fellowship; he receives $500 and a residency at Weymouth.

Other programs include poet Bingo; an open mic; and readings from Susan Laughter Meyers’ posthumous collection, Self-Portrait in the River of Déjà Vu (Press 53).

For more information and a detailed schedule of the meeting, click here.

For more information on the North Carolina Poetry Society, click here.

The sun always shines in Southern Pines. (I think we just made that up?!?) See you there!

Another “Call for Personal Stories” Follows Success of Anthologies Bearing Up, Exploring

By Randell Jones

The Personal Story Publishing Project (PSPP) announces the theme for its new “Call for Personal Stories” for its 2020 anthology. North Carolina writers are especially sought and welcomed by December 15.

“That Southern Thing”
The theme for the PSPP-2020 is “that Southern thing,” personal stories about “living, loving, laughing, loathing, leaving the South,” incited by a writer’s personal musings on the good, the bad, and the peculiar of life in “the South.” Make us laugh, make us cry, make us wince, make us think. Leave the readers grateful, encouraged, vexed, or just plain gobsmacked, but in every case sensing, knowing, feeling something more about “the South” than they might have considered before. Newcomers and natives have equal value in their perspectives. “The South” is not what you might think . . . or is it?

Bearing Up and Exploring
Seventy-plus writers—most from North Carolina—participated in the Personal Story Publishing Project in 2018 and 2019. Their stories appear in the two anthologies, Bearing Up and Exploring, released by Daniel Boone Footsteps Publishing of Winston-Salem. Those writers—both new voices and experienced and published writers, including two poet laureates—crafted true stories about taking on life with grit, determination, and humor. The respective writing themes were “making do, bearing up, and overcoming adversity” and “discoveries, challenges, adventure.”

Writers submitted stories of 750-800 words. “These writers brought to the page their honest passions for sharing stories they so deeply wanted to tell,” said Randell Jones, award-winning author and storyteller and editor/publisher of the Personal Story Publishing Project. “You can feel it throughout the forty-five stories in each collection. Many new writers really surprised themselves with what they wrote. I was delighted to work them all in completing the two collections.”

Submitting Your Story
More information about the Personal Story Publishing Project is available online at A nominal reading fee applies to each submission. Copies of Bearing Up and Exploring are available online as well.

The current Call for Personal Stories is open through December 15, 2019. The anthology of forty-five selected stories will be released in April 2020.

Tell us your favorite personal story, the one you most want to share about “that Southern thing.”

6-minute Stories” Podcast
Everybody loves a good story, and many of the stories from Bearing Up and Exploring can be heard on the new weekly podcast, “6-minute Stories” launched in June. Listeners can subscribe at Apple Podcast, Spotify, or Stitcher. Anyone can find them online as well under “6-minute Stories” in the main menu at Hear what other writers who submitted to the Personal Story Publishing Project shared with the world. Stories selected for PSPP-2020 will be considered for sharing as well in future episodes of “6-minute Stories.”

The Personal Story Publishing Project and “6-minute Stories” encourage more writers to share their writing with others and provide the platforms for doing so.

Keep writing. Keep sharing.

Oxford American Unveils Stylish New Look

With its Fall, 2019, issue, Oxford American, arguably the premier glossy publication of the South, unveiled a new look:

Featuring an updated cover design, new fonts, and a higher page count to accommodate more fine art and photography, the magazine has been redesigned to create a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for readers.

Highlights include Boyce Upholt’s deeply reported feature on Louisiana’s Isle de Jean Charles band of the Biloxi Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe; a suite of poems by Nathaniel Mackey; an exclusive excerpt from Van Jensen and Nate Powell’s graphic novel, Two Dead; and Kelundra Smith’s profile of Lucy Negro Redux, a ballet based on the poetry collection by Caroline Randall Williams, scored by Rhiannon Giddens and starring ballerina Kayla Rowser. The Fall 2019 issue also includes short stories by contributing editor Kevin Brockmeier, along with first-time OA contributors Erin McGraw, Jami Attenberg, Sarah Curry, and Selena Anderson.

Order the new issue now! 

Oxford American was founded in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1992. It’s a non-profit quarterly literary magazine “featuring the best in Southern writing while documenting the complexity and vitality of the American South.”

Each year, OA puts together a Southern Music Issue devoted to music from a single, Southern state. North Carolina was featured in 2018; order that issue, if you missed it, here.

Past Tar Hell contributors include bestselling author Wiley Cash; Jeremy B. Jones; NC Literary Hall of Fame inductees Allan Gurganus, Randall Kenan, and Jill McCorkle; and many more.

Check out Oxford American on the web at; follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Come Hell or High Water, We’ll See You at Bookmarks!

NCWN trustee Terry L. Kennedy (left) and NCWN Executive Director Ed Southern at Bookmarks in 2018

Bookmarks Festival of Books & Authors kicks-off today and runs through the weekend, rain or shine.

Saturday’s events are all FREE and feature over fifty authors with another sixty-plus exhibitors, including us! We’ll have an exhibitor’s table, Booth 19, near the corner of Holly and Spruce St, so please do come by and say hello.

We’ll also be hosting a Slush Pile Live! event in the Footnote space at 634 W. Fourth St. at 12;30 pm on Saturday.

This is an interactive event for writers to get immediate feedback on their work from editors and agents. All anonymous—all live! Want to have your work read? Bring a hard copy of up to 300 words of prose from a single work, typed, double-spaced (with no name) to the Information Booth by 12 p.m. Submissions are chosen at random and not all are guaranteed to be read due to time limits. Featuring Lauren Faulkenberry, co-owner of Blue Crow Publishing; Christopher Forrest, Press 53 Editor; Meg Reid, Director of Hub City Press and Programs; and moderator Ed Southern, Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network.

Ed also will moderate the panel “Exploring the North Carolina Literary Landscape.” Panelists include NCWN trustee and editor of the NC Literary Review, Margaret D. Bauer; NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Randall Kenan; and bestselling author Daniel Wallace. This panel happens at 2:30 pm on the second floor of the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts.

Download the Bookmarks Book Festival app in the App Store or on Google Play to see the Festival schedule by time, venue, or author, and get real-time updates.

Be sure to use hashtag #NCWN19 when posting to social media!

For a full schedule, visit: