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Being “High Roaded” Has Never Felt So Good

From our friends at Press 53:

The first annual High Road Festival of Poetry and Short Fiction will be in Winston-Salem on Saturday, March 23, at the downtown Embassy Suites, featuring several master classes, seminars, and one-on-one critique sessions led by professional poets and writers, including former NC Poet Laureate Cathy Smith Bowers (poetry), two time Pushcart Prize-winner David Jauss (short fiction), Columbia, South Carolina, Poet Laureate Ed Madden, award-winning short fiction author Jen Julian, and many others. There will be a reading room open to the public and a vendor room with publishers, editors, and writing organizations.*

Friday night at 7:30 at Bookmarks Bookstore, cowboy poet Sean Sexton will read with Clint McCown, and to wrap up the weekend a Sunday morning seminar with Tom Lombardo: “Women’s Elegies: Anne Sexton (1960) to Jennifer Holley Lux (2018)—What Has Changed?”

For complete information go to www.Press53.com/high-road-festival.

*The North Carolina Writers’ Network will have an exhibitor’s table at this festival. Come by and say hello!

Gone but Not Forgotten

by Rita Berman

This past year, some of our treasured writers and publishers left this world.

The loss of creative individuals is felt not only by family and friends but reverberates to the general public. Their voices are stilled, and we are left only with what has been published, recorded, or filmed; stories that we have enjoyed before and may find ourselves drawn to again. 

I mourn the passing of Carol Reuss, a friend and one-time fellow member of Women in Communications, Inc. 

Carol died on Wednesday, December 31, 2018. She was one of the first women on the faculty of the UNC School of Media and Journalism in 1976.  She started the public relations program and guided many students in their choice of a career in communications. A quiet- spoken woman, she was generous with her time and interest. After her teaching career ended and she became Professor Emeritus, she served as an Associate Provost at UNC from 1987-94.

Perry Deane Young died on New Year’s Day 2019 in Chapel Hill.

A couple of years ago, I ordered a used book from Amazon and was thrilled to find not only had it been mailed form Chapel Hill but it had his name on the flyleaf.  

Young was a journalist and author who first found fame as a Vietnam War correspondent.  He attended UNC in 1959 and returned to Chapel Hill in 1993. Young also wrote plays and books, one of which was the 1977 best-seller, The David Kopay Story.  His time in Vietnam as a war correspondent for United Press International was later fictionalized as the Dennis Hopper character in the 1979 movie, Apocalypse Now.  When he was interviewed by the News & Observer in 2015, he said that of all the Vietnam movies that was the one that got it most right.  His best-known book was also about Vietnam, Two of the Missing.

Billy Barnes, Sr., was a photographer, writer, and film producer who died September 5, 2018.

He too lived in Chapel Hill, and our paths had crossed a number of times, participating in various community events and writers’ conferences. Barnes became a photographer during the late 1950s, following a tour of duty in the Korean War.  His first job was with McGraw-Hill Publishing Company in New York where he established his reputation as a documentary photographer. He worked for the North Carolina Fund in 1964-1968, which was an offshoot of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. In the years that followed, his photographs and articles were published in local and national media, as well as short film features on UNC-TV. Barnes was also a lover of music and played the guitar and harmonica.

Ralph Bernard Reeves, III, died at the beginning of 2018 on February 24.

Better known as “Bernie,” he was a vibrant personality and civic and community leader. He had attended the University of North Carolina and had a keen interest in history. He founded an alternative weekly paper, launching the Spectator Magazine in 1978, and I was thrilled when he published some of my travel articles.  When he founded the Triangle Business Journal in 1985 I became one of his contributors.  Reeves was a keen promoter of the growing Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill area, envisioning it would become, “the Triangle, a uniformed community, whether they liked it or not,” he wrote. He received many awards for his professional work and service to the North Carolina community, a more complete list appeared on the News & Observer Obituary page on February 26, 2018.  In 2011, he was honored by the Association of Retired Intelligence Officers for his founding and producing of the Raleigh Spy Conference.  

On the national scene, I note the passing in 2018 of Anthony Bourdain, Harlan Ellison, Peter Mayle, V. S. Naipaul, Philip Roth, Neil Simon, and Tom Wolfe.

Their stories introduced readers to a variety of experiences.  Bourdain’s memoir of his life as a chef in Kitchen Confidential, warned what could happen if you alienated your waiter. Naipaul presented colonial society at the beginnings of great transition, using mostly his own family in A House for Mr. Biswas.  Philip Roth explored male sexuality, Jewish identity, and mortality in Portnoy’s Complaint and Tom Wolfe, a journalist and satirist, skewered the elite in The Bonfire of Vanities.

Harlan Ellison is said to have written more than 1,700 short stories and articles and at least 100 books. His best-known works includeA Boy and His Dog,” which was made into a 1975 movie. He contributed The City on the Edge of Forever, a back-in-time episode of the Star Trek television series in 1967, and numerous episodes to television series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Twilight Zone. Isaac Asimov once called Ellison “one of the best writers in the world.”

France has been a favorite holiday destination for me ever since I was a young girl and Peter Mayle’s memoir A Year in Provence describes life as it was in the mid 1980s. The book was expected to sell only a few thousand copies, but more than 5 million copies were sold worldwide. He followed up with Toujours Provence in 1991. After experiencing visitors knocking on his door and walking through his property he was disenchanted and for some years he moved to Long Island New York, but returned to France in the late 1990s without revealing his location. In 2006 he said, “The only thing I want from tomorrow is that it should be as good as today.”  He died in a hospital near his home on January 18, 2018.

V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad. He won the 2001 Nobel Prize for literature and wrote twenty-nine books, fourteen of them nonfiction works. A House for Mr. Biswas is said to be his most significant work. He was eighty-five when he died on August 11, 2018.  According to his obituary in The Guardian, his native island, the former British colony of Trinidad, with its extraordinary meeting of peoples and cultures, was his seedbed. In 1950, Naipaul went to University College, Oxford, to study English and become a writer. He admired journalism (the occupation of his father), because it was much better than the novel in keeping up realistically with the changing world. In his Nobel lecture he said, “Everything of value was in his books.”

For more than forty years, Neil Simon entertained readers and playgoers with his humorous observations of life.  He won the Pulitzer Prize for Lost in Yonkers and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. His play Brighton Beach Memoirs ran for four years on Broadway in the post-1950s era.  In his 600 plus page book, Memoirs, Simon said he created the play’s family by doing the exact opposite to what happened to him in his own life. The Goodbye Girl is another of my favorite movies, with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason, who became the second of Simon’s four wives. Simon was 91 when he died August 26, 2018.     

For those of us who enjoyed their creativity there is sadness when their voices are stilled. But how fortunate we are that we can access their works in print or on screen.  They are gone but not forgotten.

This article originally appeared in RPG.

When a Publisher Cuts Ties with Amazon and Sales Soar

For writers, and especially publishers, it can sometimes seem like all roads lead through Amazon (much to the dismay of independent booksellers everywhere).

But Educational Development Corporation, a publisher of children’s books and resources based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is seeing phenomenal growth and record-breaking net sales since making the risky decision to cut the Amazon cord in 2015.

The Winston-Salem Journal recently profiled EDC.

The company produces Usborne and Kane Miller Books, championed by tens of thousands of parents and educators around the world.

Ending their relationship with Amazon meant EDC has to quintuple its staff and work around the clock. Handling their own customer service meant learning (and failing) on the fly: their first holiday season, “the company had 25,000 customer service errors in three months at a cost of roughly $1 million.”

Now, though, after spending some $7 million to fully automate their order fulfillment process, profits are up 30 percent and sales have nearly tripled in the past three years.

It helps too that they make quality products. Many of the books are richly illustrated and constructed with durable material. You may pay a bit more in shipping (no Amazon Prime deals here), but this is a company that knows what kids like and what the kids’ parents want to buy them.

The company is set to introduce more than 200 of its titles in Spanish. The move is aimed both at school book fairs, particularly schools that offer Spanish immersion programs, and at families who prefer to speak Spanish in the home.

For more information about EDC, visit http://www.edcpub.com.

Malaprop’s Changes Ownership, but Not Its Vision

After thirty-seven years, Emöke B’Racz, the founder of Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe in downtown Asheville, will step down as majority owner, effective immediately.

She hands the reigns to longtime employee Gretchen Horn, who is now majority owner of Renaissance Bookfarm, Inc., which owns Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe and Downtown Books & News. Emöke will remain as founder and minority owner.

Malaprop’s, founded in 1982, is an independent bookstore carrying a
“carefully curated selection of books for adults, children, and young adults, as well as a large array of gift items.”

“I wanted Malaprop’s to be a place where poetry mattered,” says
Emöke, “where a woman’s words were as important as a man’s, where excellence was customary, where good writing had a home, where I could nurture my addiction to literature, and play, enjoy, and entertain people drawn to quality books.”

By any standard, she has succeeded.

“I’ve gotten a lot of free coffee, free books, and free events for the last seventeen years,” Gretchen, who began working at the cafe inside Malaprop’s while she was an undergard at UNC-Asheville, jokes. “I love it here…I work for Emöke. And I essentially still will be because I want to retain her vision. I will always work for Malaprop’s, which is a place that Emöke created.”

In an article in The New York Times, author Anne Patchett said, “Malaprop’s was the heart and soul of Asheville, N.C., when Asheville was a sleepy little hippie town, and it’s still its heart and soul now that the city is cool and overcrowded, a position Malaprop’s maintained by being unabashedly true to itself.”

That same vision and commitment to staying “true to oneself” will no doubt continue now that Gretchen is at the helm.

Malaprop’s is located at 55 Haywood St. in downtown Asheville.

Visit them on the web at https://www.malaprops.com. They’re also on Facebook , Twitter, and Instagram.

NC Book Festival Call for Volunteers

The North Carolina Book Festival 2019 runs February 22-24 and provides a wide variety of audiences access to a diverse slate of local, national, and international writers and artists.

Formerly hosted on a rotating basis by the libraries at NC State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke, the festival will now take place at venues throughout downtown Raleigh.

Featuring readings, panels, demonstrations, and lectures from award winning presenters and performers, the festival will showcase both traditional and non-traditional genres such as comic books and graphic novels.

Guests include North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees Jaki Shelton Green and Jill McCorkle; 2019 Piedmont Laureate David Menconi; Wilton Barnhardt; Belle Boggs; Sandra Cisneros; Tyre Daye; Ben Fountain; Scott Huler; Jeff Jackson; Elaine Neil Orr; Alan Shapiro; Daniel Wallace; and many, many more.

Another core element to this year’s festival is the book fair. A platform for local presses, literary journals, authors, and vendors, the book fair will foster an appreciation for, and a familiarity with, the people and organizations who advocate for the authors and artists we love and produce and distribute the work that is so important to our cultural lives.

If you are interested in volunteering, the festival will need help throughout the day on 2/23. Please contact Chris Tonelli at christonelli@gmail.com.

Beautiful Truth: An Evening of Poetry and Conversation with National Book Award Winner Terrance Hayes

From our friends at Charlotte Lit:

Terrance Hayes

Charlotte–Charlotte’s literary arts center, Charlotte Lit, brings National Book Award winner and McArthur Foundation fellow Terrance Hayes to Charlotte. On Friday, February 1, 7:00-8:30 p.m., poet Terrance Hayes will read from his work and discuss the importance of personal narratives to share our stories and heal.

The event is part of Charlotte Lit’s ongoing Beautiful Truth initiative. It takes place at the Midwood International and Cultural Center Auditorium, 7:00 pm. Tickets are $10, with free tickets for students and anyone with financial need, available at https://www.charlottelit.org/event/terrance-hayes-reading-and-talk-beautiful-truth-initiative/.

The Beautiful Truth initiative is designed to help community members write and share stories about their personal experiences of this community, and is Charlotte Lit’s response to the racial strife and income disparity that have intensified in Charlotte over the last few years.

“Healing comes when we’re able to share our experiences, hearts, and truths with one another,” says Charlotte Lit co-founder Kathie Collins. “Healing comes when we listen. And when we’re heard.”

ABOUT BEAUTIFUL TRUTH: This initiative was created in response to the deep divides exposed during the Keith Lamont Scott protests, debates over affordable housing and high-poverty schools, and a report that placed Charlotte dead-last for upward mobility of the fifty largest US cities. Every Charlotte experience is a different story. Charlotte Lit’s founders, authors Kathie Collins and Paul Reali, asked: what would happen if we started sharing these stories with one another?

Funding and Community Partners. The Beautiful Truth initiative is funded by the North Carolina Arts Council, with additional support from The Plain Language Group, Brooke and Justin Lehmann, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, and The Light Factory.

ABOUT CHARLOTTE LIT: Charlotte Center for Literary Arts, Inc. (“Charlotte Lit”) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2015, and located in the Midwood International and Cultural Center. Charlotte Lit’s mission is to engage and educate readers and writers, building community through the literary arts. Charlotte Lit was founded on the principle that literary arts are an essential component of a healthy arts culture. Charlotte Lit equips community members to more deeply engage with literature in all its forms—from oral storytelling to short stories, from poetry to plays, from memoir to novels—through classes, labs, creative explorations, and the 4x4CLT poetry and art poster initiative.

CONTACT:

Paul Reali, Co-Founder
Charlotte Center for Literary Arts, Inc.
1817 Central Ave. – Rm. 302
Charlotte, NC 28205
704-315-2131
admin@charlottelit.org | paul@charlottelit.org


Charles Frazier, Hub City Launch Cold Mountain Fund Series

From our friends at Hub City Press

SPARTANBURG, S.C.—National Book Award Winner Charles Frazier and Hub City Press are teaming up on a new series of books spotlighting extraordinary writers from the American South. Beginning in spring 2019, the Cold Mountain Fund Series will publish literary fiction in hardback.

Frazier, bestselling author of Cold Mountain, Thirteen Moons, Nightwoods, and Varina, will provide financial support through the Frazier family’s Cold Mountain Fund at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. Frazier also will assist in book promotion and make occasional appearances with the Cold Mountain Fund Series authors.

“I have long considered Hub City Press to be one of the very finest independent publishers in the country and am excited to help foster their already excellent offerings of literary fiction,” Frazier said.

Hub City Press, now in its 24th year, is the South’s premier independent literary press. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Hub City is focused on finding and publishing new and extraordinary voices from the South. Among its recent successes are an NPR Book of the Year, a Kirkus Book of the Year, a book longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and coverage in The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled at this new partnership,” said Meg Reid, director of Hub City Press. “Charles Frazier has long been one of the South’s greatest writers, as well as one of Hub City’s most ardent supporters. This series will be vital in helping us continue our mission to find and champion the finest fiction the South has to offer.”

The first three books in the series will be The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handler of Atlanta (April 2019), Watershed by Mark Barr of Little Rock (October 2019), and The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels of Lexington, KY (April 2020).

“Finding an audience has never been easy for writers of literary fiction,” Frazier said, “so in working with Hub City, my hope is to help amplify distinctive Southern voices and connect them with curious readers.”

Cold Mountain funds primarily will be targeted for more substantial book advances and for book marketing.

Hub City Press titles are distributed by Publishers Group West. Among its published authors are Leesa Cross-Smith, Ron Rash, Michel Stone, Julia Franks, Ashley Jones and others. Hub City annually sponsors the $10,000 C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize (judged this year by Lauren Groff), the biennial New Southern Voices Poetry Prize, and the biennial South Carolina Novel Prize.

Learn more at https://hubcity.org/news/2019/the-charles-frazier-cold-mountain-fund-series.

Burning Coal Turns to Ashe

From our friends at Burning Coal Theatre Company:

In the late 60s/early 1970s, a meteor shot across the sportsworld, a young African American tennis player named Arthur Ashe.  

He won the US Open in 1968, becoming the first black man to win a “major.”  In 1970, the won the Australian Open, and in 1975, wearing the “whites” of the All-England Club, he defeated the brash Jimmy Connors to claim the Wimbledon crown.  But it was a little known competition that he entered in 1973, one that took him into the heart of Apartheid South Africa, that saw Ashe fight, and win, his greatest battle.  And it wasn’t on a tennis court.

Burning Coal has commissioned the rising young playwright Hannah Benitez to tell this little known story for the first time.

This production is suitable for ages fourteen and up.

Performance Dates: 

January 24 – February 10, 2019
Thurs.-Sat. at 7:30pm, Sun. at 2pm

Tickets:  www.burningcoal.org or 919-834-4001

Please call for info on Group Rates

Address: 

Burning Coal Theatre
224 Polk Street, Raleigh, NC 27604

Last Issue of Glimmer Train Set for October

Glimmer Train will join Tin House magazine as the second major literary journal to close its doors in 2019.

The last issue of the iconic rag, which has been published continuously for nearly thirty years, will be published in October.

Founded by two sisters, Susan and Linda, in 1990, Glimmer Train established itself as a tireless champion of new and emerging writers, as well as a paying market with literary cachet.

According to the site, Glimmer Train paid out some $50K to writers in 2018.

New Pages has a thoughtful and thorough write-up of Glimmer Train’s announcement that this year will be their last, so definitely check it out.

And perhaps Ms. Hill has it right: perhaps we should be celebrating the fact that Glimmer Train has served the literary community for over a generation, instead of mourning what feels like another major loss for readers of literary fiction.

The Glimmer Train Sisters figured out two things: How to manage the work load and how to make enough money to make it worthwhile for them to manage the work load.

As Ms. Hill says, countless literary magazines fold every day. To make it one entire year, much less twenty-nine, really defies the odds.

Happy trails, Glimmer Train. It’s hard to see anyone filling the void you’ll leave behind, though many will try.

New Book from SLR Editor Features Writers on Writing

The Southern Literary Review celebrates Southern authors and their contributions to American literature through book reviews, feature interviews, and more.

We highly recommend subscribing to their weekly e-newsletter, which offers a couple of interviews and/or book reviews each week focusing on Southern authors, conveniently delivered to your e-mail inbox.

We’re grateful to SLR for having featured NCWN members such Moira Crone (The Ice Garden); NCWN communications director Charles “LC” Fiore (Green Gospel, The Last Great American Magic); Lee Zacharias (Across the Great Lake); and many more, as well as being faithful champions of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame and NCWN programs in general.

Among the websites you visit weekly, Southern Literary Review should be on your regular route.

Allen Mendenhall became editor of Southern Literary Review in 2011. Mendenhall is out with a new book, Writers on Writing: Conversations with Allen Mendenhall (Red Dirt Press).

Kirkus Reviews called it “A fruitful discussion of authorship.”

This collection will familiarize readers with the approaches, techniques, and concerns of a diverse set of authors in a broad range of genres. Mendenhall’s interviewees include crime-fiction writer D.J. Donaldson, historical-romance novelist F. Diane Pickett, and (twice) poet and essayist Julia Nunnally Duncan, among many others. The Q-and-A’s touch on a spectrum of issues and offer rich and varied discussion as well as powerful sound bites. 

Allen Mendenhall is associate dean and executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Writers on Writing takes us on a delightful stroll through recent Southern literature, with Allen Mendenhall as our expert guide.” says Gilbert Allen, Professor Emeritus, Furman University, Department of English. “A polymath who wears his learning well, Mendenhall poses questions both inviting and incisive. He encourages authors to take him–and therrefore, us–into their confidence, providing valuable insights into dozens of books and sensibilities that brought them into being.”

Several interviews from Southern Literary Review appear in this anthology, Writers on Writing.

Visit SLR on the web at www.southernlitreview.com and follow them on Facebook and Twiiter.