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Support Pandemic Publications

Last week we put out a call for authors who have or who are publishing books in 2020. We got quite a response!

By no means is our Pandemic Publications list anywhere near exhaustive. This list does, however, offer a sampling of authors who poured their hearts and souls into a book and had the bum luck of publishing their book—and in some cases books—during an unprecedented global pandemic.

Please take time to look over this list. If a title sounds interesting, please consider buying one or two from your local independent bookstore, if possible.

Here’s the list.

Or if you don’t have a good indie near you, you can order through Bookshop and support independent bookstores by shopping from a socially safe distance, online.

Don’t see your book listed? E-mail calendar@ncwriters.org.

Hey, come Monday, it’s officially summer. What better way to find summer reads than through our list of Pandemic Publications?

Do You Have a New Book Out in 2020?

Art Taylor’s new collection of mystery shorts came out in February

While everyone is suffering in their own private way during this pandemic, our hearts go out to those authors who have or who are scheduled to publish books this year.

Amid the wreckage of cancelled travel plans; shifting pub dates; and economic uncertainty, it’s a challenging time to be promoting one’s new work—something that is hard enough for most authors to do under the rosiest of conditions.

The North Carolina Writers’ Network would like to begin compiling a list of authors who published or will publish books in 2020.

We’d like to encourage you, as readers first and foremost, to refer to this list the next time you’re looking for something to read, or the next time you’re looking for a book to give as a gift.

(We’d also like to encourage you to buy books from your local independent bookstore.)

Buy a book or three from the list. Read the books. Leave reviews everywhere you can—Amazon, Goodreads, social media. Tell all your friends and family. It’ll make a nice break from talking about the Coronavirus.

If one of the authors is hosting an online event, make a point of jumping online to tell them how much you enjoyed it.

Once we have the beginnings of a solid list, we’ll share it through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and here on our blog. We’ll update it throughout the rest of this year.

Are you an author with a book out in 2020? Let us know! Please e-mail calendar@ncwriters.org.

These are trying days. But communities across the world have rallied around one another, to offer support and to forge a new way forward.

Let’s throw our arms around those authors with a new book out this year, and uplift.

North Carolina Independent Bookstores: What’s Open?

By Deonna Kelli Sayed

Foggy Pine Books, Boone

As the state gradually reopens, independent bookstores across North Carolina are experimenting with modified retail models to ensure that staff and customers remain safe.

The shutdown hasn’t stopped literary community from happening. Many bookstores have remained open as essential businesses by shifting to online and phone orders.

Some bookstores launched online book clubs, author readings, and other virtual gatherings in April. Indie bookstores are emerging as the literary heart for many local communities during these challenging times, and provide a necessary link for authors to remain connected to readers.

Many bookstores currently rely on direct ordering, while others encourage customers to order through www.Bookshop.org, an alternative to Amazon that channels through indie bookstores. Most bookstores also offer gift certificates, so you can share the joy of reading with a loved one, or that new graduate.

April was a long month, indeed, and you’re probably ready to browse a bookstore aisle; to discover a book you didn’t know you needed.

Here’s a list of independent bookstores and their reopening policies. Not all bookstores are represented, and this information is subject to change. As always, please call ahead or check their website or social media pages for the most current information.

What’s Open, What’s Not

Bookmarks (Winston-Salem): At this time, the store remains open for curbside and online orders with hopes to open to foot traffic in the near future. Currently hosting online events: www.bookmarksnc.org.

City Light Bookstore (Sylva): Open for up to nine customers at a time with modified business hours. Masks are required, with the option of a free mask, or purchasing an affordable option on-site. Currently not accepting used books. Curbside service remains available: https://www.citylightsnc.com.

The Country Book Shop (Southern Pines): Offering curbside pickup for pre-paid orders via online or over the phone. The bookstore offers daily deliveries for Moore County residents, and free shipping for orders over $50: https://www.thecountrybookshop.biz.

Dee Dee’s Gifts and Books (Morehead City): Shopping hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, and Sundays by appointments. Customers are asked to wear masks while browsing, and use hand sanitizer upon entering. Masks are available onsite for purchase. Curbside Pickup/In Store Pickup, online orders, and phone orders will continue to be available: https://www.deegees.com.

Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill): Staff is reassessing plans to open to the public. As of right now, Flyleaf is accepting online and phone orders, and contactless curbside pickup, limited local delivery. In-store pickup is by appointment and during the hours 12:00-3:00 pm, Tuesday – Friday: https://www.flyleafbooks.com.

Foggy Pine Books (Boone): Open by appointment only for a personal shopping-style experience with complimentary tea and coffee. Masks are required, and customers will be asked to wash hands upon entering. Staff will be in masks with stringent cleaning measures in place: http://www.foggypinebooks.com.

Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe (Asheville): Beginning May 19, open by appointment only for Buncombe County residents. Masks are required. Staff also will be in masks. $2 delivery to Buncombe County with two-book minimum order. Free shipping via media mail for orders over $50. Online events: https://www.malaprops.com.

Page 158 Books (Wake Forest): Open for delivery and curbside pickup. Staff is reassessing when to open by appointment only. Masks and use of hand sanitizers will most likely be required. Currently hosting online events: https://www.page158books.com.

Park Road Books (Charlotte): Curbside pickup available Monday-Friday, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. Staff is reassessing on a weekly basis when to open to foot traffic: https://www.parkroadbooks.com.

Pomegranate Books (Wilmington): Open for curbside pick-up and shipping orders. Staff is accessing health metrics and will consider increasing hours and encouraging walk-in customers by June 1: https://pomegranatebooks.wordpress.com.

Books sold by Scuppernong Books (c. Stanley Dankoski)

Quail Ridge Books (Raleigh): Open for limited browsing by appointment in one-hour slots. Masks required, and customers will be asked to wash hands upon entering. Extra sanitation policies are in place. Quail Ridge is currently hosting online events and accepts online orders for mail or curbside pick-up: https://www.quailridgebooks.com.

The Regulator Bookshop (Durham): Currently open for online orders and shipping. Staff is reassessing when to reopen to foot traffic: https://www.regulatorbookshop.com.

Sassafras on Sutton (Black Mountain): The bookstore has expanded store space and new hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00  am – 6:00 pm. Customers have the option of making an appointment although this isn’t required. Customers are asked to use the hand sanitizer at both entrances. Masks are strongly encouraged. Curbside service and online orders still available: https://sassafrasonsutton.com.

Scuppernong Books (Greensboro): Open for online and phone orders with plans to open to foot traffic on June 1. Appointments and masks will be required. Café will offer coffee-to-go only. Scuppernong is currently hosting online events: https://scuppernongbooks.com.

Sunrise Books (High Point): Open for browsing for up to 10 customers at a time; appointment preferred. Closed daily from 2:30-3:00 pm for cleaning. Masks required for entry and available for purchase for $3.00: https://sunrisebookshp.indielite.org.

Don’t see your favorite local bookshop listed? Contact them directly.

Also, the Network maintains a “Literary Events and Updates” page that may be helpful.

It’s International Short Story Month!

This short-story collection from Press 53 won Gold in the 2020 IPPY Awards, “US Southeast – Best Regional Fiction.”

On the one hand, yes, absolutely, this completely seems like an unnecessary holiday. But on the other hand, any excuse for celebrating the written word, right?

Coming hot on the heels of National Poetry Month (and not to be outdone), International Short Story Month takes the entire month of May to ponder, share, explore, and honor fictional gems, that all-too-often underappreciated format, the very soul of brevity: the short story.

For the full rundown on Short Story Month, head on over to www.shortstorymonth.com.

Short stories are exciting, moving and unexpected. They make you think. They are like little puzzles to be solved. Short stories can blow away the cobwebs of your thinking in a few short lines.

We’re celebrating in a few different ways, including:

And of course, we’ll be revisiting our favorite short-story writers, from NC and beyond!

Who are some of yours?

Emily Wilson’s Ammons Book Receives Independent Press Award

From our friend Alex Albright at R.A. Fountain:

FOUNTAIN—The Independent Press Award has recognized When I Go back to My Home Country: A Remembrance of Archie Ammons by Emily Herring Wilson in the category of “Biography (general)” as a “distinguished favorite.”

The national competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers, and professional copywriters. Selected award winners and distinguished favorites are based on overall excellence.

Published in December 2019 by R.A. Fountain, When I Go back to My Home Country is a memoir about the thirty-year friendship Wilson shared with the poet A.R.Ammons [a 2000 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame – ed.].

Novelist and poet Robert Morgan said of Wilson’s book, “Unsparing in detail about a complex and enduring relationship, this memoir is a compelling account of her admiration and respect for one of our leading literary figures.”

Ammons, who died in 2001, was among the first class, in 1981, of MacArthur Foundation “Genius” awardees and also received virtually every award open to American poets.

In 2020, the Independent Press Award had entries worldwide. Participating authors and publishers reside in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, India, Ireland, Portugal, Sweden, and others. Books submitted included writers located in cities such as Austin to Memphis to Santa Cruz; from Copenhagen to Mumbai; from Albuquerque to Staten Island; from Boise to Honolulu, and others.

“We are thrilled to announce the winners and distinguished favorites in our annual 2020 Independent Press Award,” said awards sponsor Gabrielle Olczak.  “This year included a myriad of excellent independently published books. It is clear that independents are prospering in every corner of the earth. We are so proud to be highlighting key titles representing global independent publishing.”

When I Go back to My Home Country, R.A. Fountain’s fifth book, is available at independent bookstores in North Carolina and via Amazon.

For more information please visit independentpressaward.com; and to see this year’s list of IPA Winners and Distinguished Favorites, please visit https://www.independentpressaward.com/2020winners and https://www.independentpressaward.com/2020distinguishedfavorites.

Thinking about Going Back to School?

Over the last couple of months, organizations around the world have had to change the way they do things, including—and perhaps especially—educational institutions.

Lenoir-Rhyne University is one of many institutes of higher learning that have had to adjust. After all, with a pandemic on, it’s a great time for adult learners to take stock and perhaps consider going back to school.

Lenoir-Rhyne has enhanced these features to keep graduate school accessible during these uncertain times:

  • Access to select current streaming classes for free look/experience
  • Waived standardized test (GRE) requirement for most programs
  • Free streaming practice and Canvas (learning platform) preview
  • Live support sessions for anyone interested in talking to a person about the possibility of graduate school, Monday – Thursday, 1:00-6:00 pm
  • Online and/or phone contact with professors in advance for consulting and advising
  • NCWN members have their application fee waived!

LRU also is offering Virtual Information Sessions by program of interest with access to instructors and enrollment managers. They’re happy to do whatever we can to support potential applicants, whether or not they choose to learn with LRU.

Lenoir-Rhyne University has campuses in Hickory and in Asheville. Over 50 undergraduate majors and nearly 30 graduate programs are available for students to choose from.

Graduate degrees include an MA in Writing; an MS in Online Teaching and Instructional Design; and a Certificate in Narrative Healthcare.

For more about Lenoir-Rhyne University programs of study, visit https://www.lr.edu/academics.

Dorianne Laux Is Pulitzer Finalist

It’s not every day—heck, it’s barely once a decade—that the North Carolina literary community can celebrate a Pulitzer Prize finalist in our midst.

Raleigh poet Dorianne Laux was named a Finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her collection, Only as the Day Is Long: New and Selected Poems (W.W. Norton).

Jericho Brown’s The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press) won this year’s Prize. Mary Ruefle’s Dunce (Wave Books) also was a finalist.

Dorianne Laux teaches poetry in the Program in Creative Writing at North Carolina State University and is a founding faculty member of Pacific University’s Low Residency MFA Program. A National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and a recipient of the Paterson Prize, her fourth book of poems, Facts about the Moon, won The Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.

She also is the author The Book of Men (W.W. Norton), Awake (Carnegie Mellon Classic Contemporary), What We Carry (finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award), and Smoke, as well as two fine small press editions, The Book of Women and Dark Charms, both from Red Dragonfly Press.

Co-author of The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry, she’s the recipient of three Best American Poetry Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

To watch Dorianne read with poet Kevin Young as part of The Distinguished Writers Series at Wellesley, click here.

Dorianne led the Master Class in Poetry at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2016 Fall Conference. She is a vital part of the literary ecosystem, especially in the Triangle, where she’s led workshops for Raleigh Review, among others.

For more about this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners and nominees, click here.

Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

From our friends at Triangle ArtWorks:

Pan Harmonia performs at the NCWN 2019 Fall Conference (c. Gabriel Swinney)

Gig workers, self-employed artists, and employees of small arts non-profits can now apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

As part of the federal CARES Act, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which went live last week, provides state unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for independent contractors, gig workers, and others who are out of work due to COVID-19 and who otherwise would not be eligible for UI benefits.

This new program also includes workers in 501(c)(3) non-profits with fewer than four employees. Weekly benefits for individuals through PUA range from $132 to $350 per week (depending on employees’ regular wages) plus federal supplemental benefits of $600 per week.

Applicants should start receiving benefit checks about two weeks after applying for them. The program is administered by NC Departure of Employment Security (DES), part of the Department of Commerce.

Learn about eligibility and how to apply.

Triangle ArtWorks is working with DES to put together a webinar ASAP to provide more information about this and other DES unemployment benefit programs. Watchour social media for information about this program.

Think this program doesn’t apply to you because you are “just an artist”? As recognized by Congress in making this program available to you, your work in the arts is vital to the economy of this Region. If you are eligible for benefits, apply!

In addition to other resources already listed on our Covid-19 Resource Page, here are two other recent program changes:

Raleigh Small Business Grants – The City of Raleigh recently announced a new grant program for Raleigh small businesses. Applicants must be a storefront business, have a revenue cap of $2.5 million, and be able to show at least a 25% revenue loss due to COVID-19. Up to $10,000 is available to each applicant until funding sources are depleted. (Click here for more info.)

SBA Grants & Loans for Small Business – Congress this week passed a bill providing additional money for SBA’s Paycheck Protection (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. If your loan application is not already in the queue, contact your financial institution immediately to apply. If you have already applied, you should check with your bank to assure you are in the queue for the new funding. Like the initial money allocated under the CARES Act, this money will not last long. Watch our webinar to learn more about these SBA programs.

Poem in Your Pocket Day: Tomorrow!

Poet Ashley Lumpkin reads at the NCWN 2019 Spring Conference

Tomorrow, Thursday, April 30, is “Poem in Your Pocket Day,” celebrated internationally (well, in the U.S. as well as Canada!) each year during National Poetry Month.

Typically, when there’s not a pandemic on, lovers of the written word are encouraged to type or write a poem on a piece of paper and then carry that poem around with them during the day. The idea is to share the poem over the course of one’s travels—with family, friends, strangers in a parking lot—to help spread the spontaneous joy of poetry.

As we’re all currently at risk of spreading something much more nefarious, the Academy of American Poets has some suggestions for participating in Poem in Your Pocket Day tomorrow from a distance of six feet or more:

  • Select a poem and share it on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem.
  • Simultaneously participate in the Shelter in Poems initiative, and select a poem that brings you solace during this time of distance and solitude. Share what it means to you and use the hashtags #pocketpoem and #ShelterInPoems.
  • Print a poem from the Poem in Your Pocket Day PDF and draw an image from the poem in the white space, or use the instructions on pages 59-60 of the PDF to make an origami swan.
  • Record a video of yourself reading a poem, then share it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or another social media platform you use.
  • Email a poem to your friends, family, neighbors, or local government leaders.
  • Schedule a video chat and read a poem to your loved ones.
  • Add a poem to your email footer.
  • Read a poem out loud from your porch, window, backyard or outdoor space.

For more about National Poetry Month, click here.

So, what poem will you share tomorrow?

Literary Community In the Time of Covid

By Deonna Kelli Sayed

Imagine: the book that you worked on for years is released right before a global pandemic.

This sounds like a plot one might read in a bestselling thriller, but it is a reality authors and publishers are struggling to navigate.

Wilmington-based Melody Moezzi launched her new memoir, The Rumi Prescriptions: How An Ancient Mystic Poet Changed My Modern Manic Life, in mid-March. She held events in Greensboro and Wilmington, where she teaches at UNCW. However, she had to cancel her national book tour.

“Given the option, I never would’ve chosen for my book to be released during a global pandemic, but then again, I doubt any of us would’ve ever chosen any of this,” she explained. Melody spent five years researching and writing about the most famous Persian poet in America, whose poems, ironically, are about dealing with life’s uncertainties.

Publishers are also challenged with how best to support their authors. Lynn York from Blair said that, “Every book represents several years of a writer’s earnest labor. We love and believe in the books we publish, so we’re just going to do everything we can to get them out into the world. We need them.”

If the pandemic is teaching writers anything, it is that we need each other. Publishing is kept afloat right now due to writers uplifting fellow writers, and through indie bookstores fulfilling online orders and organizing virtual events.

The Network, as the largest literary arts organization in the state, is part of this supportive community. It is our mission to connect, promote, and serve North Carolina writers.

We provide several opportunities to support members with forthcoming releases.

  • Book Buzz. This is an easy way us to share about your new book launch with our 1,400+ members on social media, on our website, and in our weekly emails. You can submit information here.
  • Literary Calendar: We also maintain an ongoing calendar of member readings throughout the state. As some members are moving online, we list those, as well. We ask that you help us with this by submitting your events here.
  • Web Banner: Members receive 25 percent off our usual advertising rates. Buying an ad on our website or in our Weekly e-Blast is a great way to promote your book and support the Network.

Let’s talk about indie bookstores.

Independent bookstores have emerged as publishing’s front-line defenders. Most in NC are currently closed to foot traffic but continue to process online orders, in addition to hosting virtual events.

Lynn stressed the important relationship between author and booksellers is crucial as “the world, including publishing, is turned upside down right now.” She said, “There’s been a lot of communication, especially with our local independent bookstores, to rearrange, reschedule, and make virtual our plans for events.”

Authors, publishers, and indie booksellers are working in tandem to launch online events, amplify new releases, and to make sure readers stay connected to writers.

Some writers are setting the standard: Wiley Cash is offering support to new releases through his Corona Canon on Facebook. There’s also A Mighty Blaze, a writer-founded online national effort to promote traditionally published authors whose book tours are cancelled due to COVID-19.

The Network’s fundraising campaign from a few years back emphasized that “nobody writes alone.” Nobody launches a book alone, either. Writers need each other to make literary culture happen.

Melody ruminated on what this moment is teaching her. “This is a chance to remember how simultaneously vulnerable and connected we all are—and to build and foster creative community as a result,” she said.

“I just pray we all take advantage of this unique opportunity.”