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Your Kids Can Write Outdoors–or Online–this Summer

Apologies for being a bit late with this post. We try to post this list in early May, so you parents have plenty of time to sign up your kids. But with so much uncertainy earlier this year, it wasn’t clear what was going to be available. Still, depending on where you live and how far you’re willing to drive, here are some options to get your youths writing this summer, including some in-person options:

Grades 4-6
August 2-4
The GAWC will be entirely outdoors this summer. Registration is limited to TEN students. The camp will take place in a private backyard and surrounding parks. Young writers hone their skills and styles as they develop ideas into stories, poems, arguments, speeches and more. Working in groups, individually, and one-on-one with an instructor, campers begin to see how their ideas and words have a place in the world around them.

Ages 9-19
July 12-30
This summer, NC State will offer writing workshops for youth and teens entirely ONLINE. NC State Young Writers Workshop is one of the oldest workshops for young writers in the nation and remains one of the most affordable options for academic programs. They offer generous financial aid packages for the in person workshops as well. Students will also meet working authors and get the opportunity to win copies of their published books.

Grades 3-12
Summer, 2021
Offered virtually and in-person following strict COVID-19 protocols. Classes include mysteries, choose-your-own adventure stories, comics/graphic novels, and more.

(Rising) Grades 9-College Freshman
July 12-23
The Great Smokies Writing Program at UNC-Asheville offers virtual writing workshops, including “Black Poets of the 20th & 21st Century” and “Writing for Audio Drama.”

To the best of our knowledge, Duke University in Durham, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, UNC-Greensboro, and UNC-Wilmington will not be offering writing camps for young writers this summer. The Young Writers Camp at Meredith College in Raleigh is full, but keep an eye out next year:

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NCWN Members Sweep Carolina Woman Writing Contest

Each year, the NC Writers’ Network donates a two-year membership as one of the prizes for the Carolina Woman Writing Contest. We’re always happy to list the contest in our Opportunities section and promote it on social media. But we are overjoyed when so many of our members take home prizes—and there has never been a year when so many of our members have won.

In fact, all of this year’s winners are NCWN members: a clean sweep.

Anne Kissel of Chapel Hill takes the Grand Prize with her short story, “Talisman.” She wins a historic romantic getaway in Richmond, VA.

Teresa McLamb Blackmon of Benson wins First Prize with her poem, “Letter Writers.” She receives a Razor Electric Scooter. (Teresa, we’d be interested in that scooter for use around the NCWN offices, if you’re looking to trade or sell…)

“Backyard Poem for Early March” by Joyce Compton Brown of Troutman is awarded Second Prize. Joyce wins a $250 ADORAtherapy gift certificate.

Emily Carter of Beaufort wins Third Prize with her essay, “Mop Day.” Emily takes home the most coveted of all the contest prizes: a two-year membership in the North Carolina Writers’ Network!

Mary Hennessy of Raleigh’s poem “Testosterone in/at the Movies” snags Fourth Prize: she wins a one-year Canva Pro membership.

Tonya Lanier of Lexington wins a Workman Publishing Prize Pack (Fifth Prize) with her essay “The Grenade.”

And finally, Ruth Moose of Albemarle receives an Honorable Mention for her poem “Bobby Sox.” She wins a Carolina Woman nightshirt—of priceless value.

To read all the winners, click here.

Carolina Woman, the largest and longest-running women’s magazine in the Carolinas, is a celebrated lifestyle publication that was launched in 1993. Its readership includes 100,000 upscale, professional women in the high-tech Research Triangle area, a region covering Raleigh, Durham, Cary and Chapel Hill, with a population of almost 2 million. Carolina Woman’s publisher is Debra Simon, a writer and editor whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Seventeen Magazine, Adweek, Reuters, The Miami Herald, The Hartford Courant and The Financial Times.

Here at the North Carolina Writers’ Network, we do the math so you don’t have to: 7 of 7 winners of this year’s Carolina Woman Writing Contest were NCWN members, or 100 percent. The Writingest State indeed. And who says writers can’t do math?

Congratulations to all!

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StoryWalk Creates Childhood Adventures in NC

All around the country, including here in North Carolina, children are experiencing adventure through the seemingly simple act of taking a walk.

This is the aim of StoryWalk, which provides innovative and delightful ways for children (and adults) to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time. StoryWalk installs laminated signs along pathways and greenspaces; as they walk the path, travelers are directed to the next page in the story.

According to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library website, “StoryWalks engage young readers and is a great way to practice Active Reading skills with special activities highlighted along the story.” CML installed several locations in 2018.

This month, Chapel Hill Public Library will install StoryWalks along three greenways. Each installation will feature a different culturally diverse, nature-themed picture book.

Project Manager and Library Manager of Youth and Family Experiences, Karin Michel, says that titles were selected with language access in mind, too. ‘Some of the books you’ll see on these StoryWalks are written in world languages like Spanish, Mandarin, and Burmese. We hope that community members will see these books as both mirrors and windows to the world of all readers we have in Chapel Hill.’

The StoryWalk Project was created in 2007 by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg Hubbard Library. Anne, a chronic disease prevention specialist, wanted to initiate an activity that would keep families active and engaged. StoryWalks have grown in popularity, popping up in parks, at libraries, and in hundreds of outdoor community spaces.

To see what stories you might be able to bring to your community, click here. You can check out different design options here. See StoryWalks in action, here.

More details on StoryWalk can be found at

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Happy Asian Pacific Heritage Month!

The month of May is Asian Pacific Heritage month. Looking for ways to explore the history, traditions, and culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States?

The Asian Pacific American Heritage website is a great place to start. From here, one can explore all kinds of exhibits and collections including:

PBS has curated online offerings for anyone interested in learning more, including school resources. There are video profiles of Asian-American designers, tales of family, and explorations of gender identity.

Orange County Public Library offers a curated catalog list of books for kids. And NPR offers this reading list for adults.

For those hoping to celebrate with some North Carolina flavor, WNCT 9 in Greenville has posted this list of virtual events, and explains why we celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month in May:

May is chosen for this heritage month because it was the month the first Japanese immigrants stepped foot in the U.S. in 1843. It is also in May that the transcontinental railroad was completed, which was built by Asian immigrants.

Interested in advocacy, community programs, or in making friends? Check out North Carolina Asian Americans Together, here.

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OC Library Celebrates NC Writers

The Orange County Public Library is celebrating North Carolina writers this month. They’re offering a specially curated catalog list, featuring Tar Heel luminaries such as Sarah Dessen, Ron Rash,  and David Sedaris, and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees Allan Gurganus, Margaret Maron, Robert Morgan, Lee Smith, and more.

While the library building remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, curbside service is available. They’re also offering a robust program of virtual events.

For more about the Orange County Public Library, click here. For more about the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, click here.

This celebration of NC authors comes just in time for summer: anyone looking for good books to read at the beach or at the campsite could do much worse than selecting books at random from this curated list. From mysteries to humor to science fiction to literary fiction, North Carolina authors have all tastes covered.

The main library is located at 137 W Margaret Lane in Hillsborough, 919.245.2525. Operating hours at this location are Mon-Sat, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. This library system also operates locations in Carrboro.

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Creative Nonfiction Launches New Website

Creative Nonfiction launched a new website recently, their first in ten years. We’ve been paying special attention to this launch, because in some ways, the launch of Creative Nonfiction’s new site, and their growth over the past decade, mirrors our own—which is why we just wrapped up a beautifully successful fundraising campaign to revamp our own website, among other things.

First, check out the new Creative Nonficiton website here, at

The last time this esteemed literary journal redesigned their website, they only produced a print issue. But….

Over the years, we have gradually expanded with a book imprint, an education program offering online courses and webinars, and another magazine, pocket-size, called True Story—plus our Sunday Short Reads, our conferences, and other activities and opportunities for both readers and writers.

It was a struggle to fit all of these new programs on our old website. Happily, the new website not only integrates and beautifully displays what we do and offer, but provides a real payload to our readers and subscribers.

Sound familiar?

Creative Nonfiction began more than 25 years ago with the first quarterly journal devoted exclusively to creative nonfiction writing, and it continues to set the standard for the genre.

The last time NCWN revamped our website, we did not offer any online classes, much less entire online conferences. We only offered 2/3 of the contests we do now. We had no video or audio archive of past readings, keynote addresses, classes, and more. There was no Prisoner’s Writers Outreach; there was no Instagram; there was no extensive online resource to help our members navigate the business of books.

Because of your generosity, we now have the financial means to build a website that can better deliver these programs and help us accommodate future growth. We’re already working on making it a reality.

So, what do you like about Creative Nonfiction’s new website? What features would you like to see on ours?

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Saturday Is Independent Bookstore Day

Miriam Herin reads at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro

Saturday, April 24, marks the annual Independent Bookstore Day, a day to support and celebrate your local indie bookshop. Many bookstores around the state and beyond will host a full day of events, contests, readings, special offers, and more.

According to the Southern Independent Bookstore Alliance, over 750 boookstores are participating around the country. (Click here for a searchable map to find a celebration near you!) For example, Itinerant Literate Bookstop in Charleston, SC, has tranformed their backyard into a Where the Wild Things Are, COVID-conscious, outdoor sale.

Around the state…

At Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, this celebratory occasion will feature special merchandise and entries to giveaway drawings.

“Independence for us means locally-owned, human-curated, non-book-devaluing-data-mining-algorithm-driven-giant-corporation, community-minded, warm, friendly, smart and sassy, and downright FUN in the most bookish ways!” says Asheville’s Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe. If that’s not enough to get you in the door…what is?

Page 158 Books in Wake Forest will offer exclusive items, giveaways, and a free audiobook with any purchase of $15 or more.

Readers Club members get 20 percent this weekend off eligible books and merch at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.

Don’t see your local indie listed? Search here or poke around online for what they might have going on.

Not ready to leave your house quite yet? You can order online from almost any bookstore, or order from, which supports local indie bookstores.

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Friday, Give a Book to Someone You Love

Friday, April 23, is World Book Day, a great excuse to give a book to someone, or the someones, you love. This year’s theme is “To Share a Story.”

World Book Day celebrates William Shakespeare’s birthday (April 23) in over 100 countries. It’s a day to revel in the joy of reading, often commemorated by gifting a book to someone close to you. April 23 also is St. George’s Day, traditionally honored in countries such as Spain, for example, with the exchange of gifts, including books and roses, between friends and family, and even colleagues.

Also known as World Book and Copyright Day, or International Day of the Book, World Book Day is organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing, and copyright.

The first World Book Day in the UK and Ireland took place in 1997 to promote reading for fun. As World Book Day founder, Baroness Gail Rebuck, recalls “We wanted to do something to reposition reading and our message is the same today as it was then – that reading is fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and has the power to transform lives.”

In the UK, thanks to National Book Tokens, book publishers and booksellers, World Book Day, in partnership with schools all over the country, now distributes more than 15 million £1 World Book Day book tokens to children and young people (that’s almost one for every child/young person under 18 in the UK and Ireland).

In the UK, they also celebrate World Book Night with readings, conversations, and other literary events. Why not keep the party going a full 24 hours?

Find a local independent bookstore near you on Indiebound, or order online at

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Bookmarks Names Jamie Rogers Southern as its New Executive Director

From our friends at Bookmarks in Winston-Salem:

Jamie Rogers Southern

The Bookmarks Board of Directors is pleased to announce that after guiding the organization for six months, Jamie Rogers Southern has been named Executive Director of Bookmarks.

The Board of Directors conducted a nationwide search for an executive director before unanimously approving hiring Jamie, who started with Bookmarks as a volunteer at the 2009 Festival of Books & Authors.

“Jamie was by far the most qualified candidate, and we are fortunate to have her take the helm and lead Bookmarks into the future,” said Barbara C. Raffaldini, the board chair for Bookmarks. “Jamie’s dedication to and love of Bookmarks are evident. Her desire for Bookmarks to be a force for good in our community is inspiring.”

Before becoming Interim Executive Director in October 2020, Jamie worked as Bookmarks’ Operations Director for nine years. She previously served as an education coordinator with the American Booksellers Association, managed an independent bookstore in Alabama, and ran her own events company.

One of Jamie’s main focuses in the coming months will be Book with Purpose, an all-ages and communitywide anti-racism initiative, which is part of Bookmarks’ Books with Purpose programming.

“Everyone deserves the chance to see themselves in books and to know that books exist for them to be inspired, entertained and educated,” said Jamie. “As an organization, we must continue and extend our outreach, getting books into the hands of children and adults, and connecting to people through the life-changing power of story.”

The Book with Purpose anti-racism initiative is scheduled to begin in mid-May and continue through our 16th Annual Festival of Books & Authors, which is scheduled for September, 25, 2021.

Bookmarks is a 501(c)(3) literary arts nonprofit dedicated to igniting the love of reading in our community. We think books connect us, and we want to share joy and inspiration through the life-changing power of story. Everyone deserves the chance to see themselves in books, which is why our outreach focuses on all ages in our community. Through our year-round programs and events, we hope people continue to be inspired, entertained, and challenged by the written word.

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Thank You to Our Spring Conference Sponsors

The NCWN Online Spring Conference 2021 runs April 22-24. We are so grateful for our sponsors who made the event possible.

The MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has traditionally hosted Spring Conference when we’ve held it in-person. This year, they’ve been instrumental in helping us arrange programming. The Master of Fine Arts in creative writing is a two-year residency program with an emphasis on providing students with studio time in which to study the writing of fiction or poetry. One of the oldest creative writing programs in the country, since 1965 the faculty has intentionally kept the program small, enabling students to work one-on-one with faculty in a community of writers.

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County supports, enhances, and extends the myriad beneficial impacts of the arts throughout our diverse community, “touching every corner” and advancing the community’s franchise as the “City of Arts & Innovation” and its strategic agenda as a great place to live, work, learn and play. The Arts Council raises and distributes substantial funds through several grant programs and initiatives that have provided over $18 million of funding over the past 10 years.


Plottr will sponsor the “Faculty Readings” on Saturday, April 24. Outline faster, plot smarter, and turbocharge your productivity today with the #1 visual book planning software for writers! Plottr helps you:

  • Quickly outline your book with visual story cards
  • Filter your timeline by characters, places, and tags
  • Color-coordinate your storylines to keep them organized
  • Flip the timeline to view it vertically or horizontally

For a free 30-day trial, visit

Press 53 is the sponsor of both Valerie Nieman’s Master Class in Fiction, “Writing Effective Dialog,” and “How to Read Your Work to Others” (Poetry) with Joseph Mills. Press 53 has been finding and sharing remarkable voices in poetry and short fiction since October, 2005, having published more than 200 titles that have earned more than seventy awards. Press 53 has published poetry and short fiction collections by authors from thirty-five states, including six state poets laureate. In 2011, Press 53 established Prime Number Magazine, a free online journal of distinctive poetry and short fiction.

Spots are stil open in Joeseph Mills’ session, but registration closes Monday, April 19, at 9:00 am. Register here.

Finally, the North Carolina Arts Council provides the Network general programming support. For more than half a century, the NCAC has provided resources for arts programming, education, and leadership across the state.

Thanks to all of our sponsors; please help us share our appreciation by checking out books by Press 53 and giving the Plottr software a spin!

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