White Cross School Blog


NC Literary Hall of Fame



Hats Off! to Danny Bernstein, Robert Morgan, and Lee Smith, who have been chosen as finalists for the 2014 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award from the Western North Carolina Historical Association. Bernstein for her nonfiction book The Mountains to the Sea Trail Across North Carolina; and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees Morgan and Smith for their novels The Road From Gap Creek and Guests on Earth, respectively.


Hats Off! to Brenda Kay Ledford whose poem "Knee Deep in September" appeared in Mused Bellaonline Literary Review's Fall 2014 issue.


Hats Off! to Heather Bell Adams of Raleigh whose short story, "When We Could See But Did Not Know" (based on her novel, Maranatha Road), was a finalist for the 2014 Ruth Moose Flash Fiction Prize, sponsored by the Charlotte Writers' Club. Heather also had two stories named as finalists in the 2014 Touring Theatre of North Carolina Short Fiction Contest.


Hats Off! to Jan B. Parker whose story "Lies May Get You Everywhere; It Depends on What You Need," won First Place in the Charlotte Writers' Club 2014 competition, The Ruth Moose Flash Fiction Contest.


Hats Off! to North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Kathryn Stripling Byer whose essay "Needlework," on the haunting and lasting history behind her Summer 2014 poem, “Black Work," appeared in The Georgia Review.


Hats Off! to Rachel Unkefer whose poem "Stolpersteine" appears in the Fall 2014 issue of The Citron Review.


Hats Off! to Danny Johnson whose short story "Absence of Color" is forthcoming in Fox Chase Review in October. Danny recently signed with literary agency Gandolfo Helin Literary Management, with offices in LA, New York, Vancouver, Louisville, and Salt Lake City. The primary agent is Renee Fountain in New York.


Hats Off! to Miriam Herin whose second novel, Stones for Bread, has been accepted for publication in the Fall of 2015 by the Livingston Press of West Alabama University. The novel tells the story of poet Henry Beam, whose publication of poems claimed to have been written in a Nazi death camp provokes an authorship controversy still unresolved thirty-four years later. The novel moves back and forth in time from 1997 North Carolina to post-World War I France, to Paris in the early 1950s, and into the horror of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.


Hats Off! to Mark Havlik whose flash fiction piece "Rampage at the Herald Weekly" appears in the latest edition of Drunken Boat, Issue 19.


Hats Off! to Brenda Kay Ledford whose poems "Crepe Myrtle" and "Kitchen Chores" appeared in the September/ October 2014 issue of West End Poets newsletter.


Hats Off! to Mamie Potter whose short story "Countdown" appears in the new anthology Law and Disorder, published by Main Street Rag.


Hats Off! to Linda Hardister Rodriguez whose novel Up From the River was published through Lystra Books and Literary Services.


Hats Off! to Caroline Taylor who has placed the following articles and stories: "Ticket to Heaven" in The Avalon Literary Review; "Change You Can Believe In" in The Bitchin' Kitsh; "Elective Surgery" in Home Planet News; and "Dumb Beasts" in The Storyteller.


Hats Off! to Ruth Moose and Karen Pullen who both have short stories in Carolina Crimes: Nineteen Tales of Lust, Love, And Longing. Moose is the author of "Mama's Boy," while Pullen, who also edited the collection, wrote "The Fourth Girl."


Hats Off! to Linda Johnson whose short story "Happy Pills" appears in Carolina Crimes: Nineteen Tales of Lust, Love, And Longing, edited by Karen Pullen with an introduction by Margaret Maron.


Hats Off! to Tara Lynne Groth whose short story "Tuna Heart" appears in Mused Literary Review.


Hats Off! to Ralph Earle whose poem "The Mill Dam at Bynum" appears in Tar River Poetry.


Hats Off! to Marianna Crane whose short story "Hello Beautiful" appeared in the Eno River Literary Journal.



By Anna Jean (A.J.) Mayhew, 2012 Fall Conference Faculty, Writing Groups That Work

I lived the first forty-five years of my life in or near Charlotte, where I was born. In the mid-70s I took writing courses at Central Piedmont Community College and made friends who formed the first writing group I’d ever been in—six or seven of us, mostly writers of science fiction and fantasy. The Aardvarks—as we called ourselves—gathered at each other’s houses on an irregular basis, smoked, drank beer, and handed out manuscripts for critique—occasionally we read aloud to each other, but not often. Sometimes we just smoked and drank beer.

I moved to Orange County in 1985, and missed the ’Varks terribly. Occasionally I went back to Charlotte, or one or two of them visited me in the converted tobacco barn near Jordan Lake where I lived for a year, contemplating my navel and writing. In the spring of 1987 I met novelist Laurel Goldman, and joined her Thursday morning writers group. Twenty-five years later, I’m still a member of that remarkable weekly gathering of writers in Chapel Hill, and now lead two groups of my own, shamelessly copying Laurel’s successful method. Over two dozen books and many short stories have been published by those in our groups, and it’s the way the meetings are conducted that helps the members become prolific writers.

Over the eighteen years it took me to write my first novel, The Dry Grass of August, I read the whole book aloud to my Thursday morning group at least twice. When it was as polished as I could make it, I handed out copies of the manuscript to them and to Laurel; they took a month or so to read it and gave me everything from detailed line editing to suggestions about over-arching structure—plot, setting, and character. Laurel read it at least twice more before I began submitting it to literary agents in the winter of 2006. My novel was accepted by Kensington Publishing in 2009, in a two-book deal; it won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction in 2011 and was a finalist for the 2012 SIBA Book Award. My second novel, Tomorrow’s Bread, is now in progress.

If I were asked to say just one thing I’ve learned from being a member of Laurel’s Thursday morning group for twenty-five years and from leading my own groups, it would be that I’ve become a critical listener, and not just to the work of others, but to my own as well. Now when I’m writing, I often stop and read aloud (particularly dialog). This has made me a better writer and—an important thing when doing a book tour—I’m confident now when reading my work in public.

On Sunday morning, November 4, at the NCWN Fall Conference in Cary, I will meet with those of you who are interested in starting a writing group, and will share with you the details of what makes a group successful. When I think of the key ingredient, the one thing that distinguishes these groups from many gatherings of writers, I remember my children saying, at bedtime, “Read to me, Mama.”


Anna Jean (A. J.) Mayhew’s first novel, The Dry Grass of August, won the 2011 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, and is a finalist for the 2012 Book Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. A Blackstone Audio book came out in December, and the French translation was published in April. The novel will also be translated into Italian, Turkish, and Norwegian for release in 2013. In February, A. J. was a featured speaker at Southern Voices in Birmingham, AL, along with novelist Scott Turow. Last September, she dined with Governor Beverly Perdue at a gathering to honor North Carolina authors, and is now working on her next novel, Tomorrow’s Bread.

Registration for the 2012 Fall Conference is now open!


By Shane Ryan, 2012 Fall Conference Faculty, Humor Writing

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been impressed by essays that begin with a quote from a famous person. If that famous person is dead, even better; dead people have an aura that I’ve always envied. Speaking of which, I apologize for being alive as you read this post. You deserve better. (If I’ve died since writing, neglect the last two sentences and please avenge my death.)

The point is, I love dead people quotes. So when I was tasked with writing an introduction to my humor writing workshop, I thought I’d lead with something from a guy like Benjamin Franklin. He must have had a few thoughts on comedy, right? Who’s funnier than ole Ben Franklin? Remember that time he flew a kite in a lightning storm with a metal key attached? That was classic physical humor; Charlie Chaplin owed him a great debt.

I tried to remember a good Franklin quote, but I was hungry at the time, so my brain just came up with images of roasted chicken sprinkled with salt. I considered turning to Google for help with the quote, but instead I begged my girlfriend to roast a chicken and sprinkle it with salt. It wasn’t easy, but she finally agreed after I started crying. Man, did I feast. I ate the hell out of that chicken. When I was done, I made a miniature chicken from the bones and hung it over my bed so I could remember the meal forever. I named it “Bones,” after a similar creature I made out of a turkey carcass last Thanksgiving. It was such a great experience that I even asked the NCWN people if I could get out of the humor writing seminar and lead one about how to devour a roasted chicken instead. Unfortunately, that topic had already been taken by current U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.

So here I am, back at the keyboard, with nothing to show for myself. But I resolved to start with a quote, so before we go any further, I’m going to make one up from a fake historical figure:

“True humour, my dear, is the fool’s bosom friend, the vicar’s frigid companion, the tyrant’s sworn enemy,
and the psychopath’s ruinous lover.”
—Lord Addison “Barnacles” Balfour, in a letter to his wife, Lady Barnacles, 1594

Barnacles Balfour died only three months later in a Viking raid, a cruel and ironic end when you consider that the Vikings had died out 500 years earlier. And no, I’m sorry, I don’t know what the word “vicar” means either.

You may have noticed that the first 400 words of this essay have been utterly useless. Forgive me, but I was being pointless to make a point—humor is an evanescent, ephemeral ghost of a concept, prone to misinterpretation and disagreement and ultimate irrelevance. Some of you made it through those three paragraphs and thought, “That was the stupidest thing I’ve ever read.” Some of you may have smiled, or even laughed. But rest assured that I, personally, sat here laughing like an insane person while chicken grease ran down my mouth in ecstatic, loathsome rivers. In the end, we’re all correct.

Let me be serious for a moment: This world was designed to be difficult. Why? I don’t know, but I believe in God precisely so I can have somebody to resent for the way things work. Even for a guy like me, who has had a relatively easy twenty-nine years, life has had its rough patches. Yet somewhere else in the world, people are having a really hard time, so I can’t even enjoy my little challenges by indulging in self-pity. Which, again, is very annoying.

Saturday Night Live, legendary just forty years ago, seem stale and even conservative today. Shakespeare, whose tragedies hold up as achingly gorgeous treatises on human frailty, is a writer whose pun-based humor you would want to emulate only if you hoped to get beat up on a city street. Times and attitudes change, and it takes a keen understanding of the zeitgeist to capture what’s funny today.

Humor is diverse; racially, culturally, stylistically. I am not personally a fan of Larry the Cable Guy and his ubiquitous catch phrase, “Git ‘er Done,” but he makes loads of money from people who would mock me for driving a Toyota Prius. His stand-up routine couldn’t be more different from a show like Arrested Development—a wonderful mix of character-driven absurdity, physical comedy, and narrative subversion which became a sort of mainstream cult classic that was canceled after three seasons. And what common threads could be said to exist between the melancholy mid-life-crisis laments of Louis C.K. and the detached wordplay of the late Mitch Hedberg? What binds the biting, racial satire of Dave Chappelle’s sketches and the selfish egotism of Larry David? Each is vastly different, but the world is big, and each has its audience.

And yet, I swear, there is a connection. Difficult as it may be to identify, these comedic fountains rise from a common source. And if there’s a point to my ramblings, it’s that while humor is diverse and ever evolving, there are guiding principles that can help us when we try to be funny. When you learn the rules, it gets a little—not a lot, but a little—easier. The main requirement is that you pay attention to the life that goes on around you. Seriously, that’s it. Just open your eyes, and everything else will follow.

To use an actual quote from a real person, I draw your attention to Tolstoy: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I’m going to spin that one on its head for a moment, and declare that there are a million ways to be funny, but only one way to fail. If you can’t live through the triumph, tragedy, and even boredom of our world without feeling that persistent thread of humor seeping through the cracks in the façade, undermining and saving us at the same time, then God help you.

And fair warning: God may not help you, because God is funny.


Shane Ryan will lead a Humor Writing workshop at the 2012 North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference. Shane is a writer for, Paste Magazine, and Carolina Public Press. He has written about sports, music, film, politics, and comedy for a variety of publications, including No matter where he writes, he expends a lot of effort trying to be funny, and has embarrassed himself publicly so many times that he is now considered an expert. His biggest fans include his mother, who thinks he's especially hilarious when asking for money. Shane grew up in Saranac Lake, New York, graduated from Duke University in 2005, lived in Brooklyn for five years, and attended the UNC School of Journalism in 2010. He lives in Carrboro with his wife, and is two months away from turning thirty, which is not funny at all.

Registration for the 2012 Fall Conference is now open.


By Maureen Sherbondy, 2012 Fall Conference Faculty Member, Poetry

Recently I opened my local newspaper to find an advertisement for Wicked, a musical about the witches of Oz. In another advertisement, Julia Roberts was starring in Mirror, Mirror, a movie about Snow White. It seems fairy tales appear everywhere—on television shows, in commercials, movies, and plays. An entire literary journal, The Fairy Tale Review, exists devoted to the subject of fairy tales. It is no wonder that these tales also creep into poetry.

For years, poets have employed fairy tales in poetry, transforming these tales, reinventing these familiar stories, and using the universal stories as a framework, a “trigger” as Richard Hugo would say. Fairy tales can be used in the same way that a poet might choose to incorporate a formal structure—for example, a villanelle—to control and set parameters in a poem.

I am intrigued by this treatment of fairy tales in poetry, using the familiar tales as a jumping-off point for new work. In fact, I wrote an entire book of these fairy tale poems (After the Fairy Tale, Main Street Rag, 2007).

We relate to fairy tale characters because we either fear them or strive to be them. They compose parts of the self. Archetypes appear again and again in tales: The Damsel in distress, the Trickster, the Hero, the Martyr, the Great Mother, the Crone, the Mentor, the Warrior, the Evil Stepmother, etc. Archetypes are universal connectors that create emotional responses, such as fear, desire, and hope. For example, in "Hansel and Gretel," the emotions range from rejection, fear, abandonment, to despair.

Tales rich in symbols also appeal to poets. Why not make use of archetypes and symbols that already appear in these tales? Why not extend the tales, change them, add to the vision?

When I first wrote my own fairy tale poems, I explored what happened after the fairy tale ended. I placed characters from “Snow White,” Alice in Wonderland, and “Sleeping Beauty” inside contemporary society to see what would happen when two worlds collided. For example, I set “Snow White” at a mall in the 21st Century:

Snow White at the Mall
They mistake her for the granddaughter
of the Sees Candies lady,
with that old-fashioned dress
edged in white frills, the bow
in her hair. Children with blue-cotton-
candy smiles point chocolate-smeared
fingers at her. Mothers steer them away.
Only the mall police return her Prozac grin.
She’s tempted by denim -
blue jeans and jackets at the Gap,
but fears the Prince might leave her
for dressing down. What can she barter
for merchandise anyway? A smile? A kiss? A poison comb?
Finding a penny she throws a two-for-the price-
of-one wish into the fountain: health and good fortune
for the dwarfs, a long marriage for herself.
She leaves the mall empty-handed except
for free pretzel samples, a Belk flyer with coupons,
and a blue helium balloon that lifts away
into the open, consumer-free sky.

Rich in symbolism, archetypes, and imagery, fairy tales are amusing stories to mine as a source for fresh (and fun!) poems. Universal stories with human and magical qualities, fairy tales can be triggers for new creative work. I hope that you will join me in the workshop I will lead at the Fall Conference to write your own original fairy tale poems.


Maureen Sherbondy will lead a poetry workshop at the 2012 North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference. Her books are After the Fairy Tale, Praying at Coffee Shops, The Slow Vanishing, Weary Blues, and Scar Girl. She recently won the Spring Garden Press Robert Watson Poetry Award for The Year of Dead Fathers. The book will be published this summer. Her full-length collection, Eulogy for an Imperfect Man, is forthcoming from Brick Road Poetry Press. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She received an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. Maureen lives in Raleigh with her three sons. Her website is


by Heather Newton

What if I told you this:

Heather NewtonWhen my parents married in 1957, my father was French. He signed his name “Paien” and gave my mother a set of French conversation records she can still quote from today: “Je m’appelle Jean LeCharpentier mais je ne suis pas charpentier, ha ha ha.” One Sunday they drove from the small town in Bladen County where my dad served as a Methodist pastor to Pinehurst to eat at an upscale French restaurant. It was so expensive all they could afford was the green beans, les haricots verts. Soon thereafter my father became an Eskimo.

My father’s name is Carl. He grew up a Methodist preacher’s kid. As far as we know his only map-able genes are Scots-Irish and English. His selection of Eskimo heritage did make a kind of sense, because he was born in Nome, Alaska, where his parents were missionaries to a mining community. They moved from Alaska when he was two, first to the Seattle area and then to North Carolina. My dad was eight when his family moved to North Carolina, where his father pastored various churches in Swan Quarter, Elizabethtown, Pittsboro, Burlington. To protest the move my dad refused ever to develop a southern accent.

By the time I was born in 1963 my father had left the ministry, moved the family to Raleigh, and become Danish. He hung a large red and white Danish flag above his desk in our living room. When my third grade teacher asked us to tell our heritage, she must have been surprised when I, with my brown eyes and un- Viking-like dark hair, claimed Danish ancestry.

When I was twelve, my father became Greek. He listened to balalaika music and learned Greek folk dances. He was the first person in Raleigh to discover feta cheese and kalamata olives. He named himself “Karlos,”which he spelled with Greek letters. He took a trip to Greece, bringing me back drachmas I could bend with my teeth and the palm-sized casing of some sea creature, bleached white by the sun and still smelling of the Aegean.

My dad was Greek for a long time--through a divorce, his children leaving home, his mother dying. All the letters he wrote me in college were signed using the Greek alphabet.

Now my father is Scandinavian.

If I told you all this (some of which is true) you would say, “Your father is such a character!”

We’ve all known people about whom we’ve said, “He [or she] is such a character.” Often we follow this statement by shaking our heads, rolling our eyes, or perhaps adding a “bless his heart.” What is it about these folks that makes them so interesting and unforgettable? How can we make our fictional characters just as compelling, without sacrificing credibility or resorting to stereotype? Those are the questions we’ll explore in my “Such A Character” workshop at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2011 Fall Conference.


HEATHER NEWTON's debut novel Under the Mercy Trees (HarperCollins 2011) was selected as a spring 2011 "Okra Pick" by the Southern Independent Bookstore Alliance and chosen by the Women's National Book Association as a Great Group Reads selection. Her short fiction has appeared in Crucible, Encore Magazine, Wellspring and elsewhere. She is an attorney and mediator in Asheville: She will lead a fiction workshop at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2011 Fall Conference. Registration is now open.



By Holly Iglesias

Holly IglesiasMy life changed the day a poet friend read what I thought was a compact piece of nonfiction and said, “This is a prose poem.” And since that time, about fifteen years ago, it has been the only form in which I write. That uncanny, boxy shape invites compression and difficulty and mayhem because it is a tight container and because it defies the reader’s expectations of what a poem is. Instead of the lovely curvature of lineated verse, a prose poem asserts the value of the mundane—of objects and people and language itself under pressure. In addition, they are evocative objects themselves, recalling postcards, snapshots, to-do lists, diary entries.

I often write from the perspective of the past, developing points of view from archival materials that I collect at garage sales (magazines, schoolbooks, cookbooks, “orphaned” photos, souvenirs, and such). In the workshop, we will peruse some of these materials as an exercise in immersion and in perspective. For example, we’ll consider how a poem based on an old photograph could be written from several points of view: that of the subject of the photo, that of the photographer, that of the recipient of the photo, or that of an outside observer. Each person can expect to create and share at least one poem written during the workshop and leave with ideas on how to apply such prompts in the future.

My first poetry collection, Souvenirs of a Shrunken World, was based on research on the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, my home town; the second, Angles of Approach, toys with grand themes from history, fleshed out and clashing in unlikely encounters (picture a medieval monk on a moped; think Western Civilization in 250 words).

I published my first prose poem fourteen years ago, when prose poetry seemed quite obscure, hard to find, and overwhelmingly surreal. Now it’s everywhere: more lyrical, less obtuse, and it’s often confused with flash fiction and lyrical essays. Both the proliferation and the confusion are good, recruiting new readers and new debates about the nature of poetry and the division of genres.

If you’re into literary criticism and want to learn more about prose poetry, you might consider reading my critical study about prose poetry and gender, Boxing Inside the Box: Women’s Prose Poetry. And if you want to see what kind of poetry might be mined from a 1957 issue of Popular Mechanics or a seventh-grade U.S. Geography textbook from 1915, I hope you’ll register for this workshop.


HOLLY IGLESIAS will lead a poetry workshop at NCWN's 2011 Fall Conference, November 18-20 in Asheville. She is the author of two poetry collections—Angles of Approach (White Pine, 2010) and Souvenirs of a Shrunken World (Kore Press, 2008)—as well as a work of literary criticism, Boxing Inside the Box: Women’s Prose Poetry (Quale Press, 2004). In 2011, she was awarded a fellowship in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also received grant support from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Edward Albee Foundation, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Holly earned a Ph.D in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Florida State University and has translated the work of award-winning Cuban poet Caridad Atencio. She teaches in the Master of Liberal Arts Program at UNC Asheville.


by Nancy Simpson

Nancy SimpsonI was shy and didn’t speak much in my young life because I feared whatever I said would come out of my mouth sounding quirky. I did not know then I was using figurative language. I only saw puzzlement on my mother’s face and almost stopped talking.

Life changed for the better when someone in Raleigh sent three poets to read their poems at my local library. I heard free verse for the first time, and I recognized on the spot it was similar to what I had been hearing in my head most my life.

At age forty, the state of North Carolina certified me to teach. At the same time, I began writing my thoughts and published poems right away in literary magazines. I entered the first writing class offered in the Warren Wilson College MFA Writing program. After graduation, I kept taking poems apart, hoping to see how they were made, especially wanting to understand the writing process. More advanced poets warned me, “Be careful, Nancy. Poetry is meant to be mysterious. If you learn how it works, you might stop being able to make it happen.” Nothing could stop me. Writing poetry changed me, smoothed my tongue, and greatly enriched my life. I kept practicing poetry, publishing poems, and passing on what I had learned to others. As Gary Snyder said, “You get it right, and then you pass it on.”

My upcoming workshop "Poetry Writing Here and Now," scheduled for the 2011 Fall Conference, will focus on Contemporary Free Verse Poetry. I’m not one who believes “Free Verse” is a free-for-all, without rules nor responsibility. We will consider a list of specific guidelines aimed to guide you beyond the use of ordinary language. Where to break the line and how to make your poems sing with sound will be discussed. We’ll talk about specific forms of free verse and see what drives each kind. I’ll share my definition of the lyric poem, and we’ll write some poems.

NANCY SIMPSON is the author of three poetry collections: Across Water, Night Student, and most recently, Living Above the Frost Line: New and Selected Poems, published in 2010 by Carolina Wren Press. She is also the editor of the recently published anthology Echoes Across the Blue Ridge. Her poems have appeared in the Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, and other literary magazines, as well as in several anthologies. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and is a recipient of an NC Arts Council fellowship. She is one of the co-founders of North Carolina Writers’ Network – West, the Network chapter for writers in the westernmost counties of the state. She lives in Hayesville.

Registration for the 2011 Fall Conference is now open.


By Linda Rohrbough

Linda RohrboughMost pre-published authors think (and I thought this, too) that once you have an agent, your pitching days are over.

Ah, not so fast. There are three reasons why this isn’t true. First, your agent gets ideas from you. Pitching is the agent’s job, but their job is also to predict if your idea will sell, add on to and enhance your concept, and stay after marketing it to the right people.

Once they get to know you, they may bring you projects that are up your alley. But they have to know what your alley is first. Bottomline is, the cleaner and more streamlined the concept you present, the easier it is for your agent to place your work, and get you more work.

Second, you're going to end up pitching your book both before and after you write it. Especially after you write it. Let me give you an example. I travel and shop with some New York Times bestselling author friends. That’s how I learned pitching never ends. I’ve watched numerous times how these authors turn strangers into fans in a New-York minute.

I’m faced with opportunities like that with my new novel. For example, a rather influential book club, local to me, is getting pressure from an enthusiastic member who recently read my book. However, the group unanimously decided they want me, the author, to come in and talk before they shoe-horn my book to the front of their list. Bottomline is, this is a pitching opportunity. I recently had to the same thing before being invited to appear on a radio show.

Third, most writers assume they’ll be able to talk effectively about their book off-the-cuff without preparation or memorization of a "script." That's simply not true. My bestselling friends develop a carefully orchestrated pitch for every book, and select each word with precision to do double and triple duty.

Using my experiences and my own research, I developed a three-step plug-and-play formula that works for any book. That formula is the focus of my “Pitch Your Book” workshop, which is now also available as an iPhone app. Of course, there are things I can do teaching live that I can’t do in the app, and vice versa.

And I practice what I preach. I work on my own pitches until someone can wake me in the middle of the night and I can rattle it off without a hitch.

So it may look natural, but authors who talk effectively about their books are prepared and purposeful. And they know how to manage their own fear (which I also teach in my workshop). I have learned from the best and am careful to be ready. Because I never know who I'll end up talking to, or when. This fall, it could be you at the NCWN conference. I hope so. See you then.

LINDA ROHRBOUGH has been writing since 1989, and has more than 5,000 articles and seven books to her credit, along with national awards for fiction and nonfiction. New York Times #1 bestselling author Debbie Macomber said about Linda’s new novel: "This is fast-paced, thrilling, edge-of-the-seat reading. The Prophetess One: At Risk had me flipping the pages and holding my breath." An iPhone App of her popular “Pitch Your Book” workshop is available in the Apple iTunes store. Visit her website:

Registration for the 2011 Fall Conference, Nov 18-20, hosted by the North Carolina Writers’ Network, will open soon. Keep an eye on for more details.


Hats Off! to Debra Madaris Efird whose article "UNCG: A Place in the Heart" appears in the Summer online edition of UNCG Magazine.


Hats Off! to Liz Dowling-Sendor, editor of Crazy Christians by Michael B. Curry, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Morehouse Publishing recently published the collection of essays.


Hats Off! to Harry Calhoun, whose poetry manuscript Alarmed in Space has been accepted for publication by Unbound Content.


Hats Off! to Carol Cooley whose short story was chosen as a finalist in the 2013 American Fiction Prize. Her story will be published by New Rivers Press in an anthology titled American Fiction: The Best Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers, Volume 13. The collection is to be released October 2014.


Hats Off! to Greenville writer Tony Wayne Brown whose short story, "Bagno Vignoni on the Rocks," has been accepted for print publication by Angeleyes Publications for its Vanilla anthology.


Hats Off! to Heather Bell Adams and Cynthia Strauff Schaub, who were named as Honorable Mentions in the 2013 Hard Times Writing Contest sponsored by The Writers' Workshop. This contest invites contestants to "write about a difficult experience in your life, how you overcame this obstacle, and how you were changed by it."


Hats Off! to Marilynn Anselmi. An excerpt from her play, You Wouldn't Expect, was published in Magnolia.


Hats Off! to Margaret A Harrell, whose memoir Keep THIS Quiet Too! More Adventures with Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky, Jan Mensaert has been reviewed (very positively) in the UK print magazine Beat Scene's spring 2013 issue.


Hats Off! to Erika Hoffman, whose story “Keeping it Real” has made it through the first round of selection for Not Your Mother’s Book…on Being a Parent. To date, her stories have appeared in the following NYMB editions: on Being a Woman; on Travel; on Being a Parent; and on the Holidays. This series features stories with a humorous bent.


Hats Off! to Sandra Ann Winters. Four of her poems have been included in the newly published Cork Literary Review Volume XV (Ireland). She has been invited to read her poems at an official book launch November 23, 2013, in Cork City, Ireland.


Hats Off! to Randy Lee White whose short story, "Eeling by Tirelight," was published by Bartleby Snopes.


Hats Off! to Diana Pinckney, who received the Central Piedmont Community College 2013 Irene Blair Honeycutt Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts Award.


Hats Off! to Mary Struble Deery who won the 2012-2013 Ruth Moose Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by the Charlotte Writers' Club. Randy White and Tamra Wilson received Honorable Mentions. Winners will be invited to read their work during the Charlotte Writers' Club September meeting.


Hats Off! to Gwenyfar Rohler, who profiled No Boundaries Artists Colony for Wilmington Magazine and whose commentary on Moliere's Tartuffe ran on WHQR 91.3 FM Public Radio.


Hats Off! to Terri Anastasi whose two poems, "Valentine" and "Lost & Found," have just been published in The Inspired Heart anthology authored by Melinda Cochrane.


Hats Off! to Laura T. Jensen whose short story, "The Graduation Speech," will be featured in Sept/Oct Issue of A Long Story Short due out on Sept. 7.


Hats Off! to Arthur Powers, who has been named a judge for the 2014 Tom Howard Short Fiction and Essay Contest.


Hats Off! to Shelley Stack, whose short story "Bacon in the Fry Pan" has been accepted by The Dos Passos Review for publication in the December 2012 issue!


Hats Off! to Sheila Webster Boneham, whose Virtual Book Launch for her new mystery, Drop Dead on Recall, runs through October 11, 2012. Proceeds for Drop Dead for Healthy Dogs benefit canine health research.


Hats Off! to M. Scott Douglass and John Thomas York, whose most-recent books are reviewed in the current issue of storySouth. Douglass is the author of the poetry collection Hard to Love. York's debut poetry collection is Cold Spring Rising.


Hats Off! to Charles "LC" Fiore, whose short story, "The Gravity of Home," appears in the current issue of storySouth.


Hats Off! to Tammy Wilson, whose story, "Traveling Partners," appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That which will be released on September 18. The anthology includes accounts of simple absurdities, funny habits, and crazy antics of fascinating felines.

Larry Johnson received an exemplary review for his poetry book Veins from reviewer John Freeman at Rattle Magazine.  John Freeman writes," Larry Johnson has proven himself a master of traditional craft. For those who still have an ear for superb music in poetry, I highly recommend Veins."

Gary Carden won the $500 prize (second place) in the Porter Fleming Literary Festival for his short story called "Arsenic and Quince."

Carol Kenny was featured on WFMY-TV’s long-running “The Good Morning Show,” talking about her new novel, Whispers from St. Mary’s Well.  You can see a video clip of Carol’s appearance here.

Hats Off to Martha Witt.  Her story, "Home", was recently published in the online journal, Knee-Jerk.

"Jake's Story" was published in nth WORD. ('s_Story_Martha_Witt.php)

... to Lynne Tanner.  Cricket Magazine for Kids published her story about polio in its recent edition.

...whose short story, "The Ninth of Av," appears in the current issue of Crab Orchard Review, a special issue entitled, "New and Old: Re-Visioning the American South."

Kim Church's short story "Bullet" has been translated into Farsi and is the title story in the new Iranian anthology, Golouleh.  The story first appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly and has been anthologized in Flash Fiction Forward (W.W. Norton) and
The Great Books Foundation Short Story Omnibus.

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