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NC Literary Hall of Fame



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Albert Howard Carter IIIThe distinguished editor and publisher Shannon Ravenel has selected Chapel Hill resident Howard Carter’s story, “Mr. Mason’s Request,” as the winner of the 2009 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize from the N.C. Writers Network.  Ravenel  picked “Dickhead” by Anne Barnhill of Garner as the first runner up, and “Shack on Fire” by Bill Morris of Durham as the second runner up. The winner will receive a prize of $1,000 from the Network, and all three stories will be considered for publication by The Thomas Wolfe Review.

Ravenel selected the winners from a group of nine finalists sent to her by preliminary judge, David Radavich of Eastern Illinois University. The other six finalists were Samantha Talley of San Antonio, TX, for “The Mermaids Singing”; C. Stuart Wright of Ruffin, NC, for “Murdering Edna”; Ann McMurray Simpson of Knoxville, TN, for “Robert’s Shadow”; Julia Davis of Durham, NC, for “Revive Us Again”; Kurt Corriher of China Grove, NC, for “The Caretaker”; and Robert McCall of Saluda, NC, for “Ash Wednesday.”

Ravenel, the editor of The Best American Short Stories series for 13 years and the founding editor, with Louis Rubin, of Algonquin Press, praised Carter’s story: “Based on a brilliant premise, this story is perfectly executed to make the most of that premise and convincingly characterize the three players.” Carter, having retired from Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL, is now adjunct professor of Social Medicine, College of Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill, and, part-time, a massage therapist specializing in cancer patients. He has written articles, poems, stories and full-length books about ways in which literature and the humanities can help medical patients. He has an A.B. in Humanities from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Comp. Lit from the University of Iowa, with supporting courses in the Writers’ Workshop.

Anne Barnhill, the first runner-up for “Dickhead,” is the author of a memoir, At Home in the Land of Oz: Autism, My Sister and Me.  Her short story collection, What You Long For, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Publishing Co. in May of this year. She holds an M.F.A. in creating writing from UNC-Wilmington. Ravenel calls her story “a daring first person narrative that overcomes what could have turned raunchy or crude. Originality and finesse work beautifully here.”

Bill Morris, the second-runner up for “Shack on Fire,” writes a story, says Ravenel, “about place and its hold on human beings” in which “setting is the protagonist, and the author manages the twist nicely.”  He divides his time between Durham and the soundside village of Straits in “Down East” Carteret County. The Core Sound area is the setting for his first novel, Saltwater Cowboys, as well as for his story, “Dinah’s Dog,” the winner of the 2003 Doris Betts Prize for short fiction.


Greensboro, NC – More than one hundred writers from across North Carolina (and beyond) came together at the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s annual Spring Conference last Saturday.

Held once again at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the 2009 Spring Conference featured ten workshops in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and public speaking, as well as readings by instructors and attendees, a panel discussion with magazine and small press publishers, and a keynote address by bestselling novelist Sharyn McCrumb.

“I was well fed,” one metaphorically inclined attendee said. “I’m grateful that I was given the opportunity to partake of this banquet.”

The 2009 Spring Conference offered attendees a chance to study fiction with Quinn Dalton, Valerie Nieman, and Jack Riggs; nonfiction with Marianne Gingher, Ed Southern, and Lee Zacharias; poetry with David Roderick and Carolyn Beard Whitlow; playwriting with Alan Cook; and public speaking with Carol Roan.

Attendees also had the chance to get to know these authors and their fellow registrants better at “Lunch with an Author,” in which small groups signed up to take a faculty member to lunch.

“I loved (my) session,” an attendee said. “I learned how to better get inside a character’s head, what questions to ask them, and what drives them.”

Another attendee described the conference as “time well spent. This was my first conference of this type. I will attend more!”

David McGuirtDavid McGuirt of Charlotte is the winner of the 2009 Doris Betts Fiction Prize for his story “Blind Faith.” McGuirt will receive a prize of $250 from the North Carolina Writers’ Network.

Noted for honorable mention are Marjorie Hudson’s “The High Life,” Melanie Raskin’s “Waiting for Azrael,” and Kuruvilla Verghese’s “A Life in the Shadow.” Of these three and the winning story, final judge Kat Meads said, “I thought the characterizations were solid, the descriptions economical but resonant, and the image linkage – whether symbolic or no – very well done.”

Meads says of McGuirt’s winning story, “‘Blind Faith’ is fiction that mercilessly observes and indicts by the means by which all good fiction indicts: plot, pacing, powerful imagery, and characters who stay with the reader long after the reading is finished.” She describes Verghese’s “A Life in the Shadow” as “an economical, dexterous tale of the plight of a Brahmin widow, age twenty-two, whose life is at the mercy and whim of others until she takes back control by the only means at her disposal: suicide.” Meads’ description for “The High Life” praises Hudson’s “hardscrabble story of a wise-beyond-his-years ‘thrown-away’ teen who manages to construct for himself something like a second family with the members of a traveling carnival … Dip’s angst, longing, and discoveries are effectively delivered in the staccato rhythms of lessons learned quickly – and painfully.” Of “Waiting for Azrael,” Meads “appreciates and applauds the humor of Raskin’s story and its characterizations, particularly brother Adrian.” Meads also noted Steve Mitchell’s “Platform,” “with its ‘I am the terrorist’ twist,” and Gregg Cusick’s “ambitious” “A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions.”

Meads, an eastern North Carolina native now living in California, is the author of the short story collections Not Waving and Little Pockets of Alarm and the novels Sleep and The Invented Life of Kitty Duncan Benedict Roberts. She chose the winning stories from finalists selected by the North Carolina Literary Review from the original 106 submissions, up from 62 in 2008. Meads noted that she “was impressed by the quality of many of the finalists.”

The winning story will be published in the 2010 issue of the North Carolina Literary Review. Some of the finalists will also be invited by the NCLR editors to revise and resubmit for publication consideration. The 2008 Betts first- and second-place stories, as well as a play by and an interview with Kat Meads, will be in the 2009 issue of NCLR, due out this summer. For information on subscribing to NCLR, go to

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