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On-site registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference will open Friday, November 21, at 3:00 pm at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, in Charlotte. There, Erika Marks will sit on a panel titled, "Structure: Four Ways to Build a Book" with Kim Boykin, Marybeth Whalen, and Kim Wright.

Structure: It's hard to talk about and therefore many writers avoid the scary subject, even though a sound structure is essential to the success of any novel. On this panel, four writers will share their own unique ways of building a book, from being a “pantser” (who flies by the seat of her pants) to a “plotter” who won't begin without a detailed outline, to all the possibilities between these two extremes. We'll also discuss the issues of whether each book demands its own structure, the challenge of revision, writing when you aren't sure what happens next, and whether or not the "film formula" really works when it comes to novels. You'll leave with a new set of tools to help you find the best structural approach to your next book.

Erika Marks is a native New Englander who now makes her home in Charlotte with her husband and two children. On the winding road to publishing, she has worked as an illustrator, an art director, a cake decorator, and a carpenter--but writing has always been her greatest passion. She is the author of The Guest House, The Mermaid Collector, Little Gale Gumbo, and It Comes in Waves, all published by NAL/Penguin. Her love of the sea keeps her stories tied to the shore, as well as her love for stories of the heart. You can reach her directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

What are you reading right now?
Euphoria by Lily King.

Where is your favorite place to write?
My office which happens to be the back corner of our sunroom at the moment.

If you weren't a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
Archeologist.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
It might be a tie between Alice Hoffman and Stephen King.

If you could switch places with one fictional character, who would it be?
Holy cow—how to pick just one? At the top would have to be Claudia from The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Franiweiler. She gets to live at the Met Museum, for goodness’ sake! I always envied her that adventure.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from Fall Conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
That they have a clearer sense of what kind of story-writing structure works best for them and can hit the ground running when they get home!

Sunday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "The Many Paths to Publication." What's the first thing you ever published?
My first novel, Little Gale Gumbo, which was released by NAL in 2011—I had been submitting manuscripts for twenty years at that point.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Engrossing, moving, well-developed.

What is the most frustrating or rewarding part of the writing process?
Most frustrating is that sense that a work is never done and knowing that one day you have to stop fussing it and simply say “It’s done” so you can move on to a new story. Most rewarding is getting to rework a story to a point where is rich and newly exciting each time you do.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
That it takes time to get a story to a place where it’s ready to be read, either by editors or agents or other readers. Drafts are your friend.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
Another great question—Life of Pi or The Shipping News might top that list.

Do you steal hotel pens?
Yes—but I wasn’t aware that was stealing. No, really! But I take home the shampoo and soaps too because I would hate to think they get thrown away unused. (That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.)

***

The North Carolina Writers' Network runs November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, in Charlotte. On-site registration will be available.

 

Wilmington, NC--The 2015 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition is now open for submissions, and that means contest season is officially upon us.

The Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition encourages the creation of lasting nonfiction that is outside the realm of conventional journalism and has relevance to North Carolinians. Subjects may include traditional categories such as reviews, travel articles, profiles or interviews, place/history pieces, or culture criticism.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Post family, in 2014 the North Carolina Writers' Network began offering the first-place winner $1,000, while the second and third place winners receive $300 and $200 respectively. The winning entry also will be considered for publication by Southern Cultures magazine.

The Final Judge is Jason Frye, a travel, culinary, and culture writer from Wilmington. After his first experience with North Carolina—a family vacation to the Outer Banks—he felt drawn to the state. He moved here in 2002 to attend UNC-Wilmington and pursue his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing; after graduating in 2005, he stayed and began to explore the state through the lens of a poet, essayist, journalist, culinary critic, and travel writer.

His work has appeared in print in crazyhorse, Our State magazine, the Official North Carolina Visitor Guide, The Charlotte Observer, Raleigh News & Observer, the StarNews, AAA Go!, and others; and his monthly column on the culture and nightlife in and around Wilmington appears monthly in Salt. Online, he has written for Our State Eats, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, VisitNC.com, Forbes, and Moon.com. He has two travel guides—Moon North Carolina and Moon North Carolina Coast—in print through Avalon Travel Publishing, and a third—Moon Road Trips: Blue Ridge Parkway—will be released in spring 2015.

Chapel Hill resident Laura Herbst won the 2014 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition for her essay, "Breast Cancer: A Love Story." Jason Hess of Wilmington won second place for his essay “The Adopted Person,” while Chapel Hill’s Joanna Catherine Scott won third place for her essay “How I Went to Adult Prison as a Child,” based on interviews with a prisoner in Central Prison.

The contest is administered by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Department of Creative Writing, a community of passionate, dedicated writers who believe that the creation of art is a pursuit valuable to self and culture.

Rose Post worked for the Salisbury Post for fifty-six years as a reporter, feature writer, and columnist. She won numerous state and national awards for her writing and earned the N.C. Press Women's top annual award four times. She received the O. Henry Award from the Associated Press three times, the Pete Ivey Award, and the School Bell Award for educational coverage. Nationally, she won the 1989 Ernie Pyle Award, the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award for human-interest writing, and the 1994 National Society of Newspaper Columnists' Award.

Here are the complete guidelines:

  • The competition is open to any writer who is a legal resident of North Carolina or a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network.
  • The postmark deadline is January 17.
  • The entry fee is $10 for NCWN members, $12 for nonmembers.
  • Entries can be submitted in one of two ways:
    1. Send two printed copies through the U.S. Postal Service (see guidelines and address below), along with a check for the appropriate fee, made payable to the North Carolina Writers' Network.
    2. Submit an electronic copy online at http://ncwriters.submittable.com, and pay by VISA or MasterCard.
  • Each entry must be an original and previously unpublished manuscript of no more than 2,000 words, typed in a 12-point standard font (i.e., Times New Roman) and double-spaced.
  • Author's name should not appear on manuscript. Instead, include a separate cover sheet with name, address, phone number, e-mail address, word count, and manuscript title. If submitting electronically, page 1 should be your cover sheet.
  • An entry fee must accompany the manuscript. Multiple submissions are accepted, one manuscript per entry fee: $10 for NCWN members, $12 for nonmembers.
  • You may pay the member entry fee if you join the NCWN with your submission. Checks should be made payable to the North Carolina Writers’ Network.
  • Entries will not be returned. Winners will be announced in March.
  • Send submission to:
North Carolina Writers' Network
ATTN: Rose Post
PO Box 21591
Winston-Salem, NC 27120
 

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.

 

Pre-registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference closes Friday, November 14. There, Karon Luddy will sit on the panel titled "The Many Paths to Publication" with Kim Boykin and John Hartness. Traditional or Indie, Big 5 or Small Press, Digital or Print: writers have never had more possible, viable paths to publication to choose from, which can make choosing harder than ever before. This panel discussion will feature three authors who have followed more than one of those paths, and can tell you what they discovered along the way.

Register now!

Karon Luddy grew up in Lancaster, SC, and lives in Charlotte with her husband Tom. She is the author of the award-winning novel Spelldown published by Simon and Schuster and Wolf Heart, a book of poetry, published by Clemson University Press. In 2005, she received her MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University and became an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte where she teaches writing intensive classes in the American Studies Department. In 2014, Luddy's passion for writers, readers, and literature inspired her to create Backbone Books. The debut title of this new imprint, Bewilderment of Boys, was published in June. It is also the sequel to Spelldown, Luddy's first novel.

 

What are you reading right now?
Byrd by Kim Church.

Where is your favorite place to write? For fiction, I love to write in my home office.
For poetry and journal writing, I love to write sitting on the old white sofa in my living room.

If you weren't a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
Singer-songwriter.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
My younger self.

If you could switch places with one fictional character, who would it be?
I have no desire to switch places with any fictional character.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from Fall Conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
To put your best work out there and to help other writers, editors, and publishers do the same. It’s all about community and co-marketing.

Charlotte is known as both "The Queen City" and "The Hornet's Nest." Does one of those nicknames ring more true for you than the other?
The Queen City because I love female monarchs and my daughter is named Charlotte.

Sunday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "The Many Paths to Publication." What's the first thing you ever published?
My first publication was a poem titled “Graffiti on a Bathroom Wall.”

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Mind-blowing. Whimsical. Authentic.

What is the most frustrating or rewarding part of the writing process?
When the poem, story, or novel itself breathes a sigh of relief that I am finished with it.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
Lighten up. Take your work seriously, but not your Self.

Describe your ideal literary festival. Who would give the keynote address? Who would be the featured readers? What else?
My ideal literary festival would be a Women’s Book festival run by women, with all women authors and participants held in the Southeast. The focus would be on Narrative Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction. Three Keynote Speakers: Cathy Smith Bowers, Dannye Romine Powell, and Sheri Fink. For ages 16 and up.

Do you steal hotel pens?
No. I have a fetish for pens and I prefer to write with uniball Vision pens.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.

 

 
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