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The North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference offers something for almost every writer, at any level of skill or experience.

Your best route to getting the most out of the Network’s 2014 Fall Conference depends on where you are right now as a writer, where you want to go as a writer, and how you want to get from here to there.

We hope these suggestions will help you find the offerings you need the most.


Are you a newcomer to the literary neighborhood? Have you just begun to write creatively, with the goal of getting published? Have you submitted only a few pieces so far, or nothing at all? Is this your first writers’ conference? Are you still not quite ready to think of yourself as a writer?

Don’t be shy; every single person at the Fall Conference either is or was a novice at one point, too.

As a novice, though, you probably ought to concentrate on your craft, honing your work to its finest quality, before you worry too much about getting it published.

In fact, get a head start before you come to the conference. Join the Network, if you haven’t already, and explore our website—features, articles, back issues of our newsletters—to learn more about the writing business.

For a thorough introduction to the business side, from beginning to end, we especially recommend this pair of articles: one on publishing by Betsy Thorpe (who’ll co-lead a workshop on “The Art of the Pitch,” and take part in the Fall Conference Critique Service), and one on bookselling by NCWN trustee Nicki Leone.

Some basic research before the conference will save you some time and mental energy, so you and your fellow registrants can get the most value out of your workshops.

Some good workshop options for novice writers include Chantel Acevedo’s “All Shapes and Sizes: A Workshop on Novel Structure”; “Poetry 101” with Anthony S. Abbott; and “First Impressions in the First Few Pages” with Sarah Creech.

Your choices may vary depending on your preferred genre, but we encourage you to use the Fall Conference to dabble in other genres. You may surprise yourself.

And don’t forget to sign up for the Open Mic Readings on Saturday night. You need the practice, and we want to hear you.



Do you have a few publications to your credit, or an established track record of submissions? Are you a familiar face at writers’ gatherings? Are you working on a book-length project?

You may be ready to apply to one of the Master Classes, which admit only the first 16 qualified registrants to each class, and will take up all three of your Saturday workshop sessions.

Or, you may want to mix some of the craft workshops—maybe “Poetry and Time” with Julie Funderburk; “Making Their Stories Your Own” with Rebecca McClanahan; or Zelda Lockhart’s “The Mirror Exercise: Producing a Whole Short Work in Less Than an Hour”—with some of the appropriate business-of-writing workshops like Sunday’s panel discussion on “The Many Paths to Publication” with Kim Boykin, John Hartness, and Karon Luddy.

Consider sending in a short story or several of your poems to our Critique Service, and let an experienced editor tell you what works, and what doesn’t.

And don’t forget to sign up for the Open Mic Readings on Saturday night. You need the practice, and we want to hear you.


Have you finished a book-length manuscript (or at least a first draft), or do you have enough poems to think about a collection?

You may still want to apply for one of the three Master ClassesCreative Nonfiction with Cynthia Lewis, Fiction with Aaron Gwyn, or Poetry with Morri Creech—if you think you need a little more know-how to make your manuscript the best it can be.

Or you may be ready to concentrate on the “business of writing” workshops: “The Art of the Pitch” with Betsy Thorpe and Carin Siegfried; “Crafting Your Message: Beginning an Interactive Publicity Campaign” with Priscilla Goudreau-Santos; “The Many Paths to Publication” panel discussion; maybe even “Creating a Poetry Community” with Scott Owens and Jonathan K. Rice.

You should sign up for the Manuscript Mart, and sit down with an agent who can tell you what works, what doesn’t, and what different publishers are looking for.

And don’t forget to sign up for the Open Mic Readings on Saturday night. You need the practice, and we want to hear you.


Do you have a book out, or on its way? Are you coming to the conference mostly to brag?

Then, by all means, brag away! We want you to. We hope we helped you along the way. Drop off 5 copies of your published book at the registration table, so the Network can sell them for you on consignment during the conference.

Sign up for whichever workshops interest you. Have fun. See old friends. Make new ones. Be nice to those novice writers, since you were there once yourself.

Register for the Marketing Mart, so you can get some tips on how to find readers for your book (a job that’s falling to authors more and more these days). Come to the Brilliant at Breakfast panel discussions to learn more about how writers are contributing to their communities, and what the latest trends in the book
business are.

And don’t forget to sign up for the Open Mic Readings on Saturday night. You need the practice, and we want to hear you.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference is now open.


CHARLOTTE—Charlotte is known as “The Queen City,” and registrants of the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2014 Fall Conference can expect a royal welcome November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel. Registration is now open.

Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities including a luncheon and a dinner banquet with readings, a keynote address, workshop tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and the opportunity for one-on-one manuscript critiques with editors or agents. Conference faculty include professional writers from North Carolina and beyond.

Allan Gurganus, author of the New York Times bestselling Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and, most recently, Local Souls, will give the keynote address. Born in Rocky Mount, Gurganus is a Guggenheim Fellow, a PEN-Faulkner finalist, and the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Morri Creech will lead the Master Class in Poetry. Creech's third collection of poems, The Sleep of Reason, is a 2014 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Poetry. He is the Writer-in-Residence at Queens University of Charlotte, where he teaches courses in both the undergraduate creative writing program and in the low residency MFA program.

Aaron Gwyn will lead the Master Class in Fiction. Gwyn, an associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, is the author of a story collection and two novels, including most recently Wynne’s War.

Cynthia Lewis will lead the Master Class in Creative Nonfiction. She has taught at Davidson College since 1980 and is the Charles A. Dana Professor of English. Her creative nonfiction includes both reportage on American culture and personal narrative, and she has published essays on such diverse topics as serial bomber Eric Rudolph, premeditated spousal murder, American women bodybuilders, women's love of shoes, and kissing.

From Saturday’s “Brilliant at Breakfast” panel discussion titled “Words in Civic Life” to Sunday’s panel discussion “Creating a Poetry Community,” the 2014 Fall Conference offers ample opportunities for writers of all levels of skill and experience to build their own communities and support networks and, of course, have fun. The inimitable Wilton Barnhardt, author—most recently—of the novel Lookaway, Lookaway, will speak during the Network Banquet on Saturday night and lead a fiction workshop.

Other fiction workshops will be led by Chantel Acevedo, Sarah Creech, Moira Crone, and A.J. Hartley, who will focus on Y.A. fiction.

Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina’s seventh Poet Laureate, will read during the luncheon on Saturday. He fronts a stellar lineup of faculty poets including Julie Funderburk, Cedric Tillman, and Alan Michael Parker whose poetry collection, Long Division, won the 2012 NC Book Award.

Registrants looking to learn more about how the publishing industry works can look forward to the “The Art of the Pitch,” led by Carin Siegfried and Betsy Thorpe. Priscilla Goudreau-Santos will lead a Business of Writing Workshop, while Kim Boykin, John Hartness, and Karon Luddy will sit on a panel titled “The Many Paths to Publication.” The veritable smorgasbord of class offerings doesn’t stop there: Amy Rogers will teach “Food Writing,” Rebecca McClanahan will lead the all-genre “Making Their Stories Your Own,” and Zelda Lockhart will lead the all-genre "The Mirror Exercise: Producing a Whole Short Work in Less Than an Hour." Scott Owens and Jonathan K. Rice, both hosts of long-running monthly open mic events, will discuss “How to Build a Poetry Community.”

As always, the Manuscript Mart, Marketing Mart, and Critique Service are available to those who pre-register. And the Network will again offer the Mary Belle Campbell Scholarship, which sends two poets who teach full-time to the Fall Conference.

Fall Conference sponsors include Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council, Charlotte Magazine, Alice Osborn (, Al Manning, and the North Carolina Arts Council.

Registration for NCWN’s 2014 Fall Conference is now open.

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


Rebecca McClanahan’s tenth book is The Tribal Knot: A Memoir of Family, Community, and a Century of Change. She has also published five books of poetry, three books of writing instruction, and The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings, winner of the Glasgow Award in nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Sun, and numerous anthologies. Recipient of the Wood Prize from Poetry Magazine, a Pushcart Prize, the Carter Prize for the Essay, and literary fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council, McClanahan teaches in the MFA programs of Queens University and Rainier Writing Workshop, and has been appointed the 2015 Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University.

Rebecca will lead a workshop at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference titled, "Making Their Stories Your Own." Whether you’ve inherited boxes of letters, photos, and documents, or only a few stories passed down to you, this multi-genre workshop will help you begin to shape the raw material of family history into an engaging and artful text. Drawing on her experience in writing essays, poems, and, most recently, The Tribal Knot: A Memoir of Family, Community, and a Century of Change, Rebecca McClanahan discusses the challenges and rewards of family history writing and offers suggestions for the journey. Specific topics include selecting and arranging significant details, fleshing out characters, providing historical or cultural context, employing speculation and reflection, choosing the best structure, and discovering themes and patterns of meaning.


What are you reading right now?
Adrianne Harun's new novel; Fleda Brown's book of poems, No Need of Sympathy; rereading Tillie Olsen's Silences and Edward Hoagland's essay collection, The Courage of Turtles.

Where is your favorite place to write?
My own desk, facing away from the window so I'm not distracted.

If you weren't a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
Back-up singer for gospel and/or blues group.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
I have no idea. You'll have to ask my readers.

If you could switch places with one fictional character, who would it be?
E. B. White's spider, Charlotte A. Cavatica. She spins beautiful webs, helps save her friend's life, and leaves her "magnum opus," generations of spiderlings (one of which is named Joy) who will carry on her work after her death.

What do you hope attendees take away from Fall Conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop?
Whatever will challenge them to move to a new place in their work.

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?
Though I know the origin of both, I've always thought it strange to give cities nicknames they'll likely outgrow.

Sunday's Workshop Session IV panel discussion is titled, "The Many Paths to Publication." What's the first thing you ever published?
An essay I wrote in the eighth grade for a contest sponsored by the WCTU, in which I made an admirable case against alcohol, which I had not yet tasted. I was paid fifteen dollars. Had I saved the money, I could have ordered a glass of lovely single-malt scotch last week. Oh well.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
I'll pass on this one and just hope the critics can read my mind.

What is the most frustrating or rewarding part of the writing process?
Finding the center in the midst of all the havoc that first drafts create. The process is frustrating and rewarding, all at the same time.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
Publication doesn't change your life; writing does.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
The Oxford English Dictionary, or whatever dictionary best suits the reader's native language.

Describe your ideal literary festival. Who would give the keynote address? Who would be the featured readers? What else?
As for featured readers, there are too many fabulous writers for me to choose from; I'll leave that to the event organizers. But I would definitely vote for a dance—with a great band or DJ and a roomy dance floor.

Do you steal hotel pens?
I prefer to think of it as providing free advertisement for the hotels.


Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference opens Wednesday, September 3, at


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