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Virginia HolmanVirginia Holman is the author of Rescuing Patty Hearst (Simon & Schuster), a memoir of her mother's untreated schizophrenia. It was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Authors Selection, and received the Outstanding Literature Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She's published essays and articles in DoubleTake Magazine, Redbook, Women's Health, Prevention, Glamour, Self, O Magazine, More, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and elsewhere. Her work has been reprinted in Pushcart Prize series, broadcast on This American Life, and she's received fellowships and awards from the North Carolina Arts Council and The Carter Center. An avid kayaker and outdoorsy type, she also writes the monthly "Excursions" column for Salt Magazine in Wilmington. She teaches at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Virginia will lead a workshop at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference titled, "Getting Started: The Short Personal Essay." The short personal essay (750-1,500 words) can be an end in itself, or it can serve as a portal to longer work. We'll discuss the form and its possibilities, and do some in-class exercises to help you identify your obsessions and clarify your intent. In addition, we'll look at several markets that routinely publish short essays.

 

What was your favorite book as a child?
Little Women.

If you weren’t a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
Professional sea kayaker.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wished they had?
Exercise vigorously for an hour five times a week no matter what.

Any memorable rejections?
The acceptances are more memorable than the rejections.

Hemingway wrote standing up; Truman Capote wrote lying down. What posture do you write in?
Seated.

The Cape Fear Coast is a hotbed for the film industry. In your opinion, what has been the best book-to-screen adaptation?
I thought Bill Forsyth's adaptation of Marilynne Robinson's novel, Housekeeping, was lovely.

What was the worst?
I'm sure I've seen bad adaptions, but like rejections, they tend to fade from memory.

Why do you feel it’s important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
Writing can be isolating. The NCWN conference offers writers community, instruction, and hope. It's a big reason that North Carolina is a great place for writers.

Do you have pet peeves as a reader? As a writer?
I find exclamation points and italics annoying.

Do you own an electronic reading device?
I don't like reading books on electronic devices.

Are you scheduled in the time you set aside to write, or is your writing time more flexible than that?
I prefer a schedule, but I can force myself to be flexible.

Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
Both.

What was the first thing you ever published?
A poem in a high-school literary magazine.

Who is your favorite North Carolina author?
There are too many great North Carolina authors to choose one favorite. I'm sad there will be no more novels from Doris Betts. Her novels are smart, funny, and fierce. I'm also looking forward to the new Allan Gurganus novella collection, Local Souls. His short story "Blessed Assurance" (in the collection White People) should be required reading for all North Carolina politicians. How I love that story.

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The North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference will be held November 15-17 at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach. Registration is now open.

 

Bridgette A. Lacy is an award-winning writer and publicist. She was a staff features writer for The News & Observer from 1992 to 2008. As a publicist, she represents authors, food entrepreneurs, and small businesses pitching their stories to local and national media as well as trade publications. She also arranges media interviews and events bookings. She has twenty years of experience as a storyteller promoting literary, culinary, and other cultural-related ventures. Her work is featured in 27 Views of Raleigh: The City of Oaks in Prose & Poetry.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference, Bridgette will lead a workshop titled, "From Book to Buzz." This workshop is designed to help authors pitch, promote and sell their work. The course will offer authors insight on how to gain the competitive edge in the tough bookselling marketplace. Once you’ve published your novel or nonfiction book, you have to make readers aware of your work and then want to buy it. This workshop will help you think about a juicy sound bite that will help you grab the attention of booksellers, media and readers. I’ll also share traditional and innovative marketing strategies including social media campaigns that will help you create buzz.

 

What’s the last book you bought for someone else?
I get so many books for free as a reviewer, I rarely buy books.

Where’s your favorite place in North Carolina?
I love the mountains and the coast. So I’ll have to go with Asheville and Oak Island.

Why do you write?
Life provides so much raw material, you have to use it. Good writers have the uncanny ability to see things others don’t see. We see the irony and lessons in a way others can’t articulate.

What book would you take with you to a desert island, if you could take only one?
Black Writers of America: A Comprehensive Anthology. This is a textbook from my undergraduate days at Howard University in the early 1980s. I still read it. The writing ranges from slave narratives to contemporary poems and prose.

What advice would you give someone just about to go on stage to read their work for the first time?
Take a deep breath and read slowly. Pace yourself. Only read one section. I prefer the first chapter. Always leave the reader on a note of suspense.

What is the ideal time limit when someone is reading from their work?
Ten minutes.

Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
I write to discover. Whether its fiction or nonfiction, I like to leave room for things I don’t know. I want the research or my imagination to take me places that I didn’t know I wanted to go. I like to reflect and let the work speak to me.

Do you think some books should be banned from schools?
Not really.

What was the first thing you ever published?
I worked for my high school newspaper, The Beacon. I interviewed author James Baldwin when I was a high school student. His book, Just Above My Head, had recently been released. I called the preacher at the church where he was speaking almost every day to line up an interview. I was so nervous but I asked my questions and he answered them.

If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
Zora Neale Hurston. I love her audacity and spunk as an African-American woman. She didn’t hold back. She spoke her truth without apology.

Do you read literary journals? What are some of your favorites?
North Carolina State University’s Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora.

Are you scheduled in the time you set aside to write, or is your writing time more flexible than that?
I write something almost every day but the time can vary. I prefer writing in the morning, when the house and the world around me is still quiet.

If you could have a torrid but guilt-free affair with a fictional character, which one would it be?
Walter Mosley’s Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins. From first glance, I knew he was a man I wanted to know. Easy fears no man. He has plenty of street smarts, and he takes care of business. He is a private detective living in Los Angeles after World War II. He works as both a detective and as a school custodian. He owns a house and knows how to make a good fried bacon and egg sandwich. That’s hot.

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The North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference will be held November 15-17 at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach. Registration is now open.

 

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC—Columnist and author Celia Rivenbark will speak at the North Carolina Writers' Network annual banquet during the 2013 Fall Conference.

Rivenbark was an award-winning journalist before becoming the award-winning author of Bless Your Heart, Tramp; We’re Just Like You, Only Prettier; Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank; Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny With a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits; You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start in the Morning; You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl; and Rude Bitches Make Me Tired.

“I’m assuming Celia will deliver a sober, serious-minded disquisition on the Large Hadron Collider,” said NCWN executive director Ed Southern. “But I don’t know that for sure. She hasn’t told me.”

Rivenbark’s books have won the SEBA Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year and appeared on the New York Times and other bestseller lists. She lives in Wilmington with her husband, a hospital executive and true-crime author, and their teenage daughter.

The banquet is open only to Fall Conference registrants, though a registrant may bring one guest for a fee of $50. Guests must be registered with the Network in advance of the conference.

The NCWN Fall Conference is open to writers at all levels of skill and experience, from all across North Carolina, and beyond. Writers can register at www.ncwriters.org or by calling 336-293-8844.

 
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