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NC Literary Hall of Fame

 

 

Emily Louise Smith directs The Publishing Laboratory at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and teaches courses on the culture and commerce of publishing. In 2009 she founded the literary imprint Lookout Books and now serves as publisher for both the press and its sister magazine, Ecotone. Under her guidance, Lookout titles have garnered accolades including the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Paterson Fiction Prize and have been named finalists for the National Book Award and The Story Prize, among others. Her poems appear in Best New Poets, the Southern Review, New South, and Smartish Pace; and her honors include fellowships from the Studios of Key West, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Hambidge, as well as a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prize. Recently she was named Woman of Achievement in the Arts and UNCW Lecturer of the Year.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference, Emily will sit on Saturday's "Brilliant at Breakfast Panel Discussion" titled "How to Work with a Publisher (So They Want to Work with You)" along with Anna Lena Phillips and Beth Staples. She will also sit on Sunday's panel, "Agents and Editors," along with Michelle Brower of Folio Literary Management, Paul Lucas of Janklow & Nesbit Associates, and Christine Norris of Press 53.

 

What are you reading right now?
I always have several books going at once. For my book club, I’m reading Karen Joy Fowler’s lovely We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; to satisfy my immense curiosity about the inner sanctum of Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House; and in poetry, I’m reading North Carolina poet Rose McLarney’s The Always Broken Plates of Mountains and Maurice Manning’s latest, The Gone and the Going Away. Those, and a never-ending pile of Ecotone and Lookout submissions.

If you could have a torrid but guilt-free affair with a fictional character, who would it be?
Atticus Finch.

What aspect of craft do you feel you handle especially well, or is especially important to you?
This isn’t craft exactly, but in terms of publishing, I seem to have a knack for crafting the story behind a book or author and pitching it successfully. Perhaps a holdover from my brief stint in advertising, I’m good at identifying a book’s target audience, as well as niche markets. And I’m absolutely devoted to book design and believe that readers naturally associate the well-written and well-designed book.

Any memorable rejections?
I try not to dwell on rejections, but there’s one acceptance I’ll never forget. The late Jeanne Leiby, editor of the Southern Review, always called writers to accept new work. I was in a meeting and couldn’t answer, but I saved her warm, generous message until my cell phone carrier eventually erased it. She’ll never know how that call buoyed me as both a poet and publisher.

Do you own an electronic reading device?
I own an iPad, but I don’t read books on it.

What's one thing that bugs you more than anything else when you see it in a piece of writing?
More than one exclamation point or question mark, though I could make a case for the return of the interrobang.

Do you steal pens from hotels?
Hotels, restaurants, students who ask me to sign permission forms. Place a pen within six inches of my hand, and it will somehow make its way into my bag or pocket.

If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
C. D. Wright, Jack Gilbert, or W. S. Merwin; though different stylistically, the way those poets see and sing the world—and their brokenness—humbles and inspires me. Theirs are the poems I return to again and again.

Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
Always to surprise myself; then I lop off everything up to that point and begin again.

What was the first thing you ever published?
If I discount the hand drawn newspaper I co-edited with a coterie of neighborhood kids, it was a poem in Hobart Park, the literary journal of Davidson College.

Do you read literary journals? What are some of your favorites?
I read as many as I can get my hands on in Wilmington. I read them to scout for new authors, of course, but also for design innovations and trends. Favorites include Tin House, the Paris Review, Harvard Review, the Oxford American, the Southern Review, the Common, and A Public Space.

What's one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wished they had?
I wish someone had convinced me early on that editors aren’t writers’ adversaries, and we certainly don’t have it out for aspiring writers. (Rejecting submissions is hands down the worst part of my job.) On the contrary, I’m in this because I want more than anything to be bowled over, moved, provoked; I want to feel, as Dickson described it, “as if the top of my head were taken off.” And I don’t much care whether it’s by a previously unpublished writer or a Pulitzer-winning author. I just want to discover and publish works that might one day reach through time and space to touch the soul of another human being. If I’d understood that earlier in my writing life, I might have felt a little more sympathy for all the overworked editors and publishers.

Please fill in the blank: I have read __ of the Harry Potter books.
One.

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Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference closes Friday, November 8.

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC—Pre-registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference ends Friday, November 8. Which means there's only one week left to sign up for North Carolina's largest and most inclusive writing conference at the discounted rate.

The deadline to pre-register is Friday, November 8, at 5:00 pm by phone or mail; midnight if registering online. Attendees who register prior to the conference can save up to 50 percent. And signing up now can help ensure registrants land spots in classes before they close.

The Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities that include a luncheon, an annual banquet, readings, workshop tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and an exhibit hall packed with literary organizations, presses, and publishers. Conference faculty includes professional writers from North Carolina and beyond.

Wilmington resident Clyde Edgerton will give the Keynote Address. Edgerton, a North Carolina native, is the author of five New York Times Notable Books and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Master Classes will be led by Philip Gerard (Creative Nonfiction), Rebecca Lee (Fiction), and Peter Makuck (Poetry).

Because publishing is an evolving business offering more opportunities for authors than ever before, several workshops are designed to help writers navigate this rapidly shifting landscape. Ellyn Bache, author of Safe Passage (made into a 1995 movie starring Susan Sarandon), will lead a workshop titled “Presses and Agents and E-Books, Oh My: 40 Years in the Book Biz.” Jen McConnel will lead a workshop on “The Ins & Outs of Indie Publishing,” and Bridgette A. Lacy will help writers learn how to market their books with “From Book to Buzz.”

Registrants will choose from craft-based workshops such as Virginia Holman’s “Getting Started: The Short Personal Essay” and “What’s in Your Attic? Recovering Your Old Poems” with Mark Cox. James Dodson, author of ten books including American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and the Age of Modern Golf (named one of the top 100 books of 2012 by the New York Times) will lead a workshop titled “Writing a Life—Including Your Own,” and UNCW’s Malena Mörling will lead a workshop on “The Short Poem.”

Wilmington-based Ecotone literary magazine and Lookout Books will lead a panel on Saturday morning titled “How to Work with a Publisher (So They Want to Work with You)”. Lookout Books publisher Emily Louise Smith will also sit on the Sunday panel, “Agents and Editors,” along with literary agents Michelle Brower of Folio Literary Management and Paul Lucas of Janklow & Nesbit Associates, as well as Christine Norris of Press 53. These editors and agents will participate in manuscript and marketing marts, and the critique service, where registrants can have their manuscripts evaluated by professionals. The 2013 Fall Conference offers coastal residents their best chance this year to meet with literary agents and editors, ask questions, and pitch their manuscripts.

Registration for the NCWN 2013 Fall Conference is open through Friday, November 8. For a complete list of workshops, to see the weekend's full schedule, or to register, visit www.ncwriters.org.

 

Malcolm CampbellMalcolm Campbell is the author of two adventure travel guidebooks, editor of professional golf instructor Dana Rader’s golf instructional book, Rock Solid Golf, and founder of the independent publishing house Walkabout Press. In Malcolm’s twenty years as a commercial writer, he’s written everything from power-tool-accessory catalogs to television commercials to cover/feature stories for national magazines. Malcolm is the 2008 recipient of the Doris Betts Fiction Prize, and he teaches in UNCC’s Writing Program.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference, Malcolm will lead a workshop titled, “The Tao of Self-Doubt: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Writers.” Writing is a difficult, lonely endeavor—one marked by occasional vacillation between self-doubt (“I’m a hack”) and grandiosity (“I’m the greatest writer ever”). Yet, self-doubt and heightened self-esteem are healthy, useful emotions for the writer, when they exist within certain limits. How can we put these and other emotions to use in our apprenticeship as writers? What are some effective means of preparing ourselves for the emotional realms of writing? Of working with editors or in writing groups? And of dealing with the time we spend alone, in reflection, both when we’re writing and when we’re not? Malcolm will present ten lessons for how to work through the emotional demands on creative individuals. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll sing “Kumbaya.”

Malcolm will also serve as a Critiquer for those attendees who register for the Critique Service. The Critique Service provides writers with in-depth literary critiques of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry by a seasoned writer or editor. A one-on-one, thirty-minute review session will be scheduled for those who choose to participate in the Critique Service.

 

 

What are you reading right now?
The Lost Weekend by Charles Jackson (plus student papers).

If you could have a torrid but guilt-free affair with a fictional character, who would it be?
Lady Brett Ashley from The Sun Also Rises.

What aspect of craft do you feel you handle especially well, or is especially important to you?
Dialogue comes naturally to me and is important in the way it conveys tension.

Any memorable rejections?
Two for two for the NC Arts Council $10k grants.

Do you own an electronic reading device?
No.

What’s one thing that bugs you more than anything else when you see it in a piece of writing?
Too much exposition in third-person.

Do you steal pens from hotels?
No–only from motels.

If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
Cormac McCarthy.

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

The Cape Fear Coast is a hotbed for the film industry. In your opinion, what has been the best book-to-screen adaptation?
The Road by Cormac McCarthy is one of my favorites, if not the best I’ve seen.

What was the worst?
The Great Gatsby is the most recent, disappointing adaptation I’ve seen. I cannot think of the worst.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wished they had?
That the protagonist’s desire-resistance pattern should exist on a literal level, as well as have deeper currents of desire and resistance.

Please fill in the blank: I have read __ of the Harry Potter books.
One.

 

Pre-registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference closes November 8. Register now.

 
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