White Cross School Blog


NC Literary Hall of Fame



GREENSBORO, NC—On Tuesday, March 25, WUNC’S The State of Things with Frank Stasio featured Spring Conference faculty member Paul Stroebel, who will sit on the“Writing about War” panel at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2014 Spring Conference.

Stroebel, along with another member of the Veterans Writing Collective, Rebecca King, talked about their writing in the Upstage Cabaret at the Triad Stage in Greensboro. The State of Things with Frank Stasio is a live radio show that brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to listeners six days a week. Host Frank Stasio lives in Durham, and is the former host of Talk of the Nation. This event was free and open to the public.

From Homer to Hemingway, writers have grappled with the causes, effects, and costs of war more than any other subject (except, perhaps, for love). As writers living in a time and place at war, how do we write responsibly and honestly about our—and others'—experience of it, whether from the front lines or the home front? This panel will examine this question, and others that writers face when they try to put war into words.

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2014 Spring Conference happens Saturday, April 12, in the MHRA Building at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Registration is now open. Spring Conference offers a full day of intensive workshops in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, writing from experience, writing for children, and the art of the pitch. Other features include faculty readings, on-site "lunch with an author," publisher exhibits, and an open mic for conference participants.

The "Writing about War" panel will convene in the afternoon session. Robin Greene is the author of four books and is a professor of English and Writing at Methodist University, where she holds the McLean Endowed Professorship of English. Paul Stroebel is a six-year U.S. Army veteran who was with the 82nd Airborne Division and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Sharon D. Raynor is a Visiting Associate Professor of English at Wake Forest University and an Adjunct Instructor int eh Center for Documentary Studies and Continuing Education at Duke University; she has written and directed two oral history projects with combat veterans in rural North Carolina.

Also on Saturday, award-winning author Kelly Starling Lyons will lead a workshop titled “So You Want to Write a Children's Book?”

Have you always wanted to write a children's book? Start the journey with children's book author Kelly Starling Lyons in a workshop designed to introduce you to the field. You'll get a basic understanding of children's book genres, mine your life for story ideas and receive tips to help you on your way.

Lyons is a children's book author whose mission is to transform moments, memories and history into stories of discovery. Her books include the CCBC Choices-honored picture book One Million Men and Me; Ellen's Broom, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book, Junior Library Guild and Bank Street Best selection; Tea Cakes for Tosh, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and winner of the 2013 American Association of University Women (AAUW) Award for Juvenile Literature (sponsored by the North Carolina division of AAUW); and Hope's Gift, named an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and showcased as the featured North Carolina children's book at the 2013 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Find out more at

Spring Conference pre-registration ends Sunday, April 6. Workshops are filling up fast—register now!

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


GREENSBORO, NC—The North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Spring Conference will offer registrants two workshops on how to pitch and promote their books.

Spring Conference happens Saturday, April 12, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. (Registration is now open.) For those writers with manuscripts ready or near-ready to be sent on submission, or anyone who's simply curious about how the process works, these workshops, led by bestselling and award-winning authors, offer proven strategies for pitching your next book and gaining readership through imaginative marketing.

In the morning session, Carrie Knowles and Peggy Payne will lead a workshop titled, "Market Your Book—with Imagination." You can improve your book’s sales, using the very ability that started you writing in the first place: imagination, the ability to see possibilities. Whether you start the process before you have a publication date or when the day is looming, you can help to kick off and maintain your book’s sales. You can even give a long-published book new life. Carrie Knowles and Peggy Payne, creators of their own three-state Crazy Ladies Book Tour and authors of a total of nine books, will show you how. Both are novelists, nonfiction authors, and have worked in advertising and marketing. They will suggest tactics and strategies for books and book ideas that workshop participants bring in.

In the afternoon, Linda Rohrbough will teach registrants "How to Make an Elevator Pitch." It’s a completely different set of skills to effectively talk about a book, than to write one. And it doesn’t take long for writers to figure out they need to be able to talk about their book to people they don’t know in a succinct and compelling way. First, it’s to editors and agents, but after publication it’s to book store managers, reader groups, and even the media. This workshop provides all the tools, including a simple three-step plug and play formula for pitching any book, along with the encouragement and fear-management techniques authors need to develop this all-important skill. Packed with examples, this interactive workshop gives writers everything they need to implement the career-long skill of pitching their books.

"How to Make an Elevator Pitch" is highly encouraged for anyone who signs up for the Speed Pitch special session at the end of the day, where registrants have a chance to pitch their manuscripts to four literary professionals. (See conference page for full details.)

Carrie Knowles is the 2014 Piedmont Laureate. She has been a freelance writer for the past forty-five years. She has published widely in both fiction and nonfiction and has won a number of prestigious writing awards including the Midland Authors Poetry Award, the American Heart Association Heart and Torch Award for Creative Journalism, and Glimmer Train’s Very-Short Fiction Contest. Her nonfiction book, The Last Childhood: A Family Story of Alzheimer’s, has been noted as one of the top 100 books written about Alzheimer’s. She has two novels published by Roundfire Books: Lillian’s Garden and Ashoan’s Rug.

Peggy Payne’s most recent novel is Cobalt Blue, kicked off at last year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and published in six countries. Her Sister India was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and her first, Revelation, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice with screen rights sold to Synergy Films. She is co-author of The Healing Power of Doing Good and has written for many national publications and most of the major American newspapers. Peggy works with other writers individually and in groups, giving manuscript feedback and career counsel.

Linda Rohrbough has more than 5,000 articles and seven books to her credit along with national awards for her fiction and nonfiction. She’s worked as a bureau chief for a news network in Los Angeles and in Dallas as well as having her bestselling books published by the big five New York publishing houses. Her books have enjoyed translation into over a dozen languages and she’s been quoted by publications such as the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Her novel The Prophetess One: At Risk has garnered three national awards: the 2012 International Book Award, the 2011 Global eBook Award, and the 2011 Millennium Star Publishing Award. An iPhone App of her popular “Pitch Your Book” workshop is available in the Apple iTunes store. Visit her website:

All three instructors also are available for the "Lunch with an Author" program, where attendees can sign up in advance to have lunch with a faculty member. This allows attendees to spend less time waiting in line and more time in conversation with conference faculty outside the classroom.

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


NORTH CAROLINA—Chapel Hill writer Laura Herbst won top honors in the 2014 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition for her essay “Breast Cancer: A Love Story.”

Author Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, the judge of this year’s contest, said, “I found ‘Breast Cancer: A Love Story’ an elegy for the body that reminds us of how our very identities are tangled up in painful physicalities. The writer sketches for us her own architecture and where in its design she has discovered fault lines and fulcra.

“In the end, the essay demonstrates that the barricades most difficult to break down are interior and intensely private. It reveals the unceasing struggle to countermand the secrets that, in becoming manifest, threaten to expose—as the writer acknowledges—the core of us.”

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Herbst left her job teaching news writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to write what she calls “soulful women's stories.” She is at work on a novel, set among village women in West Africa, where she once lived. Her fiction has appeared in The Sun magazine, and her nonfiction in The New York Times, the News and Observer in Raleigh and Indy Week (for which she received an investigative reporting award from the North Carolina Press Association last year).

Sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network and administered by the creative writing department at UNC-Wilmington, the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition encourages the creation of lasting nonfiction work that is outside the realm of conventional journalism. The contest is open to any legal resident of North Carolina or member of NCWN. First-, second-, and third-place winners receive $1,000, $300, and $200, respectively, and the winning entry is considered for publication in the magazine Southern Cultures.

Jason Hess of Wilmington won second place for his essay “The Adopted Person.” Hess, a native of Scappoose, Oregon, holds a BA in Spanish and English from the University of Idaho, and has lived in Costa Rica, Idaho, Spain, and now North Carolina.

“The essayist has a compelling voice that nimbly moves from humor to grief, all the while pursuing labyrinthine questions concerning origins, family, and isolation,” Abrams said.

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.

“‘How I Went to Adult Prison as a Child’ is essay as reportage, documentary, a lone lens trained on a subject with the writer vanished,” Abrams said. “The strength of the piece is perhaps in this stepping back of the author, so the voice of imprisoned can have the space necessary to testify.”

Scott is the author of the novels Child of the South, The Road from Chapel Hill, The Lucky Gourd Shop, Charlie: a novel of war, and Cassandra, Lost; the nonfiction Indochina's Refugees: Oral Histories from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam; and the prize-winning poetry collections An Innocent in the House of the Dead, Breakfast at the Shangri-la, Fainting at the Uffizi, and Night Huntress. A graduate of the University of Adelaide and Duke University, Joanna was born in England, raised in Australia, and now lives in Chapel Hill.

Abrams won the 2013 Whiting Writers’ Award of $50,000, one of the richest prizes in American literature, for her novella The Man Who Danced with Dolls. She holds an MFA (’07) from UNC-Wilmington, where she now teaches in the English Department. She is the recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, a Hartshook Fellowship, and a Byington Award. Born on Guam, Abrams is currently at work on her memoir, The Following Sea, about growing up on a cutter that made port throughout the South Pacific.


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