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The heart of the North Carolina Writers’ Network beats in response to the needs and requests of its members. Its members are the poets, novelists, essayists, writers of short stories, flash fiction, nonfiction, novellas—all the vibrantly talented wordsmiths we have, who live and work across our state, from the western tip of our Blue Ridge Mountains to the wide, sandy beaches of our eastern shores.

What does the NCWN mean to me, personally? Let me set the scene …

Timing is just about everything. Well, it certainly was on the day I received the worst critique of my life. I’m sure you know the type: learned author reads your sentences aloud. Shakes his head, disgusted. Your BP ramps up like you’ve just run the mile. You wait for his feedback and pray it won’t slice you to red-ribbon shreds. It shoots out like poison arrows from his lips: “I don’t know, Jan. Maybe you should think about going back to school.” (Insert shower scene from Psycho here; he is killing you.)

Time moved at glacial speeds for me after that day. I did not write for six months. My bruised heart thumped erratically. I cried at the oddest intervals, and I was making my spouse sick. One day, the Hubs said, “Dear, you have got to do something different.”

Of course, I gave him the stink eye because his timing seemed to suck. In truth though, it was perfect. Online, I input my membership data to the NCWN’s user-friendly Web site and rediscovered such delicious entrees as their guide to literary agents, calendar of upcoming events, Hats Off, resource links, and writing competitions. In the dessert section, Submit It, I read the call for submissions by a well-known publisher in Winston-Salem.

The deadline for their Open Awards was a few months off, so I decided to enter. What’d I have to loose? Soon, my computer and I were back on track. I wrote every day for the next six months and submitted everything I’d written to Press 53. One of my pieces earned a spot on the finalist list (2008), and I floated to cloud nine and back. I felt a whole lot smarter about the timing of things, not to mention, clearer on the fundamental definition of who my community needed to be. By the way, my novella, Hard Times and Happenstance, won first place honors in the 2009 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology and will be published this fall.

So, what does the NCWN mean to me personally? It is where my tender fellow writers and poets—the ones who speak in special tongues, the ones who shape-shift the world into a place we can actually bear (or stop putting up with) come together—online or at a conference, at a reading or via phone. It is where we can be counted and a place we can feel at home. The North Carolina Writers’ Network is my community. Together, we make the best of good times better.

So, dear, if you’re not a member already, do something different today. Join. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow for the good timing you had today. See you, Jan.

To the members and friends of the North Carolina Writers’ Network:

If you love books (even if only the ones you yourself have written), you need to be aware of a recent market trend that could have a far-reaching effect on readers and writers.

This fall, some of the country’s largest retailers—notably Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon.com—have begun pricing new and often best-selling hardcover books as low as $8 or $9, 50%–60% lower than the publishers’ list price. This means that those retailers are often selling books for less than what they bought them for from the publishers. They are, in effect, losing money on each book sold.
It seems like a great deal for readers, doesn’t it? Not when you think about its long-term effects.

These pricing practices could create a climate in the book business in which new and even established authors suffer because of the irresponsibility of retailers who have little concern for the health of bookselling and publishing, much less the literary community. They are telling readers that books aren't worth the price it costs to publish them.

Do any of us really want to live in a world where publishing a new book, in commercial terms, isn’t worth the expense? Pricing a best-selling book in the single digits devalues the work the author, editor, designer, and publisher put into that book. Such pricing will inevitably push all retail prices—and thus, publishers’ revenue—down. Facing reduced revenues, many small presses, those who often serve as the discoverers of new and exciting authors, will not be able to survive. Larger publishing houses will be much less willing to take risks on authors without a proven track record on the best-seller lists (including the authors who might write tomorrow’s best sellers).

New and emerging authors—even established authors with solid but not spectacular sales histories—will find fewer and fewer venues available for their work. Those venues they do find will be less able to find and build an audience for the work of these writers.

The retailers engaging in this devaluing are using books as nothing more than loss leaders: incentives for consumers to enter their stores or Web sites, where they will be encouraged to purchase more expensive items. They are discounting not only the economic value of books, but also the intrinsic intellectual and emotional value of what books provide. They are treating books merely as the prize in the Happy Meal box.

With the holiday gift-giving season approaching, we urge everyone to be aware of the disregard in which some retailers hold the printed word, and to consider this and the possible consequences when you do your shopping.

Sincerely,

Ed Southern 
Executive Director  
North Carolina Writers' Network

Nicki Leone
President
NCWN Board of Trustees

Doris Betts Fiction Prize

Postmark Deadline: February 1 (annual)


The North Carolina Literary Review Fiction Editor Liza Wieland is now accepting submissions for the 2010 Doris Betts Fiction Prize competition, sponsored by the North Carolina Writers Network and the North Carolina Literary Review. Deadline February 1. First prize is $250. The winning story and select finalists will be published in NCLR

Please note: NCLR’s website has recently been updated, so the link to the “submit it online” section that was previously posted on the North Carolina Writers Network website and sent out with early notices has changed. The new link is:

http://www.nclr.ecu.edu/submissions/submit-online.html

Or, you can just go to NCLR’s home page, www.nclr.ecu.edu, and click on submissions, then the submit tab.

If you have difficulty navigating our new electronic submission process, be assured, we will respond to your emailed questions, and if you mail your submission fee check in, postmarked by Feb. 1, your story will be considered in the competition.

 

Eligibility & 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. North Carolina Literary Review subscribers with North Carolina connections (lives or has lived in NC) are also eligible.
  • The competition is for short stories up to 6,000 words. One entry per writer. No novel excerpts.
  • Submit stories electronically via the NCLR’s online submission process. For electronic submission instructions and to start the online submission process, go to: http://www.nclr.ecu.edu/submissions/submit-online.html.
  • Names should not appear in the Word file of the story; authors will register with the NCLR’s online submission system, which will collect contact information and connect it to story submission.
  • An entry fee must be mailed to the NCLR office (address below) by the postmark deadline (Feb. 1 each year, or Jan. 31 if Feb. 1 falls on a Sunday).
  • You may pay the Network member/NCLR subscriber entry fee if you join NCWN or subscribe to the NCLR with your submission:

$10/NCWN members and/or NCLR subscribers
$20/nonmembers (must be a North Carolina resident)

  • Checks for submission fee and/or Network membership should be made PAYABLE TO the North Carolina Writers’ Network (separate checks payable to NCLR only if purchasing a subscription).
  • Mail checks or money orders to:

North Carolina Literary Review
ECU Mailstop 555 English
Greenville, NC 27858-4353

Direct competition questions to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Direct electronic submission process questions to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
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