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NC Literary Hall of Fame



GREENSBORO—The fiction offerings at the upcoming North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Spring Conference, Saturday, April 23, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will encourage attendees to build a firm foundation before choosing to zig when others zag by finding inspiration in the everyday and establishing a firm sense of place.

Spring Conference registration is now open.

Quinn Dalton will lead the Master Class in Fiction, "Make a Scene: Learn How to Use the Emotional Building Blocks of Fiction."

What is a scene? What should scenes do—and not do? How do you get into and out of them? How do you assess whether a scene is doing the work you want it to do for the story? Through exercises, prompts and discussion, you’ll learn to create scenes that propel your stories and keep your readers engaged until the final line. Then we’ll apply this perspective to your own in-progress work.

Master Classes require a separate application; each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.

Quinn Dalton is the author of a novel, High Strung, and two story collections, Bulletproof Girl and Stories from the Afterlife. Stories, essays, and articles on publishing and the writing craft have appeared in literary and commercial publications such as Glimmer Train, One Story, Poets & Writers, Mediabistro.com, and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best. Midnight Bowling, a novel, is forthcoming from Carolina Wren Press in March. The Infinity of You & Me, a novel co-written with the novelist and poet Julianna Baggott under the pen name J.Q. Coyle, is forthcoming from Harper Collins in the fall of 2016.

Other fiction sessions include "Not Set in Stone: The Importance of Place in Fiction" with Travis Mulhauser. This will be a focused discussion on the craft of setting your fiction—particularly, the importance of place. A critical, often overlooked element of our stories, setting too often stands flat—like bad background props in a low budget play. Setting can be the soil your story grows from, but it can also move fluidly through the narrative and impact our stories on every level—ultimately creating a multi-dimensional, immersive experience for the reader. And perhaps most importantly, a fully rendered place can often be the key to the universal in our fiction.

This workshop will look at contemporary master works, incorporate student questions and input, and talk about specific strategies for creating vibrant, realized “places.”

Travis Mulhauser is from Petoskey, Michigan. He is the author of two works of fiction, most recently the novel Sweetgirl from Ecco/Harper Collins. He lives in Durham with his wife and two children.

In the afternoon, Greg Shemkovitz will teach registrants how to "Make Something of Nothing." This workshop will look at how writers can enhance a narrative by bringing gravity to the ordinary. By letting the concrete bear the weight of the abstract—whether through symbolism, metaphor, simile, or even through gesture—a simple narrative moment can take on a whole new layer of tension. We will look at how to identify existing unutilized objects in a scene and how to complicate a moment by giving attention to an otherwise overlooked element, always in the hopes of bringing depth to the narrative and enhancing the emotions we feel for these characters. Workshop attendees will participate in short writing activities and should be prepared with a pen or pencil.

Greg Shemkovitz lives in North Carolina and teaches writing and literature at Elon University. He holds an MFA from UNC-Greensboro. His fiction has appeared in Foundling Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Prick of the Spindle, and elsewhere. His debut novel, Lot Boy (Sunnyoutside Press 2015) was a finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award: www.gregshemkovitz.wordpress.com.

Anyone interested in writing for tweens won't want to miss Bonnie J. Doerr's "Tween Fiction: Writing Against the Current." Thinking of writing for young readers who are not quite ready for edgy books? Want to try something other than the current trends of dark fantasy, science fiction, post apocalyptic, dystopian, and the like? To get books into the hands of 10–14 year-old (tween) readers it helps to hook the gatekeepers. Rather than discussing techniques of the craft itself, this session will inspire ways to do just that with realistic fiction. How can you draw librarians, teachers, and parents to your work? Offer them practical applications of your fiction’s components. This workshop will present specific examples of such applications. Examples include activities to enhance a variety of subjects in any school’s curricula; to enliven a reading/signing event; as well as those that entertain, inform, engage, and encourage audience interaction during school visits and presentations. Though these examples concentrate on realistic fiction, the concepts can be applied to all genres. Time will be devoted to discussion and sharing ideas.

Bonnie J. Doerr, an educator, gardener, and wildlife enthusiast, is the author of eco-mystery novels for tweens. Her work, which features endangered or threatened wildlife and the real-life heroes who rescue, rehab, and release them, has been described as a “mashup of Jean Craighead George and Carl Hiaasen” by some and as a “teen detective series inspired by Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Lassie” by others. Island Sting (Leap Books 2010) won the 2011 EPIC Children’s eBook award, and Stake Out (Leap Books 2011) was a 2012 Green Earth YA Book Award finalist. Third in the series, Tangled Lines, is scheduled for release summer of 2016. Visit the author at http://bonniedoerrbooks.com.

Along with workshops and sessions hosted by top-notch faculty, Spring Conference will again offer additional beloved programming, including faculty readings, an open mic for conference participants, Lunch with an Author (pre-registration required), and the second annual installment of the popular Slush Pile Live!

The NCWN 2016 Spring Conference is sponsored in part by the Greensboro News & Record; WFDD 88.5 FM: Public Radio for the Piedmont; and UNCG’s Creative Writing Program, which will provide free parking for Spring Conference registrants in the Oakland Avenue Parking Deck, across Forest Street from the MHRA Building (behind Yum Yum Better Ice Cream and Old Town Draught House). For directions, click here.

Pre-registration is open through Sunday, April 17, at www.ncwriters.org.


ASHEVILLE—Tommy Hays has joined the North Carolina Writers' Network Board of Trustees, effective immediately.

Tommy’s first middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You, was chosen as a Fall 2013 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and was selected for the 2014 SIBA Book Award Long List as well as the American Booksellers 2014 ABC Best Books for Children Catalog. His novel The Pleasure Was Mine was a Finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award in 2006, and has been chosen for numerous community reads, including the "One City, One Book" program in Greensboro and the "Amazing Read" in Greenville, SC. The novel was read on National Public Radio’s Radio Reader and South Carolina ETVRadio’s Southern Read. His other adult novels are Sam’s Crossing, which has been recently re-released, and In the Family Way, winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.

He is Executive Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and Lecturer in the Master of Liberal Arts program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Murray State University. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, he received his BA in English from Furman University and graduated from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He lives in Asheville with his wife, Connie, and their children, Max and Ruth.

The Great Smokies Writing Program at UNC-Asheville administers the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize. The program offers opportunities for writers of all levels to join a supportive learning community in which their skills and talents can be explored, practiced, and forged under the careful eye of professional writers. The program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes led by published writers and experienced teachers. Each course carries academic credit awarded through UNC-Asheville.

The North Carolina Writers' Network connects, promotes, and serves the writers of this state. It provides education in the craft and business of writing, opportunities for recognition and critique of literary work, resources for writers at all stages of development, support for and advocacy of the literary heritage of North Carolina, and a community for those who write. The North Carolina Writers’ Network believes that writing is necessary both for self-expression and a healthy community, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance, and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone.

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 www.ncwriters.org.

WINSTON-SALEM—Karen Smith Linehan of Carolina Beach has won the 2016 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition for her essay, "Magnolia grandiflora." Karen will receive $1,000, and her essay will be considered for publication in Ecotone.

"This meditative nature essay’s solid sense of voice, language, and dramatic arc made it a clear standout," said final judge Kate Sweeney. "There is a sense here that every phrase and every word is chosen with great intent, and taken together, the work conveys the magnitude of this tree in a voice that is, like the tree itself, both quiet and commanding. There are minute details here, such as the description of the twenty-four hour lifespan of stamens, which end life by 'transform[ing] into red-tipped wands that flutter to the ground.' These details are threaded to memories that span the life of the narrator, bringing the essay as a whole into a much richer, larger context. ('When we were children, my sister and I gathered the fragile stamens and placed them in the pink cup of our hands.') It’s a lyrical, solid read, a wonderful piece of writing, and it gives me pleasure to nominate it as first-place winner."

Karen Smith Linehan is a lifelong naturalist with a deep love for the flora and fauna of North Carolina. A Raleigh native, she lives in Carolina Beach where her heart still skips a beat when a pelican flies over her house. Karen teaches first and second grade at Friends School of Wilmington. She has a BA in Zoology from UNC-Chapel Hill and is currently pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction through Chatham University’s low residency program. Karen and her husband, Terry, have two grown daughters, Kelsey and Dylan.

Amy Rowland of Princeton, New Jersey, placed second with her essay, "Looking for Joan Little." She'll receive $300.

Final judge Kate Sweeney said, "This is an outstanding account of a community’s collective forgetting of an event that took place some four decades before. The essay examines how what we choose to remember shapes us as a people—and also the narrator’s coming-to-terms with the fact that this same community delivered her (or him; we’re never told). The title's meaning shifts as the piece progresses—from the suspect’s original flight from authorities, to her disappearance from the public eye today, to the absence her story—or lack of story—leaves in a people’s collective narrative. From start to finish, the voice in this essay is robust as it relates, in decisive tones, a narrative that matters to who we are as a people today, at least as much as it did in 1974."

Amy's first novel, The Transcriptionist, was published by Algonquin in 2014 and received the Addison M. Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is a North Carolina native and a 2016 NEA Literature Fellow. She currently lives in Princeton, where she'll be lecturing in the fall.

Raleigh's Agnes Stevens came in third for her essay "Shelter." Agnes will receive $200.

"This essay forms a brilliant tapestry," said Sweeney, "weaving stories of childhood threats of annihilation in the form of plane crashes, nuclear explosions, and other potential menaces from the outside world. She does such a deft job of painting this family portrait of dormant dangers, generational coincidences, and cold-war fears that we never see the real explosion coming. When it does, both its form (the break-up of her own nuclear family) and its perpetrator (the 'sheltering' father) both come as a surprise that the author lands ably. I loved reading this essay, and am happy to name it as a contest finalist."

Agnes Stevens is a native North Carolinian who now calls Raleigh home. She writes personal essays and has presented her stories live on stage as a member of the 2014 Listen to Your Mother Raleigh-Durham cast and as a storyteller at the Monti in 2015. Her stories explore the extraordinary in ordinary experiences and are all set in and around Raleigh and Eastern NC. Her work received honorable mentions in the 2015 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition and the 2015 Carolina Woman writing contest. When she is not writing and telling stories for fun, she makes a living as a public relations professional.

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 the NC Writers’ Network.

Final judge Kate Sweeney is the author of the popular nonfiction book American Afterlife (University of Georgia Press), which won the Georgia Author of the Year Away in the Essay category for 2014. A resident of Atlanta, Kate’s radio stories appear regularly on Atlanta’s NPR station, WABE 90.1 FM, and she has won five Edward R. Murrow awards as well as a number of Associated Press awards for her work. She earned her MFA at UNC-Wilmington and has taught there, as well as at Emory Continuing Education and Clayton State University.

Ecotone’s mission is to publish and promote the best place-based work being written today. Founded at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2005, the award-winning magazine features writing and art that reimagine place, and our authors interpret this charge expansively. An ecotone is a transition zone between two adjacent ecological communities, containing the characteristic species of each. It is therefore a place of danger or opportunity, a testing ground. The magazine explores the ecotones between landscapes, literary genres, scientific and artistic disciplines, modes of thought.

Rose Post worked for the Salisbury Post for fifty-six years as a reporter, feature writer, and columnist. She won numerous state and national awards for her writing and earned the NC Press Women's top annual award four times. She received the O. Henry Award from the Associated Press three times, the Pete Ivey Award, and the School Bell Award for educational coverage. Nationally, she won the 1989 Ernie Pyle Award, the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award for human-interest writing, and the 1994 National Society of Newspaper Columnists' Award.

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 www.ncwriters.org.


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