White Cross School Blog


NC Literary Hall of Fame




WINSTON-SALEM—Charlotte writer Barbara Johnson-Davis, whose “May Day Miracle” received Honorable Mention last year, has won this year’s Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize for her new story, “The Last Straw.”

Johnson-Davis will receive $1,000, and The Carolina Quarterly will consider “The Last Straw” for publication.

Final judge Bridgette A. Lacy selected “The Last Straw” from nine other finalists for the prize.

“‘The Last Straw’ is a moving story about a young girl choosing a formal education over the family business of farming,” Lacy said. “The stakes are high, taking her final senior exams or planting tobacco. This story feels so authentic and rooted in rural North Carolina, where low-wealth families are often forced to make that choice. The heartfelt dialogue between the father and daughter really resonated with me.”

Johnson-Davis was born to a sharecropping family in Leasburg, and graduated from Bennett College. Her work has been performed at the Matthews Playhouse, Queens University of Charlotte, and the Warehouse Performing Arts Center in Cornelius. She is a member of both the Charlotte Writers’ Club and NCWN.

Lacy also selected “Redemption Song,” by Greensboro’s Carolyn Tucker, for Honorable Mention.

“This story reflects North Carolina’s stormy landscape on two levels: damaging hurricanes and the mass incarceration of black men. Both issues have the capacity to devastate the lives of people of eastern North Carolina and beyond,” Lacy said. “This author captures a moment of grace as a family tries to save each other. The wife heads to church to wait out a storm, while her incarcerated husband and son persuade the prison warden to release them so they can defend and protect the local community.”

Tucker studied Computer Science and worked for more than thirty years in information technology. A 2013 layoff freed her to follow her passion for the written word. Her short story “Three Women Who Love” has been published in the anthology When She Loves.

The Jacobs/Jones contest, sponsored by the NCWN and administered by The Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill, is open to any African-American writer whose primary residence is in North Carolina. Entries may be fiction or creative nonfiction, but must not have been published before (including on any website, blog, or social media), and must be no more than 3,000 words.

“This award was initiated by Cedric Brown, a Winston-Salem native and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to honor the best in short prose by African-American writers in North Carolina.

The literary award was borne out of my frustration with being unable to readily find much fiction or creative nonfiction that conveys the rich and varied existence of Black North Carolinians,” Brown said. “I wanted to incentivize the development of written works while also encouraging Black writers to capture our lives through storytelling.”

The full competition guidelines can be found here.

Bridgette A. Lacy is an award-winning journalist and author. She served as a longtime features writer for The News & Observer in Raleigh. She’s the author of Sunday Dinner, part of the Savor the South series by UNC Press and a finalist for the Pat Conroy Cookbook Prize. Lacy is also a contributor to The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food (Eno Publishers, 2016) and 27 Views of Raleigh: The City of Oaks in Prose & Poetry (Eno Publishers, 2013). Her work has appeared in Our State magazine, Salt, and O.Henry.

A member of the Carolina African-American Writers’ Collective, Lacy will be part of the keynote celebration at this year’s Spring Conference, and will teach a class on creative nonfiction.

The Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize honors the nineteenth-century writers Harriet Jacobs and Thomas H. Jones. Jacobs was born in 1813 near Edenton, escaping to Philadelphia in 1842, after hiding for seven years in a crawl space above her grandmother’s ceiling. She published her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, under a pseudonym in 1861. Jacobs died in 1897 and was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1997.

Jones was born into slavery near Wilmington in 1806. Able to purchase the freedom of his wife and all but one of his children, he followed them north in 1849 by stowing away on a brig to New York. In the northeast and in Canada, he spoke as a preacher and abolitionist, writing his memoir, The Experience of Thomas Jones, in 1854, as a way to raise funds to buy his eldest child’s freedom.

The non-profit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.


CHAPEL HILL—You've written a book, or plan to one day. Whether you'll be published by a Big 5 house, an indie press, or you go the self-publishing route, you, as the author, are going to play a major role in how your book gets into people's hands.

At that moment of publication, your book is no longer your "baby" but precious merchandise that readers are going to want to read—but only if they know about it. Even if your book isn't finished yet, why not begin preparing now for success? 

On Thursday, March 19, at 7:00 pm, author and editor Lauren Faulkenberry of Blue Crow Publishing will lead the online class "Marketing for Authors: 5 Things You Need to Do Right Now to Grow Your Audience."

Registration is open.

This course is capped at forty (40) registrants, first-come, first-served. There is a $45 fee to register.

Marketing is critical for all authors: especially if you’re an indie author or one who self-publishes. This course will teach you five things you can do right now to build your audience and connect with readers in a way that makes them superfans. We’ll focus on ways you can collaborate with other authors and provide engaging content to your readers in a way that's easy for you—and even fun! We’ll cover some basics like creating an engaging author newsletter and using social media effectively, and move on to advanced strategies for building a tribe of authors who support each other in ways that promote growth for everyone.

Lauren Faulkenberry is the co-publisher of Blue Crow Publishing. An award-winning writer, she earned her MFA in book arts from The University of Alabama and her MFA in fiction writing from Georgia College & State University. She is the author of four novels, one children’s picture book, many short stories and more. She teaches book arts workshops all over the country at residencies and retreats such as the Penland School of Crafts and Wildacres.

Blue Crow Publishing, LLC, is a small, traditional publisher of fiction and nonfiction founded in 2016. They publish fiction and nonfiction of a variety of genres under our Blue Crow Books imprint:

  • Adult Fiction, including general fiction, women’s fiction, romance, and speculative fiction.
  • Young Adult Fiction of all genres.
  • Nonfiction, including memoir, essays, and social commentary. In our Critical Higher Education series, we publish narrative nonfiction and essay collections.

They publish 4-6 titles a year. They are a socially conscious press that prioritizes unique voices and traditionally marginalized authors.

"Marketing for Authors: 5 Things You Need to Do Right Now to Grow Your Audience" is the North Carolina Writers' Network's final offering in their 2019-2020 series of online classes.

"This program is a great way for writers from all over North Carolina to connect without having the hassle of driving somewhere and finding parking," said NCWN communications director Charles Fiore. "Online classes offer top-shelf instruction for a fraction of the cost, and the software itself is very intuitive and easy to use."

The online class "Marketing for Authors: 5 Things You Need to Do Right Now to Grow Your Audience" is available to anyone with an internet connection, or who even owns just a telephone. Instructions for accessing the online class on Thursday, March 19, will be sent to registrants no less than twenty-four hours prior to the start of class. The class will be archived and made available to registrants for repeated viewings.

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.


GREENSBORO—Fellowship. Learning. Support.

These principles are at the heart of the Carolina African American Writers' Collective, and they happen to be central tenets of the North Carolina Writers’ Network as well.

NCWN, which turns thirty-five this year, will host its 2020 Spring Conference on Saturday, April 18, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Registration is open.

The Keynote Celebration will feature four CAAWC writers—founder Lenard D. Moore; Dr. L. Teresa Church; Bridgette A. Lacy; and Crystal Simone Smith—as they chronicle the history of the organization and read passages from All the Songs We Sing: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Carolina African American Writers Collective (Blair, 2020).

Founded in 1985, the North Carolina Writers’ Network will celebrate its 35th anniversary throughout the year.

The Poetry Master Class, “Now Look at What You Have Done,” will be led by Stuart Dischell, author of Good Hope Road (Viking), a National Poetry Series Selection, and four other poetry collections. He is a professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at UNC-Greensboro.

Other poetic options include “More than Meaning” with Timothy O’Keefe, whose collection You Are the Phenomenology won the 2017 Jupiter Prize for Poetry, and “Crowded House: Imagery in Poetry” with Jennie Malboeuf, author of the forthcoming collection God had a body.

Xhenet Aliu will lead the Master Class in Fiction, “Messing Up Good.” Aliu’s novel Brass won the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year First Novel Prize; was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection; and was named a best book of the year by several national media outlets.

For fiction writers wanting more variety, Quinn Dalton will lead “Make a Scene.” Dalton is the author of four books, including Midnight Bowling and Bulletproof Girl.

Randal O’Wain will lead the Creative Nonfiction Master Class, “Our Memories and Our Words: The Art of Writing Memoir.” O’Wain, a National Endowment of the Arts Fellow at Alderson Federal Correction Institute in West Virginia, is the author of Meander Belt: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working Class South (Nebraska, 2019).

Writers who prefer truth to fiction also may choose “Narrative Medicine” with Aimee Mepham, co-chair of the Story, Health, & Healing initiative at Wake Forest University; and “Writing Your Life: Turning Personal Stories into Universal Narratives” with Bridgette A. Lacy, a longtime features writer for The News & Observer in Raleigh and author of Sunday Dinner (UNC Press), a finalist for the Pat Conroy Cookbook Prize.

No conference would be complete without options for those ready to take their book to market, including “Public Speaking for Writers” with Cameron Kent and “From Manuscript to Finished Book” with Blair editors Robin Miura and Lynn York.

Kent is a member of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and won an Emmy for his reporting on the Pentagon after 9/11. Blair is a Durham-based press that publishes diverse fiction, poetry, and nonfiction about the American South and beyond.

There’s even a class for those who write across genres: learn the value of foresight with “Planning Your Creativity: Hybrid Outlines for 21st Century Writing” with the NCWN Regional Rep for Durham County and speculative fiction author Jorge Cortese.

In addition, guaranteed to help attendees build the intestinal fortitude necessary to weather the furious storms of publishing, NCWN will host its sixth “Slush Pile Live!”

During this favorite program, poetry and prose will be read aloud in two rooms in front of panels of editors and publishers, who will raise their hands as soon as they hear something in the pieces that would make them stop reading if they came across the submission in a slush pile. Many attendees have commented how much they learn in this hour of rapid-fire tidbits of wisdom and common sense.

Familiar features remain, including faculty readings, an open mic for conference participants, an exhibit hall packed with publishers and literary organizations, and “Lunch with an Author,” where conferencegoers can spend less time waiting in line and more time talking with the author of their choice. Spaces in “Lunch with an Author” are limited and are first-come, first-served. Preregistration and an additional fee are also required for this offering.

Spring Conference is sponsored in part by UNCG’s Creative Writing Program, which will provide coffee for conference-goers during registration and check-in. Other sponsors include the North Carolina Arts Council.

Learn more and register at www.ncwriters.org.


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