The sun shone, the flowers bloomed, and writers from across North Carolina – and the North Country (seriously: one guy came all the way from here) – met in Greensboro last Saturday for the Network’s 2008 Spring Conference.
Those writers enjoyed their choice of eight workshops on the craft and business of writing, as well as a panel of editors and publishers, a chance to meet exhibiting journals and presses, the inaugural “Lunch with an Author,” a keynote reading of poetry by prize-winning poet Linda Gregg, and faculty readings by Lee Zacharias, Valerie Nieman, and Anjail Rashida Ahmad.
“I was pleased with my first conference as director of the Network,” Ed Southern said. “No natural disasters, nothing caught fire, and the publishers’ panel didn’t end in a brawl. What more could you ask for?”
“Lunch with an Author” allowed attendees to sign up Saturday morning to take one of the faculty members to lunch in groups of no more than 10, so that they could discuss issues that writers face and get to know one another in a relaxed, informal setting. “There’s a reason we’re called the ‘North Carolina Writers’ Network,’” Southern said. “The best thing we can do for writers is bring them together with other writers, at all levels of experience, from all across the state, nation, and planet. We’re always looking for new and better ways to accomplish that.”
“The spring conference is a wonderful opportunity to meet other writers and just talk about writing - what we love about it, what we hate about it, and why we do it,” Marilyn Wolf of Greensboro said. “I left feeling energized to tackle my own writing with new tools from the workshops and greater confidence from all the support.”
Dianne Farris of Fayetteville said, “I learned more than I thought was possible in one afternoon. Travis Mulhauser’s presentation of plot & character (in fiction) was good. In particular, I liked the literature selections he used to demonstrate the different aspects of development. He picked authors with strong, unique voices. From Lewis Nordan to Raymond Carver, there was bound to be something that stood out for everyone. Mark Smith-Soto’s (poetry) workshop was outstanding as well. I hate to admit it but, I’m not a huge poetry fan. I was attracted to Mark’s workshop for two reasons. First, as a member of a critiquing group that does poetry, it’s helpful to have some understanding of how poetry works. Second, I need to learn how to insert effective images into my short stories. I left Mark’s presentation with a little of both. I also gained an appreciation for poetry in general, something I thought was impossible. In all, my experience at the conference was very positive and I feel lucky to have been able to go.”
Jan Parker of Fuquay-Varina said, “Once again, our wonderful Writers’ Network provided an impressive array of interesting and high-level classes for almost every different writing discipline. Coupled with the opportunity to meet and learn from published authors, well-known professors, editors of important review magazines and book publishers based here in NC, we were able to network with other writers from across the state. Plain and simple, it was the best Spring Conference I've ever attended. Like my country cousins say, it were good!”
Paul Austin of Durham, fresh from having his book Something for the Pain accepted for publication in September 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company, said, “I attended a lecture at the NCWN Spring Conference titled 'The Writer/Author Divide: The Basics of Marketing Your Book and Yourself.' The lecture provided a solid framework for thinking about book publicity, along with specific tips on how to promote your book. At each stage of my writing career, the NCWN has provided just what I've needed to know."