WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH—Michele T. Berger's new novella, "Reenu-You," imagines what at first appears to be a skin-rash outbreak in black and latino communities in New York City, spread through a new "all-natural" hair relaxer.
Michele will lead the class "Charting Your Path to Publication: Tips, Techniques, and Lessons for Writers" at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2017 Fall Conference, November 3-5, at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach.
Registration is now open.
Michele T. Berger is a professor, writer, creativity expert, and pug-lover. Her main love is writing speculative fiction, though she also is known to write poetry and creative nonfiction, too. Her fiction has appeared in UnCommon Origins: A Collection of Gods, Monsters, Nature and Science by Fighting Monkey Press; You Don’t Say: Stories in the Second Person by Ink Monkey Press; Flying South: A Literary Journal; 100wordstory; Thing Magazine; and The Red Clay Review. Her nonfiction writing and poetry have appeared in The Chapel Hill News, Glint Literary Journal, Oracle: Fine Arts Review, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, The Feminist Wire, Ms. Magazine, Carolina Woman Magazine, Western North Carolina Woman, A Letter to My Mom (Crown Press), Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler (Twelfth Planet Press) and various zines. Her sci-fi novella “Reenu-You” was recently published by Book Smugglers Press.
NCWN has been celebrating literary journals this year, so we asked Michele to tell us about her first publication.
"My first acceptance from a literary journal came a few years ago, and its creation speaks to how different mediums spark creativity and the importance of being embedded in an artistic community.
"I live in Pittsboro, and Mariah Wheeler owns a gallery there called The Joyful Jewel that displays 170 North Carolina artists, all from Chatham and the surrounding counties. Every year she hosts an event called ‘Visions and Voices.' In preparation for it, she invites writers to visit the gallery and write about a piece of art that inspires them. At the 'Visions and Voices' event, writers read what they wrote and the corresponding artist is invited to display their object and say a few words about the art-making process. This event has become one of the most well-attended and popular ones in the community. In December, 2010, I read my essay, 'The Poison Our Grandmothers and Mothers Drank' at the event.
"My piece was inspired by Sharon Blessum’s photograph 'Medicine Women'. In the photograph there are four small iridescent torsos of mannequins with names like ‘Copper Shaman,' ‘Shaman of the Heart Chakra,' ‘Shaman of the 7th Chakra,' and ‘Water Shaman.' Some of the torsos have feathers sprouting from the backs of their necks and others showcase big chunky necklaces. I used that picture to ruminate on a dream about my grandmother and the wisdom communicated in it. It had taken me more than a decade to decode the layers of the dream, pouring over many dream journals and notebooks. Seeing Blessum’s image helped me put all the components together, so much so the essay flowed easily. It wasn’t like anything else I had written.
"After I read it, I worked on it some more. I so wanted to find it a good home. It is one of the few pieces I’ve written that found a home within five rounds of submissions. Sometimes we just get lucky and the right editor connects with our work. I was thrilled when the journal Trivia: Voices of Feminism accepted the piece with minimal edits. Another wonderful thing was that they agreed to include Sharon Blessum’s image with the story. With both the story and image accepted for publication, it felt like not just my accomplishment, but one shared with a community of creatives."
In "Charting Your Path to Publication," Michele will challenge attendees with a question. "You’ve written your best work and honed it to perfection. Now what?" Getting published is challenging. This workshop will teach you strategies to beat the odds of rejection. “Charting Your Path” is designed for writers at all levels. Registrants will focus most of our time on how and where to submit short fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. They'll examine a variety of venues including literary journals, magazines, newspapers, anthologies as well as how to submit to agents and publishing houses. Attendees will also discuss the role of author mindset as vital to publishing success. There is no one path to publication, but we can follow and replicate the strategies of accomplished writers. Each participant will leave with an action plan with concrete steps toward publication (or, if already published with a plan about how to become more widely so).
Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities that include lunch and dinner banquets with readings, keynotes, tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and the opportunity for one-on-one manuscript critiques with editors or agents. This year's Master Classes will be led by Dan Albergotti (Poetry); Wendy Brenner (Creative Nonfiction); and Nina de Gramont (Fiction). New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash will give the Keynote Address.
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers, in all genres, at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.