NC Literary Hall of Fame




WINSTON-SALEM—The Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize, which honors the best in short prose by African-American writers in North Carolina, is now closed.

The contest, sponsored by 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.

The deadline has been extended to January 6, 2021.  The winner will receive $1,000 and possible publication of their winning entry in The Carolina Quarterly.

The final judge of the 2021 Jacobs/Jones contest will be W. Ralph Eubanks.

W. Ralph Eubanks is the author of Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past, The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South, and A Place Like Mississippi, which will be released in 2021. His writing and essays on the American South have appeared in The New Yorker, WIRED, Vanity Fair, and the Oxford American. A 2007 Guggenheim Fellow, he is currently a visiting professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. He divides his time between Oxford, Mississippi, and Washington, DC.

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.

This Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize was initiated by Cedric Brown, a Winston-Salem native and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Though Brown has lived in California the last three decades, he has “deep roots, an abiding love, and a little house in the Tar Heel State,” he said.

“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 winner of the 2020 Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize was Barbara Johnson-Davis of Charlotte, for her short story, "The Last Straw."

The full competition guidelines are listed below and can be found at



Postmark Deadline: January 2 (annual)
Submissions Accepted: November 1 – January 2

The Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize honors Harriet Jacobs and Thomas Jones, two pioneering African-American writers from North Carolina, and seeks to convey the rich and varied existence of Black North Carolinians. The contest is administered by the Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill. The winner receives $1,000 and possible publication of the winning entry in The Carolina Quarterly.

Eligibility and Guidelines

  • The competition is open to any African-American writer whose primary residence is in North Carolina.
  • Entries may be fiction or creative nonfiction, but must be unpublished, no more than 3,000 words, and concerned with the lives and experiences of North Carolina African-Americans. Entries may be excerpts from longer works, but must be self-contained. Entries will be judged on literary merit.
  • An entry fee must accompany each submission: $10 for NCWN members, $20 for nonmembers. You may submit multiple entries, but the correct fee must accompany each one.
  • You may pay the members’ entry fee if you join the NCWN when you submit.
  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.
  • If submitting by mail, submit two copies of an unpublished manuscript, not to exceed 3,000 words, on single-sided pages, double-spaced, in black 12-point Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins.
  • The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript. Instead, include a separate cover sheet with name, address, phone number, e-mail address, word count, and manuscript title.
  • To submit by USPS:

Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize
UNC Creative Writing Program
Attn: Anita Braxton
Greenlaw Hall, CB#3520
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3520

  • To submit online, go to Submittable will collect your entry fee via credit card ($10 NCWN members / $20 nonmembers). (If submitting online, do not include a cover sheet with your document; Submittable will collect and record your name and contact information.)
  • Entries will not be returned.
  • The winner will be announced in February.

For questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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


On Tuesday, November 10, the first night of The Writingest State Online Conference, author Tracy Crow will lead The Pre-Conference Tailgate, "Awaken Your Sixth Sense."

The Pre-Conference Tailgate is a fun way for attendees to kick-start five days of online literary programming. Attendees will be asked to keep a writing journal in the days leading up to the event, which means your Writingest State Online Conference might start next week! 

Registration for the WSOC is closed.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder once joked that the strangest question he’d been asked about the writing process is, "When do you put in the metaphors?" All joking aside, writing with metaphor actually requires an activation of a sixth sense—an ability, willingness, and fresh approach toward making connections that will layer meaning and resonance to our stories and poems. To activate and hone this sixth sense, we can turn to the natural world.

For several days leading up to this workshop, writers are encouraged to create an awareness log, a recording of their encounters with the natural world—both in waking and in dream states: the deer leaping across your walking path; the startling morning discovery of a snake skin by the back door of your home; a bluebird feather on your sidewalk; a groundhog appearing in a dream. We’ll share our discoveries, and through writing prompts, further awaken our shamanic sixth sense. (Please know that sharing anything written during this workshop is voluntary!)

Tracy Crow is president of Tracy Crow Literary Agency, LLC, and president and CEO of MilSpeak Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization dedicated toward supporting the creative endeavors of military service members, veterans, and their families. She is the author or editor of six books including her award-winning memoir, Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine, and the breakthrough writing text, On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story, in which Tracy combines her skills and experience as a former Marine Corps officer, award-winning military journalist, author, editor, and assistant professor of creative writing and journalism. Her short stories and essays have also appeared in a number of literary journals and anthologies. Tracy has a B.A. in creative writing from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. She and her husband, Mark Weidemaier, bench coach for the South Korean baseball team, the Kia Tigers, live on ten storybook acres in central North Carolina with their four dogs — Cash, Hadley, Hope, and Fenway.

The Writingest State Online Conference is a five-day festival for writers featuring classes and conversations on the craft and business of writing, as well as a keynote address by North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, a NaNoWriMo Gathering and a Prompt Party to get creative juices flowing, online Open Mic readings and Happy Hour virtual gatherings, and an Agents & Editors panel discussion.

Registration for the Writingest State Online Conference closed November 9.


WINSTON-SALEM, NC—According to the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, nothing in life is permanent, nor can it be, because the very nature of existence is change. Or, as Bob Dylan sang, "He not busy being born is busy dying."

Life is full of changes, and the same should be true in our fiction. Change sparks action which sparks conflict which sparks reader interest. Easy, right?

On Wednesday, December 9, at 7:00 pm EST, author Jacinda Townsend will lead the online class "Finding Your Voice" (fiction).

Registration is closed.

The cost for the class is $35 for NCWN members, $45 for non-members. Space is limited.

D.H. Lawrence once wrote, "Tragedy is like strong acid—it dissolves away all but the very gold of truth." Having traveled through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all had the kind of intense collective experience that has changed our sense of time, our sense of the past, our sense of the future, our sense of ourselves. Accordingly, in this class, we will focus on the theme of "alteration," marrying theme to narrative as we explore, in our work, the ways in which characters reshape their senses of selves and their senses of other characters. We will talk a bit about Kevin Brockmeier's novel The Brief History of the Dead and Chris Cleave's novel Little Bee; though you need not have read the novels beforehand, you may find it helpful to have done so. We will do a bit of writing in our time together: you need not write work about the pandemic itself, though you are welcome to digest and/or heal this experience through your fiction. We will also focus a bit on creative process, with an opening discussion on the practices that most help us cook.

Jacinda Townsend is the author of Saint Monkey (Norton, 2014), which is set in 1950s Eastern Kentucky and won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for historical fiction. Saint Monkey was also the 2015 Honor Book of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

"Finding Your Voice" is part of the North Carolina Writers' Network's 2020-2021 series of online classes.

"The Network has offered online programming since 2016," said NCWN communications director Charles Fiore. "We're proud to already have the educational framework in place that allows us to continue to serve the writers of North Carolina, and beyond, during this time of social distancing."

The online class "Finding Your Voice" is available to anyone with an internet connection, or who even owns just a telephone. Instructions for accessing the online class on Wednesday, December 9, 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


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