NC Literary Hall of Fame




GREENVILLE, NC—Molly Sentell Haile of Summerfield is the winner of the 2020 Doris Betts Fiction Prize for her story, "Little Things." Haile will receive a prize of $250 from the North Carolina Writers' Network, and her story will be published in the thirtieth annual print issue of the North Carolina Literary Review.

Haile is a graduate of Davidson College and the MFA Creative Writing Program at UNC-Greensboro. Her fiction has appeared in Jabberwock Review and Cream City Review and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her nonfiction has appeared in Oxford American and O. Henry Magazine and has received an honorable mention in The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She teaches creative writing classes for people with cancer, survivors, and caregivers at Hirsch Wellness Network in Greensboro.

The final judge this year was Josephine Humphreys, author of four novels, including Rich in Love, which was made into a movie starring Albert Finney, and Nowhere Else on Earth, inspired by the legend of Henry Berry Lowrie, North Carolina’s Civil War Robin Hood, and his wife, Rhoda Strong Lowrie.

Humphreys reported of her selection of “Little Things” for the prize: “I was smitten by this story. From the start, I knew I was in the hands of a writer who could make a trustable world within a limited number of pages while at the same time creating an atmosphere tinged with mystery. A story has to seem real (that’s the ‘trustable’ part) but it also has to seem—well—strangely crucial, important enough to get written and to get read. ‘Little Things’ achieves those goals in an interesting way: by building a fabric out of, yes, little things—accumulated details resulting in a texture strong enough to support the crucial human mystery at its core. This story is told aslant, via an inexperienced observer who watches with an eagle eye, learning the world—a child on the verge of her future. The telling proceeds like an incantation without much judgment or interpretation, until a final unexpected jolt that is itself not easy to interpret. Beautifully written throughout, with words that shine, sentences I will remember.”

A record breaking 187 stories were submitted to this year’s competition, breaking the previous record set in 2013. NCLR Editor Margaret Bauer says, “it remains to be seen whether the increase in submissions is a result of the new late summer-fall submission period or people having more time to write during the pandemic.”

Bauer reports that all of the seven finalists who made it to the last round of consideration are new to NCLR. From these finalists, Humphreys also noted two for honorable mention: “Next to Godliness” by Rose Himber Howse of Asheville and “Wherever You Go” by Nancy H. Williard of Hendersonville.

Humphreys said of “Next to Godliness,” “I particularly admire the ways in which these characters are made utterly convincing. Their dialogue is clever and realistic, as in ‘I told him I never smoked as far as Blue Cross knows…’ and the main character, Meredith, is both strong and vulnerable. There are no missteps in the writing.”

Humphreys called “Wherever You Go” “a powerful story about the need to escape—from grief, from memory, from love—and the gradual realization that escape may be impossible. Moving to a new place will not be the solution. The narrator is ultimately able to extract only minimal compensation, and yet at the same time it is compensation enough, no matter where his place on earth ends up being. A clear streak of honesty runs through this story.”

These stories will appear in NCLR Online 2021, and the authors will receive a $125 honoraria from a donation made to the North Carolina Writers’ Network for that purpose. The other finalists were “Hope Is a Thing That’s Molting” by Susan Emshwiller of Durham, “Tunnel” by Paul Kurzeja of Charlotte, “Communist” by Gary Powell of Cornelius, and “The Fish Pond” by Kathleen Tyler of Wilmington.

The annual Doris Betts Fiction Prize honors the late novelist and short story writer Doris Betts and is sponsored by the nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network, the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit

The North Carolina Literary Review has been managing the contest for the Network since 2006. The new submission period runs September 15 through October 31.


WINSTON-SALEM, NC—For authors, navigating the ins and outs of which university presses publish what kind of material, and the submission requirements for each, can feel overwhelming.

While the Network can't submit books for authors, we can provide an expert, veteran guide to talk about the many university presses he's worked for over the years and, in the process, offer our authors a leg-up on taking that next step toward publication.

On Tuesday, February 9, at 7:00 pm EST, publisher Dennis Lloyd will lead the online class "An Insider's Guide to University Press Publishing."

Registration is closed.

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

In this ninety-minute, open-format event, Dennis Lloyd will talk about university press publishing for writers of fiction, poetry, memoir, or regional-interest nonfiction. Following his short talk, Dennis will paricipate in a moderated Q&A driven mostly by questions from registrants. Come armed with questions: participation is strongly encouraged! 

Dennis Lloyd is Director of the University of Wisconsin Press. A native of North Carolina, he attended graduate school in Illinois before beginning his publishing career. For more than two decades, he worked worked mostly in sales and marketing at the university presses of Illinois, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Alabama, and Florida. He has been active in developing new digital initiatives, including an OER textbook program. He has spoken at the prestigious conference and has participated in a number of Association of University Presses panels over the years. He recently completed a term on the AUPresses Board of Directors and currently is a member of the Project MUSE Advisory Board. He still loses sleep over missed questions during his third-place finish on Jeopardy! Including incorrectly naming the “Biggest retailer: This company based in Washington State.”

"An Insider's Guide to University Press Publishing" 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 "An Insider's Guide to University Press Publishing" is available to anyone with an internet connection, or who even owns just a telephone. Instructions for accessing the online class on Tuesday, February 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


ASHEVILLE—The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize is now open for submissions. The deadline is January 30, 2021.

This prize awards $1,000 and possible publication in The Thomas Wolfe Review to a piece of short fiction under 3,000 words. Submit here.

Therese Anne Fowler will judge.

Therese Anne Fowler is the author of several New York Times bestselling novels. Her articles and essays have appeared in The Week, Harper’s Bazaar, the Telegraph, and more, and her books are sold in translation worldwide. A Good Neighborhood, her most recent work, debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and was the Barnes & Noble Book Club selection for March 2020. Her 2018 novel A Well-Behaved Woman was a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Her 2013 novel Z has been adapted as an original television series for Amazon Studios, starring Christina Ricci as Zelda Fitzgerald. Therese earned a BA in sociology/cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing, both from NC State University. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and PEN America, she lives in Raleigh with her husband, author John Kessel.

The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize is facilitated by the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. 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 Thomas Wolfe Review is the official journal of The Thomas Wolfe Society, publishing articles, features, tributes, and reviews about Wolfe and his circle. It also features bibliographical material, notes, news, and announcements of interest to Society members.

Recent contributors include Dr. James W. Clark, Jr.David Radavich, and the winners and some finalists of past Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize competitions.

North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), was born in Asheville. His Look Homeward, Angel is considered one of the most important coming-of-age novels in the English language. Wolfe was considered at the time of his death to be the greatest talent North Carolina had given to American literature. His novels and collected short stories go beyond autobiography, trying to, in William Faulkner’s words, “put all the experience of the human heart on the head of a pin.” His intense poetic language and thoughtfully developed symbology, combined with his uncanny ability to enter the minds of his other characters and give them powerful voices, elevate the books from memoir to undeniable literary art.

The winner of the 2020 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize was Rachel Taube of Wilmington, for her short story "The Gentle Clack of a Fox's Teeth."

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

Eligibility and Guidelines

  • The competition is open to all writers regardless of geographical location or prior publication.
  • Submit two copies (if submitting by mail) of an unpublished fiction manuscript - short story or self-contained novel excerpt - not to exceed 3,000 words, double-spaced, single-sided pages (1" margins, 12-pt. Times New Roman font).
  • Author's name should not appear on manuscripts. Instead, include a separate cover sheet with name, address, phone number, e-mail address, word count, and manuscript title. (If submitting online, do not include a cover sheet with your document; Submittable will collect and record your name and contact information.)
  • An entry fee must accompany the manuscript: $15 for NCWN members, $25 for nonmembers.
  • The entry fee is per submission. You may submit multiple entries.
  • You may pay the member entry fee if you join the NCWN with your submission. Checks should be made payable to the North Carolina Writers’ Network.
  • Entries will not be returned.
  • The winner is announced each April.
  • Simultaneous submissions ok, but please notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.
  • When you submit online at, Submittable will collect your entry fee via credit card ($15 NCWN members / $25 non-members). (If submitting online, do not include a cover sheet with your document; Submittable will collect and record your name and contact information. For more information about Submittable, click here.)
    • To submit as a Member of NCWN ($15), click here.
    • To submit as a Non-Member of NCWN ($25), click here.
  • To submit by regular mail:

Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize
Great Smokies Writing Program
UNC Asheville
1 University Heights - CPO 1915
Asheville, NC 28804

Questions? Please contact Tommy Hays, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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