NC Literary Hall of Fame




Community that's not Communicable

November 10-14, 2020

This November, the North Carolina Writers’ Network will offer its first-ever Writingest State Online Conference, a five-day festival for writers. The WSOC will feature 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 Pre-Conference Tailgate and a Prompt Party to get creative juices flowing, online Open Mic readings and Happy Hour virtual gatherings, and an Agents & Editors panel discussion.

Support for the NCWN Writingest State Online Conference is provided by the NC Arts Council.


Register Online**Registration is closed**


Fees and Deadlines

Register Online**Registration is closed**

Registration ends at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 9.


  • $275 Full Conference
    (5 90-minute classes + all other sessions, incl. Agents & Editors panel & Prompt Party)

    $245 for Seniors (65+), Full-Time Students, Writers 30 or Under, Writers with Disabilities
  • $155 Half Conference
    (any 3 classes + Agents & Editors panel)

    $135 for Seniors (65+), Full-Time Students, Writers 30 or Under, Writers w/ Disabilities
  • $50 Agents & Editors panel discussion ONLY
  • $35 Single Class


  • $400 Full Conference
    (5 90-minute classes + all other sessions, incl. Agents & Editors panel & Lunch “with” an Author)  
  • $75 Single Class


A limited amount of scholarship aid is available to deserving writers who otherwise could not take part in the NCWN 2020 Writingest State Online Conference. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please send a C.V. and a “Statement of Writing Intent” of no more than 1,000 words to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than Friday, October 16.

In addition to our general scholarship aid, Mary Belle Campbell Scholarships will be available to full-time K-12 teachers who write poetry. To apply, please send proof of employment with an accredited K-12 school, your current resume or CV, and a “Statement of Writing Intent” of no more than 1,000 words to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (with ‘Mary Belle Campbell’ in the subject line) no later than Friday, October 16.

For more information, please visit


Cancellations must be made in writing and arrive at the Network office (via USPS or e-mail) by 4:00 pm, Friday, November 6, for you to receive a refund, less 25 percent. Send request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. No refunds for cancellations received after November 6 or for no-shows.

For Writers with Special Needs

The North Carolina Writers' Network strives to make our programs and services accessible to all writers, including those with special needs. If you require closed captioning, please let us know no later than Friday, November 6.


  • Friday, October 16: Deadline to apply for WSOC scholarship aid
  • Friday, November 6: Deadline to cancel & receive refund, less 25%
    Deadline to request closed captioning, or other special needs
  • Monday, November 9, 9:00 am: Deadline to register for WSOC
  • Tuesday, November 10: WSOC begins
  • Friday, November 13: Deadline to submit questions for Agents & Editors panel
    (NCWN does not guarantee all submitted questions will be asked.)

Return to Top


Register Online**Registration is closed**

Tuesday, November 10
6:00-7:00 pm Online Happy Hour
(Open to all registrants)
Sponsored by Alice Osborn: Author/Editor/Book Coach
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm Pre-Conference Tailgate: “Awaken Our Sixth Sense” with Tracy Crow 
(Open to all registrants)
Wednesday, November 11
6:00-7:00 pm Opening Conversation: The Place & the Past with Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle and Therese Anne Fowler
Sponsored by University Press of Kentucky
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm Imagination and History (All Genres) with Matt Gallagher
Thursday, November 12
6:00-7:00 pm Carolina African-American Writers' Collective 25th Anniversary Celebration
(Open to all registrants)
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm NaNoWriMo Gathering
Sponsored by
Friday, November 13
6:00-7:00 pm Keynote Address by Jaki Shelton Green
(Open to all registrants)
7:30-9:00 pm


The Bird's Nest: Place & Environmental Ethos in Organic Form (poetry) with Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Fiction: From Concept to Publication with Mathieu Cailler

Saturday, November 14
9:00-10:30 am Agents & Editors Panel Discussion with Erin Hosier, Emmanuelle Morgen, and Betsy Thorpe
11:00 am - 12:30 pm


Wait, Wait… Do Tell Me! (fiction) with Art Taylor

Touring and Promoting Your Book on a Budget with Lyndsay Hall

12:45-2:15 pm Prompt Party
Sponsored by Plottr
2:30 - 4:00 pm


Magical Objects (fiction) with Leah Hampton

The Importance of Understanding the Book Publishing Business with Betsy Thorpe

4:15-5:30 pm Open Mic Readings
(Open to all registrants)
Sponsored by Katie Winkler and Teach.Write.
5:30-6:30 pm "One More On & In the House" Happy Hour
(Open to all registrants)


Return to Top

Full Schedule with Course Descriptions

Register Online**Registration is closed**


6:00–7:00 pm: Online Happy Hour
Let’s get our creative juices flowing with the “juice” of your choice, and a chance to chat with other writers.
Sponsored by Alice Osborn: Author/Editor/Book Coach

7:00–8:30 pm: Pre-Conference Tailgate: “Awaken Your Sixth Sense” with Tracy Crow
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!)



6:00–7:00 pm: Opening Conversation: The Place & the Past with Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle and Therese Anne Fowler
In almost all creative writing—whether poetry, drama, fiction, or creative nonfiction—the setting where the story happens and the history out of which the story begins are as important as the voice, the plot, and the characters. Two North Carolina novelists will open the Writingest State Online Conference officially with this conversation on the place, the past, and the stories we’re trying to tell.
Sponsored by University Press of Kentucky

7:30–9:00 pm: Imagination and History (All Genres) with Matt Gallagher
“The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.” Putting E.L. Doctorow's famous words to practice, this course will examine how creative work interacts with historical moments, large and small, and how that work can augment or even subvert the hard, factual record. Through a mixture of fiction and creative nonfiction, students will examine a variety of works set in the midst of change, progress and upheaval, with a mixture of works written in those moments and of works written long after. How does time and perspective influence this literature? What makes certain works stand that test of time, while others fail it? How do writers place the interiority of individual experience within societal and cultural history? This course will explore those questions and more, with a focus on storytelling.



6:00–7:00 pm: Carolina African-American Writers' Collective 25th Anniversary Celebration
In 1995, poet Lenard D. Moore and other North Carolina African-American writers began meeting in Moore’s home for fellowship, learning, and support, forming an enduring organization composed of many now-prominent writers in the state and throughout the country. Collectively, the CAAWC writers have published more than sixty books of prose and poetry, gained prominence as professors and authors, and received wide-ranging recognition. Earlier this year Blair published an anthology, All the Songs We Sing: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Carolina African American Writers Collective.

7:30–9:00 pm: NaNoWriMo Gathering
November is National Novel Writing Month, and so the Network is offering a little virtual space within our Writingest State Online Conference for those taking part in—or curious about—NaNoWriMo to check in with each other, discuss your novels-in-progress, and share advice an encouragement. Novel writing is not required, only a serious interest in the craft and discipline of fiction.
Sponsored by



6:00–7:00 pm: Keynote Address by Jaki Shelton Green

7:30-9:00 pm: CLASS SESSION I

The Bird's Nest: Place & Environmental Ethos in Organic Form (poetry) with Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
The class will motivate investigation and nuanced application through exploration of some amazing organic poetry structures while writing place & space during particulars in time.

Fiction: From Concept to Publication with Mathieu Cailler
All writers are familiar with that quick strike of an idea that arrives in strange ways—from quiet moments while driving or a late-night walk with the dog—but what then? How does one take an idea and flesh it out into a story? And after a story is written, revised, and ultimately completed… then what to do? How does one find a suitable market? How does one submit a story and get it published? Cailler will address the essential elements of fiction that make stories succeed: outlining, mapping, character, plot, change, and even point out the usual mistakes writers make that can cause a story to fall flat. What qualifies as a story? How does one create stories in which characters act and are not simply acted upon? How does a writer take what she or he has and make it better? In addition to this, he will show participants the best resources for finding suitable and reputable publishers… and ultimately getting their world out into the world. Writers will leave this workshop with a renewed sense of passion, purpose, and direction. This workshop is designed for writers of all levels and backgrounds.



9:00–10:30 am: Agents & Editors Panel Discussion with Erin Hosier, Emmanuelle Morgen, and Betsy Thorpe
You have questions about the book business? Don’t we all, these days! This will be your chance to ask those questions to industry professionals.
WSOC registrants will receive a link and instructions on submitting their Agents & Editors questions just prior to the conference.

11:00 am – 12:30 pm: CLASS SESSION II

Wait, Wait… Do Tell Me! (fiction & narrative nonfiction) with Art Taylor
Suspense writers have mastered a skill that all storytellers—genre and literary writers both—might profit from: keeping readers in anticipation of what’s going to happen next. Two competing narrative strategies work together here, both a swift movement forward and a steady forestalling of information about what’s ahead. This craft talk will look at tactics to implement this plan: hooking readers quickly and earning their investment in characters or situations; raising questions to pique their interest; parceling out enough information to keep them engaged but withholding enough to keep them turning those pages; and navigating either suspense or the path toward surprise—not the same journey. Passages from writers including Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, Margaret Millar, Cormac McCarthy, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, and others will illustrate various techniques for incorporating suspense into your own work.

Touring and Promoting Your Book on a Budget with Lyndsay Hall
In this class, we will talk about conventional and unconventional forms of book promotion and ways to spread the word about your book far and wide. For many indie-published and self-published works, the marketing budget is tight and authors are left to get creative with their promo. We'll talk about how to foster community and grow natural support for your work, ways tech can be advantageous to your promotion, and how to land readings and events at your favorite spots. Authors will leave this class with actionable steps to begin touring!

12:45–2:15 pm: PROMPT PARTY
Prompt Party is an opportunity for writers to gather and work together on a specific prompt, with time to share results at the end. The goal is to collaborate, perhaps work in an unfamiliar genre, and have fun. Prompt Party-goers will receive their prompt, divide into groups by genre—poetry, flash fiction (1,000 words or less), or one-act plays—and head off into Breakout Rooms to write a piece based on the prompt. Party-goers will have 30 minutes to collaborate and create a draft in their assigned genre. Then, everyone gathers again to read (or perform) their pieces, up to five minutes each.
Sponsored by Plottr

2:30-4:00 pm: CLASS SESSION III

Magical Objects (fiction) with Leah Hampton
So much depends upon what we carry, what we lose and find. This course focuses on the power of everyday, concrete objects and how they enrich plot and character. We will avoid interior monologues, figurative language, and other abstract craft elements and instead dig up bones, change clothes, and pull the literal plug. We will practice using tangible objects and hard details to convey tension, emotion, metaphor, and so forth. Writers of all genres and skill levels welcome. Bring a work in progress to enrich with random thingamabobs, or start a story from scratch with something you find in class.

The Importance of Understanding the Book Publishing Business with Betsy Thorpe
Whether you are just starting your manuscript or about ready to publish, it’s imperative to know how the publishing business works. Where will your book fit in that world? Should you go to literary agents and traditional publishers, smaller presses, hybrid presses, or self-publish? What are the ins-and-outs of each model? What are the requirements for each? A veteran of traditional, indie, and self-publishing will explore these and other questions about the book business.

4:15–5:30 pm: OPEN MIC READINGS
Sign up when you register for a chance to share your work with your fellow registrants.
Sponsored by Katie Winkler and Teach.Write.

5:30–6:30 pm: ‘One More on The House’ Happy Hour
Before we log off, let’s gather once more for conversation and community. BYOB.


Return to Top

Faculty Biographies

Register Online**Registration is closed**


Writingest State Online Conference Faculty

Mathieu Cailler’s
first book, a collection of short stories, Loss Angeles (Short Story America), was honored by the Hollywood, New York, London, Paris, Best Book, and International Book Awards. Since that time, he has published five more books: the poetry collection, May I Have This Dance? (About Editions), winner of the 2017 New England Book Festival Poetry Prize; the children's book, The (Underappreciated) Life of Humphrey Hawley (About Editions), a Caldecott Medal and Newbery Award nominee; the poetry collection, Catacombs of the Heart (Luchador Press); and Hi, I'm Night (Olympia), a children's picture book. His short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in over seventy publications, most notably in The Saturday Evening Post and The Los Angeles Times. He is the recipient of a Shakespeare Award and Short Story America Prize.

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle
, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, resides in Qualla, NC and teaches at Swain County High School. She holds degrees from Yale University and the College of William and Mary. Her debut novel, Even As We Breathe (The University Press of Kentucky), is scheduled to release September of 2020.

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke came of age working in fields, factories, and waters. She was raised and spent her early adult life primarily in North Carolina, but also in Canada and across the Great Plains US. She was a sharecropper by the time she was mid-teens and continued manual labor in mostly rural settings until retraining for former fieldworkers after her disabilities precluded continuation. Her books include The Year of the Rat, Dog Road Woman, Off-Season City Pipe, Blood Run, Burn and Streaming as well as a memoir, Rock Ghost, Willow, Deer. She is the editor of the anthologies Sing: Poetry of the Indigenous Americas, Effigies, Effigies II and Effigies III. She recently served in a Fulbright to Montenegro and in the Dan & Maggie Inouye Chair in Democratic Ideals. Has served as Reynolds Chair of Poetry, as an NEH Chair in Creative Writing/Critical Studies, as an Artist in Residence (Writer) and a Distinguished Visiting Writer. She has received several fellowships and honors and teaches for the University of California at Riverside where she directs Writers Week and Along the Chaparral: memorializing the enshrined, federal outreach project with K-12 schools. She is the founder/organizer of the Sandhill Crane Retreat.

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.

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.

Matt Gallagher is the author of the novels Empire City and Youngblood, a finalist for the 2016 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His work has appeared in Esquire, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and Wired, among other places. He’s also the author of the Iraq war memoir Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War and lives in New York with his wife and son.

Jaki Shelton Green is the first African American and third woman to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate. When he appointed her in 2018, Governor Roy Cooper stated that "Jaki Shelton Green brings a deep appreciation of our state's diverse communities to her role as an ambassador of North Carolina literature. Jaki's appointment is a wonderful new chapter in North Carolina's rich literary history." She is the author of eight collections of poetry: Dead on Arrival, Dead on Arrival and New Poems, Masks, Conjure Blues, singing a tree into dance, breath of the song, Feeding the Light, I Want to Undie You. Her poetry has been published in more than eighty national and international anthologies, and featured in magazines such as Essence and Ms. Magazine. On Juneteenth 2020, she released her first poetry LP album, The River Speaks of Thirst, produced by Soul City Sounds and Clearly Records.

Lyndsay Hall is the founder and director of Sevilla Writers House, a Los Angeles-based literary events and editing agency, where she organizes book tours and other events for authors. She has taught creative writing to adults and children through Sevilla and a national nonprofit, Writopia Lab, for six years. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles; while there, she served as managing editor for the program’s literary journal, Lunch Ticket. Lyndsay has been the first reader of submissions for Slice, Antioch University’s Lunch Ticket Special, and Union Literary, an agency. Her essay, “A Saline Solution,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her writing has appeared in Hobart Pulp, Little Fiction | Big Truths, juked, xoJane, The Avalon Literary Review, and Lunch Ticket, among others.

Leah Hampton is the author of F*ckface and Other Stories (Henry Holt, 2020), a longtime NCWN member, and the 2012 winner of the Network’s Doris Betts Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, McSweeneys, Ecotone, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers, and she lives in and writes about the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Erin Hosier has been a literary agent since 2001, currently with Dunow Carlson & Lerner, and is the author of the memoir Don't Let Me Down (now in paperback), and the coauthor of Hit So Hard by Patty Schemel (2017). She is the co-creator of the podcast Tell Me About Your Father, and was an original co-host of the Literary Death Match. As an agent, she primarily works with authors of nonfiction and has a special interest in popular culture, music biography, humor, women's history, and untold stories of all kinds. In general, novels with happy endings put her in a bad mood.

Emmanuelle Morgen represents children’s books for all ages, from picture book to YA, as well as adult commercial fiction and nonfiction. In fiction, she particularly enjoys science fiction and fantasy, women’s fiction and romance, historical fiction, and novels that give voice to the experiences of marginalized voices. She has a soft spot for journey stories and well-developed villains. In nonfiction, she works with psychology, sociology, self-help, and memoir. Emmanuelle has worked in book publishing her entire career, beginning at Fodor’s, the travel division of Random House, in 1999. In 2006, she joined Wendy Sherman Associates as an agent, and in 2011 she moved to Stonesong. Prior to starting a career in book publishing, she worked briefly as a teacher, baker, server, and library shelver.

Art Taylor is the author of The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense and On the Road with Del & Louise, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. He won the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Short Story and has also won three additional Agatha Awards, an Anthony Award, three Macavity Awards, and three consecutive Derringer Awards for his short fiction. He is an associate professor of English at George Mason University.

Betsy Thorpe has been in the book publishing business since graduating from college. She has worked as an editor at Atheneum Publishers (Simon & Schuster), HarperCollins, Broadway Books (Random House), and John Wiley & Sons. She opened up her own literary services company in 2000, where she has guided many authors to publication, and ghost-written many books, some of which have appeared on Oprah, People magazine, and The New York Times. Betsy lives in Charlotte with her two daughters and rescue dog, Charlie.



The Writingest State Online Conference is made possible with support from the North Carolina Arts Council; Freedom.toAlice Osborn: Author/Book Coach/Editor; Plottr:; University Press of Kentucky; and Katie Winkler and Teach.Write.


NC Arts Logo                      


Return to Top


Joomla Template: by JoomlaShack