The North Carolina Writers’ Network calls this “The Writingest State from Manteo to Murphy and from Calabash to Crumpler" and as a recipient of a Statewide Service Organization grant from the N.C. Arts Council they find and welcome writers from all parts of North Carolina to gather in Asheville for their annual Fall Conference, scheduled Nov. 8 to 10. Registration is open at www.ncwriters.org.
Asheville and the surrounding mountains offer a true bounty for the literary arts. Authors who led master classes in 2015, the last time the Network held its Fall Conference in Asheville, will be leading single sessions this year, not replaced but graciously making room for other talented instructors. Even with agents and editors, award-winning authors, and a former North Carolina Poet Laureate on faculty, the Fall Conference line-up represents only a sampling of Asheville’s abundant literary culture.
New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash will give the Keynote Address. Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestseller Serena and Above the Waterfall, in addition to four prizewinning novels: The Cove, One Foot In Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; five collections of poems; and six collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he teaches at Western Carolina University.
On Saturday morning, the North Carolina Humanities Council will present the winner of the Linda Flowers Literary Award during the “All Stories Connect” breakfast panel.
Saturday’s Luncheon will feature former North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti and a special reading from Brothers Like These, comprised of stories and poems written by Vietnam combat veterans. Under Bathanti’s guidance, they gathered to write every Wednesday for almost two years. These are stories and poems, large and small, funny and heartbreaking, that only these men can relate in their own inimitable styles—stories and poems not just invaluable to succeeding generations of soldiers, but to every citizen of our country, and beyond.
Saturday night’s annual banquet features Asheville’s home-grown music collective, Pan Harmonia, celebrating their 20th season with the premiere of a music and poetry fusion work, “Rubble Becomes Art,” a triptych of songs composed by Dosia McKay inspired by poetry by North Carolina writers Sally Atkins, Valerie Foote, and Cathy Larson Sky.
Sunday morning includes an “Agents & Editors” panel. The weekend also features faculty readings, open mics, and an exhibit hall packed with vendors, including the official conference booksellers, Malaprop’s.
A variety of classes are scheduled including fiction sessions on “Pre-Writing Is a Matter of Pre-Trusting” with Kevin McIlvoy; “Thievery, Loss, & Scars: A Fiction Workshop” with Heather Newton; and “If You’re Afraid to Write About It, Write About It” with NCWN trustee Tommy Hays. Creative nonfiction writers may take “Power Up the Truth You Tell” with Christine Hale and “The Limits of Perception: Invention & Speculation in CNF” with Tessa Fontaine. Poets may register for sessions including “Write with the Wolfe—a Poetry/Prose Poetry Rebellion” with Laura Hope-Gill; “Capturing the Persona Poem” with Keith Flynn; “Ekphrasis: Growing Art from Art” with Eric Tran; “It Looks Like a Hairball” with Catherine Carter; and “Freedom & the Imagination” with Mildred Barya.
For those looking for more generalized writing sessions—Dale Neal will lead “Why Not Ask?” and Meta Commerse will lead “Story Medicine 2.0.” Also, Alli Marshall, Kevin Evans, Lockie Hunter, and Steve Shell will sit on the panel, “Writing Out Loud.”
If you feel you’ve got a manuscript ready to take to market, or you’ve already published and want to know how to maximize sales, plenty of sessions will focus on the business of books. Gold Leaf Literary Services will walk registrants through “The Elements of the Industry”; Meg Reid, the director of Hub City Press, will let authors know “What Writers Should Know about Book Design”; Catherine Campbell will teach how to “Write Your Best Agent Query Letter”; Luke Hankins, founder and editor at Orison Books, will lead “The Ins and Out of Small Press Publishing”; and Anne Fitten Glenn will offer “Creative Ways to Promote Your Book (and Yourself).”
Writers for stage and screen can sign up for “Screenplay: Fake vs. Fiction” with Maryedith Burrell and “Improv’s Increasing Role in Comedy Writing” with Tom Chalmers.
Sponsors of the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2019 Fall Conference include The University of North Carolina at Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program; Asheville FM 103.3; the Flatiron Writers Room; The Thomas Wolfe MFA Program at Lenoir-Rhyne University; the North Carolina Arts Council; the North Carolina Humanities Council; Alice Osborn: Author/Book Coach/Editor; Smoky Mountain Living; Western Carolina University’s MA in English Program; Katie Winkler and Teach.Write.; and WNCW 88.7.
Pre-registration is open through Friday, Nov. 1 at www.ncwriters.org.