N.C. Writer’s Network fall conference Nov. 3-5

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 10, 2017

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Fall Conference, Nov. 3-5 at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach, will bring together North Carolina’s artistic and cultural community for a full weekend of classes, readings, screenings, camaraderie and more.

Registration is open here.

Writers of all levels and experiences, from many backgrounds and with varying degrees of publishing credits to those who’ve never shared anything they’ve written, will learn not only how to write better but how to live a productively creative life.

Wiley Cash, of Wilmington, will give the keynote address on Friday evening. His debut novel, “A Land More Kind than Home,” won the Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance Book Award and the John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award from the UK’s Crime Writers’ Association.

His second novel, “This Dark Road to Mercy,” was a SIBA Okra Pick and has been optioned to film. His new novel is “The Last Ballad,” about the real-life 1929 Loray Mill strike and the murder of balladeer Ella Mae Wiggins.

Cash is writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and teaches in the low-residency MFA program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University.

Saturday’s luncheon will feature the documentary “CreativeNC” by Dev T. Smith. The film, which debuted at the North Carolina Museum of History, sheds light on what it’s like to be a creative in a country fueled by industrial ideals.

On Saturday night, the banquet will celebrate 50 years of the North Carolina Arts Council with special guest Susi H. Hamilton, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural & Cultural Resources. As secretary, Hamilton has focused on economic development, ensuring children and families have a chance to succeed by encouraging companies to bring well-paying jobs to southeastern NC. She is a strong advocate for preserving Wilmington’s historic district.

Programs include Saturday morning’s “All Stories Connect” panel discussion with the North Carolina Humanities Council, which will include the announcement of the winner of the 2017 Linda Flowers Literary Award.

Sunday morning will again feature the “Brilliant at Breakfast” panel discussion, “Agents and Editors,” featuring Malaga Baldi of the Baldi Agency; St. Martin’s Press editor Jaime Coyne; Christopher Rhodes of The Stuart Agency; and Emily Louise Smith of Lookout Books / Ecotone.

Nina De Gramont will lead the master class in fiction, “The Heart of the Matter,” which will discuss how to treat and enhance the moment in your story around which your entire arc revolves. De Gramont is the author of three books for young adults and teaches at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Fiction writers can choose from a variety of stand-alone sessions, including “The Art of Novel Writing: From Idea to Polished Manuscript and Beyond” with Outer Banks novelist Michele Young-Stone; “Such a Character” and “Screenwriting 101” with Jason Mott, author of The New York Times bestseller “The Returned,” which was made into the hit television show “Resurrection;” and “Good Guys, Bad Guys, and Plot Twists: Developing a Mystery” with mystery writer and longtime journalist Thomas Kies, president of the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce.

The master class in creative nonfiction will be led by Wendy Brenner, author of two short-story collections and a recipient of the Flannery O’Connor Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. “The Power of Voice” will examine methods and modes of storytelling that writers may overlook or not feel confident enough to use. Whether a writer is working in memoir, biography, journalism, history or some other sub-genre, this class will provide him or her with new tools and perspectives. Brenner teaches in the creative writing department at UNCW.

Those who prefer to stick to the absolute truth in their writing also can sign up for offerings such as “The Experimental and the Exquisite: A Generative Nonfiction Workshop” with Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, winner of the Whiting Writers Award; “The Art of Creative Research” with Philip Gerard, author of four novels and six books of nonfiction; and “Writing the Short Personal Essay” with N.C. Arts Council Fellow Robert Wallace.

Dan Albergotti will lead the poetry master class, “The ‘What It Is’ and the Unteachable Lesson: On Form in Free Verse and the Search for Metaphor.” Registrants will take a close look at several poems that illustrate: the truth that “free verse” is never truly free of form and the god-like and elusive power of metaphor. Albergotti, a professor of English at Coastal Carolina University, is the author of two poetry collections and a chapbook.

Additional poetry classes include “Object, List, and Place Poems” with Peter Makuck, two-time winner of the Brockman-Campbell Award for best book of poetry by a North Carolinian; “Fine Lines” with Beloit Journal poetry editor Melissa Crowe; and “The Ordinary Extraordinary” with Michael White, a 2015 finalist for the National Book Award for “Travels in Vermeer.”

Those registrants hoping for feedback on their manuscripts should consider additional special options.

By pre-registering for either the Critique Service or the Manuscript Mart, writers receive in-depth literary critique of their fiction, nonfiction, or poetry by a seasoned writer or editor, or the chance to pitch their manuscripts and get feedback from an editor or agent with a leading publisher or literary agency.

While either of these programs might lead to publication, conference-goers will get more out of these half-hour sessions if they approach them as an opportunity, above all else, to learn to write better.

Finishing a manuscript, though, is only part of what it takes to be a writer. With that in mind, the NCWN 2017 Fall Conference offers several sessions devoted to teaching writers how to comport themselves professionally and navigate the publishing industry.

Beth Staples, editor of Lookout Books, will lead “Understanding the Editorial Process,” while “Myth & Modern Magical Thinking for Mere Mortals,” with Poetry Society of America Vice President Catherine Woodard, will examine the timeless hero/heroine’s journey for any genre.

NCWN Trustee and UNC-Chapel Hill professor Michele T. Berger will offer “Charting Your Path to Publication: Tips, Techniques and Lessons for Writers;” Malaga Baldi will lead registrants through “Writing the Query Letter that Sells!”; distinguished editors Terry L. Kennedy, Robin Miura and Ross White will participate in the panel “Finding Readers Through Lit Mags.”

Novelist Taylor Brown, winner of the Montana Prize in Fiction, will use examples from his own day-to-day to teach attendees about “The Writing Life: Strategies for Being an Artist in the Real World,” and NCWN board member and the voice of Lady Banks, Nicki Leone, will lead “Booksellers and Authors: Building Partnerships that Last.”

Anna Lena Phillips Bell, winner of the 2016 Vassar Miller Poetry Prize for her newest collection, “Ornament,” will lead the pre-conference tailgate on Friday. “Writing from Place: A Poetry (or Prose) Walk” will tour participants through Wrightsville Beach on foot, pausing in the shade to talk writing and respond to writing prompts. This programming is free.

Once again, the Network will offer Mary Belle Campbell Scholarships, which send two poets who teach full-time to the Fall Conference.

For more information, and to register, visit www.ncwriters.org.