Thursday, July 31, 2014

Staci Bell will read at Coffee with the Poets and Writers August 13

Each month the North Carolina Writers’ Network West sponsors Coffee with the Poets and Writers and invites the public to attend. Staci Lynn Bell, accomplished writer, will be featured on Wednesday, August 13, 10:30 a.m. at Blue Mountain Coffee and Grill located at the intersection of Highway 64 and Highway 141 in Cherokee County, NC.

Bell began writing commercials, editorials and public service announcements for TV and radio. In 1988 her environmental essay won statewide acclaim in Florida. More recently her short stories and nonfiction have been published in the online journal, 234, and in Show Dog Magazine. Her poetry has been published in Wild Goose Poetry Review, a popular online literary journal.
Staci Lynn Bell will read at Coffee with the Poets and Writers

For twenty-five years, Staci Bell worked in radio and television as a broadcaster, host and emcee for numerous events and concerts. Originally from Chicago, today Bell lives in Murphy, NC with her husband and three dogs. She is a member of NCWN West and the Ridgeline Literary Alliance.

An Open Mic session follows the featured reader, and anyone who brings an original short story or personal essay or poem, is invited to sign up to read. This event is open to all who like poetry and enjoy short prose whether or not they are a writer. Visitors are also invited to join the writers as they  pull tables together and eat lunch. A drawing is held for door prizes.

GlendaBeall, Clay County Representative for NCWN West, facilitates this event. Contact her at or call her at 828-389-4441 with any questions.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Davis Short Story Collection For Nook and Kindle

From NCWN/NetWest member Tom Davis comes this information:

"Just posted my collection of short stories about a boy growing up in the south in the 50s for your Kindle and Nook. Check out Growing Up in Vienna, GeorgiaGuaranteed make you laugh out three times or you have no sense of humor. And it’s only $2.99."

To see more eBooks published by Old Mountain Press, click here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Who is Patricia Vestal?


One of the NC Writers' Network Regional Representatives,  Patricia Vestal, of Hendersonville, will be teaching a NetWest sponsored workshop titled "Elements of Storytelling", on Saturday, August 2, at the Grove Enterprises building, 7540 Hwy 64 West, Brasstown, NC.

Recently, I asked Patricia for an interview, and she graciously answered some questions.

   Glenda: Patricia, you are a native of Winston-Salem. Did you grow up there and go to school there?
   Patricia: I lived in Winston-Salem until I was 13, when my parents moved us to Jacksonville, Fl.  Every year we visited our close knit extended family back in NC and worked in a mountain visit.  I went to high school in Jacksonville and took some college classes, but got most of my undergrad and grad education after I moved to New York at age 24.

Glenda: Tell us about your early years. When did you develop an interest in writing?
Patricia: My parents took me to movies from an early age, and I developed a vivid imagination.  I recall playing “movies” and directing brother, cousins and friends in fantasy adventures.  Once I discovered books, I devoured as many as I could.  I wove stories in my mind, including what seemed then like a complex world of fairies led by a queen whose name has stayed with me and now populates a novella I’ve just finished.  I have absolutely no idea how that strange name originated in my young imagination.  So I always have been “writing.” In school I became interested in journalism, but I didn’t get the “yen” to really be a writer until I was in my early twenties.

Glenda: You have an extensive resume as an editor, writer and researcher for publishers in New York City. What were your career plans when you were growing up?
Patricia: My family was very traditional Southern.  I was expected to simply get married, have children and be a housewife. That’s what women did. I was sent into the business world to aid in the search for Mr. Right.  I always knew that I wouldn’t be content settling down early into a housewife routine.  A job with a big insurance company could have grown into an interesting and lucrative career, but I hatched another plan to save my money and move to New York, use my business experience to earn a living while I finished my education and pursued writing.  

Glenda: When did your interest in theater develop?
Patricia: My family didn’t attend theater, but I was enchanted by elementary school field trips to plays.  My real interest in drama came from TV: the golden age of drama like Studio One and other shows written by playwrights and from performances of international plays on PBS, including some New York experimental theater that opened my eyes to the possibilities of live theater. 

Glenda: You are a playwright, and earned your M.A. in Drama. Did you perform on the stage as an actor?
Patricia: In childhood, all I knew about drama was what I saw on screen, so I wanted to be an actress; but as I matured, I realized that my interest was really in creating the characters the actors portrayed and the stories they told. I did take acting lessons, but only to help me better work with performers as a writer and director.

Glenda: Your plays have been produced in Off-Off Broadway theaters. Can you tell us something about that? How did you feel when your first play was performed in NYC?
Patricia: I had the good fortune to live in New York in the late 1960’s and 1970’s when Off-Off-Broadway was blossoming.  Many plays were done in “found” spaces that brought small audiences close to the action where they could actually see the actors’ faces and feel the electricity in sharing a one-time performance experience.  I found that very exciting and it motivated my creative and educational direction.  I took classes in playwriting and screenwriting and was in a couple of valuable playwriting workshops where actors read our works-in-progress, and produced staged readings.  My first actual production was in a small theater space in the back of an East Village tavern. I felt it verified my ambition, that I really did have the ability to write plays that would be produced; and it motivated me to continue studying and writing. 

Glenda: It is obvious you are an accomplished writer and storyteller with lots of experience in this field. When and why did you become a writing and playwriting teacher?
Patricia: I got my higher education mostly in NYC while working, so it took years. In grad school at NYU I studied with professors who were involved in experimental theater, but also read the best examples of plays ever written and looked at not only how they represented excellent storytelling but also how they reflected their culture and time.  By the time I got my M.A. I was ready to leave New York.  An offer from a textbook publisher that was relocating to Florida took me closer to my aging parents and into a stable position with benefits, including a much needed retirement plan. 

When I moved to Orlando from NYC, I wanted to maintain a theater connection and was just fortunate to find a group that developed new plays that welcomed me. Theater is very collaborative and I am stimulated by the creative process.  I enjoy working with other writers.  When I got the opportunity to teach various forms of writing to college students it was a privilege to pass along the skills and knowledge I had learned from others. I was encouraged by their enthusiasm and still find nothing more rewarding than discovering  and/or helping to develop writing talent. 
After I retired to Hendersonville, I developed my Elements of Writing Workshop.

Glenda: You also write poetry. Have you always written poetry or did that come along later?
Patricia: I always wrote a little poetry, but didn't focus on it until I was living in Orlando.   The dual lives of my responsible day job and the late night hours of theater began to take a toll and I had to cut back. A friend who was in a poetry group suggested I try that genre, and I began attending their sessions and learning from them, and participated in public readings.   

When I started teaching, I had to brush up on my knowledge of the nuts and bolts of poetry for my Comp II and Creative Writing classes. I formed a school creative writing club and joined my students in reading our work at the school’s student-faculty art shows. I enjoy the discipline of compressing words into imagery that carries some resonance and find it hones my writing skills for all genres.  

Glenda: What inspires you? Where do your stories come from?
Patricia: I have a vivid and weird imagination.  I’m not particularly inspired by everyday problems.  I like to just sit in front of a blank screen, write whatever comes in my mind and go from there.  Sometimes it’s a poem.  Other times stories arise that tend to come from the broad issues that concern me; but they often come alive in a world of magical realism or satire. The novella I just finished fuses fantasy and science, hopefully told through believable, complex characters. 

Glenda: Your forthcoming workshop on August 2, "Elements of Storytelling" covers all genres. Can you help a poet as well as a fiction writer in this workshop?
Patricia: Yes. Poems use imagery, which is an essential element in bringing prose to life.  Poetry may or may not tell a story, but it can have characters, setting, voice and point of view, among others of the elements covered in my workshop.  I edit my own poetry within the context of these elements. 

Glenda: Tell us something personal about yourself that your students might find interesting to know.
Patricia: I am a nature and animal lover. I consider it a blessing to be able to live in these mountains with my cat, Tigress. 

Glenda: Thank you, Patricia, for taking time for this interview. I’m sure our readers will be glad to know you better when they take this class and will have confidence that they will learn valuable information to help them reach their goals as writers.

Glenda Council Beall, is a writer, poet and teacher. She is Owner/Director of Writers Circle Studio in Hayesville, NC.  
She serves as Clay County Representative for NCWN West, and is former Program Coordinator 2007-2009

Thursday, July 24, 2014

One Year Anniversary

Congratulations to Lana Hendershott and Patricia Vestal. They combined their creative talents and have grown the Open Mic night poetry and prose reading held at the Hendersonville Public Library held on the third Monday evening of each month at 5:30 PM. This month, almost forty people were inspired and entertained by about 15 writers who gave brief readings of their work. The public is invited to join the fun. We thank Lana and Pat for the effort they made to make this work. 

To tell a friend about the Open Mic, click here.

Sent to us by Bill Ramsey, co-author of Me Now, Who Next, who was featured at the recent Blue Ridge Bookfest.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Naming of new poet laureate stirred up controversy this week

The literary world of North Carolina has been buzzing the past week with the appointment of a poet laureate by Governor McCrory who did not go through the normal process of working with the NC Arts Council to selectthe best person for this important post.
Our own Netwest member and first woman poet laureate of North Carolina, Kathryn Stripling Byer spoke out online in numerous Facebook posts about the selection of Valerie Macon, poet from Fuquay-Varina whose literary credits seem to be two self-published books of poetry. 

Byer along with three other past poets laureate issued a statement criticizing the process used by the governor.
"Instituted and administered expertly and transparently by the North Carolina Arts Council - which has our unqualified support and loyalty - the process insured that the poet laureate, ultimately appointed by the governor, was indeed a poet and educator of singular accomplishment, someone not only with a literary reputation in North Carolina, but beyond," their statement said. "The fact that that process was not recognized in the most recent appointment has resulted in disaster."

Although Macon is an advocate for the homeless and writes about their plight, she is not considered by most poets yet worthy to hold this honor. Those who struggle to perfect verse that is accepted and published by highly respected presses, who win awards for their work and who are recognized as leaders in their arts community were shocked to see that someone who was relatively an unknown, had been chosen over more qualified people.

A great example of what a poet laureate should be is Kathryn Byer who is recognized nationally and internationally for her work. FredChapell, former Poet Laureate has been published far and wide and is known throughout the literary world. Cathy SmithBowers and Joseph Bathanti, two recent poets laureate, also have outstanding resumes.

Some wonder, was the selection of Ms. Macon, who has now resigned, a deliberate poke at the literary community at large or was it complete ignorance as the governor has claimed. He indicated he did not know about the protocol whereby poets are recommended through the Arts Council and their works carefully examined before any of their names reach the governor’s desk. He said it was not written on the walls, so how was he to know? 

I was told that the Arts Council sent the governor a packet of information informing him of the credentials of past laureates and the manner in which they were chosen. I assume he will be forced to follow protocol now that Valerie Macon has resigned. 

It has certainly stirred up the poetry community and made North Carolina look inept to those in the country who follow such things. I received calls from Netwest members and from the local newspapers with questions about the botched appointment. The larger newspapers in this state have carried articles on the subject.

 Below are some links you might want to read for more information.

What do you think? Leave your comments at the bottom of this post.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Brenda Kay Ledford's Poetry Published

Brenda Kay Ledford's poem, "Homecoming," appeared in the July/August, 2014 issue of West End Poet's Newsletter,  Her poem, "Blue Ridge Woman," was published in Farming Magazine, summer, 2014,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sylva, NC, July 17: Karen Paul Holmes reads from her new book

"A courageous, deeply human book"

-- Poet Tom Lux regarding Untying the Knot by Karen Paul Holmes

The poems in this collection are written "with grace, humor and without a dollop of self pity," according to well-known poet and teacher Tom Lux. Come hear Karen Paul Holmes read from her first book, which recounts the very personal story of her divorce after 31 years of marriage, and the ensuing healing.

"This is a work anyone who suffers loss can cherish." (from a reader review on Amazon)

Coffee with the Poet

Thursday, July 17

10:30 a.m.

City Lights Bookstore

Sylva, NC

City Lights web site for more information

The book is also available on





No JC Campbell Folk School Reading in July

The Folk School’s schedule is extremely crowded every July, so our readers will take a break. However, the readings will resume in August, with featured readers Glenda Beall and Estelle Rice. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Me Now - Who Next, the inspiring story of Angela Leigh Tucker's recovery from a traumatic brain injury is now available in audio, here

Scott R. Pollak is the professional narrator whose voice brings the book alive. Notice that you can hear a sample of his reading after opening the link. Bill and Angela were inspired to offer the book in audio because so many who have suffered traumatic brain injuries or strokes can find reading a printed book difficult or even impossible.

On July 31, 2008, Angela and her husband were in an auto accident that left her a young widow. She continues to amaze all who know her with her recovery success. The work she put into recovering is ongoing and lots of support is still being provided by doctors, therapists, family and friends. She was just elected President of New York City chapter of the Brain Injury Association of New York YC and also to the Board of the BIA of the state of New York. 

See her in action on her website, and click on "talks" for videos.

From Bill Ramsey, who blogs at:

For information about his books: