Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Dana Wildsmith at City Lights Books on February 23

Dana Wildsmith will read at City Lights in Sylva, NC from her new collection of poetry, One Light this Saturday, February 23 with Susan O'Dell Underwood, author of The Book of Awe.

Wildsmith is author of a novel, Jumping, and an environmental memoir, Back to Abnormal: Surviving With An Old Farm in the New South, which was a finalist for Georgia Author of the Year. She is also the author of five collections of poetry. She has served as Artist-in-Residence for Grand Canyon National Park and for Everglades National Park. She lives with her family on an old farm in north Georgia and works as an English literacy instructor at Lanier Technical College.

Anyone who lives near enough to attend will enjoy these two poets. Dana often  teaches at John C. Campbell Folk School.  Visit her website here to learn more about her. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Interview with Karen Paul Holmes

This is an interview with poet and member of  NCWN-West, Karen Paul Holmes. It was published online last year.

May 14, 2018

GCB: Your new book is No Such Thing as Distance, published by Terrapin Books. Did you have a particular audience in mind with this collection?
KPH: First of all, thanks so much for this interview, Glenda.
My goal is to create poems that touch people in some way—through an aha-moment, a connection to the subject or image, a shared laugh, etc.  By people, I mean anyone, not a specific audience. When I chose poems for this manuscript, I did have themes in mind but hoped the book would appeal to a variety of readers. The interwoven themes are family (especially Macedonian cultural traditions), music, nature, grief, and healing. I included a few traditional recipes at the back of the book, because cooking together is one ways my family connects, and, of course, that’s pretty much universal. 

GCB: I like getting to know your parents in the poems in your latest book. I had the pleasure of meeting your mother when she came to my studio, when my dog stole her lunch. She was a good sport. She must have loved your father intensely to leave Australia to marry him and live in the United States.  In the poem, “Matilda Waltzing,” we sense she harbored homesickness, as any of us would likely feel. Did she tell you she was homesick and that she missed her family in Australia?
KPH: It’s funny you brought up your dog stealing her lunch, because my dog stole her Angelo’s Coney Island hot dog once! That was my dad’s restaurant in Flint, Michigan, and the recipe for the secret sauce is in the book. Anyway, I don’t ever remember my mother using the word “homesick,” but she always talked longingly about Australia, and she really hated Michigan winters. After she moved to Florida, she felt more at home in the tropical climate, but I think she remained nostalgic about the home and family she left Down Under—she only returned twice to visit. My siblings and I used to time how long it would take her to tell a stranger that she was from Australia – usually under five minutes. To be fair, though, she still had some of her accent, and people would often ask where she was from. But when she answered, she made it seem like she was just visiting the US temporarily, which says a lot about her strong roots.

GCB: “Macedonian Bean Soup” surprised me. It hails back to your marriage, your ex-husband, and your father. Food brings forth stronger memories than almost anything, and I enjoyed the image of your husband and your father cooking the soup. Have you made this soup?
KPH: Yes, I found my ex’s handwritten notes and made the soup for the first time last year. The poem says “Perhaps one day, I’ll make it myself,” and so I thought, “What’s stopping me?” It was yummy and just like my dad would make. I’m kind of sorry some of the poems mention my ex, but certain events or themes always seem to slip into our writing, don’t they? So I just have to accept that. The 31-year marriage was a huge part of my life, after all, and affects how I am today.

GCB: You make poems from the most mundane sometimes. We see how observant you are of nature and the world around you. Tell me about your writing process for “Ant Fest.”
KPH: My process is almost always the same. Something gets into my head—usually a line or a title—and sometimes that something turns into a whole poem that might meander into an entirely different something, like how killing the ants turns into releasing frustrations for all sorts of past events. I think in this case, the ants’ drunkenness seemed funny and interesting to me, hence the first two lines, “Drunk on liquid bait, they stumble/ across the white bathroom tile.” If I remember correctly, those lines started out as the poem’s opening and remained through all my revisions, though often I move things around when editing.

GCB: “Confessions of an Ugly Nightgown” is one of my favorite poems. This is a persona poem. How did this idea come to you? Did your mother talk about her life growing up in Australia?

KPH: That’s quite an old poem, perhaps the first one I wrote about my mother. The title came to me first, so then I had to try telling the story through the nightgown’s viewpoint, and it seemed to work. Yes, my mom talked about Australia all the time, and she had lots of old family photos. Aussie relatives had come to visit over the years, so I heard their stories too. My mother really didn’t keep many things from her past, but the nightgown was always just sort of there in a box, and then somehow I ended up with it. As I grew into young adulthood, I started appreciating the loyalty and bravery it took for my mother to sail across the world to marry someone she couldn’t have known all that well. I felt compelled to write about that, and the nightgown’s journey seemed like one way to do it.

GCB: I have always been drawn to looking into lit windows of houses as I pass by, where strangers live and families gather. Your poem, “Road Stories,” grabbed me, and I will read this one often. What prompted this poem?
KPH: I started keeping a list of road names that were funny or intriguing. I often wonder about how a road got its name, but like you, I also wonder about people inside, especially when it’s dark and the lights are on. So, I don’t know how, but the poem started emerging and then traveling to different places (which seemed appropriate for a “road” poem), ending up with Dorothy in Kansas!

GCB: Although it is unusual for a poet to submit the same manuscript more than once to the same publisher, you sent this one to Terrapin Books a second time after it was first rejected a year or so before. Why did you think it would be accepted the second time around?
KPH: Well, I had no idea about my chances of acceptance the second time, but because the editor had given me constructive feedback on the first submission, I thought she cared enough about my work to take a second look. So I emailed her, saying I’d made revisions based on her input (mostly about the order of poems) and asking whether she’d like to see it again. And she said yes! The moral of the story is: Pay attention when editors (of journals or books) take the time to give you feedback on a submission or otherwise give you encouragement, and don’t be afraid to resubmit.

GCB: You have been quite successful publishing your poetry in journals and reviews. Your first poetry book was well received. What advice can you give to poets who want to see their books published by a reputable press? Is there a special tip you can offer a poet to make their work acceptable?
KPH: I did what my mentor, the poet Nancy Simpson, suggested: Get your poems published in journals first. Usually, that means a lot of work perfecting your poems, hopefully by attending workshops or critique groups, and then submitting to lots of journals. My acceptance rate ranges from 6%-13%, so that means I submitted many poems over several years to get into the publications I’ve been in so far. Duotrope, the submission tracker I use and recommend, says my ratio is “higher than the average for members who have submitted to the same places.” For the last two years, I made it a point to only submit to journals who take less than 5% of the poems they receive. While my ratio went down, my credentials went up because I got into some top journals.
You have to get used to rejection. My friend, the poet Maren Mitchell, helped me to see it as almost a game. When she gets rejected, she says, “Yippee! Time to do more submissions!”
In the submission guidelines for chapbooks or full-length manuscripts, publishers will usually require that a certain number of the poems have previously appeared in reputable publications.
GCB: You attended the AWP Conference in Tampa, Florida. Please tell us about that experience. What were the highlights of the conference for you?
KPH: AWP is huge—10,000 writers—so it’s better if you go with someone, which I did. I loved hearing David Kirby, Mark Doyy, Natalie Shapero, and others read their poems, and I met poets and editors that I had only known online. I was honored that the editor of Lascaux Review, Stephen Parrish who lives in Germany, came to my book signing and bought a book. I will say, though, that I prefer to attend workshops led by an accomplished poet where you revise and edit your work for a week or so. I loved the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, San Miquel (Mexico) Poetry Workshop, and the Sarah Lawrence Summer Seminar, and highly recommend them for improving your work and making connections with other writers. 
GCB: You teach writing and host writing events. Why do you think poets should take classes and participate in literary events?
KPH: Writing can be a lonely pursuit. Classes and critique groups are invaluable for improving your work and getting inspired to create more. By attending readings, you learn other writers’ work (and hearing it is very special), and you support writers who are as passionate about the craft as you are. Networking events are good for your poetry “career” and for making friends who share a common interest. I love my poet friends. I am a better person and poet because of my connections with other poets. My critique group and the North Carolina Writers’ Network have been an invaluable support system. Here’s an article I wrote about starting and running a critique group. https://trishhopkinson.com/2018/04/29/6-workshop-critique-tips-guest-blog-post-by-karen-paul-holmes/
GCB: Thank you, Karen, for answering these questions.

About the interviewer: Glenda Council Beall is a poet, blogger, memoirist and writing teacher. She’s the author of a poetry book, Now Might as Well be Then (Finishing Line Press, 2009) and a family history, Profiles and Pedigrees, Thomas Charles Council and His Descendants (Genealogy Publishing Co. 1998). Her poems, essays, and short stories have appeared in Reunions Magazine, Main Street Rag, Appalachian Heritage, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Your Daily Poem, Wild Goose Poetry Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology: North Carolina, and many other places. Her poems have won awards in the James Still Poetry Contest and the Clay County NC Poetry Contest. Beall is the Program Coordinator for the western region of the North Carolina Writers’ Network and has taught memoir at John C. Campbell Folk School, Tri-County Community College, and Writers Circle around the Table.  http://www.glendacouncilbeall.com/

About the poet: Karen Paul Holmes has two full-length poetry collections, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014). She was chosen as a Best Emerging Poet in 2016 by Stay Thirsty Media. Publications include Prairie Schooner, Valparaiso Review, Tar River Poetry, diode, Poet Lore, and other journals and anthologies. Holmes hosts The Side Door Poets in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She’s a freelance business writer and teaches creative writing workshops. http://KarenPaulHolmes.com

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


Schedule for Coffee with the Poets and Writers for 2019

March  20 –Knute Rary  and Bob Grove

April   17--  Brenda Kay Ledford
May 15--   Charley Pearson   
June  19—Joan Howard  and Gene Hirsch
July  17--  Patricia Zick   
August  21—Don Long and Carroll Taylor
September  18--   Richard Cary and Fred Tarr 
October  16  -- Glenda Barrett and Roy Paine
November   20 --  Mary Ricketson and Jim Davis
December –  18 --  Christmas Luncheon – Open Mic

 If you are on this list and have not done so, please send your bio, less than 200 words, along with a photo (300 DPI) at least a month before your reading. Send now and Carroll Taylor will put it in her file and you can forget about it.

If you would like to be put on our waiting list to read if someone cancels, send your bio and photo and tell us you want to be put on the list.

We hope you all will come out to hear these writers and storytellers share their work. We meet the third Wednesday of the month, March - December at Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC. We often give door prizes so come and maybe you will get lucky.

Joan Howard is the facilitator of this group. Carroll Taylor handles publicity. 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Spring Conference Time is Near

Seeing the announcement of the NCWN Spring Conference created an excitement in me to go to this gathering of successful writers and poets. I want the inspiration and motivation I always receive when I am with writers. 
Ed Southern at City Lights Books. Photo by Barry Beall
I like to learn and I can tell there is much I could learn here. One of the things most of us need is the sessions by Ed Southern and his wife, Jamie, both knowledgeable about the book business. That is what we have if we make an effort to publish our writing, a business we need to work at just as we work at our writing. 

At times our book business takes too much of our time, or it seems to. We want to spend our time writing, not building a platform or reputation with readers, or getting our books into book stores, checking on their sales and even picking up books that are not selling. I was told that many writers, enthusiastic about their new novels, travel far and wide to sell book store owners on the idea of carrying their books. But, book store owners say often authors never come back. They never even contact the book stores. 

When our local book store closed the owner said she had contacted all the local authors whose books she carried, but very few came back to get their books. I ended up with many of them because I was asked to take them. Elizabeth didn't want to just throw away the books, so I give them as door prizes in our writing groups or donate them to Friends of the Library book store. 

The book business is important to learn. I want to attend Ed and Jamie's sessions. If anyone in WNC or north Georgia wants to go to Greensboro to the Spring Conference, I would like to have a companion for the trip. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Keeping our Blog and Website going

I know we are all sorry that Joan Gage has resigned as our blog and webmaster for NCWN-West. She did a terrific job of keeping our events and our publishing success out there for all to see. 

Joan will continue as a member and will continue to do publicity for the Literary Hour, the monthly reading at the John C. Campbell Folk School. Many of our members have come to know Joan through this blog and through her own blogs. 

She is and has been a very busy person who was a tremendous help to me in the past. I hope I can still call on her from time to time to share her talents with us.

For now, I will resume posting here and try to keep up with everything, but I would very much appreciate one of our members stepping up to help with the blog. 

I learned about blogging and the success writers were having starting a free site to make their books known to the public when I attended a NCWN Fall Conference in 2007. I came home and tried my hand at creating one. I was delighted that our members liked the idea.

During the next year, I taught blogging classes at the Moss Library and several of our members set up their own blogs. One became an internationally known food blog. 

Brenda Kay Ledford and her mother, Blanche

Brenda Kay Ledford, author of many books and articles has two or three of the best blogs where she shares her poetry and writes about the history of Clay County. She has attracted a wide audience and Brenda has won a number of awards. Nancy Simpson also learned to blog at that class. I think her blog is still open and is great to read. 

I hope that you, our members, will follow us, if you do not already, and will send some of your work to post here. This site belongs to all of us, members of NCWN-West, and it is read by lots and lots of people here and around the world. Make your voice heard right here on www.netwestwriters.blogspot.com  

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Do you wonder why your book is not selling?

I like to post articles or posts that benefit my readers, so today I am sharing a site that is full of good advice for writers. In this post, the writer tells us, with humor, why our books are not selling and what we must do to sell at a time when reading books has fallen as a major entertainment for people.

I have been reading Kristen Lamb for a long time and I have learned so much from her articles. Do you subscribe to Kristen? If so, what do you like about her site?


What do you think about her suggestions on how to sell books?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Joan Ellen Gage retires as Admin for the NCWN-West Blog

Greetings to my friends at NCWN-West. I regret that I must resign as the Admin for the NCWN-West Blog, but due to circumstances, it is in my best interest.

Please direct any questions to our Program Coordinator, Glenda Beall, at:

The best of luck in your writing and publishing! 

Joan Ellen Gage


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Michael Diebert guests posts on Writers Circle around the Table

Editor of Chattahoochee Review, Poet Michael Diebert guests posts here today. 

His posts on Writers Circle Around the Table are the most popular posts in recent times.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Spring Literary Festival at Western Carolina University, March 21-28, 2019, for your information

TENTATIVE 2019 Schedule, Spring Literary Festival at WCU

Thursday, March 21st

Monday, March 25th

Tuesday, March 26th

Wednesday, March 27th

Thursday, March 28th

Events take place on the campus of Western Carolina University in the A.K. Hinds University Center (UC).

Links:  https://www.wcu.edu/learn/departments-schools-colleges/cas/humanities/english/lit-fest/



 Pamela Duncan
Spring Literary Festival Director

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Request for NCWN-West members to read at Coffee with the Poets and Writers meetings, for 2019, Hayesville, NC

Glenda Beall is setting up the schedule for featured members of NCWN-West to read at Coffee with the Poets and Writers for 2019. The event will begin in March and go through November with featured readers. Some months we will have two readers and some months we will have one. The meetings are at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC on the third Wednesday of the month at 10:30 AM.

Joan Howard is the facilitator and Carroll Taylor will doing publicity. There will be an article placed in the local newspapers.  If you are not from Clay, Cherokee, Towns, and Union, publicity will try to get an article in your local newspaper if you get them the contact information. If you have a book to promote, that is great. Bring copies to sell and sign. The event usually has visitors from the community who are not already members, some who just want to hear the reading.

CWPW has Brenda Kay Ledford reading for April Joan Howard for June, and tentatively, Charlie Pearson for March. Some other months are open; please check with Glenda Beall at glendabeall@msn.com for the current schedule. If two readers want to read on the same day, let Beall know. The event has a good attendance and everyone enjoys the Open Mic.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Dates and Readers for 2019, for The Literary Hour, John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC

Here are the readers and dates for the updated 2019 Literary Hour readings, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. You will notice that most months will have 3 readers, our best attempt to accommodate everyone who asked to read, so we have two months that can add another reader. We will start promptly at 7:00 PM, finishing by 8:00 or 8:15 PM.

Please contact Mary Ricketson for issues regarding this event at: maryricketson311@hotmail.com.

Wed, 3-20-19         Joan Howard

                                    Natalie Grant

                                    Mary Ricketson

Wed, 4-17-19          Bob Grove

                                    Carroll Taylor

                                    Joan Gage

Wed, 5-15-19          Carol Lynn Jones

                                    Kanute Rarey

                                    Rosemary Royston

Wed, 6-12-19          Brenda Kay Ledford

                                    Richard Cary

                                    Maren Mitchell

Thurs, 8-22-19       Karen Paul Holmes

                                    Carol Crawford

                                    Kenneth Chamlee

Thurs, 9-19-19       Martha O. Adams

                                    Loren Leith

                                    Glenda Barrett

Thurs, 10-17-19     Mary Mike Keller

                                    Glenda Beall

Thurs, 11-21-19      Janice Moore

                                    Linda Jones