Words from a member

You and the entire membership of Netwest have been an inspiration to me in my writing life. The group is a welcoming & encouraging gathering of like-people. Thank you for all you've done for others. It does not go unnoticed.
Nancy Purcell

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Mary Ricketson reads at Mountain Wordsmiths

 January 2022 begins a new year for Mountain Wordsmiths, a writers’ gathering sponsored by North Carolina Writers’ Network-West

We are not holding face-to-face meetings for our writers’ groups because of COVID, but we are continuing our online presence with Mountain Wordsmiths, which will meet on the fourth Thursday of each month on Zoom. On Thursday morning, January 27, at 10:30 a.m., our featured speaker will be well-known local poet Mary Ricketson.

Ricketson, who is from Murphy, North Carolina, has been writing poetry for over twenty-five years. Her poems have been published in Wild Goose Poetry Review, Future Cycle Press, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Lights in the Mountains, Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, Red Fox Run, It’s All Relative, Old Mountain Press, Whispers, and Disorgananza (private collection 2000). She has also published a chapbook, I Hear the River Call my Name, as well as five full-length poetry collections: Hanging Dog Creek (2014), Shade and Shelter (2018), Mississippi: The Story of Luke and Marian (2019), Keeping in Place ( 2021), and Lira, Poems of a Woodland Woman (2021). She won first place in the 2011 Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest 75th anniversary national poetry contest.

Inspired by nature and her role as a mental health counselor, her poems reflect the healing powers of nature, a path she follows from Appalachian tradition, with the surrounding mountains as midwife for her words.

Ricketson writes a monthly column, “Woman to Woman,” for Murphy’s weekly newspaper, The Cherokee Scout. She is a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, in private practice in Murphy, NC, and an organic blueberry farmer. More information about her may be found at www.maryricketson.com.

NC Writers’ Network-West is continuing to stay in touch and use technology to share our writing. We will offer writing events and writing classes online until we can safely meet face-to-face again.

We welcome those who were regulars at Coffee with the Poets and Writers, a popular meeting, which met at Moss Memorial Library. Those wishing to attend Mountain Wordsmiths may contact Carroll Taylor at vibiaperpetua@gmail.com to receive the Zoom link. Also, those who wish to participate in Open Mic may sign up upon entering the meeting. We welcome those who would simply like to listen to the beauty of wordsmithing.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Mary Ricketson will teach a virtual writing workshop

Mary Ricketson will teach a virtual writing workshop, The Nature of Writing, for the Carl Sandburg Home, Flat Rock NC.  

The workshop will offer an opportunity to deepen your experience with nature through a variety of writing techniques including observation, imagery, and reflection of self, through poetry and prose.  This workshop is open to all skill levels and writing genres.

The Nature of Writing

Sunday, January 23, 2022

3:00-5:00 PM EST

No fee

Click on the following link to obtain registration forms.  A zoom link will be provided after the submission of registration.


Friday, January 14, 2022


Carroll Taylor will return on Thursday, January 27, 10: 30 AM, with the online writing group, Mountain Wordsmiths. This is sponsored by NCWN-West and all members will receive a Zoom invitation to participate. The meeting begins with a featured writer, and 2022 kicks off with Mary Ricketson, poet, who published two books in 2021. Mary is very popular with poetry lovers in the southwestern mountains of North Carolina and in North Georgia. 

We will have more information about Mary and about the program on January 27 so stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Brenda Kay Ledford Interviewed on WKRK Radio Station

Brenda Kay Ledford appeared on the Clay County, NC Chamber of Commerce, December 03, 2021, over the WKRK Christian Radio in Murphy, NC.  Laura Hoft, executive director of the Chamber, interviewed Ledford about her new poetry book, Blanche, that was recently released by Redhawk Publishing.

You may view the program on:  facebook.com/pg/CountryGold/videos

Monday, November 29, 2021

When should you say, "I am a writer?"

I follow Bobbie Christmas, editor and writer, who lives in the Atlanta, Georgia area. She has earned her living as an editor and has run her own business for decades. In a post on her blog, she answers the question, "When can a person call himself or herself a writer?"

I suggest clicking on Bobbie's website, www.zebraeditor.com, and reading her blog posts, but below is part of her answer to the question.

People who are golfers read articles about golf, go to seminars about golf, and talk to other golfers about golfing. People who are writers read articles about writing, go to seminars about writing, and talk to other writers about writing. Golfers golf. Writers write. If you write, you are a writer. If you get published and/or get paid for writing, good for you, but those things aren’t the only way to determine whether you are a writer. Golfers don’t have to win the green jacket at the Masters Tournament to be considered golfers, do they?

Writers are people who have an avid interest in putting words and sentences together. It doesn’t matter if you never get paid for your writing. You write because you enjoy it, so you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if you write letters to the editor, articles for magazines, private journals never meant for the public, or bestselling novels. If you write, you are a writer."

Beginning writers always have concerns about this issue. As a writing instructor, I get questions. "I haven't published anything. Can I still identify myself as a writer?" 

I have been a writer since I was a child. I grew up wishing I were a writer, but I was a writer because I wrote stories, I wrote small books and I wrote poetry that no one read. You don't have to share your writing to be a writer. You don't have to publish your writing to be a writer. 

I think Bobbie Christmas gives us the best definition of a writer, don't you? If you write, love to write, and read about writing and writers, then you are a writer.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

One last Open Mic for 2021! Friday, December 3rd, 7:15 p.m., via Zoom

The Jackson branch of NCWN-West is offering one last Open Mic via Zoom for 2021, hosted by Jackson County co-rep Catherine Carter.  We welcome any or all of you who'd like to attend, which you can do by e-mailing Catherine (ccarter@email.wcu.edu) or Matt (mattnelson.poet01@gmail.com) for the link.  

Feel free to share the link with people you know personally who'd like to read or listen, but please do NOT post it online or share it in a public forum where you can't control who sees it, like open social media accounts; we were Zoom-bombed a couple of months ago, and Matt had to work fast to evict the trolls, who tried to ruin things for everyone.

Thank you!  We hope to see some of you there, and we only wish it could be in person so that we could provide holiday cookies.


 Please join Redhawk Publications as we have an end-of-year zoom session with our poets that have published their books over the past few months.


Jake Young, Mary Ricketson, Paul Jones, Schereeya, and Tim Peeler will answer questions and read their poems.

Join us! WED. DEC. 1st   6pm – 7:15pm….

Cute video because that’s what we do:  https://youtu.be/VGIVGcGDkdc

REGISTER FOR THE ZOOM LINK HERE: www.tinyurl.com/5poets1zoom

And why not buy your books in advance! 😉   www.redhawkpublications.com

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Congrats to Caesar!

Caesar Campana's latest book is
The Blood We Truly Bleed- A Fabergé Egg on Princess Place Island, has just been released.

You can order a paperback copy or the Kindle version on Amazon.

Here is what the book is about:

Tony Lazio is a baby boomer living in Orlando, Florida.  Stefan Lukavyy is a Russian immigrant escaping the Bolshevik Revolution. Even though their lives are separated by a hundred years and thousands of miles, their destinies come together. In this alternative historical fiction, our flawed heroes travel a dark path mapped with violence, murder, and accidental executions that involve Russia’s Imperial Family, Henry Flagler, Shaquille O’Neal, Mickey Mouse, and two stolen Fabergé Eggs. Eventually, the spirits (and bodies) of Tony and Stefan meet on a mystical island in the middle of the Matanzas River.

Open Mic 11 19 21

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Brenda Kay Ledford and Doreyl Ammons Cain Receive Paul Green Multimedia Awards

 Author Brenda Kay Ledford received the Paul Green Multimedia Award from North Carolina Society of Historians for her children's picture book, The Singing Convention, on November 14, 2021.

According to the NCSH judges, "Ledford's book is a gem capturing fully the spirit and sense of family that were part of the Singing Convention tradition in and around Hayesville, NC back at that time.

Doreyl Ammons Cain also received the Paul Green Award for illustrating this book.  The Society said the style and quality of the artwork wonderfully complement the verbal rendering of the spirit and excitement aroused in the Blue Ridge families by the anticipation and sheer joy of going  to the Singing Convention.  Masterfully done by author and artist alike.

Doreyl Ammons Cain illustrated The Singing Convention.

She is the founder of the Appalachian Mural Trail.

For information:  http://www.csabooks.com

Monday, November 15, 2021

Jackson Open Mic on Friday, November 19th

The Jackson County group of the North Carolina Writers' Network-West, supported by the splendid City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, will host its monthly Open Mic night via Zoom at 7:15 on Friday, November 19th.  If you'd like to attend, listen, and/or read, please e-mail Jackson County reps Matt Nelson (mattnelson.poet01@gmail.com) or Catherine Carter (ccarter@email.wcu.edu) to request it.  

If you do request and receive the link from us, please don't give it to anyone whose identity you aren't sure or, or publish it online--we're trying to prevent another Zoom-bombing.  But if you have friends who want to join in, by all means share with them privately--we're a welcoming group who love to hear new work.

Thanks!  We hope to see you in the virtual world!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Ledford Publishes Poetry Book

Redhawk Publications is excited to announce the release of Brenda Kay Ledford's poetry collection, Blanche: Poems of a Blue Ridge Woman. Ledford wrote this book in the voice of her late mother reflective of the lives of mountain women in the early 1900s to the present time.

Redhawk Publications Senior Editor Robert Canipe remarked:  "Blanche, Poems of a Blue Ridge Woman is a terrific depiction of mountain life in western North Carolina.  Readers are sure to be transported to the mountains with each new poem they read."

Redhawk Publications is an artistic initiative of the Catawba Valley Community College, publishing written works for the community, North Carolina, and United States.  CVCC is the only state community college with a publishing press.

You may order Brenda Kay Ledford's book at:  https://redhawkpublications.com

Her book is also available at the Beal Center; Hayesville, NC.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Reading from New Craft Book, The Strategic Poet

Editor Diane Lockward and Terrapin Books has just published another in a series of wonderful craft books. The Strategic Poet: Honing The Craft is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. 

Hi, Karen Paul Holmes here! In this 4 1/2 minute video, I read "Rewinding an Overdose on a Projector," a beautiful, heartbreaking poem by Sean Shearer who won a Pushcart Prize for it. I also read my poem, "Slow-Motion, Reverse-Replay, Myocardial Infarction," inspired by his and the prompt included in the book.  

Click here to watch. And you can find out a bit more about my poetry on my website. Thank you! 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Congratulations to John Desjarlais' for this recent publication

John Desjarlais is a member of NCWN West and lives in western NC

John Desjarlais' poem "The Museum of Unfinished Work" was accepted for publication in The Rockford Review's Winter 2022 issue.

A former producer with Wisconsin Public Radio, John has published three historical novels, three mysteries, and short fiction in a variety of periodicals including Critic, Lit Noir, Conclave, and Dappled Things. He lives in Hendersonville, NC.

Explore Higher Mysteries

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Glenda Beall interviews Ed Southern

We appreciate the Executive Director of NCWN and author of Fight Songs, Ed Southern taking the time to answer these questions. I have read this book considered one of the best sportsbooks you will read, and found it is all about the south and our southern fanaticism about college football as well as our history. Although I am not a sports fan, I found it totally engaging and it kept me reading page after page. Be sure you join us on Zoom when Ed is featured on Writers' Night Out, sponsored by NC Writers' Network-West, November 12, 7:00 PM. Contact me at glendabeall@msn.com if you want to sign up for Open Mic that evening.

GLENDA: I grew up in a male-dominated household that loved sports. I never played team sports and am not a football fan. Please tell me why someone like me will enjoy your book.

ED: Fight Songs isn’t really about sports. It’s about the roles that sports play in our culture and in our lives, and how and why they took on those roles. I like to think that anyone with an interest in the South would enjoy this book.

GLENDA: Your wife, Jamie, is a huge football fan and she is from Alabama. Your love story is told throughout the book. How did she influence you as a football fan?

ED: My football fandom was pretty well fully formed by the time we met, but she certainly reinforced it. Watching football and reading are our only two shared hobbies.

GLENDA:  Some of the men in my family, when UGA lost a game, said it ruined the entire following week for them.  Are you the kind of fan who takes losing this seriously?

ED: I can’t be: I’m a Wake Forest fan. Wake lost way too many games for me to let them ruin my entire week. I’d have never had a good week growing up.

GLENDA: You say that NC is more of a basketball state than a football state. Why are sports fans in NC more interested in basketball?

ED: Well, you have to read Fight Songs to get the full story, but the short answer is that NC college basketball teams won national championships, and college football teams didn’t. The question then is, Why?

GLENDA: North Carolina is known for great writers, its higher education and medical centers. In your book, you say that some southern sports fans claim that NC is not really a southern state and the south ends with South Carolina. How is NC different from the deep south states?

ED: The short answer is, one, NC didn’t have as large or as powerful an antebellum plantation aristocracy as the Deep South states; and, two, the state had a longer time between its “frontier” period and the Civil War. Really, though, we’re not all that different than the Deep South. We just managed to avoid having demagogues in our governor’s mansion during the Civil Rights Movement. We managed to keep a better public image.

 GLENDA: My husband, Barry, was obsessed with college football and particularly the SEC. He taught my niece to love and understand the game of football. It is hard for me to understand the passion men have for the sport and harder to understand it in women. Does it have anything to do with the male ego or does it have to do with belonging to a group of like-minded men?

ED: I’m sure male ego has a lot to do with it for some men. I’m sure the sense of belonging – which can be healthy or unhealthy – has a lot to do with it for some people, male and female. 

I love it for many reasons. I love how the game combines great intricacy of technique and tactics with brute force and raw speed. I love that it’s usually played outdoors, in the fall. I love how you find a story – a set-up, rising suspense, climax, and resolution – not only in every game, but in every snap of the ball, and in every season as a whole. I love the sense of community I feel, and how it connects me with my friends and family.

 GLENDA: Fight Songs, your book, began as an essay but became a highly praised book. Will you tell us how this happened and how a fun little love story about sports, became what is called “one of the greatest sports books you will ever read?”

ED: My editor at Blair, Robin Miura, also edits an online magazine called South Writ Large. I spoke to her about the essay for SWL. She passed on it but asked if I’d be interested in expanding the essay into a book. I didn’t think there was enough there for a book, but she convinced me otherwise, and she was right.

GLENDA: You say that football is a game of violence and basketball is a game of assertion. I don’t enjoy football because I abhor the violence on the field and the violent language in the stands. Since deep south fans seem to be rabid about football, is it the violence, the physical damage done to the players that intrigue them?

ED: For some, I’d imagine that it is. Some may be sadists who like watching damage done to others. Some may imagine the players as their avatars, inflicting damage on their behalf. I don’t think that’s limited to football fans in the Deep South.

I think what appeals more in the South is how football embodies notions of domination and honor, notions that held sway in most of the South long before anyone saw a football.

GLENDA: There is talk lately of paying college football players who earn millions of dollars for the colleges where they play. If they get hurt playing for their college team and can never play professional ball, their hopes of earning anything from the game are doomed. In your research did you find support for this and what do you think?

ED: Yes, public opinion has turned in favor of paying college athletes. College football and men’s basketball have generated tremendous revenue for decades, but that revenue has grown exponentially since the 1980s, with the rise of TV contracts. It’s way past time for the players to get a fair share of that.

GLENDA: Will you tell us how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced sports and the fans. What were the major effects, and will they last after the pandemic is finally over?

ED: Again, you really have to read the book to get the full answer to that. The pandemic influenced some fans greatly. They began taking sports less seriously, willingly stayed away from games, even lost their fandom entirely. Others, though, weren’t influenced by the pandemic at all. They saw it as an inconvenience, keeping them from watching their beloved games.

I think the widespread effects will not last, once the pandemic ends. I think the effects on individuals might.

GLENDA: You are just coming off a book tour.  Did your publisher schedule the tour or did you plan and pay for it?

ED: My publisher and I worked together to plan it, and they scheduled it.

GLENDA: What did you like and what did you dislike about the tour?

ED: I loved visiting people and places I hadn’t seen in a while, and I was humbled by readers’ enthusiasm for this book. I disliked touring during a pandemic, which was fraught with fears and doubts.

GLENDA: Do you have a certain place and/or time when you write?

ED: I usually write early in the morning, before anyone else has woken up. I like the quiet.

GLENDA: Thank you, Ed, so much for giving us your time to answer these questions. We appreciate your being our guest on Writers’ Night Out, November 12. I am sure our members and others will want to meet you and hear more about this interesting book.










Saturday, October 30, 2021

Carole Thompson - Poem accepted for publication in November

Congratulations to Carole Thompson resident of Union County, Georgia who has been a member and supporter of NCWN-West for many years.  While grieving the passing of her husband, she wrote and submitted a poem. 

Carole Thompson

This is what Carole said, "I was so pleased to receive the good news that my poem, “Sounds of Life” has been accepted for publication in the November 2021 issue of POEM , the Literary Association’s Journal out of Huntsville, AL. They only print 2 journals a year, so I was surprised I heard back from them in only a month.  Just wrote this poem a couple of months ago." 

Carole's poems, fiction, and narrative nonfiction have been published in magazines, journals, and reviews. She also published Enough, a book of poems.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Ledford's Story Published

 Brenda Kay Ledford (left) and her mom, (Blanche L. Ledford).

Brenda Kay Ledford's story about her mother, "Pennies From Heaven," has been published  on the "Daily Inspired Life," website.


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Jackson County Open Mic for November--save the date!

The Jackson County group of the North Carolina Writers' Network-West, supported by the splendid City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, will host its monthly Open Mic night via Zoom at 7:15 on Friday, November 19th.  If you'd like to attend, listen, and/or read, please e-mail Jackson County reps Matt Nelson (mattnelson.poet01@gmail.com) or Catherine Carter (ccarter@email.wcu.edu) to request it.  We were Zoom-bombed last time, and though Matt's quick work evicted the trolls in less than a minute, it wasn't pretty--so if you do request and receive the link from us, please don't give it to anyone whose identity you aren't sure or, or publish it online.  Thanks!  We hope to see you in the virtual world!