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Write What Should Not Be Forgotten…

expoThe words of the great Chilean writer Isabel Allende served as our theme last night at the first-ever Creative Writing Expo at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro. And it was indeed a night to remember!

Even with chilly temperatures and icy rain, nearly 30 brave souls gathered for a mini-class on flash essays. I didn’t have a chance to talk personally with every student, but I spoke with many who actually penned something last night worthy of publication and more, even the makings of a memoir. In fact, at least three students brought something with them! Incredible. I never fail to be delighted and astounded by the courage of writers to find the words to tell their stories.

After the class, our champion, CCCC Associate Dean Felicia Crittenden, took center stage to recognize our additional instructors, including Tom Dow, Judith Stanton, June Guralnick, Dolly Sickles, Mary Barnard, and Steve Underwood, all of whom are also offering classes in Spring 2020. And then we were delighted to hear Kim Overcash, CCCC English Instructor and member of the Committee for the Creative Writing Program unveil a scholarship program, which will allow eligible students to attend a class for free once each semester!

cake

Door prizes followed, and then we spent another half hour enjoying fellowship and this luscious cake baked and decorated by Cakes by Elizabeth.

But it doesn’t stop here! If you caught the fever for creative writing, I do hope you’ll register for a Spring 2020 class AND join us on December 5 for the winter open mic night on Thursday, December 5, 2019 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.  The readings will be held at The Joyful Jewel in lovely downtown Pittsboro, NC. Light refreshments will be served!

See you soon!

 

Get Ready for the Creative Writing Expo!

cccc1Are you as excited as we are? I hope so! The First-Ever Creative Writing Expo sponsored by the Central Carolina Community College Creative Writing Program is just three days away!

WHEN: Thursday, November 14 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Central Carolina Community College, Pittsboro campus, Building 42, Multipurpose Room, First Floor.

RSVP: Pre-registration is not required, but we encourage you to RSVP by calling the Continuing Education Office at 919-545-8044 during business hours.

WHAT: As part of this FREE special event, you’ll get to experience first hand an abbreviated workshop on the flash essay. We’ll review a few of the best essays being published today, and I’ll give away a secret that every aspiring essayist must know!

post it notesFUN STUFF: In addition to inspiration, food, and fellowship, we’ll also be giving away some very exciting door prizes….including a year’s supply of Post-It Notes! That’s right. Sticky notes are perfect for jotting down those little nuggets of inspiration in a writer’s life. Images, bits of conversation, universal truths, and more–all those little details that add zest to your writing. Check out the ZESTY colors!

EXTRA: This little workshop is just a sample of the dynamic and inspirational courses that we offer at Central Carolina Community College. Each semester, you’ll find a smorgasbord of courses meant to cultivate the writer in you, from poetry to short stories and memoir, and so much more. At the Expo, you’ll also be able to meet several of our dynamic instructors and fellow students for yourself. Check out the Spring 2020 Course Offerings here.

We hope to see you on Thursday!

 

 

Mark Your Calendar for the Creative Writing Expo on November 14!

Join us for the First Annual Creative Writing Expo!

Thursday, November 14, 2019, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Central Carolina Community College, Pittsboro
Building 42, Multi-Purpose Room

writingDo you dream of seeing your writing appear in print one day?

Would you like to learn more about the one and only Creative Writing Certificate offered by Central Carolina Community College?

If so, please join us on November 14!

INSPIRATION * FUN * FELLOWSHIP

    • 6:30 – 7:15 p.m. – FREE Workshop on the Flash Essay. Due to the popularity of memoir, the short-form (or flash) essay is popping up everywhere. Instructor Ashley Memory, whose work has appeared in O. Henry, Women on Writing, Romantic Homes, Raleigh News and Observer and more, will share what you need to know to pen your own short essays, including THE ONE TIP no serious writer can afford to miss!
    • 7:15 – 8 p.m. – Meet our champion, CCCC Associate Dean Felicia Crittenden and our instructors, hear success stories of current students, and learn about our Spring 2020 Course Offerings, including how you can earn the Creative Writing Certificate!
    • 8 – 8:30 p.m. – Enjoy refreshments and spend one-on-one time with instructors and students. Door Prizes! 🎁

 

The Expo is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required, but we encourage you to RSVP by calling the Continuing Education Office at 919-545-8044.

“A true piece of writing is a dangerous thing; it can change your life.” – Tobias Wolff

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Braving the Slush Pile in Pittsboro!

Slush PileOur mission was brutal. The email from Al Manning, the head of Pittsboro Writers’ Morning Out went something like this:

Pretend you’re an editor of a prestigious publishing house. It’s Friday afternoon. You’ve had a busy week and you’re still staring at a stack of unsolicited manuscripts–the dreaded Slush Pile. You’re tired and you want to go home. You’ll raise your hand as soon as you hear something that would cause you to reject the manuscript in front of you.

Yesterday I had the honor of serving as a panelist (along with writers Ron Voigts and Judith Stanton) at the 3rd Annual Slush Pile event at the Pittsboro Writers’ Morning Out meeting. As we listened to the 300 words submitted anonymously by the brave ten writers who participated, we agreed, disagreed, and agreed to disagree on the elements that would cause a busy editor to move to the next manuscript in the pile.

And that’s what editors do. What I liked most about a manuscript didn’t necessarily appeal to the other panelists and vice versa. It goes without saying that writing submitted to an editor shouldn’t contain typos or grammatical errors; these are easily caught by a diligent proofreader. We truly didn’t see many of these–the majority of the manuscripts we reviewed were quite polished and free from pesky errors of this nature.

To help, I’ll share what resonated the most with our panel in terms of style. The manuscripts we “rescued” from the slush pile shared four basic elements:

  • Strong opening–and this includes the title!
  • Engaging and unique characters. What’s your character’s point of view?
  • A good blend of exposition and action. And by action, I also mean dialogue.
  • Conflict and tension. What’s at stake for your character? Why should we care?

Above all else, if you’re writing, submitting, and braving a very real slush pile, it’s most important that you NEVER despair. Don’t give up. Editors are, after all, human and have their own peculiarities as far as taste and style. So, if you find yourself drifting in a slush pile, pull out that manuscript days (or weeks!) later, and view it with fresh eyes.

And as you revise your work and prepare to share it with the world, please consider joining me for your choice of two separate workshops in 2020 on the subject of submission. We’ll talk about revisions, cover letters, markets, and much, much more.

Check out my Events page for more information and how to register.

 

Wobbling the World at Charlotte Lit

charlotte litIf you felt the world wobble on Saturday, October 12, you may have felt the reverberation of laughter, tears, even the tiny buzz of collective endorphins circling the table at the Charlotte Center for Literary Arts, Inc. (or Charlotte Lit).

This was the third time I’ve had the pleasure of leading a workshop on flash essays, (previously at Central Carolina Community College and the Joyful Jewel, both in Pittsboro) and Saturday brought a special delight. The cheerful space at Charlotte Lit (a former school), the hospitality of our hosts, and the enthusiasm of the writers who attended brought a vibrant energy that continues to inspire me in my own work.

But it doesn’t end there! On January 4, 2020, the momentum continues, as we explore the submission of our writing (whether essays, poetry, or fiction) to contests and publications. There are still a few spaces left, so I hope you join us and learn more about how to Share Your Writing With the World.

Nothing makes me happier than being around other writers and encouraging them to find their voices. I’m currently polishing up a busy spring schedule of other events, so please continue to visit my Events page for the very latest.

And I’ll share a secret. Shhh….on March 7, I’m doing a brand new workshop at Central Carolina Community College on the most radical technique I’ve ever shared. (Hint: Ever wanted to write a complete short story in just one day?) You might just feel an earthquake with this one.

 

A Day of True Stories at Central Carolina Community College!

There were startup-594090__480giggles. There were sighs. And there were some tears. But overall, Conference Room 103G in Building 42 at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro quaked with joy yesterday. With 11 students, we were almost at full capacity, which says a lot for the power of creative writing.

 

“Who else do you know,” I asked the students, “who would rather be here than outside on a gorgeous day like today?”

To their credit, those 11 brave souls chose to spend six hours writing, reading, and writing again. Writing from real life takes a special kind of courage, and it’s more than a little cathartic.

We wrote of our upbringing, our love stories, our dearest memories and our scariest moments. We even confessed our most embarrassing episodes. Whatever we wrote, we wrote from the heart. Every single word was true. And we did it all in miniature. In most cases, less than 500 words!

Flash essays are suddenly wildly popular, especially on the heels of the surge in flash fiction. But the truth is that little essays have always been in style. Remember those little gems in Reader’s Digest? Life in These United States….All in Day’s Work, etc? Most major publications now want your littlest stories too, from The New York Times to national magazines like Psychology Today to state magazines such as Carolina Country. In fact, the list of markets (including contests) was so vast it took up two whole pages in our handouts!

Want more flash essays? If so, consider joining me for an abbreviated version of this same workshop in Charlotte on Saturday, October 12 at the Charlotte Center for Literary Arts. There’s just one seat left in that class, so don’t delay! We’ll share writing tips and prompts, and I guarantee that you will end up with more than one draft of a saleable essay.

Also, as you polish your stories, look ahead to January 4, 2020, when we’ll hold a special workshop for all writers on Submissions and Contests, also at the Charlotte Center for Literary Arts. Join us, make some new friends, and prepare to share your writing with the world.

Register for The Fabulous World of Flash Essays on October 12.

Register for Submissions and Contests on January 4.

And top secret! Stay tuned for a special  workshop next spring. I’m very excited because it’s an entirely new topic for me, and we’re taking a very unconventional approach. 🙂

I hope to see you soon. Until I do, keep writing and delighting!

 

 

 

Randolph Writers Rock Flash Fiction!

flash fiction picture

We had a marvelous time at the monthly gathering of Randolph Writers last night at the Asheboro Public Library! It was a lively evening of prompts, readings and discussion on one of my favorite topics–flash fiction!

There are so many things to adore about this wonderful genre. Flash fictions or “flashes” offer everything I adore about longer stories–characters, voice, plot, and imagery–but all within a very short space, and some flashes (like “Hint” fiction) are even less than 25 words! Writing flash fiction helps you master the art of compression, build a daily writing practice, and if you like, can lay the pipe for longer works such as a traditional short story or even a novel.

flashfiction2 We opened the evening with an instant prompt, and all the participants kindly indulged me by penning a story on a page from those old-fashioned pink message pads. Remember those? I was blown away by the creativity of all the writers, and their bravery at trying this unusual prompt.

The use of a message pad is an example of a “fixed-form narrative,” which is a very popular form for writers and readers.  Writers, if you’re stumped by how to accelerate a story, consider writing in it in the form of an email, a letter, a diary entry, or as suggested by our participants: a “purchase requisition” or a “new account” form!

We also delved into some longer works (between 250 – 1,000 words), and among others, explored the writing of Nancy Stohlman (“Death-Row Hugger”), Allen Goodman (“Wallet”), Heinrich Boller (“The Laugher”), and David Galef (“My Date with Neanderthal Woman.”) And even though we had only two hours together, we managed to squeeze out two more stories of our own, inspired by these authors. And then there was the bonus — all the laughter, joy, and maybe even a few misty eyes.

Another benefit, and perhaps the greatest benefit of all, is that flash fiction allows writers yet another way to share our stories with others. Because it’s shorter, it’s unusually accessible and unpretentious, thereby offering “instant community.” Writing is primarily a solitary act, but even so, the art must be fed by support and encouragement. If this sounds good to you, I hope you’ll consider attending (or even joining!) Randolph Writers. We meet on the third Tuesday evening of every month, and welcome writers of all levels.

Many thanks to my fellow Randolph Writers for allowing me to present, and particularly to President Sayword B. Eller, who is an accomplished writer (and MFA candidate!) herself. She regularly offers tips for all of us. Please check out her terrific podcast “About This Writing Thing” or her new Author Tube channel!

In the meantime, keep writing and delighting!
Ashley