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Learn how to publish in Great Smokies Writing Program

UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program will present 11 courses this spring for community writers including a new course experimenting with point of view in short fiction, and courses on poetry, memoir, non-fiction, writing for children and young adults, and advanced workshops to create polished “agent-ready” pages.

The Great Smokies program features some of Western North Carolina’s finest authors, and the courses, ranging from five to 15 weeks and designed for writers of different levels of experience, will be offered off campus in community locations in the Asheville area. Here’s a synopsis of the offerings:
• Where to Begin: Introduction to the Creative Writing Workshop, with Annie Frazier Crandell. You want to write, or you’ve started writing and want to take the next step. But, where to begin? In a supportive workshop setting, this course will cover basics and make encouraging suggestions for potential improvement help develop effective, moving, surprising, and well-crafted writing. Crandell is a writer, freelance editor, social media manager, and author’s assistant. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Paper Darts, Hypertrophic Literary, Longleaf Review, Still: The Journal, North Carolina Literary Review, and many more. Class meets for five weeks with location/days/times/start date to be announced.
• Fun with Form: Building Your Creative Nonfiction Inside Someone Else’s Shell, with Christine Hale. In contemporary creative nonfiction, one popular development is the use of “hermit crab” forms, in which a writer re-purposes an existing and decidedly not creative form – for example, a recipe or a rejection letter – as container or “shell” for their creative work. The resulting tension between form and content is sometimes funny and often poignant or satirical. In this class, participants will read many short examples of the form, discuss elements of craft, and have fun using writing prompts and other exercises. Hale is the author of a novel, Basil’s Dream and A Piece of Sky, Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations. She also teaches in the Antioch University-Los Angeles Low-Residency MFA. This 10-week course meets on Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. beginning Feb. 19, at Thomas Wolfe Memorial, 52 N. Market St., Asheville.
• Contemporary Poems of the Spirit: A Poetry Workshop with Luke Hankin. How are contemporary poets addressing spiritual and metaphysical impulses through language? In this class, participants will read selected contemporary poetry collections and write poems of meditation, contemplation, prayer, or inquiry. The course will not privilege any particular religious or spiritual perspective, but will be open to and interested in any and all perspectives and approaches. Hankins is the founder and editor of Orison Books and also serves as senior editor of Asheville Poetry Review. He is the author of a collection of poems, Weak Devotions, a collection of essays, The Work of Creation, and the editor of Poems of Devotion: An Anthology of Recent Poets. Hankins also teaches in the Lenoir-Rhyne University M.A. Writing Program. This 10-week course meets Thursdays, 6-8:30 p.m. beginning Feb. 20, at Hanger Hall, 64 W.T. Weaver Blvd., Asheville.
• The Devil You Know: The Art, Skill, and Thrill of Writing Your Memoir, with Brian Lee Knopp. “A memoir is neither a diary made public nor a rough draft of your obituary,” says Knopp. “Memoir writing is a heroic quest for clarity amid chaos, a daring rescue of the truth trapped inside your life’s labyrinth.” This course will focus on building up memory muscles, strengthening capacity for empathy and informed imagination, and improving language reflexes in order to convey personal experience in the most vivid, convincing and authentic narrative possible. Knopp is the author of the best-selling memoir Mayhem in Mayberry: Misadventures of a P.I. in Southern Appalachia. He also created and contributed to the 2012 collaborative mystery novel Naked Came the Leaf Peeper. His nonfiction work has appeared in Stoneboat Journal, WNC Magazine, and Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine. This 10-week course meets Thursdays 6-8:30 p.m. beginning Feb. 20, at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville.
• Composing the Personal Essay: A Creative Nonfiction Workshop, with Sebastian Matthews. This course, focused on writing and revising personal essays, will explore the elements and techniques employed in contemporary narrative nonfiction. Participants will workshop each other’s writing, and read and discuss a variety of contemporary personal essays, fiction and poetry. Matthews is the author of a memoir, In My Father’s Footsteps, and two books of poetry, We Generous and Miracle Day. His hybrid collection of poetry and prose, Beginner’s Guide to a Head-on Collision, won the Independent Publishers Book Award’s silver medal. This 10-week course meets Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. beginning Feb. 18, at the Asheville Jewish Community Center, 236 Charlotte St., Asheville.
• Heart of the Story: Writing for Children and Young Adults Fiction Workshop, with Joy Neaves and Amy Reed. This workshop welcomes students at all stages of the writing process who are interested in writing literature for children and young adults, including novels, picture books, and short fiction. It focuses on ways to use essential aspects of craft to develop dynamic characters and compelling plots with an emphasis on generating powerful scenes. A portion of the workshop will focus on the business of publishing and the best ways to approach editors and agents. Neaves has over 18 years of experience as an editor of children’s picture books, poetry, middle grade, and young adult fiction, for Front Street and at Boyds Mills Press. Reed has published 10 young adult novels including Nowhere Girls, which was optioned for a television series by Amazon. She also is the editor of the anthology, Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America. This 10-week course meets Mondays, 6-8:30 p.m. beginning Feb. 17, at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville.
• Whose Story Is It? Experiments with Point of View in Short Fiction, with Carolyn Ogburn. What difference does it make whether a story is told from a first-person point of view or a third-person perspective? When should a writer consider second person narration, or write from a collective point of view? What are the implications of writing from a singular perspective when addressing collective or structural concerns, and what are the ethics of writing from a perspective beyond one’s lived experience? Ogburn, UNC Asheville’s director of accessibility services, was recently awarded the Missouri Review’s 2019 Peden Prize for her short story, “Ordinary Time.” Other recent publications include Broadsides to Books, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Empty Mirror, and others. She has been a regular blogger for Ploughshares, and a contributing editor for Numero Cinq. This 10-week course meets Mondays, 6-8:30 p.m. beginning Feb. 17, at Hanger Hall, 64 W.T. Weaver Blvd., Asheville.
• The Element of Water in Creating Poetry and the Prose Poem: A Poetry Workshop with Katherine Soniat. Writers, musicians and artists of any type are welcome to participate in this class, providing both the time and space needed to investigate the shifting tabula rasa (blank space) upon which most art is designed/composed. Participants will discuss a few exemplary poems/prose poems, finding the fluidity and liquid new angles offered by this genre, and the particulars that make words jump off the page. Soniat’s The Swing Girl was selected as Best Collection of 2011 by the Poetry Commission of North Carolina. Her earlier work, A Shared Life, earned the Iowa Prize from the University of Iowa Press, and her Notes of Departure was published by the Walt Whitman Center for the Arts and Humanities. This 10-week course meets Tuesday from 6-8:30 p.m. beginning Feb. 18, at Hanger Halll, 64 W.T. Weaver Blvd., Asheville.
• Owning Up to Being a Writer: Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Workshop with Tommy Hays. “One of the hardest things about writing is admitting to others that we do it,” says Hays, an acclaimed novelist. ”After all, writing is first and foremost about being alone and writing. Yet it’s not until we take the next step and offer our work up to our community that we own up to what we’re attempting. And it’s usually not until we seek feedback, that we improve.” The class will be in part devoted to craft discussion, but the main emphasis will be reading and responding thoughtfully to each other’s work. Hays, executive director of the Great Smokies Writing Program, is the author of The Pleasure Was Mine, Sam’s Crossing, and In the Family Way, which was a selection of The Book of the Month Club and winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. His middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You, was chosen as an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA). This 15-week course meets Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. beginning Jan. 29 at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville. This workshop is aimed at writers with a work in progress, almost completed, or completed but in need of a final polishing. Each student will submit up to 60 pages (in increments of 20 during course) of work in progress for discussion and critique by the class and close editing with written comments by the instructor. Areas of focus will be: creating an intriguing opening, crafting a likable and/or engaging protagonist, weaving in back story in small, manageable doses, setting up a dilemma that begs to be resolved, and making the most of action scenes. The goal will be producing a page-turner that can catch the attention of an agent, editor, or publisher. Lane is the author of the Elizabeth Goodweather mystery series from Bantam Dell. This 15-week course meets Thursdays, 6-8:30 p.m. beginning Jan. 30, at Asheville School, 360 Asheville School Rd., Asheville.
• Prose Master Class: A Creative Prose Workshop with Elizabeth Lutyens (note – this class is already full, but a wait list is being collected) – This small-group workshop is limited to experienced writers who are working on an ongoing project: a collection of essays or stories, a novel, a memoir. The writer should have at least 60 pages ready to submit for three critiques during the semester. An equally important commitment is for class members to offer the best possible attention to the work of others. Admission is by permission from Tommy Hays or Elizabeth Lutyens, who has led this class for 10 years. A former journalist, Lutyens is editor-in chief of The Great Smokies Review, the online literary magazine published by UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program and UNC Asheville. This course meets Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. beginning Jan. 28, at Asheville School, 360 Asheville School Rd., Asheville.
The Great Smokies Writing Program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes taught by professional writers. To ensure that students receive individual attention from the instructor, enrollment is limited.
For those who qualify for in-state tuition, five-week courses cost $157.06; 10-week courses cost $314.12; 15-week courses cost $471.18. The costs are higher for out-of-state residents. Online registration is now available for GSWP courses; students took fall 2019 courses should look for the “current student registration form” link to avoid the application fee for new students. For more information and online registration, visit