Keynote James Reston, Jr.

JAMES RESTON’s newest book , A Rift in the The Earth: Art, Memory and The Fight For A Vietnam War Memorial  will be released on September 9th ! Author of 17 books, three plays, and numerous articles in national magazines.  Winner of Prix Italia and the Dupont-Columbia Award for his chilling 1983 ninety-minute radio documentary on National Public Radio, “Father Cares: the Last of Jonestown.” His last six historical works, Galileo: A Life, The Last Apocalypse, Warriors of God, Dogs of God, and Defenders of the Faith and Luther’s Fortress have been translated into thirteen foreign languages.  Warriors of God, The Innocence of Joan Little, and Collision at Home Plate have been optioned by Hollywood.  The Last Apocalypse was a main selection of the Book of the Month Club.  Warriors of God is an international best seller with over 200,000 copies sold world-wide and still selling.  Fragile Innocence, his memoir of bringing up his handicapped daughter, reached #8 on the Washington Post best seller list.  Member, Authors Guild of America.

In 1976-1977, Reston was David Frost’s Watergate adviser for the famous Frost/​Nixon Interviews, seen by 57 million people world-wide.  His narrative of that experience was published in 2007 and entitled The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/​Nixon Interviews and was the main inspiration to the British playwright, Peter Morgan, in the making of his hit London play, “Frost/​Nixon.”  Reston is a major character and the narrator of the play.  In the Hollywood adaptation of the play, directed by Ron Howard and nominated for five Academy Awards, Reston is played by the actor Sam Rockwell.

His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Time, The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Esquire, American Theatre, Playboy, and Rolling Stone.  He recently contributed the Foreword to the National Geographic book, Eyewitness to History.

His three plays are “Sherman the Peacemaker,” Chapel Hill, N.C., 1979 & 2015; “Jonestown Express,” Providence, R.I., 1983; and “Galileo’s Torch,” Flint Hill, Va., 2014.  Member, Dramatists Guild of America

He has lectured widely in the United States (Smithsonian, Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Center) and overseas on the millennium, the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Ottomans at Vienna, citing their relevance to modern issues…..and about the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 2014.

He has been a fellow at the American Academy in Rome,a fellow at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

Born in New York in 1941, he was raised in Washington, D.C. and attended the University of North Carolina on a Morehead Scholarship where he earned his B.A. in philosophy.  At UNC he was an All South soccer player and after forty-two years still holds the single game scoring record for the university (5 goals against N.C. State, October 18, 1962).  He attended Oxford University for his junior year.

Reston was an assistant to U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Steward Udall, 1964-65. U.S. Army, 1965-68.  Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of North Carolina, 1971-81.  Newsweek, PBS, and BBC candidate to be the first writer on the NASA space shuttle.

Married, with three children.  Lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Banquet Keynote Ronni Lundy

RONNI LUNDY, the author of Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes (Clarkson Potter, 2016), has been writing about the food, music and culture of the southern Appalachians and the American South for more than 30 years.  NEWS FLASH: Victuals has won the 2017 James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook, and also Book of the Year!

Of Victuals, Chef Sean Brock has written: “Flipping through these pages makes me want to hug my mom and plant some greasy beans.  I’ve been waiting a long time for Ronni to write the definitive story of Appalachian cooking, because she is the only one capable of doing so.  Sit back and prepare yourself to discover the wonders of the Appalachian Mountains.  The wisdom and flavors within these pages deserve your full attention.”  Emmylou Harris says “Victuals is so much more than just another cookbook.  It’s a marvelous travelogue and history of an under-appreciated and often misrepresented part of America, its people and culture, written lovingly by my friend Ronni.  Still, as I finished the last pages, with their stunning illustrations, I couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen and try my hand at the delicious recipes she has gathered for all of us who just plain love good food.”

Ronni’s other nine books, include Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken (Atlantic, 1990), named by Gourmet as one of the six essential cookbooks on Southern food, and Sorghum’s Savor, (University Press of Florida, 2015).  Lundy was also the editor of Cornbread Nation 3: Foods of the Mountain South. (University of North Carolina Press, 2005).

A founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, she is a former board member and recipient of that organization’s Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing her work as a writer covering both food and music.  She has served as writer and/or editor at newspapers (Louisville Times/Courier Journal), magazines (Gourmet, Esquire, Eating Well, The Zenchilada, Louisville) and as editor at Lark Books.  She is a frequent reader for university presses including Kentucky, North Carolina, Illinois, Mississippi and Chicago.  She has focused on foodways, music, ritual and memory.

Lundy is also a founder of the Appalachian Food Summit.  In addition to the James Beard Awards, her work has received awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Association of Food Journalists, and Kentucky’s Sigma Delta Chi.

Born in Corbin, Kentucky and raised in Louisville with strong ties to the mountains, she often writes from the perspective and about the experience of the Appalachian diaspora.  She is happy to find herself in her beloved mountains again as a present resident of Burnsville.  Photo by Pableaux Johnson

BROCK ADAMS’ novel Ember won the South Carolina First Novel Prize and will be published by Hub City Press in 2017.  His short stories have appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, The Sewanee Review, Bacopa Literary Review, and many other journals.  He has won the Andrew Lytle Prize in Fiction and received second place in Playboy’s College Fiction Contest.  His first collection of short stories, Gulf, was published in America and Italy in 2010. Adams lives with his wife and daughter in Spartanburg, SC, where he teaches at the University of South Carolina Upstate.


JAYE ROBIN BROWN, or JRo to her friends, has been many things in her life–jeweler, mediator, high school art teacher–but recently she’s taken the plunge into full-time writer life.  She’s a Southerner at heart, by way of Alabama, then Atlanta, and for many years just outside of Asheville, but now she’s moved north for a bit of city living.  Boston, baby! And though she’d like to think brownstones might find a way into her fiction, she figures kudzu will always be what comes to her imagination first.  She is the author of the young adult novels No Place To Fall and Georgia Peaches & Other Forbidden Fruit, along with the novella, Will’s Story (all from Harper Teen).  In addition, she has an essay in the forthcoming Our Stories, Our Voices: 20 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America, releasing 2018 from Simon Pulse.


LUCY CORIN is the author of two short story collections,  One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses (McSweeney’s Books) and The Entire Predicament (Tin House Books) as well as a novel, Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls (FC2). She won an American Academy of Arts and Letters Rome Prize and is currently an NEA fellow.  Recent work appears in Harpers, Ploughshares, and Bomb.  She lives in Asheville and Northern California, teaches at the University of California at Davis, and is at work on a novel.


MARK ESSIG is the author of Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig (Basic Books, 2015) and Edison & the Electric Chair (Walker & Co., 2003), which was named one of the year’s best science books by Discover Magazine. He has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Atlas Obscura,, and Gravy, the magazine of the Southern Foodways Alliance.  He has worked as reporter, editor, and copy editor at the Los Angeles Times community news division, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, and the Asheville Citizen-Times.  He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Cornell University and a bachelor’s degree in English and religious studies from the University of Virginia.  He has taught history and American studies at Cornell and journalism at Warren Wilson College.  A native of St. Louis, he lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Frances Ruthe Figart (pronounced Fié-gert) has always focused on words and language.  While editing the monthly magazine for the National Tour Association based in Lexington, Kentucky, she became passionate about ecotourism and sustainable travel.  This led her to live in Canada and Costa Rica, supporting a small kayak tour operator as director of marketing and communications.  She returned to Kentucky in 2010 to help her mother, Ruthe, die with grace and dignity. After this transition, Frances moved to Asheville, North Carolina, in 2013 to start life anew.  Her new book, Seasons of Letting Go: Most of what I know about truly living I learned by helping someone die, chronicles her grief and the process of reinventing herself after her mom’s death.  With her sights set on working again in magazine publishing, she was hired by the city’s popular arts and culture monthly, The Laurel of Asheville, and is now its editor.  She lives north of Asheville on six acres in a small mountain community with her husband, artist John Philip Beaudet, two cats, Grendel and Oki, and two Australian Shepherds, Dukkha and Ivy.  (Frances will be the Festival Outreach Speaker at three area Senior Centers.)

Since the early 1970’s, BRUCE GREENE has been playing and preserving the traditional music of Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina. He learned to play from some of the last living fiddlers, banjo payers, and singers of these regions, whose music had been passed down from the 1800’s.This foundation helped him build upon a style and repertoire unlike any other. Forty years ago, Bruce’s playing more closely mirrored the sources he learned from, but today, it has developed into his own unique style, which still retains many of the traditional elements that make his music sound authentic and ancient. His repertoire includes a vast number of obscure and crooked fiddle tunes, little-known traditional songs and hymns, and the local folk music of his home here in the Toe River valley. His first-hand relationships with older generation traditional musicians give him a unique perspective on the legends and lore that are an intrinsic part of his music. With the support of the Toe River Arts Council, Bruce has recently recorded a CD, River In Time: Traditional Songs and Fiddle Tunes From the Toe River Valley, a collection of music he has learned from friends and neighbors over the past forty years.  Bruce has taught fiddle classes on and off for some years, at festivals and gatherings including Augusta, Swannanoa, Mars Hill, and The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes.


MARJORIE HUDSON was born in a small town in Illinois, raised in Washington, D.C., and now lives and writes in rural North Carolina.  A 2012 Arts Council Fellowship recipient, Hudson has published stories, essays, and poems in 5 anthologies and many magazines and journals, including Story, Yankee, West Branch, Garden & Gun, and National Parks.  Two of her stories were Pushcart Special Mentions. Hudson’ short story collection, Accidental Birds of the Carolinas,  received many honors—it was a PEN/Hemingway Honorable Mention for Distinguished First Fiction, a Novello Literary Award Finalist, Perpetual Folly Best Story Collection of the Year, and a nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Award.  Reviewers have compared her work to that of Alice Munro and Thomas Hardy.  The stories explore the struggles and wonderment of newcomers encountering an almost mystical American South. From English explorers to runaway brides, from carnies to retirees, all seek a place to rest, a new home in a strange land.  Hudson is also author of Searching for Virginia Dare, a North Carolina Arts Council Notable Book.  Written in a mosaic form that  includes reportage, interview, road trip, lyric line, fiction, and memoir, it explores the mysterious fate of America’s first English baby born in the New World–part of the famous Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, a North Carolina Arts Council Notable Book.  Hudson teaches adult writers in her weekly  Kitchen Table Workshops, and she lectures on history and creative writing through the North Carolina Humanities Council Road Scholars program. A community literary activist, Hudson has created and directed coffeehouses, salons, fundraisers, community reads, community writing programs, literary festivals and conferences.  Recipient of fellowships and residencies at Headlands Center for the Arts (Sausalito, CA), Ucross (Wyoming), the Hemingway Foundation, and Hedgebrook Center for Women Writers, in 2000 she was named Sarah Belk Gambrell Artist Educator of the Year.  Her MFA in Creative Writing is from Warren Wilson College.  For more information, see www.marjoriehudson.comPhoto credit Anne Anthony


JEREMY B. JONES is the author of Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland, which won the 2014 Appalachian Book of the Year in nonfiction and a Gold medal for memoir in the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards.  His essays appear in Oxford American, The Iowa Review, Brevity, and regularly in Our State Magazine, and they have twice been named Notable in Best American Essays.  He teaches creative writing at Western Carolina University and is the series co-editor for In Place, a literary nonfiction book series from Vandalia Press, the creative imprint of West Virginia University Press.  Photo credit Byron Collins


JEANNE JULIAN’s chapbook, Blossom and Loss, was published by Longleaf Press.  Her poems have appeared in Bindweed, Poetry Quarterly, Kakalak, Prairie Wolf Press Review, The Main Street Rag, The Lascaux Prize 2016 Anthology, and other journals.  Her work also has won awards in competitions sponsored by The Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, The North Carolina Poetry Society, The Lanier Library, and the Asheville Writers’ Workshop.  She recently initiated a poetry-writing course for the Adult Enrichment Program at Craven Community College.  Her photography illustrates covers of Hartskill Review and Kakalak 2016, and she was the featured photographer in moonShine review (2015).  A graduate of Allegheny College, she has an MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  She lives on a creek in New Bern, NC, where she makes an effort to garden when not distracted by tennis and yoga.


BRIDGETTE A. LACY is an award-winning journalist with a public love affair with food and culture.  She served as a longtime features and food writer for the Raleigh News & Observer.  She writes about food, chefs and culinary trends for The Independent Weekly and the North Carolina Arts Council.  She’s the author of Sunday Dinner, a part of the Savor the South series by UNC Press and a finalist for the Pat Conroy Cookbook Prize.  Lacy is also a contributor to The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food, edited by Randall Kenan (Eno Publishers, 2016)


JOHN LANE is Professor of English and environmental studies at Wofford College and director of the college’s Goodall Environmental Studies Center.  Lane is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose including six from the University of Georgia Press.  His latest from UGA is Coyote Settles the South.  His Abandoned Quarry: New & Selected Poems includes much of Lane’s published poetry over the past 30 years, plus a selection of new poems. His new book of poems, Anthropocene Blues is forthcoming in 2017. Lane’s first novel Fate Moreland’s Widow was published by the late Pat Conroy’s Story River books in early 2015.  He has won numerous awards, including the 2001 Phillip D. Reed Memorial Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment by the Southern Environmental Law Center.  In 2011 he won the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, and in 2012 Abandoned Quarry won the SIBA (Southeastern Independent Booksellers Alliance) Poetry Book of the Year prize.  As an environmentalist, Lane was named the 2013 Water Conservationist of the Year by The South Carolina Wildlife Federation, and the Clean Water Champion by Upstate Forever.  In 2014 he was inducted into the SC Academy of Authors.  He, with his wife Betsy Teter, is one of the co-founders of Spartanburg’s Hub City Writers Project.


A native of Edgefield, South Carolina, J. DREW LANHAM is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature.  He is a birder, naturalist, and hunter-conservationist who has published essays and poetry in publications including OrionAudubonFlycatcher, and Wilderness, and in several anthologies, including The Colors of NatureState of the HeartBartram’s Living Legacy, and Carolina Writers at Home.  An Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University, he and his family live in the Upstate of South Carolina, a soaring hawk’s downhill glide from the southern Appalachian escarpment that the Cherokee once called the Blue Wall.  His most recent book is The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, published by Milkweed Editions, September 2016.


ANNE MAREN-HOGAN, a poet-gardener, relishes farm life with her husband in the South Toe Valley beneath Mt.Mitchell.  Her childhood on an Iowa farm, which her family still farms, provides material for her poetry, as deep and rich as the black earth from which she comes.  Anne began writing poetry after raising children and gives credit to her writing group for their edits and insight. Her first chapbook, The Farmer’s Wake, was published by Finishing Line Press. Her second chapbook, Laying the Past in the Light, recently published by Longleaf Press, looks at the mystery of death and resurgent power of landscape.



RAY MCMANUS grew up on a dirt road in rural South Carolina in a working class, Irish-American family. Bored and angry, McManus found poetry by accident while serving detention in high school. According to McManus, he just happened to be sitting at the desk when the teacher placed an anthology of poetry in front of him. “I didn’t grow up with poetry in my house, so that book was really my first introduction to so many great poets: Frost, Dickinson, Whitman, Eliot, Lowell, Bishop, Plath, etc.  I loved that book so much that I stole it.”  When asked how he went from delinquency to writing poetry, McManus shrugs, “it was the same for me, especially at first.  All my early poems were acts of vandalism. I left poems in margins of books I didn’t own, bathroom walls, desks.”  At 44, McManus’s poems and prose have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.  His poems can be quirky, sometimes funny, sometimes quite dark, often all at the same time.  His first book, Driving Through the Country Before You Are Born, was selected by Southern poet Kate Daniels and published by USC Press in 2007.  Since then he has gone on to publish three more books: Left Behind (a chapbook published by Stepping Stones Press in 2008), Red Dirt Jesus (selected by Alicia Ostriker for the Marick Press Poetry Prize and published by Marick Press in 2011), and Punch (published by Hub City Press in 2014, and winner of the 2015 Independent Publishers Book Award).  McManus has recently co-edited an anthology called Found Anew with notable contributors with South Carolina ties such as Terrance Hayes, George Singleton, Nikky Finney, Mark Powell, and Jillian Weise.  Although McManus’s books seem placed in the semi-rural and sometimes repressive Southern culture of the Carolinas, where the laughter or – worse – silence of others “is the threat that keeps us moving forward,” there are also repeated themes about the haunting presence of Ireland and the past – or more precisely, that imagination that exists in family story, immigrant memory, and personal history.  There is a toughness, a muscular violence, in his landscapes, punctuated by tenderness and curiosity.  McManus’s work explores themes that wrestle with loss, faith, denial, and rebellion, the narratives of hope and the heroics of failure – themes that touch the bone of Southern identity.  His latest book, Punch, is very much a book about the working class – the grit and grime that hammers at the once romantic ideal of the South.  Ray McManus earned his MFA in poetry and his Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of South Carolina.  An Associate Professor of English at the University of South Carolina in Sumter, McManus teaches creative writing, Irish literature, and Southern Literature, and directs the Center for Oral Narrative – a center for oral histories, digital and oral storytelling, spoken word, and dramatic literatures.  McManus is also the founder of Split P Soup, a creative writing outreach program that places writers in schools and communities in South Carolina, and the director of the creative writing program at the Tri-District Arts Consortium.  His current outreach project, Re:Verse, is a teaching initiative that works with teachers and administrators on developing effective strategies for bringing creative writing back to a standard curriculum.  McManus lives in Lexington, South Carolina, with his wife Lindsay and their three children: Sean, Morgan, and Lennon. For more information please check out his website:


A 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, GRACE C. OCASIO placed as a finalist in the 2016 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award in Poetry. She is also a recipient of the 2014 North Carolina Arts Council Regional Artist Project Grant. She won honorable mention in the 2012 James Applewhite Poetry Prize, the 2011 Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka Poetry Prize, and a 2011 Napa Valley Writers’ Conference scholarship. Her first full-length collection, The Speed of Our Lives, was published by BlazeVOX Books in 2014.


MIMI SCHLESINGER ORMOND was only twelve years old when the Nazis invaded the Sudetenland and she was forced to leave her home and family through the Kindertransport child rescue effort.  In her memoir, at turns terrifying and charming, Mimi describes her escape from the Nazis and her formative years in wartime England, where she learned the strange language and ways of the English.  She studied preschool education which has been her lifelong professional passion.  Mimi met and married her husband, the handsome talented American GI who played in the 317th U.S. Army Band before beginning his distinguished career in music.  Through these trying years, she relied on the optimism and down-to-earth humanity that has characterized her life in America, a journey that began as a rescued child.  Mimi Ormond lives in Cleveland, where she ran Carol Nursery for 25 years, and continues to pursue her love of gardening and the arts.  Her husband of 68 years, Ed, was the principal violist with the Cleveland Orchestra for 38 years before passing away in 2012.  Her three daughters and two grandsons share Mimi’s gratitude to the men and women who participated in the Kindertransport efforts.

HANNAH PALMER works as an urban designer in Atlanta.  Her writing explores the intersection of southern stories and urban landscapes, and has appeared on CNN, Art Papers, Atlanta Magazine, ATL Studies, and in masterplans for urban design projects around the world.  She earned an MFA in creative writing from Sewanee: The University of the South and now lives near the Atlanta Airport with her husband and sons.  Her first book, Flight Path, was published by Hub City Press in April 2017.  Photo credit David Naugle.

CAT PLESKA is a 7th generation West Virginian, author, editor, educator, publisher, and storyteller. She often leads writing workshops in the community and is an essayist for West Virginia Public Radio, and a book reviewer for West Virginia University Press.  She edited the anthology Fed from the Blade: Tales and Poems from the Mountains (Woodland Press 2012), and her first book, Riding on Comets: a Memoir was published by West Virginia University Press May 2015. Riding on Comets was short listed for the 2015 book of the year in the memoir category by Foreword Magazine.  Cat is the 2016 recipient of the Governor’s Arts Award for Support of the Arts.  Her cookbook, One Foot in the Gravy—Hooked on the Sauce: Recipes You’ll Relish was published in April of this year.  Otherwise, she has begun a novel, a collection of short stories, and a collection of essays.  She holds an MFA from Goucher College in Baltimore (2004), as well as an MA in Humanities (1998) and a BA in English (writing emphasis, 1994).  She teaches in the graduate humanities program for Marshall University and is a full time instructor for Arizona State University’s Master of Liberal Studies Program.  She lives in Scott Depot with her husband, Dan, one dog and four cats, and with her daughter Katie living just down the road a bit.


ADRIAN RICE is from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  He graduated from the University of Ulster with a BA in English & Politics, and MPhil in Anglo-Irish Literature.  He has delivered writing workshops, readings, and lectures throughout the UK & Ireland, and America.  His first sequence of poems appeared in Muck Island (1990), a collaboration with leading Irish artist, Ross Wilson.  Copies of this limited edition box-set are housed in the collections of The Tate Gallery, and The Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  In 1997, Rice received the Sir James Kilfedder Memorial Bursary for Emerging Artists.  In autumn 1999, as recipient of the US/Ireland Exchange Bursary, he was Poet-in-Residence at Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, NC.  His first full poetry collection – The Mason’s Tongue (1999) – was shortlisted for the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Literary Prize, nominated for the Irish Times Prize for Poetry, and translated into Hungarian by Thomas Kabdebo.  In 2002, he co-edited a major Irish anthology entitled, A Conversation Piece: Poetry and Art.  His poems and reviews have been broadcast internationally on radio and television, and have been published in several international magazines and journals.  Selections of his poetry and prose have appeared in both The Belfast Anthology and The Ulster Anthology and in Magnetic North: The Emerging Poets.  A chapbook, Hickory Haiku, was published in 2010 by Finishing Line Press.  Rice returned to Lenoir-Rhyne College as Visiting Writer-in-Residence for 2005.  Since then, Adrian and his wife Molly, and young son, Micah, have settled in Hickory, from where he now commutes to Boone for Doctoral studies at Appalachian State University, where he also teaches on the First Year Seminar Program.  Turning poetry into lyrics, he has also teamed up with Hickory-based and fellow Belfastman, musician/songwriter Alan Mearns, to form ‘The Belfast Boys’, a dynamic Irish Traditional Music duo.  Their debut album, Songs For Crying Out Loud, regularly airs across the Carolinas.  Adrian’s last book, The Clock Flower (2013), and his latest, Hickory Station (2015) are both published by Press 53.  A poem from Hickory Station, “Breath”, first published in the Asheville Poetry Review, was a Pushcart Prize nomination.  Adrian’s new book, The Strange Estate: New & Selected Poems 1990-2017 (Press 53), will be published in November of this year.


ANN B. ROSS grew up in Georgia, but after living so many years in this state she is a North Carolinian.  Her three children and six grandchildren are native North Carolinians.  She earned an Associate in Arts degree from Armstong College in Savannah, Georgia and, with the birth of her first child, thought that would be the end of her formal education.  Some years ago, when her children were young, she wrote two murder mysteries, both of which were published as original paperbacks.  Since neither set the world on fire, she assumed that writing was not for her and turned to something else.  By that time, her third child was in high school, so she started on a ten-year pursuit of academic achievement, earning a Bachelor’s Degree (Magna cum laude) in Literature from the University of North Carolina Asheville, a Master’s Degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the same great institution.  During her time at Chapel Hill, she wrote The Pilgrimage, an adventure story, and it became her first hardcover publication. Urged by an agent to quickly write another novel, she chose instead to research and write her PhD dissertation in order to complete her degree.  Her dissertation title is “The Anglo-Saxon Concept of the Soul” using eighth, ninth, and tenth century homilies in Old English and Latin.  Afterward, she was a Visiting Professor and Adjunct Professor of Literature at the University of North Carolina Asheville, until a voice in her head demanded attention and Miss Julia came to life.  The first Miss Julia novel, Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind, was published in 1999 and is still in print.  It was named a Barnes & Noble Great New Writer book.  All eighteen of the Miss Julia books, in addition to Etta Mae’s Worst Bad Luck Day, have been New York Times Bestsellers. The latest book, Miss Julia Weathers the Storm, was released in April, 2017 with more to come. The books are issued in hardcover, paperback (after the first year), large print editions, CDs and/or Audiotape, and Kindle editions.


SUSI GOTT SÉGURET, Certified Culinary Professional and Certified Specialist of Wine, hails from the depths of Appalachia in Madison County North Carolina, but honed her culinary skills in France, where she resided for over 20 years, earning a diploma in Gastronomy and Taste from the Cordon Bleu and the Université de Reims while restoring a centuries-old stone barn, raising a family, and presenting Appalachian music to a European audience. Editor of a dozen cookbooks and contributor to several compilations, Susi serves as personal chef and culinary journalist, and directs the Seasonal School of Culinary Arts with sessions in four corners of the globe: Asheville, Ithaca, Sonoma and Paris. She also orchestrates a series of ultra-elegant wine diners known as the Asheville Wine Experience, and the gustatory extravaganza, the Asheville Truffle Experience. Passionate about elements of taste and style, and how they extend from our palate into our daily lives, Susi strives to blend food, music, words and images into a tapestry for the senses, which she shares generously with all who cross her path.


Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the NC Arts Council

SHELBY STEPHENSON is Poet Laureate of North Carolina.  Recent books:  Elegies for Small Game (Press 53), winner of Roanoke-Chowan Award; Family Matters:  Homage to July, the Slave Girl (Bellday Books), the Bellday Prize.  A Distinguished Alumnus of the English Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison, he is Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina-Pembroke, serving as editor of Pembroke Magazine from 1979 until his retirement in 2010.  He lives at the homeplace on Paul’s Hill, where he was born, near McGee’s Crossroads, about ten miles north of Benson.

JUBAL TINER, a native Kansan, grew up in a family of teachers.  His father taught high school chemistry and physics, his mother, though she had degrees in English and Drama, taught nearly every grade in grade school, and his sister taught science in a progressive middle school in Oklahoma. Though Tiner tried his hand at landscaping, Event Coordinating for the City of Gunnison, Colorado, and selling RainSoft Water Purification systems, it turned out that teaching and writing were in his blood.

Praised for a poem about a noisy furnace in grade school, and a space-exploration story in the seventh grade, Tiner went on to pen a lot of teenage-angst poetry, before reading The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, which turned him on to fiction.

Tiner went to Southwestern College in Kansas to become a chemical engineer, but after writing for the school newspaper and taking World Literature from Sandy Feinstein and Fiction Writing with Troy Boucher, he added an English Major to his hard science studies.  After graduation, he taught English at Goddard High School near Wichita, Kansas, for three years, before going to graduate school to focus on writing.

While teaching freshmen composition and creative writing courses as an English TA,  he took writing and literature courses, completing an MA at Iowa State University and a Ph.D. In Fictional Rhetoric and Twentieth Century American Literature with a creative dissertation from Oklahoma State University.  He then taught in several different colleges and universities in the border land between Indiana and Ohio, attempting to cobble together a full-time job with multiple adjunct positions.  After two tears, he and his family moved to Western North Carolina where he took a job at Western Carolina University

All this time he was writing, and began publishing widely in journals such as The Florida Review, The Baltimore Review, Oxford Magazine, Puerto del Sol, The Dos Passos Review and WeberStudies: Voices and Viewpoints of the Contemporary West, among others, including stories in the last year in Cold Mountain Review and Moonshine Review. His short story collection, The Waterhouse, was published recently by one of the great independent presses, Press 53, out of Winston-Salem, and won an Independent Publishers’ Book Award, or IPPY, for best representation of the Midwest.

Tiner now makes his home in Brevard, North Carolina, where he teaches at Brevard College, runs the independent literary journal Pisgah Review, rides his bike, and is trying to figure out how to write a novel that is publishable.  Most importantly, he co-parents with their mother two terrific kids, his 12 year old daughter, Olivia, and his 7 year old son, Griffin.

CRYSTAL WILKINSON [Update 9/6/17: Ms. Wilkinson is unfortunately having to cancel her appearance at CMLitFest this year.]  Wilkinson is the author of The Birds of Opulence, winner of the 2016 Ernest Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence, the 2017 Weatherford Award and the 2017 Judy Gaines Young Award.  She is also the author of Blackberries, Blackberries and Water Street.  A finalist for both the UK’s Orange Prize for Fiction and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Wilkinson teaches in the low residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at Spalding University and serves as writer in residence at Berea College.  She owns Wild Fig Books and Coffee with her partner poet and artist Ron Davis.