Methodical Madness: A Creative Prose Workshop

by Heather Newton on October 21, 2016

Looking forward to writing more and better in 2017? Join me Monday evenings starting February 13th (6-8:30 p.m.) for ten weeks of Methodical Madness with the Great Smokies Writing Program:

This course is for writers of fiction and creative non-fiction who enjoy honing their craft in a workshop setting.  Students should come committed to giving and receiving thoughtful criticism as members of a community of writers.  You will submit two pieces of work for group critique. We will also do in-class writing in response to prompts. Our text will be The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing by Alice LaPlante, who, along with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, reminds us that when it comes to writing, “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”  (If you already own a different edition of the LaPlante Book, Method and Madness: The Making of a Story, that is acceptable).

Lots of other great workshops and instructors this spring as well. Check out the offerings at: Great Smokies Spring Courses

Etiquette When A Friend Publishes a Book

by Heather Newton on October 1, 2016

My writing group is having a stellar year. One member has a YA novel coming out soon and three others of us have finished first drafts of new novels. It therefore seems like a good time for me to suggest some rules to follow when a friend publishes a book.  

1. Comments are closed. If you met your friend in a writing class or critique group, you may be used to offering comments and suggestions for improvement, but don’t do that now. The book is published. She can’t make changes and if you send her a list of what you think is wrong, you will just annoy her.

2. Buy the book. Seriously. Buy at least one copy of your friend’s book. Authors love libraries but we don’t get a royalty when you check the book out. Especially if you plan to ask the author for a favor, such as an introduction to her literary agent, be able to say honestly that you have purchased her book.

3. Give the book five stars. Review the book on Goodreads and Amazon and even if you are one of those people who never give a book more than three stars, give your friend’s book five stars. She’s your friend. You can always address the book’s flaws in the body of the review if you must.

4. Be happy for her. It’s human to feel some jealousy when a friend succeeds, but her getting published doesn’t diminish your own chances of getting published. It’s much more fun to bask in her success than to crouch in the corner with the green monster.  Exorcise any envy by being extra generous: crow about her book on social media, host her book launch party, make her a “Published Novelist” tiara like the one my writing group made for me. Who knows–in a year or two she might pass the crown on to you.

Join Me for a Summer Writing Workout–Great Smokies Writing Program

May 3, 2016

Do you long to write, but just can’t seem to work it into your life? Do your writing resolutions last about as long as your New Year’s resolutions to go to the gym? Whip your atrophied writing muscles into shape this summer with this generative class for beginning or experienced fiction and creative nonfiction writers. We’ll do […]

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Gearing Up For AWP

March 28, 2016

I think AWP (annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs) will be chill this year. I don’t have a new book out so I don’t have to self-promote. I have an agent, so I don’t have to corner agents in the ladies’ room and push sample pages under the stall door. I’m […]

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The Case Against Compartmentalization in Creating Your Writing Life

March 26, 2016

I’m a writer and a lawyer and a mother and wife and a person of faith. For many years, I believed that the best way to make time for all of these important aspects of my life–especially the writing–was to compartmentalize, setting up rigid mental walls to designate the time and energy I would allot […]

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Under the Mercy Trees

February 1, 2016

Praise for Under The Mercy Trees, winner of the 2011 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, SIBA Okra Pick, Women’s National Book Association Great Group Reads Selection: From Publishers Weekly Newton delivers a stirring debut novel told from the perspectives of four central characters embroiled in a family drama that spans generations and is riddled with […]

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Legal Lessons for North Carolina Teachers

August 11, 2015

  For many years, I have represented North Carolina educators as they try to perform their jobs with diminishing resources, at times without the support they deserve from administration and their elected representatives. As we enter a new school year, here are my tips to educators for how to protect their employment while providing high-quality […]

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September Is The Literary-est Month!

September 9, 2014

Two more literary events I hope you’ll join me for in Asheville this month: On September 21st at 3 p.m., I’ll be reading with other members of the Great Smokies Writing Program faculty at Malaprop’s as part of the Writers At Home Series.  Haven’t decided what to read yet. Maybe something from my new novel […]

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Join Me For Back-To-Back Literary Events in the Mountains, September 6-7, 2014

August 18, 2014

I’ll be reading from and discussing Under The Mercy Trees and new work at two events the weekend of September 6th and 7th. On Saturday the 6th, join me at the Mountain Literary Festival in Burnsville for sessions at 10:45 and 2:00 and a book signing at noon.  While you’re there, enjoy readings, workshops and […]

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Listen to “Things Summoned” Courtesy of The Drum–A Literary Magazine for Your Ears

December 18, 2013

My short story, “Things Summoned,” is featured in the December 2013 issue of The Drum.  You can download and listen to me read it here:  This story is one of a dozen linked stories in a collection I’ve written, set on the campus of a boarding school in the north Georgia mountains in 1969-70.  […]

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