Courses

Registration is open for our Fall 2019 courses. Check out the course descriptions below!

Five-Week Courses

Lang 371: The Literary Ecosystem

Instructors: Caroline Christopoulos and Lauren Harr

The literary world can be intimidating and confusing. Even writers who have already published books are unsure of how the literary ecosystem works, who does what, and what an author’s role is within it. Some of the ideas we’ll tackle are the idea of literary stewardship, the roles of various members of the publishing industry, self vs. traditional publishing, and how to promote your work and build your community both before and after publication. We’ll talk about how best to connect to other authors, editors and agents, bookstores, and the media. In this course, you will hone your goals for your work, craft an elevator pitch, learn the difference between an agent and a publicist, and practice talking about your work as a finished product rather than a manuscript-in-progress. Our goal is to give you a better sense of the environment you will find yourself in as a published author and to give you the confidence to pursue your literary goals.

Caroline Christopoulos works part-time at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, where she has been a bookseller for eighteen years and buyer for thirteen. She is on the steering committee of the Asheville Grown Business Alliance and the programming committee for the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival. In addition to bringing authors and their works the attention they deserve, her focus includes strengthening community and promoting local business. She and her husband live in Asheville and are proud foster parents.

Lauren Harr has worked in the book world for fifteen years primarily as a bookseller in Asheville and Albuquerque, but also as an assistant at literary nonprofits in Santa Fe, as an intern at Graywolf Press, and as a marketing assistant and publicist at Coffee House Press. She spent eight years at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe where her passions were connecting readers and books and assisting the events program. She lives in Asheville with her husband and daughter.

Caroline and Lauren are the founders of Gold Leaf Literary Services.


Ten-Week Courses

Lang 372: “Who writes short shorts?”: A Writing Workshop

Instructor: Scott Branson

Genre expectations, or even the very intention of writing something (a novel, a story, a poem) can stifle and stymy us from the start. And yet, having a limitless field of possibilities can also be intimidating. Short shorts, microfictions, flash fictions, prose poems—or whatever you want to call them—have been maligned by those wishing to preserve (antiquated) literary forms, or who seek the glory of recognition. But this genreless genre provides an unparalleled opportunity for writers to experiment with form, to try styles out, and to discover what it is they really want to get at in their writing. Taking away the need to stick to a determined length, the demands of plot, the prescription of realism, the confines of meter and rhythm and rhyme, the determinations of the market, or even attempts at seriousness, flash fiction can provide writers with a space of breakthrough, a place to find their voice and try it out.

These pieces still play with ideas of story, character, the sound of language, but can also work completely outside their confines. They reduce writing to its essence: the communication of a feeling. If you feel like the novel, the story, or the poem doesn’t offer what you are looking for, this class is for you. If you feel like your voice gets buried in the preparations and expectations of writing, then come experiment here. If you want to compile a series of short or even fragmentary pieces into a larger project, get started with us. We will focus on creating a body of short pieces that help writers find their voice or explore areas they have yet to settle down in. We will read examples and essays, but the emphasis will be on writing and revising.

Scott Branson is a poet, artist, organizer, and teacher based in Asheville. Scott has taught in the Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program at UNC Asheville, Hampshire College, Amherst College, and University of Massachusetts. Scott was a key organizer of the 2018 UNCA Queer Studies Conference on prison abolition, and just helped lead “Breaking Cages, Building Community, Queering Justice: A Symposium on Abolition + Queer/Trans Liberation” at Davidson College with Charlotte Uprising. Most recently, Scott’s poetry has appeared in Crab Fat Magazine and Matter. Their chapbook of words and abstract image, EAH, is now available.

Lang 472: Poetry Master Class

Instructor: Kenneth Chamlee

This workshop is for experienced writers who are ready to take their poems to the next level, or those who are polishing a collection to submit. To make every poem “sing its best song,” we will pay close attention to line and flow, sound and echo, titles, exact diction, misdirection and surprise, and, of course, revision.

Enrollment is limited to 12, and admission is by permission from Tommy Hays (thays@unca.edu) or Ken Chamlee (chamlee_k@brevard.edu). 

Kenneth Chamlee is Professor of English Emeritus at Brevard College in North Carolina.  His poems have appeared in The North Carolina Literary Review, Cold Mountain Review, Ekphrasis, The Greensboro Review and many others.  He won the GSU Review (Georgia State University) National Writing Award in Poetry, ByLine Magazine’s National Poetry Chapbook Competition (Absolute Faith, 1999), and the Longleaf Press Poetry Chapbook Competition (Logic of the Lost, 2001).  In 2004 he won the Word Journal Poetry Prize and in 2009 and 2016 he was a finalist in the Iowa Review Poetry Contest. He has received three Pushcart Prize nominations. His poems have appeared in five editions of Kakalak: An Anthology of Carolina Poets.

Lang 372: Where We Come From: Exploring Personal and Family History: A Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Instructor: Audra Coleman

“I wish I had realized that family history is a perishable commodity. It disappears with time, as memories fade, and as loved ones pass on. I wish I had known that the most important aspect of family history is preserving a record of the present for the future.” -Guy Black

This creative nonfiction course is designed to guide writers as they record their personal and family histories. Writers will have the opportunity to mine the memories they treasure most and/or free the skeletons that have lurked in the family closet. These are the stories of our lives and our ancestors, the ones that have trickled down through the generations, the ones we hope our children will remember.

What’s the story behind your great-grandmother’s broach or your grandfather’s pocket watch? Were you named after your crazy aunt that you want to capture in a portrait? Are there old black and white photos that beg to have their story told? The goal of this course is to find and develop the particulars that capture the deep significance of these memories. Through outside readings, in class writing exercises, and assigned essays, we will explore how details make the story come to life. We will also look at a variety of narrative structures including collage, portrait, frame, and many other non-conventional structures in an effort to find the structure that best suits the piece being written.

Audra Coleman’s work in poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction has appeared recently or is forthcoming in WNC Woman, Good Mother Project, Mothers Always Write, 3288 Review, Kestrel, Palaver, Quail Bell Magazine, The Great Smokies Review, Five on the Fifth, Into the Void, Star 82 Review, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Penn Review, Corvus Review, Mojave River Press, Hoot, and Pretty Owl Poetry. She graduated from UNC Asheville’s Master of Liberal Arts and Science Program with a concentration in creative writing and has recently been named the winner of the 2018 Confluence Award for Excellence in Creative Writing awarded by the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs. She currently teaches for the Great Smokies Writing Program.

Lang 372: The Poem’s Architecture: A Poetry Workshop

Instructor: Luke Hankins

How does a poem’s form serve its intended effect? In this poetry workshop, we will analyze the structure and form of poems in order to gain insight into how poetic craft impacts the effects poems have on their readers. This class will combine workshops of poems by students with close readings of selected contemporary poetry collections.

Luke Hankins is the founder and editor of Orison Books, a non-profit literary press focused on the life of the spirit from a broad and inclusive range of perspectives. He 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 a volume of translations from the French of Stella Vinitchi Radulescu, A Cry in the Snow & Other Poems. He is also the editor of Poems of Devotion: An Anthology of Recent Poets. A graduate of the Indiana University MFA in Creative Writing Program, where he held the Yusef Komunyakaa Fellowship in Poetry, Hankins currently teaches in the Lenoir-Rhyne University MA in Writing Program.

Lang 372: Forty Pages: A Fiction Workshop

Instructor: Vicki Lane

CLASS FULL

This workshop is aimed at writers with a novel in progress, almost completed, or completed but in need of a final polishing. Each student will submit forty pages (half at the beginning of the course, the rest during and after the sixth week) of work in progress for discussion and critique by the class and close editing with written comments by the instructor. We will focus on the effective use of key techniques such as creating an intriguing opening line and a compelling first chapter, creating a likable and/or engaging protagonist, weaving in back story in small, manageable doses, setting up a dilemma that begs to be resolved, making the most of action scenes — in general, producing a page-turner. We will attempt to weed out the mistakes that mark the amateur writer and turn each student into a discerning editor of his own work. The goal will be to polish those forty pages till they are ready to catch the attention of an agent, an editor, a publisher and make them ask for more. The reference text will be the highly acclaimed Don’t Sabotage Your Submission by career manuscript editor Chris Roerden (Bella Rosa books –ISBN 978-1-933523-31-6.)

Vicki Lane is the author of the Elizabeth Goodweather mystery series from Bantam Dell as well as the standalone The Day of Small Things. She has taught with the Great Smokies Writing Program since 2006. She also teaches week-long summer workshops at John C. Campbell Folk School and Wildacres Writing Workshop. Learn more about Vicki and her writing at her website and her blog .

Lang 372: Beyond the Sneeze: Writing Humor that Matters: A Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Instructor: Jennifer McGaha

Mark Twain once said, “Laughter without a tinge of philosophy is but a sneeze of humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom.” In this course, we will explore humor as an element of craft in creative nonfiction. What writers make you laugh out loud? How do humor writers generate material? What techniques can writers use to get to convey humor on the page? And, most importantly, when and how does humor become a pathway to deeper wisdom? Designed for writers of all levels, this course will include generative writing, workshops, opportunities for revision, and a final class reading.

Jennifer McGaha is a native of western North Carolina, and author of the memoir Flat Broke with Two Goats. Her work has also appeared in The Huffington Post, The New Pioneer, PANK, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Baltimore Fishbowl, BackHome Magazine, Appalachian Heritage, and other publications. An experienced teacher and workshop facilitator, Jennifer earned her MA from Western Carolina University and her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She currently teaches at UNC-Asheville.

Lang 372: Heart of the Story: Writing for Children and Young Adults Fiction Workshop

Instructors: Joy Neaves and Amy Reed

“I don’t write for children. I write and someone says, this is for children.” –Maurice Sendak

This ten-week 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. You will discover powerful tools for generating material or revising your work for young readers. Our focus will be on ways to use all the essentials aspects of craft to develop dynamic characters & compelling plots. Emphasis will be placed on generating powerful scenes (the building blocks of story) that serve the core of your story (the overall narrative arc). Special topics related to children’s fiction and picture books will be discussed.

The supportive atmosphere of this workshop aims to facilitate your writing process, while keeping your goals as a writer at the heart of our work together. Using a combination of mini-lectures, writing exercises, group discussion and critique, the instructors will encourage you to develop your ability to look at your own work critically. The instructors will also provide written feedback on individual writers’ work and will recommend useful outside reading and resources geared toward individual student projects. A portion of the workshop will focus on the business of publishing and the best ways to approach editors and agents when you’re ready to submit your work to the market.

Joy Neaves has over fifteen years of experience as an editor of children’s picture books, poetry, and middle grade and young adult fiction, first from Front Street, an award-winning publisher of books for children, and later at Boyds Mills Press. She is currently a freelance editor of children’s books at namelos. She is passionate in her approach to talking about both children’s literature & the craft of writing for children, and enjoys helping writers hone their craft, with an eye toward publication. She has helped many writers see their work come to fruition.

Amy Reed has published ten young adult novels over the past ten years, including The Nowhere Girls, Beautiful, and Clean, and she is the editor of the anthology Our Stories, Our Voices. Her books have won multiple awards, have been translated into several languages, and The Nowhere Girls was recently optioned for a television series by Amazon. Amy also worked in publishing for several years, so she knows the industry inside and out. She is a strong believer in the Madeleine L’Engle quote: “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” To learn more about Amy, visit her website.

Lang 372: Poetry and Place: A Poetry Workshop

Instructor: Eric Nelson

In this workshop we will write and read poems about places, real or imagined, that define and reflect who we are. All poems happen somewhere, but we will focus on poems in which the setting is center stage, not background scenery. We will read and write about paradises gained and lost; about small towns and big cities, about nature in all its beauty and terror; in short, about whatever places speak to and from our truest selves.

Eric Nelson’s six books include the award winning collections Some Wonder (Gival Press Poetry Award), Terrestrials (Texas Review Poetry Award), and The Interpretation of Waking Life (University of Arkansas Poetry Award). He taught poetry workshops at Georgia Southern University for 26 years before moving to Asheville in 2015.


Fifteen-Week Courses

Lang 473: Keeping Ourselves Company: A Creative Prose Workshop

Instructor: Tommy Hays

CLASS FULL

This class is for prose writers who’ve been in at least one writing workshop and have projects they are working on or who want to start something new in either fiction or creative nonfiction.  Emphasis will be on reading and critiquing each other’s work.  The instructor will respond at length to submissions three times with a limit of 18 pages for each submission. Admission is by permission from Tommy Hays (thays@unca.edu).

Tommy Hays’s middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You (Egmont USA), was chosen as an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books and was a VOYA Top Shelf Pick. His novel, The Pleasure Was Mine (St. Martin’s Press), was a Finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award and has been chosen for numerous community reads. His other novels are Sam’s Crossing (Atheneum) and In the Family Way (Random House), a selection of The Book of the Month Club and winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. He’s published stories in Redbook, The Chattahoochee Review, Smoky Mountain Living and storySouth.  He was named The Carolina Mountain Literary Festival’s honoree for the Charlie Award, named in honor of Charles F. Price, and “given each year to an author who exemplifies fine writing and who works to build community.” He is Executive Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and Core Faculty for the Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences program at UNC Asheville.  A member of the National Book Critics Circle, he received his BA in English from Furman University and graduated from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.  For more information, please visit his website.

Lang 473: Prose Master Class

Instructor: Elizabeth Lutyens

CLASS FULL

The Prose Master Class is a next step for those seeking an intensive writing experience. 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 sixty 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.Each class begins with a craft session requiring outside reading, with the focus on the theme for the semester, which explores the resonance of the writing as well as craft.  In lieu of some craft sessions, we will use a writing exercise to inspire new approaches. The emphasis for the course, always, is the review of student work, which includes extensive and in-depth comments from the instructor. For each of the three rounds of workshops, the method will vary, from traditional…to free-form…to writer’s choice.

Admission to the Prose Master Class is by permission from Tommy Hays (thays@unca.edu) or Elizabeth Lutyens (elutyens@gmail.com).

Elizabeth Lutyens has led this class for ten years. A former journalist, Elizabeth is a graduate of the MFA in Writing Program at Warren Wilson College and is completing her own work: a novel set in Boston and the Port Royal islands of South Carolina during the early 1860s. She is Editor in Chief of The Great Smokies Review, the online literary magazine published by The Great Smokies Writing Program and UNC Asheville.

The Great Smokies Writing Program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes taught by professional writers, and to giving voice to local and regional writers through Writers at Home, its free reading series. The Great Smokies Writing Program wishes to thank Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café for its support of the Writers at Home series.