Summer 2021 Courses

Registration will open on April 8 for our Summer 2021 courses! Check out our course descriptions below.

**Please note that all classes will be held remotely, via Zoom/Google Hangouts or other video conferencing platforms.**

5-Week Classes

Lang 371: Introduction to Feature Writing Workshop

Instructor: Mark MacNamara
Meets Wednesday evenings, 6:00-8:30: June 9, 16, 23, July 14, 21. 

Features are largely the province of magazines and newspaper style sections, most famously the style section of the Washington Post in the 1970s.  Early masters of the form include Mailer, Capote, Sontag, Lillian Ross, Joan Didion, and Gay Talese, all of whom helped kick start “literary journalism” and ‘creative nonfiction’. The form extends from personal essays to obits, to reviews, to hybrids of every kind.

This five-week course includes extensive readings and explores how to tell an engaging nonfiction story, along with: how to develop story ideas, find sources and interview them; how to organize material; how to write a compelling lede and then sustain a story; how to create a mystery, or pose a question to draw the reader through a narrative; and most important, how to develop abstraction that justifies the effort to read a lengthy piece.

The course was originally designed for journalists but may be of interest to marketeers responsible for advertorials and corporate storytelling, and will focus on student projects. Students are required to finish the course with a pitch letter and a 1,200-word piece ready for market.


Mark MacNamara has written for such publications as Nautilus, Salon, The Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair.  For the last nine years, he’s been a senior writer with San Francisco Classical Voice ( Many of his pieces also appear in Mark has won awards in both fiction and nonfiction, including annual awards from the San Francisco Press Club. He began his career at the University of Virginia with the great short story writer, Peter Taylor. His website is See for a portfolio.


Lang 371: Writing for Young Adults

Instructor: Joy Neaves
Meets Wednesday evenings, 6:00-8:30: June 30, July 7, 14, 21, 28.

This five-week workshop welcomes students at all stages of the writing process who are interested in writing literature for young adults. You will explore excellent models of young adult literature as well as tools for generating material and revising work for young readers. Our focus will be on aspects of the craft particular to writing for young adults, from considering unreliable narrators to learning about ways to view the world from a teen perspective. We’ll consider what makes a YA character dynamic & a YA plot compelling. Classes will incorporate a few short guest visits from published YA authors who will discuss their own approach to writing YA and answer a few pre-selected questions from our group.

The supportive atmosphere of this workshop aims to help you explore more about the world of YA literature and support you where you are in your writing process, keeping your goals as a writer at the heart of our work together.  Using a combination of mini-lectures, writing exercises, readings, group discussion and critique, the instructor will encourage you to develop your ability to look at your own work critically. 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, 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.


Lang 371: Such a Character

Instructor: Heather Newton
Meets Tuesday evenings, 6:00-8:30 pm: June 8, 15, 22, 29, July 6. 

We’ve all known people whom we have called “characters” (if we haven’t said it aloud we’ve thought it). What makes these people so fascinating, and how can we harvest their traits to make our fictional characters more interesting? This class for beginning or experienced writers will focus on how to develop believable and compelling characters through effective use of point of view, voice, dialogue, description and gesture. Come prepared to write and to share your writing.


Heather Newton’s novel Under The Mercy Trees (HarperCollins) won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, was chosen by the Women’s National Book Association as a Great Group Reads Selection and named an “Okra Pick” by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Her short story collection McMullen Circle is forthcoming from Regal House as finalist for the W.S. Porter Prize. Her prose has appeared in The Drum, Carolina Table, 27 Views of Asheville, and elsewhere. She is co-founder and Program Manager for Asheville’s Flatiron Writers Room.


Lang 371: Writing for Change

Class Canceled

Instructor: Carolina Siliceo Perez
Meets Tuesday evenings, 6:00-8:30: June 15, 22, 29, July 13, 20.

Chicana feminist author, Gloria Anzaldúa writes that “our personal experiences—revised and in other ways redrawn—become a lens with which to reread and rewrite the cultural stories into which we are born.”

This course will explore the writing of authors writing from liminal spaces of society, particularly those from communities that have been historically marginalized or silenced. Over the course of five sessions, the class will examine how authors from diverse backgrounds confront, challenge or reject the status quo through poetry, memoirs, short stories, and essays. We will consider how their choices expand our craft and provide us the ability to challenge and expand our readers’ hearts and minds.  

The creative act of writing and considering these narratives is a cathartic experience, and this course will foster a mindful community for reading, reflecting, and writing our truths.


Carolina Siliceo Perez is a recent graduate of the Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences program at UNC Asheville. Her Capstone project, titled “Marginal Notations of an Undocumented Citizen: part prose, memoir and essay collection” is her attempt to convey the intersectionality of language and communicating social injustice. She recently published her short story “Truly American” in a WNC bilingual arts Zine, titled Raiz. Carolina considers herself an immigrant rights and language justice activist.


Lang 371: Finding Your Poetic Voice: Mary Oliver and Tony Hoagland Reprised

Class Full

Instructor: Bruce Spang
Meets Thursday evenings, 6:00-8:30: June 17, 24, July 1, 8, 15. 

Poets Tony Hoagland and Mary Oliver had a unique take on the world, the one a keen observer of the social foibles and absurdities of our times, the other a powerful observer of the natural world. In this class, we will look at their poems and their strategies for making us see the world with different eyes, using prompts based on their poems to learn how to develop our own unique voice. Hoagland’s use of humor, his drawing on the material imagination, and his deft maneuvering of a simile to shift the poem in another direction will be one focus. With Mary Oliver, we’ll pay attention to how she marries astute observation with personal insight. In both poets, we’ll look at how syntax and content interweave to shape a poem and keep it moving along. This workshop is a chance to look beneath their marvelous poems and see how they crafted them to work. We will discuss how their poems tell important truths about the human condition and how we can bring such truths into our own poems.


Bruce Spang, former Poet Laureate of Portland, is the author of two novels, The Deception of the Thrush and Those Close Beside Me. His most recent collection of poems, All You’ll Derive: A Caregiver’s Journey, was just published. He’s also published four other books of poems, including To the Promised Land Grocery and Boy at the Screen Door (Moon Pie Press) along with several anthologies and chapbooks. He is the poetry and fiction editor of the Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine. His poems have been published in Puckerbrush Review, Rattle, Café Review, Connecticut River Review, Red Rover Magazine, The Great Smokies Review, Los Angles Review, Kalopsia Literary Journal and other journals across the United States. He teaches courses in fiction and poetry at OLLI at UNC Asheville and lives in Candler, NC with his husband Myles Rightmire and their five dogs, five fish, and thirty birds.


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 Writers at Home.