Monday, June 25, 2012

Mooresville author writes two books for tweens

Mooresville's Lisa Williams Kline will sign copies of her new novels, "Wild Horse Spring" and "Summer of the Wolves," 2 p.m. Saturday, June 30 at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

The two books, aimed at readers aged 9 to 12, are the first in Kline's "Sisters in All Seasons" series. They tell the story of Stephanie and Diana, girls with very different personalities who must learn to live together when they become stepsisters.

Kline's other books include three middle-grade novels -- "The Princesses of Atlantis," "Write Before Your Eyes" and "Eleanor Hill," which won the North Carolina Juvenile Literature Award.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Changing of the guard at UNC Press

For the first time in 20 years, UNC Press, one of the nation's leading academic presses, is getting a new director.

John Sherer, vice president and publisher of Basic Books, has been selected to succeed Kate Douglas Torrey, who has led the press since 1992. She is retiring.

Under Sherer's leadership, Basic Books has won numerous awards and published bestsellers by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Diane Ravitch, Thomas Sowell and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, among others. His appointment is effective July 30.

Under Torrey's leadership, UNC Press has more than doubled the size of its publishing program and tripled the size of its endowment. Its books have also won numerous prizes.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What college students are reading this summer

Summer is usually the designated season for light, beachy reading. But if you’d rather crack open a book with a little heft during the warm months, check out this list. These are books that Carolinas colleges are assigning to incoming first-year students as summer reads:

Appalachian State University: “Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer,” by Novella Carpenter. She recounts her experience farming in Oakland, Calif., in this book about food and community.

Belmont Abbey College: “A Canticle for Leibowitz,” by Walter M. Miller Jr. This post-apocalyptic novel won the 1961 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel.

Catawba College: “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right,” by Atul Gawande. Stories of how an ordinary checklist can be a lifesaver in a complex world.

Davidson College: “Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey,” by G.B. Tran. In this graphic memoir, Tran explores his family’s history as immigrants who fled Saigon and raised him in South Carolina.

Duke University: “State of Wonder,” by Ann Patchett. This novel, part scientific thriller, part personal odyssey, follows a pharmacologist whose work takes her to a Brazilian jungle.

East Carolina University: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot. A nonfiction account of how the cells of a tobacco farmer, taken without her knowledge, became one of medicine’s most important tools.

N.C. State University: “It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine’s Path to Peace,” by Charlotte’s Rye Barcott. As a UNC Chapel Hill student, Barcott spent a summer in Kibera, a mega-slum in Kenya, then created a nonprofit called Carolina for Kibera. In this memoir, he tells how he launched and led the organization while serving as a Marine.

Queens University of Charlotte: “In the Time of the Butterflies,” by Julia Alvarez. This novel is based on the true story of the Mirabal sisters and their opposition to the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic.

UNC Chapel Hill: “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” by Nicholas Carr. This Pulitzer Prize finalist describes how technology, particularly the Internet, has shaped the way we think.

UNC Charlotte: “Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team and One Woman’s Quest to Make A Difference,” by Warren St. John. The story of woman who forms a soccer team to unify refugee children in Clarkston, Ga.

University of South Carolina: “Motherless Brooklyn,” by John Lethem. An homage to the classic detective novel.

Winthrop University: “Where Am I Wearing?” by Kelsey Timmerman. The author asks a simple question: “Who makes my clothes?” The answer takes him to China, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Honduras and New York.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Christian fiction author speaking in Charlotte

Concord author Linda Leigh Hargrove will discuss her novel, "The Making of Isaac Hunt," 6 p.m. June 22 at Chappell Memorial Baptist Church, 110 Bradford Drive. The event is free and open to the public.

Hargrove, an engineer by training, writes novels that deal with issues of race, class and social justice in America. In "The Making of Isaac Hunt," her first novel, a fair-skinned, blue-eyed black man discovers he has been living a lie.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dine out, do good for Charlotte's libraries

Charlotte's Rye Barcott, author of “It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine’s Path to Peace,” will speak at The Friends of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's Dine Out for Books event, 5-7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at Zink American Kitchen, 4310 Sharon Road.

As a UNC Chapel Hill student, Barcott spent a summer in Kibera, a mega-slum in Kenya. From that experience, he created a successful nonprofit called Carolina for Kibera. In his memoir, he tells how he launched and led the organization while serving as a Marine.

Barcott's book has won widespread praise and was recently ranked sixth on The Wall Street Journal's bestseller list. It also won the 2011 Ragan Old North State Award for best nonfiction book in North Carolina.

Barcott will speak about 6 p.m., and his talk is free. To ensure a seat, RSVP to A portion of proceeds from food and drink purchased during the event will be donated to the library system's books and materials budget.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Library summer reading program kicks off

Reading is, of course, its own reward. So what could be better than reading and prizes?
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library kicks off its summer reading program Tuesday, June 12. Local businesses are donating nearly $66,000 worth of prizes for those who read the required number of hours.

From now until Aug. 10, you can sign up here to participate and track hours online. The library offers programs for babies/preschoolers, children, teens and adults. Last year, 17,138 children and teens participated and documented more than 184,000 hours read.

Aside from the prizes, here's another good reason to read this summer: Research shows students who read at least 20 minutes daily in the summer are more likely to read at or above grade level when they return to school in the fall.

Monday, June 11, 2012

'Reliable Wife' author Robert Goolrick coming to Charlotte

Bestselling author Robert Goolrick will appear 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road, to promote his new novel, "Heading Out to Wonderful."

Goolrick's last book, "A Reliable Wife," was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller when it was published in 2009. In a starred review, Booklist describes "Heading Out to Wonderful" as an "erotically charged tale of of illicit passion."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews at Park Road Books

Mary Kay Andrews will speak and sign books, including copies of her new novel, "Spring Fever," 7 p.m. Friday, June 8, at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

Andrews' 2011 novel, "Summer Rental," hit it big last year among the beach reading set.

In her new novel, "Spring Fever," she tells the story of a woman who may or may not be over her ex-husband. Publishers Weekly calls it "an enjoyable escape." Andrews, a former journalist at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, lives in Atlanta.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Where to learn to write this summer

Things to do this summer: Grow tomatoes. Hit the beach. Learn to write.

Like sunburns on a 90-degree day, writing workshops are popping up across the Carolinas in coming months. They’ll focus on memoir and nonfiction, boosting creativity, poetry and fiction. And with luck, they’ll teach students to write similes better than the one that opened this paragraph.

Costs vary, from $10 to hundreds of dollars. So do workshop lengths. Some are a single afternoon. Others run several days.

For a county-by-county list of N.C. workshops, you can subscribe to the N.C. Writers’ Network’s weekly email blasts at

Peruse the list, and you’ll find that the John C. Campbell Folk School offers writing classes through the summer. So does the Writers’ Workshop of Asheville, which holds sessions in Asheville and Charlotte.

In Durham, Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies holds a master nonfiction writing class Aug. 6-11. For students entering grades five through eight, Wake Forest University hosts the Great American Writers’ Camp July 9-14.

Other workshops include:

The S.C. Writers’ Workshop writers’ intensive, June 16 in Rock Hill. It features former Observer columnist Tommy Tomlinson and Irene Blair Honeycutt, a poet and former teacher at Central Piedmont Community College. To register: or 803-289-6491. The price: $10, including lunch.

The N.C. Writers’ Network’s Squire Summer Writing Residency. This year’s residency is July 19-22 at Queens University of Charlotte. Students can choose from workshops in creative nonfiction with Pat MacEnulty (“Wait Until Tomorrow”), poetry with Morri Creech (“Field Knowledge”) or fiction with Robert Inman (“Captain Saturday”).

More information: or 336-293-8844.

The Hub City Writers Project’s Writing in Place conference at Spartanburg’s Wofford College. Set for July 13-15, it offers workshops in multiple genres.

Faculty include Anna Jean Mayhew (“The Dry Grass of August”) in fiction and Ruta Sepetys (“Between Shades of Gray”) in young-adult fiction.

More information: or 864-577-9349.

Writing workshops have proliferated in recent years. N.C. Writers Network Executive Director Ed Southern thinks that’s a good thing. “It shows there’s a great desire to tell stories and communicate in something more than 140 characters,” he says.

Actually, it’s probably only a matter of time before someone offers a tweet-writing workshop. When I hear about it, I’ll let you know.