Charlotte Readers Podcast Debuts

As a recovering trial lawyer, I wanted make room for writing, reading, and learning new things. So I came up with the idea of a podcast for readers and writers, focused on Charlotte-area authors.  The result is the Charlotte Readers Podcast which hits the scene in early October.

I’ve always loved to read. In my twenties and thirties, I read historical fiction, Louis L’Amour’s westerns, most of John Grisham, and any number of thrillers, but as time went on, I began to read any fiction that sounded good to me. Lately, I’m reading books by authors I’ve met, classics, and as before, anything that sounds good.

Four years ago, my reading life and my writing life merged when I wrote a Christmas story for my family about a lawyer who saves Christmas. Two books later, I had a trilogy. Along the way, I joined writing groups, took classes at Charlotte Lit, served as co-chair of the speaker program for Charlotte Writers Club, and had the pleasure of meeting many talented Charlotte-area authors.

It struck me that Charlotte is full of quality authors with great stories to tell. This medium—this podcast thing—can connect authors and their voices to listeners who enjoy good stories and poems. So with my retirement from the law firm coming at the end of this year, I said to myself: Why not do this? I’d talked about it a year ago with Kathie Collins and Paul Reali. They liked the idea, so I stored the thought away until I made the decision to retire from the law firm and got the courage to try something technologically uncomfortable.

I call this Charlotte Readers Podcast because it’s a show for Charlotte-area authors (and those who visit the Queen City) to read their work and for listeners to hear great stories and poems that have been published or won awards or contests.

We’ll tape the show in different places. Sometimes, in a studio. And sometimes, on the road—perhaps in a library or book store.

And we’ll make it easy for people to listen on their devices or their computers, with information on our website about how and where to find the episodes.

The format will be simple. We’ll start with a story or poem, then meet the author and talk about their work. Most of the time, we’ll have complete stories and poems. You know, the kind that have a beginning, middle and end. But don’t worry, because as you know, many good stories and poems start closer to the middle, where the action is. Authors tend to skip “Once Upon a Time” and start with that “Dark and Stormy Night.” And much of what you hear on this show will be just that, stories and poems that pull you in from the beginning.

The author episodes for Season One will run from early October through December and feature eleven Charlotte-area authors, with connections to Charlotte Lit and Charlotte Writers Club. Charlotte Lit co-founders Kathie Collins and Paul Reali appear on the show, along with a number of Charlotte Lit instructors, including Paula Martinac, Judy Goldman, and Tracy Curtis. All the authors have been published and won awards, including contests at Charlotte Writers Club. I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the stories and poems in Season One and have enjoyed the on-air conversations with the authors about their work. I’m already thinking about Season Two.

I hope you’ll consider listening to the podcast and sharing it with others. Think of it like an open mic night you can carry in your phone or on your computer and listen whenever it suits you.

The backstory episode is now live and available on Apple Podcasts and wherever you like to listen to podcasts. In that episode, I read a short story, discuss the mission of the podcast and introduce the speakers for Season One.

You can find out more on at:  and www.facebookcom/charlottereaderspodcast.

Read on,

Landis Wade is a Charlotte attorney and author who starts each day walking Gus and Lori, two rescue dogs named after characters in Larry McMurtry’s classic western, Lonesome Dove. His third book—The Christmas Redemption—won the Holiday category of the 12th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards. He won the 2016 North Carolina State Bar short story contest for “The Deliberation” and received awards in 2017 and 2018 for his non-fiction pieces, “The Cape Fear Debacle” and “First Dance.” His essays have been published in The Charlotte Observer and the Bearing Up anthology by Daniel Boone Footsteps, and his writing craft article inspired by best-selling author Craig Johnson appeared in in June 2018. When Landis doesn’t have a dog leash, keyboard or digital recorder in his hands, he’s probably holding a fly-rod, a golf club or a cold beverage at a Carolina Panthers or Charlotte Knights game.

Review of Kathryn Schwille’s “What Luck, This Life”

Kathryn Schwille has written a riveting debut novel that brilliantly juxtaposes recovery efforts in the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia explosion with the daily challenges facing the residents of a small East Texas town who literally pick up the pieces. What Luck, This Life illuminates life in small-town America, capturing perfectly the cadence of people too often relegated to one-dimensional caricatures. Kathryn paints a word picture of the people and places in fictional Kiser, Texas, so authentic and affecting that both are instantly relatable.

She also captures the real-life horror of the shuttle disaster and the macabre scavenger hunt that ensued to reclaim the parts, human and otherwise, strewn across the landscape. Down a dirt road in a pasture, a young boy, whose intuitive skills render him strange and different to the townsfolk, spots an astronaut’s body stuck in a tree, with “no foot at the end of the leg.” His dad (separated from the boy’s mother after revealing that he’s gay) uses a bucket truck to bring it down, finding the body’s smell “sharp, but not yet foul…. The crows had been on him; their droppings on his chest.” At an elderly black man’s home, a female astronaut’s severed hand is found in a backyard woodpile. Across town, the police chief tells NASA—which asserts no bodies will be found because they would have burned up—that  “a man found a leg out on 621….  What do you want him to do, put it in a 4X4 and bring it to you?”

The recovery efforts become a tantalizing backdrop to the human drama already unfolding for the working class residents of Kiser, “a dinky, third fiddle town near the Sabine River, a rank and slither-filled water that keeps Texas apart from Louisiana.” Schwille uses time fluidly, easily shifting back and forth through years, months, even days, to underscore how decisions made—or delayed—mold and change lives.

The characters reflect a diversity of small-town life that’s refreshing. Some are likable; some not. But their voices and experiences shine with authenticity. They tackle the myriad problems we all know so well, and of which small towns are not immune—domestic violence, drug abuse, depression, suicide, illness, love, divorce, death.

What Luck, This Life is enhanced by Schwille’s keen observation skills, honed during her years as a journalist. That skill shows in her beautifully detailed descriptions that bring the East Texas landscape to life. Yet it is her wordsmanship, and the delightful lyricism of her prose, that make the novel special. “Pine warbler opens song…a one-note trill that goads aside the shroud of dawn. She perches on a tulip tree that’s uncommon in this forest, its life a chance of brawny wind from far-off meadow… At tip of crown, a tiny bulge of someday leaf protrudes toward winter’s day, though limbs still hold dried cups of spent samaras—dead leaves pointing skyward, spoils of hope. Where warbler sings, a branch is broken, and down below, another: jagged rips that came yesterday, that came with shake and roar…. Drunk with pleasure at morning mist, roots register all landings – this weight tiny, that one big.”


At every juncture, What Luck is quietly, almost stealthily, thought-provoking and contemplative. One character laments the nature of death and “the forces at play within us,” and declares “what do any of us know about how the end truly comes about.” It is a wonderment and mystery we can all recognize.

This is a debut novel to treasure and to ponder. Readers will find themselves returning again and again to the people and places in Kiser, Texas, for the truths and wisdom they reveal about and to all of us.

Fannie Flono, retired associate editor of The Charlotte Observer, is an award-winning journalist and author of Thriving in the Shadows: The Black Experience In Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Kathryn Schwille reads from What Luck, This Life at Park Road Books, Thursday, September 20, 7 to 8:30 pm.

Literary Arts Events & Book Releases for Fall 2018

Compiled from multiple sources by Lisa Zerkle.

Fall brings a fresh slate of book releases and literary events for writers and readers to note.  We’ve rounded up some highlights here, but this is by no means a complete listing. Keep an eye on events calendars for Park Road Books, Queens University (try here and here), and UNCC. If you’re willing to venture further afield, Davidson College and Main Street Books Davidson both have a slate of readings and events, most free and open to the public.  While we didn’t list it here, Lenoir Rhyne’s Visiting Writers Series celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. If you’re willing to drive to Hickory on a weeknight, you’ll find a host of excellent writers including Laila Lalami, Li-Young Lee, and Juan Felipe Herrera. Lit’s weekly newsletter calls out local lit arts events and we do our best to mention them on our website, too. Let us know if there’s something we missed.

Kathryn Schwille reading: What Luck, This Life
Thursday September 20, 7 to 8:30 pm at Park Road Books

What Luck, This Life begins in the aftermath of the space shuttle’s break-up, as the people of Piney Woods watch their pastures swarm with searchers and reporters bluster at their doors. A shop owner defends herself against a sexual predator who is pushed to new boldness after he is disinvited to his family reunion. A closeted father facing a divorce that will leave his gifted boy adrift retrieves an astronaut’s remains. An engineer who dreams of orbiting earth joins a search for debris and instead uncovers an old neighbor’s buried longing. Info

Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness, Reynolds Lecture (free, but tickets required)
Tuesday, September 25, 7 pm at Davidson College

Writer, TV host and producer, and advocate Janet Mock’s bestselling memoir Redefining Realness was the first autobiography written from the perspective of a trans girl. She produced the MSNBC series Beyond My Body and the HBO documentary The Trans List. Mock is a contributing editor at Allure, where she writes the column “Beauty Beyond Binaries.”

The First Annual Yorkville Literary Festival
October 5-6

Friday: Poetry Slam and Open Mic at the Sylvia, 9 pm. Saturday: events from 10 am-2 pm, including author presentations inside shops and cafes along Congress Street, children’s read-alouds, writing activities, and street performers. Downtown York. Info

Launch Party and Reading: Jeff Jackson, Destroy All Monsters
Friday October 19, 7-9 pm at Goodyear Arts

An epidemic of violence is sweeping the country: musicians are being murdered onstage in the middle of their sets by members of their audience. Are these random copycat killings, or is something more sinister at work? Has music itself become corrupted in a culture where everything is available, everybody is a “creative,” and attention spans have dwindled to nothing? With its cast of ambitious bands, yearning fans, and enigmatic killers, Destroy All Monsters tells a haunted and romantic story of overdue endings and unlikely beginnings that will resonate with anybody who’s ever loved rock and roll.

Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina Poet Laureate, Q&A on Poetry, Activism,and Community
Tuesday, October 30, 7:30 pm, at Davidson College

Jaki Shelton Green teaches Documentary Poetry at Duke University Center for Documentary Studies and is a 2014 NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee, 2009 NC Piedmont Laureate, 2007 Sam Ragan Award in Fine Arts and won the 2003 North Carolina Award in Literature. Open to the public. No tickets are required.

Verse and Vino, fundraiser for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation
November 1, 6 to 9:30 pm, Charlotte Convention Center

Featuring authors Elliot Ackerman, Lou Berney, Casey Gerald, Paula McClain, Julia Reed. Tickets required. Info

North Carolina Writers Network Fall Conference Hilton Charlotte University Place
Friday-Sunday, November 2-4, 2018

The Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities that include readings, keynotes, tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and the opportunity for one-on-one manuscript critiques with editors or agents. For the first time, this year the conference offers a full slate of sessions designed specifically for writers of stage and screen. In addition, as part of the Network’s ongoing mission to serve writers at all levels of experience, the Charlotte Lit will sponsor a “Business of Writing” track at Fall Conference for those who feel ready to take their manuscripts to market. Conference faculty include professional writers from North Carolina and beyond, including John Amen, Bryn Chancellor, Morri Creech, Sarah Creech, Julie Funderburk, Judy Goldman, Patrice Gopo, Maureen Ryan Griffin, Jodi Helmer, Kathy Izard, Paula Martinac, Dannye Romine Powell, Paul Reali, Amy Rogers, Betsy Thorpe, Kim Wright, Lisa Zerkle. Registration now open. Info

Morri Creech reading, Blue Rooms
Tuesday November 13 at Queens University

The Arts at Queens presents Writer in Residence Morri Creech reading from his fourth poetry collection, Blue Rooms, for the English Department Reading Series. These poems explore the terrain between conscious perception and the objective world and include references to such artists as Magritte and Goya. Creech’s last book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

December 4X4CLT Poetry and Art Poster release with featured poet, Maurice Manning
Friday November 30 at Resident Culture Brewing, Saturday December 1 at Charlotte Lit

December’s 4X4CLT features Maurice Manning who will read at the release party on Friday November 30 at Resident Culture Brewing in Plaza Midwood and teach a master class at Charlotte Lit on Saturday December 1. Manning teaches at Transylvania University in Kentucky and is on faculty at Warren Wilson’s MFA program. He is the author of six books, the latest, One Man’s Dark, published in 2017. In 2010 his book The Common Man was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Manning’s poem “Orchard at the Bottom of the Hill” recently appeared in Time.

Something for Everyone: Charlotte Lit’s 2018-19 Class Catalog

You can’t please everyone…or can you?

Charlotte Lit’s 2018-19 Class Catalog has arrived, and we think it has something for everyone. More than 50 classes covering different genres, formats, lengths, teachers, and topics…it’s a cornucopia. Here’s a quick guide to navigating your choices.

Craft Classes focus on writing skills.

Are you writing? Chances are good we have something for you. On the calendar: poetry, fiction (short story, flash, novel, mysteries, and romance), nonfiction (personal essay, memoir, travel writing), playwriting, and more.

Have favorite teachers—or want to find some new favorites? We have 40 of them! We bet you’ll know some of these names: In poetry, we have Abbott, Creech, Funderburk, Honeycutt, and Pinckney. In memoir and other nonfiction: Curtis, Goldman, Gopo, Griffin,  Helmer, Rogers, and Syverson.

In fiction, how about Chancellor, Martinac, (another) Creech, and Radavich? In genre fiction classes, Peterson (romance) and Pickens (mysteries). And finally, many of us write in more than one genre, so we have classes that span them, with Schwille, Sherman, West and Pollard-Smith, and more.

Workshopping sessions use MFA-style feedback to help you improve your work.

Tony Abbott returns with his hybrid class—this year, on Mary Oliver!—teaching her work and workshopping yours. Dannye Romine Powell also returns, to lead a dedicated poetry workshopping group. And, fiction writers get both lessons and high-level feedback in Paula Martinac’s Short Story 101.

Business of Writing classes are about the work of being a writer.

Here we run the gamut from the tools you write with (Scrivener, blogging platforms, and more) and who you write for (ghostwriting and freelancing) to how it gets published and sold (self-publishing, marketing, and finding an agent).

Explorations in Creativity and Culture are experiences with the world of words.

We did say “something for everyone,” so you don’t have to be a writer to enjoy our many lit-based explorations.

Just some of the many options: Kathie Collins’ Art & Archetype series (four parts, à la carte); Sam Shapiro on film and David Poston on Frankenstein; Cathy Hasty on wellness, and Brenda Sorkin and Kathryn Schwille on movement; Catherine Anderson and Karon Luddy each offering their own perspective on journaling; and mythologist Dennis Patrick Slattery—in Charlotte Lit’s first two-day retreat—on reconnecting with our creative selves. Also in this category: free events, including a Creativity Salon with Kim Wright, and Creating a Better Year (kicking off 2019) with Cathy Pickens.

We know you’ll find something—and maybe many things—to enjoy at Charlotte Lit this year. Drop by our home page to get started…and tell your friends! We need you to help “spread the words.”