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Our History

How It All Began

Carteret Writers: Origins

Carteret Writers was formed by five writers in 1983. The only founding members known by name are Kay Stephens, who wrote the bylaws, and Carol Bessant Hayman, first president of the organization. In March of 1998, under the leadership of president Les Ewen, Carteret Writers became a 501(c3) nonprofit organization. That status enabled Carteret Writers to apply for and receive grants to sponsor a local children’s writing contest as well to underwrite workshops and speakers.

As membership grew over the years, the group has included award-winning writers as well as wannabes in every genre, from teens to nonagenarians. Meetings were held in Morehead City locations; smaller genre and critique groups gathered in libraries, coffee shops, or members’ homes.

The first writing contest and awards banquet was held in 1991; gradually, cash prizes were introduced. In 1992, contest winners were published in the first issue of Shoal, a simple, stapled pamphlet. In 2006-2007, Carteret Writers increased its visibility through local media; contest submissions increased from 129 in 2008 to 182 in 2009. In 2008, a new online presence helped boost membership by fifty percent. By 2010, Shoal was produced in paperback book format.

Some contest winners have said that a Carteret Writers prize was the first payment they’d ever received for their writing. Other saw their work in print for the first time in Shoal.

Click here for a list of presidents of Carteret Writers since its founding.


Carteret Writers Today

Today, Carteret Writers continues to encourage the novice and cheer the successful in our ranks. Members have published essays, novels, memoirs, poems, creative nonfiction, poetry collections, and young adult fiction (see links to our writers’ web pages for details).

For over 20 years, we have hosted monthly luncheon meetings with such notable speakers as

  •  Malaika King Albrecht, publisher of Red Headed Stepchild and author of The Stumble Fields
  • M. Scott Douglas, poet and publisher of The Main Street Rag
  •  Kristy Woodson Harvey, USA Today bestselling author, cited for Southern Living’s “Most Anticipated Beach Reads”
  •  Ron Jackson, finalist for the Doris Betts Prize and Thomas Wolfe prize in short fiction.
  • Danny Johnson, author of The Long Road Home, winner of the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for historical fiction
  •  Janie Price, Director of Editorial Systems and Support, U.S. News & World Report
  • Nancy Smith, award-winning artist and editor of the collaborative book Women Speak: Portraits, Poetry and Prose of the Feminine Experience
  • L. Diane Wolfe, author and owner of Dancing Lemur Press

In addition, we have sponsored open mics and workshops. While in-person programming was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, the group remained connected and dynamic through its monthly newsletter and Facebook page.

Carteret Writers looks forward to producing its first member anthology; reinstituting its annual writing contest; and continuing relationships with other writers associations in North Carolina and beyond.


Consider being a member! Fill in the membership form found HERE. A year costs $30.