LITERARY TOOLS: “I think it’s more friendly … than a lot of conferences,” says N.C. Writers’ Network Executive Director Ed Southern. “The purpose of our fall conference is to help writers produce those good manuscripts and get them into the hands of the right publisher or the right agent.” Pictured, the network’s 2013 Fall Conference in Wilmington.

North Carolina Writers’ Network celebrates 30th anniversar­y at fall conference in Asheville

“We try to honor the local literary of whatever locale we happen to be in that year,” says Nort Carolin Writers’ Network Executive Director Ed Southern. The three-day fall conference rotates locations throughout the state and this year it returns to Asheville, taking place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore Friday to Sunday, Nov. 20-22.

SHARED INSPIRATION: “As a white kid growing up playing guitar, I was as influenced by the music of Jimi Hendrix as Jimmy Page,” says author and musician David Gilbert. “I don’t think you can separate interesting cultural forms and innovation, which everybody can do. Everybody should have access to the music of Duke Ellington and the dance of Josephine Baker.”

Author David Gilbert challenges racial assumption­s in modern music

“The idea that black people and white people have distinct music and culture has its roots in racist thinking.”,” says author David Gilbert. It’s a concept he delves into in The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace. Gilbert holds a book launch and discussion at Malaprop’s Saturday, Nov. 14.

ILLUSTRATING INSURRECTION: Artist Phil Blank will shwcase several illustrations from the book Dixie Be Damned at an exhibit at Blue Spiral 1 in Asheville on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. Image courtesy of Phil Blank.

Of the people, for the people: artist Phil Blank exhibits illustrati­ons from Dixie Be Damned

Inspired by Authors/activists Neal Shirley and Saralee Stafford’s book Dixie Be Damned, artist Phil Blank has created stunning visual representations of the hard-fought, often violent struggles of the disenfranchised throughout Southern history, from the coalfields of Tennessee to the anti-KKK partisan groups that roamed Robeson County, N.C., during Reconstruction.

CREATIVE LICENSE: In addition to the 40 paintings that appear in With a Mighty Hand, Daniel Nevins also created some alternate images, such as this abstract of the burning bush.

Daniel Nevins exhibits paintings inspired by the Torah

Childrens book publisher Candlewick Press paired local artist Nevins with writer Amy Ehrlich and together they created With a Mighty Hand: The Story in the Torah. Nevins’ part of that publication was a series of 40 narrative paintings depicting various characters and scenes from the first five books of the Bible. Those works will be shown for the first time, alongside some of Nevins’ related paintings and large-scale abstracts, at UNC Asheville’s S. Tucker Cooke Gallery. An opening reception takes place Thursday, Sept. 24.

HISTORY MYSTERY: In Lisa Wingate's new novel The Sea Keeper’s Daughters (her 25th book in 14 years), the mixed-race Melungeon people of the Appalachian mountains and a group of oral history gathers, subsidized by government funds, are at the center of the plot.

Lisa Wingate writes about Melungeon people and Federal Writers’ Project in new novel

The Sea Keeper’s Daughters is part history and part mystery. It follows the stories of three characters: present day restaurant owner Whitney; her grandmother Ruby, who lived in the Excelsior hotel on the Outer Banks; and Ruby’s twin sister Alice, a member of the Depression-era Federal Writer’s Project, stationed in Western North Carolina. Author Lisa Wingate presents her book at Malaprop’s on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

The Appalachian Trail Game's special edition content has an even tighter focus on stewardship, according to founder and avid hiker Mark Hanf, who was inspired to create the first Thru Hike edition when he found a trashed campsite. He'll donate 5 percent of sales from the board game to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfundi­ng initiative­s

Each week, Xpress highlights notable WNC crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd. This week features the second edition of Appalachian Trail-inspired board game Thru Hike plus nonprofit literary press Orison Books’ fundraising efforts for three new spiritually-inclined books.