High Road Fesitival Logo 2018.jpg

March 23, 2019

with Friday night and Sunday morning options

Embassy Suites

460 N Cherry Street

Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Online Registration is now closed. Walk-up registration at the event is welcomed! 

Short Fiction Master Classes and seminars

March 23, 2019



Time: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Alone with All That Could Happen: Rethinking Conventional Wisdom about the Craft of Fiction

We’ll explore the key elements of fiction writing, focusing on correcting common misconceptions about the creative process, point of view, style, characterization, plot, and revision that prevent our fiction from reaching its full potential and earning publication. Handouts on these and related subjects will be provided and will help guide our discussion.

David Jauss is the author of four collections of short stories, including Glossolalia: New & Selected Stories and Nice People: New & Selected Stories II, two volumes of poetry, and the essay collection On Writing Fiction. His stories have won the AWP Award and NEA and Michener Fellowships and been reprinted in Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Prize and Pushcart Prize anthologies. He teaches fiction writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.



Time: 2-5 p.m.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Starting with the idea of revision, this class will examine the importance of structure in the employment of crucial details of plot, character, setting, dialogue, and theme, all aimed at creating for the reader an experience writer John Gardner called "the vivid and continuous waking dream."

Clint McCown has published four novels and five volumes of poems. He is the only two-time recipient of the American Fiction Prize and has worked as a screenwriter for Warner Bros. and a Creative Consultant for HBO television. He has edited a number of literary journals, including the Beloit Fiction Journal, which he founded in 1984. He teaches in the MFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University and in the low-residency MFA program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Short Fiction Seminars

(alphabetical by instructor last name)

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Times: 10:30-11:45 a.m. and 2-3:15 p.m.

What Makes a Chapbook Work? With M. Scott Douglass
M. Scott Douglass will discuss the history of the chapbook, how it has been defined and redefined over time, and how to make it a successful format for sharing one’s work in today’s market. We’ll discuss contests, self-publishing, organization, production, marketing and sales expectations.

M. Scott Douglass is the founder, publisher, and managing editor of Main Street Rag Publishing Company. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and a NC Arts & Science Council grant recipient. His cover designs have won two PICA Awards and several Indie Press nominations. His work has appeared most recently in The Asheville Poetry Review, The Midwest Review, Gargoyle, North American Review, San Pedro River Review, and Slipstream. His most recent book of poems, Just Passing Through, was released in 2017 from Paycock Press.

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Times: 9-10:15 a.m. and 2-3:15 p.m.

Finding Magic in Minutia
Small details can add richness to both character and plot, and in this session we will focus on drawing on our everyday experiences and environments to create more dynamic writing. Rather than being a distraction, we will discuss how ordinary life can transform our pages to extraordinary. We will also look at passages of example texts, and use these as a jumping off point for writing exercises that support participants' writing practice.

Wendy J. Fox is the author of The Seven Stages of Anger and Other Stories, which was the inaugural winner of the Press 53 Award for Short Fiction, as well as the novel The Pull of It, and the forthcoming novel If the Ice Had Held.


Times: 10:30-11:45 a.m. and 3:30-4:45 p.m.

From Rough Draft to Final Draft: The Best You Can Make It

Editors and agents want to see your very best work. To improve your chances of a favorable response from these critical readers, you need to make your manuscript as close to perfect as you can. A rough draft isn't good enough. In this seminar, we'll develop a checklist of steps for the revision process, everything you need to turn your rough draft into a polished product ready for submission.

Clifford Garstang is the author of the novel in stories, What the Zhang Boys Know: A Novel in Stories, winner of the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Fiction, and a story collection, In an Uncharted Country, both from Press 53, and is the editor of the Press 53 anthology series Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet. His novel, The Shaman of Turtle Valley, will be published in March 2019, by Braddock Avenue Books.


Time: 2-3:15 p.m.

Flash Fiction: Reading, Writing, Publishing

Why write Flash Fiction? One reason: it’s a deeply satisfying way to boost your writerly morale, start something new, and even publish, while you’re in the long slog that is your novel or story revision. We’ll read and write as many flash fiction pieces as we can in the time allotted. A great way to generate new work and refresh your writing life.  Writers may choose to write flash essays from the prompts.

Marjorie Hudson is the author of a story collection, Accidental Birds of the Carolinas, and a creative nonfiction exploration, Searching for Virginia Dare, both from Press 53. Her work has won many awards and fellowships, notably from the Hemingway Foundation and PEN. She teaches creative writing through her own Kitchen Table Workshops, and her current project is an epic novel about a mythical field in the rural South. 


Times: 10:30-11:45 a.m. and 3:30-4:45 p.m.

The Self-Told Story: Crafting a Complex, Believable First Person Narrator

Is your protagonist in charge of telling her own story? Is she tricky or trustworthy? Quiet or loquacious? Is she like you at all? Is she a mystery? This workshop will explore the particularities of first person narrators and how to make them into convincing characters in their own right. Areas of focus include the crafting of voice; character reliability, agency, and motivation; and the complications presented by memory and subjective experience.

Jen Julian holds an English PhD from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and a Fiction MFA from UNC Greensboro. Her debut short story collection, Earthly Delights and Other Apocalypses, won the 2018 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction, and her most recent fiction has appeared in TriQuarterly, Beecher’s Magazine, Greensboro Review, and Cleaver. She currently lives in Pennsylvania serving as English faculty at Allegheny College, but she considers North Carolina her home.


Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m.

This They Believe: Your Characters Are Not You

The novelist Margaret Mitchell talked about the difficulty of creating characters who are fleshed-out people rather than puppets, and some writers—for example Victor Hugo and Dawn Powell—compared their novels to laboratories. They put their characters in environments and then watched what happened. Characters shouldn’t be mouthpieces for an author. In this session, we’ll discuss how to give characters their freedom (difficult as that may be) even in small spaces such as flash fiction.

Joseph Mills is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and has published six volumes of poetry with Press 53, including This Miraculous Turning which was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry. In the spring of 2018 he will publish the fiction collection, Bleachers.