How to Write a Novel:
Meredith Ritchie’s ‘Poster Girls’ was midwifed by and at Charlotte Lit
“We only find our stories by telling them, so we must be pulled by the pleasure of that unfolding process. If your only goal is to be a published author, you won’t find the energy necessary to sustain the writing process. You have to really want the story for itself.” – Paul Reali, co-founder of Charlotte Lit and an Authors Lab teacher
First-time novelist Meredith Ritchie has done what most of us only dream about. The banker and mother of grown triplets has written a novel, Poster Girls. It will be released early next year.
Of significance to Charlotte, Ritchie based her fictional novel on a true piece of the Queen City’s forgotten World War II history … an enormous munitions factory where women of all races worked together and for equal pay. She even engaged Charlotte artist, Eva Crawford, to paint the cover.
Ritchie wrote Poster Girls with the guidance of Charlotte Center for Literary Arts’ Authors Lab, an intensive program designed to guide aspiring authors through the process of writing a full-length novel or memoir.
Read more to learn how Ritchie’s novel went from concept to published book. (We hope it’ll inspire you to take your 2022 resolution of “writing more” from idea to reality.)
Brooke Brown Captures Visions of the Carolina Thread Trail
“[E]ngagement coupled with the support and technical assistance from the Carolina Thread Trail turns a line on a map to a trail on the ground.” — Bret Baronak, Director Carolina Thread Trail, led by the Catawba Lands Conservancy
Three thousand miles of trails in 15 counties in North and South Carolina. That is a bold vision
It’s the vision for the Carolina Thread Trail, a regional initiative that launched in 2006 with the mission of preserving natural spaces while at the same time connecting communities in the greater Charlotte area and establishing local partnerships. The name itself is indicative of the communities the group seeks to connect – a reference to the heritage of the textile industry woven into the history and industry of the region.
Led by the Catawba Lands Conservancy, local partnerships have established 330 miles of public trails. An additional 191 miles of trails are planned over the next five years.
To make these natural paths come alive for you, we turned to our friend and photographer, Brooke Brown, to lace up her shoes and hit the Thread Trail, camera in hand.
Read more about the Carolina Thread Trail and see Brown’s photos of her experience here.
The Partnership Pairing series is sponsored by OrthoCarolina.
@CLTBlackOwned Continues to Bolster Black Businesses
“We’re building a supportive ecosystem that requires everyone to support Black-owned, and we like to think that, so far, it’s working.” — @CLTBlackOwned
Jeff & Maddy Carothers and Ashley Creft launched @CLTBlackOwned (CBO) in June 2020 to help promote and support Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. The team set an initial goal of getting 1,000 followers on Instagram.
Within the first week, CBO reached 10,000 Instagram followers. The momentum continued, and they have grown to more than 40,000 followers on Instagram and over 1,000 email subscribers. We interviewed the CBO founders last year, just weeks into their launch. With holiday shopping upon us, we thought it was high time to circle back with them.
We checked in with the CBO team to see how they’re continuing to support Black-owned businesses, how the community can help and what’s on their radar for the coming months.
Andrea Long Finds Joy With The Charlotte Flute Choir
“The life I love is making music with my friends.” — Andrea Long
The pandemic has reminded us to find joy in the little things. In the case of Biscuit writer Andrea Long — she finds joy in a little instrument and the relationships she’s established through it. In 2019, Andrea reunited with her a long-time on-and-off-again hobby of playing the flute when she joined the Charlotte Symphony’s annual Pro-Am concert. This later led to an invitation to join the Charlotte Flute Choir.
Like much of the world, the music came to a halt in 2020 when coronavirus struck. This May, Andrea received the good news: that rehearsal would start again in June … and they’ve been making sweet music ever since.
Read on to discover how Andrea and the Charlotte Flute Chior are finding their sound (and each other) again.
Creatives from Across the Globe Meet, Love and Create Together
On Charlotte Is Creative’s weekly segment on WBTV’s QC Life, Matt Olin introduced the dynamic duo of Sydney Duarte, a local artist, and Treazy Treaz, an artist from Australia, to co-host Cheryl Brayboy. The story of how the artists met and how they fought to be together during COVID is as beautiful as the work they create together. Finally able to work side by side, the pair has painted six murals in the last four months — four in Charlotte, one in Raleigh and one in Mexico.
ONE: Wells Fargo Teams with Local Artists to Beautify Local Businesses
On Monday, a group of volunteers from Wells Fargo worked alongside Charlotte creatives Eleanor Shell, Bunny Gregory, Nkengi Freeman, Kristen Rowell, Amber Thompson and Julia Valle to enhance two women-owned businesses on West Sugar Creek Road – the Derita Dairy Bar Bar & Grill and Maria’s Grill.
Working directly with the artists, the volunteers assisted the artists in painting windows and trim, installing a new hand-painted sign, painting and installing custom planters and menu boards, prepping a wall for a future mural and creating a custom sidewalk mural.
This is the first of several projects in the Corridors of Opportunity managed by Charlotte Is Creative and funded by $75,000 from Wells Fargo’s Hope USA program to pay artists to enhance locally owned small businesses in the City’s Corridors of Opportunity. More projects are planned in the coming months.
TWO: ASC Allocates Nearly $200,000 in Artist Support Grants
The Arts & Science Council (ASC), working with the arts councils of Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln and Rowan counties, has awarded 74 regional artists $198,100 in Artist Support Grants for a wide array of creative disciplines ranging from film and theater to dance, visual arts and more. The ASC reports that more than 120 regional artists applied for available funding. By their measure, that represents a more than 150% increase of applicants for this fund in 2020.
THREE: Two Weeks Left to Apply got Wray Ward’s EmpoWWer Grant
Local 501(c)(3) nonprofits are invited to apply for EmpoWWer, a creative support program established by Charlotte agency Wray Ward. Based on the company’s three pillars — creativity, shelter and advancement, the EmpoWWer program has assisted 11 Queen City nonprofits with marketing communications assistance since launching in 2018. Those selected work directly with Wray Ward employees to address communications issues that impact their business and marketing goals. Applications close on Dec. 31.
FOUR: Online Moss Art Shop Now Open
Charlotte-based creative agency specializing in out-of-the-box initiatives, The Savage Way, has opened an online shop for premade moss art, an art form they pioneered. Moss art applies preserved moss and plants to custom-designed substrates, ranging from letters and words like “CLT” to illustrations accented by colored moss. Moss art does not need to be watered or tended.
To get in that holiday mood, you should head uptown to see the decorations that line the streets. (Like the five giant holiday cards in Polk Park that Charlotte Is Creative, publishers of The Biscuit, commissioned from local creatives with funds from Charlotte Center City Partners.) That’s easy.
What’s harder is getting a sense of what a holly, jolly Queen City used to look like back in the day. For that, we asked our friend Pat Richardson from the incredible Instagram account — @CharlotteNC.retro — to share one of his favorite photos.
For more glimpses into the Charlotte that was, follow @CharlotteNC.retro.
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