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Five finalists named in 2016 SC First Novel Prize

Hub CityThe South Carolina Arts Commission and Hub City Press announce the five books named finalists in the 2016 South Carolina First Novel Competition. The finalists are Ember by Brock Adams of Spartanburg; Falling from High Places by Michael Bruton of Charleston; The Protectorate of Bohemia by Thomas McConnell of Spartanburg; Bait by Erika Pertell of Spartanburg; and Don't Go Ramanya by Rush Leaming of Columbia. Photos and brief bios of the finalists are available on the Hub City Press website. Forty-four unpublished manuscripts were submitted for the prize. The winner will be announced later this month and will have his or her book published in 2017 by Hub City Press of Spartanburg. Bridgett M. Davis, author of Into the Go-Slow and Shifting through Neutral, is this year’s judge of the biennial First Novel contest. She is a professor at Baruch College CUNY and lives in Brooklyn. The four previous First Novel winners are Brian Ray (2008) of Columbia, author of Through the Pale Door, selected by Percival Everett; Matt Matthews (2010) of Greenville, author of Mercy Creek, selected by Bret Lott; Susan Tekulve (2012) author of In the Garden of Stone, selected by Josephine Humphreys; and James McTeer (2014) of Columbia, author of Minnow, selected by Ben Fountain. The South Carolina First Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press and the Phifer/Johnson Foundation of Spartanburg. The South Carolina State Library and South Carolina Humanities are founding partners. For more information, visit or call www.SouthCarolinaArts.com/firstnovel, (803) 734-8696; or www.hubcity.org. (864) 577-9349.  

First Novel Prize submission process is now online!

First Novel Prize submissions due March 15 Submitting your manuscript for the 2016 South Carolina First Novel Prize is now an easy (we promise) online process. The application is streamlined and requires only two document uploads: your manuscript and your resume. The competition recognizes one of South Carolina’s exceptional writers by providing a book contract with Hub City Press. Eligible applicants are writers who have not published a novel. A submitted manuscript must be an original work, and self-published books are ineligible, including e-books. Bridgett DavisApplicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make selections based on artistic merit. Six to eight novels will be judged by nationally recognized novelist Bridgett M. Davis (pictured right). Davis’ second novel, Into The Go-Slow, was selected as a best book of 2014 by Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle, BookRiot, Bustle and The Root. Her debut novel, Shifting Through Neutral, published by Amistad/Harper Collins in 2004, was a finalist for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award and was featured in national media, including NPR’s News & Notes. Davis is a professor at Baruch College, CUNY, where she teaches creative writing and journalism, and is Director of the Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence ProgramShe lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and daughter. The winning author will receive a book contract with Hub City Press, an award-winning independent press in Spartanburg, S.C. Upon successful execution of the contract with Hub City, the winner will receive a $1,000 advance against royalties. Hub City will publish at least 2,000 copies of the book, which includes a book for every public library branch in the state. James McTeer’s 2014 winning novel, Minnow, received starred reviews in Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews and favorable reviews in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Los Angeles Review of Books. The book is now in its second printing. The South Carolina First Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press and the Phifer-Johnson Foundation of Spartanburg, S.C. The Humanities CouncilSC and the South Carolina State Library are founding partners. Submission deadline is March 15, 2016. Find complete eligibility requirements and application guidelines online. Images, left to right: First Novel winners Through the Pale Door by Brian Ray (2008), Mercy Creek by Matt Matthews (2010), In the Garden of Stone by Susan Tekulve (2012), and Minnow (2014) by James McTeer.

First Novel prize winner named to Kirkus Reviews’ “Best Books of 2015”

jamesmcteer2Lexington, S.C., writer James E. McTeer II's novel Minnow has been named to Kirkus Reviews' "Best Books of 2015." The novel was included on a list of Best Debut Fiction of 2015 along with 17 other titles. Kirkus Reviews is one of the leading book review publications in the nation, reviewing more than 7,000 books annually. Its reviews are aimed at publishing insiders: bookstore and library buyers, literary agents, newspaper and magazine editors, as well as film industry rights people. Published in May 2015 by Hub City Press, Minnow was the 2014 winner of the South Carolina First Novel Prize. Since publication it has been the recipient of the following honors: Longlisted for the 2016 Crook’s Corner Book Prize, included on the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s “Ten Southern Summer Books That Sizzle,” Okra Pick from the Southern Independent Book Sellers Association, as well as being reviewed favorably in trade magazines including Publisher's Weekly, Foreword, and Library Journal (Starred Review). Related: Unpublished novelists! Submit your manuscript for the First Novel Prize! The South Carolina First Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press and the Phifer/Johnson Foundation of Spartanburg, SC. The Humanities CouncilSC and the South Carolina State Library are founding partners.

Unpublished novelists! Submit your manuscript for the First Novel Prize!

Submissions due by March 15, 2016. Polish that manuscript and submit it to the 2016 South Carolina First Novel Prize! The competition recognizes one of South Carolina’s exceptional writers by providing a book contract with Hub City Press. Eligible applicants are writers who have not published a novel. A submitted manuscript must be an original work, and self-published books are ineligible, including e-books. Bridgett DavisApplicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make selections based on artistic merit. Six to eight novels will be judged by nationally recognized novelist Bridgett M. Davis (pictured right). Davis’ second novel, Into The Go-Slow, was selected as a best book of 2014 by Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle, BookRiot, Bustle and The Root. Her debut novel, Shifting Through Neutral, published by Amistad/Harper Collins in 2004, was a finalist for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award and was featured in national media, including NPR’s News & Notes. Davis is a professor at Baruch College, CUNY, where she teaches creative writing and journalism, and is Director of the Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence ProgramShe lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and daughter. The winning author will receive a book contract with Hub City Press, an award-winning independent press in Spartanburg, S.C. Upon successful execution of the contract with Hub City, the winner will receive a $1,000 advance against royalties. Hub City will publish at least 2,000 copies of the book, which includes a book for every public library branch in the state. James McTeer's 2014 winning novel, Minnow, received starred reviews in Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews and favorable reviews in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Los Angeles Review of Books. The book is now in its second printing. The South Carolina First Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press and the Phifer-Johnson Foundation of Spartanburg, S.C. The Humanities CouncilSC and the South Carolina State Library are founding partners. Submission deadline is March 15, 2016. Find complete eligibility requirements and application guidelines online.

Seed of ‘Minnow’ grows deeply in Lowcountry lore

James McTeer II, winner of the 2014 First Novel Prize, will take part in the South Carolina Book Festival, May 15-17 in Columbia, and is the featured Speaker @ the Center, May 20, from noon to 1 p.m. at the South Carolina State Library in Columbia. Both events are free and open to the public. McTeer has several other events scheduled around the state. Check his website for details. From the Island Packet: Column by Lisa Annelouise Rentz

jamesmcteerJames McTeer II grew up in Beaufort with the family traditions of mudbogging and story-making. His grandfather was the "High Sheriff of the Lowcountry," who fought voodoo with voodoo in the twentieth century and wrote four books about it. These inheritances gave McTeer the tools to create something new. Hub City Press, in upstate South Carolina, has published McTeer's novel, "Minnow." It's the winner of the South Carolina Arts Commission's First Novel Prize. The book should be in every vacation home for its insights into Lowcountry nature, and in school libraries for its exploration of resilience. And with its conflicts between man, magic, and nature -- between exploitation and balance -- it should be on every bed- and hammock-side table in Beaufort, too. Minnow is a young boy. His father is ill, and his mother sends him to the pharmacy in a time before cell phones and health insurance. The pharmacist takes half his money ("you don't need it all") and sends him on to a witch doctor in Port Royal. Minnow walks there from Bay Street, avoiding sailors and rowdy juke joints and a monkey smoking a cigarette. Cigar-smoking men try to take the rest of his money. Dr. Crow's shack is beyond all this, at the edge of the river where Minnow is engulfed by nature and an odyssey through the jungle-crowded Sea Islands. Dr. Crow doesn't want Minnow's money. He burns a dollar bill to prove it. He wants a specific handful of dirt, and gives the boy a small pouch and big warnings. One pouch full is all the doctor needs, and it's all the boy takes, too. There is love in McTeer's voluminous descriptions of nature. He uses points of history and culture to pin down the wildness. "Minnow" is immersed in water, mud, wind, and trees, again and again. The naturescape is so dense that a horse is entombed in a tree, a branch sticks in Minnow's face, people are embedded in mud after a devastating storm, and monsters lurk. They pounce, too. Dr. Crow informs Minnow that he is up against Dr. Shrike, as in the "bird that will nail something to a thorn to kill it." Dr. Crow says "three things gonna come at you ... some are already on their way. Some of them may already be here." "What can I do?" "... Look for it, and when you see it, face it straight on. Ain't no use in running." And Minnow dives right in-- he gets a barge across the river with an old, laughing man in a straw hat, and is joined by a significant dog. Together, the boy and dog embody the beneficial balance between nature and man, between getting mauled by a boar and escaping it, and between choosing one path in the jungle over another despite the fearsome plateye. Throughout the book, the boy remains resilient by thinking of his sick father, reviewing the advice he's received, using every outdoor skill he's got, and eating barely enough: "He ate it with eyes closed, succulent like the sea itself, and thanked the warm air and the river before them for the wonderful meal." An island man named Petruchio helps him: "No one can tell you if you'll be safe. It's your road." "But the road is there." "It's a road, and it should be a quiet road." "I can walk a quiet road ... . How far will I have to go?" Minnow wasn't wondering how many miles. When I finished the book, I decided to take a walk down the street. McTeer's parents live around the corner. The book is dedicated to them. His father was in their backyard on the salt marsh. I asked him what he thinks about his son's book. He's read it three times, he explained, and showed me the copy he keeps-- "the traveling Minnow"-- for McTeer to autograph at the book signings they attend together. McTeer, his mother and his sister all work in libraries-- completely unmuddy places-- and his father spoke eloquently about language and good stories and starred reviews. "When his writing pulled me along and made me want to finish it, I felt justified in telling others it's a good book," he said. "Everything in it is fiction, it's not one of those 'who are you in the book.' The seed of "Minnow" was planted a long time ago."

First Novel Prize winner to debut book in Columbia

MinnowJoin the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press and Jasper Magazine at Tapp's Art Center on April 30 from 5:30 - 7 p.m. for the Columbia launch of Minnow, the 2014 First Novel Prize winner, written by James Edwin McTeer II. Minnow will be available for sale in hardback for $24.95, and McTeer will give a brief reading and sign books. The event is free and open to the public. Minnow is an otherworldly story of a small boy who leaves his dying father’s bedside hunting a medicine for a mysterious illness. Sent by his mother to a local druggist in their seaside village, Minnow unexpectedly takes a dark and wondrous journey deep into the ancient Sea Islands, seeking the grave dust of a long-dead hoodoo man to buy him a cure. Born and raised in Beaufort, McTeer is the grandson of the late J. E. McTeer, whose 37 years as High Sheriff of the Lowcountry (and local witch doctor) served as inspiration for the winning novel. McTeer has worked for five years as a school media specialist and is currently the librarian at Polo Road Elementary School in Columbia. He lives in Lexington with his wife, but travels to Beaufort monthly “to soak in the marsh, the mud, and the salty air.” His debut novel was selected by novelist Ben Fountain of Houston as winner in the biennial First Novel competition, which is co-sponsored by the South Carolina Arts Commission and Hub City Press in Spartanburg. Fountain, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, said, “Minnow is a gorgeous fever-dream of a novel. It picked me up by the scruff of the neck and carried me along as powerfully as a novel by Pat Conroy or Toni Morrison.” The book also has received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.  

Lexington educator wins S.C. First Novel Prize

James McTeerThe South Carolina Arts Commission and Hub City Press of Spartanburg announce James Edwin McTeer II of Lexington as the winner of the 2014 South Carolina First Novel Competition. McTeer’s novel Grave Dust from the Islands Far will be published by Hub City Press and debut at the South Carolina Book Festival in May 2015. McTeer will receive a $1,000 book advance from Hub City Press. "Grave Dust from the Islands Far is a gorgeous fever-dream of a novel,” said competition judge Ben Fountain. “McTeer's story of a young boy's quest achieves a narrative drive and depth that are rare in any novel, much less a debut effort. Grave Dust picked me up by the scruff of the neck and carried me along as powerfully as a novel by Pat Conroy or Toni Morrison. Yeah, McTeer is that good. I look forward to many more novels by this excellent young writer." Born and raised in Beaufort, McTeer is the grandson of the late J. E. McTeer, whose 37 years as High Sheriff of the Lowcountry (and local witch doctor) served as inspiration for the winning novel. McTeer, 30, has worked for five years as a school media specialist and is currently the librarian at Polo Road Elementary School in Columbia. He lives in Lexington with his wife, but travels to Beaufort monthly “to soak in the marsh, the mud, and the salty air.” “As a native of South Carolina and a child of the Lowcountry, being selected as the winner of the South Carolina First Novel Competition is the highest honor I could receive as a writer,” McTeer said. “My dream has always been to put a story on the page that would excite and entertain, and winning with a South Carolina tale makes the moment even more special." Set in a fictional Beaufort County in the late 19th century, McTeer’s novel “is a Lowcountry Heart of Darkness, evoking the work of Karen Russell,” said Betsy Teter, editor of Hub City Press. “We are thrilled to publish the enigmatic story of Minnow, who ventures deep into the voodoo world of the South Carolina Sea Islands in search of a cure for his father’s mysterious illness.” "The First Novel Prize is South Carolina’s premiere competition to discover new novelists in our state and launch their literary careers,” said Sara June Goldstein, literary arts director at the South Carolina Arts Commission. “It is the only first novel competition sponsored by a state arts commission, and it presents a unique way to appreciate the depth and breadth of the work of our remarkable writers, and then get the best of that fine writing into the hands of readers.” The competition judge, Ben Fountain, won the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for his debut novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. A native of North Carolina now living in Dallas, Fountain also is a recipient of a Pen/Hemingway award for a story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevera. Other finalists in this year's competition were Matthew Boedy of Columbia, Mary Fancher of Greer, Scott Gould of Greenville, and David A. Wright of Travelers Rest. Read more about The First Novel competition.

Finalists announced for South Carolina First Novel Prize

The South Carolina Arts Commission and Hub City Press of Spartanburg announce the five books named finalists in the 2014 South Carolina First Novel Competition. The finalists are That Strange Darkness by Matthew Boedy of Columbia; John Lee by Mary Fancher of Greer; Whereabouts by Scott Gould of Greenville; Grave Dust from the Islands Far by James Edwin McTeer II of Lexington; and An Early Harvest by David A. Wright of Travelers Rest. Thirty-four unpublished manuscripts were submitted for the prize. Photos and brief bios of the finalists are available on the Hub City Press website. The winner will be announced in early June and will have his or her book published in 2015 by Hub City Press. Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Last Halftime Walk and Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, is this year’s judge of the biennial First Novel contest. Originally from the Carolinas, Fountain now lives in Dallas, Texas. The three previous First Novel winners are Brian Ray of Columbia, author of Through the Pale Door (2008), selected by Percival Everett; Matt Matthews of Greenville, author of Mercy Creek (2010), selected by Bret Lott; and Susan Tekulve, author of In the Garden of Stone, selected by Josephine Humphreys. The South Carolina First Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press and the Phifer/Johnson Foundation of Spartanburg. The Humanities CouncilSC and the South Carolina State Library are founding partners. For more information, visit or call www.SouthCarolinaArts.com/firstnovel, (803) 734-8696; or www.hubcity.org. (864) 577-9349.

First Novel Prize winner receives Gold IPPY Award

Susan TekulveCongratulations to Susan Tekulve and Hub City Press! Tekulve's novel, In the Garden of Stone, has received a Gold IPPY Award as the best novel published in the South by an independent press in 2014. The novel also won the South Carolina First Novel Prize, as judged by Josephine Humphreys. The annual Independent Publisher Book Awards are open to publishers worldwide who publish in the English language for the North American market. Tekulve's award is Hub City Press's 13th IPPY in the past 15 years, and its fifth gold award. An award ceremony will be held May 28 in New York City. In the Garden of StoneThe book is a multi-generational story of Sicilian immigrants who come to the coal mines of West Virginia in the early 20th century. Harrowing and beautifully told, In the Garden of Stone is a haunting saga of endurance and redemption. Tekulve’s nonfiction, short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, including Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, The Georgia Review, Connecticut Review, and Shenandoah. She is the author of two story collections, My Mother’s War Stories, which received the 2004 Winnow Press fiction prize, and Savage Pilgrims, (Serving House Books, 2009). Tekulve has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and teaches writing at Converse College. Via: Hub City Press

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A final reminder about the First Novel Competition!

The March 3 deadline is near! We hope you've finished your manuscript and are ready to send it our way. Applications must be postmarked (or hand-delivered to the S.C. Arts Commission offices before 5 p.m.) The South Carolina First Novel Prize recognizes one of South Carolina’s exceptional writers by providing a book contract with Hub City Press. Eligible applicants are writers who have not published a novel. A submitted manuscript must be an original work, and self-published books are ineligible, including e-books. Find all the details online.