NC Writer's Fall Conference

pete's ashes
Pete’s ashes

The third weekend in November I attended the North Carolina Writers’ Network Fall Conference with my long-time writing buddy, Marilyn. She brought along her husband, Pete, in a double Ziploc bag.

On Friday, after check-in, we stood out on the deck of our room at the Holiday Inn Resort at Wrightsville Beach taking in the blue sky and expansive ocean while we decided when we would scatter Pete’s ashes. So we wouldn’t miss any of the workshops, we choose Saturday right after lunch.

spreading ashes
Marilyn spreading Pete’s ashes

Pete died peacefully at home two months previously. After his cremation, his ashes had been distributed to other family members and found their way to the Pacific Ocean. Now Marilyn would have the opportunity to scatter Pete’s ashes in the Atlantic, too, where he had spent summers as a child.

The conference came at a perfect time for me. I registered for all the workshops on publishing since I’m almost done with my book. “Almost done” is relative. I had deliberately avoided diving into my options since the publishing world changes so quickly. So I took copious notes and came home with multiple threads of information jumbled in my head. Luck was on my side. Jane Friedman posted an Infographic: 4 Key Book Publishing Paths. Now I have an outline to make sense of my notes.

It turned out to be the best conference I have attended.

reading at open mic
Reading “Hello Beautiful”

I read at the open mic. Okay, so I read “Hello Beautiful” again. This time I didn’t cry.

the view from the hotel
View from our hotel room

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect—clear and sunny each day. When we were in our hotel room, we left the door to the balcony ajar so we could hear the ocean’s waves wash over the beach.

Besides learning a great deal of new information from talented, knowledgeable presenters, I networked with other writers, many of  whom had already published a book.

Me & Marilyn
Me & Marilyn

Marilyn and I had time to talk on the car trip, two hours each way, and share our experiences at the conference. I felt honored to be present while she spread Pete’s ashes. I also scattered a scoop of his ashes and thanked him for his take on some of my stories. On target, Pete.

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.


  1. Well told story. Keeping the “voice” at a consistent level while relaying a sad personal event coupled with an upbeat activity. Way to go!


  2. I’m so glad I could share the weekend, and the NCWN Fall Conference, with you, Marianna. You have help energize me to get back to my writing again. And I love that you helped sprinkle Pete’s ashes. What a peaceful setting. What a great writing buddy!!


  3. Once again, you deftly weave a story that is both sad and true with honesty and a kind of joy. Thank you.


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