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INTERVIEW
OBSERVATIONS

"Any first time author can be made to look "fabulous" -- it's all about how an agent, author and publisher present the author. Every author has a background and a story, which can be told to the book- sellers and public in a boring way or a way that is spectacular."

  Barbara   Zitwer



"If an author is a terrific writer and has a voice or perspective or style that's not been seen before, there is a far greater chance it will have a place in the literary market. Though it's true that it can be tough to get a first book published, agents and editors are always looking for the next voice or story."

  Elise Capron



"Whatever you're doing in this business, whether you're an agent, editor, or writer, it's crucially important to keep on top of what's happening in the industry. Agents and editors are much more likely to take writers seriously if they can name other writers in their genre whose work they admire ..."

  W. Gottlieb



"The truth is that most publishing professionals needn't read further than that ... Judging a book in five sentences might sound like an outrageous idea. But it's really not."

  Noah Lukeman



 

Writers Talk Shop, Novel, and Algonkian Conference
     Commentary by conference attendees

     A Conversation Between Author Julie Kaewert and Michael Neff

Julie Kaewert is a master of bibliomystery. A graduate of Dartmouth and Harvard, Julie worked for book publishers in Boston and Bedford Square (London) before beginning her writing career with a London magazine. She is the author of the Booklover's Mysteries featuring Alex Plumtree and Plumtree Press. Her last novel, Uncatalogued was preceded by Unsigned, Unsolicited, Unbound, Unprintable, and Untitled. A review of Julie's work can be found here. She is currently at work on a historical fiction work entitled, The Writing Masters Daughter.

______________

When I saw the Seven Mountains Writers Conference on the website, it looked like just the thing…and it was. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations in every way. We received excellent literary writing practice and advice, as well as intensive focus on pitch development. I can't speak highly enough of the focused and efficient organization of the conference, the information itself, and then the experience of pitching to an agent. It shot me ahead on the trajectory to publishing this book—far beyond where I would be if I hadn't attended.

- Julie Kaewert
______________

MN: Julie, hi. Your curent novel-in-progress, The Writing Master's Daughter, is a departure from your earlier work. Why did you start it?

JK: For some reason I had a strong desire to build a story around words themselves, as displayed in the fine art of handwriting or calligraphy. Because of research I had done for another novel in my bibliomystery series, featuring the English bibliophile Samuel Pepys, I wanted to set it in Pepys's London of 1670. It occurred to me that the art of handwriting would be most significant in the life of a writing master (teacher), and even more significant for someone who was deaf—for whom handwriting was the only language. It would become still more vital if the deaf person were a sixteen-year-old girl who had to depend on her writing skills to save her father and her country during a time of political intrigue…and there was the plot.

MN: Can we hear some more about the story?

JK: Only the writing-master's daughter and her father, the much-admired calligrapher for King Charles II, know why she does not speak. But Grace Quespin's silence is linked to a secret so ancient and shrouded in mystery that even Grace and her father have no inkling of its significance…until one night the writing-master is seized by the King, setting in motion a terrifying series of events. From the moment she discovers an ancient volume of elaborately coded pages called the Watersmeet Book, Grace finds herself at the heart of an intricate plan—one reaching beyond Restoration London politics into dangerous, centuries-old secrets.

Desperate attempts by spies to destroy both her and the book…secret envoys for Louis XIV…mysterious underground waterways that could save England from the Dutch…dramatic rescues by a strange, hooded man…the ancient, true meaning behind our alphabet…an eerie link between each letter's meaning and the corresponding day's events…the significance of a recipe for ink…unexpected romance…all are writ large in Grace's world.

MN: What made you choose to attend the Seven Mountains Writer Conference? How did you feel about the conference?

JK: This book was a departure from my earlier mystery series in both style and setting, and I wanted some final advice and guidance before sending it into the world. Because I was changing agents, I knew it was important to learn how to package it effectively for prospective agents and publishers. When I saw the Seven Mountains Writer Conference on the website, it looked like just the thing…and it was. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations in every way. We received excellent literary writing practice and advice, as well as intensive focus on pitch development. I can't speak highly enough of the focused and efficient organization of the conference, the information itself, and then the experience of pitching to an agent. It shot me ahead on the trajectory to publishing this book—far beyond where I would be if I hadn't attended. It was also tremendously encouraging.

An unexpected benefit of the week was a memorable and enduring friendship with the other writers at the conference. We cooperated on honing one another's pitches for days and far into some nights, just because we were having so much fun together! I still think of my Algonkian conference friends and feel a common bond, a wonderful writing fellowship. I came home feeling something remarkable and life-changing had happened to me.

MN: Do you feel The Writing Master's Daughter is improved as a result? If so, how?

JK: The Algonkian conference exposed me to writing at an entirely different level; I had been writing genre fiction and finally glimpsed the world of literary fiction. Until then I had appreciated literary fiction, but had never understood how to move in that direction. Before the conference I was like a near-sighted person who could only see trees as big green blurs; at Algonkian I put on a pair of glasses for the first time. My writing life will never be the same. The greatest epiphany was learning to think in relevant symbols and then use them to tell the story.

MN: What did you find most effective about the Algonkian approach as a whole?

JK: Making theoretical instruction practical. It was tremendously effective to receive training in specific writing-enhancing techniques immediately followed by exercises that cemented that training. Ditto the pitch development; if we had developed the pitch but hadn't presented it repeatedly to both colleagues and the agents, the effect would not have been so transforming. I appreciated the intense focus of the conference; we did not waste time. It was perhaps the best-spent, most efficient education I have ever received—very well thought-out and organized.

MN: How would you compare Algonkian to other writer conferences?

JK: The Algonkian conference was focused (on developing exceptional literary writing skills, honing pitches, and presenting them), so it was much more productive. It was also much smaller and more personal, allowing each of us to receive more attention. Other writing conferences have been more scattered, and do not require exercises immediately following instruction (in my experience). Nor are those exercises presented and critiqued for immediate feedback at other conferences. I have never been to a conference that fosters the camaraderie of Algonkian instead of competition and judgment.

MN: Where does The Writing Master's Daughter go from here?

JK: I am confident it will be placed with a dedicated agent and a publisher who appreciates it. Then I hope it will transport readers to another place and time and provide them hours of enjoyment and enlightenment.


About the interviewer:
Michael Neff is the creator and director of WebdelSol.Com and the Algonkian Writer Conferences.

Web del Sol/Algonkian Workshops
2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Suite 443
Washington, D.C. 20006
algonkian@webdelsol.com
Phone: 1-800-250-8290





 
 
WRITERS AND AUTHORS
TALK ABOUT
ALGONKIAN CONFERENCES


Interview with Algonkian attendee, author Julie Kaewert: "Because I was changing agents, I knew it was important to learn how to package the MS effectively ... When I saw the Seven Mountains Writers Conference on the website, it looked like just the thing. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations in every way."   Read More...


Interview with Algonkian attendee, author Kate Gallison: "One way to lengthen your life is to stretch it backwards, and so I read a lot of history. Early movies fascinate me. They were both like and unlike stage plays of the time, borrowing actors and melodramatic plots, but developing entirely new techniques for portraying dramatic action. "   Read More...


Interview with Algonkian attendee, Greg Haas: "I could tell a story about how the process works. Fiction gave me a chance to go where non-fiction wouldn't let me--inside the heads of people at both ends of the political food chain. The final inspiration came from a strange place Karl Rove spent a great deal of time."   Read More...


Interview with Algonkian attendee, Candy Somoza: "The preparation work got us thinking about the book in the store, how it got there, what makes it sell. While we read works and studied the writing, we also focused on the outside, so to speak, the marketing, and that was essential to prepare us."   Read More...


Interview with Algonkian attendee, Barbara Marquart: I also wanted to tell a story that celebrates the deep bond between mothers and daughters - the struggles we all face to transcend our circumstances, forgive each other's failures and accept each other's limitations in order to find peace.   Read More...


Interview with Algonkian attendee, author Thierry Sagnier: "I was stuck, hadn't done any serious writing for months, and a friend of mine--also a writer--suggested I attend a workshop to kickstart me. So I looked on the net and found that there were quite a few places that offered what I wanted, but when I researched the Algonkian conference, I recognized the name of a reporter I really respect. He'd been there and was highly complimentary, so that sealed it for me."   Read More...


Interview with Algonkian attendee, Rae Bryant: "After completing the first draft of Ficklestick's , I wanted professional guidance and a community of writers to help me marinate the work. It was important to me as a first time novelist to seek feedback before finalizing the intricacies. By retaining a sense of early process malleability, I was able to really hear criticisms and then incorporate skills learned. Algonkian provided the perfect setting."   Read More...


Interview with Algonkian attendee, Alex Keto: "I've been to handful of other conferences and decided that if you find yourself in a large room with someone almost out of eyesight in the front talking at you, the results are what you would expect: generic advice that doesn't really help."   Read More...


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