Best Little Novel Workshop Retreat in the East

September 25 - 29, 2024

From the Heart, But Smart
The Potomac, Chapters, and Solutions

Why are the first 50 pages make or break? What is a sure method to conceive a story that will actually sell? Should you join a writer's group or no? All these questions, and ones involving matters far more advanced, will be addressed, but that's just for starters. We've been working successfully with new novel writers since 2002.

This workshop retreat takes place at Algonkian Park in Virginia--a pristine and rather enormous expanse of state park beside the Potomac River, yet only minutes from quality restaurants and shopping in Sterling. The local wildlife and deer families, the many hiking trails, and scenic walks along the river, all combine to provide you with an environment conducive to creativity and productive writing.

Our professional faculty will assist you with beginning your novel or finishing it, not to mention all else inbetween. They'll also guide you through the process of enhancing your writer skill set and honing your craft technique. They will read your work, and you can even pitch a literary agent or two, whatever helps you develop your novel and discover your vision as a writer. Via the Algonkian Writer Retreat Application please inform us of your priorities.

By the way, what follows is one of our most frequently asked questions, the answer to which goes right to our core mission:
    My novel is at an early concept stage. Is this event right for me?
This workshop retreat is for writers at all stages. If we're working on story premise and plot development, for example, then the sooner you master these two elements, the better for your novel, and for you as a writer. Why spend an extra two or three years on a development arc that won't work? Or on a premise that won't sell? Why not solve these critical elements ASAP, and in a manner that gives you a realistic chance at publication?

What is Included?

The event features a broad range of faculty, an array of vital workshops, as well as extended personal time with business professionals. The event fee (see "Registration") includes five nights lodging at cottages in Algonkian Park (private rooms), two meals per day, all shops and consult sessions, formal meetings with faculty, pre-event forums and materials, as well as the post-event novel editorial program (see "Crucial Prep and Post-Event"). There are no other costs associated with participation in the event. Like other Algonkian events, this workshop retreat begins before you arrive and continues after you depart.

The Counting of Days

On Tuesday evening, September 24, 2024, all writers will meet for dinner at a designated time TBA. An orientation session will cover details and expectations for the next several days come Wednesday morning. Workshop sessions begin at 9 AM and generally end between 4 PM and 5 PM, Wednesday through Saturday. On Sunday, the retreat concludes by 2 PM. More information as follows:

On the first day of the workshop retreat, writers attend a workshop with Michael Neff and Chris Stewart wherein their stories and projects are discussed and reviewed in detail with an aim towards making them commercially publishable. At the close of day, writers are provided with assignments focusing on their opening scenes, as well as initial character portrayal and plot points.

On day number two, the writers return to the workshop in the morning to review and discuss the assignments as they pertain to their work-in-progress. In the afternoon, writers pitch their work for further review and critique.

On days three and four, writers juggle retreat seclusion as appropriate and necessary with attendance at individual consults and workshops on competitive narrative, characters, and novel development led by our accomplished faculty.

On the final day, Sunday, writers meet one-on-one with workshop leaders to recap and arrive at a mutually agreeable publication plan, i.e., a detailed approach regarding what the writer must do following the event to remain on a realistic path to publication, and with realizable goals. Also discussed is the Algonkian post-event novel editing and development program which is included with the retreat.

Distinguished Faculty

Emily Williamson began her stellar career as an editor in 2011 with Chrysalis Editorial in Washington, DC. In 2016 she founded Williamson Literary. She is looking for future best sellers in all genres except romance. She favors clear and fast-paced plotlines, authoritative writing, solid knowledge of the formula for "a page turner," and solid author platform. In the context of literary fiction she is searching for stellar, beautiful writing, unusual and unforgettable characters, and unique settings. Emily holds an MA from John Hopkins University. Her literary agent website can be found here.

Art Taylor is the author of the story collection The Boy Detective & The Summer of '74 and Other Tales of Suspense and of the novel in stories On the Road with Del & Louise, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. He won the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Short Story for English 398: Fiction Workshop originally published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and he has won three additional Agatha Awards, an Anthony Award, three Macavity Awards, and three consecutive Derringer Awards for his fiction. He is an associate professor of English at George Mason University. More at www.arttaylorwriter.com.

Carol Mitchell is an accomplished and award-winning author. Her upcoming novel What Start Bad a Mornin' will be published soon and she's written a total of eighteen books for children, including three published by HarperCollins UK. Carol holds an MFA, is a fellow of the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and teaches writing at George Mason and George Washington Universities. A 2018 interview with her can be found here.

Michael Neff, Algonkian founder and director, is a tv/film scout, literary journal editor, and published author. He is the author of the literary political novel about the Reagan years in Washington, All The Dark We Will Not see, creator and co-editor of Magician's Impossible from Macmillan Books, and the author of Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker. His short fiction has appeared in many classic literary journals including North American Review, The Literary Review, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Quarterly West, and Conjunctions. Via his workshops and editorial expertise he has assisted dozens of writers in obtaining commercial contracts and representation.

Christine Stewart holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Hollins University and an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland. Some of her publications include Ploughshares, Poetry, Five Points, Smartish Pace, and The Cortland Review. Awards include an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from The Poetry Foundation. She has taught at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Carver Center for Arts and Technology, and the Johns Hopkins Odyssey program. Her novel, The Heresy of Silence is forthcoming from Serving House Books. She offers book editing and critique services for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry at The Real Writer, and she is also editor chief of the distinguished and controversial Del Sol Press.

Richard Washer is a playwright, educator and director. He is a founding member of Charter Theatre, a professional theatre company dedicated to the development and production of new plays, where he served as dramaturge, director and playwright. He currently serves as Associate Artistic Director at First Draft at The Rose Theatre in Virginia. He is the author of fourteen produced plays at venues that include Source Theatre, New Works Theatre, Charter Theatre, The Earl Hamner Junior Theatre and others. He has directed productions of musicals, classics, new plays, and dozens of new play readings at these and other venues. Richard teaches creative writing and playwriting workshops at numerous institutions including First Draft and The Writer's Center. He holds a MFA in Creative Writing from The American University.

Crucial Prep and Post-Event

Following registration, writers receive by email specific pre-event assignments, readings, and even a dedicated eBook, all of which are found in the novel development forums of Algonkian Author Connect (AAC). At the conclusion of the retreat, you will be provided a follow-up novel editorial and development program, also found at AAC, which includes additional faculty mentoring. Participation is strictly voluntary, but we strongly encourage it, especially if you're serious about writing a novel you wish to see published.

Application, Registration, Contracts, Etc.

Comments and Contracts

Our updated "Algonkian Book Contracts" page features workshop and conference observations over several years, including the following by author Stephanie Anagnoson relevant to the this event: "I went to the Algonkian Novel Workshop with a mostly complete novel. We worked on issues particular to the novel form including drama theory, plotting, structure, and character development. I returned home with many helpful notes, particularly about structural elements. Within six weeks, I had a revised novel, and two weeks later, a literary agent."

Dates and Application

This 2024 retreat takes place at Algonkian Park in Virginia on Sept. 25 - 29 with arrival on Tuesday the 24th. If you have reviewed the mission and location, and found the dates suitable for retreat purposes, the next step is to fill out the Algonkian Writer Retreat application and tell us about yourself, your writing life, and what you wish to accomplish at the retreat.

Cars and Cottages

You will not need to rent a vehicle if you are staying at the Park. If you arrive via Dulles Airport, you can take a cab to Algonkian Park for around $30. Uber, of course, is cheaper, and if you take the train out to the Wiehle Avenue stop in Reston, you can cab or Uber to the park for $20 to $30. We recommend arriving on Tuesday afternoon by 4:00 PM for purposes of orientation and group dinner. Transportation will be provided as necessary for procuring items at local stores and also for social dinners in the evening. The nearby town of Sterling is crowded with restaurants within easy driving distance.

Retreat writers will stay in spacious and updated cottages located in Algonkian Park and facing the Potomac River, all with large and well-crafted decks. See the info page here for more details regarding park lodging. Each writer has a private room unless they make their own separate sharing arrangements ahead of time. Cottages also come with a complete kitchen, fireplace, large living room and dining area, a new wall-mounted digital TV, and excellent WiFi.

Writers have the option of paying the lower "commuter fee" and securing their own lodging. Options in the nearby area are plentiful, including AirBnB, VRBO, an array of motels and hotels, plus BnB establishments.

Registration for Event

Upon application approval, registration for the Algonkian Writer Retreat is $1195.00 until September 15 when it increases to $1295.00, and the link is found below. We process payments via Paypal because it has proved itself over the years to be secure and trustworthy. If necessary and requested, a full refund will be provided up to 30 days before the retreat.

As noted above, the event fee includes five nights lodging at cottages in Algonkian Park (private rooms), two meals per day, all shops and consult sessions, formal meetings with faculty, pre-event forums and materials, as well as the post-event novel editorial program (see "Crucial Prep and Post-Event"). There are no other costs associated with participation in the event.

Following registration, pre-event assignments will be forthcoming in three parts.

The following registration is for local commuters in the Northern Virginia area:

Contact Us

If you do not find your questions answered on this page regarding the Monterey Writers Retreat, please feel free to call or write us:

Email: info (at) algonkianconferences.com with the subject line:
"Algonkian Retreat Questions"

Phone: 1-800-250-8290

There are no great writers, only great rewriters.
- Another Algonkian Motto