Reviews of the Algonkian Author Salon and Novel Writing Courses: Writers and Bloggers Talk

[Print version]

News and Contracts  |   FAQ  | Novel Writing Program  |   About Algonkian ASalon  |   Become a Member of AAS  

Reviews of Algonkian, Author Salon, and Novel Writing Courses

Comments regarding Algonkian programs going back to 2012 and collected as a result of emails and interviews. This represents a small portion of the total commentary and contract news. More can be found if you follow the review and contract links below. Thank you.

Algonkian Author Salon Writer Contracts
New York Pitch Conference Contracts and Comments
Algonkian Writer Conference Reviews and Contracts

The going has been challenging--at first, I worried that I didn't have time to write anecdotes that may or may not come into the book. But then the effort paid in spades when I saw a significant opportunity (through one of those anecdotes) to deepen the inner conflict of the main character and allow for a link to the antagonist that I would never have imagined without this intense groundwork.... The Sympathetic Character Factors in the Hook, forced me to more closely examine my protagonist. She was/is a sympathetic character to me, but the assignment requires that I articulate and then give evidence that reflects sympathetic character traits. Again, that work resulted in a richer grab; this facet of the program has helped me create stronger main and supporting characters.

- Janet Zupan - Algonkian Novel Writing Program Review

I’ve met friendly, creative, determined writers on this site. Their critique comments are well thought through and demonstrate how seriously they take the process and how much they have engaged with my work. Every genre is represented here: young adult, middle grade, fantasy, sci fi, narrative nonfiction, general nonfiction, fiction (women’s upscale, literary, historical), thriller, mystery, detective, romance, paranormal romance. I know I’m missing some. Whatever you write – it’s in here and there are plenty of other people in your genre ready to sign on to work with you.

- Chris Stewart, author of THIS END UP

The small group format ensured I had the chance to fine-tune my query over several rounds of feedback. Workshop leader Susan Breen was right on the money with advice on the best comps, the genre description for my book, and how to simplify my pitch. Two of three editors I met at the Conference requested the manuscript. After the querying process I had an offer of representation from Writers House, and now a 2-book deal with Kensington Books.

- Sandi Ward

Learning and practicing the four levels of third person narrative POV had the biggest impact on my writing. The zoom lens effect of author POV/distant/close/first-close gives the narrative more depth and energy, allowing the reader to not only see what a character sees, but to get right inside their head and hear their inner thoughts--perhaps the ultimate show-don't-tell technique.

- Lois Gordon - Algonkian Novel Writing Program Review

Just wanted to let you know that Paula Munier, my group leader from the conference, took me on as a client and negotiated a deal for my book - DARK RIVER - with St. Martins. Announced tonight on Publishers Marketplace. Thanks for a wonderful experience. The conference was superb. I'm spreading the word among my critique groups in Atlanta.

- Roger Johns

I had not expected that strengthening the depth of my characters' lives both past and present would so naturally work to form plot. Module 6-8 (6-Act) then created a visual image of my novel as a whole that helped me ensure I had the necessary elements for a publishable novel. I was also surprised how helpful Module 2 (Antagonist) was in developing strong plot line. By fleshing out an antagonist, and an in-depth backstory, the overall plot was transformed.

- Brittany Hughes - Algonkian Novel Writing Program Review

Because of your conference I had 2 editors, one being Tessa Woodward, ask for my MS and/or pages and another forward my info to one of her associate editors at St. Martins. I was able to cross reference that with information on Publishers Marketplace and sent a query to an agent that worked with Tessa Woodward at Harper Collins. I sent her the first 50 pages and she was really excited about my work. She read the rest of it the next day and immediately sent me a contract. She is incredibly passionate about romance and my story. She is currently awaiting an answer from Rose Hillard at St. Martins. She thinks I have a long career ahead of me in romance writing and I am very excited to say the least. Her name is Emily Sylvan Kim and she is with The Prospect Agency.

- Amanda Greenfield

Now that I told you what Author Salon is, I can tell you what it is not. It’s not a writing circle or review site for people who are tinkering with the idea of becoming writers. This is for serious work-to-publish authors. It’s for professionals; those who don’t follow the rules are shown the door. It is also not for the faint-of-heart or thin-skinned. Your peers and the site facilitators will be blunt. If you do not heed their advice, you don’t move up the tiers.

- Brian Braden, author of BLACK SEA GODS

I am now the biggest believer in the New York Pitch Conference. Post-conference, I re-vamped my pitch in keeping with workshop feedback. Also, revised the book to reflect new emphasis. Voila! Immediately I had 18 agents requesting the manuscript and ended up with four offers of representation. I signed with Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon this week, and couldn't be happier. This would not have happened apart from my experience with Susan at the Pitch conference in June. Thanks so much to you both. I am indebted!

- Britt Staton

The AAS course directs focus on specifics in each character's backstory, a technique that helped make the characters become more vivid, taking substantive form in my mind's eye. As a result, as I lay relaxing in a hot bath or driving to get groceries, scenes would pop into my mind which, while dictated by the constraints of story, were fully driven by character.

- Walter Thompson - Algonkian Novel Writing Program Review

It is through the power of robust communities of writers that we learn how to put forward the best version of our work so that it has its own chance out in the world. I wanted to share the knowledge of this incredible website with my friends who are similarly looking for their big W. By using the road map that Author Salon provides I feel confident that every one of us who is participating in this process will one day become the Writer they hope to be.

- Jenny Poore, author of THE LAST GOOD NIGHT

Sincerely, every module was very helpful. I could write a case for each one. Detailing the climax gave me a window in to how to seed foreshadowing throughout the novel. I love the way subtle foreshadowing is a gift for astute readers--I want to give that gift. Too often foreshadowing is heavy-handed or non-existent. If I didn't know exactly where I was headed (climax) then I wouldn't have the intimacy with the overall plotline necessary to plant these little gems.

- Sela Gaglia - Algonkian Novel Writing Program Review

Hope all is well! I'm writing to let you know that I signed with Michelle Richter from Fuse Literary as my agent for my debut novel, whom I met and pitched to at your conference! She is lovely and I think we will be a great fit. Just wanted to thank you and keep you in the loop. When it is published, would be happy to write a testimony for the conference or whatnot :)

- Stacy Suaya

The Author Salon program has forced me to more carefully consider the vital details of the novel writing process as a whole. The emphasis on backstory and the development of theme, scene creation in the context of the six act plot structure, and of course, the module on the antagonist. The course has also helped me to be more aware of marketability.

- John Loving - Algonkian Novel Writing Program Review

Algonkian Author Salon's writing program modules have strengthened my novel. The most surprising was the section concerning the antagonist. I realized the character I'd identified as the antagonist was insufficiently dimensional. He was mostly off-stage, and questions pertaining to his actions and motivation revealed his lack of importance. I could have created content, but strangely enough, he was not a pivotal point. After second and third thoughts, I identified the true villain. Once I worked through the assignment, she became a fascinating creature intimately related to the theme.

Another assignment was to describe the history of a setting. I chose the novel's Texas ranch, which had been merely a literary device. After researching and considering this locale, I found it to have a rich component that added depth to the story. The discovery was thrilling."

- Chance Maree - Algonkian Novel Writing Program Review

If the work isn’t ready, the writer takes additional feedback and keeps developing the material ... Easy? Not on your life, but this rigorous assessment is what differentiates AAS from Yet Another Display Site. Also, you never upload your entire manuscript to the site and all of your work remains your own. The Terms of Use state that the writer retains ownership of her material.

The primary attribute required to be successful on the site is a desire to get better at what you do, no matter who you are and where your skills sit on the continuum of experience and ability. The second attribute is an open mind and a thick skin. You’ll receive critique with greater depth than the typical MFA workshop.

- Martina Newhook, author of A BULLET FOR SIMONE

Author Salon requires any opinion, positive or negative, to be substantiated with an explanation for its basis. Now that it’s necessary to write a coherent critique, rather than deliver it verbally, I tend to analyze the reasons for my conclusions more carefully, and to force myself to articulate my thought process. It’s a workout for my brain that, at times, literally makes it sore.

The compensation comes from knowing that the exercise is strengthening my critical thinking muscles, and that the results will be reflected in my own writing.

- Sharen Ford, author of DAYS IN THE YELLOW LEAF

Editors and agents know that by the time writers are sitting in front of them to pitch their work, the facilitators have slapped them into shape; they are ready. So this is an online version of a pitch conference – an ongoing one – but with many added features and in-depth analysis of each author’s work.

Through the process of putting the aspects of one’s book into the various categories and elements on the site, one is reminded every so often, that if you don’t want to do the work, this isn’t the place for you. They aren’t “nice” but they are clear. Only serious and dedicated writers are welcome.

- Deepam Susan Wadds, author of THE COST OF WEATHER

So I was excited when a colleague introduced me to Author Salon, a new initiative aimed at helping authors prepare to pitch and market their manuscripts. It is a win:win community wherein the author is able to hone their work, while agents and publishers can delve in knowing these writers have done their due diligence.

When you sign up for Author Salon there are a lot of questions about your work. Often these questions make you look at your manuscript through new eyes. This is essentially the idea, that you see it not as the writer, but as the agent or publisher.

- Alon Shalev, author of THE WYCCAN MASTER

They bill Author Salon as a place "where you become an author the old-fashioned way — you earn it." This, is true. You have to critique 5 other people’s work as well as your own, and constantly be revising and editing. But so far I have encountered hard, driving criticism that has actually transformed how I see my book and myself writing it, and everyone has been fully supportive as I work through that slow turnaround. Some folks have left, citing the requirements as too stringent and the people running the place as being inflexible and controlling. I disagree – these are professionals who know what they are doing ...

- Mel Elmes, author of MERRIN BORN

This is why I included the word “serious” in my post title: unlike the label “Author Salon” suggests, this website is NO day at the spa. I could immediately tell that the experts who put the concept together wanted to weed out writers who were not prepared to go the distance with their work. This produces a great side-effect; those that remain are pretty high quality writers, and therefore are able to provide high quality feedback in the peer review process.

And then there are the experts. I never would have expected or asked for this, but some of the administrative staff of the website (experienced editors, published authors, agents, and the like) occasionally take the time to engage Author Salon members in one-on-one discussions about their work-in-progress. Like, in depth discussions. The type of advice that I would have paid real money for if someone had offered me the chance to spend it! I cannot say enough about how great that has been for the progress of THE PROVING.

- Kevin Jackson, author of THE PROVING

From the moment you start setting up your profile, you can tell this is tailored for serious authors. Every section you have to fill out will make you dig deep into your novel. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the process helps you uncover holes in the plot or weaknesses in the characters. The site provides specific instructions and examples for different genres. You will be expected to describe the hook, conflict, stakes, protagonist, antagonist, climax, etc. You will also be required to provide samples of your dialogue, opening, characters, and setting. And you’d better do a good job, because your profile will determine your project status. If your hook, doesn’t hook and your narrative doesn’t pop. Forget it!

- Ingrid Seymour, author of ONE WISH AWAY


[Print version]