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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 Conference
     Commentary by conference attendees

     A Conversation Between Barbara Marquart and Michael Neff

Barb Marquart planned on pursuing a career in writing when she earned her journalism degree but took an eighteen-year detour to collect two law degrees and work in a boutique Philadelphia firm. She now devotes most of her time to frelance editing, writing fiction and avoiding other lawyers whenever possible. She has written three complete manuscripts including one for middle grade readers and is now hard at work on her current novel based on the humorous adventures of a reluctant mafia lawyer as well as a nonfiction book for parents of children with Asperger's Syndrome.

______________

The pre-conference assignments and workshop sessions taught me the art of the pitch, i.e. how to condense the plot of a 75,000 word manuscript into a few short paragraphs that convey the story and highlight the platform. Their intense focus on platform, premise and marketability provides a much-needed reality check.

- Barbara Marquart
______________

MN: What made you want to write The River's Gift? What was your inspiration?

BM: I am drawn to telling stories about women who discover their inner strength through great adversities. As an adoptee, I wanted to write a story that would portray the realities of what it is like to grow up disconnected from one's clan and deprived of one's own geographical and genetic heritages - ties that bind adoptees to their birth families and cannot be broken by adoption. 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.

MN: Please tell us more.

BM: Set against the backdrop of the Louisiana bayou, The River's Gift is a saga that spans nearly fifty years in the lives of the Bessons - a Cajun family shaped by devastating crimes and shameful secrets. In order to help her troubled adopted child, a mother who has kept the circumstances of her daughter's birth a secret is finally forced to confront the pain she has locked away for nearly thirty years and the shameful truth that she could have prevented the tragedy that tore her family apart.

MN: What made you choose to attend the Algonkian conference, or the New York Pitch Conference, or both?

BM: I learned of Algonkian through Shaw Guides and attended the New York Pitch Conference last September, at which time I received two requests for my manuscript. In order to get some guidance as to what revisions still needed to be made as well as practical advice on making my novel more marketable, I attended the Algonkian conference in Harpers Ferry in May.

MN: Do you feel The River's Gift is improved as a result? If so, how?

BM: The workshops gave me an opportunity to review the overall structure of my novel. Refining the pitch forced me to isolate the major plot points. By focusing on the sources of conflict and suspense, I gained a clearer picture of changes that needed to be made. It was also a good opportunity to work on craft techniques, such as the use of dialogue for indirect exposition.

MN: What did you find most effective about the pitch sessions in New York and/or at Algonkian?

BM: The focus at the NY Pitch and Shop on narrowing and refining the pitch gave me confidence in my presentation that paid off when it came time to pitch to editors. The feedback from agents at Harpers Ferry gave me an insider's view as to the marketability of my novel.

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

BM:The pre-conference assignments and workshop sessions taught me the art of the pitch, i.e. how to condense the plot of a 75,000 word manuscript into a few short paragraphs that convey the story and highlight the platform. Their intense focus on platform, premise and marketability provides a much-needed reality check.

MN: How would you compare Algonkian and New York Pitch Conference to other writer conferences?

BM: What makes Algonkian unique is the access they provide to agents and editors - people who understand the industry from the inside and can provide solid, practical advice as to marketability. The small group size allows for individualized attention.

MN: Where does the novel go from here?

BM: I'll continue to work towards having all three of my completed manuscripts, including The River's Gift, published but I'm putting most of my energies into my new manuscript, which I plan to revise at Algonkian's Half Moon Bay Conference in July.


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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