Tuesday

Del Sol Press First Novel Competition to Award Second and Third Place Winners With a New York Pitch Conference

New York Pitch and Algonkian
Success Stories
Del Sol Press, in cooperation with Algonkian Writer Conferences, will award the second and third place winners of their first novel competition with a trip to the New York Pitch Conference where they can pitch their manuscripts to professional editors.

The New York Pitch Conference is held four times a year and features publishing house editors from major houses such as Penguin, Random House, St. Martins, Harper Collins, Tor and Del Rey, Kensington Books and many more who are looking for new novels in a variety of genres, as well as narrative non-fiction. The event focuses on the art of the novel pitch as the best method not only for communicating the work, but for having the novel taken seriously by industry professionals.
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"The New York Pitch Conference is everything it claims to be and more... Because the conference participants are screened, editors know they are not wasting their time. Each editor I pitched listened carefully, giving suggestions and asking questions that improved my pitch... Whether or not my manuscript had been requested, I would have learned if my novel had commercial appeal and how to best pitch it. Leaving the conference, I felt confident that my novel did have potential and that I could effectively query an agent or editor.

My novel was requested by four of the five editors I pitched. Tessa Woodward at Harper Collins quickly made an offer for it, and Paula Munier, who had read my first page at the conference, represented me to negotiate a contract.

I spent five years researching and writing my novel before I went to the Pitch Conference. For the past year, I had been querying agents and submitting to small presses. One agent requested it then didn't even bother to email back to reject it. Two other small presses rejected it and all other agents and presses didn't even reply. I owned a copy of Writer's Market, I had written what I thought was a good pitch, I researched each agent and press so I could tailor my query. Still, nothing was happening.

Attending the Algonkian Pitch Conference was an investment in my career as a writer. For me, it paid off beyond my wildest dreams. No matter what, though, it would have been worth it for what I learned."


- Kim Van Alkemade, signed by Harper Collins

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Del Sol Press seeks to publish exceptional work by both new and recognized writers. Emphasis is on original, unique, and accessible work with an edge. They are only interested in the very best work, regardless of source or type. 

St. Augustine Author-Mentor Novel Workshop

How Does The St. Augustine Author-Mentor Workshop Differ from Other Writer Events?

In several fundamental ways, as we note above, but we will elaborate. First of all, and most importantly, the St. Augustine AMW creates a way for the aspiring author to get close and relaxed with published authors and business professionals in a manner that larger events disallow. Sufficient private face time with the right people is priceless.

Second, attendees are taught (even before the workshop begins by means of pre-event assignments and mailings) to address all the major conflict/complication, plot, theme, narrative/voice, dialogue, scene construction, and character arc-and-development issues that affect their novel.

Third, writers are prepped in advance for their interactive sessions with authors, editors and literary agents, and the sessions are not rushed. The professionals are relaxed during the sessions and not bombarded by hundreds of conference goers.

Fourth, the St. Augustine AMW requires the writer to complete exercises far more advanced and beneficial than those conducted by MFA programs or private writer events.

Fifth, amateur opinions do not arise to compromise the quality of the workshop. Judgments on a writer's work are approved, filtered, and/or provided by professionals in attendance. 
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The 2016 St. Augustine A-M takes place on February 26 - 29 (Thursday to Sunday) with arrival and a meet-up session on the evening of February 25th (Wednesday).


Friday

Algonkian Writers Conference Critique Criteria for Groups

by Michael Neff

Below are some categories and criteria for engaging in critique of novel-length fiction. This will help guide your writer's group and make the critique more focused and less arbitrary.



Premise and Plot
  • Does the premise or story concept sound high concept? Original? If so, why? Defend your conclusion. What makes it unique when compared to published novels or nonfiction in the genre? You must effectively argue this case for or against. If against, present examples why it might not be sufficiently original to capture the interest of an agent or publisher.
  • Are you able to discern the primary source of dramatic tension and complication that creates the major plot line(s)? Can you or the writer create a conflict statement for the novel that demonstrates, for example:

  • The Hand of Fatima

    A young Moor torn between Islam and Christianity, scorned and tormented by both, struggles to bridge the two faiths by seeking common ground in the very nature of God.

    Summer's Sisters

    After sharing a magical summer with a friend, a young woman must confront her friend's betrayal of her with the man she loved.

    The Bartimaeus Trilogy

    As an apprentice mage seeks revenge on an elder magician who humiliated him, he unleashes a powerful Djinni who joins the mage to confront a danger that threatens their entire world.

Part II
  • Is the first major plot point that changes the course of action and begins the second act of this novel clearly defined? Can you state it? Keep in mind that the first major plot point begins the plot line noted above, i.e., the rising action of the story as a whole.
  • Insofar as you know, does the story as presented to you display the mandatory tropes of the genre? If so, how? Be inclusive with your response. Demonstrate knowledge of your genre and its tropes. Does the author do anything to present or frame the tropes in a unique manner?
  • Does the novel possess a setting and/or unique world that works to high-concept the novel, or at least make the story much more interesting and unique? If so, what features of this setting do you find unique or valuable to the story when compared to others? Do specific circumstances or characters evolve from the setting that make it valuable? If so, what or who are they?
  • What novel(s) published in the last few years does this story most closely compare to? Why? This must be supportable with specifics and not general statements. Does it compare favorably? Is it sufficiently unique despite the comparison? If so, why?
  • Why is this story, as presented, one that publishers will buy? To put it more simply, why is this story one that readers will pay to read? Respond to this with clarity and detail.


Narrative, Scenes and Style

How does the story read? Each one of the following bullet points must be addressed.
  • Is the prose itself completely free of errors and ambiguity? Does the writer say more with less or is she/he wordy? Are the verbs sufficiently active or too much variation of "to be"? Also, is the writer good at description? Not sure? Ask them to provide examples of description of objects, events and people.
  • Is the reader oriented spatially or do characters feel disembodied? If this narrative were film, would it make sense?
  • Is the narrative sufficiently engaging? If yes, what makes it engaging? If no, what should be done to make it engaging? Be specific.
  • Does the narrative include, as a whole, the three primary levels of conflict, i.e., internal, social, and plot related? If so, list them one at a time, and their context. If not, what should be done to include them?
 Part II
  • Are the scenes set properly? Do they have a defined beginning, middle and end? Do we get a clear concept of who/what/where, etc?
  • Does the prose itself evidence mastery of the form given the demands of the genre? If so, how? If not, why? What can be done to improve it?
  • Does the narrative present situations, issues, circumstances, characters or plots that seem too predictable or stale from overuse? Or would you term the narrative more unpredictable and original, insofar as possible given the demands of the genre? 
  • If more than one point of view, does the writer juggle the multiple POVs with skill? If so, how? If not, why not? Ask for more narrative samples as necessary.

Characters

The main thing here is to focus on the manner in which the characters reveal themselves in the course of the narrative, via dialogue and action.
  • Do they feel real or simply two dimensional?
  • Do we observe them at their best or worst in the course of performing an action?
  • Is the author using show-don't-tell techniques to portray them or simply delivering exposition?
  • Do you feel any sympathy or empathy towards them?
  • Is there anything unique about them or do they feel overly stereotypical?