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Best Little Novel Workshop Retreat in the East

September 20 - 24, 2023
The Potomac, Chapters, and Solutions

The workshop retreat takes place at Algonkian Park in Virginia--a beautiful and rather enormous expanse of land beside the Potomac River, yet only minutes from quality restaurants and shopping. The local scenery, wildlife and deer families, the walks along the river and hiking trails, all combine to provide you with an environment conducive to productive writing and soul searching.

In keeping with the spirit of this place, as well as with the goals of this unique event, you can be as goal-oriented or as hesitant in approach as you wish. You can show us your manuscript, improve your skills, have your work read by our writer mentors, attend our workshops, pitch a literary agent or two, whatever works for you, whatever helps you grow and discover your vision as a writer. You discuss with us ahead of time via the Algonkian Writer Retreat Application the goals you wish to accomplish, and we'll work with you to make it happen. Do you wish to discuss the reality of the current fiction market, your novel project, plot and characters, or perhaps get feedback on the opening hook or a few sample chapters? Or would you simply like a relaxed and productive dialogue about your goals as a writer?

Our most frequently asked question, and the answer as follows:
    My novel is at an early 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?

The Counting of Days

On Tuesday evening, September 19, 2023, all writers will meet for dinner, and afterwards, an orientation session will cover details and expectations for the next several days. On the first morning of the workshop retreat, Wednesday, writers attend a workshop with Michael Neff and Chris Stewart wherein their stories and projects are exhaustively discussed and reviewed 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 and plot development--elements first studied in the pre-event.

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. Honing of novels and fiction will continue into day three.

On days three and four, writers juggle retreat time, as appropriate and necessary with individual consults and workshops on creative writing and publishing led by such accomplished professionals such as Art Taylor (characters that sell novels), Michael Neff (market-positioning and competitive execution), Christine Stewart (theme and plot lines), and Richard Washer (application of dramatic technique). Literary agent Emily Williamson also appears to discuss the business and react to novel pitches.

On day five, 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. On this final day, the workshop retreat will wrap up by 1:30 PM.

Distinguished Faculty

Michael Neff, Algonkian founder and director, is also 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. He is also a developmental editor for AEI Films and Books in LA.

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

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.

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.

What is Included?

Like other Algonkian events, this workshop retreat begins before you arrive and continues after you depart (see below for details). It features a broad range of faculty, an array of vital workshops, as well as extended personal time with business professionals. The event fee of $1295.00 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 below).

Crucial Prep and Post-Event

Writers receive specific pre-event assignments, readings, and even a dedicated eBook, all of which will be 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, Logistics, Your Bio, Etc.

Dates and Application

The fall 2023 retreat occurs at Algonkian Park in Virginia on September 20 - 24 with arrival on Tuesday the 19th. 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. Once approved within five working days, retreat registration may proceed.

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 lunch items from local stores or eating establishments, and also for social dinners in the evening. The nearby town of Sterling is crowded with stores and restaurants within easy driving distance.

Retreat writers will be staying in spacious and updated cottages located in Algonkian Park and situated on the Potomac River, all with spacious decks facing the water. See the info page here regarding more about the 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.

Registration for Event

Registration for the Algonkian Writer Retreat is $1295.00, and the registration link found below. We process all of our 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.

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) with the subject line:
"Algonkian Retreat Questions"

Phone: 1-800-250-8290

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