Author Conservatory Review

I know I normally post book reviews on Mondays, but today we’re doing something a little differently. I’m long overdue a writing update, and I am so excited to chat with you guys about something that has revolutionized my writing life.

AC-Banner

Housekeeping

First, just a few housekeeping things. Welcome to those of you who have been following along in our tour! I hope it has been informative and encouraging to you thus far! We’ve certainly had a blast putting it on!

If you landed here and are totally lost, no fear! Check out the Kickoff Post here. It explains everything about our student-led blog tour. 😀 The Kickoff post is also where you can find the beginning of the chain of posts so you can be sure not to miss one!Sara Quote

As a brief recap, the Author Conservatory is a three year higher education program that teaches young writers how to build a sustainable career from their writing. It’s a bit like a trade school or apprenticeship program where we train under professional and career writers and learn by doing. A conservatory is a school dedicated specifically to the study of the arts (like Juilliard for music), or in our case, for writing. Author has both a Fiction writing and a Nonfiction writing track.

Additionally, unlike our previous reviews (and our final one tomorrow), I’m in a unique position in that I am not only a student of the program, but I also work for the program. I’m the Community Manager, which means that I keep things running in our online community; and I’m also one of the Admissions Advisors, which means that I talk to students and parents who are interested in the program and answer questions they have about what we do and how we do it.

That said, for the purposes of this review, I will be giving my thoughts on Author from the perspective of a student and a writer. I will also be reviewing the fiction track specifically.

My Story

To tell the story straight, we need to back up a bit before Author.

I’ve been writing all my life. I have little two line stories written in crooked first grader scrawls and my grandpa has old VHS tapes of me telling stories while dancing even before that. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved stories. Movies, books, songs, memories made, campfire legends, you name it. I love a good story.

As a voracious reader and social outcast, it was only natural that I started my first novel at 12. But more than a book came out of the idea; a dream was born.

One day, I wanted to be an author.

All through the rest of school, I wrote endlessly. I did the cringy unfinished books, the angsty teen poetry, the “short stories” that were really just excerpts of an unfinished idea, and a ton of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys fanfiction. By the time I was a junior in high school, I’d written nearly 300,000 words–that was just online alone. I’ve always prefered to write by hand and still do quite often 😉

I left for college, took a few freshman English classes, and then school got complicated and writing fell to the wayside. When I graduated, I picked writing back up again because it’s in my bones. It’s who I am. I co-wrote three novels with my best friend and started working on new original ideas for the first time in years. But I was kind of stuck.

I teetered between the grown up world and my love of writing. Adulting meant pouring my time into work, saving money, finding a place of my own, and applying to jobs that were actually in my field of study after all the hard work I’d poured into five years of college. But for the first time in a long time, I had time to do what I wanted after each workday. And that dream hidden in the secret of secret places flared to life again.

Nadine QuoteSo, I began to plug back into online writing communities. I stumbled across places like YDubs and KingdomPen and StoryEmbers, and for the first time in my life realized people studied writing. (Weirdos XD) Call me clueless, but it had never occurred to me that you could hone your writing skill through more than just sheer practice.

So, I joined the ranks of the amazing Young Writers Workshop and became a YDubber. I started gaining traction. I rediscovered my determination to pursue writing with intentionality and I began to study the craft of writing.

But I was still only gaining ground an inch at a time. I only fed writing my leftover energy after 16 hour days as a school teacher. And that childhood dream flickered. It was going to take me a whole lot longer than I’d thought to build my career on the side.

A Writing Kingdom

I’d seen promotions inside YDubs for Author Coaching for months. And I really wanted to join. But teaching zapped so much of my energy. And the budget was so tight. And I still hadn’t gone through all of the massive YDubs library yet. I was still on the waiting list to sign up for YDubs Lessons (imagine piano lessons but for writers!). I wasn’t ready for publication. I didn’t even have a full-length original novel of my own completed!

A perfectionist can come up with all the excuses in the world, trust me, but my desire to be in the best position to join Author only ensured I’d never actually join.

Thankfully, God had other plans. He didn’t just nudge me. He shoved me. And I got the message.

It was time I started investing seriously in that childhood dream and turning it into a reality. It was time I pursued writing with more than my leftover energy. It was time I stepped into the calling God has laid on my life and trusted Him to lead me where I could not see.

In May of 2020, I commited to join and in June, I created my account. I tell you this, I’ve learned more in the last 16 months inside Author than I have in the last 16 years of trying to do this on my own. And I now have the fruit of my labor in my hands as proof that this can be done.

The Community

Inside the program, we affectionately call our community the Author Kingdom. We have fun kingdom names and a plethora of inside jokes. You can even find some of them in the YDubs merch store, much to the confusion of our wonderful YDubber friends. XD

But the real truth is that this community, these people have changed my life. They invest in me.Naomi Quote

They care about me as a writer and hold me accountable to my goals. They talk me down when I want to burn the notebook and give up entirely. They cheer me on when my draft feels like trash that no one could possibly want to read. They read the trashy draft and dispel the lies. They celebrate when I hit the milestones I slaved for. They come to my aid when I call for help and drag me out of the ditch when I’m stuck and confused. Without these people, I don’t know that I would have the strength or even the desire to keep pushing through the difficult seasons of being a writer.

They care about me as an entrepreneur and challenge me to step outside my comfort zone. Author provides training, support, and opportunities to hone my business skills and actually start making money. I’ve studied business in the past because I’m a nerd, but in Author, they study the biblical principles of making and stewarding money. They focus on areas no normal business program would, like getting over the mental hurdle of pricing your product or service and working on time management skills. And we don’t do any of this alone. Every step of the way, other students are sharing their struggles and encouraging me in mine. Author even goes on to show how to apply the business skills to my writing and how to form a clear, efficient plan to reach my long-term goals. The community walks with me step by step through this process–both the practical side of setting things up, but also through the mental shifts that come with learning to value your time, your resources, and your skills the way God would have us value them.

They care about me as a person and push me to grow deeper and deeper roots in truth, wisdom, and grace. Author not only wants to teach us to craft stories of quality and to use innovative and strategic business practices to thrive and bless others; they not only want to revolutionize the publishing industry and flood the world with stories that will last the test of time by training up skilled, business-savvy authors, editors, and industry professionals; but they want to support and challenge people to have deeper integrity, stronger character, and to bear the image of Christ in a dark world.

And I am beyond blessed to be able to invest in them in return.

Honestly, I don’t know how anyone functions without a loving, healthy, hilarious, and empathetic community like this. Every prayer, every laugh, every tear bonds us together more tightly. These are the people I will reach out to for the rest of my life. They make me want to be a better person every day.

The Training

On top of the priceless network of souls I’ve inherited, Author is thoroughly practical as an educational resource. Hope Quote

I’ve already touched on this a bit above with the business, but the trainings are a beautiful blend of philosophical, so our hearts are in the right place, and practical, so we make tangible progress. There’s a clear step-by-step plan that shows me exactly how I’m going to get from Point A to Point B. No more questioning what I should be spending my energy on. I know when I’m going to plot, when I’m going to draft, when I’m going to revise, and when I’m going to market.

And then I do it. I execute the plan. Author isn’t just about teaching and learning principles. It’s about doing the things, taking the steps, pushing past your comfort zone and exercising your courage. The trainings equip us and the instructors guide us, but we actually have to put the work in to accomplish the tasks it takes to achieve our goals. The magical thing is that we come out on the other side with actual manuscripts–tight, fundamentally sound, deep, and meaningful manuscripts–with communication skills and encounters with industry professionals, with one sheets, platforms, street teams, businesses with paying customers, smart business strategies, and all the things for pitching and launching your career.

And everyone is on the same page! It’s so incredible to have highly focused people all aiming at the same target. People get it. They know the same struggles you do and we can help one another through. We can ask questions in the community or on the trainings themselves. Our instructors answer every single question, and more often than not they personalize the answers to our specific situations.

Having a clear plan, detailed trainings on how to reach the next step, and access to answers when I get stuck has propelled me forward down the path of pursuing writing for real. No more kids dreams. I now have the tools to even measure how close I am to reaching the measurable goal of building a career, and I also have seen tangible progress toward that goal.

Another part of the training is the opportunity to practice my skills. By serving other students, I get to use what I’m learning on other stories outside of my own. I work with examples. They just make things make way more sense in my head. And through Author, I have an entire kingdom of examples to work with! I have grown more confident in my ability to give and receive critique. And I’ve learned how to apply that critique effectively so that my story doesn’t spin in circles, but actually grows stronger.

Bailey QuoteSpeaking of critique, I have access to several professional writers who are doing what I want to do. Not only do they coach me and guide me, provide trainings and answer specific questions, but they look at my work. These authors and editors know story because they’ve done it themselves. They look at my story through every step of the plotting process and provide feedback that strengthens the characters, the plot, the themes, and everything in between.

And they deliver that critique with love. They are here to explain until I understand and they want me to succeed, so they are watching out for my mental and emotional health through this process too.

The Student Activities

Okay, I know this is part of the community aspect, but I just have to talk about one of my favorite parts of Author!! We work hard, but we also play hard.

Writing and business are both so incredibly important and intertwined. Coaching and training and clear paths and practical steps and emotional support and biblical foundations are all amazing. Investing in one another and intentionally building lifelong relationships are priceless! Growing deeper into the woman God made me to be is absolutely a top priority.

But guys, it’s also just downright fun in Author. Monica Quote

We have movie nights, book studies, games, birthday shenanigans, and so much more.

We study books to better understand what we’re learning in Author about story and characters and business and genres, etc. But we also read books because they’re good and we want to. Co-leading the first book study over The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. And because someone instigated a study of Weiland’s Creating Character Arcs, I now understand characters better than I ever have before.

We watch movies because someone’s never seen all the Marvel movies, or because It’s a Wonderful Life is classic, or because Tangled is a perfect example of the 3 Act Structure. We have snippet sharing calls to cheer each other on in the drafting process. We have brainstorming pods that meet regularly and sometimes we just hang out because we can. (My brainstorming pod is my lifeline! I love you guys!) We have community bingo games or organize trivia nights. We have dedicated times for prayer over one another, our families, our stories, and so much more.

We really are a big family.

And I’m so blessed to be a part of this incredible group of people.

In Conclusion

Steve quoteI could go on for ages about the things I’m learning or what my daily schedule looks like. I could talk about the instructors and the tracks or why I chose to take the dive and invest in my dream. I could share til I’m blue in the face about my time in the program so far and how I never want to leave. (And I’m happy to email with anyone who wants to know more!)

But I really wanted to share the impact this program has left on me. How they’ve taken me in and given me hope again. I have clarity moving forward, the tools and resources to grow deeply and rightly, and the community to build a lifetime of memories.

I’m days away from completing my first original novel–solo. I’ve already surpassed my previous longest project by over 30,000 words and it’s already stronger than anything I’ve ever written before, but more than that, this is a novel that means something to me. It tells the story of three sisters who struggle to trust and love one another. And that’s a story I lived. It’s a story I can’t wait to place in my own sister’s hands and be proud of.

Author is a huge part of the reason I have confidence that I can continue to produce stories that matter and to invest in people who matter to me. It’s the path that turned my childhood dream into a hard-earned reality.

Prizes & Wrap-Up

Don’t forget to comment below if you’d like to enter for the giveaways at the end of the tour! More information on how to do that will be posted here on Wednesday the 24th! So, stay tuned!

AC BLOG TOUR - PRIZES

Your next stop in the tour is over on Amie’s lovely blog! Her post will go live tomorrow so go check out what she has to say about our beloved kingdom!

70 thoughts on “Author Conservatory Review

  1. Em says:

    Wow, thank you for your honesty and thoughts Coralie. I loved hearing your story! This is so cool, everything I’ve heard about Author sounds positive, and I am starting to wonder if this is where God is leading me in my writing journey. Thank you! ~Emilie A, who has been commenting as Em this entire time. XD

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Faith Elizabeth says:

    I loved how you added how you’ve been able to write the stuff that you want to write, with the deep themes and messages. That’s definitely something I’m passionate about, so it was great to hear that Author not only allows but even endorses it. Thanks for your thoughts!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Coralie says:

      Yes!! They focus a lot on teaching you to write high quality, professional level stories, but they also focus on crafting stories that matter and will stand the test of time. We want GOOD stories that have purpose and meaning. It’s a beautiful thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Coralie says:

        That can be tough. We actually have several students in the program who are in high school and quite a few students with chronic illnesses too. I’m sure many of them would be willing to answer any questions you or your mom have about their experience in a similar situation. If you think that would be helpful, let me know!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Anna Grace says:

        I emailed with Mr. Brett a few months ago, and I even emailed with a few of the chronically ill students, and it does seem quite intriguing to me. However, my mom has only heard about it from me (and my reading the emails to her), and she doesn’t seem to think I should do it right now 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lorelei Angelino says:

    This was so inspirational & worthwhile & informative, Coralie! Your thoughts and experience really made me want to push myself and all of my other writer friends into this wonderful-sounding place called the Author Conservatory.
    Actually, one of my good friends is joining this winter! (SO proud of her!!) Joining Author sounds so beneficial not to just my writing, but my whole life!! You also made the community sound even more fun than I already thought!😜😍
    (And I have two sisters, so I canNOT wait to read your story, girl!)
    Thanks for everything Coralie, and God bless!!! <333333

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jenny Chasteen says:

    I LOVE this!! ❤ The pod is my lifeline, too. 😉 It's been so incredible to watch you grow through this program! And you've helped my growth so, so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bethany says:

    Thanks so much for your review and story Coralie! As someone who wants to go to college (not for writing) and will probably need to do that before TAC, I especially like seeing the reviews from older students.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Emily Charlotte says:

    Phew! This was a great read, Coralie! I really loved that part about the students watching movies and studying books together, it sounds like so much fun, and I’m glad you’re part of a community like that 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Gretchen says:

    Ahh, Coralie, I love the energy you put into this post so much!! You’ve helped us YDubbers so much as both a friend and a manager, and I’m so thrilled to hear that things are working out for you through this program! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. sgschumpertwrites says:

    Happy Wednesday, Coralie, and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! It’s amazing to hear how structured and encouraging the Conservatory is, since those are two elements that are really important to me. I hope I can join y’all next year! Again, thank you so much for your time, and have a wonderful rest of your week.
    Sarah Grace

    Liked by 1 person

  9. familyofhicks says:

    Thank you, Coralie, for your insider view of the Conservatory! We appreciated talking with you about the program a few months ago and continue to pray about our daughter’s participation in the program. These reviews are helpful!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Emma says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve said it before in my comments on this blog tour, and I’ll say it again. Each and every one of these posts are helping me want to join more and more. I can’t say I’m 100% set yet, but it is becoming more and more a serious consideration.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s