Posted in articles, books, events, fiction, novels, RNA, romance, writing

The joy of Chez Castillon

April 2012 – the first time…CHEZ CASTILLON

You never really know someone until you live with them. A truth universally acknowledged by generations of women who’ve been swept off their feet with champagne and roses only to discover too late, that he always leaves the loo seat up and his socks on the floor. No such worries when in one’s own, beautiful ensuite accommodation,  and sharing a house with other females but the rest holds true.

Katie's bookIn return for their own silence, I have promised to be judicious on the matter of what exactly I discovered about my fellow authors when we spent a week together in France but suffice to say I can thoroughly recommend the experience . It was billed as a “Writers’ Retreat”. For which I’d suspected, you could read “Writers’-sit-around-and- Drink-Too-Much”. I was, after all, going with members of the RNA – not an organisation famed for its temperance in pastures new.

summer-time-coverBut when Katie Fforde, Judy Astley, Jo Thomas and Catherine Jones and I moved en masse into Chez-Castillon, a gorgeously restored 18th century townhouse on the banks of the Dordogne, owned by Micky Wilson and Janie Millman who have turned their talents – they are both actors and Janie is also a writer and one fabulous cook – to running creative courses, surprising discipline was shown.  Katie was up at six completing her daily word target before breakfast, Judy was heard to say she wouldn’t have any wine at lunchtime so she could work hard in the afternoon (“say” being the operative word here, I didn’t actually spot her without a glass in her hand) and Jo had completed 7,500 words by the end of day two, (by which time I had managed to pen a TO-DO list and wander down the road for a pedicure). Nor was it just writing!

51UNN9eBnbL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_Catherine “Brace Up” Jones put us all to shame with dawn  swims; we did walking, shopping and wine-tasting (naturellement)  and in the evening made our own entertainment. “Stars in their Eyes”  saw Katie as Mary Hopkins, me as Joni Mitchell (ambitious, yes!), Jo providing the entire score from Calamity Jane (with hand movements) and Catherine as Edith Piaf.  Micky was Nat King Cole, Judy contributed hilarious jokes (in French no less!) and Janie a poem about knickers and vicars which is now a blur but went down a treat after the fourth bottle. The  whole experience of spending a week with fellow scribes was madly, gloriously, divinely inspiring and even I – Queen of Displacement –  returned with a list of book chapters, a short story, two columns  and some riotous photos. We will be going back….

Fast forward to NOW…

CM blog smallAnd back we’ve been – several times!

I’ve taught a number of  courses, hung out with the usual suspects – which most recently included the lovely Clare Mackintosh, director of Chipping Norton Lit Fest, and used Janie’s recipes in my 100 Ways to Fight the Flab, proving you can eat well, drink copiously and still combat your writer’s bottom if you only know how.

Jo-Thomas-187x300Katie, Catherine (aka Fiona Field) and Judy have each had new books out, see covers above.

Clare’s amazing debut novel, I Let You Go is published later this year, and Jo Thomas has seen mega success with The Oyster Catcher – all were partly-written at Chez Castillon.

The authors will, I’m sure, testify to the magical, inspiring qualities of the place (it’s not just all the wine :-)).

100 Book cover Dec 2013 - front (small)I am back there teaching on May 17th and again in July and October (when you’ll be helped to sell a short story if it kills me! :-)). Other retreat/course dates are available.

See my page here or visit www.chez-castillon,com. Mention this blog for the chance of a discount when booking and feel free to email me for more details.

It is fab!

And I’d love to see you there.

Posted in books, events, fiction, novels, RNA, romance, writing

RNA Conference at last

  

Did two stints at the splendid  RNA conference this year, brilliantly organised as ever by Jan Jones and Roger Sanderson. On Saturday, a panel – In it for the long haul– with the ever-delightful Annie Ashurst, our veritable Chair (on whom I have a small crush), Judy Astley and Freda Lightfoot. These lovely ladies have written an astonishing number of books between them (making me feel a downright slacker with my mere six) and sold ’em in their millions. I asked the questions, and they enthralled  with their wit and wisdom. Next up was a talk of my own. They gave me the hangover slot as usual – 9.m. Sunday morning –  tho the audience, gathering there in the middle picture before I started, seem to be holding up quite well.  Thanks to Blue Stocking Mum  Debbie White for the panel pic and Liz Fenwick for catching me  pulling one of my usual faces.

And special thanks to all who dragged themselves along to listen. We had a giggle or two didn’t we? jxx

Posted in events, novels, RNA, romance, writing

How to lose a day….

Intended to post suitable witticisms and photos from RNA conference this morning but day went to Ratsh*t when someone drove into me necessitating endless conversations with police and insurance companies, long hot baths to ease hurting shoulder and medicinal wine, ditto.

Photos to follow tomorrow or maybe later tonight if not comatose.

In meantime totally lovely to see everyone in Penrith. Thank you for making it as fab as ever and for your warmth and support.

God Bless and Long Live the RNA…. (etc)

(Morgen – can you do something clever and make that RNA into one of those link thingys?)  (ps love yer x))

More later…

done  🙂 M x

Posted in events, RNA, romance

Trying to travel light to Penrith

Off to the fabulous RNA conference – or at least I hope it will be fab – I hadn’t realised quite how far Penrith was from Broadstairs when arrangements were made. And I’m used to driving to these gigs!

Suddenly all the essentials – see pic – this is student accommodation – has got to fit in one small case with my laptop. It weighs a bloody tonne.

But am on the train as I write and hugely looking forward to chairing a panel with the lovely Annie Ashhurst, Judy Astley and Freda Lightfoot tomorrow and the sound of my own voice (always a pleasure :-)) when I give a talk on Sunday.

If you’re coming, see you there. It WILL be fab. It always is.

*** Click here for the blog tour details of my latest novel Prime Time ***

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