Posted in events, novels, short stories, writing

Champagne de Romance at Chez Castillon

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It is always a joy to be at Chez Castillon.  Next course up – could it be for you? – Write and Sell Short Stories. Write a short story for Woman’s Weekly – and get personal feedback from their fiction editor – or a prize-grabbing entry for a competition.

Coming soon – Writing Crime with lovely Clare Mackintosh and Pitch and Sell Your Novel avec moi :-). For details of all courses see here.

To give you a flavour of what to expect I’d like to share a post from Lynne Shelby, winner of the Accent Press and Woman magazine novel competition who blogged about her experience at Chez Castillon, in May.  You can read the original – and find out more about the fabulous venue – at http://www.chez-castillon.com/437/champagne-de-romance-at-chez-castillon.

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From Lynne:

It’s market day in the small French town of Castillon de Bataille. Writer’s notebook and camera in hand, I edge through the crowds gathered around stalls selling fish and meat, fresh herbs and spices, and dresses fluttering in the breeze like brightly coloured flags. Later, I am to write an atmospheric description of the market through the eyes of a character in my WIP.

I am spending a week at a writers’ retreat at beautiful Chez Castillon, part of my prize for winning the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition with my debut novel French Kissing (I’m so excited that it’s now available on from Accent Press!)

Days at Chez Castillon begin with a breakfast of fresh croissants and baguettes from the local boulangerie (I could get used to this!). Then I and my fellow writing students, Sue, Mary, Helen and Peter, spend the morning in the “classroom” with our inspiring and insightful (and patient!) tutor, Jane Wenham-Jones.

Janie and Mickey who run Chez Castillon are wonderful hosts. As well as being a writer (her novel, Life’s A Drag, is published by Accent Press), Janie is a superb cook, and for lunch and dinner, all the students, and the writers in residence, Katie FfordeJudy Astley, Catherine Jones (writing as Fiona Field), Jo Thomas and Clare Mackintosh, gather in the dining room for delicious food, fabulous wine and much laughter (I do like being a writer!).

Today, after lunch, best-selling novelist, Katie Fforde, one of the judges of the Accent Press and Woman Writing Competition, helps me with my WIP. I sit by the pool in the sun, holding my breath while she reads my work, and I’m so thrilled and delighted when she likes it. She very generously shares her expertise and knowledge, and gives me some invaluable advice on how to sort out my plot.

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Also at Chez Castillon this week is David Headley of DHH Literary Agency. Jane helps me, Sue, Mary, Helen and Peter work on the pitches for our books, which we then present to David for feedback. I’m very encouraged by his appreciative interest in my WIP. It’s such a great opportunity to hear what a top literary agent looks for in a submission and to learn a little more about publishing.

My first visit to Chez Castillon goes all too fast. It’s been an inspiring and exhilarating week of writing, with great food, great wine, and above all great company – and so much fun. And what better way to toast a gathering of writers that includes romantic novelists than with Champagne de Romance? Santé.

If you’d like to be inspired by the beautiful Chez Castillon and its writers in residence, why not join bestselling novelist and tutor Jane Wenham-Jones in October

Posted in books, competitions, fiction, humour, novels, romance, short stories, writing

Short story – Carla’s Gift

Here by popular demand (Tony said he liked it, Morgen said we could alway pop it up on the blog….) is a short story for you. See – some of us were doing raunchy long before Fifty Shades of Grey.
Carla’s Gift first appeared in Jo Good‘s QWF (Quality Women’s Fiction) back in 1997 I think, and I later resurrected it for the anthology Sexy Shorts for Christmas in 2003.
Quite funny to read it again now – my writing style has changed a bit since. And some details are a little dated. It’s all quite mild by today’s standards, of course, but it raised a few eyebrows at the time. “I didn’t find it funny,” wrote one reader, crossly. “Just embarrassing…” Hope you, dear blog follower, are made of sterner stuff… 🙂
Am in bountiful mood (ie have had my first glass of weekend wine) so  all comments will be put in a draw for a free copy of my latest novel Prime Time (or another of my books if you’ve had the good taste to buy this already) – signed and sent to you or a friend anywhere in the world.
Draw made on Monday at midday…
Hope you enjoy it – feel free to pass it on if you do!
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Carla’s Gift by Jane Wenham-Jones

What do you say to a woman who has just had her first orgasm on the top of the multi-storey in a Ford Fiesta?

Congratulations was the word that sprang to mind but the others were strangely silent.

‘Good for you,’ I muttered to a cold shower of black looks.

I have always liked Carla. I liked her when she was married to Stuart and so I like her still. Round here, however, things are not so simple. I had witnessed a definite ripple of unease running around the circle of women I call my friends ever since Stuart walked out of 25 Arnold Drive and Carla – dry-eyed – walked out into the world and began to enjoy herself.

It was as if they feared that having gasped her way to ecstasy with her garage mechanic today, the next logical step would be tempting away their husbands. Frankly, she was welcome to mine. If she could stir Norman into producing the merest erect nipple, I’d cheerfully buy her gins all night. And quite honestly, by the look of the other lot’s assorted and spreading spouses, I thought they should be jolly grateful for any spark of enthusiasm injected there too.

Muriel, after a lot of sniffing, eventually said that Carla should be careful not to catch anything. Sylvia swallowed and did a lot of what I think the novels call, ‘dabbing one’s eyes’ with a pink tissue, before twittering on about the terrible ordeal that Carla had been through and how we were all so sorry and how she couldn’t imagine how she would cope if Roger left her, because he was such a comfort.

And I was just reflecting on the way we all just sat there, simpering, even though we knew that Roger had systematically got his podgy white leg over every barmaid the squash club had ever had, and that Carla had got totally slaughtered on champagne when Stuart had finally stopped just screwing them and had the wit to imagine he was in love and piss off, when I caught Carla’s eye and she gave me the most enormous wink.

It was then that I decided to discover her secret. For actually I’d never had an orgasm either.

Click here to read the whole story.