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

Back from Chez Castillon….

I came back on Saturday, in fact, but it took  the rest of the weekend to sort the faint air of bachelor pad – why don’t men notice dead flowers or demonstrate  that  same technical expertise with which they  handle the iphone or Playstation, to get to grips with the washing machine? – and then there were the 497 emails to deal with, three deadlines and no chocolate in the house. Yes, I should have answered the emails while en France but there really wasn’t a spare minute between teaching, eating a long lunch, more teaching, walking off the long lunch, talking a lot, and suddenly finding it was G&T time…

It was my second visit but my first one as a tutor so thanks to Jo, Betty, Brenda, Julie and Sally, my inaugural  students for making it a great baptism of fire (that’ll teach me to say “interrupt as much as you like”  :-)) and even greater fun. Lovely Katie Fforde came too with her husband Desmond and Captain Catherine “Brace Up” Jones (aka @LaceKate) was also on hand to route march me in the evenings and make me laugh so much my stomach muscles hurt.

Janie and Mickey who run the gaff were their usual wonderful selves – far be it from them to let a glass be empty – and Rory the dog has stopped chewing things. A result all round. Oh and David Headley  (the literary agent and bookseller – googling this name throws up some interesting options) came for a couple of days too. See his twitter  – bless ‘im.

So all in all, a good time was had by all and I am going back in April. Email me or visit www.chez-castillon.com if you want to come too…

Slacker

Am all behind on this blogging lark – as I am on so many things – but I have a small array of excuses. Been away in Manchester doing workshops for Woman’s Weekly at their live show and  London where I’ve been recording a podcast with lovely Sue Cook of Write Lines as part of National Short Story Week.  As I had one one foot out of the hotel door, when writing this, clever Morgen is going to post this up and do the twiddly bits as she so often does and I’ve been writing things for other people’s blogs too. Thank you Vanessa O’Loughlin for this one.

I shall try to do better once I get to France – still one last place left. Remember the ever-wonderful Katie Fforde is coming too – and hot off the press there’ll be a session with agent David Headley – so if you know anyone…

In the meantime I leave you with my latest piece of fan mail, left on Thanetonline blog and relating to the Isle of Thanet Gazette where I am one of the two  mentioned – guess which?  “When will they appoint a professional editor and sack those two whinging columnists … the alcoholic obsessed novelist and the grumpy old git?” (I presume he means “alcohol-obsessed” but still entertaining all the same :-))

More soon…. xx

 

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