Sling Some Ink in Paris this Fall with Inkslingers!

Right off the top, I want to let you know I am NOT affiliated with Inkslingers in any way (nor am I being incentivized to mention them). I JUST BELIEVE IN THEM AND IN WHAT THEY DO! I wanted to give them a quick shout-out today because Sue Reynolds and James Dewar are incredible writing instructors and you would do well to spend some time with them if you’re looking to ignite your writing life.

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Picture is mine, but I checked the itinerary – Montmartre is on the itinerary…and it’s where this lovely and iconic pink restaurant is located.

Click the ink bottle below to go directly to the INKSLINGER website:

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Sue Reynolds was one of my first contacts with the WCDR. In my early days in the organization, I attended a writing group led by Sue at the Uxbridge Library. It really served to kick-start the writing life I was bursting to slip into. She and James Dewar (another writing mentor who did a lot to boost my love of poetry) are leading a writing retreat in beautiful PARIS this fall. Although, sadly, I will be missing it…it REALLY is something you should consider doing for your writing life. Both Sue and James are wonderful nurturing writing coaches…and did I mention PARIS?!

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Across the way from Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Company is a MUST SEE bookstore in the very heart of Paris. Inkslingers will take you there!

FROM INKSLINGERS:

Visit Paris as more than just a tourist. Engage with this important city as a literary traveler experiencing it through the words of the great writers who have called it home; and then reflect on your own reactions and experience daily in our inspiring workshops.

Travel in the safety and community of other writers and artists on our exclusive tour bus. Stay at a four-star hotel with easy access to The Metro for setting out on personal or small group excursions.

Sue and James will be joined in Paris by Kate Marshall Flaherty. You can learn about KATE HERE.

INKSLINGERS IN PARIS takes place Oct. 26th to Nov. 3rd

The itinerary looks exquisite. You will visit Père Lachaise Cemetery, House of Victor Hugo, Place de Vosages, Bibliotheque Mazarine, The Musee d’Orsay, The Rodin Museum, Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur Basilica, Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, the Catacombs… and SO MUCH MORE.

HERE’S THE FULL ITINERARY.

Check out the details at the INKSLINGERS website now! Don’t wait, because they are offering an EARLYBIRD DISCOUNT until June 15th. ALSO, for my American readers…pricing is in CDN dollars so you will be further discounted by the exchange.

Honestly, you couldn’t be in more capable hands. Inkslingers are passionate about what they do and they do it tremendously well.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT INKSLINGERS AND LEARN ALL ABOUT THEIR PARIS RETREAT

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Beauty’s Religion and it Christens Me with Wonder

“There are places I’ll remember all my life…” ~ In My Life, The Beatles (Rubber Soul)

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When I consider the lyrics of And If Venice Is Sinking by the Spirit of the West, I inevitably think of places like Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. “‘Cause beauty’s religion and it’s christened me with wonder.” Not only is Notre Dame the very heart of one of the world’s most beloved cities, but it is also smack dab at the Point Zero mark of that city. There is an octagonal brass plate embedded in the ground just outside the front doors of Notre Dame. It’s marked, “POINT ZERO – DES ROUTES DE FRANCE”. The point from which all places are measured. If the heart is at the centre, then this would be the literal heart of Paris.

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When I was in Paris in 2014 for the Left Bank Writers Retreat, I stayed just down the street from the iconic Catholic cathedral… on Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île. I made it a point to walk by–to touch–the cathedral every single day I was in Paris. I discovered that if you go just after sunrise, you can beat the throngs that appear and line up outside its front doors for the remainder of the day. You could have the entire inside of the cathedral virtually to yourself. This is what I did. And it was lovely. I was able to walk through the history housed in the massive cathedral at my own pace and marvel at the myriad of relics found under it impressive roof. And instead of feeling ill at ease by all the watching eyes of the gargoyles looking down from above, I felt protected. They were patrolling the heart of Paris, keeping everything in their arrondissement safe. And who was I to question that? They had been looking down on Paris for 750 years, give or take. Those gargoyles? They are my saints. They are enough religion for me.

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Our Lady of Paris suffered another setback yesterday, but she will rise again. She always does. She has, after all, survived even the French Revolution.

 

 

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Notre-Dame in the spring of 2014.

Inside Notre-Dame, I found a model of Notre-Dame. I hope they removed it before the most recent restoration project began.

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In 1831 Victor Hugo featured Our Lady in his famous literary masterpiece The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. This is how I fell in love with the cathedral. I found her in a book.

The preface of Hugo’s book explains how graffiti was its catalyst…one word–ANArKH–engraved by hand into the wall in Notre Dame. That always shook me. It stayed with me…the spark that created a masterpiece. I could visualize that becoming, that blossoming, that eruption of creativity. It’s how ideas come to writers. It’s remarkable that we get a glimpse into this secret insight in the preface of Hugo’s book. It, in itself, is a gift. Anyway, the end of the preface is as follows:

“The man who wrote that word upon the wall disappeared from the midst of the generations of man many centuries ago; the word, in its turn, has been effaced from the wall of the church; the church will, perhaps, itself soon disappear from the face of the earth. It is upon this word that this book is founded. March, 1831.”

Being a character in a novel has its perks. For Notre-Dame, the biggest perk became renewed interest and, ultimately, a restoration—which saw the addition of the iconic spire that toppled yesterday in a fire. That spire took many hearts with it when it fell into the flames. But don’t lose hope. Vive la France, Vive Paris, Vive Notre Dame. She will rise again. It may take some time, but she will do it. She sits inside the literal heart of a great nation and she is that great nation’s heart. They won’t let her die.

NYC Midnight – Round Two and Me!

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The entrance stairs to my third floor flat in Paris in Rue St Louis.

I honestly can’t believe this, but I get to move forward to ROUND 2 of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge 2019! The first cut of this challenge is the deepest. It just went from over 4,500 writers to only 750 writers in the 2nd round. Just after midnight last night (or, I suppose, this morning) the Round 1 results were posted. Not only did I make the Top 5 in my heat, but I made FIRST PLACE. I know, I’m just as flabbergasted as you are! But after I read the results three (or four, or five) times, I decided I was reading them correctly. It’s right there in black and white, come what may…

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I have been writing short stories quite a lot lately, and they’re always set in cities that I have visited in the past few years. I decided not to stray from that theme with this one. I guess it’s working. My heat in round one had 3 stipulations. The genre had to be DRAMA, it had to involve PET-SITTING in some form or another and one of the characters had to be a FIANCEE. I wrote a story from the perspective of the apartment I actually stayed in while in Paris in 2014. I had the good fortune of being told by the hotel concierge when I arrived at my hotel on Rue St. Louis on the Island that they had a special apartment down the street. He said, “You’re a writer, no? We would like to give you the full experience!” He took me for a walk down the street and showed me a top floor flat with a view to a courtyard below. As if he was afraid I would say no and demand to be taken back to the hotel, he offered me a daily discount to stay in the incredible flat. He had me at hello. I saw the woman downstairs while I was staying in that flat. I put her in my pocket, knowing I would use her at a later date. Thanks to the NYC Midnight challenge, because the prompts called her willowy ghost back into existence.

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See those three windows at the very top? That’s where I called home when I was in Paris. They looked down into the closed circular courtyard below. And…maybe into a few of the windows below, too. (-;

I’m stunned, really…so so happy and excited too. I can’t wait for the next round, even though it terrifies me. I can work around the other stipulations, it’s the genre challenge I fear the most. I tend to stay in my lane as a reader and as a writer…which means I could definitely miss some of the subtle nuances of quite a few of the potential genres I could find myself facing. I shudder to think!

And I won’t have long to worry about the gunshot that goes off and sends a scary genre-bullet my way. THURSDAY AT MIDNIGHT—that’s when I’ll receive the 2nd round challenge. And the 750 writers still alive in this challenge will have 72 hours to submit their 2000 word stories for the next round of judging.

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Nina, a dear friend I met while in Paris for the Left Bank Writers Retreat in June 2014. We spent a lot of our free time together, exploring all of Paris on foot. This is us atop the Arc de Triomphe.

Here’s what the 2nd Round officially looks like:

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I’m so thrilled that I held on to that woman these 5 years. When I run across my potential characters in real life, they sort of haunt me relentlessly until I get them on the page. She was particularly insistent. She’s free now. And I thank her from the bottom of my heart, both for sticking around and for pinch-hitting when I needed her most. Cheers to the woman downstairs in Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, Paris! I am eternally grateful for ‘meeting’ you.

GOOD LUCK TO MY 749 FELLOW ROUND TWO WRITERS! Full disclosure: Every July I travel up to Huntsville, Ontario for the 72hr Muskoka Novel Marathon. That’s right…I write an entire novel in 72 hours. I’m ready for this challenge! BRING IT!

Left Bank Writers Retreat – Paris!

Hello all,

I went down a nice little rabbit hole this morning. Or shall I say trou de lapin? At any rate, today’s #TBT or #ThrowbackThursday idea to post something about Paris made me fall in love with the LEFT BANK WRITERS RETREAT all over again! Speaking of RABBITS, did you know that Picasso at the Lapin Agile, the play by actor, writer, renaissance man, Steve Martin, was actually set in a place in Paris? Montmartre to be exact!

There will probably be many digressions today. (-: Where was I? Oh yes, the Left Bank Writers Retreat! It happens every June in the City of Love & Lights. It’s a unique one-week retreat that explores writing and Paris and Hemingway ALL AT ONCE! Almost 5 years ago, I attended this retreat and it was magic from moment one. You write in the Tuileries, in Luxembourg Gardens, in the garden behind Notre Dame Cathedral. You visit Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie and Montmartre. You dine at Hemingway’s hangouts and where Fitzgerald dined. It’s all writing world and Paris world meets and you just have to experience it to know the gorgeous retreat it is.

I believe there are still spots available for June, 2019…though I suppose I should have checked with Darla first! You can meet DARLA, TRAVIS & SARAH here. They are the incredible faculty of the retreat and their knowledge of Paris, Hemingway and writing, combined with their incredible personalities, MAKE the experience what it is.

All your days are mapped out for you and each one is magical. Your evening? ALL YOURS! You might be fortunate enough to make some new friends at the intimate retreat and hit the streets together! My traveling companion in the evenings became new friend, fellow writer and poet, Nina. Here we are atop the Arc!

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With Nina atop the Arc de Triomphe, Paris France, June 2014 – Left Bank Writers Retreat. And, yes, that IS the beautiful Avenue des Champs-Élysées behind us!

Click on the pic of the website below to visit the LEFT BANK WRITERS RETREAT site to find out all the details, including the itinerary, payment, FAQ, etc…

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You should do yourself and your writing life a solid in 2019 and jump into the Left Bank! You’ll love it!

 

Kenya, Six Years On…Life Itself Is a Moveable Feast!

Ernest Hemingway famously wrote “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast” in his Paris memoir A MOVEABLE FEAST.

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He was right. By God, was he right. But he also touched on something with that now famous quote…something in my soul. A truth. He was right in saying PARIS was a moveable feast. It is a rich city of love and light. It has come to represent the beauty of life itself. That’s why those cowardly inhuman bastards who like to think of themselves as a STATE (which is so completely laughable) took aim on our (the world’s) city. Those creatures are the least of the least…pathetic losers. Call them DAESH…because they hate the derogatory term. Don’t call them ISIL or ISIS. That’s what they want. They are DIRT. They are less than dirt. They are heathens and unholy dirtbags who are attempting to hijack a religion and destroy the world and the love within the world. Call them Daesh or call them nothing. I should not compare them to anything…because whatever I could possibly compare them to is BETTER than them. The puckered asshole on the back-end of NOTHING is better than these cowardly nothing pieces of shit (Oops…shit is miles above these creatures). What they don’t know is that the whole world is laughing at their sad pathetic asses and their attempts to destroy the love and joy and peace they can’t begin to understand. They are uncouth imbeciles, from the leader to the smallest of them. Religion?! Ha. Mayhem, destruction, apocalypse whores with Daddy issues. Losers.

OOPS! Me and my tangents. That’s not even where I was going. I didn’t mean to write that. I guess there’s no denying the fact that I have so much disgust for these creatures…as I love life and they abhor it. I think I’m just gonna leave that here. NOW…where was I?

Hemingway said that Paris was a moveable feast…but the more countries I’m fortunate enough to explore, the more I realize that the world in its entirety is a moveable feast. There is beauty in every corner. There are beautiful people in every corner.

It was six years ago today that I boarded a plane and took off for Kenya. I fell instantly in love with the country. It’s hard to believe it was six years ago. Hard to believe in a SIX WHOLE YEARS sort of way AND a ONLY SIX YEARS sort of way. I may have discovered a host of things in Kenya, but I think one of the most important things I stumbled upon while I was there was myself.

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Masai Market – Lamu Island (December, 2009)

From Nairobi to Lamu…from Ngong Hills to Masai Mara…the country took my breath away. Its beauty and its people.

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Captured while sitting at a sidewalk cafe on Lamu Island.

I went there with Summer Literary Seminars and I studied writing while simultaneously discovering the country.

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I was fortunate enough to take a safari in Masai Mara, while staying at Keekorok Lodge.

I met amazing people, saw incredible things. I even kissed a giraffe.

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Seeing Kenya made clear Hemingway’s words well before I stepped foot on the sacred soil of his beloved Paris. Everywhere we go, if we look, we will find a lovely and breathtaking moveable feast. The more we love, the more we take back the world from those who seek only to destroy it. For evil lurks in dark places…but love…love can be found everywhere. Love itself is a moveable feast…

Walk in Hemingway’s Footsteps! PARIS is calling! The 2016 Left Bank Writers Retreat – Holiday Discount for the Writer in Your Life!

In June of 2014 I treated myself to one of the most remarkable journeys I have ever been on. Yes, it was Paris…and that’s always an amazing journey. But what made it special were the people that accompanied me on the journey. When you participate in the Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris, you instantly become family with a handful of writers as you traipse together through the same Paris that Ernest Hemingway knew and loved. It is the opportunity of a lifetime to see Paris through the eyes of the LBWR facilitators.

And they are currently having a holiday discount!

Now accepting registration for summer session of the LBWR, June 19-25, 2016

Holiday Discount, register before December 31, 2015 and save $200

As a past participant in the LBWR (June, 2014), I can tell you it was one of the highlights of my traveling/writing life. We lunched at amazing sidewalk cafes frequented by Hemingway, we wrote in the Luxembourg Gardens and in the Tuileries, we visited many museums, we took the Metro to Montmartre. We did it all. And the organizers–Darla Worden, Sarah Suzor, and, Travis Cebula–were absolutely incredible. There is not a thing about Paris that Travis Cebula does not know. He is just a non-stop wealth of knowledge. This is important when you have your evenings to yourself and you’re new to the city of lights. Travis was there with an answer to all inquiries when it came to mapping out our evenings in Paris. The three of them went well beyond all expectations, making my first experience in Paris a truly memorable one I will carry with me forever.

Honestly, beyond the tours of Hemingway’s haunts and the writing exercises in the most beautiful parks of the city, we all just connected. And it was certainly implied that every year makes up another special familial group of Left Bank Writers. With Darla, Sarah and Travis serving as the glue that holds each year’s group together…you really can’t go wrong.

If you’re a writer, allow the LBWR to show you a Paris you have never seen before while simultaneously kick-starting your writing to the next level. You won’t regret the experience. If there is a writer in your life and you’re looking for the perfect writing gift to help encourage their path…THIS IS IT. Give them Paris and Hemingway and Darla and Sarah and Travis! It’s a combination like no other. Beautiful City + Beautiful People = Unforgettable Awesome

Here’s the latest missive from the LBWR…you can read more about the program in their words:

Holiday Gifts for Writers: Paris Tops the List

Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris announces holiday sale plus top-5 book suggestions

 Denver, Colo. – Nov. 10, 2015 – The Left Bank Writers Retreat, a small-group six-day writing workshop and literary tourism experience held in Paris each June, has some great gift ideas for that writer on your holiday shopping list. “Of course you can’t beat a chance to find writing inspiration in Paris firsthand,” says Left Bank Writers Retreat founder and director Darla Worden, “so we have to suggest that as a starting point.”

As a holiday gift-giving incentive, anyone signing up for this summer’s retreat before Dec. 31 will receive a $200 discount off the $1,999 tuition for a reduced price of $1,799. The Left Bank Writers Retreat will take place June 19-25, 2016, and tuition covers all daily expenses during the retreat from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (breakfast, lunch, admissions fees and transportation around the city, as well as writing instruction). Writers are responsible for their own airfare and lodging.

Open to all levels of writers, the Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris includes morning writing sessions, coaching and one-on-one time with the instructor for a maximum of eight writers, as well as lunch each day, admission to museums and area sights and a picnic on the banks of the Seine. Recommended by the Los Angeles Times as a chance to follow in Hemingway’s footsteps and cure writer’s block, the workshop includes a literary tourism experience that treats attending writers to many of the sights featured in the Woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris” as well as some newly opened and off-the-beaten-track literary landmarks.

“If a trip to Paris is larger than a shopper’s budget allows,” says Worden, “books about Ernest Hemingway and Paris also make excellent gifts.” She recommends the following list of titles, old and new, to add to shopping lists:

1.    Hemingway in Love: His Own Story by A.E. Hotchner

2.    Hemingway’s Paris: A Writer’s City in Words and Images by Robert Wheeler

3.    Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties by Noel Riley Fitch

4.    Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

5.    The Nick Adams Stories (Audible Audio Edition) by Ernest Hemingway, read by Stacy Keach

The Left Bank Writers Retreat is named for the now-famous writers who lived on Paris’s Left Bank during the 1920s. Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald are some of the expats who wrote in Paris, congregating in the city’s cafes and bars to share ideas. During the June retreat, participants experiment with many of the Left Bank writers’ techniques.

Applications for the June 2016 retreat and registration information are online at www.leftbankwritersworkshop.com/register

Darla Worden is a writer who lives in Jackson, Wyo., Denver, Colo., and Paris. Worden has written widely for magazines and authored several books. She writes the popular blog Frenchophile and is currently working on a book about Hemingway’s Paris.

Now in its seventh year, the Left Bank Writers Retreat takes place on the historic Île Saint-Louis in the heart of Paris. Writers arrange their own lodging and transportation to Paris. For additional information, visit www.leftbankwriters.com.

Media Contact: Darla Worden, WordenGroup Public Relations, darla@wordenpr.com, 303.777.7667

Make a decision that will change you or the writing loved one in your life. I promise…it will be incredible!

Some pics of my Left Bank Writers Retreat adventure!

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In the evenings, participants are free to visit the sights of the city either on their own or with fellow participants. I discovered this beauty with fellow participant, Nina.
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Left Bank Writers Retreat creator Darla Worden, with fellow facilitator Travis Cebula and participant Nina Welch. We wrote in the Luxembourg Gardens most mornings!
The Left Bank Writers Retreat faculty take writers to these magical steps, where Gil was whisked off into the 1920s in the movie Midnight In Paris!
The Left Bank Writers Retreat faculty take writers to these magical steps, where Gil was whisked off into the 1920s in the movie Midnight In Paris!