Tag Archives: course

A Course with Wow!

Fizz on the terrace on the last evening

Fizz on the terrace on the last evening

I have just spent the most amazing week leading a one-week residential course for Arte Umbria in the Umbrian hills, Italy.

I’m not sure why I should be amazed – I taught there last year. But somehow I’d managed to forget some of the majesty of the views from the terrace on the Poggiolame estate, a little of the history and luxury of the stone-built house. ‘Gorgeous’ doesn’t do it justice.

The pergola on the terrace

The pergola on the terrace

Being at a venue so secluded is novel. The estate has 200 acres, most of it wild countryside but dotted with olive groves, fruit trees, tracks to wander around. Oh yes – and a swimming pool within the lovely gardens close to the house.

Flip chart and table on the veranda

Flip chart and table on the veranda

But my function at Arte Umbria isn’t  to admire the venue, it’s to lead the writing course. There’s something special about my classroom being at a table under a veranda or lounging comfortably beneath a vine-strewn pergola, the sun beating down around. It’s almost a shame to break for (yet another) delicious meal when the bell sounds. It’s a small course so it’s possible to provide a friendly and productive atmosphere and give individual attention to each student and their work in progress.

The students were fantastic. They got so much done and moved their work on so far that I was truly impressed.

Il Duomo - the cathedral at Orvieto, where we went on our day off

Il Duomo – the cathedral at Orvieto, where we went on our day off

Sunset on the terrace

Sunset on the terrace

I even got a chapter of my own WIP written, too! It was a bit of a challenge to write about Camden at Christmas when I was in Italy in July but every day of writing teaches me something new.

I haven’t yet heard what courses Arte Umbria will be running next year but if you’re interested in a course in art, sculpture or writing in fantastic surroundings, go to http://www.arteumbria.com and book.

My room

My room

The pool

The pool

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Winning Ways

On Saturday I led a WriteStars one-day course: Learn How to Write a Romantic Novel in a Day.

The venue was the gorgeous RAF club in London’s Piccadilly. Such a stylish and gracious building – but one of the selling point of a WriteStars workshop is that venues are always lovely.

The group was a nice size and everybody participated well. We paid a lot of attention to where in the bookshop we might expect to see our work, as well as the nuts and bolts of constructing a plot, how to stop it sagging in the middle, how to get to the end, and how to put the right hero with the right heroine in order to spark the plot into life.

With Catherine Miller Mar 14It was great to see Catherine, pictured left with me in this dubious selfie, who won a place on the course through a competition put on jointly by WriteStars and my lovely publisher, Choc Lit. She was a great participant and I think that she’ll be successful in her writing.

My thanks to everybody who attended the course. You were all great and I hope to see you again.

My next WriteStars workshop is in the Cambridge area, ‘How to Make Money Writing’ on 26 July 2014.

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