Wednesday, November 28, 2018

2019 Summer writing workshop in Tuscany with Hallie

HALLIE EPHRON: I was so jealous (but so well behaved that I didn’t show it) when Rhys told us all about her amazing ten days as writer in residence teaching a writing workshop for Minerva Education in Tuscany. 

This summer, it’s my turn (May 29-June 27)! 

I'm calling my workshop
“From Inspiration to Book." It's being held at Hotel Colle Etrusco Salivolpi (a so-called agriturismo, a converted ancient farm house, remodeled with every modern comfort.) Its grounds go back to Etruscan times. The hotel is within walking distance from the center of town with its charming restaurants, churches, shops and services. And within easy striking distance of Florence, Siena, and Arezzo.

I’m so excited for two reasons… make that three.

1. First, I have several writing friends who’ve raved about their
experiences with Minerva Education and its leaders, the husband-and-wife team of Pier Raimondo Baldini (he grew up in Florence) and Cajsi Baldini, professors at Arizona State University. The hotel is reputedly fabulous, ditto the food.

2. The opportunity to work intensively for more than a few days with a small group of writers will be a rare luxury. Not just TEACHING but getting to work on the writing in the most collaborative way. Time to write. Time to REVISE! Time to share and learn what works best for that writer.

I want to use some of the time to explore something I heard Walter Mosley say: 
“Story is what happened; plot is the order in which it’s revealed to the reader.” 
I immediately wrote that down and have been thinking about it ever since. To me, this is directly related to character-driven plotting--the thing that separates workmanlike novels from memorable ones. And it speaks to the reasons why mystery novels, in particular, are so challenging to write. Can't wait to unravel it.

3. TUSCANY! A few years ago I spent a week there and have wanted to get back for an even more extended visit. I remember vividly the rolling landscapes, fields and vineyards, roads lined with tall Cypress trees. Beautiful weather. Birds (we saw hoopoes!) Sublime food... Bruschetta that started most meals, toast topped with fresh tomato and basil. Fresh made pasta like nothing I’d ever eaten (I went home and bought a pasta maker). Cinghiale, Tuscan wild boar (photo: Wikimedia: Valentin Panzirsch) which we tried not to run into while walking in the woods but relished in rich a Bolognese-y pasta sauce. Wine: Brunello di Montalcino! Be still my beating heart!

Did I mention the cheeses? The gorgeous affordable leather goods? (I’ll bring an extra suitcase.) The town squares. The churches. The art and history. The panoramas…

I’m going back!
Join me! For the writing, for the WRITERs, for the food, wine, leather, and wild boar.

Do you have memories of Tuscany? Italy? Here are memories from MY memory book... we'll be making new ones to follow!



 
***
Hallie Ephron will be teaching a 2019 summer writing workshop in Tuscany.
She will be writer-in-residence offering a personalized, intensive writing workshop (“From Inspiration to Book”) 5/29-6/7/2019 near Castellini in Chianti. For writers who are just getting started as well as mid-level writers who are already experienced and accomplished. Register now and enjoy this incredible experience in Tuscany and propel your own writing to the next level. More information at www.minervaeducation.net or email Hallie at Hallie@HallieEphron.com.

40 comments:

  1. I wish I were a writer. If I were, I’d be there, if only to soak up Hallie. We were in Tuscany many years ago and need the go back.

    Maybe in my next life I’ll come back as Red.

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    1. We were in Tuscany in 2005, Florence, Lucca, Assisi of course. It was breathtaking. Then we moved to Rome, stayed in a 1000 year old convent cum hotel on the Tiber, right across from Castel Sant Angelo. I kept watching for some diva plunging from the tower.

      Unfortunately I could not see the Sistine Chapel. They were having some sort of conference in there, and we sat in Piazza San Pietro one day, watching the cardinals play with fire, white smoke after white smoke coming out. It must have been a big deal because all the international news agencies we set up there, off to one side. All of a sudden there was black smoke, the "habemus papam" sign. Withing seconds all the bells of Rome began to ring out and the piazza filled with streams of people from all over. We weren't over thrilled with the election of Cardinal Ratzinger, but hey, a couple of years earlier Julie had sung for him in San Francisco! However we felt, it was a moment in history, has only happened 266 times, and we were there.

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    2. You were there to see the smoke!?! Ha. And little did you know...

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    3. Oh I knew, Hallie. There was a palpable feeling of disappointment in the crowd, starting with us. But look what we have now!

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  2. Both the workshop and Tuscany sounds amazing, Hallie . . . .

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  3. Oh my, you are going to have the best time! Italy in the Spring! Wish I could go!

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  4. I was lucky enough to attend Rhys's first Tuscany workshop with Minerva Education, and would strongly urge anyone who's considering joining it in 2019 to GO. Scrape your pennies together, because if you're looking to write a novel, or finish one you've begun, this workshop is truly worthwhile.

    First: Hallie is a great teacher, very encouraging and knowledgeable, and since she's a seasoned traveler, would be great fun to spend the time with. Second: the format of the workshop is intense but relaxed. You write every day, but the pace is set to allow for periods of learning, using the skills, and then discussions with other writers about how those skills are applied in the exercises. I learned so much, including from the rest of the participants during the critique after each readout. And third: spending concentrated time in one of the most beautiful settings anyplace was lovely. The accommodations are comfortable, and the food is fresh, local, and delicious. The side trips were well-timed in the schedule to offer perfect mental breaks, and provided a lot of local color.

    I added a trip to Venice before the workshop, and more travel to three other countries afterwards, which made it an even more wonderful experience.

    One of our group, Teresa Michael, just published the book she was working on during our workshop week: Murder in Mariposa Beach.

    Rhys invited me to write a blog entry about our trip afterwards, which has photos, in case anyone is interested: http://www.jungleredwriters.com/2016/07/karen-maslowski-on-rhys-bowens-writing.html

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    1. Wow! That's quite a testimonial, Karen -- Thank you! I only hope I can provide the same caliber experience as Rhys did. Going now to see your blog on Rhys's workshop.

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  5. So happy for you, Hallie! For all the reasons you mentioned, it is going to be a wonderful experience for you and the lucky participants! I can just imagine it--the setting, the food, the hard mental work--the challenges (for me, the challenge would be keeping my mind on the work--the setting would dazzle me!).

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  6. So fabulous! Yes we spent time in Castellina in Chianti— is that where this is taking place? It’s fantastic, gorgeous, and the side trips are amazing. At the place we stayed, the shrubbery, shoulder high, is Rosemary! Which winters over there. Amazing. Fresh peaches, and pecorino cheese, ann gorgeous olives, and yes, Brunello di Montalcino ! We went to Montalcino, and Montapulciano and got wine shipped home! And everyplace you go, every restaurant, everyone wants everything to be deliciously perfect. And it is! Plus, taking classes from you, Hallie?! Fabulous.

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    1. Exactly!!! There's nowhere quite like it. For a writer and a foodie: bliss.

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  7. Tempting. We visited Florence and Verona in 2017. Loved the Boboli Gardens and the newly-opened crypt under the Duomo in Florence. Knocked off my Christmas shopping for 5 kids at first a handbag and belt shop, and then a ties and scarves shop. My husband spent hours in the Galileo museum. Verona is filled to capacity during its summer music festival, but off season, a welcome respite from the hoards of tourists.

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    1. AGES ago we were in Verona and got ourselves tickets to see Aida in their ancient stadium. LONGEST night of my life. Started at 8. Ended well after midnight And we'd neglected to eat. When my stomach rumbled, the Italians who were picnicking all around us in their seats, shushed me.

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    2. Rule of thumb: Always take a snack to the opera.

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  8. There aren't many places in Europe on my "bucket list," but Tuscany is one of them. I wish I could go (considering I'm on the hook for two different types of school tuition, it ain't gonna happen).

    Hallie, I'm writing down that quote from Walter Moseley!

    Mary/Liz

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    1. That line turned around my whole thinking about plot. I always fall back on "'The king died and then the queen died' is a story... 'The king died and then the queen died of grief' is a plot. It's useful, especially in the beginning when you need to envision the characters' goals (setting up conflict!) and create forward momentum and tension. But it doesn't carry you through the plotting Act I to Act II to Act III the way that quote does.

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  9. This sounds amazing, Hallie! You forget to mention the gelato! And I love the king and queen quotes, too. Such a simple explanation for such a bear of a concept!

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    1. I confess I LOVE talking about writing. Taking it apart. Figuring out why one thing works and another doesn't. The other tough nut is POV. Mechanically I get it. It's like subtext, the thing that's there but isn't.

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  10. And the wine tasting evening in an old cellar, Hallie, and balsamic vinegar tasting, and a shop in town where the leather purses cost $20, for me sitting together on the shady veranda with rolling hills of grapes and olive trees in every direction, sharing ideas, seeing a novel come to life was something I'll always treasure

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  11. Ah, this makes me drool for so many reasons! Seascape on steroids, really. ;^) I want to go so badly...

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  12. Okay, so now I'm totally jealous and I'm not sure I can be as well behaved as you were when Rhys went. Wahhhhh! Okay, I'm better now. LOL. My mom and I ran away to Firenze when I turned 40 and I've been longing to go back. It was most definitely one of the best trips of my life. Have a fabulous time and if you want to throw my name into the hat to the powers that be - that'd be cool, too!!! ;)

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    1. You'd be great, Jenn - especially given the MULTI-genres that you write.

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  13. I love the pictures of you there, Hallie - you look so relaxed and happy! I know you'll enjoy working intensively with a group of writers - and who knows, maybe you'll get inspiration for a book out of it, viz. Rhys's The Tuscan Child!

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  14. Hallie, this sounds so fabulous, and as I know what a terrific teacher you are, I'm sure your students will have a very productive time. I have been wanting to go to Tuscany forever--it is on my bucket list. And while the writing would be nice, IT'S REALLY ALL ABOUT THE FOOD!! Huge congrats on this!!

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    1. Shhh, don't tell anyone. The food and the purses.

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  15. Oh I would love to visit Tuscany! Need a go-fer? I'll be happy to serve coffee, wine, etc. in a totally non-invasive fashion. You'd never know I was there.

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    1. I'll pack you in my suitcase...!

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    2. Pftt, she told me the same thing when she went to Iceland, but did I get to go?

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  16. I visited Tuscany a long time ago with a small budget tour group. It was a wonderful experience. I liked Tuscany better than Florence. And my favorite place in Italy was Venice. No cars :-)

    Diana

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    1. My husband and I were back in Venice this summer. No floods at the time, fortunately, and it was just as spectacular as we'd remembered.

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    2. I think I saw your photos from your trip on Jungle Reds last summer?

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  17. This all sounds so wonderful, like a little piece of heaven on Earth. I would love to visit Tuscany one of these days. I need to start writing a novel, just so I could experience this workshop and Tuscany. Of course, I thought the same thing when Rhys was teaching. How lucky the Minerva Education group is to have snagged Rhys and Hallie for teachers.

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