Once in a while, I get information that blends my two favorite things, writing and travel. Here is a recent release that includes both of these passions. For those looking to improve their writing in an idyllic setting, read on. –Devin, Editor ITKT–

Fiction Workshop in Chocolat Country with the Author of White Oleander
“Getting the Story, Getting it Down, Getting it Right,” June 16-22, 2008, Auvillar, France

For the writer, reader and adventurer in all of us comes a fiction workshop in Gascony, tucked deep in the enchanting region of Southwest France. Auvillar is setting of 2001 classic Chocolat starring Juliette Binoche. Think sumptuous strawberries, cobbled streets, pilgrims on their journey to Santiago de Compestela, medieval churches and sunflower-strewn hills, all wrapped around a weeklong creative writing master class in a storybook setting.

Los Angeles-based writers Janet Fitch, author of the mega-selling “Oprah Book” White Oleander and Bruce Bauman— acclaimed and award-winning novelist (And The Word Was) and creative writing professor at Cal Arts and Antioch, lead an unprecedented workshop in southern France, in the hilltop hamlet of Auvillar, located between Toulouse and Bordeaux. Open to the public, the workshops will feature much individual attention, and draw upon the charm and beauty of a medieval village officially designated one of France’s “100 Plus Beaux Villages.” To register and for more information visit http://www.vcca.com/bauman.html.

In this intensive workshop, Janet and Bruce will reveal the 15 key ingredients to getting a story down on paper, tips for getting agents and editors to read work, understanding the nuts and bolts of building scenes, characters and conflict, and finding one’s own voice and style. Janet will arrange an individual conference with each participant as well. The class takes advantage of the many lovely settings available in Auvillar for discussions and readings including the sunlit courtyard of the historic studio center, Le Moulin à Nef, many lovely village cafes, and tables alongside the banks of Garonne River. Cost is $2195 and includes instruction, accommodations, transfers to Auvillar from Toulouse or Valance d’Agen, all breakfasts and lunches and most dinners. Airfare is not included.

Auvillar offers a unique blend of charm and hospitality that can only come from a community that for centuries has played host to pilgrims trekking on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Organized by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), an international artist community nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains, the workshop convenes at the VCCA’s restored 17th-century studio center, with accommodates in a charming family run hotel and European-style guest houses.

Gascony is a delightful, green land of sleepy, fortified hilltop villages, or bastides, that date from the 13th century when the region was fought over for a hundred years by the English and the French. In addition to its gorgeous countryside, the region offers some of the finest examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture in all of France. Ancient priories, castles, and monasteries stud Gascony’s vineyards, sunflower fields and gorges. Note that non-participating companions are welcome to come along as there will be free time to sample the local art and culture of the region including excursions to neighboring villages, farmer’s markets and the 7th century Saint-Pierre abbey in Moissac.

Helpful links:

Workshop information: http://www.vcca.com/bauman.html or http://www.vcca.com/bauman.html
Other VCCA Workshops: http://www.vcca.com/2008_workshops.html
Regional Information: www.Auvillar.com