Category Archives: Creative Getaway

Travel at from Paris to Angers at a speed of up to 200mph on the TGV!

Easy ways to get to Le Chateau du Pin

Would you like to come to the Chateau du Pin writing retreat with a well-planned route that is easy to follow? My wife Norma is a great planner, plus she reads French, German and Italian, so she has figured it all out for you.

First: Would you like to fly into Paris, or into Nantes? The advantage of flying into Paris is that it’s Paris. Paris is an amazing, life-changing city. Nothing can describe Paris. If you haven’t been there, you owe it to yourself to come a couple of days early and see Paris. The advantage of flying into Nantes is that it is easier to get to the chateau from Nantes than from Paris.

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Charles de Gaulle airport

Getting to the Chateau du Pin from Paris

To get to the chateau from Paris, you will need to take the TGV from Gare Montparnasse to the city of Angers. To get to the Gare Montparnasse directly from Charles de Gaulle Airport, take the Les Cars Air France shuttle (16.60€) to Gare Montparnasse. (If you are spending a few days in Paris, take a taxi or other form of transport to Gare Montparnasse.) From Gare Montparnasse take the one-hour and forty-minute TGV ride to the city of Angers (book via Raileurope.com: $88 U.S. and up. Trains travel at speeds up to 200mph. They depart every one to two hours.) Then from the train station in Angers, take a fifteen-minute local train ride to the village of Champtocé-sur-Loire. Trains depart from Angers to Champtocé-sur-Loire at 12:30 pm arriving 12:45 pm; 3:37 pm arriving 4:00 pm; and 6:05 pm arriving 6:30 pm. Depending on which train you take, we can pick you up at the Champtocé-sur-Loire train station at 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm, or 6:30pm. If you arrive and have not made prior plans to be picked up, or you don’t see anyone there waiting for you, call or text Norma at 415 317-4460. We are here to help!

Nantes Atlantique
Nantes Atlantique airport, Hall 1

Getting to the Chateau du Pin from Nantes

It’s easier and quicker to get to the village of Champtocé-sur-Loire if you fly into Nantes, and the total prices are comparable, once you add up all the train travel. In Nantes Airport, Hall 1, buy a 7.00€ shuttle ticket  for Gare de Nantes. At Gare de Nantes, buy a ticket to Champtocé-sur-Loire, 17.00€. Take train from Nantes to Champtocé-sur-Loire (7:41 am arrive 8:30, 12:11 pm arrive 12:58 , and 5:35 pm arrive 6:30 pm).  (You can also buy this ticket in advance through RailEurope.) We can pick you up at the train station at Champtocé-sur-Loire at 8:45 am, 1:00 pm, or 6:30 pm. Or call or text Norma at 415 317-4460. If you have any questions please let us know–we are here to help!

tennisheadshot2AWA

Pay what it’s worth to you. What a concept.

That’s right: For our great four-day writing retreat coming up May 16 through 19 in beautiful rural Connecticut, I have decided to do something radical yet sensible: I’m reducing the price, but rather than picking a percentage reduction, I decided to ask you, if you are interested in coming—and it is going to be really great—What would you like to pay?

Seriously. Here is the reasoning. I once went to a financial consultant who helped me a great deal with some business matters and the handling of money. When we were through I said how much and she said, “Pay me what it was worth to you.” What? I was shocked. But she had degrees in economics and had been genuinely helpful to me, and she sounded serious. So I had to think, on the spot, about what it was actually worth. I wrote her a check for what it was worth to me. The experience was empowering. I realized the world wouldn’t fall apart if we picked our own price, and that there’s no shame in talking about what something is actually worth to you. I realized that we could trust each other make a rational exchange. And I continued to benefit from her services and expertise.

Now I’m putting that lesson into practice. So if you would like to come but have hesitated because the price wasn’t right for you, pick a price that’s right for you.

Email me at cary@carytennis.com and suggest a price you can pay. The best offers will get rooms and we’ll all have a fantastic four days writing and doing workshops with me and with Pat Schneider.

Simple as that. Let me know. And if it’s not right for you but might be good for a friend, just forward this to a friend! Or tweet it, or retweet it, or Facebook it, using the buttons on this page, or however you share things that interest you and make sense for the world.
Best
Cary T.

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Increase your creativity. Contact rich memories. Write with greater ease. Meet creative people.

 

Register Today - Hand Drawn Blue

Come to Guest House Retreat and Conference Center in Chester, Connecticut, May 16 through 19, 2014, for four days writing, thinking, talking and exploring new inner territory in a safe and supportive environment.

I’ll be there, along with Amherst Writers and Artists founder Pat Schneider, offering daily Amherst Writers and Artists workshops in the beautiful Connecticut countryside.

For info, email cary@carytennis.com or call 415 308-5685.

 

And who am I?

CarySmallerMy name is Cary Tennis and I’m a veteran writer and musician lucky enough to have found a writing workshop method that works wonders with writers of all levels of experience and ambition. For 12 years I wrote the “Since You Asked” advice column for Salon.com, and became attuned to the many obstacles creative people face, both emotional and philosophical. And I learned a good bit about my own process and quirks. I’ve been leading Amherst Writers and Artists workshops and retreats on the West Coast and around the world since 2007 but this will be my first workshop in Connecticut. Whether you are acquainted with the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method or not, I look forward to sharing with you its powerful benefits. I use the method as spelled out in Pat Schneider’s book Writing Alone and With Others, but of course I bring to it my particular learning and style. I trust that whether you are acquainted with the method or are doing it for the first time, you will find something useful and lasting in the experience.

 

Why Connecticut? Why Guest House?

My wife, Norma, and I looked long and hard before settling on Guest House. It’s a beautiful, secluded gem of a retreat and conference center on the Connecticut River, halfway between New York and Boston. We thought, not being from the Northeast, that it would be good to make it available to both metropolitan areas. And we liked its mission statement: “To create opportunities for transformational work, and to provide a nurturing environment for people seeking to develop human potential and enrich the world.” Plus:

  • There’s a grand piano in the lobby!

    “Cary Tennis has it all,” says Amherst Writers and Artists founder Pat Schneider. “He’s funny, he’s kind, he’s smart he’s brave, and he’s very, very wise.”

  • Nearby salt-water swimming!
  • Miles of hiking trails!

 

Register Today - Hand Drawn Blue

 

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Thanks to Amherst Writers and Artists Folks in the Northeast!

A super-big thanks! to all the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop leaders, friends and fans who have spread the word about our upcoming four-day AWA workshop/retreat at the Guest House in Chester, Connecticut! (And if you know somebody who might like to know, please feel free to pass this along.)

Big thanks go to Jan Nielsen of the  Universalist Church in West Hartford, Ct., Patricia Bender of Rutgers University, author, teacher and workshop leader Annecy Baez, author and teacher Grace Farrell who can be found at the Carolina Fiber and Fiction Center, and Beth Goren, practitioner of Body-Mind Centering, and Marcia Gomes, and Maureen Ciara, and Jill Quist, and  Robert Haydon Jones, and the Westport Writers’ Workshop and Valerie Ann Leff.

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And a special thanks to Patricia Chaffee for alerting Connecticut writer Sherri Daley of Moffly Media, whose May 1 roundup will highlight not just my Chester retreat but Sandi Shelton’s “Words at Play” workshops, Lisa Saunders and the Mystic Writers Colony,  and mystery writer Roberta Isleib’s Seascape “Escape to Write” Writers Retreat taking place at the Guest House in September. And of course Pat Schneider, Maureen Buchanan Jones and all those who make Amherst Writers and Artists the amazing organization that it is today. You are all making my upcoming visit to Connecticut a special treat!

Did I leave anyone out? If so, contact me. Just wanted to say thanks. With your help this thing will come off and we’ll be able to come back in 2015.–CT

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Cary on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence
Cary on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Cary Tennis

415 308-5685

www.carytennis.com

https://www.facebook.com/cary.tennis

 

Annie Valentine Card 1993

Acclamations, accolades, encomiums, commendations, panegyrics and nice things people say

Even from as far away as Australia, I could feel the relaxed, open atmosphere he created among us and found it surprisingly easy to get writing.

Alice Allan, Melbourne, Australia

I was writing descriptions without events, like jokes without punch-lines. The workshops led me to try more active, engaging and complex storytelling. I gave up some fixed ideas about what kinds of writing I do and what kinds of writing are worth doing. After a while a novel erupted.

Anonymous

I avoid workshops because of the damage they can do to writers. Cary’s workshops are nothing but helpful, quietly and subtly leading writers to do their best in an open and welcoming environment.

Randy Osborne, Author of Big Pinch World, Made of This, and a forthcoming memoir

It was a cozy place with all of us talking across borders. I felt charged, and my imagination took me to various lands. I could be myself.  I had thought I was a certain kind of a writer and then suddenly I wrote about a Pterodactyl and I was like “Whoa… who wrote that?”

 — Geetanjali Dighe, Mumbai

I hadn’t done any real creative writing in years. If only I could find a workshop where my writing wouldn’t get ripped to shreds and I wouldn’t feel like a loser idiot. Cary’s approach is flexible and supportive. The prompts take the work in interesting and unexpected directions.

Lorri Leon, Pacifica, California

Nobody waits with a red pencil, nobody judges. The comments are limited to what rings true, what strikes your imagination. After a while I noticed I was writing to feel that ring of truth for myself.

Leslie Ingham, Palo Alto

We write together. We’re all in the same boat. Now I’m a writer, because here I am, writing. I wouldn’t take a class from anyone else.  I wouldn’t let anyone else see inside my head.

Judy Evans, Los Angeles

The rules protect the often fragile and sensitive nature of writing.  Cary is the ultimate host and leader. I’ve been in writing workshops for over twenty years. This one, by far, is the best. Norma almost always bakes amazing snacks, and the dogs provide a little levity. I would urge anyone to attend a series of these workshops and feel your soul begin to expand.

Julia Penrose, Half Moon Bay, California

The structure is creative and supportive; I like it so much that I’ve been back every week. Writing is part of my life now. I look forward to those two hours of group writing each week, both to spark my own creativity and to hear the amazing things others write.

 — Molly Mudick, Phoenix, Arizona

We write in warm surrounds of vibrant voices from far away places in an intimate cyber-circle. We write of things, ideas and stories that lure and propel. Cary guides us to ways of knowing each other and remembering ourselves. It’s where I breathe deeply and write.

Treva Stose, Annapolis, Maryland

“A writer is someone who writes.” Hearing that line every week and reading my writing aloud, without fear, made it come true. I write. I am a writer. I want to be a surfer… A surfer is someone who surfs. I’ve been surfing since May 2010. I dance harder and smile while I’m moving and twisting my body, because that is what dancers do. I am a dancer. I took pieces of wood from the basement and painted them and hung them on a fence. It’s my gallery. Open studio is tonight. Or tomorrow. Or whenever anyone passes by. … I am an artist.

— Shannon Weber, San Francisco

Links for Writers–Books, Blogs, Lists, Etc.

Here are some of the links I mentioned in the Santa Barbara Novel Mentor workshop in February 2013, about dialog, pitches, queries and beginnings of novels.

dialog

Writing Dialog by Tom Chiarella. I lent this book to somebody and have to get it back. It’s a good book. Useful. Interesting.

“Are we still doing the dishes?” This is the page I took that dialog exercise from that we did in the workshop together. I suspect that it’s something Mr. Butler might use on occasion, as it’s on the FSU site. I liked doing that. I liked the suppressed tension that many of our writings had. And then if you recall I thought, now let’s raise the stakes, and so suggested that we write a dialog between two characters, one of whom asks the other, “What do you want more than anything else in the world … and what are you not willing to do to get it?” That last bit, expressed in the negative, is hard to grasp at first but it’s basically saying, “Would you stop at nothing?”

12 Exercises for improving dialog by John Hewitt. Some of these are pretty good. You can’t go wrong trying things out. The more you do, the more you learn.

And how can you go wrong with dialog advice from Stephen J. Cannell, right?

pitches

Here is former agent Nathan Bransford on the one-sentence pitch.

This from writer Hilari Bell on writing a pitch I find useful because it takes us through several iterations of a hypothetical pitch.

Now, of course, this is all in addition to all the things that Michael Neff has to say and all the resources that are on the Algonkian site.

queries

I thought this query letter madlib idea from Nathan Bransford was funny. And it could be useful. As long as what you build on it sounds reasonably like it was written by a human.

openings

I love this long list of novel openings, as well as these 5 ways it can go wrong, both from DarcyPattison.com. Forgive me if I didn’t really know who Darcy Pattison was … I’m not your ideal student of contemporary fiction.

I guess it couldn’t hurt to read this list from the American Book Review of 100 best opening lines, but somehow it leave me flat. I think because there’s no analysis. We don’t really know if those are the best opening lines or they just happen to be the opening lines of some really great novels. Worth thinking about: Would they be in there if the novels that came after them sucked? For instance a couple of them might stop an agent cold. Like No. 65, “You better not never tell nobody but God,” from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (1982). Or Saul Bellow’s No. 69, “If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.” If it wasn’t a famous and great novel by a famous and great novelist, would it get recommended as a great first line? I dunno. I’m just saying. Saul Bellow, Herzog (1964). And there are among them, of course, lines I like a whole lot, like: 67. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. —Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963) and 75. In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. —Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929). And here is an appropriately doubting and irreverent take on those same 100 first lines.

OK, so that’s it for now. I just promised at the Santa Barbara conference that I’d get back to you on those links and stuff. You could look forever on the Web for such stuff. I’m not saying all of it is great. I also have some favorite books about writing. Maybe I’ll put some of that together too.

Best

Cary T.

 

 

 

Cary and Norma in Cortona

Tuscan memories

Cary’s first-ever Tuscan writing retreat went better than we could ever have imagined. First of all, we’d like to thank all of our participants who travelled from all over the world to attend. After years of putting on writing retreats, we’ve noticed that those who participate in Cary’s events are a very special breed: talented, creative, intelligent, adventurous, fun-loving and kind are the qualities that immediately come to mind. Without such a wonderful, open-hearted group of people, our retreat wouldn’t have been half the success it turned out to be.
In addition to many productive writing workshops, there were wonderful hours composing and enjoying delicious pot-luck meals, fascinating and amusing conversations by the pool, amazing local food discoveries and adventurous treks to Cortona,

View beyone Pari's city wall.
View beyone Pari’s city wall.

Florence, Siena and Beyond (“Beyond” being the obscure and utterly charming medieval town of Pari to which our good friend,

Linda, introduced a small group of us).
After Tuscany we made our way to Amsterdam where we stayed at the ultra-modern, state-of-the-art Citizen M hotel and put on a two-day writing workshop at the American Book Center‘s Treehouse. I was amazed by how many non-Americans attended this event. I was most impressed by our German, French and Dutch attendees who chose to write in English rather than their native languages, which, no doubt, added a layer of challenge.
Both the Amsterdam and Tuscany workshops turned out to be so successful that we are indeed planning on doing this again next year. Stay tuned for more information!

On a quiet Cortona street
On a quiet Cortona street
In Florence
In Florence
An areal of our lunch after our writing workshop in Amsterdam
An areal of our lunch after our writing workshop in Amsterdam
Cary on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence
Cary on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence