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Durham, NC 27701

Writing Workshops & Retreats - France, Italy, North Carolina

What People Say About Writeaways



Writeaway in France

If this isn’t every writer’s dream, it should be! Just this week away from the world, dedicated to honing the craft with a congenial little gang of fellow writers would be enough. But chasing the muse through the gardens and vineyards of an honest-to-god chateau? A French chef who nightly exhausts our superlatives? Incroyable! John & Mimi are tireless in their full-time attention to our needs, literary and otherwise. They nudge and encourage and challenge and inspire—and frankly, spoil us rotten! Mille mercis!
— Florence, Durham, North Carolina
I came to this Writeaway as a respite from a life of noise and demands—which I love, but from which I needed a break. The chateau and its history, and especially the manner in which it wears its time, provide the grand setting to listen to the writer I have always known to be within me. As I wrote on, I could not hide behind my daily routine and responsibilities to “excuse” myself from the need to face my fears. and—write. Everything about the week conspired to clear the air for the writing process, from our hosts’ attention to detail to the immaculate dinners. This experience, being the first of my endeavors as a writer, will remain a milestone in the development of my voice.
— Cris, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
I needed to find a place where I could focus on my writing without distractions. I walked past a table at AWP and got seduced. All this wonderful food, all the wine I could drink. It was wonderful. I thought, yes, that’s exactly what I need to reconnect with my project. Mimi and John were fabulous with their feedback. Coming from an MFA background and environment, the way they run their workshops was so supportive and encouraging. It really got me excited about getting my project where I want it to be. And the food – c’est magnifique! This was definitely the experience I had hoped for.
— Jean, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Being a scientist, I really had no writing training. I always wanted to learn how to be a creative writer. I went back to an idea I had 20 years ago about writing a children’s book that also taught science. I thought I might end up with one page, but I ended up with 14 pages. I surprised myself! Now I feel like I can continue my story. I feel like I know what the process, which I didn’t know before. I loved being in a castle. It was a personal retreat from the real world in a fairytale land of living in a castle and being a writer.
— Shelley, Raleigh, North Carolina
My experience here at the chateau has been on so many levels. First, the cherished opportunity to work and write with a group and instructors who have like interests. Second, the place…the incredible place—the chateau, the surrounding countryside and the French people (who, by the way, are very friendly)! And third, it has been a journey of discovery for me. I have learned so much about myself as a writer—learning how to take a beautiful spot like this French chateau and create characters that I would have never written about before—also, working on a part of my writing that I felt needs work—being more descriptive of characters and surroundings. And, after a week, I can see a good deal of improvement. Lastly, I cannot fail to mention the food. Ah, the food! Our chef, Anne, is a culinary marvel. Every night, delicious four-course meals. C’est magnifique!
— David, Kerrville, Texas
I’m shocked and surprised at how confident I suddenly feel as a writer.
— Heather, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
A few of my favorite things about Writeaways: No matter the composition of the group of writers, they are always supportive, eager to help even a novice writer, and bring out the best in each other’s writing. The chateau grounds are beautiful, the chateau old and quirky, but charming. It is possible to feel at peace, isolated from the cares of daily life. Did I mention that the chef is extraordinary?
— Ginny, Raleigh, North Carolina
What do you get when you add a lovely 15th century French chateau, the Loire Valley, fabulous wine, even more fabulous food lovingly prepared, to personalized, friendly writing instruction and guidance by two published authors? A Writeaway.
— Joyce, Dallas, Texas
Where can I begin to thank you for this wonderful week? Thank you for encouraging me to take on this project. It is probably one of the most important things I will do in my life. Wow! That makes it pretty powerful. And you facilitated that! I admire your ability to cut to what’s most important and so quickly. You barely know me yet you figured out what I needed to hear. Sounds grandiose, but I do believe this week has been life-changing for me. What more can I say? You are so full of enthusiasm for life and of course for writing.
— Linda, Gillette, Wyoming
The chateau itself, the grounds, the food – all wonderful. And to top off all that, you two are such good teachers, knowledgeable, smart, funny, incisive, and patient. Oh – hardworking, dedicated, talented. Thank you.
— Candace, Victoria, British Columbia
Your humor and leadership were much appreciated. I know the work that went into planning this event – and we all felt such growth, thanks to your careful attention to detail.
— Kim, Gillette, Wyoming
A wonderful week that really challenged me as a writer. I love the individual instruction that is always available to us. You two are the perfect hosts, always checking that we have what we need. And, of course, the food was excellent. Thank you for a great experience.
— Mary, Wellesley, Massachusetts

Writeaway in Italy

Thanks to Writeaways. I wrote almost 5,000 words this week, including my first short story draft in six years. I wanted to come here and work with people who were serious about writing and legitimate in their writing, and honest and constructive and respectful about criticism and unflinching as well. I got all of that and more. What John and Mimi have done in the past week is taken a small group and in a short time made a community. I’ll definitely be back.
— Gayle, Singapore
Having been out of school for over two decades, my true learning neurons (more than two, I hope) needed some warming up. You gave me the confidence and right amount of push to dive in.

I intended to come and soak in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of the Tuscan countryside. With your help, I found all that and the world I created with my own writing – a world previously locked behind synaptic walls.

You taught me how to ask the right questions to get the right details to engage my reader. Your voices now naturally fill my head. Every word is much more intentional – my words do more than fill space on a page.

Grazie for your expertise, your keen listening, your thoughtful feedback, your ability to guide my words to a place they can flourish. You’ve awakened a writer in me.
— Alli, Richmond, Virginia
Abiquiu House.jpg

Writeaway in New Mexico

In one’s lifetime, there will be very few genuinely transformational weeks. For me, Writeaway was that treasured week! Mimi and John created a magical environment for quiet solitude, writing with support and wonderings in addition to powerful individual professional feedback. A writer’s dream. It certainly was mine.
— Joan, Raleigh, NC
Our Writeaway in New Mexico was as rigorous as—but far more fun than—a week of college writing courses. The group was phenomenal and deeply engaged in each other’s work. Mimi and John are keen, uncompromising teachers and editors, always asking the perfect “what ifs” at the exact right moment. And the food—gourmet dinners of gorgeousness, full of wine + laughter + creative camaraderie. What a pure gift of a week. I’m leaving here with an entirely new toolbox, not just a few new tricks, and an extended writing family. Leaving today is bittersweet, but I have a feeling many of us will find our way back to NM again.
— Jenn, Minneapolis, MN
I came to Writeaways because it had intrigued me, and then the Abiquiú location dovetailed with a longtime dream of writing in northern New Mexico. I had met John in a writing workshop “a few” years ago and knew him to be a master of story who sees possibility in story arc and character relationships as well as identifying plot holes, red herrings and pitfalls you might not have seen yet. He also is a finesser of word choice. It’s been a joy to finally meet Mimi and live for a week in the presence of her artistic spirit, which expresses itself in teaching, mentoring, writing, cooking, baking and the most gracious happy hours and dinners. She models a life of gracious, simple, grounded creativity in everything.
— Lee Ann, Cupertino, CA
This would be amazing at any stage of a book or writing project, but it was especially useful to help brainstorm revisions in a late-stage draft of a novel.
— Clare, Durham, NC