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I just got CJ Hauser’s book, The From-Aways, and I already love it!

I just got CJ Hauser's book, The From-Aways, and I already love it!

It’s my badass, literary summer beach-read and it’s so good! The first line: “I have two lobsters in my bathtub and I’m not sure I can kill them.” And it just gets better. To celebrate, I’m wearing mermaid green sparkly Stila eye-shadow and my floppy sun hat from the CWW Yoga & Writing Retreat’s trip to the Clignancourt Flea Market in Paris (which makes me think of ‘Klingon Court,’ a court for Klingons, every time). Y’all gotta read this book. Click on the pic to purchase via Amazon

Here’s this summer’s retreat link– apply by June 15th! https://cww.submittable.com/submit/26081

Surya Namaskar for writers with Elissa Joi Lewis of The Cambridge Writer’s Workshop Yoga & Writing Retreat in Verderonne, France

Surya Namaskar, The Sun Salutation, is a series or flow of asana (yoga poses) that energizes, builds strength, and increases flexibility. This flow is particularly good for the legs, back, and wrists–areas of the body that suffer from staying hunched over in the writing cave and feverishly typing. I also find that just five rounds or so of Surya Namaskar makes me feel like I’ve actually done something– I feel stretched and worked, and there’s a eat or energy that rises in my body from my feet to the crown of my head. The symbolic and literal salute to the sun feels like an ode to and a channel for solar energy, representing action, manifestation, and direction. That’s a nice way to shake off writer’s fatigue  and shake-up your writerly, academic (sedentary) lifestyle.

Yoga teacher Elissa Joi Lewis practices a variation of Surya Namaskar in the video above, at The Cambridge Writer’s Workshop Yoga and Writing Retreat in Verderonne, France. Practicing yoga twice a day with Elissa blossomed my writing practice and my yoga practice– by using the ritual of meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), and asana, artists can approach their art with the same yogic reverence and mindfulness. And Elissa knows so much about meditation, breathwork, Sanskrit, and the physiological, energetic, and emotional benefits from the postures that we all ended up asking her for personal yoga-advice which she very generously gave. This year I’ll be teaching a Fiction workshop at the retreat (here’s the back-story plus pictures of last year’s retreat!). If you find that your yoga and writing practices support each other and you want to go deeper in the gorgeous French countryside, apply here. The deadline is May 15th.

Quail Bell Magazine’s Good Advertising for The Cambridge Writer’s Workshop Yoga & Writing Retreat

Clearly, I’m getting really excited. Make sure to check out Elissa’s page for more Yoga! http://elissajoilewis.com

Manifest destiny/shameless begging really works; or, I prayed to Maria Bamford, patron saint of lady writers, and she delivered

All hail “The Bammer” and her seraphic entourage of pugs, maker of dreams and angel of satire!Image

Saint Bamford & pug seraphs

If you remember my post back in December in which I made my first invocation of Saint Maria “The Bammer” Bamford and asked her to grant my manifest destiny magic wish to return to Europe and research my novel some more this summer, then congratulations and thank you, you’re one of 5 or so people who reads this and gives a flying bat shit about what I write here. (5 might even be too optimistic.) If you don’t remember but you’re still reading anyway, thank you too! Miracles do happen.

 

I’ve been waiting to write this so that I could figure out what I want to say, how can I eloquently thank the All Mighty Bammer for her inspiring and guiding light that has led me to my destiny, but I’ve delayed long enough and I’m not any wittier than before so I’m just going for it. You see, after I posted my tongue-in-cheek shameless begging for someone out there to help me get to Europe, it happened. Last year I wet on a fantastic Yoga & Writing Retreat in Verderonne, France, led by The Cambridge Writers Workshop, and it was art-changing. I learned so much, I wrote so much, I was in France, my novel is set in France, I swam in a moat, I did yoga in a garden on the chateau grounds… it was a good thing. I also spent all my money going there so it was a once-in-a-decade-or-two opportunity. But little did I know that the directors were reading my plaintive wails! They got in touch and were like, “Yo girl, you want to teach Fiction on the next retreat? Would that help?” And I was like, “Um. Yes. That’s helps a lot.” Except I was jumping up and down and screaming.

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Yoga in the garden beside the moat with wonder woman yoga teacher Elissa Lewis, photo by Rita Banerjee

So now, all I want is for wonderful people to come and do this with us. I’ll be teaching a workshop on novel-writing, the fabulous Elissa will be teaching yoga twice a day as well as an art workshop (she’s a marvelous artist too), and the fantastic Cambridge Writers Workshop co-founders and co-directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai are both wonderful poets, scholars, and fiction writers, will be teaching workshops on their specialties. It’s going to be magnificent.

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Getting some writing done in our private courtyard. Photo by Rita

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Getting some writing done in Paris– I was doing a character exercise on the lady behind me. Photo by Rita

There are optional field trips to Paris, Chantilly, and Versailles as well, so there’s time for work and time for adventures. In Paris, we’ll probably stop in at Spoken Word Paris for a reading.

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Spoken Word Paris, photo by Rita Banerjee

There will also be quite a bit of eating homemade delicious French food, and even though I was raw vegan at the time (I fell off the wagon since, getting back on the wagon, slowly) the spectacular chef Joelle not only accommodated me but ended up trying it herself! She is so kind, and much of the food is organically grown right there on the grounds. She even makes her own yogurt!

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With a gorgeous salad. Photo by Rita

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The dinner table. Photo by Rita

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Joelle feeding chickens. Photo by Rita

Here are the details:

Location: Château de Verderonne,
Picardy, France
Dates: August 7, 2014 – August 20, 2014
Application Deadline: May 15, 2014
Apply: cww.submittable.com

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Annual Yoga & Writing Retreat will be held from August 7 -20, 2014 at the Château de Verderonne in Picardy, France, located approximately 50 miles north of Paris. The conference features workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as craft of writing seminars, art classes, free time to write, and daily yoga and meditation classes.  Writers of all genres and levels are welcome. Yoga practitioners of all levels are also welcomed (we have experience adapting the yoga sequences to meet the level of beginner-advanced participants).  Participants are encouraged, but not required, to bring their own long-term projects to work on.  Whether writers are beginners or advanced, CWW workshops have a history of success in generating new writing.

Optional excursions to Paris and Chantilly are also available to participants.  The faculty includes Rita Banerjee, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Jessica Reidy, and Elissa Lewis. The cost of the conference is $3,200, which includes lodging, meals, writing workshops, yoga classes and transportation to and from the airport.

So, I hope you, dear reader, apply for the retreat. I’m so excited to be there. Praise the Bammer!

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Helpful links:

More info: http://cambridgewritersworkshop.org/retreats-2/

To apply: https://cww.submittable.com/submit

The Tumblr for the last retreat: http://cambridgewritersworkshop.tumblr.com/post/56372789267/day-1-france-cww-2013-writing-yoga-retreat-in

My Yelp Review: http://www.yelp.com/biz/cambridge-writers-workshop-brooklyn

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Many hats with Rita & Elissa

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All of us in Versailles. From left going clockwise: Tiffanie, Norma, Elissa, me, Rita, and Kareema. I felt so lucky to work with such brilliant and delightfully kind women!