December 16, 2012

Christmas in Paris

A Little Holiday Sparkle . . .
Photo by Mike Savin
It's that time of year when the City of Light starts to really sparkle, from Galeries Lafayette and Printemps to the Grande Roue at Concord to the pulsing lights and Christmas Fair on the Champs Elysées. Every neighborhood has its own festive touch.

The Holiday Sparklers by Meredith Mullins
Photography instructor Meredith Mullins and a merry band of intrepid WICE photographers went in search of holiday sparkle, cameras in hand and furry hats on head (yes, it was cold ... but, good news, it wasn't raining). The results: some beautiful (and original) images of the holiday season.

After the expedition (and after the vin chaud wore off), the photographers submitted their favorite photos for the Holiday Sparkle competition, juried by visiting luminary Jerry Fielder (Curator and Director of the Yousuf Karsh Estate).

Holiday Sparkle Award Winning Photo by Anna Hobbs

Congratulations to Anna Hobbs, who was awarded the Holiday Sparkle prize for her stolen moment at the Chanel perfume display in Galeries Lafayette. (Once you look past the omnipresent Brad Pitt, a story begins to unfold.)

Holiday Sparkle 2nd Place Award by Pamela Spurdon

Et chapeau to 2nd Place Award Winner Pamela Spurdon for her original view of a small segment of the Galeries Lafayette display window. (Yes, frogs legs are still a treasure in France.)

Enjoy all the festivities of the season.

Happy Holidays from all of us at WICE.

Photo by Duane Edwards

Photo by Pamela Fickes-Miller

Photo by Lynn Segal

Award Winner Anna Hobbs 

December 10, 2012

An insider's view of WICE's Write-In course

Kate Kemp-Griffin’s Write-In course brings together people who share a passion for writing and the burning desire to put their stories on paper.  For ten sessions, two hours were spent writing, aimed at completing individual goals.  As motivation, several published writers such as Stephen Clarke, Jami Bernard, and Adrian Leeds joined these sessions to share their journeys of getting their books published. 
It can be hard to stay motivated when writing alone because the feeling of isolation often leads to discouragement.   Working alongside other writers brings a sense of belonging and confidence that inspires everyone to work harder.  
After having already taken traditional writing courses, I signed up for Write-In to finish my book.  I no longer wanted opinions and suggestions, just increasing word counts.  This is an elusive goal, when trying to write in a distraction filled home.     

Kate Kemp-Griffin and Jami Bernard

photo by Veronica Kugler

In the first session after a brief introduction, Kate simply told us to start writing.    Hmm… no texting, phone calls, internet, or family to send me off course.  How many times in the past have these distractions stolen precious time and prevented me from writing? 
Quickly, the words flowed from my mind to my fingertips, for I had come to class prepared with many ideas.  As I typed I realized that I had complete freedom to write whatever I wanted because I did not have to share it. The point of this class is to stay busy writing your own work.  Not reading and critiquing. 
To my surprise, I found that the collective flow of everyone’s ideas being transformed into words was contagious.  So I typed furiously and ended up plunking out 2,000 words.  At the end of the session Kate looked at me and exclaimed, “What on earth!” 
Apparently through the silence of the small classroom, everyone had heard me typing like crazy.  Unwittingly, I had set the bar high for myself. They were going to expect me to type like this every time.   Daydreaming would never be an option because my classmates would immediately know by the silence of my keyboard.   
For the next class, I thought about coming with only a pad of paper and pen, but I figured with the ultra silent classroom, my classmates could probably discern the difference between coherent sentences and doodled tic-tac-toe games played against myself.    Instead, I stuck with my loud laptop, actually using this peer pressure as an added motivating factor to keep me writing.  [Nevertheless - Christmas wish list: discreet 11” ultrabook with silent keys.]
WICE Stephen Clarke author
Stephen Clarke
Photo courtesy of Kate Kemp-Griffin
As previously mentioned, an accomplished writer often joined us to talk about their writing and answer our questions.     Through these talks we learned that each writer’s journey to publication was vastly different from one another.  There is no cookie-cutter model to become a published writer.  Sometimes after speaking, the authors would stay and work on their own writing.   This inspired us even more knowing that we were all just doing the same thing –following our dreams.      
Regardless if you’re working on a book, or are just getting started and haven’t yet figured out what you want to write, the benefits of this class are three-fold:  1) a safe environment to make progress towards your writing goals, 2) new friendships with fascinating people who share your passion and inspire you, and 3) an intimate and unique opportunity to talk to published writers. 
If you’re still not convinced, think about this:  2,000 words x 10 sessions.  20,000 words. 
You could write a third of your book at WICE’s Write-In!
Come and join us:  registration is currently open for the next course Write-In (WJ071) starting in January 2013.
Post by Veronica Kugler

December 3, 2012

Salvador Dali exhibit opens at the Centre Georges Pompidou

One of Paris' most anticipated exhibitions of the season has arrived! The biggest retrospective Salvador Dali exhibition in over 30 years is now open at the Georges Pompidou Centre (metro Rambuteau) - and it's every minute worth the 90 minute queue. Open now until March 25th, 2013, the exhibition showcases a collection of over 200 familiar and unfamiliar paintings, sketches, objects, installations and films produced between 1920-1980 by the Spanish born Surrealist, Salvador Dali (1904-1989).
The exhibition is the largest showcase of his work since the last retrospective at the Pompidou in 1979 (the most visited exhibition in the museum’s history to date).
Laid out in chronological-thematic sections, the visitor enters through a large white oval where an image of Dali in the fetal position inside an egg is projected onto the wall (1941 photo taken by Philippe Halsman).
 Other installations include a reconstruction of “Mae West's Face Which May be Used as an Apartment” with it's iconic lip shaped sofa, which are also present inside the exhibitions' small theater where a series of Dali's films are shown on rotation, including Un Chien Andalou (1929).
The exhibition charts Dali's artistic process beginning with some of his earliest self-portraits in his hometown of Figueres, to surrealism and the development of his paranoiac-critical method. The assortment of Dali fan favorites including “The Persistence of Memory” (1931), “The Great Masturbator” (1929) and “The Metamorphosis of Narcissus” (1937 ) along with a number of mass media recognizable objects such as his famed “Lobster Telephone” (1936) fill the walls of the exhibition, providing for a truly incredible retrospective.

Having little familiarity with how grand the scope of his work is, the exhibition (in true retrospective character) devotes much space to Dali's themes and connections to politics and the media of his age. Often critiqued for his political views and communist associations, the exhibition showcases some his political fascinations including those paintings such as “Six apparitions of Lenin on a Piano” (1931) and “The Enigma of Hitler” (1939). Nearing the end of the exhibition, advertisements he starred in are played (which he received wide criticism and disapproval from his artistic community) including his 1968 appearance in a Lanvin Chocolate commercial.
Whether or not you are familiar with the works of Dali or the Surrealist style, I full heartedly recommend a visit to the Pompidou to check out this blockbuster of an exhibition- there is something for everyone to enjoy!
The exhibition is open every day from 11:00- 21:00 at the Georges Pompidou Centre except on Tuesdays. Exceptionally for the Dali exhibition, it will be open at night until 23h Fridays and Saturdays (last entry at 22h).
Metro Rambuteau (Line 11)
Regular Entry € 13
Reduced Entry € 10

Post and Photos by Ellie Somers 

November 27, 2012

WICE World Watch - The Nine Lives of the Euro

19h30  Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at the American Library in Paris 
Lately all of the buzz is about Eurozone debt crisis and how the member countries are struggling to reverse this downward trend.  But what exactly is the euro debt crisis?  What is its effect on the world economy and how does it impact your life? 

WICE World Watch presents Philippe d’Arvisenet, BNP Paribas Chief Economist, James Hertling from Bloomberg News, and Martin Roesch from Deutsche Bundesbank and the German Embassy as the expert speakers to answer your burning questions about the future of the euro.
Join us at 19h30 on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at the American Library, as the three panel speakers discuss how and why the euro has survived thus far and also their views on what it will take to strengthen the euro and secure its future for all of the Eurozone members. 
This free event is open to everyone, including WICE members and non-members.  Registration is not required. 

For more information about this event, check out the following link:
American Library in Paris - WICE World Watch event

For more information about all of WICE World Watch events, check out this link:
WICE World Watch events

October 7, 2012

Paris Meet-Ups

A WICE Magical Mystery Tour

Bassin de la Villette (Petra Nass)
WICE offers a range of educational and social activities, and also likes to host get togethers of anglophone adventurers—folks who want to discover the less traveled paths of Paris.

The first WICE Magical Mystery tour was just such an adventure ... the spirited flaneurs headed to the 19th and 20th arrondissements for an 8.2 km walk that included parks, fountains, history, camaraderie, and good exercise!

Fontaine, Parc de la Butte du Chapeau Rouge by Dan Smith 
The journey started at the Jaurès metro station and continued along the Bassin de la Villette and the Canal d'Ourcq, then through the Parc de la Villette, the Parc de la Butte du Chapeau-Rouge, the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, and the Parc de Belleville.  Not only were parks a theme, but also fountains. The intrepid group discovered fountains dating from the First Empire (Fontaine aux Lions), throughout the 1930s (Cascade Fountain at the Parc de la Butte du Chapeau Rouge) and into the 1980s (Cascade Fountain at Parc de Belleville, a wall fountain at Jacques Ibert Municipal Conservatory, and the fountain in the Square Marcel-Mouloudji).

Photo by Dan Smith
The group also visited a series of alleyways in a tiny corner of the 20th arrondissement, lined with lovely houses and lush gardens. The houses survived demolition because they are built on quarries. The Haussmannian buildings could not be supported on such ground.

All such walks must end with a grand lunch, so the group dined at Tablier Rouge on rue de Chine to reward their well-used walking muscles.

There are more outings and social gatherings coming soon. Join cheese and wine pairings and gourmet dinners through le Foodist, a visit to Paris vu par Hollywood at the Hôtel de Ville, and a fun lunch of Japanese noodle slurping.  Click here to find out more.

Post by Claire Lo and Meredith Mullins.

October 2, 2012

Nuit Blanche 2012

The Night When No One Sleeps

Photo by Meredith Mullins
This Saturday night (October 6, 2012) is a night to roam the streets ... from sunset to dawn ... with other night owls and art lovers. It's the Paris Nuit Blanche (or white night). The poetic phrase comes from the summer celebration in Russia, when the sun barely sets. It's light all night long. A reason to celebrate after the long, dark winter.

But here in Paris, the fun begins when darkness falls ... on a slightly cooler autumn evening. There are visual and performing art events all over the city. And, you're often allowed to enter places that are usually not open to the public, such as l'Assemblée nationale, le Palais d'Iéna, la Préfecture de police, l'Hôtel de Ville, and l'université Pierre et Marie Curie.

Photo by Jeanne MacInnes
Since last year's Nuit Blanche was such a success (which meant sometimes waiting in line for two hours to see an exhibit or performance), the idea this year (the 11th Nuit Blanche) is to make the events more accessible. Many of the points of interest will be along the Seine (from d'Ivry sur Seine to Chaillot). The evening will also be featuring several places to get high (in meters) so that you can gain a new perspective on the action ... and Paris. (These exceptional belvederes include the terrasse on the 8th floor of the Cité de l'architecture, the terrasse on the 7th floor of BHV, the 9th floor of the Institut du Monde Arabe, the 15th floor of the Tour Morland, and the 24th floor of Jussieu (l'université Pierre et Marie Curie).

You can see everything from traditional exhibits, to one-night light installations, to musical performances, to spewed and twirled fire, to videos and films, to the ultimate installations ... the thousands of people wandering the streets together trying to stay up until sunrise.

Photo by Meredith Mullins
So ... download the iPhone app or the map from the site and plan your noctambule wanderings.

Or join WICE Photography Instructor Meredith Mullins for a photo walk that evening of some of the more interesting aerial views and installations (and learn something about night photography along the way). Click here for more information. (And thank you to WICE member Jeanne MacInnes for the idea!)

Bonne Nuit!

Post by Meredith Mullins

September 23, 2012

The Essence of Anglophone Community

Activities for Anglophones: WICE Open House

Taste Wine ... Admire Art
La rentrée in France is a time to reconvene with friends after exciting summer adventures or the empty quiet (almost!) of Paris in August. WICE celebrates this return to lively activity with its annual Open House each year.

Join us on Tuesday, September 25 from 2–6 pm. The WICE community (members, instructors, volunteers), friends of WICE, and those new to Paris (or to WICE) will rendez-vous at the American Church for all kinds of fun. Be our guest for the student art exhibit, silent auction, conversation groups (French and English), painting and embroidery demonstrations, photo fun with costumes, test of your language skills, and wine tasting—all free for our guests. Meet new friends and enjoy an afternoon of refreshments and learning.

Pick up New Recipes ... and Taste
You can also find out more about the WICE autumn course schedule, filled with our popular cooking, wine tasting, perfume, and photography courses, as well as new classes in film, printmaking, fashion, acting, travel writing, visits to the Hotel de Ville and the Sorbonne, science fiction writing, jewelry making, drawing, arrondissement walks, sculpting with wire and paper, flash fiction, and special Expat survival courses. Something for everyone. Fun ... and lifelong learning.

See you on Tuesday. Bring family and friends. It's a rentrée fête!

American Church
65 Quai d'Orsay 75007

RER: Pont de l'Alma
63 Bus
Metro: Invalides

Photos and Post by Meredith Mullins 

September 12, 2012

Catch a Quetsche Plum ... If You Can

Photo at the Rungis Market by Françoise Meunier
The lovely quetsche plum is usually in season in late August and September. They can be eaten raw or cooked in tartes and compotes. They can also be used to make jam or plum alcohol. The quetsche is most widely grown in the northeast of France, but like the Mirabelle plum, it can be grown all over France.

We're at the tail end of the season now, but it's worth the effort to track down these interesting members of the plum family.

A trip to Jeanette's mother-in-law's house?
Jeanette Dardel, our wine tasting director (and sometimes cooking class helper), and WICE's fearless cooking instructor, Françoise Deberdt-Meunier, are both loyal fans. Jeanette watched her French mother-in-law whip up a simple dessert, by arranging quetsche plum halves in a pastry-lined tarte tin and putting a sugar cube on top of each plum half (bake at 180 C for 40 minutes). And Françoise provides the (also easy) recipe below.

Bon appétit!

Quetsche compote with cinnamon and red wine
Recipe for 4/ cooking time 10 minutes
600 grams quetsches
6 tablespoons red wine

Wash the quetsches and cut them in half. Remove the pit and place them in a saucepan. Add ½ stick cinnamon (crushed) as well as ¼ teaspoon powdered cinnamon. Add the red wine and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to low. Cook 10 minutes. Remove the lid and pour into a compote pot and serve warm or chilled, accompanied by a cookie. Quetsches are sweet enough to not require any added sugar. For children, replace the wine with 2 tablespoons water!

This dessert can be served in individual compote pots accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
Yum, yum!

Thank you Jeanette and Françoise for this post.

Join us for the upcoming WICE cooking classes. Françoise is an amazing teacher and always has special tips that even experienced cooks find new and helpful. For more info, click here.

September 4, 2012

Fireworks of Saint-Cloud (Le Grand Feu de Saint-Cloud)

Photo by Meredith Mullins
If you missed the Quatorze Juillet (Bastille Day) fireworks, don't despair. Yes, they were beautiful— especially accompanied by a Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (Bee Gees forever!) and reflected in the swirling disco ball hanging from the Tour Eiffel. And who can resist sharing the evening with so many thousands of folks celebrating freedom on the Champs de Mars ... and then racing for the jam-packed metros so there's no long walk home?

But ... there's another, even better, chance to experience the true artistry of pyrotechnics. Every year, on the second Saturday of September, the Parc Saint-Cloud hosts the largest fireworks extravaganza in Europe. For 2012, that's THIS Saturday (September 8).

You can get tickets online through FNAC (10,000 seats ... or a spot to relax on the lawn). Prices range from 26 to 78 euros. Or become a VIP and go for the special seats, which also include champagne, open bar, and dinatoire (285 to 325 euros).

Quatorze Juillet 2012 (© Mullins)
The fireworks last nearly two hours (three times longer than Fête Nationale!) ... a symphony of light and sound like no other. An exploding sky. Shooting stars. Fluttering sparkles. Rockets red glare.  A show that truly deserves the title of spectacle. And a perfect way to welcome us all back to Paris.

For more info, click here.

Post by Meredith Mullins

August 30, 2012

La Rentrée

Rentrée Resolutions

There is no specific day on the Paris calendar when the feeling of summer ends. You just sense a change in energy.

The local boulangeries—shuttered for weeks—start baking again. The traffic noise rises in decibel. The "fermeture annuelle" signs disappear. Paris Plage palm trees get packed away. The stores feature stylish school clothes, notebooks, and pens. And the lazy, free-form days of vacation turn to thoughts of school and work and a return to a more normal day-to-day life.

The French Rentrée (return) is like New Year's. It's not just a transition, it's a new beginning.

Grand Feu d'Artifice
So ... welcome back. We hope you had a rewarding, restful, rejuvenating summer and are ready for adventure.

Take a look at some September highlights and make your rentrée resolutions. Explore and discover. Take some classes. Meet new friends. It's a "New Year" of opportunity.

  • Jazz at La Villette (August 29–September 9). Click here for more info.
  • Grand Feu d'Artifice at Parc Saint-Cloud (September 8). More info.
  • Opera en Plein Air: Aïda at the Hotel National des Invalides (September 7–16). More info.
  • A welcome soirée to celebrate WICE's new office (September 13). More info.
  • Techno Parade (September 15). More info.
  • Journée de Patrimoine (September 15–16). More info.
  • Annual WICE Open House (September 25). Conversation groups, art exhibit, silent auction, wine tasting ... plus more about the exciting fall class schedule. More info.
For more info about the fall WICE schedule of classes, click here. 

Happy Rentrée!

Post and Photos by Meredith Mullins

June 16, 2012

How to Find a Literary Agent

Like Diogenes searching for an honest man, with his lantern lifted day and night in hope, writers are often in search of the perfect literary agent—someone who believes in their work, someone who will be able to sell it to the right publisher.

The process of finding representation is often long and full of rejections. You'll probably receive varying degrees of "form letter" politeness and will get excited by a rejection that actually has a human pen mark on it.

But you can increase your chances for success by doing some homework. Find the agents that are a good match for your genre and your writing style. Learn how to write the best query letter, synopsis, and outline. Have your polished chapter (and book!) ready. Seek some referrals that you can mention to the prospective agent—published writers who will speak to the quality of your work. Seek agents who are early- or mid-career who are actively looking for new clients.

Kimberley Cameron
Another path—the first step made easier—is to meet agents at quality writers' conferences. So, we invite you to the Paris Writers' Workshop on Thursday afternoon, June 28 and meet three committed literary agents. They'll talk about what they look for in manuscripts and in writers, as well as what services they provide after you've signed the contract.

Lorella Belli
Kimberley Cameron of Kimberley Cameron and Associates (Paris and New York), Louise Greenberg of Louise Greenberg Books Ltd (UK), and Lorella Belli of the Lorella Belli Literary Agency (UK) will be discussing the role of the agent, as well as the best ways to capture an agent's attention in this highly competitive world of writing and publishing. Paul Schmidtberger, a writer who has worked with an agent and without, will moderate this information-rich panel discussion.

Louise Greenberg
There are even a few spaces left for an individual consultation, so that you can "pitch" your story (synopsis and some pages of writing). Who knows? You might be successful, as several previous members of PWW have been, in signing with one of the agencies and selling your work to a publisher.

Whatever the outcome, you'll enjoy being part of the Paris Writers' Workshop community—meeting agents and authors and talking with like-minded passionate writers. Join us!

We invite you to any of the afternoon sessions at the Paris Writers' Workshop, from June 25–28. For more information about how to register, click here.

Posted by Meredith Mullins

June 9, 2012

Creative Writing Tools

Paris Writers' Workshop
Guest Lecturer: Jami Bernard, Author and Media Consultant
By Kathryn Kemp-Griffin

I stared at my blank screen and tapped my fingers on the keyboard. I’d been asked to write a post about author and media consultant Jami Bernard, who is here from New York to lecture at the Paris Writers Workshop. I wiggled my fingers some more, spreading them like starfish. Wiggle. Starfish. Wiggle. As with a sport, writing requires warm-up sequences to optimize performance and avoid injury. My hands hovered over keyboard, ready to type 500 words a minute, which was what was required if I was going to make the deadline.

This should be easy. Jami Bernard, an internationally known former film critic who now works exclusively with writers who are struggling to finish and polish their work, has eight books published with major houses — including Penguin, HarpersCollins and Warner Books. She worked with Quentin Tarantino for the biography “Quentin Tarantino: The Man and His Movies,” and she has been on Oprah. She even got to hang out with Superman as the inspiration for Lois Lane in a comic book published by DC Comics, in which Lois is based on Jami’s early career as a reporter, editor and headline writer for The New York Post.

Wiggle. Starfish.

What is so difficult about writing about two not-to-be-missed lectures she’ll be giving during the Paris Writers Workshop? I’m the Creative Writing Program Director at WICE. I write course descriptions and promote workshops regularly, for goodness sakes !

Et voilà. The reason I couldn’t write a word.

You see, that’s not how I know Jami. I know her as a writer and from having been her student. She has also become a friend. She’s more to me than a title highlighted in bold with a list of topics to be covered. She’s more than a catchy get-people-to-come marketing blurb. She was the first person to read my very first line, and all the lines that came after that. By the end of the first chapter of the first book I was trying to write, she already knew what I didn’t. There was no story.

That’s right. No story. At least, not the way I was writing it.

Sound depressing ? Perhaps, but Jami didn’t leave me dangling over the cliff of despair and hopelessness. She held the safety line tightly while she gently coaxed, prodded, and guided me through the mess to find the story that I’d written after all (but couldn’t see). The process felt like a gentle stretch; a slight burning followed by freedom of movement.

Jami Bernard
In the lecture « How To Structure A Good Story : Beginnings, Middles and Endings, » Jami will review the basic elements of structure to help shape your story and make it come alive. You’ll learn how to recognize the « beats » to move your story forward and keep readers turning pages. Good stories don’t just happen. They need careful planning and clear direction so that they unfold exactly as they should, and in the voice in which they were meant to be told.

In the second lecture, « Secrets of Getting Published, » Jami will discuss the role of the agent, editor, and publisher; go over the elements of a perfect pitch; and reveal the ten biggest mistakes that keep writers from getting published. (Thanks to her, I’ve learned how NOT to infuriate agents and how NOT to start a chapter!) Her tips for first-time authors will help you save time and navigate your story to the right agent.  

Sign up for one or both lectures by clicking on the links below. Take the time to come and join us. Your story will thank you.

Monday, June 25 at 3:45 pm

Tuesday, June 26 at 2:00 pm

For information on all the Paris Writers' Workshop afternoon panels/lectures from June 25–28 or to sign up for a consultation with one of our visiting literary agents, please click here.

May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: Belleau Wood

The Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at Belleau Wood has a longstanding Memorial Day tradition. Thousands gather at this historic spot each year to pay tribute to the French and American military who have served in the name of freedom and to honor those who have been wounded or lost in battle (in the great wars ... and the not so great).

When looking at the rolling green hills, with a soundtrack of hundreds of serenading birds, it's hard to imagine the ferocious fighting that took place in June of 1918 (WWI) as the Germans advanced on this region about 90 km northeast of Paris near the Marne River.

The battle of Belleau Wood is famous for the bravery of the fighting forces and for the ultimate result, the retreat of the Germans. As evidenced in the American and German cemeteries, this turning point in the war came at a high price.

The woods were attacked six times by the U.S. infantry and Marines (later called devil dogs) before the Germans retreated, with heavy casualties on both sides. As one Marine is famous for saying, "Retreat, hell, we just got here." The Marines persisted and held the allied line.

The American cemetery has 2,289 graves. A nearby German cemetery has 8,630 graves. When the cemetery Belleau Wood battle monument was dedicated, these words were said:

"Now and then, a veteran ... will come here to live again the brave days of that distant June. Here will be raised the altar of patriotism; here will be renewed the vows of sacrifice and consecration to country."

The Memorial Day ceremonies are full of pomp and circumstance and silent contemplation. From the initial flyover to the laying of wreaths to the performances of the Marine Silent Drill Team and Marine Drum and Bugle Corps (this year doing a wacky rendition of "Rocky Top" with drums and xylophone and a very moving Battle Hymn of the Republic) to the moment of silence for the fallen, it is an important reminder of the devastation of war and the value of freedom.

There are ceremonies all over France for Memorial Day and for D-Day tributes. On June 6, a ceremony at Colleville-sur-Mer takes place at 10:30 am to honor the WWII veterans of the Normandy Beach invasions, as well as others who have served.

Photographs and post by Meredith Mullins as a tribute to all who serve.

May 23, 2012

Writing Children's Books

The Art and Craft of Children's Literature 
at the Paris Writers' Workshop, June 24–29, 2012

One of the most exciting genres of creative writing today is the world of children's literature. It's also one of the few arenas where the printed book is still truly appreciated. Kids love to read and to be read to. They like to turn pages. And books that hold the attention of the younger set are a hot commodity.

Do you have a children's book inside you? Many people do, especially if they remember what it's like to be a child. But how do you become successful in this field? Especially when it seems that everyone wants to write for children, including celebrities like Stephen Colbert and Julie Andrews. The upcoming Paris Writers' Workshop has invited one of the experts of Children's Literature to tell us more.

Kate McMullan
Kate McMullan has had a passion for writing for children and young adults for many years. She has written more than 100 children's books, including SCHOOL: Adventures at Harvey N. Trouble Elementary, Myth-o-Mania, The Greek Myths as told by Hades, The Dragon Slayers' Academy series, and The Pearl & Wagner books for new readers. She and her illustrator husband, Jim McMullan, have collaborated on many best-selling picture books, among them I STINK!, named one of the Ten Best Picture Books of the Year by The New York Times, I'M DIRTY, I'M BAD, and, most recently, I'M FAST.

She offers a few creative tips to get you started on your path.

Get in touch with the child you were. Is there a particular age you strongly remember? Maybe this is the age you'll want to write for. How did you feel? What did you want? What frightened you? Maurice Sendak said that the WILD THINGS were inspired by his fear of his aunts and uncles pinching his cheeks and saying things like, "Look at this boy! Couldn't you just eat him up?"

Spend some time reading books similar to the book you'd like to write.  Figure out how they work. Why do you care about the main character? What does that character want? What forces are working against the character achieving his or her goal?

Would you like a friend to recommend a book by saying, "There's a great lesson here for you!" No! So why do we think kids' books need to be teaching tools? Forget about the lessons and concentrate on writing a great page-turner of a story.

To get more in-depth information and to turn your ideas into a publishable children's book, join us from June 24–29 for a hands-on workshop to really dig into the art and craft of writing for children. You'll work with Kate every morning in a small group, and you'll meet our other writers-in-residence (Samantha Chang, Mimi Schwartz, Kathleen Spivack, and Christopher Tilghman), expert panelists, and literary agents during the week of discussions, lectures, readings, and receptions.

For more information, especially about our special limited-time reduced registration fee for SCBWI members and the PWW scholarship for half tuition awarded to one of the registered attendees, go to Paris Writers' Workshop or call the WICE office at 01 45 66 75 50. And, if you're ready to register for this workshop, go to the WICE website.

We hope to see you in June!

Post by Meredith Mullins and Kate McMullan. Book jackets courtesy of the publishers. We also thank our generous PWW sponsor, OIC Books.

May 17, 2012

La Nuit des Musées 2012

Paris offers periodic gifts to its residents (and visitors!): Fête de la Musique, Paris Plage, Nuit Blanche ... and more. These events are an invitation for crowds to take to the streets and enjoy Paris culture and spirit of community. This Saturday (May 19) is one of those occasions: La Nuit des Musées, sponsored by the French Ministry of Culture. More than 1300 museums will be open in France and more that 3700 in Europe for this special night paying tribute to our cultural treasures. Many venues are specially lit for the evening and have lectures, performances, concerts, or films as a part of the festivities.

Most museums in Paris will be open Saturday from 6 pm until midnight (and are free, except for the Louvre ... who do they think they are!). As with many of these one-night celebrations, it's a good plan to head toward the lesser known venues if you want to avoid the masses. Visit the Musée Bourdelle, Victor Hugo's house, the Petit Palais, Musée de la Vie Romantique, the Musée des Arts et Métiers (beautifully lit at night), Institut du monde arabe, or Musée Zadkine.

See the current hot exhibits—Debussy at the Musée national de l'Orangerie, photographer Joel-Peter Witkin at the Bibliothèque Nationale (Richelieu), photographer Atget at the Musée Carnavalet, Degas at the Musée d'Orsay, Helmut Newton at the Grand Palais, Tim Burton at the Cinémathèque française,  Bob Dylan at the Musée de la Musique, Louis Vuitton/Marc Jacobs at Les Arts décoratif, or R Crumb (and a jazz concert) at the Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris.

There are two places open exceptionally for this event so its a good time to take advantage of this opportunity: Institut cultural roumain and UNESCO. And don't forget the areas outside Paris (such as Sceaux, Fontainbleau, or Versailles) which take on a whole new kind of magic at night.  

Check the program and times for each museum at

Photos and post by Meredith Mullins

May 6, 2012

The French Republican Guard

We've all seen them, high above the crowd—the beautiful strong horses and the regal riders in shining helmets topped with flowing plumes, and golden braids looping across their chest. On Quatorze Juillet (Bastille Day), people even line up to watch them come home to the stables on Boulevard Henri IV. They are the cavalry of the Garde Républicaine, one of four regiments ... and proud members of the French gendarmerie.

The Republican Guard (founded in 1802) is responsible for guarding important public buildings, providing honor services for visiting dignitaries, supporting law enforcement, and (perhaps a lesser known fact) transporting organs for transplants.

We were treated to an "inside look" last month, à grace de WICE Director Véronique Kurtz, who went above and beyond normal channels and persisted in the required paperwork so that WICE members could have an up close and personal look at the history, culture, and Caserne des Célestins of the Garde in the 4th arrondissement.

Our charming guide from the Garde (with help from our eloquent translator Monika de Vigneral) offered morsel after morsel of interesting lore as we toured the museum, stables, arena, and even the blacksmith shop.

For example:

The horses of the cavalry are mostly bred in Normandy and are color coded depending on their regiment.

The helmet plumes are color coded also, with the commander wearing the white plume, the officers wearing tri-colors, and all others wearing red.

Their pants are color coded (lots of color coding going on here!), with the white pants brought out for heads of states and the blue pants worn for lower ranking dignitaries.

Each cavalry member works with his/her horse for one hour a day to keep them in top shape.

The decorative helmets weigh 2.2 kilos, have 19 pieces, and are made by the Garde in its own manufacturing center.

The drummers' horses are trained to be guided by the riders' feet, since the drummers' hands are busy drumming.

The Garde makes their own horseshoes (and have to make lots of them!). The shoes get battered by cobblestones and have to be replaced every 40 days or so.

About 10% of the Garde are women.

Back in the early 1800s, when the Garde served the function of tax collectors at the "borders" of Paris, they were required to smoke pipes. If their pipes were cold, it indicated that they had been asleep, tipping off their commanders that they had been slacking. (Now, smoking is forbidden.)

Everywhere we looked, we could see the care these men and women give their horses and the camaraderie they feel with their human and equine buddies. It was an incredible peek into their daily lives. Merci mille fois.

Join upcoming WICE tours—a visit to the Ministry of Finance in Bercy on May 10 and a walking tour of the 6th arrondissement with Lee Hubert on May 15. Plus a special photography salon on the evening of May 10 (as a tribute to Gertrude Stein), complete with wine and review and discussion of the group's photographs.   

Photographs and Post by Meredith Mullins

April 24, 2012

Belleville: Rue Dénoyez

The Writing Is on the Wall

Photo by Lisa Redburn
Just around the corner from Edith Piaf's favorite Belleville café is the rue Dénoyez, one of the most colorful streets in Paris. It is a living, breathing open-air gallery. Graffiti graces every inch of wall space along the short span of buildings, and everything on or near the street is painted (from windows and mailboxes to door-code panels, garbage cans, and flower pots).

Photographer Bob Levy Captures a "Moment"
The palette and art on the walls change from moment to moment, as graffiti artists come and go, leaving their marks ... layer after layer ... to keep the tagging battle alive and well. What you see in the morning will be repainted by evening. It is, as the sign says, a street of "No Rules."

Photo by Ann Wilson
The WICE photography exploration class wandered this neighborhood a few weeks ago with interesting results. Everyone walked down the same street, encased by the same buildings that were splattered with the same morning sunlight and shadows. And everyone saw something different. That's what art ... and life ... are all about.

Photo by Petra Nass
Join us for the upcoming photography classes in Photographing People/Portraiture, Black and White Photography, and an evening Gertrude-Steinlike photo salon (sipping wine and discussing your photographs). 

Photo by Patrice Neger
Posted by Meredith Mullins