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The Memoir Writing Project at Les Brouzils

The Brouzils Memoir Writing Project: Two-week residential programs for writers of memoir and other forms of personal, literary non-fiction. Now: Arrive with a manuscript, leave with a book (or a traditional publishing proposal).

A full moon over the gates in Brouzils.

The Seminars’ memoir writing sessions are designed to help those who are looking for ways to tell the stories of their lives – not just for themselves, but also for the education, entertainment and enrichment of others. Conferences meet in Les Brouzils, a small village in the French Vendée, with optional follow-up distance mentorships.

Workshops: The memoir-writing program is a very distinctive and successful approach to manuscript preparation in which small clusters of writers gather to create finished, professional-level proposals, introductory chapters, working outlines, book marketing platforms and other supporting elements, with optional ongoing off-site mentorships. The program is quite rigorous and very goal-oriented. You will work every single day.

The result is a deadline-driven process that results in finished books, publishable manuscripts or proposals. Unlike many workshops and seminars, the purpose here is not to discuss the work of other participants in purely encouraging terms, but to engage in the hard work of launching a writing project that has a reasonable chance of ending in success. Participants may combine two or more of these sessions, or enroll in a single session and participate in follow-ups, including chapter-by-chapter mentorships. Many participants use the seminars as a way of polishing a manuscript in the final stages of preparation.

BPP-150Alternative publishing option: For those contemplating self-publishing — and who have a project near completion — the focus will be on progressing through manuscript preparation, including editing, with a final proof copy of their book as the program objective. This is becoming an increasingly popular option and so a more practical approach is being adopted. Certain software requirements may exist. This track is ideal if you wish to use the Seminars as a launch for a book project.

Publication as part of the process. Beginning in 2015, participants with completed manuscripts may use the final seminar meetings to prepare WordPress-enabled websites for their books, with supervision and support, and then publish their work in collaboration with Currente Media, a New York-based custom publisher. Within a few weeks of the seminar’s concluding session, your memoir will be available on Amazon’s worldwide network of retail sites (and, if you prefer, through your own website). Currente Media will prepare and design the interior pages and provide an original, professional jacket for your memoir. There is an additional fee for this service, but compared to other custom-publishing serices, your savings will be thousands of dollars. See this page for details.

Coursework. The seminars are conducted in a small, private chateau situated in a walled park opposite the village church. The sessions focus on finding the compelling story in the inventory of one’s personal experiences and then learning not only how to write it well, but how to present it to agents and editors and other professionals. This is the principle component in a proposal-to-publishable-manuscript process.

For those opting to create a proposal for traditional publishers, the various components of a proposal are discussed in daily sessions, and participants explore the way these reflect (and even influence) the writing of a manuscript. Break-out half-sessions on the current literary landscape, marketing, alternative avenues to publication, the roles of promotion and publicity are also offered. Workshop meetings, faculty consultations, and on-going mentorships help participants go from finding a starting-point for their work to discovering a method for developing the work over time.

For those in the publishing program, the sessions are dedicated to creating the elements necessary to support publication in conjunction with Currente Media.

Location: The Vendée, situated in the west of France just south of Brittany and the Loire, is the most traditional of French regions, with a rich history punctuated by a bloody uprising during the French revolution — an episode that has given the area its own distinctive character. The now-tranquil village of Les Brouzils was once at the center of those events. The place is removed from the noise of urban life, yet it is not remote: A rural railway station is nearby, and from there, it’s little more than a half-hour to Nantes (and another two hours to Paris via TGV trains). In the other direction, an hour to the west, the little train takes you to the coastal village of Les Sables d’Olonne, with its long, sandy beaches, its celebrated music school and its collections of art and books housed in the old Abbaye Sainte-Croix. The surf along the Vendéen coast can be high and dramatic, but the warm summer weather often rivals that in the south.

The Brouzils Memoir Writing Project.

Participants in the traditional publishing track should arrive with a brief project description and be ready to work, since this very intense session allows little time for anything but writing. Once in residence, participants in the two-week program will meet a series of specific daily deadlines, perform necessary revisions and, if the required work is completed on time and the trade-book option is selected, they will leave Les Brouzils with  full working plans for their books – including an outline and a professional proposal, and at least one completed chapter.

Participants in the Brouzils Publishing Program will learn the elements of book design, production and marketing along with seminars devoted to writing craft.

Space is extremely limited; very small seminars allow for individual consultation and collaboration.

This program is ideal for those who need help launching a book project in a way that’s likely to lead to successful completion. On-going mentorships make it possible to continue the writing process in collaboration with Brouzils faculty.

Enrollment in the Brouzils Memoir Writing Project is limited to five participants per seminar. Early registration encouraged. Participants may combine sessions with mentorships. One-week option: see below.

2015 workshop sessions:

Current (as of 7 June 2015) availability:

15-29 April. Returning participants only.

10-23 June. Registration now closed

8-23 July. Registration now closed

15-28 August. Registration now closed.

2-15 September. Registration now closed.

2-15 October. Returning participants only.

Individual mentorship sessions may be available. Please inquire:

2016 schedule posted March 2016. The traditional annual schedule (as above) will be followed with minor adjustments. The April and October workshops are for returning participants only.

Tuition and feesincluding accommodation: US$3190.00 per two-week session. Tuition and fees, excluding accommodation: US$2390.00 per two-week session. A $400 deposit must accompany all registrations.

One-week option. A one-week option is available for some sessions on a space-available basis. Fees and tuition: $1890.00 including accommodation. $1550.00 excluding accommodation. Project completion is normally not possible with the one-week option selected.

Fees are payable in advance only using PayPal or by sending a check to the US agent’s address: The Brouzils Institute, 220 N. Commercial St., Mankato KS 66956. Deposits are not refundable, except in the event of a canceled session or an inability to admit a registered applicant.

Accommodation: Includes accommodation (when selected and available), breakfast and light lunch buffets (on week days), enrollment fees, a welcoming apéro and a farewell luncheon.

For additional details, please see the page on accommodation and transportation.

Fees, schedules and availability are subject to change without notice.