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Take a Writer's Retreat in Canada with Margaret Atwood

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Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto, but the celebrated Canadian author is also a longtime seasonal resident of Pelee Island. The land mass sits in Lake Erie, between Sandusky, Ohio and Essex County, Ontario, and is filled with rare plants and animals, including many migratory bird species. Soon, it will also be home to a brand-new writer’s retreat, with Atwood as a confirmed instructor.

Dawn Kresan, a Canadian writer and editor, has launched an Indiegogo campaign (with a goal of $25,000 Canadian) to raise start-up costs for the Pelee Island Book House and Writers' Retreat.

“It has been my dream to create a writers’ retreat on Pelee Island for over a decade,” she writes on Indiegogo, citing the island’s beauty, wildlife, and robust arts community. “Taking part in a Pelee Island writing retreat will give authors the opportunity to focus on their work, free of distraction.” As for nature lovers, they can participate in an annual retreat sponsored by the Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO), which will host a nature writing workshop.

Sadly, the Indiegogo campaign doesn’t cover participants’ admission costs. Writers will have to shell out as much as $1200 for a 7-day retreat, and $800 for a 5-day one. The sticker price covers cottage accommodations, meals, ferry transportation to and from Pelee Island (you’ll have to pay any other travel expenses yourself), and writing workshops. The 7-day retreat offers two master classes with an instructor, while the 5-day retreat offers one. And if you want to save money and focus on solo writing time, you can skip the classes and opt for a lower-cost, self-directed 6-day residency.

The retreats and residencies will begin in the spring of 2017. Atwood’s first retreat will run from May 23 to 29. She doesn’t lead every single excursion, so if your heart is set on fine-tuning your craft with your favorite author, schedule your time accordingly. (A full list of instructors is posted on the retreat’s website.)

Looking to devote some serious time to a manuscript, and possibly work with Atwood? The retreat's admission details are available online. You can also contribute money to the Indiegogo campaign, which ends in a month, and receive reduced prices on future bookings as well as other perks.

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

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How Many of the World's 20 Most Popular Museums Have You Visited?
Mike Hewitt, Getty Images
Mike Hewitt, Getty Images

If you went to the Louvre last year, you're in the company of 8.1 million people. According to the latest Museum Index from the Themed Entertainment Association [PDF], the Paris institution was the world's most-visited museum in 2017—an honor it hasn't earned since 2015.

Attendance at the Louvre went up 9.5 percent from 7.4 million visitors to 8.1 million between 2016 and 2017. The National Museum of China in Beijing, 2016's most popular museum attraction, also saw a significant 6.8 percent boost in traffic last year from 6.5 million to 8 million guests‚ landing in the No.2 spot. Two U.S. museums, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, are tied for the third slot with 7 million visitors each, and the Vatican Museums rank fifth with a 2017 attendance of 6.4 million.

The Louvre's impressive attendance numbers look much different than they did in the year following the Paris terror attacks of November 2015. The number of tourists traveling to the French capital dropped by 1.5 million in 2016, and the Louvre alone saw a 1.3 million decrease in visitors. The city has since rebounded, and in the middle of 2017 tourism to Paris was greater than it had been in a decade.

Museums around the world saw more people coming through their doors overall last year, with an attendance boost of 0.2 percent from 2016 to 2017. The museums with the biggest spikes were the Victoria & Albert Museum in London with 25.4 percent and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C with 22.8 percent. Though the museum didn't make the top 20 list, the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. last year helped contribute to the 3 percent increase in museum traffic in North America.

You can find the full list below.

1. Louvre // Paris, France
2. National Museum of China // Beijing, China
3. National Air and Space Museum // Washington D.C., U.S.
    Metropolitan Museum of Art // New York City, U.S.
5. Vatican Museums // Vatican City
6. Shanghai Science & Technology Museum // Shanghai, China
7. National Museum of Natural History // Washington D.C., U.S.
8. British Museum // London, UK
9. Tate Modern // London, UK
10. National Gallery of Art // Washington D.C., U.S.
11. National Gallery // London, UK
12. American Museum of Natural History // New York City, U.S.
13. National Palace Museum // Taipei, Taiwan
14. Natural History Museum // London, UK
15. State Hermitage // St. Petersburg, Russia
16. China Science Technology Museum // Beijing, China
17. Reina Sofia // Madrid, Spain
18. National Museum of American History, Washington D.C., U.S.
19. Victoria & Albert Museum // London, UK
20. Centre Pompidou // Paris, France

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You Can Now Rent the Montgomery, Alabama Home of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald Through Airbnb
Chris Pruitt, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The former apartment of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, perhaps the most famous couple of the Jazz Age, is now available to rent on a nightly basis through Airbnb, The Chicago Tribune reports. While visitors are discouraged from throwing parties in the spirit of Jay Gatsby, they are invited to write, drink, and live there as the authors did.

The early 20th-century house in Montgomery, Alabama was home to the pair from 1931 to 1932. It's where Zelda worked on her only novel Save Me the Waltz and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote part of Tender Is the Night. The building was also the last home they shared with their daughter Scottie before she moved to boarding school.

In the 1980s, the house was rescued from a planned demolition and turned into a nonprofit. Today, the site is a museum and a spot on the Southern Literary Trail. While the first floor of the Fitzgerald museum, which features first-edition books, letters, original paintings, and other artifacts related to the couple, isn't available to rent, the two-bedroom apartment above it goes for $150 a night. Guests staying there will find a record player and a collection of jazz albums, pillows embroidered with Zelda Fitzgerald quotes, and a balcony with views of the property's magnolia tree. Of the four surviving homes Zelda and F. Scott lived in while traveling the world, this is the only one that's accessible to the public.

Though the Fitzgerald home is the only site on the Southern Literary Trail available to rent through Airbnb, it's just one of the trail's many historic homes. The former residences of Flannery O'Connor, Caroline Miller, and Lillian Smith are all open to the public as museums.

[h/t The Chicago Tribune]

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