The Exquisite Corpse is a fun little writing exercise to explore with a bunch of like-minded friends. It’s a bit like Chinese Whispers. The first person in the group writes a short piece—say 200 words. Then passes it on to the next person, who contributes their own bit. Here’s the fun bit—no-one ever sees anything but the piece immediately before theirs. This inevitably means the story takes some wild twists and turns, almost always deviating crazily from the original idea.Continue reading “An Exquisite Corpse”
In a typical Reading Writers move, we organised our first in-the-room meetup since March on the day the government shrunk the numbers of people allowed to gather in one place by a factor of 5. Impeccably done, RW. Yay us.
The meet was a culmination of much gentle negotiation between our usual venue, the RISC, and our esteemed chair, Andy. The RISC wanted people back, of course. Although the bar remains closed until October and will reopen in a very different form (think dry-goods refill store with a little bar to one side) it’s good to have people in the building—and more importantly contributing to the organisation’s survival by paying room hire. All of which we’re happy to do. The RISC has served us very well over the years.
How do we square social distancing guidelines with the needs of the group? There will often be getting on for 20 people at an RW meet, particularly when guests are presenting to us. The solution is to create a hybrid meet—some in the room, some on Zoom.
Zoom has been a lifesaver for the group during the summer months. We’d normally be on break, with a monthly social event in a bar in town. Without that to depend on, we’ve been running virtual events on a regular basis instead, sharing stories and inspiration, keeping each other going during these strange times. We’ve found that Zoom works well for the majority of members. Using emails and our WhatsApp group as backups, the group has been chatting and sharing happily.
Back in the room, there was a certain level of nervousness amongst the RW committee about how well the hybrid approach would work. Andy had wangled a upgrade. We now had access to the Conference hall, which would in ordinary times fit forty people with ease. Under social distancing, we could probably squeeze eight in there. Until the change announced on the morning of the meet, when that number would be cut further.
As it turned out, our fears were baseless. There were four attendees in the big room (Andy, Secretary Meg, Tech Guru Rob and Geek Queen Eloise) with another six joining on Zoom. Rob hooked a laptop and mike to the room’s whiteboard projector, which also usefully had speakers. Everyone could see and hear each other clearly, and the presentation from Social Secretary Gareth on Fantasy went extremely smoothly.
The Room Team even managed to squeeze in a post-session drink at the thankfully re-opened Great Expectations. A pleasingly normal moment to cap off one of our stranger meetings.
And on we go. Our Autumn Competition is now running, we have manuscript nights to organise and guests to invite. It certainly isn’t business as usual, but we’re trying to make it work. We’ll carry on with the hybrid meets for as long as they remain viable, but we believe Zoom is going to be a big part of how we do things from now on.
How we figure out the Christmas party is a whole other question.
In a world turned upside-down, how do you hang on to normality?Continue reading “Strange Days, Stranger Times”
We’re on our summer hols at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s all quiet on the RW front. Here are a few bites of news, successes and notifications for you!
Reading Writers at Waingels College, Woodley: Thursday 4 July 2019
by Julie Roberts
Julie Roberts and Jarrad Elson represented Reading Writers at the college’s Student Literary Festival.
The school has a yearly project at which the senior students organise and run a chosen event. 2019’s choice was a Literary Festival. Ten visiting authors were each given 20 minutes presentation time on their chosen genre.
Jarrad spoke on ‘Writing for Children’, with an excellent slide show demonstrating his path to publishing his picture book Cheetah the Cheater.
Julie’s presentation was ‘Writing a Novella’ – the challenge of achieving a tight format, and producing a thrilling, fast moving story for her book Dangerous Masquerade.
In addition to the author talks, the students had organised stalls for games, raffles and authors’ books.
The event was a success. A good team building exercise for the students to take on into their futures. Well done, Waingels College.
The following Wednesday, Jarrad and I met to exchange our books to each other – I love the photo.
And on behalf of myself and members of Reading Writers, I wish Jarrad a thrilling and interesting tour of the UK and Europe before he heads home to Australia.
A plug from Julie Roberts – DANGEROUS MASQUERADE
Summer is rolling along on perfect sunny days.
With this in mind, my publisher has released my novella, Dangerous Masquerade.
When the time is right, and you are relaxing with a glass of refreshing juice or wine, download the story of Evelyn, and her thrilling escapes and hiding places to flee a demanding and forceful lord. And her hero, Giles, is the only one who can save her. But will he be in time?
Get your Georgian romance fix here: https://amzn.to/2G3S9NT
Hunting Hearts gig at Reading Pride
A plug from Claire Dyer on behalf of her daughter Lucy – who has joined us at meetings as an associate on a number of occasions. The plug is for synthwave warriors Hunting Hearts who have a gig at Reading Pride on 31st August:
Some Summer Spam From Our Inbox
• Wells Festival of Literature – 18 – 26 October 2019. A set of talks and events all focused around books and authors.
• NAWG Festival of Writing – 31st August to 1st September. Booking closes 12th Aug. We are a member of NAWG, and each year they have an event for the members with talks, workshops, competitions (too late for most of the comps), etc. It is at Warwick University this year, but sounds like it’s moving venue for 2020.
• We get emails from TAR (Theatre & Arts Reading) who are an organisation trying to aim at establishing a new theatre and arts venue in Reading. Their current want is to run Reading Gaol as a venue for this. If you’re interested go see their website:
• A potential opportunity for short story fans and writers. A new magazine called Short Fiction Magazine is launching in October. They are potentially looking for stories, articles, flash fiction and poetry for publication. They have also offered a potential 25% subscription discount – more details at:
That’s it for now. Enjoy your summer!
RW recently rejoined the National Association of Writing Groups (NAWG thence), a country-wide organisation of
idiots, dreamers, narcissists and delusioneers writerly types. As part of the annual subscription, we’re allowed to enter NAWG’s many competitions with a chance to attend annual conference, the snappily named NAWGFest. Blow us down with a feather if we didn’t hit the jackpot on our first go!
Reporting not very live from Warwick University, Best Poetry finalist Eloise Curtis represents for Reading Writers…
Something from our Juliet, esteemed MS Night Secretary and all-round RW hero. In a cross-post with Progress Theatre, she outlines the sheer hard work that goes into a local production of Shakespeare…
There were some big changes to the committee of Reading Writers at the end of last year. Continue reading “The First Thing About The Last Day”
It feels like no more than fifteen seconds since we opened proceedings on another year at RW. And yet here we are, with our flash fiction throw-down/end of term party looming, and summer holiday adventures to anticipate. It’s been a thrill-packed six months.
So what news?
Our spring competition, judged by journalist Francesca Perryman, showed us at our strongest. RW is a varied bunch, and our responses to the brief ‘An Interview With…’ showed us at our strongest. Takes on horror (including an unexpectedly spooky tale from our secretary Andy), SF, memoir and history, poetry and humour gave a solid picture of a group with many passions but one love–that of writing. Congrats are due to our winners; Claire, Josh and Steve, who took the top spot with his hilarious chat with a gender-reassigned Doris Johnson. Utter genius.
Claire is having a great year, as her latest book, The Last Day, has been picked up by a new publisher. Hooray! More on that here –> http://www.thebookseller.com/news/dome-press-signs-dyers-latest-558411. Claire also wanted to add how much she appreciates the support she gets from RW in all her endeavours. You am very welcome, Claire!
While we’re on the subject of writer’s news, new member Becci has been talking about her busy spring as a working writer over on her blog. Check it out here: https://beccipoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/the-poet-and-the-parrot-words-with-a-bird-on-the-shoulder/
Meanwhile, our Writer’s Day earlier in the month was a raging success. A new venue in Park Street was perfect for our needs, and the day was filled with fun activities, quizzes and of course a hefty dose of writing. Many thanks to Hannah and Josh who worked incredibly hard to make the day a triumph of epic proportions.
Next week sees our final meet before September, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops. We have two social gatherments and a book night hosted by this year’s Don Louth Award winner, Julie Roberts. She’s asked us to look at Eagle In The Sky by Wilbur Smith, a tale of adventure and derring-do in the finest traditions of the veteran writer.
There’s also prep to do for our Autumn Competition, and for a few brave souls, work for the first event of the Autumn term, our Not The Booker Prize Night. Five of us extol the merits of our favourite book of the last 12 months. The winner is of course, the best book of the year, no questions or arguments permitted, thank you kindly.
Let’s end with a bit of writing, shall we? This is from our Juliet, who has been featured regularly on Limping Chicken, the UK’s most popular disability website. This, an interview with poet Susan Utting on deafness and poetry, is a good one. Enjoy, and have a great summer!
Last week was momentous for Reading Writers. After nearly a year’s work, we were ready to reveal the fruits of our labour: a slim but solid volume of new writing. Continue reading “Tales from Our Town: Tales Told in Public”
Let’s be plain here. We’re cramming a LOT into the next couple of weeks.
To begin with, let’s talk about our Chair, Claire Dyer. An acclaimed poet and author, she’s had a busy month already. As part of National Poetry Day on October 4th, Claire was nominated by BBC Berkshire to write a poem about Reading. She chose to pitch verse on The Oracle, our town’s gilded palace of profit. You can watch the short film that was made of her poem here.
As if that wasn’t enough, her new volume, Interference Effects, is launching on the 20th of October through Two Rivers Press. It’s a handsome object, filled with Claire’s wise, warm words. Recommended, trust us.
Meanwhile, esteemed member Vera Morris has turned to crime! Crime writing, that is. Her first novel, Some Particular Evil, is on sale on the 21st of October through Accent Press. A taut, gripping and twisty tale of murder and betrayal, you won’t want to miss this one. Check out the cover!
Oh yes, and then there’s the business with RW’s own launch! Tales From Our Town is a real object now, and editor Miranda Lloyd proudly showed off the fruits of our labour at last week’s meeting. Tea Drinkers Anonymous Assemble!
Just a gentle reminder that the launch of Tales From Our Town will be on Saturday 29th October between 3 and 5 at Reading Central Library. Come one, come all! You can buy the book, get it signed by some of the authors and enjoy a reading. There will naturally be tea and cake, as well as discount rates on our other anthologies to date. You could even share your own Tale of The Town! How else could you possibly want to spend a Saturday afternoon?
And then it’s November! Time for a rest. Unless, of course, anyone’s doing Nanowrimo…?
It’s been a long and busy summer, but autumn is about to bear fruit. Continue reading “Tales From Our Town”
It’s strange to think that one of Reading’s most famous landmarks is also one that was home to so much misery.
We’re on summer break here at RW, but that doesn’t stop us writing… or reading! So a bunch of us gathered at Caversham’s Alto Lounge earlier this week for the group’s annual Book Night.
Hosted and curated by the year’s Don Louth award winner, it’s a good excuse to read something that may be a little outside our usual comfort zone. You don’t have to like the book. In fact, contrary opinions make for a more interesting discussion.
Steve Partridge had the honour this year, and he chose Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín. Winner of the 2009 Costa Book Prize and adapted into a well-recieved film last year, the book sparked a frank exchange of views over a couple of drinks and some nibbles. Continue reading “Notes On “Brooklyn””