2022 – The Year We Come Back

Slowly, like the bulbs in the lawn, like the buds on the tree, your pals at Reading Writers are poking our noses back out into the world. Maybe this is the year we finally return to some sort of normality—whatever that may mean. As we hit the midpoint of February, we thought it might be nice to provide you with an update on our adventures so far.

Continue reading “2022 – The Year We Come Back”

A Night With Alison May

This one, from our esteemed Secretary Meg Woodward, talks about our first in-person meet for… a very long time.

On 13th October Reading Writers were excited to host Alison May, who talked to the group about the novel editing process.

Continue reading “A Night With Alison May”

Merrily We Roll Along

Yes, we’re still here. Since our last update, the general consensus has been—the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Like many writing groups across the planet, Zoom has been the lifeline which keeps Reading Writers going. After an abortive attempt at hybrid meets in September with some members in physical attendance at the RISC, we slipped back into virtual gatherings. And plenty of them! Although our AGM and Christmas party wasn’t the usual raucous affair, we still managed to drink and do a quiz and even wear lengths of tinsel as scarves. We know all about glamour!

While the post-Christmas break would normally see us all going our own ways, the inevitable lockdown brought us back together for a couple of smaller ad hoc meet-ups. Chat and writing exercises were a merry distraction from the dark days of mid-winter, and led to some interesting pieces.

We’d like to share one of those with you. A bit of work from our Regency Queen Julie Roberts, based on a series of prompts.

Which were: New Year, cactus, daffodil, hand cream, chocolate, beach

Into The Future 2022

Winter’s season is a kaleidoscope of nature. The robin does not abandon our gardens, the red kites circle over the woods and fields hunting for a meal, the evergreen trees stand laden with leaf in gardens and woods. I have a potted holly tree that I care for, she still has her red berries shining in the sunshine. And my faithful gypsy rose brings tears to my eyes as she defies torrential rain, wind and frost, and this morning’s sunshine gives to me her beautiful display of red roses, not to pick but enjoy as nature defines.

Sheltering under a cardboard box is the cacti. I remove this each morning to let them enjoy the daylight and today the sun’s warmth after last night’s frost. In two days, it will be a new year. The outgoing 2020 will be recorded in history as the year the world was united, not in glory, but disaster. A killer virus more deadly than the Great Plague of 1665. But four centuries later science is our salvation. Vaccines that will, with all our prayers, devotion and determination bring our world into 2022 better, wiser and united into the future.

But on a happy note, I am spending today pampering ME – a leisurely shower, paint my nails and smooth my hands with hand cream that promises to make them look ten years younger. And with the shortest day behind us, I have already seen in the garden the green leaves of the daffodils, encouraging their many shades of yellow trumpet petals for me to enjoy. Later, I shall open a box of chocolates and tap my fingers when I am tempted to start the second layer. And reminisce about the years I have walked along my favourite sandy beach of France’s western Aquitaine shores and cycled along its forest paths in the dappled sunshine.

Thank you, Julie.

What, then, of Reading Writers as we spin into 2021? With a third lockdown in place, we’re sticking to Zoom for the next couple of months, of course. We have a provisional roster of events in place, including a ton of our manuscript nights, two competitions and a couple of guest slots. July and August remain as yet unfilled. We hope that’s the point where we can have our usual summer drinks, meeting up in actual real life, raising a glass to friendship, community and writing.

This week is where it all starts, as we announce the winner of the 2020 Don Louth Award and run a workshop on character. Covid can’t stop us. To quote the old musical number, Merrily We Roll Along.

News For Summer Break

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.

Two very happy Reading Writers!

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!

Supporting ABC To Read

A little something from our Josh…


Today I visited the lovely people at ABC to Read, http://www.abctoread.org.uk/, and handed over a cheque from Reading Writers for £100.

As you’d expect for a charity that teaches children to read, they have plenty of books, but they don’t have enough games. Games break the ice between children and volunteers, and if they’ve been well chosen they include letters, numbers and reading. So your words, put together by Miranda and everyone who helped, will buy that, and give the volunteers a chance to get their children playing and learning.

I also took five copies of the anthology and was able to give them as gifts to five of their hard-working volunteers!

What ABC to Read need now are more volunteers to go into local schools across Reading and Berkshire. If you’d like to volunteer, get in touch with them. Or mention it to a friend. Or share it on social media. And help a child to read.



Thanks, Josh! Don’t forget, our anthology Tales From Our Town is still on sale, and profits go towards helping out this brilliant charity.


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.

Our winners, with judge Francesca second left.
Our winners! L-R Josh, judge Francesca, Steve, Claire.

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!


October Is The Busiest Month

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!

Our editor Miranda (seated) shows off Tales From Our Town. Toasts with tea all round from the group.

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…?

Notes On “Brooklyn”

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””