Zoom in The Room

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.

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!

NAWGfest 2018 Review

nawg logo

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…

Continue reading “NAWGfest 2018 Review”