Monday, 14 October 2013

STOP PRESS


Please check out our  new Room To Write website  at http://roomtowritepublishing.wordpress.com/

This site will still stay as an archive of the work we have done so far. The new website is about our future developments and ideas. Check us out. 
 
Wendy Gillian and Avril

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Garden Memoir Competition - RoomToWrite's Avril Joy on the shortlist

Image of A Friend, a Book and a Garden: A Festival of Garden Literature 29 and 30 June, at the Barn Garden

A Friend, a Book and a Garden: A Festival of Garden Literature 29 and 30 June, at the Barn Garden

The first ever Festival of writing about gardens takes place in the Barn Garden created by Tom and Sue Stuart-Smith.

Granta A friend a book and a garden
Sponsored by Granta

Memoir - Garden Writing Competition

The first Festival of Garden Literature celebrates garden writing as a genre, with a particular emphasis on Memoir. A writing competition for a piece of literary memoir inspired by, or set in, a garden.
Judged by Antonia Fraser, Adam Nicolson and Sigrid Rausing, a prize of £2,500 will be awarded to the winning entry. Maximum word length 2,500 words.
Congratulations to our three finalists who have now been selected:
  • Mrugesh Chauhan: Through the Eyes of the Eucalyptus Ghost
  • Lorna Gibb: Two Gardens
  • Avril Joy: Dancing With Mr. Benn

 Congratulations to Avril and 'fingers crossed' for 29th June    when the winner will be announced.

 

STOP PRESS: Back to Basics 2

The second series in the Back to Basics writing workshops will now take place in the spring of 2014 and will focus on the short story, to coincide with the launch of RoomToWrite's national short story competition.

More details to follow

Monday, 29 April 2013

Back to basics ...




Join Room to Write and Read's 

Back to Basics Workshops at 2pm on May 1st 

with Wendy Robertson and Avril Joy

 
I’ve always said that teaching is the best way of learning. After so many books and so many years I still have stuff to learn about the fascinating process of writing. So it’s with the delight of anticipation that for the last couple of weeks I’ve been working very hard with my friend Avril Joy preparing for the first of a series of four writing workshops at my old stamping ground, Bishop Auckland Town Hall Library.

We have called this series Back to Basics 
with the idea that in any craft of skill going back to basics is a refreshing and inspiring process for both experienced and new practitioners.

So, as  well as being a refresher course for existing writers who want to look at their method
and process, these workshops have been designed for absolute beginners. These starter workshops are intended to give them confidence to make a start whether their aim is fiction, memoir, family stories or factual writing there will be something inspiring here for everyone.

We will explore the role of writing in everyone’s life even if they don’t consider themselves yet to be a writer - letters, diaries, reports, for instance. We will show the value of normal use of language in speaking, recounting, telling stories. We will talk of the necessity for more experienced writers to audit their skills and practices and go back to basics to evaluate their work, to refresh and rediscover their style.

This first workshop will involve three different and intense writing experiences which will be productive for all writers, from absolute beginners to those who have poems, stories or even books in their literary folio.

These workshops will not involve individuals reading out their own work, as I’ve come to think that this process is time-consuming and more suited to some writers than others. I know that reading out is a convention in workshops but I sometime think that reading out loud at an early stage can be destructive for some people. In the latter of this series fo four workshops we will find other ways of sharing work

So if you happen to be reading this and are in travelling distance of lovely old Bishop Auckland come along and join Avril and me and learn how to develop your writing by going Back to Basics.

As I said at the beginning I think that teaching is the best way of learning so I am sure we will learn lots from you as well.

The workshops start on
Wednesday 1s May at Bishop Auckland Town Hall 2 -4.30
The workshops are free to you but BATH will charge you £2 for the tea/coffee and biscuits includedas a the treat to keep us going.

Workshops Start at 2pm May 1st Bishop Auckland Town Hall. Ring to reserve a place.

clip_image001

clip_image002

 
 
Address: Market Pl, Bishop Auckland, County Durham DL14 7NP
Phone:0300 026 9524

Friday, 5 April 2013

STOP PRESS

Join Writers, Avril Joy, winner of the inaugural Costa Short Story Award 2013 and John Price,
reading from their work in the recently published
Iron Press anthology
Root, Wednesday 10th April, 7.00 pm,
Bishop Auckland Town Hall Library
,
Free Event

For further details contact BA Town Hall (01388)602610



ROOT is an anthology of new short fiction from writers based in North East England. Edited by novelist and award- winning short-story writer, Kitty Fitzgerald;
‘a writer of stylistic daring who cuts her own furrow.’ – The Scotsman

• Writers include: Avril Joy (winner of the Costa Short Story Award 2012), Fiona Cooper, Amanda Baker, Rob Walton, Angela Readman.

Root is a collection of short stories, which re-affirm the North East’s status as a vibrant area for new writing. The subjects of the 13 stories on show here range from the domestic – family relationships, gardening, bullying, adoption and loss – to the plain bizarre: a circus bearded lady, a woman who morphs into Elvis, and an insight into what God wears to work.

Kitty Fitzgerald was born in Ireland, and now lives in Northumberland.
She has edited two previous anthologies of short fiction for Iron Press: Iron Women: New Stories by Women (1990; ISBN 9780906228340) and Biting Back: New Fiction from the North (2001; ISBN 9780906228760).

Her short-story collection Miranda’s Shadow, which will be published by IRON Press in June 2013


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Stop Press

For Gillian's Reading Memories

 see Reviews and Commentaries tab above

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Wise Words About Writing


Some Writers Say: 

I write as straight as I can, just as I walk as straight as I can, because that is the best way to get there. H.G. Wells


Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. Mark Twain

Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young. W. Somerset Maugham

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. E.L. Doctorow

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.  Kahlil Gibran

Art is not a handicraft.  It is the transmission of a feeling which the artist has experienced. Leo Tolstoy
 Becoming the reader is the essence of becoming a writer. John O'Hara
So many writers...

Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the most. Read! William Faulkner

I took a number of stories by popular writers as well as others by Maupassant, O. Henry, Stevenson, etc., and studied them carefully. Louis L'Amour

I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time. Kurt Vonnegut

 There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be. Doris Lessing

The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea. Thomas Mann

The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense.  Tom Clancy

 No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. Robert Frost

 "I write as straight as I can, just as I walk as straight as I can, because that is the best way to get there." H.G. Wells

© Wendy Robertson


Tuesday, 12 February 2013


STOP PRESS:

Click Workshops Tab above to experience
Wendy's Workshop on Editing  Fiction and Fact

*********************************

Avril's Report on her Costa Prize

Millie and Bird, the Costa Short Story Award, and Me




Where to begin? The Story – Millie and Bird was one of those stories that came almost fully realised, with a will of its own. I had no idea what I was going to say when I sat down to write it, no plan, nothing other than the first two lines which kept repeating in my head. I do know what inspired it though and that was a painting by Barbara Skingle – Katherine and Millie which I’d see for the first time in a poetry workshop several weeks earlier and which had made a real impact on me. Once I got the first draft of the story down I edited it a LOT. Editing is as important as the initial act of writing. A week or so later I entered it for the Costa imagining I wouldn’t stand a chance – and well – you know the rest! But that wasn’t quite the end of it. Millie and her sister Isa, their mother Kitty, their neighbour Jonty, others too, wouldn’t leave me – they insisted I write their stories and I’m still writing them…
The Costa – Our taxi pulled up outside 16 Bury Street, St James’s – Quaglino’s puckered up its hot red lips and beckoned us in. If I was nervous before I’d started out, I was on the point of fleeing. But there was no going back now, we’d met Bud and Bud had directed us to the mezzanine and then down to the crowded floor below. Two glasses of pink champagne later and I was beginning to get the hang of it. I was even getting the hang of seeing my face everywhere on the flat screen TVs.
I found Guy le Jaune, another of the finalists. He looked like a man waiting for a reprieve. Our spouses swapped stories of our mounting panic earlier that day – and here I’ve got to break off and say a huge thanks to my spouse John, who put up with a lot and was just about the best  companion to have along for the ride. To Guy too (only joking above) and Patricia – it was great to meet you and I hope we stay in touch. It was good to meet the other finalists : Shelia, Sally, Chioma – and Angela we missed you. To my mind any one of the six could have won.
We met the judges around the couch.Pre-announcement.They were kind. They were generous; all the Costa people, esp Bud, were very generous. But when Gary Kemp – man of such talent, and I’m talking words not songs – shook my hand and told me my story was ‘very special’ I wanted to ‘dye my hair orange and don a turkey-foil jump suit’*.  I was a starwoman and it was shortly to be confirmed. Those words that still keep rolling round in my head  ‘And the winner of the 2012 Costa Short Story Award is Avril Joy for Millie and Bird...’ Photographers shouted  my name like I was some kind of celebrity. Jenni Murray congratulated me. I went into shock. I stayed there. My lipstick faded but my smile stuck. After that there was only one thing for it and that was to hit the champagne.
Me – I’ve had so many texts, emails, tweets, cards and messages of congratulations. My house is full of flowers. I’ve tried to reply to everyone but if I’ve missed anyone I’m sorry, it wasn’t intentional. If you voted for me thank you so much.  If you didn’t but would still like to read the story you can do so here. London was great. Quaglino’s was outrageous but I’m glad to be back home in the North East. At my desk and writing.
Thanks to Costa and congrats to all finalists on the night.
* Gary Kemp’s brilliant autobiography – This Much I Know



 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Costa Joy


Room To Write and Read is delighted to announce that North East writer, our associate Avril Joy, has been named as the winner of the Costa Short Story Award for her short story Millie and Bird. 

Avril Joy - winner of the Costa Short Story Award

Costa Short Story Award - Over 1800 entries were received in this new competition, open to both published and non-published writers, for a single, previously-unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words by an author aged 18 years or over and written in English. 

The identities of the winner of the Short Story Award and the two runners-up, together with the overall Costa Book of the Year winner, were announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in London on Tuesday, 29th January.

 Extract from Millie and Bird by Avril Joy

"It was the kind of summer when the grass grew too long to cut and your toes stubbed at the damp end of your trainers, the summer I was sixteen. It rained all through May and June. It rained on my birthday. It never let up and the weeds in the yard grew taller than the gate post. Jonty Angel, our next-door neighbour, gave Millie the bird that summer, a white zebra finch, and she spent all her time coaxing it onto her shoulder, whispering to it and feeding it titbits. He gave her a cage too and she put it in her bedroom out of harm’s way. It was the summer of Bird, it was the summer I fell in love..."

Hilary Mantel won the overall Costa Book of the Year Award - see Wendy's commentary at the Reviews and Commentariestab



Stop Press:

See 'Reviews and Commentaries'  tab above for 
Wendy's comment on Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies

Thursday, 24 January 2013


Celebrate with us !

RoomToWrite's own Avril Joy shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award..

 

Costa Short Story Award - a brand new award for a single short story, run in conjunction with the Costa Book Awards, and judged both anonymously and independently of the five main category system.

Over 1800 entries were received in this new competition, open to both published and non-published writers, for a single, previously-unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words by an author aged 18 years or over and written in English.

The six anonymous, shortlisted stories were available for the public to download, read and vote for from the end of November 2012. Voting closed at 12 noon yesterday, Wednesday, 23rd January

North East writer, Avril Joy, has today been named as one of the six short-listed writers for her short story Millie and Bird.

The identities of the winner of the Costa Short Story Award and the two runners-up, together with the overall Costa Book of the Year winner, will be announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in London on Tuesday, 29th January.

Extract from Millie and Bird by Avril Joy

"It was the kind of summer when the grass grew too long to cut and your toes stubbed at the damp end of your trainers, the summer I was sixteen. It rained all through May and June. It rained on my birthday. It never let up and the weeds in the yard grew taller than the gate post. Jonty Angel, our next-door neighbour, gave Millie the bird that summer, a white zebra finch, and she spent all her time coaxing it onto her shoulder, whispering to it and feeding it titbits. He gave her a cage too and she put it in her bedroom out of harm’s way. It was the summer of Bird, it was the summer I fell in love..."

Discover more about Avril on her blog 

or her novel Blood Tide


All entries were judged by a panel  of five:-

Richard Beard, Director of the National Academy of Writers

Fanny Blake, novelist, journalist and Books Editor of Women and Home

Gary Kemp, actor, writer and Spandau Ballet guitarist

Victoria Hislop, best-selling novelist

 

Sincere Congratulations to Avril - fingers crossed for the 29th January.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013


Stop Press: Calling all short story writers and readers...


The Costa Book Awards started life in 1971 as the Whitbread Literary Awards. From 1985 they were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2006, when Costa Coffee took over ownership from Whitbread.

The Costa Book Awards is one of the UK's most prestigious and popular literary prizes and recognises some of the most enjoyable books of the year by writers based in the UK and Ireland.
It's unique for having five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children's Book.

The winner in each category receives £5,000, and then one of the five winning books is selected as the overall Costa Book of the Year, receiving a further £30,000, and making a total prize fund of £55,000. The Costa is the only prize which places children's books alongside adult books in this way.

New for 2012, the Costa Short Story Award was announced. This is an award for a single story and was not be voted for against the other categories. Over 1800 entries were received, all of which were judged anonymously. The six shortlisted stories were available for the public to download, read and vote for from the end of November 2012.

Voting closed at 12 noon today, Wednesday, 23rd January.

The six anonymous stories are:-
Dislocation
Don’t Try This At Home
Millie and Bird
Mown Grass
Small Town Removal
Trompette de la Morte

Hopefully, you will have download the six stories and voted for your favourite.

The winner of the Short Story Award, together with the overall Costa Book of the Year winner, will be announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in London on Tuesday, 29th January.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


Calling all short story writers


Stop Press

The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award is worth £30,000 to the winner and is open to English language stories of up to 6,000 words. The closing date for entries is 10.00am on Friday September 21st.

Enrty forms and full terms and conditions can be found at thesundaytimes.co.uk/shortstoryaward and at booktrust.org.uk/sundaytimesEFG

Good Luck!

Be Your Own Editor


Put Yourself Through My Fact and Fiction Workshop 

(This workshop was developed with writer Hannah Juby who edits articles and university theses, We thought that editing fact and fiction had much in common and developed the workshop with this in mind.)

The Process

Micro-editing - examining text line by line, word by word, to ensure accuracy, flow, clarity and style.

Macro-editing – considering the text in terms of structure, purpose (is it clear what the text is trying to achieve; does it achieve this?), development of argument/story, appropriate connections, clear communication, appropriate evidence/details, style, etc.)

Editing on the page
Amendments may be written:
·         onto a hard copy of the document;
·         inserted on-screen into an electronic version of the document, using a programme such as ‘Tracked Changes’ on Microsoft Word.
·         notes on a separate piece of paper, rather than having crossings-out etc. on the document itself.

Tips:
  • Before you begin editing, quickly read through the whole document.
  • Keep a clean copy of the chapter whether hard copy or electronic, and create a new copy on which to make notes, suggestions and corrections.
  • On hard copy, always make remarks etc. in pencil rather than in pen. (Still amenable to alterations) .
  • On-screen, using a programme like ‘Tracked Changes’     enables you to see all insertions and deletions. The changes aren’t final until accepted or rejected by you in the final copy.
  • You will be more effective in editing your own work if you can make it seem strange to yourself, so that you can be more objective about it. A good way of doing this is to leave it for  some time before coming back to it. (This is not always possible, I know.)
  • Make a written summary (or footnotes/comments in an on-screen edit) as aide-memoires for the next stage. It might be useful to get someone else to do this for you if you are editing your own work.
  • Discussing the document with an outsider will help you to clarify your basic concept or idea and the overall shape of the work.
  • Consistently mark up passages or sections which impress you and work well in the context of the text as a whole.
  • Then read each chapter in detail using  micro- and macro-editing, applying your preferred approach.