Monday, 14 October 2013


Please check out our  new Room To Write website  at

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.



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

Friday, 5 April 2013


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