Who We Are

Based in Hastings, East Sussex, we share a passion for writing.

We come from many different backgrounds and have diverse writing experience. Some have had short stories, poems, letters or articles published in magazines, whilst others have novels or non-fiction books to their credit. However, we also welcome people who still aspire to publication, as well as those who are happy to write just for themselves and family or friends. See the Members page for our details.

We aim to help all our members develop their writing skills by providing a varied and interesting programme of meetings, and offering constructive feedback on their work in a supportive and friendly atmosphere.

The group meets fortnightly, in Hastings.  Our activities include varied competitions with guest judges, speakers, manuscript evenings, workshops and fun evenings.  We aim to offer something for everyone who enjoys writing.  From time to time we also organise events for both members and the public to attend.

Interested in Joining?

If you would like to know more about our activities, or are interested in joining the group, please contact us.

Otherwise, we meet at 7:30 p.m. at the White Rock Hotel, Hastings. The meeting dates can be found on the What’s On page. All are welcome to come along for a free ‘taster’ evening. At this, you might want to just watch, take part or share with us what your hopes for writing maybe (be they recreational or other aspirations, up to and including publication) and how the group could help you achieve them.

We also have a Facebook page, if you would like to follow us. https://www.facebook.com/HastingsWritersGroup/


Face to face meetings are CANCELLED following  government rules introduced in September.  However, they will go online and a new programme (via Zoom) is currently being drafted.

This will include:

  • Remote meetings of the group as a whole.
  • Several meetings of breakout groups to discuss members’ work in progress  in accordance with members’ needs and preferences. These have been very well received to date. It is likely they will continue, whatever the restrictions.

Hastings Writers Group is in its eighth  decade and has seen and carried on through a lot of history, as it will through this current pandemic.

Please continue to check the website, our Facebook page and e-mail bulletins for news.

Annual Presentation Evening – December 2019

Writer of the Year 2019:
Roz Balp
Catherine Cookson Cup 2019:
1 Sandra Daniels – The Anniversary
2 Marcia Woolf – Fair Exchange
Joint 3 – Toby Sargent- Brains, Kindness and Psychopathy
John Taylor- The Lifeguard
Congratulations to all who participated throughout the year!
We are also very grateful for the attention of our judges for their invaluable feedback.

A Word About the Competitions

Members have found these exercises invaluable in honing their writing by trying new formats and genres they may not have previously entertained.

All competitions are decided on by vote at our Annual General Meeting every January; the members decide the subjects/formats. 

The judges are invited because of their accomplishment in the field, subject or genre of the competition.

All feedback is constructive and always useful. 

There is absolutely no obligation to submit a piece. Indeed hearing others read their work is rewarding  and can provide inspiration for yourself!

Competition, July 2020: The Biography of a Historical figure

Despite the travails of this pandemic, our members continue to produce sterling work! Well done to all and a huge thank you to our judge and mentor for this exercise, Ann Kramer, author of Landgirls and Their Impact and Women Wartime Spies.

1st “The Fastest Girl on Earth”: Vicky Armstrong

2nd “The Tragic Tale of Jacco Macacco”: Sandra Daniels

3rd “Nicholas Ridley”: Toby Sargent

4th “Madam CJ Walker”: Lorna Thompson

Poetry Competition, May 2020: Nonsense Verse

This is the first competition during the current pandemic. Submissions were e-mailed to the judge with feedback to participants. Well done to all.

1st Liz Caluori “The Games”

2nd Sam Davey “What Nonsense”

3rd Vicky Armstrong “Extinction Rebellion”

4th Hilary Mackleden “The Frumpet”


Wild Card Competition – A Ghost Story- March 2020

A huge thank you to Diny Van Kleeff, author, creative writing teacher and ghost hunter(!).  Diny’s feedback and thoughts on supernatural fiction was very well received by all members.
Winners are as follows:
1 Hilary Mackleden: A Night in Passchendaele
2 Roz Balp: The Last Day
3 Marcia Woolf :An Ideal Home
4 Sandra Daniels: The Lady of the Lace

Other Worlds – Dystopian or Utopian Competition- November 2019

1 Vicky Armstrong, Chicken Licken
2 Johnny di Girolamo, Unity
3 Roz Balp, The Purging of Do’Brah
4 Sam Davey, Greater Love
We are indebted to Jac Kattaneo who, as our judge wove her feedback on the submissions seamlessly into her life and work with dystopian fiction.

Results of the Drama Competition: A one-act play incorporating an established literary figure – October 2019

1. Roz Balp: ‘Nil Desperandum, Jeeves’
2. Hilary Mackleden: ‘The Young Arthur’
3. Vicky Armstrong: ‘Bibendum’
4. Toby Sargent: ‘Rupert and the Long Arm of the Law’

Results of the “My Worst” Competition – July 2019

1. Caroline Wardle ” My Worst Case”
2. Roz Balp “My Worst Driving Test”
3. Vicky Armstrong ” Future Perfect”
4. Hilary Mackleden “My Worst … Day at Work”
Highly commended: Godfrey Forder “God Bless Ronald MacDonald”
A big ‘Thank You’ to Rohan Jayasekera who gave great insight with his feedback on the submitted work and an illuminating story of his life and work as a journalist and foreign correspondent.

Results of the Psychological Drama Competition – May 2019

1 – Roz Balp “Worth the Risk”
2 – Johnny di Girolamo ” “Wasuremono”
3 – Caroline Wardle “Into the Fire”
4 – Hilary Mackleden “Trapped in the Lift”.



Monday 13th May 2019- Feedback on the Psychological Thriller Competiton 

This evening we welcomed local crime writer Chris Curran (pictured right below with HWG Chair, Amanda Giles). Chris gave us a very interesting and amusing account of her journey to becoming a published author, the good times and the disappointments, and answered questions from members. Having judged our entries to the psychological thriller story competition, Chris gave general feedback to the group before discussing each entry individually. Members who had entered stories were extremely grateful for the detailed written critiques they received. The judging was as follows: In fourth place, ‘Trapped in the Lift’ by Hilary Mackleden; in third place, ‘Into the Fire’ by Caroline Wardle; second place went to Johnny di Girolamo for ‘Wasuremono’; and the winner was Roz Balp with ‘Worth the Risk’.

April 15 2019 – Writing Fight Scenes

With the focus on ‘Getting it Right’, Dave Baker lead a workshop on writing fight scenes. Illustrated by live demonstrations on his lifelong friend Wally, and his wife Suzy, Dave showed members a range of fighting and defensive techniques. He also gave a lot of fascinating information about the importance of considering the physical environment the fight is set in, the motivation and frame of mind of protagonist, and the reactions of any other characters present. We considered different weapons, including blades and firearms, the injuries they cause and possible defensive moves. Dave also gave some gruesome but thought-provoking anecdotes from his medical imaging work and his experiences in the military.  

Programme of Future Meetings