What Students Say…..

Juliet Sellars I was absolutely thrilled to learn I had won the first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Short Story Competition with my very first attempt at fiction. It was a story I had begun in my first week of the ‘Get Started, Keep Going’ course with Chalk the Sun. Ardella Jones, teacher extraordinaire, pushed me from the start, encouraging, editing and asking for rewrite after rewrite but it paid off and I can only thank her for being so supportive and inspiring.” Juliet Sellars, a designer  from Balham
View Juliet’s winning story here     

DSCN3094quoteArdella Jones and Jo Hepplewhite miss nothing and to listen to them dissect and reconstruct a story so that it becomes something ten times more intriguing than it was at first draft stage is something to behold. You will also laugh a lot and have a ball, but for me it’s that forensic eye for which I am truly grateful. I became a better writer.  Sally Nettleton, film editor, Morden

Lesley Strachan

Lesley Strachan

quoteI found the sessions on the Italian retreat great fun but at the same time I really appreciated the structured building blocks of exercises we were given to do. I applied the session to my afternoon writing attempts – and was really pleased with the results. Food for thought – and lovely food it was too! Lesley Strachan, theatre director and arts editor at Radio Wandsworth   Lesley’s intriguing tale about Noel Coward in Vegas was voted best story at the 2015 retreat

Alina Baczynska reads her work at the Italian retreat

Alina Baczynska won the short story competition at the Italian retreat 2014

quote Monthly Writers’ Room sessions have given me focus and new techniques but the Italian Writing Retreat really gave me space to develop my novel with one-to-one tuition and workshops in lovely surroundings. Alina Baczynska, Administrator, Clapham

 Read Alina’s winning story here

David Allan Petale

quoteI met Ardella Jones from Chalk The Sun outside a bookshop in Balham where she thrust a pamphlet in my hand, saying, “You look creative, come to a writing class.” I did, and I’ve now written my first novel, which drew upon all the skills and creativity I uncovered with the help of Chalk’s razor sharp tutors Ardella, Jo Hepplewhite, Johnny Wolfman and Simona Sideri. I attended weekly classes, the Italian retreat, and the odd workshop and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with people just like me, mad about books and writing and combining it all with a few sneaky beverages.The mixture of fun and forensic attention to detail, style and expression is welcoming for the first timer, a kick in the backside when you’re struggling and a slingshot as you’re finishing. David Allan Petale, journalist, shortlisted for The Australian/Vogel Award for Novelists 2017, Perth, Australia

 Jo and Ardella of Chalk the Sun are an expert double-act who bring a lot of fun and insight to creative writing. Rob West, film-maker, Balham
View a sample of Rob’s work here 

 I just wanted to say how fab Chalk the Sun is. I’ve been to a few writing groups over the years and Chalk the Sun is the best I’ve been to. I am learning so much from the coverage given to a variety of formats and the different speakers, all with their unique approaches to common themes such as character, plot, voice and dialogue. The exercises in the sessions are really helpful, too, even when I’ve not quite got it, I’m learning so much from that deviation!Secondly, I found Gillian Corderoy’s session on children’s animation particularly inspiring, and have brainstormed some ideas for characters in a children’s animated series. I have used the framework for developing my character profiles that was suggested by Danusia Iwaszko in her equally inspiring session. Catherine Veitch, senior editor, children’s publishing, High Wycombe

 It could be argued that travelling across the world to attend a five day writing course is a little on the excessive side of “giving it a go”, but boy am I glad I did! What could possibly need justifying – writing under the Italian sun, shaded by ancient olive trees, stopping only to dip into the Adriatic Sea or indulge in delicious food and wine and enjoy fantastic company. But more than the idyllic week itself is what I have taken away from it – that immeasurable thing called inspiration. Thank you Chalk The Sun for providing the opportunity, guidance and tools for me to uncover it again. Dawn Yates, actor, Perth, Australia

Tool Box student, Channa Karunaratne, an engineering consultant from Balham

 Joining Chalk the Sun has really built my confidence as a writer. Before I joined I had not let anyone read my work. Now, I can’t wait to read out my latest effort in class. It’s fantastic to have a sympathetic audience that provide hugely constructive feedback. As an added bonus working in a group is really helpful as you see different writing styles and get to meet like minded individuals.  Channa Karunaratne, an engineering consultant from Balham (sporting a sponsored moustache for Movember to raise money for prostate cancer research).
View a sample of Channa’s work here

Elisa Webb, lecturer,, Tooting The novelists group really does take my work up to the next level, and easily compares to my MA course in terms of standard and commitment (and it doesn’t cost £4K!). Elisa Webb, author of Darkling Park (Patrician Press 2016), Tooting
View a sample of Elisa’s work here

DSCN3078  quoteA former pupil of Ardella, when I heard of the grand plan for Chalk the Sun my immediate reaction was one of terror, way out of my depth, never would I survive in such exalted company. After all I am only a simple steel erector, more comfortable with a podger* [spanner] than a pen. More manual than mental if you get my drift [tapered steel pin]. I need not have worried, Jo and Ardella cater for each individual need. How they managed to tap into something I never thought I possessed, I’ll never know. This dedicated duo’s a class act, always there to point you in the right direction with lots of help and encouragement. After five years, I still find it a joy to be in class, a real feel good factor. I go home fired up and on a high!  Jim “Spiderman” Sanderson, steel erector  

Jim now writes poems for children for Storybox magazine.

View a sample of Jim’s work here

Journalist, Alex Blyth from Brighton  For years I’ve started short stories and novels, but have given up on most and thrown away the rest. So, when I saw an ad for a creative writing class I was interested; when I saw it was in a local pub I was sold. I learnt a huge amount in just the first five-week term, I had a lot of fun, and best of all, I gained the confidence to enter one of my stories, The Banner Maker, into a Writers’ Forum contest. To my immense surprise it won £300 and was published. It sounds cheesy, but it really is true: I couldn’t have done it without Chalk the Sun! Alex Blyth, a journalist from Brighton, wrote his short story, The Banner Maker, in response to a Chalk the Sun exercise on theme and sub-plot.  He was pleasantly surprised when it won A Writers’ Forum prize for Best Short Story in May 2011.
View a sample of Alex’s work here

Jerilyn Bence I’d always wanted to write, but never had the confidence or knowledge to know how to go about it.  With excellent tutors giving encouragement, constructive criticism and advice, I really look forward to each session. It’s serious, but not too serious, and I’ve had fun with Sunchalkers outside the classes too, from impromptu drinks in the bar to the fantastic residential writing workshop in Italy. Jerilyn Bence is a busy mother and grandmother from Clapham 
View a sample of Jerilyn’s work here 

Fiona Parker Cole I highly recommend the Chalk the Sun residential course. Finding the time to write amidst the chaos of family life is sometimes a struggle, but the warm sunshine, beautiful setting and sumptuous food at Impisi made it an inspiring location. The peace to write with fun, like-minded writers has given me such a great boost. Best of all, the concentrated time with the tutors gave me a clear vision for my novel. I came away feeling inspired and refreshed. Dr. Fiona Parker Cole, Kent  Fiona Parker Cole, right, with Shelley Hoppe, left 
View a sample of Fiona’s work here 

 Jonathan Wolfman is a structural genius who gets right to the heart of problems with storyline and characterisation. Carla Libanati, Teacher, Streatham

 I’ve always fancied myself as a ‘real’ writer (as opposed to the corporate stuff I do for a living) and have tried quite a few disappointing courses over the years…until I found Chalk the Sun. Instead of fobbing you off with lame exercises and polite (but rather useless) ‘feedback’ from classmates, Ardella and Jo spend time reading your work themselves, and they tell you what’s bad as well as what’s good about your work. They also provide lively, fun and genuinely stimulating course materials and lessons – and they do it in the pub. With cups of tea. And sometimes even biscuits. What’s not to love? Shelley Hoppe, Director, Spoon Agency, Balham

  I have been loving the workshops this year and all of the excellent guest speakers.” Helen Shewry, child carer, Middlesex, Children’s Fiction 


 Inspirational teaching which builds confidence and definitely helped me publish my stories as well as improving my plays. Robin Miller, Actor, Twickenham

 Writing kept my brain functioning – there is creativity after Motherhood! Anne Marie Turner, PA and Mum, Tooting

 Chalk the Sun worked with me on my novel with personalised exercises and spot on advice via email not to mention a few laughs on Skype. Nick Kaye, Grand Cayman, BWI

 Try “Chalk the Sun” run by Ardella Jones (ex South Thames College Creative Writing tutor, poet and all round “good egg”), I found the course very constructive and motivating. They have fired up me to complete my book that I started two years ago and I am now using their manuscript reading services for a final edit before sending to agents. Colin Bruce, Retired Business Owner, Wimbledon

 I love this course. It feels totally self-indulgent to be creative for three hours on a Saturday afternoon with an eclectic, interesting and talented bunch of like minded people. E. Smith, Parent and Teacher, Tooting

 Ardella and Jo have a great teaching style that takes into account different levels of experience and ability. After each session I come away fired up and ready to write so it really works to keep me motivated. Julia Haythorn, Director Presentation Skills Company, Fitzrovia