Writing prompt – travel

Twin Blue and Green Lakes, Sete Cidades cr Judy DarleyI often find myself moved to write strange and dreamy fictions while travelling. For instance, my story Two Pools of Water, inspired by a trip to the Azores, and published this week by dear damsels.

Think of a place you’ve visited far from and as unalike home as possible, and use that as the setting for a story. If you can weave in a bit of local legend, so much the better!

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

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Hay Festival 24 May-3 June 2018

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

I remember visiting Hay-on-Wye as a child and being entranced by this place built, it seemed, entirely on, around and with books. Yet I’ve never yet made it to any of the much lauded Hay Festivals (have you noticed how they’ve spread throughout the world? Good to know that the love of the written word is so contagious).

The festival runs from 24th May – 3rd June. The events are too many to list here, but include the Hay on Earth Forum, music from the likes of singer-songwriter Jake Bugg, and features Sarah Corbett speaking on the powers of Craftivism. The festival retains a healthy literature section, with introductions from exciting Latin American writers, conversations with recipients of the Man Booker prize, Icelandic Literature Prize and others, plus numerous readings from rising literary stars.

Roddy Doyle will offer his insights and humour, Simon Mayo will discuss his debut novel, and Margaret Atwood will talk about a new generation discovering The Handmaid’s Tale.

Get your tickets from www.hayfestival.com. And if you’re lucky enough to attend any of the events, please let me know! I’d love to publish your festival review on SkyLightRain.com. Just email me at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

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Textures of the River Lea

Bow Arts Raw Materials Textiles Installation View 74When is a ream of rope more than a ream of rope? When it’s an art installation, of course!

Running until 24th June 2018, Raw Materials: Textiles celebrates the historic textile trade that once thrived along the River Lea. Taking place at Bow Arts Nunnery Gallery (Nunnery Gallery, Bow Arts, 181 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ) and supported by The National Lottery with funds awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund, it’s a chance to experience the textures of London’s textile heritage in vivid detail.

It’s also an exceptional opportunity to soak up stories of silk-weaving, calico printing, jute spinning and the invention of dye colours – the jobs that once areas including Hackney Wick, Stratford, West Ham and Walthamstow with activity.

Images, from left printed cotton, Robert Jones & Co, Old Ford, English 1769 cr Victoria and Albert Museum, London, family photograph, courtesy Sam Stockman, Freya Gabie, research experiment for Before, After and Between 2018 cr Freya Gabie

Images, from left printed cotton, Robert Jones & Co, Old Ford, English 1769 cr Victoria and Albert Museum, London, family photograph, courtesy Sam Stockman, Freya Gabie, research experiment for Before, After and Between 2018 cr Freya Gabie

Exhibits include loans of historic fabric produced in the area, such as the Georgian calico from Old Ford courtesy of the V&A, shown above. There’s also a River Lea-inspired design by William Morris.

Bow Arts Raw Materials Textiles Installation View High Res-45

The curators say: “Newly commissioned work will also be unveiled from resident artists Freya Gabie,whose conceptual sculpture explores trinitrotoluene, the yellow dye that was later used as an explosive – and Sarah Desmarias, whose textiles use traditional dye and printing methods, including the dye-fast use of the colour madder that was first patented in Hackney Wick.”

Bow Arts Raw Materials Textiles Installation View High Res-61

They add: “Working with project partners that include local archives, London College of Fashion, Jewish Museum London and the V&A, much of the exhibition content has been driven by a community steering group, keen to unearth the stories of their local area’s past.”

Alongside the show you can dig into a lively event programme, including walking and boat tours along the River Lea, artist-led workshops and panel discussions.

Find full details here www.bowarts.org/nunnery/raw-materials-textiles.

Got an event, exhibition, venue, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley(at)iCloud(dot)com.

Writing prompt – tension

Storm in Bristol by Judy DarleySome storms sweep in fast and transform the world, if only for a few wracked hours. Create a scene with a moment of tension that builds and breaks in rhythm with rain, wind and thunder. A marital spat, sibling rivalry, two strangers misconstruing an encounter…

Try writing the scene inside, with rain streaking the window as lightning flashes, and then shove your characters out into the weather to see what impact this has.

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

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The Fiction Desk’s Newcomer Prize

Flash fictionThe Fiction Desk’s Newcomer Prize specifically seeks writing from new authors. It’s only open to writers who have not been previously published by The Fiction Desk, and who have not yet published a novel or collection of short stories in print.

The deadline for entries is Thursday 31st May 2018.

They say: “If you’re looking for inspiration, the winning stories from last year’s competition will appear in our next anthology, due this spring. Why not subscribe to the anthology series and receive your copy as soon as it’s published?”

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Green Island

Logoa do Fogo, Sao Miguel by Judy Darley

Logoa do Fogo, Sao Miguel

My travel feature on the tranquility of Sao Miguel, one of the Azores islands, was recently published by In The Moment magazine. It provided a wonderful chance for me to re-live the beauty of that Portuguese isle.

You can buy back issues of In The Moment here. My feature appeared in issue 10.

This is my third feature published about that trip, the previous ones being published in Wedding ideas magazine and A Year In Portugal journal.

I’ve also had a piece published about a somewhat chillier visit to Iceland in Balance magazine. Love getting out to see the world and sharing my discoveries!

Icelandic Thrills feature by Judy Darley

Writing prompt – tunnels

River Avon tunnels, Bristol cr Judy DarleyIt’s so strange what you can see a hundred times without really taking in. These tunnels pass from the River Avon and travel beneath a Bristol street, but where could they lead? Why purpose might they have?

Write a story exploring these dark, watery underground channels.

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Book review – Dip Flash by Jonathan Pinnock

Dip Flash by Jonathan PinnockThe tales in Jonathan Pinnock’s collection quiver on the page, ready to leap in unexpected directions. Hold on tight and they’ll carry you with them, into worlds where the peculiar is commonplace and some things, including houses, refuse to stay where you left them. Pinnock manages to compress entire worlds into a paragraph or two, where the laws of physics are subtly unaligned with our own.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of Pinnock’s unique viewpoint previously, I can assure you you’re in for a heady ride. As the curator of comic poetry site Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, it’s clear that irreverence is a vital ingredient of this author’s often thought-provoking works.

Meet a man whose date decides to up and leave (sounds normal? Wait till you read the tale Dinner With Sylvia), spend time with a women who carries a curiously voyeuristic creature in a octagonal cage, encounter three hundred and sixty thousand bees, and have a chat with a saint called Geoff. See through the eyes of a ventriloquist’s dummy. Discover how your Granny could become a financial asset. Learn to expect the real and unreal to knit around one another in an unfathomable intricacy. Sleep deprivation, unrequited love and astral hi-jinks all have their vital roles under Pinnock’s narrowed gaze.

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Enter Frome Festival Short Story Competition

Frome rooftopsPart of the Frome Festival 2018Frome Festival Short Story Competition welcomes submissions, with a deadline of 31st May 2018.

This small Somerset town of layered roofs is set roughly between Bath and Taunton has become a hive for writers, with the  annual festival featuring writing residencies throughout the small, characterful shops, and street performances seemingly on every corner.

The competition costs £8 to enter.

Stories may be on any theme, but must be between 1,000 and 2,200 words in length, not including the title.

First prize is £400, second prize £200 and third prize £100.

There will also be special awards for writers living within a 25-mile radius of Frome Library, in a bid to support and encourage local writers.

The Frome Festival is well worth visiting for its own charms, especially the incredible busking that takes place throughout the narrow streets.

For full details visit the competition website.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley(at)iCould(dot)com.

Writing prompt – pineapple

Pineapple cr Judy DarleyThere’s a man in Bristol who spends his days dreaming up new creations, and his nights building extraordinary sculptures. Each one is formed from those rubbery yellow cladding that swathes scaffolding poles in situ.

Some say he’s a vandal and a thief, costing construction firms time and money, but in a city where street art is a tourist attraction, these bright yellow explosions seem like a means to stay sane in treacherous circumstances while spreading a little joy.

What do you think? Use this as the starting point of some creativity of your own.

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.