Enter the Tillie Olsen Short Story Award

Solive Winery, tractor cr Judy DarleyThe Tishman Review is open for entries to their short story competition in honour of author Tillie Olsen.

“Olsen is one of our heroes,” says the magazine’s co-founder and prose editor Jennifer Porter. “She was born in 1912 on a tenant farm in Nebraska, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. Early in her life, she began crusading for worker rights, jailed for organising packinghouse workers and for participating in strikes. She continued working as an activist her entire life. (…) Olsen died at the age of 95 – a mother, grandmother, award-winning writer, feminist, and human rights and anti-war activist.”

Tell Me A Riddle by Tillie OlsenOlsen was the author of the short story collection Tell Me a Riddle and her story Requa I appeared in the publication Best American Short Stories 1971. She also wrote journalistic pieces from the 1930s about the struggle for economic justice.

Entries are invited of unpublished (including online and personal blogs) short stories not longer than 5,000 words in length. Manuscripts and file names must not contain any identifying information. Make sure you follow the formatting guidelines!

All entries must be received through Submittable with the $15 entry fee per story.

The closing date for entries is 30th March 2018.

The final judge is author Tori Malcangio.

Contest winners will be announced on 30th July 2018. The winner will receive $500 and publication in the July issue of The Tishman Review.

All entrants will receive a one-year e-book subscription to The Tishman Review.

Find full details of the Tillie Olsen Short Story Award.

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




The power in portraiture

Untitled 2 by Hatty Butler

Vigorous brushstrokes, spray paint and mixed media give Hatty Butler’s portraits an uncommon vitality. They have statements to make and personalities to exude, and little time or patience for the uncertain viewer.

“I’m drawn to painting people because the idea of representing someone in a new form fascinates me,” says Hatty, who studied BA Hons Fine Art at Bath Spa University. “I love creating an image of someone and bringing it into a whole new dimension, giving the individual a new life. The concept of bringing a likeness of the person the painting yet adding a contemporary, energetic aspect is, for me, hugely exciting and inspiring.”

The scale of the pieces is immense: it’s as though their fizzing force of character has transformed them into giants.

Hatty Butler, artist

“The energies and emotions I aim to capture of those just under the surface, those that we may try and hide in day to day life,” Hatty says. “It’s all about those feelings of vulnerability and a stripped back version of our existence.”

Pink Is For Me Too by Hatty Butler

Pink Is For Me Too by Hatty Butler

She adds: “I am also passionate about portraying individuals that may be overlooked or criticised by society for being different. We live in a society where the abnormal is sometimes laughed at and my aim is to alter these outdated views. Art can be the most innovative and compelling means of providing change within our society. I challenge the viewer, encouraging them to look deeper into the painting than just the portrait itself, to raise internal issues and try to comprehend them.”

My Hair Is Pink, So What? by Hatty Butler

My Hair Is Pink, So What? by Hatty Butler

Hatty’s own mood shifts drastically while she is painting. “At the start of creating a new piece I feel a mixture of excitement for the unknown, yet also apprehensive how it will turn out,” she admits. “I never plan ahead what direction the piece will take – it grows and evolves as time goes on. I love the freedom of adding pastel and spray paint once the finer details have been completed. It is a liberating and fulfilling experience.”

April by Hatty Butler

April by Hatty Butler

She’s become an expert at melding the observed and invented in her work.

“I tend to makes initial sketches from life and then work from a series of photographs,” Hatty says. “A lot comes from my imagination too – my work is a representation of the subjects inner being, I only focus slightly on the external likeness. For me it is more about externalising the internal.”

I Am Strong, I Am Proud, I Am Me by Hatty Butler'

I Am Strong, I Am Proud, I Am Me by Hatty Butler’

To do this, Hatty needs to set aside her own immediate feelings. “That’s the greatest challenge of trying to represent the internal through painting the external – I need to be able to be honest and not portray my own internal emotions,” she says. “The work needs to represent the characteristics of the subject initially.”

Twenty-one by Hatty Butler

Twenty-one by Hatty Butler

Being an artist, Hatty says, offers a wonderful sense of freedom. “To live a creative life is such a special thing and while it comes with its struggles I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says. “I relish having the freedom to express myself and spend every day doing something that I love. I love what I do, creating things that did not exist before, that are unique and that touch other people. As an artist, I see the beauty in things that are often overlooked. Without art the world could be a very boring place. It’s so important that we take a moment to appreciate what’s around us.”

To see more of Hatty’s work, visit www.hattybutler.com, and look out for news of upcoming exhibitions.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.



Writing prompt – dream

Cat dreaming cr Judy DarleySomething about this sleeping cat reminds me of the Salvador Dali painting snappily titled Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening

What sounds might be contributing to this cat’s dreams? How surreal might those dreams be? And what if those dreams somehow influenced the world we live in?

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.



Micro-Fiction competition invites entries

Buttons cr Judy DarleyI’m a fan of flash fiction that packs an emotional wallop ­– such a challenge to achieve in only a handful of words!

National Flash-Fiction Day returns on 16th June 2018, and celebrates this short-short form in all its glory.

As part of the build up, their annual Micro-Fiction competition is open for entries of 100 words or fewer. There is no minimum word count.

The deadline is 23:59 (UK time) on 17th March 2018, so you just have time to string a few powerful, carefully selected words together. No problem, right?!

This year, entries are free. You’re invited to submit up to three flash fictions on any theme.

Find competition rules, terms and conditions, and the full list of prizes at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/comp.html




Garden of culinary delights

The Florist interior by Judy Darley

If you knew and loved Goldbrick House in Bristol, you may be aware that a new company has finally taken root in this amazing building, reopening its doors just over a week ago. With a light and airy flower-strewn interior, The Florist makes the most of the eclectic spaces in that hub, with café corners, a bar with DJs after dark and a stunning restaurant all ready for you to explore.

Stairways and walls are decorated with prints and presses of petals, feathers and leaves, while silk blooms pour from ceilings. It’s rather like stepping into a gloriously extravagant potting shed.

But it’s the menus where The Florist really excels. Already well-established in Liverpool, their Bristol location seems set to become equally popular. Lunchtime cocktails, you ask?  While Mr J perused the Anthology of Ales, I delved into chapters devoted to divine concoctions, opting at last for Rhubarb In Bloom (£8.50), a fruity blend of Slingsby rhubarb gin, rhubarb and ginger liqueur, green apple liqueur raspberry syrup and ginger ale. Gorgeous.

The Florist olives by Judy Darley

We nibbled on taut green olives while choosing our main courses. As a fan of small plates and lots of varied flavours, I found the deli board (£11.50) irresistible – brilliantly you get to mix and match an assortment of four mini plates, or more if you’re extra hungry, to create your perfect plate.

The Florist Deli plate by Judy DarleyI opted for chilled chalk stream trout, mango and lime cerviche (sweet and tenderly meaty), a Dolcelatte cheese, poached pear and candied walnut salad, a generous wedge of firm Manchego sheep cheese (which I’ve been in love with ever since discovering it in Spain), and an indulgent serving of macaroni cheese, made with a 2-year aged Shorrock Lancashire. Every mouthful was a mini-adventure as hot and cold, sweet and savoury, components mingled on my tongue.

Mr J ordered the cod, king prawn and chorizo kebab (£11.75) with harissa chips and garlic oil, the latter poured with a flourish by our waitress through the perforated dish at the top to drizzle the fish, meat and chips in a fun bit of table theatre.

The Florist Lavender Thistle by Judy DarleyAs icy rain assaulted the windows, I resolutely pretended it was summer and sipped the Lavender Thistle (£7.95), chosen from the English Flower Garden section of the cocktail menu. Marrying Brockman’s blueberry gin, blueberry liqueur, lavender bitters and vanilla liqueur, and with a tangible hint of Palma Violet about it, this was the perfect accompaniment to my dessert. I’d decided to go all out on the floral theme and selected the elderflower meringue with caramelised peaches, dinky cubes of clear prosecco jelly, dabs of rich red raspberry coulis and a scattering of toasted almonds (£5.50). Light, luscious and perfectly indulgent, it was the ideal finish to a meal that had toyed with every tastebud without weighing me down.

The Florist Elderflower meringue dessert by Judy Darley

Mr J went with the waitress’s recommendation and wallowed happily in a warming sticky toffee pud, complete with toasted a sesame and peanut sauce topped with vanilla ice cream (£5.95).

It’s impressive to find a place that can create two very different meals for two utterly different palettes, and ensure that every bite, sip and lick is delicious. The secret to The Florist’s success lies in thoughtfully sourced, ultra fresh ingredients put together with care to create a dining experience that will feed all your senses.

Find The Florist at 69 Park Street, Bristol BS1 5PB, tel: 0117 2034284, theflorist.uk.com

Got an event, 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 – snow day

Snow Day by Judy DarleyIt’s hard to believe that this happened less than a week ago. I love all the activity happening in this image, all the different interactions, collisions and connections – not least  between the two dogs on the lower lefthand side.

Let this vibrant scene prompt a story. Whose tale do you want to tell? Or which tail do you want to wag?

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.




Flamingos and Ham – flash fiction

Flamingos and Ham by Judy DarleyMy very short dystopian tale Flamingos and Ham has been published by Ellipsis Zine Two. It offers a glimpse of a future that a certain D. Trump esquire would undoubtedly heartily approve of, and was inspired in part by 2017’s heartfelt Women’s Marches and the Pussyhat’s that provided a vivid flash of pink to the ensembles.

Ellipsis Zine TwoYou’ll need to buy the magazine to read the story in full (or wait for my next short story collection to come out in 2019 – squeee!). Here’s a sneaky taster:

Flamingos and Ham by Judy Darley

I was 12 when the ruling came in, banning certain words, colours, and clothing. It seemed farcical at first. My mum and dad laughed in disbelief as they watched the news.

“How can they outlaw pink?” Dad hooted. “What about flamingos and… and, ham?!”

Mum grimaced. “How can they forbid hats, and wool? What are they afraid of?”

Neither mentioned the words considered inflammatory. I think they understood even then that to utter them aloud could be dangerous.

Buy Ellipsis Zine Two.



From waste to want want want!

Upcycled spoon handles into earrings-www.phipholle.co.uk

Upcycled spoon handles into earrings © Phipholle

With so much stuff in the world, it makes sense to me to reuse and refashion wherever possible.

Artist Delphine has woven this ethos into her work, transforming waste materials such as old paper, unwanted spoons and bottle-tops into covetable items of jewellery.

“In a period of my life where I was very short on money, I found myself surrounded by unwanted things, left for free on the street,” she recalls when asked how it all began. “I enjoyed digging into them, finding unusual things, old things or just useful nice things.”

Upcycled inner-tube earrings-www.phipholle.co.uk

Upcycled inner-tube earrings © Phipholle

This was about 10 years ago, when French-born Delphine was a student at the Art&Culture University of Lille in France. “At that time, each area had one special night per week where people were able to put whatever they did not want anymore – books, glasses, picture frames, sofas, tables, clothes, dishes – outside on the pavement,” she says. “During the night things were picked up, so quite a lot of people, including myself and my housemates, used to go for a special walk on those nights to find some treasures! Those nights were very exiting. It was like a Christmas each week. Some of the things we found were still in a very good condition, some were vintage and full of charm, some were partly broken but fixable. At first it was a way to find furniture, and then I found some very nice old papers, old fabrics, bits and bobs and started to collect all sorts of things.”

Upcycled paper into crane origami earrings-www.phipholle.co.uk

Upcycled paper into crane origami earrings © Phipholle

Delphine began upcycling her found oddments and offering them to friends and family. “I enjoyed the all process so MUCH!” she exclaims. “I love the idea of the history that’s carried in these pieces!”

Before long Delphine had her own thriving salvage arts and creations company, which she named Phipholle using her own old nickname (more recycling!).

Often, it’s the materials themselves that inspire what Delphine transforms them into. “It could be the colour, the texture, the design…” she says. “I don’t do anything to the materials. For the drink can earrings, I just find a design that I like on a drink can, cut it and wrap it around a paper clip. Sounds pretty basic, but if you do it properly and you choose a very nice part of the can’s design, the effect is astonishing. It’s the same for the cutlery jewellery. I find cutlery with beautiful designs, cut the part that I want, such as the handle, and make a pair of earrings with it. The material is just so beautiful by itself – I am just giving it a new purpose.”

Upcycled drink can earrings-www.phipholle.co.uk

Upcycled drink can earrings © Phipholle

Her acts of recycling offer a fresh way of regarding waste.

“People often miss the creative potential of materials,” she says. “Big waste companies know the commercial value of materials. Recycling is not just a green thing to do. It’s also a big business. In my work I just want to reveal the unexpected beauty of materials and show to people that they could have great fun making things themselves and in the same time recycling their waste!”

Her methods are fairly vintage too. “To make my jewellery, I use the technique of the origami making, and I hammer a lot on my anvil, as well as engraving. Most of my techniques don’t have any official name :)”

Delphine now runs regular recycling workshops.

“Making is very therapeutic,” she comments. “It works for myself and I wanted to share that. I thought that some adults might enjoyed making and might like the upcycling theme, and they did. There are many good reasons do to workshops with children too, but two main ones for me are awareness and education. If we teach the young the importance of reusing, recycling and the creative potential of upcycling, they might grow up to be responsible and aware adults who don’t drop their plastic and paper on the street, and who care for environment. And they might prompt their parents to care too!”

She hopes people come away from her workshops feeling positive and excited.

“I hope they gain confidence in themselves,” she says. “It’s already a big thing to come and try something new, but they are often proud of making something themselves and go back home with their creations and new skills.”

Wine bottle top necklaces-www.phipholle.co.uk

Wine bottle top necklaces © Phipholle

For Delphine, freedom is one of the main pleasures of being an artist. “I love being able to choose what I want to do, and which material to work with or not,” she says. “I have no boss! I am very flexible, and I don’t have official working time 🙂 Inspiring people is surely what I like the most.”

Delphine sells her upcycled treasures on art trails and in several shops across Bristol. You can see more of her creations, find out about the workshops she runs and gain upcycling inspiration of your own on her website www.phipholle.co.uk.

“You can also follow me on facebook (facebook/phipholle) and on Instagram (phipholleupcyclingcreations)”

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.



Writing prompt – strange fruit

Shoes in tree cr Judy DarleyMy nephew spotted this tree full of shoes and asked why people choose to do this with their footwear. I’ve heard a number of theories over the years, but love the fact no one quite seems to know a definitive answer.

Why not make up your own scenario that could explain this phenomena? What message might the shoe casters be trying to spread?

And how might the trees respond?

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.

A Poem to Remember competition

Red poppy by Judy Darley

Enter a new national poetry competition to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

You’re invited to breathe in the spirit of the Great War poets, and write a poem that honours those affected by service while paying tribute to humankind’s capacity to overcome adversity. The winner will receive a £2000 cash prize. Deadline 9th April 2018. 

The competition has been launched by the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC), itself a new organisation designed to become one of the world’s best clinical rehabilitation centres for the armed forces and potentially civilians too. Inspired by the war’s famous poets, including Wilfred Owen, Muriel Stuart and Siegfried Sassoon, they’re seeking poetry “that honours those affected by service and pays tribute to humankind’s capacity commemorate the moment the guns fell silent in the First World War. It will honour the fallen and those who took part, remembering that many survivors suffered very serious injury which affected the rest of their lives.”

The best five entries will be chosen by a panel of judges, chaired by historian Dan Snow, and then go to a public vote.

The winning entry will be read out by Prince William at the opening ceremony of the new Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre near Loughborough , and will be displayed prominently in perpetuity at the Centre.

The overall winner will receive a £2,000 cash prize, with four runners-up receiving £500. Only one entry is permitted per person. Poems must be no longer than 25 lines.

Closing dates for entries is 23.59pm GMT on April 9th, 2018.
For inspiration, read more about modern day soldier poets.

Find the full competition details, rules and terms and conditions here.

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