A creative writing workshop with Riptide

Michelle McKinney 'Migration' Image courtesy of Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter City CouncilYou may have noticed that quite a bit of my writing is inspired by art. To me, something about the two creative forms comes together really well, so an upcoming workshop with Riptide Journal editors Ginny Baily and Sally Flint seems utterly apt.

Ginny and Sally are running a day-long creative writing workshop at Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM) aimed at helping writers produce stories and poems inspired by art, such as this gorgeous contemporary piece by Michelle McKinney‘s Migration (Image courtesy of Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter City Council). The workshop takes place on Thursday February 21st 2013 and costs £25. Continue reading

Book review – Green Poems for a Blue Planet by Martin Kiszko

Green poems for a Blue Planet coverMartin Kiszko’s Green Poems for a Blue Planet offer the chance to take an irreverent, sometimes alarming, often hopeful journey through ecology.

With Nick Park’s quirky illustrations and Martin Kiszko’s astute yet comedic words, this poetry book is a rare treat for adults and children alike.

Martin highlights serious issues with such a deft touch that you’ll find yourself smiling even as you take on board his points about recycling and waste.

Despite the humour, the poems are also deeply thought-provoking, with lines in poems such as Street Names: “Places named after the trees that once lived there”, and My Natural History: “I took the path by the highway/Where my heartbeat could not be heard.” Continue reading


Moth cr Judy DarleyThis poem by Judy Darley was originally published in Connections: An Anthology of poetry and prose from Paragram and is posted here with the editor’s permission.

The winter after your diagnosis, small
creatures Invaded our home:
Golden bodied wolf spiders,
sly slugs that lay in wait
then burst into vivid viscous puddles
on being stepped on.

And moths, endless flickering
moths, threatening as yet undiscovered
holes. I told you about them,
and tried to blot out
the thought of your shrinking
lobe, the image of you
trying to connect the dots, match words
that no longer slotted into obvious spaces.

Fought the dread that eventually
all that would remain
would be the spaces.

Journalism jobs – Wild Travel magazine seeks Deputy Editor

Sepilok Orangutan, BorneoThis could be a dream job for an experienced journalist with a passion for wildlife and travel.

Based in Cheltenham, Wild Travel describes itself the UK’s only magazine dedicated to wildlife travel, covering everything from wildlife news, kit reviews and trip reports from writers on location, to wildlife destination guides, conservation reports and field guides to individual species. Continue reading

How to evoke a sense of place

Monsarez, AlentejoA version of this feature was originally published in the 100th issue of The New Writer magazine.

Judy Darley offers advice on capturing the essence of a place in journalistic and creative writing.

As a travel and fiction writer I have a strong awareness of the importance of a sense of place in all kinds of writing. Sights, sounds and smells all add up to an evocative image for the reader, and keep them interested in the story, whether it’s a piece of fiction or a feature.

Open any story or feature with a few words of description about where your scene is taking place, and you immediately provide the reader with a tangible image to hold on to as your tale unfurls. A location can set a tone, a mood, and conjure up an atmosphere far more adeptly than a lengthy description of your main actors’ feelings and actions. Continue reading

Successful short stories

Inkspill Magazine bannerI’m so excited to learn that Inkspill Magazine are planning to publish my short story ‘Buttonmaker’ in their next issue. which is due out later this month. Yay!

Another of my stories, ‘On The Ledge’ will be published by Fiction 365 in a couple of months’ time, following in the footsteps of my tale ‘Rock Thoughts‘. I’ll keep you posted!

Imperceptible beasts

Borneo green viperWe meet outside the hotel after lunch, fortified and ready for our jungle walk. Marion, the Swiss girl, has only flipflops on her feet. Her ballet pumps had been so covered with bat and swiftlet guano at the Gomantong Caves that she’d had to throw them away.

Joseph, our diminutive guide, arrives wearing rubber boots.

“Will these be all right?” asks Marion, pointing to her feet.

He smiles, nods. “Yes, ok.”

Joseph leads the way across a field, up a steep track. The air is heavy, sweating with heat. Plants curl and twist all around, threatening to trip us.

Myne Resort jungle hikeFollowing Joseph, resting our faith on his knowledge of this corner of Borneo, we cross an insubstantial rope-and-plank bridge over ravine that may once have held a stream. We clamber up the uneven hillside as fast as we can, trying to match Joseph’s pace.

At last the lookout point comes into view and he gestures for us to climb the steps. In that moment we know it’s been worth it. Before us is spread the Kinabatangan River – a slick brown horseshoe surrounded by dense greenery where proboscis monkeys, stork-billed kingfishers, pygmy elephants live out their days. Here and there scarring can be seen in the landscape – signs of the encroaching palm oil industry’s approach.

The journey back down the hill is somehow more challenging than the ascent, as we struggle through ruts of mud, never daring to look out for wildlife in case we stumble, fell.

We reach the shores of the Kinabatangan, where Joseph suddenly halts, points. A vast lizard, a water monitor, slides into the river and disappears. He points again.

“What can you see?” whispers Brian, from Australia.

Joesph nods, smiles: “Yes, ok,” then grasps Brian’s hand sharply as he reaches forward, trying to figure out what Joseph’s spotted. Our eyes suddenly focus, revealing the vivid green viper wrapped around a branch. Invisible as all Borneo’s creatures seem to be, until, perhaps, you’re ready to see them.

Re-imagined creatures and cutlery

Barry Lewis hedge elephantA favourite artist of mine is the sculptor Barry Lewis, who takes found and junk-shop objects and transforms them into fabulous creatures, like this Hedge-elephant, which is smaller than an elephant, “in the same way a hedgehog is smaller than a hog.” Wonderful logic. This particular one could sit in your lap with ease.

Barry Lewis hedge elephantIf you happen upon one of his exhibitions (he turns up at Bedminster’s Grant Bradley Gallery relatively frequently, but visit Barry’s Facebook page to find out where he’ll be next), make sure you take the time to read the labels – many ring with a philosophical humour that will make the animals even more enticing,



Journalism jobs – ShortList seeks a staff writer

Quentin Tarantino cr Shortlist MediaFancy joining an intelligent, brain-stirring men’s magazine? ShortList is looking for a Staff Writer to join its team. This is an amazing opportunity for a sharp up-and-coming journalist with big ambitions!

Shortlist coverYou will need to have written for national magazines or newspapers, and show examples of an entertaining interview style, well-researched features, and a flair for witty copy.

An understanding of the ShortList brand is crucial to this role, and the successful candidate must be bursting with editorial ideas suitable for our readers of modern working men.

Please send your CV along with examples of your published work, and one pitch for a feature, to Editor, Martin Robinson at martin.robinson@shortlist.com.