Ovum – a very short story by Judy Darley

ovumNeither of them can be sure what wakes them in the softness of the minutes after dawn, gold-dusted and dew-glazed. Something outside? Curious, still stumbling from sleep, they hurry to the back door, fling it open, and stare downwards at the thing left there, defenceless on the flagstones just beyond their doorstep.

It glimmers in the early light like something sentient. Waiting.

Sam takes one look, wants to put it in the airing cupboard in a nest of warm towels. Watch over it.

Nat frowns; insists they should put it in the fridge. “We don’t know what might come out of it. Look at the size of it, and the markings. It could be anything!”

Sam picks it up off the cold ground, cradles it carefully. There is a pleasing weight to it, the subtle shift of something stirring within the gleaming shell.

“I won’t let you touch it. It might be able to sense you don’t want it to live.”

“That’s not what I meant!” Nat protests, but Sam isn’t listening. Sam carries the egg upstairs, not to the airing cupboard but to their bedroom. Sam closes the door firmly, then makes a nest of blankets in the middle of their bed, places the egg in the centre of it, curls up around it.

Nat listens at the door for a while, can hear no sound. After a while Nat goes away.

In search of the Cornish sun

Gyllenvase Beach cr Judy DarleyMy latest travel feature, covering my recent, very happy, trip to southern Cornwall, is now up on Travelbite.

We caught the train to Falmouth on the morning after St Piran’s Day (Cornwall’s patron saint) in early March, revelling in the fact spring comes fractionally earlier to Cornwall than to my home city of Bristol. Before long we were seeing fields of golden daffodils, trees laden with vibrant camellias and creamy magnolias, not to mention countless tiny lambs (we even glimpsed one sheep giving birth as we whizzed past!). Train is definitely the best way to do this journey – peaceful, comfortable and offering outstanding views of some of England’s most beautiful scenery, particularly the stretch between Exeter and Teignmouth. Continue reading

Polish-London fiction competition

tube_mapFancy being published in Litro and showcased at a London Underground Station?

The London-based magazine is currently crying out for Poland-themed entries (random, I know), and will publish the winners in the magazine as well as displaying them at a London Tube-station. The literary world seems half-obsessed by the London Tube at the moment!

For inspiration, Litro suggests you consider Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz.

As an extra challenge, entries may be no more than 300-words in length.

The deadline is April 20th, so make sure you send your Poland-inspired piece of writing to info@litro.co.uk by then.

Book review – Waterloo-City, City-Waterloo by Leanne Shapton

Waterloo-City, City-Waterloo by Leanne ShaptonOne of the 12 Penguin Lines books released to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, Waterloo-City, City-Waterloo: The Waterloo and City Line is something like how I imagine a trainspotter’s notebook to be, only collecting the passengers rather than the trains.

Feeding my voyeuristic tendencies, the narrative flits from person to person, offering a thumbnail sketch of each, before settling without warning on one or another to offer an insight into their rambling thoughts.

Pages of artwork supplement some of the thought processes – a montage of photos of babies; several pages presumably of water in the mind of a man contemplating his next swim. The pattern of thoughts is disconcertingly familiar – inner dialogues of power play and plotting intersected by observations such as “At least these boots make me look tall.” It’s a reassuring reminder of the banality of our most of our minor obsessions, coupled with the endless fascination of peoplewatching and overheard snippets of conversation, only these are interior monologues, so even more intriguing.

As an added quirk, midway through the volume, the Outgoing journey finishes, and you have to turn to the back of the book, turn it the other way up and continue on the Return journey, meeting new character as well as reconnecting with some of those you met on the way out, such as Yellow tie, and Houndstooth jacket, dyed red hair. It’s an utterly one-sided reunion, and the continuation of their tale is unexpectedly satisfying.

It’s incredibly addictive, and, if you’re reading it on any form of public transport, a touch surreal as you dip into the pages then glance around wondering what the people around you are thinking.

Waterloo-City, City-Waterloo: The Waterloo and City Line by Leanne Shapton is one of the 12 Penguin Line books inspired by London Underground Lines. Available at £4.99 each.

Write re-write, submit

Paper planeWriting is the easy part. Getting it out there, now that’s a whole other challenge. But the key to seeing your words published once they’re as good as you can possibly make them is to submit, submit often, submit bravely. I’ve been asked recently how I find the literary magazines I submit my work to, so I thought I’d share a few of the sources here.

Literary Magazines Linked InLinkedIn has a large number of targeted groups where writers share news of where they recommend submitting. Try Literary MagazinesLinkEds & Writers or Writers International. Once you sign up for one or two, you’ll receive regular emails of discussions going on in that group, as well as suggestions from LinkedIn of other groups you might like.

DuotropeDuotrope offers a huge directory of paid and unpaid markets for writers, mainly in America, but worldwide too. The summary edition of the newsletter is free, and you can pay to receive the monthly full edition at $5 whenever you have the urge to submit more widely.

The Spoken/Written Bulletin S.W. is produced by the Cartwheels Collective. Subscribe and you’ll receive a monthly email with news on competitions, as well as calls for submissions from anthologies, magazines and more across the world, plus details on opportunities such as writing residencies and open mic nights in the British southwest.

Mslexia magazine has a great Resources for Writers section on its website, listing literary magazines and publishers, and even more inside Mslexia’s quarterly magazine.

Twitter is also a great way to see who’s out there and who’s hungry for submissions. Feel free to take a look at who I follow for some ideas.

If you know any others, please add them here by replying to this post. Thanks!

The craft of craft writing

Push StitcheryJamie Chalmers, aka Mr X Stich, is the founder of www.mrxstitch.com, a website that celebrates the edgy, irreverent side of contemporary embroidery and needlecraft. In 2011 he curated the book PUSH Stitchery celebrating and in 2012 he became involved in #imapiece, a campaign using cross stitch as a form of political activism tackling malnutrition. Here Jamie offers his advice on making it as a craftwriter.

My adventures in craft writing began with a counted cross stitch pattern. It was an art nouveau head, my first attempt at stitching, and I was hooked.

It wasn’t long before I began designing my own patterns and exploring my own artist/craftastic approach to the subject. From there, it wasn’t really that long before I started feeling the need to share my experiences with others, and www.mrxstitch.com was born. Continue reading