First glimpse – Remember Me To The Bees

So, the proofs are back, changes have been made, a few more minor corrections may be needed, but it exists! My debut short story collection Remember Me To The Bees, nestled in my hands with its heart beating like a live thing.

Remember Me To The Bees first glimpse

And here’s the front cover for you to gaze at, featuring bespoke artwork by the talent Louise Boulter.

Remember Me To The Bees spine

And here’s the spine…

Not long at all now till it will be available to buy. What do you think?

Recipe – Blackberry vinegar

Blackberries cr Judy DarleyTis the season for blackberrying! Ok, a bit late on that, but some shady corners are still fruiting nicely, and if you have any in your fridge or freezer, this recipe might help you turn it into ‘purple wonder juice’.

And what a bumper crop it’s been. Turns out frosty springs and luscious hot summers make berries very, very happy, and in turn, us.

As it happens, I’m not a huge fan of the blackberries themselves (all those pips lodging and crunching, eurgh…), but I absolutely adore the picking lark. What lovelier way to spend a sunny autumnal Sunday? Continue reading

Mid-week writing prompt – wetlands

Something about this scene looks so tranquil to me – the light, the water and the birds swooping by. But imagine if this was your home.

Slimbridge Wetlands cr Judy Darley

What work would you do if you lived here? How would each day unfold? And how would you respond if a stranger arrived and threatened it in some way?

If you write something inspired by this image, I’d love to read it. Drop me a line at judy(at)socketcreative.com and you could be published on these pages!

Book review – Not in These Shoes by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch

Not In These Shoes book coverIn this concise, precise collection of poems, each word plays its part, selected with care and slotted seamlessly into place to keep each line aloft, delivering and engendering emotions with equal ease.

The collection begins without apology with ‘Découpage’, a poem that hangs from the stark first line: ”The day of your post mortem”. Glorious imagery abounds and the deceased is remembered as “Thinking in appliqué,” while cheekbones are “Slashed indigo lines.”

Series of poems are strung together to tell a tale, as in ‘Crayfish Tail Salsa’, a lyrical chapter of diary entries written from the point of view of a hotel worker, possibly the poet in an earlier incarnation. Each entry begins with a declaration of her ever decreasing weight, until we are as hungry for crayfish tail salsa as she.

‘Backless’ is a sensual masterpiece, at once enticing and faintly disturbing, titillating us with murmurs about “An opaque window of skin,” while breathing a dark undertone that runs through many of the poems, keeping us intrigued beyond the end. Continue reading

Get into games writing

od of War written by Spanner SpencerThis week’s guest post comes from games writer extraordinaire Spanner Spencer.

In every other form of fiction writing, the writer is the only one who starts with nothing. It all begins with the writer, and everyone else involved builds on the foundations of a script, or story, or manuscript, or feature, or whatever kind of bricks the writer laid down.

Not so with games, and that’s a hard pill for writers to swallow. It’s a genre that doesn’t really care for the writer, and does its best to manage without one altogether. You’re not quickly welcomed onto the creative team, and even if you are, the invitation generally doesn’t arrive until the stone of the game has been cut. Continue reading

Fashion that tells stories

Sarah C Bellis shift dressI’m no fashionista, but I’m definitely a fan of clothes that put you in a certain frame of mind. Such as these gorgeous dresses from Sara C.

Take a look at her website and you’ll find plenty to drool over, not only the exquisite clothing, but the photography of the landscapes that inspired them. Travelling through rural stretches of England (yay, a Brit designer!), Australia and Mexico, Sara photographed and drew what she saw, and transformed the results into her collections: Nature’s Edge and Nature Lust. Making me smile even more, the garments are each individually handmade in Britain using eco-friendly processes and fabrics. Hurrah for guilt-free fashion!

Sara C Bellis zombieThere are so many divine Sara C designs to choose from, but I particularly love the Bellis shift, (shown above and left), right now, not only for its beauty, but because the red flowers blotches look rather like blood splatters – making it the ideal, unexpectedly stylish outfit to wear with full-on zombie makeup this coming Halloween :)

Naturally, with regular, healthier-looking make up it simply looks like a lovely dress to wear to the office, art galleries and on everyday adventures. How’s that for a garment you can dress up or down?

Mid-week writing prompt – the catwalk

I came across this picture filed away among some snaps I took at the Clothes Show 2004. The hats, knee-socks and swimwear/lingerie combo is pretty extraordinary.

Clothes Show 2004 cr Judy Darley

I particularly like the yellow hat so large the girl has to gaze through the brim. She also looks like she might be about to break out of line and run for her life!

So, what do you reckon, are those girls friends or rivals? And, if this wasn’t a catwalk show, what possible reason could they have for dressing like that?

Book review – The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds

The Quickening Maze coverReview by Emma Bragg

Adam Foulds’ novel The Quickening Maze was a surprise amongst the shortlist of 2009’s Man Booker Prize. The book revolves around real events in Epping Forest in 1840, which Foulds has managed to combine cleverly with his own imaginings.

Described as a ‘lyrical novel’, the story centres on the poet John Clare who is coming to the end of his career with his poetry now considered not to be ‘in fashion’. As an inpatient at High Beach Private Asylum we see Clare alongside other patients early in the book, such as the religiously fanatic Margaret, and in these surroundings Clare appears comparatively sane.

The Asylum owner is Dr Matthew Allen, another factual character who, with his sermons and asylum-revolved lifestyle, appears dedicated to his patients. It is also apparent that he is able to develop a trusting bond with his patients and he encourages Clare to continue pursuit of his poetry career. Continue reading

Meet literary characters at Groomsbridge Place

Groombridge PlaceI love an immersive literary experience – something to truly tickle my imagination and offer some serious escapism.

The latest one to catch my eye is the literary weekend happening on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September at Groomsbridge Place in Kent. Celebrating 200 years of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (the novel, not the BBC version – Colin Firth’s not quite that old, bless), the event will feature “costumed interpreters” (nope, not quite sure what that means. Actors, perhaps?) performing the roles of “some of our country’s favourite literary characters” who will roam the gardens and Enchanted Forest of the 17th century manor house. Continue reading

Step into Submergence

Ever wondered what it would feel like to step inside a computer? Apparently not as different to the 1982 movie Tron as you might expect! Last night saw UK premiere of an immersive art exhibition in Bristol, named Submergence and exploring this idea in the form of hundreds of light bubbles.

Submergence5

Like an extravagant bead curtain, the lights glimmer on and off in varying patterns and colours. It’s a bit like strolling through an aquarium where the water is breathable – fairly magical, especially if you visit after nightfall when the lights gain a shimmering intensity offset by the darkness outside.

Submergence

Created by award-winning digital artists Squidsoup, Submergence was designed and developed in the UK and Norway, and has already been shown at the Geneva Mapping Festival and in Oslo.

Submergence4The installation at The Eye building, just over the footbridge from Creative Common, behind Bristol Temple Meads train station, is the only UK showing. It’s been brought to Bristol thanks to Squidsoup’s residency within Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio.

“Submergence is the latest work to emerge from Ocean of Light, a research project looking into the immersive possibilities of visual systems that occupy physical 3D space,” says Anthony Rowe, Creative Lead at Squidsoup. “More than 8,000 individually addressable points of light are suspended in a space that people can walk within, to create an experience that is abstract yet immersive, and also responsive – the lights, and therefore the space, respond to your presence.”

Submergence2

Watershed describe it as “a virtual world, where pixels on a screen are replaced by thousands of points of light floating in space”, it’s a truly remarkable experience, and well worth strolling down to Bristol Temple Quarter for.

Submergence is free to visit and is open to the public from six days a week (it’s closed on Mondays) at the following times: Tue–Fri 12.00 – 14.00 & 17.00 – 21.00, Sat & Sun 12.00 – 21.00, until Saturday October 12th, when it flits over to St Petersburg. Find out more.