Writing prompt – ambush

Feathers in Arnos Vale_Photo by Judy DarleyWhen I see a spray of feathers like this, I know I’ve stumbled across the site of a mighty battle. Some unwitting bird was beset upon, perhaps by a peregrine or buzzard.

What might the prey and predator have experienced in those frantic moments? Dig deep and conjure the visceral sensations – the fear and bloodlust and the physical tumult.

Then shift those sensations onto a pair of human protagonists. To what dark place does that take you?

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.

Submit tales of doorways to the NFFD Anthology

Azores pufferfish doorway by Judy Darley
Doors can mean so many things to so many people. They can offer refuge, or conceal threats, be locked, swing wide open, or simply represent new possibilities.

Doors are also the theme for the 2019 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology. The deadline for submissions is Friday 15th March 2019, 23:59pm GMT.

This year’s editors are Joanna Campbell and Santino Prinzi, who invite you to submit flash fictions up to 500 words in length.

They say: “We want you to open the door to stories wild with imagination. We’re looking for those creepy mysteries about doors we can’t find the key to. We want those funny tales of frustration when doors do exactly what they’re supposed to when we don’t want them to. Maybe the stories you want to share are about metaphorical doors, filled with the disappointment of doors that are closed to us or brimming with excitement at new opportunities.”

There’s a £2.50 submission fee for one entry, £4.00 for two entries or £6.00 for three (the maximum) entries. Free entries for low income writers are also available.

You can find full details here.

Charged Particles – a short story

Penis Museum2

My short story Charged Particles has been published by MIR Online. Set in Iceland, it’s about two English sisters seeking common ground, while hoping to glimpse the Northern Lights.

The shot above shows exhibits from the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which features in the story.

Here’s an excerpt from near the beginning of Charged Particles:

Rain transformed to snow somewhere between us unpacking our bags and Aurora’s text asking if we’d arrived. Let’s meet at the penis museum, she suggested. I hear it is adorbs!

I showed Lawrence the text and rolled my eyes.

“Give her a chance,” he said. “You know how you get with her.”

“Only because she brings it out in me!” I snapped.

He shrugged. “All siblings are like that. Come on, let’s go.”

The settling snow glittered with fractures of miniature rainbows. I found myself converted as we strolled amid the drifting flakes, boots crunching into the crisp surface. A smile broke out over my face. I grabbed for Lawrence’s hand and held tight, our mittens squishing together. He cast me a sidelong glance and I knew he was wondering what cheerful changeling had replaced his sceptical wife.

Read Charged Particles in full.

Writing prompt – voices

Dylan Thomas summerhouse at Laugharne CastleWithin the grounds of Laugharne Castle is a stone summerhouse where Dylan Thomas and author Richard Hughes would come to write.

Today there is a note from Dylan’s wife Caitlin warning him not to leave the radio on and run the batteries down. More magical, however, is the fact you can turn on the radio and hear Dylan and Richard nattering (might be actors, but who can say?).

What voices from history would you like to overhear? Can you grant your wish to a character in a story?

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.

Poetry review – Empire of Dirt

Empire of Dirt coverThe poems in Thomas Stewart’s debut pamphlet Empire of Dirt share the enchanted forest feel of the darkest fairytales. Nature appears on these pages as something elemental and vaguely sordid, with humans only one footfall away from entering the shadowy, loam-scented spaces on the fringes of suburban streets.

Moving, enticing and richly redolent, these poems summon the paradoxical sense of peace laced with disquiet that’s so particular to woodlands, where the unseen creeps ever closer.

Many of the poems are about observing. In And then The Flowers Came, he writes: “outside/ the trees can/ smell me, their/ roots/ brew plots,/ they’re watching/ me, with/ everyone else”.

In Skull, Stewart invites us to become the voyeurs, ogling the intimate miracle of Adam birthing his Eve.

More contemporary suspicions come into play with the awareness of a neighbour spying from between the petals of a hibiscus across the road: “she watches/ how many cigarettes/ I smoke/ or how many times/ I check Grindr/ on my phone.” The tension between timeless and modern, and between threat and temptation, is palpable.

Continue reading

Submit to The Mechanics’ Institute

London Millennium Footbridge by Judy DarleyThe Mechanics’ Institute Review (MIR) is inviting submissions of short stories, poetry and non-fiction for issue 16 of their print anthology from writers across the UK.

MIR is a literary print and ebook publication that champions the short story as an art form, promoting diversity and opportunity for all while publishing new work of the highest possible standard.

This year they are inviting you to write in response to the word climate. “Are we living in a climate of fear? Is the climate changing? What does it mean to have a climate? We want you to take the temperature and send us your stories, non-fiction and poetry.”

They’re seeking unpublished short stories up to 5,000 words in length, up to three flash-fiction pieces, to a combined total of 2,250 words, a non-fiction piece (creative non-fiction, essays) of up to 5,000 words, or up to six poems, amounting to a maximum of six pages in total.

Only one submission per person per issue is permitted.

Submissions are welcomed from both new and established authors, but you must live in the UK.

The deadline for submissions is 5pm GMT on Friday 15th February 2019.

Find full details, rules and conditions, visit mironline.org/mir15-entry-form/

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