Book review – This Is (Not About) David Bowie by FJ Morris

This Is (Not About) David Bowie by F. J. Morris coverFJ Morris has a unique way of viewing the world that feeds into every piece of fiction she writes. Loosely using the theme of David Bowie as a connecting point, the stories in her debut flash fiction collection examine the magic of our human contradictions in glittering, meteor showers of prose.

Morris’ vivid turns of phrase bring scenes into focus – puddles ‘pop’ with rain, bodies can become rubble, and confessions are preceded by “the deepest of breaths, for the deepest of dives.”

There’s a sense of unearthing ancient fables through her tales, as even the most unexpected imagery is presented with such innate confidence in us readers to digest it that it seems at once commonplace and utterly peculiar. That’s a skill many writers fail to master in a lifetime – akin to achieving the ability to harness a trick of the light.

Morris’ sideways glance at the world equips her to embrace huge themes in a way that helps you see them anew. She tackles grief via the motion of a freshly vacated swing, and explores on questions about gender, sexuality and more in a way that invites strange flavours onto your tongue and unfamiliar textures under your bare feet.

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Writing prompt – deja vu

Kaunas, Lithuania, River2. By Judy DarleyThere’s something delicious about a fictional character riddled with uncertainty. Deja vu can be a great trick for introducing a bit of second-guessing that could lead in a multitude of directions.

Take the view above, for example. The moment your protagonist sees it, they know they’ve been here before. But when, and why? Or have they seen a photo of it, or even a painting? It’s a seemingly tranquil scene, so why has it unsettled them so thoroughly?

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.

Winchester Writers’ Festival 2019

Stripe Image provided by The WInchester Writers' ConferenceWinchester Writers’ Festival returns from 14th-16th June 2019, offering the opportunity to mingle with writers, hungry agents and lots of other interesting literary types.

This festival organisers are describing 2019 as a fallow year for their competitions, “with a view to re-launching them in 2020.”

Founded in 1980, the conference now encompasses a festival, book fair and in-depth workshop schedule, as well as masses of opportunities to network with other aspiring and established authors.

Promised highlights include the festival’s renowned One-to-One Appointments with literary agents, commissioning editors, authors, poets and industry experts. There will also be masterclasses, talks and open-mic readings, all devised to inspire and inform you so you can take the literary world by storm!!

The Winchester Writers’ Festival takes place from 14th-16th June 2019.

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

Welcome

Hi. I’m Judy Darley, a fiction writer and journalist specialising in writing about travel, the arts and anything that catches my eye and fires my imagination.

I originally launched SkyLightRain.com as a follow up to EssentialWriters.com. The name is inspired by the sound of rain falling on the skylight just outside my writing room as well as the look the sky takes on at certain times of day at certain times of year.

The aim of the blog is to provide inspiration, information, advice and a bit of company for writers, artists, daydreamers and innovators, like myself. It gives me the opportunity to flag up opportunities for and showcase the work of creatives who inspire me, as well as sharing news of my own literary adventures.

My second short story collection, Sky Light Rain, will be published in autumn 2019 by Valley Press.

My debut collection, Remember Me To The Bees, is available via the Tangent Books website.

Unless otherwise stated, all words and imagery on this website is copyrighted to me.

If you’d like to use a photo from SkyLightRain.com, please get in touch. It the photo belongs to me, that’s fine, but please let me know, and please link back directly to the page you found it on (not the homepage), and mention on your site that you sourced the image from SkyLightRain.com.

If you’ve made a resolution to have your writing read more widely this year, you might be interested to know that SkyLightRain.com welcomes input from other writers. I’m always happy to receive suggestions for reviews and features, as well as creative pieces produced in response to the midweek writing prompts.

Every piece published includes an author pic and bio, with links so that people can find out more about you.

Book, film, art or magazine reviews

Get in touch and let me know what you would like to review, and why. In the case of art reviews, images are a must, but in the other cases a few stills or the book cover will do. I can contact publishers on your behalf to request review copies to be sent to your home. The word-count should be between 300 and 600 words.

Writing genres or writing tools

This is a great opportunity to share your skills, and talk up recent projects such as novels. Contact me to let me know what you would like to write about, and why. The word-count should be between 600 and 1000 words. Previous examples have included author-in-progress Maithreyi Nandakumar exploring the question ‘When is your novel finished?’ and Nina Milton sharing her tips on thriller writing.

Creative writing

I’m always happy to receive short pieces of prose or poetry inspired by the midweek writing prompts. These are posted each Wednesday and provide story ideas, hints and potential plot lines. No need to send a query first – just email me your creative work as soon as you feel it is ready to be seen by the world!

I also accept ideas for this slot, so please get in touch if you’re happy to share your own prompts for firing up a new creative work. What inspires your writing?

Feel free to spread the word about these opportunities.

To get in touch about any of these slots, just email me at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

If you want to get in touch, you can find me on Twitter @JudyDarley, or send me an email at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

Preservation resurfaces at Liars’ League Hong Kong

Mussel shells cr Judy DarleyWay back in 2017, I was happy to announce that my short story Preservation had been picked to feature at a Liars’ League Hong Kong night of literary performances.

I’m pleased to say that this story has now resurfaced for a special ‘Best & Brightest’ event, to take place on Thursday 30th May. The evening is part of the Hong Kong Spoken Word Festival, and will showcase “a selection of some of the best pieces performed at Liars’ League HK.”

How lovely! My story is one of eight pieces selected for the evening.

In case you weren’t aware, Liars League is an event that matches short fiction to actors, celebrating the spoken word while giving it some thespian panache! Their tagline is Writers Write. Actors Read. Audience Listens. Everybody Wins.

Susan LavenderPreservation will again be performed by actor Susan Lavender (pictured left)The story was inspired by the fact various words about nature have been excised from children’s dictionaries to make room for more about technology. Sad but true. Mussel was just one of the words removed.

I can’t attend, but hope to catch up on the podcast or videos afterwards. It starts at 8pm at The Jockey Club Studio Theatre, Hong Kong on 30th May 2019.

Find details and book your tickets here.

Writing prompt – afterwards

Azores post religious festival. Photo by Judy DarleyI took this photo the day after Festas do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres on São Miguel Island, the Azores. 

Just hours earlier, the streets were carpeted with pristine flowers and evergreen fronds. Now it resembles crushed confetti.

What else might have been altered almost beyond recognition during the mayhem of those religious revelries?

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.

 

Enter the Bridport Prize

Bladderwrack by Judy Darley
The Bridport Prize, one of the UK’s most prestigious writing competitions, is currently seeking submissions of short stories, flash fiction, poems and debut novels.

The deadline for all competition entries is 31st May 2019.

Bridport Prize artwork cr Paul Blow

Image by Paul Blow

Poems may be up to 42 lines in length. The entry fee is £10. The winning poet will receive £5,000.

Short stories may be up to 5,000 words long. The entry fee is £12. The winning short story writer will receive £5,000.

Flash fiction may be up to 250 words long. The entry fee is £9. The winning flash fiction writer will receive £1,000.

The winning and highly commended flash fiction, short stories and poems will be published in the Bridport Prize anthology 2019.

Novel extracts may be up to 8,000 words long. You must also supply a 300-word synopsis, which should be the first page of your entry. The fee is £20.

First prize is £1,000 plus a year’s mentoring through The Literary Consultancy’s Chapter & Verse mentoring scheme, and possible publication. T

Second prize is £500 plus a full manuscript assessment from The Literary Consultancy

There are runners-up awards of £100, plus a 50-page manuscript assessment (redeemable against a full appraisal if desired), which will be made to three shortlisted writers.

The opening chapters of the first prize and runner-up novel will be published on the Bridport Prize website.

Find full details and enter your creative works at www.bridportprize.org.uk.

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.

Hay Festival 23rd May to 2nd June 2019

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

I remember visiting Hay-on-Wye as a child and being entranced by this place built, it seemed, entirely on, around and with books. Yet I’ve never yet made it to any of the much lauded Hay Festivals (have you noticed how they’ve spread throughout the world? Good to know that the love of the written word is so contagious).

The festival runs from 23rd May until 2nd June 2019. The organisers say: “The line-up features over 600 writers and thinkers in events over 11 days, spanning award-winning fiction, non-fiction and poetry; science and tech; UK politics; global affairs; sustainability (Green Hay); a rich strand for children and families; a free programme for schools; and a vibrant line-up of late night music, comedy and performance.”

With the strapline: “Let’s talk. Let’s Listen”, speakers and inspirers include Arundhati Roy, Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson, Caroline Criado Perez, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig, Jimmy Carr, Bill Bailey, Sara Pascoe, Nish Kumar, Judith Kerr, Jo Brand, Jacqueline Wilson, Maxine Peake, Max Porter, Germaine Greer, Joanna Lumley, Carole Cadwalladr, Fintan O’Toole, Emily Maitlis, Robert Macfarlane, Monty Don, and Moby.

If you can only make it to one event, don’t miss novelists Jayne Joso and Deborah Kay Davies in conversation with Dylan Moore on Wednesday 29th May.

Get your tickets from www.hayfestival.com. And if you’re lucky enough to attend any of the events, please let me know! I’d love to publish your festival review on SkyLightRain.com. Just email me at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

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Writing prompt – key

Key by Judy DarleyHave you ever found a key and wondered what it could possibly open? Have you ever lost a key and wondered where it could have gone?

Imagine that this is the key your protagonist has found. Where did they find it? To what adventures or discoveries could it lead?

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.

Enter the Big Issue’s crime fiction competition

Inside a Bristol Bridge by Judy DarleyThe Big Issue magazine has launched a competition looking for the next big name in crime fiction.

The author of the winning entry will be awarded a two-book deal to be published as  paperbacks under the Avon Books UK imprint by HarperCollins. Only one overall winner will be chosen from all submissions.The deadline for entries is Friday 31st May.

The competition is open to authors seeking their big break with a crime novel that’s complete or close to completion.

“We’re delighted to announce the launch of this competition,” says The Big Issue editor Paul McNamee. “Everybody is said to have a book in them but people frequently don’t know how to get their great ideas to the right people and into print. Working with such a legendary publishing house is a way to make somebody’s dream become reality. We’ve assembled a terrific panel to help uncover Britain’s best new, as yet undiscovered, crime writer.”

To enter the competition, submit:

  1. Your synopsis of no more than 100 words
  2. Your full and complete manuscript. The text must be double spaced and typed in Times New Roman font, point size 12 and must be the entrant’s own original work
  3. Your contact information including telephone number, email address and any social media handles

“It is with great excitement that we launch the search for the UK’s next big crime writer, and we couldn’t wish for a better publication to do this with than The Big Issue,” say Helen Huthwaite, publishing director at Avon. “With the help of some of the best talent in the business, we will be scouring the length and breadth of the country for an author who can deliver heart-stopping writing and nail-shredding suspense. This is a life-changing prize for one talented winner, and we can’t wait to see what the entries have in store for us.”

The judging panel includes The Big Issue’s books editor Jane Graham, literary agent Julia Silk, author Katerina Diamond, and editor and author MJ Ford.

The shortlist will be announced in September, with the winner’s announcement to follow in October. All terms and conditions can be found on bigissue.com or avonbooks.co.uk