Ledbury Poetry Festival 2020

Ledbury cr John EagerSome British towns seem better suited to literary festivals than others, and Ledbury in Herefordshire is ideal – with reams of streets and architecture that the word ‘picturesque’ could have been invented for. This year, Ledbury’s annual Poetry Festival is relocating online for 4th-5th July 2020, promising two days of written and spoken riches.

All events are FREE, but do remember to register beforehand, and please consider a donation to LPF and support the Festival in this uncertain and challenging time. Each event will be recorded and posted on the Festival’s YouTube channel

This year’s highlights include the Festival Launch, during which UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage will introduce and read poems written during Lockdown, readings from Ledbury Poetry Festival International Poetry Competition 2019 winners, including Sarah Wimbush (read my review of Sarah’s award-winning pamphlet Bloodlines), Elisabeth Murawski and Denise Bundred, hosted by Daljit Nagra, plus a Spanish Poetry Translation Duel, and much much more!

Don’t forget to enter the LPF Poetry Competition. Entries will be judged by Liz Berry. The closing date is Thursday 16th July 2020.

The image at the very top of this post was supplied by John Eager of www.visitledbury.info. Many thanks!

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.

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Sky Light Rain – Untrue Blue

1_Untrue Blue by Judy Darley
Over the next few weeks, I will share a few insights into the stories that make up my collection Sky Light Rain. I’ll explore them in the order in which they appear in the book, so will begin with the tale ‘Untrue Blue’.

This story examines a relationship between a brother and sister, from the point of view of the sister Tia. Themes include trust and betrayal, and when the truth can be the greatest cruelty of all.

You might notice if you’ve read my stories that sibling relationships and rivalries are recurring topics. A brother or sister might be the first person you come to know on an equal footing – your earliest memories are likely entwined with theirs, and there’s a high possibility that they know all the versions of you. It gives them a rare power. If anyone can derail you, I bet it’s them!

Bristol’s Cabot Tower, which I can see in the distance from my home and spent many childhood days climbing, is a key location for the pair in ‘Untrue Blue’.

The story begins:

As children we would go flying at night. You were always the instigator, shaking me awake then unlatching the window to let the night creep cool and bright beneath our pyjamas, under our skin. I’d edge out first, blinking in the sweep of orange-tarnished sky, beneath the faint stinging stars.

The story contains hints of fairytales and a touch of magic realism. For me, there’s a bit of wish fulfilment too – as a child I believed there was no more enviable superpower than the ability to fly!

I started writing it with the image the tale opens with, and then wanted to know why Tia seemed so wary of her brother. A lot of my fiction unfurls that way – with a scene I glimpse in my head like something from a film, and a question that leads me to what happens next. In fact, a lot of my writing is a journey of discovery.

Discover the inspirations behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Pandemic prompt – mask

Mask by Judy Darley
I photographed a discarded face-mask in early April, just one week after the UK went into lockdown. At the time I was disturbed that someone had dropped it so carelessly – like a perilous form of litter! I’ve since heard that millions of face-masks and other items of PPE  are being thrown away every day.

Considering that 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans everyday, it’s no wonder that scientists are warning that that will soon be more masks than jellyfish in our seas.

Can you turn this into a warning fable? More challengingly, can you find a way to give it a hopeful or positive twist?

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

A short story – Wild Times

Bees_MIR_darleyI’ve really been relishing the wildlife in my garden and surrounding area over the difficult months of lockdown. My short tale ‘Wild Times‘ takes this thought, exaggerates it and blends in a splash of curiosity about human nature,

I’m thrilled to share the news that ‘Wild Times‘ has been published as part of MIR’s Stories in the Time of Covid 19 project. A meditation on nature, both human and other…

You can read ‘Wild Times‘ in full here: http://mironline.org/wildtimes/

Online writing classes with Writers & Artists

Dylan walk estuary serenityThe folks at Writers & Artists are plotting their next series of online writing courses following their successful virtual classes in May.

They say: “We’re excited to launch Fiction Writing: Fundamentals and Fiction Writing: Advanced, courses designed to give you the time, expertise and confidence required to develop your book this summer.”

Fiction Writing: Fundamentals

Monday evenings from 20th July-10th August | 6-8.30pm | £275

Fiction Writing: Fundamentals is an introduction to the essential elements of the writing process, lead by critically acclaimed author William Ryan, and a perfect opportunity to learn about the nuts and bolts of writing fiction. You’ll receive guidance on how to apply these tips to your own work, develop your confidence as a writer, and receive invaluable critical feedback on both your prose and story structure.

To book and view the full course outline click here.

Fiction Writing: Advanced

Mondays from 14th September-19th October | 6-8:30pm | £395

Following on from Fiction Writing: Fundamentals, William Ryan leads Fiction Writing: Advanced, a six-week course designed to stress-test your work-in-progress.

Expect an interrogation of your plot, tightening of dialogue, and tough questions asked of your cast of characters. As well as live workshopping, presentations on critical aspects of the writing process and regular professional feedback, participants also have the opportunity to hear from a commissioning editor and pitch their writing to a leading UK literary agent.

Book your place now

There’s also the option of special combined price if you want to take both courses.

For special discounts, insights (including interviews with authors such as picture books author Hannah Lee, register to receive the newsletter here

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.

Pandemic prompt – bug

Greenfly by Judy Darley
In these times when the global pandemic has shrunk our world right down, it seems natural that we’re paying more attention to the wildlife in our own locale. For me, this has included goldfinches, gulls, rose chafer beetles, and ladybird larvae.

When trying to photograph the latter, I ended up admiring the translucent jade beauty of their greenfly prey. Can you turn a person’s growing fascination with insects into a story, or would you prefer to play with ideas of scale?

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

p.s. Sorry if this prompt made you feel itchy…

Two tales – The Rules of Contagion and Sanctuary

Elephant, Thailand. By Judy DarleyI’m so happy to have two stories in issue 34 of the wonderful The Cabinet Of Heed literary journal.

Firstly, a lockdown inspired story titled ‘The Rules of Contagion’ at https://cabinetofheed.com/2020/06/10/one-word-prompts

Secondly, a story inspired by a visit to Thai elephant sanctuary, titled ‘Sanctuary’, under https://cabinetofheed.com/2020/06/10/photo-prompts/… (scroll down to the elephant).

There are drawers full of fabulous tales to distract you in this fine issue!

The Writers’ Weekend 2020 goes virtual

Stripe Image provided by The WInchester Writers' ConferenceThe Writers’ Weekend 2020, formerly Winchester Writers’ Festival, launches from 9th-12th July 2020, and is your virtual opportunity to mingle with writers, peckish agents and lots of other interesting literary types.

Sara Gangai, Director of the Writers’ Weekend and former Director of the Winchester Writers’ Festival, says: “Faced with uncertainty around social distancing and travel, we have decided to stream the event live across the weekend of 9-12 July. Easy-to-use virtual meeting room technology will ensure every workshop, panel and one-to-one appointment is fully accessible to our attendees, streamed to your computer, tablet or phone, and as engaging as an in-person event.”

Authors Eoin Colfer and Lissa Evans have been announced as keynote speakers.

You can sign up as a viewer or attendee, depending on how immersed you’d prefer to be. As well as talks, workshops, author readings and open mic events, promised highlights include the festival’s renowned One-to-One Appointments with literary agents, commissioning editors, authors, poets and industry experts.

They say: “One-to-ones are 15-minute appointments with specialists who will offer constructive criticism to work-in-progress, discuss publishing/marketing possibilities and give advice on writing difficulties. Specialists read your submissions before the ‘Weekend’ so that your appointment with them is effective. This is a golden opportunity to meet with an agent or editor for commercial feedback on your work. Who knows? They might want to see the full manuscript!”

The Writers’ Weekend takes place from 9th-12th July 2020. Book your package.

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.

Pandemic prompt – siblings

Chalk sisters by Judy DarleyStrolling through a local park, I saw three siblings playing on their scooters – two teenage girls and their smaller brother.

One positive thing to have come out of lockdown and social distancing requirements has may be reinforced family connections. Many of us with older siblings will remember how we went from being a handy, on-site playmate to an irritation as alternative options arrived in the form of school friends etc.

What happens when siblings have no one to play with but each other? What tensions arise? What unbreakable bonds are forged?

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Wells Festival of Literature competitions

City of Wells cr Judy Darley

Wells Festival of Literature takes place from 16th-24th October 2020, but before that they hold their annual writing competitions, with entries being accepted until 30th June 2020.

The categories are short stories, poetry, books for children, and Young Poets, open to anyone aged between 16 and 22 inclusive.

The first prize in their Open Poetry Competition will this year be £1000. Second and third prizes will be £500 and £250 respectively.

The Short Story and Book for Children categories have the following prizes:

  • First prize = £750
  • Second prize = £300
  • Third prize = £200

There are Local Prizes of £100 each for the Short Story, Open Poetry and Book for Children competitions.

The Young Poet category the following prizes:

  • First prize = £150
  • Second prize = £75
  • Third prize = £50

All three prize winners will also receive a year’s subscription to the Poetry Society.

Short Story Competition
Entries may be on any subject and should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length.
The Short Story judge is audio producer and writer Duncan Minshull. His latest book is Beneath My Feet: Writers on Walking, published by Notting Hill Editions

The fee for each separate entry is £6.

Open Poetry Competition
Entries may be on any subject but must not exceed 35 lines in length. This year’s Open Poetry judge is Jo Shapcott FRS, an award-winning English poet, editor and lecturer who holds the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

The fee for each separate entry is £6.

A Book for Children Competition
Stories in this category may be on any subject, providing they are aimed at readers aged seven and up, including young adult. Submit your first three chapters or thirty pages (whichever is shortest), plus a synopsis no longer than two pages. The judge is author Fleur Hitchcock, who has published more than 16 books for young people.
The fee for each separate entry is £6.
Young Poets Competition
Competitors may submit only one entry and must be aged 16 to 22 inclusive, at the closing submission date on 30 June 2020. Entries may be on any subject but must not exceed 35 lines in length. The judge is poet, writer and filmmaker Victoria Adukwei Bulley.
The fee to enter is £3.

The closing date for all entries is 30th June 2020.

Find the full rules and details of how to enter.

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

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