The New Deal on Migration invites input from artists

Train station cr Judy DarleyThe Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has put out a call for submissions from visual artists working in all disciplines to contribute to a campaign to safeguard the safety of undocumented migrants.

Find out more about the campaign and how art can help bring about a fairer future at a special event on Wed 2nd September.

  • Deadline for submissions: 9am Monday 7 September
    Notice of successful commission: 5pm Friday 11 September
    Deadline for completed work: 9am Monday 28 September (or later, as agreed)

If you have queries, please contact Ruth at membership@jcwi.org.uk

The JCWI says: “Undocumented migrants have been on the frontline of this crisis. Working in hospitals, as delivery drivers, in takeaways or care homes – the work they have done has been essential, but invisible.

The lack of papers makes their lives vulnerable. Cut off from basic rights – the right to healthcare, the right to housing, the right to income support – and incentivised or forced to keep working even when it would be safer to shield. The hostile environment has cost some people their lives – afraid to seek help in case they get deported – and put countless more lives at risk.

As a new normal begins to take shape, we are launching a radical new campaign that centres the voices of undocumented migrants,and calls for all our lives and work to be equally valued and protected, no matter what papers we hold.

Our major new campaign (working name: “a new deal on migration”) will call for a radical re-think of the way that the lives, and the work, of undocumented migrants is portrayed and valued. Detailed policy asks will sit alongside a communications campaign, designed to mobilise those who are already passionate about migrants’ rights and start new conversations with some of those who are not.

We are demanding radical change. We need your help to share the ideas within this campaign, inspire people in our belief that a fairer future is possible, and motivate our audiences to take action.”

Objectives

The team are seeking illustrators, graphic designers, photographers and other visual artists to commission for three briefs.

The aim will be to:

  • Generate engagement on social media. That means content that grabs attention and encourages audiences to stop scrolling.
  • Inspire and motivate – to spread the word that change is possible. “We have been inspired by creative campaigners from around the world and what we are looking to do is celebrate those who share their stories and inspire readers/viewers to get involved.”

    View the inspiration board.

    Download the creative briefs and guidelines.

Sky Light Rain – A Blackbird’s Heart

A Blackbird Heart

Over the coming weeks, I’ll share 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. The tenth story in my collection is ‘A Blackbird’s Heart’.

Those of you who loved the multiple viewpoints of ‘Knotted Rope’ may be attracted to this story for similar reasons. It follows two entwined narratives, one by Bron, a young Welsh warrior whose culture include the use of animal hearts to communicate coded messages, and the other by Bronwyn, a foster child who is reading and obsessing over Bron’s dramatic tale.

Real life and fiction blur together for Bronwyn, until she’s driven to take drastic action.

I wrote Bron’s story first, but then Bronwyn popped into my head, poring over Bron’s story and avidly daydreaming herself into the adventure. It reminded me of how I yearned to find a world hidden at the back of my wardrobe, or battle the pirates of Neverland.

I drew parallels between Bron’s situation and Bronwyn’s, overlapping their lives as much as possible, but using Bronwyn’s imagination to make up any shortfalls. Through Bronwyn’s eyes, it’s easy for a tabby cat to become a monkey and for the young offenders institution where her brother Craig lives to mirror the castle dungeon where Bron’s brother Caio is imprisoned. Then I only had to decide how far Bronwyn’s fantasy might sweep her…

The tale begins:

Bron watches as Nan grasps her knife and slits the deer from throat to groin, easing the flesh apart until the glistening innards slide free.

She senses the monkey’s anxiety as it climbs from one of her shoulders to the other. “Hush, Caru, you’re safe.”

The smell of blood is sharp in her throat, not just the deer’s but that of her brother’s wife, Derlyn. The birth was difficult.

After his first caterwauls the baby has gone quiet, exhausted by his battle to enter the world. Eyeing the infant’s pink mottled flesh, Bron thinks he seems little different to the piglet that will represent him in the deer’s carcass.

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

Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Moth Room‘.

Writing prompt – distraction

Oh Mag 51 cover by Jago Silver

The lovely folks at Oh Magazine have commissioned me to create the following writing prompt using their beautiful issue 51 cover by Jago Silver as a leaping-off point.

This issue is all about satisfying, mood-brightening pastimes.

Begin by selecting an absorbing activity, such as knitting, baking bread, making the perfect cup of tea, putting up shelves, or kayaking, to put at the forefront of your tale. Now focus on the person (your protagonist) performing the activity. Give them an underlying absorption – have they lost or gained something or someone? How has this troubled or excited them? How do the task and the preoccupation impact each other? What will your protagonist do when they finally complete their activity?

You can subscribe to Oh magazine here.

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.

Submit your words to the Moth Nature Writing Prize

Moth by Judy Darley

The Moth Magazine has launched the inaugural Moth Nature Writing Prize. The deadline for entries of nature-inspired short stories, non-fiction and poems is 15th September 2020.

Richard Mabey, one of the UK’s foremost nature writers, will judge submissions.

The Prize will be awarded to the writer of the short fiction, non-fiction or poem that the judges deems to best combine exceptional literary merit with an exploration of the writer’s relationship with the natural world.

The prize is open to anyone over the age of sixteen, as long as the work is original and previously unpublished. Your submitted work must be no longer than 4,000 words.

Prizes

The winning piece will be published in the winter issue of The Moth.

The winner will receive €1,000 and a week-long stay at The Moth Retreat in rural Ireland.

There is a fee of €15 per entry.

Visit www.themothmagazine.com full details.

The Moth Magazine is also running its annual Poetry Prize, with a deadline of 31st December 2020.

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.

Sky Light Rain – Fascinate

9_Fascinate by Judy Darley

Over the coming weeks, I’ll 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. My ninth story in the collection is ‘Fascinate’.

‘Fascinate’ aired on Adam Crowther‘s BBC Upload radio show on Thursday 7th December at around eleven past seven. Adam describes it as being about “an unusual use for animals.”

It’s definitely is one of the shorter, stranger tales in the collection, despite being fully rooted in realism.

For me, fiction writing stems from just about everything my consciousness bumps against. Often these ideas combine and coalesce in barely recognisable forms. In this case, a childhood memory of seeing a hanging basket full of ducklings merged with a magazine feature I’d written about craftidermy.

I used these initial seeds to explore ideas of boundaries. Where do you draw the line? While many people are now vegetarian or vegan, countless others eat meat daily, but even those who do might baulk at eating animals that form part of the normal diet in other countries. If you’ll eat cow, why not horse? If you’ll eat chicken, why not cat…?

The story also explores ideas of different kinds of dominance, and how little we can know about the thoughts bubbling in another person’s head…

The story was originally published in the National Flash Fiction Day UK 2017 anthology Sleep Is A Beautiful Colour, and was later nominated for the Best Small Fictions award 2018.

The tale begins:

I still remember the April when we were small and found a nest of ducklings in a hanging basket. We climbed up on the kitchen roof and scooched close to stare at them.

“Ducklings are magic, Helen,” you told me. “They’re so fluffy they can survive a fall from any height.”

You reached out and scooped one into your palm before I could stop you. It sat there, the breeze weaving through its downy feathers. Then, grinning, you launched it with force into the air.

It splatted against the flagstones below with a squelch that rang through my head. You blinked at me, and giggled.

“Oops. Don’t tell, or I’ll blame it on you.” You slithered off the roof, kicking the tiny corpse beneath the rhododendron leaves where no one would see.

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

Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Moth Room‘.

Writing prompt – response

You are doing a great job. Photo by Judy Darley

My city is full of artists using innovative means to spread a little cheer. At the start of lockdown, messages like these popped up on street corners, sticking out of flowerbeds and hedges.

They foster such positivity that some days I’ve found they make me smile, and others, when I’m feeling a little grouchier, they’ve made me turn away with a frown.

It reminds me how little of how we react is actually about with the thing we’re reacting to.

Present your character with a well-meaning act of kindness, and give them an extreme emotional response that’s really all about some news they received that morning. How much can you show without telling your reader the exact nature of that news? How can you stagger the reveal though what is said and done?

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.

Manchester Poetry and Fiction Prizes

The-Royal-Exchange-Manchester-cr-Judy-DarleyManchester Writing Competition 2020 is open to online and postal entries of poetry and fiction. Each category offers a £10,000 first prize.

The competitions were instigated in 2008 by by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy in 2008. The aim was designed to attract the best new writing from around the world, and to establish Manchester as a literary focal point.

The deadline for all entries is 5pm GMT on 18th September 2020. The entry fee for both contests is £18, with a limited number of reduced price entries  available to writers who might not otherwise be able to take part

The chair of poetry judges is Malika Booker. The £10,000 prize will go to the writer of the best portfolio of three to five poems (maximum combined length: 120 lines). Find full details and enter on the Poetry Prize page.

The chair of fiction judges is Nicholas Royle. The writer of the winning short story of up to 2,500 words will be awarded £10,000. Find full details and enter on the Fiction Prize page.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley(@)ICloud(dot)com.

Sky Light Rain – The Puppeteer

8_The Puppeteer by Judy Darley

Over the coming weeks, I’ll 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. My eighth story in the collection is ‘The Puppeteer’.

Shirley Sharp picI’m often inspired by the narratives I see in artwork, and ‘The Puppeteer’ was initially prompted by this amazing painting by artist Shirley Sharp (published here with her permission).

The characters populating Shirley’s canvasses often have a somewhat melancholy air, which gave me the first seeds of my protagonist’s personality. Then I needed to make sense of the two creatures apparently sitting on his hands, and I dreamt up Tib, a puppeteer who has lost his family through his obsession for his craft.

In the end, a pair of socks offer Tib the courage he needs, but is it too little too late?

The story becomes something of a journey, as the sock puppets help Tib find his way through a fog of melancholy towards hope. The tale plays with time, as Tib is unsure how many months or years have passed. I also prod the question of how much of what’s happening is real, and how much is the product of Tib’s sorrowful mind.

An earlier version of this tale was published by Toasted Cheese Literary Journal.

The tale begins:

How long had it been now? Tib wasn’t certain. More than one year, less than two. God, how had so much time crept by? He thought he’d get them back before this many months. Once the numbness and confusion passed, he was certain he’d be able to win Nancy over, persuade her to bring Pippa home, but it had already been eighteen months, maybe twenty. Or more…

He’d only seen young Pippa once since they left him, and that had been in the most humiliating of circumstances.

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

Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Moth Room‘.

Writing prompt – socket

Plug socket by Judy DarleyRecently we had cause to contact an electrician. The plug socket we use for our kettle was becoming intermittent. Initially I blamed the kettle, but when the empty socket crackled and hissed, I decided it might burn the place down and called in an expert.

He soon discovered the culprit – a teeny, adventurous, but ultimately scorched spider*! He also mentioned that occasionally he’s asked to investigate malfunctioning outside plugs and finds a toasted slug deep inside the electrics.

Can you write this into a kooky story where something unexpected wriggles into a plug socket, with extraordinary results? Perhaps the sneaky something could be resistant to electric shocks, such as a dragon or, um, an electric eel!

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.

*No spiders were harmed in the devising of this creative prompt.

Enter The Masters Review Award for New Writers

Lake Michigan beach.Photo by Judy DarleyThe Masters Review is inviting entries for its Summer Short Story Award for New Writers.

The deadline for submissions is 30th August 2020.

The winning story will be awarded $3000 and publication online. Second and third place stories will be awarded publication and $300 and $200 respectively.

All winners and honorable mentions will receive an agency review by: Nat Sobel from Sobel Weber, Victoria Cappello from The Bent Agency, Andrea Morrison from Writers House, Sarah Fuentes from Fletcher & Company, Heather Schroder from Compass Talent, and Siohban McBride from Carnicelli Literary Management.

Crucial details

  • $20 entry fee
  • $3000 prize
  • Stories must be under 6,000 words in length
  • Previously unpublished stories only
  • Simultaneous and multiple submissions allowed
  • Emerging writers only (Self-published writers and writers with story collections and novels with a low circulation are welcome to submit.)
  • International English submissions allowed
  • Deadline: 30th August, 2020
  • No identifying information on your story

Find full details 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.