This Too – a short story and a prize!

This Too_ladybirdI was delighted when my short story This Too was selected for publication by The Great Margin, a project set up by Paper Nations. The selection included a chance to have my story edited by the splendid Michael Loveday, who pointed out a mixed metaphor, which led to me amending a single sentence. Other than that, the story went live exactly as it had been submitted.

The story began to bubble up in summer 2019, when our garden was parched and everything felt poised by the heat for something big to happen. In my story, the ‘something’ becomes a wait for a phone call following medical tests.

Roll forward to summer 2020, and we were all on tenterhooks thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. I found myself thinking about everyone who’d had to put immune suppressing treatment on hold, and about the strain that was causing them and their loved ones. The story gained a new dimension.

I brought in the ladybird plague of 1976 because it’s something so strange and dramatic, and yet as someone who wasn’t yet born it seems to be like the stuff of folklore. I wanted to imagine that one day the Covid-19 pandemic will seem that remote and strange thanks to the passage of time. This too will pass.

This week, I have cause to celebrate the story once more as the amazing folks at Paper Nations got in touch to let me know This Too has been chosen as story of the month. I won a book voucher for the marvellous Mr B’s Emporium. Even better, they published a piece explaining all the reason’s they love my story. Aww. *blushes*.

Bristol Festival of Literature goes digital

Bristol waterways cr Judy DarleyFor its grand ten-year anniversary, Bristol Festival of Literature is taking its celebration of the written words and going digital by hosting the entire festival via Zoom.

An array of literary events, all of which are free to attend this year (although donations are encouraged), will take place between 10th and 25th October 25th, entirely accessible from your living room.

“The festival has a policy of using unusual places and going out into the community,” says Jari Moate, one of the founders. “So we have a lot of experience of working with venues, but doing everything on Zoom is entirely new to us. I’m sure we will have a few adventures along the way!”

As always, the grassroots festival is offering opportunities for local authors to show off their stories, but is taking advantage of the online element by casting its net further afield. On Saturday 24th October, authors from Georgia will be joining the Festival to discuss the evolving literary scene in their country and to share experiences with British authors.

Events kick off on Saturday 10th October with the Bristol Short Story Prize Awards, offering your the chance to writers, agents, publishers and literature lovers from around the world as the Bristol Short Story Prize reveals the winner of its 13th annual competition.

The Book Of EchoesA week later the festival proper begins on ​Friday 16th October with highlights including Rosana Amaka in Conversation with novelist Dr Sanjida O’Connell as they discuss Amaka’s powerful debut novel The Book Of Echoes.

​On Saturday 17th October, you can take part in The Bristol Festival of Literature 2020 Writers’ Retreat and book a sessions with an industry expert to help you pursue dreams of publication.

​Also on Saturday 17th October, Poets 4 The Planet will perform thought-provoking poetry responding to the climate crisis.

​On Sunday 18th October you can carry on the climate crisis theme in a more proactive way with Imagine: Writing Bristol’s Future. Bristol Climate Writers will guide you through using creative techniques to explore and interpret issues based around climate changed seeking solutions for a sustainable Bristol.

​On Monday 19th October, find out more about the abolitionist movement in Bristol with Colston: Fact And Fiction with Roger Ball, Mark Steeds and Ros Martin.

On​ Thursday 22nd October, discover Landscapes: A showcase of work by The Diverse Creative Writing Group when  members of the Diverse Creative Writing Group for adults with Autistic Spectrum Condition.

​Also on Thursday, learn to craft short poems in response to your dreams with Dream Haiku with Asha Sahni and gain an insight into challenging the status quo with Novel Nights: Taking Risks As A Writer with Julie Cohen, hosted by David Lloyd.

Friday 23rd October brings Stories of Strong Women – Inspirational Female Authors, in which Jane Duffus, Elle Spellman and Heather Child with discuss trailblazing women writers, and a chance to see the UK’s hottest spoken word/performance/slam/stand up poets at Burning Eye Presents.

​​Finally, Story Sunday – The Great Escape with Just Write Bristol will offer showcase of original fiction written and performed by local writers.

For the full programme and to book your spots before they all disappear, visit

Got an event, challenge, competition, new venture 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 – Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire

Ever wondered how a short story takes its first breath and finds life? We’re now well over a third of the way through my series of posts offering insights into my writing process and sharing the inspiration behind the flash fiction and short stories that make up my Valley Press collection Sky Light Rain.

The fifteenth story is ‘Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire.’ This longer than average title leads you into a drabble – a 100-word micro fiction – about a couple carrying out a ritual to mark the end of their relationship. It was originally published by the aptly named The Drabble.

If you have any 100-word tales knocking around, I highly recommend you send it their way. One of my writing passions is compressing whole lives, relationships and break-ups into less than half a page.

My drabble popped into my head when my man and I (still vey much together) decided to hide a pair of small stone gargoyles in a local woodland. One disappeared pretty promptly, but the other lurked in a mass of ivy for months.

The tale begins:

They dressed in the dark, fumbling over bootlaces and coal-black buttons. Lucinda picked up the ceramic gargoyle Crispin had given her early in their romance. He chose the straw doll Lucinda wove for their first anniversary.

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

Discover the inspiration behind my other Sky Light Rain stories by clicking on the story titles below.

Discover the inspiration behind ‘Untrue Blue‘. 
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Weaving Wings’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Woman and Birds’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Shaped from Clay’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Knotted Rope’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Two Pools of Water’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Apollo’s Offspring’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Fascinate’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘A Blackbird’s Heart’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Paper Flowers’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Strawberry Thief’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Moth Room’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Far From the Farm’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Flamingos and Ham’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Lamp Black’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Elevated Truths’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Not Every Wound Can Heal’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Little Blessings’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Lodged’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Invertebrates’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Geese Among the Trees’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Blue Suitcase’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Distant Storms‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Sculptor‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Underwire’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Breathing Water’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Reeds and Curlews.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Fin‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Blossoming Almond Tree‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Merrow Cave‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Milk and Other Lies‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Edge of the Sand‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘What Rises’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Carry the Sky’.

If you’d like to request a review copy of Sky Light Rain or interview me about my writing, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.