Writing prompt – clue

Hidden Malago happy jumper by Judy Darley

This child-sized jumper was dropped at the entrance to a small section of nature within the city, and slung here to presumably make it easier to retrieve.

How did it end up here? What happened to the child who owned it?

Is the fact that the top is emblazoned with the word ‘Happy’ three times significant in any way?

Follow this story prompt down any dark path that your imagination latches onto.

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – Earth Day

Earth Day_Photo by Judy Darley

This Friday, 22nd April 2022, is Earth Day, and the perfect excuse to celebrate the nature that surrounds us, even in cities.

Rewilding Britain are aiming to raise £50,000 through The Big Give’s Green Match Fund to support the Rewilding Network. They say: “This decentralised, distributed network of rewilding projects across Britain is a hugely powerful tool in catalysing rewilding. Members range from landowners and farmers to businesses, NGOs and communities. If you make a donation between 22nd and 29th April your contribution will be doubled!”

Find out more.

Why not use this as a writing prompt?

You could create a tale about how getting involved with a rewilding project helps a troubled person, or give your characters some nature-friendly habits such as having them cycle instead of drive or borrow instead of buy to subtly raise awareness of how simple changes can make a positive difference.

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Join Writers & Artists’ manuscript submission masterclass

Notebook and pen cr Judy Darley

Got a novel almost ready to submit? Now’s the time to polish your submission package. The canny folks at Writers & Artists are hosting an online Manuscript Submission Masterclass for fiction writers.

The class takes place on 18th May 2022 from 6pm to 8pm and costs £50.

They say: “This masterclass isn’t about writing craft, it’s about how to give you and your book the best possible chance when it comes to approaching literary agents.”

Participants will join two leading literary agents for a two-hour online masterclass packed with advice on how to produce a covering letter, guidance on producing an attention-grabbing pitch, tips on writing a synopsis, and general insights into the role literary agents play for their authors.

The session will include thirty minutes when you can ask any burning questions about the submission process.


18:00- 18:45: A how-to session on knowing when your novel is ready, finding the right agent and what to include in a submission package.

18:45-19:30: Advice on how to pitch your novel

7.30-8:00: Q&A

All attendees have the opportunity to submit their covering letter to receive personal feedback from one of the participating agents.

This is an online event which will be presented using video conferencing software. Joining instructions and full guidance will be provided before the event start-date.

Book your spot here: https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/events-and-courses/manuscript-submission-masterclass-fiction-1

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

Writing prompt – cage

Balcony budgie. Photo by Judy Darley
Walking past any block of flats, I’m often struck by a sense of the dizzying wealth of characters behind the windows and doors, each with their own potential narrative.

One day, a cage set on a sunlit balcony set my imagination whirring.

Who might live in this particular flat? What brought them here? What sets them apart from their neighbours? What do they keep in that cage??? During the recent lockdown periods, I suspect we all noticed the goings on in our locality’s more keenly. What might this resident have noticed? Might they have confided in whatever lives in this cage?

Can you weave a tale that creates a close-knit community, a selection of strangers living in close proximity or a single individual living high above the public street? What might they see, hear and share or keep to themselves?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – stamp

Pavement postage stamp by Judy Darley

A splash of bright blue caught my eye and I spotted this postage stamp stuck to the pavement.

It made me wonder who was trying to mail this part of the city, where to and why. Who would have received it and what might they have used it for?

If the entire street had been swept up into this package, what might have happened to the residents? Could they have found themselves tipped from their homes like dollhouse figurines, or would they have ended up wherever the stamp was carrying this important post?

Can you turn this into an intriguing tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Inside ‘The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain’

Bristol writer Judy Darley

Ahead of my book launch and literary night for my new short story collection The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain, I wanted to share some of the press I’ve received.

First up is a write-up by Sarski Anderson, Culture Editor at Bristol 247. The feature offers lots of insights into how I used fiction-writing as a sanity-saver during lockdown.

For Darley, walking and writing became a vital tool through which to process her emotions about what was happening in the wider world at the time, and to channel the people that she saw on her daily strolls: “from the woman howling beneath a tree in Victoria Park, who features in Leaf after Leaf, to the child whose mum is a key worker in The Rules of Contagion, which includes a hopscotch grid drawn on a path in Perrett Park”.

Why Rivers Run to the Sea gives voice to rivers, a physical representation of the urge to escape that Darley occasionally felt during the early days of the lockdowns.

She notes that curiously, as a writer, the narrowing of her personal horizons actually served to add new depths and greater complexity to her work. It was a powerful means of escape, into an inner world. “Writing gave me a chance to zigzag through memories and daydreams, and allowed me to recast my anxieties in a form that I could adapt and control in the shape of fantasies that became short stories.

The feature also includes a complete flash fiction from the collection.

You can read the full feature here.


Alison Woodhouse, author of The House on the Corner, has reviewed The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain. She writes:
This new collection of short fiction, the third from Judy Darley, is ambitious. Stories explore the pandemic and possible consequences on our mental and material wellbeing, our relationship with the natural world and the accelerating impact of climate change, alongside both the struggles and joys that arise between siblings, parent/child and lovers. They range from a few thousand words (The Daughters) to just one line (Elegy), traveling across genre and form. Sci-fi, cli-fi, dystopias, utopias, realism, magic realism, surrealism, absurdism, all mixed up to offer a breathtaking range of astute social commentary and emotional complexity.

Interview with Bristol Life magazine

I was interviewed by Deri Robins of Bristol Life magazine about my writing and reading loves for their prestigious back page spot. Deri asked some brilliant questions about my writing background, from growing up in a house full of books to learning to be concise and avoid cliches through my work as a travel writer. As a journalist myself, it was fun to be on the other end of the scrutiny for once!  You can read the feature here or online here.
She writes: “Judy Darley has an eclectic CV. Not only has she worked as a journalist and a communications manager, but as a shepherdess – the latter conjuring up an irresistible (though undoubtedly inaccurate) Arcadian vision of Judy depicted in Meissen porcelain.” Now, doesn’t that sound like a perfect writing prompt?

Get in touch!

If you want to know more about my writing, about The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain book launch & literary night or would like a review copy of The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com. Thanks!