Writing prompt – figure

Tiny figure. Photo by Judy Darley

This tiny figure clings to a fence outside a home. Are they on their way somewhere or escaping from something?

The intensity in their expression and that lifted hand suggests they have an important message to deliver, so maybe this is the miniature figure equivalent of Speakers’ Corner in London.

Who are their audience? What do they want to say? What will it take for one of the big figures (i.e., in this scenario, us) to listen and take action?

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

The RWA Photo Open Exhibition wants your snaps…

Realm by Judy Darley

Submissions are open for the RWA Photo Open Exhibition. To be in with a chance of showing your photographic work in the RWA’s beautiful galleries, submit your digital images online by Monday 5th December 2022.

Entry is open to emerging talents, passionate amateurs, established artists and professional photographers alike. If you use photography to inform your sculpture, installation, architecture or other artistic practice, you are also encouraged to enter.

All you need is vision, and the courage to send in your finest photos.

A selection panel including internationally acclaimed artists will review every entry.

If selected, your work will be shown in the RWA’s galleries alongside some of today’s leading photographic artists and seen by thousands of visitors and potential buyers, as well as being available for a global audience to buy online.

An assortment of prizes are up for grabs too, including:

  • Teresa Knowles Bursary Award – £1,500 towards a photography trip to Italy PLUS  the opportunity to exhibit the resulting work at the RWA
  • MPB Sponsor Awards – £1000 voucher to spend on photographic kit; plus two runner up awards of £500 vouchers
  • Niche Frames Award – cash prize of £250 plus voucher of £250 towards printing or framing
  • Student Award – £250 cash prize for best work by a student, sponsored by the Friends of the RWA

Entries can be any size and can be single images or make up a limited series. They can be simple photographs or artworks that include a photographic element, including 3-D works. They can be any size.

Find the full submission criteria and submit your work here.

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

Writing prompt – quirks

Cormorant, Bristol. Photo by Judy Darley

I love how most families have their own in-jokes that tap directly to happy or weird and personal memories. In my family, one of these was my dad’s wildlife photos. Back in the days before digital cameras and the option to crop in, he’d come back from our holidays (mostly to South Wales and Devon) with a film full of anticipation.

Once the pictures were developed we’d spend ages trying to spot what he’d actually been photographing – in the midst of a clump of leaves there’d be a distant bird no one could hope to identify.

Sometimes we’d simply make it up: “Ah, I see you’ve snapped the rare lesser-spotted leaf mimicker! Extraordinary.”

This photo I took in September of a far-off cormorant reminds me of that and makes me smile.

What family quirks could you turn into a short story?

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

Book review – Angel by Wendy Beasley

Angel cover
What happens when you hit rock bottom? And what could then prevent you walking into the waves and ending it all?

In Wendy Beasley’s unflinching novel Angel, a night-time moment of impulsive selflessness gives protagonist Lydia the drive not only to stay alive, but to rediscover the things that make life worth embracing.

Having grown up in care, Lydia has already surpassed her own expectations by getting a place at Brighton University and making plans to become a teacher, but when she meets enigmatic Leo and is swept into a love built on possessiveness, her early years of trying to achieve invisibility in foster homes making her less easily able to stand up to his increasingly controlling behaviour.

The opening chapters of the novel are aren’t an easy read, as Leo takes control of every aspect of Lydia’s existence, trapping her in a nightmare marriage.

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Writing prompt – bandstand

Bandstand and geese, Pavilion Gardens, Buxton. Photo by Judy Darley

I adore this bandstand in Buxton’s beautiful Pavilion Gardens. It’s the perfect place for a romantic liaison, to shelter from rain or simply enjoy the views. What promises have been made and possibly broken under its ornate domed roof?

Despite this one being installed in 1997, bandstands are such a gorgeously vintage idea that this one looks to me like a time travel device. Could stepping into it whizz your characters through aeons and eras, and deposit them in a time when sauropods or other herbivorous dinosaurs graze instead of Canadian geese?

Alternatively, imagine the person who warranted this bandstand as a memorial. It’s official name is the  Don Redfern Memorial Bandstand and Google tells me was a conductor, player and promoter of brass bands.

What kind of memorial would be chosen for you?

What story could this thread lead you towards?

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

Writing prompt – claw

Furry paw poking under a fence. Photo by Judy DarleyWhose paw is this, reaching through a gap in the fence between two neighbours’ gardens? The fur may look soft, but no doubt the claws are sharp!

Could it be a domestic cat, or something altogether wilder? Might it be something stranger  – a hybrid creature, or even a mixed up human with animal forelegs and feet instead of arms and hands?

Does the creature have a tail, wings, a nose that breathes fire? Is it a metaphor for things not being what they seem at first glance? Can you turn this into a work of satire or magic realism that confounds your readers’ expectations?

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

Writing prompt – slide

Slide at Victoria Park. Photo by Judy DarleyThis graffiti-covered slide is the last plaything standing in a local playground. The sight of it shoots Madonna lyrics into my head (This Used to be My Playground rather than Like a Virgin…) and makes me view this as a post-apocalyptic wasteland, or, at the very least, post-active humans.

I’m picturing a world where nature thrives without kids to play tag among trees and stay inside absorbed by virtual reality screens instead.

But what if one child found this abandoned slide and discovered the joy of that whooosh as they hurtle down its metal chute? If one child discovered the fun of this, could others be drawn by their giggles and cheers?

Or might you interpret this #WritingPrompt in an entirely different way?

If you write or create something inspired by water, please send an email to judydarley (at) icloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I might publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Book review – An Unfamiliar Landscape by Amanda Huggins

An Unfamiliar Landscape cover. Shows small figure in a yellow and green cityscape.If you’ve read Amanda Huggins’ fiction before, you’ll be aware of the richness of her writing. Equally comfortable writing page-long tales, novels and poetry, Huggins appears to inhabit the worlds she conjures, adding details with the power to be both delicious and disconcerting.

In An Unfamiliar Landscape, Huggins’ third full-length collection, the opening short story Aleksandr offers vapour trails of backstory and future story, so that when it ended, it left me hungry and eager for more.

“I know he hates being on land, that he feels tied to the sea by an invisible thread, that it pulls him back with every ebbing tide.”

It’s easy to fall hard for Huggins’ characters, who spring from pages fully formed and eager to make your acquaintance. Their emotions are deftly, colourfully painted, with yearning a key trait. Even seen through others’ eyes, many seem wistful and searching, making me want to offer solace.

Huggins is able to weave more into a single paragraph than many achieve in pages of text, adding texture and significance to the worlds she creates for her characters to inhabit. Many of these worlds are salt-scented UK coastal settings, while others  lure us further away, inviting us to explore Tokyo, Paris, Berlin and other places.

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