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

Secondly, a story inspired by a visit to Thai elephant sanctuary, titled ‘Sanctuary’, under… (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) to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on

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



A short story – the ebb and flow of tides

The Ebb and Flow of Tides by Judy DarleyI’m delighted that my short story ‘The ebb and flow of tides‘, in which a couple separated by lockdown enjoy a two-person remote carnival, has been published in issue 1 of Perhappened Magazine.

In solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement currently rocking the Globe, Perhappened’s excellent editors are password-protecting the first issue upon its release and asking you to either show evidence of a donation of ANY AMOUNT to a BLM/bail fund-related cause, or  proof of signed petition(s), and/or email templates for justice.

Here’s how The ebb and flow of tides begins:

For my lover’s lockdown birthday, we devise carnival costumes to cheer ourselves up. My mask will be the sun, to represent my fiery temperament. Hers will be the moon: calm, cool, reflective.

We live in different households, so there’s no chance of holding hands.

I must have water on the brain at the moment, as on Saturday 6th June, National Flash Fiction Day, I wrote a short tale prompted by the photo of a stormy sea. My story is called ‘Why rivers run to the sea‘, and explains exactly that in the words of the River Frome which  rushes through Bristol. Happily, this story is now live at The Write-In.

Here’s a taste of the tale:

I hunger for salt. I call to the gulls to follow me. I ripple with the anticipation of
spider crabs, squat lobsters, cuttlefish, cup coral and squirts.

I crave the North Atlantic.
My spine shivers with the instinct to surge in peaks.

So, rivers, celestial bodies, passion and energy.

A Flash Flood of Fiction

Weaving Wings by Judy DarleyTomorrow, Saturday 6th June 2020, marks National Flash Fiction Day UK, and I’m thrilled to have one of my stories take part. All day long, flash fiction stories will be published in the Flash Flood, and my tale Weaving Wings, a favourite of mine from my collection Sky Light Rain, will appear at around 8.40am BST.

I’m particularly thrilled as this year, thanks to lockdown, the hard-working team at NFFD headquarters received an unprecedented number of high quality submissions – 1,650 in total!

You can pop in at any time from 00:01 BST on 6th June to dip a toe in the torrent. From the chatter on Twitter it looks like there will be some shining examples of the flash fiction form to sweep you along.

You’re also invited to take part in the The Write-In this year. Throughout Saturday 6th June, the team will publish 24 flash prompts — one every hour from 00:01 to 23:59 BST.

“Submit your responses by 23:59 BST on Sunday 7th June for a chance to be published at The Write-In.  Writers of all levels of experience welcome!”

Pandemic prompt – distance

Tesco line-up_by Judy Darley

Remember when we used the word ‘social’ without following it with ‘distance’? Those two words once added up to an oxymoron, but it’s become normal with a speed that daunts me.

Can you write a timely story in which two strangers make a connection in a supermarket queue, despite, or because, of social distancing rules?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at) to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on

Enter The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize

Terra Nostra Tropical plants cr Judy DarleyWasafari magazine invites submissions of Poetry, Fiction and Life Writing for The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize. Supported by Queen Mary University of London and Routledge, the winners of each category receive a £1,000 cash prize and will be published by Wasafiri in print and online.

The prizes include the chance to take part in the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility).

Shortlisted writers will be published online with Wasafiri and may be eligible for Free Reads mentoring also.

The prize closes on 15th June 2020.

Find full details of how to enter at

This year, Penguin editor Simon Prosser will judge fiction, Guardian journalist Aida Edemariam will judge life writing, and award-winning poet Raymond Antrobus will judge poetryPublisher and poet Kadija Sesay is chairing the judging panel.

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.




A short story – Shadows and Shine

The BeautifullestI’m thrilled that my flash fiction story ‘Shadows and Shine’ has been published in The Beautifullest: Pure Slush Vol. 17. It’s a slightly twisted tale of sibling rivalry between two brothers.

Here’s a line from my story:

‘A spare key to the woman’s house hangs in their hallway. He wants to see what happens if he enters while she’s out.’

The publication features flash fiction, poetry and essays by 89.
Various other eBook formats will follow in the coming weeks.

Pandemic prompt – thank you

NHS thanks by Judy DarleyThroughout the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the most heart-warming, spirit-lifting, tear-jerking responses has been the weekly applause for our wonderful NHS and other key workers.

The overflow of gratitude has been criticised by some, however, including key workers themselves, who’ve pointed out that it shouldn’t take a crisis of this magnitude for their hard work to be valued.

Can you spin this into an impactful tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at) to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on