Flamingos and Ham – flash fiction

Flamingos and Ham by Judy DarleyMy very short dystopian tale Flamingos and Ham has been published by Ellipsis Zine Two. It offers a glimpse of a future that a certain D. Trump esquire would undoubtedly heartily approve of, and was inspired in part by 2017’s heartfelt Women’s Marches and the Pussyhat’s that provided a vivid flash of pink to the ensembles.

Ellipsis Zine TwoYou’ll need to buy the magazine to read the story in full (or wait for my next short story collection to come out in 2019 – squeee!). Here’s a sneaky taster:

Flamingos and Ham by Judy Darley

I was 12 when the ruling came in, banning certain words, colours, and clothing. It seemed farcical at first. My mum and dad laughed in disbelief as they watched the news.

“How can they outlaw pink?” Dad hooted. “What about flamingos and… and, ham?!”

Mum grimaced. “How can they forbid hats, and wool? What are they afraid of?”

Neither mentioned the words considered inflammatory. I think they understood even then that to utter them aloud could be dangerous.

Buy Ellipsis Zine Two.

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The Edge of the Sand – a short story

Cornish shore cr Judy Darley

My short story The Edge of the Sand is the featured tale in issue 9, the March issue, of In The Moment magazine. It’s in shops now.

Turn to the centre of the any issue and you’ll find the cute mini-mag, inviting you to “take a moment”, with a recipe, a crossword and a short story. What a fab idea!

IntheMomentissue9Their strapline for my tale reads: “Arianne finds a way to help her mother overcome her fears in this moving story by Judy Darley.”

What a great introduction. Ta very much!

It’s a beautiful magazine to have my words take up home in, and they pay a decent amount too, which is refreshing. In issue 10 they’re publishing a travel piece I’ve written for them about visiting the Azores. Can’t wait to see how it look on the page.

And, yes, I have used this photo previously to illustrate a post about my tale Adrift. It’s curious how many of my stories happen within earshot of the sea!

Writing prompt – fever

Jardim Botanico Jose do Canto tree cr Judy Darley

Over Christmas and New Year I was ill with a sinus infection that led to high blood sugars, racing pulse and boiling temperatures, a concoction which led in turn to some pretty peculiar  imaginings. One result of this was a hastily, barely legibly scribbled story that I ended up naming Old Blue Eye.

It’s now been published by The Fiction Pool. I can honestly say it’s one of the strangest tales I’ve written.

So this week, why not try putting yourself in an unfamiliar frame of mind? I’m not advocating drugs or attempting to catch some terrible ague, but you could try to write in bed before you’re full awake, or stay up late and write when your thoughts begin to ramble. Who knows what gems your addled brain might come up with?

You can read my fevered flash fiction Old Blue Eye here, but please be warned, if you’re of a sensitive disposition you may emerge rather disturbed!

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’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

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Taf – a poem

Walking to Dylan Thomas' home in Laugharne with Dad 2016 cr Judy Darley

Walking to Dylan Thomas’ home in Laugharne with Dad, November 2016

I’m thrilled that my poem Taf has been published in issue 3 of DNA magazine. I wrote it while visiting Laugharne in South Wales with my mum last summer. It’s a place we’ve often stayed as a family, and this was the first time I’d visited since Dad became too unwell with Alzheimers to travel.

The issue hinges on the theme Locations, so a poem written with such a strong sense of place felt like the right submission. The town, its woods and the tidal estuary are full of reminders that Dylan Thomas lived there for a while, and this time it felt as though Dad’s ghost and Dylan’s were strolling together through every view. It’s a strange thing to grieve a person whose heart still beats.

My poem Taf aims to capture some of that emotional conflict, as well as the beauty of Laugharne. You can read the poem here.

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A short story – Garden Shed

Garden Shed by Judy Darley
My story Garden Shed has been published by the excellent New Flash Fiction magazine. It’s a deeply personal piece reporting almost verbatim from a dream about my father, who has Alzheimer’s Disease. I woke reeling with the discovery that all this time the man we’ve lost has been out there, safe in the shed, while the poor soul he’s become ambles through an increasingly confusing world.

Philip blurred by Judy Darley

The picture to the left captures him ice-skating one Christmas, just as he was beginning to blur.

You can read my story here: http://newflashfiction.com/judy-darley/

Literary Bristol

Judy Darley in Redcliffe CavesBristol Festival of Literature returns from 19th-28th October 2017, with curious, intriguing, inspiring events popping up all over the city. I wrote a feature about it for The Bristol Magazine, titled Bookish Bristol, and was wowed by the options on offer. Events are already selling out, so get your tickets fast!

You can pick up copies of The Bristol Magazine all over the city, in cafes, hairdressers, estate agents and other businesses.

I’m taking part in a least two events. The first is Bristol Writers Group and Friends Go Into The Dark, taking place in Redcliffe Caves from 7-9pm on Tuesday 24th Oct. Tickets have already sold out! I’m one of the friends, and very excited to be invited back. Reading in the caves is a really magical event – it’s a wonderfully spooky environment. I’ll be sharing my tale Merrow Cave. The pic at the top of this post (photo taken by Sally Hare) shows me at a previous year’s event.

Tickets cost £5.50 each.

Novel Nights Oct 2017 readers

Novel Nights Oct 2017 readers

The second is Novel Nights, which I’ll be co-hosting with founder Grace Palmer from on Wednesday 25th October. Three local writing talents, Alison Brown, Kate Simants and Deborah Tomkins, will share novel extracts before Cornerstones literary editor Dionne McCulloch offers her insights on novel-writing and answers questions from the audience. It’s happening at The Square Club, 15 Berkeley Square, Bristol. Get tickets for £8 here.

There are so many other fabulous literary happenings to choose from too. Find the full programme and ticketing details at unputdownable.org. Hope to see you at an event or few!

Stitch by glorious stitch…

Ian Berry artistOne of the features I’ve most enjoyed writing recently is Oh Sew Beautiful for Simply Sewing issue 34 (in shops and available to buy online now). It gave me the chance to interview five exceptional artists who use threads and fabric as their medium.

Harriet Riddell, Ian Berry , Jessica So Ren Tang, Nigel Cheney and Michelle Kingdom each create worlds of light, shade, texture and dreams using their textiles of choice.

India, Living Root Bridge stitch by Harriet Riddell

India, Living Root Bridge stitched by Harriet Riddell

Harriet captures the scenes and faces she encounters on her travels using a peddle-powered sewing machine. “I like to work from life and use my surroundings as a colour reference,” she says. “I love the tactile nature of textiles. I love textures and how strong the use of line can be when in thread.”

Detail by Ian Berry

Detail by Ian Berry

The gorgeous painterly quality of Ian’s artwork is achieved through hours of painstaking effort. “They take a long time to create, layering up the denim pieces and also finding the perfect shade,” he says. “When I open up the pocket, underneath you’ve got such a strong indigo, with a gradient to where the pocket opens. I see the fade in the cat’s whiskers, the amazing contrasts around the belt and a hem, and all of this allows me to use the denim like paint.

Blue Willow Plate detail stitched by Jessica So Ren Tang

Blue Willow Plate detail stitched by Jessica So Ren Tang

Jessica fell in love “with the softness and tactile nature of embroidery. I could create 3D objects and illustrative thread paintings with textile and fabric. It offered the potential to create something new and different.”

Nigel Cheney dog portraits photo by Sylvain_Deleu

Dogs by Nigel Cheney, photo by Sylvain Deleu

Nigel is passionate about fabrics. “There’s something about the quality of colour when it’s in a soft material that can’t be beaten,” he says. “The way that linen will have a faded grandeur and silk a bloom and depth of shimmering colour is so seductive. The tactility of different fibres, their textures and physical properties never fail to make my heart sing.”

Using threads was instinctual for Michelle. “While it’s inherently beautiful, there’s also something primitive, awkward and fragile about it, which strikes me as both compelling and honest,” she says. “Undeniably tactile in nature, embroidery touches not only the seamstress in me, but connects me to the memory of so many women with stories buried in thread that came before me.”

Life Will Divide Us by Michelle Kingdom

Life Will Divide Us by Michelle Kingdom

Michelle’s preferred technique is to use thread loosely as a drawing tool. “More and more I move away from traditional stitch technique and prefer to play with thread in intuitive ways to recreate the medium. I tackle one new piece at a time and continue to plough ahead on new ideas. The medium seems the best way for me to express my private thoughts, and its results still surprise me after all these years.”

Read the full issue in Simply Sewing issue 34.

Wordy riches

Wordy riches by Judy DarleyI got back from holiday to discover three exciting parcels waiting for me. What a brilliant welcome home! Each package contained a wealth of wordy riches.

The first I opened contained a review copy of The Dragonfly by Kate Dunn, which I can’t wait to start reading.

Sleep is a Beautiful ColourThe second was this year’s National Flash Fiction Day anthology, Sleep is a Beautiful Colour, containing my story Fascinate.

The book offers up a selection of fabulously quirky and inventive flashes compiled and edited by Santino Prinzi and Meg Pokrass. I’m so pleased to have my tale included!

The third package contained my prize for winning third place in the National Flash Fiction Day NZ competition – my favourite kinds of prizes, words.

In The Wild Wood by Frances Gapper already has me enthralled, and, yes, those are teeny tiny books in the little box in the centre. So enticing!

National Flash Fiction Day NZ 3rd prize

I feel well and truly topped up with gorgeous fictions. Don’t expect to hear from me for a while 🙂

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A flash about a dragon

Bamboo forest by Judy DarleyA dragon flies into a bar.

Ouch.

I’m thrilled that my story Flightless has not only been published on the Micro Madness website for National Flash Fiction Day NZ, but has been placed third in the Micro Madness competition!

The competition organisers asked if I mind it being read aloud at the festival events in New Zealand – of course I don’t mind, I only wish I could be there!

You can read it here.