Charged Particles – a short story

Penis Museum2

My short story Charged Particles has been published by MIR Online. Set in Iceland, it’s about two English sisters seeking common ground, while hoping to glimpse the Northern Lights.

The shot above shows exhibits from the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which features in the story.

Here’s an excerpt from near the beginning of Charged Particles:

Rain transformed to snow somewhere between us unpacking our bags and Aurora’s text asking if we’d arrived. Let’s meet at the penis museum, she suggested. I hear it is adorbs!

I showed Lawrence the text and rolled my eyes.

“Give her a chance,” he said. “You know how you get with her.”

“Only because she brings it out in me!” I snapped.

He shrugged. “All siblings are like that. Come on, let’s go.”

The settling snow glittered with fractures of miniature rainbows. I found myself converted as we strolled amid the drifting flakes, boots crunching into the crisp surface. A smile broke out over my face. I grabbed for Lawrence’s hand and held tight, our mittens squishing together. He cast me a sidelong glance and I knew he was wondering what cheerful changeling had replaced his sceptical wife.

Read Charged Particles in full.

Elevated Truths – a short story

Lift at ABode by Judy DarleyI’m pleased to share the news that my short story Elevated Truths has been published by Fictive Dream magazine.

The story explores the changing relationship between a father and daughter over a number of years, as well as the lies we tell and pretend to believe for comfort’s sake. It also focuses quite a lot on lifts, which fascinate and scare me in equal measure!

The seeds of this story began way back in 2016, with this writing prompt. Two years’ on, I actually sat down and began to write it down. Funny how long the germination process can take sometimes.

Here’s an excerpt from the story’s final section.

The elevator doors ping open.

“It’s me!” I yell, fake-cheerful, as I let myself into the flat. I go straight into the kitchen and open the fridge door, blocking my view to the living room. That way Dad will have time to get from couch to bedroom and pull on proper clothes if he’s still in his pyjamas.

There are cherry tomatoes wizening in the salad drawer, and a Peach Melba yogurt only one day past its sell-by-date. I grab it.

“All right, love?” Dad asks, sidling into the room.

‘How’s the writing going?” I ask, spooning a small orange mountain into my mouth.  

“Oh, great, making real progress.” Dad’s eyebrows pinch outwards and down.

I used to think that movement showed he was lying, but I’ve come to understand it means he’s trying to convince himself that what he’s saying is true. A subtle difference.

You can read the full story here.

Review – Quartet: The Four Seasons

Quartet coverEdited by Deborah Gaye of Avalanche books, Quartet is a celebration of the moods that make up each season. The anthology of poetry and short prose doubles up as an almanac reminding us of the best that every quarter of the year has to offer.

Two of my pieces, a poem and a flash fiction (More Water Than Land and The Moth Room), lodge in these pages, among with many, many others. We begin in winter with a murmuration, glimpses of lapwings, an “upturned umbrella” on Pendine Sands, and the generosity of a dawn sky “layered in gold.”

In DecemberJohn Mole welcomes nostalgia in the form of “our ghosts/ as they come out of hiding/ to warm their hands/ at the fire we have made”, while in Foula, Auls Yule, Katrina Porteous invites us to “drink to the days/ the sun makes ripe”.

In Precious, Gaia Holmes evokes the magic of ice working “its dark magic,/ gliding and glazing/ the grid of dull roads,/ laminating grass/ and slug tracks,/ making rotten fence posts/ precious”. It’s such a vivid, recognisable scene of the ordinary rendered spectacular. Continue reading

BBC Upload wants your words

Pressed leaf1 by Judy DarleyIf you have a short story you’ve written that you’d like to hear on the radio and you’re based in the Bristol area, there’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.

DJ Adam Crowther invites writers, poets and spoken word performers from Bristol, Bath, North Somerset and South Gloucestershireto get in touch.

All you need to do is record yourself reading your piece, save it as an MP3 file, and upload it at BBC Upload.

If Adam selects your piece to share, he’ll give you a call to find out a few details, and you’ll be able to hear your poem or story on his evening show Upload with Adam Crowther.

Adam aired my short story ‘Pressed Leaves’ on 11th December 2018. ‘Pressed Leaves’ captures a moment in time in which a young girl, Anna, helps her mother clear out the artist’s studio of the grandfather she’s never met.

Listen to me read ‘Pressed Leaves’ here. It’s at about 1 hr 13 min in. #fictionontheair

Apollo’s Offspring – a short story

Rook waterwalking2 by Judy DarleyYou may recall my #WritingPrompt from October, suggesting you draw on myths for inspiration.

Rathalla Review Fall 2018Another of my stories inspired by myths appears in the Fall 2018 issue of Rathalla Review. It involves an au pair, who happens to be a raven, and a mother who’s ex happens to be the Greek God Apollo.

I’m so pleased to see my work in this beautiful publication, and to find a home for this uncanny tale.

Click here and leaf through the issue to read it.

A short story – Milk and Other Lies

Bristol, Avon Gorge by Judy DarleyI’m thrilled to have had my very short story Milk and Other Lies published by SmokeLong Quarterly. I’ve had my eye on this excellent publication for a while, and I’m really pleased that this is the story they’ve chosen to publish.

I submitted my piece during a submission when students in the Amsterdam Creative Writing course got to have a say, and received the exciting news that they had chosen my story as their favourite during their week of guest editing for SmokeLong!

Also very happy that my story featured in SmokeLong’s weekly mail out, which means that if you subscribe to their newsletter, my words will have arrived in your inbox this morning 🙂

You can read my story here: http://www.smokelong.com/milk-and-other-lies/ 

A short story – First Light

Victoria Park frost by Judy Darley

My short story First Light has been published in the December issue of Living Quietly magazine. This Christmas story is inspired by my dad, who in retirement used to go and watch the sunrise and share stories with a group of friends. I remember him coming home more than once wearing a carved wooden medal enscribed with the words Best Liar!

My story begins:

Living Quietly Issue 4 front coverIt’s still dark when he wakes me, the familiar creak of the bedroom door and his low “Time to get up, love” making me think for a moment that I’m a child still, on the brink of a school day’s slog. The blaze of his white hair catches the light spilling in from the landing, dragging me back to the present.

I haul myself out of bed and pull on thermal underlayers, jeans, socks, extra socks, a lambswool jumper. A scent of spice catches the back of my throat: cinnamon and nutmeg.

Downstairs the kettle rumbles, a flask standing by ready to be filled. Dad’s wrapping oven-warmed mince pies in a clean tea-towel so they’ll hold their heat.

Download your copy of the issue here or click on the lovely glowy issue cover above.

A short story – Fish Flakes

Reggie cr Judy DarleyYesterday I received the news that a short story I submitted to an online publication in May has been accepted. And today they notified me that it’s been published!

Just shows it’s worth being patient! I’m excited because it’s a creepy/ridiculous work of fiction (honest!) that stars our resident goldfish Reggie. Apologies to our neighbour’s cat who cameos, but doesn’t fare so well. Click on the link below to read it in full. They even used the photo of Reggie, with a slightly sinister filter…

If you’re having a vague sense of deja vu, it may be because I posted a writing prompt about Reggie some months ago. I followed my own advice and wrote a piece inspired by our unexpected lodger, with a rather twisted ending. Perfect for Halloween week!

Sunday Stories: “Fish Flakes”

A short story – Evening Tide

Little House by Gilly Mound

Little House by Gilly Mound

My story Evening Tide has been published in the October issue of Living Quietly magazine. It’s a version of my tale Farewell Gifts, which I shared at Salon Soirées’ mirror-themed evening on Tuesday 11th September. It reveals the crunch moment in a woman’s life, and a fresh start within earshot of the sea.

The story was partly inspired by artist Gilly Mound’s painting Little House, pictured above.

Here are a few lines from it:

The house sits on the edge of a field, its tiled roof sagging in camaraderie with windows and doors. Sunbeams bounce from the panes as though someone inside has turned on a light.

The lettings agent allows me to spend half an hour exploring.

“Let me just…” I keep saying as I try to imagine how the spaces will feel with only me and the resident spiders to occupy them. Cobwebs glint wherever the sun sneaks in, nestling where beams meet and holding the place together.

“It’s perfectly safe,” the lettings agent says as we emerge.

“I’ll take it,” I respond. My heart flutters as I utter the words, and I grin at the crooked house.

I’m really pleased to have Evening Tide included in the magazine, which describes itself as being for people “who want to tread more gently through life.” How lovely.

Imaginative city

Waterstones Bristol. Photo by Judy DarleyBristol Festival of Literature begins on Friday 19th October and runs until Sunday 28th October, with a variety of imagination-stirring events taking place across the city. I’ve written about it for The Bristol Magazine, and can’t wait to dig into the riches promising to well up.

You can read my feature in the October print edition, or online here: https://thebristolmag.co.uk/word-on-the-street-bristol-festival-of-literature/

Jari Moate. Photo by Paul Bullivant

Jari Moate. Photo by Paul Bullivant

I’ve already got my tickets for two of the highlights I mention in the piece The first of these is Festival founder Jari Moate’s launch of his novel Dragonfly, taking place on Saturday 20th October at Waterstones, the Galleries. It starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are free but need to be booked here: www.bristolliteraturefestival.org

The second is the very last event of the festival – Finding the Positive –Dystopias and Utopias in a Changing Climate.

This CliFi (aka Climate Fiction) workshop is from 2-5pm on Sunday 28th October at Bristol’s YHA, and promises to offer insights into how we can share stories of our changing climate and inspire action in a positive way. I’m looking forward to soaking up plenty of inspiration!

Bristol Writers Group in Redcliffe Caves1. Photo by Paul Bullivant

Bristol Writers Group in Redcliffe Caves1. Photo by Paul Bullivant

Lots of other intriguing happenings are unfolding throughout the days of the festival, including Dark Confessions with Bristol Writers Group and friends. I’m one of the friends and looking forward to sharing my story Tunnelled in the setting that prompted it – Redcliffe Caves. Find out more and book tickets here.

And if you make it to anything on the Festival calendar, let me know how you get on!

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