Writing prompt – missing

Hair grip, Arnos Vale Cemetery by Judy DarleyOne of the early inspirations for my story Knotted Rope (published on the Seren website) was a small pink hair clip I saw lying beside a grave in Arnos Vale Cemetery. It made me wonder about the child who had lost it, and then wonder what would happen if the child want missing instead of the clip.

Could this inconsequential item serve as a clue? In the end my story about a missing child took a different route, and that initial thought was reduced to the following:

       I overhear one police officer mutter to another: “Shame it’s not a girl.”

       “Excuse me?” My voice rattles through the air. “What difference would that make?”

       “Oh, none, nothing. Just, little girls tend to carry things, hair slides…” He flounders, pointing to a broken clip on the side of the path. The pink paint is peeling away; it’s spotted with rust. “They’re more likely to leave a trail.”

       I glare at him. “If you’re any good at your job you won’t need a trail, will you?”

What ephemera you spotted by the side of a path or road? What directions could it carry you in your writing?

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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Writing prompt – travel

Twin Blue and Green Lakes, Sete Cidades cr Judy DarleyI often find myself moved to write strange and dreamy fictions while travelling. For instance, my story Two Pools of Water, inspired by a trip to the Azores, and published this week by dear damsels.

Think of a place you’ve visited far from and as unalike home as possible, and use that as the setting for a story. If you can weave in a bit of local legend, so much the better!

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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Green Island

Logoa do Fogo, Sao Miguel by Judy Darley

Logoa do Fogo, Sao Miguel

My travel feature on the tranquility of Sao Miguel, one of the Azores islands, was recently published by In The Moment magazine. It provided a wonderful chance for me to re-live the beauty of that Portuguese isle.

You can buy back issues of In The Moment here. My feature appeared in issue 10.

This is my third feature published about that trip, the previous ones being published in Wedding ideas magazine and A Year In Portugal journal.

I’ve also had a piece published about a somewhat chillier visit to Iceland in Balance magazine. Love getting out to see the world and sharing my discoveries!

Icelandic Thrills feature by Judy Darley

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!