My new role as flash fiction editor at Reflex Press

Sears Tower bird by Judy DarleyI’m excited to share the news that I’ve been appointed Flash Fiction Editor at Reflex Press.

I’ll be managing all the flash fiction submissions submitted for publication on the publishing house’s website. I’ve already received some fantastic submissions and am eagerly anticipating plenty of other mini masterpieces!

I want to read work that moves me, startles me, and, most of all, makes me think: ‘Wish I’d written that!’ A skilful flash fiction writer can condense a whole novel into a paragraph, and leave you feeling you’ve absorbed a whole novel in a few moments. I’m hoping to discover entire worlds coiled into a few carefully chosen words.

Find full details here: https://www.reflex.press/introducing-our-new-flash-fiction-editor-judy-darley/ 

Leavings

Hot Water by Judy DarleyMy eco-story ‘Leavings’ is live on today on paragraphplanet.com. And yes, that is a photo of a dribble of hot water on our kitchen countertop, pretending to be a planet. Read the 75-word story to find out why.

I’m afraid it’s less CliFi (Climate Fiction), than an entirely true tale.

The story will only be on the site for one day before it disappears, so it really is a blink and miss it situation, which feels dauntingly apt. The tale will eventually, however appear in the Archive section, unlike our planet… Just choose December 30th to read it.

A #FestiveFlash #AdventCalendar

Red yarn by Judy Darley

I’m delighted that my flash fairy tale ‘Click clack twitch’ has been selected by STORGY magazine for their #FestiveFlash #AdventCalendar. My story is live today, 12th December 2019. 😃🥳

This Advent Calendar such a wonderful idea – a perfect parcel of fiction each day of December, far more nourishing and satisfying than substandard chocolate. My story involves knitting, a dropped mitten, a hint of romance and an unlikely fairy godmother…

Read  ‘Click clack twitch’ here.

A flash fiction – Going Coastal

Seahorse by Judy DarleyIn June I spent a glorious weekend helping out at the Flash Festival at Trinity College near Bristol. I attended as many of the workshops as I could and found myself utterly inspired! Vanessa Gebbie’s workshop ‘The Wierd and Wonderful World of Flash Fiction’ generated zillions of ideas, one of which began with a seahorse and bloomed into my 250-word micro tale Going Coastal.

Here are the opening lines:

Bernadette looked at the seahorse bobbing in its jar of saltwater. It blinked at her through the thick bevelled glass. She thought it seemed depressed.”

I’m delighted to see it published in the Flash Fiction Festival Three anthology, where it jostles happily alongside 81 other micros, including works by some of the flash fiction universe’s luminaries, not least Vanessa herself, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Carrie Etter, Karen Jones, Santino Prinzi and Peter Wortsman, plus a whole exceptional horde of others!

Can’t wait for next year’s Flash Fiction Festival – tickets are available here. The anthology is published by Ad Hoc Fiction and available to buy here.

In the meantime, this is what I’ll be reading:

Flash Fiction Festival Three

A short story – Simmer and Steep

Painted doorway by Judy DarleyI’m chuffed to pieces that my short story Simmer and Steep has been selected for Liars’ League Hong Kong’s Exits & Entrances themed event.

My story was inspired by the drawn doorway shown above, and is about finding your own exits and entrances to embrace the life (and perhaps the person) you want.

“I passed the door on my way to work, and each day the sight of it lit a smile within me. I felt it was shouting what none of us dared say – that most of what we did was filler while we waited for something real to come along.”

In case you weren’t aware, Liars League is an event that matches short fiction to actors, celebrating the spoken word while giving it some thespian panache! Their tagline is Writers Write. Actors Read. Audience Listens. Everybody Wins. There are regular events in various locations around the world.

Liars’ League Hong Kong’s Exits & Entrances themed event takes place on Monday 9th December 2019 at 8pm at Terrible Baby, Eaton Hotel Hong Kong. Find full details here.

An evening of flash fiction

Rose chafer by Judy DarleyI’m excited to be sharing some of my tiniest tales at Flash Fiction, an event on Tuesday 3rd December.

Hosted by author and Flash Fiction Festival queen Jude Higgins, the event at Bishopston Library in Bristol features KM Elkes, Alison Woodhouse, John Wheway and me.

You can find out more and buy tickets (a bargain at just £3 each!) here.

Jude has invited me to read a handful of fairytales, so I plan to open with Invertebrates, my follow-up to the Hansel and Gretel story, from my short story collection Sky Light Rain. It focuses on an unusual dinner party where the guests include an assortment of creepy crawlies, hence the picture at the top of this post.

As far as I’m aware, no beetles will be in attendance at Bishopston Library…

Fiction on the radio – Fascinate

Slimbridge by Judy DarleyMy story ‘Fascinate’ aired on Adam Crowther‘s BBC Upload radio show on Thursday 7th December at around eleven past seven. It’s one of the shorter, stranger tales in my new short story collection Sky Light Rain.

Adam describes it as being about “an unusual use for animals.”

This image above hints at the story’s last line…

It’s available to listen to for 23 more days. Listen in here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07r0g2b 

A short story – What We Talk About When We Talk About Owls

Egg by Judy DarleyI’m so pleased to have my story ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Owls‘ published in Retreat West‘s Charity Anthology 2019, titled No Good Deed. It’s raising funds to support Indigo Volunteers. This brilliant charity matches willing volunteers with humanitarian projects across the globe.

The photo above is a clue to a pivotal incident in the tale. And no, that’s not the moon.

No Good DeedMy story was inspired by the way discussions can skirt around the real issues within a family, so that the crucial point can be ignored in favour of chewing over less relevant or, frankly, more surreal topics.

It began in my mind as an image very like the one above, being gawped at by two sisters. As I allowed the characters to chat, I realised how little we know of what happens in other people’s relationships, even those where we’re closely related to one of the parties.

In this case the key subject is not really owls at all, although one particular species does feature, as you’ll see in the taster lines below.

“That’s a tawny owl egg,” Sammy declares, holding up the egg identification chart I gave her at Easter. “Did you know tawny owls are ferociously defensive of their young? If it’s just been laid it’ll hatch in 30 days.
Can I have it?”

“No!” My sister’s voice is so loud that my niece and I both jump. “Sammy, go and play, will you? I need to speak to your aunt.”

Buy your copy of the No Good Deed anthology here.

A short story – Knotted Rope

Hair grip, Arnos Vale Cemetery by Judy Darley

My publisher Jamie at Valley Press has shared one of the stories from my new collection Sky Light Rain. Knotted Rope is a tale in three voices exploring what happens when a small child goes missing.

I always think the bigger moments in our life belong to more than just us. Ripples of
grief, or relief, can spread through a community. The story was a challenge to write – I initially wrote it in three voices, and then tried letting Meg’s voice rise to the surface, but the three-voice model won out in getting the tale to make sense.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the tale.

We march the pre-schoolers along leafy paths, avoiding the worst of the mud and pointing out buds on branches, robins and magpies. Occasionally, one will forget themselves and skitter off, drunk on the possibilities. But they’re tiny enough that we’re able to speed over and scoop them up. For most, the threat of missing storytime keeps them gripping onto their knot.

A new one started last week – Andrew. Just moved to the area with his jagged-edged mum. He’s walked with us each morning, clutching onto the blue rope with the others. He doesn’t join in with the songs. In the cemetery I watch as he gawks at the woodland. There’s a light in his eyes that makes me wary. He’s meek, or rather, quiet. Easy to confuse those two. Does as he’s told, silent mouth pursed, but I can see that his mind is swooping away.

It was partly inspired by the marvellous overgrown Victorian cemetery in Bristol, Arnos Vale, and the pre-school little-uns I see being taken for outings there.

Read the story in full here.

Sky Light Rain is available to buy here.

A 100-word story – Minotaur

Beach. Photo by Khurt Williams on UnsplashIf you subscribe to Mslexia magazine, you may be aware that in addition to the print magazine, subscribers receive a regular e-newsletter titled Little Ms. This includes news, inspirations, story prompts and opportunities to submit ideas and fiction.

My favourite bit is always the Flash Card, which offers up an often fairly strange image for you to interpret in 100 words of less.

The inspiration for submissions to the October Little Ms showed a man with his head down a hole in a beach.I’m happy to say that my response, below, was selected for publication in the October newsletter.

He had to admit it was a short-term solution at best. But there was something lovely about the dark, cool quiet of the hole he’d stuck his head down. It calmed his urge to snort and paw his feet against the sand. The aim of the holiday had been to escape work stress. It was an unfortunate coincidence that Jan from accounting had booked the same Cretan resort. Off-duty, his natural minotaur head reasserted its dominance. That the hole his daughter had dug into the beach kept this from view could be his saving grace.

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