Writing on Water workshop

Writing on Water. Photo of Bristol's Lightship.I’m excited to let you know that I’m teaming up with brilliant poet Helen Sheppard to teach a workshop on writing about water. Taking place on Bristol’s Lightship from 10am to 3pm on Saturday 22nd October, the Writing on Water workshop will include writing prompts, generative exercises and an inspiration-gathering stroll on Bristol harbourside.

Tea, coffee and snacks will be provided. There will be time for lunch, and chat!

Why write about water?

I’ve been drawn to this mercurial, enigmatic element throughout my writing career, opening my debut short story collection Remember Me To The Bees with a story titled ‘Never seen the Sea’.

Fiction, non-fiction and poetry can all swim into watery themes, whether that’s to add atmosphere, provide a setting or build an evocative metaphor.

How do you write about water? Does it trickle? Surge? Roar?

Is it hungry? Foreboding? Volatile? Reflective? Tranquil?

Whether you write about a raindrop or an ocean, you can harness water as a powerful writing muse.

As a taster, here’s a splash from ‘Never seen the Sea’:

A triangle of blue sharper and brighter than the sky – that was the first of it. Then a tang in her throat like the savoury suck of a chip dipped in salt and vinegar. As she got closer, other sensations rang through her: a crack and crash like a glass falling and rolling and splintering again and again in a bathroom washbasin; a deep breath in, gasp out shuddering through the shore; the freshness of rain in the air, bursting against her skin from every direction possible.
And the triangle soared, spread out, transforming into a strip that hurtled all the way to the horizon, meeting the sky with a dazzle that forced her to glance away; a size too vast to comprehend; bigger than the confines of her mind could contain. But more than that was the endless movement, less like one vast thing than a mass of smaller things, heaving, jostling, vying for the surface yet never quite breaking through.

Who will be teaching you?

Judy Darley photo credit Jo Mary Bulter Photography_cropJudy Darley is a fiction writer, journalist and occasional poet from Bristol. Her fiction has been described as ‘shimmeringly strange’, possibly because she can’t stop writing about the infinite fallibilities of the human mind. Judy’s words have been published and performed on BBC radio and harbour walls, as well as in bookshops, museums, cafés, caves, pubs, a disused church and an artist’s studio. Judy is the author of three fiction collections: The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain (Reflex Press), Sky Light Rain (Valley Press) and Remember Me To The Bees (Tangent Books). Find Judy at SkyLightRain.com and on Twitter as @JudyDarley.

Helen Sheppard_cropHelen Sheppard is a Bristol-based writer and worked as a midwife. Her poetry explores themes of birth, health loss, and those whose voices are often unheard. Helen has performed her poetry at Milk Poetry, RTB, Torriano Meeting House and Harvard Medical School. Helen’s work has been published widely, including These are the Hands and Under the Radar magazine. Her debut poetry collection Fontanelle was published in 2021 by Burning Eye Books. Helen interviews extraordinary poets for her podcast Health Beat Poets. Find Helen on Twitter as HelenSheppard7 and on Instagram as helensheppard58.

Tickets for Writing on Water are available here.

Review and interview – The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain

Stretching Out_JudyDarley

I’m delighted by Sarah Tinsley’s lovely review of my Reflex Press collection The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain and thought-provoking accompanying interview. Thanks Sarah!

Sarah, who is a brilliant author herself, writes:

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be welcoming Judy Darley back to the blog. Last year I featured her collection Sky, Light, Rain, a themed collection that contained beautiful stories and gorgeous writing. This time, we’re talking about The Stairs Are A Snowcapped Mountain, a collection of stories that similarly revolves around the natural world and relationships, but feels a little darker at the edges.

One thing I love about Darley’s writing is the style. There are the odd turns of phrase that just lift the whole story off the page, like ‘mushroom-hued water’ from Tidal Suck and ‘Crumbs drop between us like pollen. Like rain.’ from Wild Times. (…) The way she captures the essence of these lives in sometimes very short pieces is truly astounding. Do take the time to read it, you won’t regret it.”

Sarah asked me some really interesting questions, which gave me the chance to mention some favourite characters and stories, including Hera in Self-Defence Against Yesterday, Pippa in Tunnelled, Zel in Stealing from Windowsills, and the River in Why Rivers Run to the Sea. We also talked about Stretching Out, about a grandfather’s influence on his granddaughter’s love of nature, and one of my favourite stories to read aloud.

Read the full review and interview here.

Find out more about The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain and purchase here.

Published stories

View between two trees showing other trees
I relish writing and editing short stories and flash fiction, and have a self-imposed rule of submitting every month. If you write, I highly recommend this trick. It ensures that for every rejection, there are still a handful of tales out in the world that may yet be published, plus a gentle flurry of successes to bolster your writing mojo!

Here are some of my recent publications.

August 2022

The Green-Gold of Wet Kelp – Fairlight Books

June 2022

The egret and I don’t belong here – The Phare Literary Magazine Summer 2022 issue

Tricks to uproot a guest who has outstayed their welcome – Tiny Molecules issue 13

After Dad Goes into Care – National Flash Fiction Day FlashFlood 2022

Bees Breathe Without Lungs – Honeyguide Magazine

How to Hook a Heart – And We Live Happily Ever After, National Flash Fiction Day anthology 2022

The Tempest Inside – Micro Madness

April 2022

Milk Tooth – Wyldblood Press

March 2022

Awkward Liaisons – Flash Fiction Festival Volume Four

Falling in a Forest Mslexia magazine issue 93

Oxblood – Flash Frontier

Fishing for Green and Blue – Retreat West 10th Birthday Anthology

December 2021

Reasons Your Kefir Might Sour – Litro Magazine Flash Friday

The Only Language He knows Now is Touch – Blink-Ink, Moonlight #46

The Finch in My Sister’s Hair – The Birdseed

The Sea Lives in Her Mum’s Head – Ellipsis Zine

November 2021

The Salt Sting of Learning When To Say No – Flash Frontier

September 2021

My Choice – Six Sentence Stories

Three Shades of Summer – Flash Fiction Magazine

Storm Beckoner – Bandit Fiction

June 2021

Leaf After Leaf – National Flash Fiction Day Write-In

The Hare I Miss – Thimble Literary Magazine

What’s That? – Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis

May 2021

Reaching (collaborate work – I wrote the first stanza) – 100 Words of Solitude

April 2021

Stretching Out – Hencroft

The Sideways House – Twin Pies Volume IV

March 2021

Unstill Life With Plums – The Pomegranate

A sparkling review of The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain

I’m chuffed to bits with this beautiful review of my Reflex Press collection The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain.

Necessary Fiction review of The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain

Reviewer Nicie Panetta of Necessary Fiction says some rather lovely things about my stories, including: 

The collection’s title comes from the story “Family Psychology,” which speaks to the power of a child’s imagination. For the young person at the center of the story, the confines of the family home transform into imaginary worlds filled with companionship and adventure. The stairs become an alpine peak, and “the uncharted territory of the roof” becomes the moon. Suffering limitations, isolation, and loss, Darling’s characters find comfort and connection where they can — on lockdown zooms, in a dumpster, and while milking an alpaca. Whether the threat comes from cancer, lockdown, or climate change, creativity, and empathy are usually the active ingredients in the medicine for what ails.

Yep, I noticed I’ve been re-named Darling in that excerpt, but I’ve been called worse.

It’s a truly wonderful review that has made my day. Thanks Nicie and Necessary Fiction!

Read the full review here.

Find out more about The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain and purchase here.

‘Family Psychology’ on the radio

BBC Upload

My flash fiction ‘Family Psychology’ is being aired on Chris Arnold’s BBC Upload radio show this evening (7-10pm). It’s a micro tale from my Reflex Press collection The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain, and inspired the title.

The story itself draws on memories of playing a game my sister and I dived into on rainy days, when we turned our home into the whole world. The UK’s pandemic lockdowns brought that to mind vividly!

There’s a lot of talent on the show tonight, but mine is the only scrap of fiction.

Update: If you missed it, listen in here – my micro is at approx 1.38min: bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0

It’s available for 21 days.

Upload your own stories here: bbc.co.uk/send/u16896881

Inside ‘The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain’

Bristol writer Judy Darley

Ahead of my book launch and literary night for my new short story collection The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain, I wanted to share some of the press I’ve received.

First up is a write-up by Sarski Anderson, Culture Editor at Bristol 247. The feature offers lots of insights into how I used fiction-writing as a sanity-saver during lockdown.

For Darley, walking and writing became a vital tool through which to process her emotions about what was happening in the wider world at the time, and to channel the people that she saw on her daily strolls: “from the woman howling beneath a tree in Victoria Park, who features in Leaf after Leaf, to the child whose mum is a key worker in The Rules of Contagion, which includes a hopscotch grid drawn on a path in Perrett Park”.

Why Rivers Run to the Sea gives voice to rivers, a physical representation of the urge to escape that Darley occasionally felt during the early days of the lockdowns.

She notes that curiously, as a writer, the narrowing of her personal horizons actually served to add new depths and greater complexity to her work. It was a powerful means of escape, into an inner world. “Writing gave me a chance to zigzag through memories and daydreams, and allowed me to recast my anxieties in a form that I could adapt and control in the shape of fantasies that became short stories.

The feature also includes a complete flash fiction from the collection.

You can read the full feature here.

Review

Alison Woodhouse, author of The House on the Corner, has reviewed The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain. She writes:
This new collection of short fiction, the third from Judy Darley, is ambitious. Stories explore the pandemic and possible consequences on our mental and material wellbeing, our relationship with the natural world and the accelerating impact of climate change, alongside both the struggles and joys that arise between siblings, parent/child and lovers. They range from a few thousand words (The Daughters) to just one line (Elegy), traveling across genre and form. Sci-fi, cli-fi, dystopias, utopias, realism, magic realism, surrealism, absurdism, all mixed up to offer a breathtaking range of astute social commentary and emotional complexity.

Interview with Bristol Life magazine

I was interviewed by Deri Robins of Bristol Life magazine about my writing and reading loves for their prestigious back page spot. Deri asked some brilliant questions about my writing background, from growing up in a house full of books to learning to be concise and avoid cliches through my work as a travel writer. As a journalist myself, it was fun to be on the other end of the scrutiny for once!  You can read the feature here or online here.
She writes: “Judy Darley has an eclectic CV. Not only has she worked as a journalist and a communications manager, but as a shepherdess – the latter conjuring up an irresistible (though undoubtedly inaccurate) Arcadian vision of Judy depicted in Meissen porcelain.” Now, doesn’t that sound like a perfect writing prompt?

Get in touch!

If you want to know more about my writing, about The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain book launch & literary night or would like a review copy of The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com. Thanks!

The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain book launch & lit night

TheStairsAreASnowcapped Mountain_fullcoverwebTo celebrate the launch of my new short story collection, The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain, I’m hosting a launch party and literary night at Waterstones in Bristol’s Galleries, from 7-9.30pm on Saturday 26th March. It’s open to the public and I’d love you to come along!
There will be live music plus readings from local writers on the themes of things being more than they first appear or different to how they seem at first glance.
There will be heart-stirring live music from singer songwriter Eve Appleton, poetry from former midwife Helen Sheppard and atmospheric readings from local fiction writers, including myself. With hints of fairytales and myths rippling through everyday scenarios, you may emerge seeing the world with fresh eyes.
Here’s the important info:
The Stairs Are A Snowcapped Mountain launch & literary night at Waterstones, Bristol Galleries
  • Date and time: Saturday 26th March 2022, 7-9.30pm
  • Locations: Waterstones, 11a Union Galleries, Broadmead, Bristol, BS1 3XD (street entrance)

    Here’s the line up:

    Judy Darley photo credit Jo Mary Bulter Photography_cropJudy Darley is a British author who can’t stop writing about the fallibilities of the human mind. Her words have been published in the UK, Canada, US, New Zealand and India, including Cypress, The Mechanics’ Institute Review and The Pomegranate. Judy is the author of short fiction collections Sky Light Rain (Valley Press) and Remember Me to the Bees (Tangent Books). The Stairs are a Snowcapped Mountain is her third collection. She is Flash Fiction Editor at Reflex Press and has co-judged competitions for National Flash Fiction Day and Oxford Flash Fiction Prize. You can find Judy on Twitter at @JudyDarley

  • Photo credit: Jo Mary Butler Photography

    Eve Appleton_Photo credit- Beth Butcher Photography @bethbutcherphotography_cropEve Appleton is a singer songwriter performing in the folk tradition but bringing a fresh, contemporary voice to the genre. Her writing is informed by her own experiences of growing up in a British seaside town, observations of adolescence, and the music and poetry she has discovered, or has been introduced to, over the years.

    You can find Eve on Instagram as @eveappletonmusic

    Photo credit: Beth Butcher Photography

    Jo Mary Butler_cropJo Mary Butler is a poet, singer/songwriter, actress and theatre director. As a founding member of Misplaced Theatre, she recently directed Steven Berkoff’s ‘Decadence’ for the company at the Alma Tavern Theatre, Bristol.

    Her debut poetry and short fiction collection Hybrid, with original drawings by Harry Simmonds, will be available in Summer 2022.

    Photo credit: Jo Mary Butler Photography

     

  • Harriet Kline_cropHarriet Kline works part time registering births, deaths and marriages and writes for the rest of the week.  Her story Ghost won The Hissac Short Story Competition 2012 and Chest of Drawers won the London Magazine Short Story Competition 2013. She has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, has a story at Litro online and at shortstorysunday.com. This Shining Life, published by Penguin, is her first novel and she’s slowly working on the next one, to be published in 2024.

    You can find Hartiet on Twitter as @HareandHarriet and on Instagram as harriet_kline.

    Photo by Jeni Nott Photography.

    Helen Sheppard_crop
    Helen Sheppard
    is a Bristol-based writer and worked as a midwife. Her poetry explores themes of birth, health loss, and those whose voices are often unheard. Events Helen has performed at include Milk Poetry, RTB, Torriano Meeting House and Harvard Medical School. Helen’s work has been Published widely, including These are the Hands and Under the Radar magazine. Her debut poetry collection Fontanelle was published in 2021 by Burning Eye Books. Helen interviews extraordinary poets for her podcast Health Beat Poets, their ‘take’ on Poetry, Health and Community. You can find Helen on Twitter as HelenSheppard7 and on Instagram as helensheppard58 

    Photo credit: Tom Shot Photography

    Get in touch!

    If you want to know more about my writing, about The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain book launch & literary night or would like a review copy of The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com. Thanks!

    Judy

Retreat West online flash fest –5th-6th March

Three editors in a boat. Photo by Ivan Lapyrin on UnsplashI’m excited to be taking part in Retreat West’s online flash fest that’s happening on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th March.

Ten_Ways-anthology book coverThere are inspiring events unfurling all weekend, including the launch of ‘Ten Ways Animals Will Save Us‘, Retreat West’s tenth birthday anthology, which contains one of my climate fiction flashes, ‘Fishing for Green and Blue’. The anthology is crammed with amazing stories from spectacular authors, on the theme of ‘ten’.

The anthology launch is at 10am, when the festival begins. Writers who will be sharing their anthology stories at the festival include Sara Hills, Martha Lane, Amy Barnes and Edward Barnfield.

Unfortunately I’m not able to attend the launch, but I will be there for a panel discussion on Sunday:

15.15 – 16.15 – LITERARY JOURNAL EDITOR’S Q&A

I’ll be answering questions and sharing insights from the perspective of my flash fiction editor role at Reflex Press, along with Christopher Allen of Smokelong Quarterly and J. Archer Avary of Sledgehammer Lit.

Find full details of this energising literary weekend here.

I hope to see you there!

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

The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain book launch and literary night

TheStairsAreASnowcapped Mountain_fullcoverweb

I’m delighted to share the news that my new short story collection, The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain, is available to pre-order from Reflex Press here: https://www.reflex.press/product/the-stairs-are-a-snowcapped-mountain/

The image shown above is the full wrap-around book cover created from one of my paintings.

To celebrate, I’m hosting a launch party and literary night at Waterstones in Bristol’s Galleries (11a Union Galleries, Broadmead, Bristol, BS1 3XD), from 7-9.30pm on Saturday 26th March. It’s open to the public and I’d love you to come along!

The evening will include live music from singer songwriter Eve Appleton, poetry from former midwife Helen Sheppard and atmospheric readings from local fiction writers, including myself. With hints of fairytales and myths rippling through everyday scenarios, you may emerge seeing the world with fresh eyes.

Free tickets are available herehttps://www.waterstones.com/events/book-launch-with-judy-darley-the-stairs-are-a-snowcapped-mountain/bristol-galleries

I hope to see you there!

Judy

A conversation about keeping it short

The Stairs snippetI’m so looking forward to heading to the latest instalment of the Flash Fiction Festival on Saturday 27th November 2021. It’s going to be an amazing, energising and inspiring day crammed with workshops and talks from some of the world’s finest flash fiction writers!

My touch-typey fingers are already twitching in anticipation of the workshop on prose poetry, hermit crab flash, ekphrastic writing and more, plus a Great Pottery Throwdown-esque competition, from amazing authors including Kathy Fish, Jude Higgins, Lorette C. Luzajic, Ingrid Jendrzejewski and Sara Hills.

I’m especially thrilled to be joining Sharon Telfer to chat about our Reflex Press collections. We’ll be talking about our books’ themes, how we put them together, reading an exclusive flash fiction from each of our collections and answering any questions you might have.

My short fiction collection The Stairs Are A Snowcapped Mountain will be out in March 2022. I’m hoping to do a cover reveal live at the festival, but for now you can feast your eyes on the shard above.

Get your ticket here: www.flashfictionfestival.com/booking/

Hope to see you there.