Short story – The People of The Soil

Dinefwr water meadows. Lake. Photo by Judy DarleyI’m delighted to see my story The People of The Soil published by Enchanted Conversation magazine.

The story is inspired by the Welsh myth of the Lady of the Lake, and has found a home is Enchanted Conversation’s June 2019 Issue: A Drop of Water, A Flood of Dreams.

ThePeopleOfTheSoil-DARLEY-CoverABergloffThe story begins:

I stirred as I heard the river move beneath the crops, its murmurs rejoicing. My brothers lay intertwined beside me. “Fam’s leaving,” I whispered, and their eyes snapped open. We crept outside, leaving Dad asleep. We’d known this day would come, even before he struck her for the third time.

What rises from water can’t live on land forever…

To read the full story, click here.

Loving the gorgeous artwork by Enchanted Conversation Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Amanda Bergloff too!

Open the door to flash fiction

Otter wood grainNational Flash Fiction Day UK kicks off tomorrow with events across the country. Highlights include the grand launch of the National Flash Fiction Day anthology 2019And We Pass Through.

Edited by Santino Prinzi and Joanna Campbell, the eight annual instalment of the anthology is crowded with stories inspired by doors. I’m thrilled that my story Skip Diving has been included. It features a door with some wood grain resembling an otter. That detail is inspired by the above, which floats on the back of our bathroom door.

As part of the excitement, the Flash Flood journal will publishing flashes throughout the day. My story Clatter will appear on the journal at around 11.10 a.m. BST.

This year, the National Flash Fiction Day epicentre has relocated from Bristol to Coventry. If you’re heading over there for the huge celebrations of the bite-sized literary-form, have fun!

Care Home Vignettes in print

Snapdragon journal Summer 2019A selection of my Care Home Vignettes have been published as creative nonfiction in the Summer 2019 issue of Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, with a theme of Inside / Out. I find myself feeling unexpectedly moved!

The pieces are drawn from the experience of visiting my father, who has Alzheimer’s Disease. I’ve often been struck by how, as he paces the Home’s corridors, he seems to see a world beyond where we are, which made this issue’s theme particularly apt.

Snapdragon is full of poetry, creative nonfiction and photography capturing thoughtful moments of connection, many of which speak of hope and beauty even in challenging times.

The issue’s editors Jacinta, Petra and Aimee have done a beautiful job. The cover artwork is by J. Ray Paradiso!.

You can buy the issue for $5 here.

Writing prompt – flash

Footprint. Photo by Judy DarleyJune is a joyful month for all things flash fiction-related, with National Flash Fiction Day UK happening on Saturday 15th June, with events happening nationwide and the Flash Flood journal publishing flashes throughout the day. My story Clatter will appear on the journal at around 11.10 a.m. BST.

Flash Fiction Festival is celebrating the mastery of the shortest literary prose form, from Friday 28th until Sunday 30th June.

Over in New Zealand, Micro Madness has begun, publishing a 100-word tale every day between now and 22nd June, which is Flash Fiction Day in New Zealand. My shortlisted tale Aftermath went live on 4th June.

Happily, each of these mini word-hits also serves as a fantastic creative prompt, firing up synapses with possibilities. Why not drop by to see what journey the published stories can set you off on?

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.

Preservation resurfaces at Liars’ League Hong Kong

Mussel shells cr Judy DarleyWay back in 2017, I was happy to announce that my short story Preservation had been picked to feature at a Liars’ League Hong Kong night of literary performances.

I’m pleased to say that this story has now resurfaced for a special ‘Best & Brightest’ event, to take place on Thursday 30th May. The evening is part of the Hong Kong Spoken Word Festival, and will showcase “a selection of some of the best pieces performed at Liars’ League HK.”

How lovely! My story is one of eight pieces selected for the evening.

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.

Susan LavenderPreservation will again be performed by actor Susan Lavender (pictured left)The story was inspired by the fact various words about nature have been excised from children’s dictionaries to make room for more about technology. Sad but true. Mussel was just one of the words removed.

I can’t attend, but hope to catch up on the podcast or videos afterwards. It starts at 8pm at The Jockey Club Studio Theatre, Hong Kong on 30th May 2019.

Find details and book your tickets here.

Smog – a short story

Taf Estuary, mist photo by Judy DarleyThe old woman has been here every day for a week, eyeing the smog and making notes or drawings in a fat notepad that she holds on her lap.

I’m happy to share the news that my short story Smog, a teeny, tiny climate flash, has been published by Porridge Magazine.

The story involves a swingset, an old woman and a flask that may not contain tea. Read Smog in full here.

Reading at Novel Nights with Maggie Gee

Novel Nights 12 April 2019

I’m excited to be reading an excerpt from my novel-in-progress Lake Glas at Novel Nights in Bath on Friday 12th April. This will be the first time I’ve read part of this novel to an audience, so I’m bubbling inside!

I’m particularly thrilled that Maggie Gee is the headliner. She’s an author who has been on my shelves for more than 20 years and I still remember the wonder of discovering The Burning Book when I was a teenager. After reading my parents’ copy, I bought my own in April 1997, which I know because my young self helpfully wrote the month and year on the flyleaf. Dipping into those pages now feels like being given a touch of time travel power, as they conjure the younger woman I was then, and how the novel captivated me.

Other readers sharing new work are Gail Aldwin and Debby Holt. Looking forward to an inspiring night of readings and conversation. Hope to see you there!

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