A short story – Safe Arbor

Apples by Judy Darley

My surreal story Safe Arbor has been published by the excellent fairytale magazine Enchanted Conversation as their Saturday Tale.

It’s an exploration of old age and sibling loyalty, and includes the line: My sister nods her branches with the breeze and murmurs…

…which gives you a clue to the direction I’ve taken it in 🙂

You can read the story in full here.

A short story – Not Every Wound Can Heal

Old Town Square, Prague by Judy DarleyI’m delighted to have my short story with a not so short title published by the excellent Spelk Fiction. Not Every Wound Can Heal went live on the stellar flash fiction site this morning. Prompted by a mis-remembered tale of a holy relic glimpsed in Prague church, it rings in at just over 330 words and begins:

A dark artefact hangs from the ceiling of the Baroque church. It resembles a bit of branch, or a stick covered in rags. Our tour guide tells us it’s a mummified arm.

Afterwards Tim and I each remember the story differently. He’s convinced it’s the relic of a saint. I’m sure it’s the limb of a thief who tried to steal jewels from a statue of the Virgin Mary, and that she came to life and twisted his arm entirely off.

Perhaps it’s not an arm at all.

I can’t get it out of my head. 

Read the full story Not Every Wound Can Heal here.

Mirror-themed fiction at Salon Soirées

Bloom and Curll interior cr Judy DarleyI’m excited to be sharing one of my stories at Salon Soirées’ mirror-themed evening on Tuesday 11th September. This cosy literary event takes place at the gorgeous Bloom & Curll Bookshop, 74 Colston Street, Bristol.

I’ll be reading my story Farewell Gifts, which was inspired by artist Gilly Mound’s painting Little House, pictured below. I wrote the story just after moving to a new home, and with love and loss on my mind. If you come along and listen to the story, I think you’ll understand what I mean.

Little House by Gilly Mound

Little House by Gilly Mound

Tickets are free, but limited, so book yours here. Doors open to the audience from 6:30pm for a 7pm start. Organiser Julia says: “Listenings will take roughly 2 hours, with a short interval between, and a chance thereafter to mingle, indulge in a delectable tipple, and find yourself a book treasure – please bring cash!”

As summer edges into autumn, I find that literary events become ever more enticing. Find out more about the Salon Soirées series here:

Facebook | www.facebook.com/salonsoirees
Instagram | www.instagram.com/salonsoirees
Eventbrite | https://salonsoirees.eventbrite.com

Tunnelled – a short story

Redcliffe Caves. Photography by Paul BullivantI’m thrilled to have my short story Tunnelled published as part of dear damsels Youth theme, as their #FridayRead in their Back to School week.

The story took seed while playing my own version of the Tunnel Game with my nephew. It provided a fun way to get from A to B, him with his eyes closed and me murmuring descriptions of the tunnel we were supposedly walking through into his ear.

“She knows he likes it best when she tells him they’re in terrible danger, like when a grizzly bear rushes by, its breath hot and sudden on his neck. Other times the path threads alongside a crevasse so deep and sheer that she has to pull him suddenly one way or another to prevent him falling. His body in her arms feels small and trusting, and she vows that whatever happens, she’ll keep him safe.”

But what if someone else had joined in with the game? And what if the story had become a little too real for comfort?

Sent shivers down my own spine with this one…

Read Tunnelled on the dear damsels website.

This is my second story published by dear damsels. Read my story Two Pools of Water. And yes, in case you were wondering, Redcliffe Caves are real.

Writing prompt – misplaced

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.

SaveSave

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.

My story draws on local myths, and the yearning of youth.

My sister Bia leads me to a balcony. The twin lakes show beyond, half-shrouded in cloud. With the sky overcast, the green and blue are harder to see. She tells me the fairytale I’ve heard a thousand times before, of the shepherd and the princess, embracing on the bridge and weeping through their farewells. ‘Her green eyes made the emerald lake, and his blue eyes made the sapphire one,’ she says. ‘He cried more, which is why the blue lake is so much bigger.’

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.

SaveSave

SaveSave

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.

SaveSave

SaveSave

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.

SaveSave