Foraging for Inspiration at the Flash Fiction Festival

Owl carving and baby shoe by Judy Darley
The Flash Fiction Festival takes place from Friday 8th until Sunday 10th July, with real world events happening at Trinity College, Bristol, and six hybrid workshops (online as well as face-to-face) workshops occurring over the weekend.

There are some amazing flash fiction writers teaching over the weekend, including Kathy Fish, Nancy Stohlman, Vanessa Gebbie, Eltra Rhodes, K.M. Elkes and Susmita Bhattacharya.

I’m delighted to be leading a workshop on ‘Foraging for Inspiration’ at 8.45am on Sunday 10th July. Expect random word prompts and other stimuli to get your imagination whirring!

One of the questions I’m asked most is where I get ideas from. The truth is that inspiration can come from anywhere, if you’re open and ready to gather the ideas as they come.

As someone who is, in all honesty, easily bored, I’m constantly on the lookout for entertaining distractions that can convert into story fuel, from overheard conversations to momentarily misunderstood glimpses (the weirder the better), to objects that could be important to a character in a tale.

I publish weekly writing prompts on my SkyLightRain blog,and collect small found objects and images that lead to piece of narrative prose. In this workshop you will be provided with a variety of writing prompts and investigate ways you can combine different sources with your own unique experiences to build up an original story.

Suitable for beginners and up. I intend to take participants on a short stroll of the grounds to forage for inspiration, returning to the workshop room for half an hour or so for the writing exercises.

I’ll also be reading my story ‘How to Hook a Heart’ from the Freedom-themed National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2022 on the Friday evening. Find the full festival programme here.

I hope to see you there!

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

Submit stories on a ‘clean vs green’ theme

Leaf & raindrops by Judy Darley
The Green Stories crew are inviting short stories on the theme of ‘clean vs green’ for their latest competition, closing to entries on 21st July.

First prize is £500. Entering is free.

The competition has been devised as a way of myth-busting: “Often when promoting waste reduction and reduction of high-energy activities, such as running hot water, we come up against health and safety issues. Some of these are valid, but many are misinformed.”

The judges are seeking engaging fictional stories that help readers understand how over-cleaning can mean that we kill our bodies’ ‘good’ bacteria through over-use of harsh cleaning products.

“Your challenge is to write a short story (between 1000 and 3000 words) that helps to raise awareness and shift attitudes, especially for those people who assume that the more detergent the better.”

You’ll also need to provide around 200 words on the thinking around your story and how it meets the criteria.

The Green Stories website has story briefs and suggestions to inspire you, as well as plenty of information to make sure you get the details rights.

Find full details here: www.greenstories.org.uk/upcoming-competitions/short-story-clean-vs-green/ 

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

Enter the Fractured Lit Reprint Prize

Button on Kilve Beach cr Judy Darley

Got a previously published micro or flash fiction that’s no longer getting the love it deserves? Enter the Fractured Lit Reprint Prize.

The deadline is 17 July 2022.

Guest judge Meg Pokrass, Managing Co-Editor and Founding Editor of Best Microfiction, Founding Editor of New Flash Fiction Review, and Co-Founder of the Flash Fiction Collective Reading Series (San Francisco) will choose three prize winners from a shortlist.

The first place winner will receive $3000 and (re)publication.

Second and third place winners will $300 and $200, respectively, plus (re)publication.

All entries will be considered for (re)publication.

“We want to celebrate the micro and flash that may have gotten lost in the shuffle, or stuck in the limbo of shuttered literary magazines!” says Fractured Lit editor in chief Tommy Dean. “We know that excellent and exciting flash and micro fiction is published every day, but no one can keep up with all of these stories. This contest is a platform for these stories to reach new readers, and to live on in excellence on our website.”

So if you’ve got a story that’s been previously published online or in print but believe it’s no longer getting the attention and adulation it deserves, send it in!

Entries must be under 1,000 words in length and must not have won any previous awards of $500 or more.

You need to pay a $20 reading fee per entry of up to two tales.

Find full details and enter here: https://fracturedlit.com/current-prize/

Good luck!

Got an event, challenge, competition, opportunity or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley (@) ICloud (dot) com.

Enter The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize

Terra Nostra Tropical plants cr Judy DarleyWasafari magazine invites submissions of Poetry, Fiction and Life Writing for The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize.

The prize closes on 30th June 2022 at 5pm BST.

The prize supports writers who have not yet published a book-length work, with no limits on age, gender, nationality, or background. Winners of each category receive a £1,000 cash prize and will be published in Wasafiri’s print magazine. Shortlisted writers will have their work published on the Wasafiri website. All 15 shortlistees and winners will be offered the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility), and a conversation with Nikesh Shukla of The Good Literary Agency to discuss their career progression.   

The fee is £10 for a single entry and £16 for a double entry. No entry may be more than 3,000 words long.  

Subsidised entry is available for those who would otherwise be unable to enter the prize.  

Shortlisted entrants will be notified in early September

Find full details of how to enter at www.wasafiri.org.

This year, the prize will be chaired by literary leading light Marina Salandy-Brown, who says, “I am delighted and honoured to be judging this important prize.” Marina will be joined by a truly remarkable panel of multi-award-winning poets and authors.

Mary Jean Chan, judging Poetry, comments, “the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize has always caught my attention for its focus on discovering, supporting and mentoring emerging talent across multiple genres.” 

Judging Fiction, Preti Taneja is seeking for work that “feels fully arrived in terms of its thematic ambition, its use of language and its confidence in its own voice. And finally, Francesca Wade, on judging Life Writing, says that ‘Wasafiri has long been a brilliant home for innovative work. I’m excited to read pieces that explore and interrogate – the myriad possibilities of life-writing today.”

Judging Life Writing, Francesca Wade, says “Wasafiri has long been a brilliant home for innovative work.  I’m excited to read pieces that explore and interrogate – the myriad possibilities of life-writing today.”

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

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Time to rev up for the I AM Writing Festival

Red ladybird on a red rosebud. Photo by Judy DarleyFormerly known as the Writers’ Weekend, (and before that Winchester Writers’ Festival), the I AM Writing Festival is a hybrid literary event with 65+ talks and workshops, some online and some in-person at the University of Winchester.

Aimed at budding writers keen to improve writing and editing skills, find inspiration, pitch to an agent or better understand the world of publishing, there are nine package prices available ranging from £37 for a single workshop to £597 for an Access All Areas pass.

The 11 live virtual talks take place 4th-8th June, with access to recordings available until midnight on 8th July 2022.

The in-person chapter of the festival is at the University of Winchester from 10th-12th June.

Speakers, workshop leaders and industry experts you can expect to encounter include:.

Keynote speakers: Philip Ardagh, Joanna Cannon, Lucy Diamond, Juliet Mushens and Adele Parks;

Workshop leaders: Rhoda Baxter, Helen Dennis, Karen Hamilton, Debbie Howells, Lauren James, David Litchfield, L.V Matthews, Nicola May, Jenny McLachlan, James Nicol, Neema Shah, Amy Sparkes, Bookouture, HarperCollins, Tracy Corderoy, Adrienne Dines, Simon Hall, Scott Pack and many, more.

Don’t miss the famous Agent121s!

The festival’s new organisers Elane and Sarah exclaim (presumably in unison):”Of course, we couldn’t have a festival without bringing #Agent121 to the fore – so we have a multitude of in-person literary agents/editors for you to seek feedback from and 20 to choose from online!”

Find full details here.

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

Writing prompt – ruse

Freddies Flowers_Photo by Judy Darley

How cute is this extra-long bicycle laden with boxes claiming to contain flowers?

But what if they didn’t really hold flowers? What if that was all a devious ruse? What could they contain instead, and why the subterfuge?

Can you write this into a comic or suspense-filled tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Wells Festival of Literature competitions

City of Wells cr Judy Darley

In their 30th anniversary year, Wells Festival of Literature takes place from 14th-22nd October 2022, but before that they hold their annual writing competitions, with entries accepted until 30th June 2022.

The categories are short stories, poetry and children’s books, as well as poetry by anyone aged 16-22 inclusive.

The first prize in their Open Poetry Competition will this year be £1,000. Second and third prizes are £500 and £250 respectively.

The Short Story and Book for Children categories have the following prizes:

  • First prize = £750
  • Second prize = £300
  • Third prize = £200

There are Local Prizes of £100 each for the Short Story, Open Poetry and Book for Children competitions.

The Young Poet category the following prizes:

  • First prize = £150
  • Second prize = £75
  • Third prize = £50

All three prize winners will also receive a year’s subscription to the Poetry Society.

Short Story Competition
Entries may be on any subject and should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length.
The Short Story judge is award-winning writer of fiction and non-fiction and documentary maker Lucy Jago.

The fee for each entry is £6.

Open Poetry Competition
Poet, journalist and Telegraph commissioning editor Tristram Fane Saunders is the 2022 Open Poetry Judge. Entries may be on any subject but must not exceed 35 lines in length.

The fee for each entry is £6.

A Book for Children Competition
The judge for this category is YA author Lucy Cuthew.
Entries to the Book for Children Competition should be aimed at readers between the ages of 9 and up including YA. You must submit the first two chapters or first twenty pages, (whichever is the shortest), together with the synopsis of up to two pages. Shortlisted authors may be asked to send in their complete manuscript.
The fee for each entry is £6.
Young Poets Competition
You may submit only one entry and must be aged 16 to 22 inclusive, at the closing submission date on 30th June 2021. Entries may be on any subject but must not exceed 35 lines in length. The judge is Bristol City Poet Caleb Parkin.
The fee to enter is £3.

The closing date for all entries is 30th June 2022. Prizes for all four competitions will be presented on Monday 17th October 2022 during the Festival.

Find the full rules and details of how to enter.

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

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Enter Frome Festival Short Story Competition

Frome rooftopsFrome Festival Short Story Competition welcomes submissions until 31st May 2021.

This small Somerset town of layered roofs is set roughly between Bath and Taunton has become a hive for writers, with the  annual festival featuring writing residencies throughout the small, characterful shops, and street performances seemingly on every corner.

The competition costs £8 to enter. You can purchase a detailed critique of your work for an additional payment of £47 per story.

Stories may be on any theme, but must be between 1,000 and 2,200 words in length, not including the title.

First prize is £400, second prize £200 and third prize £100.

There are also local 1st and runner-up prizes for writers living within a 25-mile radius of Frome Library, in a bid to support and encourage local writers.

This year’s judge is the Frome-based novelist Keith Stuart. Keith is the author of the best-selling ‘A Boy Made of Blocks’, ‘Days of Wonder’ and ‘The Frequency of Us’. He is also a journalist writing about video games and digital culture.

There is a ‘Young Writer’ award of £50 for the best story by an entrant aged 16 to 21 living in the BA11 postcode. Entry to the Young Writer award is free, not through the competition website but by email to fromewriterscollective@gmail.com.

Long and shortlists will be posted at www.fromeshortstorycompetition.co.uk in late June, with winners to be announced in July and then posted on the website.

The Frome Festival runs from 1st-10th July and is well worth visiting for its own charms, especially the incredible busking that takes place throughout the narrow streets.

For full details of the competitions, visit the competition website.

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

Hay Festival Thursday 26th May-Sunday 5th June

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

The wonderful Hay Festival is taking place live in-person from Thursday 26th May to Sunday 5th June in Hay-on-Wye.

With a packed programme of more than 500 events designed and selected to inspire, intrigue and entertain, this is the 35th spring event and first fully in-person for two years.

From debut novelists (including DJ Annie Mac) to established festival favourites, plus poets, photographers, conservationists, musicians, historians, artists, chefs and more, there will be discussions, debates, lectures, performances and workshops to fire up your imagination.  Look out for Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour delivering open air performances of Julius Caesar at Hay Castle, and a one-hour book collaging workshop with one-hour collaging workshop with Hay Festival Illustrator in Residence Tom Etherington and Bethan Thomas, founder of Collage Crew workshops.

Other highlights include Jacqueline Wilson exploring Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree series and introducing the new Faraway Tree adventure she has written.

As well as paid events there are a number of freebies. Can’t or don’t want to attend in person? The Online Festival Pass gives you access to 76 events to watch from home, specially selected from the 11 days of Hay Festival, from the best new fiction to remarkable stories from the past, from policy makers to poets.

Find the full programme and register for the events that pique your curiosity here.

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

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Enter The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting

Joseph Quinn and Erin Doherty in Wish List at the Royal Court. Photo by Jonathan Keenan

Joseph Quinn and Erin Doherty in Wish List by Katherine Soper

Eager to see your words performed on stage? The Bruntwood Prize invites playwrights of all levels of experience to submit original, previously unperformed and unproduced plays.

Entries can be submitted online at www.writeaplay.co.uk. The closing date is 6pm on 6th June 2022.

The winner will receive £16,000 and a full production of their play at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

There is also a Judges Award of £8000 and the Bruntwood Prize International Award of £8000, introduced in 2019 andiron to international playwrights who can apply through the Prize’s partners:

    • Atlantic Theatre (New York, USA)

    • Berkeley Rep (Berkley, California, USA)

    • Australian Plays Transform (Carlton, New South Wales, Australia)

    • Melbourne Theatre Company (Melbourne, Australia)

    • Canada Banff Playwrights Laboratory (Banff, Canada) 

This year, the Prize launches a new category: The North West Original New Voice Award and Residency. Winners in this category must be based in the north west of England and not have had a full-length play professionally produced for 12 performances or more in a professional venue.

As well as £8000, the winner will be given access to an additional £10,000 fund dedicated to their professional development at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester during a bespoke one-year residency.

The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is open to anyone aged 16+ in the UK, Ireland and the British Territories with a story to tell. The biennial prize is a partnership between property company Bruntwood, a major supporter of the arts, and world-class producing theatre, the Royal Exchange Theatre, in Manchester.

“The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is a genuine endeavour to discover new stories and help playwrights develop their craft, providing everybody and anybody with the opportunity to write a play,” they say. “It offers a fantastic opportunity to hone your writing skills, whether or not you have written for the stage before. In addition to a high proportion of winning and shortlisted plays being produced professionally, each of the top 100 plays receives individual feedback from the Royal Exchange Theatre’s creative team.”

This year’s Judging panel comprises Nihal Arthanayake, television and BBC Radio 5 Live presenter; Miranda Cromwell, Olivier Award winning Theatre Director; Julie Hesmondhalgh, award winning actor and supporter of the Royal Exchange Theatre; kimber lee, winner of the inaugural Bruntwood Prize International Award in 2019; Farai Matekenya Nhakaniso, Local Exchange Ambassador for the Leigh area for the Royal Exchange Theatre; Kate Vokes, Non-Executive Director at Bruntwood, and Roy Alexander Weise, Joint Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Erin Doherty as Tamsin Carmody in WISH LIST by Katherine Soper. Photo Jonathan Keenan

Erin Doherty as Tamsin Carmody in Wish List by Katherine Soper.

In 2015 Katherine Soper became the fifth overall winner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. Her play Wish List premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 2016 before transferring to the Royal Court Upstairs from 10th January – Saturday 11th February 2017).

For full details of how to enter, visit www.writeaplay.co.uk.

All images in this post were taken by Jonathan Keenan and supplied by The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.

Got an event, challenge, competition, opportunity or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley (@) iCloud (dot) com.