Writing prompt – longitude

Mouse and cat weathervane by Judy Darley. Shows a metal weathervane on top of a school against a blue sky.This mouse and cat weathervane sits on top of a primary school in my neighbourhood.

It’s been a strange year for schools, pupils and parents, with daily routines as changeable as the weather. There’s been a global sense of uncertainty that’s led to some feeling more like prey than humans are accustomed to!

Can you use this thought as a jumping off point to create a tale or artwork with themes of peril, daring and triumph?

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Edinburgh Book Festival welcomes word-lovers

Edinburgh Book Festival. Shows people in a park enjoying the literary festival
This year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from 14th-30th August, with more than 300 writers, artists and thinkers taking part from around the world  Events will be hosted both in real life, and online. Topics will focus on a changing world dealing with and reeling from the impacts of Covid-19, climate crisis, poverty, inequality, technology – and how we can move forward.

Online events will be offered on a ‘pay what you can’ basis, with opportunities to connect with authors by asking questions in live Q&As or catch up on events at a time that suits.

The festival’s director Nick Barley says: “We are incredibly excited to produce our first ‘hybrid’ festival with authors and audiences joining us both in person and online.  We welcome a mix of Scottish and international voices to discuss their ideas, hopes and dreams and we aim to explore together how to move ‘Onwards and Upwards’ from this devastating pandemic. In our new home at Edinburgh College of Art we have created three broadcast studios, two of which can accommodate limited audiences. These facilities enable us to offer author conversations to worldwide audiences and to those closer to home who are unable to join us in person, as well as welcoming a limited In-Real-Life audience.”

Look out for events with Nobel Prize winners (including Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University Amartya Sen discussing the meaning of home and Kazuo Ishiguro talking about his new novel Klara and the Sun and what it is to be human) and Booker Prize winners including Salman Rushdie speaking to journalist Allan Little about the role of writing in shaping public debate, and Bernardine Evaristo interviewing three authors whose books published in the 1990s are now republished by Hamish Hamilton as part of a series entitled Black Britain: Writing Back, all selected by Evaristo.

Judith Bryan will discuss Bernard and the Cloth Monkey, while S I Martin presents his multiracial historical novel Incomparable World, and Nicola Williams, a barrister as well as a novelist, discusses her legal thriller Without Prejudice – the story of a young woman of working-class Caribbean background and her struggles to succeed as a lawyer in a predominantly white, male environment.

There are also 60 events in the Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme, with readings, draw-alongs, and dancing, plus a new series of pre-recorded, audio-only events and walking tours around Edinburgh for all ages.

Find full details of the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme.

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.

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Pure Slush invites love-inspired poems and prose

Heart leaf by Judy Darley
Indie publisher Pure Slush is currently inviting submissions for their Love Lifespan Vol. 4.

Submissions close on 31st August  2021.

Established in 2010, Pure Slush publishes print anthologies of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

When asked what Pure Slush is ‘about’, founding editor Matt Potter said: “Fun, humour, attention, absurdity, humanity, love, sex, more fun and more humour and more absurd humanity.”

But what do the folks at Pure Slush like?

Here are just a few pointers (and some editing tips): “Send a story about knitting that’s funny … and we’ll probably like it.

Send a story with arty, complex imagery … and we probably won’t like it.

Send an honest story about love or a funny story about sex … and we’ll probably like it.

Send a story that’s stylish but empty … and we’ll probably ask you to rewrite it.

Send a story about human foibles that’s real but has no feeling … and we’ll probably ask you to give it more emotion.

Send a story about war and the battlefield and we’ll probably yawn our way through it (sorry, but true!) … but send a story about the homefront or the army stores or the munitions factories, and we’ll look at it with renewed interest.

Send a story about desperation and we’ll probably like it, especially if it makes us weep … but send a story that’s cynical and jaded and comes not from the voice of experience but from the voice of hip and arrogance and well, it’s not going to do much for us.

Send us a ‘battle of the sexes’ story (he said / she said; he did / she did; how stupid are the opposite sex, hey?) … and we’ll have a hard time with it.

Send a story that’s 1000 words long but only in one or two paragraphs … and we’ll ask you to divide it further.

Or send us a story that is all reported (or indirect) speech – She said (that) she couldn’t keep her breakfast down – and we’ll ask you to make it direct (or quoted) speech – She said, “I couldn’t keep my breakfast down.” (What is this fashion for stories entirely made of reported speech? Direct speech is always more immediate and takes you there now!)

Send a story where you want us to love every single word and space … and not suggest changes … and, um, you will probably be disappointed and / or angry with the response. We enjoy working with writers who want to make their story better: writers married to every word can be tiresome.”

Got that?

Pure Slush Love pale pink book coverYour Love submission must be:

  • original, so previously unpublished online or in print (so that includes authors’ websites and blogs)
  • For fiction and non-fiction, stories and essays,150-word minimum – 1000-word maximum
  • For poetry, 80-word minimum – 1000-word maximum per poem – maximum number of poems you can submit is 5.
  • must include something about love … which means the characters can be any age, any persuasion and anything.

Find full details of how to submit your love-themed works here: https://pureslush.com.

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 Winchester Poetry Prize 2021

Sunshine snail cr Judy Darley

Winchester Poetry Prize 2021 invites you to submit poetry “with a good emotional thwack.” The closing date for entries is 31st July 2021.

Entries cost £5 for first poem, £4 for subsequent poems.

One Hundred Lockdown Sonnets by Jacqueline SaphraPoet, editor, agitator, teacher, mentor and self-described word-enthusiast Jacqueline Saphra will judge entries. Jacqueline’s latest book, ‘One Hundred Lockdown Sonnets’ was published in February 2021; copies are available from Nine Arches Press.

“As I sit down excitedly with my morning coffee and who knows, perhaps a biscuit, and begin to read, I’ll be looking for poems with a good emotional thwack,” says Jacqueline. “Of course the poem should be well-crafted and consistent with itself; it can be strictly formal or wildly experimental, so long as it goes about its business with passion, integrity and intention. I’m open to all breeds of poetic power: for example, power that comes from direct expression, or from metaphor, or from the unsaid that exists in the white space. I’ll be hungry for those poems where the poet is invested in their material, where there is a piece of the poet embedded in the poem. I’m always on the hunt for that sense that the poem is knocking on the door of my heart saying ‘let me in’, until I just have to open up, a poem that yields just enough on a first reading to entice me back and will go on living inside me long after I’ve taken my eyes off the page.”

Prizes

  • First Prize: £1,000
  • Second Prize: £500
  • Third Prize: £250

Winning and commended poems will also be published in a competition anthology.

There will be a special prize-giving event on Saturday 9th October 2021. The organisers are planning for this event to be a live event in Winchester, but will move it online if required by restrictions.

The best poem by a poet living in Hampshire will receive a prize kindly donated by Warren & Son. 

Find full details here: https://www.winchesterpoetryfestival.org/prize.

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.

Submit your manuscript to Soft Skull Press

Sad Ghost Cereal cr Judy Darley

Soft Skull Press invites un-agented authors to submit complete manuscripts until 21st July 2021.

They describe themselves as “a home for projects that dissolve categories and hierarchies, provide an alternative to dominant narratives, and make room for new and unexpected ideas and feelings. We aim to create lasting and transformative relationships with writers, and to continually reimagine how a book can be written, published, and sold.”

They publish adult literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid projects. At this time they are especially seeking and encouraging submissions from BIPOC writers and underrepresented voices of any race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class, and physical or mental ability.

Authors of accepted submissions retain full copyright license to their work.

For your chance to be published by Soft Skull Press, upload your full manuscript and a statement of intent to their Submittable queue.

There is no submission fee.

In the ‘cover letter’ field, include:

  • A one-paragraph summary of your project
  • The total word count
  • A brief author bio
  • Your contact information

Please submit only one manuscript.

They welcome simultaneous submissions, but ask that if your work is accepted elsewhere, you withdraw your submission promptly.

They also advise: “Please send your work only if you feel it is ready to be read; we will not be accepting updated versions of the same work once submitted.”

Find full submission 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.

Enter Chestnut Review’s Prose Chapbook Contest

Chestnut Tree by Judy DarleyChestnut Review has launched its first ever Prose Chapbook Contest. Editor Maria S. Picone invites you to submit any kind of prose manuscript, whether that’s fiction, CNF, or hybrid forms. A single powerful story is as welcome as a series of vivid flashes.

Submissions are open until 31st July 2021,

Maria S. Picone says: “We are looking for smart, daring manuscripts that overtake us, break us, and rebuild us with beautiful language. We welcome all forms of prose manuscripts: fiction, CNF, or hybrid. Hit us with one powerful story, or delight us with a series of flash. Blur genres or stay true to form. Surprise us. Challenge us. Manuscripts with more than one piece should feel cohesive and coherent.”

The manuscript’s length should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words in total, which amounts to approximately 20-30 pages.

The winner will receive $600 and 20 copies of their published chapbook. Chapbooks will be published through Chestnut Review via a print-on-demand provider. The winner will earn 30% royalties, distributed annually on all copies sold.

The winning chapbook will be advertised in Chestnut Review and on social media, and will be featured for sale on Amazon.com and via https://chestnutreview.com/.

The winning author will be interviewed in a feature in the Summer 2022 issue of Chestnut Review.

Find full details here: chestnutreview.com/contests/

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.

Enter the Fractured Lit Flash Fiction Prize

Lake Michigan and Navy Pier. Photo by Judy DarleyFractured Lit invite you to submit flash fiction to the Fractured Lit Flash Fiction Prize.

The closing date for entries is 18th July 2021.

Guest judge K-Ming Chang will choose three winning stories from a shortlist. All entries will be considered for publication.

The winner will receive $3000 and publication, while the 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive publication and $300 and $200, respectively.
K-Ming Chang is a Kundiman fellow, a Lambda Literary Award finalist, and a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree. She is the author of the New York Times Editors’ Choice novel Bestiary (One World/Random House, 2020), which was longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her short story collection, Gods of Want, is forthcoming from One World in June 2022.

I recommend you submit work that embraces the publication’s tagline: fiction that lingers long after the flash.

In exchange for a $20 reading fee, you may submit up to two stories of 1,000 words or fewer each per entry, set within the same document.

Find the full guidelines and submit your flash fiction here.

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.

Writing prompt – Unreal

Making friends at the Art Institute of Chicago. Shows woman in an art gallery standing with outsize sculpture of child. Photo by James HainsworthMy hub took this photo a while ago when we were visiting Chicago’s Art Institute. It’s one of the most exceptional art establishments I’ve had the pleasure of exploring.

Imagine waking to find yourself in a world where everything is a) larger than life, and b) slightly unreal. Would you embrace the opportunity of adventure or devote your energies to getting back to reality?

The fact this huge boy-child and I are wearing matching shoes only adds to the sense of the strange, in my opinion. I can’t remember what we’re both staring at, but I appear to share his amazement!

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Time to rev up for the Writers’ Weekend 2021

Butterfly cr Judy DarleyThe Writers’ Weekend 2021, formerly Winchester Writers’ Festival, runs from 24th-27th June 2021, and is your virtual opportunity to mingle with writers, agents and lots of other interesting literary types.

Authors Diana Gabaldon and Chris Riddell have been announced as keynote speakers.

Book for events with a wide array of novelists, including Robert Fabbri, Kate Mosse, Lissa Evans, Tracey Corderoy, MG Leonard, Derek Miller, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Helen Fields and Ness Wood, as well as talks from top literary agents on the craft of writing and how to get published. Learn, discuss, ask questions, be inspired and entertained, and meet other writers.

There are more than 600 opportunities to sign up for virtual one-to-one appointments and Group Chat rooms for topic-driven small-group discussion. This year look out for Writers’ Circles too. These virtual writing groups offer the chance for peer feedback.

The programme will close on Sunday evening with a panel discussion from international best-selling author Kate Mosse, novelist Abi Daré and literary agent Lucy Morris. Read all about it in the programme.

The Writers’ Weekend takes place from 24th-27th June 2021. Choose the package that suits you.

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.

Ledbury Poetry Festival 2021

Ledbury cr John EagerSome British towns seem better suited to literary festivals than others, and Ledbury in Herefordshire is ideal – with reams of streets and architecture that the word ‘picturesque’ could have been invented for. This year, Ledbury’s annual Poetry Festival is from 2nd-11th July 2021 and invites you to the first ever hybrid Ledbury Poetry Festival with a mixture of online and in-person events. Digital events are happening across the ten days of the Festival, with the second weekend (10th-11th July) offering a full schedule of readings, workshops and open mics.

Online, you can look forward to events with Jorie Graham, Margaret Atwood, Kwame Dawes, Fred D’Aguiar, Chen Chen, Luke Kennard, Kim Addonizio, Phoebe Stuckes, Gillian Clarke, Zoë Brigley, Billy Collins, Martina Evans, Valzhyna Mort, Victoria Chang, Anthony Anaxagorou, Nikita Gill, Séan Hewitt, and John Challis, Versopolis, Ledbury Poetry Slam Online, Juliet Stevenson on Stevie Smith, readings from Ledbury Poetry Competition Winners and more events to be confirmed.

In-person events include readings, talks and performances from Julia Copus, Rosalind Hudis, Ruth Stacey, Jamie Thrasivoulou, Beth Calverley, plus community events including an interactive poetry trail.

There will also be a mixture of online and in-person workshops with Phoebe Stuckes, John Challis, Zoë Brigley, Martina Evans, Jamie Thrasivoulou, Ruth Stacey, and Rosalind Hudis.

Don’t forget to enter the LPF Poetry Competitions. Poems for the adult and under 18s (12-17 years) categories must be received on or before Thursday 15th July 2021 at 5pm British Summer Time.

The image at the very top of this post was kindly supplied by John Eager of www.visitledbury.info.

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.

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