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

Writing prompt – pair

Pink doors. Photo by Judy Darley

I sometimes stroll down a street where two pink doors shine out, resplendent. I find their coordination intriguing – two separate homes, two front doors, the exact shade of strawberry milkshake pink.

Do a pair of siblings live in these two homes and share a passion for pink?

Did one person paint their door and offer up their leftovers? Was their neighbour’s door so shabby, it brought down the cheeriness of their pink, so they suggested a touch of gloss?

Is this the evidence of unrequited love? Or of a marriage where they need to, and can afford to, keep their distance on occasion?

Did a guerrilla house decorator daub both doors on the same moonlit night?

Is this secretly one home with two doors? If you were to venture in, might you find an adjoining inner door?

What answer to this synchronicity of pink can you dream up and turn into a 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.

Writing prompt – tents

Flash Festival Festival camp. Photo by Judy Darley. Shows tents among trees.I photographed these lovely tents sprouting amid trees at the Flash Fiction Festival, like a colourful crop of gigantic mushrooms. Each one sheltered a writer or two who emerged in daylight hours to chatter, attend writing workshops and imagine.

I’ve seen camps like this at music festivals slept in by revellers, at city parks occupied by people without homes, and on telly lived in by refugees. There are countless directions this prompt could take you in, from the lighthearted to the heartbreaking.

Alternatively, imagine someone coming downstairs and looking out of their kitchen window to discover a tent and interloper a la Alan Bennett’s Lady in the the Van.

Focus on one particular character and draw out the story they have to tell.

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.

Writing prompt – echoes

Belfast Docks_SoundYard sculpture_Judy DarleyThis sculpture is titled SoundYard and sits on Belfast docks. When you step beneath its metal tubes, motion detectors kick a mechanism into life and small cogs begin to turn, recreating the metallic sounds of the vibrant shipyards that once thrived here.

It’s an ingenious way to summon an impression of history.

Just as Marcel Proust employed the sense of taste (his famous ‘little crumb of madeleine’) to plunge into memory, can you choose a sense to evoke a moment from your own or an imagined past that will transport readers to that time?

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.

Writing prompt – suspense

Aeroplane wing by Judy Darley

As awful as I know the emissions are for our planet, I’ve always loved the magic of flight – something about the suspension between home and destination, land and air, and in this case day and night, hold me in their thrall.

Can you write a work of fiction prompted by that sense of between-ness? How can you make it central to your plot or character? How could it inform the tension and outcome of your tale?

You could even choose to focus on the suspension between safety and calamity. What might drive someone to leave a place? What hopes and fears might they carry with them?

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.

Writing prompt – folklore

Giant's Causeway by Judy Darley

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Northern Ireland and took a trip to the Giant’s Causeway. This beautiful, natural basalt sculpture is steeped in folklore about a giant named Finn MacCool, who wanted to conquer Scotland, so built a route across, only to flee home when he discovered the giants there were far bigger than himself.

When the Scottish giant came to confront Finn MacCool, Finn was taking a nap, luckily for him. His quick-thinking wife covered him with a blanket and told the Scots giant it was Finn’s baby snoozing there. The Scots giant took one look, imagined the man who could sire such a vast baby, and ran home (presumably to Staffa Rock), destroying the causeway as he scarpered.

My home city of Bristol in southwest England has a gorge apparently scooped out by a left-handed giant. I love the thought that our land is riddled with tales of giants.

Can you write a myth of your own to explain an exceptional local feature or landmark? If you need to, invent the landmark too!

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.

Writing prompt – envoy

Little Amal_The Man Inside_Judy Darley

Last week, Bristol enjoyed a visit from Little Amal, the 3.5 metre tall puppet of a Syrian refugee child who is walking across Europe as an envoy raising awareness of the refugee crisis.

Since July 2021 the moving sculpture made by Handspring Puppet Company has travelled over 8,000km, crossing Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine to focus attention on the urgent needs of young refugees.

In typical Bristol fashion, Little Amal’s visit gained the buzz of a party, with drummers, dancers and horde of hundreds joining Little Amal on her journey from Bristol Old Vic to the harbour where she boarded a boat.

There are so many directions you could take this writing prompt in, from the story of an actual refugee child, to a tale of the puppeteer inside Little Amal. With one of countless mobile phones in shot, you could even focus on the role social media has to play in spreading the word.

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.

Writing prompt – holidays

Holidays by Judy Darley. Shows a mannequin sitting in a charity shop dressed for the beach.I love the surrealism of this mannequin sitting in a charity shop as though it’s an airport, and like they’ve been waiting for hours to board a flight. They look ready for their holidays!

Can you write a story inspired by this? What other unlikely objects might want to head overseas and lie by a pool? What might be craving adventure or escape?

What does ‘holiday’ or ‘vacation’ mean to you? What could the best experience of this be, or the worst?

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.

Writing prompt – tree tunnel

Arnos Vale tree tunnel by Judy DarleyI have a special place in my heart for ‘tree tunnels’ – those spaces where trees flourish with such vigour that they seem to curve their branches right over the path.

At this time of year the new green leaves and hopeful sunlight makes them particularly beautiful, and this Celtic cross seems like a road marker to a different era.

If you were to walk or ride through this ‘tree tunnel’, where might you emerge?

Can you answer that question with a story?

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.

Writing prompt – excess

Floral excess near Victoria Park by Judy Darley

I enjoy the floral extravagance of this small but overflowing garden. It looks like the house is being swallowed up by flowers.

Who might live here? What makes them so devoted to their garden? Is there a power at play here other than a green thumb? For instance, imagine a character who sees visions while they garden, or who can seed good (or bad) emotions into the plants they tend.

Can you transform this into an extraordinarily colourful 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.