A Flash Flood of Fiction

Weaving Wings by Judy DarleyTomorrow, Saturday 6th June 2020, marks National Flash Fiction Day UK, and I’m thrilled to have one of my stories take part. All day long, flash fiction stories will be published in the Flash Flood, and my tale Weaving Wings, a favourite of mine from my collection Sky Light Rain, will appear at around 8.40am BST.

I’m particularly thrilled as this year, thanks to lockdown, the hard-working team at NFFD headquarters received an unprecedented number of high quality submissions – 1,650 in total!

You can pop in at any time from 00:01 BST on 6th June to dip a toe in the torrent. From the chatter on Twitter it looks like there will be some shining examples of the flash fiction form to sweep you along.

You’re also invited to take part in the The Write-In this year. Throughout Saturday 6th June, the team will publish 24 flash prompts — one every hour from 00:01 to 23:59 BST.

“Submit your responses by 23:59 BST on Sunday 7th June for a chance to be published at The Write-In.  Writers of all levels of experience welcome!”

A short story – Shadows and Shine

The BeautifullestI’m thrilled that my flash fiction story ‘Shadows and Shine’ has been published in The Beautifullest: Pure Slush Vol. 17. It’s a slightly twisted tale of sibling rivalry between two brothers.

Here’s a line from my story:

‘A spare key to the woman’s house hangs in their hallway. He wants to see what happens if he enters while she’s out.’

The publication features flash fiction, poetry and essays by 89.
Various other eBook formats will follow in the coming weeks.

Book review – Scratched Enamel Heart by Amanda Huggins

Scratched Enamel Heart cover_Amanda_HugginsThere’s a conciseness to Amanda Huggins’ writing that makes me think of a stitch being drawn taut – her words pull the core of you to the core of a story until you gasp for breath.

Her Costa Short Story Award shortlisted tale ‘Red’ uses crimson dust to create a vivid, slightly melancholy landscape where a lone stray dog provides the hope, and a memory of better times provide the drive to reach like a scrawny sapling for light. Like Rowe, the protagonist of the preceding story “Where The Sky Starts’, Mollie needs to leave the place she’s supposed to call home or risk being trapped in a life that could suck her beyond sight of all hope, drive and light.

Huggins has a vivid mastery of words that whips up a setting you can virtually walk into, and uses that mastery to construct scenery that weaves the story’s mood around you: “Mollie hated the dark, brooding weight of the house, the trees so dense they held a part of the night’s heart within them even when the sun shone.”

It’s poetically precise and powerful.

Continue reading

A short story – Rocked Awake

Earthworm by Judy Darley
I’m chuffed to bits that my mini myth Rocked Awake has been published as part of Dear Damsels‘ nature theme.

In the story, a mother attempts to solve the riddle of why her baby daughter is usurped in her crib by wild flora and fauna. Nature’s clues lead her to a fresh interpretation of the changeling myth. 
Here’s a fragment from the centre of the tale:

This morning, it was an earthworm, fleshy and pale, curled into a shape like a shepherd’s crook.Sometimes it wasn’t even a creature that breathed – last week my daughter had been usurped by an acorn.

You can read my full story, and the other fabulous words published by Dear Damsels, here.

Book review – Soul Etchings by Sandra Arnold

SOUL ETCHINGS, SANDRA ARNOLDIn a book of trees, dragonflies and birds, stories flit and alight on wings crafted from printed paper. Each page contains a world of sunlight and shade, many trailing heartbreak, maltreatment or the bruises of being misunderstood,

Author Sandra Arnold’s heroes are strong-willed, sensitive souls who are often spirited away by the end of the page and a half that comprises their world.

As I read, I could visualise each setting vividly, and my head filled with branches of sun-dappled leaves. It reminded me of my own childhood in trees, and of living more inside imaginary worlds than the so-called real world.  Flash fiction is a form that requires immense discipline, and Arnold paints carefully selected words into exquisite scenes: “spider webs shivered like torn lace” and “the sea was polished glass,” and dawn’s many beauties, aglow in Blood of the Stone, include “the first pale notes of birds.’

In The Girl Who Wanted to Fly, our heroine is “breath in the newborn calf.”

Yet running beneath the poetic imagery is a great deal of anger and grief for damaged childhoods. This is a book of lost children, and the people who abuse, bully and drive them away, or who simply lack the power to save them. A yearning to flee flutters throughout, alongside a deep passion for the natural world over the urban.

Continue reading

Book review – With One Eye On The Cows

with-one-eye-on-the-cowsGathering together 137 stellar micro fictions, With One Eye On The Cow: Bath Flash Fiction Volume Four is an anthology full of stamping, harrumphingly insistent words.

I have a particular fondness for slow-burn flashes, by which I mean the ones that burrow in and quietly stop then restart your heart. Not the well-worn trope of a twist in the tail, but the stories that seed in subtle clues that burst into bloom with startling vivacity. Those authors in my opinion have mastered the tricky craft of the short short.

A Kind God by Jesse Sensibar is a particularly fine example, beginning with the sublime and finishing with the prosaic, with a sliver of shock in between.

Elsewhere we rub shoulders with displaced families, and a vastly varied assortment of starting points of PTSD. We encounter the bravura of sexual, awakenings and dawning realisations, and seethe with the knowledge of thoughtless wrongs impossible to undo.

Continue reading

Green Stories invites upbeat #CliFi flash fiction

Pataya, Thailand beach by Judy DarleyThe Green Stories’ team are inviting entries of Flash Fiction for their latest competition.
This competition is free to enter.

The deadline is 21st March 2020. Entries should be no longer than 500 words, excluding title.

Specifically, they are seeking Flash Fiction entries that explore themes around building a sustainable society.

“Most stories set in the future are dystopian, meaning they have a pessimistic view of society. We will consider all stories, but we encourage you to imagine a more positive settings and practices for your stories,” they say. “The story doesn’t have to be about sustainability or climate change directly. A rom-com, for example, could be set in a society that replaces ownership with borrowing and the heroine goes to a clothes library to pick up a posh dress and borrow jewellery for her big date.”

The Green Stories website is packed with information on the topics they’d like you to consider, ranging from practices such as the sharing economy to advances such as nanotechnologies and green transport.

For full details of prizes and how to enter, visit www.greenstories.org.uk/flash-fiction/

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

Enter National Flash Fiction Day’s micro fiction competition

Sweets by Judy DarleyNational Flash Fiction Day’s 100-word micro fiction competition 2020 is open for submissions.  This year’s judges are Rob Walton, FJ Morris, Anne Summerfield and Susmita Bhattacharya. Send something funny that resonates, is fresh and exciting, and leaves the judges lost for words.

The deadline is Saturday 15th February 2020, 23:59pm GMT. You’re invited to submit up to three flash fictions on any theme.

Titles aren’t included in the word count.

  • First prize is £100
  • Second prize is £50
  • Third prize is £25

The winning and shortlisted authors will be published in the National Flash Fiction Day 2020 anthology. Winning and shortlisted authors will also receive a free print copy of this anthology.

Find full details here.

This year, National Flash Fiction Day is on Saturday 6th June. How will you be celebrating?

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

Submit tiny flashes to Paragraph Planet

Hot Water by Judy DarleyI’m growing increasingly addicted to Paragraph Planet. This fabulous website publishes a single 75-word flash fiction every day (word count includes title). The stories selected are brilliantly diverse and powerful. Visiting each day feels akin to pond dipping – you never quite know what wonders will appear.

They’re also a great place to submit to. Their online submission form is easy, and free, to use, and while there isn’t payment for writers, there is notoriety up for grabs. Each story is shared via Twitter to more than 3,600 followers.

The picture above is the one I created for my story Leavings, which is available to read in the Paragraph Planet archive section – just scroll to December 30th.

Isn’t there something satisfying about crafting a piece that exactly hits 75 words, including title, and ensuring it’s still meaningful? If you write, I urge you to give it a try, and if you read, swing by to read today’s tiny yet powerful offering.

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

A flash fiction – Going Coastal

Seahorse by Judy DarleyIn June I spent a glorious weekend helping out at the Flash Festival at Trinity College near Bristol. I attended as many of the workshops as I could and found myself utterly inspired! Vanessa Gebbie’s workshop ‘The Wierd and Wonderful World of Flash Fiction’ generated zillions of ideas, one of which began with a seahorse and bloomed into my 250-word micro tale Going Coastal.

Here are the opening lines:

Bernadette looked at the seahorse bobbing in its jar of saltwater. It blinked at her through the thick bevelled glass. She thought it seemed depressed.”

I’m delighted to see it published in the Flash Fiction Festival Three anthology, where it jostles happily alongside 81 other micros, including works by some of the flash fiction universe’s luminaries, not least Vanessa herself, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Carrie Etter, Karen Jones, Santino Prinzi and Peter Wortsman, plus a whole exceptional horde of others!

Can’t wait for next year’s Flash Fiction Festival – tickets are available here. The anthology is published by Ad Hoc Fiction and available to buy here.

In the meantime, this is what I’ll be reading:

Flash Fiction Festival Three