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 and upcoming publications.

Coming soon

All the Lives we Almost Live – Trash Cat Lit

June 2024

Moon JelliesNational Flash Fiction Day Write In

Reasons to Rescue Strangers – National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2024

Why We Dance on the PierGooseberry Pie Lit Magazine

May 2024

CleaveTiny Molecules

February 2024

Blue-naped Parrots See More Than They SayNew Flash Fiction Review Issue 32 Family Life

January 2024

A Bright Day – winner of the New Writers UK Winter Story competition

October 2023

Mycorrhiza – Flash Frontier GARDEN / MĀRA issue

A Still, Golden Light – The Simple Things Magazine issue 136

What Was Lost & How Insects Signal Their Love – Flash Boulevard

June 2023

Windowledge Archives – National Flash Fiction Day Flash Flood UK 2023

The Long Way Home – National Flash Fiction Day NZ Micro Madness

April 2023

This is Not a Story About Chickens – The Hooghly Review issue 1

February 2023

How Many is 80? Paragraph Planet (scroll to Feb 23rd)

January 2023

Life Hacks – 12 Fragile Things Not to Use as a Doorstop – Wensum Literary Magazine issue 1/Winter 2023

December 2022

Natural Miracles – Flash Frontier Wonder issue

October 2022

The Art of Pivot and Flit – Dually Noted, Brink Literacy Project

September 2022

The Bee Man’s Secret – Flash Fiction Festival Volume Five

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

Enter the Bridport Prize 2024

Pebble man by Judy DarleyThe Bridport Prize, one of the UK’s most prestigious writing competitions, is currently seeking your short stories, flash fiction, poems and debut novels.

The deadline for all competition entries is 31st May 2024.

All entries are judged anonymously. To avoid disqualification, make sure you do not include your name, address, phone number, email, website, twitter handle etc on the document or in the file name.

Poems may be up to 42 lines in length (not including the title). There is no minimum line count. The entry fee is £12. The winning poet will receive £5,000.

Short stories may be up to 5,000 words long. The entry fee is £14. The winning short story writer will receive £5,000.

Flash fiction may be up to 250 words long. The entry fee is £11. The winning flash fiction writer will receive £1,000.

Novel extracts must be between 5,000 and 8,000 words long taken from the opening chapters. You must also supply a 300-word synopsis, which should be the first page of your entry. The fee is £24.

First prize is £1,500 plus mentoring by The Literary Consultancy and consultations with literary agent AM Heath and publisher Headline.

Memoir extracts must be between 5,000 and 8,000 words. You must also supply a 300 word overview. The fee is £24.

Bridport Prize judges

Liz Berry is the poetry judge. Liz is an award-winning poet and author of critically acclaimed collections Black Country (Chatto); The Republic of Motherhood (Chatto); The Dereliction (Hercules Editions) and The Home Child (Chatto), a novel in verse. Her poem Homing is part of the GCSE English syllabus.

Wendy Erskine is the short story judge. Wendy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an interviewer and broadcaster. She has published two short story collections Sweet Home and Dance Move with Stinging Fly Press and Picador. A past Seamus Heaney Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast, she is a secondary school teacher.

Jasmine Sawyers is the flash fiction judge. Jasmine is a Kundiman fellow and Indiana University MFA alum. Their work has won awards from Ploughshares, NANO Fiction, Fractured Lit and Press 53, appearing in Norton’s Flash Fiction America, Best Microfiction, SmokeLong Quarterly and Wigleaf. Their Anchored World book was a PEN finalist.

Ross Raisin is judging novel entries. Ross has written four novels: A Hunger, A Natural, Waterline and God’s Own Country. His work has won and been shortlisted for over ten literary awards. He won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award and was named the Best of Young British Novelists on Granta’s once in a decade list.

News of the Bridport Prize Memoir competition coming soon.

Don’t forget to check out the Writers’ Room on the Bridport Prize website for resources and inspiration.

Find full details and enter your creative works at www.bridportprize.org.uk. And don’t forget to sign up for their newsletter full of useful tips and inspiration.

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 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 varied and thought-provoking. Visiting each day feels like 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.

Have you ever been published on Paragraph Planet? Excitingly, there are now #author pages with a clickable link for every author published since 2008. Find them here! 

There’s something intensely 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.

Enter National Flash Fiction Day’s microfiction competition

Sweets by Judy DarleyNational Flash Fiction Day’s 100-word microfiction competition invites your submissions. Send something funny, something that resonates, is fresh and exciting, and leaves the judges lost for words.

The deadline is 15th February 2024. You’re invited to submit up to three flash fictions on any theme at no more than 100 words each. Titles aren’t included in the word count.

Last year’s winning micro was ‘All my lovers’ by Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar. Read it and the other winning tales here.

In 2022, Jan Kaneen won with her beautiful mini-tale ‘Just a Word to the Snowblind.’ Read it and the other winners here.

The microfiction competition prizes are:

  • £150 for first place
  • £100 for second place
  • £50 for third place

There are also seven awards of £20 for highly commended pieces. The winning and highly commended authors will be published in the National Flash Fiction Day 2024 anthology, and will receive a free print copy of this anthology.

This year’s judges are Sara Chansarkar, Jan Kaneen, David Rhymes and Alison Wassell.

Read more about the judges here.

By submitting work to the NFFD Microfiction Competition, you are agreeing to publication online and in the 2024 NFFD Anthology if your work is selected as a prizewinner or highly commended flash.

The submission fees for this year’s anthology is:

  • £2.00 for one (1) entry.
  • £3.75 for two (2) entries.
  • £5.25 for three (3) entries.

Find full details here, including details of the free entry scheme.

This year, National Flash Fiction Day is on Saturday 15th June. How will you celebrate?

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.

Writers! Enter Mslexia Fiction Competitions 2023

Mum's eye view cr Judy DarleyThe Mslexia Fiction Competitions are open for entries.

There are threecategories this year: Novel for Adults, Short Story, and Flash Fiction. The deadline for each is 18th September 2023.

Submit the first 5,000 words of your novel for adult, or young adult, readers; a complete short story of up to 3,000 words; and a flash fiction no more than 300 words.

Prizes include manuscript feedback and agent introductions, plus publication.

Mslexia Novel for Adults competition – everything you need to know

  • Judged by author Sophie Hannah, Natasha Onwuemezi of the Bookseller) and Sophie Lambert, literary agent and MD of the C&W Literary Agency, will choose the winner. This competition is open to women who are not yet published as novelist – self-published authors are eligible providing you’ve had fewer than 500 sales.
  • Submit first 5,000 words only in the first instance. Longlisted entrants will be asked to submit finished manuscripts later in the judging process
  • Your novel must be at least 50,000 words long
  • Entry fee: £26
  • 1st prize £5,000.
  • Finalists receive manuscript feedback from The Literary Consultancy and personal introductions to literary agents arranged in partnership with New Writing North.
  • Previous winners and finalists include Imogen Hermes Gower with The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, Polly Clark with Larchfield, Frances Perkins with The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr, Laura McVeigh with Under the Almond Tree, and many more.
  • Read an extract from the 2021 winning novel, Taint, here.

Mslexia Short Story competition 2023 – everything you need to know

  • Judged by Deborah Moggach, this competition is for unpublished complete short fiction of up to 3,000 words in any genre and on any theme.
  • The entry fee is £12.
  • 1st prize £3,000.
  • Three additional finalists will each receive £100
  • The winning entry and three finalists will be published in Mslexia.
  • The winning entry and finalists will be published in Issue 100 of Mslexia, with eight additional finalists, along with the four winners, appearing in Mslexia’s ebook anthology Best Women’s Fiction 2023.
  • Find out how 2022 winner Mónica Ibarra Parle did it here

Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition 2023 – everything you need to know

  • Judged by Tania Hershman, this competition is for unpublished complete short fiction of up to 300 words in any genre and on any theme
  • Entry fee: £6
  • 1st prize £500
  • Three additional finalists each receive £50
  • All four winning entries will be published in Issue 100 of Mslexia
  • Winning entries plus eight more shortlisted entries will be published in Mslexia’s ebook anthology Best Women’s Short Fiction 2023.
  • Find out how 2022 winner Karen Arnold did it here

Visit Mslexia’s entry instructions for a more comprehensive guide on how to enter.

Find full details at www.mslexia.co.uk. Good luck!

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.

Unlock your fairy tale toolkit

Rainbow by Judy Darley

Are you coming to the Flash Fiction Festival 2023. The in-person version of the festival unfurls from 14th-16th July, welcoming fabulous flashers including Kathy Fish, Nancy Stohlman, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Carrie Etter and Tania Hershman.

The weekend takes place at Trinity College, Bristol, and is packed with inspiring workshops tackling every aspect of flash fiction.

From 8.45am to 9.45am on Sunday 16th July, I’m inviting writers to wake up with my ‘Unlock your fairy tale toolkit’ workshop where fairy tale motifs offer the chance to shine new light on modern day darkness. We’ll be examining the fairy tales that resonated with us when we were children, and still resonate now, looking at what gives fairy tales their magic (hint: it’s not fairies), and writing the first draft of our own flash fiction fairy tales.

I hope to see you there!

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.

Retreat West online flash fest –5th-6th March

Three editors in a boat. Photo by Ivan Lapyrin on UnsplashI’m excited to be taking part in Retreat West’s online flash fest that’s happening on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th March.

Ten_Ways-anthology book coverThere are inspiring events unfurling all weekend, including the launch of ‘Ten Ways Animals Will Save Us‘, Retreat West’s tenth birthday anthology, which contains one of my climate fiction flashes, ‘Fishing for Green and Blue’. The anthology is crammed with amazing stories from spectacular authors, on the theme of ‘ten’.

The anthology launch is at 10am, when the festival begins. Writers who will be sharing their anthology stories at the festival include Sara Hills, Martha Lane, Amy Barnes and Edward Barnfield.

Unfortunately I’m not able to attend the launch, but I will be there for a panel discussion on Sunday:

15.15 – 16.15 – LITERARY JOURNAL EDITOR’S Q&A

I’ll be answering questions and sharing insights from the perspective of my flash fiction editor role at Reflex Press, along with Christopher Allen of Smokelong Quarterly and J. Archer Avary of Sledgehammer Lit.

Find full details of this energising literary weekend here.

I hope to see you there!

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

Flash Frontier entreats your stormy words

Tintagel storm cr Judy Darley

The lovely folks at New Zealand’s Flash Frontier magazine are currently inviting submissions of short tales from across the world on the theme of ‘thunder’.

The deadline is 28th February 2022. Submissions must be only 250 words in length. Stories of 251 words won’t be accepted.

They say: “We are looking for variety and originality. Tickle us, haunt us, gobsmack us. Choose your words carefully and leave our readers wanting more. And do it in a small space. (…) We love original art in all forms – colourful and daring, muted and understated. We’ll choose art each month that reflects the theme.”

Send only previously unpublished stories, and make sure you follow their style guide to the letter!

For a taste of what the editors like and to be inspired, read Flash Frontier’s recent issue on the theme of Salt, which includes my flash fiction story The Salt Sting of Learning When To Say No.

Find full details of how to submit your work here: www.flash-frontier.com/submissions/ 

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.

Anthology review – The Weight of Feathers

The Weight of Feathers cover. Shows purple book cover with pink, yellow and orange dots loosely shaped into a feather.The Weight of Feathers anthology comprises the winning, short-listed and highly commended fictions plucked from the riches submitted for the Retreat West Prize 2020. It opens with The Stonecutter’s Masterpiece by Jennifer Falkner, a bitter-sweet short story with a vivid sense of place, opening as it does with a paragraph that includes an expertly crafted line on the valley setting: “His workshop was the only thing in it, curled at the bottom like a sleeping cat.”

As short story judge Peter Jordan writes in his report: “It won because the writing on an individual sentence level was superb.”

In fact, there are outstanding sentences throughout this anthology. The book brims with intriguing short stories and flash fictions, each of which shimmers and hums with sensory details: a butterfly fluttering inside a double-glazed window; a woman turning to stone; a mouthful of damson jam. The delights are myriad, offsetting the sadness at the heart of many of these tales.

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