A short story – Garden Shed

Garden Shed by Judy Darley
My story Garden Shed has been published by the excellent New Flash Fiction magazine. It’s a deeply personal piece reporting almost verbatim from a dream about my father, who has Alzheimer’s Disease. I woke reeling with the discovery that all this time the man we’ve lost has been out there, safe in the shed, while the poor soul he’s become ambles through an increasingly confusing world.

Philip blurred by Judy Darley

The picture to the left captures him ice-skating one Christmas, just as he was beginning to blur.

You can read my story here: http://newflashfiction.com/judy-darley/

Strawberry Thief – a short story

Strawberry Thief by Judy DarleyJust as the birds are dashing around celebrating the start of spring, my flock-infused tale Strawberry Thief has found a new home with the deliciously named Straylight Magazine, biannual literary magazine of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

They say: “We look for innovative works of fiction, poetry, and art. Straylight takes pride in being on the edge of literary innovation.” So I’m feeling rather flattered.

The story begins: The hide is empty but for herself and Jonathan. In the clearing beyond the small, wooden structure, birds cavort—more species than she can name. Jonathan would know them all. He understood their code of feathers and colors in a way she’s never been able to grasp.

To read the full story, click here.

Silvering – a short story

Leaves on lawn by Judy DarleyI’m thrilled that my short story Silvering has been published in volume one, issue four of Wolves Magazine. Bobby, the lovely editor, said some awfully nice things about it. Thanks Bobby! The story follows a man on an emotional journey as his view of the world is utterly changed.

You can read the story here: www.wolvesmagazine.com/#!silvering/t4t5c.

It’s a really beautiful and entertaining issue. Do drop by for a read if you have a moment free. And submit your tales and poems for future issues too – Wolves is one of the few literary publications to actually pay!

A short story – Paper Flowers

Mount Isola, Lake Iseo by Judy Darley

My short story Paper Flowers has found a happy home on the beautiful journal The Island Review.

The tale was inspired by a visit to Mount Isola on Lake Iseo in northern Italy, courtesy of the splendid Brescia Tourism. It was the perfect example of how my journalism feeds my fiction feeds my enduring thirst for travel.

My story begins with the following line: “I hand the yellow felt-tip to Chiara, half watching as she adds a few dots of colour to the heart of a paper lily: pollen that will never fall free.”

You can read the full story here: theislandreview.com/content/paper-flowers.

A poem about pigeons

Pigeon cr Judy DarleyI admit, I have a curious fondness for pigeons. Something about their dauntlessness as they crowd the city streets, pecking for crumbs and dodging vehicles impresses me, possibly more than it should. So when I saw a call for poetry submissions about these generally unbeloved birds, I had just the poem in mind.

Happily, my poem Crusty was accepted for publication and now roosts in the poetry anthology Poeming Pigeons along with many feathered friends. It’s available from The Poetry Box, but you can read it here.

Crusty by Judy Darley

We’ve reached an understanding, he and I
sharing the same street corner
ignored by the same passersby.
His stained blanket mirrors my ragged wings
We both limp from hunger and on twisted limbs.
His fractured, fractious stories echo my plaintive call
His rheumy eyes, filth-clouded, reflect my skies, dismal.
We’ve both experienced the same fall from grace,
existing on life’s edges in this wretched place.
He raids the bins, eats what he can, and what he can’t he passes on.
When night crowds in, I rise to roost
watching over him till dawn.

National Flash Fiction Day celebrations

Flash Fiction Day booksThis year National Flash Fiction Day falls on 27th June, with events unfurling across the UK to celebrate and share creative writing’s shortest form.

“It is with words as with sunbeams—the more they are condensed the deeper they burn.” Robert Southey.

Over the years, Bristol has become the hub for National Flash Fiction Day, and will kick off with free flash fiction workshop sessions at the Central Library. The workshops will take place from 1.30-4.30pm, led by NFFD director Calum Kerr and prize-winning author KM Elkes.

From 6pm, head over to Foyles Bookstore Bristol for An Evening of Flash Fiction I’ll be sharing a couple of stories at this free event, along with some serious writing talents, including KM Elkes, Zoe Gilbert, Kevlin Henney, Sarah Hilary, Susan Howe, Calum Kerr, Adam Marek, Freya Morris, Grace Palmer, Jonathan Pinnock, Jane Roberts and Diane Simmons.

It’s a free evening of literary entertainment, so please do come along!

Flash fiction – On The Rocks

Child, beach cr Judy DarleyA piece of my flash fiction has been published by the lovely folks at Gambling The Aisle (not Isle, as I keep wanting to type!) It’s called On The Rocks and is a perfect beach read at only 171 words. You can click here to read it: gamblingtheaisle.com/2015/05/01/may-flash-fiction-on-the-rocks-by-judy-darley/ The editors commented “It embodies the risk-taking that Gambling the Aisle prides itself on.” Thank you kindly!

They’re currently on the lookout for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, interviews and visual art too, so do swing by if you fancy submitting something.

Listening to Bees – a short story

The Simple Things March 2015My tale ‘Listening to Bees’ is the bedtime story in the beautiful March issue of The Simple Things magazine. Isn’t that a gorgeous cover? It makes me think of things budding and bursting into bloom, filling the air with fragrance.

I’m really happy to have   ‘Listening to Bees’ published in the mag, not least because the talented Hannah Warren has illustrated the tale.

The story is about a woman trying to reunite an elderly brother his rather eccentric sister, with a scene in Bristol’s Botanic Garden.

In other writing news, my flash fiction Gloss has been published by Visual Verse. You can read it here: http://visualverse.org/submissions/gloss-2/

And on March 19th I’ll be reading one of my short stories at Bristol literary regular, Novel Nights, taking place at The Lansdown. Hope to see you there!

Remember Me To The Bees – The River

The River cr Louise BoulterThe 19th story in my debut collection Remember Me To The Bees is The River. An earlier version was published by Gemini Magazine – actually it was one of my first published stories, and really encouraged me to keep writing.

The story enmeshes you in the world of a small girl for whom losing a pair of shoes in a river is at least as worrying as the concept of death.

The exquisite artwork at the top of this post is by Louise Boulter. The others are my own.

A short excerpt from The River

Phoebe sat on the bank and unfastened her patent leather shoes. She dipped her feet into the cold flow, giggling as mud oozed between her toes and small hidden things tickled her soles. Her shoes bobbed in the shallows like a pair of tiny dinghies.

The River near bank cr JDarleyTucking her skirt into her knickers, she slipped off the bank into the river, wading along with gentle waves lapping at her pale, freckled thighs. She heard a splash behind her as Alec joined her in the swirling water. Phoebe led the way, taking care to put each foot down gingerly to test the depth before putting her full weight onto it, just as Alec had shown her.

Alec knew everything there was to know about animals and nature. He pointed out a heron as it unfolded into the air from the bank, transforming from a motionless grey stick into a billowing sheet like a magic trick.

As they followed the river from one field into the next, Phoebe saw something caught in the reeds ahead: a few bright flowers tangling with something more solid. Intrigued, she walked as fast as the water allowed, but as she neared it a small paw was loosened by the current and swung out. She stepped back in surprise and almost fell.

“What is it?” she asked. “An animal?”

Alec picked up a branch and prodded the small corpse, turning it so that a neat whiskery face was revealed: shining, vacant eyes and a pair of astonishingly long ears. A dark red mass glistened where the fur of the stomach should have been.

“A hare,” Alec said. “Killed by a fox, I reckon. Dying, dying, dead and it’s not coming back.”

“Really?” Phoebe asked, disconcerted. Dying was what Mum said was happening to Granny.

“Dead,” Alec repeated, sounding equally unsettled. He heaved himself out onto the riverbank. “Come on, out. That water’s disgusting. We’ll walk back along the lane. Where are your shoes?”

Phoebe gasped in horror, realising she’d left them floating amidst the weeds. Alec took her hand and they ran back to where they’d entered the river, but the shoes had disappeared, gone forever, as surely as the life of the hare.

The River far bank cr JDarley