A short story – the ebb and flow of tides

The Ebb and Flow of Tides by Judy DarleyI’m delighted that my short story ‘The ebb and flow of tides‘, in which a couple separated by lockdown enjoy a two-person remote carnival, has been published in issue 1 of Perhappened Magazine.

In solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement currently rocking the Globe, Perhappened’s excellent editors are password-protecting the first issue upon its release and asking you to either show evidence of a donation of ANY AMOUNT to a BLM/bail fund-related cause, or  proof of signed petition(s), and/or email templates for justice.

Here’s how The ebb and flow of tides begins:

For my lover’s lockdown birthday, we devise carnival costumes to cheer ourselves up.
My mask will be the sun, to represent my fiery temperament. Hers will be the moon:
calm, cool, reflective.

We live in different households, so there’s no chance of holding hands.

I must have water on the brain at the moment, as on Saturday 6th June, National Flash Fiction Day, I wrote a short tale prompted by the photo of a stormy sea. My story is called ‘Why rivers run to the sea‘, and explains exactly that in the words of the River Frome which  rushes through Bristol. Happily, this story is now live at The Write-In.

Here’s a taste of the tale:

I hunger for salt. I call to the gulls to follow me. I ripple with the anticipation of
spider crabs, squat lobsters, cuttlefish, cup coral and squirts.

I crave the North Atlantic.
My spine shivers with the instinct to surge in peaks.

This story has since been played on BBC Radio Bristol.

My teeny story ‘Ruby‘ is now live at https://thedrabble.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/ruby/ Interestingly, in my head the characters are both female, but the pic they chose seems to show a man and a woman. What do you think?

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!”

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.

Open the door to flash fiction

Otter wood grainNational Flash Fiction Day UK kicks off tomorrow with events across the country. Highlights include the grand launch of the National Flash Fiction Day anthology 2019And We Pass Through.

Edited by Santino Prinzi and Joanna Campbell, the eight annual instalment of the anthology is crowded with stories inspired by doors. I’m thrilled that my story Skip Diving has been included. It features a door with some wood grain resembling an otter. That detail is inspired by the above, which floats on the back of our bathroom door.

As part of the excitement, the Flash Flood journal will publishing flashes throughout the day. My story Clatter will appear on the journal at around 11.10 a.m. BST.

This year, the National Flash Fiction Day epicentre has relocated from Bristol to Coventry. If you’re heading over there for the huge celebrations of the bite-sized literary-form, have fun!

The 507 micro fictions I have read

Dinefwr water meadows. Phot by Judy DarleyRecently, in a little under two days, I read and digested 507 micro fictions. Some of them I returned to and chewed over multiple times. In the two days after that, I set aside more than stories until I’d selected the 25 tales that have… well, yes, cast ripples.

The 507 specimens are 100-word stories submitted to the National Flash Fiction Day competition, which I was lucky enough to co-judge. On the morning after the contest closed to entries, I opened my inbox to find a fat document brimming with them all, ready to read at my leisure.

Well, not at my leisure, but it was a Saturday and I had almost an entire free morning in which to luxuriate over the carefully crafted creations.

During the first day I soon built up a rhythm that swept me along. As I swam through the compact fictions, I developed a labelling system of Yes, for the ones that stopped me in my tracks, Maybe, for the ones that snagged my attention at all, and No, for those that, I’m afraid, I felt I could remove without too many qualms.

By the end of day two I’d completed my second reading of all surviving stories, and was down to around 130.

Day three saw me whittle these down to a scant 61.

Patterns began to emerge as my brain sorted them into a series of recurring themes. I and my fellow judges, Angela Readman, Diane Simmons and Kevlin Henney, each attended dozens of funerals, including a high number where the chief mourner was also the murderer. We spent time in hospitals reeking with antiseptic and regret, waded through the mud of a multitude of wars. We met ghosts, unhappy children and cheating lovers in their droves.

We visited far-off planets, encountered people contemplating violence to themselves and others, and grazed our knees on numerous allegories and analogies. We bore witness to sensual and sinister moonlit cavorting. On at least three separate occasions we were told of the pain experienced via injury done to a twin. We eavesdropped on #MeToo revelations and felt the heat or skin-creeping chill of first times. These echoed narratives made our jobs a fraction easier, as we sought as the best of one type or another and used these to narrow our choices.

The process taught me to recognise a number of important things.

  • Word play is good, but not enough. For me a story needs to have heart too
  • A twist in the tail really needs to be handled with skill so as not to become an irritant
  • In some cases, even a 100-word story can have too many words
  • In some cases, a story trimmed down to 100 words can lose all meaning
  • Titles matter. With only 100 words to play with, the title offers precious opportunity to set the tone, and even layer in background information
  • Last lines matter. Somehow, they are the pebble that really casts a ring of ripples that will draw readers back to your story time and again.

To reach the small sum of 25, we each had to extricate and wave sorrowful farewells to some truly outstanding works. One I removed on day three continue to wriggle in my mind with such insistence that I retrieved it on day four and included it in my 25.

Once we’d ordered our 25 choice according to  preference, Santino Prinzi, the competition coordinator, correlated these, reissued the shortlist of 26 and asked us to narrow these down to our top ten. At this point, certain stories really began to shine.

I have emerged from tales breathless with wonder. It’s been an incredible, exhilarating journey, every step of the way.

NFFD 2019 logo

Now we have announced our winners and high commendably micro fictions, all of which will be published in the National Flash Fiction Day anthology 2019. There are some absolute stunners among them. Huge congratulations to these final ten, as well as everyone who reached the shortlist!

Being a co-judge of the NFFD completion 2019 has been a privilege. more than that, it’s been an education that’s spurred me on to aspire to write deeper, write truer and uncover more through my own writing.

A perfectly crafted paragraph is a powerful thing.

Enter the NFFD Micro Fiction Competition

Sweets by Judy DarleyI’m excited to be one of the judges of the National Flash Fiction Day micro fiction competition 2019, along with the marvellous Diane Simmons, Angela Readman and Kevlin Henney.

We’re hungry for your most finely crafted, resonant unpublished words. Disturb us, discombobulate us, turn our expectations upside down and make us regard the world anew, or draw us into a life and move us, all in only 100 words or fewer.

The deadline is Friday 15th March 2019, 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 £75.

Second prize is £50.

Third prize is £25.

The winning and shortlisted authors will be published in the National Flash Fiction Day 2019 anthology. Winning and shortlisted authors will also receive a free print copy of this anthology.

Find full competition rules and entry fees here.

You can read my interview with Diane Simmons, in which I talk about what I’m hoping to see in submissions, here.

I can’t wait to read your submissions. Good luck!

Flash Walk – the stories

Flash Walk 2018. Photo by Judy DarleyOn Saturday 16th June I hosted a Flash Walk as part of the National Flash Fiction Day celebrations. We invited competition entries on the theme of Urban Landscapes, between 40 and 400 words in length. Wonderful submissions arrived from all over the world, which we managed to narrow down to 12 winning entries.

Ashley Green, Christopher Ryan and Poppy Hocken.

The stories were performed by actors Ashley Green, Christopher Ryan and Poppy Hocken, during the #FlashWalk from Bristol’s M Shedon Bristol Harbourside to The GreenHouse It was a wonderful to lead our audience across the city, and attract a few curious folks along the way. The rain held off until the very last story!

The winning stories are incredibly varied. Some are funny, some moving, some thought-provoking, some a touch surreal. You can read a selection of them here. Continue reading

Fancy a Flash?

FlashWalk2016_Actors JoButler TomParker

National Flash Fiction Day UK 2018 erupts tomorrow – Saturday 16th June – with events across the UK and a special trio of celebrations in Bristol.

The day unfolds with the #FlashWalk organised by yours truly.

We invited competition entries on the theme of Urban Landscapes, between 40 and 400 words in length. Wonderful submissions arrived from all over the world, and we managed to narrow it down to 12 winning entries, which will be performed by our talented actors, Ashley Green, Christopher Ryan and Poppy Hocken, during the #FlashWalk.

Ashley Green, Christopher Ryan and Poppy Hocken.

Actors Ashley Green, Christopher Ryan and Poppy Hocken

The fully guided #FlashWalk begins at 10.30am on 16th June, outside the harbourside entrance to Bristol’s M Shed. It will finish at the GreenHouse, Hereford Street, BS3 4NA (just under a mile’s stroll away), between an hour and an hour and a half later.

The GreenHouse will be the venue for the afternoon’s free writing workshops. There will also be an evening of flash fiction performances at Bedminster Library, and the launch of the 2018 National Flash Fiction Day anthology.

You can find more details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/178868469594679/,
here https://www.facebook.com/events/177406499633651/
and here: 
https://www.facebook.com/events/2106124046323877/

Hope to see you there!

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Write for a Flash Walk

Totterdown coloured houses cr Judy DarleyI’m happy to say that after a year’s hiatus, the #FlashWalk is set to return as part of the National Flash-Fiction Day celebrations on 16th June 2018. Far less seedy than it sounds (depending on the tales submitted), the Flash Walk will take place in Bristol, celebrating fiction in its shortest and most intense form.

The Flash Walk will take place in central Bristol, and your words can be part of it.

To be in with a chance of being included, all you need to do is send us a piece of flash fiction, prompted by some aspect of the theme Urban Landscape. You can take this idea in any direction you choose, using any theme and any genre, providing your tale is between 40 and 400 words in length.

Bristol can be but doesn’t have to be a source of inspiration for your submission.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 21st May 2018.

The selected stories will be shared by  actors during the walk, so if yours is chosen, all you need to do is come along and enjoy the performance!

The walk begins at 10.30am on 16th June, just outside the main entrance to Bristol’s M-Shed on the harbour side. It will finish at the GreenHouse, Hereford Street, BS3 4NA (just under a mile’s stroll away), between an hour and an hour and a half later.

The GreenHouse will also be the venue for the afternoon’s free writing workshops

To be part of National Flash-Fiction Day‘s #FlashWalk2018, submit your entries to bristolflash@gmail.com before midnight on Monday 21st May 2018. There’s no charge to enter, so why not give it a go?

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.

Flying Ant Day, Savages and Dawn Thread

Ant by Judy Darley

Disclaimer: This is not a flying ant.

Happy to say that my flash fiction tale Flying Ant Day has been published in A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed: 2016 National Flash-Fiction Day Anthology. Wonderful!

A Box of Stars Beneath the BedEven better, my tale is one of just 50 chosen from 500 entries. Woohoo! There are so many excellent writers on the list of those included. Definitely looking forward to reading the contributions from Jude Higgins, Diane Simmons, Jonathan Pinnock, KM Elkes and Jane Roberts.

I’ll be reading my tale as part of the National Flash Fiction Day celebrations in Bristol on Saturday, at At The Well on Cheltenham Road.

To get your copy, go to the Amazon page or visit the NFFD website, where you can also discover all kinds of events happening this National Flash Fiction Day (June 25th, in case you were wondering!).

My short tale Savages has been published in issue three of Ink In Thirds magazine.

This beautiful publication describes itself as ‘a magazine of poised prose, precarious poetry, and photography that makes us want to pilot our own realms again.’

Inspired by the wilderness of childhood, including glimpses from my own, I’m glad my tale has found a home here.

Read issue three of Ink in Thirds magazine here.

The opening line of Savages is:

The field has been scalped; sharp spikes are all that remain of the wheat that whispered here, green stems that leaned with the wind and hissed tickling promises as we drifted by on our way to school.

Happy Summer Solstice! Today began when most of us were still sleeping (at 4.06am, rumour has it) and the air was green and fragrant. Gorgeous.

Nicholas Oakwell red feather dressMy poem Dawn Thread has been selected for a special Midsummer issue of Enchanted Conversations: A Fairy Tale Magazine. In case you don’t know, Enchanted Conversations is a beautiful online journal of original fairytales, which has regular calls for submissions.

My poem came in a flurry after seeing an exquisite dress embellished by students and tutors at the Royal School of Needlework for designer Nicholas Oakwell (pictured left). The gown was hand sewn all over with more than 200,000 feathers, dyed in 18 shades of red, and made me think of the kind of tasks traditionally given to maidens in fairytales. The profusion of red made me think of the transition from girl to woman, and the feathers drew to mind several fairytales about men turned into swans, and their sister sewing them shirts to return them to their human forms.

My poetic tale offers a rather different ending, culminating at dawn on the longest day.

Read it here.