A short story – How To Milk An Alpaca

Milk by Judy Darley

I’m so pleased my small, strange, hopeful story How To Milk An Alpaca (a step-by-step guide), has taken up residence with Lunate Fiction.

This gorgeous publication has been publishing some stunning fiction recently, so it’s lovely to know my alpaca-milker has found a home with plenty of lovely neighbours!

You can read the story here.

Sky Light Rain – collection launch and literary night

Sky Liight Rain launch picI’m excited to share the news that my short story collection Sky Light Rain will be published by Valley Press on 2nd November. To celebrate, I’m hosting an atmospheric evening of readings and music on the themes of sky, light, and rain.

The collection draws on my enduring fascination with the fallibility of the human mind, and examines aspects of human existence, including our relationship to nature and to each other.

The event will take place at Waterstones Bristol Galleries, from 7pm on Saturday 2nd November 2019. I’ll be joined by writers Paul Deaton, Kevlin Henney and Grace Palmer, and indie art-pop musician Hidden Tide.

This is a Bristol Festival of Literature 2019 fringe event.

Tickets are free but limited, so don’t forget to book yours.

Date And Time: Saturday 2nd November 2019, 7pm-9pm.

Location: Waterstones, 11A, Union Galleries, Broadmead, Bristol BS1 3XD

Book your free tickets here.

Mslexia’s 2019 Fiction Awards

Mum's eye view cr Judy DarleyThis year, Mslexia Fiction Awards include their Short StoryAdult Novel and Flash Fiction competitions. The deadline for each is 30th September 2019.

Entry fees are £10 per short story, £25 per novel extract and £5 per flash fiction entry.

The winner of the Short Story competition will receive £3,000, plus the optional extras of a writing retreat at Moniack Mhor, and mentoring by an editor at Virago Press.

Three other finalists will each receive £100. All four winning stories will be published in the March 2020 issue of Mslexia.

Shortlisted entries will be judged by award-winning short story author, novelist and performer Irenosen Okojie.

The winner of the Adult Novel competition will receive £5,000 and the option of representatlon by agent Charlotte Robertson. Judges are novelist Louise Doughty, Nicola Holloway from BBC Radio 4, and Literary agent Charlotte Robertson.

The winner and four finalists will receive manuscript feedback and introductions to agents and editors at a special event held in London.

The first prize in the Flash Fiction competition is £500. The winner will be picked by Katy Fish.

Three other flash fiction finalists will each receive £50. All four winning stories will be published in the March 2020 issue of Mslexia.

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

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award

MShed cr Judy DarleyThe Aesthetica Creative Writing Award celebrates outstanding short fiction and poetry from around the world. The deadline for entering the award is 31st August 2019, making this the perfect time to get polishing your poetry and prose.

Prizes include publication within Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology and £1,000 for each category winner. Winner of the short fiction competition will receive a consultation with literary agency Redhammer Management, while the Poetry winner will have a Full Membership to The Poetry Society. To whet your appetite for creating more literary works, the winners will also receive, a subscription to Granta and books courtesy of Bloodaxe Books and Vintage Books.

There’s no theme – just submit your finest story or poem offering your own unique window on a slice of the world!

Fiction entries should be no more than 2,000 words each and poetry entries should be no more than 40 lines each. Both short fiction and poetry entries should be written in English.

Remarkably, entry fees have actually dropped for 2019.

Short Fiction: NOW £13.50 WAS £18  |  Poetry: NOW £9 WAS £12

Works published elsewhere are accepted.

For full details, visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/creative-writing-award

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Short story – The People of The Soil

Dinefwr water meadows. Lake. Photo by Judy DarleyI’m delighted to see my story The People of The Soil published by Enchanted Conversation magazine.

The story is inspired by the Welsh myth of the Lady of the Lake, and has found a home is Enchanted Conversation’s June 2019 Issue: A Drop of Water, A Flood of Dreams.

ThePeopleOfTheSoil-DARLEY-CoverABergloffThe story begins:

I stirred as I heard the river move beneath the crops, its murmurs rejoicing. My brothers lay intertwined beside me. “Fam’s leaving,” I whispered, and their eyes snapped open. We crept outside, leaving Dad asleep. We’d known this day would come, even before he struck her for the third time.

What rises from water can’t live on land forever…

To read the full story, click here.

Loving the gorgeous artwork by Enchanted Conversation Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Amanda Bergloff too!

Preservation resurfaces at Liars’ League Hong Kong

Mussel shells cr Judy DarleyWay back in 2017, I was happy to announce that my short story Preservation had been picked to feature at a Liars’ League Hong Kong night of literary performances.

I’m pleased to say that this story has now resurfaced for a special ‘Best & Brightest’ event, to take place on Thursday 30th May. The evening is part of the Hong Kong Spoken Word Festival, and will showcase “a selection of some of the best pieces performed at Liars’ League HK.”

How lovely! My story is one of eight pieces selected for the evening.

In case you weren’t aware, Liars League is an event that matches short fiction to actors, celebrating the spoken word while giving it some thespian panache! Their tagline is Writers Write. Actors Read. Audience Listens. Everybody Wins.

Susan LavenderPreservation will again be performed by actor Susan Lavender (pictured left)The story was inspired by the fact various words about nature have been excised from children’s dictionaries to make room for more about technology. Sad but true. Mussel was just one of the words removed.

I can’t attend, but hope to catch up on the podcast or videos afterwards. It starts at 8pm at The Jockey Club Studio Theatre, Hong Kong on 30th May 2019.

Find details and book your tickets here.

Smog – a short story

Taf Estuary, mist photo by Judy DarleyThe old woman has been here every day for a week, eyeing the smog and making notes or drawings in a fat notepad that she holds on her lap.

I’m happy to share the news that my short story Smog, a teeny, tiny climate flash, has been published by Porridge Magazine.

The story involves a swingset, an old woman and a flask that may not contain tea. Read Smog in full here.

Charged Particles – a short story

Penis Museum2

My short story Charged Particles has been published by MIR Online. Set in Iceland, it’s about two English sisters seeking common ground, while hoping to glimpse the Northern Lights.

The shot above shows exhibits from the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which features in the story.

Here’s an excerpt from near the beginning of Charged Particles:

Rain transformed to snow somewhere between us unpacking our bags and Aurora’s text asking if we’d arrived. Let’s meet at the penis museum, she suggested. I hear it is adorbs!

I showed Lawrence the text and rolled my eyes.

“Give her a chance,” he said. “You know how you get with her.”

“Only because she brings it out in me!” I snapped.

He shrugged. “All siblings are like that. Come on, let’s go.”

The settling snow glittered with fractures of miniature rainbows. I found myself converted as we strolled amid the drifting flakes, boots crunching into the crisp surface. A smile broke out over my face. I grabbed for Lawrence’s hand and held tight, our mittens squishing together. He cast me a sidelong glance and I knew he was wondering what cheerful changeling had replaced his sceptical wife.

Read Charged Particles in full.

Elevated Truths – a short story

Lift at ABode by Judy DarleyI’m pleased to share the news that my short story Elevated Truths has been published by Fictive Dream magazine.

The story explores the changing relationship between a father and daughter over a number of years, as well as the lies we tell and pretend to believe for comfort’s sake. It also focuses quite a lot on lifts, which fascinate and scare me in equal measure!

The seeds of this story began way back in 2016, with this writing prompt. Two years’ on, I actually sat down and began to write it down. Funny how long the germination process can take sometimes.

Here’s an excerpt from the story’s final section.

The elevator doors ping open.

“It’s me!” I yell, fake-cheerful, as I let myself into the flat. I go straight into the kitchen and open the fridge door, blocking my view to the living room. That way Dad will have time to get from couch to bedroom and pull on proper clothes if he’s still in his pyjamas.

There are cherry tomatoes wizening in the salad drawer, and a Peach Melba yogurt only one day past its sell-by-date. I grab it.

“All right, love?” Dad asks, sidling into the room.

‘How’s the writing going?” I ask, spooning a small orange mountain into my mouth.  

“Oh, great, making real progress.” Dad’s eyebrows pinch outwards and down.

I used to think that movement showed he was lying, but I’ve come to understand it means he’s trying to convince himself that what he’s saying is true. A subtle difference.

You can read the full story here.

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2019 Short Story Competition

Beautiful skies, Victoria Park cr Judy DarleyThis annual competition is one of my favourites on the literary calendar. There’s no theme for you to base your story on – all you have to do is make sure you’re registered with the website www.writersandartists.co.uk, that the subject line of your email reads ‘W&A Short Story Competition 2019‘ and that you send it to waybcompetitions@bloomsbury.com.

Your story must be no more than 2,000 words long. The closing date for entries is midnight on Wednesday 13th February 2019.

The winner of the competition – along with two runners-up – will be announced on the W&A blog pages in March 2019.

Entry is free, but don’t forget to register before submitting your story. Continue reading