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

BBC Upload wants your words

Pressed leaf1 by Judy DarleyIf you have a short story you’ve written that you’d like to hear on the radio and you’re based in the Bristol area, there’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.

DJ Adam Crowther invites writers, poets and spoken word performers from Bristol, Bath, North Somerset and South Gloucestershireto get in touch.

All you need to do is record yourself reading your piece, save it as an MP3 file, and upload it at BBC Upload.

If Adam selects your piece to share, he’ll give you a call to find out a few details, and you’ll be able to hear your poem or story on his evening show Upload with Adam Crowther.

Adam aired my short story ‘Pressed Leaves’ on 11th December 2018. ‘Pressed Leaves’ captures a moment in time in which a young girl, Anna, helps her mother clear out the artist’s studio of the grandfather she’s never met.

Listen to me read ‘Pressed Leaves’ here. It’s at about 1 hr 13 min in. #fictionontheair

Apollo’s Offspring – a short story

Rook waterwalking2 by Judy DarleyYou may recall my #WritingPrompt from October, suggesting you draw on myths for inspiration.

Rathalla Review Fall 2018Another of my stories inspired by myths appears in the Fall 2018 issue of Rathalla Review. It involves an au pair, who happens to be a raven, and a mother who’s ex happens to be the Greek God Apollo.

I’m so pleased to see my work in this beautiful publication, and to find a home for this uncanny tale.

Click here and leaf through the issue to read it.

A short story – Milk and Other Lies

Bristol, Avon Gorge by Judy DarleyI’m thrilled to have had my very short story Milk and Other Lies published by SmokeLong Quarterly. I’ve had my eye on this excellent publication for a while, and I’m really pleased that this is the story they’ve chosen to publish.

I submitted my piece during a submission when students in the Amsterdam Creative Writing course got to have a say, and received the exciting news that they had chosen my story as their favourite during their week of guest editing for SmokeLong!

Also very happy that my story featured in SmokeLong’s weekly mail out, which means that if you subscribe to their newsletter, my words will have arrived in your inbox this morning 🙂

You can read my story here: http://www.smokelong.com/milk-and-other-lies/ 

Imaginative city

Waterstones Bristol. Photo by Judy DarleyBristol Festival of Literature begins on Friday 19th October and runs until Sunday 28th October, with a variety of imagination-stirring events taking place across the city. I’ve written about it for The Bristol Magazine, and can’t wait to dig into the riches promising to well up.

You can read my feature in the October print edition, or online here: https://thebristolmag.co.uk/word-on-the-street-bristol-festival-of-literature/

Jari Moate. Photo by Paul Bullivant

Jari Moate. Photo by Paul Bullivant

I’ve already got my tickets for two of the highlights I mention in the piece The first of these is Festival founder Jari Moate’s launch of his novel Dragonfly, taking place on Saturday 20th October at Waterstones, the Galleries. It starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are free but need to be booked here: www.bristolliteraturefestival.org

The second is the very last event of the festival – Finding the Positive –Dystopias and Utopias in a Changing Climate.

This CliFi (aka Climate Fiction) workshop is from 2-5pm on Sunday 28th October at Bristol’s YHA, and promises to offer insights into how we can share stories of our changing climate and inspire action in a positive way. I’m looking forward to soaking up plenty of inspiration!

Bristol Writers Group in Redcliffe Caves1. Photo by Paul Bullivant

Bristol Writers Group in Redcliffe Caves1. Photo by Paul Bullivant

Lots of other intriguing happenings are unfolding throughout the days of the festival, including Dark Confessions with Bristol Writers Group and friends. I’m one of the friends and looking forward to sharing my story Tunnelled in the setting that prompted it – Redcliffe Caves. Find out more and book tickets here.

And if you make it to anything on the Festival calendar, let me know how you get on!

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

A short story – Wriggler

Laugharne Castle by Judy DarleyMy bittersweet story Wriggler has been published in the October 2018 issue of the intriguingly named Ghost Parachute. It captures the moment when a mother recognises the hazards of the age her son has reached.

The picture above shows Laugharne Castle, a destination for my duo.

Here are the first couple paragraphs to give you a taste:

The suspension bridge tries to catch us in its wires as we drive from Bristol to Wales, chasing storm clouds as we go. “It’s like a spider with a gazillion legs,” Sam says, staring up through the sun roof.

I can’t help but smile at him. In those words I hear the little boy he used to be, just last year or the year before. Not that 12 is so very close to fully grown, but the perils he faces now seem disturbingly adult.

To read the story in full and see what other fab fictions this literary ezine has to offer, visit ghostparachute.com.

A short story – Not Every Wound Can Heal

Old Town Square, Prague by Judy DarleyI’m delighted to have my short story with a not so short title published by the excellent Spelk Fiction. Not Every Wound Can Heal went live on the stellar flash fiction site this morning. Prompted by a mis-remembered tale of a holy relic glimpsed in Prague church, it rings in at just over 330 words and begins:

A dark artefact hangs from the ceiling of the Baroque church. It resembles a bit of branch, or a stick covered in rags. Our tour guide tells us it’s a mummified arm.

Afterwards Tim and I each remember the story differently. He’s convinced it’s the relic of a saint. I’m sure it’s the limb of a thief who tried to steal jewels from a statue of the Virgin Mary, and that she came to life and twisted his arm entirely off.

Perhaps it’s not an arm at all.

I can’t get it out of my head. 

Read the full story Not Every Wound Can Heal here.

Mirror-themed fiction at Salon Soirées

Bloom and Curll interior cr Judy DarleyI’m excited to be sharing one of my stories at Salon Soirées’ mirror-themed evening on Tuesday 11th September. This cosy literary event takes place at the gorgeous Bloom & Curll Bookshop, 74 Colston Street, Bristol.

I’ll be reading my story Farewell Gifts, which was inspired by artist Gilly Mound’s painting Little House, pictured below. I wrote the story just after moving to a new home, and with love and loss on my mind. If you come along and listen to the story, I think you’ll understand what I mean.

Little House by Gilly Mound

Little House by Gilly Mound

Tickets are free, but limited, so book yours here. Doors open to the audience from 6:30pm for a 7pm start. Organiser Julia says: “Listenings will take roughly 2 hours, with a short interval between, and a chance thereafter to mingle, indulge in a delectable tipple, and find yourself a book treasure – please bring cash!”

As summer edges into autumn, I find that literary events become ever more enticing. Find out more about the Salon Soirées series here:

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