Enter The Bare Fiction Prize 2017

Almunecar cr Judy Darley

The excellent folks at Bare Fiction are inviting submission to their creative writing awards. This year Wayne Holloway-Smith judges the Poetry category (max 40 lines), Naomi Booth judges the Flash Fiction category (max 500 words), and Adam O’Riordan judges the Short Story category (max 3,000 words).

First, second and third prize winners in each category will receive £500, £200 and £100 respectively, plus two highly commended entrants will receive £25 each.

Fee per entry is £5 for poetry, £6 for flash fiction, and £8 for fiction, with a £2 entry discount for magazine subscribers.

There’s no theme, but bear in mind that the British periodical aims to “offer a platform for new creative writing across poetry, fiction and plays to encourage writers who are testing their boundaries to stretch themselves creatively.”

The deadline for all entries is 31 October 2017. Find full competition details here.

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award

MShed cr Judy DarleyAesthetica Magazine invites writers and poets to submit work into the Creative Writing Award.

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award celebrates outstanding short fiction and poetry from around the world. The deadline for entering the award is 31 August 2017.

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.

It costs £12 to enter the Poetry category and £18 to enter the Short Fiction category.

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. Unusually, submissions previously published elsewhere are accepted. You may enter as many times as you wish.

For full details, visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/creativewriting
.

A literary outing in Hong Kong

Mussel shells cr Judy Darley

I’m happy to announce that my short story Preservation has been selected for the Liars’ League Hong Kong night of literary performances on 29th May.

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.

The evening my story has been chosen for focuses on the themes Prophecy & History. Splendid!

Susan Lavender will be reading my story, which is great news as she previously read my tales Geese Among The Trees and Night Flights in Hong Kong.

The story was inspired by the fact various words about nature really have been excised from children’s dictionary 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 on 29th of May at Social Room, a loft style multi functional Hong Kong event venue “ideally located next to the Central Escalator.” If by some chance you happen to be in that part of the world that night, do swing by. It should be a fabulous evening!

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.

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2017 Short Story Competition

Beautiful skies, Victoria Park cr Judy DarleyThis annual competition is one of my favourites on the literary calendar, and well worth entering. Unlike previous years, 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 2017‘ and that you send it to competition@bloomsbury.com.

Your story must be no more than 2,000 words long. The closing date for entries is midnight on Monday 13th February, 2017.

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

Book review – How The Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman

How The Marquis Got His Coat BackI found this small, self-contained, beautifully presented little book in one of the immense and rambling biblio-temples of Hay and Wye. I read the first page, then put it back, whereupon it leapt from the shelf and prostrated itself at my feet.

Quite frankly, who was I to refuse? It was the perfect experience to start my journey into the world of Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

As the story begins, the Marquis is chained to a pole in a room that is slowly filling with water. He is also still recovering from a slit throat, and death, as well as the loss of his beloved coat “the colour of a wet street at night.”

Gaiman’s power lies in his ability to thrust you so deeply and so fast into a tale that its landscape becomes your own. In this case, we’re in a London as seen through a twisted, tarnished mirror, where Mushroom People are less feared than the Shepherds of Shepherds Bush, and there’s an actual Elephant at the Castle. A Floating Market drifts from notable location to notable location – we first encounter it in the halls of the Tate Gallery, with the food court in the Pre-Raphaelite Room.

Entranced yet?

It’s a dizzying ride of a tale, full of treachery, desire, and flocks of folks whose greatest yearning is not to be alone.

There’s something truly special about a short story bound in book form – a complete reading experience in only a few thousand words. This treatment puts immense pressure on the tale itself. It needs to be strong enough to stand solo, to earn that slim, stand-alone space on a shelf (even if it does have a tendency to throw itself at your feet). There needs to be enough energy writhing on the pages to consume, be it only for a brief time. The reader must emerge reeling slightly, satisfied by an excellent tale impeccably told. In short (pun intended), they should feel they’ve read an entire novel, simply in a very condensed and efficient form.

In How The Marquis Got His Coat Back, Gaiman achieves all of that and more. I propose a new genre, of which this mini masterpiece can be counted as one of the first – flash novels. What do you think?

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.

Reading at Novel Nights

Mussel shells cr Judy DarleyOn Thursday 16th June, Novel Nights is on at Bristol’s Belgian beer bar (got that?) Strawberry Thief. I’ll be there, reading my short tale Preservation.

It looks set to be an excellent evening, with readings from a number of local writers in the first half, and then a discussion with author Babs Horton about the risks and riches of  mining your own life for your writing inspiration.

Do come along if you can. Tickets are £5 on the door, and there will be opportunities to ask questions and find out things to further your own writing. Plus, the night’s talented organisers Grace and Helen will let you know how to submit your own writing for the chance to read at future Novel Nights’ events.

Merrow Cave – a short story

Querty34-coverI’ve long been fascinated by mermaids, and the complex mirror images they can reflect back at us of human limitations and fallibilities.

A while ago I wrote a story exploring concepts of mortality and old age, using a relationship between a land-dweller and his merwife as the starting point. Rather than writing it directly from the couples’ POVs, I introduced a young boy as the protagonist, relating him from his inland home to the windswept isle where his granddad and aunt live.

Merrow Cave was one of those rare tales that seemed to almost write itself, as though carried by a tide I had little control over.

So I’m really pleased that my story has found its home in issue 34 of the prestigious Querty Magazine, a beautiful literary journal now in its 21st year of existence. It’s published at University of New Brunswick Department of English in Canada. Being separated as we are by the Atlantic Ocean seems wonderfully synchronised with the story’s themes.