Writing prompt – longitude

Mouse and cat weathervane by Judy Darley. Shows a metal weathervane on top of a school against a blue sky.This mouse and cat weathervane sits on top of a primary school in my neighbourhood.

It’s been a strange year for schools, pupils and parents, with daily routines as changeable as the weather. There’s been a global sense of uncertainty that’s led to some feeling more like prey than humans are accustomed to!

Can you use this thought as a jumping off point to create a tale or artwork with themes of peril, daring and triumph?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – biodiverse

Dragonfly by Judy DarleyThis summer our small garden pond has been offering up treasures. Gigantic creatures have climbed from the depths, emerged glittering from their nymph exo-skeletons and whirred skywards like prehistoric helicopters.

It’s like watching a miracle unfurl. Any of these everyday wonders could prompt a tale, but I ask you to consider the magic of the pond itself. The biodiversity layered beneath the surface of the water is as rich as any forest, with extraordinary predators preparing for metamorphosis, and other wee beasties living out their lives.

Could you write or create a piece that showcases the importance of these wet ecosystems to our human-centric world? Write from the point of view of a human, water creature or even the pond itself, and if you delve into the darkness, draw some hope into your tale.

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – dig

Someone has been digging by Judy Darley. Shows a flowerbed with disturbed soil.We’ve had a mystery occurring in our garden at regular intervals, and often, but not always, late at night.

Someone has been digging in our flowerbed. Sometimes the hole is so deep and neat it looks like a human has been searching for buried treasure. Other times, a profusion of flies lets us know something had been depositing its own, ahem, treasure.

The area in question is now a tapestry of cut brambles, coffee granules and orange peel – my eco-attempt to deter excavators…

So what does this have to do with writing? Other than the obvious metaphors of excavating for treasure and uncovering, ahem, something else?

This week your challenge is to write a story or create some other imaginative work based on the idea of a mysterious act that keeps happening outside or inside a home, and is beginning to slowly drive the residents bonkers. Write it from the point of view of the residents or the perpetrators, and see how you can harness the emerging mystery to drive the characters’ development.

Alternatively, use this as a prompt to push further in your writing. What can you unearth if you really dig deep?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – tree

Victoria Park Black Poplar. By Judy DarleyOccasionally I see a tree that stops me in my tracks. Recently, it was this one in Bristol’s Victoria Park. I think it’s a black poplar. Its jaunty new leaves springing from those pollarded branches make it resemble a literary character.

Do you have a favourite tree, or one that you simply find beautiful? Can you make it the star of a satire, speculative story or other creative work? Perhaps two strangers meet beneath it, or perhaps its foliage or trunk hides a secret. Perhaps the shadow it casts offers a route to another world. Or could you write a satire about human society by focusing on the many species colonising a tree?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Submit your manuscript to Soft Skull Press

Sad Ghost Cereal cr Judy Darley

Soft Skull Press invites un-agented authors to submit complete manuscripts until 21st July 2021.

They describe themselves as “a home for projects that dissolve categories and hierarchies, provide an alternative to dominant narratives, and make room for new and unexpected ideas and feelings. We aim to create lasting and transformative relationships with writers, and to continually reimagine how a book can be written, published, and sold.”

They publish adult literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid projects. At this time they are especially seeking and encouraging submissions from BIPOC writers and underrepresented voices of any race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class, and physical or mental ability.

Authors of accepted submissions retain full copyright license to their work.

For your chance to be published by Soft Skull Press, upload your full manuscript and a statement of intent to their Submittable queue.

There is no submission fee.

In the ‘cover letter’ field, include:

  • A one-paragraph summary of your project
  • The total word count
  • A brief author bio
  • Your contact information

Please submit only one manuscript.

They welcome simultaneous submissions, but ask that if your work is accepted elsewhere, you withdraw your submission promptly.

They also advise: “Please send your work only if you feel it is ready to be read; we will not be accepting updated versions of the same work once submitted.”

Find full submission details here.

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.

Writing prompt – gap

Gap between houses and streets by Judy DarleyI love the gaps between things (houses, trees, ideas…) – they often offer a slightly skewed view that can lead your brain down an unexpected track.

In this particular slice between buildings and streets, I enjoy the shadow on the righthand wall. It seems to suggest a vast ship docking out of shot. What else might be occurring just beyond the camera’s frame? How can you use this to shape a story or other creative work?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – hybrid

Freshford bat-sheep by Judy DarleyI love hybrid writing that allows the reader to muse over whether the words before them comprise prose, poetry, or the enticing ‘other’.

It’s a categorisation, or rebuff of attempted categorisation, that creeps into other sources of inspiration too. Recently I contributed to a book of haikus about mixed-up sea and land creatures, which I rather enjoyed.

So when my hub and I strolled past this lamb, and my hub declared it a “bat-sheep” due to its extremely large ears, I wondered how I could spin that into a poem/prose hybrid piece of writing.

The rather more normally endowed lamp photobombing could be BatSheep’s sidekick. What animal hybrid would you dream up to scaffold a poem-tale around, and what enhanced skills might they show off?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – Unreal

Making friends at the Art Institute of Chicago. Shows woman in an art gallery standing with outsize sculpture of child. Photo by James HainsworthMy hub took this photo a while ago when we were visiting Chicago’s Art Institute. It’s one of the most exceptional art establishments I’ve had the pleasure of exploring.

Imagine waking to find yourself in a world where everything is a) larger than life, and b) slightly unreal. Would you embrace the opportunity of adventure or devote your energies to getting back to reality?

The fact this huge boy-child and I are wearing matching shoes only adds to the sense of the strange, in my opinion. I can’t remember what we’re both staring at, but I appear to share his amazement!

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Time to rev up for the Writers’ Weekend 2021

Butterfly cr Judy DarleyThe Writers’ Weekend 2021, formerly Winchester Writers’ Festival, runs from 24th-27th June 2021, and is your virtual opportunity to mingle with writers, agents and lots of other interesting literary types.

Authors Diana Gabaldon and Chris Riddell have been announced as keynote speakers.

Book for events with a wide array of novelists, including Robert Fabbri, Kate Mosse, Lissa Evans, Tracey Corderoy, MG Leonard, Derek Miller, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Helen Fields and Ness Wood, as well as talks from top literary agents on the craft of writing and how to get published. Learn, discuss, ask questions, be inspired and entertained, and meet other writers.

There are more than 600 opportunities to sign up for virtual one-to-one appointments and Group Chat rooms for topic-driven small-group discussion. This year look out for Writers’ Circles too. These virtual writing groups offer the chance for peer feedback.

The programme will close on Sunday evening with a panel discussion from international best-selling author Kate Mosse, novelist Abi Daré and literary agent Lucy Morris. Read all about it in the programme.

The Writers’ Weekend takes place from 24th-27th June 2021. Choose the package that suits you.

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.

Writing prompt – ladybird

Red ladybird on a red rosebud. Photo by Judy DarleyWith so much rain followed by an abundance of sunshine, everything around us is blooming, and that inevitably includes invertebrates. I’ve been struck by the sheer numbers of iggly wiggles besieging our roses, from vast number of greenfly and aphids to the ants farming and milking them for honeydew.

Happily, the juicy green critters have alerted a patrol of predators, including this beautiful crimson ladybird. Nature always has a solution for keeping things in balance.

Can you use this truth to seed an eco-optimist #clificlifi story or other creative work?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.